Thursday, September 22, 2011

Roll over Einstein: Law of physics challenged

So what? Something faster than light, all significant stock trades are based upon moving data quickly with light through fibre optics. This means there may be something quicker, so when it is confirmed watch the rush to tame this so that someone can get an advantage on trading stocks by moving data with neutrinos. This decade is going  to be wild!  Aivars Lode
Roll over Einstein: Law of physics challenged
GENEVA (AP) — One of the very pillars of physics and Einstein's theory of relativity — that nothing can go faster than the speed of light — was rocked Thursday by new findings from one of the world's foremost laboratories.
European researchers said they clocked an oddball type of subatomic particle called a neutrino going faster than the 186,282 miles per second that has long been considered the cosmic speed limit.
The claim was met with skepticism, with one outside physicist calling it the equivalent of saying you have a flying carpet. In fact, the researchers themselves are not ready to proclaim a discovery and are asking other physicists to independently try to verify their findings.
"The feeling that most people have is this can't be right, this can't be real," said James Gillies, a spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, which provided the particle accelerator that sent neutrinos on their breakneck 454-mile trip underground from Geneva to Italy.
Going faster than light is something that is just not supposed to happen according to Einstein's 1905 special theory of relativity — the one made famous by the equation E equals mc2. But no one is rushing out to rewrite the science books just yet.
It is "a revolutionary discovery if confirmed," said Indiana University theoretical physicist Alan Kostelecky, who has worked on this concept for a quarter of a century.
Stephen Parke, who is head theoretician at the Fermilab near Batavia, Ill., and was not part of the research, said: "It's a shock. It's going to cause us problems, no doubt about that — if it's true."
Even if these results are confirmed, they won't change at all the way we live or the way the world works. After all, these particles have presumably been speed demons for billions of years. But the finding will fundamentally change our understanding of how the universe operates, physicists said.
Einstein's special relativity theory, which says that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared, underlies "pretty much everything in modern physics," said John Ellis, a theoretical physicist at CERN who was not involved in the experiment. "It has worked perfectly up until now."
France's National Institute for Nuclear and Particle Physics Research collaborated with Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory on the experiment at CERN.
CERN reported that a neutrino beam fired from a particle accelerator near Geneva to a lab 454 miles (730 kilometers) away in Italy traveled 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light. Scientists calculated the margin of error at just 10 nanoseconds, making the difference statistically significant.
Given the enormous implications of the find, the researchers spent months checking and rechecking their results to make sure there were no flaws in the experiment.
A team at Fermilab had similar faster-than-light results in 2007, but a large margin of error undercut its scientific significance.
If anything is going to throw a cosmic twist into Einstein's theories, it's not surprising that it's the strange particles known as neutrinos. These are odd slivers of an atom that have confounded physicists for about 80 years.
The neutrino has almost no mass, comes in three different "flavors," may have its own antiparticle and has been seen shifting from one flavor to another while shooting out from our sun, said physicist Phillip Schewe, communications director at the Joint Quantum Institute in Maryland.
Columbia University physicist Brian Greene, author of the book "Fabric of the Cosmos," said neutrinos theoretically can travel at different speeds depending on how much energy they have. And some mysterious particles whose existence is still only theorized could be similarly speedy, he said.
Fermilab team spokeswoman Jenny Thomas, a physics professor at the University College of London, said there must be a "more mundane explanation" for the European findings. She said Fermilab's experience showed how hard it is to measure accurately the distance, time and angles required for such a claim.
Nevertheless, the Fermilab team, which shoots neutrinos from Chicago to Minnesota, will go back to work immediately to try to verify or knock down the new findings, Thomas said.
And that's exactly what the team in Geneva wants.
Gillies told The Associated Press that the readings have so astounded researchers that "they are inviting the broader physics community to look at what they've done and really scrutinize it in great detail, and ideally for someone elsewhere in the world to repeat the measurements."
Drew Baden, chairman of the physics department at the University of Maryland, said it is far more likely that there are measurement errors or some kind of fluke. Tracking neutrinos is very difficult, he said.
"This is ridiculous what they're putting out," Baden said, calling it the equivalent of claiming that a flying carpet is invented only to find out later that there was an error in the experiment somewhere. "Until this is verified by another group, it's flying carpets. It's cool, but ..."
So if the neutrinos are pulling this fast one on Einstein, how can it happen?
Parke said there could be a cosmic shortcut through another dimension — physics theory is full of unseen dimensions — that allows the neutrinos to beat the speed of light.
Indiana's Kostelecky theorizes that there are situations when the background is different in the universe, not perfectly symmetrical as Einstein says. Those changes in background may change both the speed of light and the speed of neutrinos.
But that doesn't mean Einstein's theory is ready for the trash heap, he said.
"I don't think you're going to ever kill Einstein's theory. You can't. It works," Kostelecky said. Just there are times when an additional explanation is needed, he said.
If the European findings are correct, "this would change the idea of how the universe is put together," Columbia's Greene said. But he added: "I would bet just about everything I hold dear that this won't hold up to scrutiny."
Borenstein reported from Washington.

China's Factory Activity Slipped in September

Is this the precursor to the end of Australia's and Canada's booms?

BEIJING—A preliminary gauge of China's manufacturing activity fell in September, indicating that growth in the world's second-largest economy continued to slow.
The preliminary HSBC China manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 49.4 in September from a final reading of 49.9 in August, HSBC Holdings PLC said Thursday.
A reading below 50 indicates contraction from the previous month, while a reading above 50 indicates expansion.
The decline in the PMI could reignite some concerns over a sharp economic slowdown in China, due to weakening global demand for Chinese goods and various tightening measures at home.
The Australian dollar, which is sensitive to Chinese demand for Australian commodities, slipped after the data were released, falling below parity to the U.S. dollar for the first time since Aug. 8.
HSBC economist Qu Hongbin, however, said in a note that the data are consistent with a "soft landing" scenario. "Fears of a hard landing are unwarranted," he wrote. "External demand weakened a little but official trade data still show solid export growth."
Mr. Qu said he expects China's gross domestic product growth to be around 8.5% to 9% in coming quarters, down from 9.5% in the second quarter. The manufacturing output subindex fell to 49.2, a two-month low.
The preliminary China PMI figure, also called the HSBC Flash China PMI, is based on 85% to 90% of total responses to HSBC's PMI survey each month and is issued about a week before the final PMI reading. September's final reading is due Sept. 30.
Write to Aaron Back at

Investors staged a global flight from risk

And did you notice where the money went? USD what happened to the Chinese RMB  or the Russian Ruble as a safe haven? As some of you will know from previous posts I have commented on where the safe haven is an why.

NEW YORK—Investors staged a global flight from risk Thursday that sent U.S. stocks plummeting and 10-year Treasury yields to 1940s levels, after a gloomy outlook by the Federal Reserve renewed fears of a global economic slowdown.
Investors staged a global flight from risk Thursday that sent stocks plummeting and 10-year Treasury yields to 1940s levels renewed fears of a global economic slowdown. Paul Vigna, Dave Callaway and Bob O'Brien discuss on The News Hub.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 391.01 points, or 3.5%, to 10733.83, as investors barreled out of stocks and into "safe" assets like the U.S. dollar, which surged. The blue-chip measure fell more than 500 points in afternoon action, averting its lowest close in a year with a late-session lift. The action built on the stock market's Wednesday selloff, when the Fed acknowledged "significant" downside risks to the economy and noted "strains" in global financial markets, a reference to debt-strapped Europe.
A weak reading on manufacturing in China contributed to the slowdown fears. Adding to the grim mood was a lack of appreciable progress in containing Europe's debt crisis, which has weighed on markets for months.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index shed 37.20 points, or 3.2%, to 1129.56, after touching its lowest intraday level since early August. The technology-oriented Nasdaq Composite slumped 82.52 points, or 3.2%, to 2455.67.

Markets Drop Around the World

Associated Press
A trader reacted in front of her screen at a bank in Paris, Thursday.

An investor reacts in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Huaibei, Anhui province Sept. 22.
Among NYSE-listed issues, decliners outnumbered gainers by just over 7 to 1, while the Nasdaq losers outpaced rising issues by about 6 to 1.
All blue-chip stocks finished in the red, as did all S&P 500 sectors. Materials and energy stocks were hit hardest, falling as investors acted on their economic slowdown worries and in reaction to the fast rise of the U.S. dollar.
"They're selling literally everything," said Alan Valdes, director of floor trading at DME Securities at the New York Stock Exchange. "It's the realization that things aren't getting better that has traders concerned. They're selling gold, they're selling copper, they're selling everything."
European stocks closed sharply lower. The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 4.6% to hit the lowest level in more than two years in intraday trading. Asian bourses also dropped sharply, with China's Shanghai Composite losing 2.8% on news that manufacturing activity in China contracted in September. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slid 4.9%.
"A lot of people who had very significant investment positions based on a scenario of dollar weakness changed those position pretty violently," said Douglas Cliggott, chief U.S. equity strategist at Credit Suisse. "I think the bottom line of the Fed's decision was, 'No, we're not going to be growing our balance sheet for the foreseeable future.' It leaves the U.S. as the odd man out in this effort to, in effect, grow central bank balance sheets and weaken currencies."
The first improvement in U.S. jobless claims data in three weeks did little to change the negative tone of trading. New claims for unemployment benefits last week dropped by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 423,000, according to the Labor Department. The level remains too high to suggest much improvement in the stubbornly weak U.S. jobs market. In addition, the previous week's figure was revised to reflect more jobless claims.
Investors also shrugged off other modestly positive economic data Thursday morning. The Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators increased for the fourth consecutive month in August and government data showed that U.S. home prices increased in July for the fourth straight month.
In the backdrop was a flareup in U.S. debt worries, the result of the surprise failure of a bill to fund the U.S. government through mid-November. Conservative Republicans and most Democrats teamed up for the largest defeat inflicted on the Republican House majority this year. The episode was a reminder of market gyrations this summer, when Washington was caught in an impasse of raising the limit on federal borrowing.
In corporate news, shares of Goodrich gained 10% after the aircraft-components maker agreed to be acquired by blue-chip conglomerate United Technologies for $16.4 billion in cash. United Technologies fell 8.8%.
FedEx slipped 8.2% after the package-delivery service reported fiscal first-quarter results that were higher than expected, but said it slightly reduced its earnings outlook as it looked to adjust its cost structure to match lower demand.
Traders at the New York Stock Exchange.
Red Hat gained 3%. The software company reported better-than-expected fiscal second-quarter results.
CarMax lost 11%. The used-car dealership chain's results missed estimates for the first time in about two and a half years amid a decline in customer traffic and same-store sales, which it attributed to the recent economic slowdown and weakness in consumer confidence.
—Jonathan Cheng, Christian Berthelsen, Min Zeng, Javier David, Mark Stein, Matthew Day, Katy Burne, Andrew J. Johnson and Leslie Josephs contributed to this article. Write to Brendan Conway at

Q&A: Is this the end of the road for the gold rush?

Related Video

Gold jewelry is displayed in a shop in Kathmandu August 8, 2011. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:00pm EDT
(Reuters) - Growth is stalling, the euro zone is flailing, the Fed is spent and risk markets are melting down -- yet gold, the one asset that has consistently rallied in similar circumstances over the past year, is in a tailspin.
After a month of unprecedented volatility that has rattled some investors' confidence in gold's decade-long winning streak, the question is obvious: Is this what the popping of a gold bubble looks like?
The answer, of course, isn't obvious. The bursting of asset bubbles is best seen in retrospect, and gold's 10 percent decline from a record high just three weeks ago is far from its worst tumble; it last suffered such a setback in late 2009, and multiple times in 2008. It is only halfway to the 20 percent mark that separates a correction from a bear market.
While a survey of the best minds of the bullion market predicted this week that gold would continue to power higher over the next year, topping $2,000 an ounce, there are undeniable warning signs flashing along the way, threatening to undermine one of this year's top-performing assets.
Returns this year:
Spot gold prices tumbled more than 3 percent to a one-month low of $1,721 an ounce on Thursday, falling further out of favor as a global round of risk aversion triggered by weak Chinese manufacturing data and grim comments from the Federal Reserve hit commodity markets especially hard.
The U.S. dollar index .DXY rose 1.25 percent and U.S. stock indices fell nearly 4 percent. Brent crude dived by $5 a barrel, copper logged its biggest loss since October 2008 while sugar and grains slumped 5 percent.
Without calling a top in a market that has consistently proven all but the most intrepid gold bugs wrong, below are several factors to consider when weighing whether this is the end of the road or just a big bump in it.
The most alarming shift in the gold market in recent weeks has been the abrupt collapse in what had become a predictable risk-off trade. The 25-day correlation between gold and U.S. 10-year Treasuries had strengthened to the highest since at least 2005 at 0.7 by a week ago, but has since collapsed. The inverse link with the S&P hit its lowest in early September since the financial crisis, but has now bounced.
The dislocation has been increasingly evident this week, with gold falling in tandem with oil, stocks and copper, while the safe money rushed instead for Treasuries and the dollar.
The apparent cause? Possibly the rise of another popular correlation, one that had been largely set aside -- the dollar. On Thursday, the correlation returned negative for the first time in two weeks. It has averaged -0.4 for five years.
If that correlation holds strong, gold may be hostage to the greenback for some time. While the euro's woes and ultra-risk-averse investors may continue to help pull the dollar index .DXY up from near its 2008 record lows, few expect a sustained recovery that could drag down gold.
Along with the loss of its safe-haven status, for the moment at least, gold's long-standing favor as a hedge against inflation hasn't been evident for months, with Western economies closer than ever to another recession.
Even so, with the Fed pledging to keep interest rates at near zero for the next two years, gold's lack of yield is less of a penalty than in normal times.
On top of the disrupted correlations, gold has extended a period of unprecedented volatility, with day-to-day price movements in excess of 2 percent during 15 of the last 37 trading sessions -- a run unrivaled except for in 2008. On an absolute basis, intraday swings of more than $50 an ounce have not been regularly witnessed since 1980.
Volatility graphic:
"When something can move 3, or 5 or 6 percent in the course of two days, that's not a safe haven. Safe havens should be quiet and stable ... not violent," said Dennis Gartman, a longtime professional commodities investor who has regularly traded in and out of the bullion market.
The extraordinary whipsaw trade has bled into the options market, where implied volatility -- a measure of the cost of buying options either to bet on prices rising or to protect against prices falling -- has surged lately.
The CBOE's gold volatility index .OVX based on COMEX futures prices spiked in August to its highest in two years, and surged anew on Thursday as prices crashed.
More tellingly, traders say there is growing demand for buying put options, which protect an investor if prices fall. In the past, they say, far more investors wanted call options to benefit from gold's seemingly unyielding rise.
Over the past few years, gold has occasionally tumbled in tandem with stocks and other "riskier" assets simply because investors in those other markets were desperate to raise cash in order to cover margin calls or offset losses. This had little to do with any safe-haven issues or correlations and everything to do with the need for immediate liquidity.
That occurred most recently in June, with several days of in-sync losses. But the impact tends to ebb quickly, and few analysts see that as a compelling factor at the moment, suggesting the bounce-back may not be as swift.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg's Remarks at the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases

Sep 20, 2011  |


The following are Mayor Bloomberg's remarks as delivered this afternoon at the United Nations:
“Thank you, Mr. President. Excellencies; distinguished guests: Thank you all, good afternoon to everyone. For those of you who have come to our city for this meeting, and for the upcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly, welcome to New York. We are always delighted to be your hosts. And I am honored to have this opportunity to address you.
“Improving public health has long been one of my passions, and it’s why I’m devoted to enhancing one of the world’s preeminent schools of public health at my alma mater, the Johns Hopkins University, which is dedicated to saving lives, millions at a time.
“Public health remains an intense focus of my philanthropic work, as well as of my public service as Mayor of the City of New York. And without a doubt, the greatest public health challenges in the world today are those that you’ve identified: the dangers of chronic, non-communicable diseases.
“The increase in cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases has, as the World Health Organization warns, reached epidemic levels. Unless we head off this epidemic now, each year tens of millions of people across the globe – especially in low- and medium-income nations – will be subjected to crippling pain and disability caused by cardiovascular disease and cancer.
“Tens of millions more will be left speechless and immobile by debilitating strokes, or maimed and enfeebled by diabetes. And tragically, tens of millions of others will face early and painful deaths, leaving families bereft and, often, impoverished.
“We have made reducing non-communicable disease the focus of public health policy here in New York City, a city of about 8.4 million people. And I’m happy to report that we have had considerable success as a result. It’s fundamental to why for New Yorkers today, life expectancy has increased faster and remains higher than for Americans overall. Between 2001 and 2008, life expectancy in our city grew by more than a year and a half. That’s an outcome we take pride in and that we’ve worked hard to achieve. And I believe all nations worldwide can achieve similar success.
“At the outset of our Administration, we recognized that non-communicable diseases – especially heart disease and cancer – far outstripped all other causes of death in our city and that the single most effective thing that we could do to reduce them was to discourage smoking. Since then, we have implemented a range of policies to achieve precisely that goal.
“We have, for example, made New York City’s bars and restaurants, like our other workplaces, smoke-free. Recently, we extended that ban to our parks and public beaches. We’ve also mounted hard-hitting educational media campaigns that graphically depict the dire consequences of smoking. We’ve made smoking cessation programs far more widely available. And very importantly, we’ve increased the excise taxes to make cigarettes purchased in our city the most expensive in the nation at about $11 a pack.
“Here are the results of these efforts. Before 2002, the proportion of adult smokers in our city had been constant for many years; roughly 22 percent. Today, that has dropped to 14 percent – the lowest on record. There are now some 450,000 fewer adult smokers in our city than there were in 2002. That means we’ve already saved at least 1,500 lives a year. Most encouraging of all, the proportion of public high school students who smoke has been cut by more than half, from 18 percent to just 7 percent. And that will save even more lives in the years ahead.
“Such results can be – and must be – replicated worldwide. Because when it comes to preventing tobacco-related illness and death, we are in a race with time – a race we can’t afford to lose.
“Here is what is at stake: By the end of the decade, the WHO expects 7.5 million tobacco-related deaths worldwide, every year. Some 80 percent of these deaths will take place in the world’s low- and middle-income nations – nations where tobacco companies have stepped up their marketing briskly.
“As The Economist has put it: ‘The tobacco industry is getting the world’s poor hooked before governments can respond.’ Unless we do respond, the results will be one billion pre-mature deaths worldwide during the 21st century.
“That would be a calamity of the first magnitude – and that’s why I’ve also made tobacco control a major priority of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Since 2006, we’ve established partnerships with governments and citizens’ groups around the world to implement public policies designed to defeat the global tobacco epidemic. These policies are familiar to many of you. They carry out the intent of the historic ‘Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,’ the world’s first public health treaty, ratified by some 170 nations – and many nations are now taking action.
“For example, two years ago, the Brazilian State of Sao Paulo mandated comprehensive smoking-free public places. Since then, six more Brazilian States have followed. Turkey has adopted similar policies nationwide, and also mandated graphic cigarette pack warnings and raised tobacco taxes. And so far this year, Nepal, Lebanon, Argentina, and Ecuador and other nations have enacted comprehensive tobacco control laws.
“The progress we’re seeing on tobacco is encouraging action on other fronts as well. To attack diabetes and heart attacks, for example, in New York, we have also taken the lead in promoting healthier eating. In 2008, we became the first jurisdiction in the United States to require restaurant chains to post calorie information on menus and menu boards. Surveys now tell us that customers who observe these postings buy food with fewer calories.
“In 2009, we enacted the first restriction on cholesterol-raising artificial trans fat in the city’s food service establishments. Our licensing of street ‘Green Cart’ produce vendors has greatly increased the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods with high rates of diet-related diseases.
“We’ve led a national salt reduction initiative and engaged 28 food manufacturers, supermarkets, and restaurant chains to voluntarily commit to reducing excessive levels of sodium in their products. And we’ve mounted a public education campaign highlighting how consuming sugar-sweetened drinks contributes directly to the obesity epidemic that plagues far too many New Yorkers, especially our children.
“Bloomberg Philanthropies has also begun to address another major and non-contagious cause of death and disability in the world, with another vital change in the fabric of our daily life: Improving road safety, especially in rapidly motorizing nations.
“We’ve identified ten low- and middle-income countries that account for nearly half of all road deaths globally. And in partnership with governments and non-governmental organizations, we’ve begun to improve life-saving policies. That includes, for example, passing and enforcing seat belt laws, and laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets.
“We’ve also focused on traffic engineering that improves road safety; and on upgrading urban transport that not only unclogs crowded roads and streets but that also enhances air quality and quality of life. The problems of modern life are deeply inter-related. And so, thankfully, are their solutions.
“As the chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, I can tell you that improving transit, and other steps cities around the world are taking to shrink their carbon footprints, have the immediate, additional benefit of also improving air quality and public health.
“In fact, one of the key lessons we’ve learned is that making our environment healthier often creates such multiple benefits. And before leaving you, let me touch on four other lessons as well.
“First, we’ve learned that changing the social and physical environment is far more effective than changing individual behavior alone. Making workplaces and places of entertainment smoke-free; reconfiguring city streets to make them safer; creating ways for consumers to find healthy food. Such social and physical changes that make the healthiest route are also the ones easiest to follow.
“Second, and very importantly in today’s world, healthy solutions are not necessarily costly solutions. Far from it. New York’s smoke-free air act, our restrictions on trans fats, and our requirements concerning calorie posting in restaurants cost virtually nothing in public funds to implement. And raising cigarette taxes raises public revenues.
“Third, collaboration with the private sector – as in the national salt reduction initiative – and with non-government organizations – as in traffic safety efforts worldwide – are very important. Collaboration across borders, among national and local governments and agencies, is also critical. The challenges before us are too vast and complex for individual governments to overcome alone.
“But fourth and finally, while government action is not sufficient alone, it is nevertheless absolutely essential. There are powers only governments can exercise, policies only governments can mandate and enforce, and results only governments can achieve. To halt the worldwide epidemic of non-communicable diseases, governments at all levels must make healthy solutions the default social option.
“That is, ultimately, government’s highest duty. And one of the spiritual founders of the United Nations – America’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt – once put it: ‘The state’s paramount concern should be the health of its people.’ So why don’t we all resolve to renew our efforts now to address the worldwide crisis of non-communicable disease, and bring better health, and greater hope, to all the people of our good Earth.
“Thank you, and enjoy your stay in New York.”

Dividends will become more important and companies will increase them

 See my posts from 2 years ago that discussed that this would occur. Aivars Lode
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North America Equity Research

Microsoft: MSFT Increases Quarterly Dividend 25% & Continues Existing Share Repurchase Program
Click here for the full Alert and disclaimers.

Today Microsoft declared a quarterly dividend of $0.20 per share, a $0.04 or 25% increase over the previous quarter’s dividend. This compares to the $0.03 or 23% increase a year ago. Additionally, the company expects to continue its existing share repurchase program. We believe Microsoft’s desire to return cash to investors is a positive for shareholders.
·         *  Dividend payout. Microsoft is expected to pay the $0.20 dividend on December 8, 2011 to shareholders of record on November 17, 2011. The stock will trade ex-dividend on November 15, 2011.
·         *  Share repurchase. Microsoft also announced that it will continue its existing share repurchase program. The program was originally approved by the board of directors in September 2008 and is set to expire on September 30, 2013. As of June 30, 2011, the original $40 billion program has approximately $12.2 billion remaining. Some investors may have expected the balance of this program to be raised at this time.