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Overnight Open Thread | Main | Top Headline Comments 6-25-10
June 25, 2010

Friday Financial Briefing

Well, "rout" is as good a word as any to describe what happened to equities yesterday. The Dow closed down 145 points at 10,152.80 and the S&P 500 was off 18 points at 1,073.69. DAGGER's bold gambit of earlier in the week has failed. He shakes his fist and blames his failed scheme on Scooby and those meddling kids.

Democrats: Give us $30 billion. GOP: Um....no. Democrats: Come on! GOP: Nah. Democrats: How come? GOP: One, I don't have it; and two, you're already into me for more than a trillion already. Democrats: So what's another measly $30 billion? Please? GOP: Man, just fuck off. Seriously. Democrats: WHY DO YOU HATE THE POOR! GOP: I don't hate the poor. I just hate you.

Never rule out simple stupidity, guys. It's usually all the answer you need.


Timmah, the Fredo Corleone of American government, basically tells Europe that they're on their own. (I kept hearing some British-accented voice muttering "What a pillock!" Maybe it was my imagination.)

Just more evidence that our government views the citizenry as basically a bunch of overgrown five-year-olds who somehow got hold of Dad's wallet.

We are all The Waltons now, John Boy. Though if I'm doomed to return to the hick backcountry lifestyle of my forebears, I'd rather do it Dukes of Hazzard style.

The econ gangs of New York. I prefer the Ace of Spades "Road Warrior Economic Model", myself. Gold is gold, but ruling the Wasteland as The Humongous? Priceless.

The new new estimate of the cost to bail out the Eurozone? How about 2 Trillion Euros? Scheisse! The German move towards the exits might change from a sidelong shuffle to a flat-out dash. (This article makes a good point about the worthless ratings assigned to a lot of the debt as well. A lot of the debt is rated Triple-A, but the factors used to achieve this rating were probably the purest fantasy to begin with. In short, it's sort of the same deal as with the subprime-mortgage meltdown, only with sovereign bonds rather than mortgages, and it's likely to have the same result.)

Hungary has another busted bond auction in spite of the power of their mighty forint. They've got a fee-vah and the only prescription is more cowbell austerity!

Welcome to Mutual of Obama's Wild Financial Kingdom! Today, we will be visiting the ferocious and mysterious Hedge Fund in its natural habitat! We're going to approach very carefully, lest the beast hear us and attack!

A BP bankruptcy might satisfy proponents of Divine Justice, but it would be an economic catastrophe. If it comes down to it, I expect BP to simply put their US operations through Chapter 11 and "wall off" the rest of their world operations from the bankrupt entity. This means the $20 Billion escrow-fund goes bye-bye, though, and is guaranteed to piss off nearly everyone. If BP goes whole-hog and files corporate bankruptcy, they'd do so in London and under British rules, and I doubt very much if the British would give the same weight to American liability-claims as an American judge would. Yet another Too Big To Fail (TBTF) success story!

Doomed! DOOMED! Dooooooooooooomed! (With bonus terrifying chart-fu!) Uplifting pull quote (emphasis mine):

Recent fiscal tightening will hasten the speed of our descent into this quagmire. The market reaction to the acknowledgement of that fact is likely to be unprecedented in its savagery. The response to the coming deflationary maelstrom will be additional money printing that will make the recent QE seem insignificant. The super-inflationary end result will become obvious to all.
The link does contain some contrarian brightness, however.

It's official: Greek sovereign bonds are now worth less than certain brands of two-ply ass-wipe. And European banks have giant piles of this worthless paper sitting on their books.

I've got a birthday coming up, so if you're looking for a simple little gift to brighten my day, here's something I've had on my wish-list for quite some time.

Everytime I get an admonition from some "finance professional" on how amateurs just cannot grasp the complexities of modern finance and therefore should not comment on it, I think of situations like this. Many financial professionals are smart in the way that idiot savants are smart: they know a whole lot about very little, and very little about a whole lot. They are vastly overpaid and have a wholly-unearned arrogance about their talents that really sticks in my craw. Good financial professionals are humble because they know that they are quite frequently dead wrong. When your 10-year performance numbers barely beat a monkey throwing darts at a board, you'd think that humility would be the order of the day. Alas: not so.

This was in the sidebar yesterday, but it's too delicious not to put in a full post: Der Governator threatens state workers with a pay-cut to minimum wage. It'll never happen, of course, because a) Ahnuld is a great big pussy, b) every AFSCME and SEIU loyalist would make sure that the state government apparatus was brought to a standstill, and c) Ahnuld is a great big pussy. Still...the very idea gives me a very Chris Matthews-like tingle up the leg.

General Nathan Bedford Forrest was famous for his dictum that his men had to "keep up the skeer" to keep the enemy off-balance. DAGGER has internalized this military strategy and has the US economy fleeing in disarray.

It's sort of a "good news, bad news" thing. Illinois debt is rated higher than Iraq, but lower than Portugal. Whether that makes you happy or sad depends on a) how you feel about the Iraqis and Portuguese, and b) whether you live in Illinois or not. Probably more b) than a), though. (And take heart, Californians! You snuck in ahead of Portugal!)

Speaking of poor perpetually-boned California, we now have a reasonable estimate as to just how boned they are, at least in the short-term. How's $19 billion in the red sound? That puts the debt a little beyond "goose the tax-rate and cut services a tad" territory. This is more a "sell everything, including one of your kidneys" territory. The current plan, endorsed by both Republicans and Democrats, is to ignore the problem and then blame each other when the disaster finally arrives. Which should be in about a week as the July 1 budget deadline looms. Pull quote:

But as bleak as it appears in Sacramento at the moment, some analysts say there are reasons for optimism. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is supporting a legislative proposal to reform the pensions of state workers and head off a future fiscal calamity. Pension reform was among the priorities he targeted in January, the beginning of his final year in office.
Aw. They have plans. And proposals. Problem solved, then! Whew! And here I was getting all worried for nothing....

Any man (gay, straight, or in-between) who falls for this deserves every ohm and erg of the humiliation he is guaranteed to receive.

Today's briefing brought to you by the lissome Daisy Duke, who raised more than my spirits when I was a lad.

digg this
posted by Monty at 07:06 AM

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