The President agreed to a summit on fiscal rectitude. The Democrats added non-stimulative business tax cuts, tossed out infrastructure projects, dropped health efforts for poor women and got nothing from the Republicans. Nothing. Krugman: "Aren't you glad that Obama watered it down and added ineffective tax cuts, so as to win bipartisan support?" Enough.
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Common Thread: Hess reports a 4Q08 loss in the oil refining business. Boeing blamed their 4Q08 loss on the unions. Wells Fargo dropped $2.6 billion, which it blames on paying too much for Wachovia. Elsewhere, money sent home by Mexican guests working in the US declined for the first time ever.
Details to Follow: The Gov is going to "help homeowners" who can afford to keep paying "more relaxed terms" "if they can demonstrate that they won't re-default ". It will "support" and "assist" in loan modifications. Fell better yet?
Save the Broccoli! Anyone who has over-cooked the broccoli to the sulfurous odor state knows it cannot be saved and the kitchen will smell for a while. All you can do is throw it in the trash, throw the trash out and start over. So too, banks.
The Wisdom of the Market: The government reported an increase in US crude oil supplies, a decrease in demand and a sharp drop in business spending on energy. Oil prices rose.
Credit When Due: Senator Bob Corker should push for a carbon tax similar to the one he and Gore discussed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. It is transparent, sound and eminently fair - far superior to any form of "cap and trade" which is just another way of saying "carbon offsets" which just let the rich countries/companies continue to pour CO2 into the air. Good on him.
Shocking: The introduction of tasers lead to a 600% increase in sudden deaths among arrestees in California.
Beam Me Up, Scotty: Physicists have documented the teleportation of information between two atoms in unconnected enclosures, with a 90% accuracy rate.
Private Capital: The Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is quoted as saying "In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital." Bet that comes with restrictions, ownership rights and territorial disputes.
Puzzle Me This: Mortgage applications fell a seasonally adjusted 38.8% in the week ended Jan. 23 compared with the prior week. Mortgage rates also fell.
Cram It: Forget the economics of mortgage cram-downs for a moment, because this is a political decision; economics, logic and morality have nothing to do with it. People (voters) want Snidely Whiplash to get his comeuppance, want to stick it to the predatory know-betters who turned out to have clay feet. Of course a lot of those institutions don't have the money to afford a cram-down. That's the point. Their failure is devoutly wished by the populace. The politicians like it because they'll be helping the voters at no immediate cost to the government. Key word, 'immediate'.
Headline Only: Wall Street Employees Unhappy About 2008 Bonuses
The Quick Hands People: AIG - which does not stand for Always Incredibly Greedy, but should - has received abut $150 billion from the taxpayers, which it is trying to pay back by selling off its assets and giving $1 billion in 'retention payments' to those key employees whose knowledge, skill, and experience reduced the place to penury.
Magic Potion: Some say the US would do well to cut the bloated budget of the patently ineffective Pentagon. They mistake the purpose of that bloated budget. Of course it doesn't provide security, that's not the point. It does employ several million people, in the home districts of important political leaders. That's the mission . Mission Accomplished, the saying is.
Headline: The Banks Have Stolen Enough; It's Time to Take Them Over. Wish I'd said that. Oh, wait, I did.
Porn O'Graph: If it's in your store, it came by truck.