Thursday, May 14, 2009

SAR #9134

We always suspected the streets weren't really paved with gold.

Come On: The administration is now refusing to release the remaining Abu Ghraib pictures because they have the potential to cause harm to our troops who committed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do they really think that this time the pictures won't leak?

Weeding: Retail sales fall 0.4% in April and 10% y/y, second straight monthly decline.

Snow Job: The annual scare-the-seniors parade is passing by, threatening armageddon and/or the poorhouse. True or True: A payroll tax increase of about 2% and expanding the tax to all income resolves the problem until way past death by global warming.

Leaner & Meaner: GM will close about 2,000 dealerships, which the market thinks is a good idea. Chrysler will close about 1,000. It will lead to the loss of about 250,000 jobs, which the market will briefly think is a good idea.

Sticks and Stones: The RNC, meeting in "an extraordinary special session next week" is expected to pass a resolution rebranding Democrats the “Democrat Socialist Party.” I'm not sure this will be binding on the Democrats or any of the news media except FOX.

Pocket Change: OMB expects Fannie and Freddie to ask for $92 billion more (they already got $79 billion) this fall. A trial balloon labeled "Kill Fannie and Freddie" is floating around the Beltway.

Happy Meals: Citizens 'happiness levels 'are highest in northern European countries - Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands are rated at the top of the list. The USA didn't make the top ten, but again swept the awards for obesity, infant mortality, and childhood poverty, although Turkey and Mexico beat the USA in these last two categories. The poor deluded socialists are apparently satisfied with their free medical care, too.

Open Secret: In the beginning, the Taliban was created by ISI and funded by the CIA. Another one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Contray Mary: Too many economists are now saying we're getting close to the bottom, that things are starting to improve. Hurry, run away, run away - these folks haven't been right yet...

Fad: Yesterday it was California, now it's the Feds - receipts are down 34% y/y. Soon appearing everywhere.

Whistling Past the Graveyard: European output dives, hopes shift to US shoppers.

Another One Bites the Dust: Bolivia's Chacaltaya glacier, at 17,4000 feet, used to be the world's highest ski run. It used to be a glacier, too. Too bad about the skiing. Sad, too, for La Paz and El Alto which rely on summer melt from the glaciers for their water supply.

Greens, Shot: People without jobs that pay reasonably well are not able to buy stuff, much less buy stuff on credit - they are lucky if they can continue to "service" their debts. Who could have guessed?

Terminology; "Reversion to the mean" is a statistical concept that explains why house prices will continue to fall.

Phases: Gulf of Mexico oil production is expected to peak at about 1.78 mbd in 2013, then decline. Whether the decline will be faster or slower than Cantarell wasn't specified.

What If? What happens if even more pensions fail? What happens when the states can't raise enough money? Where are all the real estate gurus, mortgage clerks, finance nerds going to work? What if the economy hasn't turned the corner? What if job losses continue apace, mortgage foreclosures continue to rise and corporate bankruptcies spike? What if the banks are really insolvent? What if Bernanke can't prevent rampant inflation? Just asking.

Sub-Prime Redux: No money down - 100% financing. That's right, you can borrow your down payment from a friend or your in-laws, add in the $8,000 gift from Uncle Sugar and buy that FHA backed house with zero down! Great idea, what?

Porn O'Graph: Easy come, easier go - spending up 17%, income down 15% and the gap groweth.


Anonymous said...

RE: What if

Guns ammo and booze. We're gonna need all of it.


Morg said...

FYI there is nothing "free" about universal health care (UHC). The money to fund that program will be forcibly taken by the government through taxes and redistributed in the form of doctor's visits and ritalin.

I always find it amusing how many people are for UHC when they know they aren't paying the taxes that fund it.

It will be interesting to see how our economy will somehow miraculously recover while shouldering the burden of a massively expensive health bureaucracy.

A pursuit of other means to reduce healthcare costs could be most beneficial. Like maybe subsidizing college tuition for medical doctors thereby increasing the supply of trained physicians. Economics 101: Increasing supply eventually lowers cost and demand. I think as a country we should pursue other angles before hoping on the UHC train.

I do support the idea of having safety nets in place for unforseen scenarios. But I also think a line needs to be drawn between social responsibility and personal responsibility.

I personally do not think I will be a happier American if the government gets more involved in my life. In fact the contrary is most definitely true.

CKMichaelson said...

Quite right, Morg. I dashed that off without explaining that in the civilized world taxes on (generally) gasoline are used to pay for universal health care. So the phrase should have been "single payer universal health care."

As for 'the burden of expensive health bureaucracy' one of the quickest way to reduce costs by about 25% is to do away with the paperwork required to keep insurers from paying for anything. A single payer system would not require near so much useless paperwork. Nor the profits to the insurance companies. And big pharma's profits could be reduced, too.

As for increasing doctors - the AMA has fought that for 50 years.

As for drawing lines, I'd prefer drawing one between social responsibility and personal greed.

And the research shows that those who live in social democracies with extensive social support and safety nets are happier than Americans.

Thinner, too.


mistah charley, ph.d. said...

Re "What If" and "guns and ammo"

Obama's flipflop on the torture photos is most understandable as being aimed at influencing the attitude of the military and pro-military civilians toward himself

- the supposed reason for suppressing them is the rationalization, Obama getting brownie points with the GIs and generals and spies and America-firsters is the real reason

there might be, in some hypothetical not-so-far-away future, a real advantage in having the army WANT to be on your side (as compared to some other hypothetical side)

the whole question of "what next" hangs over the excellent description of "how it happened" in the most recent New Yorker article by Paumgarten, "The Death of Kings"

CKMichaelson said...

mistah charley,ph.d. - Ah, what light thru yonder window breaks, aye, 'tis the mob and 'tis good to have the 3rd Infantry by my side.
Excellent point, sir.

And I put down my New Yorker half-way through 'The Death of Kings' to write this... an excellent article.


fajensen said...

Come On: The administration is now refusing to release the remaining Abu Ghraib pictures
This just shows why universal health care will fail just at the bailouts: In order to succeed Monied Interests will have to take a loss which is simply against Nature.

BTW; Is there *any* vested interest that Change Teeam Obama will *not* accomodate??

CKMichaelson said...

fajensen - Seems like old times... main difference is that Obama doesn't even have the decency to smirk.