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News Comment
"A View From Across The Pond" an Englishman's personal view of the week's news in the USA -
from Erithacus

1st September 2001

Stock markets recovered slightly on Friday from their lows of the week and a month that saw the key market indexes not far off their two-year lows hit in April. The Dow Jones index fell below the 10,000 level on Thursday to close at 9919.58, but economic data on Friday indicating the possibility of a recovery in the manufacturing sector raised confidence enough for a gain of 30.17 points to finish the week on 9949.75. Gloomy forecasts from tech manufacturers earlier in the session had dampened enthusiasm, but with the prospect of a long weekend and the markets closed on Monday for Labor Day, investors took the opportunity to buy at what some considered to be bargain prices before close. The Nasdaq index gained 13.75 points and finished at 1805.43.


A report from the Washington-based Institute of International Economics suggests that a rebound for the U.S. economy is solely dependent on productivity – defined as "output per worker". "Provided the productivity trend continues to be strong the economy should recover normally in a few quarters,'" says the report, but warns of dire consequences if the current productivity trend collapses, with the likelihood of a falling dollar, higher inflation, higher unemployment, slower growth and further stock market weakness. The report also suggested the large cut in personal income taxes was ill-timed and ''particularly bad policy''.

The report comes as President George Bush is the center of disagreement between those who believe working Americans should have more time off and those who consider their jobs require their full attention. The President has just returned from 26 days’ vacation at his Texas ranch.
Psychologist Beverly Potter, of Berkeley, California believes that longer holidays could spell disaster. "We are a driven people," she said, "We like working." She added that Many people experience ``extreme stress'' when they're on vacation because they don't know what to do with themselves when they're not working.
I wonder if President Bush would agree?


Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs John Taylor speaking on CNBC on Friday announced that he expects the U.S. economy to avoid recession and for economic growth to increase for the rest of this year. He also predicted a similar upswing for the global economy. "Growth will be stronger next year and increasing gradually for the rest of this year," he said.

Many, however, are less optimistic. Dominic Freud, head of European equities for SG Cowen in New York, said "The confidence level is the lowest I've ever seen -- the mood is dreadful", and Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp, said "Things get gloomier and gloomier..... Companies are not going to have good news to tell us about sales and earnings in the third quarter.'' The mood was not improved by news of further job cuts and a report showing the number of unemployed Americans at a nine-year high. Many traders’ and fund managers’ offices were empty on Friday ahead of Monday’s holiday. "Why come in and knock my head against a wall?" said one, "I can do that more comfortably at home."


I hear that Mexican President Vincente Fox will be visiting the White House next week. The meeting of presidents will be concentrating on issues such as trade, illegal drugs and migration, but this is not the first meeting for the two men. President Bush’s first diplomatic engagement as President was a visit to President Fox (see News Comment on Simply Info USA for 18th February). I wonder whether they will be serving broccoli at the state dinner this time?


We’re in serious trouble.
A tidal wave traveling at 500 mph will hit west Africa, Britain, Spain Portugal, France, The Caribbean and Florida. And maybe a few other places I haven’t mentioned.
According to reports this week, a volcano called Cumbre Vieja on the island of La Palma which is part of the Canary islands, will erupt and cause a huge mountain to slide into the sea causing the largest tidal wave in recorded history. The wave is expected to reach many miles inland and tens of thousands of people may lose their lives.

Reports vary, however, as to when this disaster will happen. While some of the "experts" are saying the risk is negligible because the volcano may only erupt at intervals of more than a century and it may take many eruptions before the collapse of the mountain, others are saying that the risk is imminent.

Will it happen before or after we are struck by a huge comet or asteroid; before or after the polar icecaps melt; before or after a rogue dictator acquires weapons of mass destruction and releases them on us; before or after climate change creates constant tornados, hurricanes, floods, droughts; before or after an atomic powerstation goes into meltdown and burns its way through to the Earth’s core; before or after the aliens land; before or after we’re all destroyed by a giant mutant lizard with an attitude problem? I wonder.

1st September 2001                        

 

 

 

Links to previous news comments:

25-Aug-2001
31-March 2001
25-March-2001
18-March-2001
11-March-2001
04-March-2001
24-Feb-2001
18-Feb-2001
03-Feb-2001
27-Jan-2001
20-Jan-2001
13-Jan-2001
06-Jan-2001
30-Dec-2000

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