Ah, Wall Street: The US stock market rose this week as a series of disapointing economic reports lowered investors concern that the economy would pick up enough to let the Fed stop giving away money. Retail sales were weak. Consumer confidence plunged. Wall Street celebrated.
Not Exactly News: Bloomberg reported this week that the weak growth in factory jobs we've seen over the last three years (after 12 successive years of decline) is doomed because (gasp) it costs 9% more to make stuff here than overseas. Wonder how much a single-payer national health system would do to erase that.
Good Question: Why do we spend so much on 'security' but let Detroit go bankrupt? Or so many kids go hungry?
Happy Days Are Here Again: Rejoice brethren, for the rich have recovered, even as the great majority of Americans have not. Lo, for the top 0.01% had higher incomes in 2012 than they did at the height of the bubble, and regret that there's not enough to go around, that inequality is the inevitable way of the world. And when we say inequality, we're not talking about the highly educated, highly skilled workers in this country verses the less skilled, the Walmart greeters and the fast-food drones. No, friends, we are talking about a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction verses everybody else. Everybody else. Not the top 10%, not even the top 1%. It is the top 0.1% verses 99.9% of us. So it is written in the Market, so it must be.
From The Podium: “The federal government is basically an insurance company with an army,” and the insurance side (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) is pretty well and pretty leanly run – far better than any private insurance scheme. There's a teaching point in there somewhere.
Lesson From The Wilderness: It is five years since Lehman Brothers and the housing bubble taught us that the financial sector had to change in important, structural ways and could not be trusted to do so unsupervised. And during the intervening five years what we've learned is that finance isn't going to change. Maybe they need a little help.
Proportion: Some of Britain’s finest minds are drawing up a “doomsday list” of catastrophic events that pose a real threat to civilization and lead to the extinction of the human species. Bombs on airplanes, kids riding bikes without helmets, marijuana, carcinogens in food and the occasional dirty joke on TV do not qualify. The increasing complexity of our technology does, for one slip and we begin to unravel. The interdependent networks that deliver our food and energy do, because a small disturbance in the flow can led to real hunger and real suffering within days. Don't worry about the small stuff.
Warning,Steep Incline, Use Lower Gear: Goldman Sachs, with a fine disregard for reality, warns that as the economy improves and the Fed backs away from the QE stimulus, gold will fall precipitously. "Their central thesis: since the US economy is out of the woods, there’s no longer a need for gold as a risk hedge. But as one senior-level manager at a major investment bank noted, "Nobody knows what the f**k is going on..." Try this: Goldman is peddling its own bicycle.
Just One Of Those Things: Levels of tritium in the groundwater near the leaking storage tanks at Fukushima spiked to more than 15 times above the previous levels over three days this week. The reason for this is unknown. What is suspected is that Fukushima is "Out Of Control".
The Parting Shot: