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Ron Milligan


Designer (Journalism)

Member since August 30, 2013

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    How have financial markets reacted to news of the shutdown?

    US markets were closed by the time the formal notices started going out late on Monday night ordering government agencies to suspend their activities – the so-called shutdown.

    But on international markets overnight and on Tuesday morning, the dollar has lost around half a percent of its value, pushing the pound up to $1.6238 – the highest level since 3 January 2013. The euro has risen to $1.357, the highest level since early February.

    However, international stock markets were largely unmoved by the crisis – French and German shares, for example, were up around 0.5% – with most investors expecting the shutdown to be short-lived, and the impact largely confined to the US.

    Some analysts said investors may also be reasoning that the crisis could delay the so-called "tapering" of the Federal Reserve's recession-busting policy of quantitative easing, which helps inflate share prices by pumping cheap money into financial markets.

    Ilya Spivak, currency strategist at Daily FX, said: "The somewhat counter-intuitive response seems to reflect investors' continued pre-occupation with the direction of US monetary policy. Filtered through this prism, the shutdown and its negative implications for US growth are seen as delaying a move to 'taper' QE asset purchases, which seems to be driving a swell in risk appetite."

    So does that mean it's just a little local difficulty for the Americans?


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    Independence could diminish the UK’s voice on the world stage and deprive Scotland of the benefits of its collective clout, former Chancellor Ken Clarke has told business leaders.

    He focused on the impact of independence on the UK and Scotland’s place in the world when he addressed the Institute of Director’s leadership conference in Aberdeen.

    The UK Government’s Minister without Portfolio also said the result of next year’s referendum is far from being a foregone conclusion.

    “We have experienced the worst financial crisis in my lifetime. The longest and deepest recession since the war. The global economy is still in a fragile state. The Middle East in turmoil. Worldwide terrorism is a serious threat,” the Tory MP said.

    “Getting through all this requires us urgently to boost the United Kingdom’s voice in the world, not to diminish it. We need to improve our overseas presence, not cut it up into little segmented pieces.

    “As the United Kingdom, we are one of the very most leading countries inside the largest economic bloc in the world: the EU. We are one of five countries with a permanent seat on the Security Council of the UN. We are members of the G8 and G20. These are unprecedented opportunities to fight for the best interests of our citizens.

    “With one throw of the dice, Scottish independence would deprive Scotland of the benefits of this collective clout.”

    Speaking on the eve of the day which marks exactly one year until the vote, Mr ...

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    Earthquakes don't kill people, buildings do, seismologists say.

    The greatest risk of dying during an earthquake comes from collapsing structures and flying debris. Thanks to Japan's stringent seismic building codes, during the 2011 magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake, fewer than 600 people were crushed by falling rubble, according to Japan's National Police Agency. More than 90 percent of the country's deaths were from drowning during the ensuing tsunami.

    But in China, where seismic building codes are often flouted, the magnitude-8.0 Wenchuan earthquake in 2008 killed more than 69,000 people. In 2010, an even smaller quake, a magnitude-7.0, killed more than 220,000 people in Haiti.

    Japan spends five times more money on reducing its earthquake damage risk than the United States, said Ross Stein, a seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's office in Menlo Park, Calif. Stein is the co-founder of an international nonprofit called the Global Earthquake Model (GEM). GEM's aim is to freely provide the same sophisticated earthquake risk-assessment tools used by Japan to poorer countries. Continue Reading

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