December 7, 2012

Weekend Topic Suggestions

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Comment by Hard Rain
2012-12-07 06:13:06

The arms race in mega-yachts has reached a new level, with the launch of the “mega support-yacht.”

A Sea Axe support yacht.Support yachts are for people who have outgrown their mega-yachts and need more space for their helicopters, speedboats, launches and submarines. The support yacht acts as a floating garage, trailing alongside the main yacht with all of the owner’s oversized “toys.”

While support yachts have been around for a while, the yacht-maker Amels has launched the Rolls Royce of support yachts — the Sea Axe — a gleaming, 220-feet ship that can hold a mega-chopper, loads of speedboats, a submarine, and all the scuba gear, jet skis and floaties an oligarch or sheik could ever want.

Amels is mum on the price. But they’ve recently sold two, and the company says interest is strong from other buyers.

Amels marketing chief Victor Caminada said that the main appeal of a support yacht is its speed and space. By offloading the toys and chopper pads to the secondary vessel, owners can free up more space on their main yachts for Jacuzzis,wet bars and bedroom suites.

Comment by Arizona Slim
2012-12-07 08:22:42

Coming up next: Pirate raids on these hyper-mega-super yachts.

Comment by In Colorado
2012-12-07 09:24:00

I’d expect the uber rich to have heavily armed ex-Israeli military as security on their private loveboats (along with ultra premium quality call girls)

Comment by Ryan
2012-12-08 06:57:33


There is no shortage of business in this market for Xe (formerly Blackwater). Not to mention a never ending stream of girls willing to come in to play the role of human porta-potty.

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Comment by Al
2012-12-07 13:18:02

Two thoughts on this article:

1) A little more taxation of the rich wouldn’t hurt.

2) Maybe the arms industry should be converting over to producing this kind of stuff. If I was buying a support yacht, I’d want my F-35 commuter jet to be able to land on it.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 06:13:14

With all the ‘fiscal cliff’ sabre rattling underway, how come the stock market is doing so well? We’ve heard from the Fed how terrible it would be to go over the ‘fiscal cliff,’ yet Wall Street traders seem blithely unconcerned.

Am I the only puzzled observer?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 09:45:59

Perhaps if you are deemed too-big-to-fail, and have borrowed enough money at zero percent interest, you don’t worry much about the risk of losing it on foolish gambles.

Are stock investors going insane?

Commentary: Investors not paying attention to the fiscal cliff
December 06, 2012|Brett Arends
AP Photo/Richard Drew

Have investors lost their moorings — or their minds?

As the economy hurtles towards the “fiscal cliff,” the stock market is going up, not down. Standard & Poor’s 500 is buoyant and is now within a few percentage points of a new, post-Lehman high. The Russell 2000 index of the smallest, riskiest stocks has risen 7% in just a few weeks.

Hello, McFly?! Is there anyone home?

I am going to say two things right now that absolutely nobody else anywhere in the media is likely to say. I could be disbarred for saying it, so don’t rat me out.

I have absolutely no idea whether we are going to go over the “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts at the end of this year.

Nor does anybody else.

I doubt even John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi know what’s going to happen. But what is as obvious as a kangaroo in a dinner jacket (to steal from the late, great Raymond Chandler) is that there is a significant risk of us going over.

And yet investors are acting like there’s no worry whatsoever.

Comment by Al
2012-12-07 13:19:46

The fiscal cliff is already ‘priced in’. Just wait for the rally after the cliff is kicked down the road.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 06:20:07

Will limiting the number of cooks in the ‘fiscal cliff’ kitchen improve the broth, or at least increase the odds one will be prepared?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 06:22:40

In Talks on a Budget Deal, Boehner and Obama Stand Alone
Doug Mills/The New York Times
Published: December 6, 2012

WASHINGTON — At House Speaker John A. Boehner’s request, Senate leaders and Representative Nancy Pelosi have been excluded from talks to avert a fiscal crisis, leaving it to Mr. Boehner and President Obama alone to find a deal, Congressional aides say.

All sides, even the parties excluded, say clearing the negotiating room improves the chance of success. It adds complexity as the two negotiators consult separately with the leaders not in the room. But it also minimizes the number of people who need to say yes to an initial agreement.

“This is now the speaker and the president working this through,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat.

White House aides and the speaker’s staff, by mutual agreement, have largely shut down public communication about the talks to avert hundreds of billions of dollars in automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to begin in January if no deal can be reached. Both sides said on Thursday that lines of communication remained open.

For public consumption, Democrats and Republicans are engaging in an increasingly elaborate show of political theater. Mr. Obama on Thursday went to the home of a middle-income family in the Virginia suburbs of Washington to press for an extension of expiring tax cuts for the middle class — and for the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts on incomes over $250,000.

“Just to be clear, I’m not going to sign any package that somehow prevents the top rate from going up for folks at the top 2 percent,” Mr. Obama said. “But I do remain optimistic that we can get something done.”

On Capitol Hill, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, moved Thursday to vote on Mr. Obama’s proposal, in his broader deficit package, to permanently diminish Congress’s control over the federal government’s statutory borrowing limit, assuming that Democrats would break ranks and embarrass the president. Instead, Democratic leaders did a count, found they had 51 solid votes, and took Mr. McConnell up on what Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate majority leader, called “a positive development.”

Mr. McConnell then filibustered his own bill, objecting to a simple-majority vote and saying a change of such magnitude requires the assent of 60 senators.

“I do believe we made history on the Senate floor today,” Mr. Durbin said.

The government is expected to hit its borrowing limit in late January or early February, and it is an added complication in the deficit talks because some House Republicans say they will demand further spending cuts before they lift the debt ceiling. Mr. Obama has said that any deal on taxes and spending must ensure that there will not be another crisis over the debt ceiling early next year.

Comment by A human prop in a political speech
2012-12-07 06:40:59

2 crooks are still more than enough to fook up.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 06:29:10

Are the 4%, American households making over $250,000 a year, aka “Bush’s base, about to lose their massive Bush-era tax cut?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 06:54:34

For what it’s worth, the New York Times calculator I posted the other day indicated that $250,000 was the cutoff for the top three percent. By contrast, the median U.S. household income is (supposedly) around $51,000

Opinion: As fiscal cliff nears, we are better off without Bush tax cuts for top 2 percent

Times of Trenton guest opinion column
on December 06, 2012 at 8:21 AM, updated December 06, 2012 at 8:49 AM
By Joshua Henne

Mere days after the polls closed in 2004 — the election he actually won – President George W. Bush proclaimed, “I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” Bush garnered 286 electoral votes and called it a mandate.

Well, last month, President Barack Obama racked up a whopping 332 electoral votes in his re-election bid. Now, that’s a mandate.

At its heart, the 2012 campaign was about fairness. And there’s no better way for Obama to level the playing field than by letting the Bush tax cuts expire on the wealthiest 2 percent.

The Senate has already passed legislation S3412, providing tax relief for middle-class families. Right now, Obama would sign a bill extending tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans if it came across his desk. Yet, some stubborn House Republicans continue holding this plan hostage to keep the system rigged in favor of those at the tippy-top. Obama has drawn a line in cement that he’d veto any legislation continuing cuts for those making more than $250,000.

By any metric, America’s most affluent aren’t hurting. In fact, they’re far richer today than at any time in history — taking home a larger slice of total wealth and income than top earners have received in more than 80 years. If the Bush tax cuts were to expire for the top 2 percent, they’d still be able to keep up with the Kardashians.

Allowing the clock to run out on these cuts isn’t merely a symbolic gesture of finally shaking off the yoke of Bush’s failed legacy. There are practical, real-life implications, as well.

Comment by Combotechie
2012-12-07 06:46:42

Hey Spook,

The Apollo 11 astronauts allegedly left on the moon a set of mirrors, called the “lunar laser ranging retroreflector array”, that allegedly allows scientists to measure the distance from the earth to the moon with great accuracy.

Question: Do you believe this to be true?

Comment by In Colorado
2012-12-07 07:31:34

Had we faked the moon landing, wouldn’t the Ruskies have called us on it?

Comment by ahansen
2012-12-07 11:48:27

Don’t let Buzz hear your commie talk…

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 06:55:46

Will Ben’s bucks save us from the dire consequences of the ‘fiscal cliff’ deal or no deal game?

Comment by A human prop in a political speech
2012-12-07 06:58:01

There will be a deal. Take it to the bank.

Interim deal this month and long term deal early next yr.

Comment by Xenos
2012-12-09 03:06:07

The cliff, itself, is a political deal. It is the last political deal, and the more the PTB hate it, the more I like it.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 07:05:08

Bloomberg News
Fed’s Rosengren Sees ‘Strong Case’ for More Asset Buying
By Caroline Salas Gage on December 03, 2012

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren said he sees a “strong case” for the central bank to buy bonds at the current monthly pace of $85 billion after its Operation Twist program expires.

“Given the tepid economic recovery, high unemployment, and subdued inflation — and the uncertainty around fiscal policy — I believe an accommodative monetary policy is quite appropriate,” Rosengren said today in a speech in New York. “We want to see continued improvement in labor markets in the near term, and monetary policy should encourage faster economic growth to achieve that objective.”

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 06:56:46

At what point will politicians announce the MID is off the table?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 06:57:53

Losing mortgage deduction would be a small sacrifice
By TBO.COM | Staff
Published: December 06, 2012

The tax deduction for mortgage interest, designed to encourage home ownership, has done its job by encouraging some families to make wise investments. At the same time, it has enticed other buyers to go deeper into debt than they otherwise would have.

Now, with Congress seeking ways to reduce the budget deficit, a good place to look would be at reducing or even eliminating this long-standing deduction.

Today’s low interest rates make the deduction worth less than in the past. That’s no problem because with great rates available, buyers need less incentive.

Nationwide, only 26 percent of taxpayers claimed a mortgage deduction in 2010, USA Today reports. In Florida it was only 19 percent. The average deduction in Florida was $11,163.

A few years ago, some members of a deficit-reduction panel suggested that the deduction for mortgage interest be replaced with a tax credit equal to 12 percent of the interest paid on a maximum loan of $500,000, down from the current $1 million. They also wanted the tax break eliminated for vacation cabins and any second home.

The idea went nowhere. Those involved in building and selling houses fought back, fearing any change would discourage home-buying and even hurt property values.

Home ownership, without a doubt, can strengthen a community’s social fabric in a number of ways. But why must it be a permanent government obligation to help a minority of us make our interest payments to the bank?

Comment by rms
2012-12-08 03:20:36

“At what point will politicians announce the MID is off the table?”

FWIW, I haven’t heard or read much lately about defense cuts either.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 07:19:43

Are any other industries besides Megabank, Inc planning massive layoffs for the holiday season? (Ya gotta love Megabanksters acting like Ebenezer Scrooge this time of year…)

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 07:21:14

I guess those massive bailouts and record profits weren’t enough to go around?

Holiday Jeer: Big Banks Planning More Layoffs
By Charlie Gasparino, Matt Egan, Adam Samson, Sital Patel
Published December 05, 2012

The big Wall Street firms are preparing to dole out a not-so-nice holiday gift to their employees: More layoffs.

Citigroup’s (C) decision to slash 11,000 jobs today comes as a number of big banks are planning further cuts to the workforce in the coming months, the FOX Business Network has learned. People inside Morgan Stanley (MS) and Goldman Sachs (GS) say management at those banks is contemplating cutbacks, as well, something that officials there won’t deny.

Analysts say Citigroup’s cut were unusually large, around 4% of its entire workforce, reflecting the fact that Citigroup had waited too long to reduce headcount given mounting profit and regulatory pressures on all the big banks. Still, even firms that have already announced major layoffs like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are expected to announce job reductions in the coming weeks and months, according to people close to both firms.

Comment by Combotechie
2012-12-07 07:35:06

A symptom of massive krill death.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-07 09:46:59

That’s just it: When krill dies, so do whales.

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Comment by shendi
2012-12-07 20:09:25

In a case of natural settings, yes. Here you have the inefficiencies in a large company that can be cut without a major dent long term.

By the way, I would like to pose a question regarding waste: Everyone talks about waste that is undoubtedly present in government organizations. But how many know of the waste that is in private corporations - even without the unions?

Like I mentioned earlier, people without proper skills to match their inflated job titles will be culled - there is no other way.

Comment by Neuromance
2012-12-07 10:17:04

What are the similarities between a corrupt system controlled by local warlords and central planning?

1) Both systems are driven by the whims/desires of an individual or small group of people.

2) Rules are unstable, again based on the whims/desires of the central planners/warlords. This makes planning for the future difficult.

3) It causes malinvestment as the desires of the warlords/central planners drive the allocation of resources, instead of the desires of the population at large.

4) Those who get ahead are those who curry connections and political favors with the central planner(s) or chieftain, rather than effectively providing goods and services to the marketplace.

5) Both systems are typically massively inefficient, as they are not serving the interests of the population at large, but rather a small group of connected insiders and the warlord.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-12-07 11:52:10

Central planning is un-American.

Comment by ahansen
2012-12-07 11:53:19

So the trick is to be the warlord’s central planner?

Comment by polly
2012-12-07 13:40:10

This is for you.

People write in with holiday horror stories to get perspective and make the rest of us with semi-normal families and/or less overwhelming disasters feel better. Funniest story (though not the “worst” [best]) this year is this one:

Butterball Explosion
My sister isn’t the craftiest of individuals, nor did our mom succeed in passing down the Betty Crocker gene. Needless to say her cooking incidents have been epic over the years. She once needed a cup of pimento’s for a recipe and proceeded to de-pimento a gallon jug of olives. I could go on. The absolute kicker was when she pleaded to host her first Thanksgiving. Being proud to host, she collected all new recipes one of which included popcorn stuffing for the inside of the big bird. I believe it called for 3 cups of popped popcorn. She did’t compute and dumped three cups of unpopped popcorn inside the cavity. Shoved it in the oven and applied heat. Needless to say three cups of unpopped popcorn is a lot…enough to explode the carcass of the turkey all over the oven. No turkey that day but we had lots of turkey flavored popcorn. I love my sister, but I’ve taken over the hosting of cooked meals.

Comment by Patrick
2012-12-07 14:10:04


First Sunday back from honeymoon my wife hosted a roast beef dinner - cooked in her new pyrex dish.

Blew the dish to dust.

Forty five years later we still eat in restaurants a lot.


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Comment by ahansen
2012-12-07 15:37:56

Thanks for this, Polly. I have to admit that as the centerpiece of a formal Thanksgiving meal, the idea of an exploding turkey holds a certain appeal for me…. :-)

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Comment by Neuromance
2012-12-07 10:21:55

The government should not be in the business of buying or guaranteeing private debt. Yes/No?

I’ve concluded this system is absolutely ripe for abuse, as we’ve seen in the education and housing bubbles. When government starts buying or insuring debt in a sector, purportedly to drive down costs, the price of the goods in that sector skyrocket, primarily benefiting connected insiders. Typically bond market participants. Those who wind up paying more are those who take on debt to pay for the increasingly expensive goods.

Comment by Patrick
2012-12-07 13:53:07

I agree. For a bank to get it’s charter it should be forced to allocate it’s loans sector by sector, and by location without regard to race.

Same for insurance companies.

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower©
2012-12-07 11:50:55

Who in the international financial system assumes the duty of propping up the gold price above $1700/oz? Check out this morning’s action, for instance: The price plunged at opening to $1684, only to mysteriously recover to above $1700/oz again.

Comment by Patrick
2012-12-07 14:00:27

If the USA is legally allowed to have an accumulated debt of $16,394B and today is at $16,370B - why is this not being talked about ? Six more days till - cut off !

Comment by Xenos
2012-12-09 03:12:06

Because nobody has ever determined if the debt limit itself is constitutional. It is very much an open question, legally.

Comment by Neuromance
2012-12-07 19:52:18

The Austrian school of economics was wrong about hyperinflation from the stimulus. Or was it merely that the Austrian timeframe was wrong?

What has Keynesian thought been wrong about?

Comment by Cantankerous Intellectual Bomb Thrower™
2012-12-08 17:00:38

A stopped-clock financial prediction is right twice a century.

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