Life once had value, not just price.
Highest Bidder: In Afghanistan, as in the halls of Congress, loyalty goes to the highest bidder. And the highest bidder is the Taliban, which pays recruits about twice what the US has been paying for government troops. Their bribes are better than our bribes. And their money is a mix of development funds the US has sent and profits from the opium trade – which is also money the US has sent, indirectly.
Deficit Reduction: Deficit hawks in Congress are upset at the idea of spending $75 - $150 billion on a jobs program. It's simply not right to spend nearly as much on a jobs program as Wall Street will on Christmas bonuses.
Wages of Sin: Everyone's concerned about Greece – because they're afraid the fire may spread to their roof. They being the USA, UK, France, Germany, Austria... everybody but Switzerland. And nobody wants to be Spain or Ireland. US debt service will exceed 10% of GDP by 2013, maybe higher, as will the debt service of most of these countries as the 'weakness' continues. At what level do governments begin to have trouble getting funding? Well, yes, absent the printing press.
Pull Up a Chair: The Treasury has invited TARP to settle in and stay for a while – until October 2010 at least – because “it's important to hold onto money and have it available in case any new catastrophes slam our financial system.” Plus they're pretty sure they couldn't wrest another $700 billion out of Congress.
Treat: General McCrystal has decided that President Obama is a good boy and should not coal in is stocking after all. Maybe he'd like a toy Humvee or a med-evac helicopter.
Shoemaker's Kids: At least eight major gold mining firms, even with gold near $1,000 an ounce, have to borrow money so they can pay dividends to their shareholders. This is generally Not a Good Idea. What's the point of having a gold mine if it isn't... well, a gold mine?
Water Is Wet: Some banker has suddenly discovered that if we don't create 140,000 jobs a month unemployment will keep growing, and that 86,000 new jobs a month are required for unemployment to remain steady. They could have read it here first, repeatedly.
Terminology: When you see the new advertising and displays that give you a computer-augmented view of a real scene, one that is probably interactive and three dimensional, you are looking at an 'Augmented Reality System'. This is not necessarily good news for us older folks who have a hard time with old fashioned unimproved reality.
Over There: Corrections are routinely made to economic data that has been rushed into print. Sometimes they are significant revisions, such as the BLS revisions to unemployment data after 9 months. And sometimes it amounts to a do-over, such as announcing that a Japan's 4.8% GDP growth was actually only 1.3%. That's about 350% more than a correction.
Early Lessons: Research shows that the oldest sibling in a family is less trusting, less cooperative, and less reciprocating than younger siblings. In that the newcomers spoiled a perfectly fine arrangement, why shouldn't the older siblings be less trusting?
Not On My Block: How much of the consumer spending that makes up 70% of US GDP is discretionary? One way of looking at is to subtract out “housing, healthcare, energy, food eaten at home and other household staples.” and concludes that only 20% of the GDP can be affected by consumer sentiment. This overlooks the rise in homelessness, moving back in with mom and dad, keeping the old car, skipping dental care and doctor's visits, having the heat turned off, and turning to food stamps and community pantries for food assistance – all of which eat into the non-discretionary half of GDP.
My Question, Exactly: The Business Roundtable is out with its "Fourth Quarter 2009 ECO Economic Outlook. One of the items seemed especially incongruous to me: those polled expect sales to increase next year, but the don't expect to increase their employment levels. Without an overall increase in employment, where do they think the additional spending is going to come from?
Porn O'Graph: Who you calling a delinquent?