After promise, performance.
No Problem: The 'Fiscal Cliff' is a non-starter. It is, unsurprisingly, a joke played on the public by the Republicans, with the willing connivance of the major media. There is no fiscal cliff. There will not even be a fiscal slope. Avoiding a compromise now (which would involve Republicans voting in favor of a tax hike for the rich) will let both the Rs and the Ds vote in favor of tax cuts for the rest of us sometime in January. And avoiding a grand compromise now means there does not have to be a vote to curtail Social Security benefits. As for the rest of the social programs, Congresscritters from both sides of the aisle will take credit for "saving" them. And no one was ever going to chop the Defense Department down to size anyway. Move along, nothing to see here.
Drain, Circling The: Spain's Bankia has a net worth of -4.2 billion euros. Its parent company, BFA, is worth a negative 10.4 billion euros. The government will bail them out. Who will bail out the government? The EU/IMF/ECB? Germany? Nah, eventually the taxpayers.
The Real Deal: Never mind the raucous but misplaced attention being focused on the 'fiscal cliff' and pay attention to this: The US will bounce off the debt ceiling on Monday. While the Treasury can play accounting games for a while, maybe a month or so, but once the tricks run out, a default on its obligations by the United States of America is not just a possibility, it is a sure thing. There are all sorts of things the Congress can do to make the fiscal cliff go away, but raising the debt ceiling is the only solution that will let the US avoid defaulting like the banana republic it has become.
Relativity: Initial unemployment benefit claims, at 350,000, is good news. Really.
Aide de Memoire: The inequality between the rich and the peasantry that gave rise to the 1905 Revolution in Russia was nowhere near as vast as the gap today between the rich and the rest in the United States, China, and - appropriately - Putin's Russia.
Is Growth Over? Yes, pretty soon, unless we come up with another planet to plunder.
Duh? Suddenly people are coming to the conclusion that forcing vast numbers of people to skip eating regularly etc. "may lead to an explosion of violence." Really? didn't the technocrats (and Germans, but I repeat myself) in Europe know that austerity measures like those imposed on Greece, Portugal and Spain would have... consequences?
Case Study: In 2008, parking at Chicago's meters went for 25 cents an hour. Then the city “privatized” the parking meters. Now the cheapest meter is $2.00 an hour, up to $6.00 an hour inside the Loop. And if a meter is out of service, the city has to pay up. And if there's a holiday... well, the meters never go on holiday. Privatization. Much better than having the government in the parking business, right?
The Revolting Masses: One way to understand America's love for low taxes and the Tea Party and silly things like California's Proposition 13 limiting real estate taxes and places like Tennessee repeatedly rejecting a graduated income tax is this: maybe the general population does not think that what it gets from the government is worth the price of admission. They've looked at the minimum wage, the lack of universal health care, deteriorating schools, roads, bridges, the complete lack of public transportation and have concluded, correctly, that they're getting screwed.
Porn O'Graph: Recipe.
The Parting Shot: