Saturday, January 3, 2009

SAR #9003/Weekender

The idea of Wal-Mart Nation is not as scary as Flea Market Nation

On Schedule: Russia is accusing the Ukraine of siphoning off gas intended for Europe - as planned by both sides. This will force the EU to underwrite Ukrainian gas usage again this winter. Follow the bouncing ball.

Here's a TIP: The US Treasury will use "extreme discretion" in secretly buying worthless paper from troubled financial institutions (such as $300 billion from Citi in Nov) because (1) it hasn't any money to do this with, (2) it hasn't any authorization from Congress to do this, and (3) letting the public know what it was doing would be embarrassing because (4) it's illegal.

Ante Up: If spending another trillion dollars will solve our problems, wouldn't spending two trillion make us even better? Oh, wait. We're giving that trillion to the states.

Culture Shock: The of Friends of Bernie are reduced to selling their artwork off to pay for lawyers to sue Madoff and the SEC. Ought to be some good bargains at the auctions this spring.

Past as Prologue: Massive injections of liquidity have previously lead to insane bouts of inflation, but it's different this time. It's always "different this time", until it's not.

Scale: Before we start a war over the resources in the Arctic, let's remember that the USGS estimate is just that, an estimate - which at this point is pretty much an optimistic guess. And that optimism sees just 90 billion barrels of oil - not quite a 3 year supply. No matter what you were told, Virginia, there still is no Santa Clause.

Damned Numbers: Reports claim that the world's oil reserves increased 10,5 billion barrels last year. Great, that's an increase of 0.8% - one third of what we used. So now all we have to do is cut our use by 2/3rds.

Bank R US: Citibank has been nationalized - at least to the point where Uncle Sam controls who gets to ride on the company jet, how much egg nog to buy for the holiday party and who gets how much of a bonus. Can they do something about my Visa bill?

Resolution: Memo to self: Feel more angst for insurance companies during 2009.

Don't Know: The reason Paulson hasn't told Bloomberg and FOX where the TARP funds went and what collateral was taken in return is that the Treasury finds it "challenging" (their word) given the amount of money dispensed and the number of institutions which have or may have or might one day receive funding...

Let's Try This! The tinkering gene is starting to lobby for funding to undertake world-wide experiments aimed at screwing up the environment even worse - in the name of saving us from ourselves.

Consider the Sources: The economy will turn up by summer with unemployment peaking at 8%. That's what a majority of profession forecasters employed by big banks, corporations and thier trade associations say. Just because they didn't see any of this coming and have called "bottom" six times in the last 9 months doesn't mean they might not be right this time.

Preventive Prevention: The Department of Homemade Security is working on a machine that will look you in the eye and predict if you are going to do something bad one day. Sort of a detector of future lies. They say "it looks very promising". Looks like I'll be staying home.

Pigs Fly! Berkshire Hathaway lost 32% in value last year. I actually beat Warren! Only by a couple of percent, but I'd have done better if my wife hadn't found my hiding spot.

Gunfight at the OK Coral: A sudden and dramatic decline in the growth rate of corals making up the Great Barrier Reef is "unprecedented in at least the past 400 years." Decalcification. It is caused by the increasing acidification of the oceans which is caused by the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which hasn't been accepted by Big Coal as a cause of all these little problems.

Amnesia: While US car sales fell 37% in November, hybrid auto sales dropped 53% as the US customer lined up to line up at the pump again real soon.

Bottom Ahoy! The common man - by that I mean anyone too poor to have been bankrupted by Bernie - withdrew a massive $320 billion out of his mutual funds in 2008. When the commoners start running for the hills is a good time for the wily to invest. You first.

Porn O'Graph: 'Delinquents' use to be kids in rolled up T-shirts.


Anonymous said...

"...growth rate of coals". A typo, I realise, but there is a coal angle there so maybe best left uncorrected.

Many thanks for the daily digest.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Good catch. After a short debate I decided this was not a happy accident and corrected the spelling - although there certainly is a "coal" angle to the coral problems...

Degringolade said...

Good morning:

Just sat down and started reading and have a comment on your headline.

You see, I think that flea market nation is much preferable to Wal-mart nation. I think that flea markets are a natural and organic way to redistribute the excess that we have generated in our society.

I fully realize that things are going to suck for quite a while (unless a miracle occurs, and they are chancy things). Traipsing into Wal Mart just isn't part of the solution to our problems. The problem has to be worked trough.

I actually like the concept of flea market nation. That will mean that folks are working out a new system, that there is a working amount of scoietal trust, and there is stuff being redistributed.

Wal-Mart just means more of the same...time to move on.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

D- Excellent point - FMN may be the way we start reforming society and economy, which certainly needs doing.
But I remember going through a divorce, and while I'm much better for having done so, the 'doing' part was not a lot of fun.
And the alimony our current system extracts is going to hurt, too.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to your next installment! Hope we don't have to wait too much longer. Our first alimony payment must soon be paid and we need another serving of sardonic humor, with a side of moral outrage, to carry us through.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

SAR is published six days a week, every week. Just click on

Soon, you've got a lot of catching up to do!