A Battle Over Uranium Bodes Ill for U.S. Debate
– The future of nuclear power in America is back on the table, with all its vast implications, as global warming revives the search for energy sources that produce less greenhouse gas. But in this depressed corner of western Colorado — one of the first places in the world that uranium, nuclear energy’s primary fuel, was ever dug from the ground in industrial scale — the debate is both simpler and more complicated. A proposal for a new mill to process uranium ore, which would lead to the opening of long-shuttered mines in Colorado and Utah, has brought global and local concerns into collision — jobs, health, class-consciousness and historical memory among them — in ways that suggest, if the pattern here holds, a bitter national debate to come. Opponents say that the nostalgia many residents here cherish about the boom years is the product of willful forgetfulness about the well-documented cancer deaths and environmental destruction the uranium mines produced. They also say that the mill company is cynically exploiting the idea of a return to simpler times.
Deutsche Bank: Portugal likely to seek bailout -The chief economist of Germany’s biggest bank says he expects Portugal to seek a bailout from other eurozone countries soon as the sovereign debt crisis continues to erode market trust. German Sunday newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung quoted Deutsche Bank AG’s Thomas Mayer as saying he "wouldn’t be surprised if Portugal would in the near future seek help in addition to Greece and Ireland." The newspaper further quoted Mayer as saying the government in Lisbon would be "well-advised to move swiftly" under the protection of Europe’s euro750 billion ($980 billion) rescue fund.
Investors Attempting to Dump Bonds Push Bid Index Near Record: Muni Credit – Municipal bond investors are trying to unload holdings at the fastest pace in at least 14 years amid increasing mutual fund redemptions and rising U.S. Treasury rates. Bondholders looked for buyers for about $896 million in municipal securities daily this month through Dec. 22, the most on record, according to a Bloomberg bids-wanted index that dates to Aug. 8, 1996. Sellers sought bids for $783 million on average in March 2008, the second-highest monthly tally, the index shows. Investors pulled the biggest weekly amount of money from fixed-income funds in two years after selling picked up after Meredith Whitney, the banking analyst, on Dec. 19 forecast “hundreds of billions of dollars” in municipal defaults. . Investors have pulled $9.12 billion from municipal funds since the week ended Nov. 11. Mutual fund redemptions lead to bond sales because managers must sell the securities to repay investors. Individual investors make up about 37 percent of the $2.86 trillion muni market, according to Federal Reserve data.
Japan’s Budget May Fail to Spur Growth While Debt Stays High – Japan’s budget plan for next year may fail to achieve the government’s goal of spurring private demand, while making little progress on reducing the country’s debt, Shinkin Asset Management Co. said. Prime Minister Naoto Kan will keep new debt sales at 44.3 trillion yen ($534 billion) in 2011 to finance a record budget of 92.4 trillion yen in the year starting April 1, according to a proposal approved on Dec. 24 by the Cabinet in Tokyo. The Kan administration is trying to reduce a public debt burden about twice the size of gross domestic product, stimulate an economy hit by deflation and a strong yen hurting exporters, and bolster social security spending for an aging society. His latest budget plan may not do much to revive demand, said economist Hiroshi Miyazaki.
Small Beetles Massacre The Rockies’ Whitebark Pines
The Whitebark pine trees in the high-elevation areas of America’s Northern Rockies have stood for centuries. But these formerly lush evergreen forests are disappearing at an alarmingly fast rate; what remains are eerie stands of red and gray snags. Warmer climates have sparked an outbreak of a voracious mountain pine beetle that is having devastating consequences for whitebarks and the wildlife that depend on them. As entomologist Jesse Logan looks up at snow-covered slopes speckled with skeletons of dead trees, he says the massacre is happening faster than even he expected. More than a decade ago, Logan predicted that with global warming, these tiny, ravenous beetles would start to thrive here. At the time, other insect experts were skeptical. But in recent years, winter cold snaps haven’t been nearly as brutal as usual.
Copper May be in 550,000 Ton Deficit in 2011 on Low Stocks, Macquarie Says – The global copper market is estimated to have a 550,000-metric ton deficit next year as falling stockpiles push prices to $5 a pound, Macquarie Bank Ltd. said in a research report today. The forecast was based on an assumption of 4 percent mine supply disruption, or 720,000 tons, with global stocks falling to below three weeks of world consumption, according to the report. It also excluded material that may be held by exchange- traded products launched by BlackRock Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., it said.
Oil shortages could turn outer suburbs into slums – AUSTRALIA will be forced to rely on huge quantities of imported oil unless it radically overhauls its transport and urban policies, according to a study by the Planning Institute of Australia. It warns that without urgent national action the trade deficit will spiral and many outer suburbs will become slums. The study comprises a series of papers in the latest edition of the journal Australian Planner. One of the authors, Professor Peter Newman of Curtin University, who is also an adviser to the federal government, said the most compelling finding was that ”urban sprawl is finished”. ”If we continue to roll out new land [releases] and suburbs that are car dependent, they will become the slums of the future,” he said.
Whopping $69.5 billion debt hangs over city as short- and long-term spending gets cut
– A report from Controller John Liu shows New York is carrying $69.5 billion in debt – the highest level ever. That breaks down to $8,281 for every man, woman and child in the city, 7% higher than a year ago. New York, like most governments, runs up those huge sums on long-term projects like parks and bridges and schools – as well as big tech projects like CityTime – then pays them back over time with interest. "The credit card bills are coming due," Liu said. Many of those projects are worthy, but Mayor Bloomberg has plowed the taxpayers’ money into them like never before – even as he plans to lay off workers and close fire companies at night. "There always has to be a balance. We’re trying to strike that," said Bloomberg spokesman Marc La Vorgna. "We do have to deal with the growing cost of debt service."
At housing court, final pleas to head off evictions
– In the midst of the holiday season, no one wanted to be here. Yet hundreds of people — homeowners, tenants, landlords — mobbed the fifth floor of Boston Housing Court on a recent Thursday, shuffling into courtrooms on what is unofficially known as eviction day. If foreclosure is the final chapter of homeownership, a court eviction hearing is the weary epilogue. Just two years ago, hearings involving foreclosed homeowners were relatively rare, occurring once a month or less. But soaring foreclosures, which have continued to rise in recent months, have flooded the court with such eviction requests. Some manage to postpone eviction, while others are not so lucky.
The UK Inflation Genie Is Out Of The Bottle
– It would be wrong – reckless, in fact, given the slew of recent bad data – to fail to point to the worrying mix of economic issues the UK now faces. During 2011, the British economy will suffer from rising inflation and sluggish (in some quarters, possibly negative) growth. This grim combination will be set against a budgetary situation that can only be described as ghastly. George Osborne was recently in New York, soaking up plaudits for boldly leading Britain into fiscal austerity at a time when, apparently in contrast, America’s feckless political elite has allowed the national debt to balloon. The problem is that UK austerity, so far at least, is a myth. November’s national accounts, released last week, were shocking. Government spending last month was sharply up on the same month in 2009 – yes, up! British state borrowing is still escalating, with the national debt rising very quickly.
EIA Forecasts More Shale Gas Resources And Greater Use
– The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its Annual Energy Outlook 2011 (AEO2011) Early Release Overview last week that dramatically increased its estimate of technically recoverable unproved shale gas resources and raised its forecast of the amount of natural gas to be consumed in the future. Neither of these changes to their annual forecast is a great surprise given ongoing industry trends, but what may be somewhat of a surprise is the smaller increase in gas shale resources compared to the 2009 forecast from the Potential Gas Committee at the Colorado School of Mines.
Arch, Peabody seek coal exporting deals to Asia – China will triple its electricity use by 2035, with coal remaining the dominant fuel, according to a forecast last month by the Paris-based International Energy Agency. The fastest growth will happen during the next five years, as millions of Chinese migrate from the countryside to cities and electricity use per capita continues to rise. For Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch — the nation’s two largest coal producers, both headquartered in the St. Louis region — the rising tide of Asian coal demand couldn’t be better timed. China and India are shopping the globe for new fuel supplies just as legal challenges and fears about climate change are jeopardizing demand at home. For environmentalists, scientists and policymakers worried about the environmental and social cost of coal emissions, the timing couldn’t be worse. To them, sending coal to Asia just means exporting American pollution and climate destruction. Global warming being global, burning coal overseas would have the same impact on rising temperatures and sea levels in the U.S. as burning it here.