Alternative energy is a distraction, not a solution.
Profit Wins! If, as reported, the Democrats have dropped the public option, they have abandoned any attempt to improve the health care in the United States in favor of increasing health-care insurance profits. This is good for the economy, as ever more jobs will be created in medical claims processing. Also, delivering 40 million new (taxpayer subsidized) premium-payers to the insurance companies to pretend to cover the currently uninsured will certainly drive up health insurance stocks. But nothing in the bill will actually improve heath care nor lower the cost of what passes for healthcare in the US. The war is over, the people lost.
Stop Me If You've Heard This One: The decade now ending is the warmest ever, and is just a taste of what's ahead, scientists say. They also know that some don't want to hear this and will refuse to listen.
BeLabored Report: After the giddy reception the BLS's employment data got last week, there have been a number of complaints saying “this is data of convenience, designed to achieve political ends.” The Anecdotal Economist does a fine job of pulling all the threads together into a coherent club to beat some rationality into the numbers.
Deep Throttle: Turns out we invaded Iraq because a London cabbie thought Saddam could launch a missile attack on 45 minutes notice. If all government servants were required to take the tube, maybe we'd not be stuck in Iraqi sand. Then again, they'd still have had the oil...
Wasting Away: As long as the world's economy rests on continued borrowing by the US to consume the systems excess output, we will stagger from crisis to crisis. The first step toward a saner system would be to remove the tax benefits of debt.
Just So: “Mathematics links Art and Science in one great enterprise, the human attempt to make sense of the universe." Fields Medalist Sir Michael F. Atiyah
Multiple Choice: Fitch Ratings has pasted a BBB+ rating on __________ because of “concerns over the medium-term outlook for public finances given the weak credibility of fiscal institutions and the policy framework... exacerbated by uncertainty over the prospects for a balanced and sustained economic recovery.”
Dealer's Choice: Insiders selling overwhelms insider purchases, 82:1 - $957 million out versus $11 million in. Talk about a lot of bull in the market.
Heart of the Darkness: While suspect categories of loans (liar's loans, ARMs and Option Arms, low and no down payments) and the precipitous drop in house prices (leading to negative equity) were the proximate causes of the current malaise, what's been overlooked – and potentially far more dangerous - has been a generation of over-reaching, of assumed entitlement. 75% of current mortgages were originated or refinanced during the bubble years. Of the +/- 43 million loans in existence today at least 30 million were refinanced or originated during the bubble years. It is entirely possible that half of these loans will crater. So far only 8 million of them are in some stage of foreclosure so far. Are there another 20 million foreclosures waiting just off-stage?
Discussion Topic: Is health care like housing, you only get as much as you can pay for? If you agree, how far are you willing to follow that logic?
Worry Beads: After nine straight months of decline, American's credit card balance has fallen below $900 billion. After nine months this qualifies as a trend, and the trend line leads to a near term level of about $675 billion and a long-term revision to the mean trend line at about $300 billion. (And the Dow at about 6,800.)
Backup: Saudi Aramco is searching “in every corner of the kingdom” for new oil fields, with 45 to 50 exploratory wells planned for 2010. With all their claimed reserves, what's the rush?
Made in the USA: In the 1960's when Big Tobacco's poisonous product came under attack, they turned to the PR firm of Hill and Knowlton who in turn created the manufactured doubt industry and hired Dr. Frederic Seitz as a paid consultant to disparage the scientific evidence. The public did not know the difference between science and men in white coats, and Big Tobacco continued to kill for profit. Then H&K moved on to asbestos, lead, vinyl chloride and dioxins. And, sure enough, today Dr. Seitz is in the lead, manufacturing doubt and assuring the faithful that climate change science is hokum.
Making a List: Delinquency rates continued to increase in the third quarter for most commercial/multifamily mortgage investor groups. Santa's not going to like that.
Porn O'Graph: Who's footing the bill?