Hat tip to Brian Jones and his friend Cameron that passed along this photo from South Texas. So many issues facing America are summarized in one simple photo. Thanks for passing it along.
Late news - Amazon managed to surprise a few people. It was clear that Amazon was deeply discounting prices (they beat Walmart and Target by 20-30% on many popular toys) and by offering free shipping they capture more holiday spending. This helped their total sales but hurt their profitability. Some will try to spin this as a resurgence in tech - nothing could be further from the truth. Amazon is just a mid-tier retailer that started a price war and won this round. Nothing more, nothing less.
As of right now, all I've seen is a headline, but Toyota appears to be shutting production lines at 11 of its 12 factories in Japan. A bold move that signals more difficulties ahead.
Finally, a nice simple overview of why your bank is broke from Time -
"But do the math, and you can begin to understand how really botched this bailout has been. Since October, the government has deposited $165 billion into the accounts of the nation's eight largest banks. Yet those same financial firms are now worth $418 billion less than they were four months ago, and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the government's preferred shares are worth at least $20 billion less. In Wall Street terms, that's throwing good money after bad.
All told, the government's annualized rate of return on its investment in the nation's largest banks is -1,096%. That's well beyond Bernie Madoff territory; he topped out at a mere -100%."
Boy, I wish someone would have urged a little more caution when the first TARP bill was discussed.