We are not nearly as clever as we imagine.
House Numbers: The Case-Shiller Composite was up 1.0% in August, m/m, down 11.3% y/y, and remains down 32.5% from the peak. Don't get too excited, it was probably due to the $8,000 home-buyer. There's still more pain to come, starting with coming option-ARM speed-bump (see chart). Plus the flood of foreclosures on the way will drive down prices. Did I mention increasing unemployment? “Expect subdued home price appreciation” for the next few years. Subdued?
Working with a Net: BP managed to eke out a $5.34 billion dollar profit in the third quarter, a drop of 34% from the previous year.
Read it and Weep: In a burst of political pandering the Home Buyer Bribe (aka the Housing Price Support Supplement) reportedly will be extended in time and scope – helping out folks who make up to $250,000 buy “move up” houses. But it's not all cream, the $8,000 bribe will be lowered to will be reduced to $7,290 and the whole thing bundled with an unemployment benefit extension to make it veto-proof. Fiscal restraint.
Colonialism: China trippled its investments y/y to $20 billion in 3Q/09 as it
gobbled up invested in mining and oil assets at depressed prices during the global economic downturn.
Clothing's New Emperor: Even the NY Times has noticed that Obama is as committed to hiding torture as Bush/Cheney. He's clinging pretty tightly to the executive power/national security rubric of his predecessor, too. Change? Trust you can change?
Gimmie, Gimmie: Washington Mutual's banking operation was run into the ground and taken over by the FDIC, so the parent holding company wants back $6.5 billion from the FDIC it contributed to the failed bank's capital, $4 billion from JP Morgan, $3 billion in tax refunds, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Conundrum: Will the government pay limits cause AIG to lose the people who drove it into bankruptcy as they go where their skills are appreciated and they can make more money? Is Al Capone hiring?
Strategic Withdrawal: A senior foreign service officer in Afghanistan resigned in protest over US strategy there, saying, “I fail to see the value or the worth in the continued U.S. casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan government in what is, truly, a 35-year-old civil war.” Interesting. I didn't realize we actually had a strategy in place.
More Mumbo Jumbo, Please: Clarity and succinctness in financial reporting can be unsettling, as in the Business Insider headline: “The Dollar Is Toast And It Won't Help The Stock Market.” or their “Bonds Will Get Slammed Once The Fed Stops Propping The Market.”
Me Neither: "I never bought Michael Jackson as King of Pop.”
Evermore: GMAC borrowed $12.5 billion, then topped up with $5.6 billion, and now is back at the Treasury looking for 'just' $2.8 billion, to help hornswaggle more people into buying cars they can't afford and eventually won't pay for them. It's the American way.
Viagra Won't Help: US politicians trying to restrict imports of 'dirty energy' from Canadian oil sands have found that WTO rules have prevented countries from erecting barriers to the search for profit and delivered the keys to the chastity belt to the world's business leaders.
Definition of 'Away': Where all the plastic crap goes when we're done with it. Progress isn't our only product.
Parse This: “Electric-car makers ranging from Ford Motor Co. to California start-ups are using $11 billion in taxpayer funds to supply a market that does not yet exist.” Electric utilities warn that if they are not given billions to build new plants – without environmental constraints – there won't be enough electricity to power all these non-existent cars.
Flattery, Sincere Form: Bush decided that the United States had the right to
invade protect itself from those who might some day think of not doing as they were told. Thus Iraq & Afghanistan. Now Putin's decided that Russia should beef up its forces for “cross-border interactions” and be ready to launch preventive nuclear strikes against perceived threats.
Porn O'Graph: Old NOAA's Almanack.