Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Morning Brief: Central banks work in tandem to stem credit crunch; U.K. public workers strike over pensions; RIM will begin offering iPhone and other handset support

The credit crunch in Europe is reaching crisis levels (one of the reasons TNM continues to mention events in Morning Brief). The Italian bond rates, for instance, spiked well over 7 percent this week, causing observers to wonder if there was any way the country could avoid default.

Today six central banks acted to try and stop the run up in bond prices. The banks, the European Central Bank, U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the central banks of Canada, Japan and Switzerland, are working together, it was announced.

The remedy is to make money cheaper to get for lenders facing rising bond prices. The move begins next week, which is a little strange. It is as if the banks are hoping that the promise of easy credit will be alone enough to ease the markets.

Stock markets in Europe are reacting to the news, with the German DAX up over four and half percent, back over the 6,000 level.

In what is being called the biggest strike in 30 years, public sector workers in the U.K. have walked off their jobs. The dispute involves pensions (whatever they are).

As in the U.S., the British conservative government is targeting public workers – teachers, police, fire, government employees – in the name of reigning in costs and lowering government debt obligations.

The move often works as the civilian workforce, which rarely enjoy pension benefits themselves, rarely support public employees who have negotiated these benefits in the past. Whether the Tory government, led by David Cameron, will be able to implement their plans remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., voters in Ohio recently reversed the law passed by the Republican government and legislature, while in Wisconsin, signatures are being gathered in an attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker.

It hasn't been often lately that you could say Research In Motion has made a good and logical move, but this is one: RIM says they will begin support iPhones and other smartphone handsets in an attempt to save the relationship with their corporate clients.

According a Bloomberg report last night, the new device-management software, called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, will be available early next year and will run along side, or in place of BlackBerry Enterprise Server networks RIM now operates for its clients.

The move recognizes something that it seemed RIM didn't, at least until now, that their business was as much about serving business clients through services as it was selling handsets. Losing the handset wars didn't have to mean losing business clients if, and this is the big "if", if RIM worked to incorporate non-RIM systems into their corporate support services.

This move may be too late for RIM, however, since so many clients have had to move towards support of popular smartphone systems without RIM.

The India edition of the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Pakistani cable operators have begun blocking the BBC World News from its cable channels following the Beeb's airing of a two-part documentary, "Secret Pakistan".

The documentary series portrays the Pakistani army as collaborating with the Taliban.