Stock markets depend on the herd instinct.
Educational Change: San Francisco is encouraging students to scoop up all the pennies, nickels and dimes they can find laying around the house, in their piggy banks or mom's purse, and bring the coins to school a part of a program to supplement the school budget. Collection boxes in the shape of little red schoolhouses will also be placed near registers at Walgreens to encourage folks to toss in their coins as part of “The Coin Rush.”
Mostly Harmless: A fundamental constant of the universe may be inconstant. “The fine-structure constant which tells the strength of electromagnetism is not the same everywhere” throughout the universe. If true, the basic tenet of physics – that physical laws are the same everywhere – would give way to a universe where the house rules varied from place to place, suggesting the some of the basic assumptions underlying our understanding of the universe are misunderstandings.
What's In There? It has finally dawned on the EPA that it might be worthwhile to find out just what it is that natural gas drillers are putting in the water supply. Seems premature to be concerned since nobody's actually died yet, have they?
Stamping Out Hunger: The good news is that rate of increase in the number of Americans on food stamps is declining. The sad news is that 41 million – 13% of the population – one out of every eight Americans – need help buying food. Ask John Boehner what the Republicans might do about this. [Hint: In order to let the $26 billion aid-to-states bill pass, the GOP insisted that $12 billion be taken from future food stamp funding. Can hardly wait to see what they do to Social Security in the name of austerity and deficit reduction.]
Just the Facts: The CIA reports that income inequalities are greater in the US than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and approximates levels found in Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay. While the spread between the rich and poor is declining in Latin America, in the US the rich continue to get richer and the poor, poorer.
Hazy, Lazy Days: The man who fell off the Golden Gate was doing fine until he hit the water. That's pretty much the way Lloyd’s of London and Chatham House Royal Institute of International Affairs describe the world's approach to the eventual disruption to be caused by the collapse of energy supplies. Along with the OECD, they predict “catastrophic consequences", the worry warts.
Imagine: Reports are pointing to certain GOP political ads on the new healthcare law, claiming the ads “distort the facts.” As though exaggeration (lying) and omissions (lying by omission) were somehow new to the political scene.
The 10% Solution: Crystal ballers see employment growth failing to keep pace with the increase in the labor pool, leading to 10% or higher unemployment in 2011. Of course the increasing number of those who have abandoned all hope and gone and hid somewhere might lower the number of job seekers enough to lower the unemployment rate while increasing the social instability quotient.
Tea Leaves: If we're dumb enough to give Republicans control in Congress don't expect any action on our economic troubles. The failing economy will be their excuse to push through lower taxes, privatize Social Security, repeal health reform and open the Capital Mall to oil drilling. Clip and save, you've been warned.
Huffing and Puffing: California regulators, in the role of Big Bad Wolf, are threatening to fine health insurer PacifiCare “up to $9.9 billion” for about a million mismanaged medical claims, failures to pay doctors monies owed, and a general disdain for the regulators themselves. History suggests the case will be settled for about $2.7 million and the promise not to be caught again.
Common Cold Cured! The Fed, the TBTF banks, the media, mainstream economists, the OECD and Larry Kudlow are all claiming that further economic weakness is not possible, everything's coming up roses. Tell you one thing, we've doubled up on dips.