Thursday, April 23, 2009


There are a variety of economic indicators out there that people are using to help them determine when the global economy will crawl out the recession crater. One indicator I would look at is the Baltic Dry Index. This index provides an assessment of the price of moving major raw materials by sea. It takes into account 26 shipping routes that are measured on a time charter and voyage basis and the index covers certain dry bulk carriers carrying a range of commodities including coal, iron ore and grain. Every working day, the Baltic surveys the brokers around the globe and inquires about the cost to book various cargoes of raw materials on various routes.

This is an important economic indicator because the dry bulk consists of raw materials that are used in production of intermediate and finished goods, i.e. concrete, steel and food. It is a very good indicator to determine future economic growth and production. As you see this index increase, it could be a foreshadowing that the economy is starting to turn around. For example. in May 20, 2008, the index was 11,793 points, which was its record high level since its introduction. By the end December 5, 2008, the index dropped by 94% to 663 points. So keep an eye on this indicator rising.

Ironically, this increase in the index could also be an indicator of an increase in carbon dioxide emission levels. An increase in the index means more ships transporting goods, which release Co2 particles into the atmosphere, to factories to build products, which will require more electricity. This electricity in many places is fueled by coal, which releases an extensive amount Co2. In fact, burning coal is the largest contributor of Co2 emissions. Therefore, an economic down turn may not be good for our pocketbook, but it is good for the environment.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Risk Management

In the financial world, risk management is a major component that a financial institution uses in determining how it operates its business. Unfortunately, the recent financial meltdown has demonstrated that there were major failures in firms correctly determining and mitigating risk. The link below is to a video that provides an excellent risk analysis on whether we should take action or not to fight global warming, aka global climate destabilization. There is a debate on whether we should fight global warming with carbon caps, carbon taxes and other emission restrictions because such government intervention will slow down our economic growth. Alternatively, if we do nothing and those cataclysmic events forecasted by leading scientists do occur, we will have bigger problems than a stagnant economy. We will have:

1) Economic losses that could equate up to 20% of the world GDP;

2) mass migration of people;

3) destruction of thousands of species;

4) flooding of major cities such as New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo;

5) destabilization of governments;

6) increased conflict of countries fighting over water rights and other resources;

7) mass starvation;

8) droughts; and

9) the end of humanity.

Perhaps, not all of these events will occur; however, if at least a quarter of them occur, I would say that I would be willing to accept a slow down in econonic growth over the end of the world as we know it.

By acting now, we will be able to mitigate the above events and hopefully prevent them from occuring at all. In addition, such action will be an investment for a better future for our children and generations to follow. Of course, this will require us to change our habits. Consider it similar to any other bad habits that we have to change to avoid a negative result, such as eating fried food or smoking. Of course, there is a level of adjustment and some growing pains; however, in the end we do it because we know it is good for us and, ultimately, it becomes second nature. Like eating heathier and quiting smoking, we need to break those bad habits to have a future. This will be a painful process for all of us on an economic and personal level; however, we are resourceful people. We have survived two world wars, a depression, epidemics and reality TV shows. We will survive here too. Alternatively, if we do not do anything, we will not survive. Of course, I may be completely wrong here; however the empirical data and the first hand evidence that I see on a daily basis tells me otherwise. In the end, not acting an hoping that I am wrong here is not a risk I am willing to take.

You decide. To help you in your decision making, watch the video and then make your own table with two columns. On one column make a list of the events that would occur if we would take action to fight global climate destabilization and in the other column put down the worse case scenario of events that would occur if we did not act. Then you decide which side you want to be on. Here is the link to the video.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hey Kids! Get off my lawn!

Everyone during there childhood had the neighbor who despised kids treading on his perfectly manicured lawn. We would dare each other to run on the lawn to see if we would get caught. The last two years I have slowly transitioned off of the steroid induced lawn to a more organically fed lawn. What I have realized in this process is that the neighbor's perfectly manicured lawn that has that perfect shade of green throughout the entire summer is a lawn that I would tell my children to stay off. Not because the person will run out and yell at my kids tarnishing the family name. It is because that lawn has a variety of lawn chemicals that could harm my children's health. Of the 30 commonly used pesticides on lawns, 19 are linked with cancer and carcinogenicity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver and kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of endocrine (hormonal) system. See The concern is that these chemicals that we treat our lawns can seep into the groundwater and contaminate our streams and rivers. And in many instances, it is popping up in our drinking water. This does not mean that our population is going to be wiped off the planet by lawn fertilizer; however, it is changing the environment we live in by polluting our streams and rivers, which in turn is impacting the wild life of these waterways. Therefore, we should all stop and think when we pick up that bag of fertilizer in an effort to obtain the perfect lawn and consider whether our pursuit of the our own suburban oasis is destroying the real oasis, Earth.