Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Almost Summer


26 out of the first 27 days this month have had below the normal average temperature. The forecast for the remainder of the month is near normal, but the whole month of July will average more than 6°F below normal. I'll summarize the month this weekend. But we are actually running lower than the June normal temperatures [69°F].

Meanwhile, one still has to tend to summer jobs. We have a small cottage on a lake north of the Detroit area and had planned to sell our main home and rebuild the cottage with the proceeds. Of course, you know the story of the housing market, so that didn't happen. My youngest son lives at the cottage and tries to keep things up. He put up a new kitchen light fixture and a new storm and screen door on the street side. I installed a new kitchen faucet and fixed a leaking toilet. Today, we'll head up there and clean the carpets.

Before my son installed the storm door, I repainted the door frame which was dark brown to match the old door that was falling apart. The new door was white, so three coats of white paint later, the door was ready to be installed. But nothing is ever as simple as it first seems.

I had just started painting the door frame with the first coat when yellow jacket wasps started swarming around me. Having just recovered from poison ivy [earlier posts on that] I was not ready to walk around with large welts from wasp stings. We had a can of flying insect spray that was almost empty, but it was enough to dissuade them from buzzing around my head while I finished the first coat.

The next day we came back so that I could complete the job with the last two coats of paint. I also brought some wasp spray from home. I know, I know. How can I be so unconcerned about these poor creatures. One of my earliest childhood memories is being stung behind the ear by one of those poor creatures and not being able to lie down on that side for a week. Poor creatures indeed.

As I started the second coat, the wasps returned with great vigor. That's when I noticed this:

Yes, the dark object behind the vine that's about the size of a football. Well, that wasn't going to stay there. If they didn't get me, they would get someone else since it was so close to the door. Let's just say that the spray won and I finished the painting. The next day, my son installed the door without being harassed or harmed.

Summer this year: cold wet weather, poison ivy, and wasps. Maybe snow shoveling isn't so bad, after all. What's a little frostbite as temperatures plummet to -10°F?


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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
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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)