Monday, May 19, 2008

Whatever Happened To Iraq?


Lost in the domestic economic issues is the war in Iraq. It gets passing mention now and then, but aside from John McCain, few are saying much.

For example, here are the current "World" items from Google:

Top Stories
Sirens, horns wail across China as country mourns earthquake victims - International Herald Tribune
AP BEIJING: Construction workers put down their tools, drivers stopped suddenly in the street, and rescuers briefly paused in their increasingly vain search for survivors amid the rubble of China's earthquake devastation.
Myanmar to let Asean neighbors help to coordinate aid - International Herald Tribune
By Seth Mydans BANGKOK: Myanmar agreed Monday to let its Southeast Asian neighbors help coordinate foreign relief assistance for cyclone victims, bending to international pressure to allow in aid, said George Yeo, foreign minister of Singapore.
Zimbabwe opposition accuses military over leader assassination plot - CNN International
(CNN) -- Zimbabwe's main opposition party has accused the government of President Robert Mugabe of orchestrating a plot to assassinate its leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
So. Africa fights anti-foreigner attacks - The Associated Press
REIGER PARK, South Africa (AP) - Police fired rubber bullets and made arrests Monday to try to quell outbursts of anti-foreigner violence in and around Johannesburg, and said the death toll had reached 22.
Bush’s Speech Prods Middle East Leaders - New York Times
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt - After basking in a showy celebration of America’s close ties with Israel, President Bush criticized other Middle East leaders on Sunday, prodding them to expand their economies, offer equal opportunity to ...
Iraq party: Punish US soldier who shot at Quran - CNN International
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's most powerful Sunni Arab political party on Monday said a US soldier's desecration of the
The only thing about Iraq is a story about a soldier who is supposed to have used the Quran as a target. Hardly stuff of world-consequence.

Let's see, here is something from 3 months ago:

It has taken nine bloody and difficult months, but the deployment of 30,000 additional U.S. troops appears at last to have brought not just a lull in the sectarian fighting in Iraq, but the first tangible steps toward genuine political reconciliation.

Last week, the parliament passed a crucial package of legislation that reflects real compromise among the many factions on three of the thorniest issues that have bedeviled Iraq. First, a law requires that provincial elections be held by Oct. 1, and requires that a law spelling out the details on conducting the election be passed within 90 days.
Could it be that Nancy and Harry were just plain wrong? Could it be that George was just plain right? Horrors!

Was Iraq a convenient political distraction until something closer to home came up? Now we have the oil price issue... and refusal to allow more oil drilling and talk about new windfall profit taxes and restriction of the free market through mileage mandates.

Can it be that one party's agenda is simply to be against something until they get power?


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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)