The plot hath many changes; every day speaks a new scene.
Finem Respice, Francis Quarles 1592-1644
Oil Spill Math: After raising its original estimate of 1,000 barrels a day for the leak, to 2,000, BP now says it is sucking 5,0000 bpd. But just three days ago they said the straw was only getting 20% of the oil. Does that mean its been spewing 25,000 barrels a day for a month? Or is it 95,000?
Unemployment: Initial claims are up 25,000 this week, to 471,000. Total unemployment is said to be 4,625,000 after they got through not counting lots of folks who've become invisible to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Public Privates: Kentucky's Senate wannabe Rand Paul says he can’t support the 1964 Civil Rights Act or any other non-discrimination legislation because it is the government intruding on private business. An owner – even if he is open to the public – can decide who to serve, who to have as customers. And he doesn't see what the fuss is all about, blaming the media attention of “the loony left”. You know, all those blacks and gays and women. Americans.
Good Question: Why is BP still in charge in the cleanup? (Hint: It's the same reason Wall Street got to tell the government how to rescue the banks.)
More Good Questions: Why is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill an information dead zone? Another one: Why will we let BP deduct the cost of cleaning up the mess from its taxes (which it doesn't pay anyway)?
Profits and Paybacks: Remember all the cheering about car-companies paying back the government? Well, not quite. They've paid back certain bits, but taxpayer losses on GM and Chrysler combined will be about $34 billion.
Fortified: Turns out some of those food supplements that were supposed to promote health were actually promoting obesity. Researchers found a close correlation between niacin consumption and obesity. Increased childhood obesity in the US in the past three decades may have been exacerbated by niacin fortification.
Summertime: Housing's shadow inventory – houses 90+ days delinquent or already in the foreclosure process, but not counting those who would sell if they could or are underwater and likely to walk away – will peak this summer, throwing a long shadow over the housing market for at least two more years.
Usual Exceptions: After a 60-day trek to the North Pole, British researchers report encountering ice sheets drifting faster than usual, an earlier than usual start to the annual melt, and a rapid decline in sea-ice extent that approaches that of 2007 which set the record for the greatest retreat of Arctic sea ice.
Explanation/Excuse: Wal-Mart explained its dismal quarterly sales results by noting that customers cannot afford the gas to get to the store and if they get there they use food stamps.
Great While It Lasts: Over 90% of the world’s energy comes from non-renewable fossil fuel sources – and their decline can be projected on a Hubbert bell curve. Eventually there will be no more to be had. This is the last century in which civilization will be powered by fossil fuels. What, if anything, comes next?
Doomsterisms: The index of US leading indicators leads downward. Some see increasing similarities between the Great Depression and today. Dr. Doom (Roubini) anticipates a 20% decline in US stocks and calls for governments to cut spending and raise taxes – but doesn't think any country has the political will or ability to do so. Richard Russell, of Dow Theory Letters fame, says that by the end of this year the country will be ‘unrecognizable’. Pimco's El-Erain says “This is not a typical retracement, we're in uncharted waters.” Perhaps there is a perfect storm approaching and there is nothing we can do about it. but break out the tinfoil hats.