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Japan still has great influence on global financial markets

Japan still has great influence on global financial markets

Finance
IT IS the summer of 1979 and Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, the everyman-hero of John Updike’s series of novels, is running a car showroom in Brewer, Pennsylvania. There is a pervasive mood of decline. Local textile mills have closed. Gas prices are soaring. No one wants the traded-in, Detroit-made cars clogging the lot. Yet Rabbit is serene. His is a Toyota franchise. So his cars have the best mileage and lowest servicing costs. When you buy one, he tells his customers, you are turning your dollars into yen.“Rabbit is Rich” evokes the time when America was first unnerved by the rise of a rival economic power. Japan had taken leadership from America in a succession of industries, including textiles, consumer electronics and steel. It was threatening to topple the ca...
India's massive state banks are in trouble. That's great news for some

India's massive state banks are in trouble. That's great news for some

Finance
India's banking sector crisis has left most state lenders hamstrung with mounting levels of bad loans, investigations into fraud and restricted growth opportunities. Amid that storm, private banks are set to emerge as winners. India's public-sector financial institutions control about 70 percent of all banking assets in the country, but they have the highest exposure to soured loans amounting to as much as $ 150 billion. In fact, the 21 state-owned banks had stressed loans of about 8.26 trillion rupees ($ 120 billion) as of Dec. 31, Reuters reported. Private sector lenders, meanwhile, reportedly had a bad loan pile of just ab...
Shark sighted off Majorca, first great white there in 40 years

Shark sighted off Majorca, first great white there in 40 years

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device For the first time in more than 40 years, a great white shark has been recorded swimming off the Spanish Mediterranean island of Majorca.A wildlife conservation group captured footage of the shark wandering around the Cabrera archipelago.The last confirmed sighting of such a fish in the Balearic Islands was by a fisherman in 1976.Great whites can weigh up to two tonnes, grow to lengths of 20ft (6m) and reach speeds of 40km/h (25mph).Why the Jaws shark is not a 'man-eating monster'"The presence of great white sharks in Spanish waters has been a constant rumour," biologist and documentary maker Fernando López-Mirones told Efe news agency."However, we've been unable to document their presence fo...
Heatwaves 'cook' Great Barrier Reef corals

Heatwaves 'cook' Great Barrier Reef corals

Science
Prolonged ocean warming events, known as marine heatwaves, take a significant toll on the complex ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef.This is according to a new study on the impacts of the 2016 marine heatwave, published in Nature.In surveying the 3,863 individual reefs that make up the system off Australia's north-east coast, scientists found that 29% of communities were affected.In some cases up to 90% of coral died, in a process known as bleaching.This occurs when the stress of elevated temperatures causes a breakdown of the coral's symbiotic relationship with its algae, which provide the coral with energy to survive, and give the reef its distinctive colours. Certain coral species are more susceptible to this heat-induced stress, and the 2016 marine heatwave saw the death of many tabul...
New scanning technique reveals secrets behind great paintings

New scanning technique reveals secrets behind great paintings

Science
Researchers in the US have used a new scanning technique to discover a painting underneath one of Pablo Picasso's great works of art, the Crouching Woman (La Misereuse Accroupie). Underneath the oil painting is a landscape of Barcelona which, it turns out, Picasso used as the basis of his masterpiece.The new x-ray fluorescence system is cheaper than alternative art scanning systems - and it is portable, making it available to any gallery that wants it. Details were revealed at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement for Science in Austin, Texas.The Crouching Woman is a painting from Picasso's blue period. Media playback is unsupported on your deviceWhat is remarkable is that the landscape painting beneath - probably by a student artist - is turned 90 degrees. Th...