June 2008

Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday said oil prices are being controlled by ‘invisible hands’ in a ‘fake way’ for political and economic reasons, reported Reuters. Speaking at an OPEC meeting, Ahmadinejad said the price rise is ‘completely fake and imposed’ because it is occurring at a time when ‘the market is full of oil and the growth of consumption is lower than the growth of production.’

And meanwhile, on Wall Street:

Crude oil’s ‘bull run’ may be over following Saudi Arabia’s pledge to increase supplies and the increasing volatility of prices, according to analysts at JP Morgan and Chase. Prices are expected to ‘correct’ over the next few months, the analysts said, noting that spare production capacity may reach 5 million barrels a day by 2010, similar to levels in 2002 to 2003, when oil was $30 a barrel, reported Bloomberg.

Via AMEInfo.  It is interesting to note that both Ahmadinejad and Wall Street analysts see an overheated oil market, but it is hard to imagine two more different orientations on the topic.



Many a sci-fi flick portrays a future Earth becoming victimized by an army of brain-sucking mutants from outer space.  Turns out that brain-sucking is occurring a little closer to home in real life, and it has nothing to do with alien mutants:

While the 20th century had the arms race, the competition in this century will be a brains race, says science policy analyst Michael Lubell of the American Physical Society.  ‘Today’s Sputnik? It’s a little bigger. It’s called China’.  Twenty years ago the United States, Japan and China each graduated a similar number of engineers, with South Korea graduating about half as many. By 2000, Japan has increased its output by 42% to 103,200, South Korea has recorded an 140% increase to 57,650 engineers, according to Jischke. In contrast, the number of US engineering graduates had declined by 20% to less than 60,000. In 2004, China graduated 500,000 engineers, India, 200,000, and North America, 70,000, says a National Academy of Sciences report. If this trend persists, then by 2010 more than 90% of all scientists and engineers will live in Asia, fears Jischke. Besides, one US chemist’s or engineer’s salary is enough to hire five Chinese chemists or 11 Indian engineers.

See Subbiah Arunachalam’s editorial in Current Science from March 2006.  Arunchalam says Americans needn’t worry about this somewhat distressing development — it will be years before India and China overtake America as a world center of technological innovation.  As a world creator of jobs, however … well, let’s just say that Arunchalam doesn’t worry about an increase in unemployment statistics among scientists and engineers in India or China in the near future.

Meanwhile, the U.S. lost jobs in May for a fifth month in a row, and the unemployment rate rose by the most in more than two decades, according U.S. Labor Department figures released on Friday.