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Snow tax

   Here is a note which I am posting with a question: can this go on?


     Senior NASDAQ OMX officials today announced that a record 33 Chinese companies, the most of any U.S. exchange, listed on Nasdaq in 2009. A total of 124 Chinese companies now list on Q, including 102 from mainland China, and 22 from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.


     Meanwile the decade of the teens has begun with snow, ice, and cold winds. Today the following message was received from M O’C:

     ''We have not had a winter like this here in Ireland in living or maybe even in dead memory. Completely unable to cope with it. It is so bad that even the drivers here in Kerry, who normally drive casually and at speed on all sides of the road simultaneously, are driving with care and a lack of speed. The wind-chill here in the extreme south-west is in such a hurry that it is not stopping off in Greenland or Iceland for a glass of Glühwein but comes now directly from the North Pole. When I walked up to the local shop for the papers, I had difficulty in detaching the icicle from the tip of my nose.......’’


     And he is not alone. We have extreme cold here in New York City and there are blizzards upstate. Of course in Quebec City, webmaster Roger has to shovel snow until at least April almost every year, but the amounts are high and there is a lot of ice this year.


     Moreover now my brother-in-law is shoveling away the stuff from his doorstep in South London. Stockwell is not very far south, but they have not had a snow dump like this for a couple of decades. Frida Ghitis writes about freezing cold in Atlanta which she is about to escape from again. The orange trees are frozen in Florida. My children are shoveling unusually large quantities of white stuff in Boston and Cleveland.


     There is 20-yr record snow in England and the airports are shut or slowed; the railroads are impassible and the roads dangerous because they have run out of grit. There is 40-year record snow in Beijing, where Tienanmin Square is blanketed with the stuff. Also record snow is Seoul. Most of northern Europe is shivering.


     In fact the only major developed country where there is no cold snap at this moment is Australia. (I have no idea about New Zealand, where we have just signed up our second subscriber, but I suspect it is summery there too.)


     The price of oil is rising because of demand for winter fuel. So too are the prices of other commodities whose extraction is being hindered by extreme cold, like copper and other metals. 


     These price increases will have the impact of a tax hike on the economies of the world (including the antipodes, because oil and metals are priced globally.) Taxes hurt growth.


     This cold snap and the resulting price rises will hamper and delay the global economic recovery. Stimulus will have to be maintained for longer to keep hiring, spending, and investing on the bubble, and to help the financial sector recover its bearings.


     DP World Ltd., the port operator whose parent Dubai World is in bankruptcy, told Bloomberg it will seek a London Stock Exchange listing to boost its valuation in H2. It is currently listed only in Dubai. We tried unsuccessfully to buy shares in the port operator right after the Dubai default; one of our subscribers managed to do the trade in Switzerland but I could not. It is trading at a significant discount from other port operators

     Bloomberg learned from Rami Sidani, who manages $250 mn as head of Middle East and North Africa at Schroder Investment Management Ltd. in Dubai that ''this move means more visibility for the company, as well as greater credibility as an international player.’’


     DP World is the 4th-largest port operator, behind Hong Kong’s Hutchison Port Holdings, Singapore’s PSA International Pte., and Denmark’s AP Moeller-Maersk. Moody’s rates it below investment grade, unlike its rivals, because of Dubai problems.


     Happy Epiphany. If it wasn’t so darn cold I would head for the French bakery and buy a galette des rois, a special almond paste pie, and cut it in slices looking for the bean. The finder gets to wear a paper crown. A crown (according to Frederick the Great) is a special hat that lets the snow fall on your head.