Friday, February 26, 2010
"Crippling" Sanctions Too Harsh, How About "Irritating"?
I Called It: Productivity Over People
"The economy can be doing fairly well, as can the stock market, while employment can be in relatively bad shape. The Democrats drove home this point a few years back with their incessant lamentations of "jobless recovery." We can certainly have one. Looking at the landscape holisitically, the incentives for companies to invest in hiring US workers over the next couple of years are underwhelming. ... The upshot of all this is that US corporations will be struggling to maintain their level of profitability, and when they do contemplate growth the incentives are for them to invest in productivity tools rather than people or to invest in workers abroad rather than domestically.
Ford Motor today: "Ford Plans $155 Million Plant Upgrade, No New Hiring"
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Obama Needs Finance 101
So here again I am faced with the choice of how to interpret this - either Obama is dumb or lying. Clearly he is not dumb, so I have to recast my choices he's lying or he's "an intelligent liberal" meaning, "it's not that he doesn't know anything, he knows alot in fact, but that what he knows is wrong." Hard to say, it's a toss up.
UPDATE: But he is the President, got that, he's the President.
UPPDATE: Wow, if Wolf Blitzer and David "Kennedy Seat" Gergen are saying the Republicans brought their A-game, you can bet it is a rout and Pelosi & Reid and Obama are going to be steamed...
UPPPDATE: Apparently The One didn't like getting schooled by Paul Ryan, so he treated us the now infamous Lightworker Middle Finger!
Hey Ally, Screw You
UPDATE: Reader DW Drang may be on to something...
UPPDATE: And the Brits are rightly and predictably steamed. They don't deserve this and it sucks, but but but...
Our "Great Depression II" Scorecard
Brief: Another U.S.-China Trade Spat
Stratfor Today »-->February 25, 2010
Applying STRATFOR analysis to breaking news
China’s Ministry of Commerce accused the United States of “abusing its own trade relief measures” on Feb. 25, in response to a U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision on Feb. 24 to impose preliminary countervailing duties ranging from 11-13 percent on carbon and alloy pipes. The U.S. Commerce Department claims the duties will counteract the low prices of the pipes due to government subsidies that the Chinese producers receive. It is also considering adding stiffer anti-dumping duties. China and the United States have seen a rise in trade disputes since spring 2009 in the rocky global economic environment, many of which have been referred to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Among numerous complaints, China has launched investigations into imports of U.S. car parts, has made a preliminary ruling against U.S. chemical fibers and has imposed anti-dumping duties of 43 to 105 percent on U.S. chicken products; while the United States has imposed tariffs of 35 percent on Chinese-made tires, duties of 10-16 percent on Chinese steel piping, tariffs and additional duties on Chinese wire-decking, and anti-dumping duties on Chinese ribbons. These conditions will persist, as China continues to use artificially low credit, subsidies and rebates to help its exporters, and the United States strives to protect its ailing manufacturing sector from Chinese competition. But both sides have so far given warning shots and sought to avoid escalation into a full trade war.
Remember, by wide consensus among economists and historians, the Great Depression was deepened and prolonged by four principal policy mistakes:
- Contraction of the money supply
- Massive Regulation
- Higher Taxes
We are currently going 1 for 4 on not repeating these mistakes...actually, I'm going to be generous and call it 1.5 for 4 because cap-and-trade and healthcare look mighty wounded, if not dead, maybe 1.25 as Dodd's financial regualtion reform looks to be moving again. Let's hope that is enough, but I'd sleep better if we were solidly batting above .500 on this.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Taste the Gloaty Goodness
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
51 Votes? Make Our Day.
Just How F**ked Up Are the Greeks?
Man is that nuts. Those Greeks. Only they would think of refusing to stop paying people for not working while bankruptcy looms. I mean, really, who would engage in such stupidity. Um, oh wait...
Bond Market Vigilantes to Supplement Job Market Compatriots
Friday, February 12, 2010
If You're Going to the Olympics
Tea Party: Wider and Deeper Than You Know
Changes Coming to CEA?
UPDATE: I failed to take a peek at the report that Mankiw cites, but via the guys at Say Anything, who never let anything slip by, I checked out the WaPo's coverage. You will rarely see a more stark admission of failure and defeatism than the notion that high unemployment is going to be a "fact of life" for the remainder of Obama's term. This is an admission the the now $860 billion stimulus was a failure, but also, more disturbingly, that Obama's team are flummoxed as to what to do now. Obama has three more years but they are resigned to high unemployment. They admit to no ability to improve the employment outlook. Stunning really. Frankly, I could give them just three or four policies that would unleash employment like a rocketship, but they are throwing in the towel. Why? (Australia is adding lots of jobs, Canada is creating jobs, what is wrong with us?) Are they wearing idealogical blinders and couldn't possibly fathom the role that tax cuts and deregulation might play or do they consider these not feasible politically? Now the most important question, if Obama's economic team doesn't think they can improve the employment picture, why don't they all resign so a new team can try...or why doesn't the Obama administration stand down and let someone else take over economic policy-making?
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Chris Christie and Angie Merkel: Fiscal Heroes?
Time to Play "What If Bush Did It"
Whew that was fun. Tomorrow we'll play "Remember when Nancy Pelosi Said...?"
Hmm Hmm Hmm, Donny Baseball
If I win in 2012, I want a "Hmm Hmm" song about me...
Hmm, hmm, hmm
Donny Donny Baseball
He said we must all get back to basics
To make this Country strong again
Hmm, hmm, hmm
Donny Donny Baseball
He said we must work hard today
Not buy things for which we cannot pay
Hmm, hmm, hmm...
Brazil Trips Falls, Finds Oil
Constitutional Crisis Here We Come
Cafe Hayek Anticipates Rampant Fallacy Commission
Teabagger Slur is...Ageist
So if "Professor" can be racist, I think "Teabagger" can surely be ageist.
Today We Cross Over into Farce
Oh, and here is another corker...he's a "fierce advocate" of business. All but possibly twelve businessmen in the country are howling right now. The overwhelming opinion in the business community about the President ranges from disappointment to fear, from frustration to loathing. Maybe that is why businesses are hoarding cash. Businesses have been driven into the bunkers, and I've even had some businesspeople tell me they won't hire until after the Democrats (more accurately, these Democrats) take electoral losses.
...and then there is this.
On today's evidence, Obama seems to have gone from tragedy to farce.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Audi's Message: Teabaggers Suck...????
Oh, and what does all this have to do with the Tea Party movement? Who knows. It appears, however, to be a requirement of citizenship in Elitist Jerkoff America to take incongruant jabs at people who endeavor to protect their liberties.
One Day More
"One day to a new beginning,
Raise the flag of freedom high!
Every man will be a king.
Every man will be a king.
There's a new world for the winning.
There's a new world to be won."
While the arm of the state, Javert, bolsters his confidence:
"One day more till revolution,
We will nip it in the bud!
We'll be ready for these schoolboys,
They will wet themselves with blood!"
This article by Amir Taheri sums up nicely the current state of affairs as we await tomorrow's events. One can only admire the brave, freedom-seeking Iranian people and pray for their eventual triumph over tyranny, and likewise loathe Khamenei & Ahmadinejad and hope they are relegated to history's dustbin. There is no ambiguity as to the moral calculus here.
As for our own selfish purposes, the geopolitical question, this could be our last chance to have the world's most pressing geopolitical threat neutralized with a silver bullet, which points up what a monumental blunder President Obama's past fumbling and current silence represents. Prior to June of last year, Iran had been a long-standing intractable situation hurtling toward a resolution via one of two terrible options - a fanatical, acopalyptic regime armed with nuclear weapons or a military strike of uncertain effectiveness and unpredictable consequences. To the extent that this global problem had a silver bullet, it arrived in June with the fraudulent presidential election that ignited popular resentment and unleashed months of steady, widespread protest. A regime change from within that moved Iran from a fanatical, West-loathing regime to a liberated, democratic society desirous of engagement with the modern world would have been a rare miracle, a moral and geopolitical win-win for the ages. And President Obama did nothing and said nothing. To make it that much more inexcusable, he failed not because he just missed something or misread the situation, he did nothing and said nothing because his approach rested on the arrogance that he was unique in this world, that he alone possessed the ability to resolve the situation where decades of efforts have previously failed. Hence the power, prestige and moral exmaple of the United States of America is out of the game. The Iranians have only themselves and we can only wish them the best and pray for them. And so, one last line from Les Miserables:
"Tomorrow will discover what our God in Heaven has in store.
One more dawn. One more day. One day more!"
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Let Greece Fail
The subject is a tad complex and I'm not going to rehash the intricacies here, but if you are reading this, you probably already know a thing or two about global finance and/or central banking. The key point is this: Greece is the tip of the iceberg. The debt crisis will balloon out of control if monetary authorities don't hold fiscal actors to account. The bond market too. The bond market must make it so that these political chumps don't take perpetual debt rolling as a given. If allowed to stand there at the edge of abyss by the EU central banking authorities and the bond market, the politicians will have to wake up. Greece is the perfect test case to send this message too. It's puny. It'll be a mere bump in the road. Italy and Spain will be much bigger trouble if we travel down this road with them. California too. If Greece and Portugal can cause this kind of a headache, what is gonna happen when California hits the wall? Better to send the signal that sovereign borrowers are on their own and have to figure their own problems out with Greece now than with somebody bigger later. Greece is the perfect sacrificial lamb. This is very akin to Bear Stearns and Lehman. If we had just let Bear fail, perhaps Dick Fuld & Co. would have got the message and had time to get financial religion.
Closer to home, I think this gets it right. Personally I welcome our new double AA future.
UPDATE: Dan Mitchell agrees.
Socialism Rocks On!
Venezuela: Chavez Declares Electrical Emergency
Stratfor Today »-->February 9, 2010
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared a countrywide electricity emergency on Feb. 8, Globovision reported. The decree announced the creation of a state commission for the electrical sector comprising the ministers for Energy and Petroleum, Electrical Energy, Finance and Planning, and Mining and Basic Industries. Vice President Elias Jaua will coordinate the commission.
C'mon Hugo, you're still just a piker. A real socialist could bring about FAMINE!!
Very Best of Hands
Lament: The country is in the very best of hands.
One point I've wondered. What were Dems thinking appointing Menendez to the leadership of DSCC? This guy had a fairly typically corrupt run as a Congressman from a gerrymandered district, only won his Senate seat by virtue of incumbent advantage and a tidal wave of Democratic momentum in 2006, and has had ethics violations hanging over him. Who was the genius who said, "Yeah, I want that guy recruiting Senate candidates!" when the nation is clearly sick of the political class and on the verge of a small scale revolt. Did he recruit Marcia Coakley?
Consolation: The Democrats are in the very best of hands.
Monday, February 08, 2010
When He Hears 38%, He Doesn't Think 62%, He Thinks, Well, 38%
The President's published poll numbers on "handling the deficit" were 38% back in September and yet he still put out this budget?!?! It's official, the guy doesn't care; which is to say that he doesn't care about you if you don't agree with him. It's full speed ahead to a transformed America as per his unabashedly lefty vision or die tryin'.
In a way it's kinda refreshing to see such indifference to the polls. With Bush, it was win the Iraq War come hell or high water, with Big O, it's create a cradle to grave entitlement state come hell or high water. Problem is I don't want to live in a cradle to grave entitlement state, so that "refreshing" bit wears off in about a nano-second.
Business View of Political Landscape
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Unsustainable, That's What You Are
Friday, February 05, 2010
Forward to the Past!!
If disdain for socialism is far right, welcome the label and relish in it. History is on your side. Morality is on your side.
Recommended reading for this depressingly large number of Democrats and liberals.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Has An Athlete Ever Acted So Badly?
Then & Now
It Is a Cruel Cruel World
That was one year ago. Since then it turns out that the global warming scientists were cheating and lying. There may not even be global warming. There certainly isn't going to be any global policy achievements to reduce it, so your Prius is a worthless bust when it comes to doing something for the environment. Well, at least the impending scarcity of oil is going to make that $4000 payback come sooner, right? Maybe not since President Obama, in his first SOTU address called for more oil and gas drilling offshore. Who knows, but maybe that nine years is going to really be like, twelve. Oh, and you may have faulty brakes...
Chavez Invents New Basis for Legitimacy
Venezuela: Chavez Says Other Nations Want Him In Power
Stratfor Today »-->February 4, 2010
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Feb. 4 that Russia and other nations with major investments in Venezuela want him to continue in power, Globovision reported. Chavez said that if the opposition returned to power, oil in the Orinoco Belt would belong to the United States.
That's rich. The Russians! Um, er, what about the people of, say, Venezuela? Do they factor in?
Orwellian Reality: Unsustainable = Will Clearly Be Sustained
We need a new Congress to be sure, but first we need a new word. Personally, I prefer two words - "f**king insane." Until we ditch "unsustainable" and start talking about government spending in new terms - like "f**cking insane" - we won't get any traction.
Not Even the Smallest Violin...No Damn Violin
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
File Under: Be Careful What You Wish For
Global Finance Heh
"The Portuguese government failed to find sufficient investor interest in its bonds on Feb. 3, with only 300 million euros ($417 million) of its 12-month bonds sold out of an expected 500 million euro bond offering. The interest that Portugal will have to pay on the bonds was 1.38 percent, compared to 0.93 percent at a Jan. 20 auction. The increase in the cost of financing debt indicates investor skepticism toward Portuguese debt. This follows Portugal’s Jan. 25 budget announcement in which Lisbon failed to convince credit rating agencies — specifically Fitch and Moody’s — that its austerity measures were sufficient to cut its budget deficit. Furthermore, Portugal’s 2009 budget deficit was 9.3 percent of gross domestic product — higher than the forecast 8.5 percent — and Lisbon will only be able to reduce the deficit by 1 percent in 2010. The news of a poor bond sale from Portugal follow some positive news from Greece, where a semblance of investor confidence returned on Feb. 3 — interest on government bonds fell to 6.73, after hitting a high of 7.16 on Jan. 28 — due to positive comments from the EU Commission regarding the Greek budget austerity plan. The dire news from Portugal, however, indicates that investors still lack confidence in the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) as a group. A sufficiently negative perception of PIIGS economies could force financing costs to skyrocket, making it difficult for Eurozone’s peripheral states to finance their ballooning budget deficits. This could force the EU to step in; rumors have swirled recently around European capitals that eurozone members are discussing the possibility of floating a eurozone-wide bonds which would then provide funding for countries in trouble. It is unclear at the moment, however, how willing Berlin is to offer such a lifeline to the PIIGS when it wants to put the onus on budgetary austerity measures instead."
Somewhere in a Boardroom in Tokyo...
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
A lesson in not believing the "science is settled" until it is well and truly settled about ten times over. Beware the scientific absolutists.
Monday, February 01, 2010
WR Mead: Yes, Global Warming Is Dead
Obama Thrusts, You Parry
Hopefully, An Offer They Can't Refuse
The Why of Obama?
I believe that historians will struggle mightily for years to come to explain Obama, or more specifically why Americans elected Obama when he stands so opposed to what most Americans believe in, not just policy wise but worldview-wise. From day one it seems that Obama has been seeking to be the enemy of average Americans by stamping down economic activity with frighteningly damaging policy and rampant rhetoric of such policy in every aspect of economic life. From day one he seems to have approached Americans' security somewhere between obliviously and cavalierly. Now, after suffering a severe run of political damage because the direction that he taking this country, Obama is unbowed, steaming ahead with more of the same policy drives and rhetoric. This is a man not listening and not caring what we think. How did it come to pass that we put such a man in the White House? Shelby Steele has taken a crack. Now, via the Powerline guys, here is another interesting searching journey into this perplexing question. Yours truly has even ventured into the genesis of this twilight zonish political reality. These are important qestions to consider and ponder, important journeys to take, but afterwards I think we will arrive at that simplicity that lies at the far end of complexity - too many of our fellow citizens simultaneously suffered a debilitating brain fart.