Inhospitable Europe

The Markit iTraxx Europe Index of credit-default swaps on 125 companies with investment-grade ratings climbed 2.1 basis points to 99 basis points at 11:31 a.m. in London , the biggest increase since Sept. 27. The Markit iTraxx Crossover Index of 50 companies with mostly speculative-grade ratings jumped 8.5 basis points to 395 basis points. House Republicans will not back raising the governments $16.7 trillion borrowing limit unless the Democrats agree to other provisions, Boehner said in a TV interview yesterday. Both sides have 10 days to end their standoff before the U.S. exhausts measures to avoid breaching the debt ceiling and risk defaulting on its payments, according to Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. The markets have entered the week on the back foot with the U.S.s ongoing fiscal impasse weighing on risk appetite, Richard McGuire and Lyn Graham-Taylor, fixed-income strategists at Rabobank International in London, wrote in a note to clients. Nevertheless, the continued modest nature of the risk off move associated with the fiscal impasse indicates the market remains broadly confident a solution will ultimately be found. Average yields on investment-grade bonds in euros rose 12 basis points last week to 2 percent, the highest since Sept. 18, Bloomberg bond index data show. Yields on junk-rated notes fell 10 basis points to a seven-week low of 4.7 percent. Bond Debut In the new issue market, bioMerieux , a French developer of tests for HIV and hepatitis, is debuting 300 million euros ($407 million) of seven-year notes to yield 3 percent to 3.25 percent, according to a person familiar with the matter. Lloyds Banking Group Plc, (LLOY) the U.K.s biggest mortgage lender, is selling as much as 1 billion euros of five-year bonds to yield about 65 basis points more than the mid-swap rate.

Baby undergoes circumcision Photo: REUTERS The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a body composed of five left-wing political organization that include the Socialist Group, the Alliance of Liberal Democrats for Europe and the Group of the Unified European Left, has identified circumcision as a violation of male childrens physical integrity. Luckily, PACE, which has called to adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted, is powerless to make binding laws. Nevertheless, PACEs resolution reflects a growing trend in Europe against religious practices such as circumcisions and ritual slaughter that Europeans deem barbaric or inhumane. Increasingly, the approximately 1.4 million Jews living in Eastern and Western Europe are being made to feel unwelcome. As French journalist and writer Michel Gurfinkiel noted in an essay that appeared in August in Mosaic, an online magazine of Jewish thought: Once again, Jews are accepted on condition: that they separate themselves from their brethren in Israel and join the official European consensus in demonizing the Jewish state; that they learn to accommodate the reality that so many ethnic Europeans hate them and wish them ill, and that Islamists on European soil seek their extinction; and that in the interest of justifying their continued claim to European citizenship, they accept Europes proscription of some of the most basic practices of their faith. Reading through the report Marlene Rupprecht, a member of the German Bundestag for the Social Democratic Party, prepared for PACE, one gets the distinct impression of tendentiousness, as if her real goal was to proscribe a basic practice of the Jewish faith and in the process she did not allow the facts to get in her way. In a section titled Arguments regularly presented in favor of male circumcision and its legal authorization, Rupprecht rightly notes that the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision in 2012 found the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, because it prevents urinary tract infections, acquisition of HIV, transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, and penile cancer. She also notes that the World Health Organization recommends circumcision because it reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by approximately 60 percent. So far so good. But then, inexplicably, under the same section where she is supposed to be arguing in favor of circumcision, without warning while discussing religious justifications for the practice, she refers to circumcision as the dark side of their [Jews and Muslims] own religion, traditions and, finally, identity. So much for objectivity. Even more bewildering are the arguments Rupprecht marshaled against circumcision. She manages to find a slightly out-of-date British Medical Journal article from 1949 that found no medical justification for routine neonatal circumcision. (She failed to mention a 2002 BMJ article that found circumcision to be linked to lower rates of cervical cancer.) Bizarrely, she cites a well-known TV documentary by Victor Schonfeld, called Its a Boy, that sought out, and found, some of the negative aspects of circumcision. And though she claims repeatedly that circumcision may have serious short-term and long-term consequences for the health and well-being of boys and men, no where in her report does she bring evidence to this effect. Reading Rupprechts report, which was endorsed in a 78 to 13 vote with 15 abstentions by left-wing lawmakers from 47 European countries, one cannot help but wonder whether PACE in a dubious invocation of childrens rights is attempting to create a European continent with no Jews. And if this is coming from Europes Left, which should be more sensitive to the infringement of Jews basic religious liberties, what should be expected of the xenophobic Right and the fast-growing Muslim minorities with their blatant anti-Jewish/anti-Israel agendas?

Europe Stocks Post Second Weekly Drop Amid U.S. Shutdown

The government will run out of cash to pay bills between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office. House Republicans met in Washington yesterday to discuss their negotiating tactics, with Speaker John Boehner telling party members that he will not allow a U.S. default, according to a person in the room speaking on condition of anonymity. This is political posturing rather than any interest in achieving actual results, Parry said. Were already getting hints of the Republican party backing down. National benchmark indexes fell in 11 of the 18 western European markets this week. Germany s DAX retreated 0.4 percent, while the U.K.s FTSE 100 (UKX) lost 0.9 percent. France s CAC 40 decreased 0.5 percent. Italy Vote Italys FTSE MIB surged 3.7 percent, the most since July. Letta won a confidence vote on Oct. 2 with support from former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who reversed his position after initially trying to bring down the five-month-old government by withdrawing his ministers from the coalition. Popolare di Milano surged 16 percent and Mediobanca gained 12 percent in Milan trading.

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