Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post is doing its best to spin positive: U.S. economic growth improves over first quarter. “The U.S. economy grew at a healthy pace in the second quarter, the government said today… Gross domestic product rose at a 1.9 percent inflation-adjusted annual rate in the April through June period, far above what forecasters would have expected just a few months ago. It was boosted by strong exports resulting from the lower value of the dollar and rising consumer spending by Americans, who benefited from government stimulus checks.”

    Rah-rah-rah! The problem is that this assessment is more Bush administration “cook the books” ala Enron. The NY Times does a little better with G.D.P. grows at tepid 1.9% pace despite stimulus.

    The economy grew less than expected from April to June despite a huge booster shot of tax rebates, the government reported on Thursday, dimming the outlook for a quick recovery. And more bad news may lie ahead: new claims for unemployment benefits jumped to a five-year high last week…

    A little more realistic assessment from the NY Times. The article went on to point out that “the government’s tax stimulus package, which put billions of dollars into consumers’ pockets, led to only a modest rise in consumer spending, and many businesses were caught off-guard by the slowdown in sales.” No idea why businesses were surprised by this, unless they are all run by Republicans, because I suspect nearly everyone who got a stimulus bribe is using it to buy gasoline or pay bills.

    But the real news comes from The Guardian, which is a little more blunt with their headline: United States economy shrinks for first time since 2001. Bloomberg News also reports on this with U.S. Recession May Have Begun in Last Quarter of 2007.

    The U.S. economy may have slipped into a recession in the last three months of 2007 as consumer spending slowed more than previously estimated and the housing slump worsened, revised government figures indicated.

    The U.S. economy “contracted at a 0.2 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter of last year compared with a previously reported 0.6 percent gain, the Commerce Department said today in Washington… The government also said incomes grew less than previously thought” too. The Bush administration got the numbers wrong? Amazing!

    Of course the Federal Reserve is still claiming there is no inflation because they “prefer” not to include the skyrocketing cost of food and fuel.

Four at Four continues below the fold with Brazil’s booming economy, ‘oil’ from algae, and a lake on Titan.

  1. We’ve seen above in the first item what kind of kind of economy a country winds up with after seven years of conservative, rightwing ‘leadership’. So, for giggles and grins, let’s look at what kind of economy a left wing government has after six years — the NY Times reports a Strong economy propels Brazil to the world stage.

    Brazil, South America’s largest economy, is finally poised to realize its long-anticipated potential as a global player, economists say, as the country rides its biggest economic expansion in three decades.

    That growth is being felt in nearly all parts of the economy, creating a new class of super rich even as people… lift themselves into an expanding middle class.

    It has also given Brazil new swagger, providing it, for instance, with greater leverage to push for a tougher bargain with the United States and Europe in global trade talks. After seven years, those negotiations finally broke down this week over demands by India and China for safeguards for their farmers, a clear sign of the rising clout of these emerging economies.

    Despite investor fears about the leftist bent of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva when he was elected to lead Brazil in 2002, he has demonstrated a light touch when it comes to economic stewardship…

    He has fueled Brazil’s growth through a deft combination of respect for financial markets and targeted social programs, which are lifting millions out of poverty, said David Fleischer, a political analyst and emeritus professor at the University of Brasília…

    Long famous for its unequal distribution of wealth, Brazil has shrunk its income gap by six percentage points since 2001…

    Compare Lula’s six years to Bush’s seven years and weep America.

  2. Alok Jha of The Guardian reports on ‘Oil from algae’ shows promise as a climate friendly fuel.

    A liquid fuel made from plants that is chemically identical to crude oil but which does not contribute to climate change when it is burned or, unlike other biofuels, need agricultural land to produce sounds too good to be true. But a company in San Diego claims to have developed exactly that – a sustainable version of oil it calls “green crude”.

    Sapphire Energy uses single-celled organisms such as algae to produce a chemical mixture from which it is possible to extract fuels for cars or airplanes. When it is burned, the fuel only releases into the air the carbon dioxide absorbed by the algae during its growth, making the whole process carbon neutral.

  3. AFP reports that NASA has discovered a Liquid flowing on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. Data from the Cassini probe orbiting Saturn led to the discovery, of the first body in the solar system to “have fluid on its surface” other than Earth. Titan’s lake is filled with liquid hydrocarbons and ethane.

    “This is the first observation that really pins down that Titan has a surface lake filled with liquid,” said University of Arizona scientist Bob Brown, team leader of Cassini’s visual and mapping instrument.

    NASA said large dark areas on Titan’s surface had been spotted during numerous close flybys of the moon. However until now it had not been possible to determine whether they were liquid or solids.

    But scientists were able to conclude the areas were liquid after studying data from a Cassini instrument able to distinguish chemically different materials based on the way they absorb and reflect infrared light.

    The lake on Titan is slightly bigger that Lake Ontario here on Earth and has been dubbed Ontario Lacus.


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  1. Stories 1 and 2 could have been real essays. I tinkered around with making story 3 an essay too, but it came across as too much of a shill piece for algae. How’s everyone this… checks the date… THURSDAY?

  2. want to talk about the economy. That is all just silly stuff.

    After all McCain’s economic plan is to just wait a really really long time and maybe things will get better by accident.

  3. Manny Ramirez traded to the Dodgers

    I’m kind of bummed about it.  I can’t stay up late enough to watch west coast baseball games.  And Manny always puts on a show, much of it having nothing to do with baseball.

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