Sep 30

Excellent reference on Energy Use, with a focus on strategy to improve energy sourcing: http://cms.doe.gov/sites/prod/files/ReportOnTheFirstQTR.pdf

For example, this graph provided a very good high-level view of how energy is being used:

Aug 25

Lo que separa la civilización de la anarquía son solo siete comidas.
– Spanish Proverb

Quoted in “The Coming Famine” by Julian Cribb

With eloquent symbolism, this Petronian banquet made clear that the well-off part of humanity has largely forgotten what it is to go hungry and is awakening to an unpleasant shock: starvation and the wars, refugee crises, and collapse of nation-states that often accompany hunger have not been permanently banished after all. Indeed, they are once more at our doorstep. Food insecurity and its deadly consequences are again a pressing concern for every nation and each individual.

FYI, the proverb translated is: Civilization and anarchy are only seven meals apart

Jun 30

Interesting talk by Niall Ferguson on the options available to countries facing fiscal crises:

Mar 12

It’s really too bad that Eliot Spitzer couldn’t keep his pants on — he could have been helpful in averting the financial crisis.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Jan 13

I was lucky to have followed the link in my Freakanomics RSS feed to listen to a talk by Dr. Craig Feied.

The key point made by Dr. Feied is that the amalgamation and analysis of wide ranging data – including from the emergent fields of genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, etc. – within computer models could foster a much better, and possibly, as forecasted by the current trendlines, a complete understanding of human ailments.

Dr. Feied’s talk begins at 37:50:

Jan 07

The sub-title of the “Ascent of Money” is “A Financial History of the World”. Niall Ferguson’s aim is to show:

… that finance is in fact the foundation of human progress … financial history (is) the essential backstory behind all history. The evolution of credit and debt … was as important as any technological innovation in the rise of civilization.

Most ineresting quote so far (from Chapter 2: Of Human Bondage):

It was to Lenin that Keynes attributed the insight that ‘There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency.’

Is this foreboding the future of the Federal Reserve’s Quantative Easing (QE) efforts?

Nov 24

Jeff Rubin was the Chief Economist for CIBC World Markets during Canada’s growth as a major energy supplier – now the number one supplier to the U.S. marketplace. But he also sees the “Peak Oil” issue on the horizon and has written this book to posit his view that because of the oncoming changes in energy pricing, our world will become smaller due to the “end of globalization”.

Update: Finished the book – my review:

Excellent start to the book – Part One covers a lot of ground explaining the changing supply and demand shifts related to peak oil, but then the book falls off a cliff in conjecture. Rubin expects the changes to be immediate and without options, and then begins to draw conclusions that seem dubious. Of course, it’s easy looking back, it’s far more difficult to look forward – but the same critical thinking in the analysis of the supply/demand changes related to expensive energy doesn’t seem to make it in to the look into the future. And you can tell, Part Two of the book is repetitive and full of personal stories – almost if the economist version of Rubin was replaced by the science fiction writer Rubin.

But for the price there’s enough new information and insight to be valuable.

Aug 26

Aug 08

Recent market movements have lead to some very interesting changes in risk management. Credit Default Swaps (CDS) are essentially insurance on your investments – and the CDS associated with some emerging markets are trading lower than CDS associated with California:

Investor demand for emerging-market bonds is driving the cost of insuring against debt defaults below industrialized governments for the first time.

Credit-default swap prices from Turkey to Indonesia are falling as bonds rise amid signs that their economies are recovering faster than developed nations. As the U.S. and U.K. borrow record amounts to fund bank bailouts and stimulus, Brazil, Russia, India and China have $3 trillion in reserves, up 19 percent from January 2008 and now 43 percent of the worldwide total, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The annual cost of protecting holdings in Turkey’s bonds fell by half to $200,000 per $10 million for five years, or 200 basis points, sinking below New York City swaps for two weeks starting July 22, Bloomberg data show. Indonesia debt insurance dropped below Michigan the next day. Brazil swaps just had their biggest four-month slide ever. For China, protection is near the cheapest in a year. Eleven years after Russia defaulted, investors want less to insure its debt than California’s.

“This would have been impossible to imagine a year ago,” said Dmitry Sentchoukov, an emerging-market credit strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort in London. “Now it’s clear emerging economies are going to outperform the Group of Seven in growth, and that makes investors comfortable with the idea that developing countries can be priced richer than developed.”…

The report is originally from Bloomberg, but I was alerted to the report by naked capitalism.

My small take on this is that China has so much exposure to US investments that emerging markets are genuine hedge strategy.

Aug 02

From the New York Times – Durable Goods Shipments (since 2000):

Durable Goods Orders (NYT)

Durable Goods Orders (NYT)

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