FA Cup final: Manchester City 0-1 Wigan Athletic


Ben Watson and Roberto Martinez

Wigan Athletic claimed the first major trophy in their 81-year history when Ben Watson’s last-minute goal won the FA Cup final against Manchester City at Wembley.

Roberto Martinez’s side produced a performance full of attacking intent and verve to fully deserve this historic win against firm pre-match favourites City, who had Pablo Zabaleta sent off six minutes from time.

Substitute Watson, who has missed much of the season after breaking his leg in November, sent Wigan’s fans into ecstasy with a near-post header from Shaun Maloney’s corner at the very moment the board went up to signal three minutes of stoppage time.

The goal was just reward for Wigan, whose drive and intensity was in sharp contrast to the desperately lacklustre display served up by City as last season’s Premier League champions end this campaign empty-handed.

It completed a miserable day for manager Roberto Mancini, which began with reports that was about to be sacked and replaced by Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini and ended with a defeat that left City’s hierarchy looking on stone-faced from the Royal Box as Wigan celebrated.

Opposite number Martinez is also at the centre of speculation about his future as he has been linked with the forthcoming managerial vacancy at Everton – and his stock will have risen markedly now he has the FA Cup against his name.

And when this final is remembered, the performance of Wigan’s Callum McManaman will be recalled alongside Watson’s goal after a magnificent, and close to unplayable, display of wing play which gave City defender Gael Clichy a harrowing afternoon.

It was also a moment of sheer joy for Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, who broke his leg playing for Blackburn Rovers in the 1960 FA Cup final against Wolves at Wembley. He led the team out, then watched in delight as they lifted the treasured trophy…

City, who had struggled for rhythm all afternoon, were reduced to 10 men with six minutes remaining when Zabaleta was dismissed. It was a simple decision for referee Andre Marriner when the Argentine, played into trouble by Barry’s careless pass, hauled down McManaman having earlier received a yellow card.

Then came the moment that will be recalled in Wigan forever. Watson escaped from Rodwell at the near post to meet Maloney’s corner and history was made.

I cannot muster sufficient praise for everyone associated with this stunning and well-deserved victory. From the geezer himself, Dave Whelan, down through Roberto Martinez and all the Wigan players – they outworked the posh opposition. The giant-killers got what they deserved, what they fought so very hard for.

Poor folks stick with strong values, not self-pity

The booming stock market is of little solace to middle-class Americans, who continue to express concern about their financial security and the overall condition of the U.S. economy. The poor are even more bearish, surveys show.

In fact, after falling significantly behind in the Great Recession, less-affluent Americans have continued to lose ground in what has technically been the economic recovery.

In the years since the recession officially ended in June 2009, the mean net worth of households in the upper 7 percent of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28 percent, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93 percent dropped by 4 percent, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of recently released Census Bureau data.

Yet even in the depths of the recession and the difficult recovery, middle-class and lower-income Americans remained optimistic about the future of the country and their own long-term personal prospects. They acknowledged the truth of rising inequality and expressed frustration over what they saw as a political and economic system that gave unfair advantages to those who were already ahead. There was no sign, however, that class resentments were increasing…

This finding is contrary to worries expressed by the social scientist Charles Murray and others that American civic culture is at risk of breaking down at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. In his book “Coming Apart,” Murray argues that poorer Americans are losing social bonds to hard work, family values and community…

Over the past 25 years, value trends find no widening of the division between the upper middle class and working class with respect to self-confidence, individualism and a sense of personal empowerment. Poorer and richer Americans differ on questions of opportunity and the role of government, yet these gaps have neither grown nor shrunk since the late 1980s…

Middle and lower-class Americans continue to see their lives as better than those of their parents, and they expect that their children will be better off than they are…

If anything, less-affluent Americans are more convinced of the importance of work than are more economically successful Americans. A 2008 Pew study found 69 percent of low-income Americans agreeing that “being successful in a career” was very important to them personally, compared with 58 percent of upper-income Americans.

Our analyses simply indicate that people’s difficulties haven’t undermined their values and long-term optimism. And among poor Americans specifically, there is little evidence that they feel sorry for themselves, or see themselves as economically doomed or morally adrift.

One more Republican myth, one more talking point for upper crust political hacks used to support their belief in the natural superiority of people with more money than social conscience – gone to Hell in a handbasket.

Huge ATM bank theft crosses 27 countries

In one of the biggest ever bank heists, a global cyber crime ring stole $45 million from two Middle Eastern banks by hacking into credit card processing firms and withdrawing money from ATMs in 27 countries, U.S….

The U.S. Justice Department accused eight men of allegedly forming the New York-based cell of the organization, and said seven of them have been arrested. The eighth, allegedly a leader of the cell, was reported to have been murdered in the Dominican Republic on April 27.

The ringleaders are believed to be outside the United States but prosecutors declined to give details, citing the ongoing investigation. What’s clear is the sheer scope and speed of the crimes: in one of the attacks, in just over 10 hours, $40 million was raided from ATMs in 24 countries involving 36,000 transactions…

The case demonstrates the major threat that cyber crime poses to banks around the world. It also shows how increasingly international and sophisticated criminal gangs have become, particularly those using the Internet.

Illustrating the universality of poor practices and incompetent security.

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Long live China’s slowdown!

At 7.7%, China’s annual GDP growth in the first quarter of this year was slower than many expected. While the data were hardly devastating relative to a consensus forecast of 8.2%, many (including me) expected a second consecutive quarterly rebound from the slowdown that appeared to have ended in the third quarter of 2012. China doubters around the world were quick to pounce on the number, expressing fears of a stall, or even a dreaded double dip.

But slower GDP growth is actually good for China, provided that it reflects the long-awaited structural transformation of the world’s most dynamic economy. The broad outlines of this transformation are well known – a shift from export- and investment-led growth to an economic structure that draws greater support from domestic private consumption. Less well known is that a rebalanced China should have a slower growth rate – the first hints of which may now be evident.

A rebalanced China can grow more slowly for one simple reason: By drawing increased support from services-led consumer demand, China’s new model will embrace a more labor-intensive growth recipe. The numbers seem to bear that out. China’s services sector requires about 35% more jobs per unit of GDP than do manufacturing and construction – the primary drivers of the old model.

That number has potentially huge implications, because it means that China could grow at an annual rate in the 7-8% range and still achieve its objectives with respect to employment and poverty reduction…

…Capital-labor substitution is at the heart of modern productivity strategies for manufacturing-based economies. But it left China in a deepening hole: increasingly deficient in jobs per unit of output, it needed more units of output to absorb its surplus labor. Ultimately, that became more of a problem than a solution…

It is premature, of course, to conclude that a services-led transformation to slower growth is now at hand. The latest data hint at such a possibility, with the tertiary sector (services) expanding at an 8.3% annual rate in the first quarter of this year – the third consecutive quarter of acceleration and a half-percentage point faster than the 7.8% first-quarter gain recorded by the secondary sector (manufacturing and construction). But it will take more than a few quarters of mildly encouraging data to validate such an important shift in the Chinese economy’s underlying structure

Financial markets, as well as growth-starved developed economies, are not thrilled with the natural rhythm of slower growth that a rebalanced Chinese economy is likely to experience. Resource industries – indeed, resource-based economies like Australia, Canada, Brazil, and Russia – have become addicted to China’s old strain of unsustainable hyper-growth. Yet China knows that it is time to break that dangerous habit.

Uncle Sugar and agitprop flunkies like the NY TIMES have a problem with consumer-led growth in China. It defies Cold Warrior slander. And China’s surplus saving will stay home instead of being stuffed into dollar-based assets such as US Treasury bills.

As China embraces slower growth as a natural consequence of its rebalancing, Stephen Roach notes that “the rest of the world will need to figure out how to cope when it does”.