Saturday, June 28, 2014


  • Last month was the hottest May in terms of global surface temperature in a historical record that extends back 130 years, according to NASA 

  • Scientists want two commonly used pesticides banned around the world for helping cause the mass deaths of bees and harming the planet's ecosystem. A panel of independent scientists, operating as the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, found the pesticides neonicotinoids and fipronil are harming the environment. 

  • U.S. consumer confidence continued to improve in June, with the consumer confidence index rising to 85.2 from 82.2 in May - the highest level since January 2008. 
  • U.S. economy contracts 2.9% in Q1 
  • U.S. house prices kept flat in April amid a cooling housing market, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported. Compared with the same period of 2013, U.S. house prices have increased 5.9%. 

  • Output in China's steel industry has continued to rise and prices continue to fall, as the government struggles to reduce capacity in the sector. 

  • Spain's annual inflation stands at 0.1 % in June 

  • Japan's consumer prices in May soared 3.4% YoY, the biggest increase in more than three decades. 
  • Japan's unemployment rate in May improves to 3.5% 

  • Researchers believe they have found a way of overcoming one of the most serious limitations of the next generation of solar panels, which are based on toxic cadmium chloride, by simply adding magnesium chloride, an abundant salt found in seawater. 
  • People unwittingly become more racially aware and less generous towards those of a different skin tone when they feel financially squeezed, according to a study showing how racism thrives in an economic recession. 

  • Facebook has been experimenting on us. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that Facebook intentionally manipulated the news feeds of almost 700,000 users in order to study “emotional contagion through social networks.” 
  •  (“If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Next Update June 29


  • (FT) Should the global oil market lose all of Iraq’s exports, traders and analysts reckon it would add at least $40-$50 to a barrel of oil 

  • "Eugene Goostman", a computer program developed to simulate a 13-year-old boy, managed to convince 33% of the judges that it was human and therefore passing the Turing test.

  • Microsoft's top lawyer says the fallout of the NSA spying scandal is "getting worse," and carries grim implications for US tech companies. 

  • Creepier and creepier: Google subsidiary Nest is acquiring video monitoring company Dropcam for $555 million in an effort to further push their influence into  every home to collect ever more data on users and their habits... 
  • (“If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”) 

  •  (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard) Mao Daqing from Vanke - China's top developer - says total land value in Beijing has been bid up to such extremes that it’s on paper worth 61.6% of America's GDP. The figure was 63.% for Tokyo at the peak of the bubble in 1990. "A dangerous level," he says.
  • According to S&P the Chinese corporate bond market has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest and is set to soak up a third of global company debt needs over the next five years. 

  • Wealth management products (WMPs) have been booming in China in the past few years, totaling 12.8 trillion yuan (about 2.1 trillion U.S. dollars) by the end of May. 

  • More than half of people between the age of 21 and 36 have their savings parked in cash, according to a new study by the Brookings Institution, reflecting extreme risk-aversion by the so-called millennial generation. 

  •  There are more than 1.1 million homeless children and youth enrolled in US public schools, according to the Department of Education. 

  • (FT) The gold ‘fix’, a twice-daily auction-style process run by four investment banks, has come in for increasing criticism for its lack of transparency. 

  • (The Guardian) British public wrongly believe rich pay most in tax, new research shows. The poorest 10% of households pay eight percentage points more of their income in all taxes than the richest – 43% compared to 35%,. 

  • Less than 20 years ago, one billion monarchs migrated to Mexico for the winter. This year, only 3.5 % of that number made the journey. 

  • Four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace ... 

  • Miracle Crop: India's Quest to End World Hunger Over one third of humanity is undernourished. Now a group of scientists are experimenting with specially-bred crops, and hoping to launch a new Green Revolution -- but controversy is brewing 

  • (FT) traders think that processing plants built to feed rising chocolate consumption in countries including India and China have added to demand for cocoa beans.