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November 17, 2010

Financial Briefing: Back from the sickbed

Apologies for the lack of posting recently. I was colonized by a virus of the family Orthomyxoviridae, which had me lying on my humble pallet alternately sweating with fever and then shaking like a scared dog. Apparently I was in the "give this chump a placebo" control group when I received my influenza vaccine a couple of weeks back. At any rate, my immune system finally got off its lazy, goldbricking ass and drove off the invaders, so once again...DOOM!

Acting Man points out that even the very best jugglers cannot keep the balls in the air forever. Sooner or later, they're going to fall.

I don't know that I'd say that "businesses are doing great" (a lot of those "profits" they're making are coming from reduced headcount and tightened internal processes, not increased sales), but it is true that the government is still a bloated and inefficient mess.

Ireland might get another bowl of porridge from the IMF. Pride doesn't fill an empty belly, as my mom always said. EU exposure to Irish debt? A nice round $650 billion. I'm still amazed that people think that this can end in any way other than a default. Oh, the EU or the IMF can "bail out" Ireland, but what they're really doing is bailing out German and French banks. As with the Greeks, there may be a level of austerity the citizens will simply refuse to tolerate simply to make sure that foreign bondholders don't have to take a haircut.

If I had to pick the very choicest morsel from this banquet of bitter rage, it would have to be the phrase "wanker-banker buddies".

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.

Hamtramck, MI seeks bankruptcy. You're going to see more of this in the coming year, count on it.

Headlines like this are why British newspapers are better than American ones: "Austria tells Greece to get stuffed". Who would have thought that a nation full of layabouts, tax cheats, and public-sector leeches would lie about a thing like their finances?

Saddle up, boys! We're going to find the Bernanke gang and put things a-right.

Dow 14,000 in 2012, baby! Sometimes it's hard to tell cockeyed optimism from pure insane dementia. Though I guess if Helicopter Ben gets the inflation he's been working so hard for, it's not out of the question. (And it is just possible, you know, that sad old bears like me are wrong. Sometimes it's good to hear from the optimists just to remind myself that there's an alternative point of view. An insane, nonsensical, reality-denying, alternate point-of-view.)

Three reasons the G-20 talks hit a dead end. Actually, you don't need three reasons. You only need one: nobody wants to take the hit. It's a game of musical chairs, and everybody is jostling and shoving to make sure that they're close to an empty chair when the music stops.

If the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan was at least a serious attempt at solving the various intractable problems involved with shrinking America's colossal indebtedness (and reducing our liabilities), what would you call the Schakowski plan? I think I would call it the "Squeeze 'Em Until They Pop" plan, because it's composed mostly of taxes on businesses and "the rich". It's basically another chorus sung straight out of the Democrat hymnal.

LEAVE BEN ALONE!!!ONE Editorial Comment: I don't believe this "it's not Ben's fault" line a single bit. Bernanke has wide latitude as to what he can and cannot do, and he is choosing to do some fantastically stupid stuff. No, Bernanke is not at fault for all of it; but he bears a significant portion of the blame. And QE2 sits on his shoulders alone. If it works, he'll be the hero of the hour; if it fails (as seems likely), his legacy as a dimwitted chump will be sealed. His rep in the global financial world is probably already damaged beyond repair. Ben Bernanke is not a helpless victim who only acted under orders and mandates, remember that. He chose the path he has taken. He could have chosen a different one. Judge him on the basis of choices he has made -- in that light alone, he has failed.

Deny it though they may, the Federal Reserve is a politcal entity; there fore any action they take is political as well as economic. It's inherent to their mission. To complain that the Fed is getting pulled into "partisan politics" is silly; the myth that the Fed is above such things is (and has always been) nonsense.

Father: "Son you'd better get that barn door closed!"
Son: "But paw! The horse done run off already!"
Father: "Don't back-talk me, son. If your mother finds out that her horse is gone and that I left the door open, a certain amount of unpleasantness will ensue. Maybe the kind of unpleasantness that calls for stitches and leaves a scar. But if the door is closed, it will simply be a mystery that cannot be explained, like those crabs I caught from the carny gal who ran the Tilt-A-Whirl at the county fair last year."
Son: "What are crabs, paw?"
Father: "Never you mind, son. Just get that door closed."

"He had to be told by the French and the Germans that his socialism was too far left for them to deal with. When the French are telling you that you are too socialist, you have got some serious fucking issues, dude. I'm just saying. V. I. Lenin was not "too socialist" for the French.

China's economic miracle is over? Thomas Friedman will be crushed. (My own take? China has built up enough forward momentum to racket along at a good speed for awhile yet -- maybe even for another decade. But the juice is used up, and the train will inevitably begin to slow down. It's all over now but the physics of the situation.)

Alas, poor California; I knew her, Horatio, a state of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.


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posted by Monty at 10:54 AM

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