One of the painful realities of life as an economist and professional speaker is that the subject of economics is typically viewed (with good reason!) by the general public as confusing, intimidating and boring. As a result, trying to present weekly economic and financial information with an unusual twist can occasionally be a most welcome change.

Warning! This week’s Tea Leaf is my semi-annual economic, financial and political update — using today’s current movie titles. My sincere apology in advance to anyone I might offend.

The Federal Reserve

The vow taken by Federal Reserve members to keep inflation at bay may be sorely tested in coming years. ONE FOR THE MONEY has taken on new meaning as more than $2 trillion in mortgage bonds and U.S. Treasury securities have been bought by the Fed, the intent to push long-term interest rates lower.

Such bonds could ultimately be an ALBATROSS around the Fed’s neck if and when the general level of interest rates returns to more traditional levels. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke could find himself a MAN ON A LEDGE at that time.


The financial mess continues, with debt CONTAGION spreading from one country to the next. Too many nations may find themselves CHIPWRECKED with little success in this dangerous game of MONEYBALL now being played across the continent.

THE DARKEST HOUR has not as yet been felt across Europe. German and French leadership must wonder at times whether they BOUGHT A ZOO of problems much larger than the initial euro agreements suggested.

Hopefully, THE SITTER (German Chancellor Angela Merkel), also known as the 21st century version of THE IRON LADY, will find believers in the idea of fiscal sanity before THE IDES OF MARCH rolls in.

Youth unemployment

One casualty long overlooked in the European financial CARNAGE is the lack of job opportunities for YOUNG ADULTs across Europe. Gaining that first job — getting that first valuable work EXPERIENCE — is crucial to longer-term success for workers.

The same is true in the U.S. and other parts of the world, where THE DESCENDANTS of hard-working people from around the globe lack such opportunities. American teenage unemployment at 23.7 percent of the labor force (those actually seeking jobs) has a PARIAH impact upon their future employment options.

An end to Iraq war …

The New Year finds a BREAKING DAWN of optimism coupled with fear in Iraq, now lacking an American military presence. Hopefully, THE DEVIL INSIDE too many diverse groups and religious persuasions will give way to moderation and civility and a COURAGEOUS approach to a lasting peace.

The idea of children FOOTLOOSE and fancy free, with HAPPY FEET TWO celebrate an end to war and suffering, with JOYFUL NOISE of children laughing, is a powerful image indeed.

… and still in Afghanistan

What many might consider a MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, an end to war and death in Afghanistan, remains at play. The WAR HORSEs continue to fight in THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY, with this conflict now being the longest in American history.

Here’s hoping the devastation of death can give way to THE FLOWERS OF WAR, a cessation of hostilities, while at the same time limiting the spread of venom and hate to nearby nations and their peoples.

The Congress

Leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate continue their HAYWIRE relationship with one another. THE DIVIDE is as wide, and damaging as at almost any other time in American history. A GAME OF SHADOWS and political intrigue among and between key PLAYERS serves not this nation.

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE whining and nay-saying between members of the primary political parties must give way to what is in America’s best interests. A lack of cooperation approaching PARANORMAL ACTIVITY merely threatens another downgrade of American debt during 2012, with higher borrowing costs — and resultant even larger budget deficits — sooner rather than later.

In my mind, THE HELP in the U.S. Congress — people sent to the nation’s capital to do the people's business — suffers from an ABDUCTION of common sense that needs to be turned around quickly.

ONCE UPON A TIME, congressional members did work together better. Certainly they do not have to act as NEWLYWEDS. Nevertheless, an imminent DECLARATION OF WAR against disastrous future budget deficits is mandatory as THE GREYing of the population continues.

Perhaps new and positive individual resolutions adopted on NEW YEAR’S EVE by congressional members will help turn the corner toward A SEPERATION between vile and biting comments — and those constructive comments, ideas and actions that benefit all Americans. Time is short to avoid the type of chaos now engulfing Europe.

Jeff Thredgold is the only economist to have earned the CSP (certified speaking professional) international designation, the highest earned designation in professional speaking. He is also an economic consultant to Zions Bank.