Archive for December, 2009

Fighting Over Windmills

Friday, December 18th, 2009

They must think there is money here. They are actually fighting over it.

Wind Isn’t Free

Monsanto Blinks

Friday, December 18th, 2009

But farmers still on the hook. Still need to use poison on their fields. Incidentally, Roundup is out of patent too.

Seeds of Destruction

Freedom Through Work Stolen

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Story says it all:

“…the iron sign over the gate to the Auschwitz memorial with the infamous phrase “arbeit macht frei” — “work sets you free” — has been stolen.”

Can’t Make This Up

Buddy, Can You Spare Another Trillion ?

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Not just Fannie and Freddie. Of course we add the infamous AIG. And GMAC.

Next in line is… ?

This is getting repetitive. Just bail out the whole damn USA. Oh, wait, that would be exactly what China does…

Yankee Go Home

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Odd how bombing the countryside, supporting corrupt politicians and military strongmen pisses off the locals.

Pakistan Bites Back

Germany Feels the Heat

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Don’t we all. A brief list from Germany.

Tick invasions.Rising oceans. Shrinking rivers.Fish migrations. Earlier springs. Dying forests. Northbound climate zones. Tropical diseases.

More to the point, Germany is actually doing something about these.

Hot Times in Germany

Coming and Going

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Make bad loans. Watch ‘em default. Get bailed out by the Government. And then screw the borrowers all over again.

Not as easy as it used to be, though. Barclays clearly hasn’t paid enough to campaign finance for Ohio politicians.

This has been a bad day for Barclays. Morgan Stanley walks away from an eight billion dollar note. And now Ohio sues them for unfair loan modifications.

Ohio Beats on Bankers

Everyone’s Doing It

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Underwater on the house ? Walk away. If a large bank can do it, why not homeowners ?
Eight billion is a large note, but the song remains the same.

Of course, mortgage note holders don’t like this one bit. Just ask Barclay’s, the holder of the note on the five buildings that Morgan Stanley is running away from.

Efficient Breach or Ruthless Default ?

Dollar Dreams

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

After financing the twenty first century wars and other follies of the USA, the Dragon stirs, but only a little. Some quotes:

“The stability of the Chinese economy will be hurt by the huge debts racked up by the US”

“Chinese analysts believe the US government can ’spend money like a drunken sailor’ despite of the huge debts because of the dollar’s special position in the international financial market; it can transfer US deficits to countries and individuals who hold the assets in dollars.”

“…the deficits will also impact Chinese exports because as the deficit expands, the dollar may devaluate and affect exports.”

The last sentence sounds a bit naive. The reason China holds a lot of US Treasury paper is because China has a huge trade surplus with the USA. What else are they going to hold ? They got out of Fannie and Freddie, they have to spend the money on something. But if they don’t run such a large surplus, why they wont need to invest it all back in the US, will they ?

This surplus is fuelled partly by Chinese policy of pegging their currency to the US dollar.They peg their currency to the dollar to retain a trade advantage (among many other advantages). The US would love to inflate away the debt, and break the peg as well.

So… maybe the Chinese intend to relax the peg ? Because the US is quite broke, can’t buy much more, so the trade gap will diminish anyway ? So China does not need to be quite so aggressive with the peg ? And that last sentence is a tacit admission that they intend to let the dollar depreciate against the yuan?

Of course, the article might just be a stalking horse.

Interesting times, indeed.

Dollar Dreams

Wake-up Call On Water Crisis

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

A growing number of people, inclouding Bill McKibben of, are raising awareness that the reality of climate change is being seen in drinking water supplies around the world.

“Within a decade there are likely to be 150 million restive climate migrants roaming the globe. They won’t go quietly, wherever they go. Many of them might even immigrate to Sarah’s Alaska, as the permafrost thaws.”

In October, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), issued the report “Front Line of the Global Water Crisis: Efforts to Secure Safe Water in High Need Communities”.

Well over 1 billion people worldwide depend on sources of water that are frequently contaminated with pathological microorganisms and harmful chemicals resulting in over a million deaths each year from childhood diarrhea, childhood malnutrition, compromised cognitive development, and increased risks for cardiovascular disease and cancer. These health consequences are disproportionately borne by the world’s poorest communities. A number of stressors, including population growth, rapid depletion of non‐replenishable aquifers that large populations are currently dependent upon for their daily water needs, and global warming, threaten to reduce the availability of safe drinking water in the coming decades. The solutions to the global water crises will not as simple as a technological or political breakthrough. Instead creative and sophisticated solutions are needed in a diversity of challenging contexts. Elements of effective solutions will include resource use that is ecologically sustainable over the long term, sound and appropriate technology, a financing approach that provides sustainable services, an approach that is culturally and politically acceptable, and approaches that can be scaled up to reach the hundreds of millions of households at high risk for waterborne diseases. Different approaches are feasible at different income levels. While middle and high income countries will be stressed by the global water crisis, the greatest challenges to improving water supplies are in low income settings, in urban areas with extremely high levels of environmental contamination and in rural areas where the cost of providing sufficient safe water using current approaches is often prohibitively expensive. These problems are difficult, but not insoluble. A key to addressing them is engaging the skills and creativity of a broad range of professionals. Expertise required includes hydrogeology, chemistry, microbiology, anthropology, economics, epidemiology, behavior change, fund raising and advocacy. Providing sufficient safe water to populations at highest need is a broad challenging research problem; it is also a human problem worthy of our collective effort.

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