Economics trumps reality, but only for a while.
Playing Hangman: The most astounding part of this long, slow charade is that the rescues of the banks and bond holders keep being described as sovereign bailouts. Nonsense. No one cares if Ireland or Greece or Portugal fail as countries and their people suffer grinding poverty for decades. The object of the exercise is to keep the European financial system going, just a little bit longer. Certainly they don't expect us to believe that forcing Ireland ever deeper in debt is going to attract new investors – as Roubini says, ain't no-one coming from Mars to bail them out. It's just another set of bank bailouts on the sly.
For Whom The Bell Tolls: To mark the 18th month since the end of the recession, NYC is laying off 6,201 city employees and leaving another 4,165 jobs unfilled. That's 10,000, do I hear 12?
Progress: The war in Afghanistan is going so well that the Army, for the first time, now feels it is safe to bring in heavily armored Abrams main battle tanks.
Show me Your Business Plan: An outfit down in Houston called NRG Energy plans on building a $10 million network of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city next year. I hope someone told them that Grab & Run makes its money off soda and beer.
Unrenewable Energy: After years of rapid growth through government cash, the renewable energy industry faces a grim reality: without the cash flow from Washington few if any alternative energy projects can attract enough investors to go forward. So we'll go backward.
Sharecroppers: Remember the old days when the landlord advanced the money and had first dibs on the harvest? And the harvest was never quiet enough to clear the debt. And so the farmer got poorer and poorer, until he had nothing. Substitute Citibank as the landlord and your own name as the tenant farmer/sharecropper. There are two things the banks fear – that you will not pay your monthly installments on your debt promptly, or that somehow, against all odds, you manage to pay it off.
Warm-up Question: What's more important to the GOP? World peace or making Obama look weak?
Sliding Scale: On Dmitri Orlov's 5 step scale for the collapse of society, the economy, and pretty much life as you know it, Stage 1, the financial collapse is well underway. 2, the commercial collapse is just getting started as is 3, the loss of credibility of the political system. What remains are the two end states - 4, social collapse and 5, the fulll meltdown of cultural collapse. Maybe Obama can appoint a commission.
Another Dumb Question: 'Is the US the largest systemic threat to global stability?' Of course, haven't you been paying attention?
For Sale: Toyota is going to pretend to be green in 2012 when it starts offering an environmentally friendly (if you don't count the coal burned to make the electricity) plug-in hybrid. They hope to sell 50,000 of them at $36,000 each. It's either that or a $6,700 six year old Ford F-150.
Whistling in the Wind: Ambac claims the banks that put together the poorly performing mortgage backed bonds that bankrupted the company should pay for Ambac's poor judgment in insuring them.
Previews: An 'industrial action' planned for November 24th will be the largest coordinated strike in Portuguese history as the workers protest a 10.7% unemployment rate with 600,000 unemployed. Finance Minister, Teixeira dos Santos said that fiscal consolidation will be “harsh and demanding” with wage cuts of 10%, but it must be done or “the nation’s situation will be much worse than people imagine”. Meanwhile the Catholic run charity Cáritas Portuguesa reports that the number of people seeking assistance has grown from 5,000 to 62,000 in a year. The National Food Bank is currently sustaining some 280,000 Portuguese. Cáritas Portuguesa has warned that “the blackest phase of the crisis has not yet occurred” as unemployment will continue to rise and become a long-term issue.
Politics, Explained: Congressmen are getting richer, you are not.