19 December, 2008

What happened to the economy?

the ONION explains.

17 December, 2008

Accidental Economic Editorializing

Some opinions are so ingrained in a subculture that that subculture is not even aware that they are not facts, but opinions. There are few if any more certain indicators of being out of touch with the intellectual climate than to not be aware that some visible and accomplished members of the population not only do not share this assumption of facthood, but are actually demonstrating superior situational awareness in contradicting it than are proponents of said opinions in espousing it.

That is the best I can do right now to summarize my thoughts a few hours after watching an astonishing episode of ABC's World News Tonight (12/16/08). The lead report, of course, begins with coverage of the Federal Reserve's historic interest rate action. The opinion-as-fact comes when the report segues to consumer credit:

"But, the economy won't improve until interest rates fall for consumers as well."

But, this is an opinion, not an established fact. Evidence here, here, here and heck, even here.

03 December, 2008

Comparing models

I'm fascinated by Peter Schiff lately. Jim Rogers too. Here is a great compilation of Peter on various business news shows. I wonder if those other guests would still yuk it up if they watched this. I would hope not, but they'd probably have some cya excuse for their uselessness.

15 October, 2008

There's Always ToBorrow

Plan A: make everyone buy bad loans
Plan A': make everyone forcibly buy part of the banks
Plan A'' [in development]: make everyone buy a new house
Plan B [in reserve]: make everyone buy a Hummer

03 October, 2008

Wouldn't anti-depressants be cheaper?

Citizens,

If we are to believe the timbre of the informational ether, we are at a crook in the mixed shit creek economy. There is, we are lectured, finally and unfortunately, no choice remaining. We must bail out...Congress. Also the Bush administration, the red and blue Presidential hopefuls, and the respectable media. The epochal legislation under consideration has simply been made to seem too important not to pass. Credit is obviously frozen because members of Congress and the mainstream Presidential candidates are getting nary a trickle. Furthermore, talking news heads and experts (and ex-experts) went balls out for the Wall Street welfare tsunami and, after being flabbergasted by popular opposition (which temporarily increased liquidity in some commentators' collective pants), find themselves in need of a rescue plan. Clearly, this cannot stand. Ladies and Gentlemen, it is impolite to point out that when the wisdom of the entire governing industry and its 24-hour PR wing proves to be of the sub-prime variety, the public personas of the pro-bailout, bi-partisan, bi-cameral Centristocracy must receive from their subjects the approbatory absolution that only a geyser of U.S. Mint ink can deliver. They are, you must understand, too big to fail.

29 September, 2008

Want to borrow some money?

You may not have to look far:

"Banks throughout the United States carried on with the business of making loans yesterday even as federal officials warned again that their industry is on the verge of collapse, suggesting that the overheated language on Capitol Hill may not reflect the reality on many Main Streets."

more...

28 September, 2008

btw, herez sum $ 4 ford, etc.

Oh, and, fyi, we're also bailing out some people who make cars. Don't worry, it's just $25 billion.

Con.sens.us

The vocabulary of the bailout is interesting and sad. I'd like to have a list of the words used to describe the supposed consequences of "doing nothing" (for only government action counts). Just tonight on ABC News I heard "abyss," "collapse," "catastrophe," and "we don't even want to think about it." (There's an intellectual approach.) Their reporters go on to say that a) we don't know whether the bailout will work and, strangely, b) there is a consensus that not passing a plan would be "far worse." Than what? Burning $700,000,000,000 in future taxes for nothing? I'm also curious to know how a consensus can exist when 160 or so economists, including three nobel-prize-winning ones signed a letter urging caution--at least with regard to Paulson's original proposal. Excerpt:
If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America's dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.
Some even question whether it's true that credit is frozen. (Listen to the news and you'll hear that claim repeated unquestioningly and frequently.)

VOCABULARY UPDATE: "...we do not want to live in a world that will exist without this rescue plan." -Art Hogan , Chief Investment Officer, Jefferies & Co., interviewed on ABC World News With Charles Gibson, 9/29/08

24 September, 2008

The McSky is Falling!

I thought I smelled something Filet-O-Fishy when I heard about this story on ABC News last night...
McDonald's Corp., the world's largest restaurant company, told some U.S. franchisees to seek other ways to finance store improvements after Bank of America Corp. declined to increase lending.

Store owners have exhausted financing used to pay for upgrades and equipment to make lattes and espressos, and Bank of America won't provide more money as it works on the planned purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co., McDonald's said in a memo that was obtained by Bloomberg News.

The boys on MSNBC/CNBC are using it as I type to impress upon the naughty populous that it had better get in line behind the Big Bailout or else!

Now the clarifications appear to be flying:
McDonald's said franchisees still have access to more than 50 national, regional and local lenders to provide financing.
"There are no credit issues at McDonald's," spokesman Walt Riker said in an email. "There continues to be more than sufficient liquidity available to our franchisees to fund capital improvements in their restaurants."
And, of course, since you need a new car to drive through the drive-thru, the same ABC News segment threw in a mention of the apparently increasing difficulty of borrowing (as opposed to saving up) money to buy a new car every couple of years.

But the biggest financing problem financing dealers face right now is one brought on by auto dealers and auto financing companies themselves, said Tawny Arnaud, vice president of sales for Galpin Motors, a chain of nine dealerships in the Los Angeles area.

Many customers who want to trade in vehicles today are still paying off extra-long loans they arranged on their last car purchase, he said. Loans of long as or six years have become commonplace in the industry.

Well, mercy!

23 September, 2008

Revolution Devolution

Ron Paul endorses Baldwin.

This seems odd as Baldwin seems to endorse allowing terrorist bombings of abortion clinics, prohibition of drugs (abortion pills), using police powers of the state to violently force rape victims to bear rapists' children, etc.:

"I affirm the God-given legal person hood of all unborn human beings, without exception...Under my administration, we could end legal abortion in a matter of days, not decades. And if Congress refuses to pass Dr. Paul's bill, I will use the constitutional power of the Presidency to deny funds to protect abortion clinics. Either way, legalized abortion ends when I take office." (emphasis added)

18 September, 2008

Solution: another government agency?

And free money for some, it seems. Must be nice...

"Wachovia Corp. soared 59 percent, Citigroup Inc. added 19 percent and Bank of America Corp. jumped 12 percent, sending the KBW Bank Index to its biggest gain since July. Morgan Stanley erased a 46 percent tumble and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. recovered most of a 25 percent slide as Senator Charles Schumer proposed a new agency to pump capital into financial companies..."
[Bloomberg]

16 September, 2008

Federal Government Taking Control of Apple, Inc.

Next iPhone to include Homeland Security chip

Think I'm kidding? Okay, I am, but don't be a jerk and claim this is as outlandish as it was, oh, two weeks ago. Maybe it would be good if the Feds did nationalize Apple. Maybe more people would pay attention to the consequences of real concentrations of real power (as opposed to the highly contingent power of, say, a Merrill Lynch). And, hey, we'd have a Secretary of Mac. I nominate this guy.

28 August, 2008

Helping Obama

Obama orated:
"I don't know anyone who benefits when...an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers."
Three suggestions:
1. the illegal workers: go from zero income to non-zero income
2. the employer: saves money on wages
3. consumers: pay lower prices
(For outsourcing, replace "illegal workers" with "foreign workers.")
(For automation, replace "hiring illegal workers" with "installing robots" and omit #1 since robots don't care about wages.)

How To Achieve Energy Independence

Ban energy imports tomorrow.

There. Happy?

Current Candidate Grades

McCain-
economy: C
foreign policy: D
civil liberties: D

Obama-
economy: D
foreign policy: C+
civil liberties: C

Disclaimer: these grades are based on Vox Politico's current assessment only.

25 August, 2008

Boon To Pickens

There's an interesting article at Popular Mechanics about some lesser-known aspects of "the Pickens Plan," that energy initiative/commercial that's all over screens lately.
"Pickens is in the planning stages of a $1.5 billion initiative to pump billions of gallons of water from an ancient aquifer beneath the Texas Panhandle and build pipelines to ship them to thirsty cities such as Dallas...a continuation of the drought impacting large portions of the United States could turn Pickens into something of a water baron. His yet-to-be-built pipeline would follow the same 250-mile corridor as electric lines carrying power from his wind farms."
An important detail here: "
Specifically, Pickens asked Congress to extend a 2005 law intended to speed up the creation of energy corridors, and to give him control over any transmission lines he builds for wind-generated power."

I have some things I'd like Congress to give me control over, too. I promise something good for the general public would come out of it. That's not a legally binding promise, of course.

Update (10/7): Pickens's new commercial encourages viewers to ask of political candidates: "What's their plan for cutting foreign oil imports?" and "How soon can we get started?" Let's see, a political plan to cut imports--what does that usually look like? Pickens says he is dead serious about this. Good choice of words.

11 June, 2008

The high cost of bitterness

A colleague recently pointed me to Coyote Blog. There I found this short entry about a mysterious power of price changes. Minutes later I was gathering some newsprint for my parrot's cage when I came across an interesting example of this dynamic--in our leftweekly. Raise your mugs!

27 March, 2008

10 March, 2008

Does the governor of New York want prostitution decriminalized?


Governor Eliot Spitzer is in some trouble for, apparently, hiring a prostitute. Does he (and his supporters) think prison is the right societal response to prostitution? Or does he (and his supporters) now think selling sex should be legal? Or, a third option: does he (and his supporters) think the law is right except that it should not apply to certain special individuals? To summarize, which of the following does Gov. Spitzer (and you-know-who) favor?:

a. legalization for all [here's video of George Carlin's take--with two cuss words in first 12 seconds]
b. exemptions for some [insert Spitzer's legal defense team's statements here]
c. imprisonment for Eliot [seems unlikely, but then again...]

27 February, 2008

'Tardette bile eruption takes form of endorsement

Big surprise. A bland, connect-the-dots, yet successfully putrid piece boosting Ron Paul's Congressional primary opponent issues from 'Tardette. It's unclear whether this sad little crew will ever get over witnessing a phenomenal, long shot, but burgeoning challenge to correct social regimentation. They may realize that Ron Paul's run this past year has been, in bizspeak, almost all "upside" for his supporters. This would explain anti-Paul types being keen to help find some "downside."

21 February, 2008

Is murder unconstitutional?


In her opening statement at tonight's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton stated:
I want to stop the health insurance companies from discriminating against people because they're sick. You know, it's unconstitutional to discriminate on the basis of race or gender or ethnic origin or religion, but it's okay to discriminate against sick people and we're gonna end that, because it's time we said, "no more."

[Applause]
So, is it reasonable to ask which part of the Constitution forbids private parties, like insurance companies, from discriminating "on the basis of race or gender or ethnic origin or religion?" And, if that section doesn not turn up, is it reasonable to question whether Hillary Clinton has a firm command of the basics of our founding document? Or maybe it was a simple slip-up. Maybe Hillary Clinton does not equate laws with the Constitution. Perhaps there is some other explanation. It would be nice to know the answer. [Disclaimer: if the U.S. Constitution is merely an antiquated document preserving historically interesting but outdated ideas, please disregard these questions.]

19 February, 2008

Bad experience


Much is made of McCain's vast experience, Clinton's modest or non-traditional experience, and Obama's comparatively thin experience. But quality, in the case of choosing a president (which, today, has so much more power than quaint American presidents of the past), looms large. If it's bad experience, it wouldn't seem to be very beneficial to a candidate's resume. Quite the opposite.

Put defending preemptive war, promoting unconstitutional legislation, and pursuing seemingly endless increases in the scope and scale of government in the "bad experience" column.

03 February, 2008

Not the Taliban

It's worth seriously asking what kind of regime we are supporting in Afghanistan. Consider the frightening case of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, sentenced to death for distributing a report critical of treatment of women in some Islamic societies. From Wired:
He was tried by a sharia court (which oversees Islamic religious law) and was not allowed legal representation, according to news reports. The Afghan Senate passed a motion this week supporting the sentence, according to the British newspaper The Independent.
More...

01 February, 2008

Fourth Be$t Day Ever

Paul seems to be headed for his fourth $1 million+ fundraising day:



He raised more than any other Republican last quarter.

Three little "typos"


Yes, just a few trivial errors in today's New York Times Politics Blog entry about Ron Paul's new adviser.

#1: The first time he is mentioned (on the fourth line of the entry), he is given the wrong first name. The name is Peter, not Paul, Schiff. Oops.

#2: Grammatically, the third paragraph states that Peter Schiff is the author of "The Federal Mafia" and other books. He's not. His father, Irwin, is. Whoops.

#3: The author states that Ron Paul "wants to eliminate income and estate taxes and taxes on tips, imposing instead a consumption tax," when, in fact, Paul has repeatedly explained (on television and elsewhere) that he does not want to replace the income tax with a consumption tax nor any other new tax. Umm...

Just nitpicks really. I'm sure the rest is fine.

30 January, 2008

AP's Selective Memory


"Texas Rep. Ron Paul has made no move to withdraw even though he scores in single digits in voting." - Associated Press, 1/30/08

"Nevada - 1797 of 1797 Precincts Reporting...Paul , Ron...14%" - Associated Press, undated article

"Iowa results...Ron Paul 10 percent" - Associated Press, 1/4/08

28 January, 2008

Wait, what?


Are we really going to add to our $9,200,000,000,000 national debt to send checks to every couple earning less than $174,000, etc.!? It's looking that way, sadly. What's next, self-esteem classes for supermodels? More cold water here.

26 January, 2008

Standard Error

Newcomer Kevyn Peak tangles with The Weekly Standard (whose article tries to throw out principle and run with "virtue" alone):

"Sure, 'men must govern men'--FDR, Nixon, Clinton, Ted Stevens...the lot of them! The trillion-dollar question is: govern how much? Excessive governing, often sanctified by moral authorities of the day, has proven to be far more noxious than run-of-the-mill weak virtue. Better a hungover neoliberal than a lucid authoritarian."

Full article.

I couldn't have said it better myself! ;)

22 January, 2008

around every corner...

Terrorism, not Starbucks. On tonight's Hardball with Chris Matthews NY Congressman Peter King, "homeland security advisor" to Rudy Giuliani, arguing with McCain's national co-chair Tom Ridge, says that his boss "knows that Islamic terrorism is everywhere." Not worries, not suspects, but knows...everywhere! How's that for a realistic, cool-headed commander-in-chief?

Thompson is out

So here is a refresh of the list of Republican candidates, ranked by success so far:*

1. McCain
2. Romney
3. Huckabee
4. Paul
5. Thompson
6. Giuliani
7. Hunter
8. Tancredo
9. Brownback
10. Tommy Thompson
11. Gilmore
12. Keyes (?)

* as judged by VoxPolitico.com--based on votes and sticktoitiveness

former NM Governor endorses Paul


Gary Johnson, Governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003, has endorsed Ron Paul for President.

21 January, 2008

kicking in another million or two

Ron Paul is having his 3rd best fundraising day of the campaign...

04 January, 2008

'Tardette dances spastically on Ron Paul's grav...


...itas. 'Tardette, who "don’t care about [Ron Paul] one way or the other," have gotten their keyboards damp with bile and copy/paste residue over Ron Paul's showing in Iowa. Because, you know, Paul did so terribly. For one thing, he got barely more than twice the votes of recent national leader Rudy Giuliani. Worse, he only got 37% more votes than polls predicted, merely almost tying two "top tier" candidates. How can Paul and his supporters ever hope to affect American politics if they merely break fundraising records, reintroduce unfashionable ideas to millions, repeatedly put libertarianism in the mainstream spotlight, ignite a new movement on college campuses, dominate online political activism, outperform seven (of eleven) opponents thus far, and so on? Don't they have to rank higher in Iowa to move the country toward accursed individual freedom? It's enough to make a 'Tardette care!

The "frightening" idea of leaving people be

Video: reason editor stands up to O'Reilly.

GOP Results So Far (Inclusive Version)

Republican candidates ranked by success through the Iowa caucuses:*

1. Huckabee
2. Romney
3. Thompson
4. McCain
5. Paul
6. Giuliani
7. Hunter
8. Tancredo
9. Brownback
10. Tommy Thompson
11. Gilmore
12. Keyes

* as judged by VoxPolitico.com--based on votes then sticktoitiveness

02 January, 2008

See "What is at stake"

Try moving the slider back and forth at this site and see some consequences of choosing Ron Paul...or some of his opponents...