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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Urban myths re: Ethanol and the '07/'08 Food Panic, Chinese Consumers and a Hard Landing

Two intriguing SEEKING ALPHA articles--excerpted below-- deal with two popular and apparently ill-founded beliefs, that (1) Chinese Consumers will provide sufficient demand to rescue their nation's
economy from a hard landing, and (2) burgeoning ethanol production precipitated  the Food Panic of 2007/2008.

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In "China's End Game - The Dark Side Of A Great Deleveraging" , Dee Woo explains that by and large, the incomes in China are deteriorating, forcing consumers pare spending nd increase savings.

So where's the real money ?
Right now, the biggest problem for China is that state enterprises and corporations have too much monopoly power over wealth creation and income distribution. Much of the GDP growth and the economic progress of special interest groups are made at the expense of consumers trapped in worsening relative poverty. If China's problems aren't solved, the faster the Chinese GDP growth, the less Chinese consumers will be able to support the expansion that is beyond their country's capacity, and the more export momentum China will need to sustain its growth. It is a vicious circle of global imbalance; even the revaluation of the Yuan will not be able to ratify it.
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In "A Look Back At The 2007/08 Global Food Panic: One Possible Lesson For Today", Tristan R. Brown explains...
U.S. corn ethanol production was not responsible for the increased prices of those commodities at the time; indeed... U.S. corn exports nearly doubled between 2007 and 2008 in response to the fall in global supply. The media and UN were blaming the extreme rise in global crop prices on U.S. corn ethanol production when the real cause was much more global in nature: changes in trade policy [i.e., restrictions of food exports] by a dozen countries on three continents.

BTW, Brown has another fascinating article about the possibility re: isobutanol production supplanting that of ethanol.  Why should we care ?  Isobutanol would be a better fuel additive, among other things. But read Brown's article.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

UPDATED It's summer. Time for summer music...

from Blogger DJ. Submitted for your approval, a playlist that features The Sandals, The Beach Boys, Dick Dale, Huey Lewis and The News, Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music, Dirty Vegas, Telepopmusik, Santana, The Motels, Kajagoogooo, Peter Frampton, Paul Young, Traffic, Don Henley, Eddie Cochran, and many others.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hey, Golf Nuts ! Get Ready for the The Brit Open !

Interested in attending the British Open --or, as they call it in the U.K., 'The Open Championship' -- at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, this July 19-22 ? Tickets are available. For instance, a Day Ticket for Sunday will run you only 70GBP, a mere $108.69 at today's GBP/USD exchange rate !


The wife and I took in Wes Anderson's latest effort at the local Cinema 1-2-3-4000, in a shoebox theater populated with grey-hairs such as ourselves, and after more than a half-hour of ads and previews were rewarded with a film of great imagination and, dare I say it, fun.

What's this movie like, or about ?  To me, it was like spending two hours in a comfy, rambling cottage by the sea.  What's it about ? And what do the reviewers say ? Glad you asked.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times (3.5 stars) :
Wes Anderson's mind must be an exciting place for a story idea to be born. It immediately becomes more than a series of events and is transformed into a world with its own rules, in which everything is driven by emotions and desires as convincing as they are magical. "Moonrise Kingdom" creates such a world and takes place on an island that might as well be ruled by Prospero. It's set in 1965, though it might as well be set at any time.
Manohla Dargis of the New York Times (NYT Film Critics Choice) :

Like many of Mr. Anderson’s films, including his last one, the truly fantastic “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” there’s a deliberate, self-conscious once-upon-a-time quality to “Moonrise Kingdom.” From the minute the film opens, quickly settling on a needlepoint image of a house — a representation of the one in which Suzy lives, where it all begins — Mr. Anderson, who’s more fabulist than traditional realist, underscores the obvious point that you’re watching a story. This heightened sense of self-awareness is underscored by the exhilarating camera movements that sweep across the house from right to left, left to right, and up and down, and take you on a time and space tour through the house, past Suzy’s father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand, both touching).

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly
Anderson hasn't lost his puckishly charming genius for cinema-as-diorama visuals. Yet a lot happens in this film, and not a lot of it matters. For some viewers, Moonrise Kingdom may be movie heaven, another bric-a-brac-jammed bauble to place alongside The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited. Personally, though, I wish that Anderson would come out from under the glass, or at least change what he's doing under there.