Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Potholes are a leading indicator of social collapse
- watch for them in your neighborhood.

Mirror Image : Tajikistan, paralyzed by the coldest winter in decades, asked for emergency aid to help with an energy crisis which has left millions without power and heat. Uzbekistan, lacking of fuel for electric power generation, suspended electric power to Tajikistan.

Mattress: Moody's, Fitch, S&P propose the following in lieu of the old (and misleading) AAA, AA etc bond rating scheme: "WARNING: These bonds have been rated AAA by a rating firm which was paid to give them a good rating. Actual purchase of these bonds is not advised. Do not remove this tag under penalty of very bad things."

Spelling Test: We told you last month that you really didn't want to see an economy where the lenders don't lend and the borrowers don't borrow. Go visit Sudden Debt and see some charts you don't really want to see. Hint: What's worse than r-e-c-e s-s-i-o-n & starts with 'D'?

The Wheels on the Bus: A “plastic soup” of floating waste twice the size of the US containing about 100 million tons of stuff - mostly plastics - stretches from 500 miles off California, nearly to Japan. The swirling North Pacific gyre's underwater currents capture and concentrate all the garbage we put into the Pacific into a 30 foot thick mat. The stagnant stew will double in size over the next decade, for modern plastics are so durable that every little piece of plastic manufactured in the past 50 years that made it into the ocean is still out there somewhere. And will be, for about 25,000 years.

My Roof Has A Hole In It: Soon investors will realize that the Fed has only 3 more % to give away, inflation is at 4.6%, and the credit crunch has barely begun! If our financial geniuses are already unable to function, what's going to happen when the monsoons start?

In the Cards: Bush wants to lop $200 billion off what Medicare will pay hospitals and Medicaid will pay doctors. Either this part of the budget is "dead on arrival", or the elderly will be. I'm taking Uncle Frank to look at one of those portable garden sheds down at Lowe's this weekend.

Compass: Moody's now figures that nearly 18% of the 2006 vintage subprime bonds stuffed into collateralized debt obligations will go south, leading to more ratings downgrades. The whole economy is disappearing into the distance in V formation.

Handout: The FBI is creating a massive database of people's physical characteristics -not just fingerprints, but palm prints, eye scans, DNA, scars and tattoos, facial shapes and walk patterns. Take it in stride, it is simply a way to identify terrorists, criminals and citizens - oh, but I repeat myself.

The Enemy Is Us: Sioux Inc. has agreed to pay $1 each for intentionally making 2.2 million substandard Kevlar Army helmets - in order to save 12% on materials costs. Having repaid the $2 million to prove it's worth after making substandard helmets for 25 years, Sioux then won a new $74 million contract to replace the defective gear.

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