Wednesday, 30 May 2012

No wonder Japan has had a lost decade

Plowing thorugh posts on Zero Hedge, my eye alights on a telling phrase in this one:
Bruce Kovner expressed the idea more eloquently when he said, “I have the ability to imagine configurations of the world different from today and really believe it can happen. I can imagine...that the dollar can fall to 100 yen”. I am sure you are nodding in agreement, except Bruce was saying this when the USDJPY was well over 200, not today's rate of 80!
I'm used to thinking of quantitative easing — not the "official" kind that we've had twice so far in the U.S., but the unofficial, continuous overproduction of money throughout the financial system, resulting in huge oceans of dollars washing up on foreign shores — as largely an attempt to inflate away debts (and future debts too, of course), but that phrase puts it in context. Wikipedia tells us more: from 239 yen/dollar in 1985 to just under 80 today, that represents an enormous currency strengthening for Japanese exporters vis-à-vis their principal export market.

I've been mentally dismissing rumours that the U.S. is attempting to do the same thing to the renminbi, but perhaps they are.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Health fascism

It's quite common, at least on the blogs that I read, to hear campaigners against smoking, drinking and overeating decried as "fascists". One might have thought that this was just a little bit of name calling. Apparently not.

According to Proctor:
Nazi Germany was ... decades ahead of other countries in promoting health reforms that we today regard as progressive and socially responsible... the Nazis conducted the most aggressive antismoking campaign in modern history... Hitler's government passed a wide range of public health measures, including restrictions on asbestos, radiation, pesticides, and food dyes. Nazi health officials introduced strict occupational health and safety standards, and promoted such foods as whole-grain bread and soybeans. These policies went hand in hand with health propaganda that, for example, idealized the Führer's body and his nonsmoking, vegetarian lifestyle.
Ah yes, a non-smoking vegetarian. Now it all makes sense.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Today's "wow!" moment...

Comparing absolute numbers, Israel — a country of just 7.1 million people — attracted close to $2 billion [in 2008] in venture capital, as much as flowed to the UK, Germany and France combined. (…) In addition to boasting the highest density of start-ups in the world (a total of 3,850, one for every 1,844 Israelis), more Israeli companies are listed on the Nasdaq than all companies from the entire European continent.

From Start-up Nation, the story of Israel economic Miracle, hat tip Frédéric Filloux.