Wednesday, March 19, 2008

White House: Mum's the word on the US dollar

Believe it or not, Dana Perino, the bubble-headed bleach blonde who masquerades as the White House Press Secretary, let it be known that she is not allowed to talk about the shrinking dollar, under penalty of getting shitcanned.

Maybe if we don't talk about it, the problem will go away.

Arthur C. Clarke has passed

The Starchild
Arthur C. Clarke, famed science fiction author, has passed away in his adopted home of Sri Lanka. He was 90 years young.

Mr Clarke invented the concept of a world-circling satellite communications system in a paper published in 1945. He then went on to write some of the best short stories and novels of science fiction that the genre has produced, including Against the Fall of Night, The Other Side of the Sky, and Childhood's End, arguably the best science fiction novel ever written, as well as the source for Stanley Kubrick's motion picture 2001: A Space Odyssey, which some have put forward as the best film ever made. In total, he wrote or collaborated on almost 100 books of speculative fiction as well as real science for the layman.

A British subject, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.

His last novel, co-written with Frederick Pohl and due out later this year, is appropriately titled The Last Theorem.

He will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A financial crisis unmatched ...

The market is slipping at the rate of 1,500 points per month.

For those of my Gentle Readers who are not aware of my reading habits, it should be known that I subscribe to a number of financial newsletters, such as MarketWatch, The Financial Times, The Economist, RGE Monitor, etc. Lately, as I peruse the contents of my inbox, I feel like I'm standing on the Lip of the Abyss, and I'm getting vertigo.

Here's one of the more benign MS's I've received recently, this one from the Top Story page of the UK Guardian.

A financial crisis unmatched since the Great Depression, say analysts

* Larry Elliott, economics editor
* The Guardian,
* Tuesday March 18 2008

This article appeared in the Guardian on Tuesday March 18 2008. It was last updated at 00:09 on March 18 2008.

A century after John Pierpont Morgan rescued the New York stockmarket from a 50% sell off in share prices, his blue-blooded Wall Street bank was yesterday once again at the heart of attempts to contain the deepening global financial crisis.

In an echo of the "bankers' panic" of 1907, JP Morgan responded to what is being billed as a meltdown of historic proportions by agreeing to buy its stricken rival, Bear Stearns.

The length and severity of the crisis that broke over global markets last summer has had analysts delving into their history books. George Soros, who was largely responsible for Black Wednesday, the last bout of serious financial turmoil to afflict the UK, believes there has been nothing to match the events of the past nine months since the Great Depression.

Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Fed and the man blamed by many for setting off the boom-bust in the US housing market, agrees with the man who broke the Bank of England. Writing in the Financial Times yesterday, Greenspan said: "The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged as the most wrenching since the end of the second world war." [More...]

Greenspan, as you may recall, is the guy who helped engineer this pile of monkey dung in the first place, so I wouldn't put too much credence in his optimism.

St Valentine's Day is past, but we have another holiday coming up. Future historians might call this particular piece of work the Easter Egg Hunt That Went South.