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June 28, 2010

Monday Financial Briefing

What good news have we on this mean old Monday morn, my bretheren?

Well, here's a bit of splendid economic news that probably won't make the CNBC news-crawl: the Cadiz, Kentucky Civitan Yard Sale was a big success.

Treasurer Ronnie Cook reported a successful yard sale, as the 41st Annual Cadiz Civitan Yard Sale, with purchases, and donations, totaled over $1,600.00.
That $1,600.00 is more honest profit than Wall Street made all year, and I'm not kidding a single inch.

Dodge City has okayed the permit for a flea market in the south end of town, which means that local tradesmen, vendors, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs may now conduct their business out of the oppressive shadow of government oversight. Futures in Hummel figurines, Elvis collectible plates, and Hamm's neon beer signs have soared on the news. Related commodities have risen as well: the cheap watery beer (CWB) index is higher, the pulled-pork sandwich (PPS) number jumped nearly a hundred basis points, and fried cheese curds (CURD) is trending to a three-month high.

So much for the good news. Now: the drumbeat of DOOM!


"Getting the crap pounded out of me in gym every day was a real character building exercise," Mr. Rein said. "It taught me that the fetal position is the best protection against fists, but that it leaves your kidneys open to kicks. The best overall strategy seems to be to run away, flailing your arms madly and screaming in a high, girlish register. The jocks find it so embarassing to chase after a shrieking coward that they lose interest pretty quickly."

Another example of experiencing a "road to Damascus" moment, only in this case you passed Damascus about twenty miles back and there's no turnaround handy, and the next bathroom is twenty miles further on, and you really have to take a crap. Pull quote:

"We tried, it was a dismal failure, and we're never doing that again," is what Dwight Jaffee says he would like to see on Fannie's and Freddie's tombstones.
Let us hope this isn't the epitaph for the entire American experiment, chum.

The meeting of the G-20 is the big news, but "big news" in this case means no news, really. The whole point of the conference appears to provide world leaders with an opportunity to frown and look concerned. What other purpose it serves I don't know. The peaceful hippies seem to be enjoying themselves, though. Toronto cops arrested about 500 yammering idiots, but failed to heed Mayor Daley's advice to lump them up a little bit before letting them go. (That would be Richard J. Daley, who viewed beating up hippies as vigorous and healthy outdoor exercise, not his pissant kid Richard M. Daley.)

But hey, on the bright side: everyone agreed to "cut debt"! Yay! It's just that easy, apparently! Monty, a financial-industry gadfly and obscure vulgarian from some trailer park in Jesusland, heckled the gathered august personages by shouting "You incompetent, moronic, cheating, lying, prevaricating, thieving, low-down, whiffle-headed, asshole spendthrift fucksticks!". He was forcibly removed by security. When reached later for comment from his jail-cell, Monty said that his remarks "[W]ere delivered in the heat of the moment, but do accurately reflect my beliefs." He also invited President Barack Obama to come to his cell and kiss his ass. President Obama could not be reached for comment.

Barack Obama produces yet another episode in a seemingly-endless series of how to speak a lot of words without actually saying a God Damn thing. This guy has elevated speaking in platitudes to an art form. If we could but capture his windy pronunciamentos and channel them into a turbine, we could power Washington D. C. indefinitely. In fact, we could pitch President Obama as the next green fuel. The only by-products of his hot air are boredom and a lingering sense of futility.

Keynesianism is going out of style. The next fad: double-breasted suits with wide lapels and skinny ties! Everything old is new again!

Unemployment assistance for about 1.3 million people is due to run out this week. The unemployment rate is sure to spike above 10%, unless Uncle Sugar can perform some additional trickery with how the numbers are counted. The Democrats are sure to blame the GOP for filibustering the bill to extend benefits, but do remember that the GOP immediately pushed to have funds drawn from unused stimulus funds instead, which Democrats refused to do. Why are conservatives opposed to continuing unemployment benefits? Pull quote:

Other economists argue that extended benefits have played a part in keeping people out of the labor force. "There's a very large body of research that says that more generous benefits and benefits that last longer…encourage people to stay out of work longer," said Bruce Meyer, an economist and public policy professor at the University of Chicago.
If you pay people not to work, then not working becomes their job.

If you're going to be traveling in Europe over the summer, you might want to sew a few gold-pieces into the lining of your underwear. You know, just in case.

So just how bad is the news at the State level, anyhow? Well, it looks like 46 out of the 50 states might have to be taken out behind the shed and put out of their misery. And the other 4 are looking a tad mangy. (With bonus pic of Der Governator looking like he tried to sneak out a quiet fart and shit his pants instead.) California, as ever, leads the Procession of the Doomed. Mish has some thoughts on this as well.

Will earnings surprise the bears? Speaking as a member of ursus economus, I suspect not: we already know that the equities markets are thoroughly broken and cannot be trusted any more. Any number they throw out has about as much relation to reality as a Dali painting. Equities are a sideshow anyway -- the runaway freight train is, and has always been, on the debt side of the ledger. It's hard to get excitied about $100 million in earnings when you're a few trillion (more or less) in debt, you know? And when those zero-percent interest rates go up -- and they'll have to -- it's going to be the very bitch to roll that debt over. Just ask Japan how fun that's going to be.

The S&P 500 is a more accurate equities index than the DJIA, so a report that observers are seeing some warning signs of a pending crash are worrying. There doesn't seem to be much support for the current levels, and it would only take one bad-news day to make it do a swan-dive right into the crapper. (Contrast this with the previous story to see how bipolar most of the financial press is these days. Earnings are up! We're saved! Yay! The markets are down! We're doomed! Boo!)

Nothing like some horrifying chart-fu to show you just how boned you are.

It looks like the public-sector workers in the US and the UK have a lot in common. Consider the sad tale of UK public servant Doreen:

In the past year and a half she claims she has: fallen victim to frostbite; been hit by a car; and accidentally set herself on fire.
It's enough to draw tears from a stone.

Remember what I was saying a while back about BP and counterparty risk? Yeah.

Today's hokey-pokey through the wasteland of the doomed has been brought to you by Mr. B. B. King.

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posted by Monty at 07:09 AM

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