Friday, August 28, 2015

SAR #15240


An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” Plutarch
Wording: Chinese investors haven’t been investing based on how the economy is doing, but rather, based on what they think the government will do to prop up the market.” Really, just Chinese investors?
Food For Thought: The first half of 2015 has seen the worst decline in world trade since the 2009 crisis.”
Wading In: The NASA now says that the IPCC's 2013 estimate of sea level rise was a tad conservative and it is now expected to be at least three feet in the next century. That will force 150 million people to relocate and will flood several major cities. The increase is due to the rapidly increasing rate that ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting.
It's Half Time: The BEA has revised its guesses of 2015 GDP growth. First quarter grew at a 0.6% annual rate, second quarter 3.7% (up from 2.3%i) and third quarter growth is now projected to be about 1.4%. Don't bank on it.
Business is Booming: A Chinese arms dealer has sold $20 million in weaponry to South Sudan, where Israeli weapons are widely used in the civil war. Where is the money for these weapons coming from, and why?
Perspective: Drought has so severely reduced maize (corn to Americans) production in Zimbabwe that less than 25% of children under 2 get minimum levels of nutrition. Half of all children under 5 years old suffer from anemia. Maybe we could encourage the Republicans who so want to force unwilling mothers to bring unwanted children into the world to refocus their fervor on feeding some of those that are already here.
Technically Speaking: 26 Japanese universities are abolishing courses in the humanities and social sciences. Doesn't pay.
Magic Decoder Ring: When analysts say “At a time when the oil price is languishing at its lowest level in six years, producers need to find half a trillion dollars to repay debt.” What they mean is that they've got to borrow another half trillion buckeroos to pay back their current debts so they can keep drilling for oil no one wants. Sounds like a plan.
Can't Win: Widespread Roundup use has caused the monarch butterfly population to plummet by a billion. Now their Mexican wintering habitat is being degraded by illegal logging. Say goodnight, Gracie.
She's Right: "There is no tolerance for those people who question the dignity of others, no tolerance for those who are not willing to help where legal and human help is required.” Angela Merkel. To bad a lot of Germans don't agree, and Hungarians want to stop migrants at the border, while Denmark is considering toughening its citizenship laws.
Porn O'Graph: No future in the futures.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

SAR #15239


We are facing  a predicament that doesn’t have a real solution.” Gail Tverberg
Memorization: Repeat after me: There is no direct correlation between the stock market and the country's GDP. Despite the story told kiddies about the stock market where industry gets its funding (which isn't true, shares are mostly issued so early investors can cash out) the market is mainly a place where people bet on the potential companies have for future profits. Other than a mild bit of monkey-see monkey-do, the Chinese market crash has little to do with Wall Street. The lack of consumer demand due to stagnant wages and high (real) unemployment is far more important, as is the fear the investor class has for losing access to the Fed's free money. Wait until the Fed screws the pooch and raises rates, for as the NYT reported, “the Federal Reserve has said that it expects to raise interest rates sometime soon, given evidence over the last year that economic growth is picking up." What evidence?
Debate Point: Mr. Candidate, nearly one out of three children in the US live in poverty in this, the richest nation on earth. What do you propose to do about this shameful situation?
Obsession: Since early 2008 ,Serious People have demanded the Fed raise interest rates to prevent hyperinflation. Seven years later it ain't here yet. A couple of years ago rising commodity prices made the same folks demand the Fed raise rates . For the same reason – inflation. Then it was wage increases, but the wage increase never happened and commodities are in the tank so, of course, we must raise interest rates. They say.
Code Talkers: ‘Family values’ is Republican code for ‘let’s control women’s bodies’.
The Ayes Man Cometh: Yes, they love him, the knee-jerk religious right, even though he is far from being a poster boy for their professed values. They love him because their drivel about family values, the free markets and Constitutional purity was simply a camouflage. What they really want is someone to put women and workers in their place, to say their truths about immigration and welfare and defense, to be the bully, to be the boss. And that's Trump.
Capitalism: When the US was filling up Guantánamo it did not have enough decent intelligence in Afghanistan to identify “the worst of the worst”, so large rewards were offered for those who would turn in people alleged to be bad guys. What a deal, get paid to get rid of your competitor. Worked, too. Only 3 of the remaining 116 Guantánamo detainees were captured by US forces. The rest we bought on the open market.
By Gosh: The Pentagon has contracted to buy 55,000of the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, for $30 billion - that's about $547,000 each. Makes the HumVee look cheap at only $220,000 each. Of course they wouldn't need so many replacements if they hadn't lost a billion dollars worth to ISIS – 2600 in Mosul in one day.
Clear and Present Danger: Continually increasing debt and the inflation created with it has been a good thing. It has allowed us to afford an ever increasing range of goods and services. But once the pace of debt creation slows, prices throughout the system begin to fall. That's where we are now. Once the decline in debt becomes self-reinforcing, deflation sets in and the system fails to deliver promised goods and services. That's the next step. It's a big one.
Bad News: The new, Republican-appointed director of the Congressional Budget Office reports that “the evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves.” Hope he hasn't settled into the office yet.
Big Wheel Keeps On Turning: H&R Block has paid successfully lobbied the Republican controlled Senate Appropriations Committee to require the IRS to at least quadruple the length of the Earned Income Tax Credit form so that more poor people will turn to H&R Block out of frustration.
Behind The Curtain: Former Fed Chair Bernanke slipped the other day and warned that reducing US defense spending could harm the nation's economy. This is not news, but Ben should know we don't talk about it in front of the children.
Logging In: At the current rate the Earth will lose an India-sized chunk of tropical forest by 2050. In the process, about 169 gigatons of CO2 – think of it as another 44,000 coal-fired power plants puffing away, killing us. Sure, we should do something about it. But we won't.
Porn O'Graph: How low can you sink?