Strange Things Going On Today

Here’s some of the news this morning from the increasingly weird world we live in.

On the job front, there was a small bit of good news. New claims for unemployment were down for the week ending March 14 to 646,000. The prior week new claims came in at 658,000. The four week moving average was 654,750. To be perfectly honest, the employment situation is awful.

The Obama administration announced a new $5 billion loan guarantee program for auto suppliers. This would seem to be as good a signal as any that they intend to push forward with a bailout of GM and probably Chrysler. I think bankruptcy barring some surprises is off the table for now.

That being said, this also probably ensures that sometime in the not too distant future we’re going to have congressional hearings expressing outrage about some outgrowth or unintended consequence of the bailout. Count on it.

While we’re on the subject of autos, there’s growing talk about some sort of subsidy to get people to buy new cars. A cash for clunkers program is being batted around. The big story on this one is whether Buy American raises its head. Some politicos are already talking about limiting any program to American cars. Lots of opportunity for this one to get ugly.

The House of Representatives is rushing with undeliberate speed to tax any bonuses given to any TARP recipient employee at the rate of 90%. The tax would apply to any bonuses given after December 31, 2008. I’ll reserve comments til later save to say that this will be one more bill passed in the heat of the moment, with no debate, that no one will read and which will be filled with loopholes and landmines.

Finally, if you want to get really depressed, read Simon Johnson today at the Baseline Scenario. You may want to go out and make that firearm purchase that you’ve been thinking about as well as brush up on your gardening and canning skills.

Like I said it’s a strange place we live in right now. It doesn’t help that we seem to have a bunch of Bozo’s running things.

more: here (employment), here (autos). here (tax legislation) and here (Baseline Scenario)

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