Posts Tagged ‘Euro’

Letter From New York 07 06 15 On the train, riding north…

July 6, 2015

Another grey summer day… Outside the sky is filled with clouds, hiding the sun, casting a great pall on the day. It has become the norm not the exception. So I am taking it all in stride and not allowing the grey to take my good spirits away, as I am in good spirits. Having had a good weekend in Baltimore, I am now on the train, gliding north, slowing down for a stop in Philadelphia before heading out for the stretch into New York, including the now infamous curve where a Regional train derailed.

The world’s markets have had a muted response with far less turbulence than had been feared. The Euro slipped against major currencies. Yanis Varoufakis, the Minister for Finance in Greece, resigned. Statements that he made saying Greece would start to use an “alternate” currency seems to have pushed him out. He said other European Ministers did not want him at the table. He will “wear the creditor’s loathing with pride.”

Probably good he is gone, replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos, a Greek negotiator called in when Varoufakis got too strident.

The European Central Bank is not pumping further money into the Greek banking system, a reality that is putting more pressure on those banks, which will stay closed for the next few days. Greeks are stocking up on staples, as they haven’t a clue what the future will hold. Some Greeks think Europe is purposely is working to push Greece out of the Euro and back into the Drachma.

It is a Greek drama being played out.

The British press is still having a field day with Princess Charlotte’s Christening and it is also taking time, in a hundred different ceremonies, to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres. In an act of genocide, thousands of Muslim men and boys were gathered up and slaughtered in that town. Serbians hate it when the world calls it “genocide” but it probably was…

President Obama made a rare visit to the Pentagon today to be briefed on the progress we are making against IS. He states that we don’t have a “complete strategy” for training Iraqi troops. And that is true.

An Iraqi jet accidentally bombed a section of Baghdad, killing twelve. How does one “accidentally” bomb one’s own capital? Enquiring minds would like to know.

Hundreds of thousands gathered for the Pope’s Mass in Guayaquil, Ecuador where he extolled the virtues of the family. He has chosen to go to three of South America’s poorest countries with his message of hope and spirituality.

In South Carolina they are debating whether to remove the Confederate Flag from the grounds of the state Capital. Lindsey Graham, Senator from that State, is, like many Republicans, attempting to distance himself from The Donald and his anti-Mexican statements.

I am almost feeling sorry for the GOP. But not quite.

Not feeling sorry for but definitely impressed by Warren Buffet, “The Oracle of Omaha” who just deposited $2.8 billion in five different foundations’ accounts. Worth $70 billion, he is determined to give much of it away.

Prince Alwaleed, the 34th richest person in the world, has just announced his is giving away his entire thirty some billion dollar fortune.

The Grateful Dead have played their last concert, closing with an exhortation to the crowds to “be kind.” I doubt there will ever be a band like them again. Never a great fan, I did honor their iconic place in American music. Go in peace; enjoy the next part of your lives.

The next part of my life is an evening in New York. The train is sliding through New Jersey and shortly we will be in New York. I am going to drop some things at the office and then I will head north to the apartment, drop some things and find myself some dinner, probably at Thai Market, my favorite Thai restaurant in the city.

Good evening, everyone!

Letter From New York 06 29 15 “You’re fired!” and other things from the day…

June 29, 2015

We are reaching the end of June and I find that a bit mind-boggling but here it is. On this, the penultimate day of June, the sun has come flirting with us at the end of a day of mostly grey with a refreshing warm/cool feel to the air. Coming in to the city today from Claverack, I rode past the Hudson River, churning brown with all the recent storms, just as the creek was as I left the house this morning for the train station. One of the conductors said the Hudson reminded him of the Danube, and I agreed.

It has been a wild day for the international money markets, all seriously rattled as the Greek crisis is playing out in real time. Prime Minister Tsipras of Greece has called for a national referendum on the deal for Sunday. The banks and markets there are all closed. If you are a Greek citizen you are allowed to only withdraw 60 Euros a day. Foreigners are exempt. The German market was down over three percent as was the French CAC 40. London and New York managed to hold to a 2% loss. It will be interesting, exciting and maybe a little frightening to watch what happens the rest of this week.

Tomorrow could be the day when Greece goes into default. Europe is warning Greek citizens a “no” vote on Sunday means an exit from the Euro. We will all be holding our breath, hoping the Greek conflagration doesn’t disrupt the world economy. Greece’s is a small economy, smaller than many of our individual states but the significance of current events is also around what this means for the Euro overall.

Puerto Rico also says it can’t pay its debts. Wonder what is going to come of that?

Sunday was Pride Weekend in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco with wild celebrations in the cities over the Supreme Court ruling to legalize gay marriage. Not everyone was celebrating. Texas is resisting, to no one’s great surprise, offering to defend clerks who refuse to issue licenses. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is going to make the issue front and center in his campaign for the Republican nomination for President.

Upstate New York is breathing a sign of relief as the second of two escaped murderers was apprehended. David Sweat was captured around 3:20 yesterday afternoon, shot twice when he refused to thrown down his weapon and as he almost reached a line of trees that could have offered shelter. He is in Albany Medical Center in critical condition. His fellow escapee, Richard Matt, was killed five days ago.

Tunisia has arrested some suspected of having offered support and weapons to Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi, a 23 year old IS recruit, who gunned down 39 people, 30 of them British. IS has claimed responsibility; Britain is in shock.

While IS has lost a quarter of its territory in its “Caliphate,” it still controls some major cities and has demonstrated its abilities to strike by such actions as the recent taking of Palmyra. And it is exporting its religious terrorism to other places.

Boko Haram in Nigeria, which declares fealty to IS, has been using captured girls as fighters. Some of them have been trained to slit the throats of Boko Haram captives. As some are rescued as Nigeria and its allies experience some military successes, the plight of those who remain in captivity is being revealed.

Egypt’s highest prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, was killed in a bomb attack on his convoy.

“You’re fired,” has become an iconic line in the U.S. due to the popularity of “The Apprentice,” starring Donald Trump, a recent addition to the race for the Republican nomination. He made some choice remarks about Mexicans at the time and today NBC has told him, “You’re fired!” They have dumped his beauty pageants, as has Univision [no surprise] and underscored he will not be part of “The Apprentice” anymore.

And I’m fine with that.

The evening is arriving and I’m going off to have a bite to eat and then continue my consumption of a Louise Penny mystery, “A Fatal Grace.”

Letter From New York 03 10 15 Some feeling pressure…

March 10, 2015

It is late morning and I am settled in at the Acela Club at Penn Station, having done some emails and doing some work before I go to my afternoon appointment. I’m catching up with my old friend, Peter Kaufman, who was one of my first clients. The day is pretty grey but it’s going to warm up to fifty degrees here in the city and that’s pretty marvelous! Rain may come this afternoon.

The ride into the city on Amtrak was a feast for the eyes. Near Hudson, the river was an almost solid sheet of ice. A Coast Guard icebreaker had cut a narrow line through the ice and a barge was majestically threading its way down the river. Further south, the ice became loose with small floes bobbing on the water.

As the train’s Internet service was going in and out, I often found myself staring out the window at the magnificence rolling by. Lately, bald eagles have been flying along the river, across from the train. A lone coyote has been seen making his way across the open ice. West Point sails by in all its sturdiness.

It will be a long time and perhaps never before the ice thaws between the current President and the current Congress. There is brutal chill right now due to the open letter sent to the Leaders of Iran by 47 Republican Senators suggesting any agreement with Iran wouldn’t outlast Obama. It resulted in a blistering response from Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, pointing out to the Senators that what is being negotiated is not a unilateral agreement with the US but with the US and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

Zarif has a point.

Four officers rescued an 18-month-old baby who had survived for fourteen hours upside down in her car seat while in a vehicle in a river. Her mother had passed away. After the ordeal, she is gradually improving. All four officers claim they heard someone calling for help within the car. They are not sure where the voice was coming from.

In another accident, 55 were injured when an Amtrak train struck a semi stalled at a crossing. The accident was in North Carolina. The train was New York bound.

In Argentina, three French sports stars and five members of a French television crew, along with the pilots of two helicopters, died when the two copters apparently collided. They were on the way to shoot an episode of a French reality show called “Dropping.” France is in mourning.

Ukraine has been quiet the last few days though today the Ukrainian military authorities are claiming that the rebels are using the truce to amass major weaponry.

Reaching critical mass is the cry for Hillary Clinton to say something about the email fiasco. She is expected to do so today. The right is digging its teeth into this, hoping, I expect, for another Benghazi moment. Some on the left are rising in support but most are just asking her to explain herself. Quickly, before it gets worse.

Wikipedia and the ACLU are suing the NSA over privacy concerns. Among the thousands of documents Edward Snowden leaked was one that showed the NSA was particularly targeting Wikipedia, among others, including CNN.com. Wikipedia joins a long list of corporations and foundations suing the NSA over their snooping. It will probably keep growing unless some come to court and receive rulings.

What is definitely growing is pressure on “Bibi” Netanyahu at home, facing elections. They promise to be extremely close. Some recent polls have shown him falling behind and he is claiming a worldwide effort to get him out of office. Commentators in Israel see him showing the stress.

Also facing pressure from a crumbling economy is President Maduro of Venezuela, who is facing the challenge by asking Parliament for extraordinary powers to face down “imperialism.”

Not looking very imperial today is the Euro, which has hit a twelve year low against the American dollar. It costs $1.08 to buy one Euro, a bargain for travelers but a challenge for businessmen attempting to sell their goods on the continent. The market is responding by diving lower.

And now it is time to close up for the day and head off to meet my friend Peter up by Columbia University. He suggested hot cocoa but it may actually be a day for iced tea.

Letter From New York May 25, 2010

May 25, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

The webisphere and blogosphere were, literally, a twitter about Google’s announcement of Google TV [ http://www.google.com/tv ] – a new device that using Android’s OS will allow us to better merge television with the internet, all in one device, the Holy Grail that folks have been looking for since the tantalizing possibility began to emerge lo those many years ago – donkey years in internet time as a British friend of mine might say, meaning not so many years but a long time in the fast changing world of technology.

Google is partnering with Sony and Intel. Sony wants to find a way to leapfrog its competition, which it has been having a hard time staying ahead of and Intel wants to get its chips into the television set. Google gets onto the television screen in the living room with an opportunity to earn money from advertising on that screen. From what I’ve been reading, the device promises a seamless experience between traditional television and web viewing. One reviewer credited Google with working on integrating traditional television as opposed to going around it. Everyone will be watching closely because Google has done so many things right – though it has been no means infallible. YouTube is headed for the bigger screen of television sets, getting ready to play in prime time.

Facebook, another ubiquitous internet player, has found itself taken to task once again for its privacy policy, as it seems to be sharing just about everything you do on Facebook with the companies marketing through the website, sharing profiles and extensive information about you with their partner websites. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, seems to have declared the age of privacy dead. The company’s privacy policy has been called confusing in the extreme while continuously changing. Long in some degree of hot water for the amount of information it gives away, there seems to be something of a backlash right now with May 31 named as the day to disconnect from Facebook. Will we? Probably not. An astounding number of us are members of the Facebook nation, myself included, and it does provide a service and we seem to adore sharing “stuff” with everyone else and everyone seems to relish knowing this “stuff” about us. However, the company does seem to be saying it will make it easier for users to adjust their privacy settings. At the end of the day, people will probably not disconnect themselves from Facebook – we do seem to be living in a day of changing perceptions of privacy. In fact, we seem to relish exposing ourselves on the net through Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites. We can’t seem to get enough of this sharing thing.

However, Mark Zuckerberg did say in the Washington Post that Facebook may have moved too fast and will simplify the way users can control the amount of information shared. Not exactly an apology…

While the technological webisphere and blogosphere have been all aflutter about Google TV and Facebook’s alleged foibles, others are attempting to read the tea leaves of Arlen Specter’s defeat in Pennsylvania. His switch to the Democratic Party didn’t work out quite the way he had expected. Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul and closely associated with the Tea Party movement, has won the Republican nomination for the Senate in Kentucky. All in all, last week’s election was a bad one for incumbents and bodes well, many say, for Republicans in the fall. Or may be not, say others, as it might appear that the Republican Party is being taken over by the Tea Partiers and it remains to be seen if they can win in general elections. All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a wild election season.

All in all, it’s a wild time out there. World financial markets are in turmoil, the political scene is unpredictable, we’re moving into uncharted territory with the clean up in the Gulf of Mexico. North Korea is saber rattling. The Euro is under pressure. Iraq and Afghanistan grind on. It’s a scary world out there but summer has arrived; there is warmth in the air, green in the trees and hope springs eternal…