Why do we keep trying to fix the wrong problem?
Another One Bites The Dust: France is joining the legions of the damned in imposing austerity measures in order to “reassure investors” that they will get their money back. Step one is cutting its budget for the first time since WWII, raising taxes and cutting 30,000 public employee jobs. These moves have not worked anywhere else they've been tried, but maybe French bondholders are still gullible.
Today's Trivia: The durable goods report was moderately upish, but was greeted rather grumpily by Goldman Sachs, which said it was “encouraging” but probably not sustainable. Go away, kid, yer bothering me.
There's Something Happening Here... In many ways the deliberately leaderless Occupy Wall Street protest parallels the organization and style of the Indignados. Soon to open a franchise near you. Are the times a'changin'?
Witching Hour: Many hedge fund investors must decide by Friday if they want to get their money back from their funds by the end of the year. Will they flee en mass? Maybe. Assets under management by the Man Group, the world's largest hedge fund, area already down 25% this year. Does this mean that 1 out of 4 hedgies will be unemployed next year?
Talking Head: The former head of the Budapest Stock Exchange and current head of securities services for Italy's largest lender says “the euro is beyond rescue.” He went on to predict payless paydays, cashless cash machines and the complete write-off of Greek debt.
After Action Report: The UN says that "violent incidents" in Afghanistan have increased 40% over last year and are on track to being the deadliest year so far in the decade since the US invaded. NATO says the UN data is "inconsistent with the data that we have collected". And the US says that in another 15 or 20 years victory will be just around the corner, if there are any corners left.
Softly, Softly: US money market funds have cut their exposure to the euro by 45% ($177 billion)in the last 8 months, so naturally the Fed has once again stepped in as the lender of last (or least) resort for European banks. This may or may not be a Good Idea, but it certainly gives critics of the Fed an opening.
Maybe, Just Maybe: There appears to be a link between the slowing of the polar jet stream, the rapid decrease in Arctic sea ice (three decades faster than predicted by the ICCP), colder winters with slower moving storms in the northern hemisphere and global warming. If true, this portends more extreme weather going forward. [The scientists acknowledge that two years of observations do not prove their theory, but they find the data convincing.]
Bring Out Your Dead... Senator Rand Paul (Alien-KY) is against forcing pipeline companies make repairs to prevent another explosion like the one in San Bruno last year, because he is opposed to the idea of letting the federal government issue regulations
telling hearty capitalists who they can and cannot kill to make a profit. Actually, he's against the federal government, period.
Field Trials: It's popular in conservative circles to claim the failure of the Obama/GOP stimulus to produce Nirvana proves that Keynesian policy doesn't work. This is like claiming that the collapse of the USSR proved Communism doesn't work. Neither was actually tried.
On Crisis: The ongoing drama in Europe is mislabeled. It is not, at base, a debt crisis, it is the inevitable result of a monetary union (the Euro) in the absence of a fiscal union. The inevitable solution is doing away with one or creating (one or more of) the other. Austerity has no role in the matter except to make everything worse while letting the Germans feel virtuous.
Appalachian Spring: The Department of Energy estimates that most of the easy to get coal has been gotten and that within three years the Central Appalachian coalfields will produce about half what they did in 2008. Luckily there are cheaper ways to continue extracting coal, but they are more destructive to the environment. Given a choice, the coal miners of Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee will chose mining over starving.