Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Greece accepts harsh new bailout terms; Currency wars may be getting worse; What body language says about you

1 Greece accepts harsh new bailout terms (San Francisco Chronicle) Greece agreed to harsh terms for a new three-year bailout Tuesday and vowed to push it through parliament this week, despite mounting dissent in the ruling left-wing party. With the country facing the risk of a debt default next week, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had sought to speed up the talks and get approval of a deal this week.

After Greece and its creditors reached an accord on the main points on Tuesday, Tsipras called for an emergency session of parliament for a vote late Thursday. Greece needs to start tapping the new bailout — worth 85 billion euros ($93 billion) — so that it can make a key debt repayment next week and secure its future in the euro.

The draft agreement forces Tsipras to accept what he had vowed to resist only months ago: the sale of some state property and deep cuts to pensions, military spending and ending tax credits to people considered vulnerable. Dissenters in Tsipras' left-wing Syriza party, who want to end bailout talks and return to a national currency, promised to fight the deal, describing it as a "noose around the neck of the Greek people."

Germany, the largest single contributor to Greece's two previous bailouts and among the toughest negotiators so far, remained cautious on the timing for a final deal. "We will have to examine the results that come in the course of today," deputy finance minister Jens Spahn said.

Cash-strapped Greece needs more money by Aug. 20 at the latest, when it has a debt repayment of just over 3 billion euros to make to the European Central Bank. Greece has relied on bailouts worth a total 240 billion euros ($263 billion) from eurozone members states and the International Monetary Fund since concern over its high debts locked it out of bond markets in 2010. To secure the loans, successive governments have had to implement spending cuts, tax hikes and reforms.

2 Currency wars may be getting worse (Gulf News) China’s shock move to devalue the yuan risks opening a new front in a currency war that stretches from the Eurozone to Japan as nations look to energise their economies.

The People’s Bank of China slashed the yuan’s fixing by a record 1.9 per cent on Tuesday, sparking the currency’s biggest one-day loss since the official and market exchange rates were united in 1994. It triggered the steepest sell-off among Asian currencies in almost seven years, led by slides in South Korea’s won and the Taiwan and Singapore dollars. The euro and the yen tumbled 18 per cent against the greenback in the past 12 months as monetary policies diverged in the US, Europe and Japan.

“In a weak global economy, it will take a lot more than a 1.9 per cent devaluation to jump-start Chinese exports,” said Stephen Roach, a senior fellow at Yale University. “That raises the distinct possibility of a new and increasingly destabilising skirmish in the ever-widening global currency war. The race to the bottom just became a good deal more treacherous.”

China’s devaluation shook global markets just as the currency war appeared to be losing steam in Asia, with Australia and New Zealand toning down calls for weaker rates and Japan refraining from expanding stimulus this quarter. Even with almost all major currencies losing ground against the dollar this year amid rising expectations for increased borrowing costs in the US, China maintained a de facto peg since March amid a push for the yuan to win reserve status at the International Monetary Fund.

“They built into the market an expectation that they were keeping the currency stable,” said Ray Farris, global head of currency strategy in Singapore at Credit Suisse Group AG. “Then all of a sudden they blinked. Because they blinked today, markets will continue to look for similar conditions in the future. If exports are falling off a cliff, then against the background of this development, markets will expect more” depreciation, he said.

More than 20 central banks from India to South Korea have loosened monetary policy this year to spur growth and fend off deflation, leaving the US and possibly the UK as the only major economies likely to raise rates this year. The consequent dollar strength prompted Federal Reserve officials to comment on its damage to US exports earlier this year, casting doubt over whether it would go ahead with tightening in 2015.

3 What body language says about you (Lucy Jolin in The Guardian) Just 7% of communication comes from the words we use. And there’s plenty of evidence that demonstrates just how important body language is in the workplace: from making the right impression on a new boss to making a sale. But it’s also crucial for entrepreneurs – the entire business can depend on how you come across when making that crucial pitch or sale. So what are the basics?

First of all, it’s everything that isn’t verbal, from your tone of voice to your hand gestures. And it’s intimately connected to the way you feel. Think of yourself as an evangelist, says Annette Kramer, body language coach. “If you’re an evangelist, you really want to engage with people. You want to hear what people have to say back. Your whole manner changes. If you believe in what you’re saying and you’re genuine, you will engage people.”

For an important pitch or presentation, Dr Connson Locke, assistant professor of management at the London School of Economics, recommends the power pose highlighted by Amy Cuddy, associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Cuddy’s research on power posing found that study participants who adopted the power pose before a mock job interview performed better and were more likely to be hired.

Before you go in front of your audience, says Locke, head into the bathroom and stand still, spreading your arms and taking up as much space in the room as you can. Research found that this pose both elevates testosterone (thought to be associated with confidence for both men and women) and decreases cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.

First impressions count: we make up our minds about whether a person is trustworthy or not within a tenth of a second. In that tiny time frame, people only have your body language to go on. Dr Locke advises standing up straight, making eye contact and using a confident tone of voice. Avoid repetitive small motions, like fiddling with a pen, rubbing your face or playing with your hair – that makes you look nervous. Stillness can convey confidence – not just stillness in the body but stillness in the voice, such as strategic pauses.

Try to be as relaxed as you can, advises John McLachlan, neuro-linguistic programming trainer. “People don’t realise that when they’re tense, the tone of their voice changes as the body seizes up and makes it hard to speak,” he says.

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