If you can't afford oil at $90 a barrel, you won't be able to afford it when it gets back to $20 a barrel either.
Slow learners: The Irish government, driven to penury when it assumed the obligations of the country's three largest banks, has cleverly stepped forward to take control of Allied Irish Bank.
Clarification: Halliburton says that it paid $35 million in bribes to the Nigerian government to get them to drop the indictment against Dick Cheney “for making improper payments to government officials in Nigeria”.
A Public Education: Over 45% of the federal loans given to students at for-profit colleges in 2008 will go into default. There is no reason to expect the classes of 2009, 2010 and on and on will be any different. At least 75 % and as much as 90% of the funding at for-profit schools comes directly from these government loans. Taxpayers should think of it as a learning experience.
Decline: In the UK, mortgage lending amounted to just £6 billion this year, down from a £110 billion-a-year peak in 2006.
Three Steps Down:  International investors are becoming net sellers of sovereign debt.  Credit rating agencies are beginning to tell the truth about the soundness of various country's sovereign debt.  The pressure on governments to cut spending continues to rise. The result will be increasing austerity, increasing recession and wild fluctuations in commodities. In other words, more of the same.
State's Wrong: Texas, blissfully unaware that the question of States Rights has been settled 46 times before – each time in favor of the feds, has refused to recognize the EPA's right to regulate carbon emissions. So instead of letting the state implement its regulations, the EPA will directly step in and take control.
Quoted: “I think we need a law that explicitly makes it legal for people to record government officials when they are interacting with them in their official capacity. And this is doubly true for police officers and other law enforcement officials.”
Future Present: Saudi Aramco's LPG exports will fall 24% in 2011 as domestic demand increases. Wait until they've traded all the camels in for cars.
House Rules: The incoming GOP House rules will demand that all spending increases get offset by cuts elsewhere and not by tax increases (tax reductions would not have to be offset, of course). Thus no stimulus effect. They also plan to split the debt limit vote and the budget resolution, giving them two hostages early next spring.
Department of Duh? Dean Baker loudly observes that “Giving tax breaks to the rich will add to the deficit!” Yes, giving tax breaks will add to the deficit. Doesn't matter who they are given to. It both is and is not a scandal, but it is not news.
A Christmas Present: This is a wonderful animated presentation on the Crisis of Capitalism, short and to the point, and from a point of view not usually encountered. [I tried embedding it here, but it ran too slow...]
Payment Due: This daily effort is presented free of charge. But in the modern Christmas spirit, I'd now like something in return. I would like each of you to donate $10 to the nearest Food Bank. While you're there, volunteer to work in the kitchen. If you can't find the food bank, put ten bucks in the kettle the next time you pass one. And I thank you.