Here are a few interesting tidbits to chew on:
1) In the land of the free, there are now more than 760 incarcerated inmates for every 100,000 citizens. This is more than 5x the 1980 average, and it far surpasses the number (560 per 100,000) that Stalin threw in the Gulag at the peak of Soviet terror.
2) Apparently, Americans are getting more interested in snitching on each other. According to Google Trends, internet searches for terms such as “IRS reward” (and related keywords) have exploded since 2008, and especially this year.
3) Last month, a school district in California sold $164 million worth of bonds at 12.6% interest; this is more than Pakistan, Botswana, and Ecuador pay in the international bond market.
4) Based on the Treasury’s most recent statistics, US government interest payments to China will total at least $26.055 billion this year. The real figure may be much higher given that China has been purchased Treasuries for decades, back when interest rates were much higher. They’re still getting paid on those higher rates today. Even still, this year’s interest payment to China totals more than ALL the silver that was mined in the world last year.
5) In August 2008, just before the Lehman Brothers collapse, the number of employed persons in the United States was 145.47 million persons. Over the subsequent years, the employment figure dipped to as low as 139.27 million. Today it stands at 142.1 million. Even if this is considered recovery, to ‘rescue’ those 2.8 million jobs, it took the federal government an additional $6.421 trillion worth of debt ($2.3 million per job), and a $1.9 trillion (203%) expansion of the Federal Reserve balance sheet.
6) Meanwhile, despite trillions of euros in debt and bailouts, the unemployment rate in the eurozone just hit a record high of 11.4%… and a second Spanish bailout is now imminent.
7) Inflation in Zimbabwe (3.63%) is lower than inflation in the UK (3.66%, August 2011-July 2012).
8) Last week, the French government reached a ‘historic’ budget compromise, shooting for a budget deficit that’s ‘only’ 3% of GDP. This is based on an assumption that the economy will grow by 0.8%. In other words, France’s official public debt (which is already at 91% of GDP) will increase by 2.2% of GDP next year amid flat growth. And this is what these people consider progress.