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Archive for the ‘economics’ category: Page 107

Jun 26, 2012

A Brief Analysis of the Future of US — China Relations

Posted by in categories: business, defense, economics, ethics, geopolitics, military, policy

ENVIRONMENT & BACKGROUND

China is a rising world power with: increasing international economic power; improving military strength; tumultuous social issues. Exiting from the recent global economic and financial crisis, China sees itself strengthening and growing while America (and much of the ‘Western’ world) struggles to recuperate. This recovery disparity has given support to Chinese sentiment suggesting the superiority of Chinese policy and social culture.

China’s newfound (or newly revived) superiority complex has complicated American interaction with the government, where China now appears to be doing everything it can to avoid looking weak and to resist US/Western influence. With China’s rise, incentives for America to pressure democratization, establishment of free market economics, and improvement of human rights have grown in intensity. The US has very direct interests in the ‘Westernization’ of China and China does see benefits to cooperation, however they seem to resist or avert most American challenges to the Sino-status quo.

AVAILABLE OPTIONS

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Jun 24, 2012

The Importance of NASA

Posted by in categories: business, economics, education, engineering, policy, space

America has been a spacefaring nation since 1958. Over the past fifty-three years, America overtook its first rival, the Soviet Union (spacefaring since 1957), and maintained its supremacy in the aerospace and aeronautical industries, having the most developed and successful space program, the strongest private aerospace/aeronautical industry, and the most intelligent engineers and scientists. During times where space exploration and advanced scientific research programs seem inappropriate to publicly fund and continue where economic difficulties, contested military actions, and other civil/financial issues seem to demand precedence, it needs to be promoted that NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is of immense importance to the security and welfare of the United States of America and must remain a national priority. NASA drives STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education as well as the development of commercial and defense technologies and works with private engineering and science companies across the country, employing thousands of brilliant engineers, scientists, and technicians to ensure the safety of the American people and maintain the technological and explorational prestige this country has always possessed.

NASA’s accomplishments are inspirational to students. It is capable of orbiting people around the planet in minutes, building a space station, and placing man on the moon, and in doing so powerfully inspires individuals to aspire for careers with the organization. In order to become involved with NASA, a student must study science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics, and by creating a strong incentive for people to study these topics, demand for STEM education increases. As demand increases, more STEM programs will develop and more people will become involved in STEM disciplines. Students studying STEM subjects develop critical thinking skills and strong senses of logic to overcome various problems and conflicts. New generations of engineers and scientists will rise to replace the retiring generations and surpass them in their accomplishments, but only will do so if opportunities to take such careers exist. Should NASA decay, it won’t only be NASA careers disappearing. Jobs at firms like Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Company, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and SpaceX among others will be lost as well and some of these firms will face immense downsizing or possibly even be forced to shut down, severely harming motivation for younger American students to pursue a degree or career in STEM related fields.

One of the greatest positive externalities of NASA is the technology developed as ‘spin-off’ used in the commercial and defense industries. When NASA was tasked with putting man on the moon, NASA realized the Apollo capsule would need computing systems installed within it that were far greater in power and far smaller than those currently in use and therefore tasked private industry with the development of compact computing devices that later became the PC and laptop. Without NASA funding, heart rate monitors, thermal video imaging, light emitting diodes, and velcro among many other technologies would not have been developed. While current domestic debate surrounds whether or not NASA should be downsized, enlarged, or completely phased out over time, foreign countries and blocs such as China, India, and the European Space Agency are investing even more time and money into improving their programs, their educational efforts, and plan to surpass American capabilities within the near future. Technological innovation, though still very prevalent within the United States, is beginning to grow very rapidly in foreign countries and more new technologies are being imported rather than exported every day. Instead of questioning whether or not NASA is necessary, America should be questioning what seemingly impossible task NASA should be working on next. Originally, the Apollo project seemed insurmountably difficult. But when national security threats (Soviet technological capabilities during the Cold War) met technological challenges (the Apollo program), NASA proved to be an irreplaceable source of innovation and wonder that united a nation, inspired a generation with dreams of space exploration, and provided a feeling of security to millions of people who feared another devastating war.

Which is also why NASA is critically important in the defense industry as a customer. NASA helps improve private and public defense and communication technologies. The relationship between NASA and the private industry is very symbiotic. NASA develops a plan or project and administers/contracts production and testing tasks out to the private industry, challenging thousands of engineers and scientists to improve their designs and inspires technological and manufacturing developments, which in turn allow NASA to complete its mission in an efficient and effective manner. China has proven it is capable of destroying our satellites by destroying one of its own and has announced its desire to develop a space program separated from America’s influence and plans to land on the moon in 2020. India, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, Romania, Japan, and Ukraine among others have all had confirmed launches and are working to become space powers themselves, developing their own aerospace industries and programs. Iraq and North Korea have also both touted successful launches, though their success are unconfirmed. NASA helps to keep America competitive by constantly challenging private industry and by making sure its goals for space and technological development are always beyond those of other countries, which helps to prevent enemies from defeating our technologies, thus keeping us safe.

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May 29, 2012

Spiralling Debt & The Road to Breaking Point

Posted by in categories: business, economics, ethics, finance, sustainability

The biggest challenge to the ‘ecosystem’ of world economics that keeps society ticking over is how to overcome our inability to regulate a sustainable economic model. In Europe at present we are undergoing the difficult measures in setting about rules of austerity to ensure that government borrowing never gets as out of hand as it has done on our watch. I post on this topic now as it is topical to me — back home here in my native Ireland we are voting on a referendum this week to ensure we no longer borrow from our children to fuel indulgences today — a referendum on rationality and responsibility.

The topical of austerity reminds me of an opinion I blogged on a crisis in the Obama administration last August on national debt in the light of striking comments from foreign figureheads amid the storm from the ‘Tea Party Taliban’. I share with you for to see if anyone cares to comment on an operandi of living like parasites off the global economy:

Living Like Parasites Off The Global Economy, originally written 3 Aug 2011:

With the US in turmoil over its national debt, and held to ransom by a ‘Tea Party Taliban’, last week China publicly mocked American democracy. Yesterday, the world witnessed the humbling of America after a trillion-dollar deal marked the end of an era for the US. The US now faces a shift in its relations with creditor nations, and it was not all too surprising to hear Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, yesterday accusing Americans of living “like parasites off the global economy”. If America had defaulted on its international debt obligations, that is exactly what it would be. While America continues to service it’s debt, it is quite the opposite — for now at least- as is perpetually paying interest to its creditors.

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May 23, 2012

Will Student Loans Cause an Economic Armageddon?

Posted by in category: economics

Note: This article originally appears on WealthLift.com and can be seen here.

In 2006, the underpinnings of the American financial system began to crack from a speculative bubble in the country’s housing market. Fueled by irrational exuberance in which homeowners believed their home prices would rise forever, this was made worse by Main Street and Wall Street, both of whom repackaged mortgage loans for sale to everyday investors through a process called securitization. That’s right, this was a multipronged problem, not the hell-bent desires of a few financial fat cats, as Occupy Wall Street would have you believe.

When the bubble burst and home prices began to decline, this not only hurt the original lender, but also every investor that held a piece of a mortgage-backed asset. Imagine this process like a moldy pie that no one realizes is bad. Originally, the entire pie is held by one bank. Next, pieces of this pie are sold to other banks, pension funds, hedge funds, and anyone else that has an appetite. Soon enough, however, everyone holding this pie has gotten sick. Well, this happens with all kinds of assets, including car loans, credit cards and student loans. The benefit of securitization is that it allows organizations to grant more loans to people like you and me, but the downside is that it exposes the entire economy to the financial woes of an individual market. Without securitization, what happened in the housing market would have likely stayed in the housing market.

Six years later, many people are crying that the same thing will happen to the student loan market. While disbelievers can claim that these are just ‘cynics’ whose views are skewed by the world’s ongoing economic turmoil, a basic investigation into the matter yields some worrying results.

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May 14, 2012

From Global Crisis — A Planetary Defense?

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, defense, economics, ethics, events, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat, military, nuclear weapons, policy, rants, space, treaties

Russia’s hastily convened international conference in St. Petersburg next month is being billed as a last-ditch effort at superpower cooperation in defense of Earth against dangers from space.

But it cannot be overlooked that this conference comes in response to the highly controversial NATO anti-ballistic missile deployments in Eastern Europe. These seriously destabilizing, nuclear defenses are pretexted as a defense against a non-nuclear Iran. In reality, the western moves of anti-missile systems into Poland and Romania create a de facto nuclear first-strike capability for NATO, and they vacate a series of Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaties with the Russians that go back forty years.

Deeply distrustful of these new US and NATO nuclear first-strike capabilities, the Russians announced they will not attend NATO’s planned deterrence summit in Chicago this month. Instead, they are testing Western intentions with a proposal for cooperative project for near-space mapping, surveillance, and defense against Earth-crossing asteroids and other dangerous space objects.

The Russians have invited NATO members as well as forward-thinking space powers to a conference in June in Petrograd. The agenda: Planetary defense against incursions by objects from space. It would be a way of making cooperative plowshares from the space technologies of hair-trigger nuclear terror (2 minutes warning, or less, in the case of the Eastern European ABMs).

It’s an offer the US and other space powers should accept.

Apr 16, 2012

One Key to The Future is Financial Clarity

Posted by in categories: business, economics, education, finance

On the cusp of graduation, I’ve had two major realizations in college.

One: most of America’s worst economic crises have been a result of financial obscurity. The first major crash in my lifetime was in the tech bubble of the early 2000s, where Wall Street traders were overrating the quality of Internet stocks. Once the broader market realized this, the values of many tech companies were obliterated. Millions of investors exposed to this sector lost their entire investments because they were unaware of these misrepresentations. In the most last recession, where lenders were underrating the riskiness of homeowners and financial institutions were securitizing riskier-than-advertised mortgages, millions of investors lost their entire investments yet again because they were unaware of further misrepresentations.

Two: economic history repeats itself, even if as a society, we might be aware of this pattern. Taking these two market crises as an example of this bleak fact about our species, it seems that we’ll always have the shortest of memories. In this case, history repeated rather quickly – twice in the span of a decade. Is it possible that people are cognizant of a recurring mistake before it happens, even if it’s happened before in their lifetimes? Most likely not, if the last recession is any example. A significant number of real estate professionals, banking gurus, and regulators were responsible for inflating a price bubble in the housing market, even though some fraction should have been economically conscious enough to understand the problems that would eventually arise.

The question then remains: is there a way to solve both of these problems, assuming the best of all possible worlds? Yes. Imagine a place where peoples’ understandings of basic economics and financial practices was commonplace, where a homeowner and a lender had an equal comprehension of a mortgage, where a hard-working breadwinner knew the dangers of payday loans, and where a child could sit side-by-side with his or her parents while overseeing family finances. All of these possibilities – and more – can come into fruition if we as individuals place a greater emphasis on financial awareness. Note: I don’t say “financial learning” because all of these concepts are innate to us, though hidden by verbiage and stigma. Whether we like it or not, if our career is in finance or not, we must come to terms with the economic world that surrounds us.

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Apr 14, 2012

Earth’s Titanic Challenges

Posted by in categories: asteroid/comet impacts, complex systems, economics, ethics, existential risks, finance, fun, geopolitics, homo sapiens, human trajectories, lifeboat, media & arts, rants
RMS <em>Titanic</em> Sails

What’s to worry? RMS Titanic departs Southampton.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster in 1912. What better time to think about lifeboats?

One way to start a discussion is with some vintage entertainment. On the centenary weekend of the wreck of the mega-liner, our local movie palace near the Hudson River waterfront ran a triple bill of classic films about maritime disasters: A Night to Remember, Lifeboat, and The Poseidon Adventure. Each one highlights an aspect of the lifeboat problem. They’re useful analogies for thinking about the existential risks of booking a passage on spaceship Earth.

Can’t happen…

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Feb 10, 2012

The Greenland Ice Sheet Melt: Irreversible Implications

Posted by in categories: economics, engineering, existential risks, habitats, sustainability

It is of course widely accepted that the Greenland icesheet is melting at an alarming rate, accelerating, and is an irreversible process, and when it finally does melt will contribute to a rise in sea levels globally by 7 meters. This is discounting the contribution of any melt from the West Antarctic ice sheet which could contribute a further 5 meters, and the more long term risk of East Antarctic ice sheet melt, which is losing mass at a rate of 57 billion tonnes per year, and if melted in entirety would see sea levels rise by a further 60 meters.

In this light it is rather ‘cute’ that the site here dedicated to existential risks to society is called the Lifeboat Foundation when one of our less discussed risks is that of world-wide flooding of a massive scale to major coastal cities/ports & industries right across the world.

Why do we still continue to grow our cities below a safe limit of say 10 meters above sea level when cities are built to last thousands of years, but could now be flooded within hundreds. How many times do we have to witness disaster scenarios such as the Oklahoma City floods before we contemplate this occurring irreversibly to hundreds of cities across the world in the future. Is it feasible to take the approach of building large dams to preserve these cities, or is it a case of eventually evacuating and starting all over again? In the latter case, how do we safely contain chemical & nuclear plants that would need to be abandoned in a responsible and non-environmentally damaging procedure?

Let’s be optimistic here — the Antarctic ice sheets are unlikely to disappear in time scales we need to worry about today — but the Greenland ice sheet is topical. Can it be considered an existential risk if the process takes hundreds of years and we can slowly step out of the way though so much of the infrastructure we rely on is being relinquished? Will we just gradually abandon our cities to higher ground as insurance companies refuse to cover properties in coastal flooding areas? Or will we rise to a challenge and take first steps to create eco-bubbles & ever larger dams to protect cities?

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Jan 16, 2012

Post Einsteinian Language?

Posted by in categories: biological, complex systems, cosmology, economics, education, ethics, evolution, futurism, habitats, homo sapiens, human trajectories, humor, media & arts, philosophy, policy, rants, scientific freedom, sustainability, transparency

Twenty years ago, way back in the primordial soup of the early Network in an out of the way electromagnetic watering hole called USENET, this correspondent entered the previous millennium’s virtual nexus of survival-of-the-weirdest via an accelerated learning process calculated to evolve a cybernetic avatar from the Corpus Digitalis. Now, as columnist, sci-fi writer and independent filmmaker, [Cognition Factor — 2009], with Terence Mckenna, I have filmed rocket launches and solar eclipses for South African Astronomical Observatories, and produced educational programs for South African Large Telescope (SALT). Latest efforts include videography for the International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town October 2011, and a completed, soon-to-be-released, autobiography draft-titled “Journey to Everywhere”.

Cognition Factor attempts to be the world’s first ‘smart movie’, digitally orchestrated for the fusion of Left and Right Cerebral Hemispheres in order to decode civilization into an articulate verbal and visual language structured from sequential logical hypothesis based upon the following ‘Big Five’ questions,

1.) Evolution Or Extinction?
2.) What Is Consciousness?
3.) Is God A Myth?
4.) Fusion Of Science & Spirit?
5.) What Happens When You Die?

Even if you believe that imagination is more important than knowledge, you’ll need a full deck to solve the ‘Arab Spring’ epidemic, which may be a logical step in the ‘Global Equalisation Process as more and more of our Planet’s Alumni fling their hats in the air and emit primal screams approximating;
“we don’t need to accumulate (so much) wealth anymore”, in a language comprising of ‘post Einsteinian’ mathematics…

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Jan 14, 2012

Why The #Occupy Movement Has No Chance, Yet

Posted by in category: economics

I’ve spent some time thinking about what the #Occupy movement is really representing. I’ve tried to attend the camps as I’ve traveled and interview the people in the camps; as well as, their formidable opponents in the ownership positions of the respective societies that Occupiers exist.

I think that I’m comfortable echoing the analysis in that Occupiers have done a good initial job in comparison to similar movements around the world and in the United States in particular. They’ve caught the attention of the masses, in that everyone knows what #Occupy means. Of course the problems of any fledgling movement are that its priorities aren’t hashed (#) out. While everyone knows what #Occupy is; no one has any idea of what it wants, or rather, needs.

Every movement-struggle-jihad, has is a battle of philosophy on how a society should exist versus how it does. Based on the consistent and more frequent collapse in the economic system, it is evident that we are due for some structural change in the modern world. When I listen to the rhetoric of this movement and the defense of its identified opponents, I think the following apply. There is a clash of ideals on whose altruism is not only virtuous but most beneficial. On the one hand we have that of the individuals, formally represented by the #Occupiers. On the other we have that of the institutions, formally represented by their owners/stakeholders. While individuals (humans in this case) can allocate a moral regard to their fellow man/woman based on their acknowledgment of his/her intrinsic or extrinsic value, institutions do not. Yet some individuals can advocate the virtues of an institution because for their holding that the institution’s incentives to take action better the society as a whole.

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