World’s top 10 consumers of oil

July 25, 2008

1. United States

The United States of America is the single largest consumer of oil. It uses as much as 20.73 million barrels per day.

2. China

A fast growing China is the world’s second largest user of oil. The world’s most populous nation uses 6.534 million barrels per day.

3. Japan

Japan is the third largest consumer of oil. The Asian nation consumes 5.578 million barrels per day.

4. Germany

Germany is the fourth biggest consumer of oil in the world. It uses 2.650 million barrels per day.

5. Russia

Russia is the fifth largest consumer of oil. It uses 2.500 million barrels per day.

6. India

India is the sixth largest consumer of oil. It burns up 2.450 million barrels per day.

7. Canada

Canada is the world’s seventh largest consumer of oil. It uses 2.294 million barrels per day.

8. South Korea

South Korea is the world’s eighth largest consumer of oil. It uses up 2.149 million barrels of oil per day.

9. Brazil

Brazil is the ninth largest user of oil. It guzzles 2.100 million barrels per day

10. France

France is the world’s tenth largest consumer of oil. It devours 1.970 million barrels per day.

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7 modern architectural wonders

May 23, 2008

Conde Nast Traveler, an American travel magazine, in its April issue highlighted seven mega architectural wonders stretching from China to Dubai to Canada.

New Museum of Contemporary Art (Manhattan, US)

New York Times described it as ‘viewing art in a stack of boxes’. As you climb out of the Prince Street subway station at Broadway in lower Manhattan, New York, a gleaming apparition grabs your attention. Designed by Japanese architects Kazuo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the firm SANAA, the $50 million, 60,000-square-foot-building is an eight-story stack of shiny, metallic boxes set off-kilter from one another. The museum contains several levels of galleries, which are designed as high-ceilinged, white-walled spaces, with concrete floors and narrow skylights illuminating one side.

Cumulus (Nordborg, Denmark)

An exhibit hall at Danfoss Universe, Nordborg, Denmark, and Cumulus is a spectacular building, which has an irregular roof, curves and angles, like a bite taken out of a cloud. The building openened on May 5, 2007. Designed by Jurgen H Mayer, the 1,000 sqm building hosts varying exhibitions throughout the year. The interior of the Cumulus building is kept in black and white, the only accents being the red cushions on the stairs and the exhibition props.

Kogod Courtyard (Washington DC, US)

The Kogod Courtyard, with its elegant glass canopy designed by world renowned architect Norman Foster, opened to the public on November 23, 2007 at the historic Patent Office Building that houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. Foster, winner of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize (1999), worked with the Smithsonian to create an innovative enclosure for the 28,000-square-foot (2,601-sq-meter) space at the centre of the building that is sensitive to the historic structure; the new ‘floating’ roof does not rest on the original building which was built in phases between 1836 and 1868.

Wembley Stadium (London, UK)

The new Wembley Stadium in London is an architectural masterpiece. It is the equivalent of 25,000 double-decker buses; the total length of the escalators is the same as a 400 meter running track; the stadium roof rises to 52 meters above the pitch; the new pitch is four meters lower than the previous one. Each of the two giant screens in the new stadium is the size of 600 domestic television sets. The soft drink dispensers can pour 30,000 cups in a little over 10 minutes Approximately 40,000 pints of beer can be served during half time in a football/rugby league match. The arch is 133 meters above the level of the external concourse. With a span of 315 meters, the arch is the longest single span roof structure in the world. With a diameter of 7.4 meters the arch is wide enough for a Channel Tunnel train to run through. The stadium will be a centerpiece of the 2012 Olympics.

Burj Dubai (UAE)

Burj Dubai is the world’s tallest building once completed. The final height of the building is a well kept secret because of ‘competition.’ But it is speculated that it will be around 2,275 feet and will exceed 160 floors. The tower is being constructed by a South Korean company, Samsung Engineering & Construction. This company also built the PETRONAS Twin Towers in Malaysia and the Taipei 101. The interior will be decorated by Giorgio Armani. An Armani Hotel will occupy the lower 37 floors. Floors 45 through 108 will have 700 private apartments. An outdoor swimming pool will be located on the 78th floor of the tower. Corporate offices and suites will fill most of the remaining floors, except for a 123rd floor lobby and 124th floor indoor/outdoor observation deck. It will also boast of the world’s fastest elevator.

The Crystal (Toronto, Canada)

The Crystal is the dramatic highlight of a $270 million renovation project intended to boost the Royal Ontario Museum’s role as a Toronto focal point. Designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, the Crystal comprises five interlocking, self-supporting prismatic structures that interface with, but are not attached to, the original historic Royal Ontario Museum buildings. The exterior is 25 per cent glass and 75 per cent extruded-brushed, aluminum-cladding strips in a warm silver color. The steel beams, each unique in its design and manufacture and ranging from 1 to 25 meters in length, were lifted one by one to their specific angle, creating complicated angle joints, sloped walls, and gallery ceilings. Approximately 3,500 tons of steel and 38 tons of bolts were used to create the skeleton, and roughly 9,000 cubic meters of concrete were poured. Michael Lee-Chin’s (chairman, Portland Holdings Inc) extraordinary $30 million gift to the ROM is an act of both gratitude and hope.

Red Ribbon (Qinghuang Dao, China)

The Tang He River Park site is a river corridor at the outskirts of the fast developing city of Qinghuang Dao, China, with lush vegetation and diverse species but was occupied by deserted irrigation structures and garbage dumps. Turenscape took a minimum design approach, integrating ecological principles with modern art. A ‘ribbon’ made of steel was introduced across the whole area parallel to the river and penetrates through the willow grove. This ‘red ribbon’ provides seating and displays native plants.


What you MUST know about Inflation

March 31, 2008

“Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.” — Sam Ewing.

“Inflation and credit expansion, the preferred methods of present day government openhandedness, do not add anything to the amount of resources available. They make some people more prosperous, but only to the extent that they make others poorer.” – Ludwig von Mises.

Everyone is facing the brunt of rising prices. Prices of all essential commodities are rising not just in India but across the world due to a fall in supply. Inflation has spiralled all over the world. With India importing food items, it is only adding more woes to the people.

The Indian economy is also facing a slowdown. The markets have also shed huge gains — March 25 was a sort on anomaly — taking a cue from global meltdown. Industrial production has slowed down, further decelerating the economy. There were risks from turbulence on global financial markets and from rising oil, metals, and wheat and rice prices worldwide. The rise in Inflation is a matter that causes worry to any government. When inflation is on the rise, all of us should be concerned.

What is inflation?

“Inflation is the most regressive form of taxation because it hits the poor the most.”-Narendra Jadhav, Vice Chancellor, University of Pune.

 Inflation is a rise in the prices of a specific set of goods or services. In either case, it is measured as the percentage rate of change of a price index. Food prices are soaring . . . all essential items like vegetables, oil, milk, sugar are getting costlier. Rentals and real estate rates have almost doubled in just a few months in most cities. The real estate prices are at record highs making life miserable, especially for people who have migrated to cities for jobs.

Why inflation hurts us badly

“Inflation is bringing us true democracy. For the first time in history, luxuries and necessities are selling at the same price.” — Robert Orben.

Inflation hits you badly as prices are rising. You end up spending more money for things that you could buy for les earlier.

What you could buy for $ 100, a few years ago, would now cost you nearly double. As a result, your savings will come down. As prices rise, the purchasing power of money goes down too. So to fight inflation, you must always invest money wisely. When you invest money, you must be careful about the return on your investment. The return on your investment must always be higher than the rate of inflation. You may have got a good pay hike, but were you able to save the extra cash? Well, if inflation is high, you end up spending more money so in effect the hike makes little sense. A high inflation rate negates the salary hike you have received.

Inflation reduces the purchasing power of your money. It hits retired folk and people with fixed incomes very badly. Inflation destabilizes the economy as consumers and investors change their spending habits. People tend to spend less when prices are up as a result production slows down resulting in job losses as well. Inflation also affects the distribution of income. Lenders and borrowers are also hit. Experts say a little inflation is good for the economy. It keeps the economy active as the prices of goods keep changing. In the short term, it encourages spending and borrowing and also encourages long term investments.

How inflation hits you

“The first panacea for a misguided nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.” — Ernest Hemingway.

Economists attribute inflation to a demand-pull theory. According to this, if there is a huge demand for products in all sectors, it results in a shortage of goods. Thus prices of commodities shoot up.

Another reason for inflation is the cost-push theory. It says that labor groups also trigger inflation. When wages for laborers’ are increased, producers raise the prices of products to make up for salary hike. The rising prices of food products, manufacturing products, and essential commodities push the inflation rate further.

Spiraling global crude oil prices have worsened the situation. Sometimes, banks create more liquidity by allowing more loans for people, giving them the purchasing power to buy more, as a result of which prices are driven up further. The demand-supply gap also drives inflation rates.

How is inflation calculated?

“Inflation is taxation without legislation.” Milton Friedman.

India uses the Wholesale Price Index to calculate and then decide the inflation rate in the economy. Most developed countries use the Consumer Price Index to calculate inflation. WPI is the index that is used to measure the change in the average price level of goods traded in wholesale market.

 In India, data on a total of 435 commodities’ prices is tracked through WPI which is an indicator of movement in prices of commodities in all trade and transactions.

CPI is a measure of a weighted average of prices of a specified set of goods and services purchased by consumers. It is a price index that tracks the prices of a specified basket of consumer goods and services, providing a measure of inflation.CPI are a fixed quantity price index and considered by some a cost of living index.

Many economists say that India must adopt CPI to calculate inflation as CPI measures the increase in price that a consumer will ultimately have to pay for. United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Canada, Singapore and China use CPI to measure inflation.

WPI does not measure the exact price rise consumers will experience because; it is calculated at the wholesale level.

Another issue with WPI is that more than 100 out of the 435 commodities included in the Index are no longer important for consumers. Even commodities like livestock feed are considered to measure the WPI. In India, inflation is calculated on a weekly basis.

Types of inflation

“Inflation is like sin; every government denounces it and every government practices it.” Frederick Leith-Ross .

 There are different types of inflation:  

 Deflation: It refers to a general falling level of prices. 

 Disinflation: This is a decrease in the rate of inflation.  

Hyperinflation: When prices zoom and inflation goes out-of-control, it is called hyperinflation. 

 Stagflation: It is a combination of inflation, rising unemployment and stagnation in the economy.  

Reflation: This refers to move to hike prices to fight deflationary pressures.