The history of humanity is written by the survivors.
War Drums: It is becoming clear that President Obama is prepared to use military force against Iran if it is necessary for his re-election.
Economic Silence: The appalling results of applying severe austerity measures to the Greek economy explain why conducting morality based experiments on whole populations is a poor idea.
House That Again? After over three years of pretending the gorilla was just a house pet, the executive branch has suddenly seen the light and is focusing on the housing, foreclosure, social unrest aspects of the dysfunctional economy. The banks are deep in trouble again and need more money injected, the housing rental program may well do the trick, while conning the public into thinking the project is for their benefit.
Volunteers: France and Germany have instructed Greece to accept the debt deal offered them, and has told private creditors they must take bigger losses. The 'or else' is a promise that promised EU/ECB/IMF funds will not arrive as promised. “We must see progress on the voluntary restructuring of Greek debt,” Merkel said. You, you, and you – step forward.
Sports Quiz: Does God care who wins a football game?
Fire Drill: China's imports increased only 11.8% y/y in December. Only. That's down from a 22% gain in November. This reflects a slowdown in China's rate of growth, which threatens the global economy, as if it weren't shaky enough already.
Look Ma! No Hands: Chris Cook delivers a long article about manipulating the price of oil, demonstrating it is possible to write a long article about oil without actually mentioning oil.
Ratings Game: Fitch Ratings says Italy, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Slovenia and Cyprus may see their credit ratings downgraded by one or two notches by the end of this month. Italy is the one to watch for, as Fitch says, “The future of the euro will be decided at the gates of Rome.”
Draining Swamps: Muddling through as a strategy assumes that there is an end to the muddle. Bailing out a Ponzi scheme with a new and bigger Ponzi scheme is also a questionable undertaking.
Mythology: Studies have repeatedly shown that the US is far less open and mobile in social and economic terms than other comparable nations. The studies also show that Americans do not believe this is true, which is why it continues to be true. US society is so unequal that it is hard to pretend the inequalities are not deliberate.
Trust: European banks have half a trillion dollars squirreled away at the ECB, rather than lend it to other banks & financial institutions or – heaven forbid – risk it on sovereign bonds or investments in the real economy.
The Cost Is Clear: A Florida Atlantic University study found that the sea level increase now anticipated over the next 20 to 30 years will bring flooding to South Florida cities, salinate drinking water, and drive up utility bills. Maybe the increased costs will drive home the point Dr. Hansen has been making for the last 20 or 30 years.
Porn O'Graph: Credit where credit is more or less not due.