Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SAR # 8120

Demand destruction for gasoline is called unemployment.

Surprise, Surprise: Reports are filtering out of Zimbabwe that the government has been re-educating those who erred while voting in last month's election.

Stimulus Checks: You'll soon be getting some of the $168 billion Bush borrowed from China to make you forget about his other failures. Save the money, you'll need it to offset the increase in prices that borrowing the money will cause. Better yet, put the check in an airtight plastic bag and put it away. These mementos of the failed Bush presidency will become valuable collectors items.

Pirates: Last year the coast of Somalia saw 31 pirate attacks, some as much as 200 miles off-shore. Eighteenth Century Capitalism.

Striking Lessons: One thing to learn from the Grangemouth strike is that the UK is running out of oil and the world is facing production declines. Once the North Sea oil is gone, so too will be the jobs at Grangemouth and the jobs of all those who depended on the oil money and the jobs of those who depended on those who depended on the oil and pretty soon it is not going to be very pretty.

Flag Waving: Mussolini, Jr. appears to be winning the mayoral election in Rome, by promising to persecute the gypsies and get rid of 20,000 illegal immigrants. That's Rome, Italy, not Texas.

Damned Trucks: Economists suspect oil will hit $200 a barrel this fall as refineries buy more low-sulfur (and high cost) crude to make diesel fuel to power the world's commercial haulers. Of course if there is a serious recession the demand for trucks to haul stuff around will go down, as will the price of crude, employment and much else. Pick the outcome you like.

Reality Check: Starbucks has cut its earning outlook again, expressing surprise at how quickly their business model - over-charging for coffee - can collapse when gently nudged with reality.

Malthusian Moment: Why have world food prices jumped so? Population is increasing, but not at 86% a year like wheat. Incomes, and thus demand for better quality foods, are rising, but not at 128% a year like rice. No, it is simply this: Say there are only three hamburgers but five people, four of whom have money. This results in: one hungry person and four bidding like crazy not to become the second hungry person.

Investors' Kids: A survey of Lake Woebegone Wall Street professionals showed that 74% of them managed to beat the S&P again last year. According to them.

Bridges and Towers. Almost all US critical infrastructure was built by the lowest bidder and has been getting only marginal maintenance as state tax receipts fall. Businesses have focused on "efficiency" that is reflected in quarterly earnings reports, at the expense of long term planning and investment. Essay question: What major infrastructure component will fail first and how will it affect your life?

Which Part of "No"? Russia is very clear - even though its skies won't be - that it will not accept limits on its greenhouse gas emissions under the new climate regime, currently being negotiated. China feels pretty much the same way, so what's an Earth to do?

Chart porn of the day: the UK's trade balance; go look.

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