“Repression” is what Richard Fisher, President of the Dallas Fed, called “the injustice of being held hostage to large financial institutions considered ‘too big to fail.’” He sketched out the destructive impact of these TBTF banks that, as “everyone and their sister knows,” were “at the epicenter” of the financial crisis. And he offered a “simple” plan for coming to grips with them. But he did something else: he defined BIG.
France’s economic foundations are cracking. Unemployment is rising incessantly. The private sector is comatose. Car sales sank 13.9% in 2012, from a lousy 2011; sales by its native automakers plunged even more. Now home sales are grinding to a halt. And the finger-pointing has already started.
A sadly familiar theme in the US—the growing ranks of the working poor—was fleshed out today. But the report did something else: it added graphic details to the conundrum of US healthcare spending: while it ballooned to $2.7 trillion, 17.9% of GDP, or $8,680 per capita, households have lowered their share. So have businesses. What gives?
Normally, the media would have given it priority: French President Hollande and Prime Minister Ayrault have become more unpopular than ever before. But the poll was shoved into the background by France’s bombing campaign in Mali—which released an avalanche of positive comments and support from all sides, at least in France. With impeccable timing.
Bernd Scheifele, CEO of HeidelbergCement—one of the world’s largest producers of construction materials with nearly 55,000 employees at 2,500 locations in over 40 countries—lashed out against European politicians and their inability to bring budgets under control. But he reserved the most devastating judgment for the euro itself.
Americans under fifty are paying the price. We don’t know exactly why. Even the panel of experts that authored the massive report, “US Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health,” admits that it can’t entirely pinpoint the reasons. But we do know how Americans under fifty, particularly males, are paying the price: with their lives.
Now some new fodder for the gun-control debate that the horrid events in Connecticut suddenly stirred into a frenzy, though it had been snoozing through the daily drumbeat of murders in Oakland, CA, a few miles across the Bay from me, or in Richmond to the north, or really in any other city. The fodder is inconvenient, however. For both sides of the debate.
“Volkswagen has chosen to wipe out PSA,” said a source in President Hollande’s entourage. PSA Peugeot Citroën, Europe’s second largest automaker, is teetering. Volkswagen Group, Europe’s largest automaker, is an invincible giant—that wants to reduce overcapacity in Europe “on the backs of the French,” the source said. Hence a secret plan, a desperate, misbegotten, and taxpayer-funded deal.
On Friday, the mayor of Futaba, a ghost town of once upon a time 7,000 souls near Fukushima No. 1, told his staff that evacuees might not be able to return for 30 years. Or never, for the older generation. He spoke in Kazo, Saitama Prefecture, where the town’s government has settled. It was the first estimate of a timeframe. But it all depends on successful decontamination. And that has turned into a vicious corruption scandal.
New Year’s Eve is the main event: 1,193 vehicles were set on fire. But it’s a year-round passion, with over 40,000 vehicles going up in smoke. A tradition no one has the balls to explain. In a country whose unemployment is climbing with incessant brutality, and whose automakers are bogged down with uncompetitive products in a morose market. But there’s an industry that is booming. The lottery.