The Week Unpeeled
The holiday week seemed to be filled with departures, false starts and failed attempts except for retail shoppers (and not bond shoppers), with a real degree of pessimism creeping into the coverage of the markets, economy and politics. For example:
- Gone Fishing: The anything but “super” committee threw in the towel last week and could not come to any agreement on how to cut the US deficit, paving the way for automatic spending cuts to take effect 2013;
- Gone Missing (Still): The estimated amount of funds still missing from the MF Global bankruptcy is seen now at $1.2 billion, double initial totals;
- Gone Packing: Yemen’s President President Ali Abdullah Saleh transferred power to his vice president, the fourth Arab leader forced from power, but next steps seemed a little confusing;
- Gone Shopping: Retailers reported fairly strong sales on Black Friday amid extremely higher-than-usual media coverage and bloody melees;
- Gone Awry: The AT&T/T-Mobile deal turned sour with head coming from the Justice Department on the megadeal;
- Gone South: The Dow ended a shortened holiday week down 4.8 percent to 11,231 for one of the worst weeks in a couple months because of both Europe and US debt concerns as markets headed into December, a typically positive month that now looks gloomy;
- Going, Going But Not Gone: Germany failed to sell about 35 percent of its £5bn 10-year bond offering, raising major concerns about sovereign debt offerings in the weeks ahead and pressuring global markets all week; and
- Going for Broke: UK taxpayers will underwrite mortgages totalling hundreds of millions of pounds under plans to unblock the housing market and revive the flagging economy. Buyers will be able to borrow up to 95% of their value as part of plans the government says will help get "Britain building again.
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon 2.0
It appears we are all closer than we think. Research released last week claimed that the average number of acquaintances separates two people is 4.74 degrees, not 6.00 degrees, according to scientists at Facebook and the University of Milan, who looked only at Facebook data. BFFs just got a little easier.