Friday, December 4, 2009

SAR #9339

War is one way of expressing human vanity and idiocy.

First Step: In twelve-step programs, the first step is to admit you have a problem. A couple of Regional Fed Presidents, Plossner and Lacker, have taken the podium and admitted “uncertainty over whether the Federal Reserve is willing and able to promptly reverse that expansion...” in time to prevent rabid inflation.

A World Turned Upside Down: Unconditionally surrendering, Obama has conceded control of the military, the Afghanistainian adventure, his second term and the US budget to the necons and their pet generals.

Phone Tag: Not to be outdone by Sprint's announcement that Big Brother had tracked about 20% of its customers via the GPS chips in their phones, Verizon and Yahoo want you to know they're also doing their best to help the watchers watch you, but feel the details might 'confuse' you.

Six of One... According to the Labor Department, unemployment has increased in half of the country. The recovery is presumably underway in the other half.

Instant Replay: Remember 'covenant lite' loans? How about payment-in-kind, where the debtor pays the debt by issuing more debt, or 'dividend-recap' where the money to pay dividends is borrowed? These less than savory practices, which led to losses not so long ago, are back, helping to overheat the credit markets. There'll be a different ending this time. They say.

Observed, No Comment: “Intelligent design is not science.” and “Indefinite population growth is not an option.”

Double Strength Placebos: Climate change scaremonger and respected scientist Dr. James Hansen says that no treaty would be better than the cap and trade charade likely to emerge from politicians gathered in Copenhagen. A simple and straight forward direct tax of fossil fuels that eliminated any chance of massive shell games – such as occurred under the Kyoto treaty – would be ideal. Too bad it's not an ideal world, but rather one that is still warming.

Looking Ahead: Goldman Sachs says that in 2011 (no, not 2010) unemployment will peak at 10.75%, GDP will grow 2.4%, and inflation will remain flat, along with the Fed's zero % interest rates.

Neverland, East: In Dubai, the ubiquitous cranes are frozen against the sky, rows of buildings stand half-finished, or empty, water leaking from the ceilings, tiles falling into the desert below. Move along. Nothing to be seen here.

Borrowed Trouble: As if we didn't have enough bad news now, here's some from Diana Olick/CNBC for next year: The housing market won't begin to recover until the second half of the year, mortgage rates have nowhere to go but up, the number of foreclosed houses will be higher than predicted, and commercial real estate isn't going to do well either. And if you think house prices are rising, she suggests you think again.

Small, Smaller, Smallest: California's Department of Water Resources has offered its 25 million customers in the southern part of the state only 5% of the amount of water they had requested.

Too Big To Flail: In the US the problem of too-big-to-fail banks was solved by letting a select few gobble up the rest. In Europe the big have gobbled up the small and now at least 15 European banks have assets larger than their home country's economies. An amazing 353 European banks are bigger than they were when they helped bring down the world's economy.

Because I Said So: The FHA, with reserves at but 25% of their required levels, is adamant that it is not the next “sub-prime”. It was responsible in its actions, it says. That's why it seeks to raise  its lending standards and make it harder for folks to get mortgages. Because it's not going to be the next “sub-prime”. We have their word on it.

Porn O'Graph: Bird in the golden brass cage.


kwark said...

Looking Ahead: Oh, not to worry. Here's a comforting line from Reuters ". . .The economy shed only 11,000 jobs in November, well below the 130,000 loss financial markets had braced for, while the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 10 percent from October's 10.2 percent, government data showed on Friday. Even with the "birth-death" model the economy still shed 11,000 jobs but the unemployment rate DROPPED? WTF? Did somebody nuke Atlanta while I wasn't looking or did a few million unemployed folks simply decide to end it all by drowning themselves, lemming-like? Only the script writers in the wacky, topsy-turvy, mainstream media would be brave enough to write that sort of drivel.

CKMichaelson said...

Kwark - I understand there are two contributors to the confusion - jobs lost and the unemployment rate are the result of separate surveys. And the unemployed who don't show up are those who have become so discouraged (because they've applied everywhere and there's no work to be had) that they haven't looked for work in 4 weeks. Do that and the BLS doesn't count you at all - you just drop off the map.

These are government guesstimates; no one said they were particularly good guesstimates.

Tom said...

re: First Step
location: a Church basement somwhere in Georgetown
purpose: Inflationistas Anonymous

"Hello. My name is Ben and I'm an inflationista....

"Hi Ben"

Anonymous said...

Even though most of the media is ignoring the climategate scandal isn't going away. Steven Hayward's piece is a must read.

Here's several excerpts:

As tempting as it is to indulge in Schadenfreude over the richly deserved travails of a gang that has heaped endless calumny on dissenting scientists (NASA's James Hansen, for instance, compared MIT's Richard Lindzen to a tobacco-industry scientist, and Al Gore and countless -others liken skeptics to "Holocaust deniers"), the meaning of the CRU documents should not be misconstrued. The emails do not in and of themselves reveal that catastrophic climate change scenarios are a hoax or without any foundation. What they reveal is something problematic for the scientific community as a whole, namely, the tendency of scientists to cross the line from being disinterested investigators after the truth to advocates for a preconceived conclusion about the issues at hand...

In the larger world of climate science, the Climate-gate story is overwhelmingly about one small but very important subfield--paleoclimatology, the effort to reconstruct the earth's climate during the vast sweep of time before humans began measuring and recording observations about the weather. That turns out to be a massively complicated exercise in statistical manipulation of huge amounts of raw data. Because the gap between observation and conclusion in this subfield is so dependent on statistical techniques rather than direct measurement, it was bound to be a matter of intense controversy and deserved the most searching review by outside scientists. It is exactly this kind of review that the CRU insiders acted to prevent or obscure.

Because the earth's climate is a complex system, the effort to understand why and how it changes is arguably the largest undertaking ever conducted by the world's scientific community. The Climate Research Unit at East Anglia is not just an important hub of climate science, but one whose work plays a prominent role in the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body that every five or six years since 1992 has produced a massive report on the international "consensus" in the field of climate science. This is the body typically said to comprise 2,000 of the world's top scientists, though there are many thousands more scientists working on aspects of climate change who do not participate in the IPCC process, many of whom dissent from the rigid "consensus" the process produces. One of the things the CRU emails prove is that the oft-cited figure of 2,000 top scientists is misleading; the circle of genuinely active scientists in the work of CRU and related institutions in this country is very small. Nonetheless, Al Gore and other climate campaigners have leaned heavily on the IPCC process as proof for their assertions that human-caused global warming is a matter of "settled" science. This, even though, in the last IPCC report on the science of climate change in 2007, the terms "uncertain" or "uncertainty" appear over 1,300 times in 900 pages, and the report describes our level of scientific understanding of key aspects of climate as "low" or "very low." The IPCC chapter on the climate models that are the principal tool predicting our future doom refers to "significant uncertainties" in all the models, and admits that "models still show significant errors."