Economic news digest

Increasing use of nuclear energy requires more uranium, but we’re running out, apparently. And fast. Expect further debates on peak uranium.

The UN food security summit ends with platitudes but little action; the UN has launched a site to help the one billion internet users to feed the one billion hungry. But this is not just a third world issue: US hunger is at a 14-year high, with 49 million Americans now lacking adequate and consistent access to food. Analysis by state shows Mississippi has the least food security.

Martin Wolf writes the speech he thinks Obama should have made to Hu, which includes the (standard issue) demand for appreciation of the renminbi. But China has its own demands. It wants higher interest rates to slow the inflow of inflationary capital. Hong Kong has made the same request, raising the topic twice to San Fran Fed president Janet Yellen but eliciting only a promise to “monitor developments in asset markets much more carefully than we did going into the crisis.” Hong Kong called the issue “very contentious”. The Taiwanese central bank bought American dollars yesterday to slow appreciation of Taiwanese dollar.

Sovereign debt continues to grow. Qatar yesterday issued $7bn dollar-denominated bonds and Temasek has issued $500m of 30-year bonds – rumour has it that the sale took just 30 minutes to complete with two big investors already lined up. Meanwhile in the US, Larry Summers has pointed out that total American debt is falling, as rising government debt is outstripped by falling consumer and company debt. The implication is that if Asia loses appetite for American debt, it might not be such a big deal.

Company and sovereign ratings are still under threat. Banks should fear for their hybrid bonds – Moody’s has said three quarters of the securities could face downgrade. Meanwhile, Fitch may downgrade Mexico to BBB. And before those of you in richer countries dismiss this, sovereign CDS spreads indicate that uncertainty is as great for developed as for emerging markets.

Until America significantly reduces its emissions, it will have no moral standing in global climate discussions, says the NYT. The Economist agrees, arguing that the rich world should, at a minimum, help to pay for green infrastructure in developing countries. The rich world is, after all, enjoying positive spillovers from any green spending in emerging markets.

And does hanging around with tall people make you taller? “Viral” analysis techniques often used in research could be used to evidence this - and many other – dubious conclusions (which are undermined when controlling for environmental factors). Caveat researcher.

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