In an early October report

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In an early October report, the analysts noted that the dollar rally had stalled against the G10 currencies. Despite weakening a bit this month, the dollar has been trending higher since mid-October. The Bank of England’s effective exchange rate data shows that at 86.54 as of Dec. 13, the dollar is approximately 6 percent stronger than it was at the beginning of the year. Credit Suisse expects the trade-weighted dollar index to rise to 90.70 over the next three months and to 95.99 over the coming year.

The analysts say a likely divergence in monetary policymaking among the world’s largest central banks in the New Year should give the rally traction. Consider the following three examples:

–While pundits expect the Fed to start reducing quantitative easing measures either this month or next, the Bank of Japan is widely expected to step up its own asset-buying program early next year.

–With inflation at worryingly low levels, the European Central Bank is not only unlikely to raise rates, but could actually ease further.

–The mining investment boom that had thus far helped Australia to avoid most of the negative effects of the Great Recession has just about run its course. Credit Suisse’s analysts expect mining investment to peak at about 8 percent of GDP this year. The Australian economy is due for a major rebalancing, and if the value of the Aussie doesn’t fall on its own, the Reserve Bank of Australia will come under more pressure to push it down by cutting interest rates again. The central bank already made 25-basis-point cuts in both May and August of this year, leaving the current cash rate at 2.5 percent.

The Greenback Bull Market Is Coming

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By: Suzanne McGee

Published: December 17, 2013

It will make a fashionably late appearance, but the dollar rally is expected to arrive in 2014. We’ve been waiting for it since the Federal Reserve first broached the idea of tapering in May, and interest rates began moving higher as a result. Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are about 25 percent higher now than they were at the start of this year. Ten-year Treasury yields are up a full percentage point over the same period.

Historically, periods of higher interest rates have been linked very closely to strength in the greenback. But these cycles are multi-year periods, and what happens during any given six- or 12-month timespan within that time frame might not be the same as what happens over the cycle as a whole. So, even though the dollar’s value has moved up, down and sideways at various points this year, Credit Suisse’s foreign exchange analysts say in a recent report called “2014, The Year of the Dollar” that a larger trend is visible on the horizon. A multi-year bull market in the U.S. currency will begin in the new year, according to their forecasts.

The mini-state as an actual state (with a seat at the UN, etc.) is almost exclusive to Europe. Elsewhere it is primarily a legacy of imperialism. The British version, for instance, sprinkled statelets which now serve dubious ends (the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Gibraltar itself, etc.) across the globe. Over in Asia, the commercial entrepot of Singapore is a state but Hong Kong is not, while Goa was absorbed by India and Macao survives as a casino paradise.

In Europe, where the mini-states are concentrated, we can begin to draw a chain of analogies. It starts with those frontier-hugging outliers. It continues with states that are somewhat larger but also have their own peculiar tax and banking laws (Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta) and then onwards to Switzerland, the grandest rogue jurisdiction on the continent. Nothing stops us from advancing one step further and scrutinizing the particular tax arrangements in Ireland, or Austria, or the Netherlands, or even the City of London. The broader point is that an absence of tax harmonization makes it easy for the states of Europe to undercut one another. It would be ideal to modify the behaviour of the strongest countries, but perhaps more practical to start with the smallest.

Charles de Gaulle quickly forced Prince Rainier of Monaco to capitulate when he resisted applying an income tax on French citizens. Mini-states like Gibraltar do not sustain themselves on the basis of their own strength, but rather thanks to the protection of their patrons.

Is Gibraltar British or Spanish? Gibraltar is anti-British and anti-Spanish, no matter which flag it flies. These mini-states have no usefulness for the European (or global) population. They exist to serve the elites of the states that protect them. In the interest of an ever-closer union and a fuller democracy, they should all be abolished.

Abolish Gibraltar

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The conservative governments of Spain and the United Kingdom recently escalated tensions over Gibraltar, home of the Barbary macaque monkey. Mariano Rajoy, mired deep in a corruption scandal, needed to divert attention from his woes and chose the tired formula of provoking a territorial conflict. The spat is reminiscent of the battles of generals Tapioca and Alcazar in the world of Tintin. This past week, thousands of heroic Spanish users patriotically swamped a poll in the Telegraph asking whether Gibraltar is British or Spanish. Unfortunately, the Telegraph posed the wrong question. What we should be asking is “Why do privileged enclaves like Gibraltar continue to persist?

Prior to the Reform Act of 1832, the UK parliament was riddled with rotten boroughs. These were constituencies that had representation in spite of having a very small number of electors, on account of the population dwindling or moving away. The most notorious example was constituency of Old Sarum, with two MPs representing just seven voters. These overrepresented districts, controlled by a wealthy elite, stood in the way of the emergence of democracy.

Present day Europe is characterized not by rotten boroughs but by rotten states. So-called countries like Andorra, Liechtenstein, San Marino and Monaco are not historical nations but rather quirks of fate that have persisted down through the centuries. They serve as bases for smuggling, tax evasion, money laundering, banking secrecy, discount shopping and hence elite tourism.[1] It is a peculiar coincidence that the map of Western Europe is dotted by states or statelets (we can add the Channel Islands to the mix) nestled between major states.

Roger Federer

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It was a very difficult year. It may have begun well with the semi-final in Australia, and it ended well. But it would be better to forget the months from March to October, despite the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and the win in Halle. My back problems began at Indian Wells in March; after the match against Ivan Dodig, I shouldn’t have kept playing, the games against Stanislas Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal were too much. After that, I fell behind with my training and was unable to catch up again because my back problems soon returned. In the summer too, it would have been better to have given up in Hamburg and Gstaad. These problems cost me a lot of time and threw me off course.

MF: Was 2013 a lost year?

RF: No year is lost. In the circumstances, it was actually an interesting season. It’s no joke being injured, of course. But I had to get through it, I had to question everything. Along with the back problems, I had other setbacks of a kind I had seldom had in the previous ten years. But nonetheless it was an interesting experience – to see how different people reacted, and how I dealt with this situation myself. Sometimes, I could hardly move properly, and yet was sharply criticized by some people.

MF: After always reaching at least the semi-finals at 36 Grand Slam tournaments in a row, you lost in the second round at Wimbledon to Sergiy Stakhovsky. Was that the low point of your year?

RF: Of course, that defeat was one of the biggest disappointments of my season. I went to Wimbledon convinced that I could win the tournament for the eighth time. But it wasn’t a complete surprise for me. Because I hadn’t played really well in Paris. Then Wimbledon was the start of the bigger problems.

Palestinians see

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The Palestinians see the Jewish settlements as an obstacle to achieving a viable state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. Most countries consider Israel’s settlements there illegal.

Yaalon also told Yediot Aharonot that the latest U.S. peace plan for the region was “not worth the paper it was written on” because it contained “neither security nor peace.”

“I live and breathe the conflict with the Palestinians,” he said. “I know what they think, what they want and what they really mean.”

Kerry is expected to return to Israel within days as part of his peace push.

Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Army Radio that he agreed with the contents of Yaalon’s interview, but added that despite disagreements there was no need to resort to personal insults.

Abir Sultan / Associated Press

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“Secretary of State John Kerry came here very determined and operates based upon an unfathomable obsession and a messianic feeling,” Yaalon was quoted as saying. “Throughout the recent months, there is no negotiation between us and the Palestinians, but rather, between us and the Americans. The only thing that can ‘save’ us is that John Kerry will get a Nobel Peace Prize and leave us alone.”

Abir Sultan / Associated Press

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon suggested that John Kerry should “leave us alone.”

The state department’s stinging response added that questioning Kerry’s motives and distorting his proposals were “not something we would expect from the Defense Minister of a close ally.”

Yaalon later clarified his remarks, according to Haaretz, describing the U.S. as Israel’s “greatest friend.”

The United States is seeking to broker an agreement on a “two-state solution” in which Israel would exist peacefully alongside a new Palestinian state. Kerry wants the sides to agree to a framework for an interim accord ahead of a deal in April, which would launch another year of talks aimed at a full-blown peace treaty.

A framework would touch on all the main issues, including security, the future of Jerusalem and the fate of refugees.

By Paul Goldman and Henry Austin, NBC News

TEL AVIV, Israel — The state department shot back Tuesday after Israel’s defense minister branded Secretary of State John Kerry “messianic” just days before he is due to visit the country.

“The remarks of the Defense Minister if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defense minister, was quoted by the Yediot Aharonot newspaper on Tuesday as saying that the only thing that could “save” Israel was for Kerry to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and “leave us alone.”

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out Federal Communications Commission rules that require Internet service providers to give all traffic equal access through their networks.

Although it acknowledged that the F.C.C. has some authority to regulate Internet service, the court said Tuesday that the commission overstepped its authority when it imposed anti-discrimination rules on Internet service providers, because the commission had previously exempted those companies from that type of regulation.

The decision, by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was the second case the F.C.C. had lost before the appeals court over its authority to regulate Internet service providers.

The ruling means that, under current law, broadband providers can offer companies that provide Internet content — ESPN or Facebook, for example — faster service to provide their content to consumers, at a price.
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It is unclear how the F.C.C. will respond. The commission could overcome the ruling if it decided to reclassify Internet service as a utility, much like telephone or electric service. Consumer groups have advocated for that solution, but the commission has faced fierce opposition from Congress and heavy lobbying by broadband providers against doing so.

Justin Bieber detained as deputies

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Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are serving a felony search warrant at the Calabasas residence of singer Justin Bieber in connection to an investigation into an egging incident at his neighbor’s home.

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said eight people are being detained inside Bieber’s home, including the singer.

“They are being cooperative,” Whitmore said. “We will seek to question Mr. Bieber in connection with a felony investigation.”

Whitmore said no arrests had been made. It is common practice to temporarily detain people while a search warrant is being served.

The egging incident marks the latest clash between the pop star and his neighbors, who have accused him of throwing loud parties and speeding through the neighborhood.

The neighbor called authorities last week, saying someone was pelting his home with eggs, said sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Nagelmann of the Malibu/Lost Hills station.

The neighbor was home with his daughter at the time, Nagelmann said, adding that deputies who went to the scene found no one outside.

Whitmore said the egging incident was determined to be a felony because several thousands of dollars worth of damage occurred.

Bieber has been at the center of a number of controversies that have caused friction with his neighbors in the wealthy, gated community where he lives.

In a grainy video posted on TMZ that purportedly documents the incident, a man standing in the doorway of a home exchanges expletives with a voice outside before telling someone in the house to call authorities.

“I got another one for you, actually,” the person outside yells back in the video, before apparently hitting the house with more eggs.

Sheriff’s deputies said video footage and photos had been submitted as evidence.

Nagelmann said the neighbor told deputies he had seen Bieber throwing the eggs. The offense in the initial police report is listed as misdemeanor vandalism, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities said it was unknown what prompted the egging.

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