Caterpillar raises prices on most machines worldwide

Global machinery company Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT) filed an 8K with the SEC announcing some pricing actions that hike prices worldwide. From the release:

“Caterpillar is announcing price action of 0 – 3% worldwide on most machines. This price change will be effective January 2012.

In addition, emissions-related price increases of 2-6% will also apply in January for applicable products and regions.

This price change is a result of current industry factors as well as general economic conditions. Details by product will be released to dealers in the near future, and will vary across geographic regions and products.”

This is a surprising announcement given the rapid decline in commodity prices in the past several months and an earnings warning from Ingersoll-Rand (IR) announced just today. This pricing news suggests that global economic conditions are not yet recessionary.


Anticipating higher diamond prices

Investment funds are preparing to help investors chase higher diamond prices. Demand from India, China, and investors looking for trsuted hedges against the U.S. dollar are expected to keep driving diamond prices upward. For more see: “New Funds Target Expected Rise in Diamond Prices.”


Argentine government hunts down inflation reporters. Protecting spending programs?

The Argentine government says inflation is 9.8%. Everyone else thinks it could be as high as 20%. President Cristina Fernandez has decided to hunt down those reporters who dare challenge official government statistics which have been reportedly manipulated to lower the government’s borrowing costs. This is definitely a story that makes you appreciate the freedom of the press…and remind you how important it is not to let politics influence the collection of important economic data.

For more details see: “Argentina targets news reporting of inflation data.”

Part of the government’s motivation may also be to protect profligate spending that is boosting the economy at least in nominal terms. For more on the aggressive spending programs launched by Fernandez see “Argentine economic plan: Raise spending, salaries.”


An expensive Halloween awaits the Northeast

Hurricane Irene may have ruined Halloween for people living in the Northeast. The heavy rains from the hurricane washed out entire pumpkin crops and farmers are scrambling to save what little they have left. Farmers in unaffected areas are seeing pumpkin orders increase. The result is a doubling in current prices at the retail level. According to CNBC: “The wholesale price for a bin of 32 to 45 pumpkins ranged from $150 to $200 in upstate New York, about twice the normal price.”

The pumpkin crop is facing additional problems:

  • Postponed planting due to heavy rains before the hurricane.
  • A fungus breakout
  • A cold snap that could kill the remaining few pumpkins

Very scary.


High rare earth prices impact more and more products

In “China Consolidates Control of Rare Earth Industry“, the NY Times builds from a General Electric FAQ on rare earths (covered here) to describe the spreading impact of high rare earth prices. In addition to compact fluorescent bulbs, these prices are driving up the costs of giant wind turbines and hybrid gasoline-electric cars. Even Walmart has been forced to increase the price of the compact fluorescent bulbs it sells.

China’s efforts to consolidate its rare earths industry and to move it more effectively under the government’s watchful eyes promise to increase international pressures for manufacturers to relocate to China to get cheaper prices.

See the article reference above for more details.