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    Daily Digest – May 26

    by Davos

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009, 2:48 PM

  • US Dollar Redesign Project
  • Mythology of Bulls and Bears (Video)
  • Early retirement claims increase dramatically
  • The State Bird – (mechanical Crane) (Video)
  • NY Times: We’re All Subprime Now!
  • Geithner Blames Borrowers and more, but not Regulators for Bubble (Video)
  • Don’t panic: The psychology of emergency mass evacuation (PPT)
  • The Market is Rigged: Another Analyst (Video)
  • Foreclosures and Mosquito Hunters

Economy

US Dollar Redesign Project

The dollar may be going to hell, but that doesn’t mean it can’t look good doing so. Hence, the Dollar ReDe$ign Project, by Richard Smith.

Mythology of Bulls and Bears (Video)

Early retirement claims increase dramatically

Reporting from Washington — Instead of seeing older workers staying on the job longer as the economy has worsened, the Social Security system is reporting a major surge in early retirement claims that could have implications for the financial security of millions of baby boomers.

Since the current federal fiscal year began Oct. 1, claims have been running 25% ahead of last year, compared with the 15% increase that had been projected as the post-World War II generation reaches eligibility for early retirement, according to Stephen C. Goss, chief actuary for the Social Security Administration.

Clock ticks louder on Medicare and Social Security

Many of the additional retirements are probably laid-off workers who are claiming Social Security early, despite reduced benefits, because they are under immediate financial pressure, Goss and other analysts believe.

The numbers upend expectations that older Americans who sustained financial losses in the recession would work longer to rebuild their nest eggs. In a December poll sponsored by CareerBuilder, 60% of workers older than 60 said they planned to postpone retirement.

Goss said it remained unclear whether the uptick in retirements would accelerate or abate in the months ahead. But another wave of older workers may opt for early retirement when they exhaust unemployment benefits late this year or early in 2010, he noted.

The ramifications of the trend are profound for the new retirees, their families, the government and other social institutions that may be called upon to help support them.

The State Bird – (mechanical Crane) (Video)

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8EVJfl9lfY&feature=player_embedded]

NY Times: We’re All Subprime Now!

From Peter Goodman and Jack Healy at the NY Times: Job Losses Push Safer Mortgages to Foreclosure (ht shaun)

In the latest phase of the nation’s real estate disaster, the locus of trouble has shifted from subprime loans … to the far more numerous prime loans issued to those with decent financial histories…

…From November to February, the number of prime mortgages that were delinquent at least 90 days, were in foreclosure or had deteriorated to the point that the lender took possession of the home increased more than 473,000, exceeding 1.5 million, according to a New York Times analysis of data provided by First American CoreLogic, a real estate research group. Those loans totaled more than $224 billion.

During the same period, subprime mortgages in those three categories increased by fewer than 14,000, reaching 1.65 million. The number of similarly troubled Alt-A loans — those given to people with slightly tainted credit — rose 159,000, to 836,000.

Over all, more than four million loans worth $717 billion were in the three distressed categories in February, a jump of more than 60 percent in dollar terms compared with a year earlier.

Geithner Blames Borrowers and more, but not Regulators for Bubble (Video)

Don’t panic: The psychology of emergency mass evacuation (PPT)

Important! The biggest predictor of survival is time taken to recognize the emergency and move!

The "panic model" suggests that the crowd:

  • Is less intelligent than the lone individual
  • Will be driven by simple emotions
  • Responds with irrational behavior
  • Is a source of ‘contagion’

The Market is Rigged: Another Analyst (Video)

Foreclosures and Mosquito Hunters

From Carolyn Said at the SF Chronicle: Aerial hunter sniffs out mosquito-ridden pools

Last year, mosquito districts hired [Aerial Services of Livermore] to fly over almost every county in California. It covered 3,500 square miles – about one-third of the state’s urban area – and "harvested" 27,000 algae-ridden pools, providing the districts with photographs, maps, street addresses, latitude/longitude and parcel data, including ownership.

"We find lots of mosquito sources at foreclosed homes," said John Rusmisel, district manager for Alameda County’s Mosquito Abatement District. "It’s an ongoing and big problem."

This story isn’t new – but it is interesting:

[Bob Franklin] bought a Cessna plane with a 30-inch-wide hole in the bottom to mount a downward-facing camera. The hole is a $40,000 option, as it requires rerouting wires and making structural changes. … He wrote software for flight planning, camera control and specialized image processing.

I find it amusing that he got the idea for the business while towing an advertising banner for Circuit City.

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