November 17, 2008

Bits Bucket For November 17, 2008

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Comment by clue
2008-11-17 07:15:56

save the krill,
whales the useless.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 07:24:14

In an unanticipated move, Krillions were lost in an underwater investment scheme.

The CEO of the enterprise-Davy Jones, could not be reached for comment…

Comment by clue
2008-11-17 08:01:31

Its not whether you win or lose.
Its how you filet the shame.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 08:07:35

You just krill me.

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Comment by clue
2008-11-17 07:25:18

Regulatory filings last week by 38 hedge funds with more than $1 billion in assets each show that selling and market declines cut the value of their reported holdings by about 30 percent to $273 billion. Bloomberg

He who panics first, panics best, and the hedgies stampeded out of stocks, trampling everything in their paths:
The Sellers from Hedgistan.

Comment by combotechie
2008-11-17 07:32:45

“,… and the hedgies stampeded out of stocks, trampling everything in their paths.”

Soon to be followed by J6pk.

Comment by Asparagus
2008-11-17 08:37:07

J6pk? Ah, did you mean JtP?

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Comment by scdave
2008-11-17 08:45:47

combo…Kinda been wondering about that myself…Will some just throw in the towel, pay the penalty and liquidate the 401k ??

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Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 08:49:59

The hardest thing for people to contemplate about their 401k’s right now, is the idea that most have dropped 40.1% (or more) and the idea of walking the plank and paying the tax bite, is not very appetizing to most.

Comment by scdave
2008-11-17 09:56:39

is not very appetizing to most ??

I do not disagree but if it comes down to eating or keeping a roof over your head the tax and penalty becomes secondary…Does not do you much good to wait until penalty free 70 if you cannot get from here to there…I think thats what combo was suggesting by j6pk..

Comment by Bad Chile
2008-11-17 10:09:33

My mid-60s co-worker is on the phone right now cashing out her 401(k). I forgot my headphones today so I’ve heard every word, but it ain’t that much. She’s having difficulty understanding the tax implications, lots of yelling going on.

Comment by varelse
2008-11-17 10:16:00

I’m waiting to see if rumors about what Obama plans to do with our 401K’s turn out to be true or not. If true, I’m pulling out, if not I’ll weather the storm.

Comment by cactus
2008-11-17 10:37:02

my company just ended the 401K match

plus no pay increases and a hiring freeze.

all due to “Today’s Challenging Macro-Economic Environment ”

all well what can you do ?

Comment by Jim A.
2008-11-17 11:51:15

…She’s having difficulty understanding the tax implications, lots of yelling going on. She’s only having difficulty because she doesn’t WANT to understand. Because it’s simple: she hasn’t paid taxes on this money yet, so she’ll have to pay taxes on it now. Plus penalties.

Comment by oxide
2008-11-17 12:56:34

If she’s 60’s, then she’s older than the 59.5 threshold and can take some payments while only paying normal taxes, no penalties. She also sounds almost eligible for Medicare, and if she hangs on for a couple years, she can start Social Security. Why does she need the 401K cash all at once?

If it’s for mortgage payments, she ought to walk and go BK. 401Ks aren’t touched in BK, right?

Comment by dude
2008-11-17 14:57:45

In the early 90s I cashed in a small 401K to get cash to save my house after having been laid off.

It gave me the cash to make it through until the Northridge quake pulled every construction worker’s arse out of the fire in early ‘93.

I went from severely underemployed to all the overtime I wanted, virtually overnight.

Think we’ll have a great quake to save Socal this time via the broken windows theory?

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 16:21:52

There’s been a swarm of smaller 1.0 or bigger quakes all over the west coast, the past week…

Comment by implosion
2008-11-17 19:49:30

Aren’t the fires doing that?

Comment by clue
2008-11-17 07:27:28

OK, let’s move to the more contentious “class struggle” part of the title, one that I am sure instantly evokes anti-Marxist howls of protest. After all, the term was essentially monopolized by erstwhile communists. (There are a few readers who even call me a commie. Ha! I am about as bolshie as Warren Buffett is poor). Instead, I use the term “class struggle” in the spirit of the American and French revolutions, the Civil War , or the racial and feminist movements . All were based on class struggles revolving around the evolution of a “middle” class.

Comment by Pinch-a-penny
2008-11-17 07:50:01

Revolutions are seldom started by the poor. They are generally started by the middle class that is feeling squeezed, and always aspire to something better. THey tend to be educated, have contacts, and see that they are at a disadvantage.
Marx thought that the proletariat would rise and take over, but that in itself has seldom happened. What tends to happen is some small event sets off a chain reaction that culminates in either a violent upheaval, or a dramatic social change, and the middle class is generally leading the charge, using the poor to get ahead. I think that we are in the middle of a dramatic social change, where WS is seen with scorn, and Washington is seen as thieves. That is why we fell hook line and sinker for the “change” and “yes we can” marketing ploys.
Lets see when in the spring, things do not look to be improving (raise your hands those of you that think that things will improve in the spring, and please leave the gold jackets by the door…).

Comment by CrookCounty
2008-11-17 08:13:33

A U, get off my gold car!

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Comment by WhatOnceWas
2008-11-17 10:04:36

“raise your hands those of you that think that things will improve in the spring,”

Pinch, you had me until the last sentence. There are many that want change, even those that voted Bush, but to say that because things won’t be better in spring it was a false bet. I contend that Mccain withered away as he wanted nothing to do with this economy at the end.

Otherwise, Yes revolutions are instigated by the bored upper middle class…Think Osama, Ayers, Hoffman. Unfortunately they start the fight then wither away to let their followers take the brunt.

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Comment by Pinch-a-penny
2008-11-17 11:39:16

Sorry, I was thinking more about those of our general population that belong to certain realtor organization, and some of them use gold jackets… As far as to who would have been better for president, I contend that neither. No one person that ran can turn this around quickly. I am not a partisan animal, just saying that when Hope is in your platform, the flip side of hope is disapointment….
I also believe that a lot of people are expecting an immediate change of things, and for things to get “better” very quickly.
We all know that is not going to happen. Housing is not going to magically start going up 40 or 50% every year, and unemployment drop to 0 any time soon. Wages at best are stagnant, at worse dropping like lead. The pressures that built this thing up, are not going to go away with the changing of the guard.
It is said that the number of suicides goes way up in the spring, because people hope that in the spring things will turn around and get better, and when they do not, people get even more depressed.

Comment by Big V
2008-11-17 12:34:35

So many people on the bits are just hell bent on criticizing Obama. Of course he will not divert this recession, especially not by spring. However, he will still CHANGE a lot of Bush’s bad, bad policies, thereby providing HOPE that we as a people can function again.

Comment by Pinch-a-penny
2008-11-17 12:48:47

Again, I was not critizising Obama… I am fully aware that he will change some polcies that some people consider bad, and that change is important for us to function.
I am critizising those who think that he can resolve the issues that are tearing this country apart at the seams, with one swell swoop of the baton. Those who believe that by the 20th of January 2009 everything evil and bad will be just but a nightmare, and will wake up to a brand new world, are in for a rude awakening.
No, the things are such that for most of the population it is going to be bad for the next 2 years at least. The US Titanic has a new captain at the helm, but it is far to close to the iceberg to do anything meaningful.

Comment by calex
2008-11-17 14:23:19

So many people in the bits are hell bent on defending Obama, EVEN though he hasn’t done anything yet and nothing bad was said that needed defending.

Again, I am not critizing Obama…. but I am putting my flame suit on because I said Obama and didn’t drop to my knees.

Comment by BanteringBear
2008-11-17 18:06:12

“Again, I am not critizing Obama…. but I am putting my flame suit on because I said Obama and didn’t drop to my knees.”

Huh? Many, if not most of us, who voted for Obama did so with a cautious optimism that we could get some different results in the future, instead of more of the same garbage of the past 8 years. Worshiping? What a joke.

Comment by Matt
2008-11-17 20:56:56

“I am critizising those who think that he can resolve the issues that are tearing this country apart at the seams, with one swell swoop of the baton.”

Wow, there seems to be a lot of straw man arguments around here in regards to Obama.

No one I know thinks he’ll wave a magic wand and all will be better. Everyone understands this recession will be very long.

Comment by BP
2008-11-17 08:22:57

Here is the problem with “class struggle”. Seven years ago I had a low low middle class income now I am in the top 1%. Next year due to the economy I will probably be in the upper middle. Americans with any brains and work ethics go up and down through the “class” structure on a frequent basis. We are a very transitory culture.

Comment by Skip
2008-11-17 08:40:26

Are you a Realtor?

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Comment by Sdnewbie
2008-11-17 10:07:51

Now . . .that was funny.

Comment by BP
2008-11-17 10:11:16


So your critical thinking skills are so adept that you think a realtor could be in the top 1% income THIS year? Time to get back on the short bus skippy.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2008-11-17 10:14:05

How could he be a realtor and still be upper-middle-class in income next year? :-)

Comment by exeter
2008-11-17 10:25:26


Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2008-11-17 11:32:56

How could he be a realtor and have brains and work ethic? :-)

Comment by exeter
2008-11-17 11:39:08

hmmm…. I think you’re right sleepless…. he is a realturd!

Comment by calex
2008-11-17 16:39:02

No, it is a Porn Star.

This year the viagra is not working as well so not as many movies.

We are talking money in regards to class, not personal.

Comment by Jon
2008-11-17 10:42:35


I’d be interested in seeing what percentage of the population actually ever makes it into the top 5% and stays there. My thought here is that I’m not sure that basing our economic policies on the chance that someone makes it into the top 5% is creating the most long term wealth as a whole with some form of decent distribution.

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Comment by BucksPiper
Comment by samk
2008-11-17 07:42:44

And executives might lose their bonuses.

Comment by ex-nnvmtgbrkr
2008-11-17 08:05:25

Don’t they have a pill for that?

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 08:06:27

Too late…

They already overdosed on Ambac, the Red Pill.

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Comment by NoSingleOne
2008-11-17 08:39:49

The red pill means you can return to the Matrix with your memories and expectations remaining intact.

Comment by Skip
2008-11-17 08:42:45

Geek Alert!

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 08:54:25

Tried to watch the Matrix, but I don’t do wire-fu.

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-17 09:36:13

‘the Red Pill.’

Hey, whatever happened to the poster called ‘red pill’? Haven’t seen them for forever, come to think of it.

Anyway, speaking of the Matrix, I think Neo should have done what IIIII do when confronted with pharmacological products offered to me on a shiny tray by giant black men in leather great-coats inside a destroyed house. He should have pretended like he was thinking, ‘hmmmmm…’ like that, with his wise face on, and then sat up and pointed and said alertly ‘Hey! Is than an owl?’ and when Morpheus looked away to see this owl, shoulda grabbed BOTH pills and swallowed them, followed by a generous slug of whiskey from his handy hip flask. Then he could see what happened.

Hey, won’t know until you try, right?

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 08:03:53

A friend that worked @ Citi for many years and earned a good salary, retired from their employ about 3 years ago, and looked to be on easy street, as he had tons of their stock in trade…

I last talked to him @ $37 a share, and warned him of what was coming.

He would hear nothing of it…

Comment by Asparagus
2008-11-17 08:40:09

After the all the retirements lost from one stock portfolios during the tech crash and Enron, diversifying your retirement stocks should be a no-brainer, however, based on your evidence, it looks as though a brain is still required.

Comment by Asparagus
2008-11-17 08:42:25

That last comment came off a little more harsh than intended. I hope your friend can make it through all this OK.

Damn, this financial crisis! It’s making me a much nastier person than I want to be.

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Comment by Blano
2008-11-17 09:02:32

Bad, bad vegetable!!!

Comment by realestateskeptic
2008-11-17 11:08:41

Only bad when you pee.

Comment by Big V
2008-11-17 12:48:30

Admit it aspie, you’re really a broccoli. Nasty, nasty, nasty.

Comment by Matt_in_TX
2008-11-17 17:04:45

On the other hand, I put half my 401K into company stock after it had been beaten down in 1999 and got out after a +60% rise (eventually went to +100% before cresting). Of course, if I had kept it another year, it would have ended lower than where I’d bought in. Perhaps the exception proves the rule.

Of course, the problem this year is that there are no rules.

Comment by DennisN
2008-11-17 11:00:20

The problem this time is that even the broad-based indexes have cratered. I thought I was safe with S&P500 index funds. :( And here I thought I was smart just for dumping my old employee-bought INTC shares at 27 last December.

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Comment by Left LA
2008-11-17 08:20:50


Now get a job that actually adds something to society, leeches.

Comment by CrookCounty
2008-11-17 08:36:37

Money production adds money to society! We’re rich, and getting richer! Would you like some credit sauce with or on those fries?


Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 09:11:28

I just love that my meme has sprouted a thousand fans. ;-)

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Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-17 10:20:00

I actually laugh it out loud now, and not just in writing. You can about see the capital letters and the exclamation points floating in the air.

Comment by The Middling Lebowski
2008-11-17 16:02:58

Right — YOUR meme. That’s only been around the net for what, about a decade now?

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 16:40:13

Who p*ssed in your White Russian this morning?

Comment by MazNJ
2008-11-17 10:32:13

In all seriousness, in the proper quantities, responsible, ethical Banking DOES add value to society. Ultimately, it creates an efficient method to allocate capital through. Or at least that’s its theoretical role. Whether it has accomplished that in the past 20 years, I can’t be certain. While people like AZ_Lender can and do function quite successfully (and probably doing a better job being ethical and responsible than any bank has ever done), it is similar to the introduction of the corporation relative to business (entrepreneur is limited in capital accumulation or risk-limited, not wanting so much of their capital in a single large investment): lending/etc can only be so large, be so diverse, reach a certain amount of people without the benefit of a larger lender or pooler of savings.

Comment by Jim A.
2008-11-17 11:59:38

Well to some extant, efficiency and disintermediation has led us here. As banks have merged with brokerages and a far larger percentage of the population has invested in the equities market through their 401(k)s, a larger percentage of money is rapidly shifted around according to “mob rule,” instead of bankers in three piece suits and marble buildings. People aren’t satisifed with “clipping coupons,” and instead they throw money to wall street, clamoring for returns, returns, returns. Anybody who tried to slow the process by mentioning “risk” was bypassed by the stampede.

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Comment by The Housing Wizard
2008-11-17 13:45:54

Very good summary of what happened Jim A .

Interesting how Countries are moving toward contraction on
Globalism and trade ,better known as ” Protectism “. I believe that excess money supply ,carry trades being unbalanced ,monopolies in low wage Countries goods ,
and total disregard for the effect of outsourcing of Jobs and manufacturing and what it would do to a Nations job base , was a root cause of a lot of this mess .

The whole stage was set by 2000 by the “revoked regulations” and new favorable for Globalism and Business type laws were set up and had been evolving for a time .

Corporations and Big Business running wild with full support of the Politicians who apparently can’t see the forest through the trees ,and didn’t see the housing bubble either .

Solution to problems will be brutal , but the parties that stand to lose the most will fight the hardest not to have anything change ,while it must . Americans need real jobs and this Country needs to start manufacturing and drilling and all the things that make for independence and jobs . Not that trade isn’t good ,but tariffs and laws need to be adjusted accordingly ,not only to prevent monopolies ,but to prevent
Corporations from fleeing a Country and leaving its people
starving for jobs . Every local employment dollar that is spent in a Country will create a Stronger Country and more jobs . Money flowing out of a Country without it coming back is not good .

Why does anyone claim that Global wage markets were
good and losing manufacturing in America was good ? Not good for the American worker or middle class . Some people would say that the Housing Bubble was good also ,until it wasn’t .

It’s just plain intelligent to provide jobs for your Country ,or the people of your Country starve ,it’s as simple as that .

Comment by CA renter
2008-11-18 02:10:37

Amen, Wiz!!!!!! :)

Excellent post, as usual.

Comment by WantsOut
2008-11-17 07:22:22

While driving on a major route with numerous traffic lights this weekend I was forced to stop and start at 7 of the 8 lights. The lights should be timed so that you can drive the speed limit and hit all green. This one improvement alone would probably save billions of dollars a year not to mention saving the planet.

Comment by Skroodle
2008-11-17 07:25:48

Having a friend who is a traffic engineer, his reply would be “drive the speed limit”.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 07:38:47

J.P. Morgan plans thousands of job cuts: report
Lay-offs also said coming from U.K.’s Wolseley, Experian
By MarketWatch
Last update: 9:50 a.m. EST Nov. 16, 2008

TEL AVIV (MarketWatch) — J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is planning thousands of job cuts worldwide, including hundreds within London, U.K. Telegraph reported Sunday, citing people close to the matter.

The scale of the cuts at J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM 34.01, -0.46, -1.3%) would likely be similar to those at rival financial majors, the report said.
Citigroup (C 9.15, -0.37, -3.9%) and Goldman Sachs (GS 65.27, -1.46, -2.2%) are each planning to pare about 10% of their workforce, and a similar cut at J.P. Morgan would mean 3,000 dismissals globally, the report said.

Comment by nycjoe
2008-11-17 07:46:24

This and the nixing of bonus to big guys at Goldman is beautiful music to NYC house-hopers!

Seems a fantasy, but the return of the 400-500K Manhattan 2-bedroom would clear the decks for the rest of us trying to put a decent roof over our heads in Brooklyn or Queens.

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Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 09:13:10


But it will be brutal between now and then.

Comment by aNYCdj
2008-11-17 09:34:49


How about a $299,999 2 family house 70 yo semi detached in Sunnyside queens…before it shot up to $749,000

It would cash flow at that price.

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 11:15:55

It would cash flow only assuming current rents.

I expect rents to collapse just like 1991 or 2002.

Comment by nycjoe
2008-11-17 12:22:20

Yeah DJ, imagine that Sunnyside house back at maybe 180-200? They were going for 145K, what, 10 yrs. ago? Saw a tidy one a few months ago for, ugh, 585K. But if you plunked that down next to the stinkin’ Gowanus Canal, folks would get into a batshit bidding war!

Comment by nycjoe
2008-11-17 14:00:03

Hey DJ, yeah, imagine those little Shoebox Division houses falling back to 250K or so … believe they went for 145K in the mid-90s. Hell, I might even be able to buy without stretching here in the fun-filled Asian Quarter of Forest Hills!

Comment by aNYCdj
2008-11-17 09:32:08

WRONG skroodle:

Not in NYC speed limit 30 but the lights are timed for 40….

try going on queens blvd or 2nd ave at the speed limit it will take you all day…..Traffic engineers are probably fat farts who don’t drive on these streets cause they have a city paid driver.

I have very low regard for traffic engineers, one tried to make our street one way in the opposite direction, imagine tractor trailers going UP a hill at 3 am in the rian or snow….can you say major sideswiping actions

The moron was using computer projections rather then her own eyes and brain….some asked at a public meeting that she be fired for being so stupid.

Comment by WantsOut
2008-11-17 10:18:40

I was, that was my point.

Comment by jsocal
2008-11-17 10:54:34

seems like some sections of LA are synchronized to 60 mph if you want to get through the intersections.

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2008-11-17 07:30:35

Another case against socialized roads! The government has little economic incentive to optimize performance of roads when they make more money by screwing up.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 07:40:26

I am also guessing that more traffic fines can be generated if traffic lights are deliberately timed to make motorists wait forever.

Comment by peter m
2008-11-17 08:12:40

“am also guessing that more traffic fines can be generated if traffic lights are deliberately timed to make motorists wait forever.”

City traffic engineers and city planners do not want to allow cars to buzz thru unimpeded. The more traffic slowdowns, stops, signs, red lights the better to generate more traffic tickets and to get frustrated city motorists to get out of their vehicles and use the public transit. City traffic planners are nothing but communist/fascist control freaks who need to shovel & engineer humans around like S*it.

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Comment by CrookCounty
2008-11-17 08:21:14

I’ve thought about this problem a lot. My conclusion is short sighted government is costing themselves far more lost revenue from traffic and parking headaches that result in people staying away and spending less money, doing less trade in the city. It’s the same reason third world countries are poor; it’s primarily due to corruption.

The higher the costs of movement, the net poorer society is.

Comment by David
2008-11-17 09:11:07

its nothing deliberate such as that. Its just this is a service run by local government. Traffic engineering and public works tends to be a low priority for local government leaders. Roadways are not a revenue generating operation, they are a cost center. Public agency emplyment policies tend to not be amenable to hiring the smart people necessary to figure out engineering issues and keep everything maintained. The smartest people in engineering all get lured away to wall street and silicon valley. Local governments tend to keep the loyal people that want to stay in the same place for 30 years and then get a cushy pension.

Comment by SDGreg
2008-11-17 08:13:22

“I am also guessing that more traffic fines can be generated if traffic lights are deliberately timed to make motorists wait forever.”

That worked well in the San Fernando Valley.

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Comment by aNYCdj
2008-11-17 09:38:24

YES Greg Welcome to NYC

We have traffic grids painted on the streets its a fine PLUS 2 points on your license to “”block the box”….and the cops stand on the corners just waiting for you to get caught in the middle

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2008-11-17 09:34:03

“…more traffic fines can be generated if traffic lights are deliberately timed to make motorists wait forever.”

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

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Comment by hip in zilker
2008-11-17 09:54:58

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”


Comment by Gulfstreamfixer
2008-11-17 10:39:25

Several reports indicate that the installation of “photo-cams” at intersections (to photograph and ticket the running of red lights) is usually accompanied by SHORTENING the duration of the yellow light.

Traffic engineers say that lengthening the yellow reduces instances of red-light running, at no cost (except to ticket revenue), so you can guess which route local governments choose.

Comment by Skip
2008-11-17 11:10:36

Those photo-cams often have a revenue sharing split with the company that manufactures and maintains.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2008-11-17 14:15:15

I sure wish I could take the credit… :-)

But it’s actually known as Hanlon’s Razor:’s_razor

original attribution is cloudy…

Comment by SFrenter
2008-11-17 14:41:21

In San Francisco most of the lights now have a “count down” telling you how many seconds are left until the light turns red.

It’s brilliant.

Comment by sf jack
2008-11-17 19:27:21

That’s not a countdown for drivers.

It’s simply a countdown for pedestrians.

Sometimes they do not match and for those who assume otherwise… well, they can end up hurting others, or themselves.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 07:34:34

Thanks for describing one of my pet peeves. I cannot begin to tally the wasted hours I have spent sitting at red San Diego traffic lights with no cross traffic. Multiplied over the entire population, the petrol and time costs of an inefficient traffic light system must be ginormous, but I am guessing there is no money in the San Diego city budget to fix this problem.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 07:36:26

I get so upset when the very first stop-light I encounter (26 miles from our house) isn’t timed right.

Comment by realestateskeptic
2008-11-17 08:55:43

One of the best things about our camp is that there is exactly one traffic light between our home and the camp, 30 secs of waiting, tops. 138 miles in 2 hours. No lights between my home and office and only 2 stop signs…. Boy I really miss Long Island…. NOT

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Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 10:19:30

My grandfather was one of Colorado’s first game wardens. He had a pickup with a light and siren. If he came to the town’s single stoplight and nobody was coming, he’d turn on his light and run it, he always said the law was made to serve the people, not people made to serve the law (or something like that).

He operated that way in enforcing the law and also had a huge amount of common sense. He was a very popular guy with both sides of the picture, made it in the regional history books for some of his feats (like rafting down the Yampa River during an ice jam to rescue people). He probably would be fired in today’s Nazi climate.

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Comment by Big V
2008-11-17 13:13:24

I treat red lights like stop signs. Works for me.

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-17 13:25:07

What’s are these ’stop signs’ you guys are on about? Do you mean those big metal lollipop thingies that often ornament the corners of roads? Those pretty, jolly, merry red big lollipops, erected in order to make me, Olygal, think of candy and thereby cheer my day as I go by them?
You mean, you mean…those are actually STOP signs?!

Well, that explains some things.

Comment by hunkydory
2008-11-17 14:09:12

today’s ‘Nazi’ climate - my pet term to describe the antics of the maniacal ticket-writers, be they local/state police or even meter maids.

There are two intersections on Route 1 in NE Philadelphia that rank in the top 5 of State Farm’s nationwide list of the most dangerous ones. But instead of addressing the real issues (turn signals line of sight affected by cross-traffic, poor signal timing, etc.), they merely installed automated red light cameras.

The stretch of I-95 that runs through Philly was off-limits to State Police up until a year ago, when the municipal Highway Patrol unit was reassigned. Now, you can not drive that corridor without seeing a car pulled over in either direction by a State Policeman with a radar gun.

Neither situation does anything to “protect & serve” the commuters driving past: the red light cameras put the onus on the drivers to retrain themselves, and the Stateys are not making any quantifiable improvements to those stretches of road. It is the exact same I-95 it’s ever been: same speeds, same traffic jams. Only now there’s this added threat of some psychotic ticket-writer pulling you over for nothing worse than matching the speed of every other f***ing car on the road.

I do a lot of things on my own that resemble community service: one of the things I’ve committed to is to stop no less than once a week and help a stranded motorist. Often I do this on I-95 and help people with flats or dead batteries. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen a stranded car within a mile or two of some psychotic individual who is laying low with a radar gun, dying to write his next ticket.

People like that should be redeployed to high-crime areas where they are needed most. In their place should be transferred specialty officers who have auto maintenance experience. They should at least know how to plug a flat and should all carry 50 dollar portable battery charger/air compressor/ac adapter units. The focus should be on keeping the cars moving and the people safe: writing traffic violations should constitute only a fraction of the time that a person spends their day carrying a badge.

I can think of any number of rule changes off the top of my head that would be to everyones benefit: no more than one ticket type written each day (1 speeding, 1 red light, etc.); no two tickets written within a certain distance of one another (which would promote more driving aka POLICING by everyone); a once-a-year option for speeders to instead recieve a points-free non-moving-violation fine (the higher the speed, the bigger the fine).

Or even a way to redeploy officers depending on their ticket-writing behavior. If they’re maniacal about it, then repurpose their control freak tendencies towards some more suitable tasks, like mind-numbing repetitive paperwork. Anything that gets them out of the way of society, and progress.

I respect and admire the criminal justice system: I think it’s the only thing keeping us all from sitting naked up in trees, slinging our poop at one another. :-) But I have zero respect or admiration for anyone who sets out each day with the goal of ruining the days of as many others as possible.

Which certainly doesn’t describe your grandfather, Lost. He sounds like he was quite an admirable guy. :-)

Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 18:24:05

Thanks, he would be appalled at what some “law enforcement” officers do today.

Comment by scdave
2008-11-17 08:57:40

Ditto here…Its not Silicon Valley its “Stop” valley…Takes you forever to drive 5 miles…

Comment by rms
2008-11-17 07:53:50

“The lights should be timed so that you can drive the speed limit and hit all green.”

Business owners don’t like their potential customers motoring by with efficiency, and they pay the taxes along these routes.

Comment by Blue Skye
2008-11-17 08:12:58


Obviously, you were headed in the wrong direction.

Comment by WantsOut
2008-11-17 10:23:35

Good one

Comment by Jon
2008-11-17 10:50:53

Timing lights only works in the instance that you hit the first light when it is green, and average the speed limit between the rest of them. In busy traffic it will never happen.

Comment by Rental Watch
2008-11-17 14:56:58

19th Avenue in SF works pretty well as long as traffic isn’t heavy, even if you don’t hit the first light. You just need to make sure you get up to speed with modest acceleration, and you’ll make it through the next 4-5 lights or more.

At least in my experience…

Comment by ButImNotDeadYet
2008-11-17 11:05:02

The lights were timed perfectly… for people going in the OTHER direction!

Comment by NovaWatcher
2008-11-17 13:51:01

Where I used to live, I had a stretch of road, where if you drove the speed limit and accelerated from the light like a normal person, you’d hit red light after red light. There were cops there, so it wasn’t wise to speed. The key was to accelerate hard, then slam on the cruise control at 35 mph. If you did that, you’d cruise through all green lights, with the lights turning yellow as soon as you passed through the intersections.

Comment by CrackerJim
2008-11-17 20:58:52

“The lights should be timed so that you can drive the speed limit and hit all green.”

This would work for traffic going in one direction but what the heck about the people going in the opposite direction to your “synchronized” route? Or do you just expect that news of your coming will precede you and automatically change the synchronization to your direction?

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 07:24:22

‘Tis a puzzlement…

* NOVEMBER 17, 2008

Banks Keep Lending, but That Isn’t Easing the Crisis

All around Washington, policy makers are scrambling to figure out how to get banks lending again. Lawmakers have criticized banks for not using new federal money to make loans and have threatened to place conditions on additional money. Regulators last week sent out a directive, encouraging banks not to hold back on lending.

But there’s a flaw in that logic. Banks actually are lending at record levels. Their commercial and industrial loans, at $1.6 trillion in early November, were up 15% from a year earlier and grew at a 25% annual rate during the past three months, according to weekly Federal Reserve data. Home-equity loans, at $578 billion, were up 21% from a year ago and grew at a 48% annual rate in three months.

Comment by mrktMaven
2008-11-17 07:36:41

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs, intended to thaw commercial paper and money markets, are also helping banks limit losses from some of their $4 trillion in off-the-books guarantees and loan commitments.

Comment by clue
2008-11-17 07:51:27

The charge is that as an agent bank Goldman Sachs has access to private information that gives it an advantage in the opaque market of high risk debt, and they have been using that information to target certain portions of the market with naked short selling to drive down prices and reap large profits for themselves at the expense of their clients and other market participants.

This is the template for market fraud that we described previously on several occasions. The banks have privileged information and access to funds that precludes them from playing on a level field with other market participants. The uneven enforcement of the rules by the SEC and CFTC and lack of transparency in other markets is another significant factor.

Now that Goldman is also trading with public funds from the Treasury the situation becomes even more outrageous.

Until the financial system is reformed there can be no sustainable recovery.

Bring back Glass-Steagall and honest, responsive, and transparent regulation of the markets.

Comment by mrktMaven
2008-11-17 08:05:19

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) — Investors in the $591 billion high- yield, high-risk loan market are accusing Goldman Sachs Group Inc. of naked short selling to profit from record price declines.

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Comment by hoz
2008-11-17 16:30:32


Bloomberg knows better. Just investment losers whining. A well run securities firm should always have positions opposite its customers. And should have positions against its own stock recommendations.

Evidence shows that if most customers are long XYZ, the firm is better off being short XYZ in the event XYZ is a collapsar. The firms lose commissions as the volume dries up, yet makes up for lost commission from their appreciating short position. If XYZ rises, the firm makes more money off commission than losses from its negative position.

Comment by NoSingleOne
2008-11-17 08:18:49

Bring back Glass-Steagall and honest, responsive, and transparent regulation of the markets.

B-b-but that means more government oversight on the virtuous free market! Capitalism is under attack by pinko commies! According to many posters here (not me), the problem was too much government intervention…

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Comment by ET-Chicago
2008-11-17 09:18:38

According to many posters here (not me), the problem was too much government intervention…

The Phil Gramm Is God crowd?

(With apologies to Eric Clapton.)

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 09:35:57

All it took was 1 Gramm of speedball loans, and we were hooked like bad meth-odd actors.

Comment by NoSingleOne
2008-11-17 11:46:26

Gramm is an example of the kind of idealogue that should be repudiated and humiliated publicly…the man should never work in public policy or lobbying again.

Ooops, I think that happened when he opened his big c0ckholster and McCain ripped him a new one. The man lives in an alternate reality viewed through Kool-Aid colored glasses. WTF is a “predatory borrower”? Didn’t he read the stories of underwriters bullied by WaMu and others into approving as many loans as possible?

How about the fact that when there was more regulation, the markets were mostly just fine? And when there wasn’t, Great Depression 2.0

What an @ssclown…

Comment by hd74man
2008-11-17 15:22:53

RE: Gramm is an example of the kind of idealogue that should be repudiated and humiliated publicly…the man should never work in public policy or lobbying again.

Phil says, “Blow me!”

Comment by hunkydory
2008-11-17 19:58:49

From the article:

“In 2002, Mr. Gramm left Congress, joining UBS as a senior investment banker and head of the company’s lobbying operation.

Mr. Gramm, now 66, who declined to discuss his compensation at UBS, picked an opportune moment to move to Wall Street. Major financial institutions, including UBS, were growing, partly as a result of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

Increasingly, institutions were trading the derivatives instruments that Mr. Gramm had helped escape the scrutiny of regulators. UBS was collecting hundreds of millions of dollars from credit-default swaps. (Mr. Gramm said he was not involved in that activity at the bank.) In 2001, a year after passage of the commodities law, the derivatives market insured about $900 billion worth of credit; by last year, the number had swelled to $62 trillion.

But as housing prices began to fall last year, foreclosure rates began to rise, particularly in regions where there had been heavy use of subprime loans. That set off a calamitous chain of events. The weak housing markets would create strains that eventually would have financial institutions around the world on the edge of collapse.

UBS was among them. The bank has declared nearly $50 billion in credit losses and write-downs since the start of last year, prompting a bailout of up to $60 billion by the Swiss government.”

Comment by Mormon_Tea
2008-11-17 08:22:18

“Bring back Glass-Steagall and honest, responsive, and transparent regulation of the markets.”

Good idea!

Also, let’s bring the financial war criminals back to reality by giving them fair and speedy public trials before their public executions.

It’s been said many times, “buy” when there is blood on the Street. I’ll consider putting some $$$ back into financial products after I see the mega-trillion dollar liars, manipulators, conspirators and thieves being punished with “extreme prejudice”.

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Comment by MEaston
2008-11-17 08:35:30

Seeing as Goldman sachs infects every financial branch of our gov, I’d say the chances of them being prosecuted are slim to none. It will take pitch forks and fire to fix this problem.

Comment by exeter
2008-11-17 08:53:01

These punks are nothing more than economic terrorists. Hang’em high.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2008-11-17 14:25:49

Hang’em high soundtrack-Main theme

Comment by AZ Resident
2008-11-17 09:22:55

Through an aggressive sales pitch, one of the top TARP cash recipients talked my wife into a new $5k overdraft line of credit at no cost to us. With no debt and plenty of cash in the bank, we are the perfect target customer for the big banks to increase their ‘lending’ - multiply these new credit lines by thousands of like kind customers, and they can show congress all of the new ‘loans’ they have extended with TARP money - and ‘forget’ to mention these are new ‘loans’ to people who did not ask for them, do not need them, and are very unlikely to use them. Of course if our financial position deteriorated to the point we might actually need this new credit, the bank could just cut or cancel the line. Has anybody else in a similar position received this sales pitch?

Comment by CrookCounty
2008-11-17 09:44:11

News for ‘AXP’ - (Lenders affected by customers defaulting on their credit cards)

Consumer credit card debt — driven by years of spend now and pay later — may be the next blow to the nation’s ailing economy.

A proposal by an alliance of financial industry interests — banks, brokerage firms, insurance agencies and consumer advocates — would have allowed as much as 40 percent of credit card debt to be forgiven for consumers who don’t qualify for existing repayment plans.

But allowing banks to defer debt wasn’t an option for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the agency that rejected the pilot plan on Wednesday.

The end result is that Americans are saddled by about $900 billion in credit card debt, according to the latest available Federal Reserve figures.

Credit card charge-off rates — the extent to which banks give up on collecting debt — rose to 6.8 percent in August, up 48 percent from a year earlier, according to Moody’s Investor’s Service.

Store-branded cards’ charge-offs reportedly rose 2.4 percentage points to 8.1 percent in the past year, reflecting the high interest of 20 percent or more that makes it harder for consumers to pay their bills, according to a report in USA Today.

Credit card debt can be bought and packaged and sold to investors in the form of securities, just like mortgages were. Those securities also can be vulnerable to defaults, said Lawrence Weinman, a Los Angeles-based financial advisor.

Treasury officials said they hoped to invest about $50 billion from the $700 billion bailout fund to help companies that issue credit cards, make student loans and finance car purchases. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said such a plan could be enacted in a few weeks.

Comment by CincyDad
2008-11-17 10:30:22

My bank (US Bank) made a similar sales pitch to me last Friday. Like you, I have little non-mortgage debt and money in the bank. I currently have an overdraft arrangement tied to my savings account, but there is a fee involved if its ever used. The tellar made a sales pitch for a new overdraft arrangement with much lower fees.

Not sure if US Bank participated in the TARP funds.

Comment by cassiopeia
2008-11-17 15:53:26

AZ, we haven’t received that kind of sales pitch, but we have a small personal checking, savings and investment accts. with a TARP recipient. My husband also has his corporate account with them. We usually got credit line offers, but now they are getting more frequent and they call us on the phone, especially since me moved some money out of Wachovia into this big bank. They keep reminding us we are already preapproved for 100K “low interest” whatever. Also, our credit cards just upped our credit limit without any previous request from us. We are NOT rich, I don’t get it.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 07:31:24

Back from an aladinsane Thanksgiving get together in the city of angles…

We picked a doozie of a weekend to celebrate, but were able to triptophane along with the failed-nation bird, as the failed-national economy got singed around the edges, locally.

Comment by Big V
2008-11-17 13:29:30

Did your siblings change their attitude toward the doom and gloom you dished out last Christmas?

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 13:42:13

It’s only beginning to dawn on them what’s going to happen, but denial still reigns supreme.

My sister is in the export-import business and until I told her what the Baltic-Dry-Index was, she had no idea…

We’ll take care of them when they reach bottom economically, but not until then.

This particular sister ended up ‘owning’ 2 houses, and when she loses both of them (1-2 years) we’ll help them out, but we aren’t interested in making payments on broken American Dreams, sorry.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 07:37:47

A bit of an Atrociti for 40,000 souls forgotten…

Comment by AK-LA
2008-11-17 07:44:09

You’re 13,000 souls too few. And the soulless retain their jobs.

Comment by Mormon_Tea
2008-11-17 08:33:24

Yes, but their future is not what it used to be.

Comment by AK-LA
2008-11-17 10:08:09

Yikes! Up to 75,000 exCiti folks now.

Comment by Frank Giovinazzi
2008-11-17 11:08:03

That’s about enough to start a city.

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Comment by AK-LA
2008-11-17 12:26:06

Whoops, it’s 75k for the year so far. Guess there was another 22k lost earlier this year.

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Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-17 17:44:50

Awww, what’s 22 thousand people suddenly rendered unemployed and struggling to pay their bills, here or there….
Oh. Wait.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 07:42:22

latest news
[HD] Home Depot shares down 1.5% in early trading

Target suspends buyback as net falls
By Andria Cheng, MarketWatch
Last update: 8:56 a.m. EST Nov. 17, 2008

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Target Corp. said Monday that its fiscal third-quarter profit dropped 24%, hurt by consumers paring back on discretionary spending and failing to make their credit card payments.

The No. 2 U.S. discount retailer also said it’s temporarily suspending its share repurchase plan and has cut its expected 2009 capital spending by $1 billion to preserve cash.

“The current environment and our financial outlook have naturally reduced our appetite for investment in our business, and we have also temporarily suspended substantially all of our share repurchase activity,” said Doug Scovanner, Target’s chief financial officer.

Comment by combotechie
2008-11-17 07:46:41

So Target buys it’s own stock when the price is high and stops buying when the price drops.


Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2008-11-17 09:39:56

Stopping repurchases makes GOOD sense when you need the cash more for other purposes—-like maybe surviving the downturn and avoiding BK.

I hope my company is smart enough to cancel our repurchase program…

Comment by Blano
2008-11-17 10:40:18

That’s what I was wondering, if they were signaling (unintentionally) a cash flow problem, or lousy business going forward. Otherwise, continued repurchases should be a no brainer it seems.

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Comment by Gulfstreamfixer
2008-11-17 15:46:22

Target is the new Neiman-Marcus.

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Comment by WT Economist
2008-11-17 08:12:27

Some time ago a Target opened in Brooklyn. It’s frequented by lots of low- and moderate-income people. The one time I went there, the register tape froze up, and I was told I would have to go to the office to get a receipt.

I waited in the office for a manager to be found to go on the computer and print my receipt. Right above the time clock was a big sign: “PUSH CREDIT.” That was the instruction to all the recently-hired clerks; get their struggling neighbors to get Target credit cards and go into debt.

“Hurt by consumers paring back on discretionary spending and failing to make their credit card payments.”

FYI, the consumers who are still making their credit card payments are having to cut their standard of living to pay the interest. So the U.S. standard of living is going down either way.

Perhaps the laws could be changed allowing children to be sold into slavery, and their future value to be securitized so it can be spent now.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 08:17:32

Whenever I get hit up by a scanner scammer about signing up for credit, I always mutter something like

“I’m sorry, the terms of my parole will not allow me that honorarium.”

Comment by Bill in Carolina
2008-11-17 08:21:57

“FYI, the consumers who are still making their credit card payments are having to cut their standard of living to pay the interest…”

Huh? Pay interest on a credit card? Who does that? :-)

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Comment by ann gogh
2008-11-17 08:21:23

How ’bout just giving kids a credit card?

If the cost living got more expensive when houses went up how will it look when we get our next batch of inflation?

‘Waking up’ is hard to do.

Comment by NoSingleOne
2008-11-17 08:26:18

Read Thomas Friedman’s NYTimes article Gonna Need a Bigger Boat, about how if people just start spending and going into debt again, an economic recovery can occur. I generally like Friedman, but I found his reasoning and logic, and the lack of well thought out arguments advocating this to be nauseating.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 09:00:53

His wife’s fortune (GGP malls) has lost around 99% of it’s value.

Married to an ex-heiress now.

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Comment by ButImNotDeadYet
2008-11-17 11:18:39

He must’ve read McCain’s economic stimulus plan…

Comment by ET-Chicago
2008-11-17 09:34:42

I’m usually right around 50/50 in agreeing with Friedman or thinking he’s shoveling horse manure.

His perspective is often simplistic, occasionally naive. Sometimes that approach provides clarity when examining a complex issue, sometimes it just makes him sound foolish.

He should leave the economic forays to Mr. Krugman.

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Comment by hip in zilker
2008-11-17 10:00:39
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Comment by aNYCdj
2008-11-17 19:14:25

sold about 6 million shares this year

he is doing alright…got out like the Tan man did!

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Comment by Asparagus
2008-11-17 08:52:51

There was a frightening new development at the Target this weekend. When I swipe my Debit card through the swipe machine, it then asks how many cards I want to use to make my purchase? I asked the cashier why it asked me that. She said it now asks everyone that question.

There must be a lot of people using multiple cards for them to change the software, and add those extra seconds on to the cashing out experience.

Comment by takingbets
2008-11-17 09:36:50

I saw that when I went there last week. The cashier had a cold and kept coughing, so I wanted to get away quickly and dident ask why that option was there. Thanks for the post.

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Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 11:00:48

Oh, the joy!

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Comment by AK-LA
2008-11-17 12:28:57

Terrifying! I believe that’s in the bible, a sign of the End Times.

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Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 16:24:27

In the Bible? Using more than one credit card? Is it in the part about Christmas? You know, the story of the wise guys and all that?

Comment by ET-Chicago
2008-11-17 09:40:31

Right above the time clock was a big sign: “PUSH CREDIT.” That was the instruction to all the recently-hired clerks; get their struggling neighbors to get Target credit cards and go into debt.

It seems like they’ve been increasingly aggressive in pushing their own credit cards. I get asked every time i check out.

During one recent visit, I had the cashier whine that I could put her over-the-top for some kind of performance bonus because she’d signed up X number of peeps in the previous month. I declined, of course.

Comment by SawItComing
2008-11-17 10:26:10

“Perhaps the laws could be changed allowing children to be sold into slavery, and their future value to be securitized so it can be spent now.”

The law already allows for this, it’s called “early enlistment”.

This is a govt program where 27 year olds convince 16-17 year old boys to enslave themselves by telling them fantastic tales of liberating foreign lands. They also offer them “money for college” knowing full well that college is not something this boy will do, especially when he is dead.

Uncle (Baron von Rothschild) Sam needs you!

Comment by Grateful
2008-11-17 11:18:37

If not for that my dumbass step wouldn’t have a job.

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Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 07:56:02

Unbeknownst to most of it’s citizenry, California is a hidden-away penal colony, Penitentiaries for profit.

Prisons in the Central Valley provide for most of the middle to upper-middle class jobs, so much so in fact, that there is a shortage of medical staff to serve us-citizens that have done no wrong, because the prisons offer as much as twice the salary a doctor might hope to earn, without the prospect of having to pay for malpractice insurance.

But it isn’t just doctors, as most everybody in the medical field here can earn more money catering to convicts, and a weird sort of hypocrite oath must exist between patients and them, i’d guess.

These prisons cost a tremendous amount of money to operate, and we are already seeing some states cut illegal alien convicts loose, as they can’t afford to keep them anymore.

California was $7 Billion in the red last month, and this month it’s quadrupled to $28 Billion.

Something’s gotta give…

“Thousands of inmates admit they’re in the U.S. illegally, but even those convicted of violent crimes are often released right back onto Houston’s streets.”

Comment by palmetto
2008-11-17 09:00:35

Crime and prisons are big business, that’s why nothing is done about illegal immigration.

Here’s some fallacious thinking:

“Many people see it as a profound insult when someone who is here without permission commits a heinous crime,” said Rebecca Bernhardt, director of policy development for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. “To be outraged at the individual who committed that crime is an appropriate response. But to be angry at everybody who is just here trying to work to support their family and comes from the same background as that defendant is a mistake.”

No, it’s actually not a mistake. First of all, this “trying to support their family” is, in a lot of ways, BS, given the fact that many of these “families” didn’t exist until the illegals got on US soil and THEN started the families. Second of all, the presence of the individual who committed the crime is facilitated directly or indirectly because of the alleged others who are “just here to work and support their families”.

In actuality, given that Mexico and some of the Central American countries are de facto governed by the drug and criminal cartels, we are at war, declared or not, as evidenced by the national parkland given over to grow operations. And, if anyone saw the segement on CBS evening news last week where Phoenix has exploded with cartel crime, the stark realization of what’s happening should begin to sink in.

We’ve got our own problems to deal with, without adding those from south of the border or anywhere else for that matter. A moratorium on all immigration would be a good idea right now, until things are sorted out. Some are also calling for de-criminalization or legalization of drugs, to take away the profit motive from the cartels. Wouldn’t it be a hoot (a bitter one) if the cartels had lobbyists in Washington to prevent this? Honest to God, it wouldn’t shock me.

Comment by Jon
2008-11-17 11:25:56

“Some are also calling for de-criminalization or legalization of drugs, to take away the profit motive from the cartels. Wouldn’t it be a hoot (a bitter one) if the cartels had lobbyists in Washington to prevent this? Honest to God, it wouldn’t shock me.”

The Cartels do have lobbyists to prevent this. It’s the police and prison guard unions. Little known secret, but if you have the time and interest, look who spends the most money on legislators when a state tries to decriminalize marijuana.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 11:51:00

12 states have voted in favor of medical-marijuana…

Prescription Happens

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Comment by SFrenter
2008-11-17 14:56:34

Not in the mood to start a big discussion about immigration BUT

if the SHTF big time and I wasn’t able to find work or feed my kids, and I had an option to sneak illegally into, say, Canada, I would go in a heartbeat.

Birds will fly to find food, animals will migrate when they are hungry, and so will people.

My grandmother came here 80 years ago from Europe for just that reason.

Comment by SFrenter
2008-11-17 14:57:39

And also,

When did you ancestors get here and why did they come?

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Comment by palmetto
2008-11-17 15:55:14

How’s tricks in Sanctuarycisco, where gang members are invited to feed on the citizenry?

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-17 17:49:41

‘When did you ancestors get here and why did they come?’

Well, my ancestors came here to shoot people, evidently, and pretty near the start of this here whole ‘America’ shebang, and then more recently some more also came over, also in order to shoot people, evidently.
I forget what happened after that.
Anyway, when did YOUR ancestors come over? Yeah, I thought so, you parvenue!

PS. As it happens, I am a great shot. Who could predict that?
I had a shooty weekend. I’m gonna’ tell Faster about it later. Hi, Faster!

Comment by Frank Giovinazzi
2008-11-17 11:14:02

Weren’t the Cali prison guards campaigning against a massive early release program for non-serious offenders?

Comment by cassiopeia
2008-11-17 16:07:42

Alad, my husband is a doctor. Medical pays him exactly $24 for a follow-up consultation at his office (if you count overhead, he works at a loss). Most doctors just run the other way when they get one of these patients, but my husband is a softie, he doesn’t turn anyone away. A while ago, although he is not contracted with the prison system, he got called for a very tough case of his specialty in an inmate. He could not believe how much they paid him, about $300. Not that they get that much for all their consults, but doctors who have contracts with prisons have sweet deals. The whole system is painfully messed up, and not only for prisons.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 16:35:20


It’s remarkable how the prisons have bought silence on the cheap by overpaying everybody that works there, isn’t it?

It’s a low-down crying shame…

Comment by hwy50ina49dodge
2008-11-17 07:56:05

I guess Phil & Wendy Graham have decided that Goldilocks cannot come out and play, …the last time she came home late from Starmucks, she said everyone was already whinning about only getting 8oz for a $1.00 :-)

Nice mug shot: ;-)

Comment by exeter
2008-11-17 08:51:09

Gramm spoke the truth on behalf of the wealthy elite. Message? Contempt for anyone who must work 40hrs+/week.

Comment by Dave of the North
2008-11-17 10:11:22

Uh - that’s an article from July - why post it now?

Comment by exeter
2008-11-17 10:13:12

There’s nothing wrong with reminding everyone of the contempt the supply side, trickle down economic terrorists have for us.

Comment by hwy50ina49dodge
2008-11-17 14:17:18


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Comment by NoSingleOne
2008-11-17 08:09:07

I was reading about the Panic of 1893, and the disadvantages of going on a gold or silver standard (bimetallism). I then reviewed the failures of Bretton Woods, which were blamed largely on the inability to inflate currency because of fixed gold reserves and its “threat to national security” due to a feared inability to finance the Vietnam War.

It seems that the consensus view of most economists (the Ron Paul crowd and some central banks of developing countries being a notable exception) that a return to the gold standard is a bad idea. Milton Friedman’s view of Monetarism apparently affected none other than Alan Greenspan, apparently a once passionate advocate of a return to the gold standard.

If you agree with Monetarism, then I am starting to see why so many “conservative and liberal” economists advocate bailouts to ‘jumpstart the economy’, as noted by Pres-elect Obama on 60 minutes last night. Unfortunately, I still don’t think I agree with Monetarism (a cornerstone of Reaganomics), but I’m still reading…

Comment by mrktMaven
2008-11-17 08:41:39

If Paulson, Bennie and the Jets (PB&J), were not propping up credit and money markets, Dow would already be at 5000, s&p at 600, and Nas at 1200. They couldn’t do it with a gold standard. We’d be in depression.

Comment by Carl Morris
2008-11-17 09:20:22

Other than the numbers on the tickertape, how would that be any different than the current situation?

Comment by WT Economist
2008-11-17 10:52:34

Then again, perhaps if the stock market reached that point, which seems like fair value to me, it would stop going down.

Comment by samk
2008-11-17 08:19:17

My latest issue of Discover magazine has an ad for “The Original Woodman’s Pal”. They claim it is the “Ideal personal/business gift!” With all the layoffs I tend to agree.

Comment by realestateskeptic
2008-11-17 08:59:58

All kidding aside, it is an awesome tool to have at our camp. Does many jobs well and when you are 15+ miles from any real town, multitasking saves trips!

Comment by mrktMaven
2008-11-17 08:20:02

The commodities bubble implosion is wrecking balance sheets and supply chains all across the globe. Soaring input commodity costs met unanticipated cliff diving sales. Unfortunately, might lead to civil unrest.

Comment by mrktMaven
2008-11-17 08:26:25

The Kremlin already faces a run on Russia’s banks as depositors rush to switch their roubles into dollars, despite the $200bn financial rescue package. Russia’s Globex bank suspended withdrawals by depositors on Wednesday. Kommersant newspaper reports that the deposit loss from rouble accounts reached 54pc at Sobinbank in October, 27pc at Globex, 25pc at Raiffeisenbank, 24pc at Unicredit, and 22pc at Alfa.

Russia must soon choose: either bleed its oil industry to death, or slash spending and face street riots. It is already mobilizing the apparatus of coercion. The Moscow Times bravely ran the headline “Police get orders to crush crisis unrest”.

Telegraph: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard — Russia’s banal reality…

Comment by Skip
2008-11-17 08:50:06

The Ruble crash of 10 years ago is still fresh on a lot of peoples minds.

Oil down below $56/barrel can’t be good for their financial economy either.

Comment by WhatOnceWas
2008-11-17 11:11:29

On CNBC from Moscow this morn..Vodka sales are down 25%. Reporter stated that is a sure sign we are in a recession, and trouble ahead…..

Comment by Skroodle
2008-11-17 12:35:55

CNBC’s Erin somthingorother is broadcasting from Moscow. Evidently, GM car sales are up because people are afraid to keep their money in banks and prefer to put it into a GM car.

Comment by Big V
2008-11-17 18:58:30

Don’t tell NYChick. She’s still got her head in the clouds thinking her $$ is safe in Moscow real estate (an apartment, no less).

Comment by Blue Skye
2008-11-17 08:26:28


Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-17 13:34:39

Nice one.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 08:26:30

We were surrounded by human beans in the city of angles over the weekend, and a weird thing happened…

The fires caused the closures of more freeways @ the same time, more than anybody in my family could remember.

As a result, people tried to get around on city streets, and traffic was snarled all weekend.

Imagine if the fires had broke out during the week?

Pandemonium averted…

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 11:18:23

Human beans = they f@rted a lot?

Comment by Big V
2008-11-17 19:03:17

No, they will make you fart if you eat them. The only question remaining is how alad knows this about these particular people.

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Comment by NoSingleOne
2008-11-17 08:36:27

People used to take to the streets because they couldn’t feed their families…now they will be taking to the streets because they can’t afford Blu-Ray DVDs and Plasma TVs?

Comment by michael
2008-11-17 09:09:32

yep…at least until the chinese stop funding our debt binge.

i think the $ 750 billlion stimulus package implemented by the chinese government to improve infrastructure is a step in this direction.

Comment by cksh
2008-11-17 08:27:04

Since no one on this board is helping out our automakers by going out and buying the biggest SUV they can find, with credit that does not exist, and non-exsitent equity, I have been forced to go after your tax dollars.

Make sure you call up your rep’s and tell them to vote yes for the auto bailout!

Seriously though, everyone here in Detroit that I have talked to is pretty certain of the bailout happening. I work for a tier one supplier and have been working with GM a little more closely then I like. It will be interesting to see all of these billions vanish overnight.

On one hand I didn’t really care if we got the money since they are throwing away our tax money on everyone else. Might as well get our slice of the pie. But on the other hand I do want to see them reorganize and BK is the only way that’s going to happen.

Go help a future unemployed auto engineer and buy that suv today!! You could be priced out forever!!

Comment by Blano
2008-11-17 09:25:39

There does seem to be a certain inevitability about some kind of bailout. Frankly, I think if say Chrysler went belly up the others would fill the void, or demand would then be closer to supply. Neither would be bad methinks.

I work for an itty bitty auto supplier over by Metro Airport and I’m spending more time trying to collect some of our receivables than I like. My biggest problem right now is Ford. Chrysler actually has beenn paying pretty good lately (knock on wood). Unfortunately our work for them might be drying up soon.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 09:37:46

I would liken all of the auto industry to that 3-headed hound of the underground…

Comment by Dave of the North
2008-11-17 10:15:45

Well, Cerberus has found Chrysler a bit too much to swallow, and is trying to cough it back up.

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Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 10:28:28

The GM-Chrylser dealer in Glenwood Springs, Colorado just went belly up. This is a well-heeled town, near Aspen.

Comment by In Colorado
2008-11-17 13:31:14

I’m waiting for the ones in the new Centerra auto mall in Loveland to do the same. I can’t even begin to imagine the amounts of cash those dealers must be burning through to keep those Taj Mahals open. The Ford dealer wisely chose to pass and instead did a modest remodel at their old “legacy” dealership in town.

Comment by Cassandra
2008-11-17 12:17:14

I recently rent a Chevy Cobalt, and a Chevy Malibu. Both very finely engineered (mechanically) in my opinion. But the damned things were so uncomfortable. After 4 hours in the Cobalt, I need a chiropractor. I don’t like sitting fighter pilot style, with my legs crammed down a little tube.

So I will stick with my ‘87 accord. Been a Honda guy all my life, but those chevy’s sure drove nice.

Comment by laughing boy
2008-11-17 08:36:11

This past weekend, wife and i took a drive down to Monterey and Carmel. The number of realtor/for sale signs was a sight to behold. Even along 17-mile drive through Pebble Beach. And in the local paper, the listings were endless. Lots of places listed as “Newly priced at…” (they don’t seem to like the word ‘reduced’). Of course, most of the places are obscenely overpriced still, but what an eye opener.

Comment by rms
2008-11-17 13:26:54

“…along 17-mile drive through Pebble Beach.”

I thought those homes were, “If you have to ask how much then you can’t afford it.” I always figured they would be exclusive listings; putting a For Sale sign in front of those kind of places is rather tacky isn’t it?

Comment by AdamCO
2008-11-17 08:36:47

In this mountain town, sales are at a standstill. I just calculated supply based on sales since January 1, ‘08. SIXTEEN AND A HALF YEARS! So, if no one lists a house between now and 2024, the existing inventory MIGHT clear out. What a joke!

Comment by AdamCO
2008-11-17 08:37:58

In this mountain town, sales are at a standstill. I just calculated supply based on sales since January 1, ‘08. SIXTEEN AND A HALF YEARS of inventory! So, if no one lists a house between now and 2024, the existing inventory MIGHT clear out. What a joke!

Comment by ET-Chicago
2008-11-17 11:11:01


Sweet Jeebus, that’s what I call a backlog.

I thought it was different with a Rocky Mountain View.

Comment by SFrenter
2008-11-17 15:02:37

Hate to say it, but SFH in San Fran are still selling.

In my neighborhood, it takes about 40-60 days, but they get sold, and not anywhere near cheap.

14% decrease is a drop in the bucket when everything is still at least $700K.

Where are these people getting the money??

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 09:02:40

Nouveau word for the day:

Heirorrist: Someone formerly rich, based upon a previous generation’s largess.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 09:30:19


The Heirorrists are getting bolder and bolder with their attacks on Hedge-Funds, and authorities are at a loss, as to whom blame most for these heinous crimes upon humanity.

Somebody bettor ’smoke em’ out’ before they are even more emboldened over.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 09:46:43

p.s. to the p.s.:

If you lost just a plebian amount of money, you are a mere:


Comment by ET-Chicago
2008-11-17 13:50:58

Heirorrists and Nouveau Richies alike are taking it on the chin and selling off various treasures. The venerable art auction houses aren’t always seeing the prices they expect for such objets:

Late Friday afternoon Sotheby’s, the a public company, reported that it had lost $28.2 million from guarantees at its contemporary art auctions last week. That brought its total losses to about $52 million this fall, all from guarantees. Executives at Christie’s, which is a private company and therefore not obligated to release its finances, also admitted to having lost millions of dollars …

… Tobias Meyer, head of Sotheby’s contemporary-art department and the company’s chief auctioneer, said prices for contemporary art had fallen to around 2006 levels and in some cases 2004 and 2005 levels.


Comment by David
2008-11-17 09:38:21

I have been thinking a lot about the inflation versus deflation issue that has been debated here quite often; here is my theory.
The way our economy is structured, the vast majority of dollars flow directly or indirectly to the richest 1%; this is true even before the bailout. The $700 billion bailout is structured so that the vast majority of the money is going to rich bankers. Also a huge amount of money is going to Opec dictators, and Chinese industrialists.
The deflationists have reasoned we wont see much inflation because there is no way for wages to increase with competition from overseas. The inflationists have argued that the money supply has been doubled and inflation is inevitable. I think its possible to have a rapibly expanding money supply without inflation, if all this money is going to the richest 1%. They will tend to hoard the money rather than spend it. There are only so many things a billionaire can buy.
We are going to see the middle class becoming increasingly squeezed, and increasingly spend a greater portion of their income on essentials. Mexico is perhaps a model for the US future.
My best prediction would be inflation for the essentials and deflation for discretionary goods. But at the same time, there will be wild swings in the prices of everything in unpredictable ways that will tend to wipe out nearly everyone.
One last thought about gold. The gold bugs may very well be right that hyperinflation is inevitable. But gold wont necessarily be a hold of value either. Just because it was used as money in the past, does not mean it will be used as money in the future. Hungry people dont want a metal; they want to eat. I have given gold coins to several young people to interest them in gold and saving, and the first thing they ask is how much its worth and where they can sell it. They want cash to go buy junk, or pay off debt. So i usually just end up trading them 80% of the equivalent cash for the coin.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 09:56:19

I’d rather take my chances with something that has stood the test of time financially for thousands of years, vs. johnny-come-lately promise-sorry notes that have worked for just 75 years…

It’s a no-brainer.

Comment by friar john
2008-11-17 13:27:04

The world never had 6 billion people before. Answer me this, if the total amount of gold was evenly distributed amongst the 6 billion, how much would each person get?

Comment by Muir
2008-11-17 10:38:08

No money, no inflation—the role of money in the economy
warning PDF
“Few empirical regularities in economics are so well
documented as the co-movement of money and inflation.
Chart 2 shows that this relationship is true for broad
money as well as the monetary base. The other side of
the coin to this close relationship between money and
prices is the absence of a long-run relationship between
money and output growth, shown in Chart 3. Over the
30-year horizon 1968–98, the correlation coefficient
between the growth rates of both narrow and broad
money, on the one hand, and inflation, on the other, was

Comment by watcher
2008-11-17 11:15:00

You can’t apply your test with a trained consumer and expect them to understand the value of gold. Try it with someone in Argenina and you will get a different reaction. Or wait a year and try it again in the US of debt.

As for hoarding fiatscos, many things can be hoarded.

The mainland is seriously considering a plan to diversify more of its massive foreign-exchange reserves into gold, a person familiar with the situation told The Standard.

Riyadh: There has been an unprecedented demand for gold in the Saudi market recently, with over 13 billion Saudi riyals (equivalent to US $3,466,667,946) (Dh12.75 billion) being spent on the yellow metal during the last two weeks

Comment by jsocal
2008-11-17 12:25:29

how does a billionaire “hoard” money?
under the mattress or behind the Kandinsky?

Comment by cactus
2008-11-17 12:33:27

The bankers can move the big bailout money to the middle class by lending but I think many of these potential borrowers have bad credit now or just can’t afford to borrow more. Some of them never did borrow much and certainly won’t now with job loss worries. Big problem for sales taxes as money velocity slows way down. I think inflation in other forms of taxes and deflation in everything else. Probably inflation in health care though.

Gold will be handy if the Government decides to just give money away bypassing banks altogether. Like banks gave money away on home loans causing hugh RE inflation.

I don’t think the government will give too much money away because they are broke.

Comment by ann gogh
2008-11-17 15:02:07

I just passed on an inch sized golden nugget to my brother that was given to my grandma by a yukon miner. Anyway, i wanted to keep it in the family and not cash it out. it’s going to end up with my nephew eventually. Kool.

Lad, tell my cuz you know his cuz and ask him about our grandma.

Comment by BubbleViewer
2008-11-17 09:45:34

Youtube video showing the Detroit newspaper from Sunday, Nov. 16 with 137 pages of foreclosures. As the guy says, “and this is BEFORE the Big 3 go under.”

Wayne County Foreclosures

Comment by Blano
2008-11-17 10:35:49

And only one county out of six.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2008-11-17 14:51:49

Wow. That video does make quite an impression, or at least did on me. Lots of people either hurting, or walking away from bad investments represented by the pages.

It reminds me of a clarifying moment for me back in 2005 or so, when I flipped through like 20-odd pages of color, quarter-page ads for new condos in the RE section of my local paper, and thought back to how many years I had flipped through the same paper with ZERO pages of such ads. It hit me like a bolt just how badly things were going to end.

Maybe the foreclosure listings & other public notices will help keep newspapers in business for a few more years??

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2008-11-17 10:59:54

GM has taken out a full page ad in The Oregonian today (and, I assume, in every large city’s paper):

The Auto Industry Matters - Telling it like it is
-One out of every 10 people in America is employed in a service that is related to the US auto industry. If a plant closes, so does its suppliers…. (shouldn’t that be “so do its suppliers”?)
-Nearly 3 million jobs would be lost in the first year, 2.5 million over the next two.
-Personal income in the US would drop by more than $150B in first year.
-Cost to local, state, fed gov’ts could reach $156B over 3 years in lost taxes, unemployment, and health care assistance.
-Domestic auto production would likely go to zero, even by international producers, due to supplier bankruptcies.
-There are 14,000 US brand car dealers in the US, employing 740K, with a total payroll of $35B.

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2008-11-17 11:11:45

If it is such an important industry, then why did it waste three decades producing crap?

Comment by Jon
2008-11-17 11:42:02

One man’s crap is another man’s Escalade!

While I don’t want to defend the US auto industry in any way, I strongly support the notion of the US having a healthy one. Personally, I think the auto industry should be bankrupted, the debt should be liquidated, split up, and some hot-shot engineers should be made CEOs of the new companies.

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Comment by edgewaterjohn
2008-11-17 12:09:50

At least that’s a fresh approach. The status-quo is a no-go.

Comment by MEaston
2008-11-17 12:15:17

Engineers work for a living, we can’t reward work and creativity.

It will be bankrupt
Then some Hedge fund with free money from the FED will buy it up, and sell it’s pieces to China.

Comment by DennisN
2008-11-17 13:10:35

No such advert in the Idaho Statesman….

I wonder whether that “one out of every 10 people” includes farmers growing corn for ethanol and service people in hotels and restaurants.

Comment by The Housing Wizard
2008-11-17 14:30:37

Ok,the only way car company bail outs will work is for a
requirement for small cheap energy savings cars to be produced . Than the government would have to give tax credits to anyone who buys a domestic car . In other words ,along with the bail out you have to insure demand to keep a industry going . You could ask
Americans to buy domestic cars to help America ,but I don’t know how much response you would get with a campaign like that .

At one time Real Estate created a lot of jobs also ,but that isn’t the case anymore . Question is ,what industries are needed and
what industries will there be demand in and those will be the ones that the jobs will end up being in .

I guess construction workers could shift to other forms of construction and road and bridge and energy source building .
I think bringing back manufacturing to America in general for all type of products will be necessary for the amount of job creation that is really needed .We all know who is going to fight that solution .

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Comment by SFrenter
2008-11-17 15:06:44

1 out of every 8 Americans has worked at McDonalds at one point in their life, too.

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Comment by Stan_the_man_at_6700_ft
2008-11-17 14:18:23

Smart people don’t buy a GM.

Comment by Carlos Cisco
2008-11-17 15:43:52

Saw a woman pull out of a private school circular drive after dropping off her kid today. She looked like a tiny doll behind the wheel of her block long SUV, looked like a stretch escalade. I hadnt seen one in our bugh since earlier this year. I’d forgotten just how large they are; extravagant waste of energy for the purpose served. Like the massive houses built in our little town in the last 10 years; 6000 dwellings, 13000 citizens; you do the math, Im taking a nap.

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Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 16:29:55

Maybe she lives in it.

Comment by jrm1493
2008-11-17 22:00:32

pretty narrow minded, so I guess your VW, BMW, MB, Lexus or Honda is perfect, right? (those are they typical cars that white pricks seem to drive, since we’re generalizing). I’m sure if you read this you’ll reply that they are indeed perfect, and that may be true, but no car lasts forever. Just remember, the really smart and frugal people drive cars till they die, no matter the brand, do you even keep your fancy cars that long or do you get a new one every 5 years?

I’ve owned 2 GM’s a Ford and a Honda. They have all have their share of minor problems, never had a major one with any of the 4 cars (meaning original engines and trannies), and I have more miles on the american cars than I ever got on the Honda (it was totaled with 90k). It was a good car but no better than any of the American cars. My father in law has a GM with over 300k (Astro van) and over 250k (Chevy truck)… of course neither is perfect but the fact that they are still going strong at that mileage means that aren’t as bad as everyone seems to want them to be.

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Comment by hunkydory
2008-11-17 15:27:27

This is an ideal time to rethink the auto dealerships. None of them make any attempt to hide the fact that they would like to pick you up by your ankles and remove every last shekel from your pockets.

Why should any business take the time and effort to create their marvels of engineering and ergonomics, and then hand them over to a bunch of 3-card-monte experts set on charging your potential customers a 25% premium before allowing them to make their purchase? Those aren’t company men with skillsets unique to Ford or GM: they are sheisters whoring themselves out to whichever dealership happens to be employing them.

Everyone bought a new car in the past couple years: it went hand in hand with the housing bubble. All of the refi’ers I know went out and bought or leased their nicest new car ever. There is just as big a new car inventory overhang as there is a real estate one. People are finally thinking about ways to make every dollar count. One way that immediately comes to mind is to not give it away to some unapologetic thief doing commission-based sales.

Try switching “auto dealership” with “real estate agency”, “car” with “house”, and “salesmen” with “pit of vipers” or “den of thieves”. :-)

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2008-11-17 11:09:09

Has anyone seen Fleck’s column over on MSN Money today?

Scary stuff.

He says the Fed’s debt went from 6% to 20% of GDP in just a couple of months. He compared that to Japan where it took an entire decade to go from 9% to 29%.

Stuff is moving really fast, at what point do the wheels come off?

Comment by michael
2008-11-17 12:50:39

“…at what point do the wheels come off?”

when foreign governments stop lending us money.

only then.

when that happens is anyone’s guess.

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2008-11-17 11:29:39

More proof that people suck.

Boats next to be tossed overboard

“Boats have long been a barometer of consumer confidence, disposable income and the overall state of the economy. Now, marina and harbor officials are reporting a sudden increase in the past year in the number of deserted pleasure boats and working vessels.
“Oil, gasoline and sewage from these boats leaks into the aquatic environment,” said Sejal Choksi, program director at San Francisco Baykeeper, an environmental organization. Boat paint often contains chromium, lead, mercury and other toxic chemicals, and as a vessel deteriorates, the coating flakes off and settles on the sea floor or river bottom, where fish swallow it, Choksi said.”

Some species have colorful feathers. Some have melodic vocals. Humans? To appear attractive to others, well, we buy boats.

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-17 13:41:46

Just down the road from me, over in Gallagher Cove, some utter asshat had a giant, and I mean GIANT vessel just sitting there slowly decaying into Totten Inlet waters for like fookin’ forever.

“Derelict vessel turned to scrap”

You know what? I agree with you, sleepless. People really DO suck.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 16:46:27

Add abandoned boats to vacant houses as an oversupply issue for the asset ownership economy.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 11:33:33

Letter from Iceland

Picture a pig trying to balance on a mouse’s back and you’ll get some idea of the scale of the problem. In a mere seven years since bank deregulation and privatisation, Iceland’s financial institutions had managed to rack up $75bn of foreign debt. In his address to the nation, Haarde put the problem in perspective by referring to the $700bn financial rescue package in America: “The huge measures introduced by the US authorities to rescue their banking system represent just under 5 per cent of the US GDP. The total economic debt of the Icelandic banks, however, is many times the GDP of Iceland.”

Comment by jeff saturday
2008-11-17 11:42:58

quote by Bill Fleckenstein
“Greenspan created a multiple-GDP-sized housing bubble, during which folks took on huge amounts of debt instead of actually saving money. It was only ridiculous financing (which has since imploded the banking system) that allowed so many folks to pay absurd prices for houses — and take money out of them at the same time via home-equity loans.

Of course, one of the most misguided government ideas was trying to prop up home prices. (Secretary Hank Paulson essentially conceded as much last Wednesday when he announced that the Treasury Department was abandoning its plan to purchase troubled mortgage assets.)

House prices need to come down to where folks can afford them. And prices may have to fall even further than we might have thought in the first place, because there’s going to be high level unemployment and probably not a lot of wage growth.

This is going to be a very unpleasant period, I’m sorry to say. The outcome we are witnessing is exactly why, during both the stock mania and the housing mania, I was so vociferous in my criticism of Greenspan. He is the one man who continually meddled with the market and continually advocated that folks behave in an irresponsible way.

I find it outrageous that this buffoon is still making speeches (and commanding huge fees) when the entire country, and perhaps the world, is paying for his crimes against finance. “

Comment by rms
2008-11-17 13:42:35

Greenspan, like Wolfowitz, had to sacrifice a career and reputation for a higher purpose.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 15:16:45

“(Secretary Hank Paulson essentially conceded as much last Wednesday when he announced that the Treasury Department was abandoning its plan to purchase troubled mortgage assets.)”

Wall Street Journal
* NOVEMBER 17, 2008, 4:35 P.M. ET

Paulson Unlikely to Launch New Rescue Programs

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is unlikely to use what remains of the $700 billion rescue fund to launch any substantial new programs, preferring instead to keep some money in reserve and preserve flexibility for the incoming administration.

In an interview, Mr. Paulson said he’s thinking about how the remaining $410 billion could be best utilized, but that he doesn’t plan to tap it unless a need arises.

“I’m going to do what we need to do to keep the system strong but I’m not going to be looking to start up new things unless they’re necessary, unless they make great sense,” Mr. Paulson said. “I want to preserve the firepower, the flexibility we have now and those that come after us will have.”

Comment by vozworth
2008-11-17 11:43:04

define save the krill, whales the usess.

for the ambiguiously impaired.
Please maintain for our personal use those who rent money, cry out the money lenders.

Comment by clue
2008-11-17 20:50:44

define, “save the krill, whales the useless”.

learn some syntax, idiot.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 11:57:59

Pakistan just got bailed out by the IMF and I hear Freedonia is up next for filthy lucre, on the house.

Comment by Mormon_Tea
2008-11-17 15:23:55

Oh no, not Duck Soup for dinner again?

Where’s Rufus T. Firefly when we need him?

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 12:08:38

I was at a friend’s pawnshop in L.A. this past weekend…

He had like 19 Rolexes in a display case, and told me he had just as many more in the vault.

This is a store that used to have 2 or 3 “Pawnshop Rolexes” (old tired watches with droopy links, etc) that were in the display cases as more of an attempt to let people know they could hock theirs, if needbe.

I’ve bought and sold many Rolexes over the years, but I haven’t kept current with the market, and my friend told me that interest is way off, all over the world.

I guess that most people have figured out that the quartz watch that comes gratis with a happy-meal @ McDonald’s, tells exactly the same time as any other time-piece…

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 12:27:55

I hope that you never find yourself on the 7:00am Metro-North train headed to Connecticut on a weekday.

During the boom, they were ALL wearing these absurd penile-substitutes.

Comment by cactus
2008-11-17 12:38:36

Why wear a watch? My cell phone tells time pretty good.

Comment by michael
2008-11-17 13:04:08

why use a cell phone…the sun tells time pretty good.

so do complete strangers.

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Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 15:49:52

Who cares what time it is? :)

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 16:17:58

You win the prize for the best response.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 16:23:09

Time is so overrated until you run out of it.

Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 16:33:33

What’s the prize, a flippin’ Rolex?? :)

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 16:41:32

Even better. A “Times Square” Rolex!

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2008-11-17 17:37:33

As I was walking down the street one day
A man came up to me and asked me what the time was that was on my watch, yeah
And I said

Does anybody really know what time it is
Does anybody really care
If so I cant imagine why
Weve all got time enough to cry

And I was walking down the street one day
A pretty lady looked at me and said her diamond watch had stopped cold dead
And I said

Does anybody really know what time it is
Does anybody really care
If so I cant imagine why
Weve all got time enough to cry

And I was walking down the street one day
Being pushed and shoved by people trying to beat the clock, oh, no I just dont know
I dont know
And I said, yes I said

People runnin everywhere
Dont know where to go
Dont know where I am
Cant see past the next step
Dont have time to think past the last mile
Have no time to look around
Just run around, run around and think why

Does anybody really know what time it is
Does anybody really care
If so I cant imagine why
Weve all got time enough to die

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-17 17:54:52

That is a fookin’ depressing song. Crying and dying? Jeeze, man, let’s have a song where there’s time enough to eat ice-cream cones and make cotton candy.
Oh, hey, everyone, guess, what! I got a cotton candy machine the other day! I et about a ton of sugar already, and only scorched myself once. Okay, twice, but I didn’t care.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2008-11-17 18:36:26


My parents one year bought for all of us kids a cotton candy machine. It came with the paper cones. Needless to say we burnt the engine out from over use. We also experimented with adding a food coloring to the sugar to see what colors would be spun.

Comment by hunkydory
2008-11-17 20:34:54

oh no OlyGal! Your sugar rushes were dangerous enough: now you have your own still! And on top of this weekends caffeine experimentations…

Everyone please keep your hands outside the cage, and please no flash photography as it may cause her to startle!

This can only end badly… :-)

Comment by clue
2008-11-17 20:52:23

Im just sittin hear watchin the wheels go round and round…

say it isnt so.

Comment by hip in zilker
2008-11-17 13:07:28

I went to a bike shop in off Barton Springs Rd (S. Central Austin) to buy a stronger bike lock and new gloves yesterday. On a gorgeous sunny temperate autumn day, there must have been at least 12 employees and maybe 2 or 3 customers. The greeter actually expressed delight that I picked up a basket on the way in - as if he was thinking “an actual sale (even a mere basket-sized one), yahoo!!”

I saw, at the Pawn Shop next door, a long-haired guy getting a seriously professional-looking banjo out of his trunk. Sad - I felt like I was seeing yet another bit of Austin getting crushed under the condo towers.

Oh well, the coming influx of newcomers buying the $500,000 - $8 million dollar condos will surely be able to buy lots of bikes and hang on to Rolexes and banjos. I hear that they have so much money that 100s of thousands of dollars means nothing to them.

Comment by jrm1493
2008-11-17 22:15:32

I pray there will always be some of the Austin weirdness, but it seems to be vanishing slowly every time I’m back there (but its still definitely there). I think the economic collapse can only help, the off-the grid hippies won’t even notice.

I wish there was a job in Austin that I wanted to do (I went to UT and miss Austin every day). At least I’m only 3 hours away by car.

Comment by watcher
2008-11-17 14:16:42

I wouldn’t pass up a double red seadweller at a reasonable price. But I prefer seiko divers.

Comment by Stan_the_man_at_6700_ft
2008-11-17 14:14:50

Good news: Our local ski area has had a record year for pass sales. Ski your troubles away?

Comment by hwy50ina49dodge
2008-11-17 14:45:37

“…New York- based Goldman is acting against its clients by trying to profit at their expense, the investors said.”

Goldman Targeted by Investor Complaints of Naked Short-Selling:

They probably didn’t have this author in their Graduate MBA classes: :-)

“It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience”
Thoreau… circa 1849

Comment by hunkydory
2008-11-17 15:52:55

Wow. That is PAULSON’S company. The one he worked at since 1974. The one he chaired since its IPO in 1999. The one that used one hand to accept $12billion in bailout money, then used the other to dole out 14 billion in bonuses.

It’s hard to believe the leader of that particular corporate cult is our blank-check Treasury Secretary. This will all look insanely transparent (and transparently insane) to my 3 year old nephew when he’s studying it from a 6th grade US History textbook in the near future…. WTF…

Comment by SFrenter
2008-11-17 14:46:41

One of my credit cards (Chase) just gave me a $7,000 increase. I didn’t ask for it, won’t use it. Pay my card off every month.

Then last week I also got a notice from Capital One VISA for a 0% for one year on all transfers.

Are they offering these deals to everyone or just folks like me? (not to brag, but my credit score is 810).

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 16:20:56

The problem with the people who get all these “transfers” is that they have no balances to transfer.

The whole system is designed for dumb and dumber.

Comment by dude
2008-11-17 14:53:46

Thanks to all who participated in my anniversary gift discussion yesterday in BB.

Wifey is currently in high intensity training with an undisclosed public entity so unfortunately travel is out, that was the easy answer and I was planning a trip to Israel, or Chile, or NZ.

I probably will go with a shiny gift, I like the service ideas as well, but I do my best as is to pamper her, so short of signing a contract to cease and desist farting in bed I’m afraid there’s not a whole lot more I could do in that arena.

Thanks much again, I’ll be sure to blog my results.

Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 16:35:02

Dude, I think you may need to go up to 40k on that gift.

Comment by dude
2008-11-17 16:48:24

Have you been talking to my wife?

Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 18:26:57

No, never, and she DIDN’T promise me a cut… :)

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Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 16:52:45

For mere flatulence?

No, that’s par for the bean course.

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-17 17:57:54

‘Thanks much again, I’ll be sure to blog my results.’

Yeah, you be sure to do that, Mr. Stinky. Jeeze, what, are you channeling a golden labrador?
Ooooh, that unkind remark makes me miss my doggie. Murphy, Murphy, we knew ye well…ah, shoots, he’s smelling up Heaven now.

Comment by dude
2008-11-17 21:09:01

I’m not ashamed of my inner Labrador.

Comment by Mormon_Tea
2008-11-17 15:19:38

The Boyz in Brazil may really be killing themselves in the market:

When I was working at the Comex early 1980,
a Brazilian working the Sugar ring at the CSCE (Coffee, Sugar, Cocoa Exchange), which were then all at the World Trade Center, went broke. He threw a dead piranha into the ring his last day there. Some sort of symbolism.
“Security” back then was about non-existant.

Comment by mrktMaven
2008-11-17 15:35:19

They were not going to get it anyway.

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) — The Bush administration told congressional aides it won’t ask lawmakers to release $350 billion remaining as part of the $700 billion U.S. financial- rescue package, people familiar with the matter said.

Comment by hwy50ina49dodge
2008-11-17 16:04:12

India…not only a population problem.

Cool graphics!:

Comment by takingbets
2008-11-17 16:06:59

Fed’s Hoening: Fed has done “as much as it can”

Kansas City Federal Reserve President Thomas Hoenig said on Monday the U.S. central bank has done what it can to buffer the economy through a downturn, and a painful process of readjustment is likely ahead.

Comment by hunkydory
2008-11-17 16:11:32

another proud addition to the Bush legacy: arbitrarily deciding to stop kicking the financial rescue can down the street and leaving it for the new administration. I guess it happens to any short-timer getting ready to leave a job: it’s hard to concentrate when all you can think about is relaxing at your new Argentina ranch with neighbor Rev. Sun Myung Moon and a pitcher of mojitos. I’ve seen it a hundred times…

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 16:16:34

Someday you will realize that this is the biggest gift to the taxpayer ever.

By the time the Messiah rolls in, sets up his plans, tries and pitches it to the public, etc., we’ll be in late-Feb or March.

Too late to try and rail this flaming trainwreck by then.

Comment by dude
2008-11-17 16:50:24

Have you ever seen a rolling trainwreck miraculously re-railed?

Me neither.

Comment by Olympiagal
2008-11-17 18:00:26

‘Have you ever seen a rolling trainwreck miraculously re-railed?’

Nope, but I’m ready to see this thing of which you speak. But FIRST I want to see the rolling train-wreck happen. I like a good spectacle.
And look! Ask and ye shall receive! BWAHAHAHAHAHA! *cough*
It’s not the same when I do it.

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Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 19:39:18

“But FIRST I want to see the rolling train-wreck happen. I like a good spectacle.”

It’s happening, if in slow-mo. The latest evidence is the 52K layoff announcement from C today, to add to 23K already announced. So 75K of C’s employees will soon be out of work, and this is just a small share of the carnage…

Comment by hunkydory
2008-11-17 19:37:13

then what was the benefit or utility to all this market tampering and debt creation? HP & BB managed to protect their respective interests, and free their cronies suitcases from the trains flaming luggage car.

Now the message seems to have shifted, from “we’re doing everything humanly possible to prop this confidence game” to “we’re out of ideas and are now busy packing our bags and ripping copper from our office walls”.

Where does that leave us? What signal does that send to the foreign nations who sell us all our stuff and prop up our currency? Is this their cue to run for the exits too?

Comment by hoz
2008-11-17 16:43:57

Thanksgiving Dinner:


Post Millennial NV Bubbly
Chateau Kerviel, Cremant de Bourgogne
Brazilian Blood-Orange Emerging Market Caprinha
Crunchy Xmas Punch (Vodka + Kool-Aid)

* * * *

First Course

Sashimi Fillet of Quant Arbitrageur
Northern Rockfish Fricasee
Grilled-Icelandic Shrimp Cocktail
Swiss [Bank] Mini-Fondue

* * * *


Short-Squeezed Lemon-Lime Sorbet

* * * *

Main Course

Corn-Fed Not-So-Prime Sirloin Roast
TARPfish Brochettes (avec sauce surprise)
HF Manager’s Po’ Boy Special (with redemption sauce)
Mrs Watanabe’s “Inside-Out” Carry-Trade Dragon Rolls (ZIRP filling)
Lehman-AIG Surf-n-Turf

served with…

Fully-Coupled Asian Mercantile Gratin
Julienne of Private Equity & Emerging Markets
Roasted Commodities of the Day (halved or quartered)

* * * *


Congressional Oversight Pudding
Destagflationary Tarte w/creme anglaise
Crepes Distressee
Unemployment Souffle

* * * *

Cioffi & T+1
Petits Two’s

from Cassandra

Comment by dude
2008-11-17 17:29:17

Welcome home, Hoz.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2008-11-17 17:45:12


Good to see you posting again. Hope everything is well with you.

Comment by bluprint
2008-11-17 17:59:50

hoz! I was just wondering about you like 5 minutes ago.

Good to see you back.

Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 18:28:10

Hozzie’s back!!

Comment by clue
2008-11-17 19:19:23

that was filling,

but, I think I’ve got room for a waif(er) thin mint condition.

Comment by clue
2008-11-17 19:21:16

laddy, Im callin ya out.

Comment by Big V
2008-11-17 19:45:35

HOooozzzziieeeeee !!!!

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 16:47:42

Paulson fades Paulson…

Financial Times
Paulson hedge fund buys into mortgage securities
By Henny Sender in New York

Published: November 17 2008 23:34 | Last updated: November 17 2008 23:34

John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who was called before Congress last week to discuss the big profits he made by foreseeing the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, has started to buy securities backed by residential mortgages.

Mr Paulson’s move marks the latest example of a famously bearish investor shifting gears to profit from depressed prices in the global credit markets.

US residential mortgage securities fell in value last week after Hank Paulson, Treasury secretary, said that the federal government had decided against buying toxic assets as part of its $700bn troubled asset relief programme (Tarp).

John Paulson, who is not related to the Treasury secretary, has told his investors that he started buying troubled mortgage-backed securities at the end of last week, hoping to capitalise on price falls that followed the Treasury announcement.

Comment by aladinsane
2008-11-17 17:48:11

I’ve decided to give myself a bonus this year.

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2008-11-17 18:22:58

What did you give yourself?

Spill the beans, man! And don’t say gold!

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2008-11-17 18:38:29

He’s going to Disneyland ;)

Comment by hunkydory
2008-11-17 20:47:08

a gold-plated hookah?

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Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 18:40:30

You’re going to run off with that old gal you keep going to see, you know the really really OLD one…

Comment by clue
2008-11-17 19:28:50

Bonus cash is cashin out of a bourse, of course.

Comment by hoz
2008-11-17 18:41:08

How low will house prices go in 2009?

“This past year will go down as the one in which the property market raced from boom to bust.

In the autumn of 2007 prices began to fall each month as the international banking crisis took hold.

…So what will 2009 bring? More of the same or the beginning of an upturn? …

The leading economic consultancy Capital Economics has long predicted a big fall in house prices which, in its view, had risen far too high to be sustainable.

Its housing spokesman Ed Stansfield is not about to change his tune, and predicts more of the same in the next 12 months.

“There is not much evidence that the mortgage market is freeing up so I think we will see another 15-20% off prices in the coming year, so a one-third fall will have happened in just two years, reflecting the deterioration of the economy in the past year,” he says.

“Potentially base rates coming down may spark a revival of buyer interest, but the scale of the problem is beyond the government and I don’t really think there is anything it can do,” he adds. …”

Comment by clue
2008-11-17 19:26:32

well, it depends of what your definition of income is in relation to the desire for the other party to give it away.

Comment by Lost in Utah
2008-11-17 18:51:55

Here’s what happens with Greenspan as captain, Poulson as co-pilot, and Bush as attendant (right after the blonde thing):

www dot youtube dot com/watch?v=Hh_shsRfXqk

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 19:48:34

If these Big Three (Two?) suckers go down, watch out below even more…

Aid prospects darken for desperate US carmakers

WASHINGTON – Prospects dimmed on Monday for the $25 billion bailout that U.S. automakers say they desperately need to get through a bleak and dangerous December.

Though all sides agree that Detroit’s Big Three carmakers are in peril, battered by the economic meltdown that has choked their sales and frozen loans, the White House and congressional Democrats are headed for stalemate over the government money that might go toward helping them.

Behind the logjam is a troubling reality for the car companies: Bailout fatigue has set in at the White House and on Capitol Hill, where many in both parties have spent the past few weeks being berated by constituents for agreeing to the $700 billion Wall Street rescue.

The new debate comes as the financial situation for General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC grows more precarious. GM has said it could run out of cash by year’s end without government aid.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-17 20:02:04

It’s time for boardrooms to bite the bonus bullet
Nils Pratley, Tuesday November 18 2008 00.01 GMT

Come on, Barclays, what are you waiting for? The seven most senior executives at Goldman Sachs will receive no bonus this year. Now UBS has imposed the same restriction on its top executives. Yet Barclays, the bank most in need of some friendly headlines on bonuses, has said next to nothing.

Comment by clue
2008-11-17 21:37:04

The 1930’s script says that we have a Republican minority and a conservative Supreme court that block the many attempts of an incoming Democratic president to help the general public survive a devastating economic downturn, after a decade of seriously greasing the elites’ monetary skids, pushing us to the brink of domestic insurrection, until it takes a world war to pull us out.

Wow, déjà vu!

the kool-aid flows at jesse’s all american cafe’

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-18 05:33:19

Bearish economists are coming out of the closet now to predict a fourteen month recession. By contrast, the early 1990s recession was dated by the NBER to have begun in July 1990 and ended in March 1991 (nine months duration). Where were these guys last December?

Financial Times
Survey exposes depth of US woe
By James Politi in Washington

Published: November 17 2008 19:43 | Last updated: November 17 2008 19:43

Economists believe the US has been in recession since April and will remain there until the middle of 2009, according to a survey published on Monday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

The bleak report by the Philly Fed confirms the sharp deterioration in US economic conditions in recent months as the credit crisis intensified and unemployment rose sharply.

The survey, based on interviews with 51 leading economic forecasters, is published every three months. Monday’s report said participants were “unanimous” in describing the US economy as being either in a recession or on the brink of one. Most said the recession had begun in April and would last 14 months.

The deepening US economic turmoil was reflected in the survey’s projections for gross domestic product in the coming quarter. Whereas three months ago forecasters were expecting annualised growth of 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 1.6 per cent in the first quarter of next year, they are now predicting annualised contractions of 2.9 per cent in the current quarter and 1.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2009. The US economy retrenched at an annualised rate of 0.3 per cent in the third quarter of this year.

Comment by Professor Bear
Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-18 05:42:18

Financial Times
Alert over commodities’ demand environment
By Esther Bintliff

Published: November 17 2008 11:52 | Last updated: November 17 2008 19:31

Oil prices slipped on Monday, while base metals also continued to retreat, as two investment banks downgraded their forecasts for commodity markets in 2009.

UBS warned that the demand environment for commodities had deteriorated at an unprecedented rate, as producers and consumers struggled to find financing for purchases, working capital, and investment amid the global credit squeeze.

UBS added that it could take up to 18 months for more normal demand conditions to return.

“Given the expansion phase in credit lasted for many years, we find it difficult to envisage that the contraction in credit availability and associated demand correction will be a short-lived process,” UBS said.

The Opec oil cartel on Monday cut its forecast for demand growth next year to 500,000 barrels a day, down from 800,000 b/d.

Nymex December West Texas Intermediate fell to $55.29 a barrel, but later traded 24 cents lower at $56.80.

ICE January Brent lost 36 cents to $53.88 a barrel, after touching a low of $52.84.

Opec said that “the rising risk of a prolonged global economic recession, with further downward uncertainties for oil demand growth continues to undermine market sentiment”.

Comment by Professor Bear
2008-11-18 05:54:44

Was it Fall 2007 when we first noted here that the Fed was pushing on a string? (I believe the expression Ben Jones used was “throwing balls of yarn at the credit market”?)

Don’t expect another Fed reduction
Commentary: The real overnight rate shows there’s nothing left to cut
By Irwin Kellner, MarketWatch
Last update: 12:48 a.m. EST Nov. 18, 2008

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (MarketWatch) — The actual rate at which overnight funds are changing hands these days is only 1/4%, far below the Federal Reserve’s intended rate of 1%.

While the Fed rarely hits its target rate, the size of the current gap is most unusual. What is more, this is not a one-day phenomenon, but has existed just about every day since the end of October, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

This gap has significant implications, not just for the cost of borrowing, but for monetary policy itself.

On the policy side, this gap renders the effects of all forecasts (including mine) of a December cut of 25 or 50 basis points in the fed funds rate meaningless. This is because any such reduction would not affect the rate that the banks actually pay, since, as I observed above, the actual funds rate is only 1/4%.

Simply put we (and the Fed) may think another rate cut represents a further easing in monetary policy, when, in reality, it does not. As a matter of fact, a cut of 25 or 50 basis points could actually mask a tightening in monetary policy if it were to be accompanied by a closing of the gap.

Since the Fed has had many years of experience in managing its funds rate, the big question is why it has allowed a gap this size to develop. One answer might be the unusual circumstances in today’s financial markets.

In an effort to thaw out these frozen markets and get the banks to resume lending once again, the Fed has injected copious amounts of liquidity into the financial system, creating more reserves than is consistent with its desired funds target.

To help it drain these excess reserves the Fed recently offered to pay its 1% target rate, but this has had little success so far.

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