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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yeah, I was blown away, too

After getting together with friends this evening, for dinner, I realized I wasn't the only one who was a bit blown away, emotionally, of all things, by Senator Obama's "informercial" last evening.

It seems the pictures and videos and testimony were all a bit more than at least some of us were expecting.

It reminds me so much of what I think people thought and felt for first John Kennedy and then his brother, Robert.

See if you don't see more suggestions of that comparison in time to come. I think you/we all will.

Anyway, the closer we get to the election, the more overwhelming it all seems. The more incredible it seems, that Barack Obama will be President. (I'm pretty darned sure).

(And I am SO FREAKIN' SICK of this election, otherwise).




On a side note--back to the real and scary world of economics--did anyone see this following little tidbit?

"The Federal Reserve agreed to provide $30 billion each to the central banks of Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore, expanding its effort to unfreeze money markets to emerging nations for the first time."

See the story link here:
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/10/fed-expands-swap-o-rama-to-brazil.html

That's 120 BILLION DOLLARS, all at once, to Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore.

Holy cow. We're talking real money here.

This all brings on a few rather significant questions, I think:

1) Holy spreadsheet, Batman, what is our government doing??

2) Is what the government is doing the right thing? (Are they the right things?)

3) Who's REALLY in charge of our government right now?

4) Are we going to regret this in short order?

5) Are the people "in control" REALLY in control?

6) Are these same people (you know, the ones in "control") sure of what they're doing?

7) Aren't we throwing one heck of a lot of money around and rather helter skelter, at that? (In the billions, regularly).

8) Are the people in charge REALLY certain of the ramifications of what they're doing?

9) Are some of the things we're doing counterproductive with some of the other things we're doing, simultaneously?

10) Can we be certain of our answer(s) to no. 9 above?

11) Can we be certain of our answers to any and all of the questions above?

12) Are the people in charge certain of the answers to any and all of the questions above?

13) What other "unkowns" are out there that we're unaware of?

14) Are we--all of us, even the ones in charge--totally winging it and in completely new, unidentified territory here, so they really AREN'T sure of what they're doing? (I'm afraid the answer here is a certifiable "yes").

Whole lotta questions, goin' on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Worst. Ever.

The inspiration of tonight's entry is from having just watched a "Frontline" edition on PBS about the recent--and not so recent--past and present of the Afgahnistan war, pointing out where we've been, where we are and where we must go, there and internationally.

Considering the following:

1) How thinly the US military is spread, between our 2 ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

2) What a complete clusterflick the war in Iraq is and has been

3) What a complete clusterflick the war in Afghanistan is and has been

4) How badly planned the Iraq war has been and is

5) How badly planned (or unplanned) the Afghanistan war is and has been

6) How large a deficit the United States already has

7) How badly our current American government is spending money

8) How corrupt our current American government is and has been

9) How incompetent and ineffective our current American government is and has been

10) How badly damaged the American economy is, largely due to the lack of regulation of the banking industry by this administration and its Republican Party

11) How badly damaged the world economies are, again, due largely to the collateral damage set upon the world from the deregulation of the banking and other industries by this administration and its Republican Party

and more, the question rears its obvious, ugly and ominous head:

How can you come to any other conclusion but that this current 7+ year old Presidential Administration of George W. Bush is the most corrupt, incompetent, ineffective and most exposed to graft and cronyism in the entire history of this same country?

In short, how can you not say that this administration of George W. Bush is the worst, literally, worst administration ever, in the history of the United States?

Ulysses Grant and Warren G. Harding or any other president no longer share this title.

Wost. President. Ever.

If you ever voted for George W. Bush, we blame you.

And we're pissed.

Theft of the 2008 Election Part 1

Who's in charge here?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More magnificent irony

Yes, more magnificent irony for America, Republicans and, really, the world.

Deregulation of the banking and financial markets was supposed to be this magnificent, brilliant, liberating, stimulating idea for virtually everyone and everything. It was supposed to bring on nothing but good financial times and rising economic futures for everyone--the rich, Wall Street, the poor, the Middle Class, corporations, the little guy, everyone.

Ayn Rand, anyone?

But, lo and behold, the deregulation of the largest economy in the world, the United States, has wreaked havoc on the country and, now we've found out, the world.

The first big irony is that it's been the conservatives, Republicans, fat-cats, corporations and wealthy of the US who thought this deregulation would be not only a good idea but, indeed, a boon to our economy and the world.

There was supposed to be virtually no one this deregulation idea wouldn't benefit.

"Leave the corporations alone and the money will rain down from heaven," seems to have been the idea.

Well, when you leave greedy people alone in a room with money, they'll end up stealing it every time.

So the people hawking these ideas were also supposed to be the free market capitalists, of course. That just makes sense.

The worst thing these people could imagine for ANYONE, anywhere in the world was the evil Socialism or, worst yet, Communism.

The big, final irony now?

All that "free market", deregulation has brought us to the brink of a world bankruptcy with, so far, no end in sight.

Adding to that? (Yeah, we can).

Not only are we going back to regulation, as we ought, with all the countries in the world right now, with economies collapsing (and everyone is, rightfully, it seems, blaming the United States for the cluster mess), we're apparently going to have to join together with all the other world economies and regulate ALL markets, world-wide.

All of them.

We're all interconnected, so we're finding out, and if one is a stinker, it has ramifications for all of us.

To repeat, for clarification and effect:

Republicans, free-marketeers, corporations and conservatives wanted deregulation;

The deregulation has led to our collapse--all of us--in the entire US and the world;

We're now going to have to re-institute regulation, in the US;

We're going to have to institute world-wide, shared regulation--and rules--so everyone can be kept honest;

All the deregualtion brought on this collapse, which is, in turn, requiring Socialism, really, here in the US and 'round the world.

If that's not the most delicious, all-consuming irony, I don't know what is.

Thank you Republicans, Conservatives, Corporations, free-market supporters and your ilk.

For nothing.

___________________________________________
For a glimpse of what's going on right now, worldwide, with all the financial systems, go to this link:

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/10/economic-crisis-around-globe-continues.html

Friday, October 24, 2008

OMG


Once you go Barack...

Playing for Change


Peace through music

2 Right Wing Wacko Stories

Right this moment, there are, literally, 2 Right Wing Wacko Stories out.

In the first, Representative (of all people) Michelle Bachman has put out a very public apology to Senator Obama for "her televised comments calling Barack Obama anti-American, according to a Republican source familiar with her campaign’s decision."

link here: http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081024/pl_politico/24576

Seems Ms. Bachman opened her mouth and put it right in.

At least this Right Wing Republican has the courage and decency to what ought to be done--apologize--unlike too many of her brethren, including Senator McCain and Governor Palin. They fling the accusations out there and not only don't apologize, they keep 'em coming.

And the other story right now, from the Really Really Far Right Wing is about a young woman of dubious mental stability (I mean that seriously and earnestly, not sarcastically) who turned in a now proven false story about being "attacked by a 6-foot-4 black man Wednesday night..." for money, at a bank's ATM.

Hmmm.

Strange thread here, isn't there?

What's nice is that Senator Obama is "off the campaign trail" right now, seeing the gravely ill grandmother in Hawaii who raised him. My original concern was that the McCain camp might try to do some serious damage to Senator Obama's campaign by some shenanigans of some kind.

Instead, it seems the Right Wing Wackos are just self-destructing, all by themselves.

Finally, an aside, before we go, as if the above isn't enough, Sarah Palin is quoted as saying--and I'm not making this up--she would have named her next child "Zamboni", if she'd have had another. She said she always wanted to name a child Zamboni.

If the economy just keeps gettin' worse, this stuff just keeps gettin' better.

Have a good weekend, y'all.

The Campaign of (H)opie

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Monday, October 20, 2008

The way it oughta be... (right?)

Are we, as a country, never going to allow a downturn in our economy again?

That's the question.

Are we never going to allow a downturn in our American economy again, no matter the cost?

There is word out right now, on the wires, that both President Bush and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are both quoted, saying they'd be for another "stimulus package" for the American people, to push forward the economy.
(Link to story here:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081020/ap_on_bi_ge/financial_meltdown)

Holy cow.

You gotta be kidding me.

Let's get this straight.

We already had the largest debt, ever, in the history of the country, going into this year, thanks to this President and his direction (I can't call it leadership).

Then the nation's banks start tanking and we come up with, oh, what was it? 700 billion dollars to bail out the banks (that actually may end up already being a trillion dollars or thereabouts).

That boosted our debt even larger and deeper by a fewfold.

And now, like they're running for office themselves, George and Ben want to spit out more money to us so we can go spending.

They want to make it at least as large as the last boost we gave ourselves so it would be in the range of 168 million dollars.

But wait. There's more.

Some economists are saying it should be twice that size.

Talk about short-term, shortsighted vision.

The one who started this talk was Barack Obama and he's running for office.

Now, I'm an Obama supporter but this part of his platform never got my support. I thought it was just panerding to win votes. It is short-sighted and would only have a very brief benefit to the economy and country.

Then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chimed in, saying she'd support it. I thought that was purely to help her friend and fellow Democrat Obama. I thought it would go away.

Now this.

So it gets me back to my original question.

Do we not have any patience or allowance any more for a downturn in the economy?

Do we not realize that there are business cycles that have to be gone through?

You know, the old "Chauncey Gardner" statements from the movie "Being There" about there needing to be a dying season, in order to create the space for new growth.

I don't think we get it.

We all know we'll have to borrow--yes, borrow--this money, only to loan it back to ourselves.

And we'll probably have to borrow it from the Chinese, of whom we have no fondness, other than their propping up our economy.


Am I the only one who thinks this is blatantly stupid?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Barack Obama here in Kansas City


I just shot this, this evening at the Barack Obama rally here in Kansas City. It was a great turnout. We know there were 100,000 people who gathered in St. Louis this morning for him. We hope to find out tomorrow that as many or nearly that many were there tonight. There was great energy in it all. It was a fairly brief speech but that was okay. We only just wanted to be there, all of us, and hear him speak.

This lady was very nice, and very nice to let me take her picture. She said she was, as the sign says, a "Latina Mama for Obama", literally. She also wanted to be sure I knew that the t-shirt she was wearing had been her husband's. He had very recently died, she said, so she wanted to be sure to wear it for him and his memory. I got the strong sense she felt he was there, with her, because of it and their time together, I'm sure.

On to November!
Posted by Picasa

It's the weekend--let's lighten up

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Here's a real hoot

Okay, so it's projected that, even if, God forbid, we didn't win the White House this Fall, we Democrats are, it seems, absolutely supposed to be taking over the House and Senate.

Glory Hallelujah!

Sure, we're happy but we really have to keep our representative's "feet to the fire", as the saying goes and we all know.

There's a story out right now, showing that the big money from Big Pharmaceuticals is already flowing more to Democrats than Republicans. (Link to full story here:
http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2008/10/drug-industry-dough-shifting-t.html).

What's really sick is that this information shows that, while it's flowing to Dems now--about 51% to Dems vs. 49% to Repub's--when the Repub's were in charge, it was 2 to 1 for them. It just goes to show you who they think they'll really get the most for their lobbying/bribing dollar from. With Republicans in charge, Corporate America knows it gets much more of what they want with them. Sure, there's still representatives they can buy with Democrats but they aren't as blatant about it. There's some things even a Democrat can't be bought for--so far.

We've just really got to push for reform.

And keep pushing.

One of the first things that should happen, for instance, is that the government should repeal what this President and Congress got and that is, making it illegal for our own government to negotiate lower drug and pharmaceutical costs for us, the American People.

Did you know about that? Unbelievable, really. They passed it some time ago, fairly quietly. Seems the media didn't make a big deal out of it and neither did the American public.

How stupid.

This should never have been allowed.

"Let's just let 'em take us right to the poor house! We don't need affordable medicine in this country! Their huge profits are far more important!"

What's amazing is that, usually, a small donation of from between $5,000.00 to $50,000.00 in contributions to different representatives can gain them multi-million dollar tax benefits.

It's gotta stop.

We have to keep saying "enough", again and again, until we change this government so it works for us again, instead of for Corporate America--and internationals.

Whatever you want to say about Ralph Nader, if you've read him over the years, he's right. Corporate America is now and has been for years, in charge of this country.

We need to take the money--the big money--out of government, away from lobbyists and our representatives and out of our elections. We need to shorten our election time so it's more like the English system. It'll take time but it's what we need to do.

It's time.

Mr. "Big Oil" President, George W. Bush, et. al

Whistleblower: Oil watchdog agency 'cult of corruption' (from CNN news, just now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) -- Bobby Maxwell kept a close eye on the oil industry for more than 20 years as a government auditor. But he said the federal agency he worked for is now a "cult of corruption" -- a claim backed up by a recent government report.

Bobby Maxwell, a long-time auditor of the oil industry, says his former agency is corrupt "top to bottom."

"I believe the management we were under was showing favoritism to the oil industry," Maxwell told CNN.

Maxwell is referring to a tiny agency within the Department of the Interior called the Minerals Management Service, which manages the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on federal lands.

A report, conducted by the Interior Department's inspector general and released earlier this month, found that employees at the agency received improper gifts from energy industry officials and engaged with them in illegal drug use and inappropriate sexual relations. It looked at activities at the agency from 2003 through 2006.

Maxwell said the report doesn't surprise him. The agency, he said, is corrupt "top to bottom." Watch a failure to "protect America's interests" »

"It sounds like they forgot they work for the government," he said. "It's disgusting. ... There's no excuse for that. Those people should not be working in those positions at all.

"They crossed a lot of lines that should never have been crossed," he said. "They lost all objectivity."

Maxwell was in charge of keeping track of the millions in royalty payments owed taxpayers by oil and gas companies who explored and found oil on U.S. government lands.

He estimates he and his team were responsible for saving the government close to $500million in royalties, either underpaid or somehow skipped by oil and gas companies, over the years.

He received the Interior Department's highest award in 2003 for his work. But not long afterward, his job was killed.

He believes it was retribution for his cracking down on Big Oil and blowing the whistle on what he believes was a "cult of corruption" within the agency. The Interior Department denies that, saying his job was reorganized as part of routine restructuring.

Just before he lost his job, he said, one of his superiors in Washington ordered him not to investigate why Shell Oil had raised its oil transportation costs. Maxwell said it jumped from 90 cents to $3 a barrel without adequate explanation. The government paid Shell to transport oil from offshore platforms.

When asked why a government worker would tell an auditor not to investigate, he said: "I believe it started from the top down," he said.

Shell Oil told CNN it "pays the same rate any shipper does" and that it has "never engaged in fraudulent transactions or entered into sham contracts as Mr. Maxwell alleges."

Maxwell, a registered independent, said the shift in attitude at the agency began about seven or eight years ago, about the time the Bush administration came into power. He said he was discouraged from aggressively auditing oil companies.

"Laws and regulations were not applied, also not enforced," he said.

The inspector general's 27-page summary says that nearly a third of the roughly 60 people in Maxwell's former office received gifts and gratuities from oil industry executives.

Two received improper, if not illegal, gifts at least 135 times, the report says. It goes on to describe a wild atmosphere in which some staff members admitted using cocaine and marijuana.

In addition, two female workers at the Minerals Management Service were known as the "MMS chicks" and both told investigators they had sex with oil industry officials they were supposed to be auditing.

One e-mail from a pipeline company representative invited government workers to a tailgating party: "Have you and the girls meet at my place at 6 a.m. for bubble baths and final prep ... Just kidding."

Inspector General Earl Devaney said in a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne accompanying the report that it details "a textbook example of improperly receiving gifts from prohibited sources."

Maxwell is now retired from the government and teaches at the University of Hawaii. He said it was just a matter of time until the agency's behavior was exposed. He feels vindicated now in the wake of the inspector general's report, but is still disgusted by what he was happening at the Minerals Management Service.

"Their job is to protect United States taxpayers' interest. It's like they completely forgot that, like they just became part of the oil companies," he said.

The Interior Department said it could not comment on Maxwell's specific allegations or removal, saying his former supervisor no longer works for the Interior Department either.

Kempthorne said he was "outraged" by the disclosures in the inspector general's report and that the actions "of a few has cast a shadow on the entire agency."

But the department said there is no evidence taxpayers lost money as a result of unethical behavior between government workers and the oil and gas industry.

Maxwell doubts that.

The former auditor said he'd love to put all the government royalty records under his magnifying glass.

"I think the government should be transparent. We are for the people, by the people. This is the government. We're here to serve," he said.

Maxwell has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the Kerr-McGee Corp., an energy company involved in oil and gas exploration. In it, he claims the company defrauded taxpayers out of millions in oil royalty payments.

The company denies the accusation. If Maxwell wins, the government would recieve about $40 million in additonal revenue and Maxwell would be entitled to about a third of that.
____________________________________________

I quit putting articles out here I didn't myself write, until this one, today. I couldn't say this any better, or more completely.

It all disgusts me so thoroughly, all I can do is tell everyone I can, all I can about this thoroughly corrupt, self-serving, greedy President, George W. Bush, his administration, his family members, friends and colleagues.

They repulse me.

It's important that we not be so numbed by the corruption and illegality of this administration that we are not shocked by what they've done and what they're still doing. If we are numbed, they win more completely. We have to better and stronger than that, frankly.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We'd have loved to have been wrong

In 2000, there were a great deal of us who were concerned about having George Walker Bush as our President--at all, let alone for 8 full, inglorious years.

And while the same is true of Ronald Reagan, at least with him we survived and he didn't totally ruin the country. Sure, his administration did things that were illegal and unconstitutional, too, like George has done and is doing, but even he didn't have the cajones and outright, outrageous ignorance to take his administration and our country too far.

Then came George.

Before Molly Ivins died, God bless and rest her soul, she warned us what kind of spoiled child/dolt we were dealing with here.

And the family, too--she warned us about them, as did Kevin Phillips.

But now, here we are, at the end of George's 2 crime- and cronyism- and incompetence-ridden terms and the only things we can say are that 1) we'd have loved to have been wrong about him (that he really wasn't that stupid and/or irresponsible) and 2) I told you so.

The only satisfaction and vindication about having suffered this fool for 8 years is that now, the chickens have come home to roost, so to speak.

To wit:

Time Magazine recently ran an article, summarizing this President's tenure and resultant effects on the country. I will only give two paragraphs of the full article (which, as a matter of fact, isn't even all about George, he's incidental):

"It now seems clear that George W. Bush will be remembered for symmetrical disasters. His presidency began with the destruction of the Twin Towers by al-Qaeda terrorists. It is ending with the devastation of the Twin Trillions — the money spent on a foolish war in Iraq ($653 billion and counting) and on the bailout of a financial industry gone hog wild during the Reagan-initiated Era of Deregulation. Bush has revived Big Government in the worst possible way: the middle class will pay, in perpetuity, for the sins of the powerful."

More:

"It is hard to put a smiley face on this stinker. A crash — and this one seems a doozy — usually announces the arrival of hard times. The real economic woe is yet to come, as credit dries up and the economy slips into recession. The power of the next President seems destined to be severely constrained by huge debts and diminishing tax receipts — unless he finds some creative ways out of the morass ..."

(A link to the full article is here:
http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1844157,00.html)

So I come back to a question I've posted before and asked many times:

Can someone please tell me what was ever conservative about George W. Bush?

--His administration reached government further into American's personal lives than any other in the history of our nation.

--He spent more money than any other President, again, in the history of this country.

--He used our military, against our Constitution and international law, to go into another country, preemptorily, unilaterally and without cause, to attack them and oust their leader, however much a tyrant he was.

--He has now taken nearly one trillion dollars of this country's tax money--our money--and given it to private business because unregulated banks manipulated us into a nightmare economic scenario.

and so much more.

I repeat: WHAT WAS, EVER, CONSERVATIVE, ABOUT GEORGE WALKER BUSH?

As a last mention: I will also say again, if you voted for George W. Bush, even once, let alone--God forbid--twice, WE BLAME YOU.

I'm not kidding on that last part.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wanna know what's going on and how we got there?

Here's a great quote, to tell you where we are and how we got here on this crazy Friday:

"The crisis was caused by the largest leveraged asset bubble and credit bubble in the history of humanity where excessive leveraging and bubbles were not limited to housing in the US but also to housing in many other countries and excessive borrowing by financial institutions and some segments of the corporate sector and of the public sector in many and different economies: a housing bubble, a mortgage bubble, an equity bubble, a bond bubble, a credit bubble, a commodity bubble, a private equity bubble, a hedge funds bubble are all now bursting at once in the biggest real sector and financial sector deleveraging since the Great Depression.

And in a world where there is a glut and excess capacity of goods while aggregate demand is falling soon enough we will start to worry about deflation, debt deflation, liquidity traps and what monetary policy makers should do to fight deflation when policy rates get dangerously close to zero."

And now for where we're going, from the same article/blog:

"The US and advanced economies’ financial system is now headed towards a near-term systemic financial meltdown as day after day stock markets are in free fall, money markets have shut down while their spreads are skyrocketing, and credit spreads are surging through the roof. There is now the beginning of a generalized run on the banking system of these economies; a collapse of the shadow banking system, i.e. those non-banks (broker dealers, non-bank mortgage lenders, SIV and conduits, hedge funds, money market funds, private equity firms) that, like banks, borrow short and liquid, are highly leveraged and lend and invest long and illiquid and are thus at risk of a run on their short-term liabilities; and now a roll-off of the short term liabilities of the corporate sectors that may lead to widespread bankruptcies of solvent but illiquid financial and non-financial firms."

Thank God we have someone so capable as George Walker Bush at the helm of our state, right?

Happy Black Friday, everyone! We'll get through this. We have to.


Link to source of above quotes:
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/10/roubini-discusses-double-ds-deflation.html

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Finally, proof positive

Okay, sure the world is going to hell in a handbasket monetarily and in all ways financial but, as a side note, I have to point out that, right now, there's a CNN report showing the White House has totally lost its collective mind.

The Patriot Act?

You patriots thought that was just to keep watch on the terrorists and possible terrorists out there, right?

Well, buckos, every left-wing liberal who said we were selling the Constitution down the river is now officially correct.

Check this out:

"Congress is looking into allegations that National Security Agency linguists have been eavesdropping on Americans abroad."

Ain't that sweet?

"A terrorist surveillance program instituted by the Bush administration allows the intelligence community to monitor phone calls between the United States and overseas without a court order -- as long as one party to the call is a terror suspect."

"'Adrienne Kinne, a former U.S. Army Reserves Arab linguist, told ABC News the NSA was listening to the phone calls of U.S. military officers, journalists and aid workers overseas who were talking about "personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism."

You owe it to yourself and, really, no exaggeration, to your country, to read the full article. (See link below). It will make you nauseous but it's very important to know.

Right in the middle of our world falling apart, we find that our own government doesn't even trust the American Soldiers who've volunteered to fight and possibly die for our country in a wrong war--one we we were all lied into.

Could there possibly be more insanity in the world?

Don't answer that.

I know the answer is yes.

Good God. Proof positive this White House, this President, this Vice President and this entire administration has no regard for right, wrong, good, evil, loyal and faithful American Soldiers, anyone or anything.

They can't distinguish between good or evil so everyone is suspect--even the people fighting and dying for us.

I say again, I don't even recognize my own country.



The full article here:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/10/09/spying.on.americans/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

Even Rednecks Love Obama!

I just caught these guys from Yahoo! See more about them--they're for real--at http://www.rednecks4obama.com.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Good question

From Interest Rate Roundup Blog by Mike Larson, yesterday, as Fed Chairman Bernanke spoke:

"If loaning Treasuries and cash against hundreds of billions of dollars in lousy commercial and residential mortgage securities and other paper hasn't worked ... if agreeing to buy an unlimited amount of commercial paper hasn't done much ... if lending tens of billion of dollars to AIG hasn't stopped the market from worrying about the health of other insurers ... and if cutting the funds rate ALREADY -- from 5.25% to 2% -- hasn't worked, you have to wonder what cutting the funds rate even further toward zero would accomplish."

Read the full entry here:

http://interestrateroundup.blogspot.com/2008/10/bernanke-speech-focuses-on-economic.html

What, exactly, is going to turn things around, if anything? What will calm the world's markets?

Who knows? All we can do is stay tuned--and hope.
___________________________________________________
To end today, a riddle:

What do the international economies and Senator John McCain have in common?

Answer:

They're both tanking. (One's bad.)

Three requests, some appreciation and a hope

Three simple requests, right off the bat;

1) Could we now make Hedge Funds of any sort illegal as soon as the rest of this financial crisis is cleaned up? They are huge, unregulated and dangerous to the US and world economies.

Hedge Funds, defined, from Wikipedia:

A hedge fund is a private investment fund open to a limited range of investors which is permitted by regulators to undertake a wider range of activities than other investment funds and which pays a performance fee to its investment manager. Although each fund will have its own strategy which determines the type of investments and the methods of investment it undertakes, hedge funds as a class invest in a broad range of investments, from shares, debt and commodities to works of art.

As the name implies, hedge funds often seek to offset potential losses in the principal markets they invest in by hedging their investments using a variety of methods, most notably short selling. However, the term "hedge fund" has come to be applied to many funds that do not actually hedge their investments, and in particular to funds using short selling and other "hedging" methods to increase rather than reduce risk, with the expectation of increasing return.

Hedge funds are typically open only to a limited range of professional or wealthy investors. This provides them with an exemption in many jurisdictions from regulations governing short selling, derivative contracts, leverage, fee structures and the liquidity of investments in the fund. A hedge fund will nevertheless voluntarily limit the scope of its activities via its contractual arrangements with its investors, in order to give the investors some certainty over what they are investing into.

The assets under management of a hedge fund can run into many billions of dollars, and this will usually be multiplied by leverage, meaning that their influence over markets is substantial. Hedge funds dominate certain specialty markets such as trading within derivatives with high-yield ratings and distressed debt.

(see the complete definition here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedge_funds)

Another word for Hedge Funds would be "highly profitable deck of cards for the ultra-wealthy", frankly.

2) Next could we make "credit swaps" illegal now and go back to having only regulated, financed insurance coverage, the way things ought to be?

Credit swaps are what companies used instead of using out and out insurance because--guess what?--insurance is regulated. These "credit swaps" were ridiculously profitable because they were grossly underfunded. So when times are good, the money rolled in fast and loose. When times are bad--now, of course--everyone's credit swaps collapse, causing everyone else's credit swaps to collapse, hence the global problem. One more facet of insanity to be dealt with, as financial ministers 'round the world try to fix the problems.

3) Could we regulate the trade of energy and oil markets again so there aren't people and organizations speculating--gambling, really--on the rise of these commodities?

Speculation on these markets virtually guarantees they'll go up and the entire world suffers--the poor, middle class, businesses, hell, even the wealthy pay what they ahouldn't have to (not that I'm suddenly an advocate for the wealthy, mind you, let me be clear).

We regulated them for 78 years, until 2000, thanks to the Enron clowns. Going back to it is the only sane thing to do, for all concerned--except greedhead speculators.

Next, I'd like to give a very public (but likely little-noticed) "thank you" to any and every government and private official, anywhere, who is trying to help avoid a collapse of any and every financial market, anywhere in the world.

There are a great deal of people working very hard right now--and they have been for some time and will continue to be, into the foreseeable future--and I, for one, am extremely grateful.

I wish it weren't necessary, of course.

These people wouldn't have to be working so feverishly now, if there had been far more regulatory oversight all along, the last decade. The world would be much more sane and safe now.

The only drawback is that there would be one small group of people--a small group of very wealthy investors--who would have less millions in dollars now. They'd still be millionaires or billionaires but they wouldn't have quite so much, overall.

Finally, hope that, for all of us, everywhere on the planet, that all these people are successful in their work, on all our behalf, on all these economies.

Heaven help us if they're not.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Don't look here for your "warm and fuzzies" (read: reassurance)

More irony from the new land of Socalism, on top of our Fascism:

So the Europeans met this weekend, to deal with their problems of tight credit and guess what? Their land of Socialism thinks it's a bad idea to throw billions of dollars at their financial institutions, to shore up the problems.

So here we have the United States of America, home to Capitalism with a capital C, and our love of and preference for what we like to call and be "free markets" and which area throws three quarters of a trillion dollars at the problem--the US or Socialistic Europe?

Why, the United States, of course.

That "free market" stuff? We only mean that when things are going well.

Like it's been said, on the way up--in the good time--we're all "small government" and unregulated markets.

If it tanks?

Oh, yeah, then we're all for big government. THEN we want Uncle Sam to step in.

It all makes sense.

We gotta keep those wealthy people happy, right?

(While yer at it, throw in $140 more billion in tax deductions for these other areas, too, okay Senator?)

But the grossest insanity and hypocrisy and irony of all this is that now, the very people who created this mess--the banks themselves--and the people who helped create this mess--the Republican Party and, specifically, the current Presidenial Administration--are the very people we are entrusting to take this boondoggle of money and fix the problem.

Think about that. It's incredible.

The very people who HATE government and have made that clear are the ones we've given nearly a trillion dollars to, to clean up the very mess they themselves made.

It's like giving an alcoholic more alcohol to help him quit drinking.

Does this sound like a good idea to anyone?

All this on top of the facts that we are in completely new financial/economic territory where we aren't even sure what the rules are. Economists aren't even sure what is up and what is down.

What makes anyone think politicians, armed with billions of our tax dollars can straighten this mess out--quickly, as we need, or even slowly?

This bailout is going to make Hurricane Katrina look like a national picnic, instead of the travesty it was--and still is.

And, like "heckuva job" Brownie, regarding Katrina and Don Rumsfeld concerning Iraq and rendition and torture, and so many people in this administration, "W" is going to just walk away.

I don't recognize this country any longer.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mr. "Man of the People"

Did you hear this?

Did you hear John McCain is selling one of his 7 (or is it 8? or 9? or 10?) houese?

Yeah, he is.

This one?



13 bedrooms.

Yeah.

Thirteen.

No kidding.

Garages? Sure. But how many?

7

Seven cars and seven car slots.



Oh, yeah. John McCain. He's a real "Man of the People."

He's just like you and me.

He's totally in touch.

He's just like you and me.



Yeah, right.

Like the Republican Party.

Friday, October 3, 2008

2 kinds of people

There are a new "2 kinds of people in the world" today.

There are the people who realize that the United State's "best days" are behind them.


And there are the people who deny reality.

Forethought, anyone?

All right, now we have our big solution passed.

Congress passed this 700 billion dollar boondoggle to bail out Wall Street and bankers and the big bank houses and set the world right, after 2 weeks of screaming about the sky falling. (See yesterday's entry).

Now what?

And see? That's the problem.

We focused for 2 weeks, our government did--and they tried to get us to do the same thing--on how bad the economy is/was and how we needed to give them this three-quarters of a trillion dollars. Now that they've added some trinkets for themselves and their friends, it's okay to go.

The question now is, has anyone thought about what all this debt will mean for us? H

We already have a ton of debt, thanks to out horrible spending of the last 8 years. Then we've added this little lump on top of that.

Has anyone thought ahead to what all this debt is going to do to us and our budgets and spending?

I'm sure Hank Paulson has, to an extent. And economists.

It's going to keep us from spending big time.

Universal health care?

Don't make me laugh. Ain't gonna happen.

It's been suggested again and again over time that the core cabal of Republicans have wanted this very thing to happen so they can rid the country of things like Social Security, "entitlements", universal health care and the like.

And who can disagree with that? That's exactly what it looks like, true or no.

Naomi Klein agrees and says so in her latest book.

And the biggest benefit? In the meantime, they gave all kinds of gifts in the form of money--millions, billions and trillions--to friends and corporations.

"EVERYONE REMAIN CALM!!!"

You know what kills me?

For the last 2 weeks, first from "Hank" Paulson, then the White House and always from Wall Street, we've heard nothing but that, basically, we're all going to hell in a handbasket and/but "if you give us this 700 billion dollars, real fast and no questions asked, we'll be okay. But if you don't, it's going to be horrible," in a nutshell.

So they pushed through a nightmare bill and it died. Since Wall Street didn't get it's Christmas package, it got pissed off and slashed 777 points off the Dow. "We'll show you!", right?

So now, after all the threats, here we go. It looks like the House of Representatives is going to buckle and give them all this money. Sure, they put in a few little concessions--and millions of dollars of treats in the form of yet more earmarks for themselves and their friends--and they're going to get their boondoggle bailout.

Really, who can tell if this is really necessary or if this is the best way to do this? Sure, it seems we need more liquidity in the credit markets but is this the path to take? No one in power seems to be asking this or any other questions (thought we certainly hope they are, of course, and not just "what's in it for me?").

With all that going on, what we're just about to hear, then, out of Washington and from everyone who has their hands on this bill is that "There, that ought to do it." Tomorrow, once this is passed, we're going to hear everyone in Washington and government say "Okay, it's all better now. Be calm. Go back about your business. Spend money. Procreate. Do what it is you do."

Mark my words.

Again, for the past 2 weeks, we've heard nothing but how things are going straight to hell, with only a little exaggeration here, but tomorrow, once this passes, they're going to insist everything's fine and that we should all calm down.

Are you kidding me?

They've done nothing--from the President to Paulson to other government officials--but scream about everything but a 2nd Great Depression (after all, they don't wanna panic us), and all of a sudden it's going to be "okay, it's all fixed."

My point?

This whole thing has been so badly managed and mismanaged, once again, by this Bush Administration that it's almost giving the American people whiplash in it's messages.

The American people have been going about their business, going to work, paying taxes, etc., while people are almost talking about financial endtimes and then it'll be all "calm down", "take it easy".

While irresponsiblity and ineptitude has just been considered the norm for this group in the White House, it seems to me they've outdone themselves this time--this one, last time, before the Knucklehead is out of office next January.

This is just no way to run a government and country.

If you EVER voted for George W. Bush, even once, WE BLAME YOU.