08 March 2010

Financial shorts – Second Monday in March edition

1.  Crack whores rebel:  Icelanders voted against a US$5.3 billion package to deal with part of the country’s financial mess.

“This is a strong no from the Icelandic nation,” said Magnus Arni Skulason, co-founder of a group opposed to the deal.

“The Icelandic public understands that we are sovereign and we have to be treated like a sovereign nation — not being bullied like the British and the Dutch have been doing.”

Sovereign Icelanders may be, but they are also broke.  If they don’t like it when people come looking for their money back – it ain’t bullying, BTW – then maybe they shouldn’t have been running the financial equivalent of a crack-house.

2.  More hidden cash turns up:  There may be a few million extra in provincial coffers when the financial year ends.  This isn’t a windfall or a gift.  It’s just what you get when you compare the actual amount of federal transfers in the current fiscal year - $1.264 billion – to the $988 million reported in Budget 2009 last spring.

Well, that’s if you use the Estimates which gives different numbers than the ones in the budget speech. The numbers in the budget speech are pretty much dead-on the actual federal transfers.

Someone should ask the finance minister to explain why he feels the need to keep two sets of books.

3. Counter-intuitive.  Okay.  Crude is up.  Gold is up and silver is is up as well. US dollar is down.  The American economy shed jobs but not as many as expected.  Some news media are reporting this as a good thing.  Basically, it’s more of the recovery-is-here-yada-yada crap they’ve been fed since this time last year.

If the dollar is down, and oil and gold are up, that’s a sure sign that not only is the US economy not in recovery, it’s virtually a guarantee it won’t recover while prices for things like crude oil are that high.

The American economy needs oil prices to be about half of what they are currently in order to see a recovery tale hold.  And when a recovery does start, it won’t keep going if oil prices shoot back up to their current levels.

In the meantime, stand by for an “adjustment’ sometime in 2010 or early 2011.  The “correction” won’t be as big as the collapse in 2008 but it will hurt.

It will especially hurt any government that doesn’t have its financial house in order.