Tuesday, December 9, 2008

SAR #8344

Debit and credit only work when the lights are on.

Bulking Up: Banks and loan investors own about 900,000 foreclosed homes, up from 400,000 a year ago and building to an expected peak of 1.5 million in 2010. So banks, and Fannie Mae, are turning to 'bulk sales' in which as many as 800 houses are sold at once. The 800 went for $1.2 million - $1,500 apiece. Corruption here we come.

Where's The Beef: Obama's plan is to create 2.5 million construction jobs "quickly". The US is losing jobs at a rate of 6 million a year now, and the rate is accelerating.

All the News: The Chicago Tribune is pretty much a goner. The NYTimes is looking to sell its building to get operating funds. The Miami Herald is for sale. The Christian Science Monitor has given up print for the internet. Morning coffee won't take nearly so long.

Déjà Vu? In 1984 when the price of oil dropped 75%, the USSR lost over $20 billion a year from oil exports and in five years collapsed. Russia is as dependent on oil now as the USSR was then. Seconds? Is Saudi Arabia immune? Mexico, Iran...

Blowing Bubbles: Money is flooding into treasuries, lowering interest rates and thus the cost to Uncle Sam for financing and refinancing the ever growing debt. What happens when folks begin to suspect they can safely make 3.5, 4% or more on their money elsewhere? Tides go out, too.

Steady: Roubini predicts things will be much worse than expected in the coming months, as the dollar weakens even further. "The surprise is how bad the economy [will get]." At least there's some things you can still count on in an uncertain world.

Here's My Plan... The US National Intelligence Council's new report, "Global Trends 2025," includes this heartwarmer: "All current technologies are inadequate for replacing the traditional energy architecture on the scale needed, and new energy technologies probably will not be commercially viable and widespread by 2025." In other words, technology ain't gonna save us.

Committed: Citibank is helping Paulson get the credit markets moving again by increasing the rates on credit card balances and decreasing cardholders' credit limits, as they look after the welfare of their shareholders, particularly Saudi Prince Alwakeed.

Cool: Moscow set a new temperature record for December, 9.4°C (48.9°F) - the warmest on record for the entire month, and it was set at night.

Some Doctor, Some Cure: Loans, restructuring, an Auto Czar and a jar of magic will "save" the Big Three. If cutting production by half, firing two-thirds of the staff and shutting 30% of US dealerships, all with the loss of at least a million jobs, is "saving".

Bashful: Scientists are reluctant to admit that they haven't been scary enough, that things are much worse than they predicted. But they now say that to avoid runaway global warming the world must cut the use of fossil fuels 80% by 2030. No coal fired power plants. No natural gas fired power plants. No gasoline powered cars. No aircraft. Sailing ships, lots of sailing ships. Smile.

Trash Talk: In suburban Atlanta, Gwinnett County imposes a $500 fine for those who do not "source separate" trash for recycling. An excellent, precedent-setting first step.

Castor Oil: Economists are unanimous; we've got to kick the debt habit (even while Hank and Ben keep pushing it as a cure... ). Now they want the health warnings printed on the credit applications, after the society is hopelessly addicted. Cold turkey isn't going to be fun.

Porn O'Graph: Have we fallen and can't get up?

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