December 29, 2009

Indian Central Bank Buys IMF Gold


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has increased the quantity of its gold holdings. With a recent purchase of 200 tonnes of gold from the International Monetary Fund, the Indian Central Bank is now the ninth or tenth largest holder of gold globally.


Executed as a part of its foreign exchange reserves management, the RBI recently purchased $6.7 billion USD worth of the IMF's gold, from Oct. 19 to Oct. 30th 2009. Although the RBI does not officially discuss its diversification strategy, speculation is rampant that the purchase may be part of India's push for greater influence within the IMF itself. 


India, along with other emerging BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) is jockeying for greater bearing on the global economic stage, and this recent move may be a tactic of this strategy. The Indian economy has grown rapidly in recent years, and is now in aggregate, a $1.2 trillion USD economy. 


According to the latest data, of India’s total foreign reserves of $285.5 billion on Oct. 23, 2009, slightly more than $10 billion worth was in gold. The recent purchase has increased India’s percentage of gold holdings in its portfolio, from approximately 4 percent to approximately 6 percent. The purchase was one of the largest single purchases of gold by a Central Bank, in memory.


Portfolio-wise, Indian gold holdings are on average much less than most Central Banks of the developed world, but interestingly, Indian gold holdings are approximately four times the size of China's share. With this recent move, perhaps New Delhi may be trying to assert its strength in world economic affairs, relative to the other BRIC nations.


For gold markets in general, the picture is less clear. What does the RBI’s decision signal for the global gold market? Does India’s recent move potentially signify the beginning of a new bull market for bullion? Only time will tell.

Posted via web from Global Business News

November 21, 2009

US and Asian GDP Return to Growth


American GDP is growing again.

After four consecutive quarters of GDP decline, the US Economy grew in the third quarter by 3.5%.  This ends the longest contraction in the US economy since the Great Depression. The 3.5 per cent growth figures were stronger than expected by some analysts, including Goldman Sachs, who had forecast only 2.7 per cent growth. 

Simultaneously, the IMF has doubled its forecast for Asian economic growth in 2010. 

The region’s prospects have improved dramatically over the past 6 months due to the concerted efforts of Asian Governments to nurse their economies back to health. China, South Korea, India, and Japan have taken the lead in this regard. The International Monetary Fund has forecast GDP growth of 2.8 per cent for 2009, and 5.8 per cent in 2010 for the region. 

The “Great Recession”, as it has come to be known, may be technically over according to the Economists, but it's been replaced by fears that this may only be a statistical recovery. The manifest growth in the US is literally underwritten by billions of dollars in US Federal government spending. Some economists posit that all of the government money in the US system will lead to an artificial and jobless recovery in America. Last month's US jobless rate was 9.8 per cent, its highest rate in 26 years. 

Nonetheless, third quarter figures indicate that 2010 will be a year of growth in the American economy, which is certainly reassuring news for the Global economy, as the US Economy is currently underperforming globally.

Posted via web from Global Business News

October 12, 2009

Taiwan lab develops panda robot

The world's first panda robot is taking shape at a cutting-edge lab in Taiwan where an ambitious group of scientists hope to add new dimensions to the island's reputation as a high-tech power. The Centre for Intelligent Robots Research aims to develop pandas that are friendlier and more artistically endowed than their endangered real-life counterparts.

"The panda robot will be very cute and more attracted to humans. Maybe the panda robot can be made to sing a panda song," said Jerry Lin, the centre's 52-year-old director. Day by day, the panda evolves on the centre's computer screens and, if funding permits, the robot will take its first steps by the end of the year.

"It's the first time we try to construct a quadrupedal robot. We need to consider the balance problem," said 28-year-old Jo Po-chia, a doctoral student who is in charge of the robot's design. The robo-panda is just one of many projects on the drawing board at the centre, which is attached to the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, the island's version of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Taipei-based centre also aims to build robots that look like popular singers, so exact replicas of world stars can perform in the comfort of their fans' homes. "It could be a Madonna robot. It will be a completely different experience from just listening to audio," said Lin.

Commercial value is what counts for Lin, who hopes to contribute to the Taiwan economy at a time when it has matured and no longer exhibits the stellar growth of the earlier take-off phase. "If I write 25 academic papers, I won't contribute anything. But if I create something people need, I will contribute to the Taiwan economy," he said. Lin and his team are also working on educational robots that can act as private tutors for children, teaching them vocabulary or telling them stories in foreign languages.

There is an obvious target market: China, with its tens of millions of middle-class parents doting on the one child they are allowed under strict population policies. "Asian parents are prepared to spend a lot of money to teach their children languages," said Lin.

Robots running amok are a fixture of popular literature but parents do not have to worry about leaving their children home alone with their artificial teachers, he said. "A robot may hit you like a car or a motorbike might hit you. But it won't suddenly lose control and get violent. Humans lose control, not robots. It's not like that."

Lin's long-term dream is to create a fully-functioning Robot Theatre of Taiwan, with an ensemble of life-like robots able to sing, dance and entertain. Two robotic pioneers, Thomas and Janet, appeared before an audience in Taiwan in December, performing scenes from the Phantom of the Opera, but that was just the beginning, Lin said.

"You can imagine a robot shooting down balloons, like in the wild west, using two revolvers, or three, but much faster than a person. Some things robots can do better than humans with the aid of technologies," Lin said.

His vision is to turn the show into an otherworldly experience where robots and humans mix seamlessly on stage, leaving the audience in doubt which is which. But the bottomline is the bottomline. Lin wants commercial viability, in the interest of his home island.

"I want to be able to go to an amusement park in the US and see a building where on top it says, 'Robot Theatre from Taiwan'. That's my lifetime goal," he said.

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China, Taipei, Robot panda, Robot Theatre of Taiwan, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Global IT News, The Centre for Intelligent Robots Research,

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September 22, 2009

World's Largest Yacht is Paparazzi Proof

Roman Abramovich's latest extravagance, Eclipse, probably so-called because it's almost big enough to block out the sun, is the world's largest mega-yacht. Measuring 557ft long, it boasts two swimming pools, two helipads and an onboard missile defence system. And, just in case any missiles do get through, it comes complete with an escape pod: its own submarine. Its most curious feature, however, defends it against an altogether more insidious weapon: the prying eyes of the paparazzi.

The boat's anti-paparazzi system, described in several reports as a "laser shield", is a little less science fiction than it sounds. The lasers – beams of infrared light – are used to detect the electronic light sensors that digital cameras use instead of film. The camera is then targeted with a focused beam of bright light that disrupts the potential photo, making any shots unusable. It's not so much a space-age Star Wars laser shield, then, as a big budget version of shining a torch in someone's face.

A similar technology is already available to all in the form of an anti-paparazzi purse, devised by New York University student Adam Harvey, which detects the flash of a camera and responds with a bright flash of its own, cloaking the intended target in a blob of white light. Nigel Atherton, editor of What Digital Camera, explains, "You couldn't stop them taking a picture but you could ruin the picture." Eclipse's anti-paparazzi defence grid, he suspects, "is essentially a large-scale version of that."

What makes Eclipse's system special is that it can detect any digital camera, whether it's using a flash or not, and before the first shot. But Abramovich's shield still has a serious weakness: it can't possibly detect the presence of an old-fashioned analogue or mechanical camera.

So for £724m, he's got himself a boat that digital-camera-wielding paparazzi can't photograph, say, falling over outside a nightclub at 3am. It's a shame really. That's exactly the sort of memory you'd want to capture.

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Roman Abramovich, Eclipse Yacht, Anti-Papparazzi system, lasers, New York University, Laser shield, escape pod, missile defense systems, Global Blog Network, Billionaire, paparazzi protection, flash photography,

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September 16, 2009

Australia, US to Invite China to War Games

Australia and the United States will invite China to take part in joint military exercises to help ease fears about an arms race in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ties between Australia and China have been strained over concerns about Beijing's military expansion and the precarious nature of trade negotiations. As a way of soothing tensions, Australian and U.S. defense officials have agreed to approach the Chinese about taking part in joint military exercises.

Admiral Timothy Keating, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told a Sydney newspaper that talks with Beijing were a positive sign that China was willing to cooperate in the plan. Keating also expressed hope that any joint exercise would help the U.S. and its allies better understand China's reasons for boosting its weapons capabilities.

The U.S. is reportedly worried that some of China's military ambitions do not appear to be peaceful. Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute thinks that closer military sides will benefit all three countries. "It gives each side confidence in the ability of the other to act professionally and it also teaches each side how the other tends to operate, which can reduce the opportunity for accidents and misunderstandings," he said.

China's ambassador to Australia, Zhang Junsai, has welcomed the prospect of joint army and navy exercises as a way of ensuring regional stability and peace. Tensions between Australia and China have intensified recently over Canberra's decision to grant a visa to an exiled ethnic Uighur activist and the arrest in Beijing of an Australian mining executive accused of infringing trade secrets and bribery.

Zhang Junsai hopes the problems can be ironed out. "Current difficulties in bilateral relations is something that China does not want to see. So, we hope Australia will join China to respect and accommodate each other's interests and our concerns," said Zhang. Few details have been released about possible joint military exercises between China, the United States and Australia.

Reports have suggested they could include naval and land activities as well personnel exchanges. A U.S. military spokesman at Admiral Keating's headquarters in Hawaii said that no formal invitations to join an exercise had yet been extended to China.

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Australia, United States, China, joint military exercises, arms race, Asia-Pacific region, Beijing's military expansion, trade negotiations, soothing tensions, U.S. defense officials, Admiral Timothy Keating, U.S. forces in the Pacific,

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