In news that we don’t want to hear, imports to the US grew faster than exports. The Wall Street Journal has an article here about how oil imports caused the increase.

The U.S. bill for crude oil imports in Novemer rose to $17.81 billion from $17.44 billion the month before, as higher oil prices more than offset a drop in import volumes. The average price per barrel jumped $5.15 to $72.54, the highest since October 2008. Crude import volumes fell to 245.45 million barrels, the lowest level since February 1999, from 258.83 million.

The U.S. paid $22.97 billion for all types of energy-related imports, up from $22.45 billion in October.

We like the reduced dependence on foreign oil, about 13 million barrels in November.  Is it partly a result of Cash for Clunkers? Or just wisdom on the part of wise consumers? Either way, we didn’t have to ruin the environment or glut the domestic oil market with all the Drill More, Drill Here, Drill Now oil from Alaska. Maybe now we can have a serious discussion on private industry waste, like 24 hour parking lot lighting at the huge box stores.

Banks, the subject of much pain for taxpayers, paid $46 billion dollars to the federal government last year. Fortune magazine reports those numbers on CNN.

Despite the wild rumors, annually the Federal Reserve Member Banks are required to ‘give’ “all profits to the Treasury, after certain deductions.” Usually the member banks ‘give’ about $33 billion to the Treasury, after those deductions. The huge increase of $13 billion came from the bailouts. When banks were pumped full of cash in September, 2008, the Federal Reserve Banks ‘took’ control and possession of certain assets. Those assets represent a continuing risk but has also paid a profit. Let’s hope those profits continue.

Which brings us to the quote of the day from Daniel Wilson, also in the WSJ.

Politicians blindly cling to the unproven ideology of ‘global free markets,’ which in reality serve only multi-national corporations and are anything but free for millions of Americans.