Monday Business Edition

We are governed by motherfucking idiots.

Or amoral greedheads, take your pick; but even the Nazi supporting Henry Ford understood you have to have someone to sell cars to.

Except we don’t sell cars anymore.  What we sell is Ponzi scams, pyramid schemes, and multi-level marketing and all the shouters on CNBC think they got in at the top, but they’re really just bottom feeders like the rest of us.

Perhaps the coming Hindenberg Crash will convince them.

Or maybe they really are stupid.

Forget a Double Dip. We’re Still in One Long Big Dipper.

Robert Reich

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The central problem is lack of demand – and that’s what has to be tackled.

Three of the four sources of demand have stopped working. (1) Consumers can’t and won’t buy because they’re still under a huge debt load, can’t get more credit, are afraid of losing their jobs (or already have), depend on two wage earners at least one of whom is working part-time and pulling in less, or have to save. (2) Businesses won’t invest and spend on creating more jobs if they don’t see consumers willing to buy more. (3) Exports are stalled because the dollar is so high they cost too much, much of the rest of the world is still struggling with recession, and American firms can make things for sale abroad more cheaply abroad.

That leaves only one remaining source of demand – government. We need a giant jobs program to hire people and put money in their pockets that they’ll spend and thereby create more jobs. Put ideology aside and recognize this fact. If it makes you more comfortable call it the National Defense Jobs Act. Call it the WPA. Call it Chopped Liver. Whatever, we have to get the great army of the unemployed and underemployed working again.

If we let the deficit hawks and government haters dominate this debate, as they have, the Big Dipper will continue for years. The Great Depression lasted twelve.

Attacking Social Security

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: August 15, 2010

So where do claims of crisis come from? To a large extent they rely on bad-faith accounting. In particular, they rely on an exercise in three-card monte in which the surpluses Social Security has been running for a quarter-century don’t count – because hey, the program doesn’t have any independent existence; it’s just part of the general federal budget – while future Social Security deficits are unacceptable – because hey, the program has to stand on its own.

It would be easy to dismiss this bait-and-switch as obvious nonsense, except for one thing: many influential people – including Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the president’s deficit commission – are peddling this nonsense.

What’s really going on here? Conservatives hate Social Security for ideological reasons: its success undermines their claim that government is always the problem, never the solution. But they receive crucial support from Washington insiders, for whom a declared willingness to cut Social Security has long served as a badge of fiscal seriousness, never mind the arithmetic.

From Yahoo News Business

1 China overshadows Japan economy as growth slows

by David Watkins, AFP

52 mins ago

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s economy was outpaced by China in the second quarter in nominal terms, data showed Monday, as sharply weaker than expected growth triggered fresh fears that the global recovery is losing steam.

As cooling exports and flat domestic consumption hit Japan’s growth in April-June, the data pointed to the looming prospect of China overtaking Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.

“The economy is levelling off,” said Keisuke Tsumura, parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office.

2 Growth angst drifts back to U.S. shores

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, Reuters

Sun Aug 15, 6:27 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After worrying about Europe for several months, economists are now turning their focus back to the United States, where high unemployment and a historic housing slump just won’t go away.

The U.S. economy appears mired in a troubling limbo, not weak enough to signal an imminent downturn and not sufficiently sturdy to give businesses confidence to begin hiring again.

The latest economic data highlights the shifting fortunes on either side of the Atlantic, with a robust Germany propelling the eurozone as the U.S. outlook looks bleaker.

3 Rulemakers plan global overhaul of lease accounting

By Emily Chasan, Reuters

Sun Aug 15, 12:32 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. and international accounting rule makers are planning to propose an overhaul of lease accounting as soon as Tuesday, in a move expected to affect some $1.2 trillion in leased assets.

Traditionally, accounting rules have given companies a lot of leeway in how they record leases for assets ranging from store locations and restaurant equipment to airplanes and machinery. As a result, only certain types of leases appear on the balance sheet, while a majority of a company’s leases can often be kept off the balance sheet and hidden from an investors’ view.

But the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which sets U.S. accounting rules, and the London-based International Accounting Standards Board, which writes accounting rules for more than 100 countries, will aim to change all that this week by proposing to bring many of these assets onto corporate balance sheets.

4 Stocks face retailers’ results

By Caroline Valetkevitch, Reuters

Sun Aug 15, 10:16 am ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stock investors will brace for further signs of weakness in the economic recovery this week as earnings from key retailers are expected.

Industrial production, housing starts and inflation data will come under scrutiny as well, after stocks on Friday wrapped up their worst week in six. Last week’s sell-off also drove stocks back into negative territory for the year.

Technical charts show “sell” signals, indicating more weakness. At the same time, some analysts say the market may be due for a bounce.

5 Broadcast audience aging faster than population

By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer

47 mins ago

NEW YORK – For years, executives at ABC, Fox and NBC essentially stopped caring about television viewers once they had reached 50 years old.

You don’t hear that much anymore.

The median age for viewers at those networks and CBS is now 51. The broadcasters’ audience has aged at twice the rate of the general population during the past two decades, according to a new report. It’s a quiet trend with a real impact on the way they do business.

6 Threats of int’l BlackBerry bans echo US debate

By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer

Sun Aug 15, 3:58 pm ET

NEW YORK – Threats by the governments of India, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to shut down BlackBerry’s corporate e-mail services reflect unease about a technology that the U.S. government also took a while to accept.

The foreign governments are essentially a decade behind in coming to terms with encryption, a technology that’s fundamental to the Internet as a medium of commerce.

Encrypted communications are scrambled in a complex process to ensure that only the intended recipient can read them, using the proper digital key. This often takes place behind the scenes, without the user needing to do anything. When you submit your credit card number on a shopping site, the communication is encrypted. When you log in to your bank’s site, that connection is encrypted as well.

7 Heat brings early harvest in New England, Midwest

By BOB SALSBERG, Associated Press Writer

Mon Aug 16, 3:09 am ET

BOSTON – Warm weather has many fruits and vegetables ripening early this year, and on some farms, fall crops will be ready well before Labor Day.

Early apples are already ripe for picking in the Northeast and Midwest. Sweet corn was a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, as were many tomatoes, blueberries and peaches. And, if the warm weather holds, families might have Halloween pumpkins well before October starts.

Major row crops, such as corn and soybeans, also are a little ahead of season, said Julie Schmidt, a statistician with the National Agricultural Statistics Service. A mild winter let farmers plant early, and warm weather since has helped their growth.

8 La. shrimpers worry about prices for new season

By CAIN BURDEAU and KEVIN McGILL, Associated Press Writer

30 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS – Shrimpers trawling Louisiana waters Monday in the first commercial season since the Gulf disaster don’t know what dangers from the massive BP oil spill still lurk and what market there will be for their catch if consumers don’t believe the seafood is safe.

Perhaps the biggest fear is that some fisherman might try to sell oil-contaminated shrimp.

“If you see oily shrimp, you got to throw them back over. Go somewhere else. It’s all you can do. And you hope everyone else does the same,” said Dewayne Baham, 49, a shrimper from Buras.

9 With BP spill under control, US looks at drill ban

By CHRIS KAHN, DINA CAPPIELLO and HARRY R. WEBER, Associated Press Writers

Sun Aug 15, 8:30 am ET

NEW ORLEANS – Now that the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history has effectively been stopped, the White House is considering an early end to its moratorium on deepwater drilling.

But four months after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, regulators have only started to make good on promises to overhaul drilling. Tough measures are stalled in Congress. A $1 billion emergency response network proposed by the industry won’t be operational for another year.

And while doomsday scenarios from the BP spill, like oil washing up the East Coast, have not come to pass, there are no guarantees that drilling will be any safer once it does resume.

10 Fishing legacy fades from some New England ports

By JAY LINDSAY, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 15, 12:26 pm ET

PLYMOUTH, Mass. – Mike Secondo remembers the days when Plymouth’s docks outshone its rock.

Tourists swarmed the town pier in the 1970s and ’80s, snapping pictures and bantering with commercial fishermen as they unloaded another shimmering haul for Secondo’s company, Reliable Fish, to truck to points south.

Secondo is convinced Plymouth tourists went home remembering the fishermen more than Plymouth Rock, which commemorates the Pilgrims’ landing in 1620.

11 Judge’s ruling uproots use of biotechnology beets

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer

Sat Aug 14, 10:41 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal judge has revoked the government’s approval of genetically altered sugar beets until regulators complete a more thorough review of how the scientifically engineered crops affect other food.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White Friday means sugar beet growers won’t be able to use the modified seeds after harvesting the biotechnology beets already planted on more than 1 million acres spanning 10 states from Michigan to Oregon. All the seed comes from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Additional planting won’t be allowed until the U.S. Department of Agriculture submits an environmental impact statement. That sort of extensive examination can take two or three years.

12 Stock market apt to stay difficult for some time

By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG, AP Business Writer

Sun Aug 15, 3:19 pm ET

NEW YORK – Get used to a difficult stock market.

It’s nearly four months since stocks reached their 2010 highs and began falling on investors’ doubts about the economic recovery. Some analysts say it could be another year before investors get up enough confidence to restart the rally.

The economy isn’t helping them. Last week, the Federal Reserve and two mass-market retailers, JCPenney Co. and Kohl’s Corp., lowered their outlooks for the rest of the year. The CEO of networking equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. used the same words as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to describe the economy: unusually uncertain.

This morning on CNBC whiny Master of the Universe after Master of the Universe (all white guys by the way) complaining that cheap money is not enough, they need to have their taxes cut.

You see, it’s not easy enough to make money anymore.  You used to be able to park your billions in the carry trade.  Now you have to make decisions and stuff (well not stuff so much) and that takes away time from being able to enjoy your mansion in the Hamptons.


Oh, and the reasons banks aren’t refinancing?  The home values aren’t high enough because of foreclosures and incomes aren’t high enough because of the Depression.

So it’s a vicious deleveraging (disinflationary) circle.

No self-awareness that maybe too much leverage was a bad thing.  No apologies at all.  And they ARE calling it ‘the new normal’.

So in addition to being dopes they’re also heartless bastards.


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