Saturday, January 10, 2009

Not As Cold As Europe But Getting There


It's January; it's cold. No surprises. However, we are continuing last year's trend of below normal temperatures... so far, about 3°F below normal for the month. That's cold comfort [sorry] when looking at the forecast ahead from The Weather Channel:

The rest of the week is forecasted to have high temperatures around 13° to 18°F [versus about 31°F]. That means to get to a "normal" January, we will have to have a very warm [relatively speaking] last two weeks. We're really looking forward to that all of you AGW enthusiasts.

Nevertheless, things are not so bad. We could be living in Europe:

BRRRR! 2008-2009 is shaping up as perhaps the coldest winter in European memory

Much of Europe seized by severe winter weather
MADRID -- A rare, heavy snowfall in central Spain closed Madrid's airport and paralyzed traffic in the city and several German rivers were frozen over as much of Europe remained in the grip of Siberian conditions Friday.

The bitter cold which has embraced the much of the continent since the end of last year comes amid Russian gas cuts to several European countries.

... All four runways at Madrid's Barajas airport, Europe's fourth busiest, were closed because of the snowfall and low visibility...

Up to 10 centimeters (four inches) of snow accumulated in Madrid as temperatures in the region dropped as low as minus 6 C (21 F).

The regional government of Madrid set up a “crisis cabinet” to deal with the effects of the heavy snowfall, which also hit the region of Castilla-la-Mancha southeast of the capital as well as western Spain.

The northwestern city of Santiago de Compostela, a destination for thousands of pilgrims, recorded the heaviest snowfall in recent memory on Friday, according to the online edition of daily newspaper El Mundo.

Across the border in France, air, rail and road traffic began to return to normal in the region around the southern port of Marseille after two days of disruptions caused by heavy snow, which had paralyzed the city on Thursday.

However, around 1,000 homes remained without electricity.

In Germany, the death toll from the cold snap rose to three and several rivers were frozen over, blocking ship traffic, authorities said. Drift ice covered 80 to 90 percent of the surface of the river Elbe from Doemnitz to the Germany's main port of Hamburg in the north, a spokeswoman for the Water and Shipping Office said.

Some barges had to be freed late Thursday with industrial ice breakers.

Germany is experiencing one of its coldest winters of the past 100 years, with the mercury dropping as low as minus 34.6 C (minus 30.3 F) in the mountains in the south.

One person also died from the cold in Poland during the night, bringing the death toll in the country to 83 since November 1, most of them homeless people.

... In Portugal, four people died in a fire apparently caused by a faulty heater in an apartment building in the city of Porto. Temperatures that reached as low as minus 6 C (21 F) caused authorities in several Portuguese cities to issue tents to homeless. In the north of the country, the snow Friday cut several main roads.
Isn't Europe where all of that grumbling about slow response to Global Warming was going on? Isn't Europe where coal-fire power plants were being decommissioned? Isn't Europe where they believed they could rely on imported oil and natural gas?

Oh wait, that's the U.S. under the up-coming administration.


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
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Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)