Saturday, January 16, 2010

SAR #10016/Weekender

There are no 'others', we are doing this to ourselves.

Just Sayin'   China's foreign exchange reserves increased 23.3% in 2009, to $2.4 trillion.   The S&P 500's market capitalization is $13.5 trillion. China could easily buy 20% of US Corporations outright, or controlling interest in half of them.  Then we wouldbe working for them directly, instead of through their Wal-Mart subsidiary.  Not quite slavery, not even feudalism, but worth thinking about between commercials.

Alfred E.   The economy still teeters on the brink of something worse that the great depression and the bailed-out banksters sit in front of Congress and say,  “What, me worry?”

Consumer Economy:  JP Morgan Chase reported deep losses on its prime mortgage and credit card businesses in 4Q09, pretty much stomping out the idea that the consumer was on the mend.  Total credit losses were up 72% y/y even though the number of cards outstanding and credit balances both declined by 14%. Even losses on rime mortgages tripled to $568 million. In the coming decade, revolving consumer credit balances are expected to trend down from the current $900 billion to at least $500 and perhaps $300 billion.  With consumption falling this much, companies will go out of business by the bucketfuls.  Governments, unable to pay their bills, will need to renege on contracts for employees and retirees, with consequences few can imagine.

Education:   The main underpinning to western civilization and the globalized economy is plentiful and cheap petroleum.  The question isn't “What comes next? “  The question is, “What comes after?”

Retired: The 20th Century fad known as retirement, which grew out of the surpluses achieved through the lavish application of fossil fuels to human endeavors, is in the process of dissolving before our eyes.  Note to the children:  Don't worry about Social Security supporting in your retirement; you will not retire.

Be Afraid: According to Fox News, the US has 'credible intelligence' that Al Qaeda-Yemen (a local franchise holder) is plotting another attack either in the US or against US interests abroad; date, time, target and type of attack TBA. This heavy breathing is all in support of taking away even more traditional US freedoms, but that's okay with most Americans.

Once Upon a Time: Joseph Stigliz wants to know why are we letting Wall Street off so easy.  I want to know what happened to the social contract we once shared.

IEA EIA OH!  Last fall the International Energy Agency suggested that non-OPEC oil production would peak in 2010.  Now the US Energy Information Agency appears to agree, saying that non-OPEC oil production in 2011 will return to the pre-2009 decline trend. The IEA does say that  demand for oil in th developing nations (including China) will grow by 3.7% this year.  Let’s see, more demand... less supply...

Stormy Weather:  Both Nouriel Roubini and the World Economic Forum see the danger of sovereign defaults in Dubai, Greece, Ukraine, the US and the UK. Most central banks will withdraw liquidity starting in 2010, but government financing needs will drive interest rates higher.  This will hurt economic growth and lower tax revenues and a downward spiral will lead to dangerous possibilities. Or probabilities.

Report Card:  Wall Street thinks we are stupid, jealous malcontents, envious of our betters and begrudging them their due reward for their brilliant and difficult endeavors.  Actually, we are not all that stupid.  Many of us can spell ‘sociopath’ and most of us know were to find a whole nest of 'em.

A Pricking of Thumb:  Deutsche Bank sees approaching disaster and even goes so far as to say "the health of the US commercial banking system will inevitably get worse before it gets better.” They blame it on Fed policy.

Tipping Points:  Antarctica's Pine Island glacier has been losing increasing amounts of ice for a couple of decades and is now poised to collapse.  It could, alone, raise the global sea levels by 24 centimeters.  Elsewhere, carbon dioxide measurements suggest large climate changes are likely to occur this century.  As the Arctic warms, invading trees will create a feedback loop, warming the region more as the dark vegetation absorbs more warmth than snowy tundra did.  Micronesia is suing in a Czech court to block construction of a coal plant there on the basis that its CO2 emissions are a threat to the continued existence of their islands.  Another report surfaced this week warning of increased methane escaping from Arctic permafrostHumanity is destroying the network of living things :   “The beasts dying  onetwothreefour like clay pigeons bursting at a skeet range...”

Porn O'Graph:  Eat your heart out.


Anonymous said...

ck - Ever hear of the messenger getting killed?

The Arthurian said...

Responding to the "Alfred E." link (Krugman on financial reform) -- In an economy where debt is allowed to accumulate until it becomes unsupportable, there can be no end to financial and economic crises.

The Financial Crisis Inquisition Committee will likely point the finger of blame. That will solve none of our problems.

Krugman is generally satisfying, but he seems to think that if only we do things a little better, we can go on accumulating debt forever. We cannot.

One could apply the Laffer Curve concept to debt (rather than taxes). There is some point on the curve, or some range, where the level of debt is optimal for the size of the economy.

We are well beyond that point.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

TArt: Yes, we most certainly are "well beyond that point." We are well beyond most of 'em.

And, diane, I'm just the piano player in this establishment.


Anonymous said...

Tipping Point:

CK, I know that your a true believer but, even you have got to be concerned over the revelations of climategate and now the Himalayan glacier story.

The bad light that this puts on the science is going to become insurmountable.


Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

RBM - I find it curious that the glaciers in the Andes, the Rockies, Alaska, Greenland, the Alps and Antarctica are melting faster and faster, but those in the Himalayas are not ever going to melt.

I think it matters very little whether the Himalayan glaciers disappear in 2035 or 2050, it is their disappearance that will matter to a couple of billion of people.

That an article by non-scientists in the popular press based on a single telephone interview was possibly wrong in saying "by 2035" is unfortunate. That the political delays in the IPCC process force its reports to be out of date when issued is unfortunate. That the Himalayan glaciers will melt away within the lifetime of my grandchildren is a disaster.

That deniers grasp at straws is inevitable.


Anonymous said...

"JP Morgan Chase reported deep losses on its prime mortgage and credit card businesses in 4Q09, "

Gee, 30% interest rates on Credit cards cause people to default. Who would have thought that?