12. July 2011
Another big quake shook Japan over the weekend. Mercifully, this time, there was no major damage. Since the catastrophe in March, there is seemingly no let-up in the number of tremors that register north of six on the Richter scale. This explains the Japanese government’s urgency in seeking measures to counter the risks of a future tsunami.
28. April 2011
The US jobless rate of 8.8 percent is still too high, but it is sinking. Some 200,000 new jobs were created last month. US businesses celebrate effervescent earnings and the Fed’s economic reports speak of a recovery. However, this oft cited recovery appears not to have yet reached the public; indeed, the economic uncertainty amongst US consumers is disturbingly high. The most recent reading shows US residents are more pessimistic about their future than they have been for two years
13. January 2011
The headlines read ‘US Federal Reserve turns $80.9bn profit’, the biggest banking profit in history, no less. Yet almost all the profits came from interest on its whopping $2,500bn balance sheet, so the result is not too surprising. However, only few column inches are dedicated to the risk potential such huge holdings entail.
5. November 2010
It was a with a palpably disapproving tone that the news announcer reported how a savings bank in Hamburg, Germany had categorised its clients on the basis of psychological profiles in order to sell insurance and investments more effectively. ‘The Hedonist’ and ‘The Adventurer’
4. November 2010
Paris, 2nd November 2010: An 18-month-old child accidently falls from a seventh floor balcony. Below is a café which, although closed, still has its awning extended because the owner had trouble with the winding mechanism.
28. October 2010
October blessed motorcyclists in Germany with two gloriously sunny weekends and, not being one to pass up an opportunity for an autumn jaunt, I naturally accepted the invitation. The biker’s vantage point offers a chance to observe a great deal more than just the surrounding traffic: at stoplights I invariably encounter steering-wheel percussionists, nose-pickers, squabbling couples, waving children and, for sure, mobile-phoners.
8. September 2010
I have to admit the news that Michael O’Leary, the outspoken boss of low-cost airline Ryanair, wants to run the company’s fleet without any co-pilot sent a shiver down my spine. It is not that I recall any incident where a pilot suffered a mid-flight heart-attack or some other malaise and the plane had to be brought safely to the ground by the second-in-command; my perceptions about in-flight safety are more influenced by 70’s disaster movies where the pilot ‘ate the fish’. Still, a co-pilot – a back-up – just seems to be a sensible thing to have. Am I wrong?
15. July 2010
Is an 87 year-old capable of managing a $20bn fortune? The question is a crucial one for Liliane Bettencourt, the L’Oreal heiress and France’s wealthiest woman; her daughter is reportedly trying to have a judge declare her incompetent to manage her own affairs. It is intuitive to believe that elderly people are less able to make good money-related decisions, especially when one hears about the numerous scams targeting the aged. But is this really true?
15. June 2010
UK premier David Cameron has been very reserved in his defence of BP against Barack Obama’s ‘ass-kicking’. He is right to do so. Any insistence that the BP dividends be paid would ultimately have led to a call for the British government to underwrite the oil company’s liabilities