There is no such thing as safe, just safer than...
Gang Initiation: The Senate's 'Gang of Six' has ridden to the rescue – hide the silverware. Just whose rescue seems unclear, but mostly the usual suspects make out and the usual marks pay the bill. It starts with $500 billion in actual cuts, in exchange for which the debt ceiling gets raised, the bond market is happy and stock markets go wild. It includes a promise of $3.7 trillion in cuts over the next ten years – but doesn't really specify anything much except that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security get
screwed cut while Wall Street gets to keep their outrageous salaries classified as capital gains – the tax on which will fall. There's a lot of fancy footwork about 'guidelines' and “an agreement on a framework for what could become a plan" and "a fast track process for the committees in Congress to specify further savings." Savings here means more cuts. And the privatization of “unused federal property.” It is a magic pill, vast spending cuts that will – against all previous experience – supposedly spur the economy. They promised. Too bad they didn't ask Boehner or the Republicans in the House.
Termites: Bank of America lost $9.1 billion in the second quarter because it had to start paying back losses investors suffered on BA securitized mortgages. This was the worst quarterly loss ever for BA, and there's more to come
House Raising: June's single-family housing starts were up 9% from May – but at 453,000 (seasonally adjusted annual rate) the numbers are barely off the floor. Permits for single family houses were essentially flat at 407,000. Existing home sales were down 2.1% from May and down 10% from a year ago. At this pace the number of housing units completed will reach a record low this year, along with the fewest net housing units added since the Census Bureau started tracking the data.
The Price Of Justice: The San Francisco Superior Court is laying off 40% of its staff and closing 25 courtrooms – budget cuts, of course. It will take much longer to contest a traffic citation, 18 months longer to get a divorce and an extra 5 years before you can sue the bastards.
Charades: It sounds like.. Good news? Sure, foreclosure filings are down 29% in the first half of the year. The bad news is that the decline is due to the banks being caught faking various documents and pulling back on the pace of foreclosure. It will resume next year, with an extra million foreclosures pushed back onto the pile. Or maybe the year after. Prices won't bottom out until after the foreclosures are mostly completed, there is a big decrease in unemployment and a tidy increase in income. Do not hold your breath.
When The War Is Over: The administration is trying to find a way to withdraw US troops from Iraq in accordance with this year's deadline and to keep a few tens of thousands of troops after the deadline passes. Bribery is high on the list of options.
Quote: “Empirical support for the view that sharp, immediate cuts in government spending would be good for the U.S. economy was never strong, and it’s getting weaker.” The IMF agrees that deficit reduction will not boos economic growth. Don't tell Boehner or that other guy.
Ticket To Ride: After voters rejected a 13-cent increase in property taxes, the school board in Keller, Texas adopted a plan requiring parents pay $185 a semester for their child to ride the bus. Students on reduced or free lunches will owe $100. Payment must be in full before the school year starts. The footnote explaining how people who can't afford to buy their kid lunch are going to come up with $100 seemed to be missing.
Porn O'Graph: Uptick! (It helps to squint.)