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Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Lull Between the Holidays

Yes, some of that money you spent during the Christmas shopping season was wasted - cash down the drain. And yes, you did have a few too many and played the drunken fool at the family Christmas party. But now the ripped wrapping paper and leftovers have been cleared away and things are relatively calm, until New Years Eve. So how should you spend the lull?


  1. RECESSION: According to the Economic Cycle Research Institute, 7 out of 10 Americans now believe that we are or soon will be in a recession (and economists will tell you, expectations tend to lead the economic cycle). The leading home price indicator is at a 6-year low, consumer confidence is dropping and oil prices are hanging in there in the $90+/barrel range (at $97/barrel this morning). We have just completed the 6th year of economic expansion; this is longer than the average growth cycle since the end of World War II. I think 2008 will be a down year. Mr. G sez, "Buckle up, people, it is going to be a bumpy ride."
  2. PAKISTAN: Some nutjob just killed Benazir Bhutto. This nation is absolutely chaotic. David Andelman wrote an interesting piece for on the mess in Pakistan. It is a long-standing quagmire and the U.S. continues to sink deeper. Money quote from Mr. Anderson: "America's experience in Pakistan, and in scores of other countries around the world, has demonstrated one critical reality. At one point in the trajectory of any dictator, you own him. At another point, he owns you. We've reached that point now with Gen. Musharraf. There's a good chance that Benazir Bhutto might have been able to break this cycle. Now, however, Gen. Musharraf has an excellent excuse to postpone or cancel elections he was no doubt little interested in holding in the first place." So we have nuclear-armed nation on the brink of civil war/state collapse. Wooo! This is a real-world horror show. Many terrible things could happen. So are ya worried yet?
  3. Global Warming Confuddlement: Al Gore has declared that catastrophic climate change is "imminent," that it is "an emergency," folks claim that the Artic summer icepack could be gone in a generation or so. This is my favorite free-floating worry. When I hear people speaking of "global warming" in passionate tones, I get the same feeling I get when the Jehovah's Witnesses come to my door - THERE IS ONLY ONE TRUE BELIEF!! But Wait!!! The New Statesman, a Brit Socialist magazine, just printed an article by the BBC's science correspondent stating that the temperatures from 2001 through 2007 have been statistically the same - no warming for the past six years! Eh? A statistical blip? CO2 levels have been marching up every year but not the temps? Now I am completely confuddled.

I could go on, but I won't. Three enormous problems that I can't control is enough to carry me through the New Year holiday.......

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