Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Respite...of Sorts.

More evidence, as if we really needed it, (see yesterday's suddendebt blog entry) has arisen asserting that a recession is all but inevitable. While some of us have wondered how oil at 90+ dollars a barrel could manage to translate for so long into sub $3.00 dollar a gallon gas, as the sudden debt entry elucidates, those days are numbered. The fearsome pass through costs of vastly higher raw commodity prices that have heretofore been somewhat restrained are coming our way sooner rather than later, just in time, I imagine, to deleteriously effect the vital Christmas retail shopping season.

The silver lining is that we stand an excellent chance of seeing a cessation in the seemingly inexorable rise in crude prices as the U.S., and then the rest of the planet, experiences a massive economic contraction. Of course the reality of Peak Oil will put a floor under the price of crude oil, but where that floor will be is hard to say. If the all but certain economic contraction morphs into a severe recession or worse, the floor could easily be half again as low as it is presently. Yes, that's right, $45.00 dollar a barrel oil. Sounds cheap, doesn't it? Such a price would be a blessing of sorts, as it would present a last chance for certain gluttonous nations to re-fashion their energy infrastructure. Don't count on the unamed energy gluttons taking advantage of such an opportunity, however, as they are more likely to use the lower prices to return to business as usual and to hoard. Such is the nature of individuals and nations.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that today is Fed day. Will they or won't they, lower rates that is? To date, and to my knowledge, this question has never been asked about the prospect of The Fed raising rates. Funny that. I operate under the simple, but I hope not simplistic premise, that as the Fed does the bidding of its masters on Wall Street, not Main Street, that the Fed will administer the short term cost of the dollar lower. The only question is by how much? The consensus is a "safe" .25 point reduction in Fed funds. Why safe? Once again, the conventional wisdom would say a .25 point is enough to soothe the Wall Street crowd but not enough to send the dollar swirling the bowl. We'll see, but please know that it's a load of puffed up nonsense, since in truth cuts in the cost of short term borrowing can't even begin to address the massive insolvency that resides just below the fragile crust of the entire financial system, a system that in its toxic, bloated, condition, now manages to hold our entire economy, to the extent it hasn't become our entire economy, hostage.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hill's got the most bills....

On one of the blogs I visit regularly, sudden debt, the proprietor has bemoaned the financialization of presidential elections such that "even Presidential races have now been reduced to dollar figures?" I must admit that to me this seems something like old news, but I do suppose that a case can be made that where presidential elections are concerned, the "process' has somehow managed to become even more crass than ever. Then again...

I must admit I pay little attention to election year(s) goings on because my strong sense is that the entire process is a fraud. Each ghastly election cycle we are given the false sense that what we voters have before us represents meaningful choice. This is pish. While it is almost certainly the case that had Al Gore made it out of the vile clutches of the Supreme Court he would not have amounted to the same sort of catastrophe as George Bush, I still believe that the general state of the nation would be, give or take a few dozen democracy eroding signing statements, every bit as screwed up as it is under the epic cretin, Bush. But I digress from the precise issue which initiated this discussion, namely the financialization of presidential elections.

Suffice it to say the entire nature of Presidential politics could be radically changed for the better by simply making one significant alteration, that is shortening the election season by roughly two thirds. This would remove the death grip that money, especially big money, has on Presidential politics. But because we have about as flaccid a polity as can be imagined, and since, as Frederick Douglas observed, "power never relinquishes its grip voluntarily", it isn't going to happen.

Goodness, when I think of the capabilities of our modern electronic information apparatus coupled with the vacuousness of what is on offer from the majority of the candidates, there is absolutely no justification for the entire rigmarole of campaigns, debates, primaries, party conventions, (followed by more debates), and finally, mercifully, general elections, to last more than three months, tops. Does anyone disagree?