Wednesday, April 29, 2009

IMF Sees Further Losses

The International Monetary Fund says that losses to financial institutions are likely to climb.Losses from toxic assets will be a potential four trillion dollars.More capital will have to be raised-up to 1.7 billion dollars of it.The banking system is still not stabilized.The global financial system will be damaged for years to come.In the IMF's view,the current outlook is exceptionally bleak.The U.S. economy will drop 2.8% in 2009;Japan's will decline 6.2%;and trade volume will slip by 11%.China will grow 6.5%,which is less than half of its growth rate of two years ago.Recovery is unlikely to begin until 2010.Unemployment will rise until late 201o,the IMF projects.

Nature Note:Northern Breeze

A northern breeze has brought us down to below average temperatures from well-above average readings-a bizarre experience for growers doing their seeding.Those who thought they won't put the heat on again will have to think again as it becomes chilly tonight.The flannel and sweaters are having another day,but a mere sprinkle isn't clearing the oak pollen away from our noses.The sunglasses weren't needed as we planted this morning,and we didn't have to worry about young plants withering in baked earth.All in all,it's better not to race into high summer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Energy Firms Reach Accords

Big players in the energy markets have been reaching deals this month.Both Royal Dutch Shell and Gazprom,the Russian natural gas titan,have signed on to buy about a million tons each of the Sakhalin-2 project's Liquefied Natural Gas.Sakhalin-2 is located in the Russian Far East.According to Gazprom,the contracts run from 2009 to 2028.At the same time,Gazprom will deliver another million tons of gas to Shell through pipelines to Europe,in exchange for access to Shell's Mexico re-gasification terminal at Costa Azul.This contract also runs for 20 years.

Nature Note:What Falls in Spring

Leaves fall in autumn,but in spring other things fall.Following pollination,petals from tree flowers fall,and maple keys fall from silver maples.Asian pear petals have been coming down like snow,but the maple keys,which contain the silver maple seed,are still bundled up in the trees.When they fall,many of them will sprout.They have to be one of the most prolific sprouters in the natural world.Here they grow into a northern riverine forest along with slippery elms.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Havens Disappearing

The number of tax havens in the world is diminishing under mounting international pressure.Longtime havens in Switzerland and Liechtenstein have been joined by four more nations recently in a pledge to adhere to more open banking practices.Malaysia,Costa Rica,Uruguay and the Philippines have accepted information exchange standards,according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.Angel Gurria,Secretary General of the OECD,announced that the new countries intend to offer authorizing legislation for the standards sometime this year.The old tax haven concept is seen as hindering the ability of nations to deal with crises by depriving them of revenue that is justly theirs.It may also be cloaking activities that contributed to the financial crisis.The OECD is based in Paris.Founded in 1960,it seeks the welfare of its 29 developed member states,and fosters aid to emerging markets.It is also a major source of economic and environmental data.

Nature Note:Good Planting Weather

The past few days have brought cold and wet conditions.Although unpleasant,these have protected hay fever sufferers from tree pollen flying around and getting into their bodies.They have also presented growers with a good chance to plant shrubs and trees.It is easier to dig the moist earth,and it isn't necessary to water the newly planted shrubs and trees.I planted some holly trees to complement a female holly I had planted last year.Another holly,a male plant,didn't survive the winter.It had been nibbled by a cottontail rabbit.The female holly made it somehow,so I planted her a new male,as well as a second female.Without a male tree,the female hollies cannot produce their bright red berries in the autumn.The new hollies are of the Blue cultivar,while the older female is of the China cultivar.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

World Bank Predicts Shrinkage

The World Bank has joined other institutions in forecasting global economic shrinkage in 2009.Emerging markets will see growth drop to 2.1% from the 4.4% prediction of November 2008.A decline in exports,commodity demand and foreign investment is responsible for that.Even should growth resume a better pace,the problems created by shrinkage will continue as far out as 2011,the World Bank thinks.Emerging markets might need as much as 1.3 trillon dollars in aid to cover debt payments and current account deficits.Overall global growth is seen as contracting 1.7%,in the World Bank's view.It would be the first global contraction since World War II.

Nature Note:Chionadoxa

Chionadoxa,the glory of the snow,got a rare chance to live up to its name today.There was indeed a dusting of snow on the ground this morning,and the small blue flower with a white center was at peak bloom.This could be a record for accumulating snow.I can't recall a later date for it.The crocuses are no longer in bloom,but have spread their leaves out to make food for next spring.Plants don't leave anything for later.As soon as they can,they do what needs to be done for next year.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Global Trade In Decline

The World Trade Organization says global trade will shrink by 9% this year,which is the worst performance since World War II.Jakob Kirkegaard of the Petersen Institute of International Economics thinks that is truly devastating.It starts the stuttering halt to the engine of globalization.The idea of decoupling will definitely have taken a shot across the bow.Asia has been dependent on ultimate demand by the U.S. and Europe.The bailouts are going to promote protectionism.There is a sense that tax money must be spent on domestic industries,Mr.Kirkegaard indicated.

Nature Note:Two Winds

While lower level winds blew cirrus clouds from the north,upper level winds blew cumulus clouds from the south,creating quite a spectacle.The cold lower winds and clouds were a reminder of winter just past,and the southern upper winds and clouds heralded the spring just arrived.There had been a thunderstorm earlier in the day.Now the sun was out and the clouds raced past one another in different directions at different heights.It was a rare instance of air masses made graphic,of seasonal change made visible.