Daily Archives: September 17, 2008

The history of California Chardonnay and why you drink what you drink

Slate magazine uses the topic of a new film, Bottle Shock, to go over the history of California chardonnay. It is ironic that after beating the French at their own game, California chardonnay evolved away from that taste and towards the oaky, buttery, non-acidic wine that most people love, save the author of this piece (and those of the ABC crowd: anything but chardonnay).

As for me, I think there is a time and place for everything, and there are times when I like that rich taste of those wines. But I like to go with the ABC crowd too and find other varietals and other styles to try, whether it is Viogniers, Reislings, or Chenin Blancs, to name a few (though I tend to avoid Pinot Grigio).

See the article here: The last great California chardonnays. – By Mike Steinberger – Slate Magazine

CNN explains the AIG bailout

If you are one of those people scratching their head/worrying about this, check out this:

AIG bailout might work out well for taxpayers – CNN.com

Notice the word might.

Next U.S bank on the chopping block: Washington Mutual

See here: Washington Mutual Is Said to Consider Sale – NYTimes.com

You can also see who the players are that are in a position of strength: Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase. In fact, the nytimes has a great graphic here that shows the major financial companies and who is/was in trouble. (It’s alot!)

How much has been lost in the last year? Only 4 trillion, give or take a few billion.

Two things to look for in banking: predator banks and nationalized banks

Signs of that can be seen in this article in the the Globe and Mail’s reportonbusiness.com: Banking crisis crosses Atlantic.

First, smart banks, like Lloyd’s, are going to take advantage of this crisis to snap up banks that they have had their eye on for some time. Bank of America did the same thing. If you start to see mergers over the next few weeks, it may not be so much that both parties are desparate; rather it may be that one party is the wounded prey and the other party is the stronger hunter.

Second, you may see the concept of “national” banks come to the fore.  Just like countries subsidize agriculture and airlines, you may see countries subsidize national banks, as well. It would be an extension of a country’s central bank, but it would be a commercial enterprise with restrictions. (For example, they may have a mandate to do a certain percentage of banking within the country they reside in.)

This is merely a prediction, but not an unlikely one, given the way things are going.

On the other hand, Chinese banks could come along and just swallow up a good portion of American and European banks, and that would be that. I am betting on the former, but we will see.

“The Great Crash: 1929” by John Kenneth Galbraith

Galbraith writes well, and he writes particularly well on the subject of the Great Crash of 1929. If you don’t know much about it before reading his book, you may be surprised to read that the Great Crash was something of a prolonged affair. Indeed, throughout the crisis, there was more than one occasion when people thought and hoped that stability had been achieved, only to see that hope destroyed.

You can find Extracts from “The Great Crash: 1929” by John Kenneth Galbraith (First Published 1955; 1961 Reprint) at Lachlan Cranswick’s Personal Homepage.. I recommend the book. If ever there was a time to read it, this week would be a good one.

(photo Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Why U.S. Banks will continue to decline for years to come…

…is best captured in this quote from this article, Morgan Stanley Considers Merger With Wachovia:

“executives like John A. Thain, the chief executive of Merrill and a former Goldman executive, say investment banks will need large bases of deposits to shore up their capital for times of trouble.”

The problem is, capital is moving across the world, to China and India. It’s the Asian banks that will have more of the capital as the years pass, not the American banks. The Asian banks will be the ones that grow in the near future, provided that they can run their affairs wisely.

6 Food Mistakes Parents Make and why you should make them anyway

When I read this article (6 Food Mistakes Parents Make) I thought: I do just the opposite of many of these things. And for good reason! I tried following some of these rules, and found when I did the opposite, I got a better result. Results trump rules.

As a parent, it helps to have guidelines, especially when you are uncertain. But you should always do what’s best for your child, not what may work for children generally.

Some good news as well this week (I hope): Zimbabwe Rivals Sign Power-Sharing Agreement

While it remains to be seen how well this works, news of Zimbabwe Rivals Sign Power-Sharing Agreement (at NYTimes.com) should halt the downward spiral that Zimbabwe had been in and perhaps reverse the direction of the country. If things go well, Zimbabwe could be a great nation. Sometimes things do work out for the best: let’s hope that happens here.