Wednesday, May 28, 2008

GDP Will Be Fine, As Long as Consumers Buy Tchotchkes

Wild rain and heavy winds here last night. No damage to the plants however. The garden is looking strong indeed. Loyal reader Watchtower had asked if I had seen any pictures form the Mars Phoenix lander. I watched the whole thing on NASA TV live! I love space stuff, and the phoenix lander is amazing. Plenty of good photos out there with my two favorites being the lander being photographed during its descent by the Mars recon orbiter, and the picture of the camera shadow from the lander itself. Check out all relevant info here:

Sudden Assault on Bubbles Obvious to All
It seems that the shear hypocrisy of the "some bubbles are bad" line of thinking is getting a fair amount of coverage. Mish has a good discussion going and Tim Iacono over at The Mess That Greenspan Made has the best one liner yet from one of his posts today:

"Aside from the remarkable surety with which many analysts are now able to identify a "commodities bubble" in real-time, a feat that seemed impossible for both the stock market bubble and the housing bubble just a few year ago, the one part of the "commodities bubble" discussion that seems most ill-reasoned these days is the eagerness to pop it."

I spilled a ton of virtual ink on this already. Tim's line is perfect as it captures everything that is so wrong with the entire system. You had to basically have every possible data point corroborate that there was a stock (2000) and housing bubble (2005) before the bulls were dragged kicking and screaming to see the truth, but now Oil and food are sure fire bubbles that need intervention. Ok I'll play.

Say oil is overpriced relative to some fundamental analysis by, for the sake of argument, by 50%. So oil should be at the $60-$65 a barrel range. No problem. I am sure the stock market would rally huge on that oil price collapse. Now reduce home prices by the 20-40% that they are still out of line with fundamentals and hows that action? Still like bubble popping? I sure as hell would! Vote on the new poll which asks which bubble is/was the most hurtful.

GDP Will Be Fine, As Long as Consumers Buy Tchotchkes
As you may know already, I am a huge fan of the major news outlets and their stories on finance. I think they are very revealing, not through insight or rugged analysis, but because they are the face the MSM wants to put on things. The facade if you will. Sometimes though you get a nugget that shows the underlining belief under the surface, and today was one of those days.

Faced with a durable goods number that was a bit better than expected, the market rallied, pulled back, and closed higher based on a line that a recession will not occur. Leave that debate out of it for a bit and check out today's Yahoo Finance lead headline story:
Stocks rise after durable goods data
Wednesday May 28, 6:01 pm ET By Tim Paradis, AP Business Writer
Stocks rise after smaller-than-expected drop in durable goods, but oil weighs on investors
NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street managed to finish an erratic session with a moderate gain Wednesday as investors found some comfort in upbeat data on durable goods orders.
Oil prices, however, remain a big focus on Wall Street. Crude's recovery from its lows Wednesday ate into some of the stock market's enthusiasm over the Commerce Department's durable goods report; the government said orders for items including aircraft, machinery, cars, refrigerators and computers slipped 0.5 percent last month.

Wall Street expected a steeper decline. Excluding transportation, orders rose 2.5 percent -- the sharpest increase in nine months. And orders for electrical equipment and appliances jumped 27.8 percent, the largest-ever increase.
"There's a lot of commentary especially out of the Fed that the oil prices are rising because of basic demand as opposed to speculation in the market. I think that has a chilling effect on the stock market," said Kim Caughey, equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group.
A drop of more than $3 a barrel helped stocks finish higher Tuesday, the first day of trading for the week after Memorial Day. But last week, oil saw a fresh record of $135, and the major stock market indexes lost more than 3 percent as investors worried that a surge in oil and gas prices would dull discretionary spending and upend whatever growth the economy might manage.
"The consumer's behavior is changing. They're not getting in their car, driving to Wal-Mart and loading up on tchotchkes that they may or may not need," Caughey said."

I have to admit, I had to look up "Tchotchke", and here is the Wiki entry:
Tchotchke originally from Yiddish because there is no standardized transliteration; trinket, ultimately from a Slavic word for "toys" are trinkets, small toys, knickknacks, baubles, or kitsch. The term has a connotation of worthlessness or disposability, as well as tackiness. The term was long used in the Jewish-American community and in the regional speech of New York City.

Imagine this, consumers may not be buying up crap they do not need by the bushel going forward! Oh No! What will become of our economy if every single dollar made, and plenty more that are borrowed on debt, are not spent with reckless abandon?

If you are one of these type of people that are the perfect consumer, take a minute and look over that line again. You are counted on to be a damn fool and spend money on things you do not need to line the pockets of rich people. Too funny. I hope someday soon the severity of how screwed up things have become is somehow brought to bear on many US "consumers".

Until then, I have to open up an online "Tchotchke" business!

Have a good night.


watchtower said...


Thanks for the link, until now I had only seen two pictures from Phoenix.

Anonymous said...

Most of Fisher's speech was devoted to a warning considerably more dire than his inflation fears. "I see a frightful storm brewing in the form of untethered government debt," he said.

Taking his audience through the familiar territory of Medicare and Social Security's long-term financial insolvency, he said the long-term fiscal situation of the federal government "could be unimaginably more devastating to our economic prosperity than the sub-prime debacle and the recent debauching of credit markets."

Aside from the straightforward fiscal damage, Fisher said the "dark and dirty secret about deficits -- especially when they careen out of control -- is that they create political pressure on central bankers to adopt looser monetary policy down the road."

And the greater the financial hole of the US deficit, the greater the pressure on the Fed will be to print money to get out of it.

Print money is my bet, We haven't even seen a bubble yet if that happens.


watchtower said...

If I could just add this also;

"Within the next 5 years, if nothing is done, this country faces a serious economic catastrophe because it is addicted to debt"
Former Comptroller General David Walker speaking to the Birmingham, Alabama Rotary Club on Wednesday January 9, 2008.

According to Mr. Walker the U.S. Government's total downstream liabilities and unfunded commitments (including Medicare, Social Security, Public Debt, Pensions, etc.) have now exceeded $53 trillion dollars, or put another way, $455,000 for every American household.

I cannot remember where I came across this, but if I could I would gladly give the credit to them.

Anonymous said...

Hey everyone,

USSA Economic Outlook from 2008 to 2011. Enjoy!


PS: Yeah physical is where it's at.

Anonymous said...


"Yeah physical is where it's at."

Seems like some old gal had a song kind of like that: Let's get physical. Maybe you can use that as a theme song.