Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Economist - April 25th

The Economist forgets their Prozac – Don’t get too excited about recent stock market gains. 5 20% growth periods from 1929 to 1933. Global output shrink 1.3% govn’t deficits now average 9% of GDP

British Politicians are sleazy – Prime Minister Gordon Brown is having budget problems. Borrowing lots of $$$ and proposes ‘childish’ plan of empty promises to pay it back. Economist says Brown = Nixon.

Tamil Tigers last breath – Sri Lanka is about to finish off rebel Tamil Tigers. May be time for political end since Tigers are militarily weakened enough. SL govn’t must avoid perception of Sinhalese majority vs Tamil minority in post-conflict society.

‘Who else is eating with Einstein on page 19?’

South America Politics – Obama doing his part to politely engage Chavez and Cuba – even though embargo is still in place, US shows signs of improving. Brazil should step up and criticize Chavez.

All your base are belong to us – Russian hackers are really good at ‘cyber-attacks’ on government sites. Obama is going to fund more cyber security and Homeland Security (boo) is competing with National Security Agency (yay) for money.

15 pages later, Britain still sucks – Prime Minister Gordon Brown was chancellor of the exchequer (money stuff) for the past ten years and screwed up. Britain is worst off among the G7 – worst deficit, worst GDP decline, worst food

Timmy Geithner: on-the-job political training – able to do well as Pres of Fed Reserve NY because it was out of spotlight. Politics makes his work complicated – can’t speak like an economist and has to deal with media.

EPA says greenhouse gas is bad – apparently the EPA didn’t think this before, but now says that motor vehicle emissions should be regulated.

Illinois makes the Economist! – but not in a good way. Labeled as ‘exceptionally corrupt’ – maybe Blagojevich scandal so embarrassing that people will change. http://www.spitzerblagojevich2012.org

One World Trade Center: Your new HQ (in 2037) – New York real estate market sucks, so nobody thinks anybody will move in to new World Trade Center for a long time.

College are getting more expensiver – tuition is going up, endowments are shrinking, and loans suck. 180,000 people support cancelling student debt to stimulate the economy. Make that 180,001.

Californian Republicans (other than Arnold) – An angry old man proposes that California split in two – 13 coastal counties from LA to San Fran – and then everyone else. Good luck with that.

There are homeless in California – and always have been. ‘Tent city’ didn’t have much to do with foreclosure stuff. Economist takes swipe at Oprah!

[insert prison joke] – Larry Levine is a prison consultant that helps white collar criminals deal with prison. $999 (or 8 packs of smokes and an inmate named Tiny) and he’ll show you the ropes. Madoff is going to get stabbed.

Does the Smithsonian get the waterboard? – Obama is releasing documents to move US away from ‘torture stuff’ – balancing national security needs with improvements on human rights.

The uncorrupt Illinois educated president of Ecuador – Rafael Correa is running a tight ship, but economics are hurting. Faced trouble and slapped on tariffs (whoops) and now he’s running out of cash.

Canadian Politics (probably on the quiz) – Michael Ignatieff is the leader of the Liberal Party, the opposition to the Conservative Party. He and his party are popular, but they don’t stand for anything.

US and Mexico (pre-Swine flu) – Obama charmed the leaders of Latin America – Bush promised lots to Mexico ($1.4 billion in helicopters and other cool stuff) but we haven’t given them a peso yet. http://www.superpigflu.com

Hostages in Columbia – Government says that numbers are down – NGOs say they’re lying.
30 pages later, Tamil Tigers still hanging on – will be tough for PM Rajapaksa to win over Tamils.

The tattoo guy said it meant ‘harmonious ocean’ – China is getting a kick-ass Navy, with an aircraft carrier soon. First naval deployment beyond the Pacific to fight pirates.

More Chinese Characters - Mao Zedong tried to convert character based language into alphabet. Instead he simplified them by reducing the number of strokes. Now, the govn't is planning to correct the simplification and make the characters more complicated.

Oh, by the way, Kuwait now owns your farm - Cambodia is getting lots of cash from Kuwait in exchange for land rights, but the deals probably won't work because local citizens tend not to like to give up their homes so the govn't can afford a road or a dam.

Bauxite, schmauxite - Vietnamese locals concerned about Chinese mining of bauxite - something about 'irreparable damge to the environment.' Vietnam govn't will probably just ignore them and go ahead anyway,

Immigration in Australia - recent asylum boat blew up - australia deciding how to handle refugees coming in on dangerous boats - stricter laws may not deter boat people. people smugglers - 'lowest form of life.'

Hans Blix, Oh No! - North Korea and their nuclear adventure aren't anything new - their missile was a dud and they threaten. a lot. China isn't interested in taking the lead. US could hold 6 party talks without them and plan for post-Kim N. Korea.

When pigs fly (or kill you) - The new Israeli PM, Netanyahu (also the old PM '96-'99) meets with Obama soon. Will Palestinians recognize Israel as a 'Jewish' state? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, is still an a-hole. But Obama thinks there's possibility of peace in middle east.

Rocking in Beirut - Lebanon is doing really well - GDP up 9%, bank deposits, tourism, new car sales all up. politics are all tied up with rival factions, so business can get work done. Oh, and their national debt is 162% of GDP, triple world average!

Powderkeg in Kenya – country about to blow up – rival parties could return to fighting, but they’re both stealing so much money, they don’t want to rock the boat. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General UN was the mediator.

South African Election Results – Jacob Zuma (sleazebag) and the ANC won – rival parties, Democratic Alliance and Cope (off shoot of ANC), did ok, DA doing better than expected, Cope doing worse.

Ukrainian MBA820 Case Study – They’ve got it all: 40% devalued currency, IMF loans, GDP contraction of 9%, export controls to appease populist politicians. People aren’t protesting b/c they have low expectations. Should consider auctioning dates with the Prime Minister

Did you hear the one about the Pole, South Korean, and Mexican? – Poland is doing well – bureaucratic government of past helped slow rapid housing expansion, so Poland not hurting as much now. Ranked 76th, behind Kazakhstan, in ease of doing business.

Left-wingery of German Politics – Social Democrats (SPD) v. Christian Democrats (CDU). Steinmeier (SPD) v. Merkel (current chancellor and CDU). Steinmeier is underdog and propose bunch of socialist stuff to pull votes away from Merkel (curbs on pay, cash bonus for people earning too little to file taxes

Basquetteball anyone? – Spain doesn’t want to play ball and negotiate with Basque separatists (ETA) since they’ve arrested senior leaders and feel that ETA is almost finished. The Economist listens to Great White?

Cyprus Hill – Island still divided between Turkish north and Greek south. Nationalist party won big election in North and now low prospects of Cyprus reunification continue to hurt Turkish EU chances.

My Bologna has a first name – Graduate education reforms are occurring in Europe. Standardized diplomas, work-related degrees, and more flexibility for schools to run their business. Bologna is Europe’s oldest university – founded in 1088.

Fishy smell from Europe – European fisherman are catching too many fish. Economist proposes ‘cap and trade’ solution (apparently their fix for everything!)

No bloke left behind – British schools are supposed to be graded, so parents can decide which schools are best for their kids. Didn’t work because bureaucratic inefficient government managed to screw up (cock up in British!) another good idea.

Can I get a British student loan? – interest rates pegged to inflation, measured by the retail price index. With deflation occurring, interest rates on student loans will be negative and taxpayers might help pay them off.

The Economist really doesn’t like Gordon Brown – The Labour party should be nice and help the people, not be snarky politicians, like Gordon Brown.

UN Conference on or for Racism? – Great work at the UN. Ahmadinejad calculates that the Holocaust did not exist. Considered a good thing that UN produced statements that just ignored the whole ‘middle east’ thing.

Venezuelan Bearer Bonds, anyone? – international disputes are often held in secret arbitration courts. US and Canada suggest that there should be more openness.

Oracle is buying ‘Business in Briefs’ for $2.4 billion – Oracle is a very rich software company in Silicon Valley. Larry Ellison is their very rich CEO. They bought a lot of other companies, recently Sun Microsystems. Software industry maturing through mergers and acquisitions.

Ich habe den Strom in meine Hose – Germany’s electricity market is messed up. No competition and the providers own the distribution so new competitors cannot enter easily.

Corporate Scandal?! Sacre Bleu! – French energy company, EDF, spied on Greenpeace to see when protesters were going to screw up their construction plans. Greenpeace doesn’t think that’s fair. Wah.

Daddy will not be happy – Rich Hong Kong billionaires have been trading assets between companies they own, but some rich punk named Dick Li went too far and got called out by the Hong Kong courts.

Chinese patents – China is playing the intellectual property game – protecting their inventions with more patents that the US last year.

DVR’s are not evil – TV execs worried that digital video recording would destroy power of TV advertising, but they didn’t make much of a difference since Americans are still lazy and don’t even fast forward through ads when they can. Hulu is an evil plot to take over the world.

Choo-Choo Trains! Keeping up with the Muhammad’s. – Middle Eastern countries are building kick-ass railroad systems to show off their money and because high-speed rail is cool.

Fiat/Chrysler – Fiat’s CEO Sergio Marchionne is ready to clean house at Chrysler if he can get deal terms that will make it work (debt concessions, etc…)

I’m a marketing major – monetary policy isn’t consistent worldwide. Some national banks and financial institutions have greater power than others and it impacts how effectively that can address the current crisis.

Say Dubai to your money – Dubai and Abu Dhabi spent a lot of money on ridiculous real estate projects and some think they’re not in good shape. They’ll do just fine with $300 billion in assets.

….and it’s gone – commercial real estate sucks in the US. Loan-to-value ratios used to be 95% and now delinquencies are on the rise.

Who is Mr. Buttonwood? – Housing prices are still relatively high, but more important statistics are related to affordability (mortgage rates) Homes as investment tools might not be feasible or popular for a long while.

Bank Bail-outs and stress tests, oh my! – investors waiting to hear results of ‘stress tests’ for major American banks. Treasury running out of money for more bail-outs. Europeans are just crossing their fingers.

We still trust the rating agencies? Really? – Moody’s, Standard & Poors, and Fitch, of the ‘mortgage securities are great investments’ fame, now have govn’t promoted roles in the new Fed lending programs.

Hey son, why don’t you just wait in the car? – Nobody likes the World Bank. Mr. Zoellick is president and didn’t do well getting money for his programs while people lined up to hand over cash to the IMF. Maybe that’s because it has a cooler sounding acronym.

Pakistan added you as a friend on Facebook– Pakistan scares everyone because it could implode any day – IMF and the ‘Friends of Pakistan’ give billions of dollars and their reserves are stronger.

Americanese Hot Money – China is up to some complicated stuff with US currency. They want to hide how much they hold in US Treasuries, but they also are committed to keeping the yuan down so it’s unlikely that they’d dump a bunch of their dollars.

Let’s make a ‘popular science’ magazine – and call it Nature. Sir John Maddox helped make science journalism consumable by the masses by making it more of a newspaper.

Was it yellow, then red, or the other way around? – Scientists can color cancer cells so that they’ll be easier to remove. Hooray.

Robotic one-eyed monster? – visual processing is difficult with two image sources, so seeing for a robot is easier with only one eye.

Hello? Ever heard of David Blaine? – Some cocky Canadian scientists think they’re cool because they made a 6mm robot levitate. Big deal!

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