Tuesday, July 29, 2008
America's House Price Time Bomb
With the American housing market in its worst crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Bush is expected to sign into law a massive new government intervention designed to slow the slide. The intervention would come as a little known quirk of US law threatens to drive down house prices even faster. Faced with seemingly never-ending falls in the value of their properties, some American home-owners are taking radical action; they are choosing to walk away from homes and their mortgages.
Credit Crisis Spreads To Wealthier
The US financial crisis is spreading from subprime borrowers, with evidence mounting that more affluent people are failing to pay mortgages and credit card balances. Growing concerns over the financial health of richer borrowers are prompting banks and card issuers to tighten lending practices in moves that could further damp consumer confidence.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
American Express Profit Falls
American Express Co., the biggest U.S. credit-card company by purchases, withdrew its 2008 earnings forecast after second-quarter profit fell 37 percent on worse-than-expected consumer defaults. The shares slumped 11 percent in extended trading. Profit from continuing operations declined to $655 million, or 56 cents a share, from $1.04 billion, or 86 cents a year earlier, the company said today in a statement. The average estimate of 17 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was 82 cents. American Express said it added $600 million before taxes to reserves for U.S. loan losses.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Early Mars Was All Wet
A lot more Martian rocks were altered by water than scientists originally thought, suggesting that early Mars was a very wet place. New observations made by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), currently circling the planet, have revealed evidence that vast regions of the southern highlands of Mars were altered by water in a variety of environments billions of years ago. Water is a key condition for life as we know it. Though there is no firm evidence that Mars has ever harbored life, knowing that the planet was once wet suggests that it was at least habitable in the past.
Cern Lab Goes 'Colder Than Space'
A vast physics experiment built in a tunnel below the French-Swiss border is fast becoming one of the coolest places in the Universe. The Large Hadron Collider is entering the final stages of being lowered to a temperature of 1.9 Kelvin (-271C; -456F) - colder than deep space. The LHC has thousands of magnets which will be maintained in this frigid condition using liquid helium. The magnets are arranged in a ring that runs for 27km through the giant tunnel. Once the LHC is operational, two particle beams - usually consisting of protons accelerated to high energies - will be fired down pipes running through the magnets. These beams will then travel in opposite directions around the main ring at close to the speed of light.