While the focus is on the sectarian strife in the major population centers, a real civil war is occurring inside Iraq – between al-Qaeda and their erstwhile Sunni allies. A representative from the newly created “Anbar Revenge Brigade” claims to have killed “20 foreign fighters and 33 Iraqi sympathizers,” including “a number of the Arabs including Saudis, Egyptians, Syrians, Kuwaitis and Jordanians.” Unlike prior inflated claims, these numbers should be considered reasonable. Strategy Page reports numerous sensitive al-Qaeda documents have been found, including a “death list” and “many of the names on the list are of Sunni tribal and religious leaders who have been less than enthusiastic in their support for al Qaeda. Sadly, a number of those on the list have already been slain.” It is these tactics which have spurred the creation of the Anbar Revenge Brigade.
Trade Deficit Disorder
From the WSJ, Trade Deficit Disorder: The protectionism caucus is hyperventilating: (emphasis mine)
Senators might also consult a new study by Ricardo Haussman and Federico Sturzenegger, of Harvard’s Kennedy School, who argue that these current-account deficits are in reality a statistical illusion. They found that the net return on the U.S. financial position in 2004 was roughly a positive $30 billion and not much different than it had been in 1982, despite 22 years of deficits.
How can that be? “A correct descriptive explanation of this puzzle is that the rates of return of U. S. liabilities is significantly smaller than the return on its assets,” Mr. Hausmann writes. Foreigners are willing to accept a lower rate of return on their U.S. investments, such as Treasury bills, because they are partly buying dollar currency stability, liquidity, and a safe heaven against political and economic risk. Foreigners, for example, hold hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. currency, which is the equivalent of a zero interest loan to Americans.
By contrast, American assets abroad earn higher than normal rates of return because of noncounted factors such as insurance, know-how, and the value of universally recognized brand names like McDonald’s and Disney. When taking these into account, the authors conclude that America is a net creditor, not a net debtor, nation. Even more surprising, China is a net debtor to the U.S.
Unemployment sits at a low 4.8 percent today. Wages are perking up, with average hourly earnings rising 3.5 percent over the past year and 4.8 percent at an annual rate over the past three months – their best performances since 2001. Importantly, falling gas prices at the pump are boosting real incomes enough that consumer spending is rolling ahead despite a slowdown in the housing sector and somewhat higher mortgage rates.
. . .
According to the Fed, after-tax profits for last year’s fourth quarter hit 8.1 percent of GDP, a post-WWII record. At a trillion dollars, profits are way ahead of their prior peak in 1999 and have nearly doubled since their recent trough in 2001. Family net wealth, the nation’s true savings rate, advanced 8 percent in 2005 to a record level of $52 trillion.
Africa’s First Female Head of State Thanks George W. Bush
Details at Gateway Pundit.
Today’s articles from Maria
X-r*ted ‘children’s’ books outrage students’ parents
Maria sent two articles from the NY Post: BOW TO IMAM SHOWS
MIKE IS NO RUDY (you can say that again! see the transcript of his speech – link in the next paragraph), IRAN’S ‘UNKNOWNS’: FACE THE FACTS, and three from NRO: Jobs Americans Won’t Do? Think again., Vive la Sloth! Even the best French are a mess. and Feingold’s Gift to the GOP
No, I didn’t go the the Shultz lecture
because of a prior commitment, but TigerHawk did.
And don’t miss