Saturday, November 29, 2008

NEWS ROUNDUP, NOVEMBER 29, 2008

- The Next Big Bailout? Keep your eyeballs on the impending credit
card market crash. Lenders are tightening up offered credit, raising
interest rates, and offering fewer incentives. Mail offers to new and
existing customers are on pace to drop below 8.4 billion pieces.

An interesting thought about the above is the effect on fuel
consumption and global warming: assume each mailing is 1 ounce (very
conservative assumption), the reduced number above would represent one
half billion pounds (250,000 tons) less mail to be transported, with
related less fuel used, fewer emissions, etc. I say: right on!"

- And the bailout of banks? Seems like the Treasury stratigery is to
give money (uh, purchase shares) to the bigger, more solid banks that
don't really need it, in an effort, it seems, to encourage them to
acquire their weaker competitors - ah, free market capitalism. The
criteria are a mystery. Some banks that have not asked for bailout
money have been approached by Treasury and asked to apply for it, and
who can resist free money? Umpqua Bank of Oregon was approached, and
will be getting a quarter of a billion dollars, even though they don't
really need it. And Bank of America has just increased their share of
one of the major banks in China (owned by the Chinese government) to
about 20% - some analysts think this is a bit tacky after B of A
accepted big money from the bailout fund.

- Consumerism Gone Wild. The death by trampling of a Walmart employee
by a Black Friday sale-crazed mob in New York is difficult to
comprehend. These uber-consumers gave up Thanksgiving to wait in line
for the store to open early in the morning, and then broke through the
doors before the opening because they couldn't wait any longer. This
tragedy is a sad commentary on the values of many of our fellow
citizens, and another sad reminder that consumerism as we know it is
an illness that must be cured.

- The Tragedy in Mumbai. How can one make any sense of terrorism other
than to conclude that these are evil acts perpetrated by evil people.
We have perhaps become so desensitized to this now common form of
brutality that the "every day" bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan kind
of roll off our minds as just another one of those incidents. But the
magnitude, brazeness and cold calculated brutality of the Mumbai
terrorists shocks us into a recognition of the ugliness of the real
world. I intend to write soon about the aspects of the human species
that often lead me to conclude that Mother Nature made a fatal error
in the evolution of Homo sapiens.

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