Saturday, November 28, 2009
A government official said that the additional purchase would depend on the “successful pitching by RBI”. “RBI is an independent body, and the government does not interfere in its affairs. It will get the gold if its bid is successful and at the price it has offered,” said the official.
RBI did not respond to Financial Chronicle questions if it was bidding for the remaining IMF gold. The purchase of the first lot of 200 tonnes, RBI had said at the time, was a part of its foreign exchange reserves management operations.
Responding to query from FC, an IMF spokesperson said the gold sale process was still under way and “there is no fixed timetable for completing the sale”. Its spokesperson further said that “the fund does not wish to comment on discussions with individual members.”
RBI has good reasons to further enrich its gold reserves. In just three weeks it has been able to benefit by as much as $800 million on the investment of $6.7 billion it made in buying 200 tonnes from IMF.
Since 1999 RBI has been periodically valuing its gold reserves at “prices close to the market”. It has not done so since it purchased the gold from IMF.
RBI bought the 200 tonnes at $1,045 an ounce. The transaction, from IMF to RBI, involved daily sales that were staggered over a two-week period, October 19-30, with each daily sale conducted at a price set on the basis of that day’s market price.
On Tuesday, gold prices stood at $1,168, an increase of 12 per cent over the price RBI paid. The market value of the gold, as of Tuesday, thus stood at $7.5 billion – indicating a cool gain of $800 million for RBI.
RBI holds its forex reserves in a basket of currencies expressed in dollar terms. It is able to earn only a nominal return on the dollar reserves.
In an article in FC on November 4, Guild Investment Management CEO Monty Guild listed the merits of buying of gold. “It helps China and India more because their responsibility for financing IMF grows as they become powerful financially. It is a method to get IMF to self-finance in the short run and save China and India money,” he wrote. Guild said that since most of the gold bought would be out of reach for the retail market, “gold prices will not get hammered”.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said there wasn’t a substitute for the dollar yet. “My own feeling is that we have not entered an era of irreversible shift in the economic strength of the US,” he said ahead of his visit to Washington.
On November 3, the day RBI bought IMF gold, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told the economic editors’ conference that the government wasn’t preferential in its treatment to either the dollar or gold. The buying of gold had a sentimental significance, as the government had to pledge gold with the Bank of England in 1991 to borrow money to maintain imports.
The IMF executive board had on September 18 approved the sale of 403.3 tonnes of gold -- one-eighth of the fund’s total gold holdings -- half of which was eventually sold to India. Bank of Mauritius bought 2 tonnes, leaving 201.3 tonnes still with IMF. The limited sales are part of IMF’s efforts to put its finances on a firm footing and raise money to lend to low-income countries.
This is what I wrote on November 19:
Dow Jones reports that January and February T- bills hit a yield of -0.03% earlier.Were government leaders and some traders tipped off that Dubai would make an announcement on the evening before Thanksgiving when U.S. markets were closed? Did they trade on this information?
Got that? Negative .03%.
This is a very spooky sign. It means major players don't want to go further out on the yield curve to earn money. They are only willing to keep their funds very liquid and pay for the privilege as opposed to earning money. This means one thing and one thing only, they are real scared about something. On a best case scenario, they are thinking longer rates are headed higher, so why invest now. On a worst case scenario, they are thinking all hell is going to break lose and they want their funds liquid to meet withdrawal requests.
The release of such news late Wednesday on the day before Thanksgiving, which means US traders can't, for the most part, react, and where most traders are away until Monday, suggests a sophisticated PR timed release, not likely planned out of Dubai, more likely coming out of the US.
Markets don't lie. It sure looks like that mysterious downtrend in interest rates might have been anticipating the Dubai News Dump.
Intelligence revealing that Saddam Hussein's WMD had been dismantled was received by the Government just days before Tony Blair sent troops into the country, senior officials have admitted.
Ministers were also given repeated warnings that intelligence gathered on Iraq's weapons programmes was unreliable. However, Mr Blair told the Commons that Saddam Hussein did have chemical and biological weapons as he prepared the way for the invasion in March 2003.
Sir William Ehrman, who was a senior official within the Foreign Office, told the inquiry into the Iraq war yesterday that "in the final days before military action", the department received information that Iraq's chemical and biological weapons may have remained broken up.
"On 10 March we got a report saying that the chemical weapons might have remained disassembled, that Saddam hadn't ordered their re-assembly, and he might lack warheads capable of effective dispersal of agents," said Sir William. Figures within the Foreign Office also doubted whether Iraq had a large number of long-range missiles, Sir John Chilcot's inquiry heard. A series of memos from officials within Whitehall described the intelligence coming out of Iraq as "sporadic and patchy". It was queried as having "limited" value as late as September 2002.
The inquiry was told how officials within the Foreign Office had become convinced that the regime in Baghdad was developing chemical and biological weapons. When it received intelligence contradicting the claim in March 2003, this was discounted. "There was contradictory intelligence, so I don't think it invalidated the point about what weapons [Saddam] had," Sir William said. "It was more about their use. Even if they were disassembled the [chemical or biological] agents still existed."
It also emerged that a secret paper drawn up in the summer of 2002, which pointed to Iraq as a potential threat, was based almost entirely on uncorroborated and outdated assumptions. Tim Dowse, the former head of counter-proliferation at the Foreign Office, said the document was based on information obtained before weapons inspectors were thrown out of the country in 1998. "We had got ourselves in a particular mindset," Mr Dowse said.
Nevertheless, there were repeated warnings to ministers about the reliability of the intelligence on Iraq. In April 2000, intelligence was said to be "limited to chemical weapons". By May 2001, knowledge of major weapons programmes was described as "patchy"; by March 2002 it was "sporadic and patchy". Advisers admitted in August they knew "very little" about Iraq's chemical and biological weapons, while intelligence information "remained limited" by September.
It was from that point that more intelligence seemed to emerge, Sir William said. Sir Lawrence Freedman, a member of the inquiry panel, asked whether it had occurred to him that this upsurge "might not have been wholly coincidental". Sir William said: "No."
Mr Dowse said that the Government's now notorious claim that Saddam Hussein had WMD he could use within 45 minutes, made in a dossier published ahead of the 2003 invasion, had never meant to refer to weapons that could reach other countries. He said the claim had not come as a surprise to many experts, who all assumed it referred to short-range weapons.
"Speaking personally, when I saw the 45-minutes report, I did not give it particular significance because it didn't seem out of line with what we generally assessed to be Iraq's intentions and capabilities with regard to chemical weapons," he said. "It certainly took on a rather iconic status that I don't think that those of us who saw the initial report really gave it." He added: "I don't think we ever said that it was for use in a ballistic missile."
Mr Dowse also admitted that another passage in the dossier, which detailed how aluminium tubes found in Iraq could be used in the production of nuclear weapons, was included at the last minute after the tubes were mentioned by the US Vice-President, Dick Cheney, during a television interview.
Iraq not 'top of list' of threats
Iraq had not been "top of the list" of concerns within the Foreign Office before the 2003 invasion. "In terms of my concerns on coming in to the job in 2001, I would say we put Libya and Iran ahead of Iraq," Mr Dowse said. Sir William added that at no time did the Government receive any evidence that Saddam Hussein was handing WMD to terrorist groups. "Obviously in the future we couldn't know what might happen," he said.
He even revealed that Iraq had "stepped further back" from its connections with terrorist groups after the 9/11 terror attacks on the US. Sir William said that the Foreign Office never received any evidence that there was a connection between Iraq and al-Qa'ida.
Lack of WMD a 'PR disaster'
The inquiry also learnt that Tony Blair's confident declaration in December 2003 that weapons inspectors had already found "massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories" prompted officials to warn against declaring victory prematurely. Mr Dowse said that if no weapons were found after such statements, it would create a "disaster in PR terms" for the Government.
When asked about Mr Blair's comments, Mr Dowse said: "I did not advise him to use those words." He added that it prompted him to warn the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, not to make the same predictions. "Some key elements of reporting [from Iraq] were simply wrong," Mr Dowse said.
He admitted that no significant weapons had been discovered since the invasion. Asked about the failure of inspectors to find WMD stocks in many of the sites identified by intelligence sources, Sir William said: "Four out of 10 as a strike rate is pretty good." In reply, Sir Lawrence stated: "Not when you are going to war."
Blair's words... and what his officials told the inquiry
* Blair, September 2002 dossier:
"What I believe the assessed intelligence has established beyond doubt is that Saddam has continued to produce chemical and biological weapons, that he continues in his efforts to develop nuclear weapons, and that he has been able to extend the range of his ballistic missile programme.
Sir William Ehrman stated intelligence was "limited" in April 2000, "patchy" in May 2001, "sporadic and patchy" in March 2002, and that officials knew "very little" in August. Intelligence remained "limited" in September.
* Blair, September 2002 dossier:
"His military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them. I am quite clear that Saddam will go to extreme lengths, indeed has already done so, to hide these weapons and avoid giving them up.
Tim Dowse, who was head of counter-proliferation at the Foreign Office: "Speaking personally, when I saw the 45 minutes report, I did not give it particular significance because it didn't seem out of line with what we generally assessed to be Iraq's intentions and capabilities with regard to chemical weapons... I don't think we ever said that it was for use in a ballistic missile."
* Blair, March 2003, House of Commons:
"Iraq continues to deny it has any WMD, though no serious intelligence service anywhere in the world believes them.
Sir William Ehrman: "We did, I think on March 10, get a report that chemical weapons might have remained disassembled and Saddam hadn't yet ordered their assembly. There was also a suggestion that Iraq might lack warheads capable of effective dispersal of agents."
* Blair, December 2003, interview:
"The Iraq Survey Group has already found massive evidence of a huge system of clandestine laboratories, workings by scientists, plans to develop long range ballistic missiles.
Tim Dowse: "I did not advise him to use those words." He added that nothing of "significance" had been found in Iraq since the invasion.
But most of us do not know that a couple of weeks before the Obama visit to China, two of Obama’s top Jews in the National Security Council, Dennis Ross and Jeffrey Bader, also made a trip to Beijing. Actually it was a “special mission” to attempt to pressure China to lean on Iran to give up its alleged nuclear weapons program. President Obama followed the temple twosome to try and finish what they started.
We read in the below Washington Post article, a Jewish owned, multibillion dollar media company within the Meyer Graham family, that China gave a thumbs up. We learn the U.S. party line was “If Beijing did not help the United States on this issue, the consequences could be severe” our Jewish State Department officials told the Chinese. We read that the “implication was clear: Israel could bomb Iran, leading to a crisis in the Persian Gulf region.” Any turbulence in the production of crude oil for the most populous country in the world is a bad thing.
So when the U.S. National Security team sends a couple of Jews to tell you “Israel could bomb Iran, leading to a crisis in the Persian Gulf region”, you tend to listen. If you are China, or virtually any country in the world that depends heavily on petroleum products to sustain its economy, you really listen. Especially when you learn that this crisis will inevitably lead to “problems over the very oil China needs to fuel its economic juggernaut”. Obviously, U.S. State Department Jews tend to have a lot of credibility when it comes to having intimate knowledge about what Israel may or may not bomb.
Seriously though, that is pretty tough rhetoric if you have any understanding at all about the global dependency on oil, particularly as it relates to that region of the world. Most Americans really do not understand the gravity of a true Middle East energy crisis. Most Americans have forgotten about the severe consequences of the repeated oil crisis episodes of the 1970’s. The first one was a direct consequence of U.S. military support to Israel. Yet another was the direct consequence of the Iranian Revolution. Some of us can remember a related and highly visible Iran hostage crisis in the late 1970s.
Regardless of our collective memory of these devastating oil crisis periods in American history, we all should be able to recognize the relevant variables at play now. The similarities are amazing. We have U.S. military support to Israel, anti-American hostility around the world but most notably in Iran and we have the third largest oil exporter in the world (Saudi Arabia and Russia are the first and second, but Iran is a solid third in terms crude oil exports). Of course we also have a pro-Israel administration in Washington doing the bidding of Israel, again.
Earlier this week the White house got its answers, “China informed the United States that it would support a toughly worded, U.S.-backed statement criticizing the Islamic republic.” Not far behind China, Russia made it clear that it too would expect cooperation from Iran on this issue. A Russian spokesperson stated “we are counting on a quick positive response from Tehran.”
However, as the Associated Press, Reuters, and the entire mainstream, controlled mass media, ratchet up the rhetoric about this scenario, remember what is actually going on. China is saying it is willing to endorse a “statement criticizing” Iran. Russia is clearly saying it is not talking about anything more and that any talk of “special sanctions is not relevant,”. Two of the five veto-wielding, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China and Russia) are willing to send a curt message to Iran but that is about as far as they are committing to right now; a ‘toughly worded’ statement.
I have seen reports about the probability of Israel launching a preemptive strike to neutralize Iran’s nuclear ambitions. I have seen reports of a largely incapacitated Israeli nuclear program, desperately needing to strike Iran just to keep a strategic edge in the Middle East. Even the Jews from the White House are carrying that message and leveraging off the obvious potential devastation to global oil supply, in the midst of a global economic crisis, if the world does not agree to grant Israel’s commands.
Read the Kosher party line from The Washington Post article. Pay attention to what the mouthpieces at CNN and Fox News have to say about all of this in the near future. And offset all of that with what other news sources around the world have to say and the facts we have outlined above.
Personally, I do not think the U.S. will want to standby while Israel unleashes a swift blow to Iran. I do not think the U.S. wants to upset Russia and China. But I know Israel could give two stinks what anybody thinks. They could care less about Israel’s reputation around the world. They certainly do not care what another global oil crises could do to the world. And the U.S. dare not do anything short of exactly what Israel wants!
Israel will figure out a way to cash-out on this one, they always do. Either eliminate Iran as a nuclear prospect, allow the U.S. and other western democracies to do it for them, or get a bonus check just to hold tight while the Jews in the Obama security team figure it all out, at OUR expense!
The article talked about how the emails revealed that scientists were using statistical "tricks" to make charts show a recent sharp warming trend. I went to find that article today on their website and it is gone, it seems to have been pulled. I can't find it on the New York Times website either, a lot of other sites had linked to this article as well, but all you get is the 404 error message.
On Nov. 21 Andrew Revkin wrote another article called "Hacked E-Mail Is New Fodder for Climate Dispute" this article is essentially the same as the article written the day before only the headline is different. hhhhhmmmmm
Today's article on startribune.com on the subject which is now being called "Climategate" is Hackers leak climate change e-mails from key research unit, stoke debate on global warming. This article seems more directed at killing the messenger and how this may have been done to undermine the Copenhagen meeting.
This is probably the spin the mainstream press will put on this whole thing, which is a bit like saying Woodward and Burnstein were just trying to undermine Nixon.
"I'm in the process of trying to persuade Siemens Corp. (a company with half a million employees in 190 countries!) to donate me a little cash to do some CO2 measur[e]ments here in the UK -- looking promising," wrote Andrew Manning, a climate-science research fellow at the University of East Anglia, "so the last thing I need is news articles calling into question (again) observed temperature increases."
Manning's e-mail, written in October to a colleague at East Anglia University's Climate Research Unit, was one of the thousands of private communiques exposed to public view by a whistleblower or a hacker. The note and others like it reveal the intriguing relationship between industry giants like Siemens and the scientists driving climate change fears. More importantly, though, Manning's e-mail shows the incentives of climate scientists: Convince people there is a climate disaster coming, get more money.
Manning and the warming crowd benefit from a beautiful feedback loop: The more governments, businesses, and media outlets you can convince that man-made global warming is a serious threat, the more these institutions will invest in climate change studies, solutions, and policies. And the more they invest in combating global warming -- whether it's a newspaper hiring a climate reporter, a company buying emissions credits and alternative energy sources, or a government building a climate lab -- the less willing they are to tolerate dissent on the issue.
So the warming crowd, these e-mails show us, suffers from the same conflicts of interest and profit motives that are frequently attributed to skeptics. When Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" came out, Gore charged that global warming deniers were trying to protect profits. Gore quoted fabled muckraker Upton Sinclair, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it."
Climate scientists derive both their sense of purpose and their paychecks from a perceived climate crisis. We shouldn't be surprised, then, to see them putting their pet cause ahead of scientific standards. For instance, climate scientist Giorgio Filippo in a 2000 e-mail wrote about the drafting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's assessment of climate research: "Essentially, I feel that at this point there are very little rules and almost anything goes. I think this will set a dangerous precedent, which might mine the IPCC credibility, and I am a bit uncomfortable that now nearly everybody seems to think that it is just ok to do this."
These are the scientists who drive climate policy.
Some critics writing about the leaked e-mails say they expose a "fraud," a "hoax," and a conspiracy. The warming crowd claim that everything is being taken out of context.
But Manning's e-mail cannot be ignored, because it is self-evidently true. If the catastrophic-man-made-climate-change hypothesis melted down, these scientists would lose their funding.
Atlantic blogger Megan McArdle probably put it best: "That doesn't mean their paradigm is wrong; rather, it means we need to be less romantic about the practice of science. No scientific consensus is ever as powerful as its proponents claim, because no scientists are ever as perfect as we'd like to imagine."
And scientists aren't the only ones with skin in the game. Take manufacturing and transportation giant Siemens, for instance, whom Manning was wooing. In 2006, the company joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which has been a key lobbyist for the sort of greenhouse gas cap-and-trade scheme at the heart of the climate bill currently before Congress. Siemens and other members of USCAP have invested billions in buying up greenhouse gas credits, alternative energy sources like wind and solar power, and carbon capture and sequestration (the attempt to trap CO2 underground). E-mails show CRU scientists pushing corporate donors to fund their climate science as a way of advancing carbon capture.
Governments have poured hundreds of billions of dollars into climate research. News organizations have staked their credibility on the claim that climate science is "settled." With all this on the line for scientists, media, business, and government, are we really going to let some contrary data get in the way?
The leaked e-mails don't necessarily show a conspiracy, but they do show that the industry built upon belief in man-made global warming has become too big to fail.
This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.
But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.
And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.
So what on Earth is going on?
Climate change sceptics, who passionately and consistently argue that man's influence on our climate is overstated, say they saw it coming.
They argue that there are natural cycles, over which we have no control, that dictate how warm the planet is. But what is the evidence for this?
During the last few decades of the 20th Century, our planet did warm quickly.
Recent research has ruled out solar influences on temperature increases
Sceptics argue that the warming we observed was down to the energy from the Sun increasing. After all 98% of the Earth's warmth comes from the Sun.
But research conducted two years ago, and published by the Royal Society, seemed to rule out solar influences.
The scientists' main approach was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature.
And the results were clear. "Warming in the last 20 to 40 years can't have been caused by solar activity," said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
But one solar scientist Piers Corbyn from Weatheraction, a company specialising in long range weather forecasting, disagrees.
He claims that solar charged particles impact us far more than is currently accepted, so much so he says that they are almost entirely responsible for what happens to global temperatures.
He is so excited by what he has discovered that he plans to tell the international scientific community at a conference in London at the end of the month.
If proved correct, this could revolutionise the whole subject.
What is really interesting at the moment is what is happening to our oceans. They are the Earth's great heat stores.
In the last few years [the Pacific Ocean] has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down
According to research conducted by Professor Don Easterbrook from Western Washington University last November, the oceans and global temperatures are correlated.
The oceans, he says, have a cycle in which they warm and cool cyclically. The most important one is the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).
For much of the 1980s and 1990s, it was in a positive cycle, that means warmer than average. And observations have revealed that global temperatures were warm too.
But in the last few years it has been losing its warmth and has recently started to cool down.
These cycles in the past have lasted for nearly 30 years.
So could global temperatures follow? The global cooling from 1945 to 1977 coincided with one of these cold Pacific cycles.
Professor Easterbrook says: "The PDO cool mode has replaced the warm mode in the Pacific Ocean, virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling."
So what does it all mean? Climate change sceptics argue that this is evidence that they have been right all along.
They say there are so many other natural causes for warming and cooling, that even if man is warming the planet, it is a small part compared with nature.
But those scientists who are equally passionate about man's influence on global warming argue that their science is solid.
The UK Met Office's Hadley Centre, responsible for future climate predictions, says it incorporates solar variation and ocean cycles into its climate models, and that they are nothing new.
In fact, the centre says they are just two of the whole host of known factors that influence global temperatures - all of which are accounted for by its models.
In addition, say Met Office scientists, temperatures have never increased in a straight line, and there will always be periods of slower warming, or even temporary cooling.
What is crucial, they say, is the long-term trend in global temperatures. And that, according to the Met office data, is clearly up.
To confuse the issue even further, last month Mojib Latif, a member of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that we may indeed be in a period of cooling worldwide temperatures that could last another 10-20 years.
Professor Latif is based at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany and is one of the world's top climate modellers.
But he makes it clear that he has not become a sceptic; he believes that this cooling will be temporary, before the overwhelming force of man-made global warming reasserts itself.
So what can we expect in the next few years?
Both sides have very different forecasts. The Met Office says that warming is set to resume quickly and strongly.
It predicts that from 2010 to 2015 at least half the years will be hotter than the current hottest year on record (1998).
Sceptics disagree. They insist it is unlikely that temperatures will reach the dizzy heights of 1998 until 2030 at the earliest. It is possible, they say, that because of ocean and solar cycles a period of global cooling is more likely.
One thing is for sure. It seems the debate about what is causing global warming is far from over. Indeed some would say it is hotting up.
All is not well in CO2 regulation land. You may have heard about a leaked memo from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that questions the EPA findings on CO2 being a “threat to human health”. BTW there is still time to lodge your comments (as is your right as a US citizen) on this finding, details here.
The leaked internal memo, was marked “Attorney Client Privilege”.
It has some strong language about the negative impact EPA regulation of CO2 would have on the U.S. economy.
“Making the decision to regulate CO2…is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities,”
But there is more than that. The Hill (a political blog) say the memo indicates that the burden of proof of CO2 as harmful isn’t there: (emphasis mine)
An EPA finding last month that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health rests on dubious assumptions and could have negative economic impacts, a memo from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) warned.
The memo has no listed author but is marked “Deliberative–Attorney Client Privilege.” A spokesman for OMB told Dow Jones Newswires that the brief is a “conglomeration of counsel we’ve received from various agencies” about the EPA finding, the conclusions of which would trigger regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
The author(s) of the memo suggest the EPA did not thoroughly examine the relationship between greenhouse gases and human health.
“In the absence of a strong statement of the standards being applied in this decision, there is concern that EPA is making a finding based on…’harm’ from substances that have no demonstrated direct health effects,” the memo says, adding that the “scientific data that purports to conclusively establish” that link was from outside EPA.
But here is the real kicker.
There’s language in the memo that says there may be beneficial effects to increased CO2 rather than negative effects, and that man, as always, can quickly adapt:
“To the extent that climate change alters out environment, it will create incentives for innovation and adaption that mitigate the damages,” the memo reads. “The [EPA finding] should note this possibility[.] … It might be reasonable to conclude that Alaska will benefit from warmer winters for both health and economic reasons,” the authors note.
According to The Hill:
At a Senate hearing [yesterday], Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) grilled EPA administrator Lisa Jackson about the memo.
“This is a smoking gun,” Barrasso said, accusing the EPA of making the finding for political reasons.
Jackson responded that the finding was based on science and was in no way politicized.
As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.
Telltale signs are everywhere —from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest.Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.
Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds —the so-called circumpolar vortex—that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world. Indeed it is the widening of this cap of cold air that is the immediate cause of Africa's drought. By blocking moisture-bearing equatorial winds and preventing them from bringing rainfall to the parched sub-Sahara region, as well as other drought-ridden areas stretching all the way from Central America to the Middle East and India, the polar winds have in effect caused the Sahara and other deserts to reach farther to the south. Paradoxically, the same vortex has created quite different weather quirks in the U.S. and other temperate zones. As the winds swirl around the globe, their southerly portions undulate like the bottom of a skirt. Cold air is pulled down across the Western U.S. and warm air is swept up to the Northeast. The collision of air masses of widely differing temperatures and humidity can create violent storms—the Midwest's recent rash of disastrous tornadoes, for example.
While the $80 billion at stake is a significant amount of money it is more the confidence factor which is starting to weigh down on worldwide stock markets which were initially down again today for the second day running. Investors, credit rating agencies and other financial related groups are now looking more closely at the finances and the trading of an array of companies around the world. If this can happen to one of the richest families in the world, are there any other countries around the world which are at risk?
Even though Dubai is slightly different from most developed countries, it is the significant amount of money which has been ploughed into the economy by the ruling family and overseas investors which is causing concern. Is this the start of a domino effect which could bring in to play an array of different governments and countries around the world?
NEW YORK — This was the sideswipe investors had feared.
The stock market is in the middle of one of the great rallies of a generation, but for weeks there has been a nagging fear that bad news was never far off. The news came from Dubai, a wealthy Middle Eastern city-state that many Americans probably couldn't find on a map. Concerns that a government-backed investment company risked defaulting on $60 billion in debt ripped through world markets and served as a reminder of how fragile the financial system remains a year after it nearly collapsed.
The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 155 points Friday before trading ended three hours early due to the Thanksgiving holiday. The Dow fell as much as 233 points. The broad retreat from riskier assets pushed Treasury prices higher. The dollar gained against most other major currencies and commodities tumbled.
Now the question that will dog investors over the weekend is whether the markets will shrug off a financial crisis in the Middle East or seek protection in more conservative investments. That could end a rally that has seen the Dow surge 57.5 percent since March 9.
Stocks ended well off their lows but analysts cautioned that the shortened day and scarcity of traders meant the real test for the markets will come next week as traders return from long weekends.
The day's gyrations made clear that investors who might have been buying up stock in the past eight months remain on edge about faults in the financial system and the economy.
Worries about bad debt are fresh in investors' minds after the collapse of the U.S. brokerage Lehman Brothers in September last year kicked the U.S. economy deeper into recession overnight as banks halted lending on fears about the extent of bad loans.
The latest concern is that problems in Dubai, which has drawn wealthy tourists and investors from around the globe in the past decade with its Las Vegas-in-the-Middle East appeal, could imperil a nascent economic rebound around the world. This could happen if banks suffer big losses or confidence falters.
"The biggest risk is a domino effect," said Kevin Shacknofsky, portfolio manager of the Alpine Dynamic Dividend Fund in Purchase, N.Y.
The latest trouble on Wall Street comes as the U.S. kicks off the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. Investors will be tracking news from retailers for insights into how much consumers will spend in the coming month. Consumer spending is the biggest driver of the U.S. economy.
The Dow fell 154.48, or 1.5 percent, to 10,309.92. It was the Dow's biggest drop since Oct. 30.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 19.14, or 1.7 percent, to 1,091.49, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 37.61, or 1.7 percent, to 2,138.44.
For the week, the Dow slipped 0.1 percent, breaking a three-week winning streak. The S&P 500 index rose less than 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq fell 0.4 percent. Stocks are still up sharply for the month and the year.
Analysts were divided over whether Dubai's problems meant more trouble was to come.
Jeffrey Frankel, president of Stuart Frankel & Co. in New York, said U.S. investors were given a chance to digest the news with markets closed on Thanksgiving. Reports of Dubai's problems surfaced during trading on Wednesday and drew little initial reaction.
"It was like we were in a coma for a day and awoke and the worst had passed," he said.
In the past, financial time-bombs have been hard to detect. The subprime mortgage crises that helped tip the U.S. into recession began with small pops that grew louder as the extent of the problems with souring debt became clear.
Earlier this week, Dubai World, the city's main investment arm, said it had asked creditors for a six-month freeze in repaying the debt.
Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, has been better known for lavish hotels, palm-shaped islands and indoor skiing, than for financial problems brought by the recession. Whether Dubai's troubles prove to be a hiccup or something worse, investors didn't take chances.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.21 percent from 3.28 percent late Wednesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill, which is considered one of the safest investments, fell to 0.01 percent from 0.03 percent.
The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of foreign currencies, rose 0.2 percent.
Commodities, which are priced in dollars, fell as the dollar gained. The move reflected an unwinding of trades that relied on a weak dollar to finance purchases of higher-yielding assets. Spooked traders reversing the so-called "carry trade" were demanding safe-haven assets.
Investors have been pushing into riskier assets in recent months as they seek bigger gains. U.S. interest rates are at record lows, making riskier investments like stocks an enticing alternative to the paltry returns of safer investments.
Crude oil fell $1.91 to settle at $76.05 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after being down by more than $5. Gold fell after a 10-day climb.
European markets, which fell more than 3 percent Thursday, closed higher after an early slide. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1 percent, Germany's DAX index rose 1.3 percent and France's CAC-40 advanced 1.2 percent.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei stock average slid 3.2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index tumbled 4.8 percent. South Korea's benchmark dropped 4.7 percent.
Shacknofsky said the reaction and calming of currency markets and the rebound in Europe was a signal investors are taking Dubai's problems in stride.
"The currency markets and the European markets are telling us that this not as bad as initially thought," he said.
The worries about Dubai erupted amid a period of relative calm in U.S. markets. The Chicago Board Options Exchange's Volatility Index, known as the market's fear index, rose more than 4 percent. On Wednesday it fell to its lowest level since August 2008 after jumping to a record in October last year around the height of the financial crisis. A drop in the VIX signals investors aren't as worried about big swings in the market.
The latest test of the market still leaves major stock indicators up more than 4 percent for the month so analysts said some selling was due. The S&P 500 index is up 61.3 percent from a 12-year low in March.
Trading volume in November has been light as many professional investors have pulled back from markets in hopes of locking in big gains for 2009.
Dave Rovelli, managing director of trading at brokerage Canaccord Adams in New York, said investors have been too quick to assume that the financial markets are on the mend.
"We're way ahead of ourselves in this market. We're in the eye of the storm now and we've been in it since March," he said. "Now we're in the back end of the storm."
Consolidated volume on the New York Stock Exchange came to 2.3 billion shares.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 14.98, or 2.5 percent, to 577.21.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed the week down 8.24, or 0.1 percent, at 10,309.92. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.11, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,091.49. The Nasdaq composite index fell 7.60, or 0.4 percent, to 2,138.44.
The Russell 2000 index, which tracks the performance of small company stocks, fell 7.47, or 1.3 percent, for the week to 577.21.
The Dow Jones U.S. Total Stock Market Index — which measures nearly all U.S.-based companies — ended at 11,048.12, down 16.66, or 0.2 percent.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
1. Will an implied Dubai Federal Guarantee of the debt of state owned corporations be honored in Dubai and elsewhere?
2. How many more financial problems are there out there hidden in plain view in the West as well as the Middle East?
3. Will the Middle East see to the bailouts of its own problems or is there a stampede of camel trains into the desert, devoid of cell phones and Mercedes?
4. Will this event cause other developing market country debt to default in a domino effect?
In terms of gold this event is further proof that paper and promises are NOT the stuff money is made of anymore.
Those that will come out of the woodwork to call a top in the gold price have little experience in what a top looks like in gold. Let me assure you the action of today contained zero evidence of a top.
The USA has become a giant FDIC and will have to finance in strange ways (QE) to meet its obligation prior to June of 2011.
Other than transitory technical factors there is nothing whatsoever positive in a collapse anywhere for the US dollar. When the snow falls here on the east coast of the USA the dollar will come under more pressure and fall much further.
The major immediate financial problem, hidden in plain view, is that 2009 financial entity earnings are CASHLESS. They are more than 75% due to the permission of FASB (Financial Audit Standard Board) who sold their souls to the financial sector to again mark up toxic paper to values self determine by the financial institution. The profits of their trading is toxic paper mark up accounting.
The inviting conclusion is the over the top greed in plain view by financial institutions is their own knowledge of the cashless nature of their earning and the fact that the junk is marked up now as much as one can do without either starting a riot or doing time. Therefore the earning prosperity is behind them, nothing is fixed and that makes this year the last opportunity for a long time to cash in for themselves.
Dubai has reminded us that there has been NO cure to the systemic financial problems of the West and those like Dubai that not only tried to mimic the West, but overdo them in a garish manner.
You can be sure that the US Fed and the ECB are chasing the sheiks into the desert today like Lawrence of Arabia in an attempt to get them to pay up and support their own problem. That means more international QE, as the Fed is not in the mood to tank a $12 trillion dollar bailout operation over an $80 to $110 billion dollar failure of a stupid and garish real estate project in Dubai. This concept would contain the domino effect, putting it off until later in 2011.
The dollar will not reverse out of the bear market it is in, nor will gold top here and now. In fact the bear market in the US dollar and the bull market in gold is not only alive and well but in terms of price, young.
Enjoy your weekend and stop looking at the markets!
Markets in Asia, Europe and the United States stumbled as fears of bad debts bred fresh concern for the world economy after Dubai's shock request to suspend major loan repayments.
Shaken investors were holding their breath Friday to see if the unexpected announcement from the once-booming Gulf Emirate would trigger fresh danger for the world economy, akin to the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
The US investment bank's demise in September 2008 sent shock waves around the world and heralded the start of the most painful phase of the global financial crisis.
But analysts played down fears that the request from the Dubai government investment vehicle Dubai World to suspend debt payments for six months signalled an end to the global economy's fragile recovery.
Adarsh Sinha, from Barclays Capital, said the dramatic events of the past year meant hardened policymakers were now better prepared.
"The question is whether this will be a replay of (the fourth quarter in 2008) or be a shorter, more benign correction," said Sinha.
"The key difference between now and then is that the policy authorities are much more on guard to prevent financial market events from generating systemic risk."
Dubai's problems were related to the collapse of property markets, rather than the "start of a new financial crisis," said analysts from Capital Economics in a note.
"Nonetheless, they are a timely reminder that the legacy of past excesses in heavily-indebted economies will linger for many years to come," they said.
Others played down the prospect of shockwaves spreading out from Dubai.
John Sfakianakis, of Calyon, said international investors had "genuine faith" in the region.
"Credit quality deterioration simply is not an issue in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar and we expect that in the short term, investors will calm down," he said.
There was more concern, however, about the exposure of large international banks, particularly those in Britain, to Dubai's financial problems.
The direct exposure of European banks to Dubai, according to Credit Suisse, is limited to just 13 billion dollars (8.7 billion euros).
But Luis Costa of Commerzbank said the shock could lead banks to rethink their investments, predicting "a potentially systemic hit on global capital flows" to emerging markets.
Kit Juckes, chief economist from ECU, however, saw little danger in the fall in markets following the news from Dubai.
"I see Dubai more as a catalyst for market positions to be taken off" on overheated stock exchanges, rather than "as a defining moment in this year's trends," he said.
"Dubai was a one-off bubble. Nowhere else has there been so much extravagant construction," Juckes added.
- AFP /ls