Capitalism hasn't become meaner.
Reasons 1 thru 3: US consumer debt is declining for the first time in 60 years, and the rate of decline is not yet slowing. Delinquencies in mortgage payments continue to creep up. Commercial loans continue to fail at ever increasing rates.
Seams, Bursting At: Despite all the terrible fears expressed in Copenhagen last week, the really scary thing is this: Today 1 out of every 3 people in the world have no access to electricity and those 2 billion want what you have. By 2050 today's 6 billion will grow to 9 or 10 billion. And they will all want what you have. And they will not stand quietly in dark alleys and obediently starve to death in the cold. What fossil fuels we have will be burned, and then the cities. Global warming is not the largest danger.
Mission Unlikely: Credit Swiss says that in order to stabilize the US housing market, 75% of the anticipated 4.3 million foreclosures expected in 2010 must be prevented. It was unclear exactly how that would come about.
Tripping Point: In February 2009 global oil demand dropped to 84mbd and the price dropped to $40 a barrel. Today demand is back to about 86 mbd and the price is around $75. A 2.4% increase in demand resulted in nearly a 90% increase in price. Of course the economic problems have nothing to do with the price and availability of oil. Never have...
Joke? Senator McCain now claims that Obama is responsible for the partisan political climate, because he won't let the minority party have its way.
Crushed: In Michigan more than 20 of the states 83 counties are grinding up paved roads and putting down gravel, at a 90% savings. Pennsylvania, Indiana and Vermont are also removing asphalt roads rather than repaving them. Planning ahead; it'll be easier on the horses' hooves.
Can Inflation Be Managed? The Fed says not to worry, but when the bills come due – in about 3 years – expect the politicians to take the easiest way out – inflation. They've done it before and there is every reason to expect they will do it again. Higher taxes and less spending doesn't go well with an election year.
Greeceing the Skids: Moody's has lowered its rating on Spanish mortgage and sovereign debt due to ballooning deficits. Don't worry, the losses will be “contained” to French and German banks.
Appalling: Under the US Constitution no person can be held without due process nor be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. Torture is explicitly and specificity illegal under US law – it is in fact a capital crime. But if the President – or anyone he designates - declares you to be “a suspected enemy combatant”, you cease to be “a person” and have no rights whatsoever. None. You can – and will be – tortured. That's what the Supremes said, after a lower court ruled that “torture is an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention.” The
Bush Obama administration sought the rulings.
The Orphans: Fannie, Freddie, Ginnie Mae and AIG, each have such flawed business models that they will remain wards of the state for as long as the rivers run...
Paradise Lost: Before shedding too many tears over the failed Copenhagen agreement, pause to understand that the cuts on offer would have lead to a CO2 concentration above 550 ppm, which assures a global temperature rise of 4 to 6ºC. If that's the best we can hope for, there is no hope.
Aye, Here's the Problem: Should banksters feel shame for the disaster they brought us? No, most say, for the banks owe a primary duty to shareholders. Back in the mist of time, before corporations captured the state, the state permitted incorporation only for limited periods of time and only for specified activities and only for the greater good of the people as a whole. Stockholders came second to the populace, and still should.
Porn O'Graph: The trend is not your friend.