Countries appear opportunistic and amoral because they are.
Snow Job: Initial claims for unemployment dropped 36,000 from last week, down to 3836,000 and the 4-week moving average dropped to 415,600, a decrease of 16,000. Lots of “it's the snow, stupid!” commentary out there, but keep in mind it is what it is, a number from the BLS.
Slip Sliding Away: The ECB has had to step in and become the buyer of last resort for Portugal as its financing costs on 10-year debt jumped to a fresh euro-era high of 7.63%. Cue the fat lady.
Generating Heat: In the largest domestic spending cut announced to date, the White House said it plans to save a few billion in the 2012 budget by
letting the poor freeze cutting federal energy assistance for the poor. This is bound to be hotly debated.
Lost In Translation: Republicans are trying to keep the courts out of any rulings on climate change legislation, preferring political passion to factual judgments.
SeeSaw: US foreclosures either were up 12% last month (from November) or fell 11% from a year ago. The headline depends on whether you are a buyer or a seller. The apparent y/y decline is due to the halt to foreclosures caused by courts wanting better looking falsified documents; foreclosures in states that do not get courts involved jumped 23%, while they fell 7% in states where the niceties of law have to be followed.
Asked & Answered: “Can America Afford Democracy?” No.
Tiptoe Through the Tulips: A Dutch court has upheld the Dutch central bank's ruling that the glassworkers pension fund must sell most of its gold because the central bank does not think it is a good investment. Or at least that's the reason they gave. Wonder what Bernanke will say when he comes around confiscating gold...
Too Bad: Much to the disappointment of Certain Parties, research indicates that taxing the rich does not prompt them to decamp for tax havens overseas.
If “A” then “B”: The Mortgage Bankers Association is appalled to discover that increasing mortgage interest rates are driving down applications for new loans. Another one of those complex mysteries of high finance.
Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis: Arctic sea ice extent averaged over January was the lowest January ice extent on record. Areas of Hudson Bay that normally freeze over by late November did not freeze until a couple of weeks ago and the Labrador Sea is still largely ice-free.
Thoughtlessly Absurd: Republicans promise to end all “job-killing regulations” — especially those that lower corporate profits such as health, safety and environmental regulations - ccording to House Speaker John Boehner. This is, of course, a red herring – there was no sudden rush of federal regulations in 2007 that tanked the economy. It was a lack of regulations, specifically financial regulations that did the job on jobs.
Phaux News: A former FOX employee, speaking anonymously because of non-disclosure agreements, claim that viewers would not believe “that stuff is just made up", and that it is run as a purely partisan operation. But perhaps the source had worked at FOX so long he could no longer tell the truth, one way or the other.