Collective Losses

By |2017-09-29T07:16:35-04:00September 29th, 2017|Global Market Update|

Are people just selfish? Soviet propaganda poster from the 1930s. Source: Eurasianet That’s the question I asked when looking back at the some of the big collectivization movements in the 20th century. After the Communist Revolution in Russia, the central government set food prices too low. Peasants in the countryside chose to consume their produce rather than sell it, and there were food shortages in the cities. The government’s response was to collectivize the farms – giving farmers a small share of a larger, [...]

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Central Banker?

By |2017-07-17T12:21:27-04:00March 16th, 2017|Global Market Update|

What are the most dangerous jobs? Photo Luc Viatour. Source: Wikipedia Several professions come to mind: stunt performers, combat troops, firefighters. But have you ever thought that being a central banker could merit hazard pay? That’s certainly the case in Russia. Ten years ago, their chief bank examiner, Andrey Kozlov, was shot and killed by two gunmen. He had been investigating money laundering and other financial crimes. In Russia at that time, many of the banks were controlled by organized crime groups. He had [...]

Pass/Fail Test?

By |2017-07-17T12:23:09-04:00December 18th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Could Russia become a failed state? Source: Socialist Organizer Almost a century ago the Russian people rose against their leaders. The feckless Romanoff dynasty had presided over a brutal conflict with Germany, mass poverty at home, and brutal repression of dissent. An economic and political crisis forced the Czar to abdicate and a power struggle ensued, ending with the Bolshevist takeover in October 1917. Are there parallels to today? […]

Russian Winter?

By |2017-07-17T12:23:09-04:00December 16th, 2014|Global Market Update|

What’s happening in Russia? Source: Fanpop At 1 am today the Russian Central Bank raised its deposit rate from 10.5% to 17%. Emergency interest rate hikes announced in the middle of the night are not a sign of strength. Their goal is to stop the collapse of the Ruble, which has fallen from 35 to almost 70 to the dollar. A collapsing currency, international sanctions, and plunging oil prices are overwhelming their economy. It’s reminiscent of the collapse of 1998, when Russia defaulted on [...]

A Wounded Bear

By |2017-07-17T12:23:10-04:00December 11th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Are there any problems with lower oil prices? Source: Some economies benefit from lower oil prices, and some are hurt. Among the winners are India and China, since agriculture and manufacturing are so energy-intensive. Also, China has become the world’s largest car market. Among the losers are Iran and Russia, whose budgets depend on significantly higher oil prices. And Russia is the second largest oil exporter in the world, shipping 7 million barrels per day. […]

Peak Oil, Trough Oil

By |2017-07-17T12:23:12-04:00November 21st, 2014|Global Market Update|

What’s up with oil prices? Source: Wikipedia Or, what’s down? When prices hit $145 / barrel in 2008 there was lots of talk of “peak oil.” After all, prices had risen from under $20 / barrel less than 10 years before and there was no supply-shock driving prices. The impetus was growing demand in China, which had joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. In 2004 prices broke out of their two-decade range. No one knew how high they would go. Global demand was [...]

Russian Bear Market?

By |2017-07-17T12:23:17-04:00October 14th, 2014|Global Market Update|

What’s happening with Russia? Source: Wikimedia Commons At the beginning of the year Vladimir Putin had everyone jumpy. His aggressive actions in Crimea and Ukraine had set the world’s teeth on edge. Russian MIGs were testing Finnish and Swedish airspace. How do respond to a great power that insists on a 19th century imperial vision? […]

Back in the USSR?

By |2014-09-18T09:41:43-04:00August 29th, 2014|Global Market Update|

So far the markets have shrugged off Russia’s aggressive actions towards Ukraine and the Crimea. Will this continue? Russia’s expansion in Crimea and eastern Ukraine haven’t affected US markets much, although the German stock market fell over 10% in July. But Ukraine is small, economically, with an economy slightly bigger than Alabama’s. Their principal exports are iron ore and steel. This crisis has set other factors in motion, though. Sweden and Finland have recently tightened their ties to NATO—a natural consequence of their connection [...]

Running in Place

By |2014-06-13T09:22:36-04:00June 13th, 2014|Global Market Update|

Apparently mice like to run on wheels. Some researchers at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands decided to find out whether rodents in the wild like to exercise. They set up a running wheel in their garden next to a dish of food pellets and chocolate, and trained a motion-sensitive infrared camera on the scene. Over the next three years over 200 thousand animals—mice, rats, shrews, and even frogs—took turns on the wheel. Sometimes they couldn’t wait: one large mouse sent a smaller [...]