Archive for asia

Animals Petition: Tell Amazon.com To Permanently Ban The Sale Of Whale, Dolphin, and Porpoise Meat ››Change.org

In just a few weeks in Taiji, Japan, I have witnessed unimaginable cruelty and bloodshed. The film The Cove is horrifying, and even though I’ve been here before, I can never fully prepare for what I am witnessing: the slaughter and mutilation of hundreds of dolphins.

On February 22, Amazon.com responded to consumer pressure and removed dolphin, porpoise, and whale meat from their online store after the Environmental Investigation Agency and Humane Society International exposed them for selling whale bacon, whale jerky, canned whale meat, and more than 100 other products. But they have yet to adopt a clear policy that Amazon.com will never sell these items.

Quietly pulling those products from their site is not enough. It’s time for Amazon.com to put a permanent ban on whale, dolphin, and porpoise meat in place.

I know that not everyone can come to Japan to join me to speak out for dolphins and whales, but together we can convince Amazon to permanently stop selling all whale, dolphin, and porpoise products. If Amazon–the largest online retailer in the world–were to adopt a policy like this, it would send a clear message to the world.

Thank you for your support. Many people in Japan are against this massacre, too, and we all appreciate your help in signing and sharing this petition.

via Animals Petition: Tell Amazon.com To Permanently Ban The Sale Of Whale, Dolphin, and Porpoise Meat | Change.org.

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The slowdown in the Chinese and Japanese economies opens a new front in the “currency wars” ››Mindful Money

Today has opened with news from the Far East and in particular from China where the 11th National People’s Congress has opened. The mainstream media seems to have fixated itself on the speech by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao who set an economic  growth target of 7.5% in China in 2012 as well as consumer price inflation target of 4%. However anybody who follows China’s economy will have already been aware that a reduction in growth was on the cards. Indeed back on the 12th of December I suggested that she should ease monetary policy in response to this.

So if we look at the world right now we see that there is a danger of an economic slowdown in 2012 and that inflationary pressure has abated somewhat. This gives an opportunity for a policy response in India and further responses in China (she cut bank reserve requirement on November 30th). They should take it.

I still believe this to be the position although I did also give a warning which has also turned out to be a factor.

The danger on the inflation side would be further trouble in the Middle East as it is plain there are many problems in Syria and the recent explosions at military bases in Iran are worrying. So the risk is further rises in the oil price.

Regular readers will recall that when the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke gave the opinion that he was “100% sure” that he could deal with any inflation resulting from his expansionary policies I question this. Furthermore I question whether we can ever be 100% sure of anything! In my opinion China is in a sub-section of this where policymakers should be making a high percentage play realising that there are risks. the main issue is what her Prime Minister described thus.

China’s economy is encountering new problems

The danger to this is oil based inflationary pressure. However the Chinese position is different to that of the UK in that policy has been designed to be contractionary with the increases in interest-rates and bank reserve requirements that took place and it is time to unwind some of those in my opinion and probably past time. Such moves take 18-24 months to fully impact so one has to look a long way ahead.

What is the latest data on China’s economy?

The HSBC Purchasing Managers Index

Here we see a recovery after the impact of the Chinese New Year in January.

February data signalled renewed growth of business activity across the combined manufacturing and service sector, with the HSBC Composite Output Index up from 49.7 to 51.8.

So we have a return to growth  which is good (on this index a number >50 indicates expansion). However if we look back at the trend for this series we see the following pattern. There was an extraordinary surge in 2009 after the 2008 dip and the number pushed close to 60 but since then there has been a clear downward trend if we allow for some individual ebbs and flows. Also the recovery from the New Year celebratory period is weaker than usual this year. The position is best summed up by this from the report I think.

The latest service sector findings signalled that new business wins did little to alter the trend in outstanding business levels, which remained broadly stable over the month.A similar tendency was seen in manufacturing and, as a result, at the composite level.

Prices?

There are plainly dangers here should the oil price remain at current elevated levels (just below US $124 for a barrel of Brent crude oil). But as we stand we see this.

Despite higher average costs, service sector companies left their output charges broadly unchanged compared to one month earlier.

One interesting change, China’s stock market

One definite change in 2012 has been the performance of China’s stock market. If we look at the Shanghai Composite Index we saw falls of just over 14% in 2010 and just under 13% in 2011. This year so far we have seen a rise of just under 11%. On its own this looks like a reversal of trend, however followers of the concept of #carboncopy2012 may already be mulling that we saw this at the opening of 2011 too.

Japan

Whilst looking at the Far East there is the issue of new data for Japan which has emerged overnight. We saw a purchasing managers report for her too and here is the result.

Consequently, the Composite Output Index posted 51.2 in February, broadly unchanged on January’s reading of 51.1, to again signal a modest rise in private sector activity.

So growth but slow growth for Japan. Here we see two opposite issues. This index plunged to 35 after the Tsunami that hit Japan just under a year ago and whilst there has been a recovery it has been weak and uninspiring.

On the other side of the coin and potentially hopeful for Japan we have seen a burst of Yen weakness in recent days which has seen it fall to above 81 versus the US dollar and to over 107 versus the Euro. It has weakened this morning because Japan’s exporters have been reported as hedging their positions but there are grounds for wondering if this move will give Japan and her exporters a much needed boost.

However not every currency can fall!

Here we move to a problem which has echoes of the competitive devaluations of the 1920s and 1930s. The recent weakening of the Yen adds to this as we now have one less strong currency. If we look at China we see that her government is now talking of a “stable Yuan (renminbi)” after the rise it has permitted. Since the summer of 2010 the Yuan has risen from 6.83 versus the US dollar to 6.307 now.

So here is today’s question whose currencies are going to appreciate in future? In a game which has  a zero sum we plainly have a problem going forwards. Last week a comment on this blog mentioned that Brazil was again declaring a “currency war” to which my only additon would be that they had done that some time ago! This new phase has seen her introduce new currency controls. Well in a case of are you thinking what I am thinking take a look at this.

A group of economists in the Pacific region have issued a statement which has the following  two key sentences.

While capital controls and other capital management techniques are no panacea for financial instability, there is an emerging consensus that they are an important part of the macro-economic toolkit………….Thus, we recommend that the TPPA permit governments to deploy capital controls without being subject to investor lawsuits, as part of a broader menu of policy options to prevent and mitigate financial crises.

The TPPA is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Arrangement.

The “currency wars” are  picking up and spreading aren’t they? Here we see economist asking for individual governments to be in effect allowed to follow an “I’m alright Jack type policy” and I am reminded that not all currencies can fall! However we also need to remind ourselves that the opening salvo in this war was fired by western nations such as the UK and US who have pursued very expansionary monetary policies which put downward pressure on their exchange rates.

As to the letter itself I am reminded of the fact that letters written by a large number of economists have a poor track record and in fact are more likely to be wrong than right if history is any guide to the future.

What has caused a change now?

The events described above have quite a few causes that have been developing for some time but it is hard to avoid the view that the recent monetary easing by the European Central Bank has contributed as well. it would appear that nearly all of the global power blocs wish to engage in what is in effect a race to the bottom. They may well get that wish but not in the way they intended….

As a final thought who exactly is going to have a strong currency going forwards? As I have pointed out many times the Swiss National Bank may get a dreadful surprise as to what “unlimited intervention” actually achieves and implies.

Just a thought

I spotted this in City AM today

Italians have just replaced Russians as the top foreign buyers of prime central London properties, ending years of oligarch dominance, according to Knight Frank.

If this is true and it continues it is a clear case of an amber light for Italy and yet another phase in the central London property bubble…….

This entry was posted in Euro zone Crisis, Financial crisis, General Economics, House Prices, Japan’s Economic Situation, Quantitative Easing and Extraordinary Monetary Measures. Bookmark the permalink.

via The slowdown in the Chinese and Japanese economies opens a new front in the “currency wars” | Mindful Money.

The SIPRI Top 100 arms-producing and military services companies, 2010

The SIPRI Top 100 lists the world’s 100 largest arms-producing and military services companies (excluding Chinese companies), ranked by their arms sales in 2010. The list is based on the comprehensive SIPRI Arms Industry Database, which contains financial and employment data on the world’s major arms-producing and military services companies. The SIPRI Top 100 for 2010 is the 23nd edition of the SIPRI Top 100—earlier versions are available here.

Arms sales are defined by SIPRI as sales of military goods and services to military customers, including both sales for domestic procurement and sales for export. Military goods and services are those that are designed specifically for military purposes and the technologies related to such goods and services.

Although it is known that several Chinese arms-producing enterprises are large enough to rank among the SIPRI Top 100, a lack of comparable and sufficiently accurate data makes it impossible to include them. There are also companies in other countries, such as Kazakhstan and Ukraine, that could be large enough to appear in the SIPRI Top 100 list were data available, but this is less certain.

For more on the coverage and methodology of the SIPRI Top 100 see the notes below and read the sources and methods.

Companies are ranked according to the value of their arms sales in 2010. An S denotes a subsidiary company. A dash (–) indicates that the company did not rank among the SIPRI Top 100 for 2009.

Company names and structures are listed as they were on 31 Dec. 2010. For subsidiaries and operational companies owned by a holding or investment company, the name of the parent company is given in parentheses along with its country, where it differs.

Figures for arms sales, total sales and total profit are in millions of US dollars.

via http://info-agent.blogspot.com/2012/02/das-geschaft-mit-dem-krieg-weltweite.html

via http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/production/Top100

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‘Bangkok bombers’ were assassins not terrorists, says Thai official | World news | The Guardian

Senior security official seems to corroborate Israel’s claim that explosions were part of thwarted Iranian assassination plot

Iranian bomb suspects in Thailand

Three Iranian bomb suspects identified by police as, from left, Saeid Moradi, Mohummad Hazaei and Masoud Sedaghat Zadeh in Bangkok. Photograph: AP

The three “Bangkok bombers” suspected of attempting to carry out an attack in Bangkok are more likely to be assassins than terrorists, a senior Thai security official has said. This potentially corroborates Israel’s claims the three men were thwarted in an Iranian assassination plot similar to earlier attacks on Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia.

“The exact target we are still investigating, but we are looking at ‘who’ the target was rather than a general terrorist attack of ‘a big city’ or ‘crowds of people,’ ” the official said on Wednesday on condition of anonymity. “If it is an assassination attempt, it could be the armed services, drug lords or diplomats. We have to figure out who they were trying to assassinate.”

The official said the nationalities of the suspects had yet to be confirmed. “They have Iranian passports and documents, but we haven’t concluded that they are in fact Iranian, which is why we are looking in detail at this case,” he said.

A fourth suspect was added to the case late on Wednesday after a court approved warrants for the arrests of four people travelling as Iranian nationals, the Bangkok Post reported. They were the alleged bomber Saeid Moradi, 28, Mohummad Hazaei, 42, Masoud Sedaghat Zadeh, 31, and Rohani Leila, 32, a woman who is said to have arrived in Thailand with the others and rented the house where a cache of explosives was found. Leila’s whereabouts are unknown.

One of the suspects was detained by Malaysian police in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday while trying to board a flight to Tehran, the Nation reported.

Further details about the alleged bomber, Saeid Moradi, who lost both legs in the last Bangkok explosion, emerged. He is said to have flown into Thailand on 8 February from South Korea, and spent five nights in the resort town of Pattaya. He checked into the Top Thai hotel with only a backpack, the Bangkok Post reported, and was later joined by a friend who had a large bag with him. The two men hardly left the room, the Post reported. “Mr Moradi was good-looking and dressed neatly, as if he was a young entrepreneur,” one member of staff told reporters. “He was also polite and I can’t believe that he would be a bomber.”

The DIY explosives found in a Bangkok house after a series of blasts rocked the capital on Tuesday were similar to devices used against Israeli embassy targets in India and Georgia, Israel’s ambassador said on Wednesday, a day after Israel’s defence minister accused Iran of being behind the thwarted attack.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast called the allegations “baseless” and said Israel was attempting to sabotage its relations with Thailand.

Five people, including the alleged bomber, were injured in three explosions in Bangkok’s bustling Ekkamai neighbourhood at about 2pm local time. The first explosion occurred at a house rented by three Iranian nationals who, according to police, fled after homemade explosives accidentally ignited. Two men fled while the third, wounded and disorientated from the blast, attempted to hail a taxi before throwing a grenade at the car and another at police. He missed his target and the grenade detonated in front of him, blowing off one leg and requiring the amputation of the other.

In the house, Thai police found and defused two magnetic bombs that could be attached to vehicles, resembling those used in attacks against Israeli embassy targets, said the Israeli ambassador, Itzhak Shoham.

“They are similar to the ones used in Delhi and in Tbilisi,” Shoham told the Associated Press. “From that we can assume that there is the same network of terror.”

A bomb squad source quoted in the Bangkok Post said that each bomb could cause serious damage within a 40-metre radius, and that such bombmaking methods had never before been seen in Thailand.

via ‘Bangkok bombers’ were assassins not terrorists, says Thai official | World news | The Guardian.

Apple: Poor working conditions inside the Chinese factories making iPads «Mail Online

‘Working excessive overtime without a single day off during the week’
‘Living together in crowded dorms and exposure to dangerous chemicals’
Two explosions in 2011 in China ‘due to aluminum dust’ killed four workers
Almost 140 injured after using toxin in factory, reports New York Times

By Mark Duell

Last updated at 8:10 AM on 27th January 2012

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Working excessive overtime without a single day off during the week, living together in crowded dormitories and standing so long that their legs swell and they can hardly walk after a 24-hour shift.

These are the lives some employees claim they live at Apple’s manufacturing centres in China, where the firm’s suppliers allegedly wrongly dispose of hazardous waste and produce improper records.

Almost 140 workers at a supplier in China were injured two years ago using a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens – and two explosions last year killed four people while injuring more than 75.

Read full Text
via http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2092277/Apple-Poor-working-conditions-inside-Chinese-factories-making-iPads.html

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