15 Feb 2012

The Rise of Extreme Nationalism in Europe and East vs West + Are Breast Implants the new Hemline Indicators for Social Mood?

The two biggest economies sat down to the table amidst an ongoing trade rift today. China's Vice President Xi Jinping is in Washington meet with with Barack Obama at the white house. As they do the diplomatic dance, we've recently heard tough talk towards china from both obama, as well as other republican presidential hopefuls -- we'll separate campaign rhetoric from reality. We speak with professor Ann Lee from Demos and ask her what the outcome of US-China relations will be not just one or two years from now, but further down the line. Are concerns about a trade war or a currency war just par for the course? Should we be worried about an actual war?

And, let's talk about the Eurozone, because no matter what you think, this is a wound that continues to fester. We thought that the Greek government had managed to pass an agreement that now just needed a rubber stamping from the folks in brussels, washington and around the banking world. But now it appears that this may not be the case. A Finance Minister meeting scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled amidst concerns that the greek government has not gone far enough. Specifically, Antonis Samaras, leader of the new democracy party, is being asked to make a firmer commitment to the terms of the agreement, which he seemed to shy away from by saying that, after elections, Greeks would be able to seek better terms. Meanwhile, the rating agencies still stalk the european sovereigns on the burning continent, proceeding with a new round of downgrades and negative outlooks. Although some of the downgrades were not a surprise, placing the UK on negative outlook was the one that many analysts were not expecting. What will this mean for the UK if they lose their AAA? Will it even matter, or will they be able to benefit from the "US-effect" of low interest rates irrespective of rating as they can just print their obligations away? Well, lucky for us, we have founder of Credit Writedowns Edward Harrison in studio to talk to us about it. We will also speak to edward about the rise of nationalism in Europe, the problems in portugal, and what the future may hold for Greece given the recent riots and stalled eurozone debt talks.

And last but not least...breast implants? Are breast implants the new miniskirts? Last week we talked about socionomics with Robert Prechter, founder of Elliott Wave Institute. We discussed what's known as the "hemline indicator," where skirt length has been a gauge of social mood and the health of markets and the economy. In the 60s skirts got shorter, in the late 70s as the economy was in recession hemlines hit the floor. Now, Joshua Brown on RerformedBroker.com argues this indicator may be passe. He submits a better indicator of financial well being and national mood for our generation is the "boob indicator." He cites the rebound of plastic surgery along with some of the gains we've seen in the economy. As USA Today informs us: Americans got about 1.6 million cosmetic surgeries in 2011, the second year of increase after a big drop in 2009, according to an annual report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and breast implants top that list. So tell us what you think -- is the "boob indicator" the new "hemline indicator," and what's your take on what it says about any so-called "recovery."