The dollar hasn't fallen, it's retraced its gains. - Mr. Bernanke.
Non-News News: This week's unemployment data is essentially unchanged from last week and the week before and the week before – initial claims are about half a million, total drawing unemployment is still about 5.5 million. It ain't getting better, it's stopped getting worse, and you wouldn't mistake it for a recovery. Come January, as a million former consumers run out of benefits, bankers will be getting over $30 billion in bonuses.
Coal for the Little Boys and Girls? Yields on January and February T-Bills are turned negative – what are folks expecting in the Christmas stockings that is so scary that they'll pay Uncle Sam to hold onto their money for them?
On Needling the Rich: Six reasons, with comments: They have more money so they pay more taxes. They indulge in philanthropy to assuage their guilt and lower their taxes. They give money to colleges to get buildings named after them and to lower their taxes. They spend money on luxuries, which creates jobs – but how many servants does one need? They have the money to buy up good ideas from inventive poor, it's called
vulture venture capitalism. And they have the money because they are smart and you are not and money is the only true measure of smartness in America. And lastly, God really wants them to be rich (and you to be poor). But the best use of the rich is as a target for satire.
More is not Better: Mortgage delinquencies continue to rise, reaching 9.64% of all mortgages in the third quarter. That's 4.5 million more of us on the road to foreclosure, and one in seven mortgages – 14% - are now either in foreclosure or delinquent.
Moderation: I should get credit for my restraint in not mentioning a study showing that my daily scotch lowers my risk of heart disease.
Remember: The “worst financial crisis in generations” happened after “eight years of basic neglect of basic public goods, in health care, in education, in public infrastructure, in how we use energy.” So said Mr. Geithner to a forgetful GOP Representative from Texas.
Just So Stories: Société Générale has advised clients to prepare for a possible "global economic collapse" in the next 2 years. Government rescues of the banks cured nothing, simply converted private liabilities into sovereign debt, which “looks entirely unsustainable. We have reached a point of no return for government debt.” Private debt is too high, too. If the US could maintain a 7% savings rate and use all of that 'savings' to pay down private debt, it would take a decade to reduce the debt to safe and sane levels. For the graphic tour, click here.
Predisposed: Some people are more empathetic than others because of their genetic heritage. The rest of us learn it socially. Or don't.
Pick A Number: Yesterday's report suggested house prices had a long way yet to fall to reach the long term trend line. Today another report says there's only a little way left to fall to reach the trend. The question seems to be which trend line (nominal, inflation adjusted), which prices (mean, median), and how long long-term is (since 1970, 1980, or 1990). Statistics.
The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly: Data provided by Celsias, “a platform for corporate social responsibility”, show that during 2008 US CO2 emissions fell by 3% and that they are on course to fall 9% more this year. According to them, "carbon emissions are declining and will likely continue to do so.” Meanwhile, a report in Nature Geoscience reported that CO2 emissions have increased 29% since 2000, and that these emissions continue to outstrip the ability of the earth's natural carbon sinks to absorb them. Coal has surpassed petroleum as a source of CO2, and developing countries now emit more than the developed countries. Global temperatures will increase by 6C if urgent steps to control CO2 emissions are not taken soon.
How long is a yardstick? The accepted standard for determining age via DNA testing have been underestimating the age of evolutionary events by 200% to 600%. Biologic events thought to have happened 100,000 years ago probably happened at least 200,000 and perhaps 600,000 years ago.
Porn O'Graph: CERA says we're going to discover our way around peak oil; this chart says it ain't happening.