Friday, February 27, 2009

Followers on Blogger Blogs

Image representing Blogger as depicted in Crun...

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Since Google launched its Following feature during the autumn to help bloggers connect with fans of its blog and discover communities of people with the same interests, some three million communities are now linking with each other.

According to Google, there is one new person following a blog every second.

The company has announced it is integrating the Blogger Following feature with Google Friend Connect to give blogs expanded visibility across the web, as followers join other sites and share activities with friends.

“Blogger joins an open network of websites already using Friend Connect, and visitors can now follow any Blogger blog by signing in with their Google, Yahoo!, AOL, or OpenID credentials,” said Mendel Chuang, product marketing manager, Google Friend Connect.

“The blogs that readers start to follow will appear alongside the other Friend Connect sites they’ve already joined. Additionally, you can find some new blogs and websites to join by checking out the profiles of other followers.

“If you have a Blogger blog, and you’re already using the Followers gadget, you don’t need to do anything to get these new features up and running — we’ve already migrated all of the existing Followers gadgets to the new version with Friend Connect,” Chuang added.

By John Kennedy

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Inflation will be with us very soon – will it be hyper

WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 26:  Copies of the Obama...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Do you worry about the bailout programs and where the money to fund them is coming from? Are you concerned with the growing debt of Government and the rising deficit? Do you wonder what the impact will be if foreign investors decide to dump some of their holding in T-bills? Do you believe that the government will revert to printing money as a "solution" to the financial crisis? Do you wonder how you can protect yourself and your savings? Do you believe that you are being told the truth?

Then read the following article published on The Prudent Investor's blog site :-

“As the world wakes up to the fact that all currencies are created out of thin air by a simple entry into the electronic ledgers of the world's central banks investors begin to look for investments whose safety does not depend on an agency rating.”

Read the full article here...

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Online Marketing Spend

Fuqua School of Business

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CMO Survey Confirms Online Still Growing

    For quite some time now Internet marketers have experienced unbridled growth in the need and use of the medium. That growth recently has been threatened by the down economy and there has been impact across the board. For the most part the Internet marketing industry has had the good fortune of just seeing slowing growth. Many in the industry bristle at the thought of low double digit growth but in this environment getting greedy can be an unwise choice.

    The CMO Survey , a poll of 581 U.S. marketing executives conducted in February 2009. The survey was conducted by professor Christine Moorman of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in conjunction with the American Marketing Association and its findings are quite interesting.

    • 59 percent of marketers are less optimistic about the economy than they were one quarter ago, a reduction from the 77 percent of respondents who reported a decrease in optimism during the August 2008 CMO survey
    • Marketing spending is expected to grow by only 0.5 percent over the next 12 months, with a 7 percent decrease in traditional advertising and 10 percent increases in both Internet marketing and new product introductions . Business-to-consumer marketers will make the most significant shifts to the Internet, for both product and service advertising.

    “The observed shift is part of a broader movement to the Web and social media as key ways to reach customers. However, it also reflects marketers’ hopes for improving return on marketing investment with a cheaper and more effective set of tools,” Moorman said.

    The rest of the survey deals with the fact that lower prices will drive sales as well as new product development and market development. There appears to be less risk aversion despite the tough economic climate.

    All in all though there is less doom and gloom than there has been in the recent past. Since this survey is actually from this month it’s a nice change of pace rather than old statistics that many people like to trot out as evidence. So once again the Internet side of marketing is poised for growth. Let’s do ourselves a favor this time though. Let’s take ANY growth as a positive sign versus getting upset at not enough growth. No one is in position to look at growth these days and be disappointed.



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The European Financial Dilemma

Presidency insignia of the European Union

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Europe is torn between essential solidarity and national egoism

    This situation is now unsustainable for everyone, whether within the Eurozone or still out in the cold

    Everything is being stress-tested in this crisis. Europe, too. The weak points in the way the European Union has been put together, politically and economically, over the 20 years since the world changed in 1989, are all showing up. As we saw with the investment banks last autumn, if one bulkhead bursts, others are likely to follow.

    Start with the eurozone. To those that have it, the euro has been a source of stability and strength in this storm. Aspirants to membership of the eurozone, like Poland, pray that they were already members. Even in Britain, a discussion has revived about whether or not we would be better off with the euro. Yet at the same time, the stresses between different members of the eurozone are becoming acute. They go back to its original design.

    Asked for the first lesson he draws from Japan's decade of stagnation, a leading Japanese analyst says: you need the closest possible co-ordination between your monetary and your fiscal authority. The eurozone has one monetary authority but 16 different national fiscal authorities. They are, in practice, only loosely bound by a growth and stability pact, while subject to intense domestic political pressures - for democratic politics in Europe are still almost entirely national. This has consequences. So, for example, because eurozone governments have behaved differently over the years, their bonds have been valued somewhat differently in the markets. In times of crisis, these tensions increase. Safety first, says the investor. So even if the Greek government offers me a better return for lending it money, I may prefer to lend to the German government. The more investors think that way, the greater the difference grows. In the end, something has to give.

    Timothy Garton Ash

The Guardian, Thursday 26 February 2009

Read the full article here....

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Auto Suppliers Feel the Pain

DETROIT - JANUARY 8:  John Mendel, Honda senio...

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Trouble on the Assembly Line

For months Washington has focused on saving Detroit's automakers. But now the auto industry says it could face a bottom-up collapse if the suppliers supporting these automakers don't receive federal aid starting next week.

"We're on the cusp of what could be cataclysmic," said Aaron Bragman, an auto analyst with IHS Global Insight.

What now looks like a house of cards was built with a complicated trade credit system. Automakers pay their suppliers 45 to 60 days after the car parts are delivered. And these suppliers delay payments to their subcontractors for up to a year.

By Kendra Marr

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 26, 2009; Page D01

Read the full article here... 

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nationalizing banks in the USA is mission impossible

Posted Feb 24th 2009 10:10AM by Jim Cramer

What's at stake with nationalization? Why do I oppose it so much? Why do I feel that its proponents are glib and over their heads and have done no homework and do not have a stitch of rigor? Maybe because I think that nothing is impossible for those who don't have to do it themselves.
I have said again and again that as much as you may hate the bankers who got us here, it is well beyond the ken of this government to fix it. I have said that the analogies to the Swedish "success" of nationalization are chimerical, because the Swedish banking issues were small and manageable. I have said that you simply can't compare the two.

Read the full article here...
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10 Greasemonkey scripts you shouldn't browse without

Mozilla Firefox

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DownloadSquad by Jay Hathaway Feb 22nd 2009

One of the main draws for Firefox is how customizable it is, both in appearance and functionality. We've shown you some of our favorite Firefox themes, but if you're looking for more than a cosmetic change in your browsing experience, you should get to know Greasemonkey.
In case you're not already familiar: Greasemonkey is a Firefox add-on that allows you to apply powerful user-created scripts to the sites you visit. Scripts do everything from drastically changing the layout of a site to adding new menus or doing common tasks automatically. Greasemonkey can change a font that annoys you, or it can change the way you use your browser.

Read the full article here...

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Recession hits South Africa

The Union Building in Pretoria, South Africa.

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Recession hits SA as GDP shrinks by -1.8%

    GDP shrinks for first time in 10 years; car makers need R10bn bailout

    THE global economic storm has finally reached our shores.

    South Africa’s economy has shrunk for the first time in 10 years. With economists warning that we might already be in a recession and local car manufacturers approaching government for a R10-billion bailout, pressure is building on the Reserve Bank to cut interest rates more aggressively.

    Lihle Z MtshalI, Zweli Mokgata, Werner Swart and Kea Modimoeng

     Read the full article here...


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Obama’s address to Congress – Tuesday 24th Feb 2009

the 44th President of the United States...Bara...

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Prepared text of Obama’s address to Congress

    Text of President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday evening, as prepared for delivery and provided by the White House:

    Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, and the first lady of the United States:

    I’ve come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.

    I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has — a friend, a neighbor, a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.

     Read the full article here...


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    Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    Gold – A safe Haven?

    NEW YORK - APRIL 25:  A display board of the N...

    Image by Getty Images via Daylife


    Gold futures broke through the $1,000 level for the first time in nearly one year - with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at its weakest level since October 2002, investors continue to shift their investment dollars to gold.
    April gold posted an inside day with a lower close on Monday as it consolidated some of last week's rally, which spiked above last July's high crossing at 1005.30. The high-range close sets the stage for a steady to higher opening on Tuesday. Stochastics and the RSI are overbought but remain neutral to bullish signaling that sideways to higher prices are possible near-term. If April extends this year's rally, psychological resistance crossing at 1015.00 is the next upside target. Closes below the 20-day moving average crossing at 931.50 would confirm that a short-term top has been posted.

    Read the full article here.....

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    Where does the Global Economy go from here?


    The Spectacular, Sudden Crash of the Global Economy (Alternet)

      In a short period of months, the entire system of global capitalism has screeched to a halt. No one knows what happens next.

      The worldwide economic meltdown has sent the wheels spinning off the project of building a single, business-friendly global economy.

      Worldwide, industrial production has ground to a halt. Goods are stacking up, but nobody's buying; the Washington Post reportsthat "the world is suddenly awash in almost everything: flat-panel televisions, bulldozers, Barbie dolls, strip malls, Burberry stores." A Hong Kong-based shipping broker told The Telegraphthat his firm had "seen trade activity fall off a cliff. Asia-Europe is an unmit igated disaster." The Economist noted that one can now ship a container from China to Europe for free -- you only need to pick up the fuel and handling costs -- but half-empty freighters are the norm along the world's busiest shipping routes.  Global airfreight dropped by almost a quarter in December alone; Giovanni Bisignani, who heads a shipping industry trade group, called the "free fall" in global cargo "unprecedented and shocking."

      Read the full article here......


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      Monday, February 23, 2009

      More Aid for the Financial System


      Regulators pledge to shore up financial system

        Federal regulators said Monday they will launch a revamped program to shore up the nation's troubled banks that includes the option of increasing government ownership in financial institutions.

                        Music from Tumblr


                        18 of the Best Music Tumblelogs

                          tumblrnew Tumblr has long been a site that promotes outside-of-the-box blogging with inside-of-the-box restrictions. Originally just a short-form way to tumble across the web and quickly post photos, videos, audio, text, and quotes, Tumblrs everywhere now appear in all shapes and sizes. One very popular niche approach is to focus tumblelogs around celebrating the art form that is music.

                          The tumblelogs featured here are using the eclectic medium to creatively express and share their passion for music. From sites dedicated to educating you about the history of sampled tracks to quirky video-centric music hubs, and even oversharing music-making lifecasters, we’ve found 18 of the best tumblelogs to put you in a groovy music mindset.

                           Read the full article here...

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                        Britain Face Summer of Rage

                        Demonstrators march in the street while protes...

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                        Check this out

                        Britain faces summer of rage - police

                          Police are preparing for a "summer of rage" as victims of the economic downturn take to the streets to demonstrate against financial institutions, the Guardian has learned.

                          Britain's most senior police officer with responsibility for public order raised the spectre of a return of the riots of the 1980s, with people who have lost their jobs, homes or savings becoming "footsoldiers" in a wave of potentially violent mass protests.

                          Superintendent David Hartshorn, who heads the Metropolitan police's public order branch, told the Guardian that middle-class individuals who would never have considered joining demonstrations may now seek to vent their anger through protests this year.

                          He said that banks, particularly those that still pay large bonuses despite receiving billions in taxpayer money, had become "viable targets". So too had the headquarters of multinational companies and other financial institutions in the City which are being blamed for the financial crisis.

                           Read the full article here....

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                        Sunday, February 22, 2009

                        Is Gold going up or is the Dollar dropping

                        The United States: The Largest Ponzi Scheme in the World

                        Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Board o...

                        Image via Wikipedia


                        The Largest Ponzi Scheme in the World

                          Well, that does it for us. If Greenspan is in favor of it, we’re against it. No one man bears more responsibility for the present worldwide financial crisis and coming depression that Alan Greenspan.

                          The Fed’s job is to take the punchbowl away when the party gets too wild, said former Fed chairman William McChesney Martin. Greenspan did no such thing. As soon as the party began to quiet down and people began fumbling for their car keys, Greenspan added more rum to the punch and turned up the music. By the time the credit cops finally shut it down, people were dancing on tabletops all over the world.

                           Read the full article here....

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                        How did this Happen? (said with big eyes)

                        Twitter – Free SMS’s in SA again


                        Get Twitter tracking and free international SMS with Twe2

                          Filed under: , , ,

                          Remember when Twitter let you track your @replies and search terms, and when SMS alerts were free around the world? Well, I do, and I miss it.

                          Fortunately, Twe2 has come along to fill the void. The service lets you customize which Twitter alerts you want to get on your phone, when you want to get them, and how many you want per hour.

                          So far Twe2 has worked as promised for me, although it can be slow at times due to the volume of signups. This isn't a serious drawback, since Twitter alerts could also be slow, back when you could still get them. Twe2 is ad-supported so it can stay free, but a short text ad isn't that distracting and it doesn't keep you from getting complete messages.

                          The service could improve by switching to oauth instead of requiring a Twitter password, but for right now, I'm just happy to get @replies to my phone again.

                          Get Twitter tracking and free international SMS with Twe2 originally appeared on Download Squad on Fri, 20 Feb 2009 13:00:00 EST

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                        Saturday, February 21, 2009

                        What’s the Dollar Really Worth?

                        Gold – Hold on for a wild ride

                        A Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, the purest gold co...

                        Image via Wikipedia

                        Gold has just broken the $1000 barrier. But I don’t think that this is the big move in the price yet… that’s still to come and it can go through the $2500 mark.

                        The main reason is that central banks have started to print vast quantities of money and clever investors are losing faith in fiat currencies. Gold has always been seen as a refuge and that is still the case.

                        No matter that the Chinese are buying huge quantities of US T-bills and thus have an interest in keeping the dollar value high… given the size of the bailout packages in the US the dollar looks more and more overvalued. As the US dollar is the reserve currency where does one go? Gold is looking to be one answer.

                        As soon as the East starts to buy Gold rather that US T-bills there will be a huge surge in the price of Gold and who knows what the ceiling could be .. $2500 could be a new floor price.

                        What the promoters of fiat money might do then remains to be seen. I suspect the hunting down of the "speculators" followed by confiscation. This might be the penalty for undermining the entire global financial system?

                        Is Gold Mania on the Way? 

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                        Friday, February 20, 2009



                        Twitter starting to integrate search features at last

                          Twitter Search
                          It's been more than half a year since Twitter purchased the search engine Summize . And it looks like Twitter is finally starting to integrate search features into the micro-blogging service. You can already search for messages across the public Twitter network in near-real time by visiting . But soon you'll see a search box and Trends drop down menu on the main page of Twitter.

                          Right now these features will only show up for a handful of random Twitter users. But if the test is successful, Twitter could roll out the features to additional users soon.

                          If you don't want your messages to show up in searches, you can click the "Protect my updates" button in your account settings so that only people who you have approved will be able to see your messages.

                          [via VentureBeat ]

                          Twitter starting to integrate search features at last originally appeared on Download Squad on Thu, 19 Feb 2009 15:00:00 EST.


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                        SA Dagga Capital of the World

                        Cannabis sativa, scientific drawing.

                        Image via Wikipedia


                        We’re the dagga capital of the world

                          The Times – Thabo Mkhize

                          And hundreds of thousands abuse cocaine and tik, says a UN report

                          SOUTH Africans are the biggest dagga (also known as marijuana or cannabis) smokers in the world, with at least 2.5million citizens using the drug.

                          The country also has the most abusers of amphetamine-type stimulants, the most common being tik, with double the percentage of addicts than other countries. These shocking revelations were made yesterday at the release of the annual report of the international narcotics control board of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime. And a presentation by the department of social development at the UN launch showed that: 237000 South Africans are totally dependent on drugs and will feed their addiction at all costs; 1.97million South Africans are alcoholics; and alcohol abuse and drug addiction cost the economy R20-billion a year in accidents, injuries, assaults and medical treatment. These figures, said the deputy chairman of the Central Drug Authority, David Bayever, were based on studies by the Medical Research Council, the SA Red Cross and the police.

                           Read the full article here......

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                        US – China Trade

                        Timothy F. Geithner

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                        U.S.-China Trade Ties Erode Amid Accusations

                        By Ariana Eunjung Cha

                        Washington Post Foreign Service
                        Friday, February 20, 2009; Page A18

                          BEIJING -- The global financial crisis is bringing out the worst in the trade relationship between the United States and China.

                              After three years of largely friendly talks about economic issues, both in the past few weeks have blamed the other for the world's problems.

                              U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner accused China of "manipulating" its currency, vowing in written testimony submitted for his confirmation hearing that the United States would act "aggressively" to remedy the situation. The U.S. Trade Representative's office, in a harshly worded and wide-ranging complaint to the World Trade Organization in December, alleged that China uses cash grants, cheap loans and other subsidies to illegally aid its exporters.

                              China, for its part, has bashed the "Buy America" program embedded in the just-passed stimulus package, calling it "poison to the solution" of the global economic crisis. At the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos three weeks ago, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, without naming the United States explicitly, blamed the financial crisis on unsupervised capitalism.

                              "The crisis has pushed the China-U.S. relationship to a flash point. From now on, it will either become more stable or more confrontational," said Mei Xinyu, a trade expert with the Chinese Commerce Ministry's research arm.

                              When Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives in China on Friday as part of her first diplomatic visit as secretary of state, she said she hopes to broaden the bilateral dialogue to include climate change and human rights. But it is economic cooperation that will be at the forefront of many people's minds.

                              Read the full article here.....

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                            Thursday, February 19, 2009

                            Is the US heading for a depression?

                            By Steve Schifferes
                            Economics reporter, BBC News

                            US GDP

                            The sharp contraction of the US economy accelerated in the last three months of 2008, with official figures showing GDP shrinking at an annualised rate of 3.8%.

                            With forecasters already predicting the worst US recession since World War II, how big a danger is there that the US economy will slip into a depression similar to the 1930s?

                            The latest figures paint a gloomy picture of the US economy.

                            Consumer spending, which makes up two-thirds of the economy, fell for the second quarter in a row, by 3.5%.

                            Read the full article here.....

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                            Pearl Bay , Yzerfontein

                            Posted by Picasa


                            Yesterday was one of those perfect days and I walked down to the beach in front of the house and took this photograph. This really is a beautiful place to live and I am very fortunate to be here.

                            SAA – Here we go again

                            A South African Airways Airbus A340-600 in 199...

                            Image via Wikipedia

                            Unprofitable South African Airways (SAA) could not keep going without a big state capital injection, the national airline’s executives warned yesterday. – Linda Ensor, BusinessDay

                            SAA is expected to post a significant loss for the year to March for the third year running because of interest payments well in excess of R300m and losses from hedging against the volatility in the fuel price.

                            Higher fuel costs and falling passenger numbers have also contributed to its troubles.

                            SAA suffered a loss of R1bn last year, and its loss was R833m the year before.

                            SAA chief financial officer Kaushik Patel warned that the airline’s precarious financial situation was likely to deteriorate even further as it was severely undercapitalised and burdened by debt, which exceeded its equity by 10%.

                            Read the full story here......

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                            South African Passports


                            Passport production security tightened

                              Government has tightened up security around the production of South African passports, government spokesman Themba Maseko said.

                              Briefing journalists at Parliament in Cape Town following Cabinet's fortnightly meeting, he described the British government's recent decision to impose visa requirements on South Africans visiting the UK as "unfortunate".

                              South Africa had been working closely with British authorities on the security problems before the visa requirement was announced.

                              "They had sent a number of their teams to come and look at our processes and systems, and also to recommend additional measures that needed to be put in place.

                              "Unfortunately, the time frames given to address many of the challenges that were identified were just not sufficient.

                              "They had wanted these measures to be put in place by December, [but] a lot of the stuff that was put in place needed to be implemented in a time frame that goes beyond December.

                              "So we consider this decision to be unfortunate, but, again, it's a sovereign decision by a sovereign state, and we respect it."

                              Maseko said government's focus at the moment was "to make sure we do everything that is necessary to improve the security measures around the production of our passports".

                              Responding to a question on whether Britain would reconsider the visa requirement, he indicated this might be possible.

                              "We are convinced that the turn-a-round strategy [at Home Affairs], when it is fully implemented, all of these problems identified will have been addressed.

                              "We are in regular contact with the British government, and they have made it very clear that if and when those challenges are addressed, they may be able to review their position in this regard.

                              "I am not aware of any specific time frames, but we are in regular contact with the British government at... ministerial level to make sure we address their concerns," he said.


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                            Predicting the Financial Crisis

                            International Monetary Fund

                            Image via Wikipedia


                            Better a fox than a hedgehog

                              Now who should we listen to?

                              CAN we blame the “experts” for not predicting the financial crisis? I don’t know of any scientific method that could have perfectly called and timed it. Some things were very troubling—global imbalances and the housing bubble—but did it have to get this bad? There were probably a myriad of ways it might have played out, some even worse, some better (remember the IMF hoping for a happy and gradual unwinding). How can you predict a tepid, inconsistent government reaction (economists suffered a touch of hubris there) and market panic? Human behaviour is tough to predict and when humans try to anticipate what other humans will do—you can get a big mess. Philip Tetlock, a professor of organisational behaviour at the…..

                              Read full article here....

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