Perks: Toyota has told 2,200 of its top managers to buy a car . Fujitsu has suggested, in an email, that 100,000 of its employees would be happier with increased "employee ownership rates" of its PCs and cellphones. Panasonic is more direct: Buy $1,500 worth of gear or go away. Glad I work in a distillery.
Punching Bag: We're back at it again; this time a US cruise missile killed 25
folks at a local bingo parlor militants in Pakistan. How much longer can we do this? Why? And why is Feinstein embarrassing Islamabad?
Science is not politics: Scientists have found their voice and are now emphatically trying to make sure we understand future temperatures "will be beyond anytihing" predicted by the last IPCC report, which did not consider such feedback mechanisms as the melting Arctic Ice cover, the melting of Arctic permafrost, the dessication of the rainforests, or the sudden release of methane
Rescue Me: More than 30% of owners will walk away once the value of a home drops more than 20%, which may explain why nearly 60% of mortgage modifications fail within 6 months. Scary news, because the average US house price has dropped 19% since 2006.
Failure to Thrive: Eastern Europe, along with Russia and the Ukraine, are toppling over the edge. Austria, whose banks have lent them €230bn (75% of its GDP) will go with them. Eastern Europe owes $1.7 trillion, $400 billion is due this year. Russia has a $500 billion tab it may not be able to cover. 60% of Polish mortgages are in Swiss francs, against which the zolty was just halved. Hungary, the Balkans, and the Baltics are in the same boat. Nearly all this debt is owed (and won't be paid) to Austrian Belgian, Greek, Italian and Swedish banks. In addition, Europeans hold 74% of the nearly $5 trillion of emerging markets' debt. The German economy will shrink nearly 10% this year, so Berlin will not be rescuing anybody either, not even partners Greece, Italy Ireland, Portugal or Spain. The coming economic stress is the stuf that makes for pitchforks in the street.
Business As Usual: The GOP machine that maintained a sustained attack on Clinton is being gearing up to undermine Obama. Not much changes. Ken 'The Puritan' Starr, who made a career out of not finding anything wrong with Whitewater, is warning that Obama will face an uphill battle over Supreme Court picks because he didn't warmly embrace two of Bush's picks. Elephants, it seems, don't forget. They can't count, either.
Double or Nothing: Citigroup’s credit card charge-offs have risen by 88% YoY, AmEx's more than doubled, while BofA is only up 61% from last year.
Had Mr C. Left the Building? Halliburton and its offspring KBR are paying a $579 million fine for bribing foreign officials to win construction contracts abroad. This does not include any bribes and kickbacks involved in their Iraqi contracts, where they were only doing their patriotic duty.
Sheep in Sheep's Clothing: John Mica, (R, FL), "I applaud President Obama's recognition that high-speed rail should be part of America's future." However, he did not vote for the stimulus bill in which the high-speed rail funding was included.
Pinheaded Angels: In Alabama they are worried that a law prohibiting even those with permits to carry concealed weapons from sneaking guns into church is an intrusion on the separation of church and state. It should be up to the members of each church, they claim, to decide whether they want to spend Sunday morning wondering which of their brethren is going to whip out an automatic and send them all to see Jesus. On the positive side, it might keep 'em awake through the sermon.
Nationalize Here, Nationalize Now: The chorus is in full throat; it's not just Roubini, Taleb, and the lefties any more. Seems like 'everyone' (except Geithner and Bernanke, who are the only ones who count) knows that the big banks must be sent to rehab.
Good Sign: A majority of investors polled by Bloomberg in 10 markets from New York to Paris and Tokyo, predict that stocks will continue to fall over the next six months. When's the last time a majority of investors was right?
Porn O'Graph: Another way of comparing unemployment data: by household.