Archive for March, 2008

Pandering vs. Standing Up For What You Believe In

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Instead of becoming a beacon of bipartisanship, however, Nafta is the latest whipping boy for the anti-globalization crowd. During their last debate, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama said they would withdraw from the treaty unless Canada and Mexico agreed to further concessions. Canadian authorities were quick to respond that if negotiations were reopened, they would ask for some concessions of their own. True to form, Mr. McCain offered his unconditional support for the landmark agreement.

With the two political parties apparently divided on trade policy, you might expect those free-trade-loving economists to be predominantly Republicans. But that’s not the case. One reason is that economists are not single-issue voters. Like everyone else, they are divided over contentious issues like health policy, the Bush tax cuts and the war in Iraq.

BUT another reason is that many economists don’t really believe the populist rhetoric coming from the Clinton and Obama campaigns. They expect that once in office, either candidate would pursue a policy more like that of Mr. Clinton, who relied heavily on the advice of economic moderates like Mr. Summers and Robert E. Rubin, another former Treasury secretary. When reports surfaced recently of an Obama economic adviser telling the Canadian government to ignore his candidate’s anti-Nafta rhetoric, some people were appalled, but many Democratic economists I know were secretly relieved.

Link

I’m not implying Dems have the market cornered on vote pandering – Romney and Huck both pandered for the populist vote when they were running.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in NAFTA, Politics, Trade | 2 Comments »

 

QOTD

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

“The Fed has now crossed the line in a very clear way on ‘moral hazard,’ because they have opened the door to the view that they are required to save almost any institution through non-recourse loans — except the government doesn’t have the money and it destroys the U.S.’s reputation as the broadest, deepest, most transparent and properly regulated capital market in the world.”

Link

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Economy, FED | Comment now »

 

Opening Quicken On A Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Economy, Life | Comment now »

 

CFNation

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

If they haven’t received it yet, CFNation (as in “clusterf*** nation”) should be honored as the most depressing economic blog in existence. :) I’d recommend popping a good dose of Valium prior to entering. If you’re a pessimistic doomsayer – CFNation is for you. If you’re not, IMHO it’s still very valuable in that it offers the opportunity to look at “worst case scenarios”. Plus, the writing is really great making it a fun blog to read. Highly recommended.

From “BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE”

The shell game may run a few more weeks but personally I believe the timbers are burning. The losses are no longer “contained” or concealable. A consensus has now formed that we’re in for a “recession.” The idea is that, yes, this seems to be the low arc of the business cycle. Fewer Hamptons villas will be redecorated in the interim. We’ll gird our loins and get through the bad weather and when the sun shines again, we’ll be ready with new algorithms for new sport-with-capital.

Uh-uh. Think again. This is not so much financial bad weather as financial climate change. Something is happenin’ Mr Jones, and you don’t know what it is, do ya? There has been too much misbehavior and it can no longer be mitigated. We’re not heading into a recession but a major depression, worse than the fabled trauma of the 1930s. That one occurred against the background of a society that had plenty of everything except money. Back then, we had plenty of mineral resources, lots of trained-and-regimented manpower, millions of productive family farms, factories that were practically new, and more than 90 percent left of the greatest petroleum reserve anywhere in the world. It took a world war to get all that stuff humming cooperatively again, and once it did, we devoted its productive capacity to building an empire of happy motoring leisure. (Tragic choice there.)

This new depression, which I call The Long Emergency, will play out against the background of a society that has pissed away its oil endowment, bulldozed its factories, arbitraged its productive labor, destroyed both family farms and the commercial infrastructure of main street, and trained its population to become overfed diabetic TV zombie “consumers” of other peoples’ productivity, paid for by “money” they haven’t earned.

From “FULL BLOWN PANIC”

Knees knocked last week from sea to shining sea as the shape-shifting monster of economic reality cut a swathe of destruction through the markets and financial ranks. The exact nature of this giant beast still remained largely concealed in a fog of accounting gambits, policy blusters, and reporting dodges, but a few intrepid scouts who glimpsed the behemoth up close said it looked like Godzilla with Herbert Hoover’s face.

George W. Bush, tried to appease the beast by offering each American adult the dollar equivalent of half a month’s mortgage payment — with the exhortation to drive forthwith to the nearest WalMart and blow it on salad shooters and plasma TV’s — but Hooverzilla just laughed at the offering and pounded the equity markets further into the dust of loss, while the “bank-like” guardians of wealth lay in the drainage ditches bleeding from their ears and eyes.

My favorite moment was seeing Treasury Secretary Paulson and one of his fellow shaved-head deputies at a press conference rostrum frantically trying to calm the news media rabble like a couple of extraplanetary high priests from a Star Trek episode — the batteries having run down in their laser wands, and their incantations (“liquidity! liquidity!) veering into mystifying glossolalia.

I resort to such admitted extreme hyperbole because it may be the only language that an infotainment-drunk society can still process in the face of an epochal calamity that will transform the lush terms of everyday life as we’ve known it into something like a bleak surrealist landscape in the manner of Tanguy.

God I wish I could write like that. :)

Link

Added – The blog is written by James Howard Kunstler – he’s definitely an interesting guy. Wikipedia article / kunstler.com

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Economics | 1 Comment »

 

Homeownership Rate

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

National homeownership rate gains from the last seven years have been erased. How much of this ownership run still needs to erode (e.g. what percentage of the homeowners that make up the run really can’t afford the house they have) before things turn around?

Census report

Also, isn’t it amazing how much information we have thanks to all the economic bloggers? Damn I love the internet.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Economy, Real-Estate | Comment now »

 

I Love Prostitutes

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

I love them when they’re helping bring down yet another corrupt politician.

Side comment – Is prostitution a victimless crime? Sure, assuming the call girl is sleeping with a single guy whose paying for sex. Otherwise, not so much.

Posted by Jim Mathies | Filed in Life | Comment now »