Thursday, July 30, 2009

Orders for durable US goods down in June

US orders for durable manufactured goods fell in June by 2.5%, the largest amount in the last five months.

Lower demand for air travel led to commercial aircraft orders down 38.5%, while orders for motor vehicles and parts fell by 1%.

Note: If one excludes transportation related goods, orders for durable goods were up by 1.1% in June.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

US homes sales in June

According to the US National Association of Realtors, in June, sales of previously-owned homes rose rose 3.6% to an annual rate of 4.89 million, up from 4.77 million in May. This is third month of rising sales a row.

On the othe hand, house prices were still down 15.4% compared to a year ago and the average sale price now is $181,000.

Friday, July 24, 2009

the correlation between universal health care and greed

IMO a universal healthcare system helps curb greed in a society and economy!

EU27: Time for firm decisions?

EU: Do some of the 27 member countries really have to firmly make up their minds whether they want to be in the EU or not?

Federalism (EU vs USA)

Is the EU going about federalism the wrong way compared eg to the USA?

EU-USA: time for a single market?

Is it time for a USA - EU single market? Yes/No? And why/why not?

EU jon creation?

Os it the EU policies or the EU Single Market that is supposed to provide jobs opportunities for EUropeans?

IMO the latter!

Who creates jobs?

Market climate and conditions create jobs, not public policies or laws per se!
Government policies (and regulations) often destroy rather than create private sector jobs

comparative advantage and industrial policy in the US in 2009+

What do "comparative advantage" and "industrial policy" really mean in the 2009+ USA reality?

On "real" globalization

IMO real globalization means that small even mini companies from all WTO countries can compete in the global market as niche players

Regulatory culture

Public Policy: more or better regulations and laws?

IMO, better and fewer!

The EU's Single Market and small companies

16 years post 1993, is the EU Single Market really working for the mid + small size firms + the "ordinary" people of the EU in general?

An EU frame of mind?

How many EUropeans feel that they wake up in EUrope?

Britain in or out of the EU?

How much FDI (foreign direct investment, ie new plants etc) from the USA, Japan etc would Britain have if it was not part of the EU and EU's Single Market?

Globalization, parochialism and frames of mind

Philosophical: When you wake up in the morning do you think/feel that you wake up in
a) your home
b) your town
c) your country
d) your continent
e) Earth or
f) the Universe?

A question of frame of mind?

the debate on the proposed US universal health care

While the US House of Reps. may vote on health care next week:

Ah those "Marxist" (!!!) universal health care countries such as Britain, France, et al!!!

EU Treaty: Václav Klaus + October 2 Irish ref = ???

EU Lisbon Treaty: Václav Klaus + October 2 Irish ref = ???

Václav Klaus, the Eurosceptic libertarian president of the Czech Republic, is threatening to delay the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, assuming the new Irish ref. is a "Yes" one, before the end of the year. As President of the Czech Rep., his signature is needed.

That may also delay the assumption of duty by the new group of Commissioners, and the existing team may have to assume a caretaker role after its official mandate expires on October 31, 2009.

Protectionism alive and kicking?

IMO there is these days lots of lip service by governments against protectionism, but little substance

Capitalism upgrade?

Do the political will and policy acumen exist to "upgrade" Capitalism?


The UK economy contracted 0.8% in Q2 (the April - June trimester).

This is more than double the rate that many economists expected (-0.3%), but much less than the 2.4% contraction in Q1.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Global Relaxation

Relax, the winds are dying down
Feel the change
Anticipate the sun
Prepare for the rain

Endure the pain
Conserve the joy
Enjoy the lust while it lasts
Cry for all the summers lost

Winter is coming
It always comes
Year after year
This is the year of the Globe

Welcome to the Spa
We've been waiting for you
Or someone like you
Enjoy the stay, the pool is that way

August 2005

Saturday, July 18, 2009

RIP Walter Cronkite - are news in 2009 "explainable"?

Walter Cronkite not only reported but also explained the news.

But are news in 2009 "explainable"?
By whom? Why not?

No, because, IMO, the systemics of the era are more complicated than ever before. Much like the world population size in 2009 is vastly different (larger) than the one in 1960. Bigger and more complex than ever before.

Analysis by humans fails to capture all the elements of the world systemics or, if your prefer, "the governing dynamics" (see "A Beautiful Mind").

Of course many do offer rather "neat" scenarios or theories why things are happening, many times they involve a conspiracy by someones, or a stellar event (see 2012) or "an enemy".

Plus: What is (real) news in 2009? Try to correlate the break up of a famous celeb couple in Hollywood with the GDP of South Korea with TV ratings in Italy with the price of rice in India with the USD reserves of China with Cali's state deficit with the average temperature in Smithtown Ohio with ..... Not really doable (faisable in French).

When data so exceeds the capacity of any human, or even computer model, to absorb, process, analyse and make sense of, then IMO that's when Philosophy, the type Socrates and Plato produced in Ancient Athens 2500 years ago, kicks in!

Philosophy and humor! The ultimate "refuge" of the globalized (willingly or unwillingly) citizen of 2009, in NYC, Palatine, LA, Denver, Newport, Smallville USA and France, Menton, Santiago, Sofia, Bangkok, Kyoto, etc etc etc.

Stay tuned to this blog for further updates (lol) on these "breaking news"!

Too much news = no news?

The man in the street: Information overload?

How relevant are the daily movements in the financial markets to the "man in the street"?

Too much tax, no tax (trop d' impots, pas d' impots)
Too many news , no news?

US stimulus package and jobs

The effect of the stimulus on jobs will peak at the end of 2010 according to top White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers.

According to Mr Summers, rising joblessness does not prove that the stimulus "is falling short".

Well, IMO, if the effects of the stimulus on jobs take until the end of 2010 to materialise, the stimulus package is not falling short but long!

US real estate, stocks and optimism

A better-than-expected report on the housing market in June that was issued by the US Commerce Dept. today (Friday) dampened demand for safe investments.

Construction of homes and apartments jumped 3.6% in June, to the highest level in seven months, beating economists’ estimates while building permits climbed 8.7%, also beating forecasts.
Yet note: Builders are trying to complete homes before a November deadline that gives first-time buyers a special tax break.

This week, the Dow Jones industrials and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index posted their best weekly performance since the week ending March 13, when the stock market’s spring surge began.

Friday, July 17, 2009

China's trade balance and USD reserves

In Q2/2009 (April to June), China's economy grew at an annual rate of 7.9%, up from 6.1% in Q1!

China's foreign exchange reserves have surpassed USD 2 trillion!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Some thoughts on the dynamics of our times

Globalisation: what types of industrial production and jobs can the US and EU viably maintain or develop?

Understanding the signs of the times IMO requires appreciating the importance of understanding the interplay between the economic, social, civic, political, policy and other dimension of the trends and dynamics.

And let's not forget that Economics is after all, IMO, a social science, no a natural science or mathematics.

Which also bring us to the realisation that nowadays "property - asset #management" comes in 3 types
a) financial
b) real estate and now
c) intellectual

Plus, the economic crisis makes good home-ec even more important nowadays!
"household management" is not that less demanding or important than business/corporate management! Does that mean that a household manager needs an MBA?

Revised Fed predictions for GDP in 2009, 2010 and 2011

The US's central bank (the US Federal Reserve Bank) in its revised predictions says that the US economy will contract by 1%-1.5% this year. That is a better forecast that the May one (-1.3% - -2%).

For 2010, it now forecasts growth by 2.1% to 3.3% (May forecasts: 2% to 3%).

But the Fed now warns that US unemployment could rise above 10%, as high as 10.1%! In June, unemployment climbed to 9.5%, the highest rate in 26 years (1983)!

In its analysis of the US economy, the Fed points out that: consumer spending appeared to have stabilized since the start of the year, sales and starts of new homes were flattening out, and the recent declines in capital spending did not look as severe as those that had occurred around the turn of the year. Moreover, it seemed likely that economic activity was in the process of leveling out, and the considerable improvements in financial markets over recent months were likely to lend further support to aggregate demand.

US inflation in June

Driven by a 17,5% rise in petrol prices, the US Consumer Price Index rose by 0.7% in June. May's rise of 0.1%.

Since energy costs were in crisis in 2008, when compared to 2008, the 2009 prices index is down 1.4%.

This 1.4% decline is the largest year-on-year decline in CPI in the US in nearly 60 years!

UK unemployment reaches 2.38 million

Unemployment in the UK reached 2.38 million in May 2008, after a 281,000 rise in the March to May period, leading to an unemployment rate of 7.6% that the highest in the UK in more than 10 years.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit increased by 23,800 in June, reaching 1.56 million.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

US retail sales and inflation in June

In June, US retail sales rose in June by 0.6% (May: 0.5%), driven by petrol, cars and auto parts.

But when these 3 are excluded, sales dropped 0.2%, for the 4th month in a row.

The June Producer Price Index (PPI) rose by 1.8%.
Again, when one excludes food and energy, the figure for core wholesale prices was lower than the 1.8%, 0.5%.

UK inflation in June

in June, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) fell to an annual rate of 1.8% (2.2% in May), the lowest since more than 2 years and below the government's target rate of 2.0%.

The Retail Prices Index (RPI), another inflation measure, one that includes mortgage interest payments and housing costs, fell to -1.6% in June (-1.1% in May), lowest rate since ONS statistics started being kept in 1948!

the usefulness of being ...

Consider the following 'philosophical' issue:

What is the usefulness of being "useless" and what is the uselessness of being "useful" in today's economy - markets? Ie do we need to rethink our criteria of what constitutes usefulness?

Food for thought!

UK: barbecues, ice cream and desserts

Retail sales in the UK up in June, driven by food sales that were boosted by good weather that drove demand for barbecue related items, ice cream and frozen desserts.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

US trade deficit in May lowest in 10 years

In May, US imports continued to fall while exports increased, yielding a trade deficit of USD 26bn (£16bn), the lowest since November 1999. The May deficit was almost 10% lower than the April one!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The human right to immigration

"no free immigration, no free trade"?

In other words, should freedom of immigration go hand in hand with free trade?

IMO, yes. All 4 freedoms are needed for "balance" (capital, goods, services, humans)

In other words, members of a Free Trade Area or Zone or Agreement (be it an FTA or a Union or the WTO (or a new, Mach II (deeper) WTO within the WTO) should allow for freedom of immigration. "No free immigration, (then) No Free Trade".

The freedom of a human, an "Eathling" to live and work where-ever on this planet he/she wants (provided he/she does so legally, ie pay his/her taxes, abide to the laws of the state, etc) is IMO fundamental and over-looked by many otherwise humanists or pro-liberty or freedoms proponents. This right should be automatic and limited only in certain cases instead of the exact opposite which is the case nowadays!

do we need more Philosophy today?

Yes we do, IMO.

Can one self-proclaim him/herself a "philosopher", asked a friend - IMO, yes, much a singer, poet, painter, etc, can! Being a philosopher does not mean one is a good philosopher, that is for each "reader" of his/her philosophies to determine! JMO

Socrates, Plato et al produced philosophy for all, not the elites.

Philosophy = the pursuit of wisdom (ie a philosopher is not a guru or a preacher or an activist or a policy or law maker, et etc) - the genre of "philosophy" I practice is secular, logic driven, applied and serves as food for thought, not "dogma" or the like.

IMO wise men/women are wise, whereas philosophers seek wisdom (and enlightenment)

IMO know thyself = wisdom, world awareness = enlightenment - philosophers r the seekers of both (by analogy to SWOT)

IMO the No. 1 task for philosophers today is to inspire others to be more philosophical, ie to think before doing to ponder to ask why not only how, to become more "philosophised", to reach better decisions in all aspects of life and thus have a better chance to achieve happiness (ie the goal in life, according to Aristotle).

the negative effects of just-in-time

Just-in-time is IMO more responsible for the chaos of our era than any other factor.

In the last 30 years, it has spilled over from production+logistics into all aspects of life, thus making people make forced decisions (of different kinds) under pressure and thus causing many personal and collective failures.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

chaotic global systemics?

Took a look at the agenda of the 3 day G8 summit, July 8-10: too many items to allow for serious discussion, IMO

G7 G8 G14 G20 MEF OECD WTO etc etc etc: gets kinda complicated and what is more, too chaotic for serious policy making, IMO

Friday, July 3, 2009

"Everyday, Life passes by"

Philosophical (in pop art form, music):

everyday, life passes by, ....

"2009, the year of our discontent"

A pop art type comment on the dynamics in 2009!

thoughts on EU dynamics and future

IMO anti-EU activists should be supporting the Lisbon EU Treaty! Why? Because it will provide the framework for countries to leave the EU

IMO it will not be the end of the EU if 1 or 2 countries with dominant anti-EU opinions decide to leave the 27+ member EU. On the contrary, it may allow the EU to move "deeper".

The New European Commission

Should a new European Commission be formed before or after the future of the Lisbon EU Treaty is settled?

That makes IMO a lot of difference. Eg, will the Commissioners be 27 or will the Lisbon style of Commission synthesis be applied for the upcoming year term?

At the moment, it seems that a July 15 European Parliament vote of a European Commission President is unlikely.

Eurozone inflation, interest rate, consumption and unemployment

1) Eurozone inflation was -0.1% in June (0% in May), first time since the establishment of the Euro currency.

Analyses differ at to whether this an isolated occurence or it will continue in the coming months.

2) The European Central Bank kept its key interest rate unchanged at 1% at its monthly meeting (July 2)

3) The unemployment rate rose to 9.5% in May from 9.3% in April

Hence, 15 million people in the Eurozone were out of work in May 2009!

In the EU27, the rate in May was 8.9% (21.5 million jobless in the EU in May)

Spain tops the list of 27 with 18.7% and NL has the lowest, only 3.2%.

4) Retail sales fell 0.4% on a month-on-month basis, as opposed to an April 0.1% rise. On a yearly basis the decline in retail sales in May was 3.3%.

Reminder: The Euro-zone consists of 16 of the 27 member economies of the European Union.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The EU, "Lisbon" and "United States of Europe"

What does Germany's highest court ruling on the Lisbon Treaty really mean for the EU? IMO, too early to tell.

Is a "United States of Europe" feasible in the EU?

IMO, no!


The present and future absence of a common working language sur le terrain (ie the workplaces and markets and streets around the EU). In the US, people may speak any language at home but at the shop or store etc, English is the language. That type of situation is not likely to happen, IMO, in the EU, within the next 100 years at least!

PS. IMO/IME, each of the 50 states in the USA has much more "power" than most Europeans and other non-American think, including those who are afraid of a "United States of Europe".

But that is IMO "irrelevant" or a moot issue. The EU will not become a USE for the reason (language) that I proposed above.

Or will it?
Or a Federal Republic (German style)?

updated: June 10, 2011

The competitiveness of the US and EU economies, 2009 and beyond

36.2m jobless in EU+USA (21.5m in EU in May, 14.7 m in USA in June): Will the US and EU economies ever be able to re-create even nearly so many jobs, taking into account the current and future global systemics and dynamics?

US unemployment (June)

67,000 jobs were lost in the US in June, raising the unemployment rate to 9.5% from 9.4% in May.

on "Trade Wars"

Lots of trade rules dispute cases are being brought to the World Trade Organisation: The US vs. China, China vs the US, the EU and the EU vs. China, on different issues/products of course. Are these not "trade wars"?

In the meantime, these and other parties want the world trade talks to resume.

Does all this make sense? And to whom?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

India's exports hit by global recession

Exports are a significant factor for the economy of India, 15% of GDP.

Thus the news that India's exports fell in May for the 8th consecutive month is crucial.

Exports in May were down 29.2% from May 2008 and imports 39.2% (valued in India's national currency) and the trade deficit was about 50% that of May 2008.

Which begs the economic, social and philosophical question: Is reduction of countries' trade deficit due to the global recession a "good" or a "bad" thing? Food for thought.

Irish unemployment in June

11.9%, the highest in more than 13 years!

can we re-define "economics"

Can we begin to understand the causes of the current distortions to "orthodox" capitalism?
Eg can we address the issue of economic greed and greed for consumer goods? Its drivers? Can philosophers provide the prototypes for inspiring people to redirect their sources of satisfaction towards less materialist, less greedy, less environment destructive "targets"/applications?

Can we help people replace material status symbols with intellectual ones?

Can we find the alternative to shareholder and profit maximization systemic goals?

Can we re-define economics in a definition that is more relevant to the actual roots of the term?

on climate change

The core of the problem is cultural and IMO philosophical

Can we redirect most of our needs and wants away from tangible to intangible - intellectual "products"?

Can we put the tech advances of the last 200 yrs into better, more environment friendly, use?

"Independence" and "sovereignty" in 2009 terms

The national independence days for the US and France are approaching (July 4 and July 14). IMO that is a good opportunity to think about factors what constitute "independence" and (another popular term again these days) "sovereignty" in 2009 rather than 1509 or 1809 terms.

The global oil and staple foods "shocks" of last year did, IMO, offer some warnings as to the over-reliance of countries and economies on global trade. IMO they did provide some food for thought re the ability of a country or economy/society to operate in cases, even rare, when "global free trade" fails,, for any of many potential reasons.

See eg the ability of the UK economy to operate when the drivers of barges carrying oil to the UK went on strike even for a few days last year (self reliance on energy sources) or the dependence of the EU on natural gas from a single third country.

Much of the British public and media seem to be concerned over the issue of loss of sovereignty to "Brussels" (ie the EU) and that was reflected, inter alia, in the results of the recent European Parliament elections. Yet relatively little concern seem to exist in the UK over the influence of foreign "sovereign wealth funds" on the UK's sovereignty or independence. On the other hand, countries such as Russia and Germany have in recent months either established (Russia) or plan to establish (Germany) certain limits or conditions or approval processes re foreigh investment, especially investment, direct or via the stockmarket, made by funds that are controlled by foreign governments (SWFs).

Thus are laws drafted and passed by reps of the 27 member states of the EU undermining the independence or sovereignty of the UK or other member states more or less than:

a) SWF investments
b) over-reliance on exports (see what is happening to the economies of export relying countries such as Germany, China, Taiwan, Thailand, etc) these days?
c) over-reliance on imports or foreign trade (export and import)?
d) having reserves that are denoted in a foreign sovereign currency?
e) other

On the other hand, can trade really take place even within the existing WTO rules that makes it possible for small companies to actually trade internationally when such a company has to comply with the national legislation of many different countries (or even regions thereof, eg see Canada or states (see USA or Germany)?

IMO, we, policy analysts and makers, media, the citizens' society, philosophers and other thinkers, activists of many kinds, etc, need to engage in a major thinking exercise and public discussion on what constitutes real independence and real sovereignty in 2009 terms and what does not. IMO the current definitions used or implied by many are inconsistent or not that relevant to the real sources and real threats of these concepts and values in our era.

The exercise should include, IMO, the issue of "national champions" and "backbones to national economies" (eg financial services in the UK, auto manufacturing in Germany and the US, etc etc).

That is of course a rather difficult and emotionally loaded topic but when the going gets as tough as it is today (and the fuzz as well), there is IMO a need for these "things" to be discussed and somewhat clarified. Because IMO what the modern citizen of most at least OECD (if not WTO) countries needs these days of uber-uncertainties is more clarity, not less (aka more political or activist "double talk", eg how can a "buy US" clause in the US stimulus package be consistent with the US's WTO (and NAFTA) "rules"?).

In days and times of high uncertainty, due to many causes, IMO, people need policy, rules and systemics that reduce rather than increase "fuzz".

Just my philosophical opinion

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