Thursday Bookstore

Wed, 2009/10/14 - 3:51pm | Your editor

When I was a very little girl, before I knew how to read, I was fascinated by Business Week, which my father got every Saturday by subscription. The cover was standard: a man's face (always a man then) under a red masthead. I knew my numbers so I would turn to the page the front page jumped to. I wanted to see more pictures of the man and his office and his house and family. I usually was disappointed.

Now a bankrupt Business Week has been sold by the McGraw family (as in McGraw-Hill) to the Bloomberg empire of Hizzoner, the Mayor of NY. My father, who had mainly studied classics in his German Gymnasium, became a corporate executive after fleeing to America from the Nazis, and the magazine helped him learn the language and logic of businessmen in his new homeland. Read more »

Fear of Frankenstein

Tue, 2009/10/13 - 3:50pm | Your editor

    On the morning of Columbus Day (US)/Thanksgiving Day (Can.), however briefly, my personal portfolio reached its high water mark of 2008 summer again. Canada is important, because the loonie, the local currency, is approaching parity with the US$. Now 97 cents, it was only 77 cents a half year ago.

    Later on Monday, the US market unraveled. Let me explain exactly what I mean. My total portfolio, which includes American blue chips and my recommended foreign stocks and funds, plus my IRA, got back to the 7-figure level it was at when I transferred my account to E-trade. Read more »

The Vikings Are Coming!

Mon, 2009/10/12 - 5:51pm | Your editor

     Omigosh. I am being attacked by peace-loving Vikings!


Your editor goofed last week in saying that the Swedish Academy gives out the Nobel Peace Prize and is responsible for selecting Pres. Barack Obama to receive it this year. When Alfred Nobel died, Sweden and Norway were one country. But when Norway won its independence, the Swedes handed the Peace Prize to a committee from the University of Oslo. It is the Norwegians who give out the Peace Prize, to someone designated by 5 unknown Norse academics.


There is a ceremony in Oslo's stripped-down Lutheran cathedral and the King of Norway hands over the medal.

  Read more »

Dear Resident

Fri, 2009/10/09 - 1:59pm | Your editor

To: The Resident

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20000

United States

Dear Resident:

      This is to inform you that a large sum of money has been left in the will of the late Alfred Nobel, deceased, to anyone at the above address who is not named George W. Bush.

      To collect your prize, please provide us with your confidential bank account details. Read more »

From Stars & Bucks Cafe

Thu, 2009/10/08 - 3:20pm | Your editor

   Frida Ghitis writes: “A few days ago I traveled to a place that, according to the IMF, is on track to post one of the highest rates of economic growth in the world: the West Bank.

    After crossing through the Qalandiyah checkpoint north of Jerusalem I traveled to Ramallah, seat of government for the Palestinian Authority. Life is undoubtedly hell for the people of devastated Gaza. But here in Ramallah, searching for squalor proved fruitless. The city offers a vibrant show of Middle Eastern commerce, complete with impenetrable traffic jams and trendy coffee at Stars and Bucks café, where the cappuccino was steaming and smoothies well chilled.

    Anyone who spends much time in Europe where Arafat-style black and white checkered Arab head-dresses and scarves are all the rage will be disappointed to discover those Keffiyahs are nowhere in sight in Ramallah. Young men wear their hair stylishly gelled. No Keffiyah. Read more »

The Glitter and the Gold

Wed, 2009/10/07 - 2:28pm | Your editor

Everything which glitters is not gold.

A rumor triggered the rise in gold prices to $1040/oz yesterday and it was nonsense. The gossip was that Middle Eastern countries wanted to price oil (black gold) in terms of yellow gold rather than the dollar. This has been bruited by Hugo Chavez but never taken seriously by OPEC.

The main reason is that there is not enough gold out there to finance more than a day or two of the oil trade.

Today the greenback has bounced back from some of the low levels reached after the Australian Central Bank started raising interest rates. This may feed into lower gold prices. The price of gold has tended to move inversely to the dollar in recent years. Read more »

Israel and Australia

Tue, 2009/10/06 - 1:50pm | Your editor

Don't worry, Israel. Australia stands besides you! The Reserve Bank of Australia today raised interest rates to 3.25% from 3%. It became the first OECD country to tighten monetary policy, although Israel did this in August.

Expect more short covering. Shorts had to cover yesterday because the Institute of Supply Management reported higher services orders, the first score showing expansion of demand (above 50) in a year. At 50.8, it was ahead of expectations.
Read more »


Mon, 2009/10/05 - 1:51pm | Your editor

How clever I was to study Portuguese now that Rio de Janeiro was designated for the Olympics in 2016! All those years wrestling with the complex grammar at the Fundação Gulbenkian can pay off with lots of trips. First I am going to sail from Manaus, on the River Amazon, over Christmas this year.

Then in 2012 I can go back to Rio for the 20th anniversary of the 1982 Earth Summit (which I attended). And In 2014 I get to go to the World Cup. (Soccer.)

The investment message for a Lusitanophone is probably mixed. We are already heavily overweight in Brazil as paid subscribers know. I am not sure that the increased exposure in the teens decade will really bring in more investor money. Yes, a US visa costs $130; yes, there are great opportunities for purse and camera snatchers and jewel thieves descending from the favelas to pickpocket sports and eco fans. And for lots of cops to protect the visitors. Read more »


Fri, 2009/10/02 - 1:53pm | Your editor

The latest IMF data should not lead people to throw shoes at its head, M. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as a Turk did yesterday. The Fund says the developing world is powering the recovery and boosting its share of world output.

Logically, that means the IMF board should have more representation from the sources of world expansion. Emerging and developing countries are now expected to increase their output by 1.7% collectively this year, and by 5.1% next year. The biggest emerging Asia countries, India and China, are the leaders here. The latest figures are that China will grow 8.5% this year and 9%. next. India will grow 5.4% this year and 6.4% next year.

Meanwhile the advanced world will eke out a mere 1.3% growth rate in 2010 after shrinking 3.4% this year. Read more »

Diamonds are a girl's best friend

Thu, 2009/10/01 - 3:34pm | Your editor

A kiss on the hand may be quite Continental

A kiss may be grand but it won't pay the rental

So diamonds are a girl's best friend.

Such bad timing of the Cullinan miners, to discover a 507 karat egg-sized diamond in this market. Who are they going to sell it to?

The last old-style Maharani, Princess Devi, died recently. Maharajas are investing in making their palaces into 5-star hotels. Prince Charles wouldn't dare. Elizabeth Taylor is getting too old to shop for jewelry. Belinda Gates is not into bling. Nor is Mme. Buffett. Prince Jefri of Brunai had to give back the $15 bn he spent on cars and jets and art, and will not risk his brother's ire and another exile for a mere diamond, however spectacular.

The richest man in the world is Carlos Slim Helu, the Mexican magnate, according to Forbes. But I cannot imagine he will want to be more of a target for the country's kidnap culture than he already is. Middle Easterners cannot buy a diamond as big as the Ritz for one wife when they have three others. Read more »