Real-world choices are always limited.
Housing Noise: Sales of existing houses zoomed up by 7.4% in November, proving that the government can sell houses if it holds interest rates to record lows, passes out $8,000 a house, and looks the other way at income and down payment experience. There seems to be some difference in just how many houses are for sale. One source cites 3.52 million existing houses. Another says that with the shadow inventory there are 5.7 million units. Rising mortgage rates will hurt ongoing sales and house prices continue to fall.
Three Bears: First it was too hot, at 3.5%. Then it was supposed to be just right at 2.8%. Now it turns out that 3Q09 GDP was too damned cold at 2.2%. The recession's end has receded.
Whisper Campaign: China-watchers claim that social unrest is increasing in China. This sort of analysis is part of a long and respected tradition, much as Moscow watching was before the USSR surprised all the watchers by collapsing.
Word of Caution: A medicine used to enhance MRI images appears to be less than salubrious to the health of kidney patients. You might want to read up on this, quietly.
Spectator Sport: It's environmentalists and water-well owners verses hydraulic fracturing to free up natural gas from shale formations. Someday soon the courts will have to decide what's more important, drinking water or natural gas. My vote's on the money.
Misery's Got Company: The IMF forecasts that gross government debt among advanced economies will continue to rise until 2014, reaching 114% of GDP, compared to just 35% for developing nations. We all have apparently chosen to die together in an orgy of debt.
Old Time Religion: What a surprise, it's not what you know, but who you
bribe donate to, especially if you wanted billions in free money from TARP.
On the Money: In the last year, every class of mortgage (prime, Alt-A, sub-prime) has continued to increase in delinquency rate. Although it is politically incorrect to point it out, sub-prime is still... sub-prime.
Do Not Adjust Your Set: US and Chinese scientists have released a new report indicating that prior estimates of global warming understated the potential rise by 30 to 50%. Prior estimates were based on relatively quick-reacting factors. When longer-term albedo effects such as vegetation changes as forest cover disappears and ice melt on open seas were included, the warming expected rose significantly.
Old Mother Hubbard: The FDIC now guarantees about $6 trillion in deposits with no reserves with which to pay any losses. This could get interesting.
Reminder: The US is not actually governed by the elected politicians. It takes a million or more to get into Congress. It takes tens of millions to be elected to the Senate, hundreds of millions to become president. Each of those millions belonged to someone who bought something with it. The system is not broken, it works exactly the way those who own it want it to work.
Present Christmas: In Italy, if you are “tanned” or a “bingo-bongo” keep in mind that Real Italians are hoping for a “White Christmas. Keep your toothbrush packed and wait for the knock on the door.
Smoke/Fire? Following an expansion of US bases in Columbia, President Chávez now reports that unmanned surveillance drones – presumably US owned and operated – have been making illegal sorties into Venezuelan airspace. The US will claim it is simply drug surveillance, monitoring the spread of democracy.
Informed Participants: A survey of CFOs suggests that “significant hiring” will not begin until “well into 2011”. A third expect their company's employment to reach pre-recession levels in 2012, and a third more honestly explain that they do not expect employment levels to ever return to previous levels.