Victim: A priest, politician, or banker who got caught.
Go Away, Kid, Y'Bother Me: On principle, the big banks, sitting on 11 million underwater mortgages worth nearly a trillion dollars, do not like the idea of giving Joe Public a break on the principal he owes. Cut the balance for a few and everyone will have their hand out, lined up like Wall Street banks begging for bucks from Washington.
Late Comers: The International Energy Agency has finally made it to the supply/demand garden party, declaring that - despite the Great Recession – oil consumption in 2010 will be a record 86.6 mbd, besting the previous (2007) record of 86.5 mbd. The agency also said that rising oil prices would stall economic recovery in the developed world and questioned “the sustainability of prices higher” than $80 a barrel. It also worried that “Capacity constraints, both in production and refining, have increased the potential of supply falling short of demand. Given this delicate balance of supply and demand, even a disruption of relatively small volume can have a significant impact on the market.” All that and never once mentioning Peak Oil.
Diplomacy: Morgan Stanley put out a note commenting on the distance between the market and reality. “Complacent” was the nicest thing they said.
Self-Hoisting Petard: Rush Limbaugh asked “Was there no union responsibility for improving mine safety? Where was the union here? Where was the union?” First, the question implies that worker safety is not a management concern. Second, there was no union, Rush, because after 70% of the miners signed union cards, Massey Energy told them that if they voted for a union, the mine would be shut.
On Killing Various Civilians: The Defense Department's cut of your tax dollar is a little over half; are you getting your money's worth?
Buck Rogers: Scientists at MIT report a breakthrough in their attempts to replicate photosynthesis. The hope is to manufacture energy from water using only sunlight as an energy source. GE's Appliances and Lighting division has announced a 9-watt LED with a light output of a 40 watt incandescent. God bless them all – because we do need “this snake oil science stuff.”
Defined: The nation runs on credit, which is actually debt. And debt is simply a marker placed on tomorrows income, tomorrow's work. But “debt” is just a shorthand way of keeping track of how many of your tomorrows are no longer yours.
Unmentionables: Quietly, so as not to interrupt the giddiness in the markets, consider these points: Earnings, even with the new fast-and-loose accounting rules, are pitiful. Housing customer traffic is dead. Eleven million Americans are unemployed. House prices are still falling. The savings rate is approaching zero again. Go ahead, buy some stock.
Out of Town Try-Out: A 1650 x 650 foot hunk of ice broke off the Hualcan glacier in Peru, crashing into a lake, causing a 75 foot high tsunami and killing 3. Peru is home to 70% of the world's tropical icefields – all of which will be gone within 20 years. Scale this up by thousands to imagine coming attractions for Greenland.
Take the Money and Run: If you are thinking about selling, do it. “The housing market is more precarious than ever.” Prices have to fall 20% - 30% to reach their 20 year average. Inventory is enormous and the hidden overhang is humongous. By 2011 there will be nearly 25 million underwater houses - up from about 15 million today, and 15% of all mortgages are over 30 days late. For sale by dreamer…
Porn O'Graph: Attention deficit orders.