January 29, 2012

The Export From Davos


In private conversations here this week, senior officials from the United States, Europe and Asia expressed a mixture of resignation and alarm that Greece may yet default on its government debts, despite several efforts by eurozone members to cobble together a credible rescue. Some warned that such an outcome could spook investors into pulling funds out of larger economies such as Italy and Spain, raising the prospect of defaults in those countries. A few suggested this could eventually trigger the breakup of the eurozone and the end of its shared currency, an event that could produce panic rivaling that seen after the investment banking giant Lehman Brothers collapsed more than three years ago.

In a riveting address here on Saturday, Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang recalled his place at the epicenter of the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, and the experience of the 2008 global credit pullback, asserting that the current situation is worse.

“I’ve never been as scared as now about the world, what is happening in Europe,” he said.

January 29, 2012

Full Of Gas

American politicians are full of gas, but unfortunately there’s less of it left in the earth:

The Energy Information Administration said the sharp downward revisions to its estimates were informed by more data. “Drilling in the Marcellus accelerated rapidly in 2010 and 2011, so that there is far more information available today than a year ago,” its report said. Jonathan Cogan, a spokesman for the agency, added that Pennsylvania had made far more data available than in previous years.

Under the agency’s new estimates, the Marcellus shale, which was previously thought to hold enough gas to meet the entire nation’s demand for 17 years at current consumption rates, contains instead a six-year supply. The report comes just five months after the United States Geological Survey released its own estimate of 84 trillion cubic feet for the Marcellus shale.

The estimates are important because they underpin policy decisions on energy subsidies and exports. Market analysts look to these estimates in making investment decisions. Historically, they have varied widely based on assumptions about the future of technology, coming regulations on drilling and the long-term price of gas.

January 24, 2012

Land of Equality

In the U.S., everyone has an equal right to donate $5 million to elect a president — so stop complaining:

In making the couple’s second $5 million contribution, Dr. Adelson expressed a wish to Winning Our Future officials that the money be used “to continue the pro-Newt message,” one of the people familiar with the contribution said, rather than attack Mr. Romney.

The Adelsons’ contributions on Mr. Gingrich’s behalf illustrate how rapidly a new era of unlimited political money is reshaping the rules of presidential politics and empowering individual donors to a degree unseen since before the Watergate scandals.

January 22, 2012

Suck It Up You American Workers!

Want your manufacturing jobs back? Be willing to work for $17 per day, work 12-hour days six days a week, and live in a company dormitory:

Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhonemanufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone’s screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.

A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

January 21, 2012

Doomed To Be Dumb

And yet they also want to make the state attractive for business:

If lawmakers adopt Nixon’s proposed funding cuts, Missouri’s public colleges and universities will have seen their state aid cut by about 25 percent during a three-year period. Their financial troubles are compounded by the fact that student enrollment has been growing and — under an agreement with Nixon — schools held tuition flat during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years.

January 15, 2012

More Doom And Gloom to Come

Now that the holidays are over, and winter has really set in, it’s time to resume the gloom and doom 😉 To get you re-started, consider that only 30 percent of Americans have a passport (perhaps simply for economic reasons). Then read this:

QUELLE horreur! One of the uglier revelations about President Obama emerging from the Republican primaries is that he is trying to turn the United States into Europe.

“He wants us to turn into a European-style welfare state,” warned Mitt Romney. Countless versions of that horrific vision creep into Romney’s speeches, suggesting that it would “poison the very spirit of America.”