Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SAR #9330

We're Americans, history doesn't apply to us.

Tattle Tale: The IMF says that banks around the world and up and down Wall Street are hiding some $1.5 trillion in toxic debts that remain on their balance sheets. The unrealized losses on these bad loans “ threaten the solvency of many institutions.” The banking systems of advanced economies “remain undercapitalized”.

Just Great: Australia's Great Barrier Reef has only a 50/50 chance of surviving if global CO2 emissions are not cut by 25% by 2020. Book your trip now.

Party On, Dude: There's a very strong argument that high oil prices in 2008 were the trigger that popped the housing debt bubble. Yet Big Oil and its fellow travelers -cars, suburbia, finance, media (advertising) and politicians want us to party on, even though many know there are huge problems ahead as oil production declines. Despite prompting since 1981, we have no plan for this disaster. Once petroleum becomes scarce, today's admirable 'just in time' efficiency relying on global transportation will become unworkable.

Asked and Unanswered: How much would you pay to save the world?

Talking Their Book? Fitch Ratings downgraded Mexico's foreign debt to BBB in the shadow of its collapsing petroleum income. Goldman Sachs said this was “unnecessary roughness,” because Mexico was going to pull a rabbit out of the sombrero by increasing taxes. What Mexico has to tax other than petroleum and illegal drugs wasn't specified.

Overused: The continuing economic slide has made the term “worse than expected” expected. And rightly so in the case of the S&P/Case-Shiller house price index. Down 9.4% y/y.

Water is Wet: Opponents of health care reform keep harping about the increase in costs. Of course it will cost more – it will insure about 35 million more people, many of whom cannot qualify for private insurance because they are sick or likely to get sick. For-profit insurance companies long ago figured out they wanted nothing to do with actual sick people.

Always Wrong: Now that nearly everyone has become bullish, or pretends to be, a serious downturn is nearly guaranteed.

The Story Thus Far: If all the world's population used as much of the planet's resources as Americans do, we would need five more Earths. Luckily the huddled masses seem content to wait their turn. So we keep telling ourselves.

Tea Leaves: Stocks and commodities continue to rise as the dollar falls on the perception that record low interest rates will last until “late 2010, perhaps later in terms of 2011,” encouraging the bubble in assets to continue to move higher. Eventually the stock rally will grind to a halt as the global recovery slows, spurring demand for the perceived safety of the dollar. A minority of forecasters, those rated "most accurate" by Bloomberg, see the dollar continuing to fall through 2010, reaching $1.58 to $1.60 per euro, while the majority (of less accurate forecasters, presumably) expect the dollar to gain against the euro. Bond investors (with unemployment above 10 percent and housing taking another downturn) happily lodge their money with the government at zero interest to preserve their capital. Stock investors (with greed and hope in their briefcases) feel continued low borrowing costs and the $12 trillion in stimulus will inflate earnings and chase up stock prices.

Brother Can You Spare a Kidney: In order to get by during this Great Recession people are selling what they have – themselves. Hair, plasma, sperm, eggs, spare parts...

The List: The national debt is $12 trillion. We've promised ourselves about $100 trillion in benefits we've got no chance of paying. The global temperature's going up 4 to 6ºC, the glaciers are melting and the oceans rising. Swine flu is mutating. Cheap oil is gone and the bottom of the barrel is in sight. What's to be thankful for? Besides cranberry jelly from cans.

Porn O'Graph: Build them & they'll stand empty.


TulsaTyme said...

Those dang Chinese are trying to out do us. They have built bridges to nowhere, count cars as sold when they leave the factory to sit in ginormous lots filled with other 'sold' cars, and built an entire city in Mongolia that is empty.

As good, media obsessed citizens, we should all feel threatened by this empty nnew city gap. Our empty old cities, like Detroit, are pathetic in comparison. The only course of action is to contract with Goldmann-Sacks to build multiple empty new cities in states all across this grate land of ours,,,,,,

EconomicDisconnect said...

"If all the world's population used as much of the planet's resources as Americans do, we would need five more Earths"

Wow! Never thought about that way. Ouch.

Eric Hacker said...

It must be noted that it is technically possible to offer health care coverage to all Americans for less than we spend now on health care. There are vast inefficiencies in the system currently. The problem is political, in that those who are making money off the inefficiencies don't want to change.

There would of course be a short term increase in costs as nearly every attempt to transition processes to more efficiency incurs a short term bump.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Amen, Mr. Hacker, Amen.

TomOfTheNorth said...

re: Tattle Tale, while I'm sure we all agree the banks 'remain undercapitalized', I suspect the final tally to be significantly greater than the IMF estimate. For example, the US foreclosure backlog is a potentially massive shadow inventory, not yet pressuring values already depressed. Consider all of the other financial assets whose value has risen on the rising tide of Govt largesse. When the tide goes back out, as it always does, it will leave quite a few banks now afloat stranded on the beach.

- TomOfTheNorth

TomOfTheNorth said...

TulsaTyme makes an excellent point re: the empty city gap. That China is so far ahead of us when it comes to empty cities IS a national scandal. I think it behooves all of us to pull together and enable our culture to take that next great leap: an empty city on the moon!

- TomOfTheNorth

Anonymous said...

Tattle Tale: The IMF ....

IMF to the Rescue! We should all be thankful that we have a wonderful US dominated bureaucracy like the IMF to show us the recovery way.

Er, well, maybe not. During the last three decades of rot, corruption and wrong Economics, the IMF led the Chicago School Charge. According to John Perkins, author of DIARY OF AN ECONOMIC HIT MAN and HOODWINKED, the IMF is not such a good player. Videos from Iceland:

"John also tells the people to kick the IMF (the bully) in the shin and to force the IMF into the people's terms. He tells the people that they didn't create the debt, but that they owe it and are expected to pay it back. Johns says they should refuse to pay it just like Argentina and some other Latin American countries."

Anyone who has followed this Debacle over the years knows that the IMF is a major Perp. Numerous critics of the IMF other than just Perkins and Icelanders. This IMF Cleansing is just more of setting the same Wolves to devour the same old Sheep, just with newer paradigms.

As the IMF cranks up the Special Drawing Rights Racket, maybe the question to ask about IMF is: what is their angle? (Clue: it is NOT concern for democracy or the "people".)

Like GOLDMAN SUCHS and others, the IMF's sole angle may be to preserve and enlarge their parasitic bureaucracy.