Wolf Richter

Tokyo Tidbit: A Gruesome Bone Business

520,000 Japanese soldiers died in the Philippines during World War II. Years later, the Japanese government began to search for and repatriate their remains. The process worked well for decades, but then someone had the smart idea to outsource it.

Geithner: The Truth Could Cause Significant Damage

During his congressional testimony, Geithner fretted that the crisis in Europe could undermine confidence. Alas, bank stress tests were supposed to inspire confidence—yet one of the “safest” banks just collapsed. If inspiring confidence isn’t based on facts and transparency, it’s a con game.

Euro Tidbit: The Lies of ‘Stress Tests’

Bailed-out Dexia, a major Belgian-French bank, is kaput again and will be broken up. Bondholders and counterparties will be bailed out. As usual, taxpayers will foot the bill. But remember the “stress tests” in July?

The Ugly World Of Auto Sales

The media giddily reported the September auto sales numbers—though there was little to be giddy about. They were still 20% lower than September 2006. Toyota and Honda got slammed, but don’t blame post-earthquake inventory shortages. They have been resolved. It’s a shift in the market.

Prying Into the Brain

A dream—or nightmare—yields to scientific progress: quantitative models recreate thoughts, and brain signals control mechanical devices. Yet, the brain is an unreliable organ that makes up for shortcomings in data with profuse creativity. It’s going to be a wild ride. And Google and Facebook will have a field day.

Japan is Running Out Of Butter

And now they blame it on the weather! Particularly the record heat that suffocated the country during the summer of 2010. Turns out, dairy cows are less fertile when it’s too hot, and that set in motion a chain reaction.

Deflation In Japan and its Chances in the US

Deflation phobia broke out again. Fed governor Bullard grumbled about inflation expectations being too low and threatened to print more money, while deflationistas paint the Japanese “deflation spiral” as sheer horror. So here is my experience with that horror.

Alas, in one category, deflation has hounded us for 10 years.

Reform Rebellion In Greece

Another avalanche of demands and plans to bail out Greece rolls over the Eurozone, but Greek society is digging in its heels. The prime minister talks a good game with foreign leaders when he promises reforms, but his own ministries just pulled the rug out from under him.