Business, Economics and Jobs

Macro chatter: US beef, India's outlook and the price of money


A South Korean employee displays Australian beef at Lotte Mart, which suspended all sales of all US beef in South Korea after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in central California.


Jung Yeon-Je

Need to know:
American beef producers could be in for trouble in Asia – again.

Asian countries have begun restricting sales and imports of US beef following the first reported case of mad cow disease in the US in six years.

Indonesia has suspended US beef imports until the American government can confirm the country’s cattle are free of mad cow. South Korea stopped short of cutting off imports, but two of its largest retail chains have stopped selling American beef. Home Plus and Lotte Mart said its customers were worried.

Beef is a particularly sensitive topic for the US and South Korea. South Korea banned US beef imports from 2003 to 2008 following reports of mad cow disease in the US.

Want to know:
India could soon find itself facing a credit downgrade. 

Standard & Poor's cut its outlook for the country's long-term debt to negative and warned a credit downgrade could be on the way.

The ding to India's reputation as an emerging market powerhouse comes a surprise and reflects fears political gridlock could stymie efforts to trim deficits and spur growth, the Wall Street Journal said

Dull but important:
Food is getting more expensive
for the world.

Global food prices rose 8 percent from December through February, the World Bank said.

Crude oil prices, weird weather and demand from Asia helped drive up prices for everything but rice, whose consumers benefited from fierce competition and an abundant supply.

Just because:
Community banks bailed out by the government aren’t quite ready to repay Uncle Sam. Some banks say the cost of hanging on to the capital that helped them weather the depths of the financial crisis is worth it, Marketplace reported

Banks are paying just 5 percent a year in interest on the money, which is less than the 6.8 minimum rate federal student loan borrowers will pay if scheduled rate hikes go into effect as planned.  

Strange but true:
Consumers in Zimbabwe are literally waiting for change these days, The New York Times reported.

Since switching from its own 100 trillion dollar bills to US dollar bills a few years ago, Zimbabweans haven’t been able to make enough change.

It’s been dubbed “the coin problem,” the Times said. Coins are heavy to ship, so Zimbabwe doesn’t have very many quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies.

In a country where much of the population lives on $1 or $2 a day and transactions are often small, that’s led to what the Times called a “national headache.”