Random thoughts and links on the dollar, credit, brainwaves, income inequality and Comcast

Catching up on my reading I came across some interesting tidbits, which are shared below.

The Economist has published its Big Mac index of Purchasing Power Parity, and to no surprise, it shows the European currencies as massively overvalued and the Asian currencies as massively undervalued, with the dollar, on average, just about right.

In the same issue, the Economist notes that the seemingly large rise in the inequality of real incomes in the US is likely overstated, as the rich have experienced much more inflation in the things they buy than the middle class have experienced in the things they buy over the past twenty years.  This largely explains why the issue hasn’t gotten much grab politically.  Interestingly, the trend has changed recently with the rise in commodity and import prices greatly impacting the middle class, thus their generally foul mood on the economy over the past several years.  Both parties don’t get it: INFLATION is the biggest political issue, more specifically than the economy, which is borne out in polls that break out people’s ranking of top issues.  They consistently rank gas prices, food prices and health care prices as the top three economic issues.  Note that’s health care PRICES, not ACCESS.

In this Business Week article, Charles Morris, author of the excellent book Trillion Dollar Meltdown, outlines his assessment and prescription for the credit crisis.  As usual, he is spot on.

In the most recent Business Week, they review a new product that allows you to control your computer by only using your brain.  Behold the future.

In this week’s Barrons, Michael Santoli posits that perhaps the big capitulation everyone in the markets are waiting for may not happen, instead we all may suffer a slow-motion drift sideways-and-down that may lead market participants to drift away out of boredom. I agree.

"Ultimately, the trajectory of the market, amid only equivocal signs that it’s trying to bottom, might hinge on whether investors finally make it all the way to the opposite of love, which the old saying tells us is not hate but indifference. It’s hard to argue we’re quite there. So many folks have been sitting in vigil for solid evidence of a climactic panic selloff and recovery (guilty as charged here) that maybe a sort of slow-motion give-up phase will be the crowd-humbling scenario that plays out instead."

Also in this week’s Barrons, Eric Savitz reminds us, contrary to current market sentiment, how badly the cable companies are kicking the phone companies’ behinds in all things delivered by a wire.  Not that it makes me feel better about the losses I’ve taken since buying Comcast stock in September 2007.

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