Better news from the Japan crisis today, as the nuclear power company Tepco appears to be on track to complete a power line to the Fukushima nuclear power plant this afternoon Tokyo time.
If they can start running water into plants No. 3 and No. 4, to replenish the spent nuclear fuel pools, then potentially the apocalyptic fright of massive radiation could be off the table.
No one knows, certainly not I. So much of this story is unknowable. But at least there’s hopefully some good news.
The human toll in Japan is already massive. That’s a tragedy. But if somehow the meltdown story leading to massive radiation can be stopped, that would be a sign of hope for the Japanese people and all the rest of us.
One of the many fear gauges for this story is the U.S. and world stock markets, including Japan’s. While the Nikkei fell 1.4 percent Wednesday, the Dow managed a 1.4 percent gain today, up 161 points. It could be nothing more than a relief rally.
Traders are pointing to a strong factory report from the Philly Fed and a solid manufacturing gain for the index of industrial production. You want to say that the U.S. economy will survive the Japanese crisis, and undoubtedly that view is correct. But no one can rule out a worst-case Japanese story. Not yet, anyway.