Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kraft hates America

Did you know there were green tea Oreos? Mango & orange Oreos? Hollow, straw shaped Oreos you can use to drink milk?

Well there are, but they are not sold in the USA. They were developed in China (by Kraft) and have spread throughout Asia, even into Canada.

Look here dammit. I want a mango & orange Oreo and I want it now!

ps. better make it gluten-free though

Das boot

is exactly what Germany wants to give to what's left of the Greek government. Apparently installing an unelected "technocratic" government hasn't moved Greece very close to where Germany wants them to be so now they want to appoint a "budget commissioner" with veto power over Greek fiscal decisions. And they want Greece to pass a law saying that "first and foremost" all state revenues will go to debt reduction.

Read all about it here.

To me, this is Germany saying, "don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out" to their southern vassals.

In my opinion Greece should take them up on the offer and generously offer investors including the ECB, German & French banks, and the IMF a 100% haircut on their holdings of Greek debt.

Greece has more leverage in this situation than Germany seems to want to believe or at least admit.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ok, now vinyl is no longer cool


Because Target now sells turntables!



But I bet they won't carry this turntable:

More info is here, and no I don't own a piece of the company nor was I solicited to write about them, nor given any inducement to write about them. At KPC, we KIR (keep it real).

Not good

The advance estimate of real GDP growth for last quarter (2011 q4) is in at 2.8%. This is not so good in a number of ways.

First, "expectations" were for 3%.

Second, over half of the growth came from increased "inventory investment", i.e. the accumulation of unsold goods. 

Third, this number is subject to revision and the direction of revision is frequently downward.

Fourth, real GDP growth in 2011 was substantially lower than it was is 2010! 1.7% vs. 3.0%

Epic Fail!

Fifth, even if we discount points 1-4, 2.8% is a pitiful growth rate for a country coming out of a deep recession with a high unemployment rate and a depressed level of labor force participation.

President Obama should be thanking his deity every day for Mitt and Newt. They are the only reasons he's likely to win re-election with an economy this weak.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ewwwww! He Said "Lance the Boil"

Perhaps not the most felicitous metaphor...but it was heartfelt.

Re Beverly "Govnah Dumplin" Perdue deciding not to seek reelection: the very smart and comely Laura Leslie came over to the house for a bit. We got to talk politics on the back porch, with Hobo the Wonder Dog sniffing the camera.

War on Drugs

New and deeply weird video for the War on Drugs' song "Brothers":

The War on Drugs - Brothers from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.

"I was just so relieved and so happy he didn't write a song about giraffes"!

News Tip on Bev Perdue

My thoughts on Bev Perdue's announcement today....

Three possibilities here. One is that this is engineered to make way for Dan Blue, the African-American state senator from Wake County. Perdue waited until now to make it harder for anyone else to enter the race. The fact that the primary is on the same day as the Constitutional Amendment on gay marriage assures a large black turnout. This could be the difference to get Dan Blue the nomination.

The second possibility--Interesting that Brad Miller pulled out of the District 4 fight with David Price yesterday. Could that timing mean something?

The final possibility, and the most likely, is this: just typical chaos and confusion in politics, and no one should read too much into the timing. Dr. Perdue was just too much of a liability in an important swing state, and the national party sent some senior folks to tell her to spend more time with her grandchildren.

The Fed is a bear

I read the Fed's latest announcements as a sign that they are very bearish on the US economy. They are saying two things. (1) The Fed funds rate will stay near zero at least through most of 2014, and (2) their inflation target is 2%.

The only ways I can see those two points being consistent with each other is if we have another recession or a sustained but pitiful "expansion" for the next 10-12 quarters.

I wouldn't want to be an incumbent from the President's party running for re-election in the 2014 midterms if the Fed "achieves" both of their announced objectives.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mexican electoral politics is getting interesting

It seemed like back to the future. The PRI looked like they had the presidential election locked up without even having to resort to unplugging the vote-counting computers and improvising some results. The PAN is very weak partly due to their failing drug war and the PRD has somehow again nominated El Peje, who has slipped into the twilight zone.

But now word comes that the PRI is losing part of its electoral alliance. The party of the Mexican teachers union (i.e. Panal) is pulling its considerable support.


Because of a grass-roots revolt inside the PRI over plans to put the union head's daughter and son-in-law up as Senate candidates.

When informed that this was no longer on the table,  Elba Esther Gordillo pulled her party out of the alliance (from her home in San Diego) and showed why Mexican Spanish is the greatest language on the planet by saying:

"Pues entonces, que se vaya todo a la chingada"

Hat tip to Aguachile via Greg Weeks!

Why must the Captain go down with the ship?

Poor Francesco Schettino. He tripped and fell into a lifeboat and now he's globally vilified and most likely headed to jail.

Do you question why it's the "law of the sea" that the Captain must be the last person off the ship in an evacuation situation?

This guy says the practice evolved as a way for Brits to show their superiority over "Latin people".

Chivalry at sea became an essential British ideal, and proof of the superiority of Anglo-Saxons (a category that included North Americans and most northern Europeans) over more panicky peoples from the south and east.

In truth, there is a strong economic reason for such a norm. It should encourage both (a) better accident avoidance and (b) a well thought out and well practiced evacuation plan.

After all, if I'm gonna be the last guy off, I have a big incentive to make sure that everyone gets off quickly and efficiently.

Phone call for Peter Leeson!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Still Sick From Return

Had hoped to be back up to speed by now. Spent four nights in England, in London and then visiting Tommy the Brit.

But got badly sick on plane back. That may be as (temporarily) miserable as you can get, outside of prison: nine hours with a bad fever, shivering, in coach, getting up every 20 minutes to puke (or pretend to puke, because your stomach insists). And then getting to &^$%*ing Atlanta and being greeted by the friendly staff of America's "Welcome home! Now bend over" customs.

Then four hours on the floor in Atlanta waiting for the flight that is (of course) delayed. Coach again, middle seat. Stewardess actually wakes me, incredulous that I don't want peanuts. No, ma'am, thanks very much.

Was in a near coma yesterday. Finally kept something solid down around 2 pm.

Today, I was feeling so bad I actually played Angry Birds. Had never played it before. Nice, because you can shoot a bird at those bad pigs and then take a little nap before your next shot. A nice quiet little game. I will never, ever play it again.

It would be good if my head stopped hurting. But the whole not puking thing is an improvement.

Tomorrow: England, Tommy the Brit, Harold. And, of course, the Cock.

Don't call me Shirley

Have you heard about New Mexico?

It's getting bigger!

Land of Enchantment indeed.

One day me and Mrs. Angus' dirt pile may be a whole ranch!

Lagarde vs. Lagarde

Chrissie, you got some 'splainin' to do!

 The head of the International Monetary Fund warned that in addition to cutting yawning budget deficits Europe needs to do more to promote growth and stop the crisis from spreading to the world economy. "It is about avoiding a 1930s moment, in which inaction, insularity, and rigid ideology combine to cause a collapse in global demand," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said before the German Council on Foreign Relations. "A moment, ultimately, leading to a downward spiral that could engulf the entire world," she said. 

 People, one of the most effective remedies for the "1930s problem" was for countries to exit the gold standard and devalue their currencies (you are allowed to agree with this even if you favor a gold standard by simply believing that they'd chosen the wrong parities). The situation in Europe is eerily similar. The PIIGS need to exit the Euro-zone and devalue their currencies! As far as I can see, the IMF is dead set AGAINST this proven remedy to "1930s problems"

 Instead, the IMF is actually a big part of the forced austerity movement! The IMF is part of the group threatening further payouts to Greece unless they do what? INCREASE AUSTERITY!!

The IMF is making Greek negotiations with private creditors much harder by refusing to take any haircuts on their own loans to Greece (the IMF's insistence on being paid in full makes the required private haircut to hit the IMF's 120% debt in 2020 target even harder).

 In other words, as is usually the case in a financial crisis, THE IMF IS PART OF THE PROBLEM.

The only viable alternative to self defeating austerity is exit and devaluation. I believe that IMF economists know this, but the leaders of the organization are more concerned about French and German banks than they are about economic performance and living standards in Greece and Portugal, so we get these ridiculous & hypocritical lectures.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Economists at Sea

Economists at sea...

Fourth, we must acknowledge the intimate, inseparable relationship between politics and economics. Modern debates about who caused the financial crisis—­government or the private financial sector—are almost ­nonsensical. We are living in an era of money politics and large powerful interests that influence the laws and regulations and their enforcement. In order to catalyze the evolution of economics, research teams would benefit from multidisciplinary interaction with politics, psychology, anthropology, sociology and history.

This makes sense to me. But then I was never a good enough economist to get a job as an economist...

The culture that is Spain / Another one bites the dust

What the hell is up with Spain? Light bulls' horns on fire and enjoy watching them run around going nuts? To honor some "Saint"?

Well, one bull has done his level best to even up the score:

A flaming-horned bull trampled and fatally gored a man early Saturday during a festival in eastern Spain, an official said. Large balls of flaming wax are traditionally affixed to the beasts' heads before they are let loose to rampage through squares and narrow streets in such festivals. 

 the bull charged the man, gored him and then stamped on his head, causing him "irreversible injuries." 

Many towns in east and northeastern Spain celebrate feasts with "toros embolados," or "flaming bulls," which feature the animals racing around and shaking their heads as a reaction to flames or fireworks attached to or close to their horns. At these regional festivals, flaming-horned bulls are taunted and teased by rowdy crowds in bullrings, town squares or down streets.

C'mon bulls, you got a lot of work left to do!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Early to bed, never to rise?

"And yet while young men's failures in life are not penalizing them in the bedroom, their sexual success may, ironically, be hindering their drive to achieve in life."

 More here.


Bait & Switch

Here's some early footage of Lebron in action:


Hat tip to Mrs. Lebron.