Google, Haiti, and Taxachusetts

Saturday, January 23, 2010

There have been so many juicy topics to cover, it’s been difficult to keep away. Every time I’m moved to write, though, I really have something else to do or simply don’t want to devote the time to it. That said, here is, in summary, how to think about the following issues:

Google/China: Yes, if Google was #1 in China this wouldn’t have happened, but they’re not and it did. As a result, this is one of the great humanitarian corporate moves of all time. Perhaps the greatest (there’s not a lot of competition, I’m guessing). Google should follow through and close their business there. As arguably the most important corporation in the world, the move will properly shame China and the many companies that remain in that authoritarian country. Here’s a question that any one doing business there should ask: Would I want to live here?

Haiti: Nothing to do in the aftermath but help. In the long term, I’m with David Brooks and Bret Stephenson. Let’s stop giving money to countries “in need.” It does nothing, and may actively do harm. It’s difficult, because it is human nature to try to help fellow humans in need, but it’s also the right thing to do. Certainly, what the first world has been doing for decades has not worked.

Taxachusetts: I would have voted for Scott Brown too. Seriously. I would have voted for a cardboard cutout against Coakley. Although she was inept, I would have done it to send the message. I have said, many times, that if Obama and this Congress can’t get it done, then there is no hope for us. Year one has been an epic, unmitigated failure. Iraq, Afghanistan, secrecy, deficit spending, bank coddling, and worst of all, the healthcare nightmare. I blame Obama for not using his robust post-election strength to strong arm Pelosi (failure) and Reid (failure) immediately. Weak, poorly managed, pathetic. Obama, where are your balls? It’s time to lead.

And, btw, why do you need the 60 votes? Make an exceptional bill and let the GOP filibuster. Call their bluff. If they do it, and the bill dies, you hang it around their neck. Now, the bill dies, and it’s a Dem failure. Disgraceful.

(But then there would be no healthcare bill, someone wails. So fucking what? Paul Krugman can cry to his cats. This is not the most pressing issue in America. Budget restraint, financial reform, and confiscatory, punitive taxes on very wealth bankers, should be the priority. Followed by a 10% spending cut across the entire government, no exceptions.

We are going to have to suffer, period. Let us start suffering already so we have a shot at not fucking our children.)

The bottom line for me, in all this, is that I have really given up hope. I don’t believe our Congress (and the state legislatures) are capable of introducing the change (ethics, responsible spending) that is necessary.

Something very, very bad is going to happen in the next ten or twenty years. War with China, epic depression/inflation/default, or, in the best case scenario, a benevolent military coup (and a draft) that reforms the government in a way that makes it possible for America to function properly.

David Petraeus, are you out there? Rome needs you. Cross the Rubicon. Cast the die!

P.S. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Nevertheless, letting it stand.

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Cash for Clunkers: WTF?

Friday, June 19, 2009

I have completely soured on the American political system. Really, I have given up.

Democrats are in charge of Congress and the Executive and they still pass shit legislation like the weak credit card reform bill, Obama’s financial regulatory half-measures (still to be watered down even further), and now this cash for clunkers deal.

What the fuck? Just what the fuck?

Why should someone driving a piece of shit get my money to help them buy a new car? And, you know what? We’re borrowing it. So it’s my child’s money. $104 billion Treasury auction next week. And the bottom line here is that all of the important reforms are not happening. It’s all window dressing. And kicking the can down the road. Again. Just like the GOP. We have a completely dysfunctional, utterly broken political system and it won’t change until (seriously) a revolution happens.

WE ARE FUCKED.


Bernanke, Paulson Lies

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Par for the course. Reflate those popped tires and keep driving towards that vast chasm in the distance.

Who trusts anyone right now?

From Austrian Filter via Zero Hedge:

February 28, 2007 – Dow Jones @ 12,268

March 13th, 2007 – Henry Paulson: “the fallout in subprime mortgages is “going to be painful to some lenders, but it is largely contained.”

March 28th, 2007 – Ben Bernanke: “At this juncture . . . the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime markets seems likely to be contained,”

March 30, 2007 – Dow Jones @ 12,354

April 20th, 2007 – Paulson: “I don’t see (subprime mortgage market troubles) imposing a serious problem. I think it’s going to be largely contained.” , “All the signs I look at” show “the housing market is at or near the bottom,”

April 30, 2007 – Dow Jones @ 13,063

May 17th, 2007 – Bernanke: “While rising delinquencies and foreclosures will continue to weigh heavily on the housing market this year, it will not cripple the U.S.”

May 31, 2007 – Dow Jones @ 13,627

June 20th, 2007 – Bernanke: (the subprime fallout) “will not affect the economy overall.”

July 12th, 2007 – Paulson: “This is far and away the strongest global economy I’ve seen in my business lifetime.”

August 1st, 2007 – Paulson: “I see the underlying economy as being very healthy,”

October 15th, 2007 – Bernanke: “It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve – nor would it be appropriate – to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions.”

December 31, 2007 – Dow Jones @ 13,265

January 31, 2008 – Dow Jones @ 12,650

February 14th, 2008 – Paulson: (the economy) “is fundamentally strong, diverse and resilient.”

February 28th, 2008 – Paulson: “I’m seeing a series of ideas suggested involving major government intervention in the housing market, and these things are usually presented or sold as a way of helping homeowners stay in their homes. Then when you look at them more carefully what they really amount to is a bailout for financial institutions or Wall Street.”

February 29th, 2008 – Bernanke: “I expect there will be some failures. I don’t anticipate any serious problems of that sort among the large internationally active banks that make up a very substantial part of our banking system.”

March 16th, 2008 – Paulson: “We’ve got strong financial institutions . . . Our markets are the envy of the world. They’re resilient, they’re…innovative, they’re flexible. I think we move very quickly to address situations in this country, and, as I said, our financial institutions are strong.”

March 18th, 2008 – Bear Stearns Bailout Announced

May 7, 2008 – Paulson: ‘The worst is likely to be behind us,”

May 16th, 2008 – Paulson: “In my judgment, we are closer to the end of the market turmoil than the beginning,” he said.

May 30, 2008 – Dow Jones @ 12,638

June 9th, 2008 – Bernanke: Despite a recent spike in the nation’s unemployment rate, the danger that the economy has fallen into a “substantial downturn” appears to have waned,

July 16th, 2008 – Bernanke: (Freddie and Fannie) “…will make it through the storm”, “… in no danger of failing.”,”…adequately capitalized”

July 20th, 2008 – Paulson: “it’s a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation.”

July 31, 2008 – Dow Jones @ 11,378

August 10th, 2008 – Paulson: “We have no plans to insert money into either of those two institutions.” (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac)

September 8th, 2008 – Fannie and Freddie nationalized. The taxpayer is on the hook for an estimated 1 – 1.5 trillion dollars. Over 5 trillion is added to the nation’s balance sheet.

September 16th, 2008 – $85 Billion AIG Bailout “Loan”

September 19th, 2008 – $700 Billion Bailout Plan Announced

September 19th, 2008 – Paulson: “We’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars – this needs to be big enough to make a real difference and get at the heart of the problem,” he said. “This is the way we stabilize the system.”

September 19th, 2008 – Bernanke: “most severe financial crisis” in the post-World War II era. Investment banks are seeing “tremendous runs on their cash,” Bernanke said. “Without action, they will fail soon.”

September 21st, 2008 – Paulson: “The credit markets are still very fragile right now and frozen”, “We need to deal with this and deal with it quickly.”, “The financial security of all Americans … depends on our ability to restore our financial institutions to a sound footing.”

September 23rd, 2008 – Paulson: “We must [enact a program quickly] in order to avoid a continuing series of financial institution failures and frozen credit markets that threaten American families’ financial well-being, the viability of businesses, both small and large, and the very health of our economy,”

September 23rd, 2008 – Bernanke: “My interest is solely for the strength and recovery of the U.S. economy,”

October 31, 2008 – Dow Jones @ 9,337

March 31, 2009 – Dow Jones @ 7,609From


Hooray! Unemployment Hits Only 8.9%

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hooray! The official number is only 539,000 jobs lost! …But it is, like seemingly everything coming out of the Obama administration these days, seriously fudged.

BLS adds in a season adjustment of tens of thousands for net birth/death rate, and there were another 60K government census (temporary) jobs added to the rolls. Altogether, the private sector lost over 650K jobs. And it will go up once it is revised next month.

But don’t worry, nothing to see here. The stress tests boosted the banks, borrowing and printing money is not insanely dangerous, and massive unemployment won’t depress a consumer based economy. There are no state and local governments in desperate financial trouble, no pension funds that are seriously underfunded, home prices and foreclosures are leveling off, and America didn’t just have to raise the coupon (mid-auction) on a 30-year bond offering in order to get people to buy them.

Nope, nothing to see here. Green shoots everywhere.

“We cannot go back to an economy that is built on a pile of sand — on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards, on overleveraged banks and outdated regulations that allowed the recklessness of a few to threaten the prosperity of us all.”

This was Barack Obama on April 29 in a press conference marking his first 100 days in office.

What is so scary about this is that we really can’t trust anyone, especially the government. The Obama administration understands propaganda and media manipulation (at least as well, if not better, than the Bushies). Do they understand in a deeply interconnected world, with an increasingly irrelevant mainstream media, that lies are uncovered quickly and undermine trust and confidence?

Do they ultimately understand that the crisis is an issue of confidence?

Right now, they’re just buying time and praying. We’d all be well advised to do the same.


Obama Wants 3% of GDP to Science

Monday, April 27, 2009

Absolutely love this.

Absolutely right.


Stress Test Leak?

Monday, April 20, 2009

This has caused a stir. Treasury claims not to have the results yet, so how can this dude have them? Treasury appears, however, to be lying. Nevertheless, this guy is apparently a major crank and the post is almost certainly false.

From a blog called Turner Radio Network:

The Turner Radio Network has obtained the stress test results. They are very bad. The most salient points from the stress tests appear below.

1) Of the top nineteen (19) banks in the nation, sixteen (16) are already technically insolvent.

2) Of the 16 banks that are already technically insolvent, not even one can withstand any disruption of cash flow at all or any further deterioration in non-paying loans.

3) If any two of the 16 insolvent banks go under, they will totally wipe out all remaining FDIC insurance funding.

4) Of the top 19 banks in the nation, the top five (5) largest banks are under capitalized so dangerously, there is serious doubt about their ability to continue as ongoing businesses.

5) Five large U.S. banks have credit exposure related to their derivatives trading that exceeds their capital, with four in particular – JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, HSBC Bank America and Citibank – taking especially large risks.

6) Bank of America`s total credit exposure to derivatives was 179 percent of its risk-based capital; Citibank`s was 278 percent; JPMorgan Chase`s, 382 percent; and HSBC America`s, 550 percent. It gets even worse: Goldman Sachs began reporting as a commercial bank, revealing an alarming total credit exposure of 1,056 percent, or more than ten times its capital!

7) Not only are there serious questions about whether or not JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs,Citibank, Wells Fargo, Sun Trust Bank, HSBC Bank USA, can continue in business, more than 1,800 regional and smaller institutions are at risk of failure despite government bailouts!

The debt crisis is much greater than the government has reported. The FDIC`s “Problem List” of troubled banks includes 252 institutions with assets of $159 billion. 1,816 banks and thrifts are at risk of failure, with total assets of $4.67 trillion, compared to 1,568 institutions, with $2.32 trillion in total assets in prior quarter.

Put bluntly, the entire US Banking System is in complete and total collapse.

It’s entirely plausible, isn’t it? American ponzi, baby!


EPA Declares Carbon Dioxide a Threat to Public Health

Friday, April 17, 2009

Here.

Gee, I hope they’ll let me breathe.