Everything That Matters

The U.S.A. and England have moved from “in a relationship” to “it’s complicated” over the one-two punch of BP’s massive oil spill trashing the Gulf of Mexico (now holding the esteemed “greatest American ecological disaster” slot) and our 1-1 tie in the first game of the World Cup. 
 
Facebook status joke?  You betta’ believe. 
 
And as if Europe wasn’t interesting enough, bond ratings agency Moody’s downgraded Greece’s debt to near junk bond levels last Monday.  That’s gotta be a fun way to start your week for Greece’s finan­cial overseers.  Market reaction was kept muted due to the fact that everyone who had access to CNBC knew this was coming for a while.  The effect was essentially already baked in to investor portfolios.  Still, it is another click that Europe’s sovereign debt crisis moved towards the abyss of long-term eco­nomic malaise, tighter austerity measures and a Japan-esque lost decade.
 
Existing home sales posted a surprising 2.2% loss in May despite the bump from the $8000 tax credit.  New home sales took a much more substantial tumble, dropping 32.7% month-over-month.  Home demand is tightly tethered to the employment situation, and as unemployment grinds along at near 10% levels it is going to stifle any sort of skyrocketing good news.  Still, the trend for home sales has been tepidly positive for the past 12 months.  And this may be the impetus needed to get more Federal attention to the still fragile housing market.
 
The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee Meeting ended on Wednesday.  Nothing happened.  Economy is still rough.  Biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig shocker there. 
 
China has announced that they are going to allow the value of their currency to float along with the free market.  This is a big deal.  For years and years, China held the value of their currency at artifi­cially low levels.  Why would they do that?  I think a better question is: why do we keep buying stuff that says ‘Made in China’ on the bottom?  Because it’s cheap.  And why were all products coming from China so consistently cheap? 
 
Go ahead, take a guess.
 
If you guessed that their currency manipulation had something huge to do with it, give yourself a round of applause and take yourself out for a sandwich.  You’ve earned it.
 
Congress is having a fun time battling over the many nuances of the proposed financial regulation re­form bill.  I have heard more talking heads blather on about this bill, some claiming it will benefit banks at the expense of the taxpayer and some announcing the polar opposite outcome.  My guess is that it’s gonna be a whole lot like the Health Care reform bill: no one really knows what’s going on and everyone’s going to find a reason to be angry about it.
 
Ah, hope and change.

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