Sunday, February 17, 2008

SAR #8049

Cemeteries are full of the rich and the beautiful.

Trouble On Tap: Hops have increased as much as 400% in the last year, driving up the cost of beer.

Two Faces of Eve: Bush's budget killed government research into 'carbon capture and sequestration' otherwise known as Clean Coal. The folks dumping the tops off mountains into Kentucky's creeks, known as King Coal, are continuing to pollute the environment, make profits, and kill the planet.

Little Mary Sunshine: Jim Rogers, the famed investor who predicted this recession and made billions shorting the shares of tanking Wall Street investment banks, is "extremely worried. I just see things getting much worse... We could have just had a recession, but Bernanke is printing huge amounts of money, and Fed is out of control. It's not a good scene."

Shoemaker's Kid: In the world-wide scramble for ever more oil, China is universally seen as the 600 pound gorilla, with a thirst growing at 6% a year. Hidden in China's shadow, the economies of the Gulf oil states are a very close second at 5%. What they use at home, they don't ship to us.

Take 2 Aspirin: The British government, which has already spent £55bn ($100 bn) stopping the first run on a British bank in over a century, has now nationalized Northern Rock. This is "temporary, only until market conditions improve. Saver's deposits will be secure and the taxpayer-owners will benefit as the bank grows." Each Brit has decided to put up $2500 as part of this investment.

Surge: The surge is working, Bush claims. Normalcy is returning to the cities, he says. As proof, the cost to be picked up at Baghdad airport and driven the six miles to the Green Zone is now only $3,000. Tip not included.

Fixer-Upper : Each of the 60 outlying communities in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) have been hit by waves of foreclosures. Slavic Village with 1,500 abandoned houses is the worst. In Cleveland, HUD has 120 houses it cannot sell - even for a dollar. But it can't happen here, my neighborhood's not going to devalue.

Eternity: David M. Walker, head of the Government Accountability Office, announced Friday that he would resign his position effective March 12. That means Bush gets to appoint his successor, who will serve for fifteen years. Government accountability, my foot.

Eat Your Gruel: Never mind gold, or that oil prices are at $100 a barrel again; what is really catching the analysts' attention is the outlook for agricultural prices. Goldman Sachs thinks "we could go into crisis mode in many commodities sectors in the next 12 to 18 months, and agriculture is key here."

NPK? In Arkansas, farmers will grow zero rice this year; fertilizer costs are too high. Rice is at $16 a bushel and going higher and farmers cannot profitably grow the stuff. None of this 'bigger truck next year' stuff.

Nag, Nag, Nag: The banks' negative net borrowed reserves still bother me, because they are growing. Without the Fed's "Temporary Auction Facility" the US banking system would be closed by now. Bankrupt, gone, along with ATMs that don't give out money, checks that don't get cleared and credit cards good for scraping windshields. Doesn't seem to bother but a few of us.

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