Sunday, August 27, 2006

The week that was

Yes, posting has been thin the past few days. I'm still figuring out how to fit in blogging with the rest of my life, seeing as no one has yet developed the 27-hour day. So I'll consider this a good opportunity to do a week in review. And what a week it's been.

The most momentous development is that the bursting of the housing bubble has finally made its way into the public consciousness. As I've said before, no amount of real-life human experience in the U.S. economy is considered news by my profession unless it's backed up by some statistic from a government agency or an industry organization. That statistic came on Wednesday, with existing home sales falling 4.1% in July. The story led the evening newscasts on all three of the traditional broadcast networks -- about as good a reflection of conventional wisdom as you can find. The collapse of the housing market has gone mainstream. What will we contrarians harp on now?

Well, there's still peak oil. Here's something that flew under my profession's radar: Russia has overtaken Saudi Arabia, at least for the moment, as the world's leading oil producer. The few news outlets that took notice tended to pooh-pooh the significance. Granted, world oil flows aren't about to make a sudden dramatic shift as a result, and the rankings could well reverse again next month. But you just know Team Bush is getting jittery at the thought that at some point in the foreseeable future, the country pumping out the most oil won't be a reliable U.S. ally, but rather a country that's making a concerted effort to build what diplomats like to call a "counterweight" to U.S. power around the world.

Of more immediate concern at the White House, however, is what sure looks like the buildup to war against Iran. Laura Rozen nicely sums up just one day's worth of ominous developments -- last Wednesday. Granted, they got nudged aside in the headlines by the housing numbers, but I'm struck by a coincidence of timing. It was this same week four years ago that Vice President Cheney gave an explicit public signal that Team Bush would put its preventive war doctrine into action in Iraq.

As I say, what a week it was. Thanks for bearing with the longish post. I hope to return to a regular schedule of more manageable missives this week.


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