Posts Tagged ‘US’

Muddled EU and an indecisive US help Russia emerge from the Cold War doldrums

March 9, 2014

The Soviet Union was dissolved 23 years ago. The experiment of exporting and imposing the Russian vision of socialism on 14 other countries had collapsed in spectacular fashion. It was a resounding victory for Ronald Reagan, Rambo, Capitalism, Democracy and “Western” values – in that order. The 15 post Soviet countries were then Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Countries within their influence but not part of the Soviet Union broke free and looked to find a new place in the growing and expansionist European Union. Czechoslavakia split. Yugoslavia fractured into many pieces. And Europe picked up the pieces. On the back of their economic problems and the dissolution of their Empire, Russia had no diplomatic clout left to speak of. They did inherit the Soviet seat on the Security Council along with its veto and that kept them at the big table if rather ineffective.

But all that is beginning to change. There is a long way to go but with its wealth of resources the Russian economy is beginning to recover. There is a resurgence of Russian diplomacy. Russian diplomats are beginning to have opinions on all matters of substance. They are aided and abeted by a muddled and meddlesome EU together with an indecisive and risk-averse President in the US.

In foreign as with economic policy the EU is a place of very many voices. Some members are looking to create a successor to the Holy Roman Empire with a Holy European Empire. Others are looking to create the United States of Europe. Some want in for the benefits but want out of the costs. But rather than being a place for the dissemination of best practices it has become a hodge-podge where the lowest common denominator applies. They claim to share the same “values” of equality and freedom but none of them like dirty gypsies from Romania. The European Parliament and the European commission add layers of fairly useless politicians and bureaucrats. If only there had been a rule that every sinecure created at the European level would have been accompanied by a reduction at a country level! Radicalised youth in the EU now provide cannon fodder for many conflicts around the world. On all possible sides. The UK and France provide psychopathic young muslims to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa. French and German and Swedish skinheads travel to the Ukraine to support the neo-nazi Right Sector.

With so many countries in the EU it is not too surprising that they get confused. A referendum in the Crimea is illegal but a referendum in Scotland is OK. They have been fooled into supporting miltant islamists in Syria and have handed the opposition into the control of Al Qaida. They have tried to meddle in the Ukraine and only succeeded in building up the neo-nazi Right Sector and in provoking Russia to enter the Crimea ostensibly to support the Russian origin population. One Swedish politician today suggested implementing a fast track entry for the Ukraine into the EU “as a signal to the Russians”. Little people trying to be politicians on the world stage. With 28 member states and 8 more in the wings, with a full range of political opinions in each country, it is hardly surprising that what emerges as policy, from the attempt to be balanced, borders on idiocy. Meanwhile the US is tired of its expensive adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan which have achieved very little. President Obama is looking to disengage wherever he can. To take on new risk is anathema. In Syria, Obama kept re-drawing red lines, and kept retreating behind them. That proxy war is being won by the Assad regime supported by Russia. The US and the EU no longer know who they support – or should support –  in Syria.

Syria and the Ukraine are just examples. A confused EU together with an indecisive US are providing the Russians with opportunities to test their diplomatic skills and to test the resolve of the EU and the US.

And judging by the results so far, neither the US nor the EU has a sticking point. There is not a leader in sight.

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China issues report on US Human Rights record

February 28, 2014

Pots calling kettles black and the kettles claiming the pots are even blacker!!

For the sake of balance…..

From Xinhua News:

BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) — China published a report on the United States’ human rights record on Friday, in response to U.S. criticism and “irresponsible remarks” about China.

“The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2013” was released by the Information Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, in response to “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013” made public by the U.S. State department on Thursday.

  • The U.S. government spies on its own citizens to a “massive and unrestrained” degree, the report says. The report calls the U.S. PRISM surveillance program, a vast, long-term mechanism for spying on private citizens both at home and abroad, “a blatant violation of international law” and says it “seriously infringes human rights.” The U.S. intelligence services, by virtue of data provided by Internet and telecom companies — including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Yahoo — “recklessly” track citizens’ private contacts and social activities. 
  • Since 2004, the U.S. has carried out 376 drone strikes killing 926 civilians. 
  • The U.S. has not ratified, or participated in, a series of core UN conventions on human rights, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 
  • Solitary confinement is prevalent in the U.S., the report says. In U.S. prisons, inmates in solitary confinement are enclosed in cramped cells with poor ventilation and little or no natural light, isolated from other prisoners; a situation that takes it toll on inmates’ physical and mental health. About 80,000 U.S. prisoners are in solitary confinement. Some have been held in solitary confinement for over 40 years. 
  • Rampant U.S. gun culture breeds violence that results in the death of 11,000 Americans every year. 
  • Firearms were used in 69.3 percent of the nation’s murders, 41 percent of robberies, and 21.8 percent of aggravated assaults. 
  • In 2013, 137 people were killed in 30 mass murder events (four or more deaths each). A rampage in the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington D.C. left 12 people dead. 
  • Unemployment for low-income families has topped 21 percent. 
  • The homeless population in the U.S. has climbed 16 percent from 2011 to 2013. 
  • There are also many child laborers in the agricultural sector in the U.S. and their physical and mental health is seriously compromised.

When molluscs and plovers take precedence – the “green” contribution to drought and flooding

February 13, 2014

Do-gooding idiocy has its consequences.

High rains (which happen from time to time) and undredged rivers will inevitably result in escape channels for the water being restricted and increase the possibility of water breaking out of the river channels and finding their own way to the sea. In the UK it seems rainfall levels have been very high this winter – but not as high as in 1929/1930. People are now living in much more vulnerable areas than they did before and the lack of dredging – mainly to protect some form of plant or wildlife – has led to – or at least contributed to – some of the flooding that is currently being experienced. Sections of the Thames have been left undredged to protect molluscs!

Apparently the same form of green idiocy  has also been prevalent in the US. In South Dakota plovers take precedence over humans and in northern California, the Delta Smelt – a small fish – is preventing the release of waters which could alleviate the drought being experienced by many farmers.

Human Lives Being Imperiled to Save the Mollusc and the Plover

It’s time for the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its British counterpart the Environment Agency (EA) to put humans first on their epic Endangered Species Lists. 

The new mantra of everyday people who make the populations of the U.S. and Britain should be: ‘People First, Rare Molluscs, Plover, & Delta Smelt Last’.

Thousands of people in both nations are being flooded out of house and home and lives are being imperiled because weak western leaders like Barack Obama and David Cameron allow their environment protection agencies to continue to cower to the demands of radical environmentalists.

Out of decency for the devastated, photo ops for Prime Minister David Cameron and politicians visiting Britain’s flooded areas wearing “wellies” (as in Wellington rubber boots) should be curtailed. …… 

It now turns out that in spite of the afflicted region being one of the most ‘undefended flood plains in England’, the Thames was not dredged in case a rare mollusc was disturbed. (Daily Mail, Feb. 13, 2014)

The EA,  of course is claiming that the mussels were not the only reason the Thames was not dredged, even though in a 2010 report, seen by the Mail, they ruled out dredging between Datchet and Staines because the river bed was home to the vulnerable creatures. ….. 

Even with devastation as the result, in South Dakota the waters of the mighty Missouri River are held back each spring to protect the plover, a shore bird that nests along the Missouri. 

“If they let out too much water in the spring, it drowns out their nests and kills the baby birds.  So the corps holds it back to allow the birds to hatch.” (William Kevin Stoos,CFP, June 1, 2011)

“Fast forward to the spring of 2011.  As I watch my friends in Dakota Dunes frantically trying to escape the mighty flood waters released in record amounts by the Corps this week, while their houses are ruined by the Muddy Mo, and my friends, neighbors, and family members work feverishly to protect our own homes and each others’ homes in Wynstone, South Dakota—up river a ways—I thought about the plover. ……

That’s the true tawdry tale of the plovers saved by environmentalists along the Missouri.

Then there’s the never-ending curious story of the Delta Smelt, a tiny fish that is exclusive to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a once fertile area that serves as a transition for water originating in northern California, ending in water delivery west of the delta for agriculture and south of the Delta for citizens of southern California.

According to Save-the-Fish radical environmentalists, pumping stations used for water delivery were pulverizing the smelt and leading to a dramatic decrease in population and possible extinction.

“The Delta smelt is not edible, does not eliminate pests or have any meaningful commercial value.  Sometimes, despite environmentalist’s protestations to the contrary, certain species reach a natural evolutionary dead end,” wrote William Busse in the Maricopa County Conservative Examiner back in September of 2009.

“However, using the weapon of the Endangered Species Act, environmental groups sued, and on December 14, 2007, Judge Oliver Wanger of the United States District Court for the Eastern district of California, issued an Interim Remedial Order

“The impact on farmers in the area has been devastating with the San Joaquin Valley unemployment rate reaching 14% and leaving thousands of previously productive farming acres scorched and unusable.  In addition, water utilities in southern California have already begun raising rates and creating tiered pricing to address the 85% reduction in imported water.”

To this day California is still under deadly drought—and still diverting water to save the Delta Smelt.

The incredulous headlines today are about a snowstorm in Washington. A snowstorm in winter! Who could possibly have anticipated that?

Environmentalism gives little priority to humans.

US “sells” Norway Ambassadorship to an uninformed hotelier

January 27, 2014

The uglier side of “democracy”.

That generous donors to the US political parties are rewarded with Ambassadorships is common knowledge. The smaller and “less important” countries are usually the destination for these bought positions unless a very large donation is made. $6.2 million can buy an Ambassadorship to France or Monaco.

And now Norway knows precisely how unimportant it is considered by Obama’s establishment as George Tsunis, a rich Greek-American hotelier and a very generous donor to the Democratic Party made an idiot of himself at the Senate confirmation hearings. After all he can’t do much harm sitting in Oslo!!!

He thought Norway was a Republic and didn’t know which parties were in the coalition ruling Norway. It would have been pointless asking him the name of the King. An ignorant person is a correct description – at least about Norway. He does apparently know something about running a hotel. It does not say much for his knowledge (and perhaps also his intelligence) but it does not say much either for the briefings he must have received from the State Department. A member of the Greek Orthodox church now going to be an expert in a Lutheran country!!

Or did the career diplomats deliberately make sure he was not briefed properly because they wanted to showcase his ignorance? 

George Tsunis at US Senate in Jnuary 2014 - source screen grab - The Local

George Tsunis at US Senate in Jnuary 2014 – source screen grab – The Local

Future US envoy displays total ignorance of Norway

The US’s next ambassador to Norway has committed a jaw-dropping diplomatic blunder before he even begins, describing politicians from the Progress Party, which has seven ministers, as “fringe elements” that “spew their hatred” in a US Senate hearing.

Asked by Senator John McCain what he thought it was about the “anti-immigration” Progress Party that appealed to Norwegian voters, Greek American businessman George Tsunis seemed unaware of the party’s role in the ruling coalition. 
“You get some fringe elements that have a microphone and spew their hatred,” he said in the pre-appointment hearing. “And I will tell you Norway has been very quick to denounce them.” 
McCain interrupted him, pointing out that as part of the coalition, the party was hardly being denounced. 
“I stand corrected,”  Tsunis said after a pause.  “I would like to leave my answer at… it’s a very,very open society and the overwhelming amount of Norwegians and the overwhelming amount of people in parliament don’t feel the same way.”
The blunder came after a faltering, incoherent performance from Tsunis, in which he made a reference to Norway’s “president”, apparently under the impression that the country is a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy. 
Tsunis founded the hotel management company Chartwell Hotels, which operates properties for InterContinental Hotels, and other major hotel groups. He is one of the leading figures in the Greek-American establishment, and is heavily involved in the Greek Orthodox Church. 
He donated $267,244 to the Democratic party in the 2012 election cycle, and $278,531 in 2010, making him one of the party’s top individual donors. 
His ineptitude has also been noticed in the US (but he was confirmed anyway).

billmoyers.com:

The State Department is filled with veteran foreign service officers with years of experience in international relations. Most of them are products of elite universities, where they studied subjects like conflict resolution or international trade theory. Many are multilingual, and all have deep expertise on the political scenes of various countries.

Yet they routinely watch as deep-pocketed political donors with little or no foreign service experience are appointed to serve as America’s ambassadors overseas. The practice is so common that a pair of international relations scholars at the University of Pennsylvania were able to put prices on various plumb ambassadorships. According to The New York Times, “the study found that political ambassadors who had made campaign donations of $550,000, or bundled contributions of $750,000, had a 90 percent chance of being posted to a country in Western Europe.” The best postings — in France or Monaco — could cost up to $6.2 million in direct contributions. ….

Other Norwegian media described Tsunis as having “trampled through the salad bowl,” according to Olivier Knox at Yahoo NewsKnox added that Tsunis wasn’t the first to fumble the hearing:

McCain, already flummoxed by the apparent inability of Obama’s choice to be ambassador to Hungary to list strategic US interests there, closed his questioning with a bit of sarcasm: “I have no more questions for this incredibly highly qualified group of nominees.”

US now has no option but to attack Syria – but to what end other than “feeling good”?

August 31, 2013

A “feel-good” strike?

After Kerry’s speech yesterday, it is no longer possible for the US not to carry out a strike (else Kerry will have no option but to resign). The UN inspectors left Syria today. Their analyses will take at least two weeks and the US cannot – after Kerry’s assertions yesterday – wait for that. President Obama is due in Sweden next Wednesday on his way to the G20 meeting in Saint Petersburg.

So an attack will surely take place between now and then. Probably tonight. It will be “limited” and targeted according to Obama. It will be in retaliation against those who killed 1429 people by using a nerve agent. The strike will certainly bring comfort to the Syrian rebels (including Al Qaida) and raise their hopes of a deepening intervention. If the strike is limited it is unlikely to be decisive in toppling Assad. It may weaken him. Right now Assad’s forces seem to have the upper hand. So a weakened Assad is likely to lead to the civil war being prolonged – whoever comes out on top.

So what would the objectives of the strike be? And how would success be measured?

It will not get rid of all chemical weapons. It may give pause for thought to future users of chemical weapons but it will only be a limited deterrent to future users (since previous users have not faced any repercussions). If the strike kills more than 1429 people or a significant number of “innocent civilians”, it will be difficult to claim any success.  if the numbers killed are small and the material destruction is limited, it will also provide – paradoxically – succour to Assad in that he has weathered the US-led storm. The only real success would be if the numbers killed are very small but the material destruction is so high that it may prevent Assad or his officers from being so quick to use such weapons again.

Certainly the US and its allies will “feel better”. Anybody killed in the strike will not. Assad will not but his opposition will.

But the risk with a “feel-good” strike is that it will not make the war any shorter and will only lead to further intervention and the risk of strengthening Al Qaida.

Low energy prices with shale gas leading to shift of jobs from Europe to US

December 28, 2012

It is inevitable that investment and jobs – and especially in energy intensive industries – will migrate to regions of low energy costs. Over the next few years the lead that the US has developed over the rest of the world in the exploitation of shale gas will cause European companies to shun the high energy costs at home and shift to the US.

Reuters: Austria’s group Voestalpine is considering a plan to build a $1 billion plant in the United States that would convert iron ore into concentrate used in steelmaking, Trend magazine reported. ………. Trend said the plant was envisioned for a coastal city in the southern United States, given cheap and reliable supplies of natural gas, political stability and efficient port infrastructure.

And the problem has been the unnecessary and misguided European obsession with chasing a mirage.  A meaningless and unjustified pursuit of “low carbon” energy; profligate subsidies for ineffective renewable energy; wasteful – and eventually corrupt – attempts to bias the market with carbon credits and the shutting down of perfectly viable coal and nuclear power plants has given the highest energy costs in the world. Gas prices in Europe are 4 or 5 times as high as in the US. Europe has plenty of shale gas potential but development is lagging far behind the US largely because of the political opposition from the “Green” lobbies. As the New York Times reports:

High Energy Costs Plaguing Europe

.. Asked whether he had considered building the plant in Europe, Voestalpine’s chief executive, Wolfgang Eder, said that that “calculation does not make sense from the very beginning.” Gas in Europe is much more expensive, he said.

High energy costs are emerging as an issue in Europe that is prompting debate, including questioning of the Continent’s clean energy initiatives. Over the past few years, Europe has spent tens of billions of euros in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The bulk of the spending has gone into low-carbon energy sources like wind and solar power that have needed special tariffs or other subsidies to be commercially viable.

“We embarked on a big transition to a low-carbon economy without taking into account the cost and without factoring in the competitive impact,” says Fabien Roques, head of European power and carbon at the energy consulting firm IHS CERA in Paris. “I think there will be a critical review of some of these policies in the next few years.” 

Both consumers and the industry are upset about high energy costs. Energy-intensive industries like chemicals and steel are, if not closing European plants outright, looking toward places like the United States that have lower energy costs as they pursue new investments.

BASF, the German chemical giant, has been outspoken about the consequences of energy costs for competitiveness and is building a new plant in Louisiana.

“We Europeans are currently paying up to four or five times more for natural gas than the Americans,” Harald Schwager, a member of the executive board at BASF, said last month. “Energy efficiency alone will not allow us to compensate for this. Of course, that means increased competition for all the European manufacturing sites.”

And it beomes increasingly clear that the chase for politically correct “brownie points” by European  governments as they have demonised carbon dioxide quite needlessly while spending massively on renewable subsidies is not sustainable. Just as Japan must now waste political energy in “reviewing” their hasty decisions about the use of nuclear energy after Fukushima , Europe will have to spend the next decade in “reviewing and reversing” the spate of bad decisions made based on climate alarmism.

The expansion in renewables will probably ensure that Europe will meet its target of reducing greenhouse gases 20 percent from their 1990 levels by 2020. But it has been a disappointment on other levels. For one thing, emissions continue to rise globally. In a sense, Europe is likely to have exported its emissions to places like China, where polluting economic activity continues to increase while the European economy stagnates.

A striking indicator that the European effort has not achieved all that it intended to is the continued rise in the burning of coal, by far the biggest polluter among fossil fuels.

The International Energy Agency, a Paris-based group formed by consumer nations, recently said that coal was likely to catch up with oil as the world’s largest source of energy in a decade.

Much of the increase in coal use can be blamed on China and India, but not all of it. Europe has increased its coal use this year, and that has led to an increase of about 7 percent in carbon dioxide emissions from power generation, according to IHS. Coal use is increasing in all regions except the United States, the I.E.A. said.

Could Romney really upset Obama? US election gets interesting

October 10, 2012

A few months ago it seemed like a done deal.

The US economy was showing signs of recovery at just the right time for November. The Republican primaries – viewed from very far away – seemed to be self-destructive. The Tea Party kept shooting themselves in the foot and in other parts of their strange anatomies. Mitt Romney seemed to be a personally successful but a wooden candidate lacking the ability to catch the electorate’s imagination. The election was losing interest for me.

And now one Presidential debate seems to have changed all that. I thought Romney was good – engaged and articulate and focused. I did not think that Obama was all that bad but he seemed listless and lacking in the fire he showed 4 years ago. It showed up sometimes as a sort of frustration and he failed to enthuse. Clearly battling with Congress has taken its toll.

Perhaps the key point was that he did not himself seem especially fired up about continuing for another 4 years. He seems tired. From so far away my perceptions are just perceptions but the subject of the US Presidential election has become compulsive again. I am a little sceptical that just one Presidential debate can determine the outcome and suspect that it was the culmination of the many months of disillusionment with Obama and his own apparent loss of enthusiasm. In any event the prospect of a Romney win has become real again.

Who would I prefer to see win? US domestic issues do not affect me except in that they do provide direction for many others outside the US. Instead of looking at whose views I support I prefer to see which candidate better supports my views.

  • In that sense Health Care models are universal and Obama has a healthier view than Romney’s dithering.
  • In Foreign Policy I do not see that there would be much difference in their approach to the Middle East – and the Middle East is what has set the entire world scene over the last decade. Perhaps there is a higher chance of a strike on Iran with Romney (with its risk of World war 3). But neither is likely to reevaluate the relationship with Israel and Israel’s nuclear weapons. And without that the Middle East will remain a flash-point.
  • The possibility of profligate support of subsidy regimes to push politically correct agendas is much greater with Obama. Many of these politically correct agendas are based on alarmism and bad science. Jobs come from wealth creation not from subsidising nonsense. Healthy job creation (sustainable jobs and not just increasing the public sector or throwing money at silly environmental projects) is more likely with Romney.
  • Obama is likely to continue with a taxation view that is fundamentally flawed. Taxation has to shift away from penalising wealth creation and focus on being a disincentive to wealth destruction (by irreversible consumption). Romney will be constrained by taxation orthodoxy but is more likely to move closer to my view.

Not very easy to choose. My preference would be the Obama of 4 years ago against today’s Romney. But the Romney of today could be more interesting than the tired, frustrated and listless Obama on display. The world financial recovery is more likely with Romney than with Obama. I suspect Obama will still win — but the process has become interesting again.

If Ryan wins or draws the VP debate against Biden and if Romney wins the second debate he would – I think – become favorite.

Long term investment: Avoid the carbon taxers (Australia) and follow the shale gas (US)

August 24, 2012

It is electricity price – rather than energy price – which is I think the more telling parameter for growth and investment. And it is electricity price which matters fundamentally. Winning “brownie points” for being virtuous and politically correct is irrelevant and often counter-productive.

Historically, a  low (unsubsidised) electricity price has nearly always given high growth, increased exports to regions with higher electricity prices and an attractive climate to invest in. This simple observation will now lead to my shifting my (small) investments away from  Australia for some time – at least as long they continue with their virtuous but meaningless carbon tax. On the other hand, the relatively low electricity prices resulting from the advent of shale gas  in the US augur well for the US economy and for US exporters – irrespective of which party the President comes from.

In my own field of power generation I expect a gas turbine combined cycle boom in the US in 2014/15 (which will also be a boom for steam turbine manufacturers). So my message for the next 5 or 6 years is to shift your investments away from Australia (and other virtuous but economically silly countries) and into countries promoting low energy prices (US and other countries where the environmental regulations and tax regimes allow  production of electricity at the lowest possible cost).

Sydney Morning Herald: 

BHP Billiton head Marius Kloppers has told European investors that Australia’s carbon and mining taxes have helped to render the nation’s coal industry unworthy of further investment at this time. ……. 

In comments that appeared to be more pointed than those given in his Australian media conference, Mr Kloppers put some of the blame on the federal government’s two controversial new taxes.

”What I am seeing on the eastern seaboard in Australia is that the coal industry has been very heavily impacted by lower prices, higher operating costs, carbon taxes and increased royalties,” he said.

Royalties were increased by the New South Wales government as it sought to exploit a loophole in the federal government’s new mining tax, and a similar tactic is now being considered by the Queensland government. ….

Financial Times:

….. Today, few realise that the US stands on the cusp of significant economic gains stimulated by low energy costs. High quality global journalism requires investment.  …..

The consensus view discounts the economic boost from natural gas, arguing that the energy sector cannot generate so many jobs. The doubters wear blinkers; they see nothing but the energy market. They commit the mistake made by forecasters in 1991. They miss the tectonic shifts in trade,  ….

(The shale gas) advantage gives manufacturing plants in the US a 60 per cent, 70 per cent or even 80 per cent cost advantage over those operating in China, Japan, South Korea or European countries.

Read more: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/09fbb2ac-87b8-11e1-ade2-00144feab49a.html#axzz24QutnD2A

China downgrades US bonds as trade surplus expands

November 10, 2010

The Telegraph:

One of China’s leading credit rating agencies has downgraded United States of America government debt in response to what it sees as deliberate devaluation of the dollar by quantitative easing and other means.

If China, now the second biggest economy in the world, stops buying US government bonds this could have a very negative effect on the global recovery. The Dagong Global Credit Rating Company analysis is highly critical of American attempts to borrow their way out of debt. It criticises competitive currency devaluation and predicts a “long-term recession”.

Dagong Global Credit says: “In order to rescue the national crisis, the US government resorted to the extreme economic policy of depreciating the U.S. dollar at all costs and this fully exposes the deep-rooted problem in the development and the management model of national economy.

The analysis concludes:  “The potential overall crisis in the  world resulting from the US dollar depreciation will increase the uncertainty of the U.S.  economic recovery. Under the circumstances that none of the economic factors  influencing the U.S. economy has turned better explicitly it is possible that the US will continue to expand the use of its loose monetary policy, damaging the interests the creditors.

“Therefore, given the current situation, the United States may face much unpredictable risks in solvency in the coming one to two years. Accordingly, Dagong assigns negative outlook on both local and foreign currency sovereign credit ratings of the United States.”

Max King, global investment strategist at Investec Asset Management, said: “Dagong is well respected as an independent credit rating agency which takes a more conservative view than better-known American credit rating agencies.

“It is interesting to see what people with money outside the American sphere of influence think.  Until recently, the US had been regarded as beyond reproach but now independent analysts say the position is deteriorating and likely to deteriorate further.

Meanwhile Xinhua reports the trade figures for October:

China’s exports rose 22.9 percent in October from a year earlier to 135.98 billion U.S. dollars, while imports increased 25.3 percent to 108.83 billion U.S. dollars, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said Wednesday.

China’s trade surplus expanded sharply to 27.15 billion U.S. dollars last month from 16.88 billion U.S. dollars in September, making the October figure the second highest this year after July’s 28.73 billion U.S. dollars.

The higher-than-expected trade surplus would add pressure for the yuan’s appreciation and exacerbate the already grave inflation problem in China, said ANZ Bank economist Liu Ligang.

In the first 10 months, China’s trade surplus totaled 147.77 billion U.S. dollars, down 6.7 percent compared with the same period last year.

Foreign trade with the European Union, China’s largest trade partner, grew 32.9 percent year on year to 388.42 billion U.S. dollars in the first 10 months.

Trade with the United States climbed 29.8 percent to 310.71 billion U.S. dollars during the January-October period. China-Japan trade totaled 239.28 billion U.S. dollars, up 31.3 percent year on year.


US wind power installations down by 72%

November 1, 2010

The New York Times

 

broken wind turbine: image thetechherald.com

 

In July, the American Wind Energy Association reported that it was having a lousy year. It appears the third quarter of 2010 wasn’t much better.

According to an analysis released on Friday, the trade group reports having its slowest quarter since 2007, adding just 395 megawatts of wind power capacity. For the year to date, new installations were down 72 percent.

Natural gas, the chief fossil-fuel competitor to renewable sources of electricity, is also dirt cheap these days, making wind power a tougher sell for cost-conscious utilities and state regulators. Despite lots of talk on Capitol Hill about the hazards of fossil fuels, their contribution to climate change and the need for broad, long-term supports for the renewables industry, legislators have failed to reach agreement on what that might look like.

But then the lobbying  gets going

“If federal policymakers do not act quickly to provide investment certainty through a Renewable Electricity Standard, and longer-term tax policy like our competitors enjoy,” Denise Bode, the chief executive of the wind association, said in a prepared statement, “the U.S. wind industry will continue to stall out.”

Elizabeth Salerno, director of industry data and analysis with the American Wind Energy Association, said in a phone call that state-level policies have helped. Roughly 30 states have mandatory targets for diversifying their energy portfolios with more renewable power. “They’ve been doing a great job leading the effort to get renewables installed over the past decade,” Ms. Salerno said.

The trade group reported some interesting developments — including Oregon’s emergence as the leader in new wind installations for the third quarter, eclipsing Texas, which has long held the top slot. The reason, the group suggests, is that Texas has hit a transmission wall and is trying to sort out how to get its west Texas wind resources to the load centers in the center of the state.


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