New Year’s Eve is the main event: 1,193 vehicles were set on fire. But it’s a year-round passion, with over 40,000 vehicles going up in smoke. A tradition no one has the balls to explain. In a country whose unemployment is climbing with incessant brutality, and whose automakers are bogged down with uncompetitive products in a morose market. But there's an industry that is booming. The lottery.
Contributed by James Burgess of Oilprice.com. Fracking has created a boom in natural gas and oil production in the US. As a result, it is fairly popular, especially in areas that are benefitting the most, such as Texas and North Dakota. But how long can that popularity last now that fracking is moving from the countryside to cities, close to people’s homes.
Contributed by Jen Alic of Oilprice.com. African exports to China have increased six-fold since 2000, mostly oil. In 2012, China surpassed the US and Europe as Africa’s largest trading partner while Washington can't figure out how to structure a broader relationship.
Contributed by John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com. During the heated presidential debate, Republicans aimed at the military’s interest in renewable fuels, with both House and Senate Republicans introducing legislation to prohibit the Pentagon from buying any fuels with a price tag greater than those of traditional fossil fuels. But now....
Technology transfers, whether on a contractual basis or through theft, have long bedeviled companies that want to benefit from China’s cheap labor and 1.3 billion consumers. Automakers, aerospace companies, technology outfits.... it’s the price they have to pay. But when it seeped out that the largely state-owned nuclear industry in France was trying to sell its secrets to China to make a deal, oh là là!
Théâtre Royal de Luxe, a street-theater company in France, decided to sue an evil American multinational giant, or so it seems. But there are complications: Royal de Luxe is at the confluence of political connections, government subsidies, Coca-Cola commercialism, perhaps even world domination—and certainly, awesome art.
Shocked and appalled—that was the reaction to the shopping-season debacle in the US. It was triggered by MasterCard’s ugly report. But now there’s a new term to describe “consumer spending,” “consumer debt,” and ultimately “trade deficits” when they occur as a function of such uplifting concepts as “holiday season” and “Christmas” whose magic is boiled down to just one issue: how much did everyone spend?
Santa Claus has gotten into a snarl-up with Australian immigration over his visitor visa, and he might not be able to deliver his goods.... “A Last Minute Technicality,” a video by Australian comedians Clark and Dawe, 2.5 minutes of hilarity and plenty of jabs at the modern political and bureaucratic world.
“We’re engaging in trench warfare,” proclaimed Alain Afflelou, head honcho and founder of an eyewear company with 1,200 stores in France and other countries. He was talking about the tax fiasco that split France in two. He was done with his country. He’s moving to London. One of France’s so-called fiscal exiles. And now there are “unprecedented waves” of them.
Contributed by George Dorgan. Eurocrats claim that Greece and other periphery countries are on track to gain competitiveness because wages are falling. But wages are only part of the competitiveness story. Cost of labor contains pension schemes, taxes, etc. that might increase with austerity measures. And other production factors, notably capital, are missing.
On Friday before Christmas when nobody was paying attention, when people were elbowing their way through department stores or heading out for vacation, the European Commission issued its report on bank bailouts in the European Union—a dry document with mind-boggling numbers that left out the most important fact.
Corporate subsidies, in an era of fiscal-cliff attacks on Social Security and Medicare, have dodged attention despite their magnitude and absurdity. Take the renewable-fuels subsidy ecosystem—and a train of tankers filled with biodiesel that shuttled back and forth across the US-Canadian border, twelve times, without unloading its cargo. It generated millions of dollars in profits.
Contributed by Chriss Street. Last week, Governor Rick Snyder signed Michigan’s first right-to-work law, which makes it illegal to require workers to join a union or pay union dues. The law was scorned by liberals as destroying jobs at good wages. Yet, GM just announced that it would move production of the iconic Camaro from Canada to Michigan.
One of the pillars of the Japanese economy has been its exports. That pillar has been crumbling for years, but the deterioration this year has progressed at a phenomenal pace. At fault: China and Europe. But beyond the noise, Japanese companies have been investing their valuable yen overseas, and it’s making the deficit structural. An ugly combination.
Contributed by Oilprice.com. We are in an amazing energy boom, but by sweeping the idea of "peak oil" under the rug we are ignoring a fact: the relationship between hydrocarbon reserves and flow rates are not the same as they used to be—reserves have increased but flow rates are not as high or sustainable. An "entirely new world."
“Paradox” is what the New York Times called France’s ability to attract more foreign investment than any country other than China and the US. A paradox because it shouldn’t. Investors should be scared off by labor laws, tax rates, the cost of labor, and mud-wrestling bouts over nationalizing some industrial plants. But turns out, multinational corporations pay practically no income taxes in France. And it has reached the boiling point.
At a yearend Bonenkai party, an official from the Ministry of Finance, the most powerful entity at the core of Japan Inc., let slip that the Bank of Japan wasn’t doing its job; it was just giving money to the banks which bought Japanese government bonds instead of channeling it into the economy. “That’s why the Ministry of Finance is trying to gain control over the Bank of Japan,” he said.
“I’m wondering how much this society can endure before it explodes,” said Georg Pieper, a German psychotherapist who specializes in treating post-traumatic stress disorders following catastrophes, large accidents (including the deadliest train wreck ever in Germany), acts of violence, freed hostages.... But now he was talking about Greece.
I love steaks. Rare. So I’m biased. But now there is the report of a year-long investigation into the potentially deadly industry practice of mechanical tenderization. It has been going on for decades, with innumerable victims. The risks have been known since at least 2003. Yet the industry resists even the most basic labeling requirement that would save lives.