Friday Five November 28 2014

Several news stories caught our attention this week. Here’s our pick for the week ending November 28, 2014.

Current Stories

Since 2007, large banks have paid out more than $180B in fines. Mortgage-related claims constituted the majority of the legal costs paid by banks, but other costs included sanctions violations, improper conduct, market manipulation, tax evasion and misrepresentation. Such fines and legal expenses are a cost of doing business – costs which are passed onto us in the form of higher fees and/or lower interest rates.

This young man kills his girlfriend because he thinks she is pregnant. During the arrest, he asks if he can get community service for his crime. What would lead him to believe or expect that he could murder and come away with a light sentence like community service? Is it not because justice is not meted out consistently in our society? When laws are not uniformly enforced, we believe this is the result. While the report is silent on our next point, let us interject that having a father in the home who meets boyfriends and sets some expectations would also go a long way toward hindering this kind of evil behavior.

From our You-can’t-make-this-stuff-up department, a women was recently removed from an airplane after her service pig pooped on board. That’s right, she claims she needed the pig to calm her anxieties. We’re speechless, not only because the women thinks she needs a pig, but also because the airline let her take the living bacon aboard a flight.

If you’re a woman, don’t try to drive a car in Saudi Arabia. Our allies don’t like it. Somehow, a female driving a car violates the rules of their Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. This shows what happens when a religion is used to rule a country – inevitably, it becomes a legalistic, oppressive state with rule on top of rule governing the population. And the farther one moves away from Christianity, the worse women are treated. (here too.)

Lost in the all the hubbub is a small story about Fannie and Freddie relaxing mortgage lending guidelines. The change is supposed to clarify rules on who they believe is a good risk, but still, it begs the question: did we learn nothing from the last decade?

National Debt

As best as we can discern, this country’s national debt exceeded the $18 trillion (that’s $18,000,000,000,000) on Thanksgiving Day this year. We find this ironic.

Leading Indicators

Total construction was up 1.1% from September of 2014 with a total spend of $971B in October, according to the Economics and Statistics Administration. This is up 3.3% compared to October 2013.

Real gross domestic product — the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes — increased at an annual rate of 3.9 percent in the third quarter of 2014, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 4.6 percent.