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Daily Digest 4/13 - Bird Flu Adapting To Mammals, Will Bitcoins Make Me Rich?

Saturday, April 13, 2013, 10:03 AM

Economy

Lust For Gold (Nervous Nelly)

What do I mean by goldbuggism? Not the notion that buying gold sometimes makes sense. Gold has been a very good investment since the early 2000s, and it’s probably not all bubble. One way to think about this is that gold is like a very long-term bond that’s protected from inflation; and actual long-term inflation-protected bonds have also seen big price increases, reflecting a general perception that there aren’t enough alternative good investments.

Will Bitcoins Make Me Rich? (jdargis)

Three weeks ago, I began hearing about bitcoin everywhere I turned. One afternoon I had lunch with a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the large Silicon Valley venture firm, who told me that he’d been fielding pitch after pitch for start-ups that offered bitcoin-related services. After lunch, I got an email from David Barrett, the CEO of the fantastic expense-reporting start-up Expensify. Barrett wanted to let me know that his firm would soon let people submit expenses and get paid by their employers in bitcoins. He explained that the feature wasn’t a gimmick. Bitcoin would be helpful for people who regularly submitted expenses internationally; other services—like PayPal—charge hefty fees for moving money overseas, but with bitcoin people could send money for free.

Bitcoin Is No Longer A Currency (jdargis)

In other words, Bitcoin has a massive deflationary bias. Its money supply is mostly fixed, but the menu of things it can buy is growing. The same amount of money chasing more goods means money will be worth more. Or, put another way, prices will fall in Bitcoin terms.

And that's why it's not a currency, and won't be one until it has a central bank.

The Calamity of So Long Life: How Not to Outlive Your Assets (jdargis)

“What often isn’t understood is the variability,” says Cynthia Levering, a retired pension actuary who continues to work with the Society of Actuaries. “You really need to plan around what happens if you are healthier and fall into above average.” To wit, a 65-year-old woman who lands in the top quartile in terms of longevity has a 62 percent chance of making it to (at least) 85 and a 42 percent chance of getting to 90. (For men in good health, the odds shift to 50-50 of being alive at 85 and 30 percent for age 90.)

Jim Rogers: The One Lie That Will Bring Down America (jdargis)

"What this pattern represents is a dangerous countdown clock that's quickly approaching zero," said Keith Fitz-Gerald, the Chief Investment Strategist for the Money Map Press, who predicted the 2008 oil shock, the credit default swap crisis that helped bring about the recession, and the Greek and European fiscal catastrophe that is still wreaking havoc until this day.

"The resulting chaos is going to crush Americans."

Dirt Flies at the Garden Club (Even Before Spring Planting) (jdargis)

When Ron Schuppert, the president for six years, decided he had had enough of the job, Ms. Ward campaigned on a platform of change and efficiency and swept into office in October after Mr. Schuppert successfully sponsored a motion that would, for the first time in club history, open voting beyond full members, to allow associates to vote and be elected.

“She could be very charming and convincing,” Mr. Schuppert, a private investigator and retired police officer, said this week, a little ruefully. “Also, the other candidates were not very” — he paused — “prepossessing.”

New bird flu strain seen adapting to mammals, humans (Arthur Robey)

The findings, drawn from genetic sequences deposited by Chinese researchers into an international database, provide some of the first molecular clues about a worrisome new strain of bird flu, the first human cases of which were reported on March 31 by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. So far, the new virus has sickened at least 33 people, killing nine. Although it is too early to predict its potential to cause a pandemic, signs that the virus is adapting to mammalian and, in particular, human hosts are unmistakable, says Kawaoka.

Tomatoes, Peppers, Strawberries Now Grow Well in Greenland's Arctic Valleys (Nervous Nelly)

"Every year we try new things," said Ernst, who even managed to grow a handful of strawberries that he served to some surprised Scandinavian royals. "I first came here in 1999 and no-one would have dreamed of doing this. But now the summer days seem warmer, and longer."

Gold & Silver

Click to read the Gold & Silver Digest: 4/11/13

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