Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Introducing Google Brain Search for mobile

Ever had a word on the tip of your tongue but just couldn't remember it? Or perhaps blanked on a person's name in a socially awkward situation? Or even suffered memory deterioration due to ordinary aging or questionable life choices? If so, Brain Search for mobile may be for you. Using our new CADIE technology, we can now index the content of your brain to make it searchable, thus bringing you aided retrieval of memories. Check out this video to see how it works:



Your phone already has an antenna, which can pick up wireless signals. CADIE technology modifies the input wavelengths so it can read brain waves. Go to the Brain Search App (here on a computer or here on a phone.) If you bring your phone to your forehead, your phone can index your brain, making it searchable. 

Since your phone is now modified to read brainwaves, you don't even have to type your search. Put your phone to your forehead and think your query, then click on "Search me". This is helpful in situations where you don't want onlookers to know what you're searching for, so you can feel comfortable asking personal things such as "What did I eat that's making me so gassy?" or "Did I ever go out with that girl? She looks vaguely familiar." And, since CADIE's artificial neural networks run faster than those of a human being, it is faster for her to search through your thoughts and memories than for you to do it yourself.

Brain Search is available for the US, UK, France, Germany, and Italy, and on a number of different devices.
  • On Android and iPhone devices, Brain Search runs in the browser, taking advantage of HTML5 and Gears technologies.
  • On Windows Mobile devices, make sure you download and install the latest version of Google Mobile App. Click the Panda icon (CADIE's choice, don't ask us) to get to Brain Search.  
  • On Blackberry devices (US and UK only), make sure you download and install the latest version of Google Mobile App. Type "Brain Search" in the search box. You'll get a link to Brain Search in the search suggestions below. 
To get started on any of these, go to google.com on your mobile device, and click the Brain Search link.

Don't forget. Brain Search.


Posted by Effie Seiberg, CADIE team
Any source

KFH MD believed to be stepping down: The Star

By YAP LENG KUEN
PETALING JAYA: Kuwait Finance House (KFH) Malaysia managing director and CEO Datuk Salman Younis is believed to be stepping down soon, apparently following a board meeting of the bank last week.
Sources said Salman, who was seconded from the bank’s headquarters in Kuwait to set up the Malaysian operations, will likely be assigned back to Kuwait.
Meanwhile, KFH Malaysia deputy CEO Ab Jabar Ab Rahman will be acting CEO as the hunt is on, possibly among local bankers, for a suitable head.
Contrary to market talk, the sources said KFH Malaysia was not downsizing.
But due to the difficult operating environment, it will be slowing down on expansion of new business in Malaysia, Salman had indicated in an interview early last month.
A pioneer among foreign Islamic banks in the country, KFH Malaysia had been slated to jointly develop property projects in Kuala Lumpur and Iskandar Malaysia.
Two weeks ago, Salman was quoted in a news report saying that real estate only formed less than 15% of its total investment portfolio. He had expressed his intention to diversify the bank’s investments into the healthcare and food industries.
In its December ratings outlook, RAM Ratings had maintained a stable outlook (AA2/P1) on the bank for which gross non-performing financing ratio stood at only 0.64% at the end of the third quarter of last year.
The bank recorded pre-tax profit of RM37.9mil for the same period compared with RM30.46mil in the previous corresponding period. For the 14 months of financial year 2005, KFH Malaysia had registered a pre-tax profit of just RM1.84mil.
Shareholders’ funds stood at RM1.09bil for the third quarter compared with RM747.16mil previously. (THE STAR, Wednesday April 1, 2009)Any source

The Detroit quagmire & Treasury's absolute power

Latest news on the Detroit automakers and the proposed "resolution authority" for the Treasury. Let's get right to it...

Starting with the whole automaker bailout/bankruptcy quagmire theme - Deal Journal says, "Mr. Obama, don't let Detroit be your Vietnam":

"Congratulations. It took a couple of months in office, but you finally got something right. GM and Chrysler are bankrupt, after all.

Not that it took any particular genius to see it. But it did take some gumption for you to come out and say it. Now prepare yourself for your next feat, the reinvention of Detroit.

And here are some words of advice: Do not let Detroit destroy your Presidency. It will, if you let it."

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports President Obama has concluded that bankruptcy is the best option for GM and Chrysler. Here's an intro from that piece:

"President Barack Obama has determined that a prepackaged bankruptcy is the best way for General Motors Corp. to restructure and become a competitive automaker, people familiar with the matter said.

Obama also is prepared to let Chrysler LLC go bankrupt and be sold off piecemeal if the third-largest U.S. automaker can’t form an alliance with Fiat SpA, said members of Congress who have been briefed on the subject and two other people familiar with the administration’s deliberations..."

Does anyone know why (aside from obvious political considerations) the US auto makers are still hanging around in this limbo state?

The government has taken billions of dollars in taxpayer funds and allocated it to the dying US automakers, preventing earlier bankruptcy filings or restructurings, even as the companies race to cut costs and stay afloat for the next few months.

Which brings me to our next subject: Deal Journal's evening reading centers on the question of absolute power at the Treasury.

The proposed legislation for "resolution authority" may give Geithner and the Treasury a "nuclear option" to seize any financial company whose failure might pose a systemic risk.

More on this from Real Time Economics:

"The Obama administration last week proposed draft legislation for a “resolution authority” that would effectively permit the government to liquidate or restructure large systemic financial institutions. If passed by Congress, these powers would allow the governments to treat nonbank financial institutions more like regulated deposit-taking banks.

This authority offers a clear path to recapitalize institutions without using taxpayer money and therefore avoiding some dimensions of moral hazard but, if implemented poorly, the existence of this “nuclear option” can cause panic in financial markets and substantially delay recovery..."

The US government is now heavily involved in the domestic auto industry and the non-bank financial industry. Is this a positive or a negative? Your insights and comments are appreciated.Any source

Bill Fleckenstein on PPIP, inflation

MSN Money's resident contrarian, Bill Fleckenstein, has some thoughts on inflation and the Treasury's trillion-dollar toxic assets plan (aka, "PPIP") in his most recent MSN columns.

In his latest piece, "Bank plan a cure-all? Don't bet on it", Fleckenstein notes that the Treasury plan to rid banks of their most troubled assets may prove feasible if the government can convince them to start shedding a certain percentage of their "impaired" assets.

However, the very well-known problems of the financial sector may soon be overshadowed by problems in the larger economy:

"But I believe that as bad as the financial problem is, the economic problem is worse. I don't see how the Treasury's program and other facilities would alleviate the economic problem.

None of these maneuvers to plug the holes in the dike of the United States' and the world's financial systems will necessarily do all that much for the overall economy. Thus, as the pure financial crisis recedes from center stage, the economic crisis lies front and center."

Fleck also has some thoughts on the dollar, inflation, and the ultimate fate of fiat money. Here's an excerpt from, "Got gold? You're right on the money":

"I'd like to take a few moments to talk about the Federal Reserve's latest act of irresponsibility in a continuing series of irresponsible actions (i.e., buying $300 billion in longer-term Treasurys, an additional $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities and -- just for grins -- $100 billion of government-sponsored-enterprise debt).

As a friend noted, Wednesday was the functional equivalent of Pearl Harbor for the U.S. dollar and fiat currencies in general. He said -- referencing that people might pay less for their mortgages -- that they'll pay much, much more for everything else. I would certainly agree..."

Check out the full piece for Fleck's summary of how we got into this mess, and why quantitative easing won't solve our problems.

Related articles and posts:

1. Interview w/ Bill Fleckenstein - FSN via Finance Trends.

2. On PPIP and Geitner's amazing power grab - Finance Trends.Any source

Google Ventures

E' notizia recente il lancio di Google Ventures, un'iniziativa di venture capital che ha l'obiettivo di promuovere l'innovazione e incoraggiare le attività di società tecnologiche promettenti.
Gli investimenti interesseranno diversi settori, tra i quali: Internet, software, clean-tech, bio-tech e healthcare.

Per maggiori informazioni o per proporre i vostri progetti vi consigliamo di visitare il sito: www.google.com/ventures


Any source

Dia d’hivern

Doncs sí, la pluja torna a fer acte de presència a la nostra vila, i amb ella, també el fred, ja que la temperatura a hores d’ara (14 hores) no passa dels 10ºC (9,7ºC).

Fins ara portem recollits 4 litres i tot sembla indicar que tindrem una tarda i també un parell de dies, passats per aigua. La baixa, que es troba ubicada just davant de la costa valenciana, s’està “enrroscant” (recordar que les baixes giren en sentit antihorari) aportant nuvolositat de mar cap a terra. I es que ens trobem dins d’una zona d’inestabilitat ubicada en tota la mediterrània occidental amb diferents baixes actives que estan portant precipitacions en tota la vessant mediterrània i també neu en cotes de només 800 metres, tot i que durant la tarda anirà pujant progressivament fins els 1400 metres.


Aquesta situació es mantindrà ben bé fins divendres. I és que l’ubicació de dues baixes (una ubicada entre Catalunya i Sardenya i la bossa freda en alçada al sud-est de la península) aniran basculant al llarg de la setmana aportant-nos precipitacions.Any source

Top 500 Islamic Financial Institutions

Joe Divanna, managing director, Maris Strategies

As the banking industry descends into ever-deeper gloom, the more ethical, risk-sharing approach offered by the Islamic finance industry is attracting an increasing amount of attention. The Banker's Top 500 Islamic Financial Institutions ranking lists the sector's key players.

By Stephen Timewell & Joseph DiVanna

During the past four decades Islamic financial institutions have evolved from mere concepts into fully fledged realities. And in recent years there has been a new dynamism as this fledgling financial industry has proved increasingly attractive, not only to the world's 1.6 billion Muslims but also to many others who are beginning to understand the unique aspects of Islamic finance.

While the credit crunch creates turmoil throughout the global banking industry, the impact of certain risks and risk management strategies have been highlighted. The effects of taking excessive risks have led to horrendous banking losses for many and have also emphasised the different philosophical approaches between Islamic and traditional or conventional Western finance.

This does not mean that Islamic institutions do not take risks, they certainly do. But with risk sharing being a fundamental tenet of Islamic finance, the credit crunch has highlighted core differences in financial philosophy, leading many to suggest that Islamic finance represents not only a flight to quality but also a more ethical approach to banking.

How to gauge the impact of this new style of banking, especially in this extraordinary financial period, is complex. But basic data is essential and a clear understanding of the Islamic financial spectrum is necessary to provide a reliable global overview of this growing industry.

This month The Banker publishes its second comprehensive analysis of the Islamic financial industry, incorporating 500 Islamic institutions, including banks, finance companies and insurance (takaful) companies from 47 countries. In order to provide a verifiable benchmark, The Banker has sought, with the help of Cambridge consultancy Maris Strategies, to establish the size of sharia-compliant assets across all institutions worldwide which provide Islamic financial services (see Methodology Box ).

This second Top 500 Islamic Financial Institutions (TIFI) listing demonstrates both the robust size and strong growth of sharia-compliant assets (SCAs). This 2008 report shows that the sharia-compliant assets of the Top 500 have grown by 27.6% since the report of November 2007 to reach $639.1bn, continuing the healthy expansion of Islamic institutions of recent years. The 2007 report showed 29.7% annual growth in SCAs, reaching $500.5bn.

Critical growth

This second listing reflects not only critical growth in assets but also important improvement in the level of disclosure. While disclosure still has a long way to go across all types of Islamic financial institutions, the number of firms reporting sharia-compliant assets rose by 57 to 280 this year, from 221 in last year's report. But, no matter how welcome this increase may be, there are clearly still 334 institutions not reporting SCAs and a number of international banks with Islamic subsidiaries, such as Standard Chartered Saadiq, not willing to provide basic information. Nevertheless, while the listing stays at 500, the number of registered institutions continues to grow, reaching 614 this year, compared with 524 last year.

The key developments in Islamic finance over the past year have been the growth in new institutions, especially Islamic investment banks, in the Gulf and also in London. Institutions such as Noor Islamic Bank in Dubai and Al Hilal Bank in Abu Dhabi, both opening with large capital bases, are providing the new face of Islamic finance. But the influence of this new financial form is spreading well beyond the Middle East and Muslim countries. Not only are there new institutions, such as European Finance House and Gatehouse Bank, setting up in London but HSBC Amanah, the Islamic subsidiary of global giant HSBC, has jumped to 10th place in The Banker's table, from 14th last year, after a significant 56.2% rise in SCAs.

The attraction of Islamic finance is growing in the non-Islamic as well as the Islamic world, and the global credit crunch has helped to stress its advantages in terms of lowering risk and creating alternative financing structures. Mohammed Amin, UK head of Islamic finance at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says: "I am aware of several UK companies, which would otherwise borrow conventionally, who are talking to Islamic banks regarding funding. The credit crunch has had much less impact on Islamic banks' ability to lend compared with conventional banks."

Into the mainstream

Also, the interest in Islamic finance by the major global financial institutions has helped bring it into the mainstream. This can be easily seen in the Bloomberg league tables for Islamic finance (including both Islamic bonds and loans) where almost half of the leading 20 players are major international institutions. And while this year's Top 500 $639.1bn total in SCAs is miniscule compared with the $90,256bn amassed by The Banker's Top 1000 World Banks, there are huge opportunities in this young market.

"The rise of Islamic banking may indeed be one of the most important developments in the global financial services business this decade," says Douglas Johnson, CEO of New York-based Calyx Financial. "Certainly these institutions help to integrate and expand worldwide economic development, which is never a zero-sum game." Part of these global developments could come in the form of sovereign sukuks (Islamic bonds) from countries such as the UK, which is studying their issue. It could also boost London's role as an Islamic financial centre. "Sovereign sterling sukuk, issued with short maturities of up to 12 months, will meet a real need that London Islamic banks and takaful have for managing liquidity, and my expectation is that the study will ­eventually reach a positive conclusion," says PwC's Mohammed Amin. "If so, the first issue may take place in 2009, after legislation to eliminate the stamp duty land tax cost that would presently arise on issuing sukuk based upon leases of UK land and buildings, which was consulted on over the summer."

Close analysis

In analysing the $639.1bn Top 500 market, the six states of the Gulf Co-operation ­Council (GCC) – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – provide the largest regional segment and also the largest growth in the 2008 report. Institutions from the GCC grew by a staggering 47.5% to reach $262.7bn. The non-GCC states of the Middle East and north Africa (MENA) region, which are dominated by Iran, also expanded significantly, rising by 40.4% to reach $248.3bn.

Together, the GCC and non-GCC MENA states account for an increasingly dominant share of the Islamic financial institutions market with 80% in the 2008 report compared to 70.9% in the 2007 report.

Asia, led by Malaysia, which grew by 32.3% to reach $67.1bn and the third biggest country with regards to Islamic finance, is the third largest region in the world again but its level of SCAs has declined significantly this year. This was due partially to restating of assets in Pakistan and Brunei. Asia's share of the market fell to 13.5% but analysts expect strong growth from Pakistan and Indonesia, which have relatively low SCA levels given their high Muslim populations.

The Australia/Europe/America grouping expanded by 60.6% to $35.1bn, 5.4% of the market, but growing through the UK's rapid expansion in Islamic finance partially via HSBC Amanah.

In country terms, Iran again has the largest level of sharia-compliant assets, at $235.3bn, more than double that of the next nearest country in the rankings, Saudi Arabia at $92bn. The Iranian banks and authorities claim their institutions are 100% Islamic, a view that is not generally shared in the industry. Saudi Arabia and Malaysia say their SCAs make up only 31.1% and 22.9% respectively of their total assets, hence their SCA figures are much smaller than those of Iran. The leading countries remain broadly the same as last year: Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and the UK are the next five in the listing.

Examining the Top 500 listing, unsurprisingly, the Iranian banks dominate the leading positions, accounting for 10 out of the leading 25 institutions, which are led again by Bank Melli Iran, with SCAs of $48.5bn. The big mover among the top players in the report is Kuwait Finance House, which increased its SCAs by a huge 70.3% to $37.2bn to move into second position. Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank moves up into third place with growth of 18.7% to $33.3bn.

Geographical analysis

Of the leading 10 banks, six, led by Bank Melli, come from Iran; the others are Bank Saderat, Bank Mellat, Bank Tejarat, Bank Sepah and Bank Keshavarzi. Dubai Islamic Bank moved up to eighth from ninth place and the UK's HSBC Amanah moved from 14th to 10th.

Looking ahead, the growth in banking and finance in the MENA region, along with the absence of serious damage from the global credit crunch, provides some assurance that recent high growth rates of sharia-compliant assets approaching 30% will be maintained. But even with lower projected growth rates of 25%, which seems justified by the listing data, SCAs of about $800bn in 2009 and $1000bn in 2010 look likely. And this growth only reflects modest expansion in the industry – the upside could be considerably more.

METHODOLOGY

Last year's Top 500 Islamic Financial Institutions' listing was a bold first step to set a benchmark for the world's Islamic financial industry. This year, the list has been re-examined and supplemented through various credible sources, including central banks, public and private agencies providing advisory services to the Islamic financial institutions. All the financial details of the listed institutions have been updated to the best of our knowledge.

The Banker regards sharia-compliant assets as the primary index in compiling the Top 500 listing. We are aware that not all challenges in developing a universal and comprehensive platform to demonstrate the industry's state will be overcome by applying sharia-compliant assets as the guiding principle. To some extent, it will undermine our understanding of the contribution made by non-bank financial institutions, such as investment banks and insurance companies in the market. However, we believe that this is the best available approach to illustrating the entirety of the market at this early stage. Efforts have been made to maintain consistency of financial details. Annualised foreign currency rates provided by the International Monetary Fund's international financial statistics are used when converting local currencies to US dollars. Going forward, our intent is to work with those involved in the Islamic financial market to provide a platform to improve our Top 500 listing.

Any source

Gmail Labs: funzioni sperimentali e un pizzico di follia

L'anno scorso abbiamo lanciato Gmail Labs come campo di prova per funzionalità nuove e sperimentali progettate dagli ingegneri di Gmail. Fin dall'inizio i Gmail Labs sono stati molto popolari tra gli utenti di Gmail in lingua inglese, e gli utenti nel resto del mondo, Italia inclusa, hanno spesso richiesto di potervi accedere nella propria lingua. Siamo perciò molto felici di annunciare che ora i Gmail Labs saranno disponibili anche nella maggior parte delle lingue supportate in Gmail.

I Gmail Labs consentono di personalizzare il proprio account Gmail aggiungendo una o più funzionalità ancora in fase sperimentale, in base ai propri interessi o alle proprie curiosità. Le funzioni disponibili al momento in Gmail Labs sono più di venti, e includono features davvero utili, come la 'Posta in arrivo multipla' (che consente di tenere sott'occhio due o più elenchi di messaggi email), o idee un po' più pazze come 'Old Snakey', che permette di prendersi una pausa tra un'email e l'altra e giocare una partita di 'Snake' premendo il tasto '&'.

Per attivare i Gmail Labs sul proprio account basta fare clic su 'Impostazioni', quindi sulla scheda 'Labs', e selezionare le funzioni che più interessano.

Naturalmente, siccome tutte quelle di Gmail Labs sono funzioni sperimentali, ricevere le vostre opinioni è fondamentale. Se, dopo aver attivato una o più funzioni di Gmail Labs volete inviarci suggerimenti e impressioni, vi preghiamo di farlo utilizzando questo modulo. Per lo stesso motivo, alcune delle funzionalità di Gmail Labs potrebbero non funzionare correttamente in alcuni casi: se dovesse succedere, sarà sufficiente visitare questo link.

Grazie e... buona sperimentazione a tutti!

Any source

Monday, March 30, 2009

Más de 75 l/m2 en 4 días

“Hasta el 40 de mayo no te quites el sayo” refrán típico español que nos viene a demostrar el carácter que tiene la primavera en el Sureste peninsular. Una estación muy variable en cuanto al tiempo atmosférico se refiere y que nos puede hacer pasar desde el veranillo con días espléndidos de Sol y altas temperaturas, al más puro invierno en apenas dos días. La lluvia y el frío se adueñaron del pasado fin de semana en nuestro municipio. En menos de 48 horas, pasamos de la manga corta al abrigo, como si de un retroceso al mes de Febrero se tratara. La lluvia comenzó a caer con cierta intensidad a partir de la tarde del pasado Sábado, hasta hoy, acumulándose nada más y nada menos que 75,2 litros por metro cuadrado en mi Observatorio Meteorológico de Orihuela, cuando la media de precipitación mensual para Marzo, en Orihuela, es de tan sólo 24,0 mm.

Ya saben que mm = litros por metro cuadrado

La Borrasca sigue va poco a poco retirándose hacía el interior del Mediterráneo, por lo que las precipitaciones irán cesando durante la jornada de hoy, a la vez que las temperaturas irán recuperándose durante los próximos días...


Animación de satélite donde se puede ver la borrasca girando sur de la Región de Murcia. Esta secuencia de imágenes esta tomada entre las 12:15 y las 14:00 horas del lunes 30 de Marzo de 2009, con 15 minutos de separación entre ellas.



Animación de satélite donde se puede ver la borrasca girando sur de la Región de Murcia. Esta secuencia de imágenes esta tomada entre las 22:15 y las 00:00 horas del lunes 30 de Marzo de 2009, con 15 minutos de separación entre ellas.
Any source

Into the lion's den

The Franco-British Council invited me to a large seminar in London yesterday on the Common Agricultural Policy. It was a very interesting day, although it was somewhat disconcerting to be asked questions in French about the policy from its defenders. Those present were a mix of academic and practitioners.

The meeting was conducted on Chatham House terms, but it gave an interesting indication of both current French and British thinking on the future of the CAP. Over the next week or so, I will reflect on some of the arguments put forward. The overall atmosphere was one of constructive dialogue, although one French speaker had to get in a dig about Britain not having learnt anything from BSE.

Much of the discussion focused on Pillar 2 issues in terms of rural development and how the CAP could be developed to meet the challenge of climate change. Indeed, one argument put forward from the British side was that the distinction between the pillars had become unhelpful and what was needed was a blended rural and environmental policy.

I wouldn't claim that the French participants necessarily bought into this, but I think there was an acceptance that there had to be debate about the underlying principles and goals of the CAP and without this one would not be able to arrive at better policy.Any source

Mobile internet usage and useful mobile ads

Last December, those of you who responded to our 100th mobile blog post said that you wanted more editorial content and mobile industry insight. Here are a couple of recent mobile-related articles that you might find interesting from Google executives.

The first article went out yesterday on TechCrunch from Vic Gundotra, our VP of engineering for Google's mobile and developer products. Vic talks about the nature and prerequisites of surging mobile internet usage. Straight-forward and flat-rate data plans, modern mobile web browsers, and easy access to mobile apps -- that's what you want, right? This chart, for instance, compares mobile search traffic from one carrier (MetroPCS) that offers a simple, flat-rate data plan with a larger carrier that does not offer a comparable plan.

The second article was published today on MediaPost from Doug Garland, our VP of product management for mobile advertising. Doug offers suggestions on how to make mobile advertising work and describes the benefits of experimenting with new opportunities.

As always, feel free to leave questions and comments below or in our forum.

Any source

Previsión Meteorológica para el partido de fútbol: España Vs Suecia

Mañana por la tarde a las 18:45 horas en el Estadio Municipal de los Arcos, se va a disputar un partido de fútbol histórico para la ciudad. Se van a enfrentar en un partido amistoso dos Selecciones Sub-21: la Selección Española contra la Selección Sueca. Como me consta que multitud de personas van a acudir al estadio a presenciar el partido en directo, sobretodo del término municipal de Orihuela, he creído conveniente hacer una pequeña previsión para que ustedes puedan ver las condiciones meteorológicas que van haber durante el partido.

Temperatura:
Temperatura estimada a las 18 horas: 14,0ºC
Temperatura estimada a las 19 horas: 13,5ºC
Temperatura estimada a las 20 horas: 13,2ºC
Temperatura estimada a las 20:30 horas: 12,8ºC

Viento:
Viento flojo con rachas moderadas de componente Norte-Noreste (NNE). El viento hará que la sensación térmica sea menor.

Precipitaciones:
Este es el factor más complicado de pronosticar para mañana. Hay tanta inestabilidad en las capas medias y bajas de la atmósfera que en cualquier momento podría llover. De todas maneras, me voy a mojar, y analizando detalladamente varios modelos de predicción meteorológica (que por cierto, practicamente todos indican precipitaciones) creo que no lloverá durante el partido.

Estado del cielo:
Cielo muy nuboso o cubierto.


Disfruten del partido.

Any source

Le CFR : rencontres sur la Géoingénierie.


Le CFR (Council on Foreign Relations - think tank américain) a organisé le 5 mai 2008 à Washington DC des rencontres intitulées :

"Géoingénierie unilatérale à l'échelle planétaire".

source : http://www.cfr.org/project/1364/geoengineering.html

Les quatre tables rondes avaient pour thème :

1. Science et technologie de la géoingénierie.

2. Élaboration d'une politique étrangère de régulation de la géoingénierie.


3. Planification des étapes à venir.


4. Géoingénierie et gouvernance mondiale.




On peut télécharger sur le site cfr.org un document préparatoire intitulé "Géoingénierie unilatérale" introduisant les débats (14 pages) :

* en PDF : GeoEng_Jan2709.pdf
* en html : GeoEng_Jan2709.html

Résumé - Traduction du document :

***

"Géoingénierie unilatérale"

Page 1 : Résumé.
- Contrairement à la réduction des émissions de gaz à effet de serre, qui pour être efficace doit être entreprise de manière multilatérale par tous les grands pays émetteurs, la géoingénierie peut être élaborée rapidement et unilatéralement par un parti unique, à un coût relativement faible.
- Bien que présentant des risque environnementaux (acidification de l'océan, destruction des récifs coralliens, changements dans la composition des écosystèmes terrestres) la géoingénierie pourrait être nécessaire pour éviter ou inverser certains changements du climat ou l'élévation du niveau des mers synonymes de catastrophes pour des centaines de millions de personnes.
- Cet atelier mettra l'accent sur les stratégies visant à réguler les essais et le déploiement de systèmes de géoingénierie, en encadrant leurs éventuelles conséquences indésirables. Nous verrons s'il est possible de limiter la géoingénierie à un plan d'urgence international qui serait déclenché dans le cas de catastrophes climatiques importantes.


Page 2 : Rappel sur la théorie du réchauffement climatique lié à l'augmentation de gaz à effet de serre d'origine humaine.


Page 3 : Techniques possibles de géoingénierie :

* injection dans la stratosphère de particules réfléchissant la lumière. (page 4)
* création de nuages artificiels dans la troposphère. (page 5)
* placement en orbite d'objet réfléchissant ou atténuant les rayons du soleil. (page 6)
* modification des surfaces sombres de la terre telles que les forêts en surfaces claires (prairies, couvertures neigeuses) absorbant moins la chaleur.

Le document indique en particulier les moyens permettant la diffusion de particules dans l'atmosphère : roquettes, ballons ou flotte d'avions. ("... a fleet of high-flying aircraft. " page 4)


Page 7 : Impacts environnementaux possibles.


Page 9 : Du danger d'arrêter un programme de géoingénierie une fois commencé.


Page 10 : Développements qui inciteraient à utiliser la géoingénierie :
Apparition possible de "surprises climatiques" telle que :
* hausse rapide du niveau des eaux due à la fonte inattendue d'une grande partie du Groenland.
* hausse importante des températures due à la libération du méthane contenu dans les terres gelée de l'Arctique.


Page 11 : Que peut-on faire ?
* Élaboration de traités internationaux.
* Création de normes sur la géoingénierie.

***


Une rapide analyse :

Le CFR est un think tank américain qui a pour but de conseiller la politique étrangère des États-Unis en proposant des orientations et des textes de réflexion. Cette organisation regroupe républicains et démocrates, issus du monde politique, des médias, ou de l'industrie. Son influence est dite très forte.

La notion de systèmes de géoingénierie est donc en voie d'être introduite dans le monde politique comme réponse aux changements climatiques. La question qui se pose aux responsables de ces programmes est de justifier de manière raisonnable l'utilisation de techniques potentiellement dangereuses en créant des régulations, des normes ou des traités.
Il est en particulier crucial pour ces responsables d'acclimater le monde politique à l'existence du programme d'épandage de chemtrails déjà commencé depuis de nombreuses années. On peut noter à ce propos le chapitre page 9 : "Du danger d'arrêter un programme de géoingénierie une fois commencé".

Le document attire l'attention sur la notion de "surprises climatiques" ("climate surprises", page 10) qui pourraient déclencher une réaction du monde politique et de l'opinion publique en faveur d'un plan d'urgence de géoingénierie. Or le passé nous montre que de nombreuses crises "surprises" ont été orchestrées afin d'obtenir la réaction appropriée des politiques et des populations en faveur de plans de sauvetage élaborés à l'avance (voir les diverses crises énergétique, terroriste, économique et bientôt climatique).

Cependant au fur et à mesure que le politique sera sensibilisé à ces questions, il sera également sensible à la dénonciation de ces programmes de modification climatique par les citoyens informés et concernés.


----------
Sources (en anglais) :
http://www.cfr.org/project/1364/geoengineering.html
http://cryptogon.com/?p=7709

sur le CFR :
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_on_Foreign_Relations
http://www.voltairenet.org/article14344.htmlAny source

Market news: Monday's reading list

Here are some of the news items and blog posts that I'm checking out today.

We've got: political drama and executive defections at GM, AIG gifts profitable trades to the major banks, a look at the recent stock market rally, and more. Have a look.

1. Obama says GM, Chrysler have last chance to survive - Bloomberg.

See also: Obama gives GM, Chrysler ultimatums; GM's Wagoner to resign - Greentech Media.

2. Bear Market Rally - Carl Swenlin.

3. Market bottom? "Follow the Money" - Janice Dorn, Trading Doctor.

4. AIG was responsible for banks' profitable months - Zero Hedge.

See also: AIG funnels taxpayer funds to counterparties - Finance Trends.

5. Bankruptcy is economic stimulus - Ron Paul.

6. Revisiting the global savings glut thesis - Doug Noland.

7. The Dangers of Printing Money (photo essay) - Time.

8. Giving in on mark-to-market accounting rules - Bear Mountain Bull.

9. Taken for the ride of our life - Best Minds Inc.

In addition to the above articles and posts, you may also want to check out our weekend posts (Dambisa Moyo on Charlie Rose and "Speaking Truth to Power") if you haven't already. Cheers.Any source

BRAZATO OCCIDENTAL 30 MARZO



Pico Brazato Occidental (2.719m), desde el Balneario de Panticosa

Lunes 30 marzo 2009

Pedro Oliva y Jorge García-Dihinx


Bella estampa invernal tras los 15 cm caídos este sábado.
Sol, sin vientos y fresco (Iso 0º a 1.500m). Nieve polvo en caras norte.
Abrimos huella por encima del Ibón inferior de Brazatos y luego sobre el gran embalse de Brazato. Ideal orientación NW que mantiene la nieve sin trasnformar. No se ven placas de viento. Manto estable.
Increíble vista hacia las murallas de Ordesa con mar de nubes místico sobre Gavarnie.
Cima en algo más de 3 horas y descenoso en 1 hora, con esquís puestos hasta el Balneario.
Hemos tenido suerte de pillar un día así. Con ésta me despido hasta la Semana Santa, que ya me vale este año (Can't believe it...)

Jorge















































































Any source

Islamic banks grapple with liquidity risk profile issues


By Habhajan Singh
Islamic banks are grappling to figure out the actual state of their liquidity risk profiles, an area that has shaken banks in more advanced economies under the current financial market downturn.
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has admitted that local Islamic banks have a challenge before them. It commented on this matter in the Financial Stability and Payment Systems 2008 report released on March 25 with its annual report.
It also noted that the lack of empirical evidence to support behavioural assumptions has posed a challenge for Islamic banks to accurately estimate the extent to which the unique contract features of Islamic financial transactions may affect their liquidity risk profiles.
The key word here is the unique mix of risks due to the different nature of Islamic finance products. Liquidity risk — defined as the failure of a financial institution to meet expected and unexpected cash flow needs as they arise — is inherent within the financial intermediation function assumed by banking institutions and is a central component of the prudential regulation and supervisory framework, the central bank said in the report.
The sound management of liquidity risk is both critical to avert a threat to the solvency of a banking institution, as well as a loss of confidence in the broader financial system which can amplify the systemic nature of liquidity risk, it added. Naturally, the situation is not peculiar to Islamic banks in any one jurisdiction.
Studies on risk management for Islamic banks have acknowledged the presence of the unique mix of risks. In his work entitled 'Risk characteristics of Islamic products: Implications for risk measurement and supervision', Dr V Sundararajan said Islamic financial institutions have to put in place appropriate risk measurements that recognise the specific mix of factors within Islamic financial contracts and the extent of risk sharing embedded in the contracts.
During an Islamic finance conference in Kuala Lumpur in 2007, he said that liquidity risk management of Islamic financial institutions is constrained due to the limited availability of tradable Islamic money market instruments and a weak systemic liquidity infrastructure.
Sundararajan is currently the director and head of financial sector practice at the Washinton based Centennial Group. He was previously the deputy director of the International Monetary Fund's monetary and capital markets department.
In providing an example, BNM pointed out the use of mudharabah contracts. Here, principal amounts are not guaranteed and returns are dependent on the performance of underlying assets. This should, in principle, reduce the funding liquidity risks faced by Islamic banks.
"However, in practice, Islamic banks face a considerable level of competitive pressure on the profit rates of the mudharabah accounts which are being offered.
"The dominance of trade based financing contracts involving assets being held in the form of fixed and illiquid assets or inventories, such as through the murabahah, ijarah, or istisna' contracts, also potentially reduce the balance sheet liquidity," it said in a special report entitled 'Liquidity Risk Supervision and Challenges in Liquidity Risk Management.'
It was one of the several special commentaries in BNM's Financial Stability and Payment Systems Report, which aims to provide an assessment of the risks and challenges faced by the Malaysian financial system.
On the liquidity challenge, the central bank said that it is being addressed 'through ongoing initiatives to better understand the behavioural characteristics of cash flows for different Shariah contracts and their impact on balance sheet liquidity, towards supporting the more effective identification, measurement and management of liquidity risk'.
The development of a wide range of funding options in the Malaysian Islamic Interbank Money Market have also been instrumental in supporting the liquidity needs of Islamic banking institutions, it added.
These include interbank placements based on mudharabah type contracts, selland-buy-back agreements as an alternative to repurchase agreements, and the Islamic derivatives such as the Islamic rate swaps and the Islamic FX forwards.
Providing some figures, the central bank report said total outstanding instruments increased from RM55.2 billion in 2001 to RM211 billion in 2008, while the turnover of securities traded on the Islamic Interbank Money Market increased from RM39.7 billion in 2001 to RM185.2 billion in 2008.
"The growing acceptance of Islamic finance as well as the emergence of more Islamic institutional investors such as takaful operators and Islamic fund managers in recent years have also widened sources for Islamic funding, thus facilitating the diversification of funding strategies for Islamic banks," it said.
During the year, BNM noted that the Islamic finance sector 'continued to record strong performance', with the Islamic banking sector achieving an average annual growth of 20% over an eightyear period.

(This story appeared in The Malaysian Reserve on Mar 30, 2009. The Malaysian Reserve is a daily business/finance newspaper published out of Kuala Lumpur, with a sectoral page on Islamic finance on Mondays, edited by Habhajan Singh) Any source

What now for local legal firms with Middle East operations?

What is the fate of legal firm which have recently made inroads into the Middle East market in search of a slice of the pie within the Islamic finance business?
The main factors persuading firms to leap toward the Middle East are the proximity to the large client base and the region's importance for new industry developments, says the Asia Legal Business magazine.
It noted that Islamic finance practices of firms within East Asia have been eyeing the Gulf as a growth strategy for some time and asked if recent global financial events will put their ambitions on hold.
As Asian authorities have intensified their pursuit of a larger slice of the Islamic finance market, the region's law firms have followed suit — some of them even establishing offices in the Gulf region, it noted.
"The Middle East will recover from the economic downturn faster than other parts of the world, and this alone provides enough incentive for forward-thinking law firms to relocate or expand," said Farid Hussain, partner heading the Dubai office of Zaid Ibrahim & Co.
"Here, the business communities' exposure to and knowledge of Islamic finance is growing, so this will also create demand for work," he told the magazine.
Last year, it noted Zaid Ibrahim & Co became the first law firm within Asia approved to operate in the region's leading finance hub, the Dubai International Financial Centre.
In the article entitled 'Islamic finance: Gulf strategies vary in uncertain times', the magazine reports that another firm keen on expanding to the Middle East, but taking a steadier approach, is Azmi & Associates.
"We will do so only after consolidating and enhancing our position here in Malaysia and within the South-East Asian region, something we intend to pursue in the next two years," the firm's managing partner, Azmi Mohd Ali was quoted saying.
Muthanna Abdullah
, managing partner of Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill was also quoted in the magazine as saying: "[Expansion] meets the need to be close to the Gulf clients — who require far more personal contact. It is their high liquidity which drives the Islamic finance market. Certainly, proximity to the Gulf is also needed to understand the developments of Islamic finance better."

(The Malaysian Reserve, Mar 30, 2009, p31)Any source

CIMB to raise US$2.5bil sukuk

By B.K. SIDHU
CIMB Islamic, the global Islamic banking and finance franchise of the CIMB Banking Group, has 19 mandates from clients in Asia, including the Middle East, to raise nearly US$2.5bil from Islamic capital markets.
It is also set to launch an infrastructure fund worth nearly US$500mil in the region in the next three months.
With equity markets shaken by the global financial crisis, growth segments such as Islamic finance are being tapped globally and Malaysia is seen as a stable place to raise Islamic funds.
“One deal is for a RM5bil sukuk issue and this is for a sovereign-related entity in the Gulf States.
“The other fund-raising is for US$1bil for a multi-currency Islamic bond issue, also by an issuer from the Middle East,” CIMB Islamic chief executive officer Badlisyah Abdul Ghani told StarBiz.
He added that the remainder were predominantly Malaysian and regional mandates.
Badlisyah declined to name the clients for the 19 mandates, merely saying they had good credit ratings to meet investors’ thirst for quality issues.
He expects to launch all the issues this year.
“There is ample demand for quality sukuk issues. Subject to market conditions, we intend to launch them this year in Malaysia, including the RM5bil sukuk and US$1bil multi-currency issues by the foreign entities,” he said.
Last year, CIMB Islamic raised a RM1bil sukuk for the International Development Bank (IDB).
It has been one of the more prolific and successful investment banks in bringing in foreign issuers to tap the Malaysian Islamic debt capital market.
CIMB Islamic also did the World Bank and International Financial Corporation issuances, which set credible benchmark for the market.
In Singapore, together with CIMB-GK Securities, CIMB Islamic raised S$1bil for City Development Ltd (CDL) in Islamic multi-currency medium-term notes, setting in motion the establishment of an indigenous corporate sukuk market in the island state.
Raising funds such as sukuk was part of the firm’s debt origination business, Badlisyah said, adding that CIMB Islamic was the largest issuer of sukuk in the world, commanding about 20% market share.
Badlisyah believed there was a lot of liquidity in the ringgit market and a big appetite for Islamic issues, given the turmoil in equity markets.
He dismissed the notion that oil-rich Middle Eastern countries did not need funding.
“There is a need for funding everywhere, including the Middle East. With a huge liquidity crunch in US dollar bonds, which are their traditional market, many are now looking at alternatives including the ringgit,’’ he said.
Apart from debt origination, CIMB Islamic has been active in the fund management business.
It won awards and accolades for its creative structuring of products in this field, with the latest being the Best Islamic Fund Management House from Asia Asset Management magazine.
CIMB Islamic operates in 10 countries through CIMB Group’s regional offices such as London, Singapore, Brunei and the Middle East.
Asked why Malaysia was favoured over other countries as a issuance hub for Islamic papers, Badlisyah said: “Malaysia is recognised globally as an Islamic finance hub because we have all the necessary infrastructure needed for the industry to operate efficiently and effectively.
“Sukuk issuers always find Malaysia a sound and easy place to issue their Islamic papers. Kudos to the Government for developing and promoting the industry.”
On the infrastructure fund, Badlisyah said: “The seed capital for the fund is from regional and Middle Eastern institutional investors and it will invest in infrastructure projects in Muslim countries in Asia.”
However, he declined to elaborate on the fund but simply quipped: “Just watch this space.”

(The Star, Mar 30, 2009)Any source

Unicorn Malaysia eyes regional opportunities


By Alfean Hardy
Unicorn International Islamic Bank Malaysia Bhd (Unicorn Malaysia), which generated a profit for its first year of operation, is confident of building on this success in 2009 as it seeks to position itself as a hub for its parent's Asia Pacific expansion strategy.
The bank, a unit of Bahrain's Unicorn Investment Bank BSC, was granted an international Islamic bank licence by Bank Negara Malaysia in December 2007 to conduct a full range of nonringgit investment activities under the Malaysia International Financial Centre (MIFC) initiative.
For its fiscal year ended December 2008, the bank posted a net profit of RM812,546 at bank level, while at group level, it posted a net profit of RM777,572.
At a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur on Mar 26, Unicorn Malaysia chairman Datuk Vaseehar Hassan said, although the profit is not big, it is a morale booster given the fact that 2008 was the bank's start-up year.
"We started operations in January 2008 and, for the first eight months to nine months, we were still recruiting people," he said. "In fact, if it wasn't for the financial meltdown, we had some signed mandates on hand and we would have ended 2008 with a much better result. Some of these mandates had to be either deferred or aborted.
"Moving on to 2009, we have some work in the pipeline and we feel our 2009 results will be even better. We're in a resonably good position in spite of the financial crisis," he added.
Vaseehar said Unicorn Malaysia's 2008 performance was driven by its financial advisory, cross-border transactions and placement. This year, he said the bank would be focusing on the medium-sized — US$50 million (RM181.24 million) to US$100 million — sukuk issues and cross-border transactions.
"There's plenty of demand for these kinds of transactions from the SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) and mediumsized corporations," he said, adding that it was its parent's strategy to make its Malaysian operation as a hub to penetrate the Asia Pacific market.
Unicorn Malaysia CEO Khalid Bhaimia said under the MIFC initiative, international business rather than domestic business was encouraged and that being able to do both cross-border transactions and placements in its first year was encouraging. On whether the current global situation would be a stumbling block to such operations, he said that international transactions were still on-going.
"The scale may be different, there may be not very many large-scale transactions because of the liquidity situation," he said. "However, we're not a very large bank for that purpose but, so far, in our segment of the market we believe that there are opportunities and we're seeing such opportunities now.
"But you won't see the billion US dollar cross-border transaction that you saw in 2007," he added.
Reuters adds: Unicorn expects to do US$400-US$500 million of transactions this year, with a strong market projected for medium-sized deals.
"Treasury is key element for our business here. Without funding support, it's difficult to go out and do business.

(This story appeared in The Malaysian Reserve on Mar 27, 2009. The Malaysian Reserve is a daily business/finance newspaper published out of Kuala Lumpur, with a sectoral page on Islamic finance on Mondays, edited by Habhajan Singh) Any source

Thailand lures Middle East investment with companies free of pork, booze and usury

BANGKOK — To court Muslim investors, Thailand’s business world is showcasing firms the prophet Mohammed could condone.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand, currently in a tailspin, is hoping to attract moneyed Muslims in the Middle East and in its own backyard. Their pitch, however, doesn’t just rely on promises of high returns. These firms, the exchange says, will benefit Muslims’ bottom line — and their conscience as well.
Debuting next month, Thailand’s “Sharia Index” is a selection of firms vetted by scholars who can navigate both the Qur’an and a balance sheet. Each has been deemed free from violations of Sharia, or Islamic holy law. Companies connected to pork, tobacco, booze — or even the defense industry — are immediately disqualified.
Then comes the hard part. Real expertise is needed to weed out businesses that violate the Sharia’s prohibition on excessive interest. Known as “riba” in the Qur’an, it’s comparable to the Judeo-Christian concept of “usury.” Avoiding interest is the foundation of Islamic financing.
“Dabbling with ‘riba’ is a large sin,” said Habhajan Singh, who tracks Islamic finance trends for The Malaysian Reserve newspaper, where he is associate editor. “For Muslims to partake in the modern financial world, they have to remove that element of interest.”
The vetting process eliminates any business that profits from interest — such as banks — in favor of companies profiting from concrete assets.
The idea has made its way into the modern financial world. Thailand’s stock exchange follows exchanges in Singapore and Hong Kong in offering an Islam-vetted stock index. Its new Sharia index will be calculated by the U.K.-based FTSE group.
Santi Kiranand, who heads market development for Thailand’s stock exchange, said the Sharia index is mostly a push for more wealthy Middle East investors. But it also opens doors for investors in Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia.
Though predominately Buddhist, Thailand also is home to many Muslims, though most are concentrated in poorer southern provinces along Malaysia’s border.
“Even though we have a lot of Muslims, and they should be our targets too, we have to diversify our investor base into those other regions of the world,” Santi said. “The Middle East doesn’t invest enough in our capital market.”
Santi and a small team are currently planning a “road show” through the Middle Eastern financial centers Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, he said.

REST of the story, see GlobalPost (March 5, 2009)Any source

i-VCAP to launch four Islamic funds this year


i-VCAP Management Sdn Bhd, now a full-fledged Islamic fund management company, plans to launch three to four Shariah compliant funds this year. This is to add to its flagship fund, MyETF-DJIM25 (MyETF Dow Jones Islamic Market Malaysia Titans 25), Asia's first Shariah compliant Exchange Traded Fund.
i-VCAP has recently obtained approval from the Securities Commission to operate as an Islamic fund management company in line with its business objective.
The company had been operating under the licence for general fund management services even though the company has been undertaking exclusively Islamic fund management activities since its establishment in 2007.
i-VCAP CEO Zainal Izlan Zainal Abidin said in a statement on Mar 26the company's business objective to provide Islamic fund management services is driven by its aspiration to fulfil the demand within a segment of the fund management industry which the company believes is still under-served.
"It reflects the company's confidence in the potential size and growth of the Shariah compliant fund management segment, in which i-VCAP intends to play a significant role", he added.
At the same time, its focus on developing an Islamic fund management business is consistent with the Government's efforts to enhance Malaysia's position as a leading Islamic financial centre.
In this regard, the infrastructure and regulations supporting the Islamic financial and capital markets in Malaysia are relatively well developed, with work for further enhancement being done on an ongoing basis, thereby creating a conducive environment for i-VCAP to develop its business.
MyETF-DJIM25, listed on Bursa Malaysia on Jan 31, 2008, allows investors to gain simultaneous exposure to 25 leading Shariah compliant companies listed on the local bourse. The fund is currently the largest Shariah ETF in the world in terms of net asset value, which is about US$140 million (RM507.44 million).

(The Malaysian Reserve, Mar 27, 2009, P9)Any source

Risparmiare sui costi e semplificare i processi aziendali grazie al Cloud Computing

"Oggi se un'azienda vuole arricchirsi tecnologicamente deve acquisire vari componenti, installarli a casa propria, integrarli in un sistema preesistente e staffare i propri dipendenti affinché il sistema funzioni e crei valore. Questo modello é disastroso. Impone investimenti altissimi e altrettanto alti costi fissi, spesso influenzati da finte necessità di ridondanza o dimensionamenti oltre misura. Questa situazione è ideale per i classici fornitori di tecnologia che lucrano sui benefici derivanti da investimenti sovra-dimensionati".
(Nicholas Carr, The Big Switch)

Per troppo tempo le tecnologie usate in azienda sono state progettate pensando più a ciò che dovevano fare che a chi doveva usarle. Applicazioni disegnate da esperti per esperti, non per gente comune. Il Web ha ribaltato questa situazione. Tutto è partito dalle persone, o meglio, da come e per cosa esse usano Internet. Le persone e le loro aspettative sono infatti sempre le stesse, anche quando si trovano al lavoro. Perché mai le persone dovrebbero imparare a usare tecnologie diverse per fare sostanzialmente la stessa cosa anche se in due contesti diversi?

In questo nuovo scenario di tecnologia pervasiva, cresce dunque l’insofferenza verso le applicazioni aziendali complesse e difficili da usare. La strategia di Google per il Cloud Computing è pensata proprio per rispondere a queste esigenze, portando sul posto di lavoro le stesse applicazioni che la gente usa con soddisfazione nella vita privata.

Il Cloud Computing è la nuova frontiera dell’informatica ed è destinato ad avere effetti decisivi sulla vita delle persone e delle aziende, semplificando le applicazioni e la fruizione di tutti i servizi. Questo nuovo paradigma è basato sulla possibilità di utilizzare le risorse di calcolo in modo simile a come si usa l’acqua o l’energia elettrica, ovvero attraverso una rete di risorse distribuite accessibili a livello globale e gestite in modo centralizzato dal provider del servizio. L’utente deve semplicemente “aprire il rubinetto” o “premere l’interruttore” per usufruire del servizio di cui ha bisogno ovvero, nel caso dell’IT, per avere a disposizione la potenza di elaborazione e le applicazioni.

Spinto dall’evoluzione di Internet, il cloud computing introduce uno schema secondo il quale qualsiasi dispositivo dotato di connessione a Internet in qualsiasi parte del mondo può divenire il punto di accesso istantaneo ai servizi e alle applicazioni residenti su potenti macchine (server web installati presso le server farm del provider del servizio). Uno schema dove il software non si compra e si installa, ma si utilizza eventualmente dietro pagamento di un canone e dove anche la sicurezza dell’email e la protezione dalle minacce del Web sono fornite sotto forma di servizio e gestite a monte dal provider anziché sulla rete aziendale. Ciò comporta risparmi enormi in termini di risorse tecniche, consumo di banda, hardware e software. Sia sul fronte consumer sia su quello business, Google è stato il pioniere di questo nuovo concetto di fruizione della tecnologia on demand o sotto forma di servizio, dove il computer diviene, di fatto, la Rete.

Secondo alcune stime recenti, il modello online consentirebbe alle aziende un risparmio sui costi di supporto pari a 300 euro l'anno per ciascun dipendente. Fatti due calcoli, se solo il 30% delle PMI italiane passasse al cloud computing, il risparmio globale raggiungerebbe gli 830 milioni di euro l'anno! Impressionante, vero?

Spostando dati e applicazioni “sulla nuvola”, il modello Cloud consente di realizzare economie considerevoli. Cosa di particolare rilevanza in un periodo come quello attuale, dove per le aziende diventa inderogabile concentrarsi sul proprio core business. Il taglio dei costi di gestione e le iniziative finalizzate a migliorare l'efficienza e l'efficacia delle operazioni aziendali sono alcuni dei primi passi utili per il rafforzamento delle proprie difese. In questa difficile contingenza economica, quale azienda non gradirebbe poter risparmiare 300 euro l'anno per ciascun dipendente?

L’offerta per il cloud computing di Google è denominata Google Apps. Potete trovare tutte le informazioni qui.

Any source

THAI: IBT to raise up to RM724m via Sukuk

BANGKOK • The Islamic Bank of Thailand (IBT) plans to raise between US$70 million to US$200 million (RM724.82 million) via Sukuk Islamic bonds in Malaysia and Middle East countries by this year.
Malaysia's second largest banking group CIMB, and its newly acquired BankThai, had approached the IBT to launch the Sukuk bond in Malaysia.
IBT chairman Professor Somchai Virunhapol said this would be the first time Thailand was issuing Sukuk bonds, adding that other targeted countries besides Malaysia were Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
"We have already held talks with CIMB on the scope of cooperation, but no figures have been discussed as yet. Similarly, we received very good response from the Middle East countries during our visit there a month ago," he said on the sidelines of the Third Thailand Islamic Finance Conference on Mar 26.
According to reports, in 2007 alone, CIMB arranged more than US$4.96 billion worth of Islamic bonds globally, equivalent to 16% of the world market, and of which US$4.67 billion was issued in Malaysia.
The global Islamic financing products are estimated at US$1 trillion (RM trillion), with annual growth of between 10% to 15%. Somchai said there was big potential for Sukuk bonds and other Shariah compliant financing products in the country.
The Thai government, he added, had estimated that about 20% of financing for a projected US$100 billion investment in mega projects over the next ten years, would come from such financing products.
About 50% of the investment is expected to go towards the transportation sector, namely for the construction of new railway tracks and trains, subway lines and airport, as well as 25% each for the energy and other sectors. According to Somchai, even though the world was experiencing an economic crisis which had affected the conventional financing system, the Islamic bond market remained strong, especially in the cash-rich Middle East countries.
He also said that the IBT planned to open three new branches this year from its current 26, adding that it currently has over 100,000 savings account holders.
"There are about eight million Muslims in Thailand and we are tapping a niche market with very big potential," he explained.
Somchai, however, said that the Thai Finance Ministry had to waive taxes such as the specific business tax and capital gains tax before Sukuk bonds could be issued.
The IBT was established in 2003 to offer financial services in compliance with Islamic law and to serve the country's Muslim population. The Thai Finance Ministry is the largest shareholder with a 48.54% stake in the bank. — Bernama (Mar 26, 2009)Any source

MARC to offer syariah ratings soon, reports Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd (MARC) will introduce syariah-compliant rating services in the second half of this year as part of its diversification plan. Chief executive officer Mohd Razlan Mohamed said the service had not yet been offered anywhere in the world, except Bahrain.
MARC invested a 5.7% stake in a syariah-compliant rating agency in Bahrain in January 2008. “This service will contribute significantly (to company earnings) in five years.
“We are targeting more syariah governance for Islamic entities such fund management and fund broking, as more investors want additional level of comfort (though rating from independent party),” Razlan told reporters after MARC AGM on Mar 26.
Currently, the company derives about 90% of its income from rating services for private debt securities and the remainder from the ratings of foreign currency, financial institution and takaful as well as from the provision of educational courses. The agency has about 35% share of the domestic bond rating market, according to Razlan.
MARC’s move is in line with Malaysia’s aim to be a global Islamic financial hub. Early this year, the Securities Commission granted an additional three Islamic finance licences to foreign fund managers Aberdeen Islamic Asset Management Sdn Bhd, Nomura Islamic Asset Management Sdn Bhd and BNP Paribas Islamic Asset Management Malaysia Sdn Bhd.
Razlan said MARC expected new issuances of ringgit-denominated bonds to drop to between RM25bil and RM30bil this year. However, with the setting up of the Financial Guarantee Institution, expected to be fully operational in May, borrowers with ratings lower than “A” – which comprise 40% of the domestic bond market – might make a return, he said.
In addition, he said, the reactivated Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee would help borrowers with funding requirements of below RM100mil.
MARC group vice-president for fixed income research ratings, Wan Murezani Wan Mohamad, sees corporate bond defaults rising this year to a worst-case scenario of 4.1% from 1.98% last year. In 2007, the default rate was 4.8%. On gross domestic product growth this year, group chief economist Nor Zahidi Alias said he expected a 1.5% contraction. (The Star, Mar 27, 2009)Any source

Bank Islam eyes RM300m deposits from Al-Awfar

Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd expects to rake in RM300 million in deposits for its latest product, Al-Awfar savings and investment account, by financial year ending Dec 31, 2009.
Its general manager of consumer banking division, Khairul Kamarudin, said the bank believed the product would be well received by Malaysians as it was the first of its kind savings-i and investment-i account that offered account holders a chance to win cash prizes of up to RM100,000.
"The product is in accordance with the Shariah requirements and the processes are highly transparent as there are no elements of interest (riba). "There are no participating fees and the prizes are fully funded by the bank," he told reporters after the launch of the Al-Awfar product in Kuala Lumpur on Mar 25.
Khairul said the bank aimed to attract 200,000 depositors for the Al-Awfar product.
"We also hope to reach out to customers of all races, reflecting Bank Islam as a bank for all," he said.
The bank's retail deposits currently stood at RM5.8 billion. Al-Awfar, which means "prosperous investment", is based on the Mudharabah concept, a contract of profit sharing.
The profit sharing ratio for the Al-Awfar savings account is 98% for the bank and 2% for the customer, while that for Al-Awfar investment account is 70%:30%.
For savings account, the minimum deposit is RM100 while the minimum deposit for investment account is RM1,000 for onemonth tenure and a minimum of RM500 for a three to six month tenure.
Bank Islam will arrange for cash prize draws every quarter. The customers would be entitled to one opportunity for a prize draw with every RM100 deposited into the account.
Established in 1983, the country's first Islamic bank has to date, a network of 93 branches and more than 500 self serviced terminals nationwide. Its consumers base currently stood at 2.3 million. — Bernama (Mar 25, 2009)Any source

INDONESIA: Late 2009 Target for OCBC’s Islamic Unit

By Yessar RosendarPT Bank OCBC NISP Tbk expects to launch a Shariah banking unit in the second half of 2009, with full operation expected to start next year in three branches in Jakarta, Surabaya, East Java Province, and Bandung, West Java Province. Parwati Surjaudaja, the bank’s president director, said on Monday that OCBC NISP, which is 74.73 percent controlled by Singapore’s OCBC Bank, had allocated Rp 100 billion ($8.7 million) for the Shariah unit and projected capital expenditures of Rp 2 billion to Rp 3 billion.
“The process is quite long,” Parwati told a press conference.
“We predict that it will take six months to prepare and probably will be fully operational next year.”
The Rp 100 billion to be injected is in line with a new central bank regulation on Shariah banking issued on Friday that requires a minimum capital level of at least that amount. The regulation also requires that Shariah directors and monitoring council members be approved by the central bank.
Parwati said that OCBC NISP’s Islamic banking unit would be the 20th launched in Indonesia and would be focused on developing consumer products.
Discussing the bank’s overall performance, Parwati said that tough macroeconomic conditions would probably limit 2009 credit growth to between 5 percent and 15 percent.
“That’s lower than last year’s target of 20 percent, the pace is slowing,” she said.
“We hope economic conditions will recover in the second quarter.”
OCBC NISP cut interest rates twice in February and is now offering consumer and commercial loans at between 14 percent and 15 percent. Parwati said the bank would try to lower rates further following Bank Indonesia’s recommendation that commercial lending rates fall to 12 percent, against the 7.75 percent BI rate.

(The Jakarta Globe, March 24, 2009)Any source

RUSSIA: Islamic finance best option for global recovery

Islamic financial system is the best option to bring back the global economy to the right track, says Prof Datuk Dr Sudin Haron, chairman of the Russian Centre For Islamic Economic and Finance international advisory panel.
"As a result of the global economic crisis, people don't believe in the conventional system anymore. People believe that as a result of speculation, manipulation and interest rates, the global financial crisis happened.
"Islamic banking does not believe in these things. We prohibit manipulation and speculation. Interest rate is totally condemned by Shariah (Islamic principles).
"So, now people start looking at what is the best alternative to substitute the conventional system," said Sudin, a scholar with vast experience in banking and finance, management and business management, told Bernama in an interview.
Islamic financial system was one of the options, he said, adding that "it is the only option to study." Dr Sudin said many countries have started to acknowledge the importance of Islamic banking and finance.
For instance, he said, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde had announced in December last year that she wanted to see whether regulations or the legal system in France could accommodate Islamic finance.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the world needs to have a new dimension in the financial system, he said.
Putin had said Russia, being the centre between the West and the East, was the best country to study "what is the best system to replace the existing system."
"I can see a huge potential for Islamic banking and finance," said Dr Sudin, who is also president of the Kuala Lumpur Business School and executive chairman of Vision Bridge Sdn Bhd. — Bernama (Mar 23, 2009)Any source