Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Bailouts for the EU

It's truly staggering to me the sums of money that are now tossed around as we've become desensitized to the news in a bailout world.

Portugal - who like all of the rest of PIIGS didn't need a bailout until they suddenly did - looks like they need about $100 billion. Ireland is in the midst of stress testing their banks and the word on the street is that they'll need more money as well.

At some point, someone will have to have the courage to ask "what happens if we stop these bailouts?".

* There was a slight uptick in miles driven in the US in January. That's particularly impressive given that Snowmageddon I - IV hampered travel around the Northeast and crushed the hiring data that month. I'm a little concerned however that miles driven will start to decline as gas hovers around $3.70. This will begin to show up in the March and April data (not out until May or June).

* The new home sales data yesterday was the most shocking thing I've seen in some time. The annualized run rate of new home sales for the entire country was 250,000 units which is a new all-time low. The actual sales data for February showed 19,000 new homes sold in the US (not seasonally adjusted). 19,000 houses for a country of 300 million people?!? This is a very distressing number and while I think some of the decline is attributed to deals people can find in used homes this will have to be watched in coming months.

* Consumers feeling the pinch of higher gas, oil and food prices? The Consumer Comfort index, fell to a 7 month low. "Consumer confidence in the U.S. fell last week to the lowest level since August as more Americans became despondent over the economy. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index dropped to minus 48.9 in the period to March 20 from minus 48.5 the prior week. The measure of the current state of the economy slumped to a 15-month low."


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