Mission Accompliced: JPMorganChase is forking over $2 billion to make the civil and criminal fraud charges related to their part in Bernie Madoff's crimes go away (they knew he was running a Ponzi scheme, but didn’t do anything). This brings their stay-out-of-jail payments to the feds to $20 billion in the last year. And it has worked.
Door Number Three: The discussion goes on over the merits of fiscal and/or monetary policies in reviving the economy, with little notice given to the elephant standing over there pointing out that neither has done much good. And few economists seem to wonder why that might be; their theories say that one or the other or both will revive GDP growth. But what if an ever-growing GDP is dead, killed by high priced oil? What if the era of ever-growing GDP based on ever-growing consumption of resources and energy has ended?
Why is a dollar bill worth a dollar? Because it says so. "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." And because the government says so.
Can You Hear US Now? The US has told Afghanistan to quit stalling and sign away their independence now, before they get it. In reply, the Afghans say they will free 88 of the 'most dangerous' prisoners they hold. Could the uprising in Fallujah be an object lesson for Karzai? The US is refusing to re-arm the Iraqis for fear the weapons would end up on the wrong side in Syria.
The Leg Bone's Connected... Somewhere: Bill Dudley, President of the New York Federal Reserve Bank admits that "We don't understand fully how large-scale asset purchase programs work to ease financial market conditions." So why does the Fed think it understands what will happen when they stop those QE purchases of crappy assets at inflated prices?
Newly Revised Edition: There's now a better, more modern Bible, which blesses the money-changers and skips all that touchy-feely socialistic nonsense.
Rose, Rosa sp. There is no deflation in Europe, they say. Oh, sure, prices are falling in Cyprus, Latvia and Greece, but they don't count. But in spite of all the money the EU/ECB has thrown at Europe's economy, inflation is stuck at about 1%. Not quite deflation, not even stagflation, not yet, not admittedly. But just as the US can't get its economy moving, neither can Europe cure its problems. Mostly, one suspects they have mis-diagnosed the problem and made things worse with their supposed cures. Again, maybe there is not cure. Maybe the good times are all over.
Keep Off The Grass: China, which has long adhered to a "see no evil, say no evil" approach to various depredations in Africa, wants the conflict in South Sudan to cease immediately. Unusual, yes, but understandable. It's their oil after all.
Insurance 101: Dear consumers, here's how all health insurance works: You bet your monthly premiums that you are going to get really sick and run up a bill that's higher than your total premiums. The insurance company bets that you worry too much. When and if you do get sick and the bill is far more than you could have paid, the premiums of all the folks who haven't gotten sick yet go to cover your bill. The healthy subsidize the sick, and the insurance companies skim a pretty good living off the top. If only the sick got insurance, there would not be an insurance business.
Porn O'Graph: What goes up...
The Parting Shot: