Economy | - Part 10

Couple Steals Copper to Pay for Wedding

The Beaver County Times in Western Pennsylvania reports that a couple pilfered copper wire from utility poles in order to pay for their upcoming wedding, beating the sharp price decline last week but failing to escape the law.

Preparing for a weekend wedding, an Eastvale couple cut copper wire valued at $7,146 from 18 utility poles, according to a North Sewickley Township police report.

April C. Cater, 24, and Joseph Russell, 23, both of 700 2nd Ave., were charged with theft, criminal conspiracy and criminal mischief after the incidents on Aug. 9, according to police.

Russell told police they planned to be married on Aug. 13 and he had lost his job at an auto parts store, according to the report.

Cater was the driver and, accompanied by Russell, used her name to sell the copper wire at Allegheny Raw Materials in Franklin Township, according to police. Company officials gave police video of Cater and Russell and their vehicle from Aug. 10.

And I thought stories about stripping the copper plumbing out of foreclosed homes in Detroit were about as bad as it would get for the down economy/high commodity prices period we’re going through. Perhaps we’ve entered a whole new phase…

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The “R-word” Index

The Economist’s Daily Chart provides confirmation of what most people already seem to  understand – that another recession is, if not already here, on its way.

In case you hadn’t noticed, never before in the last two decades has the index been this high outside of a recession. In fact, it is now higher than it ever was back in 2001.

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Well, At Least It’s Not 100 Percent

John Hussman’s weekly commentary this morning contained the following chart that should be cause for concern for economists who think we’ll avoid another recession and equity markets that generally respond poorly to economic slowdowns.

I don’t seem to recall seeing this chart last year when a lot of people were talking about a double-dip recession, that is, right up until around mid-summer when the Federal Reserve starting talking very seriously about QE2 and whether it would be better to print up another couple hundred billion dollars or a half a trillion.

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The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index plunged from 63.7 in July to 54.9 in the first of two readings for August as the debt ceiling debate, U.S. and European credit concerns, and tumbling stock prices drove the index to its lowest level since 1980.

As shown below, during the worst of the financial crisis in November of 2008, this index fell only as far as 55.3, so, along with renewed volatility on Wall Street, count this as another indication that the months ahead could be perilous.

The expectations component dropped from 56.0 in July to a near-record low of 45.7 in August and the gauge of current economic conditions fell from 75.8 to 69.3. Moderating gasoline prices saw inflation fears easing, the one-year outlook for consumer prices steady at 3.4 percent while five-year inflation was seen at 2.9 percent.

Coming on the heels of this morning’s better than expected report on retail sales last month, you can’t help but wonder if Americans have decided to adopt the attitude of “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die”.

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