Inside the Lucky Dragon van sitting by the curb at the Chinese consulate in New York (left) is a couch, a folding chair, two Mac laptop computers and a printer running off the cigarette lighter/DC connector. On the side of the van is the name: Lucky Dragon Mobile Visa Consultants. They are serving 25 to 50 people every working day of the week. 

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul noted on Tuesday that efforts to rein in government spending appeared to be in vain, due to an agreement reached with the White House during the recent debt ceiling negotiations. Congress would have to pass a joint resolution to oppose any extension of the debt ceiling, which President Obama is free to veto. Said Paul: “A default is becoming more mathematically unavoidable with ... every debt ceiling increase.”

washing machinesOne of the ways that Whirlpool Corporation celebrated its 100th anniversary last year was to file petitions against two of its main South Korean competitors for “dumping” washing machines onto the market on Black Friday. Whirlpool claimed that Samsung was selling their 3.7 cubic-foot top-loading washing machines at a wholesale price of $363.18, way below the $751.46 Whirlpool says it would cost them to make the same product. Consequently, Samsung and LG Electronics sold thousands of their washers over the Black Friday weekend, taking substantial market share away from Whirlpool.

The spate of good news about the economy, headed up by the National Association of Realtors (NAR)’s report that pending home sales increased by 7.3 percent in November from October, has resulted in improved outlooks by many observers, along with warnings from others not to get overly confident.

China is the largest producer of rare earth elements, or “rare earths, “which are important for many sophisticated technology applications. In fact, it has been estimated that China has 97 percent of the current production of these elements. The Chinese government has restricted exports of these rare earths and at least part of the reason appears to be to push up the price of the rare earths on the international market, and closely related to that was the goal of giving Chinese manufacturers a competitive advantage in international markets by giving these operations lower production costs of the rare earths that they use.

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