Archive for the ‘interesting’ Category

Ike hits Texas’ Economy

 

North Texas may see a spike in the price of gasoline and supply shortages next week, depending on how hard Hurricane Ike hits Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

Ike has also halted imports and exports at the Port of Houston, air travel to Gulf Coast cities and rail service out of the region. – all critical to the Texas economy.

At an evening news conference, state officials estimated that the economic impact would reach $81 billion – and could creep up to $100 billion over the next 24 hours.

As the storm approached this week, at least nine Houston-area refineries evacuated workers and shut down. The nine, including refineries owned by Irving-based Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell, are responsible for refining 2.3 million barrels of oil per day.Flooding is a major concern with Ike as most of the refineries are on the water. Ike is expected to have a very large storm surge because of its size.

Even if flooding is not severe, it will take time to move employees back into the area.

Most important, experts said, the extent of damage to the power grid could determine how long refineries stay out of commission.

 

Shutdowns 

Meanwhile, other aspects of Texas infrastructure are facing shutdowns and slowdowns. The Port of Houston plans to shut down its cargo operations during the weekend, and air and rail travel out of the area are on hold.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest U.S. retailer, and Home Depot Inc., the second-largest, have major import facilities in Baytown.

Wal-Mart’s emergency management team senior operations manager, Bryan Koon, said Ike has been on the company’s radar for at least two weeks. Wal-Mart has diverted shipments to Los Angeles and Savannah, Ga., and some boats are holding at sea until the storm passes. This week, containers in port were moved to safer ground, he said.

 

 

 

Air travel 

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co., American Airlines and other airlines canceled flights to Houston and Corpus Christi.

Fort Worth-based Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad closed its Houston and Galveston operations Thursday, and it removed equipment from the areas expected to be hit by Ike.

Union Pacific Railroad removed 4,000 rail cars and 200 locomotives from areas expected to be affected by the hurricane.

 

Some Comments from http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Many citizens evacuated, some freely, some forced to leave the area. It cost $600 to $1,000 dollars to evacuate, lodged a couple days and return home. It is hard for some to imagine many of these people will be returning home not only to destruction, insurance issues and higher premiums but loss jobs and incomes as well. That adds to unemployment, benefit needs and financial problems like foreclosures and credit issues. They and my fellow residents are in my prayers. We have all struggled with destructive storms for the past couple months.

  Another one says
I’ve been working in the Houston refinery and chemical complex for most of my working life, and my dad did the same before me. If we get a 15+ foot storm surge up the Houston Ship Channel, it’s going to flood refineries, and that’s going to be an economic disaster. Those refineries are miles and miles of pipes, thousands of valves, tens of thousands of instruments and control system devices, and if that stuff goes under water, those places are out of business for months. Knock 25% of America’s refining capacity down for a month or so, and you’re going to be paying $7.00 a gallon for gas – if you can find it at all.

Is America really going vote for Sarah Palin

Wake up America!

Are you guys really going to vote for someone who trusts someone like Sarah Palin.

 

In India the President who is a figure head was chosen because she was a woman and to aplease some sentiments. But atleast she keeps a low profile and is silient about her ignorance. Sarah Palin screams it aloud for anyone who cares to hear.

From www. huffingtonpost.com the extacts of her interview with ABC News

 

Palin on what it would take to invade Russia:

When Gibson said if under the NATO treaty, the United States would have to go to war if Russia again invaded Georgia, Palin responded: “Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help.

“And we’ve got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable,” she told Gibson.


Palin asked about the Bush Doctrine… She doesn’t know:

 

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine? PALIN: In what respect, Charlie? GIBSON: The Bush — well, what do you — what do you interpret it to be? PALIN: His world view. GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war. PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that’s the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better. GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?

PALIN: Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend.

 

Thank you Radio Islam

The popular South Africian radio – Radio Islam invited me to speak on ecomic issues realed to oil prices on the 3rd of September 2008. It was a pleasure speaking to them on this important issue

Will health insurance in New Orleans rise too?

Fox News reports that there are serious long term health effects of Hurricane gustav

Will we see a rise in health insurance rates in New Orleans and other places which have chronic problems like earthquakes in California or snow storms in Alaska

Below are some of the possible hort term and long term health effects of Gustav

1. Exposure to toxic contaminants. As adults and children crowd into homes and shelters, one of the biggest threats is exposure to toxic substances such as carbon monoxide, Alvarez said.

This threat stems from the use of indoor portable generators, charcoal grills, or camp stoves during power outages.

“One has to be careful because carbon monoxide is a silent killer,” Alvarez said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 51 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning, including five deaths, in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi during and after Hurricane Katrina.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is hard to diagnose but known symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion, according to the CDC.

It should be noted that medical experts recommend not using devices powered by charcoal, gasoline and kerosene indoors. These devices should only be used in well-ventilated areas.

2. Increased risk for West Nile virus. Louisiana and other Gulf Coast regions are hotbeds for this mosquito-borne illness. And the standing water left after a hurricane is breeding ground for mosquitoes and only leaves residents more vulnerable to this potentially fatal virus, Alvarez said.

“The disease has the potential to effect dozens of people after the hurricane, possibly killing some,” he said.

The CDC reported a 2-fold increase in West Nile cases in the Gulf Coast region following Hurricane Katrina.

West Nile is transmitted through the mosquito bites. There is no vaccine. The disease is usually symptomless but can result in encephalitis or swelling of the brain, which can be fatal. Residents who remain in the Gulf Coast region following Gustav should remove any pools of standing water from their living areas and use mosquito repellent to minimize their chances of being bitten.

3. Contaminated water. The flooding caused by Hurricane Gustav has the potential contaminate water supplies with fecal matter. Drinking and bathing in water contaminated with fecal matter can result in the spread of e. coli and the norovirus, which can result in diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea and dehydration.

Residents should only drink bottled water. Tap water can be disinfected by adding 1/8 teaspoon unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of clear water or 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of cloudy water. Toys and other items that come into contact with contaminated water should be disinfected before use. Alcohol-based sanitizers may be used to clean hands in absence of clean tap water.

4. Mental health. Many residents in the Gulf Coast are experiencing the effects of a hurricane for the second time in three years.

“Depression is still a chronic public health issue for residents who experienced the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina,” he said. “And this is something that really needs to be monitored this time around.”

Residents, especially children, should be watched and provided with medical assistance for symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, Alvarez said.

5. Child asthma. The high winds of Hurricane Gustav will cause both toxic and non-toxic chemicals and gases to fill the air around the Gulf Coast. This can be especially harmful to children who suffer from asthma. Alavarez recommended that parents and rescue workers monitor children for signs of asthma and to ensure that asthma medication is readily available to youths.

Doing the Olympics Medal Tally

In my previous post http://moneymanagement.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/the-economics-of-olympics/

I had included a computation by Price Water Cooper house about the expectation of medal tallies

So how near were they to reality?

Though the number one two and three ranking were in the right order, the number of medals won were severely underestimated.

Also underestimated were the winning by U.K. , Ukraine and Cuba

Here is the actual medal tally

China has the most gold though lesser medals in number than USA

Country

Medals Total
CHN China 100
USA United States 110
RUS Russia 72
GBR Great Britain 47
GER Germany 41
AUS Australia 46
KOR South Korea 31
JPN Japan 25
ITA Italy 28
FRA France 40
UKR Ukraine 27
NED Netherlands 16
JAM Jamaica 11
ESP Spain 18
KEN Kenya 14
BLR Belarus 19
ROM Romania 8
ETH Ethiopia 7
CAN Canada 18
POL Poland 10
HUN Hungary 10
NOR Norway 10
BRA Brazil 15
CZE Czech Republic 6
SVK Slovakia 6
NZL New Zealand 9
GEO Georgia 6
CUB Cuba 24
KAZ Kazakhstan 13
DEN Denmark 7
MGL Mongolia 4
THA Thailand 4
PRK North Korea 6
ARG Argentina 6
SUI Switzerland 6
MEX Mexico 3
TUR Turkey 8
ZIM Zimbabwe 4
AZE Azerbaijan 7
UZB Uzbekistan 6
SLO Slovenia 5
BUL Bulgaria 5
INA Indonesia 5
FIN Finland 4
LAT Latvia 3
BEL Belgium 2
DOM Dominican Republic 2
EST Estonia 2
POR Portugal 2
IND India 3
IRI Iran 2
BRN Bahrain 1
CMR Cameroon 1
PAN Panama 1
TUN Tunisia 1
SWE Sweden 5
CRO Croatia 5
LTU Lithuania 5
GRE Greece 4
TRI Trinidad and Tobago 2
NGR Nigeria 4
AUT Austria 3
EIR Ireland 3
SRB Serbia 3
ALG Algeria 2
BAH Bahamas 2
COL Colombia 2
KGZ Kirghyzstan 2
MAR Morocco 2
TJK Tajikistan 2
CHI Chile 1
ECU Ecuador 1
ISL Iceland 1
MAS Malaysia 1
RSA South Africa 1
SIN Singapore 1
SUD Sudan 1
VIE Vietnam 1
ARM Armenia 6
TPE Chinese Taipei 4
AFG Afghanistan 1
EGY Egypt 1
ISR Israel 1
MDA Moldova 1
MRI Mauritius 1
TOG Togo 1
VEN Venezuela 1

Iphone anyone?…naaah

The launch of the iconic handset in India had “none of the mass hysteria” that accompanied its debut in the US, Europe and other parts of Asia in July. Priced at $700-$800 in India, or twice the monthly salary of a white collar middle manager, the iPhone response was predicted. Still, it was an “enthusiastic reception,” and for those who can afford it, the phone gives them bragging rights in a country where mobile phones are still seen as “symbols of status and success,” and where the phone has already enjoyed a strong run in the black market.

While India may be amongst the hottest markets for Apple’s iPhone 3G, the country presents several unique challenges which the US-based multinational will have to address before it can succeed here. Not just Apple, but its partners in India—Bharti Airtel and Vodafone—will have to play their roles to perfection for their customers to enjoy the iPhone.

India is amongst the few markets where the partner telcos are spending huge sums training thousands of their employees to activate the iPhone. This because, unlike their western counterparts, Indian customers cannot be expected to activate the phone online. Low internet and PC penetration is a roadblock here and even amongst those in metros and large cities who own PCs, only a small minority have Apple’s iTunes on their systems.

The midnight launch of iPhone by Vodafone Essar will be accompanied by offer for payment in easy installments by credit cards.

The GSM giant has tied-up with credit card-issuing banks including Barclays, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank for providing instalment option to iPhone customers.

EMIs will be of six months and 12 months duration. To begin with, Vodafone will sell the 3G iPhone, priced at Rs 31,000 for 8GB version and Rs 36,100 for 16GB version, in 50 cities through 250 stores.

The black market version has been available for around ages though.

With a price tag of $700, or about three times the US retail price the junta is expecting the prices to come down so there is a wait and watch being adopted.

Meanwhile if you cannot wait there are always credit card instalments.

Viagara for Women – do we need it?

Not to sound feminist but do women need Viagara? We are the ones blessed with multiple orgasms as well as the pesky little thing called fidelity. Why on earth will a women spend her precious resources for buying Viagara when she can buy a great pair of shoes

In any case here an article about the issue from http://www.bnet.com

Yet another company is taking a crack at the “Viagra for women” concept. This time it is Noven Pharmaceuticals, which has licensed its testosterone-based skin patch to Procter & Gamble. The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal.

The move is an interesting one for two reasons. First, P&G has already dipped a toe in this market before and largely failed to, um, excite anyone. Second, the female sex-drive-booster category is an historic graveyard of failed products. In other words, P&G ought to know better.

On paper, the idea is fabulous: Viagra was an astonishing success, but it tapped only half the market — men. Could it be repeated in the better/other half? But let’s look at the history. Back in 2004, P&G made its first attempt at a libido-enhancer for women with a product called Intrinsa, licensed from Watson Pharmaceuticals. The FDA rejected it and it hasn’t been seen since. Watson no longer mentions the product on its web site.

Although P&G maintains a web site for Intrinsa in foreign countries the company doesn’t mention sales of Intrinsa in either its most recent quarterly or annual report. And I cannot remember an occasion on which my European buddies have ever joked about having an “Intrinsa moment.” The foregoing strongly suggests that this business is — irony alert! — a modest one. And until very recently, the Noven project was on hold at P&G, according to Noven’s own site.

Elsewhere, the pursuit of the female Viagra was most recently investigated by Pfizer, which funded a study of women taking Viagra. The study found that among women whose ability to orgasm had been affected by antidepressants, using Viagra helped the situation. However, the study has a number of problems, most importantly that it is tiny. Pfizer says it has no intention of pressing the FDA for a women’s indication for the drug.

Like Noven/P&G, BioSante Pharmaceuticals is also working the testosterone skin patch idea. It claims that “[p]hase II trial results showed LibiGel significantly increased the number of satisfying sexual events by 238%” and says it expects approval in 2011. So at the very least, P&G has waited too long to get the category to itself — a key element of the Viagra business miracle.

Other topical solutions have been tried by QualiLife Pharmaceuticals, which spent a large sum of money marketing Zestra, even though a closer examination of the product indicated some wishful thinking on the part of the company. QualiLife currently does not have a web site, so I’m going to take a giant speculative leap and suggest that this company, if it still exists, did not make a fortune in this business.

Even the hucksters at Berkeley Premium Neutraceuticals got in on the business at one point, although they are currently marketing their product for something completely different — “normal hormonal balance,” whatever that is.

A cynic might point out that the problem here looks similar to pharma companies’ failed pursuit of diet drugs. In theory, the market looks highly lucrative, but in practice the biological mechanism may be too complicated to crack with a single drug.