Anti-government protesters have now occupied for Kiev's city hall for more than a week. Police are tearing down barricades that were put in front of municipal buildings, the AP reports, and an opposition party says their offices were raided.
During the Cold War, successive U.S. leaders supported the white South African government because it staunchly opposed communism. Mandela's African National Congress, meanwhile, had many ties to the Soviet Union and viewed it as more sympathetic to their cause than the U.S. and other Western countries.
Not that long ago, gold was trading near $1,900 an ounce. Today it’s fallen to just above $1,200.
What’s that tell us about our economic confidence? Andreas Hauskrecht, a professor at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, is adamant about the answer. Not much. “Gold is the worst indicator for how people feel about the economy,” he says.
But if we can’t say what falling gold prices mean, we might be able to answer why gold prices are falling.
One theory is that rising interest rates are luring investors to other investments.
Another theory is that we’re a little less freaked out about the economy than we have been.“Gold has traditionally been thought of as something that is a disaster protection,” says Campbell Harvey, a finance professor at Duke University. “Now that the economy is returning to a more normal situation, that disaster demand is evaporating effectively.”
But his research finds gold isn’t the great hedge that investors think it is. Prices, he says, are just too volatile.
Think of the U.S. Congress as a procrastinating undergrad, prone to sleeping in. Lawmakers don’t hesitate to hit the “snooze button.”
Congress has a deadline for, say, passing a budget; the alarm clock goes off; and we get another short-term spending bill. The alarm sounds again when we get perilously close to that debt ceiling; but, there is some horse trading, and we’re solvent for a few more months.
“This is the symbol of how dysfunctional congress and the president have become,” says Sarah Binder, a professor of political science at George Washington University and a fellow at The Brookings Institution. “The issue here is, why do they keep setting up the alarm clock that enables them to push the snooze button?”
Binder says one reason is that, if leaders make a serious proposal too soon, they give up bargaining power.
So, what’s a solution? Maybe the deadline has to be a real deadline, says Laura Stack, an efficiency expert who calls herself “The Productivity Pro.”
“The problem is congress never seems to make one that is immovable,” she explains. “It always seems to be a moving target.”
Stack, who works with corporate clients, says she can’t believe the lack of urgency in Washington.
“This is not how I’m used to things happening in business,” she says. “I mean, we need to move, move, move!”
According to Bob Pozen, the author of a book called “Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours,” “You could look at what Congress is doing as procrastinating.”
“People have lots of reasons for procrastinating, but probably the best reason is this is a very difficult task,” Pozen says.
In this case, it’s a budget or tax reform.
Norm Ornstein is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of “It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.” He says there is a consequence to congress making and missing so many deadlines: “We’ve become deadened to them to a degree.”
Next Friday’s deadline? There is no real consequence for missing it.
“The December 13 deadline is a real one,” Ornstein says. “But it’s not the real, real one.”
Which makes it easier to put off until tomorrow -- or until January 15, when the government could shut down again -- what lawmakers could have done today.
Three years ago, guess where the highest density of black bears in the entire country was?
The Northwest Corner of New Jersey. I know, I know, that area is much better known for not being known for anything. But, in the words of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese, “We were at more than three bears per square mile; it was an out of control situation.”
The bears were getting into people’s trash, even breaking into their homes. So in 2010 the state started an annual week long bear hunt. (For the record, they did other stuff too, including getting people to not leave their trash in places where bears could get it and launching an educational campaign). New Jersey’s fourth consecutive black bear hunt starts today, about a half hour before sunrise.
It’s great for business if you’re Chuck Rogers, who runs Killer’s Deer Processing. Up to his arms in deer guts, he explains that “The bear hunt brings a lot of guys that wouldn’t necessarily hunt in those areas of New Jersey. Your local delis and diners, their business, the bear hunt bumps it up 25 percent, especially in the northern part of the state.”
It can cost anywhere from $200-$500 to process a bear, and $600 to turn it into a rug. Not to mention mounting it, which many people do. With 5,000 bears hunted last year in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey last year, that adds up to a nice little earner for some businesses.
And it's had a huge, positive impact on “human-bear interactions,” Larry Ragonese says. Last year, the number of so called “Category 1” incidents -- really aggressive stuff like bears entering homes, was down 43 percent last year. “It’s good for people and it’s good for bears,” he argues.
But not everyone is bullish on the bear hunt, even from a business perspective. “A damn nuisance is what they are," says John Person, who runs Game Butcher in Lebanon, New Jersey.
He says bears take three times as long to process as deer and don’t make him as much money. They are cumbersome to deal with, he says, and they get in the way of his deer business.
Plus, some hunters don’t really know what they’re getting into sometimes. “They envision a nice bear head rug in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine, but it comes at a price,” Person says, one hunters are not always willing to pay. “I’ve had the guys say, ‘Well can I give you some of the meat for payment,’ I say heck no! They don’t think before they pull that trigger and know how much that money will cost them.”
So really, one way or another, it’s going to be a bear market in Jersey this week.
Winter won't officially begin until nearly two more weeks pass, but snow, ice, and freezing rain are blanketing a large swath of the U.S. As of Monday morning, more than a thousand flights were cancelled.