Wednesday, December 31, 2008

GE To Power Iraq

General Electric intends to sell Iraq about three billion dollars' worth of power turbines.GE Energy will provide 56 heavy-duty frame 9E multi-fuel gas turbines.They can supply 7k megawatts of power-or enough for about 5.4 million homes.That will more than double Iraq's current capacity of about 6k megawatts a day.Iraq has been suffering from extensive outages,with some sections of Baghdad getting only four hours of electricity a day.

Nature Note:Back To Cold

After a mild Christmas,the New Year is coming in like a snow leopard.Indeed,a snow squall blew in from the mountains,and there is snow in the forecast for January 2.Wind is the headline of the day as gales from the north firmly take control.Leaves are hurled about with great velocity.I got some raking done before the gales arrived,watching a dramatic sunrise develop.As the sun emerged,gray clouds streamed down,trying to obscure it.In the end,though,it dawned clearly,cheering those buffeted by the northern big cat.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Greeting

I will not be publishing next Wednesday,Christmas Eve.Have a blessed holiday season.A special greeting to our military men and women.You do the heavy lifting for democracy,and so you are gratefully remembered.

Bank of Canada Cuts

The Bank of Canada has lowered its key interest rate by 0.75 to 1.5%,the lowest rate since 1958.The cut was more than projected.The key rate is the target rate for overnight loans between commercial banks.For the first time in the financial crisis,the Bank of Canada declared that Canada is now entering a recession.It will continue to monitor carefully economic and financial developments in judging to what extent further monetary stimulus will be required.Mark J. Carney is Governor of the Bank of Canada.

Nature Note:First Winter Storm

The first winter storm arrived yesterday.We got an inch of snow,or2.54 cm,topped by freezing rain.The young white pine was bent over under even the small weight of the snow and thin glaze of ice from the freezing rain.It wasn't taking any chances.It reacts to the slightest weight to avoid breakage.How many of us are as vigilant about our health? No wonder the white pine can live to be an old growth tree.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Russian Growth Slows

Russia's Economy Ministry has cut the country's growth forecast for 2008.The economy is now expected to expand at 6.8-7%,instead of the previous estimate of 7.3%.The 7.3% estimate had itself been lowered from 7.8% in October.The Russian economy,rooted in energy production,has fallen out of a 10 year boom as ailing credit markets hindered banks,brokerages,builders,metal and chemical firms.Meanwhile,the country is mourning the death of His Holiness Alexei II,Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia,who,as primate of the Russian Orthodox Church,led about two-thirds of the Russian people in their spiritual lives.Patriarch Alexei,79,was known for largely restoring the Church to its pre-revolutionary position in Russian life,repairing many old churches and building new ones.He had suffered from heart trouble.

Nature Note:Low Traffic

Traffic at the bird feeder has been low recently.The other day,I found out why:a Cooper's hawk flew off as I approached.The Cooper's is the largest of the two common forest hawks in the Mid-Atlantic region.It preys mainly on birds and small mammals.The Cooper's has been visiting the feeder for some years now.That doesn't bother me.It's just another part of the ecological web.The birds of prey keep the other species healthy by preventing overpopulation.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pondering Market Conditions

Two prominent analysts have been evaluating the current market conditions.Mark Tinker of AXA Framlington Gemini says it has been a trading band environment,characterized by options use.Unwinding causes volatility toward the end of the day.People don't want to face a wall of selling,so they take their 20% profit,Mr.Tinker noted.For his part,Jacob Schmidt of Schmidt Research Partners feels that it's just day trading now,in and out.Everyone has become a day trader-even pension funds.There's no stability here in the markets.The question for me is,who's gonna be around in 2-3 years' time? I think the Tesco supermarket chain will survive.We don't know what the U.K. consumers will do.Will immigrants continue to arrive in the U.K.,or will they leave because of unemployment? If there's a survivor,I think it will be a Tesco,Mr.Schmidt reiterated.

Europeans Ponder Conditions

Nature Note:Serious Cold

The frost was thick on the Asian pear leaves I raked this morning.It was 21 degrees Fahrenheit,or -6.11 degrees Celsius.The first serious cold of the season hastened everyone.I didn't want to stand on the ground for long,even though I had my wool socks on.I needed to get back on the asphalt driveway or the concrete garage floor,so I worked fast.The sun came up red,but there was no hint of its fire on the frigid land.