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When film died, we saw many other potential applications in technology and medicine. But the cost was just too high. Batteries for electrical cars were one. Chlorine replacement in pools another. Colloidal Silver suspensions for various ailments a third. Microwave blocking was another. None happened on a large scale for various reasons. But now it is starting to happen in heating elements. This is no aberration. It's the beginning of an application trend.
Despite being better than copper in many conductive applications, the price of silver was too high for heating elements. And so copper was used. Technology finally devised more efficient use of Silver in windshield heating to replace copper filament and decrease glare. And that means more silver will be used. And that, in turn means more similar applications will be researched.
For decades, the dollar has been the world's most widely used currency. Many governments hold a large portion of their reserves in dollars. Crude oil and many commodities are priced in dollars. Business deals around the world are done in dollars.
But the financial crisis has highlighted how America's economic problems — and by extension the dollar — can wreak havoc on nations around the world. China is in a bind. To keep the value of its currency steady — some say undervalued — the Chinese government has to recycle its huge trade surpluses, and the biggest, most liquid option for investing them is U.S. government debt.
To better insulate countries from the ills of one country or one currency, Zhou said the IMF should create a "reserve currency" based on shares in the body held by its 185 member nations, known as special drawing rights, or SDRs.
He said it also should be used for trade, pricing commodities and accounting, not just government finance.
In Washington, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner both rejected China's call for a global alternative to the U.S. dollar's role as the international reserve currency.
And the European Union's top economy official said the dollar's role as the international reserve currency is secure despite China's proposal.
"Everybody agrees also that the present world reserve currency, the dollar, is there and will continue to be there for a long period of time," EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Tuesday after a meeting of the European Commission.
Zhou also called for changing how SDRs are valued. Currently, they are based on the value of four currencies — the dollar, euro, yen and British pound. "The basket of currencies forming the basis for SDR valuation should be expanded to include currencies of all major economies," he wrote.
Beijing has been unusually bold in recent months in expressing concern about Washington's financial management and pushing for global economic changes. That reflects both its relative financial health and growing concern that increased globalization means missteps abroad could harm its own economy.
By JOE MCDONALDBUSINESS WRITER BEIJING
Gold Can Really Get Expensive If Miners Don't Start Digging Up More Of It
The only way for us to acquire more is to dig, but for how much longer?
Goldman Sachs analyst Eugene King took a stab at answering this question last year, estimating we have only “20 years of known mineable reserves of gold.” The operative word here is “known.” If King’s projection turns out to be accurate, and the last “known” gold nugget is exhumed from the earth in 2035, that won’t necessarily spell the end of gold mining. Exploration will surely continue as it always has—though at a much higher cost.
In fact, our insatiable pursuit of gold might one day soon take us to space, as President Barack Obama signed legislation in November that permits commercial mineral extraction on asteroids and the moon. Many near-Earth asteroids are said to contain trillions of dollars’ worth of precious metals and other minerals, but that’s a discussion for another time.
We’ll probably see a surge in mergers and acquisitions. I think that as long as they have reliable output, mid-cap companies could be gobbled up by the Barricks and Newmonts of the world.
Larry Scharf is a senior vice president of investments at Raymond James in Connecticut. One of Larry’s favourite markets – and one which he’s been studying and investing in for over 30 years – is the gold market.
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