Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Quick Overview

  • Worried about inflation, Federal Reserve policymakers at their May meeting considered raising a key interest rate by half a percentage point before opting for a quarter-point increase.

  • The National Association of Purchasing Management's Chicago index of business activity increased from 57.2 to 61.5 in May, stronger than expected.

  • Brazil's central bank lowered its benchmark lending rate on Wednesday to 15.25 percent from 15.75 percent, the eighth straight cut.

  • Canada's GDP was up 0.1% in March and up 3.2% YoY

  • Retail sales in Germany were up 2.8% in April, more than expected.

  • Eurostat estimated 2.5% inflation in the Euro zone in May.

  • YoY India's GDP was up 9.3% in the first quarter of 2006

  • YoY Malaysia's GDP increased 5.3% in the first quarter.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Quick Overview

  • U.S. consumer confidence dropped from 109.8 to 103.2 in May by the most since Hurricane Katrina last fall, the Conference Board said.

  • Retail sales in Japan were down 0.6% in April and down 2.4% YoY.

  • Australia's retail sales were up 1.4% in March, more than expected.
Americans Living Abroad Get a Nasty Tax Surprise
He said rough calculations showed that a married couple paid $300,000, of which $20,000 was a housing allowance, would see their income tax bill rise by about $20,000 and their employer's cost by about $40,000. Most countries exempt their citizens overseas from income taxes, so the law will give companies an incentive to hire Australians, Britons, Canadians and other nationalities for whom they do not have to pay additional taxes.
Bush and Rove May Find `It's the Economy, Stupid' Won't Work One explanation for the public malaise may be the distribution of prosperity. Total compensation for Americans fell to 65.4 percent of national income in 2005, down from 66.2 percent in 2001, Federal Reserve figures show. At the same time, corporate profits rose to 12.3 percent of national income, up from 8.5 percent in the year Bush took office.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Neo-cons question Bush’s democratisation strategy
Short-term economic costs of the empire have been bearable, says Mr Fuller, but long-term indicators show it is not sustainable – massive domestic debt, growing trade imbalances, an extraordinary gap in wealth between rich and poor Americans, the growing outsourcing of jobs.
To provide for the common defense by requiring all persons in the United States, including women, between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.


February 14, 2006
Easy-to-get loans cause thousands to lose homes
What is known is that, rich and poor alike, South Florida homeowners are on a collision course with the fast-money mortgages and loose state regulation that injected extra risk into a region ripe for exploitation.

As the state's red-hot real estate market grew hotter, thousands of new brokers and brokerages obtained licenses to operate in Florida. That coincided with the availability of new types of loans, which gave far too many middle-income buyers who couldn't afford it a shot at living in a half million-dollar home.
Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'
"The public obviously expects their news reports are going to be based on real reporting and real information. If they are watching an advertisement for a company or a government policy, they need to be told."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Congress reveals its double standard
But if one of their own – no matter what party or what wrongdoing is suspected – is the recipient of a little intrusion from the executive branch, well, then, something must be done.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Mike Farrell on "Baghdad ER"

John F. Kennedy said America would never start a war. Well, it has now, and its architects have damaged our character, poisoned our standing in the world and soiled the soul of what was once the greatest nation in the history of the world.
What May Come of the Haditha Massacre?
We ought to set our sights a bit higher, and begin in a serious way to politically destroy those people in Washington who placed our young men and women in Iraq, on such a frivolous and insincere mission. Those worthy of a criminal punishment include much of the Senate, many in the House, and of course, our great decider, his untrustworthy Vice President, and their Pentagon senior staff.
Apple Loses Bid to Unmask Bloggers' Sources
A California appeals court has smacked down Apple's legal assault on bloggers and their sources, finding that the company's efforts to subpoena e-mail received by the publishers of Apple Insider and runs contrary to federal law, California's reporter's shield law, and the state Constitution.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Retiree benefits grow into 'monster'
Taxpayers owe more than a half-million dollars per household for financial promises made by government....Federal, state and local governments have added nearly $10 trillion to taxpayer liabilities in the past two years, bringing the total of government's unfunded obligations to an unprecedented
$57.8 trillion.
Tony Blair Will Make Britain Look Like It Lost To The Nazis
A government engaging in escalating criminal actions and becoming more and more secretive should not be watching and tracking us as if we're all criminals. A full run down of why the 'so what if you have nothing to hide?' argument is a total fraud can be found here.
Report: Jet stream shift is expanding the Earth's tropics and deserts

Quick Overview

  • Consumer personal spending rose 0.6% in April, while personal incomes were up 0.5%. The core rate of personal consumption spending was up 2.1% YoY up from 2.0% in March.

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index dropped from 87.4 to 79.1 in May, about as expected.

  • Consumer prices in Japan were up 0.3% in April and up 0.4% from a year ago. Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said that Japan's economy remains in deflation, although price conditions are improving.

  • The Barclays silver ETF posted its first decline in holdings.

  • The National Weather Service's 6 to 10-day forecast is expecting above average temperatures and below average rain for the winter wheat states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. economy grew at a revised 5.3% annual rate in the first quarter, a half-percentage point higher than previously reported, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

  • The Commerce Department said the core rate of personal consumption spending, was up 2.0% in the first quarter from a year ago, down from a 2.4% gain in the fourth quarter.

  • Existing home sales dropped 2% in April, the National Association of Realtors said.

  • The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 40,000 last week to 329,000.

  • Truck makers sold 24,297 heavy-duty trucks in April, a 19.2% increase over April 2005, marking the 30th-straight month of YoY expansion.

  • The USDA said that 2006-2007 world sugar ending stocks are expected to fall, from 30.97 to 30.92 million tons, 21% of annual use, matching the lowest stocks to use ratio in nine years. Brazil is expected produce 30.34 million tons, up from 27.1 million tons last year.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 83 billion cubic feet last week to 2.163 trillion cubic feet, up 29% YoY.

  • GDP in the U.K. was up 0.6% in the first quarter and up 2.2% YoY.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Quick Overview

  • Federal Reserve Board Governor Randall Kroszner said on Wednesday the U.S. central bank must consider the lags with which interest rate changes affect the economy, saying it looked set to slow.

  • U.S. Durable goods orders were down 4.8% in April, weaker than expected. Excluding transport, orders were down 1.1%.

  • U.S. New home sales were at an annual rate of 1.198 million units in April, up 4.9%. For 2006, new home sales are down 11% YoY.

  • The Bank of Canada increased its key interest rate from 4.00% to 4.25% and suggested that it may pause a while before needing to increase rates any further.

  • Canada's composite index of leading indicators was up 0.5% in April

  • Japan's service index, was down 0.6% in March, weaker than expected.
    Japan's trade surplus fell 31.8 percent in April from a year earlier to 646.2 billion yen as a surge in the cost of imports prompted by high oil prices offset a steady rise in exports, government data showed on Thursday.

  • The head of the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday renewed his call for greater currency flexibility in some Asian countries even though recent trends in exchange rates were moving in the right direction.

  • Members of an Indonesian family who died of bird flu may have infected one another and health experts are tracing anyone who had contact with them, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were down 3.0 million barrels last week to 343.9 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 2.1 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil were up 1.0 million barrels.

  • The World Gold Council said that 2005 world gold demand totaled 836 tons, down 16% YoY. Mine production totaled 607 tons, up 5% YoY.

  • The Silver Institute said today that silver mine production totaled 642 million ounces in 2005, up 3.4% YoY. Total demand totaled 864.4 million ounces, up 3.0% YoY

  • The International cocoa Organization increased its estimate of the world production shortfall in 2005-2006 from 87,000 tons to 161,000 tons, or 37% of annual use.
Why Does the NSA Engage in Mass Surveillance of Americans When It's Statistically Impossible for Such Spying to Detect Terrorists?
No matter how sophisticated and super-duper are NSA's methods for identifying terrorists, no matter how big and fast are NSA's computers, NSA's accuracy rate will never be 100% and their misidentification rate will never be 0%. That fact, plus the extremely low base-rate for terrorists, means it is logically impossible for mass surveillance to be an effective way to find terrorists.
April durable goods orders tumble 4.8 percent
Even when transportation orders were stripped out, orders for goods meant to last three years or longer unexpectedly fell 1.1 percent.
Iran Requests Direct Talks on Nuclear Program
"You know, two months ago nobody would believe that Mr. Khamenei and Mr. Ahmadinejad together would be trying to get George W. Bush to begin negotiations,"

For telecoms, a storm of lawsuits awaits
"Having been blacklisted from working in television during the McCarthy era, I know the harm of government using private corporations to intrude into the lives of innocent Americans,"

Think tank's immigration study challenged by critics

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Consumer confidence hit a six-month low in the latest week, pushed down by high gasoline prices and a rise in broader inflation, ABC News and the Washington Post said on Tuesday.

  • The Bank of Japan should stick to its policy of guiding key short-term rates near zero percent until inflation is sufficiently high to avoid the risk of renewed deflation, the OECD said in a semi-annual report on Tuesday.

  • Standard & Poor's raised its outlook on Japan's long-term sovereign rating to positive from stable on Tuesday, citing improved economic and fiscal prospects.

  • Chile's economy grew at an annual pace of 5.1 percent during the first quarter.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Quick Overview

  • Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher on Monday said U.S. inflation was running too high for comfort, but the central bank had until the end of June to decide how that might impact interest rates.

  • Venezuela will recommend cutting oil production at an OPEC meeting on June 1, Venezuela's oil minister said Monday.

  • Mainichi News reported that seven of ten prominent economists expect the Bank of Japan to raise the interest rate in July. However Vice Finance Minister Koichi Hosokawa said the Bank of Japan should keep interest rates at zero to support the economy.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

According to Barclays IShares Silver ETF Website the trust now holds 907,291,198 ounces of silver as of 5/19/06.
This is up from 69,992,918 ounces on 5/17/06 .. a typo??

Friday, May 19, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The Federal Reserve needs to consider the lags with which interest rate changes affect the economy, Kansas City Fed Bank President Thomas Hoenig said on Friday, noting inflation already looked set to slow.

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said on Friday he was confident the Federal Reserve will protect growth by keeping inflation in check, and denied the Bush administration was softening its strong-dollar policy.

  • Japan's GDP was up 0.5% in the first quarter of 2006 and up 3.0% for fiscal year 2005-2006, stronger than expected. The Bank of Japan agreed to keep the interest rate near zero.

  • YoY Producer prices in Germany were up 6.1% in April, the most in nearly 14 years.

  • Germany's Parliament approved increasing the value-added tax from 16% to 19%.

  • France's GDP was up 0.5% in the first quarter of 2006.

  • U.K.’s Treasury had a 1.4 billion pound surplus in April.

  • The USDA said there were 11.560 million head of cattle on feed on May 1st, up 8.6% YoY.

  • The USDA said there were 67.22 million pounds of frozen pork bellies in storage, down 25% YoY.

  • Frozen pork totaled 516.3 million pounds, down 8% YoY.

  • The USDA said there were 1.08 billion pounds of frozen orange juice concentrate in storage on April 30th, down 35% YoY.

  • The International Copper Study Group said that world production of copper exceeded consumption by 77,000 tons in the first two months of 2006.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Supreme Court Officially Emasculates Taxpayers
Remember - these taxpayer giveaways are accelerating and come at a huge cost in terms of higher taxes for individuals. As USA Today noted, "In 1977, nine states gave tax credits to corporations [but] by 1998, that number had grown to 36." At the same time, "individual income taxes are growing at a faster rate than corporate income taxes" because state/local governments are recovering the tax giveaways from ordinary citizens. According to the Census Bureau, "corporate income taxes collected rose 6.5% from 1994 to 2004, while individual income taxes collected went up 49.7%."

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Jobless claims were up 42,000 last week to 367,000.

  • The Conference Board's U.S. index of leading indicators was down 0.1% in April to 138.9.

  • The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional index of business activity increased from 13.2 to 14.4 in May, stronger than expected.

  • Fed Chairman Bernanke and Fed Bank of Chicago’s Moskow reiterated their concern about a slump in the housing market in speeches today. Real estate has accounted for more than half the economy's growth since 2001.

  • YoY Canada's consumer price index was up 2.4% in April.

  • Retail sales in the U.K. were up 0.6% in April and up 4.9% YoY.

  • The DoE said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 91 billion cubic feet last week to 2.080 trillion cubic feet, up 31% YoY.
Rents a Key Driver of Inflation

The biggest component of the core consumer price run-up last month came from rent increases. Directly and indirectly, rent accounts for about 40% of the core consumer price index.
Watch out: Your mutual fund could report you
Yet you won't know your information was sent to the government, because by law, companies can't disclose this.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Another year, another tax cut, and look who's cleaning up
In each year since Bush took office, he has signed at least one significant modification to the tax code. Each has been much ballyhooed by the White House and congressional Republicans. Each has been larded with tax breaks for favored industries. And each has left significant issues unresolved - so that Congress has to repeat the process in subsequent years.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. consumer price index was up 0.6% in April, a little more than expected. Excluding food and energy, prices were up 0.3% in April. YoY the CPI was up 3.5% with the core rate up 2.3%.

  • Congress passed a measure that extends lower capital gains and dividend tax rates for two years.

  • U.K.'s unemployment rate increased to 5.2%, up from 5.1% MoM.

  • YoY Consumer prices in the Euro zone were up 2.4% in April

  • Canada's wholesale sales were up 0.8% in March and up 8.6% YoY.

  • Singapore's GDP increased 6.8% in the first quarter.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
  • Supplies of crude oil were down 100,000 barrels to 346.9 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gas were up 1.3 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil were up 300,000 barrels.

  • OPEC said that they expect world demand for crude oil to total 84.6 million barrels per day this year, less than the DoE's 85.3 million barrel.

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow called on Wednesday for more help from overseas to unwind global imbalances, saying the best the United States could do was to keep its economy strong and reduce budget deficits. He dismissed the prospect of a sudden and catastrophic drop in the value of the U.S. dollar.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Permit glut undermines EU carbon scheme
''Iraq's Impending Fracture to Produce Political Earthquake in Turkey''

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Consumer confidence dropped to a new low for the year last week, pushed down again by the high gasoline prices and a weak job market, ABC News and the Washington Post said on Tuesday.

  • A surge in tax revenues has put the Bush administration years ahead of schedule in a bid to halve the nation's budget gap by 2009, U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau said that housing starts were at an annual rate of 1.849 million units in April, down 7.4% from March's pace. YoY housing starts are down 1%.

  • The U.S. producer price index was up 0.9% in April, slightly more than expected, and up 4.0% YoY. Excluding food and energy costs however, prices were up only 0.1% in April and up 1.5% YoY, less than expected.

  • The Federal Reserve said that U.S. industrial production increased 0.8% in April, more than expected.

  • Consumer prices in the U.K. were up 0.6% in April and up 2.0% YoY

  • Investor confidence in Germany dropped from 62.7 to 50.0 in May.

  • The Green Coffee Association said that U.S. coffee stocks were down 76,002 bags.
Bush & Nixon photo finish
While Bush’s approval rating is still a bit higher than Nixon’s at a comparable point, his disapproval rating now exceeds or equals that of Nixon’s in every Gallup poll except one. This sole exception is the final poll in July, 1974 just before Nixon left office, when Nixon’s disapproval rating was a single point higher at 66%.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The New York Federal Reserve's regional index of manufacturing dropped from 15.81 to 12.36 in May, weaker than expected, but still a sign of expansion.

  • The U.S. Treasury said that foreign purchases of U.S. securities totaled $89.2 billion in March.

  • Statistics Canada said that manufacturing gained 1.6% in March

  • YoY Indonesia's GDP was up of 4.6% in the first quarter of 2006.

  • YoY Mexican industrial output rose 9.7 percent in March.

  • China's retail sales in April grew 13.6 percent from a year earlier.

  • China's banks continued to add new loans rapidly in April, with total yuan loans growing 15.5 percent YoY.

  • Dow-Jones News Wire reports that S&P and the Toronto Stock Exchange are preparing to roll out the first real-time global gold index. The Toronto Stock Exchange is home to about 60% of the world's public mining companies. The new index is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

  • The Green Coffee Association said that U.S. coffee stocks were down 76.002 bags to 5.2 million bags.
    The USDA estimated Brazil's coffee crop at 44.8 million bags.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

U.S., Seeking Smaller Deficit, Signals Comfort With Dollar Drop
The Bush administration, seeking to narrow its near record trade deficit, is signaling comfort with the dollar's 6.6 percent decline this year.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Chart of the day (2)

S&P 500 divided by Vix (Volatility Index) Ratio (S&P 500 green, Ratio red, ****12 day ROC, Rate of change of the Ratio in blue**** )

Chart of the day (1)
NYSE Weekly Advancing Issues

Friday, May 12, 2006

NSA Whistleblower Says "People Are Going To Be Shocked" By His Testimony Next Week..."This Is Only The Tip Of The Iceberg"
Say "Thank You" to the one phone company that refused to give the NSA your phone records.
Basics, Not Luxuries, Blamed for High Debt
The debt of the typical American family earning about $45,000 a year rose 33.1 percent from 2001 to 2004, after adjusting for inflation, according to a study based on data compiled from the Federal Reserve Board's most recent Survey of Consumer Finances

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Exports in March were up $2.1 billion to $114.7 billion while imports were down $1.5 billion to $176.7 billion. The difference of $62.0 billion is less than expected.

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index dropped from 87.4 to 79.0 in May, more than projected and the lowest reading in seven months.

  • Canada's exports were up 1.1% in March while imports were up 3.6%.

  • The USDA released its first estimates of 2006-2007 U.S. ending stocks for grains:
    Corn at 1.141 billion bushels, down from 2.226 billion bushels in 2005-2006. The USDA raised its forecast of corn use by the ethanol industry for the coming crop year by 550 million bushels, or 34%.
    Soybeans at 650 million bushels, up from 565 million bushels in 2005-2006.
    Wheat at 447 million bushels, down from 547 million bushels in 2005-2006.
    Sugar at 870,000 tons, down from 1.437 million tons in 2005-2006.
    Cotton at 4.90 million bales, down from 6.50 million bales in 2005-2006.

  • The USDA estimated 2006-2007 world ending stocks for:
    Corn at 92 million tons, down from 129 million tons in 2005-2006.
    Wheat at 128 million tons, down from 144 million tons in 2005-2006.
    Cotton at 47 million bales, down from 52 million bales in 2005-2006.

  • The USDA kept its estimate of the Florida orange crop unchanged at 153 million boxes, but increased the projected juice yield from 1.61 to 1.62 gallons per box at 42.0 degrees Brix.

  • The International Energy Agency reduced its forecast of 2006 world demand by 220,000 barrels a day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Global miner BHP Billiton Where To From Here?
Demand for commodities is not just being driven by Chinese economicgrowth, other emerging economies are following. "Demographics and economic development could continue for years," ..

Quick Overview

  • Retail sales increased in April by a seasonally adjusted 0.5%, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Wall Street expected a 0.8% advance. Gas station sales rose by 4.6% in April, the largest since 6.0% in September 2005. Taking out sales at gas stations, demand at all other retailers rose just 0.1%.

  • The Commerce Department reported business inventories rose more than expected during March, up by 0.7% to $1.324 trillion.

  • U.S. Jobless claims were down 1,000 last week to 324,000, more than expected.

  • GDP in the Euro zone increased 0.6% in the first quarter and 2.0% YoY.

  • Factory production in the U.K. increased 0.7% in March

  • Australia's unemployment rate increased from 5.0% to 5.1%

  • New Zealand's unemployment rate increased from 3.6% to 3.9%

  • The European Biodiesel Board reported the European Union produced 3.2 million tons of biodiesel in 2005 with roughly half coming from Germany. In 2006, production capacity is on track to reach 6.07 million tons.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 85 billion cubic feet last week to 1.989 trillion cubic feet, up 33% YoY.

Homes piling up

The number of unsold homes on the Denver-area market hit a record 29,045 in April, according to reports released Thursday.
A World Too Complex To Be Managed
If you look inside an elderly person’s medicine cabinet and see the many drugs that are used to suppress symptoms brought on by previous drugs, you will see a perfect parallel to the expansion of governmental “solutions” to politicogenic “problems.”
Rumsfeld on Daily Show
Nixon ... “He’s a ruthless ">little bastard. You can be sure of that.”
Anger toward US boosts Latin America's leftist leaders
House Panel Urges Reworking of Leases for Oil Drilling in U.S.-Owned Waters
NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls
The Democrat, who at one point held up a copy of the newspaper, added: ''Shame on us for being so far behind and being so willing to rubber stamp anything this administration does. We ought to fold our tents.''

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The FBI has a new way of tracking terrorists

Quick Overview

  • As expected the Fed raised the fed funds rate to 5 percent and suggested they may not be finished with the nearly two-year run of increases.

  • The U.S. Treasury Department ruled on Wednesday that China was not a currency manipulator but pledged to "actively and frankly" push Beijing toward faster exchange-rate flexibility that would let its yuan rise in value.

  • Japan's official reserve assets April, out at $860.2B vs. $852.0B expected.

  • Japans index of "leading" indicators was down 0.2% in March to 101.6.

  • The World Bank increased its growth estimate for China's economy this year from 9.2% to 9.5%.

  • There are rumors in the market that China could quadruple its gold reserves to around 2,500 tons from 600 tons currently.

  • There was talks in the market of Iran would raise EUR reserves.

  • Bloomberg news reported the main shaft at Barrick Gold's Deep South mine in South Africa was damaged and may take up to a year to repair. Last year, the mine produced 469,000 ounces of gold, but that may now be cut in half.

  • Grupo Mexico closed its San Martin copper mine due to an unresolved strike.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil supplies were up 300,000 barrels at 347.0 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 2.4 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil were up 400,000 barrels.

  • Canada's wheat stocks totaled 18.8 million tons on March 1st, up 22% from a year ago.

  • Canada’s canola stocks totaled 5.1 million tons, up 36% from a year ago.

  • Divisions emerged on Capitol Hill on Wednesday over whether the U.S. should suspend or lower fuel ethanol import tariffs in the face of high gasoline pump prices.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Nybot to Revive Ethanol Futures as Biofuel Use Surges
The New York Board of Trade plans to revise its ethanol futures and options contracts soon to capitalize on growth in biofuel demand and output as fossil-fuel prices climb, exchange officers said this week.
Another Possible Bump to the Debt Ceiling
With passage of the budget, the House will have raised the federal borrowing limit by an additional $653 billion, to $9.62 trillion. It would be the fifth debt-ceiling increase in recent years, after boosts of $450 billion in 2002, a record $984 billion in 2003, $800 billion in 2004 and $653 billion in March. When Bush took office, the statutory borrowing limit stood at $5.95 trillion.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. consumer confidence dropped sharply to its lowest level of the year last week, weighed down by high gasoline prices and a weakening job market, ABC News and the Washington Post said on Tuesday.

  • The Bank of Japan is considering upgrading its assessment of the economy in its monthly report, saying for the first time in nearly 15 years the economy is "expanding", Jiji Press news agency reported.

  • Gold spiked up to a new 25-year high above $700 an ounce on Tuesday on dollar weakness, while platinum set a new record on strong industrial demand and fund buying.

  • Oklahoma Wheat Commission is estimating the state's winter wheat crop at 67 million bushels, down from 128 million bushels a year ago and the lowest in almost fifty years.
The Colbert video is publicly available through an agreement with Google Video.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Buffett and Silver
On commodities, Mr Buffett said he detected speculative participation in the recent run-up in prices, particularly metals. He added that Berkshire had not benefited from the sharp rise in silver prices, in spite of at one time owning a lot of the metal.

"I bought it very early, I sold it very early. Other than that, it was perfect," he joked.
Bush's Pick For CIA Spot Directed Illegal Spying Program
``If the Senate has a mind to assert its constitutional prerogatives here, then we could use this for leverage to find out,'' Specter said on ``Fox News Sunday.'' ``People do want to know what's going on to protect civil liberties.''

Quick Overview

  • Business confidence in Germany rose from 103.4 to 105.4 in March, the highest in 15 years.

  • Canada's housing starts were at an annual rate of 218,100 units in April, down 13% MoM

  • Retail sales in Australia rose 0.3% in March.

  • The European Commission increased its estimate of 2006 GDP growth from 1.9% to 2.1% for the Euro zone, but reduced its 2007 estimate from 2.1% to 1.8%.

  • Land prices in Japan rose in 2005 for the first time in 15 years, Bank of Japan calculations showed on Monday, underscoring the economy's steady recovery from more than a decade of stagnation.

  • Crude oil futures prices dropped below $70 a barrel Monday on rising U.S. gasoline supplies and a letter from Iran's leader to President Bush proposing "new solutions" to increasing tensions

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Real estate slows, commodities speculative: Buffett

"We've had a bubble to some degree," he said, noting that Berkshire has a good view of the market through the thousands of real estate agencies it owns. "We see a slowdown every place."
Dollar Falls to 7-Month Low Versus Yen on Outlook for Rate Halt
The Treasury objects to what it sees as an attempt by Japan to reinterpret the G-7 statement, said the officials, who asked not to be named. The statement called on China and other developing Asian nations to allow their currencies to rise to help reduce lopsided global trade flows.
Chart of the day
Average U.S. Real Estate Price

Friday, May 05, 2006

The fallout from a falling dollar

"We seem to have reached a crossroads," says Anthony Chan, chief economist at JPMorgan Private Client Services in Columbus, Ohio. With foreign interest rates on the rise, he says, it will become harder to finance the US current account deficit.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Labor Department said the unemployment rate remained at 4.7% in April. Nonfarm payrolls gained 138,000, less than expected.

  • Average U.S. hourly earnings rose 0.5% in April and up 3.8% YoY.

  • Canada's unemployment rate rose from 6.3% to 6.4% in April.

  • The Sao Paulo sugarcane industry association estimated Brazil's 2006-2007 center-south sugarcane crop at 375 million tons, up from a previous estimate of 363 million tons.

  • The Bush White House is urging Congress to remove the import tariff on ethanol. Farm-state lawmakers however say they're prepared to fight vigorously any attempt to remove the 54-cent tariff on imported ethanol even though demand for the additive is growing as refiners use more of it in gasoline.

  • The 2006 Kansas Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour, estimated the state's crop at 319.2 million bushels, versus 380 million bushels last year.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The truthiness hurts
Stephen Colbert's brilliant performance unplugged the Bush myth machine -- and left the clueless D.C. press corps gaping
U.S. sees IMF role in fixing imbalances

The United States on Thursday said the International Monetary Fund could help in rectifying massive global imbalances, including the U.S. current account and the budget deficits, that pose a risk for the international economy.
Bird flu plan lacks a key detail
The Bush administration's pandemic flu action plan, issued Wednesday, is a good step toward getting the nation ready for a 1918-style flu disaster, health experts say, but it's missing a key element: how to pay for it.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. jobless claims were up 5,000 last week to 322,000, more than expected.

  • The U.S. Labor Department said that nonfarm business productivity increased at an annual rate of 3.2%

  • Norway unemployment rate April, out at 2.8%

  • UK money supply March F, (YoY) out at 12.3% vs. 12.4% expected.

  • UK PMI services April, out at 59.7 vs. 57.6 expected.

  • UK official reserves for April, out at $936M vs. $239M expected.

  • EU Euro-Zone MoM retail sales for March out at -0.8% vs. 0.1% expected.

  • EU ECB leaves rate at 2.50% as expected.

  • The DoE said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 53 billion cubic feet last week to 1.904 trillion cubic feet.

Colbert Does the White House Correspondents' dinner:

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Republicans agreed to a $70 billion package of tax cuts
Mexico to Allow Use of Drugs

Quick Overview

  • The Institute of Supply Management's U.S. index of services increased from 60.5 to 63.0 in April, more than expected.

  • U.S. factory orders were up 4.2% in March, more than expected.

  • Australia increased its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-percent to 5.75%, the highest in over five years.

  • The unemployment rate in the Euro zone improved from 8.2% to 8.1% in March

  • UBS said the uptake of Barclays' silver exchange traded fund is exceeding expectations and will likely reach and possibly exceed 100 million troy ounces within the first month.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil supplies were up 1.7 million barrels last week to 346.7 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 2.1 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil supplies were down 800,000 barrels.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The confidence of U.S. consumers fell to its lowest level this year, weighed down by the high cost of gasoline, ABC News and The Washington Post said in a report on Tuesday.

  • Senior White House economist Edward Lazear said that proposals to cut the gasoline tax would take energy policy in the wrong direction by encouraging consumption

  • European manufacturing increased from 56.1 to 56.7 in April, the highest in five years.

  • Manufacturing in the U.K. increased from 51.0 to 54.1 in April.

  • Brazilian sugar exports totaled 758,200 metric tons in April, down 29.8% from the roughly 1.08 million tons exported in the same month last year, according to preliminary figures issued by the Foreign Trade Secretariat Tuesday.

  • Shares in Archer Daniels Midland Co. surged to a new all-time high on the heels of a 29 percent increase in third-quarter earnings, driven by an increase in demand for processed oilseeds and corn byproducts such as ethanol.

  • Concern that mineral-rich Bolivia would extend a nationalization program from oil and gas to other natural resources, like silver, saw investors switching out of mining stocks and into the silver ETF shares."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Former bear turns bullish on global economy

But on Monday, in a note to clients, he said: “I must confess that I am now feeling better about the prognosis for the world economy for the first time in ages.” (sell everything ?)

Quick Overview

  • Chicago Federal Reserve President Michael Moskow on Monday said that core inflation is currently contained, but is at the high-end of his "comfort zone," and at the top of his list of worries about the economy.

  • Continued growth in the U.S. current account deficit cannot be sustained, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Jack Guynn said on Monday, adding that economic forces should help correct the imbalance over time.

  • Americans personal income increased at a seasonally adjusted monthly rate of 0.8%, after rising 0.3% in February, the Commerce Department said Monday. Spending climbed by 0.6%, more than expected, after a 0.2% increase the month before.

  • The core rate of personal consumption expenditures was up 0.3% in March and up 2.0% YoY, slightly more than expected. The measure is said to be a key inflation indicator for the Federal Reserve.

  • Construction spending jumped 0.9% in March, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

  • The Florida Citrus Processors said there were 88.7 million gallons of frozen orange juice concentrate in inventory in April, down 40% YoY.