Sunday, May 18, 2008

SAR #8139

The business cycle is bigger than the government.
David Rosenberg

Pander is as Pander Does: The government, in a bow to talk radio, will stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Quick, run down to the corner and see how much this 0.1% drop in demand will lower prices!

Penny Saved: Department of Veterans Affairs: "Given that we are having more and more compensation-seeking veterans, I’d like to suggest that you refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out." Supporting the troops.

Down Boy: Australia is seeing an sharp increase in pets being dropped off at local shelters, as owners choose between gas, groceries, and Rover.

Depends on the Champagne: Brian Bethune of Global Insight, Inc., shares this one: "It is definitely too early to uncork the Champagne on the long and winding road to more healthy housing market conditions." But we can let a cliché or two out of the bag.

Jumping Beans: U.S. foreclosures are up 65%. Bank repos are up 145% from a year earlier.

Cat, De-Bagged: A UN official disclosed that "unnamed foreign intelligence agents" including Afghans and personnel from a US Special Forces base have been killing Afghan citizens with impunity. We've been lobbing rockets into Pakistan again, too.

Too Wet Costly To Plow: Farmers are not rushing out to plow the North 40 because the costs of planting are rising faster than the prices for the harvest. There is little incentive to work longer and harder and risk more borrowed capital, just to break even.

Money vs Makeup: While government statisticians are busy putting lipstick on a whole herd of pigs, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley - neither of whom are running for re-election - warn that we are in a recession, have been for some time, and will be for a lot longer.

As the World Turns: The world's largest agricultural biotechnology companies are seeking hundreds of patents so they can profit from geneticly altered crops designed to withstand environmental stresses. Climate may change, capitalism hasn't.

Let's Play "Pretend": Financial Accounting Standard 157 allows companies to estimate a value on holdings that aren’t traded; that stuff makes up 23% - $157 billion - of Freddie Mac's assets. Loss? Nope, no loss here, move along.

Capone, C'pish? House Democrats are proposing to increase taxes on millionaires. Well, they've got more money than the single mom down at the Grab and Run.

Don't Mine Mine: Five years ago there were 10 uranium mining claims within 5 miles of the Grand Canyon. Today there are over 1,100 as prospectors and companies hope to get rich off public policy and public lands. Someone should remind them a river runs through it.

Hat, Rabbit: The Commerce Department reports "housing construction rose by 8.2 % in April." The fine print notes that the increase was in building apartments for all those folks chucked out of their houses by foreclosure. Single-family house construction continued to fall, but we're from the government and we don't do bad news.

Porn O'Graph: Housing Starts...over the cliff.

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