Oil may be up, but Russia, strangely, is down. Commodities prices, on which Russia's economy is ever dependent, have been rising for the past several months, leading some economists to predict a return to 3 percent growth (from the current negative-10 percent) by next year, and even higher figures in the future.
You can't hold a good banker back, it seems. I had to laugh when I read the cover of the FT this morning, with a story on how Goldman Sachs, Barclays and others are finding ways to soften the burden of the new capital requirements being imposed on them in the wake of the financial crisis.
The green shoots keep coming in the US, but Continental Europe is still in a deep economic slump. I keep seeing forecasters changing their predictions of recovery from 2010 to 2011.
For the last few months, there's been a lot of talk about how the financial crisis will be an opportunity for strong emerging market companies with good balance sheets to undercut their Western competitors and gain global market share, ultimately building the sort of name brands that are still owned mostly by Western blue chips.
I'm spending the week in Guangdong, the southern-most province of China and the first to open up to outsiders in the 1980s. It's the world's factory, where most of the stuff that's Made In China gets made – and that's why I'm here, on an East-West Center fellowship studying the effects of the financial crisis in Asia.
That's the premise of a new book by a longtime source of mine, Jeff Rubin, the former chief economist for CIBC World Markets in Canada. I remember back when oil spiked to $147 in July of 2008, I interviewed Rubin about how nosebleed oil prices would change the world.
Economic statistics might seem a dry topic, but it's actually full of colorful anecdotes. We hear a lot, for example, about how hard it is to gauge what's going on in the ever-important Chinese economy because economic reality and the numbers to support it are basically made up by Beijing.
Last summer's gas price spike ($4 a gallon and beyond) helped push the U.S. further into recession. So, now that oil prices are starting to move higher, with lots of smart folks predicting another peak in the next year or so, should we worry about higher prices at the pump again?
I'm still here in Hawaii for one more day, hearing Asian economic experts talk about the impact of the financial crisis on the region. To me, one really interesting fallout of the crisis is how quickly the Chinese are turning their relative economic power into political power.
Whatever the case, it's clear the banking sector as a whole won't be in great shape. As Capital's analysis shows, even after Treasury injected some $200 billion into ailing banks in the last quarter of 2008, tier 1 capital (that's the good kind) only rose by about $20 billion.