with shoddy lending.
Obituary: Merrill Lynch reports that the US has given the Arab Gulf states 'permission' to stop pegging the price of crude in US dollars. The US is "more confident about the outlook for the dollar." Confident of its growing weakness?
Interest-ing: Don't think of it as filling up the car. Think of it as paying interest on the money we borrowed from China to give to Saudi Arabia.
And Then... The sub-prime tsunami is cresting, and about time. It has (nearly?) destroyed the financial industry. Next: the option ARM, where you could not to pay the principal, or interest, or only parts, and the friendly banker just tacked the shortfall on to the end of the mortgage. Until the option stoped and full, higher rate payments set in. The foreclosures - more than sub-prime - don't start till next year and won't peak until 2011.
Pay At The Pump: Major oil companies, stung by Swissair's bankruptcy, are requiring that leading US and European airlines pay for fuel before taking delivery.
Trade balance: Europe is very dependent on Russia for natural gas. But it is unlikely that Russia will decide, one cold January morning, to use this as a political weapon; Russia imports 40% of its pork and 35% of its beef from the European Union.
Car Culture: Santa Barbara now has 12 parking lots for use as a safe place for the car-dwelling homeless to park overnight. Some are reserved for women with children.
In Direction: Former President Jimmy Carter is quoted as wishing George W. a peaceful "productive life - in our country."
Consultancy: Environmental scientists are seeing a new field open to them: not commenting. Condor wildlife expert Noel Snyder turned down an offer to "review" a plan for 3,500 luxury homes, condos, and resorts on acreage central to the condor's range. The money was conditioned on Snyder not publicly commenting on the plan. "It was very clear to me I could’ve asked for $10,000. I could’ve asked for $50,000," Snyder said.
Allie$: Poland wants a
bribe consideration similar to those given other allies who have agreed to host parts of the US missile defense network. Market forces at work.
Just The Facts: "Our economy and way of life – especially in sprawling, car-crazy North Texas – depends on a steady and affordable supply of oil. It can't last, because oil is not an infinite resource." From a Dallas newspaper!
Astounding: Surprisingly, the US military says that militant attacks in Iraq are at their lowest level in four years. The horror is we've got four years in Iraq to look back on. Five, actually.
Round Robin: UBS, one of the biggest banks in the world, is essentially interchangeable with the other big banks. It has lost 40% of its market value so far this year, still has more toxic assets on the books than its total market value, and is seeking $15 billion in new capital. Does this inspire a great deal of confidence in the system's soundness?