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The importance of primary sources 16/02/2010

Posted by chrisdshaw in Climate Change.
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Why internet based “research” by dogmatists is confusing scientific inquiry. This is a good example of the the skewing of the debate on climate change by sceptics. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet….

Democrats to pursue death wish strategy 20/01/2010

Posted by chrisdshaw in Politics, Uncategorized, United States.
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Conversations between Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank and some of hits constituents hint at a Democratic strategy to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that they are the most incompetent political machine in the Western World. President Obama, you certainly have your work cut out.

US politics grinds to a halt- oh joy 20/01/2010

Posted by chrisdshaw in Politics, United States.
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It has been difficult to concentrate today as the sense of impending doom I thought I had left behind in November 2008 has returned. I was awoken by the 7am Radio 4 news bulletin announcing that Republican candidate, and former Penthouse centerfold, Scott Brown had won race for Senator in the Massachusetts Special Election, following Ted Kennedy’s death last year. The seat was considered to be a rock solid Democratic seat and has started a huge political earthquake in Washington D.C. If translated to a general election the Democrats would be virtually wiped out. Fortunately we have to wait until November this year before something like that has a chance of happening.

What makes this election victory by the GOP even more significant is that it is almost certain to derail healthcare reform, an issue very close to the former senator’s heart. On top of this, any chance of meaningful climate change legislation is off the cards, as is pretty much anything else the Obama administration advocates. The GOP have managed to sabotage anything the administration proposes, such is its singlemindedness in destroying a presidency that voted in on a promise of change. The US faces a serious political crisis, entirely the fault of a lunatic right-wing GOP- one that would make Reagan turn in his grave- and a Democratic party that never ceases to amaze by its ineptitude. At possibly one of the most critical periods in American history the country is being plunged into  yet another stretch of political paralysis, with no serious attempt is made to address its deep structural problems in the US economy and society and a fasting US leadership in the world at precisely the time that America needs to safeguard its influence with the rise of China and other emerging regional superpowers. And perhaps the most worrying thing of all, virtually no chance of any climate change leadership in a decade which most scientific opinion is convinced is crucial for the future of the planet.

This is a deeply depressing time. It is not yet 9 years since September 11th. How America can have lost its way so quickly is simply staggering.

Daily Read 19/01/2010

Posted by chrisdshaw in Daily Feeds.
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Stocks fall on earnings concern as gilts decline, pound rises (Bloomberg)

Bank fee has merits but lacks financial clout (FT)

Why America and China will clash (FT)

BoE nerves to be tested as inflation jumps record amount (Daily Telegraph)

Germany to Pick up Greece’s tab? 18/01/2010

Posted by chrisdshaw in Economics.
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Gabriel Stein from Lombard Street Research thinks so. His colleague Charles Dumas goes further, arguing that the Eurozone will break up as southern European countries succumb to the inevitable (I’m having problems posting this clip- see Bloomberg videos for today “Lombard’s Dumas has “no doubt” Euro zone will break up”)

FX Lunchtime update- Spotlight on Euro 18/01/2010

Posted by chrisdshaw in Economics, FX.
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The flight from risk witnessed at the end of last week has continued in Asian and morning London trading. EURUSD reached a one week low early in the session and USDJPY dipped lower to below the 90.75 level. Following last week’s monetary tightening by China and the worse than expected U.S. retail sales figures today’s sentiment is driven by the eurozone, in particular the growing worries over Greece and its government’s plans to cut its fiscal deficit. Greek stocks and bonds are lower today and EURGBP is now trading below the 0.88 handle; the lowest since September.

The situation in Greece will presumably dominate the meeting of Eurozone finance minsters in Brussels this week. Greece’s finance minister Papaconstantinou said, “If there is something lacking (in our crisis plan), we will take additional measures.” He added, “As a new government, our priority of re-establishing reliability in our statistics and outlining our growth and stability program has helped create a new climate of hope but there is still work to do.” The sheer scale of the the  task facing the socialist government doesn’t sit well with the track record of fiscal discipline by previous Greek governments. The current plan is to cut the budget gap to 2.8% of GDP in 2012 from a deficit of 12.7% today. This year the deficit is to be reduced by the equivalent of 4% of GDP. Such stringent cuts would test the most socially cohesive and law-abiding society. The fact that Greece has shown a relative propensity for social unrest- witness the riots in December 2008- has led to nervousness among European officials and international investors. Strong words from the ECB and some German politicians about the lack of options have not quelled doubts that Greece will be able to repair its fiscal position. Today’s Daily Telegraph reports that the ECB has issued a document titled: “Withdrawl and explusion form the EU and EMU”. A long hot summer of rioting on the streets of Athens will do little to give investors confidence in the country or the periphery of Europe and will lead investors to speculate that Greece will be the first country to leave the eurozone. And with it the potential for further countries to exit. In any case, the position of the Euro is looking increasingly precarious.

Weekend Read 17/01/2010

Posted by chrisdshaw in Daily Feeds.
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How Jim O’Neill’s BRICs changed the world (Gillian Tett- FT)

Obama enters Kennedy fight (FT)

The Chinese state’s brutal side (Economist)

Obama: time to get tough (Economist)

Bears in a China shop (Economist)

Digging out of debt (Economist)

Daily Read 15/01/2010

Posted by chrisdshaw in Daily Feeds.
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Deleveraging out of the debt mire will be an unsavoury task (FT)

Wall Street may reduce compensation costs to avoid public outcry (Bloomberg)

Pound gains as central bank prepares for bond buying assessment (Bloomberg)

Waiting for better times is not substitute for action (Mohamed El-Erian, Pimco)

China’s economy: not just another fake (Economist)

Ailes’ new political-media party: The FNC-RNC hostile takeover (Daily Dish)

Unholy alliance at war with Obama’s foreign policy (FT)

FX Review 15/01/2010

Posted by chrisdshaw in FX.
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The currency markets this week has firmly re-established one of the main trends seen in 2010; the inverse relationship between the US dollar and risk appetite. Although most of the G10 currency pairs traded in fairly tight ranges the price action of greenback showed the resumption of its as the most favoured funding and safe-haven currency. Earlier in the week, a boost to risk appetite, triggered by stronger than expected Chinese export data, coupled with positive Australian job numbers put the USD under pressure. The week has ended, however, on a decidedly more bearish note, with yesterday’s negative retail sales data from the US adding to the conviction among investors that any strong recovery in the world’s largest economy is still some way off.

A further factor weighing on risk sentiment was the continued concern over Greece and its ability to address its dire fiscal position. The ECB’s Trichet highlighted both the concern he had about Greece and ruled out any bailout, either by the central bank or another EU member. Moreove, German Chancellor Angela Merkel  is quoted as saying that she is not worried about the solidity of Germany’s finances because a law passed in her first term would ensure that public budgets were consolidated in the years ahead. However, she notes: “But what worries me … is whether all the euro countries will stick to similar stipulations.” She adds: “Who is supposed to tell the Greek parliament that it needs to carry out a pension reform?” She concludes: “In view of this the EUR is going to be in a very difficult situation in the next few years.” Her comments were briefly posted on the governments website before being removed. The government’s press department said that the comments were published accidentally. EURUSD has fallen to 1.4400, a low for the week.

Teddy Pendergrass R.I.P. 15/01/2010

Posted by chrisdshaw in Music.
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Former lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes Philadelphia legend Teddy Pendergrass has died.