Friday, June 04, 2010

Thoughts & links

In part to get me writing more regularly, I am going to try putting out a daily collection of thoughts and links. I come across a lot of stuff worth sharing and commenting on. The discipline will also be to keep these pieces short. I hope you find them worthwhile—and don’t hesitate to comment, including sharing your own discoveries.

The monthly government jobs report released this morning was, in nearly everyone’s judgment, a big disappointment. Everyone, it seems, except for the President. The raw numbers were mediocre but what made them much worse was the news that 95% of the modest increase was due to temporary Census Bureau hiring (these jobs will typically last about two months). President Obama was on the air shortly after the announcement to trumpet them as evidence of the economy’s recovery. Obviously he knew in advance how bad the report would be and decided to try to spin the story. It didn’t work and the DOW dropped more than 3% to again close below 10,000. I don’t know what Obama is trying to do with a stunt like this. The signs are growing steadily that the recovery (such as it is) is stalling and economic growth could well turn negative in the fall or winter. Pretending otherwise makes appear foolish or trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Tell the truth, Mr President. Any else will only turn around to bite you.

The DOW’s hiccup today was a response to a number of economic warning signs. The euro fell below $1.20 for the first time in four years as Europe’s credit crisis continues. Today’s new wrinkle was a statement by a Hungarian official that the possibility of his country’s default “isn’t an exaggeration.” Bottom line: most of the poorer, peripheral EU countries are in hock up to their ears to the banks of the stronger central countries, notably Germany and France. And like their Wall Street counterparts, they also are TBTF.

This morning Huffington Post’s front page was dominated by a huge, grotesque picture of a sea bird covered in oil. I'll spare you the sight but it and a collection of such pictures can be found here. Pathetic and sickening but a statement of the price of this catastrophe. Meanwhile, the oil keeps flowing.

I am playing hooky from my church synod assembly (convention) today and tomorrow. My congregation cut the budget line for such meetings this year and I couldn’t justify to myself spending $165 for this gathering. How can I be charged to attend a legislative meeting to which I am a delegate and at which my presence is supposedly required? One more sign what a weird organization my church has become.

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