Friday, September 30, 2005

Mighty Mice Regrow Organs
Genetically altered mice discovered accidentally at the Wistar Institute in Pennsylvania have the seemingly miraculous ability to regenerate like a salamander, and even regrow vital organs.
Researchers systematically amputated digits and damaged various organs of the mice, including the heart, liver and brain, most of which grew back

Quick Overview

  • Manufacturing growth in Chicago jumped from 49.2% to 60.5% in September following its first contraction in more than two years, the National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago said Friday

  • U.S. consumer confidence dropped this month to 76.9 from 89.1 in August, according to the University of Michigan’s monthly consumer sentiment index.

  • U.S. personal income in August was down 0.1% while spending was down 0.5%, the biggest drop in three years, led by a slump in automobile purchases, the Commerce Department reported Friday

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that 12 refineries remain closed, resulting in the daily loss of 1.3 million barrels of gasoline, 700,000 barrels of distillates, and 400,000 barrels of jet fuel

  • Pennsylvania will build the nation's first commercial plant to convert waste coal into no-sulfur diesel fuel and home-heating oil, the Associated Press reported.

  • The U.S. Minerals Management Service said today that 98% of oil production and 79% of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remains closed.

  • The USDA said that, as of September:
    Corn stocks totaled 2.112 billion bushels, up 120% YoY and the most in twelve years.
    Soybean stocks totaled 256 million bushels, up 127% YoY.
    Wheat stocks totaled 1.919 billion bushels, down 1% YoY.

  • U.S. railroad freight traffic rose for the week ended Sept. 24 from a year ago despite damage caused to rail lines by Hurricane Rita, the Association of American Railroads said.

  • The USDA also said that the 2005-2006 U.S. wheat crop will total 2.098 billion bushels, down from last month's estimate of 2.167 billion bushels.

  • December soybean oil was up 1.09 to 23.95, the highest close in nearly two months, with talk that high energy prices may increase demand for biodiesel.

  • The USDA said that as of September 1st all U.S. hogs and pigs were 61.536 million head, up slightly from a year ago. YoY The September 1st breeding herd was also up slightly and YoY the June to August pig crop was up 0 .4%.

  • Japans household spending was up 3.2% in August, the first gain in four months; Industrial production was up 1.2% in August; Consumer prices were down 0.3% in August. The positive consumer price data showing that deflation was easing, combined with other upbeat economic figures on Friday, added fuel to the debate on whether the Bank of Japan should soon end its ultraeasy monetary policy.

  • Brazil's stocks notched yet another record high on Friday thanks to strong foreign investor appetite for assets in Latin America's largest country.

  • YoY India's GDP was up 8.1% in the first quarter- topping forecasts.

  • Retail sales in Australia were up 0.6% in August.

  • Canada's GDP was up 0.2% in July and up 2.6% YoY.

Freezing gas prices
There is a man who fills up his tank once every two months. One tank of gas, literally, lasts him two months. He is freezing the price of gas by freezing something else.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.3% in the second quarter, down from 3.8% in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

  • U.S. Jobless claims dropped 79,000 to 356,000, less than expected. According to CBS Market Watch 60,000 of the jobless claims were linked to Hurricane Katrina.

  • The DoE said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 53 billion cubic feet last week to 2.885 trillion cubic feet. YoY supplies are now down 4%.

  • The U.S. Minerals Management Service said that 99% of oil production and 80% of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remain stopped.

  • U.S. Manufacturers want to see China's Yuan currency "appreciate significantly," the largest U.S. manufacturing group said on Thursday in its latest salvo over what it sees as Beijing's unfair trade practices.

  • Germany's unemployment rate increased from 11.6% to 11.7% in September.

  • Retail sales in Japan were up 1.5% in August, stronger than expected.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Is Indicted and Forced to Step Down as Majority Leader
State law prohibits use of corporate contributions to advocate the election or defeat of state candidates, and prosecutors accuse the DeLay organization of engaging in a complex scheme to circumvent the law.
Green energy 25-30 pct of world mix by 2050-Shell

Growth in renewable energy sources is robust and they may account for a quarter of global consumption by 2050, an executive with Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. orders for durable goods rose 3.3% in August, more than analysts had expected, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

  • Starting Thursday, Minnesota will become the first state to require that all diesel fuel contain 2% biodiesel made from soybeans in its mix, the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper reported.

  • California's housing market is overvalued by up to 45 percent and at a "tipping point" that will end its red-hot growth cycle, the UCLA Anderson Forecast projected on Wednesday.

  • The DOE said today that as much as 15 percent of U.S. refinery capacity could be out for another couple of weeks or more. Today's inventory report showed that last week refineries were operating at 86.7% of capacity.

  • The U.S. Minerals Management Service said that 100% of oil production and 80% of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remains closed.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said that:
    Crude oil supplies were down 2.4 million barrels last week to 305.7 million barrels.
    Unleaded gasoline supplies were up 4.4 million barrels
    Heating oil supplies were down 2.5 million barrels.

  • YoY the GDP in the U.K. increased 1.5% in the second quarter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Crying Sheep
Are global oil supplies about to peak? Are they, in other words, about to reach their maximum and then go into decline? There is a simple answer to this question: no one has the faintest idea.

Quick Overview

  • The Conference Board said its index of consumer confidence for September slid to 86.6, down from 105.5 in August and the lowest reading in nearly two years.

  • Sales of new homes plunged in August by the largest amount in nine months as the nation's housing industry continued to flash mixed signals about whether the boom is starting to fade.
    The report showed sales of single-family homes decreased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.237 million last month from 1.373 million. The 9.9% decline reported by the Commerce Department was the largest since sales fell 10.0% in November 2004.

  • German business confidence unexpectedly rose to 96 from August's 94.6 an eight-month high in September.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Quick Overview

  • Sales of existing homes rose to the second-highest level on record in August, to a 7.29 million annual rate, and the median price rose 15.8 percent to a record $220,000 the National Association of Realtors said Monday.

  • U.S. railroad freight traffic set new records for the week ended Sept. 17, the Association of American Railroads said.

  • While the high-flying housing market still holds risks, especially for the financially stretched, most homeowners are in a fairly good position to weather a shock if prices drop, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Monday.

  • The U.S. Minerals Management Service said today that 100% of oil production and 78% of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remains closed.

  • China's central bank predicted that GDP will be up 9.2% this year.

An Evening With Mr. Galloway
George Galloway, like Cindy Sheehan, represents what, in the study of chaos, is known as the “butterfly effect,” (i.e., the capacity for individuals to affect change through the reiteration of their influences upon a system). Such people serve as “attractors” to others who share their sentiments. Through such spontaneous and open-ended means as the Internet, men and women are able to create networks of shared opinions. They become catalysts for change, a process upon which all creative and productive systems depend
American fury over Greenspan leak
French claim Fed chairman admits US has lost control of budget
NSA granted Net location-tracking patent
The National Security Agency has obtained a patent on a method of figuring out an Internet user's geographic location. Patent 6,947,978 describes a way to discover someone's physical location by comparing it to a "map" of Internet addresses with known locations. The NSA's patent relies on measuring the latency, meaning the time lag between...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Dangers of a Drunk Dubya
Like the President, I’m a recovering alcoholic. Unlike him, I’ve been sober for 11 years, three months and 16 days. Bush says he quit drinking without help from any organized program. I had a lot of help – from family, friends and Alcoholics Anonymous. As an alcoholic, I can say without hesitation that available evidence tells me that Bush is drinking and drinking heavily.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Brazil to ask WTO to impose trade sanctions on US
A WTO resolution in March asked the US government to eliminate subsidies on cotton producers and exporters, saying they caused a grave damage to Brazil because of their negative effect on the international price of cotton.

Quick Overview

  • Almost 30% of U.S. oil-refining capacity is offline because of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, Bloomberg reported Friday.

  • Mexico's central bank on Friday pushed interest rates 25 basis points lower for the second straight month to revive a tepid economy.

  • China's central bank surprised the markets this morning by saying that they would increase the Yuan's daily allowable range from 1.5% to 3.0% for the non-dollar currencies.

  • Brazil's stocks closed at a new all-time high on Friday for the third time this week, while the national currency surged to a fresh 41-month high .

  • The United States is under rising pressure to make hard concessions on farm subsidies after a Friday meeting with three other trade powers failed to break a deadlock that threatens global trade talks.

  • November lumber closed up its $10 daily limit again, at $326.00, with traders anticipating a lot of re-building activity after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

  • The USDA said that there were 10.0 million head of cattle on feed as of September 1st, up slightly from a year ago. August placements were down 5% from a year ago and marketing’s were up 6%

Thursday, September 22, 2005

EPA Proposes Easing Reporting Requirements on Toxic Pollution

The looser reporting requirements are intended to let off the hook as many as a third of the 23,000 companies that now report their pollution to the government, according to the EPA.

Build a "BETTER" Bush
Oil Rigs in the Gulf & Rita

Quick Overview

  • The index of U.S. leading economic indicators fell 0.2 % in August to 137.6 for a second straight month as rising gasoline prices lowered consumer confidence even before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the Conference Board reported Thursday.

  • The number of U.S. workers filing initial unemployment benefits jumped by 8,000 last week to 432,000, the highest level in more than two years, following dislocations and job losses in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. (103,000 of those claims were said to be related to Hurricane Katrina).

  • Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on Thursday rejected suggestions of an oil shortage and said prices should drop to $40 to $45 a barrel from well over $60.

  • Reuters is reporting that 21% of U.S. refinery capacity is closed - ten refineries in Texas and one in Louisiana.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground natural gas supplies were up 74 billion cubic feet last week to 2.932 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are now down 3% from a year ago

  • Archer Daniels Midland said that they plan to increase their ethanol production by 500 million gallons by the year 2008.

  • November lumber closed up $10 it’s max daily limit due to the hurricanes.

  • Brazil's jobless rate held steady at a three-year-low in August and inflation slowed, official data showed on Thursday.

  • Japan's trade surplus shrank 80 percent in August from a year earlier, much more than economists had expected as high oil prices boosted import costs, but firm exports suggested that an economic recovery remained on track.

  • Canada's consumer price index was up 2.6% in August from a year ago, the biggest gain in two years. Excluding energy, consumer prices were up 1.6% in August from a year ago.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fed May Sacrifice Growth to Prevent Inflation
``When push comes to shove, the Fed will opt in an unmistakable fashion to preserve the inflation achievements they have,'' said Anthony Karydakis, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. ``They will be very willing to sacrifice some growth for a while to keep inflation under control.''

Quick Overview

  • The DOE said that:
    Crude oil supplies were down 300,000 barrels at 308.1 million barrels.
    Unleaded gasoline supplies were up 3.4 million barrels
    Heating oil supplies were up 1.7 million barrels.
    Gasoline demand over the past four weeks was down 2.1% from a year ago.
    The DOE also said that last week refineries were operating at 90.8% of capacity

  • The USDA said that there were 22.1 million pounds of frozen pork bellies in storage on August 31st, up 45% YoY, but down substantially from last month's 50.3 million pounds.

  • The USDA said that Frozen pork totaled 417.7 million pounds, up 9% YoY.

  • The USDA said there were 1.40 billion pounds of frozen orange juice concentrate in storage as of August 31st, down 23% YoY.

  • The world economy is set to grow a swift 4.3 percent this year and next -- above the 3.9 percent average of the past decade -- despite higher oil prices and a battering from Hurricane Katrina, the IMF said on Wednesday.

  • Canada's retail sales hit a new high of C$31.3 billion in July, up 1.5% on the month and up 7.9% from a year ago.

  • Consumer spending in France was up 1.9% in August.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Quick Overview

  • The Federal Reserve on Tuesday boosted the fed funds rate for the 11th straight time and signaled that more rate hikes were probable even as the country recovers from the destructive effects of Hurricane Katrina.

  • Australia, Brazil and Thailand have accused the European Union
    of failing to comply with a World Trade Organization decision that its
    subsidies to sugar producers were illegal.

  • A group of commercial fishermen has filed a suit over alleged damage to fisheries caused by oil that spilled following Hurricane Katrina.

  • Land prices in central Tokyo rose for the first time since 1990 in the 12 months ended July 1.

  • OPEC on Tuesday offered up every last barrel of its spare production. OPEC agreed to keep their production at 28.0 million barrels a day, but will make another 2.0 million barrels of crude oil a day available for three months beginning on October 1st.

  • New construction on US housing units slipped 1.3 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.009 million units. The decline was slightly larger than expected. Economists were calling for a decline to 2.025 million, from 2.042 million in July.

  • Texas refineries are still in Rita's anticipated path for later this week.

  • Canada's composite index of leading indicators increased 0.3% in August to 206.3. Wholesale sales were down 0.5% in July to C$39.7 billion, the first decline in six months.

  • Chile and China could sign a free trade agreement as early as November, linking the world's biggest producer and consumer of copper, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos told Reuters on Tuesday.

  • Italy's unemployment rate dropped from 7.8% to 7.7% in the second quarter, the lowest in over a decade.
US fiscal fix needed for global adjustment--study
A balanced U.S. budget, a 20 percent decline in the dollar and a sharp rise in Asian currencies are needed to cut the U.S. current account gap to a sustainable level, a study released on Monday said.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Rising cost of debt much more dangerous
In the 1970s, the Fed tried to accommodate both higher energy costs and war by creating more, not less, availability of credit. The result was inflation. Even with Alan Greenspan gone, they're not likely to make that mistake again
Greenspan, Fed face new 'conundrum' on rate hike
"All the bets are on a Fed rate hike," said David Rosenberg, chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. "Futures are priced 86 percent of the way for a Fed rate hike this Tuesday."

Quick Overview

  • With fallout from the Hurricane Katrina disaster expected to slow economic growth over the rest of the year, the Federal Reserve could postpone its campaign of raising interest rates, the Associated Press reported Monday. .. And Rita may be on the way

  • Some federal lawmakers are considering delaying spending projects, including within the $286 billion federal highway act signed into law in August, in the wake of massive bills facing the country because of Hurricane Katrina, the Associated Press reported.

  • The USDA's good to excellent crop ratings for:
    Corn was 52%, up from 51% last week.
    Soybeans were 53%, down from 54% last week.
    Cotton was 62%, down from 65% last week.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Clues to a Hedge Fund's Collapse
All three men knew the situation was dire at Bayou - the funds' losses had vastly overwhelmed their gains for more than two years. Something had to be done, and fast.
Chart of the day
Gold Point & Figure

Solvency: Gone With the Wind
There are a lot of maps out there. Too many of them are treasure maps.

You don’t need a treasure map. You need an escape route.

You can’t read all the maps. You have to decide which maps make sense and which maps you can understand. Then you have to decide to take action in terms of what the maps seem to indicate.

Some maps are clear. The map governing the fiscal reality of Social Security/Medicare is crystal clear. The financial well will start running dry in 2011, when the post-World War II baby boomers start retiring by the millions. That is six years away. Social Security will still produce a surplus until 2017, but Medicare won’t. The two programs are linked at the hip politically.

The Federal government’s red ink is already flowing. It will get steadily worse six years from now. Then it will become a flood.

Friday, September 16, 2005

E-mail suggests government seeking to blame groups

The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."
Chinese less keen to hold US dollars

Fewer people deposited dollars in the three months to the end of August and more people withdrew them, the survey found.

No Bankruptcy Relief for Katrina Victims
Rep. Sensenbrenner, Who Voted Against Hurricane Relief, Refuses to Hold Hearings

"These new requirements, coupled with strict deadlines for production upon the penalty of an automatic dismissal are difficult for the most organized person to meet, never mind someone who has had his or her home destroyed by Katrina," said the statement.

Sensenbrenner was one of 11 Republicans who voted against a massive relief package for Katrina victims.
Current account gap shrinks

The current account, the broadest measure of U.S. trade with the rest of the world as it includes investment flows, ran at 6.3 percent of gross domestic product in the second quarter compared with 6.5 percent in the previous three months, a Commerce Department official said.

Quick Overview

  • Crude oil prices fell for the fifth day in six on signs that higher prices are slowing global demand. OPEC may decide to increase oil production by another 500,000 barrels a day when they meet in Vienna on Monday

  • The University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment index for September fell to 76.9 from 89.1 in August, the biggest one-month drop since 1980.

  • Argentina's central bank may increase gold reserves as a hedge against inflation and protection against a financial crisis, Juan Ignacio Basco, bank head of market operations, said yesterday in London

  • U.S. Benchmark gold futures closed at a 17-year high on Friday because of a robust demand for bullion. "Fiat currencies at 17-year low."

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Quick Overview

  • The global financial system has strengthened over the past year, giving it a substantial cushion against potential financial shocks, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

  • OPEC, whose members pump more than a third of the world's oil, lowered its forecast for growth in world oil demand for a fifth consecutive month, citing lower predicted demand in the United States and China, Bloomberg reported.

  • Prices paid by consumers rose 0.5% in August, while the so-called "core" consumer price index, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.1%, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

  • Manufacturing growth in New York state declined this month as costs rose, according to a monthly survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released Thursday.

  • The number of U.S. workers filing initial unemployment benefits jumped by 71,000 last week in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the biggest jump in more than nine years.

  • Business inventories fell 0.5% in July, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

  • The Canadian Press said today the agricultural losses from Hurricane Katrina total $3 billion with the largest part coming from the timber industry. $2 billion losses are in Mississippi and $1 billion are in Louisiana. Damage also occurred to cotton fields, pecan trees, poultry, cattle, and dairy operations.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 89 billion cubic feet last week to 2.758 trillion cubic feet. YoY supplies are now down 4%. The U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) said that 34% of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico is still closed.

  • Chinese fixed-asset investment in August grew a stronger-than-expected 28.5 percent from a year earlier, as heavy spending on energy and transportation offset a cooling property sector.

  • Retail sales in the U.K. were flat in August, weaker than expected.

  • The Green Coffee Association said that U.S. coffee stocks totaled 4.33 million bags at the end of August, down 121,189 bags for the month.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Home Prices Jump 17% in Southland

The median home price in the six-county region rose 17% to $476,000 last month compared with the year-earlier period, after year-over-year increases of 16.7% in July and 15% in June, according to DataQuick Information

Quick Overview

  • Retail sales fell 2.1% in August from the previous month, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday--the biggest drop in four years.

  • Production at U.S. factories, mines and utilities rose a less-than-expected 0.1% in August, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.

  • The Mortgage Bankers Association said its index of total mortgage applications for home purchase and refinancing loans fell 1.4 percent to 760.6 in the week ended September 9. The index rose 6.8 percent in the previous week

  • The U.S. DoE said that:
    Crude Oil supplies were down 6.6 million barrels last week to 308.4 million barrels.
    Unleaded gasoline supplies were up 1.9 million barrels
    Heating oil supplies were up 400,000 barrels.
    The DOE also said that the nation's refineries were operating at 87.3% of capacity, up from 86.8% the week before.

  • Repairing roads and bridges damaged by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast states could cost as much as $5 billion, Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said Tuesday after touring the region, Bloomberg reported.

  • Reuters news reported that the Port of New Orleans is gradually returning to business after being closed for two weeks. They said that two of the port's 27 terminals were in service and operations are expected to slowly resume.

  • Argentine stocks closed at a record high on Wednesday, led by a rise in banking shares on speculation of a possible share buyback for BBVA Banco Frances by its Spanish parent, traders said

  • The Bank of Japan is "very close" to ending its ultra-loose monetary policy, its deputy governor said yesterday, although he stressed that current policy would be maintained until deflationary expectations were eradicated.

  • Unemployment in the U.K remained at 4.7%.

  • Canada's manufacturing shipments were down 1.4% in July to C$50.1 billion.

  • YoY China's industrial production was up 16%.
Economic lunacy

According to a couple of poorly trained economists, there's a bright side to Hurricane Katrina's destruction...
There Are No Commies in China
Fred just finished the last bag-drag back from China...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Quick Overview

  • U.S. consumer confidence in the economy fell to its lowest level since June 2004, driven down by the concerns over high gasoline prices and Hurricane Katrina's destruction along the Gulf Coast, ABC News and the Washington Post said on Tuesday.

  • U.S. producer prices were up 0.6% in August and up 5.1% YoY. Excluding food and energy costs, prices were unchanged for the month.

  • U.S. exports increased somewhat in July to $106.2 billion while imports fell a little to $164.2 billion.

  • Hurricane Katrina's aftermath will have an isolated effect on the hiring prospects of U.S. employers, with nearly a third expecting to add to their payrolls in the fourth quarter, according to a survey by Manpower Inc., the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

  • The federal government is beginning what some planners are calling one of the biggest bursts of federal housing development in U.S. history, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

  • The U.S. government is considering temporarily reducing the tariff on Canadian lumber to make more building supplies available after Hurricane Katrina.

  • The USDA's good to excellent crop rating for:
    Corn was 51%, unchanged from a week ago.
    Soybeans were 54%, unchanged from a week ago.
    Cotton was 65%, up from 64% a week ago.

  • YoY Consumer prices in the U.K. were up 2.4% in August -- the most in eight years.

  • Canadian exports totaled C$38.0 billion in July, up 2.1% on the month. Imports totaled C$32.2 billion, down 0.5% in July.

  • YoY Retail sales in China were up 12.5% in August.

  • The cost of shipping commodities such as iron ore, coal and crude oil is poised to rise through the rest of this year as Chinese steel mills and refineries increase imports, according to shipbroker Lorentzen & Stemoco said, Bloomberg reports .

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Monopoly on Life
Gandhi: “The individual has a soul, but the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from the violence to which it owes its very existence.”
China tops world with 80% foreign trade dependence:
China's foreign trade dependence has reached 80 percent, which is considerably higher than that of other developed and developing countries. China has become the country with the highest foreign trade dependence in the world.
Container throughput at Shanghai Port sets new high
The container throughput of the Shanghai Port increased by 27 percent year-on-year
Inflation fears send gold price to record levels

Recent figures have also revealed gold demand rose 14 per cent worldwide in the second quarter..

Pentagon Revises Nuclear Strike Plan
The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
Cover-up: toxic waters 'will make New Orleans unsafe for a decade'

The pollution was far worse than had been admitted, he said, because his agency was failing to take enough samples and was refusing to make public the results of those it had analysed. "Inept political hacks" running the clean-up will imperil the health of low-income migrant workers by getting them to do the work.

Quick Overview

  • Manufacturers are gearing up to supply everything from construction materials to home appliances in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday

  • Hurricane Katrina will not do lasting harm to U.S. growth and the impact on monetary policy is unclear, a top Fed policymaker said on Monday, in remarks that reinforce expectations for a rate hike next week.

  • The U.S. Minerals Management Services update showed that 57% of oil production and 38% of natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico remain closed.

  • The USDA's 2005-2006 U.S. crop estimate for:
    Corn was increased from 10.350 to 10.639 billion bushels.
    Soybeans were increased from 2.791 to 2.856 billion bushels.
    Wheat remained at 2.167 billion bushels.
    Sugar was lowered from 7.991 to 7.964 million tons.
    Cotton was increased from 21.29 to 22.28 million bales.

  • The USDA's 2005-2006 U.S. ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was increased from 1.900 to 2.079 billion bushels.
    Soybeans were increased from 180 to 205 million bushels.
    Wheat was lowered from 634 to 624 million bushels.
    Sugar was increased from .785 to 1.014 million tons.
    Cotton remained at 7.0 million bales.

  • The USDA's good to excellent crop rating for:
    Corn was 51%, unchanged from a week ago.
    Soybeans were 54%, unchanged from a week ago.
    Cotton was 65%, up from 64% a week ago.

  • The International Monetary Fund urged Beijing to introduce more flexibility for its yuan currency to help protect the Chinese economy and help correct global trade imbalances.

  • Japan's GDP was up 0.8% in the second quarter, stronger than expected. For the first half of 2005, the GDP was up an annual rate of 4.6%.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Oil prices eating away at high-flying Chinese economy

Deutsche Bank said China is about five times as energy-intensive as the U.S. which means its takes five times as much energy to produce a dollar of GDP.
Chart of the day

Long term T-Bond Rate minus Discount Rate

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Katrina's Costs Could Approach That of War
..costs are certain to climb to $200 billion in the coming weeks. The final accounting could approach the more than $300 billion spent in four years to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Barbara Bush: It's Good Enough for the Poor

Like mother, like son.
Even when a hurricane hits, the apple does not fall far from the tree.
God Outdoes Terrorists Yet Again
As always, painfully funny truth from The Onion.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Indians just can't stop buying gold
The stats are mind-boggling. Compared to the first six months of ’04, India’s gold purchases are up by more than half, says leading independent precious metals consultancy, GFMS. Jewellery purchases in tonnage was up by more than 40%.

Quick Overview

  • Petroleum costs pushed the cost of goods imported into the United States up by 1.3% in August, the Labor Department reported Friday. But other import prices remained subdued.

  • Canada's unemployment rate in August was unchanged at 6.8%.

  • France's industrial production was down 0.9% in July.

  • The U.S. Minerals Management Service announced that 60% of oil production and 38% of natural gas production in the gulf remains closed.

  • YoY South Africa's gold mining production was down 12% in July.
The Bush administration can indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen it determines to be an enemy combatant in the war on terrorism, a federal appeals court ruled.
When government fails

Most of the New Orleanians seeking public shelter are poor and black. Barbara Bush, the president’s mother, earned no thanks from him for her remark that because many survivors “were underprivileged anyway”, their Astrodome quarters are “working very well for them”.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Warnings were loud and clear - but still city drowned
With hindsight, it is clear that the seeds of what one Republican senator called yesterday the “woeful” government response were sown with shoddy planning..
..Despite calls since the September 11 attacks for a comprehensive new evacuation plan for New Orleans, the one in place last week had last been updated in 2000,..

In order that all men might be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it. Dr. Samuel Johnson
FEMA Wants No Photos of Dead
U.N. Report Cites U.S. and Japan as the 'Least Generous Donors'
While crediting the United States with being the world's largest donor, the report points out that among the world's richest countries, America is second to last in aid as a portion of its national income, with Italy bringing up the rear. Japan was third from the bottom. Aid per capita from donors ranges from more than $200 in Sweden to $51 in the United States and $37 in Italy.
Seeking Oil in Troubled Waters
Deputy Secretary of State, Robert Zoellick has warned that Beijing's ties with 'troublesome' states such as Burma and Zimbabwe, were ''going to have repercussions elsewhere'' and the Chinese would have to decide if they wanted to pay the price.
Is FEMA Ready For Bay Area Earthquake?
We've never been able to get that message through to the Department of Homeland Security. The funding has systematically gone into terrorism and away from natural disasters," she said.

In fact, she says in the West Coast region -- covering the Bay Area -- the number of federal specialists dealing with earthquakes is a simple number: just one.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were down 6.4 million barrels to 315.0 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were down 4.3 million barrels
    Heating oil supplies were up 500,000 barrels.
    Refineries were running at 86.8% of capacity last week.
    Crude oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve remained unchanged at 700.5 million barrels.
    Underground supplies of natural gas were up 36 billion cubic feet last week to 2.669 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are now down 3% from a year ago.

  • U.S. jobless claims were down 1,000 last week to 319,000. Job losses due to Hurricane Katrina were estimated at 10,000.

  • U.S. wholesale sales were up 0.5% in July while inventories were down 0.1%.

  • Today's USDA Drought Monitor shows extreme drought conditions hanging on in northern Illinois and southwest Arkansas.

  • Japans index of coincident economic indicators was at 22.2% in July, an sign of contraction. Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui said on Thursday the BOJ would need to make sure deflation was well and truly beaten before scrapping its ultra-easy monetary policy, and he appeared to leave the door open to leaving rates at zero even once the policy was abandoned.

  • The unemployment rate in Australia remained at 5.0% in August, the lowest in 29 years.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

We are away - updates resume Friday, September 09, 2005

Monday, September 05, 2005

Experts: Too many people in nature's way
The expanding U.S. population "has migrated to hazard-prone areas — to Florida, the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, particularly barrier islands, to California :(

They cite examples of poorer nations that in ways do a better job than the rich:
No one was reported killed when Ivan struck Cuba in 2004, its worst hurricane in 50 years and a storm that, after weakening, killed 25 people in the United States
U.S. Refineries are struggling back. On Monday crude oil flows improved enough to allow 10 refineries in the Gulf Coast and Midwest to climb back up to full capacity. However four Gulf Coast refineries look to remain shut affecting some 5% of U.S. capacity.
Flood horrors the US can't hide

Perhaps now, following the disaster on the Gulf coast, the people of the US will wake up to the fact the current administration is not and never has been primarily concerned with the welfare of its citizens ..

..I'm sorry Bush had to cut his vacation short. But at least he got past war protester mom Cindy Sheehan without getting noticed. I'm really angry.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

While Bush fiddles, New Orleans dies

With the water coming from the sky and the bottom of the sea, driving with such ferocity that a major American city, New Orleans, followed its face into the water, George W. Bush was at North Island in Coronado, Calif., speaking to a blindingly white audience of 9,000 sailors in uniform..

..Friday, showing up on the fifth day of a national tragedy, Bush made a little humorous aside about the times he was in New Orleans celebrating too much. Beautiful! If he tried to walk fifty yards he could have tripped over somebody's dead black grandmother under a blanket

"We need food and water and they sent us men with guns" : Katrina survivor

Saturday, September 03, 2005

United States of Shame It would be one thing if President Bush and his inner circle - Dick Cheney was vacationing in Wyoming; Condi Rice was shoe shopping at Ferragamo's on Fifth Avenue and attended "Spamalot" before bloggers chased her back to Washington; and Andy Card was off in Maine - lacked empathy but could get the job done. But it is a chilling lack of empathy combined with a stunning lack of efficiency that could make this administration implode

"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government": Thomas Jefferson:

Superdome Evacuations Temporarily Halted

At one point Friday, the evacuation was interrupted briefly when school buses pulled up so some 700 guests and employees from the Hyatt Hotel could move to the head of the evacuation line — much to the amazement of those who had been crammed in the Superdome since last Sunday.

"How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us?" exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Chart of the day

The personal saving rate is now a negative 0.6%
Harder they fall: Sydney's biggest housing slump
With home prices in the city still about seven times the average annual wage - well above historic ratios of five times typical pay - economists are predicting more falls over the next five years.

Quick Overview

  • Employers added 169,000 workers to payrolls in August and the unemployment rate fell to 4.9% from 5% in July, the Labor Department said Friday.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Disaster scenario for refining
a sizable proportion of gulf production has been shut down, including 95 per cent of oil and 88 per cent of natural gas, or 1.43 million barrels a day of oil and 8.8 billion cubic feet a day of gas. That represents about 20 per cent of the United States' oil production and a quarter of natural gas output.
No one can say they didn't see it coming
In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. ..

Quick Overview

  • Wholesale gasoline prices continued to rise because Hurricane Katrina, and retail outlets in many states already were feeling a supply pinch and raising prices well above $3 a gallon, news services reported Thursday.

  • The Department of Energy said that underground natural gas supplies were up 58 billion cubic feet last week to 2.633 trillion cubic feet. YoY supplies are down 2% . This before Katrina.

  • The U.S. Minerals Management Service said today that 90% of oil production and 79% of natural gas production is still down in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • is reporting that eight refineries are closed due to Hurricane Katrina and that it will may be a month or more before they are running again. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy said that some refineries may not work again for several months.

  • U.S. Jobless claims were up 3,000 to 320,000 last week.

  • Personal spending jumped 1% in July as consumers continued to take advantage of automakers’ discounts, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

  • The Institute for Supply Management said Thursday that its manufacturing index slowed in August to 53.6 from 56.6 in July.

  • U.S. Construction spending held steady at a $1.099 trillion annual rate in July, stemming four straight monthly declines, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Lumber was up it's $10 limit.

  • Brazil's economy grew at 3.9 percent from a year earlier more than expected.

  • The European Central Bank kept it’s key interest rate unchanged at 2.0% and lessened its growth estimates for the Euro zone from 1.4% to 1.3% in 2005 and from 2.0% to 1.8% in 2006.