Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SAR #9175

The gene for common sense is apparently recessive.

Volume XIV or So: House prices in the US fell another 6.8% in April y/y, unemployment creeps ever upward along with foreclosures and someone's been trampling on the green sprouts. May house sales are expected to be down 3.6% y/y. The S&P/Case-Shiller index showed US house prices down 18.7% in March, y/y. All signs that don't say "New Reduced Price!" point to further declines.

It's a Job, Just a Job: About 25% of US firms have cut matching contributions to 401(k) plans, or eliminated them all together. It's bad enough that Congress keeps raising the minimum wage every 20 years or so. Read any of those articles about the new feudalism?

Perspective : Reconstruction of sea levels over the past half-million years, based on Antarctic ice core records, implies that even if we were able to stop putting CO2 in the air today - and we're not - we are already committed to a sea level rise of about 25 meters (80 feet). This estimate agrees with predictions based on data from the Middle Pliocene, 3.5 million years ago when CO2 levels were at today's level. More is assuredly not going to be better.

Lacuna: Have you noticed that the words "fraud" and "swindle" are missing from the discussion, and that "Ponzi" only applies to non-governmental schemes?

Plan-o-gram: Oil and gas producers are cutting exploration and production budgets by 15% this year. Don't seek and ye shan't find, don't find and ye shan't produce, don't produce and the price goes to $150 again. That's a plan.

Marginalia: In counting the unemployed, those who are "involuntary part-time" workers and those who have given up looking for a job are the "marginally attached". There are about 3 million of them. At the start of this downturn there were 1.7 unemployed workers for every job, now there are 5.4. Now it looks like we'll have a jobless recovery. I'm unclear on how that's going to work.

Speculating on Speculation: If you buy a stock, you generally do so because you expect its value to increase. That's called investing. If you buy a commodity in the hopes that its value increases, that's called speculating. Bad dog, down!

Time Marches On: California is the seventh largest economy in the world. It is suffering more than the rest of the states - unemployment, housing, taxation shortfalls - or at least earlier. Its government is set to expire in about 10 days. Washington cannot bail them out because then the rest of the class would want a cookie, too. This is not a spectator sport.

Porn O'Graph: On the dole, on the rise...

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