FUN

MoveOn.org sent its list this 60-second quiz, wherein you get five chances to show you know the difference between President Bush and Senator McCain. It’s fun! See how you do!

(For those willing to enter a real – or fake – email, there’s an equally interesting 60-second bonus round, followed by an even quicker ‘carrot round.’)

EDY’S TANGERINE FROZEN FRUIT BAR

Summer is coming and I think it’s important that you know about Edy’s Tangerine Frozen Fruit Bars. They are so tangy and sweet! So cold and refreshing! And here’s the thing: You can have one . . . and then a few minutes later, another. And then ANOTHER! And – I know this to be true because I just did it – ANOTHER. And because they’re only 80 calories each and no fat, you’re still way ahead of where you’d have been eating just half a slice of cheesecake.

Life is good.

Now take that quiz.

NOT FUN

John Mauldin (no radical) explains how they manipulated the numbers to show a sliver of growth the last two quarters when in fact there were slight declines. So, yes, by the most common definition (two consecutive quarters of negative growth), we’re in a recession. And, he explains, the economy in April lost closer to 300,000 jobs than the reported 20,000 – as will be confirmed when the numbers are eventually revised.

If you don’t believe these assertions, I think you will after you read his explanation.

He goes on to make the case for looming sharp hikes in the price of meat and chicken (the price of corn is no longer – what is the idiom? – chickenfeed).

It is not a pretty picture.

Our SUVs continuously convert our wealth into pollution, burning a blend of oil (that we buy from the Saudis, more or less, with money we borrow from the Chinese) and corn (that would otherwise go to feed the chickens).

With $6-a-bushel corn (for decades, it was around $2), those chickens cost more to feed. The feed itself costs more to transport to the chickens (because fuel prices have risen). The chickens cost more to transport to your local KFC (because fuel prices have risen). Your KFC costs more to heat, light, and cool (because fuel prices have risen).

If the price of every physical thing is rising because of higher fuel costs, then inflation – and long-term interest rates – might be expected to rise also. This is not good news for the housing market. Or the stock market.

But if you’re a CEO making 433 times as much as his average employee (up from 40 times as much in 1980 and just 24 times as much in 1965) . . . or a Senator who owns a bunch of houses (John and Cindy McCain own eight or nine) . . . or a hedge fund manager whose multi-million-dollar performance bonuses are taxed at 15% (because the Republicans blocked a move to tax them as ordinary income), you should weather all this just fine.

(Even so, take that quiz.)

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