Have Americans no higher purpose than to buy things?
Told You So: Senior military commanders are now looking back at the mess that has been Iraq and Afghanistan and saying that we didn't listen to their pleas for more troops then, so we have to pay up with more troops now. Not invading at all, or getting out now do not seem to be options they have ever wanted to consider.
New House Noise: October new house sales were up 5.1% over the previous year. This is the first y/y increase since October 2005, and while new house sales may have stopped falling, they're still lying there at the bottom of the cliff.
Goodness: While a purported recovery is underway and – the story goes – opportunities are everywhere, the Treasury has no problems selling bonds at the lowest yields on record. Is this a vote for the USA, or a vote against the recovery?
John Wayne World: A man's word's his bond, partner. And a man doesn't walk away from his debts even if staying and paying is stupid. Many, if not most, underwater homeowners would be far better off simply walking away and letting the lender foreclose – even if that's “not the American way.” But it was designed that way – the lender accepted the loan based on the collateral. In most states, letting the lender repossess the house satisfies the loan and frees you from debt slavery.
True Lies: As part of a plan to spin off two of its life insurance subsidiaries, AIG plans to give US taxpayers preferred shares it claims are worth $25 billion – and call it a “repayment” of that much bailout money. The accounting term for this is “slight of hand” or “wishful thinking”. But it most certainly is not outright fraud, because it is possible the shares might someday be worth something.
Half a Loaf: Paul Krugman says it’s time for an emergency jobs program. Well, that's the first shoe. What we really need is to step back from the rush to poverty that globalization has wrought, and give serious thought to the consequences of making US workers compete with the billions and billions of desperate workers elsewhere. It enriches the rich and impoverishes the rest of us and needs stop. Instead of setting rules that are destroying the productive might of this country, consequences other than cash should be considered. Failure to act isn’t just cruel, it’s short-sighted.
Holiday Sense: Last weekend, about 40% of shoppers paid in cash, about a third used debit cards, and the rest resorted to credit cards. Shows surprising prudence, assuming they had the money in the bank to cover the debits - else the banks got an early stocking stuffer.
Scare Tactic? Trader/investor Bob Chapman claims over 2,000 banks will soon collapse, TARP banks have been told to restrict commercial lending and to require 75% in collateral. He adds that the FDIC will be closed/collapsed by Sep 2010 and that an official devaluation of the dollar will occur by the end of 2010. And you think I'm a doomster...
Day Care: Why didn't any of the adults suspect that an indoor ski run nestled among empty highrises looking down at thousands of vacant houses on man-made islands wasn't actually a viable concept for investment?
Porn O'Graph: Peeking at Crude, peaking.