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Saturday, November 08, 2008

DC Money Show and more

I spent the weekend at the Washington D.C., Money show. The show has shrunk from last year, and the opinions ranged from "this is an incredible time to buy" to "Aaaaaaiiiiiii!!!!!" I'll have more about that in Wednesday's Money and Markets column.

This morning, the market is rising on news of a $586 stimulus plan in China and a new A.I.G. bailout in Washington. I'm not sure why the market thinks this is good news. Last time I looked, the Federal Debt had soared to such levels that each American now owes over $32,000. I think that's unsustainable, as long as the US dollar holds its present value.

In other words, it would be a lot easier to bear if that debt was only (in relative terms), $3,200. That's not so scary, is it? I wonder if Uncle Sam is thinking the same thing. The Russians are already letting the ruble devalue like a stone falling from heaven.

You could say that Paulson's hand-outs of billions of dollars at a time are just the latest twist in the Bush gang's efforts to loot the public purse before they leave office. Jerome at DailyKos asks: Can Obama Stop the Looting Before It's Too Late? I don't think Jerome should get his hopes up -- the handover of power seems to be much too friendly for there to be a disruption of the pigs at the trough -- and I found especially interesting this line from a Bloomberg story that Jerome links to: Americans have no idea where their money is going or what securities the banks are pledging in return.

Here's the news I'm reading now ...

AIG May Get More in Bailout
When the restructured deal is complete, taxpayers will have invested and lent a total of $150 billion to A.I.G., the most the government has ever directed to a single private enterprise. It is a stark reversal of the government’s assurance that its earlier moves had stabilized A.I.G.
XX Sean's note -- Funny, isn't it, how eager Treasury Secretary Paulson is to throw $40 billion at a pop at A.I.G, but there's great rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over a proposed $50 billion loan package for the auto industry. Heck, even Australia is giving its car makers $6 billion over 15 years.

Europe, Asia Markets Surge on China Stimulus Plan
The gains come in the wake of Chinese government's unveiling of a massive 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package to help stave off much of the economic slowdown. The package involves a mix of spending, subsidies, looser credit policies and tax cuts.

China's economic growth slowed to 9 percent in the third quarter, the lowest level in five years and a sharp decline from 11.9 percent the year before -- perilously low for a government that needs to create jobs for millions of new workers and for other Asian countries that have come to depend heavily on Chinese demand.

Believing in Estimates Means 20% Advance for S&P 500

The average Wall Street forecast calls for the S&P 500 to break out of a bear market and surge 20 percent to 1,118 by Dec. 31 -- more than twice as much as the biggest-ever advance to close out a year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Strategists were even more bullish at the beginning of the year, predicting that the S&P 500 would end 2008 at a record 1,632.

OPEC president: Oil cuts likely if no price rally
OPEC nations could further reduce oil output if moves last month to slash production do not bolster plummeting oil prices, OPEC president Chakib Khelil said Saturday.
Saudi Aramco Says Oil Price Falls May Curb Investment

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest state-owned oil company, said a further drop in crude oil prices may curtail investments needed to offset declining output in aging fields.

Investment is also needed to expand production capacity to meet long-term demand growth, Chief Executive Officer Abdallah Jum'ah said in a handout distributed today at an industry summit in Beijing.

Saudi Aramco to Cut December Crude Oil Supplies to Asia by as Much as 6% Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest state oil company, will cut crude supplies to Asia in December for the first time in at least a year as demand slumps for naphtha and diesel fuel.

Gold Advances in London Trading as Higher Oil, Weaker Dollar Boost Demand Gold rose for a second day in London as higher crude-oil prices and a weaker dollar boosted demand for the metal as a hedge against inflation.

Finally, in Sunday's New York Times, Al Gore proposes "a five-part plan to repower America with a commitment to producing 100% of our electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years."

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