The stock market has become a lagging indicator.
Onward: Obama must be doing something right, but what? Wall Street has come to loathe him, the progressives have discovered he's not one of them. His continuing efforts towards bipartisanship - to the point of endorsing his opponents’ world-view - will buy him nothing.
Bottoms: The sale of new houses fell in December 7.6% m/m and 8.6% y/y. For the year, new house sales dropped 22.9% from 2008. Mortgage loan volume dropped by 11% last week and, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, “Although rates remain low, there appears to be a smaller pool of borrowers who are willing and able to refinance at today’s rates.” Smart, too: Fannie Mae expects house prices to drop further, and other experts expect the housing market to take a decade or more for homeowners to regain equity in their homes and some regions will not see a recovery of equity “in their lifetimes”.
Steel Yourself: The San Francisco Bay Bridge is being rebuilt using a series of 300 foot, 6900 ton steel sections made in China. Hmm.
Nothing to Sneeze At: Ukrainian Black Lung disease – a mutant version of the H1N1 virus – is spreading through Eastern Europe. Over 1,000 Ukrainians have died and over 250,000 hospitalized. No, you didn't hear about via the USA's mainstream media. W hy would you, bunch of foreigners dying in non-photogenic ways...
Assignment: Warm up the coffee, shut the office door, sacrifice 8 straight minutes and listen to Elizabeth Warren explain the future of the middle class . Just do it. We'll be here when you get back.
Connections: Cars, solar panels, wind turbines, high-efficiency lights, automobiles, car batteries together use tens of thousands of tons of rare earths every year. As we transition to 'greener' technologies, even more will be needed. Today China is the primary source (97%) for the rare earths. China says it will stop exporting the ores in 2012. Sure there are deposits elsewhere – but it will take until 2020 to bring these new mines into production. Yet another reason to delay abandoning fossil fuels, another reason to let old-energy corporations profit while blocking development of alternative energy, which – thanks to the recent Supreme Corp ruling – they will easily be able to do.
Something Else: China is gobbling up all the oil. Chinese real estate is a huge bubble. And now, the Chinese middle class has discovered credit cards! And why not? Credit cards offer a quick shortcut to a better standard of living. Shhh. They don't know about fees, penalties and how soon their banks will trap them in capitalistic debt slavery.
Tea Leaves: Having squeezed all the hokum possible out of Brown's elevation to the second coming, let's now turn to Oregon where voters chose to raise taxes on corporations and the rich rather than gut public schools and kick the needy into the healthcare gutter. Should this be read as a national repudiation of everything the GOP stands for? Should the elephant interpret this as a clear signal about the economic policies Americans favor? Nope, for it is obvious that while the eastern liberals who voted Republican have seen the light, the western conservatives who voted against the Republican's wishes to abolish taxes, public services and pretty much the government, were committing suicide.
Rumsfeld Redux? The Defense Science Board has recommended that the Defense Department create an “Office of Strategic Deception” designed to deceive US adversaries. Of course in the world of Twitter and Facebook and cellphones, they would have to deceive the American public, too, but that would be unavoidable collateral damage.
Porn O'Graph: What's Good For
GM The Pentagon...