Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Central Bank Doing What It Should

The article closes with:

In the short run, Mr. Draghi has avoided disaster. In the longer run, it is hard to see a course that enables the peripheral countries to regain prosperity and competitiveness while keeping the single currency.

You just knew that they had to do something - they weren't going to let it end (the Euro) in a giant mess (although it probably still should and will - as he points out above). So we basically have a repeat of what the Fed did in America. But the Europeans named the banks at least - it didn't take three years and a FOIA request by Bloomberg to find it out. And there will be more lent no doubt...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

“Who gives a crap about some imbecile?”

Yeah, this kind of attitude and PR are really going to help your case:

If successful businesspeople don’t go public to share their stories and talk about their troubles, “they deserve what they’re going to get,” said Marcus, 82, a founding member of Job Creators Alliance, a Dallas-based nonprofit that develops talking points and op-ed pieces aimed at “shaping the national agenda,” according to the group’s website. He said he isn’t worried that speaking out might make him a target of protesters.

“Who gives a crap about some imbecile?” Marcus said. “Are you kidding me?”

How about a boycott of the Home Depot? (Marcus is one of the co-founders). I wonder if any of his customers are so-called "imbeciles"?

What kills me is that these people rail and rail about their taxes as if they couldn't possibly pay more, when historically taxes on income at these levels is at an all time low. Just give us all a break already.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

All hail AMERICA!!!

Next time some flag waving neanderthal is berating you with chants of "USA, USA" pull up this link:

(AP) WASHINGTON - Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"it does nothing to address the underlying problems"

Hard to justify today as more than an oversold bounce. The markets are looking for anything, and this was an excuse:

Finally, note that while this move can ease financial market conditions, it does nothing to address the underlying problems creating those conditions. So this is no substitute for the difficult decisions that Europe must make to overcome its troubles.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ten days left for the Euro?

Lots of optimism out there - not:

The Euro Area Is Coming to an End: Peter Boone and Simon Johnson

The eurozone really has only days to avoid collapse that includes this:

Italy’s disastrous bond auction on Friday tells us time is running out. The eurozone has 10 days at most.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It isn't too complicated

Mysterious Europe

What I have never understood, and still don’t understand, is how European leaders think this is going to work out. What’s the plan? Or lacking a plan, what’s the story with a happy ending?

As I see it, the underlying eurozone story is pretty clear and simple. After the creation of the euro, investors developed a false sense of security about lending to peripheral economies; this led to large capital flows from the core to the periphery, and corresponding current account imbalances:

These capital inflows also caused a boom in the periphery that raised costs and prices dramatically compared with the core:

Now all of that has to be unwound. So how is that supposed to happen?

It seems obvious that spending cuts in the periphery have to be offset by spending increases in the core, and also that a way has to be found to make the required real depreciation in the periphery feasible. But eurozone policy is for austerity everywhere, and a low inflation target for the area as a whole, which means crippling deflation in the periphery.

So where is the story about how this is supposed to work?

As far as I can tell, European policy makers aren’t even thinking about scenarios. They’re just repeating the old slogans about stable prices and fiscal responsibility, with no narrative at all about how pursuing those virtues can be consistent with European recovery.

Even a few months ago I regarded a complete euro crackup as highly implausible. Now I’m having trouble finding a plausible story about how the thing survives.

In other news, Jean-Claude Trichet is the new chairman of the Group of 30. My congratulations. True, I have said some harsh things about his policies — but as Tessio said, it was only business.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just as an aside

This is part of the problem (as far as hot the problem is reported/perceived) - perception:

Despite its desperate circumstances, however, Lewis shared a wonderful story about how Vallejo's fire chief is moving heaven and earth to do more with less. As a result of seeing that resourceful and inspiring work, Lewis "has a hard time getting depressed about our country," though he admits that he "doesn't have a hard time getting depressed about Greece."

Michael Lewis is a smart guy, and a great writer, obviously. But why the difference between the US and Greek views? Left alone, Greece will do fine - or good enough for the Greeks, as it did for the last couple of thousand years. There are 11 million people in Greece - California is more than three times that at 36,961,664. This "crisis" now in Europe is a problem made of the global banking system and the Euro governments. Let them (the individual countries) clean it up, give them their sovereign currencies back, and we'll all be fine - eventually. Greece is not different that different from California (except for being smaller) - Americans just don't speak the language.

Markets Tumble as Greece Sets Referendum on Latest Europe Aid Deal

Wow. So the global game of financial chicken continues to be played. At first blush this sounds like a crazy idea by Papandreou but I know enough to know that I don't know anything about the internals of Greek politics. The worst part about it is at least two more months of kicking the can down the road (at the least).

ATHENS — In a surprise move that jolted Europe and put his political future in play, Prime Minister George A. Papandreou announced late Monday that his government would hold a referendum on a new aid package for Greece, putting austerity measures — and potentially membership in the euro zone — to a popular vote for the first time.

The announcement sent tremors through Europe’s markets on Tuesday, with bank stocks taking a particular hammering. French and German indexes were down by more than 3 percent while, in Britain, which is not a member of the euro zone but trades heavily with continental Europe — the FTSE 100 index was down by 2.5 percent.

Mr. Papandreou’s surprise promise of a vote on the austerity package introduced a note of uncertainty in what had seemed to be a done deal, threatening a comprehensive agreement reached by European leaders last week to shore up the euro zone. A rejection by the voters would also be likely to be treated as a vote of no confidence in the government and lead to early elections.

The anxiety stirred up by those fears hammered United States financial markets on Monday, showing once again how the domestic politics of even the smallest members of the European Union can create troubles that not only threaten the currency but reverberate around the globe.

Addressing lawmakers on Monday evening, Mr. Papandreou said the decision on whether to adopt the deal, which includes fresh financial assistance, debt relief and deeply unpopular austerity measures, properly belonged to the Greek people.

“Let us allow the people to have the last word, let them decide on the country’s fate,” he said.

It was unclear how the referendum would be worded, but Mr. Papandreou said it would be a vote on whether or not Greeks supported the debt deal and the program of austerity measures in exchange for foreign aid.

The stakes are extremely high. A no vote could break the deal between Greece and its so-called troika of foreign lenders — the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — which have demanded structural changes and austerity measures in exchange for aid.

Without the aid, Greece would not be able to meet its expenses and would default on its debt, sending shock waves through the euro zone and the world economy.

A yes vote, on the other hand, would move the package forward, effectively shifting responsibility for the nation’s painful economic choices from Mr. Papandreou’s Socialist Party onto the public. That outcome would help Mr. Papandreou shore up his political fortunes and avoid the instability of early elections.

The center-right opposition has opposed the bulk of the austerity program, and the prime minister’s popular support has dwindled as Greeks have been hit by a seemingly endless series of tax increases and wage and pension cuts. On Sunday, the center-left newspaper To Vima reported that a majority of Greeks viewed the deal negatively.

At a time when Mr. Papandreou is under intense political and social pressure, including from members of his own Socialist Party, the move was seen as the last card he could play.

It also appeared to give the Greek government a bit more leverage in negotiations with Europe. The terms of the deal, in which banks have been asked to voluntarily take a 50 percent write-down on Greek debt, have not been finalized and must still be accepted by the banks. Putting the package up for a vote, with the distinct possibility of rejection, could induce banks to agree to the deal rather than face greater losses if Greece defaults.

“It’s not motivated by the intention of some sort of brinkmanship with Europe, but it may have this sort of positive or negative effect,” said George Pagoulatos, a professor of European politics and economy at Athens University of Economics and Business. “It raises the stakes. It’s about, ‘Will we remain in the euro with a lower public debt, or will we lose everything that we will achieve?’ ”

Mr. Papandreou also said that he would seek a parliamentary vote of confidence in his administration, just four months after winning a similar vote before pushing an earlier batch of austerity measures into law. The vote of confidence is expected to be held on Friday, and he is expected to squeak by with his narrow three-vote majority in Parliament.

The referendum will probably be held in January, government officials said, essentially buying the government time while the details of the deal are hammered out.

Addressing lawmakers on Monday evening, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos framed the debate as one of Greece’s staying in the euro zone, the group of 17 European Union countries that use the euro, or not. “It’s for the people to decide to stay in Europe or go back to the drachma,” he said.

While the austerity measures have proved incendiary for much of the public, setting off widespread strikes sometimes accompanied by episodes of street violence, being part of the euro zone generally meets with high approval.

Takis Michas, a political analyst with Forum for Greece, an Athens research institute, said posing the question this way was “a master stroke on behalf of Papandreou in the sense it is forcing the various parties to take a very responsible position.”

“If he succeeds in framing the issue as being one of remaining in the euro zone, obviously he is going to get a huge yes,” Mr. Michas added. “But it depends on whether he can frame the question in those terms.”

Under the Greek Constitution, the government must propose the language of the referendum, which would need to be approved by Parliament and then by the president.

Some analysts said the referendum was an invitation for instability. “When the debate is very passionate and things are tense, holding a referendum could be risky,” said Alexis Papahelas, the editor of the center-right daily Kathimerini.

If the referendum fails, he said, “we have a very big chance that the country would go into a disorderly default.”

A spokesman for the center-right New Democracy Party, Yiannis Michelakis, said a referendum was dangerous. Mr. Papandreou, he said, “has tossed Greece’s future in Europe in the air like a coin.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Insightful analysis

Via the professor:

THE IMPLICATION IS that the very creation of the common currency area sowed the seeds for this crisis, not the behavior of the periphery countries.

Read the full piece here.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A dangerous mind

Tom Friedman is a fool - there are so many holes in this op-ed that you don't know where to start. Instead, read it, and then remember that almost every assumption he makes or "fact" he simply states is WRONG:

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey isn’t going to run. That’s too bad. He had a chance to rescue the Republican Party from its dash to the cliff and make President Obama a better leader, too.

Here’s why: When the G.O.P. presidential candidates were asked during their debate on Aug. 11 whether any of them would accept a budget deal that involved $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases — and they all said no — the Republican Party officially became a danger to itself and to the country.

The G.O.P. became a danger to the country because it announced, in effect, that it would not be a partner for the kind of Grand Bargain that many economists believe we need — something that provides more near-term investment in the economy that spurs job growth, combined with a credible long-term plan to increase tax revenues and trim entitlements so the country’s debt-to-G.D.P. ratio stays in a safe range. Such a Grand Bargain would simultaneously boost the economy and optimism by its economic logic and the mere fact of the two parties working together.

The G.O.P. became a danger to itself because, as Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University, pointed out in this newspaper on Sunday: “Cutting $10 in spending for every $1 in tax increases would result in $9 in net tax reduction. That’s because lower spending today means lower taxes tomorrow, and limiting the future path of government spending does limit future taxes, as Milton Friedman, the late Nobel laureate and conservative icon, so clearly explained. Promising never to raise taxes, without reaching a deal on spending, really means a high and rising commitment to future taxes.”

The G.O.P.’s refusal to contemplate any tax increase, added Cowen, “has brought what seems to be an extreme Democratic response: President Obama’s latest budget plan is moving away from entitlement reform and embracing multiple tax increases on the wealthy. We may be left with no good fiscal options.”

Indeed, Obama’s decision to respond to G.O.P. extremism and the failure to conclude a Grand Bargain, by moving to the left rather than to the center, was a huge mistake. It means, as Cowen noted, that the country has no credible, long-term fiscal option before it now. Rather than shift back to his base with a weak fiscal plan, Obama should have taken his idea of a Grand Bargain to the country.

Many Americans understand that we are on the wrong track and, I believe, will support a big plan if it: 1) addresses our problem at the scale that is required; 2) shares the burden of cutbacks fairly — takes from defense programs and entitlements and asks the wealthy to pay more but everyone to pay something; 3) has a lofty goal to restore American greatness, not just get us through this crisis; 4) lays out an honest time horizon. This will take time.

In an essay last week in The Washington Post, the co-chairmen of the president’s fiscal commission, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, made exactly this point about their plan to cut the debt by $3.9 trillion by 2020 — through raising tax revenues, cutting defense and increasing the age at which people would qualify for Social Security and Medicare. “When we presented our co-chairmen’s proposal to the rest of the fiscal commission in November,” they wrote, “Washington insiders were shocked that we so aggressively exceeded our mandate. They were sure that the proposal would need to be scaled back to get a majority vote. It turned out that the opposite was true. The more comprehensive we made it, the easier our job became. The tougher our proposal, the more people came aboard. Commission members were willing to take on their sacred cows and fight special interests — but only if they saw others doing the same and if what they were voting for solved the country’s problems. ...We would not have garnered that type of support had we not taken on defense, domestic programs, the solvency of Social Security, health care, and spending in the tax code all at once.”

By refusing to embrace Simpson-Bowles as the basis of a Grand Bargain, and instead offering a watered-down version, Obama has left a gap for a sane Republican or independent candidate. Why was Christie popular among G.O.P. moderates and independents? Because he seemed ready to tell hard truths that Obama has started to shrink from. Had Christie — a moderate on gun control, climate change and immigration who has also backed Simpson-Bowles — run and won significant support, he would have forced Obama back to the center.

Then, instead of a race between the Democratic left and the Republican right — in which the whole country would lose because the winner would not have had a mandate for the real change we need — we would have had a race between the Democratic center, independents and the Republican center. Then the whole country would win. Because whoever captured the presidency would have a mandate to actually implement some version of the Grand Bargain needed to get growth going again — and growth is the only sustainable cure for unemployment, the deficit and inequality.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reading PA

Yes this is America:

READING, Pa. — The exhausted mothers who come to the Second Street Learning Center here — a day care provider for mostly low-income families — speak of low wages, hard jobs and an economy gone bad.
Ashley Kelleher supports her family on the $900 a month she earns as a waitress at an International House of Pancakes. Louri Williams packs cakes and pies all night for $8 an hour, takes morning classes, and picks up her children in the afternoon. Teresa Santiago takes complaints from building supply customers for $10 an hour, not enough to cover her $1,900 in monthly bills.
These are common stories in Reading, a struggling city of 88,000 that has earned the unwelcome distinction of having the largest share of its residents living in poverty, barely edging out Flint, Mich., according to new Census Bureau data. The count includes only cities with populations of 65,000 or more, and has a margin of error that makes it difficult to declare a winner — or, perhaps more to the point, a loser.
Reading began the last decade at No. 32. But it broke into the top 10 in 2007, joining other places known for their high rates of poverty like Flint, Camden, N.J., and Brownsville, Tex., according to an analysis of the data for The New York Times by Andrew A. Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College.
Now it is No. 1, a ranking that the mothers at the day care center here say does not surprise them, given their first-hand knowledge of poverty-line wages, which for a parent and two children is now $18,530.
The city had been limping for most of the past decade, since the plants that sustained it — including Lucent Technologies and the Dana Corporation, a car parts manufacturer — withered. But the past few years delivered more closings and layoffs, sending the city’s poverty rate up to 41.3 percent.
Jon Scott, president of the Berks Economic Partnership, which helps businesses looking to stay in the area or move here, said that some of the city’s job losses were in fact furloughs, and that many businesses were considering opening in Reading, including an industrial laundry company at the former Dana site.
According to Mr. Beveridge, employment in the city dropped by about 10 percent between 2000 and 2010.
One of Reading’s more entrenched problems is education. Just 8 percent of its residents have a bachelor’s degree, far below the national average of 28 percent.
“Without a bachelor’s degree, forget it,” said Ms. Williams, 28, who is taking classes to earn her G.E.D.. Only about 63 percent of Reading’s residents have a high school diploma, compared with more than 85 percent nationally.
Lower education generally means higher poverty. About a fifth of people ages 25 to 34 with only a high school diploma in the United States were poor last year, compared with just 5 percent of college graduates, said Yiyoon Chung, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. For those without a high school diploma, the rate was 40 percent.
Ms. Santiago, 36, has an associate’s degree from a local community college, but said that employers wanted to see more from job candidates. She lost her last full-time job in 2007, and has worked in low wage jobs without benefits through a temporary agency ever since.
“They even want a degree to be a secretary,” said Ms. Santiago, picking up her 8-year-old son at the center.
This city has had a large influx of Hispanics over the past decade. They moved from New York and other large cities, drawn by cheaper rent and the promise of a better life. That raised the flagging population, but also reinforced the city’s already acute problems with education: Just 18 percent of Hispanics in Reading had some college education last year, compared with 30 percent of the city’s whites. Only 44 percent of Hispanics had a high school diploma.
Young men have been particularly hard hit. Because they are having trouble competing for jobs, they are dropping out of the labor force, leaving women to support the children.
Ms. Kelleher, 23, said she had been supporting her three children as well as the father of two of them. She would not be able to survive, she said, without the $636 a month she gets in food stamps.
“For the past five years, it has been me paying the bills,” she said at the day care center, still in her waitress uniform. She wants to get married someday, she said, but only to a partner who is financially stable.
Sixty-two percent of young fathers in the United States earned less than $20,000 in 2002, according to Timothy Smeeding, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, citing the most recent data available from the National Survey of Family Growth.
Even for young people with a bachelor’s degree, the economy is making life difficult. Vickie Moll, who runs the day care center, said the number of applications from teachers who have lost their jobs had grown as the waves of budget cuts washed over the state. “We have people in here with bachelor’s degrees making $8 an hour,” she said.
Social services feel the effects, too. The Greater Berks Food Bank — Reading is the Berks County seat — is on track to distribute six million pounds of food this year, up from three and a half million pounds in 2007, said Doug Long, manager of marketing.
Pat Giles, a senior vice president at the United Way of Berks County, said: “It has really started to snowball. We have a growing population of younger, less educated, less skilled people. On top of that you have the economy going upside down.”
Modesto Fiume, president of Opportunity House, the organization that runs the day care center, as well as a homeless shelter and a transitional living facility, said the number of first-time families in the shelter was up sharply: of 23 new entries in June and July, 18 were homeless for the first time.
“People are here because they honestly and truly can’t find work,” said Delia McLendon, who runs the shelters. “It didn’t used to be that way.“
In the mid-1990s, welfare reform resulted in more women joining the work force. At the time, jobs were plentiful, but now work is scarce and low-income families’ lives have become hectic balancing acts to keep the few benefits they have.
Ms. Santiago loses her subsidized day care if she is out of work for more than 13 days, she said. The loss would take months to reinstate, so she hurries to find any work, whatever it pays, every time her temp job ends. Earning more than $10 an hour means losing health insurance, she said, though her children remain covered through Medicaid.
And jobs just seem to pay less. Ms. Santiago recently took a temporary job at a candy factory where she had worked more than eight years ago, when she was still in her 20s, before she had completed her associate’s degree. At the time she was making $10.50 an hour. In her most recent stint, her hourly wage was $9.25.
“Eight years ago I said, ‘I don’t want to do this, I have to further my education,’ ” she said. “And now here I am, still packing candy, and making less.”

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I have just about had it -

We know America is a rich country, awash in wealth and wealth creation. People are rich and luxury good sales are going gangbusters. But then you have stories like the below, which simply and clearly show that we have an unbalanced, broken, and unfair society. Something real needs to be done - and soon. We can't let our retirees live on cat food.

Faltering Rhode Island City Tests Vows to Pensioners 
When the small, beleaguered city of Central Falls, R.I., filed for bankruptcy this month, it sought to cut the pension checks it has been sending its retired police officers, firefighters and other workers by as much as half. All the city promises now is that its retirees, many of whom do not get Social Security, will not have their benefits cut to less than $10,000 a year.

But investors who bought the city’s bonds could do much better: Rhode Island recently passed a law intended to make sure that they would be paid in full, even in bankruptcy.

Retirees are wondering how the city can cut what they believed was a guaranteed benefit. “We put our time in, we put our money in,” said Walter Trembley, 74, a retired Central Falls police officer. “And the city, through their callousness and everything else, just blew it. They were supposed to put money in and they didn’t.”

Cities and local governments make lots of promises: to their citizens, workers, vendors and investors. But when the money starts to run out, as it has in Central Falls, some promises prove more binding than others. Bond lawyers have known for decades that it is possible, at least in theory, to put bondholders ahead of pensioners, but no one wanted to try it and risk a backlash on Election Day. Now the poor, taxed-out city of Central Falls is mounting a test case, which other struggling governments may follow if it succeeds.

If Central Falls, a city of about 19,000, is able to reduce the benefits its retirees now get — something they will fight — it would not only unsettle the millions of public workers and retirees across the country, but also reshape the compact between governments and their workers. Most public workers now pay a portion of their salaries toward their pensions, but they may balk if they see those pensions can be cut when they retire. And governments that, like Central Falls, have not enrolled all their workers in Social Security as a money-saving measure may have to rethink that strategy.

Millions of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other government workers have long believed that their pensions were untouchable, thanks to provisions in state laws and constitutions. But some of those promises are unclear or untested, said Amy B. Monahan, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota law school who has studied the myriad laws protecting public pensions in different states.

Just how those promises would stack up against promises made to others, like bondholders, is unclear. It is also unclear how those state laws would hold up in federal bankruptcy court, which has its own ranking of creditors.

“This will all be up to a court to decide,” Professor Monahan said.

But many cities and states have already signaled that their bondholders take priority.

When Jefferson County, Ala., was poised on the brink of bankruptcy this summer after defaulting on more than $3 billion of bonds to finance a new sewer system, the state moved to help. Alabama’s new governor, Robert Bentley, proposed a plan to replace the defaulted bonds with new ones issued with state backing, which could lower the borrowing cost and avert what would otherwise be the biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Bondholders would forgive some of the debt they are owed.

Mr. Bentley’s move contrasted with the lack of action by his predecessor two years ago when the city of Prichard’s pension fund ran out of money and it simply stopped sending retirees their checks. Despite a state law saying that the pensions must be paid, no one in state government moved to enforce the law or propose a rescue plan.

“I’m a little ticked about it,” said Mary Berg, 62, a retired assistant city clerk from Prichard, who said she had sent news accounts of the proposal to help Jefferson County to local officials, asking why the state had never helped her and her fellow retirees. “The state didn’t even look at Prichard.”

Teachers in New Jersey likewise got a cold shoulder when they tried to make the state comply with a law that it contribute a required amount to their pension fund each year. A judge ruled that their plan was not yet unsound, despite the state’s failures to make the payments. The teachers, who argued that by the time the plan qualified as “unsound” it would have collapsed, lost on appeal last year. But the state always sets aside enough money to pay bondholders.

Illinois has some of the strongest bondholder protections anywhere, which explains how a state that began its fiscal year with $3.8 billion in unpaid bills from last year — and whose pension system has less than half of the money it needs — is able to keeping selling bonds.

State law requires Illinois to make “an irrevocable and continuing appropriation” of tax revenues into a special fund every month that can be used only to pay bondholders. Illinois’s pension system claims to have a “continuous appropriation” too, but it does not have meaningful deadlines and has proved much more porous over the years.

The federal bankruptcy code says pensioners and general-obligation bondholders are both unsecured creditors, stuck at the back of the line and treated as equals. But there is maneuvering room in the welter of state and federal laws. After Vallejo, Calif., declared bankruptcy three years ago, it cut payments to bondholders, but let workers bear their loss in lower pay and skimpier retiree health benefits. Pensions were untouched.

In Central Falls, the pension plan for the police and firefighters is projected to run out of money in October. But officials there say short-changing the bondholders will not bring relief. The next time the city needs to borrow money, investors will simply demand more in interest, and they might decide all Rhode Islanders were a bad risk and charge all cities more.

“The last thing we want to do is increase borrowing costs for all our cities and towns, and therefore cause tax rates to go up across the state, because one city has fiscal problems,” said Robert G. Flanders Jr., the state-appointed receiver for Central Falls, explaining the new state law putting bondholders first in line.

After going 20 months without their pension checks, the 141 retirees of Prichard decided a third of a loaf was better than nothing and settled with the city. Their average benefit, which had been $1,000 a month, is now about $350. But they also get Social Security. Ms. Berg, the retired clerk, said she worried about the retirees of Central Falls, many of whom do not.

“I can’t imagine telling them that they have to take this 50 percent cut,” she said. “These are retirees, elderly people. They can’t go out and get new jobs.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"He’s a rotten prick."

"He’s mean-spirited," Sweeney said in the Friday interview. "He’s angry. If you don’t do what he says, I liken it to being spoiled, I’m going to get my way, or else."
And: "He’s a rotten prick."
More here.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


CALPERS makes an "investment" that turns into getting back 8% on the dollar. Yet Goldman Sachs, UBS, etc. all got made whole... wow.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Trickle down economics...

That phrase was utter bullshit. I had an English professor in college who told us the only thing that trickles down is piss. That was a great line, and it was almost 20 years ago. I think what is trickling down now is bad behavior.

Check out this article:

Implosion of Foreclosure Mill Leaves 100,000 Cases in Limbo
Florida, as the ground zero of the foreclosure crisis, is arguably further along in seeing how some of the uglier aspects of this mess will work themselves out. The foreclosure mill abuses were so bad that even a not terribly venturesome AG, Bill McCollum, went after them, and his Republican successor, Pam Bondi, is reported to be keen to keep the heat up on mortgage arena miscreants.
As the cases against the big foreclosure mills have moved forward, clients have exited, and that is generally a death knell for a law practice. Normally, when law firms get in trouble, partners who have books of business not involved in the scandal plus senior associates capable of handling client relationships grab as much of the old business as possible and reconstitute under another name. But the foreclosure mills were very high leverage operations, with very few partners and much of the work handled by paralegals or junior attorneys. So there is no one to pick up the pieces when a firm like that falls apart.
The imminent closure of the biggest player in Florida, the Law Offices of David Stern, is leaving a lot of cases in the lurch. From the Palm Beach Post Money (hat tip Lisa Epstein):
The status of nearly 9,000 Palm Beach County foreclosure cases is in question following attorney David J. Stern’s announcement that he is closing his foreclosure shop at the end of the month and dropping the files.
Statewide, as many as 100,000 cases need to be officially withdrawn from by Stern attorneys, but with a decimated staff, Stern told judges in a March 4 letter that he simply doesn’t have the manpower to file the correct paperwork….Hundreds of employees were subsequently laid off, leaving the transfer of foreclosure files to new firms in disarray…
“Florida Rules of Civil Procedure require that attorneys file a proper Motion to Withdraw from any case which they no longer plan to represent,” said Eunice Sigler, a spokeswoman for the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County. “We are currently researching various options, including any remedies available through the Florida Bar.”
Palm Beach County Chief Judge Peter Blanc said this week he’s also trying to figure out how to proceed.
“Stern has provided notice he will no longer be attorney of record, but the court is unable to recognize it,” Blanc said. “I’m told we’re getting more stipulations of substitute counsel but not anywhere near the number we should have.”
Blanc said he’s never seen a move like Stern’s before – sending a letter to judges that says “treat the pending cases as you deem appropriate.”….
Foreclosure defense attorney Tom Ice, of Ice Legal in Royal Palm Beach, has about 100 former Stern foreclosure cases.
He said chief judges shouldn’t get involved in what to do with them.
“It’s entirely improper for Stern to be communicating with the chief judge and asking him to decide what to do with my cases behind my back,” Ice said.
There is a lot more to  it, and you have to read the comments. People are really angry about this crap - and they knew that the regular blue and white collar workers, the ones that these state governors (OH, IL, NJ, etc.) are all coming after, are taking the hit while the millionaires and billionaires walk away... It really is a sad commentary on our state of affairs.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Securities and Exchange Commission declined to say whether it was investigating

Of course it did, because the whole thing is rigged: Opinions split over surge in Apple bets

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ex-Swiss Banker Gives Data to WikiLeaks

In London on Monday, Mr. Assange said that financial institutions “operate outside the rule of law” because of their economic power.
And he's right. Story.