Saturday, May 8, 2010

More on May 6 Market Meltdown: HFT and Dark Pools

Wall Street Journal has some interesting bits of information about the stock market near-meltdown on May 6.

In the May 8 article "Computer Trading Is Eyed",

There were abnormally wild moves in currency tradings, [particularly Japanese yen, which surged more than 2% in a matter of minutes (a huge movement in currencies)], before the turbulance started in the stock market.

The heavy sell order on Procter and Gamble (PG) doesn't look like a "fat finger" - i.e. trading mistake, but it does seem to have caused the indices (it is a Dow and S&P500 component) to drop. It does coincide with the withdrawal of liquidity by high-frequency trading firms (see below).

The high-frequency trading firm Tradebot Systems Inc. dropped out of market making when Dow hit -500 mark. So did other HFT firms, draining the market liquidity that they were supposed to provide.

NYSE, when the plunge started, did halt trading, or slowed it. But that probably caused more damage than good, as sell orders, which were growing extremely heavy by the second, were routed to other electronic exchanges including dark pools like DirectEdge, where there was hardly any liquidity. So the sell orders were met by ever-disappearing, ever-dropping bids.

The article still doesn't say WHO placed the big sell order on PG, and WHO stopped the freefall and HOW.

I should also ask, WHY?

High-Frequency Traders Were Short LAST WEEK

CNBC casually mentions that some hedge funds and high-frequency traders were heavily shorting certain stocks LAST WEEK, betting on the imminent decline in the stock market. It reports these funds were doubling down on SHORTS this week.

Well, "decline" was an understatement, wasn't it?

Smart Money Betting More Downside To Come (5/7/2010 CNBC)

"Chatter suggests some hedge funds may have seen this plunge coming and got short last week. So what are they doing now?

"Before we get to that, we first wanted to make sure there was substance behind the chatter.

"And analysis from seems to confirm that there is, in fact, a great deal of substance.

" is a company that finds stocks in the marketplace that hedge funds and high frequency traders are looking to short.

And CEO John Tabacco tells us last Thursday the number of requests to locate stocks to short jumped 50% above the normal 60-day average; with top requests listed below:

Most Requested Stocks To Short Last Week
Bank of America
Frontier Financial
Source: John Tabacco, Locatestock
"So what's the smart money doing now?

"With the market turning negative for the year on Friday, you'd think the smart money would be covering. But they're not.

"”Now, they’re doubling down and shorting more,” says Tabacco, “with financials the most shorted again.”

"You read that right. Despite the sharp declines this week the smart money is getting shorter.

"”Our analytics suggests there’s a big event out there and there could be more downside,” says Tabacco." [Emphasis is mine. The article continues.]

To call them "smart money" annoys me, unless "smart" means "devilishly crooked". Thursday's market near-meltdown may well have been caused by those hedge funds and investment banks using high-frequency trading. They were shorting big LAST WEEK.

This is no trading, not even betting. They go short on stocks or indices, and they CAUSE the breakdown. A guaranteed, huge profit. This is swindle; from the non-HFT institutional traders and investors who (used to) supply real liquidity to the market, and from the general public who invest and trade in the financial markets.

As to the stocks in question, this is how they fared in one week:
Ambac (ABK): $1.51 (April 30) to $1.38 (May 7), 8.6% drop
Citigroup (C): $4.37 to $4.00, 8.5% drop
Bank of America (BAC): $17.83 to $16.18, 9.3% drop
MBIA (MBI): $9.58 to $8.73, 8.9% drop
Frontier Financial (FTBK): $3.57 as of April 30, but the firm declared bankruptcy on May 3. Good luck closing the short trade during bankruptcy, algos.
During the same period,
Dow Jones Industrial: 11,009 to 10,380, 5.7% drop
S&P 500: 1,187 to 1,111, 6.4% drop
Nasdaq: 2,461 to 2,266, 7.9% drop
Russell 2000: 716 to 653, 8.9% drop
Dow Jones US Financials Index: 291 to 270, 7.2% drop
Tech, small/mid cap, and financials were hit hard.

Just about the only thing that not only held but increased in price during the mayhem was gold:
Gold continuous contract: $1,179 to $1,208, 2.5% increase
We the hapless small investors and traders have few choices to protect what is left in our portfolio against these high-frequency trading raiders. Either you join them in shorts and probably get burned when they flip to massively long in a millisecond, or just buy gold and/or gold miners' stocks and sit on it. (This is no investment advice, do your own due diligence.)

Just be aware that paper golds (gold ETFs and ETNs, straight or leveraged) are heavily held by some of the largest institutional investors and speculators (George Soros, John Paulson, to name a few), which means they may not be as safe as they portray themselves to be.

There is actually a third choice: sell out the positions and sit on the pile (big or small) of cash. But then, there is this thing called the government, who wants to grab whatever they can -new taxes, fees - to feed itself. On top of that, it can cause (the central bank attached to the government actually wants to cause) inflation, taking away the purchasing power of the money further.

"Between a rock and a hard place" is another understatement.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dylan Ratigan, Phil Angelides, Jon Najarian on May 6 Market Meltdown

It was NOT because of a "fat finger"... Listen particularly to Jon Najarian, as he explains how the High-Frequency Trading and flash trading work.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, May 6, 2010

US Stock Market Plunge and Snap Back - Algo Bots Gone Crazy or Cyber Terrorism?

(Yes, I have my tinfoil hat on...)

Not that they are mutually exclusive.

First it was a rumor that European banks stopped lending (did they?). Then it was a "fat finger" by a trader. Then it was a "fat finger" by a trader at Citigroup. Then it was NOT a Citigroup trader. Then it turns out that in addition to this alleged fat finger of someone, eight stocks which normally trade with modest volume and are not exactly household names spiked down to one cent or zero during the period when the entire market violently slid and snapped right back up.

CNBC's Bartiromo: 'That is Ridiculous. This Really Sounds Like Market Manipulation to Me' (Jeff Poor, 5/6/2010 Business and Media Institute)

"While everyone is scratching their heads and trying to figure out how the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost nearly 1,000 points before rallying back to lose only 347 points – it appears not to be limited to just one stock.

"On CNBC’s May 6 “Closing Bell,” correspondent Matt Nesto explained that investigators for both the stock exchanges and for Citigroup, the firm that some are pointing fingers at for a so-called trader error, have narrowed it down to a futures index called the E-mini S&P 500.

"“A person familiar with the Citi investigation said one focus of the trading probes were the futures contracts tied to the S&P 500 stock index known as the E-mini S&P 500 futures and in particular that two-minute window in which 16 billion of the futures were sold,” Nesto said. “Again, those sources are telling us that Citigroup’s total E-mini volume for the entire day was only 9 billion, suggesting that the origin of the trades was elsewhere.”

"Nesto named eight stocks that were hit with the supposed computer error/bad trade, if that’s indeed what happened, that went all the way down to zero or one cent, including Exelon (NYSE:EXC), Accenture (NYSE:ACN), CenterPoint Energy (NYSE:CNP), Eagle Material (NYSE:EXP), Genpact Ltd (G), ITC Holdings (NYSE:ITC), Brown & Brown (NYSE:BRO), Casey’s General (NASDAQ:CASY) and Boston Beer (NYSE:SAM)

"... Nesto calling these trades “bogus” drew backlash from the host and CNBC veteran Maria Bartiromo, who said those trades sounded like “market manipulation” to her.

"“ That is ridiculous,” Bartiromo replied. “I mean this really sounds like market manipulation to me. This is outrageous.”" [The article continues.]

Market manipulation? Hello Maria, where have you been all these years?

It was more like a complete breakdown of any order. For more, read Zero Hedge "The Day The Market Almost Died (Courtesy Of High Frequency Trading)".

So here's what happened to these eight stocks between 2:47 and 2:56PM EST today:

2:47 PM EST
ACN: went from $38 to $0.01
CNP: went from $13.15 to zero
ITC: went from $45.90 to $0.01
BRO: went from $18.07 to zero

2:48PM EST
CASY: went from $35.24 to $0.01
SAM: went from $54.32 to $0.01

2:50 PM EST
EXP: went from $29.41 to zero

2:56PM EST
G: went from $15.58 to $0.01

Dow Jones Industrial Average hit the low of the day (9,887) at 2:46PM EST. Nasdaq and S&P 500 hit their lows at the same time as Dow.

I think these are the examples of algo bots gone haywire, but whoever put in the initial bomb of selling 16 billion S&P e-mini futures, which came through CME, wasn't a bot. After the bomb detonated, all the algo bots decided to pile on to one side, in this case sell sell and more sell.

Whoever detonated this e-mini futures bomb must know the high-frequency quant trading programs very well, inside out. And in the last second the switch was turned off, and the market snapped back.

OK, tinfoil hat off.

To make up for the fear and loathing that they caused, they (whoever they are) are busy buying the stock futures so that the market will open high and cheerful tomorrow morning. Right now, Dow futures up 60, Nasdaq futures up 11, S&P futures up 6.5, according to Bloomberg.

Dow Plunges almost 1,000 Points, Snaps Back - High-Frequency Quant Trading Horror

It was a free fall when it was happening. I was sure that the market circult braker (on 10% fall) would kick in in a second or two.

Some quant funds must have made a fortune. This is high-frequency algo bots for you piling on the downside, then switching to the upside. In the meantime, the system overload of the exchanges seems to have frozen many discount brokerages that the small retail traders/investors use during this violence, leaving many unable to access the accounts or trading screens.

I am so sure that the Senators discussing the so-called financial "reform" is on top of this high-frequency front-running and the highly disruptive damage it can cause in the financial markets. (NOT.)

Oh BTW, the supposed reason for the plunge was the rumor that European banks stopped lending because there was no liquidity.

The latest rumor is that one trader in a major brokerage had a "fat finger" moment, and put 16B (billion) shares order instead of 16 M (million). Algo bots don't care, and they vigorously exploit the opportunity.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Lew Rockwell: Why Not Feel Sorry for BP?

Since just about everybody is piling on and dissing BP over the oil spill, I went looking for a contrarian opinion and found one at Crowded trade is almost always a wrong trade. Thank you, Lew. Here's his article in its entirety:

Why Not Feel Sorry for BP? (Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 5/5/2010

It was 21 years ago that the Exxon-Valdez leaked oil and unleashed torrents of environmental hysteria. Rothbard got it right in his piece "Why Not Feel Sorry for Exxon?"

After the BP-hired drilling rig exploded last week, the environmentalists went nuts yet again, using the occasion to flail a private corporation and wail about the plight of the "ecosystem," which somehow managed to survive and thrive after the Exxon debacle.

The comparison is complicated by how much worse this event is. Eleven people died. BP market shares have been pummeled. So long as the leak persists, the company loses 5,000–10,000 barrels a day.

BP will be responsible for cleanup costs far exceeding the federal limit of $75 million. The public relations nightmare will last for a decade or more. In the end, the costs could reach $100 billion, perhaps wrecking the company and many other businesses.

It should be obvious that BP is by far the leading victim, but I've yet to see a single expression of sadness for the company and its losses. Indeed, the words of disgust for BP are beyond belief. The DailyKos sums it up: "BP: Go f*** yourselves." Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said that the government intended to keep "its boot on BP’s neck."

How about reality? The incident is a tragedy for BP and all the subcontractors involved. It will probably wreck the company, a company that has long helped provide the fuel that runs everything from our cars to our industries, and keeps alive the very body of modern life. The idea that BP should be hated and denounced is preposterous; there is every reason to express great sadness for what has happened.

It is not as if BP profits by oil leaks, or that anyone reveled in the chance to dump its precious oil all over the ocean. Its own CEO has worked for years to try to prevent precisely this kind of accident, and did so not out of the desire to comply with regulations, but because it is good business practice.

In contrast to the families and others who are weeping, we might ask who is happy about the disaster: the environmentalists, with their fear mongering and hatred of modern life, and the government, which treats every capitalist producer as a bird to be oiled and plucked. The environmentalists are thrilled because they get yet another chance to wail and moan about the plight of their beloved swamps and other supposedly sensitive land. The loss of fish is sad, but it is not as if they will not come back: after the Exxon-Valdez trouble, the fishing was better than ever in just one year.

The main advantage to the environmentalists is their propaganda victory in having yet another chance to rail against the evils of oil producers and ocean drilling. If they have their way, oil prices would be vastly higher, there would never be another refinery built, and all development of the oceans would stop in the name of "protecting" things irrelevant to human life.

The core economic issue concerning such a spill is liability. In a world of private property, if you soil someone else's property, you bear the liability. But what about a world in which government owns vast swaths, and the oceans are considered the commons of everyone? It becomes extremely difficult to assess damages.

There is also a problem with federal limits on liability. The liability for damaging people or property should be 100%. Such a system would match a company's policies to the actual risk of doing damage. Lower limits would inspire companies to be less concerned about damage to others than they should be, in the same way that a company with a bailout guarantee will be more reckless than in a free market.

But such a liability rule presumes ownership, so that owners themselves are in a position to enter into fair bargaining and there can be some objective test. There is no objective test when the oceans are collectively owned, and where the coasts are government owned.

"Every American affected by this spill should know this: your government will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to stop this crisis," Obama says. Are we really supposed to believe that government is better able to deal with this disaster than private industry? The government and its army of bureaucrats is only a hindrance. And meanwhile, the Obama administration must be thrilled to have an old-fashioned change of subject, so that we don't have to notice every single day that its economic stimulus has been an incredible flop, with unemployment higher today than a year ago, and the depression still persisting.

Why, by the way, when every natural disaster is hailed by the Keynesian media for at least having the stimulative effect of rebuilding, is nothing like this said about the oil spill? At least in this case, losses seem to be recognized as losses.

The abstraction called the "ecosystem" – which never seems to include humans or their civilization – has done far less for us than the oil industry. So let us not forget that the greatest tragedy here is BP’s and its subsidiaries’ and subcontractors’, and the private enterprises affected by the losses that no one intended. If the result is a shutdown of drilling and further regulation of private enterprise, people will lose. And that is what counts.

Copyright © 2010 by

UK Economist Wants to Tax Household Debt

Oh no, don't give any more funny idea to the US prez ...

If you think this professor's talk of "negative interest" is nuts, wait till you read this article. One of the leading British economists is proposing a tax on household debt.

Radical tax on debt put to parties (Edmund Conway, 5/1/2010 Telegraph UK)

"Households should pay a new tax on every pound of debt they owe, according to one of Britain's leading economists.

"Martin Weale, director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, said the winner of the election should consider the plan in an effort to wean Britain off its reliance on debt. He said that a small annual levy of 1pc on all household debt, including mortgages and credit cards, could help raise £15bn a year – more than would be raised from a 3p increase in the basic rate of income tax.

"Although the suggestion will raise eyebrows, Mr Weale runs one of the country's most respected independent institutions, so may spark speculation that it could be examined by the next government. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have both pledged to overhaul the tax system to remove the favourable treatment of debt, although neither has suggested a direct levy on household borrowing.

"However, Mr Weale said that this would not only raise extra cash and discourage families from borrowing too much, but would also provide policymakers with a new lever to control the credit market.

""You would charge households 1pc on the outstanding debt," he said, "perhaps just imposing it on unsecured debt [such as credit cards and overdrafts] at first.

""One of the beauties of the idea is that you could vary the rate depending on the state of the economy."

"Britons currently owe just under £1,500bn to banks and other lenders, with £225bn of this outstanding on credit cards, overdrafts and unsecured loans, and the rest on mortgages." [Emphasis is mine. The article continues.]

So this economist wants to levy 1% tax on all debt so that the households are discouraged from borrowing, and at the same time the government has a new, significant source of income.

It is a cynical scheme. UK's economy is not exactly booming; it's more likely that people will continue to incur new debt or will be just making enough to service the existing debt. Steady stream of income is guaranteed for the government.

Justin Raimondo: Times Square Bombing Story Doesn't Quite Add Up

President Obama said this to the Jonas Brothers on Saturday, with the help from the Daily Show writers:

"Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don't get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I'm joking?"

I thought it was in such a crude, bad taste.

On Sunday, a Pakistani man (US citizen) tried to blow up an SUV in Times Square, New York.'s Justin Raimondo has this to say:

Faisal Shahzad: An Ordinary Man: From Wall Street to Waziristan: a story that doesn’t quite add up (5/5/2010

"The day after President Obama made his Predator joke at the White House Correspondents dinner, Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American, was in the middle of Times Square trying to blow the place up. I’m not saying there was any connection, although you never know: yet there is indeed a link between the casual arrogance that allowed an intelligent man like our chief executive to joke about a deadly weapon that has killed more innocent civilians in Pakistan than actual terrorists.

"It’s why they hate us." [It is "imperial hubris", according to Justin. The article continues.]

He says things don't quite add up in this case. Just like the previous "terrorism" case of a Nigerian young man trying to blow up an airplane with the bomb in his pants. (That story has gone dead very quickly, hasn't it?)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hypocrisy of Michael Bloomberg

The wimpy so-called bomb that failed on Times Square was placed by a naturalized US citizen of Pakistani origin, a Muslim, who had his house foreclosed by Chase Bank.

NY Mayor Bloomberg in today's press conference:

"And I want to make clear that we will not tolerate any bias or backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers."

The same mayor on yesterday's interview with Katie Couric:

"If I had to guess 25 cents, ... somebody home-grown, maybe a mentally deranged person or somebody with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health care bill…”

I don't have any illusion that Mayor Bloomberg would ever apologize for presuming the people who oppose the Obama government policies to be mentally deranged terrorists. (He is basically calling more than half the country as terrorists.)

After all, he is the mayor of the city that wants to presume its citizens to be willing organ donors.

Monday, May 3, 2010

BP Oil Spill Could Have Been Contained Much Sooner If Only ...

the government had had a fire boom.

Maybe. Maybe not. We'll never know, since the government didn't have any and had to buy one 8 days after the accident.

Despite plan, not a single fire boom on hand on Gulf Coast at time of oil spill (5/3/2010

"If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land.

"The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand.

"The "In-Situ Burn" plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms.

"But in order to conduct a successful test burn eight days after the Deepwater Horizon well began releasing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf, officials had to purchase one from a company in Illinois.

"When federal officials called, Elastec/American Marine, shipped the only boom it had in stock, Jeff Bohleber, chief financial officer for Elastec, said today.

"...A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour, Bohleber said. That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.

""They said this was the tool of last resort. No, this is absolutely the asset of first use. Get in there and start burning oil before the spill gets out of hand," Bohleber said. "If they had six or seven of these systems in place when this happened and got out there and started burning, it would have significantly lessened the amount of oil that got loose."

"In the days after the rig sank, U.S Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the government had all the assets it needed. She did not discuss why officials waited more than a week to conduct a test burn. (Watch video footage of the test burn.)

"At the time, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill response coordinator Ron Gouguet -- who helped craft the 1994 plan -- told the Press-Register that officials had pre-approval for burning. "The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away."

"Gouguet speculated that burning could have captured 95 percent of the oil as it spilled from the well." [Emphasis is mine. The article continues.]

Rear Admiral Mary Landry was the one who said there was no oil spill on April 22nd, only to change the story the next day. Haven't heard from her lately, have we?

If oil spill maps on various sites (here's one from USA Today) are accurate enough, the size of the spill was still relatively minor until April 26. The government waited until April 29 to issue several statements about the spill.

The government didn't have a fire boom. So they waited, criticized BP harshly, and waited. They are still waiting for six fire booms to arrive by Wednesday, so that they can use on Thursday.

We Still Live In Someone Else's Psychosis

After the whole nation (if not the whole world) having had to live within someone else's neurosis and psychosis for 8 years, I didn't have much illusion about the so-called "change" in November 2008. I just didn't expect it to be the change for the worse, so much worse.

The Commander in Chief turned Comedian in Chief on Saturday; the occasion was the White House Correspondents' Dinner. As reported by The Hill, the Comedian in Chief poked fun at a significant chunk of ordinary Americans, not just celebrities (like poor Jay Leno) and other politicians (like Sarah Palin and John McCain).

It turns out that it was the writers from the Daily Show who wrote the script for the prez.

Among Obama's targets for sarcasm:

  • Jay Leno ("only person whose ratings fell more than mine") [cheap shot from Jon Stewart people]
  • So-called "birthers" who question Obama's eligibility ("I know my approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth"; "There are few things more important to find and harder to keep than love -- well, love and a birth certificate.") [Well, it is Obama himself who's been blocking the release of the long form.]
  • Jonas Brothers ("Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don't get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I'm joking?")
  • Health care "reform" bill opponents - more than half the country ("There aren't a few secret provisions in the healthcare plan. There are, like, hundreds.")
  • Eric Massa, who accused his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel of bullying him in the congressional shower room, stark naked ("To which I say, welcome to my world.")
Ahhh the predator drones. I remember it was one of the very first policies that Obama implemented right after he became the president: attack Pakistan with these drones, even if the US and Pakistan are supposedly allies. The drones continue to kill more civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, bombing weddings, funerals, and day care centers.

But to me, the last one takes the cake. Exactly. That's his and Rahm's world alright. I just wonder if it is also the world of people who voted for him.

We're in someone else's psychosis, again.

Tanzania Follows Australia, Raises Gold Royalty Payments

According to Bloomberg, the Tanzanian government is set to raise the gold-royalty payments from 3% to 4%,

The large multinational miners (Barrick, Anglo Gold, etc) that mine in Tanzania say the law won't affect them, because of the existing agreement with the government. Uh huh. The government can change the existing agreement any time it wants, I am afraid, particularly the cash-starved government.

The law also stipulates that Tanzanian citizens should own more than 50% of shares of any gemstone-mining companies. Tanzania is the only place in the world that has a deposit strip of Tanzanite, 1000 times rarer than diamonds.

The Tanzanian Chamber of Minerals and Energy is right in fearing the law will significantly reduce the competitiveness of Tanzanian mining industry.

As this blog posted yesterday, Australia wants to introduce 40% tax on mining profits.

So who will be the next to join the "Let's kill the goose that lays golden eggs" club?

(The United States, is my vote.)

The precious metal mining shares (gold, silver, platinum, palladium) as well as base metal mining shares are down today, some of them significantly.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Australian Government Wants to Impose 40% Tax on Mining Profit

talk about killing the goose that lay golden eggs...

Whether it is a struggling economy like Greece, or a debt-laden country like the US, or a booming economy like Australia, what the governments do is the same: trying to extract more and more money from the productive sector of the economy and distribute it to the unproductive sector. They rarely fail in their endeavor to do so.

Mining shares tumble on Australian tax plan (5/3/2010 AP via Yahoo Finance)

"CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Shares of mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto tumbled Monday after the Australian government proposed a new 40 percent tax on the booming profits of resource companies.

"The big miners' losses dragged the Australian market down by about 1 percent in morning trade after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced Sunday that the tax would be introduced in 2012 and raise an additional 9 billion Australian dollars ($8.3 billion) per year.

"The new tax targets miners that have made bumper profits as burgeoning demand from manufacturers in China and India pushed up the price of iron ore and other commodities.

"The mining industry has warned that such a tax would stall investment or shift it to other countries.

"Shares in BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, fell 3.7 percent in early trading while Anglo-Australian rival Rio Tinto shed 5.6 percent.

""The resources stocks are really getting carved up this morning given the land grab by the federal government," said Austock Securities stockbroker Michael Heffernan.

"After the tax announcement, BHP Billiton said the measure would raise the total effective tax rate on the company's profits from 43 percent to 57 percent." [The article continues.]

The move by the government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (Labor Party) is seen as a ploy to attract union and blue-collar workers in the election later this year.

Australia never went into recession in the global turmoil caused by the US financial near-meltdown in 2008, thanks largely to its booming mining industry. The country was the first to raise interest rates to curve inflation. Looks like Rudd's government has found a way to cool the economy back into deep freeze.

OT: Immigration Is a Big Issue Now in UK General Election

Talk about the perfect execution of "foot in the mouth". UK's Prime Minister Gordon Brown seems to have brought the chance of remaining in Downing No.10 and the chance of his party to remain in power to near-zero, when he described a Labour supporter who asked Brown about immigration "just a sort of bigoted woman" into a open microphone.

Now, with the general election in 4 days, Telegraph UK reports that three voters out of four now consider immigration is a significant problem in Britain.

It is hard to believe immigration has suddenly become a problem in the UK; it is more likely that people are now more comfortable openly talking about it after Ms. Gillian Duffy breached open the taboo subject (for politicians at least) and Gordon Brown didn't realize his mic was on.

But as far as I know, all three major parties, Conservative, Labour, and Lib Dems, are pro-immigration. I am just curious who Ms. Duffy and the 75% of voters who say immigration is a problem will vote for. Ms. Duffy has said she's not going to vote at all, though.