Thursday, February 6, 2014


Just reprint Tuesday's effort again because there sure hasn't been a lot that has changed except for some better numbers that have dribbled out concerning the U.S. economy that caused a two-day jump in equities and a hope that the job number, which had been predicted to be poor, will show some life when released tomorrow.

Over There, not much has changed as well which is not a good thing because things are considerably worse across the board than Over Here.  The games have begun a day or so before the official opening seemingly without incident--pray it stays that way--but I am told with far less interest than those of past years.  As they say in the real estate business, "location, location, location" and this joint ain't prime.  Remarkably, some things remain the same.  I used to wander around Eastern Europe many moons ago when "Vous sortez du Secteur Americaine" really meant you were going into a different world and Yugoslavia was…well…Yugoslavia, but you knew you were in an OK hotel if there was a shower curtain in your bathroom.  Seems as though there is a real absence of  
shower curtains in Sochi and bathroom floors that slope in the wrong direction.  Vous sortez…

One thing that is happening on a continuing basis, however, are the voices being added to the chorus that all is not well with Greece and things are not improving.  I bad-mouthed Portugal the other day when I spoke of their Debt/GDP ratio as being only second-worse to that of Italy.  Greece of course is on a different planet when it comes to the Euros right up there with Japan at about 200%…never thought about that did ya?  Japan is of course a real country that makes real things whereas Greece is a bit of an appendage with a currency owned and operated in Berlin which makes getting out of the mess in which they find themselves more than a bit difficult.  They also owe every State in the EU in Berlin's currency having stiffed all other past lenders to the tune of 70% or so, and the recalcitrant wretches that those states may be are not about to go back to their voters and tell them that the Greeks are going to skate.  Of course that's going to happen one way or another if the madness of keeping Greece in continues to be followed.  The latest Really Bright Idea seem to be to extend maturities on all the debt out to 50 years: hell, I'll see your 50 and raise you 50.  In the mean time let's start fracking under the Acropolis and see what happens.  I'm sure that idea would make the Elgin Marbles disappear from cocktail conversations around Bedford Square.

Of course we can't be outdone in the game of who owes the most to whom.  This week the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico achieved junk status in the rating game with a BB+.  The Commonwealth has about 4 million residents who owe on average around $11,000 for every man, woman and child in general obligation bonds with the only printing press 1500 miles North.  Guess what?  Nobody cares.  It's an election year and there isn't a soul in the muni bond business who believes that they are anyway at risk of a default.  At the same time the administration announced with some glee that this year's deficit is expected to come in at something under $600 billion.  Why do I continue to worry about things?  The cold must be affecting my sanity.  It's 5F right now.

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