Friday, April 11, 2008

SAR #8103

I find myself warming to the idea of hunting
financiers and politicians with dogs.

Paranoia: Isn't it convenient for AA to cancel 30% of its flights for a week? How better to (a) save on fuel costs (b) impose added costs on competitors as they try to accommodate the abandoned and (c) prepare the way for a government bailout? Plus saving quite a bit in flight crew salaries, ramp and cargo crews. All they need is a few talking dolls to say "Nope, not today, sorry." Nah.

One Forward, Two Back: US exports increased $3 billion in February. Imports increased $6 billion. $151 billion out, $214 billion in, net debt $63 billion. So all we need is a bigger truck?

Taking Stock: In theory, the stockholders own the company and hire people to run it, get the final say through the board, and are due its profits. Goldman Sacs CEO Blankfein (who made $70 million last year) says that letting shareholders vote on executive pay would hurt the company's ability to overpay the best employees him. If loosing $2.5 billion in the first quarter is "the best" he can do, they should close the place, save the $70 million and go fishing.

Just Kidding: Billionaire investor Jim Rogers has accused the Fed of being the source for the global credit turmoil. Asked what he would do if he were in Fed Chairman Bernanke's place, Rogers said, "I would abolish the Federal Reserve and then I would resign.”

Big Big Sale : J .C. Penney reports a 12.3 percent sales decline, Kohl's 15.5%, Dillard's 10% Nordstrom 9.1 percent. Ah, equality.

The Relatives: Most Americans take food for granted. Even the poorest 20% of US households spend only 16% of their money on food. Elsewhere food is not a given. Indonesians spend half their income on food, Vietnamese 65%, Nigeria 73%. They are in trouble. In a few places there is neither income nor food.

More Inconvenience: Peak Oil is a bigger immediate threat to industrial civilization than global warming. It is easily the most serious threat faced by the US, which consumes 25% of the world's oil production and imports half of that. We'll miss going to Wal-Mart when the gas is gone. We need an Oil Gore.

Good Advice: Economic forecasters - especially those employed by the Fed and major Wall Street firms - have a spectacular history of getting little, if anything, right. They are predicting a short recession with a quick turnaround and a fall in oil prices. Be worried. Be very, very worried.

Frost: The IMF warns that the world economy is trapped between "fire and ice" - the fire of inflation and the ice of slumping growth. The ice, as Robert knew, will do.

Child Support: Frontier Airlines filed for bankruptcy, not because of the cost of fuel, but because one of its creditors (Wells Fargo, apparently) garnisheed its cash flow from Frontier's credit card processor. Frontier phrased it as "withholding significant proceeds" but if your ex-wife or the IRS does it, the word is "garnishee".

Saved! The Energy Information Agency reports that World crude + condensate production in January was 168,000 barrels a day above the previous peak in May of 2005. This will bring joy to the hearts of those who think peak oil is a myth. Realistically, the 'extra" 168,000 barrels represents not quite 3 minutes of the world's daily consumption.

Geronimo! Today's contest: Pick a number that is closest to the amount the government will give the airlines because the safety checks hurt their profits: (a) $1 billion (b) $5 billion (c) $10 billion (d) whatever they want.

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