Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gas Cartel Takes Shape

Qatar,Russia and Iran are well on the way to forming a natural gas cartel.Meeting in Iran recently,the countries intend to consolidate the largest gas reserves in the world as well as their general strategic interests,and cooperate on three-party projects.Two more meetings,to be held in Qatar and Russia,will finalize the agreement.The three nations own 60% of the world's natural gas reserves.The European Union is concerned about the cartel,since higher gas prices could result.As oil reserves dwindle,the cartel's natural gas reserves will increase in importance.

Nature Note:Northern Wind

Canadian wind swept in overnight,making me shiver for the first time since April.It left limbs and branches strewn over the property,a gift of many little chores that have to be dealt with along with falling leaves in a few weeks' time.Actually,a lot of the leaves will blow off this windy place.I will pile the rest in designated areas to decompose.By next autumn,they will pretty much have disintegrated.Earthworms will digest a lot of them.If I left the leaves on top of the grass,the grass would die.I just put down more Canadian grass seed:creeping boreal red fescue and enchanted perennial rye grass,which must be quite at home in this blustery chill.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Indian Firm Buys Outsourcing

Tata Consulting Services,the leading outsourcing company in India,is buying Citigroup's India support operations for 505 million dollars.TCS also got a 2.5 billion dollar contract to provide outsourcing to Citi for nine and a half years.The sale is another step in Citi's divestiture program,which aims to reduce the financial firm's ancillary portfolio.Citi is also laying off 11 equity research analysts based in the U.S..About seven percent of the more than 3,000 companies currently covered by Citigroup will be temporarily discontinued.Citi expects to resume coverage of a certain number of the firms in coming quarters.It is believed that Citi's headcount will be reduced by 23,000 by the end of the year.

Nature Note:Rudbeckia

The woodland is edged with rudbeckia,or black-eyed susans.When they go to seed,these wildflowers will feed the white-throated sparrows who have arrived for the winter,as well as the resident tufted titmice.There is some fall color in the silver maples,red maples and pin oaks,but peak color won't be till next week.The cool,dry air and bright sun ,as well as the yellow rudbeckia,intensify the leaves above the path.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Business-Jet Orders May Decline

Canadian manufacturer Bombardier may be getting fewer orders for business-jets.The Montreal firm said industry-wide orders,except for very light jets,are expected to slow to around 1,000 in 2009,from 1400 this year.Bombardier makes Learjet,Global Express and Challenger corporate jets.It has an overall aircraft backlog of 26.1 billion dollars to shore up earnings during the financial crisis.The company will reshuffle its order book to permit customers who want jets sooner to pay in full.Others will have more time to arrange financing.Bombardier also manufactures rail cars.

Nature Note:Indian Summer

For the past 10 days,it has been warm with cool nights.This is Indian Summer,which is a warm spell after the first frost.It is probably the last warm spell until April.It is harder and harder for warmth to build up as the sun's angle in the sky lowers,and the days shorten.Red is brushing the pin oak leaves.The Northern Sun forsythia is turning maroon even while it has bloomed lightly in the warmth.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ping An Feels Crisis

Ping An Insurance,a major Chinese firm,will record a 2.3 billion dollar loss from the financial crisis.It is the result of Ping An's stake in the Belgian bank Fortis,which has been propped up by a cash infusion from Belgium,the Netherlands and Luxembourg.This is the biggest impact to date on a Chinese firm by the financial crisis.The writedown will affect Ping An's profits for the first three quarters of 2008,but the company said it was still financially sound.Fortis was one of the biggest foreign acquisitions by a Chinese financial firm,which are assiduously enlarging their foreign presence.Chinese companies say they have limited exposure to U.S. mortgage-backed securities.

Nature Note:First Frost

Yesterday we got the first frost.The first one is always a light one.It isn't a killer frost.It's just enough to whiten the roofs.The house plants were fine out on the deck,but I decided to bring them in for the winter.It was a good,sunny day for the project.Today I put some chairs away and pounded some nails back into the deck.Some of them always pop up over the summer.Now the deck is solid again,ready for winter winds.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Authorities Confront Crisis

Financial authorities in several countries have been taking steps to ease the financial crisis.On Monday,the Federal Resrve and European Central Bank,as well as eight other central banks,more than doubled reciprocal swap lines,which provide access to U.S. dollars,to 620 billion dollars from 290 billion dollars.The Reserve Bank of Australia pumped 1.95 billion dollars into the market.The events of Black September,a month of financial meltdowns, shook institutions' confidence in dealing with each other and,so far, credit remains tight in spite of their best efforts.Banks continue to hoard cash in the money markets.Many believe that the central banks will have to coordinate an interest rate cut to break the credit logjam.Jean-Claude Trichet,President of the ECB,and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd have called on the U.S. Congress to pass the rescue plan for the common good.The U.S. Senate is to vote on the measure tonight.

Nature Note:Autumn Mist

The past few mornings have brought dense fog to the area,making it a blessing when you are not driving.As well cobwebs are strung between bushes and trees,or between bushes and other bushes.The fog and the cobwebs create an eerie quality.Maybe a goblin will be behind the next tree along your path.For sure,the first frost will come in the next few weeks.The summer world is drifting away.