Friday, December 31, 2010

A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

The next year or so will continue to be rough going, with unemployment remaining high, a further housing market collapse, coming inflation, fuel/energy price spikes, etc. But, eventually, it will get better.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, despite these troubled times. And may your New Year be better, brighter and more prosperous.

Keep the faith, and don't give up hope!

God Bless!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

End-of-Year Post...

Consumer confidence down "unexpectedly" while housing prices drop:

Consumer confidence unexpectedly deteriorated in December, while prices of single-family homes fell almost double the expected pace in October, tempering growing optimism on the economy's recovery.

The regulators said one reason for the increase in foreclosures is that banks have "exhausted" options for keeping many delinquent borrowers in their homes through programs such as loan modifications.

Newly-initiated foreclosures increased to 382,000 in the third quarter, a 31.2 percent jump over the previous quarter and a 3.7 percent rise from the same quarter a year ago, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) said in a quarterly mortgage report.

The number of foreclosures in process increased to 1.2 million, a 4.5 percent increase from the second quarter and a 10.1 percent increase from a year ago, according to the regulators.

A blizzard in the U.S. Northeast this weekend postponed about $1 billion in holiday retail sales by keeping shoppers out of stores in the days after Christmas, research firm ShopperTrak said on Wednesday.

The snowstorm shut roads and canceled flights in New York City and created havoc across the Northeast, where shopper traffic was 11.2 percent below ShopperTrak's expectations for Sunday December 26 and off 13.9 percent on Monday December 27.

Ninety-eight of the TARP'ed banks are close to failing (despite the bailout):

The total, based on an analysis of third-quarter financial results by The Wall Street Journal, is up from 86 in the second quarter, reflecting eroding capital levels, a pileup of bad loans and warnings from regulators. The 98 banks in shaky condition got more than $4.2 billion in infusions from the Treasury Department under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

What's coming to your local hotels and malls:

The United States is stepping up security at “soft targets” like hotels and shopping malls, as well as trains and ports, as it counters the evolving Al-Qaeda threat, a top official said Sunday.

And the internet and the so-called "net neutrality" law: link 1, link 2, link 3.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

National Insecurity...

A Mexican drone invaded USA airspace, but nothing to see here... look away, look away.

Meanwhile, TSA deploys scanners at bus stations. and gropes grandma while an Iranian-American gets thru with this wonderful little mistake.


End-of-Year Econo-mishmash...

Fuel prices are a-risin' (national average at $2.99 as of yesterday, and oil price for barrel is currently at $91), adding inflationary pressure.

Stocks are flat due to lower than expected GDP growth.

Good news, though, is that Senator Reid pulled the pork-filled spending budget. (Republican pork was $1 billion, Democrat pork was almost $52 billion.)

Good news, though, is that the GOP landslide last month forced The One to continue the Bush tax cuts for 2011.

UPDATE: Durable goods drops and November consumer spending stays flat once you factor in inflation. Stag-flation, baby!

Ewwwww... The EU Mess

Spain's about to be downgraded by Moody.

Same with Portugal.

Portugal has since been downgraded by Fitch.

Ireland drops down, too.

All this is following Greece.

We all saw this coming way back in April and June, remember?

Friday, December 03, 2010


So... consumer confidence rose... to a 5-month high!!! WOW!!!

Umm... five months ago consumer confidence was at 54.3. June... of this year... 54.3... and it's now at 54.1. As the article states oh so elegantly:

It takes a level of 90 to indicate a healthy economy, which hasn't been approached since the recession began in December 2007.

Could it be that, even though the administration tried to make hay out of so-called rosy job-creation numbers for last month (it was the typical seasonal temp hiring), the truth is that the unemployment rate jumped to 9.8%.

In addition to that is the fact that 2 million more people have now run out of unemployment benefits... just before Christmas. These are benefits that were extended and extended to a full 99 weeks (normally, it lasts only 26 weeks). And these people are not included in the official 9.8% statistics.

Employers added a net total of only 39,000 jobs last month, a sharp decline from the 172,000 created in October, the Labor Department said Friday. The weakness was widespread. Retailers, factories, construction companies, financial firms and the government all cut jobs.

The disappointing figures caught economists off guard. They had predicted the addition of 150,000 jobs, based on a raft of positive reports that showed busier factories, rising auto sales and a good start to the holiday shopping season in November. Yet all that failed to translate into mass hiring.

Another report states:

One of the big surprises was the loss of 28,100 retail jobs last month despite signs of a busy holiday shopping season.

These numbers show an economy in stagnation, with no real momentum in any direction.

Stagnant economy... higher inflation... stag-flation... like Jimmy Carter in the late-70s. Why, it's Carter 2.0. Hmm... who could've predicted this? Way back in March of 2009. Even further back in November of 2008.