Done well, crime pays.
Spring? In California 4% fewer houses received default notices during 1Q 2010 than in 4Q 2009 and 40% fewer than 1Q 2009. Either things are looking up or the banks are running out of places to foreclose.
Raining on the Parade: An energy analyst who has spent most of his 80+ years in the oil and gas business says that the curative powers of shale gas have been, to put it politely, overstated. He points out that shale gas makes up only 6% of the US supply, that shale gas wells deplete exceptionally fast (45% in the first year), and that the drilling rig count for conventional wells – where 94% of the gas comes from – is 70% below the pre-crisis levels. He expects the summer supply shortfalls to drive prices above $8MMbtu come fall.
Feelings: A current Pew survey revealed that over half of all American households have felt a direct impact from job losses during the Current Whatever, which may explain why 92% felt the economy is in bad shape.
Better Mousetrap: BofA is formulating a plan that would let the unemployed miss as many as nine monthly payments while they look for a job. The missed payments would be tacked onto the end of the mortgage, not forgiven – this is a bank, after all. If after 9 months there's still no job, BofA would give them $2,000 for mowing the yard and such and toss them out.
Hot Sheets: The Taliban have checked into a recently abandoned US base in a remote area of Afghanistan. The Americans were redeployed and let control of the area revert to the Taliban, taking and holding the land being so Early 20th Century. Wars last longer and are more profitable if you can take the same hill or village several times.
MPG: In February 2010. Americans drove nearly 3% less than the previous February. This is the second consecutive month with a y/y decline in miles driven. It was surely due to the deep snow and not the increased price of gasoline.
Heartbreak: Much to the sorrow of the righteous help-thy-neighbor haters, research shows that unemployment payments do not cause nor extend unemployment. If there were no extended benefits the unemployment rate would be a scant 0.4$ lower. The problem is not lazy workers, it's lazy demand.
It's All Over: Bill McKibben's new book, Eaarth is getting a lot of positive reviews. Following up on his popular End of Nature, McKibben argues that global warming has so changed the planet homo sapiens grew up on that it is a different place and needs a new name.