On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel set foot in the European Parliament for the first time since 2007 and addressed the only democratically elected European institution—by design, an emasculated one. There, she laid out her plans to bring European nations together to where their budgets and other matters would become part of her “domestic policy.”
Anecdotal evidence has been coagulating into numbers, and these numbers are now beginning to weigh down corporate earnings calls. It appears the toughest creature out there, the one that no one has been able to subdue yet, the ever wily and inexplicable American consumer, is having second thoughts about prescription drugs. And is fighting back. A paradigm shift. Causing “unprecedented concerns” in the industry.
Contributed by LearnStuff. Here it is, finally, the one thing we hard-working stiffs have been looking for all along, an infographic telling us just how bad sitting—and particularly sitting in front of a computer—all day is for us. A fun look at some serious data with big health implications. And tips on how to extend your life a little. Enjoy.
In pursuing its dream, the EU has created a ballooning superstructure of governance manned by 41,000 bureaucrats and mostly unelected politicians. In 2011, they spent €129 billion of taxpayer money. But now, the European Court of Auditors released its audit report for that year—a damning document that outlines how up to 4.8% of the EU budget seeped through the cracks and disappeared.
Can your approval rating drop to zero? That must have been the question Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was brooding over as he digested two polls taken over the weekend: his approval rating had plunged 15 points from a month ago, to 19%, his lowest rating yet. Clearly, the yakuza scandal didn’t help.
Timing couldn’t have been worse. Or more opportune. A “secret” report by the German version of the CIA, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, bubbled to the surface, asserting that the bailout of Cyprus would use money from taxpayers in other countries to bail out mostly rich Russians who have over the years deposited their “black money” in Cypriot banks that are now collapsing.
In France, socialism isn’t a political movement that swept the elections this year, and it isn’t an economic philosophy that moved once again to the forefront, but it’s part of the DNA of much of the population. And it produces classic knee-jerk reactions to the current economic morass—such as the nationalization of tottering automaker Peugeot.
Contributed by Chriss Street. Support for Proposition 30, the income and sales tax increase touted by Gov. Brown, has fallen below 50%. Now public employees’ unions are spending fortunes to get voters to rescue their lifestyles. Meanwhile, state politicians have increased deficit spending this year by more than the $6 billion Prop 30 might bring in—and Gov. Brown is threatening with a doomsday scenario if it fails.
Prime Minister Ayrault made it official: the government would requisition vacant buildings regardless of who owned them and make them available to the homeless and the “badly housed.” In a few weeks, “an inventory" of buildings should be on his desk so that he could requisition the first properties “in January and February 2013.” A desperate move to halt the collapse of his numbers. And a broadside at investors.
On September 14, 1899, Henry Bliss stepped off a streetcar in Manhattan and got run over by a taxi. The first automobile fatality in the US. The taxi was an electric vehicle. As were 90% of the taxis in the city and about 30% of all cars sold in the US. Electric cars aren’t exactly new. Yet, the government is bleeding taxpayers to advance that technology, create jobs at a cost of $158,556 per job, and fund executive bonuses.
Contributed by Chriss Street. We have warned that that funneling weapons and logistics to jihadi warriors in support of Arab Spring rebellions would lead to a vicious blow-back against the strategic interests of the US. Clearly that has come to pass with the murder of the first American Ambassador since 1979 and the ejection of American influence across the Middle East.
The images are everywhere: flooded tunnels, runways, streets; a facade broken off a house, fallen trees, dark skylines.... They tell us of a horrific nightmare in a visually shocking way. Then I got an email from the founder and CEO of the company that hosts my blog. “I have some unfortunate news....” it starts out.
A French appeals court threw the book at Jérôme Kerviel who, in 2008, had been hung out to dry by his employer, French mega-bank Société Générale, for having—so alleged the bank—blown €4.9 billion in no time without its knowledge, using trick and device to conceal his gigantic trades for years. But now, Kerviel and his lawyer lambasted the proceedings as having been rigged from the outset.
Contributed by Dan Steinhart, Casey Research. The US has too much debt. This is no longer a controversial statement. Some may believe other problems are more urgent, or that we need to grow our way out rather than slash spending. But even the most spendthrift pundits acknowledge that the debt-to-GDP ratio of the US must decrease if we are to have a stable, prosperous economy.
Contributed by Chriss Street. President Barack Obama has not had to campaign in California; he is leading by 15 points. But what if all 55 of California’s Electoral College votes were awarded to whoever wins the national popular vote? That almost happened as Governor Jerry Brown signed the National Popular Vote bill. Can you imagine the shock if the “Left Coast” were responsible for electing Mitt Romney President?
Contributed by Marin Katusa, Casey Research. Exxon Mobil is no longer the world's number-one oil producer. As of yesterday, that title belongs to Putin Oil Corp, oops, I mean, Rosneft, Russia's state-controlled oil company. It is buying TNK-BP, one of the top-ten privately owned oil producers co-owned by BP and some Russian billionaires. And who is in charge of Rosneft? Vladimir Putin, Russia's resource-full president.
The French government has been flailing about to counter economic trends that started while Nicolas Sarkozy was still president. And one of the most bandied-about catchwords these days is “competitiveness”—entailing the cherished and untouchable 35-hour workweek, equally untouchable wages, and sky-high employer-paid payroll taxes and social security charges. An explosive mix.
That France’s economy is hurting is an understatement. Manufacturing and service indices tested depths not seen since 2009 during the trough of the financial crisis. Cited reasons: “unfavorable business climate and lack of visibility.” In its desperation, the government deployed its big gun, a man with a vision: Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg. Him, with his big foot in his mouth.
Contributed by Blankfiend, of Fibs and Waves. In the eye, loss of sensation can cause ulcers of the cornea that can lead to the loss of the eye. In diabetics, loss of sensation in the feet can lead to decubitus ulcers. Healthy individuals could actually do this to themselves through the continuous use of topical or local anesthetics. Turns out, pain mediates the release of a substance that promotes healing. Without it, the healing does not take place. The economy is no exception.
Contributed by Chriss Street. 80 million “baby-boomers,” born between 1946 and 1964, moved out of their peak spending years. The U.S. government over the last five years squandered $7.6 trillion on Keynesian demand-side stimulus to resuscitate this demographically shrinking demand. But with only 23 million born between 1995 and 2012, “Generation Z” is too small for demand-side stimulus to revive the economy.