Officer Pearson Says Thanks

From the comment section:
  • Dear SCC and readers. I am police officer Del Pearson. I'm a devout reader of this blog and as with anything on this job take the information i receive with skepticism but enjoy the humor.
    Id like to use this forum to thank each and every member of my police family for the incredible job of not only saving my life but also for the incredible and professional police work done on the street the night i was shot.
    We've all formed opinions about coworkers and bosses on this job but its times like this that you genuinely learn the heart of people. I certainly have. To all the incredible cops in 004 i cannot and will never be able to express the gratitude i feel towards all of you. To all the units citywide that rushed to the call of me being down, you all showed that we dont need a world stage like NATO to show the world we are the greatest police department on the planet
    To the medical staff at both hospitals, you saved my life, thank you from my still intact soul. I especially like to say a personal thanks to the security guard at trinity who locked eyes with me as a i walked to the stretcher. The last vision i would have as i entered unconsciousness. Dr. Lee and the trauma team at Christ. I thank god everyday for the skill hes given all of you! Its fucking unbelievable that just a week ago i was at deaths door and now im home with no reason why i cant return to normal after rehab. Its amazing. I remember fighting to stay awake in the back seat as we raced to the hospital. I kept thinking that if "Dude" can get shot 29 times and walk away, so could I.
    SCC, i especially want everyone to know about the new friends ive made at 35th st. Readers, you can say what you want. Superintendent McCarthy is a real guy. Al Wysinger and Nick Roti as well! These three have been unbelievable to me and my family. I cannot say enough of how cool its been to get to know these guys as friends. I realize coppers will say they infused me with some coolaid while i was under, body snatched me, but its not like that. The Super is my friend. Im proud to say it! Not as a boss or because he had to be there, because he would sit and we talked bout stupid shit we've done out there and lived to laugh about it. Yes the story about my new star number is true.
    Like i said SCC, we all form opinions about people on this job based on things we've heard. I just want some coppers to hear my opinion on Gary McCarthy the man, my boss and now my friend.
    Thanks for the space SCC. I know its kinda long and im sure ive left some people out. I wanted to say something to everyone but im not an in front of the cameras type guy so i decided this was a good place for it, after all, nobody reads this insignificant little spot anyway
    Thank you, everyone!
    P.O. Del Pearson#16462/6254
Best wishes for a speedy and complication free recovery to Officer Pearson from everyone here.

And while we and others may have differing opinions on the superintendent, we'd ask you respect Del's comments as he's the guy with the bullet wound through his body.

More Pension Looting

  • At first blush, a pension bill adopted by the General Assembly in 2007 seemed to have a laudable goal: extending retirement benefits to local police force employees’ widows after they remarried.

    But buried within the legislation was something considerably less altruistic: a provision that enabled a member of one of Chicago’s better-known political families to boost his pension by more than $30,000 a year — while saddling unsuspecting taxpayers in Oak Brook with nearly $750,000 in funding liabilities, the Chicago Sun-Times and Better Government Association have learned.

    The recipient of that larger pension, Thomas Sheahan, is a former police chief in Oak Brook, the current village manager in Lyons and a member of a Democratic clan that has helped rule Chicago’s Southwest Side for decades.

    Sharp-tongued and unapologetic about benefitting from the provision that no one else has used, the 59-year-old Sheahan said of his pension: “I worked for 24 f------ years [in the public sector], I deserve every penny of it and I deserve a lot f------ more.”

Come on Sheahan, you were a pencil pusher, a connected political heavyweight, and pretty much unworthy to carry the title of Police Officer. Let's not pretend you actually earned anything.

Late Notifications

This is just great:
  • I had been hearing a lot of grumbling about late notifications for 26th and Cal and experienced it myself this week and thought people should be made aware. Apparently someone cut down on the number of personnel who notify officers for dates at 26th street. This cutback has resulted in a long delay in notifications being made to the districts/units and thus to the affected P.O.'s. I counted at least a dozen notifications for trials on 29MAR that arrived in district on the 28th. This included a three day trial notification for Thursday, Friday, and Monday that the officers received on Wednesday, if they weren't RDO. In my opinion this move was made for several reasons. 1. Adding to the magic number of officers allegedly moved "to the street." 2. Cutting down on officers who show up in court and thus eliminating paying overtime, and 3, the more sinister motivation, forcing P.O.'s to take deviations and possibly incurring punishment. Maybe this is just a couple week backlog, but its not restricted to where I work because I heard people in other areas mentioning it as well. Let me know what you think or if you've heard anything about this.
We thought this was a glitch or something when we got notified for a court date that was two days past. Now we're find out it's citywide and it's pervasive across the board.

No doubt, the Department is going to fall back on the "officer is ultimately responsible for his/her own court notifications" crap. But if you're RDO (or RDO-plus-a-day to enjoy a three day weekend) and you're not notified until after you return, we're pretty sure that some deviations are going to slip through.

They'll have the manpower to hammer you but not to notify you in the first place. Better start making copies of everything again. If only the copiers weren't out of paper all the time.

More DC Memorial Info

For any retirees headed to Washington DC to maintain and uphold CPD's traditional showing at the Memorial:


We're having minor issues with If you can't see the entire document, right click and open it as a full size document in a new window.

Spiegel Says "Even a 1-Trillion Euro Firewall Wouldn't Be Enough"; Mish Says "The Bigger the Bazooka, the More Money Will be Lost"

Eurozone bureaucrats keep upping the ante as to how big a "firewall" is needed. And at every critical juncture, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proven she is nothing but a liar. With every demand for additional firepower, comes an inevitable cave-in from Merkel supporting the move, no matter what she says in advance.

Meanwhile, the entire idea that firewalls can accomplish anything is ludicrous, given the key point that currency unions in the absence of fiscal unions cannot and will not work.

I suspect Merkel understands this, merely wanting to get Germany so deep into bailouts step by step, that it will be reluctant to leave the Eurozone.

It is high time the German Supreme court step in and stop this nonsense.

However, nothing can stop Greece, Portugal, and Spain from leaving, and eventually they will. In the meantime, rest assured that every increase in firepower will be additional money of German citizens' pockets. The end-game will be a currency or banking crisis at the worst possible time.

For now, please consider 'Even a 1-Trillion Euro Firewall Wouldn't Be Enough'
European finance ministers meeting in Copenhagen on Friday agreed to boost the euro-zone firewall to over 800 billion euros. The move marks another U-turn on the part of the Merkel administration, which recently dropped its opposition to increasing the fund. German commentators warn that even the new firewall may still be too small.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, have been accused of crossing many of the "red lines" that they have set for themselves over the course of the euro crisis, making U-turn after U-turn as the crisis escalated. They officially stepped over the latest red line on Friday, when European Union finance ministers meeting in Copenhagen agreed to boost the scope of the euro zone's firewall to over €800 billion ($1 trillion). Berlin had long rejected such an expansion out of hand.

The Nuclear Option

On Thursday evening, in the run-up to Friday's summit, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had said he was prepared to combine the existing bailouts with the new permanent mechanism. He said that the €800 billion capacity was "convincing" and "sufficient."
But not everyone shares his view that the sum is enough. On Thursday, French Finance Minister François Baroin called for the permanent euro bailout fund to be increased to €1 trillion, to shore up market confidence and prevent contagion in the euro crisis. "The firewall, it's a little like the nuclear option in military planning, it's there for dissuasion, not to be used," Baroin said in a radio interview.

'Shifting Sand Dunes'

Opposition parties in Germany were quick to make political capital out of the Merkel administration's many U-turns during a debate on the euro rescue fund and the European fiscal pact in the German parliament, the Bundestag, on Thursday. "Your red lines have, in reality, become shifting sand dunes," Frank-Walter Steinmeier, floor leader for the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), said to widespread applause.

In December, Merkel argued, entirely convincingly, that boosting the euro bailout fund was the wrong course to take. After all, she said, it would reduce the pressure on crisis-stricken states to push through reforms. There was also the question of whether the creditor countries, including Germany, were in danger of being overwhelmed by ever-higher guarantees." "Now, the fund is indeed being expanded, and the coalition government's former concerns have suddenly disappeared. Instead, the administration is attempting to conceal its own U-turn with highly flawed arguments.

The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung focuses on the calls to boost the ESM to €1 trillion:

"One trillion euros is a lot of money, and yet even this huge sum will not be enough. But again, that's nothing new. For months, calculations have been doing the rounds that show that at least €1.5 trillion will be needed. The only interesting question left is how long it will take France and Germany to acknowledge this reality."
No Amount is Enough

For reasons noted at the top, no amount of money (that can reasonably be provided) would be sufficient. After all, there is a limit to what German citizens and taxpayers can stand. Besides, money alone cannot fix structural problems.

Finally, the "nuclear" option is nothing more than former US treasury Hank Paulson's "Bazooka" theory in disguise.

Bazooka Theory vs. Actual Results

"If you have a bazooka in your pocket and people know it, you probably won't have to use it." Paulson said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing. The reference was in regards to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Paulson believed that if he had the power to bailout Fannie Mae, the market would react to that possibility and no bailout would be necessary.

Now taxpayers have wasted close to $200 billion bailing out Fannie and Freddie bondholders (mainly PIMCO and foreign banks).

Flashback February 12, 2010: EU Leaders Deploy ‘Bazooka’ to Repel Attack on Greece
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her counterparts yesterday pledged “determined and coordinated action” to support Greece’s efforts to regain control of its finances. They stopped short of providing taxpayers’ money or diluting their own demands for the country to cut the European Union’s biggest budget deficit.

“It’s like Paulson’s bazooka,” said Nielsen, Goldman Sachs’s chief European economist in London. “It’s a difficult balancing act -- saying something comforting to the market without committing money and hoping the market will take their word for it.”

After a three-month long plunge in Greece’s bonds amid speculation it was facing the threat of default, euro-region leaders yesterday ordered the country to slash its budget deficit and warned investors they would be willing to defend the country from speculative attack if necessary.

“This is not money for free,” said Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the group of euro-area finance ministers. “This is a strong commitment imposed on Greece.”
How Well Did That Idiotic Bazooka Move Work Out?

Bazooka theory does not work, nor did threats to investors that the ECB and EMU would be willing to defend the country from speculative attack if necessary.

The same holds true today. The Bigger the Bazooka, the More Money Will be Lost.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Welcome to Town

Cops Hurt in Wreck

  • Two Chicago police cars collided with each other Saturday morning on the West Side, authorities said.The crash happened about 12:30 a.m. when two cars were responding to a call to help another, Chicago Police News Affairs Officer [...] said.
Get well soon Officers.

Violence, Firebombings Erupt as Spain Announces €27 Billion Deficit-Cutting Plan; Spanish Economy Will Implode; Spain Headed for Bond Revolt and Bailouts

My friend Bran who lives in Spain writes ...
Hello Mish

Here are thoughts from the last couple of days on the strikes, protests, and violence in the wake of more austerity plans by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Pro-government news played down the strike to a virtual non-event, giving much criticism of the unions methods and exaggerations. Reality however, is that there is enough support by strikers to shape future politics, especially as austerity starts to bite.

The unions have promised to step up protests. The Indignado 15 Million Movement also protested, but separately from the unions.

One comment stuck out - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the protests did not represent Spain. Maybe she was trying to be reassuring, but she is taking sides against maybe a million or so people of a foreign population, not very wise at best and otherwise agitating.
Spain Announces €27 Billion Deficit-Cutting Plan

MarketWatch reports Spain Announces €27 Billion Deficit-Cutting Plan
The Spanish government on Friday delivered what it called the biggest fiscal adjustment in the country’s democratic history, unveiling a 27 billion euro ($36 billion) deficit-reduction plan that includes sharp spending cuts across government ministries and higher taxes for corporations.

With images of nationwide demonstrations and strikes against labor reforms still fresh, the weight of the budget appeared to fall on big companies and government spending. Labor unions said nearly 1 million took part in Madrid’s rally alone Thursday evening.

Corporations will be asked to pay higher taxes this year, and their tax breaks will be reduced while the government said value-added-taxes would not rise. It said tax receipts for VAT would fall 2.6% as a result of weak growth in Spain.

Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro said all ministries would need to reduce their budgets by around 17% this year, which was slightly higher than expected, saving a total of up to €65.8 billion. Salaries for public workers will not be reduced, but will be frozen this year.

Electricity prices will rise 7%, to pay off a €24 billion electricity-tariff deficit that accumulated due to the difference between consumer prices set by the state and producer’s costs. Tariffs paid by electricity companies will rise 5%.
Austerity Measures Prompt Spanish Workers To Strike

NPR reports Austerity Measures Prompt Spanish Workers To Strike
Workers walked off the job in Spain on Thursday, halting public transport, closing schools and leaving hospitals with emergency staff only. The general strike was called by unions in response to the conservative government's labor reforms, which let companies opt out of collective bargaining agreements and fire workers more cheaply. But more punishing austerity could still be to come, as Spain tries to whittle down its budget deficit under pressure from Brussels.
Violence Erupts in Spanish Strikes

The Washington Post has a nice 19-image slideshow Violence Erupts in Spanish Strikes. Here are a few images.

March 29, 2012
A demonstrator throws stones next to a burning Starbucks, which was stormed by demonstrators during clashes with police at the general strike in Barcelona. Spanish workers livid over labor reforms they see as flagrantly pro-business staged a nationwide strike Thursday and tried to bring the country to a halt by blocking traffic, closing factories and clashing with police in rowdy demonstrations.
Emilio Morenatti / AP

March 29, 2012
People attend a demonstration in Valencia, Spain, during a national strike.
Jose Jordan / AFP/Getty Images

March 29, 2012
A woman cries after demonstrators smashed a shop window during heavy clashes with police during a 24-hour strike in Barcelona.
David Ramos / Getty Images

Eurozone crisis live: Violence in Barcelona Amid Spanish General Strike

The Guardian has numerous images and videos in its report Eurozone crisis live: Violence in Barcelona Amid Spanish General Strike

Protesters crowd in Madrid's landmark Puerta del Sol square for a closing rally tonight. Photograph: Paul Hanna/Reuters

As many as 900,000 people took part in the march to Madrid's centre square, Puerta del So.

Spanish Economy Will Implode

Labor reforms are badly needed but electricity price hikes of 7%, higher corporate taxes, increased VAT and other tax hikes are not. Spain needs more time not more tax hikes. With unemployment rate already at 23.3% austerity measures are guaranteed to make matter worse, and tax hikes on top of it all will be the nail in the coffin.

Prime Minister Rajoy forecasts the Spanish economy will contract 1.7% and government GDP targets and budgets are based on that. I bet that 3% contraction minimum is in the works if Rajoy enacts the tax hikes and austerity measures as planned.

Things will be much worse if the violence and strikes stay in an elevated state. Unlike the protests a year ago, these strikes have more serious overtones.

Spain Headed for Bond Revolt and Bailouts

The idea that Rajoy will cut the deficit to 5.3% this year and 3% next year are purely Fantasyland proposals.

For now, the bond market has given Rajoy the benefit of the doubt, assuming you call 5.35% on the 10-year bond any kind of "benefit". With the suspension of the LTRO, and a budget targets that cannot possibly be met, look for a substantial move up in Spanish bond yields.

That will also punish any Spanish banks foolish enough to load up on bonds in a misguided carry-trade play. With Spain, nearly everything is worse than the government reports, and the reports are awful.

A bond market revolt and bailout are in the cards this year. Ultimately, Spain will not survive in the Eurozone.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Shakeup? Hahahahahahaha

A "shake-up" would mean someone actually got demoted for not doing their job. We have yet to see a demotion. In fact, wasn't the phrase "kicked upstairs" used by this administration to describe the "punishment" recently meted out to the former commander of 007 who couldn't answer simple questions at CompStat, even with two weeks notice of the material to be covered? We see a couple "kicked upstairs" moves on this list, too:
  • With Chicago suffering a 35 percent spike in murders this year, police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced a reshuffling of his command staff Friday, replacing commanders in five of the city’s 23 districts.

    McCarthy also promoted three supervisors to deputy chief positions. He said the changes were made to “strengthen the department’s ongoing efforts to reduce violence” and create a “more efficient departmental structure.”

    McCarthy promoted James Gibson as commander in the Morgan Park district; Lynette Helm in Grand-Crossing; James O’Donnell in Jefferson Park; Maria Pena in Marquette, and Barbara West in Austin.

    A police spokeswoman said no district commanders were demoted to make way for the changes in those five districts. They replaced commanders who were promoted to other positions or retired, she said.

Right there, that kind of negates the claim of a "shake-up." And officially promoting someone who conducted at least one witch hunt in violation of Department Orders is some amazingly bad judgement.

And what's that? Murders up 35%? Sounds there ought to be quite a few demotions attached to that number: Now how about the Deputy Chief positions that were filled:

  • Kathleen Boehmer, former commander in the Town Hall district, was promoted to deputy chief of detectives.

    Keith Calloway, former commander of detectives in the Calumet Area, was named deputy chief of the organized crime bureau.

    Boemer and Calloway’s previous positions were eliminated in a department consolidation last month. McCarthy merged the Town Hall and Belmont districts and reduced the number of detective areas from five to three.

    McCarthy also announced that Eddie Johnson, former commander of the Gresham district, has been promoted to deputy chief of patrol for the newly created Central Area.

And they still manage to claim "crime is down" in the article:

  • As of Thursday, there have been 114 murders this year in Chicago — up 35 percent compared with the same period last year.

    But department records also show that, through March 18, overall crime has dropped 10 percent throughout the city compared with the same period in 2011.

That'll give everyone involved the opportunity to attempt to pretend that March didn't happen.

Instead of Walter's Column... about this editorial from the Sun Times (apologies for reprinting the whole thing, but it's a lot better than any "perspective" Jacobson might come up with):
  • Here he comes, Police Officer Del Pearson, rolling out of the hospital in a wheelchair on Tuesday, into a sunny day. He wears his badge on a sling that cradles his arm.

    Twenty cops or more stand at attention. How they waited for this. How they prayed for this.

    How they told his wife, “Del’s gonna be OK,” though they did not know.

    How they told his two children, “Your dad’s a good cop,” which they did know.

    Now here he comes, released from the hospital just eight days after a bullet ripped through a major artery, leaving him close to death. On the night he was shot, more than 100 police officers stood vigil in the dark outside the hospital, nobody going home until their brother in blue was out of surgery.

    As a nurse rolls him out the door, a line of police officers salute him.

    “Way to go, Del!” one calls out.

    “You’re the man,” another cries.

    Officer Pearson says nothing, but his face says much. He is choked up. He is moved.

    This is how — and this is why — cops stick together.

    Because they do a dangerous job and nobody knows that better than another cop.

    And because sticking together is how they stay alive.

    Man in an alley with a gun? Call for backup.

    Shots fired at a three-flat? Call for backup.

    An officer shot in the chest, as Pearson was, as he chases a suspect across a yard? Sweep him into your squad car and get him to the hospital. He is bleeding profusely. There is no time to wait for an ambulance.

    He would do the same for you.

    “I wasn’t going to let my friend and my co-worker lie there and possibly bleed to death while we stood around and waited,” said Sgt. Christopher Kapa, who along with Officer Kirsten Lund rushed Pearson to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. “I saw the massive amounts of blood and said, ‘Let’s go.’ ”

    We — the public and the media and the politicians — get tough on cops a lot, especially when we think they’re sticking together just a little too much. We don’t like it when they fail to call out, or even dare to defend, the cop who pummels a barmaid or tortures a suspect or trumps up a charge.

    But the good cops — and that, of course, would be most of them — despise the rogues, too.

    We have to remember that.

    And when a police officer is on the job, sticking together is the first law of survival.

    One Chicago police officer, Clifton Lewis, was killed last year. Six more officers have been shot in the last nine months.

    When a cop is shot, we should all be standing vigil outside the hospital in the night.


Walter Jacobson has far too much baggage and far too many bridges to rebuild between himself and rank-and-file police officers for us to actually believe any of the crap he spouts.

Here's a link to his Perspective "supporting" the men and women he pretty much pissed all over to make his career over the years. Sixty seconds of support isn't erasing a lifetime of dislike.

2, 4, 23, 38 and 46. Megaball = 23

If no other updates appear above this one, you know exactly why. Later suckas!

Open post while we check the numbers.

Canada Eliminates The Penny

In a welcome, albeit long overdue attack of common sense, Canada Eliminates Penny Costing Penny-and-a-Half to Make.
Canada will withdraw the penny from circulation this year, saving taxpayers about C$11 million ($11 million) annually and forcing retailers to round prices to the nearest nickel, the government announced in its budget today.

The Royal Canadian Mint, which has produced 35 billion pennies since it began production in 1908, will cease distribution this fall due to the coin’s low purchasing power. Production and handling cost for the one-cent coin are a C$150- million drag on the economy, according to a 2006 study by Desjardins, a Levis, Quebec-based financial institution.

Business groups welcomed the move, which follows other countries such as Australia, Brazil and Sweden, and economists said it would have little impact on inflation.

The penny, with two maple leafs on one side and Queen Elizabeth II on the other, can continue to be used in payments. As they are gradually withdrawn from circulation, price rounding on cash transactions will be required, the government said.

Retailers and other businesses can continue to price goods and services in one-cent increments and there will be no need to reprogram cash registers, according to the government.

Catherine Swift, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the move will increase efficiency.

“It has been a long time coming,” she said. “It’s been a real pain more than anything else. We’ve actually polled our members on this and they’re supportive.”
Economists said there would be "little" impact on inflation. Actually, there will be "no" impact on inflation. The penny has not been discarded as a pricing point, rather final transaction costs will be rounded to the nearest nickel.

The US needs to follow suit. Dealing with pennies is a nuisance.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Question on Jobs: How Many Does It Take to Keep Up With Demographics?

John Mauldin pinged me with a question on jobs and demographics from one of his readers.
Hello John.
In past letters you have cited the need to create 125,000 jobs per month to stay even with the growth rate in the labor force. Dick Hokenson of ISI Research has recently published reports suggesting that 75,000 jobs is a more accurate estimate based on his demographic analysis. This difference obviously has profound implications for the pace of recovery and potential improvement in the unemployment rate. Have you seen any of Hokenson's work? Do you have any insights into why his analysis is so different than consensus?
How Many Does It Take to Keep Up With Demographics?

Ben Bernanke has estimated 125,000 jobs a month. That is the number I have been using recently.

However, based on demographics alone, I believe 75,000 is indeed the correct number.

75,000 is a number I arrived at a couple of years ago independently, for the boomer-bust years of 2013-2015.

So why use 125,000 if it only takes 75,000? I do not know Bernanke's rationale, but I can explain mine.

  1. Between January 2008 and February 2010, the U.S. economy lost 8.8 million jobs.
  2. In the last year, the civilian population rose by 3,584,000. Yet the labor force only rose by 1,569,000. 
  3. Millions of people dropped out of the labor force in the last several years and if jobs are available they will start looking again
  4. As soon as people start looking for jobs, the number it will take to hold the unemployment rate steady will rise, perhaps to a number well above 125,000

    Point number 4 above is the key issue.

    Household Survey Data - March 9, 2012

    click on chart for sharper image

    Take a good look at the household survey from the latest BLS jobs report. Recall that the unemployment rate comes from the household survey, and not the headline jobs number.

    Note that 428,000 jobs were allegedly created in February. Also note the unemployment did not change. Why? Because the civilian labor force went up by an even larger 476,000. Thus the unemployment rate actually rose a fractional amount that rounding took away.

    If I would have told you that a rise in 428,000 jobs would not drop the unemployment rate you would have thought I was off my rocker. Yet it happened, assuming of course you believe BLS numbers, complete with amazing seasonal adjustments.

    Back to School Stats

    Let's take a look at some interesting points from Consumer Credit "Demolishes Expectations" Really? No Not Really! The "Non-Bounce" in Non-Revolving Credit
    Non-Revolving credit rose $11.8 billion in December. However, $8.8 billion of that is growth in federal government loans (which just happens to be where student loans are parked).

    Here are some charts I put together stripping out federal government loans.

    Non-Revolving Loans Minus Government Loans

    Non-Revolving Loans Minus Government Loans Detail

    True Bounce in Percentage Terms

    Note that the year-over-year "bounce" has not even gotten back to the zero-line in spite of exceptionally easy comparisons.

    Middle-Aged Borrowers Pile on Student Debt

    Reuters reports Middle-Aged Borrowers Pile on Student Debt
    Educational borrowing is up for every age group over the past three years, but it has grown far more quickly among those between 35 and 49, according to the analysis of more than 3 million credit reports provided to Reuters by the credit score tracking site CreditKarma ( That group saw its school debt burden increase by a staggering 47 percent, according to the analysis.

    The average student loan debt for those aged 38 to 41 was the biggest of that group -- about $12,000, up from just under $9,000 in 2009. Young people still carry the biggest student loan burdens; those aged 26 to 29 have an average of $14,000 in student debt. But the increased levels in middle-aged student debt is a new phenomenon.
    Negative Payback on Retraining

    The benefit of going back to school at age 49 is likely negative.

    My friend "BC" comments:
    The payoff for 40- and 50-somethings taking on debt to change occupations or trying to find jobs in "health care" or "education" and compete with Millennials trying to secure similar positions is low or negative.

    Statistically, the benefit to "education" occurs between ages 14 and 22, where one goes to high school and university. Obtaining an MBA, law degree, or another graduate degree after age 26-28 historically has not resulted in a net benefit in terms of job/career prospects or wage/salary income; and this has become particularly the case since the late '90s.

    In other words, the vast majority of people running up debt at universities, community colleges, and for-profit technical schools are wasting their time and money, as well as directing scarce resources to the "health care" and "education" sectors that don't need more misallocation further driving up costs.

    Needless to say, there is no precedent in US history for middle-aged unemployed, underemployed, or unemployable Americans running up debt in an economy that has not created a net new private sector full-time job per capita in at least 10 years.
    Fewer Nonfarm Employees Now Than December 2000

    Here is one key chart (of many) from Fewer Nonfarm Employees Now Than December 2000; Unemployment Rate: Some Things Still Don't Add Up; Obamanomics?

    Total Nonfarm Employees

    There are currently 132,409,000 nonfarm employees. In December of 2000 there were 132,481,000 employees. How's that for job growth?

    Retraining Scam

    Job retraining is scam perpetrated by for-profit universities, fueled by statements from Obama regarding re-training people for new jobs.

    Brick-layers are told they can be "chefs", take $10,000 courses and the universities call it a "success" if they land a job "in their field" at McDonald's. Unemployed roofers are led to believe they can become Java programmers, and they waste collective $billions trying. Meanwhile out of work Java programmers are told to take up a trade like roofing or auto mechanics.

    The cost of education keeps rising because Obama (like Bush before him), keeps adding to the student loan program when the entire student loan scam really needs to be shut down.

    Why Does the Scam Roll On and On?

    1. No politician wants to stand up and tell the truth: Retraining is a waste of money and the odds of launching a new career in other than a low-paying job requiring few skills is simply not likely.
    2. For-Profit universities pad politicians' pockets

    One can always find success stories, but in aggregate, retraining middle-aged workers is a net waste of money.

    To Paraphrase Joe Weisenthal

    Now, to paraphrase Joe Weisenthal: "It's hard to think that the economy is NOT going back into a recession with numbers like these." The difference in viewpoint is understanding what the underlying numbers really represent.
    Hiding Out In School

    All those hiding out in school, including those going back to school for retraining are not counted in the ranks of the unemployed. Nor are discouraged workers, who stopped looking for a job.

    As soon as those folks think there are jobs, they will start looking. Economically speaking, that would be a good thing if it happened, but it would also increase the number of jobs it will take to hold the unemployment rate steady.

    In a vacuum, all things being equal, it would take about 75,000 jobs a month demographically speaking. But things are not equal. Millions of workers want back in the labor force and they will start looking, especially students who at some point will have no choice. It may take 150,000 jobs a month or even 175,000 jobs a month, if those workers come back into the labor force in a 2-year  surge.

    That is still not the end of the story. What if we slip back into recession and people stop looking? How many will it take then? The answer may be closer to 100,000. The middle of the road approach is to stick with the number I have been using recently which is 125,000 a month.

    The irony is, the better the economy is, the more jobs it will take. One way or another, headwinds on lowering the unemployment rate are very strong.

    All things considered, I see no reason to deviate from my "Structurally High Unemployment For a Decade" call made years ago and reiterated in January in Fundamental and Mathematical Case for Structurally High Unemployment for a Decade; Shrinking Job Opportunities and the Jobs Gap; The Real Employment Situation.

    For further discussion please see Where is the Unemployment Rate Headed? Interactive Mapping Lets "You" Set the Parameters, and Plot a Graph

    Mike "Mish" Shedlock
    Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

    The Dating Game: Michael Pettis Challenges The Economist to a Bet on China

    The Economist says "China’s GDP, measured in nominal dollars, will be the world’s largest by 2018". Michael Pettis at China Financial Markets disagrees and says I would like to make a bet with The Economist.
    I recently read in The Guardian an article by enthusiastic orientalist Martin Jacques in which he says that The Economist has just predicted that China’s GDP, measured in nominal dollars, will be the world’s largest by 2018. Earlier estimates, he says had China becoming the largest economy in the world by 2027.

    I have always been a little skeptical about the 2027 claim ... given how much we would have to assume about the sustainability of Chinese growth, about the likelihood of current GDP numbers not having been vastly inflated by an over-investment boom, and about the unstable range of political outcomes. It seemed to me to be a prediction about as valuable as the world-beating predictions about the USSR in the 1960s or Japan in the 1980s.

    Still, this 2018 prediction deserves I think more than a little questioning — it requires that nominal Chinese GDP growth in dollars outpace nominal US GDP growth by 12% a year.

    So I am wondering whether we could set up a friendly bet — not for too large stakes. I would like to bet that by the end of 2018 China will not be the largest economy in the world.

    If I win, perhaps The Economist could invite a very cool underground Chinese band of my choice to perform at their next big conference, whereas if I lose I could buy four-year subscriptions (student rates, please) to a group of Peking University freshmen. Everybody would end up feeling pretty pleased with themselves no matter who wins, right? So?
    The Dating Game

    Inquiring minds are looking at an interactive chart on The Economist in an article called The Dating Game.
    AMERICA'S GDP is still roughly twice as big as China’s (using market exchange rates). To predict when the gap might be closed, The Economist has updated its interactive chart below with the latest GDP numbers. This allows you to plug in your own assumptions about real GDP growth in China and America, inflation rates and the yuan’s exchange rate against the dollar. Over the past ten years, real GDP growth averaged 10.5% a year in China and 1.6% in America; inflation (as measured by the GDP deflator) averaged 4.3% and 2.2% respectively. Since Beijing scrapped its dollar peg in 2005, the yuan has risen by an annual average of just over 4%. Our best guess for the next decade is that annual GDP growth averages 7.75% in China and 2.5% in America, inflation rates average 4% and 1.5%, and the yuan appreciates by 3% a year. Plug in these numbers and China will overtake America in 2018. Alternatively, if China’s real growth rate slows to an average of only 5%, then (leaving the other assumptions unchanged) it would not become number one until 2021. What do you think?
    Snapshot of The Economist Baseline Assumptions

    The interactive graph is too large for my blog, but the above screen snapshot shows The Economist baseline assumptions. To play around with the numbers, click on the above link.

    I share a viewpoint with Pettis that The Economist is way too generous in their estimate of real GDP growth for China.

    Pettis thinks China will average 3% growth and I already posted I found that number reasonable. As far as Yuan appreciation is concerned, I am not at all convinced the Yuan is undervalued at all, yet I plugged in a nominal 2% annual appreciation.

    Assuming a "Real GDP growth" of 3% and Inflation at 4% yields a chart that looks like this.

    Snapshot of Mish Baseline Assumptions

    Even still, I wonder if the year 2030 is still far too optimistic from the standpoint of China.

    I strongly believe peak oil and energy consumption is going to put a serious damper on Chinese growth, and that is on top a necessary and very painful shift away from an entirely unsustainable growth model based on exports, housing, and fixed investment.

    I share Pettis' view regarding "inflated GDP numbers, an over-investment boom, and the unstable range of political outcomes" adding my own energy concerns and yuan valuation concerns on top of it all.

    Thoughts on Chinese Growth

    I find the arguments by Pettis, the ECRI, and Chanos compelling. Add to that the restraint of peak oil coupled with potential political instability and the proper conclusion is that long-term Chinese growth of 7.5% is Fantasyland material.

    Mike "Mish" Shedlock
    Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

    $7.3 Billion? Seriously?

    This guy just finds money everywhere. How much of that is going toward hiring police, firefighters, teachers and shoring up the underfunded pensions? Exactly zero:
    • Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday urged major airlines squeezed by skyrocketing fuel prices to come to the table a year early and negotiate a fourth new runway at O’Hare Airport as part of a $7.3 billion plan to rebuild Chicago’s infrastructure and create 30,000 jobs.

      “I’m announcing this when we have everything secure on the very day Washington is doing a 60-day extension on the highway bill. The last highway bill was 2005. I can’t let the city be held hostage to that dysfunction,” the mayor told the Chicago Sun-Times.

    The Sun Times points out a lot of these projects have been previously announced and this is just Rahm repackaging stuff that never got off the ground.

    And some people are about to take baths on their property speculations:

    • Now, Emanuel is pushing that fourth runway and moving up the timetable for negotiations to reduce delays by 80 percent, boost capacity by 300,000-passenger-a-year by 2015 and eliminate the need for a third airport.

      “If I owned property in Peotone, I’d be looking to put it on the market right now,” joked Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), the mayor’s City Council floor leader.

    How much are Jesse and Jesse going to lose here? We'll just say, "Hahahahahaha."

    A Double-Triple

    • Detectives were reviewing police surveillance video this evening to see if they could spot the gunmen who shot six people, one fatally, in a convenience store on the South Side.

      The attack happened at 6 p.m. on the 1400 block of West 79th Street in the Gresham neighborhood, said Chicago Police News Affairs...

    Coming on the heels of Thursday's CompStat meeting, this must have been embarrassing to McClueless.

    Guess who showed up finally?

    • Rev. Michael Pfleger stood with the crowd gathered at the police line in the parking lot of a White Castle restaurant on Loomis. Pfleger pointed out that the police surveillance camera mounted across the street from the store, and said when the shooting happened, the streets would have been crowded with people.

      "Somebody must have seen something. They need to come forward," he said.

    You notice he pointed right to the camera - the camera that did absolutely nothing to stop the shooting? Amazing.

    And trust the Tribune to throw this shot out there:

    • Citing preliminary information, police said two gunmen with hooded sweatshirts entered the store and almost immediately opened fire.
    "hooded sweatshirts." Golly, those sure are appearing in the news a lot lately.

    No Parade Change

    • A city of Chicago administrative hearing judge has upheld the denial of a march permit for NATO protesters.

      Administrative Law Judge Raymond J. Prosser delivered his ruling late this afternoon, backing the city's claim that a parade through the heart of the Loop on the first day of the NATO summit would create an unnecessary public safety risk.

      The city has proposed moving the parade start to Columbus Drive in Grant Park and skirting the Loop on its path south to McCormick Place, where members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will be meeting May 20-21.

      The protesters, led by organzer Andy Thayer, had been given a permit for an identical march in the city for May 19, which was to be the first day of the G-8 summit. But after President Barack Obama moved G-8 to Camp David, Thayer's group sought to move its march to May 20 for the first day of the NATO talks.
    Of course, this isn't the last word. Expect lawsuits at the federal level, who look upon local authorities' attempts to quash First Amendment issues with a jaundiced eye.

    $19 Million More to Burn

    • Chicago has a received a $19 million grant to cover the local security costs of the NATO summit this May, the city's summit planners said as they announced they have raised more than $36 million in private donations for other costs.

      "The Host Committee is thrilled by the support we have received from the business community," said Lori Healey, executive director of the Chicago NATO Host Committee. “Thanks to their generosity, and the support of the federal government, the city will be able to host a tremendous summit that will highlight the best of Chicago."

      The figures were released in a statement from the host committee Thursday afternoon, along with a list of donors that includes dozens of the most prominent players in Chicago's corporate community. Amounts of the donations were not provided.
    How about some more safety equipment? Like fire extinguishers.

    Obama Budget Defeated 414-0; Obama vs. Ryan Budget Showdown Revisited

    Not a single Democrat endorsed the budget proposed by president Obama. The scorecards reads as follows Obama budget defeated 414-0.
    President Obama's budget was defeated 414-0 in the House late Wednesday, in a vote Republicans arranged to try to embarrass him and shelve his plan for the rest of the year.

    The vote came as the House worked its way through its own fiscal year 2013 budget proposal, written by Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan. Republicans wrote an amendment that contained Mr. Obama's budget and offered it on the floor, daring Democrats to back the plan, which calls for major tax increases and yet still adds trillions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade.

    But no Democrats accepted the challenge.

    Senate Democrats have said they will not bring a budget to the floor this year, though Republicans in the chamber have talked about trying to at least force a vote on Mr. Obama's plan there as well.

    Last year, when they forced a vote on his 2012 budget, it was defeated 97-0.
    National Debt vs. Public Debt

    In my post Obama vs. Ryan: Budget Showdown - Deficit and Total Debt Projections Through 2021 - Interactive map one reader caught a mislabeling of public debt as national debt.

    Mislabeling is corrected. Here is the Budget Showdown once again, this time with the corrected word change.

    Note: Tableau has a server issue right now and the interactive buttons may not be working properly. This should be corrected shortly.

    Mike "Mish" Shedlock
    Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

    Geithner Wants to Throw Still More Taxpayer Dollars Down the Fannie & Freddie Toilet

    Not satisfied with wasting close to $200 billion of taxpayer dollars bailing out holders of Fannie and Freddie Bonds (notably PIMCO and China), Geithner is back at it with another proposal sure to cost US taxpayers plenty if adopted.

    The proposal this time is for taxpayers to pick up 63% of the cost of mortgage principal reductions. Geithner made the offer to Edward J. DeMarco, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s overseer.

    Bloomberg reports Geithner’s Math Puzzle Beyond Numbers for DeMarco
    Geithner, the U.S. Treasury secretary, is offering new incentive payments to the two government-supported mortgage financiers if DeMarco drops his opposition to principal reductions for homeowners whose loans are backed by the companies.

    It’s not just a question of whether the numbers add up, DeMarco said in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York yesterday.

    “We’ve got to consider all of the ramifications of principal forgiveness relative to other tools.”

    Proponents from Martin Feldstein, a chief economic adviser to the late President Ronald Reagan, to activist groups such as have called on DeMarco to allow writedowns. Congressional Democrats including Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland have accused him of blocking a recovery and called on him to resign.

    FHFA is not yet convinced principal reductions are the best answer, DeMarco said, in part because the agency still must examine how offering loan writedowns would affect the behavior of underwater borrowers who are still making their payments on time. Until now, the agency hasn’t specifically focused on the issue of whether loan forgiveness would create a moral hazard by providing an incentive for borrowers to default. That’s because without the extra incentives offered by the government this year, debt forgiveness was more costly than forbearance as most underwater borrowers would stay in their homes if given a low enough payment, according to its analysis.

    Violating Legal Responsibility

    The U.S. government has spent $190 billion to shore up the companies since they were taken into federal conservatorship in 2008 after their investments in risky loans soured. DeMarco said adding to the firms’ costs would be a violation of his legal responsibility to restore them to financial health.

    Using principal forbearance instead of forgiveness so far has been better for taxpayers, DeMarco said. Forbearance reduces monthly payments while requiring borrowers to pay back the full amount of the loan when they sell the house.

    “If the borrower is successful on the modification, allows them to stay in their house and they stay in their house and start making mortgage payments, the taxpayer gets to share in the upside of that borrower’s success,” DeMarco said in the Bloomberg Television interview. “If we forgive the principal up front and the borrower is successful, that upside all goes to the borrower and is not shared with the taxpayer.”
    Vote Buying

    This is not about doing what's right for taxpayers. It's about doing what's right to help Obama's reelection chances. Of course Hedge Funds and PIMCO like the buyback idea because it immediately puts a bid in for Fannie and Freddie bonds they hold.

    Mike "Mish" Shedlock
    Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

    Read The Bible? Go To Jail, Do Not Pass Go.

    For a bit more spice and flair

    Should he have been arrested?

    My Comment:

    The cop had no idea what was as issue. His reason for arrest was irrelevant to what was going on.

    Eurozone Retail Sales Contract 5th Consecutive Month, Year-on-Year Sales Decline 10th Month

    Eurozone retail sales fell only slightly this month, but it was the 5th consecutive month, and the worst quarter since the 1st quarter of 2010.

    Please consider Markit Eurozone Retail PMI® March 2012.
    Retail sales in the Eurozone fell only marginally at the end of the first quarter, according to Markit’s latest PMI® surveys. The average rate of decline over the first quarter matched that seen over the final three months of 2011, which was the worst quarter since Q1 2010. The survey data again highlighted marked disparity between growth in Germany and falling sales at Italian retailers, while sales in France were again broadly flat.

    The Eurozone Retail PMI is a single-figure indicator of changes in the value of sales at retailers. The PMI is adjusted for seasonal factors, and any figure greater than 50.0 signals growth compared with one month earlier. The PMI remained below 50.0 in March, signalling a fifth successive monthly drop in sales revenues. Sales have fallen ten times in the past 11 months. But the index rose for the second successive survey, recovering further ground from January’s 35-month low of 42.9 to post 49.1. The latest figure signalled only a marginal decline in sales revenues. The latest PMI figure suggested that the pace of decline in retail sales as measured by the EU’s statistical office Eurostat (on a three-month-on-three-month basis) will ease in the coming months.

    Eurozone retail PMI figures are based on responses from the three largest euro area economies. March data signalled that the Italian retail sector remained mired in a steep downturn, posting a thirteenth successive monthly drop in retail sales. The rate of contraction was slower than January’s record low, but still marked nonetheless.

    German retail sales continued to rise in March, extending the current sequence of growth to 18 months. This is the longest period of expansion since monthly sales data were first collected in January 2004. The rate of growth slowed since February, but was broadly in line with the average for 2011.

    Year-on-Year Sales Decline 10th Month

    Retail sales in the Eurozone continued to fall on an annual basis in March. Year-on-year sales have fallen for the past ten months, the longest sequence since that registered from June 2008 to March 2009. Moreover, the rate of decline accelerated since February, reflecting a sharp reversal in the year-on-year sales trend in France. German retail sales registered the fourth-fastest annual increase in sales since the series started, but Italy posted another substantial decline.

    Other indicators from the latest surveys underlined the ongoing weakness of market conditions in the retail sector. The value of purchasing activity fell for the eighth month running, while retail employment was broadly flat for the second successive month. Retailers’ gross margins remained under substantial downward pressure, and original sales plans were missed again.

    Commenting on the retail PMI data, Trevor Balchin, senior economist at Markit and author of the Eurozone Retail PMI, said:

    “Across the Eurozone, retail sales fell only marginally during the month but were down sharply compared with one year ago. Compounding retailers’ difficulties, wholesales prices continued to rise at a steep rate, squeezing margins which have already been under intense pressure from the need to offer discounts to stimulate sales."
    Markit Clings to Hope

    Once again Markit clings to every bit of hope that things are about to get better. Here is the key sentence: "The latest PMI figure suggested that the pace of decline in retail sales as measured by the EU’s statistical office Eurostat (on a three-month-on-three-month basis) will ease in the coming months."


    Why are sales in Europe going to get better? Once again I propose it is far more likely for German sales to slip as its vaunted export machine takes a hard tumble.

    I said the same thing two months ago regarding Manufacturing PMI when Markit was hoping Germany could keep Europe out of recession.

    The no-recession idea bit the dust on March 22 as noted in "Eurozone Slides Back Into Recession" Says Markit PMI News Release; Sharp Decline in German Export Business; Misguided Decoupling Theories.

    Markit then shifted its stance from hoping for no recession in the Eurozone, to hoping for no recession in Germany and I responded with:
    What's with the Markit "Pollyanna" Forecasts?

    This month Markit is talking about Germany avoiding a recession. Even more amazingly, just last month Commenting on the flash PMI data, Chris Williamson, Chief Economist at Markit said:

    “A retreat back below the 50.0 no-change level for the Eurozone PMI is a disappointment, and highlights the ongoing risk that the region may be sliding back into recession.
    That "risk of recession" became a sure thing as Markit threw in the towel on non-recession hopes as noted above.

    On February 22, in Eurozone PMI "Worse Than Expected" and Back in Contraction; Expect German-Periphery Divergence to Resolve to the Downside for Germany I stated:
    Expect German-Periphery Divergence to Resolve to the Downside for Germany

    The idea that Europe can avoid a recession is complete silliness. Europe is clearly in a recession already.

    The amazing thing is things have not deteriorated more than they have. Unlike the Chief Economist at Markit, I expect the divergence to resolve to the downside for Germany, not for the divergence to continue for some time. Given conditions in Europe and Asia, the odds that Germany is immune from the global slowdown are essentially zero.
    Sure enough, German exports took a dive in March, and it's reasonable to assume another dive in April.

    Conditions in Europe are deteriorating badly, and a general strike looms in Italy. Spain, Greece, and Portugal are basket cases.  The odds that weakness does not spill over into Germany are near-zero.

     Mike "Mish" Shedlock
    Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

    Egyptian Opposition to US Aid Hits 82%; So Why Did Obama Restore Aid, and Why Did Hillary Insist Upon It?

    A Gallup Poll in Egypt shows 82% of Egyptians Do Not Want US Aid.
    Egyptians' opposition to U.S. economic aid continued to climb in early 2012. More than eight in 10 Egyptians in February said they opposed U.S. economic aid, up 11 percentage points since December and up 30 points since April 2011 when Gallup first posed the question.
    Poll Question

    So Why Did Obama Restore Aid?

    The New York Times reports Once Imperiled, U.S. Aid to Egypt Is Restored.
    An intense debate within the Obama administration over resuming military assistance to Egypt, which in the end was approved Friday by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, turned in part on a question that had nothing to do with democratic progress in Egypt but rather with American jobs at home.

    A delay or a cut in $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt risked breaking existing contracts with American arms manufacturers that could have shut down production lines in the middle of President Obama’s re-election campaign and involved significant financial penalties, according to officials involved in the debate.

    Since the Pentagon buys weapons for foreign armed forces like Egypt’s, the cost of those penalties — which one senior official said could have reached $2 billion if all sales had been halted — would have been borne by the American taxpayer, not Egypt’s ruling generals.

    The companies involved include Lockheed Martin, which is scheduled to ship the first of a batch of 20 new F-16 fighter jets next month, and General Dynamics, which last year signed a $395 million contract to deliver component parts for 125 Abrams M1A1 tanks that are being assembled at a plant in Egypt.

    Mrs. Clinton’s decision to resume military assistance, which has been a foundation of United States-Egyptian relations for over three decades, sidestepped a new Congressional requirement that for the first time directly links arms sales to Egypt’s protection of basic freedoms. No new military aid had been delivered since the fiscal year began last October, and Egypt’s military has all but exhausted funds approved in previous years.

    Mrs. Clinton’s decision provoked sharp criticism from lawmakers across the political spectrum, as well as human rights organizations. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, criticized it as “beyond the pale.”

    Referring to Egypt’s recent decision to prosecute four American-financed international advocacy organizations, Mr. Paul added, “It sets a precedent that America will not punish its aggressors but instead give them billions of our taxpayers’ dollars.”

    The M1A1 components are built in factories in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, several of them battleground states in an election that has largely focused on jobs. Because the United States Army plans to stop buying new tanks by 2014, continued production relies on foreign contracts, often paid for by American taxpayers as military assistance.

    Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who added the certification requirements to legislation authorizing military aid to Egypt, called the decision to waive them regrettable, and the resumption of aid “business as usual.”
    Let's piss away billions of dollars on aid to countries that don't even want it.

    Note that Mrs. Clinton waived a requirement that she certify Egypt’s protection of human rights as a condition of aid.

    Yes indeed, this is "business as usual", so much so that even Democrat senators are complaining about it.

    Mike "Mish" Shedlock
    Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

    No GPS in New Stars

    A helpful friend at the airport ran the new star through an x-ray machine:

    As you can see, no micro-circuitry, no mechanical devices, the x-ray shoots right through to the pin assembly on the other side.

    Question of the Day: What is the Commodities Sector Seeing that the Stock Market Doesn't?

    Please consider a series of chart my friend "BC" put together of various indices vs. the Morgan Stanley Commodity Related Equity Index ($CRX).

    $SPX vs. $CRX

    click on any chart for a sharper image

    $CYC vs. $CRX

    $TRAN vs. $CRX

    $DJUSRR vs. $CRX

    What is the Commodities Sector Seeing that the Stock Market Doesn't?

    The answer from my friend Pater Tenebrarum who also saw these charts is "the coming economic bust in China - which has likely already begun."

    That idea is in-line with several of my recent posts ...

    Mike "Mish" Shedlock
    Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

    Welcome Constable Marron

    • It happened in the Australian wilderness. A young police officer was bitten by a mosquito and became immobilized, a quadriplegic who also cannot speak.

      Now he has traveled from down under to Chicago. Here, police officer Ryan Marron hopes he can regain what was lost. [...].

      The Chicago Police Department’s Pipe and Drum Corps and members of the department’s Sergeants’ Association marched through O’Hare International Airport with a new arrival in America on Wednesday — disabled Perth, Australia, police officer Ryan Marron.

      He and his loved ones hope that his paralysis can somehow be cured at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
    RIC has done some amazing work. A number of Officers have gone through their doors hoping to regain some semblance of normalcy following shootings and accidents. Sometimes the miracles happen. Hopefully Constable Marron can get something back that will grant him some relief from his debilitating condition.

    Lawsuit Reinstated

    • Mark Geinosky's federal lawsuit against the city of Chicago and eight of its police officers is back on, after the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed lower court's decision to throw out the case.

      Calling Geinosky's allegations of harassment through two-dozen bogus parking tickets "troubling," the three-member panel remanded the case back to the district court, saying Geinosky and his lawyers sufficiently argued he was singled out by officers who wrote the tickets.

      The ruling, written by Judge David F. Hamilton, said that at first blush, the case might seem like a good candidate for dismissal by the district court.

      "A closer look at the alleged facts, however, reveals a disturbing pattern," Hamilton wrote. "Absent a reasonable explanation, and none has even been suggested yet, the pattern adds up to deliberate and unjustified official harassment that is actionable under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

    And the fallout?

    • Late last year, Superintendent Garry McCarthy moved to have four officers fired for their alleged involvement in the case. Two of those officers are scheduled for a hearing before the Chicago Police Board on April 30.
    With the lawsuit back, guess what the outcome will be at the Board.

    Bi-Polar Electorate

    • Angry parents Wednesday accused Chicago Public Schools of playing favorites on the longer school day issue and paying staff to hold spaces in a very long ling to ensure pro-longer day speakers would be able to address board members.

    • Hundreds packed board chambers and an overflow room Wednesday, many of them supporting a day of 6.5 hours instead of the proposed 7.5 hour day proposed by CPS officials.

    So a longer day was a good idea, then it was a bad idea, now there's a compromise 6.5 hour day on the table.

    We're seeing the same thing with the red light cameras:
    • It's for the children;
    • Hey, wait a minute, what hours are the cameras running?
    • That seems excessive;

    And finally the aldercreatures delay hearings because the voters haven't any idea what they really want. And the cops are wondering where all the gravely injured kids are that the cameras are supposed to protect - there don't seem to be any.

    Oh, and that school budget shortfall? Getting bigger:

    • District officials were expected to update board members later Wednesday on their contentions that next year’s deficit could once again be as large as $700 million.

    All those cuts and it's still $700 million?

    Ten Days?

    • John Harris, who was chief of staff for Rod Blagojevich when both were arrested in December 2008, was sentenced today to just 10 days in prison for assisting the then-governor’s efforts to sell a vacant U.S. Senate seat.

      Harris apologized and acknowledged he failed to live up to his own standards. “I lost my way,” he told the judge.

      U.S. District Judge James Zagel said Harris was too close to power to avoid prison entirely. “The offense is so serious and so crucial that I cannot impose upon you a sentence that does not involve custody,” he said.

    We understand the first person to talk gets the best seat on the bus and Harris, a former CPD exempt who made the leap from obscurity to golden boy in short order, cooperated fully during both Blago trials. But this makes it appear Harris didn't even buy a ticket on the bus.

    On the flip side, if this is a trend, we'd expect to see Daley and Burke both in prison uniforms before the decade is over.

    54 Years

    • A reputed gang member was sentenced to 54 years in prison today for ramming a carload of teens on Chicago’s West Side and killing an 18-year-old college student because he mistakenly thought they were gang rivals.

      Shalimar Santiago, 30, showed no reaction as Judge Joseph Claps handed down the punishment for first-degree murder and seven counts of aggravated battery in the August 2009 crash that killed aspiring doctor Stephanie Herrera.

      Moments before, Santiago stood at the defense table in a tan jail jumpsuit and apologized to the victims, but he said it was all a tragic accident and he was not the monster portrayed by prosecutors.
    Correct us if we're wrong, but an accident involves an unforeseen set of circumstances. This was completely preventable and unnecessary. "Monster" is by far the mildest description we can imagine.

    It should have been around a one-hundred-fifty year sentence.

    FOP Responds

    The FOP responded to the Sun Times story:
    • No matter what you read in the Sun Times quoting “off the record” sources, there is no dispute between the FOP and the City regarding upcoming contract negotiations. Our agreement was timely re-opened on March 20, 2012, well within the time limits that apply for modifications that would improve your labor agreement, address the critical issue of manpower, the safety of the public and of police officers, increase your wages and improve officers’ welfare. Under the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, 5 ILCS 315/7, a party to a collective bargaining agreement must terminate or modify the agreement by giving the other side notice of the intent to terminate or modify the agreement 60 days before the expiration date. Our contract expires June 30. Therefore, any notice before May 1 would have been timely notice. The IPLRA does not require us to give the City notice by March 1.

      However, the labor agreement, Section 28.1, is anything but clear and unambiguous. The agreement provides that “notice of termination” must be given by March 1, 2012. FOP never intended to send a notice of termination. Our labor agreement needs modifications, not termination.

    On one hand, they seem to be seeking to alleviate fears. On the other, they seem to admit it's "anything but clear and unambiguous." And we all know how Rahm is going to have his lawyers interpret that.

    "Healthwreck": Obamacare May Go Down Entirely; Medicaid Funding in Question; Justice Scalia Joked Reading Entire Bill Would be "Cruel and Unusual Punishment"; Wrecking Operation or Salvage Job?

    Weak arguments presented by "team Obama" lawyers supporting Obama's healthcare legislation took a beating yesterday, and the beating continued even more so today.

    Please consider Day 3: ObamaCare at the Supreme Court by the Illinois Policy Institute.
    Today was the final marathon session of oral arguments over ObamaCare. It began this morning with the question of what to do with the rest of the law if the individual mandate is struck down, a very real possibility after yesterday's hearing.

    On this issue, both sides agree that if the mandate falls, at least some of the other provisions must fall with it. Most of the Justices seemed skeptical that the entire law should be thrown out, but where to draw the line was a question the Court was clearly struggling with.

    Some of the justices hinted that the difficulty in drawing that line could mean disaster for the whole law. Others noted that the Court has never struck down the heart of a statute but left an empty shell. At one point, Justice Kennedy expressed his concern that it might be worse to pick and choose which parts to strike down than to just overturn the whole law. Justice Scalia joked that forcing the Court to go through the law's thousands of pages and provisions one by one would be cruel and unusual punishment.

    The day ended with the question of whether the President can force states to expand their Medicaid programs to millions of new enrollees. As I explained earlier this week, Medicaid expansions have already failed the most vulnerable populations in Illinois, and ObamaCare is only going to make the problem worse.

    The four liberal justices appeared highly critical of the state's argument that conditioning pre-existing Medicaid funding on new expansions is too coercive. The conservative justices also expressed some skepticism that the forced expansion was unconstitutional, though they did press the administration to define the outer limits of that power.
    Justices Ask if Health Law Is Viable Without Mandate

    The New York Times reports Justices Ask if Health Law Is Viable Without Mandate.
    On the third and final day of Supreme Court arguments over President Obama’s health care overhaul law, several justices on Wednesday indicated a reluctance to pick and choose among the law's other provisions should the requirement that most Americans have health insurance be struck down.

    The questions from the justices indicated that at least some of them were considering either striking down just the requirement, often called the individual mandate, or the entire law.

    Paul D. Clement, representing 26 states challenging the law, urged the court to overturn the entire law. Edwin S. Kneedler, a deputy solicitor general, took a middle ground, suggesting that the court remove the mandate and only a couple of other provisions.

    The court separated the day’s arguments into two sessions. After the morning session, which focused on the effect of overturning the mandate, the afternoon's hearing dealt with the law’s expansion of Medicaid, part of its attempt to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance.

    In the second argument, the court’s more conservative justices expressed concern that the law’s Medicaid expansion was unduly coercive to states.

    “My approach would be to say that if you take the heart out of this statute,” Justice Antonin Scalia said, “the statute’s gone.”

    Justice Scalia, who suggested that the whole law would have to go, appeared to go further than some of the other justices, but many of them expressed skepticism that the rest of the law could remain intact if the court ruled the mandate to be unconstitutional.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the court’s task, should the key provision fall, a choice between “a wrecking operation” and “a salvage job.”
    Wrecking Operation or Salvage Job?

    There is nothing of merit to salvage in Obamacare. Even if there was, the Supreme Court should not have to read through thousands of pages to find it.

    The only things to "salvage" if key provisions are struck down, are Obama's inflated ego and his ability to say he passed healthcare legislation.

    Memo to Nancy Pelosi

    Hello Nancy: It seems the Supreme Court does not want to read the bill to find out what's in it.

    Sorry Team Obama, your bill was more like "Healthwreck" than "Healthcare".

    By the way, I have to ask: If the Supreme court strikes Obamacare, does it strike any provisions of Romneycare that passed in Massachusetts?

    Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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