Thursday, December 18, 2014

SAR #14352

Ever wonder what God is doing right now?

Glass Houses: US politicians and pundit should take a break from the premature celebration of the ruble's collapse and try to figure out how much damage low oil prices are goingto do here at home - it's not just their problem. Could Russia eventually default? Yes. Would it have an even worse impact on the world's economy than Lehman's collapse? You bet. Would an economic collapse unseat Putin? No, not for a couple of years at least, and in the interim he'll be even more nationalistic, aggressive and dangerous. The Russian people want a strong leader, and a few missed meals will be a small price to pay for what they see as Russia regaining its place in the world. 
Stocking Stuffer: Religion aside, studies can find no empirical evidence that suggests that the private sector is any more efficient than public undertakings.

Bankruptcy: Iraq, pleading poverty, has asked Kuwait if it could defer making scheduled reparation payments for the oil facilities Saddam destroyed before the US destroyed Iraq. Why does current day Iraq have to pay for the crap that Saddam did?

Gobblization: Economic research suggests that buying all that stuff from Walmart has sent 3.2 million US jobs to China. When they ship all those conexes back to China they fill 'em with jobs, our jobs.

Just Because: Marco Rubio (Wannabe-FL), in an effort to draw publicity and keep the South Miami Cuban vote) has promised to block Obama's efforts to normalize US/Cuban relations, which have been frozen for twenty more years than Rubio's been alive. To no good end. Both, actually, the embargo and Rubio.
Entrails: November's CPI fell 0.3% m/m, but fell only(?) 0.1% if you didn't drive to the grocery store. This is the largest decline since Dec 2008. So much for any rate hike from the Fed anytime soon. Housing permits issued last month fell 5.2% and housing starts fell 1.6% m/m.

Union Cards: NY Gov. Andrew (I'm Not Mario) Cuomo has notified about a thousand state employees that they are managers or hold 'confidential' positions and thus can no longer belong to the public employees union, because the union doesn't always agree with him.

Essay Question: Why are commodity prices falling? For extra credit, define “bubble.” 
Impact Wrench: Texas has been home to 40% of all the new jobs created since June 2009. In 2013, the city of Houston had more housing starts than all of California. Much of this is due directly to oil. Now oil's impact is likely to be more negative than positive, with lower employment and the negative effects that'll have in the state. We've seen this movie before and we know how it ends. The oil-rig count is already dropping, and it will continue to drop as long as oil stays below $60. Yes, US oil production may rise a bit next year as projects that are 50-60% done now are completed, but after that production and new drilling will both begin to fall, and then employment and construction and all the consumer stuff based on the oil fields will crater and investors will flee the oil patch. Saudi Arabia is betting on it.

Be Of Good Cheer: The number of first-year law students in the US is at a 40-year low. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SAR #14351

Currencies vary, but everybody pays. 
The March of Civilization: ISIS has executed 150 Iraqi women for refusing to marry ISIS fighters and continues to crucify, behead and stone to death Iraqi children. The Taliban have slaughtered over 140 children at a school in Peshawar because the don't want little girls to go to school. In Yemen a car bomb killed 25 people, including 15 school children. Mexican authorities “ ‘knew about attack on [the 43] students as it happened,” did nothing to stop it, and have covered it up since. 
Just So Stories: The US hanged Japanese officers for waterboarding prisoners.

Contagion: The economic sanctions and the fall in the price of oil have bitten Russia on the ass, with vengence. The state raised interest rates to 17% in an attempt to stop the downward spiral, but it only encouraged the vultures to push the value of the ruble even lower. It's now lost about 50% of its value in six months. Russians who have foreign currency denominated mortgages are drowning. Those who have any cash on hand are buying up anything and everything as prices spiral out of control. The stock market, naturally, is crashing. “Catastrophe” is a good description. It'll be good tomorrow, too. Obama, always a reasonble fellow, will sign the legislation imposing even more economic sanctions on Russia and supplying weaponry to Ukraine. His Special Forces troops are conducting “urban training” in downtown Dallas. 
Lessons Learned: Half of American thinks torturing people, some innocent, some not, was a good idea, that it saved American lives, and would do it again. Propaganda works.

Under The Bed: The inflation monster that the right has warned us about for years as they whittled away at government services is not only in is in hiding, it's disappeared down the drain as investors disregard any chance of inflation returning for years, maybe decades. But don't expect the specter to go away – David Koch, for example, whines “I’m very worried that if the budget is not balanced that inflation could occur and my brother and I the economy of our country could suffer terribly.” He knows better; he just wants you to suffer.

Price Tags: A review of British operations in Afghanistan's Helmand province noted that “of all the thousands of civilians and combatants” killed or wounded “not a single al-Qaida operative or international terrorist” who could conceivably have threatened the UK was killed or captured.

Fine Print: If Richard Bruce Cheney, a former acting President of the United States, is so sure those 'enhanced interrogation techniques' were not torture, why doesn't he let us waterboard and rectal feed him for a week or two, daily, at noon, on live TV?

Best Headline: Paul Krugman's 'Putin On The Fritz'