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Portfolio > Economy & Markets

Getting the Numbers Straight in Japan

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I’ve been fortunate to get a few things right lately. First off, my comment that Apple stock was over-weighted in the Nasdaq 100 was followed by a surprise announcement that the Nasdaq decided to rescale their index

Next, my blog post from last week commenting on the need to get to a budget agreement was followed by – a budget agreement.

So what’s next? Assuming I’ve found a genie in a bottle, please turn your attention to the recent news that Japan’s nuclear accident has been assigned the highest possible severity level – right up there with Chernobyl. This is based on the International Nuclear Events Scale, which goes from Level 1 (an anomalous event) to a Level 7 (major accident).

Considering that the amount of radiation released in Japan is one-tenth that of Russia’s infamous nuclear accident, and that no one has yet died in Japan (as opposed to 28 deaths from radiation at Chernobyl), I think it makes some sense to add a little granularity to this scale.

In other words, Japan should be more of a 7.0, and Chernobyl a 7.99. And like the scale used to measure earthquakes, the difference between two events in the same category can be significant.

The accident in Japan is indeed serious, but is clearly not in the same league as the Russian disaster from 1986.


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