Wednesday, March 3, 2010

SAR #10062

We've come to fear life itself.

All Gain, No Risk:  Fannie May, in yet another move to subvert the free market and compensate investors for their bad judgment, will make whole potential losses to investors by buying back 200,000 mortgages that are 120+ days delinquent from previously issued bundled securities.  They'll warehouse the failing loans and get the taxpayer to pay for them later on. Ah, a risk free investment market, the basis of our capitalist society.

Auto Show:  February '10 sales compared to Feb '09: GM up 11%, Ford up 43%, Honda up 27% , and Toyota down only 8.7% (more to come?). Chrysler also ran. Overall sales were 3.5% down from January.

Plastics:  Marc Faber, who got both the current mess and the 1987 crash right, has this word of advice:  “Gold.”   Also these: “Buy farmland.”   He also suggest you might want “to consider more disruptive events than mere market volatility.”   By which he seems to be saying:  “Think war.”   Me? I'm going over to Mrs. Robinson's.

The Experts:  We docilely sit by our TV sets, listening to the experts explain how they will guide the tattered economies of the world through unimaginable levels of debt to some vaguely seen safe harbor.  They try to distract us with charts and graphs and the flapping of hands from the disturbing fact that these very same experts neither predicted this debacle nor did anything to prevent it.

Revisionism:  When the going gets tough, the tough turn to Washington. And Washington comes through for them, even as they gather around teapots and decry socialism.  Last year Americans received more aid from the government than they paid in taxes.  Read that again, slowly.

Readers Digest Version:  Fifteen years ago the six largest US banks held assets equal to 17% of US GDP.   Now they own stuff equal to 63% of our GDP and hold 32% of all FDIC deposits, not to mention their controlling interest in Congress, the White House, and our souls.

Cynicism Are Us:   Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urges his fellow Republicans to stop attacking global climate change and embrace the idea – not because the science is right, but because young voters believe it to be true.   Bush and Obama showed that telling 'em what they want to hear works.

Inappropriate Imaging:   No, not the guys with the x-ray glasses at the airport.  Not the ubiquitous cell phone snappers, either.   About 25% of CT, MRI and PET scans ordered by primary care physicians are  'inappropriate' and do not contribute to the diagnosis or treatment of the patients.  I would have guessed that even more than that were useless and ordered just to cover the doctors' behinds.

Don't Adjust Your Set:   As more data piles up that the earth is warming and some start to realize that the immense snowfalls in parts of the US this year were predicted – increased precipitation, when it is in the high 20's and low 30's tends to come down as snow -  a new explanation must be found by the denialists.  It'll be El Nino, or the government deficit or something Al Gore did or the biggest conspiracy since the Illuminati.  Anything but accepting we've been messing up for a long, long time.

Off Base: Babies' blood is routinely checked for various health conditions, including genetically based ones, often without parental knowledge.   Some hospitals have apparently sent samples to the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory for inclusion in their database, without anybody's admitted knowledge or consent.  These things just happen, and don't you want to help the Army defend the country you Commie?

Neighborhood Watch:  Grizzly bears are being spotted in Manitoba, Canada, where biologists say only polar bears are usually found.  There goes the neighborhood.

The Daily Petard: “That there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect [sic] world weather phenomena and that the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative.” South Dakota House of Representatives in HCR 1009.


Anonymous said...

RE: All Gain, No Risk...

Now don't try this at home, but, what if you were the Fed and wanted to stealthily recapitalize the financial system after the first three attempts failed (MLEC 2007, TARP 2008, PPIP 2009) by buying really crappy MBS "at near maturity (par)values."

Once you've bought, say, $1.25 trillion of this dreck and then wanted the worst of it off your balance sheet, wouldn't you invent a scheme to get the nationalized mortgage giants to start buying this toilet paper from you at par also?

If it works this well, look for them to rinse and repeat, and often.

Anonymous said...

RE: Inappropriate Imaging:

Kind of leads us back to the tort reform argument of yesterday... doesn't it?

The true cost of not having tort reform is the extra costs associated with the over-cautious protocols hospitals and medical practices install as a preventative measure against lawyers.

On the other hand, have the trial lawyers actually gotten us better care, better cars, better products all around because companies are afraid to put out defective products and services?


Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

RBM - Yes, it does circle back - and I knew it would when I wrote yesterday's item.

The tort reform question is one I come down firmly on both sides on. I think we sue far too much, yet bad doctors do exist and go around harming people (fine line between accident and stupidity). But my big - and unsubstantiated - gripe is that I read somewhere (no citation - hearsay rules apply) that the cost of medical malpractice insurance far exceeds the minuscule amounts paid out to 'victims'.

If someone has a citation on that - either way - I'd be proud to know.


Anonymous said...

Inappropriate Imaging:...

And how many other treatments, drugs, operations, regimens recommended by the DOCS are actually efficacious? Read Dr. Nortin Hadler, Professor of Medicine at University of North Carolina. One thing he says is that Medicine is "ethically bankrupt". ETHICALLY BANKRUPT. The same Universities that turn out the Econners and other Scammers also educate the DOCS. Like Wall Street, there is no Firewall of ethics, morality, etc. (Imagine being treated by Hahvahd educated Dr. Barry Obummah.)

So, the biggest Roll Of The Dice you ever make may not be with your $$$$ but your Life. Good luck.

Anonymous said...


Start here:

A google search "malpractice premiums vs. payouts"
brings up tons of references.


Anonymous said...

A recent study indicates that:

Medical malpractice premiums are nearly the lowest they have been in 30 years.

Medical malpractice claims are down 45 percent since 2000.

Medical malpractice insurer profits are higher than the rest of the property casualty industry, which has been very profitable over the last five years.

In states that have substantially limited consumers’ ability to go to court for medical malpractice, the insurance premiums for doctors are basically the same as in other states.

I didn't read the study, only a summary found here.

kwark said...

Don't Adjust Your Set: versus The Daily Petard: Asked and answered as you so often say CKM!

A friend of mine describes America's approach to difficult issues as "driving down a winding road, steering only with our knees, while watching the road in the rear-view mirror." Fairly apt description of the State of South Dakota's House in operation - particularly the rear-view mirror part.