Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SAR #10027

When they talk about other people's money, we're the 'other people'.

Rhetoric:  As you were warned yesterday, the verbal dogs of war were loosed on Obama's suggestion to freeze some miniscule amount of federal spending.  All sides were heard from: too big, too little, god save the pork, appalling, wrong time, etc. Let's wait and see – and relax:  Don't you know a trial balloon when a little kid floats by in one?

New Math:  In Illinois, half means 55% at first, 45% later on – at least when it comes to paying property taxes.  Just a way to get their hands on the money a little earlier.

Saved At Last:  After a $700 billion stimulus bill and $730 billion in TARP/TRASH bailouts and a couple of trillion in guarantees have failed to get the economy moving, the Senate is now going to resort to throwing money at the problem.  Specifically, an $80 billion jobs bill is proposed just as the CBO forecasts a $1.35 trillion federal budget deficit.  Obviously we cannot afford the $80 billion – it'd eat into Goldman's bonus pool.

Stopped Clock:  Professor Krugman observes, correctly, that politics gets in the way but won't go away.

Hurdles:  After modest gains in the 1990's, family incomes have been falling for the last decade (and wages have stagnated at 1970's levels), while housing jumped 56%, tuition is up 60%, and healthcare profits up 155% since 1990.

Après moi, le déluge:  Policing, generally regarded as one of the essential functions of government, is being curtailed in communities allover the country as tax revenues plummet.  In NY, much of Gov Paterson's $7.4 billion in cuts will fall to NYC, resulting in closing 20 schools, terminating 8,500 teachers, 3,150 cops, and 1,050 firefighters.  Garbage pickups would be slashed, 500 soup kitchens and 15 senior citizens centers closed.  Is this a local-level preview of Obama's deficit reduction/freeze?

Things That Cannot Continue, Won't:  Perpetual growth in the closed system cannot go on forever.  The Earth is a closed system.  Even if we avoid catastrophic climate change, economic growth must soon come to a rather sudden stop.  None of the existing economic models (nor political systems) can withstand that sort of stress, so an orderly transition seems most unlikely.  That leaves some other sort of event.

Celebration:  The latest Case Shiller Index shows a month/month increase in house prices of 0.2%.   Let's celebrate.   It also shows a year/year price decrease of 5.4%.  Put a cork in it.

New Traditions:  Ford is adding 1,200 employees – and at $14 an hour, half what current employees make.  In 1914 the average Ford worker could buy a Model T for 4 months' wages.  What are the new employees going to get for $7,000?  hen are American businesses going to realize that workers are consumers when they get home?

Beans, Spilled: The National Retail Federation does not expect a V-shaped recovery in the economy nor in consumer spending.  Didn't they get the memo?

Size Matters:  Despite the impression in the denialist press, most glaciers around the world continue to melt at historically high rates.  The speed of the melt depends on the size of the glacier and its altitude.  Smaller and lower will be gone first – those in the Alps and Pyrenees, the Rockies and parts of the Andes – with 70% gone by mid-century or sooner.  Bigger and higher – think Himalayas and Alaska – will last for centuries, but not many of them.

Porn O'Graph:  Baby it's coal outside.

1 comment:

ibilln said...

"Let's wait and see – and relax:"

Hear hear!! Here here?