Patriotism and religion often mistake murder for heroism.
Kicking Over the Chair: Housing's life support is ending: On December 31st the Treasury's purchase of GSE MBS, and various big bank “mortgage holidays” end. The trial mortgage modification program ends January 31st, without having had much success. The FHA will tighten lending standards by January 31st. The Fed will stop taking MBS off Freddie and Fannie's hands 's on March 31st. The Housing Tax Credit ends April 30th and Fannie & Freddie's Low-Cost Refinancing program ends June 10th. On the up-side, the Treasury will keep supporting Fannie & Freddie's deficit balance sheet.
Q & A: Should we tax millionaires more than working folks? Yes, it's just like robbing banks – that's where the money is.
Dancing With Them That Brought You: Now that holding hands in Copenhagen has failed to elicit any useful progress on slowing global climate change, are we doomed? Probably, but a few wistful souls think the US can magically make it profitable to use less energy, and then let capitalist greed save the day.
Cheers: 2010 will bring unemployment to another 60 million around the world and throw 200 million more into poverty. So says the Economist, which also suggests there is a 'high risk' of social upheaval in China, Mexico and Russia as their societies unravel along with their economies. Is this to be the end of Western Civilization?
Not Nearly Right: Krugman suggests we call the decade just ending the Big Zero, for it was a decade in which nothing good happened. Not quite true. This blog, among others, was started, in response to all those non-good things that were happening.
Minor Key: Prime Minister Putin has launched Russia's long awaited export route to ship petroleum to energy-hungry Asia. Russia is nearly tied with Saudi Arabia as a producer of petroleum, and obviously sees better markets in the growing East than in the declining West. Take notes, this'll be on the test.
Quoted: “The issue is what we should do about extraordinarily expensive treatments, some of which do very little to improve how well or how long people live. There is no ethically defensible reason why some Americans have access to expensive cancer drugs and some do not.”
Doggie/Window: How can there be a bubble in commodities when silver, coffee, sugar, cotton, and so forth are as much as 70% below their all-time highs in real dollars?
That's Why: Sovereign debt is deflationary because the rising debt levels sops up ever greater portions of income. Less income available to the non-governmental sector eventually drives prices down – voila, deflation. Redeeming the deficit will be inflationary, but in order to get significant inflation the central bank has to monetize the debt relatively quickly, and at accelerating rates for a prolonged period of time.
Fake Science: Now pet dogs join burping cows and my flatulent aunt as a prime cause of global warming. Phooey.
Go East, Young Man: China's recession seems to have been a minor head cold, not the near-pneumonia suffered in the Us/Europe markets. Their stimulus money did not stop at the banks, but turned into credit for expansion. Still, the main engine for growth in China remains cheap labor and the absence of environmental controls.
Outcome Based Spending: Each year Americans spend $7,290 per person on health care. What does all that money buy? A 78 year life-span. That'd be $568,620 in lifetime medical costs. In Spain they get to live 3.2 years longer for $351,7135 less. And in Portugal, where folks live to be 79 on average, they only spend $169,850 on healthcare. That's $2,150 per person per year. How is it they get to pay 70% less and live even longer? Ah, perhaps its their single-payer universal health care system. Shame on them.
Porn O'Graph: Cheer up, things
could be are worse than you thought.