"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

The Required Disclosures

The information presented in this blog and its individual articles is provided for informational use only and should not be considered investment advice or an offer for a particular security. The contents reflect the views and opinions of the individual writer as of the date the article was written and do not necessarily represent the views of the individual writer on the current date. They also do not in any way, shape, or form represent the views of the Firm Never-To-Be-Named. Any such views are subject to change at any time based upon market or other conditions and The Great Redoubt and its individual writers disclaim any responsibility to update such views. These views should not be relied on as investment advice, and because investment decisions for any security are based on numerous factors, may not be relied on as an indication of trading intent on behalf of any contributor to The Great Redoubt. Neither The Great Redoubt nor any individual author can be held responsible for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information offered. Please consult your tax or financial advisor for additional information concerning your specific situation.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Anonymous, National Debt, And British Tuition Hooligans

The markets ended on a mixed note - Dow down 0.02%, NASDAQ up 0.29%, S&P 500 up 0.38%. The day's better than expected jobless claims data helped prop things up, but the (comparatively) strong dollar ratcheted up commodities prices and served as an anchor on any company that actually makes things. Of course, that's not the only reason the markets were flat. What else happened?

First, the Bush tax cut "compromise" deal appears to be dead in the water. The House Democrats approved a resolution of opposition to it, and Speaker Pelosi will "honor the resolution".

Speaking of budget deficits and the problems on Capitol Hill, Erskine Bowles and Alan SImpson, co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, released a statement in which they sate that there needs to be a bipartisan agreement to reduce the $14 trillion[1] US national debt before any long-term increase in the debt limit is approved. "Our businesses will not be able to grow and create jobs and our workers will not be able to compete without a strategy to get this crushing debt burden off our backs." They have proposed an austerity program of sorts, relying on cuts in spending and streamlining of the tax code, but the panel's own members didn't support it.

Douglas Shulman, Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, announced that information from it's lawsuit against UBS AG "...has proved invaluable in supplementing and corroborating prior leads, as well as developing new leads, involving numerous banks." This is, of course, in reference to the IRS pursuit of US taxpayers who shelter assets in overseas banks and then do not declare those assets. The IRS is also considering another amnesty program for tax evaders, since the one last year got around 15,000 individuals to declare their offshore assets.

By popular demand[2], we now turn to the Cyberwar. Operation Payback crippled Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal with a 30,000-node DDoS attack. www.paypal.com was down for several hours, rendering it unable to process payments, MasterCard's SecureCode service was also disrupted, although service has been restored, and both MasterCard's and Visa's websites went down for a while. Amazon.com has been declared the next target, not only for refusing to host Wikileaks but for then offering for sale a Kindle version of the Wikileaks documents[3].

What does all of this have to do with the market? Imagine the damage to Visa (symbol V), MasterCard (symbol MA), PayPal (a subsidiary of eBay, ticker EBAY), and Amazon.com (symbol AMZN) if Anonymous manages to keep them going down over the Christmas shopping season. Yeah. That got your attention.

In the "What Were They Thinking" department, the TSA pulled Meera Shankar out of line at the Jackson-Evers International Airport and frisked her. Because she was wearing a sari. Despite the presentation of her diplomatic credentials, establishing her identity as the Indian Ambassador to the United States. The Indian government is not happy about this...incident.

Finally, we have anarchy in the UK. Students protesting an increase in tuition fees in England[4] attacked the car containing Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. 37 people were hurt during the riot, and police made 22 arrests.

[1] Yes, trillion. With a "t".
[2] That is, one reader asked.
[3] Go figure.
[4] As much as 9000 Pounds sterling per year.

No comments:

Post a Comment