Merrill Lynch has turned bearish on the US economy, judging by its 10 major macro themes of the past week.
The Top 100 Ways Global Warming Will Change Your Life. Say goodbye to French wines, baseball and the Great Barrier Reef. Say hello to massive amounts of mosquitoes, the northwest passage and hurricanes ...
... and someone alert Stephen Colbert: More Bear Attacks. Earlier this year, Moscow warned its citizens to beware of brown bear attacks. In Russia, it's been too hot in the winter for bears to sleep. When bears can't hibernate, they get very grouchy and become "unusually aggressive."[Der Spiegel]
Over at Big Orange HQ, EmperorHadrian discusses problems with the US Constitution and the Roman constitution in Hadrian's Forum: Flaws in the Design of the Roman, US Senate; US Constitution, Part 1 . How are the two related? Well, when America's founding fathers were tinkering with a constitutional framework, one of the models they used was the Roman Republic. The whole series by EmperorHadrian is very good.
By the way, I'm watching HBO's Rome series on DVD. my wife is watching it too, albeit often with her hands over her eyes during the especially gruesome parts. This series will rid you of any fantasy that Rome was an idealized utopia. We just finished disk 3 (out of 6) of the first season. An acquaintance at work told me: "At the end of the last disk of the first season, there is a scene of violence that will make your wife wince, you will laugh, and you'll remember me when you see it." Well, now I MUST watch the whole first season!
Here's what we might be driving in the not-too-distant future: The Hypercar.
Other news ... China Investment, $200 Billion Sovereign Wealth Fund, Begins Operations China Investment Corp., the nation's $200 billion sovereign wealth fund, starts operations today as the government seeks to boost returns on the world's biggest foreign-exchange reserves.
U.S. Stocks Post Biggest September Gain Since 1998 After Interest Rate Cut U.S. stocks rose this week to complete the steepest September advance since 1998 as the Federal Reserve's interest-rate cut helped energy and raw-material companies lead the market's recovery from a summer rout.
Dollar Falls to Record Low Versus Euro on Speculation Fed Will Cut Further The dollar fell to the lowest against the euro since the 13-nation currency's debut in 1999 as slowing growth and inflation increased speculation that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates a second time this year.
Gold Rises to Highest Since 1980, Extends Rally, on Dollar Drop, Oil Gain Gold rose, extending a rally to the highest price since January 1980, as the declining value of the dollar and surging energy costs boosted the appeal of the precious metal as an alternative investment. Silver also gained.
Wheat Rises, Extends Rally to Record, on Smaller-Than-Expected U.S. Supply Wheat rose, touching a record high for the 23rd time in the past three months, after the government said U.S. production and supplies were smaller than analysts expected, reducing already-low global inventories.
Corn, Soybean Futures Fall as USDA Report Shows Unexpected Drop in Demand Corn fell the most in two months and soybeans dropped from a three-year high after a government report showed unexpected declines in demand for the two biggest U.S. crops.
Rainy Weekend Gaming
It's been raining and we hosted a game night at our house last night. Here's what was on the table last night and this morning ...
#1 Incan Gold (Diamant). This game is easy enough that the 5-year-old can grasp it, and it finishes in 15 minutes. Players venture into a lost Incan temple by turning up cards from a deck, sharing the gems they find on the way down. Before the next card is turned up, you have the chance to leave the temple and stash your finds, including any gems you get on the way out. You can also grab artifacts for even more money.
Why would you leave? Because the deck also contains hazards -- snakes, flames, mummies, spiders and rockfalls. When a duplicate hazard turns up (such as a second rockfall), anyone left in the shaft is killed and loses the gems they got this turn. The trick is, the more players that leave, the bigger your share in the next card will be.The game, invented by elite game designer Alan Moon, was called Diamant in the original German, but redesigned for the American market as Incan Gold.
#2 Monsters Menace America. You can find this at Toys R Us for about $25.
Each player is one of six Giant Monsters, stomping across a map of the USA in search of cities to destroy. The monsters run the gamut from the classic (enormous lizards and gargantuan apes) to the slightly more unconventional (giant walking eyeball), and each has its own set of attributes and powers.
Ingeniously, everyone also controls an arm of the military, which can be used to attack and weaken the other monsters on the board. The battle escalates until all the monsters duke it out in a free-for-all, mano-a-monstrocity Monster Challenge.
#3 Rummikub. This one is too advanced for the 5-year-old, but the 8-year-old plays it to win. Similar to the Rummy that you play with cards - you try to get rid of all your tiles by forming numbers into runs of 3 tiles or more, or 3 to 4 of a kind. The colors of the numbers on the tiles are like card suits. This game may start rather uneventfully, but when the players start putting more and more tiles in play, the options for your upcoming turns can become more complex, challenging, and exciting#4 Jenga. The classic tower building game is a challenge for all ages, and the 5-year-old is especially good at it (he has no fear, and great hand-eye coordination). The tower consists of 54 wooden rectangular bricks, in layers of 3, placed at right angles to each other. Each player in turn, removes one brick from anywhere below the highest complete storey and places it on the top of the tower, at right angles to the blocks immediately below it. A complete 3-block storey must be completed before starting another. Only one hand may be used at a time.
#5 Horse-Opoly. This is my 8-year-old daughter's favorite game, but I won it this morning. It's a property trading game based on our buying different breeds of horses and setting up bales of hay and barns on property groups. My token was the horsefly.