“One would be wise not to push too far the conceit that we are smarter than our predecessors.” - Rogoff & Reinhart
Waiting for Godot: Until workers begin buying stuff the economy is not going to pick up. And until workers pay their debts down - or have them forgiven - they are not able to buy stuff for they have no credit and little income. So we're all sitting here, waiting. It could be a long time, pull up a chair.
Moral, Legal, Common: Part of the new stimulus program will give judges the right to change contracts. The history of Anglo-Saxon law is based on the sanctity of contracts; the contract between the ruler and the subject, contracts between traders, contracts that convey property, even marriage is a contract. There is a very long, slowly developed canon of laws supported by precedent, common sense and moral deliberation. Let's toss that all away and force investors to lose money - even though half the populace doesn't think it's a good idea. It's bound to strengthen the
Guarding the Guards: In a former life I was in the security business. When asked to provide armed guards, I always asked for a list of the folks whose death the client's insurance covered. I'm not in that business any more. There's at least one BART officer who isn't either.
Another Day Another
Dollar Billion: Fifteen billion, actually. From Paulson to his retirement fund at Citibank, $20 billion, plus big chunks to PNC Financial and Fifth Third Bankcorp to help them digest the banks they've gobbled up.
Buzz Off: Terrorists are hiding out in the swamps, training insects to carry plague or anthrax or tiny nuclear weapons into our cities Be afraid, please, please, be afraid! I liked it better when they were going to build nuclear bombs and drive them around in rental trucks spreading clouds of anthrax..
Takes One to Know One: The GOP insists that the stimulus not be rushed through Congress like TARP was. And the Patriot Act. They also insist that the funds be accountable and targeted, unlike TARP. And that the programs have definite endpoints, unlike Iraq. And they want most of it to go to business, just like always.
On the Square: The Chinese government anticipates "a period of mass incidents" as million of workers lose their jobs, university graduates remain unemployed, and economic growth falters. The government is expected to encourage domestic tranquility and is reviewing film from Tiananmen Square .
In the Shade: China's LDK Solar declined 14% on weaker sales and reported that a planned increase in polysilicon production will be delayed. Does a similar fate await the billion dollar Hemlock Semiconductor project in Tennessee?
Einer Hat Es Befohlen: Turns out David Lereah, for all the time he was at the National Association of Realors, had a gun to his head and was forced to make all those silly predictions. He was, he said, just doing his job.
He Said Then The Other Guy Said: Ukrainian reports that Gazprom sent but 92 million cubic meters of gas to Europe on Tuesday, down from about 300 mcm previously. Russia will, of course, claim that they have not reduced gas intended for Europe and that the shortfall is due to Ukrainian siphoning. It's good to see the old traditions are being kept up. Happy New Year
All in Favor say Aye! "The current downturn is likely to be far longer and deeper than the "garden-variety" recession in which GDP bounces back quickly". It's becoming the popular view, so be careful.
Seeing is Believing: There are any number of charts comparing now to then and now to average and they're pretty to look at. Print them out, shuffle and deal and see who gets the best hand.
Porn O'Graph: Balancing Act.