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October 05, 2011

DOOM: This is a mean old world, try and live it by yourself

DOOOOM

Moody’s to Italy: BAM!

Remember this about the Greek bailout by the ECB: it was always about European banks, not the Greek people.

Teh Bernank emerges from his cave, blinks in the sunlight, states the obvious, and then goes back into his hole.

Fanniegate just got worse.

Sin taxes on college sports?

You know, for all the nattering about a “bipartisan plan” in this op-ed, I don’t see anything that amounts to an actual plan. It’s more like a firm pledge to have a plan. Later on. Maybe.

When you subsidize something, you get more of it. Econ 101.

Monty dislikes getting fat, but likes bacon cheeseburgers. Monty’s failure arises in not seeing the relationship between these two things.

When your argument has devolved to “you have nowhere else to go”, you’ve pretty much given up on rational argument altogether.

Fear China’s fall, not its rise. China is merely the (biggest) symptom of a terribly unbalanced global economy; to the extent that a Chinese fall hurts the global economy, it is because we have put too many of our eggs in the Chinese basket. The old advice is as relevant as ever: diversify, diversify, diversify.

More on the illusion of China’s economic “miracle”.

Just a reminder: that blended 8% rate-of-return calculation that so many retirement advisers use to help you plan your savings is probably wrong. If you’re smart, you’ll plan on a rate-of-return around 4-5%. You might get more if you can tolerate more risk, but that’s the key: the days of an 8% low-risk return profile are long gone. (This exact problem is why so many pension plans, public and private, are in very dire trouble. They’re assuming rates of return that they are very unlikely to get in future years.)

Euro science.

Outsiders to the world of money who start to take an interest in it soon notice that most of the things that alarm and outrage the wider public are taken by insiders to be perfectly routine and unremarkable. Consider the sums that bankers get paid, or the disruptive impact of hot money zipping around the world at the click of a mouse, tearing up industries and whole economies at will. To moneymen, those are just givens of the way the world works, and have to be accepted, in the absence of a credible plan to go off to found a new system on another planet.

Once in a great while, though, something happens that reverses the loop, and has the moneymen more scared than the rest of us. That happened in late 2007, when the credit crunch began, and it’s happening again now.

Is the loss of Steve Jobs' "reality distortion field" hurting Apple? Jobs could wrap the same old tech in a new white case and convince the fanboys they were getting a new product, and even make them pay more for it, but new CEO Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs.

Rather astonishingly, the NYT comes out against Schumer's China bill. If you want to punish China for their misdeeds, there is a simple solution: don't buy their stuff. They'll get the message.

Collateral damage in the muni market.

The Obama administration would like to keep upper income taxpayers paying higher rates on their income but limit the size of their deductions and exclusions. In the case of muni bond interest, the change would in effect install a 7 percent tax on municipal bond interest for households in the 35 percent tax bracket. If the Bush tax cuts were to expire and the top tax rate rise to the pre-Bush level of 39.6 percent, the tax on muni interest for those in the top bracket would increase to 11.6 percent.

When "stimulus" no longer stimulates. Keynesianism always was a fraud, but the failures used to be hidden behind explosive growth rates in the western nations' GDPs. But as the nations have greyed, they grow more slowly and become less dynamic. Red tape blocks progress like plaque clogs an elderly person's arteries.

Cities have historically been hives of initiative and new enterprise, but in the regulation dense thicket of modern American urban life, few jobs can grow. The nation’s major cities — where so many of our poorest communities with the highest rates of long term unemployment are found — were often shedding rather than creating jobs even before the recession. The Empire State Building, then the largest in the world and still an icon of design and serviceability around the world, was built in 13 months at the start of the Depression. It has taken the coop in which I live longer than that simply to find out from the city whether we can use a certain method to replace broken gutters along the side of my building. (We are still trying to find out. So is the company that wants to do the work.)

UPDATE 1: Layoff plans soar by 126% in September. Via Insty, who needles, "How's that hopey-changey stuff workin' out for ya?" Answer: Not too good.

UPDATE 2: The end of "free stuff"? Ain't no such thing as "free". Somebody always pays, in one way or another. Always.



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posted by Monty at 09:12 AM

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