Monday, March 28, 2011

This Is Too Cute For Words

by Hubert

This video is so cute, I want to hug this cat.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Two Pictures, One Cat

by Hubert

Here is a picture that will make your eyes spin. Not in a gross way.

And I would wear this places if I could, but alas I cannot.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Inflation is here...and there!

by Colleen

"Inflation is coming, people."

You may have read a few articles to that effect lately. In fact, I've noticed an increasing rate of inflation-related articles in the past few months, which, of course, is a strong indicator that the rate of inflation itself is increasing, because that's how inflation rolls.

OK, it's trendy in the B-world these days to toss around "inflation" and "commodity speculation" like last year's recession conscious (cheap) suits - agreed. But if you've been following global weather patterns over the past few years, and also noticed that the United States has made no grounds in improving/changing their sugar import process which is currently summarized as: ix-nay uba-cay and yay! tariffs, then you're already aware that we have experienced substantial supply shocks in various markets around the world, where "shock" means an unexpected decrease in supply. And, holding demand in these markets constant, or allowing for even a slight increase in D, this means a rise in prices is inevitable.

What markets?, say you.

It's mostly the commodities, [which make up the base, if you think of our economy as a triangle with finished goods and services on top] although it's starting to spread to the intermediate goods, but I'll get to that later.

Let's go through a few of them:

Wheat: Droughts in Russia/Ukraine decimated their wheat supply last year and the weather outlook isn't much better this year. Medvedev & co. have banned all wheat exports indefinitely, as of last August. The US is now the number one grain exporter in the world with Australia not far behind...but wheat markets took a hit. Prices: up.

[Funny side story: Once Russia went all motherland on the world, everyone was like " we still need wheat" and the US said, "OK we can step up our exports" and Oz said "Right, we can too, cheers", and France said, "So can we, tres bien!" But there are different wheat varieties. For example, Hard White, is used for breads and brewing beer, while the Hard Reds are the main source of all our crusty bread, sliced bread and baguettes. Then there's Soft Red Winter, a "low-protien wheat used for cakes, pie crusts, pastry flour and muffins". Guuuuuueeeesss which kind the French export. Thatsrite! The French offered up the best Soft Red Winter Wheat they had to offer, and the world was like, "uh, sorry France, but what the hell are we gonna do with croissants?". BURN!]

Steel: Interruptions in the markets for the materials used to make steel are the problem here. Iron ore and coal prices are increasing. Slightly related is China's decision to stop exporting rare earth metals which are used in alloying and strengthening steel - not good for input costs all around, although I know a little mine in CA that's pretty happy right now. Prices: up.

Coffee: Floods and landslides shook up Brazil and other parts of South America in 2010, so coffee is probably low on their list of priorities now, especially as they deal with infrastructure repairs while facing high inflation themselves, but a priority or not, an inevitable consequences is the tightening up of the coffee export market. Prices: up, up, up.

Sugar: Again, bad weather in tropical climates is to blame. But companies in the US have been passing price increases in this commodity on to customers for the past couple of years now, and it's not likely they'll decrease any time soon. It's difficult because sugar prices are kept high on principle - the embargo on trade with Cuba, and supporting our neighboring economies by promoting NAFTA and CAFTA - but it's probably for the best, considering the uproar over weight gain and preventative care these days. Prices: indubitably up.


OK beeps, I'm tired. Tomorrow - more commodities, my speculation on how far into the US economy inflation is working itself, and what you can do to inflation-proof your household (incur massive amounts of debt! I am only partially kidding. Nothing is inflation-proof).