Government: a protection racket that makes laws.
Wrong Map: Wall Street, CNBC, the Fed and the Administration all act as if economic recovery were just a bailout or two away. If recovery means returning to the credit-driven consumptive binge of the last 20 years, recovery is not going to happen. Just ask the family that just lost their job, their house and their dreams how long it'll be before they get sucked into that trap again. My dad lived for 50 years after the depression and never, ever forgot. Nor forgave.
Pop Quiz: What will global warming look like? Australia.
Faster, Not Better: Over 40% of those getting a mortgage modification fall 60 days behind in their payments after only 5 months. Another victory for the Paulson-Bernanke-Geithner team.
Slowdown: Some US states' tax collections are so far below normal that the states cannot send out tax refunds to their citizens promptly because "we don't have the money."
Pay Me Now, Pay Me Later: Saudi Arabia has threatened to keep its petroleum at home if the world doesn't promise to pay it for the oil it won't have when the oil runs out. It also wants to be paid for the oil it won't sell because burning it causes global warming.
Contrary Souls: Corporate fundamentals are historically awful, with little hope of improvement, so naturally the stock market rallies on the hope of unearned riches.
Basics: Capitalism is about failure. Good businesses rise from the ruins of badly run ones. If the government, the society, becomes a deus ex machina dispensing taxpayer cash to prop up failed institutions, this is not preserving capitalism. It sort of a reverse socialism, the worst kind of socialism, protecting the oligopoly at the expense of everyone else.
The Annual Return: Federal fisheries managers have again this year canceled California's commercial chinook fishing season in a probably doomed attempt to save the fishery.
True Tales from Accounting: Wells Fargo is projecting a record $3 billion in first quarter profits. Hey, they're doing okay on the $25 billion the taxpayers lent them.
Now and Then: Weekly jobless claim numbers are a tad below expectations, while the Fed's meeting minutes indicate they expect unemployment to rise steeply throughout 2009 and into 2010 before leveling off. Continuing unemployment claims rose to yet another all-time record, at 5.84 million.
If/Then: Economist James Hamilton of UCSD shows that every postwar US recession but one was preceded "by a dramatic increase in the price of crude petroleum." If the price of oil got the recession started, then relieving the banks of their toxic debts may not be the solution...
Shadowland: U-6, the unemployment number that actually counts all of the unemployed, is well on its way to the 20% mark. That's why the government doesn't talk about it.
Stiff Upper & All: Great Britain's National Institute of Economic and Social Research says the UK's economy has contracted 4.2% in the last year and that the economy will not recover for two more years. Cheers
Porn O'Graph: Belts, tightening.