Thursday, February 21, 2008

SAR #8053

Peak oil -- a dismal theory that keeps getting more plausible.
Paul Krugman

Joe McCarthy: Senator Collins (R-ME) wants to resurrect the McCarthy days and the House Un-American Activities Commission. She thinks we need a standing Congressional commission to investigate the loyalty and subservience of the citizenry by investigating “violent radicalization,” “homegrown terrorism” and “ideologically based violence.” A pending amendment to her bill would add "voting Democratic" to the offenses. Another amendment would strike 'Democratic' from the previous motion.

Definition Inflation is when the price of stuff goes up because there's more money around chasing it. The CRB Commodity Index is 60% higher today than just 5 years ago. That is a 10% a year increase in the price of stuff. That's inflation. No mater what the data from the US government says. That's why they're going to stop publishing economic data. They don't want us to worry. (Go here and click on some of the charts.)

People's Exhibit #72: A Boston area restaurant's routine supply order from Sysco was short a 50# bag of flour. On the invoice it was listed as "Out of Stock." What, me worry?

Time Travel: Location is not everything in real estate; time seems to count too. Seems that after a house has been 'listed' for a while it becomes an unattractive old hag. But if after 70 days the listing is canceled and re-listed the next day, the clock starts over at zero. Time travel at the corner of Maple and Old Hickory.

Home on the Range: We're building a 700 mile border fence to keep illegals from crossing into Texas. Except for across Ray's place. Texas who had turned away surveyors for the fence were given 30 days to permit access. Except for Ray. Ray Hunt, Texas gazillionaire who put up $32 million to fund Bush's library at SMU. The fence ends at the edge of his property.

Asleep at the Wheel: Reading on some arcane aspects of the monoline bond insurers problems, I was stunned to come across this: "with economists now estimating that as many as one in four of the mortgages written since 2005 will not be repaid." Woke me right up.

A Little Viagra, Please: The price of the 50 top-selling drugs rose an average of 7.8 percent last year. Luckily, the VA is able to negotiate prices that are 40% less than the market. There is no obvious reason that Medicare, which represents a much larger share of the market than the VA, would not be able to negotiate prices comparable to the prices negotiated by the VA, other than Bush's gift to Big Pharma. They probably gave him a tie for Christmas, something like that.

Extra! Extra! The economic news. A Harvard economist believes that the total loss from real estate loans, car loans, credit card loans, and business loans all going bad will be over $1 trillion. Big money at my house, especially in that the total capitalization of all the banks in America is about $1 trillion.

Grain Drain: The Agriculture Department believes global demand for wheat will continue to exceed supply again this year, making it 7 out of the last 8. That will push wheat stocks to their lowest level since 1948. World grain stocks have fallen from 200 million tons in 2002 to 100 million tons today, while the price has risen from an 2002 - 2006 average of $4 to well over $12. Grain farmers need to harvest record crops every year to meet increasing global food demand and avoid famine. Global grain stockpiles fell to about 53 days of supply last year, the lowest level since record-keeping began. Sell gold, buy grain.

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