Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Roundup: December 17


OPEC has agreed to cut production by another 2.2mbd, for a total production cut throughout the year of over 4mbs, or about 12% of peak production this year. Igor Sechin, Deputy Prime Minister in Russia, stated that Russia wants "Permanent Observer status" in OPEC, but no one knows what that would actually entail. Color Robert Amsterdam dubious.

Deutsche Bank declined to call a debt issue which became callable today. This is a bearish indicator for anyone who believes Fed funds at zero will restart lending: if banks decline to fund in the current environment, it is unlikely they will be expanding their balance sheets any time soon. The dollar dropped sharply against the Euro and gold yesterday after the Fed announced its plans for quantitative easing. The yen is at its 13-year highs against the dollar. Norges Bank cut rates by 175bp today to 3%.


This translation from RBK Daily by Robert Amsterdam is a must-read; Russia will forgo cuts in the number of troops deployed for internal security because of fears of economically motivated civic unrest. After the Greek demonstrations and ongoing fears for the stability of Russia, China, Italy, Greece, Ukraine, and others, one cannot help but think that domestic unrest and political instability, threatening the foundations of politics in numerous countries, will be a dominant theme in the next several years.

Barack Obama announced the appointment of Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, as Agriculture Secretary. A disappointing choice given hopes that this administration would be the first to tackle farm reform (after Nancy Pelosi sacrificed hopes of farm reform in 2007 for a glimmer of partisan gain). Ken Salazar, a Senator for Colorado, will be Interior Secretary.

The official number of dead from cholera in Zimbabwe has jumped by a third in three days to around 1000, and UN experts fear that the actual number of dead may be 3000 or higher. The head of the Zimbabwean air force has been shot in the arm: the "Butcher of Matabeleland," Perence Shiri, oversaw the killing of some 20,000 people for Mr. Mugabe in a pogrom whose end came when the recently revived opposition party PF ZAPU agreed to merge with Zanu PF in 1987.

Today's edition of China Heritage Quarterly looks at the history of the Beijing water system.

The US Census Bureau publishes its 2009 US Statistical Abstract. The Treasury publishes its 2008 Financial Report of the United States.


The EU Parliament passed its major climate change bill, promising GHG reductions of 20% from 1990 levels, a renewable standard for electricity production of 20% by 2020, and the debut of auctions for CO2 permits for certain sectors of industry, a major and necessary step for making the cap-and-trade system effective at reducing emissions.

California's Green Chemistry Initiative, the first of its kind in the world, released its recommendations, which include complete disclosure of ingredients in most household and food products, available through an online database.

NRDC is filing suit to stop one of President Bush's last midnight acts of environmental destruction, the auction of hundreds of thousands of acres of federally owned Utah wilderness to companies looking to use it for oil and gas exploration.

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