Daily Digest 1/17 - Global Economic Challenges 2013, UK Beer Gets Watered Down
Graphene: Patent surge reveals global race (westcoastjan)
Early work on graphene by two Russian-born scientists at the University of Manchester, Andrei Geim and Konstantin Novosolev, earned them a shared Nobel Prize in 2010 and then knighthoods.
The material - described as being far stronger than diamond, much more conductive than copper and as flexible as rubber - is now at the heart of a worldwide contest to exploit its properties and develop techniques to commercialise it.
Singapore steps up property curbs to bring down prices (westcoastjan)
"Coupled with the large supply pipeline of public and private housing over the next few years, we think property prices will very likely stabilise, if not fall, this year."
Foreigners and firms buying residential property will now pay an increased stamp duty of 15%, up from 10%.
Let’s rephrase: the US trade deficit is by design, and it was sustained by the members of the Breton Woods Agreement. It would be practically impossible to maintain a trade deficit of this proportion naturally–and even more impossible with a gold standard, as the gold reserves would have to be sent to foreigners to balance trade deficits. The table below shows the leading foreign holders of US debt, which are China and Japan as the main financiers of the US trade deficit.
Silver may have a different story. Beginning January 15th and particularly strong on January 28th we could see silver make strong advances. There may be industrial purchases for silver in addition to public buying that drives prices beginning next week. Silver looks powerfully bullish in the astrology after March 25th and all the way into the end of 2013.
Inflation Rocks The UK As Beer Gets Watered Down (westcoastjan)
Heineken, which is also raising the cost of the famous bitter by about 2.5 pence a pint, said it was bringing John Smith’s “in line with competitor smooth ales that already sit at or below this alcoholic strength”, including its biggest rival, Carlsberg’s Tetley Smoothflow.
We are on the threshold of 'currency wars' (Martin F.)
In December 2012, the Bank of Japan raised the limit for the asset purchase program by 10tn yen ($120bn) to 101tn yen ($1,210bn). The stimulus measures in the country are aimed at driving Japan out of deflation and achieve 2% inflation. The Japanese economy is marred by over 20 years of negative growth and deflation.
Such an artificial currency downgrade is a way “to a separation, a split into separate zones of influence, up to a very sharp competition, up to the world currency wars, which is definitely counterproductive,” Ulyukaev said.
Another theme is budget discipline in the G20 countries is crucial to promote global sustainable growth due to tight interconnection of major economies, and that is a priority for the Russian presidency of the G20 this year. The debt-to-GDP ratio in the USA, UK and Japan has increased by 40 per cent from 2007 to 2011. US state debt today reaches staggering US$15 trillion and its budget deficit is 11 per cent of GDP, setting a bad example for smaller economies like Greece. A possible solution for the US and other developed economies, some experts believe, could be a policy of budget regulation through working out and following through a set of detailed stabilization and debt-cutting plans (ideally reducing debt to 60 per cent of GDP).
He's seeking more than $1 billion a year in new revenue to fund projects designed to fund public transit and highway operations, reduce MBTA debt and borrow money to double infrastructure spending. Beacon Hill leaders reportedly signaled agreement.
Alaska: Gas Rich, but No Longer Relevant (James S.)
Opponents of US natural gas exports argue that unrestricted exports would be an economic disaster as it would result in significant price hikes for consumers and manufacturers. It is the current high supply that is keeping prices down. This camp say such a move would only promote big bucks for big oil and would not be in the country’s interest.
Advocates of shale gas, which is extracted by the controversial process of 'fracking’, hope it can transform the UK energy landscape, heralding a new era of cheap energy as it has in the US. Chancellor George Osborne has said Britain should not “be left behind as gas prices tumble on the other side of the Atlantic”.
Beijing Orders Official Cars Off Roads to Curb Pollution (Nervous Nelly)
Official measurements of PM2.5, fine airborne particulates that pose the largest health risks, rose as high as 993 micrograms per cubic meter in Beijing on Jan. 12, compared with World Health Organization guidelines of no more than 25. It was as high as 500 at 6 a.m. today. Long-term exposure to fine particulates raises the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as lung cancer, according to the WHO.
Greenland rare earths: No special favours for EU (westcoastjan)
Most of Greenland is covered by an ice cap, but the acceleration of Arctic melting is making it easier to tap the territory's resources. It is the world's largest island but has a population of only 57,000, many of whom live in poverty.
Yet there are fears that reckless exploitation of Greenland's minerals could endanger the pristine Arctic environment.
Appalachian coal companies increasingly have been selling their output to Europe, where natural gas remains expensive. America’s cheaply mined and low-priced coal, though, is in Wyoming and Montana. According to Wolak’s research, if West Coast coal export terminals are built, it is likely that coal companies will ship massive amounts of the stuff to Asia. China has built so many coal-fired power plants to fuel its economic growth that it switched from being an exporter of coal to an importer in 2009. Since then, its imports have skyrocketed.
Gold & Silver
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