January 26, 2009

Bits Bucket For January 26, 2009

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Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 02:37:20

Dutch bubble news:

the Dutch government today announced it is guaranteeing 80% of the US Alt-A mortgage portfolio of financial ING, valued at 35 billion euro. ING will keep full ownership of the pportfoio though. They will lay off at least 7000 workers and sell parts of the business. ING stock shot higher today, after reaching a new all time low last friday (I think many were afraid on friday the stock would go to zero, like some US banking stocks already did).

This free gift for the scamsters at ING is going to cost the Dutch taxpayer dearly. Up to now ING has only written off about 100 million on the total amount of this portfolio (up to recently they stated that there was zero risk in Alt-A loans, apparently the government still believes them). In return for the free government guarantees, ING has to offer cheap loans to consumers and businesses. I guess this is a trick they want to use to prop up the Dutch housing bubble even more :(

euro goldprice still hovering near its all time high today, decision time …

Comment by NoSingleOne
2009-01-26 05:29:55

So the Dutch gov’t is loaning its own citizens hundreds of billions of dollars at artificially low interest rates through propping up a failing bank? It sounds like they are effectively bolstering M3 by effectively short-selling their own treasuries. I’m just an amateur at this, but it looks like the Euro will be under even more inflationary pressure than the Dollar over the long term.

I’m guessing that investors will dump European treasuries in favor of dollars in the short term… until the Chinese dump our treasuries, bwaaahahaha! This is going to just get uglier.

(Sorry for posting this further down the thread nhz, my computer isn’t updating new articles unless I clear the browser cache.)

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 09:02:10

I think you are right, the rate our government has to pay on treasuries will go up significantly as a result of such stupid actions. But they don’t care, that is paid by the taxpayers as well …

it’s all a race to the bottom :(

Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 06:15:47

“decision time …”

What exactly do you mean? Considering throwin all in at the “all time high”? Didn’t Tulips learn you anything? At least you can eat them.

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 07:26:55

decision time for the euro I mean: is it going the way of the UK Pound or not (yet)?

I’m not throwing in at this time, been comfortably long euro gold from much lower values (although with just a small part of my money).

Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 08:33:00

What I wonder about the Euro is if/when if fractures back to national currencies.

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Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 09:05:29

yes, you are not the only one - in some EU countries (mostly the northern ones I guess) a majority is still in favor of their own currency, mostly because they have seen prices skyrocket after introduction the euro.

But I’m afraid that going back to old currencies it not going to help the EU citizens in any way. All the new euro money has been spent on homes and other goodies and they will have to pay for it somehow, most likely through even more inflation (which probably is OK with the majority of the sheeple, as the majority is a homeowner).

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 09:43:59

Do the EU states really have anything in common besides that currency? If not, as goes the euro, so goes the EU?

This downturn is the EU’s first real test under fire.. and if someone believes the union won’t survive, i wonder how they might position themselves to profit from a breakup..

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 10:56:30


the EU memberstates do have some things in common, e.g. that most of them are too small to really play a role in current worldwide economy and politics (at least, that is what we are told). I think the countries that originally started the EU/euro (Benelux, Germany) have more things in common economically, but if half of the current countries leave the euro I doubt it makes sense to keep a common currency. I think Europe will remain in some form, even without the euro.

The ClubMed countries and the new euro countries (former Eastern Europe) have very little in common with the original EU countries, economically …

how to profit from a Euro breakup?
how to profit from a US$ crash?
I think the problem is a bit similar …

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 17:12:14

I don’t necessarily mean an EU economic crash.
If the EU disbands for whatever reasons, would there be any fairly predictable economic effects?

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 02:53:00

another note about Dutch mortgages:

regulators are sounding the alarm regarding the huge amount of I/O loans in the Netherlands. More than 60% of current loans are of this variety, and many of them are running for 10-30 years. The problem is that all these loans are banking on a continuation of current extremely favorable conditions for homeowers (like 100% HMD, all kinds of subsidies, continuous appreciation of home prices). Often the loans include plays on the stockmarket to boost the projected income on the interest payments, thus lowering the monthly cost even further (and increasing the risk, especially in the current climate …).

Most of these loans require a 5-10% downpayment, however 100-125% I/O loans are still available here. When values start declining there is big trouble ahead, although more in the remote than the immediate future. The IMF already warned about this some years ago: Netherlands is one of the few countries where there is no legal limit regarding how much one can lend with a home as collateral.

Most people don’t realise that the HMD is slowly changing and currently limited to 30 years - after these 30 years owners can no longer deduct the interest and will have to pay the full cost out of pocket. Another risk is that the government will have to abandon the HMD when interest rates start rising: the deductions would get so high that most of the government tax income would disappear.

Of course, politics is not going to listen to the warnings. The current pressure from politics to make even more favourable loans to poor homeowners is telling :(

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2009-01-26 10:54:37

“Often the loans include plays on the stockmarket to boost the projected income on the interest payments, thus lowering the monthly cost even further”

OMG, that’s unreal! I had no idea there were mortgages that linked payments stock market returns. Imagine the potential heightened impact as the economy falters and money tightens, and payments go UP due to the economic pain. Unbelievable.

My, my, those Dutch sure do like to gamble.

Comment by wmbz
2009-01-26 03:41:59

The hand out line is going to get longer and longer no doubt…

Car parts sector looks for $10bn US bail-out
By John Reed in Detroit

The automotive parts supply sector, laid low by the sharp drop in car production in the US, is to request at least $10bn of federal bail-out funds from the troubled asset relief programme.

Industry representatives met Treasury officials and members of Barack Obama’s presidential team this month to discuss a growing financial squeeze in the sector. They plan to make a formal request for access to Tarp funds soon, according to Neil de Koker, president of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, which represents companies that supply car and van makers.

Separately, Larry Summers, head of the White House National Economic Council, said that the Obama administration would use the $350bn remaining of the $700bn that Congress provided to start tackling the financial crisis.

His comments came after Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House, suggested that Congress might have to provide more money for Tarp.

Speaking on ABC TV, she said she was “open to resolving the financial crisis”, explaining that there might be a need for “some increased investment” to shore up the banks. “If they come back, there’s going to have to be a justification, because people were very, very disappointed in how this money was dealt with at first.”

Comment by reuven
2009-01-26 09:27:05

There’s an article on the front page of Today’s WSJ that a few California municipalities are bailing out local car dealers!

Comment by wmbz
2009-01-26 03:43:49

Bernanke Risks ‘Very Unstable’ Market as He Weighs Buying Bonds.

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his colleagues may try once again to cure the aftermath of a bubble in one kind of asset by overheating the market for another.

Fed policy makers meeting tomorrow and the day after are exploring the purchase of longer-dated Treasury securities in an effort to push up their price and bring down their yield. Behind the potential move: a desire to reduce long-term borrowing costs at a time when the Fed can’t lower short-term interest rates any further because they are effectively at zero.

The risk is that central bankers will end up distorting the Treasury market, triggering wild swings in prices — and long-term interest rates — as investors react to what they say and do. “It sets forth a speculative dynamic that is very unstable,” says William Poole, former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and now a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington.

The Treasury market has “some bubble characteristics,” Bill Gross, the manager of Newport Beach, California-based Pacific Investment Management Co.’s $132 billion Total Return Fund, said in December on Bloomberg Television. He echoed that sentiment last week.

“I will say, and I have said for the past three months, the governments are very overvalued,” Gross said in a Jan. 20 interview. Treasuries last year returned 14 percent, according to Merrill Lynch & Co.’s Treasury Master Index, their best performance since 1995.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 07:18:43

If he says they are mulling it over, does it mean they already are?

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2009-01-26 08:25:30

When they do, the market will effectively shut down, and they will become the only lender in town.

They have crowded out private investors in every market they have intervened. Why would the treasury market be different?

Hence, they will fail in spectacular fashion.

Comment by brahma30
2009-01-26 10:04:42

Agree…this would make the Fed the lender of first resort and also the last resort. I think he will fail so badly that I have started to get real worried on how to protect my hard earned $$$.

What do you think about the idea of keeping it in a foreign country, I have been thinking on this for sometime but I hate to wire money out as it would rob me of all liquidity over here but I would rather preserve capital than let this fool destroy a large percentage of my savings that I have worked so hard for.

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Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2009-01-26 08:01:30

Every time these economists say “the risk is”, they ignore the fact that ANY action by the Fed “distorts” the market, and therefore the probability associated with that risk is 100%. Even if they only bought 1 bond with “printing press money” then the one bond will come out of the value of the dollar and distort the “free market” prices.

Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 16:11:22

The “market” is constantly being gamed. Current events anyone? The Fed isn’t the only one who distorts the markets.

Comment by wmbz
2009-01-26 04:25:35

With Rates Near Zero, What Will Fed Do Next?
By: Reuters | 25 Jan 2009 | 02:35 PM ET

The Federal Reserve is struggling to explain its plans for pulling the U.S. economy out of recession as it resorts to unorthodox policy tools while official interest rates are set near zero.

Since a rate-setting meeting in December, several U.S. central bank officials have tried to lay out what the Fed can do now that it has run out of conventional ammunition to support economic growth.

Usually, the Fed can focus its policy message around its interest rate target, but with federal funds already close to zero that capability has disappeared with no clearly discernible substitute on the horizon.

“It is very difficult to communicate the nature and effects of unconventional balance sheet actions,” Glenn Rudebusch, associate director of research at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank said in a report earlier this month.

Jan Hatzius, economist at Goldman Sachs, said that by the end of 2010 conventional monetary policy drivers such as the Taylor Rule, which suggests appropriate adjustments to interest rates based on factors such as inflation and the jobless rate, would imply a fed funds rate of negative 6 percent.

“Our forecast of a 9.5 percent unemployment rate by late 2010 implies the largest amount of slack of the postwar period,” Hatzius said. “Fed (and Treasury) officials will need to expand their efforts to stimulate demand dramatically further.”

Comment by NoSingleOne
2009-01-26 05:07:39

“Fed (and Treasury) officials will need to expand their efforts to stimulate demand dramatically further.”

-Lower interbank borrowing rates (-6%???)
-Lowering unemployment
-Increase demand

So in the course of a year we go from “chance of a recession is 30% by some economists”, to the most massive government intervention in the fiscal market in history.

Why should we trust these bozos at all? Academic economists in Treasury and the Fed have failed this country, and yet they are getting control of effectivey 30% of our future GNP to “rescue” the economy?

Frightening…even Don Quixote could at least see the windmills he was charging after.

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 08:15:32

no, they need just 1% monthly penalty on all savings accounts. HeliBen has already suggested this a few years ago, I have no doubt he will do it when he realises that his magic is no longer working (from this Wednesday, maybe?). That should teach those stupid terrorist-savers a lesson :)

Comment by Pinch-a-penny
2009-01-26 08:33:13

And I will just park my money in a safety deposit box… Two can play THAT game.
BTW, awesome pics.

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Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 09:08:13

don’t know … the deposit box would save you from the savers tax, but not from inflation. Either way you loose …

Comment by reuven
2009-01-26 09:35:13

If there was a safe way to hold physical gold I would have a lot more of my money in it.

This confiscation of wealth from savers–modest and wealthy alike–is the most outrageous government policy I’ve seen in a long time.

Could it really be that the majority of Americans have no store of “wealth” other than the perceived value of a house? If so, then all people who either rent or who have savings that exceed any value of their house and property will be screwed as the politicians try to buy as many votes as possible.

BTW: Florida used to have an intangibles tax on savings accounts. I hope Barack doesn’t think of it! (Shhhh!)

Comment by Chip
2009-01-26 10:38:23

Reuven “BTW: Florida used to have an intangibles tax on savings accounts.”

There are rumors if its return.

Comment by hoz
2009-01-26 06:21:34

Monday, January 26, 2009
Why the Federal Reserve should LITERALLY throw money out of helicopters

“… The Federal Reserve should hire a couple of hundred helicopters and load each one 10 million dollars in neatly bound parcels of $1000 each. Total cost $2 billion plus trivial helicopter hire.

It should fly them over 200 randomly picked American cities and throw the money out the window. It should press release this – but press coverage will be excessive. Indeed I suspect that the press coverage would give the Fed’s inflation policy greater awareness than the Coca Cola Company. (The Coca Cola Company’s annual advertising budget is $2.8 billion – so this is already cheap compared to some private sector alternatives.)

The press release should be simple. We are doing this to induce inflation. If there is no inflation as a result we will simply do it again. …”

Mr. John Hempton
Bronte Capital

The kids would skip school for that day! It would be better to just give the money to the kids in school. $200 each or $600 or $1,000. It doesn’t matter what the dollar amount is; it matters getting it spent.

Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 06:24:31

They should drop coins. The damage would be more graphic.

Comment by combotechie
2009-01-26 06:35:24

Pennies from heaven?

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Comment by Rancher
2009-01-26 07:51:03


Comment by packman
2009-01-26 08:37:32


Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2009-01-26 06:49:16

You know, they claim people are not “spending” which presumably means that they are “saving”. If people are saving then banks are the ones who get the money and it is up to the banks to “lend”. If people neither have the money to save nor spend then that represents a complete loss of capital and insolvency anything that the bankers do cannot “stimulate” the economy.

The mainstream economic theories are so crazy that it boggles the mind that “smart” people would go along with it!

Where all of this is going is not good… we are going to live (hopefully) through one of the greatest economic crashes in history.

Comment by darrell_in_phx
2009-01-26 06:59:16

Let’s ignore the top 20% of net worth people that do all the saving.

The other 80% were spending all their money, PLUS going further into debt at a rate of hundreds of billions a quarter.

The people that are cutting back, are simply not going further into debt. The “little people” are not building up a pool of savings that will suddenly be unleashed upon the economy as real demand.

We’re still in trickle on economics where the money is collecting in the hands of the few which are desperately looking for safe places to park their billions. This will may cause wild swings in commodity prices and exchange rates, but will do nothing for the little people which provide the real demand.

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Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2009-01-26 07:34:42

You know, I would think that the “little” people would realize that “dollars” are so concentrated and so inherently “worthless” that they would simply stop using them. Why use a currency that gives so much “economic power” to so few?

Unfortunately, even if you barter everything the IRS attempts to “value” it in terms of dollars.

It is this realization that will ultimately destroy demand for the dollar (and other fiat currencies).

Comment by skroodle
2009-01-26 07:35:34

The other 80% were spending all of their money plus a lot of borrowed money.

I don’t think we should even try to go back to that.

Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 08:39:49

so, saving is just another word for can’t borrow as much.

Comment by Chip
2009-01-26 10:44:16

I agree with Darrel. In addition to saving and spending, there is the debt reduction of principal and interest and the latter is where most ofJSP’s cash is going these day. And even within spending, there is discretionary and non-discretionary (rent).

This recession’s just gotta do what it’s gotta do, before we can have a true recovery. The politicians have plenty of time to invent new words to describe what happened and new charts to make it look like they were were part of the problem instead of prolongers of the pain.

Comment by hd74man
2009-01-26 07:31:50

RE: are going to live (hopefully) through one of the greatest economic crashes in history.

Damn right this will be the mother of all crashes.

As a local example-

98% the papermills in northern New England and upstate New
York are shuttered and completely dead with the loss of thousands of the best paying blue collar jobs in the Northeast ever since the the evolution of mass production.

Never once, in the last 25 years, have I heard of any state or national political elected leader EVER, EVER addressed the regulatory, financial, and environmental issues which finally caused management to throw up its arm and shutter the mills.

Substitute any manufacturing entity instead of paper and you’ll come up the same result.

Everybody see the 60 Minutes segment last night about the closing of the DHL hub in Ohio which had the woman crying about having her and her husband; plus their daughter her husband with 2
new infants all living in the same house with nobody working?

All just a window into the future of country totally sold down the river by it’s politicians at all levels of government.

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Comment by palmetto
2009-01-26 08:01:37

I saw that piece. I ship stuff all the time and Airborne was a wonderful company that I used instead of UPS and FedX. Like Avis, “they tried harder”. They were less expensive and had great customer service. DHL bought them out, but the tradition of customer service carried on. I experienced this both on the phone and on the ground when the delivery person came to pick up the packages. It really sucks what happened. But, clearly, the workers for DHL know how to run a company, so why not fund them to keep the service going? I’d freakin’ volunteer to sell their services here in Florida until they were on their feet. That’s how much I think of that company. In all the time I used them, I only had one breakage.

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2009-01-26 08:28:38

98% of mills are closed? Really?

Comment by ET-Chicago
2009-01-26 08:40:13

All just a window into the future of country totally sold down the river by it’s politicians at all levels of government.

C’mon, you can’t blame government for all of that. I think all the corporations pulling up stakes for cheaper wages, the license to pollute, etc., bear some of the blame.

In fact, I think they bear most of the blame.

I suppose it becomes the ol’ chicken v. egg argument soon enough, though …

Comment by polly
2009-01-26 08:48:34

I bought some greeting cards over the weekend that say “Made in U.S.A” on the back. Company is Gibson. Of course, all the components (paper stock, ink, glitter, etc.) could have been made elsewhere, but a bit of it was made here.

Then again, I bought them in the party supply store which is the last place I could find that charges half of the price printed on the back. Used to be that only the fancy card stores charged full price and everywhere else (drug store, supermarket, etc.) gave a large discount. Now the supermarket gives printed material their own aisle and charges full price too. Hey, I can walk down the block and across the street to save over $3.50 on two cards. I was out for a walk anyway. And I found some little plastic swords I need for an art project too!

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 08:57:00

Environmental issues? But we need strict environmental laws.. we gotta save this planet, asap. Take cow farts, for instance.. this one worries me… megatons of methane gas, spewing endlessly into the atmosphere.. uncontrolled and unregulated toxic emissions.

Thanks to our constant prodding, politicians know it’s a popular concern so they are right on the ball. My guess is they’ll come up with a heavy tax on cows. These tax revenues are then available for whatever goodies we want govt to provide for us.

That fart-tax will of course be passed onto dairy product prices. Paying more for dairy products will make us feel a lot better since we’re doing something constructive..

Comment by TXFarmer
2009-01-26 10:48:16

That’s already on the minds of some at least. From CBS news.
“Farmers so far are turning their noses up at the notion, which they contend is a possible consequence of an Environmental Protection Agency report after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases emitted by belching and flatulence amounts to air pollution.”
“But the American Farm Bureau Federation said, based on federal agriculture department figures, it would require farms or ranches with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs to pay an annual fee of about $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.”
Few think this is seriously being considered, but these days I’d say anything is within the realm of possibility.

Comment by Chip
2009-01-26 10:54:29

Re the paper mills, does anyone know the part that NAFTA did or didn’t play in this? Does anyone know what the net benefits of NAFTA have been I use the term “net benefits” instead if “net losses” because the politicians promised it would be wonderful for all of us.

I’ve seen a lot of agricultural production leave Florida as a result, but maybe it was more than compensated by the inflow of an equal number of even higher-paying jobs.

Anyone got numbers?

Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 11:20:54

According to Google there are 10 paper mills in Manhattan.

Comment by DennisN
2009-01-26 12:36:52

Do those 10 paper mills include the NY Fed?

Comment by hd74man
2009-01-26 12:51:22

RE: 98% of mills are closed? Really?

Let’s see if I can keep track of them all…

Great Northern Nekoosa, Millinocket ME (around since the Depression)…gone.
Lincoln Pulp and Paper, Lincoln, ME…shuttered and re-opened with state subsidies. 2500 jobs lost.
James River-Old Town, ME…gone.
Eastern Fine Paper, ME…gone
Champion Paper-Bucksport, ME…closing.
Kimberly-Clark, Winslow, ME…gone
SD Warren-Westbrook, ME…gone.
Georgia Pacific-Woodville, ME…gone.
International Paper, Rumford, ME…hanging by a thumbnail
Wausau Paper-Groveton, NH…gone.
Wausau Paper-Berlin, NH…gone.
International Paper-Oswego, NY… gone

These are the one’s off the top of my head

…thousands of skilled jobs all gone, resulting in complete destablization of the northern New England economy.

LMAO…and the government thinks they have a credible reemployment “jobs” program.

It’s all gone, baby!

Comment by (Soon to be ex-) GS fixer
2009-01-26 12:53:59

If all this animal flatulence is so deadly, it’s a good thing we busted caps in all those buffalo back in the 1860s-70s.

Much like red-light cameras, and taxes on cigarettes and Coke, governments at all levels are engaged in a revenue grab. Stealth tax increases disquised as “user fees”.

Like all parasites, the trick is to raise the price of doing business, without killing the host……a lot easier to do than cutting expenses. The problem is, we’re talking about government here, they always overshoot.

Expect to see proposals for:
-taxes on sugar/corn sweeteners
-bicycle registration fees/plates
-taxes on red meat
-carbon fuel taxes

Basically, anything that someone can deem “harmful”, is fair game.

Comment by hoz
2009-01-26 13:07:34

“But the American Farm Bureau Federation said, based on federal agriculture department figures, it would require farms or ranches with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs to pay an annual fee of about $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.”

This was dreamed up by the agricultural lobbyist to justify their existence in Washington. It was never seriously considered.

However it would not surprise me if states instituted a tax of this ilk.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 16:32:33

Google “the american farm bureau is strenuously opposing” for about 20 links to what’s below.

December 07, 2008
EPA Proposal - Tax Cow Farts/Belches
This is for real

“The American Farm Bureau is strenuously opposing a U.S. EPA greenhouse gas proposal that would tax livestock producers for their animals’ emissions. AFB says it doesn’t even pass the smell test, let alone the straight face test.

But EPA is considering steep fees based on animal emissions that Farm Bureau says would force many livestock producers out of business. American Farm Bureau lobbyist Rick Krause says it’s no laughing matter.

“We’ve already heard from one of President-elect Obama’s senior environmental advisers that they intend to take up this regulation early next year, when they come in, Krause said. “The only saving grace that I think that we might have, in stalling this, is the state of the economy.”

yes.. the state of the economy might stall it.. but I doubt it will.
We have discussed whether or not environmentalism is a luxury. I think it’s fairly obvious that any country that can afford to hogtie or even destroy it’s largest industries has money (and jobs) to burn..
All or part of those industries are then exported.. outsourced.. to countries where things like meat and milk are a luxury.
This is nature’s way.

Comment by not a gator
2009-01-26 17:37:36

No lie–those mills are gone. Holyoke is actually liveable now, instead of a sump that “smells like money”. Of course, there are no jobs, so that’s kind of a pyrrhic victory.

Ironically, some whiz kids at UMass Amherst came up with a way to dramatically improve the cleanliness of wastewater leaving the paper plant, but too late for the industry.

It’s gone to China.

Comment by knockwurst
2009-01-27 02:23:46

Nixon started the EPA for good reason. I grew up in the midwest when the air was horrible and pollution was a major problem. Forests were dying from acid rain. A river actually caught on fire. Things have gotten so much better since then that people can’t imagine what it was like.

The water and air were toxic 30-40 years ago. The EPA and government regulations did a lot of much needed clean up. Look at China if you want to see what the US was like back then. The air is killing them.

Comment by CA renter
2009-01-27 04:51:28

Same with Los Angeles when I was growing up in the 70s. People complain about the smog now, but it’s nothing compared to the smog from that era. You can actually see the mountains all around you…not so much back then.

I grumbled about the EPA and their smog requirements back in the 80s because I was young and driving old beaters (that belched smog, no doubt) and couldn’t afford to get all the needed repairs for the smog checks. Now it’s clear why they did it.

Good move on their part. It worked.

Comment by scdave
2009-01-26 09:09:16


aNYCdj posted some info on the “Las Vegas” board…He said he pulled it off of a Yahoo board…Anyway, can you try to confirm the info regarding the foreclosure sales…If its true it is quite stunning…

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Comment by Little Al
2009-01-26 07:30:12

Give a substantial dollar amount to the kids with G.P.A.’s above 3.5 in random (but concentrating in) the ghetto areas of the U.S. You’ve got to keep the American Dream alive while fostering the concept that achievement will get you somewhere. Wake up Obama, the natives are getting restless.

Comment by polly
2009-01-26 08:53:56

Good way to get teachers mugged for giving bad grades if you ask me. The teachers in the rich suburbs already get threatened with being fired if they don’t give Kaylyn all A’s. The teachers who are willing to go to schools with fewer resources should at least get some benefits and ducking parents who want to get rid of them for giving kids fair grades should be one of those benefits.

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Comment by Jim A.
2009-01-26 09:06:23

Yep, another step in grade inflation. At the college level, grades were greatly pumped up by the Vietnam War, since many fairly liberal professors were loathe to lower some student’s GPA to the point where they lost their defferment.

Comment by Kim
2009-01-26 09:38:36

A few weeks ago (sorry, can’t remember where, so no link), I read about a proposal that would have paid “inner city” low income kids based on attendance record at school. Specific amounts weren’t discussed, but it would be a token amount, paid on a semester basis. While throwing money at the problem probably isn’t the best answer, doing it based on attendance rather than grades would be less arbitrary than putting teachers under grade inflation pressure.

Comment by DennisN
2009-01-26 12:38:22

Better to give out the money based on SAT scores. It’s much more difficult to game the system than it is with teacher-granted grades.

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Comment by not a gator
2009-01-26 17:41:48

ha ha. standardized test cheating is rampant.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2009-01-26 07:35:34

What’s clearly needed here is more bread and circuses. The sheeple - the great amnesiac, ADD-addled masses - must at all costs be distracted from focusing on the root causes of their current plight.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 07:54:07

and the root cause is.. they lied to get loans, wagered it all.. and lost?

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Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 16:25:47

I’m still waiting for someone to show me how the “po’ folks” APPROVED their own loans.


Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 17:02:00

true.. they couldn’t very well approve their own loans, now could they..

So, assuming some of the liar-loans actually were turned down, are we talking just “conspiracy to commit fraud”? “Attempted grand larceny” ?

I think it’s still a federal rap since it’s banks and mortgages, but i’m not sure.

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-01-26 09:20:49

What?! Sammy! No dissin’ the ADD addledness of…hey, where’s my lollypop gone to? And my cellphone? I had ‘em a minute ago.

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Comment by aNYCdj
2009-01-26 07:10:26

My plan seem like the right one…give all the people with credit cards not in default a $1000-2000 reduction in principle.

People will spend that in the next month or two

No waiting forever to measly $600 tax refunds or $20 a week in tax reduction We can spend it NOW!

Comment by In Colorado
2009-01-26 08:36:06

“People will spend that in the next month or two”

And will get another reduction in principle. Lather, rinse, repeat…

The crazy thing is that this would probably be cheaper and more effective than the current bailout scheme.

Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 09:01:54

For sure, if you have no balance on your credit card, you’d get nothing!

Shoot the strong, jazz up the weak.

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 09:18:21

at least that matches the policy they have for businesses ;)

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Comment by aNYCdj
2009-01-26 10:25:15

Blue skye :

You would get the money too…for being frugal.

PS I know give you a $2000 debit card that expires in a year, that will teach you to spend it or lose it……….. HAH!

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Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 14:55:37

Thanks dj, and perhaps I’ll throw a party with music and dancing!

Comment by peter m
2009-01-26 09:19:03

“My plan seem like the right one…give all the people with credit cards not in default a $1000-2000 reduction in principle.”

Or $1000-2000 increases in lines of credit for each card.

Comment by Jim A.
2009-01-26 08:59:04

Time to go long on kitchen sinks, cause the Fed will be throwing lots of ‘em in the comming months.

Comment by wmbz
2009-01-26 04:30:02

From a Barrons article…

“Yes, the economy is one great big Ponzi scheme, built upon many small Ponzi schemes. And mathematical probability guarantees that one day—and sooner rather than later—you will wake up and find your money gone.

If you find that assessment incredible, just ask Bill Gross, the managing director of Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund. As a financial insider who has acted as an agent for the Federal Reserve, Mr. Gross knows what he is talking about. According to Gross, the entire U.S. economy is a Ponzi tower waiting to fall. He calls it “our Ponzi-style economy.”

When the world’s biggest bond fund manager—whose investments are dependent on the value of the dollar—says the U.S. economy is a Ponzi scheme, people should wake up and take notice.

Social Security is probably the most blatant example of how the government has turned the economy into an unsustainable Ponzi scheme”.

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 04:55:19

the same goes for Europe, of course …

Buffers for most of the big Dutch pension funds are now far below their official minimum values, and pension funds are legally obliged to take immediate action to replenish reserves. This means increasing unemployment taxes for workers/employers and/or lowering pensions.

But of course, unions and employers decided that now is NOT the time to do something. They suggest a three year exemption so workers and companies can enjoy the good times for another three years. When in three years times the pension buffers are in even worse shape (which is very likely), the obvious solution will be to strongly raise taxes for the whole population instead of raise the cost for those who are profiting from the Ponzi scheme.

Housing market, social security, Medicare … all the same story.

Comment by combotechie
2009-01-26 06:11:43

“Social security is probably the most blatant example of how the government has turned the economy into an unsubstainable Ponzi scheme.”

Along with the NAR, I love Social Security. Social Security keeps money flowing, which is what the economy needs. Do some adjustments of retirement ages and some means testing and the SS system will do just fine, IMO.

Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 06:21:39

Japan factories closing early to send workers home to “make babies”.

This is perhaps a stimulis package that will help SS in the long term if deployed in the US.

Comment by wmbz
2009-01-26 06:24:07

Yep, Raise the retirement age to 80 that should do it. We have millions of folks who long ago got back what they put in, I have two in my family.

Our S.S. system was based on the German system, which picked the age of between 63&65 for retirement due to the fact that was the average life span at the time. Problem is people live much longer now, so the system is coming apart.

S.S. is a third rail subject that won’t get ‘fixed’ it will just collapse under it’s own weight in the future.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-01-26 08:40:30

My father is 84 and definitely not retired. In fact, don’t even say the “R” word in his presence. He’ll glare at you.

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Comment by QinQueens
2009-01-26 08:58:53

IIRC, the average life span has increased largely due to a drop in infant mortality.

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Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 09:06:40

Infant mortality to rise dramatically under the new admin, but you won’t see it in the stats.

Comment by Wheezer
2009-01-26 09:56:56

The definition of infant mortality does vary considerably…

Comment by LehighValleyGuy
2009-01-26 10:24:10

“IIRC, the average life span has increased largely due to a drop in infant mortality.”

Life expectancy has increased significantly at older ages too.

A male aged 65 had a life expectancy of 11.4 years in 1900, 15.9 years in 2000.

A female aged 65 had a life expectancy of 12.0 years in 1900, 19.0 years in 2000.



see page 15 (16 in PDF).

Comment by QinQueens
2009-01-26 11:41:19

So, since 1900, average time for retirement for males has increased 39%, and for females, 58%. It would seem to me that raising the retirement age would be needed more for other reasons, such as the demographic bulge, financial fraud, etc.
On another note, I wonder what the difference in life expectancy would be starting from birth of Social Security.

Comment by Jim A.
2009-01-26 09:01:38

OTOH, my grandfathers lived to see exactly ONE SS check between the two of ‘em.

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Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2009-01-26 09:11:24

The point is not what happened individually. The point is what the statistics are, and it’s hardly a secret that the average age has lengthened.

Comment by In Montana
2009-01-26 09:37:21

Do you really want all of them in the workforce in their dotage? Speaking for myself, I can see where mentally the work is just getting away from me now at 59. Whenever I screw up I wish they’d just put me out to pasture.

Comment by Jim A.
2009-01-26 10:18:13

Well, yes. And we should all be happier to be living longer, healthier lives. We just need to figure out how to pay for it, both for the costs of living longer and the costs of the medical technology that enables us to do it. Although a few things, like much decreased smoking levels are WIN/WIN changes.

Comment by darrell_in_phx
2009-01-26 07:12:34

Do you like all regressive taxes where the poor pay a much higher % of their income than the rich, or is it just Social Security?

Comment by aNYCdj
2009-01-26 07:26:13

The poor NEED ss far more then the rich. So consider it a forced savings plan or whole life insurance.

Lots of rich people don’t bother taking the SS money, or they donate it. My mom volunteers in a soup kitchen and they get 8-10 Rich people who donate their SS checks each month….

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Comment by Jim A.
2009-01-26 10:21:02

A friends mom worked for the state in social services. One of the women in the office had a very well off husbund and didn’t even bother to cash her paychecks. They got a call from the State Comptrollers office complaining about all the extra paperwork that this woman was causing them.

Comment by combotechie
2009-01-26 07:30:03

I have nothing against the rich, in fact I want to someday join their ranks.

I’m not so much for taxes as I am for money flow. If people won’t voluntairly spend their money then somebody else will have to spend their money for them. It’s money flow that keeps the economy going and Social Security keeps up the money flow.

Like it or not, there it is.

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Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 08:10:00

it’s money spent that keeps the economy going, but it’s savings that create wealth. Both on a personal and national level.

The way things are going now is extremely unbalanced; you can’t build a country by spending more than your earnings every year (like the Messiah and friends are planning to do).

Comment by scdave
2009-01-26 09:31:47

(like the Messiah and friends are planning to do) ??

And like the decider already did…We should never lose site of the fact that he did not veto 1 bill in his first 6 years…

Comment by Julius
2009-01-26 09:36:11

“I have nothing against the rich, in fact I want to someday join their ranks.

I’m not so much for taxes as I am for money flow. If people won’t voluntairly spend their money then somebody else will have to spend their money for them. It’s money flow that keeps the economy going and Social Security keeps up the money flow.

Like it or not, there it is.”

Comments like this are just ridiculous. The presumption here, of course, is that the US/world is approaching some sort of “liquidity trap” situation where everyone refuses to spend their money, leading to a devastating deflationary spiral.

This, frankly, is bollocks - and it’s bollocks for at least 2 major reasons. First (and most importantly), the manic, overamplified, hyperconsumerist level of personal consumption that was going on in the US in the early noughties was simply an unsustainable anomoly. It was an unhealthy delusion fed by easy-breezy credit and personal arrogance/greed. I’m so tired of hearing how if we can just get back to that level of personal spending again things will be a-OK - to me, that’d be like telling a clean ex-coke addict to start doing coke again. It’s stupid, we’ve been there, done that, and we already know where that line of thinking gets us. The market is currently finding a new equilibrium that reflects reality and not an infinite credit-fueled spending spree.

Second, for whatever damn reason people still seem to be spending lots and lots of money indiscriminately. I live near Cleveland, and the malls are still jam-packed on the weekends. I still hear of people (somehow) successfully flipping houses. Plenty of fools are still walking around with the latest bleeding-edge iPhones, Blackberries, etc with $100+/month contracts. I just don’t get it - despite all this horrifying economic news there are still plenty of people hell-bent on spending every last cent they can possibly get their hands on. To me, this seems especially ominous for the future of the economy because it implies that things still have a LONG way to go down - most of this spending can’t possibly be sustainable in the long run.

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2009-01-26 11:06:43

One more comment about ‘keeping money moving’. The argument makes the identical fallacy that is made by those who think “as long as we can keep swapping houses with each other we will all get rich!”.

Perhaps I could “stimulate” the economy by swapping a $20 bill with my neighbor a couple hundred times. I know, lets take every last good that ANYONE has saved trade them with someone in exchange for dollars and then consume it with fire. This should stimulate the economy to “keep things moving”.

Every good is owned by someone and the act of trading one good for another does not increase the total goods available to society. If we force people to trade durable goods (savings) for consumable goods then all of society loses once the consumable is consumed. Consumables require durables to produce them; therefore, if we keep trading durables for consumables eventually there will be nothing left.

It is even worse if you force one individual to give up their durable goods so that SOMEONE ELSE can consume it.

Comment by ahansen
2009-01-26 11:18:27

“early noughties” = best word coinage of the, well, decade. Excellent, Julius!

However, despite your well-reasoned argument, I have to agree with Combo. Because although organisms that reproduce beyond their environmental capacity ultimately put their survival at risk, if they stop reproducing altogether, they will die off in one generation.

Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 11:29:24

One motive in “keeping the money moving” is the Gov’t cut on every trade. By saving, we starve the Gov’t. Gov’t want to grow, not shrink.

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2009-01-26 10:54:53

Combo, why is it you think that “money must keep moving”? Unless the money is put under a mattress it will keep moving from A to B to bank to C and back to A…. why must *someone* decide that *someone else* doesn’t need that “savings” and instead it should be given to some old/disabled person to consume? Isn’t the result a net loss of capital in society and therefore a lower standard of living for everyone (old and young alike?)

And FYI, money is not real capital. Take away all of the money in the world and all of the real capital will remain. Money is simply an accounting measure. So an old person whom consumes real capital that other people saved ultimately hurts all of society.

Why should ANYONE get something for nothing simply by pointing a gun at those who do not pony up?

Comment by DennisN
2009-01-26 12:48:12

The argument gets even stranger when one considers that most of the old, retired people ARE the savers (and vice-versa). They aren’t spending their savings because they are trying to live off the interest thereof. They aren’t being “greedy” by saving: they have already paid their dues and are trying to get by without undue reliance on social security and other government scams.

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Comment by combotechie
2009-01-26 17:53:48

Combo, why is it you think ‘money must keep moving’?”

That’s a joke, right? Remember how the global economy began to freeze up just a few months ago because money wasn’t moving?

If money doesn’t move then neither do goods and services.

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Comment by CA renter
2009-01-27 05:00:49

Agree with you, combo. The economy does not exist if there is no trade (money moving).

Comment by skroodle
2009-01-26 07:39:10

Social Security isn’t a Ponzi scheme, everyone will get their money from it. Even Zimbabwe still pays their pensioners.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 07:53:06

The Ponzi scheme aspect of Social Security is not whether people will get their money out, but rather what the real value of such money will be.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 07:56:40

Other relevant details:

1) How much (in real terms) do different cohorts have to pay in versus what they get to take it out (baby boomers paid much more per real dollar of Social Security benefit, while early entrants enjoyed Ponzi gains due to increasing life expectancies over the course of the 20th century)?

2) When do different cohorts get to take it out (baby boomers get to wait longer)?

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Comment by nycjoe
2009-01-26 08:12:07

Difference in this particular Ponzi scheme is that it has endless and growing sources of new money. It can’t really just collapse when everybody gets wise. We are required by law to put a chunk of our paycheck in it, and it looks like the population will continue to grow for a good while yet. I don’t see all that much to worry about. Maybe you’ll have to wait an extra year or two, but you’ll get your money. Assuming the GOP and Wall Street don’t get ahold of it, that is!

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 08:31:40

yes PB, agree these are very important points; they clearly show why it is a Ponzi scheme.
Those who enter first are always sure winners, and those who enter late will for sure loose lots of money (either directly, or through inflation).

Comment by In Colorado
2009-01-26 08:39:12

I don’t see all that much to worry about.

Reduced benefits and a later retirement age. But it won’t “collapse” (as in stop making any payments).

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:42:43

“It can’t really just collapse when everybody gets wise.
We are required by law to put a chunk of our paycheck in it, and it looks like the population will continue to grow for a good while yet.”

Those are good points; one of the drivers of private Ponzi scheme collapses is the ability to pull up the stakes once the gig is up. But in terms of the relationship between what different generations of participants pay in versus what they take out, there is a Ponzi-like aspect of Social Security, as the earlier generations made out like bandits relative to what they paid in compared to what more recent entrants can expect for their bloated contributions.

Comment by scdave
2009-01-26 09:47:07

Kind of interesting that the Boomers take so much flack regarding social security benefits…”Google” “Social Security Qualifying Quarters” and see just how “Little” you need to work to get a SS benefit…I think 40 quarters are something like 5 or 6 years….It even applies to non-citizens…If they can get their quarters in, they can just go home and the SS check will come via wire…You want to “Means Test” SS benefits, start there…Someone who paid in for 40 years gets “Means Tested” vs. someone who worked at McDee’s for 6 years…It should be 250 quarters to qualify for benefits!!!

Comment by ET-Chicago
2009-01-26 10:15:06

… there is a Ponzi-like aspect of Social Security, as the earlier generations made out like bandits relative to what they paid in compared to what more recent entrants can expect for their bloated contributions.


We’re definitely on the downside of the pay-in / pay-out reward curve. And it will prob’ly get worse.

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2009-01-26 11:21:44

nycjoe, you obviously haven’t looked at the population charts to see the “bulge”. People are having less kids today and old people are living longer. It wont be long until every worker must support 1/2 of a retiree. It would be far cheaper on society to have parents move in with their children! Besides, most works have a hard enough time caring for themselves.

The Ponzi scheme does end suddenly when the dollar collapses and foreigners stop taking our money. The real “ponzi” scheme is fractional reserve lending and fiat money where bankers make a return on non-existent capital. Early investors make out great because they get to spend money before prices go up. The scam can last so long as the money supply grows exponentially, eventually you hit peak debt and the whole thing collapses.

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2009-01-26 11:34:48

I think 40 quarters are something like 5 or 6 years

40 quarters = 10 years.

You should run for Congress. You’ve certainly passed the IQ test with flying colors.


Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2009-01-26 12:48:54

“You should run for Congress. You’ve certainly passed the IQ test with flying colors.”


Comment by DennisN
2009-01-26 12:53:02

“It should be 250 quarters to qualify for benefits!!!”

That’s 62.5 years. Assuming starting work at age 20, you think the minimum retirement age should be 82.5? What about doctors and other professionals? They get out of doctoral programs at age 25+. Should they wait until age 87.5+ to retire?

Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 13:36:05


Young folks never had to make change in their heads. He’s a nice guy.

Quizz: A pack of gum is 36c. You give four bits. How much is your change?

Riddle: There are two coins whose total is 30c. One of them is ont a nickel. What are the two coins?

Comment by Kirisdad
2009-01-26 15:05:21

IIRC, 40 quarters will get you the maximum benefit(depending on amt. of FICA paid) only 2-3 years of work will get you a minimum benefit. At least thats the way it used to be, the rules do change. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen (green cards pay FICA taxes). I remember years ago my Godmothers husband retired as a postmaster and then worked a minimum wage job for a few years to pay FICA taxes and collect SS. Again, I’m not sure if thats possible today.

Comment by scdave
2009-01-26 16:19:19

Thats what I was trying to say Krisdad…I got quarters “quarters” confused with “Credits”…It takes 40 credits to qualify and 1 credit is a little more than $1,000….You also must work 10 years…

Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 09:12:58

The Ponzi scheme aspect of Social Security is not whether people will get their money out, but rather what the real value of such money will be.

That would include all non-inflation adjusted investments and pensions.

Social Security is adjusted for CPI increases.

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Comment by packman
2009-01-26 11:02:57

Government-defined CPI.

Comment by mikey
2009-01-26 10:20:12

Hey!…I have great idea.

We could give all the SS money to the gop and they could invest it in the Gods, the stock market and their banks for us :)

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Comment by Bill in Carolina
2009-01-26 08:16:11

“Social Security is probably the most blatant example of how the government has turned the economy into an unsustainable Ponzi scheme.”

Social Security makes Bernie Madoff look like a two-bit piker, because a LOT more people are gonna get skrewed.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 04:41:55

If you were the first hacker that managed to intercept BO’s Blackberry messages, would you publicize that fact for the glory and admiration of your peers, or keep it secret?

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-01-26 08:43:54

You’d be too late. He’s not using a ‘Berry anymore. Had to switch to a different, more secure, smart phone.

Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 09:15:22

According to the newspapers that is…

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 09:32:53

ok.. well.. If you were the first hacker to clone BO’s new cellphone, would you keep it a secret?.. brag about it?.. make lots of long distance calls?
Call Hillary and pretend you’re BO.. tell her you wanna attack Iran or something?

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2009-01-26 11:36:49

Sell it to the Russians?

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Comment by VaBeyatch in Virginia Beach
2009-01-26 12:18:07

GSM and CDMA have pretty much nuked the phone cloning world. At least with GSM, the conversations are highly encrypted and the work to break the encryption takes a while (it has been done with FPGAs). I’ve also heard that the telco racks that serve the white house are highly guarded. There is conspiracy theory based on a Fox report that Israel was listening into white house communications but that is just conspiracy theory (google comverse infosys, amdocs, fox news, etc. They pulled the report and all traces of it from Fox shortly after it’s release but the video is out there. GOOD and scary stuff).

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Comment by NoSingleOne
2009-01-26 04:52:17

ING Group to Cut 7,000 Jobs

Published: January 26, 2009
PARIS — In the latest wave of retrenchment by global banks, ING Group, the Dutch financial services company, said Monday that it would cut 7,000 jobs this year and that its chief executive would step down as it seeks government guarantees for toxic mortgage debt. At the same time, the British bank Barclays and BNP Paribas in France sought to reassure investors about their 2008 earnings.


Comment by NoSingleOne
2009-01-26 04:55:30

For $10, Fuld Sold Florida Mansion to His Wife

Housing prices are falling around the country, but this one sounds hard to believe: A seaside mansion on Jupiter Island in Florida, bought for more than $13 million five years ago, was just sold for $10.

That’s right, 10 bucks. But in this case, the transaction is likely to raise eyebrows for reasons other than the price.

The seller, according to county records, was Richard S. Fuld Jr., the former chairman and chief executive of Lehman Brothers. The buyer was his wife, Kathleen.

The motivation is unclear, but Mr. Fuld has been under intense scrutiny since Lehman declared bankruptcy in September.


Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 09:17:23

Thats gonna really screw up the comps in that neighborhood.

Comment by Bad Chile
2009-01-26 09:18:19

That’s gotta hurt the comps.

Comment by BanteringBear
2009-01-26 10:09:35

The crooks are looking around, starting to feel uncomfortable with the mess they created.

Comment by San Diego RE Bear
2009-01-26 10:17:50

So he has a huge personal property loss that he can’t take on his taxes and she has no basis in the property and will face a huge capital gains tax when she sells. Seems like bad planning to me.

Better idea would be to divorce and have her get the vast majority of assets (if they are trying to get stuff out of his name.) Basis remains, no tax, no liability for her for current events and I am guessing a harder time for her to be sued for past events. I hope not though. I hope they get their assets sued off!

Comment by Blue Skye
2009-01-26 13:42:53

This is silly. Family members transfer title for $1 all the time. A transaction like this offers no protection from the courts.

Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 17:11:24

“Seems like bad planning.”


We are talking about the guy who used to run Lehman, aren’t we? :lol:

Comment by DennisN
2009-01-26 10:22:51

We even had similar transactions in my lower-class neighborhood in San Jose. Across the street was a house which was once purchased as an investment and the couple later sold it to their daughter for something like $12K. I’m not sure if this would get around the Prop 13 tax basis but IIRC the basis should be transferrable from parents to children.

Comment by rms
2009-01-26 12:30:55

“I’m not sure if this would get around the Prop 13 tax basis but IIRC the basis should be transferrable from parents to children.”

Only if the child is disabled. Otherwise, the property is appraised at current value, and taxes are set accordingly.

Comment by RPK
2009-01-27 12:29:09

I’m pretty sure this is wrong in regards to “only if the child is disabled”. The couple of county assessor websites I went to make it all seem pretty straightforward.



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Comment by cobaltblue
2009-01-26 05:04:00

And the hits just keep on a comin’;

THE HAGUE (AFP) – Dutch consumer electronics giant Philips said Monday it would cut 6,000 jobs worldwide this year to cope with the global slowdown which pushed its results into the red.

The company, which employs 121,000 people globally, reported a net loss of 186 million euros (242 million dollars) for 2008 after a fourth-quarter loss of 1.47 billion euros, largely owing to an adjustment in the value of its Lumileds diode light unit.

For 2008, sales were down 1.5 percent at 26.39 billion euros

Comment by wmbz
2009-01-26 06:42:20

Caterpillar to Cut 20,000 Jobs; 2009 Forecast Trails Estimates…

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) — Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest maker of bulldozers and excavators, is cutting 20,000 jobs as the recession saps demand for construction equipment. Profit this year may be $2.50 a share excluding some items, trailing analysts’ average estimate.

The jobs number is a mixture of previously announced and new reductions, spokesman Jim Dugan said today. Questions about the depth and duration of the U.S. recession triggered a plan to cut production costs in line with a 25 percent decline in sales volume, the Peoria, Illinois-based company said in a statement.

Chief Executive Officer Jim Owens, 63, is steering the company through the worst recession in a quarter century. Builders broke ground last month on the fewest houses since record-keeping began 50 years ago and the $44 billion for road, bridge and transit projects in President Barack Obama’s stimulus package may not be enough to boost sales.

Comment by BanteringBear
2009-01-26 10:14:53

Let’s see:

Caterpillar -20,000
Sprint -8000
Home Depot -7000
Phillips -6000
GM -2000

43,000 job cuts announced today, and the stock market rockets up on such “great news”.

Comment by BanteringBear
2009-01-26 11:35:41

Forgot to add in the 19,000 from Pfizer. 62,000 jobs shedded from just six companies. Ugly is an understatement.

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Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 07:29:29

and of course Philips stock is up strongly on this bad news.

Comment by mikey
2009-01-26 08:00:28

The RE Pro’s in the greater Milwaukearea are at work before the Sleeper Bowl and other forms of tulips arrive.

Traffic at open houses, as well as phone inquiries, had picked up as of last week, Fitzgerald said. “There isn’t much of a reason not to buy.”

Except for the worries about the economy

(ha ha snicker snicker…or buy 2 or 3 Harley Davidson Fatboys today and save THAT too)


Comment by mikey
2009-01-26 09:08:35

“There isn’t much of a reason not to buy”

There isn’t much reason not to get HIT by a freight-train either.

Well, short of being killed and other than being sliced, diced, squished and missing remedial school recess for a few years, I can’t think of a one Fritz :)

Auh..The realtywhore grunts…Where do we find such FINE men and women ?

Comment by NoSingleOne
2009-01-26 05:13:07

January 26, 2009
News Analysis
Nationalization Gets a New, Serious Look

WASHINGTON — Only five days into the Obama presidency, members of the new administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are already dancing around one of the most politically delicate questions about the financial bailout: Is the president prepared to nationalize a huge swath of the nation’s banking system?

Privately, most members of the Obama economic team concede that the rapid deterioration of the country’s biggest banks, notably Bank of America and Citigroup, is bound to require far larger investments of taxpayer money, atop the more than $300 billion of taxpayer money already poured into those two financial institutions and hundreds of others.

…Well, whatever you want to call it,” said Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California. “If we are strengthening them, then the American people should get some of the upside of that strengthening. Some people call that nationalization.

“I’m not talking about total ownership,” she quickly cautioned — stopping herself by posing a question: “Would we have ever thought we would see the day when we’d be using that terminology? ‘Nationalization of the banks?’ ”


Comment by cobaltblue
2009-01-26 05:31:43

Now the Associated Press suddenl sees the light, er, make that the darkness:

Economic forecasters see gloomy outlook with more job cuts in months ahead.

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s shaping up to be another lousy year for workers, with more companies expecting to cut payrolls in the months ahead.
That’s part of the latest outlook from forecasters in a survey to be released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics that depicts the worst business conditions in the U.S. since the report’s inception in 1982.

Thirty-nine percent predicted job reductions through attrition or “significant” layoffs over the next six months, up from 32 percent in the previous survey in October. Around 45 percent in the current survey anticipated no change in hiring plans, while roughly 17 percent thought hiring would increase.

The recession, which started in December 2007, and is expected to stretch into this year, has been a job killer. The economy lost 2.6 million jobs last year, the most since 1945. The unemployment rate jumped to 7.2 percent in December.

Comment by wmbz
2009-01-26 05:48:24

“The recession, which started in December 2007, and is expected to stretch into this year, has been a job killer. The economy lost 2.6 million jobs last year, the most since 1945. The unemployment rate jumped to 7.2 percent in December”.

A lot of speculation the unemployment rates will mirror the 1980-82 era. In our state, S.Carolina we are near 9% now, with a forecast of 14% to 15% this year. In 80-82 our high was 10.3% so I see no reason this ‘recession’ won’t be much worse.

These figures are from our state unemployment commission, so the true number is bound to be higher.

Wonder how the out of work will keep making their mortgage payments?

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2009-01-26 06:00:34

Straight comparisons to 1981-2 are of questionable value anyway. The workforce has changed alot, more illegals, more 1099ers, more part timers, more low wage/no benefit service jobs, more people slipping through the cracks.

Comment by WT Economist
2009-01-26 08:53:03

Absolutely. More Schedule C.

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Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 07:41:25

The more pessimistic the forecast, the more unlikely it becomes for the stock market to be surprised by “worse than expected” results. Buy stocks now or get priced out forever :-)

Comment by samk
2009-01-26 05:41:00


“Ticket prices at viagogo, a London-based secondary ticket exchange, are down about 40 percent to $2,900, according to Reuters. Ticket prices at TicketNetwork.com, based outside Hartford, Conn., are down about 26 percent to an average of $2,200. Even last week, prices dropped on TicketNetwork.com.”

“”I really want to go,” said Jason Whitehair, 48, a Steelers fan and Ambridge native living in Plano, Texas. “But I’m not going to mortgage my house to go.”"


Will there be empty seats at SB XLIII?

Comment by not a gator
2009-01-26 18:05:33

price discovery

Comment by Carlos Cisco
2009-01-26 05:54:30

The Northern Ohio Builders’ Parade of Homes has been canceled. Guess the recovery is a few more quarters off. Maybe they could have Parade of Homeless Homes featuring the latest in soup kitchen designs. Or, maybe a Parade of Foreclosed Homes. I like that better. Change is here at last!

Comment by cobaltblue
2009-01-26 06:03:53

Spare Change You Can Hope For - Parade of the Penniless

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2009-01-26 06:07:46

There don’t seem to be so many UHS “souper bowl” comments floating around this year too. Lessee, for some states this will be Silent Spring IV.

Comment by taxmeupthebooty
2009-01-26 06:17:26

CAT casts vote on stimulus plan
cuts 20k

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2009-01-26 06:20:12

Mr. Bear,
Seems “others” in wall street covet your collection of “Eeyore of the Week” awards… :-)

By Sunday morning, Mack and his deputies had concluded that Morgan Stanley could afford to spend $1.5 billion to help digest Lehman’s bad assets.

“We were thinking, ‘We can do that and ride this out,’” recalls Kelleher, an Irishman who had been in the job for about a year. On a shelf in his office is a stuffed Eeyore, the dour donkey from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, another gift from Mack, who was tweaking his CFO for being the bearer of bad news. “But, in the back of our minds,” Kelleher says, “we were thinking, ‘Is the broker-dealer model sustainable?’”

Just after noon on Sunday, the third day of meetings at the Fed, Paulson announced that a plan for London-based Barclays Plc to buy Lehman had been stymied by U.K. regulators. “Then, it was organized mayhem,” Kelleher says.

Mack Tells Wife He May Lose Firm Before Staking All on Brokers:


Comment by samk
2009-01-26 06:23:20

Fuld sells $13.75 million dollar mansion to his wife for $10.


Comment by cobaltblue
2009-01-26 06:36:00

One might surmise that the current Administration will not attempt to save jobs for American workers by deporting illegal aliens.

Part of the reason is that the politically incorrect label of “Operation Wetback II” would inflame the editors of the New York Times, among others. But 55 years ago, for you history buffs, such a thing took place:

(From Wikipedia)

Operation Wetback was a 1954 project of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to remove about four million illegal immigrants from the southwestern United States. It focused on Mexican nationals.

Burgeoning numbers of illegal aliens prompted President Dwight D. Eisenhower to appoint his longtime friend, General Joseph Swing, as INS Commissioner. According to Attorney General Herbert Brownell Jr., Eisenhower had a sense of urgency about illegal immigration upon taking office. In a letter to Sen. William Fulbright, Eisenhower quoted a report in The New York Times that said: “The rise in illegal border-crossing by Mexican ‘wetbacks’ (rooted from the watery route taken by the Mexican immigrants across the Rio Grande) to a current rate of more than 1,000,000 cases a year has been accompanied by a curious relaxation in ethical standards extending all the way from the farmer-exploiters of this contraband labor to the highest levels of the Federal Government.

The more enlightened among us might posit that the current goal of the international banker power base that actually runs this country is to eliminate borders in North America and impose a New World Order. Of course, that’s a “curious” notion.

Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 09:42:06

I think a lot are disappearing already as the construction jobs have vanished.

Comment by palmetto
2009-01-26 10:12:00

And some are disappearing for other reasons:

Mexican “stewmaker” dissolved 300 bodies.


Now there’s a job opening for $600 per week!

Comment by milkcrate
2009-01-26 10:17:25

Many still are choking our hospitals, schools, inner cities, rural hamlets and anywhere else once cares to look.

Comment by milkcrate
2009-01-26 10:19:16


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Comment by hoz
2009-01-26 06:38:45

History of Wall Street should have warned Bank of America
By Rob Cox breakingviews.com
Published: January 25, 2009

A sad story, but it’s not new

The history of finance is littered with disastrous tales of commercial banks acquiring their Wall Street cousins. In good times, the investment bankers with their Hermès ties often sell high, then wave goodbye to their unglamorous new owners. Merrill Lynch’s snookering of Bank of America is shaping up to show it’s no different in bad times….

Of all people still running banks today, the Bank of America boss Kenneth Lewis should have known better. A year ago, he said he had “had all the fun I can stand in investment banking at the moment.” Yet he went on to buy Merrill. Now, weeks after closing the purchase, Merrill has revealed big losses that have required Lewis to plead for a government bailout, its executives have fled or been pushed out, and it has paid what look like outsized bonuses under his nose…”


Comment by palmetto
2009-01-26 08:10:12

I love this story. BofA deserves to go under, but of course, it is too big to fail.

Comment by hoz
2009-01-26 09:08:59

It did go under. So did Citigroup and a slew of other banks. These are all GSEs.

These banks issue debt that is FDIC guaranteed. That is bank failure.

Comment by palmetto
2009-01-26 09:50:25

Thanks for the clarification, hoz. As usual, you are right.

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Comment by palmetto
2009-01-26 09:53:37

But what I was trying to say, I’d like to see BofA gone as a brand. I don’t want to see its logo, its credit cards, etc. I don’t want to hear anyone say they work for “Bank Of America”.

Although I suppose, if you’re going to nationalize a financial entity, “Bank of America” is as good a name as any.

How about the First Geithner Trust?

Comment by measton
2009-01-26 09:30:08

Wasn’t there a story last week about Merrill sending out huge bonuses after the sale?

Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 09:43:43

Yeah, its not like his bonus depended on him making smart decisions or anything.

Comment by cobaltblue
2009-01-26 06:41:27

Rent now, or be able to forever!

Rents Drop Nationwide as Vacancies Spike
by Prashant Gopal
Friday, January 23, 2009

The economic crisis has opened up opportunities for apartment tenants. The inventory of vacant apartments is expanding, and rents are dropping quickly in major metros across the country.

For renters with leases about to expire, it’s time to negotiate. Landlords are working extra hard these days to keep units filled.
Of course, your ability to hold on to an apartment—especially a luxury unit—depends on how secure you feel about your own job. Americans lost about 2.6 million jobs in 2008 (mostly in the final quarter of the year) and are likely to lose millions more this year. They are losing money on stocks and other investments and are cutting back on costs by downsizing and moving in with family members or roommates as they hunker down for a deep recession.

Landlords, as a result, are forced to offer discounts to fill vacancies. Apartment vacancies spiked in September after the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the eruption of the financial crisis.

Comment by eastcoaster
2009-01-26 07:00:58

So why the spike in vacancies? Where are the tenants going? They’re definitely not buying houses so what’s left? Moving back with family?

Comment by Bill in Los Angeles
2009-01-26 07:38:47

Eastcoaster, Tenants are probably moving to places with lower rents. It’s not the supply of tenants decreasing, it’s the supply of rents increasing.

Here’s the Yahoo link about rents falling

Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 09:47:36

North Dallas is seeing a decrease in tenants. Apartment occupancy fell in 4Q 2008. Where are all the people going?

The area’s occupancy rate also fell to 91.4 percent in December, M/PF Yieldstar said. Additionally, the area’s occupancy rate fell 1.8 points during the final quarter of 2008 and fell by 2.7 points for the entire year.

“This was one of the worst quarterly demand performances ever recorded in Dallas-Fort Worth,” Greg Willett, vice president of research for M/PF Yieldstar, said. “For move-outs to reach this magnitude, job loss has to be pretty substantial. It looks likely that there will be huge revisions to the current employment statistics that say D-FW is adding jobs at a reasonably healthy pace.”

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Comment by not a gator
2009-01-26 18:12:32

well, poor people move in together when they can no longer make it on their own.

also, repartments and new apts upped units, but demand did not rise, thus the increase in vacancies–hahahaahahahah

Comment by Laurel, md
2009-01-26 08:02:38

Niece’s husband just lost his welding job…she is still working - $11hr, but they are moving in with her parents.

Comment by rms
2009-01-26 12:45:31

Will her parents be able adjust to their unemployed son-in-law having Lucky Charms and a 20-oz dark beer for brunch?

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Comment by Mikey(2)
2009-01-26 08:30:29

Wouldn’t some of the tenants be moving to lower-rent houses/condos that have been converted to rentals after languishing unsold on the market? I’m seeing lots of “for rent ” signs joining the “for sale” signs of properties.

Comment by bluprint
2009-01-26 08:30:35

They could be getting roommates.

Comment by Carlos Cisco
2009-01-26 08:38:43

Just found out that my daughter’s in-laws have very recently combined 3 extended families into one home. While not that big of a deal for this ethnic ( but, non-hispanic) demographic, she noted that all 6 or 7 adults were either employed or had incomes of some sort. This in sunny California.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2009-01-26 07:42:22

Remember the trolls of 2006/2007 (pre-extinction), who so confidently informed us that rising rents would make buying a home much more compelling? Numerous, wiser posters in here pointed out the fallacy in this “logic,” noted that millions of FBs and others in financial distress would be moving back in with parents or other relatives, or doubling up in smaller houses, and that rents would have to go down because earnings and credit scores would be decimated.

Trolls, come out to plaaaay-yaaaayyyy!

Comment by Bill in Los Angeles
2009-01-26 08:03:02

Yep! And the list of rent decreases only showed the top ten. It did not show the other cities. And I think the rents will falll further. California rents will start falling when the Option ARM resets peak as more rentals will become available. Option ARMs were mostly in California.

High end real estate in California will take a hit in the next two years.

Comment by rms
2009-01-26 12:50:00

“High end real estate in California will take a hit in the next two years.”

+1 Particularly the coastal regions.

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Comment by CA renter
2009-01-27 05:19:39


I was saying back then that rents would rise **initially** as homes were being held off the market as REOs and “excess” inventory on the MLS waited for non-existant buyers.

All of this came to pass, and San Diego did see rising rents in the 2004-current timeframe, some increases were very significant.

Naturally, as inventory is released back onto the market and as the economy slows, rents should decrease. The more desirable areas have seen very little slack in the rental market because evicted FBs have discovered that they can live in “nice” neighborhoods for a fraction of what they were paying for a crap shack with a toxic mortgage.

Still looking forward to decreasing rents and prices.

Comment by NoVaWatcher
2009-01-26 08:46:00


For example, here in Fairfax there is a block of 133 condos that were foreclosed on. The complex went condo, and these never sold. In all likelihood they be bought by a management company and turned back into apartments, as they’ d easily cashflow at the current asking price.

We also have tons of new condo building that have been built in the past 8 years, and some are still coming online. Some of the later ones were turned into apartments at the last minute because they didn’t sell.

Anyway you slice it, supply is up relative to demand, causing prices to fall. I can vouch that our landlord didn’t raise our rent this year, and I doubt he’ll be able to next year, given the vacancies in the complex.

Comment by packman
2009-01-26 11:17:24

Interestingly - conspicuously absent from that list are midwest and/or rust belt cities. The only one is Minneapolis. I would have thought Cleveland etc. - especially Detroit - would have been near the top.

Comment by hoz
2009-01-26 06:44:33

In a depression, people stop going out to eat.

In a recession, people dine at McDonald’s.

Comment by darrell_in_phx
2009-01-26 06:52:07

Is this pre-2-income-family?

And, I don’t know many that say we’re in a depression right now. Just heading into one.

The debt collapse is picking up steam.

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2009-01-26 06:54:01

In a depression, people are seen in soup lines

In a recession, people pause & consider the 8oz starmucks for $1.00

Still $9.99 per bag @ Stater Bros… :-)

Comment by awaiting wipeout
2009-01-26 07:09:51

With the Food Stamp Debit Card, the govt. will be/is able to hide the food lines.

imho, Starbucks tastes like burnt mud.

Comment by mikey
2009-01-26 08:11:56

“inho, Starbuck tastes like burnt mud.”

“What ?…OMG!?!…Someone is finally ON TO US !” “Dump your stock, grab the mistress and run for the corporate jet Ed” :)

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Comment by CrackerJim
2009-01-26 08:40:27

“imho, Starbucks tastes like burnt mud.”

I couldn’t have said it better!

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Comment by lavi d
2009-01-26 14:23:43

imho, Starbucks tastes like burnt mud

I have to third (or fourth) that, with this clarification:

Starbucks house blend tastes like burnt mud.

An SB mocha frappucino, on the other hand, is delish on a summer day.

Comment by not a gator
2009-01-26 18:15:33

that’s because burnt coffee tastes awesome with cream and sugar

I love sbux brand ice cream. can live w/out the coffee. honestly it’s as bad if not worse than the cruddy brew at work… (only virtue: ‘contains caffeine’)

Comment by DennisN
2009-01-26 10:34:06

The SF Bay Coffee Roasting Co. stuff at Costco tastes much better than Starbucks, and it comes in a 3 lb bag of beans for $12. This is a much better deal. Their French Roast doesn’t taste “burnt” like Starbucks.

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Comment by Bill in Los Angeles
2009-01-26 11:24:18

Dunkin’ Doughnuts coffee tastes better than Starbucks too! And as a bonus, you don’t get the PC stuff (environmentally-friendly, charities, and so on) with Dunkin’ Doughnuts.

Also I boycotted Ben & Jerry’s years ago. Admittedly, their ice cream tastes the best but I don’t want to sanction their socialism.

Comment by not a gator
2009-01-26 18:18:04

ha ha, bill, good one! you were hoping we’d forget for a minute that B&J sold out to Unilever (yes, the soap company) years ago and that they’ve cheapened the product to the point of irrelevance.

My local B&J shop is desperate for customers … duh, even the college students have figured out that THIS ice cream is not “to die for” … there’s plenty of competition, bozos.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-01-26 16:30:46

My favorite coffee is from a place called the “Chit Chat” cafe located on the Pacifica Pier. 2nd is from Caffino.

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Comment by cynicalgirl
2009-01-26 07:45:26

Campbell’s stock is doing pretty well these days, too.

Comment by polly
2009-01-26 09:13:01

Soup is good food….

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Comment by Carlos Cisco
2009-01-26 10:49:20

Making some in my crock pot right now…..easlily one half the cost of Campbells and better, too.

Comment by not a gator
2009-01-26 18:19:35

made my own black eyed peas from scratch yesterday–yum!

I almost gave up soaking & cooking beans after some mishaps with kidney beans. Turns out those are the hardest beans to do yourself.

Comment by eastcoaster
2009-01-26 07:05:21

Which leaves us where?…

Last update: 8:29 a.m. EST Jan. 26, 2009
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — McDonald’s Corp. on Monday posted a 23% decline in fourth quarter profit, dragged down by a dip in sales and weighed against a one-time gain in the year-ago period.

Comment by darrell_in_phx
2009-01-26 06:48:37

CNN has a story on “What would you do with tax credit”.

Totally unscientific poll of course, but may give some hint at public mood… or perhaps influence it.

14 answers… 3 say they won’t get the credit. Retired, unemployed, makes too much.

1 would buy a mountain bike. 1 pay tuition to improve her education, 1 surround system, and 1 would go to Disney World.

Pay down debt, pay down credit card, pay down student loans, pay down mortgage, save, save.

Comment by polly
2009-01-26 09:55:31

HBB survey time!!!

I didn’t get the last one, so I assume that I wouldn’t get this one. Haven’t really been interested enough to check the details out. So I put myself in “the won’t get it” group.


Comment by San Diego RE Bear
2009-01-26 20:11:16

Vegas baby.

(But only for educational purposes mind you. :D )

Comment by eastcoaster
2009-01-26 10:51:08

If I were to get one, I’d toss it in savings. Don’t “need” to buy anything right now (and I rarely buy just because I “want” something).

Comment by whino
2009-01-26 11:23:56

I was reading through the comments, and one posted this:

Please remember my fine responders, this is a TAX CREDIT, not a rebate check. The government is not handing you $500.00. Go to http://www.irs.gov and get a better understanding of how a tax credit works. Be informed and not rely on false hopes. However, every little bit helps right?

Dashing the hopes of many on that board.

Comment by mikey
2009-01-26 06:49:13

“Buy Now..and be Dazed and be Confused Later !”

* Subject to : 20 down, 30 yr fixed, 725-825 FICO and your First Born Child…Apply NOW :)

Comment by NoSingleOne
2009-01-26 06:51:12

Did anybody catch Barbara Corcoran on the Today show this morning?

Now is still a good time to buy! Especially since San Diego, Phoenix, and many other markets have “turned the corner”.

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 08:23:31

at least it’s a better time to buy in most places compared to 1-2 years ago.

The Dutch realtors today launched a huge full page advertising campaign in the newspapers, stating that there never was a better time to buy a home. Yes, you can still get in at the top :)

Comment by mikey
2009-01-26 09:33:33

Dutch RE has ALWAYS been, but FOR the whims of dykes, pumps and the Rain Gods, underwater :)

Comment by cobaltblue
2009-01-26 06:52:42

And another one down:

Sprint Nextel to eliminate 8,000 positions in bid to cut costs $1.2 billion
Monday January 26, 2009, 8:17 am EST

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Sprint Nextel Corp. is eliminating about 8,000 positions in the first quarter as it seeks to cut annual costs by $1.2 billion. The nation’s third-largest wireless provider said Monday it will complete the layoffs largely by March 31. About 850 of the reductions are voluntary and the company said it expected a charge of more than $300 million for severance and other costs.

The company is also suspending its 401(k) match for the year, extending a freeze on salary increases and is suspending a tuition reimbursement program.

The Overland Park, Kan.-based company has struggled since acquiring Nextel Communications Inc. in 2005 as technical problems, poor efforts to consolidate the two companies and stiff competition for feature-rich phones has led many subscribers to switch to competing services.

Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 09:53:20

First the pensions went away. Now the 401k match is going away..

Comment by scdave
2009-01-26 10:33:41

Which make the jobs that still have pensions & 401k’s all the more golden…You get one guess where most of those jobs are…

Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2009-01-26 12:36:13

401k match going away means most people will stop contributing because there is no longer “free money”. It also means stocks will go lower.

Comment by In Colorado
2009-01-26 13:10:19

That’s right. The match suspensions are anything but temporary.

Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 17:49:23

Medical benefits will be cut next.

So, what does that leave in the way of benefits? Looks like a big fat “nothing” to me.

Comment by cobaltblue
2009-01-26 06:58:26

And another one bites the dust:

CHICAGO (AP) — Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., the largest producer of cardboard box materials in North America, said Monday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it looks to restructure a heavy debt. The Chicago-based company said it filed for protection from creditor claims while it develops a financial reorganization plan in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del. Its Canadian units will file under the companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the company said.

Smurfit-Stone has been struggling to repay its debt, which at the end of the third quarter was $3.5 billion — nearly half its yearly revenue of roughly $7.5 billion.

Chairman and Chief Executive Patrick J. Moore said in a statement that by restructuring its debt Smurfit-Stone would create a better capital structure.

“The acceleration of the unprecedented global economic recession has weakened demand for packaging, and the frozen credit markets have prevented an out-of-court refinancing of our capital structure,” Moore said in a statement. “While this is not the outcome we anticipated, we are taking this action to become a more financially healthy company.”

The company said it expects to continue operations during the bankruptcy process and has received commitments for up to $750 million in debtor-in-possession financing to fund continuing operations.

Earlier this month, a report said Smurfit-Stone was actively exploring bankruptcy protection and had engaged a law firm and financial advisers with expertise in bankruptcy filings.

Comment by Bill in Carolina
2009-01-26 08:21:56

Will Papa Smurf lose his job too? :-)

Comment by DennisN
2009-01-26 10:38:26

IIRC Smurfit bought out National Can Co. years ago. I used to drive past the NCC plant in Santa Clara on my way to work and it was relabled “Smurfit” at least ten years ago. Always made me laugh when I read the sign out front.

Comment by (Soon to be ex-) GS fixer
2009-01-26 14:17:20

Hasn’t Stone Container been in some kind of financial doo-doo since they were involved in some kind of leveraged buyout, back in the late 80s-early 90s?

Comment by vozworth
2009-01-26 17:35:55

Who needs a cardboard box?
TARP it…..ship it.

Save the cardboard for stay-cations.

Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 17:53:55

Got that right! :lol:

Comment by Ernest
2009-01-26 06:58:42

ING Group to Cut 7,000 Jobs

Caterpillar Inc. said it’s taking steps to cut its workforce by 20,000 jobs.

The layoff machine is in full swing and picking up speed.

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2009-01-26 07:10:58

But, in mere 26 weeks…they “officially”… won’t be a statistic! ;-)

(hwy50 hits the Staples…That’s easy! button) ;-)

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 07:54:52

ING stock up 30% today; we need more bad news, desperately!!

Comment by darrell_in_phx
2009-01-26 07:02:39

Home Depot cutting 7000 and closing Expo.

We are pushing 60K job cuts announced this morning… But futures are up.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 07:35:31

“But futures are up.”

I don’t know about you, but I have seen this movie before, or at least one that begins this way. In the early 1990s, once it was clear the U.S. was in a recession, job cuts ramped up and Main Street’s pain only increased for months on end, while Wall Street seemed to be having a private party for residents of Upper Richistan, only. The standard explanation was that (1) the bad news was already fully priced in to the market once everyone knew the economy was in the tank; (2) cutting jobs during a recession would make firms more efficient (i.e., profitable), and hence paves the way for future profit growth. Nobody mentioned the giant liquidity pump churning away at the Fed, which just might have had some role in the resilience of the stock market as well.

It remains to be seen if this recession turns out to be ‘worse than expected’, leading to a further leg down* in the U.S. stock market.

*I put up a long post in Saturday’s bits bucket which pointed out that although the stock market bust has thus far lasted only four quarters, versus the median 10 quarter duration for a post-1960 bust in developed country economies, the U.S. market already had dropped by over 50 percent by last fall, versus the median 45.5 percent drop over the duration of post-1960 busts. What I failed to mention is that (according to the IMF report I cited), the equity busts which began during the 1972-74 period resulted in a median 60.1 percent drop in real equity (stock) prices. Of course, the Great Crash surpassed all of these, and I don’t have those figures handy (I believe Irrational Exuberance by Robert Shiller includes them).

Comment by packman
2009-01-26 08:57:12

IMO the stock market is starting to price in expectations of future inflation (high or hyper). Zimbabwe had the best performing stock market in the world for a while, before they stopped trading just over a month ago. Yeah I know that’s an absurd extreme, but I think the principle still applies. All the money being creating will eventually flow out into the system. Even though in real terms the stock market will continue to crash for years, in $$ terms it will probably be flat or even rise somewhat, and will eventually take off if we resume a “normal” economy.

I for one am looking for one last pop down to close out all my shorts. I’m guessing others are doing the same. I only hope I’m not too late.

Comment by In Montana
2009-01-26 09:49:09

exactly what I was asking the other day, but people assumed I was predicting hyperinflation for sure. So it looks like the only recourse for money stuck in a 401k acct would be to spread it out into equities as the stocks inflate - ?

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Comment by packman
2009-01-26 13:01:33

Yeah unfortunately there just aren’t much options with 401k. Once nice thing about changing jobs recently is I can roll my previous 401k into an IRA and at least to have more choices with ETF’s and such.

Another option someone mentioned the other day is to take out a loan against your 401k and then invest it however you please. I haven’t done the numbers though to see how attractive that is.

Comment by polly
2009-01-26 10:08:45

Why would the stock market predict something the bond market isn’t predicting? No, this really is a question. I want to know.

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Comment by VirginiaTechDan
2009-01-26 12:40:36

It is hard to know “what” any market is predicting when the Fed can print money to manipulate the price every which way.

Comment by packman
2009-01-26 12:54:20

IMO the bond market is predicting it. Note that the incredible demand right now is for short-term bills and bonds, not long-term. If there were expectations of continued deflation, the opposite would be true.

Comment by packman
2009-01-26 13:17:52

(P.S. I swear I posted that before I read mrktMaven’s post below on the Bloomberg article - lack of demand for longer-term treasuries)

Comment by Little Al
2009-01-26 07:35:57

Futures are up. That’s a good one. I believe the bottom of this cycle is somewhere between now and 24 months away. Safe prediction, huh? I would love to throw my savings long into the market at the apex of panic.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 07:40:41

well.. Why wouldn’t futures be up on news of this sort?
Bloated companies tied to shrinking industries downsize and trim labor.
Don’t moves like this cut costs and losses, increase their chances of survival and maybe of turning a profit, and even offer room for growth when things eventually turn around?

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:06:06

Please refer to my comment above about the standard explanation.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 08:23:56

yeah.. so what’s your point? You think futures are up this morning because the fed is messing with interest rates?

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Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:45:16

My point is that you were parroting the standard explanation.

Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 10:09:18

All the companies stopping 401k matches means a lot less money flowing into mutual funds.

Comment by Bill in Los Angeles
2009-01-26 07:40:51

Also, the Messiah is going to look invincable. He says it’s going to get worse before it gets better. We will all bow to him when we see he is right.

Comment by exeter
2009-01-26 07:45:51

Isn’t he great?!

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-01-26 09:33:40

Yes, He sure is! *rapturous sigh of adoration *

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Comment by Blano
2009-01-26 11:52:46

Quit staring at his pecs…..both of you. :)

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Comment by Olympiagal
2009-01-26 16:23:23


Comment by Brett
2009-01-26 07:46:54

Well, I do not think it’s hard to figure out that things are getting worse.

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2009-01-26 10:44:27

What would you prefer he do, lie to you and say the economy is “fundamentally sound” and recovery is in sight?

Comment by BanteringBear
2009-01-26 12:05:36

I think it was: “the economy is shtrong”.

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Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-01-26 16:37:03

Too funny Bantering.

Comment by bananarepublic
2009-01-26 12:04:45

You sound bitter, Bill. Face it, your team screwed up the country, and then lost the election big time.

Get over it!

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-01-26 08:50:04

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not shop at Home Depot. Reason: When I’m shopping for building materials, I want to deal with people who know what they are. I’m not always sure that’s the case at the Depot.

Comment by scdave
2009-01-26 10:43:44

Lowes is better…

Comment by lavi d
2009-01-26 14:39:22

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not shop at Home Depot

I remember how thrilled I was when Home Depot opened on east Broadway in Tucson.

Back then, I was doing a lot of stuff that required building-like materials - making silk-screen frames, canvas stretchers, painting murals with housepaint - and their prices and selection just blew the doors off Standard Brands and Tru Value.

I was even happier when they built the oracle and River location.

Ah, memories…

Comment by aNYCdj
2009-01-26 07:05:30

Lehman’s Fuld sold Florida mansion to wife for $100
Sun Jan 25, 2009 7:59pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fallen Lehman Brothers Chief Executive Richard Fuld sold his $13.3 million mansion to his wife for just $100 last November, according to Florida real estate records.

The 62-year old executive, who could face civil lawsuits after overseeing the storied investment bank’s collapse into Chapter 11 proceedings last September, transferred ownership of the 3.3 acres seaside home to Kathleen Fuld on November 10, records show.

The couple had jointly bought the home for $13.75 million in March 2004, as first reported by Cityfile.com.

Fuld has been blamed for Lehman’s collapse on September 15 after it was weighed down by bad assets leading to the largest-ever U.S. bankruptcy when it was unable to find a buyer to come to its rescue.

He was widely criticized for not acting quickly enough to save the 158-year old bank.

Though Fuld told U.S. lawmakers he took full responsibility for his actions and felt “horrible about what has happened to the company,” he insisted he shared the blame with U.S. regulators and Congress.

Fuld, who was awarded $22 million in compensation in fiscal 2007, stepped down as Lehman chief executive at the end of last year and did not receive any bonus or severance when he left.

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 09:24:04

looks like he can act quick enough when it comes to his own assets ;)

Comment by In Montana
2009-01-26 09:51:08

fraudulent transfer. IIRC the court can look back and undo that. Maybe a more active atty than I can comment..

Comment by scdave
2009-01-26 10:46:00

I believe (?) Florida law protects your personal residence from creditors…

Comment by Blano
2009-01-26 14:07:23


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Comment by Muir
2009-01-26 15:33:15


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Comment by wmbz
2009-01-26 07:18:21

The boyz know how to spend BARF money…


Beleaguered Citigroup is upgrading its mile-high club with a brand-new $50 million corporate jet - only this time, it’s the taxpayers who are getting screwed.

Even though the bank’s stock is as cheap as a gallon of gas and it’s burning through a $45 billion taxpayer-funded rescue, the airhead execs pushed through the purchase of a new Dassault Falcon 7X, according to a source familiar with the deal.

The French-made luxury jet seats up to 12 in a plush interior with leather seats, sofas and a customizable entertainment center, according to Dassault’s sales literature. It can cruise 5,950 miles before refueling and has a top speed of 559 mph.

Comment by CrackerJim
2009-01-26 08:46:11

“..pushed through the purchase of a new Dassault Falcon 7X..”

That’s a good way to stimulate US jobs growth with US taxpayers’ dollars: buy A French made jet!

Comment by Blano
2009-01-26 09:14:03

Is anybody else actually complaining about this?? Where is the outrage??

Comment by Don't Know Nothin About Buyin No House
2009-01-26 15:26:58

Better question is where is the outrage over this and everything else.

Interesting guest on SF bay talk radio yesterday. She said in a disaster, unlike popular assumption that people panic, she said people are fist in denial and “do nothing”. Next phase is people try to rationalize the disaster with a “this too shall pass attitude”, which perpetuates more of doing nothing.

Comment by mikey
2009-01-26 11:07:13

These big shots and CEO’s seem to have an insatiable NEED for high speed and air travel.

Why hasn’t ANYONE suggested trhrowing their greedy, lame A$$E$ OFF the TOP of the Empire State building as a CURE ? :)

Comment by (Soon to be ex-) GS fixer
2009-01-26 11:30:28

FYI ……..

The way the sales of these aircraft are structured, it was probably cheaper to take delivery of the aircraft, then go ahead and sell it, than it was to cancel the order, and lose the deposit, progress payments. etc. Especially if they hold an early delivery position….they could actually break even, or make a little money off the deal.

Also…….a significant percentage of the aircraft’s subassemblies are “Made in USA”. especially, the “high value” stuff (avionics, engines, interior and exterior completion, etc.)

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 07:38:29

Since the Fed did such a smashing job regulating the financial sector for the past 20 years, it must be high time to consolidate more regulatory power in their hands.

New tasks for Fed raising concerns
Agency’s regulatory role could expand
By Neil Irwin and Binyamin Appelbaum
2:00 a.m. January 26, 2009

WASHINGTON – Congress is moving to create strong new oversight of the financial sector that would likely give the Federal Reserve authority to examine the workings of a range of companies to address one of the key failures that led to the financial crisis.

But the initiative, which could be finalized in the House by spring, is raising concerns about whether it would muddy the Fed’s traditional mission and concentrate too much power in a single federal body.

The legislation envisioned by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., would put the Fed, or less likely another government agency, in charge of protecting the stability of the entire system, Frank and other congressional sources said.

An abundance of federal agencies regulate the financial industry. No agency is responsible for understanding or containing risks affecting the entire system. In fact, none even has a complete picture of the financial markets.

The danger was highlighted by last year’s meltdown of insurance giant American International Group. In the days before the government was forced to bail out the firm, no federal official comprehended the magnitude of the threat the company’s troubles posed to the economy.

Under Frank’s legislation, the new regulator likely would be given the power to gather information about the inner workings of banks, investment firms, insurance companies, hedge funds and any other entity big enough or so intertwined with other companies that it creates the risk of a systemic collapse. These companies would have to provide detailed information about how they manage risk, their derivative contracts and the extent to which they use borrowed money.

“We need to give some regulator the power to restrain risk-taking that is excessive,” Frank said.

Comment by packman
2009-01-26 09:04:16


Attention all planets of the solar federation
Attention all planets of the solar federation
Attention all planets of the solar federation
We have assumed control.
We have assumed control.
We have assumed control.

Those crazy Canadians were 100 years behind in their prediction.

Comment by Limin'
2009-01-26 11:15:16

Great Anthem (tip o’ the hat to Ayn Rand)!
First Federal Bank of Syrinx?

Comment by packman
2009-01-26 13:14:06

Guess I never thought about it but does seem very Ayn Rand-ish. As a matter of fact, just noticed this in Neil Peart’s bio on Wikipedia:

While in London he came across the writings of novelist and objectivist Ayn Rand. Rand’s writings became a significant philosophical influence on Peart, as he found many of her treatises to individualism and Objectivism inspiring. References to Rand’s philosophy can be found in his lyrics, most notably “Anthem” from 1975’s Fly By Night and “2112″ from the 1976 Rush album, 2112.[8]

One of my favorite all-time bands. Good stuff.

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Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-01-26 16:42:18


Comment by Brett
2009-01-26 07:45:21

Caterpillar is still profitable (1.08/share), but they are cutting 20,000 jobs?? What would happen if they went into the negative zone???

Caterpillar says to cut 20,000 jobs

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Caterpillar Inc said on Monday that quarterly earnings fell more than 32 percent and warned of a tough year ahead as the downturn that began in the United States metastasized into a full-blown global recession that hit sales of its earth-moving equipment.

The company also warned that profit in 2009 would be under severe pressure and said that it would cut about 17,000 workers and buy out 2,500 others, to reduce costs in the face of what it predicted would be the weakest year for business since the end of World War Two.

The news sent the company’s shares skidding more than 10 percent in premarket trading.

The company reported a fourth-quarter profit of $661 million, or $1.08 a share, compared with $975 million, or $1.50 a share, last year.

Comment by cynicalgirl
2009-01-26 10:57:42

Because the future looks grim. Nobody’s building anything, so their product isn’t selling.

Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 18:06:29

When companies cut like this and are still showing profit, you can bet their future orders have dried up.

No speculation required. Millions of dollars of future deliverable and still in negotiation contracts got canceled.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 07:46:30

The gloom is so thick you would need a chain saw to cut through it.

latest news
Reports: Iceland government resigns

Business survey sees worst conditions since 1982
By Nick Godt, MarketWatch
Last update: 12:20 a.m. EST Jan. 26, 2009

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The U.S. economic recession deepened in the fourth quarter of 2008, and business conditions are now at their worst in over 27 years, according to a January survey of businesses by the National Association for Business Economics.

“NABE’s January 2009 Industry Survey depicts the worst business conditions since the survey began in 1982, confirming that the U.S. recession deepened in the fourth quarter of 2008,” said Sarah Johnson, an analyst with NABE.

The survey also showed rising pessimism about the outlook for the economy, with 78% of respondents now expecting gross domestic production to be lower in 2009 than in 2008. In October of last year, only 38% expected a decline.

Businesses surveyed also said tight credit-market conditions continue to hurt them, with 52% saying they were moderately or severely affected, and 78% reporting their customers were adversely affected.

All sectors of the economy reported a direct negative impact, except for services.

Falling profit margins were also reported by an overwhelming majority of firms, by a ratio of 5 to 1, also the worst reading since 1982, NABE said.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 07:48:47

Despite all the bad news, the U.S. stock market is taking off like a rocket. Is this a sign of irrational exuberance, rational optimism, or PPT intervention?

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 07:50:34

Uh oh…I am suddenly reminded of the space shuttle <a href=”http://www.marketwatch.com/quotes/indu”Challenger lift off.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 07:58:35
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Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-01-26 08:51:41

Roger, go at throttle up…

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Comment by Matt_in_TX
2009-01-26 17:09:18

January 29, 2009: 09:15. A moment of silence by employees at the Memorial Grove, on the Johnson Space Center.

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 07:58:32

the EU stockmarkets are up even more (Netherlands up 4.5% thanks to bad news from ING and Philips).

Hyperinflation seems a sure thing with the latest noise coming out of the FED and the way the BOE, ECB and EU governments are now following their path. Pain for big or small speculators and debtors is not allowed, so they will inflate all the problems away.

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 08:12:25

unbelievable: tenthousands of job losses from a few Dutch companies and the stockmarket surges like never before; UP 6% already, totally insane …

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Comment by oxide
2009-01-26 09:00:54

Quite believable. For a coporation, job losses are considered “cutting the fat.” Fewer people, more work done, etc.

All companies want people to buy stuff, but no company wants people to work. Orwell solved this in 1984 by creating perpetual useless war to destroy goods and services. Worked for World War II…

Any company that says “our people are our greatest resource” is full of it.

Comment by bluprint
2009-01-26 10:02:16

Any company that says “our people are our greatest resource” is full of it.

I think the typical line is “asset”, not “resource”. It’s an important distinction since one goal of any company, generally, should be to minimize assets while maintaining revenue, profit, etc.

Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 18:13:12

Taking off? Yer being funny, right? :wink:

Comment by yensoy
2009-01-26 07:59:56

Wake me up when Iceland merges with one of the other nordic countries out there. 300000 people a country doesn’t make, at least not a viable one. There are 300000 people living within half a mile of me. Hell, my company employees and family total to probably more than that count. Iceland is a joke. No disrespect to the fine folks of Iceland though.

(FYI, the Economist a few issues ago advocated that Belgium should dissolve. Just saying that these kinds of opinions are mainstream.)

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:04:09

They are definitely a country, as defined by genetically and culturally distinct group of people with a sovereign government, and they were perfectly viable until they got mixed up with the global banking debacle.

Comment by ella
2009-01-27 16:12:40

“They are definitely a country, as defined by genetically and culturally distinct group of people with a sovereign government, and they were perfectly viable until they got mixed up with the global banking debacle.”


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Comment by reuven
2009-01-26 09:46:26

Maybe Iceland’s best bet would be getting American “survivalist” types (with adequate wealth to insure they won’t be a burden) to relocate! Put some pro-business tax laws in place, and become a tax haven.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:01:37

It looks like Lewis was playing a prisoner’s dilemma game, but he didn’t realize it until it was too late :-)

Thain says Bank of America knew of Merrill’s losses, bonuses
By Greg Morcroft
Last update: 9:52 a.m. EST Jan. 26, 2009

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — John Thain, the recently departed head of Merrill Lynch , said last week in a farewell memo to Merrill employees that Bank of America knew about all of Merrill’s losses that were reported recently, and was also aware of and approved, controversial year-ended bonuses paid to Merrill staff. “The size of the (bonus) pool, its composition (cash and stock mix), and the timing of the payments for both the cash and stock were all determined together with Bank of America and approved by our Management Development and Compensation Committee and our board,” Thain wrote in the memo.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-01-26 16:47:51

Sounds like to me someone forgot to read the fine print in the memo ;)

Comment by mrktMaven
2009-01-26 08:05:32

Many in Japan were relieved to see their economy growing at a healthy pace again thanks to strong exports, after a slump for more than a decade. But many didn’t realize just how vulnerable the economy was becoming to consumers abroad, despite decades of hectoring from the U.S. and Europe that Japan needed to rely less on exports and more on domestic demand.

The foreign advice was hard to implement. That’s because workers’ pay was kept low amid competition from low-cost nations like China, making it tougher for them to spend.

WSJ: Japan Caught in the Pop of Its Manufacturing, Export Bubble

Comment by The Housing Wizard
2009-01-26 10:29:43

Your post is another example of why the World wage monopoly doesn’t work and Countries that depend on exports will crash hard during contractions . Globalism did not achieve its ideals of efficiency but rather it achieve the ideal of more money in the pockets of the Market Makers and the World was not uplifted by consumer Nations going into debt to buy products that were produced by slave labor .

Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 18:19:19

The rising vector of costs had to cross the falling vector of wages.

Ta Da! Here we are!

Comment by Brett
2009-01-26 08:07:37

One of my college roommates is a lesbian from Indiana; she and her girlfriend have been together for a little over 3 years or so. Her gf is from Costa Rica, and they met during college. Her parnet was here on a student visa, and she managed to get a job after graduation with an H1 visa.

Last night, I was chatting with my Rachel, and she said her gf was laid off last week. Now, they are freaking out ’cause Olga was handed out plane tickets to go back to Costa Rica ’cause she’s ‘out of status’ after being laid off.

Although she’s been here for like 8 years, Olga has no other choice to stay legally in the US. Our immigration system is pretty retarted; I mean, this girl went to college here and graduated with super high GPA, she’s paid her taxes, no crimilar records and is contributing to the economy in a positive way, but she still cannot stay here although she’s done ‘everything right’. On the other hand, there are so many poorly skilled immigrants using tons of government assistance with green cards and stuff. I really pisses me off!!!

And obviously, my friend Rachel can’t do anything to help Olga stay since they can’t legally marry or do any of those civil union things.

This is the second experience like this in 2009 that I encounter this year. Last year, a really good friend had to move back to Belize because of similar reasons.

Comment by Brett
2009-01-26 08:10:30

I know most of you guys have very little sympathy towards immigrants, international students and H1 workers, but it’s tough when it hits close to home. When I was in college, I became friends with some good people from all over the world, and it’s very frustrating how many of them have had to go back to their home countries because of the retarded immigration system.

Comment by Bill in Carolina
2009-01-26 08:26:20

Sure, let ‘em stay, so you and I can pay out even more in welfare benefits. Deny them benefits? How could you be so cruel! Think of the children!

Comment by Brett
2009-01-26 08:48:32

Mmmm… I think I am talking about college educated people that in most cases give back to the economy a lot more than the vast majority of the people of this country who live off of welfare. If you have any doubts, go to Mississippi or Lousiana and check out how many US people live off of financial help from the government.

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Comment by speedingpullet
2009-01-26 09:19:56

Careful there Bill, your xenophobia is showing…..

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Comment by sartre
2009-01-26 14:00:14

thats right, we should send back all skilled immigrants, we only need unskilled labor crossing the border illegally. Great idea.

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Comment by Muir
2009-01-26 15:42:58

What makes you think that is not the idea?

Comment by waiting_in_la
2009-01-26 15:40:01

Don’t be a dick, Bill.

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Comment by Matt_in_TX
2009-01-26 17:12:55

“I know most of you guys have very little sympathy towards immigrants, international students and H1 workers, but it’s tough when it hits close to home.”

Illegal immigrants.
One of my brother-in-laws is legally waiting for the U.S. government to process his application of 1994. Something tells me the system is a bit behind, perhaps due to all the line jumpers.

Comment by mikey
2009-01-26 08:27:51

Brett…An unemployed American CAN’T stay in Costa Rica indefinitey either. Counties that provide services and benefits tend to be FUNNY about little things like that.

I believe one is required to submit PROOF of a fixed income retirement/gov’t pension or be the owner/co-owner of a business or some minor deal like that.

Oh, you can marry a local Costa Rican honey and TRY to work around a few of the immigration requirements :)

Comment by Pinch-a-penny
2009-01-26 08:30:38

My cousin spent around 8 years here. He has 2 Masters, one in International business, and the other in finance. With the Teck wreck the company laid him off, but agreed to keep him “on the books” for his severance period, or about 1 month. This gave him time to ship everything that 8 years of life had allowed him to acumulate, but he was always aware that he had a “temporary” visa, and everything that was bought was small, and easily shipped. He was under no illusions that he would be able to stay, and made plans accordingly. He now lives back in his country, with enough money saved here, that he still has access to, and nice stuff that he sent home.
Considering the state of the US, it is not a bad outcome, and if done right, those people going back “home” will be much better off.

Comment by FP
2009-01-26 08:37:03

This kind of brings an important note to Silicon Valley H1 workers. There is alot of H1 India workers here and I’m thinking this is going to be a HUGE issue when layoffs are already happening and much more coming.

With unemployment rising, will the US government hand out H1 visas when there is a glut of unemployed skilled US citizens and residents in the country already?

Comment by Brett
2009-01-26 08:51:45

Probably not; I don’t think companies will be hiring any international people. If I’m not mistaken, it takes a lot of money to get the paperwork done and hire lawyers to sponsor an H1 employee. I personally think companies will have a large pool of US workers willing to take pay cuts; those should be able to fill any vacancies.

Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 10:56:23

We’ll see, but I still expect the 85,000 H1-b visas to be snapped up on the first day in May as usual.

After all, Microsoft isn’t laying off the H1-bs first now, is it?

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Comment by Brett
2009-01-26 12:10:10

I don’t think we know that for sure; again, people are making assumptions without knowing the facts.

Comment by VaBeyatch in Virginia Beach
2009-01-26 12:55:29

Our Indian employees (from India) already moved back home. They have started companies back home. Not sure if they are from wealthy families or just took their savings with them.

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Comment by ET-Chicago
2009-01-26 08:57:07

With unemployment rising, will the US government hand out H1 visas when there is a glut of unemployed skilled US citizens and residents in the country already?

Good question.

The Microsofties, for example, just laid off 5,000 people, but seem to perpetually lobby for looser H-1 restrictions because the talent pool is too shallow …

Comment by Seattle Renter
2009-01-26 16:52:25

OMG you just hit it on the head. Bastards.

And they make crappy operating systems to boot(or not boot as the case may be).

They claim there aren’t enough people here to do the jobs. Well maybe if the free market was allowed to do it’s thing and drive wages and benefits up for those that do, more people would be interested in learning the skills.

As it is now, anything computer or especially IT related is a totally THANKLESS job with zero street cred. Now matter how much cool stuff you’re in charge of, to the average person on the street, you’re just another computer geek, with no distinction between you and the Rhodes scholars at Best Buy who manage to wipe out your hard drive when you bring in your PC for a routine upgrade.

I don’t even tell women I meet that’s what I do. When they ask, I tell them I’m an ordained minister….

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Comment by Olympiagal
2009-01-26 17:54:04

‘When they ask, I tell them I’m an ordained minister….’

Speaking for me, I’m already hot for yer!

Comment by ella
2009-01-27 16:09:19

“to the average person on the street, you’re just another computer geek, ”

Most people don’t actually understand what everyone else does. Either they think your job is more exciting and glamourous than it is, when it’s really just boring meetings and boring social events, or they think it actually sounds boring, even if it’s awesome. That’s why industries develop their own awards. The fastest way to win someone over is act really interested in what they do for a living and acknowledge how hard their work is. The most extreme example I ever had was at a party which was chock full of actors and directors. I found the elevator repairman in the bunch (brother of a producer) and asked him all about his job. He had a LOT to say about elevators. He was actually more interesting than the actors ;)

Now, if you tell those ladies that you are a computer geek who likes to frequent financial blogs…well, you may as well join that discussion downthread about Battlestar Gallactica. :)

(Kidding, I’m kidding!)

Comment by CrackerJim
2009-01-26 08:58:15

“With unemployment rising, will the US government hand out H1 visas when there is a glut of unemployed skilled US citizens and residents in the country already?”

Of course; they do jobs Americans won’t do (for the same rate of pay).

Comment by cactus
2009-01-26 12:12:58

“With unemployment rising, will the US government hand out H1 visas when there is a glut of unemployed skilled US citizens and residents in the country already?”

No way. I remember reading about and seeing old black and white photos of mass deportations of field workers during the last Great depression. We will be luck to avoid a trade war before this is over.

Comment by WT Economist
2009-01-26 09:01:09

The immigration debate has been dominated by a couple of fringes that make no distinction between legal and illegal immigrants. One doesn’t like people from elsewhere when push comes to shove, the other seems to favor de facto open borders but won’t admit it.

Immigrants are a great asset to this country, unless their numbers are so large they become a liability. That means open borders (the pre-1900 pattern) are a bad idea. But if the number of immigrants is to be be limited, how does the U.S. determine who gets in?

The current criteria appears to be willingness to break the law.

Comment by Brett
2009-01-26 09:28:40

The current system is retarded; they allow millions of unskilled workers to come the US because they married an unskilled US citizen. Those groups are usually uneducated, with multiplie children and are more likely to hurt the economy by using welfare system. That is the type of immigrant we do not need in this country in massive amounts.

On the other hand, we are sending back home scientists, engineers and other professionals who went to school in the US and are among the brighest in the world just because they didn’t marry a US citizen?

That makes no sense to me.

Comment by Steve
2009-01-26 11:03:13

My wife and I have lived in the US over 8 years now (moving down from Canada) and we’ve done everything by the book, paying gobs of taxes and never once sponged off the system. I’ve had two green cards in process killed at various companies when my division was sold and have since given up. I’m just on a temporary TN permit now and I half expect that to be denied at some point as the xenophobia picks up steam so we’re all set to go home with our little US baby.

However, if at some point we had gotten a green card, we would be thinking about buying a house in the next few years and spending the money we’ve saved down here, rather than somewhere else. Instead, we constantly feel like second class citizens, heck, we even have to pay international student rates for any university courses we want to take down here.

In short, we like it here and Americans are great people but it’s not worth the hassle and constant uncertainty. I agree with Brett, the immigration system is broken.


Also FYI - H1Bs have to be paid the prevailing wage - it’s part of the labor certification process so that they don’t undercut American workers. If companies want to pay people less money, they do it by outsourcing.

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Comment by VaBeyatch in Virginia Beach
2009-01-26 12:58:51

Yes, but I think companies that setup the H1B’s in some cases collect fees for room and board, transportation, and processing which take a huge chunk out of the take home pay of the immigrants. I know locally the guys that bring in the labor for summer jobs tend to own the slums they rent to the immigrants, taking rent out of their pay.

Comment by lavi d
2009-01-26 15:46:40

…so we’re all set to go home with our little US baby.

Take off, hoser!

(sorry. couldn’t resist. the Canadians I have met have, by far-and-large, been some of the nicest people I’ve known. You have my best wishes…)

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 11:08:29

trust me, the immigration system in the Netherlands (and probably most of Europe) is far worse.

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Comment by mikey
2009-01-26 11:25:45

Okay Brett….if she can capture 3 tau neutrinos v(t2), in her teeth, within 5 minutes, I vote she stays :)

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Comment by (Soon to be ex-) GS fixer
2009-01-26 11:44:49

With all due respect for you opinion, Brett, you are letting your personal relationship color your opinion on this issue.

If Olga has been here EIGHT YEARS, I would think that somewhere in that period, she should have made the decision to pursue citizenship.

If she chose to keep her H1B/Costa Rican citizenship status (tax reasons), everybody knows the rules on what happens when the job goes away.

Hey, we all screw up. At least she is not having to go back to someplace like Saudi Arabia, or North Korea.

Comment by speedingpullet
2009-01-26 14:04:23

Not neccessarily true ex-GS - the immigration system in this country is horrendous.

My husband applied for his Green Card in Nov 99 ( at the same time as getting his H1b) and didn’t get it until spring of 2006.
9/11 caused HUGE backlogs in the system.

His application was held up for the best part of three years. He did everything that was asked of him, including a pointless trip out of country, to ‘restamp’ his US Visa for immigration purposes.
At which point, his entry into the US could be held up at the whim of an Immigration Officer at LAX who could chose to stamp/not stamp on whether my husband looked at him funny…..

He now wants to apply for citizenship, and has been told that that will probably take another two years at current estimates - so all in all, from H1b to US Passport - about 10 years.
And this with the explicit help of his employers, so I can imagine its a lot harder if you’re not getting backing from anyone.

Steve’s right - the system is broken.

Comment by Brett
2009-01-26 14:05:36

Well, she did not qualify for citizenship; she was an international student for 5 or 6 years (MS and BS in Chem Engr), and she’s been working for 2 years or so. Olga did not qualify for a green card or any of that.

International students do not qualify for a citizenship test; so, her years as a student ‘do not count’ for those purposes.

Comment by BanteringBear
2009-01-26 17:48:55

“Immigrants are a great asset to this country, unless their numbers are so large they become a liability. That means open borders (the pre-1900 pattern) are a bad idea. But if the number of immigrants is to be be limited, how does the U.S. determine who gets in?”

Our southern border is so porous that anyone who wants to get in illegally, can. In turn, we essentially have “open borders” right now. The real issue is the Mexican government, and their total failure in regards to the economic health of the country, and the subsequent growth of violent drug cartels who wreak havoc.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I say we take over the country, depose the government, and truly “open” the borders to form a new North America. The 31 states will then be added to the Union and will be governed under the US constitution and federal law. We then wage war against the drug cartels.

I know this sounds ridiculous, because it is. But in all seriousness, Mexico has become one of the most violent, lawless places on this earth. 6000 murders last year by the drug cartels. That’s more than 16 bodies a day showing up. Something needs to be done, and their corrupt government isn’t the answer.

Comment by BP
2009-01-26 10:02:08

Ok, before we decide to throw her out or not how hot is the Costa Rican lesbian? (not that it matters)

Comment by Brett
2009-01-26 12:13:52

That is a highly offensive and sexist comment; you probably be laughing so hard if it was your girlfriend the one that had to leave you because of a broken immigration system

Comment by VaBeyatch in Virginia Beach
2009-01-26 13:00:35

Her girl can go with her back to Costa Rica! Surf and sun, lots of fun.

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Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 14:41:59

Heck, I know some guys that would pay to have their significant other deported… :-)

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Comment by not a gator
2009-01-26 18:36:27

Very funny. Now you know why gays have been fighting for same-sex marriage. Immigration is one of the most heinous examples of the kind of discrimination our families face because we are denied access to marriage.

(as for me, I’ve decided to go to Mass. this summer and get married fer reals, tho’ not as far as the feds are concerned)

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-01-26 17:56:34

Oh, dear, and here I was going to thank BP for asking what I was too chicken-p00 to ask.
*shakes head sadly in self-reproach *
I guess we both reprobates, BP.

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Comment by Don't Know Nothin About Buyin No House
2009-01-26 15:39:50

Indiana has Lesbians?

Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 18:35:04

Until you become a citizen, you are a guest. And as a guest you are expected to abide by the rules of the house.

Don’t like it, tough. House rules.

I know damn well if I don’t obey the rules of another country, I’d be lucky to just get tossed out.

It has nothing to do with xenophobia and everything to do with sovereignty.

Comment by not a gator
2009-01-26 18:37:41

the rules are bs. they punish the educated and productive and reward those who work off the books and use the US as a welfare machine.

Comment by exeter
2009-01-26 08:07:47

NARTards: “Housing sales Rise a whopping 6.5%!!!


Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:35:50

The fine print (in the MarketWatch dot com story) contains the relevant details…

Sales in December were down 3.5% from the previous December.
For 2008 as a whole, sales fell 13.1% to 4.91 million, the industry trade group said. November and December were the weakest sales months of the year on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:09:37

Existing-home sales rise 6.5% as prices plunge
For full year, sales fall 13% as prices drop a record 9.3%
By Rex Nutting, MarketWatch
Last update: 10:01 a.m. EST Jan. 26, 2009

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - Sales of existing homes rose 6.5% in December to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.74 million as prices continued to plunge at a record pace, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday.

Sales in December were down 3.5% from the previous December.
For 2008 as a whole, sales fell 13.1% to 4.91 million, the industry trade group said. November and December were the weakest sales months of the year on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The median sales price fell to $175,400 in December, down a record 15.3% compared with a year earlier. For all of 2008, median prices dropped 9.3% to the lowest level since 2004.

The price decline is likely the largest since the Great Depression in the 1930s, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the trade group.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:11:31

“Sales in December were down 3.5% from the previous December.”

The MarketWatch headline focused on the increase in sales off of November (probably not a stellar month, as it immediately followed the month when the Wall Street investment banking sector collapsed) and ignored the more relevant year-on-year drop in sales.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:18:01

The MarketWatch home page lead is even more laughable. Who pays these econogandists to lure in knifecatchers?

January 26 2009 10:15 A.M. EST
U.S. existing-home sales rise 6.5% in December as prices fall

Monday met with tens of thousands of job cuts
Existing-home sales stoked
• McDonald’s bottom line is 24% lower
• Sprint disconnecting 8,000 workers
• Philips to cut 6,000 jobs after loss

Monthly resales of existing U.S. housing jump 6.5% as prices retreat.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:20:41

My son taught me a new word this weekend:

Main Entry:
French néologisme, from ne- + log- + -isme -ism

1 : a new word, usage, or expression

Econoganda is a neologism…

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Comment by ahansen
2009-01-27 00:22:44

THAT’s the word I was looking for. Thanx, Prof!

Comment by edward
2009-01-26 10:09:04

This really annoys me. I don’t recall the month-to-month numbers ever being the lead of these stories. Year-on-year numbers are supposed to be the ones that really matter. You might as well compare April to December, too if you’re going to do that. It has about as much relevance.

Comment by jim
2009-01-26 11:16:53

So, what do they mean by seasonally adjusted??

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Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 13:51:30

The idea of seasonal adjustment is to factor in predictable seasonal shifts in the level of the data (e.g., drop off in number of homes sold in Dec) in order to focus on what is different this year compared to other years…

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2009-01-26 08:20:49

Chrysler executives asked the dealers each to order a wholesale allocation set by the company that totals 78,000 vehicles for February, and Andretta and other dealers said they have no problem doing it. The company has a total 3,300 dealers nationwide.

Press wouldn’t reveal what concessions he will ask dealers to make other than ordering more cars. The concessions are part of the company’s effort to meet a plan filed in Washington to get $4 billion in government loans with another $3 billion under consideration.

He said dealers understand the need for everyone to “put some skin in the game,” to help Chrysler to survive.

“They also realize they can help save us all some money that will help preserve the future and make us more successful,” he said.


They’re pushing the product on the dealers now?!?


Comment by Blano
Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2009-01-26 09:35:53

Wesley Lutz, owner of Extreme Dodge/Hyundai in Jackson, went into Sunday’s session prepared not to order any new vehicles this month but changed his mind after listening to Press.

Lutz now plans to place an order Tuesday even though he already has more than a 100-day supply of vehicles on his lot.

Press made a straightforward pitch to convince Lutz to order more vehicles.

“He said, ‘Do you want the Kool-Aid or do you want reality?’ ” Lutz said after the meeting. “He promised us we’d still be open for business in April. That’s pretty powerful.”

Wow, these dealers are st00pid.

They’re gonna get JT-d but good!

Comment by Blano
2009-01-26 09:50:02

That was exactly my thinking, Cat. Somebody already has a 100 day inventory, and he’s buying more??? Good luck with that.

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Comment by scdave
2009-01-26 11:00:50

I am in the market for a new 4 door wrangler…I went to the dealership a couple of weeks ago and you would be shocked at how stubborn they were on holding their pricing…Maybe this will change things…

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Comment by (Soon to be ex-) GS fixer
2009-01-26 11:56:03

Same thing with the new Dodge Challenger. These local jackasses are wanting $3-4K over sticker for an R/T. At the same time, discounting Charger R/Ts (under the skin, essentially the same car) $8-10K.

I’d like to get one (or did anyway), but I don’t like them enough to pay a $10K+ premium for one, compared to a Mustang GT.

Comment by FP
2009-01-26 09:14:36

A previous employer tried to do that scheme. They pushed and pushed product up the ying yang to the VARS/Distributers. It helped financial numbers for a few quarters but when the products didn’t sell, the company had to take them back or give out massive credits. Pushing the channel is not a great idea folks. They are just buying time and hoping to get that secondary massive infusion from the government.

Comment by Blano
2009-01-26 09:38:39

They’re gonna end up pulling sales forward from 2Q and 3Q, just like what happened with houses. All that matters now is getting that bailout money.

I just got a dozen or so new P.O.’s from Chrysler this morning, so they’re at least still full speed ahead.

Comment by reuven
2009-01-26 09:41:49

We call it “stuffing the channel”. It may be OK for one slow quarter, but, like a Ponzi scheme, is sure to collapse after several slow quarters.

Comment by Muggy
2009-01-26 10:25:35

In the mid 90’s, there was a little ska label, Moon Records… rumor was that they massively overstocked indie stores; tried to find a major buyer and then the third wave bubble went bust, they had to eat 40,000 units and folded shop.

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Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 18:41:46


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Comment by Ernest
2009-01-26 08:29:26

European leaders fear civil unrest over economic woes

Peter O’Neil
Canwest News Service

Friday, January 23, 2009

Europe, Canada’s second-largest trading partner and top global ally after the U.S., is getting pounded by a tidal wave of bad economic news that has prompted warnings of a frightening hike in civil unrest.

Europe’s top politicians are so rattled by the prospect of growing protests that they have arranged an emergency leaders’ summit in March to deal with growing tensions, the Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.

UK Cities On Recession Red Alert


10:27am UK, Monday January 26, 2009

Belfast, Liverpool, Wigan and Hull have been put on a recession “red alert” as a study reveals the downturn will hit Britain’s leading cities harder than expected.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-01-26 08:53:48

Trouble on the road to Wigan pier…

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-01-26 16:59:46

Shades of the French Revolution.

Comment by ecofeco
2009-01-26 18:45:18

UK news is also reporting a 50% increase in crime in some areas.

50%. Yikes.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:33:07

Is the TARP serving its intended purpose of getting banks to start lending again?

Wall Street Journal
* JANUARY 26, 2009
Lending Drops at Big U.S. Banks
Top Beneficiaries of Federal Cash Saw Outstanding Loans Decline 1.4% Last Quarter

Lending at many of the nation’s largest banks fell in recent months, even after they received $148 billion in taxpayer capital that was intended to help the economy by making loans more readily available.

Ten of the 13 big beneficiaries of the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, saw their outstanding loan balances decline by a total of about $46 billion, or 1.4%, between the third and fourth quarters of 2008, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of banks that recently announced their quarterly results.

Those 13 banks have collected the lion’s share of the roughly $200 billion the government has doled out since TARP was launched last October to stabilize financial institutions. Banks reporting declines in outstanding loans range from giants Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., each of which got $45 billion from the government; to smaller, regional institutions. Just three of the banks reported growth in their loan portfolios: U.S. Bancorp, SunTrust Banks Inc. and BB&T Corp.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:56:06

Back-pocket TARP justification: “Lending would have dried up even more if it were not for TARP.” Probably hard to argue otherwise…

Comment by Matt_in_TX
2009-01-26 17:18:30

“Is the TARP serving its intended purpose of getting banks to start lending again?”

Why do people keep saying this?

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 19:52:07

“Why do people keep saying this?”

I dunno…

Pelosi raises prospect of extra bank bailout money
1 day ago

WASHINGTON AFP) (AFP) — The US government may need to stump up more funds to bail out the stricken banking industry beyond the 700 billion dollars now in the works, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

On CBS program “Face the Nation,” Vice President Joseph Biden declined to say whether more bank bailout money might be needed, but stressed the second half would be used more wisely.

Timothy Geithner is expected to be confirmed as Treasury secretary by the full Senate on Monday, Biden said, and “will then report back to the president and to me as to whether or not he thinks that 350 (billion) is enough.”

“But the first things first. We’ve got to spend more rationally, reasonably and transparently, to move the financial institutions, to loosen up credit,” he said.

“And it’s about credit for people. They have to be able to purchase their cars. They have to be able to send the kids back to school. They need some mortgage abatement,” Biden added.

“And so, that’s what we’re focusing on in this 350, this remaining, this next 350. And we’ll go from there.”

Comment by Matt_in_TX
2009-01-27 06:13:32

I thought it was 750B just for the banks to survive?
Oh yeah, 90% of the calls were against that so it had to be popularized, I guess.

See, they DO listen to citizens.

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Comment by Mikey(2)
2009-01-26 08:44:09

Top Pennsylvania Real Estate Transactions


The Philadelphia Inquirer has fairly recently begun posting the most expensive house sales in the Philadelphia region. Has anybody seen this elsewhere, and what do you think the point of it is? I’m guessing it’s a means for keeping prices inflated here: show the highest prices and everything below seems a bargain.

Comment by Bill in Los Angeles
2009-01-26 08:44:54

Gold up today. Notice the 50 day moving average crossed the 100 day moving average. The 100 day moving average on GLD just started taking a step up.

Since house prices have been deflating over two years while government spending has been accelerating only since the last 12 months and is accelerating faster, I anticipate GLD’s 100 day moving average crossing the 200 day moving average in the next six months.

Gold at $935 is a strong buy signal.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:53:30

FOREX is also on the move today…

Comment by nhz
2009-01-26 09:31:36

euro gold indecisive today, hovering around its all time high reached last friday; todays rise in goldprice is only in dollars.

When eurogold starts moving up again, the real fireworks will start. In Europe more investors are watching gold than in the US. My guess is we will first go back to about EUR 640-650 from the current EUR 690-700, before the real move up starts.

Comment by bluprint
2009-01-26 08:46:52

I have an uncle who has worked at Merrill for quite some time. He and a couple other guys just left and took over 300 clients with them to start a new firm.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2009-01-26 08:55:21

Take that, Merrill!

Comment by Darrell_in_PHX
2009-01-26 09:59:29

And when they’ve lost all the money of those clients?

The problme going off on your own is that you can’t get TARP to cover your losses.

Comment by bluprint
2009-01-26 10:11:39


I dunno what he makes or loses for his clients, mostly I just offered it as an anecdote, since we all seem to like the “real life” stories.

My impression is that he’s pretty conservative and doesn’t jump into the latest hot thing (e.g. MBS) but that he also doesn’t really have enough understanding of the macroeconomic forces at work in order to leverage to his advantage (e.g. the foresight to short housing and related securities), which I think is about standard for these finance types.

Anyway, how many people working for Merrill are getting axed? TARP helps the elite, not everyone. So just working for a company who can get tarp funds I don’t think provides much security for most people. Might as well strike out on your own. Especially in this environment when the bar is pretty low (any non-negative return’ll do, thanks).

Comment by tresho
2009-01-26 10:39:56

He and a couple other guys just left and took over 300 clients with them to start a new firm. Merrill still had over 300 clients remaining before he left?

Comment by In Montana
2009-01-26 10:50:21

I’m surprised his employment contract let him do that right away.

Comment by bluprint
2009-01-26 11:56:06

Evidently he started working there at a time when they didn’t require noncompete agreements…? He said they have (I don’t know how recent but I got the impression is was last year some time) gone around trying to get everyone to sign a noncompete. He refused. They didn’t do anything about it.

Comment by Kim
2009-01-26 14:00:48

Non compete agreements are easy to get around. And Merrill can’t stop their customers from moving to another firm.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-01-26 17:04:40

Non-compete agreements are illegal in California and against public policy except for a small number of limited circumstances expressly authorized by statute…

Exceptions - valid non-compete agreements in California
There are limited situations where a reasonable non-compete agreement may be valid in California.

If an owner is selling the goodwill in their business. (Business & Professions Code Section 16601).

When there is a dissolution or disassociation of a partnership. (Business & Professions Code Section 16602).

Where there is a dissolution of a limited liability company. (Business & Professions Code Section 16602.5).

Comment by Michael Viking
2009-01-26 08:50:54

“Fight building over judges redoing mortgages”


Most congressional Democrats say the quickest way to save homeowners like Troy Butler of Saginaw, Mich., is to let them declare bankruptcy and allow judges to dictate new mortgage terms.

Easy, except the lenders that would absorb the pain — and lose control of any deals to ease the terms — do not want to get dragged into bankruptcy court by millions of overextended borrowers.

Comment by Blano
2009-01-26 09:42:55

They better hurry up….2,000 more auto jobs in the upper Midwest biting the dust:


Comment by Blano
Comment by cynicalgirl
2009-01-26 11:01:54

Either that, or let them walk away. What’s cheaper for the banks, in the long run?

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 08:52:29

There is a big move in the dollar today accompanying the rising U.S. stock market. I highlighted 2%+ moves in the list below:

CURRENCY VALUE CHANGE % CHANGE TIME EUR-USD 1.3142 0.0173 1.3340% 10:38
GBP-USD 1.3936 0.0141 1.0206% 10:38
USD-CHF 1.1466 -0.0071 -0.6116% 10:38
USD-SEK 7.9952 -0.1868 -2.2837% 10:38
USD-DKK 5.6713 -0.0744 -1.2957% 10:38
USD-NOK 6.7406 -0.1804 -2.6066% 10:38
USD-CZK 21.0470 -0.4915 -2.2820% 10:38
USD-SKK 22.9230 -0.3183 -1.3697% 10:38
USD-PLN 3.3242 -0.0714
-2.1042% 10:38
USD-HUF 216.1600 -6.4050 -2.8778% 10:38
USD-RUB 32.8410 -0.0176 -0.0537% 10:38
USD-TRY 1.6232 -0.0462 -2.7704% 10:38
USD-ILS 3.9760 -0.0039 -0.0980% 10:38
USD-KES 79.7500 -0.1000 -0.1252% 09:07
USD-ZAR 10.1080 -0.1022 -1.0009% 10:38
USD-MAD 8.4685 -0.1932 -2.2299% 10:34

Comment by hoz
2009-01-26 09:15:42

Putting the Kenyan currency and omitting the Ringitt

Typical financial boneheads. Lets look at the least significant currencies around the world.

PB, You must despair getting any reliable financial news from such a poor source.

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2009-01-26 09:31:39


Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 10:31:40

Luckily there is lots of correlation in dem currency moves…

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2009-01-26 10:50:32

Correlation don’t pay the bills.

Ask all the “quants” on Wall St. if you don’t believe me.


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Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 11:56:38

“Correlation don’t pay the bills.”

Neither do bad deterministic (variance-free) predictions. Ask a real estate or hedge fund investor.

Comment by whino
2009-01-26 09:21:04

U.S. bankers avoid glitz of Davos, image a concern


Comment by uptick
2009-01-26 09:38:31

Man, that is 6 million in a very precarious place. On a seadrift on top of the San Andreas fault. Some people must have money to burn after the great housing bubble / stock swindle decade.


Sale History
10/02/2008: $6,300,000
09/30/2008: $6,250,000
276 Seadrift Rd STINSON BEACH CA 94970
4 beds, 3.5 baths, 3,651 sq ft


296 SEADRIFT RD Stinson Beach, 94970
Est. Monthly Payment: $29,737*
Beds: 3 | Baths: 2 | Sq. Ft.: 1,632 | $/Sq.Ft.: $3,799 | Lot Size: 19,123 Sq. Ft.
Year Built: 1973 | Entered Date: 07/16/07
Description: Amazing ocean views from this beautifully cared for home directly on the sand in the seadrift…

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2009-01-26 09:50:28

It’s Marin.

The laws of economics have been suspended in that county.

Comment by Kim
2009-01-26 13:53:42

36-year-old tyvex (and not very much of it), for $6.2MM? Jeepers!

Which one of you HBBers last used the joshua tree? Bring it to Stinson Beach, will ya? I might need two (one for the buyer, one for the lender). And if the owner starts crying out that “the value is in the land”, then I’m probably gonna need three.

Comment by MrBubble
2009-01-26 09:44:52

Hugely OT, but HBBers please, please, please refrain from dropping hints about Battlestar Galactica!! The B&B the other day was chock full o’ semi-spoilers. So, I went to the movie store and they didn’t have the second disk of season four last night. Upsetting. Then I come onto this board and feel like Tantalus with everybody talking about the next season. Frack me! I have yet even to find out if they bring back the #3 line. Mmmm… Lucy Lawless.


PS: I am intrigued by the expected inflation vs. downside already baked in thesis of Prof Bear above.

Comment by Skip
2009-01-26 11:02:50

Prepare to be disappointed. :-)

Comment by bink
2009-01-26 11:07:36

The same thing happened to me! I had to leave the thread when the bsg talk started. It did encourage me to visit hulu.com and view all my missed episodes though. Now I can play spoiler too:

The last cylon is muffit from the original series. MUAHAHA

Comment by MrBubble
2009-01-26 12:06:55

Now that’s funny! Reminds me of that robot on Buck Rogers: bee-dee-bee-dee.

Comment by SanFranciscoBayAreaGal
2009-01-26 17:09:12

Gawd I hated that character when they brought it on the original BSG series. It was down hill after that.

Kind of like the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. The first half was great, then the Ewoks appeared and the rest of the movie went down hill.

Comment by ET-Chicago
2009-01-26 11:08:15

Man, you gotta catch up on the BSG.

And don’t forget all the webisodes … they’re pretty interesting in their own right, and they some good additional background on character’s motivations.

Comment by Darrell_in_PHX
2009-01-26 10:41:25

Talking with my dad over the weekend… He agrees were fooked. But, what to do about it.

My opinion, insure upto $500K in losses per adult. If you default on debt, then your guaranteed loss is used for that. No HELOCing you house, putting it in a bank, then walking from the house and having the FDIC cover the loss.

Then, let the debt collapse.

He wonders why I’m so obsessed with the mega-rich.

Simple dad, in our current economic system, all money is debt. The government oversepnds, issues treasuries, the fed buys some of the treasuries, creating seed money out of thin air, the seed money is multiplied by the multiplicatinve inverse of the reserve ratio (which has been 0% for many of Greenspan’s financial innovative products such as ABS, MBS, derivitives, etc).

The mega-richs’ money, is the debt of everyone else. Trickle down???? Not hardly. The little poeple live on debt, creating a flood of money from the little people to the mega-rich in the for of interest on the debt. Trickle down??? No, Gush up!

So, what do we do about it?, he asks. Confiscate all the money from the rich and just hand it out to the poor, making everyone poor?

No…. The rich already gave their money to the poor when they loaned it to them. Now the poor just aren’t paying the debt back. Sorry rich people, but you should not have been so dumb as to loan all your money to everyone else.

All we have to do is stop using hundreds of billions of taxpayer money in what will be a failed attempt to keep the mega-rich, mega-richer. Let is collapse, and start back over at $0.

What is the saying? Keep your powder dry? Right now the government is wandering out into the storm and shooting off all the powder in an attempt to stop the rain.

In my opinion, we should wait… keep the powder dry, let the rain all fall. Then wander out and use the powder when it will actually do some good.

Comment by reuven
2009-01-26 12:13:32

Every saver, every person who doesn’t think of the imaginary value of his primary residence as part of his “net worth” is affected by printing more money.

That said, it is curious to me why the “big business/investment” community is so bullish on stabilizing house prices and giving trinkets to J6P. Surely some Big Buisness (the Wal*Marts) want this to keep their riches…

But I don’t think the policy of Obama (and McCain talked of buying mortgages, too!) is to keep the mega-rich rich as much as a simple attempt to buy votes. People with more money outside of a house than perceived value in the house are a minority, and are not represented.

Comment by Shane
2009-01-26 12:25:14


What you are espousing is letting the market fix the problem, right? If the market were allowed to function, wealth held as paper assets, or debt instruments, would disappear, as it always does during the recessionary/depression cycles. This has the positive effect of allowing wealth to “transfer” from those who hold it, but do not produce, to those that are “producers”.

Governments typically try to prevent this transfer.

Our government has stepped in to “protect” all those that could be “harmed” by the market transfers of the down cycle.
I contend that it is like trying to reverse a waterfall with a spoon, but most seem to think that the government trumps economics.

It is true that much is at risk during this cycle. But most of what is at risk is really older generational wealth (and I am 48) that has been accumulated, which will likely flow to those that are actually working and producing. This time around, there are a myriad of governmental structural impediments to the free flow of capital (Social Security/The Pension Guarantee Insurance Corp/Medicare, etc.) from the old to the young.

I heard an insightful Actuary actually predict the current predicament, some years ago. He said “the time will come when the old will try to prevent the young from earning a full return on their labor. When that time comes we will see a generational rift like none we have seen during our lifetime.”

In my mind, the “markets” are doing what they naturally do, “transfer wealth from nonproducing owners to producers”. It would be nice to assume that we could all retire wealthy, but the reality suggests that no economy can support a 1/3 of the entire population playing golf, consuming assets, while the other 2/3 is left pay for everything.

I see truth in what you said, but I see it in the context of wealthy aging Wall Street (and other wealthholders) individuals who stand to lose everything. They have political clout, as does every AARP member, and they are using it to their fullest capacity!

It is not really our Government for the Economy, but rather, our Government acting against the directions of the Economy.

We will see.

Comment by whino
2009-01-26 11:36:18

California’s “train wreck” a golden opportunity?


Comment by mrktMaven
2009-01-26 12:11:45

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) — Longer-maturity U.S. debt fell for a sixth day as an $8 billion auction of 20-year Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, or TIPS, drew a higher yield than forecast by bond dealers before the sale.

Comment by exeter
2009-01-26 12:19:48

I got a tit for tat banter going with an REIC huckster. Check out the email I got today.

You may be surprised by the (name chanced) economy

What do we mean by that? Let’s explain: Many in this country have experienced a serious slowdown, (we’re being polite) in their economy. The media can’t wait to tell (sell?) us everyday on how the end is near. Well, we are here to tell you it is not. Not up here it anyhow. A Japanese banker recently said when asked why their banks are not in trouble while ours are. “We weren’t invited to the party so we don’t have the hangover”. Same applies here. The growth many experienced 10 years ago, and even more recently, we never saw. By that we mean we were never hurt by the so-called growth that had no foundation to it. Sure, we had and have a growing economy but it was a real one, not smoke and mirrors. The real estate market was and is always reliable in our area. Unlike many other places we weren’t selling $100,000 houses for $500,000. Our property values are REAL, sustained, proven and safe. Prices here haven’t come down a penny and they aren’t expected to. In fact, recent studies have only stated what all of us always knew. Our real estate market is growing WITH our economy. The point is simply this, don’t believe everything you hear on the news. We are proof that there are still good things happening today. You can invest in our land market with all the confidence of knowing you are heading in the right direction and so is your investment.”
My first reply:

Nice propaganda piece but no dice. Prices are collapsing everywhere. And what is this “economy” you speak of?
His reply(I’m surprised he actually replied):

M. Jones here,owner of the XXX Land Company \.Sorry to see your message claiming our email is propaganda.Let me note the latest housing market #’s were released today and housing sales increased 6.5% nationwide in Nov/Dec ‘08. That was the exact opposite of what the so called experts predicted.As for our economy ,as spelled out in the email our economy is fine.We don’t have foreclosures here that are all over the country.We don’t have the layoff announcements everyday.We have people working and business that is slowly growing.The biggest problem this country has right now is the “doom and gloom”gang that can’t wait to shout over each other something worse than the next guy.I’ve often said the U.S. is the world’s biggest producer of fear.Right this country is producing it in record amounts.While so many will con’t to look at everything wrong with the world we’ll con’t to concentrate on what’s right.There’s still a lot of good going on in this country and especially here.Thanks for writing us back and best of luck to you.M. Jones
My reply:

Propaganda? More like lies and obfuscation.

But the fact is that December2008 sales were down 3.5% from the previous December. For 2008, sales fell 13.1%, not to mention the median price collapsed down a record 15.3% compared with a year earlier. Further to the point, prices are at the lowest level since 2004 and they are about to go alot lower irrespective of your dishonest sales pitch.

But don’t let those facts get in the way of your lies and distortions.

We’ll see if the braindead a$$wipe replies again.

Comment by exeter
2009-01-26 12:56:49

His next reply:

“sounds like your a good customer of the dopes selling fear.While you’re hiding in your bomb shelter we’ll continue to have some fun and sell land.Oh btw - housing sales INCREASED by 6.5% Nov/Dec. You can look at it anyway you want,if you’re able to understand it.”
My reply(staying on facts):

“And sales volume collapsed 13% for the entire year, and fell 3.5% compared to Dec2007 not to mention a collapsing price structure. You just can’t win.

Does anyone else get the impression that there is some real desperation in housing and land sales??? ;)

Comment by bluprint
2009-01-26 15:11:18

Certainly desperation in some quarters, delusion in others. This sounds like a case of the latter.

Comment by MrBubble
2009-01-26 13:06:25

The Dinsdale Piranha boot in the groin technique. Nice work!

Comment by bluprint
2009-01-26 13:27:36

Real simple question: Explain to me how it is possible for a housing market (the local market in question here) which relies on national credit for funding to remain unaffected by national expansion and now contraction of credit.

Comment by Kim
2009-01-26 13:39:05

Guess he hasn’t opened his 401K statements in a few months.

According to the Chicago Tribune, there actually are a few areas in and around Chicago where prices have increased on a quarter-over-quarter basis. Volume, however, is, at best, about 60% of the previous quarter. The previous quarter’s volume was about 50% off its comparative previous quarter. If volume hasn’t already reached 1/10th the height of the frenzy, it will very, very soon.

He can manipulate the stats all he wants too. Its “game over” for his ilk.

Comment by Blano
2009-01-26 13:57:21

Nice work, yes.

It sounds though like you two are talking national numbers so far, while he mentions “here” and “our economy” and “WE don’t.” It would be nice to hit him with some local data, if you haven’t already.

Comment by exeter
2009-01-26 15:47:33

Thank you!

He hasn’t replied to my most recent but if he does, I’ll toss him some county data thats much much uglier than the national statistics.

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2009-01-26 14:07:46

He doesn’t seem to get it, so ask him why he’s focused on MoM numbers instead of YoY. You might then _still_ have to explain it to him.

Comment by whino
2009-01-26 12:32:01

Wells Fargo extends mortgage modification program to newly acquired Wachovia customers

Wells Fargo said 478,000 Wachovia customers, with loans totaling about $120 billion, will have access to the program, though San Francisco-based Wells Fargo said it was unsure how many customers would take part.

Wachovia customers that are being referred to foreclosure or are in foreclosure will receive an extension until Feb. 28 so they can apply for the modification program.

The loan modification program is aimed at helping customers avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes as mortgage defaults continue to rise. Wells Fargo provides various modifications with the goal of reducing mortgage payments to about 38 percent of the size of a customer’s income.

The modifications can include extending loan terms to 40 years, reducing interest rates, charging no interest on a portion of the principal for a set period of time or even permanently reducing the principal of loans in areas where housing prices have significantly declined.


Comment by clue
2009-01-26 13:08:00

Im looking at a 925.00 dollar electric bill.

on Jan 1st, Pacific Power Raised Rates by, 4.7%
on Jan 21st, overall rates go up again by, 0.6%

do you smell that?

I didnt think so, you cant smell the frozen bodies till they thaw….

Comment by MrBubble
2009-01-26 17:06:02

Damn! $925?? My gas & electric was $18 last month. Ouch!

Comment by Faster Pussycat, Sell Sell
2009-01-26 17:43:03


Mine’s about $75 and I consider that larcenious.

Comment by Blano
2009-01-26 17:20:45

WOW!!!! That’s incredible.

Comment by whino
2009-01-26 13:09:34

The Euro Won’t Be around in 20 Years: Jim Rogers


Comment by packman
2009-01-26 15:15:43

He may well be right.

I still don’t agree with his views on China though…

“Also in the next 20 years China “may well be the largest economy in the world,” Rogers said.”

Strong economies generally depend on innovation. China definitely doesn’t have a culture of innovation - executing people who screw up doesn’t generally lend itself to that.

Comment by joeyinCalif
2009-01-26 16:53:29

..diametrically opposed to Japan, where a screwup might commit suicide, and where they certainly do cherish innovation.

From what little I’ve read, China is geographically vast. Most of the country is so remote and primitive the government worries about how they can influence the people who live out there. As I recall, the majority of Chinese live impossibly far away from the profit centers, are basically poverty stricken, speak foreign languages, have no infrastructure worth noting and subsist on meager outputs from small farm plots.
The commie government fears popular revolt more than anything and they are not unjustified in doing so.
..largest economy in the world in 20 years? I call BS on that one.

Comment by Olympiagal
2009-01-26 17:59:07

‘- executing people who screw up doesn’t generally lend itself to that.’

Yeah, but it’s so satisfying.
Anyway, why do you equate innovation with ’screwing up’?
Maybe one can innovate without ruining a bunch of little kid’s livers. I’m just thinking out loud, here.

Comment by ella
2009-01-27 15:23:35

‘- executing people who screw up doesn’t generally lend itself to that.’

We have some very gifted and hardworking students from China in our classes, but it can be difficult to push them to try new things which haven’t been modelled for them directly by instructors. If they make the leap, they can be pretty unstoppable, though.

‘Maybe one can innovate without ruining a bunch of little kid’s livers.’

Innovation is investing in the new, with the hope of a better outcome and requires foresight and good faith and is a long-term investment. Allowing a bunch of melamine and lead into your production stream to save time and money is…well, that would be an innovative use of the word innovative :) .

If you say innovative enough times, it sounds like a made-up word.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by hunkydory
2009-01-26 14:19:18

news from the home front. There was an announcement Friday where I work: overtime has been eliminated except for emergency situations.

Overtime here has always been steady: for most co-workers, this is the equivalent of a 20% pay cut. Lots of people played the heloc roulette wheel here, and were living beyond their means.

And viewing me as a jealous bitter renter for sharing the views of the HBB.

What’s happening these days is too distressing to take much satisfaction in having been right all along, but nevertheless, I KNEW you guys were right all along- thanks again HBB.

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2009-01-26 14:59:02

“Overtime here has always been steady: for most co-workers, this is the equivalent of a 20% pay cut.”

In the 1990s I worked mechanic gigs where some dudes would sleep away their regular shifts and wake up only for their overtime shifts. It’s amazing where workers can hide a bed roll if they really set their mind to it.

That was during the go-go 90s, so I can only imagine the stress over O.T. that’s out there nowadays!

Comment by not a gator
2009-01-26 18:50:32

lots of bitching and moaning around the garage where I work, as some service cutbacks and less people leaving mean that OT has been reduced. they fight over the little they get like sharks in a tank. me, I’m happy to have a day off. phew.

Comment by cobaltblue
2009-01-26 15:33:55

Just chippin’ away at the ol’ employment base:

DALLAS (AP) — Texas Instruments Inc., which makes chips for cell phones and other gadgets, says it will cut 3,400 jobs because demand has slackened amid a slowing economy.
The Dallas-based company said Monday that it will cut 12 percent of its work force — 1,800 jobs through layoffs and another 1,600 jobs through voluntary retirements and departures.

The announcement came as the chip maker reported sharp declines in fourth-quarter profit and revenue.

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2009-01-26 16:08:00

Who needs jobs in a worker’s paradise?

Trading houses and pushing debt will do just fine.

Comment by Suffolk_Them
2009-01-26 17:02:50

Obama to save the Hamptons real estate market:

From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/propertynews/4344967/Property-update-Will-the-Hamptons-have-an-Obama-bounce.html

The property market in the Hamptons on Long Island in New York state is being affected by Wall Street job losses. House prices have dropped by 20 - 25 per cent, according to local real estate brokers, and the appetite for buying property has diminished. “People were under the illusion that the Hamptons was immune from what’s going on in the economy but obviously it’s affecting everyone,” says Paul Brennan from Douglas Elliman. n the meantime he is pinning his hopes on the arrival of Barack Obama: “I hope our new president comes up with a good formula to help the stock markets,” he says.

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2009-01-26 18:44:56

And the list grows longer.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-01-26 19:44:40

“I hope our new president comes up with a good formula to help the stock markets,”

Maybe the new Treasury secretary can come up with something?

Comment by ella
2009-01-27 15:34:35

“a good formula to help the stock markets”

I don’t thing any of the players want the medicine they need, so that formula better be for a magical replenishing cookie jar.

I think it’s weird to expect Obama to solve everything (not that you do). It took a lot of people to make this mess, so why imagine one guy can fix it.

I just suddenly hit my threshold with this.

Comment by packman
Comment by Suffolk_Them
Comment by vozworth
2009-01-26 19:53:24

uhhh, the Fed Meeting.

Open Market Operations- check.
Discount Rate- Nothing to Discuss.
Reserve Requirements- Need to Advise.
Interest on Required Reserve Balances and Excess Balances- Who needs a check?
Term Auction Facility- wind it down.
Primary Dealer Credit Facility- Dont Jump out the window!
Term Securities Lending Facility- Whose running this one again?
ABCP MMMF Liquidity Facility- Bury this paper.
Commercial Paper Funding Facility- What inning is it?
Money Market Investor Funding Facility-I dont see a how a run is possible.
Term Asset Backed Seecurities Loan Facility—How many is that?

Immuna say this with all due respect, and I mean it. All due respect.
Ladies and Gentlemen.


*at least theaten to buy some ink.

Comment by ella
2009-01-27 15:13:31

Happy Tuesday.

There is a 1-hour discussion about TARP and possible bank nationalization on On Point today with Gretchen Morgenson: onpointradio dot org

I just got a call from an associate to say they’ve been let go from a large company (who supplies my company). She was a great rep. We agreed it’s dicey out there and I wished her good luck :( .

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