“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 2009

Imports dive at ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

In another sign of how deep the global recession has become, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Friday reported their worst combined import statistics for September in nine years.

As dismal as those figures are for the two ports, which rank first and second in the U.S. in container volume and together rank fifth in the world, a greater worry goes beyond the immediate and substantial loss of local trade-related jobs: Some of the ports' most important tenants were so poorly positioned for the downturn that they might sink completely in a sea of billions of dollars of red ink, experts say.

"Without a doubt, the Southern California ports should be worried," said Neil Dekker, an analyst at Drewry Shipping Consultants in London who produces container industry forecasts. "Companies will go bust; freight rates may take years to recover."

The outlook could hardly be more ominous, said John Husing, an independent analyst with Economics and Politics Inc. in Redlands who follows the effects of global trade on the Inland Empire.
22% of prime loans in Florida are overdue
For prime loans, 5.35% of loans were past due or in foreclosure in the latest quarter. For subprime, the rate was about 30%.

In the latest quarter, 2.75% of all loans were in the foreclosure process, up from 1.40% a year earlier.

Among loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, 14.87% were overdue or in foreclosure, up from 14.73% a year earlier. The portion of FHA loans going bad is likely to increase in the quarters ahead because of a surge in new loans insured by the federal agency.

The share of new mortgages insured by the FHA leaped to 23% in July from a low of 1.8% in 2006, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a trade publication. Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, said the FHA's share might reach 30% by year end. The FHA is taking a far bigger share of the market because investors last year began shying away from buying mortgage securities that don't have backing from a federal agency or from government-sponsored mortgage investors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie and Freddie recently have become more cautious about buying or guaranteeing mortgages because default-related losses have depleted their capital.
US Bank Failures for 2009: 99 as of October 16

Expected Cost to Bailout the FDIC: around $70 billion through 2013.

August Unemployment Numbers Rise
Nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline in September (-263,000), and the unemployment rate (9.8 percent) continued to trend up, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The largest job losses were in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, and government. Household Survey Data Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 7.6 million to 15.1 million, and the unemployment rate has doubled to 9.8 percent. (See table A-1.) Unemployment rates for the major worker groups--adult men (10.3 percent), adult women (7.8 percent), teenagers (25.9 percent), whites (9.0 percent), blacks (15.4 percent), and Hispanics (12.7 percent)--showed little change in September. The unemployment rate for Asians was 7.4 percent, not seasonally adjusted. The rates for all major worker groups are much higher than at the start of the recession. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

Federal Deficit Hits Record: $1.42 trillion
The federal budget deficit has surged to an all-time high of $1.42 trillion as the recession caused tax revenues to plunge while the government was spending massive amounts to stabilize the financial system and jump-start the economy.

The imbalance for the budget year — which ended Sept. 30 — more than tripled last year's record. The Obama administration projects deficits will total $9.1 trillion over the next decade unless corrective action is taken.

As a portion of the economy, the budget deficit stood at 10 percent, the highest since World War II, according to government data released Friday.


  1. The imbalance for the budget year — which ended Sept. 30 — more than tripled last year's record. The Obama administration projects deficits will total $9.1 trillion over the next decade unless corrective action is taken.

    Taxes and fees, taxes and fees, taxes and fees.

  2. Is the Stock Market the next bubble?

  3. next...errr, current bubble - GOLD! How high will she go??

  4. It may end up that we have to do the whole "Depression - World War" thing, again.

    The problem is, the interests of the "Moneyed, and Powerful" are, once again, at loggerheads with the interests of the "Country."

    Such a condition can't last. It's usually resolved by total collapse of the financial system. We avoided that (or, put it off) This time; but, I'm afraid it's going to reassert itself PDQ.

  5. The biggest issue is the trade deficit. You can't continue to run the kind of trade deficits we've run, decade after decade, and stay solvent.

    Related, is foreign adventurism. Sometimes you Must go forth, and protect your interests. But, eventually, foreign wars, if not brought to an end, will destroy your economy. Iraq, one could make the case, was necessary. However, Hundreds of thousands of troops fighting on foreign soil for no reward, must Eventually come to an end.

    I'm concerned.

  6. More State Department muddling.

    Backsliding in Honduras

    Interesting to note that while State Department lawyers refuse to call Zelaya's ouster a miltary coup, Time has no problem labelling it as such.

  7. It's too late to worry. The time for that was some years ago when some of us were worried but were reassured by regulars - Don't worry; be happy.

  8. Now, having said all that, we Are doing "some" things, right. Ethanol production is up to 11,862,000,000 Gallons, Annually.

    And, we are, slowly, but inexorably, moving toward "commercial" cellulosic production.

    The "Series" Hybrids (think: Chevy Volt) will, quite likely, be Gamechangers.)

    "Peak Oil" just might, as strange as it sounds, save our ass.

  9. As China goes on a buying spree of commodities and the dollar weakens, the cost of copper, gold and other commodities have risen in some cases more than double from a year ago..

    all the while the dollar lost about 14% since last year and now sits at a low not seen for a while.

    The weakened dollar does help USA exports and takes about 40% of the yuan's undervalue out, thus helping correct china's export miracle down to more realistic values.. The yuan is still undervalued and needs to be "appreciated" by another hugh chunk..

    If and when this happens? China will no longer be able to dominate the world as the "cheap exporter of choice"... This restructuring will infact throw a wet blanket on china's expansion on many fronts...

    cant have it both ways...

    but as a negative the dollar is not fairing well with international traders as it is being over printed and doesnt pay out good returns...

    reagan devalued the dollar against the yen back in the 80's and a boom went thru American heavy machinery makers... (catapiller comes to mind)

    if only we coupled the declining dollar with an aggressive oil drilling program, we could INTERNALIZE billions of dollars that we now import on a daily basis...

  10. Amazing.

    So, why are oil prices going up?

    AND because the dollar is weaker

  11. next...errr, current bubble - GOLD! How high will she go??

    I have wondered the same thing.

    I'm also wondering about silver.

    I don't have an ounce of silver or gold in my non existent portfolio, which covers the downside risk, but I am wondering about the ratio between these two commodities these days.

    Anybody got any info?


    Idaho clobbered Hawaii.

    Take that, al-Doug!

  12. Gold is about half what it's peak price would be in constant dollars.

  13. Puhleeze, while the Dollar has fallen by 7, or 8% since February, Oil has Gone Up Over 100%.

    While the relationship is "Synergistic," the Dollar, mostly, FOLLOWS the price of Oil. Not, vice versus.

  14. allen said...
    It's too late to worry. The time for that was some years ago when some of us were worried but were reassured by regulars - Don't worry; be happy.

    Sun Oct 18, 12:05:00 PM EDT

    That's what I am worried about.

    The world may explode.

    Really might.

    Then what do I do?

  15. I remember trying to change my dollars to yen in Sasebo in 1986 and the bank teller and her manager looked at me like I just handed them a bag of burning dog poop.

  16. I like Gold. I've thought about buying some.

    Silver doesn't have the industrial uses it once had. I wouldn't get too carried away about long-term "ratios."

  17. That's interesting, T. Any idea as to the reason for that?

  18. Then of course, my Lady Lawyer has a real interest, and my Mr. Engineer has a real interest, in having a solvent real well paying client.

    There are more than six sides to this cube.

  19. Hell I don't know what to do.

    It's hunting season, I have a license, we did that in the past.

  20. Because at that exact moment, the dollar was declining precipitously against the Yen, and they didn't want to hold it for an instant. But being Taoist, I know that prices go up and down all the time, just like the days get longer and shorter, hotter and colder.

  21. I think the safest bet from the domestic point of view is, just let the wife make the decision.

    After all, it looks like a toss up, and this way I will have covered my domestic ass.

  22. Taxes and fees, taxes and fees, taxes and fees.

    Why sure, whit.

    There is no other proposal on the table. No calls for cutting Government services or overseas adventures.

    No calls for expediting the US departure from Iraq, as a budgetary necessity.

    Except from Ron Paul.

    No one is talking about closing the Department of Education.

    Going to have to pay for services rendered, the credit card has yet to be declined.

    They're betting it will not be.

  23. rat states about the US Government:

    Going to have to pay for services rendered, the credit card has yet to be declined.

    They're betting it will not be.

    I bet you're correct... All the MORE reason to get out any debt that I hold asap...

    It's a clusterfuck world about to happen...

  24. like i have said...

    the mossad is in iran already

    they dont DO suicide bombings...

    they DO:

    Asreno reporting an explosion close to the Oil Ministry Bldg on Taleghan St. No other N- agencies reporting yet

    Per Asreno eyewitness reports security forces have surrounded the area & 2 known injured

    The central Tehran explosion is only reported on Asreno site so far, no other news agencies R reporting

  25. rat wrote:

    "No calls for expediting the US departure from Iraq, as a budgetary necessity.

    Except from Ron Paul."

    Didn't good ole Ralph Nadar pound that drum? Well, maybe not the budgetary side of things but waaay back in time in the race against Kerry and Bush he was saying "Get out of Iraq immediately."

  26. Peace may come to the world when Allen, Bob, Rat and WiO quit arguing.

    Rat made a comment on an earlier thread about how he felt 'God' was within, not without.

    I think this was a good statement, but the whole issue becomes confusing.

    A judgement, for instance, seems to come from without, but it gets confusing.

    Whence conscience?

    Conscience seems the ability to distinquich between 'right' and 'wrong'.

    But does this come from 'within', or is it somehow imposed from 'without'? This sense of right and wrong.

    We all have it to some extent, maybe we should try to examine this meaning and this feeling, what it is, where it comes from, just exactly what it is.

    Maybe the Jewish folks are the tradition that has taken 'conscience' and objetivized it.

    Certainly not preching, just wondering....

  27. The east may have a different feeling about 'conscience' saying it is both within and without, and that it grows as a spiritual being makes spiritual progress, conscience being a true part of the world, out there, but becoming more in here as we grow spiritually.

  28. So, we may have three traditions, within, without and both.

  29. Anon,

    Jews rely on law for guidance. Law leads to science and a rational method for observing the world.

    As Franklin correctly observed (something which with Chris Hitchens, Leon Trotsky, Mother Teresea and Ronald Reagan would probably concur), the conscience is too easily manipulated by self-interest, self-indulgence, ignorance and stupidity to be a reliable guide for conduct.

  30. Everything is unstable with the global financial issues/crisis. Everything is at sake and everything is not safe. This issues are really getting on my nerves.