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    Monday, December 6, 2010

    AP Mobile News story - Assange may surrender to British police

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    Reuter site - Taylor says U.S. headed for recession

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    Taylor says U.S. headed for recession

    Mon, Dec 06 14:32 PM EST

    By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is headed for a new recession, said John Taylor, chairman and chief investment officer of FX Concepts, which should likely benefit the dollar and weigh on commodity prices.

    "It's a new recession. We're already growing, but the numbers show that the U.S. government is still the primary creator of this growth," Taylor said on Monday at the Reuters Investment Outlook Summit.

    Taylor runs the world's largest currency hedge fund with assets under management of around $8.5 billion.

    "I would argue that by the middle of next year, we will be in a recession and our fiscal hands will be tied," he said.

    Taylor has maintained in previous interviews that the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program, designed as a way to help jump-start the economy, won't necessarily prevent a recession.

    Banks in a recession tend to demand the repayment of loans, and if the debt is denominated in the U.S. currency -- and in most cases they are -- then investors are squeezed as they scramble to find dollars to repay the debt. That should be dollar-positive, Taylor said.

    This was what happened in late 2008 when panic in the markets -- precipitated by the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers -- drove the safe-haven dollar higher against most major currencies.

    "It's kind of perverse. When the U.S. economy is doing badly, the dollar goes up and when the economy is doing well, the dollar goes down."

    Taylor's remarks dovetailed with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments on Sunday on the CBS program "60 Minutes". Bernanke said the Fed could end up buying more than the $600 billion in U.S. government bonds it has committed if the economy fails to respond or unemployment stays high.

    The U.S. economy grew at a modest 2.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter. Stronger growth is needed to create large numbers of new jobs and make a dent in unemployment, currently at 9.8 percent.

    EURO COULD FALL APART

    For now, all eyes are on the euro zone, which is facing a debt crisis. Theoretically, at some point the euro could fall apart, Taylor said,

    "What Europe has done is not enough. They have to have eurobonds," said Taylor. "You can't lend money to Ireland or Greece. You're just piling on more debt to them, and it's getting harder and harder to repay."

    Taylor said Portugal could be the next country to seek a bailout after Ireland, with Spain after that. This will push the euro to parity versus the dollar by next year, he forecast. In early New York trading, the euro was down 1 percent at $1.3277.

    In October, he told Reuters in an interview that the euro would most likely peak between $1.43-$1.45 in November and was most negative on the euro versus the dollar at a time when almost everybody was selling the greenback because of the quantitative easing factor.

    On November 4, the euro hit a high of $1.4283 on electronic trading platform EBS and was downhill from there.

    Taylor recommended selling the euro against the Swiss franc, a currency whose economy has fared better than most European countries.

    The FX Concepts chief was also bearish on commodities, predicting that this asset class will slow down next year as the U.S. economy goes into recession. That should be negative for commodity-linked currencies such as the Australian and Canadian dollars.

    He said the Australian dollar, which has been the best performing currency so far among currencies from the Group of 10 rich nations, with gains of about 10 percent on the year, could slide 15-20 percent.

    FX Concepts employs several investing strategies. Its global currency program, which invests in both developed and major emerging market currencies, dipped 4.26 percent in November, but its annual return for 2010 is estimated at 12.03 percent.

    (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Andrew Hay)

    Reuter site - Obama announces tax deal with Republicans

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    Obama announces tax deal with Republicans

    Mon, Dec 06 22:01 PM EST

    By Matt Spetalnick and Patricia Zengerle

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday unveiled a compromise deal to extend all Bush-era tax cuts for two years, giving ground to emboldened Republicans who won big in last month's congressional elections.

    After meeting Democratic leaders at the White House, Obama announced a "framework" agreement with Republicans that would renew tax cuts not just for the middle class -- as he and fellow Democrats had sought -- but also for wealthier Americans, as Republicans wanted.

    The tentative plan is expected to draw resistance from some liberal Democrats, who have expressed disappointment that the president was bending to Republican demands while not gaining enough in return. Obama might need Republican help to pass the package if enough of his fellow Democrats revolt.

    The tentative tax-cut deal, which is expected to extend breaks on dividends and capital gains as well, also calls for a 2 percent employee payroll tax cut and a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits, which could placate some Democrats.

    But Obama acceded to Republican demands on the federal estate tax, by agreeing to a maximum 35 percent tax with a $5 million individual exemption level, which he admitted was more generous than he felt was "wise or warranted."

    "We cannot play politics at a time when the American people are looking for us to solve problems," Obama told reporters. "I am confident ultimately that Congress is going to do the right thing."

    Obama said he had made some concessions because of the urgent need to reach a deal before Congress adjourns this month to avoid allowing the middle class to face higher taxes when all of the Bush-era cuts expire on December 31.

    "I have no doubt that everyone will find something in this compromise that they don't like," Obama said. " In fact, there are things in here that I don't like -- namely the extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and the wealthiest estates. But these tax cuts will expire in two years."

    Extending all the tax cuts for two years would cost $501 billion, according to the congressional budget office, at a time when Obama is under pressure to cut the $1.3 trillion budget deficit. The CBO said renewing the rates will boost the economy in the short term but be harmful in the long term.

    "FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE"

    Obama's concessions reflected a new political reality. Republicans gained the upper hand in the tax fight after scoring big gains in the November 2 congressional elections, which were seen as a verdict on Obama's handling of a stumbling economy and persistently high unemployment.

    Obama's tax proposal was still likely to meet some resistance from Democrats in Congress but analysts believe it faces a good chance of ultimately being approved before the end of the legislative session.

    Most Democrats have made clear they prefer to extend the lower tax rates for individual income up to $200,000 only, while Republicans have pushed for also keeping tax cuts for people who earn far higher incomes.

    Representative Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat, called Obama's proposal "fiscally irresponsible" and "grossly unfair."

    "We support extending tax cuts in full to 98 percent of American taxpayers, as the president initially proposed. He should not back down. Nor should we," Welch said in a letter to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

    Defending Obama's approach, administration officials stressed that the extension would be nearing expiration again when he is seeking re-election in 2012. They believe he will then be in a stronger position to make the case to voters for blocking further tax cuts for richer Americans.

    Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said Reid would discuss Obama's plan with the Democratic caucus on Tuesday.

    Republicans reacted positively. A spokesman for House Republican leader John Boehner, who will take over as speaker in January, called Obama's announcement "encouraging." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, welcomed what he called the president's "openness to preventing tax hikes."

    Some liberal supporters have accused Obama of being too willing to compromise in the tax battle. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote that Obama should simply let taxes rise for all Americans rather than agreeing to allowing tax cuts to continue for the wealthy.

    Obama insisted that unemployment insurance be extended for those out of work as part of any tax deal. Unemployment payments, which had already been extended by Congress for to up to 99 weeks from a traditional 26 weeks, expire this month for two million Americans whose benefits have now run out.

    The deal outlined by Obama includes a two-year extension of a package of tax breaks for individuals and business.

    There was no immediate word on whether "Build America Bonds" -- taxable debt included in last year's stimulus plan and due to expire at the end of December -- would be included in a final tax-cut deal. An administration official said the details were still being worked out.

    (Additional reporting by Kim Dixon and Steve Holland. Editing by Alistair Bell and Christopher Wilson)

    Julianne Assange, Barack Obama, Craig Venter TIME Mobile: Who Will Be TIME's 2010 Person of the Year? http://bit.ly/dqUsgq

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