Sunday, July 27, 2008

SAR #8209

Americans may soon come to appreciate the difference
between poverty and desperation.

Score: According to Realty Trac, 1 in ever 171 US houses received a "foreclosure-related notice" in the second quarter. At this rate housing could become a problem.

Details: The housing bill, according to the headline press, will "aid 400,000 homeowners facing foreclosure". In very small print there may be mention of the estimate that over one-third of those "helped" will end up foreclosed again after making payments for 2 or 3 years. So, 260,000 potential voters helped at an estimated cost of $300 billion. If I remember how to do political math, that's over $1 million a vote - all of which will end up in the pockets of the Usual Suspects.

Mission Accomplished: The richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation's adjusted gross income since since 1929.

Another Peak? Electric utility analyst Dan Scotto predicts US electric rates will double in the next five years, due to a lack of supply brought on by an aging generating base and international competition for coal.

Clear And Present Danger: In a report described as clear, chilling and detailed, the EPA has concluded that greenhouse gas emissions cause and will continue to cause climate change including rising sea levels, stronger and more frequent storms, an increase in wildfires, increased and more severe drought, and widespread public health dangers. President Bush has concluded the American public doesn't need to know any of this.

Resolutions: Chrysler announced that leasing cars will join the growing things that Chrysler no longer does, like making cars and profits.

We're Here To Help: The World Health Organization has determined that globalization is bad for your health. Data shows that when countries enter IMF programs, TB rates go up. When countries escape from IMF control, TB rates go down. It's enough to make you sick.

Step-Child: The now-disappeared Indy Mac, which sprang fully-formed from Countrywide (as a spin-off) apparently took its corporate culture with it when it left home. Vernon Martin, chief commercial appraiser for Indy Mac for six months in 2001/2 has spilled the beans, which seem to include a fair amount of fraud.

Understatement: England's biggest colony of puffins has decreased by 30% in the last 5 years. Scientists suspect that the birds are dying from starvation during the eight months they spend at sea - due to global warming driven environmental changes. Researchers fear "something is going badly wrong somewhere."

Shoemaker's Children: In the very near future, the oil-rich Gulf States will face a shortage of natural gas to fuel their diversification into petrochemical production, aluminum smelting, fertilizer plants and water desalination efforts. Oh, right. It's also the fuel of choice to produce electricity, which makes all these other industries, plus petroleum production, run.

Shipping Out: International miner Cleveland Cliffs' $10 billion buyout of US coal miner Alpha Natural Resources may prompt a blitz of M&A deals in US coal. It'll be interesting to see the Congressional scramble when China starts shipping West Virginia to Beijing.

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