Monday, September 13, 2010

SAR #10256

Many thought there would be no consequences.

Anniversary:  Nine years after 9/11 everyone is asking “How safe is America?”  The real question should be  'How unsafe were we, actually?' and  'Who profited how much from needlessly scaring the shit out of us?'

Retaility Check:  US consumer spending increased 54% since 2000, while consumer income increased only 6%.  Payback time?

Bunch of Delinquents:  Despite banks making a record level of loan modifications, commercial real estate investments continue to fail.  20% of hotel loans are delinquent.  Loans for multifamily housing have reached a 14% delinquency rate, and overall CMBS have an 8.9% delinquency rate - which represents about $2 billion in potential losses.

Lost in Translation:  Gingrich says that President Obama's world outlook is “factually insane” and that he lives in “Kenyan, anti-colonial” fantasy land.  Don't ask me, I've not the faintest idea what that means.

Conclusion:  A ranking of national competitiveness has Switzerland in first place, Sweden, then Singapore, the USA, Germany, Japan, Finland, Netherlands, Denmark, and Canada. Low paid and poorly treated workers do not seem to be essential in order to compete.  Laws against child labor and indentured servitude are not a bar to success in the marketplace.

Cloudy, With Sarcasm:  James K. Galbraith's testimony to the Deficit Reduction Committee was delicious.  While it made no friends and will have no influence on the outcome, it is nice to see an economist who is willing to say what he thinks in plain language, starting with  “Your proceedings are clouded by illegitimacy...”

Back to the Future:  Fannie Mae has revived the “No Down” mortgage. Next month they are going to unveil a program where the government annually pays off that part of your mortgage that is underwater.

Yes/Maybe/No:  Wholesale inventories rose 1.3% while sales rose only half that.  Some see this as encouraging because it seems wholesalers are anticipating increased sales.  Others claim that wholesalers have over-stocked and inventories are now too high.

Three Monkeys:  Robert Fisk reports in The Independent that the reason Obama agreed with Bush's decision not to release the rest of the pictures from Abu Ghraib is that “Most of the women in the prison were raped — some of them left prison pregnant.”  The pictures we saw were bad enough. I hope this is not true, but fear the worst.

'Innocence' Explained: A federal appeals court has agreed with Chevron that it is not responsible for any wrongdoing in having Nigerians who got in the way of their profits killed.

Editorializing:  The headline reads: “Poverty Explodes To Record Highs Under Obama.” the story is about poverty levels in the US “jumping” from 13.2% to 15% and child poverty “jumping” from 19% to 20%.  “Jumping?” And the poverty experienced in 2009 was the result of the Bush administrations policies over the preceding 8 years and not attributable to Obama.  Viewpoints change, facts do not.

Suffer the Little Children:  Testimony from over 500 Belgian victims of child molestation by Catholic clergy – some as young as two years old, four and five years old – are being investigated by judicial authorities.  At what point did the Church become a pedophiles clubhouse, or has it always been one?

Slick:  “A substantial layer of oily sediment” has been found “stretching  on the seabed for dozens of miles in all directions” from the BP/Deepwater Horizon site. Not all the oil evaporated when BP's PR people said “Shazam.”

Pudding/Proof:  As jobs become ever more scarce, corporate profits rise because the workers hours and pay can be cut, cut, cut.  Which raises the question:  “How do you continue on in business after having impoverished, alienated, or driven away most of your clientele in the heat of a short term greed enabled by a corrupted political and regulatory system?”

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