China recommends plant-based diet

As more Chinese people migrate toward western-style diets, obesity and other diet-related diseases are on the rise.  The Chinese Ministry of Health is looking to be proactive and is now recommending that citizens limit meat, egg and diary intake.

An added bochinadiet_finalnus is that by following the recommended intake cut in China, global greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to reduce by 1.5%.

Growing awareness on this key issue is good news for the planet, since numerous studies have concluded it is animal-based agriculture and consumption–more than fossil fuels and transportation–that is causing the largest share of global greenhouse emissions (15 to 51% depending on what is measured).  See  What China’s move to cut meat could mean for the planet:

…Our everyday food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, help improve global health, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future. While innovation in plant-protein and even cultured meat is underway (so people can still enjoy their favorite foods), by simply reducing meat consumption, we can begin to lower the impact of our diets.  With governments from Sweden, Brazil, the Netherlands, the UK, and now China, all taking action to include “more plants, less meats” recommendations in their dietary guidelines, it is now up to the rest of the world’s leaders [and thinking consumers] to follow suit. The future of our planet and health of our population depends on it.”

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Gross on managing capital risk through monetary mania

“I’m working on it, because I’m an investor that ultimately does believe in the system, but believes that the system itself is at risk.”

Central bankers, seeking to stimulate economies, have lowered rates below zero in Europe and Japan, driving down returns on national debt, while investors seeking higher yield have pushed up the value of other credit. Stimulus from central banks worldwide has artificially pushed up values of stocks and credit, which has made Gross cautious on such assets, he said.

Eliminating credit as an investment means “not buying stocks, not buying high-yield bonds,” Gross said.  Here is a direct video link.

Meanwhile global capital seeking shelter from other markets continue to move into US Treasuries driving so-called ‘safest’ yields lower in a vote for continued deflation.
10 year treasury yield May 26 2016

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Mortgage madness continues: 3% down, risk backed by taxpayers

“Low risk for the bank”…well with taxpayers underwriting the risk of capital loss, and bank bailouts and social payments to families when credit busts, recessions, job losses and foreclosures wreck havoc, and bank executives getting to sell junk, commit fraud, keep profits and stay out of jail– you can see why banks think these products are golden alright.

Branded “yourFirstMortgage,” Wells Fargo’s new product has a minimum down payment of 3 percent for a fixed-rate conventional mortgage of up to $417,000. Down payment help can come from gifts and community-assistance programs.

“We are fully underwriting the borrowers, we are partnering with Fannie Mae to originate and sell these loans…”  Here is a direct video link.

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Environment Canada: oilsands huge source of air pollution

Now that the old conservative government is no longer gagging our scientists, we get a new non-shocking report from Environment Canada.  The finding: Alberta’s oilsands industry is one of the biggest sources in North America of harmful air pollutants called secondary organic aerosols (SOAs) that are then carried by winds across the country to pollute soil and water. See Alberta’s oilsands huge source of harmful air pollution, study finds: 

“Such production should be considered when assessing the environmental impacts of current and planned bitumen and heavy oil extraction projects globally,” the researchers wrote…

The World Health organization says particles of that size are small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs, where they cause chronic inflammation. Long-term exposure significantly boosts the risk of dying of cardiopulmonary illnesses, and there is no evidence of a safe level of exposure.

Gee, it looks so environmentally friendly in pictures…

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The Fed-induced savings bust

Excellent piece from John Hussman this week.  Read  The coming Fed-induced pension bust: “We strongly encourage investors to continue to save in a disciplined way, but nothing forces investors to allocate these funds to speculative asset classes.”  Unbiased, informed, commonsense, risk-management insights–so very rare and so valuable.  Here’s some highlights:

“All of this is tied together: zero interest rate policy, speculative yield-seeking, pension underfunding, financial bubbles, malinvestment, crisis, and economic stagnation. The intentional distortions created by wholly experimental monetary policy carry a great deal of responsibility for these outcomes. The global financial economy has been pushed to such reckless speculative extremes that the ability of this house of cards to survive even a quarter point increase in short-term interest rates is a subject of serious and uninterrupted debate.

The Fed has done enormous violence to the public, and to the underlying stability of the financial markets, not only by encouraging a reckless yield-seeking financial bubble as the response to a global financial crisis that resulted from the previous Fed-induced yield-seeking bubble; not only by driving the financial markets to the point where poor long-term returns and wicked interim losses are inevitable (the same dangers investors faced at the 2000 and 2007 peaks); but also by creating an environment where scarce savings have been increasingly diverted to speculative activities, and where pensions have been encouraged to underfund their liabilities in the belief that past realized returns are indicative of future outcomes.

Despite the dismal 10-12 year prospects for conventional portfolios, we strongly encourage investors to continue to save in a disciplined way, but nothing forces investors to allocate these funds to speculative asset classes.

The tide will turn, as it always has in complete market cycles across history, and as investors discovered during the market collapses of 2000-2002 and 2007-2009. The erasure of realized past returns will restore reasonable prospects for future investment, as other retreats have done. Meanwhile, keep saving, reach for umbrellas, fasten your seat belt, and brace for the consequences and eventual opportunities that the current recklessness will bring.”

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The Current looks at seniors working

“Freedom 55” was a marketing slogan from the financial sales industry that arose during the late, great secular bull that ran from 1982-1999 and encouraged people to spend too much and save too little while banking on risky financial bets to make up capital deficits.  The real estate/mortgage business has also done a great job of convincing people that borrowing and buying expensive real estate is ‘investing’.  Scotiabank’s “You’re richer than you think” slogan to encourage borrowing and high risk/high fee securities is just one repulsive example.  It may have seemed like magic, but none of this was ever a realistic sustainable financial plan. Unfortunately, the masses have been very slow to see the truth. As Mark Twain once said: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

A third of Canadians who don’t have an employer pension are reaching their mid-sixties without enough in retirement savings, forcing them to keep working. Here is a direct audio link.

The best plans are grounded in realism. People have to want to be defensive and proactive in their own financial health. For my summary of some tangible steps, see: Commonsense financial management.

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