Thursday, 29 March 2012

08:02 – Spain is on strike today, protesting against further budget cuts demanded by the EU. The Spanish economy is moribund, with an unemployment rate of about 25% and youth unemployment running more than 50%. Those numbers are comparable to the US during the worst of the Great Depression, and for Spain things are only going to get worse. And even at that Spain is in great shape compared to Portugal. Both will inevitably require bailing out sooner rather than later, and the likelihood of Germany being willing to fund a real bailout is next to nothing.

The euro crisis hasn’t been in the news much lately, but that doesn’t mean the crisis has been solved, or even that things are getting better. They aren’t. They’re getting immeasurably worse. The EU has been applying extremely expensive band-aids to the problem, but eventually the EU is going to run out of money for these band-aids. In the last few months, the ECB under Draghi has poured a trillion euros down the rathole with its long-term refinancing operation (LTRO). That was intended to improve liquidity and encourage banks to lend money again. It hasn’t worked out that way. Consumers and businesses still can’t get loans from those banks, which are running scared. Instead, the banks are attempting to boost their balance sheets and income statements by borrowing lots of very cheap money from the ECB and using it to buy high-yield sovereign debt. That in turn has, very temporarily, driven down yields on the sovereign bonds issued by troubled EU economies. When reality sets in, which should be any moment now, everyone will realize that things are worse than ever.

12:28 – How could I have forgotten? Happy 101st birthday to “Old Slabsides“, which despite its age is still the best fighting pistol ever invented, period.

The US supposedly replaced the M1911A1 as its standard service pistol in the 80’s, but in fact that never really happened. The only service members who use the replacement piece of junk (at least voluntarily) are the ones who pretty much carry the pistol for show and will never need it (or so they hope). The folks who actually use pistols regularly to shoot bad guys still prefer the .45 ACP M1911A1, because it can actually be trusted to fire when one pulls the trigger, and because the .45 ACP is, as it has always been, a decisive man-stopper–effective about 19 times in 20 according to real data. The current service pistol uses the garbage 9mm round, which is a very poor man stopper–effective about 10 times in 20 according to real data. Just what any soldier wants: shoot someone and flip a coin to see if he falls over. It’s no coincidence that the SEALs, Marine Recon, and so on–the guys at the sharp end–carry a .45 ACP pistol whenever possible, and most of them prefer the M1911A1.

I’m trying to think of any other example of a weapon that was introduced that long ago, is still produced, and is still the best weapon in its class. I can’t think of a single military example. The Winchester Model 12 pump-action shotgun was used in the trenches in WWI, but was no longer military issue before I was born. It ceased mass production in 1963 and continued in limited production until a few years ago.

At any rate, congratulations to John Moses Browning and the M1911 pistol he invented. One hundred and one years, and still champeen.

12:42 – Oh, my. I see that “Greece plans to open concentration camps” in an attempt to stop the rioting by penning up illegal immigrants. Good luck with that. Illegal immigrants are the least of Greece’s problems. Most of the rioters are Greek citizens who have already been pushed beyond endurance. Expect to see widespread major rioting in Portugal, Spain, and Italy before too much longer. I wonder if they’ll also build concentration camps.