Tag Archives: 21st century

World power swings back to America?

World power swings back to America

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor

The American phoenix is slowly rising again. Within five years or so, the US will be well on its way to self-sufficiency in fuel and energy. Manufacturing will have closed the labour gap with China in a clutch of key industries. The current account might even be in surplus.
World power swings back to America

The making of computers, electrical equipment, machinery, autos and other goods may shift back to the US from China.

Assumptions that the Great Republic must inevitably spiral into economic and strategic decline – so like the chatter of the late 1980s, when Japan was in vogue – will seem wildly off the mark by then.

Telegraph readers already know about the “shale gas revolution” that has turned America into the world’s number one producer of natural gas, ahead of Russia.

Less known is that the technology of hydraulic fracturing – breaking rocks with jets of water – will also bring a quantum leap in shale oil supply, mostly from the Bakken fields in North Dakota, Eagle Ford in Texas, and other reserves across the Mid-West.

“The US was the single largest contributor to global oil supply growth last year, with a net 395,000 barrels per day (b/d),” said Francisco Blanch from Bank of America, comparing the Dakota fields to a new North Sea.

Total US shale output is “set to expand dramatically” as fresh sources come on stream, possibly reaching 5.5m b/d by mid-decade. This is a tenfold rise since 2009.

The US already meets 72pc of its own oil needs, up from around 50pc a decade ago.

“The implications of this shift are very large for geopolitics, energy security, historical military alliances and economic activity. As US reliance on the Middle East continues to drop, Europe is turning more dependent and will likely become more exposed to rent-seeking behaviour from oligopolistic players,”
said Mr Blanch.

Meanwhile, the China-US seesaw is about to swing the other way. Offshoring is out, ‘re-inshoring’ is the new fashion.

“Made in America, Again” –
a report this month by Boston Consulting Group – said Chinese wage inflation running at 16pc a year for a decade has closed much of the cost gap. China is no longer the “default location” for cheap plants supplying the US.

A “tipping point” is near in computers, electrical equipment, machinery, autos and motor parts, plastics and rubber, fabricated metals, and even furniture.

“A surprising amount of work that rushed to China over the past decade could soon start to come back,”
said BCG’s Harold Sirkin.

The gap in “productivity-adjusted wages” will narrow from 22pc of US levels in 2005 to 43pc (61pc for the US South) by 2015. Add in shipping costs, reliability woes, technology piracy, and the advantage shifts back to the US.

The list of “repatriates” is growing. Farouk Systems is bringing back assembly of hair dryers to Texas after counterfeiting problems; ET Water Systems has switched its irrigation products to California; Master Lock is returning to Milwaukee, and NCR is bringing back its ATM output to Georgia. NatLabs is coming home to Florida.

Boston Consulting expects up to 800,000 manufacturing jobs to return to the US by mid-decade, with a multiplier effect creating 3.2m in total. This would take some sting out of the Long Slump.

As Cleveland Fed chief Sandra Pianalto said last week, US manufacturing is “very competitive” at the current dollar exchange rate. Whether intended or not, the Fed’s zero rates and $2.3 trillion printing blitz have brought matters to an abrupt head for China.

Fed actions confronted Beijing with a Morton’s Fork of ugly choices: revalue the yuan, or hang onto the mercantilist dollar peg and import a US monetary policy that is far too loose for a red-hot economy at the top of the cycle. Either choice erodes China’s wage advantage. The Communist Party chose inflation.

Foreign exchange effects are subtle. They take a long to time play out as old plant slowly runs down, and fresh investment goes elsewhere. Yet you can see the damage to Europe from an over-strong euro in foreign direct investment (FDI) data.

Flows into the EU collapsed by 63p from 2007 to 2010 (UNCTAD data), and fell by 77pc in Italy. Flows into the US rose by 5pc.

Volkswagen is investing $4bn in America, led by its Chattanooga Passat plant. Korea’s Samsung has begun a $20bn US investment blitz. Meanwhile, Intel, GM, and Caterpillar and other US firms are opting to stay at home rather than invest abroad.

Europe has only itself to blame for the current “hollowing out” of its industrial base. It craved its own reserve currency, without understanding how costly this “exorbitant burden” might prove to be.

China and the rising reserve powers have rotated a large chunk of their $10 trillion stash into EMU bonds to reduce their dollar weighting. The result is a euro too strong for half of EMU.

The European Central Bank has since made matters worse (for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France) by keeping rates above those of the US, UK, and Japan. That has been a deliberate policy choice. It let real M1 deposits in Italy contract at a 7pc annual rate over the summer. May it live with the consequences.

The trade-weighted dollar has been sliding for a decade, falling 37pc since 2001. This roughly replicates the post-Plaza slide in the late 1980s, which was followed – with a lag – by 3pc of GDP shrinkage in the current account deficit. The US had a surplus by 1991.

Charles Dumas and Diana Choyleva from Lombard Street Research argue that this may happen again in their new book “The American Phoenix”.

The switch in advantage to the US is relative. It does not imply a healthy US recovery. The global depression will grind on as much of the Western world tightens fiscal policy and slowly purges debt, and as China deflates its credit bubble.

Yet America retains a pack of trump cards, and not just in sixteen of the world’s top twenty universities.

It is almost the only economic power with a fertility rate above 2.0 – and therefore the ability to outgrow debt – in sharp contrast to the demographic decay awaiting Japan, China, Korea, Germany, Italy, and Russia.

Europe’s EMU soap opera has shown why it matters that America is a genuine nation, forged by shared language and the ancestral chords of memory over two centuries, with institutions that ultimately work and a real central bank able to back-stop the system.

The 21st Century may be American after all, just like the last.

SOURCE

21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)

21 Dumbest Criminals of the 21st Century (So Far)
Posted by Katie

Poor Man’s Hummer
Jonesville, Virginia: William Anderson, 51, was arrested after attracting attention by applying for welfare at the department of social services while driving an H2 Hummer. Thinking it an odd sight, the local sheriff ran the plates, and the vehicle came up as stolen.

Frank Singleton
Repeat Offender
West Palm Beach, Florida: Things were looking up for Frank Singleton, 21, as he was released from jail. However, when he realized that he didn’t have a ride home, he walked straight into the prison parking lot and attempted to carjack a woman. He was foiled when he realized that he couldn’t drive a car with a stick shift. As he was re-arrested — this time, for felony carjacking — Singleton told police that he simply “didn’t feel like walking.”

Now Hiring

Athens, Georgia: Demetrius Robinson, 28, wanted to rob a Golden Pantry store late one night, but he needed to pass the time as naturally as possible until he and the clerk were alone, so he decided to fill out a job application. Not a bad idea, except he left his real name on the application, along with his uncle’s phone number. After he robbed the store, it didn’t take long for police to track him down. He didn’t get the job.

Christopher Kron
Worst. Burglar. Ever.

Fort Myers Beach, Florida: Amateur criminal and professional dimwit Christopher Kron created his own personal “how not to commit burglary” instructional video when he tried to rob a restaurant after closing one night. Mistake #1: He tripped the alarm when he broke in. Mistake #2: He failed to flee after hearing the (not silent) alarm. Mistake #3: When ADT called the restaurant after being notified of the alarm, Kron answered the phone. Mistake #4: He gave the ADT employee his real name. Mistake #5: When he finally got the bright idea to leave, all he took was a bottle of Grand Marnier and a beer. Mistake #6: Having gotten away with the crime, he returned to the restaurant the next day and was recognized by an employee who had seen the surveillance video. Kron was arrested on the spot.

Dumb in an Elevator
Oslo, Norway: Two men in their early 20s (age and IQ) decided to vandalize an elevator in a train station by violently kicking the closed doors…while they were still inside. The doors jammed, and the elevator stopped, sounding an alarm that alerted security guards. The guards tried to lower the elevator, but the doors jammed even more, so they called the police and the fire department. The two vandals were eventually freed — and promptly arrested. Their actions were recorded on the elevator’s security camera.

Keep Your Eye on the Road
Osternarke, Sweden:
A 56-year-old woman’s boldly dumb defense in her trial for drunken driving was that the alcohol did not affect her driving because she kept one eye closed to avoid seeing double. She was sentenced to two months in prison.

Randy LewisWorld’s Greatest Dad
Bristol, Tennessee:
In his stunted way of thinking, Randy Lewis, 43, was at least trying to be responsible by not driving drunk during a beer run. Instead, he had his 10-year-old son drive. The boy proceeded to crash the car at an estimated 90 miles per hour. The elder Lewis had not only a blood-alcohol content of over three times the state limit, but he also had cocaine in his system — not to mention two other children in the vehicle. Lewis was charged with drunk driving, reckless endangerment and child abuse and was booked wearing a t-shirt reading “Buy this dad a beer.”

Note to Self
Marysville, California:
Arthur Cheney, 64, was arrested after police spotted him driving a car that resembled one used in a local bank robbery. Something told them that they had their man when they noticed a yellow Post-It note on the car’s center console with a handwritten message reading, “Robbery – 100s and 50s only.”

Krystian Bala
A Novel Approach
Wroclaw, Poland:
Polish author Krystian Bala, 34, might’ve gotten away with murder…if he hadn’t written about it in his book. His 2003 novel Amok became a beststeller in Poland, but he paid the price when police noticed that the details of a murder in the book eerily matched those of an unsolved 2000 case. The similarities led the police to investigate further, discovering connections between Bala and the victim, including the fact that the victim was romantically involved with Bala’s ex-wife. Although it wasn’t proven that the author was the sole perpetrator, he was sentenced to 25 years in jail for his part in the crime.

Pee Bandits
Crescent City, California:
Krystal Evans, 26, and Denise McClure, 24, were arrested for destruction of evidence when they sifted through a DHL delivery van looking for Evans’ probation-mandatory urine sample that was on its way to a forensic lab. The pair knew that Evans’ sample would test positive, meaning she’d be sent back to jail, so they attempted to grab the urine before it reached its destination. The driver, however, caught them and called the cops. Ironically, Evans’ sample tested negative, but the sample she had to give after being arrested for the pee caper came up positive for meth.

Charles Ray Fuller
Billion Dollar Dummy
Dallas, Texas:
Rule #1 of trying to cash a bogus check: make it out for a reasonable amount. Charles Ray Fuller, 21, broke that rule and all conventions of common sense when he tried to cash a check for 360 BILLION DOLLARS. To top it off, the check wasn’t even made out to him. He was arrested on forgery charges.

Tattoo Clue
Billings, Montana
: A wanted man with an unusual surname was arrested after police noticed the name tattooed on the side of his head. Officers working on a separate case happened to walk past Sterling F. Wolfname, 26, when they saw the word “Wolfname” tattooed on his head. The name matched that of a suspect in a fatal beating in Wyoming. Wolfname lied about his identity, but his tattoo gave police a “heads up.”

Andrew Libby”Porn Inspector”? Nice try.
Longmont, Colorado: Andrew Libby, 33, was arrested for impersonating a cop and demanding copies of pornographic movies from an adult video store. Claiming to be an “age verification detective,” Libby told the store’s employees that his job was to make sure the movies’ stars were at least 18 years old. The workers didn’t buy his story (his Fabio hair probably didn’t help).

Bills, Bills, Bills
Brooklyn, New York:
As Victor Marin, 20, was stealing $218 in cash from an apartment he had broken into, for some reason he decided to take out his own wallet and lay it on a bed. When he left, he forgot something — wait for it — his wallet! When Marin returned minutes later, the apartment’s resident was back. Standing outside, Marin offered to return the money in exchange for his wallet, which contained his ID and credit cards. The victim told him to stuff the money under the front door, but since the wad included 93 dollar bills, it was too tall to fit, and Marin had difficulty shoving the bills inside. That gave police time to show up and arrest him.

John Pearce
Hangman
Dartford, England:
John Pearce, 32, came to realize the hazards of daylight burglary when in the course of climbing through a window, his foot got caught in the window, leaving him dangling upside-down in plain sight of pedestrians walking down the busy sidewalk. Onlookers proceeded to mock him mercilessly until police arrived.

Dial-a-Dealer
Gulfport, Florida
: Shaquille McKinney, 14, decided to try his hand at telemarketing. Trouble is, he was selling drugs, and the potential buyer turned out to be a policeman. When McKinney cold-called Detective Matt Parks, the cop told him he had the wrong number. Before hanging up, the teen asked Parks if he wanted to buy drugs. The policeman agreed to meet in a nearby parking lot, where McKinney was arrested.

Henry Earl
1,000 Strikes?
Lexington, Kentucky:
If there’s a lifetime achievement award for petty crime, Henry Earl would win hands-down. Since 1970, he’s been arrested a whopping 1,333 times (and counting), although he serves an average of less then four days per offense. Dumb or dedicated? You be the judge.

Ice Cream Men
La Plata, Maryland:
Wesley Jumper, 36, and Shawn Stewart, 36, are apparently very dirty and very stupid. How else could you explain their decision to 1) steal $500 worth of soap and shampoo from a CVS drug store, and 2) use a Good Humor ice cream truck as their getaway vehicle. The truck, which Stewart used for day job, was easy enough for the police to spot, and the men were promptly arrested. No word on what happened to the confiscated Nutty Buddies.

Drunk Driving Test
Bendorf, Germany
: A 27-year-old man arrived for his road driving test smelling of alcohol. Although he insisted to the instructor that he hadn’t had anything to drink, he proceeded to drive erratically, at which point the instructor directed him to pull into a parking lot…at a police station. The man was booked for driving with a blood-alcohol content of three times the legal limit. And he failed the test.

Eloise Reaves
This Crack’s Wack
Hawthorne, Florida:
Eloise Reaves, 50, stretched the limits of “to serve and protect” when she approached a policeman and asked him to help her get her money back for the poor-quality crack cocaine she’d just purchased. She showed him the crack, which she had tucked away in her mouth, and he placed her under arrest. The accused salesman was not charged.

Dear Dummy…
Boyds, Maryland:
While awaiting trial for murder and armed robbery, inmate Quinton Thomas sent a friendly letter to a chum suggesting that he kill any witnesses who were planning to testify against him. He figured he could be so bold because he knew that the prison staff didn’t screen outgoing mail. However, he must’ve sent the letter to the wrong address or affixed the wrong postage, because it was sent back “Return to Sender,” making it INCOMING mail, which IS screened by the staff. He was convicted on three new counts — one of solicitation to commit murder and two of witness intimidation — in addition to the original charges.

SOURCE