Credit worked better when we thought of it as borrowing money.
Proud To Be An American: The latest data shows that the number of US children living in poverty has increased 25% since 2000. Virginia has passed a ‘ritual humiliation law’ designed to stigmatize women seeking abortion and a partisan GOP crowd booed at the mention of contraception, while Rick Santorum claimed the President was "in bed with the Muslim Brotherhood" and threw dictator Hosni Mubarak "under the bus." The best (or worst, depending) Romney could do was to allege that Obama's re-election would be the prelude to the use of nuclear weapons.
Batter Up: Now that the EU/ECB/IMF have brought Greece to its knees, Portugal - by majority vote - will be next. Already the poster child for adopting severe austerity measures such as brutal tax hikes and sharp reductions in pensions and unemployment benefits and as a result falling into a deep recession, Portugal seems unlikely to avoid suffering mightily for having done so. The country is the next domino destined to fall in the course of rescuing the European bankers from their bad investments.
Usual Suspects: Research shows that 5% of Americans account for 50% of America's total healthcare costs. Any suggestions?
Steady As She Goes: The Labor Department reported initial unemployment claims were unchanged from last week at 351,000 - after last week’s figure was increased by 3,000. Looking ahead, the Postal Service said it will lay off 35,000 by May.
Whistle/Graveyard: North Sea Brent oil, priced in euros, has reached the highs of 2008, just before the crash.
Going Down? House prices are down 33% and, according to Gary Shilling, have another 20% to go. With 90% of mortgages only written because of Fanny, Freddie and FHA guarantees, the increases in origination fees and the return of some degree of sanity in credit requirements have slowed both new loans and refinancing. The deliberate slowdown in foreclosures is coming to an end and are now expected to rise, putting more houses on the market at ever lower prices. One of the few positives, if speculation is a positive, is that an increasing number of
speculators investors are looking for bargains – over 30% of sales are now all-cash.
Moderation In All Things: The EU now predicts a 'moderate recession' in 2012, with the 17-nation GDP falling 0.3%. Greece is expected to be down 4.4%, Portugal down 3.3%, and Germany to be the winner with a 0.6% annual growth rate. Last November they were predicting an overall growth of 0.5%.
The Payoff: Newt Gingrich - who is spending $3 for every $2 he raises - has again been told to stop paying "questionable reimbursements" to himself and his friends from campaign funds, including $88,000 to Gingrich himself in January. Understandable, now that he's no longer getting $25,000 a month as the Fannie Mae historian.
Don't Worry, Be Happy: At a modest $3.50 a gallon for gasoline and a 15 gallon tank, it will take the single mother working at Wallyworld or the local drive-in at least 6 hours just to earn enough to fill up.