Wednesday, March 19, 2008

SAR #8080

The institutional memory of the financial industry is
about the lifespan of a fruit fly. John Diszard

Fear Factor: Has it dawned on you that we are being rescued by 13 economists, a lawyer, and one MBA. Bush claims he is "on top of the situation." Another thing to worry about.

Promo's: D.R. Horton, one of the nation's largest builders, is holding auctions of new houses advertised as "50% Off!" If you paid full price for a Horton house in Ventura County, or Riverside, in the last year or so, don't you feel honored?

Deja Vu All Over Again: The government is dumping another $200 billion in equity into the markets today. Through Fannie and Freddy. They are saving the little guy by saving the big guys first. The details get boring.

"A friend of a friend sort of thing.": Let's build a toll road! First we'll get our friends in government to pass a law saying that we can issue tax-exempt bonds to raise the money - it's for a social good, after all. And to make sure our friends in the administration kill government projects that would compete with us, we'll promise them jobs when they leave government. And then... What? Been done? Oh.

300 Words Or Less: In 2007, Americans' debt grew to 140% of their take-home pay. Once they got home they had to write a check for 14% of their take-home to the banks, just to stay even. Depressed, they got in the SUV and went out to dinner to cheer up. Over dinner, after agreeing to go to Cancun next week, they asked each other why they couldn't seem to save any money.

BBC: Egypt's President Mubarak has ordered the government to use its foreign reserves to buy wheat and has ordered the army to produce and distribute bread, in an attempt to cope with serious shortages caused by the price of what tripling since last summer. Shocking, having the army do things like that. Where's Halliburton?

Good Idea: Congress has required all 33 million foreigners who visit the US be fingerprinted when they arrive and when they leave the country. Congress did not say precisely the value of identifying a terrorist who has slipped into the country after he had slipped back out.

Making A Profit: It's claimed that some hedge funds shorted Bear Stearns, started rumors about Stearns solvency which started a run on the bank, from which they profited greatly as Stearns tanked. Cost? The Fed threw $30 billion in the pot. Possible, yes. Reminiscent of Reminiscences of a Stock Trader. The SEC is investigating.

Vanishing Act: The rate at which glaciers are thinning and melting more than doubled between 2004 and 2006, and the end is in sight. Glaciers in the Himalaya, for example, feed rivers that nearly 1 billion people are dependent on for water for themselves and their crops. It won't be just the glaciers that are thinning.

Twisting In The Wind: The leading industrial nations and their imitators - the gang responsible for 80% of greenhouse gas emissions - again have failed to agree on an approach to curbing these emissions. At the same time, scientists insist that emissions must be reduced by up to 40% in the next decade. It is the opposable thumb that sets us apart, not foresight.

Hair of the Dog: We're told that the root of our current problem was an environment of too low interest rates and the extension of too much credit, which lead to the housing bubble and the resulting credit contraction. Glance at what the Fed is up to: lowering interest rates and encouraging the extension of credit. Cause and the cure are the same, how convenient. Now if we could only find an environmentally sound bubble...

Honors Day: I was a few days late stumbling on Jeff Huber's latest rant, but I know a really good one when I see one and you should go read this one.

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