Thursday, October 29, 2009

Get Ready to Rebel Against Government Healthcare

After the uprising that the Democrats faced this summer given all the profoundly unpopular provisions of its healthcare reform strategy, clearly they devised the following brilliant strategy: "wait three months and jam it all down the peons' throats anyway". "End of life counseling", "trillion dollar costs", "public option", "individual mandate", "huge taxes". Everything that is unpopular and caused Americans to rise up in disgust this summer is all still around in the latest and greatest from the Pelosi & Reid Sausage Factory (confirmed) and hurtling towards becoming the law of the land.

We are at the Rubicon. Your liberty is set to be diminished. So what is to be done?

First, Federalism is to be done. One or two brave governors (Rick Perry comes to mind) has to propose and spend every last bit of political capital to get passed something along the lines of the following bill: "With this bill the sovereign state of _____ asserts its sole authority to regulate the conduct of insurance markets and health regulations within its borders, and any federal regulations in contravention of state regulations contained within this bill are not recognized as binding on the citizens of the state of _____." Get behind and encourage direct state legislative action asserting state rights to ignore federal usurpation of healthcare policy.

Second, we need individual citizens to step up and challenge the individual mandate in the court system. Never in our 230 year history has our government required its citizens to purchase a good or service as a requirement of citizenship and only by virtue of the most radically permissive standard can our Constitution be considered to enable such a mandate. So this must be challenged in the courts, not by interest groups, but by regular citizens.

This fight has to be waged on all fronts and waged relentlessly. The result cannot be taken lying down. This is as necessary a cause for peaceful citizen rebellion as any. Let's get about it America.
UPDATE: It's not like we haven't done it before...

Sting Is an Imbecilic Jerk. He Even Wrote a Song About It.

Yikes.  Check out noted historian and political scientist Sting psychoanalyzing and pontificating.   You know how I feel about these "born in the 50s" type folks...

Boeing Runs Away from Its Unions

Yesterday, Boeing announced that it will build its new 787 Dreamliner assembly line in South Carolina, ending a beauty contest between the Palmetto State and its traditional home base of Washington state. Boeing has been on a slow and steady retreat from Washington state, after getting crapped on by the anti-business politicians and unions there for decades. Boeing savvily ran a beauty contest to extract a good economic incentive package from South Carolina, but the outcome was really never in doubt. South Carolina is a right to work state and Boeing is hoping that this will be a fresh start away from the entrenched, intransigent and uncompetitive machinists union up there in Everett.

UPDATE: ...and the union is pissed! It's almost like they feel entitled to build those planes!

Get Ready for MSM Cheerleadering AWESOME Economy Despite 10% Unemployment

Now that the GDP numbers are in and we have growth, many interesting debates will ensue. One thing that will almost assuredly happen is that the MSM will jump on this number to help President Obama look like an economic genius by giving us the stimulus back in January. I don't think there is a case at all that the stimulus package did a darned thing to promote the economic growth that we have seen (the growth comes from a combination of natural resiliency and the unprecendentedly loose monetary launched by Ben Bernanke), but the MSM will try to sell that line anyway. What is more interesting to me is what the NBER does. Recall that the NBER dated the recession from Q4 2007 even though we had growth in Q1 and Q2 of 2008 (pretty good growth in the case of Q2), citing the fact that employment peaked in December 2007. Well sure it did, we were scraping the bottom of the barrel - with 95.4% of us employed, the rest are pretty much the dregs of the employment pool. With the expansion that begun in 2001 getting long in the tooth, why would any employer hire the least attractive workers? So this was a weird call by the NBER, but not surprising - they are, after all, a bunch of left-leaning academics. So what do they say now? After ignoring production expansion in favor of employment to reach back and pin the recession in 2007 much more solidly within the Bush era, will they refocus on production and ignore employment data now that Obama is in office? While production may be up, unemployment is still rising. Will the NBER massage the fact that the jobs landscape still looks terrible? Odds are they will...massage it that is and state that the recession is over, rather than say that continuing employment losses mean we are still stuck in the mud.

Anyway, the MSM are alot less powerful these days and we'll see if the public buys what they are selling. 10% unemployment doesn't feel good, and Americans will know what the economy is doing by what is going on around them, not by what they read in the paper or watch on TV. However, this could be yet another opportunity for the MSM to squander its last remaining drops of credibility - telling Americans the economy is just grand as employers continue to lay people off in large numbers - in the effort to advance its favored political viewpoints.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wow. TNR Channels NBfPB.

Holy moley. Fear of out-of-control, anti-business Democrats in Washington DC has businesses paralyzed and is choking the economy - exactly what I've been saying here for about a year - posits...The New Republic!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Whose Goons? Schums's Goons?

...before I get started, let me just say, is that title worthy of Suess's Fox In Socks, or what?!?!

Do I just have a fan within the office of the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms or are Chuck Schumer's jack-booted goons after me AGAIN! Or maybe it is Max Baucus's I was a big insurance company or something? Who bloody knows. Anyway gentlmen, I have like 20 readers, go pick on Fox News.

College of William Is Mary

Lou Holtz, who once coached at William & Mary, famously said that the problem with the football program was that there was too much Mary and not enough William. That may have been so, but today it seems like the problem is you don't know where William ends and Mary begins.

More Protectionism Hurt Odds of Avoiding 1930s Redux

I said that the administration's awful protectionist decision on Chinese tires would encourage more companies to come forward and ask for protectionist measures. We've seen it with paper companies and now some steel products producers. They have asked and our government is obliging. Protectionism was one of the four critical policy mistakes that turned a routine recession in the 1930s into the Great Depression, which went on to spark already simmering grievances into a global war that killed 50 million people. While we have not resorted to protectionism on a significant scale this administration has been dabbling in small scale protectionism almost from day one with the Mexican trucking ban. Even if we don't resort to big-time protectionism, at some point the continuing small scale efforts add up to a significant protectionist stance for which we'll face the consequences; and, we will have thusly failed one test in our modern effort to keep a routine recession from becoming another Great Depression.

We have, fortunately thanks to Ben Bernanke, passed the first test - we have not contracted the money supply bringing on defaltion. If we we stop dead in our tracks on protectionist measures and tack backward toward freer trade we will stand 2 for 2 and have good odds of not repeating the GD. Taxes and massive regulation of the economy remain as the final two tests. Taxes are going up, that is certain, so we could be 2 for 3 going into the fight over massively regulating the economy represented by healthcare reform and cap-and-trade. If we fail that test and have close to 40% of the economy subject to nearly unlimited government interference, we will stand at 2 for 4 and, no surprise, I give us a 50-50 chance of avoiding another 1930s. But I am profoundly pessimistic that the administration's protectionist urge will subside, so we stand at 1 for 3 in my book. Healthcare "reform" and cap-and-trade are the last test. If we pass both measures as currently contemplated it will represent an unprecedented takeover of nearly the entire economy akin to Roosevelt's NRA, and we'll have gone 1 for 4. Not good enough, I'm afraid, and we'll see something quite similar to the 1930s.

Although, some think 1930s America is not the right comparison, not that this is all that much better.

Can Obama Look Worse on Honduras? Yes He Can!

Mary O'Grady has been the lead journalist in the US lending clarity to the situation in Honduras (as have the folks at PJTV) and thusly exposing the Obama administration's either shockingly inept or shockingly pro-socialist reaction of sustained pressure (and outright nastiness) against Honduran democrats and constitutional order. Now there is another twist that could make Obama look even worse, if that was possible - relatives of those aligned with the interim government are getting kidnapped or are turning up dead.

There this:
"The body of Enzo Micheletti, a nephew of Honduran interim President Roberto Micheletti, was discovered near Choloma, in the northwest region of Honduras, La Prensa reported Oct. 26, citing family members. Also, in Tegucigalpa, four gunmen killed Honduran Col. Concepcion Jimenez Gutierrez outside his house, according to a police spokesperson."
and now this:
"Alfredo Jalil, the father of Honduran Vice Minister of Defense Gabo Jalil, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen Oct. 27 outside his home in Tegucigalpa, El Heraldo and Proceso Digital reported. The gunmen arrived in two vehicles and fired at least on shot into the door of Alfredo Jalil's car, before forcing him into one of their vehicles."

If the Zelaya camp has turned to murder and violent intimidation as a means of pressing their campaign to return to power, it will mean that Obama has chosen to align himself with outright beasts rather than merely birds of a political feather. At best this is evidence of stunningly bad judgment, at worse, of course, it tells you what Obama really believes (which, given references to Frantz Fanon, why should we be surprised). Ho-hum, it wouldn't be the first time that a squishy, naive elite leftist fell for a political clan that was at heart a power-mad gang of murderers. And it won't be the last.

Romer Has Drunk the Kool-Aid

I said previously that no economist would want their name attached to the Obama economic record. Christy Romer appears unconcerned about her reputation though. Also, she apparently has been in the White House exactly long enough to drink the Kool-Aid. Via Greg Mankiw, her report on healthcare reform and the budget deficit is typical of "blame Bush"habit of this administration:

"Finally, by far the lion’s share of the projected cumulative deficit is due to policy actions taken in the last Administration. Economists Alan Auerbach and William Gale find that policies from the last eight years that we failed to pay for, including cutting taxes, introducing a new entitlement program for prescription drug benefits, and fighting two wars, are contributing approximately $700 billion per year to the budget deficit."

Again, the data show that tax receipts soared in the years following the 2003 tax cuts. That spending outpaced receipts is a result of the failure to curtail spending in all aspects beyond the war. Yes, new entitlements were a cause of Bush era deficits. Ditto the failure to use the veto pen for out-of-control pork and earmarking. So the Obama administration is doing more (by a multiple) of what the Bush administration did wrong and zero of what the Bush administration did right, but somehow Obama's deficits are Bush's fault. The academic economics profession is too collegial to ever call out its bozos but Christy Romer is shaping up to be a disaster for the profession, someone who spouts nonsense to please her boss.

Fun Miscellany

Climate Back Pat

I am giving myself a huge back pat for getting this one so dead to rights. The upcoming global warming pilgrimage in Copenhagen is a bust. I knew this exactly one year ago before the Poznan conference and explicitly called it in August. The problem is simply reality, not lack of leadership or hard work (believe me, the climate zealots are very hard at work intent on imprisoning us in their no growth hell), but cold hard reality. The world will not derail the slow but undeniable march of rising living standards for a speculaitve theory that only a few Western elitists believe in.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Leftist Governance Factoid of the Day

"Total vacant land in Detroit now occupies an area almost the size of Boston, according to a Detroit Free Press estimate." See here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Brilliance Again from Whittle

Now They Tell Us (what Donny's Been Telling Us All Along)

I've been saying things like this for what seems like ages now.  Why are people just cluing in now?  Perhaps because it is looking like 10% unemployment or worse is baked in the cake for years to come, the dollar is tanking and the House and Senate are trying to jam a trillion dollar takeover of healthcare on us through the most dishonest of means.  Who knows.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Unravel Watch Update

Why is this important?

Remember you heard the precise path here:
1 - Media sheen fades
2 - Never loyal hangers-on (essentially everybody) peel off
3 - Effectiveness is gone
4 - America Moves On

These don't all happen in a neat and tidy order, but roughly sequentially. There can be overlap. The ball of number one is already moving downhill. The Cooper thing is just the latest, and I think we'll see more of this in the coming months. There are rumblings about number 2 for which I can't point to specifics. Number three is taking shape and number four can even be detected ever so slightly.

And remember my prediction, there will be a high level cabinet resignation (not a force out, but a real resignation; and not Gates) within six months, three within 18 months.

I'm Betting She'll Walk the Walk

Writing a book called Going Rogue is talking the talk. This would be walking the walk. And I have every expectation that she'll do it. It could be a seminal event in the retaking of the Republican party back from the professional political operators and unprincipled careerists.

UPDATE: Walking.  And the folks at Pajamas Media get the meaning too.

Make Failure An Option, As Well As Bigness

It's a bit wonkish, but here is a great article by my former finance professor that goes intelligently against the knee-jerk grain of current conventional wisdom.

Climate Change: China Has Obama Right Where They Want Him

If you take this at face value, all I can say is that you heard it here first. This, however, could also be viewed as a savvy pre-emptive move on the part of the Chinese. They know that Western governments, the US in particular, are pining away for a perceived success (IMO a real success is impossible) and they can hold out the prospect of failure as a bargaining chip to secure very favorable terms for China. Last year at this time, it looked like it would be the Europeans that had the most riding on success at Copenhagen. Several European countries had already embarked on "greening" their economies, which in essence meant that they imposed inefficiency and uncompetitiveness on themselves, and they were looking to drag the rest of the world toward greater inefficiency with them to regain some competitiveness. A year later, after a pro-growth result in the German election and a nascent but fagile recovery emerging in Europe, leaders have backed off the importance of Copenhagen. Moreover, the Euros have been dumping the onus and responsibility on Barack Obama, setting him up to take the blame if the confab fails. Global warmism is already a big focus for loyal Obama supporters in the US and a major policy plank of his administration. Thus we are left with really only one major world leader who is significantly invested in a success at Copenhagen, Barack Obama. (I'm discounting Gordon Brown from this by virtue of his irrelevancy, although he needs a win, any win.) Furthermore that leader, recent events on the world stage have shown, is prone to make bad deals, to give tangible things up for promises and/or nothing at all or for the sake of appearances. The Chinese know this, and could be setting Obama up for making a deal that is very good for the Chinese regardless of how good it is for the US or the climate.

UPDATE:  Obama isn't going.  This is the one intelligent thing I've seen him do in months.  He isn't taking the bait and knows that there is no deal to be had, why should he go?

Sausage Factory & Obama Take Note:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obama Orders "Decapitation" Strike

...against Citigroup, AIG, Bank of America, General Motors, and Chrysler. According to this report, Ken Feinberg - the "Pay Czar" - will demand that compensation at bailed out companies be reduced by up to 90% for the top 25 paid employees. This will assuredly cause many of these very valuable and talented executives to quit, thereby hurting their companies and degrading the value of the government's stake in each. But it is not the first time government has undermined its own interests looking to score some cheap points. I can't figure it out. Perhaps Dear Leader thinks that as his poll numbers slide, he has to hang some corporate executives in the public square in order to garner some populist points. With each of these heavy-handed moves, howver, he presses his heel down further on the neck of American business and erodes any sense of optimism or desire to take risk, undermining the economy as a whole. Or maybe he doesn't care, maybe he thinks he's got three plus years to pull himself out of the slide. I don't see it though. I think 10%+ unemployment is in the bag now and we won't see it sub-10% until 2011. Maybe (maybe) some sensible Dems can get him to stop digging, but I doubt it. There ain't any in the top ranks of the party and he apparently still doesn't listen to guys like Volcker (as savvy as Volcker is, he was played like a fiddle during the campaign, lending his credibility to an Obama who had none, only to be shoved in a closet).

Obama is profoundly and disturbingly dangerous to the US economy. Hold on folks, we're in for more tough times ahead.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is The West About to Hoard Oil in Runup To Iran Action

Was I on the mark and timely with my conspiracy theorizing? All I can say is "Hmmmmm."

Wall Street Comes To Its Senses

I've been chronicling the buyer's remorse here for awhile. Looks like at least one industry has learned, for the time being, not to feed the beast that will eventually eat it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Take It Out of Gubmint Hands

Remember when John Kerry said, "George Bush can't even get you a flu shot!"? Well...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

You Don't Say...?

Getting micro-managed and having your pay limited?  Forgive the best of the best of the corporate world for not signing up.  And they are not.  Somehow, I feel I have heard about the dangers of arbitrarily setting pay.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The World We Live In

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let's Do the Time Warp Again

Let's see. New York City's unemployment rate is zooming through double digits. The state is bankrupt. We have a wimpy, neo-phyte, economic illiterate President struggling to deal with growling Russians, dangerous Iranians, and a faltering economy. An entertainer referred to with the moniker "the king" has just died, and the Yanks are chasing another World Series title after a long drought (and could meet the Dodgers!). Hmmm. On the plus side though, blessedly, no serial killers running loose.

Ford Must Dump the UAW

More evidence of what I've been saying. Ford has its mortal enemy freely operating in its camp. That's not a recipe for survival.

A Move Worthy of Slick Willie

Having pissed off seniors to a fare-thee-well with massive Medicare cuts and "Quality Adjusted Remaining Life Years" (the Orwellian mechanism which liberals will use to deny granny care [we know because they've said it] and get very defensive about when normal citizens call them what they are) Obama attempts a cynical bribe, and, frankly, not a very good one. Give $12 billion with one hand while taking $300 billion with another. Smooth.

UPDATE: Gigot & Co. nail it (bonus: hilarious title).

Europe Goes for Trade Gains

South Korea, EU: Multibillion-Euro Trade Deal Struck
Stratfor Today »-->October 15, 2009
A deal worth up to 19 billion euro ($28 billion) for European exporters has been made between the European Union and South Korea, removing most trade tariffs between the two, the BBC reported Oct. 15, citing EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton. The deal, with a focus on services, manufacturing and agriculture, will come into effect in the second half of 2010 after ratification by the European Parliament.

DB: One more little loss of global economic leadership for the US to add to the pile. Good for Europe and bad for us.

Today's Headlines

Well well, the headlines of the day fit nicely with some themes I've hit upon in the past here at NBfPB. First, the front page of the WSJ has an amusing item about how Goldman Sachs is trying to make the pill of their big bonuses go down easier with a PR campaign. Too funny. I don't begrudge them their bonuses one iota, but the public scorn is all their fault. That firm is a hive of cocktail party liberals who swooned over Obama and supported all the Sausage Factory bozos who have led the charge in getting the public to hate...Goldman Sachs. A buddy of mine - a Prius-driving, universal healthcare-loving, Palin joke-a-minute guy who happens to make a couple million a year - expressed to me shock, shock!, at the "communist lynch mob" that directed it's venom at Goldman over the last year and a half. I gave him the dual Claude Raines/Political Unsophistication Award. Socialists hate capitalists, period. If you are a capitalist, as one needs to be to work at Goldman, then don't try to put socialists in power and don't be surprised when they come after your paycheck. It's pretty simple to me, if you believe in capitalism, don't vote for people who hate it - something the million dollar geniuses at Goldman are too sophisticated to figure out (not unlike a Harvard-educated President not figuring out that if you talk all the time, people give less weight to what you say).

Second item today, is the jobless claims number. I guess it is good that businesses are firing at a slower rate, but they are still firing in pretty large numbers. This has to stop before it can reverse, and it is far distance from stopping. The employment situation, it is obvious to be, is terrible with little good news on the 12-18 month horizon. That spells big trouble for the party in power and Dear Leader, he of economic genius despite never having worked in the private sector. Told ya' so.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Strike Three, You're...$4 Billion More in the Hole

After fixing our state budget...twice... we're still hurtling toward a $4.1 billion dollar deficit this year.

A) Told ya' so...twice. B) the only way, and I mean only, way to solve the problem is to slash $20 billion from the budget immediately. Yes. $20 billion. Starting now.

I am sure that the state Comptroller's office is looking at those juicy bonuses talked about today on the cover of the WSJ and thinking that they only have to keep things afloat until those get paid out and taxed. Don't bank on it. Those bonuses may be big but there will be fewer of them. Fair enough, Goldman guys and gals might get paid well, but the Lehman guys and the Bear Stearns guys and gals...? Well, if they found a home somewhere else, sure, but large numbers did not. AIG? Citigroup? Plus, there will plenty of realized capital losses from stock sales in 2009 taking down taxable income, and precious little gains. Tax revenue will be shy in 2010 too. Get used to it and slash that budget.

Another Billion Brazilian Barrels

Another billion or so barrels of oil on the wall...

I know. I know. It's getting boring.

How NOT To Fight Piracy

Pirates let off
Germany has let suspected pirates go after catching them with pirate paraphernalia off the Seychelles. The warship FGS Bremen spotted a suspected mother skiff and two smaller craft in the Somali Basin on Tuesday, EU NAVFOR wrote in a statement. A helicopter was dispatched and warnings shots were fired at the suspect craft causing them to stop. “The crew from the helicopter observed that the suspected pirates threw a number of items over board,” the statement read. “A boarding party from the German warship found on the skiff grappling hooks, ammunition, GPS and 10 barrels of fuel. The skiffs had no fishing equipment onboard.” The troops were, however, unable to arrest the suspected pirates, instead letting them and their larger vessel go. It is understood that the two small skiffs were destroyed by the Navy.

Link here (sub req.)

What a bunch of weenies those Germans.

UPDATE: Here is a much better approach:
Cameroon: 4 Suspected Pirates Killed - Defense Ministry
Stratfor Today »-->October 15, 2009
Four suspected pirates died in an Oct. 10 counterattack by Cameroon’s rapid intervention force, with three more injured and captured, and two others missing, Reuters reported Oct. 15, citing a Cameroon Defense Ministry statement. The alleged pirates’ speedboat was destroyed and a cache of weapons was seized. The Oct. 10 pirate attack off the Bakassi peninsula was the first in the Gulf of Guinea since March.

This Is Smart Power?

U.S.: Russia Permitted To Conduct Nuclear Inspections
Stratfor Today »-->October 14, 2009
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States is prepared to permit Russia to inspect its nuclear facilities, DPA reported Oct. 14. Russia would be allowed to check compliance under this arrangement, Clinton said, and in return the U.S. hoped it would be allowed to inspect Russian facilities. Clinton stated that the U.S. wants to create a system of control. The deal would form part of the new strategic arms reduction treaty being negotiated between the two powers.

So, 'trust and don't verify' seems to be the order of the day.

I got a great piece of advice once..."hope is not a strategy". It applies here.

UPDATE: Check out this and this.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Staying Away In Droves

Money is being dumped into major energy prospects all over the globe these days (Exxon in Canada, Ghana, even Poland; Total and Eni in Iraq, Shell in Australia; China pretty much everywhere) but a major oil and gas trade show in Venezuela is a bust. Despite almost zero geological risk, Chavez has scared off anybody worth having. Major energy industry capital is choosing below ground risk over above ground risk. Amazing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Government Doesn't Think/Act Like an Owner

Yet another case study. This front page article from Saturday's WSJ recounts how the federal government, ostensibly a large owner of Citigroup, essentially forced it to give away a valuable asset for a song. Why? Political priorities of course. Given this kind of boneheaded situation, no sensible private owner is going to want to co-invest with the government, which is why government capital is the kiss of death. Citigroup has preciously little, if any, access to the private capital markets going forward, a significant structural disadvantage, given its relationship with the government and the Phibro case is a classic study of why that is.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Major League Baseball Announces Cy Young Award Winner

2009 (also 2010, and maybe 2011) Cy Young Award Winner Barack Obama.

A Brand Officially in Tatters

It's been a slow, deliberative process destroying the brand of Nobel Peace Prize, but today they broke into a sprint and the job is complete.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Healthcare Fun

Pew took a poll. Even after skewing the number of respondents in favor of Democrats by 11%, they still got results showing that 47% oppose ObamaCare versus 34% that support it. And even then, Bloomberg reported it as a win for Obama.

The MSM is crowing about the CBO scoring of the Baucus bill even though it is a total sham (complete with government math), it is not a bill, it is totally conceptual. The bill, if we actually get one, will not look like the concept at all. And we won't know the difference because we won't be able to see it because the Democrats opposed posting the bill for a even a modest amount of time so people can read it. Of course anybody with common sense would ask, why are they hiding this thing? Well, because they don't want you to know what is in the bill because it has nothing to do with healthcare reform, it has to do with government control and wealth distribution.

This is your government ladies and germs. Have a nice day.

Read and Weep and Laugh

Wow, it is both funny and sad (I can't yet say whether it is more funny or more sad, but I'm leaning toward funny because anybody who thought John Edwards was worth an ounce of their effort is not worthy of sympathy) to watch a liberal get mugged by reality. Of course, it happens all the time, but rarely so visibly in the media. Read and laugh and weep.

Conspiracy Theory Time

Here is a little nugget for the conspiratorially minded. Western oil majors and even financial houses like JP Morgan are and have been storing crude oil in tankers at anchor for the past year. This was the result of the rare condition in the oil markets called contango. Currently there are 26 large tankers acting as storage for crude oil, eah holding 2 million barrels. One of the major fears regarding taking any military action to halt Iran's nuke weapons program is that they will close the straight of Hormuz and crimp oil flows to a global economy struggling to recover. Well, there are many many complex considerations around this issue, but let me just ask, how many tankers just sitting around storing crude oil would be an effective neutralizer of this fear? Could the US and British governments ask the likes of Morgan and others to ramp up this activity so as to have, oh, 70, 80, 90 tankers filled up and sitting quietly just in case Iran got bombed and acted up in the Strait? Just asking.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Economy Needs Oxygen, But There Is Oxygen and Then There Is Oxygen

I agree wholeheartedly with Larry Kudlow that a "Mundell-Laffer" solution would provide oxygen to the economy. But this oxygen is of the variety that you see athletes taking during a game - a supplementary supply pumped into an athlete's body otherwise operating normally. The type of oxygen that the US economy needs right now is the variety that flows in when an assailant removes his hands from your throat. The administration and the congressional Democrats have have unleashed attacks on the structural incentives that shape economic activity as well as shameless, naked direct attacks on individual businesses and business owners that have been so broad and so relentless, they amount to a chokehold on economic growth. I have been beating this drum incessantly here. A strong dollar and supply side tax cuts will not do the trick when the very notion of profit is suspect as a philosophical starting point and government is wielding a thuggish hand against business in pursuit of its social aims. A Mundell-Laffer solution is for the day when we are contemplating how to regain our economic dominance in the world, not for today, when we are desparately groping about for stability. First order of business for the administration is call off the dogs and take their hands off the throats of America's businesses large and small. Like Larry, I don't hold out much hope for a change in current course. The only solution is a reordering of the policy direction that comes with elections. We are stuck in the mud until either Obama or his congressional majority are gone.

Pentagon: Gimme 4 Bunker Busters...STAT!

U.S.: Pentagon Readjusts Spending
Stratfor Today »-->October 6, 2009
The Pentagon is shifting spending to accelerate the development of a bunker-busting bomb called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), ABC reported Oct. 6, citing a 93-page “reprogramming” request from the Pentagon comptroller sent to the Senate last summer. The comptroller said the Pentagon plans to spend $68.4 million to accelerate procurement and integration for four of the bombs with the B-2. The request has been approved, and McDonnell Douglas was awarded a $51.9 million contract Oct. 2 to build it. The request said the Defense Department has an “urgent operational need” to strike deeply buried targets in high-threat environments. The Pentagon asked Congress for $88 million in October 2007 to develop the MOP, designed to hit targets 200 feet underground.

DB: I hope this is actually for an "urgent operational need" but I imagine this is simply a chess move to increase pressure on Iran.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

American Company That Americans Continuously Crap On: We're Investing $4 Billion...Abroad

This is good news for Ghana, but it also helps to think of this as $4 billion dollars that was NOT invested here at home. Told ya' so.

Brazil: Shitload of Oil Is Good, More Is Better

Brazil: We had such AWESOME results drilling off our coast, we are going to drill some more, off another part of our coast!

Canadian Poaching & the Pay Czar

This story talks about those super duper Canadian banks hiring many Wall Streeters from formerly dominant American firms. The article chalks this ability up to Canadian banks' stability through the crisis, and that is part of it, but this goes entirely unmentioned and it is a glaring hole in the story. Everybody knows that anybody good that is still at Citibank has their resume out on the street. So sure, Canadian banks are "playing offense" but so is everyone else, everyone else that is who isn't being micro-managed by the Feds and getting their compensation toyed with by Czar Feinberg.

UPDATE: Wow, check out this list of former AIG managers who've moved on since the government took over. Lesson: top talent doesn't want to work for the government. Government ownership, while not wished for, could work out if done properly with a light touch. This is what a heavy hand gets you and I'm afraid this is how this government approaches things. The same fate will befall General Motors and Chrysler and government will wind up owning empty shells that have no chance of paying the taxpayers back. But then again, that wasn't the point, was it?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Only Off By 50x

A doctor friend emails this clip of the Healthcare Ignoramus-in-Chief with this comment:
"he suggests that surgeons get $30,000...$40,000... or $50,000 for a leg amputation. actually the number is about $500 - $600."

See this post and this post for the true picture and potential repercussions of reimbursements.

UPDATE: Former AMA heads express opposition to ObamaCare as it is currently contemplated, while the President stages propaganda.

NY State Closing In On My Prediction

In 2008, I predicted New York State's tax receipts would be down 40%. Today comes news that they are on track to be down 36%. Our clueless governor stills thinks we have a revenue problem, when we have a "key man" problem. You would think that all these progressives in the universtities and public sector unions would clue in - the steeper the tax code's progressivity, the more job insecurity for them. You could call it the revenge of the Laffer Curve.

Week 4 - Steve "Formerly the Other Steve Smith" Smith

Not much time today for commentary, except to say that I could have put this post up in the second quarter of yesterday's question about it. I love all the punditry now asking whether the "other Steve Smith" plays for NY or Charlotte. Great work Steve, meet the Most Honest Man in America, as our version of a weekly game ball.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Sounds Alot Like 'Taxation Without Representation'

Aside from merely being an affront to common sense, do you have any idea what this means? It means that we don't have representative democracy in America. If our elected representatives do not take the time to read and evaluate the bills that may become the law of our land that we will have to live under, we are simply not living under a system of popular representation. What we have is something more akin to the college of cardinals where a small number of elite members craft legislation and voting is incidental. How about if Americans decided not to pay their taxes because the tax code is "gibberish" and "incomprehhensible". I'd actually like to see such a mass movement. Sounds alot like taxation without representation to me.

Three Cheers for the American Car Buyer!

Good work America. Good work indeed. I will only take a small eentsy-beentsy bit of credit, 99.8739% of the credit goes to you, car buyers of this great, proud land.

Rich Irony In Chicago Loss to Rio

If Rio gets the nod it will be a delicious irony. Obama's hometown will have lost out on the 2016 Olympic Games by virtue of a core creed of modern liberalism - affirmative action, or more precisely, the granting of privileges or benefits based on a desire to rectify past injustice. This concept has escaped past its conceptual borders, now often addressing merely perceived injustices as opposed to widely recognized injustices as well as often blithely disregarding legitimate, rather than sinister, causes of past under-representation. Lula has essentially made the affirmative action pitch for Brazil. It would be richer than rich for Obama, liberalism's earth-bound deity, to be so humbled by a decision-making process that was infused with one of liberalism's deepest held creeds.

UPDATE: It's Rio.

Scuttlebutt from Obama's War (Against Business) Room

Good get together last night with some buds, one of whom related a story to me that underscores what I've been saying all along here. The story is about the CEO of one of the largest companies in the country - a huge company that employs hundreds of thousands of workers and spends tens of billions of dollars in investment capex. Anyway, this company naturally has a new head regulator since Obama came on board. The new head regulator has decided to push ahead with a new controversial policy that amounts to stealing the property of this large company, and chose to bypass the traditional policy of allowing industry participants a public comment period. In short, thew new guy is embarking on handing down a regulatory dictat that will eviserate billions of dollars of investment that this large company, and others in the industry have already spent. So, the regulator and the CEO have a very uncivil discussion about it and the regulator hangs up on the CEO. So, some time after the CEO gets to chat with David Axelrod, who apparently is pretty much the Obama economic team, and the CEO makes a mild accusation that the Obama administration is not friendly to business. Axelrod is perplexed, he can't understand how or why the Obama administration has picked up a reputation for being unfriendly to business, causing the CEO to burst out laughing.

Couple points here. Axelrod isn't stupid, why would he try to maintain a fiction in a private conversation? Does he really believe that this administration's policies are friendly to business? Second, shouldn't a savvy political operator know that a man who controls tens of billions of dollars in spending and hundreds of thousands of jobs is someone to work with, not repel? Given today's unemployment numbers, my theory of the existence of job market vigilantes is looking spot on. These companies have very long time horizons, they can afford to sit on their cash and wait Obama out, which they are doing. There is no conceivable way that the Obama political team doesn't know this. Thus the logical conclusion is they don't care. They think that they can accomplish what they want - a fundamental reordering of the economy through cap and trade, healthcare nationalization, regulatory overhaul, and card check - before anyone notices or before any poo hits the fan in terms of economic consequences. It's a gamble, a big brash cynical gamble. It's also dishonest, and I would even argue treasonous. It is only in this context that one can rejoice in the latest dismal unemployment numbers. Obama owns the jobless figures and every bad turn harms his political capital and ability to achieve his aims. I lament that so many are out of work, but this is the price we pay for our self-indulgent fantasies about Obama, liberal Democrats, government power, free lunches, and anti-capitalist feel-good utopian pap.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Nobody Creates, These Things Just Exist

Break Out The World's Smallest Violin

Seems like a couple of Iranian nuclear scientists have gone missing...

Iran: Mottaki Discussed Missing Nuke Scientists With U.N. Chief - Report
Stratfor Today »-->October 1, 2009
During a Sept. 29 meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, Mottaki expressed his frustration regarding the fate of four missing Iranians, Al-Sharq Al-Awsa newspaper reported Oct. 1, citing an anonymous source from the Iranian delegation. Two of those missing are Iranian nuclear scientists, Nooyan and Shahram Amiri. Nooyan reportedly disappeared in Turkey in 2007; Amiri vanished in 2009 while performing an Umrah, a pilgrimage to the Saudi holy city of Mecca. Mottaki said Tehran believes that all are either in an American prison in an undisclosed location or had sought asylum and were transferred to another country with U.S. assistance.

Defective equipment, dead or missing scientists, inexplicable explosions...where have I heard all this before?

Hillary Clinton's Itinerary Is Just Sad

How much more marginalization and second-tier assignments is Hillary Clinton going to take before she says "screw this..."

U.S.: Clinton To Visit Northern Ireland
Stratfor Today »-->October 1, 2009
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to visit Northern Ireland within the next few weeks, Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State Shaun Woodward said Oct. 1, the Guardian newspaper reported. Woodward said Clinton “wants to come to Northern Ireland to help look at the jobs and opportunities and investment that America can bring to Northern Ireland.”

Future of Healthcare: Cash Is King

In this post I talked about how BaucusCare would incentivize me to dump my insurance, pay the fine, and take the substantial cash savings out shopping for healthcare. Big question though: will I be able to walk in, put cash on the barrel and get the care that I need? I have every confidence that I will based on substantial evidence that many providers will totally opt out of the government system of payment and be cash only, private providers of healthcare. Via Carpe Diem today, I see that my confidence is well placed. If you multiply my reaction on the demand side and this surgery center's reaction on the supply side many times over, what you see emerging is a two-tiered system of readily available care for those with cash and uncertain care for those with government insurance. Is that what reform is supposed to achieve?

College Men Everywhere Rejoice!

You have a new defense if you are so unlucky as to be called before the student justice apparatus: "It wasn't, you know, date-rape date-rape."

Checking In On the Big Picture

When Al Hunt's most reliable lefty - and lightest-weight, in my opinion - opiner, Margaret Carlson, takes Obama to task for taking his eye off the ball, then you know that the de facto lese majeste law that the MSM has spread o'er the land has been repealed. Carlson, hits the nail on the head, although you still have to wade through her typical illogical rubbish to see it driven into the wood. For example, in a typical Carlsonian assertion, criticism, apparently, doesn't stand or fall based on the merits, but on who is doing the criticizing. Actually the singular gem (pun intended) of the whole article is the apt word "bauble" in the title and it is unclear whether Carlson is even in the title-writing business. Perhaps some copy editor formulated this perfect metaphor for Obama and, indeed, liberalism itself - style over substance. No matter what he does, Obama is seeking to look good, to come off swell rather than achieve any significant aim. He'll take any ole' healthcare bill, he's a global good guy with that outstretched hand for Iran while they remain with middle finger prominently displayed, he'll swoop in to boldly orchestrate a non-binding resolution at the UN (whew, I'll bet that was hard!). I could go on. They say a broken clock is right twice a day. Maraget Carlson somehow manages only once a day, but today is that day. It is not looking good. Once that media sheen is gone, there ain't a whole lot left.

And in other news, today brings another tandem of economic data that sets in high relief the progress of the recovery against its salient characteristic, joblessness. And yet another top echelon economist comes out solidly on the side of "stimulus equals waste of money."

History is never in the bag, the unpredictable and unforeseen always loom large ready to make fools of the prosnosticators, but I am willing to expose myself to the prospect one day looking foolish. The die is cast on the overwhelming concern of the American people, the economy. Based on the last nine months' policy coming from Washington DC, decisions have already been made that have cemented an unexciting, jobless, recovery for at least the next 12-18 months. Stumbling on foreign policy has let loose forces that will prove intractable in the short run. Unattainable success on key issues has been over-hyped to the true believers who will almost certainly be disappointed. The loyalist media is just now starting to shine a critical light. The silent majority is no longer silent, exercised over the venality, arrogance, and buffoonery pervading our government. On present course, historians will be able to sum up the Obama presidency quite succinctly: "it seemed like a good idea at the time."