Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The National Association of Purchasing Management-Chicago’s manufacturing index dropped from 62.1 to 53.5 in October, more than expected.

  • U.S. Consumer confidence fell from 105.9 to 105.4 in October following an increase in September, the New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday.

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the employment cost index increased 1.0% in the third quarter and 3.3% from a year ago, the biggest gain in two years.

  • Brazil announced that they will raise the ethanol content of their gasoline from 20% to 23%, starting on November 20th.

  • Canada’s GDP was up 0.3% in August and up 2.2% YoY.

  • A hard-hitting report on climate change published by the British government on Monday has no basis in science or economics, OPEC's Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo said.

  • Russia's state foreign debt, including former Soviet-era debt, shrunk to $50.1 billion, or 39.5 billion Euros as of October 1.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bond Strategists: Japan's Insurers May Shun U.S. Treasuries
(Bloomberg) -- Japanese life insurers, who manage the equivalent of $1.6 trillion in assets, will cut holdings of U.S. Treasuries after the cost of protecting the investment against currency swings surged, according to Calyon Securities.
A reduction in purchases by Japanese investors, the largest overseas holders of U.S. sovereign debt, may push up U.S. Treasury yields, said Susumu Kato, chief strategist at Calyon. Japan held $644.2 billion of Treasuries at the end of August, more than in any other country.

Quick Overview

  • China will likely see its trade surplus hit 150 bln $ for 2006, with foreign exchange reserves to exceed one trillion $ by the end of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

  • The U.S. Commerce Department said that personal incomes were up 0.5% in September, and consumer spending was up 0.1%.

  • The Commerce Department said the core rate of personal consumption was up 2.4% YoY

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Climate change 'brings huge cost'
Climate change could cut global growth by a fifth, costing up to £3.68 trillion in total, unless drastic action is taken, a review is to warn.
But taking action now would cost just 1% of global gross domestic product, economist Sir Nicholas Stern says.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

GAO chief warns economic disaster looms
Their basic message is this: If the United States government conducts business as usual over the next few decades, a national debt that is already $8.5 trillion could reach $46 trillion or more, adjusted for inflation. That's almost as much as the total net worth of every person in America — Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and those Google guys included.
A hole that big could paralyze the U.S. economy; according to some projections, just the interest payments on a debt that big would be as much as all the taxes the government collects today.
And every year that nothing is done about it, Walker says, the problem grows by $2 trillion to $3 trillion.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Morgan Stanley, announced a $3bn plan to invest in carbon trading
The drive to tackle climate change gathered pace on Thursday as Morgan Stanley, the investment bank, announced a $3bn plan to invest in the carbon trading market amid mounting evidence that some US states are growing more sympathetic to international action.

Confession that formed base of Iraq war was acquired under torture: journalist An Al-Qaeda terror suspect captured by the United States, who gave evidence of links between Iraq and the terror network, confessed after being tortured, a journalist told the BBC

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Commerce Department said that its first estimate of real GDP was up an annual rate of 1.6% in the third quarter, the weakest performance in three years. Housing was cited as the main drag.

  • The University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment increased from 85.4 to 93.6 in October, more than expected.

  • The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics estimated their wheat crop at 9.5 million tons, down from 25 million tons a year ago.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Hedge-fund managers and other large speculators placed a record amount of bets the yen will decline against the dollar, according to weekly data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday said the Indian economy was moving at a rapid pace and hoped the rate of growth would reach 10 percent soon. 'At one time, eight to nine percent growth was unthinkable.

  • FT-- The Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank are expected to keep their key policy interest rates unchanged at 0.25 per cent (on Tuesday) and 3.25 per cent (on Thursday) respectively but further monetary tightening can be expected from both before the end of the year.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wheat lower in spite of world output warning
The IGC said a global deficit of about 64m tons was likely as world consumption was forecast to rise to a record 1,621 tons. In spite of the recent fall in energy prices and higher grain prices, demand from the ethanol sector was expected to rise by 20m tons to 67m tons, according to the IGC.

Cheney confirms that detainees were subjected to water-boarding
"It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said at one point in an interview.

Quick Overview

  • The Commerce Department reported the median price for a new home sold in September was $217,100, down 9.7 % from September 2005. This is the lowest median price for a new home since September 2004 and the largest year-over-year decline since December 1970.

  • Sales of new homes rose by 5.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate 1.075 million homes This is second consecutive increase in sales following three months of declines.

  • Durable goods orders posted their biggest increase in more than six years, rising 7.8% in September.

  • First-time U.S. jobless claims rose 8,000 to 308,000 last week.

  • Yuan central parity rate set at new high of 7.8940 to dollars versus 7.9007

  • Zinc stocks on the London Metals Exchange fell 1,750 tons to 113,900 tons, the lowest level since 1991.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 19 billion cubic feet at 3.461 trillion cubic feet.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The National Association of Realtors said U.S. existing home sales were at an annual rate of 6.18 million units in September, down 1.9% MoM.

  • The number of existing homes for sale dropped 2.4% to 3.75 million, a 7.3 month supply.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were down 3.3 million barrels to 332.3 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were down 2.8 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil were up 700,000 barrels.

  • AWB Ltd. reduced its estimate of Australia's wheat crop from 13.5 to 10.0 million tons.

  • Business confidence in Germany increased from 104.9 to 105.3 in October, more than expected.

  • Former Chinese central bank adviser Yu Yongding said that China should allow the yuan to appreciate faster and that China should abandon its export promotion policy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Can Israel Last? Maybe.
Mr. Bush seems to be losing his wars. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, which would probably be a good thing. But if I’m right, when the United States is forced out of Iraq, American influence in the region will decline precipitately. For at least a decade, and perhaps forever, the US will not send troops to the region. The Moslem world will regard itself, correctly, as having defeated the Great Satan, and will no longer fear Washington. American control of Pakistan will probably vanish and, bingo, there’s the Islamic Bomb. Presumably the American puppets, such as Saudi Arabia, will blow with the prevailing winds.
60 percent increase over the last five years in government corruption convictions .. the Justice Department generally tries to keep a low profile on government corruption cases in the months before an election to avoid unfairly influencing voters

Quick Overview

  • Euro zone industrial orders rose by 3.7 % in August from July and by 14.3 % YoY.

  • Rumors circulated that Japan may be about to intervene in the currency market to prop up the currency.

  • Mexico's trade deficit was $1.35 billion in September, more than double expectations, as imports jumped almost 18 % YoY.

  • The World Bank says India would become the third largest economy after China and the US by 2025.

  • Corn prices in Chicago rose to the highest in more than two years on speculation demand for ethanol and U.S. grain exports will outpace supplies.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. central bank is expected to hold interest rates steady for the third straight month when it meets on Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • Japan's top financial diplomat said on Monday he was not expecting further declines in the value of the yen , and added that he saw Japan's economy staying on a solid recovery path.

  • Retail sales in Canada were up 1.0% in August.

  • Bush put Social Security reform on his list of "big items" to deal with in the final two years of his presidency.

Panama votes for a bigger canal
VOTERS in Panama have decided, by a margin of four-to-one, to go ahead with a proposal to expand their famous canal. Although relatively few turned out for the referendum on Sunday October 22nd, the result was decisive, with some 78% in favour of the plan to open the route to more and bigger ships.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Quick Overview

  • YoY Canada's consumer prices were up 0.7%

  • GDP in the U.K. was up 0.7% in the third quarter and up 2.8% YoY

  • OPEC late yesterday announced that it reached an agreement to cut production by 1.2 mln barrels a day starting on November 1st .

  • Virginia became the 15th U.S. state with Asian rust in its soybean fields. Asian rust may impact spring plating decisions for soybeans .

  • The USDA said there were 11.385 million head of cattle on feed, up 8.6% YoY.

  • The USDA said there were 464 million pounds of frozen pork in storage, up 7.5% YoY. Frozen bellies in storage were 10.25 million pounds, down 27% YoY.

  • The USDA said there were 779 million pounds of frozen orange juice concentrate in storage down 37% YoY.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Countdown Special Comment: Death of Habeas Corpus: “Your words are lies, Sir.”

Quick Overview

  • The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional index of manufacturing fell from -.4 to -.7, weaker than expected.

  • The Conference Board's U.S. index of leading indicators was up 0.1% in September to 137.7. Five of the ten components showed positive gains.

  • YoY China's industrial production increased 16.1% in September.

  • Retail sales in the U.K. were down 0.4% in September.

  • The U.S. Energy Department said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 53 billion cubic feet to 3.442 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are up 13% YoY.

The limits of liberty: We're all suspects now
And here is the interesting thing that Havel put his finger on: no matter how brutal or ruthless the regime, the act of depriving people of their freedom starts the stopwatch on that regime's inevitable demise. What he was saying was that in modern times a state can only thrive in the fullest sense when individuals are accorded maximum freedom.

Britain has joined the US, China and Russia to block a proposed ban on cluster bombs in the wake of extensive use of the weapons during the war in Lebanon.
Israeli forces dropped an estimated 1m cluster bomblets in southern Lebanon this summer - 90% of which were dropped in the last three days of the conflict, a new report from Landmine Action said yesterday. The weapons have left a trail of unexploded munitions that is killing between three and four civilians each day and impeding relief work.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Group lists 10 most polluted places on Earth
The list was compiled by the New York-based nonprofit group the Blacksmith Institute, which said the world's pollution is sickening up to 1 billion people.

A Bush In Need Of Pruning
My impression is that much of the public wants authoritarian rule, or would be perfectly content with it if it even noticed its arrival. No, I can’t prove it. But what do most people care about beyond television on screens that grow ever larger, beyond porn, beer, and the competitive purchase of grander SUVs? I ask this not as a lifelong curmudgeon being tiresome (though doubtless I am both) but seriously. Who in a sprawling TV-besotted country cares about the Constitution? A comfortable police state is after all comfortable.

Gaza doctors say patients suffering mystery injuries after Israeli attacks "Bodies arrived severely fragmented, melted and disfigured," said Jumaa Saqa'a, a doctor at the Shifa hospital, in Gaza City. "We found internal burning of organs, while externally there were minute pieces of shrapnel. When we opened many of the injured people we found dusting on their internal organs."

Iraq war cost years of progress in Afghanistan - UK brigadier
The invasion of Iraq prevented British forces from helping to secure Afghanistan much sooner and has left a dangerous vacuum in the country for four years, the commander who has led the attack against the Taliban made clear yesterday.

Red wine can help prevent stroke damage: study Red wine might work to protect the brain from damage after a stroke and drinking a couple of glasses a day might provide that protection ahead of time, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.

Quick Overview

  • US consumer prices were down 0.5% in September and up 2.1% YoY. Excluding food and energy costs, prices were up 0.2% in September and up 2.9% YoY.

  • US housing starts were stronger than expected and up 6% from the pace in August. So far in 2006, housing starts are down 9% YoY.

  • Mortgage applications index was reported at -2.2%, adding to last week's decline of -5.5%.

  • The Euro zone trade deficit with China rose to a record 47.6 bln Euros ($59.7 bln) in the year through July, up 24% YoY.

  • Canada's composite index of leading indicators increased 0.4% in September.

  • The unemployment rate in the U.K. for June to August was 5.5%.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were up 5.1 million barrels to 335.6 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were down 5.2 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil supplies were down 500,000 barrels.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Will the Supreme Court shackle new tribunal law?
The terror legislation set to be signed into law Tuesday by President Bush sits atop an ideological fault line that sharply divides the US Supreme Court and highlights the emerging power of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Producer prices were down 1.3% in September, but up 0.9% YoY. Excluding food and energy costs, prices were up 0.6%.

  • U.S. Industrial production was down 0.6% in September, weaker than expected and the biggest drop in a year.

  • The U.S. Treasury Department said that net foreign purchases of long-term U.S. securities totaled $119.5 billion in August. U.S. purchases of foreign securities totaled $2.7 billion, resulting in a positive net capital inflow of $116.8 billion.

  • Japans tertiary index, which measures spending in the services sector, rose 0.7% MoM. YOY the index rose 1.6 pct in August following a revised 2.0% increase in July.

  • The Bank of Japan plans to beef up monitoring of "carry trades," and is concerned about how hedge funds and other investors are helping push down the yen, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported.

  • Consumer prices in the U.K. were up 2.4% in September.

  • YoY consumer prices in the Euro-12 were up 1.7% in September.

  • USAgnet: Czarnkow Sugar Ltd. says that Brazil is exporting so much ethanol, they may not meet domestic demand.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Quick Overview

  • St Louis Federal Reserve President William Poole said on Monday the cost of higher inflation outweighed that of slower growth, although he also thought the news on prices has improved in recent months.

  • The New York Federal Reserve's regional index of manufacturing increased from 13.8 to 22.9 in October, more than expected

  • India's forex reserves came down by USD 30 million to stand at USD 165.275 billion.

  • Canada's manufacturing shipments totaled C$49.8 billion in August, down 0.3% MoM

  • Consumer confidence in Japan slipped from -6.7 to -11.0.

  • The Bulgarian parliament voted unanimously to cut the country's company tax rate to 10 percent from January 1, 2007. The changes will make Bulgaria one of the two countries, along with Greek Cyprus, with the lowest corporate tax rate in the European Union when it joins the bloc next year.

  • A study found that 87 percent of parents believe scholarships and grants will cover at least part of their children's undergraduate expenses, and nearly three-quarters think their children are "special or unique" enough to win a scholarship.

  • Russia's central bank said it was starting to buy the Japanese currency for its reserves. The proportion of Russia's foreign exchange reserves currently invested in the yen was close to zero, but the bank would try to increase it to several percent of total reserves.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

It's time to say sorry for Iraq's agony
On Friday, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) issued its bleakest assessment. Conflict has displaced 1.5 million people inside Iraq; a tide of refugees swells the 1.6 million living outside the country. The Lancet's estimate of 655,000 deaths since the conflict began is not only in a different stratosphere from Bush's ballpark figure of 30,000 'more or less'. It is also evidence of the asymmetry in the death roll of the war on terror.

In contrast to the attrition in Iraq, no US citizen has died in an Islamist attack on US soil since 9/11. Neo-con certainties about gun-barrel democracy have perished, naturally, and the graveyards of political theory bristle with their memorials. But, like a headless chicken, the strategy stumbles on. Dig in for victory. No British exit is likely to change that course any time soon.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

China unlikely to overtake US economy: Treasury head
"I think that there's more risk on the downside for China, although I am an optimist," the Treasury secretary said.

Quick Overview

  • Bank of Japan voted unanimously to keep the overnight call rate target at 0.25 %. BOJ Governor Fukui said that he "cannot rule out the possibility" of another rate hike this year. Market expectation for a rate hike this year has dropped to 25%.

  • Bank of Japan reported producer prices in September rose 3.6 %, the most in 25 years.

  • China’s current reserves surged to a record $988 billion at the end of September, up 28.5% YoY.

  • YoY consumer prices in France were up 1.5% in September

  • U.S. Retail sales were down 0.4% in September. Excluding autos, sales were down 0.5%. The weakness came mostly from lower gasoline prices.

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index rose from 85.4 to 92.3 in October, more than expected.

  • Argentina may limit wheat exports in an attempt to keep domestic prices down.

  • BBC News reported that Ghana and the Ivory Coast are struggling to contain the spread of swollen shoot virus which is hitting their cocoa crops. The two countries account for over one-half of the world's cocoa production.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Hedge-fund managers and other large speculators placed a record amount of bets the yen will decline against the dollar, according to weekly data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Army chief: British troops must pull out of Iraq soon
General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the army, dropped a political bombshell last night by saying that Britain must withdraw from Iraq "soon" or risk serious consequences for Iraqi and British society.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Census Bureau said that U.S. exports were up $2.7 billion in August to $122.4 billion while imports were up $4.6 billion to $192.3 billion. The rise in the U.S. trade deficit nudged the dollar off against the Euro and yen.

  • U.S. Jobless claims were up 4,000 last week.

  • Consumer prices in Germany were down 0.5% in September and up 1.0% YoY.

  • Canada's exports were up 0.3% in August -- imports were down 0.6%.

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture cut its 2006-07 global wheat production estimate by 11 million tons to 585.1 million tons. This in turn led to a 7.1 million-ton drop to global ending stocks to 119.3 million tons, a 25-year low. The USDA lowered
    Australian 2006-07 wheat production to 11 million tons from its 19.5-
    million-ton estimate in September.

  • The USDA's 2006-2007 U.S. ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was reduced from 1.220 to .996 billion bushels.
    Soybeans were increased from 530 to 555 million bushels.
    Wheat was reduced from 429 to 418 million bushels.
    Sugar was reduced from 1.756 to 1.755 million tons.
    Cotton was increased from 4.60 to 5.40 million bales.

  • The USDA's 2006-2007 world ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was reduced from 92 to 90 million tons.
    Soybeans were increased from 52 to 55 million tons.
    Wheat was reduced from 126 to 119 million tons (the lowest stocks figure in 25 years)
    Cotton was increased from 47 to 52 million tons.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that:
    Supplies of crude oil were up 2.4 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 300,000 barrels.
    Supplies of heating oil supplies were down 1.8 million barrels.
    Supplies of natural gas were up 62 billion cubic feet.

Gold Rush Plunges Undersea as Miners Scour Pacific
Placer Dome Ltd., a Vancouver-based mining company later acquired by Toronto-based Barrick, invested $12 million in 2005 and 2006 to fund Nautilus's first tests. The company was founded in 1997 by Julian Malnic, an Australian writer of mining newsletters who acquired offshore exploration licenses from Papua New Guinea.
Nautilus went public on Canada's TSX Venture Exchange in May, raising C$25 million ($22.3 million). Neptune raised 9.3 million pounds ($17.6 million) on London's Alternative Investment Market in October 2005.
Barrick converted Placer Dome's investment into a 9.59 percent stake in Nautilus in August.
``Our Nautilus stake allows us to participate in the future upside,'' says Alex Davidson, executive vice president of exploration and corporate development at Barrick.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

600,000 Dead in Iraq

Today the public health department at Johns Hopkins has released a new study of deaths in Iraq, based on a new larger sample of the population. Around 600,000 have died in Iraq since the U.S. attacked in the spring of 2003.

September foreclosures up 19 percent
Foreclosures in the state grew 19 percent from August to September, pushing California to the top of the list for the most new foreclosure filings in September. The number of foreclosures in the state tripled since September 2005, with 14,806 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, or about one for every 825 households. This represents an increase of 40 percent since July.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Treasury said the federal government posted a $247.7 billion deficit in 2005-2006, down from $319 billion the previous year and the smallest in four years.

  • Minutes from the Fed September policy meeting showed officials remain "concerned" about upside inflation risks.

  • GDP in the EU-12 was up 0.9% QoQ and up 2.7% YoY.

Iowa 'futures' show Republican weakness
"The best guess coming from the market is that it will be a divided Congress," says Prof. Forrest Nelson of the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, which has operated the markets since since 1988.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Quick Overview

  • Machinery orders in Japan were up 6.7% in August, less than expected.

  • (Bloomberg) -- The Bank of Japan will probably keep interest rates unchanged at a policy meeting this week, judging that gains in consumer prices are not yet sufficient to warrant raising the lowest borrowing costs among major economies.

  • The world continues to be surprised by the significance of Australia's parched wheat fields that will yield only a fraction of last year's production. There is talk that Australia may have to purchase wheat to meet commitments. Argentina is also suffering dry conditions.

  • The International Copper Study Group said that world copper production exceeded usage in the first half of 2006 by 13,000 tons.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve could do "fairly little" and let the bond market stabilize the economy, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President William Poole told the Financial Times in an interview published on Tuesday.

  • The Australia Grains Council said the domestic wheat crop could be as low as 10 million tons, which is below recent industry forecasts and is less than half last year's crop of 25 million tons.

  • OPEC agreed to reduce oil production by one million barrels a day.

  • Industrial production in Germany rose 1.9% in August.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Legislating Morality
John Pugsley

This is a test. Can you see the relationship between these two news stories?

"The U.S. Congress has passed a law, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, banning the use of credit cards, checks, and electronic fund transfers for Internet gaming, and President Bush is expected to sign it."

"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called on state legislators to take "swift and dramatic action" to fix what he called a "dangerous situation" in California's jam-packed prisons. Prison officials warn they will simply run out of prison beds by June. Already inmates are stacked on double- and triple-bunks in gymnasiums and day centers."

Answer: It's cause and effect. Any law that forbids individuals from using their own property as they please is certain to increase the need for prisons. Criminalizing voluntary exchanges between individuals (victimless crimes) increases the profitability of supplying outlawed products, creates a black-market rife with violence, decreases respect for law, fills prisons, and increases the power of the state. It doesn't matter if it's gambling, drugs, alcohol, sex, or cigarettes.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A special comment about lying
Keith Olbermann on the difference between terrorists and critics

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Interest rates may not be high enough to quell a recent bout of inflation, Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Charles Plosser said on Thursday.

  • First-time U.S. jobless claims fell 17,000 to 302,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday.

  • Statistics Canada estimated Canada's wheat crop at 26.3 million tons, down 2% YoY.

  • The European Central Bank increased its interest rate from 3.00% to 3.25%.

  • OPEC reportedly decided to cut production by 1 million barrels a day.

  • The U.S. DoE said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 73 billion cubic feet last week to 3.327 trillion cubic feet.

  • Conflicting opinions arose on Thursday whether the European Central Bank had sold its full 500-t yearly quota of gold under the five-year Central Bank Gold Agreement.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve remains worried inflation is too high, but is also watching to see how much a "substantial correction" in housing markets will slow economic growth, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.

  • The U.S. economy’s service sector grew at its slowest rate in three years, the Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday.

  • U.S. Factory orders were unchanged in August, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

  • The MBA mortgage applications index rose sharply by +11.9%.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said that::
    Supplies of crude oil were up 3.3 million barrels last week to 328.1 million barrels.
    Supplies of unleaded gasoline were up 1.2 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil supplies were down 400,000 barrels.

  • Dow-Jones reported that in the first nine months of 2006, the U.S. bought 70% of Brazil's 2.3 billion liters of ethanol exports.

  • The Australian central bank left its key interest rate unchanged.

  • YoY Retail sales volume in the EU-12 up 2.4% in August.

  • Services index in the U.K. up 0.9% QoQ

Are You an 'Unlawful Combatant'?
Maybe so…
Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner, all Republicans, grandstanded for weeks over the torture provisions, then capitulated. Another "Republican maverick," Arlen Specter, zeroed in on the real
issue, however, when he said the bill would set us back 800 years by repealing the habeas corpus protections against arbitrary arrest and jailings – and then went ahead and voted for it, anyway.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?
But MSNBC is still owned by GE's conservative bosses, and managed by NBC's ever-timid executives. Olbermann knows this reality as well as anyone; six months ago on C-SPAN, while expressing confidence that good ratings would keep them at bay, he remarked: "There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all."

A National Driver's License and the Fading Right of Anonymity Real Bad ID

REAL ID mandates nine data elements that the national driver's license must have, but puts no limit on the kinds of data that may be stored on the card's chip or in any database that the card might link to. It says the card must be readable by all state goverments and the US government but doesn't say that it cannot be readable by businesses or other entities. So far, those questions have been left up to Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and to the states.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. economy is likely heading for a soft-landing rather than a full-blown recession as slowdowns in the housing and job markets constrain consumer spending, the National Retail Federation trade group said on Tuesday.

  • The Renewable Fuels Association said the U.S. consumed 360,000 barrels ar day of ethanol in July, more than the 316,000 daily barrels that were produced.

  • December gold tumbled $21.80 to end at $581.50, the lowest close in three months, in sympathy with the lower price of crude oil.

  • The European Aug unemployment rate rose to 7.9% from 7.8% in July, which was the first rise in the unemployment rate in nearly 3 years.

  • Retail sales in Australia were up 0.3% in August, better than expected.

  • Japan's Finance Minister Kohi Omi said that, "Judging from the current state of the economy, we can declare Japan's deflation is over."

  • Oil tumbled more than two dollars on Tuesday to below $59 a barrel, sinking to the lowest level since February and prompting OPEC's president to call on the exporter group to deepen supply cuts

  • The yen dropped against the dollar and Euro after North Korea said it will conduct a nuclear test.

The St. Petersburg Times and The Miami Herald were given copies of the e-mail, as were other news organizations, including Fox News.

Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rice All Received 9/11 Report They Denied Receiving
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and former Attorney General John Ashcroft received the same CIA briefing about an imminent al-Qaida strike on an American target that was given to the White House two months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The State Department's disclosure Monday that the pair was briefed within a week after then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was told about the threat on July 10, 2001, raised new questions about what the Bush administration did in response, and about why so many officials have claimed they never received or don't remember the warning.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Quick Overview

  • The Institute for Supply Management said Monday its manufacturing index fell to 52.9 in September, its lowest level since last May.

  • Construction spending rose 0.3% in August, the Commerce Department said Monday

  • The Bank of Japan's Tankan business survey increased from 21 to 24 stronger than expected, putting the Japanese economy back in a more positive light and increasing the chances for another BOJ rate hike before year-end.

  • The People's Bank of China expects the economy to grow 10.5% this year.
Decimating the Constitution with Military Tribunals
Given all the glorification being bestowed on three U.S. senators for displaying “principle” in standing against President Bush’s plan to amend the Geneva Convention to permit torture of detainees, followed by their quick compromise abandoning any semblance of principle, it is easy to lose sight of something much bigger: The military tribunals that the president and the Congress are set to approve will constitute the most radical, dangerous, and disgraceful transformation in the U.S. criminal-justice system since our nation’s inception.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bush 'kept Blair in the dark over Iraq' An explosive new book claims that Tony Blair pleaded in vain with George Bush to share vital combat intelligence about the Iraq war.
Congress Adds Internet Gambling Ban To U.S. Port Security Bill
Lawmakers added Internet gambling prohibitions at the last minute as they were finishing legislation on increasing security at U.S. ports. They connected unrelated measures to try to get approval, according to sources.
World finance watchdogs focus on opaque derivatives market
The world's three most powerful financial regulators want to tighten up derivatives markets, where explosive growth in recent times has sparked fears of a potential financial disaster.
Officials from Britain's Financial Services Authority, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the US Securities and Exchange Commission warn that countries must join forces to help contain risks posed by the rapid global expansion of derivatives.

Top Republicans accused of cover-up over sex scandal
Within hours of the departure of Mark Foley, a lawmaker from the Palm Beach area dogged for years by rumours about his sexuality, the party of "family values" turned on itself in an unseemly sequence of
denials, accusations and counter-accusations in which the party's top leaders appeared frantic to save their own political skins.
Detainee bill lifts Bush's power to new heights
President now has legal authority even courts can't challenge

"The president walked away with a lot more than most people thought," Ackerman said. He said the bill "further entrenches presidential power" and allows the administration to declare even a U.S. citizen an unlawful combatant subject to indefinite detention. "And it's not only about these prisoners," Ackerman said. "If Congress can strip courts of jurisdiction over cases because it fears their outcome, judicial independence is threatened."

Benjamin Franklin's prescient warning should give us pause: "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."