September 18, 2008
Nervous traders on the trading floor in the midst of one of Wall Street’s most historic weeks
Things are looking grim down on Wall Street. Rather than trying to explain the chaos myself, I’ve chosen two articles that will do it better than I can. Suffice it to say that what is easily noticed is that the credo in American capitalism seems to be “privatize the profits, socialize the losses” as several companies have been rescued by the United States government and more rescues are bound to come.
From The World as we Know it is Going Under:
Things got worse after the markets closed. Washington Mutual, America’s fourth-largest bank, announced that it had started the process of putting itself up for sale. The Wall Street Journal reported that both Wells Fargo and the banking giant Citigroup were interested in taking over the battered American savings bank.
And then came the announcement that would dominate all of Thursday’s market activities: Morgan Stanley — the venerable Wall Street institution and one of the last two US investment banks left standing — had lost massive amounts and was fighting for survival. Media reports were saying that it was even in talks about a possible bail-out or merger. Rumor had it that possible suitors might include Wachovia or China’s Bank Citic.
Read the rest of this entry »
September 9, 2008
The residents of the Magenge Mapya Charcoal Camp in Tanzania face an uncertain future — the trees they rely on to make charcoal are being cut down to plant oil-producing plants for biofuels
Roughly a century ago, the Ottoman Empire was considered “the sick man of Europe” because of its poor economy, backwardness, and misrule. Today, the continent of Africa and in particular the sub-Saharan part could rightfully be considered the sick man of the world. Disastrous economics, shoddy rule, violent wars, and the plague of HIV have left a once promising continent the failure of the world.
Decade after decade of foreign aid have not been able to lift Africa out of its mire. Even the so-called “benevolence” of wealthier states has left a situation best described in dependency theory as: “the way in which resources flow from a “periphery” of poor and underdeveloped states to a “core” of wealthy states, enriching the latter at the expense of the former”. This exploitation continues today as Africa is now being utilized for the sake of biofuel production at the expense of locals. Der Spiegel reports about this new exploitation in Green Gold Rush: Africa becoming a biofuel battleground. An excerpt: Read the rest of this entry »
September 9, 2008
Manhattan’s Upper West Side
The 1980s was the era of junk bonds and Michael Milken. The 90s saw the dot.com bubble and made investors learn phrases like “e-commerce“. This decade has been the decade of real estate and in particular real estate speculation.
Like the previous two speculatory crazes, the real estate frenzy in the USA has ended and has fallen with a big thud. And like the previous bubbles some individuals have made out quite well in this latest one. New York Magazine takes a look at the 6 Most Impressive Flips in Manhattan. Here’s one of them:
15 Central Park West
How can a list like this not include this megaflip haven? To wit: This spring, a venture capitalist paid $13.8 million for a unit the seller bought just two months previous for $6.9 million, according to trade publication the Real Deal; a 29th-floor apartment — picked up for $7.3 million — went for nearly $14 million; and a cable mogul who bought his 36th-floor spread for $7.34 million is now on contract for somewhere near its $12.5 million price tag.
read the rest of the article here
July 29, 2008
Big ideas with big money backing them couldn’t turn these sites into winners
It was only a little over a decade ago that we were told the internet would completely revolutionize how we would shop, read, interact, learn, invest, and smell. Maybe the order was a tall one and maybe the internet didn’t replace our traditional methods of doing all of these things, but it certainly has given us more options. The 1990s saw the proliferation of websites devoted to e-commerce of one sort or another as well as e-applications. These resulted in the dot.com boom that became a dot.com fizzle as everyone tried to tap into this new online market for their products and services. From Homer Simpson and his Compuglobalhypermeganet Systems to The Onion’s e-graters.com, everyone was taking a swipe at the hysteria.
Some sites have managed to survive and thrive, ebay.com and amazon.com being the two most notable.
The Business Pundit lists for us the top 25 Internet Startups that didn’t make it. All your favourites are there, including pets.com, etoys.com, and the spam-friendly lycos.com.
Speaking of which, whatever happened to these guys?