Saturday, November 14, 2009

Unsurprising News

A bunch of items I've been meaning to pass along, but not sure what to say about them. I realized a bit ago that what I can say is, "if you've been paying attention to current events, not one of these should come as a surprise." Confirming the obvious is neither necessarily easy nor unimportant, as I pointed almost exactly six months ago. In fact, confirming that your assumptions are accurate is an extremely important part of deciding how to move forward. Not that I'm expecting the leadership of this country to suddenly decide to move forward or anything.

Rich buying again, but middle class still hurting
American shoppers are splitting again: The affluent are finally starting to buy, picking up designer clothes at places like Nordstrom, while those on the lower economic rungs are still scrimping by, heading to Walmart for the basics.
Nevada gold production down, value up
The Nevada Mining Institute has just released the economic analysis of the Nevada mining industry for 2008. Gold production, which accounts for more than 80% of mining value in the state, dropped from 6.04 million ounces the year before to 5.7 million ounces, but the overall value was up to over $7 billion due to rising prices.
At $1,095 an ounce, Alaska's gold production soars
Miners are digging gold out of the ground in Alaska at a faster clip than they have in almost a century. Last year's gold production tipped the scales at 800,000 ounces. The last time that much gold was mined in Alaska was 1916.
On the other hand, if the world DOES happen to end as scheduled (as I've said before), I will be glad to let you say "I told you so" wherever we happen to end up...
Greenland ice loss accelerating
The Greenland ice sheet is losing its mass faster than in previous years and making an increasing contribution to sea level rise, a study has confirmed. Published in the journal Science, it has also given scientists a clearer view of why the sheet is shrinking. The team used weather data, satellite readings and models of ice sheet behaviour to analyse the annual loss of 273 thousand million tonnes of ice.
Palin's book goes rogue on some facts
Ignoring substantial parts of her record if not the facts, she depicts herself as a frugal traveler on the taxpayer's dime, a reformer without ties to powerful interests and a politician roguishly indifferent to high ambition. Palin goes adrift, at times, on more contemporary issues, too. She criticizes President Barack Obama for pushing through a bailout package that actually was achieved by his Republican predecessor George W. Bush -- a package she seemed to support at the time.
Not a jolly holiday for Oregon Christmas tree growers
Record-high prices in the early part of the decade persuaded increasing numbers of farmers to forego other crops and invest in Christmas trees, instead, he said. The nearly 1 million trees planted in 2004, for instance, nearly doubled the amount planted this year. But now, with all those trees reaching maturity, supply is far outstripping demand. As a result, a 7-foot-tall noble fir that sold wholesale for $25-$30 only three or four years ago will fetch maybe half that this Christmas season.
Western Oregon's agriculture is an odd, mixed bag, from my perspective: we're world leaders in the production of grass seed, hazelnuts/filberts, Christmas trees, berries and mint. The Willamette Valley also used to be a leader in hops production. Of all of these, Christmas trees are probably the most risky; a very narrow sales season, very labor intensive, a five to seven year lag between planting and harvest, and harvest requires subsequent replanting, or decision to grow another crop. It is estimated that as many as 90% of some farms' trees this year will be cut and burned.

Safe prediction: your Christmas Trees in 2015-17 will be very, very expensive, especially if you live in the west.

No comments: