Monday, October 31, 2011

SAR #11302

Increasing the food supply lets the population increase.

The Growing Chorus: "We remain very doubtful that the relative optimism that has followed the EU summit will last.” If (contrary to reality-based calculations) Greece and European banks are somehow actually bailed out using the current fantasy involving theft and ever more more debt, what happens next February when Italy has to repay €61 billion that it doesn't have and cannot raise?

Pearl Diving: Japan now estimates that the decommissioning of the failed Fukushima No. 1 reactor will take at least until the 30th anniversary of the disaster.

Decisions, Decisions:Faced with a 50% loss on its Greek bond holdings, Norway's Sovereign Wealth Fund sold all of its.... US MBS holdings. Why? Because of 'prepayment risk' – The fact that when a borrower refinances at a lower interest rate, it devalues the MBS based on the previous loan.

Who's We? They say we've regained the lost ground in GDP, that we are back to where we started. Right. So how come we're making all this stuff with about 8 million fewer jobs...

It's Not Over Over There: Having been forced to abandon its huge stay-behind bases in Iraq, the US is now looking to station more combat troops in Kuwait and offshore in the Persian Gulf, in preparation for either a war with Iran or having to go straighten out another mess in Iraq. And to keep friendly oil dictators in power in the region.

G'way, Y'r Bothering Me: Syria's Assad says that he is not killing any more of the citizenry than absolutely necessary, and that if other nations keep bitching about it, he'll kill even more he'll “burn the whole region.”

Briefly: Data Quick reports that median house prices last week were down 5.3% y/y, at $180,000, while total sales were up 4.5%. The FHFA's monthly report showed prices down 4.0% y/y in August.

Pacesetter: Gov. Brown has proposed that California's public employees pay at least half the cost of their pensions, put a third of their retirement money in a 401-k type plan instead of having a guaranteed pension and wait 12 more years to retire. Remember, as goes Maine California, so goes the nation.

Homiletics Text: “The 400 wealthiest Americans now own more than the "lower" 150 million Americans put together.” An outline of your sermon is due by Wednesday.

Thoughtful Experiment: Get a pencil and some paper, sit at the kitchen table, and figure out what you and yours are going to do when if your income dropped 50%. The odds of you or your SO losing your job isn't getting smaller, there is a real possibility you'll lose your health insurance and see your pension evaporate. Food and energy are not getting any cheaper – despite the government's massaging the data. So, figure out what you would do. For added points, figure out how likely it is that you will have to do these things.

Keepers Of The Flame:A Russian cargo ship is on its way to the International Space Station, preparing the way for the next manned mission and easing concerns about the station's future after a previous failed launch and the end of US manned space missions.

Self-Hoisting Petard: If defense spending creates jobs – and the Republicans agree it does – then any government spending creates jobs and Keynesianism works. A quick look at the effects of changes in defense spending on employment and demand shows that in creating aggregate demand, spending is spending – public spending is as good as private spending; spending on bombs is as good as spending on new schools. But spending on socially useful projects is far more difficult to get through Congress than unnecessary defense projects. Why? Because socially useful projects smack of 'socialism', plus there is an ingrained conservative fear that social spending will diminish their ability to pretend that cutting taxes is the most efficient way to create wealth disparity jobs.

Porn O'Graph: Geographic sub-division.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

SAR #11300

Simple solutions generally aren't.

RSVP: The holders of $244 billion in Greek bonds will be 'invited' (actual word used) to voluntarily write off $122 billion of them – without recourse to recompense from their CDS insurance, which was designed for just such an event. Wonder what this'll do to the whole CDS thing.

This One's For You: Egyptians demonstrated in Tahrir Square on Friday, protesting the military rule, the continuing and perpetual state of emergency that's existed since 1958, and to show solidarity for the #Occupy protesters who fell victim to police brutality in Oakland.

Mirabile Dictu! Republicans have suddenly discovered that cutting spending – specifically Defense spending – will cost people jobs, people who vote in their districts. So while increasing government spending (say in green energy or infrastructure repair) cannot create jobs (so the GOPer's say), cutting government spending can and will cut jobs. Wonder where those jobs came from in the first place.

Gold Red Star: US satellites have been “interfered with” at least four times in recent years, by computer hackers described as “possibly from the Chinese military”. It wasn't immediately clear why the US leaked the information at this time.

Model Behavior: The reason economic models do not work is that they are 'perfected' by jiggering them until they can 'predict' historical data. Once a model can do that, it is assumed it will work on current data. But the inadvertent errors made in measuring either the calibration data or the current inputs get magnified and invalidate the results. Ditto for climate modeling. The more variables, the more uncertainty.

Just So: "It's difficult to escape the conclusion that Republicans have made a political calculation that requires opposition to any policy that could improve the economy in the near term."

New War/Next War: The US has been flying drones out of a civilian airport in Ethiopia for nearly a year, targeting civilians in al-Shabab, a Somalian group said to be connected to al-Qaeda. Under current usage, blowing up things and killing people isn't 'war' if you claim you are fighting a group and not a nation.

Comes the Dawn: Frau Merkel suddenly realized something must to be done to prevent 'others' from seeking the suddenly popular Greek haircut.

Women's Lib: Henceforth, in the UK and the Commonwealth, the monarch's firstborn will be the heir. Not firstborn son. Firstborn. If the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is a girl, she will become queen. They're also doing away with the requirement that every descendant of George II seek the monarch's permission before marrying – and they can even marry a Catholic!

Snap, Shot: Wisconsin's Gov. Walker (R) wants to let the citizenry carry concealed weapons into the state Capitol – but taking pictures is prohibited. Strange place, Wisconsin, where politicians are more afraid of having their picture taken than of being shot. Last week, a journalist was reportedly arrested when he tried to videotape several protesters, who were also being arrested for having pro-First Amendment signs pinned to their shirts.

Welcome to the Party: About the time 2 or 3 billion more people will need enormous amounts of energy – mostly petroleum – to run the bulldozers, tractors, trucks, ships and supply the irrigation water, fertilizers, and all the other energy inputs required to produce and deliver food and water, we'll be down to the ever-more-expensive difficult-to-produce oil. To heck with finding the oil, where's the money going to come from?

Stop! This November, the people who want more unwanted children in the world have a “personhood" amendment on the Mississippi ballot. It not only bans all abortions, but by defining a legal person as existing the moment the sperm meets the egg, it would outlaw some types of birth control, including IUDs and 'morning-after' pills, and may make hormonal contraception illegal. And the women availing themselves of these contraceptives could be charged with murder and anyone selling them would be accomplices in mass murder.

Friday, October 28, 2011

SAR #11299

Few see a shrinking population as part of the solution.

A Little Off The Top: The current European demi-plan includes forcing banks to voluntarily take a 50% loss on Greek bonds. This will cut Greece's debt by about €100 billion. It also puts a new twist on the meaning of 'voluntary'. Why won't others – Portugal, Spain, Italy – figure out that if they foul up as bad as Greece, they too can dump half their debt on somebody.

Old News: The Fukushima disaster released nearly double the amount of radiation the Japanese government has claimed, even after several upward revisions. Golly Gee.

Credit Event? In response to queries asking if the current Eurozone plan is “a credit event”, The ISDA said: 1) We won't know until we decide. 2) We won't decide until the plan is “formally signed” and someone asks us for our opinion. 3) In that the restructuring is a voluntary restructuring and not a default, our best guess is that it is not “a credit event” affecting CDS contracts. And 4) No, we do not know what value the CDS contracts ever had.

Some Numbers Are Prettier Than Others: NAR reports that September's pending house sales fell 4.6% from August's level. The decline was, like the Spanish Inquisition, “unexpected”.

Estimate Nr. One: The BEA's first guess at 3Q11's GDP growth is 2.5%, way above 2Q's 0.7%. With a 2.5% GDP growth rate, full employment becomes a matter for the tooth fairy.

Maybe It's A + B: GDP's up, with a lot of credit given to consumer spending (PCE), yet consumer sentiment is very gloomy. How can that be? Utilities and healthcare spending were big contributors to PCE, while the savings rate fell. Breaking the piggy bank to pay the doctor, that'll do the trick.

College Entrance Exam: If you knew that no matter how much you borrowed to go to school and how little you earned afterward, you would only have to pay 10% of your 'discretionary' income above $16,000 a year for 20 years and then be debt free, you would a) skip college because its too expensive. b) borrow just enough to get the degree. c) borrow every possible dime, knowing you'd never pay most of it back.

At the Margin: The Department of Labor reports 402,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment. La-di-dah.

This Week In Surveillance: New streetlights are being rolled out that will not only provide light (except in Harrisburg), but will “harvest data and digital media” through proximity sensors that record both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. In Tennessee, Homeland Security is setting up Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response centers at highway rest stops, weigh stations and bus stations and is recruiting truckers to act as informants. This, officials said, was not in response to any particular threat, they just felt like doing it. And in and around Flint, Michigan, the Sheriff is pulling over people at random and searching for drugs. This has already been ruled illegal, but the Sheriff doesn't seem to mind. And those shoes with the GPS tracking chip in them – designed to locate Alzheimer patients who wander off – have other potential uses...

Essay Question: In 10 words or less, explain why 2,511 Occupy protesters have been arrested and not a single banker.

Hey, Look! In a big change from cooperating with despotic governments from Beijing to Washington, Google has refused to take down the YouTube videos of the Oakland cops beating the crap out of peaceful #Occupy protesters.

Porn O'Graph: Happy Days (Limited edition)!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SAR #11298

Reality looks better in reproductions.

Let's Play Pretend: There's a make-believe rally underway in response to the make-believe settlement of all Euro problems. Not to be critical, but the agreement did not really raise any new money, continues to pretend that banks are voluntarily taking a 50% loss on Greek bonds and that this is not going to trigger the CDS monster, that the problem is confined to Greece and that Spain and Italy are going to be just fine, that _____ (fools to be named later) will pony up €800bn to pad out the EFSF, and that during the two or three months it'll take to make all this hopium real nothing else is going to fall off the cart. It could have been worse. And will be. “The deal does not, and was not intended to, have any effect on the core problems facing the eurozone.”

Qualifications: Sales of new houses were up 5.7% m/m in September, but down 0.9% y/y. However, the median price fell to $204,400 (down 3%) m/m, about at the low for the last decade. And the drop in median prices over the last three months was the worst ever.

Those Who Trespass Against Us: The ever clever Justice Department now wants to interpret the Freedom of Information Act as permitting the government to simply lie and say that the records do not exist when they do not want to release information to the public. And they never want to release information to the public. If the government tells such a lie, they cannot be sued because... the records do not exist – the government said so.

Watch What They Do, Not What They Say: Kuwait says it will generate at least 10% of its electricity from “sustainable sources” (solar, one would think) by 2020. They claim it's to free up the oil for export earnings, and not because they're running out of oil.

Thinking Caps: There are 37 million ex-students struggling to pay off their loans. About 1.6 million of them are expected to take advantage of Obama's new repayment plan that limits their payments to 10% of their income (down from the current 15% cap that only 450,000 are taking advantage of) and 'forgives' them the balance of their debt after 20 years of paying 10% of their income... These are ex-students, not – apparently – finance grads. Now they need to kill the bankruptcy immunity of student loan debts.

Presumption: Of all the pundits who claim to know what the #Occupiers want, or should want, the claim that they want democracy returned to the people, the end the corporatization of politics, and an end to unregulated crony capitalism seems closest to the actual sentiment on the streets. Not socialism, not capitalism, but a basic fairness.

You Are There They Are Here: For the first time, more than half the urban poor live in the suburbs, not in the city centers. Suburbs are now facing demands for social services they neither are equipped to provide nor pay for – after all,the whole point of moving to the suburbs was so you didn't have to pay for (or see) the underclass.

Punch Line: Lukoil, a privately owned Russian oil company, has started drilling for oil near the Iraqi port city of Basra. Did Cheney get a finder's fee?

Cleaning Up: Sanitation - specifically toilets that flush and do not contribute to the deterioration of the environment – is necessary for public health. Unfortunately the world does not have sufficient water resources to meet the needs of today's 7 billion, much less another 2 or 3 billion runny little bottoms.

99 Bottles of Beer... Here's another article – this time about China's one-child rule – that says that an ever expanding population and an ever expanding economy are essential if the good times are to continue. Who said the good times were going to continue? Or could?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

SAR #11297

If you really, really want it to be true, it usually isn't.

Codetalkers: The IMF says it is “considering participating” in the European bailouts by providing the “leverage” to the EFSF, which is just another way of saying the Fed is going to saddle up and ride... the US taxpayer... to the rescue?

Receding Horizons: Consumers - burdened with lower wages, falling home equity, worries about unemployment, fear for the global economy, and pressured from rising prices - has a decidedly sour outlook on the near future, as reflected in the latest consumer confidence survey, which is at one of its lowest points on record. Frugality is not quite what the retailers were looking for this season.

Pig/Lipstick: Some are saying that the 3.8% y/y decline in house prices reflected in the latest Case-Shiller report is Good News because it was not worse. Not to rain on the parade, but this makes 14 out of 15 consecutive declines for the C/S index.

Map Reading: One of the hidden aspects of the new-and-improved HARP plan is that those bright new mortgages with the shiny new interest rates will be recourse loans. That means you can't walk away. That means that if you are forced to sell your underwater house, you will owe the bank – forever – the amount you cannot pay back. The debt will follow you to the grave. (Or until bankruptcy?) That's just one improvement. Another is that the FHFA will not force lenders to buy back fraudulent loans if “underwriting problems” surface at a later date.

Ignorance is Bliss: Citi has tried to answer the question: Can Europe ruin the world? Don't know, don't want to find out.

That's A Baby! When is someone going to look in the stroller and say that a 60% haircut on Greek bonds is a “credit event” and force the unwinding of trillions in Greek and other European sovereign bonds CDS?

Just In Time For Christmas: Corporations are lobbying hard for a “tax holiday” that would let them bring their overseas profits back to the US with little or no taxation. It would be a reward for their off-shoring jobs and dodging US taxes for years. The corporations claim this will permit them to create more jobs here. Pull the other one, it's got bells.

Last Words: The Economic Cycle Research Institute says the US is headed back into another recession. Worse, they say “there’s nothing that policy makers can do to head it off.”

Napalm in the Morning: Proving once again that statistics have a Democratic bias, the CBO reports that the incomes of the top 1% of the US population increased 275% between 1979 and 2007, the 60% in the middle saw their incomes grow nearly 40%, and the bottom 20% got an increase of less than 1% a year.

Hat Tip: Police and NY State troopers in Albany declined to enforce orders from the governor and the mayory to arrest #OccupyAlbany protesters because – in their view – arresting peaceful protesters would do far more harm than the protesters were causing. Cops in Oakland, CA, did not see things that way.

A Little Help, Please: Does the paradox of thrift – the idea that saving is a good thing for me to do but a bad thing for everyone to do – apply to all savings? Certainly if my 'saving' goes to pay off a debt, it is deflationary. But what if my 'saving' is in the form of investing in some productive enterprise? I'm not spending to encourage the economy, but my savings are being spent by the enterprise, which should have the same effect as my buying another salad spinner.

Porn O'Graph: Read 'em and weep.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SAR #11296

They are still planning to plan.

Solution: The apparent plan is to give bondholders a 60% haircut and then give them pretend money to make up for the losses. Obtain the pretend money by taking €450 or so from the taxpayers and 'leveraging' it five times (ie, printing five times that amount, or borrowing it from the Chinese, using your good looks as security) and pretend that you've got enough numbers to fade Italy's losses. As well as Spain, Portugal, Greece and so on. If that doesn't work, borrow more from the IMF – which in turn would get it from the Fed. Game, Set, Match.

First Do No HARP: Obama's puppetmasters are trying to con more people into staying put and paying, paying, paying on their underwater houses, by cutting the fees involved and getting even deeply underwater homeowners to keep paying on their over-priced houses. The program will be run by the independent FHFA, at the president's direction. (Define independent.)

Is the euro system doomed?  The short answer is “yes”. The long answer is “Yes, of course.”

The Godfather: The Pope, dreaming of the days of Clement VI and Leo X, has called for a “global public authority” complete with a central bank with dominion over all the world. The proposal is very straightforward, calling for “a supranational authority” with “universal jurisdiction”, run by the UN, which would usurp and destroy national sovereignty. Not quite what #Occupy and the Indignados had in mind. The idea hasn't a prayer.

Silly Question: Should Some Bankers Be Prosecuted? Some?

Guns, Sticking To: Senate Republicans, marching lockstep over the cliff, have blocked a bill that would have provided funding to enable cash-starved states to put nearly 400,000 teachers and public safety officers back to work, citing the program as another effort by Democrats to drive the nation further into debt while pandering to unions. It will also help increase the number of the uneducated and the afraid, who are seen as potential GOP voters.

Daily Doom: Paul Erlich, who's been wrong before, says there is a 90% chance that our global civilization will collapse from famine, drought, poverty and conflict. And global warming. And far, far too many people. Before you dismiss him out of hand, figure out how you think we'll feed the next two billion folks who show up for dinner.

Persistence: The American Family Business Foundation, which was founded to “abolish the Death Tax', is trying to convince the Super-Duper commission to repeal the estate tax in the name of creating jobs. Quite how providing more money to rich kids so they won't have to work creates jobs wasn't specified.

Inaction In Action: We know anthropogenic climate change is an immense problem that will only get worse if nothing is done. Yet nothing is being done. The reasons nothing is being done to avoid the inevitable and disastrous results of climate change are that it is a slow moving phenomenon, mostly invisible on a day-to-day basis, that any effective remediation would require global consensus in undertaking coordinated, expensive actions to prevent problems we cannot yet see, and largely because the initial effects will be mainly visited upon poor nations no one really cares about.

Monday, October 24, 2011

SAR #11295

One size fits all none.

Rumor Mill: The Telegraph is reporting that EU leaders are discussing formation of a single Uber-Treasury to oversee tax and budgetary policies for all 17 eurozone nations. Good Idea if you can get 17 nations to give up their sovereignty before Greece pulls the house down.

So Much For Recovery: Sharp declines in consumer sentiment generally signal dramatic increases in unemployment. The theory is that workers know their jobs are at risk before the actual cuts arrive. That said, raise your hand if you know what consumer confidence just did.

Water, Water, Everywhere: The flooding in Thailand – well over a month old – will continue for several more weeks. The waters are expected to be a meter-deep in Bangkok. About 10% of Thailand's rice crop has already been destroyed. Thailand is – or was – the world's largest exporter of rice.

Public Enemy: Even the Republicans have started to notice that “few economists have been more correct about the economic crisis of the last several years than the proudly liberal Paul Krugman.”

Slightseeing: Travel agents are inviting us to visit Europe, where progress is their most important talking point. As of Sunday, European leaders have boldly agreed to… announce something later in the week. Maybe. By Wednesday evening European leaders will have held nine conferences in five days. When they lose their jobs they can form a convention planning bureau.

What, Me Worry? Goldman Sachs has already set aside $10 billion for year-end bonuses.

Vocabulary: Define 'outside investors' as used in this sentence: “European finance ministers are considering setting up a fund to entice outside investors to buy troubled euro-area government bonds.” (Hint, it is a synonym for “deus ex machina”.)

Asked & Answered: Is the flat tax fair? No, of course not, that's why the right wing is in favor of it.

Limits: According to the International Water Management Institute, within 14 years water scarcity will force most of North Africa and the Middle East, plus Pakistan, South Africa and large parts of China and India to depend on food imports for their survival. The Institute did not explain just where all this food would come from.

Sic Transit Gloria: He who dies with the most toys, dies. Gaddafi had hidden away about $200 billion, but he's still dead.

Subversion: Go look, it's worth the click.

Burn Before Reading: Economists at the European Commission reviewed the situation in Greece and issued a confidential report detailing how the austerity measures imposed by the EU/ECB had lead to recession, not to a sudden burst of productivity.

Just-us: Six of the eight GOP Wannabees want to wipe away lifetime tenure for federal judges, cut the budgets of courts that displease them and force judges to come before Congress to explain their decisions. Michelle Bachmann wants to prevent the court from getting involved in social issues like segregation, voting, abortion and slavery. Also, Rick Santorum claims that Obama “lost the war in Iraq”. Not true, but even if it were, it 'tis a far, far better thing than starting the damned thing in the first place. Ron Paul promises to end all federal student aid. Rick 'Birther' Perry says he doesn't know if Obama's birth certificate is Obama's birth certificate.

Stopped Clock: Iran's Ahmadinejad thinks it is “an ugly thing” that the US spends more on its military than on its unemployed.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SAR #11293

The US bails out Europe, then something, something... happily ever after.

Promises, Promises: After more than a week of promising that the sun would shine 'tomorrow', tomorrow never came, but maybe next Wednesday. The haircut (called 'private sector involvement') for Greek bondholders has grown to 60% ( €252 billion). The market, of course, went up.

Wise Guys: The FBI says there are about 1.4 million gang members in the US, and that they are now engaging in white collar crimes such as identity theft, counterfeiting, selling stolen goods and even bank, credit card and mortgage fraud, because “the likelihood of being caught is less, the sentences once you are caught are less, and the actual monetary gain is much higher.” Just ask a Wall Street banker.

Let's Make A Deal: Wannabe Rick Santorum says he would be willing to “die” in the fight against marriage equality. I don't think it'll work but I'm willing to let him try.

Revision:  The US Senate is revising the nation's visa application and approval process to insure that any foreigner who buys an expensive house in the US can get a visa to live in it. Too late for Muammar Gaddafi, but Manuel Noriega is delighted.

Your Turn: How, in the midst massive unemployment, did the deficit become the most important issue in the nation? And why, given the overwhelming evidence that austerity measures raise unemployment and hinder economic growth, are budget cuts the main preoccupation of politicians? Who is pushing austerity, and why? Will there be a special place in hell for them?

Air Power: In an attempt to do less harm to the environment while blowing things up and killing people, the Air Force is using biofuels to power F-16s.

Take the Money and Run:  If your bank is going to charge you a monthly fee just to have a debit card, find a smaller local bank that doesn't. Ditto if your bank suddenly invents fees for what used to be basic services. If your current bank wants to charge you a “termination fee”, pay it and leave, it will be one of the best investments you can make. Don't wait – the big banks know it will be inconvenient. They're banking on it. 

Asked & Answered:  “Why hasn’t the US taken steps to curtail carbon emissions?”  Mainly because the polluters have bought enough politicians to ensure an unbreakable filibuster of any effective action.  Another case of minority rule.

Just So:  “Wall Street is like the mafia…”

Always the Low Price Wages, Always: Walmart employees working less than 24 hours a week will no longer be able to get health insurance through the company. Those working 24 – 33 hours weekly will no longer be able to have their spouse on the plan. Full time employees (34 or more hours) will pay up to 40% more for their coverage. Employees who smoke will pay an additional $90 a pay-period. The company said that ever-rising premiums were the reason for the increases. Nationwide in 2011, the annual premiums for an average family's health care coverage is up 9% to more than $15,000 – more than the after-tax income of a minimum wage earner working 40 hours a week.

Semaphore:  The politicians in Alberta, Canada – home to the oil sands environmental disaster – claim that the EU’s plans to categorize oil from oil sands “a highly polluting fuel” is unfair.  Accurate, but unfair.

Convenience: A lot of folks who think they don't have any obligation to the less fortunate are happy to embrace the current GOP mantra that blames the unemployed for being unemployed. No cognitive dissonance for them – and very little social conscience, either.

Friday, October 21, 2011

SAR #11292

America’s moral compass is broken.

Daydreaming: October 23rd does not fall on October 23rd this year. It may not happen at all if that's the day that the European Condition gets resolved as promised and a way is found to convince Greek bondholders to accept a 40 to 60% loss without noticing that Greece has defaulted. In addition, some alphabet agency will have bought up 20% of those losses by borrowing some money that was printed up for them and then leveraging that 5 or more times to issue bonds that someone-to-be-named-later will buy.

Static: Another week of statistical noise on the unemployment front, as claims were reported at 403,000, down a tad from the previous week's guess.

Play Date: The chances that the Pentagon will actually suffer $350 billion in cuts – much less the $1 trillion promised by the “trigger” if the Super Dupes don't agree on cuts – are: a) little b) none. c) ain't gonna study war no more. d) what part of campaign financing don't you understand?

Bait and Switch:Freddie Mac says that a 30-year mortgage can be had for 3.94%. Actual lenders say that the average rate is 4.32%. That's because the lower rate is for that small slice of buyers who can put down 20% and have flawless credit scores. The other 90% pay more, some a lot more – in the 4.5 to 5% range.

Getting to Nominal: What sort of a world do we have when economists – acknowledging that fiscal and monetary policies have failed - advise the central bank to adopt “expectations-based monetary policy”? Click your heels.

Less is Less: Data gleaned from payroll tax reports shows there were fewer jobs last year, and they paid less, too. The median income was $26,364, down 1.2% y/y, while a half-million fewer Americans had jobs. The number of people making over $1 million increased by 20% y/y. God bless the child that's got his own.

Draining the Swamp: Spain will miss its deficit targets because of lower than projected economic growth caused by the cuts in government spending and increases in taxes that the government instituted as a way to achieve its deficit targets. Rinse and repeat.

Thought Experiment: The Wannabes, as a group, promise to cut federal spending by huge amounts. But the US economy depends on consumer spending, and that is dropping because many former consumers do not have jobs and thus have no money. Depriving them of more money by cutting federal social support spending will slow the economy even more. By the end of the year the GOPers will be celebrating the imposition of 'automatic' cuts following the failure of the SuperDupers. And that will slow the economy even more. Your mission: find a way out of this economic death spiral.

Two'fer: US housing builders completed a record low number of houses last year and will most likely put up even fewer this year.

End Discussion: If a person whose income consists only of wages makes $100,000, she will pay $7,650 in payroll taxes, plus $21,617 in income tax – a total tax burden of 30%. A man with the same income in qualified dividends pays zero. The average annual income for those over 65 is $18,500 a year – most of it from Social Security. Have a nice day.

Daily Doom: A string of European bank collapses will lead to a new American Revolution paced by the #OccupyWallStreet movement. It will start with a Greek default, but it won't be called a default. It should be called a domino, for other European sovereign debt will fall under siege – first Spain, the Italy. The European mega-banks will collapse and the ripples will lead to a global credit freeze and a global depression. The 2008 meltdown never ended, lessons were never learned, reforms never instituted. The end game is accelerating.

Truth in Packaging: Rush Limbaugh “Emails have been found...” No, I didn't leave my emails laying about – someone hacked my computer and stole them.

The Curse of Good Intentions: Louisiana’s thoughtful representatives have banned the use of cash payments in all buying and selling of used goods. It won't work, of course, because it would end all garage sales, second hand shops and so on, as well as making life very difficult – the object – for pawn shops. It also contravenes US law which states that the dollar is “legal tender for all debts, public and private.”

Porn O'Graph:Our Hero's record.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

SAR #11291

...because a miracle might happen.

Up, Up and Away: Tired of listless GDP? Need a little pick-me-up? The newest (shh, pretend you haven't heard it before) idea making the rounds is for the Fed to pump up inflation enough (2%, 8%, 17.5% ?) so that nominal GDP grows at whatever rate Mr. Bernanke desires. In other words, conventional wisdom is coming around to Krugman's position about bond vigilantes and raging inflation – they're missing in action and a little inflation is a Good Idea. Sure it will kill fixed investments, the retired and so on, but it'll fool most of the people so the government can pay off some of its debt with worthlesser dollars. Pull the other one, it's got bells. Now that the maybe it is time to start worrying a bit.

Double or Nothing: Greek one year bonds are now priced to yield 188%. Or more likely, zero.

Slip Out The Back, Jack: The US will be tiptoeing out of Iraq at the end of December, the end of a defeat that started the day Blackwater mercenaries shot up Nisoor Square. The US leaves behind a failing state and takes with it nothing – no permanent bases, no staunch ally against Iran, no new friend for Israel and no cheap oil; none of the spoils that were promised when our illegal war of aggression began.

Real Tales: With Christmas decorations out already, layaway being touted as the next best thing to actual credit, prices being cut already with more cuts soon to come, it's no wonder that retailers are very stingy about staffing for the season. Even so, “retail stocks have been outpacing the market.

Creeds: Progressives assume we are all in this together, that money is not speech, and tht corporations should not be confused with people. Regressives say it is each for himself, money can buy happiness and that America can survive only if the rich are rewarded and the poor punished for being lazy.

Not Ready for Prime Time: In today's episode, the real problem is found not to be peak oil but that there is too much fossil fuel and that energy prices are not going “ever upwards” because of “the oil industry’s never ending ability to develop new extraction technologies and discover new sources of supply.” “Balderdash!” says Snidely (played by the IEA), “ The world is headed for a 'dire future' where high energy prices drag on economic growth.” But wait, in a plot complication, Jeffery insists the problem is not the supply, but the cost of the supply, because all the easy oil is gone and drilling in the Arctic isn't going to be a no-brainer like drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, Jim Hansen and the climate change crowd say we cannot afford to burn any more fissile fuel because the environmental cost is too high. Reminds me of a midget car act.

With Or Without: The US wholesale price index went up a seasonally adjusted 0.8% (with energy and food on the shopping list) or 0.2% (without buying the stuff that went up a lot). Wholesale prices are up 6.9% y/y (with) or 2.5% (without).

Belaboring the Obvious: David Rosenberg has gone and questioned the received wisdom that we can fix the problem of too much debt by issuing ever more debt. He won't get invited to the victory dinner.

Sea Change: We are usually regaled with predictions – 18 inches, a yard, more - of how much sea level will rise by 2100, with an unconscious message that after 2101 the sea will stop rising. At our current pace of not cutting down on CO2 emissions one little bit for fear of hurting someone's profits, sea levels will reach a 20 foot increase by 2500 and keep on keeping on. Smoke 'em if you''ve got 'em.

Places, please: Forgetting that they no longer share the secret handshake of socialism, Turkmenistan is pouting over Russia's efforts to keep the European natural gas market for themselves. Turkmens do not seem to be naturals at this capitalism stuff.

Porn O'Graph: You just can't get there from here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SAR #11290

What follows the end of growth? The rest of the 21st Century.

Keep One Hand On Your Wallet: BofA has shifted derivatives with a notational value of $75 trillion from Merrill Lynch into a subsidiary insured by the FDIC. The Federal Reserve thinks this is fine because it takes pressure off of BofA, the counter-parties are grinning from ear-to-ear, BofA says it doesn't need FDIC's approval, the FDIC says it's been kidnapped and the taxpayer is being feed roofies.

No Offer Refused: Germany, trying to sell €5 billion in 10-year Bunds could only find buyers for €4.075 billion. What sort of euro-saving superhero can only sell 80% of its debt?

Magic Pumpkin: Once more European leaders say they will end the debt crisis soon, promising that “the results of the October 23 summit will be decisive." By issuing 200 billion euros worth of new debt and conjuring up 2 trillion more in make believe money, they will make the problem vanish. When Merkel and Sarkozy claim they’ve got everything under control, remember that they are politicians and their lips are moving. Realistically, Greece is not the issue; Europe as a whole is broke and running out of credible creditors to band-aid the banking crisis. A banking system collapse over there is over due.

Do As I Say Not As I've Done For 40 Years: The IMF is lecturing the G20, telling them that their focus on austerity cuts is wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Autumn Leaves: The MBA reports a 8.8% decline in mortgage purchase applications and 16.6% fall in refinance applications last week. This is the lowest level for the purchase index since 1996. The four largest US banks report a 24% y/y decline in the value of mortgages written in the third quarter.

Check's In The Mail: European banks have pledged to reduce lending and sell off assets to the tune of $1trillion over the next two years. This is the same as taking €775 billion out of circulation, which is the very essence of deflation.

Down and Down We Go... The big banks are reporting that both homeowners and credit-card borrowers are falling further behind on their payments. Also, the banks report their 64% increase in subprime credit card issuance is turning out to have been a Bad Idea.

Underwhelmed: Some are making a big stink out of the FBI and police infiltration and surveillance of the #Occupy protests around the country. Why they don't add in the surveillance provided by the cell-phone providers, the CIA, NSA and Homeland Schierheit Security shows how accustomed we have become to having no privacy.

Day Late... The UN says the world should prepare for a civil war in Syria. Prepare?

Progress: Wages for the average American male peaked in 1973. The median inflation-adjusted household income hasn't changed in over 30 years. The top 1 percent of U.S. households gobble up about a quarter of all income.

Downer: The headline - “Geithner Plan for Europe is last chance to avoid global catastrophe” - depressed me on so many levels I couldn't bring myself to read it.

Unforgiveable: Student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Unlike a no-recourse mortgage loan, student loans are forever. That's important to remember because the $850 billion student loan bubble is bigger than the credit card market. Things are so bad that – to quote a banker who knows, “lenders are no longer pushing loans to people who can't afford them.” And if you can't find a job, you can't pay back the loan. But when you do find a job you gotta pay it back. Remember, education is a lifetime investment.

The “g” is Silent: At a professional Scrabble tournament, contestants wanted a suspected letter thief strip searched to locate a missing “G” tile.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

SAR #11289

America has rescued itself before.

Depending on the Definition of 'Is': Citi reported earnings of $3.8 billion, based on earnings of $500 million and the enthusiastic application of accounting magic. Goldman Sachs lost $383 million this quarter - $.84 a share. Couldn't happen to nicer Masters of the Universe.

It's A Girl Thing: Thousands of Yemeni women demonstrated in Sanaa, begging the UN to intervene in the ongoing strife with the American-backed repressive dictatorship. Elsewhere, the Arab League has given Syria's President Assad 15 days to come to his senses or else.’ Or else’  what was not specified.

Price Tag: In order to save its banks, Europe needs to impose some $7 trillion worth of austerity measures on the hapless citizenry, rather quickly. This will, of course, ensure a decade or more of chronic depression-level economic misery, but must be done to save the rich from their mistakes.

For Want of a Nail: Amazon, which first taught readers they didn't need bookstores, then freed them from print itself, is about to demonstrate the antiquity of the publishing business. It will publish 122 books this fall, in both physical and e-book form. It is the natural step in the progression from movable type to no type at all.

Get Out the Vote: Ex-wannabe (well, he's probably still a wannabe but he's aware that it is not going to happen) Mike Huckabee suggests that one fine way to insure the Republicans carry the day is to slash the tires of known Democrats on election day. So many of us vote early/absentee anymore that this will probably not work.

Getting to Zero: Empirical data suggests that, contrary to established theory, lower, zero and negative interest rates actually prompt people to save more, not consume more. And followed to its extreme this can (in theory) lead to total state ownership of everything. Or so this interesting theory suggests.

Politics, Illustrated: In a perfect demonstration of the logic of politics, the Department of Agriculture is being chastised by senators from potato-growing states for attempting to fight America's obesity epidemic by cutting down the starch in school-kids lunches. Profits, and thus votes, before children's health; sounds about right.

Acceptable Risk: Four US banks: JPMorgan, Citi, BofA, and Goldman Sachs hold 95.9% of all American-held derivatives. They say that the risk inherent to derivatives is modest and under control. Yet the notational value of outstanding derivative contracts is above $600 trillion. The total annual output of the entire world is only $65 trillion. Even if only 10% of derivatives were to go splat there would not be enough money in the world to kiss it and make it better. But the experts say that less than $8 trillion is actually at risk - as though that's supposed to make us feel better.

Secret Is As Secret Does: According to the administration, the federal government's interpretation of the Patriot Act is so flaky it must be kept secret. Not even a redacted version will be released in response to FOI requests. If they let you see it, they have to cart you off to Guantanamo - for your own good.

To Better Serve... Verizon is selling to third-party marketers your Internet history, your cellphone usage and location at the time of use, and the applications you use on your cellphone. It's part of the service and there will be no extra charge.

Multiple Guess: The Arctic Ocean will be ice free in: a) 100 years. b) 50 years. c) 25 years. d) 10 years. These estimates, in this order, have all been “right” at one time or the other over the past decade.

Them: Wannabe Ron Paul wants to cut the federal workforce by 10%, eliminate five Federal Departments - starting with Education and Energy. He would cut the federal workforce by 10%, cut the EPA's funding by 30%, eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividends and do a whole bunch of other silly things. This may explain why Mr. Paul gets the respect he deserves little respect in the mainstream press.

Monday, October 17, 2011

SAR #11288

The economic world assumes growth will continue forever.

Piper, Paying: Does Euro need Greece more than Greece needs Euro? Yes.

Once More Time: Barclays sees banks moving houses through foreclosure to REO status at an accelerating rate and expects that the increasing supply of REO will far exceed the demand for REO properties, triggering another decline in house prices.

Piece of Cake: All European leaders have to do this week is agree on how big a haircut Greek bondholders must take, convince them to take it, find a way to make most of the bondholders' loss go away, recapitalize nearly every bank on the continent, get Greece to sell off the rest of its patrimony and convince both the European taxpayers and the Greek populace that they are having a good time. Right. Meanwhile the yield on 1-year Greek bonds is at 170% and climbing. Truth: Greece will default. All the blather is just Europe buying time to shift the losses to the peasantry. The recession is on schedule.

Punishment: Portugal was (unrealistically) told to cut its budget deficit from 9.6% last year to 5.9% this. Despite a series of tax hikes and pay and welfare cuts they are not going to even come close. So the people have been told there will be increasing austerity, pay cuts, and tax hikes. The government is confiscating pension funds, stopping civil servants' bonuses and vacation pay, and making “very substantial” cuts to health care and education. Take notes, they may come in handy.

Yuan from Column A: Not only do more Americans lack access to adequate food and health care than at the peak of the Great Recession, as a percentage of the population, three times as many Americans, as a percentage of the population, have problems feeding their families than do the Chinese.

Illustrated Dictionary: Terror and tyranny in a police state. Let the games begin.

Intimations: Financial industry profits went from 8% of the US economy in 1948 to 45% in 2002 and have continued to grow. Not bad for a bunch of paper-pushers whose job is supposed to be helping people who make things make things. This enormous diversion of profit from the productive economy to the financiers happened simultaneously with the destruction of US manufacturing, the death of collective bargaining, higher chronic unemployment, debt slavery, and Monday Night Football.

Them: Wannabe Rick Santorum says that single mothers are the base of the Democratic Party and that building “two parent families, you eliminate that desire for government.” Wannabe Herman Cain says that there should be no abortion “under any circumstances”, “no exceptions for rape and incest”. He also says that “liberals want to destroy this country... it is their mission.”

Red Queen in the Oil Patch: Saudi Arabia's domestic demand for petroleum will double over the next 15 years, from 3.4 mbd today to 8.3 mbd. The Saudi's produce just over 9.2 mbd today. As the IEA says, “Oil demand is set to increase.” Supply, not so much.

No Loitering: Soon your local shopping center will track you via your cell phone. They will when and how often you shop, where you go in the mall, where you pause, what shops you go into and for how long. The will even know, within a few feet, which displays you stop at and which you don't. Leave the phone in the car.

Marketwise: Are those newly hired, high-price CEO's worth what they're paid. No.

Just Sayin': In the first week of January 2012, half a million unemployed workers will exhaust their benefits. By Valentine's day, there will be over 2.2 million long term unemployed who have exhausted their benefits. Thanks to Republican's puritanical preference for punishing the unemployed, after January 1st the unemployed will receive payments for a maximum of 6 months, after which they go on the slag heap.

True Grit: Rather than increase taxes by $3.25 a person a year, Texas Republicans have refused to undertake projects to help provide water over the coming decades. It will be philosophically far more satisfying to suffer drought than suffer taxes.

Porn O'Graphs: Who got what, when? (Hint, it wasn't you and it was a lot.)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

SAR #11286

Civil disobedience is contagious.

Handedness: On the one hand, the private sector continues to slowly add jobs, while on the other hand the government – at all levels – is rapidly downsizing. Who is getting the ax? Well, it's not the Pentagon – the defense sector added 39,000 jobs over the last two years, while the rest of the federal government laid off 43,000. State governments laid off 58,000. And local governments cut 469,000 jobs – including 249,000 teachers.

The Plan: What do these flaky protesters want? Oh, just to change America into a democracy.

Thus and So: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warns of retreat in Africa due to budget cuts – apparently the military has a bunch of little wars in the R&D phase that need the encouragement only money can buy. He also said that automatic spending cuts would be ‘mindless’ - showing that he understands the idea.

Tag Sale: S&P has put Spain on the markdown table. Make an offer.

More Of Less: Last year, municipal governments income fell 2.3%, the fifth consecutive yearly decline, while their budgetary costs – especially for workers' health care, but also for pensions and everything else, continued to rapidly increase. That's whey 72% of US cities are laying off workers this year, plus cutting social services and essential infrastructure repairs. Our cities are broke and are going to get even broker.

Either/Or: The same day GM announced the Chevy Spark 100% electric car, it also announced the 580 hp Chevy Camaro. One size, it seems, does not fit all.

Our Gang: The US is sending about 100 “combat-equipped U.S. forces,” including special operations personnel, to central Africa to help secure Uganda's resources for US corporations fight against Uganda’s renegade Lord’s Resistance Army.

Verity: If everyone cuts spending at the same time, everyone's income must fall. Someone's got to spend or the squirrel cage stops going 'round.

Seen This Movie Before: NPR is shocked to discover that defense contractors are turning to PR to save their slice of the pie. Why? Isn't defense contractor PR generally the largest item in a defense contract?

The Butler Didn't Do It: A careful examination by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas of the data available on the run-up in the price of oil to $145 a barrel in July 2008, concluded that evidence is consistent with oil-market fundamentals leading to increasing oil prices before the global recession, not the manipulations of evil speculators.

From A to B: The Green Revolution of the late 20th century took the world from 3 billion people to 7 billion. Before you tell me what a good thing this was, tell me how we are going to feed the next 3 or 4 billion.

Easier Said Than Done: Do those who blithely say that Greece's way out is to drop the euro and return to the drachma understand that all of the planning for such a move would have to be done in absolute secrecy, and the plan implemented nearly instantaneously less there be an massive capital flight from the country? IM me if you think it can be done. Or tweet it. Let us know via Facebook...

Bear With Me: Pimco's Bill Goss has mad a "super-long bet" on US Treasuries, implying that he thinks yeilds will fall even more - which won't happen if the economy picks up.

Don't Try This At Home: BofA and some Wall Street firms that have been fighting marking the bad paper they hold down to their real values (if any) are recording profits this quarter by marking their own debt down and booking the difference as income.

Porn O'Graph: Education pays...

Friday, October 14, 2011

SAR #11285

Why aren't market rallies called 'selling opportunities'?

White Noise: The figure for this weeks 'seasonally adjusted initial unemployment claims” was 404,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 405,000 or an increase of 3,000 from the originally reported 401,000. It really doesn't matter; it's a zero-point-something-percent variance to a number that is pretty much a guesstimate to begin with. Statistical noise.

Hell No, We Won't Go: Mayor Bloomberg has told the OWS people that they must leave Zuccotti Park on Friday so it can be 'cleaned'. Or cleansed... Rather predictably, the protesters have become hard of hearing.

Good Words:“The unanimous decision by Senate Republicans on Tuesday to filibuster and thus kill President Obama’s jobs bill was still a breathtaking act of economic vandalism.” So sayeth the NY Times editorial page.

Bring Out Your Dead: The cost of maintaining foreclosed REO properties, paying the taxes on them and ponying up for the code violations that accompany long-vacant, unsalable properties has led some of the nation's largest banks to begin giving away scores of such properties, or paying to have them demolished. It is cheaper to destroy them than sell them.

Point Of View: Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) claims that a bill that permits hospitals to refuse treatment to pregnant women is not misogynistic. The hospitals can also deny service to pregnant men.

The Pennsylvania Plan: The GOP's planned 'reform' of the way Pennsylvania's electoral votes are allocated, from a winner take all system to a Congressional District level apportioning that can lead to the candidate (Obama?) with the majority of votes in the state ending up with a minority of electoral votes - thanks to the magic of GOP-controlled redistricting - is spreading. The Koch Brothers' Wisconsin subsidiary is looking into it as a way of crippling the Democrats even further than Obama already has.

Free At Last: The 'free trade' agreements approved by Congress are, of course, not about free trade. The Joint Economic Committee found that those whose jobs will be shipped overseas by these agreements are those who will have the most trouble finding new jobs. They are older workers, those without college education. Those who did not have the foresight to be born white and upper-class.

Asked and Answered: “Do the 'Occupy Wall Street' protesters represent your views of the nation's economic problems?” 1) No = 26.6%. 2) Maybe = 2.6%. 3) Yes = 70% 4) G'way = 0.8%. Hat tip to Fox News.

Want List: OWS is not demanding a revolution, not even equality. They simply want to have a chance. They want access to health care, education and not to be constantly exploited by the rich. They do not want to continue living month-to-month under the burden of unrepayable debt. They are not demanding democracy in the workplace or nor shorter hours or higher pay Their motivation is simple: they want the basic right to survive. Our society has regressed far back in time to a period before organized labor - the peasants are at the castle gate, hats in hand, asking simply for the hope of survival.

Leading By Example: Republican TN state Rep Curry Todd, who sponsored a bill allowing patrons to bring their handguns into bars, has been arrested for driving loaded drunk, with a loaded gun.

Elephant? What Elephant? Overpopulation is the complication to every other major problem facing mankind that no one talks about. It doesn't attract the efforts and money of the rich and famous because it is too big. And insoluble. And profitable. The burgeoning populations in China and India are simultaneously “lower labor costs” and “Emerging Markets” More people means cheaper labor, more demand and bigger profits - where's the problem?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

SAR #11284

Greece is a symptom, not the disease.

Think: Greece's 10-year bonds are trading at a 60% discount, but European banks can pretend they are worth face value as long as there is no formal default. These bad loans cannot be made “whole” and Greece will default, no matter who promises what for Halloween, especially when “no details of the plan were released”, and meetings to formulate a “final solution” get postponed.

Remember the Maine! The US intends to use the supposed plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador as a springboard for new global sanctions aimed at isolating Iran.

Frying Pan / Fire: The Iraqi government wants to be able to try US troops in Iraqi courts when they commit crimes in Iraq. The US doesn't believe that members of the Legion should answer to minor chieftains in outlying dependencies. Iraq threatens to replace US soldiers with mercenaries private contractors – who don't have a particularly exemplary record vis a vis Iraqi civilians.

Chumming: Applications for new mortgages and mortgage refinancing both rose last week, as loan size decreased 1% to 1.5% m/m. Today's low mortgage rates are projected to generate a "feeding frenzy" of house purchases next spring. Or the one after that.

Pay As You Go: When conservatives complain that 47% of Americans do not pay income taxes, remember that most of them do pay Social Security, Medicare, sales taxes and the extra hit on gasoline and alcohol. They also are most likely to get sucked into giving money to the state via lotteries. They don't pay income taxes because they are poor. As for the pooh-poohing of the Occupy movements, remember that there is not a single metric where the 99% of us control 99% of anything.

Trashing the Place: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's capital city, hasn't got enough capital to pay its debts and has filed for bankruptcy. The city owes $242 million and is $65 million behind on its payments - mostly for a state-of-the-art trash-to-energy incinerator.

Hippocratic Oath: Financial leaders should adhere rigidly to the principle “first do no harm...”

Unchained Melody: Georgia is not a newcomer to the idea of making prisoners work as unpaid laborers (a fine definition of slavery), so using prisoners as firefighters is a cost-cutting measure just seems logical. And they are not the first to do so; California has more than 4,000 inmates stationed at 45 camps throughout the state for fighting forest fires. Perhaps other states could keep some social services going longer if they used prisoners as playground supervisors, day-care attendants.

In The Center Ring: While everyone was concentrating on the Keystone XL pipeline, the Interior Department approved drilling for oil in the Arctic off the northwest coast of Alaska.

Clarification: Obama's jobs bill did not fail in the Senate – no matter how many headlines claim otherwise. The GOP minority prevented the Senate from considering the jobs bill. A difference with a distinction. Afraid (or rather, convinced) that they would lose a vote on the jobs bill, or worse yet be forced to face the electorate having voted against it, they simply blocked consideration of the bill. Democracy in America, where 'the minority rules' is the rule.

Keep Your Pants On: Levi Strauss says customers didn't buy new jeans for back-to-school. Going forward, the company's CFO says “It is hard to imagine a very robust holiday season..."

The Daily Doomster: The factors (mainly the collapse of debt-driven consumer demand) which caused the first crash are still in place, so what we have experienced so far is simply prologue. Without serious changes, none of which are on the horizon, “another Great Depression is all but inevitable.”

It Still Moves... Bowing to authorities' right to be wrong, a Rice University oceanographer says he will let his article on sea-level rise go unpublished rather than accede to the state environmental agency's demand that he delete references to human-caused environmental changes - which are not in conformity with Texas' state-mandated scientific-political belief system..

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SAR #11283

Will the people back down again?

Das Fault: Germany is reportedly quietly working for a Greek default that would impose 50 - 60% haircuts on banks and institutional investors - much more than the 21% loss they were forced to accept in earlier negotiations.

Lend Lease: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has tasked his lawyers to find a way to legalize the illegal Israeli settlements that have been built on privately owned Palestinian land. He should borrow those guys in the US Justice Department who found legal grounds for the assassination of citizens without judicial process. Stealing Arab property should be a cinch for them.

Permanent War Austerity: The European Union says that all of the eurozone requires a permanent regime of tough austerity measures. Never mind that they haven't worked anywhere they've been tried, the poor must be made to suffer for the excess of the rich. It's the natural order of things.

Pea/Mattress: American hedge funds have assets approaching $1.4 trillion. This is starting to keep me awake.

97 Pound Gorilla: The Republican minority is again going to stymie the will of the majority - this time it's the jobs bill - then whine that they had nothing to do with the matter because they are the minority party.

A Kate Hepburn Moment: Irum Abbasi, a Pakistaini-born US citizen, was yanked off her Southwest Airlines flight for saying "I've got to go" into her phone when the crew said it was time to turn off all electrical devices. Going, apparently, is frowned upon by Southwest. Or maybe it was using a cellphone while wearing a head scarf. Go before you get on the plane.

Not News: A major investigation into corruption in the upper levels of Afghan provincial and national government has been terminated, with no prosecutions. Elsewhere, the US Justice Department still has not indicted a single Wall Stre....

License, Registration and Cellphone: Warrantless and Search are two words that should not be allowed to marry - not even in California. There are no qualifiers in the Constitution that let the government abridge your rights “in some circumstances”.

99.99% Pure: Wannabe Romney, proving he can sense the mood of the mob, has decided that Occupy Wall Street is no longer dangerous class warfare, but actually represents the discontent of the 99% who wouldn't qualify for his proposed $6.6 trillion in tax cuts for the 1% who run the place.

The Night the Lights went Out in Illinois: Detroit area city Highland Park had fallen $4,000,000 behind on it's light bill, so DTE Energy removed 1,400 light poles, leaving most of the city in the dark. Energy costs are down, crime up and no new taxes....

Polling Places: A recent poll shows that the Quinnipiac poll is slightly ahead of Gallup and nearly even with Rasmussen and Public Policy Polling. The always unimportant polsl of straw voters gives various results depending on who pays for them.

Yet Another Record: The number of poor people in the US hit a record of 46 million in 2010 as the national poverty rate climbed for a third consecutive year – to the highest level since 1993. The recession ended in June 2009.

Porn O'Graph: And the winner is...