Saturday, January 17, 2009

SAR #9017/Weekender

The children who survive will remember.

Gift Horse: We the Taxpayers gave BofA $138 billion - $1000 from each household in the US - that is more than two and a half times BofA's entire capitalization. So W-the-T not only own 100% of BofA, but we own it twice over! The rest of the rant is pretty good, too.

Maybe, Just Maybe: First we get a promise of Justice based on law, now it's to be a scientific approach to protecting the environment. If we get the politics out of climate studies it'll be a trifecta.

Roget's Revised: When the Treasury talks about the 'subsidy costs' of the TARP what they mean are the losses to the taxpayer. $1 out of $4 has been lost so far, but GMAC's stuff was a 3 out of 4 loss and AIG's 50%.

What If: Much of the new stimulus should go into infrastructure for small, locally oriented economies based on renewable energy and local agriculture - just in case this is not a cyclical downturn but the effect of peak oil bringing the old system to an end. An insurance policy that does no harm and may pay large rewards.

Two'fer: Nearly 2% of all US housing units were in some stage of foreclosure at some time during 2008. We'll get better at it this year.

Women and Children First: California is going to freeze $2 billion in tax refunds, $300 million in grants to the needy, aged, blind and disabled and, of course, nickel and dime children.

Opinions: Over 60% of Americans didn't and still don't want to give any money to financial institutions, and certainly not any more money. This is the same bunch of people who thought invading Iraq was a bad idea, so what do they know?

Definition: The Fed's report on industrial production showed that "consumer durable goods continue to show weakness", falling 21% year-over-year. Note the finely tuned use of the word 'weakness'.

Rhetorical Headline: Is the Bailout Constitutional? No. And how is it that only now the Republicans discover the executive branch has too much power?

The Good, The Bad and The Banks: Plot summary: The investor class gets the Good Bank . The taxpayers get the Bad bank with all the worthless paper. The Ministry of Truth proclaims another capitalist victory.

Real Rates: Where's the pain? Unemployment among college grads, 3.3%. Those over 25, 6%, Construction workers, 13%. Black males under 26, not reported.

A Little Knowledge: Oil is at $36 ! Well, West Texas intermediate (WTI/Feb) is at $36. But that's for oil sitting at Cushing, Oklahoma, a place from which you can't ship it anywhere except the local refineries. The price of oil is $45 a barrel in Northern Europe (Brent/Feb), $48 a barrel in Asia (Tapis), $46 in Dubai and so on. The price of oil depends on where it is and what (light, heavy, sweet, sour) it is. But most of it costs a lot more than the surplus stuff sitting around the desert in Oklahoma.

Hurry up and Wait: 34 Offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are still shut-in after the Gastave and Ike passed through. Don't need 'em right now anyway.

Casual Statistics: In each of America's wars from WWII through Desert Storm, pretty close to 12% of American combat dead were killed by 'friendly fire.' In Iraq and Afghanistan that number is 0.78%. That is statistically improbable, even if you don't include Pat Tillman.

Cutting Edge: A list of job cuts announced in one 24 hour period - they're not all big companies, but that's the point.

Curious Minds: Wonder why French cement maker Lafarge wants to sell off its North American operations now, just as Obama is going to pave the country with new infrastructure projects? Got any explanations that don't involve words starting with "D"?

Porn O'Graph: Death of the salesmen.


Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Well my goodness, of course not. The only casualties that matter are Americans; what sort of absurd sense of proportion do you have?

walker said...

Haven't heard word one about cutting spending on California's bloated prison system. So California will cut aid to handicapped and the sick but continue to pay through the nose to lock-up non-violent druggies and the odd fool who gets his "third-strike" stealing a 12-pack of Bud. Figures.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Kwark's right. Neither CA nor the US as a whole will cut back on the incarceration of citizens until absolutely forced; then the violent and the harmless will all get freed amid the general collapse.
Letting the pot smokers and generally harmless out would only inflate the unemployment figures anyway. And if they cut down on the prisoners they'd have to cut down on the guards and that would drive up the unemployment figures even more.