Wednesday, November 26, 2008

China Passes Japan

China has passed Japan as the largest holder of U.S. debt.China's holdings in Treasury bonds rose 43.6 billion dollars to 585 billion in September,while Japan had 573.2 billion.Total Chinese holdings may be 800 billion,as it may be buying bonds from third parties as well,which isn't immediately registered.By purchasing U.S. bonds,China keeps the dollar strong versus its own currency,the yuan,which makes Chinese exports cheaper than U.S. exports.That means U.S. companies are less competitive in foreign markets than Chinese firms.If China were to sell its U.S. bonds,that would raise interest rates on many loans in the U.S.,since the U.S. would have to pay more interest on Treasury bonds to attract new buyers.

Nature Note:Typical November

The day before Thanksgiving is gray with a cold breeze.That's typical of November in the Mid-Atlantic region.Yesterday a snow squall blew in.For a few moments,it snowed furiously.In the end,nothing remained of it but a memory.That snow is like the wild turkeys that once were easily found over the region.Now they are pretty much hidden in the deep woods,and seldom seen except by hikers and hunters.Even they may not have encountered many without concerted effort.Reintroduced by state game agencies,their numbers are stable to growing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

World Bank Increases Aid

The World Bank will increase aid to developing nations.Aid may reach 35 billion dollars by the end of June,versus 13.5 billion last year.The bank is prepared to commit up to 100 billion over the next three years,as the financial crisis threatens to cut government revenue,reducing public spending on education and health care.The growth forecast for developing countries is a drop of 0.1 in 2009,versus a gain of 1.4 in 2008.Global trade may fall for the first time since 1982.A 10% drop in developing country growth means another 20 million people will live in poverty.In recent years,high food and fuel prices have driven about 100 million into the ranks of the poor.The World Bank,led by President Robert Zoellick,has received loan inquiries from countries in Asia and Latin America this year,and would not be surprised to loan to nations it hasn't heard from in some time,given the global downturn.

Nature Note:Last Leaf Color

The Asian pear leaves are shades of red and orange now.Some are even green,hanging on to summer while it is nearing winter.The trees put out little fruits that are mostly seed.Many birds eat them,including American robins and cedar waxwings.In spring and summer,perching birds will also nest in these trees.They are wildlife trees year-round,although they have flaws such as limbs which split off easily and a strong odor during flowering.When I have them nearby,I tend to forget about the problems,and appreciate their good points instead.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oriental Travel Route Opened

Free passage across the Taiwan Strait,which divides Taiwan from mainland China,is once again possible for both aircraft and ships.The trip is about 100 miles,or 160.93 kilometers.Negotiators reached the agreement by limiting talks to economic matters.Political disagreement continues to separate the neighbors.China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province,while Taiwan sees itself as an independent nation.The direct route will abolish lengthy detours to Hong Kong and Okinawa,Japan that were necessitated by the closure of the Taiwan Strait,reducing the cost of commerce in both time and money.

Nature Note:Fox Sparrow

A fox sparrow has been visiting the property lately,scratching for seed.This bird is a boreal breeder,a native of the Great North Woods,which has come south for the winter.It is most likely from Northern Quebec or New Brunswick.They also breed from Alaska to Southern California-presumably in the mountains.Fox sparrows are heavily streaked with reddish brown and gray.At up to 7.5 inches,or 19.05 centimeters,it is one of the largest of sparrows.The dark-eyed juncos,or snowbirds,have also checked in.They could be from any of a number of places above the Mason-Dixon Line.These birds herald the arrival of markedly colder weather this weekend.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Please Note

Because of Veterans Day on Tuesday,the publication schedule will be altered next week.I will try to publish later in the week.Veterans,thank you for your service.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Osborn Decries Debt

George Osborn,the Conservative party's Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer,its chief financial expert,has bitterly criticized British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's response to the financial crisis.Borrowing is out of control,,Mr.Osborn complained,mounting up massive national debt.Interest rates should be slashed.There's plenty of scope to stimulate demand with lower rates.We were already in pretty bad shape coming into this downturn,reducing our room for maneuver.We're in for a very difficult time and a recession.Government needs to be there to help.Monetary policy is the best tool,Mr.Osborn believes.The Bank of England and the European Central Bank will make interest rate decisions on Thursday.

Nature Note:Presidential View

Driving north,every view is good.Autumn turns every stretch of land into a place of interest.Bold colors appear where,weeks before,nothing would have arrested the eye.The trees erase all tedium with their red,orange and gold leaves.Overhead,President Bush is flying home to Washington from Camp David,the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains,in a formation of three U.S. Marine Corps helicopters.I wave at them;I couldn't just drive on,even though it's unlikely the President saw me wave.A little further north,a red-tailed hawk soars above the highway.