Friday, March 9, 2012

SAR #12069

All seven billion of us would like to eat on a regular basis.

Hot Air: Household debt rose nearly 7% during 4Q2011, the first increase in over 3 years. In that wages are stagnant, it looks like we're back to blowing bubbles. Non-financial corporations, on the other hand, are sitting on $2.2 trillion in cash because they don't see any reason to expand their businesses.

Memories... Allegations that the Afghan Air Force is in the drug running business brings back memories of Viet Nam.

Oh To Be A Lawyer: Trustees for MF Global are telling customers whose money Corzine and company made off with that they can have some of their money back if a) they promise not to ask for any more of it back and b) they give up the right to sue to get the rest of their money back and c) promise not to seek civil or criminal penalties. Does James Gandolfini practice law now?

Says Who? Gallup's real-time economic polling measures US employment at 9.1% in February, and U-6 unemployment to be at 19.1%. Both figures show a significant deterioration since the mid-January report. The BLS data is expected to be much rosier after appropriate seasoning has been applied.

Secret Recipe: One way to improve a restaurant’s profitability is to steal ‘unlawfully confiscate’  part of the waitstaff's tips. Worked for Batali.

Grade A For Appetizing: In the early 1990's the Bush I Agriculture Department ruled that 'pink slime' – a substance made mostly of heavily bleached ground up connective tissue and slaughterhouse floor sweepings that had previously been considered unfit for human consumption – was in fact a fine food. Today about 70% of all ground beef in the US contains pink slime. We've grown to like the taste.

Laugh Test: The Labor Department said that initial unemployment claims increased 11,000 to 362,000 this week – because of school vacations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island [sic].

Ignorance Is Bliss: The Republican controlled Arizona Senate passed a bill encouraging legally protecting doctors who chose not to tell parents about prenatal problems that might lead to a decision to abort a fetus. The doctor, and the legislators, know best.

Nothing Plus Nothing: The average negative-equity FHA mortgage is 15% underwater, while the average non-FHA insured ones are 26% underwater. The difference is hardly significant, you can drown in a bathtub.

Teaching Austerity: Many of America's austerity programs end up focused on the schools. Economically stressed families are sending increasing numbers of hungry, tired, poorly dressed children to schools with fewer teachers, larger class size, and fewer “non-essential” frills like art and music classes. Top this with the constant micro-managing from administrations focused on test scores and the result is a majority of teachers who are unsatisfied with their work. If they're so unhappy, why don't they quit? Well, the teacher I'm married to did.

Reinforcements: Now it's LPS that's reporting house prices fell 1.0% in December, 1.2% in January, m/m and 3.9% y/y. The LPS index is off 31% from the peak - and is at a new low. Another new low.

Collateral Damage: Monsanto’s Roundup has removed 90% of the milkweed from corn and soy fields, but in doing so it has decimated the monarch butterfly population which relies on milkweed for both food and habitat. It's the interconnected web of life we keep tripping over.

Porn O'Graph: An education on return on investment.


rjs said...

re household debt:

i get a 43% increase in January consumer debt owed to the federal government over 2010s first quarter (under major types of credit)

thats student loans..

CKMichaelson said...

Yeah, there's been a lot of stuff about student debt on the 'net of late. It is another of those didn't-think-it-through programs we keep doing to ourselves. Maybe an entry on the weekend version of SAR.


Anonymous said...

The BLS inflation calculator reports that $1.00 in 1991 was equivalent to $1.58 in 2008, so it appears that college costs are in line with the CPI. Earnings of young college grads, on the other hand, appears to be about 1.10 on the graph, or about 0.5 below the CPI trend. It's not college costs that are so high, it's wages that are so low, and thus it's no wonder that so many college loans are in arrears.

Anonymous said...

RE: Nothing Plus Nothing:

Good one!


Anonymous said...

Secret Recipe:

The story about tip gouging does not state how this is done. May I suggest that it is easily done if you tip by credit card. The waitstaff is then beholden to the manager to get its share of the CC money kinda like an MF Global customer.

So, don't tip through the credit card, give the money directly to the waitstaff.

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

Not only do I tip in cash at restaurants, I pay in cash - since I read that this is one of the likeliest places to have your credit card info stolen and misused.

CKMichaelson said...

I agree. I don't understand why the waiters at that little cafe in some tiny town in Tuscany have palm-sized card readers they use to swipe your card and print out the receipt yet we have to let our servers cart our cards out of sight.


rjs said...

anon @ 10:59

chart from: