Sales of New Housing Down 11%

In the flower of Econo-Girl's childhood, she was so obnoxious it defies description. Frequently she would say, "Hate to say I told you so" to the limited joy of those around her.

So I will refrain from that refrain now.

However, let it be noted that the housing boom seems to have busted, even in the eyes of the evil CNN Money, syncophant to the mentally dead. Econo-Girl's eyes widen, as does everyone's, at the idea of getting SO MUCH RICHER by doing nothing but paying her mortgage, which she would have to do anyway.

What a compensation for those who were fooled by the dot com stock fiasco. You aren't idiots anymore! Call that house an 'investment' and you are a genius!

The truth is, we are just lucky. We take a guess, and we are lucky.

Econo-Girl moved into this section of DC when it was a ghetto. Kids were shot on their porches, stray bullets killed grandmothers in their living rooms, and gangs collected on corners to guard their territory. Sure, there was a new Metro stop, but that didn't guarantee anything. Sure there were plans to build a big supermarket and an urban mall, but no one really knew what would happen.

Fundementally, Econo-Girl looked around and said, I could live here. I like it here. As it is. Not for what it could be. And so that is how Econo-Girl became "that white lady with the dog" to the kids in the neighborhood.

Now that the neighborhood is changing, Econo-Girl doesn't like it as much. The new people moving in aren't as friendly and the sense of community is eroding. Ahhh, well. Isn't the past always better?

Roasted Chesnut Recipe

Recipes for Hot Roasted Chestnuts
Ingredients:1 pound fresh chestnuts in the shellWater
Chestnuts are like popcorn kernels, with a tough shell that traps moisture. And like popcorn, chestnuts will explode if you don't slit their shells before roasting. Use the point of a paring knife to cut a large "X" into the flat side of the shell to let the steam escape. Be sure to cut through the skin. The cooking methods below yield about 2½ cups — enough to serve four.
Note: Do not use a microwave oven. The chestnuts' texture is likely to turn gummy.
For this method, it's best to use a chestnut roaster, a cagelike device with a long handle specially designed for use in the fireplace. After slitting X's in the chestnuts, place them in the roaster and hold it over hot coals. Roast chestnuts for 8 to 10 minutes, shaking the roaster from time to time.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. After scoring them, place chestnuts in a single layer in a baking pan and sprinkle generously with water. Roast 17 to 20 minutes, or until the X-cut opens up and the shell begins to char. Continue to sprinkle water over chestnuts as they bake to prevent them from drying out. Stir occasionally.
Peel both the shell and the skin off the roasted chestnuts while they are still hot. (If they cool so much that the shell won't easily come off, reheat them briefly.)
Serve fresh from the oven because their flavor declines as they stand; they are always at their best when hot.
Heat a heavy sauté pan for one minute. When it's hot, add chestnuts in a single layer, sprinkle with a small amount of water, and cover the pan. Medium-high heat works best. Shake the pan often and continue to sprinkle with water, until shells begin to char and the X-cut opens up. Cooking time: about 10 minutes. After chestnuts are cooked, remove them from the pan and wrap them in a tea towel to retain moisture. Peel and eat as soon as they are cool enough to handle.
www.csmonitor.com Copyright © 2005 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.


Hemline Watching

Just as we are getting notice that consumer prices are falling by the most they have ever fallen in 56 years, Econo-Girl is noticing that micro miniskirts are back!
A few posts ago, Econo-Girl posited a few thoughts about deflation.  Usually deflation is bad.  I mean really bad.  It generally means that no one has enough money to buy stuff, so in order to sell anything at all, retailers have to drop prices.  It's what's been happening in Japan this past decade and they are only now pulling out of it.
This is why Econo-Girl is not predicting doom with deflation:  skirt hemlines are going up.  Yes, that's it.  Nothing else.  In fact, it is underwear-peeking time, like in the late '90s. 
Some of you may not take comfort in that comparison.  Econo-Girl can see why.  But for the immediate and short term, there will be no economic collapse.  You heard it here first.


Leisure Lad's Latest Fad

Perhaps that characterization is unfair.  Leisure Lad is going to the George Washington University's Weight Clinic.  For four months, he will drink a protein shake under medical supervision.  Just gearing up for it, he has lost 10 pounds.
Econo-Girl will confess a fondness for portly men.  But the Leisure Lad has diabetes, and that is an exception.  Despite the extra weight, he is incredibly strong.  Econo-Girl is glad he is taking his weight seriously.
Have you heard of the Amish diet?  Eat scrapple, eggs, shoe-fly pie and walk 19 miles a day.
A recent study somewhere has linked weight control with walking.  Not going to the gym, not pumping iron, but plain walking.  Granted, people don't walk nearly as much as they used to one hundred years ago.  And it wouldn't hurt them if they did.  But is that the only factor in American obesity?
How about the food industry?  But no one is taking the cash out of my wallet and shoving food in my mouth. I do that all on my own.
Confusion about what healthy eating is?  Yes, because whenever one study says fat is bad, another says it is good.  The same is true for carbs, protein, etc.  So the public has no standard to rely on.  And no, Econo-Girl does not trust the FDA's Food Pyramid because she gained ten pounds using it.
Even Weight Watchers has lost Econo-Girl's respect.  The new system has a person only eating a nominal amount each day to 'save' for extra eating on the weekends.  Not a path to dietary success, guys.    Soon it won't just be on the weekends, as we all know.
A possible solution is in the air.  In London, the city has instituted a hefty tax on people who drive into the city.  Traffic is way down.  Everyone is taking the train.  Talk abounds about doing that in DC.  What a great way to trim our tummies at the same time!


Our Heat is Out

Our heat is out and the spammers have abandoned my blog. Things are looking grim.

Econo-Girl cannot find wood pellets to save her life, either. Alas, they always sell out around here. But with the current situation, finding those damn wood pellets is high on my list.

It is quite fashionable to use alternative fuels these days. And it is such a good feeling, too. A nice fire that produces steady heat. We didn't really appreciate how much heat it was providing until we ran out of fuel.

So it's off to the hinterlands to find some pellets!


Tips on Saving

"The Latte Factor"???  That is what economists and financial advisors are calling the habit of paying $5 for a cup of coffee when all you have to do is to put that $5 in the bank instead.
Econo-Girl is no stranger to frittering money away.  But at some point she tallied money spent and realized that she wasn't getting the most bang for the buck, as in spending $100 a month on taxis.  A little more planning and effort would save about $80 of that to be used for overpriced coffee. 
The real point of this cheapskate trend is to savor what really gives you pleasure.  Econo-Girl worships her morning coffee.  It is made with an expensive coffee maker that makes the best coffee on Earth.  Econo-Girl generally won't pay for coffee anywhere and will only drink her own.
A close second, and the old way Econo-Girl made her coffee was to use one of those manual things where you poured the grounds into a clear plastic cup, poured in water, let it sit, and then pressed down on a plunger to get all the coffee grounds to the bottom.  Another great cup of coffee.
Coffee preferences aside, this is about enjoyment.  Starving yourself and those around you from any joy is not the way to live.  Paying attention to where your money is going, and making sure that you want the things you are buying, that is true thrift.


Mortgage Defaults

Click on this link to hear about mortgage defaults for Katrina survivors.
Imagine being expected to pay on a mortgage when the house isn't even there anymore!  Econo-Girl wouldn't. 
What would the structural issues be for the mortgage market with all of these defaults?  Econo-Girl thinks that it will make mortgage rates even higher and getting a mortgage will be harder.
No less than Alan Greenspan has warned Fannie Mae that it is overextended in providing mortgages, and he said there is considerable risk right now to the entire mortgage system because of it.  One of the risks Greenspan warned about was a larger number of defaults.
Econo-Girl and Leisure Lad are trying to sell his coop in DC.  My goodness, the prices have gone down.  And it takes longer to sell something.
The upshot of all this information is that Econo-Girl sees long term mortgage rates rising rapidly in the next six months.  By mid-summer of 2006, we will be wistfully recalling the rates of 2005. 


The Death Penalty

A great remembrance of an old W. quote about the death penalty.  Is that what Jesus would do?  Sneer at a death row inmate who was pleading for her life?  Jesus was executed, too, bud.
Econo-Girl has always maintained that there are simply some people who like to kill.  Some of them are elected officials in Texas.


The Candy Machine Inflation Index

There are many mundane things that Econo-Girl looks to in determining the rate of inflation:  the price of milk and eggs, the price of fresh produce, the structural issues around the supply and cost of gas, to name but a few.  But there is one indicator that is absolute:  the prices for candy in candy machines.  Why absolute?  Because that price NEVER GOES DOWN.  EVER.
Econo-Girl was again indulging her pechance for Peanut M & Ms when she saw THE PRICE HAD RISEN 25% SINCE YESTERDAY! 
Hold on tight, my little dumplings.  We are in for a wild ride.


The Greatest Invention

OK, OK, maybe not the greatest.  But click on the link:
to read about a sound emitter that repels teenagers because only teens and younger can hear the high-pitched sound.
Econo-Girl lives in a decidedly urban environment that is going to host a Wal-Mart soon.  That store will be right next to a giant high school.  Wonder if they will use something like this device to keep the kids under control.
And think of other applications.  I mean, how about an anti-teenager sound emitter in public parks taken over by drug dealers?  Or on corners being patrolled by gangs?  How about at hookey hideouts? 
Econo-Girl wants to buy one of these things.
There are those of you who might think Econo-Girl is being a bit nasty.  So what.  Let them walk around a bit.  It's good exercise.


Move Over, OPEC

Check out the Slate article:
It reviews the idea of oil BUYERS getting together and forming a cartel of their own!  Wouldn't that be cool? 

Hmmm. Deflation?

Is Econo-Girl crazy?  No one else on Earth, even the depressive Economist magazine, is predicting deflation.  Deflation is lowering prices rather than rising prices.  Inflation is when prices go up.
This is why Econo-Girl goes out on the limb to predict deflation:  because the de-escalation of prices has a snowballing effect.  Shoppers know that if they wait, prices will be cheaper. So they wait.  It is happening in the DC real estate market now.  And Econo-Girl predicts that it will be seen as happening by Christmas.  People will wait for prices to go down.  The poor sales will prompt more prices reductions. 
This prediction is for the short term only.  But it all hinges on consumer belief.  If they believe that prices will continue to go down and consequently wait to spend, then prices will come down to meet them.


The Silliness of an Econo-Girl

Much to the amusement of Leisure Lad, Econo-Girl is taking all the little things she buys for us and gift wraps it.  And on Christmas Eve, the packages will be opened to much delight and surprise.
Econo-Girl is reasonably sure that she will be surprised on Christmas Eve since she has no doubt whatever that she will NOT remember what she bought.
Econo-Girl intends to make this season one of her brightest.  Even some of her less domestically adventurous comrades are doing the same.  Econo-Girl calls it the Katrina effect.  It is the need to hold your loved ones close and tell them you love them. 
And nothing comforts quite like tradition, even if you've never actually done it before.  In this case, I am roasting chestnuts this season.  No one in my entire gene pool for the last century has roasted chestnuts.  That's a New England WASP thing, and Econo-Girl's background is central European.  Think Polish Easter Tree and blood sausages.
But Anglo-Saxon holiday myth envelopes my mind like it does most Americans, whether we will admit it or not.  And roasted chestnuts and white Christmases are a part of it.
Hey!  Maybe we can organize Christmas carols this year!  Econo-Girl did that once and it was damn fun.


Maureen Dowd Won't Listen To Me

Econo-Girl has written Maureen Dowd several times to offer tips and advice on her man problems.  No response.
So blogosphere, here it is:
Get over yourself.  That is to say, get over your social indoctrination to score a mate that is possessing of characteristics that would make your Mother happy.
Econo-Girl was a tender age at the beginning of feminism in the US.  She still remembers the outright laughing at spending as much money on female athletics as male athletics in high school.  And how girls were not allowed to take shop, and had to take home ec instead.
So women of a certain in-between generation can find themselves with a basket of leftover Neanderthals to pick from.  Unless they go younger.  Maureen Dowd is pretty and smart.  There is a guy out there for her who may not fit the typecast for a 'successful male.'  DC is full of successful men, and they are lousy lovers.
So Maureen, get yourself a red hot chili pepper lover, like Leisure Lad.  A romantic and a poet.  A devoted and caring man.  That's what you need to look for.


Christmas Shopping

Econo-Girl comes from a family with a lot of emotional issues around gift-giving.  That makes these holidays particularly difficult.  So all of us got together and decided that only children get gifts. 
So dredging the department stores on behalf of my sisters and brothers-in-law is not on the list this year.  And Econo-Girl is looking forward to the holiday. 
Econo-Girl also wants to note that the Martha Stewart holiday decorations at KMart.com are already starting to sell out.  Good for her!  And not surprising, considering the prices.  KMart.com is a good place to buy generally.
Another good shopping online venue is Overstock.com.  But Econo-Girl has not had the best success with their toys.  But lots of success for home furnishings and adornments and clothes.  Great rugs there, too.  Wonderful prices on pearl necklaces.  Surprise your mother on the cheap!
About EBay.  Econo-Girl gets her antique quilts there, something for which she has a decided weakness.  But she has the sneaking fear that much of what is sold on EBay is stolen/shoplifted.  So she is not comfortable buying regular things there.  And an intrepid consumer could look for the same items at Overstock.com and often find them less expensive there.
The American Book Exchange is another great place for bargains, and the otherwise hard-to-find book.  Leisure Lad practically lives on the web page.  It is called ABEBooks.com, or something close to it.  Google it and see.
For that person difficult to please, send holiday snacks from HarryandDavid.com.  OK, not the cheapest.  But very hard to argue about.
Another great place for rugs is HomeDecorators.com.  Good quality and good prices.
Econo-Girl despises the holiday rush and so has completed her Christmas shopping, almost.  Completely online.  And they wrap it for you and send it!  Whee!


You Wonder Where They Got It?

Great article in the New York Times today about torture and how the US got so good at it.

We learned from the Soviet Union. You know, that great, big country that imploded on itself and split into all these little pieces? That one. The example should be heartening to those states' rights types.

What Econo-Girl wants to know is if torture is against core American beliefs, why is the Vice President wanting to keep torture as an option for certain government agencies? And WHY isn't anyone asking the President that?


Over the weekend, Econo-Girl got highly upset at her sister. Once again, my sister listened to an idea I had and proceeded to start listing all the things that could go wrong with it.

If there are any readers out there who can relate to this, let me know.

There are ways to listen effectively, and ways to communicate potential problems effectively. First of all, running down a list of problems with a person's idea is just negative. They are in the moment, excitedly sharing with you a new thought. Maybe in subsequent conversations, ask if the person is open to some dialogue on potential problems. Not as the first thing out of your mouth.


What Makes America Great - According to the UK

Click on the title to this post and you will read a diverting article on - I guess you would call it a hobby - pumpkin shooting in America. People in Delaware are building weapons of mass destruction to shoot 10 pound pumpkins into the air.

Econo-Girl has always believed that every country has something ridiculous about it. In Saudi Arabia, people 'picnic' in the parking lot of a grocery store. In an alley. On the sidewalk. Scenery and nature are not part of the equation. In Germany, on Walk-To-Work Day, the people walk in the street to work, but still obey all the traffic lights. I can't even begin to imagine that happening here, or anywhere else for that matter. In South Africa, drunk driving ads say "Be Careful When You Cross the Street" rather than "Don't Drink and Drive."

Every country lies to itself about something. In continental Europe it is the Holocaust and their role in it. In the United States it is how we treat the American Indian and African American. To get a better idea, read "Black Like Me." Classic book where a white Southerner disguises himself as a black man and walks around the segregationist South. A very dangerous thing to do. In Brazil, it is common for 10-year-old girls to have sex with adult boyfriends. At 12, they move in with them. The Greeks don't want to talk about the slaughter of the Armenians. The Austrians don't want to talk about cooperating with Hitler. And let's not forget the Japanese and their 'comfort' women, which they at least admit to now.

Econo-Girl mentions all this as a way of saying we are all ridiculous and have the potential for evil. Just as we point to the follies of others, we also have follies. Too many economists do not take the follies of humanity into account in predicting rational economic behaviour. Econo-Girl aims to set the matter straight.


CNN Money Should Be Ashamed!

Click on the below link to see an insulting recount of the value of the dollar:
Damn CNN Money! 
Econo-Girl is upset at another well-read business article that sounds as if it is reporting on a football game.
The article rewritten: 
US is great!  Yeah for us!  Yeah for US!  We are going up!  Up is good!
Those other guys are dropping.  Dropping is for losers.  Losers!  Ha!  No one knows how we do it.  Neither do we.  But we're still better than you are.
Look at all the things that are going up for us:  consumer sentiment, gas affordability, etc.  Those dumb Europeans are only now starting to raise interest rates like we did over a year ago.  Ha!
Our markets are more true capitalist, and that makes up BETTER THAN FANCY PANTS EUROPEANS WHO DON'T USE DEODORANT!

Poole's Pendulum

Click on the title to this post and read Bill Poole's take on our twin deficits.

Rather optimistic in Econo-Girl's eyes. He cites 'sound' policy as a way for the US to get out of its Federal deficit and trade deficit. Limit inflation, he argues. Take a sensible approach to long-term solvency in the Federal budget.

To limit inflation, the Fed will raise interest rates. That will put a cap on consumer spending as the costs of paying off credit cards will go up. That in turn will limit the growth of our economy, since there is less money to spend. And that, my dear ducklings, is what is called a 'recession.'

Note to Poole: Are you saying that years of sensible policies will erase the damage from years of insensible ones?


House Prices Falling!

Well, well, well. It seems that even CNN Money is on to the changes in the real estate market. Although to be fair, Hayes is one of the better commentators I've read.

Click on the title to this post, and party!

And don't think of buying now. It will be tempting, but the real deals will be in a year.

Heh heh heh.


Irrational Exuberance 2nd ed.

Econo-Girl is distracted by her second edition Irrational Exuberance book.  The author was the one that called the stock market bubble in 2000.  He says we've just transferred our fever to the real estate markets.
His book is shockingly realistic for an egghead.  He actually admits the emotions play a part in bidding up stock and property prices.  And then he describes how human reaction just accelerates the bidding.
The big thing is, since the conservative revolution in the 1980's, people have identified themselves increasingly with their role in the marketplace, as opposed to as a father or friend.  So if you fail at investments, somehow you became a 'loser.'  And if it seems that everyone is putting money into tech stocks but you, you don't want to be a loser and keep out of it.  You want to be a winner and buy in.  So at those sloshy cocktail parties you can join the braggarts and morph into a winner yourself.
It's all so sad. 


Better Watch Out, Better Not Cry

Click on the hyperlinked title to this post. Former Fed Chief Paul Volker warns the US of inflation. It's great to be retired with gravitas. You can say anything. How seriously would you take it if Geraldo Rivera said the same thing?

Volcker warns that the US is "spending about 6 or 7 % ... more than it is producing." And get this - he thinks that's unsustainable! Egad! You don't say! Now if you or me decided to spend 6 or 7% more than we produce, maybe we also could use the story that we are stimulating demand. And that the rebound effect would generate tax revenues that would more than compensate for whatever shortfalls we were creating short term.

Econo-Girl also thinks we are in for a spate of inflation. Things to do: buy gold and pearls, buy inflation-adjusted bonds, get a government job that is inflation-indexed, get rid of flexible-rate debt in mortgages and credit cards, buy in bulk starting in about six months, get extra staples on sale now that you know you will need in the future but don't need right now like sneakers, learn to make food and freeze it and learn how long it can be safely kept that way.

These are just a few ideas. Econo-Girl likes getting over on the system. She wants you to do it, too.

As a postscript, if you've eaten a chicken and nothing is left but the bones, pull out that old slow-cooker and throw the bones in with a lot of water. Heat it up for six hours. You then have chicken broth for a year. You may not be wanting it now, but when you have the flu you don't want to be scrambling around for enough cash and then go into the cold for soup.


A Few Economics Jokes

Hey, did you know that George Bush is moving the White House to the tropics? And with global warming, he doesn't even have to move!

I have always wanted a million-dollar house in the tropics. And with inflation and global warming, I won't even have to move!


Real Estate Prices Going Down

Econo-Girl employed the surest methodolgy for testing the local real estate market. She walked around Washington neighborhoods looking at houses that were for sale.

Good news, little dumplings! House and condo prices are starting to fall. Noticably fall.

Granted, we are talking the Washington, DC market and not necessarily all real estate in the land. But it is beginning to happen. A nice, two bedroom house has been on the market for over a week when it is going for $289,000. In DC terms, that's a steal.

Don't buy a condo or house in the next six months. You heard it here first.



Econo-Girl's eagle eye is out for any discrepancies between thought and deed.  She has alighted on benighted Bernanake, soon to be Fed chief.
Didn't Bernanke say that he wasn't going to be making extraneous comments about the economy at large, and restrict himself to the topic of interest rates?  Already he is commenting that there is NO REAL ESTATE BUBBLE. 
He is wrong.  Econo-Girl has gone on at length about this topic before, but let her sum it up for you.  The median income cannot buy the median-priced house.  The rental income from properties as part of a P/E ratio shows that real estate assets are overpriced.  Alan Greenspan says that the market is frothy in places, and he called the last bubble.  Houses are not investments, they are a place to live (unless you rent out a part of your house).
The important part is BERNANKE IS COMMENTING on things other than THE INTEREST RATE!  He isn't even in the new job and he can't resist chatting away about his opinion. 
And about his opinion, at least GREENSPAN WAS HONEST.  Bernanke is gilding the lily to prevent a storm on the real estate market.  Asset glut, indeed.


Failures of the Marketplace

Econo-Girl was discussing the issue of flu vaccines related to a previous post. The 'shortage' of flu vaccines is another example of the failures of a purely market-driven system of resource distribution. There was not economic incentive to produce enough vaccine for everyone. So enough was not created. That's what you call efficient?

Econo-Girl said it once, and will say it again:

Sometimes the Invisible Hand of the marketplace needs a slap from a ruler.


The Canary in the Gold Mine

Econo-Girl is willing to concede that occaisionally CNN Money has a good article. Click on the title to this post to see what a seasoned professional is doing with his US real estate: selling it.

Flu Vaccine Supply

Well my little dumplings, there is something new to be hysterical about, other than terrorism and the ineptitude of our own government during natural disasters. 
Who else remembers the President telling the American public to keep an eye out for terrorists, that there were big terror plans afoot and he trusted the American public to report any suspicions to avert an attack?  This is the same crowd that keeps Las Vegas a big money-maker.  (Yes, Econo-Girl hates Vegas and gambling).
But now we have something new to distract us from the looting of our national Treasury.  It is bird flu hysteria.  The latest fear orgy is dependent on the short supply of bird flu vaccine.
The BBC Newshour radio program had a segment about the prioritization of flu shots.  There is a couple there who claim that 70 years on Earth is a good, long time and the elderly should not be at the top of the list for getting flu vaccines.  Children should be.  Their evidence is that last flu pandemic after World War I, most of the fatalities were children, not the elderly.  So their argument is that children should get the vaccine first. 
A lot can be said about a civilization by examining how their resources are allocated.  Older people are valued more than in 1915.  But are children valued less?  Should older Americans be asked to volunteer their flu vaccine to a waiting child?  I bet a lot of them would do it.  Econo-Girl, the font of wisdom on most fronts, has no ready answer to this issue.  But it is one that should at least be discussed.


Consumer Sentiment Dips!

See this link:
How is it that the very people paid good money to watch the economy are SURPRISED that consumer sentiment is lower?  Don't they get their own gas and groceries?  Econo-Girl almost fell over dead at the cost of a few groceries Sunday night.  How can a family with children be making ends meet?  It's going to be a tough winter.
On a related note, Econo-Girl acquired a wood pellet stove a few years ago and it is her prized possession.  No one in DC or the surrounding suburbs even heard of a pellet stove.  And now, because her house was built in 1908, Econo-Girl has a coal-burning fireplace in the dining room she is going to outfit.
You can go on the Internet and get exact cast iron replicas of old fireplace inserts that also burn wood and wood pellets.
The purpose is to hedge our bets against the fall of civilization, or at least the loss of electricity for a week.  And it is so cozy!

Bernanke and Asset Bubbles

Everyone is lauding the appointment of Bernanke as America's First Banker.  Great.  Econo-Girl is happy for you, dude.
Part of the joy is market uncomfortability at Greenspan's murmurs about overpriced assets.  The first time he did this, all the talking heads spit and sputtered about an old outdated man who wasn't hip to the new economy.  Of course Greenspan was correct in the end.  How many annoyingly uninformed people wish they had listened to him now?
But at the time, it was the equivalent of mentioning that the Emperor had no clothes.  You would have thought that Greenspan poked them with hot pig iron.
Again, quite recently, Greenspan issued a warning about 'froth' in some parts of the housing market.  Again, all the people making money quickly protested, although this time they were nicer. 
The hopes of Wall Street are that the new guy will stop interfering with prescient remarks.  Stop stating the obvious, you Fed Chief, you!  Don't point out the way of common sense.  Don't refute the lies we tell to make money.
Econo-Girl is reminded when she got her last mortgage.  The mortgage broker said, "Take an interest-only mortgage.  The rates won't get that high." "How is that?" asked intrepid little Econo-Girl.  "Because THEY won't let it happen," was the reply.  "Who's THEY?" Econo-Girl asked.  Of course the poor man had no idea.  He went to a meeting at his company and some egghead getting a percentage said so.  THEY.  Who's THEY?
So the markets are hoping the U.S. is getting a less commentative Fed Chief.  That is impossible. Since the markets do NOT ACT RATIONALLY, but instead heave and ho like an orangutan looking for his Ritalin, and over-react to anything, it is necessary for any Fed Chief to fill in the blanks on what is motivating them.  And if a few sage words will work to highlight an oncoming train, then Greenspan, and now Bernanke, will indeed say something to the markets.
Even if it is afield of the topic of money supply and short term interest rates.


The New Guy

So there's going to be a new guy in town. The new Fed chief is rumored to be Bernake. What difference does that make?

Econo-Girl thinks that temperment plays a small part in the doings of the Fed. Even if you thought the last guy was a little off the mark, radical change would result in market panic. So if there are shifts, they will be slow in coming and, well, incremental.

You could be the Psychic of the Markets and All Things Financial, and if you made sudden and striking moves, the results would be counterproductive. Remember, we are dealing with a bunch of neurotic cokeheads here. They don't think rationally.

Expectations play a larger role and that is essentially what the Fed has to manage as well as the money supply.


Why I Hate Ayn Rand

For the same reason I hate Karl Marx.  Both are theoretical and have no grasp of human nature.  Econo-Girl is suffering through an Ayn Rand book right now because it's good for her.  And of course, one has to read it before dismissing it.
First of all, how can you trust someone who can't spell the simplest name in the English language?  Especially if it's her own name.
The book describes a person who is an individual in a totalitarian state.  Econo-Girl snorts with disgust because the author has no grasp of the underbelly of human nature, and therefore, human economies. 
Is she so naive that there is no room for a contraband economy?  Where is the very human dichotomy between what we say and what we do?  And the resulting opportunity to make money off of it?  And of course, the existence of an underground economy, resting on the reality of human nature, undermines totalitarianism.
Therefore it is Econo-Girl's conclusion that a totalitarian state is not possible in governing human beings.  Ants, maybe, but not people.
Don't you feel better now?


Economics of Poop

Yes darlings, there is an economy for human waste.  You learn these things working for the EPA, where Econo-Girl just started a few weeks ago.  There is a process whereby human waste is heated and then microbes added, and then is used for fertilizer.  Yum.  Love those vegetables.
And there is a way to take standard trash, put pressure on it and heat it, and then electricity is produced.  Isn't this wild?
Neither are cost-effective.  But with a little research ...  Econo-Girl feels that with a mere billion dollar investment the US could insulate itself from crazies elsewhere.  Cancel a few weapons programs.  Give Econo-Girl a copy of the US budget, and she'll make the cut.
When still a little one, Econo-Girl went through the gas crisis with the rest of the nation.  The real price of gas is not nearly as high as it was in the Seventies.  OK, OK, you suffered worse, you Baby Boomers.  Stop bitching already.  Nothing you go through is going to make you The Greatest Generation.  It still hurts, doesn't it? 
Then Jimmy Carter told the nation to conserve and that the government will investigate alternative fuels.  And did he get punished for that one.  If Reagan had continued this work we would not be in a pickle today.  Wonder how that cucumber was fertilized?

"Why Us?"

That was the plaintive cry from the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush.  Hmmm.  I don't know, Jeb my boy, but maybe it is because you threw the election to your brother.  Think God might be mad?
Leisure Lad and myself have a good friend in the path of the next big storm.  I called him and asked that he come up north a week earlier than planned to avoid the storm.  He refused, claiming the need to 'batten down the hatches.'  Once again, Econo-Girl's nagging is less than fruitful.
That got her to thinking.  If people in the path of a major storm were to leave every time one was heading for them, would they be leaving their homes all the time?  Is that what explains the residents' stubborness?


CNN Money is Wrong Again

CNN Money, in the above link, is speculating whether it is the US consumer that will be paying higher prices, or Corporate America who will accept lower profit margins.

What do you think?

My little dumplings will remember the blood feud Econo-Girl has going on with CNN Money. Their business coverage is one dimensional and conventional, all at the same time. Of course, CNN Money committed to nothing, with an analysis of "it could be this, it could be that, and we don't know."

Nor will they hazard a guess it seems.

Econo-Girl is happy to step into the void. Prices will rise on core necessities, increasing the Consumer Price Index and the Producer Price Index. Prices on non-core items will rise slightly but quality compromises will be made to reduce the costs of production/getting it to market.

Bank Names

A name, a name, what is in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

This cheap paraphrase is the best expression yet of what Econo-Girl is suffering from these days: banks with undignified names.

"PNC"?!? Sure, good old Riggs was caught laundering money, and that certainly can be seen as hurting the brand, but "PNC"? Not to mention the goofballs behind the microphone in those commercials. The commercials have the self-confessional air of a speaker at an AA meeting, complete with angst and arm-waiving.

My regular little dumplings might be tempted to think that with my husband cracking up the car a second time in six months, that would be the forefront of my current concerns. No, all that means is he needs a beat up old truck.

Instead, Econo-Girl's mind reaches more broadly to society at large. And what is the meaning of these weird, disconnected bank names? Wachovia is another one. Dumb name. It reminds Econo-Girl of the commercial "With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good." Does it really? We're not talking a breakfast treat. We're talking MONEY.

There is a grand old RIGGS building near Econo-girl and they actually SAND-BLASTED the RIGGS name off and hung a plastic PNC sign. This is a classic old building. Ah well, maybe Econo-Girl is an old fogey before her time.


Econo-Girl Has the Blues

Leisure Lad wrecked the car again. The last time was six months ago. This time he is paying for it out of pocket because I can't get this many wrecks on my insurance record.

The good news is that Econo-Girl restrained herself from a spending spree and doesn't have to use a credit card at all. Still, it's a hassle.

And try and find a good garage.

I just started a new job and Friday my car was booted and now it is wrecked. Not a very good impression, I'm afraid.


No Living Room?

Econo-Girl reads with curiousity an article in the Washington Post that says Gen X home buyers don't want living or dining rooms in their houses.


So they all eat in their kitchen for Sunday dinner? Or maybe on trays in the Great Room? I'm having a hard time picturing it. Leisure Lad and myself got tv trays as wedding gifts. Sure, they're great, but what's wrong with a living room?

Econo-Girl likes winters chiefly because she can sit in front of her wood pellet stove and read and meditate. Such a peaceful feeling. I also gossip with friends there when Leisure Lad is having one of his classic t.v. marathons. Our living room is one of those small Victorian things but it is cozy.

Econo-Girl likes eating in a dining room, too, which makes her kind of a dinosaur these days. Isn't it nice to sit there with a nice table set, with a friend or two there, and all these home-made dishes for people to eat? Econo-Girl will confess that she also enjoys eating from matching dishes and serving plates, even if the negates your respect for her.

So we will see how this 'trend' shakes down. Will it survive a coming 'real estate slow-down'? What does it say about the current U.S. family? Probably that meal times are no longer the focal point of family activity anymore. Television is.


To Hybrid or Not To Hybrid ...

Econo-Girl reads with amusement the articles claiming that hybrid cars are not worth the extra price. Gas prices aren't high enough to justify the added cost of getting a hybrid.

Hybrids are a political statement. A hybrid car says "Let's be self-sufficient as a nation." It is a cool new technology, like electricity in the 19th Century. Like the advent of Scratch-N-Sniff in the Seventies. Like heat-sensitive paper in the Seventies (mood rings).

Hybrid cars also make the buyer feel as if he were getting over on the system. And you would not have to worry about running out of gas in traffic. Gas prices would take less of a bite out of the monthly expenses, too.

OK, OK, and maybe the buyer would feel just a little bit superior, a little bit more in the know. But isn't that a large part of what sells cars?


Inflation and Jobs and the Interest Rate

The post-Katrina job figures are out now and the 35,000 job loss isn't nearly as bad as was predicted. What has that to do with inflation?

If the economy grows faster than there are resources available, like we need 5,000 new workers to fill factory orders but only 4,000 are available, then there is competition for the resource of labor. So companies offer more money to workers to make their goods, and the Cost of Goods Sold increases, and then the price of the good sold is greater.

A lot of shortages in resources means that prices will be going up overall in the economy. That is called inflation. Traditionally, the Fed has tried to keep a lid on inflation by raising interest rates. The reasoning is that if it is more expensive to borrow money, then less people will be demanding a resource and with less demand, there will not be price competition.

The disaster of the '70's threw all of this logic in the toilet, however. A couple of reasons have been offered for this: huge influx of women in the workplace which effectively increased the number of workers in the US by a LOT in a short period of time, and the shock of rapidly increasing oil prices which affect many products and not just running our cars.

So where are we going now? Are we going to have high unemployment along with inflation? We definitely will have higher interest rates from the Fed since Greenspan is keeping a gimlet eye on employment numbers. The latest numbers show there is a lot more people working than was expected. So the resource of labor is in shorter supply than the eggheads thought. You and I might think of more people working as a good thing, but Wall Street sees ever higher interest rates and gets depressed.


Ha! So now they get it!

Click on the title to this installment, and you will see that Secretary Snow finally got it. China didn't do much with its currency revaluation. Again, why would they? What's in it for them? The US consumer is going hog wild spending on cheap goods made in China. So why would the Chinese government want to make their goods less attractive by increasing the cost?

They wouldn't. Surprise!



Econo-Girl is trying to talk herself into capital purchases because the price of everything is about to rise. Shouldn't she get it now when it is cheaper?

The thing is, she really doesn't need anything. We have two t.v.'s, more than enough. Our bedroom has an old boombox where the volume and the station are stuck. That's fine, since all we listen to is NPR on volume = 20 to wake us up in the morning.

How about a new car? Well, the current Mercedes joined our household a year ago. It is a 1998 C230 and is a damn fine car. So scratch that one.

Econo-Girl has tenants in her basement apartment and would like some kind of music in the living room for privacy. And it would add a bit of class when we are laying around reading, which what we do with most of our free time.

We got an icemaker that doesn't work. Or maybe it does but we just haven't figured out how to get it going yet.

The front and backyards are finished, no small task. When we moved in, the backyard was all broken glass, old trash and broken cement. Now there is a deck and a garden and a little brick patio. There is even an upper level to the deck so the dogs can see who they are barking at.

We have two computers and one has high-speed internet access.

We have two cats. One of them catches mice like a demon but has issues about being held. Like she'll bite you hard if you try it. But if you sit still she will climb on you and purr like a lawnmower. Which leads you to thinking that, maybe, this time she'll consent to being held. And then, CHOMP.

The other cat does nothing at all but let you pick him up and purr. He is Johnny. Johnny also hangs around with our three dogs in a very dog-like manner.

We have three dogs. Merlin is the alpha male and the erstwhile boss. He is too stupid to realize that the pit bull/german shepard mix is actually always getting her way even though he is the loudest. Amber is the pit bull we got for nine dollars from drug dealers. She is smart and very protective. Econo-Girl had to have an unpleasant conversation with the downstairs tenants recently and Amber was the only one to see that tension. She guarded the door to the downstairs apartment for two hours after the tenant went downstairs. Molly is the puppy we just got. She is very low key and won't budge for most things that get the other two excited. Odd for a puppy.

So what do we need? Econo-Girl has already confessed to her interior stained-glass mahogany door, a sin long passed.

We have what we need. Except a baby. Next year we are going to adopt. Leisure Lad wants a Russian child. Econo-girl doesn't because of all the bad things she has heard about those Russian kids coming over from their orpanages. We'll see.

The Presiden'ts Working Harem

President Bush has a 'work wife' in the shape of our latest Supreme Court nominee. She is singularly devoted to the President, whom she refers to as the "most brilliant man I ever met." Talk about being blinded by love. She's even worse than Hillary, who at least had the sense to throw a lamp at Bill once in a while.

But let's stand back for a moment. Doesn't the President have a harem of working wives? This one seems to have absolutely NO LIFE outside of working for the President. And there's the Secretary of State, Condolezza Rice, also an unmarried woman dedicated to the President.

Who are the others? Who's that image-making Ambassador of goodwill at the State Department? Karen Hughes? Wasn't she only recently married and then decided to go to Texas again? Of course, now she is back and getting an earful from audiences overseas.

I wonder how the First Lady feels about all of this? Not too bad, I imagine, since the President doesn't spend much time working.

New Supreme Court Justice

Slate.com had an interesting reflection on our current Supreme Court nominee's passion for punctuation:

Finally, how can Ms. Miers reconcile her alleged dedication to established rules of grammar with her decade-long dedication to one of the worst grammatical evildoers in American history?


Blood for Oil

Latvia is complaining that Russia is doubling its oil prices to the tiny nation as a political pressure tool. They probably are. It's why anybody cares at all what happens in the Middle East. So they're killing each other? So what?

How many local conflicts has the world ignored because there was no economic relavance to the place?

That's why Econo-Girl thinks our number one national priority should be alternative fuel research and setting up the infrastructure for working at home. So if someone decides to pressure the US by turning off our oil supply, we can weather it.

Then the idiots can kill themselves until none are left. It will no longer be our problem.


Fraud Alert!

Note: The following is a lie:

"The Largest Torrent of New Profits Ever Unleashed"

"...Right now the biggest redirection of capital the world has ever seen is underway. Billions of dollars are leaving the once-rock solid U.S. markets and flooding into blue-chip companies based outside of the U.S. There are many reasons it's happening: the U.S. dollar is flagging, mostly under a growing mountain of debt. Global investors view mature U.S. markets as having less and less room for growth. They see the future in emerging powerhouses like China, India and other once secondary economies that are beginning to stir.Quite frankly though, the reasons aren't as important as the trend itself.Here's the secret: Know where the money's headed and you'll get rich."

What is wrong with this guy's assertions? First of all, capital is flowing INTO the US, not out of it. How do we know that? Because those foreigners are still lending us money to pay for our deficit. If they weren't, our interest rates would skyrocket.

Also, the US dollar is NOT flagging.

And the 'mature' markets of the US are also very stable ones. If you had a chunk of change, wouldn't you want to put it in a stable place? However, if you had a little change and wanted to get rich quick, feeling left out of the tech and housing booms, then you would listen to this guy.

Money is still being sent to the US markets for investment because it is still widely seen as a safe place for your money. And as for growth, returns across the planet are poor. The US is still relatively a good place for placing your money because there is some return on it. (See Greenspan's remarks on accepting low returns for higher risks, though.)

The message at the top is designed for gamblers, people who base their investment decisions 'instinct' rather than numbers and analysis. They are the "I have inside information" or "I'll hop on the next trend and get rich" feelings of people who view investing like going to the track. It's sad.

Econo-Girl read somewhere that when people make investments that go well, they think of themselves as smart. When investments go bad, they blame bad luck. The emotional aspects of investing are often the biggest problem people have in making choices that take care of them.

That is why Econo-Girl HATES, LOATHES, DESPISES casinos. Those sneaky dirtbags do everything they can to get Econo-Girl off of her analytical game. No clocks, disorientation, sleazy slot machines where you no longer have to even move your arm to play, all are examples of dirty tricks to get a person to make poor decisions.

The author of the above quote is the same or worse. He is pretending to offer investment advice based on patently false information. Does the author even KNOW anything about doing business in China or India? They are two radically different places. Econo-Girl bets he hasn't been to either of them.

Oh, and the author's primary claim of 'blue chip companies' off of US shores and how capital is leaving the US? Well, name ONE blue chip company in China, India, or Indonesia. They are emerging markets, right? A country becomes a high growth emerging market because it once had a third world economy and is changing.

It is the classic bait and switch. He calms the reader by mentioning blue chip companies, thereby evoking all of your feelings about that security, and then gets your greed in the game by nattering on about high growth in third world nations. The author of the above paragraph is a fraud and a con artist. Econo-Girl is mad.


Blast From the Past

This sophisticated lady is my great-grandmother. She looks a lot like my sisters.

Kill All Spam!

It seems that our host, Blogger, is getting beset with spam once again. Econo-Girl has a few suggestions, if she may be so bold.

Block all traffic from Blogger to the spam sites. Who's going to go there anyway?

Blogger has the resources to do an overload 'attack' on the spam sites. That would either crash the systems or bring them to a grinding halt. Then the spammers would make NO money at all.

More important here is how individual behaviour has the potential to ruin the Internet. Econo-Girl is reminded of a conference she attended at the Heritage Foundation. Some woman, who looked a little rabid, went on and on about medieval times and how there was a group of merchants that regulated its own behaviour and there was no need for government. The threat of being thrown out of the group was enough to enforce proper actions, because anybody thrown out would go broke.

She then made the case that that's all we need today. Hmmmm. If it was such a great system, why isn't it in place today? And how can we apply that arguement to the Internet? We can't. That's why these radical Libertarians are psycho. In her frame of reference, people bathed twice in a lifetime. Should we bring that back, too?


Here we go again...

Snow, Chinese officials discuss currency

By Mark Felsenthal Sun Sep 25, 4:14 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary
John Snow on Saturday told Chinese officials greater exchange rate flexibility is necessary to help the global economy deal with economic distortions, a U.S. official said.

Econo-Girl needs a chuckle these days. Those Chinese didn't change enough for us? Why would they? They faked us out to shut us up for a while. If we want to talk about imbalances, let's talk about the US trade and budget deficit.


Greenspan, Katrina and Fannie Mae

Greenspan recently warned that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are overextended, like the rest of America. What Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do are to take US mortgages and bundle them and to sell them as securities. Greenspan warned that

"Greenspan warned that as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac increase in size relative to the Wall Street firms that help them hedge risk, their ability "to quickly correct the inevitable misjudgments inherent in their complex hedging strategies becomes more difficult." Forbes.com, article by Virginia Citrano. See above link.

Econo-Girl's concern is with the attacks of Mother Nature on our Gulf shores, many people will not be paying their mortgages back. What effect would this have on Freddie's and Fannie's ability to provide low-cost mortgages to Americans? And what will that do, in turn, to the housing market?

The Hurricane Tapes

National Public Radio has some explosive information on its morning show. It was the taped phone conversations of officials preparing for Katrina. Normally, Econo-Girl turns the radio off and goes back to sleep. Not this morning. She waited like an expectant cat.

It seems that FEMA did NOT have generators in place to deliver to the disaster zone. This requirement should not have been a surprise to them, as it was part of the disaster run-through they had done with local officials previously. Am I being redundant to say people died because of this? The generators were to have provided electricity for machines sick people depended on.

Econo-girl is the first one to admit she is a pain in the ass. I'm very good at what I do, but I am a pain in the ass. So is it too much to think that if the people in charge of FEMA disaster relief and preparedness were 'not getting it' that someone should have knocked on their hotel door and expressed it to them personally? That's the Econo-girl route. Of course, a lot of people hate me because of it. But, I mean, they live somewhere, don't they? So track them down. And I would bring Liesure Lad, because he can talk anyone into anything.


Interest Rates and Inflation

Saw some interesting ideas on inflation. The analogy Econo-Girl uses to represent the idea is a string being pulled at both ends. One end is supply. The other end of the string is demand.

When supply is low, that end of the string is being pulled back. When demand is low, that is the end that ismade slack.

So a healthy economy has a reasonably stable rope that more or less stays in place. If the supply end of the rope gets too slack from oversupply, then it takes less force on the demand end to pull. That's a lower cost to get supply.

Please have patience. Econo-Girl is just working out the kinks in this analogy.

With Katrina, supply has tightened up. So it takes more demand, and the willingness to pay more, to keep the rope stable. That means inflation.

Why does Econo-Girl think she is the only one who is going to believe this crazy analogy?

Runaway inflation is when supply is pulling back more and more, and in response, demand rushes forward to get more goods. That only prompts more pulling from supply. Soon the rope is dashing across the lawn. It is no longer a rope standing still. It is no longer a stable economy.

So what if the rope is stable, and then supply starts getting bigger and creating slack. If demand is low and stays there despite lower prices for supply, the rope is not taut, but loosely hanging. That is a recession. When the rope hits the ground, it is a depression. The rope is on the ground because there is no pull from either supply or demand.

Is anyone else out there having fun with this?

Econo-Girl thinks she will develop a series of graphics to demonstrate her idea better. Using an actual rope would be a good way to explain basic economics to children.

Inflation Fears!

Once again, the Fed has raised interest rates. This time they mentioned fear of inflation despite the economic setback of Katrina.

Econo-Girl wonders whether anyone in America will ever name their daughter 'Katrina' again.

On the home front, Econo-Girl sent in her first application for a Federal job. It's just that I have this awful feeling about how this credit crunch/ high interest rates / awful deficit is all going to shake down in a few years.

Borrowing money will be REALLY hard within about two years.


Hot Peppers

Econo-Girl is economizing again. She pulls out her Martha Stewart magazines
to make scrumptious meals that will hopefully replace our culinary joy in

After her heart attack at the grocery store bill, Econo-Girl can only
surmise that most economists do not do their own grocery shopping.
Inflation is evident in the cost of food.

And so, she makes the family meal. And during the process she cuts a pepper
that seemed benign enough except after cutting it, Econo-Girl scratched her

Some juice of the pepper must be smudged in her kitchen because in drinking
her coffee, Econo-Girl's LIPS BURNED from the coffee mug.

So now we understand why that pepper spray is so good. And eco-friendly as


Good One

Sent to Econo-Girl by a friend.

And have you heard:
Q: What is George Bush's stand on Roe v. Wade?
A: He doesn't care how black people get out of New Orleans.


Econo-Girl is paying off her current car, a used 1998 Mercedes. By that time, Leisure Lad should have his driver's license.

Recent events has turned Econo-Girl's mind towards survival. The next car should be a hybrid. Because what if Washington, DC were to be hit by disaster? It is not a remote prospect. Then at the very least, we can drive to my parent's house in the mountains at 20 mph without worrying about gas.

Our house is on high ground, something Econo-Girl has always insisted on since viewing an exhibit on the Johnstown flood as a girl. If our house is underwater, most of the Eastern seaboard will be under water. But just to be safe, perhaps we should buy an inflatable mattress. I saw a photo of some kids floating on one of those.

It galls me that people would be able to forget the Administration's role in the Katrina death toll. And they will. They will all remember the speech and the carefully-chosen backdrop, not the budget cuts and ineptitude that led to the huge loss of life. That depresses Econo-Girl.

The fallacy of state's rights and limited Federal government was revealed using human lives.


The Labor Crunch

Right now, the US economy is being fueled by people doing work and making
things and providing services and buying things. Add living places to the
list, too.

What if there was a sudden reduction in the number of people who contributed
to the economy? There would be a recession because less people would be
producing and buying things.

This leads Econo-Girl to think of Baby Boomers. They are one huge
generation who will begin to retire soon. So who is there to replace them?
Whoever it is, there isn't enough of them. So when a court ruled today that
Microsoft could restrict the employment of a former employee, you see the
business community making a pre-emptive strike against worker's rights and
flexibility. Because one day soon, being able to tie an employee to your
company will be critical in keeping your company functioning. This is
doubly true for skilled employees. As the senior people leave, replacements
must be found. And then they must be kept, or at least kept from leaving
you for another company. This is what Microsoft is doing.

Katrina and the Prez

Maureen Dowd, in the New York Time today, outlined Bush's problem with
isolation thus:

"W. has said he prefers to get his information straight up from aides,
rather than filtered through newspapers or newscasts. But he surrounds
himself with weak sisters who don't have the nerve to break bad news to him,
or ideologues with agendas that require warping reality or chuckleheaded
cronies like Brownie.

The president should stop haunting New Orleans, looking for that bullhorn
moment. It's too late."


Econo-Girl seems to be the only person in America who remembers how the Prez
hesitated after 9-11 attacks as well. He took days to get together a
message for the American people. The Republican snotrags were caught with
their pants down and with no Democrats to blame. Of course that didn't last
long. They focused on Bill Clinton again, like an old whore loitering on
her favorite corner. Never gets away from it too long. One columnist for
Slate.com even pined for Clinton and his ability to empathize. It shows the
groupthink of the media that he felt he had to issue an apology for that
observation later.

The economy has gotten a kick in the pants. Maybe even a kick in the head.
Inflation, and maybe even stagflation, are the fears now.

Another thing to get a kick in the head is America. "Wow, the poor are
people, too." Maybe this sink or swim stuff isn't a good idea after all.
Of course it isn't. As Econo-Girl's mother often said, "One day you think
everything is good, and then they take it all away from you. The only thing
you can keep no matter what is your education." Rather dire, I'll admit,
but she grew up in post-WWII Germany and saw a lot of that.

Any one of us can be poor, under the right circumstances. Especially with
no univeral health care to protect us against medical bills. It is the
folly of the powerful middle class to credit themselves for their own
prosperity. And therefore to blame the poor fot their own circumstance.
Econo-Girl weeps for it.


Inflation is Coming

Gas Costs Spur Aug. Wholesale Inflation

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer 1 hour, 34 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Surging costs for gasoline and other energy products fueled inflation at the wholesale level in August, pressure that is expected to become even more intense once the full impact of Hurricane Katrina is felt.

Justice Roberts

Econo-Girl interned for the Senate Judiciary Committee in her wayward youth. She sat in the gallery for too many of their hearings. And she can say without equivocation:

Orrin Hatch is an asshole.

Absolutely EVERYTHING that came before that committee, Orrin Hatch compared to Roe v. Wade. EVERYTHING. How can people elect someone like that? Once a black Senator reamed him out for comparing slavery to abortion. Good for her, even though she turned out to be a bit shady.

And how does Senator Byrd get re-elected all the time? Who are these people that vote for him?


At Long Last

Econo-Girl has decided to become a Federal employee. She wants to own a
business but that can wait. There are novels to write and poetry to sing,
and that will be her focus now.

And a steady paycheck is not a bad thing.

In terms of the deficit, a number of economists are pointing to disaster.
So I am going to play it safe and easy. Would that be a bad life? No.

In a way, Econo-Girl is disappointed in herself. She wanted to fight the
wilds of economics and tame them. It is not to be. Not now. But it leaves
her feeling a little sad.


Arabian Horses

Wheee! We're being carried away by Arabian Horses!

More specifically, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is led by a man whose prior occupation was advocating for Arabian horses. Of course, horses can't fly, so the poor and sick and young and old in New Orleans were out of luck.

The Federal foot-dragging in evidence this past week was a national embarassment. Nay, an international one. After all that money and eroded civil rights, Econo-Girl thought the U.S. would have at least been prepared for a national emergency. Sort of. In a way. Kind of.

But there is no substitute for having the right friends. And "Brownie," the affectionate Presidential nickname for the head of FEMA, is a friend of Bush. As is the torturer-in-waiting, Gonzales. And as W. says, "Brownie" is doing a great job.

Perhaps there is room for rethinking the adage "Let's get the government out of people's lives." "I believe in state's rights." And perhaps, my dumplings, there is room to acknowlege a role, even a responsibility, on a Federal level. To admit that we 50 independent states are actually strung together by something other than continguous geography.

Econo-girl sees the code "state's rights" as a segregationist anthem. It was the Federal government that put an end to segregation. And all of a sudden, there is a state's rights movement. Because the Neanderthal retro fantasyland types want to revert to something that never existed.

And along the way, why not put in an old buddy as head of FEMA? Someone not interested in the mission of the organization, but someone all too willing to oversee its downsizing? Someone with no understanding of the implications of that reduction?

But he's loyal, and that what counts.


Econo-girl weeps for the devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi. She equally weeps for the people who had no means of exit prior to the storm. She grits her teeth at people who don't even consider the poor and sick in making evacuation plans.

Mark my words: there will be blowback from this event and its poor handling. The 'let them eat cake' attitude that has prevailed in our national dialogue is going to be met with virolent opposition.

There is some belief in this country that the poor are poor because of some moral failing or laziness. Despite our national myth, opportunities are NOT available to all. If they were, do you think all those people would have stayed in the path of a category five hurricane? Econo-Girl can hear people now saying she is comparing apples and oranges. No I am not. If the same opportunity FOR SURVIVAL is not given, how could one believe that the same opportunity for education is there?

Econo-Girl briefly attended services at a church that was overwhelmingly WASP liberal. They had a class on 'Class in America'. The overeducated types whined about how equal education was not available to all. Econo-Girl pointed out that if it was, their little darlings would be competing with inner-city youth for precious college admission slots. We couldn't have that. It would upset the hereditary nature of America's class system.

So Econo-Girl is angry. She is upset. She is amused by Chavez in Venezuela and disenchanted with so-called Christians.



Econo-Girl hears you, Iggy, but maintains there is no harm in asking. You don't get fired for just asking.

The kid in question would undoubtedly earn more as a waiter than the theatre job. And skilled, reliable people to run your box office don't grow on trees.

But that raises a temperment issue. Econo-Girl is known for her requests for more money. Sometimes quite substantial requests. As a former beau once said, "My, that's bold." And bold she is.

Econo-girl knows that women earn less than men do for the same work. This is true almost across the board. So she is never shy about wanting more and asking for it. She just assumes that somewhere there is a man in the organization that is making more than would be given to her. So she asks.

All that ties into the glass ceiling. Slate.com reviewed a book called:

"Blindsided Ambition - Diagnosing a crisis in young women's lives" by Christine Stansell

The book examines the glass ceiling and how women participate in sidelining their own careers. One salient point was that post-adolescent females in most white middle-class families are not applauded for their professional successes. So women start to get their applause somewhere else. The men are, but not the women.

In Econo-girl's family, performance evaluations are discussed at the Thanksgiving Day table. Not a joke, guys. Seriously. So we would be a marked exception to this generality because there are only girls in the family and a good evaluation is very much commended.

The book review talks about how women are loathe to be one of those pushy, demanding, credit-grabbing women. But that is what men do to get noticed and recognition. And somehow Econo-Girl tends to act like a man in this respect also. Yes, she certainly irritates those around her. But not getting recognition for what she has done feels worse.

Women in general are annoying because so many of them are deferential to men and can't even see they are doing it. They allow themselves to be interrupted. They allow their ideas taken by others. They are more concerned with being 'nice' than taking care of themselves. Like all these women who say they are not feminists. You're working, aren't you? Don't you want to be paid the same as your male coworkers? Apparantly not.


My Tenant, The Actor

No fooling. Econo-Girl's upstairs tenant is an actor. So when we ask for the rent or his share of the utilities, he looks like we are about to beat him with a two-by-four. It can be an effective technique.

Part of the arts scene is that 'I am starving' routine that they put themselves through. So Econo-Girl was talking to the kid about his job and why is he working nights again, and it comes out that he wants more money to do that. But get this, only 50 cents more an hour. He is being paid $9.50 now. So Econo-Girl told him to ask for $12.00. He was adament that he wouldn't get it. I said, don't quit before you try. These types all do. They are lousy negotiators.

You can ask, I told him. So he is going to ask.

It just burns Econo-Girl to no end that DC is stuffed with these non-profits that lie, steal and cheat the young people that work for them. AND they skim 10% off the top of whatever grants they get for their own pockets. Meanwhile the kids are starving. Something should be done, really.


We're Hitting the Wall

Econo-Girl has a truly dull job that she despises. But it is a safe job.
And if the folks who wrote this are any indication, the U.S., and the world,
is about to hit a wall:


Econo-Girl doesn't worry too much about her house being worth less than its
purchase price because it has doubled in 'value.' Put another way, if the
'value' of Econo-Girl's house declines that much there will be disaster on
everybody's doorstep and the house loss will be the least of it.

And with this gloom and nay-saying, exactly who out there is sinking money
into a house now? I mean, don't they read?

Since her Y2K consulting days, Econo-Girl has been a bit of a survivalist.
Not one of those nut jobs, although Leisure Lad may differ on that one. But
shouldn't there be a way to heat your home if all electricity and gas are
out? Shouldn't you have a plan?

What if instead of all infrastructure being inoperable, we sit through
another Great Depression? We have several rooms that we could rent out.
Our house has two chimneys, one of which has a pellet stove.

Or is all this musing only a distraction from total boredom? Leisure Lad
thinks I'm not happy unless I have something to worry about, and the end of
civilization is a more harmless preoccupation than most. So he doesn't

The Long Run

Recent data on house prices shows houses on sale for longer periods of time, and even downright reductions in home prices to get a house off the market. Econo-Girl is a bit upset that her thoughts are now mainstream. An article in the Washington Post gives really good examples of the real estate slow-down as it hits D.C. It seems people don't want to pay $1.9 million for a house and then have to rehab it. Imagine that.


Rational Actors

Special thanks to Rene the Rugrat for tipping Econo-Girl off about the following paper. Cite at bottom.

Econo-Girl is interested in the quotes of a drug-dealer in terms of practical economics:

“Would you stand around here when all this s— [shooting] is going on? No, right? So if I gonna be asked to put my life on the line, then front me the cash, man. Pay me more‘cause it ain’t worth my time to be here when [the gangs are] warring.” Econo-Girl can just see the street economist trying to break it down so the egghead understands.

“Ain’t no way nobody gonna come ‘round here looking for their rock [crack] if they know they gonna get shot. People got too many options, man, they got too many n------that they can buy they s— from, so why come to us if we can’t keep s— safe for ‘em?”

“You think I wanta be selling drugs on the street my whole life? No way. But I know these n------ [above me] are making more money, and it’s like, people don’t last longdoing this s—. So you know, I figure I got a chance to move up. But if not, s—, I get me a job doin’ something else.”

The cost/benefit analysis is sad. They don't value living enough to stay clear of drug dealing altogether. They accept the risk of death to make a little more money. And what this article shows is only a little more money and the chance for a lot more is what people deal drugs for.

"It's a war out here, man. I mean everyday people struggling to survive, so you know, we just do what we can. We ain't got no choice, and if that means getting killed, well s---, it’s what n------ do around here to feed their family."

All these excerpts were from An Economic Analysis of a Drug-Selling Gang's Finances
by Steven D. Levitt & Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh
NBER Working Paper SeriesWorking Paper 6592

Econo-Girl Dream

Econo-Girl had a dream last night that she got a notice in the mail that her major student loan had not been paid for eight months and she owed $2300 on it. In the same dream, Econo-Girl had to sell her house because she no longer could afford it.

Leisure Lad encouraged reporting of these dreams because of the bizarre specificity. He said his dreams were only little babies playing on the floor who turned into a dozen little men running around the room.

So who's weirder?

The odd thing about Econo-Girl's dream is that she paid all her student loans off over a year ago. And if she rented most of the rooms in her house, she could mostly pay the mortgage. Wonder what this all means?

Perhaps it is because she read The Economist again, I've said it before but it bears repeating: those people need anti-depressants. While Econo-Girl herself confesses to a bit of catastrophizing for dramatic effect, those Economist people are pathological.

A sample:

"As if to complete its transformation from drug-dealers' playground to mainstream metropolis, Miami also has an all-American property boom."

See? They can't say anything nice without being nasty.

"That is a fair tribute to a place that has put a lot of effort into smartening itself up. But even the world's greatest cities can have property crashes."

Or read this on America's current accound deficit: "The inevitable correction, when it comes, is likely to be all the more painful. When financial conditions tighten, investors are sure to become more discriminating. Sooner or later, the traffic lights will turn red."

You just know they are panting for the disaster. Well, so is Econo-Girl, truth be told. But am I that bad? Let's hope not.


Our Side Of The Border

Mexico. Drugs. Blame. Scapegoating.

There is a great book that was reviewed on NPR called "Down By The River" or something. It outlined all the information related to the execution of a DEA agent by someone, we don't quite know whom. Econo-Girl gave the book away to some bonehead, a big mistake.

And basically, the book talked about how the U.S. Government did not really do anything about the killing. It also says the U.S. never mentions how the drugs get from the border to Chicago or New York. And while it is fun to blame others, there needs to be some accountability there on the part of the U.S. Government.

George Bush, a fool in most respects, hit the nail on the head when he brought up the issue of U.S. consumption being the driver of the entire problem. It's true. If no one here wanted cocaine or heroin it wouldn't be a multi-billion-dollar business.

As an aside, the U.S. dollar has long been the exclusive currency for drug dealing internationally, but it is being replaced by the Euro.

Personally, Econo-Girl thinks that efforts to arrest the small-time personal-use buyer would have the most impact. But people get really wrapped up in Mr. Big Dealer. Getting that asshole isn't going to stop anything. A real impact could be made on the DEMAND side of the equation by arresting regular people. When Joe Suburb hears that his neighbor down the street is going down for a ten-year stretch, he will think twice about his casual use. Of course, that would mean middle class people would be filling our prisons. So it will never happen. Wouldn't want to slam someone just like us, would we? Let's just blame the Mexicans and slap them all with the 'corrupt' label. It will make us all feel better.

Economics is at the heart of the drug war. Where are the illegal trafficking economists?