Monday, June 21, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Also, a nice video report from the BBC here
One striking feature is the belief in an outsider plot organized by the US and South Korea. From the NYT piece
At least two of those interviewed in China hewed to the official propaganda line that North Korea was a victim of die-hard enemies, its impoverishment a Western plot, its survival threatened by the United States, South Korea and Japan.
South Korea’s charge that North Korea sank one of its warships, the Cheonan, in March was just part of the plot, the party official’s wife said.
“That’s why we have weapons to protect ourselves,”
Also, it seems like a substantial part of the population is employed by the state on paper, but they don't actually do any work for it. They pay the company to make sure they are reported present so that they don't get caught by the state.
On paper, he said, a Chongjin state construction company employs him. But the company has few supplies and no cash to pay its employees. So like more than a third of the workers, the worker said, he pays roughly $5 a month to sign in as an employee on the company’s daily log — and then toil elsewhere.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
I've probably posted these before but they're still neat: iconic photographs recreated in Lego.
Legos photography remix"
Friday, June 4, 2010
THE sovereign debt crisis has a new potential casualty with the new government of Hungary raising the possibility of default. The adminstration may be following the classic path of an incoming chief executive - blame all your problems on the previous management - but needs to learn some market-handling skills. Don't even mention the word default. It is a bit like hesitating when your spouse asks if you're having an affair; your subsequent guilt tends to be assumed. As it is, Hungary can expect to pay more to borrow.
Hungary was expected to have a budget deficit of 4.5% of GDP this year (figures from the Economist Intelligence Unit); that seems to have jumped to 7% on the new government's numbers. According to the OECD, its gross debt-to-GDP ratio is around 90%, the level at which Reinhart and Rogoff argue tends to generate problems. (The country already had one bailout, in 2008.) It is not in the euro zone and its currency, the forint, has been falling since March. Its current account is roughly in balance. Inflation is running at almost 6%, unemployment is in double digits and GDP is forecast to show a small decline this year.
Credit default swaps on Hungarian debt jumped 83 basis points to 393bp, according to CMA Datavision (by way of comparison, Portugal is around 376 and Greece 787). The economy is small (around $150 billion on World Bank figures) but even a small European country defaulting would not be good for sentiment at the moment.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Louisiana - Oil spill - BP - United States - Bird"
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Here is the video: