Americans need good news.
Meltdown: The Kabul bank that owns the Karzi government – which once had over $1 billion in deposits – has shrunk to less than $120 million as depositors take the money and run. The vast, globe-spanning web of corruption that passes for government in Afghanistan is collapsing and you and I will get stuck with the bill – which we've already paid ten times over. Whose billions – in cash – are being flown out of Afghanistan at the momen? Will the lie that we are fighting 'al-Qaeda' dissolve as the Karzai government does?
Worth Noting: "Combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months." - AP editor Tom Ken
Gobbledygook: The FHFA has told the GSE's that 27% of mortgages should go to folks who can't afford to buy a house. (“should benefit low-income homebuyers with incomes below 80% of area median income”). But Fannie and Freddie are not to "undertake economically adverse or high-risk activities" to meet the goals. Borrowers with credit scores less than 500 are no longer eligible for FHA insured mortgage financing. Clear?
Humor: “Israel Invited to Join Anti-Nuclear Pact.”
Good Questions: What is the difference between today’s economy and Lehman Brothers just before it collapsed? Why was Lehman the only Wall Street firm permitted to go under? Why did we save the richest financial institutions but leave the real economy to die? Is our economy based on fraud – mortgage fraud, the deceptive packaging of junk mortgages, and computerized gambling on those derivatives?
First Signs of Winter: Azerbaijan has agreed to double its natural gas exports to Russia (which has lots of its own), leaving Europe (which has little of its own) lacking input for its Nabucco pipeline which is supposed to bring Caspian gas to Europe without troubling the Russians. Closer to home (theirs) Ukraine has expressed a willingness to give Russia 'joint control' over a pipeline shipping gas to southern Europe.
Sunshine on my Shoulders: The BLS reports the private sector added 67,000 jobs in August, less than half the number needed just to break even with new entrants to the labor pool. Overall employment fell 54,000 as the government did away with 114,000 of the temporary Census workers. Mediocre, but better than a sharp stick in the eye. But remember nearly 30 million Americans are still jobless or forced into part-time jobs
Leg Bone Connected To The... Wheat futures rose higher on the Chicago exchange as Russia extended its ban on grain exports into 2011, the citizens of Maputo, Mozambique rioted in protests over higher food prices, and a flurry of
engulf and devour merger and acquisition activity spread through agribusinesses executive suites.
Clip and Save: The good news is that crude oil is set to drop to $60 a barrel. The bad news is this pronouncement is based on “technical chart analysis”. Wouldn’t want to base it on something less ephemeral than charts would we?
Is there a Pill for That? Competition with the other 20 million unemployed is leading to depression in more and more seniors, especially the million plus over 55 who have been out of work for more than six months. Meanwhile the government borrows more and more to keep paying the 50,000 non-combat troops in Iraq and their 190,000 contractor buddies.
Consequences: Fannie Mae wants mortgage servicers to toss more folks onto the street and drive down house prices by speeding up foreclosures and the subsequent sale of foreclosed properties. Those that don't get with the program will be assessed fees to provide them with “a financial incentive to comply”.
It's Dark at Night: In a breathless expose, the New York Times has discovered that employers have been pushing the costs of health care onto their workers. Imagine.
Clarification: Under the misleading headline “Don't Look Now Deflationistas, But Food Prices Are Soaring” another reporter displays his or her confusion over an increase in prices caused by demand outstripping supply (wheat, for example) with inflation, which is too much money chasing goods. The one does not preclude the other.
On the Street, Where You Live: While 30% of Americans have a family member that is unemployed, parents with children are the fastest-growing, least-visible segment of the homeless population. Typically it's a single mother with two kids, living in a third-hand car. We turn our heads and hurry on.
Porn O'Graph: Re-run, or The Job Market, part 47.