Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SAR #10350

The difference between barbarians and Wall Street is scale.

On Retail Sales:  We've stopped saving (if we ever did and it wasn't all write-offs) and resumed spending money we don't have – much of it gifts from the future via government transfer payments.

Reminder:  “We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expression…  The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way…  The third is freedom from want…  The fourth is freedom from fear…”  Franklin Delano Roosevelt.   Pray we remember.

Can You Hear Me Now?  Just as we were getting used to the idea that governments can't keep secrets from determined hackers, we learn that they can't keep cell phones from people they have locked up in cells, either.

The Dating Game:  The US counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan to succeed, it needs a stable, well-liked and dependable local partner in Kabul Honesty is not a requirement, but docility is.  Karzai, for his part, can't decide whether he wants the Taliban or the Americans to take him to the dance.

Old News:  The Vatican Bank  “allowed clergy to act as front for Mafia”.  Nice to see they don’t discriminate at the collection plate.

It's Different This Time:  Banks are offering credit cards to higher risk borrowers again, claiming that this time it is not so risky because they are using new and better guidelines – like customers' Facebook pages and Google searches – to determine creditworthiness... and charging ever higher fees and interest rates.

Wholly Mackerel:  Iceland and the Faroe Islands have seriously disturbed both Great Britain and the EU and this time it has nothing to do with banks. Iceland and the Faroes have set their own quotas for the mackerel harvest, far in excess of the numbers desired by GB and the EU.  Just like in the bank confrontation of a couple of years ago, threats of retaliatory actions are expected.

One Size Fits All:  Just ask any economist.  Better yet, ask four or five...

Candide:  Wall Street, the politicians, and the MSM keep claiming that everything is getting better, every day, in every way.  Except.  “Saving” turns out to be lower debt due to write-offs.  Improving employment data turns out to be more and more people leaving the labor pool.  The “upturn” is an economy where 7 million fewer people worked than a couple of years ago.  And with fewer people working shorter hours at lower wages somehow retail sales are up.  Repeat after me: “The economy is recovering, retail is doing well...

Size Matters:  A few days ago Glenn Beck claimed that ten percent of Muslims are terrorists.  There are about 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.  General Petraeus needs reinforcements if he's going to take on 150 million terrorists and Ahmed Karzai at the same time.


rjs said...

retail sales ex-gas are at a new high; yet we have ten percent unemployment, 20% if you count those out of six have been unemployed in the last 18 months, and 17% are working in a lower paying job out of their who could be pushing retail sales up? the same guys who will be getting an average of $129,000 in tax cuts when the bush cuts are renewed...

maybe they'll trickle down on us, ya think?

Gegner said...

More 'accounting magic' as far as the alleged 'uptick' in retail goes.

As the field of competitors narrows, either being bought out or going bankrupt, the new/surviving entity posts the combined sales of the vanquished on top of their own, producing an 'increase' out of the same (or less) volume.

We don't have 'reliable' data for overall sales, we have guesses...just like unemployment.

the inability to 'prove' otherwise has been invaluable to those making outrageous claims of 'green shoots' from the effects of market consolidation.

CKMichaelson said...

I see we're all in step here, today. Yeah, rjs, I wonder what would be "fair" in the Pension Funds/AAA lies case, in that the law requires we believe the lies.

And can anybody do a reasonable guesstimate of the effect of closing stores on sales figures? How many customers go to another location of the same chain, how many to competitors, and how many do not shop at all. [A good study might be the Outlet Mall in Nashville, which closed with the spring floods and is never going to reopen. What happened to all those customers?]


rjs said...

the census bureau reports gross figures, but who knows what kind of fudge they use to arrive at them; you might recall last year i had a wtf momement when sales tax receipts contradicted retail sales; lately that has not been the case, as sales tax collections are up too...

my allegation that it was the rich buying originated in a WSJ artilce after black friday that itemized sales by seemed to be the upscale stores that led the YoY numbers...

Gegner said...

Later yesterday Mr. Williams over at SGS provided the following: "Bulk of Gain in November Retail Sales Was from Higher Prices."

How this is possible with supposedly 'non-existent' inflation is a mystery as well as a reflection of the 'accuracy' of government data...reporting.

We are assured by many sources that government data is 100% reliable, it's how it is reported that is suspect!