Gongol.com Archives: November 2008
Brian Gongol

November 21, 2008

Business and Finance Firings all around!
Investors ought to demand that the executives who let their companies turn south -- and the boards of directors who watched it happen -- get the boot. That's what a good bear market ought to allow, if nothing else.

Threats and Hazards Don't forget Russia amid the financial swings
The Russian stock market has dropped by 70% this year -- far worse than the 45% drop in the US stock market or the 38% drop in the UK market. And Russia's economy depends deeply upon the price of oil. Extraction economies are always bound to fail in the long term, and there simply hasn't been enough reinvestment in Russia's people and technology to smooth out the fluctuations in the price of oil -- even Putin admits that. Certainly we can recognize the risks inherent to a nuclear-armed Russia that finds itself running low on cash going into the cold winter months. If the government feels enough political pressure from within, there should be no doubt that it would consider holding Europe hostage over natural gas supplies as a way to generate fresh cash in order to feed the hungry (and angry) masses. Russia and Ukraine are already in such a dispute. The risk is quite real, and it ought to get at least as much thoughtful consideration as what to do about the Detroit automakers. And on the very same subject, we should be keenly aware that the free-falling price of oil could very well be making Iran politically unstable, too. It's come to light that the Iranian government is blocking domestic access to more than 5,000,000 websites. And the awful situation in North Korea is getting worse as the government clamping down on mobile phones so that word doesn't spread about the food shortages there.

Business and Finance People stopped buying cars in October, but bought about the same amount of other stuff as last year
However, some general retailers have been hit harder than others -- JC Penney took a big hit to its profits in the last quarter.

Health It's only the Model T of bionic limbs, yet it's a huge step forward
The I-Limb uses muscle and neural signals to manage how it opens and closes. It costs up to $70,000 now, but as a step towards the ultimate goal of regenerating lost limbs and other complex body parts. The science is already underway -- a woman living in Spain just got a brand-new trachea generated from her own stem cells, which were built on the collagen of a donor trachea. The next step, naturally, would be to get the same results without needing a donor at all. It's not that far away.

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