Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Despair


There's a great website out there called despair.com. They sell anti-motivational posters and geegaws, in response to the tsunami of positive thinking sites out there. While I tend to be a great believer in positive thinking and motivational work, these products just tickle my funny bone. I guess my cynical side combined with my weird sense of humor overcomes my rah-rah tendencies. Anyway, one of their latest objets d'art:

Screw the Debates

The debates are a luxury at this point... we need to give McSame a geography test.

Why Gingrich is Never the Answer

No matter what the question. He's not even in power, hell- he's not even in office, and yet, Gingrich is still fucking things up in Washington. Read this and laugh or cry, I'm not sure which is appropriate.

Quote of the Day, Week, Month, AND Year

Trapper John, of DKos fame, has the best quote in a long time:

Two things we should keep in mind as we discuss the financial crisis:

  1. Banks and stockholders are desperate to see some sort of pledge from the US government that there is ready money to help remove toxic assets from the balance sheets of banks.
  1. George W. Bush is still President, and the GOP House caucus consists primarily of shit-flinging howler monkeys.
Next time, someone asks you why you're a Dem, just tell 'em 'cuz the Repugs are all shit-flinging howler monkeys.'

Congrats

Rachel Maddow is kicking butt and taking names in her great new show on MSNBC. The LATimes gives her props this morning.

Bush Economic Note

The Dow closed today (finally! that was ugly to watch) below the level it held when Shrub took office. Better living through Republicanism.

When will we all realize that the Repugs know less about economics than they do about family values?

Bailout Bill

Well, the bailout bill bombed badly (say THAT three times fast....) today, and the world imploded (well, the market did, anyway!) I have very mixed feelings about the whole thing.

I work in the financial industry and tend to believe the situation is not quite as dire as described (call me Pollyanna...) The mortgage meltdown is a problem and will continue to be for another year or two, exacerbated by and exacerbating the home price meltdown. The real problem is the mortgage derivative market, which is a) amazingly stupid in design and implementation and b) mortgaged (no pun intended) to the hilt at every level of implementation.

What it boils down to is that Wall Street (and the banks, which are not the same thing, but incestuously related) bet big that the housing market would continue to boom at unsustainable rates, took their early winnings and bet them on continuing, and so and so on. At any point, a sneeze would knock down the whole house of cards. Unfortunately, they got not a sneeze but full-blown pneumonia. And with the leverage of the leverage, that pneumonia is in danger of becoing pneumonic plague.

I don't think this bill was the ultimately answer (God knows, the Paulson plan as offered wasn't!) but it was movement in the right direction. This is an excruciatingly delicate situation that needs to be unwound with skill and care OR we need to have the government backstop everything and just blow the current players up. There doesn't seem to be, to me at least, any real middle ground. Given the capablilites of government (or any large institution for that matter) to do delicate, skillfull, and/or careful, blowing them all up may end up being the answer.

Whatever we do is going to be painful in the short run and expensive in the long run. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the government might make up some loses (or even make a profit) on some of the assets down the road, but having lived through the RTC era while in the real estate industry, I damned sure ain't gonna count on it!

One thing that's obvious after today (and the last week (well, hell, the last thirty years) is that the Republicans, particularly the House Republicans, need to be completely left out of the process. Their behavior today was, as always, whiney, self-serving, and destructive to the best interests of everyone else on the planet. Brad Delong said it best: "This Republican Party needs to be burned, razed to the ground, and the furrows sown with salt.

Several things MUST be addressed in any bill that comes out of this. First, in addition to bailing out the Street (who went in to this knowing they were playing with fire), there needs to some method of stanching the bloodloss of borrowers who are in trouble. Whether it's a national refinancing program, bankruptcy reform (back in the direction of the consumer), or some other program remains to be seen, but without fixing the root problem, the rest is academic. Second, there needs to be serious oversight reform of the financial industry (yes, this might screw me, but so be it). Slashed regulations need to be reinstated (bring back Glass-Stegall?) and the regulators need to grow a pair (or be forced to grow a pair!). Third, there needs to more regulation and oversight of the derivative markets (my partners are now storming my office!) Derivatives are a vital and important part of the market, functioning, depending on which ones and how used, as a pressure relief valve, insurance, or leverage vehicle. But, most of the problems arising out this situation are due to forming derivatives, then derivatives of derivatives, unto the n-th exponent, with additional leverage being layered in at each step. This needs to limited or eliminated (oy! I can't wait to read the inter-office email now!)

On the subject of executive compensation, I remain agnostic. At heart, I tend to be in favor of limits, but set by the stockholders (or at least making it mandatorily confirmable by them.) I'm entirely comfortable with the idea of the government setting up regs here. But, if they do, I can live with it. All the arguments against are basically bogus, but they have the currency of conventional wisdom, so movement in this direction is going to be difficult and noisy.

Anyway, on that note, I think the market is going up tomorrow, and, up, down, or sideways, I can't wait for the opening bell to get back in the game.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman Dead

In my youth, there were two actors who personifited 'cool'. When we weren't busy wanting be Steve McQueen, we wanted to be Paul Newman. The man made a couple of the great movies of all time (Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy, The Sting). He was 'green' and into charity in an age of heartless Republicanism. AND he was a racing fanatic. What's not to like?

Hollywood won't see his like again. Our hearts and prayers go out to Joanne Woodward.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It Blowed Up Real Good!

Per Politico, John McCain came riding in on his white horse, to rescue the maiden, and then, apparently, shot the sheriff, raped the maiden, and, on the way out of town, sodomized the maiden's dog.......

Democrats complained of being “blindsided” by a new conservative alternative to the plan first put forward by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. And the outcome casts doubt on the ability of Congress to move quickly on the matter, even after leaders of House and Senate banking committees reached a bipartisan agreement Thursday on the framework for legislation authorizing the massive government intervention.

It was McCain who urged President Bush to call the White House meeting attended by House and Senate leaders as well as Obama, his Democratic rival. But the candidates left without commenting to reporters outside, and the whole sequence of events confirmed Treasury’s fears about inserting presidential politics into what were already difficult negotiations.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Liars Poker Redux

Michael Lewis, author of Liars Poker, and alum of Goldman Sachs, has a truly funny screed up at Bloomsberg today. As readers of LP know, everything is setup to make Goldman money, so his humor may be closer to the truth than we suspect.

At any rate, it won't take long for Goldman Sachs to figure out how to make that $700 billion work for Goldman Sachs. This you can trust them to do. After all, Warren Buffett just did.

Nineteen

Wow! I don't have a link yet, but I heard on the Rachel Maddow (radio) show this afternoon, that Shrub's popularity rating has dropped to an all time low of 19%!! Guess you CAN'T fool all the people all the time!

Obama Up By 9

According to the latest Wapo/ABC poll, Obama leads McBush by 9, 52-43. Best showing for a Dem candidate since the Clinton era! Woohoo! I agree with Kevin when he says "with the convention bumps out of the way, I'll bet Obama never has much less than a five point lead in the national polls for the rest of the campaign."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Baba Gibson

I didn't see the Gibson interview with Palin this eve (I didn't want to wither my beautiful mind....), but I've seen a lot of the coverage and some of the clips. Holy Crap, Batman!

In her favor, she doesn't seem as whacked out as McCain has seemed recently (has he fallen over the edge into crazy-old-man-land, or what?), but she did seem to be reincarnation of W. Ignorant, proud of it, and, while often wrong, never uncertain. In other words, a prototypical neo-con. And with GOD ON HER SIDE!!!!

And, apparently we're going to war with Russia!

Yikes!

I tend to be pretty doom-&-gloom-y when it comes to the economy (in general- in my own life, I tend towards Pollyanna), but this makes me seem like John McCain's economic advisers.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Oh, That's Not Good

Lynn Westmoreland, a neanderthal Repug Congressman from Georgia, referred to the Obamas as "uppity." I don't know about you, but the concept of a rich white guy from Georgia calling a black man (who's at least twice as smart and successful) 'uppity' strikes me as not being the best idea in the world.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Wingnuttier Than You Can POSSIBLY Imagine!

Ladies and gents, we give you.... the Alaska Independence Party!

Yet More... All Palin, All the Time

Whether or not, Gov. Palin was a member of the oh-so-wingnutty Alaska Independence Party, the first dude (as she's refered to him) WAS!

Asked and Answered

Yesterday, Atrios admitted he'd been sleeping late and asked if Jonah Goldberg had said anything stupid. Well, we didn't have to wait long. In this morning's L.A. Times (WTF is a douchebag like Goldberg doing in one of the best (not saying much) papers in the country?!?!?!?!), Jonah espouses the virtues and angelic qualities of la Palin.

It may have been written Friday for publication today, but it complete misses (or worse, ignores) the 'revelations' that came out since the grand unveiling on Friday morning. My gut instinct is that Jonah (why do I keep typing Johan?) just isn't aware of the negative buzz that is starting to surround Gov. Palin, or doesn't understand how detrimental it is to her, and ultimately to McSame's campaign for a third Bush term.

Good!

Welcome to Minnesota: The Police State

There was a lot of news in the blogosphere yesterday about the out-of-control raids by a combination of local and federal law enforcement in Mpls-St Paul yesterday, 'cracking down' on possible protestors. WaPo has some coverage here (which is the only coverage I've seen in the MSM...) Glenn also went into overdrive yesterday covering it.

I'm not a big fan of the whole 'let's get rowdy and disrupt shit' movement, but as long as they remain peaceful and no one gets hurt, I'm all in favor of their being allowed to protest. But, in Shrub's Amerika, even thinking about disagreeing en masse in public with his Holy Writ is grounds for manhandling, verbal abuse, and false arrest. Next stop, Gitmo?

Don't we have a Constitution or something?

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