Saturday, April 24, 2010

SAR #10114/Weekender

If it becomes too hot, too cold, too dry or too wet, things stop.

A Brief Pause:  The Greek government has thrown in the towel and is “accepting” 45 billion euros from the EU and another 15 billion from the IMF, along with severe budgetary restraints.  The market wasn't impressed. Greek civil servants will strike to protest these “barbaric” conditions while the opposition party calls the IMF conditions “a premeditated crime against Greek society.”

The Question:  What happens when all the fish are gone from the seas?

Fair Warning: The most likely outcome of the financial reform circus is a large, convoluted bill that lulls people into thinking something's been done to make the system safer if not fairer.  Real, effective reform would fit on a single page.  The shorter it is, the fewer loopholes get stuck in.

Efficiency:  Larry Summers explains that breaking up the big banks would make things worse, because it would be inefficient to bail out a whole bunch of little banks when we can quite efficiently just give the money to Citi, Goldman, JPMorgan and AIG. Ah, the holy grail of government efficiency.

Fashion Sense:  Newt Gingrich thinks that the Tea Party will become “the militant wing of the Republican Party.”  He did not state a preference for Black or Brown shirts.

Easy Does It:  Putting down rumblings from dissenting underlings, the Fed's Board of Governors is intent on continuing the free-money-for-bankers program.

Plotline:  A woman discovers she has breast cancer and her insurance is promptly canceled due to fraud.  She searches on-line and finds lots more women with the same experience. Investigation shows that the insurance company has a secret computerized program to find some minor technicality on which to claim fraud and deny nearly all breast cancer claims.  Sounds like a recent “The Good Wife” but is actually a possible “60 Minutes” story on WellPoint, one of the country's largest (and most profitable) health insurers.

Election Recount:  A series of bomb attacks in Baghdad killed at least 61 people and wounded more than 100.

Nuclear Family:  Saudi Arabia is planning to build the first nuclear power plant in the Arab states, with hopes of powering the new part of the capital, Riyadh, completely by nuclear energy.  Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, and Oman all are studying the possibility of getting their power from nuclear plants, too.  They all say it will let them export more of their oil and gas – assuming that by the time they get the power plants built they have any oil or gas left to export.  Makes Iran seem prescient.

Take a Number:  Los Angeles has already closed 17 civil courts and will close another 50 by the end of summer.  The county plans to keep the criminal courts running, if enough money can be found.

Smelling Salts:  New house sales soared 26.9% m/m as the government bribery program winds down.  Previously owned houses saw a 6.8% rise in sales. Best to wait a couple of months and see what the market looks like after Uncle Sam backs off.

Poor Me!  Fellow named Barouh hid $10 million in foreign bank accounts from Uncle Sam for at least 7 or 8 years.  He claims that his tax fraud was a compulsive behavior forced on him because:  When he came to the US as a child he didn't speak very good English.  Growing up in Colombia was difficult because he was discriminated against for being Jewish.  And because of his parents experiences in the Holocaust, even though Mr. Barouh (who's only 65) was not born until the war was over.  He is also an orphan, now.

Porn O'Graph:  One more 25% increase in new house sales and we'll be back to 1991!


john patrick said...

Thanks again for the daily update, CK.

John-in Chicago

kwark said...

RE: The Question It's interesting that the subject of overfishing attracts much the same reaction as climate change - lots of angry denials and a grab-bag full of wild assertions against the scientists (you know, them gubmint scientists) reporting the facts. I don't recall the exact figures but it's safe to say that a large proportion of the worlds fisheries are severely depressed and verging on collapse. Collapse enough fisheries, maybe an ocean ecosystem or two, and large numbers of starving humans will demand attention . . . or die. Probably both.

Anonymous said...


I've noticed the same reaction. I've also noticed a knee jerk reaction by the enviro's whenever fish farming is brought up.

Changing one's beliefs is a hard thing to do.


Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

John - Thanks for the thanks!

Fish - I'm part of the problem with seafood's demise. After a decade of living on or near the sea, we eat seafood 2 or 3 times a week. And standing in the grocery aisle it is easy to think the fishing industry is just gouging us, but I know better - there are too many of us and we are too efficient at hunting and gathering.

I'm all for fish farms - but like regular farms, I'd like to see it done with about zero runoff/collateral damage to the fields and streams and environment through chemicals and poisons and excess fertilizers.

Yeah, I'd pay the extra for the environmental costs so growers would be able to sanely make a living.


San Leandro Rifle & Pistol said...

Great site. Much appreciation. Thanks, -Kev