Faust would be quite at home.
Confusion: US GDP grew at a 5.7% pace in Q4 – but 3.4% of that was in inventory growth. The leading sectors of GDP, personal consumption and residential investment, both slowed in the quarter just ended. In that 2009's increase in wages and benefits, at 1.5%, was the weakest since records were available (1982), it's hard to get excited about any of these numbers. Reinforcing the general grimness is this marvelously depressing chart that shows the economy is still 3.2% smaller than it was before the bottom fell out.
Fine Print: It is an open secret that US Special Ops teams are deeply involved in 'secret' operations in Yemen, including attacks that have killed scores of people, including 6 al-Qaeda in Yemen franchise holders. One of the targets is Anwar al-Aulaqi, an American citizen thought to be working with al-Qaeda, who has been put on a list of those the US would like to see killed. Or captured. Uncle Sam wants you, dead or alive and to hell with a trial.
No Problem: To avoid slipping back into Great Recession, The Sequel, massive deficit spending must be continued so we can bubble up some jobs and such. Do these deficits matter? Certainly, and in the long run we must pay (some of) the money back. The long run - when deficit reduction, increased taxes, smaller government and minimal social spending becomes necessary is defined as when somebody else is in office.
Have You Herd? The recession has driven beef and dairy producers to reduce their herd sizes. But it's not quite that bad, because today's cattle are on steroids and weigh about twice what their ancestors did.
Definite Mystery: Along with nuclear power, Obama is seeking expanded investment in 'clean energy' such as coal mining and oil drilling. Maybe nuclear power qualifies, but to include fossil fuel burning under the heading of 'clean energy' requires the sort of redefinition of 'clean' that only Big Energy and politicians could love.
If/Then: The bailout has only worsened the problems at the big banks, and if the too big to fail banks are not reined in, the economy as a whole is headed for serious trouble. And we're not doing diddly about reining in the banks, so...
Whistling: The International Energy Agency's Fatih Birol says that the demand for petroleum in the developed world has peaked and that the demand levels of 2006-2007 will not be seen again because of higher fuel efficiency and the use of alternatives. So we can continue the high-consumption perpetual-growth energy party without as much energy? Really? What changes in the economy have you seen other than the recession that has significantly reduced energy demand Isn't it nice that this peak in demand came along right when some were sure that supply had peaked?
And That's The Way It Is... “America Is In Serious Trouble And Our Government Is Too Wimpy And Incompetent To Do Anything About It.” Okay, that's the problem. What's the solution?
Nose/Face: In an act that demonstrates the futility of pretending that any effective action will be taken to reduce global climate change, Australia says it will not try to reduce its CO2 emissions by more than 5% by 2020 without guaranteed reductions by the US, China and India.
On the Other Hand: Harvard economist Ken Rogoff says the world's economies will come crashing down if nations continue “gorging on debt”. Just the opposite of what that fella from Princeton keeps saying. Maybe they're both right about the crash & burn part and it does not matter how we get there.
Once Upon a Time: It used to be that the US would hold an election and the people would, by majority vote, chose who was to run the country. Now it takes only 41% of the vote to ruin the country. It is time for the Senate to change its own rules – the Constitution says nothing about filibusters. The need for super-majorities on every vote was invented recently, by the Republicans. It's the losers' way of acting out and preventing the will of the majority from being done.
Porn O'Graph: Climate Change graph works for foreclosures too.