Initial unemployment claims were up last week, but not by so much as to cause any concern about the sequester cuts, well, so far... Durable goods orders were way up for last month, and other economic indicators also remain relatively strong. Consumer confidence was down, but that's just a poll of questionable value.
The S&P 500 just broke through the record high established before the Bush crash. Of course the market isn't indexed for inflation, so nobody has really made up the loss. In fact the average 401(k) has only made back half of its losses, the rest all went to pay that 150 billion in bonuses that Wall Street takes every year, no matter how bad the year has been for investors. Make money on the way up, make even more on the way down.
Republicans will tell you with a straight face that nobody should have a pension or Social Security because the market will 'make' everybody more money. A market by definition can't 'make' money, the only money coming in is from new suckers entering in on the Ponzi scheme. That's why they need the periodic crash to reset the numbers. Otherwise people would actually expect to take their money out again. If Mr Ponzi had built that feature into his scam he could have stayed out of prison.
Speaking of resetting the numbers, this was the first day that the people of Cyprus have had access to their bank accounts. Withdrawals are severely limited and nobody can take their money out of the country. If it only went that far, it wouldn't be such a big deal. 'Deflation', that bit of nasty that I keep warning about is going to take a huge bite out of the average Cypriot. Anything that they thought they owned will shortly not be worth very much. Good luck for any of them trying to eek out a living since there won't be much money in circulation to make the economy happen.
Now that money laundering for the Russians isn't a viable business model on Cyprus, they will need to depend on tourism, but they still have to accept Euros that they can't spend anywhere, good luck with that. Throw in grinding austerity and everybody is simply screwed.
If any of the countries like Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, well anybody but Germany had any sense they'd get off the Euro. Poland, which still has its own currency, and came through the recent slump in good shape, now wants to join the Euro. How can people be that dense? Maybe it's because rich people who own the media make money off these sort of currency traps.
So far Italy hasn't been able to form a government. Austerity was soundly defeated in the recent election with the left picking up a lot of seats in Parliament, but the hard right picked up seats too. Both parties promised an end to the austerity that was demanded by bankers. In Greece one of the up and comers is the Nazi Party, this is not a 'euphemism', they call themselves Nazis and use the symbols and rhetoric of Nazis. Greece is not the only place where this sort of thinking is catching on. Everybody wants 'the good old days', there's nothing like jack boots to put that extra skip in your step. www.prairie2.com