Economics and Investing:

Readers Greg C. and FJR both sent us this “must read” piece by Chris Hedges: The American Empire is Bankrupt

KAF sent this key indicator of some incipient unraveling: Standard & Poor’s cuts ratings on 18 banks

From frequent content contributor GG: China sells US bonds to ‘show concern’

Also from GG: Russia’s industrial output drops massive 17 per cent in May despite government reassurances

Items from The Economatrix:

Californian Hard Times Driving People Back to the “Dust Bowl”

US Mortgage Applications Plunge to Near Seven-Month Low

That Worrying Wall of Debt “…the leveraged loan market is fixated on one number: $430 billion, the amount in leveraged loans due to mature between 2012 and 2014. Despite the big numbers of the past, this might be simply too big. Indeed, the $430 billion figure is already worrying lenders, borrowers and loan-market investors alike as they struggle with the possibility that a large portion of those loans will neither be repaid nor refinanced, raising the specter of a wave of defaults among the debt-fueled LBO borrowers of 2005 through 2007.”

The Hammer Drops Fiscal year 2010 starts soon for California and other states……

Roubini Sees Weeds Amid “Green Shoots” “In addition to green shoots there are also yellow weeds.” Economy could expand slightly only to begin contracting again.

British Airways Ask Staff to Work for Free. [JWR Adds: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. Since this is an un-paid day for me, sort of a holiday, I hope that you don’t mind if I indulge in a few aerobatics.”]

Stocks Fall Mostly on Bank Downgrades, FedEx Warning

Sotheby’s Rating Faces Downgrade By Moody’s in Market Decline

Eddie Bauer Files for Bankruptcy

The Continuing Saga of the Ponte Chiasso Affair
If the bonds are fake, then why are the perps not in jail? If they are fake, why is there a near-blackout in the US news media? If they are fake, why has the US not declared them so (they were discovered on June 8th)?

Sssssshhhh…It’s D…D…D…Deflation [Scroll down]

Total US Jobless Rolls Drop Sharply To Nearly 6.7 Million
What isn’t shown is how many people have exhausted their benefits and simply fallen off the rolls, or how many people have had to accept part time work instead of full time work.

Health Care Costs [To Employers] to Rise 9% In 2010 “If the underlying costs go up by 9 percent, employees’ costs actually go up by double digits,” [and] “that will have a ‘major, major impact’ when many employers also are freezing or cutting pay.”

Town-Friendly Bank Left Nasty Mess