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The video is shocking. A twin-engine plane comes into view over the skyline of Taipei, Taiwan. Losing altitude rapidly, it veers to the left, careens over a bridge, clips a taxi, then plunges into a river — all in view of a dashcam mounted on a passing car!
At least 25 people are confirmed dead on TransAsia Flight 235, with several others missing. But this is only the latest in a series of regional air disasters.
A separate TransAsia flight crashed in July, claiming 48 lives in the process. We had the much larger AirAsia Flight 8501 crash in late December, which killed 162 people. And we had two Air Malaysia disasters — Flight 17 that was shot down over Ukraine, killing 298, and Flight 370, which disappeared and has never been found, killing 239.
Then here at home, a New York City commuter rail train crashed into an SUV late last night. The accident killed the car’s driver and five people on the train, making it the deadliest accident in the 32-year history of the Metro-North railroad.
|It could take the NTSB months to figure out what caused the New York train accident.|
There’s no definitive word on the cause of the New York accident, and a National Transportation Safety Board investigation could take months to answer definitively. But witnesses say the SUV driver may have gotten stuck on the tracks. As for the latest disaster in Taiwan, the pilot may have issued a Mayday shortly after takeoff. He reportedly blamed an engine failure.
Two more disasters. Two more groupings of senseless deaths. It breaks your heart. But is it symptomatic of a broader problem with transportation safety? Or just a random series of events?
Certainly I’ve seen far too many drivers try to navigate around railroad gates in my lifetime, and a handful get stuck on the tracks between cars in front of them and cars behind them. And I’m shocked at the fact we don’t have technology that can better track airplanes like the Malaysian jetliner that went missing — not to mention more detailed data collection from the “black boxes” that are found.
|“Are we just doomed to suffer accidents like these no matter how much money and time we throw at the problems?”|
What more can be done?
Do local governments need to step in and redesign railroad gates to prevent unauthorized crossings? Do airlines need to be forced to upgrade their technology to enable better tracking and data collection? Should there be better international coordination when it comes to tracking airplanes, or conducting accident investigations?
Or sadly, are we just doomed to suffer accidents like these no matter how much money and time we throw at the problems? Those are the questions I’m weighing today, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts. So please do go to the Money and Markets website and share them with me.
|Our Readers Speak|
Market volatility has picked up dramatically — not only in the energy markets, but stocks, currencies, and bonds as well. I shared my opinions about whether these are “Big Reversals” that are due to stick, and you responded with differing opinions.
Reader Billy responded with a hearty dose of skepticism, saying: “Is this the ‘Big Reversal’? Absolutely NOT. Absolutely nothing has changed since yesterday from a geo-political, central banking, commodities demand, financial, demographic, technical, cyclical, macro-economic standpoint, or most importantly private and sovereign DEBT standpoint.
“In fact, it can be argued that this almost 500-point rise in two days is exactly the volatility that occurs before major trend reversals. It is a very ominous sign and fits perfectly with volatility technical analysis.”
But Reader Fred1 is looking for at least some counter-trend moves here. He said: “The euro is due for a large reversal maybe of several weeks. Oil is due for a small reversal and I think that it will very soon be on the way back down. Market as a whole is probably oversold.”
Speaking of oil, Reader Scott said he doesn’t see much life in the energy markets this year. His view: “Oil will average $50/barrel for the entire 2015. There will of course be relief rallies and pullbacks along the way. But I believe oil flows sideways for at least this year.”
Thanks for adding your comments to the mix! I guess you could say I’m more bullish on the outlook for energy given the wildly oversold nature of the commodity and the stocks in the sector.
Even if I’m wrong, and we get a deeper pullback, we’re talking about companies that have already lost 60 percent, 70 percent, or 80 percent of their value. That means a lot of bad news is priced in — opening the door to big potential gains if we get even very modestly positive developments.
Anything else you’d like to add to this running discussion? Then you know the drill — hit up the website and add your comments!
|Other Developments of the Day|
The massive three-day surge in oil prices? We gave a chunk of it back today. So is the rally over, or is the bottom in?
I lean much more toward the latter possibility. But in the spirit of debate, here’s a Wall Street Journal story that weighs in with some skepticism. (Then again, at least one OPEC bigwig is projecting $200-a-barrel oil. Yikes!)
China joined the list of global central banks that are easing monetary policy to spur growth. The People’s Bank of China cut the reserve requirement for Chinese banks by a half of a percentage point. That allows banks to lend more money if they so choose — potentially 500 billion yuan ($81 billion) more.
Will it “work” and fix the Chinese economy? Doubtful. But it helped juice Chinese share prices overnight.
It’s official: Staples (SPLS, Weiss Ratings: A-) is buying competitor Office Depot (ODP, Weiss Ratings: C) for $6.3 billion — a 44 percent premium to where ODP was trading just two days earlier.
The Federal Trade commission (FTC) will need to review the transaction to see if any antitrust concerns are raised. But given the competition for office supply sales from non-dedicated product retail stores (think Wal-Mart, etc.) and online vendors, a deal is more likely to pass muster now than it would’ve been several years ago.
Any thoughts you’d like to add on these tragic transportation accidents? The latest mega-merger in the retail industry? Or anything else you’ve seen in the press over the last day or two? Then head over to the website and do so now!
Until next time,