Tuesday, January 19, 2010

SAR #10019

Act normal.

According To Plan: Taliban fighters have executed a well-planned attack in the heart of Kabul, setting off multiple explosions and engaging in a 5 hour fire-fight in the one piece of real estate in the country that was thought secure.  US pro-consul Richard Holbrooke claimed the attack showed that the Taliban “are desperate people, they are ruthless."

Nightmare:  The recurring dream that keeps Wall street awake is the fear that the public will stop believing they are morally obligated to struggle hopelessly to pay off a mortgage and discover that, at least to bankers, finance and morality are complete strangers.  Like the paradox of thrift (saving is good for the individual and bad for the economy) walking away makes sense until everybody does it.

Lost in Translation: Would someone please explain to the Chinese that the phrase is “Buy American” not “Buy America”.

More is Less: For the long term unemployed, the longer you are unemployed, the less likely it is you will ever be employed.  It is nearly certain you will never regain a position or pay as good as you had before you got lost in Wall Street's recovery.  Today, 40% of the unemployed still counted by the BLS have been unemployed for over two years.  And this is an understatement of the actual state of the American underclass.

Water is Wet:  “Notice that large increases in oil prices have frequently been followed by recessions.”

Stirred, Not Shaken:  The denial-sphere is all agog over a 'news' item headlined “World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown”, which pointed out that the IPCC's 2007 report was based on data no newer than 2005 and mistakenly said the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.  It also said that sea level rise would be less than 2 feet this century.  Both are incorrect, as were several other IPCC's statements – but 99+% of these errors downplayed the effects and speed of global climate change.  Denialists never mention these.  The concern isn't that the glaciers may be gone by 2035, but that if we do not stop and reverse our CO2 and black soot emissions now, by 2035 their disappearance will have become irreversible.

Screw, Turn Of: The US is bullying Pakistan to walk away from its agreement with Iran to buy 750 mcf of natural gas per day as part of a 25 year deal to build a 1,700 mile pipeline from Iran's South Pars field.  The US promises to find an equivalent amount of LNG for the energy starved Pakistanis.  And the check's in the mail.

Roosting:  FHA insurance allowed buyers to put down just 3.5% of the purchase price (and let the sellers give them that, if the government's $8,000 wasn't enough).  Lenders issued loans to buyers with poor credit and allowed sellers to help fund down payments in exchange for higher home prices, because the FHA was insuring the loans.  Now 1 out of every 6 of those borrowers is behind on their payments.  Guess who gets to make up their missed payments?

Blaming the Government:  The main problem with trying to blame the current recession/depression on the government is that it really wasn't their fault. Not entirely.  Not even mostly.  The government doesn't have that much power.  Human beings behaving like human beings – greedy and careless and either coldly indifferent or blissfully ignorant of the consequences of their actions – are the Usual Suspects.  Again.


Anonymous said...

@Blaming the Government:
Well, afterall they are the grandchildren of Keynes. They were raised to see foul as fair and fair as foul, so what's the surprise?

Anonymous said...

Nightmare: Perhaps if we were to go the road of Principal Reduction we could, in tandem, eliminate the tax deductibility of home ownership. Namely, interest payment & property tax deductions.

Anonymous said...

Stirred, Not Shaken:

So now it's irreversible by 2035. Geez...

From the AP in 2008:

"They predict Arctic waters could be ice-free in summers, perhaps by 2013, decades earlier than they thought only a few years ago."

Arrrg... Moving goal posts all around this issue.