The supply of greater fools is large, not endless.
Down, and Downer: Even with the $8,000 bribe and 3.5% down payments, existing house sales fell 2.7% m/m in August. The median price of a house sold in July was $177,700, down 12.5% y/y. 'Distressed properties' – foreclosed places – made up 31% of August sales. Foreclosures – and thus distressed properties, which sell for 15-20% less than normal houses – will increase significantly in the next year, driving prices further down.
Spade, Spade: Czech President Vaclav Klaus described the UN climate change meeting as a sad, frustrating, undignified propaganda exercise. Excuse me, that should have been “accurately described.”
No Exit: The Fed will keep buying all the mortgage securities in sight, plus all of the GSEs' debt, for at least three months longer than originally planned. The idea is to keep mortgage rates low enough to get more people to buy rapidly depreciating houses.
Non-Profit Prophet: The IG for TARP says we shouldn't be fooled by a couple of small payments, for the odds of the taxpayer getting back all – or even most – of the $700 billion given to Wall Street are very small. “Extremely unlikely” were his words. AIG, for one, seems unlikely to repay its $184 billion. And there never was an intent to collect on the $50 billion given away to keep the hapless in their homes.
Weight Watchers: Scientists monitoring Antarctic coastal ice report that it is thinning rapidly as glaciers speed up their flow into the seas. The pattern is widespread and extends hundreds of kilometers inland.
Future Fuels: Civilization will depend on oil-fueled transportation and electricity from coal-fired generators for as far into the future as we can peer. The DOE says oil, coal and natural gas will make up 82% of the US primary energy supply in 2030, just 2% less than today. If the future belongs to alternative energy, the future won't start until long after 2030.
Well, Sheet: Now the ecopeople want me to use TP made from recycled paper. I did that as a kid, camping. My dedication to saving the world has come to an end. My end.
Stop Hummming! The German army wants several wind-power projects shut down because it's afraid the turbines will interfere with its radar systems. They could run some tests and see, but it's an army and it's afraid and you don't want to upset the German army.
If the Shoe Fits: The Swiss say the current attack on their tradition of banking secrecy will make criminals of those who try to hide their money from taxation, which the Swiss call “diversifying away from their home country”.
Count to 10 : The IMF says global growth will not return to normal rates until 2015 or later. The Bank of England warns that optimism can easily be overdone and that the British banking system is “not in good shape”.
Making Ends Meet: The UN's FAO says world food production must increase by 70 percent by 2050, to nourish a human population then likely to be 9.1 billion. Why don't they ever say “Look, in 2050 we're going to have x amount of food. Plan accordingly.”
Pre-Due Bills: The FDIC is close to broke and may raise funds by pre-collecting future assessments - sort of a reverse charge account. Or it could charge them more, now. Or, most likely, it'll hit up the Treasury – which is asking the taxpayers to pay for their own deposit insurance.
Two from Column B: China understands the “peak resources” idea – that the world has run up against the long forecast “limits to growth.” And they're spending their American dollars to buy up nearly everything, everywhere. We're giving ours to Wall Street.
Easy Answers: All the energy the US needs could be provided by covering 75 square miles of western desert with solar plants using current technologies. The cost would be about 10 years worth of oil at current prices. But then we would not need to fight the wars, so that's a non-starter.
Porn O'Graph: What's wrong with this picture?