Saturday, September 29, 2012

SAR #12272

We seem to be all checks, no balance.

Blame: The German view is that the Mediterraneans got into trouble because they greedily borrowed too much money from the hard-working Northerners. The truth is that the money that drained into the periphery was sent there happily by greedy northern bankers who knew the risks they were taking. Why is it we blame the borrowers but not the lenders?

Updated: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free make you an enemy of the state.” [Note: In separate press releases this afternoon, Mr. Michaelson and First Reader Gray denounced Assange and clarified that any statements they might have made appearing to support Wikileaks were speculative fiction intended solely for the entertainment of our audience.]

Numb 'ers: In August, personal income increased 0.1% while personal expenditures increased 0.5%. Sounds familiar. Real PCE went up just 0.1%, excluding gas and food, so lay off the gas and food.

Take A Memo: Ohio's Education Department finds that charter schools generally get worse results than public schools, at twice the per-pupil cost. Oh, Look. See John Run. See John Run Off With The Money.

Difference/Distinction: A broker sent oil prices to an 8 month high while drunk. How this varies from every other day on Wall Street was not immediately clear.

Strike One For Our Side: Krugman acknowledged, indirectly, that economic decisions are matters of social policy. If social and political cohesion is to be maintained, austerity quickly becomes counterproductive even for the creditors – someone should tell Ms. Merkel.

Longer Gone: If you've been out of work a month or so, your resume has about a 7% chance of at least getting you an interview. Not great, but about twice as good as your results after 8 months on the dole. But that beats the chances of someone with a job being invited to jump ship.

Fat & Happy: The 725% increase in CEO compensation over the last 20 years is regularly explained as being necessary to retain the best corporate leaders. Must be working, for less than 2% of CEOs have left one company for another in that time.

Complacency: Seems the European technocrats forgot that there are real people out there who also have something to say about austerity programs. Luckily, the people have gone out of their way to remind their leaders that the citizenry doesn't actually enjoy dumpster diving for supper. Now Brussels has to consider if this is just a protest against what is, after all, inevitable, or if 'No' actually mean's 'No!'

Asked & Answered: Is energy independence for the US possible? Yes, in fact it is inevitable, after a while. Because after a while there will be so little energy available for export that what you'll get is what you've got.

Datapoint: Labor productivity in the US has risen 80.4%” since 1973, while median wages and compensation rose only 10.7%.

Porn O'Graphic: The Smell of Victory.

The Parting Shot:


.Approaching Retirement.

Friday, September 28, 2012

SAR #12271

"We are on our way to energy independence, just not in the way that we expected."   Jeffrey Brown.

Clarification: Germany has straightened out a little misunderstanding about Draghi's plan to save the universe euro. They, along with Finland, Austria and the Netherlands have flatly rejected giving anyone any money to cover existing bad loans. Once Spain (or Italy, etc.) is bled dry finds a way to cleanup the current mess, then and only then could the ECB 'recapitalize' the banks. It is as if the lifeguard told the drowning person that if they made it to shore this time, the lifeguard would save them next time.

Updated: Patriotism Voter suppression is the last resort of scoundrels.

Numb 'ers: August new orders for manufactured durable goods fell 13.2% - the largest decrease since 2009. Everything except electrical equipment orders showed declines. Initial claims for unemployment were reported as 359,000, a 26,000 decrease from last week.

Horses/Water: Mortgage rates are at a new record low, but the consumer doesn't seem all that enthused.

Note on Political Reality: The question isn't should we redistribute wealth, but how much to redistribute from whom, to whom. That's it. We've been doing it at least since FDR and the Great Depression, it once worked pretty well, and it should not be treated as some disgusting secret – it is the only way to justify market capitalism in a democracy.

Networking: Facebook tracks everything you buy at over 1,000 different retailers, then sells your page to advertisers who peddle the sorts of things you buy. Like that.

Hergira: Because they had the balls effrontery to travel without a man guarding their honor, more than a thousand Nigerian women have been stuck in a Saudi airport for five days after being denied entry into the country. Their religion is keeping them from completing the most holy obligation of their religion.

Third Time/Charm: The “final” version US GDP for the second quarter has been revised – downward – to 1.25%. This is the lowest 'growth' since January 2011's 0.1% barn-burner.

Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat? Some economists wonder if home-ownership should be discouraged. The last 5 years or so should have been discouraging enough.

Cat/Bag: Czech President Klaus says that the exit of one or more member states from the euro zone won’t destroy either the monetary union or the departing country. For Greece, he says, leaving would be a “victory” for a victim of the system.

Enclosure: A pending bill in the PA legislature would let fathers politicians sell off public parks to their friends and backers if they felt it was for the “best.” 'Best' was not specifically defined. Commons – what's a commons?

Half A Loaf: Greek leaders have agreed to another series of spending cuts, the Greek people have not.  Ditto Spain.

Now I Lay Me... In NYC, almost 20,000 children spend the night in a homeless shelter. There would be more, but 65% of the homeless families that show up looking for shelter get turned away. USA! USA.

Remember the Maine Massachusetts: ‘Don’t forget,” Romney reminds us, “I got everybody in my state insured.”

The Parting Shot:


Mob scene.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

SAR #12270

If it violates your religion to vaccinate your children, get another religion.

Nowhere to Hide: New data suggest that global warming is costing the global economy $1.2 trillion a year in lost output, and about 4.5 million 'extra deaths'. This will grow to an 11% decline in global GDP by 2030 and 100 million 'extra deaths'. That's the down payment. After that things will get bad.

The Barber of Athens: Greece seems likely to default again, this time with haircuts all around. Seville's turn will come.

Quoted: It is “critically important that we not think of these new [voter suppression] laws as anything particularly ‘new’. They are but restatements of our oldest pathologies. A deep-seated fear of bestowing full American citizenship on non-whites, and particularly on blacks”. Ta-Nehisi Coates

Small Business Failure: Like many other small start-ups, Rafalca - Ann Romney's horse - has gone out of business.

What Goes Around... Yes, Social Security is an inter-generational transfer of funds. It raises the question of why we should look after the old – who cannot do much of anything to benefit us. Why? Because we'll damn well want someone to look after us when we're old, that's why.

Shocking: So far the Fed's QE/MBS buying spree is propping up profit margins at banks without benefiting would-be home buyers and those seeking to refinance.

Drive On: China has built 20,000 miles of expressways in the last 5 years. It is already the largest car maker and fast becoming the largest car buyer. Maybe they should send a delegation to the US to look at what the automobile has done to us, then look at our (oil) wars and our car-centric cities and our patterns of living and ask themselves if they really want to follow us down this road.

Future Tense: Camden, NJ, is considered (1) the poorest city in America, (2) the deadliest city in America. So, as any good insolvent city should do, it is cutting back on the frills it once could afford, like a police force.

Stopped Clock: Ralph Nader, who has said a lot of things over the years, now says that President Obama is a war criminal.

Liar's Poker: Iran claims that Siemens had put explosives in equipment it sold to the Iranians. Siemens responded that it “maintains no business dealings in connection to the Iranian nuclear program...” It is unclear if sending them booby trapped equipment would violate the trade embargo.

Datapoint: Half of Americans earning less than $30,000 a year have less than $100 in savings. More than half of Americans with children under 18 have less than $800 in savings.

Something's Going To Give: In 2005, there were 33 petroleum-exporting nations. Now there are only 30, Global oil exports have declined from 45.6 million barrels a day in 2006 to 43.7 mbd in 2011, in the face of increased demand from Asia and a fourfold increase in price. The competition for dwindling global oil exports is the driving force behind record high oil prices. For now, the US is still the largest net importer of petroleum products, but by 2030 China and India will want all of the available petroleum exports. All. The largest oil field in the Caspian has had a decline rate of 8.4% a year since it peaked 2 years ago. Production from the major fields in the Gulf of Mexico is declining more than 20% a year. The North Sea, over the last two years, has a decline rate ove 9% a year - in spite of 'new oil' that has come on line. And Saudi Arabia - the mother lode - is expected to reach zero petroleum exports by 2030 as its internal consumption and its falling production leave nothing for export. And by 2060 no producing nation will have any oil available for export. Plan accordingly.

Apology: The University of California at Davis is reportedly offering $1 million to settle the 'pepper-spraying cop' incident. Each of the victims will also get a personal letter from Chancellor Linda Katehi, suitable for framing.

The Parting Shot:


White out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SAR #12269

There are bigger forces than governments.

Mumbled Numbers: The S&P Case-Shiller Index shows that average house prices increased 1.6% m/m. Much of that increase was due to seasonal factors, absent which the increase was 0.4%, which is an annualized 5% rate. That probably will not continue. This is the lowest the slowest sequential increase in the past 5 months. At the current rate of decline, we may see falling prices this fall. The real story is that people don't seem to care. Besides, the housing market is far too small – a mere 2% of the economy – to make a difference.

Editorial Correction: Save the Children reports that Syrian children are being abducted, imprisoned and tortured and calls for these atrocities "to be better documented." to be stopped.

Rose Is Rose: The US has more than 10,000 weaponized drones, a large number of which terrorize the civilian population of Waziristan every day. Every night. As many as six drones will circle over one location, often for 24 hours a day. Waiting. And the people on the ground can hear them, see them. Every day. Every night. They never know when death will slam into them from the sky, but they know it could. Perhaps it will not kill them, today. Or their children, tonight.

Just Yesterday: We noted yesterday that the demise of popular uprisings was announced prematurely. Today there are resurgences in Spain and Portugal.

Since You Asked: Is climate change hell inevitable? Yes, if hell is a 4ºC  rise in global temperature -  because we are human.

Austerity Uber Alles: Angela is back on the soapbox, insisting that if you take Germany's money you are going to have to take Germany's advice. She said it more politely, but that's the essence.

Datapoints: More than a million Class of 2008 college graduates are living with mom and dad. Nearly 21 million 18 to 30 year-olds live with their parents. Canadian new home sales dropped 64% in August. Government changes to mortgages and home equity loans are blamed. The economic collapse in Greece continues. Unemployment is at 24.4% and increasing by 1% a month. About 30% of all businesses in Athens have closed – and nearly 50% in some areas. There's no economic life and thus no economic life to tax and thus no tax revenue. Spain's tax collections fell 4.6% in August, y/y, while government spending rose 8.9%. The nation's budget deficit rose to 4.77% of GDP from last year's 3.81%. Austerity rules!

Clarification: Paul Ryan acknowledges that he would “end Medicare as we know it.” Any questions?

Reality Check: In Valencia, Spain, the pharmacies have no pharmaceuticals. Quite why is a long and involved tale about boom and bust and economic blindness plus a real estate bubble bursting and the fall in tax revenues followed by austerity programs that further drove down the economy and tax revenues. But in the very real end, pharmacies have no pharmaceuticals because they, at least, have to pay their bills.

The Parting Shot:


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

SAR #12268

Before you say that the IMF's austerity programs have failed, ask who funds the IMF, who runs the IMF and who benefits from these 'failures'.

Numbness: The Chicago Fed's national activity index fell to a negative 0.87 in August, down from a very weak -0.12 in July. In that this is an index of indexes, it means that on average the economy is way below average. This marks six months in a row where this index ignored the The RecoveryTM.

Assurance: Romney says that everyone in the US has health insurance because if they have a heart attack they get taken to the ER. Then they get taken to the cleaners. That's his plan.

Briefly: "Capital flight is leading to the disintegration of the euro zone.” While Greece, in a last ditch attempt to prevent an inexorable slide into depression has announced that anything it can possibly do without - and many things it can't - are for sale. Make an offer, everything must go - islands, post offices, electric systems, democracy...

Quoted: “The current voting rights issue is even more serious: it’s a coordinated attempt by a political party to fix the result of a presidential election by restricting the opportunities of members of the opposition party’s constituency—most notably blacks—to exercise a Constitutional right.” Elizabeth Drew

Business Ethics: Microsoft, facing a $210,000 penalty for overestimating its power use, proceeded to waste millions of watts of electricity, just to keep its lower rate.

Organize! “The new Parti Québécois government scrapped a controversial increase in post-secondary tuition fees this week and a hardline student group is now turning to free education as its long-term goal.” Those who scoff at the accomplishments of the US #Occupy movement or Europe's Indignados and their offshoots are missing the forest for the trees.

Succinctly: The Mitten's housing white-paper, addressing both housing and the “too big to fail” problem by saying: “The Romney-Ryan plan will completely end “too-big-to-fail” by reforming the GSEs” and providing “a long-term, sustainable solution for the future of housing finance reform in our country.” That's it. No details. Nothing actually about houses or housing or mortgages or the underwater. No explanation why Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and the other “too gigantic to mess with” escape attention. Brevity is the soul of Romney/Ryan policy.

Life In The Camps: I know there is no privacy. I know they know everything about me. I know they can (and do) track my every coming in and going out, my every purchase. I know they read my emails and monitor my Internet usage. I know all that, but even so, I find Redpepper's 'Facedeals' particularly nauseating. Go, read.

Inside Joke: "Business is business. It should not be politicized” according to China's ambassador to Canada.

Blowing Smoke: Chevron built a bypass pipe that routed pollutants around monitoring equipment at its Richmond refinery and illegally burned them in the atmosphere. For four years. There will eventually be a fine. No one will go to jail. The number of added deaths in the nearby communities will never be known.

Bailing The Outs: The world's central banks - the Fed, IMF, ECB, and BOE, among others, have been saving us for five years now. How's your end of the boat doing?

Oil Prices: The drought in Spain may cut the world's supply of olive oil by 20%. Already the price of extra-virgin olive oil has spiked 50%, with another 20% rise anticipated. Trust, but verify.

Leg Bone Connected To The Hip Bone: The loss of Arctic ice is expected to result in weaker and slower-moving circulation patterns for the Jet Stream, presaging more "societally relevant" weather extremes - such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and even unusual cold spells. "Societally relevant." Ha.

Tutus On Pointe, Stage Right: Auditioning for the role of Confidence Fairy, Mitt said: “If it looks like I’m going to win, the markets will be happy. If we win on November 6th, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We’ll see capital come back and we’ll see — without actually doing anything — we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.”

The Parting Shot:


What you looking at, fella?

Monday, September 24, 2012

SAR #12267

The more money an American makes, the less actual work he or she does.

The Reign In Spain: Officials in Spain's Catalonian region are threatening to trigger a movement to separate Catalonia from the central government. It's all about the money, of course. Catalonia pays more to the central government than it gets in return, and right now Catalonia's banks and government are in serious need of additional funds. The best the central government can offer is to “study the matter.” There are about 7.5 million Catalonians; 1.5 million of them turned out in protest last week. The Spanish military was not amused and has threatened to “crush the vultures.”

Now What? The Obama "surge" is officially over in Afghanistan, having accomplished little, if anything. We can’t win the war in Afghanistan, no invader ever has. So we decided to train the Afghans for a while, then claim victory and head for the exit. But it turns out the Taliban outsmarted us on that one. Is there a plausible 'next'? We’re about to find out.

Gainful Unemployment: The unemployed Mitten raked in so much he decided to give Uncle Sam an extra $260,000. Just to save face. (But he can amend his return later and get the refund.) He once said “I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due, I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president.” I don't think he's qualified to be president,either, but that's not the reason.

Get Vaccinated: Financial systems are inherently unstable. Ours is not immune.

Cautionary Tale: Before you nod your head and trot off to the pharmacy with your doctor's latest fiction, as if your doctor has any way of knowing if the recommended drug does any good, or even if it does harm. Remember, the entire pharmaceutical research enterprise is owned, funded and controlled by the drug manufactures and they do not have to (and don't) tell anyone – anyone at all – about drug trials that don't come out the way they want. We could cure this by passing a law that required drug companies to file complete and detailed reports of all their drug trial (and canceled trials) publicly and on line. Or at least with the FDA. And to completely indemnify all drug researchers against suppressive retaliation by Big Pharma. But we won't.

Culling The Herd: Spain is planning to stop adjusting pensions for inflation and to increase the retirement age to show the EU/ECB/IMF and investors that it is serious about impoverishing its citizens and ruining its economy in order to keep bankers happy implementing structural reforms. Having learned from Greece, Spain wants to get a head start on the suffering.

Question: If we can't see The Mitten's tax returns for pre-2010 years, could we at least get an answer to this: Did the Romney's “satisfy their responsibilities as taxpayers for the years preceding the 2009” before or after the IRS amnesty program for foreign bank account holders?

Doomsday Clock: The underlying problems in the Eurozone, the US, and Japan seem remarkably similar – they have to do with the ownership of politicians and the political system by the financial sector and the desire of the citizenry for a free ride. It seems plausible to expect their eventual unravelings will be similar, too. It's just a matter of who goes first; right now it looks to be Europe, but these things change.

Quoted: “The US is suffering from a self-inflicted wound – growing inequality of incomes and wealth. Rising income inequality is breeding more inequality in educational opportunity, which results in greater inequality in educational attainment. That, in turn, undermines the upward mobility that is central to the American myth and essential for the country's stability and future. This dynamic all but guarantees a permanent underclass. And eventually actions seeking redress.”

Porn O'Graph: The Big Warm

The Parting Shot:


A fresh start.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

SAR #12265

There' is no evidence that tax cuts spur growth. CRS

Fat Fraulein Singing: Deutsche Bank says that the housing market has "mostly corrected back to pre-bubble levels." They point out that, yes, house prices fell 40% from 2006's highs, but prices are now 30% above “the millennium average” and because incomes have risen faster (sic) than house prices, houses are now more affordable. So cheer up: "The correction phase can be regarded as largely completed, and the outlook is improving." Take an umbrella with you, just in case.

One Explanation: In Goethe’s Faust the Mephistopheles persuades the heavily indebted Holy Roman Emperor to print paper money backed by gold that had not yet been mined. Sound familiar? The play's a tragedy.

The Outlook: “We see public schools across our city drained of resources, set up to fail and eventually closed, with all of the teachers — good and bad — laid off. Some of the closed schools become charter schools: private schools financed with public money, churning out private profit. Others become “turn-around” schools, reorganized around the latest educational fad.” Specifically Chicago, but widely applicable.

Tidal Flows: According to the Fed, household net worth peaked at $67.4 trillion in Q3 2007, fell to $51.2 trillion in Q1 2009 (a loss of $16.2 trillion), and is sup to $62.7 trillion in Q2 2012 (still down $4.7 trillion from the peak). Household real estate stood at $16.9 trillion in Q2 2012, $5.9 trillion below its peak. Abut 20% of houses with mortgages are still underwater.

Rhetorical Question? The question is, is Europe saved? The better question is, is the euro saveable? A series of stop-gap measures do not make a cure. Pretty much a single currency will require some form of political/economic singularity, and that's not on the horizon.

Porn O'Graph: Loss Leaders.

The Parting Shot:



Friday, September 21, 2012

SAR #12264

Zero interest rates aren’t a substitute for cheap oil. Jeff Rubin

Credit Where Credit Is Overdue: Americans are paying off their credit card balances at an unprecedented rate and the total credit card debt in the US is not increasing. This is good for the individual, terrible for the economy. The US economy is based on ever expanding debt (or credit creation - the same thing essentially). If the debt does not increase the economy will stall into deflation. And without new debt, the money necessary to pay the interest on old debt will not be created. Deflation. So, good for you, bad for us.

True, Sort Of: The Mitten says his campaign "is about the 100% of America.” His America. That part we call the 1%.

What It Might Have Been About: There appear to have been two 'unmentionables' in the Teachers vs Chicago brouhaha: Mayor Rahm Emanual seems likely to continue closing schools and giving the money to private charter schools. Non-union private charter schools. Then there's the matter of teachers' pensions. Chicago teachers are not covered by Social Security and the city has not made its required contributions to the teachers' Pension Fund since 1995.

Today's Numbness: The DOL reported that unemployment initial claims are stuck in the 380,000 range.

Rugged Socialists: All those gun-tote'n, anti-socialist, government hating folks that prize their freedom and independence were delighted to hear that their cut of the state's income from oil and other natural resources will be $878 a head. In Alaska the people as a whole own the resources in common.

Dear Diary: Every time you remember an event from the past, your brain changes in ways that can alter the future memories of the event. The more you recall it, the less you actually recall it. Explains a lot.

Some Are More Equal: The SEC has fined the NYSE $5 million for giving private (read 'rich') customers access to stock market information before it was available to the general public in accordance with the Wall Street dictum: Never give a sucker an even break. Boyo, $5 million. There goes Friday's happy hour.

Data Point: There are more than 100,000 janitors in the US who have college degrees, but only 16,000 parking lot attendants with degrees. See, education pays.

Hark, Who Goes There? Shell is building the world's biggest ship - six times bigger than the biggest aircraft carrier - to liquefy natural gas. Not that there's any reason to do so, except to escape the costs and taxes and regulation that producing the explosive stuff on-shore would cost.

Don't Take It Personally: Wal-Mart is no longer going to sell Kindles. They've figured out that the Kindle Fire makes it irresistibly easy for folks to use their Kindle to buy all sorts of stuff from Amazon - not just e-books. You know, the sort of stuff Wal-Mart sells. Just business.

Daily Helping: On Fox News, Liz Cheney said the rioting in Muslim countries was the result of Obama's foreign policy. Especially supporting the freedom of expression that allows Americans to post stuff on You Tube. And then Fox and Drudge spent the day claiming that the President met with some yokel in a pirate outfit in lieu of meeting with Israeli war monger Prime Minister Netanyahu. Except the pirate picture was taken for the White House Correspondents dinner. In 2009.

Define 'Forcible': New Mexico's Republican governor will require women who are seeking childcare assistance for a child resulting from a rape to prove that it was "a forcible rape". If a mother needs help feeding her child, how mom got pregnant should not be a consideration in whether or not to feed the child.

Department of Duh: In case you hadn't noticed, this just in: Religious intolerance is on the rise worldwide. Along with poverty, ignorance and hunger.

Speak For Yourself: Rush Limbaugh is complaining that 'feminazis' have caused is penis to shrink by 10%. Or something like that. Probably penises have remained the same - it's just that these days women aren't falling for the self-reporting.

The Parting Shot:


Left behind...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

SAR #12263


The U.S. cannot tolerate ‘any exercise of sovereignty’ that interferes with its global designs.”  Noam Chomsky

Savior Sinking: While the Mediterraneans line up for bailouts, the economy they are all depending on – the German economy – is expected to only grow 1.1% next year after a paltry 0.9% this year. Austerity, imposed on the Mediterraneans by the Germans, has resulted in a steep decline in their ability to buy goods from Germany. What goes around...

Honor and Dignity: Republicans have managed to prevent passage of a jobs bill aimed at helping unemployed veterans, saying the national debt overrides the nation's debt. Only 5 Republicans voted in favor of helping the veterans become police officers and firefighters who would thereafter be dependent on the government.

Friends: Paul Ryan says that The Mitten "was obviously inarticulate.."

Making Friends: As a result of increased taxes required by the EU/ECB/IMF for those inadequate bailouts, Greek heating oil now caries an 80% 'special consumption tax', which – ironically but predictably – has priced heating their homes out of the range of ordinary Greeks. In pre-austerity Italy, nearly two-thirds of 18-29 year olds live with their parents. Tradition, or lack of jobs?

Convalescence: July's housing starts were revised downward 13,000 to 746,000 and August's were reported at 750,000, which – anticipating another downward revision - is not encouraging. Single-family starts were up 28,000 at 535,000, the highest level since the last time housing 'bottomed' in April 2010. Meanwhile, existing home sales 'jumped' 7.8% in August and median prices increased 9.5%, to their highest level since 2010, new data from the National Association of Realtors shows. The RecoveryTM marches on.

Ups and Downs: In July, Saudi Arabia's petroleum production fell to 9.8 million barrels a day – down 300,000 barrels a day – and exports – at 7.28 million barrels a day - fell 550,000 barrels a day. Extra credit: How long, at this rate, before Saudi Arabia is a net importer of petroleum?

Golly Gee... Widespread use of chemical herbicides in the US has encouraged genetically resistant “super-weeds” to emerge, costing US farmers millions of dollars in losses. Big surprise.

Me Too-ism: Those striking South African miners – some of whose co-workers were killed by police – have won a 22% wage increase. And now the other South African miners will want equality. And soon miners elsewhere. Everywhere. And prices?

Loss Leader: Spanish banks are reporting a 50-year record high 9.86% of their loans as non-performing. That's €172 billion of their assets down the drain. That's 17% of Spanish GDP (before austerity whittles their GDP asunder) up in smoke (well, up in houses, but that's the point). This is the same as US banks acknowledging $2.5 trillion in bad loans – which seems about right, if truth be told.

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty: The highest appellate court in Italy has upheld the guilty verdicts of 23 Americans (22 of them CIA agents) for kidnapping a terror suspect off the street in Milan in 2003 and 'rendering' him to Mubarak's Egypt to be tortured.

Forward! The St. Louis Federal Reserve suggests that the government should “do more to regulate predatory lending...” It also said that having the post office go back to the good old day and begin offering avings accounts to the small savers that the that big banks despise and nickle and dime to death.

Porn O'Graph: Free-loaders.

The Parting Shot:



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SAR #12262

Kate has learned what we all should have known: there is no privacy.

Actions, Not Words: When Obama signed the NDAA he said he objected to the provision that allowed the president to indefinitely detain anyone - including US citizens - without trial and without being charged with a crime, and promised he would not use the power. But now he has gone to court to make sure he gets to keep that power.

Point of Order: There are 1.6 billion Muslims; a couple of thousand of them didn't like the movie. Get a grip.

Progress Report: The German austerity elixir has so far reduced Greek GDP by 20%, with a 25% reduction expected by 2014. The turnaround will happen at some date thereafter, as the beneficial effects of mass starvation kick in. .

Sampler Update: "This Country Is Not Ruled by Executive Fiat." Yet.

Carry On: Researches have identified "a significant association" between obesity and BPA. It's banned from sippy cups and baby bottles, but still used elsewhere - especially in soft drink cans.

Help Wanted: In the US today, there are not enough jobs to go around and most of the ones we have do not pay enough. Because of this, there are not enough customers with enough money to create sufficient demand to make a dent in the problem. How would lowering taxes on the rich (or on corporations, for that mater) help solve this dilemma? Both already have too much money. And research suggests that lowering taxes has no discernible effect on productivity. What lowering taxes does is increase the concentration of wealth at the top, which hasn't, and won't, solve the employment problem.

Going, Going, Gone: Limiting the increase in global temperatures to 2ºC will not save most of the coral reefs. No big deal, for there is absolutely no way at this point to stop the increase at 2ºC. So just write 'em off and forget about the scuba lessons.

Unclear on the Concept: FedEx reports that its customers are shifting to lower cost alternatives, hurting its earnings and profits, so it is raising its shipping rates by 3.9%.

Explanation: When Romney says that "Palestinians don't want peace." What he means is that people whose families were thrown out of their traditional homeland and confined to an enormous prison camp really, really like being under the heavy boot of the Israeli military.

Memo for the Mitten: Over 7,000 millionaires paid no income taxes in 2011, 22,000 making over half a million a year also skated. Are they part of the 47%?

Spain is Greece Writ Large: Spain's private debt exceeds 300% of GDP, its banks are sitting on paper from a housing bubble many times worse than the US experienced, Spain is bankrupt and its banks suffered €70 billion in withdrawals in August. Spain is next.

Recurring Item: The government lied to us. Bush, in this instance. Lied about torturing people. Golly, gee.

WDJD? A piece of 4th century papyrus, written in ancient Coptic - the language of Egyptian Christians - quotes Jesus as referring to "my wife."

Porn O'Graph: The free-loaders.


Test pattern.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

SAR #12261

Whatever the Security State does is legal. What you do protect yourself isn't.

Shock! Forget QE3, the US military buildup in the Persian Gulf and the saber-rattling between China and Japan - we've just learned that Kate Middleton actually has breasts! Unbelievable!

Sock Puppet: The Mitten made the mistake of giving his opinion of the American people to the American people. This violates several basic rules of the political charade. [BTW, that 47% includes all those living on Social Security & that huge bunch of workers making less than $20,000 a year, the unemployed...]

Roll Call: Muslim movie critics have taken to the street in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Indonesia, Yemen, Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Philippines, Azerbaijan and possibly Syria, but it's hard to tell what's going on in Syria. The US State Department also gave the film two thumbs down.

Love Labor's Lost: China and Japan are ancient enemies. And current ones, too. How do you say 'armada' in Mandarin?

Now You See It, Soon You Won't: The Arctic Ice cap, which was supposed to hang around to 2100, or 2050 or at least 2030, is now likely to be gone in four years. By 2015/16. But don't worry, it's just one of those lies the climate change people keep telling, like heat waves and droughts.

X-Files: Fox News has learned that President Obama “answers to the Quran first and the Constitution second.”

Damned/Damned: Without greater reliance on nuclear power, the effort to stop - or significantly slow -catastrophic global warming will be lost. But the record suggests that a greater reliance on nuclear power may well introduce other catastrophes. Perhaps the answer is in less, not more.

Mumbled Numbers: The Empire State manufacturing survey decreased from a negative 5.9 reading in August to a negative 10.4 in September. The new-orders index dropped to a negative 14.0. Negative, very negative.

Missing The Point: The New Republic ran an article describing how Paul Ryan convinced Washington of his genius. But the real question is how Ryan himself came to believe he was a genius.

Another View: “Yet the underlying fact of all of these historical threads has been the United States’ oil-driven foreign policy. Very simply, the United States has for over half a century pursued a foreign policy in the region geared toward maintaining the flow of oil out of the region at any cost . . . you do not stir the hornet’s nest and then expect not to get stung.”

Rubbing It In: Over the past 50 years, the salty parts of the oceans have become saltier and the fresh regions have become fresher, and the degree of change is greater than scientists can explain. Betcha' it ain't good news.

Goose/Gander: Forget that corporate America routinely walks away from mortgages (and other commitments) that become inconvenient. That's business. But if you walk away from your underwater house, the FHFA will come after you. Apparently making smart financial decisions is now a crime.

Connect the Dots: Paul Ryan says the Romney's tax plan is to have the Congress come up with the details that Romney and Ryan are so vague about, then they will claim them as their own. Ryan did not say what dire fate awaits congresscritters who color outside the lines.

Facts Is Facts: No politician ever got elected by promising to impose serious costs on the voters for the benefit of the unborn. Nor will one be.

Porn O'Graph: Focus.

The Parting Shot:


Monday, September 17, 2012

SAR #12260

None of this will end well: not for any of us, not even the rich,.

A Sense of Proportion: Afghan officials also said an alliance airstrike killed eight women who were gathering firewood in a remote eastern village before dawn Sunday. The US regrets the inconvenience...

Voo Doodoo Econmics: Bernanke, in his role as chief shaman, claims the Fed's new (sic) stimulus (sic) was meant to help Main Street. He is, at best, mistaken. Main street needs a job. It doesn't need a new housing bubble. With the consumer broke and unemployed and indebted and underwater, there is little appetite out there for credit, much less a new, bigger mortgage. Corporations don't need lower interest rates – they're already sitting on billions they can't usefully invest. And not even the auto industry really needs all the sub-prime loans they're making. The only beneficiary will be Wall Street, and that only if enough people believe that The Bernank really can, some day, make it rain. The fact we are reduced to respectfully listen to the promise that promises will heal the economy confesses that the economy is substantially weaker than previously thought. Even more clearly, it shows that the Fed is helpless in the face of it.

Mouths of Babes: Rick Santorum, former senator (R-PA) and Republican presidential wannabe, admits that "We will never have the elite, smart people on our side."

Is It Time For Desert? With all the financial leaders and gurus proclaiming that the Euro has been saved, perhaps it is time to take a quick survey of the Portugese, Spanish and Italians and see if they will stand by quietly while the elite impose more austerity on them. And at the same time, it might be nice to have a decent survey reporting on how the citizens of various northern European countries would react to a treaty making them subservient to the ECB. Democracy is a fine thing, but I doubt the leaders of Europe intend to let it interfere with their plans - and for some reason the Greek Colonels, Franco, Salazar and Mussolini come to mind...

A Fracking Good Story: On hearing that US CO2 emissions were at their lowest level in 20 yers, the fracking industry was quick to take a bow - ignoring the rotten economy and all the emissions the US has shipped to Asia in the last 20 years along with our jobs.

Piling On: Scientists who set out to confirm earlier findings concerning methane bubbling up along the edges of the Arctic Ocean have found 'methane fields' in excess of a kilometer in extent bubbling up... from a depth of 2.2 thousand meters, the first known stream rising from such a depth. Large concentrations of gas hydrates (methane) were also discovered in the Sea of Japan, with at least 43 plumes of methane bubbles rising from the sea-bed. Scientists fear that releases from sub-sea methane sources "could have catastrophic consequences for the climate of our planet." Senator Inohfe disagrees.

Their Fate is SEALed: The US moves ever closer to making things much worse in the Middle East... Yes, it was most likely that the uprisings were al Qaeda-inspired and only tangentially had anything to do with a bad movie. But is pretty much guaranteed that the ominous preparations the US is undertaking to avenge its supposed honor will perpetuate the cycle of violence.

A Famous Victory: Remember the great victory, 25 years ago, when the nations of the world agreed to stop killing life on earth by saving the ozone layer? Well, the good news is that this year the ozone hole is much smaller than last year. The bad news is that it will still take 40 years or so to get back to pre-1980 conditions. And that's if the- quite profitable - illegal manufacture and sale of ozone-destroying compounds can be stopped.

Porn O'Graph: Fork in the road.

The Parting Shot:


Back at it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

SAR #12258

Where does the environment go for a bailout?

Murder Will Out: We are seeing yet another replay of the American as Citizen of Rome. While Obama – in our name – daily drops drones on unsuspecting innocents, we go about our business undisturbed. When Bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and killed hundreds of thousands, we kept watching pro football. But when a few Americans are killed in Benghazi (which most of us cannot find on a map) we immediately want revenge. Any murder is reprehensible, but one is not worse than another; if you want to protest, start in Washington.

Everything You Need to Know about QE3: Wall street is ecstatic. Asset prices will rise..

Here & Now: Various government programs – Social Security, Unemployment Insurance (well, until recently), SNAP (food stamps), and earned income tax credits – keep abut 33.3 million Americans out of poverty. There are, nonetheless, 46.2 million living in poverty. If the R's get their way, that figure will nearly double. Remind me about the glories of capitalism and the market economy.

Numbness: August CPI was up 0.6% m/m and 1.7% y/y. Retail Sales rose just 0.1% m/m (not counting gasoline). And Industrial Production dropped 1.2% m/m, which was blamed on the hurricane.

My Fanny: From FannieMae we get: "As the economy works off the imbalances of the housing bubble, we expect that it will likely take years before construction activity rebounds to a more 'normal' level consistent with sustained rates of household formation, housing demolition, and demand for second homes." Which is the same as saying, "Don't hold your breath."

The Shadow: Did Bernanke have his eye on the rapidly deteriorating Durable Goods Orders data, and not on unemployment figures? Was that what he saw under the bed?

Evaporation: An investigation into a billion dollar fuel program in Afghanistan has found that the US (military) had lax or no accountability, inadequate and missing records, and no way to tell how much fuel had been lost, stolen, or re-sold by or to the Taliban. Sounds just like Iraq, huh?

Familiar Refrain: The Banksters sold over $3.5 billion in commercial-mortgage backed bonds this week. The most since 2007. What could go wrong?

Protect & Defend: CCA has offered to spend $250 million around the country, buying up prisons if... wait for it... if the various governments guarantee to convict enough poor blacks people to keep the prisons 90% full at all times.

Pogoland: Republican blocked the legislation a majority of voters favored, and are now running around blaming the Democrats for not passing the very legislation the Republicans blocked. We have seen the future and it does not work.

Beginning of the End: HHS is shifting up to 2 million of the poorest and most vulnerable seniors out of Medicare and into the clutches of private health insurance companies, as a cost saving experiment. He said, with a straight face.

Can You Top This? Tim Huelskamp (R, KS) claimed Planned Parenthood is a “racist organization” that targeted unborn minority children to be murdered. Michelle Bachmann (R, Wannabe) says the attacks on American embassies in Libya and Egypt (and Tunisia, the latest victim) are part of a plan to bring Sharia law to the United States. She was a few quarts shy on explaining this, especially in light of the attacks on German and British embassies in the Sudan. And The Mitten, who thinks $250,000 a year makes one middle class, claimed that Obama “tends to say things that are not true.” And in Kansas, the GOP has given up trying to remove Obama from the November ballots.

The Parting Shot:


Down by the riverside…

Friday, September 14, 2012

SAR #12257

Winning an election does not confer competence.

Running Scared: The Fed's QE programs - buying long-term securities in hopes that driving down interest rates and flooding Wall Street with cash - has so far been pretty much a flop. QE 1 and 2, to the tune of just over $1 trillion will be followed by another trillion called QE 3 - $40 billion a month in 'agency' MBS through the end of 2014 or 7% unemployment whichever comes first. And if that doesn't work look for QE 4 come 2015. Will it drive up the stock market? Yes. Will it drive up gold and oil and other assets? Yes. Will it re-inflate the housing bubble - ah, that's the goal... Will it put anyone back to work and spur demand? Probably not. But Bernanke has fallen for embraced the idea that promises are more important than achievements; understandable given his record. Does Bernanke sense something big and ugly under the bed?

Sequels: The Arab Fall isn't nearly as entertaining as the Arab Spring.

Crap: Fox shamelessly reported (sic) that President Obama had called Libyia's President to thank him for killing the US ambassador. It'll be hard to sink much lower, but they'll find a way.

Factors: The EIA says that, as of May, the world was producing 75.3 mbd of crude oil. Just crude oil – not natural gas liquids, biofuels, or any of the rest of the flim flam stuff. That's up abut a million barrels a day from last October, but that is just Libya coming back on line, not an increase. So we stay on the “undulating production plateau” predicted by the peak oil folks, as we have since 2005.

Sovereignty? What Sovereignty? If you liked NAFTA, you'll love TPP. And no, you don't get a say in it.

Keeping The Serfs In Line: Missouri's Republican lawmakers over-rode the Democratic Governor's veto and passed a bill that lets employers impose their religious beliefs on employees, denying them employer-provided health coverage that they find distasteful - birth control, for now, but the list is easily expanded to include coverage for AIDs, cancer, and other God-imposed punishments.

PPIng on the Parade: The August Producer Price Index jumped 1.7% m/m; unexpectedly, of course. This is the largest single-month bump since June, 2009. It was driven by rapid increases in food and petroleum prices, but Dr. Ben says they don't count. Economists must be on permanent diets and walk everwhere.

No Value Added: Europe (and Wall Street) are willingly suspending disbelief and embracing the idea that the new and improved euro-rescue plan is new and improved. It is not. It is the same old, bitter wine, with austerity as a precondition. Spain hopes to get away with “dynamic provisioning” which is simply a new term for cooking the books – which it really would like to get away with rather than fall under Berlin's iron boot. The IMF says Greece needs another bailout but can't have it until they do better at starving. Greece, having no more to give (even if they've only met about a quarter of the demanded cuts) says it does not need another helping of debt. Why adding debt to debt was supposed to solve the problem of too much debt must be a banker thing, for it makes no objective sense. And no one even talks about getting the Italians to embrace suffering – for them it's la dolce vita or nothing.

Roosting: One of the basic rules is that everything ends up somewhere. So it is hardly surprising that some of the flood of Bernanke dollars has found a home in petroleum, driving up the price. We're not the first, but we'd like to point out that every time US gasoline gets close to the magic $4.00 a gallon mark, the stock market (and the economy with it) has taken a dive. We point this out because gasoline prices are approaching $4 bucks and Bernanke just tossed another trillion onto the board.

Cause & Effect: Data suggests that over a million previously underwater US homeowners are at last back to a break-even point. Does this mean there will be a rush of people putting their houses on the market, finally convinced they can at least walk away whole and as a result drive prices back down? Or will the dreams of avarice arrive on schedule and a flurry of refinancing and equity withdrawal get underway? Ah, forget I asked.

The Parting Shot:


Drama Queen

Thursday, September 13, 2012

SAR #12256

Good ideas do not need lies to explain them.

Report Card: Inspectors from the EU/IMF/ECB report that austerity has accomplished the following in Portugal: “GDP growth remains in line with projections”, but unemployment is higher, disposable income is lower, and tax revenues are falling “significantly behind projections”. More “structural adjustment”, short of massive riots, is needed. By the way, that projected GDP growth for 2012 is a minus 3%. In Spain, 1,500,000 of the beneficiaries of Triolka austerity turned out to protest, demanding Catalonian independence, while Spain's PM declines to submit to further austerity. Well, we'll see how that goes; it certainly should dampen enthusiasm on the continent.

Pick One: (1) Cutting Government spending will create jobs – 130,000 in Iowa alone. Or (2) Continued government spending will create hundreds of thousands of jobs. That's the gospel according to Romney.

Sadtistics: The number of Americans working full time increased last year, but their wages fell and household income did not change. Over the last 44 years, inflation adjusted household income rose... $8,000. (from $42,000 to $50,000 a year).. having fallen 1.7% in the last year and over 9% from the median household income peak in 1999. You feel worse off because you are worse off. Yet GDP rose from $8.7 trillion to $14.4 trillion. Who got the extra $6 trillion?

Medical Silence: Routine screening for ovarian cancer is another modern medical procedure that is ineffective and at times can do more harm than good.

The Grand Tour: Wholesale inventories were up 0.7% in July (after a 0.2% fall in June), as the Inventory/Sales ratio rose for a third consecutive month, suggesting that inventories may be reaching unacceptable levels. Again.

Water, Water... In the next 10 years the world will need to find 20 new Nile rivers to grow enough food to feed the world's growing population and avoid conflicts over water. Another study shows that large parts of Asia will suffer more severe droughts in the coming decade, endangering regional food supplies. Uzbekistan is not waiting that long, warning Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that their plans to build dams on rivers upstream of Uzbekistan could lead to war.

Advanced Degree: Religion is a compelling reason not to educate children – not only in Afghanistan, but also in Virginia, where nearly 7,000 offspring of religious nuts are being lawfully prevented from getting an education.

Extractly: Following the spread of strikes by miners throughout South Africa, the nation's defense forces have been placed on full alert for the first time since the old regime fell in 1994. Equality is all fine and good, but interfering with profits will not be tolerated.

The Tab: The housing debacle – from foreclosures, to plummeting house prices, to MBS to bailouts and on and on – cost the nation about $13 trillion. So far.

Not Just Fox: Raw Story, “America's #1 completely independent news...” headlined “US poverty rate drops.” And it did. From 15.1% of the population to 15.0%. Your results may vary, because median household income dropped 1.5% and incomes were 8.1% lower than in 2007. Lies, damned lies, and headline writers.

Quoted: “I am at my best when I believe what I say.” Barack Obama, our leader.

The Parting Shot:


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

SAR #12255

The European Union isn’t.

Salesmanship: Obama's desire to “work with the Republicans” leaves out the details. What he's anxious to accomplish with their help (or vice versa) is to “make adjustments to Medicare and Medicaid.” Evisceration should not be passed off as 'making adjustments'.

Yes, But: Germany's Constitutional Court said Germany can contribute 190 billion euros to the ESM, but that both houses of the German parliament must be consulted on the ESM's use the funds, and that any increase in German funding of the ESM must be approved by the Bundestag. These changes to the treaty will have to be ratified by the other 16 EU nations – all of which are undoubtedly eager to give Germany sole control over saving the euro. Similarly, ECB 'officials' have floated a proposal that they be given supervisory authority over all the banks in Europe, to include issuing licenses and levying fines. "This is a good day for Germany and a good day for Europe," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. Opinions may differ.

Inopportune Observation: A NBER study found that it is high levels of private debt, and not high levels of government debt, that closely correlates with severe recessions. Ruins the plotline.

Miracle Groan: Turns out that Omega-3 fatty acids are not a magic bullet after all, and ”have no effect in reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack or death.” Put down the pills and back away. And a panel of experts found that routine screening for ovarian cancer is ineffective and can do more harm than good.

Two Thumbs Down: In Benghazi, Libya, militants purportedly upset by the depiction of Mohammed in a video posted on YouTube by an anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian in the United States, stormed the US consulate, killed three Americans including the US ambassador and destroyed on building in the compound. In Cairo, a similarly motivated mob climbed the walls of the US embassy and tore down the US flag. Everyone's a critic.

Plain Speaking: The Mitten has made it clear, he will continue the Republican war on women (“it would be my preference that they reverse Roe V. Wade”) and intends to keep wasting vast amounts of money on defense industry profits (“I want to maintain defense spending at the current level of the GDP.”

Observation: “[T]he real scandal here isn’t what Obama did or didn’t do to ‘workfare’; it’s that both parties have gutted the welfare system as a whole to conduct a cruel social experiment on impoverished families.”

Screaming Mad: Jim Cramer, not exactly a far-left socialist wrecker, says that Republican voter suppression efforts will prevent his father, a veteran, from casting a ballot this fall in Pennsylvania. Cramer’s father is one of nearly 760,000 voters, about 9% of Pennsylvanians who regularly participate in elections, who will be disenfranchised because they do not have a state-issued photo identification card.

Shame On Us: We've been warned that “...the Ryan story isn’t just about Ryan; it’s about how the establishment allowed itself to be taken in by such an obvious shyster.” So it's not quite a pig in a poke we're being asked to vote for.

A Bigger Truck: GM's sales of the Chevy Vold set records in August. The highest number sold, and the largest loss for each of the vehicles sold: $49,000.

Safety First: Don't fret too much about those threats to slash the food stamp program. Doing so would cut the profits of the 'food' manufacturers who push high-fructose corn syrup and other empty calories on the poor. Feeding the poor may not be important to our elected officials, but the profits of those financing re-election campaigns must be preserved.

The Parting Shot:


Crown jewel.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SAR #12254

I am responsible for what I say, not what you hear.

A travel day, see you tommorrow:


Monday, September 10, 2012

SAR #12253

On balance:  Corporate profits have hit yet another new record, wages as a percentage of the economy hit a new low, and the number of people working is as low as it was in the 1980s.
We Shall Overturn:  The Republicans, faced with lower court rulings that would let the poor and the black vote, are trying to get their complaints before the Supremes in hopes of overturning both the Voting Rights Act and the calendar and going back to Jim Crow vote suppression days.

Clarification:  If you are a bit confused about the current plan to save the Euro by starving Europeans, it goes like this:  You can get a bailout if you agree to scourge yourself to the level of debasement already inflicted on the Greeks.  The bankers and bondholders and other believers in the Austerity Fairy are happy, having forgotten that to actually bring down debt levels and replay the existing debts will require an actual economic recovery.
2¢ Plain:  Political choices (even though dictated by Wall Street, deregulation was a political choice) got us into this mess.  Only a new set of political choices can get us out.  Neither legacy party candidate appears to have made those choices.  “we are not using the knowledge we have, because too many people who matter—politicians, public officials, and the broader class of writers and talkers who define the conventional wisdom—have, for a variety of reasons, chosen to forget the lessons of history.”

Sleep On It:  The US Director of National Intelligence says that “,”water demand . . . set to outstrip sustainable current supplies by 40% by 2030.”  Water wars are inevitable “as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources.”

Liquidity:  The total corporate bond holdings of US broker-dealers at the end of August was $58.5 billion.  The all-time high back in October 2007 was $268 billion.  The broker-dealers no longer have the wherewithal to broker deals.

The Goal:  “to become more competitive globally and preserve the welfare state “without taking up more and more debt.” Angela Merkel

Gobbleization:  The world's tuna stocks have reached, and passed, their sustainability limits.  While 5 of the 8 species are threatened with extinction,  there are no comprehensive science-based limits, nor global agreements to stop before they are all gone.  Current  “partial quotas” are a cosmetic joke behind which fishery industries continue their assaults. 

Free Markets:   The refrigerant HCFC-22, has been outlawed because it use damages the earth's ozone layer irreparably. Without the ozone layer, UV rays will fry us all.  So naturally there is a booming and profitable business in illegal sales of the gas.  It is still produced in enormous volumes and sold cheaply in China, India and Mexico.  The manufacturers are unnamed to protect their profits.
Here's The Test: Can America trust Romney to decide which citizens get extrajudicially assassinated?   And more importantly, should Americans be faced with such a choice?

Poverty, here and there, before and after:  On average, the OECD countries (less the US) have the same general poverty rate as the US, before government social safety-net transfers.  After the social program transfers, the US poverty rate is 17.1%, and the rest of the OECD reduce their poverty rate to an average 9.8%.  We're number one!

On Average:  Since 1948, on average 78.3% of American men are in the labor force.  Today, as the RecoveryTM gains steam, it has fallen to just 69.8%.  It's a good thing mom's got a job.  Or two.

The Parting Shot: