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Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Charts on Gold, Oil & The Dollar -- and Plenty of News You Can Use

Analysts said this week -- with some U.S. markets closing early on Friday for the Labor Day holiday -- would likely be characterized by volatile prices and low trading volumes.

News of Interest


U.S. and Global Economies Slipping in Unison

Only a few months ago, some economists still offered hope that robust expansion could continue in much of the world even as the United States slowed. Foreign investment was expected to keep replenishing American banks still bleeding from their disastrous bets on real estate and to provide money for companies looking to expand. Overseas demand for American goods and services was supposed to continue compensating for waning demand in the States. Now, high energy prices, financial systems crippled by fear, and the decline of trading partners have combined to choke growth in many major economies. The International Monetary Fund expects global growth to slow significantly through the end of this year, dipping to 4.1 percent from 5 percent in 2007.

How to stop the next bubble

"The financial crisis has shown that markets are bubble-prone and that laissez-faire regulation doesn’t work. The authorities need to get a grip if we are to avoid a mega-bubble. But we may need an even deeper crisis for that to happen."


Columbian Bank and Trust Company, of Topeka, Kansas, is the latest bank to fail. Can things get worse? Heck, yeah! Check out the following chart from Calculated Risk …

From Calculated Risk: even with the failure of almost 3,000 banks and thrifts during the S&L crisis, the overall economy stayed fairly healthy with only a mild-to-moderate recession starting in July 1990.

Libor Signals Credit Seizing Up as Banks Balk at Lending in Money Markets Most of the bond strategists and salesmen that Resolution Investment Management Ltd.'s Stuart Thomson talked to last August expected the credit crunch to be long over by now. Instead, money markets show there's no end in sight, and it may even worsen.


Organized Crime Groups Dump Weak US Dollar For Euro

The weakened US dollar has fallen out of favor with organized crime groups to pay for drug shipments or to settle scores, a Canadian government report said Friday.


Pakistani Government On Brink Of Collapse

Pakistan's ruling coalition was at risk of collapsing Monday if its junior partner carries out a threat to quit unless judges ousted by ex-President Pervez Musharraf are restored immediately.

Taleban winning war (in Pakistan), says Zardari

The Pakistani Taleban have "the upper hand" and should be put on the list of banned organisations in Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto's widower has said.


Olympics disappoint China business owners

Many owners of small restaurants, hotels and shops in Beijing are wearing long faces this summer, especially those who poured their life savings into buying businesses or sprucing up their shops ahead of the Games. About half a million foreign visitors were expected in Beijing this month. But many businesspeople think that because of stricter visa rules and other hassles, there are no more here now than there were last August, when 420,000 visitors from abroad came to the capital. In July, Air China, the nation's flagship carrier, saw its international passenger traffic fall by 19% from a year earlier.

China's Economic Gains Give Way to Hazy Future

In the next few years, China will cross the threshold to a majority-urban society. China's urbanization rate is about 40% to 45% now, well below levels of about 75% in most of Western Europe and Latin America, but statistics show that growth in China's urban population is already slowing.

China's 1.3 billion people each consumed the equivalent of 1.4 tons of oil in energy last year, a relatively low figure. If each Chinese was to consume the same amount of energy as each person in the U.S. does -- the equivalent of 7.82 tons of oil -- then China alone would consume nearly as much energy as the entire world does now.

So far, China's government is falling behind in its drive to cut the amount of energy required to produce each yuan of economic output. It managed a reduction of just 2.9% in the first half, less than last year's 3.7%


Mining Industry Shifts on Bad News

Weaker commodity prices and higher costs are starting to take a toll on the global mining industry as the billions of dollars being spent on new projects could take years to recoup.

Demand for resources by China and other emerging markets still is expected to soar in the years ahead.

Some analysts view the recent mine closures as bullish for commodity prices in the long run, because the moves suggest companies are imposing more financial discipline than in past booms. As miners curb output, it could help prop up prices.

Still, the economics of mining have shifted drastically in recent years. The cost of energy to run mining trucks and other equipment has skyrocketed, while steel and other building materials also are more expensive.

Commodities Hint of Bottom as Mines Close, Crop Supplies at Five-Year Lows Corn and soybeans have rebounded as reduced crop yields push U.S. stockpiles to near five-year lows. Oil has reversed on U.S.-Russian tensions. Nickel has turned after Xstrata Plc closed a Dominican Republic plant.

Corn, Soybeans Jump as Midwest Crop Tour Forecasts Smaller U.S. Harvests Corn and soybeans gained after Professional Farmers of America said harvests in the U.S. will be smaller than forecast by the government as dry weather in August hurt Midwest crops already stunted by flooding in June.

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