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

Friday, August 05, 2011

A note to start the day..
Markets across the Far East including Australia have started sharply down..
This is less profit taking, and more to do with fears concerning the state of Italy and Spain.. and the crises looming over those two economies..
The Nikkei opened down two percent, and as this is written is down more than 4..
It's the same story in Australia, and the rest of the Pacific Rim..
This, in anticipation of unemployment figures from the US..
As it was, the Dow closed down following a record losing day..

And as this trading day begins.. we're watching the FTSE losing more than 0.5% every fifteen minutes in early trading.. The Asian markets closed down on average 4.5%.. and this trend is looking as though it will continue..
Italy opened down 4%, which forced suspension of trading on some stocks.. That, apparently, has been lifted for the time being..
And keep in mind, American unemployment figures will be released later this morning.. The effects of another rise in those out of work, will reverberate around the world..
An update on those unemployment figures..
Hiring picked up slightly in July and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.1%. The modest improvement may.. emphasis on 'may'.. quiet fears of another recession after the worst losses on Wall Street in nearly three years..
Employers added 117,000 jobs last month, according to Labor Department figures.. That's better than the past two months, which were also revised higher..
The gains gave the stock market a small lift a day after the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 500 points..
Stock futures turned positive this afternoon after the report was released.. The report "should lessen fears that the recovery is truly faltering," said Jim O'Sullivan, chief economist at MF Global.. The emphasis on 'should'..
Still, the economy needs twice as many net jobs per month to quickly bring unemployment figures.. The rate has topped 9% in every month except two since the recession officially ended in June 2009..
Businesses added 154,000 jobs across the industrial sector.. But State governments cut 37,000 jobs last month.. Still, 23,000 of those losses were almost entirely because of the shutdown of Minnesota's state government..
But again, the worldwide consequences caused by the state of the American economy continue to be manifest.. Almost £50billion was wiped off the value of the FTSE 100 yesterday, with the listing for the UK's top 100 companies closing at 5393, down 191 points or 3.43%.. wiping out nearly £50billion from its value..
It was the biggest fall on the index for more than two years.. Since last Friday morning, £124.97billion, or 8.17%, has been wiped off its value..
The banking sector has suffered the greatest falls in London - including a 14% drop for state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, whose half-year results revealed a £1.4billion loss..
But there are those suggesting the relief may only be temporary..
"When markets get into one of these negative sentiment spirals, it will take more than one good set of numbers to offset that," according to Nomura economist Peter Westaway..

The Liberal Democrats have their annual Party Conference slated for next month.. and one of the issues to be raised, is the decriminalisation of many 'recreational' drugs..
There is a significant number of delegates who would sooner see the money spent on prosecuting those who use drugs the likes of cannabis, put instead towards rehabilitation and education..
Delegates will debate a motion which would become party policy if it wins support at the Birmingham conference..
But they would still need the agreement of the Conservatives before an official government inquiry could be set up..
This motion will urge the government to set up an expert panel to consider the decriminalisation of personal drug use.. insisting that current drugs laws are "harmful" and "ineffective"..
Drug users would no longer face a prison sentence or a fine but would be required to go for treatment or counselling. Penalties for drug dealing would remain the same as they are now..
The motion states that there is "increasing evidence that the UK's drugs policy is not only ineffective and not cost-effective but actually harmful, impacting particularly severely on the poor and marginalised"..
It continues.. "Individuals, especially young people, can be damaged both by the imposition of criminal records and by a drug habit, and... the priority for those addicted to all substances must be health care, education and rehabilitation, not punishment..
Finally, something eminently sensible to be debated.. with the possibility of real and positive change for this depressed and bewildered society..

While tropical storms are starting to build up in the Caribbean.. China warned residents and alerted emergency relief centers today to prepare for a powerful typhoon forecast to hit the country's heavily populated eastern coast..
Forecasters report that Typhoon Muifa should hit the mainland late tomorrow or early Sunday close to Shanghai.. a commercial hub with a population of 23 million.. the The website of the Shanghai Daily newspaper warned residents to take precautions to prevent injuries and losses..
More than 9,000 fishing vessels were called back to ports in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces while officials in charge of disaster relief centers in the region were told to get ready to disperse their materials, according to the official Xinhua News Agency..
Zhejiang's flood headquarters told authorities in coastal areas to prepare for evacuations, Xinhua said..
An emergency message from the U.S. government to Americans living or traveling in East China suggested they "stock up on emergency supplies of food, water, and cash in case of storm-related power outages."..

We've not paid that much attention to the Middle East of late.. For the most part, it had become a non-story.. with the same protests continuing what was the 'Arab Spring'.. But..tens of thousands of people marched across Syria on the first Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.. stepping up defiance of President Bashar al-Assad's bloody crackdown on unrest as his tanks again shelled Hama and massed outside another restive city..
This is one conflict that is problematic for the West.. There is certainly no chance of any intervention the likes of that seen in Libya, yet it reflects badly on our politics, which appears to favour freedom fighters in one Arab country, while ignoring another completely..
It took 'til last night, for the UN to even issue a formal condemnation of the violence against civilians in Syria.. a move that should have been made weeks ago..
Ramadan started this past week.. and still al Assad's tanks and soldiers shoot and kill unarmed protesters..
Our entire strategy in the Middle East needs a re-think here.. If we can justify intervention in one theater.. we must be prepared either to support this movement as a whole, or pull out entirely..
Hama residents feared higher casualty figures than the 135 estimated killed.. since the military assault began on Sunday on the city of 7 hundred thousand people in central Syria..

Something else to watch, is the investigation into the dealings of Christine Laguard when she was France's Finance Minister.. The IMF was aware this investigation was imminent, but at the time she was still thought to be the best for the job..

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