Gongol.com Archives: November 2008
Brian Gongol

November 12, 2008

Business and Finance China's economic risks

Health Tracking the flu via the Internet
Google is tracking searches for terms related to influenza as a way to provide early detection of outbreaks. It's a novel application of information technology in the interest of public health.

Business and Finance "A government bailout of recidivist capital destroyers is a particularly bad idea"
If the government does too much to "protect" some American businesses, it could end up putting the entire economy at risk. The government itself has been remarkably incapable of managing its own affairs; that's why we have a $10.5 trillion Federal debt. At the rate it's been growing, we could be in the realm of teradollars in debt soon. Ironically, the growth of that debt and our other Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid liabilities could do vastly more damage to the US economy than the failure of an industrial giant or two: If taxes keep rising, we might see a brain drain out of the United States among smart, adaptable people who'd rather live in an increasingly-prosperous India than in an economically-calcified America. One of the great risks of the present is that the incoming government will mistake more regulation for better regulation and stifle the economy even more. Some very intelligent people -- like Benoit Mandelbrot, author of "The (Mis)Behavior of Markets" -- worry that so much of the modern world relies on tiny tolerances and lacks any resistance to shocks and disruptions that we could be in for profoundly difficult times. Mandelbrot, for instance, points out the extreme price sensitivity to even small changes in oil supply and demand right now (a matter of some recent discussion) reveals just how little tolerance for failure is left in many systems. It's a frightening warning sign. While we know that we're probably at or near a point of peak global oil production, month-to-month changes in oil production and oil consumption hardly vary by more than a percentage point or two. Those changes can't remotely begin to account for the violent recent swings in oil prices on the world market. And with a Treasury Secretary zigging and zagging like a running back with hundreds of billions of dollars, it's easy to see that uncertainty is being taken up a notch.

Iowa Trouble for Jordan Creek's owners

The United States of America What Presidents have done with their first 100 days

Business and Finance Ethanol companies, including VeraSun, are filing for bankruptcy
Gas prices collapsed, credit got tight, and contract prices for corn went haywire all at once. It's been quite enough to put at least some of the plants and firms out of business. This has the potential to be categorically awful news for the economies of states like Iowa and Nebraska, since it's going to put a serious pinch on tax receipts and have a considerable ripple effect on related business sectors. Moreover, it's certain to have a massive effect on land values, which have been charging upward for several years straight.

Business and Finance DHL to withdraw almost completely from US package delivery
UPS and FedEx have been too much competition for the company to fight. They're going to shift to handling mainly international express deliveries.

Water News "You just can't build something and never pay attention to it again"