Strait of Hormuz Fears
There continue to be rumors that Iran will dump oil into the Strait of Hormuz to block the shipping lane that is so critical to the movement of crude. For months, there have been worries and speculation that Iran’s small navy would try to do the job, but no one can figure out how Iran’s tiny ships could stand up to the U.S. Navy, at least for any prolonged time. An oil spill would be much more effective. The fallout of the plan, if instituted, would be to drive high oil prices even higher, which would put further downward pressure on the world’s economy. Der Spiegel reports:
The goal of the plan seems to be that of contaminating the strait so as to temporarily close the important shipping route for international oil tankers, thereby “punishing” the Arab countries that are hostile to Iran and forcing the West to join Iran in a large-scale clean-up operation — one that might require the temporary suspension of sanctions against Tehran.
Soros Blames Germany
Billionaire investor George Soros has spent the last year warning that the European Union will be destroyed by financial and debt problems that will plunge Europe into an economic dark age. Soros will talk about his concerns to anyone who will listen, which means he writes op-ed pages on the subject, speaks about it at conferences around the world and makes as many TV appearances as possible. According to CNBC:
The crisis “is pushing the EU into a lasting depression, and it is entirely self-created,” said Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management. “There is a real danger of the euro destroying the European Union,” he said.
“The way to escape it is for Germany to accept … greater commitment to helping not only its interests but the interests of the debtor countries, and playing the role of the benevolent hegemon.”
Angela Merkel probably disagrees.
Surface Faces Challenges
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) needs to build and sell its Surface tablet to “hedge against a declining PC market,” a reporter from ZDNet writes. The problem is that even if the Surface does well, sales will be dwarfed by those of other tablets from firms led by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Samsung, and PC firms led by Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL). Nevertheless, ZDNet points to a research note by Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt as proof of Microsoft’s resolve:
Holt is expecting Microsoft’s Surface along with an army of tablet partners can give it 14 percent of the tablet market in 2013, up from 4 percent in 2012.
Fourteen percent will not get the job done.
Douglas A. McIntyre