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

Friday, August 19, 2011

While it's still early Friday morning.. a few notes to start the day..
After just a few days of calm, stock markets heaved again yesterday, sending major American indexes down as much as 5% on persistent worries about the economy and Europe’s debt problems..
The turmoil of last week returned with a vengeance as investors dumped stocks of companies that would suffer if worldwide growth slowed and the United States.. in particular.. slipped into another recession..
Of all the disappointing U.S. economic news released on yesterday.. it was a drop in factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region that most unnerved investors.. Data from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank.. viewed as a forward-looking gauge of U.S. manufacturing.. dropped to the lowest level since March, 2009.. The survey of factories showed declining expectations for a range of activities, including employment, shipments and prices.. The poll was conducted Aug. 8 to 16, a period of wild stock market volatility..
But the declines yesterday began in Asia and in Europe.. where an 'unidentified' bank had resorted to borrowing from the European Central Bank.. hinting of strains in the banking system that some fear, could ripple to the United States..
Europe’s chronic debt problem continues to plague the Continent’s banks because so many of their assets are invested in the region’s troubled countries..
Investors rushed into United States Treasuries as a safe haven, despite unease about how the government will address its deficit and economic slowdown. Bond prices rose and the yield on the 10-year bond fell below 2 percent for the first time since at least the early 1960s..
Stock markets in Australia and New Zealand have opened lower in early trading
Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 117.2 points, or 2.8% at 4,134.1 this morning..
New Zealand's NZX 50 fell 36.35 points, or 1.1 percent, to 3,249.86 in early morning trading..

And as this day's progressed.. Stock market turmoil continued to sweep markets worldwide again, in the face of the same problems and questions about slowing economic growth and the ability of banks and governments to cope with debt repayment..
But after steep declines in Asia and Europe.. stocks on Wall Street found their footing in the first hour of trading, ahead of the weekend and on a day when analysts expect low volumes..
The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, which lost 4.5% yesterday, was up 0.7% in today’s morning session..
With deep concerns about the Eurozone and global economic growth overshadowing the financial markets.. it is not at all clear whether any gains will stick throughout the trading session..
All of Europe’s major stock indexes were down in mid-afternoon trading, though they had recovered somewhat from the session’s lows.. The Euro Stoxx 50 index was off 1.0%.. Banks were among the biggest losers once again..
Asia.. which had missed the worst of the selling Thursday.. suffered painful losses today.. The Nikkei 225 index in Japan closed down 2.5%, and the key market indices in Singapore and Hong Kong closed down more than 3%..
The losses reflected an accumulation of bad news, including feeble economic data in the United States and Europe.. and signs that some banks were having trouble borrowing on the interbank market.. Tension on money markets.. which some analysts said was overblown.. awoke unpleasant memories of the seizure in interbank lending that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008..
“It is specifically risk on, risk off,” said George Rusnak, National Director of fixed income for Wells Fargo.. “Everybody is taking risk off the table.. This is probably going to be a trend over the next several weeks,” adding “There is not a lot of robust trading going on right now.”..
Rusnak and other analysts again noted that concerns have mounted related to the banking sector, especially with respect to the exposure of American banks to European counterparts..
“Really what it boils down to is ripple effects,”..
JPMorgan Chase & Co. lowered its growth forecast early today.. One analyst said business sentiment.. household wealth.. and global growth all look worse than just a few weeks earlier.. Other economists warn that a global recession looks increasingly likely..
Gold set a record high Friday on safe-haven buying but U.S. stocks and commodities rebounded after the Greenback plunged to a record low against the Japanese yen on speculation authorities will not halt the yen’s surge..
U.S. stocks, after paring early losses, turned lower, as crude oil and other commodities rebounded on the dollar’s slump..
The dollar fell as low as 75.941 yen on trading platform EBS.. It last traded at 76.245 yen, down 0.4%..
Traders were emboldened by a Wall Street Journal report citing Japan’s top currency official as saying that Japanese authorities do not plan to intervene in the market often..
The dollar’s slump galvanized commodity markets, where crude oil prices rose almost 2%.. ICE Brent October crude rose $1.93 to $108.92 a barrel.
And while it becomes tedious to be the harbinger of bad, then worse news.. we cannot see, at the moment, anything that can concievably be done to improve this outlook.. And we're nowhere near the bottom, yet..

Keeping an eye on Asia..
The Indian government eased its latest political crisis, but while all eyes were on the circus in the streets of the capital, a problem that may in the end prove far greater lurked unaddressed in the background..
The Indian National Congress-led government has struck a deal that will see anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare leave prison today and begin a 15-day fast for a new anti-graft law.. Street protests are expected to die down as a result..
But the issue once more dominated parliament, and consumed the energy of senior political figures Thursday at a critical time when, many in the Indian business community say, the economy ought to be the focus..
India has been somewhat protected from recent global economic gyrations because of the huge role domestic consumption plays in driving its growth.. But recent events in the West have caused a slowdown of foreign-capital inflows, as nervous investors shun emerging markets.. And that, combined with persistent near-double-digit inflation and a series of interest-rate hikes.. have Indian business leaders worried that growth will not hit the 8% to 9% target that government envisioned for the year.. and paralysis over the Hazare crisis, and other political issues.. has sidelined the reform legislation that was their hope for economic salvation..
The current session of parliament was slated to pass a number of bills seen as critical to the health of the economy.. including laws to streamline investment, land acquisition and foreign partnerships..
Now it seems that few if any of these will make it through the house before this session ends on the 8th of September..
The next session begins in November..

The aftermath of four nights of mindless violence and thievery.. the prison population has increased by more than 100 a day over the past week as Courts process cases of rioting and looting.. and the word from the Prison Governors Association is, that if this goes on for much longer.. there'll be no room for any more..
Normally.. the prison population actually decreases this time of year.. with those finishing their sentences exceeding those starting off..
But not this year..
There are those who are looking at those being prosecuted.. at their backgrounds.. their general education.. who are disagreeing with the bare assessment that this was a 'simple expression of hopelessness.. a sign of the collapse of British society's framework of ethic and community..'..
There are those who were on the streets, protecting their properties.. and if some can cherish a sense of propriety.. then all can..
It is a deliberate choice, not to..
In the meantime, our prisons are filling up..

The word from our Immigration Minister this afternoon is, that those convicted of crimes related to the riots and who are here on visas.. student or work.. will serve their time here and then be sent home immediately..
Yet another bone for the Asian and Muslim communities to worry..

We've not heard much about the American charges Domenique Strauss-Kahn is still facing.. The spotlight, for the time being, has swept away from this issue.. at least for the most part..
When a French magazine reported on the leaked medical records of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser earlier this week, lawyers on both sides of the case scrambled to provide competing interpretations..
But legal analysts say that.. despite its incendiary language.. the report is unlikely to be a game-changer in either a criminal or civil trial..
The medical report.. as described by L'Express.. contains two areas of evidence that could bolster Nafissatou Diallo's account of the incident.. observations about her physical condition, and the story she told doctors about the alleged assault..
According to the magazine, the report gives "rape" as the cause of her injuries.. But that statement reflects only her account to doctors..
"That's not a medical conclusion," said Matthew Galluzzo, a former sex crimes prosecutor in Manhattan..
"If I fell off my bicycle and hit my head on the sidewalk, and I tell the doctor that it was the result of someone hitting me with a wrench, they're going to put down.. 'Cause: assault.'.. They're not investigators in that sense.".
Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said in a statement that the report did not document any injuries "at all," but showed "common conditions consistent with many possible causes other than a sexual assault."
Strauss-Kahn.. should this issue be dealt with quickly, could still be considered as an alternative for the Socialist Party to Nicholas Sarkozy.. who's popularity in the polls is at an all time low.. with elections coming up next Spring..

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