Thursday, September 25, 2008

China Launched Manned Spaceship


China's spaceship Shenzhou 7 has been successfully launched at 21:10 local time. President Hu Jin Tao expressed his congratulations.

The spaceship is manned with a crew of three astronauts whose journey to space should last 100 hours. Its actual altitude at 18:51 CET is 262,5 km.

The day before, Al-Jazeera already reported about the preparations of that mission that is intended to be the first step on China's way to the moon.

It is reported that Chinese astronauts used to be treated with Chinese herbal medicine before and after their mission with Shenzhou 5 and Shenzhou 6. Such, it can be predicted that Shenzhou 7 astronauts have been treated equally to avoid one of them falling ill.
By the way, when it comes to name Chinese astronauts in the Western media, they are often called "taikonauts", an expression related to the word "tai kong yuan 太空员" that is used in the Chinese language for "astronaut".

The vice-director of China's institute for rocket research, Lu Yu, in an interview with People's Daily online.

UPDATE (September 27, 2008): First Chinese Spacewalk

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

La France Et L'Asie Centrale

Le Premier Ministre François Fillon a annoncé l'envoi de moyens supplémentaires (hélicoptères, drones, moyens d'écoute) à l'Afghanistan. Lors d'assentiment parlementaire sur le maintien des forces armées françaises il a aussi dénoncé "le mensonge et la désinformation", à propos du compte-rendu de l'OTAN. Les soldats ont toujours eu des munitions et ont pu communiquer, a affirmé F. Fillon. Selon J.L. Georgelin, le "compte-rendu" provient du "chef du détachement" des forces spéciales américaines. Le maintien des troupes a été opposé par la minorité de la Gauche.

D'autres nouvelles de la région:

Des militants talibans présumés ont enlevé plus de 150 ouvriers afghans dans l'ouest de l'Afghanistan.

Le consul général d'Afghanistan à Peshawar, dans le nord-ouest du Pakistan, a été enlevé par des inconnus. Ça c'est passé au même jour où l'hôtel Marriott à Islamabad, estimé comme un lieu de haute sécurité, a été détruit par une bombe camion. Entre les morts et blessés il y a eu beaucoup d'étrangers.

Toute l'information dans BFM TV / France,
23 septembre 2008.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

U.S.A. - Political veterans advising the future President

The Next President - A World of Challenges -
CNN's Christiane Armanpour discussing foreign politics with former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Warren Christopher. How would they advise the next U.S. president to decide. Life transmission from George Washington University / New York.

Here what the former secretaries of state said. Unable to deliver all of the comments, I could not refrain from presenting you at least some important stances. Maybe you'll find more on the internet:

Madeleine Albright:
- U.S. efforts to establish NATO membership with Ukraine and Geogia should be carried forward as it is up to Russia's neighbours to decide themselves. Russia should not have anything against it.
- As to Iran's nuclear ambitions there's no need to vilify Ahmadi Nejad by getting too tough on Iran. Such kind of U.S. response could only lead to a strenghening of Ahmadi Nejad's position who is not the only person of importance in a very complicated Iranian society that is not yet fully understood by the West.
- "I'm supporting Senator Obama."

James Baker:
U.S. should take the lead in finding a global response to climate change.

Henry Kissinger:
U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq but not in a situation of political pressure.

Colin Powell:
Says he is a close friend of John McCain. Nevertheless, he would not hesitate to advise McCain's opponent Obama to the best of his abilities as he, C. Powell, feels as an American in the first place which should count more than party politics; - citation: "We have to overcome this."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Global Shaking of Financial Markets

Update for March 20, 2009, further down !
- The World Slipping into Recession -

Financial turmoil rises as one of the greatest U.S. investment banks, Lehman Bros., finally collapses. As related companies are also filing for bankruptcy, a hitherto unknown drop of the Dow Jones Industrial index for more than 500 points (closing quotation at 10:00 PM CET) is the result. It is seen as the heaviest drop since September 9/11.
The financial meltdown even affects European institutes like the British Barclays Bank and the German Commmerzbank (both lost more than 9% today), thus forcing the EU to intervene.
This happens only shortly after the U.S. government's unique decision to override and buy out Merrill Lynch by providing a sum of 50 billion $ and the government's earlier support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when both institutes stumbled over the recently reported home-made mortgage crisis. Its only natural that U.S. federal authorities are neither willing nor able to grant a similar support to Lehman, even though this will result in thousands of bankers loosing their jobs. All of the development seems to indicate the dramatic build-up of a global financial crisis. [Source: CNN]

Next bad news: U.S. insurance giant AIG also struggling.

Update for September 17, 2008:

morning news:
Insurance giant AIG is expected to be relieved by U.S. federal authorities in order to avoid diastrous ripple effects [CNN / Al-Jazeera].

evening news:

* Parts of Lehman Bros. are now going to be taken over by the British institute Barclays Bank.

* AIG shares continue to nosedive on Wednesday while an AIG bailout by U.S. federal authorities, who are now granting them an 85 billion $ loan for rescue, renews fears about the stability of financial markets. The word goes that AIG had already been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for a certain time.

* Russian trading halted as stocks plunge. Russian government orders 44 billion $ cash injection to the market. The Moscow market already suffered a loss of 57% since May 2008, mostly due to the Georgian military crisis.

* CNN poses the question if we are witnessing the demise of capitalism. Experts reject that proposition and state that capitalism is working smoothly on a day-to-day basis, only hampered by certain "bubbles" created by political activities like those now emerging from the presidential election campaign.

End of Update

Update for September 19, 2008:

Global markets still feeling the effects of a worldwide
financial crisis.

Number two U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley saw its
profits drop 40%. Such, investors pushed M.S. stock down
to a ten-year low. M.S. is now seeking capital even from
Chinese investors.

U.S. expert's opinion:
"Consumer's over-confidence in the financial markets
turned into under-confidence. Thus the wallstreet-crisis
is helping to put consumer's confidence onto a realistic

End of Update

Update for September 25, 2008:

U.S. president directly addressed nation on wednesday. George Bush admits United States in the midst of a serious financial crisis. Bush warns of "long and painful" U.S. recession unless Congress backs 700 billion bailout. Bush invites Obama and McCain to the White House to discuss bailout bill. Obama and McCain issue joint statement promising to avoid economic catastrophe. Financial crisis now top concern for U.S. voters. A financial expert from Washington and who has a Republican background stated, the president's public action could turn out to be the worst action to be taken in that delicate situation.

Hong Kong:
Nervous customers in Hong Kong have lined up outside banks for protest. Investors angry about failed investment linked to Lehman Bros. and call for better government control of financial markets. Experts point out that East-Asian markets already stabilized.

End of Update

Update for September 28/29, 2008:

September 28 (evening news):

Key issues of the congressional debate on a 700 billion $ request by president Bush. The government's bailout bill that has been modified by the legislators on Capitol Hill, including both Democrats and Republicans, will be decided tomorrow morning on Capitol Hill:

Nancy Pelosi (Democrat), speaker of the House of Representatives, recognizes the need to insulate taxpayers and main street from the current economic crisis. Furthermore she states that U.S. taxpayers will no longer bail out the wrecklessness of Wall Street. "The party is over", she added.

Barney Frank (chairman of the banking committee) says wreckless deregulation led us to the current financial crisis. First time in U.S. history we are curtailing the pay of company CEO's.

Senator Dodd (Democrat) says we are having to grapple with an entirely avoidable problem.

State owned regional bank institutes (Landesbanken) are suffering heavy losses from the crisis of U.S. financial markets. Three most prominent state owned institutes (BayernLB, LBBW and HSH Nordbank) are reported to have lost altogether 1,54 billion Euro including 1,4 billion Euro related to the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros.

September 29 (morning news):

Hypo Real Estate (HRE), Germany's No. 1 in the real estate business, received massive support from other institutes. An estimated sum of 10 billion Euro should have been provided. According to the Federal Bank of Germany, HRE can now be considered as saved from bankruptcy.

September 29 (evening news):

Unexpectedly and despite its support by house leaders, the modified bailout bill has been rejected on Capitol Hill. As a reaction, the Dow index lost further 600 points.

Only some hours after the first evaluation, stabilization of Hypo Real Estate seems to be related to a much higher sum than previously reported. Now, 35 billion Euro are being needed, probably including 26,6 billion Euro to be provided by German taxpayers. In the frame of latest news from Washington, the German Dax index lost another four percent.

End of Update

Update for October 1, 2008:

U.S. Senate approves bailout plan 74-25 at 3:30 a.m. CET. Plan will now be put to vote in the House of Representatives where some Democratic congressmen are still opposing it, even though Democratic majority leader Harry Reid and further high-ranking Democrats are trying to convince their colleagues.

Presidential candidates McCain and Obama both support the bailout plan. Obama: "Bailout needed to avert catastrophe."

Meanwhile the word "bailout plan" is often replaced by the expression "rescue plan for taxpayers" as homeowners' security is being brought into the foreground of the official debate.

Asian markets that just opened are now in the focus, but EU markets' development will be even more interesting:

End of Update

Update for October 3, 2008:

Washington soothed the markets when the House of Representatives finally passed the government's modified rescue bill but domestic unemployment is still high.

Germany (October 4):
The rescue plan for Hypo Real Estate, comprising 35 billion Euro, has failed. Further negotiations are needed [German National TV, Channel 1].

Germany (October 5):
Yesterday's news forgotten. CNN telling that Hypo Real Estate has been finally saved by a 50 billion rescue bundle. Will such good news effect today's opening quotations in the EU ?

End of Update

Update for October 6, 2008:

World markets sent into freefall.
Fears of a global recession.

European shares see worst one-day percentage fall. Eurozone states vow to ensure financial stability. Joint national measures expected in Germany and other European states after the crisis summit in Paris.

Final market quotations:
Frankfurt -7,07%
Milan -8,24%
Paris -9,04%
Copenhagen -11,06%
The French president Sarkozy stated that 27 European countries are decided to act in solidarity when it comes to avoid bankruptcy of any major financial group in Europe (source: BFM TV, Paris).

The Dow Index closed below 10.000 for the first time in nearly four years, temporarily falling about 800 points within half an hour (Al-Jazeera / CNN).

Even Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is now feeling the pinch of the global crisis as oil prices are falling, such leaving less revenue for his social programs. Nevertheless, he is still ridiculizing president Bush while describing U.S. economy as suffering from final stage cancer that could not be cured by a 700 billion $ rescue plan. [source: interview granted to Al-Jazeera]

Chavez on campaign (1)

Further news: Local elections in Brazil while Brazilian stock quotes dropped an incredible 15%. The country's Worker's Party is expected to win (Al-Jazeera).

Chavez on campaign (2)

End of Update

Update for October 13, 2008:

International Markets Recovering

Dow Index shows biggest gains since 1933 while Asian stocks are rising as well.
The European Union is preparing a mega package for the stabilization of their institutes.
U.S. economist Paul Krugman wins Nobel Prize. He is reported to be a critic of how the U.S. administration handled the actual crisis.

End of Update

Update for October 22, 2008:

Global Recession on its Way

What seemed to be a recovery of financial markets only ten days ago, now turns out to be the beginning of a steady loss of values on all international markets. Decreasing quotations in the percentage range and on a daily basis could even raise the question when "ground zero" will be reached. Now, a long-lasting damage to global economy can be predicted with only one single aspect to enjoy the indutrialized nations: Crude oil gets cheaper and cheaper (prices 30% down since beginning of 2008).

End of Update

Update for October 28/29, 2008:

Settling of Financial Markets

For the first time since the beginning of that crisis: Smiling brokers at the end of the day. The crisis not yet being over, first signs of a stabilization are showing. The below pictures have been taken from CNN on October 29:

October 29: Even though the DOW index is showing a moderate loss, in comparison with the day before, it is still closing on a high level. All U.S., European and East Asian markets had already been on the rise on October 28 while the oil price remains tied down.

End of Update

Update for November 14/15, 2008 :

Europe Slipping into Recession

On November 13 it was officially announced that German economy has reached the state of recession. Meanwhile, fears are spread that Britain might follow Germany soon. Economists are warning that British economy is going to face its worst fate in 30 years.

While Europe is said to be slipping into recession, G 20 members are gathering in Washington. The 20 states presented at that meeting are representing 85% of world economy and 75% of world population. The current voting power of the U.S., the European Union and China is shown below. Changes to the current voting power ratio are requested by China, India and Brazil, three nations with a flourishing economy.

First results of the G-20 summit include a detailed 47 point program that has been fully accepted by the delegates.

End of Update

Update for January 8, 2009 :

Germany Coping with the Crisis

One of Germany's biggest institutes, the Commerzbank, has been partly nationalized. As the minister of economy, Mr. Glos, put it, the government's blocking minority should ensure the provision of industrial credits, intended to support sound middle-class companies in a period of stagnating economy.

Further economic stagnation has been predicted for 2009 and should be comprising a decrease in exportation, first signs of which have already been noticed. In the frame of dropping share prices on all stock markets, after only a short period of recovery, the Commerzbank nationalization makes part of a bundle of measures, discussed within the ruling coalition and expected to increase domestic consumption. While U.S. car producers are hoping for financial support from their government, German carmakers are hoping for a reduction of the national car-taxes for buyers of their latest generation of cars.

End of Update

Update for January 14, 2009 :

Japan - The Recession is On

A survey made by the Bank of Japan proves growing fear about future employment and working conditions as well as drastic income changes within one year:

Latest fiscal forecast by the Japanese Ministry of the Treasury:

End of Update

Update for January 28-30, 2009 :

Davos Economic Summit

At the beginning of the Davos economic summit, a report, launched by the International Monetary Fund IMF, predicts that U.S. economy will shrink by 1.6% in 2009. Swift action will be needed to counter damaging deflation as "risks to financial stability have intensified since October". As a
consequence, global economy is in "dire straits" and should grind to a halt in 2009 with a worldwide economy growth of only 0.5%, slowest rate since world war II. It should be mentioned that IMF's January predictions are less optimistic that its November 2008 evaluation.

(Robert Scott, Economic Policy Institute, Washington)

Most of the 2.000 delegates of the Davos meeting are
inclined to put it that way: "global economy is now getting
the U.S. cold". Prominent guests at the summit are the
Chinese and Russian prime ministers who, both, blamed
U.S. economy for the global development. It seems that
Washington's Federal Reserve Bank has taken wrong
measures at a wrong moment.

Most prominent victim of the global recession that week
is Japan whose markets are melting down. Industrial output
in December falls by record 9.6% while unemployment has
risen to 4.4%. Even sane companies like Toyota are now
tumbling. A similar development can be observed in other
parts of Asia and Australia and, of course, in the U.S.A.
where unemployment hits a new record of 4.78 million.

For the first time in its history, IMF considers issuing
bonds to boost lending ability.

(Sources: Al-Jazeera and CNBC)

End of Update

Update for February 25-28, 2009 :

A Résumé on Economic Performance

After Obama`s 900 billion $ bill passing both houses on Capitol hill, immediate relief for U.S. economy is not yet in sight. General Motors and its German daughter Opel, now pledging for German government`s financial support, seem to be in an especially difficult position. Of course, German authorities, inclined to support Opel, are not willing to spend any money that could possibly flow back to General Motors, a company "known for decades for its bad management" as former financial secretary of state Blumenfeld put it, a respected expert with an own personal background in the car manufacturing industry.

Instead, international stock markets are steadily going down. Especially the highly developed economic systems of Korea and Japan are affected. Korean national TV reported that Korea's economy is now the worst performer in Asia with an expected negative growth of 5% for 2009, and it will be very difficult for president Lee to stop further deterioration.

As the recent economic crisis is a global and not a home-made one, it should not be ignored that South Korea's industrial potential is still on a high level: For instance, the production of thin film solar cells has got a boost in this country. Recent results of the Korean Institute of Energy Research have made it possible to participate a good deal on the market of solar cells, a market that is expected to reach a volume of about five billion $ by 2015.

Statement of Japan's finance minister on February 26:
"Japan's export in January declined to less than half the volume of a year ago. We cannot predict how the economy is going to go in the next few months." This statement fits to the news reported in my blog earlier on January 14.

At the same time, China is facing a tremendous drought that will doubless effect agricultural production, even though China's government is resorting to unusual means like inciting rain by shooting chemical-loaded rockets into the clouds.

As to the British banking system, "historical losses" have been reported by RBS, the Royal Bank of Scotland (January 26).

Troop Reduction and Disarmament
as a Stimulant for U.S. Economy ?

On January 27, president Obama made it clear that the bulk of 142.000 U.S. troops in Iraq would leave the country by August 2010. Only 30.000-50.000 troops should remain as a transitional force till the end of 2011. This would actually mean the end of U.S. military involvement in Iraq, even though defense secretary Robert Gates could not fully exclude that a small task force might stay in Iraq even after 2011. Only two days before, Obama had already declared that "certain useless weapons related to the era of Cold War" would not be financed any longer.
According to a Wallstreet broker, consulted by Al-Jazeera some days before, such declaration of their president could be useful to stimulate the markets in a situation of mistrust and confusion about the economic development to come.

Above: "A mild climate announced by Barack Obama" (BFM-TV on January 25):

End of Update

Update for March 2, 2009 :

Dow Down

At the beginning of March 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Index finally passed another gloomy mark on its constant way down. CNBC reported that Dow had not closed below 7.000 since April 21, 1997. Even though, this is regarded as "breaking news", it isn't any news at all because you could have waited for it. Let's remember that Dow once surpassed the 10.000 mark, only shortly before the beginning of the financial crisis.

As to the U.S. based AIG and the German Hypo Real Estate, both companies being early icons of the global financial crisis, tax-payers' money really didn't help to save them. Further need of money has already been announced. [Al-Jazeera, CNBC and German sources]

At the same time we hear of East Asian economies melting down, France is announcing its worst recession since 1945, marked by a negative growth of its gross industrial product (1% - 1,5%) and an increasing number of unemployed (+ 300.000). [source: BFM-TV]

End of Update

Update for March 20, 2009 :

These days are marked by four economic topics that should be dealt with in my newsblog:

- Disgraced money manager Madoff pleads guilty to all charges. He is cited by Al-Jazeera with the following words, "As the years went by I knew my arrest and this day would come." Madoff's system has broken down only some months ago and right in the middle of the global crisis. [March 12, 2009]

- The financial crisis finally took its toll among the richest people on earth: About 55 Russian billionaires recently dropped out of Forbes' list while Bill Gates (Microsoft) remains the richest man of our time.

- U.S. President Obama held what the Americans call a "Presidential Town Hall" on economics. In the small town of Costa Mesa (California) and which is far from being a Democratic stronghold, he answered to the questions of normal citizens on different aspects of economics. Once again, he stressed the need for regulations that should enable a more effective control of the financial markets. As to a widespread opinion he might be "doing too much" and following a question on his intentions to remain in office for a second period of government, Obama answered that he would prefer to be a great president for four years rather than a mediocre president for eight years. [CNN, March 18, 2009]

- At the very beginning of the global crisis, two companies made themselves known for their desolate situation. One was AIG that should be soon torn apart. As its CEO reported, this company will be broken up within the next four years. The other company mentioned was the German Hypo Real Estate, an enterprise that already consumed much of German taxpayer's money. Now, it becomes clear that HRE badly needs further cash. [CNN and German media

End of Update