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Showing posts from December 14, 2015

One amazing Goldman Sachs chart sums up the $35 trillion Western debt market

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[Interest rate increases can't come soon enough - this is unsustainable in my opinion and bound to crash, most likely sooner than later. This is a pretty good piece on warning signs to watch out for in a high-yield bond fund: “Is my high-yield fund in danger?” *RON*]

Ben Moshinsky, Business Insider, 14 December 2015

It's not easy being an investor in debt.

Both in Europe and in the US, central banks have kept interest rates low and bought bonds to keep credit flowing in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

This has meant that yield investors get on traditionally low-risk investments, such as government debt, has cratered. Demand for government bonds has jumped because central banks have waded into the market, skewing prices.

How Accounting Can Help Build a Sustainable Economy

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["Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues are often referred to by investors as 'nonfinancial information'... that’s not because these issues don’t have financial consequences. Rather, it’s because there are no standards for how to measure and report on ESG issues" *RON*]

Eben Harrell, Harvard Business Review, 14 December 2015


Environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues are often referred to by investors as “nonfinancial information.” As Robert G. Eccles, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School points out, that’s not because these issues don’t have financial consequences. Rather, it’s because there are no standards for how to measure and report on ESG issues, unlike a company’s financials. Eccles, a mathematician by training and one of the foremost experts in corporate reporting, has for the past five years been working to create sustainability accounting standards for t…

There has been a 'sea-change' in commodities, and hedge funds have lost $40 billion

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[Mainstream Canadian news sources are ignoring this big story steadfastly. Are they politically motivated? This global trend will badly effect the Canadian economy; perhaps they're waiting to pounce on Trudeau when the effects materialize, while burying the external causes in the meanwhile. Let's wait and see how they handle this as 2016 unfolds. *RON*]

Julia La Roche, Business Insider, 14 December 2015

Commodities trading company Trafigura says there's been a "sea-change" in investor attitudes in the commodities sector.

In other words, investors are feeling negative and many are fleeing commodity-focused hedge funds.

A number of hedge funds that specialize in trading commodities have suffered in 2015 as asset prices have plunged. The S&P GSCI commodity index, which is made up of the most liquid commodity futures, has fallen more than 46% in the last 12 months.

There have also been a string of hedge fund closures in the se…

Major Summit Could Put World's Poorest Inhabitants on Corporate Chopping Block

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[Under current and proposed "free trade" agreements, the WTO supports despicably transparent subsidies for corporations in developed nations that are banned in developing nations. "The ministerial meetings for the WTO must deliver on food security and development for the world's poor." *RON*]
By Deborah JamesAlterNet, 13 December 2015

Last week, 453 civil society groups including trade unions, farmers, environmentalists, public interest groups and development advocates from over 150 countries wrote an urgent letter to members of the WTO to “express extreme alarm about the current situation of the negotiations in the WTO.” This is the largest number of endorsers on a letter about the WTO in the last decade and is a signal of the dire situation. Coordinated by the global Our World Is Not for Sale (OWINFS) network, the letter is available in English, Spanish and French.

The 10th Ministerial meeting of the WTO, taking place i…

Pepsi Has Made It Almost Impossible to Find Out Whom It Gives Money To

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[PepsiCo Foundation's tax donation filings are illegible and incomplete. "When I asked the PepsiCo rep if the company had plans of being more transparent about its corporate spending like Coca-Cola had, she said, in short, that it didn't." *RON*]

By Julia Lurie, Mother Jones, 14 December 2015

This past fall, in the wake of a New York Times investigation, Coca-Cola released a list of all the organizations to which it had made donations for research and advocacy over the past five years. On the list were dozens of universities, medical groups, and fitness programs, some of which downplayed the relationship between soda and obesity.

Coca-Cola isn't alone. The soda giant, together with PepsiCo, Hershey, Nestle, and others, runs and bankrolls the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, an organization that, in turn, wholly funds a health curriculum that's been taught to millions of elementary schoolers across the country. Throug…

Nevada Gun Show Enthusiasts Have A Big Disagreement With The NRA

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["Ninety-nine percent of people here probably support background checks." *RON*]

By Emily Atkin & Alice Ollstein, Think Progress, 14 December 2015

LAS VEGAS, NV — Surrounded by monogrammed assault rifle parts, bulletproof vests, and rows and rows of guns, many of the tattooed, bearded vendors at the Las Vegas Gun Show had an unexpected stance on the state’s proposal for expanded background checks.

“Pass it,” Louie Leynes, an employee at Bargain Pawn in North Las Vegas, told ThinkProgress. “It’s a good thing.”

Standing behind an assortment of new and used firearms, Leynes and two of his coworkers explained why they support the Nevada Background Check Initiative, which would require private gun sellers to conduct background checks through a licensed firearm dealer. Too many times, they said, they’ve seen potential customers at gun shows back away from Bargain Pawn when they found out they would be subject to a background check, and then…

‘Smell of fear’: Oil tumbles towards crisis-era lows

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[Oil is close to surpassing its low hit during the financial crisis, with Brent crude falling below $37 a barrel in Monday trading. And, more to the point, as to an explanation (yet they still blame this solely on Saudi over-production): Oil tumbles toward 11-year lows on worsening glut. *RON*]

Financial Times, 14 December 2015

Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell 3.4 per cent to a low of $36.62 a barrel, edging close to its 2008 intraday low of $36.20 a barrel, write Henry Sanderson and Anjli Raval.


The market is expecting a worsening glut of supply as production from Iran starts to come on next year after sanctions are lifted. Oil has fallen continuously since the OPEC oil producing cartel met in the first week of December and scrapped its official production ceiling.

US crude is down for its seventh session in a row, with West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, sinking below $35 for a barrel for the first time since February 2009…

Cancer Rates By Country Expose Effects Of Income Inequality; Poor Countries See More Cases Than Rich Countries

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[Apparently, in poor nations, it is like the bad old days: people are diagnosed too late to be able to effectively treat their cancers. *RON*]
By Samantha Olson, Medical Daily, 14 December 2015
Varying cancer rates throughout the world may be based on income, finds a new study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Researchers have found a clear pattern — cancer rates are on the decline in higher-income countries, but steadily rising in lower-income countries.

For the study, researchers examined data from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which included data on cancer rates from 2007. Next, they turned to the World Health Organization's Cancer Mortality database to collect death rates by country from 2012. Researchers were able to collect enough information on eight major kinds of cancer from 50 countries — breast, prostate, colorectal, lung, esophageal, stomach, liver, and cervical cancer.

In …