Currency Area – Basket Village USA Tue, 11 Jan 2022 16:38:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Currency Area – Basket Village USA 32 32 Environmental impact study: polluting in the name of the gods Tue, 11 Jan 2022 16:00:00 +0000

Are authorities willing to enforce the same strict restrictions on the massive burning of incense and phantom money in shrines and temples as they have with smokers?

  • By Steven Crook / Contributing Journalist

The first Monday of this year was also the first day of the twelfth month of the traditional lunisolar calendar. As they do at the start of each lunar month – and again on the fifteenth day – countless people across Taiwan have placed circular braziers in front of their homes and set themselves on burning bundles of incense paper.

The ritual burning of incense and joss paper (which English speakers sometimes refer to as ghost money, spiritual money, or votive money) is central to religious traditions and ancestor worship. Unfortunately, it has a noticeable detrimental effect on air quality, especially in urban areas.

Since some people start burning incense paper soon after dawn, children on their way to school are among those exposed to high concentrations of particulate matter (PM).

Photo: Steven Crook

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) website, on a page dated August 18, 2017, points out that burning joss paper produces oxides of sulfur, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and fine particles in suspension, as well as carcinogens such as benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

The same page states that in 2016, Taiwanese burned around 195,000 tonnes of joss paper and 21,000 tonnes of incense. Another estimate is that 280,000 tons of votive money go up in smoke every year. It takes about 24 trees to make one ton of paper. Some joss papers are made from recycled paper, but this can very well produce even more dangerous emissions.

Academia Sinica’s Center for Research on Environmental Change studied the air quality in and around temples. In 2014, he found that on days of significant religious activity, PM10 levels in large temples are 5 to 16 times higher than in a typical townhouse, while houses near temples display levels of increased PM2.5.

Photo: Steven Crook

Scientists from at least three local universities said the air quality in temples was often dangerous for staff and worshipers.

In 2018, EPA staff overseeing the Dajia Matsu pilgrimage in central Taiwan found that PM2.5 concentrations along the road were as high as 1,400 m / m3 (micrograms per cubic meter), due to firecrackers, fireworks, incense and joss paper. This is way beyond what is acceptable for humans. Last year, the WHO set PM2.5 targets of 10 to 35 μm / m3.

Activists are urging an end to the practice of burning incense paper since the time of Japanese colonial rule. Chiang Wei-shui (蔣 渭水), a pioneer of democracy and founder of the Taiwanese Cultural Association, argued that superstition and what he called “ugly customs” should be done away with.

Photo: Steven Crook

Chiang led by example. When her parents died, neither fictitious money nor candles were burned at their funeral. In one of his articles he classified the burning of joss paper as a defect just like the consumption of opium.


The temple lobby in Taiwan is powerful, and (contrary to what some religious leaders suggest) no central or local government unit has proposed to ban burning rituals outright. The authorities have tried various means of reducing the fire and smoke generated by popular religion, without much success.

Photo: Steven Crook

A campaign to get Taiwanese to burn “ghost credit cards” for their ancestors, instead of bundles of counterfeit bills, has clashed with the internal logic of ancestor worship. Like the living, the deceased need money to live comfortably. Some of the early ones have justified their reluctance to change this way: People who died decades ago, and perhaps never attended school, are unlikely to understand or trust cashless payment systems. .

On January 2, the Tainan-based China Daily News reported that a procession the day before, organized by the city’s Shengan Temple (勝 安 宮), created “dense smoke and severe air pollution. “. As a result, the temple would be fined up to NT $ 100,000. (On the same day, another temple in another part of Tainan was fined NT $ 30,000 for a celebration that violated noise limits.)

For many temples in Taiwan, NT $ 100,000 is not a lot of money.

Resistance doesn’t just come from superstitious people who believe disaster will surely follow if they don’t reconcile the gods and ghosts who inhabit other realms.

In 2017, Chen Wei-cheng (陳韋誠) – then a student in the graduate program on ethnicity and culture at National Chiao Tung University – denounced the government’s efforts to curb ritual burns in editorials published by the Think Folklore website (think.folklore. tw).

Chen described official requests that worshipers offer rice instead of sacrificing incense paper (以 米 代金), or replace burning rituals with meritorious acts (以 功 代金 or 以 善 代金), as ” absurd ”. Such approaches, he writes, were “imaginary alternatives, constructed by continually stigmatizing popular beliefs and the use of frankincense and incense paper as pollutants.”

Claiming that rice and joss paper play distinct and non-overlapping roles in sacrifice ceremonies, he asserted that the burning of incense and votive money “is the material basis of Taiwanese folk religion.”

His articles generated dozens of comments, few of which were favorable.

Taiwan’s indigenous community no longer practices headhunting, despite the cultural significance it once had, one person said. Another argued that joss paper is no more irreplaceable than the “divine pigs” who are fattened (often by force, until they can no longer stand) before certain Hakka festivals; this custom, which animal rights activists say is cruel, appears to be in decline.

Faith does not encourage extravagance and waste, said a third. Many expressed confidence that the gods would agree with policies that protect the environment. And one person put it this way, “The gods know what you are doing. Belief is the relationship between the individual and the gods, and it has nothing to do with burning incense paper.

Some temples have shown impressive leadership on environmental issues. Among them is the Puli Confucius temple (埔里 孔子 廟). He ended the incense paper sacrifices in 1961 and persuaded other shrines in the area to follow suit.

Other religious institutions are dragging their feet. Officials sometimes engage in whataboutism, saying the EPA shouldn’t force them to change, because the pollution caused by piles is only a fraction of that produced by factories and motor vehicles in Taiwan.

Small World, a student publication from Shih Hsin University, quoted Chen Yu-feng (陳玉峰), president of Songshan Ciyou Temple in Taipei (松山 慈 祐 宮) on May 11, 2018 as opposed to government efforts to reduce the use of incense and joss paper. .


The removal of censers and joss paper ovens might not matter for famous and wealthy places of worship such as Xingtian Temple (行 天宮) and Mengjia Longshan Temple (艋舺 龍 山寺) in Taipei, a- he declared. In recent years, both temples have chosen to “go green” and end all burning rituals.

However, Chen hinted, it would reduce the number of people attending (and buying joss paper) at smaller shrines, compromising their ability to stay open.

Chen said Ciyou Temple donates environmentally friendly firecrackers to affiliated shrines, while the joss paper and incense now used inside the temple are approved by SGS. He urged the government to help local businesses make frankincense and frankincense paper without the use of harmful chemicals.

Stressing that authorities should not limit religious expression, Chen said temples should make changes on their own. However, the history of many industries shows that simply waiting for people to do the right thing rarely produces ideal results.

A July 5, 2017, China Times article about a rally of temple leaders quoted one as saying “centralized cremation” – the collection of incense paper offerings so that they can be burned in a waste incinerator equipped with pollution control technologies – was “humiliating to believers.”

More and more temples have installed scrubbers in their joss paper ovens. According to Lo Yu-yun (羅玉雲) 2012 doctoral thesis on this type of equipment, dry (bag filter) scrubbers remove up to 99% of particles, while wet scrubbers are about 70% efficient.

Such systems are not prohibitive. Lo said the cost of a dry washer capable of handling 40kg of joss paper per hour is around US $ 10,000. A wet scrubber can cost half that. Operating expenses are not high, but dry scrubbers are rare because they require a lot of floor space.

Joss paper ovens with scrubbers do nothing to reduce popular religion’s carbon emissions. In fact, it’s like adding filters to cigarettes: an excuse not to quit.

Authorities have shown themselves ready to upset Taiwanese smokers with increasingly stringent taxes and restrictions. Will they show the same determination when it comes to the smoke, ash and smell associated with religious traditions?

Steven Crook, author or co-author of four books on Taiwan, has been following environmental issues since arriving in the country in 1991. He drives a hybrid and carries his own chopsticks. The opinions expressed here are his.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Comments containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. The final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

The Mount Isa Crime, Monday January 10 Mon, 10 Jan 2022 00:48:00 +0000

Property crimes, Mount Isa

A 12-year-old boy has been charged with a number of property offenses in Mount Isa, both recently and in late 2021.

In November, it was alleged that he and other youths entered an unlocked vehicle at a McIntyre Street address and removed a headlamp.

They then reportedly entered the home through an unlocked door and removed a second headlamp. The group was disturbed by an occupant and fled.

At around 2 a.m. on December 28, it is alleged that he and other youths entered a vehicle parked on Barton Street, using previously stolen vehicle keys and drove it away from the address.

The damaged vehicle was located on a dirt road behind Barton Street at around 7:10 a.m.

At approximately 2:55 a.m. on January 3, it is alleged that he and other youths entered a vehicle parked in a rear parking lot of licensed premises on Rodeo Drive, smashing the passenger’s window.

Once inside, it is alleged that they found and removed $ 4000 in Australian currency and a bag of drugs. CCTV captured the violation.

At around 12:05 p.m. on Saturday January 8, it is alleged that he entered an unlocked vehicle parked at a Camooweal Street gas station and began to search the cabin.

The boy reportedly locked himself in the vehicle when he realized he had been observed by a witness. The police arrived a few minutes later and arrested him.

A 12-year-old pioneer has been charged with two counts of entering premises and breaking and entering and one count each; enter premises with the intention of committing an indictable offense, burglary and committing an indictable offense, the illegal use of a motor vehicle and possessing the pipe which had been used.

He has been denied bail and is due to appear in Mount Isa Juvenile Court.

Property offenses and assault causing bodily harm, Mount Isa

In the early hours of December 25, it is alleged that a boy entered a West Street residence by smashing a kitchen window.

Once inside, it is alleged that he located and removed two bottles of alcohol, a wristwatch and other jewelry, makeup items, a portable speaker and a sum of Australian currency.

In addition, he allegedly unwrapped several Christmas presents, but took no items.

At around 10:25 p.m. on January 2, he and another youth entered a courtyard in Nambut Crescent to access a nearby address.

Once inside the neighboring courtyard, they reportedly made their way to a downstairs storage area and stole food from a refrigerator.

The boys then returned to the adjoining yard, but were chased away by an occupant.

At approximately 2:10 a.m. on January 3, it is alleged that he and his co-offenders entered an address on Rebecca Street, skipping a back fence and then gained access to the accommodation, through the back door.

Once inside the house, they allegedly stole five bottles of alcohol, a laptop computer, a wallet, vehicle and motorcycle keys.

The occupant awoke and the group fled, only to return shortly after and allegedly attempted to steal the vehicle parked in the driveway, also taking a spare key left in the glove box.

The male victim allegedly confronted the boy, who was sitting in the driver’s seat and attempted to get him out of the vehicle. The couple continued around the vehicle, until the boy armed himself with a piece of wood.

It is alleged that the others involved started throwing stones at the victim and that he was also hit in the chest by the piece of wood, which caused a scratch on his chest and affected the movement of the victim. his right arm. CCTV captured the violation.

A 17-year-old pioneer has been charged with three counts of burglary and indictment and one count each; attempted illegal use of a motor vehicle, assault causing bodily harm while armed, and trespassing.

He was denied bail and was returned to Mount Isa Children’s Court at a later date.

Five other people were charged last week in connection with the offense.

An 18-year-old Sunset man, two 16-year-old Pioneer boys and a 15-year-old Pioneer boy have each been charged with burglary and indictment, attempted illegal use of a motor vehicle and assault causing bodily harm while armed.

The three youths have been denied bail and are due to appear in Mount Isa Children’s Court at a later date. The 18-year-old was released on bail to appear in Mount Isa Magistrate’s Court on January 17.

A 21-year-old Pioneer man has also been charged with receiving contaminated property in connection with the case and is due to appear in Mount Isa Magistrates’ Court on January 17.

Enter with intention, Urandangi

At approximately 12:20 a.m. on Saturday January 8, it was alleged that a boy entered an authorized Hutton Street location and removed three cartons of alcohol.

A 17-year-old pioneer has been accused of entering premises and committing a criminal act in connection with the case.

He was charged with a second count of entering premises and a criminal act for committing a similar crime in August 2021, where he allegedly stole two cartons of alcohol from the same establishment.

He has been denied bail and is due to appear in Mount Isa Juvenile Court.

Attempt to break gas station, Mount Isa

At approximately 3:20 a.m. on Saturday, January 8, police were dispatched to a Camooweal Street gas station in connection with a man attempting to enter the store.

Police arrived a few minutes later and located a man who matched the description given. He was then arrested. The offense was captured on CCTV.

A 33-year-old man from Soldiers Hill has been charged with attempting to enter the premises with intent to commit an indictable offense.

He received a notice to appear in Mount Isa Magistrates’ Court on March 7.

If you have information for the police, contact Policelink by providing the information using the 24 hour online suspicious activity form at

Anonymously report criminal information through Crime Stoppers. Call 1 800 333 000 or register online at

Cite these reference numbers: QP2101657957, QP2102162648, QP2102401232, QP2102415069, QP2200011869, QP2200012793, QP2200012849, QP2200014185, QP2200033113, QP22000392584726, QP2200012793, QP2200012849, QP2200014185, QP2200033113, QP22000392584726, QP2200012793

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Suspects used Sterling Heights condo, secret compartments in car to hide fentanyl – Macomb Daily Sat, 08 Jan 2022 16:11:37 +0000

According to federal agents, two men used a Sterling Heights condo and hidden vehicle compartments stored in an auto transporter parked at Lakeside Mall to hide hundreds of grams of fentanyl.

Jeremy Brent Joshua, 33, of Detroit, and Frederic Arthur Haynes, 39, of California, have been named in a criminal complaint accusing them of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute controlled substances. Joshua is also accused of being a criminal in possession of an AR-15 rifle.

They are both in federal custody pending further court dates.

In total, authorities confiscated $ 298,990 in suspected drug products and 18 kilograms of fentanyl, records show.

“With the coins secreted in hidden compartments and 990 net grams of fentanyl with the Acura coins, I think the coins were the proceeds of the sale of drugs that Haynes, Joshua and potentially others had distributed,” he said. writes an investigator in court. records.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, since March 2020, the couple has been the subject of an investigation in connection with a drug trafficking organization. Haynes would get hundreds of grams of fentanyl in California and travel to meet Joshua where they repackage it at homes in Sterling Heights, Harper Woods and Detroit, court documents show.

Federal agents said that during one of Haynes’ previous trips to Michigan, authorities seized drugs and drug products from trap compartments discovered in vehicles the two men dropped off at a car dealer. The couple were seen delivering the vehicles – an Acura and a Honda Accord – to a car transporter in the Lakeside Mall parking lot near the corner of Hall Road and Schoenherr Road, records show.

Before each vehicle delivery, Haynes and Joshua pulled up to a condominium on Pendleton Circle, in the Canal and Schoenherr road area in Sterling Heights. They would back the cars from an attached garage where investigators believe they were hiding the activity of loading the compartments of the traps, according to court documents.

Investigators continued surveillance after the car transporter left the mall parking lot carrying both the Acura and Accord that the couple had delivered. After observing several traffic violations, a marked unit of Michigan State Police, under the direction of DEA investigators, arrested the car transporter.

A K9 drug detector alerted both cars to the presence of drugs, and a search of the Acura revealed a concealed compartment in the backseat of the vehicle that contained 990 grams of fentanyl and $ 140,020 in cash.

A search of the Honda Accord revealed a hidden compartment in the vehicle’s dashboard that contained $ 159,000, according to records.

Federal agents have determined that Haynes provided a phone number as the contact number for picking up vehicles with the name “Damien Hayes”. This is likely a pseudonym for Haynes in an attempt to hide his identity and association with the transporter cars, court records show.

Records show the couple allegedly had a single-family residence on Lappin Street, near Seven Mile and Kelly Roads, in Detroit, and an apartment on Fleetwood Drive in Harper Woods, which officers said were linked to drug trafficking.

When the DEA executed a search warrant on the Sterling Heights condo, it seized approximately 11.6 kilograms of suspected fentanyl from a gym bag in a closet, investigators said. .

Officers also seized a one-kilogram press – used to repackage brick medicine – with about 1.45 kilograms still in the Detroit home press, as well as 4.96 kilograms of fentanyl.

Investigators also seized an unloaded DPMS AR-15 rifle with a magazine from a bedroom closet. The gun is not manufactured in Michigan, so it traveled in interstate commerce, according to the criminal complaint.

Haynes has a criminal record in three different states, including a 2011 conviction for possession of a controlled substance and a 2013 conviction for delivering / manufacturing a controlled substance, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Haynes was released from parole in February 2019.

Records show Joshua was previously convicted of possession of marijuana, possession of controlled substances, firing a felony, carrying a concealed weapon and unloading a gun in a building.

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UK construction growth hits three-month low; eurozone inflation hits all-time high of 5% – business live | Business Fri, 07 Jan 2022 11:31:07 +0000

“The housing market defied expectations in 2021, with quarterly growth reaching 3.5% in December, a level not seen since November 2006. In 2021, we saw the average house price hit new records eight times. , despite the fact that the UK is subject to a “lockdown”. ‘for much of the first six months of the year.

“The lack of spending opportunities available to people while restrictions were in place helped increase household cash reserves. This factor, along with the Stamp holiday and the race for space due to working from home, will have prompted buyers to push forward on home purchases that could have been planned for this year. The expansion of government employment and income support programs has also supported the labor market and may have given some households the confidence to make purchases.

“The lack of available-for-sale homes and historically low mortgage rates have also helped push annual home price inflation to 9.8%, its highest level since July 2007.

“Looking ahead, the prospect that interest rates may rise further this year to combat rising inflation and mounting pressures on household budgets suggests that house price growth will slow significantly. We expect house prices to maintain their current high levels, but growth from the past two years to be at a slower pace. However, there are many variables that could drive house prices up one way or the other, depending on the impact of the pandemic on the economic environment. “

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Kroger Soft launches grocery delivery in Atlanta Wed, 05 Jan 2022 15:45:55 +0000

The Kroger grocery chain continues to roll out new Customer Processing Centers (CFCs) and expands door-to-door delivery with its latest soft launch in Forest Park, Georgia from its 375,000 square foot automated warehouse, according to reports.

The $ 55 million automated CFC is located just south of Atlanta and is the fourth facility that Kroger has said it is opening as part of its automated fulfillment network. The largest supermarket chain in the United States, the Atlanta-area CFC is one of the largest.

CFCs combine vertical integration, machine learning and robotics with rapid delivery of fresh produce and basic necessities.

See Also: Kroger Plans Northeast Market Expansion With Planned Delivery Fulfillment Centers

The company also opened a 48,000 square foot delivery “radius” in Indianapolis last month, which will work with the Monroe, Ohio “hub”, according to a press release. The move brought grocery delivery services to 35 central zip codes in the Indianapolis area.

Also last month, Kroger announced plans to open a 200,000 square foot CFC in Concord, North Carolina, powered by the UK-headquartered Ocado Group. Following the site’s grand opening, the facility, located about 30 miles from Charlotte, is expected to open next year and provide up to 700 jobs over the next five years.

Read more: Kroger opens first Ocado-powered distribution center

Based in Monroe, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, Kroger is also committed to opening CFCs in Dallas; Frédéric, Maryland; Phoenix; Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin; Romulus, Michigan; California and Florida.

The Kroger Fulfillment Network currently operates CFCs in Groveland, Florida and Monroe, Ohio. The Monroe facility, its first, measures 375,000 square feet. The Groveland facility is located just west of Orlando and is a new geography for Kroger which does not have an in-store presence.

“Kroger Delivery is an integral part of our vibrant ecosystem and is transforming grocery e-commerce and meeting a range of customer needs through the introduction of the first of its kind technology in the United States developed by Ocado,” Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of Kroger, said in a press release upon the CFC’s announcement.

“Kroger’s continuing and growing ecosystem continues to expand, and we are committed to doubling both our digital sales and our rate of return by the end of 2023, and Kroger Delivery will help us achieve this. objective, ”he added.

You may also enjoy: 5 Digital Developments Transforming The Food Trade



On:More than half of American consumers think biometric authentication methods are faster, more convenient, and more reliable than passwords or PINs, so why are less than 10% using them? PYMNTS, working with Mitek, surveyed over 2,200 consumers to better define this perception gap in usage and identify ways in which businesses can increase usage.

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Cryptowire rolls out the ‘Cryptocurrencies Ic15’ global index Tue, 04 Jan 2022 03:26:00 +0000

CryptoWire, a crypto super app, announced on Monday the launch of India’s first cryptocurrency index, IC15, with the aim of building knowledge about the blockchain ecosystem. The index tracks and measures the performance of the top 15 liquid cryptocurrencies widely traded and listed on the world’s major crypto exchanges, CryptoWire said in a statement.

An index that captures more than 80% of market movements is therefore a fundamental tool for monitoring and evaluating the market to base decisions and improve transparency, he said. Over the past few years, cryptocurrencies have become an asset class on their own, gaining wider acceptance and arousing people’s interest.

Also read:

The Cryptocurrency and Official Digital Currency Regulation Bill, 2021, was included in the Lok Sabha Bulletin-Part II for introduction during the recently concluded winter session, but could not be presented to Parliament by the government. CryptoWire’s Index Governance Committee, made up of subject matter experts, industry practitioners and academics, will maintain, monitor and administer the index while rebalancing it on a quarterly basis, he said. , adding that the base value of the index is set at 10,000 and the base date is April. 1, 2018.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, Litecoin, Binance Coin, Chainlink, Polkadot, Uniswap, Dogecoin, Solana, Terra, Avalanche and Shia Inu will be the constituents of IC15.

At the launch of IC15, CryptoWire Managing Director Jigish Sonagara said, “This will not only push the ‘learn before you win’ initiative, but also serve the industry with another powerful intervention. Our approach is to facilitate the development of the market and mitigate the risks to a large extent by presenting all the possible tools to assess the possibilities and make decisions. ”Overall feelings of the market, he said.

It is worth noting that the government, RBI and SEBI have warned people against cryptocurrencies which could be a “high risk” area.

First publication: STI

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BUSH: A look back at the 2021 economy | Local news Sun, 02 Jan 2022 15:00:00 +0000

The year in brief. 2021 has been a year of economic and commercial recovery – a recovery tempered by the delta variant of the coronavirus but a rebound nonetheless.

In the United States, economic indicators were up significantly this year, some strikingly. As more industries fully opened up in the first half of the year, pent-up consumer demand for goods and services grew rapidly, but supply was unable to keep up in many sectors.

Inflation has made a comeback and analysts were divided over whether it would ease in the near term or persist at high levels. Cheap oil has become a memory, as has cheap gas. Congress has spent much of the year trying to compromise on a multibillion-dollar infrastructure bill, and more recently has begun work on debt limitation and budget legislation. Around the world, supply chain issues and ongoing immunization efforts have tempered global growth.

The American economy. Overall, consumers increased their spending in 2021 and this boosted gross domestic product. The economy grew at an annualized pace of 6.3% in the first quarter, then 6.7% in the second; the Conference Board and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta are forecasting 3.5% and 1.3% of annualized GDP for the third quarter, respectively, given the summer slowdown in the delta variant.

A rush of pent-up money and stimulus payments contributed to an increase in personal spending this spring – a record 12.0% jump in the second quarter. Federal spending grew at an annualized pace of 4.2% in the first quarter, also playing a role in this year’s economic recovery.

The unemployment rate has continued to decline from its recent high of 14.7% (April 2020). The Ministry of Labor measured 6.3% unemployment in January; in September, there were only 4.8% unemployed and 7.7 million people unemployed. These figures are still lagging behind February 2020, when there was 3.5% unemployment and 5.7 million people unemployed.

Federal government data showed consumer inflation hit 5.4% in September. The Federal Reserve made no adjustment to benchmark interest rates despite inflationary pressure this year. At its September meeting, however, it decided to gradually reduce its monthly purchases of securities and bonds and end its current economic stimulus campaign in mid-2022. CME Group’s FedWatch tool, a private sector barometer of the likelihood of benchmark interest rate changes, predicts that the central bank will make at least one rate hike by September 2022.

US stock indices performed well in 2021. Heading into Halloween, the Standard & Poor’s Composite Index was up 21% year-to-date.

The S&P 500 is a group of unmanaged securities considered representative of the stock market in general. The performance of the index is not indicative of the past performance of any particular investment. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Individuals cannot invest directly in an index. Investing involves risk and investment decisions should be based on your own goals, time horizon and tolerance for risk.

The return and principal value of investments fluctuate with changing market conditions. When sold, investments may be worth more or less than their original cost.

The world economy. The International Monetary Fund estimates global GDP at 5.9% for 2021, followed by a 4.9% expansion next year. Among its growth forecasts by country for 2022: 5.2% for the United States, 5.6% for China, 4.3% for the euro zone.

Manufacturing slowdowns and trade issues related to the pandemic have rocked the Chinese economy this summer. The official estimate of the Republic’s GDP in the third quarter was 4.9%, down from the annual growth rate of 7.9% in the second quarter. The same problems plagued the eurozone, where inflation hit a 13-year high in September.

Global demand for oil has strengthened this year as key economies regained full steam. An oil rally gathered pace, pushing the price of WTI crude above $ 84 at the end of October (a seven-year high). The price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, simultaneously exceeded $ 86 (a three-year high). Retail gas prices also increased in 2021.

MSCI’s EAFE Index, which tracks the performance of international stock indices, rose about 9% for the year as Halloween approached. Among the major foreign indexes, India’s Nifty 50 and Sensex were leading this fall, with YTD gains approaching 30%. Brazil’s Bovespa has been the worst performer among the consequential indices, falling by almost 11% since the start of October.

MSCI EAFE is an unmanaged index that tracks developed foreign equity markets. Sensex of India and Bovespa of Brazil are considered representative of their respective markets. Individuals cannot invest directly in unmanaged indices. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

International investments involve additional risks, including differences in financial reporting standards, exchange rates, political risks specific to a specific country, foreign taxes and regulations, and the potential for illiquid markets. These factors can lead to greater volatility in stock prices.

Look back, look ahead. In the fourth quarter, investors saw what could be a very good earnings season. As of Oct. 22, 23% of S&P 500 member companies had released their third quarter results, with the S&P 500 blended earnings growth rate of 32.7%, according to market analysis firm FactSet. The combined profit growth rate combines actual results for companies that have published and estimated results for companies that have not yet published.

If that percentage holds, it will be the third year-on-year earnings growth rate for the index since 2010. What worries Wall Street are forecasts. Businesses are facing higher costs than a year or two ago, some due to inflation, others to supply chain disruptions and COVID-19; this could hurt 2022 profits.

The inflationary pressure we see now could linger until 2022. Less Fed bond purchases mean less liquidity in financial markets – and a rate hike could take place next year.

Some analysts are concerned about these factors and their possible impact on stocks, but overall the Federal Reserve is forecasting 3.8% growth for the economy in 2022. If that turns out to be true, it would be the second best GDP figure since 2004.

Consumer spending, the housing market and the labor market all appear to have gained momentum and may continue to be so strong until 2022.

As a reminder, fall and winter can be volatile on Wall Street, and short-term volatility doesn’t always warrant a reaction. Experienced investors with a long-term view know that volatility is part of the investment process, and investors with a shorter time horizon should consider their risk tolerance and overall investment goals.

On the way to a wonderful year 2022.

This information should not be interpreted by a client or potential client as the provision of personalized investment advice. All investments and investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy, including those discussed in this document, will be profitable or will equal historical performance levels. Investment strategies such as asset allocation, diversification or rebalancing do not ensure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment losses. Any benchmark benchmark is not a prediction or projection of actual investment results and there can be no assurance that a target will be achieved.

Stacy Bush works for Bush Wealth Management.

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Why 2022 won’t see India and the United States become global strategic partners Sat, 01 Jan 2022 06:30:47 +0000

The United States is a world power – the strongest militarily, the most technologically advanced, in addition to being the largest economy in the world. She shaped the post-WWII order based on her needs. It believes in the universality of its values ​​and its exceptionalism, is interventionist and in many ways controls international political and financial institutions. It extends its domestic law to foreign countries as necessary to achieve its foreign policy objectives, using the threat of sanctions to achieve compliance. The status of the US dollar as a global reserve currency gives the United States enormous financial clout through its control over all global dollar financial transactions. It can block foreign funds, limit access to its capital markets and impact the world with its monetary policies.

American military might was challenged by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian challenge diminished. The United States views Russia today as a regional power, not a global one, and has humiliated it with repeated sanctions and more threats if its conduct does not meet American approval. The United States has abandoned many of the critical Cold War-era disarmament agreements, such as the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) and INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) treaties, implying that they will not see them more as a strategic equal. NATO was extended to Russia’s borders despite its opposition.

China is now challenging American might in a way the Soviet Union could not. China is now the second largest economy, the largest exporting country and the world’s manufacturing center. It is the largest trading partner of the United States, which limits the ability of the United States to deal with it, unlike the case of the Soviet Union or Russia with which the United States had or is linked. minimal economic. America has created dependencies on China that it cannot get rid of. China controls many critical global supply chains for raw materials and manufactured goods, a reality that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought back to the United States and the rest of the world. China is using its enormous financial resources and infrastructure building capabilities to expand its international reach through the Belt and Road Initiative. It now possesses military deterrence capabilities and is expanding them with space technology, maritime power and nuclear arsenal.

All of this is relevant to India as it rises and aspires to play a leading role in international governance in the years to come. To what extent can India’s ambitions be met by relying more and more on the United States, which will inevitably result in restricting India’s foreign policy choices, or maintaining as much Whether its foreign policy independence can be achieved at the cost of a dilution of US support for the achievement of our political, economic and security objectives remains a key question. Is it possible to maintain a balance between our ties with the United States and other centers of power so that we can gain the most and lose the least?

Charting a new course

Since 2005, our relations with the United States have moved in a new direction and have been gradually strengthened. With no other country are our ties so extensive today. The United States is our largest national trade, investment, and technology partner. Our knowledge economy is closely tied to the United States. Ideas for economic management, regulation and reform come to us from the United States. On the defense side, a major transformation has taken place, with massive Indian acquisitions of American defense equipment, the signing of fundamental agreements, the expansion of military exercises – bilateral as well as plurilateral – easier access to military technologies. American and dual-use, shared strategic concepts such as the Indo-Pacific and membership in forums like the Quad. Both countries stress the shared values ​​of democracy and human freedoms as constraining factors, which resonate against the backdrop of the growing threat of authoritarianism to the international system. People-to-people ties to the United States run deep with the Native American community of over 4 million people, nearly 200,000 Indian students at American universities, and strong academic ties.

At the same time, there are underlying currents in our relationships that cause irritation, raise doubts and negatively affect relationships. The liberal press in the United States helps create negative perceptions about India through its biased reporting. US human rights organizations target India on issues relating to minorities, religious freedom and democracy. US laws have interfered with our relations with Russia and Iran. US policy in Afghanistan has ignored our security interests, while its policy of gentleness towards Pakistan remains a cause for concern.

While the United States has supported our confrontation with China in Ladakh on a diplomatic level as well as through the provision of certain necessary equipment and the sharing of intelligence, the main axis of our strategic ties is in the maritime domain. This undoubtedly serves our interests because the maritime challenge of China is set to grow and must be met bilaterally and through the Indo-Pacific concept and the Quad as well. We must continue this cooperation, knowing that US support for our ground confrontation with China will be limited.

The signals from Afghanistan are clear. The United States takes no position on sovereignty issues in Ladakh. Even in the East and South China Seas, the United States does not take a position on these issues even if it involves its allies, while India is not one of them. In the Indian Ocean, the United States is seeking burden-sharing that India can provide, given its geographic location and the strength of its navy. India has broadened its choices in this regard, as it is already cooperating with France in the Indian Ocean. With the EU, UK and Germany also developing their Indo-Pacific strategies, broader cooperation in this area to deter Chinese expansionism is taking shape.

Maintain freedom of choice

Whether the United States is leading the way in 2022 over India as a global strategic partner suggests that India is ready to be one across the board, but the United States is reluctant. The reality is that both countries want to retain their freedom of choice in this regard. The United States does not want to take responsibility for India’s defense, and India does not seek it either. For the United States, this would mean a fundamental change in its policy towards Pakistan and increase the risks of a direct conflict with China. For us, the management of our relations with Russia, which remains our greatest defense partner, with longer-term relations being built in this area, would become unmanageable, given the deepening of the conflicting relations between it. and the United States. Already, the Russian-Chinese strategic link is strengthening. If India and the United States strengthen their ties to levels that effectively allow the development of an alliance-type situation, strengthening the Russo-Chinese axis may well become an answer.

American and Indian policies are also not congruent in all areas. Becoming a global strategic partner would involve India partnering on policies, areas and issues, including the UN, on which our interests as a regional power and developing country differ from those of the United States. as a world power and an advanced economy. In any case, if one assumes that we need the United States to counter China, with whom our relations have entered a period of prolonged uncertainty and tension due to its open hegemonic leadership, we would be in the process of make a strategic mistake. We must take into account the growing opposition in the United States to involvement in wars abroad and the perceived need there to devote more attention to solving problems at home.

Until now, India has preserved its strategic options quite effectively by strengthening its ties with the United States without loosening them with Russia and by effectively seeking ways to expand these ties in the economic field, and by keeping the same ties. channels of dialogue open with China despite the military confrontation. at the border. India is already behaving like a great power in a certain sense, demonstrating its ability to deal with conflicting relationships. It subscribes to the Indo-Pacific concept, deepened its commitment to the Quad, instituted 2 + 2 dialogues (Foreign and Defense Ministers) with the United States, Japan and Australia (now also with the Russia), is developing another Quad eastward with the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and is, at the same time, a member of the BRICS and the SCO and still participates in the Russia-India-China dialogue. This policy is best suited to advancing the interests of India as an emerging country in which all other great powers have a stake in the future. With this policy, India can further strengthen its ties with the United States in areas of mutual interest and interest. Despite the differences, the nature of ties with the United States has shifted from a lack of trust and feelings of resentment to a friendly and constructive engagement.

A global strategic partnership between the United States and India means a solid understanding of global issues and a sharing of global responsibilities. If India supports multipolarity, wants reform of the international system hitherto dominated by the West, has developing country perspectives in negotiations on various issues facing the international community, wishes international inequalities to be reduced , such a comprehensive strategic partnership is an unrealistic proposition. What can be achieved and is becoming a reality is closer alignment on issues of common interest and a friendly, non-contentious dialogue on issues on which we still have different perspectives and interests.

The author is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs. He has served as Indian Ambassador to Turkey, Egypt, France and Russia. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the position of this publication.

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]]> Central bank plans to release digital currency by 2024 Thu, 30 Dec 2021 22:32:47 +0000

Mexicans will be able to use a digital currency issued by the central bank later this decade, the federal government said on Wednesday.

President López Obrador’s office said in a Twitter post that the Bank of Mexico (Banxico) has announced that it will put its own digital currency into circulation by 2024.

However, sources from Banxico cited by the newspaper Milenio said the bank had not released any documents on the matter.

The president’s office said the central bank considers “new technologies and advanced payment infrastructure” to be “of the utmost importance” because of their ability to “advance financial inclusion”.

According to the financial website Investopedia, a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, is a virtual form of fiat money – a government-issued currency that is not backed by a physical commodity such as gold or silver. silver.

“A CBDC is an electronic record or digital token of a country’s official currency. As such, it is issued and regulated by the country’s monetary authority or central bank, ”Investopedia said.

“… CBDCs can simplify the implementation of monetary and fiscal policy and promote financial inclusion in an economy by integrating the unbanked into the financial system. “

The Bahamas and Nigeria are the only countries to have already launched CBDCs, but other countries are expected to follow suit in the years to come.

Banxico’s CBDC plans come just two months after the launch of a blockchain-based currency – the hoozie – that can be used in the Guadalajara metropolitan area.

The world’s best-known blockchain-based currency, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in Mexico, but recent survey shows just over 12% of Mexican adults have invested there. .

Earlier this month, Elektra became the first retail chain in Mexico to accept bitcoin. Its billionaire owner, Ricardo Salinas, is a Bitcoin enthusiast. He indicated his support for the CBDC plan by responding to the government’s Twitter message with a smiley emoji.

With reports from Milenio

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Charities launch NFT craze with mixed financial results Wed, 29 Dec 2021 16:11:52 +0000 On GivingTuesday, officials at New Jersey-based Sostento healthcare charity learned they would receive a donation of around $ 58,000 by the end of the week.

The donation was unlike anything the nonprofit had received before. It comes from the proceeds of the sale of a non-fungible token, or NFT, for a digital artwork titled “The NFT Guild Philanthropist – Healthcare Heroes”.

You’ve probably heard of DTVs. They are built on the same technology that underpins digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. These digital assets were in the limelight in March 2021 after Mike Winkelman, known by his artist nickname Beeple, auctioned off an NFT for $ 69 million at Christie’s. Think of a DTV as an act or token associated with a digital work of art, such as an image, audio recording, or video. This token can be used to keep track of the provenance of the file and the sales history, allowing someone to prove ownership of the asset.

While the technology was created to give artists more control over their work, NFTs have sparked a frenzy as collectors seek to cash in. As this speculation intensifies, a growing number of charities have started to explore NFT-related fundraising efforts. While some NFT charity auctions have brought in mind-boggling amounts of money, others have had limited success. To complicate matters, NFTs use new technologies that generate many questions for accountants and regulators.

The Guild Philanthropist NFT sold for 6.3 Ethereum, the equivalent of about $ 28,000. The artist made a donation corresponding to the sale price. For Sostento, accepting the donation was quite simple. The organization worked with Giving Block, a nonprofit that helps other charities accept cryptocurrency, to convert the crypto to US dollars. The NFT will also continue to benefit charities in the future. It was created with a provision that requires the proceeds from future sales to be donated to charity.

But there is still a steep learning curve associated with NFTs and cryptocurrency, said Joe Agoada, CEO of Sostento, which develops software and communications products for the healthcare industry. Accountants advising Sostento have cautioned against directly accepting NFTs and other cryptocurrencies. It was crucial to work with a middleman to convert the DTV product from ones and zeros to dollars and cents.

“It took a long time to figure out how we could actually make this possible,” Agoada said.

Sostento wasn’t the only group to see a bargain from these new tokens last week. Giving Block officials said they helped process around $ 1 million in charitable donations on GivingTuesday from the proceeds of the NFT auctions. And on December 7, Giving Block will launch the inaugural NFTuesday, a day focused on promoting NFT-derived philanthropy.

Some nonprofits have joined the fray with the NFT to reach a wider audience.

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