sábado, 20 de dezembro de 2008

LiveDrive Offers Unlimited Online Storage [Online Storage]


from Lifehacker by Jason Fitzpatrick

LiveDrive, not to be confused with Windows Live Skydrive, is a free and unlimited online storage service.
LiveDrive users can upload an unlimited number of files, and while the size limit per file isn't explicitly stated anywhere on the site I had no trouble uploading multi-GB files. The upload speed maxed out the available upload bandwidth I had, someone with a much faster pipe will have to weigh in on what the upload ceiling is. Users running Windows XP/Vista machines are able to download a stand alone client which adds a virtual drive to their computer assigned to the letter L. According to the site a client for Mac users is in the works. During the sign up process users are able to select a custom domain,http://someusername.livedrive.com, for accessing their files and sharing them. While the service is in beta, accounts are free. For other places to park your files, check out the Online Storage Comparison Chart.

Ana voted sexiest player once again


The latest news about Ana!

December 19, 2008 /

Ana continued her dominance of thetennisreporters.net annual poll for the Sexiest Female Player award as she triumphed for the fourth year in a row. The 21-year-old received 42.5 per cent of the vote, more than double the share of second-placed Maria Sharapova.

The award is the latest in a long line of accolades Ana has received this year: throughout 2008 her beauty, generosity and on-court achievements have been recognised. Just two months ago Ana was judged to have the most desirable body of all sportspeople –male or female – by readers of Germany's Die Bild, the biggest-selling newspaper in Europe.

In fact, the year began with The Age newspaper in Australia naming Ana the most attractive tennis player of all-time. In March she was recognised by her fellow professional when they voted for her in order to win the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Karen Krantzcke Sportmanship Award 2007, and she also scooped the Most Improved Player Award 2007.

In April Ana was named at No.23 on FHM's 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2008 list, finishing as the leading athlete and ahead of the likes of Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman and Eva Mendes. Three months later Ana was named Women's Tennis Player of the Year 2008 by the International Sports Press Association (AIPS).

In October she won the Michael Westphal Award for “best tennis personality 2008”, as voted for by readers of German Tennis Magazine, and last month she was given the 2008 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Diamond ACES Award in recognition of her outstanding service of off-court promotional activities this year.

Photo: Luca Carati

Britney Spears

Ponzi Scheme

Can Young Kirk Really Survive the Jump from the Car? [Star Trek]


from A-Series: Canon Unveils PowerShot A720 IS and 12-megapixel A650 IS by Jesus Diaz

PopSci's Adam Weiner did some calculations to see if young Kirk could survive the car jump in the new Star Trek trailer, failing miserably. We have the real answer in our own video.
According to Adam, he would have needed to apply a force of 3,900 Newtons with his fingers to stop from falling. His calculations, however, don't take into account the friction of his body, as some of the comments in his article point out. But then again, he gave Kirk a 4m/s liftoff speed on his jump—which is quite high.
In any case, we stand by our answer: Who gives a vulcan ass about this. [PopSci]

sexta-feira, 19 de dezembro de 2008

Linkin Park - Breaking The Habit

Nickelback - Rockstar [Explicit]

Google Reader quietly launches a “What’s hot” area. Where’s the “most shared” area?


from VentureBeat by MG Siegler

Given the number of people who use Google Reader’s “Starred items” and “Shared items” features, you’d think Google would have some very good data for creating a killer “best of” area for stories across the web. In the past, people have talked about how such a feature could be a “Digg killer,” but Google has passed on such an opportunity — thus far. A new feature quietly rolled out this week may indicate that it is coming.
The Official Google Reader Blog has added a new “What’s Hot” sidebar item that “shows some algorithmically generated stuff that is interesting across the web,” a post on the blog notes. And this isn’t just a sidebar item, it has its own shared page just like every Google Reader who shares items has. This means that yes, you can subscribe to it and see some of “what’s hot” across the web.
It’s not entirely clear how Google is generating this hot list other than that vague description that it is “algorithmically generated.” It’s possible that it’s not using Google Reader data at all. In fact, from the look of the URL for the page, it would seem to be a single Google Reader account that has labeled certain items as “cool.”
Certainly, you can assume this page is not using user’s Starred item data, since that isn’t supposed to be public, but Shared items are public, so it would make sense to Google to crawl those, find the most shared items, and highlight them. Other services, namely ReadBurner and RSSmeme do this already.
Eventually, I believe that will be a part of Google Reader. And this may well be the first step.

VIX Sliding Fast


from Seeking Alpha: Stock Picks, Stock Market Investing by Bespoke Investment Group

Hickey and Walters (Bespoke) submit:The volatility bubble that we spoke of just last week is starting to unwind pretty fast, with the VIX now down more than 50% from its highs. The VIX has typically gone up when the market has gone down, but even on days when the market has declined this week, the VIX has gone down as well. As shown below, the VIX recently broke below its November lows and is currently resting just above 40. There isn't much support in sight until the mid-30s.
Complete Story »

US Dollar May Lose Further Against the Japanese Yen

USD/JPY Ratio: 1.33
Signal: Bearish
USDJPY – The forex trading crowd continues to buy into US Dollar/Japanese Yen declines, and such stubbornness suggests that the pair may yet fall further. That said, positioning has become far less extreme through recent trading. The ratio of long to short positions in the USDJPY stands at 1.31 as nearly 57% of traders are long. This stands in contrast with a ratio of 2.11 at this point last week, and the slow capitulation from the forex trading crowd tells us that we are zeroing in on a bottom. Through the very short term we may expect the US Dollar to continue falling against the Japanese Yen, but a stronger shift in sentiment would signal that a turn is likely. As it stands, our USD/JPY trading strategies are currently flat after aggressively selling through previous price action. 

Obama diz que EUA "dormiram no ponto" ao permitir estouro da crise


O presidente eleito dos Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, escolheu nesta quinta-feira o professor de Direito Daniel Tarullo para assumir uma das vagas do Conselho do Federal Reserve (BC americano). Tarullo trabalhou na equipe do ex-presidente Bill Clinton (1993-2001).
Gerald Herbert/AP
Daniel Tarullo (dir.) trabalhou com o ex-presidente Bill Clinton e assumirá uma cadeira vaga no Federal Reserve (BC americano)
Daniel Tarullo (dir.) trabalhou com o ex-presidente Bill Clinton e assumirá uma cadeira vaga no Federal Reserve (BC americano)
Atualmente, Tarullo trabalha na equipe de transição do democrata na secretaria do Tesouro. Todos os atuais membros do Fed, incluindo o presidente Ben Bernanke, foram escolhidos pelo presidente republicano George W. Bush. Leia mais (18/12/2008 - 16h08)

quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2008

Capital-ist Economies to Capital-less Economies


A farmer who eats the seed corn over the winter must borrow to plant in the spring. He must repay the loan from the harvest, leaving him with even less to live on come the following winter if the crop does not yield a greater harvest. The misfortune of one bad harvest can start a cycle of decline that leads to permanent penury. Sharecropper plantation owners have exploited and impoverished sharecropper farmers on this principle for centuries.
Is it different for nations?
"It is the aim of good government to stimulate production, of bad government to encourage consumption." - Jean Baptiste Say
In the classical conception of economics, capital is the surplus of production over consumption. Only by consuming less than is produced can a person, or a company, or a nation accumulate capital for reinvestment, growth and continued prosperity. Capital cannot be borrowed, because borrowing implies repayment from the proceeds of the endeavour at a rate which – on the whole – precludes accumulated surplus.
A gambler might get lucky and make enough to both repay the debt and hold a surplus over his consumption, but gambling erodes investment discipline and prudence, and so over time proves a poor basis for economic management in the home, the boardroom or the Treasury.
A thief or con-artist might steal or defraud enough to repay the debt and hold a surplus over his consumption, but theft and fraud erode commerical confidence and invite retribution, and so over time prove a poor basis for economic management in the home, the boardroom or the Treasury.
A defaulter can simply refuse to repay the debt, and keep any surplus for himself, but defaulting erodes investors’ confidence and leads to bankruptcy, and so over time proves a poor basis for economic management of the home, the boardroom or the Treasury.
Borrowing implies risk, for both the lender and the borrower.
Somehow neo-classical economics was able to finesse this principle to convince a generation of consumers, bankers, regulators, legislators and investors that debt should be considered capital too, and that more debt than savings could be good for economic growth and prosperity.
For a time, the neo-classical economists appeared to have found a financial perpetual motion machine. As consumers, companies and governments borrowed more, they appeared to prosper more. Leveraging the accumulated equity in their homes, the consumers got bigger houses and bigger cars. Leveraging their fixed assets and future revenues, the companies got bigger balance sheets, bigger executive remuneration and bigger shareholder dividends. Leveraging their power of taxation and monetary creation, the governments got bigger militaries, bigger bureaucracies, bigger scope for patronage projects. The bankers intermediating all this debt got bigger too, with bigger bonuses for “loan origination”, bigger fees from M&A, bigger commissions and income from securities and derivatives dealing, and bigger influence with their supervisors to loosen any inconvenient accounting, reporting, audit, scope or expansion rules that might have impaired their freedom to keep the party going.
Free Market became the rallying cry of those who believed in perpetual motion. They passionately decried regulation as impairing the market’s freedom to allocate “capital” to the best likely return. They passionately decried taxes as diminishing the “capital” held by those who would reinvest it in growth. They passionately exhorted consumers, businesses and governments to borrow as much “capital” as they could possibly bear, and to err on the side of profligacy, so that more “capital” would be working to grow their revenues and balance sheets in the “free market”.
But the problem with this perpetual motion machine was that it was all the time grinding the seed corn. The “capital” it was pumping out was not the surplus of production over consumption, but the borrowed surplus of greater fools who believed in the hawkers’ pitch of perpetual motion and laid their meagre savings and accumulated assets on the barrelhead in faith the machine would return them multiplied.
The reality of the American, UK and other heavily leveraged economies is that we have eaten our seed corn and eaten the seed corn of those who have financed our profligacy. Over the past twenty-five years there has been a quiet conspiracy among those bankers profiting from the process to promote gambling, stealing, fraud and default as solutions to disguise the implications of a failure of perpetual motion.
Financial markets have morphed over this time from mechanisms for efficient allocation of scarce investment capital to promote greater production through rewarding foresight and diligence into casinos that reward those with a system that beats the unwary and beats the house. Leverage has been used to overcome bad judgement, rewarding those willing to risk more at the expense of the prudent. Modern markets have arguably never been less transparent, with fragmentation, off-exchange dealing, derivatives, structured finance, hedge funds and other ill-transparent innovations making it all but impossible for the average Joe Investor to assess activity and prospects with any confidence.
Companies were urged to borrow for sprees of mergers and acquisitions, and then either declare bankruptcy to shed their inconvenient pension liabilities or move production offshore to reduce expenditure on labour or both, emerging from these contortions as desirable prospects for more mergers and acquisitions. Any setback resulted in the generous retirement of one incompetent executive and the more generous appointment of another that would borrow the company into future prosperity.
Consumers and consumer finance companies were urged alike to feed the machine by overstating house values, overstating incomes, understating debts, juggling credit cards, and continually recycling any proceeds from the mania’s inflation of asset prices back into more accumulated debt through regular refinancing. Workers were forced to give any surplus savings from labour to the machine as mandatory pension contributions or cajoled into it through tax breaks on 401Ks and other ruses funnelling seed corn to the machine.
Governments were urged to finance wars, social welfare spending, police state intelligence technologies, infrastructure and excess, defaulting through loose monetary policy, defrauding through massaged official statistics, and deregulating the financial sector and capital markets when credit constraint threatened to stem the tide. A government that got into trouble was urged to "privatise" by leveraging or selling government assets, the seed corn of past accumulations, or to put services out to tender in the private sector so that they could pay more to receive less through the miraculous efficiencies of free market fulfillment of social needs. Any difficulty or disruption was overcome with tax breaks, subsidies and public underwriting of yet more debt creation - with mortgage interest deductions, corporate debt interest deductions, FNMA, FHLC and other ploys all feeding more seed corn to the machine.
All of this will someday unwind. It may be this year. It may be next year. It may be several years hence if central bankers can scrape together more seed corn from ever greater fools to keep the perpetual motion machine turning over. At some point, indebted societies must revert to the discipline of consuming less than they produce to repay their debts, or these societies will suffer the even worse consequences of the social dislocation and commercial disruption that follows gambling, theft, fraud and default.
Globalisation has allowed the bankers to hawk their perpetual motion wares to a wider pool of greater fools. This is a dangerous policy. Warren Buffett has long warned that as long as the US has major foreign trade deficits, it has to "give away a little part of the country" each year. He warned America was becoming a "sharecropper economy," where Americans largely work for foreign-owned firms – or governments. The profusion of sovereign wealth funds represents the rational diversification of states with surplus production over consumption – capital – to preserve that wealth through equity investment that unlike debt will be secure from the debtor’s attempt to inflate away his obligation through the expedient of monetary laxity. Owning equity means a permanent claim on American production. Like the sharecropper, foreign equity ownership implies permanent want and decline to penury for the borrower nation.
Worryingly, globalisation has increased the likelihood that debt will lead to political instability and international conflict. The wars for resource, long a “Great Game” but now increasingly a violent and expensive gamble, are only one outcome. Food riots and inflation encourage governments to resort to intervention and oppression. Internal economic decline and dissent reinforces calls to patriotism, theocracy and militarism over reason. Lately I find myself wondering if the “beggar thy neighbour” policies of the 1930s weren’t a result of a similar dynamic, following, as they did, a similar era of massively irresponsible bank-fuelled credit growth and deflation.
When I was young and in debt, an old mentor of mine enjoined me to pay off my loans and my credit cards and to never again “borrow for consumption”. Investment that would confidently yield a good return, such as buying an education in a profession or purchasing a home for the long term, could be financed, but a new TV or a holiday must always be earned and paid for from present income.
Strange to say, but his advice shocked me. I had grown up with debt. My parents were always in debt. My earliest memory of economics is my father explaining to me that he loved inflation because his salary would get bigger and his debts would get smaller.
Nonetheless, I took my mentor’s advice and have lived within my income, whether large or modest, ever since. Perhaps I have missed out on having a grander house, or a flashier car, or the trendiest gadgets, but I have slept remarkably well for over twenty years and feel confident of withstanding the challenges and profiting from the opportunities that the future may bring.

Teri Hatcher

Um banco central heterodoxo


"BRASILEIRO não pode viajar", dizia Nelson Rodrigues. Nada mais verdadeiro, nada mais profundo. Desde que me mudei para os Estados Unidos, estou desenvolvendo pelo Federal Reserve uma admiração de subdesenvolvido nato e hereditário.
O leitor dirá, com certa razão, que o banco central americano não merece lá tanta admiração. Sob o comando de Ben Bernanke, o Fed talvez tenha sido lento na reação à crise financeira na fase inicial. E, sob o comando do seu antecessor, Alan Greenspan, o Fed teve sem dúvida grande responsabilidade na gestação da crise. Greenspan, antes considerado um gênio, está hoje mais sujo que pau de galinheiro.
Mas, convenhamos, tudo é relativo. Comparado com outros bancos centrais, o Fed de Bernanke está demonstrando grande flexibilidade e criatividade. Vem atuando, nos meses recentes, de forma agressiva e heterodoxa, acionando os mais diversos instrumentos e políticas para estabilizar o sistema financeiro e evitar o aprofundamento da recessão nos Estados Unidos.
O Fed ainda está longe de alcançar os resultados pretendidos. Atuando em conjunto com o Tesouro e outras instituições oficiais, o banco central conseguiu evitar o colapso do sistema financeiro, mas o crédito ainda não foi normalizado. A recessão continua se intensificando. O nível de preços ao consumidor (ajustado sazonalmente) caiu em outubro e novembro. Os preços no atacado (o índice de preços ao produtor para bens acabados) vêm caindo desde agosto.
A eficácia dos instrumentos tradicionais de política monetária diminuiu muito, como se sabe. Com a decisão de terça-feira, a meta do Fed para a taxa básica nominal se aproximou de zero. Mas a reativação da demanda depende das taxas de juro de mercado, e estas permanecem ainda bastante elevadas.
Isso levou Bernanke a trabalhar, cada vez mais, com instrumentos não-convencionais de política monetária. O Fed vem criando uma série de mecanismos para injetar liquidez na economia e oferecer crédito a instituições financeiras e outras empresas, com regras mais flexíveis em termos de acesso e aceitação de garantias. Em conseqüência, o balanço do banco central americano registrou expansão fenomenal nos últimos meses.
No seu comunicado de terça-feira, o Federal Open Market Committee (mais ou menos equivalente ao Copom brasileiro) antecipou que as taxas básicas de juro devem permanecer "em níveis excepcionalmente baixos por algum tempo", tentando assim reforçar os efeitos da taxa quase zero sobre as taxas de juro de mercado. Além disso, indicou que pretende "apoiar o funcionamento dos mercados financeiros e estimular a economia por meio de operações de mercado aberto e outras medidas que sustentam o balanço do Federal Reserve em nível elevado".
Isso significará, por exemplo, adquirir grandes quantidades de títulos emitidos por Fannie Mae e Freddie Mac e outros títulos lastreados em hipotecas. Significará, também, a implementação no início de 2009 de uma linha para facilitar a extensão de crédito a pessoas físicas e pequenas empresas.
O Federal Open Market Committee declarou que está avaliando a possibilidade de comprar títulos do Tesouro de prazo mais longo e que continuará a considerar meios de utilizar o seu balanço para apoiar os mercados de crédito e a atividade econômica.
Em suma, leitor, heterodoxia é coisa para rico. Aos subdesenvolvidos, a ortodoxia -de galinheiro.

Um otimismo preocupante

Rolf Kuntz

A crise atingiu o Tesouro, derrubou a arrecadação e impôs ao governo mais um problema. O presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva está arriscado a trabalhar, por algum tempo, sem a segurança de um cofre alimentado, todo mês, por um volume crescente de impostos e contribuições. Aperto fiscal, até agora, foi apenas força de expressão. Durante quatro anos a receita subiu sem parar, proporcionando recursos para despesas cada vez maiores e para um razoável superávit primário. Até agora, a primeira e única adversidade importante havia sido a própria crise. Gestada no mundo rico, o governo brasileiro só a reconheceu publicamente como um perigo com muitos meses de atraso. Em Brasília, gente do governo só começou a admitir a hipótese de uma recessão muito recentemente.

Em novembro, a receita do governo federal foi 16,7% menor que a de outubro e 1,8% inferior à de um ano antes. No mesmo dia a Federação das Indústrias do Estado de São Paulo (Fiesp) informou o fechamento de 34 mil vagas no mês passado. A Confederação Nacional da Indústria (CNI) divulgou projeções para 2009 bem piores que as do governo federal. Essas projeções incluem um crescimento econômico de apenas 2,4% e o risco de redução do produto em dois trimestres consecutivos, o atual e o próximo. Se isso for confirmado, o Brasil será mais um país em recessão, de acordo com a convenção aceita por muitos economistas.

Diante do esfriamento evidente da economia, o primeiro ensaio de um ajuste fiscal partiu não do Executivo, mas, surpreendentemente, da Comissão Mista de Orçamento do Congresso Nacional. Com mais justiça, é preciso atribuir a iniciativa ao senador Delcídio Amaral (PT-MS), relator-geral do projeto de Orçamento federal. Na versão final do projeto, ele cortou R$ 6,1 bilhões da receita prevista inicialmente pelo Executivo e R$ 15,3 bilhões da projeção inflada pela própria Comissão.

O resultado final não chega a ser uma demonstração de austeridade monástica, mas é uma novidade até espantosa, quando se considera a tradição brasileira. Os últimos cálculos foram baseados na hipótese de uma expansão econômica de 3,5%, maior que a projetada pela CNI, mas bem menor que a indicada na versão original da proposta orçamentária, de 4,5%. Mesmo diante do inegável agravamento da crise, o ministro da Fazenda, Guido Mantega, reafirma a intenção de trabalhar por um crescimento de 4% em 2009.

Se relaxar a meta de superávit primário - o dinheiro poupado para os juros - a dívida pública provavelmente aumentará e será necessária, mais tarde, uma correção de rumo. Essa correção dificilmente será realizada em ano de eleição. O ministro Mantega e o presidente Lula têm prometido manter ou intensificar os investimentos públicos e, em caso de necessidade, cortar o custeio. Para investir mais o governo precisaria elevar sua capacidade gerencial. Mas é difícil acreditar numa redução do custeio. O item principal, a folha de salários e de encargos sociais, já está inflado pelos aumentos concedidos neste ano. A revisão da proposta orçamentária preparada pelo senador Delcídio Amaral inclui um corte de apenas R$ 400 milhões nesse item, com a suspensão de contratações. O dispêndio total com folha e encargos deve cair de R$ 169,2 bilhões para R$ 168,8 bilhões. Restará cortar outras despesas correntes, mas, para não causar danos maiores à economia, o governo precisará separar claramente os gastos necessários e os supérfluos. O ensinamento da experiência é claro: o desperdício tende a continuar, enquanto despesas produtivas, como as da assistência à agricultura, são podadas.

Haverá o risco, também, de uma piora considerável das contas externas, se o governo quiser estimular o crescimento apenas com estímulos ao mercado interno. Nas projeções da CNI, o superávit comercial cai de US$ 24 bilhões para US$ 15 bilhões e o déficit em conta corrente sobe de US$ 29 bilhões para US$ 30 bilhões. Mas o pressuposto desses números é um crescimento econômico de 2,4%. Com uma expansão dessa ordem, as importações cairão de US$ 174 bilhões para US$ 155 bilhões. Se o aumento do Produto Interno Bruto ficar na faixa de 3,5% a 4%, as importações cairão menos, se caírem, e o buraco na conta corrente será bem maior. Isso não bastará para criar uma crise cambial a curto prazo, mas o País se tornará bem mais vulnerável, especialmente se o lado fiscal também se deteriorar. O governo, enfim, continua atrasado. Já reconhece a crise, mas ainda se mostra mais otimista que o relator do Orçamento e os economistas da CNI. Isso é preocupante.

Pessimismo cai nos EUA e sobe no Brasil

Eric Martin
Da Bloomberg News

Os investidores dos Estados Unidos e da Alemanha ficaram menos pessimistas com relação à evolução das ações nos próximos seis meses depois que o presidente eleito dos EUA, Barack Obama, propôs a maior investida de gastos em obras públicas desde a década de 1950 para tirar a economia americana da recessão, segundo revelou pesquisa realizada entre os usuários da Bloomberg. O pessimismo aumentou em França, Brasil, Japão, Espanha, Suíça, Reino Unido e México, segundo a Pesquisa Bloomberg Professional de Confiança Mundial realizada entre 2.374 usuários. Apenas na Itália os executivos previram altas das ações, segundo o levantamento, realizado de 8 a 12 de dezembro.

O S&P 500 subiu 21 % em relação a 20 de novembro, quando registrou sua maior baixa dos últimos 11 anos, puxado pelas compras ávidas de ações por parte dos investidores, ao preço mais baixo desde 1995, e pelo anúncio de Obama de que impulsionaria os investimentos em estradas, pontes e edifícios públicos. O indicador deu um salto de 5,1% na quinta-feira, depois que o Federal Reserve (Fed, o BC dos EUA) reduziu sua taxa básica de juros para seu nível mais baixo de todos os tempos, dentro de uma banda de flutuação de 0 a 0,25%.

"Todas as medidas que vimos, desde a redução dos juros aos anúncios de gastos públicos, pretendem estimular o nível de atividade, manter a economia em movimento e restabelecer a confiança entre os bancos", disse Juan Carlos Acitores, co- gestor de US$ 20 bilhões na Ahorro Corporación de Madri e participante da pesquisa. "Elas vão ajudar os mercados financeiros a voltarem à normalidade. Os governos e órgãos reguladores estão mesmo promovendo uma injeção de oxigênio."Todos os índices dos mercados de capitais dos 10 países cobertos pela pesquisa despencaram mais de 25%, uma vez que o temor de que o congelamento dos mercados de crédito vá aniquilar os ganhos ceifou US$ 29 trilhões em valor de mercado das ações no mundo inteiro.

As empresas financeiras registraram US$ 1 trilhão em prejuízos e baixas contábeis desde o início de 2007. O S&P 500 recuou 38%, e se encaminha para registrar sua maior retração anual desde 1937.O índice Bloomberg de confiança aumentou 7,2% nos Estados Unidos, para 38,25 pontos. Um cômputo inferior a 50 pontos indica que os investidores prevêem que as ações vão cair nos próximos seis meses, enquanto um total de mais de 50 pontos revela uma expectativa de alta.

A pontuação da Alemanha, a maior economia da Europa, subiu 14%, para 39 pontos. Os parlamentares do país aprovaram um programa de 32 bilhões de euros (US$ 45 bilhões) de medidas de estímulo, enquanto o governo instaurou um fundo de 400 bilhões de euros para garantir os empréstimos bancários.

O grau de confiança nas bolsas teve sua maior queda no Brasil, onde recuou 18%, para 45,45 pontos, em vista da desvalorização das cotações do níquel e da soja, gerada por sinais de que o aprofundamento da recessão mundial reduzirá a demanda. O Ibovespa brasileiro despencou 37% este ano. O grau de otimismo recuou 3,7 % no México, para 48,16 pontos.Os países em desenvolvimento foram os que se saíram pior este ano. O Índice MSCI Emerging Markets despencou 53 por cento, queda superior à de 42 % computada pelo indicador da MSCI Inc. de 23 mercados desenvolvidos. A depreciação foi movida pelo temor de que as recessões vão restringir a demanda pelas matérias-primas exportadas.

Blogger's new Geotagging feature (and how to use it!)


from Blogger Buster by Amanda

The Blogger team have added a new "Geotagging" feature to Blogger in Draft which enables you to add a location to each of your blog posts. This will then display in your post-footer section (near your post labels, timestamp, etc), and will act as a link to a page on Google Maps where readers can learn more about the location.

Here's an example of how this would appear, as taken in screenshots from theexplanatory post on the Blogger in Draft blog:

When you click on the linked location, this will open a new page from Google Maps which shows you the exact location which the author has attributed to the post, like this:

RSS support for Geotags

Your post locations will be included in your blog's RSS and Atom (XML) feeds using GeoRSS which is a web standard for Geotagging. This is important as it allows feed readers, map readers and search engines to associate your posts with particular locations. For example, if you tag your blog posts "New York", these posts can be found more easily by those searching for content based on the New York area.

How to tag your posts with a location

In order to Geotag your posts (add a location) you must create or edit your post through Blogger in Draft. This is because this feature is still experimental, and has not yet been rolled in to the main post editor.

When you create (or edit) a post through Blogger in Draft, look to the left of the Labels area to see the "Add location" link:

This will bring up a pop-up box which appears like this:

Type the location you would like to add in the search box near the top of this pop-up box, and press "Search". You may need to refine your search by adding more details (eg: country, city name, street address) in order to find the location you require.

Once you have found the correct location, you can zoom in (for more accuracy) if you prefer, and finally save your location.

Important: once you have geotagged a post, you cannot remove this tag! 

If you do need to remove your geotag for some reason, Blogger recommends that you copy the content of your post and create a new one, then delete the old geotagged post. At present, this is the only way to "remove" a geotag, though it is more of a workaround than a proper solution ;) I suspect the Blogger team will enable us to properly delete or edit a post's geotag before this feature is rolled out for the main post editor.

How to make your Geotags appear beneath your posts

The first step to making Geotag links appear beneath your posts is to enable this setting in the Blog Posts widget.

To do this, go to Layout>Page Elements while logged into Blogger in Draft, and click the "Edit" link for the Blog Posts widget. On this pop-up page, you will notice a new checkbox for "Location". Ensure you have ticked this checkbox, and save your changes.

If you have recently changed your template to a default Blogger theme (or have recently started a new blog), this simple change of setting will enable you to see Geotag locations beneath your posts straight away. If you are unable to see your Geotags after this change of setting, you need to follow one of the instructions below instead.

Since this is a new Blogger feature, your existing template may not currently include the code required to make geotags appear for each of your tagged posts.

If you use a default Blogger template, the simplest way to enable the Geotags for your posts is to pick a new template. Simply go to Layout>Pick new template in your Blogger dashboard and choose the template you would like to work with. This can be the same template you are currently using.

This method refresheds the template code and adds the section required to make the Geotags appear in the post footer section. Alternatively, you could "Revert the widget templates to default" on the Layout>Edit HTML page of your blog. This has the same effect as choosing a new default template.

If you use a customized or third party template, you will need to add the code required for the Geotags to display manually by editing your template code.

To do this, go to Layout>Edit HTML in your Blogger dashboard and ensure you have checked the "Expand widget templates" box.

We need to add the required code to the "post-footer" section of the main blog posts widget. The easiest way to locate this section is to use your browser's search function to find the following line of code:


 If you cannot find either of these lines in your template code, search for "post-labels", "post-icons" or "timestamp" to locate the appropriate section of your template instead.

Once you have located this section of your template, you need to add the following section of code:

Be sure to add this outside any other tags! If you did find the

Global ZIRPishness


from Sound Money Tips - Make Money, Save Money by Paul Kedrosky

paul kedroskyPaul Kedrosky submits:A quick-and-dirty chart of ZIRP-ishness -- the degree to which countries' nominal interest rates are approaching zero -- around the world. Note: That the whiter the country, the more ZIRP-ish it is, while the more orange you are the further that country's rate is from zero. Finally, gray means no rate data currently in the dataset.

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Is it better to turn my computer off when I am not using it or leave it on all the time?


2008 HowStuffWorks

In some cases, leaving your computer on is the better option.

This is one of those questions where there is no single right answer. In other words, it depends on how you use your computer.

There are at least three situations that force you to leave your computer on 24 hours a day:

You are on a network, and the network administrators back up files and/or upgrade software over the network at night. If that is the case, and you want your machine backed up or upgraded, then you need to leave it on all the time.
You are using your machine as some sort of server. For example, HowStuffWorks has a machine that creates the images for the How Webcams Work article. It needs to be on 24 hours a day. If your machine acts as a file server, print server, Web server, etc., on a LAN (local area network) or the Internet, then you need to leave it on all the time.
If you are running something like SETI@home and you want to produce as many result sets as possible, you need to leave your machine on all the time.
If you do not fall into any of these categories, then you have a choice about whether or not to leave your machine on.

One reason why you might want to turn it off is economic. A typical PC consumes something like 300 watts. Let's assume that you use your PC for four hours every day, so the other 20 hours it is on would be wasted energy. If electricity costs 10 cents per kilowatt-hour in your area, then that 20 hours represents 60 cents a day. Sixty cents a day adds up to $219 per year.

It's possible to use the energy-saving features build into modern machines and cut that figure in half. For example, you can have the monitor and hard disk power down automatically when not in use. You'll still be wasting $100 per year.

The argument for leaving your computer on all the time is that turning it on and off somehow stresses the computer's components. For example, when the CPU chip is running, it can get quite hot, and when you turn the machine off it cools back down. The expansion and contraction from the heat probably has some effect on the solder joints holding the chip in place, and on the micro-fine details on the chip itself. But here are three ways to look at that:

If it were a significant problem, then machines would be failing all the time. In fact, hardware is very reliable (software is a whole different story, and there is a lot to be said for rebooting every day).
I don't know a single person who leaves the TV on 24 hours a day. TVs contain many of the same components that computers do. TVs certainly have no problems being cycled on and off.
Most vendors will sell you a three-year full-replacement warrantee for about $150. If you are worried about it, spend some of the money you are saving by turning your machine off and buy a service contract. Over three years, you come out way ahead!

Market Outlook 18/12/2008

Fed Up or Fake Out?

Yesterday's surprise Fed move to lower the federal funds rate target to between zero and 25 basis points underscored the lengths the Open Market Committee, i.e., Ben Bernanke, is willing to take to stave off a major recession -- or perhaps the risk of a potential depression.
I suspect the big buying we witnessed in stocks immediately following yesterday's historic Fed announcement will likely taper off -- as it has somewhat today. Still, the market finally got some short-term good news in the midst of an otherwise dismal deluge of disappointing data.
I say short term, because remember it was former Fed Chairman Greenspan's reduction of interest rates to nearly zero that opened up the easy money spigots, and which eventually led to the housing market boom and bust (interestingly, Greenspan still denies his decisions were the chief reason for the housing market boom-to-bust cycle).
The question for the markets now is -- will the Fed's move keep the markets up, or will it just be another in a long line of fake outs we've grown accustomed to seeing throughout 2008?
The answer, of course, remains to be seen. We are sailing in uncharted water right now with respect to the economy and this market. And while I think we are going to see what I've been calling the Obama bounce as 2009 kicks off, this bounce is by no means guaranteed to be more than just another in a series of bear market rallies.
Whatever happens, the one sure bet you can make is that we'll be here to cover all of the action, and to make sense of it all as best we can.

Doug Fabian

Market Outlook - 17/12/2008

No novo mundo das finanças, países têm de repartir os riscos

Domingo, Outubro 28, 2007

Nelson Schwartz 

Segue-se uma crise de crédito. Logo o temor se espalha por Wall Street, onde os grandes bancos repelem rumores de insolvência em meio a um pânico econômico geral. Washington é forçado a interferir. O mercado desfalece.

Se isso soa familiar, deveria. Salvo que não estamos falando da crise dos empréstimos hipotecários subprime (de alto risco), ou dos acordos intermediados pelo Departamento do Tesouro na semana passada com três gigantes do setor bancário americano, para fornecer US$75 bilhões a um fundo com vistas a estabilizar o mercado de crédito global, ou a queda de 366 pontos da sexta-feira retrasada no mercado acionário.

De fato, essa é uma breve história do Pânico de 1907, que culminou exatamente há 100 anos, no dia 21 de outubro.

Na época, os prejuízos provocados pelo terremoto em San Francisco um ano antes afetaram fortemente as seguradoras britânicas e finalmente forçaram as autoridades do governo dos Estados Unidos, e o próprio JP Morgan a irem em socorro. Na noite de 21 de outubro de 1907, o legendário magnata convocou os mais importantes financistas à sua mansão em Manhattan, para ajudarem a financiar o pacote de ajuda.

"Aqui terminam os problemas", foi a famosa declaração de Morgan. Ele teve êxito. No início de 1908, o pânico tinha passado. Hoje é o JP Morgan, a empresa e não o homem, juntamente com Citigroup e Bank of America, que tentam solucionar os problemas, impulsionados pelo secretário do Tesouro, Henry Paulson, que, como ex-chefe da Goldman Sachs, é uma espécie de magnata contemporâneo.

O aperto de crédito deveria estar no topo da agenda dos países desenvolvidos. Desta vez, contudo, pode levar muito mais tempo para reparar os danos e restaurar a confiança, como aconteceu há um século. Não é só o fato de as somas hoje serem maiores: mesmo ajustando um século de inflação, os prejuízos provocados pelo terremoto de San Francisco totalizaram apenas US$ 18 bilhões em dólares atuais, de acordo com Marc Weidenmier, professor de economia no Claremont McKenna College, comparados com a provável perda de centenas de bilhões de dólares relacionadas aos empréstimos hipotecários subprime.

Ocorre também que a amplitude e a complexidade dos mercados globais de hoje criam riscos tão grandes que nenhum grupo de líderes empresariais - ou mesmo um único país - pode controlá-los.

Quanto aos valores dos títulos lastreados por hipotecas que estão no coração dessa desintegração dos créditos subprime, um especialista como Benjamin S. Bernanke, presidente do Federal Reserve (Fed, o banco central americano), admite que não sabe. "Gostaria de saber o quanto valem", disse Bernanke na sessão de perguntas e respostas depois de um discurso pronunciado em Nova York, duas semanas atrás.

É o caso de muitos proprietários de imóveis, que normalmente não se preocupam com as atividades internas do Fed. Ao contrário do pânico passado, ou mesmo do desastre financeiro de 1987, esse atual tumulto no setor creditício afetou consumidores comuns que querem apenas garantir uma hipoteca ou refinanciar um empréstimo. As taxas subiram até para tomadores de empréstimos melhor qualificados.

Esse fenômeno atinge ambos os lados. Não só aquelas pessoas que não têm um centavo em ações são afetadas pelas oscilações, mas, numa era em que a inadimplência no setor hipotecário nos Estados Unidos pode mexer com os mercados de Londres a Mumbai e Xangai, parece que decisões incorretas adotadas por um emprestador em Cleveland ou um tomador de empréstimo em Miami, podem ter implicações mundiais.

Numa viagem na semana retrasada à Nova Zelândia, para reunir-se com investidores, Byron R. Wien, chefe do setor de estratégias de investimento na Pequot Capital, e um veterano de 40 anos de Wall Street, observou que, "em todos os lugares que percorro, as pessoas me perguntam sobre o problema do subprime e sobre mudança climática; essas são as duas grandes questões".

As coisas não deviam funcionar dessa maneira. Os mercados globais interconectados deviam tornar o mundo econômico mais estável, segundo a teoria econômica tradicional, com o risco se difundindo mais amplamente e a solidez de uma região compensando as fragilidades em outra.

"Na prática, não estamos vendo isso acontecer", disse Richard Bookstaber, experiente administrador de fundos hedge e autor de um novo livro A Demon of Our Own Design: Markets, Hedge Funds and the Perils of Financial Innovation (numa tradução livre, Um demônio projetado por nós: mercados, fundos hedge e os perigos da inovação financeira).

Embora os elos financeiros internacionais não sejam nada novos, como mostra o Pânico de 1907, hoje o que é diferente é o fato de os mercados internacionais estarem muito correlacionados uns com os outros. "Todo mundo tende a investir nos mesmos ativos e empregar as mesmas estratégias", disse o analista, observando que, do mesmo modo que o Citigroup e o Merrill Lynch sofreram bilhões de perdas com os empréstimos subprime, também na França, Alemanha e Grã-Bretanha, bancos foram afetados.

De fato, o banco britânico Northern Rock foi atingido por uma corrida dos depositantes, em setembro, antes de o Banco da Inglaterra intervir eficazmente, e socorrer financeiramente a instituição.

A tendência se estende para as bolsas de valores na Ásia, onde as ações na Índia e China vêm experimentando uma alta parabólica. "Você tem dinheiro americano especulativo investido na Índia, da mesma maneira que tem dinheiro indiano especulativo investido na Índia", ele diz. "Como os mercados ficaram mais ligados, a diversificação não funciona também."

Como resultado, disse Bookstaber, os mercados financeiros globais hoje podem ser na verdade mais arriscados do que no passado. Isso porque os mesmos tipos de investidores estão fazendo apostas arriscadas e depois procuram, simultaneamente, a saída quando o problema aparece, mesmo estando em lados opostos do mundo.

"Se eles se orientam mais para o investimento especulativo, no momento em que você tem um problema, eles procuram se livrar dos seu títulos, por meio de ?dump?, vendendo a preço mais baixo, porque têm muita alavancagem", diz ele.

Historicamente, acrescentou, existem duas características que precipitaram a crise financeira: complexidade e alavancagem. E a atual desordem no segmento subprime, em que hipotecas de alto risco foram negociadas por Wall Street e depois vendidas a investidores que se endividaram muito para comprá-las e que podem não ter compreendido exatamente o que estavam comprando, enquadra-se bem nesse padrão.

Isso tem também implicações para os consumidores comuns, como também para os mestres do universo. Os proprietários de imóveis residenciais com problemas relacionados ao pagamento da sua hipoteca não podem mais renegociar sua dívida com o banco porque sua hipoteca está na posse de um investidor milhares de quilômetros distante.

Ao mesmo tempo, os estrangeiros parecem estar imitando o apetite americano pela assunção de risco e a especulação, mas não estão tendo consciência dos seus perigos.

"Ainda somos grandes dissipadores, mas há evidências de que isso começa a mudar", disse Weidenmier, citando a China como exemplo. Não só os gastos de consumo estão aumentando rapidamente, como os investidores locais têm apostado cada vez mais alto nas ações da Bolsa de Valores de Xangai, com uma valorização de 432% nos últimos dois anos.

Agora, como os problemas nos EUA afetaram, num efeito cascata, a Europa, teme-se que um estouro da bolha asiática possa ser sentido em Nova York. Uma liquidação de posições em Xangai provocou uma queda de 400 pontos no Índice Dow Jones em fevereiro.

Naturalmente, assumir riscos, mesmo especulativos, sempre foi a força propulsora por trás do crescimento econômico e o dinamismo do sistema capitalista. John Maynard Keynes chamou esses impulsos de "espírito animal" e especialistas como Wien discordam da noção de que a globalização tornou as coisas mais arriscadas.

Segundo ele, os novos-ricos em lugares como o Oriente Médio podem, na verdade, facilitar as coisas, por terem dinheiro para comprar quando todo os demais estão vendendo. Essa é uma razão pela qual sua próxima parada depois da Nova Zelândia foi Dubai.

Independente de quem está certo, Weidenmier diz que as crises financeiras acabam fortalecendo o sistema todo. Com efeito, o Pânico de 1907 levou à criação do Federal Reserve, que, desde então, estabelece a política monetária dos Estados Unidos. "Na realidade, às vezes as crises financeiras são positivas", disse ele "porque elas limpam o sistema".

Bye Bye Greenback


from Sound Money Tips - Make Money, Save Money by Michael Fitzsimmons

Michael Fitzsimmons submits:It appears the ruse is over. After an approximately 20% rally in the U.S $ INDEX [NYBOT:DX] from August 1st to mid November (which quite honestly simply baffled the author), the US dollar has dropped some 7% in the last 5 trading days alone. This is an unprecedented move in the US currency. I swear CNBC contributor Rick Santelli almost fell over while watching the currency market's response to the Fed move yesterday. That move, a decision to target rates between 0-0.25%, was in effect an admission of the Fed's desire to devalue the US dollar in an attempt to re-inflate the US economy back to life and thus fend off deflation. The US $ INDEX chart below shows the results of that decision.

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quarta-feira, 17 de dezembro de 2008

Four at Four: OPEC Gets Burned


from WSJ.com: MarketBeat by David Gaffen


  • This is a situation the market has not witnessed in some time: declines in oil, the dollar, bond yields and stocks. Collectively, they suggest a deflationary outlook, and there’s no better evidence of it than oil falling more than $3 a barrel in the wake of a larger-than-anticipated production cut from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. “They really shrugged off that OPEC production cut,” says Scott Magnuson, commodity trading advisor at MF Global. “The perception of another six to seven months of grinding slow agonizing conditions is going to take any demand out of crude at this point.” Crude dropped 8% to settle at $40.06 a barrel, its lowest price since July 2004, and other energy commodities continue to slump as well — heating oil is down 45% on the year, and RBOB gasoline is off 59% on the year. At the same time, the Treasury market continues to rally, as investors push into long-dated bonds in anticipation of declining prices. The equity market was mixed, hanging together after Tuesday’s 5% surge on the back of the Fed’s actions, but the clear intent by the central bank is to push investors to riskier assets. Whether the banks will respond through more lending (and really, that’s the only way they make any money) or returns in fixed income will prove strong as a result of the ridiculous yields offered in corporate debt remains to be seen, but it is the Fed’s only choice. Some have not cottoned to this, as Bennet Sedacca of Atlantic Advisors wrote earlier in the day that his firm “will look to continue to protect our investors’ capital as we have done to date.” Still, the Fed is going to keep its thumb on the scale, and fighting the Fed only works for so long. “As the effects of the government programs seep into the market, we might make some headway here,” says Paul Brigandi, vice president of trading at Direxion Funds.

  • macys_art_160_20081217161108.jpg

    Securing credit lines and making shoes fit. All in a day’s work. (Macys.com)

  • The fragile nature of the credit markets is such that any company that manages to re-negotiate credit facilities is cheered, even if such moves potentially create more trouble down the road. Macy’sInc. rallied 18% Wednesday and insurance costs against a possible default on the company’s debt fell sharply in response to the company’s announcement that it had worked out a new $2 billion credit agreement with its lenders. The agreement carries higher fees and pricing, but it solves liquidity issues, as analysts were concerned about an impending $950 million in debt that set to come due in 2009. “Although management maintained that its prior credit agreement was sufficient, the company wanted to take extra measures to reassure investors and position itself more conservatively given the environment,” write analysts at Thomas Weisel Partners. “We applaud their decision.” According to Phoenix Partners, it now costs $675,000 to insure $10 million in bonds against default for five years, down from $1 million on Wednesday. The move is not without risk. The retail environment is still ugly, particularly for department stores, and this will cost the company more money down the road in interest expense. But Thomas Weisel analysts estimate that the cost would not be more than nine cents a share per year more than the prior facility, if it is entirely drawn.

  • PDA

  • With analysts continuing to parse the actions taken by the Federal Reserve, one of the high-flying technology companies that led the 2006-2007 rally is largely being forgotten about as it gets set to report earnings Thursday. Research in Motion is due to detail its most recent quarterly results as it finishes out its first truly tough year as a publicly traded stock. Shares were down 65% before Wednesday’s trading, when the stock rose 2.3%, and options activity points to a bit of optimism just before expiration on Friday. It hasn’t been an easy year, with three consecutive quarters of earnings disappointments. “The macro is once in a lifetime awful and cell phone industry data points are discouraging,” write analysts at American Technology Research. “Risk appetite is low and there is a feeling of apathy among the investment community.” With that in mind, options players were staking out bets on a quick bounce in the shares before expiration. The stock closed at $41.20 a share, and more than 18,000 call options changed hands at the $40 strike price at about $2.52 each, implying another $1.30-move in the stock. The $45 out-of-the-money calls were also active, traded at 72 cents each, which suggests about an 11% move before expiration. “There are people willing to speculate that this is a stock that can move this market in a big way,” says William Lefkowitz, head of options strategy at vFinance Investments.

  • oliver_hb130_20081217162025.jpg
    People are eating more at home. (Columbia Pictures)

  • Folks gotta eat, as the saying goes. So even though the likes of Newell Rubbermaid may struggle, General Mills Inc. boosted its earnings outlook on strong sales. With people eating more at home, the company was able to forecast an increase in its fiscal-year earnings outlook. The company’s baking products sales rose by 16%, and its Pillsbury USA unit posted a 12% gain in sales. “Its portfolio of product offerings continues to outperform even in this turbulent environment,” write analysts at Stifel Nicolaus. One part of the company’s strategy that backfired was its hedging program, which resulted in a $269 million charge due to the sharp decline in commodity costs. Still, General Mills would likely prefer lower commodity costs, despite the volatile nature of those prices of late. Expectations are for further declines in commodity costs, notwithstanding the possibility of food companies dealing with some sort of extortion-level prices from egg thieves.

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