On Wednesday the Dow fell 242 points to 11613 erasing all of the gains already made in 2011 according to USA Today. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Nikkei was down only 1.4% on Thursday.
The Associated Press indicates that the yen hit a record high against the dollar due primarily by short term speculation that Japan will eventually be forced to repatriate some of its funds. The Bank of Japan injected 6 trillion yen into it's market again on Thursday. Goldman Sachs estimates that losses from the Japanese disaster could reach $200 billion, or 3% of Japan's economy.
India hiked its interest rate in order to control inflation which is at 8% in that country. Associated Press indicates they are one of the most aggressive Asian countries in trying to control inflation.
One of the reasons for Wednesday's market downfall, in addition to the Japanese nuclear crisis, was the dismal housing starts information in the U.S. The Washington Post reports that new home starts in February were at their lowest since April 2009, resulting in a 22.5% drop from January . This is the biggest drop since 1984. The housing starts are lower due to the number of existing homes for sale and the number of available foreclosures. The drop was the highest in the Midwest at 48.6%.
USA Today reports that donations to Japan relief is much lower than for other recent disasters. While $49 million has been raised, Haiti relief had garnered $296 million in the same time frame. Part of the reason is a belief that Japan has a self-sustaining economy, the lack of star power, getting behind the cause, the ongoing uncertainty of the extent of the disaster because of the nuclear loud, and the stoicism of the Japanese people who are reluctant to give media interviews.
Our Congressman can find innovative ways to raise money to support their own initiatives. Now that earmarks have been banned, enterprising Congressmen are going directly to the agencies that have received cash o promote their own states' interest and offering their future support for additional funding, as reported by the New York Times. Critics indicate this is much less transparent than earmarks and benefits more experienced legislators.