Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why doing business in China feels like being raped in the behind?

It's by design.

G.E. to Share Jet Technology With China in New Joint Venture
As China strives for leadership in the world’s most advanced industries, it sees commercial jetliners — planes that may someday challenge the best from Boeing and Airbus — as a top prize.

And no Western company has been more aggressive in helping China pursue that dream than one of the aviation industry’s biggest suppliers of jet engines and airplane technology, General Electric.

On Friday, during the visit of the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, to the United States, G.E. plans to sign a joint-venture agreement in commercial aviation that shows the tricky risk-and-reward calculations American corporations must increasingly make in their pursuit of lucrative markets in China.

G.E., in the partnership with a state-owned Chinese company, will be sharing its most sophisticated airplane electronics, including some of the same technology used in Boeing’s new state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner.

My pal says: "i would not get on a plane made in Chian"

My response: "put that in a frame, check again 20 years from now"

Airplanes from China, awesome.


Hu's super fun time at the White House

Well, not exactly.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2550 year old beer recipe.... mmmm, beer

Did they also find a 2550 year old beer goggles story? (The morning after, they all looked like cavemen...)

(image from unrelated story, here - which is worth browsing through as well)

WIRED: 2,550-Year-Old Celtic Beer Recipe Resurrected
Early Celtic rulers of a community in what’s now southwestern Germany liked to party, staging elaborate feasts in a ceremonial center. The business side of their revelries was located in a nearby brewery capable of turning out large quantities of a beer with a dark, smoky, slightly sour taste, new evidence suggests.

Six specially constructed ditches previously excavated at Eberdingen-Hochdorf a 2,550-year-old Celtic settlement, were used to make high-quality barley malt, a key beer ingredient, says archaeobotanist Hans-Peter Stika of the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart. Thousands of charred barley grains unearthed in the ditches about a decade ago came from a large malt-making enterprise, Stika reports in a paper published online January 4 in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

Stika bases that conclusion on a close resemblance of the ancient grains to barley malt that he made by reproducing several methods that Iron Age folk might have used. He also compared the ancient grains to malt produced in modern facilities. Upon confirming the presence of malt at the Celtic site, Stika reconstructed malt-making techniques there to determine how they must have affected beer taste.

The oldest known beer residue and brewing facilities date to 5,500 years ago in the Middle East, but archaeological clues to beer’s history are rare (SN: 10/2/04, p. 216).



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Munis are a-crashing

Having a large allocation of income investment vehicles, usually a form of taking caution, is the riskiest option around these days. Today it's the munis, another it's the financial's debt and another is the treasuries. However, one must remember there could be a domino's effect again. One side of the economy can topple the other. Given that possibility, a regular Joe might ask - well where should we put our hard earned savings.

Munis Crashing For Third Straight Day, And This Is The Worst Yet
It's hard to look at this chart, and not have your heart skip a bit of a beat.

For three days now, munis have tanked, and this is the worst one yet.

My thought: Falling muni-bonds means that state and local authorities are at the end of their rope and will find it much harder to fund their activities via further debt. A logarithmic sudden decline might force some into bankruptcy - as is the case with any indebted entity looking to refinance right when it's credit rating is crumbling.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Interesting read: alternatives to IPO investing in Facebook

If only each IPO could be accompanied by a hit movie, and everybody you know was a user of the IPO company's product....

Alternative Ways To Invest In Facebook
Founded in February 2004, Facebook, Inc., the company behind the social networking website of the same name, is a privately held company in Palo Alto, California. While you may think that only qualified investors who have a net worth of at least $1 million have an opportunity to buy private company shares, investing in companies and funds that are closely aligned with and/or associates of Facebook, is actually a viable option.

* The Nielsen Company

* Retail Companies

* SharesPost

* Invest in Facebook's Competitors

* Look Out for a Facebook IPO

Continue reading...


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chicken and Egg, or just stating that 2=2?

Consider the following title:

Higher commodity prices may spur inflation

I'm sorry, but isn't 'Higher commodity prices' the definition of inflation? Not the 'cause of it'. Sure, some economists define inflation backwards, by measuring money supply - however, it's pretty common to define it as "inflation means higher prices".

Anyways, this is not a case of what came first, commodity prices or inflation. Higher commodity prices is inflation, and movement in one side of the basket affects the other. Two equals two. The article simply meant to say that inflation will soon be felt by customers, as it is bubbling up from commodity prices.

The reader may say "thank you Mr. Obvious", or alternatively "zzz ... boring". Well - I'll try to do better next time.


Shh!!! Unemployment still high

When the measurements of our unfortunate prevailing depression don't make headlines anymore.

Jobless Claims in U.S. Rose 35,000 Last Week to 445,000
The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments jumped in the first week of 2011 to the highest level since October as more Americans lined up to file following the holidays.

Initial jobless claims rose by 35,000 to 445,000, according to Labor Department data released today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey called for 410,000 filings. The average number of applications over the past four weeks, a less-volatile gauge, increased to 416,500.

Today’s figures follow a report last week showing the U.S. added fewer jobs than forecast in December, underscoring the concern of Federal Reserve policy makers about the labor market. Economic growth may need to accelerate further and encourage companies to ramp up the hiring necessary to reduce the unemployment rate.

“The underlying trend is still a slow decline in claims,” said Lindsey Piegza, an economist at FTN Financial in New York. “We’re taking steps in the right direction though it’s not enough to move the unemployment rate down precipitously.”

Doesn't it feel like a huge problem of our times is swept under the rug?


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The D-word:Housing Market Slips Into Depression Territory

CNBC showed their cynical side today - starting with the headline, followed by an accompanying photo:

Housing Market Slips Into Depression Territory

At some point, we will stop referring to the economy as: in recovery, in crisis, in depression - there is a bottom, I don't know if we're there - but I doubt the media will tell us we are when we get there.

Perhaps housing will bottom when two things happen:
1. All heated markets will return to affordable pricing, we can all agree that California's housing pricing are insane. (were? not sure)
2. When banks will start declining loans to those who can't ever repay them. That'll take some political pressure to reverse the policies of the last 30 years.

Just my opinion, not an expert.