Tuesday, February 3, 2009

News Scan - Early February, 2009

(1) It's true, California is broke and you can't have your tax return. I had seen things about that floating around, but it's really pretty mind blowing. I'm relying on my tax return this year to apply as a lump sum to my student loans and although I could live without it, I can't imagine the government saying "uh, we're a little short..."

Is this an Onion article? Nope, just 2009, first quarter.

(2) I really think the canary in the coal mine is Starbucks. I've been following the Starbucks trajectory for the past couple of years - from the image problems to the store closings to the product flounders, mixed in with certain successes and surprising resilience. The bearer of the $4 latte is symbolic, even more so than the $400 purse, as Middle Class Luxury.

(3) The economic forecasters (who have realized they were starting to look a little like Miss Cleo of television psychic hotline fame) have slowed down production rates. Without dissecting whether or not economics are accurate at all, though The Economist has taken to making it known whenever they're accurate lately, what may be reasonable is: today's economics require knowledge we don't have and more leeway for human behavior, not just consumer behavior.

If you were a wall street firm who was seeking a bailout, would you give heavy bonuses? There's been too much operation under the assumption that there's an endpoint to greed. You can gauge sub-prime mortgage sales and Ponzi schemes, at least in retrospect, easier than the wide breadth of dishonesty that has become normal.

To many immigrants this is probably all too familiar. A corrupt class with preferential access to resources takes as much as they can creating, and during, a "crisis." The difference is that at this moment North America has some semblance of public representation to intervene and hold people accountable. Beyond watch-dog institutions, there should be legislation passed alongside stimulus packages to make white collar corruption at least temporarily par with blue collar robbery. The government can create employment by hiring some of those forlorn bankers to form investigative branches that work directly with law enforcement.

Hey, it's just a modest proposal.

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