Lewis Wickes Hine Newsies in St. Louis, N. Broadway and De Soto 1910
Democracy in progress.
Seven months after he was elected on a promise to overturn austerity, the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has announced that he is stepping down to pave the way for snap elections next month. As the debt-crippled country received the first tranche of a punishing new €86bn bailout, Tsipras said on Thursday he felt “a moral obligation to place this deal in front of the people, to allow them to judge … both what I have achieved, and my mistakes”. The 41-year-old Greek leader is still popular with voters for having at least tried to stand up to the country’s creditors, and his leftwing Syriza party is likely to be returned to power in the imminent general election, which government officials told Greek media was most likely to take place on 20 September.
The prime minister insisted in an address on public television that he was proud of his time in office and had got “a good deal for the country”, despite bringing it “close to the edge”. He added that he was “shortly going to submit my resignation, and the resignation of my government, to the president”. The prime minister will be replaced for the duration of the short campaign by the president of Greece’s supreme court, Vassiliki Thanou-Christophilou – a vocal bailout opponent – as head of a caretaker government. Tsipras won parliamentary backing for the tough bailout programme last week by a comfortable margin, but suffered a major rebellion among members of his ruling Syriza party, nearly one-third of whose 149 MPs either voted against the deal or abstained.
The revolt by hardliners, angry at what they view as a betrayal of the party’s anti-austerity pledges, left Tsipras short of the 120 votes he would need – two-fifths of the 300-seat assembly – to survive a censure motion, leading to speculation that he would call an early confidence vote. He has now decided to skip that step, opting instead to go straight to the country in an attempt to silence the rebels and shore up public support for the three-year bailout programme, which entails a radical overhaul of the Greek economy and major reforms of health, welfare, pensions and taxation.
Government sources had long suggested that an announcement on early elections was on the cards as soon as Athens had got the first instalment of the new package – Greece’s third in five years – and completed a critical €3.4bn debt repayment to the European Central Bank, due on Thursday. Some analysts had speculated that the prime minister might wait until early October, by which time Greece’s creditors would have carried out their first review of the country’s reform progress and perhaps come to a decision about debt relief – a potential vote-winner for the prime minister.
Is Tsipras wise enough to use this to his full advantage?
Rebels from Greece’s main party, left-wing Syriza, are to break away and form a new party, Greek media reports say. Prime minister and Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras stood down on Thursday, paving the way for new elections. The move came after he lost the support of many of his own MPs in a vote on the country’s new bailout with European creditors earlier this month. Greek media reports say 25 rebel Syriza MPs will join the new party, called Leiki Anotita (Popular Unity). The party will be led by former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who was strongly opposed to the bailout deal, reports say. A list of MPs joining the party published by the Ta Nea newspaper showed that the parliamentary speaker Zoe Konstantopulou and former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis were not among its members. Both had opposed a new bailout deal, with Ms Konstantopulou highly critical of her former ally Mr Tsipras.
From Beppe Grillo’s parliamentarians. Dead on. “The 5 Star MoVement wants to show Europe what it means to have people in government who are free to make decisions.”
“From Crete to Santorini, from Mykonos to Thessaloniki – it’s official: 14 of the Greek airports making the most money, will be handed over to Germany until 2055. Before now, things were conquered with wars. Now it’s done with the Euro. In Italy, companies called Lamborghini, Ducati, Italcementi and other giants have been in German hands for more than a year. Parmalat, Galbani, Eridania, Bulgari, Gucci, Buitoni, Sanpellegrino, Perugina, and Motta have landed up in French hands. Between 2008 and 2013, 437 of the most famous Italian brands have ended up in foreign hands. They’ve converted us into an outlet, where they come “shopping” from all over the world and the government doesn’t even notice. Recently, English and South Africans have bought Peroni beer and Gancia sparkling wine.
And that’s not considering Ansaldo that’s gone to the Japanese, Terna and Pirelli to the Chinese, and the Valentino brand to the Arabs. And how much longer before the Colosseum gets purchased? Greece was first strangled by the conditions to get their budget balanced for the Euro, those same constraints that Germany and France allowed themselves not to respect on so many occasions. Now that the country is totally dependent on the transfer of funds from the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, they are being obliged to give up the family jewels in exchange for a bit of small change. In these new wars of conquest, Germany and France are acting like their masters.
In Greece, they are buying up the services that make the most money: last year Greece had a record number of 23 million tourists and it’s obvious that the airports are a gold-mine. This is why they want them. And in exchange the banks can open their doors. In Italy, on the other hand, they have bought up the “Made in Italy” companies, with a quasi-military strategy. First, the governments led by the PD, Forza Italia and Lega, strangled them by increasing taxes, because “it’s what Europe asked us to do”. Then, that same “Europe” (in actual fact the Franco-German alliance) bought them up from owners who found their backs to the wall. A bit like what happens in war-time when cities are razed to the ground and then the reconstruction business starts.
Europe needs to experience once more the joy of having sovereign states, states that don’t accept being bought out while saying “thank you”. If you want to give us the possibility of governing, our idea of Italy is clear: we want to bring back home many of the excellent companies that are Made in Italy. We could do this by using the Italian Strategic Fund of the Cassa Depositi e Prestiti that will be able to buy them. By buying back these “family jewels” we are creating an opportunity to relaunch top quality employment in Italy. Profits from “Made in Italy” will stay in Italy and will make Italy rich. We must also have discussions about thie “Euro” that cannot be a weapon used to colonise other States. The 5 Star MoVement wants to show Europe what it means to have people in government who are free to make decisions.”
Asian stocks tumbled with U.S. index futures, oil and emerging currencies as a gauge of Chinese manufacturing plunged to the lowest since 2009, underscoring the weakness in global demand. Gold and the yen extended gains. Benchmark gauges in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia headed for bear markets, dragging down the MSCI Asia Pacific Index by 2.4% at 2:34 p.m. in Tokyo. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures dropped 0.5% after the gauge fell the most in 18 months. Gold is set for its biggest weekly advance since January as the selloff in emerging markets spreads. U.S. oil headed for an eighth straight weekly slide, its longest streak since 1986. “We’ve been expecting a correction and it looks like we’re getting one,” said Mark Lister at Craigs Investment Partners.
“The S&P had held up, now it’s back in negative territory. The whole world’s looking a little bit sad. China still looks really worrying on a number of fronts.” China’s decision to devalue its currency amid slowing growth and the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates has spurred a wave of selling across emerging markets and commodities. The first read on Chinese economic activity in August added to concern that the slowdown in global growth is deepening, boosting the appeal of haven assets such as gold, the yen and sovereign bonds. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index is heading for its biggest weekly loss since 2011. Japan’s Topix index slid the most since July 8 on Friday and the Kospi gauge in Seoul set for its worst week since May 2012. The MSCI All-Country World Index has lost 3.1% this week.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 2.3%, taking declines since an April high beyond 20%. Taiwan’s benchmark gauge dropped 2.7% to finish in a bear market and the Jakarta Composite Index slid 2.1%. The Shanghai Composite Index slumped 3%, taking the week’s loss beyond 10%. The gauge briefly erased all its gains since the government began efforts to prop up the market in July. About $2.2 trillion was wiped from the value of global stocks in the first four days of the week. The S&P 500 slipped out of the 70-point trading range it has been stuck in since March, falling below 2,040 to as low as 2,035.73 on Thursday. It closed below its 200-day moving average for the first time since July 9.
The Federal Reserve will decide whether to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006 on Sept. 18. Bets on liftoff taking place next month have been wound back since the last meeting as oil slumped, China cut the value of its currency and the Fed’s own minutes showed concern among policymakers about the pace of inflation. The decision is “only four weeks away and the world’s looking pretty vulnerable,” said Stephen Halmarick at Colonial First State Investment. “If they delay you might see some support coming through to U.S. markets because then the dollar probably comes down a bit from where it is now and some of those pressure points may be relieved, at least in the short term.”
Everyone’s sinking now.
Stock markets across Asia-Pacific went into “panic mode” on Friday after more signs of a weakening Chinese economy compounded overnight losses on Wall Street and European bourses. China’s factory sector shrank at its fastest pace in more than six years in August as domestic and export demand dwindled, a private survey showed, adding to worries that the world’s second-largest economy may be slowing sharply and sending financial markets into a tailspin. China’s surprise devaluation of the yuan and heavy selling in its stock markets in recent weeks have sparked fears that it could be at risk of a hard landing which would hammer world growth. Markets in countries whose economic fortunes are closely linked to China’s growth tumbled.
Japan’s Nikkei average dropped more than 2% to six-week lows on Friday while the Kopsi index in South Korea fell 2.25%. Shares in Australia are having their worst month since the global financial crisis hit in October 2008. On Friday afternoon the benchmark ASX200 was down 2.2% at 5,173 points and is down 8.8% so far in August, according to broker Commsec. The Australian dollar was also hammered, falling 0.5% to as low as US72.85c. The Aussie, which is seen as a proxy for the Chinese economy, has fallen about 1% in the past week. The Hang Seng stock index in Hong Kong was down 2.32% while the Shanghai Composite index was 3% lower.
Commodities also suffered. US crude hit fresh six and a half year lows near $40 a barrel as it headed for its eighth straight weekly decline, the longest weekly losing streak since 1986. Brent crude for October delivery was down 29c at $46.33. “Global markets are in panic mode as the full scale of China’s slowdown becomes clearer,” said Angus Nicholson at IG Markets in Sydney. The long-awaited interest rate rise by the US federal reserve, pencilled in for as early as September by many analysts, was now looking much less likely, Nicholson added. “The potential for further devaluations in the Chinese yuan not only make a US rate hike in September unlikely, but increasingly even put a December rate hike at risk.”
Deflation in action.
The value that commodity producers have lost in the past year almost equals India’s entire economy. Slumping prices for raw materials have wiped out $2.05 trillion from the shares of mining and oil companies since the middle of last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. That compares with India’s $2.07 trillion gross domestic product. Prices plunged after years of overinvestment led to a supply glut at the same time that economic growth is slowing in China, the biggest consumer of commodities. The Bloomberg Commodity Index of 22 raw materials dropped Wednesday to its lowest since 2002, paced this year by declines in nickel, sugar, and crude oil.
Oil companies have reduced spending by $180 billion this year while maintaining dividends, according to Rystad Energy, an Oslo-based energy consultant. As a prolonged decline lowers revenue, it may be harder for the industry to avoid slashing payments. “The energy is the worst, the materials, industrials have been a disaster,” says Donald Selkin at National Securities Corp. in New York. “The problem is their ability to pay dividends. That’s the question, as far as the valuation is concerned.” Another blow has come from a stronger dollar. Currencies of commodity producers in such countries as Canada and Russia are slumping, lowering production costs. That’s helped boost Russian oil supply to a post-Soviet high this year, adding to the global glut.
Is this a question?
The jitters in the City have nothing to do with the state of the UK economy and nothing to do with the speculation that Greece might eventually be forced out of the single currency. They have everything to do with concerns that the next global financial crisis has begun in emerging markets. As ever, the riposte to this suggestion is “it’s different this time”, with good reason considered the four most dangerous words in financial markets. Panglossian investors can always think up a hundred reasons why it’s different this time, up to the moment when reality smacks them in the face.
The optimists argue that China is adroitly easing its way to slower but more sustainable growth, that the fall in commodity prices has been caused by over-supply rather than a shortage of demand, and that the rest of the world has had plenty of opportunity to prepare itself for an increase in interest rates from the Federal Reserve later this year. The pessimists would say that China’s hard landing is being disguised by dodgy official figures, that oil and metals prices are falling because demand is faltering and that the $1tn of capital that has flowed out of emerging markets in the past year is evidence of a sharp drop in investor confidence.
As Russell Jones and Bimal Dharmasena of Llewellyn Consulting note: “The export-led model has run its course. In many ways, it sowed the seeds of its own destruction, the emphasis on exchange rate competitiveness and foreign exchange reserve accumulation morphing into undue monetary laxity, excessive credit growth, asset price inflation, income inequalities, and malign financial imbalances similar to those built up in the advanced economies pre-2007.” Many emerging market countries assumed that high commodity prices would last for ever. They spent up to their income, and then some. They now have a twin deficit problem: they are running budget and current account deficits. Capital flowed into emerging markets when zero interest rates in the west set off a search for higher yield in markets that were seen as a bit riskier but still safe. Now those markets are seen as not nearly so safe as they were and a lot riskier than the west.
“Beijing will have to choose between propping up the equity market and defending the currency from further downside pressure: “They will not be able to do both.”
Trade slowing, currencies weakening, stocks falling, economic growth waning and political wobbles emerging. 2015 is proving a bumpy year in what’s meant to be the Asian century. The confluence of stresses – from China’s slowdown, the fallout from the yuan’s devaluation, doubts over Abenomics, disappointment with Modi and Jokowi, and deepening vulnerabilities among smaller economies – comes as the Federal Reserve contemplates raising interest rates for the first time in almost a decade. Weakening currencies can help boost export competitiveness, but also raise the cost of servicing U.S. dollar debt. And when devaluations start spreading, there are fears of a new currency war.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists say they’re concerned about the competitive impact on the rest of Asia from a weaker yuan, as China’s market share of exports to the U.S. and the EU was growing even before the devaluation. Demand for Asian-made goods was already stumbling amid uneven recoveries in the U.S. and Europe before the yuan devaluation. Now, “northeast Asia will likely face greater competitive pressures from China’s devaluation given stronger trade linkages and overlapping exports,” BofA economists say. Asian stocks have reflected the worsening outlook. China has seen the wildest ride, with a first-half surge reversing course since June. While China’s FX hoard is the envy of the world, even it isn’t bottomless. Analysts at BMI Research say Beijing will have to choose between propping up the equity market and defending the currency from further downside pressure: “They will not be able to do both.”
Re: Nicole’s eroding Trust Horizon: “China is facing an “erosion in trust in government (stock bubble, Tianjin blast, etc.)” both at home and abroad.”
By the way, Brussels wants the same as Beijing: no responsibility.
Forty-three years after Richard Nixon made his famous visit to China, that country has seemingly decided to take a page from the former U.S. president’s Treasury Department. As China lowers the value of the yuan, the country’s economic policy makers are mimicking the blasé attitude of Nixon-era Treasury chief John Connally, who dismissed international complaints about U.S. monetary policy with a curt remark: “It’s our currency, but it’s your problem.” To be fair, Japan has acted with similar self-interest since late 2012, when its 35% devaluation began. But that raises a prickly question: What options do Asia’s smaller economies have when the region’s two biggest seem intent on passing their own vulnerabilities onto everyone else?
China will be watching closely for the region’s response, for economic as well as political reasons. Beijing’s designs for regional leadership have always depended on winning the loyalty of its neighbors in order to reduce America’s financial, diplomatic and military role in Asia. Vietnam has already initiated a devaluation of its own, lowering the value of the dong by 1% on Wednesday in order to keep pace with China. Less clear are the potential responses of South Korea, Indonesia or the Philippines. China claims it’s just doing what the IMF asked in moving to a more market-determined exchange rate. But markets have taken so badly to China’s 3% devaluation because no one really believes President Xi Jinping’s government when it says bigger drops aren’t coming.
Take yesterday’s Bloomberg News report that China’s wealthiest investors have been the quickest to bail out of plunging stocks. China would surely deny Communist Party cronies are getting tipoffs on when it’s best to sell, but investors would be forgiven if they felt skeptical. The government’s obsessive efforts to censor deadly explosions at a toxic-material warehouse in Tianjin have only fed suspicions that Xi’s team is obfuscating on economic matters, too. As Patrick Chovanec of Silvercrest Asset Management told me in a Twitter exchange, China is facing an “erosion in trust in government (stock bubble, Tianjin blast, etc.)” both at home and abroad.
Another strong outing by Stockman
It’s getting downright hazardous out there, and not just because the robo-machines were slamming the “sell” key today. The real danger comes from the loose assemblage of official institutions which claim to be running the world. They might better be referred to as “can kickers united.” It is now blindingly obvious that they have lapsed into empty ritualism, contrivance and double-talk in the face of a global economy and financial system that is becoming more unstable and incendiary by the day. Who in their right mind would pile $95 billion of new debt on the busted remnants of Greece? Likewise, how can Japan possibly consider enacting still another round of fiscal stimulus, as did Prime Minister Abe’s chief advisor recently, when it already has one quadrillion yen of debt?
And what geniuses are trying to fix the bankrupt finances of China’s local governments by swapping trillions of crushing bank loans for equivalent mountains of new municipal bonds? But it is on the home front where kicking the can has been taken to an egregious extreme. By what rational calculus can it be said, as the Fed did in its meeting minutes today, that 80 months of free money has not quite yet done the job? And that is exactly what these mountebanks had to say:
“The Committee concluded that, although it had seen further progress, the economic conditions warranting an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate had not yet been met. Members generally agreed that additional information on the outlook would be necessary before deciding to implement an increase in the target range.”
Say again! We are now 74 months into a so-called “recovery” cycle that is well longer than the post-war average, yet the Fed is still manning the emergency fire hoses.
Some of you might remember the glossy highly produced advertisements back in the early 1980s when Wall Street decided it was time to turn American retirement plans into casinos. The slow and agonizing death of the pension plan was supposed to be replaced by the beautiful and wonderful world of the 401(k) plan. Save for 30 years and in the end, you will be a millionaire just like your friends on Wall Street that sincerely care about your financial future. Of course since then, we have found out about junk bond scandals, mutual fund fees that make loan sharks look conservative, and of course the financial shenanigans of giving people toxic mortgages that were essentially ticking time bombs of destruction. This was the industry that was put in charge of helping you plan for your future. We are now a generation out from those slick ads and the results have been disastrous for most Americans.
A recent analysis found that half of US households 55 and older have no money stashed away for retirement. Planning for retirement takes time. Saving money is a slow process. There was a time when simply stashing money into CDs and savings bonds was enough to have a nice nest egg if you were diligent enough. Yet for the last decade, most banks are paying close to 0% on their savings accounts thanks to the Fed’s low rate policy to juice the markets. Since the true inflation rate is much higher, you are essentially letting your money rot away. So the only other option is for people to invest in the stock market or try to leverage into real estate. The stock market is largely an arena for the wealthy. Half of Americans own no stocks at all. Now after a generation, we are finding out that most people did not follow in the footsteps of those glossy over produced retirement ads.
Much of it is of his own making.
The euro area’s monetary-policy makers aren’t getting to slumber through the dog days of August. Even with talks over Greece’s third bailout wrapped up, European Central Bank officials are having their repose disturbed by developments that could jolt their plan to revive the region’s economy. In coming weeks, they’ll have to deal with a world in which China has devalued its currency, oil has slumped to almost $40 a barrel, and investors in emerging markets are walking wounded. The ECB’s Governing Council meets in Frankfurt on Sept. 3, sandwiched between the U.S. Federal Reserve’s annual policy pow-wow in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and a gathering of Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers in Ankara.
As the Fed considers raising its interest rates as soon as next month, ECB President Mario Draghi and his colleagues could find themselves discussing policy action of a very different kind. “The pressure for the ECB to bring forward the discussion about an extension or expansion of its quantitative-easing program beyond summer 2016 has increased significantly,” said Ruben Segura-Cayuela at BofAML. “Deflationary pressures coming from China, emerging markets and the decline of commodities’ prices are making it harder for the ECB to hit its inflation target.” In assessing whether they’ll reach that goal – inflation of just under 2%, compared with 0.2% in July – the ECB is watchful of how investors hedge against prices in the future. Since the end of July, the outlook has worsened.
So-called five-year, five-year forward inflation swaps show that market-based consumer-price expectations slid to about 1.6% this month, almost as low as when QE started in March. The drop in the price of oil, down by a third since June, and cheaper imports into Europe as Asian currencies follow the yuan lower, may compound the problem. Adding to the uncertainty, the Greek government plans to hold an election on Sept. 20, just before the first review of its new bailout program. Stubbornly low inflation in the euro area – as in the U.S. and the U.K. – increases the risk that broad-based price decreases, or deflation, could creep in. It also drags on economic growth, which slowed to a sluggish 0.3% in the 19-nation bloc last quarter. This month’s inflation figures will be published on Aug. 31.
When will internal trouble start?
The oil price was near its lowest in more than a decade, cash reserves were being depleted, emerging markets were in turmoil and Saudi Arabia was beginning to panic. “It was a very scary moment,” said Khalid Alsweilem, former head of investment at the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, the country’s central bank. “And luckily at that point, oil prices started going up. Not by design, by good luck.” That was 1998, and now Saudi Arabia’s fortunes threaten to turn again. This time, luck might not be enough as the government tries to protect the wealth of a nation whose economy has swelled by five times since then. The bastion of conservative Sunni Islam also is paying for an expanding role in regional conflicts in the face of a resurgent Iran and Islamic State extremists who have bombed Saudi mosques.
Economists are predicting a budget deficit of as much as 20% of GDP and the IMF forecasts a first Saudi current-account deficit in more than a decade. Reserves at the central bank tumbled 10% from a year ago, or by more than $70 billion. As a result, bets on the devaluation of the riyal are surging. The Tadawul All Share Index lost 18% in the past three months and dragged stocks down across the Gulf region. The benchmark’s moving averages made a so-called death cross on Aug. 18, a sign to some investors that more losses are ahead. The Saudis have “played a waiting game,” Robert Burgess at Deutsche Bank said. “The budget for next year is going to be a very important milestone that the markets are going to be focusing on quite intently.”
With oil prices down by more than half over the past 12 months to below $50, Saudi Arabia faces many of the same financial problems it did in 1998. The difference is the sheer cost of maintaining the state as an employment machine and guarantor of the riches that Saudis have become accustomed to since the last squeeze. Subsidized gasoline costs 16 cents per liter and while there’s the religious levy called zakat, there is no personal income tax in the nation of 30 million people. “The Saudi government can’t continue to be the employer of first resort, it can’t continue to drive economic growth through the big infrastructure projects and it can’t keep lavishing on subsidies and social spending,” said Farouk Soussa at Citigroup.
Can’t keep the Ponzi going without new ‘candidates’.
The number of new homes being started in England fell at its steepest rate for three years in the last quarter, official figures show. The 14% drop in housing starts to 33,280 in the period from April to June is the biggest decline since the first three months of 2012, according to seasonally adjusted government data. Starts are 6% lower year on year. It means the pace of new housebuilding is 32% below the peak level in 2007, but remains nearly double the trough it reached during the financial crisis in 2009. The fall comes after a 29% rise in the first quarter of this year, the biggest increase on records going back to 2006. For the year to June 2015, there was a total of 136,320 starts, down 1% on the year before, according to the figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Housing completions for the quarter were 4% up on the previous period at 35,640, and 22% up year on year. But they remain 26% below their 2007 peak. In the year to June, completions totalled 131,060, a 15% increase on the previous 12-month period. The housing charity Shelter said this was only half the 250,000 needed to deal with the country’s housing shortage. Its chief executive, Campbell Robb, said: “Once again, these figures show that we’re not building anywhere near the number of homes needed each year, leaving millions of ordinary, hardworking people priced out. “And worryingly, despite claims by the government that progress is being made to solve our chronic housing shortage, the number of new homes started has actually decreased.”
This will get much, much worse.
Brazil’s unemployment rate surged to a five-year high last month and came in far above forecasts as the country’s troubled economy likely took a turn for the worse. The jobless rate in six major metropolitan areas jumped to 7.5% in July from 6.9% in June, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, or IBGE, said Thursday. Economists polled by the local Agência Estado newswire had forecast a median unemployment rate of 7%. The swift deterioration in Brazil’s job market comes as the nation’s economy is expected to suffer its deepest recession in more than two decades this year, with economists calling for a contraction of more than 2%. Most now expect the decline to continue, albeit at a more moderate pace, through 2016.
Rising unemployment could ramp up the pressure on Brazil’s embattled president, Dilma Rousseff, whose approval ratings have plunged to a record-low 8% just 10 months after she was elected to a second term. Ms. Rousseff’s popularity has been weighed down by the bad economy, rising inflation, and a massive corruption scandal surrounding state-run energy firm Petróleo Brasileiro SA, where she served as chairwoman from 2003 to 2010.
Ms. Rousseff’s administration is struggling to push fiscal austerity measures through an unruly Congress in hopes of clamping down on the government’s swelling budget deficit. At stake is Brazil’s investment-grade credit rating which, if lost, would trigger higher borrowing costs and huge outflows of foreign money from foreign investment funds. Antigovernment lawmakers—and thousands of protesters who took to the streets on Sunday—are even calling for Ms. Rousseff’s impeachment, though legal experts say there appears to be little justification for such a move.
Past point of no return.
The world broke new heat records in July, marking the hottest month in history and the warmest first seven months of the year since modern record-keeping began in 1880, US authorities said Thursday. The findings by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed a troubling trend, as the planet continues to warm due to the burning of fossil fuels, and scientists expect the scorching temperatures to get worse. “The world is warming. It is continuing to warm. That is being shown time and time again in our data,” said Jake Crouch, physical scientist at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “Now that we are fairly certain that 2015 will be the warmest year on record, it is time to start looking at what are the impacts of that? What does that mean for people on the ground?” he told reporters.
The month’s average temperature across land and sea surfaces worldwide was 61.86 Fahrenheit (16.61 Celsius), marking the hottest July ever. The previous record for July was set in 1998. “This was also the all-time highest monthly temperature in the 1880-2015 record,” said NOAA in its monthly climate report. “The first seven months of the year (January-July) were also all-time record warm for the globe,” NOAA said. When scientists looked at temperatures for the year-to-date, they found land and ocean surfaces were 1.53 F (0.85 C) above the 20th century average. “This was the highest for January-July in the 1880-2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2010 by 0.16 F (0.09 C).”
The most deadly and most tragic species.
Want to see what science now calls the world’s “super predator”? Look in the mirror. Research published today in the journal Science by a team led by Dr. Chris Darimont, the Hakai-Raincoast professor of geography at the University of Victoria, reveals new insight behind widespread wildlife extinctions, shrinking fish sizes and disruptions to global food chains. “These are extreme outcomes that non-human predators seldom impose,” Darimont’s team writes in the article titled “The Unique Ecology of Human Predators.” “Our wickedly efficient killing technology, global economic systems and resource management that prioritize short-term benefits to humanity have given rise to the human super predator,” says Darimont, also science director for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
“Our impacts are as extreme as our behaviour and the planet bears the burden of our predatory dominance.” The team’s global analysis indicates that humans typically exploit adult fish populations at 14 times the rate of marine predators. Humans hunt and kill large land carnivores such as bears, wolves and lions at nine times the rate that these predatory animals kill each other in the wild. Humanity also departs fundamentally from predation in nature by targeting adult quarry. “Whereas predators primarily target the juveniles or ‘reproductive interest’ of populations, humans draw down the ‘reproductive capital’ by exploiting adult prey,” says co-author Dr. Tom Reimchen, biology professor at UVic. Reimchen originally formulated these ideas during long-term research on freshwater fish and their predators at a remote lake on Haida Gwaii, an archipelago on the northern coast of British Columbia.
This is going to break Brussels.
Macedonia is a key route for migrants trying to reach prosperous northern EU countries (archive picture) Macedonian police have fired tear gas to disperse thousands of migrants trying to enter from Greece. It comes a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency in two border regions to cope with an influx of migrants, many from the Middle East. Large numbers spent the night stuck on Macedonia’s southern frontier, and tried to charge police in the morning. The Balkan nation has become a major transit point for migrants trying to reach northern EU members. Some 44,000 people have reportedly travelled through Macedonia in the past two months, many of whom are escaping the conflict in Syria.