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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Thursday, August 04, 2011

And as we mentioned.. now attention is turned away from the American legislative nonsense.. it has returned with a vengeance to the Euro, and the problems facing the Eurozone..
New York's Dow Jones index fell more than 3% in early trading, while Frankfurt's Dax and London's FTSE 100 indexes dropped almost 3.5%..
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's warning that the sovereign debt crisis is spreading spooked the markets.. and 'spooked' may well be an understatement..
And gold as an investment, something we have touted for years now.. sees the value of that advice evidenced by the metal hitting a new all-time high at $1,677/troy ounce..
One can safely bet Gordon Brown wishes he hadn't sold off this country's gold reserves some 5 years ago..
Banks were hit particularly hard, with Lloyds Banking Group down 9.9% and Royal Bank of Scotland falling 7% in London.. Societe Generale losing 6.9% in Paris.. and Commerzbank dropping 6.8% in Frankfurt..
Miners also suffered, with Vedanta Resources slumping 9.5% and Xstrata and Eurasian Natural Resources falling more than 8% in London..
The oil price also slumped on fears that a weaker global recovery would hit demand.. US light crude fell by more than $4 a barrel, or almost 5%, to $87.63. London Brent fell by almost $5 a barrel to $108.85..
Barroso warned that the eurozone debt crisis was spreading beyond the so-called periphery nations of Greece, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland..
He said markets "remain to be convinced that we are taking appropriate steps to resolve the crisis"..
Now the question arises.. 'what can possibly be done, to reverse the damage caused by the collapse of our 'credit society'.. The public is going to take some convincing that legislators have even a glimmer of an idea, following this past week in the US..
Mind you, it's not all bad news today.. Ten years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the American psyche has bounced back better than psychologists predicted.. But that doesn't mean the terrorist attacks didn't leave scars that are only now coming to light..
Psychologists already know that those who experienced loss or personally witnessed the devastation, such as those in New York.. Washington, D.C... and Pennsylvania, were, and continue to be harder hit emotionally than those around the country who were not personally involved.. But a small army of researchers who for a decade have been exploring the emotional wreckage of 9/11 say psychologists overestimated the number of people who would suffer long-term effects — and underestimated the resilience humans can muster in the wake of tragedy..
"The problem with a catastrophic collective trauma like 9/11 is it's not just the place and the buildings that were destroyed.. Many aspects of our social lives have also been distorted and altered," according to psychologist Billie Pivnick of New York, who is among an expected 12,000 psychology professionals in Washington as the American Psychological Association opens its annual meeting today..
It will be of more interest to see what 'long-term effects' this financial debacle has caused.. Unintended consequences are a fact of life in Washington.. as policymakers intent on accomplishing one thing through changes in law or policy fail to anticipate other ways that markets.. businesses.. and consumers might react.. And big actions can sometimes have big negative effects..
The enactment of Prohibition in the 1920s was meant to enhance America's probity, for instance, but it also drove legitimate liquor merchants out of business and opened a lucrative new black-market business to organized crime.. Social Security has saved many seniors from poverty, but many economists also believe it discourages people from saving as much as they should for retirement..
For all the rancor and partisan opportunistic plans.. there were good intentions behind the recent deal to cut government spending and start reducing the national debt, which stands at about $14.3 trillion.. That figure, by the way, reflects nearly the size of the entire U.S. economy..
The debt problem is a real issue, not a partisan one.. if it keeps growing unchecked, America's debt will become unsustainable, requiring far too much taxpayer money just to pay interest on all the money the government borrows.. The Budget Control Act that President Obama signed on August 2 will begin to address the problem, with widespread spending cuts that will be modest over the next two years, then intensify..
Intensify to what degree is the question.. We could be looking at a slowing economy which will do nothing to reduce unemployment..
There will certainly be more pressure on the national debt as unemployment rises and the tax base shrinks..
More quantitative easing by the Fed.. Nobody wants to see a third big bond-buying program..already dubbed QE3..and that includes Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and most of his central bank colleagues.. Even though the Fed has done more to stave off financial calamity than any other government agency, it's become a whipping boy for government-bashers.. and Tea Partiers in particular who want Washington to keep its hands off the economy.. Plus, the Fed has exhausted its most effective monetary-policy tools..since it has already driven interest rates as low as they can go..leaving it dependent upon more arcane measures to shore up the economy..
Just as a side note here.. our Bank of England has once again kept the base interest rate at 0.5%.. an attempt to stave off inflation..
But back to the States.. Even more uncertainty. For a while, there was hope that all the ugly bickering might produce a decisive debt deal that cleared the way for agreement on several contentious issues, so the government could turn to other pressing the jobs crisis.. Instead, the final deal left all of the toughest matters to be decided later, beginning with a "supercommittee" of an equal number of Republican and Democratic lawmakers that has to come up with $1.5 trillion in spending-cuts-to-be-named-later by the end of this year..
Best of luck to them..

Almost £50bn has been wiped off the value of the FTSE as the EU president warned the eurozone crisis is spreading..
The FTSE ended at 5393, down 191 points or 3.43%, taking £49.8bn from its value..
It's the biggest fall on the FTSE for more than two years..
Since last Friday morning, £124.97billion, or 8.17%, has been wiped off the value of the FTSE 100...The biggest fallers were Inmarsat, down 19.3%, Lloyds Banking Group down 10.19% and Vedanta down 9.39%..
The falls come amid concern about American debt and the state of the eurozone countries..
Must admit, those concerns have a firm basis in fact.. Thie figures today show global stock markets plunging today as investors panicked at the thought that America could slide back into recession and Italy and Spain may need bailouts..
The Dow Jones in the US was down nearly 3 per cent in early trading.. Germany’s Dax and the French Cac fell 3.4 per cent and 4 per cent respectively..
The fears were exacerbated after the President of the European Commission warned that the Eurozone debt crisis is spreading and suggested that future bailout funds may need to be larger..

Now to any normal person, the knowledge we had a Freedom of Information Act passed into law, that freedom of information is what we would get..
Apparently not..
The government says its plans to make more data publicly available will usher in a new era, dubbed "Freedom of Information 2.0"..
This new government The consultation aims to come up with a list of roles and responsibilities for a new Public Data Corporation, responsible for handling transparency..
Issues include how public bodies can be held accountable if they fail to open up.. how data can be most efficiently collected and presented to the public.. and how far information should be made available to businesses to potentially profit from..
Just goes to show.. what a Bill is named, does not reflect the manner in which it will be enacted..

If there were any still wondering what effects this worldwide net would have on the man on the street.. MPs could be forced into a landmark vote on the restoration of the death penalty because of a new e-petitions scheme..
Commons leader Sir George Young has already said they should not ignore voters and shy away from debating the issue..
Sir George warned it would damage democracy to ignore strong opinions among members of the public "or pretend that their views do not exist"..
He spoke out ahead of the publication of the first submissions to the new e-petitions scheme, which could see the most popular appeals discussed in Parliament..
Among the most prominent is one calling for legislation allowing child killers and those who murder on-duty police officers to face execution..
The next logical step, would be to allow registered voters to be issued a code, to allow them to cast a ballot without leaving for comfort of their easy chair..
In light of the recent hacking stories.. this expansion of the franchise to laptops might be the daftest move yet..

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