'Reducing costs' sounds better than 'reducing consumption'.
Correlation/Causation/Confusion: Retail sales fell a bit, consumer confidence fell a bit, and oil – West Texas Intermediate – also fell. But if you step back a bit, oil rose and then... A bit of history: At $20 a barrel we had conventional oil, at $40 we got offshore oil, at $60 we began getting Canadian tar sands stuff. Shale oil debuted at $80. How much will we pay for whatever comes next and how will that affect retail sales and consumer confidence? Chicken, egg, or omelet?
Trendsetting: In the last 6 years, student debt has doubled; wages, not so much. Don't worry, the taxpayers are good for the $1.1 trillion.
Bait and switch: Why is Obama doing this? If his cuts stand, Social Security payments will fall, cumulatively and significantly. Yet nearly half of US workers have no other retirement plan. Another 30% pretend they'll be able to live on woefully inadequate 401(k)s, but they won't – if only because they are borrowing from them in ever increasing numbers. And for unfathomable reasons, unions are conspiring with companies to reduce the benefits guaranteed under existing defined benefit plans. How many of our elderly will have to suffer how many years of poverty and deprivation before we come to our senses?
Hook, Line and Sunken: Portugal cannot pay its debts, no matter how much it further impoverishes its people. Most of the money is alreaqdy gone and when they've shipped it all off to Brussels and Berlin they'll still be in debt. Ditto for Greece, Cyprus and Spain. Who's first and who's next?
The First Cut Wasn't The Deepest: Financial shamans from the G20 are advising, nay insisting, that the world's largest economies be bled until either they're better or they're dead. Dead seems more likely, as the gurus want 'fiscal adjustments' made to lower debt to 90 and then to 60% of GDP. US debt is now at 105% of GDP and is unlikely to survive the 'bold structural reforms' that are need. For which read austerity, austerity, austerity.
Observed: The runaway inflation that the deficit/debt/suffering is good for you crowd has been predicting for four or five years has not shown up – even though Ben keeps on printing. So, like Englishmen in foreign places, they simply repeat themselves, loudly.
Greyhound Therapy: Since 2008, at least one Nevada-based psychiatric hospital has been putting its patients on Greyhound and sending them out of state. Health care givers have long brought in dogs to comfort their patients. Putting the patients on The Dog and waving bye-bye is a unique and money-saving therapy. 'Money-saving' being the operant term.
Reading Assignment: Even though many economists, most politicians and large parts of the public believe that the economics is a science with laws and such, it is not. The so-called Laws of Economics do not exist.
Orwell Would Be Proud: The US Department of Justice (sic) has forced Oregon to supply it with the identification of patients legally receiving medical marijuana. The medical records will be used in lieu of confession or legally obtained evidence of wrongdoing.
Democracy In America: Because of the tremendous cost of running for Congress, the 50,000 to 150,000 citizens who contribute significant money to candidates get to decide which candidates make it to the primaries. Primaries are decided by just over half of the less than 20% of us who actually bother to vote in them. Then just over half the 60 or 65% of us who actually go to the polls select one of the two candidates the intransigent partisans selected for us in the primaries from among the handful of sycophants who groveled sufficiently for the rich to give them enough money to show up at the party primary. Ah, democratic choice.
Porn O'Graph: Something else Exxon doesn't want you to see.
The Parting Shot: