Thursday, December 08, 2011

If we can't have snocones the terrorists have won

#Facepalm - So to say the government wastes money from time to time is like saying water is wet.  However, even for a jaded person like myself this story from Michigan was a bit "chilling".

"The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, which manages homeland security operations along the western Michigan shoreline, recently gave snow cone machines costing $11,700 to 13 counties under its jurisdiction."

However, before you lose all faith in government take heart in knowing that "one county's request for a popcorn machine "was denied."  YES!! USA! USA! 

I haven't revisited the SNAP or food stamp numbers in awhile because frankly there has been no change in their trajectory which has been straight up.  If, as we are told, the recession ended 2 years ago we should see some leveling off of the food stamp participation but in fact in continues to spike higher. 

This bolsters the argument that I make that we are in fact dealing with 2 increasingly separate economies.  We have a US corporate economy that emerged from the recession in 2009 and is slowly trying to recover lost ground.  We also have a US consumer economy that is still reeling and I believe is still mired in a recession.  When you factor in the shifting job landscape in America where we are losing high end jobs at Citibank -4500 announced yesterday - and AstraZeneca - 1500 announced yesterday - and replacing them with retail and food service jobs you get a chart that looks like this....

What's interesting to note is that even in the middle of the housing bubble (2002-2007) food stamp usage was growing and nearing record levels.  I suspect that some of the increased usage can be attributed to the fact that we switched to electronic benefits which has removed some of the stigma associated with Food Stamps.

The rumors out of  Europe will drive the market today.  I'll wait to comment until we hear something official but my best guess is that the leaders will all say the right things on Friday.  However, actually cobbling together this coalition seems to be increasingly unlikely and I expect we could get some fairly nasty surprises next week.  However, I'd be happy to be wrong on this one :)

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