The Crown Capital Management Global Journalism International Relations Blog: Errors and Emissions

Could Fighting Global Warming Be Cheap and Free?

This just in: Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free. But will anyone believe the good news?

I’ve just been reading two new reports on the economics of fighting climate change: a big study by a blue-ribbon international group, the New Climate Economy Project, and a working paper from the International Monetary Fund. Both claim that strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth, and might actually lead to faster growth. This may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t. These are serious, careful analyses.

But you know that such assessments will be met with claims that it’s impossible to break the link between economic growth and ever-rising emissions of greenhouse gases, a position I think of as “climate despair.” The most dangerous proponents of climate despair are on the anti-environmentalist right. But they receive aid and comfort from other groups, including some on the left, who have their own reasons for getting it wrong.

Where is the new optimism about climate change and growth coming from? It has long been clear that a well-thought-out strategy of emissions control, in particular one that puts a price on carbon via either an emissions tax or a cap-and-trade scheme, would cost much less than the usual suspects want you to think. But the economics of climate protection look even better now than they did a few years ago.

On one side, there has been dramatic progress in renewable energy technology, with the costs of solar power, in particular, plunging, down by half just since 2010. Renewables have their limitations — basically, the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow — but if you think that an economy getting a lot of its power from wind farms and solar panels is a hippie fantasy, you’re the one out of touch with reality.

On the other side, it turns out that putting a price on carbon would have large “co-benefits” — positive effects over and above the reduction in climate risks — and that these benefits would come fairly quickly. The most important of these co-benefits, according to the I.M.F. paper, would involve public health: burning coal causes many respiratory ailments, which drive up medical costs and reduce productivity.

And thanks to these co-benefits, the paper argues, one argument often made against carbon pricing — that it’s not worth doing unless we can get a global agreement — is wrong. Even without an international agreement, there are ample reasons to take action against the climate threat.

But back to the main point: It’s easier to slash emissions than seemed possible even a few years ago, and reduced emissions would produce large benefits in the short-to-medium run. So saving the planet would be cheap and maybe even come free.

Enter the prophets of climate despair, who wave away all this analysis and declare that the only way to limit carbon emissions is to bring an end to economic growth.

You mostly hear this from people on the right, who normally say that free-market economies are endlessly flexible and creative. But when you propose putting a price on carbon, suddenly they insist that industry will be completely incapable of adapting to changed incentives. Why, it’s almost as if they’re looking for excuses to avoid confronting climate change, and, in particular, to avoid anything that hurts fossil-fuel interests, no matter how beneficial to everyone else.

But climate despair produces some odd bedfellows: Koch-fueled insistence that emission limits would kill economic growth is echoed by some who see this as an argument not against climate action, but against growth. You can find this attitude in the mostly European “degrowth” movement, or in American groups like the Post Carbon Institute; I’ve encountered claims that saving the planet requires an end to growth at left-leaning meetings on “rethinking economics.” To be fair, anti-growth environmentalism is a marginal position even on the left, but it’s widespread enough to call out nonetheless.

And you sometimes see hard scientists making arguments along the same lines, largely (I think) because they don’t understand what economic growth means. They think of it as a crude, physical thing, a matter simply of producing more stuff, and don’t take into account the many choices — about what to consume, about which technologies to use — that go into producing a dollar’s worth of G.D.P.

So here’s what you need to know: Climate despair is all wrong. The idea that economic growth and climate action are incompatible may sound hardheaded and realistic, but it’s actually a fuzzy-minded misconception. If we ever get past the special interests and ideology that have blocked action to save the planet, we’ll find that it’s cheaper and easier than almost anyone imagines.

The CROWN where global issues are extensively discussed and fiercely debated from both sides of the argument — by one person.

The Crown Capital Management Global Journalism International Relations Blog: Is economic stagnation the new normal?

The concept of “secular stagnation” — that the economy may be facing a protracted period of low growth and high unemployment — has been seeping back into economic and policy discourse. Once relegated to the margins of heterodox economic theory, the idea of stagnation as a likely ongoing direction for the economy, in fact, is now virtually mainstream, expounded by such well-known figures as Lawrence Summers and Paul Krugman.

Stagnation, however, is not a new problem. Careful examination of the U.S. economy over the last century suggests that stagnation may not be the exception but just possibly the rule of modern economic performance — a rule that was mainly broken only by the stimulus effects of massive military expenditures at three crucial junctures.

Major economic floundering in the first quarter of the 20th century was relieved by the boost World War I gave to the economy, and the tremendous economic collapse in the second quarter was ended by World War II’s huge increase in military spending. In the third quarter, the Korean War, the Cold War and the Vietnam War added major stimulus at key times.

Moreover, several of the indirect consequences of World War II — including wartime savings, the compression of wages, the strengthening of unions, the GI Bill that educated millions of veterans, and the reconstruction of Europe, together with the fact that major competitors had been temporarily destroyed by war — all contributed to the third quarter’s great economic boom.

The modern trend, despite Iraq, Afghanistan and other smaller-scale wars, is also clear. Defense expenditures declined decade by decade from a Korean War high of 13.8% of the economy in 1953 to 3.7% in the 2000s, with steadily reduced economic impact. The financial bubbles in the late 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s produced only partial and highly unstable upswings that masked the underlying decline.

The notion that stagnation is far more important than is commonly understood has been bolstered by Thomas Piketty’s landmark book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which also emphasizes just how unusual the era of the Depression and two world wars was. Piketty’s analysis suggests that the high growth rates of the post-World War II period were, by and large, an aberration. “Many people think that growth ought to be at least 3 or 4 percent a year,” he wrote. “Both history and logic show this to be illusory.”

Viewed in this light, the latest long-range projections from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based intergovernmental group for advanced economies, make for sobering reading. In a new report, “Policy Challenges for the Next 50 Years,” the OECD warns that economic growth in the world’s advanced industrial economies — including Europe, North America and Japan — will likely slow even further from historic levels over the next half-century, while inequality will rocket to new heights and climate change will take an increasingly damaging toll on world GDP.

According to the projections, the OECD member nations’ annual average contribution to global GDP growth will steadily fall from 1.19% this decade to 0.54% between 2050 and 2060. Meanwhile, inequality in these countries may rise as much as 30% or more.

The OECD projections are, if anything, optimistic, since they assume that Europe and the United States each will absorb in the neighborhood of 50 million new immigrants over this period — an assumption that may run contrary to the restrictive politics of immigration playing out on both sides of the Atlantic.

The economic remedy for stagnation is relatively straightforward — in theory: Faltering demand could be offset by large-scale government spending on infrastructure, education and other much-needed investments. In practice, however, it is painfully clear that large-scale Keynesian policies of this kind are no longer politically viable.

The implications of the emerging possibility of a sustained period of stagnation are profound. Through the repeated economic downturns of recent U.S. history — 11 since 1945 alone — the expectation of eventual sustained recovery has been the critical assumption underpinning both politics and policy. An era of stagnation would undermine the economic basis of traditional political hope of both left and right. It would mean ongoing high unemployment, ongoing deficits, ongoing struggles to fund public programs and, in all probability, ongoing and intensified political deadlock and wrangling as unemployment continues, deficits increase and a profound battle over narrowing economic possibilities sets in.

If stagnation is the new normal, we will likely be forced to reassess the fundamental assumptions of politics and the economy and to ultimately get serious about restructuring our faltering economic system in more far-reaching ways than most Americans have contemplated.

The Crown Capital Management Global Journalism International Relations Blog – A Strong Economy Depends On Climate Action

Forty years ago, scientists at the University of California uncovered a global threat. From deodorants to refrigerators, chemicals in our everyday lives were destroying our ozone layer — Earth’s natural shield against the sun’s cancer-causing radiation.

Our fight to save the ozone layer became a defining moment in American leadership. It was American science that uncovered the problem and American industry that innovated the solution. And now the ozone layer is healing. Our people are safer, and our economy is stronger.

Today, we face the threat of global climate change. The pollution and the problem might be different, but the principle is the same. Once again, the world needs the United States to lead. That’s why last year, President Obama laid out a Climate Action Plan to cut the carbon pollution fueling climate change, build a more resilient nation and lead the global climate fight. And he’s at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York this week to reinforce that commitment.

I’m proud to join the president in delivering a clear message: A world-leading economy depends on a healthy environment and a safe climate. We don’t act despite the economy; we act because of it.

We’ve made tremendous progress this year — from deploying record levels of clean energy, to partnering with the private sector to advance low-carbon technologies. And this past June, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from our largest source, power plants.

Climate change supercharges risks to our health and economy, and it’s taxpayers and businesses that pay the price. Fortunately, we can turn our climate challenge into an opportunity to modernize our power sector, lay the foundation for a low-carbon economy, and fuel growth for decades to come. The EPA’s historic fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks are a perfect example of what’s possible. They’re cutting carbon pollution, saving families money at the pump, and fueling a resurgent auto industry that’s added more than 250,000 jobs since 2009. The number of cars coming off American assembly lines made by American workers just reached its highest level in 12 years.

That same story of energy progress is being written across America. Since President Obama took office, the U.S. uses three times more wind power and 10 times more solar power,  which means thousands of jobs. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan follows that trend. We need thousands more American workers in construction, transmission, engineering and more to make cleaner power a reality.

Since our proposal lets states choose the low-carbon path that makes sense for them, we’re sending a powerful signal to the market that pulls investment capital off the shelf and into our clean energy economy. We’ve already received great feedback on our proposal, with more than 750,000 comments from health groups, industry groups, faith groups, parents and more. We want every good idea we can get, so we extended the public comment period through Dec. 1.

Our plan pushes progress already underway in companies, city halls and state capitals nationwide. A new report from the Carbon Disclosure Project shows that major companies like Delta, Google and Disney tack on an internal carbon price to their business decisions, because investors see the cost of carbon pollution and the value of cutting it.

It’s true that climate change needs a global solution. We can’t act for other nations, but when the United States of America leads, other nations follow. We set the pace. We invest, build and sell solutions that other nations need.

Action to reduce pollution doesn’t dull our competitive edge — it sharpens it. Years ago, American chemical companies like DuPont and Honeywell innovated safer chemicals to replace the ones destroying the ozone layer and sold those solutions to the rest of the world. Over the last four decades, the EPA has cut air pollution by 70 percent, while the U.S. economy has tripled in size.

The economy has never been a reason to fear action — it’s a reason to take it. A new study by the New Climate Economy Project finds that cutting carbon pollution could actually mean faster economic growth. Another recent study shows  even states that are still skeptical, like Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, would actually see an annual net economic benefit of up to about $16 billion dollars.

American leadership shines brightly because we don’t sacrifice our values to move forward. We don’t bend to the false warnings of those who lack faith in American ingenuity. Today, we have more cars, more people, more jobs, more businesses and less pollution. That’s how we define progress.

When we act on climate, we seize an opportunity to retool and resurge with new technologies, new industries and new jobs. We owe it to our kids not just to act, but to lead. When we do, we’ll leave them a cleaner, safer and opportunity-rich world for generations to come.

The Crown Capital Management Global Journalism International Relations Blog: Preparing to Lead in the Digital Economy

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Op-ed: The New Polytechnic: Preparing to Lead in the Digital Economy

Think about what is going on right now, all around you. There are satellites above us collecting data on air movements, sensors below us collecting data on ground movements, and cameras all around us collecting data on our movements. Medical devices are measuring heartbeats, and communication devices are receiving and sending tweets, emails, text messages, and GPS signals.

Data is being generated by each of us, about each of us, and collected all around each of us. It is the new natural resource of the 21st century. As with all valuable resources, it is important how we generate it, how we mine it, how we manage it, how we preserve it, and how we connect it.

This extraordinarily rapid expansion in the creation, availability, and interconnectivity of data from multiple sources, and the ever more powerful analytical and computational capacity that is generating new information from this deluge of data, is causing a significant transformation globally in the way we make discoveries, make decisions, make products, make connections and, ultimately, make progress. It is altering all aspects of curriculum and research at universities such as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The ability to aggregate, integrate, validate, structure, and fully use the burgeoning mass of information available will define success in this data-driven future – including for universities.

A new way of working and learning is required – what I have called the “New Polytechnic” – collaborating across disciplines and sectors and regions to harness the power of these tools and technologies to address the key intersecting challenges and opportunities of our time: in energy security, health, food, water, and national security, as well as the linked challenges of climate change and allocation of scarce resources so critical to our future.

In the “New Polytechnic,” universities must collaborate more effectively with businesses and governments to link the capabilities of advanced information technologies, communications, and networking – to the life sciences, and the physical, materials, environmental, social, cognitive, and computational sciences.

We also must prepare the next generation to succeed and lead in this new world. Students need to acquire new skills for this digitally interconnected environment, including the ability to “translate” between and among disciplines and sectors. They must learn to operate effectively and ethically in virtual communities, immersive environments, and in blended worlds.

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, we are transforming ourselves to develop and use these new tools and technologies so that our faculty and students can apply them to answer the great global challenges.

We are incorporating data literacy across the curriculum, and throughout our research. We are using digitally created immersive environments and multiplayer games, and artificially intelligent characters to teach and to learn.

We launched The Rensselaer Institute for Data Exploration and Applications – or The Rensselaer IDEA – bringing together talents and strengths in web science, high-performance computing, cognitive computing, data science and predictive analytics, and immersive technologies – and linking them to applications at the interface of engineering and the physical, life, and social sciences.

In addition, we now have the most powerful university-based supercomputer at a private American academic institution; IBM’s Watson computer has enrolled at Rensselaer to expand its cognitive computing skills; a Rensselaer professor is leading the U.S. in a global effort – the Research Data Alliance – to enable scientists to access, combine, and preserve research data; and we have partnered with Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine to push the boundaries of data-driven health research.

Interlinking all of these components and more, we are taking an interdisciplinary approach that will impact research and teaching in powerful new ways. We are educating our students – the next generation of discoverers, innovators, and entrepreneurs – to make a difference in this context. We are modeling the future.

The great universities of the 21st century will remain the physical crossroads where creative people interact across the disciplines and great ideas emerge from these connections. However, in this new digital era, the interconnections will be more global, the pace more rapid, the scale more complex, and the opportunities to change the world more immediate.

The UK is having a hard time breaking away from trade deficit

Exports have reached new record levels as it arose, but imports have exceeded as well as its prior highs and thread of shockingly high deficits is almost unchanged.  Due to this some scientists say that the recovery will only make the gap grow.  The UK continues to import more than they export and are carrying a perpetual trade deficit.

 

The UK has balanced its trade deficit with income from abroad for a period of time.  Many companies and investors who own assets in foreign lands and send back the gains to UK are still enjoying the legacy of the empire

 

The positive result on UK’s present account has decreased harshly since the financial crash, but, and the future looks less hopeful.

 

HSBC’s chief economist, Stephen King, is also affected by 5% deficit.  He argues that that should be down to zero or positive in the aftermath of a severe recession.

 

King’s concern is that deficits grow in times when many shoppers consume more imported goods than ever.   Much better to start from a situation of balance or even a positive balance sooner than the situation worsens.

 

An appropriate recession, one in which declining wages or mass unemployment that eradicate people’s incomes in total, lessen the import bill noticeably.  It is a land that can be seen in Greece, Spain and Portugal, where the horrendous economic and financial conditions they find themselves in have at least improved the trade balance.

 

The Keynesian answer to the crisis in the UK implemented by Labour and partly sustained by the coalition supports employment and public services, however, as well has the unlucky consequence of preserving high levels of imports.  That is the reason the enormous deficits run up by successive governments during and after the recession required to be offset by a major jump in exports.

 

Regardless of a 25% drop in the significance of sterling, the increase was just small.  There are many rival explanations for the reason.  The dependence on the EU, which separate from Germany has resisted development since 2008. The inclination for exporters to jack up their prices instead of the increase production as an answer to higher demand is one more long-term problem.

 

Both give slight motive to expect that an economy that month on month runs a historic elevated deficit previous to the upturn has achieved actual momentum, and with imports increasing further, can evade a mini sterling crisis.

 

Doomsayers disagree Britain has 18 months to two years to discover its export mojo ahead of it is becoming crystal clear a lower pound is needed.  A minor pound would give exporters another increase and perhaps close up the deficit, however, would as well elevate import prices and inflation.  Higher inflation, joined with a consumer boom that is mostly based on additional borrowing, may perhaps oblige the Bank of England to jack up interest rates.  Whatever supporters of higher rate dispute, a speedy and vicious response from the central bank is unwanted and would convey the recovery to a shaky halt.

Little options of Saudis as they push tougher foreign policy

Saudi Arabia, regardless of its deep discomfort about the West’s hesitant rapprochement with Iran, seems to have some viable selection for practicing a more independent and straightforward foreign policy.

Disappointed with the United States from constructing tactical relations with other world powers to thrusting a tougher line in opposition to Iranian allies in the Arab world and, in an instance that the world powers be unsuccessful to foil Tehran’s nuclear objectives, even looking for its own atomic bomb so senior Saudis have expected at a range of possibilities.

However substitute powers are tough even to think for a nation that has been holding back to U.S. ally for decades.  Russia is on the conflicting side against Riyadh concerning the Syrian war and China’s military clout is still modest as compared with the United States’.

Robert Jordan, U.S. ambassador to Riyadh from 2001-03, said there would be limits to any Saudi alliances with other powers.

“There is no country in the world more capable of providing the protection of their oil fields, and their economy, than the U.S., and the Saudis are aware of that. We’re not going to see them jump out of that orbit,” he said.

A few Saudi analysts also say that the kingdom is well aware of what major foreign policy shifts would involve – mainly any pursuit of nuclear weapons while Jordan was a senior diplomat in the administration of President George W. Bush.

As a result, at the end, casting Saudi Arabia as the international villain, instead of its regional arch-rival Iran, and Riyadh has no desire for such of isolation that has required Tehran to the negotiating table.

“Saudi Arabia doesn’t need to become a second Iran,” said a Saudi analyst close to official thinking. “It would be a total reversal of our traditional behavior, of being a reliable member of the international community that promotes strategic stability and stabilizes oil markets.”

Diplomatic sources and analysts in the Gulf say the kingdom, while unsettled, will not risk a breach in relations with its main non-Arab ally and will explore, however warily, a purely diplomatic response to the Iranian opening.

Top Saudis are yet angry with Washington.  Senior U.S. officials apprehended secret two-sided talks with Iranian counterparts for months to get ready for previous month’s interim nuclear agreement among six world powers and Tehran, raising Gulf Arab rulers’ worries that Washington is eager to go betray them and to do a deal with Iran.

Diplomatic sources in the Gulf said, Saudi leaders were taken unawares by the content of the deal that was struck in the early hours of November 24, despite an earlier promise by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to keep them informed of developments.

In Washington, a senior State Department official said Kerry had been in close contact with his counterparts throughout the two rounds of negotiations in Geneva, and had talked to Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on November 25.

“The agreement was reached in the middle of the night and Secretary Kerry spoke with the Saudi Foreign Minister soon afterward,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Under the agreement is Tehran relief from sanctions that are strangling its economy, in return for more oversight of its nuclear program.  Riyadh, along with its Western allies, fears this is aimed at producing weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif suggested on Sunday the deal should not be seen as a threat. “This agreement cannot be at the expense of any country in the region,” he told reporters in Kuwait. “We look at Saudi Arabia as an important and influential regional country and we are working to strengthen cooperation with it for the benefit of the region.”

Diplomatic sources in the Gulf say Riyadh is nervous that the deal will ease pressure on Tehran, allowing it more room to damage Saudi interests elsewhere in the Middle East.

Including in Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen, the conservative Sunni Muslim kingdom is at odds with Iran’s revolutionary Shi’ite leaders in struggles across the Arab world.

Above everything, Riyadh thinks about Iran’s open support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in fighting a rebellion backed by Gulf States as a foreign occupation of Arab lands.

BOLD DECLARATIONS

Riyadh showed tepid support for the nuclear deal, implied alongside warnings that it was a “first step” and that a more comprehensive solution necessary “good will”.

Nevertheless a few well-known Saudis cited bold declarations that Riyadh will develop a tough new foreign policy, protecting its interests in keeping with its status as the richest Arab state and birthplace of Islam.

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Saudi ambassador to London, told The Times newspaper that “all options are available” to Riyadh, including seeking its own atomic weapon, if Iran managed to build the bomb.

However diplomatic sources in the Gulf and analysts close to Saudi thinking say the main problem in turning such rhetoric into action is the lack on an obvious replacement for the U.S. security umbrella in the Gulf, or for the American military’s role in advising, arming and assisting the Saudi armed forces.

“There’ll be more contact with the Russians and Chinese than in the past. They’ve gone elsewhere for weapons before and we’ll see some more of that, but the overall environment will be America-centric,” said Jordan.

A Western adviser to Gulf countries on geopolitical issues said senior Saudis have looked at ways of reducing the kingdom’s long-term reliance on the United States.

France is one alternative, albeit one that stays firmly in the Western camp in spite of precedent differences with NATO allies.

Riyadh has worked closely with Paris in recent months on both Syrian and Iranian issues, and has awarded it big naval contracts.  That said, the Saudi armed forces and economy are so closely tied to the United States that any serious attempt to disengage over the longer term would be prohibitively costly and difficult, diplomatic sources in the Gulf say.

Washington stays closer to Riyadh on each Middle Eastern concern any other world power currently except France, which has taken a hard line on Iran.

The issue in Syria over which there is the greatest disagreement between Riyadh and Washington, the kingdom is now arming and training some rebel groups which the United States, cautious about arming jihadists, views with caution.

Diplomatic sources in the Gulf say these efforts will continue and may expand, but logistical challenges will hinder any rapid attempt to increase training much beyond the thousand or so rebels now working in Jordan with Saudi special forces.

Riyadh’s own suspicions of an Islamist backlash stop it from arming more militant groups with ties to al Qaeda.  This is reinforced by a bombing campaign inside the country in the last decade,

The sources say Saudi Arabia still relies on a lot of support from Western allies for command and control expertise, and would find it very difficult to build its own coalition of Arab allies to join forces in a military campaign.

They note that the kingdom and its five closest regional friends, the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, have been unable to agree on a shared missile defense shield after years of discussions.

Good judgment in forecasting international affairs

The Economist’s The World in 2014 issue focuses international attention on the geopolitical outcomes we can expect to see over the next 12-14 months hits the newsstand.  It features an article by University of Pennsylvania psychologist Phil Tetlock and journalist Dan Gardner on the Good Judgment Project.  That said article isa research study funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA, the U.S. government’s analog to DARPA), as a result, makes such geopolitical predictions each day.

IARPA has posed approximately 100-150 questions every year to research teams partaking in its ACE forecasting tournament on topics like the Syrian civil war, the constancy of the Eurozone and Sino-Japanese relations since 2011.  Every research team was obliged to collect individual forecasts coming from many forecasters online and to produce daily collective forecasts that allocate sensible probabilities to potential outcomes.

The Good Judgment Project came out as the evident winner and the Good Judgment Project forecasters have established the capability to produce more right forecasts that have surpassed even a few of the most positive approximation at the start of the tournament.  The supplementary graphic shows the calculation from three GJP forecasting techniques on a up to date question about whether the first round of chemical weapons inspections in Syria would be completed before Dec. 1.

From the said condition, the question resolved as a “yes” since from the one who was conducting the inspections which is the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that they had completed the first round of inspection before Dec. 1.  Because the question resolved as a “yes”, the closer each forecasting method’s predictions were to 1, the better they did.  According to the results of the graph, after some first hesitations about if inspections would occur or not, our forecasters in general met on the correct answer well previous to the outcome.

The Project utilizes new social-science methods ranging from controlling the understanding of mass to prediction markets to situating the teams of forecasters together.  The GJP research team feature its success to a mixture of getting the accurate people on the bus, tendering basic tutorials on inferential traps to keep away from and best practices to put in the practice everyday, engaging the most brilliant forecasters into great teams, and continually fine-tuning the aggregation algorithms it uses to unite individual forecasts into a collective prediction on every forecasting question.  The Project’s best forecasters are normally talented and very motivated amateurs, instead of the subject matter experts.

Industry, labor, foes sound off during hearing on nuclear waste

Not often carry out nuclear industry executives and hardline activists who be against them agree on anything.

Mutually the two hates the thought of continuing to stockpile highly radioactive waste the reactor cores of nuclear power plants on the site of each power-generating station.

An hour-long hearing held December 2, 2013 drew almost 200 people from Ohio and Michigan to the Hilton Garden Inn in Perrysburg’s Levis Commons was a reminder that both sides are still far apart on what the government’s next step should be.

Although it would mean putting up with the waste decades longer than expected, industry and trade unions eventually want a single, national repository. Failure to develop a solution is reason enough to shut down the industry; this is the antinuclear activists claim to the government.

Nuclear power provides 20 percent of America’s electricity.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the government agency that oversees the nuclear industry, learned a lot of information, the 11th stop on the agency’s 12-city tour in which it ought to do just that: Get a cross section of opinions.  As an answer to the government’s decision to unfinished plans for a national repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, the NRC has been asking Americans about their thoughts regarding the agency’s proposed “waste confidence” rule and its affiliated environmental impact statement,.

As a consequence, the NRC is inquiring what the public’s thoughts concerning leaving the waste where it is, at least for the time being.

As of today, America has 100 nuclear plants in operation.  The U.S. government was contractually constrained to begin picking up the high-level radioactive waste from them by Jan. 31, 1998.

These plants were not for holding all of the waste indoors but most of it is stored in spent fuel pools.  Usually on the same site and once those fill up, the oldest waste is moved to dry storage casks outdoors.

FirstEnergy Corp. spent more than $5 million to build that outdoor storage system for its Davis-Besse nuclear plant in the 1990s.

For many years, it doesn’t have to expand.

But FirstEnergy spokesman Jennifer Young, who attended the hearing but was not scheduled to speak, told The Blade the Akron-based utility will start making plans in 2014 for building more exterior containers and filling them with spent reactor fuel in 2017.

That utility and others are unwilling to do so, but mentioning they have no other options until the government develops a repository.

Almost a decade ago, the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute sued the U.S. government for breach of contract and they succeeded as a decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Ever since then, utilities have been permitted to gather rent from the government for waste stored on corporate land.

“At this point, this form of [on-site] storing the waste is probably the best way possible,” Jim Sass, Ottawa County Commission president, told the NRC.

“This is a con game,” said activist Michael Keegan of Monroe, who has been watching DTE Energy’s Fermi nuclear complex and at other sites for 33 years. “This is a fraud perpetuated on taxpayers and ratepayers. It is a sham.”

Mike Knisley of Lima, Ohio, who sits on the executive board of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, said organized labor supports a resolution of the problem that allows the nuclear industry to expand and create more jobs.

“These [temporary] storage methods have been proven safe,” Mr. Knisley said.

British-Muslims contribute 31 billion pounds to economy

Britain has more than 10,000 millionaires from among 2.72 million Muslims contributing 31 billion pounds or Rs 3.0 trillion to its economy, says a report.

‘The Muslim Pound – How Muslims Add Value to Britain’s Prosperity’ was released by the Muslim Council of Britain ahead of the just-concluded 9th World Islamic Economic Forum Meet 2013 in London, one report says.

Five decades on, there are more than 10,000 millionaires and thousands of others are engaged in higher managerial, administrative and professional occupations.

Nearly 2.8 million Muslims in the UK contribute over 31 billion pounds to its economy and wield a spending power of 20.5 billion pounds, a report said this November.

A paper from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said from coffee houses in Elizabethan London, to curry houses in modern day Britain, thousands of Muslim-owned businesses have made a significant contribution to the UK economy and by extension, the cultural life of Britain.

The report said there are some 2.78 million Muslims in Britain, contributing over 31 billion pounds to the economy.  There is an anticipated 10,000 Muslim millionaires in the UK with liquid assets of more than 3.6 billion pounds, with more than a dozen British Muslims listed in the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List of the most affluent in the UK.

In London alone, there are over 13,400 Muslim-owned businesses in London creating more than 70,000 jobs, the paper said.

The report was published to highlight Muslims’ growing contribution to the UK and to mark the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) went to London this month, the online portal Huffington Post UK reported.

The MCB report comes as Prime Minister David Cameron is set to unveil a new Islamic index on the London Stock Exchange.  The move, as expected to be worth 1.3 trillion pounds next year, marks the capital’s significance as a global centre for Islamic finance.

The city will be the first non-Muslim city to host the World Islamic Economic Forum.

“I welcome the effort of the British Muslim community in bringing the World Islamic Economic Forum to London. My have worked with the Muslim Council of Britain to bring this Forum to London, who has been a key delegation at World Islamic Economic Forum since its inception,” said London’s Mayor Boris Johnson.

The MCB is a national representative Muslim umbrella body with over 300 affiliated national, regional and local organizations, mosques, charities and schools.

The World’s Top Ten Most Dynamic Economies

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2013/09/21/the-worlds-top-ten-most-dynamic-economies/

Of the top 10 world economies with the highest prospects for commerce growth in 2013, the U.S. is noticeable for its absence.

Based on Grant Thornton’s 2013 Global Dynamism Index (GDI) involving 50 countries, the U.S. slid down from No. 10 last year, to No. 11 in 2013. And to make it worse, its stats for indicators such as financing and labor markets, sank from a collective 64.1 in 2012 to 60.5 in 2013.

Yet, it is not that bad. U.S. left behind the Japanese (15) and the South Koreans (13). It also crushed the U.K., which ranked 34 overall, scoring only 51.5 out of a perfect 100. So, things in the U.S. are far from being that bad.

“I believe the U.S. is playing out almost exactly the way we expected,” said Marc Tommasi, a managing director at investment company Manning & Napier. “It is neither bright nor that terribly bad.”

Grant Thornton’s index provides insights into which of the 50 nations evaluated presents the best ecosystem for investment growth. The U.S. has dropped from the charts. But it has some company. Only a few nations have scaled the charts, and among the most stellar performers is China. It joined the top 10 this year after having placed No. 17 in 2012.

Rankings are according to performance in five main areas – business working environment, economics & growth, science & technology, labor & human capital and the lending conditions.

The obvious news from this year’s index: Asia is a powerhouse for investment growth. And even with the Nordic nations sliding, government policies there make it one of the most ideal areas in the globe to nurture a business. Even more so than the center of capitalism, Uncle Sam.

For China, the business working environment and financing were both graded badly, close to the base of the stack. However, nothing defeats the Chinese labor market. Not merely is it cheap, but on the East Coast especially, they are exceedingly skilled as well. In addition, in terms of holistic outlook there, China is No. 2 for general business growth.

This makes China the second highest jumper, right behind the upcoming tiger-economy Philippines (which climbed 25 places from No. 46 last year). The progress in China is principally powered by its science & technology ranking, where it jumped 8 places to rank 14 on the back of stable information-technology firms and spending on research and development.

“As China advances to a more sustainable economic development path, the GDI 2013 results provide a major sign that our business growth environment remains on the road to improvement,” Grant Thornton managing partner Xu Hua was cited as saying in the report published last week.

 

The top 10 most dynamic economies in 2012 were, namely from 1 to 10: Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Israel, Austria, Australia, Switzerland, Korea, Germany and the United States.

Here are the top 10 most dynamic economies of 2013.

 

No. 10: Norway

Norway got 60.9 points on the index this year, down from 62.6 last year. Multinationals have worked in Norway for so many years, most of them engaged in the oil and gas industry. The most popular Norwegian companies are Statoil and Norsk Hydro.

No. 9: Sweden

Sweden stands No. 9 and gained 61.6 out of a perfect 100. Last year, Sweden’s business vitality scored a 69.6 on the Grant Thornton Global Dynamism Index, so this year’s economic deceleration in southern Europe made a dent. Swedish technology exists in many American homes and enterprises. Ericsson is location in Stockholm. Husqvarna lawn-mowers mow many American lawns.

No. 8: Israel

Israel scores lower this year with 61.8 on the index compared with 69.3 last year, losing its former No. 4 spot. Israel’s growth economy is founded on biotechnology and software. Teva Pharmaceuticals is Israeli-owned and is the largest manufacturer of generic medicines in the world.

 

No. 7: Singapore

Singapore slid down this year but remains up there. On the index in 2013, it scored 61.9 out of a perfect 100, down from the No. 1 spot last year at 72.1. The country is generally noted as the biggest trade center in the world.

 

Tied with Canada: Finland

Finland ties with Canada with 62.3 this year, dropping from the No. 2 spot last year with a score of 70.5. Naturally, everyone remembers Finland as the people who gave us Angry Birds. Rovio Mobile is housed in Espoo. Microsoft adores Finnish tech so much it acquired Nokia this year.

No. 5: Canada

Canada and Finland both scored 62.3 out of a perfect 100 and is improving. Last year on the index, it gained 61.7. Canada is popular as the country that gave us the smartphone. BlackBerry is located in Waterloo. And while BlackBerry has seen brighter days, Canada likewise hosts TD Bank and airplane manufacturer Bombardier.

No. 4: New Zealand

That Fly Emirates symbol printed on the jib sail of an America’s Cup catamaran belongs to Team New Zealand. The country ranked No. 4 with an index score of 62.6, sliding from 63.9 last year on the Grant Thornton Global Dynamism Index. In spite of this lower index number, New Zealand climbed from No. 13 in 2012.

No. 3: China

China is doing something right, climbing from Rank 20 last year to No. 3. It scored a 62.7 out of 100, up from last year’s score of 61.4. China is the world’s No. 2 economy, and here in the U.S., it is referred to as the economy every politician “loves to hate”. Accused of causing massive losses of manufacturing jobs in America and a crushing trade deficit, China is no longer merely a Happy Meal toy-manufacturing economy. It is now noted for being a melting-pot for luxury retailers. However, it is also popular for Internet pet-companies such as Tencent, Baidu and Sina.

 

No. 2: Chile

Chile has always been favoured by the global executive. The only thing that has changed is that it continues to get better. Last year, it garnered No. 11 with an index score of 63.8. This year, it is No. 2 with an index score of 64.5. Noted for its copper mining, red wine and salmon, it is also home to LAN Airlines, the biggest airline owned by Latin Americans. Chile is good; but not as good as these guys…

The Most Dynamic Business Climate On Earth…

…is Downunder. Australia climbed from No. 7 last year with an index score of 65.6 to No.1 with an index score of 66.5. Australia has so much to offer prospective investors: twenty two years of continuous economic growth; stable institutions; a trained, industrious labor force and a vigorous culture of investment in research and development. The country’s most noted firms include mining giant BHP Billiton, surf apparel and culture brand Billabong and Rip Curl, and brewery Fosters Group. Addicted to playing fruit ninja on X Box Kinect? It is a product of Halfbrick Studios of Australia.

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