Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ford Backs Cologne Plant

Ford Motor Company is standing behind its Cologne,Germany plant,despite Ford's program of cost cuts and capacity rollbacks to deal with the financial crisis in Europe.Ford will invest 260 million dollars to sustain the plant through the crisis.The plant employs about 800 workers.No job cuts or layoffs are planned in the face of weaker European sales.Minister President Juergen Ruettgers of North-Rhine Westfalia announced the new support.Ford is the only major U.S. automaker not to accept U.S. government aid,having shored up its finances early on.France is suspected of protectionism because of its aid to Renault plants in the south of France.

Nature Note:Spring Frosts

The spring frosts show that the sun is getting higher each day,but not that high just yet.Some early blooms are seen,but not that many now.Were the fruit trees to blossom,they would be badly nipped by the frost,resulting in a poor crop.That is the problem with an overly warm spring day.It fools plants into flowering,and then they are damaged at night by frost.The forester is glad to have the frost,though.Cool weather makes his morning work a lot pleasanter.He can get a lot done on a clear dawn.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Qatar To Aid Banks

Qatar is buying the investment portfolios of seven of the nation's banks,in order to bolster confidence in the resource-rich nation.According to the Doha Securities Market,the portfolios will be purchased with the assistance of Qatar Central Bank by the end of March.To date,Qatar has avoided debt and political strife from the financial crisis,unlike some of its Gulf neighbors.Its economy is regarded as sound.Qatar should continue to experience growth through the downturn.In response to the bank news,the Qatar stock market shot up about 9%.

Nature Note:Red-bellied Woodpecker

A red-bellied woodpecker has been visiting the property for about a week.This forest bird is attracted to the maturing timber.It has been doing some excavating of old scars on the trees,no doubt looking for a nest tree.It even ate some bird seed from the ground under the feeder.Actually,it has a scarlet cap.There is no readily visible red on its belly,if there is any at all.It gives a rattle call.This is the most time a red-bellied has spent on this land.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Canadian GDP Declines

Canada's Gross Domestic Product for Q4 2008 registered a drop of 3.4%.It was the greatest decline since 1991.The estimate for Q4 GDP had been a 3-4% drop.Canada fared better than the U.S. and Japan,where the GDP fell 6.2 and 12.7%,respectively.In response to economic rumblings,the Bank of Canada has cut its key interest rate to 0.5%.The U.S. Federal Reserve had earlier cut its main rate to a very low 0-0.25%.Bell Canada is finding opportunity in the financial crisis.It has acquired the Canadian operations of U.S.-based Circuit City,an electronics retailer which filed for bankruptcy in November 2008.The deal is expected to close in Q3 2009,but the terms were not disclosed.

Nature Note:Cedar Waxwings

About 100 cedar waxwings alighted on one of the Asian pears this morning.It was the largest flock of the crested songbirds seen in the area in recent times.They like the small fruits,but there aren't many of them left at this point.Most of them have alraedy been eaten.It has to be a hungry time for the waxwings.There aren't many insects about,either-just a few house flies and box elder bugs,which are a harmless black and red insect attracted to the warmth of the homes they frequently get into.The weather will be turning cold again shortly,which will also affect the robins who have returned for the breeding season.

Friday, March 6, 2009

IMF Aids East Europe

The International Monetary Fund has played a major role in rescuing East Europe from the financial crisis.Since Q4 of 2008,the IMF has parceled out 50 billion dollars of its 250 billion reserves to East European and other countries,as they deal with cratering exports,investment and currencies.Social unrest has occurred in Bulgaria,Latvia and Lithuania because of the worsening downturn.Among recent IMF loans were 18.8 billion to Hungary,2.46 billion to Belarus,2.35 billion to Latvia and 16.4 billion to Ukraine.Pakistan has received 7.6 billion,while Iceland has gotten 2.1 billion.British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for an increase in IMF reserves,fearing a lenghthier crisis could deprive nations of aid,leaving them in economic winter.IMF officials say 500 billion would be enough for the crisis,but others aren't so sure.

Nature Note:March Snow

Residents of the Mid-Atlantic region are taking a good look at any snow left on the ground.It may well be the last significant snow of the winter.Unseasonable warmth is on the way for the weekend.Although it can snow into April here,late snow usually doesn't amount to anything.It may stick to the ground for a few hours before it melts away.In the early light,the snow sparkled.It was powder snow.Shoveling it was close to effortless,so it was easy to regret that it will soon pass.