Wednesday, March 4, 2009

SAR #9063

"I don't recall the whole joke, but the punch line was "...retire."

Today's Quiz: The future of the GOP is (a) Michael Steele, (b) Sara Palin, (c) Bobby Jindal, (d) Rush Limbaugh, or (e) Future?

True Love: To re-inflate the overconsumption society, the Fed will give lend $200 billion to "investors" who pledge accounts receivables on autos, credit cards, lottery tickets and small business loans. The program is designed to "meet the borrowing needs of consumers". Puting the recovery on Visa so we can buy more stuff from China.

Matchbox Collection: Ford sales down 46% in February YOY. GM was off 53%, Toyota 40%. Nissan, 37%. Next month we're going to just list the buyers by name.

Eat Your Broccoli: Israel is going to present Clinton with a list of 'red lines' which the US may not cross in talking to Iran and the Palestinians. Funny, I thought we gave them $3 billion a year.

Gun To Our Heads: Bernanke says that AIG has been, is and will continue to be irresponsible and thus we have no choice but to bail them out again. And again. And then the little twerp said he was angry, too.

Take a Memo: Apparently voting for Bush wasn't such a good idea.

The Quote: "We’re not going to win this war just be staying.... quite frankly, we are not ever going to defeat the insurgency." Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

You Are Wheat You Eat: 2009 looks to be a humanitarian disaster in much of the world. The countries that make up two thirds of the world’s agricultural output are experiencing drought conditions. Wheat production forecasts are not cheery: Ukraine down 29.7%, Russia down 21.5% (These are two of the very few wheat growing areas not experiencing drought) US down 15% and Canada down 16% (before taking into account the serious drought in both countries), Europe down 7%, UK down 20%.

Crass Warfare: Obama's current economic contortions are not the beginning of class warfare in the US. It is a continuation of Now vs the Future, or more aptly, Baby Boomers vs Everyone Younger.

Hey Ben! Tim! Kuwaiti politicians want the state to give 15 year interest-free loans of $35,000 to every adult citizen and $3,500 to each youngster. Cheaper than bailing out AIG, Citi and BofA.

Just Wondering: Good news for Detroit: American SUVs and Hummers are the wanted toys of young and wealthy Iraqis. Why are there any "young and wealthy Iraqis"?

Baby Steps: We need a rational, factual public discussion of the realities of population growth over the next 40 years, leading to increased awareness and consciousness about sensible voluntary limits to continued population growth. And when that doesn't work, we'll try something a little more direct.

Proof: Research shows that watching TV before the age of 2 has no cognitive benefit for the children, which is the same result that comes from watching TV after the age of 2.

Stimulated: The country tried to spend its way to prosperity for the last 3 decades. Consumer debt is $23,600 per household. The average household carries nearly $8,700 in credit card debt. The Treasury wants to increase that.

Demonstration Project: Demonstrating the protectionist response to economic problems, Ecuador is imposing import restrictions on shampoo from Peru and grapes from Chile. Buy American.

Dry Cleaners: Secretary Clinton says the US will "continue to press for a Palestinian state." By now the idea has been pressed about as flat as it can get.

Porn O'Graph: A surplus of drought.


Rolandovich said...

What are your thoughts on the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility?

While I have no illusions about the long term (10-50 years) efficacy of a "debt" economy, would these kinds facilities give a shot in the arm until, say, oil runs out or a couple of ports are swallowed into the sea again?

CKMichaelson said...

Rolandovich - The TALF is another attempt to resuscitate the consumer by making it easier to go further into debt. I think all of these "asset" facilities start with the right first three letters. More debt, securitized into toxic assets is not what we need. See "True Love" in today's SAR.
And I must humbly disagree about the real-world efficacy of a debt and expansion based economy. Worked for a while; our children will hate us.

TulsaTime said...

I've got it! Since this started when the crap mortgages went bad and blew up all the MBS instruments, we should create a new securitization product based on Treasury paper! And since gov't bonds neveer go bad, we can reinflate forever!!!


Rolandovich said...

Right--I agree completely about the debt-based expansion economy. My question was in response to the article you referenced. My thought (poorly expressed above) is are we looking at official ignorance or is there really no other 'legitimate' school of thought for how to deal with these catastrophic issues. Since I have been reading your work (I believe it was when Yves Smith had you guest post) you have been beautifully capturing the updates of the resource depletion, climate disruption, and now financial 'meltdown'. These are issues that concern me very much as I am sure they would any person who would take them seriously.

My question is why must the official response to all of them be either 1.) ignorance, 2.) dismissal. Obama certainly seems to give some lip service to peak oil and climate change, but how seriously can we really think he takes them when his first priority is rescuing a debt-bombed economy by piling on more credit? It would make much more sense to me to rescue the ability of people to deal with these problems (e.g. secure their health care, food production capability) Certainly Geithner, Bernanke, Paulson et. al. are brilliant people. So I guess what I am really asking is, am I crazy or is every one else?

I would love to hear your thoughts as I just can't believe I am the only one scratching my head over that question.

Rolandovich said...

@TulsaTime thanks so much! Clear as ever now!

*Singing joyfully*

CKMichaelson said...

Rolandovich - I believe TulsaTime is on the right track. If we judge by acts and not intents, then the conclusion is that reality does not intrude upon the folks who keep banging our heads into a wall to cure their headache.

Rolandovich: Are we looking at official ignorance or willful manipulation for the benefit of the few?
CKMichaelson: You want answers?
R: I think I'm entitled to them.
CKM: You want answers?
R: I want the truth!
CKM: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has failed. That failure has to be hidden by actions. Actions dictated by the reading of the goat's entrails...

I think the whole thing, from the first TARP to today's failouts has been an attempt to revive the Lazarus that is the free market version of the capitalist enterprise. Don't worry, they'll find the right pump soon and maybe a new balloon and then everything will be all right. The poor and middle class will shut up and the upward redistribution of wealth will continue.

Bustednuckles said...

I love what you do and how you do it, ya have been on my Blogroll for a while now.

One thing that I believe has not been represented in this financial fiasco regarding the auto makers is something that I experienced personally after working at a Lincoln Mercury dealer for ten years in the nineties.
In 98,99, Ford was getting hammered and one result of their answer to cost cutting cut the throats of the automotive technicians working in their dealerships world wide.
They vowed to save one Billion dollars in one year and they did it by completley redesigning their warranty program.
Their warranty book that has their operations codes went from an inch and a quarter thick, to half an inch.

For those who are not familiar with Op Codes, every single repair you can possibly do to an automobile under warranty has been researched by the maufacturer and is given an Op Code and a ridiculous time frame for the repair to be done in.
When they cut out a Billion dollars, it came directly out of the back pocket of every dealership and especially out of the paycheck of every certified Ford technican.

That was enough for me and several long time mechanics.

I can only think that they are doing the same damn thing again while paying the high end people at every Auto manufacturer at the same pay they have for years.

Do not curse the mechanic who works on your car, that fellow is making less than fifteen percent of what you are being charged for the repair and has to outlay thousands of dollars in the mean time for long lived and sometimes, extremely expensive, specialty tools.

Just my .02, sorry to vent here but it is information that you should know to form a more informed opinion of what is going on in the world.
Just for yer info?
Any time you hear the word "flush", just say no and go find a local mechanic.