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    Daily Digest 11/15 – Stimulus Lifts Japan’s Economy, Retail Sales Increase, Ireland Bail Out

    by DailyDigest

    Monday, November 15, 2010, 4:00 PM

  • A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It
  • Stimulus Helps Lift Japanese Economy
  • Oil Futures: Crude Rebounds After Last Week’s Sell-off
  • Retail Sales Jump on Auto Strength
  • Bailing Out Ireland, Bailing Out Banks
  • O.K., You Fix the Budget
  • Fresh Attack on Fed Move

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Book Review: A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (deb)

Dr. Ahmed examines five separate crises confronting our civilization: “Climate Catastrophe,” “Energy Scarcity,” “Food Insecurity,” “Economic Instability,” “International Terrorism” and the “Militarization Tendency.” While his coverage and explanation of the root causes of each of these crises is outstanding and well worth reading in their own right, this is not the true strength of the book. Rather, he clearly and directly explains that, while the impact of each of these crises is great, we can only understand their true impact and how to potentially solve or mitigate them as a system. We cannot solve or optimally mitigate climate change without considering peak oil, peak oil without considering the collapse of the nation-state, or global poverty without examining our economic and finance structure, etc.

Stimulus Helps Lift Japanese Economy 

Deflation, or a decline in prices, has also weighed on the Japanese recovery as it has tried to pull out of its worst recession since World War II. “The growth rate itself beat our expectations,” said Norio Miyagawa, senior economist at Mizuho Securities Research and Consulting. “But that growth was helped by a spike in spending by consumers racing to benefit from the last of the government incentives. We can expect the economy to slow in the coming months. After that, recovery will depend on how the global economy holds up.”

Oil Futures: Crude Rebounds After Last Week’s Sell-off 

Prices were helped by slight recovery by the euro against the dollar, after the single currency hit a intra-day low of 1.3603 against the greenback during Asian trade. Crude prices are inversely correlated to the dollar, gaining as the U.S. currency weakens, as dollar-denominated commodities become cheaper for other currency holders. At 1238 GMT, the front-month December Brent contract on London’s ICE futures exchange was 93 cents higher at $87.27 a barrel. The front-month December contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange was trading up 80 cents at $85.68 a barrel. The ICE’s gasoil contract for December delivery was higher $1.25 at $743.50 a metric ton, while Nymex gasoline for December delivery was up 259 cents at $2.2358 a gallon.

Retail Sales Jump on Auto Strength 

Retail sales rose 1.2% last month, the Commerce Department said Monday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had projected sales would climb by 0.8%. The increase was the biggest since March and the fourth in a row. September sales rose 0.7%, revised up from a previously estimated 0.6% increase. The strong gain is important for the economic recovery. Consumer spending makes up most of gross domestic product, which is the broad measure of U.S. economic activity. GDP in the third quarter grew a modest 2.0%, supported by a solid but not very big gain in consumer spending. Consumers have been frugal, restrained by a U.S. unemployment rate of 9.6%. Still, the latest government data show nonfarm payrolls rose by a greater-than-expected 151,000 jobs in October, a sign of improving labor conditions that, if sustained, could lead to stronger spending and economic growth.

Bailing Out Ireland, Bailing Out Banks 

Frankly it’s a fiction of accounting whether the Irish banking sector or the Irish sovereign actually gets the bailout. Firstly given the nexus of funding guarantees that have bound the two together since the crisis, and which remain open to possible burden-sharing by bank bondholders. But secondly — and here’s the irony — because the recent capitulation in Irish government bonds also appears to have keelhauled the banks.

O.K., You Fix the Budget 

The looming federal deficits are so large that they are likely to occupy much of Washington’s attention for years. Arguably, this new deficit obsession — what some are calling the Age of Austerity — began this month. The midterm elections ushered in a Republican House majority pledging to shrink government, and on Wednesday the leaders of the bipartisan panel released the outline of a deficit-cutting plan for the panel’s members to debate. Like that panel, The New York Times has conducted its own analysis of the federal budget, but with a different final product. Rather than making recommendations, we are laying out a menu of major options, so that readers can come up with their own plan. We have received help along the way from the deficit panel, from Congressional and White House aides and from liberal, conservative and centrist budget analysts. The deficit puzzle on The Times’s Web site is the result.

Fresh Attack on Fed Move 

group of prominent Republican-leaning economists, coordinating with Republican lawmakers and political strategists, is launching a campaign this week calling on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to drop his plan to buy $600 billion in additional U.S. Treasury bonds. “The planned asset purchases risk currency debasement and inflation, and we do not think they will achieve the Fed’s objective of promoting employment,” they say in an open letter to be published as ads this week in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. The economists have been consulting Republican lawmakers, including incoming House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and began discussions with potential GOP presidential candidates over the weekend, according to a person involved.


The Status Quo’s Fundamental Paradigms Are Broken

Here is a typical presentation of the Status Quo’s faith in the “China Story” that China’s growth can and will continue unimpeded for decades to come: Elizabeth C. Economy is a well-informed, insightful analyst. Yet she presumes that China can grow like a tree to the sky and that its consumption of oil and other resources can likewise double every few years forever. There is not one word in this long essay which even hints at the possibility that constraints in the real world might hinder China’s vast ambitions and appetites for “the good life” of middle-class consumption for its 1.2 billion citizens. Though China runs a good PR game about building a “green economy,” we should note that its energy consumption equaled the U.S. this year and its production of vehicles far surpassed the U.S. this year.

Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the “3 Es.”

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