Where is Robert Shiller (the bestselling author of Irrational Exuberance) when you need him? In fact, the Yale professor, who accurately foretold the crash of 2001, has just finished tallying the latest Case-Shiller index of top U.S. housing markets, which shows that home prices fell 7.2 percent between December and April, before rising 5 percent between April and August. While historical gaps in data make it tough to track perfectly, Shiller believes we have just seen the sharpest turnaround in American house prices in a century. British and Australian markets are starting to swing up, too, and in many Asian cities, real estate is positively buoyant. How is it possible that home prices are going up again even as employment is going down in most parts of the world, wage growth is nonexistent, and public debt levels are reaching record highs? “We’ve just gotten very speculative in our behavior, and it’s a change that will likely last. I’m inclined to say that we’re seeing a new bubble,” says Shiller.
Monthly Archives: October 2009
Now, the Taliban are threatening to unleash an even grander assault. “The more Taliban feel hemmed in by the Pakistani military presence around South Waziristan, where the Taliban has strongholds, the more they fight back like cornered animals,” explains Haroon Rashid of BBC Urdu.
What the attackers are after is alarmingly clear: to terrorize the Pakistani state and people into submission.
Defectors from the north, and frequent visitors there, believe that opposition of a Kim family dynasty is growing. Kim Jung Ils youngest son is being groomed as the third generation of Kims to run the communist police state. But many North Korean officials agree with the Chinese that economic reform is the only thing that wills save the north. Thus when the sickly Kim Jung Il dies (soon, according to many northerners), there will be a move, and perhaps violence, to block Kim’s son from taking power.
In the summer of 1962, the leader of the great Soviet empire, Nikita Khrushchev, faced a serious problem. His huge intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) didn’t work. Their launchers were unreliable, their aim was off and the fuel used to rocket them skyward was so volatile that they had to be stored empty. In case of an attack, they would first have to be tanked up before being fired. The Soviet premier understood that since his ICBMs were a crucial part of his nuclear balance with the U.S., this put him at a major disadvantage.
However, Khrushchev did have a smaller, intermediate-range missile that was dependable, accurate and quite deadly. But it was too small to hit the U.S. all the way from Russia. So Khrushchev, the chess enthusiast, thought up a bold countermove. He decided to secretly place his smaller but more reliable missiles within range of the United States and, thus, in one stroke, completely level the playing field.
Tensions have flared between both China and India militaries along their disputed 2,175 mile-long border, with both sides alleging more frequent troop incursions in recent weeks. China is upset when the Indian prime minister recently visit the disputed region. China considers an Indian-occupied piece of it’s own Tibetan Autonomous Region, has added flames to the fire.
China of course already deeply resents the fact that the top Tibetan leader, and several hundred thousand exiled Tibetans, are allowed to reside in India.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that countries opposed to Iran’s atomic program should give up their own nuclear weapons, and attacked as “arrogant” the sanctions imposed on Ankara’s neighbor.
He also said he wanted the Middle East, and then the whole world, to rid itself of nuclear weapons.
Russia is planning extensive research to help uphold its claim to the energy-rich Arctic Sea shelf, which the country believes is an extension of the Eurasian continent, an official says.
At a conference in Moscow Friday, Andrei Smirnov of the state-run company Atomflot said Russia is planning icebreaker missions in the Arctic over the next three years to conduct a detailed geological analysis of the seabed.
The witches here, in this market located uphill from the historic San Francisco Church, make offerings for luck, love and health. But if you know the right people you can also find black magic — the kind that aims to destroy a person’s health, or hurt a business, said Luz Pacheco, a professor of Aymara culture at the Universidad Catolica Boliviana.
In pre-Catholic Andean cultures, a shaman was an important intermediary between humans and the gods — good and evil, Pacheco says. Only with the rise of the Catholic Church were shamans associated strongly with the devil and witchcraft.