Monday, April 12, 2010

SAR #10102

Too much jargon is bad for you.

Wait A Minute:  In a new round of 'let's pretend', Europe has pledged 30 billion Euros to save the Greeks from themselves and the Greeks have pledged to...  There's the problem.  Buying a new bucket doesn't fix the leak.

Force Majeure:  Charged with decades of blatant manipulation of the price of gold and silver, JPMorgan (among others) defense is that they were doing so for and at the behest of the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury, and thus as agents of the government are immune from prosecution.

Belly Button:  Pundits in the US keep looking at our driving habits and saying that because we aren't driving as much as previously (by a few percent), the upward rush of petroleum prices must be due to speculators. A 60% y/y increase in auto sales in China has noting to do with it, and China's 29% y/y increase in petroleum imports goes unmentioned.  Another bunch runs around wondering if the increasing price of oil will harm the US economy.  It always has.  Ten of the 11 post-war recessions in the US have been preceded by a sharp increase in the price of crude petroleum.

Spade is Spade:  Professor Shiller looks at today's housing inventory overhang, wonders where the positive outlooks come from, and concludes that wishful thinking is not a sufficient basis for optimism.  He also thinks the stock market is 30% overvalued. Spoil sport.

It's A Drag:  One effect of Bernanke's near-zero interest rates has been to keep the Treasury's cost of financing the debt at record lows.  But the economy is beginning to recover and many of the Fed's governors think it is time to start increasing interest rates.  But that may well a) choke off the nascent recovery b) further cripple the housing sector, putting more drag on the economy, and c) increase the cost of carrying the immense US debt load, which will put even more drag on the recovery.

Firstest with the Mostest:  The US must borrow over a trillion dollars a year for the foreseeable future.  Most of the world needs record amounts. Plus states and cities and public utilities.  How high will the premium – the interest rate – have to be to raise this money?  Morgan Stanley thinks US Treasuries will reach 5.5% this year.  How will all this borrowing ever be paid back?  Never mind.  Today we'll worry about getting the loan.  Future rounds of money printing will surely promise great inflation in the years to come.  Endless deficits of this magnitude do have serious consequences. Let's hope tomorrow never comes.

Words of One Syllable: Twitch, while addressing the Southern Republican Leadership Conference – which was far more Southern than Republican and had far more followers than leaders – made it as clear as possible: America does not need “this snake oil science stuff.”  Which explains oh so many things.

Gambling at Rick's:  The financial press is shocked to discover that the major banks repeatedly used accounting tricks and fake sales to dress up their reports and make themselves look solvent when they weren't.  Curious that these manipulations are all referred to in the past tense.

Light, Dawning:  Why does it take something like the gratuitous violence shown in the Wikileaks film to remind us that “War is mass murder”? Mainly, I suspect, because unless our noses are rubbed into the violence done in our name, we pretend it doesn't happen.  But secretly we know it does, and are ashamed.

Mother Hubbard:  More than 30 states have spent their unemployment benefit budgets and must borrow billions from Washington to keep supporting those millions upon millions of unemployed Americans.  Expect more GOP nonsense.

Guilty Knowledge: Col Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff at State, says that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld knew that the majority of the initial 742 individuals incarcerated at Guantánamo were innocent, but thought it was “politically impossible to release them” without derailing the rush to war in Iraq.  Powell appears to concur with Wilkerson's appraisal.


Anonymous said...

RE: Guilty Knowledge

I'm just so glad that Obama has closed Gitmo, brought all our troops home from Iraq and is in the process of winding down our involvement in Afghanistan. Wait... he hasn't done all that?


CKMichaelson said...

RBM - And yet again two wrongs make a wrong, not to change the subject?