Reality makes things difficult.
Bare Bottoms: In many locations, house prices seem to have bottomed, along with permits, starts, and sales. But the $8,000 gift is still having an effect and mortgage rates are still very low, so walk softly. with the forecast rise in foreclosures in mid to upper priced houses, the increasing delinquency rates and the falling 'cure' rates, expect it to be a bumpy bottom. Try to hold your breath until Christmas. Christmas 2010 or 2011.
Danger, Will Robinson: Next year the IRS may limit 401k contributions to $16,000 – just about half of an average worker's income.
If, Then... If, as seems apparent, Madoff “paid people to look the other way”, wouldn't at least some of them be in positions of authority? Can you spell 'co-conspirators'?
Ripple: Unemployment insurance claims decreased a little less than 2% last week, but let's hold off on the celebration – 570,000 new claims is still 570,000 former breadwinners.
Biggest Bubble: Government debt. Like those securities based on sub-prime mortgages for chipboard hourse, the Treasury is rushing to issue bonds that, like the houses, may soon be underwater.
Coda: Over the last 150 years, a small portion of humanity has managed to squander half a billion yeas of stored sunlight. This gave us – the tiny minority - a hundred years of abundance, while robbing everyone else of any chance that they would now, or ever, enjoy that same comfort and abundance.
Trifecta: Yemen is running out of oil, running out of water, and over-run with Shite militants, al Qaeda terrorists and discontented citizens. Think of it as a preview.
I'm With Him: “Our view is that the recession is not over, and that the Fed and Treasury have merely papered over the substantial problems that remain, while alleviating the short term credit crunch issues with absolutely massive injections of liquidity directly into the banks.”
Clunk: Early signs suggest that overall car sales are falling dramatically now that the bribery has ended.
Mite-y Powerful: The collapse of honey bee colonies is now being traced to the variola mite which carries a picorna-like virus which in turn damages bee's RNA to the point that it cannot produce the proteins the bee needs to survive.
Between the Lines: Today China uses 8 mbd of oil, about 10% of the world's supply. The US uses some 20 mbd, about 25% of the supply. China has 4 times as many people as the US. If China grows to use half as much oil per person as the US does, it will need 50% of today's output. For the usual prize, explain how this is going to be resolved peacefully.
Old Fashioned: While the big investment banks got in trouble through derivatives and off-book vehicles, most of those that show up in the Friday Failure list got there the old fashioned way – they made a lot of very bad loans. A lot of these questionable loans were in commercial real estate – and they are just starting to domino.