Skip to main content

Let's catch up

In the interests of catching up to the new week following the President's Day holiday, here are some items of interest to help us get back in the swing of things. Enjoy!

(1). The Oil Drum pointed us to the following story from the Telegraph.co.uk, "Cheap solar power poised to undercut oil and gas by half".

The crux of the article: new materials are making solar power cheaper than ever on a per watt basis. Utilities are now concerned that an increasing number of people will use solar power instead of their fossil fuel derived electricity during peak hours. Oh, the horror!

(2). I can't say that I'm an ardent reader of Jim Jubak's investment articles at MSN Money, but the topic of his most recent article seems very interesting.

In, "How long can China pollute for free?", Jubak examines the costs of water and air pollution that arise from China's relentless push for economic growth. While countries such as England and the US took a very long time to embrace environmental responsibility as a cost of doing business, China might be pressured to clean up their act in a much smaller timeframe.

An excerpt from that article:

"Polluting the air or water, releasing toxic amounts of mercury, using so much water that a river runs dry -- these are all what economists call externalities. The costs of these externalities aren't paid by the producers of the pollution but are passed along to third parties -- the general public, in most cases -- in the form of increased illness or higher death rates, and they remain external to the country's GDP accounts.

However, today's externality has a way of becoming tomorrow's on-the-books cost. Just ask any U.S., European or Japanese company about what it costs them to clean up their wastewater, scrub their emissions and safely dispose of their toxic waste today. Those were once externalities -- companies used to simply dump their waste into the air, water and ground. Now disposal is part of the cost of doing business.

That will happen in China, too, someday. Today, however, Chinese companies have a sizable cost advantage over their rivals in the developed world because many of the environmental costs of doing business in the United States, Europe and Japan are still externalities in China. Polluting the air, water and ground at no cost to the company's bottom line makes it easy to undercut the prices charged by companies that don't have a right to pollute for free."

There is definitely an element of "crying foul" in a lot of these articles and news stories on China. I'm seeing a very consistent undercurrent of "unfair advantage" accusations being leveled at China in the media's recent coverage of the country.

Having heard all the reports of China's terrible pollution problems (and other associated growing pains), I'm inclined to agree with the assertion that these alarming trends need to be checked and hopefully, reversed. However, I can't help wondering lately how much of this news is delivered as part of an "info-war" against an up and coming economic superpower.

If it's not complaints about the environmental fallout of their industrial growth, then it's an attack on their currency exchange rate or unfair trade policies, at least in the US press.

I do hope that people will put some of these problems into the proper context (in terms of our own histories and difficulties dealing with these issues) and direct more attention towards helping China and other industrializing nations deal with these problems. If we've really "been there and seen that", then we should have a lot of expertise to lend.

(3). More on emerging-market risks (and opportunities) from Bloomberg in this recent story on political instability and share prices in Thailand.

What, not adventurous enough to suit your needs? Then see, "Vietnam, Zambia Overtake BRIC Stocks as `Frontier' Markets Soar".

(4). The commodity bull market is in full effect. Dig this headline from Bloomberg: "Corn Farms Replace Manhattan Lofts, London Flats as Hottest Real Estate".

Here are the opening paragraphs from that article:

"Farmland from Iowa to Argentina is rising faster in price than apartments in Manhattan and London for the first time in 30 years.

Demand for corn used in ethanol increased the value of crop land 16 percent in Indiana and 35 percent in Idaho in 2006, government figures show. The price of a Soho loft appreciated only 12 percent, while a pied-a-terre in Islington near London's financial district gained 11 percent, according to realtors.

Farmland returns ``will take a quantum leap over the next 18 months,'' after corn prices surged to a 10-year high in February, said Murray Wise, the 58-year-old chairman and chief executive officer of Westchester Group Inc. in Champaign, Illinois, who oversees $460 million of land investments."

Hmmm, farmland in Argentina is up, eh? Do I not recall a certain investment strategist recently recommending Argentinian farmland as an investment while the Bloomberg TV anchor openly laughed off his suggestion?

That strategist is Marc Faber and that video clip is here.

(5). "Fed's Inflation Analysis Ranks With Zimbabwe's: Caroline Baum".

I'm starting to see why Richard Russell holds Caroline Baum's work in such high regard.

As far as we're concerned, you're up to date. Let us know if you have a good story or news item to share.

Popular posts from this blog

The Dot-Com Bubble in 1 Chart: InfoSpace

With all the recent talk of a new bubble in the making, thanks in part to the Yellen Fed's continued easy money stance , I thought it'd be instructive to revisit our previous stock market bubble - in one quick chart. So here's what a real stock market bubble looks like.  Here's what a bubble *really* looks like. InfoSpace in 1999-2001. $QQQ $BCOR pic.twitter.com/xjsMk433H7 — David Shvartsman (@FinanceTrends) February 24, 2015   For those of you who are a little too young to recall it, this is a chart of InfoSpace at the height of the Nasdaq dot-com bubble in 1999-2001. This fallen angel soared to fantastic heights only to plummet back down to earth as the bubble, and InfoSpace's shady business plan , turned to rubble. As detailed in our post, " Round trip stocks: Momentum booms and busts ", InfoSpace rocketed from under $100 a share to over $1,300 a share in less than six months.  In a pattern common to many parabolic shooting stars, the s

Jesse Livermore: How to Trade in Stocks (1940 Ed. E-book)

If you've been around markets for any length of time, you've probably heard of 20th century supertrader, Jesse Livermore . Today we're highlighting his rare 1940 work, How to Trade in Stocks (ebook, pdf). But first, a brief overview of Livermore's life and trading career (bio from Jesse Livermore's Wikipedia entry). "During his lifetime, Livermore gained and lost several multi-million dollar fortunes. Most notably, he was worth $3 million and $100 million after the 1907 and 1929 market crashes, respectively. He subsequently lost both fortunes. Apart from his success as a securities speculator, Livermore left traders a working philosophy for trading securities that emphasizes increasing the size of one's position as it goes in the right direction and cutting losses quickly. Ironically, Livermore sometimes did not follow his rules strictly. He claimed that lack of adherence to his own rules was the main reason for his losses after making his 1907 and

New! Finance Trends now at FinanceTrendsLetter.com

Update for our readers: Finance Trends has a new URL!  Please bookmark our new web address at Financetrendsletter.com Readers sticking with RSS updates should point your feed readers to our new Finance Trends feedburner .   Thank you to all of our loyal readers who have been with us since the early days. Exciting stuff to come in the weeks ahead! As a quick reminder, you can subscribe to our free email list to receive the Finance Trends Newsletter . You'll receive email updates about once every 4-8 weeks (about 2-3 times per quarter).  Stay up to date with our real-time insights and updates on Twitter .