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

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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.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Monsanto Has A Little List...

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
That, my friends, is a quote from President Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation on January 17, 1961. You may have heard of it before. It's referred to sometimes as the "military-industrial complex" speech, and it's quite a favorite amongst the conspiracy theory crowd.

Of course, what are the odds that the interest of our nation "could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite".

To answer that, let me introduce Craig Stapleton, US Ambassador to France from June 2005 to July 2009. France - indeed, the entire European Union - is hesitant to adopt the use of genetically modified organisms. In 2007, France decided to suspend cultivation of a Monsanto product - MON 810 - on the grounds that the French government isn't convinced that it can be grown without risk. So, Ambassador Stapleton, how did you suggest that the United States handle this?
Mission Paris recommends that that the USG reinforce our negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by publishing a retaliation list when the extend "Reasonable Time Period" expires.
Retaliation, Ambassador Stapleton? Against who?
Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits.
Bear in mind, that we are now talking about retaliating against all of Europe for one nation's unwillingness to allow the cultivation of a single product of a single American company. It's not as if France was unilaterally banning imports of all seed grown in the United States. Monsanto is one company, and MON810 is just one of their products.

So, the next time someone tells you we have a free-market economy, look at Monsanto and the US retaliation list. Look at Goldman Sachs and AIG and Citigroup and General Motors and Bank of America, and remember the bailouts.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Wrapping up 2010

Well, that's it. From a trading perspective, 2010 is dust and ashes. So, how did the year do?
The Dow closed at 11,577.51, up 1029.00 (9.75%) from 12/31/2009. The NASDAQ closed at 2652.87, up 359.95 (15.7%) from 12/31/2009. The S&P 500 closed at 1257.67, up 131.07 (11.63%) from 12/31/2009. Meanwhile, the 10 Year Treasury Yield Index closed at 33.05, down 5.04 (-13.23%). We won't know until January 7th how unemployment ended up for December, but it was at 10% at the end of December 2009 and last month's figures don't give us much hope that things will be better for this year[1].
The Center for Economics and Business Research is predicting doom for 2011, though. they predict that Spain and Italy will have to refinance around 400 billion euros of bonds in Q2 2011, triggering a new sovereign debt crisis in the European Union. This will weaken the euro further, causing the stronger economies of the EU[2] to consider abandoning the currency. This, plus their considered opinion that the nations wit weaker economies[3] will fail to take any meaningful steps towards becoming competitive, will destroy the euro as we know it. "We give [the euro] only a one in five chance of surviving in its present form for 10 years. If the euro doesn't break up, this could be the year when it weakens substantially toward parity with the dollar."
North Korea is learning to "Bend it like Beckham". The North Korean version presumably involves kneecapping the opposing team's goalie the night before the big game, accusing the kneecapped goalie of having provoked the attack, and then swearing to wage sacred war on anyone who attempts to press charges. Also, only the actual members of the soccer team get to eat; everyone else is encouraged by the Glorious Coach to embrace the "Let's Eat Two Meals Per Day Campaign" while they hunt rats and consider cannibalism[4].
China's President Hu Jintao announced his nation's 12th Five-Year Program, which aims to adopt a "proactive" fiscal policy and a "prudent' monetary policy. They will continue the "one country, two systems" policy with regards to Hong Kong[5]. They still also do not desire to replace the United States as the world's sole economic and political superpower. Really. Just ask them.
And on that note, have a happy new year!
[1] Even if they look better, they may not be better. Remember, if you give up on finding a job, you don't count as unemployed anymore.
[2] *cough*Germany*cough**cough*
[3] *cough*PIIGS*cough**cough*
[4] That may have gone to a darker place than I intended...
[5] That is, they're still a repressive Communist dictatorship. But Hong Kong can continue to be a collection of capitalist running dogs just so long as they produce a lot of wealth for China as a whole and specifically for the Party officials.

The Iraqi Dinar: Penny Stock, FOREX Style

Apparently, the new hotness for the get-rich-quick schemes on teh intarwebz is investing in the Iraqi Dinar. A representative web site for this may be found at, say, DinarTRADE[1] - which also offers investments in the Korean Won, the Chinese Yuan, the Vietnamese Dong, and an Afghanistan currency they can't even be bothered to name[2]. For what it's worth, DinarTRADE guarantees that the Dinar they sell "are 100% authentic and of non-criminal origin."[4]
So how does investing in Dinar make you richer than Croesus? Here's how DinarTRADE pitches it: "Picture Iraq as a company selling stock. Each Dinar you purchase represents a share in Iraq's bright future. As Iraq recovers from the removal of Saddam Hussein, and starts rebuilding, the country's infrastructure resumes production. Boasting the 3rd largest oil reserves in the world, Iraq's economy can only improve. The Dinar will appreciate in value as the oil driven economy booms." They then show an approximate exchange rate (as of 12/30/2010) showing $1 = 1168 Iraqi Dinars[5], and then show a chart showing how you can get fabulously wealthy if the value of the Dinar leaps upward to $0.01, $0.10, $0.20, $0.50, and $1.00.
They also, in an attempt to assure you that they are legitimate, give you a link to their registration with the US Treasury. All this means is that they have filed the Registration of Money Services Business form (FinCEN Form 107). A money services business is defined by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the United States Department of the Treasury as "any person doing business, whether or not on a regular basis or as an organized business concern, in one or more of the following capacities:
  1. Currency dealer or exchanger
  2. Check casher
  3. Issuer of traveler's checks, money orders or stored value
  4. Seller or redeemer of traveler's checks, money orders or stored value
  5. Money transmitter
  6. US Postal Service"
Notice that it says nothing about acting as a FOREX solicitor. That's because FinCEN form 107 has nothing to do with FOREX trading. All persons and organizations that intend to do business as futures professionals must, under the Commodity Exchange Act, register with the National Futures Association (NFA). If a group - like DinarTRADE - is only citing their completion of FinCEN form 107 while selling you a story about how you will get rich through investment in Dinars, they are vigorously exploiting a loophole. They are not legitimate Retail Foreign Exchange Dealers.
Now, I could continue to make fun of their web sites and their advertising pitches and the fact that they really aren't what they imply through their ad copies[6]. But really. That's like taking candy from a baby. A small baby. One that hasn't learned to walk, yet. Instead, let's review their claims, which boil down to "if the Iraqi Dinar goes up in value, you will be mad bags of money, filthy disgusting rich!"
Technically, this is true. However, using their own $1 to 1168 IQD figure, buying Iraqi Dinars is something like buying a pink sheet stock trading at $0.0008561 per share. Sure, if it goes up, you stand to get rich. If it goes up. If Iraq doesn't dissolve into civil war. If Iraq doesn't begin to experience massive bouts of hyperinflation. If the United States doesn't just pull out, leaving their infrastructure shattered and their nation vulnerable to attack by Iran. Assuming they don't revalue the Dinar, making the old notes worthless.
Their claims also include a second serious flaw: "Picture Iraq as a company selling stock." This is not actually true. Paper money is constantly being printed, in whatever quantities the government needs, for whatever purposes they want. It would be slightly more accurate (well, slightly less inaccurate) to compare Iraq to a mutual fund company, because Iraq stands ready to constantly issue new shares. But not to redeem existing shares. Or to pay dividends. Or do anything else a mutual fund company would do.
In a nutshell, investing in the Iraqi Dinar is not a guaranteed get-rich scheme. At best, it is to FOREX trading what penny stocks are to equity trading. At worst, it is a scam.
[1] "Investing in your future"
[2] Two things here: first, the Afghanistan currency is the afghani. Second, if your foreign currency supplier can't even tell you the name of the currency, think long and hard about how wise it is to buy from them.[3]
[3] Answer: not very. (And yes, I'm aware that I've footnoted a footnote.)
[4] Well. I feel better now.
[5] Oanda, a real FOREX site, shows the Interbank exchange at 1181.530 Dinar to the dollar for 12/30/2010. So that's a 1.15% premium.
[6] Remember, DinarTRADE isn't the focus of this article. It's a representative sample.

Farm Prices, Farm Costs, and the Money Supply

Internationally and here in the states, there are no economic measures due to be reported. None. Zip. Nada. There are a few items from yesterday,though.
The Agricultural Prices report was released yesterday, falling unperceived and uncared for on the ears of the market. The All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers was up 0.6% in December (up 19% for the year), with the Crop Index up 1.1% and the Livestock Index down 0.7%. Meanwhile, the December Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates[1], which tracks changes in the costs of farmers, was up 1.6% in December and 7.3% for the year. There's a lot of data in the report, showing that you can expect to continue to pay more for your food in 2011 than you did in 2010, but who cares? That's all irrelevant noise, wisely ignored by those who calculate inflation[2].
Does anyone remember "Big" Ben Bernanke's December 5th interview with 60 Minutes? If so, do you remember him saying this: "One myth that's out there is that what we're doing is printing money. We're not printing money. the amount of currency in circulation is not changing. The money supply is not changing in any significant way." Well, the Federal Reserve's Money Stock Measures report came out yesterday. It shows a 2.9% increase in M1 money supply[3] from October to November (a 9% increase from January), and a 0.4% increase in M2[4] from October to November (a 3.7% increase from January).
Technically, "Big" Ben is probably right. The Fed probably isn't working the presses and generating more physical currency. But, through the magic of fractional-reserve banking, the Fed doesn't have to print physical money to increase the money supply by 2.9% in one month.
Oh, and that 9% increase in M1 in 11 months? That's pretty much the reason people are concerned about inflation.
[1] This has the helpful acronym "PPITW".
[2] If it's not core to inflation, it does it really impact your pocketbook?
[3] That's currency in circulation plus traveler's checks in circulation plus demand deposits plus other checkable deposits.
[4] That's M1 plus savings deposits plus time deposits less than $100,000 plus money-market deposit accounts for individuals.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Good News Is No News, Apparently

We had good economic data today. First time jobless claims were good. The Chicago PMI was spectacular. Pending home sales, which I forgot about entirely today, were up 290 bps to a level of 92.2. So naturally, the markets heaved a sigh of disgust and slunk a short distance into the red to sulk (Dow down 15.67, NASDAQ down 3.95, S&P 500 down 1.90). All told, it was a day filled with "meh".
Why should this be? Well, a few things crop up. A lot of the big traders have already closed their books out on yesterday's marginal high note, which has cut liquidity in the market (which always causes volatility in prices). We've got a weak dollar, with investors expecting it to weaken even further as the Fed churns the money out. In fact, the dollar lost out against both the Swiss franc and the euro (which is kind of sad, as the euro also lost out against the Swiss franc).
All in all, it feels like much of the market has already taken off for the weekend.

They Cite CPI, You Cite Chicago PMI.

Remember how I said that the analysts were looking for a contraction to a level of 62.0%? Yeah, well, we did a little better than that. the business barometer hit a seasonally adjusted 68.6%, marking a 610 bps increase. Production has hit the highest levels since October 2004, and employment hit the highest level in more than 5 years.
Sure, it's just Chicago. But the Chicago PMI is seen as a barometer for the whole nation. Because that's the Chicago way!

China In The News (Again), New Vatican Bank Rules, And First Time Jobless Claims

Looking to the global picture first, China is in the news[1]. They've released their Purchasing Managers Index, which dropped from 55.3% in November to 54.4% in December. Even though that's still considered to be an expansion in the marketing sector[2], this does indicate that manufacturing growth is slowing.
In further Chinese news, Jiang Yu has reiterated China's position that they are fully entitled to regulate the mining and exporting of their own nation's rare earth resources. "In the future, China will continue to supply rare earths to the international market and will take effective management steps over their export in accordance with WTO rules." Translated, this says "It's our stuff. It's in our nation. You don't like it? Wah."
Spinning round the globe to Europe, Italy reported a 0.4% increase in the PPI for November (putting it up 60 bps, and at 4.1% for the rolling year). That's not great news for one of the PIIGS, since it's a pretty good indicator that CPI will be going up over the next month or so.
European share trading in general is down a little right now, mostly on declining energy stocks and concerns about the "euro zone debt crisis". Copper prices have hit a new high ($9550 per ton) on expectations of rising emerging nations demand, and US crude oil prices are still near a two-year high. The dollar, on the other hand, is dropping like a stone - everybody expects the Fed's quantitative easing program to churn out more US currency in 2011 - bringing it to a 20-year low against the Australian dollar, a seven-week low against the yen, and a six-month low against the yuan.
Also in European news, Pope Benedict XVI has signed off on new rules to bring the Vatican's banking regulations in line with EU banking regulations. Why? Because Rome prosecutors have put the director of the Vatican Bank[3] and his deputy under criminal investigation for possible money laundering, and have seized 23 million euros worth of Vatican deposits at an Italian commercial bank (which were allegedly deposited without proper identification of the depositor or the recipient). Also, they have until tomorrow to bring themselves into compliance with EU banking regulations[4].
Moving westward across the Atlantic, the United States is braced for the First Time Jobless Claims for the week of Christmas with baited breath. For the week ending 12/18, we had 420k claims. Analysts are expecting a mild Christmas miracle (possibly driven by a last-minute surge in seasonal employment) which will hopefully bring Christmas cheer and a drop in first time claims to "only" 415k. Looking at the report, we see that the actual claims were only 388k - far, far better than expected.
So why are the futures flat? A couple of reasons, really. Everyone is still waiting to see the Chicago PMI (analysts are expecting a mild contraction in the growth rate to 62%) and the Pending Home Sales Index (no consensus yet).
[1] Isn't it always, these days?
[2] Any result over 50% is considered to be a sign of an expanding sector.
[3] Officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion.
[4] The EU, applying the "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck" rule, is no longer accepting the Vatican's position that the Institute for Works of Religion is not technically a bank.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Energy Stocks and Broken Trust

Once again, energy stocks seem to be driving the market. We're wrapping up the day up (mildly): the Dow closed up 9.84, the NASDAQ closed up 4.05, and the S&P 500 closed up 1.27. Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobile all hit 52-week highs today (before pulling back) - mostly on the fact that crude oil prices are near a 2-year high (thank you, Fimbulvetr!).
But, whatever good may have come from the Fimbulvetr's impact on those oil prices is more than being offset by the impact the blizzard (and the ravening packs of lean, hungry wolves) is having on retail sales. ShopperTrak is showing a 4.1% year over year decline in Christmas week retail sales, and is estimating that the blizzard has postponed about $1 billion in retail spending.
On the other hand, the S&P 500 is up 6.7% for the month (rising in 17 of the last 20 sessions). The bad news is that volume has been extremely light, indicating that investors are waiting to see if this is just a Santa Claus rally, or if this is sustainable.
In California, Operation Broken Trust strikes again. Winifred Jiau has been charged with one count of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy for leaking inside information about multiple publicly traded companies from 2006 - 2006. If convicted, she faces up to 20 years in prison.

German CPI, Rare Earth Excitement, and Man v. Internet

There's just not a lot of market data due out today. Germany has reported its Consumer Price Index for the month of December, and the news is brutal. In November, consumer prices rose 0.1%. For December, they rose 90 bps to 1.0%. But the German economy can take comfort in the fact that the entire jump was driven by the almost irrelevant forces of home energy, motor fuel, and food. If you strip all of that out and look solely at core CPI, prices haven't changed at all![1]
The Swiss KoF Leading Indicators[2] dropped 2 bps to a 2.10%; not great news, but it still points to a reasonable amount of growth in the Swiss economy.
Everybody in the world that is not China[3] is now complaining about China's move yesterday to cut exports of rare earth minerals. The US Trade Representative's office is "very concerned" about the quota reductions. The EU is demanding that China "respect its recent assurance of a guarantee of rare earth supplies to Europe". On the other hand, everyone in the world that isn't China that has the ability to mine these rare earth minerals is ecstatic. Demand for these rare earths is set to increase by more than 125% in the next 5 years, so that's money in the bank for anyone that can supply them.
Speaking of money in the bank, Paul Allen[4] is suing the entire internet for patent infringement. His suit claims that Interval Research holds patents on how data is related to information being browsed, the way information is relayed to a computer screen in an unobtrusive manner, and the way web browsers are alerted to new items of interest based on the activity of other users. AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo! and YouTube are the major companies named in the suit, which asks for damages and a ban on products that use the disputed patents[5].
Apple is also getting sued, in what the law firm bringing the suit hopes will become a class action lawsuit, over privacy issues. It is alleged that Apple apps "leak" personally identifiable data, despite Apple's policy that only allows data sharing if an app requires the information to keep running. Google may also face a similar lawsuit.
The SEC is also getting involved in the internet, by looking into trading in privately-held internet companies (such as Facebook and Twitter). It appears that there are some online trading services that allow trading of unlisted Internet firms, and the SEC would like some information about how the shares are being valued, and whether or not this trading violates SEC rules[6]. So far, the probe is in the early stages.
[1] Yay?
[2] A composite of business surveys from the industrial, retail, and wholesale sectors, used to try to project GDP growth about 8 months into the future.
[3] Still not wanting to replace the US as the world's sole economic and military superpower.
[4] Co-founder of Microsoft and founder of Interval Research Corporation, a company you probably have not heard of.
[5] This would include Google's search engine, iTunes, AOL Instant Messenger, Apple's Dashboard, Google Talk, Google's Gmail Notifier, and Google's Android phone system, just to name a few things.
[6] Specifically, private companies must either have fewer than 500 shareholders or else publically disclose significant financial information.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Happened In The Market?

We had bad Case-Shiller and bad Consumer Confidence figures, and the markets still ended on the up side of mixed (Dow up 20.51, NASDAQ down 4.39, S&P 500 up 0.07). What happened?
Reuters, at least, gives the credit indirectly to the blizzard and directly to energy stocks being boosted by an increase in oil prices. Why the blizzard? It helped push oil prices near to a 26-month high (February oil futures were up $0.38 to $91.38 a barrel), and the rising oil prices helped push oil producers up in the markets.
I haven't seen the figures yet, but it wouldn't surprise me to see that commodities in general were either flat or down today - China announced that it will cut its export quotas for rare earth minerals[1] by 11.4%. This is a concern, because these elements are used in quite a bit of high-tech manufacturing[2], and because China produces something like 97% of these minerals. The EU, the United States, and Japan are particularly upset, and there is some possibility that the US will file a complaint with the World Trade Organization.
The Singapore Exchange is in the process of trying to take over the Australian Exchange to the tune of $8 billion US dollars. This is somewhat controversial in Australia, because their major exchange would become a subsidiary of the Singapore Exchange, and the government of Singapore owns 23.5% of the Singapore Exchange. As of December 15 the deal had been approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Now it just has to be approved by the Treasurer of Australia, pass through the Australian Parliament[3], and then be approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Investors are cautious.
[1] There's reasonable list available on Wikipedia.
[2] Wind turbines, hybrid cars, iPhones, flat screen TVs, and anything else that has a use for magnetism, luminescence, and strength.
[3] Which seems to be of the opinion that the merger is "fanatical marketism that is taking away our sovereign right to self determination"

Consumer Confidence Keeps On Slipping, Slipping, Slipping...

Consumer confidence is out.  Last month it came in at 54.1% (an increase), and analysts were expecting it to rise even further to 57.4%.  And did it?  No, not really.  The index actually fell180 bps to 52.5%, with the Present Situation Index dropping 200 bps to 23.5% and the Expectations Index dropping 170 bps to 73.6%.  Not such good news for December.

French GDP, Swiss Consumption, and the Case-Shiller HPI

Leaving Japan behind, we cast our eyes westward towards Europe and the United States. France reported its final revision for Q3 GDP, showing that it softened slightly in the third quarter (growing only 0.3%), with year over year growth remaining unchanged at 1.7%. UBS released its (Swiss) Consumption Index, showing growth in consumer spending decreasing 9 bps from October's 1.72% to November's 1.63%.
Also from Europe, Yves Mersch is now on record as saying that "the recent European proposals for reform of the economic governance of the euro area go in the right direction, but are not ambitious enough to ensure a healthy and efficient functioning of monetary union." He would like to see faster responses to excessive deficits, with automatic sanctions applied early. And why should anyone care what Yves Mersch says? Because he's on the Governing council of the European Central Bank, making him a voice that will be heard as debate about the future of the euro and the European Union continues.
Arriving in the howling arctic wastes that were once the eastern seaboard of the United States of America, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index is out. The 10-City Composite increased (barely) 0.2% while the 20-City Composite fell 0.8%, and home prices fell in all 20 metropolitan areas covered by the index.
Also in US news, the winter of our (fiscal) discontent is not made glorious summer by this son of Chicago. Not only do we not have a 2011 federal budget[1], now it has been announced that delivery of a FY 2012 budget will be delayed until around February 21. Mostly because the confirmation of the President's budget director wasn't finalized until November 18, and it takes a while to put a budget together.
Next up? Consumer confidence, in about half an hour.
[1] Blame for that can go to the Congress, though.

Turning Japanese

Japan reported a massive load of economic data last night, enough that I'm not even going to play the "this is what was expected and this is what we got" game. Brace yourselves for a data dump.
CPI was nothing short of spectacular, falling 70 bps from 0.4% in October to -0.3% in November (and probably fueling deflationary fears). Core CPI fell 90 bps from 0.7% in October to -0.2% in November.
Household spending for a rolling twelve month period continued a downward trend. It was at -0.4% from October 2009 to October 2010, and was down another 0.4% from November 2009 to November 2010. Most of that drop was driven by clothing (down 7.8%), medical care (down 6.7%) and food (down 2.8%), balanced slightly by increases in spending on culture & recreation (up 14.9%) and housing (up 13.3%).
Unemployment stayed level from October to November, at 5.1%.
Industrial production increased 280 bps from October to November, climbing from -1.8% to 1.0% (that's rate of change; October saw production fall 1.8%, while November saw it rise 1.0%). The rolling year production rate increased as well, from 4.5% to 5.8%.
Retail sales climbed 150 bps, from the October year-over-year -0.2% to the November year-over-year 1.3%. I don't quite follow how household spending and the CPI can both decrease, only to see retail sales climb, but that's what happened.
Overall, the news was mixed. The Nikkei 225 seems to reflect that, with Bloomberg showing it closing down 0.61%,

Monday, December 27, 2010

Trading In A Winter Wonderland. Sorta. More Or Less.

Stock performance on Wall Street was mixed today (the Dow was down 18.46, the NASDAQ was up 1.67, the S&P 500 up 0.77, and the 10 Year Treasury Yield Index down 0.42), with blame being placed squarely on God and China.
God gets the blame because of a series of blizzards that have brought the Fimbulvetr[1] to the eastern coast of Canada and the United States. It's cancelled over 2000 flights, disrupted road and rail traffic, left tens of thousands of homes across the eastern seaboard without power, and - worst of all - threw a monkey wrench in the post-Christmas holiday sales. Yes, that's right. This massive blizzard could "push December 26 out of the running for one of the top 10 shopping days of the year." Sure puts that whole blizzard in perspective, doesn't it?
And China[2]? Well, they get the blame because - in what is obviously a Communist plot[3] - went and raised their benchmark lending rate and their benchmark deposit rate by 25 basis points each. Never mind that the Chinese central bank has been concerned about inflation, and so is taking steps to reign it in and keep their economy healthy. No, this was obviously a Communist plot deliberately timed to strike our economy at the same time as the blizzard[4].
Of course, things happened throughout the world without regard to the blizzard. Let's see what else is going on.
H&R Block was down 7% today on news that, thanks to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, they will not be allowed to offer tax refund anticipation loans. (Well, specifically, HSSBC can't offer them, and H&R Block uses HSBC.)
18 alleged militants were killed by missiles fired by US drones at the Mir Ali village in Pakistan. The people of Pakistan are not particularly amused.
Anyone remember AIG? Practically the poster child for the 2008 financial collapse? Something like 30 banks have banded together under the administration of JPMorgan Chase & Co to loan them $4.3 billion. That's "billion". With a "b". Assuming they can pay off their Federal Reserve Bank of New York credit line ($20 billion) by March 31.
Also, according to the European Union Times, it appears that WikiLeaks is set to reveal that the United States has been in a covert war against Antarctican UFOs since 2004.
[1] "Hard is it on earth, with mighty whoredom;
"Axe-time, sword-time, shields are sundered,
"Wind-time, wolf-time, ere the world falls,
"Nor ever shall men each other spare" sure seems to describe the current state of the economy.
[2] Still not wanting to replace the United States as the single dominant economic and military superpower in the world.
[3] Obviously.