Today's top news, Monday, Aug. 31.
Bill Clinton tells adoring, capacity crowd at CNE he hopes U.S. will follow Canada this year in adopting universal health care. "I hope [late U.S. senator Ted Kennedy's] lifetime dream that America finally will follow Canada, and every other advanced nation in the world, in providing affordable health care to all of our people will pass," former U.S. president tells audience of 12,000 Saturday at CNE's BMO Field. Photo: Darren Calabrese, CP.
Why Canada was late entering recession, is early to emerge. Analysis shows without reliance on exports, Canada might have dodged this downturn, as it did the post-9/11 slump. Sum total of recessionary damage: 414,000 lost jobs, first export deficit in decades, massive hangover in future from deficit-financed stimulus.
Incredibly, devastating global downturn too short-lived to result in meaningful reforms in financial-markets behaviour or new system for worldwide coordination to avert next catastrophe. We could quote an anti-capitalism hippie weirdo freak on this, but warning comes from expert at one of world's most venerable investment banking firms. In note to clients, Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, writes:
"The crisis is of historic proportions by many metrics. Yet in some ways it was not strong enough to force a restructuring of the world economy...The failure to take advantage of the crisis to put economies on a more balanced footing will have far reaching consequences..."
New Japanese government takes office today amid uncertainty. After breaking decades of near-monopoly rule by LDP, Yukio Hatoyama-led Democrats take office with little governing experience. Israel meanwhile indicts former PM Olmert on fraud charges. Olmert’s three predecessors in office faced corruption allegations.
Opel saga taking bad turn for Magna. GM stalling for time, as I've previously surmised, in hopes of clinging to Opel-Vauxhall once new German government elected late next month. Sources speculate German Chancellor Merkel (left) snookered by Detroit. Further evidence "new GM" refuses to focus on key N.A. market is $293-million deal to flesh out its Chinese offerings, adding trucks to its Chinese line-up of cars and minivans.
Green shoots: IPO boom in offing. Hyatt Hotels and Dollar Stores among giants poised to tap equity markets this year, after two years of pent-up demand while markets slumped.
In stunning reversal, Florida posts net drop in population latest 12-month period. Sunshine State, fourth-largest, has only known growth over past century. But lately hard hit by foreclosures, job losses, and net out-migration. William Frey, demographer at Brookings Institution, tells NYT:
“I don’t know if you can take a whole state to a psychiatrist, but the whole Florida economy was based on migration flows.”
Small but discernible exodus of Facebook users. Commercialism, arrogance, and privacy fears have turned many users against the social-networking site for adults. Facebook defector Leif Harmsen tells NYT:
“The more dependent we allow ourselves to become to something like Facebook — and Facebook does everything in its power to make you more dependent — the more Facebook can and does abuse us. It is not ‘your’ Facebook profile. It is Facebook’s profile about you.”
Reading blogs ranks second only to social-network visits among adult Internet users. Close to 40% of Web users are regular blog readers. (See chart at left.)
In San Francisco marathons, runners shunning Nike and other special-purpose shoes for thin togs that literally fit like a glove or going barefoot. They point to studies showing expensive running gear has little effect on performance.
EU members as, and sometimes more, productive than U.S. despite more generous EU holidays. Against average of 25 days off in U.S, EU average is 34.4 days, with the most pocketed in Lithuania (41), France and Finland (40 each). Yet OECD finds Belgium (30) and the Netherlands (28) are almost 2 percent more productive than the US, while Luxembourg (32 days) is whopping 27% more efficient. Even France is just 2% less productive, despite 37-hour work week.
Newsweek wonders if the epidemic of proven and alleged plagiarism - from Harvard students to debut novelists (Kaavya Viswanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life) to high-profile pundits (Maureen Dowd) - is an unavoidable tic. "Could they be guilty of psychological sloppiness rather than fraud? Could the real offense be disregard for the mind's subliminal kleptomania? And if it is real, is unconscious copying (or "cryptomnesia" to those who study the phenomenon) preventable?"
Ted Kennedy's written message to Pope Benedict XVI, conveyed by Obama on Vatican visit several weeks ago, partially revealed during late senator's funeral Saturday:
“Even though I am ill, I’m committed to do everything I can do to achieve access to health care to everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life.”
Funeral procession for late U.S. senator Ted Kennedy makes its way to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday.
Quote of the day
"I think it's a real city of the future. I think having that big windmill ... is a signal to people from all over the world that make the journey from the airport [to] downtown that you're interested in the future. I like it because it's a diverse city. I like it because it's a friendly place." -Bill Clinton, asked during the Q&A session of his CNE appearance Saturday what he best liked about Toronto, where he has been a frequent visitor since retirement from the presidency in 2000. Toronto's one power generating windmill, a demonstration project that most days produces enough power to heat a birdhouse, is near BMO Field, where Clinton spoke.
For the purposes of this blog, the inception of the Great Recession in the U.S., the epicentre of the crisis, is taken as the start date for the global slump. The U.S. has been in recession since December 2007.