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In the spirit of Mark Twain’s “history doesn’t repeat, it rhymes”, here’s Nobel laureate and bubble spotter extraordinaire Robert Shiller talking about the latest asset bubble(s):

On when the Fed should start raising interest rates:

If I was asked to testify before them I might reconsider, but there is a tendency for central banks to ignore speculative bubbles until it’s too late. It may already be too late. Stock markets are quite high and prices in the real estate market are getting high.

And, on the economy, Shiller speaks the unspeakable:

A lot of people feel, down deep, “I know we’re not getting out of this”.

The Madness of Burgers and Obesity

Having just finished season two of Mad Men (missed it from the start and figured I’d record the whole series on AMC just prior to the finale a few weeks ago), it’s impossible to miss the delicious juxtaposition of the most recent obesity data from Gallup and the latest offering from one of America’s fast food chains that will no doubt be a big hit in Mississippi.

Though that generation clearly smoked too much and consumed way too much alcohol, obesity is virtually non-existent (at least on Madison Avenue). I’m guessing that 1960s era Mad Men would be a little shocked at a lot of changes that have occurred over the last 50 years, things like obesity and burgers probably being near the top of that list.

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Another One Bites the Dust

It’s not clear which is more idiotic – that some motorcyclists tempt fate by riding between lanes on crowded freeways (a practice called “lane-splitting”) or the fact that some of them film their escapades and make the videos available online as shown below.

This brought back memories of a former life where driving on crowded freeways was a fairly common occurrence and came to my attention after spotting an LA Times story detailing the effort now underway in the California legislature to make this practice legal.

So long as they limit motorcycle riders to 15 mph above the flow of traffic, they should be fine … yeah, right. (Or, perhaps this is just a veiled attempt to kill off lane-splitters.)

A World Drowning in Debt

I don’t know the source of all the data presented in the chart below, recently stumbled upon in this item at the Confounded Interest blog, but nothing about it looks to be out of order. The only major shortfall would appear to be that China is not included and, after reading stories like this one, you have to wonder how they would stack up.

Everyone knows about Japan’s public debt, but the business and bank debt in the U.K. was a bit of a surprise to me. Also, it’s nice to see that our neighbors to the north have now caught up to the U.S. (or passed us – it’s hard to tell) as indebted spendthrifts.

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