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October 28, 2010

Financial Briefing: A fistful of T-Bills

The recipe for the decline and fall of the American republic: most people who receive government benefits will not willingly give them up, or even allow them to be reduced. They've been told that these benefits are a right so often by the so-called "progressives" that they've come to believe it, and any attempt to reduce their benefits amounts, in their eyes, to a civil-rights violation. This is what the welfare state leads to -- an entire class of dependents who insist upon receiving the sweat of your brow not as charity or payment for services rendered, but as a birthright not to be denied them. Class warfare (between public-sector workers and taxpayers) and generational warfare (between the recipients of Medicare and Social Security and those who must fund it) is the only possible outcome if things do not change soon. And I don't mean that in rhetorical or symbolic terms; I mean in actual, bloody, street-fighting terms. It's the culture of grievance, of victimhood, of moral equivalence playing out in real time. As I wrote in an essay a while back, look at what's happening in England and France right now. That is our future -- only more violent -- if we don't change our ways.

And while I'm on the topic of entitlement-reform....

Veronique de Rugy on the farcical "Deficit Panel": if you're not going to reform Medicare or Social Security, you might as well do nothing, because nothing else really matters. Pull quote:

I wish more pundits, lawmakers, and advisers would remember the following: Reality isn’t negotiable. In this case, it means that no matter how appealing raising tax revenue to address the current crisis sounds, it won’t work.
Let's just say it again for the benefit of our benighted comrades on the left side of the aisle -- reality isn't negotiable. You'd think the so-called "reality-based community" would know that.

Which leads me to....

American politicians take note: promising a program of austerity is one thing; getting your people to agree to it is something else entirely. Exhibit A: Greece. Exhibit B: Portugal. Exhibit C: England. It's kind of hard to get citizens to buy into brutal reductions in their standard of living just to make sure that foreign bondholders don't have to take a haircut.

Doomed! Dooooomed! DOOOOOOOOMED!

US stocks since 1871.

The Fed gives the entire world a kick in the nuts. USA! USA! USA!

The newest investing craze: celebrities. I wonder how much Fatty Arbuckle's left femur would fetch at auction? I only ask out of idle curiosity, you understand.

Jim Cramer modestly explains why he's THE SMARTEST GUY IN THE FUCKING ROOM, AND YOU BETTER GET WITH THE CRAMER PROGRAM! For some reason, while reading Cramer's article all I could think of was that old commercial for Massengill's Medicated Douche. What's the connection, you ask? Irritated twats. (But then again: he is a Finance Professional, and I am only a hick blogger.)

Maybe I should cash in some moribund equities investments and buy cotton?

Basically, Bill Gross's argument can be summarized thusly: "Yes, it sucks and is doomed to fail, but we should do it anyway because it's better than doing nothing. Somehow." Sometimes doing nothing is exactly the correct course of action -- your first action in any crisis should be to not make the situation worse. In other words: don't just do something, stand there!

Chuck tries to create a small business; Uncle Sam gives him the stiff-arm. Then kicks him in the slats when the ref isn't looking.

Durable goods orders are up, which is good news, but overall business spending is still weak, which isn't.

Dennis Byrne: Illinois is finishing strongly in the race to beat California as the most fiscally-boned state in the nation. Alas, Illinois -- like California -- has a population which is heavily tilted towards the "Person of Stupid" demographic. And Rhode Island, the plucky little bantamweight, is still in the running to take the bronze medal.

California, sensing Illinois and Rhode Island creeping up behind, puts on a burst of speed to retain the crown of King of the Boned.

As Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson explained in a Huffington Post column: “California has balanced its budget in part based on the assumption that the state will get $5.4 billion in federal funds. The problem is that the federal government has indicated that it will give something closer to $1.3 billion.”
You know, if I simply assume that Uncle Sugar will mail me a check for $1 million at some point (and for no reason at all other than I'm a pretty cool guy), then I can call myself a millionaire. I mean, the money is practically already in my hand, right? What could go wrong?


Astaire was perhaps more graceful, but Gene Kelly was second to none in being cool.

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posted by Monty at 07:16 AM

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