Biofuels are a crime against humanity

by twit

We should have known something was wrong the instant biofuels became so enthusiastically supported by the Bush Administration, but it still is something of a surprise that the World Bank has for months sat on a report that details the crimes against humanity caused by the biofuels industry.

Fortunately, there is someone with a conscience working at the World Bank who helpfully leaked the “damning” report to the media. Via the Guardian on July 4, 2008:

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% – far more than previously estimated – according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.

The figure emphatically contradicts the US government’s claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises.

The World Bank report also includes an analysis of what this means for the world:

Rising food prices have pushed 100m people worldwide below the poverty line, estimates the World Bank, and have sparked riots from Bangladesh to Egypt. Government ministers here have described higher food and fuel prices as “the first real economic crisis of globalisation”.

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“an evolutionary sense for both money and women”

by twit

how could there be an evolutionary sense for money?

on one hand, rapid evolution does happen, but the idea that currency (and capitalism) is some kind of biological part of the human condition just doesn’t sound possible.

at least, not yet

The Associated Press reports on April 5, 2008 about “a new but growing field called neuroeconomics that attempts to take the hard-wired science of brain biology and mix it with the softer sciences of psychology and economics to figure out why we make the financial decisions we do.”

the implications are full of hilarity:
https://i1.wp.com/wonkette.com/assets/resources/2008/04/fonda_hanoi.jpg The link between sex and greed goes back hundreds of thousands of years, to men’s evolutionary role as provider or resource gatherer to attract women, said Kevin McCabe, professor of economics, law and neuroscience at George Mason University, who wasn’t part of the study.

“Risk-taking is a natural way of increasing your relative success, but, of course, there’s a downside to it, what we’re seeing right now in the economy,” McCabe said.

The results of the study jibe with the real life on the trading floor, said Phil Flynn, a former Chicago commodities floor trader and current analyst at Alaron Trading Corp.

“I’m not shocked that it may be part of the deal,” Flynn said Friday. “When you talk about all the euphemisms for trading (on the floor), they can be used for sex as well.”

(“Massaging the market” and “hardcore” were about the cleanest that he and his colleagues could come up with.)

… This all makes sense to Harvard economist Terry Burnham, author of the book “Mean Genes.” Burnham said it could be all summed up in a famous line from the movie “Scarface.”

“In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.”

(image via mammaquatia)

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mission accomplished?

by lestro

So the President today said we are not headed into a recession:

“I’m concerned about the economy,” he said. “I don’t think we’re headed to recession. But no question, we’re in a slowdown.”

Wondering whether this means we are already IN a recession, I did what any intrepid internet user might do and headed on over to Wikipedia:

In macroeconomics, a recession is a slowdown in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), or negative real economic growth, for two or more successive quarters of a year.

An alternative, less accepted definition of recession is a downward trend in the rate of actual GDP growth as promoted by the business-cycle dating committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research.[1] That private organization defines a recession more ambiguously as “a significant slowdown in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months.”

A recession may involve simultaneous declines in coincident measures of overall economic activity such as employment, investment, and corporate profits. Recessions may be associated with falling prices (deflation), or, alternatively, sharply rising prices (inflation) in a process known as stagflation.

Hmm. I am not an economist, but unlike the President, I do read the papers and I must say, they have been talking about this for a while.

I realize the President is a busy man and has many miles to jog and brush to clear and all, but you think someone would have mentioned this to him, if not an economic adviser, one of his oilman buddies bragging about his new boat or private island or something…

On one issue particularly worrisome to American consumers, there are indications that paying $4 for a gallon of gasoline is not out of the question once the summer driving season arrives. Asked about that, Bush said “That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that. … I know it’s high now.”

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random information

by twit

state.gdp

a map renaming states after countries with similar GDPs

thx Wonkette