Pending catastrophes are probably farther away than advertised.
Let Them Eat... The Merkozy are meeting again to solve the eurozone crisis again, this time through some form of Tobin tax. But the undercurrent at their meeting is the question of how many more chances Sarkozy will have and what happens if he loses out to a replacement who is less likely to turn over French budget and tax powers to Brussels.
On The Horizon: There is a major administration effort underway to create expectations around "solving the housing crisis" by converting foreclosed houses into rental units. Such a program would depend on "bulk REO sales to investors", but only if a way is found to pay the banks more than the houses are worth and let the investors buy them for less than they are worth. Guess who gets to cover the spread.
Bigger Truck: They lined up two deep in Berlin to lend Germany their money for six months for free. Actually, the interest rate was a negative 0.01%. Don't they know they're supposed to be worried about hyperinflation? The Netherlands sold securities due in March at a yield of zero a few days ago. It's not about the return on their money, but their worry about the return of their money.
Footnote: The last time Brent oil reached 88.50 euro/barrel was in August 2008, just before the wheels came off the wagon.
Clip & Save: United States Secretary of Defense ( and former director of the CIA) Leon Panetta acknowledged publicly that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons. "Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No." Contrast that with reports from unnamed 'diplomats' claiming that Iran is building bombs in a secret underground bunker. Probably the same bunker where Cheney was held all those months.... The US is also reported to have nuclear weapons.
Unexpectedly: Americans spent $13.6 billion they didn't have on cars in November, and put $5.6 billion more on their credit cards as non-revolving credit debt increased 10% and revolving charges went up 8.5% over previous months. And in America, where the entire economy depends on ever increasing debt, this was a good thing.
Caution, Men At Work: Since unemployment bottomed in December 2009, over 90% of all new jobs have gone to men - men have gained about 1.5 million jobs while women have lost 750,000 in the same time.
Careful Wording: Norway's Statoil says it has discovered "a second major oil reserve in the Arctic" with a possible 300 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalents. Note that it is "oil equivalents". Note also that 300 million barrels sounds a lot better than "has found enough oil to supply the world for three and a half days."
Philosophy 101: Should unemployment benefits be conditional on moral behavior? The Republicans, in December, wanted to deny benefits to those who do not have a high school diploma. Several GOPers want to drug-test applicants. Maybe we could require proof of attendance at church or Wednesday night bible study...
Succinct: The Romney campaign lies, all the time, about everything.
Microcosm: If you held any lingering hope at all that we were intelligent enough to avoid catastrophic global climate change, the GOP's success in preventing new energy-efficiency standards from going into effect should disabuse you of that fantasy. The American public insists it has the right to
piss in the commons keep dumping CO2 into the atmosphere until there is no more carbon to burn and to hell with the consequences.
D'ya Think? Locals living along the Gulf Coast say that BP's slick PR campaign, aimed at making people think the environment has recovered from the massive oil spill, is simply propaganda.