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Mark's Market Blog

12-23-11: Merry Christmas

By Mark Lawrence

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Markets recovered a bit as Europe seemed to ever so slightly pull back from the edge of the cliff. US economic data continues to be relatively good, signaling a continued slow recovery. Everyone is on vacation now, so there's very little in the way of news.

S&P 500 July 5 2011 to December 23,2011

To My Liberal Friends: Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious / secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2012 but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that United States is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To My Conservative Friends: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Except for Italy, interest rates around Europe have moderated. France seems to have found a new normal substantially above their previous 2.4%; this reflects concerns that their AAA rating is not for very much longer.

European Interest Rates 2011

Oil was up and down this year but mostly was around $100. In the past this price would signal the onset of a recession, but in the new normal where we seemingly live in an endless recession this seems to have little impact.

Oil 2011

Where is energy headed? As oil stays at $100 per barrel, fracking (high tech drilling for natural gas) and oil shale (a dirty, nasty business best suited for places far away from human habitats, like northern Canada) promise to be major players for the next 25 years or more. In the 250 year chart below, we see that wood has dropped from 95%+ of our energy source to all but disappearing; coal seems more or less stable at about 20% of our sources; nuclear, hydro, wind, surf and solar continue to be all but negligible; and oil and gas will remain our primary sources for the next 25 years.

Word Energy Sources 1800 to 2040

An open letter to Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, and one of the architects of the current banking crisis / depression / collapse. An excellent read.

Birthers are now nearly dead.The US 9th circuit court of appeals ruled this week that none of the dozens of so-called "birthers" who filed a federal lawsuit against Obama has the right to sue the president because none has suffered any injury that the court could heal with a ruling. The judges said that even political candidates who argued that they were unfairly disadvantaged by the competition from someone ineligible to run for the office would have had a case only if they had brought it before the election, not after. The judges noted at the hearing as well as in their ruling Thursday that, aside from the plaintiffs' lack of standing, the challenge of Obama's legitimacy to serve as president is a political question beyond any federal court's power to decide. Any legal challenge would have to be brought by the US attorney general, the court said. Which US attorney general is appointed by the president. The Supreme court has a birther case on its docket, so this issue is still twitching, it's not completely dead. We live in a country where the constitution specifies clearly that the president must be a natural born citizen, but no one has the right to ask if they are. I think this ruling sets an interesting precedent: violating someone's constitutional rights apparently must include damages that can be measured and rectified by a court in order to be heard. "The Law may upset reason, but reason may not upset the Law." -- Tokugawa Ieyasu

Politics: According to a survey by Public Policy Polling, the Packers were seen positively by 57% of voters in the country compared with only 13% who had a negative opinion and 30% who were not sure. According to those who took the survey, every subgroup that was looked at - ideology, gender, party, race and age - had a strong favorable opinion of the Packers. Broken down by party, 44% of Democrats like the Packers, 60% of Republicans like the Packers, and 44% of Independents like the Packers. Obama had best hope the Packers don't run against him.

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