National / International News

VIDEO: 'Britain will support IS strategy'

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 15:04
The US envoy tasked by President Obama with leading the fight against the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria tells BBC Newsnight says Britain will "support us".

New home registrations at 2007 level

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 15:03
Builders are preparing to construct new UK homes at a rate not seen since the before the financial crisis, new figures show.

In pictures: Ottawa shootings

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 15:03
Images from outside the Canadian parliament

KPMG and FSA criticised over Co-op

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 15:01
KPMG and financial regulators have been criticised in a report by MPs into Co-op Bank's failed bid to buy 632 Lloyds branches last year.

Balotelli shirt swap angers Rodgers

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 15:01
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is unhappy Mario Balotelli swapped shirts with a Real Madrid player at half-time.

NHS 'needs extra cash and overhaul'

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 15:00
The NHS in England needs extra money and drastic changes to the way services are organised if patient care is not to suffer, health bosses say.

Obama 'optimistic' over Ebola in US

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 14:59
President Barack Obama expresses cautious optimism about the Ebola situation in the US, as new screening rules are introduced in the country.

VIDEO: Wilko Johnson says he is cancer free

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 14:47
Former Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson says he has been cured of the terminal pancreatic cancer with which he was diagnosed in 2012.

Gamble paid off for Arsenal - Wenger

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 14:40
Arsene Wenger says his tactical 'gamble' paid off after Arsenal earned a dramatic Champions League win at Anderlecht.

In pictures: India celebrates Diwali

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 14:27
Indians celebrate Diwali, the biggest Hindu festival

VIDEO: Juncker firm on EU migration rules

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 14:26
Jean-Claude Juncker, the incoming president of the European Commission, has insisted that rules on freedom of movement in Europe cannot be changed.

Boy, 9, and man killed in house fire

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 14:19
A nine-year-old boy and a 44-year-old man die after a house fire in Penistone, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire Police said.

Will coal exports kill the Great Barrier Reef?

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 14:18
Will coal exports kill the Great Barrier Reef?

Mexico orders Iguala mayor's arrest

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 13:58
Mexico orders the arrest of the mayor of the southern town of Iguala, where 43 students disappeared after clashing with police last month.

Coping In A Drier World: California's Drought Survival Strategy

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-22 13:26

The dearth of water in this state is showing no signs of easing. Officials have introduced plans to revamp the water rationing and distribution systems until the rains come. If they ever come.

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Why the VIX is like the Headless Horseman

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-10-22 13:03

It’s Halloween, so we’re all busy planning what to wear for the annual scary holiday party.

I’m going as the VIX. Why? Because nothing scares the Street like the Fear Index.

Sure, James Carville may insist that the bond market is way more intimidating, but if it’s a short, sharp shock you want, I say you can’t beat the VIX. Just like the Headless Horseman, it gallops in and scares the bejeezus out of everyone with great results: witness the global markets last week. Traders and investors were reduced to a bunch of terrified, shivering jellies when they were told the VIX had soared to a two-year high of 30.

So what is the VIX?

The VIX is the volatility index. Volatility is when something goes up and down. Like my mood. If I’m all happy one day and in a raging fury the next, you might say I have a volatile temper. Not necessarily a bad temper – more mercurial. It’s the same with stocks and the indices that track them. The more up and down they go – the wilder the swings in the market – the more volatile they are, and some smart boffins have worked out how to measure that volatility on an index: the VIX. 

So how does the VIX measure volatility?

It does it by taking traders’ temperature. Not literally – that would really be something – rather, it tracks their expectations by watching how they make bets on what they think the S&P 500 index will do over the next 30 days. Using the wonder of math, those bets are crunched in various ways, and then displayed on a graph. If the traders think the market will only be a little bit bumpy, the VIX number will be low. If they fear there will be crazy wild swings, with stocks bouncing up and down like a roller coaster, the VIX number will be high. Hence the Fear Index.

So a high VIX number is bad?

Not necessarily. Think of the markets as the ocean and the VIX as a surf forecast. If the report says we’re going to have double overhead waves, driving rain and five mile-an-hour rip currents, a lot of surfers (like me) are going to stay in bed. Or maybe we’ll go down to the beach, stand on the shore and watch as the more adventurous and professional surfers (nutters) paddle out. Some of those daredevils will rue the day. They’ll come back with broken boards, splintered limbs and shattered dreams. But the really good – or lucky – ones will have an amazing time. Traders are like surfers. When the market is plunging one day and soaring the next, many step out of the market, which is why volume often falls when volatility is high. Most of those who have the nerve to hang in there will be shredded. But a lucky few will make pots of money, buying on the dips and selling on the highs. Like Goldman Sachs, which reported in its latest earnings release that a big chunk of its profits came from trading on the volatility in the markets.   

What’s behind this latest bout of volatility?

You can pick your villain. On the downside, you’ve got Ebola, continued conflict in the Middle East, protests in Hong Kong, poor earnings from some select blue chips in the U.S. (GE, IBM), fears of a global slowdown, and worries about the draw-down in government stimulus. On the upside, here in the U.S. you’ve got falling unemployment, rising consumer sentiment, falling oil prices, some great earnings from banks and tech companies, the upcoming holiday season and, of course, the fact that stock prices have fallen recently, creating a buying opportunity.

Sounds dangerous. Should we worried that the end is nigh?

It’s true that the VIX is still at a two-year high, but don’t panic. Breathe in and out of a paper bag and keep saying to yourself, “this too shall pass.” If you’re an individual investor, that means you should leave your stock where it is. Remember that these days you’re not just up against some sleazy dude in a fancy Italian suit and loud suspenders, you’re up against the machines, too.  So do the smart thing, and hang out on the beach sipping coffee while you watch the show. Remember, the VIX is just like the Headless Horseman: it gallops through the market, scares the wits out of everyone, and creates a hell of a mess. But the fear never lasts for long, and besides, it usually makes for some great stories.

Caterham F1 future in fresh doubt

BBC - Wed, 2014-10-22 12:50
More doubt is cast on the future of Caterham as their new owners threaten to quit the team in a row with ex-owner Tony Fernandes.

Drones Are Taking Pictures That Could Demystify A Malaria Surge

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-22 12:38

How is a rare strain of malaria spreading near cities in Southeast Asia? That's the question that's been puzzling a team of scientists. And they're using drones to find the answer.

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The Slide Rule: A Computing Device That Put A Man On The Moon

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-22 12:31

Before the smartphone, the laptop and the pocket calculator, there was a powerful mechanical computer. Our new series, Tools of the Trade, begins with a look at the slide rule.

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Cloud Data Security Concerns Raised After Reported Attack In China

NPR News - Wed, 2014-10-22 12:31

A group says the Chinese government backed an attack against users of Apple's iCloud service. Experts worry attacks that target weaknesses in the transfer of data on the cloud will become more common.

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