Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nature Note:Acorn Crop

The local pin oak trees will yield a good crop of acorns this year.Tiny acorns have already appeared on their branches.As autumn nears,the acorns will bulk up.Even so,they are among the smaller acorns.Blue jays,as well as chipmunks and other squirrels,will harvest them in short order starting in late August.Within a few weeks,they will all be eaten or stored for the winter.

Manufacturer Taps Global Demand

Robbins and Myers(RBN),a maker of pumps,mixing systems and packaging solutions,is seeing no let-up in demand for its products.The company's products are used in wastewater treatment,and by agricultural chemical,ethanol and biodiesel concerns.With 800 million dollars U.S. in revenue,80% of its sales are in the energy,pharmaceutical and chemical fields.Its business is 60% international,and the credit crunch has not affected its customers very much.Robbins and Myers has a presence in India,as well as China,Australia and Kazakhstan.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nature Note:Catbird Song

A gray catbird has been singing all morning.He hasn't let me see him,but his song is unmistakable.It's a series of squeaks that has a cheerful effect.The northern mockingbird is his cousin,but the catbird's song doesn't sound like the mockingbird's.It isn't a series of imitations of other birds or even inanimate objects.The catbird just inspires himself and everyone else who is listening.They can get through the summer heat with his help.

EU Raises Offer

The European Union has raised an offer to cut farm tariffs from an average of 54% to 60%.The offer would be part of a new global commerce pact.EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said the offer was intended to jump-start a critical week of talks,which aim to open up the global economy.Negotiators hope to reach agreement this week to liberalize global agriculture and manufacturing.The World Trade Organization has been seeking the agreement for seven years.If agreement is not reached,it could be a lengthy period before such an opportunity presents itself again.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nature Note:Forest Visitor

A tufted titmouse-no,I am not making that name up-visited the feeder yesterday.It is a forest species.In the winter,it forms mixed flocks with chickadees and nuthatches.The small gray bird with a crest and rather large eyes has been a rare guest to this point,yet with several of the trees maturing,maybe I'll be seeing more of them.They might feel safer now.

An Edgy Era

We are entering a world of higher inflationary pressures,Mohamed El-Erian said.The Pimco executive thinks we will witness a period of continued shrinkage of balance sheets.The economy will shift away from traditional drivers of growth.Expect a significant realignment of the financial sector over the secular horizon.There is no perfect response by the Federal Reserve;there are no easy policy solutions.Inflationary pressures are complicating the global outlook,Mr.El-Erian reflected.

El-Erian:A Quiet Voice

Mohamed El-Erian,an executive with Pimco,feels it is a time of great tumult and great opportunity.The credit crisis has morphed into an economic crisis.You can't just take the financial system and recapitalize it.There are major bargains out there,but you've got to be careful.You need support,because it is a bumpy time.Remain diversified;keep a cash cushion.It's better to be later in this market,Mr.El-Erian advised.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Nature Note:Honeybees

Two honeybees gathered nectar from the wild peppermint.There is a shortage of these bees,which are valuable to agriculture for their pollination services,as well as the honey they produce.A plague has been reducing their numbers greatly.I have seen small numbers of them every year,but that apparently isn't enough for growers.I don't think they will go extinct as they would have done so by now,so at least there is hope for their recovery.In time,they may develop resistance to the infection.

Financial Centres Appraised

The Global Financial Centres Index has been released.The index is based on a statistical model and the opinions of experts.Factors considered include excellence of access,skill level of staff,and proportionality of regulatory regime.The rankings were:1.London,2.New York,3.Hong Kong,4.Singapore and 5.Zurich.Dubai and Shanghai are centres to watch.Singapore is gaining on Hong Kong,and centres at the bottom,such as Moscow,are continuing to climb.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nature Note:Peppermint

The wild peppermint is in bloom.It has clusters of small white flowers on tall stems.To me,it smells like onions.It is indeed the source of peppermint oil,which flavors a lot of candy.Some might pull it out as a weed,but I let it grow as an attractive wildflower.

EU Takes Action

The European Union has frozen the assets of Iran's Bank Meli.It is Iran's oldest and largest private bank.The move is in response to Iran's refusal to halt its nuclear program,which the West sees as a threat to international security.Meanwhile,Israel is reportedly practicing a plan to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.Iran has said that,should this occur,it will exercise control over the Strait of Hormuz,through which much of the world's oil supply is shipped.Kuwait has been making its own plans in the event of conflict,to ensure that its oil would continue to reach its customers.All of this tension is a big factor in the surge of oil prices.Many believe oil would reach 200 dollars U.S. a barrel-or even more-if Israel bombed Iran.