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November 10, 2010

Financial Briefing: Overdrawn

China to the US: I downgrade in your general direction! (I do find it a bit hilarious that a Communist, authoritarian, mercantilist, fiat-money regime like China presumes to lecture anyone on fiscal sanity, but there you have it.)

There are many reasons why China is not the juggernaut people think it is, but it is wrong to blame them for our current financial woes. The simple truth is that we got our own stupid asses into this crack, and we're going to have to get our own stupid asses back out. Pull quote:

All of which really ought to be of interest only to full-on Sinologists, because, the Obama administration’s populist fist-shaking notwithstanding, China’s economic policy is not what ails America — any more than Japan’s economic policy was what ailed America during the Carter years, that awful interlude during which Honda and Toyota viciously conspired to dump affordable, reliable, fuel-efficient automobiles on unsuspecting Americans who really wanted to buy an AMC Gremlin but were duped into an upgrade by those inscrutable Orientals and their long-game industrial policies.
Williamson and I disagree on the impact labor costs have (he thinks they don't matter, while I do) and he tends to serve up the "American industry is the most productive in the world" line rather uncritically, but on the whole, he's correct.

You know how in big action movies, there's always some scene of the hero outrunning a big fireball in slow-motion? Who knew that stuff was based on reality? I wouldn't have thought a person could outrun an explosion. It seems...counterintuitive.

The peasants are revolting! Let them eat arugula.

Helicopter Ben either doesn't get it, or chooses to ignore it. Pull quote:

As humans, our demand for what we lack is unceasing, by definition. That's why we work. If this is doubted, one need only camp out an Apple store the next time our leading technology innovator releases its next must-have product.

Chart-fu of the day: more evidence that if you torture numbers enough, you can make them confess to anything.

"You go to hell, you damned goldbugs! You go to hell and you die!" Meanwhile, gold now sits at $1420.50/oz.

Would a real gold standard work? Probably, though it would give rise to other problems. Still, I think we'd be far better off than we are now. The article's author goes a little heavy on the rich-bashing and redistributionism for my taste, but the core of the argument -- that a gold standard can indeed support the world economy -- is a good one. Pull quote:

With World Bank president Robert Zoellick openly advocating a return to some kind of "gold standard," we got the expected flurry of knee-jerk opposition from the banker community. Among these tired, old refrains was the common myth that there is "not enough" gold (and/or silver) to back-stop an effective monetary system -- in our modern global economy.

In fact, the only thing for which we lack enough gold/silver is as fuel for the endless Ponzi-schemes created by bankers, and which are only possible in a world where reckless money-printing generates a permanent inflation-spiral. If that is the world one wants to live in, then by all means, reject the gold standard -- and have fun trying to outmaneuver the bankers, as they dilute your "money" while robbing you blind.

Speaking of gold: it's not even near its record high. If you adjust for inflation (as you always should with the USD), gold was fetching about $2,300/oz back in the halcyon days of 1979.

20-50% of NYC foreclosures may be invalid due to incorrect or fraudulent paperwork. I'm sure the numbers are similar in other hard-hit areas, maybe even higher in states like California and Nevada. This no doubt has the banks just a wee mite alarmed.

Rick Santelli: More people are paying attention to the Fed, and they're pretty unhappy with what they're seeing.

To Teh Krugman, it's never enough. (With bonus scary chart-fu!)

AoSHQ Morons always live by this creed: "Use every part of the hobo; waste nothing." Frugality and good stewardship of Gaia come naturally to the urban hunters and huntresses of Ace of Spades. Also, I've directed my manservant Pritchett to donate my old spats to the Clapham Retirement Manor for Aged Dandies and Boulavardiers.

The feds to Chris Christie: "You owe us $270 million for that tunnel project you axed!" Governor Christie sighed, stood up, and started to remove his suit jacket. The feds, noticing that the suit jacket was coming off, quickly bolted from the room. (Seriously, though: all Christie has to do is tell Uncle Sugar to get in line behind all the other New Jersey creditors dunning him for their money -- or just charge Uncle Sugar back for all the unfunded Federal mandates that have been pushed on the states over the years. Governor Chrisie is by all appearances not someone the feds want to get into a pissing match with.)

Might California be a bit less boned than first surmised? Well...no. They're still thoroughly boned. Half-measures aren't going to do diddly; even full measures may be too late to save the situation. Heroic measures may only moderate the damage. Californians seem to be so punch-drunk at this point that inertia is their default position. Their plans for deliverance now rest on the "and then a miracle happens!" theory.


Midnight Rider
Well, I've got to run to keep from hiding
And I'm bound to keep on riding
And I've got one more silver dollar
But I'm not gonna let them catch me, no
Not gonna let 'em catch the midnight rider
And I don't own the clothes I'm wearing
And the road goes on forever
And I've got one more silver dollar
But I'm not gonna let them catch me, no
Not gonna let 'em catch the midnight rider
And I've gone by the point of caring
Some old bed I'll soon be sharing
And I've got one more silver dollar
But I'm not gonna let 'em catch me, no
Not gonna let them catch the midnight rider

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posted by Monty at 07:19 AM

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