It used to be called fascism.
Solyent Green: The Bush court has spoken. Corporations are people and money is free speech, a goal corporations have sought since 1886. They have achieved everything but the right to vote, but they do not need to vote if they get to choose who wins. Many are claiming the dawn of a new America, where offices will be owned by corporations and filled by whomever they hire. But if there is to be no distinction between natural and corporate persons, do criminal statues now apply to corporations? It would seem so. We must find appropriate punishments.
But corporate law imposes no citizenship, or even residence requirement on stockholders or company officers. So what is to prevent a country– say China – from buying controlling interest in a company and using its free-speech millions to elect the senators from 10 or 12 small states, who would then control what laws were passed by the US Congress. The strict constructionists have constructed a disaster.
Off the High Board: In Japan, retail sales fell for the 13th consecutive year, reaching a 24-year low. Department store sales fell 10% y/y, - even supermarket sales fell 5% as the Japanese consumer cut back even more. In Europe, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain, and the UK are about to plunge into sovereign default. In case you hadn't noticed, the recession isn't quite over, but Citi is sure profit margins won't decline, even in the face of collapsing consumer demand, sovereign defaults, and an onrushing bear market. Splash. Or splat?
Renumeration: While the US is ostensibly trying to protect the Afghans from the Taliban, surveys show the general public would far more appreciate being protected from the bribes required to do business with the American-installed government.
Baked In: The administration has no plans to reduce mortgage loan balances in order to prevent foreclosures, but it wants to “keep troubled borrowers in their homes”. Kind of hard to see how these two are going to get along. Housing starts are down again 6.9% m/m. The FHA tightened up some odds and ends but will still allow down-payments of as little as 3.5 percent, because the political cost in votes is seen as higher than the dollar cost to taxpayers. Failure? It's in there!
Without Comment: Last year, 25% of US grain crops went into gas tanks.
Reminder: The US has yet to rebuild and recover from Katrina. Do not expect Haiti to be a 60-day wonder. Haiti has no functioning government, no working legal system, and very little remaining infrastructure. Easily a million people are sleeping in tents without access to water, food, sanitation. $10 may make you feel good, but it won't go very far. The US offer of $100 million won't last a week. The effort in Haiti will take billions and years. Rather like another war, but far more worthwhile.
On Message: The people elected the Democrats because they thought they had the better ideas. But the Democrats are so insecure that they've internalized what the GOP bullies have been yelling at them for over a decade and now seem to believe that they actually have weaker ideas than the GOP minority.
Cease and Desist: Senator Murkowski, (R-Alaska) wants Congress to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting the environment.
Balanced, On Balance: Suicide bombers are generally not crazy, poorly educated religious zealots seeking martyrdom and a glorious afterlife. Most are relatively well educated, stable individuals who believe that their acts will bring great benefits to their community and draw the world's attention to inequalities and insults. They've done a profit/loss analysis and concluded that the greater good is worth their sacrifice. Silly altruists.