Weekly Round Up July 18 – 2012

“..we are throwing more and more of our resources, including the cream of our youth, into financial activities remote from the production of goods and services, into activities that generate high private rewards disproportionate to their social productivity.” – James Tobin

Science, General Knowledge & Environment

Dust Today, Gone Tomorrow: Astronomers Discover Houdini-Like Vanishing Act in Space – “It’s like the classic magician’s trick — now you see it, now you don’t,” said Carl Melis, a postdoctoral scholar at UC San Diego and lead author of the research. “Only in this case, we’re talking about enough dust to fill an inner solar system, and it really is gone!

Fish Learn to Cope in a High Carbon Dioxide World – “Both scientists warn that the major impact on ocean acidification is likely to be on the corals themselves, and the reefs which they form, which in turn provide the habitat for small fish such as the anemone fish. The fate of the world’s reefs under a high human CO2 regime remains highly uncertain, they caution.

Study Links Cat Litter Box to Increased Suicide Risk – “A common parasite that can lurk in the cat litter box may cause undetected brain changes in women that make them more prone to suicide, according to an international study.

Money Won’t Make You Nicer: What Science Says About Rich People’s Behavior – “Science has shown that not having much money generally leads to all kinds of not-so-awesome outcomes: shorter life expectancy, higher stress, poorer health and a lack of social mobility. Increasingly, however, the rich are being put under the microscope.

Japan panel: Fukushima nuclear disaster ‘man-made’ – “Collusion and lack of governance by government, regulators and Tepco; Insufficient knowledge and training within Tepco; Lack of preparation on part of government, regulators, Tepco, and prime minister’s office to allow adequate response to accident of this scope,including mounting effective evacuation; Laws and regulations based on stopgap measures in response to previous accidents – need comprehensive review.

Insider Report on Big Pharma’s Corrupt Marketing and Phony Science – “Nevertheless, what is chilling in this insider account at BMJ is the sense of how pervasive and institutionalized the subordination of science, and worse, concern for the public, is to pushing drugs.


Noam Chomsky: ‘The Occupy movement just lit a spark’ – “‘If you’re rich and powerful you never have enough’. In this full-length interview, Gary Younge talks to US historian and philosopher Noam Chomsky about why the Occupy movement is so important, where it goes from here, and how it will affect the election.

If you take my advice, I’d repress them – Adam Curtis. “…throughout most of the twentieth century, British advisers to the Bahraini royal family, backed up by British military might, were central figures in the creation of a ruthless system that imprisoned and sometimes tortured any Bahraini citizen who even dared to suggest the idea of democracy.

Iran won’t crack  – “Not only the BRICS group of emerging powers but also de 110-plus members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – that is, the absolute majority of a de facto “international community” – are appalled at how Iran has been treated as a pariah in its negotiations with the P5+1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Angola’s Chinese-built ghost town – “Designed to house up to half a million people when complete, Kilamba has been built by the state-owned China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) in under three years at a reported cost of $3.5bn (£2.2bn).” Paid in oil by the government of Angola.

Is China Scared of a Coup? – “The key lesson of the tumultuous events of 1989 was that leadership should not show public disunity. The PLA loyalty drumbeat suggests this is a real concern. Continuation probably should be taken as sign of growing instability within the leadership and an end to the current possibilities of internal CCP reforms.

China’s censorship battle between the cats and the mice – “If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you know how important a wall is for an old kingdom. It prevents the weird things from the north,” says Anti. China also had a wall to prevent invaders. But now, he says, it has a great firewall, the biggest in the world. That wall works to separate China from the world, and also separates Chinese internally, into sections.

Finance & Economics

Ignorance is bliss – “There are many studies that show that economic forecasts have a poorer success rate than tossing a coin. They tend to work when they are obvious and are rarely accurate when something surprising occurs. Friedrich Hayek once said that “the curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

Roubini Warns a Crisis in 2013 Would Be Worse Than 2008 – Video – “Nevertheless, he’s been warning of a possible crisis in 2013 for some time and is not backing off from that call as the date approaches. In this Bloomberg interview, Roubini describes why a meltdown next year would be even worse than what we saw in 2008.

Olivier Delamarche le 10 juillet 2012 BFM Business – (Hat tip Lolo) – La Chine et le Japon dans un monde économique en arrêt et bulle dans les obligations.

Investment banks seek new models for Asia – (Hat tip Dad) – “Attracted by the region’s rapid growth, fuelled by China’s rise as an economic superpower, global and local investment banks have spent heavily on Asian operations, opening offices in new countries and hiring thousands of people.

Jobless HK bankers must hone skills – (Hat tip Dad) – “Western finance is experiencing a very painful gear-change from one that turned out to be way too high for the economic engine. Emerging Asia is barely out of first gear in finance terms.

China’s ghost ships ply the bulk routes – “China’s huge fleet of coastal ships, usually confined to plying the Chinese seaboard, has sailed out of the shadows to seek international business in yet another sign that China’s economy is slowing.

Death of the China cult – “Still, the cult has not yet died.  The past few years have produced an impression of the Chinese government as invincible, and it has miraculous control over the economic machine, that the slowdown is “intentionally” engineered by the government and everything within the economy is still very much under control.

Dealing with a Double Whammy – Andy Xie. “In the past decade China gained Western jobs and exports markets, but the loss of both means that serious systemic flaws are being laid bare.

Will China Face a Lost Decade? – “Remember that China has shown signs of overinvestment for years. On the eve of the financial crisis, it took $4 to $5 of investment in the US to produce $1 of GDP growth. In China, the ratio was closer to $7 to $8 of investment to $1 of growth.

The last thing the world needs now is a deflationary shock from China – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. “Albert Edwards from Societe Generale said the danger now is that China suddenly lurches into a deeper downturn, unleashing a flood of excess goods onto global markets and sending a powerful deflationary impulse across the world.

Number of the day: “A recent survey by the American Psychological Association paints a picture of workers on the verge of a nervous breakdown: Sixty-two percent say work has a significant impact on their stress levels;  Almost 50 percent indicate their stress levels have increased between 2007 and 2008; Forty-five percent of workers say job insecurity has a significant impact on stress levels.

Picture of the day:

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"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi

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