Wednesday, January 21, 2009

SAR #9021

Life is more than a shopping list.

Back to '29: America's house builders look forward to a further 29% decline in house prices this year, while house sales drop another 14%. The Portland Cement Association - the guys that pour the foundations - expect "another full two years almost before a significant gain,"

Capital Ideas: After losing 66% Monday, RBS lost another 70% Tuesday, and this is with more government support than any other institution in Great Britain. Without taxpayer money they, and most the rest of England, would have to close up shop by the end of the week. Makes Citi and BoA drops of less than 30% look downright attractive.

Big Brother Knows Best: Americans need single-payer universal health care and a plurality of Americans want it. But Americans are going to get laws forcing them to buy health insurance and continue to waste 1/3rd of their health care dollars on paperwork and profits to insurance companies.

The Plan: Obama's money men have but one goal - to return to those days of yesteryear. How? By re-inflating the housing bubble. Or else.

Giving Europe Gas: Having made clear the disadvantages of extending NATO membership to Ukraine, Russia has resumed sending natural gas to Europe. The added costs to Ukraine will cripple its economy and serve as a reminder of its dependence on Russia - and not just for energy.

Help, Help! GM is investing $1 billion in Brazil as a way of escaping its problems in the US. The money will come from the $13.4 billion in bailouts from the US taxpayer.

Mark-up: The DOE is buying 10 million barrels of crude for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve at $51 a barrel. Yes, oil's only $35 a barrel, but this is the government and they've got a strategy.

Homework: The Treasury is asking the banks that got the largest helping from TARP to write a report detailing how much they've lent to businesses and consumers and how much they've invested in asset-backed securities. An outline is due by Friday and the completed paper by the end of the semester. Creative writing class, one expects.

Bad Moon: Roubini sees US credit system losses reaching $3.6 trillion as the US banking system enters effective insolvency as the economic downturn lasts another year or more.

How High is Up: The deficit - before the new stimulus and before the Son of TARP - is guesstimated to be $1.2 trillion. How much is that? It is more than the total the US owes both China and Japan. And we're going to borrow that from? China and Japan!

Do It Ourselves: Let's use the next $1 trillion to start our own bank. The People's USA Bank. Starting with $1 trillion in capitalization. Everybody gets a credit card, max rate 5%, max debt level 30% annual salary. The card would also serve to pay all medical expenses via the single-payer healthcare system. One 4% mortgage for a house costing no more than 3X annual earnings (verified by the IRS). Just like BofA and Citi , it'd be non-profit.

Trespassing: Remember that Pete Seeger's "This Land Is Your Land" was written as a protest against 'No Trespassing' signs. Then be advised that a video of Pete singing it was taken down from YouTube in about 6 hours. Seems the song belongs to HBO.

Breathing In, Breathing Out: Canada's million plus square miles of forests used to be champions of the struggle to control carbon dioxide. No more. Recent studies show that Canadian forests, stressed by insect damage and warming climate now release more CO2 than they sequester.

You Are There: An interesting photo gallery of then and now. Yes, propaganda, but with a kernel of truth?

Advertisement : The Wilkins Ice Shelf, a gigantic piece of Antarctic ice, is now held in place by a a strip of ice that has thinned from 100 km wide to just 500 meters in the last 50 years. Its collapse into the sea will not raise sea levels much - for it is already floating in the water - but its demise will be another visible testament to the effects of global warming.

Like a Rock: Mexican oil production fell 9% to 2.8 mbd in 2008. That's 300,000 barrels a day that used to come to the US. It is also $20 billion less income for the Mexican government.

Porn O'Graph: Unemployment Continues.

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