Archive for the 'business' Category

Bad day

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

The older we get, the more affecting things like the German airline crash become, because well, the kids could be on such a flight. We’ve logged close to 10 million miles with nary a problem (number 2 engine shutdown on a TWA L1011 and an Air Cal flight that had a hydraulic problem, that’s it). Too soon to know anything, but we were definitely reminded of this. (Spidey sense update: I learned tonight that the Dinoson had taken that flight in the other direction from Dusseldorf to Barcelona recently. Whoa.)

Imagine there’s no coffee

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

In an amusing exchange, Dennis Miller and Bill O’Reilly discussed Starbucks, and it was suggested that there be a Yoko Ono coffee order at Starbucks, a company being the object of some ridicule lately. Gwen Ifill was pretty funny. O’Reilly suggested that Starbucks could perform a community service by lowering prices for majority and minority patrons alike. Ha Ha. As for Yoko: “Imagine there’s no coffee, and you still have to pay eight bucks.”

Super fun bonus: Spengler does coffee.

And now for something completely different

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Leeham:

LNC’s economic guru, aerodynamic engineer Bjorn Fehrm, took a very close analysis of the A321LR vs the Boeing 757 and the Boeing 737-9. He analyzed the prospect of a long-range Boeing 737-8. He also looked at the prospect of re-starting the 757 in the form of a re-engined 757 Max.

— The A321LR comes close to being a 757-200W replacement but it’s not an exact match.
— The 737-9 simply doesn’t work as a 757 international replacement, due to operational performance issues in an international configuration.
— The 737-8 could be a long, thin, albeit much smaller capacity choice. (Lo and behold, Boeing subsequently began showing a concept called the 737-8ERX to airlines.)
— A larger 737 MAX 10, while technically feasible, is a three-quarters new airplane, so why bother?
— The 757 MAX is not competitive to the A321LR.
— The idea of a “787 Light” is a simplistic solution that doesn’t work, either: it’s entirely too much airplane.
— That a “757 replacement” is best an entirely new twin-aisle, 2x3x2 airplane of 200-250 seats and a range of 4,500nm-5,000nm…

Boeing will launch a new airplane program in what was then the 757 replacement arena around 2018 with a 2025 entry-into-service. This remains the timing we believe will be true for the 225/5000 or MOM airplane. At ISTAT, Steven Udvar-Hazy, CEO of Air Lease Corp., said he expects a new Boeing airplane in 8, 10, 12 years. That’s 2023-2027. LNC is sticking with its 2025 forecast.

Life is short. However, industrial lifespans can be very long. The T-56 was introduced in 1954, for example, and still powers many C-130 aircraft.

A-I say goodbye?

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

USA Today:

“I say robot, you say no-bot!” The chant reverberated through the air near the entrance to the SXSW tech and entertainment festival here. About two dozen protesters, led by a computer engineer, echoed that sentiment in their movement against artificial intelligence…Phil Libin, CEO of software firm Evernote, frames the protest and movement as the latest iteration of the man vs. machine debate. “People worry about robots taking over the world, but I assure you there are much more dangerous things (income inequality and global warming) in front of the line,” he said.

Once again, ban argon!!! BTW, Mr. Libin might be a little prejudiced, since he owns robots that run around and do work for him.

What’s up with a $17,000 Apple watch?

Saturday, March 14th, 2015

BI thinks they have an answer — smart marketing. We question that. Even if the watch’s guts are replaceable every 12-18 months to keep it technologically competitive, what’s the point? How annoying! OTOH, we have a classmate from business school whose flagship store in a large Asian city sold a $30,000 handbag once a week, no doubt a gift from a fine gentleman to someone special. (That business has dried up due to certain recent developments.) Well, it will be interesting to see just what sort of people go in for such foolishness.

Extra bonus fun: arithmetic am difficult.

Sectoral slowing

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Fortune:

Chinese industrial production grew only 6.8% in January and February, the slowest since 2008. Real estate sales plunged 15.8% in value. Fixed-asset investment, the principal driver of Chinese growth, recorded anemic growth at 1.05% and 1.03% in January and February, respectively (compared with 1.49% and 1.42% in the same period last year).

This fellow has his work cut out for him.

Rudd: “The strongest Chinese president since Mao”

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Xi Jinping, the last party plenum in 2014 with its entrenching of the anti-corruption movement into the fabric of Chinese law, and the restoration of party legitimacy are among the subjects of a remarkable interview of the 26th PM of Australia, Kevin Rudd (who speaks Mandarin and is known in some circles as 陸克文). Some rough excerpts: “All of us who’ve grown up in study of Western political science assume the $14,000 per capita income threshold; then people demand more liberties, and what you end up with is one form of democratic government or other. Xi Jinping does not have that as his game plan for China. What he is attempting is to defy history. Frank Fukuyama’s point, we end with liberal capitalism is not where China is going. Xi Jinping is seeking to advance a radical alternative. We need to be very cautious in saying this is inherently unsustainable. The folks at the center of this are determined to prosecute this model.” On a perhaps unrelated but interesting note, the SCMP reports that Xi Jinping just reshuffled the leadership at China’s version of the Secret Service.

Update: the WaPo covers some similar territory.

15 years that went by pretty fast

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

NYT:

entire industries have emerged and seized the dominant positions in the Nasdaq index even as their predecessors faltered. Apple, now the world’s largest company by market capitalization, barely registered in 2000, and the first iPhone was not announced until 2007. Over a billion smartphones were shipped in 2014.

Google, which now ranks third and dominates the market for Internet search advertising, went public in 2004 at $85 a share, giving the company a market value then of $23 billion. Today, its market capitalization is over $360 billion, and its shares were trading this week above $570.

Facebook, now No. 5 in Nasdaq’s ranking, dominates social networking, another industry that did not exist in 2000. It went public less than three years ago, and is already valued at over $180 billion.

Had the Nasdaq index itself not been transformed by innovation and competition, it would be nowhere near its previous peak. The stocks of many of the surviving companies, like Microsoft and Intel, have not come close to the levels they reached before 2000. That means investors who bought and held the stocks of individual companies in 2000, as opposed to broad mutual funds tied to the Nasdaq or index funds like the QQQs, are still underwater

Some things are going really well and some are going really badly. Hard to know where we’ll be in another 15 years.

The real environmental danger: pond scum

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Lindzen, yes that Lindzen:

Research in recent years has encouraged those of us who question the popular alarm over allegedly man-made global warming. Actually, the move from “global warming” to “climate change” indicated the silliness of this issue. The climate has been changing since the Earth was formed. This normal course is now taken to be evidence of doom.

Individuals and organizations highly vested in disaster scenarios have relentlessly attacked scientists and others who do not share their beliefs. The attacks have taken a threatening turn.

As to the science itself, it’s worth noting that all predictions of warming since the onset of the last warming episode of 1978-98 — which is the only period that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attempts to attribute to carbon-dioxide emissions — have greatly exceeded what has been observed. These observations support a much reduced and essentially harmless climate response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.

In addition, there is experimental support for the increased importance of variations in solar radiation on climate and a renewed awareness of the importance of natural unforced climate variability that is largely absent in current climate models. There also is observational evidence from several independent studies that the so-called “water vapor feedback,” essential to amplifying the relatively weak impact of carbon dioxide alone on Earth temperatures, is canceled by cloud processes.

There are also claims that extreme weather — hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, you name it — may be due to global warming. The data show no increase in the number or intensity of such events. The IPCC itself acknowledges the lack of any evident relation between extreme weather and climate, though allowing that with sufficient effort some relation might be uncovered.

World leaders (insert examples of world-class fools here and here) proclaim that climate change is our greatest problem, demonizing carbon dioxide. Yet atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have been vastly higher through most of Earth’s history. Climates both warmer and colder than the present have coexisted with these higher levels.

Currently elevated levels of carbon dioxide have contributed to increases in agricultural productivity. Indeed, climatologists before the recent global warming hysteria referred to warm periods as “climate optima.” Yet world leaders are embarking on costly policies that have no capacity to replace fossil fuels but enrich crony capitalists at public expense, increasing costs for all, and restricting access to energy to the world’s poorest populations that still lack access to electricity’s immense benefits.

Billions of dollars have been poured into studies supporting climate alarm, and trillions of dollars have been involved in overthrowing the energy economy. So it is unsurprising that great efforts have been made to ramp up hysteria, even as the case for climate alarm is disintegrating.

The latest example began with an article published in the New York Times on Feb. 22 about Willie Soon, a scientist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Mr. Soon has, for over 25 years, argued for a primary role of solar variability on climate. But as Greenpeace noted in 2011, Mr. Soon was, in small measure, supported by fossil-fuel companies over a period of 10 years.

The Times reintroduced this old material as news, arguing that Mr. Soon had failed to list this support in a recent paper in Science Bulletin of which he was one of four authors. Two days later Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, used the Times article as the basis for a hunting expedition into anything said, written and communicated by seven individuals — David Legates, John Christy, Judith Curry, Robert Balling, Roger Pielke Jr., Steven Hayward and me — about testimony we gave to Congress or other governmental bodies. We were selected solely on the basis of our objections to alarmist claims about the climate.

In letters he sent to the presidents of the universities employing us (although I have been retired from MIT since 2013), Mr. Grijalva wanted all details of all of our outside funding, and communications about this funding, including “consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary, compensation and any other monies.” Mr. Grijalva acknowledged the absence of any evidence but purportedly wanted to know if accusations made against Mr. Soon about alleged conflicts of interest or failure to disclose his funding sources in science journals might not also apply to us.

Perhaps the most bizarre letter concerned the University of Colorado’s Mr. Pielke. His specialty is science policy, not science per se, and he supports reductions in carbon emissions but finds no basis for associating extreme weather with climate. Mr. Grijalva’s complaint is that Mr. Pielke, in agreeing with the IPCC on extreme weather and climate, contradicts the assertions of John Holdren, President Obama ’s science czar.

Mr. Grijalva’s letters convey an unstated but perfectly clear threat: Research disputing alarm over the climate should cease lest universities that employ such individuals incur massive inconvenience and expense — and scientists holding such views should not offer testimony to Congress. After the Times article, Sens. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) also sent letters to numerous energy companies, industrial organizations and, strangely, many right-of-center think tanks (including the Cato Institute, with which I have an association) to unearth their alleged influence peddling.

It would be comical if it weren’t so serious. Decades ago some guys noticed a correlation between a tiny increase in a gas and a tiny increase in a temperature and turned it into a trillion dollar industry. And the cover-up began when the correlation stopped.

As for the politicians cited or linked to above, they are either stupid or ignorant or lacking in common sense or too self-important or maybe con-men on the take — or maybe all of the above; hey, they’re politicians! You know our position on all of this: ban argon! HT: PL

They blinded him with science

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Pielke:

Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr., at CU’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on climate change and its economic impacts. His 2013 Senate testimony featured the claim, often repeated, that it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Powerline has more on this increasingly strange group of witch hunters. Ban argon!!

More chickens come home to roost

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Rajendra Pachauri’s hockey stick has a few problems, according to Mark Steyn. We noted some of the issues with this fine gentleman half a decade ago and more. Pull quote from 2007: “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late, there is not time.” Evidently the “action” he was talking about then was seriously misunderstood.

Woof!

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Apropos of what we discussed just yesterday, dog bites man. (Like chooses like to be with and emulate; it is the way of the world.) On the other hand, man bites dog over at CBS. Woof!

Beware of ECBs bearing gifts

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Stratfor:

Greece and its lenders reached a temporary deal late Feb. 20. The agreement was carefully crafted to make both Athens and the reluctant governments of Northern Europe happy, but it comes at the price of postponing a resolution of the crucial issues. As a result, a “Grexit” from the eurozone will be deferred in the immediate term, but the crisis is far from over.

Greece and the Eurogroup agreed to extend Athens’ bailout program for four months. The agreement keeps Greece under the protective umbrella of the European Central Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The ECB will continue to provide liquidity for Greek banks, while the European Union and the IMF will make funds available should Greece need them.

However, this deal has left many questions unanswered. First, Greece promised to present a list of economic reforms — probably focused on cracking down on tax evasion and corruption and reforming Greece’s public administration — by Feb. 23. This list will be further detailed and then agreed upon with the European Union and the IMF by the end of April. In order for Greece to receive the next tranche of the bailout, the European Union and the IMF will have to accept these proposals. (This is probably the part of the deal that made the agreement acceptable for Germany.) Still, the key source of conflict between Athens and Berlin — the specific reforms that Greece will apply in exchange for the bailout money — has only been postponed.

Second, the size of Greece’s primary surplus was also omitted in the agreement. The European Union and the IMF promised Greece to take its economic situation into account when setting a deficit target, a small victory for Athens. This issue will also become problematic again in April, when Athens is supposed to present the exact details of what it plans to do.

In the coming days, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will have to sell the deal to the most radical members of his left-wing Coalition

Alan Greenspan: “I believe they will eventually leave. I don’t think it helps them or the rest of the eurozone — it is just a matter of time before everyone recognises that parting is the best strategy. The problem is that there there is no way that I can conceive of the euro of continuing, unless and until all of the members of eurozone become politically integrated — actually even just fiscally integrated won’t do it.” He’s right of course; it’s just a matter of time. It will be interesting to see if Tsipras can sell this mini-deal at home.

BTW, a decade ago we thought the euro was likely to fail; our reasoning was what is playing out now.

It’s not Washington’s birthday, and other matters

Monday, February 16th, 2015

And February 22nd isn’t either. George Washington was born on February 11, 1731, according to the Julian calendar in use at the time. England and the colonies switched to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, which changed the DOB by a year and 11 days. The government moved the holiday to third Monday in the late sixties, around the time of other convenient scams. Will we ever learn?

Other matters include the enjoyable if very uneven and way too long SNL 40 show. Nice and sentimental to see the geezers. We recall that, if memory serves, NBC gave away tickets on the street for the first few shows, and we turned down tickets to show #2. That was a famous one with Paul Simon, but it seemed kinda late. Also, Jack Cashill notes what some of the now-geezers were doing back in the mid-70’s.

Hmmmm

Friday, February 13th, 2015

There’s a new book by Peter Wallison on the financial crisis of 2008. You know, Lehman Brothers and the expensive disaster that ensued. (We note in passing that Wallison seems to share our opinion of Dodd-Frank.) What’s very interesting is the range of views at Amazon. A lot of 5’s offset by a lot of 1’s. Most curious is that almost all of the 1’s come from people who have no other reviews of books or no other reviews at all, so they’re bogus. That in itself would seem to be a pretty good reason to buy the book. But here’s the question: who are the trolls???

Other than that, it was swell

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Harvard study, page 21:

Dodd-Frank did not mitigate concerns over banking sector concentration: The top five bank-holding companies control nearly the same share of U.S. banking assets as they did in the fiscal quarter before Dodd-Frank’s passage. Meanwhile, community banks with $1 billion or less in assets have seen a significant decline, while large community banks have also suffered losses, albeit at a less drastic pace. The rapid rate of consolidation away from community banks that has occurred since Dodd-Frank’s passage is striking given that this regulatory overhaul was billed as an effort to end “too-big-to-fail.”

Well, it sure dealt well with the pressing issues of Congolese minerals and Chinese drywall.

One of these things might be true

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Guardian

By the end of the century, assuming current CO2 emissions trends continue until the end of the century, Helena, Mont, will see about 85 fewer freezing nights, which is comparable to Lubbock, Texas, today. Buffalo, NY, which currently experience about 124 freezing nights each year, will only see about 57 a year in 2100, making it more like Charlotte, NC. Ann Arbor, Mich, will see less than half its current number of nights below freezing (131), which is more like Huntsville, Ala(60). In fact, more than 80% of the cities we analyzed — 593 of the 697 — could see at least a 50% reduction in number of nights below freezing, and more than 20% — 145 of the 697 — could see at least a 75% reduction. There are even 28 cities, mostly those that currently experience between 10 and 20 nights below freezing, that may see at least a 90% reduction. For these cities, freezing nights will become a rare event that occurs about once a year, comparable to the current conditions in Brownsville at the southern tip of Texas.

Telegraph:

Homewood has now turned his attention to the weather stations across much of the Arctic, between Canada (51 degrees W) and the heart of Siberia (87 degrees E). Again, in nearly every case, the same one-way adjustments have been made, to show warming up to 1 degree C or more higher than was indicated by the data that was actually recorded. This has surprised no one more than Traust Jonsson, who was long in charge of climate research for the Iceland met office (and with whom Homewood has been in touch). Jonsson was amazed to see how the new version completely “disappears” Iceland’s “sea ice years” around 1970, when a period of extreme cooling almost devastated his country’s economy.

As we say, ban the argon. Charts here.

Very unusual, and so forth

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Strong words from the Gallup CEO on the ridicuoulsly low labor force participation rate. Guy’s not with the program. What’s up with that? And the UN reports more horror from ISIS. Finally, China cut reserve requirements. That’s it. Things along the line of the UN report are so awful that words fail.

Mumps, measles, chicken pox, polio, and other diseases

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

LAT:

Gunmen shot and killed four health workers carrying out a polio vaccination drive Wednesday in the capital of Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan province, police officials said. The deadly shooting was the latest to target polio workers — whom Islamist militants accuse of conducting espionage in the guise of vaccination campaigns — in Pakistan, one of three countries where the disease has not been eradicated…Workers administering oral polio drops to the children are frequently attacked across Pakistan, particularly in Baluchistan, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the port city of Karachi and the northeastern tribal areas. Gunmen shot at a polio worker outside Peshawar on Monday when he was visiting houses to administer the vaccine. Jamaat ul Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group later released a “policy statement” on polio saying that the vaccine is “dangerous to health and against Islam.”

AS:

it is absolutely true that I reject a notion that somehow that creates a religious war because the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject that interpretation of Islam. They don’t even recognize it as being Islam, and I think that for us to be successful in fighting this scourge, it’s very important for us to align ourselves with the 99.9 percent of Muslims who are looking for the same thing we’re looking for — order, peace, prosperity.

So vaccines are now controversial in the US as well as Pakistan? People are freaking out over 100 cases of measles? What a world! As a veteran of mumps, measles, chicken pox, German measles and similar things, our recollection is that they were no big deal, a few days off from school. We understand that there are rare acute problems, but those are the exception. Contrast that with polio, a devastating disease all of the time. The quality of a society can be measured by how well it deals with deadly or debilitating diseases. So far the US is not doing well.

Bonus fun: the cheap (and highly profitable) correlation between CO2 increases and a couple of degrees F is having significant problems. We need more witch doctors for more new things to frighten the great unwashed.

Odds and ends

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

What day is it today? Oh, yeah. Scroll down for the final Jeopardy answer. Bjorn Lomborg talks some common sense. And finally, talk about a halftime show!