1. Saudi Arabia’s ageing leadership and archaic political system are headed for a fall. Karen Elliott House says “the U.S. soon may face the staggering consequences of instability” within its most important remaining Arab ally. 2. Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tehran yesterday, to the astonishment of the Iranian regime, which had expected a much smaller crowd. The rallies were the largest since the Green Movement uprising in 2009.
3. “The Afghan government does not so much serve the people as prey on them. Last year, Transparency International ranked Afghanistan as the world’s hundred-and-70-sixth most corrupt country out of a hundred and 70-eight….It’s a vertically integrated criminal enterprise.”‘ Read the rest here.
4. Rapidly rising commodity prices will soon force retailers to raise prices. Whether consumers will be willing to pay higher prices remains to be seen.
5. Veteran oil analyst Charlie Maxwell says that oil production has peaked and that by 2020, the price per barrel will likely settle at $300.
6. President Obama has “unveiled a hugely disappointing budget,” cutting only a few percentage points from the $100 trillion in projected US federal deficits over the remainder of this century.” Terrence Keeley’s critique is here.
7. The $3 trillion municipal bond market has become a “top priority” for the SEC, amid “concerns” of “mounting risks for investors,” the FT reports. The SEC established a “muni unit” about a year ago.
8. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has long been a close ally of labour and a protector of their interests in Springfield. Not anymore.
9. The world’s largest bond fund cut its exposure to US debt in January. Pimco’s Total Return Fund reduced its holdings in various US debt instruments from 22 per cent to 12 per cent.
10. Mitt Romney has a huge lead in New Hampshire, according to a well-respected poll. Rush Limbaugh and other radio talk show hosts attacked Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels for his CPAC speech, which called on conservatives to reach out beyond….radio talk show hosts.
11. Illinois will postpone its debt offering until next week. The decision was meant to give investors “time to digest the governor’s budget speech.”
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