GO
Loading...

NetNet

More

  Wednesday, 16 Mar 2011 | 10:45 AM ET

How to Help Japan

Posted By: John Carney
Rescue workers carry a body from the rubble of a village destroyed by the devastating earthquake, fires and tsunami March 16, 2011 in Kesennuma, Miyagi province, Japan.
Paula Bronstein | Getty Images
Rescue workers carry a body from the rubble of a village destroyed by the devastating earthquake, fires and tsunami March 16, 2011 in Kesennuma, Miyagi province, Japan.

The international outpouring of support for the people of Japan has been a truly wondrous thing to behold.

It’s heart-warming to see so many individuals around the world seek out ways to help in the wake of the serial disasters Japan has suffered. The noble charitable instinct at work behind things like the “help Japan” poster campaign should be applauded.

It’s difficult in these situations to be the one trying to provide some sober thoughts about how we can most effectively respond and channel our charity. Unfortunately, the truth is that ear-marking donations in response to disasters is largely counter-productive. It would be far better if those who feel drawn to help use this as an occasion to make a general donation to international aid agencies.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières \(MSF\) specifically avoids support campaigns based around specific emergencies. Here is their logic:

» Read More
  Wednesday, 16 Mar 2011 | 10:01 AM ET

Kan Flack Makes Me Less Scared

Posted By: Nicole Lapin
Japan prime minister Naoto Kan
Getty Images
Japan prime minister Naoto Kan

As you recall, I was less than impressed yesterday with Prime Minister Kan's spokesperson's response to my simple question: "Do you have the situation under control?"

» Read More
  Wednesday, 16 Mar 2011 | 9:12 AM ET

Obama's Top Housing Policy Adviser Becomes Mortgage Banker Lobbyist

Posted By: John Carney

A key adviser to President Barack Obama on housing and mortgage policy is set to become the head of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Barack Obama
AP
Barack Obama


Now I'm pretty cynical about politics. But this news made me stop and gasp.

David H. Stevens announced last week that he was leaving the Federal Housing Authority last week. At the time, he said he had no plans for his future employment. But, as it turns out, he's becoming a lobbyist.

The Washington Posts's Dina Elboghdady reports:
After joining FHA in July 2009, Stevens quickly emerged as a major player in crafting the Obama administration’s housing policy. He’s been deeply involved in several high-profile initiatives that involve the mortgage banking industry, including current negotiations that will determine what kinds of fines and penalties might be imposed on mortgage servicers who took part in shoddy mortgage foreclosure practices.

A key adviser to President Barack Obama on housing and mortgage policy is set to become the head of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

» Read More
  Wednesday, 16 Mar 2011 | 9:09 AM ET

US Banks Face 'Small' Exposures to Japan

Posted By: Ash Bennington
  Wednesday, 16 Mar 2011 | 9:05 AM ET

Waking up With Nicole Lapin

Posted By: Nicole Lapin
lapin_waking_up_200.jpg

Wednesday = #winning. Here's what you missed in the wee morning hours:

» Read More
  Tuesday, 15 Mar 2011 | 4:52 PM ET

Bahrain, Japan, And The NYC Subway

Posted By: Ash Bennington
  Tuesday, 15 Mar 2011 | 4:23 PM ET

Fed Says Recovery Is Firm, Jobs and Inflation On The Rise

Posted By: John Carney
Fed Chief Ben Bernanke Testifies to House Budget Committee
CNBC
Fed Chief Ben Bernanke Testifies to House Budget Committee

TheFederal Reserve’s statement reveals that the Fed believes the economic recovery is growing stronger, the labor market is improving, and inflation is creeping back.

Gone was the most negative language about labor market conditions. But gone also was the conclusion that measures of underlying inflation were headed downward.

Back in January, the Federal Open Market Committee said that although the economic recovery was continuing, the improvement was “at a rate that has been insufficient to bring about a significant improvement in labor market conditions.”

Today, the FOMC changed its tune. The economic recovery is no longer just "continuing"—it is "on a firmer footing. What’s more “overall conditions in the labor market appear to be improving gradually."

At the same time, inflation has crept back into the FOMC’s analysis. Back in January, the FOMC described measures of inflation as "trending downward." They’re no longer doing that. These days they are trending up, although at a "subdued level."

The Fed didn’t take any notice at all of recent events in Japan. It did note increasing commodities and energy prices.

"The recent increases in the prices of energy and other commodities are currently putting upward pressure on inflation. The Committee expects these effects to be transitory, but it will pay close attention to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations," the statement said.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 15 Mar 2011 | 3:14 PM ET

The End Of Nuclear Power Will Drive Up Japanese Demand For Oil

Posted By: Ash Bennington
Ferrybridge power station
Getty Images
Ferrybridge power station

While oil – and just about everything else but Treasuries -- sold off today in the wake of the Japanese nuclear crisis, oil prices may be poised to surge as demand for 'alternative' energy sources to replace lost nuclear power in Japan ramp up.

I spoke with Brad Schaeffer, CEO of INFA Energy Brokers, after the closing bell Monday to get his perspective on the global oil markets.

The situation in Japan remains grave , as workers struggle to regain control of the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

But when the crisis passes, the third largest economy in the world will need to begin planning how it will replace the energy production capacity it lost to the tsunami.

"Japan has some of its industry curtailed," Schaeffer says, "like auto and steel – but that's not going to last too long. People are starting to realize that there economy is not going to be shut down for long -- and they're going to have to start to look for alternative fuel sources."

In this context, Schaeffer means 'alternative fuel' in the exact opposite sense of what it usually denotes – as Japan turns from nuclear energy to burning fossil fuels.

As Schaeffer points out: "About 27 percent of their power needs come from nuclear plants. So if they take them all offline, they are going to have to compensate for the shutdown by running their generators on other fuels."

And oil will likely be the natural choice to replace.

The other option, on the fossil fuel front, is liquefied natural gas.

» Read More
  Tuesday, 15 Mar 2011 | 2:42 PM ET

Will Japan Crisis Spark Global Markets Correction?

Posted By: John Carney
Koriyama fire department staff check radiation levels of rescue personnel in Koriyama city in Fukushima prefecture on March 13, 2011.
JIJI Press | AFP | Getty Images
Koriyama fire department staff check radiation levels of rescue personnel in Koriyama city in Fukushima prefecture on March 13, 2011.

Fears of a serious nuclear catastrophe pushed Japanese stocks far lower in Tuesday trading.

But there is another problem building, and some fear it could lead to a much more widespread crisis in financial assets.

The problem is that banks, Wall Street firms and hedge funds have built up exposures to riskier assets over the past two years. Much of the 'smart money' has been chasing bargains—bottom fishing in sovereign debt, muni debt and financial sector securities.

If sentiment turns suddenly away from risky assets, some of these investors could find that there was no market for the risk they hold. Although there is no direct connection between, say, the situation in Japan and Illinois revenue bonds, a sharp pullback in risk tolerance could see these very different asset classes decline together.

In a crisis, assets that seem uncorrelated on a fundamental or technical basis can suddenly trade together. As the saying goes, in a crisis, all correlations go to one.

» Read More
  Tuesday, 15 Mar 2011 | 2:02 PM ET

Voice of Aflac Duck Gets His Goose Cooked

Posted By: Ash Bennington
Gilbert Gottfried
Getty Images
Gilbert Gottfried

Gilbert Gottfried, now the former voice of the Aflac duck, was fired on Monday by his employer for jokes he made about the Japanese tsunami on Twitter.

Gottfried's Twitter feed -- where the jokes originally appeared, along with lots of other humor that can't be republished by CNBC – is located here .

This isn't the first incident where a high-profile employee was fired over the content of a tweet. In July of 2010, Octavia Nasr, a former CNN Senior Editor covering Mideast affairs, was fired when she praised a controversial Muslim cleric who had just died . But the Aflac case is the first one, that I know of at least, where a celebrity was fired for tweeting jokes.

But Gottfried may be more than just a victim of his own bad taste and bad timing: He may also be a victim of Aflac's bad earnings exposure as well.

» Read More

About NetNet

  • NetNet is where you'll find the low-down and the high jinks of Wall Street. It's the place for insider stories, trader gossip, and tales of the foibles of the moneyed crowd and the culture of finance.Wall Street news and commentary served fresh all day long.

 

Wall Street