When the population grows faster than the pie, the pieces get smaller.
Your Wagon The Tape: After being down to the 9800's, the Dow 'bounced back' in the last hour of trading to head into the weekend with a small gain. Gold did the same. Conspiracy theorists need not apply.
Up, Down, All Around: A confusing BLS January unemployment & jobs report came out Friday. Employment was down, but so was unemployment (chart here) . Don't worry, the confusion comes from combining a survey of employers and a survey of households. Takeaways: 14.8 million are unemployed. Those who have not taken home a paycheck in over 27 weeks increased to 6.3 million (the average unemployed worker has been unemployed for 30.2 weeks). Officially, 1.1 million are not counted because they are “discouraged”. and that doesn't count the ones that have given up . The drop in unemployment was not because they found a job, but because they outlived their unemployment benefits. T here were no peasants in the street with pitchforks, so the Dow went up.
Hero-ism: Ollie North, famous FOX personality previously famous for breaking a bunch of laws for Reagan, claims that allowing gays to serve in the military is a prelude to letting pedophiles in. What the connection might be between homosexuality and pedophilia is unclear, but then that's FOX. Ollie also supports Uganda's law that says if you know someone is gay and don't turn them in, you can be executed. Of course your gay friend gets executed first.
Contra-dancing: Trim-Tabs, which gets its data from withholding tax filings, says the US lost 104,000 jobs in January – not the BLS' 20,000. The tax data has consistently pointed to a weak job market, while the BLS has reported steadily improving employment conditions. Who you gonna believe, tax data or a bunch of folks on the phone?
Place Your Bets: Over 7 million mortgagees are behind on their payments. How many more foreclosures are coming?
Strict Diet: Consumer debt fell for the 11th consecutive month in December. While non-revolving debt rose 5.2% (for stuff like cars, tuition and mobile homes), revolving debt fell 11% after falling 18% in November (and that's credit cards and store revolving accounts). They didn't “just charge it” for Christmas.
Report Card: Germany reports that its CO2 emissions have fallen 22% since 1990, meeting their Kyoto Treaty goals. Good for them.
Consider: Countries with more ethnic diversity generally spend less on social programs. In the US, States with more African-Americans were significantly less generous to their welfare recipients. The fairness of the economic system depends on (a) the fairness of the political system, (b) how much you look like me, and (c) the definition of what is 'fair'
For Protection Only: The US is working on a “Prompt Global Strike” system that will let the US carry out a massive strike with conventional weaponry, anywhere in the world, in less than an hour. I'm sure that Russia and China will admire our cleverness.
Dominoes: A contest has sprung up between the forces of reason and government deficit spending. The concern for possible sovereign debt defaults in Greece , Portugal and Spain has put enough pressure on the Euro to cause the Swiss to devalue its franc to keep pace. Greece's salvation, if there is to be one, will be to swallow draconian terms from the IMF, or similar draconian terms from the EU. Portugal's problems are complicated by a restive parliament which will not go along with the government in any solution. This all could lead to a dissolution of the southern half of the EU and the death of the Euro.
Reruns: A Euro Market collapse would be as bad as Lehman's collapse, but this time no government will have the resources left to repeat the massive bailouts. The Euro most certainly faces further devaluation, even if they bail out the most errant of the PIGS.
On File: The government requires all newborns to be screened for genetic diseases – often without parental knowledge. While it is invasive and paternalistic, the argument is that the state has “an overriding interest in protecting these babies.” Once the government has the little tyke's DNA, it's not letting go.
Being Prepared: The FBI wants ISP's to maintain a history of every website visited by every one of their customers, forever. Just in case. Why don't they just ask Google?