So far, regulatory reform is neither.
Tea Leaves: September's US trade deficit was $36.5 billion, up 18% from August. Some of that was the increased cost of petroleum, but it also shows an increase in customer demand. The patient's appetite is back, even though he's not back to work yet.
Grinch: Goldman Sachs, which has recently been bragging that it does the Lord's work, is taking the party out of Christmas. Mr. Marley said it was only fair they forego a big celebration this year, in a show of sympathy for those who are not getting $700,000 bonuses.
Oversupply and Underdemand: About one in seven housing units (houses, condos and apartments, ) was vacant in 3Q09. Part of the glut comes from foreclosures, the rest comes from apartments left empty as the kids move back in with Mom and Dad.
Reality Reporting: Walmart's sales were down 0.4% in 3Q09 even though customer traffic was up, as was market share. But a bigger piece of a smaller pie was still a smaller piece than they wanted.
Twins: Just as the health insurance companies will be the big winner from 'health care reform', the big energy companies will be the winners under the 'cap & trade' legislation. In both cases, the citizenry will pay more and be quite confused as to what, if any, benefit was gained. Rule of thumb: If Wall Street lets Congress pass a bill, it's not going to hurt them.
Sound Familiar? "Rather than deal with the problems directly they attempted to circumvent the problem by creating an environment where the government spent hordes of money to prop up failing institutions." Was that Japan, then, or the US, now?
A Clue: In the 1950's Bolivia's Chacaltaya glacier covered 1,600 square meters and hosted the worlds highest ski-run. Today it covers about 500 square feet (50 square meters), an area barely large enough to contain the rusting hulk of the abandoned ski lift.
Good Question: If stabilization in the housing market comes only through government subsidies and artificially propped up home prices, is it real, or stopgap?
Shell Game: $38 billion of Citi's capital doesn't exist – it's an accounting trick. They get to count as an asset the $38 billion in carry-forward tax credits they earned by losing billions and billions of dollars. If they don't have sufficient profits to use the tax credits, they go up in smoke and there goes a lot of their capital. Well, until Congress re-writes the law for them. Again.
Assigned Reading: Krugman asks why Germany isn't suffering as much as the US and suggests there might be a lesson there. Economics, of course.
Water is Wet: The FHA has belatedly learned that people who borrow their down payment money “are not equipped for home ownership.” They go into foreclosure 2.5 to 3 times as often as people who saved up their down payment. This lesson has cost the FHA about $10 billion so far, which may be why their reserves are only 25% of what they are required to be.
More Clues: Measurements confirm that Greenland is shedding its ice sheet at an ever accelerating rate.
Spade is Spade: The pro-coathanger Stupak amendment to the health reform bill should be removed and discarded. It is simply another attack by the people that genuinely hate women – especially poor women - coercing them to bear unwanted children they cannot support so the saintly can go to church and claim they've cleansed their dirty minds. It is an attack on the right of women to decide when and if they want to bear children – which the white male right sees as tantamount to their sinning without suffering, a practice that is reserved for them.
Relief: All you folks struggling to buy a $400,000 house can relax, the government is going to continue to coddle you for another year by pretending that ordinary folks need to spend $417,000 on a house and deserve help in doing so from Uncle Sam's taxpayers.
Porn O'Graph: Higher Highs, Higher Lows, Can't escape wherever you goes.