Monday, September 29, 2014

Record world debts stirs fear of fresh crisis; Hong Kong protestors hold the streets; YouTube stays king, but Netflix gains

1 Record world debts stirs fresh crisis fear (Phillip Inman in The Guardian) Global debts have reached a record high despite efforts by governments to reduce public and private borrowing, according to a report that warns the “poisonous combination” of spiralling debts and low growth could trigger another crisis.

Modest falls in household debt in the UK and the rest of Europe have been offset by a credit binge in Asia that has pushed global private and public debt to a new high in the past year, according to the 16th annual Geneva report. The total burden of world debt, excluding the financial sector, has risen from 180% of global output in 2008 to 212% last year, according to the report.

The study accuses policymakers in many countries of failing to spur sustainable growth by capitalising on historically low interest rates while deterring exuberant lending. It called for Brussels to write off the debts of the eurozone’s worst-hit countries and urgently embark on a “sizeable” 
programme of electronic money creation or quantitative easing to push down long-term interest rates.

Chistine Lagarde, the IMF’s director general, is expected to warn that slowing global growth could encourage investors to take bigger, riskier bets to maintain their income, undermining the stability of the recovery.

2 Hong Kong protestors hold the streets (BBC) Protests in Hong Kong are continuing after tens of thousands of people defied calls for them to dismantle their camps and return home. Demonstrations grew after police tried to disperse crowds using batons and tear gas in the early hours of Monday morning. Riot police later withdrew.

The pro-democracy protesters are angry at China for limiting their choice in Hong Kong's 2017 leadership elections. China has warned other countries not to support the "illegal rallies". The protesters - a mix of students and members of the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement - want Beijing to abandon its plans to vet candidates for the post of chief executive in the 2017 polls. They want a free choice of candidates. Until now the territory's chief executive has essentially been selected under a pro-Beijing mechanism.

The British government has called for the right to protest to be protected and for protesters to exercise their right within the law. That call was echoed by the US, with White House spokesman Josh Earnest calling on Hong Kong's authorities to show restraint. "The United States supports universal suffrage in Hong Kong in accordance with the Basic Law and we support the aspirations of the Hong Kong people," Mr Earnest told reporters.

3 YouTube stays king, but Netflix gains (Los Angeles Times/San Francisco Chronicle) Netflix pushed out 7 billion hours of content from April through June, spread over the 50.05 million subscribers Netflix said it had as of June. That’s nearly 92 minutes of viewing per day per subscriber, according to a research report from the Diffusion Group.

But the research doesn’t reveal who is watching what, specifically. Netflix doesn’t break out those numbers, nor does it publicize hours spent by age range. Subscribers also sometimes share their account log-ins with friends and family members including children, who in some families spend many hours being babysat by Netflix cartoons and family movies.

Still, the Diffusion report is the latest to confirm that online viewing is chomping away at the time people spend watching traditional TV, which for now remains the most-viewed medium among US adults. The report found that Netflix streaming in the US has tripled since the end of 2011 and grown tenfold internationally.

Within the online video industry, Netflix remains dwarfed by YouTube. The Google-owned video website last reported in May 2013 that it streams about 6 billion hours of video each month, a figure that had risen from 4 billion in a few months. Analysts at Jefferies recently pegged YouTube’s value, separate from Google, at close to $40 billion. Netflix Inc., which doesn’t show ads, has a market capitalization of about $27 billion.

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