The tsunami may have happened some 33 months ago, but the fallout just keeps getting worse at the Fukushima. It keeps going from bad to worse with revelations coming out of Japan that the operator has detected radioactive materials that topped 36,000 times the permissible level in underground water extracted in the area. It has been feared that highly contaminated water is leaking to the ground from a trench that stretches from the No. 2 reactor building to the sea bank. The radioactive isotope detected this time suggests the possibility of radioactive materials remaining outside the trench.
/>Bloomberg reports that it will take years to fix Fukushima's toxic waters. A government advisory board says completing the measures to remedy the mess will take till March 2019. The plan doesn't include any technology to remove tritium isotopes from water, because none exists.
So what are they planning to do with the waste? The man in charge of the clean-up at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant says growing stores of contaminated water from the site will eventually have to be dumped into the sea. The chairman of the Fukushima Monitoring Committee, Dale Klein, has also admitted there are likely to be more blunders and slip-ups at the plant in the months and years to come.
The big news is the Volcker Rule designed to stop Wall Street from making massive, risky bets with money that should be flowing through the global economy becoming US law. Although the outline of the rule was set out in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law more than three years ago, financial executives, lobbyists and reform advocates have been anxiously awaiting the full text. Named for former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, the rule harkens back to the Glass-Steagall Act, a Depression-era law that separated commercial and investment banking but was repealed by Congress in 1999.
"It's a very serious blow to the gambling culture of Wall Street,'' Dennis Kelleher, CEO of Better Markets, a non-profit investor-advocacy group told USA Today. "It's much better than many people expected.''
Could this change the culture of Wall Street? Think again. As Daniel Fisher at Forbes says, the Volcker Rule is a gift for private equity and hedge funds. By driving banks out of more profitable and riskier types of lending, it leaves the market to non-banking institutions also known as "shadow banks".
Significantly, the shares of both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley went up when the change was announced, suggesting that most investors this rule change won't make any difference to the big banks. For them, it will be business as usual.
A report from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) has found that the Greek economy continued to shrink in the third quarter, with economic output down just shy of 3 per cent. If there's any good news in there, at least the economy isn't shrinking at quite the terrifying pace of just a few quarters back but it's still pretty bad.
How bad? According to the local press, Greece has fallen behind all the pledges it made when it received the last bailout. Overall, Athens was supposed to fulfill 135 commitments. In July, Greece completed 28 of its 35 memorandum (MoU) commitments; in August its record fell to 15 out of 26. In September, things got even worse as Greece completed 13 out of 47 agreed actions and in October only four out of 20. And, in November, Greece did not fulfill any of its seven commitments.
And it's hitting the population. Household disposable income in the country is down by more than 22 per cent over the last three years alone underlining the impact Greek families have felt from the ongoing crisis and implementation of austerity measures. As a result household consumption continues to plummet; it fell more than 8 per cent in the third quarter.
While the official data shows a decrease in Greek inflation, there's no doubt that people there will continue to do it tough for many years to come.