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Financial Humor Bulletin, November 2009

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[Nov 30, 2009] 15 signs Wall Street pathology is spreading by  Paul B. Farrell

Nov. 24, 2009 | MarketWatch

In "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism" Jack Bogle no longer sees Adam Smith's "invisible hand" driving "capitalism in a healthy, positive direction."

Today, his "Happy Conspiracy" of Wall Street plus co-conspirators in Washington and Corporate America are spreading a contagious "pathological mutation of capitalism" driven by the new "invisible hands" of this new "mutant capitalism," serving their selfish agenda in a war to totally control America's democracy and capitalism.

The "Goldman Conspiracy" is the perfect B-school case study of Wall Street's secret contagious pathology, with insiders like Lloyd Blankfein, Henry Paulson and others pocketing billions more of the firm's profits than shareholders, evidence the new "mutant capitalism" has replaced Adam Smith's 1776 version which historically endowed the soul of American democracy as well as our capitalistic system.

Sadly for America Goldman's disease is rapidly becoming a pandemic spreading beyond Wall Street's too-greedy-to-fail banks, infecting our economy, markets and government as it metastasizes globally.

What are the symptoms of this growing "soul sickness," this "pathological mutation of capitalism" Bogle fears? Recently we reviewed the consequences of this "soul sickness."

Today we'll paraphrase news reports about 15 symptoms spreading "soul sickness" beyond the boundaries of this Goldman case study: These are the 15 signs of a moral pathology undermining not just banking but American democracy and capitalism.

1. Gross denial of any moral damage caused by their rampant greed

Seeking Alpha: "Goldman is America's most hated corporation." We cheer as Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi calls Goldman "a giant vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity." Banks triggered a global crisis. Main Street suffers. Greedy bank CEOs raid the Treasury then stuff $30 billion in their bonus pockets, up 60% from last year. They are our 21st century General Motors, convinced "What's good for Goldman is good for America." We saw how that arrogance ended. Wall Street has similar suicidal symptoms.

2. Narcissistic egomaniacs with secret 'God complexes'

London Times' John Arlidge interviewed Goldman CEO Blankfein: "He paid himself $68 million in 2007, now worth more than $500 million, yet insists he's a blue-collar guy. He says banking has a 'social purpose,' just a banker 'doing God's work.'" When I was at Morgan Stanley in the 1970s the firm ran an ad: "If God Wanted To Do a Financing, He Would Call Morgan Stanley."

Today, all of Wall Street is dual diagnosed: They're morally blind money addicts who believe they're "God's chosen." AA would say: They haven't "bottomed," won't recover from their disease till a disaster hits, with another market meltdown and the "Great Depression 2." Then maybe they'll "quit playing God."

3. Paranoid obsessives about secrecy, guilt and non-disclosure

Bloomberg: "New York Fed's Secret Deal: Taxpayers paid $13 billion more than necessary when government officials, acting in secret, made deals with banks on AIG, buying $62 billion of credit-default swaps from AIG." The government would eventually cover about $180 billion in AIG swaps backing toxic CDOs when Paulson and Ben Bernanke double-teamed to bailout Goldman, saving them from bankruptcy.

4. Power-hungry need to control government using Trojan Horses

Wall Street Journal: "For a year Goldman said it wouldn't have suffered damage if AIG collapsed. But a new report kills that claim. TARP inspector general found that then New York Fed Chair Tim Geithner gave away the farm. If AIG had collapsed, Goldman would have had to cover the losses itself. They couldn't collect on the protection of AIG swaps." Yes, Goldman was bankrupt. But friends in high places always save them.

5. Borderline personalities who regularly ignore conflicts of interest

New York Times: "Before becoming Treasury secretary in 2006, Hank Paulson agreed to hold himself to a higher ethical standard than his predecessors. He specifically said he'd avoid his old buddies at Goldman where he was CEO. Later Congress saw many conflicts of interest, not just meetings but favorable treatment for his buddies at Goldman."

[Nov 29, 2009] Death Model and Unemployment Rate

Tin Hat:

I am tired of listening platitudes, so I have written our Illustrious Leader a speech. I'm sure the administration will never use it. Here goes:

My fellow Americans, I have to tell you the truth for once.

The Federal Reserve has bailed out domestic and foreign banks at your expense and is now the real estate financier of only resort. The situation is so severe, the Fed is printing funny money to pay the interest to its foreign creditors. I have to put it to you plainly. The United States is totally bankrupt. Kaput. Busted. Since this once great country is in its final death throws, I'm going to make sure the middle class relinquishes what's left of its wealth to Wall Street. My great reform bills are going to speed up that process. If Congress balks, my friends will simply pay them off with your money.

The SEC, FDA, USDA and the remaining alphabet soup of regulatory agencies will remain ineffective. Your jobs will never return. Big oil and gas will continue to pollute your land through exemptions. Big Agra will continue to feed you creepy food. We will create a dog and pony show of terrorists to keep you frightened. The wars will escalate. Don't bother voting me out next term because the 2 party system is merely a facade designed to keep you peasants bickering.

Why do I say all this? Because the United States has become a fascist/corporatist country. Everything Congress and I do is for the benefit of CEO bonuses and our campaign fund balances. I will not sign any law that restricts corporate power.

Bottom line, dear Americans, is this: The banks have ripped you off with my and Congress' blessing. The sums are so huge, you the public, will never dig yourselves out. We will continue funneling money to the top as long as foreign nations are willing to fund your debt. Since we know this will eventually come to an end, we are looking into ways to replace the dollar with a different global reserve currency. We will not tell you exactly how all this will unfold as we do not want the little people hedging our plans. Wall Street will win, and you will lose.

This is the change you can truly believe in.

---------
Of course this will never, ever be said. It's pure fiction after all.

[Nov 28, 2009] Standard & Poors New Policy Concealing the S&P 500 P-E Ratio from the General Public

Pretty funny crooks in Standard & Poors
Nov. 17, 2009

Some high-level decision-maker at Standard & Poor's has decided that the public should no longer be allowed easy access to this crucial number: the Price/Earnings ratio of the S&P 500.

That number went above 140 on September 30, 2009 -- the highest ever recorded. It had continued upward all year.

[Nov 25, 2009] Fed Reserve Endorses “Crony Communism” for Wealthy

November 25, 2009 | The Big Picture

Here’s a candidate for the understatement of the year: The Federal Reserve is concerned that their free-wheeling, money-printing, dollar-destroying, quantitative-easing, zero-percent interest rate policy might be “fueling undue financial-market speculation.”

HEHEHE:

Good post. The reality being that the only bubble bigger than the current speculative bubble in assets is the bubble in INVESTMENT BANK BONUSES!!!!

Mannwich:

This has become a truly brilliant comedy show. No need to watch comedy. We’re living it. And the joke’s on us.

[Nov 25, 2009] Inner Workings » Blog Archive » It’s Still the Worst Deflation in US History By David Goldman

The crystal-meth monetary policy at the Fed makes everyone feel better, until they don’t. ...at the capillary level, through, the economy is dying and gangrene is setting in.

[Nov 25, 2009] New Blog “Economists for Firing Larry Summers”

The Big Picture

VennData:

Can you imagine this sort of talk while we’re at war? It’s unpatriotic.

Go ahead and embolden the enemy with your anti-American talk.

call me ahab:

where’s the “Bankers for firing Geithner” blog or the “Monetarists for firing Bernanke” blog?

bobk:

Just watch— in a truly bold, daring move they’ll bring in Bob Rubin.

AndrewBW:

I’m looking for a blog devoted to “Non-Economists/Monetarists/Bankers for Firing the Whole Freaking Lot of ‘Em!”

Mike S:

John Snow

John Snow

John Snow

John Snow

John Snow

Paul O’Neil

Paul O’Neil

Paul O’Neil

Is Larry Summers worse than either of these two?

contrabandista13:

ECONOMISTS FOR FIRING LARRY SUMMERS – 27

ECONOMISTS FOR HANGING LARRY SUMMERS – 3,942

Best regards,

Econolicious

[Nov 25, 2009] Elliot Spitzer on Tim Geithner

The Mess That Greenspan Made

Income that went unreported due to TurboTax is one thing, but billions of dollars in taxpayer money being handed over to Wall Street ...  is quite another.

[Nov 24, 2009] Back to Business - Investment Funds Profit Again, This Time By Paring Mortgages - NYTimes.com

62-year-old janitor in $440,000 home. Possible only in the subprime country...

Steven and Marisela Alva say they do not know who helped them with their mortgage. All they know is that they feel blessed.

Last December, the couple got a letter saying that a firm had purchased the mortgage on their home in Pico Rivera, Calif., from Chase Home Finance for less than its original value. “We want to share this discount with you,” the letter said.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Mr. Alva, a 62-year-old janitor and father of three. “I kept thinking to myself, ‘Something is wrong, something is wrong. This sounds too good.’ ”

But it was true. The balance on the Alvas’ mortgage was ultimately reduced to $314,000 from $440,000.

[Nov 23, 2009] Fed Watch- "The Fed in a Corner"

nikola tesla:

The Fed is not in a corner. It is in the center of a circular firing squad.

Lobbyist Ben Dover:

I wonder how much money Greenspan has made since retiring from the Fed?

redfish9395:

I find it curious that accountability necessarily means loss of independence.
 

[Nov 22, 2009] Jon Stewart on Silver Dome, Goldman Sachs and more

Goldman doing God's work indeed, but only if God is a croupier. "Jon Stewart has been the only news program I watch over the past 5 years or so. (Stephen Colbert air too later for my schedule). This is also true for many of my friends and for the younger generations. Speaks volume about the state of  'the free media'. "
Nov 21, 2009 | CalculatedRisk 

Here is a link if the embed doesn't work.
 

MrM:

Jon Stewart has been the only news program I watch over the past 5 years or so. (Stephen Colbert air too later for my schedule).

This is also true for many of my friends and for the younger generations. Speaks volume about the state of "the free media".

NOTaREALmerican:

MrM:

Jon Stewart has been the only news program I watch over the past 5 years or so.

Oddly enough, I've got a very fascist friend that watches him. However, when I occasionally watch it with him, what is fascinating is how he can separate the humor from the politics. He doesn't seem to mind Stewart insulting his favorite politicians for some reason. He worships Cheney, but would not appear to mind if Steward insulted him. But, if PBS or (worse) CNN had something to say about Cheney they were automatically un-Merican.

nikola tesla:

On a serious note. We, collectively, have spent trillion of dollars to halt the rather precipitous decline. (British understatement alert). What gets us out of this? Consumer spending? Capital spending? International trade? I can't for the life of me see a way out of a really bad ending. A RRE revival? Anything?

Nuke:

tesla:

Good intentions. The road to heaven, as I recall, is paved with them.

NOTaREALmerican:

nikola tesla wrote:

What gets us out of this?

A return to normalcy. That's what TPTB are hoping for. The peasants have very short memories. If 10% reported unemployment can become the new normal, then in 2 or 3 years it's back to more debt based growth. As long as you know Hu doesn't mind.

[Nov 20, 2009] Paul Krugman: The Big Squander

"So Krugman's 12 months behind the commentariat in recognizing the futility of TARP. Where's our damn Nobel prize?"
NateTG:

"So Krugman's 12 months behind the commentariat in recognizing the futility of TARP. Where's our damn Nobel prize?"

TARP isn't futile. It's a bonus program, not a jobs program.

Cinco-X

NateTG wrote:

TARP isn't futile. It's a bonus program, not a jobs program.

Starting to look like more of an extortion payoff...

HomeGnome:

Breaking:

DHS declares private ownership of gold and silver to be illegal.
Penalty for ownership is 20 year mandatory minimum.

---sorry no link.

Cinco-X:

 TJ and The Bear wrote:

Galbraith still says we need a second stimulus package

ARGH!!!! More Keynesian claptrap!

I still think "fluffing" is a better name for these packages-
 

TJ and The Bear:

Cinco-X wrote:

I still think "fluffing" is a better name for these packages-

Yeah, but why can't we be the ones being "fluffed"?

feralpig

...There's an economist who concluded that private universities were mere mechanisms to grow endowments. Similarly, the purpose of government appears to be the enrichment of public employees.

[Nov 19, 2009] Dodd Bernanke Confirmation “Not Necessarily” a Foregone Conclusion

naked capitalism

Kevin de Bruxelles:

In order to analyze this statement from Senator Dodd one must understand the true relationship between the Democratic Party and the working and middle class people of the United States. And to do that one needs to look no further than this recent article about cuckolded fathers in the New York Times:

It was in July 2007 when Mike L. asked the Pennsylvania courts to declare that he was no longer the father of his daughter. For four years, Mike had known that the girl he had rocked to sleep and danced with across the living-room floor was not, as they say, “his.” The revelation from a DNA test was devastating and prompted him to leave his wife — but he had not renounced their child. He continued to feel that in all the ways that mattered, she was still his daughter, and he faithfully paid her child support. It was only when he learned that his ex-wife was about to marry the man who she said actually was the girl’s biological father that Mike flipped. Supporting another man’s child suddenly became unbearable.

Two years after filing the suit that sought to end his paternal rights, Mike is still irate about the fix he’s in. “I pay child support to a biologically intact family,” Mike told me, his voice cracking with incredulity. “A father and mother, married, who live with their own child. And I pay support for that child. How ridiculous is that?”

Substitute the cuckold Mike L. with working and middle class people.

Substitute the unnamed slut wife with the Democrats.

Substitute the real father of the baby with rich bankster studs.

Substitute the bastard baby with Democratic Party policy.

Now with this framework in mind are we really going to take seriously anything that cheating wife (Sen. Dodd) says? Is she throwing our loser asses one more pathetic ray of hope that she is going to change her ways and stop banging the bankster stud?

Are we really going to buy this crap one more time?

Or are we going to get mad as hell and put an end to this shameful charade.

The Rage:

This site just kills me with the psuedo-populism. You really think you are going to get somebody better than Bernanke? Give me a break. I could care less.

nowhereman:

A chimp with a pocket calculator would be better than “didn’t see this coming” Bernanke.

[Nov 19, 2009] Goldman: Flu Fear Spurs Donation! By Rick Ambrose

November 18th, 2009

(Reuters) New York: Having inoculated its employees with H1N1 vaccine dosages usurped from pregnant women and children, Goldman Sachs has increased its vigilance against the contagious virus by banning employee contact with spare change.

An internal memo outlines steps staff should take to avoid becoming ill, starting with the eradication of the potentially infected currency that may have lodged itself under the seats of their automobiles. The hazardous materials are being collected and sent to Small Business for disposal.

The memo also advised employees to “resist the urge to open your own car door ; let your driver do it.”

-Richard Ambrose

Space_Cowboy_NW:

Somehow, the poingant tone of ‘F#ck The Masses’ seems to resonate instep with “Doing God’s Work”.

As always, your mileage may vary……

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often. ” -Mark Twain

bsneath:

While the risk of such an occurence is considered remote, Goldman employees were advised not to perform holiday volunteer work at soup kitchens or other locations frequented by poor people. “We are taking this action to avoid any potential contamination of employees in key profit centers.” Said Lucas Von Pragg, spokesperson for Goldman Sachs. He went on to say, “We feel we can better help these people by continuing our good work at making the markets more efficient for all.”

[Nov 19, 2009] Gramm- Glass Steagall Repeal Irrelevant

That really the dumbest quote of the day. How such guy could get a Ph.D ???

Phil Gramm, the former Republican Senator from Texas who co-wrote the act that undid Glass-Steagall, has our DQotD:>

“I’ve never seen any evidence to substantiate any claim that this current financial crisis had anything to do with Gramm-Leach-Bliley. In fact, you couldn’t have had the assisted takeovers you had. More institutions would have failed.”

Your dumb Quote of the Day is sponsored by Cognitive Dissonance, a Nasdaq Company . . .

[Nov 18, 2009] Economy of Losers

"They are the winners – they are, after all, doing God’s work. Like money missionaries. We don’t hate them for that. How could we? If all those lazy unemployed folk would get off their asses, get accepted to Harvard, graduate, preferably with a law degree, and get a job with God’s chosen company, they too can be winners. See it’s that simple."
The Big Picture

Transor Z:

Yeah, I think that’s it. Goldman is the big winner and everyone else is a bunch of losers. They should go with that.

I can just imagine the PR campaign to go with that. FUCK YOU WORLD — YOU BUNCH OF LOSERS!

Keep pokin’ that tiger, baby.

mknowles:

GOLDMAN CONTINUES-TO-SACK-USA

the beat goes on…

Brendan:

I totally agree, this “social contract” stuff is for wusses. Thieves and scammers are so cool and they should get extra kudos when doing totally unethical things that are technically legal. They’re such winners. People holding up their end of the bargain are losers for being naive enough to actual obey some type of structure for the common good. But Newmark’s got it wrong, GS aren’t true winners yet. The only true winners, anymore, are warlords living in places like sub-Saharan Africa. Why would a true winner live or base their business in such a regulated environment. True winners wipe their asses with contracts: social, verbal or paper ones. Goldman needs to take it to the next level and open up an office in Darfur staffed by gorilla mercenaries. That way they can do whatever they want without things like “laws” and “ethics” getting in the way. On top of that, they really need to stop trading stocks and start trading slaves. What their doing now clearly isn’t selfish enough. Stop being so meek, Goldman; true winners trade actual human lives for a quick buck, not just people’s livelyhoods. I hope someday I can be a winner and profit from misery.

/snark (in case it wasn’t obvious enough!)

olephart:

Evan Newmark, another name for Madame Defarge’s knittings.

vachon:

Blaming the victim is a time honored tradition for the WSJ. You expect less?

[Nov 16, 2009] Ralph Cioffi Acquitted, World Breathes Collective Sigh of Relief by Joshua M Brown

November 10, 2009

Nelson Mandela. Gerry Conlon.  Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Spiritual Leaders, Freedom Fighters and Saints Among Men – all falsely accused, wrongfully imprisoned and later exonerated as justice eventually prevailed.

Today you can add Bear Stearns hedge fund managers Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin to that list,  as the world collectively breathes a sigh of relief.

Detaining these two paragons of virtue for even a second could perhaps be considered the gravest travesty in the history of mankind’s rule of law.  Never before has such a moral trespass been committed against such virginal innocence.

Any reasonable person, upon hearing of the charges levied against Mr Cioffi and Mr Tannin, must conclude that their actions were entirely altruistic and above reproach.

To wit:

[Nov 16, 2009] The New-New Gettysburg Address

Four or five years ago our Investment Bankers helped bring forth on this continent, and around the world, a new banking system, conceived in Leverage, and dedicated to the proposition that all persons working for Investment Banks can create enormous Wealth for themselves with almost no Risk except to Taxpayers.

Now we the Investment Bankers of Goldman Sachs are engaged in a great Scam, testing whether that Nation of Bankers can get paid without Tipping Off the Taxpayers to that Scam.

We have come to cash our checks.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, for we have Houses in the Hamptons requiring upkeep.

But, in a check-clearing sense, we can not Cash Our Checks so long as AIG cannot make good on the credit default swaps we purchased to Hedge our Leverage. Thankfully, the brave men of Goldman who struggled to Attain Positions of Power in Treasury and the White House have consecrated it, far above Barney Frank’s poor power to detract from our AIG Contracts.

The Small Investor will little note, nor long remember, how completely screwed He got, but we the Investment Bank of Goldman Sachs can never forget what they did to provide us this cash. We thank them for the $8 billion Their Government is paying to AIG in order to Make Us Whole.

We here highly resolve that The Little Investor shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under Goldman Sachs, shall have a new birth of Leverage Without Risk—and that government of Goldman, by Goldman, and for Goldman, shall not perish from the earth.

[Nov 16, 2009] Obama Wants Spending Cuts, He Should Start With Military

Bileaf:

clear majorities of Virginia and New Jersey voters said they were worried about the direction of the nation's economy. In both states, Republicans won gubernatorial seats that had been held by Democrats."

Yes! Finally! The Republicans are gaining control!

Now if they can get the Senate, the Congress and the White House, we'll be back on the road to being fiscally responsible...

Wait a minute...weird feeling...oh crap...they were in total control for 6 years and they led us here...dang...oh well...scratch that plan.

VegasBob:

“And exactly what was Bush the Dumber? A pacifist?

HARM:

Yeah, give the polite, well spoken servant for Lord Blankcheck more time. He has at least 3 more years to sell out.

CauseAnd Effect:

Patriot Act as strong as ever and more troops headed to Afcramistan. GS still running the country. Yup, he's all about change.

Pedro the Crossdressing Landscaper:

Time for Obama to resign.

riverside rebel:

You know it's surreal when the one who is waging two wars gets the Nobel Peace prize!

PONCHOVILLA:

There should be a warning sign just outside the Beltway:
INCEST ZONE SLIPPERY WHEN WET OR DRY. This area of the country is the modern day WOODSTOCK with FREE LOVE FREE MONEY AND FREE DRUGS. Just about something for everyone except the religious conservatives or so they say they are.

Unintended consequences? Only to the blind and uniformed.

Ron Paul represents a Texas Cowboy conservative base. That�’s a gun carrying, horse loving, beer and hard liquor drinking boot wearing man with a few $20 gold eagles in his saddlebag and has a �“little woman�” at every pony express stop. �“Best Little Whorehouse in Texas�” anyone? Their idea of a supreme court is justices in white robes and hoods. Expedited justice at the end of a rope. They also are great conspiracy theorists and bemoan the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Wikyourpedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Reserve_System

They also believe the world is run by a secret G7 group of seven powerful rich white guys and want the US back on the gold standard. Many more conspiracy theories here. Ron Paul speaks unadulterated cowboy language. The truth as he knows it and will be re-elected to oblivion even after his death.

Gold is an archaic limited supply form of money. Best use as jewelry (not for cowboys except their little woman) but good for a gold watches, gold teeth and especially gold for $20 gold eagles. Cowboy law requires physical gold as a source of wealth. This is why PONCHOVILLA likes gold.

Today extraction of physical gold from the earth is environmentally dangerous (mercury and cyanide) and consumes massive amounts of energy and wastes volumes of water. Therefore gold will maintain a base line intrinsic value compared to �“paper�” money or digital money backed by �“FOOL FAITH and CREDIT�” of various governments.

Beware of �“FOOLS GOLD�” in digital, paper, rock, or alchemists form unless you have lots of fools lined up outside the saloon. We looked outside the saloon just before we passed out and saw a big crowd.

Pedro the Schizophrenic Landscaper :

LEAVE OBAMA ALONE!!!

Listen, guys....

So, just relax, and TAKE A CHILL-PILL, ALREADY!!! Sheesh, by the way you pantywaists are carrying on, you'd think our once-great empire is on the decline, or something.

Shankopotomus:

Two headlines I expect in early 2010:

1st quarter military spending comes in "better than expected"

Taliban benefits have been extended an additional 14 weeks

[Nov 14, 2009] Paul Krugman: Free to Lose

What should we do about "the terrible employment situation"?:
Free to Lose, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Consider, for a moment, a tale of two countries. Both have suffered a severe recession and lost jobs as a result — but not on the same scale. In Country A, employment has fallen more than 5 percent, and the unemployment rate has more than doubled. In Country B, employment has fallen only half a percent, and unemployment is only slightly higher than it was before the crisis.
Don’t you think Country A might have something to learn from Country B?
This story isn’t hypothetical. Country A is the United States, where stocks are up, G.D.P. is rising, but the terrible employment situation just keeps getting worse. Country B is Germany, which took a hit to its G.D.P. when world trade collapsed, but has been remarkably successful at avoiding mass job losses. Germany’s jobs miracle ... raises serious questions about whether the U.S. government is doing the right things to fight unemployment.
Here in America,... we don’t really have a jobs policy: we have a G.D.P. policy. The theory is that by stimulating overall spending we can make G.D.P. grow faster, and this will induce companies to stop firing and resume hiring.
The alternative would be policies that address the job issue more directly. We could, for example, have New-Deal-style employment programs. Perhaps such a thing is politically impossible now ... but we should note, for the record, that at their peak, the W.P.A. and the Civilian Conservation Corps employed millions of Americans, at relatively low cost to the budget.
Alternatively, or in addition, we could have policies that support private-sector employment. Such policies could range from labor rules that discourage firing to financial incentives for companies that either add workers or reduce hours to avoid layoffs.
And that’s what the Germans have done. Germany came into the Great Recession with strong employment protection legislation. This has been supplemented with a “short-time work scheme,” which provides subsidies to employers who reduce workers’ hours rather than laying them off. These measures didn’t prevent a nasty recession, but Germany got through the recession with remarkably few job losses.
Should America be trying anything along these lines..., if only as a stopgap?
Now, the usual objection to European-style employment policies is that they’re bad for long-run growth... And in normal times there’s something to be said for American-style “free to lose” labor markets, in which employers can fire workers at will but also face few barriers to new hiring.
But these aren’t normal times. Right now, workers who lose their jobs aren’t moving to the jobs of the future; they’re entering the ranks of the unemployed and staying there. Long-term unemployment is already at its highest levels since the 1930s, and it’s still on the rise.
And long-term unemployment inflicts long-term damage. Workers who have been out of a job for too long often find it hard to get back into the labor market even when conditions improve. And there are hidden costs, too — not least for children, who suffer physically and emotionally when their parents spend months or years unemployed.
So it’s time to try something different. ... Should we introduce an employment tax credit, like the one proposed by the Economic Policy Institute? Should we introduce the German-style job-sharing subsidy proposed by the Center for Economic Policy Research? Both are worthy of consideration.
The point is that we need to start doing something more than, and different from, what we’re already doing. And the experience of other countries suggests that it’s time for a policy that explicitly and directly targets job creation.

Selected Comments

gordon:

Well, at least Prof. Krugman isn't advocating a bigger military. That's a relief.

I have now lost count of the number of times I have linked to the Economic Policy Institute's Agenda For Shared Prosperity. Is it possible to wear out a memory location by accessing it too often?

http://www.sharedprosperity.org/

I keep on posting this link because the Agenda seems to be a significant proposal which addresses a lot of the concerns of contemporary Americans, but which for some reason seems to be forgotten. I'm not aware that it ever received much (any) serious discussion. So here I go again, linking to it (twice in one comment!)

http://www.sharedprosperity.org/

b:

Germany has a number of measures in place that delay unemployment as a consequence of recession (such as forced reduction of work hours etc.). That works well for short recessions, but the ultimate verdict on this one is out as Germany either haqs to extend this scheme, or suffer the unemployment impact with a delay.

If, courtesy Obama and the Paulson/Summers/Rubin "school" of stagnatist reactionism, unemployment will be systemically higher for a decade or more, new arrangements will have to be found, whatever abstract priorities Summers might imagine on his cloud up there. Germany might be closer to a solution, but no more likely to actually follow through - the latest I heard was increasing work hours per week per job (no more 30/35 hour week).

If you have mass unemployment to maximize some arbitrary "output" (how much shit comes out at the end), and just abandon those that lost out in the competition for jobs, then, even if you manage to sell all that "output" to another country where "consumers" can still afford to "consume", your beautiful production peristaltics might find itself choking on domestic unrest. That's Germany between the wars.

[Nov 14, 2009] State Budget Quote of the Day, and more Bank Failure Preview

On the Verge of Self Mutilation:

 Arnold could save us if he stopped being such a damn suit.

Annex Baja. Trade for Catalina if necessary.

Give everything east of the I-5 to Arizona and Nevada.

Build a desalination plant.
Legalize prostitution.
Legalize Marijuana.
Legalize gay marriage.

We'd still be broke, but at least we'd be having a great time.

Welcome to the Land of Fruits and Nuts: Sustainable Ass, Grass, and Sass for the 21st Century.

NOTaREALmerican:

On the Verge of Self Mutilation wrote:

Arnold could save us if he stopped being such a damn suit.

He could save us if he'd just stop pretending he's not the Terminator. I can't figure out what he's waiting for.

[Nov 13, 2009] Résumé Tips For CEOs, Board Members

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

Appropriate Cover Letters

CEO and board seekers have had it so easy over the past 10 years they forgot the necessary skill of writing appropriate cover letters. Moreover those cover letters need to be tailored for the exact position being sought.

For example, "Tin Hat", a poster on this very blog, listed a sample cover letter for someone seeking that AIG position, should it open up:

Dear AIG,

I am highly qualified for the position of AIG Chief Executive given that I possess all the skills necessary to lay waste of what's left of AIG.

I have no conscience, guilt or remorse. I am able to extort money from taxpayers and Congress by convincing them I do God's work. I am very skilled at making numbers fuzzier, covering up losses and generating bonuses so large even a blank check would blush. I have no concern for leverage, torch bearing mobs, Congress or President Obama.

I'm convinced that together, we can squeeze the middle class so successfully, they would be envious of the Haitian life style. I am looking forward to discussing this personally profitable opportunity with you soon.

Sincerely

AIG Candidate
Clearly that is an extremely powerful cover letter. It is tailored specifically to AIG and lists all the skills required to run any large financial corporation these days.

The only thing lacking is a connection to Goldman Sachs or Tim Geithner. That could be a problem. Otherwise it is perfect. Also note how easy that sample cover letter would be to modify. A few simple changes and the cover letter would be entirely suitable for would be seekers of CEO or board member at Bank of America.

"Tin Hat" and I are both proud to do our part to help out in these trying times. Would be CEOs, all you need to do on your part is to get your cover letters in order.

Let's get America hiring again, the right talent for the right job. It all starts with an appropriate cover letter attached to your résumé.

[Nov 13, 2009] God's Work and Goldman's Prayer

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

Given that Goldman is doing "God's work" and that CEO Lloyd Blankfein is arguably "god on earth", it is fitting for there to be a prayer in his honor.

Tonight I received a prayer in the email dedicated to Lloyd. Unfortunately I do not know the origin, so I do not know who to credit. I also modified a few sentences that I did not think fit very well and added sentences where they were missing.

My Version of "Lloyd's Prayer"

Our chairman who art at Goldman
Blankfein be thy name
Thy rally’s come, God’s work be done
In the Dow as it is in the Nasdaq
Give us this day our daily gain
And forgive us our frontruning, as we punish those who frontrun against us
And bring us not under indictment
But deliver us from regulators
For thine is the cashflow, and the power, and the bonuses, forever and ever.

Amen

... ... ...

Addendum:

"Black Swan" Comments:

When I went to elementary school, we started each day with the Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Since the LLoyd's Prayer has already been covered, why not cover the Pledge of Subservience?

Pledge of Subservience

I pledge Allegiance to the Fed
of the United States of America
and to the corruption for which it stands,
one nation under Goldman, easily divisible,
with criminal acts against all.

[Nov 12, 2009] The LLOYD’s Prayer By Barry Ritholtz

He’s doing god’s work. He failed to mention that the god was Mammon. "And Bring Us Not Under Indictment." ;-)
November 12th, 2009 | The Big Picture

via Bill King, we get  this modest variation of The Lord’s Prayer:>

THE LLOYD’s Prayer

Our Chairman,
Who Art At Goldman,
Blankfein Be Thy Name.
The Rally’s Come. God’s Work Be Done
On Earth As There’s No Fear Of Correction.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Gains,
And Bankrupt Our Competitors
As You Taught Lehman and Bear Their Lessons.
And Bring Us Not Under Indictment.
For Thine Is The Treasury,
The House And The Senate
Forever and Ever.
Goldman.

Hat tip Scott F.

Transor Z :

Mammon’s relatively benevolent compared to the diety he probably had in mind.

capt dave:

Another GS prayer at Zero Hedge comments (HT Jupiter):

The FED is my shepherd; I shall not want.

It maketh me to lie down in green shootsdom: it leadeth me beside the still Lehman.

It restoreth my credit: it leadeth me down the paths of leverage for its name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of debt, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy TARP and thy TALF they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my balance sheet with digits; my bonuses runneth over.

Surely profits and influence shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the FED for ever.

[Nov 11, 2009] A comprehensive solution to combustible markets -  by Barney Frank

The Boston Globe

BenWhite:

Barney Frank redefines Chutzpah. The arsonist first on the scene blaming the fire department.

brighton346

This is like the captain of the Titanic, who escapes the sinking by dressing up in women's clothes to get onto the lifeboat, demanding to be named Secretary of the Navy.

[Nov 10, 2009] Larry Summers to 15 million unemployed Americans, "Go fuck yourselves."

EconoSpeak

Translation:

"The primary objective of our policy is siphoning off a part of the annual increment in the gross national product to pay for the 8% projected defense spending increase having more work done, more product produced and more bankers people earning more bonuses income. It may be desirable for the unemployed to have a given amount of work shared among more people. But screw them. But that's not as desirable to Goldman-Sachs as expanding the total amount of slave labor, waste and profiteering work."

[Nov 10, 2009] "Kill all the bankers" iPhone app

Gameloft's new topical castle defense game ;-)
rayme4raw

Finally a real enemy and not the make believe terrorists that congress uses to promote a policy of never ending war.

[Nov 10, 2009] Bailout Wars by Gameloft

"Bonuses at financial firms worldwide will increase by an average of 40% this year, according to an annual report released Monday. " - CNN

Its time to take your own measures against the recession! Make the bankers take responsibility for causing it!

dunno199:

I love gameloft's sense of humor. So glad I subscribed!

[Nov 10, 2009] Dr.Mishkin or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bubble

Former Fed governor Fred Mishkin distinguishes between bad bubbles, that hurt banks, and good bubbles like the tech bubble, that just hurt investors and distort the economy.

Is the Fed creating a bubble in equities now? Probably.

Do they care, are they concerned? No, not according to ex Fed governor Fred Mishkin.

... .Here is why Fred Mishkin has learned to stop worrying and love irrational exuberance fueled by reckless monetary expansion and financial engineering.

[Nov 10, 2009] NY Governor- "Unprecedented financial challenge"

Nemo:

 And that is why we need Wall Street bankers to receive record bonuses this year.

SNAFU:

IBGYBG , heard that on a PBS show this past week. Most managers I have worked with/for at all levels , for the last 20 years, in corporations of all sizes, make decisions based on the IBGYBG assumption. Its not the corporation, not even the division; its the managers immediate gains based on IBGYBG principle. 'Y' usually meant his/her immediate boss.

[Nov 9, 2009] More on Goldman mission from God: small help to Lloyd Blankfein in formulating the doctine

November 9, 2009 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Jill Barraclough:

... ... ...

Capitalism : The New God

Trinity:

  1. Individual Satisfaction – Father
  2. Exploitation – Son
  3. Purchasing power – Holy Spirit

10 Commandments

  1. I will make sure I maximise my profits at the cost of everything else
  2. Individual satisfaction must be 100% satisified even if it means I cheat on my marriage, destroy my childrens lives and end up divorced
  3. Exploit whoever you can for whatever you can, its survival of the fittest
  4. You are what you can afford
  5. Love thy cheap goods even if you don’t know they came from a child sweat shop
  6. Thou shall not worship false Gods: socialism, communism, et al
  7. Thou shall be faithful and not lie with another man’s wife unless our wife failed to deliver for a few days or I see someone else I want in the street round the corner, like the latest purchase from that tv store down the road I just had to have as it was 50 inches wide not 45 like the one I have already.
  8. Individual success and power are everything crush all enemies that stand in your way.
  9. Avoid giving money to charity it is rescuing and people should be responsible for their own problems even if they are not self inflicted or were originally caused by our neoliberal economic and political policies.
  10. Lend support to wars and support dictators if there is cheap oil or cheap access to valuable resources to be gained as our country has to be the most wealthy and powerful.

New Testament Most Important of all these Commands not love thy neighbour :

Love myself and everyone else can have the breadcrumbs that fall from my table

12 Disciples – Enablers, Message Delivery Systems, Promoters

* World Bank & IMF
* Companies that exploit developing nation producers with low and unfair prices
* Advertisements that promote materialism with irresponsible marketing messages
* Pride
* Greed
* Ego
* Vanity
* Banks that don’t support and help small businesses, yet provide huge overdraft facilities to big organizations who really do not need that support .
* Lenders who throw credit cards at people that they can’t afford to have or use
* Banks that wont lend to people who actually need the money and provide the financial support they are supposed to so these people turn to loan sharks and charge huge profitable fees for bounced Direct Debits and unauthorized overdrafts.
* Politicians with delusions of grandeur that want to control the world
* Judas Iscariot – Enlightened individuals that try to inform people (whistleblowers)

The Evil One

Devil – Socialism and anything resembling socialist systems

Lord’s Prayer

Our Individual Satisfaction

That art all over the world

Hallowed be thy buy one get one free

Thy autumn sales come, Thy supreme shopping experience be done

On earth as it is in the stores

Forgive us for missing the winter sales and we will forgive the stores for closing on Sundays

Give this day our daily buying

Lead us into cheating, sleeping around and not looking after our children

Let us not be tempted to really care about other people

Deliver us from socialism

For thine be the kingdom, the power and the glory, for as long as we practice this awful economic concept

Amen

Note: writers note this is a criticism of capitalism in an attempt to make a few points and is no way shape or form supposed to represent the real bible and the Word of God within it.

Copyright @ Jill Barraclough 2009 Please feel free to circulate this article with the copyright notice, authors name, contact details and Note above included. Writer can be contacted @ loventruth@hotmail.com , or jillb@jillb.me, or website is http://www.jillb.me.

[Nov 8, 2009] Goldman on a mission from God by James Dlugosch

Alert the atheists; there's a Supreme Court case brewing here.?

Word that investment bank and beacon of the global financial system, Goldman Sachs (GS)  thinks it's doing God's work may mean that billions loaned previously under the government rescue program may have violated the constitutional requirement of separation between church and state.

I don’t know about you, but I for one am a bit concerned that my taxpayer dollars were used to support Goldman chief Lloyd Blankfein’s mission from God. Perhaps an enterprising Justice Department lawyer can pursue this angle in hopes of securing billions in settlement money.

[Nov 8, 2009] Liz Pulliam Weston - Fight the financial-industry thugs - MSN Money

Lloyd Blankfein as an equivalent of sex offender ;-). That a step up in criminal hierarchy from compulsive gambler he used to be...
chirpy

Isn't the government regulating the banks the same as the fox guarding the hen house?

RGMartin

The unrestrained pursuit of riches is just another symptom of an obsessive compulsive disorder, no worse or no better than alcoholism, drug abuse, and sex offenses.

[Nov 8, 2009] Saturday Night Live - Really with Seth and Amy! - Video - NBC.com

Orwell flashback: No doubt that goldmanites  are as close to a special breed of gambling swines as one can get, but it's still it is unclear why they need swine flue vaccine before pregnant woman, nurses and doctors in hospitals ? Just because "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal then others?" 

 

[Nov 8, 2009] “Free Market” Capitalism Gets Thumbs Down in 27 Countries, Including US

The Unbearable Lightness of Being an economist says:

Soon will be the anniversary of famous Bush’s statement:

“I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system,”(US President George W. Bush told CNN television on December 16th) saying he had made the decision “to make sure the economy doesn’t collapse.”

It was my preferred quote of 2008, whatever it means…

http://mgiannini.blogspot.com/2008/12/quote-of-year-2008-end-of-capitalism.html
 

MyLessThanPrimeBeef:

I once polling people just for fun.

To the question, ‘Are you an idiot?’ I found;

55% said yes
30% no
15% not sure

To the question, ‘Did you ever lie to a pollster?’ I found

55% yes
30% no
15% not sure

To the question, ‘Do you understand what I am saying now?’

55% yes
30% no
15% not sure

To me, the most remarkable thing about the whole exercise is that consistency of the results.

[Nov 8, 2009] First American CoreLogic Economist Decline in Distressed Inventory a Mirage Hoocoodanode

Rob Dawg:

mi·rage (m2-räzhZ)
n.

A statistical phenomenon that creates the illusion of hope, often with inverted reflections indicating a far distant recovery, and results from distortion of markets by alternate layers of hot and cool government policies.

[Nov 8, 2009] Putting the MERS Controversies in Perspective

lawyerliz:

The best and brightest used to do exotic math, or worry about string theory, or add weird chemicals together or look for the vanishing yeti, or dig holes in the ground and analyze pottery. None of this required too much in the way of an intuitive understanding of what motivates people.

People who work for banks need to understand people, bless their greedy little hearts.

Nanoo-Nanoo:

BUT Liz, banker got to be rock stars and worshiped by minions via CNBS! How dare we question their kewlness and all powerful knowledge. Schmucks like me couldn't possibly understand how hard they work for their tens of millions in bonuses every year or how important they are to my life.

Lobbyist Ben Dover:

josap,

Many wonder why the rich get rich and the poor stay poor. The world of wannabees grows.

lawyerliz:

 True, mof. But I actually don't do much. I throw my wrench into the monkeyworks and nothing happens for a year, year and a half.

Except sometimes I get a pleading that asks for more time for answering the discovery. Sure, I say. Take all the time you want. Take years. I've never gotten any discovery back, don't know that I ever will.

ResistanceIsFeudal:

Hey, careful now, high-tech shell games are one of our only remaining growth industries!

barfly:

 We do live in a Caveat Emptor society.

"Gotcha" capitalism

[Nov 8, 2009] Quelle Surprise! Banks Overestimating Their Health « naked capitalism

  • Jojo:

    No need to expend resources trying to be accurate; better to enjoy a long lunch…

    skippy:

    ...what better way to keep rates where they are than than to tell China: “Hey guys, you bust one auction, and this spring loaded balloon full of $420 trillion pieces of worthless Washington feces will blow up right in your face (and take us all down with you).” In essence this is an amusing revision of that old fable: the Fed owes the world a few billion here and there: well, Ben, you are out of luck, “You’re Fired”; the Fed owes the world $1.4 quadrillion in naked and worthless pieces of paper (whose nudity will become apparent the second someone calls Bernanke’s bluff) and the Fed owns the world.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/here-there-be-big-nymbers-sic

    Skippy…death by zeros…who would have thunkit!

    [Nov 8, 2009] Kid Dynamite's World A Sit Down With Senior Treasury Officials - Part II

    BullandBearWise:

    Given the choice between food lines like the Great Depression and a Lost Decade like Japan, which would a policy maker choose?

    [Nov 7, 2009] Wall Street Dumb as It Ever Was by Todd Kenyon

    Seeking Alpha

    Being trained as a scientist in a former life just makes it harder to watch this garbage. Yesterday afternoon some random NYSE floor monkey, CNBC's "expert of the moment", expounded that if the unemployment rate came in at 9.9%, the market was going to the moon, Alice. But (God forbid) if the rate was 10%, we're all doomed. At which point my left eyeball began twitching followed by my Bond-trader office mate and I embarking on a 30 minute session of throwing things (Literally and figuratively) at the TV.

    [Nov 7, 2009] About CIT And Sardines

    Nov 2, 2009 | Sudden Debt

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: a company that bases its valuation, indeed its entire business, on the Trading Sardine principle (see below) should be judged not by analysts but by fishmongers. Better yet, by their wives..
    ____________________________________

    The Trading Sardine

    Andy convinces Billy to buy a can of sardines at a high price by telling him how wonderful they taste. Billy, being greedy, decides to resell them to Charlie for a profit at an even higher price by convincing him, too, about how great these sardines are. The process is repeated several times until the last buyer, let’s call him Zebediah, pays a million bucks to Yorick for a can of the “world’s absolute best sardines – EVER”.

    Well, Zebediah decides to open the can and eat the sardines, only to discover they are ordinary, plain sardines. Furious at being swindled, he yells at Yorick: “You crook! You liar! I paid you a million bucks for plain ordinary sardines. They were not the greatest tasting sardines - EVER”, yells Zeb.

    Yorick shrugs and replies…

    “Hey Zebediah, you are such a schmuck. Those were not eating sardines – them were trading sardines!"

    [Nov 7, 2009] Invisible helicopters in action

    Looks like the FDIC is issuing US Government debt not constrained by the government's debt ceiling. Nice...
    ft.com

    Q: What’s not a government bond or cash but has a zero-per cent risk capital weighting?
    A: A bond sold as part of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program.

    [Nov 7, 2009] The Galley Slaves Aren’t Feeling It

    "It seems that money had been showered down like manna from heaven (this was before helicopters)."This is just a shameless attempt of a freer hand to avoid responsibility and correct marking of assets.

    The Big Picture

    “THE RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL SHIPS, but the galley slaves aren’t feeling it. They’re rowing harder than ever to make up for their colleagues who have been thrown overboard (getting rid of that extra weight improves the vessel’s efficiency).

    Now, after a long spate in the doldrums, the captain has called for those still manning the oars to pick up the pace to move some cargoes, which had been notably scarce for well on a year and a half. It seems that money had been showered down like manna from heaven (this was before helicopters). That it came from a printing press or by pledging the credit of the land mattered little. Some of the money was spent, which, in turn, brought forth new orders of goods, since the storehouses had been emptied. And thus the need for the slaves to pick up their pace.

    It has all put dough in the pouches of the owners and the captain of the ship, but there isn’t much for the slaves. And, no surprise, that’s caused some grumbling below. Not that there’s much the galley slaves can do about it, lest they become the next to get tossed overboard.

    [Nov 7, 2009] A Reader Asks "How Did 558,000 People Lose Their Jobs When Only 190,000 Jobs Were Lost-"

    [obamastinkinbadges.JPG]

    [Nov 6, 2009] Quote Of The Day..... The Defaults Are Worth It

    immobilienblasen

    ....."the Phony Mae & Fraudie Mac pain wasn´t enough......."

    [Nov 5, 2009] On Invoking God to Defend Mammon « #comments#comments

    "For GS god is just another derivative product. "
    naked capitalism

    “The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest…”

    Classic. If this wasn’t offered in self-parody, they’re not half as clever as they think. If there’s any justice in this life — and I believe there is — something important out there understands just how funny this statement really is.

    craazyman:

    I hath appointed Goldman Sachs as master of my dominion, and ye have been appointed as slaves and servants, to be trodden under the heal and destroyed utterly, unto your last days. Hear, children, the voices of your masters and obey, for my wrath is fierce and my judgment is swift, and there be no mercy for those with hearts hardened against the will of the Lord.

    -Bloviations, Book 5, verses 8-9

    fresn dan:

    “Barclays Plc Chief Executive Officer John Varley stood at the wooden lectern in St. Martin-in-the- Fields on London’s Trafalgar Square last night and told the packed pews of the church that “profit is not satanic.””

    I want the bankers burned at the stake not because of “obscene” or “satanic” or “greedy” profits, but because there are NO PROFITS. I might settle for them spending the rest of their lives in poverty, if it were not for the fact that I am bailing them out.

    i on the ball patriot:

    ...For GS god is just another derivative product. Take anything of considered value — in this case man’s legitimate search for understanding and meaning — co-opt it, slice it, dice it, pervert it, and resell it it to scam the masses.

    [Nov 5, 2009] Trouble Ahead Can the Right Seize the Banking Reform Issue in 2010 « naked capitalism

    Obama presidency giving the word underachieving new meaning... BHO, a Party Animal if every there was one given his non-resume

    The Big Money is a whore with two naked tits and the Republicons suck on one, the Demagogues on the other.

    Fred:

    So, the “We” look to Elliott Spitzer for guidance? Maybe he has some dating advice for you, too.

    Observer:

    If it is as good as the political advice he is giving here, we should take it!

    bj:

    “The GOP/Tea Party movement will very likely pick up the ball (breaking up the big banks) and run with it.”

    Maybe, but I doubt it. The right is working on its purity, so expect tax cuts as their solution (again).

    Doug Terpstra:

    The Obama administration’s continuing fumble of this crisis and healthcare refrom is baffling and maddening. And yes, the Democrats would surely be toast in 2010 and 2012, except for one thing: Republicans have gone certifiably insane, cuckoo, looney….

    It’s all just too strange. It may well be a brilliant bit of collusive theater in the end, to keep us all confused and conflicted.

    [Nov 4, 2009] Janet Tavakoli on Financial Meth Labs

    Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

    Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) were overrated and overpriced the minute they came to market. If that wasn’t enough, investment banks were creating these things in their financial meth labs , knowingly selling things they knew or should have known were overrated and overpriced.

    [Nov 3, 2009] Goldman Sachs exotic housing bet; was it illegal ?

    zero hedge

    DaddyWarbucks:

    I'm thinking RICO where you just round up the whole group and don't worry about individual details. I heard GITMO is available.

    [Nov 3, 2009] Why Keep Geithner ?

    The Big Picture

    A year ago it was revealed to the American people that our banking system was a legalized Ponzi scheme in which bank and insurance CEOs paid themselves billions of dollars in personal compensation to lend and insure assets with money they didn’t have to customers who couldn’t pay back the loans.

    [Nov 3, 2009] The top 12 signs the economy is bad - BloggingStocks

    The Top 12 Signs the Economy Is Bad

    12. CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

    11. I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

    10. I went to buy a toaster oven and they gave me a bank.

    9. Hotwheels and Matchbox car companies are now trading higher than GM in the stock market.

    8. Obama met with small businesses GE, Pfizer, Chrysler, Citigroup, and GM to discuss the Stimulus Package.

    7. McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

    6. People in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and are learning their children's names.

    5. The most highly-paid job is now jury duty.

    4. People in Africa are donating money to Americans. Mothers in Ethiopia are telling their kids, "finish your plate; do you know how many kids are starving in America?"

    3. Motel Six won't leave the lights on.

    2. The mafia is laying off judges.

    1. If the bank returns your check marked as "insufficient funds," you have to call them and ask if they meant you or them.

    [Nov 3, 2009] Top Ten Signs it’s a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Market Day

    Blast from the past
    September 22, 2008 | The Market Guy

    When I was a child, one of my favourite books was “Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. Originally published in 1972, the story involves a young boy named Alexander, who is experiencing a heavy dose of Murphy’s Law. Simply, he survives a day in which absolutely everything goes wrong. For example, he wakes up with gum in his hair, trips on his skateboard, and drops his sweater in the sink. His brothers find cool toys in their breakfast cereal, while he finds only breakfast cereal. At school during a counting exercise, he leaves out 16. At lunch, he discovers that his mother has neglected to pack dessert. Shortly thereafter, he has a dental appointment and learns that he has a cavity; then he falls in some mud. Alexander proceeds to spill ink all over the place, miss out on the shoes he wants, and start a fight. As if these weren’t enough, Alexander’s bath was too hot and he loses his marbles down the drain. To cap off the day, he’s forced to wear the dreaded railroad-train pajamas, his pillow is missing, and his night-light burns out. With each indignity, Alexander wondered if life would be better in Australia. However, while lying in his bed, Alexander notes the following: “It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.”

    Over the past several weeks, most investors have experienced these terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, as market indices have plunged and commodity prices have collapsed. I have to admit that I find such days to be quite exciting. I’ve always been interested in crisis and my career is littered with attempts to understand how people react when the shit hits the fan. For example, my first conference presentation involved examining media accounts of the 1987 stock market crash. In another project, I looked at the influence of personality and cognitive variables in explaining how people respond to declines in their portfolios. Before becoming a faculty member, I worked at a 24-hour crisis hotline and trained their counselors how to respond to those who were suicidal and in crisis. You get the idea. I’m endlessly fascinated by terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

    In terms of the market, I believe such corrections are healthy and necessary. They present an opportunity to remove speculative excess, bring valuations down to more reasonable levels, and often present a wonderful buying opportunity. I try to make the best of such days, even if my portfolio takes a bit of a hit. So as a public service (coupled with my need to drive this into the ground), I now present the top ten signs that you’re in the middle of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad market day. Remember, I’m not just talking about bad markets days; they also have to be terrible, horrible, and no good…just trying to be clear. Now, on to the signs:

    1. Central bank officials and politicians can be heard to utter the meaningless phrase, “the fundamentals of the economy are sound.” The judges will also accept “the economy is fundamentally sound.” I also really enjoy, “we’re monitoring the situation closely.” In other words, “this is bad, we have no idea what’s happening, and we have no idea what to do. When we decide how to proceed, we’ll probably overreact. Please don’t ask any more questions. Thank you.”

    Quote of the week #1, from The Comedy Network’s Stephen Colbert: “The fundamentals of our economy are strong. We still exchange currency. We haven’t reverted to a barter system. Although I believe Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch for 2 goats and a bushel of oranges.”

    Quote of the week #2, courtesy of PM Stephen Harper: “If a crash were coming, it would have already happened.” This logic would have caused Mr. Spock to cry like an infant before experiencing an aneurysm. Harper is the same man who recently promised tax incentives for new homebuyers. So the financial crisis began by making it too easy for people to obtain houses. How do we solve the problem? By making it easier for people to obtain houses. Got it. As Mark Twain suggested, “If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?”

    2. Everything is going down and I mean everything. The stock screens are a sea of red and have me thinking of that scene in The Shining when the elevators at the Overlook Hotel are spewing blood. Did I just write that? Let’s move on. The most fascinating days involve complete, total, unreserved capitulation. Stocks are blowing through their 52-week lows and are doing so with extreme vigor. It’s like the Terminator: It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be bargained with, and it absolutely will not stop. Even the most bullish of analysts and market watchers are suddenly recommending that everyone stay on the sidelines until the dust settles. With apologies to Norm Peterson of Cheers, it’s a dog-eat-dog market and you’re wearing Milk Bone underwear. If you’re keeping score, this makes three 80s references in one paragraph. As an investor, the day will see you exhibiting a variety of bizarre behaviours, which include but are not limited to the following:

    3. High trading volumes. It has to be difficult to get on to your brokers website or achieve access by phone. We may even hear about technical glitches and that some systems are having trouble keeping up with the activity. And since I have nothing else to add, did I mention that we’re headed to New York and will be touring the Federal Reserve Bank? Market Gal is thrilled (he noted sarcastically). Thankfully we also have tickets to a Broadway show and Letterman, so that should keep the peace.

    4. People you know who usually aren’t interested in the markets start talking with you about the markets. This happens with people at work, buddies on MSN, in emails, etc. For example, the other day, my buddy Ozner in Nepean mentioned the failing of Lehman Brothers. Twenty-four hours before, he wouldn’t have known a Lehman from a Lohan. Friends and family who are interested in the markets call as well, only they call earlier in the day. For me, it’s Bouch in Embrun, Lloyd and Pat in Ottawa, and of course, Market Dad. The phone call usually begins with “geez” or “wow” or something to that effect. Next up is an accounting of how the portfolio is doing and an identification of which stocks are faring the worst. Misery loves company.

    5. The newspapers and business web pages are littered with photos of exhausted traders, concerned investors, and gawkers congregating outside the offices of failing firms. The Friday edition of BNNs Squeeze Play included Andrew Bell and Kim Parlee interviewing traders at a downtown Toronto watering hole. The patrons looked as though they’d just finished a 5-day enema.

    6. The story of the markets migrates from the business pages to the front pages. It’s the lead story and we are treated to headlines such as “Markets Collapse,” which the editors present in a really big font. You know it’s a really big deal when they bring out the really big fonts. I also appreciate the words “contagion” and “panic” making their inevitable appearance. The Globe and Mail recently offered, “A Day of Reckoning,” which I thought was a nice touch.

    My favourite part of the coverage involves placing the day in historical context. For example, “this represents the largest decline in index A since date B.” In order to qualify as a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day, it has to be the worst day in several years. Saying it’s the worst trading day since March doesn’t cut it (unless that day was terrible and horrible)….we have to be making history. We’ve been hearing a lot about American stocks being wiped out. However, did you know that Nortel recently had its worst trading day in 28 years? That’s what I’m talking about. Incidentally, Nortel is trading under $3 and this includes a fairly recent 10-for1 stock consolidation. In other words, if they hadn’t consolidated the stock, it would be trading under 30 cents. Let us mourn the money that has been destroyed.

    7. Business television behaves like a dog with a bone. There’s one story and one story only: The market collapse. Networks often dispense with goofy programming features because the day is all about chronicling the crisis. Each guest is there to talk about the market action and each moment brings us wonderful quotes such as this offering from BNN anchor Pat Bolland: “This is a sick market.” Regular programming seems more important than usual and the day is littered with “special editions.” For example, “today on BNN, it’s a special edition of Squeeze Play.” This reminds me of watching TV during my childhood…”this week, on a very special edition of Family Ties, Steven, Elise and the kids rally around Uncle Ned who is coming to terms with alcoholism. Tom Hanks guest stars.”

    8. At some point during the day, we are reminded of the losses that could trigger a halt in trading or a, gulp, market close. This is a tough nut to crack, as it takes a 10% decline in the Dow Jones Industrials to initiate a 30-minute to one-hour halt at the NYSE.  A 20% decline prompts a 1-2 hour halt, but if the decline is witnessed after 2pm, the whole place shuts down. A 30% decline closes the market for the day, irrespective of timing. Incidentally, the Russians shut down their exchange three times in the past week (twice for going too low, and once for going too high…perhaps one day it will be just right).

    9. The business press starts interviewing the older brokers. Specifically, they are looking for brokers and analysts who traded through the ’87 crash. These archetypal wise old men are simply the best. They’ve seen it all, lived through some rough times, and always have great stories. Such figures provide a calming presence, and their reassuring voices remind us that, given time, the markets rebound. You can’t get this from a 22-year old just out of business school.

    10. The attributional search runs into overdrive. When positive things happen in life, we tend not to reflect on what might have led to the good times. However, during bad times, we typically initiate what’s called the attributional search. That is, we attempt to determine the causal factors that led to the event. Basically, we’re asking “why did this happen?” The process is intensified if the event is unexpected. During a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad market day, we often hear that retail investors are driving the panic and that the smart money is staying put or being put in play. The last few days have elevated corporate greed, ignorance, and a lack of regulation to the top of the list of suggested causal factors (John McCain mentioned all three the other day). Given that we’re in the middle of a North American election bonanza, expect the list to grow. I’m still waiting for the religious right to somehow blame lesbianism.

    In a related vein, it never ceases to amaze how many market participants claim they saw it coming and took measures to protect their assets. Sure, their top picks on BNN’s Market Call are down 72%, but they claim to have made it out just fine. Sure thing, guys.

    So how am I positioning myself to deal with these volatile times? To be honest, I’m doing very little. Sure, my financial and international plays have been on a wild ride. But with a focus on high-quality, dividend-growing value stocks, my portfolio has been less volatile than the indices. So far I’m down 4% on the year and this compares very favourably to the TSX, S&P 500 and the Dow. Let’s just say I’m certainly not losing any sleep over it. Besides, it’s the down markets when my approach really earns its keep. I’m less interested in selecting big winners and more interested in avoiding big losers. There’s a huge difference. Meanwhile, my watch list is long and although the names are getting cheaper by the day I’m still not inclined to put a significant amount of money to work. And for the record, Friday’s 7% advance on the TSX feels about as shaky as Stephane Dion.

    The past few days have been adventurous, but I can’t help but think we have more terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days in the near future. And as these days continue to come along, I expect to be a buyer. As Warren Buffett noted, “We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.”

    The Market Guy is an Instructor with the Department of Psychology at Carleton University. He’s not a professional advisor. He’s just a guy who loves investing and talking about the markets…so do your homework before making any investment decisions. Basing any financial decision on his column would be really, really stupid and would demonstrate that you need therapy (he teaches psych, so he’d know). In addition to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Spamalot at the Shubert, and Letterman, he’ll also be holding a pilgrimage to Wall Street. He may need to be sedated. Get high on life over at mail@marketguy.ca

    [Nov 2, 2009] Roubini Predicts “Mother of All Carry Trade Unwinds”

    naked capitalism

    i on the ball patriot:

     The Bubble Clowns

    Forgive them father,
    For they know not what they do,
    The fed and the policy makers,
    Are such an ignorant crew,

    They have no knowledge,
    Of how to blow bubbles,
    To intentionally create,
    Geopolitical troubles,

    They are unaware,
    Of global consumption,
    And could not control it,
    At least that’s the assumption,

    But bubbles can take you up,
    And bubbles can take you down,
    They can fund sustainable growth,
    Or they can make consumption drown,

    And the bubble machine is never blind,
    Especially when controlled by deception,
    The monster bubbles will only end,
    When the marks increase their perception …

    [Nov 2, 2009] Economist's View The Growing Case for a Jobless Recovery

    Nice term "jobless recovery". Which suggests the question: "Recovery for whom ?"  "Jobless recovery" is code for "period of rapidly increasing inequality".
    anne:

    http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/c/carroll/lewis/looking/chapter6.html

    1872

    Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There
    By Lewis Carroll

    Humpty Dumpty

    Humpty Dumpty took the book, and looked at it carefully. 'That seems to be done right—' he began.

    'You're holding it upside down!' Alice interrupted.

    'To be sure I was!' Humpty Dumpty said gaily, as she turned it round for him. 'I thought it looked a little queer. As I was saying, that seems to be done right—though I haven't time to look it over thoroughly just now—and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents—'

    'Certainly,' said Alice.

    'And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'

    'I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said.

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't— till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

    'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected.

    'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.'

    'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

    'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master— that's all.'

    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them— particularly verbs, they're the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'

    'Would you tell me, please,' said Alice 'what that means?'

    'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'

    'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

    'When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'I always pay it extra.'

    'Oh!' said Alice....

    [Nov 2, 2009] Goldman Sachs et al Downgraded To “junk”

    Blast from the past ;-)
    March 16, 2007 | newyorkscot

    Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley were only two levels above “junk” based on the Credit Default Swap (CDS) market. Specifically, prices for credit-default swaps linked to the bonds of Goldman Sachs, Merrill and Morgan Stanley last week traded at levels that equate to debt ratings of Baa2.

    This could be because CDS traders are more bearish than bond traders and have been more concerned about the slowdown in the housing (see blog posting) and global equity markets, and therefore Goldman & Co’s exposure to these markets through their massivley successful mortgage securitization businesses (which includes significant exposure to subprime mortgages).

    The size of the CDS market is now an enormous $26 trillion (twice the annual economic output of the U.S.)!! According to Bloomberg, Goldman and Morgan Stanley have $171.6 billion and $168.5 billion respectively in bonds outstanding.

    [Nov 1, 2009] Economist's View The Berlin Wall Had to Fall, But Today's World is No Fairer

    Cynthia:

    Bruce Wilder writes,

    "Gorbachev delivered Russia into the hands of a kleptocracy. Now, the U.S. is in the hands of a kleptocracy, as well."

    This may explain why Hank Paulson flew to Moscow to dine with Mihail Gorbachev just a few months before the meltdown. Paulie was probably trying to learn a thing or two from Gorby on how to pull off an even bigger heist than his Russian counterparts did several decades back.

    http://blogs.chron.com/lorensteffy/2009/10/paulie_and_gorb_1.html

    Assuming this is so, Goldman Sachs has truly lived up to the name of Government Sachs. And there's certainly no need for fiction when there's reality like this!

    [Nov 1, 2009] Report on Goldman's Bets on the Housing Crash

    "Unabankers: the smartest sociopaths in the room"

    [Nov 1, 2009] Nine More Banks Fail with CIT a Packaged Bankruptcy While Gold Shines in a Jobless Recovery

    "econo-whores" that's something new. The theme of prostitution became probably the most discussed in economic topics ;-)
    Jesse's Café Américain

    The current state of economics is most remarkable for its arrogant complacency in the face of two failed bubbles, a near systemic failure, a pseudo-scientific perversion of mathematics exposed, and an incredible capacity for spin and self-delusion. The people wish to believe, and Wall Street and the government economists are all too willing to tell them whatever they wish to hear, for a variety of motives. And there is an army of salesmen and lobbyists and econo-whores touting this fraud around the clock.

    [Nov 1, 2009] Bird & Fortune on "banking, bonuses, boom and bust"

    October 31, 2009 CalculatedRisk

    The whole video is here: Banking with Bird & Fortune at the Financial Times. An excerpt ...

    [Nov 1, 2009] Guest Post- Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University Says Politicians Are NOT Prostitutes … They Are Pimps

    naked capitalism

    Many people have called politicians prostitutes.

    True, Obama has received more donations from Goldman Sachs and the rest of the financial industry than almost anyone else.

    And Summers and the rest of Obama’s economic team have made many millions – even recently – from the financial industry.

    And Congress has largely been bought and paid for, and two powerful congressmen have said that banks run Congress.

    So yes, they have certainly sold their goods to the highest bidders.

    Indeed, at least some people trust prostitutes more than elected officials.

    But the prostitution analogy is inaccurate.

    Specifically, as the chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University (Donald J. Boudreaux) points out:

    Real whores, after all, personally supply the services their customers seek. Prostitutes do not steal; their customers pay them voluntarily. And their customers pay only with money belonging to these customers.

    In contrast, members of Congress routinely truck and barter with other people’s property…

    Members of Congress are less like whores than they are like pimps for persons unwillingly conscripted to perform unpleasant services.

    Consider, for example, agricultural subsidies. Each year a handful of farmers and agribusinesses receive billions of taxpayer dollars. These are dollars that government forcibly takes from the pockets of taxpayers and then transfers to farmers.

    The customers, in this case, are the farmers and agribusinesses. The suppliers of the services performed for these customers are taxpayers, for it’s the taxpayers who possess the ultimate asset — money — that farmers and agribusinesses lust after. And the intermediaries who oblige the suppliers to satisfy the base lusts of the customers are politicians. Just as pimps facilitate their customers’ access to prostitutes’ assets, politicians facilitate their customers’ access to taxpayers’ assets.

    We taxpayers have less say in the matter than we like to think. Sure, we can vote. But if even just 50.00001 percent of voters cast their ballots for the candidate proposing higher taxes, the assets of not only our pro-tax citizens, but also those of the remaining 49.00009 percent of us anti-tax citizens are put at the disposal of our pimps’ customers. (And note that many of those who vote for higher taxes are not among those persons actually subject to higher taxation)…

    Politicians force taxpayers to pony it up — just as the services rendered for a pimp’s customers are rendered not by that pimp personally, but by the ladies under his charge. The pimp pockets the bulk of each payment; he’s pleased with the transaction. His customer gets serviced well in return; he’s pleased with the transaction. The only loser is the prostitute forced to share her precious assets with strangers whom she doesn’t particularly care for and who care nothing for her.Also like the ladies under pimps’ power, taxpayers who resist being exploited risk serious consequences to their persons and pocketbooks. Uncle Sam doesn’t treat kindly taxpayers who try to avoid the obligations that he assigns to them. Government is a great deal more powerful, and often nastier, than is the typical taxpayer. Practically speaking, the taxpayer has little choice but to perform as government demands.

    So to call politicians “whores” is to unduly insult women who either choose or who are forced into the profession of prostitution. These women aggress against no one; like all other respectable human beings, they do their best to get by as well as they can without violating other people’s rights.

    The real villains in the prostitution arena are those pimps who coerce women into satisfying the lusts of strangers. Such pimps pocket most of the gains earned by the toil and risks involuntarily imposed upon the prostitutes they control. No one thinks this arrangement is fair or justified. No one gives pimps the title of “Honorable.” Decent people don’t care what pimps think or suppose that pimps have any special insights into what is good or bad for the women under their command. Decent people don’t pretend that pimps act chiefly for the benefit of their prostitutes. Decent people believe that pimps should be in prison.

    Yet Americans continue to imagine that the typical representative or senator is an upstanding citizen, a human being worthy of being feted and listened to as if he or she possesses some unusually high moral or intellectual stature.

    It’s closer to the truth to see politicians as pimps who force ordinary men and women to pony up freedoms and assets for the benefit of clients we call “special-interest groups.”

    Note: There are a handful of honest politicians, fighting for the American people. But the exception proves the rule.

    Advocatus Diaboli:

    I always thought the prostitute analogy was not right, because most prostitutes are honest and give what they exchange money for.

    koshem:

    The distinction between a whore and a pimp is silly in the context the fact that the poor and the middle class of this country are screwed.

    Kevin de Bruxelles:

    If you want to make this john-pimp-whore analogy for wealthy elite-politician-common taxpayer to work, you have to follow through and be clear who is playing which role. The wealthy elite would be the johns since they are the ones who are looking to exploit someone and are willing to pay a little to get what they want; the politicians would be the pimps (as your post stated) since they are getting paid to make the connection; but of course that leaves the taxpayers to play the role of the whores since they are the weakest link who are getting their rear ends reamed with force while at the same time being so doped up on media bread and circuses that they are unable to do resist their pimp’s demands to service their johns.

    I don’t know though; the analogy seems a little forced. The wealthy elite are stealing the taxpayers money with the help of the politicians so the whole sex industry comparison has some weaknesses.

    Personally, I think a simpler analogy is that in democracies, politicians play the role the clergy used to play in the Middle Ages; their job is to add legitimacy to sacrifices demanded by the aristocracy in order to convince the serfs to willingly submit to their overlords so that outright violent coercion can be kept to a minimum.

    As for the few honest politicians, they play the same diversionary role that the Jon Stewart show does for television: they shine just enough light of integrity that many people are convinced to reist throwing their political system/televisions into the pit of oblivion.

    Bill:

    If this guy is the Chair of the econ department at George Mason, you have to wonder what type of indoctrination the students are getting. Sounds like a wingnut.

    Hugh:

    Boudreaux misses the point. Both parties compete to do the bidding of corporations and Wall Street. So in most of the time, we have no real choice. And sure we are getting stiffed on some farm subsidies, but it is a vanishingly small amount compared to what the banksters have looted. A very strange post.

    timbo:

    I love me some bank-hatin – but this analogy not up to par.

    Pimps do provide a service(protection), and while some do expropriate resources via force, this is not the preferred business model of s successful pimp.

    In short, pimps that underprovide services on the dollar are quickly weeded out, and lose earning power from their hoes.

    In the ultimate unregulated labor/management dispute, those that don’t meet market demand (pimps or hoes) suffer the economic consequences.

    Stangely, Congress does have, in theory a mechanism whereby those that don’t meet market demands suffer. This historic mechanism used to be called the voter.

    So why haven’t we acted? Good question. The only answer is that we as a people don’t get how badly we are being screwed.

    I’ll leave you with two quotes from MY favorite pres. Andrew Jackson

    “One man with courage makes a majority.”

    “Gentleman, I have had men watching you for a long time, and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in thebreadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families and that will be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to rout you out, and by the eternal God, I will rout you out. ”

    Keep fighting

    Continued...



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