Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Final Score

Dow down 248 to 8,200, NASDAQ under now 1,500, S&P under now 850. Citigroup under the $5 mark again. Not a good day...and it's only Wednesday.

[UPDATE] And tomorrow is going to be bad too in after hours news, with Apple CEO Steve Jobs announcing he's going on a leave of absence for health reasons until June, and Treasury announcing they're having to front Bank of America billions more to cover their massive losses from buying Merrill Lynch.

Apple stock off 10%, BoA stock off 5%, trading at a 52-week low. We could end up under 8,000 again before the end of the week.

We Need More Enemies

If you were worried that with Obama around we'd have fewer enemies to worry about and would have to actually -- *gasp* -- cut our massive military budget or something terribly sensible like that, don't worry. It turns out the Joint Chiefs think we've got a nice little unstable government next door that we have to keep an eye on.
Mexico is one of two countries that "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse," according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats.

The command's "Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008)" report, which contains projections of global threats and potential next wars, puts Pakistan on the same level as Mexico. "In terms of worse-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.

"The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and press by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone."

That's right...Mexico's political instability is equal to that of Pakistan, apparently. The sound you're hearing is the ear-splitting moan of a thousand, thousand wingnuts fapping one-handed while simultaneously typing "BOMB MEXECO NOW11!!!1" with the other.

Maybe we can get those Minutemen dudes to go on cross-border raids. I'm sure the Mexican Army will appreciate it.

I wonder where those Mexican "narcoterrorists" keep getting their money from, anyway? Here's a hint: illegal drugs fetch a high price.

In all seriousness, invade Mexico? Mexico is Pakistan? Really? I mean shit, if we'll invade some country 6,000 miles away for oil, what about the one with oil six miles away?

Dear America:

"Will Obama do the right thing on Israel, or like I expect him to do will he surrender the Jewish state to the Beturbaned Brown Horde like the blood-drinking liberal terrorists in his party want him to do? Gosh, I'm not sure...and that alone should scare the hell out of you."

--Irwin Stelzer, The Telegraph

Bonus Dear America:

"The only way Gazans will embrace Western Democracy is for Israel to kill their democratically elected leaders and install a puppet government at gunpoint. Palestinians should be friggin' grateful for our help on this matter."

--Jeffrey Goldberg, NY Times

The 2009 Rally!

That 2009 Dow rally people were very excited about last week with the index reaching OVER NINE THOUSAAAAND has died quicker than the ratings of the last season of Moonlighting. For those of you keeping score at home, the Dow has lost nearly 600 points since January 6, and is down 300 here just today on that dismal December Retail Sales report.

So yeah, if that number holds we'll be down nearly 10% on the year in the second week of January.

Enjoy. It'll only get worse.

Cleaning Up After The Old Boss

The House at least continues to eagerly pass legislation that Bush vetoed over the last couple years in anticipation of Obama taking over next week. First it was the Ledbetter/Fair Play Act, and this week it's SCHIP that's back on the table.
The House is poised to give Barack Obama a quick legislative victory by approving a bill to expand a health insurance program for children, making a down payment on the president-elect's promise to provide coverage to every child in the country.

The bill, scheduled for a vote today, would expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, a popular initiative created during the Clinton administration that helps children living at or near the poverty line who fall outside the Medicaid system.

The House bill carries an estimated cost of $33 billion over 4 1/2 years and would extend coverage to an additional 4.1 million children, on top of the 7 million who are currently enrolled. It would be paid for primarily through a 61-cent-per-pack increase in the federal cigarette tax.

In 2007, President Bush twice vetoed similar legislation, objecting to its broader reach and its reliance on the tobacco tax hike. Bush's unwavering position was cheered by conservatives but caused political problems in 2008 for Republican candidates in more moderate states and districts.

Obama vowed as a candidate that one of his first acts in the White House would be to sign the long-stalled bill. It will not be ready on Inauguration Day, but congressional leaders hope to complete work well before the program's March 31 expiration date.

Republicans tried everything to kill this, ending in a pair of Bush vetoes that only made the GOP look more and more like a bunch of greedy assholes than usual. Cigarette taxes versus health care for all American kids? No brainer there.

It's nice being able to get this stuff done and passed, instead of turning everything into a two-year plus Very Special Episode of The West Wing.

Tanks A Lot, Guys

Holiday retail sales numbers are in from the Commerce department, and they're pretty dismal.
Sales at U.S. retailers fell at a steeper-than-expected rate in December, government data showed on Wednesday, as a deteriorating economic environment forced consumers to cut back on spending during the key holiday period.

The Commerce Department said total retail sales fell 2.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted $343.2 billion last month following a revised 2.1 percent drop in November, previously reported as a 1.8 percent decline.

December's drop was the biggest since October last year when sales fell 3.4 percent. For the whole of 2008, sales eased 0.1 percent, the department said.

Excluding motor vehicles and parts, sales were down a record 3.1 percent after a revised 2.5 percent decline in November, previously reported as a 1.6 percent drop, the department said. Total sales, excluding autos, rose 3.0 percent in 2008.

Needless to say, that level of precipitous drop in retail sales during the three busiest shopping months of the year all but guarantees a bloodbath in the retail industry in 2009.

A lot of people are about to lose their jobs as stores will go under during the year in 2009. Count on it. Dow immediately opened up down 150 or so on this news, and it's going to get worse.


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