Contain Your Excitement: Home equity has risen to $10 trillion – back where it was in 2007. Wall Street is all hot and bothered because the increase in home equity is supposed to make the homeowner feel richer and then spend more. Except the increase in home equity is almost entirely allocated to the investors – individuals and companies – that have been gobbling up houses and bidding up prices. Sort of a self-licking ice cream cone, and having little to do with real people.
Asked & Answered: Why does the USA rank 31st in internet speed? That's easy: ATT, Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon... profits and defacto monopoly made possible by the acolytes of deregulation.
Spring, Sprung: The Arab Spring in Cairo has led to a military dictatorship. In Libya it has led to chaos, with no functioning political system and with Islamist militants getting ever stronger while tribal factions in the eastern oil-producing districts are attempting to export oil and what remains of the central government is promising to sink the North Korean tanker the rebels have loaded with oil. The longer the economy flounders, the more young people with no viable future will drift towards radical solutions.
Packing On The Pounds: Researchers, when allowed, have determined that the use of antibiotics and the progression obesity in the US are not unrelated. The article is not easy to summarize, but it is important. Go read it.
Next: The US went into Afghanistan to pick up the mess the Russians had left. Now China is beginning to “work with Afghanistan and other neighbors to resolutely fight all terrorist forces.” Nobody reads Kipling anymore.
Well, Well: The United States Geological Survey has concluded that waste-water injection processes that are part of both hydrofracking and conventional oil production were responsible for a magnitude 5.0 earthquake which in turn “trigger[ed] a cascade of earthquakes, including a larger one.” And injection is the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of the waste-water from drilling, which is an interesting use of the word “friendly”.
Why Do You Ask? Economist are asking if there might be a recession in the US within the next decade, as though the current one was going to end sometime soon.
Ups And Downs: While the typical US consumer continues to deleverage – pay down the credit card balances – student and car loans keep growing. In February, in aggregate these accounted for all of the new consumer credit we ran up.
Brothers: The Russian government is seeking legislation granting Russian citizenship to anyone fluent in Russian who had once lived (or had family who had) “lived on the territory of the Soviet Union”. Ukraine, for example. Crimea, for sure.
Chicken: The U.S. government and the Russian government have both been forced into positions where neither can afford to back down.
Fox/Henhouse: At Fort Hood, TX, the sergeant in charge of coordinating the Fort's sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention programs has been charged with running a prostitution ring of cash-strapped female soldiers. British mega-charity Oxfam's one-time fraud prevention chief has been caught... defrauding Oxfam.
Porn O'Graph: The recovery. Seeing is disbelieving.
The Parting Shot: