Thursday, February 26, 2009
The principal Plan elements, and the legislation required to enact them, would be as follows:
I. Eligibility – Mortgage loans eligible for settlement under the Plan must involve some version of demonstrable impairment (a “Qualified Impaired Mortgage,” or “QIM”). The eligibility
requirements’ intent is to eliminate, from the Plan’s mandatory settlement requirements,
mortgage loans that are in default merely because of homeowner unwillingness to make
payments, or are otherwise restructureable through ordinary nonmandatory, arms-length
negotiation between lender and borrower.
Accordingly, to be considered a QIM, a mortgage loan must satisfy one or more of the following
a. It must satisfy both of the following criteria:
i. Have a prevailing accruing interest rate higher than %;
ii. Have an outstanding principal balance higher than 90% of the value of the underlying
home at the time of the settlement.
b. It must satisfy both of the following criteria:
i. Have an outstanding principal balance that is equal to, or higher than, 110% of the
value of the underlying home at the time of the settlement;
1. the borrower can demonstrate and certify (under penalties of perjury) that the
total of mortgage debt service, real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance
costs relating to the home constitute more than 40% of the homeowner’s
normalized family gross income; or
2. the borrower can demonstrate and certify (under penalties of perjury) that the
borrower or the borrower’s spouse/partner has lost his or her job, suffered a
disabling medical condition, suffered the death of a spouse/partner, or has
been divorced from and abandoned by a former spouse/partner—in all cases,
after the mortgage loan was originally made.
c. The mortgage lender has issued to the borrower/homeowner a notice of default and intent to
foreclose, and has commenced court proceedings for foreclosure.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, mortgage loans will not automatically qualify as QIMs (x) if it
can be demonstrated that a borrower made a material misrepresentation on his loan application,
(y) if the property securing the mortgage is not the borrower’s primary residence; or (z) if at least three monthly payments were not received on the loan since its origination (i.e., the borrower does not have a history of making concerted efforts to pay).
Any mortgage loan satisfying the criteria in a, b or c, above, shall be a QIM and shall give the
borrower the right to participate in a settlement under the Plan, with the lender mandated to
effectuate such settlement on the borrower’s request. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a settlement under the Plan shall be available to all borrowers and lenders, by mutual agreement, regardless of whether the above criteria are satisfied
Surrender of Deeds and Settlement of Mortgage Loan Obligations –
Lenders will take title to homes settled under the Plan. The lender will release the borrower from any and all obligations associated with the former loan and will take title as-is and without recourse to the former borrower. No interest, penalties or fees may be assessed by the lender in connection with the settlement. Lender and borrower shall mutually release each other from any preexisting claims or threatened claims at the time of the settlement. The only continuing relationship between lender and borrower shall be set forth in the Recovery Lease pertaining to the subject home
Contrary to the message bouncing off the marble walls of the Capitol, most borrowers in the inflating housing bubble clearly understood the terms of their loans. Most knew that they could not afford their mortgage payments once their teaser rates expired, but enthusiastically jumped into the debt pool anyway believing that guaranteed real estate appreciation, or a quick and profitable sale, would keep them afloat.
Although both lenders and borrowers were acting in their own perceived self-interest, what can we say of our economic policymakers who are expected to protect the good of all? Their actions encouraged the whole sad circus. Were it not for the excessively low interest rates provided by the Fed, the lax lending standards and moral hazards supplied by Congress courtesy of Freddie, Fannie, and the FHA, and the many real estate subsidies built into the tax code, none of these predatory loans would have been possible.
Had lenders exercised better judgment and had borrowers avoided overly burdensome debt loads, both parties would clearly be in better financial positions today. Instead, as borrowers were demanding the credit to fuel their dreams of instant real estate riches, lenders were being pressured to accommodate them.
In past generations, home buyers were required to save for down payments and postpone their purchases until they could actually afford conventional 30-year fixed mortgages. But in recent years, as home ownership became a matter of public policy, the government accused lenders of discrimination and urged lower standards and easier terms. With government guarantees in place, the mortgage industry was happy to both expand their revenues and promote a better society.
But by denying credit, even if it requires borrowers to forgo something they clearly want, lenders not only provide a valuable service to borrowers, but to society. Given the mess in which we now find ourselves, due to the bad loans made during the real estate bubble, this lesson should have been well learned. Unfortunately it hasn’t, as the same dynamic is now playing out on a much larger scale.
Faced with a prospect of downgrading its lifestyle, the U.S. government is instead borrowing trillions of dollars to artificially inflate our deflating bubble economy. The money is being used to both expand the size of government and finance additional consumer spending. Given our financial position, this is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.
Our global creditors are now making the same mistakes made by subprime mortgage lenders. They are loaning us money that we will never be able to repay. In the process, they are enabling the largest expansion in the size of our government since the New Deal and crippling an economy already suffering from excess consumption.
Although it may sound harsh, it would be far better for all involved if our foreign friends simply cut us off. Since their loans are merely fueling the growth of our government and artificially pumping up consumer spending, their savings will not only be lost but their sacrifice will severely exacerbate our problems as well.
Just as homebuyers did earlier in this decade, the U.S. government will borrow as much money as the world is foolish enough to lend, and it will use those funds to smother the life out of our economy. At this point government is growing like a cancer, feeding mainly off the funds it borrows from abroad. In the process, it is placing a horrific debt burden on its people, committing them to either a lifetime of crippling interest payments or run-away inflation.
There is nothing inherently wrong with foreign lending. If funding were directed toward private business to enable capital investments, the loans would not only benefit lenders, but they would benefit our nation as well. The funds would fortify our industrial base and provide the necessary foundation upon which to rebuild a viable economy.
Helicopter Ben, Obama, Congress, and much of the corporate media still refuse to tell the truth — we’re in a depression, not a recession. The cable news shows tell us Obama’s “stimulus” bill will make things right, when in fact the latest thinly disguised boondoggle — coupled with the multi-trillion dollar banker bailout scams — will soon usher in crushing hyperinflation.
It was meant to be this way. It was designed to turn you into a share cropper, a peasant, a modern day version of a serf indebted to the international bankers.
It is quite a toxic stew — stock market on the fall, corporate bankruptcies, bank failures, insurance failures, cities and states on the verge of bankruptcies, a foreclosure epidemic, government bond collapse, pension plans looted, the credit markets in a deep freeze… and yet Bernanke tells us we’ll be fine soon as we get past the rough patch.
Ben and Obama have the answer — more government spending and more debt for our children and their children. In other words, the answer to a crisis created by indebtedness is more debt. It’s like giving a shivering alcoholic a case of Special Brew to cure his alcoholism.The national debt of the United States officially stands at $10.802 trillion, or about $37,851 per capita and 65.5 percent of GDP, although this figure is seriously understated due to off-balance sheet obligations, that is to say money we owe the bankers but the government is not telling us about. In fact, the “obligations” of the federal government come in around $65 trillion, a figure that exceeds the gross domestic product of the world. Instead of working to deflate the astronomical debt bubble, Obama and the Democrats are pumping it up.
If foreigners were to cut us off, there would be some immediate pain, but tough love is exactly what we need right now. Forcing Americans to live within their means, particularly the U.S. government, will be just as beneficial to the long-term health of our economy as similar restraint would have been had it been exercised by mortgage lenders. It’s too bad so few of us seem capable of making this connection, or learning anything from the mistakes of the past – even when the ink in the history books has barely dried.
The IAEA mission made a series of recommendations to enhance the safety of the year-long temporary restart. The recommendations included:
Performance of the monitoring system for leaks should be rigorously checked during the interim year of operation;
Temporary operation of the HFR cannot be extended beyond 1 March 2010; and
In case of any detected leakage from the coolant pipes, the reactor should be shut down immediately and repaired before restarting.The international team was composed of one IAEA staff member and five external experts from Argentina, Canada, France, India and South Africa.
The HFR at Petten is one of five research reactors in the world that produces radioactive medical isotopes, used an estimated 40 million times annually for cancer treatment and the diagnosis of heart attacks. Prolonged outages at any of these five reactors have a far-reaching impact on medical treatments and diagnoses for patients around the globe. Since August 2008, the HFR reactor has been in shut-down status due to corrosion of pipes in its primary cooling circuit.The Nuclear Research & Consultancy Group (NRG), the operating organization for Petten, proposed a one-year restart of the HFR reactor, which was approved by the Dutch regulatory body. The reactor then resumed operation on 12 February 2009.One of the main requirements of the regulatory authority was that the reactor must be immediately shut down if any leakage is detected. The IAEA strongly supports this requirement.
The reactor is authorized by the regulatory authority of the Netherlands to remain operational for an interim year until 1 March 2010 to allow for preparation of repairs. Repair of the pipe degradations is expected to last several months and is scheduled to begin in March 2010.
Nuclear´s Great Expectations. The IAEA has revised upwards its nuclear power generation projections to 2030, while at the same time it reported that nuclear´s share of global electricity generation dropped another percentage point in 2007 to 14%
Current status of the nuclear industry:
436 nuclear power reactors in operation with a total net installed capacity of 370.234 GW(e)
5 nuclear power reactors in long term shutdown
44 nuclear power reactors under construct
AND NUCLEAR POWER ESTIMATES
FOR THE PERIOD UP TO 2030
The Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology is responsible for formulating and implementing the Agency's nuclear fuel cycle and waste management related activities. The activities are mainly in two parts: safe, secure, environmentally sound and cost effective nuclear fuel cycle activities associated with nuclear power and research reactors; and waste management strategies and technologies associated with all activities that generate radioactive waste, decommissioning of nuclear facilities and remediation of radioactively contaminated sites.
The Division is organised into two Sections and one Group to implement its activities. These are:
Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Materials Section
Waste Technology Section
Research Reactor Group
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
We are being told by the media that the current turmoil is an economic crisis. Injections of trillions is only impoverishing the middle class, enriching the upper class, and, this is doing absolutely nothing to address the real problem. The real problem has been evolving over many decades.
Okay people, this is not an article by another economist. So read it. It may just save your life.
The current turmoil being reported and noticed daily by everyone on the planet is no economic crisis. The economic worries are only a symptom of a much graver problem.
Since humanity has been building a house of cards. This house of cards is best understood when we look at the rise in population over the last few hundred years. A graph would show a steadily increasing upward sweep to over 6 billion people now living on the planet. We may lose minimally a billion people very quickly, and possibly many more. It is not just a question of money and economics.
Every one of these scientifically designed and engineered processes of societal structure are interdependent. These have been layered one atop the other for hundreds of years.
The last time these systems society has seen evolve catastrophically came undone to this extent is now being widely acknowledged to be the Great Depression. This however only can hint at the calamity we face. During the Great Depression the Government stopped printing money, today the banks are cutting off credit to even the most qualified applicants.
In 1930 the population of the U.S. was roughly 80 million. Today our population is 310 million.
And of the 310 million people living in our country, each is far more dependent upon the failing systems than any were at the time of the Great Depression. This is not an economic crisis. It is an impossible logistical crisis.
Consider-In 1930 85%-95% of the American people lived on farms. Today, less than 2% of the American population lives on anything that could even remotely be considered a farm where food can be grown and raised.
That is the obvious benefit, being able to grow your own food. This benefit was incurred by those who survived the Great Depression on a farm. But that is only the half of it.
Remember there are more than three times as many Americans alive today! And of these, less than 2% could grow any part of their own food given the required warning to get them prepared for such a crisis.
And since the 1930s the interdependence of every facet our our scientific society has increased. It is all coming undone at the same time because of this interdependence.
We all have read how the banks have failed, and no matter how much money gets pumped into them, they continue to fail. They continue to fail because everything else around the banks is also failing.
Big agribusiness could fail worldwide with tragic consequence. If agribusinesses fails just like the banks, for lack of money and for their dependence upon every other facet of our complex arrangements that keep everything running. Many independent farmers are being cut off by their creditors and may not be able purchase seed and fertilizers required to get crops planted this year. Many smaller farms are reportedly slaughtering herds of livestock to acquire badly needed cash so they can plant crops. A sever drought equal to the dust bowl days would spell doom.
When big agribusiness cannot get a single part for a large piece of agricultural machinery, they too are out of business. And the systems that support all large agribusinesses are failing every day.
Due to an insufficient understanding of what is transpiring, our government like every other government, is trying to socialize banking, impoverishing the middle class in the process, while leaving the other complex societal structures to fail simply because everything is interconnected.
When agribusiness fails, supply's will drop, prices will rise and many will starve.
The only hope is to reverse the nationalization of banking and let the banks fail. We are going to come in for a hard landing anyway, but this way at least people can fend for themselves instead of having everyone commit everything they are worth toward defending so many collapsing financial institutions that cannot possibly be saved. After all these same banks lacks lending practices along with risky investments hoping for an easy and quick buck are primarily responsible for the crisis being witnessed today. No more bailout politics.
Obama said the destiny of the United States will not be determined by the crisis. He said the answers to the nation's problems are within reach. They exist in laboratories and universities, in the nation's fields and factories and in the imagination of America's entrepreneurs.
And Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage to help them weather this storm.
Here in Washington, we've all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right.
I've appointed a proven and aggressive inspector general to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud.And we have created a new web site called recovery.gov so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.
So the recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track, but it is just the first step, because even if we manage this plan flawlessly, there will be no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis that has severely weakened our financial system.
The concern is that, if we do not re-start lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins.
Second, we have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages
Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Most people think that an appraisal; any type of appraisal, is some kind of value for your home. In a perfect world it is, but there are many factors here. For those not use to orunderstanding of the finance market, look at it this way, you go to a bank, the banker is working for.......... himself. The more he closes the more he makes. The banker wants to get you into a loan like a car salesmen wants to get you into a car. Once you drive off the lot they do not give one iota if you make the payments or not. The bankers hire appraisers to value your home, the more they value the home for vs the loan amount the easier it is to push through a loan.
Now the appraiser if he/she keeps pushing values that are low, the banker does not hire this so called independent person. The appraiser knows where his bread is buttered and since everyone wants to make money the appraisers gives the banker what they want.
Now in a hot market you may get a good appraisal, but in the current market you get an appraisal that doesn't even match your mortgage cost no less matching the value the banker's appraisers gave you. This is just one of the areas that are putting people in the foreclosure line.
What one needs to do to get a true appraisal prior to agreeing to any loan amount, is to hire their own not linked to a loan department appraiser. Then bankers will do what is called an 80/20 loan, the standard 80% loan and then tack on a 20% home equity loan to have a 100% loan on a home.
Another one of the problems is that in the early 2000's the bank rate was extremely low, which caused bankers to become very generous with their guidelines, which sold lots of homes. As the industry grew, mortgage bankers were hired by the tens of thousands and their training was to fill out a mortgage application and nothing more.
When prices were rising 5-10 percent a year, the 0 down loans, ARM/home equity financing, etc... real estate became a growth industry. Some of those in the game early were able to buy a home and then get a bigger home within a few years. However, most did not have any equity built up and were buying with 95-100% financing. Today we are paying for that practice.
Let's say one has an $125,000 mortgage and a $90,000 house, then they are upside down in equity. Their choices are not good, foreclosure will give one a bad credit score for several years, a "Short Sale"; where the bank agrees to let you sell for less than the mortgage price, is an option and the last is to call you lender and try to get them to renegotiated the rate. Sometimes they are willing to compromise because the last thing a bank wants to do is own another home.
Sadly quite a few borrowers didn't know that they had the power to determine how high they wanted their loan amounts to be, whether they took a fixed or adjustable interest rate. I highly doubt 3 different appraisers would today come up with the same value for the same property. Remember in 2005-2006, AVM (automated valuation model) was done which is not really a realistic appraisal, and loan amounts bankers wanted closed on were based on AVM's. Remember the higher the appraisal the better chance the banker can get the loan closed on and the more money the banker pockets.
This was just one way home costs were inflated, which also is contributing to the economically crisis. Another way homes' values were inflated were large assignment fees paid to third parties. In 2007, FBI started investigations of dozens of Pinellas County homes sold at inflated prices for just the reasons, and then you always have speculation.
If you are looking at who to place blame on, there isn't just one culprit, it starts all the way from the top of government (pushing for first time home owners)to the banks and ending at home owners. This isn't just black and white, there is much gray area is the why's and who's of the housing crisis. Although we need to know the reasons how this happen to take measures to make sure it doesn't happen again, we now need to focus on a solution and I believe transparency of loans is part of the solution.
Just my thoughts.
FHA Mortgage Guide
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Executive recruitment is an important component. Top level hires must understand the business community and the additional challenges. They must be able to develop new strategies that take into account the global economy. There are new demands, as well, on executives to make their businesses environmentally friendly.
One word typifies the most important aspect businesses must embrace to remain competitive these days: service. Companies that do not provide good customer service will not survive in this new business climate. Their customers will look elsewhere, to their competitors. Savvy customers comparison shop and know, through experience or reputation, whether a business provides good service.
Unemployment is driven by many variables, social, economic and political.
Apart from being a social and economic problem, unemployment is an individual misfortune that, in many cases, can become a personal tragedy that damages an entire family's relationships.
Many people are unhappy with what they are doing and cry for a change. Maybe this is your opportunity to make that change, who knows? There are many examples of people who take a job outside their field and find it unexpectedly rewarding, both financially and professionally.
4. Just like when you’re starting out, job hunts do have some downtime in between interviews so try to do things that would lift up your spirits. Take on a hobby or some volunteer work. Exercise. Physical activity helps pump endorphins (happy chemicals) that would help you boost your morale.
Some things you can do with your new free time:
STIMULATE YOUR BRAIN. Get yourself interested in any topic, even if it is totally unrelated to your field.
CONNECT WITH NATURE: Do something that you may have overlooked in the past. Putter in your garden. Do things that involve water, the earth, sunlight and wind.
EXERCISE: Physical exertion helps a lot. Don't be afraid to work up a sweat and burn off some calories.
VOLUNTEER: Undertake projects that pay you back with good feelings for serving not for monetary gain. You'll be surprised how this can pay off for you in the future.
DON’T COMPLAIN: Don't focus on negatives. Look for positive things in life. Surround yourself with people who are successful and who have positive attitudes of their own.
EAT HEALTH: This is a good time to take the time to prepare healthy foods. You don't have the excuse of too much work to take the time to eat well any longer. This can turn into a life-long habit that you'll take with you to your next job.
One problem is that many nations talk about free trade but then regulate imports and exports. Still to be seen, what Obama will offer as his plan to right the global economic boat.
SOME OPINIONS ABOUT WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
"Facing the Slowdown, Reforming for Tomorrow"
High commodity prices, favourable financial conditions and the hard-won economic reforms of the 1990s boosted regional economic growth to an average of 5% in the past years, with low inflation and strong current account surpluses.
Besides dealing with the international financial turbulence and possible volatility in commodity prices, the greatest challenge for Latin America is still to harmonize economic expansion and social progress.
For more information about the World Economic Forum on Latin America 2009, please contact:LatinAmerica@weforum.org
Javier Santiso, Director and Chief Development Economist, OECD, Paris
A successful regional integration process in the current international context should pay close attention to competitiveness, export diversification and innovation.
Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, ECLAC
Latin America is faced with the twin challenges of poverty and inequality, but it is now better equipped to handle them.
Pamela Cox, Vice-President for Latin America and the Caribbean, World Bank
Brazil and Latin America are not a problem, but a solution for the challenges of the world. Considering the natural resources, mature institutions and qualified human resources, we are ready to receive investments and answer to the needs of the market.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Bill Gates stressed that Internet TV will only be part of the enourmous change brought by technology
Former Microsoft chief Bill Gates is predicting that technology will drive every part of human life and foresees a fusing of television and the Internet.
Gates believes that the TVs of the future will connect to the Internet, perform search functions and locate videos using voice recognition.
“The devices that will be software-driven won’t stop at the personal computer, the full-screen device or the pocket-sized device, the phone. It will really be pervasive,” Gates said.
Microsoft Research Asia is currently conducting research on such televisions, where couch potatoes will key in search words with their remote controls, and the TV will search related videos using speech recognition technology. Users will also be able to customize channels with the search function.
Gates stressed that the Internet TV will only be part of the enormous change brought by technology within the next decade. “...the frontiers of software are constantly changing and that’s why this is an industry that’s so exciting,” he said.
Innovating for the better
Gates also shared his views on technology as solutions to global problems with university leaders, and stressed that innovations can change the world. He gave the example of the personal computer, describing it as “the best tool mankind ever created” when connected to the Internet, and said that many biological advances are achieved with the help of computers.
Chinese University of Hong Kong president, Lawrence Lau, highlighted the importance of the Internet in terms of knowledge distribution. He said access to broadband was crucial to overcoming poverty.
Two other local university leaders, Paul Chu and Tsui Lap-chee, agreed that properly managed technologies can solve global issues such as genetic diseases and even the energy shortage.
John Kanzius has created a machine named the Kanzius machine that can possible zap cancer cells with radio frequencies. Apparently the machine works without any side effects or the need for drugs. If this is true then the Kanzius Machine and John Kanzius could have produced the most important breakthrough ever known to cancer research. There is still a lot of research to do and clinical trials will have to be performed, but this seems like a great invention.If the trials work out like many doctors and cancer researchers think it will then John Kanzius is going to be a very rich man and his Kanziys machine may be able to save the lives of thousands of cancer patients. Cancer is one of the most destructive diseases known to man and if the Kanzius machine can help even a small percentage of the people who have cancer then it will be a fabulous breakthrough. Of course for John Kanzius this was a personal endeavor he decided to take on.
The last thing John Kanzius thought he’d ever do was try to cure cancer. A former radio and television executive from Pennsylvania, he came to Florida to enjoy his retirement.
"I have no business being in the cancer business. It’s not something that a layman like me should be in, it should be left to doctors and research people," .
It was the worst kind of luck that gave Kanzius the idea to use radio waves to kill cancer cells: six years ago, he was diagnosed with terminal leukemia and since then has undergone 36 rounds of toxic chemotherapy. But it wasn’t his own condition that motivated him, it was looking into the hollow eyes of sick children on the cancer ward at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
"I saw the smiles of youth and saw their spirits were broken. And you could see that they were sort of asking, ‘Why can’t they do something for me?’" Kanzius said. "So they started to haunt you. Their faces. I still remember them holding on their Teddy bears and so forth," he replied. "And shortly after that I started my own chemotherapy, my third round of chemotherapy."
Kanzius told Stahl the chemotherapy made him very sick and that he couldn’t sleep at night. "And I said, ‘There’s gotta be a better way to treat cancer."
Here’s how it works: one box sends radio waves over to the other, creating enough energy to activate gas in a fluorescent light. Kanzius put his hand in the field to demonstrate that radio waves are harmless to humans.
"So right from the beginning you’re trying to show that radio waves could activate gas and not harm the human-anything else," "You’re looking for some kind of a treatment with no side effects.
At the University of Pittsbrugh Medical Center, the first Kanzius protoype is being used by Dr. David Geller. Geller is testing the radio-wave theory on lab rats with tumors. "I think this has potential to be cutting-edge technology; it's certainly novel," said Geller. "There's nothing out there like it." UPMC isn't the only place working with Kanzius' invention.
Dr. Steven Curley is a program director at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, where Kanzius underwent treatment. "Current radio frequency treatment require literally sticking a needle or needles into tumors and turning on an electrical current that will heat the tumor slowly," said Curley.
As Promising as abstract results have been a recent Google search of the Kanzius Machine does not appear it to be worthy of any additional exposure among the medical community or media outlets since mid 2008 only 4 months after being aired on CBS 60 mins. Has it become a well-established fact that conventional medicine shuns inexpensive, non-invasive, all-natural, side-effect-free cancer treatments, no matter how much they protest such claims? It would seem actions speak louder then words in this case.
You can view the CBS 60 min interview at by clicking here:
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Scientists aboard the U.S. research vessel Laurence M. Gould held their own presidential inaugural celebration 10,000 miles from Washington off the coast of Antarctica. Stopped in desolate, icy seas for three days to do climate-change research, they dubbed their temporary study area Ocean Station Obama. "The project scientists have decided to dedicate the station to President Obama and his administration to recognize their vital interest in the problem of climate change," said Columbia oceanographer Douglas Martinson
During Ocean Station Obama, which lasted Jan. 19-21, the scientists conducted a special study to characterize physical and biological processes related to Adelie penguin foraging in the area, and investigated processes that store atmospheric carbon dioxide in the water as a result of marine biological activity (the so-called biological pump). At station Obama, scientists conducted repeated sampling with electronic water samplers, zooplankton nets, submersible pumps and optical sensors.
The ship followed a freely-drifting array that collects particles settling through the water column. They also deployed an undersea glider equipped with oceanographic sensors to profile the study region in greater detail. Meanwhile, part of the research team camped on nearby Avian Island, conducting censuses of penguins and other seabirds that forage in the Obama region.
Individual locations at sea where samples are taken are referred to as oceanographic stations. Oceanographers name such stations to facilitate future identification, and it is common to name them after people, events, animals or anything else to distinguish them. Station Obama is located in Marguerite Bay immediately south of Adelaide Island, in the eastern Bellingshausen Sea (approximately 67 deg 46 S, 68 deg 51 W).
On Inauguration Day, several blogs, including one hosted by the scientific journal Nature, were abuzz with news of Ocean Station Obama.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Obama continued to ratchet up the rhetoric for the plan, calling congressional inaction on the proposal “inexcusable and irresponsible,” and warning that a failure to act quickly would have potentially devastating consequences for countless Americans
Sunday, February 1, 2009
A monster from the past (the liquidity trap) is back, for the first time since the Depression of the 1930s. With lenders keeping their cash holdings rather than investing, the world economy is grinding to a halt.President Obama has brought out an $800 Billion plus stimulus package against the backdrop of the worst economic data in generations, with poor corporate results cutting across business sentiment, and mass unemployment data that indicates could rise to 7.5% with another 500,000 jobs being lost in January.
“Most of the money that we are investing will go out of the door and go directly to job creation, generating or saving from 3-4 million new jobs. But even as this plan puts Americans back to work, it would also make the critical investments in alternative energy, safer roads, better health care and modern school that will lay foundation for long term growth and prosperity.”On Thursday, Federal Reserve officials warned of a prolonged global slowdown which could push the US to the brink of deflation. That warning followed a forecast on Wednesday by the IMF that the world economy would slow to a near standstill this year.
The package – dubbed the ‘Recovery and reinvestment’ plan – provided plenty for those at Davos to think about.
Managing Director of The World Bank says rebuilding confidence is key to restoring capital flows.
"If you put in place these 2 measures that I talked about, which is one doing the cleaning of the financial system and two, continuing with the fiscal stimulus in these counties and trying to create jobs, confidence will start to come back. Banks will begin to lend again and that is oil that greases the wheel."
But stimulating the financial sector is not a total solution. Jacko Maree, CEO Standard Group believes the world may have to look to emerging nations as the driving force that stimulates demand.
"The kick start is going to come from the emerging markets and the recovery in those rather than from the developed world. When we look at countries like Brazil and even Russia – there's been a tremendous change in values of stock prices but many of the underlying companies are doing well – so there's almost seems to be an overreaction."Sharp interest rate cuts and fiscal stimulus packages have been the standard medicine dished out so far around the world, but whether it will work is as yet unclear. The consensus is that the world has to brace itself for a best case scenario of at least one year of recession, and a subsequent decade of low growth. Just how to get things back on track is harder to agree on.
With the U.S. government already involved in bailouts of the banking sector, auto industry and housing, most of the fiscal stimulus comes after 2011. That's led to a muted response from those looking for something more immediate.
Other concerns about the fiscal stimulus range from wariness about preferential treatment for US companies in accessing support, to a possible change towards protectionist sentiment. But having passed the House of representatives without the support of Republicans, who wanted a more targeted plan, the biggest question as it goes to the senate is whether it is big enough, and how soon it will work. And with economic and corporate data indicating a continued collapse, its timing and size may yet become bigger issues still.
Wen Jiabao used his speech to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland to call on the US to improve its economic relations with China, but also heaped the blame for the current crisis on the West.
“Even before Obama walked through the White House door, there were plans for $1 trillion of new debt,” said Niall Ferguson, a Harvard historian who has studied borrowing and its impact on national power. He now estimates that some $2.2 trillion in new government debt will be issued this year, assuming the stimulus plan is approved.
“You either crowd out other borrowers or you print money,” Mr. Ferguson added. “There is no way you can have $2.2 trillion in borrowing without influencing interest rates or inflation in the long-term.” Struck by the new borrowing because the roots of the current crisis lay in an excess of American debt at all levels, from homeowners to Wall Street banks. “This is a crisis of excessive debt, which reached 355 percent of American gross domestic product,” he said. “It cannot be solved with more debt.”While Mr. Ferguson is a skeptic of the Keynesian thinking behind President Obama’s plan — rather than borrowing and spending to stimulate the economy, he favors corporate tax cuts — even supporters of the plan like Mr. Zedillo and Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley have called on the White House to quickly address how it will pay for the spending in the long-term.
Even as Congress looks for ways to expand President Obama's $819 billion stimulus package the rest of the world is wondering how Washington will pay for it all.
My Blog List
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