Sunday, February 3, 2008

SAR #8035

It was once illegal to charge interest, but permissible to
sell oneself into servitude. Now the one leads to the other.

Blue Planet : The real problem is that we humans can exist on this planet in only a very narrow range of possible conditions. The planet has a much larger wardrobe and can slip into something else quite quickly.

Yo-yo: The Fed cut interest rates to 3.5% a week ago and mortgage rates went up. A couple of days ago the Fed another .50% and mortgage rates went up. Yields on 10 year and 30 year Treasury notes both went up. Wall Street may be happy, but the Bond Market thinks Ben's been two-timing them.

Pay to Play: Last month Venezuela cut the payment due date for paying in dollars to 8 days, citing the rapid devaluation of the greenback. Now you can get 8 supertankers full of crude for only $1 billion (a bargain, really) but it's due the next day. Is this because they are strapped for cash, or because they think the dollar is about to dive?

Hedged Bets: A privately financed coal-to-diesel plant is planned for the USAF base at Malmstrom, MT. The idea is to turn coal into synthetic jet fuel, much as Germany did in WWII, and for much the same reason - desperation.

Sidelined: China's getting all the attention, but the unprecedented cold and snow doesn't stop at their borders. Most villages in Afghanistan’s northern provinces have been cut off from food, fuel and other essentials. Over 500 children have lost their lives as already sparse public services have collapsed completely.

No Reservations: The banks are broke: Go take a look at this chart of "Net Free Borrowed Reserves" - which is a negative number, meaning the banks as a group have negative reserves.

Adventureland: Al-Qaeda has been so defeated in the borderlands that they've had to take up stockpiling automatic weapons and RPGs in places like Karachi, and staging mass attacks on the police. Our revenge thing for 9/11 is working out rather poorly.

Deadbeats: Citbank thinks you are a bad credit card customer if you pay off the balance every month. They're in the interest business, never mind the transaction fees they charge the retailer. They've already told 161,000 customers they are "not managing their credit cards," and to carry a balance or cut up the card.

Wicked Web: The rating agencies are caught in their own deceit: they cannot downgrade the bond insurers as they deserve - nor can they continue to call them AAA. Instead of making a decision, they've decided not to decide for as long as possible. Like guys on death row, filing appeals.

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