Thursday, January 28, 2010

SAR #10028

The stock market has become a lagging indicator.

Onward: Obama must be doing something right, but what?  Wall Street has come to loathe him, the progressives have discovered he's not one of them. His continuing efforts towards bipartisanship - to the point of endorsing his opponents’ world-view - will buy him nothing.

Bottoms:  The sale of new houses fell in December 7.6% m/m and 8.6% y/y. For the year, new house sales dropped 22.9% from 2008. Mortgage loan volume dropped by 11% last week and, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association,  “Although rates remain low, there appears to be a smaller pool of borrowers who are willing and able to refinance at today’s rates.”  Smart, too: Fannie Mae expects house prices to drop further, and other experts expect the housing market to take a decade or more for homeowners to regain equity in their homes and some regions will not see a recovery of equity “in their lifetimes”.

Steel Yourself:  The San Francisco Bay Bridge is being rebuilt using a series of 300 foot, 6900 ton steel sections made in China.  Hmm.

Nothing to Sneeze At:  Ukrainian Black Lung disease – a mutant version of the H1N1 virus – is spreading through Eastern Europe.  Over 1,000 Ukrainians have died and over 250,000 hospitalized.  No, you didn't hear about via the USA's mainstream media. W hy would you, bunch of foreigners dying in non-photogenic ways...

Assignment:  Warm up the coffee, shut the office door, sacrifice 8 straight minutes and listen to Elizabeth Warren explain the future of the middle class . Just do it.  We'll be here when you get back.

Connections:  Cars, solar panels, wind turbines, high-efficiency lights, automobiles, car batteries together use tens of thousands of tons of rare earths every year.  As we transition to 'greener' technologies, even more will be needed.  Today China is the primary source (97%) for the rare earths.  China says it will stop exporting the ores in 2012.  Sure there are deposits elsewhere – but it will take until 2020 to bring these new mines into production.  Yet another reason to delay abandoning fossil fuels, another reason to let old-energy corporations profit while blocking development of alternative energy, which – thanks to the recent Supreme Corp ruling – they will easily be able to do.

Something Else:  China is gobbling up all the oil.  Chinese real estate is a huge bubble.  And now, the Chinese middle class has discovered credit cards!  And why not?  Credit cards offer a quick shortcut to a better standard of living. Shhh. They don't know about fees, penalties and how soon their banks will trap them in capitalistic debt slavery.

Kiss and Tell:  A new book redundantly claims that John Edwards “has no soul”, “is a politician” and “is disgusting”.

Tea Leaves:  Having squeezed all the hokum possible out of Brown's elevation to the second coming, let's now turn to Oregon where voters chose to raise taxes on corporations and the rich rather than gut public schools and kick the needy into the healthcare gutter.  Should this be read as a national repudiation of everything the GOP stands for?  Should the elephant interpret this as a clear signal about the economic policies Americans favor?  Nope, for it is obvious that while the eastern liberals who voted Republican have seen the light, the western conservatives who voted against the Republican's wishes to abolish taxes, public services and pretty much the government, were committing suicide.

Rumsfeld Redux?  The Defense Science Board has recommended that the Defense Department create an “Office of Strategic Deception” designed to deceive US adversaries.  Of course in the world of Twitter and Facebook and cellphones, they would have to deceive the American public, too, but that would be unavoidable collateral damage.

Porn O'Graph:  What's Good For GM The Pentagon...


mistah charley, ph.d. said...

Re John and Elizabeth Edwards:

In a comment yesterday about USA Today's story that Elizabeth Edwards is finally leaving John, sidwell stated, in part:

"I think Elizabeth realizes that John is a good man in a bad situation. I feel sorry for him and her. Life has given them more grief than one family should ever have to bear. John had to bury a son and now he is facing burying a spouse. It is so obvious it was all too much for him. He wanted NORMALCY - what human being doesn't. He sought solace in sex with a woman that was normal and healthy. In those times, he didn't have to face his mortality, Elizabeth's mortality, or the grief over his dead son - he could just ESCAPE. This man was grieving and trying to numb his pain with the giddiness of a new relationship and sex. Why do people get another pet, when one pet dies? It is self medicating - it is attempting to numb pain. Human beings exist in a perpetual state of pain avoidance and he was no different. So you wouldn't have cheated on your terminally ill wife, but what WOULD or DID you do to cope? Drink, gamble, shop, drugs, religion?"

This caught my attention because my beloved cat died last week, and today I found myself wondering, should I get another cat? I even searched the local animal shelter website for a cat as similar as possible (orange tabby, male neutered, adult - they don't have one listed as available right now, fortunately). Even as I did this, I thought it was a bit strange - we still have a remaining cat, and she is too old to count on her adjusting well to the presence of a new pet.

As the Roman playwright Terence said, under the skin we're not so different (my very loose paraphrase of "Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto".)

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

mcphd - It is interesting to see JE turned into a tragic Greek, but in the end not convincing. Yes, he had reasons - which sound more like excuses to the tone deaf like me - for behaving poorly.

That does not change the fact of his behavior - which shows weakness of character. But running for public office is in itself fair evidence of several character flaws.

As for the assumption that in order to cope we must rely on a crutch -'Drink, gamble, shop, drugs, religion'- perhaps s. I'd rather not find out. But I would hope I could keep on putting one foot in front of the other.

We may not be "so different" one from the other, but there are differences, differences that matter.


Anonymous said...

The fact that Oregon needs to tax that much is s proof of governmental incompetence.

Let's wait for the migration out of the state and see the slow motion financial meltdown of that nanny state.

kwark said...

Anonymous said: "The fact that Oregon needs to tax that much is s proof of governmental incompetence.

Let's wait for the migration out of the state and see the slow motion financial meltdown of that nanny state."

Substitute any state you wish and you'll find plenty of someones who'll agree with you. So the solution is to "let" government collapse. At this point I think were likely to "get" that outcome regardless but I fear there's a very large and ugly train wreck in the works down that particular track that will make us yearn for the good 'ol days of "wasteful" government.

Anonymous said...

A lot of B.S. here . . . Oregon has the lowest net business taxes in the country.


"In 2008, the international consulting firm Ernst & Young estimated state-level business taxes (as a share of state gross domestic product) and government expenditures benefiting businesses for all 50 states. The firm found that Oregon ranks dead last: the lowest net business taxes in the country."

TomOfTheNorth said...

re: Steel Yourself, while one can only wonder why we can't buy U.S. manufactured steel, The Economist points out that China ccounted for 49% of all steel produced in 2009.

re: Assignment, when Elizabeth Warren says "If we don't fix this then it really IS game over", it's already 5 minutes to midnight and the Castle Ball has a hard stop.....

mistah charley, ph.d, said...

re the character of John Edwards - CKM, you make some good points.

Anonymous said...

The common denominator for the state and local government fiscal problems are the unfunded benefit programs. Government officials have ignored this problem for years, and have also exempted themselves of funding requirements they impose on corporate pension plans.

But it's worse than that. All you folks in love with more government should read this: