Cue Leonard Cohen: On how many days during all of 2013 did JPMorgan lose money? Zero. None. Not one. Hum along.
The Masters' Voice: The Royal Bank of Scotland, 81% owned by the British government, has been told to focus on retail and commercial banking and to forget about investment banking and its international operations. It will be cutting up to 30,000 jobs and goodness knows how much in the way of ill-gotten gains.
Out To Lurch: Europe is one external shock away from a lurch into outright deflation. Europe, meet Ukriane.
Self-Loathing In The South: Determined to remain a plantation society, South Carolina is glad to have nonunion jobs from BMW, Michelin and Boeing, but explicitly does not want any unionized plants - Chrysler, Ford, GM and other unionized companies are not welcome. According to the Governor, “It’s not something we want to see happen.” Which the SC Manufacturers Alliance seconds. “Organized labor has no place down here, we don’t need them." The South may rise again, but it's going to be a long, long time a'coming.
And Then The Economy Collapsed: Highlights from the FOMC transcripts from 2008.
Worst Aid: Obama & Friends intend to cut the money paid to insurance companies providing Medicare Advantage plans, beginning in 2015. The plans, which about 28% of Medicare beneficiaries use, are a gravy train for the insurers, but expect the plans to become stingier, with smaller provider networks and higher co-pays while the insurers maintain their profit margins. This will make the questionable value of many MA plans even more questionable, which may be the point.
Has QE Been Effective? Depends on how much money you had to start with.
Attack of the Buzzwords: The G20's finance ministers have arrived at "an unprecedented" agreement to disown austerity as an idea somebody else had and to "return to strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the global economy". This will be accomplished through "ambitious but realistic policies... to lift our collective GDP by more than 2%" leading to $2.0 trillion in additional growth and "significant additional jobs." They are also going to "enhance trade." Not a word of their announcement suggested a single concrete step any of them were going to take.
Have we been living in an age of austerity? Yes.
Dry Spell: The Feds have told California farmers that there will be no irrigation water available for California's Central Valley this year. This is the first time in the 54 year history of the State Water Project that there was no water to distribute. California
Retire Now: You still have time to do what you love, to discover the joy and freedom of working until you die. As Keynes noted, in the end you're dead.
Porn O'Graph: It's a gas!
The Parting Shot: