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

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

World News!

  • With US Vice-President Joe Biden getting ready to arrive in China, our single largest sovereign debt holder has spelled out exactly what they want to hear from its debtor:  "As the United States' largest foreign creditor, China has much at stake over US economic policy changes and a stable US dollar[1].  Therefore, Washington's handling of all the related issues in a responsible manner will contribute to the steady growth of China-US ties and the stable development of the world economy given the mounting concern about European and US debt woes and fragile global economic recovery."
  • Remember the report from a couple of days ago, claiming that Pakistan had given China access to the wrecked stealth helicopter used in the raid that killed Bin Laden?  The Chinese defence minsitry has denied it, and US officials have been unable to confirm the story.
  • Rebel forces have attacked the oil refinery at Zawiyah, one of the last sources of fuel for loyalist troops and the city of Tripoli.  In related news, the rebel National Transitional Council has also denied negotiating a peaceful conflict to the civil war with the Libyan government.
  • The good news is that "shelling and the sound of tank machineguns [are] subdued today".  The bad news is that Syrian "security personnel" are rounding up hundreds of people in Latakia and forcibly interring them in a stadium.  Condemnations continue to trickle in from the rest of the world[2], with Turkey taking the hardest line to date:  "if the operations continue in Syria and the operations become a regional problem Turkey can naturally not remain indifferent".
United States
  • Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry declared that it would be "treasonous" if Ben Bernanke "prints more money between now and the election".  He didn't quite advocate murder as a response, but it's hard to interpret the following comment in a different light:  "If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all will do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas."
  • President Obama's response to Governor Perry's remarks?  "You know, Mr. Perry just got into the presidential race.  I think that everybody who runs for president, it probably takes them a little bit of time before they start realizing that this isn't like running for governor or running for senator or running for Congress, and you've got to be a little more careful about what you say.  But I'll cut him some slack.  he's only been at it for a few days now."
  • Warren Buffett - yes, that Warren Buffett - has suggested that the US "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich".
  • In "you know, they were called coffin nails in the 19th century" news, RJ Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard Tobacco, Commonwealth Brands, Liggett Group and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco have filed suit against the Food and Drug Administration to stop a new law that would require them to place graphic health warnings on cigarette packets.  The suit claims that the law violates their constitutional right to free speech.
[1]  To quote Xinhua:  "Among China's more than 3 trillion dollars foreign exchange reserves, 1.16 trillion dollars were US Treasuries bonds as of May, according to the US Treasury Department.  'If the greenback devalues by 10 percent to 20 percent, China will suffer another loss of as much as 200 billion to 300 billion in the near future,' according to Chen Xiankui, a professor at Renmin University of China."
[2]  Polonius:  What do you read, my lord?
     Hamlet:  Words, words, words.

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