Friday, 20 January 2012

The Doom Indicator?

The story came out in Germany in the last couple of days....the German banks have been noted....stashing cash in the European Central Bank....rather than loaning it out.  Reasoning?  The experts say that the banks now suspect that a 2008-like economic event is on the horizon....another meltdown.

The amount?  Around 528 Billion Euro (figure 700 billion dollars).  This is apparently more than what they had stashed at the height of the recession (so says the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung).  It's a fair amount of capital, if you ask me.

The amusing side of this is that the stock market in Germany really liked this news, and the market has been positive the last couple of days, with the Euro gaining a bit against the dollar.  You would have thought folks would be curious about why fear over the future exists....but these are Germans and when you stash can only be good (in their mind).

I'm thinking that another recession is likely out of their vision.  It might be a year away....maybe eighteen months.  But they aren't stupid about things like this.  It also means less money to loan, and only major companies will be able to expand, with everyone else forced to stay careful and avoid expansion.

2012 Review of M*A*S*H

I sat the other night and tried to watch two episodes of M*A*S*H.  I hadn't watched it in twenty years.  I finally came to a conclusion after watching the two episodes....that it was pretty lousy humor, and the one episode from the last three years....was purely dramatic stuff with punch-lines that simply didn't work.  I hate to say it....but it was mostly a lousy comedy as the years have gone by.

The anti-war wit that continually comes up?  It becomes a moment that demands a 'mute' protocol.  It makes me wonder how the show survived, but then the competition in those days really wasn't much to brag about.

My Neighborhood

Down south of where I the town of Charlottesville, Virginia....a university town...about two hours away.  The town council decided in the last week....that it wanted to ban all wars, and to make sure no war started up with Iran.  It was a nifty little piece of resolution.  Typically....from my experience....most towns have 500 problems to worry about: folks wanting to have chickens in the backyard, some guy losing his liquor license for selling to underage kids, zoning issues, wild dogs, crime, shootings, bankruptcy issues, tax problems, rats, corruption on the city council, library issues, lack of snow removal, grass cutting problems, and sewage issues.  The city council down at Charlottesville decided that they had enough time to push the top 1k problems to the side, and discuss the problems of war, and then vote to ban it.  I wouldn't worry about this becoming a trend.  Most towns in Virginia have enough real keep them occupied.  And in the DC city council....they mostly worry about ethics problems, getting arrested for corruption, and ways to line the pockets of folks who elected them into office.

The local cops came up and arrested two METRO employees here in DC yesterday.  Their crime?  Well....they had the guy who goes to the machines during the day to clear out the cash from the charge-up machine near DC area subway stations.  They are typically assigned a guard who walks with them to a number of machines.  Some local establishment which sells lotto to noticing this METRO guy coming in with bags of coins.....up to $500 in each bag, and he'd buy lotto cards (lots of them).  So they finally called up METRO and reported this (three years after it started, says the cops).  The accusation is that both the cop escort and the METRO guy stole hundreds of thousands of dollars.  No one can be sure about this....because there are no receipts.  So folks are asking the METRO office which handles this kind of business why their internal system.....which counts money as it's inserted into the machine....never noticed a trend.  I suspect that a third person is involved.....helping to hide the losses from the machine. The comical thing is that they think all of this cash came from one machine at one station.  And yes, the METRO guy did win lots of cash with his lotto cards.  I suspect he was smart enough never to put anything into the bank and just filter the cash out.  Added to this mess after the news media broke the that the METRO folks have suspended the chief of the office that is supposed to monitor the machines....suspecting he is either an idiot or simply didn't ever ask questions about missing funds.  The question I have.....if this guy got away with many more guys got away with it as well?  There might be a million a month that is disappearing from METRO, and they don't even grasp that.

We've got a state representative here in Virginia who has come with this great idea....selling state-sanctioned medical mary-j-u-wanna out of the Virginia ABC-liquor stores.  It'd be a state-sponsored thing. The issue here is that....well...over half the state smokes the stuff on a weekly basis, and the other half is fighting like heck to stop drug sales, period.  Added to this....the DC folks are going full-speed ahead to sell medical mary-j-u-wanna legally throughout the district....with taxes added, of course.  It'll turn into a comical thing if over the next decade....everyone is selling state-approved medical mary-j-u-wanna and all our tax problems go away....all via the liquor sales shops.  

Finally, there is a Virginia legislature effort to put a 20-cent tax on each plastic bag you use at the grocery store.  There is an apparent discussion going on, and it's not just one nut-job talking over the issue.  I had to sit there and laugh....this would amount to $1.20 tax on me....every time I go and shop.  I pondered over this a while and realized that I could buy a thousand of these bags online for less than $20 and just buy my own personal supply of plastic bags to get around this issue.  With all the various issues that we have in Virginia, I am at a loss of explaining how this rates in the top 500 problems.  Course, the legislature could have taken up banning war.....and since that topic had been taken by some small town....they decided plastic bags was a good second choice.