Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Japanese Nukes

Chernobyl was one reactor going critical. Fukushima has 3 reactors potentially going critical. Even if one goes, Fukushima is a city of 290K people. It is 170 miles from Tokyo. How large of a 'dead zone' do they cordon off? How much more cramped can cities get? How much depends on the wind?

My thoughts are with those scientists and workers doing their best to prevent a meltdown. This has far reaching implications. Japan is a successfuldemocracy in Asia. Japan is an innovator. Japan is a huge cog in the global economy and major investor in the emerging world. Japan supplies much of the developed world the great products we love and enjoy. Japan also buys a lot of US and European government debt.

Is this the domino that starts a bigger chain reaction? Japan has debt to GDP numbers that make Europe and the US look restrained. They forunately have 0% or 1% interest rates so they can service that debt. If they now need to ask for more cash on the markets, will investors ask for slightly higher interest rates? Will they turn in some of the US debt they have as reserves to pay for needed reconstruction? That would crush the US. How many insurance companies around the world are ont he hook for billions of damage and lives lost?

Talk about uncertainty. The stock market has had a trek from the March 2009 lows based on the flimsiest of reasons. This type of event and its impact usually slice through the crap. I don't want to even consider if a radioactive cloud ends up screwing with the crop yields in the Western US. The San Fran Quake of 1906 is what started the great panic of 1907. Can't we just have one week of peace and quiet?

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