Wednesday, March 5, 2008

SAR #8065

Burning petroleum for fuel is criminal;
it's like burning a Picasso for heat.

War of the Worlds: Clinton's latest campaign ad in Ohio is a radio ad that appears to be a regular news item: "This is an election news update with a major news story reported by the AP. While Senator Obama has crisscrossed Ohio giving speeches attacking NAFTA, his top economic advisor was telling the Canadians that was all just political maneuvering... How will Ohioans decide whether they can believe Senator Obama’s words? We’ll find that out on election day. Paid for by Hillary Clinton for President."

Cliff Diving : Toyota's sales were down 2.8% in February, Ford was down 6.9%, General Motors had a 12.9% decline. Chrysler's sales fell 14%. The bright spot was Honda, which edged up 0.6%.

The Good Stuff: Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), proves that not all the nuts are Republicans. Harkin was asked why medicinal cannabis is still illegal after the American College of Physicians recommended it shouldn't be. He replied, in writing, that marijuana is a very dangerous and addicting drug and that users would "sell everything including perhaps their own children to obtain a fix." Tom must have been using the Good Stuff.

Future Tense : In Kenya at this time of year about 80% of the land in the agricultural north is normally ready for planting. This year only about 15% has been prepared. Factors cited are the post-election chaos, erratic weather, diesel shortages, and high prices of fertilizers. The government observes that this has complicated the food status of the nation, and that government food stockpiles "will not last long."

Inspiration: MBIA, one of the largest of the bond insurers, reports $10 billion in losses last year. It forecasts that losses on mortgage-backed securities will probably increase this year. Probably. The company - which was just given another AAA rating - said it was unable to even estimate January's losses.

Either/Or : Two reports, one day: Reuters: The Australian wheat crop could double this year to near its biggest ever, a top government body forecast on Tuesday. Meanwhile the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics announced that "the perfect storm that has led to record increases in wheat prices over the last 12 months is set to continue virtually unchecked."

Evolution: Moose typically stay away from people, hiding deep in the forests. But in the Northwest, pregnant moose have taken to giving birth near highways since predators are wary of cars.

Heads, Tails, Whatever: In some of the best neighborhoods in South Florida, residents of $2,000,000 home take out the maximum home equity loan and then simply stop paying the mortgage. They don't move. Don't file bankruptcy. They just don't pay the mortgage. There is currently a minimum 10 month wait for a court date for a foreclosure.

Spoils: The US government has accepted bids of $2.8 trillion for oil/gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. The funds will go to the general fund of the US Treasury, shared with the Gulf Coast States, set aside for special uses benefiting all 50 states, and generally frittered away long before any of it is actually received. The fees are royalties and payable when and if the leaseholders strike it rich(er).

Perspective: As inflation-ridden Zimbabwe spirals into oblivion and its citizens struggle to scrape together one meager meal a day, the government has debuted a new grain product. Doggy's Delight, a high-protein pet food is being manufactured for the lucrative export market.

Curtain Call: Peloton's ABS Master Fund, with an 87% return on its $2billion in assets, was the 2007 "New Fund of the Year" at the industry's awards banquet in December. It went bankrupt last week, unable to raise enough money to meet margin calls as the value of its investments in credit derivatives entered free-fall. It could find no buyers for the CDOs at any price.

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