According to a number of reports the clock is ticking on the US economy and the dollar before it goes into meltdown.
The key factors for consideration according to the Asian Times article ‘Crisis towers over the dollar’:
- The total US public national debt now exceeds 7 trillion USD
- When Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, military and government pensions are added in, the total national debt exceeds 51 trillion USD, according to Fortune magazine – that’s nearly five times the gross domestic product (GDP)
- The current year’s deficit alone approaches 1 trillion USD when you add the off-budget items
- Derivatives (highly leveraged and enormously risky instruments such as interest-rate futures, options and swaps) now total 180 trillion USD, 17 times the GDP. Even government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp) use derivatives heavily
- The total US consumer debt is more than 8 trillion USD
- The US government funding gap is some 54 trillion USD
A leading proponent of this bearish assessment is Morgan Stanley’s principle economist Stephen Roach. Roach is said by the Boston Herald of having given the US economy no more than a one in ten chance of avoiding a meltdown. You can read the article here.
In Morgan Stanley’s own Global Economic Forum digests, the thinking of their global team of economists is distilled for fund managers. The digest of November 26, 2004 highlights Fed chairman Alan Greenspan’s belief that the world is not likely to continue to fund US debt.In a recent webcast Roach warned of a possible ‘disorderly’ correction to the imbalances in the dollar and a possible trade war with China.
IT company SCO is currently involved in a legal argument over allegedly copied software ending up in Linux. Kudos to The Inq for flagging up this subversive website hack. Makes a pleasant difference from the usual scrawlings on site defacements. At the time of writing this was still up on the SCO site, though this will change when the SCO webmaster gets into work.
My colleague Jonathan has some inside skinny on cheap alcohol this Christmas. According to his contacts Unwins the off licence chain is allegedly being bought out by Oddbins and so clearing its inventory by providing good prices on champagne. So if the white van man doesn’t do deliveries in your area Unwins may be worth a visit. To find your nearest branch start here.
As Britain`s largest family owned independent wine merchant, founded in 1843; with over 400 shops in the South of England, they pride themselves as one of the few remaining truly specialist wine merchants.
A while ago I did a back to basics entry on how I had moved from a perfectly good Nokia 6600 to a older, more elegant and better looking 8850. According to Josh Rubin’s Coolhunting blog I am not alone, in fact there is a website called Retrofone to cater for people like me.
Why? Because I believe that there is a sweet spot when technology has a certain level of sophistication and performance when it is at its most usable. As things become more complex and sophisticated they become less user friendly, go wrong more often and no longer provides an elegant solution to customer needs. It starts to lack quality. Don’t believe me? Think about this :
- I can write a letter as fast on my old 12 year old Mac desktop running Word 5.1 as I can using Office X on a much more powerful iBook
- I can only email as fast as I did when I used Netscape Communicator on the Mac back in ’98, yet my computer is at least eight times more powerful
- I am still only as organised using my Palm Tungsten 3 as I was when I had a Palm Vx, but the Vx really did fit in my pocket and caused me half as much grief
Now my broadband connection is up, I only use my phone for SMS text messages and to make calls, so I wanted to move back to a smaller phone with a big battery life
The iPod is currently in the sweet spot with the iTunes Music Store, Google is there with their search engine and Amazon with their e-commerce site.
Haaretz the liberal Israeli national newspaper has started publishing a weekly international edition online as a PDF. It can be found at Haaretz dotcom. The editors are Karen Kaufman and Robert Rosenberg.Caitlin Moran the television critic wrote this opinion piece in The Times about sex no longer working as an advertising tool, making our visual bombardment of sexual imagery adverts such as Wonderbra’s landmark 1994 ‘Hello Boys’ campaign impotent. She sees it as a sign that Britain is growing up, I’m not so sure.
Mobile, the UK newspaper for the mobile phone sales channel has interesting article called ‘Coming soon to a billboard near you’ in this weeks issue about how mobile operators are making the most of shrinking marketing budgets and the 3G rollout by looking to inventive regional campaigns led by hot shop advertising thinking including experiential marketing stunts and interactive bus stop adverts, supported by conventional consumer PR tactics of competitions and giveaways.