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July 05, 2010

Monday Financial Briefing

I hope everyone had a nice, restful Independence Day weekend. American markets are closed on July 5 for Independence Day (observed).

The good economic news? In America, even a no-talent hack can be given millions of dollars every couple of years to make a lousy movie.1 That bespeaks a nation that has so much money it can afford to burn money to keep its other money warm.

Via Insty, a tasty little morsel of schadenfreude to whet your appetite for November's elections. It's seasoned with the salty tears of Democrats!

Well, Miss, I've looked over your résumé and I have to tell you that we can't hire you because your résumé makes me suspect that you are retarded. The issues are as follows. 1. You spelled your own name wrong. 2. You used 14-point Comic Sans for the font, you double-spaced everything, and approximately 30% of the text is exclamation points. 3. You dotted all the i's with little smiley-faces. In pen. 4. You drew little daisies around the margins of the paper. 5. You left your Facebook account as a contact-point, and then neglected to remove the pictures of you taking a dump over the balcony of your sorority house. 6. You mention that you are "into" the Civil War, and follow up with an observation that things would have been very different if the Canadians had won. 7. I note that your college degree is in New Feminist-Marxist Interpretive Models of Post-Modern Transgender Toilet Protocols while this job involves driving a bucket loader.

Preston Alexander is a sad panda. He's lost his faith in the American political system. I'm sure that Captain Fantastic can re-ignite Preston's passion for the warm embrace of the State! Or can he?

"I'm shocked and disgusted with Washington," said Alexander, a 55-year-old resident of Fall River, Massachusetts. "If I were a Senator I'd never leave town without taking care of the people I supposedly represent. And on Independence Day, for heaven's sake! I blame Obama, too. He had the power to keep the legislators there until they passed an extension. But he did nothing."
I get the sense that Mr. Alexander imagined a scene like this: And Lo! Obama did swing his mighty God-hammer mjolnir and burst the doors of Congress asunder! Then did he drag the perfidous Senators and Representatives out by their hair of their heads and smite them with great smiting!

The worst thing about trying to profit from risk? It's risky. Well, thank Christ I have the "Intelligent Investor" to point that out, because otherwise I'd have gone around all day not knowing.

Dr. Doom advises his minions, henchmen, lackeys, lickspittles, and toadies to put their money in American or German banks, as he is only planning to destroy Spanish and French banks with his giant space-laser.

Many firms, in true Ace-of-Spades fashion, are turning to pirate-hoards as a way of protecting against future chaos. Shades of Monty Python's "The Crimson Permanent Assurance"!

And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. Pull quote:

“I’m saying: ‘Winter is coming. Buy a coat,’ ” he said. “Other people are advising people to stay naked. If I’m wrong, you’re not hurt. If they’re wrong, you’re dead. It’s pretty benign advice to opt for safety for a while.”
Damn. And you guys thought I was a downer.

A little history lesson for my financially-minded Morons: everybody knows a bit about the Great Depression of the 1930's, but far fewer know of The Panic of 1873, which was almost as severe. (UPDATE: Herr Morgenholz reminds me that there might have been a Panic of 1907 as well, had it not been for J. P. Morgan.)

You know things are bad when the commies, the fascists, and the anarchists all agree that you are boned.

"You will see that banks in Europe are solid and healthy," said French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde in an interview Sunday. When asked if the stress tests included accounting for sovereign debt, Ms. Lagarde was suddenly possessed by the demon-spirit Pazuzu. "You will all perish in flames!," Ms. Lagarde-Pazuzu shrieked, then projectile-vomited over the press-pool. This reporter emailed His Dark Majesty Satan, Pazuzu's superior, about the incident, but Mr. Satan had not responded by press time.

Ms. Lagarde-Pazuzu's counterpart in the French audit office, Didier Migaud, swore to avoid using demon-possession as an excuse to avoid explaining why French public finances are in such bad shape. Pull quote:

At present, however, the deterioration is such that it can impair France's financial credibility and jeopardize the country's sovereignty and independence, he said. "When a country loses control of its indebtedness, you become increasingly dependent not only on the financial markets, but the financial institutions and individuals who lend the money."

Europe is boned: The Video! Okay story, but the pacing was kind of slow and there weren't any boobies. Three stars out of five.

In former times a gentleman of breeding and character might expect to be treated with a modicum of respect. No longer, apparently. The Krugman has called me out! Marquess of Queensberry rules, sir! I realize that common gutter-brawlers such as yourself are given to all manner of low-born antics, but this is a gentleman's dispute, and we shall conduct it as gentlemen! Now raise your fists and defend yourself, sir! Have at you!

The only reason you elites look down on boiled rat at the senior center is because you've never eaten boiled rat at the senior center. It's tasty and nutritious! Rat-hunting also provides a valuable exercise opportunity for some of our more sedentary retirees, and is a valuable source of protein as well. Plus the city will pay us a quarter for every rat-pelt we turn in, so it's quite a little money-maker in the bargain!

When cities go broke, the first thing to go is shame: Mayors panhandling on corners, city selectmen mucking out comfort-stations along the Interstate, city attorneys forced to bite the heads off live chickens at the carnival's geek-show. It's a tragedy, that's what it is.

How will long-term unemployment reshape the US? A really long article in The Atlantic takes a while to get around to a point I can give you in one word: DOOM! You remember that assless-chaps guy in The Road Warrior? He used to manage a Circuit City in Van Nuys. The Humongous? Loan originator at Countrywide Financial.

Today's briefing brought to you by David Mamet2, who reminds you: Coffee's for closers only.

---------------------------------------------
1No, I haven't seen it and I never will.
2Yes, the actor is Alec Baldwin. But David Mamet wrote the words, so he owns them.

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posted by Monty at 07:50 AM

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