"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

News That Isn't Economic Data

Most Asian stock markets will be closed on February 3 and 4 for the Lunar New Year. China's markets (except for Hong Kong) will be closed on February 7 and 8 as well.
Egyptian President Mubarak's promise not to seek reelection in September hasn't really impressed protesters. Pro-Mubarak and anti-Mubarak forces got together in Cairo last night and beat the blood out of each other. The army and police forces were present, but chose not to get involved.
The Egyptian situation is sending ripples throughout the Middle East. The nation voted most likely to have a dictator - excuse me, President - sneak out of town in the middle of the night with the nation's gold supply is Yemen. President Ali Abdullah Saleh[1], who has spent more than than thirty years in power, has announced that he will not seek re-election when his current term ends in 2013, and he also won't simply vote for his son to replace him[2]. A planned series of protests named "The Day of Rage" may have had something to do with that. King Abdullah II bin al-Hussein of Jordan[3] has fired his government and appointed a new prime minister in the face of protests.
Australia, home of roughly half of the poisonous animals in the world, is being reminded that nature simply does not approve of human occupation of the island continent. With the floods finally beginning to recede[4], the category 5 cyclone Yasi (with winds gusting up to 183 mph) is getting ready to come ashore in Queensland..Yes, the same Queensland that is currently underwater. The Australian Weather Bureau is warning that the "impact is likely to be more life threatening than any experienced during recent generations". Torrential rains and a storm surge of up to 2 meters above the usual high tide line are expected.
{1] Who didn't so much "get elected president by the will of the people" as "brutally seize power in a military coup, murder the sitting president, and execute 20 of the officers that supported him to consolidate power". There are regular elections in Yemen, though. If, by "election", you mean "the regular murder of anyone who opposes President Saleh".
[2] Under the Yemen system of "one man, one vote". President Saleh is The Man, and he has The Vote.
[3] Who took power in 1999 when his father died of perfectly natural causes. Legitimate natural causes. Not natural causes in the sense that it is perfectly natural to die when you are tied to a stake by the army and shot several dozen times.
[4] And with the rumors of sharks swimming through flooded city streets turning out to be just that - rumors. Visually exciting as that would have been, to people who aren't in Queensland.

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