Friday, February 4, 2011

SAR #11035

Owning a home has turned out to be a form of rendition.

Point of Order:  The people on the streets in Egypt should not take the good wishes of the White House at face value – in 1991 the Kurds and others in Iraq thought the US would back them only to have lots of time in Saddam's prisons for second thoughts. Those that lived, that is.

Happy days are here again... Home prices have fallen 30% and continue to fall, 43 million Americans rely on food stamps, 4.5 million have been out of work for over a year, and pay on Wall Street broke a record last year, hitting $135 billion — up 5.7%. Revenue for firms is up to $417 billion, another record.

The Swamp:  Discussions of the future of Fannie & Freddie (or the future without them) assume that (1) the 30 year mortgage must remain available (2) nearly everyone should own a home and (3) the government has to guarantee MBS investors they won't ever lose money. Maybe housing shouldn't cost so much that it takes 30% of your income for 30 years, maybe not everyone needs to be an indentured servant and maybe MBS investors should take their own damned risks.

Going, Going, Gone:  The death and dissolution of the Russian Federation is inevitable, it says here.

Noise:  Initial jobless claims clatter back and forth - down 10% this week, up 10% the week before and so on. The gyrations do not build confidence in the data. The four week moving average is trending down, slowly, which is good. But if you stand back and take a wider look, the numbers have been stuck on a plateau around 450,000 for well over a year, which seems to be the message hidden in the noise.

This Is News?  An analysis of Wall Street Journal op-eds shows that the WSJ's writers regularly, nearly uniformly, misstate the scientific consensus on climate change.

Soros About That:  “Revolutions usually start with enthusiasm and end in tears.” The tears in Egypt might be avoided if the US uses its influence to get the Egyptian army to maintain law and order and stay out of politics and thus assist in a peaceful revolution. This is what the US should do throughout the region – petition the military to remain neutral while encouraging the despots to leave and let democratic institutions arise. The US has earned whatever lumps it gets in the process.

Goldilocks:  Goldman Sachs says there will not be a “Lost Decade”. Right, but what's the term that describes over 30 years of stagnant wages, rising prices, lost security and plundered savings?

Them:  The House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Peter King (R-NY), will focus its terrorism investigation “on the radicalization and recruitment of people within the American Muslim community by foreign Islamic terrorist groups, primarily al-Qaeda." and seek to determine “the extent to which American Muslim leaders cooperate with law enforcement." No other avenues will be explored – why bother when you start with the answer?

Protecting the People Profits:  Homeland Security has seized some internet sports sites – just in time to force people to watch the commercials during the Superbowl.

Greasy Food:  We're told that the millions if not billions in the developing world aspire to a better life and a richer diet. Richer is the word: It takes 6 barrels of oil to raise a steer – about a gallon a pound. That and 2500 gallons of water. There may be speculators and The Bernank may be inflating things, but demand is pretty demanding, too, as more people seek an ever larger piece of steak the pie.


mistah charley, ph.d. said...

Dead cow: See the documentary King Corn. Cattle can eat grass instead of grain, and are actually healthier when they do so. In the conceivable future, people may again eat beef with less fossil fuel input.

CKMichaelson said...

Yes, cattle were designed to eat grass & are probably a lot healthier if they do, but economics - or rather the profit motive - of Big Ag is a high hurdle. Reminded me of a story last fall about a candidate for a well-qualified candidate to lead Iowa's sustainable agriculture center who didn't get the job because he said Cows Eat Grass