Posts Tagged ‘Business’

Corporate Profits Were the Highest on Record Last Quarter

November 25, 2010 1 comment


The New York Times

The nation’s workers may be struggling, but American companies just had their best quarter ever.

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.

Read full article



Environmental impact of Cu and Zn in feeds

November 9, 2010 3 comments

Foodstuff containing zinc

Foodstuff Containing Zinc


04 Nov 2010

A pre-assessment report was presented to EFSA on the environmental impact of Cu and Zn arising from use as additives in feed for livestock and aquaculture animals.
Copper and zinc are routinely used as additives in feed for livestock and aquaculture farming and thus it is inevitable that these metals will be released to the environment.
Under Regulation (EC) 1831/3003 (EC, 2003), in order to protect human health, animal health and the environment, feed additives should undergo a safety assessment through a Community procedure before being placed on the market, used or processed within the Community.
Acceptable risk in aquaculture
The environmental risks of Cu and Zn arising from aquaculture were assessed using simple exposure models recommended by EFSA.
Concentrations of Cu and Zn in marine sediments, arising from the use of feed additives in sea cage aquaculture, were 21.3 mg/kg and 182 mg/kg respectively.
Concentrations, estimated for different fish types farmed in raceways/ponds/tanks and recirculation systems, ranged from 12.1 – 12.5 µg/l for Zn and 1.13 – 2.96 µg/l for Cu.
For all fish species in the cage, raceway/pond/tank and recirculating systems, predicted concentrations were below predicted no effect concentrations (PNEC), indicating that the use of both metals in feed additives for fish poses an acceptable risk to the environment where these types of facility exist.
It is important to recognise that exposure concentrations used for this assessment are likely to be highly conservative.
Livestock levels more complex
A more complex modelling approach was used for assessing the risks of inputs of Cu and Zn from livestock treatments.
The assessment utilised the Intermediate Dynamic Model for Metals (IDMM) and soil/agriculture and water chemistry scenarios that were selected to represent the agri-environment conditions that are likely to be experienced across European Member States.
For copper, a risk of exceeding the soil PNEC was only found for the long term exposure simulations (50 years) for manure derived from piglet rearing, in seven scenarios. In only two of these scenarios is swine rearing locally significant.
Risks of exceeding the soil zinc PNEC were predicted at fewer sites than for copper, but the number of manure types whose continuous application presents a risk of exceedence was larger.
Risks of exceeding the freshwater PNECs were fewer than those for soil, particularly for copper where only one potential exceedence was identified.
In contrast, leaching of zinc in drainage and runoff was more pronounced in response to increasing manure application.
In the extreme case of an acidic sandy soil, the surface water PNEC was predicted to be exceeded after 10 years by the continuous application of any manure type.
Apart from this scenario, zinc concentrations in surface waters tended to be more sensitive to application rate in the runoff scenarios rather than the drainage scenarios, although this does not necessarily lead to potential risks within the considered timeframe.
Acceptable environmental risks
Overall, the livestock evaluations indicated that environmental risks are acceptable at the current time but in the future risks could occur in some systems.
The systems most vulnerable to metal input in manure were clearly acid sandy soils, represented in the scenarios.
The distribution of these scenarios within Europe is largely in Flanders, the Netherlands, northwestern Germany and Denmark.
There is a clear need to better establish whether such soils are as sensitive to metal inputs as is predicted here, for example by field surveys of copper and zinc concentrations in drainflow from fields with known histories of metal input rates.
Since problems of high metal concentrations in drainflow and runoff, once established, would be difficult to remediate, it is important to proactively assess soil sensitivity before setting policy on manure application.
The project developed on the grant with reference number NP/EFSA/FEEDAP/2008/01. More detailed data can be found the full Report and Annex 1 and Annex 2


Preparing Your Sea Craft for Winter

November 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Fishing Boat

Fishing Boat

Organizing Routine Maintenance:

The high priority tasks to organize are seaworthiness and safety. The first jobs are almost always the same and must be done as soon as possible after the boat is hauled out.

First check the bottom. This is easier when the hull is still wet. Scrub with an old broom dipped in sand and gravel, then hose off the loosened debris. A high-pressure water hose is ideal for this, but be careful to not wash away paint and wood fibres.

Then clean the topsides and apply a coat of boat polishing wax for protection during the winter. All boats, particularly those with varnished or painted topsides need to be covered and the awning should be properly secured so as not to work loose.

For boats riding at the moorings, place a marker at the hull. This will give you a reference point to determine the amount of bilge water.

Check the exterior for lifted varnish and exposed wood. Bare wood should be varnished with a thick varnish. Brush on or apply with a rag, working well into the grain.
Arrange an awning, with the help of a friend to watch the props for the first few minutes and to warn you if they move.

Many boat owners consider that a dry winter berth is unnecessary and haul out on alternate year, especially those who own fibreglass boats.  A mud berth can provide a satisfactory winter berth for round and flat-bottomed boats but should be tidal, allowing the boat to float on an average high tide.

If the boat winters afloat, remember that corrosion and fouling will continue through the winter and early beaching and cleaning at the beginning of the new season may be necessary.

Before leaving the boat for winter, remove all items that might be stolen, including the propeller. Everything removable should be taken to ashore to allow maximum circulation of air.
Remove cushions, mattresses, curtains, carpets and any other movable and valuable pieces. Remove floorboards, drawers, etc. and pump the bilges dry. Stop holes in the hull after cleaning out any accumulated marine growths.
Shut all sea cocks and disconnect and drain water hoses, including the toilet, engine water jacket, heat exchanger, etc. Plug sea-cocks or refit hoses for safety and wash all deck fittings, rigging screws, etc. with fresh, warm water and coat with petroleum jelly.

Disconnect the batteries and take ashore. Smear the battery leads with petroleum jelly. Empty water tanks, top up diesel fuel tanks. Remove the gas cylinder and brush paraffin over the jets and burner of the stove to protect the vulnerable brass and steel parts.

Don’t lock stale air in the boat
Everything removable should be taken to ashore to allow maximum circulation of air.  Open cabin and locker doors and wedge to allow air to circulate and prevent them from swinging. It is particularly important to arrange for air circulation at the ends of the boat. Lock the fore-hatch slightly open.

Winterizing the Engine
When the temperature falls below freezing, if there is water inside your engine or gear case, the result can be a cracked block or housing and a repair bill that runs into the thousands.
Before hauling out: Drain oil sump, refill with recommended lubricating oil, which contains a rust-inhibiting additive if you are laying up a motor for very long periods. This will prevent condensation from forming inside the tank. Add antifreeze to the sealed water cooling system and run the motor to ensure that the antifreeze is thoroughly mixed. If the motor has been overheating, the cooling system should be drained and cleaned.

To protect cylinder head and valves, mix a small amount of petrol with oil [3-1] , feed into the fuel line to coat the carburetor and cylinder head. Pour a little oil into the air intake with the engine running. Clean or replace filter and strainers. Remove rocker cover, oil rockers and springs, and replace. Clean engine by wire-brushing rusty parts and then with a rag dipped into methylated spirits. Remove carburetor, plug inlet with an oily rag, remove spark plugs and pour about one teaspoon of oil into each cylinder. Replace plugs finger tight and rotate the flywheel several times to distribute oil.

Draining he cooling system:
Open seacocks and check valves, then drain. Release upper-most flexible hose and blow down it until air can be hear gurgling out of the water inlet and outlet. Shut seacocks to exclude the seawater. Open all other pet cocks and drain plugs completely. Close and flush with fresh water hose inserted into the water inlet.
Open all drain plugs to make sure they are clear. Poke with a stiff wire if necessary. If blocked, disconnect hoses and plug the exhaust , keeping the seacocks closed if the boat is to winter afloat.
If it is possible that water is trapped in the raw water cooling system, fill with a mix of water and anti-freeze poured into a top hose. Bleed drain plus and pet cocks and top up if necessary. Paint rusted engine parts.

Stabilize the fuel:
Some boaters prefer to store the tanks full to minimize the potential for condensation. A cupful of water in the tank in the spring is a lot smaller problem than 50 gallons of bad gasoline, but if you want to leave the tank full, pour in an appropriate amount of gasoline stabilizer to combat the formation of passage-clogging gums.

Store engine upright because laying the engine down risks water draining where it shouldn’t. An engine stand is easy enough to cobble together.

Source: The Boat Repair Manual by George Buchanan
Consultant Editors: Allan Boyd, Harry Spencer, and George Chandler.

By Margot B

Fuel blockage in France hampers feed supply 26 Oct 2010

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment

various types of legume (left) and grass (righ...

various types of legume (left) and grass (right) fodder

Farmers Union FNSEA demanded that the French government takes action against the blockage of the supply fuel in the interest of the agricultural sector. Besides seasonal crop farming activities, the collection of milk and delivery of the feed is becoming difficult.
Fuel blockage in France hampers feed supply
The blockage of fuel stations, distribution centres and refineries as a protest to the Government decision to increase the pension age with two years (from 65 to 67) have been going on for two weeks now and are paralyzing France.
As a result in Brittany, the heart of French agriculture, manufacturers of animal feed are ringing the alarm bells. They fear for the supply of livestock feed.
As a result of the blockage of the majority of French refineries the French Farmers Union FNSEA fears for the feed supply to the farms. “The lack of diesel is a hindrance to the general supply to farms, and key challenges for planting and other fieldwork, but especially for the animal feed supply,” it said.
Also the collection of animals for export or slaughter and collection of milk is becoming critical.
FNSEA urges the French government to take proper action to secure that regular farm work can continue.
Ships waiting at sea
It is not only that it is becoming difficult to supply farms with feed, also ships loaded with raw materials lay in waiting to enter the French ports.
“The Ports of Montoire of Brittany, Nantes, Saint Nazaire, Lorient and Brest are blocked for several weeks. Vessels are waiting for a long time in the port and unload only sparsely,” said Lawrence Morin, director of the Afab (Association of Feed Manufacturers).
“We import a lot of soybean meal and grain, including feed wheat in northern Europe, which is less expensive than French bread wheat that is exported from Rouen. If no significant improvement in the situation is created by someone, animals will starve. Today, we can still organize ourselves to deliver the farmers, but we will run into great difficulties soon,” Morin states.
Plant closures
The lack of fuel also threatens food and feed processing plants with closure, especially in western France, the National Association of Food Industries (Ania) said in a statement, requesting that the sector enjoys priority in access to fuel.
“The area of western France, a major food-processing region in the country (over 130,000 jobs), is the most impacted by the supply problems,” Ania said.
It said that if “the fuel shortage persist in the next 48 hours and if blocking of ports continues, many plants may no longer be supplied with raw materials or meet their obligations to collect milk, among others.”
According to Ania these factories “will therefore have no choice but to close their doors or some production lines.” The organisations fears for lay-offs.


Warren Buffett: Buying Berkshire Hathaway Was $200 Billion Blunder

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Posted By: Alex Crippen | Executive Producer
| 18 Oct 2010 | 09:18 AM ET

Warren Buffett says Berkshire Hathaway is the “dumbest” stock he ever bought.

He calls his 1964 decision to buy the textile company a $200 billion dollar blunder, sparked by a spiteful urge to retaliate against the CEO who tried to “chisel” Buffett out of an eighth of a point on a tender deal.

Buffett tells the story in response to a question from CNBC‘s Becky Quick for a Squawk Box series on the biggest self-admitted mistakes by some of the world’s most successful investors.

Buffett tells Becky that his holding company (presumably with a different name) would be “worth twice as much as it is now” — another $200 billion — if he had bought a good insurance company instead of dumping so much money into the dying textile business.

Here’s his story:

BUFFETT:  The— the dumbest stock I ever bought— was— drum roll here— Berkshire Hathaway.  And— that may require a bit of explanation.  It was early in— 1962, and I was running a small partnership, about seven million.  They call it a hedge fund now.

And here was this cheap stock, cheap by working capital standards or so.  But it was a stock in a— in a textile company that had been going downhill for years.  So it was a huge company originally, and they kept closing one mill after another.  And every time they would close a mill, they would— take the proceeds and they would buy in their stock.  And I figured they were gonna close, they only had a few mills left, but that they would close another one.  I’d buy the stock.  I’d tender it to them and make a small profit.

So I started buying the stock.  And in 1964, we had quite a bit of stock.  And I went back and visited the management,  Mr. (Seabury) Stanton.  And he looked at me and he said, ‘Mr. Buffett.  We’ve just sold some mills.  We got some excess money.  We’re gonna have a tender offer.  And at what price will you tender your stock?’

And I said, ‘11.50.’  And he said, ‘Do you promise me that you’ll tender it 11.50?’  And I said, ‘Mr. Stanton, you have my word that if you do it here in the near future, that I will sell my stock to— at 11.50.’  I went back to Omaha.  And a few weeks later, I opened the mail—

BECKY:  Oh, you have this?

BUFFETT:   And here it is:  a tender offer from Berkshire Hathaway— that’s from 1964.  And if you look carefully, you’ll see the price is—

BECKY:  11 and—

BUFFETT:   —11 and three-eighths.  He chiseled me for an eighth.  And if that letter had come through with 11 and a half, I would have tendered my stock.  But this made me mad.  So I went out and started buying the stock, and I bought control of the company, and fired Mr. Stanton.  (LAUGHTER)

Now, that sounds like a great little morality table— tale at this point.  But the truth is I had now committed a major amount of money to a terrible business.  And Berkshire Hathaway became the base for everything pretty much that I’ve done since.  So in 1967, when a good insurance company came along, I bought it for Berkshire Hathaway.  I really should— should have bought it for a new entity.

Because Berkshire Hathaway was carrying this anchor, all these textile assets.  So initially, it was all textile assets that weren’t any good.  And then, gradually, we built more things on to it.  But always, we were carrying this anchor.  And for 20 years, I fought the textile business before I gave up.  As instead of putting that money into the textile business originally, we just started out with the insurance company, Berkshire would be worth twice as much as it is now.  So—

BECKY:  Twice as much?

BUFFETT:  Yeah.  This is $200 billion.  You can— you can figure that— comes about.  Because the genius here thought he could run a textile business. (LAUGHTER)

BECKY:  Why $200 billion?

BUFFETT:  Well, because if you look at taking that same money that I put into the textile business and just putting it into the insurance business, and starting from there, we would have had a company that— because all of this money was a drag.  I mean, we had to— a net worth of $20 million.  And Berkshire Hathaway was earning nothing, year after year after year after year.  And— so there you have it, the story of— a $200 billion— incidentally, if you come back in ten years, I may have one that’s even worse.  (LAUGHTER)

Current Berkshire stock prices:

Class B: [BRK.B  83.2  -0.17  (-0.2%)   ]Class A: [BRK.A  124762.0  -38.00  (-0.03%)   ]

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John Williams Warns Of “Severe And Violent Sell-Off In Stocks”

October 17, 2010 Leave a comment

John Williams utters his most ruthless words of condemnation not only toward the Fed, but to everyone who is stupid enough to be chasing returns in the face of what is a hyperinflationary collapse.

Euphoric Inflation Insanity. Buying U.S. stocks because the Fed says it will proactively debase the U.S. dollar is like sitting on the beach in order to get a great view of an incoming tsunami. Any pleasure so derived should be short-lived, when the terror of underlying reality quickly takes hold.

If one were to view movement in the price of gold as a surrogate for anticipated inflation, for example, the issues begin to come into focus. Consider that last night’s (October 14th) respective S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and NASDAQ Composite closing levels were up by 7.5%, 10.8%, 12.1% from a year ago, but the price of gold was up by 29.6% in the same period. Relative to gold, which tends to hold its purchasing power over time — albeit sometimes in an anticipatory manner — the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and NASDAQ Composite have declined respectively by 22.1%, 18.8% and 17.5% year-to-year. This is against the prospective inflation environment being discounted by the gold market.

While stock prices do tend to rise in an inflationary environment — where revenues and profits are inflated — rising stock prices do not always stay ahead of inflation. On a constant-dollar or real, inflation-adjusted basis, stocks go through bull and bear markets, just as they do otherwise. If prices do not stay ahead of inflation, investors lose value in terms of the purchasing power of their assets. The equity markets may rally in the upcoming inflation, but the systemic implications and current gold behavior suggest that the circumstance will not give investors a positive real return, as discussed in the Hyperinflation Special Report.

Given the current systemic distortions and extreme irrationality in the equity markets, a severe and violent sell-off in stocks would not be a shock, and it could come with minimal, if any, warning. It also might be coincident with a U.S. dollar-selling panic.

There is particular risk of recent dollar selling — which has been closing in on historic lows — turning into an outright dollar-dumping panic, which not only would roil the domestic U.S. markets, but also would set the stage for a rapid acceleration of domestic consumer inflation. Irrespective of any near-term market volatility, gold and silver, as well as the stronger currencies, remain the best long-term liquid hedges against loss in purchasing power of the U.S. dollar.

For more, click here

We sympathize with John’s sentiment, but who cares about risk? The Fed will never let anything drop in price ever again. It is now far too late to prevent the biggest bubble in the history of the world, and its subsequent collaps. Article

Submitted by dan fey

Thirteen firms to bid in Iraq’s Oct. 20 gas auction

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:45pm GMT

BAGHDAD Oct 11 (Reuters) – Thirteen companies have qualified to bid in Iraq‘s Oct. 20 auction for three gas fields and no others will be allowed to take part, a senior oil official said on Monday.

Iraq will tender gas fields at Akkas in the western desert, Iraq’s Sunni heartland and once an al Qaeda stronghold, Mansuriyah near the Iranian border in volatile Diyala province, and Siba in the relatively peaceful southern oil hub of Basra.

The three fields together have estimated reserves of around 11.23 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The bidding round has been delayed twice to give companies more time to study contract terms. [nLDE68I02T]

“Thirteen companies will take part in the gas auction and no more firms will be allowed,” Abdul-Mahdy al-Ameedi, head of the Iraqi oil ministry‘s licensing and contracting office, told Reuters.

These are the 13 companies that were qualified to take part: Italy’s Edison (EDN.MI: Quote) and ENI (ENI.MI: Quote), France’s Total (TOTF.PA: Quote), South Korea’s KOGAS (036460.KS: Quote), Japan’s Mitsubishi (8058.T: Quote), state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO), Japan’s Itochu (8001.T: Quote), Kazakhstan state oil and gas company KazMunaiGas [KMG.UL], Russia’s TNK-BP (TNBPI.RTS: Quote), Norway’s StatoilHydro (STL.OL: Quote), India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC.BO: Quote), Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) and Kuwait Energy. (Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; editing by Jim Loney)

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