Friday, April 4, 2008

SAR #8096

"The mess we are in was not caused by lack of confidence,
the mess was caused by greed."
- Mish Shedlock

Optimist: The Secret Service made a fan delete pictures of Bush throwing out the first pitch. Don't get upset, it's one less freedom our troops will have to die for.

Serious Profits: Philippine traders found hoarding rice will be charged with economic sabotage, a crime that carries a life sentence. The government has been raiding warehouses, looking for hidden rice. The price has risen 50% in the last 2 months and expected to rise a further 40%.

Multiple Choice: Did the Fed act to rescue Bear Stearns or to enrich JPMorgan? Was the $29 billion bribe to JPMorgan legal? Does anybody care?

Denial Denied: Lancaster University scientists studied the "skeptics" claim that sun storms, sun spots and cosmic rays were causing global warming, not mankind. After examining 20 years of detailed records, scientists found "there is no significant link between these events and global warming." Smoking's still not good for you, either.

Slight Breeze: As an aid in determining which way the wind is blowing, we regret to inform you that more Americans have fallen behind on consumer loans than at any time in the last 16 years.

Blame Game: The president of the SF Fed points out that mortgage delinquencies are more closely correlated to falling house prices than to interest rate resets. Subprimes are delinquent because the borrowers were greater risks, and "differences in house-price change account for most delinquency rates."

Vocabulary Builder: Everyone outside the USA is concentrating on the current inflation surge, concerned with the rapid increase in food prices. Agflation will define the future, change international politics, redefine economic models and trigger regime changes. Far more than petroleum prices, price rises in the supermarket trigger mass consumer anxiety.

Simple Math: New house 'starts" have fallen over 50%, but reported residential construction employment has declined only about 13% so far. Either we have a lot more fellas hammering on a lot fewer houses, or a lot of construction was being done by statistically invisible illegal immigrants.

Six of One: Scientists say there is no evidence drinking large amounts of water is beneficial. Eight 8oz glasses of water does not help flush toxins from the body, prevent weight gain, improve skin tone or benefit organs. Thirst tells the body when to drink, taste tells it scotch is pretty good.

Worry Where Worry's Due: Why doesn't the unemployment data get the same attention Bear Stearns did? Personal consumption drives 70% of GDP. Those with no jobs, or only part-time jobs, or underpaid jobs, do not consume very much. Americans mostly live hand to mouth and have no savings. Borrow-and-spend is coming to a sharp halt. This, like Wall Street's problems, is not a liquidity issue. It is a solvency problem. Both the big guys and the little guys are broke and you can't get much water out of the pebbles that are left.

Pick a Number: When he is eventually tried, convicted and sentenced, what do you think Countrywide's Angelo Mozilo's sentence will be? What should it be?

Taking Stock: What a difference a dollar yen makes. Especialy if stock maraket performance were expressed in yen. Once again, a picture beats words, especially in the world of finance. Go look.

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