Repeat After Me: Pence, Marks, Francs, Drachma, Lira, Peseta...
Look Out Below: The seasonally adjusted all-items CPI fell in November at an annualized 0.23% rate. This is the second consecutive month of negative CPI “growth” - better known as deflation. Draw your own conclusions (hint, hyperinflation it's not).
Interesting Math: There are 17 signatories to the Euro treaty - but a proposed “amendment” says that if the amendment is passed by 9 of the 17, then the amendment will have amended the treaty and will not require approval by all the signatories. It's harder to pass something in the US Senate.
Closeout: The War on Iraq is over. What did we gain?
Seems Like Old Times (One): Now that the US has declared victory and
fled departed, Iraq's al-Maliki is solidifying his position as leader of the emerging democracy. His first step has been to confine his Sunni rival, VP al-Hashimi in his quarters, surrounded by tanks and APCs. For his safety, of course. Who said building a democracy was easy? Who said the US was building a democracy?
Quoted: “Christmas Day, originally a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ...” USA Today.
Old Times (Two): Egypt's military dictatorship has lost its patience with the protesters who thought they had achieved some measure of political freedom and sent its troops into Tahrir square where they killed at least 9 and wounded over 300. They were particularly vicious towards women who they beat with pipes and clubs in front of TV cameras, as an object lesson to those who thought anything but the name on the door had changed. Much like in the US.
Shocker! The White House has accused the GOP of playing politics with the payroll tax cut.
Unclear on the Concept: GOP wannabe Newt Gingrich says that if he were President he would ignore Supreme Court rulings he didn't agree with. Just like Bush/Cheney. And, he claims, if he becomes President at least 9 million people would leave the country, many of them undocumented immigrants.
...Fear Itself: TSA is now conducting random handbag and briefcase checks on the Washington DC Metro and Bus lines.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Last September, North Dakota pumped 464,000 barrels of oil a day. In 5 years it may reach 700,000 bpd. Before you grab the party hat and kazoo, reflect on the fact that the US imports over 15 million barrels a day and the world's existing oilfields are declining and produce 4.5 mbd less this year than last. That's 'm' for million. Party on.
One Liner: "Our predicament parallels [the] Long Depression of 1870s"
Funny Girl: The IMF's Christine Lagard says there is an increasing risk of "retraction, rising protectionism, isolation", similar to “what happened in the 1930s, and what followed is not something we are looking forward to."
The Pacific: Secretary Clinton says the future of global politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action. She did not say who the US planned on invading first. Or where the US would get the money do so.
On The Up and Up: According to the US Census, nearly half of all Americans are either poor or just scraping by. This is up from “just” 30% 5 years ago. The middle class is shrinking, and not because the upper classes are expanding. Only food stamps, tax credits and extended unemployment benefits are keeping millions more from scraping bottom. The right wing, however, says that safety-net programs have gone too far because “too many poor people live in decent-sized homes and drive cars.”
Countercurrent: Hungary is making the banks - especially foreign banks - take the losses on the rotten foreign-denominated mortgages they created. An interesting idea that won't catch on here.
It Pays to Be Rich: Since 1970, in the US, the top 1% have doubled the share of national they capture,while the poorest 20% have seen their share fall by 30%. The top 1% now take home 20% of all income, own 50% of all stock and have 33% of all the wealth in the country. This is far more lopsided than Rome ever was.