Oil is up again driven by Wall Street speculators able to sell derivatives to large energy consumers spooked by the turmoil in the Middle East. This trend is being somewhat muted by the widespread economic chaos in Japan. The stock markets have been more or less up on reassurances that “everything is fine in Japan”. This was put out by the Wall Street Journal (a Rupert Murdock rag). The ink on this epistle of wisdom wasn’t yet dry when smoke began roiling from the plutonium fueled number three reactor and workers were forced to flee the sight.
Reports are that they are again pumping water onto the ruins of the reactors but its not clear how accurate these reports are. Journalists traveling far downwind of the exclusion zone have had their Geiger counters peg the needle.
The USN has withdrawn the USS George Washington aircraft carrier from its berth 50 miles south of Tokyo out of fear of nuclear contamination. This wasn’t something done lightly as the ship was undergoing reactor maintenance and went to sea under half power. Tokyo however can’t move but her people can and continue to stream south. Reassurances of “complete safety” are offset by measurable radiation in the city’s drinking water.
US credit card debt was down 67 billion last year but that was only because banks wrote off 75 billion meaning total consumer credit card debt was really up 8 billion. This contradicts the constant chant coming from bankers and conservative economists that Americans have become debt adverse and because of this lack of borrowing the economy is not recovering.
Housing prices fell again last month to the lowest level in eight years wiping a significant amount of middle class wealth. We now have 25% of homeowners underwater meaning they’ve lost all their home equity and then some.
The corporate spokesmen blame their companies failure to create jobs on a lack of educated Americans to do these jobs, but unemployment among recent US college graduates continues to rise as wages fall. If there really was a shortage of qualified workers, wages would rise sharply for those that are qualified, instead they are going down.
Energy prices are rising rapidly despite record supplies on hand. Critical parts for manufactured goods that are made in Japan will begin running out in a few weeks and there have been several shut downs in the US already. Wages continue falling for educated workers. A Republican agenda to slash public sector wages continues to gain traction.
The phrase “Double Dip Recession” hasn’t been heard in the media lately but what is coming will require a stronger word to describe it. I think the Japanese word for this is “Godzilla”. www.prairie2.com