November 23, 2005


China admits toxic spill is threat to city's water (Jonathan Watts, November 24, 2005, The Guardian)

A river of toxic water was coursing towards one of China's biggest cities last night, threatening to contaminate local pipes and forcing millions of residents to prepare frantically for four days without water supplies.

The government admitted that water supplies in Harbin, in north-eastern China, could be compromised by a chemical spill that released more than 100 times the safe level of benzene into a major river 10 days ago.

Toxic fears spread hundreds of miles along the Songhua river from Heilongjiang province across the Russian border, but the panic was most intense in Harbin itself, where local media said crowds were fleeing the city through the railway station and airport.

MORE (via JAB):
Is this a last hurrah for the ol' greenback? (Ambrose Evans Pritchard, 24/11/2005, Daily Telegraph)

The world's two richest men have both lost a slice of their fortunes this year betting against the dollar.

Microsoft's Bill Gates said with fulminating certainty in Davos last January that it was time to "short" the greenback. "The ol' dollar is going down. It is a bit scary. We're in uncharted territory when the world's reserve currency has so much outstanding debt," he said.

His friend Warren Buffet kept pace, switching $22billion (£13billion) of Berkshire Hathaway funds into foreign currencies. He said it pained him as an American, and broke the habits of a life-time. But a country living so far beyond its means with a zero savings rate and a current account deficit nearing 6pc of GDP was about to pay the inevitable price.

Indeed, the world was "choking on the diet" of surplus dollars, he said.

Well, the mighty dollar has surged more than 16pc against both the euro and the Japanese yen since Davos. But is it possible that Mr Gates and Mr Buffet were just a year too early?

The inevitable price of American economics is our $50 trillion net household worth.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 23, 2005 10:58 PM

I'm in L.A. today - and all the expressways are shut down, what with the hundreds of thousands of protestors from Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and all those other environazis milling all over the roadways with their protest signs that condemn China for this environmental disaster.

Yeah, right!

Posted by: obc at November 23, 2005 11:45 PM

OT: found this at Lucianne:

Is this a last hurrah for the ol' greenback?
By Ambrose Evans Pritchard

Posted by: Sandy P at November 24, 2005 2:48 AM

OJ: could you please spell out what you mean by both this post and your comment, in three or so sentences:

"The inevitable price of American economics is our $50 trillion net household worth."

Posted by: B. Fuddled at November 24, 2005 12:31 PM


These nitwiots who say we have no savings just mean that we don't have any passbook savings accounts. In point of fact we've saved $50 trillion in our 401k's, houses, etc. even after deducting consumer debt. Take away the entire national debt and we're still up over $40 trillion. No wonder folks are desperate for our bonds.

Posted by: oj at November 24, 2005 12:40 PM

Gee, we never have toxic spills here. Our cities never flood.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 24, 2005 4:57 PM


What does that have to do with whether the Chinese system has a future?

Posted by: oj at November 24, 2005 5:02 PM