Some interesting items you may not have seen:
- Food costs are rising globally, thanks in part to increasing demand for biofuels. I’ve noticed that our average food bill is going up when we make our bi-weekly run to the megamart, regardless of my attempts to watch for sales, buy less processed foods and whatnot. I’m not keeping close tabs on our bill, but I’d say it’s risen on average by maybe 7-10% over the last six months or so.
- Have I mentioned that I think ethanol is mostly a boondoggle for farmers? More writers are getting on the bandwagon.
- When a financial website mentions that meat prices may be going through the roof, I’d suggest paying attention long enough to do some more research on the subject. I did the vegetarian thing in the past, and while I have no plans to quit eating animal products cold turkey (pun intended), I think that we’ll be eating a lot less meat in the future simply because most of us won’t be able to afford it. For myself, if I have an opportunity to get my mitts on a good source of protein, I’m not going to do a whole lot of soul-searching on where it came from. As Kunstler has written, some day our descendants will have trouble believing that there was ever such a thing as a bad calorie.
- Anyone who thinks the subprime mortgage problem is either A) getting better, or B) going to be limited to that sector of the mortgage market needs to get a reality check. We are just starting to enter the main wave of ARM resets over the next six months or so. Bill Gross of PIMCO (a major bond company) thinks that housing prices could decline by as much as 20% by the time everything is said and done. That’s bad news for a lot of homeowners who have less than 20% equity in their houses, but it could be much worse… that’s getting off light in my book.
- Needless to say, in any market there are winners and there are losers. The ratio of winners to losers is starting look a lot like it was back in the 1920’s. Von Hoffman’s comments on how the national candidates for both major parties are elected by the same 300,000 wealthy people in this country resonate with me…. probably because I’m not one of those 300,000.
- Want to know what the future will look like? The UK Ministry of Defense has painted a picture that isn’t reassuring. That said, EMP weapons are hardly anything new unless they’re talking about one unaccompanied by a nuclear explosion.
- In an unsurprising move, General Motors now appears to be backpedaling on their plans for their ‘Volt’ electric car. There still needs to be a major breakthrough in battery technology unless you think people will be satisfied getting only 20 to 30 miles per charge.
From a local perspective, it appears that there is still a little bit of life in the new construction market. There are a handful of new houses being started in our area, though nothing like the last 4-5 years. We’ve kept an eye on some houses for sale in both our old and new neighborhoods. When we were moving last year, we made the decision to slash the price on our house pretty fast just to move it and managed to sell it for ten percent less than we were originally asking. At the time that hurt, but seeing similar houses in the same neighborhood languishing on the market at 85% of their original asking price, I think we made the smart decision.
Our freezer died on us a few weeks back and the appliance company is taking their sweet time getting replacement parts for it, which is ticking me off to no end. Thank goodness we had a chest freezer with some space available to take in most of the frozen meat and other stuff. Once the kitchen freezer is working again I’m going to clear out some of the old stuff in the chest freezer and stock up on some meat. It won’t last forever, but if you’ve got the money, it makes sense to buy what you can reasonably use before prices rise.