Programming Note: Thanks very much to the incomparable Jillian Berman for handling the newsletter last week. Come to think of it, she wrote better and on deadline the whole time, so obviously she wants to destroy me. So, yeah, thanks Jillian! A lot! Anyway, you can still enjoy Jillian's newsletter stylings every Friday morning, at least until she takes over the whole thing again, permanently next time.
Thing One: Lamest. Bubble. Ever. Deflates: Everything was better in the 1990s. Back then, when Republicans hated a president, they impeached him over a blow job. Now, they just wheel out children's television clown Donald Trump every now and again to honk and flap about his birth certificate. Weak.
Same thing with tech bubbles. Back then, everybody in the country got ludicrously wealthy on moronic tech stocks like Pets.com for a few years until the bubble exploded, wrecking the economy. Now, we just have vaguely pathetic social-networking and coupon -- coupon! -- sites like Facebook, Zynga and Groupon, which got expensive when nobody was paying much attention, went public, and then immediately lost all their air, squeaking and farting around the room like the sad end of your worst birthday party.
All of the people who got sort-of rich on this new "bubble" are walking away, shaking their heads, including the bullet-shaped head of serial bubble-pumper Marc Andreesen, an early investor in Groupon. He and others are cashing out, now that the company has lost three quarters of its market value since its IPO in November, write Shayndi Raice and Shira Ovide in the Wall Street Journal, part of a mass exodus from other nouveau-bubble stocks. Zynga's shares are down 70 percent since their IPO in December. The price of Facebook shares have been slashed in half since their debut in May, cutting $46 billion from the company's market value. And Facebook could fall farther, now that more shares are being dumped on the public, Bloomberg writes.
Thing Two: Europeans Return From Vacation, Resume Bumming Everybody Out: So, meanwhile, Europe is a thing that is still going on. Everybody in Europe is so happy this morning that the European Central Bank might be setting a target for sovereign bond yields, meaning they'll jump in and buy bonds if yields get too high, according to Der Spiegel, by way of Reuters. But! Greece still needs money, which means more interminable negotiating and what-not this week, which could maybe upset markets at some point, according to the New York Times.
Thing Three: Your Tax Dollars At Work: Also waiting to ruin the market is the "fiscal cliff" looming at the end of the year, when taxes get raised and spending gets cut because Congress is awful. It's already starting to have an effect on the U.S. economy, with billions in government contracts getting canceled, according to the Washington Post. And preparations for the squeeze are starting to affect kids of people in the military, according to Reuters: "What many lawmakers may not realize is that because of their inability to compromise on a replacement for this budget axe - and because of a quirk in the way the U.S. Department of Education allocates funds to schools heavily populated by military kids - the pain already is palpable."
Thing Four: Banks Lend To Government Instead Of To You: Here's a funny story: Bloomberg writes that banks are groaning with the weight of the cash you're depositing in them, but they aren't lending any of that money to people or to businesses (which are also people, my friend) because the economy is weak, partly because Congress is awful. Instead, banks are lending that money to the U.S. government, which is supposedly a terrible credit risk because Congress is awful. Isn't that hilarious? No, it's not.
Thing Five: An Unserious Man: But never fear, Republican vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has a plan to totally fix the U.S. budget. According to Paul Krugman, the plan goes like this: 1. Collect Underpants. 2. ? 3. Profit. Yeah, the truth is, Ryan is a big con man with no serious plan, Krugman observes. But business people in the U.S. absolutely love his plan, because it involves "cutting the deficit without raising taxes," according to the WSJ.
Thing Six: Obama's Shaky Housing Foundation: President Obama might be mopping the floor with Ryan and his running mate, Mittens Romney, right now, if not for the shaky economy. And the economy might not be so shaky right now if Obama hadn't been so bizarrely lame when it came to helping the housing market, writes Binyamin Appelbaum in the NYT: "he tried to finesse the cleanup of the housing crash, rejecting unpopular proposals for a broad bailout of homeowners facing foreclosure in favor of a limited aid program — and a bet that a recovering economy would take care of the rest."
Thing Seven: Aetna Will Just Be Handling That Medicare For You: Ginormous health-insurance company Aetna is buying slightly less ginormous health-insurance company Coventry for $7.3 billion, including debt, a deal that will give Aetna nearly a third of all the government's Medicare and Medicaid business, notes Bloomberg Businessweek. Another victory for communism. Or capitalism. I'm confused.
Thing Seven And One Half: Magic Baby Produces Perfect Baseball Games: So this guy in Seattle has taken his 9-month-old son to two major-league baseball games this year. Each one them turned out to be super-rare "perfect" games, reports the USA Today: "There have been only 23 perfect games thrown in nearly a century and a half of pro baseball history, and Bode has seen two already. Too bad he won't remember either game."
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Calendar Du Jour:
Before Market Open:
After Market Close:
Heard On The Tweets:
@Noahpinion: I want to start the Prussian School of economics, so I can beat up on the Austrian School.
@zerohedge: Which is it: FaceHalfempty or FaceHalffull?
@EddyElfenbein: Apple has gained, on average, close to 1% a week for the last ten years.
@JohnFugelsang: Once sworn in VP Paul Ryan plans to create more new jobs by having ex-President Obama mail him yet another stimulus check.
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja