Friday, April 23, 2010

SAR #10113

When the going gets tough, the tough cheat.

Tail Wags Dog:  The Comedy Channel surrendered to a death threat from a fanatical Islamic website and censored a portion of last week's South Park. John Stewart's reaction was an immediate classic.  Too bad NBC, CBS etc. didn't lead with something similar.

Ratings For Sale or Rent:  As far back as 2006 employees at S&P and Moody's knew they were part of an immense charade, handing out unearned ratings on CDOs.  “Let's hope,” one wrote, “we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falls.”  Another acknowledged a deal “could be structured by cows and we would rate it.”  You get what they were paid for.

All Greek To Me:  Portugal, too, has been caught hiding their debts inside a wooden horse.

Siamese Twins:  Both China's oil consumption and it's GDP grew about 12% y/y in the 1st quarter.  The world's oil supply is expected to increase about 1.3 mbd this year, while China's consumption is expected to grow by about the same amount.  Red Queen, running.

How's Housing?  Sales of existing houses were up 6.8% m/m in March. The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported a 0.2% decline in house prices m/m in February,  the y/y inventory level of existing houses had declined for the last 20 months and still shows an 8 month supply.  Houses are expected to drop about 13% in value this year, either getting worse more slowly, or very slowly getting better, while over in the commercial markets, Fitch Ratings expects CMBS defaults to exceed 11%.

Disguise:  Turns out a black swan can look a lot like a volcanic ash cloud.

If You Give A Mouse Time Off:  European workers have long since institutionalized leisure as a part of life.  Now the EU sees that just having time off is not enough.  Pensioners, youth in the 18 – 25 age bracket and families in “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances will be entitled to subsidized travel, because “tourism is a right”.

Indictment:  “We have failed and they have won.”  And we know who 'they' are and do nothing.

Cell Shaker:  While the government warns that Americans eat too much salt, nutritional scientists report that humans naturally regulate their salt intake within a narrowly defined physiologic range. They found that Americans’ average salt intake falls well within this range. Like all nutritional claims, take this with a pinch of salt.

Fuelishness:  Logistics is the central discipline in modern warfare – getting the troops and their equipment and their supplies where they are needed when they are needed.  And essential to that enterprise are the fuel supplies that keep the other supplies moving.  Naturally the process is privatized in US war zones, and naturally it's all done on no bid contracts and the local pashas get their cut – until they are overthrown and the next group gets in line.  Billions of taxpayer dollars, of course.

Steamed Streams:  A team of hydrologists and ecologists have found that water temperatures in rivers and streams throughout the US – from the Colorado to the Hudson – have undergone “statistically significant long-term warming”.

Room Service:  At 3 am the Holiday Inn in Monterrey Mexico was over-run by 50 masked gunmen who blockaded the streets, shot up the place and made off with at least three people. Used to be tourists worried about Montezuma's revenge

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