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    Daily Digest – June 28

    by Davos

    Sunday, June 28, 2009, 2:26 PM

  • Fungus threat hangs over world wheat production (Repost)
  • Appraise Local? (Video)
  • Commodity Snapshot (Charts)
  • Another Hotel Defaults on Mortgage Debt (Repost)
  • Mass. is housing homeless in motels
  • Fannie, Freddie asked to relax condo loan rules: report
  • LEI, Leading Edge Indicators
  • Buffett Opines on Green Shoots, Inflation, Apple Disclosure, and Bernanke
  • Cap-and-Tax or Cap-and Create Another Bubble?
  • The End of the Recession?
  • The impending end of the bear market rally (Video on page)
  • FSN New Hour, 3rd Hour with Jim and John Part 3A and 3B

Economy

Fungus threat hangs over world wheat production (Repost)

Brown spores on wheat head showing the effects of the deadly fungus that caused the new strain of stem rust dieases that is decimating wheat plantations in eastern Africa, as seen in a file picture.

OTTAWA — Scientists in Canada and around the world are racing to find a way to stop a destructive fungus that threatens to wipe out 80 per cent of the world’s wheat crop, causing widespread famine and pushing the cost of such staples as bread and pasta through the roof.

Canadian officials say that the airborne fungus, known as Ug99, has so far proved unstoppable, making its way out of eastern Africa and into the Middle East and Central Asia. It is now threatening areas that account for more than one-third of the world’s wheat production and scientists in North America say it’s only a matter of time before the pest hits the breadbasket regions of North America, Russia and China.

"I think it’s important people start recognizing what a big threat this is. This could mean world famine. This is quite the deal," said Rob Graf, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s research centre in Lethbridge, Alta.

The United Nations calls Ug99 "a major threat" to the world’s food security.

"Anything that one part of the world gets, another part of the world will eventually get," said Doug Robertson, president of The Grain Growers of Canada. "Stem rust can be a really devastating disease."

Ug99 — so named because it was first found in Uganda in 1999 — is a type of stem rust. Spores from the fungus attach themselves to the stalk of a wheat plant and a pustule that causes the reddish-brown rust colour grows. The pustule takes over the plant’s nutrient and water system to nurture more pustules and spores instead of grain.

Rust is a problem wheat growers have been dealing with since biblical times. Canadian wheat producers last dealt with a massive rust problem in the 1950s.

(More)

Appraise Local? (Video)

Commodity Snapshot (Charts)

Another Hotel Defaults on Mortgage Debt (Repost)

From the WSJ: Red Roof Inn Defaults on Mortgage Debt (hat tips to all in the comments!)

Red Roof Inn Inc. … defaulted on $332 million of mortgage debt … Red Roof confirmed the defaults Tuesday.

All told, Red Roof’s properties carry at least $1 billion in debt, including mortgages, mezzanine loans and other notes.

"As a result of the extraordinary stress in the hospitality industry and the economy overall, we have entered into some restructuring discussions with our lenders," said Andrew Alexander, an executive vice president of Red Roof.

Occupancy at Red Roof’s properties, which averaged 62% when the mortgages were originated in 2007, sank to 50.7% in the first four months of this year.
The drop in occupancy rates are similar to the overall industry decline. And not only are occupancy rates off sharply, but so are room rates. Smith Travel Research reported last week that revenue per available room (RevPAR) was off 18.6 percent for the comparable week last year. I think this is just the beginning for the hotel related defaults.

Mass. is housing homeless in motels

MASSACHUSETTS (WPRI) – A record number of families are being put up in motels in Massachusetts. High unemployment and the rising number of home foreclosures is the reason the state is taking this action.

Housing Massachusetts’ homeless is costing tax payers around $2 million per month. It costs an average of $85 per night to have families, including nearly 1000 children, stay in motels.

The Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness admits that the use of motels for the homeless is not ideal, but is the best that can be done at this time.

Homeless advocates are worried that families are not getting the support of shelters with living rooms, kitchens, and play areas.

Fannie, Freddie asked to relax condo loan rules: report

In a letter to the CEOs of both companies, Representatives Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Anthony Weiner warned that a 70 percent sales threshold "may be too onerous" and could lead condo buyers to shun new developments, according to the paper.

LEI, Leading Edge Indicators

Buffett Opines on Green Shoots, Inflation, Apple Disclosure, and Bernanke

As far as green shoots in the economy, Buffett said he is just not seeing any. He even joked about a cataract surgery being a month ago and he still can’t see green shoots. He noted the weakness in retail and manufacturing, and said demand is “down like we’ve never seen it.”

Cap-and-Tax or Cap-and Create Another Bubble?

The "razor-thin vote in the House spells doom in the Senate," said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the top Republican on the Senate’s environment panel.

The End of the Recession?

walked into the office yesterday evening and there was someone on CNBC talking about how the 50-day moving average of the S&P 500 rising above the 200-day moving average was telling us the market was getting ready to rise and the recovery had started. I listened to his babbling for another 2-3 minutes and couldn’t take it anymore

The impending end of the bear market rally (Video on page)

FSN New Hour, 3rd Hour with Jim and John Part 3A and 3B

Part 3A

  • 19:00 1.6 Trillion Health Care and Cap and Tax
  • 25:00 Where is the money coming from?
  • 27:00 How the Social Security Trust Fund Works
  • 32:00 Foreign Investment, Safe Haven and Bond Yields
  • 38:00 Catch 22 for the Fed, Save the Economy or the Dollar? A or B?
  • 40:00 Imports
  • 43:00 Next Bubble
  • 46:00 Ben Bernanke Can’t Remember (Page 10/18)

Part 3B

  • 2:00 Energy Consumption
  • 4:00 Not center of the universe
  • 26:00 Cap and Trade a 2 trillion dollar hidden tax that will be a $3,000.00 tax to American Families
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