RBA still on message: Three more chances for the Reserve Bank to deliver its gradual certainty message for interest rate rises in the coming week. The first RBA’s financial stability review for 2010 is due for release on Thursday and should be reassuring on the financial system, but watch for comments on property and prices. Last week’s minutes of the March board meeting and then a comment by assistant governor Guy Debelle made it clear that rates will continue rising, but at the central bank’s will. Assistant governor Philip Lowe will speak on Thursday, the same day as the stability report’s release. His boss, governor Glenn Stevens, speaks in Melbourne the day after.

US banks still wobbling: Despite definite signs of more stability in financial systems around the world, America’s remains very fragile. Seven more American banks were seized on Friday evening, US time, the busiest day this year so far for bank regulators. That took to 37 the number of US banks to fall over so far this year. The cost to the US taxpayer, about $US1.28 billion. Three banks in Georgia were shut. That state is now the epicentre of the collapse among small and medium local and regional banks in the US with 35 banks shut since mid-2008, the biggest total for any state. The seven banks had a combined $US3.3 billion in assets. At this rate about 150 US banks will go broke this year, after 140 collapsed in 2009.

BRICS news #1: India surprised with a 0.25% lift in its two major market rates on Friday, with the country’s Reserve Bank blaming the need for the increases on rising inflation. The decision to lift rates came between meetings of the central banks policy committee. It is due to meet again on April 20, when Indian economists expected another increase. The new repo rate after Friday’s rises is 5.0%, the reverse repo (what it pays to absorb cash from the market) is now 3.50%. Inflation is running at 9.89%, above the bank’s forecast of 8.5% for the end of March financial year, and now poised to rise into double digits.

BRICS news #2: But Brazil’s GDP expanded at an annual rate of 8.4% in the December quarter and the central bank left interest rates on hold at 8.65% following its meeting late last week. Strong growth and accelerating inflation suggest its only a matter for time before it starts to tighten, joining India, Australia, Malaysia and Vietnam where central banks have raised rates.

Murdoch watch update: Rupert and James Murdoch will be pleased. Robert Thompson, their go-to man installed at the Wall Street Journal to whip into the business into Murdochian shape, has had a big win: no, not over the New York Times, but over staff who are members of the paper’s biggest union. According to a New York Times report, the agreement, which covers 1700 union members (more than half work in the Journal’s newsroom, or other parts of the news-gathering business) includes a 17-month pay freeze, retrospective to February 1. Employees get lower out-of-pocket health care costs and eventually three pay rises of at least 2% each time. The agreement ends in 2014, when Murdoch senior will be 83.

A fine Grecian mess: European Union leaders meet this Thursday and Friday in a summit that will have only one topic of importance; fixing a deal that take cares of the impecunious Greeks. Greece warns that it can’t deliver promised deficit cuts if its borrowing costs remained high and has also indicated it may have seek help from the International Monetary Fund. That upsets some European countries who want the eurozone and the EU to sort out the situation; calling in the IMF would indicate that Europe is powerless. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn’t want to help Greece directly and sees the IMF option of a way of deflecting attention from its own role in Europe’s mess. A deal has to be fixed up because the next month the first of two debt rollovers for Greece is due to hit the radar screens of already nervy markets.

A Grecian earn? Greece, meanwhile, is cracking down on major cash transactions and says it will levy the powerful Orthodox church in its scramble to boost tax revenues. A draft Bill before the country’s Parliament gives the government the right to impose a 20% tax on the Church’s real estate income, outlaws cash transactions of more than €1500 and says all deals above that have to be done by credit cards. The Bill spells an end to special tax treatment for taxi and truck drivers, civil engineers, camping operators, doctors and athletes. It also introduces income checks for owners of yachts, private planes and jets, swimming pools and other luxury items.

Stop the presses, German debt blow out: And further north, the German Parliament has finally approved the 2010 Budget with with a record level of new borrowing. New debt in this Budget is forecast to €80.2 billion  ($A118.6 billion), twice last year’s borrowing. Germany’s public deficit will double to about 6%, from 3.3% last year and the EU limit of 3%. Last year, the German economy shrank by 5%, this year growth of 1.4% is forecast, so the size of the economy will still be less than it was at the end of 2008.