Basment Level: The European Central Bank cut interest rates to a new record low on Thursday, responding to a slump in inflation (that is to say, deflation) way below its target that has sparked fears the euro zone's economic recovery could stall. Well, it could, had there been a recovery To encourage spending, the ECB has cut its main refinancing rate to 0.25%, but observers say that the rate cut is not aimed at fighting deflation or spurring economic growth, but at weakening the euro.
Cloudy, With Scattered Women: The North Carolina DOT advised drivers to avoid an I-440 exit ramp because of problems caused by “women drivers, rain and Obamacare.” The DOT confirmed that their advisory system had not been hacked and that it was not raining.
Eye Wash: New legislation is being proposed to crack down on illegal money laundering. This could pose a problem for Too Big To Jail banks, especially in that it would hold bank executives personally and criminally liable for violations. The chances for any part of this actually becoming law are nil.
'Twas Always So: “Christians don’t want equality, they want supremacy.”
Poster Child: The EU/IMF/ECB say that following orders from Brussels and Berlin and doing everything it possibly could to keep unemployment above 12% long enough (five years) and forcing its people to accept housing equity losses of 50% and then finally dragging the country's GDP into positive territory at a whopping 0.2% growth after years of deflation, Ireland has achieved austerity's goal. Whatever that was;. The country has been so docile and compliant that it will get the last 85 billion euro installment of the ongoing bailout. Remember that all the suffering of the Irish over the last few years has been solely to bail out the debts of private bankers. Of course the higher taxes, lower spending and high unemployment with very little social services will have to continue far into the future in order to pay back the bailout money (which has all gone to non-Irish banks), but success is success, right?
Observed: The folks making economic policy in Washington are getting ever more resistant to evidence.
More Is Less: To pay less taxes, make more money. According to the IRS, the top 400 taxpayers had an average adjusted gross income of $202 million. That year, the top federal rate was 35%, but these folks managed to pay less than 20%. The top 0.1% with over $1.4 million in income paid 24%. And the 1% people, with over $344,000 in income paid just over 24%. And so it goes. The less you make, the greater percent of your income goes to taxes. And nobody pays anywhere near the posted "top" rate. And these 'incomes' do not include interest income and several other exceptions for the rich, so they made a lot more than cited and paid a lot less in taxes. It's the American way.
Is Our Childrens Learning? A school in Texas threw a 6th grader’s breakfast in the trash because he didn't have 30 cents to pay for the meal. There's a life lesson for him and his little friends.
Sic Transit Fat: The FDA says it will issue rules that “would all but eliminate artificial trans fats” from the marketplace, specifically “partially hydrogenated oils.” In order to keep using them, companies would have to offer scientific proof that their particular partially hydrogenated oils are safe to eat. Over the years, scientific evidence has shown that these PHOs are worse than any other fat for health.
Laugh Test, Fail: The FBI admits it “monitored” anti-war.com and some of its staff for over six years “by error”.
The View From The Top: Charles Munger, billionaire and vice-chair of Berkshire Hathaway says the government was right to bail out bankers and now homeowners because “There’s danger in just shoveling out money to people who say, ‘My life is a little harder than it used to be.’ At a certain place you’ve got to say to the people, ‘Suck it in and cope, buddy. Suck it in and cope.’” But the banks, he insists, need our help. Why, since the bailouts begun they've only taken home a tad over $2 trillion in bonuses.
The Parting Shot: