We were taught there is always a happy ending. We were lied to.
Playing Chopsticks: China's 's defense minister says that it's military capability has taken a "quantum leap" thanks to a modernization drive, and that its weaponry rivals that of Western countries. He also pointed to the “tremendous changes in national science and technology strength” represented by these advances, in case the Pentagon hadn't noticed.
Private Option: Here's how the 'private option' healthcare is working out. The average family premium increased 5% in 2008 (inflation was a negative .7%) to $13,375. Private option health insurance has gone up 131% in the last decade, while wages went up 38% on average. Yep, we sure can't afford no public option.
My Question, Too: “How can the Dow Jones Industrial Average be flirting with 10,000 when consumers, who make up 70 percent of the economy, have had to cut way back on buying because they have no money?” Or jobs. Or credit.
Ups and Downs: The Baltic Dry Index has dried up again, but the container counts at US ports, both inbound and outbound, are nearly back to pre-crash averages. Yet supertankers are losing money on every voyage.
Volunteers? The Fed is buying about half of all new Treasurys, and buying about 80% of mortgage-backed securities (Fannie, Freddie, mostly). The traditional buyers – foreigners, households and primary dealers are all noticeably absent. Who is going to buy F/F's questionable paper when the Fed stops doing so in January? You, in the back, did I see your hand up?
Pot & Kettle: Retail stocks showed a bit of life today after Citigroup upgraded Macy's. Who upgraded Citigroup?
Countdown: Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank, says the world must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in the next 20 years and by 60% by 2050. He knows, but didn't say, that this would mean a 30% reduction in the developed world's standard of living. Probably slipped his mind.
Tumbling Down: The government – through Fannie, Freddie, FHA and Ginnie Mae own about 90% of all US house mortgages. Something like 40% are underwater. Prices are going to fall at least another 25%. It means millions more foreclosures. It means as many as 75% of mortgagees will be underwater on their loans. How are you going to make good on your mortgage after you can't make good on your mortgage?
Some Doctor, Some Cure: Engineers are getting itchy to save the world through 'geo-engineering', which seems to mean manipulating the environment some more, on even larger scales. Why not, it's worked out so well so far.
Check Mating : A report by Britain's Royal Society states that “there is no doubt that the current rate of human population growth is unsustainable." A million and a half more people show up on the planet each week, looking for sustenance and support that the Earth is not able to provide. Unchecked population growth increases global warming, resource consumption, environmental destruction and societal collapse. Education, family planning, and contraceptives – which have been inadequate in the past – are again the suggested solution.
Tell Me Why: Speculators hold a net 93.6% long position in gold. What do they think they know, and do they?
Re-runs: Italian authorities and the US Secret Service are investigating another $100 billion in US government bonds confiscated in Northern Italy from apparent smugglers. The two men under investigation for the earlier $134 billion in bogus US bonds have “slipped away”.
Quoted: “What constitutional rights should corporations have? To us, as well as many legal scholars, former justices and, indeed, drafters of the Constitution, the answer is that their rights should be quite limited - far less than those of people.”