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April 27, 2011
A creamy DOOM! frosting on a layer-cake of incompetence, lies, and sheer dumbassery
All eyes will be on Teh Bernank today as he tries to convince us not to believe our own lying eyes. I expect a lot of carefully phrased, oracular Fed-speak that doesn't amount to much. Never mind the stock market; keep an eye on what gold and silver do during and after the press conference. Silver plummeted almost 11% after spiking a day earlier, but if it starts trending back up that might mean that Bernanke's palliative speech may not be having the soothing effect he's intending it to have. (Gold is now at $1510/oz, and has not been as volatile as silver; a big move there will be yet more evidence that the markets are issuing a "no confidence" vote in Teh Bernank.) This press conference might be Bernanke's last, best chance to keep his job.
No, the Yuan will not replace the USD as the world's reserve currency. Neither will the Euro, or any other fiat currency in use. It may be that no single currency will dominate, and I think that's a positive thing. Competition is good, in currency as elsewhere. Being the de facto reserve currency has made us lazy, and spendthrift, and rather arrogant in economic terms. Moving to a sound money regime would force a bit of fiscal humility on us, which I think would be a good thing.
PIMCO (not to be confused with my little home business, "Pimpco") says out loud what everyone is already thinking about Greece: default. With their short-term debt already fetching a 20% premium, the Greeks are facing a market that has already pretty much priced a default into the equation -- an actual default is almost a formality at this point. The ECB hates and fears the notion of a Greek default, though -- not out of any love for the Greeks, but out of fear for what it will portend for the rest of the Eurozone. (Why would Ireland and even Portugal not default also? And if they go, Spain may go; if Spain goes, Italy may teeter.)
Meredith Whitney confirms her belief that there is a municipal-bond crisis on the horizon. I think Whitney is right -- the federal stimulus is drying up (as with the end of the "Build America Bond" program), and states and cities have exhausted their trick-bags in keeping the books balanced in 2009 and 2010. The aggregate debt to be rolled runs into the hundreds of billions in the short term, and it's not clear to me how the optimists think the most-indebted municipalities will swing the rollover. I think they overestimate the taxing power of the cities, and the tolerance of the increasingly-bitter taxpayers who live there, but we shall see. I'm looking at cities in the Rust Belt (Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit) and on the West Coast (L.A., San Fran, San Diego) as prime candidates.
Atlas Shrugged tanking at the box office? I saw the movie and liked it, but I wouldn't be surprised if it dies at the theatrical-release level. It's a talky, "message oriented" movie that doesn't have much action in it, no major stars, and no special-effects to speak of. I always thought the piece would have played better as an HBO miniseries or straight-to-DVD release. In fact, I think the movie will do just fine in the streaming/home market. It'll earn out, and then some. Plenty of movies did crap box office and went on to become beloved classics.
[UPDATE 1]: From slublog comes news that "Obamaflation" has arrived. (Much of the rise in price of food has more to do with fuel costs for transport than spikes in the underlying commodity, a point the article itself makes.)
[UPDATE 2]: The latest right-wing Jesusland flyover state to curtail public-sector union bargaining is...Massachusetts? (Via HotAir.) What dread beast hath Wisconsin's Scott Walker summoned?
[UPDATE 3]: We're not getting fatter. We're just getting taller.
[UPDATE 4]: The NLRB must really be feeling their oats: now they intend to sue Arizona and South Dakota over the "card check" issue. Union thuggery, now funded by taxpayer dollars and peformed under Federal aegis! (Barone's "gangster government" sobriquet was more accurate than even he realized!)
[UPDATE 5]: Eurozone sovereign debt reaches 85.1% of GDP. Trichet can natter on all he wants about how default is an impossibility. Reality will have its way.
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