Tuesday, February 26, 2008

SAR #8058

"I always thought if you worked hard enough and
tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong."

--Katharine Graham

Just Relax: After Eli Lilly's suppressed clinical trials were obtained from the FDA under Freedom Of Information requests, a major review concluded that patients taking placebos improved just as much (or as little) as those on Prozac. The National Institute for Health suggests counseling be tried. It was unclear if this suggestion was directed at the management of Lilly.

So'wester. Mexico's oil money is evaporating. Budgets are strained. The US economy is down, so are remittances home from Mexican workers in the US, just as food - especially corn - is becoming more expensive. Drug cartels are the effective government in much of northern Mexico. The common folk have three choices: Hide, Fight, or Flee. They are now hiding. They are not strong enough to fight. That leaves Tucson.

Saddle Up: The world has about 70 days of grain stores left. Worldwide, people obtain around 70% of their daily calories from grains: specifically corn, wheat, rice, and millet. Prices are going higher. Ever more serious food shortages will be featured on the evening news this summer and fall. Better fill up the car, price of ethanol is going to rise.

Credulity: After being mislead by so many for so long, it seems reasonable that the Grab&Run clerk who "bought" a house with a no-money-down, payment-option, adjustable rate mortgage cannot believe that her home is being repossessed and wants the government to Do Something.

Constitutional Law: The next time the administration celebrates murdering reports killing people terrorists in Pakistan with a Hellfire missile launched from a Predator drone, or strafes a village in Somalia, remember that dropping bombs on other nations is generally considered an Act of War. Then try and remember just when it was that Congress declared war against Pakistan or Somalia.

Qui Bono? Visa is offering to sell half of itself to the public. Why? The banks that now own Visa need to raise capital. The banks that now own Visa are looking to sell off their liabilities in two lawsuits, one for cheating customers on foreign exchange charges, one for anti-trust violations. The offering is priced so that the public will bail out Visa and the banks will still end up owning half the company. Heck of a deal. For them.

Footprint: Eat locally and lower your carbon footprint, they say. How much can one glass of orange juice hurt, right? Well, first the diesel used in the groves and harvesting, and the electricity in pulping and squeezing and then the packaging and diesel to get it to the store. And the water. It takes nearly 50 gallons of water to grow and process one glass of orange juice.

Heinz: Repossessions rose 90 percent last month from a year ago. Banks will have about a million foreclosed properties to sell this year, forcing prices down even further, More than 1 percent of all US households were in some stage of foreclosure during 2007. Total foreclosure filings increased 57%. Pass the ketchup.

3 Card Monte: Citigroup, which incurred $22 billion in subprime losses, expects $10 - $15 billion in other credit derivative write offs, and has $320 billion in "significant unconsolidated VIEs." VIEs are Variable Interest Entities - they were known as "Special Purpose Vehicles" when Enron used them to hide their shady deals. VIEs are worth as little as 27 cents on the dollar. Is there a snowball's chance in hell that Citigroup is solvent?

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