“The real issue is: Will the euro stand under the current circumstances in Ireland? That's what the Irish government really has to focus attention on." Christine Legare, Fench Finance Minister
Program Note: The best mini-series of the season – When Irish Eyes Are Crying – continues to enthrall viewers from around the world. Will the government drink the Kool Aid? Will the Irish bend once more to the yoke of foreign masters? Can the Irish peasantry support both the government (with a deficit equal to 32% of GDP) and the banks and the euro? Will banks in England, the EU and the USA share in the pain? Will the EU/IMF demand control of Ireland's economy as the price of rescue? Is this a 'survival crisis' for the euro and the eurozone? Is Frau Merkel right, is everything at stake? “If the euro fails, then Europe will fail. And with it fails the idea of European values and unity." Something will give, if not here and now, then Portugal in a few months and Spain after that. Dominoes.
Promises, Promises: Customers polled by Gallup say they are going to spend about 12% more this year than last. It's in the cards. Credit cards.
Tag Sales: Various indexes reporting on house price trends month to month, quarter to quarter, year to year, all show declines from 1.8% to 2.8%. The take-away number is that house prices are now off 29.2% from the peak and still falling. Housing starts are down 11.7% month to month.
The Long and Winding Road: What's the bigger challenge, breaking our addiction to cheap energy or breaking our addiction to government spending? If the solution to our problems involves personal sacrifice for the greater good, there is no solution. Not for energy shortages, not for climate change, not for budget deficits. But the game will not end in a tie – something will come along to resolve these problems. Something.
Asked and Answered: Will trade wars bring back American jobs? No.
Lying Eyes: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (the same folks who bring you the highly doctored unemployment figures) report that consumer price inflation is at its lowest level in 50 years. That is, if you don't count food and energy. I'm in great shape too, if you don't count the extra 40 pounds and my complete lack of muscle tone.
Clear & Present Danger: The Republicans say they would be more inclined to sign international treaties if it didn't involve agreeing with foreigners.
Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner: In the spirit of bipartisanship, President Obama invited the Congressional leadership to the White House for dinner and some discussion of the problems facing the country. The Party of No declined, said they had more important things to do, but were open to a compromise if the President would check with them before sending out invitations.
Theme Song: “We’re in a survival crisis. We all have to work together in order to survive with the euro zone, because if we don’t survive with the euro zone we will not survive with the European Union.” EU President Van Rompuy. Eurozone finance ministers agree that what has been tried so far hasn't worked and that other measures are needed. No one seems to know what these 'other measures' might be.
Math Quiz: Nissan says it will be selling 500,000 electric cars a year by 2013. That's world wide, of course. If they sold all these electrics to the US, how many years would it take to convert the US light vehicle fleet to all-electric? _____ (Hint, there are 246 million light vehicles in the US fleet.)
One Trick Pony: A report in the Washington Times claims that all of the population changes among the states in the last ten years are the result of personal income taxes. States with lower income tax rates gained population. But maybe people were moving so they could pay higher sales taxes – because states have to get their money somewhere and if not from the paycheck, then at the cash register. A silly piece of propaganda trying to demonize income taxes. Remember, traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge causes the tides to rise and fall – if you pick the right days.