Daily Reading – Friday, March 11, 2011

FT Alphaville: Japan, a quake update

It began mid-afternoon — 2.46pm local time, to be precise — with the kind of gentle shaking that one accepts as part of Tokyo life, but rapidly developed into a rolling series of violent upheavals that ravaged northeast Japan and shook up Tokyo and neighbouring towns.

FT Alphaville: Earthquake – from Japan to the States, and back again

No, this is not about those very scary-looking tsunamis, which are hitting Hawaii now.

FT Alphaville: Japan’s uncool problem

The big question facing almost everyone in quake-rocked Japan now is……

What exactly is going on with the country’s nuclear power plants?

FT Alphaville: Insurance in the ring of fire

How many years has Japan been preparing for the ‘big one’?

On Friday it hit — the 8.9 magnitude quake that hit off the coast of north-eastern Japan is the seventh-largest on record, and far outstrips the 1995 temblor in Kobe.

FT Alphaville: Meanwhile in Europe…

Greece five-year spread to bunds: +15bps  1232bps
Portugal five-year spread to bunds: +18bps to 522bps

And Spanish bonds — well, they were pretty much unchanged on the day.

The Big Picture: Kobe Earthquake’s Impact on the Nikkei and $/Yen

First, our thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese.   They are a great nation and a good people.  Watching this happen unfold in  real time is stunning and we are hoping for a miracle that the loss of life is limited.  We were living in and lost a house in a powerful L.A. quake and understand the fear when the earth shakes.

Though it is too early to assess the full damage of this quake, the following chart illustrates how the January 17, 1995 Kobe Earthquake, which measured 7.3 and killed 6,434 people, impacted the Nikkei and $/Yen.   The Nikkei fell 24.6 percent before bottoming at the end of June.

unexpectedutility.com: Forecasting Yesterday

Past academic research has investigated the forecasting ability of financial market analysts, but few have been as comprehensive as a new study[1] led by Dr Markus Spiwoks; it covers some ten years of interest rate forecasts in 12 developed economies, almost 160,000 forecasts in total. The results are not flattering.

CNBC: Saudi Arabian Unrest: Thumbnail Summary of a Potential Crisis

A map provided by the US Energy Information Administration shows the Eastern Province city of Qatif, where the troubles are now concentrated, to be located near the heart of a key oil field—and adjacent to a strategic Arabian port.

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