Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Asian Highlights

Andrew Freris of BNP Paribas says that,in terms of balance sheet fundamentals,Asia has been essentially unaffected by the subprime mortgage problem.Asian central banks have been free to focus on inflation.Japan was a lender,so it is in better shape than the U.S.,which was a borrower.Singapore isn't much exposed to the declining U.S. export market.Medium term,Mr.Freris likes Asian financials.The Korean banks are the cheapest in Asia.Nonetheless,central banks in Australia,Japan and India have injected capital into their banking systems to counter instability in their financial markets,which have been troubled by the Western financial crisis.

Nature Note:Rabbit Breakfast

I found a rabbit nibbling my rhododendron today.Rabbits had nearly killed this bush after it first flowered.I didn't want to see that happen again.It has taken two years for it to recover,and it hasn't been able to bloom for two years.I didn't chase the rabbit;I just scolded it gently and it hopped away.That's what is good about being out early.You can catch destructive animals and deal with them before they do too much damage.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dubai Firm Wins Contract

Prime Projects International,a company based in Dubai,one of the United Arab Emirates,has been selected to design and construct a prison on a U.S. air base.PPI is to receive 50 million dollars U.S. for the project.The prison will be built on Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.It is to hold 1,000 prisoners.The U.S. military is also seeking an Islamic religion specialist for the prison.The specialist will minister to the prisoners and serve as a linguist/interpreter during emergencies.The prison won't be completed until 2009 at the earliest.

Nature Note:Goldenrod

Canada goldenrod has been blooming for about three weeks now.The tall,impressive wildflower may be regarded as a weed by some;as a sneeze-maker by others;but I welcome it as a striking native plant.In fact,it does not make you sneeze.Its pollen is heavy and doesn't travel far in the wind.Unless you stick your nose in it,it won't affect you.I regard this wildflower as a welcome volunteer.Its golden flower clusters are a prelude to the changing leaves.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Assessing China

China is currently experiencing an export downturn because of poor economic conditions in the U.S. and Europe.Jing Ulrich of JP Morgan Chase(JPM) notes that the infrastructure and banking sectors are still strong in China.More power plants,ports,railroads and water works are being built.The Chinese financial markets are extremely volatile.In 2007,they were the best;in 2008,they are the worst.One has to keep a long term horizon,Ms.Ulrich feels.British bank HSBC is doing just that,with expansion plans in China.It is opening branches in 3-4 new cities a year.It already has 74 branches in 17 cities.

Nature Note:Morning Thunder

Yesterday began with thunder and lightning.For the first time in many years,I had to stay indoors instead of tending the property.It was just too hazardous to go out in those conditions.A strong cold front was pushing down from Canada.Twenty-four hours later,it was still interacting with warmer air,causing low,dark clouds.Indeed,it may be unsettled for several days.This is a real clash of seasons,and we are bystanders leaning on our rakes.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Shirakawa Defends Japanese Economy

Japan's central banker,Masaaki Shirakawa,said he expects Japan's economy to stay stagnant for the time being,but it will not be in a deep 1990s type slump.Volatile markets and escalating prices have hurt,but the economy is likely to spring back once external factors stabilize.It is in better fundamental shape than it was in the past,when Japan faced excess labor and capacity.The Bank of Japan has left its key interest rate at 0.5,despite increasing concern about Japan's slowing economy,which is the world's second largest.Relatively weak consumption and industrial production,as well as slowing export growth and business investment,have troubled the Bank of Japan recently.

Nature Note:Asian Pear Thinned

I have finished thinning out my largest Asian pear.I spent four mornings on it.The process could go on,but there are other trees that require attention.One of the big trees limbs was nearly touching the house,and I was able to pull it off when my pole pruner got stuck.The garage roof over which this limb extended wasn't damaged at all,which is a miracle,since both the pruner and limb struck the roof when the limb came off.It was an exacting bit of work,but I can forget about it for at least another year.