And now we see how heroic the nuke crews can be.
Japan prays for success of Fukushima 50 in fight to save nuclear plant
'A fearless band of scientists and workers trying to stop a meltdown have inspired the entire country
Robin McKie, science editor
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 19 March 2011 19.17 GMT
Exhausted engineers attached a power cable to the outside of Japan's tsunami-crippled nuclear plant on Saturday. The operation raised hopes that it may be possible to restart the pumping of water into the plant's stricken reactors and cool down its overheated fuel rods before there are more fires and explosions.
"We have connected the external transmission line with the receiving point of the plant and confirmed that electricity can be supplied," said a spokesman for the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power. moreAnd suddenly, we learn just how important the Japanese economy is to the rest of the world.
Breaks in the Supply Chain
Disaster in Japan Sends Ripples through the Global Economy
By Peter Müller and Alexander Neubacher 03/22/2011
The disaster in Japan has rippled through the global economy. The catastrophe in Japan has made apparent just how fragile the global economy has become. Factories around the world have had to slow production due to a lack of parts. But the problems are surmountable -- provided the nuclear disaster in Fukushima doesn't worsen.
It's about 9,000 kilometers (5,625 miles) from Tokyo to Mulfingen and Künzelsau, but it didn't take long for the shockwaves from Japan to reach these two towns in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg. The region is home to several small and mid-sized companies, including EBM Papst and Ziehl-Abegg, the world's two top producers of fans and specialized ventilation systems.
Normally, the two companies are competitors. Now, however, they share the same fate. One of their key suppliers, a computer chip factory operated by electronics giant Toshiba in northern Japan, is out of commission. Although detailed information about local conditions is hard to come by, everything the German executives have heard suggests that the earthquake and tsunami severely damaged the chip factory.
"If delivery is delayed, it can shut down the entire production process," says Peter Fenkl, chairman of Ziehl-Abegg
"We expect that our assembly lines could come to a standstill for one to two weeks," says Hans-Jochen Beilke, chairman of operations at EBM Papst.
Although the scope of the catastrophe in Japan is still not fully clear, it's safe to say that the economic damage has been considerable. Japan, the world's third-largest economy, exports its goods to every corner of the earth. Japanese companies supply world markets with modern memory chips, flat-screen TVs, cameras and cars. The French bank Crédit Lyonnais estimates that one-fifth of all high-tech products worldwide are from Japan. moreAnd the latest dreary news in time for World Water Day.
MAP OF THE DAY: The World Water Crisis
Gus Lubin | Mar. 22, 2011, 9:22 AM
Today is World Water Day. This marks another year when water gets less attention than oil, and the coming crisis becomes more severe.
Through the Middle East and parts of America and Asia, water is a physical scarcity.
In Africa and other parts of the southern hemisphere, water is an economic scarcity, which means an adequate supply is not economically feasible.
Ban Ki-moon warns: "A shortage of water resources could spell increased conflicts in the future. Population growth will make the problem worse. So will climate change. As the global economy grows, so will its thirst. Many more conflicts lie just over the horizon." more great maps
CITI: These 8 Shocks Are About To Slam The Global Economy
Gregory White | Mar. 22, 2011
The world is being hit with, or will soon be hit with, 8 shocks to the global economy, according to Citi strategist Guillermo Felices.
It all started with surging food prices in developing markets, but now it may be spreading from the emerging markets to the developed world.
It's important to understand how the first seven of these crises relate to one another, and how the eighth is exacerbating an already difficult situation.
We go through Guillermo Felices' shocks and detail each, looking into how each is transpiring and impacting the global economy.
#1 Higher Food Prices In Emerging Markets
It all starts in countries like China and India, where food prices are rising. There were multiple reasons for this:
- Weaker than expected harvests due to weather events
- Higher demand as emerging markets experienced a strong recovery
- Surging prices have put pressure on governments to act.
Source: Citi analyst Guillermo Felices
#2 Higher Interest Rates And Tighter Money In Emerging Markets
Governments throughout the emerging world have responded to surging food price inflation with tightening policies.
- China: continuing to hike reserve requirements and rates
- India: continuing to hike rates
- Korea: continuing to hike rates
- Brazil: continuing to hike rates
There are no guarantees this is going to work, however. Food prices, like other commodities such as fuel, often are unaffected by monetary policy.
Source: Citi analyst Guillermo Felices moreAnd of course, the moneychangers have a solution for all our problems--raise interest rates!
Here's The "Raise The Rates" Article That Everyone Thinks Is The Worst Recovery Advice Ever
Courtney Comstock | Mar. 22, 2011, 9:17 AM
Former hedge fund managers and writer Andy Kessler recently suggested that Bernanke boost the economy by raising interest rates, cratering the stock market, and causing a few banks to fail.
And now everyone is slamming the article he wrote for the WSJ's Opinion section yesterday.
Kessler argues that raising rates will create jobs, cut costs for consumers and halt inflation (which some argue isn't even happening). Of course it will do some bad things too, he says -
[Bernanke should raise] short-term interest rates. What? Won't that kill the recovery? No.
It's all counterintuitive, but it will work. Ending quantitative easing and raising short-term rates will surely cause the stock market to crater. 1,000 points? 2,000? Who knows? But a selloff will ensue. Does that mean a negative wealth effect? I doubt it. Who really thought they were wealthier at Dow 12,000 versus Dow 10,000?
...But along with a likely lower stock market and failing banks will be several positive effects that will finally kick-start the economy.
People have already jumped on Kessler and criticized his logic, for example, that the FDIC should scrub toxic mortgage assets off banks' balance sheets -
Hopefully the FDIC is ready to dive in and remove the remaining toxic mortgage assets of any failing banks, along with their managements, and then refloat the institutions.
The Economist thinks it might be a parody meant to undermine the case for interest rate hikes. more