When Diplomacy Breaks Down; Say Hello to the 21st Century Tennessee Valley Authority; Japan Considering Time-Travel to Strengthen Market Position

Wayne Ellis

When Diplomacy Breaks Down (YahooFinance)

Representatives from both China and the European Union (EU) remained at loggerheads during the weekend as neither side appeared ready to budge on the issue of solar panel sales. According to those siding with the European Trade Commission, China has been engaged in “dumping” or selling solar panels below cost in Europe. At the same time, China also stands accused of pressuring individual countries to break ranks with the rest of the EU when it comes to solar panel pricing. Should the two sides be unable to hammer out an agreement by June 6, 2013, the EU is expected to join the United States in imposing trade sanctions on solar panels and communications gear made in China. With current U.S. sanctions at about 30 percent, another similar tariff seriously could tilt the trade balance over the summer.

Say Hello to the 21st Century Tennessee Valley Authority (Bloomberg)

If any “good” can be salvaged from last week’s I-5 bridge collapse in Washington state, it’s that the spotlight may now be on addressing America’s aging, bridge network. The focus sure has sharpened in the Pacific Northwest, where 134 bridges in Washington alone have been classified as “structurally deficient.” While government officials say that “no imminent danger” exists from these bridges, you’d have a hard time convincing people who used to cross the Skagit River via the I-5 bridge — up until last week. In fact, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 11 percent of all bridges in the U.S. are “structurally deficient.” Yet, this situation seems tailor-made for a President looking to put Americans to work and bring safety back to over-land transportation. Should the administration be able to add 2 + 2 and get 4, the opportunity for a nationwide jobs program, reinforcing our aging infrastructure is a strong possibility. And for investors with a keen eye for opportunity, the companies that land such infrastructure contracts could provide profits for many years. Now all we need is for leaders of the deficit-plagued government to set the right priorities… Gulp.

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Japan Considering Time-Travel to Strengthen Market Position (JapanToday)

In a move that could be considered a science-fiction solution for a very real problem, Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose has suggested that his country travel ahead in time to gain a competitive economic advantage. Specifically, he suggested that Japan move to “standard time” across the nation, which would mean the country adjusts its clocks ahead two hours to gain the jump on Australia and become the world’s first market to open each trading day. Lest you think Mayor Naoki has lost his grasp on reality, this wouldn’t be the first time a country has “changed time” to suit its economic needs. In 1982, Singapore and Malaysia unified their standard time. There’s also the more well-known case in the United States when the government first enacted daylight savings time in May 1918 (during World War I to lengthen the workday). Should Japan actually go through with this change, it certainly will shape the markets going forward.

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