Glass Houses: US politicians and pundit should take a break from the premature celebration of the ruble's collapse and try to figure out how much damage low oil prices are goingto do here at home - it's not just their problem. Could Russia eventually default? Yes. Would it have an even worse impact on the world's economy than Lehman's collapse? You bet. Would an economic collapse unseat Putin? No, not for a couple of years at least, and in the interim he'll be even more nationalistic, aggressive and dangerous. The Russian people want a strong leader, and a few missed meals will be a small price to pay for what they see as Russia regaining its place in the world.
Stocking Stuffer: Religion aside, studies can find no empirical evidence that suggests that the private sector is any more efficient than public undertakings.
Bankruptcy: Iraq, pleading poverty, has asked Kuwait if it could defer making scheduled reparation payments for the oil facilities Saddam destroyed before the US destroyed Iraq. Why does current day Iraq have to pay for the crap that Saddam did?
Gobblization: Economic research suggests that buying all that stuff from Walmart has sent 3.2 million US jobs to China. When they ship all those conexes back to China they fill 'em with jobs, our jobs.
Just Because: Marco Rubio (Wannabe-FL), in an effort to draw publicity and keep the South Miami Cuban vote) has promised to block Obama's efforts to normalize US/Cuban relations, which have been frozen for twenty more years than Rubio's been alive. To no good end. Both, actually, the embargo and Rubio.
Entrails: November's CPI fell 0.3% m/m, but fell only(?) 0.1% if you didn't drive to the grocery store. This is the largest decline since Dec 2008. So much for any rate hike from the Fed anytime soon. Housing permits issued last month fell 5.2% and housing starts fell 1.6% m/m.
Union Cards: NY Gov. Andrew (I'm Not Mario) Cuomo has notified about a thousand state employees that they are managers or hold 'confidential' positions and thus can no longer belong to the public employees union, because the union doesn't always agree with him.
Essay Question: Why are commodity prices falling? For extra credit, define “bubble.”
Impact Wrench: Texas has been home to 40% of all the new jobs created since June 2009. In 2013, the city of Houston had more housing starts than all of California. Much of this is due directly to oil. Now oil's impact is likely to be more negative than positive, with lower employment and the negative effects that'll have in the state. We've seen this movie before and we know how it ends. The oil-rig count is already dropping, and it will continue to drop as long as oil stays below $60. Yes, US oil production may rise a bit next year as projects that are 50-60% done now are completed, but after that production and new drilling will both begin to fall, and then employment and construction and all the consumer stuff based on the oil fields will crater and investors will flee the oil patch. Saudi Arabia is betting on it.
Be Of Good Cheer: The number of first-year law students in the US is at a 40-year low. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.