Friday, December 28, 2007

news, news, news

arranged from most important to most important:

new malaria vaccine shows promise. malaria is an 19th century disease, like smallpox or the whooping cough. if it had been common in the white portions of the world, it would've been brought under control a century ago. because it happens to impact the lives of poor people, it still kills about 1 million people every year and 70 million are infected with it today.

the mainstream media finally realizes that it isn't so much a "subprime housing loan crisis in america" as it is a "worldwide credit meltdown that could take at least one household-name bank down with it" (my titles, not theirs). the economist recognized this in 2003. the blogosphere has been discussing it since then. every solution discussed publicly so far doesn't seem to understand the gravity of the situation. financial engineers came up with weird new ways to circumnavigate regulations and push risk off of their account sheets. this led to underpriced risk, huge amounts of leverage, and an ever faster dollar. which is all great and fine and all until the underpriced risk turns into unrepaid debts and widespread bankruptcy of both individuals and institutions. if i had any money, i would consider putting some of it into gold and commodities right now (alcohol and cigarettes also do well during down times, but i'm not sure if that is where i want my money). if nothing else, as this story spreads the negative psychology will push gold and commodities up.

i have another new favorite blog: housing panic. it has a fun style and is written at a very approachable level. the best quality analysis is still calculated risk. it is quite US-centric, but at least mentions international factors every once in a while.

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