Monday, June 29, 2009

SAR #9181

What is best for you is probably not what is best for the world.

Strategy: One out of four foreclosures is due to people who could affort to continue making payments simply deciding that it no longer makes sense to keep paying on an underwater mortgage. The gullibility of the rest is all that is propping up the economy.

Hogwash: The new US overlord in Afghanistan has told the military to "protect civilians rather than killing insurgents." Previously they had been told to "minimize the need to resort to deadly force." Rather like telling a bunch of carpenters not to use their hammers.

Ground Zero: Danish health officials have identified the first known swine flu case resistent to Tamiflu, which the WHO considers to be the best treatment for H1Ni infections.

Treason: Politicians who deny global climate change and actively try to prevent Congress from adressing theissue are betraying humanity. Dooming civilization because of irrational political dogma or to suck up to money-dispensing industrialists is a crime against the future.

Getting Hyper: In Ireland, retail prices are falling at nearly 5% a year. That's not inflation - itis serious deflation. But it won't happen here, they say.

Revisionism: The Right claims the energy bill is a recipe for poverty and economic chaos, calling it the same sort of policy that raised California's energy prices. Trouble is, it was good Republican Kenny-Boy Lay who manipulated the energy markets and bankrupted PG&E. There wasn't a windmill in sight.

Very Strange: In the Old West, some folks - ancestors of today's investment bankers- assigned ownership rights to rainfall. The rain that fellon your roof belonged to someone else. You couldn't touch it. The rain that fell on the grass was okay, but you couldn't set a pail out there. That law, at least in Colorado, has finally been washed away.

Wrong Question: "Is Smart Money Betting on Inflation?" What smart money?

Sausage: Of course trading carbon credits is a scam - it passed political muster didn't it? Of course some will get rich from the system - it passed political muster, didn't it? Of course it will do no good - etc. The way to stop putting carbon in the air is to stop putting carbon in the air. Cap and trade is about making money, not about your grandchildren's lives.

Checkmate: One out of four homeowners is smart enough to walk away once he owes more on the house than its worth. The other 75% are what's keeping this enterprise running.

All in the Family: GE, which used to make things and dump PCBs into the Hudson, became a bank holding company by buying two tiny Utah banks and rolling that into being the largest pig at the TGLP trough - one of Treasury's give-aways. "We were accepted on the merits of our application," GE claims. Better living through tax monies.

Porn O'Graph: The new is getting older.

SAR #9180

It's not so much a life I'm having, as a learning experience.

Previews: Japan's core CPI fell 1.1% last month, renewing fears it is"heading for another lengthy period of deflation." Many fear the US is following the path Japan has been on since the 1990's - only much faster.

Alphabet economics: First we hoped for a 'V' shaped event, then a 'U'. Pretty soon 'W' became the Letter of the Day. Now we seem to be going to 'L'.

Not Funny: "How do you put together a consumer economy that works when the consumers are out of work?" Herbert's question and Ilargi's meditation on the theme skirts today's essay question: Outline, in several thousand words, an economic system that produces enough wealth to let Western civilization continue, functions in a way that lets all participate both in the work and in the rewards, does not enslave future generations to debt, does not bankrupt the earth of its resources and does not degrade the environment nor the climate. The current system does not work and is breaking down; there is no viable alternative in sight.

Ooops: After seven years of slash and burn the US has decided it didn't know what it was doing and plans on reversing its plan for controlling the Afghan opium networks. Now if they'd look at the military plan they've been following for the last seven years... Both there and in Iraq.

How High, How Soon? Researchers say that 8o% of Galveston houses will have to be vacated by 2100 if water keeps rising at the rate it has in the past 100 years. That's the good news. The bad news is that this is the optimistic prediction.

Asked and Answered: "Have We Forgotten that Savings Is a Good Thing?" Yes.

Paying the Piper: 15 states' unemployment funds are gone, forcing the US Treasury to advance them money to pay the unemployed. By next year over half the states will be lined up to borrow about $17 billion to pay the idled workers. Soon there will be moves to tighten eligibility and to reduce benefits. In January 3 million were on the dole. Today 9 million are, and the number will keep rising even as the funds keep evaporating.

Doing the Laundry: China has more dollars than it wants and gets more each day, so it uses them to buy hard assets - such as oil and leases on land for agriculture. These acquisitions are not for current use, not even for use in the near future. It is hoarding.

Things Are Looking Up: Even economists are getting hot under the collar as global warming continues.

The End of Information: We seem to be embarking on a new era, the Climate Age, during which we will focus our thoughts, hopes and efforts on but two things: slowing down the rate of climate change and dealing with the damage it will do to our civilization. These tasks will be the focus of our lives and will dominate the lives of our children. The Information Age is over, and most of the information was bad news.

Friday The Thirteent, Part 47: Do you lay awake at night, fearing that bank earnings announcements this summer will be worse than living next to Freddie Krueger? Well it's not all in your mind.

The Quiet Americans: Times are so obviously bad that employees quietly accept cuts in hours, reductions in pay - glad to have a job, any job, when survival is at stake. Nothing like fear to keep the workers in line.

Momentum: President Obama has picked up another of Bush's bad habits - signing statements. In his fifth such, he objected to the part of the $106 billion war finance bill that it would limit his ability to keep hiding the activities of the World Bank and IMF from the public.

By the Numbers: Jim Hansen, Bill McKibben and others tell us that is madatory that we immediately begin lowering carbon emissions by significant amounts, in an attempt to reverse the increase in atmospheric CO2 and bring it down to 350 ppm. Otherwise, we're toast.

Porn O'Graph: All things being Equity...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

SAR 9178/Weekender

Things that can't get better, get worse.

California Here We Come: Nearly half the states do not yet have budgets for 2010, and they are due July 1st. Absent a lot of last minute bi-partisanship, state employees may not be paid and many services suspended. But the spirit of bi-partisanship lives, no?

Second Verse: The Obama administration has drafted an executive order reasserting the President's right to clap anyone into irons and keep them incommunicado indefinitely. Why do we bother with elections?

New Business: AIG is going to give the taxpayers $25 billion in stock in insurance companies operating overseas. Maybe Tiny Tim and Uncle Ben can write insurance on the people who now own America's factories...

The Point: We keep being reassured that A has x billion barrels of oil reserves, B nearly that much and so on. Tens perhaps, hundreds of years of petroleum in reserve - proven, probable and possible. But in the post-peak era, the real question is how much of the oil will be exported? And regardless of the size of the energy reserves - be it oil, gas, or coal - the real question is how quickly they can be produced, at what price? Oil locked away in tar sands is a "reserve". It's not energy until it is mined, processed, refined and hauled to some user.

Without Comment: "Church to celebrate carrying of guns."

Eating the Seed Corn: Ultimately, recessions don’t end without rising employment, meaning consumers with money to spend. If the credit card companies keep raising rates, any gains in income resulting from the Obama stimulus will be swallowed by more usurious gouging of the indebted.

Paper or Plastic? Credit card companies are charging off over 10% of their balances as increasing numbers of Americans cannot make their payments. The country charges much of what it buys - think about 10% of that not being paid for. Plastic coated shoplifting.

Holding It's Breath: If the US passes carbon legislation, Big Oil will close refineries, cut capital spending in the US, import more gasoline, and hold it's breath until it gets its way.

Lost, Strayed, or Stolen: We're all aware that our pensions have disappeared, that our wealth has been vaporized, that the US manufacturing giant has been shrunk. But did you know that in the decade since 1999 jobs in the US have only increased by 1.1%? No wonder your kid is still living with you.

Everyone's a Winner: Great Britain has the biggest deficit (by %). Ireland has the most severe recession. Iceland was the first to disappear. Goldman Sacks placed the most alumnae in government offices..

Hummer Dinger: Chinese regulators are likely to block the sale of Hummer to a Chinese company because it doesn't fit in with its new svelte, lower-emission look.

Good News: US house prices will never actually reach zero although it will seem that way as prices keep falling through this year and next and probably into 2012. Without the $8,000 to $15,000 taxpayer gift, and the taxpayer supported FHA, FHLB, Fannie and Freddie, there would be no house sales at all. The only thing holding up any housing market (and thus the banking system) is the continuing generosity of you, my friends and neighbors.

Persistence: Apparently unsatisfied with the lack of action at the recent BRIC meeting, China's central bank again suggested an expanded version of the IMF's Special Drawing Rights replace the dollar as the international currency.

Painful Profits: As we long suspected, health insurers regularly "dump the sick" to improve profits. Insures habitually force consumers to pay for covered bills - often by "fudging" the numbers. Single payer universal coverage would cure this abomination.

Exhaustion: About 300,000 unemployed people run out of their 26 weeks of UI and are dropped from the BLS unemployment statistics. That's a million a month. While some eventually find jobs, they make up a large uncounted section of the unemployed - as many as 3 or 4 million.

Porn O'Graph: Freddie's little delinquents.

Friday, June 26, 2009

SAR #9177

Testosterone is the world's single most dangerous drug.

As Night Follows Day: Initial jobless claims rose to 627,000 and those collecting unemployment rose to 6.74 million and the market went up.

Ill Wind: The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (aka unindicted co-conspirators, bankers and other financial leaders) has begun a PR campaign to convince the public that far from being the problem, they are the solution. This is said to be a reaction to populist over-reaction blaming the rich and powerful screwing up the economy. Over-reaction?

Happenings: In order to rein in global climate change, the industrialized nations must cut back their carbon emissions by 40%. The US says that is simply not going to happen. So guess what is going to happen....

Enough said: "Bagram, the new Guantánamo."

Pork Is Pork & Keep Your Hands off Mine: Obama promises to veto the $680 billion military budget if it contains funds for the F-22 - which the military does not want and the plane's manufacturers agreed to terminate. But it represents jobs in 43 different states and Congress wants to keep wasting the money just as long as it goes to their voters. Remember the tilt-wing Osprey? The TFX?

Script Writer: On June 1st, California will begin 'paying' its creditors with IOUs. The governor wants to close the $24 billion gap by cutting $16 billion from the state’s programs for the poor and steal the balance from city and county governments.

Little Poppers: Sam's in Salisbury, MD, thought giving kids cute little RX bottles with candy in them was a clever way to promote their pharmacy. Think again.

Stealthy Panic: Utah reports a 40% increase in H1N1 cases in the last week, with as 5% death rate among those hospitalized. In the US, H1N1 cases increased only 20% during the same period, with 87 deaths now confirmed - nearly doubling in the last week and resulting in a 0.4% death rate. Over the same period, WHO reported a 55% increase in cases worldwide. At 0.4%, the CDC is estimating as many as 400,000 US deaths due to H1N1 with about 30% of the population contracting the flu. The current US flu count is about one million.

Ten and Counting: Credit card charge-offs reached 10.6% in May, up from 9.9% in April. By 2010 the rate is expected to top 12%. Things are so bad that OfficeMax will no longer accept its own cards.

For the Good of the Children: Moody's says the recent talk by the BRIC nations about replacing the dollar as an international reserve currency is just that, talk, for it sees "no credible alternative." That's not the same as saying a creditable alternative isn't needed, just that right now there's no alternative. Which is pretty much what the BRICs said.

Waterfall: Moody's reports commercial real estate values have dropped 25% y/y and 30% since the peak in October 2007. Don't panic, our leaders assured us the problem is confined to subprime mortgages.

Especial Oscars: Borrowing an approach from the Special Olympics, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will be awarding all films made in 2008 a special "Best Picture" medallion.

Taxing Speculation: Former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner thinks day traders should pay an 80% tax on their gains while those holding stocks for at least six months should pay 60% and those who hold a stock for 5 years and somehow make a profit, that profit should be tax free. Why Gerstner thinks Wall Street is about investing is a mystery.

Porn O'Graph: An optimistic mountain of housing guesses.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

SAR #9176

Forget CO2, the real cause of global warming is greed.

Memorial Service: A US drone joined a funeral gathering in South Waziristan, Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 60 mourners who had gathered to bury a Taliban fighter and were therefore obviously the enemy. As are all their relatives, now.

Fed Up: Our boy Ben has been accused of a cover-up to conceal details of the BofA/Merrill Lynch merger from other federal agencies, including threats to fire the BofA management if they didn't accept the deal. Emails and other documents purport to substantiate the charges.

New House Sales: No Bottom, No Bottom, Down 32% y/y, No Bottom, No Bottom, A 75% decline from the peak, No Bottom, No Bottom.

Who's Your Daddy? Republicans lined up with the banking industry to oppose the very idea that the government should regulate Wall Street. Some things never change.

Guilty Conscience: Spanish courts are expected to proceed with the indictment of six former Bush administration lawyers for their roles in authorizing the US torture program as crimes against humanity. Apparently they haven't forgotten the Spanish Inquisition.

Property Rights: If it comes to making serious changes in the social/economic structure of the US, revolution will be the only recourse, for the Roberts' Supreme Court will side with property over people, corporations over people, government crushing civil rights over people, the state over the wrongly convicted, the executive branch over the Constitution. It no longer is for, by, or of the people.

Grasping Greedily at Straws: In New York, the MTA will sell naming rights to subway stations. I'm waiting until I can name school buses.

Another Casandra: The International Energy Agency says that if the global crunch ends and global GDP growth returns to the 5% range, oil demand by 20-14 will outstrip supply and another economic downturn will result. If things get better, they'll get worse.

Scary Movie: Saudi Arabia is ending its search for oil and is now looking for natural gas deposits. They say that's because they've got all the oil anyone could ever want. Cross your fingers.

Enlightened Self Interest: Mexico's Cantarell is now producing less than 700 kbd, and Mexico's oil exports continue to fall while domestic demand is flat or rising. Should Mexico stop exporting petroleum and keep what they have for their own internal use? Would the US let them?

Yes,But : Uber-investor Warren Buffet - whose Berkley Hathaway lost some 40% in value last year - says that the economy is in a shambles, there are no signs of a recovery yet and that equities are a good investment for the long haul. Apparently the very, very, very long haul.

Money meets Mouth: NASA climate scientist Jim Hansen is spending his vacation in jail in West Virginia, as a result of actively protesting continued coal mining via mountaintop removal. Actually, Hansen isn't so much against mountaintop removal as he is against burning coal and killing grandchildren. He was joined by 94 year-old former WV Congressman Ken Hechler. Sorry you couldn't make it.

Clip and Save: The competition for oil and gas in Central Asia and the Caucasus is intense and growing; China has the money, Russia has the relationships, Europe has the need and the US has the military. The Great Game continues.

Ice Nine: Two high school students, independently, have discovered microogranisms that devour plastics. Starting with a common yeast solution, feeding the yeast bits of plastic and selecting for those that munched a little, over time a strain was developed that degrades 40% of the plastic in only 6 weeks. More study must be done to see if the process can scale up or if the byproducts themselves are harmful, but for now it is simply a bit of good news - even if it is a bit of evolution at work.

Job Counseling: The propaganda for the new jobs to be had in the alternative energy field is ubiquitous. What isn't are the jobs. There are lots of jobs financed by Big Coal for PR people who want to talk about the jobs to come, just no actual jobs.

Porn O'Graph: And then there were none.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SAR #9175

The gene for common sense is apparently recessive.

Volume XIV or So: House prices in the US fell another 6.8% in April y/y, unemployment creeps ever upward along with foreclosures and someone's been trampling on the green sprouts. May house sales are expected to be down 3.6% y/y. The S&P/Case-Shiller index showed US house prices down 18.7% in March, y/y. All signs that don't say "New Reduced Price!" point to further declines.

It's a Job, Just a Job: About 25% of US firms have cut matching contributions to 401(k) plans, or eliminated them all together. It's bad enough that Congress keeps raising the minimum wage every 20 years or so. Read any of those articles about the new feudalism?

Perspective : Reconstruction of sea levels over the past half-million years, based on Antarctic ice core records, implies that even if we were able to stop putting CO2 in the air today - and we're not - we are already committed to a sea level rise of about 25 meters (80 feet). This estimate agrees with predictions based on data from the Middle Pliocene, 3.5 million years ago when CO2 levels were at today's level. More is assuredly not going to be better.

Lacuna: Have you noticed that the words "fraud" and "swindle" are missing from the discussion, and that "Ponzi" only applies to non-governmental schemes?

Plan-o-gram: Oil and gas producers are cutting exploration and production budgets by 15% this year. Don't seek and ye shan't find, don't find and ye shan't produce, don't produce and the price goes to $150 again. That's a plan.

Marginalia: In counting the unemployed, those who are "involuntary part-time" workers and those who have given up looking for a job are the "marginally attached". There are about 3 million of them. At the start of this downturn there were 1.7 unemployed workers for every job, now there are 5.4. Now it looks like we'll have a jobless recovery. I'm unclear on how that's going to work.

Speculating on Speculation: If you buy a stock, you generally do so because you expect its value to increase. That's called investing. If you buy a commodity in the hopes that its value increases, that's called speculating. Bad dog, down!

Time Marches On: California is the seventh largest economy in the world. It is suffering more than the rest of the states - unemployment, housing, taxation shortfalls - or at least earlier. Its government is set to expire in about 10 days. Washington cannot bail them out because then the rest of the class would want a cookie, too. This is not a spectator sport.

Porn O'Graph: On the dole, on the rise...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

SAR #9174

Remember, the folks fixing the economy are the same ones
who solved the terrorist problem via the Patriot Act.

Takes One to Know One: Corporate insiders are selling their stock in their own companies at the fastest rate since the lat time the bottom fell out of the market two years ago. it's not a lagging indicator of anything. The World Bank agrees with them, time to run and hide.

Text: "If modern industrial civilization perishes, it will be because the steps necessary for its survival weren’t cost-effective enough." There, a do-it-yourself sermon.

Another Silly Love Song: "Inflation: Too Early to Worry?" Take a break. Most money is created by banks writing loans. Banks are not writing loans. Loans are being paid off and written off. The money that drove the boom is simply evaporating. That is a contraction - there is less money around. It leads to deflation. Quit running on and on about inflation.

Zebra, Stripes: The folks at Goldman Sachs may be pretty bright at finance; they suck at public relations.

Tell Me About the Rabbits: Over half of US companies expect to have fewer employees in 3 to 5 years than they did before the recession and plan on maintaining pay and benefit cuts. If companies are not going employ people nor pay them well, who the hell is going to buy the stuff they make?

Asked and Answered: "Is the housing bust killing consumption?" Yes, and with it the US economy.

Silly Headline: "Still Plenty of Cash on Sidelines". There is no such thing as money on the sidelines. When you pay me for stock, I give you stock and you give me money. Doesn't matter whether the market is going up or down or sideways. It's an even exchange. Think on it.

Interesting, Very Interesting: At least 4 million more Americans would be officially poor if their interest payments were deducted from their incomes. But wait, they are.

Not the QE2 or London Bridge: The toxic crap GE dumped into the Hudson River for generations is being dug up and shipped to West Texas. May improve both places.

Long Pig: At least some Neanderthals disappeared into Homo sapiens cookpots. The sturdy Neanderthals survived several ice ages in Europe before modern humans arrived from Goldman Sachs about 30,000 years ago.

Told You So: "Raising cap on social security tax best way to fix shortfall."

Madness of Crowds: Nissan is joining the rush to make money making electric cars to sell to Americans who don't understand that 80% of electricity is fossil fuel - coal, gas and fuel oil.

Sure Things: (1) The sun will rise tomorrow. (2) The race to exploit resources in the Arctic will result in clashes between global powers.

Daniel Steel 101: For $6,000 you can have a course at San Francisco City College named for you or for your dog or for your favorite author.

Practice Runs: Homeland Security hopes to try out its plans to round up and imprison large numbers of Americans under the guise of public health quarantines related to the swine flu outbreak.

Porn O'Graph: In debt they trust.

Monday, June 22, 2009

SAR #9173

Whoever's left standing tells the story.

Democracy In Action: Over 70% of Americans want a government-administered healthcare plan. Over 70% of Congressmen have been paid to ignore the wishes of the voters, pleading a lack of money. Once again American democracy in action is a wonderful thing to behold.

Paindemic: Health authorities in the UK warn that perhaps half the population could come down with swine flu by the end of the year, including 40$% of the workforce. Of course, due to the economic downturn, only 40% of the workforce is working....

Good Old Days: The onrushing wave of Option ARM foreclosures will arrive over the next couple of years. With an Option ARM the borrower can pay less than the full monthly payment and tack the unpaid amount onto the balance of the loan. Thus as the houses have been getting less valuable, the mortage balance has been increasing. Sooner or later the payments revert to "amortizing", which means coughing up enough to pay off the loan - and the interest rate resets, too. It will make subprime crash look like the good old days.

Record? Is the incestuous US intelligence-military-industrial-political thievery the longest running con job in history? What have they actually done for all that money since August 1945?

Wish I'd Said: "If the best climate scientists are frightened, we should be too. And we should be appalled and angry at the big corporate polluters and pro-business governments who continue to wreck the planet for profit."

A 'Just So' Story: Leaders of the EU see green shoots and say no more stimulus need be applied. Nice to know that the worst recession since WWII has been defeated without wasting a single euro.

Some Doctor, Some Cure: Growing numbers of scientists and scholars fear that government actions to slow global warming will be far to weak and far to late to be of value, which is sad and scary. But the absence of sensible action now may lead to trying desperate engineering fixes later, which is outright frightening.

Orwellian: Some Texas pigs are more equal than others, it's a blessing.

Can You Spell Reichstag? Two months before Bush invaded Iraq, he and Blair resolved to go to war, even if they had to stage an event to supply the "cause." They also supplied history with a memo outlining this decision.

Send in the Clowns: To get a job in Boseman, MT, you have to give the city all your screen names and passwords. In Brooksville, FL you have to wear deodorant and underwear. But you can't show off you underwear unless someone thinks you aren't wearing any.

Eyes Wide Open: EU leaders have been warned about sleepwalking into another gas crisis - one shich could arise within a few weeks as tensions between Russia and Ukraine grow. Much better to walk into it wide awake, to fully appreciate the experience. Note, Mexico's oil output is down 7.9% ytd, and its exports are down 15% y/y.

Miracle Cure? Mayo Clinic doctors report dramatic results in the human trials of a prostrate cancer drug. Sounds too good to be true, but here's hoping.

Take a Note: Veteran oil banker Matt Simmons says delays in new production will leave the industry unable to increase global oil supplies fast enough to keep up with demand from a reviving economy, resulting in $200 a barrel oil in 2010.

Porn O'Graph: Tea's not the only thing in demand in China.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

SAAR #9171/Weekender

All facts are relative.

The Joke's on Us : Obama's Justice Department want a judge to stop Stewart, Colbert, and the rest to stop making fun of Darth - for fear that "future presidents and vice presidents may not cooperate with criminal investigations if they know what they say could become available to their political opponents and late-night comics."

The Shipping News: You know the old saying, if FedEx is losing money, the economy is in bad shape. Don't look now, but...

One Strike Rule: The US Supreme Court ruled that you have a right to a trial, fair or otherwise. But don't expect to be sprung just because DNA testing proves you didn't do it. You have a right to a trial, but not to a second chance.

Good News / Bad News: The CIA will soon release a comprehensive report on its use of secret prisons and torture. Most of it will be redacted.

Misleading Headline: The headline reads: ' Dems could lose healthcare fight.' Absolutely not true. The Dems, both House and Senate will make out like bandits; it's the American citizen who is going to lose. Reform attempts will fail, dollars to docility.

Close, but... : Senator Burris (D-Ill) will not be charged with perjury even though he lied - it was a lie of omission and that doesn't count.

Attention Spam: Investing really is simple. Listen to the talking heads on CNBC, ignore the fundamentals like earnings and profits, and buy whatever everyone else is. Just make sure you're the first one out, before the fools get stuck. Psst: Green energy. A sure thing.

Indirection: Some fear the government will cap executive pay. It says it will not - but it wants to...

Suddenly: Some 200 million-year-old Fossils have revealed that a small rise in atmospheric CO2 lead to a sudden collapse in the web of life some 200 million years ago. It seems the increase in atmospheric CO2 needed to drive the ecosystem beyond its tipping point is smaller than previously thought. Today, the level of CO2 has reached a 2 million-year high.

Kudos: To Martin Weiss for his explication of the continuing credit collapse in the US, credit where credit is due.

Revenge: The very skinny are the first to go, then the obese, followed by those of ideal weight. The chubby live on and on. At least in Japan.

Asked and Answered: "Is Advertising a Sham?" No, but free will is over-rated.

Friday, June 19, 2009

SAR #9170

From rugged individualism to obese complacency
in less than 50 years.

Reconcilliation: So the battered wife - that's us - is going to let the abusing husband - that's the Fed - back in the house. He's promised to reform. He may try, but his drinking buddies on Wall Street still have far too much influence over him. It's only a matter of time before he falls off the wagon and begins slapping us around again.

Another BRIC from the Wall: Russia and China have agreed to expand the use of their own currencies in bilateral trade. Is this the beginning of the end for the dollar as a reserve currency and if so what's the understudy?

Yes, But : Unemployment has turned the corner, giving strong indications that the end of the contraction is near. The worst, they claim, is behind us. Maybe so, but over 600,000 Americans filed for unemployment this week, and the U-3 rate will be well over 10% by the end of the year. As a result, consumer demand will remain puny. But not to worry, consumer spending makes up only 70% of the economy....

Erection Correction: A 35-40% decline in commercial real estate values is seen over the next few months.

Objects in the Windshield are Closer than You Think: Those party-pooping scientists are back at it: The world, they say, faces "abrupt and irreversible climatic shifts" as global warming's effects will arrive sooner than expected.

Qualification: Indian PM Manmohan Singh, commenting on the BRIC meeting in Yekaterinburg, said that replacing the dollar as the global reserve currency would be a highly complex undertaking. He did not say it was impossible.

Flipping Houses: In the last 2 years HUD has acquired about 110,000 foreclosed houses and paid various lenders $12 billion. It has turned around and sold most of them at a $6.7 billion (55%) loss. HUD has about 38,000 houses currently for sale; make an offer.

Just Asking: How does "more of the same" qualify as a reform?

Short Term Memory Loss: Less than a year after $4 gasoline killed SUVs, they're back. Not only are they back, they're selling at sticker prices because of the production cuts last year. Used truck and SUV trade-in values have returned to last year's highs, too. Meanwhile, warning of the return $100 a barrel oil are blissfully ignored.

Long & Short: "Fed Buying Treasuries; China Selling Treasuries."

One Trick Herd: Wall Street's so proud of itself for conning the taxpayer into covering their losses that they're ready to bring back outrageous bonuses. It'll be fun to watch the peasants gather around the bonfires....

The Old Folks At Home: Some claim the US has to raise the retirement age further and further and scrimp on health care, too. Put the oldsters back in the workforce. Great, just what the economy needs over the next few years - lots and lots of old farts competing for jobs as greeters. That'll solve everything. I thought old people like me were supposed to spend our assetts and consume, consume consume. It's a full time job.

Taxing Problems: State income-tax revenues have fallen 26% in the first 4 months of 2009 over 2008. The pain is widespread. But what went on in Alabama, North Dakota and Utah?

Old Hat: The herd is coming around to Shiller's point of view - at least the rational ones.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SAR #9169

We mortgaged our future, and it's already here.

Straws: Obama is blocking access to the names of those visiting the White House, funding for two unnecessary wars continues, along with bailouts for Wall Street. Torture continues while damning pictures are suppressed, investigation of war criminals is blocked, single-payer isn't mentioned... this is where I came in.

Another Elephant Wanders In: While hyperinflation may lurk a couple of years down the road, that last curve was the largest drop in the CPI in 60 years - down 1.8%.

Pay Twice As Much! An $8,000 gift to first-time buyers wasn't working, so now there's a proposal to give anyone and everyone $15,000 to buy a house. The money will come from contributions made by those who already own their own house, happily rent or are already drowning in overpayments on a house that's already lost 27% of its value. Not really 'contributions' but taxes to force you to buy your neighbor a house. Congratulations.
Quantative Easing: The Fed was in the market today, propping up the price of Treasuries, trying to hold down the interest rates for mortgages. It's known as printing money.

Don't Let the Door: In February, Kyrgyzstan told the US it had 6 months to close up shop at Manas airbase. Uncle Sam chuckled and shook the purse. Russia upped the ante to $2.15 billion in aid and the US has started packing up in order to be gone by mid-August. The base was used as a transit point for thousands of US troops and hundreds of tons of cargo monthly to and from Afghanistan.

Ultimate Sales: Eddie Bauer is having two 'ultimate' sales - one for the leftover summer stuff, the other of the bankrupt company. Half-off.

Hand Wash: The Mortgage Bankers Association reports that mortgage applications fell 15.8% to its lowest level since last November as long term interest rates trend higher. This is preliminary data; positive spin will be applied later by the Realtors.

The End Is Near: Mexico's Cantarell oil field, which produced over 2 mbd in 2004, is now producing 700,000 barrels a day. The yield is falling at an annualized rate of 35%.

Wing-nut Alert: This fall, under the pretense of inoculating schoolchildren against the mythical swine flu, the government will be putting mind control chemicals into the vital fluids of our young. Or, because kids seem to be more likely to die from swine flu than older folks, maybe the government is trying to help the people. Either way, suspicions are in order.

Definition: Terrorism, low-level: Public assemblies that protest governmental actions, or teach others how to peaceably assemble to petition the government for the redress of wrongs.

The 7% Solution: Over 80% of terror groups vanquished in the last 40 years fell to political and policing actions. Less than 7% were resolved by the use of military force. Back in 1963 Pentagon offices sprouted signs reading 'Vietnam - it's the only war we've got.' The same Praetorians are still seeking perpetual employment.

Smoking Gun: Scientists have found that - after all the complex interactions between emissions, carbon sinks, atmospheric concentrations and so on - each emission of CO2 results in the same global temperature increase, regardless of when or over what period of time the emission occurs. One ton of CO2 leads to 0.0000000000015ºC of global temperature increase. Simple math, they say, indicates we can emit a half trillion more tons of CO2. Then we have to stop, pretty much forever.

The Forty Theses: Stoneleigh's stance - the future's not what it used to be.

Nose/Face: Central European countries are being urged to reject Russian natural gas rather than put subject themselves to Russian blackmail over energy supplies. Voluntarily freeze so the Russians can threaten you with the possibility of freezing.

Impartial Advice: The CIA is advising the White House to suppress information about who they tortured, how, when and where. They claim that if the public knew what they were up to, they couldn't be up to it any more.

Codeword Material: Seems NSA's PINWHALE (a relative of the ECHELON, MANICORE, NARUS, KLEIN and TICE eavesdropping programs) has been intercepting a lot more Americans' telephone calls, emails and internet usage than they've had warrants for. These actions have been characterized as being too flagrant to be accidental. So? The innocent have nothing to fear...

Porn O'Graph: Like Father, Like Son.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

SAR #9168

Once the first window is broken, all bets are off.

Good Choice: The first Chrysler plant to re-open following the bankruptcy filing builds the $90,000 Dodge Viper. They plan to make it up on volume.

More Shoots: US industrial utilization is now at 68% of capacity. Housing starts are down 45% y/y.

It's in the Air: British Airways sent an email appeal to its 30,000 workers asking them to either take a month's unpaid leave, or work for a month without pay. Air India is deferring salary payments for its 31,000 employees because they haven't got the money. And the price of jet fuel has jumped 22% in the last month. It's going to be a bumpy flight.

Practice Run: The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China gathered to discuss ways to reduce their reliance on the US dollar. No concrete steps were taken, but their communique reflected their commitment "to advance the reform of international financial institutions, so as to reflect changes in the world economy." The natives are getting restless.

"Other Savings" : Following California in downsizing civilization, Minnesota is cutting aid to cities and towns, eviscerating health and human services programs, de-funding higher education and putting off paying for local schools.

Non-Sequitur: Mexican President Felipe Calderón says Mexico "will recover the position of leadership Mexico is entitled to in the world as a petroleum power." Cue the mariachis.

Circulation: Multi-millionaire Angelo 'Countrywide' Mozilo is defending himself against fraud, theft and similar charges using lawyers paid for by Bank of America, which means that taxpayer dollars given to BofA to relieve problems caused mostly by Mozilo's depredations are being used to defend Mozilo from those very same taxpayers.

Planning Ahead: Plans are being made to move Britain's coastal castles inland to avoid sea level rises caused by global warming.

Crop Poorcast: The 2009 US & Canadian wheat crops are forecast to be 20% below 2008 - and that's if Canada's weather improves - it's been extremely dry and cold this past winter and spring.

It's A Deal: Something is better than nothing. That's the motto that's being adopted by credit card companies. Owe them $12,000 ? 60 days late? Offer them half, they've been known to take it.

Play By Play: The Congress is balking at giving another $108 billion to the IMF so it can help Eastern European countries prop up their exchange rates with the euro, so they can keep paying back the Western European banks that made enormous and egregious loans to Eastern Europe. France and Germany could bail out their own banks directly, but their citizens still take part in the political process, so it's up the the US taxpayer.

Another Question to Ponder: What limits the size of birds?

Now and Then: California is imposing a 90-day moratorium on house foreclosures. The idea is that either lenders will learn to accept less or homeowners will decide to forgo eating and pay their mortgages. neither seems overly likely.

Unbiased View: Elon Musk says that gasoline "should probably cost $10" a gallon. Mr. Musk is the founder of Tesla Motors, which makes all-electric cars.

Job Action: Competition between tribes for jobs at the US/NATO airbase at Shindand, Afghanistan lead to one tribe telling US intelligence that the other guys were Taliban. So US Special Forces and their air support killed 91 civilians and no Taliban, settling the job dispute. A similar process accounts for most of the folks at Bagram Prison and Guantanamo.

Ubiquity: Scientists report that the GBLT movement has spread to the animal kingdom, with same-sex behavior seen in nearly all animals, from worms to frogs to birds.

Go Fish! The White House has told California to tough it out a little longer. If they're really good maybe Santa will have some leftovers.

Stopped Clocks: Robert Prechter, known for predicting the 1987 stock market fall, is predicting that by the end of the year the S&P will fall well below the 666 reached in March. He also expects credit markets to freeze up again and for the US to plunge into a depression. Nobody believed him in 1987, either.

Good News/Bad News: ConocoPhillips' CEO claims it will take a century to replace fossil fuels with energy from renewable sources. Unfortunately we only have about 30 years.