…until the whole thing crashes.
Deus Ex Machina: It is not just the Greeks who played sophisticated finance games with CDS – think Spain, Portugal and others - and it is not just German Landesbanks – insert the names of several big European banks here - that bought them. But one thing common to all of these transactions is that someone must have insured these risks. A lot of people suspect that that 'someone' was AIG and that now the US taxpayer (who owns AIG, despite the executive bonuses) will have to make good on both the banks' bets and the sovereign debts. Will the US bail out Greece? Yes, it will have to.
Get Shorty: About 16% of January house sales were 'short sales', Move-in Ready REO and damaged REO houses accounted for 13% of sales each. A few non-distressed, non-foreclosed houses were also sold.
Coup de Coup d'état: Turkey's Islamist-leaning government has arrested 21 generals and admirals in connection with a 2003 plot to overthrow the government. The Turkish military - which sees itself as the protector of the democracy Ataturk founded, has regularly overthrown governments it viewed as blurring the line between mosque and state. The seven year delay and the government's hazy explanation of the plot suggest that Prmie Minister Erdogan's government may be reacting to something other than the stillborn 2003 plot.
Speculating: Back in 2008 when oil went up, up, up, the allegation was that speculators had driven the prices up. But now, with the world's economies in the tank, oil is still $80 a barrel. Maybe the rise in oil prices had something to do with supply fundamentals. Maybe the same 'supply fundamentals' will drive the price up once again if we ever get to a recovery.
Details, Details: Obama has announced the US will throw another $1.5 billion at “out-of-work home owners to prevent preventable foreclosures." Details are so far scant, but the money will be aimed at those states where
Democrats are facing tough elections foreclosures have been exceptionally high.
Shin Bone Connected To The... As unemployment rises, sales of sausage biscuits and eggy tacos fall. If you're not driving to work, you don't drive by the drive in.
About Wishes: The Ohio Coal Association and the State of Texas want to take the EPA to court, alleging that CO2 and the global climate change it causes are not harmful to humans. Did they think this through? Isn't this just the briar patch Dr. Hansen and his fellow scientists desire: A public and impartial court looking at the evidence, instead of a group of PR lackeys manipulating public opinion?
Them That Know, Sell: US insiders continue to be heavy sellers of their companies' stocks. The same is true in Hong Kong. How long before the votes are counted?
Big Boys Don't Cry: John McCain has finally figured out that Paulson and Benanke lied when they said the $700 billion TARP was going to focus on the housing crisis. The TARP IG says Paulson told some other fibs about the “too big to fail banks” and some members of congress say the Bush administration warned it would impose martial law if TARP wasn’t passed.
Proverb: Reform doesn't come from bipartisanship.
911, What Credit Card Will You Be Using? In Tracy, CA, the first thing the 911 operator wants to know is your 911 account number (a $48 annual fee lets you have unlimited medical emergency calls) or how you are going to pay the $300 fee it takes to get the emergency service on a one-time basis.
Multiple Choice: The United States, the world’s largest economy and is no longer a viable economic player. (a) True. (b) False. (c) Shhh, you're not allowed to think that!
Calling Up the Reserves: Ambac, MBIA Inc. and Assured Guaranty, the three largest insurers of state and local government bonds, have set aside $520 million to pay claims on securities that government budgets can no longer pay. That is four one-hundredths of one percent of the total amount insured. Are you feeling lucky?
Porn O'Graph: What do you suspect happens in a country that depends on credit when banks do not extend credit?