Archive for the ‘costs’ Category

Economy: McDonald’s Cuts Prices in China

February 5, 2009

When McDonald’s sharply lowers the price of the Filet-O-Fish and Double Cheeseburger in China, one thing is clear: the global slowdown has truly arrived in the once sizzling Asian economy.

By BETTINA WASSENER
The New York Times

McDonald’s announced Thursday that the world’s most populous nation would now be able to feast on four new combo McDonald’s meals — also featuring a chicken filet burger and a pork burger — for 16.50 yuan, or $2.41, a savings of up to one-third from the former price.

The special promotion, McDonald’s said, is “in line with the government’s direction to stimulate domestic demand” and “help build a stronger economy.” As the economy slows, “we can do our part by helping stimulate domestic demand in the restaurant sector,” said Jeff Schwartz, McDonald’s China chief executive.

Chinese walk past a McDonald's outlet in Shenyang in northeast ... 
Chinese walk past a McDonald’s outlet in Shenyang in northeast China’s Liaoning province Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009. The world’s largest fast-food chain says it has cut some prices by as much as a third in China and half of its products are sold at the lowest prices in a decade.(AP Photo)

McDonald’s is not the only food retailer to have lowered prices in China Others like KFC also have launched promotions as shoppers in China began to fret about slowing growth and rising unemployment. But the price reductions by one of the world’s best-known companies highlight how the economic downturn that began in the United States has changed shopping — and selling — patterns as far away as China.

Just a year ago, the prices of staples like pork, rice and cooking oil were soaring, lifting inflation and threatening to overheat the Chinese economy….

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/b
usiness/worldbusiness/06mcdonalds.html

Methamphetamine use costs U.S. $23 billion a year

February 4, 2009

Methamphetamine use costs the United States about $23.4 billion a year considering lost lives and productivity, drug treatment, law enforcement expenses and other factors, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Methamphetamine, also called meth, is a highly addictive stimulant that users inject, snort, smoke or swallow. A form called crystal meth looks like fragments of glass and is smoked using a glass pipe like those used to smoke crack cocaine.

By Will Dunham, Reuters

The report by the nonprofit RAND Corporation found that costs relating to the 900 people who died from using meth in 2005 and the addiction of many thousands of others accounted for two-thirds of the total economic burden.

“Our study represents the most comprehensive assessment so far of the economic costs of meth use in the United States. It shows the impact of methamphetamine is substantial,” RAND economist Nancy Nicosia said in a telephone interview.

Arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating methamphetamine users plus the economic cost of various crimes they commit amounted to $4.2 billion in 2005, according to the report.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/2009020
4/hl_nm/us_methamphetamine_usa

How To Pay For 21st Century Military

December 21, 2008

In recent weeks, this page has called for major changes in America’s armed forces: more ground forces, less reliance on the Reserves, new equipment and training to replace cold-war weapons systems and doctrines.

New York Times Editorial
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Money will have to be found to pay for all of this, and the Pentagon can no longer be handed a blank check, as happened throughout the Bush years.

Since 2001, basic defense spending has risen by 40 percent in real post-inflation dollars. That is not counting the huge supplemental budgets passed — with little serious review or debate — each year to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such unquestioned largess has shielded the Pentagon from any real pressure to cut unneeded weapons systems and other wasteful expenses.

As a result, there is plenty of fat in the defense budget. Here is what we think can be cut back or canceled in order to pay for new equipment and other reforms that are truly essential to keep this country safe:

End production of the Air Force’s F-22. The F-22 was designed to ensure victory in air-to-air dogfights with the kind of futuristic fighters that the Soviet Union did not last long enough to build. The Air Force should instead rely on its version of the new high-performance F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which comes into production in 2012 and like the F-22 uses stealth technology to elude enemy radar.


F-22

Until then, it can use upgraded versions of the F-16, which can outperform anything now flown by any potential foe. The F-35 will provide a still larger margin of superiority. The net annual savings: about $3 billion.

Cancel the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyer. This is a stealthy blue water combat ship designed to fight the kind of midocean battles no other nation is preparing to wage. The Navy can rely on the existing DDG-51 Arleigh Burke class destroyer, a powerful, well-armed ship that incorporates the advanced Aegis combat system for tracking and destroying multiple air, ship and submarine targets. The Navy has sharply cut back the number of Zumwalts on order from 32 to two.


Zumwalt destroyer

Cutting the last two could save more than $3 billion a year that should be used to buy more of the littoral combat ships that are really needed. Those ships can move quickly in shallow offshore waters and provide helicopter and other close-in support for far more likely ground combat operations.

Halt production of the Virginia class sub. Ten of these unneeded attack submarines — modeled on the cold-war-era Seawolf, whose mission was to counter Soviet attack and nuclear launch submarines — have already been built. The program is little more than a public works project to keep the Newport News, Va., and Groton, Conn., naval shipyards in business.

USS Virginia (SSN-774)
USS Virginia

The Navy can extend the operating lives of the existing fleet of Los Angeles class fast-attack nuclear submarines, which can capably perform all needed post-cold-war missions — from launching cruise missiles to countering China’s expanding but technologically inferior submarine fleet. Net savings: $2.5 billion.

Pull the plug on the Marine Corps’s V-22 Osprey. After 25 years of trying, this futuristic and unnecessary vertical takeoff and landing aircraft has yet to prove reliable or safe. The 80 already built are more than enough. Instead of adding 400 more, the Marine Corps should buy more of the proven H-92 and CH-53 helicopters. Net savings: $2 billion to 2.5 billion.

Halt premature deployment of missile defense. The Pentagon wants to spend roughly $9 billion on ballistic missile defense next year. That includes money to deploy additional interceptors in Alaska and build new installations in central Europe. After spending some $150 billion over the past 25 years, the Pentagon has yet to come up with a national missile defense system reliable enough to provide real security. The existing technology can be easily fooled by launching cheap metal decoys along with an incoming warhead.


Israel’s Arrow missile grew from U.S. missile defense program

We do not minimize the danger from ballistic missiles. We agree there should be continued testing and research on more feasible approaches. Since the most likely threat would come from Iran or North Korea, there should be serious discussions with the Russians about a possible joint missile defense program. (We know the system poses no threat to Russia, but it is time to take away the excuse.) A research program would cost about $5 billion annually, for a net savings of nearly $5 billion.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/opinion/21sun1.html?_r=1

OPEC Cuts Production 2.2 Million Barrels Per Day

December 17, 2008

OPEC says it is cutting 2.2 million barrels a day from its output — the largest ever at one time — to stem crude prices that have plummeted over 70 percent from summer highs of nearly $150.

An OPEC statement says its latest announcements means it is taking 4.2 million barrels a day off the market compared to September levels. The 4.2 million figure includes more than 500,000 barrels of overproduction OPEC said in September it would eliminate and a formal cut of 1.5 million barrels a day that it agreed on last month.

That amounts to a new reduction of 2.2 million barrels announced Wednesday.

In practice, “it’s 2.2” said OPEC President Chakib Khelil.

Members among the 13-nation organization were officially producing a daily 29.045 million barrels in September.

–Associated Press

London 2012 Olympics ‘Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack’

December 15, 2008

John Patten, a former Home Office minister and an advisor to the British Olympic Association, has warned that inadequate security procedures have left London 2012 venues vulnerable to terrorist attack.

By Paul Kelso
The Telegraph (UK)
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Patten, who was a Cabinet minister in the last Conservative government and served as Northern Ireland secretary said that the Olympic Park site in east London is already vulnerable to terrorists who could plant smart bombs in the foundations of venues currently under construction.

Writing in the latest edition of The Spectator, Patten, who is a member of the BOA’s advisory board, claims that well-placed sources have told him the Olympic project is suffering from a lack of security planning.

Patten claims that the acrimonious departure of Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who was overseeing Olympic security before he sued the force claiming racial equality, has hindered the project.

London 2012 'vulnerable to terrorist attack'

Centre of attraction: an artist’s impression of the London 2012 stadium now under construction and which could be vulnerable to attack

He also suggests that the key agencies involved in organising security are bickering over who takes the lead role, undermining confidence in the entire project.

“In an age of determined and technologically sophisticated incremental terrorism, the Met and the Security Services must overcome everything from highly unfortunate public rows over employment discrimination affecting key officers involved to more private inter-agency rivalries,” Patten writes.

“Forget about policing crowds in 2012, pipework and brickwork is being laid now which is vulnerable to smart devices that can lurk latent until 2012. At least one person from that world tells me that there is no real integrated concept of operations yet. Someone or somebody must provide that focus and work with a semi-detached Home Secretary.”

Patten’s observations, part of a wide-ranging critique of the project, will fuel concerns already expressed that security planning is behind schedule.

Earlier this year, the Public Accounts Committee warned that security master-planning for the project was behind schedule.

The Home Office is working on a strategy document and had planned to put it to the Olympic board before the end of the year. It is expected to unveil its plans in the new year.

When questioned on the issue by The Daily Telegraph last month, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was satisfied that the total security budget of £838 million would be sufficient to cover the final bill, but declined to comment on details of the plan.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/olympics/london
2012/3703883/London-2012-vulnerable-to-terrorist-attack.html

Airlines set to lose $5 billion in 2008

December 9, 2008

Global airlines look set to return total losses of $5.0 billion in 2008 and are heading for $2.5 billion of losses in 2009, industry body IATA said on Tuesday.

The 2008 figure was slightly less than the deficit of $5.2 billion which IATA — the International Air Transport Association — predicted in September, due mainly to the rapid decline in fuel prices, and is lower than the 2009 figure of $4.1 billion it had forecast previously.

“The outlook is bleak. The chronic industry crisis will continue into 2009 with $2.5 billion in losses. We face the worst revenue environment in 50 years,” said IATA Director General Giovanni Bisignani.

Reuters

A Qantas aircraft (left) is parked near British Airways jets ... 
A Qantas aircraft (left) is parked near British Airways jets at Heathrow airport. Qantas on Monday said that a proposed merger with British Airways was not guaranteed and could stumble over the European carrier’s merger talks with a Spanish airline and its pension fund liabilities.(AFP/File/Chris Ratcliffe)

Air cargo traffic, which makes up 35 percent of goods traded internationally, is continuing its decline, he said.

The 7.9 percent decline in air cargo in October, the fifth consecutive month of increasingly severe drops, was a clear indication that “the worst is yet to come” for airlines and the slowing global economy, according to the Geneva-based body.

North American airlines are expected to be the only region making a profit in 2009, but only of some $300 million, less than 1 percent of revenue, it said.

IATA’s forecasts for 2009 were all based on an average price of $60 a barrel for oil.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081209/bs_nm/us_airlines_iata;_ylt=ArSlX
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