Monday, March 7, 2011

SAR #11066

There will be other plagues.

The Wall: The American public continues to hope that the government can keep funding both Social Security and Medicare (and in the states, Medicaid). Less than a quarter of the public would support cutting either. Even tea party folks agreed. There was also an increase in the number of people who want the government “to do more to help meet the needs of the people.” Buyer's remorse is setting in.

Working Definition: A liberal is a homeowner who has been screwed over treated poorly by a mortgage servicer.

It's Magic: As of the end of 2010, Saudi Arabia’s stated reserves are 259 billion barrels of recoverable oil. This is the exact amount they have reported to have in reserve every year since the 1980's. How clever of them to find new pools of oil – every year – that exactly match the amount of oil they pumped out of the ground that year.  And they probably don’t have all the spare production capacity they claim, either.

For Sale Signs of Spring: Altos Research reports that average house prices fell another 2% in February while housing inventory was up 3.75%.

Deliberately Disingenuous: When governments say they are seizing the ill-gottten gains of disposed dictators, they mean they are closing the checking accounts in their names. The anonymous trusts, shell companies and similar money laundering / money hiding accounts are essentially untraceable and untouchable. Western investment bankers make far too much money from such accounts for there to be any real attempt to seize the funds – that's why they are allowed to exist in the first place.

Executive Summary: Everything you already know about torture in one handy listing – including that it is still being done in your name. Now stop it.

With Feeling: “The age of cheap oil is over...” according to Fatih Biro of the International Energy Agency, adding that high oil prices will remain a threat to economic performance over the long term. Perhaps as long as the rivers run and the grass grows.

Recycling: Gangs of thugs, recently on Mubarak's payroll, are now working for the Egyptian Army, busting the same protestors' heads.

Inconvenient Data: Private companies contribute about 3.5% of total employee compensation to pension/401k plans. Pension contributions from state and local employers vary between 2.9% and 3.8% of total compensation. So much for the “the union pension contracts are killing state budgets” theory. More accurately, states are facing pension shortfalls because they entrusted the funds to Wall Street. We all know how that turns out, time after time.

Ante Up: The U.S. national security state costs you $1.2 trillion a year. And that doesn't include the egg roll, but does include a fast frisk at the airport.

Gross Inefficiency:The explanation for the poor health of the US budget is this: We pay too much for health care and get far too little for the fortune it costs. US longevity – and that's the ultimate measure of health, no? - equals that of Chile. But the US pays 700% more for the same results. The US does not have the best healthcare, just the most expensive.

No Argument Here: “A Healthy Financial System Cannot Be Built On The Expectation Of Bailouts” No, but a pretty well off investment banker class can be. Was.

Stepping on the Brakes: The current oil price spike will have the same effect as previous ones – it will tank global GDP. If oil (WTI) goes to $150 a barrel and stays there for long, by next spring global GDP will fall by 0.8% and inflation would be about 3% higher than currently seen. Or so Barclays' says.

Get The Science Guy!Two oil and gas companies in Arkansas have agreed to idle some waste-water disposal wells because some experts believe they are connected to a recent swarm of earthquakes. Sounds like a job for Myth Busters.

Porn O'Graph: No spare capacity to spare.


Anonymous said...

One clarification on your point about both private and public retirement compensation being at 3.5% level. There is a difference though, in that private 401k's are defined contribution, whereas pensions are defined benefit. Most defined benefit plans end up costing much more than expected, as the long term returns are never as high as anticipated.

John D

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Quite right. The 'assumed rate of return' on most defined benefit plans - public and private - have been wildly optimistic. Deceitful would be a good description. But that - generally conscious - deceit is what has lead to private pensions being dumped on the public, and public pensions being shibboleths.

But to blame either private or public employees - unionized or not - for the deliberate under-contribution and over-estimation of returns is yet another deceit. It was management - in both cases - that should wear the black hat.


ibilln said...

Get the Science Guy: "Sounds like a job for Myth Busters".

Oh. I thought you said "Mythe Blasters", cleaver ref to the wicked witch of CDS-dom.