Tuesday, February 12, 2008

SAR #8044

"The worst is just beginning." Treasury Secretary Paulson,
on being asked if the housing debacle was over.
February 12, 2008

Applied Economics: When the bond insurer got downgraded the bond issuer had to pay higher interest rates to raise money. Paying higher interest cut into the budget. That's theory, here's fact, the Bridge Authority's rate doubled last month from 3% to 6% when Ambac was downgraded. This means less bridge maintenance. Soon it'll be the Gold-gone Gate Bridge.

The plan : Fanfare, flags, podium, men in suits, to announce: The government has convinced lenders to allow overdue homeowners to avoid foreclosure for 30 days while lenders try to work out ways to get more money out of them. What part of this could the lenders not do yesterday?

RSVP! Russia was surprised by US reaction to bomber flights directly over a US aircraft carrier in the Pacific. Russia claimed the flights were made over neutral waters, did not breach international borders and all concerned parties were notified in advance. The US, under the impression that it is still The Superpower, maintains there are no neutral waters.

Map, Compass: If your home's price is going down and your payments going up, consider this: Get an honest appraisal of your house's worth. Tell the bank that you are willing to save them the trouble of foreclosing and finding a new buyer, and offer to take a new, no-cost, 30 year re-fi at 6% at the appraised price. If they say no, leave an address and the keys on the counter, and walk. A year from now they may be more inclined to accept the offer.

Double Down: New research indicates that the current melting rate of the Greenland Ice Sheet will raise sea levels at least twice as much by 2100 as previously estimated by the IPCC.

Plastics! This year's high school graduates will be graduating from college and entering the job market just as net oil exports drop to the point that all the available oil will just meet US needs, with none left over for Europe, China, or anybody else. Probably best not to go $60,000 in debt getting a communications degree. Oh, don't major in plastics, either.

Offensive Defense: Lawyers for Brent Wilkes, who was sentenced to 60 years in prison for bribing congressman Duke Cunningham, argued that the conviction was invalid and their client should be released because the prosecution did not prove to the jury that Representative Cunningham was an elected official. Let's add 10 years for effrontery.

The Ark: Until recently, the government that had given the most generously to help the homeless recover from Katrina was the government of Qatar. A $70 million measure to provide housing support to 3,000 elderly and disabled victims is stuck in Congressional posturing.

Creationism: In the Bush years, combined US household debt and federal debt increased by $10.5 trillion. This fiscal stimulus created less than 6 million jobs; $1.8 million a job. Thus the current "economy saving" stimulus package may create abut 100,000 jobs - about the number Chrysler will be laying off.

Smoke, Fire: Fort Carson sent 79 soldiers overseas late last year who were considered medical “no-goes.” Now we learn that a soldier hospitalized for paranoia, homicidal tendencies, bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse was taken from the hospital and shipped to Iraq. Commanders in Iraq didn't want him and sent him back; the bipolar bit was too much.

Objects In The Mirror: Street lights in some British suburban areas are to be switched off after midnight as part of city council plans to save energy. Police will be issued flashlights.

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