Wednesday, December 31, 2008

SAR #8366

The End is Near!

War There! War Now! There is a segment of the American press and public that thinks a "war" between Israel and the Palestinians is a Good Thing. First off, it is not a war - it's even more lopsided than the US vs Saddam 1.0 was. It's also not justifiable, but to find that out you have to read non-US media. Any non-US media.

Informed Source: Paulson's handed out another mumbo-jumbo explanation for giving GMAC another $6 billion. Asked if this would become a monthly occurrence, a Treasury official said there is no cap or deadline for aid to automakers.

Great Leap Forward? Trying to avoid another short-lived burst of consumerism, Mr. Obama wants to create 3 million new jobs. There now are only 1.5 million people unemployed in the construction field. How will he employ constructively employ all the unemployed cashiers, burger flippers, and unskilled Wall Street paper shufflers? Send them to the countryside with hoes?

Janus: Looking back, we find that all most of the experts were wrong. Looking forward, we suspect nothing will change.

Lessons Learned: Various pundits, from credentialed economists to respected financial commentators, keep assuring us that "they" won't repeat the mistakes that lead to the Great Depression and made it linger so long. I agree. "They" will make entirely new ones, and recycle some of the old ones - and give them new names. The results look to be the same.

Baby Steps: The SEC has halted a dangerous Ponzi scheme that had bilked over $23 million from investors. The scheme had been running for almost an entire year.

Blame: The blame for the collapse of the financial-capitalist economy belongs almost entirely at the doorstep of the CEOs and senior partners on Wall Street and their non-regulating co-conspirators they sent to Washington. Madoff was not the only crook in the room, nor the largest.

Again: The bad news is that Roubini's been making pronouncements again. The good news is he thinks the worst will be over by 2010. If.

Plan A.2: Governments have no Plan B. Those in power got their power the old fashioned way and are not about to give it up. Plan B is Plan A revised. The only system they know that gives them the power they want is the one that has already failed, so minor a fix that leaves them in control is what they're after. Much like Wall Street.

Santa's List: The FDIC's list of troubled banks has surfaced. Not the official list, but one constructed using the same criteria, sort of...

Check Kiting: Seems that Paulson didn't actually have the $5 billion he gave GMAC. But some of the money he'd previously given away hadn't been spent yet, so he used that. See, if you've got $350 in the bank and you've written checks totaling $350 but only $345 worth of them have cleared, you've still got $5. Right?

Progress report: Zimbabwe is going under. Pakistan is wobbling seriously. Riots go unreported in China. The Russian media report 'civil protests'. Greece has been burning for over 10 days. The riots have begun. Ah, Happy New Year.

Actual Facts: The old nostrum that the US was the destination of choice for investments is getting pretty threadbare. Private wealth - foreign private wealth, of course, there seems to be little domestic private wealth left in the US - is no longer sopping up Treasury debt. Seems that only China, Japan and Saudi Arabia are still rowing the boat. When they throw in the towel the drop in the dollar's value will be breathtaking. Reserve your seats now.

Footnote: New SEC rules will let companies count as an asset things that may or may not exist but that they think might show up. Starting with oil companies and what are called "unproven" reserves. My bank account is full of unproven reserves.


Anonymous said...

Great Leap Forward?

More jobs for illegals!

Anonymous said...

Roubini put some pretty stringent IFs on that 2010 prediction.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Just so. Roubini's conditionals were far more stringent than my mom's "conditions" ever were. The entry's been re-edited to make the point for those who don't click the link and read for themselves.
Thanks for the pointer - ckm

Anonymous said...

magicians' flash paper - absolutely
part of my lexicon going forward

many of my bookmarks are science
sites I've picked up reading SAR
the past few months. Thanks. The Leon Lederman interview on is worth the time. cool guy.