Thursday, June 3, 2010

Random Items of Little Interest

Today was one of those days that you know is going to go the wrong way right from the beginning. At least it is Friday tomorrow and that means the Friday Night Entertainment show will be in full effect. Get your requests in for music, film, pictures, and anything else deemed interesting.

Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers
I have not been into basketball since the day's of a ferocious Pat Riley led NY Knick defense manned by such players as Ewing, Mason, Starks, and Oakley. Still, over the years I have come to see Paul Pierce as one of the most underrated players of our generation. Tonight the hometown Boston Celtics play historic rival Los Angeles for the second time in three years for all the marbles.

I knew the Celtics would beat the Cavaliers (no one believed me), I figured them to lose pretty bad vs. Orlando (most agreed with me, oops!), and now I have every confidence that the physical defense of Boston will wear out the Lakers in 6 games. Whose with me?

Random Items of Little Interest
Last Thursday I featured an exclusive interview with my pug dog. I thought it was insightful and also plenty of fun. I wanted to make another run at him but when I asked when I got home he said he was too tired and proceeded to his lucky blanket (whoobie) to lay down:

I figured he must be tired. I was getting set up to post and I noticed him walking towards the front door and when I got up this is what I saw:

Seems pug dog forgot he has a hot date and has no time to talk. What a liar!

Anyways, that leaves me on my own and a bit short on time. Some random things that may or may not interest you:

-How did I know my day was going to go bad? Every morning I get a fountain soda diet coke for the ride into work (I do not like coffee). Everyone in line was paying with debit cards and almost everyone had serious trouble remembering their PIN number. What should have been a 60 second stop took 10 minutes to clear the line.

-I spend a ton of time here writing about gold and silver. It seems many are getting sick of the whole thing. The Reformed Broker had this hilarious take today (and Economic Disconnect did make a morning link post over there today, which was cool!) dubbed "Things 'I'm All Set With'":
The Gold Debate: For years I'm listening to the same inane arguments back and forth about the edibility of the metal, the burying of the metal and paying someone to guard it, the hoarding of it, the Austin Powers jokes, the Schiff interviews, the pawn your gold commercials, the buy our US government gold coins that have nothing to do with the US government commercials, the fiat currency whining, the barbarous relic meme, the gold price charts that date back to Noah's f***ing Ark, the charts that denominate the price of gold in Minneapolis parking tickets, the big breakout that never happens, the paper gold versus physical gold argument, the gold-is-a-ponzi meme, the gold-is-a-bubble meme, and on and on.
I'm all set on gold.
There are a bunch more items in the piece and I agree 100% with the sentiment!

-Second thing that made me sure things were going to go rough? I set up a bunch of DNA sequencing reactions this morning and the thermocycler, which is brand new, stopped mid-process of the run, ruing my samples. I had to redo the whole thing.

-Via Macro Man, I saw this item about China raising the minimum wage by 20%!:
Beijing lifts minimum wage to 960 yuan
Wang Yan, director of labor relations department of the bureau, said the lift of the minimum wage aims to guarantee the rights of low-income workers and will not cause a price hike, the report said.
"Beijing has lifted the minimum wage standard for many years and has never found the adjustments resulted in a price increase of commodities and services," said Wang.
The bureau estimated that 100,000 people in the capital city will benefit from the increase of the minimum wage.
Beijing has carried out the minimum wage system since 1994 and the average annual increase rate is 10.02 percent, according to Legal Evening News citing the bureau.
First off, US workers better not read this and second, there has not been any price increases? First Japan, now the US, and now China? It's a deflation world I tell you!

-On Tuesday I offered one of my pet peeves:
At the height of the crisis it was said banks were afraid to lend to each other for fear of what the other bank may be holding as assets (or liabilities). I always thought that line was junk. The banks know full well what other banks are holding and thus if they are afraid it is because they know full well their own poor balance sheet.
Of course maybe reason number three I knew the day was going bad was from Bloomberg:
Banks’ Overnight Deposits With ECB Increase to Record
Wait for it, wait for it....
June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Overnight deposits with the European Central Bank rose to a record yesterday as the sovereign debt crisis made banks wary of lending to each other.
Now I would offer that maybe in two weeks this "worry" goes down, but did the underlying issues go anyplace? Another example of what any fiat/belief system is based on: Faith and Confidence. Got nothing solid to base things on?

-I have mused how an 8k credit towards a house purchase is going to look plenty silly when another 5-10% comes off the prices of homes in a year or so. Mortgage applications in picture form:

The link provides a few more choice graphs. Purchase applications are at a 13 year low. With more and more "shadow inventory" coming online all the time, how's that 8k looking now?

-Tim Iacono highlights an interesting duo of pieces which are related to each other. Caroline Baum (love her or hate her) offers:
We feel for this mom whose work options are limited by the need to care for her 3-year-old daughter. We all know someone who has been left jobless, financially strapped and emotionally bereft by the recession. Yet, at the risk of sounding hard- hearted, the U.S. can’t afford to provide everyone with food, clothing and shelter, not to mention medical and child care, college tuition, a low-interest mortgage and a Social Security check until death.
As much as this single mom’s plight tugs at our heart strings, using deficit financing to provide her with government subsidized child care is dangerous to her child’s health. That child will have to shoulder the bill. That’s the pain we don’t feel or hear about; the pain that doesn’t make its way into news stories, at least not in human terms; the pain that’s no less real, just less pressing.
This jibes with the whole "It's for my kids" line that people use all the time that drives me wild.

Tim found a corollary item as well from the Congressional Budget Office Director's blog that sums up what should be told to every person at the President's next press conference, which should be in 5 minutes no matter what day or time it is:
The United States faces a fundamental disconnect between the services that people expect the government to provide, particularly in the form of benefits for older Americans, and the tax revenues that people are willing to send to the government to finance those services,” Douglas Elmendorf, director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, writes in a May 17 blog post.
Look for this to become a key issue very soon.
At some point the play money being used right now will wear the bond market thin (I have no idea on the timing, I have been wrong on this!) and the rubber meets the road at the tax level. I think most people WILL pay more and maybe would even want to but not for the show we have been given so far. Real financial reform, real cuts to government spending (tell me why any US Senator or Congressman is paid again???) and many more reforms would be needed first. I do not think it will happen, and thus monster tax increases will cause other issues which I will go over at another time.

-Calculated Risk (I know, I should leave it alone!) had this up today on the jobs report reporting that will be coming tomorrow:
This is probably a safe prediction: There will be some really bad reporting tomorrow.
Note: The May headline payroll number will be large (consensus is for 540,000 payroll jobs added in May), but this will include around 400,000 temporary Census jobs.
I think this poor reporting will fall into two major categories:
1) Reporters who use the headline payroll number and write that this shows the recovery is picking up steam. We will probably see someone use the headline number and write something like "This is the largest monthly gain since September 1983" - well, were there 400,000+ temporary Census hires in September 1983? If not, why does this comparison matter?
2) Anyone who calls the number of temporary census workers "fake" or subtracts the birth/death adjustment from the seasonally adjusted headline number.
So far so good. Later I read this:
For some reason, print reports tend to contain the first mistake, and online reports the second error. Both are poor reporting, although the second is far more egregious (because the statements are blatantly false).

I had to check:
1.Exceptional, conspicuous, outstanding, most usually in a negative fashion.
The student has made egregious errors on the examination.
2.Outrageously bad.

I can understand the vent about the folks that subtract the Birth/Death number, but that's what happens with a black box. With all the insiders CR knows surely he could get a working diagram on how they compute the B/D adjustment? Anyways, I get that. Let's review "Fake":
1.Not real; false, fraudulent.
Which fur coat looks fake?

Well I would agree census workers are working (not fraud), but are they really adding to a recovery with the part time thing? Here I think both reporting errors are just as bad. Does "Online" = "Blogs" by the way? It just jumped out at me today.

-Did this guy have no idea he can just "walk away" from debt?:
Greek Debtor Sets Himself On Fire Inside Athens Bank

-If anyone knows Marshall Auerback can they PLEASE ask him how his view on money, as well as the whole MMT crowd, can argue that we cannot make every single American Millionaires tomorrow and suffer no ill effects? Their model says it's fine so I am wondering when we try it?????? Pretty Please????

-In case you were wondering what ever happened to that kid that became a sensation on YouTube doing the jedi thing (think Star Wars Kid), well, he became a lawyer. I can think of nothing more fitting. For a lightside jedi. WIMPS!

Some great late stuff from The Illusion of Prosperity that deserves a look:
Economic Model:

Full post here. Sharp minds deserve a look

Have a good night.


GawainsGhost said...

While I really appreciate that you broke your ban on The Band That Shall Remain Unnamed in honor of my birthday, GYC, I actually feel kind of guilty about it. I know how hard it was for you.

But I'm wondering if said ban also extends to Wings. Lennon and McCartney wrote some great songs together, or at least I think so anyway, but Denny Lane took Paul to a whole nother level. Band on the Run, Venus and Mars, Wings at the Speed of Sound, those are epic albums. Here's Denny, Jimmy McCulloch, Paul and Linda performing Picasso's Last Words and Richard Cory from 1976.

Highly relevant in context of the current situation.

Anyway, the end of the tax credit slammed the brake on sales. But that doesn't mean foreclosures came to a stop. In fact, they accelerated like a dysfunctional Toyota.

I got another 7 assignments today, probably will get more tomorrow. Research, driving, notices, rekeys, pictures, notes, reports, price opinions, it never ends. Not to mention the houses that were occupied last month are vacant now. So it just keeps piling up, the work.

But at least our listings sell. Put a fourplex on MLS last week, and had multiple offers by the end of the day, before I even had time to put up a sign. Go figure.

Oh, and that mansion on the golf course? It's been on the market for months. Overpriced, you see.

It's going to be a long, hot summer.

getyourselfconnected said...

Lennon was the talent so I would consider tunes based on him...

The housing mess will get worse, maybe no so much in Texas, it never got so bad (though your tales would imply otherwise) but that 8k is gonna bite the government in the butt after all is said and done.

GawainsGhost said...

Oh, so you're a McCartney hater, are you? That is sad, because he did some of his best work with Denny Lane. Nothing Lennon did after the breakup equals what those two accomplished together.

As far as real estate in Texas goes, the situation is worse in Houston and Dallas, but that's pretty far north from here. The thing about this area is that it has a very large number of low income people. That and its proximity to Mexico creates an interesting dynamic.

For decades Winter Texans, mostly from the Midwest and Minnesota, have been vacationing down here. There are entire cities made up of nothing but mobile homes which are occupied for six months a year. There are also gated communities and golf courses which are mainly occupied by wealthier Valleyites and Mexican nationals. Lots of Mexicans buy property here as vacation homes, because it's not safe to vacation in Mexico. And there's been an explosion of commercial development, outlet stores, strip malls and the like, over the last 20 years, because many Mexicans come here to shop. Cross border commerce is really big. Maquiladoras (manufacturing plants) in Northern Mexico have created a burgeoning middle class with money to spend.

But these drug cartels are really getting out of hand. We have pirates robbing fishermen on Falcon Lake, and recently a plot to blow up Falcon Dam. That would have been a real disaster. It would have flooded an area inhabitated by 4 million and shut off water supplies on both sides of the border.

It's not as bad as it is around Laredo, about 300 miles northwest, but it's getting worse.

Stagflationary Mark said...

Let's put this minimum wage hike in Beijing into proper perspective.

The Beijing Bureau of Human Resource and Social Security announced Thursday morning the minimum wage standard will rise by 160 yuan ($23.5), or 20 percent, from the current 800 yuan ($117.3) per month.

The bureau estimated that 100,000 people in the capital city will benefit from the increase of the minimum wage.

100,000 x 12 months x $23.50 = $28 million per year

That's it. I could probably point to just one corrupt Chinese public official who lost that much in the cushions of his couch. Sigh.

At $3,100 per square meter of "average price of a new apartment in the Chinese capital", it's worth about 9,100 square meters in total per year.

Lurker said...

My Friday night music pick is "One O'Clock Jump" by Benny Goodman.

GawainsGhost said...

From Popular Mechanics, the ultimate summer grilling guide.

Some good info there, GYC.

insanity shelter said...

Found this little gem at I'm considering getting the dvd, I'm sure there's more than a couple chuckles there.

GawainsGhost said...

Well, for Friday Night Entertainment, I would recommend "Letting Go" by Wings.

But since you don't like McCartney, an alternate choice would be Mountain, "Mississippi Queen."

And here's Ozzy's version.

insanity shelter said...

> In fact, they accelerated like a dysfunctional Toyota.

Good line!

insanity shelter said...

BTW, I'm groovin to that Wings song right now. Never heard it before. Very cool.