Ireland and Singapore: tigers down – The Washington Times

SINGAPORE — Two of the world’s most open and successful economies face tough times as the global downturn marks the end of one era and opens a new period of peril and possibility for both. Singapore and Ireland have staked their fortunes on being small, export-oriented, investor-friendly dynamos. Singapore was one of the original Asian Tiger economies, and the label passed to the Atlantic nation in the 1990s, as 15 years of 5 percent average growth earned Ireland its “Celtic Tiger” reputation. But as Kishore Mahbubani, a former Singapore diplomat and author of The New Asian Hemisphere – The Irresistible Shift of Power to the East,  told The Washington Times, “being globalized has its downside – when the world economy stutters, the more open economies feel the pain first.” Both Singapore and Ireland are officially in recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Last week, U.S. computer giant Dell Inc. culled 2,000 jobs at its plant in Limerick in the west of Ireland, while Singapore’s Trade Ministry stated Jan. 2 that it expected the economy to contract 2 percent in 2009, the worst predicted performance of any Asian economy for the coming year.

Biofuels: more heat than light? – ISN

PORT MORESBY — The term ‘Biofuels’ might sound like a catchy green buzzword, but these alternatives to petroleum-based fuels have been around for a long time. The original Ford Model T was configured to run on ethanol rather than gasoline, and Rudolf Diesel ran his first demo engine on peanut oil. Biofuels were revived –  temporarily at least – by the 1970s oil embargo imposed by OPEC, as oil shortages and high fuel prices contributed to western economic stagnation. At the time, alternative energy sources were looked at, but subsequent economic revival and lower oil prices from the 1980s onward put these biofuels on the back burner Biofuels re-emerged in the late 1990s as the US mulled how to diversify its energy sources away from reliance on foreign oil imported from unstable or hostile states such as Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria