Thursday, March 04, 2010

Markets yawn on jobless claims

The markets exhaled as jobless claims dipped a bit last week but there is some concern that the snow caused government offices to close early and that might have impacted claims data. We might seen an unusually large uptick next week. Friday's jobless data might be all over the map as a result of the crazy weather in the Northeast over the past month.

Lots of interesting reading on the web today....

* On the subject of military spending consider that China Declares Slowdown in Military Spending. Hmmm, are the Chinese reading Grindstone Financial again?

* A surprisingly gut wrenching personal account of one family's battle with cancer and the shocking end of life costs over a Bloomberg. End of life warning for $618k.

* Chilling accounts from Chile on the situation post earthquake. I think earthquake-fatigue and the lower casualty count relative to Haiti has removed this story from our collective consciousness, but I think we need to be aware of the devastation of that country's infrastructure. From Clarin - translated roughly into English....

"Its hordes killing and robbing, they don’t leave anything standing. And here I am with my wife and two kids, they are terrified. This is worse than the earthquake, we cant stand it no more, we have no power, no water, no gas, no oil, nothing. We organized with four other neighbors to defend ourselves.

and "My house is still standing and my family is ok, but the situation is anarchic. I had to send my wife and 3 daughters to a friends house in a gated community to protect them, and with another 7 neighbors we are protecting what little we have left."

* Stat of the day - It will take the US economy 17 years of growth at 5%/year (a growth rate far above historical norms) to lower our Debt to GDP ratio back down to a historical norm. If growth comes in at 3%/year -- it would take 28 years to bring our Debt to GDP back in line.

* Stat of the day Part Deux - From 2002 to 2007 the income at the top 1% of households grew 62% vs just 4% growth for the bottom 90% of households. Thus, income disparity is at it's widest level since 1928!! No wonder there is so much angst among voters.

* Gov. Christie is making waves -- no pun intended :) -- in NJ with a plan to kick part-time workers out of the state's pension system. He's also been in the news for cutting state aid to schools. I think he's operating in a bit of a bubble - he may ultimately balance the state budget but towns will just pass the costs along to citizens via higher property taxes. Nothing gets you voted out of office faster than rising property taxes, but I give him credit for telling the truth.


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