A few updates

Michael Raffety


After my column about the Chinese stock market blunders came out the American stock market went berserk, exceeding my cautious connection between the two markets.

One of the biggest effects on the American stock market was the inability of ETFs to keep their prices current. Part of the problem was that some of the stocks included in some ETFs were subjected to temporary trading halts when they exceeded a certain percentage change and partly they got clogged up with one bank’s computer system that pretty much handles the bulk of ETFs.

ETFs are supposed to act like mutual funds, except that they aren’t, which is why I never trusted them. They might as well be puts and options or Black Jack for all I care.

China, I learned from the Aug. 24 Wall Street Journal, “accounts for 15 percent of the global output but has contributed up to half of global growth.” Because China’s economy is shrinking from its proclaimed 7 percent growth to what expert analysts are pegging at closer to 4 percent, a lot of countries that sold raw materials to China are in an economic pickle, being tagged out between second and third base. Home plate is out of the question, especially for the BRICs. Brazil’s economy is shrinking, its president has an 8 percent approval rating and crowds are calling on her to resign. Russia can’t get the Chinese to finance an arctic natural gas exporting terminal. India is still having trouble appropriating land for roads, ports and airports. In China the Germans can’t sell BMWs, Audis and Mercedes-Benzes even at a discount.

Here are some other factoids from an Aug. 17 WSJ column by Ruichir Sharma, head of emerging markets and global macro at Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

“This decade China has accounted for a third of the expansion in the global economy, compared with 17 percent from the U.S. – a role reversal of the preceding decade. The contribution from the other giant economies – Europe’s and Japan’s has fallen to less than 10 percent.”

While the U.S. and Europe muddled through the 2008 recession China ramped up public spending to humongous levels, so that as of 2013 its debt as a share of the economy hit 300 percent. Sharma labeled that as “the single most reliable predictor of economic slowdowns and financial crisis.”

Government poop

 While those crackpots in the California Legislature think we’re all going to give up our cars to ride the bus, an article in the San Francisco Chronicle shows why we have lousy highways and it’s so expensive living in California.

A farmer in Pennsylvania who raises 30,000 hogs a year built a power plant that runs on the methane gas resulting from 7 million gallons of pig poop. For this California will pay him thousands of dollars from the cap and trade funds.

This is just one of 50 farms from around the country that the California Air Resources Board is paying for to offset “greenhouse gas” emissions.

Think about that each time you fill up your tank at the gas station.


 I started a PowerPoint celebration of my mom’s life three years ago. It is thorough and entertaining. My kids and cousins want copies of it.

I wish I had done the same for her obituary. I relied on the detail I developed in the PowerPoint presentation when I wrote her obituary. It was an intense day of concentration to write her life story for the newspaper.

For days afterward I thought of things I should have said about her, especially civic endeavors she participated in Sunriver, Ore. The final memory that came flooding back to me, though, was the summer she was nurse for the camp at Spirit Lake at the base of Mount St. Helens. I spent the summer learning to row and turning the boat on a dime, plus swimming in the lake and diving off the boat dock or picking huckleberries.

That lake and its many camps and lodges disappeared with the May 18, 1980, catastrophic eruption of Mt. St. Helens. A smaller lake drained by a manmade tunnel took its place.

All one can do is tell the story as it comes to you on the day you write it. I felt like I told a pretty good story about my mother. If I could pass on any advice it would be to think like the New York Times and pre-write obits for your aging parents. They are biographies. If you start earlier enough you can update it and get fascinating information by getting your folks to talk about themselves and write down some notes immediately afterward.


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