ThinkFast: March 24, 2008

According to Merrill Lynch, at the end of 2007, “36 percent of consumers’ disposable income went to food, energy and medical care, a bigger chunk of income than at any time since records were first kept in 1960.”

Health-care costs are “whacking away” at the wages of working class Americans. Premiums for family health coverage have increased 78 percent since 2001. “Even though workers are producing more, inflation-adjusted median family income has dipped 2.6 percent — or nearly $1,000 annually since 2000.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has consistently “condemned the influence of ‘special interest lobbyists.’” Yet of “the 66 current or former lobbyists working for the Arizona senator or raising money for his presidential campaign, 23 have lobbied for telecommunications companies in the past decade.” McCain has received $765,000 in donations from these individuals and their spouses, co-workers, and clients.

“[E]vidence from nonprofit credit and mortgage counselors suggests that the number of people using these so-called ‘pay day loans’ is growing…a negative sign for economic recovery.” A pay day loan “is typically for a few hundred dollars, with a term of two weeks, and an interest rate as high as 800 percent.”


“Bipartisan support is mounting for the Justice Department to investigate the unauthorized searches of all three presidential candidate’s passport files by a State Department employee and three contracted workers in recent months.”

In addition to U.S. troop deaths reaching 4,000 in Iraq, “American forces have just experienced the most violent two-week period in Iraq since September 2007.” Between March 10 and 23, twenty-five soldiers were killed in Iraq.

The average price of gasoline has hit a record $3.26 a gallon, with diesel at a record $4.06. The average coast of gasoline jumped nearly 7 cents from two weeks earlier.

Young Army and Marine captains “have extensive combat experience and are regarded as the military’s future leaders.” But “the hardships of repeated tours are taking their toll,” sending these individuals back to “civilian life.” Capt. Kirkner Bailey of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Mosul said that “8 of my 10 friends who are captains are leaving the army.”

In talks Sunday night, JPMorgan Chase discussed offering Bear Stearns $10 a share, instead of its initial offering of $2, “in an effort to pacify angry Bear shareholders.” The New York Times reported that the Fed “was balking at the new offer price,” making it “possible” that the new deal could “collapse entirely.”


And finally: Since former New York state governor Eliot Spitzer’s “tête-à-tête with a call girl at the famous Mayflower Hotel,” business has been booming. The hotel’s gift shop “has been booming with people picking up Mayflower coffee mugs and post cards” and the venue’s bar “is busier than normal.”

What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.