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    Daily Digest – Apr 15

    by Davos

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009, 2:51 PM

  • Oregon Unemployment Rate Ties Record High in 60+ Years
  • Massive debt issuance in the U.S. and elsewhere
  • The Fake Recovery
  • New Ways to Shop
  • Cash In A Mattress? No, Gold In The Closet (H/T Jrf29)
  • Summers: Living Large and in Charge (H/T CM)
  • Obama believes in the Easter Bunny (H/T CM)
  • New Baseball Fields and (Empty) Corporate Boxes (Photos)
  • Retail Sales plunge surprises WSJ (Chart on page)
  • You Can’t Predict Inflation, But You Can Be Ready!
  • John Dizard: Geithner’s and Citi’s Days Numbered
  • Solar Water Distiller (H/T CM)

Economy

Oregon Unemployment Rate Ties Record High in 60+ Years

This graph is from Oregon’s Employment Situation: March 2009 and shows the Oregon unemployment rate since Jan 2000.

The unemployment rate is at the peak level of the 1982 recession – the highest since record keeping started in 1947. The unemployment rate is increasing rapidly, and the rate of increase appears to be accelerating.

Massive debt issuance in the U.S. and elsewhere

You should note that Marc’s comments mean that any dollar weakness from excessive debt and a weak economy will not necessarily be manifest in currency markets but might appear in commodity markets. This is one reason the dollar, which I see as a weak currency longer-term, is holding its own.

The Fake Recovery

Why ‘Fake’? This is a fake recovery because the underlying systemic issues in the financial sector are being papered over through various mechanisms designed to surreptitiously recapitalize banks while monetary and fiscal stimulus induces a rebound before many banks’ inherent insolvency becomes a problem. This means the banking system will remain weak even after recovery takes hold. The likely result of the weak system will be a relapse into a depression-like circumstances once the temporary salve of stimulus has worn off. Note that this does not preclude stocks from large rallies or a new bull market from forming because as unsustainable as the recovery may be, it will be a recovery nonetheless.

New Ways to Shop

Food auctions are a growing hit in communities slammed by recession and layoffs.

Cash In A Mattress? No, Gold In The Closet (H/T Jrf29)

There’s the rub. In the event of global collapse and inflation, in a world in which paper currency is worthless, what good will gold actually do? How do you take your gold bar to the 7-Eleven and buy a gallon of milk? Mark Albarian, chief executive of Santa Monica, California based Goldline, says that when dollars are worthless, a gold bar will buy a whole lot of dollars, which you can then use to go buy milk. "We buy gold in case the unimaginable happens," he says. James Turk, who runs a company called GoldMoney, takes this doomsday scene one step further: in a financial calamity, entrepreneurs will emerge who will melt and mold your gold into coins or exchange it for a currency that does have value.

Summers: Living Large and in Charge (H/T CM)

Not surprisingly, Lawrence Summers is convinced that he deserved every penny of the $8 million that Wall Street firms paid him last year. And why shouldn’t he be cut in on the loot from the loopholes in the toxic derivatives market that he pushed into law when he was Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary? No one has been more persistently effective in paving the way for the financial swindles that enriched the titans of finance while impoverishing the rest of the world than the man who is now the top economic adviser to President Obama.

Obama believes in the Easter Bunny (H/T CM)

President Barack Obama declared Friday that the slumping economy has begun to show "glimmers of hope," but cautioned that it remains severely stressed and will require lots more work to turn it around.

New Baseball Fields and (Empty) Corporate Boxes (Photos)

Retail Sales plunge surprises WSJ (Chart on page)

 

WSJ reports:U.S. retail sales unexpectedly plunged during March in a broad-based decrease that threw a shadow over recent signs of improvement in the slumping economy. Retail sales decreased by 1.1% compared to the prior month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Economists expected an increase of 0.3%.

You Can’t Predict Inflation, But You Can Be Ready!

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is siding with John Maynard Keynes against Milton Friedman by flooding the financial system with money. If history is any guide, says Allan Meltzer, the effort will end in tears. Inflation "will get higher than it was in the 1970s," says Meltzer, the Fed historian and professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

John Dizard: Geithner’s and Citi’s Days Numbered

Yves here. Geithner has given lip service before Congress to being able to put big banks in receivership, but I have seen nada in the way of concrete steps to make that happen. Back to the article:

The key problem is this: if the cash the FDIC uses for big bank resolutions really is a loan from the Treasury, then it will have to be repaid with a usurious assessment on the rest of the insured banks. That would not leave sufficient operating cash flow, or capital accumulation, for the banks to finance recovery. So the loan must turn into an equity capital contribution from the taxpayers.

Energy

Solar Water Distiller (H/T CM)

Solar Stills operate on the same principles that produce rainfall. The sun is allowed into and trapped in the Still. The high temperatures produced destroy all pathogens. The water evaporates, and in this process, only pure water vapor rises in the Still, only to condense on the glass. The glass is sloped to the south, and the condensed water runs down the glass and is collected in a trough. The water is allowed out of the collector through silicone tubing, and is collected in 5 gallon glass jugs. There are no moving parts in the solar still, and only the sun’s energy is required for operation.

The design of the our Solar Still began with many hours spent researching previous designs, successes and failures. Our goal for the Still project was to design and develop plans for a Still which could be replicated using "off the shelf" materials.

We designed a still which is easy to replicate, using standard building materials, of which 95% are available "off the shelf". The exterior materials were chosen for their ability to withstand our desert climate with minimal maintenance. The still produces an average of 3 gallons per day in the summer months. Winter production is expected to be 1/2 that amount. The Solar Still can utilize a standard size patio glass replacement, 34"X76". The material costs per still are approximately $150.

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