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    Daily Digest – May 20

    by Davos

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009, 3:14 PM

  • The business logic of sustainability: Ray Anderson on TED.com (Video)
  • David Miliband: China ready to join US as world power
  • 60 Minutes – AIG, We Own It..(Video)
  • Uncle Jay Explains the News…(Video Deficits)
  • Canadians going Bankrupt in record numbers
  • Normalizing Earnings During Profit Freefalls (Charts on page)
  • Delinquency Rates at Commercial Banks (Chart)
  • Report: Smaller U.S. Banks need $24 Billion in Capital
  • Blue collar U.S. males lose more ground
  • Military Officers Tie Energy To National Security(Audio, H/T Christopher Peters)
  • Hotel crime rises in recession, but hotels say they’re still safe
  • America’s Future Job Market (Video, humor)
  • U.S. health officials troubled by new flu pattern
  •  A few A(H1N1) Links Dr. Henry Niman’s Map 6,863 U.S. Cases as of this wrtitng, A(H1N1) Current Timeline, CDC Cases 
  • May 18 | Japan (JP) | 163 cases confirmed, 4043 schools closed 


The business logic of sustainability: Ray Anderson on TED.com (Video)

David Miliband: China ready to join US as world power 

The view from the gallery of the Shanghai World Financial tower, a symbol of China’s growing economic influence. Photograph: Dan Chung/Guardian 

David Miliband today described China as the 21st century’s "indispensable power" with a decisive say on the future of the global economy, climate change and world trade.

The foreign secretary predicted that over the next few decades China would become one of the two "powers that count", along with the US, and Europe could emerge as a third only if it learned to speak with one voice.

The remarks, in a Guardian interview, represented the most direct acknowledgement to date from a senior minister, or arguably from any western leader, of China’s ascendant position in the global pecking order.

Miliband said a pivotal moment in China’s rise came at the G20 summit last month in London. Hu Jintao, China’s president, arrived as the head of the only major power still enjoying strong growth (expected to be 8% this year), backed by substantial financial reserves.

"The G20 was a very significant coming of economic age in an international forum for China. If you looked around the 20 people sitting at the table … what was striking was that when China spoke everybody listened," Miliband said.

"China’s indispensability in part comes from size, but a second part is that it wants to play a role."

Hu helped bolster Gordon Brown’s position against protectionism, and ­China’s economic stimulus package (equivalent to 16% of its GDP over two years) is widely seen as among the world’s best hopes for a recovery.


 60 Minutes – AIG, We Own It..(Video)

Uncle Jay Explains the News…(Video Deficits)


Canadians going Bankrupt in record numbers 

Declaring bankruptcy, once regarded as a shameful practice, is now a more viable option for the financially overwhelmed. But going broke can have significant repercussions.

By Gordon Powers – May 16, 2009

Although it has lost much of its stigma, declaring personal bankruptcy is still considered a last resort for many people sinking under the weight of unmanageable debt. Nonetheless, roughly 116,000 Canadians did just that in 2008, reports the Toronto-Dominion Bank.

And that number will continue to climb over the next two years, perhaps as high as 160,000, as rising unemployment takes its toll on heavily indebted households, TD estimates. But bankruptcy is not an easy – or pleasant – fix for financial problems. It comes with substantial side effects and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

How do you know when it’s time to finally pull the plug? Well, if you’re always behind in your payments and juggling cash advances or payday loans, you’re likely a good candidate. And if your marriage is crumbling over money, then bankruptcy may help clear the deck as you split.

It’s all a question of solvency. Generally speaking, you’re insolvent if the money you owe outweighs your assets and you have no reasonable chance of getting out from under. But that doesn’t mean you have to declare bankruptcy from the outset.

 Normalizing Earnings During Profit Freefalls (Charts on page) 

I am becoming terribly enamored of the charts Ron Griess highlights each week form The Chart Store. Now that earnings season is all but over, Ron looks at a few charts that are revealing of the extent of the damage done to corporate profitability. It is, in a word, breathtaking:

 Report: Smaller U.S. Banks need $24 Billion in Capital 

From the Financial Times: Smaller US banks need additional $24bn 

Small and medium-sized US banks must raise some $24bn to meet the capital standards set by the government in its stress tests of large institutions, research for the Financial Times shows.

News of the potential capital shortfall could increase pressure on many of the 7,900 US banks that form the backbone of the US financial system.

As many as 500 more banks could close, according to investment bank Sandler O’Neill … The government’s stress-case would result in capital shortfalls for 38 per cent of the 200 banks below the 19 largest financial institutions …
Unlike the large banks, it appears these banks will be forced to merge or allowed to fail (and taken over by the FDIC).

 Blue collar U.S. males lose more ground 

DALLAS, May 19 (Reuters) – Rodney Ringler is an unemployed blue collar male without a college degree. He’s hardly alone. Men like him have been the main victims of the current recession in the United States.

"I haven’t worked since December of 2007, around the time this recession started," Ringler, a 49-year-old computer technician, said as he walked his dog in a Dallas suburb.

He sees little light at the end of the tunnel.

"I’ve been looking to get into law enforcement because it’s a growth area," he said, but had no immediate prospects.

One statistic that stands out in America’s recession-stung economy is the unemployment rate for adult men: in April for the second month in a row it surged ahead of the national average to 9.4 percent versus 8.9 percent for all workers. The jobless rate for adult women was 7.1 percent.

The reasons are clear: male-heavy sectors such as construction and manufacturing have been hard hit. But the implications may be dire for the broader economy and hamper the recovery as families that once had male breadwinners struggle.

"In the 2001 recession, 51 percent of all job losses were for men. It was evenly split. But in this recession 80 percent of the jobs that have been lost have been men’s," said Andrew Sum, a labor economics professor at Northeastern University who has studied this issue in detail.

Men also incurred about 80 percent of the job losses in the 1990-91 recession, but Sum said by his calculations the numbers this time were dramatically different. In the 1990-91 recession, men lost 1.037 million jobs. They have lost 4.5 million to date in this one.

"This time around it is amazingly different in terms of the magnitude," Sum said.

It’s difficult to compare to earlier recessions because women entered the workforce in big numbers from the 1970s, and industries that continue to grow such as health services favor women.

The male jobless rate is pumped up by white collar banking jobs lost during the global financial crisis. A few of these may have been sent overseas but job growth in this sector should come back in time, analysts said.

 Military Officers Tie Energy To National Security(Audio, H/T Christopher Peters) 

All Things Considered, May 18, 2009 · The drive to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil is getting support from the country’s largest single user of oil — the Pentagon. Defense officials say they’re determined to cut back on the 300,000 barrels that the U.S. military burns every day. 

That promise comes just as a group of retired generals and admirals is pointing out that the way the United States uses energy is jeopardizing national security.

Ashton Carter, the new undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, says he has been told to find more fuel-efficient vehicles for the military. Partly, it’s for budget reasons: the expense of trucking fuel into Afghanistan means gassing up a Humvee in Kabul costs about $13 a gallon. But there are also geopolitical considerations.

"As you look out over the scenarios and the sources of conflict and the sources of threat to the United States, you see one after another that is driven by energy or in which energy is an important consideration," Carter says.

With energy supplies limited, rising demand brings conflict over access to those supplies: Oil-rich dictators get new power; high oil prices feed unrest.

Carter was speaking Monday at a forum featuring retired three- and four-star generals and admirals who have produced a critical new report on U.S. energy consumption. Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn, a former commander of the Navy’s 3rd Fleet, says the United States — and the Department of Defense in particular — have no choice but to figure out how to live on less.

"It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when [the Defense Department], and in fact the entire country, have to change our energy posture. And if you wait for it to be later, it’s pretty painful," McGinn said.

The retired officers were brought together by the Center for Naval Analyses, a nonprofit, military-oriented think tank. Their report says the overall U.S. energy posture "constitutes a serious and urgent threat to national security — militarily, diplomatically and economically." One vulnerability: the nation’s electrical grid.

"We all have had experience during the summertime with how fragile that grid is," said retired Adm. John Nathman, a former vice chief of naval operations, "of it not being nationally connected, the fact that in some cases it’s aged and in some cases it’s electronically controlled, which has a certain amount of weakness in terms of cyberattack."

Meaning terrorists or a hostile government could penetrate the grid and disrupt the electrical network.

The group is challenging the U.S. government and all Americans to reduce energy consumption and look for alternative energy sources.

 Delinquency Rates at Commercial Banks (Chart)

Hotel crime rises in recession, but hotels say they’re still safe 

Mary Catherine Tubbs was an experienced hotel manager, but that didn’t save her from becoming a crime victim at a hotel 10 years ago.

Like two women tied up last month in New England hotel rooms by an assailant dubbed the "Craigslist killer," Tubbs was tied up by a man who followed her into a hotel room in Northbrook, Ill. 

He threw her to the floor, tied her hands behind her back with a bathrobe sash, put a pillowcase over her head and choked her.

"I resisted vigorously, and he left," says Tubbs, a hospitality consultant in Nashville, who managed hotels from 1990 to 1998.

 America’s Future Job Market (Video, humor)


U.S. health officials troubled by new flu pattern 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The new influenza strain circulating around most of the United States is putting a worrying number of young adults and children into the hospital and hitting more schools than usual, U.S. health officials said on Monday. 

The H1N1 swine flu virus killed a vice principal at a New York City school over the weekend and has spread to 48 states. While it appears to be mild, it is affecting a disproportionate number of children, teenagers and young adults.

This includes people needing hospitalization — now up to 200, said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"That’s very unusual, to have so many people under 20 to require hospitalization, and some of them in (intensive care units)," Schuchat told reporters in a telephone briefing.

"We are now experiencing levels of influenza-like illness that are higher than usual for this time of year," Schuchat added. "We are also seeing outbreaks in schools, which is extremely unusual for this time of year."

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden agreed with Schuchat.

"We’re seeing increasing numbers of people going to emergency departments saying they have fever and flu, particularly young people in the 5 to 17 age group, " Frieden, who has been named by U.S. President Barack Obama as the new CDC director, told a news conference.

About half of all cases of influenza are being diagnosed as the new H1N1 strain, while the rest are influenza B, or the seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 strains. Flu season in the United States is usually almost over by May.

CDC officials say around 100,000 people are likely infected with the new flu strain in the United States and Schuchat said the 5,123 confirmed and probable cases and six deaths in the United States were "the tip of the iceberg."


  A few A(H1N1) Links Dr. Henry Niman’s Map 6863 U.S. Cases as of this wrtitng, A(H1N1) Current TimelineCDC Cases 

 May 18 | Japan (JP) | 163 cases confirmed, 4043 schools closed

A total of 4,043 schools and kindergartens were closed in and around both cities at the request of government authorities, up from some 2,000 on Monday, an education ministry official said. Japan’s number of confirmed cases has risen to 163 – the fourth largest national figure on the world infection table – in the central Honshu island region since the first confirmed domestic infection was reported on Saturday.

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