Monday, November 2, 2015

Money Flooding Out of Canada at Fastest Pace in Developed World

With the oil boom over, people are putting their money elsewhere according to Bloomberg.
More recent data on where companies and mutual-fund investors are putting their money show the trend extended into the second half of the year, suggesting demand for the Canadian dollar and the country’s assets is still ebbing. The currency is already down 11 percent this year, after touching an 11-year low against the U.S. dollar in September.

"This is Canadian investors that are pushing money abroad," said Alvise Marino, a foreign-exchange strategist at Credit Suisse Group AG in New York. "The policy in Canada the last 10 years has greatly favored investments in energy. Now the drop in oil prices made all that investment unprofitable."

Crude oil, among the nation’s biggest exports, has collapsed to about half its 2014 peak. The slump has derailed projects this year in Canada’s oil sands -- one of the world’s most expensive crude-producing regions. Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s decision to put its Carmon Creek drilling project on ice last week lengthened that list to 18, according to ARC Financial Corp.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Interrupted Sleep Worse Than Lack of Sleep

A new study has come along that says being woken up in the middle of sleeping may be worse than not getting enough sleep.
Patrick Finan, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the university said: “When your sleep is disrupted throughout the night, you don’t have the opportunity to progress through the sleep stages to get the amount of slow-wave sleep that is key to the feeling of restoration.”
Mr Finan said this is important as interrupted sleep is something often experienced by new parents and on-call workers. It is also a common symptom of people with insomnia.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tyrannosaurus Cannibalism

Scientists are discovering evidence that Tyrannosauruses may have eaten one another.
A nasty little 66-million-year-old family secret has been leaked by a recently unearthed tyrannosaur bone. The bone has peculiar teeth marks that strongly suggest it was gnawed by another tyrannosaur. The find could be some of the best evidence yet that tyrannosaurs were not shy about eating their own kind.

"We were out in Wyoming digging up dinosaurs in the Lance Formation," said paleontologist Matthew McLain of Loma Linda University in California. "Someone found a tyrannosaur bone that was broken at both ends. It was covered in grooves. They were very deep grooves."

European Lawmakers in Favour of Snowden

It looks like EU legislators are voting to support Edward Snowden and protect him from US prosecution.
On Thursday, the European Parliament voted 285 to 281 to call on EU member states “to drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistle-blower and international human rights defender.”

The vote is not binding on any particular member state, all of which have extradition treaties with the United States. But it suggests that there is a measure of popular and elite support for the mass-surveillance truth-teller that would be a prerequisite were a European state to defy U.S. pressure and grant Snowden political asylum. “This is not a blow against the US Government, but an open hand extended by friends,” Snowden said in a statement on Twitter. “It is a chance to move forward.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How the Rest of Asia Reacted to US Navy Patrol Near China's Man-Made Island

With the US taking its destroyers past China's artificial islands the other day, there are a lot of stakeholders in the situation. While we know that China was livid, it's still important to note how other powers in the region feel about it.
After months of hand-wringing, on October 27 the U.S. Navy finally began to assert its right to patrol within 12 nautical miles of at least some of China’s reclaimed features in the Spratly Islands. Observers are rightly zeroing in on Beijing’s response. Every detail of the at-sea intercept and Chinese official statements will scrutinized for clues as to how it may react to what will likely be a continuous campaign of freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) in the coming weeks or months.

But it is important to not lose sight of the rest of the region. A secondary objective of the mission is to prove Washington’s credibility as an effective (as well as responsible) security provider. American diplomats and military officials worked hard behind closed doors to garner support before playing a card many consider risky and provocative. On the other hand, the United States is also reportedly taking this opportunity to challenge what it views as excessive maritime claims by some of its own allies and partners.

China Looking to do Business in Syria

While there's still a civil war going on there at the moment, Chinese telecom, Huawei, is looking to do business in Syria after the dust settles.
This isn’t the first time Huawei has gone to work for an authoritarian Middle Eastern regime. In 2011, the company signed a contract to install equipment for Iran’s largest mobile phone company as part of a system to track people’s locations via their cellphone signals. And U.S. intelligence officials have long suspected that the company gives the Chinese government and its security services access to the equipment that it installs, effectively acting as an arm of the Chinese surveillance apparatus.

The Syria deal won’t alleviate those concerns. It runs until 2020 and covers both a short- and long-term plan to repair and develop Syria’s telecom infrastructure, which has been badly damaged by five years of civil war, and says that Huawei will advise the country’s communications and technology ministry.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

China Miffed at US Naval Passage

The US has brought some of its destroyers through waters that China has been trying to claim as its own by making artificial islands there. Unsurprisingly, China isn't happy about that.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen breached the 12-nautical mile zone China claims around Subi and Mischief reefs in the Spratly archipelago.

The freedom of navigation operation is a serious challenge to China's claims over the artificial islands.

Its foreign ministry said the ship had been warned and characterised the act as a "threat to China's sovereignty".

Lu Kang, the spokesman, added that Beijing would "resolutely respond to any country's deliberately provocative actions" and that the ship had been "tracked and warned" while on the mission to deliberately enter the disputed waters.

Meanwhile, US Defence Department spokesman Cdr Bill Urban said that "the United States is conducting routine operations in the South China Sea in accordance with international law".

Monday, October 26, 2015

Why Are Chinese Malls Closing if Consumption is Rising?

Reuters takes a look at the trend of malls closing down in China due to lack of business despite the country's economic data saying that consumption is on the rise.
Rising vacancy rates and plummeting rents are increasingly common in Chinese malls and department stores, despite official data showing a sharp rebound in retail sales that helped the world's second-largest economy beat expectations in the third quarter.

The answer to that apparent contradiction lies in the rising competition from online shopping and government purchases possibly boosting retail statistics. Add poorly managed properties into the equation and the empty malls aren't much of a surprise.

More importantly, the struggles of Chinese brick-and-mortar retailers amplify a policy conundrum; these malls, built to reap gains from rising consumption, are instead adding to China’s corporate debt problem, currently at 160 percent of GDP - twice as high as the United States.

Less foot traffic means cash flow of mall owners and developers are getting squeezed - a potential hazard for an economy growing at its slowest pace in decades.

The Cycle of Corporate Scandals

In the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the BBC has put together a piece examining corporate scandals in general.
Andre Spicer, professor of organisational behaviour at Cass Business School, part of City University in London, has been looking at what companies do in the wake of a crisis. And this very much informs how they approach the next one.

"What you get in the first three to six months is lots of activity. And then they try to scapegoat people, calm it down, and that often works in the short term," he says.

"After that, they often then get rid of even more people who have experience or may have seen what went wrong but weren't involved. They get rid of evidence like reminders from around the building. And you get rid of the stories around it, which is really crucial."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

America's Top Fears

Chapman University has done a survey to see what people in the US are most worried about. It's pretty interesting, and one has to wonder if it gives a hint of how the next batch of presidential candidates will be chosen.

Polish Elections Underway, Euroskeptic Party Could Do Well

Poland is having general elections, and it looks like the country's Euroskeptic could come out rather well in it.
Poland was the only EU nation to avoid recession and it remains one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies. If opinion polls are correct, the country could see its first change of government in eight years, with a clear lead for the rightwing Law and Justice party over the incumbent Civic Platform.

It is not clear if Law and Justice will win enough votes to govern alone or if it will need a coalition partner. The party’s Andrzej Duda won a presidential vote five months ago.

The Roman Catholic church backs Law and Justice, which many analysts say will help it claim victory on Sunday.
Update: The Euroskeptics won.