Tuesday, April 3, 2012

SAR #12094

The mastodon, bison and passenger pigeon failed to make their point.

Welcome To The New Boss: A significant change in American home ownership is underway, with investment groups buying literally 1,000's of foreclosed houses with the intent of converting them to rentals and operating them with healthy profit margins. Suburbia, Inc. is now renting.

Over There: PMI indexes in the Eurozone fell, with France at 46.7, Germany 48.4, Italy 47.9, Greece 42 and Spain at 44.5, none of which are ringing endorsements of austerity programs. The 10.8% unemployment rate for the 17-nation Eurozone, combined with youth employment of 50.5% in Spain, 50.4% in Greece, Portugal's youth at 35.4% and Italy's at 31.9% is not suggestive of a rapid recovery, either.

Silly Question: Can the US consumer keep spending? Sure, always has.

Monkeys, Jumping on the Bed: It is slowly dawning on the policy makers and their tame economists that the problem in the US, Europe and much of the rest of the developed world is a liquidity trap, and that austerity is exactly the wrong medicine for this illness. Some are beginning to ask if austerity has gone too far? Don't know, it's all Greek to me.

The Impossible Dream: In a display of participatory democracy unknown in the US, massive public protests in France have lead to a ban on planting Monsanto's genetically modified corn.

Divided Highway: In a less than rare show of bipartisan cowardice, Congress has passed another three month 'continuing resolution' to fund the nations “surface transportation”. This tells the states how much (or little) infrastructure work they can pay for in the next three months, but does not provide any basis for actual plans to do any actual infrastructure work. The last 4-year bill expired in late 2009 and our thoughtful legislators have kicked the can down the deteriorating road 9 times. Makes ya' proud

Ratings Rating: One of the true mysteries of the financial world – second only to the pathetic faith placed in economists' predictions - is why ratings agencies continue to exist.

Foreshadowing: The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa intend to create an organization to fund development projects and infrastructure construction in developing countries – bypassing the IMF and World Bank (Uncle Sam, prop.). They are also backing a drive to fund both development and trade in their currencies, not the US dollar. And that might be the play of the week.

Lifetime Learning: Current American retirees still owe $36 billion on their student loans, and it is “not uncommon” for Social Security checks to be garnished to repay these decades old loans. Folks in retirement homes get hounded by debt collectors for overdue payments on their college educations. Does it lower your debt if you send back the diploma?

The Rest of the Story: Google and Facebook do not accumulate every scrap of information about you that they can in orde to do Good Things. They do it to sell advertising, and to sell the raw data to others. It is the sum point of their business model. You are their product. ATT and Verizon don't want to take over the Internet in order to provide better service, but to provide better profits. Our only defense against these and similar behemoths are our much weakened and maligned anti-trust laws, which exist to protect us against them.

Porn O'Graph: Woo Pig Sooiee, Sooiee!!


Anonymous said...

Lifetime Learning:

With all the White Collar Crime and all the colleges and universities in the US, it seems very likely that there may be more than a few IT persons who have hacked the academic database for cash. After all, degrees now are just like subprime tranches, bits and bytes in a computer to be manipulated for gain. And we do know that those tranches were frauds.

I remember getting my first clone PC from some university IT guys, no sales tax---underground economy at work. I'm sure they were smart enough to realize that hacking the univeristy records would be far more profitable.

kwark said...

Re "The Rest of The Story" "Our only defense against these and similar behemoths are our much weakened and maligned anti-trust laws, which exist to protect us against them." HA, that's a good one CKM! The last time these laws were enforced, most of the lawyers in the Justice Department were in diapers. Besides, DOJ no longer has any computers that will read the 5" floppy discs containing all the case files - so they'll have to start from scratch!

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

Ah, yes. That should have read "which once protected us from them."
- ckm