Storytelling: So, is this “a correction” or the end of a bull market? It'll take several weeks to be sure and by then you'll have made the wrong decision several times. There are a plethora of explanations for the sudden shift from excited bullishness about double-digit gains to a haunting fear that the party might be over – just remember that these stories come from the same folks who were telling happy stories last week.
He's My Brother: Nearly half of New York City food pantries/soup kitchens report running out of supplies following the Republican dismemberment of the food stamp program. Even before the reduction in SNAP benefits, about 40% of NYC recipients used food pantries to supplement their food budgets. Now about 25% of pantries report having to turn people away. But on the positive side, just like cutting unemployment benefits will, at least in Republican minds, reduce unemployment, cutting food for the hunger will do away with hunger. What'll we do with the corpses?
What Could Go Wrong? When I was young and impressionable (I'm no longer young) I was taught to consider well-run companies when their stock PE dipped below 10 and to flee when their PE rose toward 20. Netflix, a recent darling of the punditry, is selling at about 300 times earnings yet has no free cash flow. Hmm.
Blame Where Blame Is Due: Technology is, to some degree, responsible for the cheapening of labor in the US and the evaporation of jobs, but it is only part of the story. The destruction of unions in the US and the export of jobs to the lowest bidders overseas play a far greater role. “The robots are coming” is an excuse, not an explanation. Technology may contribute to creating wider choices for consumers, but it does little to create consumers, i.e. people with jobs and incomes.
Notice: The lottery is over, you are not a winner. Next time chose richer parents.
Half A Loaf: Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, having lost control of cities across the western part of the country and faced with an ongoing occupation in the center of Kiev has offered to make a deal with the pro-European Union democracy movement; he would continue to do exactly what they don't want if they would only give up and go home. With an unerringly tin ear, the US has chosen the side of an authoritarian regiem over democracy once again.
Progress: Over 10,000 Ohio food stamp recipients lost that benefit this month because they did not spend at least 20 hours a week working, going to school, attending job training, or volunteering. Ohio Republicans hope to kick another 140,000 adult recipients who don't have dependent children off food stamps for the same reason over the coming months. new work requirements because apparently that makes sense in some other world.
First Count of the Indictment: The Trans-Pacific Plundering agreement will establish a regulatory framework that meets the demands US pharmaceutical and digital technology behemoths, permitting them to 'evergreen' drug patents indefinitely. The US is also demanding a clause which could give major corporations the authority to to overturn laws made by governments in their national interests if such laws interfere with profits. The US trade rep insists that the TPP “is going to be completed..: The 'or else' was implied. The US insists that the TPP be approved before the text of the agreement is made public.
Leadership: John Boehner now admits that he “led” the Republican efforts to shut down the government last fall not because he thought it was a good idea or that it would succeed, but because “a leader without followers is simply a man taking a walk.”
The Parting Shot: