February 19, 2012

Bits Bucket for February 19, 2012

Post off-topic ideas, links, and Craigslist finds here.

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 00:58:46

Should Greece default?
By Ted Temzelides
Updated 07:23 p.m., Friday, February 17, 2012

Hardly a day passes without more news about the desperate economic situation in Greece. The country has been circling the abyss for some time now and, for many, default from its crushing public debt appears inevitable. Wouldn’t that be the preferred option for everyone involved after all? A Greek default would imply that the country would have to leave the eurozone, and the Greek budget problems would no longer be the eurozone’s problems. Greece would be able to write off its debt and adopt a new currency with a lower value that would make its exports more competitive. Finally, those who invested in Greek debt would be able to cut their losses. A Greek default would mean that the global economy could move on, as it did after the Argentinian default 10 years ago. Sounds like the preferable scenario for everyone. Looking back, analysts and politicians alike agree that Greece should never have entered the eurozone. Hence, many assume that the initial mistake will be corrected if Greece exits.

Not so fast. Unlike Argentina, Greece does not have a sizable export sector that would readily benefit from a weaker currency. The Greek banking system would collapse after a euro exit and any new currency adopted by Greece would likely be heavily devalued, leading to imported goods being unaffordable for most of the population. In addition, it is likely that inflation would creep up and erode the value of the new currency. An underground economy would likely emerge, where the euro or U.S. dollar would dominate important transactions. And what would the European Monetary Union look like after a Greek exit? Speculators would simply concentrate on betting against the next weak link exiting the common currency. After all, if one country has left the eurozone, surely it could happen again. Portugal, Spain and even Italy could be next. And where would it all end? This is the worst-case scenario for Europe. Hence the efforts to avoid setting a precedent by letting Greece default.

Perhaps we can offer Europe some lessons. What keeps the United States’ monetary union strong is not our common language nor the uniformity of economic conditions across member states, but rather our meaningful fiscal union. The transfers across states as part of the federal U.S. budget are far larger than current cross-country transfers in the European Union.

If the European Monetary Union is to survive, Germany will have to dramatically increase its transfers to the periphery countries. At the same time, for these transfers to become fruitful, periphery countries, including Greece, will need to embrace oversight and structural reforms in order to restore competitiveness and accept that many of their national policies will need to be decided centrally.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 06:20:57

Should any country except for Germany have joined the Euro?

Comment by combotechie
2012-02-19 07:03:29

All EXCEPT Germany should have joined the euro if Germany ends up supporting everyone else.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 07:42:28

Consider that the Euro is essentially the Deutsche Mark. Germany never intended to “support” everybody, it intended to lend to them so that they would buy German exports. Sel the exports as a loss leader, and collect interest payments perpetually. Sort of the Sears model, on steroids. Just an idea.

Financial predation is less overt than military predation. Until Spartacus.

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Comment by combotechie
2012-02-19 07:48:22

“Germany never ‘inteded’ to support everybody …”

But that’s how it ended up.

Comment by truthsquadrookie
2012-02-19 11:36:26

Wasn’t Germany subsidizing these countries to buy German products?

Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-19 16:32:48

But that’s how it ended up.

The German’s forgot the old saw: ‘If you owe the banksters a million euros, that’s your problem. If you owe the banksters a hundred billion euros, that’s their problem.’

Comment by Carl Morris
2012-02-19 22:30:43

The German’s forgot the old saw: ‘If you owe the banksters XXXX euros and the armies they control are stronger than the armies you control, that’s your problem. If you owe the banksters XXXX euros and the armies you control are stronger than the armies they control, that’s their problem.’

Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-20 04:04:04

and the armies you control are stronger than the armies they control,

Would Germany attack a fellow NATO member?

Comment by Real Estate Refugee
2012-02-19 12:19:47

So, why doesn’t Germany just buy Greece? Like BofA bought Countrywide?

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:25:48

…why doesn’t Germany just buy Greece?

You may actually be on to the plan. Step one is to institute economy-crushing, riot-inducing austerity measures which leave the country destitute. Step two is to come in and snap up assets at (literally) fire-sale prices.

Comment by Neuromance
2012-02-19 12:59:32

The Germans are accomplishing with lawyers and financiers what they could never accomplish with the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe.

Comment by polly
2012-02-19 13:54:00

When I remarked that Germany was winning WWII without firing a shot, my friend with the Oxford PhD in military history corrected me. He said it was WWI, not II.

Comment by Darrell_in_PHX
2012-02-19 08:55:19

I think we should all just default on all of our debts. What could possibly be bad about that?

Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 09:10:12

If they can’t be paid back, why pretend?

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
Comment by rms
2012-02-19 10:45:36

Looking back, analysts and politicians alike agree that Greece should never have entered the eurozone. Hence, many assume that the initial mistake will be corrected if Greece exits.

The scammers at Goldman-Sachs and the Greek holding the scepter thought the eurozone and especially the IMF bank were a “fit for plucking” idea.

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2012-02-19 13:49:46

Just default already. Geez..

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 01:01:05

Deal Appears Forthcoming for Bailout on Greek Debt
Published: February 17, 2012

LONDON — Euro zone leaders prepared the way on Friday for the approval of a fresh 130 billion euro bailout for Greece at a meeting of European finance ministers scheduled for Monday.

At the same time, the European Central Bank began to swap its holdings of Greek bonds for new debt to shield it from losses being absorbed by private creditors.

The bailout is needed to avert a potentially devastating Greek default; Greece must redeem 14.5 billion euros, or $19 billion, in bonds by March 20. After a conference call, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Lucas D. Papademos of Greece and Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy issued a statement on Friday saying they were confident a bailout deal could be reached Monday.

In doing so, euro zone leaders appeared to have put behind them the difficult negotiations over the bailout and bitter exchanges between Greek and German officials, which took place earlier this week.

Obstacles to a deal remain, though. Euro zone officials will meet Sunday to try to tackle technical issues blocking the loan package. Chief among these is the extent to which the latest bailout will succeed in cutting Greece’s stifling debt.

Recent calculations suggest that, instead of reducing Greece’s debt to 120 percent of gross domestic product by 2020, the efforts — which include losses imposed on private creditors holding Greek bonds, in addition to new austerity measures — will bring the level down to about 129 percent, said an official briefed on the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity. It remains unclear how that gap would be closed.

Comment by oxide
2012-02-19 08:21:03

“Deal Appears Forthcoming for Bailout on Greek Debt”

Again? :roll:

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2012-02-19 13:53:09

How many deals have already taken place?

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:03:51

A signed piece of paper from serial dissemblers, and an implemented deal - especially after the April elections in Greece are likely to bring in a lot of far-left/far-right oppositionists opposed to the EU-enforced austerity measures - are two very different things.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 01:04:30

Republican negotiating strategy

1. Don’t negotiate.
2. Blame Obama when nothing, or worse, happens.

Geithner Says Republicans Walked Away From U.S. Tax Overhaul
February 16, 2012, 12:57 PM EST
By Richard Rubin

(Updates starting with Geithner comments in 14th paragraph and comments on medical device tax starting in 16th paragraph.)

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) — The Obama administration isn’t proposing a comprehensive rewrite of the U.S. tax code because Republicans in Congress aren’t ready to discuss it, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said.

A necessary, inevitable tax overhaul can’t be achieved because discussions with Republicans last year on deficit reduction proved “impossible,” Geithner said today in an exchange with Republican Representative Dave Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, at a panel hearing.

“Your side walked away from the table three separate times,” Geithner said. “You guys were not ready.”

Comment by palmetto
2012-02-19 06:44:32

I shudder when I hear of “tax overhauls”. The only tax overhaul I want to hear about is the abolition of the “income tax”. Replaced by a national sales tax. Or better yet, replaced by state sales taxes wherein the states have control over what gets sent to the Feds. The “tax code” needs to be streamlined out of existence, period, and replaced with something simple, secure and fair. Right now we have a serious situation in the Tampa Bay area where hundreds of people have been defrauded by a tax fraud ring and the IRS refuses to do anything about it. Tough titty for the people who were defrauded, right? Wrong. Abolish the rotten, fraud ridden system. Now.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 07:30:37

“Replaced by a national sales tax.”

So you favor regressive taxation, which is relatively more burdensome on low income families, over progressive taxes, that expect those to whom much was given to give back relatively more?

Comment by palmetto
2012-02-19 07:41:54

I favor abolition of the income tax. Whereby ALL people get to keep more of what they earn. And the whole point of earning less is that you’re supposed to have less. I, for example, can’t afford a Gulfstream. I don’t make enuf. And oddly, I can’t afford a pair of Air Jordans, either. I don’t complain about how “regressive” that is.

Anyway this “regressive” vs “progressive” stuff is a huge canard and I’m not going there. It’s kind of like the canard about population not reproducing at “replacement” levels. If it’s such a danger, how come population has increased exponentially?

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 07:44:55

“…stuff is a huge canard…”

Maybe so to people who come out better with relatively more of the tax burden shifted onto the poor.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 08:15:56

“the poor”

Close but more accurately; those who spend everything they earn. Some of those are not poor.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 08:25:06

‘It’s kind of like the canard about population not reproducing at “replacement” levels. If it’s such a danger, how come population has increased exponentially?’

I think you are confusing recent history with the present, at least as regards U.S. population growth.

This is really bad news for millions of soon-to-retire Baby Boomers with empty-nest McMansions they would like to unload on a young family.

US birth rates
Baby bust
Nov 30th 2011, 14:36 by The Economist online
The birth rate for teenagers in America falls to a record low

JUST over 4m babies were born in America in 2010, some 3% less than the previous year, according to a recent report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010 the total fertility rate of 1,932 births per 1,000 women fell further below the replacement rate of 2,100 births for the third year running. The slowdown of the economy and immigrants returning home are thought to help explain this. The birth rate decreased in women of all ethnic groups, and women aged 40-44 were the only age group that had more babies in 2010 than in 2009. Meanwhile, the birth rate for teenagers aged 15-19 continues to fall. Last year it reached a record low of 34.3 births per 1,000 females, a decline of 9% and the largest annual drop since 1946-47. The birth rate for even younger girls between 10 and 14 (not shown on the chart) has also fallen steadily, from 1.4 in 1990 to 0.4 in 2010.

Comment by polly
2012-02-19 08:47:41

If anybody thinks that the baby boom and pre-baby boom generations are going to allow the US to adopt a consumption tax, you have to be nuts. They vote and the concept that they will allow anyone to decide that they needed to pay income taxes while they were earning and then a consumption tax when they are spending whatever they managed to save is absurd?

You want to see 3-5 million people or even more protesting on the Mall in DC? You have just named the issue that could do it.

Comment by Bill in Carolina
2012-02-19 12:07:57

This retiree would love to see the income tax replaced by a sales tax. No, we don’t have a big federal income tax bill every year. It’s under $1K, sometimes well under $1K. We’d likely pay more under a federal sales tax.

And there are at least two bonuses. 1.) We wouldn’t have to institute any tariffs on cheap Chinese goods. 2.) Everyone would see their tax burden on every sales receipt. Nowadays many people only know how big their refund is going to be; they don’t have a clue as to how much they paid in taxes.

A tax is a means of discouraging behavior. What do we want to discourage- earning money or spending it?

Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-19 16:39:38

A tax is a means of discouraging behavior.

Sez who? You might think so, but that doesn’t make it so. High or punitive taxes may discourage the action being taxed, but not all taxes are means of discouraging behavior. They’re means of raising revenue for the government.

Comment by CharlieTango
2012-02-19 07:44:37

regressive taxation

A regressive tax is a tax imposed in such a manner that the tax rate decreases as the amount subject to taxation increases.

Why not call it a flat tax? Why mislabel it?

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 08:11:49

Because a flat tax is not regressive (at least in percentage terms) — it is neutral, unless you carve out a deduction, in which case it becomes progressive.

A pure flat tax has the feature that everyone pays the same share of income (not sure how this relates to 9-9-9, but luckily we don’t have to puzzle over that comparison). For example, consider a 20% flat tax:

Income / Tax / Percent of Income
$25K $5K 20%
$50K $10K 20%
$75K $15K 20%
$100K $20K 20%

That seems “fair” at a glance, until you consider that families making $25K might be able to barely afford to pay for food and rent out of their income, much less come up with $5K for Uncle Sam.

This leads to the idea of a progressive tax system, where we use a deduction to make an allowance for low-income families to cover their basic needs. For a second example, if you carved out a $25K deduction and went to a 20% flat tax, here are the taxes that would be paid:

Income / Tax / Percent of Income
$25K $0 0%
$50K $5K 10%
$75K $10K 12.5%
$100K $15K 15%

Notice how the taxes paid increase as a share of income? That’s what “progressive” means. I’d be curious to know what part of this definition makes it a “canard“?

Comment by oxide
2012-02-19 08:26:40

Because with a flat tax, the rate does not decrease, or change at all.

And the Wikipedia/dictionary definition (give credit next time, okay?) frames regressive as the opposite of progressive, which is only a formal definition. The colloqiual meaning of “regressive” is not the actual tax rate, but the effective end result, which is that those with less income has less left over after paying for necessary expenses.

It’s not what you pay, it’s what you have left over.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 08:56:00

You have perverted Thoreau. Shame on you.

Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 09:20:48

It’s almost funny to watch middle class serfs argue for more tax cuts for the super rich.

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:30:31

It’s quite ludicrous, IMO. Haven’t any of these fools read Gulliver’s Travels?

Comment by Neuromance
2012-02-19 13:05:47

It’s kind of like a fiscal Stockholm Syndrome.

I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Building a system around the reality of human self interest and the reality of the human desire to compete and get ahead and justly rewarding those who can add value to the society, is a good thing.

What we have now is a system collapsing rapidly towards raw oligarchy and plutocracy.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 19:03:01

“What we have now is a system collapsing rapidly towards raw oligarchy and plutocracy.”

Which, in turn, is probably not the best development for maximizing the contributions of those who truly can add value of the society…

Comment by Anon In DC
2012-02-19 16:23:05

Not regressive. But not progressive either. 10% rate everyone.

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Comment by skroodle
2012-02-19 10:27:48

LOL - If you think house prices are low now, just wait until there is a 21% VAT on that McMainson. That will stimulate price - down!

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 07:22:21

Sometimes “won’t compromise” means “won’t capitulate”. Can’t we all just get along, by doing it my way?

Here’s my largely uninformed overview: Permagrowth is over. Adjustment of the debt trajectory is long overdue. Reslove to reduce (USA) spending has not caught on. Resolve to mandate ourselves (USA) in increased income has not caught on. The debate on how to accomplish an agenda, not yet resloved, is not going well.

It reminds me of a spousal roundtable where family income is declining and family expenses are increasing. Savings are exhausted long since and debt is starting to be problematic. One argues that some lifestyle adjustments are at hand, reduced spending and efforts to increase income at the margin. The other asks “Don’t you love me?” No progress is made in the negotiations.

Comment by polly
2012-02-19 08:58:49

Except we know what the issue probably was. It has been debated in the public sphere many times over the last year or so, though not connected to a specific major tax reform proposal.

The democrats wanted the end result to be higher taxes on people who meet some definition of “the wealthy”and probably an increase in the total revenue collected, and the republicans said that no plan that ended with any increase in federal income taxes on any subset (except, perhaps, the 47% who make too little to be liable for income taxes, though they pay many others) was off the table.

RR managed to pull off major tax reform. His desire for lower taxes was so obvious, that he was able to take away tax advantages that were not fully offset (and more) by lower rates. I don’t see anyone on the politcal horizon who could do it again.

Comment by truthsquadrookie
2012-02-19 11:31:34

The democrats wanted the end result to be higher taxes on people who meet some definition of “the wealthy”

For democrats, anyone making 50K is rich.

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Comment by oxide
2012-02-19 11:41:58

Obama himself likes the $250K. Which, by the way, is enough to live a very comfortable life anywhere except possibly Manhattan.

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2012-02-19 16:14:56

I could live an extremely comfortable life in Manhattan on $250k. Let’s assume a take-home salary of $160k. I’m sure I could find a nice place to rent for $5k per month. Now, I’ve got $100k left to “live” on. That’s more than enough for me. I’m the kind of person who can easily, and happily, live off less than $30k per year. I’d be living like a king on a $250k salary in Manhattan.

Comment by DaveBro in SonomaCo
2012-02-20 01:47:37

And again (sigh), $250K is where any proposed tax increase begins to take effect. I worked this out on another forum, and at the $250K level it amounted to an extra $800 tax IIRC. (At $1M, it was an extra $30K.)

So it isn’t like $250K is a cliff beyond which they take all your money away; it’s the point at which a proposed tax increase starts to have an impact.

Comment by Darrell_in_PHX
2012-02-19 09:04:59

Dude, the massive government overspending is the only thing delaying total economic collapse into greater depression.

Sure I’m a drama queen.

I can also do the math. Without the massive governemtn spending, or attacking and reversing the massive trade imbalances, then $2 an hour wage is in our future.

If the old people think I’m paying SS and MC once my income has been reduced to that of a third-world slum laborer, they have another thing coming.

Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-19 16:51:41

The other asks “Don’t you love me?” No progress is made in the negotiations.

Blue, you’ve really got to learn the difference between micro- and macro-economics. It exists, and is significant, even if you prefer to believe your morality plays.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 19:08:27

Sometimes, things can not be expressed in simple enough terms.

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Comment by Diogenes (Tampa, Fl)
2012-02-19 07:45:42

Democratic Negotiation strategy:

Put forth outrageous budget proposals and non-sensical “legislation” that would make the most fiscally imprudent dunderhead blush, and which, of course, NO ONE, not even the democrats would support, and then blame the republicans for holding back any progress.

It’s the same strategy that made dealing with the Soviets so difficult.
There strategy was simple. NO “good faith” dealing. They didn’t understand the concept. If the other side concedes, then you win.
You make no concessions. That’s always the democratic strategy. Then when you don’t get what you want, blame the opposition.
They promise all kinds of reductions in spending, in some future budget.
Offer cut-backs in give-away programs, to be debated after we pass the current bill that gives us everything we want…. and then the whole discussion changes whenever the current “crises” is temporarily averted.
Just look at the so-called “healthcare bill”. Remember Pelosi’s outrageous statement…..”we have to pass the bill to know what’s in it”. Outrageous. And hurry, a Christmas recess vote.. Hurry.
Remember the Obama promise……………..ALL MY LEGISLATION WILL BE ON_LINE for 5 days, so that everyone can know what’s in it before it’s put to a vote or for me to sign it…..Remember????
Has it happened? Of course not.
And, yet, when the “stimulus bill” was passed, in the same RUSH to fix the undefined problems, Obama took a 4 day vacation, and said he would sign it as soon as he got back.
I know the democrat strategy. You seem to have missed it.
And by the way, When has the SENATE voted on a budget????
It’s been 3 years. The democrats control the Senate. They don’t want a budget, because the would have to show the American people just exactly what they think money should be spent on….so instead we get a “continuing resolution” to continue spending the same way we did the year before, unless Obama can come up with a budget that spends even more money, which he does. The Democrats are a disgrace.
Really. Harry Reid? Nancy Peloci? Barney Frank? Maxine Waters?
You’ve got a clown show on display and no one’s laughing.

Comment by truthsquadrookie
2012-02-19 11:29:56

Read the 2 Santa Clauses theory.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 01:09:20

Geithner Should Testify in JPMorgan Suit, Lehman Says
February 17, 2012, 6:32 PM EST
By Linda Sandler

(Updates with Treasury comment in sixth paragraph.)

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner should to be ordered to give a deposition in Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase & Co., which alleged the bank siphoned $8.6 billion out of Lehman in the 2008 credit crisis, helping to cause its collapse, the defunct firm and its creditors said.

Lehman has a March 16 deadline for completing its fact finding in the case, after interviewing more than 200 witnesses, creditors said in a filing in U.S. District Court in Washington. Lehman is asking a federal judge to order Geithner to be interviewed by lawyers for the firm and its creditors. The Treasury Department “has for many months delayed and ultimately refused to allow the testimony of Secretary Timothy F. Geithner,” which is key to the case, they said.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 07:23:54

Sharks have no hesitation to eat smaller sharks.

Comment by polly
2012-02-19 09:00:13

“Siphon” is a very imprecise word.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:09:31

The crash of Bear Stearns and Lehman, and the role played by Treasury and the New York Fed (Timmy in charge) in colluding with JP Morgan to asset-strip both firms while dumping more than $30 billion in toxic-waste mortgages onto taxpayers, is a textbook case of crony capitalism at its most sordid. Read “House of Cards” if you want an eye-opening insight into what a con game Wall Street has become, aided and abetted by the people who are supposed to assure the integrity of the financial system.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:45:05


And here is Goldman Sachs shill Jim Cramer telling the rubes not to sell Bear Stearns when it was trading at $62 a share, on its way to $2 six days later.

Comment by rms
2012-02-19 11:16:04

The middle-class doesn’t stand a chance against these swindlers.

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Comment by truthsquadrookie
2012-02-19 11:35:08

Didn’t he say he was talking about the money in Brokerage accounts, not necessarily the stock price?

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:31:35

Jim Cramer = jackass incarnate

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Comment by GrizzlyBear
2012-02-19 16:54:36

Who listens to the runt?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 01:12:22


MF Global trustee sees shortfall of $1.6 billion
The Associated Press
Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 | 3:24 a.m.

The trustee overseeing MF Global’s liquidation said Friday that the shortfall between the funds under his control and the amount customers of the failed brokerage are expected to claim is at least $1.6 billion.

The gap estimated by the court-appointed trustee, James Giddens, compares with his previous estimate of $1.2 billion. Giddens said in a statement Friday that the new estimate is based on his investigation and it could change again.

Giddens has been combing through the accounts of MF Global since it filed for bankruptcy protection on Oct. 31. The collapse of MF Global, which was headed by former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, was the eighth-largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 07:27:48

“the funds under his control”

The trustee is an officer of the Federal Court. No “funds” are outside of his control, unless he so chooses.

Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-19 16:57:54

In every country involved?

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 19:04:43

Think about it.

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Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-19 19:41:45

I am. I don’t believe an officer of the US Federal Court has control of MF Global’s funds that are in other countries.

Comment by Montana
2012-02-19 12:26:29

I thought I read yesterday somewhere that the money was found, in Hong Kong.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 01:14:48

Shipping Squeezed as Freight Falls to 25-Year Low, Precious Says
By Michelle Wiese Bockmann - Feb 15, 2012 7:33 AM PT

Companies hiring ships to haul coal and other raw materials are adding to financial pressure on vessel owners by taking advantage of the lowest charter costs in a quarter of a century, according to Precious Shipping Pcl. (PSL)

Precious lost business handling logs for a regular client who was won over by a lower-priced rental accord from a rival vessel owner, Khalid Hashim, managing director of the Bangkok- based company, said by e-mail today. Hire rates “barely” cover operating expenses, leaving owners struggling to repay bank loans from dwindling reserves, he said.

Comment by combotechie
2012-02-19 06:23:21

Lol. In spite of these well-published and apparant facts here is what the latest one-day chart of DryShips looks like:


Thousands of “investors” (in this case thousands of sheeple) are about to get keelhauled.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 08:21:53

Hello 2011!

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2012-02-19 18:08:58

Yeah, that looks primed for a fall.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 07:29:17

“in a quarter of a century”

Hello 1987!

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 07:43:51

I noticed that. Wasn’t 1987 the year of an epic stock market collapse (Black Monday — October 19, 1987)? I’m sure this is purely coincidental to the timing of quarter-century lows on the BDI, as the experts are busily explaining why the BDI no longer means what it used to mean: IT’S DIFFERENT THIS TIME. What many commentators seem to miss is that the expectations shock of overbuilt dry bulk shipping capacity juxtaposed with shipping demand at a small fraction of what was anticipated implies lots of big investors have lost their shirts on a ginormously foolish investing decision. The resources that went POOF on producing this overbuilt ship capacity is gone, and cannot be put to other potential productive uses.

ft dot com
Trading Post
January 25, 2012 4:27 pm
Baltic index on its way back to calmer waters

Most market watchers have long stopped looking at the Baltic Dry index as an accurate gauge of current global economic activity.

Just as well. The BDI, a measure of shipping costs for dry bulk goods, has fallen 26 days in a row – exacerbated by the lunar new year – and at 784 is a fraction of the level it hit nearly four years ago.

But it is widely recognised that the slump close to the December 2008 low of 663 is mainly based on a glut of vessels and easing demand rather than any calamitous drop-off in trade.

The high price of the BDI in 2008 encouraged the ordering of more vessels.

In a classic supply cycle, overcapacity has followed a period of high prices.

Comment by combotechie
2012-02-19 08:02:05

“In a classic supply cycle, overcapacity has followed a period of high prices.”

True for ships, true for houses, true for Wall Street wages and salaries.

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 08:12:58

…true for college educations and the massive student loan debt burdens required to pay for them.

2012-02-19 11:56:06

I wouldn’t count that tenure as bullet-proof as you think it is if I were you.

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2012-02-19 18:17:34

“In a classic supply cycle, overcapacity has followed a period of high prices.”

I am waiting for another collapse in oil prices. The massive boom in North Dakota cannot end well.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 01:18:18

Since when is it illegal for banks to manipulate interest rates? I thought it was SOP…

Feb. 16, 2012, 9:23 p.m. EST

Bank tells regulators of Libor manipulation: WSJ

By Michael Kitchen LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — A major bank has admitted to regulators that traders and brokers manipulated the London interbank offered rate (Libor), used to set lending interest rates around the world, The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday. The cooperating bank, which unnamed sources identified as UBS AG, told Canadian investigators that those involved in the alleged scheme “were able to move” the yen Libor at times between 2007 and June 2010, the report said. No charges have been brought in the international probe into rate fixing, although some people have been fired or suspended by major U.S. and European banks and brokers, the report said.

Comment by Muggy
2012-02-19 03:44:04


“Kodak’s struggles mean domino effect on suppliers”

XLI Corp. not only has an unpaid bill for $36,000 but other work for Kodak that’s only partially done. And then the Rochester machine shop had to grapple with how to respond when Kodak placed another order for parts just days after the Jan. 19 bankruptcy filing.

“What do you do?” asked XLI president Peter Schott. “You can’t sell it to Canon or HP or Xerox. Nobody else would have any use for it.”

The list of companies to whom Kodak owes money ranges from a North Carolina medical supplies firm seeking $222 to Asian optics and electronics manufacturer AOF Imaging Technology Inc., which is owed $31.2 million.

As more claims by small and midsized businesses roll in, Kodak acknowledges that the 50 largest unsecured claims — the ones without any collateral — total nearly $175 million. Those major creditors include chemical, industrial and electronics manufacturers as well as some of the biggest names in the retail world, such as Best Buy, OfficeMax and Target.


Comment by combotechie
2012-02-19 06:56:54

A bit of a cash shortage, no?

This shortage of cash acts to increase the value of the stuff, does it not?

Comment by palmetto
2012-02-19 07:22:03

In theory, anyway.

Comment by combotechie
2012-02-19 07:56:31

Theory, huh.

Take a look around a bit and count the number of payday stores popping up everywhere. In “theory” this should only be happening if there was a shortage of cash.

Interest rates can go to zero but this is only useful if one can get their hands on some of this zero-rate cash. If one can’t then he has to pay MUCH higher rates, hence we get thousands of payday stores.

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2012-02-19 10:45:39

If you walk around Queens particularly the neighborhoods which have great restaurants (e.g. Astoria, Woodside, Jackson Heights, etc.), it’s like a bomb went off.

On weekends, it used to be a hopping scene.

I was there last night. It was closer to a morgue.

There’s a lot of cash shortage. I bet the restaurant owners are really feeling it.

Comment by truthsquadrookie
2012-02-19 11:25:57

If you walk around Queens particularly the neighborhoods which have great restaurants (e.g. Astoria, Woodside, Jackson Heights, etc.), it’s like a bomb went off.

I was there a year ago. Walked a lot around Woodside and JH.
It’s a third world.

2012-02-19 11:57:30

Yeah, it’s great, isn’t it?

I love these nabes. Probably my favorite places to go grocery shopping and eating. I could spend all day there, and eat like a Roman Emperor.

Comment by CarrieAnn
2012-02-19 13:00:24

Take a look around a bit and count the number of payday stores popping up everywhere. In “theory” this should only be happening if there was a shortage of cash.

Some of the demand for payday stores is due to the fact banks have been increasing the minimum amount to open and maintain feeless savings and checking accounts. These days more and more people cannot maintain those minimums and so their money gets frittered away in fees. Payday stores are about the only “banking” option these people have left.

Comment by aNYCdj
2012-02-19 16:24:44

I cant even dj for Free…unless i bring a crowd…and how are you supposed to get that if you dont have a steady bar gig…

Yup they are hurtin……you should have stopped in sunnyside we are off the 7 at 40th st.

I bet the restaurant owners are really feeling it.

Comment by aNYCdj
2012-02-19 16:28:47

There were no pawn shops here for 10 years then just before xmas 2010 one opened now 2 more and 2 more we buy gold, and other items..

Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-19 17:04:00

Shortage of cash for the wee people, maybe, but the 1% can get all they want- at historically low rates.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 07:33:46

It certainly reduces the value of Accounts Recievable.” How does it work that Kodak owes the retailers big bucks? Prepaid orders not delivered? Does a sales backlog get dissolved in bankruptcy?

Comment by oxide
2012-02-19 08:32:55

You’re just a one-trick pony, aren’t you. This is not a case of cash going poof. Quite simply: Canon, HP, and Xerox have the cash and Kodak doesn’t.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 08:52:31

We all have our monochrome moments.

Debts are being cancelled, that’s why they are calling it a bankruptcy!

Irony: The digital camera was invented by Kodak.

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Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:11:28

When I look back on all the crap I learned in High School…
It’s a wonder I can think at all.

Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 09:43:36

Irony: The digital camera was invented by Kodak.

And they ignored it.

Just like Xerox invented:
The laser printer
The Graphical User Interface
The ethernet
Object oriented programming (Smalltalk 80)

In other words, the 4 cornerstones of modern personal computing. Yet HP made the laser printer king. Apple introduced us to the GUI. 3COM to the ethernet. And Sun’s Java stole Smalltalk’s thunder.

Comment by skroodle
2012-02-19 10:43:01

Early Apple LaserWriters and HP Laserjet printers had interchangeable parts due to the internals of both of them being made by Cannon.

Comment by oxide
2012-02-19 11:44:18

“We all have our monochrome moments.”

:mrgreen: +1 :mrgreen:

Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 09:18:30

More like a shortage of competence and foresight at Kodak. They were a decade late to the digital party and hung onto silver halide way too long.

It’s competitor’s (HP comes to mind) are doing just fine.

Comment by Muggy
2012-02-19 11:27:25

This part, on page 2, was surprising to me:

“Many of the unsecured creditors will end up spending money on legal fees — not to go after Kodak but to defend themselves if Kodak paid them any money during the 90 days prior to the Jan. 19 filing.

Such lawsuits claiming “preferential transfer”— meaning one creditor received money that by rights should be divvied up among all of them — are common.”

Comment by Realtors Are Liars®
2012-02-19 05:31:22

Realtors Are Liars®

Comment by goon squad
2012-02-19 07:25:21

Former New Century CEO Brad Morrice is laughing at you.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 07:47:12

As are former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo and his VIP friends.

Comment by rms
2012-02-19 12:57:08

As are former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo and his VIP friends.

Corruption Я Us

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Comment by Realtors Are Liars®
2012-02-19 14:40:56

And realtors are still liars.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 07:50:00

Did you ever notice how the SEC almost always settles at a level that makes crime pay?

Settlement with SEC

On Friday October 15, 2010, Mozilo reached a settlement with Securities and Exchange Commission, over securities fraud and insider trading charges. Mozilo agreed to pay $67.5 million in fines and accepted a lifetime ban from serving as an officer or director of any public company; it is the largest settlement by an individual or executive connected to the 2008 housing collapse. Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a statement that “Mozilo’s record penalty is the fitting outcome for a corporate executive who deliberately disregarded his duties to investors by concealing what he saw from inside the executive suite.” By settling the SEC charges, Mozilo will avoid a trial that could have provided fodder for future criminal charges. [20][21]

This fine represents a small fraction of Mozilo’s estimated net worth of $600 million. Countrywide will pay $20 million of the $67.5 million penalty because of an indemnification agreement that was part of Mozillo’s employment contract. The terms of the settlement allow Mr. Mozilo to avoid acknowledging any wrongdoing.

In February 2011, the U.S. dropped its criminal investigation into the facts behind that civil settlement.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 08:29:33

“makes crime pay”

C….That’s a capital “C”…..as in SEC!

Comment by oxide
2012-02-19 08:56:27

Well I suppose you could take all of these guys to court — but are you willing to pay the taxes to hire the agents to dig out a preponderance of evidence?

Isn’t that how they do it in the mob? They all commit crimes, but there are too many for the police to catch them all, so they just take a chance they some other guy gets caught? In fact, I imagine they pitch into a bail kitty for the guys that do get caught.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:34:53

“…but are you willing to pay the taxes to hire the agents to dig out a preponderance of evidence?”

I’d prefer a market-based solution here: Charge hefty enough fines to (1) cover enforcement costs and (2) take the rewards out of multi-billion dollar white collar crime, currently punishable by wrist slaps. This is a total no-brainer case where the market-based solution trumps the taxpayer-funded approach, hands down.

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Comment by polly
2012-02-19 14:04:25

If you charge that much, they won’t agree to the settlements and you have to pay to take them to court.

Banks only sign settlements if they are beneficial to them. Why should they sign voluntary agreements in any other circumstance.

Would you plead guilty to a lesser charge if it was going to put you in jail for 10 years when getting convicted of the greater charge would put you in jail for 10 years and two weeks?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 15:26:07

“If you charge that much, they won’t agree to the settlements and you have to pay to take them to court.”

1. Charge them enough so crime doesn’t pay.

2. If you have to take them to court, add the extra costs of taking them to court to the damages they would otherwise pay.

Comment by polly
2012-02-19 20:57:40

That requires a change in law. So, the question becomes, how do you elect a Congress willing to do it?

Good luck.

Comment by MrBubble
2012-02-19 09:11:42

The tan man needs a bullet in his brain.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:35:53

Now, now — there is no need to resort to violence when a long prison sentence and confiscation of his illicit financial gains would do the job perfectly well.

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Comment by MrBubble
2012-02-19 22:24:46

Isn’t prison supposed to rehabilitate people? I’d put this guy in a class with pederasts and arsonists, the kind of scumbags who can’t be rehabilitated with recidivism rates sky high. As long as he never gets out, I’m with you.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:13:41

Did you ever notice how the SEC almost always settles at a level that makes crime pay?

Almost always? Unless the miscreants are some two-bit outfit in the flyover states, the SEC ALWAYS lets them off with a slap on the wrist (and immunity from further prosecution).

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:36:53

OK, always. Thanks for the correction.

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Comment by Realtors Are Liars®
2012-02-19 06:25:11

Have you guys noticed the broader theme to all the news releases? Political, economic, fiscal, monetary, etc.

It’s still kick the can down the road as it relates to all the decisions that need to be made. The losses are massive…. and nobody is willing to take the loss.

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 08:31:53

Yes! Except for all the high profile bankruptcies.

Comment by Darrell_in_PHX
2012-02-19 08:59:34

Yep. Just delay and pray. Pray for what I do not know. They seem to have given up on actually attacking trade imbalances.

Comment by Ben Jones
2012-02-19 09:24:25

‘given up on actually attacking trade imbalances’

Trade imbalances aren’t a consideration in the globalist view. This is seen as a reworking of the global order. Note that we’re told these jobs are ‘never coming back.’ There’s no ebb and flow to this process.

‘all the high profile bankruptcies’

And lotto winners, Facebook gazillionaires, and OMG have you seen the new gadget from Apple?!

It’s what the media does; distraction. We went from housing bubble to a scandal about people signing stuff without reading it. Losing your ass on a house? Forget about all those experts and quasi-governmental maestros who told you that you couldn’t lose. Your Attorney General (how’s that for an authority figure? Just under Field Marshall) will save you in a lawsuit. They may keep half the money and spend it on stadiums, but no matter.

I’ve watched the GOP debates. I don’t recall the World Trade Organization being mentioned once. We’re in this big recession, and they aren’t talking about jobs. It’s Iran! Nukes, terrorists, and CONDOMS!

Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 09:32:11

It’s about winning elections. And telling people that we’ve been down the wrong path for decades and it will take decades to undo the damage doesn’t sell at the voting booth. Voters expect the candidate to wave a magic wand and to fix everything within months.

This is why I believe they blow bubbles. You can blow a bubble fairly quickly. It makes the sheeple happy as either their stocks or or houses or tulip bulbs appreciate quickly and they feel “rich”.

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Comment by oxide
2012-02-19 11:46:54

An entire screed on distractive media without Whitney Houston. I’m impressed. :D

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Comment by Neuromance
2012-02-19 13:18:48

A society cannot be both ignorant and free. — Thomas Jefferson

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Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2012-02-19 15:26:22

“It’s Iran! Nukes, terrorists, and CONDOMS!”

Correct me if I’m wrong (and I might be, considering I’ve watched parts of all debates but not one in its entirety), but that seems to be the case for 75% of the current four R candidates.

The other guy seems to be calling BS on all of that but comes off as a crazy, rambling loon because he typically has to sum all of his thoughts up in just a few 1.5 minute sessions, while the others spray the same red-herrings all over the auditorium to audiences apparently hungry for more.

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Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 09:38:03

Pray for what I do not know.

That they will be retired with their ill gotten nest eggs safely hidden in offshore bank accounts when the poop hits the fan?

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2012-02-19 18:03:28

Has anyone noticed this? I think it’s going to hammer the economy:


Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 07:09:29


Not housing related, but this DNA sequencer is a huge medical advance.

Comment by ahansen
2012-02-19 23:57:52

Very cool, Sammy. Thanx.

Comment by palmetto
2012-02-19 07:21:03

This Sheriff Babeu dust-up in Arizona is truly gasterflabbing. He’s gay, and apparently tried to get his ex-illgal immigrant boyfriend to sign a document, under apparent threat of deportation, stating the boyfriend would never reveal the relationship. Even better, apparently Babeu has been an advocate for sealing the border. You can’t make this stuff up.

Of course, these are allegations, but the whole issue has forced the Sheriff to emerge from the closet.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:15:18

This guy was a vocal McCain and Romney supporter. Go figure.

Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 09:27:56

He knows what sells in his district.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:29:30

Not integrity and sincere commitment to enforcing the rule of law impartially.

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Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 09:34:31

Exactly. They just want him to kick illegal butt.

Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-19 17:18:56

They just want him to kick illegal butt.

There are so many good jokes to make about that one, but this is a family blog…

Comment by skroodle
2012-02-19 10:45:21

Why are there so many Republicans in the closet?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:49:31

Not all of them are in the closet.

Welcome to Log Cabin Republicans.

Log Cabin Republicans are proud members of the GOP who believe inclusion wins. Log Cabin works to build a stronger, more inclusive Republican Party by promoting the core values of limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, free markets and a strong national defense while advocating for the freedom and equality of gay and lesbian Americans.

Log Cabin Republicans is the only Republican organization dedicated to representing the interests of gay and lesbian Americans and their allies. The 30-year old organization has state and local chapters nationwide, a full-time office in Washington, DC, a federal political action committee and state political action committees.

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Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-19 17:26:07

Those guys are tapping their foot under the wrong stall.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:54:45

Politics breeds strange bedfellows, especially when it comes to gay Republicans.

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Comment by SV guy
2012-02-19 15:22:50

Anybody seen Red State?

Great movie and similar sub-plot to the above referenced story.

Comment by Realtors Are Liars®
2012-02-19 07:25:01

Pay your mortgage or pack your bags. What’s it gonna be Alfie?

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:16:25

RAL, your callousness toward these victims of predatory lending (as every one of them were) is simply appalling.

/sarc off.

Comment by Realtors Are Liars®
2012-02-19 14:53:27

Of course they are victims. Didn’t you know that defaults and foreclosures have only been around since 2006?

Comment by Hard Rain
2012-02-19 07:31:51

Canada Housing Heads for Severe Correction on Investment: Chart of the Day


Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 09:26:00

From the chart, Canada recovered quickly from its 2008 hiccup. Of course, conditions now are different than in 2008.

2012-02-19 10:42:29

Not going to end well either in Canada or Australia.

Very bad stuff coming down the pipe.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:50:39

Can’t wait!

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Comment by rms
2012-02-19 13:10:11

Not going to end well either in Canada…

Maybe some of those Phoenix (investment/second) homes will hit the market as the summer heat arrives?

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 07:58:31

Which presidential candidate is most likely to uphold “liberty and justice for all” as a governing principle?

Recently entry in WSJ’s Notable & Quotable column:

Not only is liberty a system under which all government action is guided by principles, but it is an ideal that will not be preserved unless it is itself accepted as an overriding principle governing all particular acts of legislation.

Where no such fundamental rule is stubbornly adhered to as an ultimate ideal about which there must be no compromise for the sake of material advantages — as an ideal which, even though it may have to be temporarily infringed during a passing emergency, must form the basis of all permanent arrangements — freedom is almost certain to be destroyed by piecemeal encroachments. For in each particular instance it will be possible to promise concrete and tangible advantages as the result of a curtailment of freedom, while the benefits sacrificed will in their nature always be unknown and uncertain.

If freedom were not treated as the supreme principle, the fact that the promises which a free society has to offer can always be only chances and not certainties, only opportunities and not definite gifts to particular individuals, would inevitably prove a fatal weakness and lead to its slow erosion.

– Friedrich Hayek in “The Constitution of Liberty,” 1960

Comment by Blue Skye
2012-02-19 08:36:55

Are you Serious? Aren’t we more concerned with preserving life as we know it?

Comment by Ben Jones
2012-02-19 09:07:47

‘Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorial…meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit.’ Aldous Huxley, BRAVE NEW WORLD REVISITED.

Comment by Muggy
2012-02-19 11:35:47


I’ve said this before: if there’s an anti-federal, anti-global guy out there, it’s your average FL Sheriff. The NWO can try, but if we ever get to the whole FEMA camp thing, there will be 4 US regions and POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA, y’all.

This actually eases my mind.

Comment by skroodle
2012-02-19 10:47:31

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. ”
― George Orwell

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:52:28

Throw in lots of religion, and you essentially have the Republican party platform. Keep religion out of it, and you have the Democratic platform.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 12:56:00

Which presidential candidate is most likely to instate a rule of law in the financial sector?

Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-19 17:41:45

Second-term Obama would probably be the best bet. But not a great bet. We’ll probably get to see.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 19:08:55

I’m thinking the big surprise could be a second-term Obama bidding the last of the Clinton-era financial team farewell and bringing in some new blood to wring the white collar criminal element out of the financial sector. Time will tell…

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Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 08:20:07

Is it too late to replace the sucky Dodd-Frank act with a reinstituted Glass-Steagall act?

The Dodd-Frank act
Too big not to fail
Flaws in the confused, bloated law passed in the aftermath of America’s financial crisis become ever more apparent
Feb 18th 2012 | NEW YORK | from the print edition

SECTIONS 404 and 406 of the Dodd-Frank law of July 2010 add up to just a couple of pages. On October 31st last year two of the agencies overseeing America’s financial system turned those few pages into a form to be filled out by hedge funds and some other firms; that form ran to 192 pages. The cost of filling it out, according to an informal survey of hedge-fund managers, will be $100,000-150,000 for each firm the first time it does it. After having done it once, those costs might drop to $40,000 in every later year.

Hedge funds command little pity these days. But their bureaucratic task is but one example of the demands for fees and paperwork with which Dodd-Frank will blanket a vast segment of America’s economy. After the crisis of 2008, finance plainly needed better regulation. Lots of institutions had turned out to enjoy the backing of the taxpayer because they were too big to fail. Huge derivatives exposures had gone unnoticed. Supervisory responsibilities were too fragmented. Dodd-Frank, named after its co-sponsors, Senator Chris Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, attempted to address these issues (section 404 is one of those aimed at excessive risk exposure). But there is an ever-more-apparent risk that the harm done by the massive cost and complexity of its regulations, and the effects of its internal inconsistencies, will outweigh what good may yet come from it.

The law that set up America’s banking system in 1864 ran to 29 pages; the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 went to 32 pages; the Banking Act that transformed American finance after the Wall Street Crash, commonly known as the Glass-Steagall act, spread out to 37 pages. Dodd-Frank is 848 pages long. Voracious Chinese officials, who pay close attention to regulatory developments elsewhere, have remarked that the mammoth law, let alone its appended rules, seems to have been fully read by no one outside Beijing (your correspondent is a tired-eyed exception to this rule). And the size is only the beginning. The scope and structure of Dodd-Frank are fundamentally different to those of its precursor laws, notes Jonathan Macey of Yale Law School: “Laws classically provide people with rules. Dodd-Frank is not directed at people. It is an outline directed at bureaucrats and it instructs them to make still more regulations and to create more bureaucracies.” Like the Hydra of Greek myth, Dodd-Frank can grow new heads as needed.

Comment by Neuromance
2012-02-19 13:32:38

848 pages means it’s full of exclusions and loopholes. It’s trying to deal with the symptoms instead of the core disease (allowing lenders to avoid keeping repayment risk).

The core reforms necessary?

1) Force lenders to keep a large amount of repayment risk.
2) Firewall bank deposits from Wall Street betting operations.
3) Have a massive regulatory apparatus keeping an eye on those betting operations.
4) Prevent regulatory capture in no uncertain terms, of regulators by the industries they regulate.
5) Have a five or ten year limit in which politicians and top regulators cannot join the firms or industries they regulate.

All policies have costs and benefits. We have real world experience and data of the costs and benefits of the current system. We realize there is huge money for both the financial sector and politicians in the current system, resulting in massive resistance to meaningful reform.

But it’s not rocket science. We know what has failed and why. It’s time to sh-t or get off the pot.

However, extend and pretend plus political theater (sitting on the pot and grimacing) keeps the game going ever longer, protecting the beneficiaries of the current system and extracting more wealth from the public treasury.

Comment by alpha-sloth
2012-02-19 17:52:59

Hedge funds command little pity these days. But their bureaucratic task is but one example of the demands for fees and paperwork…

Then it’s odd that they don’t list any of the other examples, other than the one that bites the hedgies in the butt. And that one is described so hazily, I’m not so sure it’s as outrageous as they claim. Is that really the best example they’ve got?

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:01:37


Gallup shows big jump in unemployment in February, despite the Obama/BLS “improving economy” meme. Then there’s more than a million gray ghosts who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and are not longer counted as “unemployed” by our GOSPLAN-like BLS stats. I’m guessing most of the “new jobs” are in fast food and sign flipping. How can any of this possibly be good for housing?

Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 09:23:25

We all know the official UE numbers have been bunk for decades.

Comment by Darrell_in_PHX
2012-02-19 09:06:01

Why, why, why do ao many people want to see a greater depression?

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:32:29

The last thing I want to see is a greater depression. I know too many people already who are stressed and hurting due to the current economy. What I DO want to to see is honest and credible statistics and an honest national debate on our current fiscal picture and what we need to do to get back on a sound footing and stop loading trillions in new debt onto the backs of future taxpayers.

Comment by Moman
2012-02-19 14:38:55


We also need to admit that there are large problems with a consumption economy and get the people to understand that it can be fixed with the resurgence of domestic manufacturing and a strong savings base. It might be painful for a while but then we will all be better off (at least most of us, notably absent the REIC)

Comment by Ben Jones
2012-02-19 09:34:18

‘want to see a greater depression’

That’s intellectually dishonest. I’ve been following what you say. There is disagreement about what should be done, and if someone doesn’t want your policies, they ‘want’ depression?

I’ve had people on this blog that said they thought this country needed a depression, for various reasons. I’ve always countered that by suggesting that had they lived through one, they wouldn’t welcome it.

Comment by CharlieTango
2012-02-19 10:32:44

Until 1930, what’s now a recession was called a “panic.” President Hoover thought the word “panic” was too panicky, so he called the downturn a “depression.” In the 1937 downturn, President Roosevelt thought “depression” was too depressing, so he called it a “recession.” Since then, downturns that cause panic have been called “recessions.”


Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 17:16:25

As someone once said, it’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job, and a depression when you lose yours.

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Comment by jeff saturday
2012-02-19 12:09:15

Oh my, oh my my
My Landlord is a Deadbeat and my funds are going dry
I wanna go bye, go bye bye
On a Deadbeat holiday

Comment by CarrieAnn
2012-02-19 13:43:55

I’ve had people on this blog that said they thought this country needed a depression, for various reasons. I’ve always countered that by suggesting that had they lived through one, they wouldn’t welcome it.

I understand that point and think it’s a valid one but I’m gonna also argue that there are those who so recognize the potential hardships without having lived through them.

Our grandparents or parents were children during the first Great Depression and sometimes their survival tricks that we thought were tendencies toward cheapness trickled down. I questioned both my grandmothers when we were younger and later my mother in law extensively . Their struggles made great stories and I think a lot of the way I plan for the future comes from those seeds planted long ago. One oft repeated story was how my grandfather used to leave milk on his route for those he knew couldn’t afford it. Took it out of his own pocket besides feeding his own wife and four kids. Livng through a depression doesn’t necessarily mean no work although often it does mean going to where the work is. That might mean providers being in one state while the family is in another. During the 30s 75% of workers kept their job! My grandfathers worked and so did both of my husband’s grandfathers although one did commit suicide before the Depression was over.

Of those that might lose income, several of us might just feel we have a bit of survialist in us. I understand we’ve only tested those skills 1-2 weeks at a time. I’m just saying we have a good base of knowledge to start with.

For those that think they could get through major debilitating hardships it becomes a matter of wanting it to happen while those w/the ideas passed down from the last GD’s survivors are still alive. We remember what it was like to live w/less and how to create things out of nothing. I’ve tried to teach my kids but it’s a different world than what we grew up in in the 60s/70s. They’ll learn from watching me and their father and what we know though. If things crash after we’re gone, who will teach them?

Comment by Moman
2012-02-19 14:40:48

If we don’t allow the free market to dictate winners and losers, a depression is what we will have.

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Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2012-02-19 15:00:19

Off an on you hear folks on the HBB talking about the spending and tax rates of the mid-late 90s. I’m of similar mind, feeling we need to dial both those back as well as the expectations of the consumer to some time before the year 2000.

ISTR, the mid-90s being a pretty good time for me and interest rates on 30 fixed mortgages were at what, 7-8%?

And yet, Bernanke and others make it seem like anything other than ZIRP will crash everything. I say nay.

Comment by Carl Morris
2012-02-19 10:15:37

Why, why, why do ao many people want to see a greater depression?

What I want is honesty and transparency and rule of law (not realistic, I know). Why am I told I can’t have that because it would cause a depression?

Comment by oxide
2012-02-19 11:52:55

Because our economics are not based on goods and services. They are based on “the market,” which is “really all about confidence.” Hell, we barely use physical money anymore. The Great Recession exists on a computer.

If we were to return to a goods and services economy, someone would have to convert all those computer bytes to physical goods or # hours of actual labor. Or at least into physical currency. That alone is enough to cause a panic.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:28:11


Looks like Spaniards who have benefited from the unsustainable welfare state model are not about to go quietly into that long goodnight of EU- and ECB-imposed austerity.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 09:36:32


I wonder how Chinese FBs and migrant workers feel about their government’s commitment to help bail out the PIIGs, especially if a “hard landing” scenario plays out.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 13:21:20

When the leaders of centrally planned economies tell you “it’s all under control,” and there will be no hard landing for China’s bubbleicious economy, you might want to place your bets otherwise.


Zhiwei Zhang from Nomura described the fall as “alarming”, reflecting a sharp slowdown in industry.

Xi Jinpeng, the man likely to take over this year as China’s new leader, said the carefully calibrated slowdown was on track. “There will be no so-called hard landing,” he said on a trip to the US.

The Chinese authorities face a delicate task as they try to deflate the property bubble gently, a challenge that has defeated governments across the globe over the years.

The property sector accounts for 13pc of GDP, comparable to Spain at the peak of its bubble. Credit in China has increased by almost 100pc of GDP over the last five years, largely due to the lending blitz unleashed after the Lehman collapse.

The credit boom ranks as the biggest of any major country since the Second World War, exceeding the pace of loan growth during the US sub-prime bubble.

Communist officials now think the country over-reacted in 2008-2009, flooding the economy with indiscriminate credit. The policy led to surging inequality between rich and poor. They are wary of repeating the error despite signs that Europe’s recession is squeezing Chinese exporters.

The central bank’s room for manoeuvre is limited since inflation jumped to 4.5pc in January. The economy has reached a point in the quadrant of the cycle where the trade-off between growth and rising prices has turned less friendly.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 10:14:32


On top of Obama putting US taxpayers on the hook to back Egypt’s recent $1 billion bond issue, now the IMF (17% funded by US) is “loaning” them another $3.2 billion.

Color that money gone. But it’s not like we needed it here at home or anything….

2012-02-19 11:46:39

I know this is not talked about much around here but I’d like to bring it up.

When the SHTF, it’s always the creditor country that takes it up the tailpipe.

Two reasons: one, they have optimized their means of production to tailor to the debtor, and two, they just lost all of their past productivity when the debtor refused to pay.

So you get a double whammy.

That’s why the US got it so bad in GD1. They were the ultimate creditors.

Guess what that means for China and Germany.

Comment by oxide
2012-02-19 11:54:48

If you borrow $10,000 from the bank and you don’t pay it back, you have a problem. If you borrow $10,000,000,000,000 from the bank and you don’t pay it back…

Comment by Ol'Bubba
2012-02-19 12:39:42

When the SHTF, it’s always the creditor country bank that takes it up the tailpipe.

Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2012-02-19 14:54:56

That’s why the US got it so bad in GD1. They were the ultimate creditors.

Guess what that means for China and Germany.

Interesting thought, FPSS…

Comment by ahansen
2012-02-19 16:34:19


In answer to your yesterday’s post to me, you might want to ask Candidate (you’ll pardon the expression,) Santorum the same question.

Comment by ahansen
2012-02-20 00:13:13

I’ve contended this was the GWB plan all along. Clinton left him a nascent depression, what with the tech bubble and a monster trade imbalance thanks to Guangzhou FTZ. Had to chuck it off on SOMEone…. Germany got stuck with the EU, and PRC got the USA. Doo dah.

Comment by jeff saturday
2012-02-19 12:58:06

ESPN fires employee for Lin headline seen online

2 hours ago

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — ESPN says it fired an employee responsible for an offensive headline referring to Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin.

The headline “Chink in the Armor” was used Friday on ESPN’s mobile website after Lin had nine turnovers in New York’s loss to New Orleans.

In a statement Sunday, ESPN apologizes for that headline and also says it is also aware of two other “offensive and inappropriate” comments on ESPN outlets.

An ESPNEWS anchor who used the phrase has been suspended for 30 days. And ESPN says a similar reference was made Friday on ESPN Radio New York, but the commentator is not an ESPN employee.

Lin is the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. He has captivated fans by leading the Knicks to seven straight wins before Friday’s loss.

Comment by skroodle
2012-02-19 16:39:33

Yao Ming played for the Houston Rockets 10 years ago.
They are stretching to call Lin the first “American born” Chinese basketball player.

Comment by Neuromance
2012-02-19 13:11:17

So, if money equals speech, that means wealthier people have more speech than the less wealthy. And logical constructs - corporations and unions - have the most speech of all.

Citizens United was a way to counter union money in politics. But it based it on an absurd premise, that money is speech. Money can facilitate having one’s message heard, by buying advertising time and putting on attention-getting events, and accessing politicians, but it in and of itself is not speech.

Bottom line - why should executive teams of unions and corporations be allowed so much more voice in our political system than individuals? It seems wildly undemocratic. Welcome to the oligarchy.

High Court Halts Montana Corporate Spending Ban
By Greg Stohr - Feb 18, 2012 12:01 AM ET

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a century-old Montana ban on corporate campaign spending, signaling the justices may reinforce a 2010 ruling that allowed companies to donate unlimited amounts to influence elections.

The high court yesterday put the Montana law on hold until it announces whether it will review the measure, which is being challenged by two nonprofit corporations and a family-owned business.

The case would test the 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That decision, which divided the court 5-4 along ideological lines, allowed corporate spending as long as companies don’t directly coordinate with candidates.


Comment by Neuromance
2012-02-19 14:31:02

More money = more voice. Welcome to the Plutocracy.

Comment by Bill in Los Angeles
2012-02-19 13:24:09

http://tiny url.com/7pywz45

Nice article. I am at a lower hourly rate in L.A. Than in Tampa, but in Tampa I rented a car and my airline tickets to the west were higher than what I will pay to visit Phoenix from L.A. I work two miles away, but sometimes have to drive to the office in the OC (grr!). My gas expenses are lower. In all, I think I come out slightly ahead compared to my fourteen months in Tampa.

I am in a very walkable part of the South Bay. Parking is very scarce. So I am forced to walk in the evenings to keep my parking space. Otherwise park nearly a city block away.

In New Tampa it was hardly walkable. Bruce B Downs is the busiest street I saw. Very dangerous for pedestrians even on crosswalks.

The suburbs are antiseptic, dead, and don’t have the opportunities of big cities. Some of you survivalists keep talking disaster, riots, apocalypse, but you talk that way for twenty years, live in a rural area, and what does your retirement savings look like?

Comment by Moman
2012-02-19 14:44:52

Bill you pointed on the problem with Tampa. The growth is uneven and the three major cities fight among each other instead of coming up with a regional growth plan. New Tampa is all but dead, nothing more than a suitcase city with people moving in, out, out-of-state constantly. All the suburbs around Tampa are similar. It’s really sad what’s happened to what once was a comfortable, beautiful city. I do believe it can be great again, but would take some regional leadership instead of the “my neighborhood” concept.

Comment by Muggy
2012-02-19 14:58:53

“It’s really sad what’s happened to what once was a comfortable, beautiful city. I do believe it can be great again”

This is everything that was said about my former dives, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. And still, they are in decline.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 15:29:18

‘I do believe it can be great again, but would take some regional leadership instead of the “my neighborhood” concept.’

Doesn’t sound very libertarian…

Comment by Bill in Los Angeles
2012-02-19 15:43:46

PB, if there was no eminent domain and public ownership of roads, it certainly would stifle the urban sprawl. Urban sprawl is the direct result of government involvement in the highways and street systems. It naturally happens when there is a massive source of money and no one responsible to make it spent efficiently (hence traffic jams).

The challenge is to undo the government-caused sprawl. It could be done over a period of time. It will be done eventually as the people with their heads up dark smelly places find out the hard way when the interest on the federal debt is the biggest consumer of tax revenue. Government will have no choice but to massively privatize the functions that most of people are too shallow to realize they can be done privately. Government has no magical power to operate certain functions.

Just as Ron Paul’s prescription to get America back on track is inevitable.

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Comment by Ol'Bubba
2012-02-19 15:39:59

the three major cities fight among each other instead of coming up with a regional growth plan.

That’s the truth. I lived in Pinellas County for about 10 years. During that time I came to think of the area as two large metro areas (Hillsborough and Pinellas) in close proximity to one another rather than one large metro area.

So instead of being one metro area of 2.5 million people, it seems more like 2 distinct metro areas of 1.2 million people, especially with the internal fighting that you mentioned.

The difference is that a large metro area is able to support economic and cultural endeavors and opportunities you don’t find in the smaller metro areas.

Comment by ahansen
2012-02-19 16:13:32

“…what does your retirement savings look like?”

A couple of hundred fruit and nut trees, freshwater springs, gardens, barns and coops, honey hives, berry and mushroom patches, wood stock, pasture land, game and grazing rights, and a sturdy little house with no mortgage. And for you, Bila, on a highly-defensable upper property, an old gold mine with all the mineral rights intact that was once set up and used as a (legal,) pot farm.

Also my son and foster kids. And a good ornery constitution…. :-)
Wanna trade? I sure don’t.

Comment by Bill in Los Angeles
2012-02-19 17:05:16

So what happens when you get too old to tend all those possessions? You make a slave out of your son?

Comment by ahansen
2012-02-19 18:28:50

Lessee…What do landed old folks typically do? I can lease it out selectively, sell or barter the produce and facilities, trade the caretaker’s cottage for caretaking, take in one of the kids’ families in exchange for a place at the table. And when the time comes, I’ve got acres and acres of free parking….

Not everyone hates their kids, Bila, and not all kids view their friendship with the ‘rents as “slavery.” Besides, it’s all in child’s trusts anyway, so it’s up to him whether he wants to put me to pasture or put me down. ;-)

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Comment by Muggy
2012-02-19 19:03:55

This is the kind of showdown that makes HBB legend.

So Allena is a self-sufficient, ass-kicking goddesshomesteader, and bila is a defense coder?

Who’s the free one again?

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 17:22:24


Disillusioned former Obama supporters are turning to Ron Paul for REAL hope and change.

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2012-02-19 19:23:07

Add me to the roster.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 17:28:41


I don’t think the proles should begrudge the plutocrats a few hookers at their bashes. How much longer are American taxpayers going to be subsidizing this racket?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-02-19 19:11:29

At least the hookers presumably signed up for the deal and got paid, unlike the unwilling hotel maid.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 17:34:27


US corporate media somehow overlooked this warning from Ron Paul.

Comment by Sammy Schadenfreude
2012-02-19 17:38:44


With WTI crude hitting $105 today, it looks like $4 gallon gas - the freak-out level - might be imminent.

Comment by Muggy
2012-02-19 18:35:45

This year feels so much like 2008.

Comment by In Colorado
2012-02-19 18:39:44

It’s still $3 out here.

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2012-02-19 19:18:31

$3.75 here yesterday.

Comment by rms
2012-02-19 19:50:31

If you can’t afford super then you can’t afford to drive.

Comment by GrizzlyBear
2012-02-19 22:58:36

I’m paying over $4 for diesel.

Comment by CarrieAnn
2012-02-19 20:32:41

Oh Polly! (Is she still away?) This is a British event and not US but we now have a precedence of banker bonus clawback. The trick is the clawback is not being demanded by the government but instead is conducted by the employer bank. And the clawback was for a different complaint than what Polly was explaining was impossible to prove. But it was kind of refreshing to see the sellers of worthless products lose their sales compensation nontheless.

Lloyds to strip bankers of bonuses: report

(Reuters) - British bank Lloyds (LLOY.L) is to strip five current and former senior bankers of more than 1 million pounds in bonuses over their role in the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.

The bank is taking back the bonuses over the scandal that cost the part state-owned bank 3.2 billion pounds last year, the newspaper said.

The bonus withdrawal will be the first time a British bank has exercised a “clawback” option on executive pay packages since the financial crisis, the newspaper said.

PPI was often sold alongside loans to cover repayments if borrowers fell ill or lost their jobs.

The product was labelled as worthless insurance for many customers by a British consumer group in 2008, which followed compensation claims by buyers.

In April last year, the industry lost a case in the British High Court to stop customers demanding compensation. Lloyds announced weeks after the decision its intention to set aside 3.2 billion for likely payouts.


Comment by polly
2012-02-19 22:40:41

Umm…Brit court cases aren’t precendent for the US anymore. There was a property case about fox hunting on Long Island in the early 1800s that looked at some British cases, but then had to work from first principles because the Brit cases relied on a statute that New York didn’t have.

Clawing back bonuses mostly depends on the executive’s compensation contract and the balls of the board of directors. Nothing is precendent for anything else if those two things aren’t the same.

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