Finance's Leatherman Tool: Is it a commodity, money, jewelry, a store of value, the ultimate hedge, a talisman? Why is the price of gold over $1,000 an ounce? Because it is all these things and more. And when there's only one seat left on the last plane out...
Do they draw straws? Disgraced and dismissed Tom DeLay (R, K-Street) says he has "no idea" if President Obama is a citizen of the United States.
Main Event: Fitch Ratings says that the the price drop in the UK is about to resume and prices will drop from their current 13% off the previous highs to at least 30% below. In the US, vacant rental apartments, which are at the highest level in 23 years, will drive house prices down even further.
Pinko Commie CIA Liberals: Senator Barrasso, (R, WY) wants the CIA to stop studying global climate change – which is arguably the gravest threat facing the USA – because creating a center on climate change is not going to prevent terrorist attacks.
Fear of Falling: Consumer debts far exceed any capacity to repay them. Businesses, too. Falling incomes and 8 million plus unemployed mean more defaulted loans. Income tax receipts are down 21%, business taxes show a 58% decline. Uncle Sam is spending 185% of his income. Over 13% of mortgages are delinquent or in foreclosure, 15 million houses are underwater. The problems that got us here have not been addressed, and the odds of avoiding a deflationary collapse narrow by the day.
The Question: Is the dollar in trouble and does it even matter? Yes, and probably not.
Weakest Link: The Arctic Ocean is rapidly acidifying and in regions near the north is likely to become corrosive within 10 years. The water will then start to dissolve the shells of mussels and other shellfish and cause major disruption to the food chain. By the end of the century, the entire Arctic Ocean will be so corrosively acidic it will actually dissolve the shells of living shellfish. This will affect the whole food chain, the one you are at the top of.
Messy: The universe has more entropy – a measure of messiness and disorder - than previously thought. Calculations also show that the universe is older and a tiny bit closer to death than previously suspected.
Down for the Count: Sweden has quietly told its banks to prepare for the economic and political collapse of Latvia, where political order is unraveling and the economy beyond the IMF's power to revive. The IMF is enforcing a"pro-cyclical contractionary policy" in Latvia, which apparently is some form of Tough Love. Foreign banks (mostly Swedish) are being rescued at the cost of local taxpayers.
Convenience: Sociologists have discovered that most black children grow up in neighborhoods with significant poverty. Preliminary data suggest they do so to be near their parents.
Very Faint Praise: Former banking regulator William Black doesn't think today's regulators are doing their jobs and he thinks Treasury Secretary Geithner is “a disaster.” On the other hand, he did not compare him to Greenspan.
Hidden in Plane Sight: The Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered a new ring around Saturn. The nearly invisible ring – it's mostly dust and ice - is the largest of the planet's many rings, beginning nearly 4 million miles out from the planet's surface and extending out another 7 miles or so. Isn't it interesting how ignorant we are of the neighborhood?
Porn O'Graph: Are you paying in dollars, pigs, promises or gold?