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Are new security screenings affecting your decision to fly?

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Stepped-up security screening at airports in the wake of foiled terrorism plots has provoked an outcry from airline pilots and travelers, including parents of children who say they are too intrusive.

Industry officials, travelers and pilots have complained bitterly to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about new full-body scanners and more rigorous patdown checks begun recent weeks.

Security officials have defended the measures as necessary after foiled plots by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has tried to hide bombs in clothing and parcels that have made it aboard a U.S. passenger airliner and two cargo planes.

With the busiest holiday travel season nearing, fliers face long security lines and new rigorous patdown checks aimed at discovering hidden explosives. As a result, some travelers are questioning whether to fly at all.

Can Obama win re-election?

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While Republicans and Democrats pick up the pieces from the congressional elections, the 2012 White House race is already off to a vigorous start with President Barack Obama facing potential challenges from more than a dozen would-be Republican opponents.

Obama faces a bleak political landscape after voters punished Democrats for the sluggish economic recovery and handed control of the House of Representatives to Republicans.

from MacroScope:

Did France cause The Great Depression?

Economist Douglas Irwin of Dartmouth College has stirred up a bit of a fuss by concluding in some academic research that it was France, not the United States, that was most to blame for The Great Depression.

Irwin's theory, in a paper posted here by the National Bureau of Economic Research, is that France created an artificial shortage of gold reserves when it increased its share from 7 percent to 27 percent between 1927 and 1932.  Because major currencies at the time were backed by gold under the Gold Standard, this put other countries under enormous deflationary pressure.

Who’s to blame in foreclosure fiasco?

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The building furor over whether the largest U.S. mortgage lenders used so-called robo-signers and incomplete paperwork to force delinquent borrowers from their homes has mushroomed into a probe by the attorneys general in all 50 states.

An empty mail box is seen at the front door of a foreclosed house in Miami Gardens, Florida in this September 15, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/FilesThose on Wall Street, however, are largely unsympathetic, insisting that possible errors in the foreclosure process are beside the point and that the process begins only when a borrower starts missing mortgage payments.

from MacroScope:

Will China make the world green?

Workers remove mine slag at an aluminium plant in Zibo, Shandong province December 6, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

Joschka Fischer was never one to mince words when he was Germany's foreign minister in the late '90s and early noughts. So it is not overly surprising that he has painted a picture in a new post of a world with only two powers -- the United States and China -- and an ineffective and divided Europe on the sidelines.

More controversial, however, is his view that China will not only grow into the world's most important market over the coming years, but will determine what the world produces and consumes -- and that that will be green.

from MacroScope:

Who will win this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics?

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And the Nobel laureate for economics in 2010 is?

Thomson Reuters expert David Pendlebury might have an idea. At least one of the picks from his annual predictions of winners (economics, chemisty, and so on) has won a Nobel prize over the years. Here is his short-list for economics this year.

* Alberto Alesina of Harvard University in Massachusetts for research on the relationship between politics and macroeconomics, especially politico-economic cycles.

Will you buy the new BlackBerry Torch?

AT&T Mobility Chief Executive Ralph de la Vega holds the new BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone at a news conference in New York August 3, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

AT&T Mobility Chief Executive Ralph de la Vega holds the new BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphone at a news conference in New York August 3, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Research in Motion unveiled its new smartphone, the Torch 9800 SMA, designed to compete more effectively against Apple’s iPhone and handsets based on Google’s Android software. The BlackBerry Torch will go on sale on August 12 for $199.99 with a two-year service agreement.

Our WikiLeaks poll

Was it right for WikiLeaks to leak the Afghan war documents?

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WikiLeaks created a firestorm in Washington and Afghanistan last week when it leaked secret documents related to the war in Afghanistan.

The whistle-blowing website published tens of thousands of war records, a move the Pentagon said could cost lives and damage the trust of allies by exposing U.S. intelligence gathering methods and names of Afghan contacts. WikiLeaks is at least morally guilty over the release of the classified documents, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

from MacroScope:

What are the risks to growth?

Mike Dicks, chief economist and blogger at Barclays Wealth, has identified what he sees as the three biggest problems facing the global economy, and conveniently found that they are linked with three separate regions.

First, there is the risk that U.S., t consumers won't increase spending. Dicks notes that the increase in U.S. consumption has been "extremely moderate" and far less than after previous recessions. His firm has lowered is U.S. GDP forecast for 2011 to 2.7 percent from a bit over 3 percent.

from MacroScope:

Should central banks now sell gold?

Central banks in debt-strapped countries have a golden opportunity ahead of them, if you will excuse the pun, to help their countries' finances by selling their yellow metal holdings.

At least, that is the message that Royal Bank of Scotland's commodities chief Nick Moore has been giving in recent presentations -- and he thinks it might happen.   The gist is that gold is now at a record price but banks have not come close to  meeting their sales allowance for the year.

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