Wednesday, February 15, 2012

SAR #12046

Predicting “what” is easy, predicting “when” is the trick.

On Again Off Again: After a "Yes she is" "No she's not" tug of war in the news media, the current story is that the eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels to consider Greece's austerity plan is a non-starter. Apparently the finance ministers do not consider the Greek plan sufficient even to warrant discussion. Eurogroup President Juncker said that the prerequisites established by the EU had not been met - specifically in the matter of political assurances. In other words, the EU would like the Greeks to at least pretend they're going to do some of the things in their proposal.

Real Tale: According to Commerce Department data, January's auto sales grew over December's. According to just released retail sales data - which came in at just half the expected increase - auto sales were the weakest part of the overall 0.4% growth. December's retail sales were revised sharply downward, to a -0.5%. Note, too, that the unadjusted decrease of $98.5 billion in sales was the biggest one month drop in retail sales history. Merry Christmas and many Happy Returns.

Compounding the Interest: What's the sustainable long-term growth rate for the world population? And what's the sustainable long-term growth rate of the world economy? The answer to both is "Less than zero."

Creative Destruction: The worst aspect of the free market's creative destruction is that what is getting destroyed, at least in Greece, are the citizens. 25% of Greek companies have gone out of business, half of those that remain open cannot pay their employees, suicide is up 40%, hospitals have shortages of medicines, half the young people are unemployed... and so on. The country is collapsing into anarchy. The fundamental problems are two-fold. Yes, the euro is fatally flawed, but bankers and private investors fucked up and lent far too much money to obviously uncreditworthy borrowers. Competent bankers could have prevented most of this.

Band On the Run: The Republicans are betting that Congress will never be able to reinstate the long-deferred payroll taxes, and that they can use that as a stepping stone to abolishing Social Security once and for all.

Parageography: In my mental geography, America is not a place where 1.5 million children are homeless, where in some schools half the children arrive without having had breakfast, where families live in tent cities around major urban areas or in Las Vegas storm drains. I must be remembering another country.

One for All and All for One: Health-care costs overall fall when poor, uninsured patients are provided with coverage. “The use of primary care increased but use of emergency services fell, and -- over time -- total health care costs declined" by over 50%. Universal single payer health care is the most affordable way for the nation to make sure that decent medical care is available to all.

The Final Solution: The whole housing mess - from fraudulent foreclosures to underwater homeowners and banks pretending to be solvent - can only be resolved when the underlying problem is addressed. And what might that be? It is that Americans owe hundreds of billions of dollars that they will never be able to pay back. Much of it will have to be written off and our beloved leaders haven't the foggiest idea how to do this without pulling the whole thing down on our heads.

Blowback: If the fantasies and fabrications of the GOP wannabes are truly representative of modern conservatism, the conservative base they are wooing is simply delusional. For over a generation the GOP has appealed to blatant racial prejudices and social fears and delivered tax cuts and deregulation to the rich while blaming "the liberals" for the Republican destruction of middle class America. Now they reap what they have sown, which explains why those guys in the tinfoil hats are on television all the time, telling lies about each other.


TulsaTime said...

I can remember reading about how congress in general and the public in particular, just would not stand for having to pay for all the goodies. This was in 1973 if my abused undergrad memory serves. And what is going on now is the same problem writ large, let somebody else pay for it. We are the else.

Drewbert said...

I think you missed a "without" in The Final Solution.

Usman said...

Hey, I really like your site. Thanks!

CKMichaelson said...

Drewbert - Right you are. What would I do without the unpaid help...


Anonymous said...

re: One for All and All for One:

I'm thinking that's not the goal.


kwark said...

RE: One for All and All for One: I'm with Anonymous. Reducing medical expenditures is DEFINITELY not the goal of our corporate overlords!

CKMichaelson said...

You mean this isn't The Best of All Possible Worlds?