Commodities investors worry as prices tumble
It has been almost a decade since the high-tech bubble burst. Is the same thing about to happen to a low-tech bubble, as some investment advisers are warning?
Farming may be the world's oldest profession (there is some disagreement about this), and booms and busts have occurred for thousands of years. The latest boom has sent prices of many agricultural commodities to multiyear highs, but they have fallen back rapidly in the last couple of weeks. If that heralds the next bust, its impact is likely to be felt worldwide.
Prices of grain, like wheat and corn, and oilseeds like soybeans have doubled or tripled since the start of 2005, along with prices of industrial commodities like crude oil and copper. In each case the increase was attributed to increasing demand from emerging markets.
As economies grow richer, more buildings and infrastructure are constructed to make them run. As citizens become wealthier, they acquire more of an appetite for meat to make their bodies run. As Alec Walsh, an analyst at Harding, Loevner Management, noted, consumption of pork in China has doubled since 1990. And more meat means more grain: It takes up to five tons of grain to produce a ton of meat.
Walsh invoked an argument for higher grain prices that recalls the one long used to promote the virtues of owning real estate: "The amount of arable land that exists for new crops is finite."
If earnest French films are often criticized and described as poor export products because they are too talky, too motionless or too cynical, you could say de Funès, while wildly funny, was too French in that his humor held no final promise of pink clouds or rainbows.
His answer: "I'm a louse in my films. I'm distrustful, I'm weak. I say bad things about everybody when they turn their backs. If you're looking for a comparison, then I resemble Donald Duck in terms of character."
He also left a tradition here of what could be called brilliant nastiness.
In fact, this is exactly their uniqueness and what's not lost in translation.
Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, said that Bearak "was apparently one of a number of Americans and other foreign nationals rounded up Friday. An American consular official who visited him at the central police station reported that he was being held for 'violation of the journalism laws.' We are making every effort to assure that he is well treated, and to secure his prompt release."
Attackers stormed the 288-foot Le Ponant as it returned without passengers from the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, toward the Mediterranean Sea, said officials with French maritime transport company CMA-CGM.
The Ponant was next scheduled to carry passengers as part of a 10-day, 7-night trip from Alexandria, Egypt, to Valletta, Malta, starting April 19. Prices started at $3,465, not including air fare or taxes.
Pirates seized more than two dozen ships off the Somali coast last year.
Eighty-one spine-crawling pages in a memo that might have been unearthed from the dusty archives of some authoritarian regime and has no place in the annals of the United States. It is must reading for anyone who still doubts whether the abuse of prisoners were rogue acts rather than calculated policy.
Thousands of Russians like myself have been speaking out and standing up for liberty and paying a heavy price. Some of us, like Anna Politkovskaya, have paid the ultimate price. The rest of us have suffered threats, defamation in the media, physical assault, fabricated prosecution and interference or obstruction of our work.
We hope that Bush will not excuse our oppressors, who act in the name of Putin.
Building the social fabric after the disruption of that period has been the work of the subsequent generations - weaving the invisible web of family, neighborhood and national obligations so that people stay in school, attend to their kids and have an opportunity to rise if they play by the rules.
Progress has been slow. Nearly a third of American high school students don't graduate (half in the cities). Seventy percent of African-American kids are born out of wedlock. Poverty rates in Memphis have scarcely dropped.
Few religions admonish their adherents as strongly to contribute to charity as Islam, and caring for orphans brings special blessings. But the Koran also forbids adoption in the Western sense, in which a child is absorbed into the adoptive family on equal footing with birth children. The blood relation between birth parent and child and all the rights and responsibilities it confers are sacrosanct and cannot be imitated in Islamic law.
As a result, a child raised by a family other than its birth family cannot be given that family's name, nor can he inherit his father's property as a birth child would. In addition, the child would be subject to the stringent laws governing relations between men and women.
An adopted son, once he turned 18, could not be permitted see his mother or sisters uncovered, since they lack a blood relationship that would bar them from marrying, and an adopted girl would face similar problems of having to cover herself before male family members. Adoption by foreigners is strictly forbidden.
This thicket of legal issues has led some Muslims to conclude that the whole idea of taking a strange child permanently into ones home is haram, or forbidden under the laws of Islam. This is especially true in countries like Sudan, where Shariah, or Islamic law, is the law of the land.
All that has changed. Admissions to the orphanage have held steady at about 600 a year, but the orphanage has been renovated, and its nurseries are decked out with Snoopy clocks and Care Bear posters on walls painted bright yellow, pink and blue. Nurses are trained to hold and play with the children as they feed and care for them. In 2004, the government passed a new law that said children should be raised in families, not institutions, as much as possible.
"Males typically oversell their abilities while women undersell themselves," said Alex Tosolini, general manager at Procter & Gamble in Poland. Smart leaders, he said, will "adjust men's claims about themselves downward and women's upward to get an accurate reading of reality."
Behind the counter, the shop’s owner, Joseph Grunberg, performed a routine test and delivered his verdict: “Gold plated,” he said.
“I’m shocked,” responded the woman, who would identify herself only as Jessica because of what she said next. “It figures. My boss gave me those earrings right before she fired me.”
"I would have hit the ceiling," Cordelle said, according to the document. "The limit was €125 million for the team and that was recalculated every night by the risk-management department."
Kerviel has told investigators that the €125 million daily cap on unhedged risk exposure was a theoretical rather than a formal limit, which was frequently breached.
Mr. Jin’s factory also makes the sort of thing you expect a Chinese factory to make: it churns out inexpensive clothing, aimed at the European market. Mr. Jin is the classic low-cost, tight-margin, squeeze-every-penny manufacturer, the kind of entrepreneur who has been the backbone of China’s astounding economic rise — and who has also been the primary beneficiary of the low yuan, which has spurred the market for China’s cheap goods. On the day I visited, his work force was making tan jackets under the French brand Camaïeu.
Across the Globe, Hints of More Perils in Housing
But that overvaluation was much lower than in Ireland, where the I.M.F. estimates that house prices were 32 percent higher than fundamentals would support. The Netherlands, Britain, Australia, France and Norway all showed overvaluations of at least 20 percent.
On the other end of the spectrum, the I.M.F. concluded that homes were undervalued in Canada and Austria.
Federline spent over $43,000 on Las Vegas hotels, dining and shopping between May 2007 and January of this year, according to documents filed by Federline's attorney in his custody battle with Spears. The documents were released by the Superior Court on Thursday.
The tabs included $1,445 for clothing at Gianni Versace, $3,863 at TAO nightclub, and $3,008 at the Hard Rock Beach Club.
He appears determined not to be branded a cheap tipper. At Scores strip club, he dropped a cool $2,000 on a $365 meal bill.
Meanwhile, his company, Gooseneck Productions, Inc., spent $841,129 in 2007 while earning $544,075, according to the documents.
Federline had $74,102 in "music production" expenses, but earned only $9,849 in "music income," according to the documents, which did not elaborate.
Human fortunes may be improved, Hawthorne argues, if men and women "strike their roots into unaccustomed earth." It's an apt, rich metaphor for the transformations Lahiri oversees in these pages, in which two generations of Bengali immigrants to America - the newcomers and their hyphenated children - struggle to build normal, secure lives. But Lahiri does not so much accept Hawthorne's notion as test it. Is it true that transplanting strengthens the plant? Or can such experiments produce mixed outcomes? Geography is no guarantee of security. Lahiri shows that people may be felled at any time by swift jabs of chance, wherever they happen to live. Uncontrollable events may assail them. More often, they suffer less dramatic reversals: failed love affairs, alcoholism, even simple passivity - the sort of troubles that seem avoidable to everyone except the person who succumbs to them. Like Laura, the well-meaning narrator of "Brief Encounter," the men and women of Lahiri's stories often find themselves overwhelmed by unexpected passions.
04 April 2008 11:30