Daily Digest 6/29 - Greece Crisis Postponed, Hell In The Rearview Mirror, How To Feed A Planet
A Big Hairball Of Risk (remizajac)
There are two problems with this optimistic take. The first is about will: authorities may be more willing to tolerate a slowdown and less enthusiastic about stimulus of the kind used in 2008 since it would delay rebalancing away from investment. The second is about ability. China’s record of managing growth is not to be taken lightly but the policy that guarantees 8% growth with no booms or busts has yet to be invented. If China suffers a hard landing this year, it will only prove its leaders are human. Odds of a good outcome: 80%.
Friends with benefits: Peer-to-peer insurance (remizajac)
There should be benefits for Friendsurance and its partners, too. “Insuring in self-selecting groups can improve the quality of the risk,” says Dave Aron of Gartner, a consultancy. Friends tend to be more honest with each other, which makes fraud more unlikely. They are also less likely to put in for very small claims—a broken teapot, say—which generate a lot of costs for traditional insurers. And social insurance is viral: customers have an interest to spread the word and get other friends to join in.
Defense Spending In A Time Of Austerity (remizajac)
Robert Gates, America’s defence secretary, has ordered that production of the F-22 should end this year, capping the fleet at 187—a final cull for the Raptor, whose numbers were once supposed to reach about 750. In Europe orders for the Typhoon—a fighter made by Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain—will fall. And on both sides of the Atlantic the rising cost of the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter means its order book could shrink sharply.
Crisis Postponed (jdargis)
Although there aren't any other good options, Syriza continues to speak for those who think that there are. Syriza continues to promise an alternative: no austerity, more spending, more government jobs. Reject the conditions that Europe demands in exchange for sending good money after bad. Reject what many Greeks perceive as a foreign, German-led attempt to undermine their nation. Wave a magic wand, and let money pour into the economy. Never mind that it can't be done: If Greece breaks its budgetary promises then Europe will stop lending, Greek banks will fail, and the country will be forced into a rapid exit from the euro. In the long term, this outcome might well be better for Greece. In the short term, there would be massive chaos.
The US Energy Department used to spend about three times as much on research into nuclear fusion in the 1980’s and 1990’s compared to today. Prager worries that fewer scientists will be attracted to the field of nuclear fusion due to the lack of federal support, and that this could result in a loss of expertise which will hamper the ability to capitalise on future research in comparison to other countries.
Health effects from coal-fired plants — increased deaths from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates — comprise more than a quarter of pollution-related damages from U.S. industry. That's a conservative estimate, done by centrist economists, that leaves out the health effects of climate change altogether. But probably more important is the conclusion that coal plants are a cost-benefit nightmare.
After a five-year effort to double the plant's capacity, making it the largest in the country, they must now reassemble many of the same people and parts for a blitzkrieg fix that may exceed the original $300 million cost of the unit: corrosion experts are flying in from across the world; hundreds of workers are being hired; bespoke 30-inch (75-cm) stainless steel pipelines and 30-story cranes may need to be obtained quickly, according to sources involved in the repairs.
How to Feed A Planet (remizajac)
This chart is the nearest thing to a snapshot of everything you need to know about feeding the world. It comes from Cargill, a grain trading company, and shows which regions of the world have a food surplus or deficit, and how imports or exports have changed since 1965. The big changes in food production during that time came in South America (Brazil, mainly) and in Eastern Europe (Russia, mainly). The worry is that these increases were down to one-off factors: the farming of land that had been left alone in Brazil and the collapse of Communism in Russia. Meanwhile, on the consumption side, it seems likely that Asia and the Middle East and Africa will continue to require increased imports to satisfy growing populations. To feed itself for the next half century, the world needs an agricultural revolution in Africa.
Neither of us could believe what we saw: a hurricane of fire had erupted in the foothills. Cary called me describing menacing flames along 30th Street and Centennial Boulevard. I figured she must be exaggerating. Then I got closer and faced the otherworldly orange glow of the swirling clouds and winced at the ash-filled, 101-degree winds.
I joined a line of cars backed up along Rockrimmon Boulevard and Delmonico Drive like I never could have imagined.
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