Monday, March 15, 2010

SAR #10074

Democracy – a feel-good fantasy; see also ‘Voting’.

Ticked Off:  Last week the CNBC market booster crowd was all enthused that the recession was over and customers were back in the stores – driving retail sales up at the fastest rate in 3 years.  February sales were 'up' because January's were even worse than first reported, half the gain was due to increases in the price of gasoline, and the government had dumped over $15 billion in tax credit money into the hands of the poor and destitute. Some up-tick.

Asked and Answered:  Did the Democrats ever support the public option?  Ignore the rhetoric, just look at their actions – or lack thereof.

Not Strictly True"  Turns out that the heroic NATO troops (well, Americans and a few Afghanis) who reported engaging in a firefight during a night raid last month in eastern Afghanistan were actually engaging in a bit of fibbing.  Commanders have now characterized the initial reports as “not strictly true” - like so much else from them, there.  The bound and gagged corpses of women and children were the first clue that mistakes had been made.  Again.

Inertia:  Why do stocks go up?  Chose one:  A) People like it that way. B) Greed.  C) Hope over experience.  D) All of the above.

Unseasoned Data:  Out-bound container traffic at LA and Long Beach is up 33% from last year, but still down 10% from pre-crash days.  Inbound is also up, but on a quarter to quarter basis only 10% or so and still down nearly 20% from pre-crash numbers.  Raw data, not seasonally manipulated.

Customer Satisfaction:  Patients used to expect a doctor to write a prescription for whatever symptoms brought them to the office.  Doctors generally obliged.  Now they expect tests and scans.  Doctors oblige. A placebo is a placebo, only the cost changes.

Another Thing:  Accuweather says the 2010 hurricane season will be a doozie.  Hope that’s just a lot of hot air.

Rules To Ponder:  Long term trends tend to be long term trends. Deviations from long term trends tend to revert to the norm.  For example, the long term trend of the US debt to GDP ratio forms a slow, gradual upward slope.  There have been two severe departures from this line, one in the late 1920's and today’s which is more than double that one.  The 1920's deviation was followed by the Great Depression. 

He Said:  “Republicans believe a majority vote is appropriate only when Republicans are in the majority.”

Once More, With Feeling:  Perpetual optimist Daniel Yergin, Cambridge Energy Research Associates – a consultancy pandering to Big Oil – says that there is not a shortage of oil, the world is awash with crude, and that prices will not rise over the next few years.  Yergin did not repeat his 2004 guarantee that oil prices for the next six years (2004 – 2010 back then) will average $38 a barrel.  Oil actually averaged $72 a barrel over that period. Obviously, being repeatedly wrong does not hinder a successful career as a shill for the oil industry  oil industry expert.

Can't Win #452:   Reducing the pollutants in the air will make ever greater cuts in CO2 emissions are necessary – less pollution allows more solar radiation through the atmosphere to get trapped... Doing good means you have to do even more good, rather like feeding the hungry.

Verities:  If they can't raise the cash or get credit, people can't be customers.  The US economy runs on optimism.  Eventually debt has to be repaid.  GDP growth is not always a good thing (think higher spending on health care).  The only thing American companies are doing with their near-$1 trillion in cash is buying other companies and buying back stock. Neither act makes any new job.  A tax cut on corporations now would only give them more money they would not use to expand employment.

Porn O'GraphDon't worry, it's insured.


Rolandovich said...

Recommended Reading: Russia 2010. (published 15 years ago) Yergin.

CKMichaelson said...

Rolandovich - Why? Yergin & Gustafson's supposed "insider" review ends up predicting four different possible futures - and having the reborn KGB running a dictatorial fossil-fuel based crony capitalist state wasn't one of them. It was nice to see Yergin being less than absolute, but it didn't improve his accuracy.

Prediction is difficult, especially - as Yogi taught - about the future.

Anonymous said...


I have read that placebo effect can reach 50%. So, where is America's Underground Health Economy? We have Underground Landscaping, Home Renovation, Moonshine, Accounting, etc. but where is the Health? With placebo, an Underground Doc in a nice white suit at 50% placebo need not be trained medically (Big Pharma Style) but just put on a good ole Doc act a la Marcus Welby or Kildare. 50% ain't bad at the price.

And where are those underground Dentists? Most Dentistry is just basic micro auto body fill. Instructions: find cavity, drill out hole, clean, dry fill. Anesthetize if necessary. Good luck.

Beneficial Side Effect: when the Medical Profession (strong labor union) starts screaming about lost market share, they will be more interested in "change".

TulsaTime said...

My favorite part of the article about the 'firefight' was at the very end. The NATO spokesperson says you don't have to be fired on to fire back. Really? Nice to know that some of those soldier types equate shouting and shooting. Gonna make for a rough home coming if they don't unlearn that one quick.