Pop culture exposes lies about inflation
Howard: Aw, shit. I pay seven grand for a wedding, I'll never see it!
$7,000 in 1984 dollars is $14,300 in today's dollars using the official CPI rate of 3% over that period. Do you know anyone who's having a large, traditional wedding and reception in a wealthy suburb this year for $14,300? In fact, costofwedding.com puts the average cost in the film's location of Evanston, Illinois at $44,350.
Slacker to Fed: message received!
Me, I’m going to protect my cash by getting it all spent. I stopped working a year ago…why bother? Why feed the beast? Inflation doesn’t hurt if you are broke already.
The annual Canadian seal hunt was marred Saturday by a boat accident in the ice-covered Gulf of St. Lawrence that killed members of the boat's crew, officials said.
"There have been fatalities," fisheries department spokesman Michel Plamondon said, but a precise casualty figure was not available.
Rescue teams recovered three bodies and another person was still missing in the waters north of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canadian media reported.
Somebody might shed a tear, but not me. Watch these sick bastards in action:
Greenspan's Body Count
It looks like another kill for Alan Greenspan: another overleveraged speculator in Greenspan's property bubble for whom death was the easiest way out. Congratulations, Alan Greenspan.
A chauffeur to a multi-millionaire has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder in a case where police believe he may have been hired by his employer to kill him.
Driver Carlos Trujillo, 47, was arrested last week along with his cousin and charged over the death of Andrew Kissel, a wealthy property developer found tied up and stabbed to death in his mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, in April 2006.
At the time of his death, Kissel was had been charged with real estate fraud and grand larceny for allegedly stealing nearly $4 million from a Manhattan apartment company.
Among the murder theories investigated, Greenwich Police chief David Ridberg said, was that Kissel’s death was a “suicide-for-hire”, in which the 46-year-old arranged for his own death so that relatives could benefit from his life insurance.
Greenspan's known body count now stands at seven:
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
We are probably drastically understating the body count as many suicides do not hit the mainstream press -- and what media reports there are may not mention the mortgage troubles that were at the root of the suicides. If you are aware of other Greenspan kills, please let us know so that we can add them to the Body Count.
Merkel to boycott opening ceremony
Merkel says she will not attend opening of Beijing Olympics.
I'm sure that, like most German people, Angela Merkel has starred in scheisse porn videos in her youth, and that Chinese agents will try to blackmail her with the tapes. But she won't buckle. That's what kind of man she is.
A question for "homeowners" looking for a bailout
Take a look at your loan application. How much money did you tell the bank you were making? Now take a look at your tax return for that year. How much money did you tell the IRS you were making? Were you lying to the bank or were you lying to the IRS?
Now please tell me why you deserve a taxpayer-funded bailout instead of prison time.
The Gramm connection
Krugman has a Gramm connection of his own -- Gramm's wife Wendy was on the board of Enron when Krugman was a paid advisor to Enron. How did that advice work out, Paul?
Great moments in marketing
If idiots got us into this mess, it will take idiots to get us out of it
While you're at it, why not bring Alan Greenspan back and make him the Everything Always Goes Up Forever Czar?
We're pulling for you, lady
A Texas woman who said she was forced to remove a nipple ring with pliers in order to board an airplane called Thursday for an apology by federal security agents and a civil rights investigation.
And please keep coming back... as long as you're reading blogs, you're not torturing dissidents!
I wanna be... Frenchy!
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday that he cannot rule out the possibility he might boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics if China continues its crackdown in Tibet.
A Paris-based media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, last week appealed for an opening ceremony boycott by heads of state and government, as well as royalty — an idea that has gained the support of many French.
Reporters Without Borders made headlines again Monday when three high-ranking members were arrested at the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony after unfurling a black banner showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs. Jean-Francois Julliard, the group's research director, welcomed Sarkozy's comments.
At the White House, press secretary Dana Perino said President Bush still plans to attend the Olympics.
MBAs: the new Realtors?
As a recovering MBA myself, I'm in no position to criticize. I had a great time in my program. But the flood of night school MBAs from diploma mills does not bode well for the value added to a resume.
In a traditional MBA program, you're not really paying for the course content. You're paying for a lifetime network of powerful friends from a top school, and entry into a top banking or consulting firm. Lesser MBAs give you the same fluffy course content, but none of the important stuff.
Want to go back to school? Study something useful instead.
Great Letter to Bernanke
Spies Like Us
"This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years.
"Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes," Mr Burton said.
"This is a serious matter that merits a complete investigation, and we demand to know who looked at Senator Obama's passport file, for what purpose, and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach," he said.
Fortunately, we have an answer for Mr. Burton. Survey says... Chief of firm involved in breach is Obama adviser
On non-linear payoffs, Blodget, Bove, and the banks
Is he right? Maybe, but I doubt it. That doesn't mean it was a dumb thing to do. The key is that the payoff is non-linear. If he's wrong, there's little downside. Maybe he loses his job and winds up somewhere else on Wall Street. You don't get on a permanent blacklist for a single bad call on Wall Street, no matter how bad the call. Ask John Meriwether or Brian Hunter.
If he's right, however, the payoff is enormous. He instantly becomes one of Wall Street's top analysts, earning millions of dollars annually. This is the Henry Blodget model. Blodget, an obscure young English major working at a second-tier firm, put an outrageous $400 price target on Amazon stock. When the Internet bubble carried the stock to, and beyond, that target, Blodget's whole career was made. He was hired by Merrill Lynch within months and made enough money in the next 2 years to be set for life.
I don't think the financial crisis is over. But if Bove's call has even a 5% or 10% chance of being right, it's a rational thing for him to do.
California authorities rearrested Sara Jane Olson at noon Saturday, just hours after she was prevented from flying home to Minnesota from Los Angeles, and said she must serve one more year in prison because they miscalculated her release date.
The former member of the radical Symbionese Liberation Army had been paroled Monday from a California women's prison after serving about six years for her role in a 1975plot to kill Los Angeles police officers by blowing up their patrol cars.
That's almost as good as waterboarding.
Welcome to our French readers
You recently elected President Sarkozy. Our President is Bush. France 1, USA 0.
Next year, your President will be Sarkozy. Ours will be McCain, Obama, or Clinton. France 2, USA 0.
Central Bank? ECB vs. Helicopter Ben. France 3, USA 0.
Hooters on the beach? France 4, USA 0.
Hey, I know we've had our differences in the past, but are you accepting citizenship applications?
Little old ladies getting massacred in Schwab California muni fund
Wait 'til Grandma sees her month-end statement. Kibbles 'n Bits! Kibbles 'n Bits! I'm gonna get me some Kibbles 'n Bits!
The lesson here is that politicians should shut the hell up about race. There is zero upside to introducing the issue, and even the most eloquent candidate is likely to make stupid, damaging comments. I have a dream that one day politicians will appeal to us based on the content of our character, not the color of our skin.
In brighter news for Obama, though, the Bill Richardson endorsement is big news. Richardson carries a lot of weight as an elder (in maturity if not age) statesman, governor, Southwesterner, Hispanic, superdelegate, etc. Not to mention that he's an ex-Clintonista and was on everyone's short list of VP candidates. By turning on Hillary now, he's saying that this nomination is over.
Cramer is awesome!
“Dear Jim: Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there? --Peter
Cramer says: “No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble. If anything, they’re more likely to be taken over. Don’t move your money from Bear.”
Negocios Loucos: Dear Peter, did you also invest in Google when at 725 Cramer said it would go to 900? Did you not notice that Google is now around 440? If you listened to this douche bag then you so deserve to have lost 98% of your investment.
Cheers to you jackass.
Hang on to them hats & glasses...
The dollar is plummeting tonight on news that Bernanke will lend unlimited money at 3.25% to any brokerage company for any reason with questionable collateral. That's right, the U.S. taxpayer will be the bagholder for hundreds of billions of dollars of bad mortgage securities.
This is the the moment we've been waiting for. Hope you've got your gold on!
Easy come, easy go
Their value tomorrow based on the rumored $18 deal price: $101 million.
That's still enough to keep Cayne rolling in herb for the rest of his days. But the lesser employees won't fare so well. Bear employees had much of their retirement assets in the employee stock plan, which is down 75% in a week and down 90% from the all-time high. Imagine seeing that happen to your 401(k). Worse, I imagine a lot of those employees took out loans based on that wealth to buy houses, boats, etc. As Bob Saget would say, "You are f*&^ed."
UPDATE: Holy crap! Did I say $18 per share? The WSJ says the deal is done at $2 per share!!!
Thanks, but no thanks
Returns based on potential appreciation in the U.S. dollar against a selected foreign currency. However, if the selected foreign currency keeps the same position or appreciates versus the U.S. dollar, you will experience a loss of principal.
I'm a big fan of EverBank. I've had an Aussie Dollar CD with them for years. But this one, betting on dollar strength, is crazy. If you work, save, or invest in the U.S., you are already massively exposed to the dollar. If you want to travel to Europe, Australia, or even Canada, you are screwed. Things cost double what they did just a few years ago. If you commute 60 miles each way from your depreciating sub-suburban house, you are screwed. The declining dollar has doubled your gasoline costs. If you eat food... yeah, you know where I'm going with this.
You want to compound that dollar exposure? We have massive deficit spending from President Bush and a Democratic Congress. That's not going to change no matter who the next President is. We have Helicopter Ben setting negative real interest rates and setting the precedent that the Fed will bail out every large institution that has liquidity/solvency troubles. How is the Fed going to pay for that? By printing money, of course.
By all means, check out the foreign currency CDs at EverBank. But stay away from the DollarBull.
The good news about Southern California housing
Better than Frisco, eh?
Two peas in a pod
Bush, 1999, suing a parody web site:
"There ought to be limits to freedom."
Angry Muslim, 2008, on plans to sue countries that allow criticism of Islam:
"I don't think freedom of expression should mean freedom from [sic] blasphemy," said Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade, the chairman of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference. "There can be no freedom without limits."
The OC: SIV positive
"You should assume you've already lost a significant amount of that $80 million," said Michael Ehrlich, a SIV expert at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. "Right now, you're stuck."
But county Treasurer Chriss Street said, "I still think the county will get all its money back."
On Feb. 20, just three weeks after promising a bailout for Whistlejacket, Standard Chartered abandoned it. The big SIV stopped paying investors.
"Standard Chartered is a large and respected bank," said Ehrlich. "What do they know that we don't know? That's a hugely negative signal."
Some writing on the blank slate
I'm not ready to agree yet. Yes, Obama is the creation of a fawning, unquestioning media and an electorate willing to project its vast and disparate hopes onto a blank slate. But I don't think the media or the electorate are ready to give up the illusion yet.
Creative mortgage solutions
If you can't pay your mortgage,
Then don't wear a frown,
'Cause you can just burn it down.
Yes, you can just burn it down.
That's arson, not arsin', which was one of Governor Spitzer's requests of Kristen.
Greenspan's Body Count
The Shaws were facing several troubles. Rufus Shaw was diagnosed with prostate cancer, leading his wife to end her candidacy for Dallas City Council last year.
Flint Shaw resigned her DART board seat this year after she was accused of forging stationery from the Dallas County District Attorney's Office to avoid paying a $7,500 debt. She had been free on bond on charges of tampering with a governmental record.
The couple also had financial difficulties. Police say they recovered several bounced checks from the couple's home. They also found checks Flint Shaw apparently wrote for cash from her campaign fund and corresponding ones equal to the amount of their mortgage.
Sure, they had medical and legal troubles. But people don't usually commit murder-suicides over prostate cancer. And the legal troubles stemmed from the financial troubles. The financial troubles appear to be at least partly mortgage-induced, as evidenced by checks from the campaign funds going to the mortgage.
Alan Greenspan, we're crediting these two kills to you.
Greenspan's Body Count now stands at six:
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
UPDATE: Welcome, Dealbreaker readers! Be sure to check the most recent update of Greenspan's Body Count.
Subprime is hottttt.....
In times of crisis, it's reassuring to have a leader with a firm grasp of the issues
Bush: We have a dollar that’s adjusting, and I am for a strong dollar. One reason I am for a strong dollar is because I want, you know, people to — I think it helps deal with inflation. And you’re right, the weakening dollar has affected our capacity to be able to purchase energy. I mean, we’re dependent on energy from overseas. Our dollar doesn’t buy as many barrels of oil as it used to, and so therefore it’s more expensive for the American people. And that’s why I’m for a strong dollar; one reason.
Meet Mrs. Client 9
And her MySpace page:
When I was 17, I left home. It was my decision and I’ve never looked back. Left my hometown. Left a broken family. Left abuse. Left an older brother who had already split. Left and learned what it was like to have everything, and lose it, again and again. Learned what it was like to wake up one day and have the people you care about most gone. I have been alone. I have abused drugs. I have been broke and homeless. But, I survived, on my own.
How disappointing. I thought call girls were all just well-adjusted small-town girls working their way through college in the big city.
And if you haven't seen Spitzer victim Ken Langone's reaction, watch it.
Geraldine Ferraro hates uppity negroes
"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position," Ferraro told a local California newspaper last week.
"And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept," Ferraro said.
Geraldine Ferraro, 1988:
"If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race."
Someone's got a little race obsession, eh?
Tehran police chief caught in bed with six hookers.
Spitzer must feel like a total douche to have spent several thousand dollars a pop and only gotten one hooker.
Too bad Spitzer won't face Iranian justice. Seems like most of New York would like to see him stoned to death or see his dick chopped off.
A lovely little street in Antioch, CA
S&P and Moody's shenanigans
It's less dangerous
Here we are now
You're an anus
I never knew what those Nirvana lyrics meant, but now I think they were predicting the current ratings agency farce.
Moody's, S&P Defer Rating Cuts on AAA Subprime, Hiding Losses
Even after downgrading almost 10,000 subprime-mortgage bonds, Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service haven't cut the ones that matter most: AAA securities that are the mainstays of bank and insurance company investments.
None of the 80 AAA securities in ABX indexes that track subprime bonds meet the criteria S&P had even before it toughened ratings standards in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A bond sold by Deutsche Bank AG in May 2006 is AAA at both companies even though 43 percent of the underlying mortgages are delinquent.
Sticking to the rules would strip at least $120 billion in bonds of their AAA status, extending the pain of a mortgage crisis that's triggered $188 billion in writedowns for the world's largest financial firms. AAA debt fell as low as 61 cents on the dollar after record home foreclosures and a decline to AA may push the value of the debt to 26 cents, according to Credit Suisse Group.
S&P and Moody's think it's less dangerous to keep the lights out and keep investors in the dark about the quality of the bonds. Nevermind that the reason they exist is to analyze and tell the truth about bonds. And the anus is anyone who buys something based on a AAA rating from S&P or Moody's.
In one such case in 2004, Mr. Spitzer spoke with revulsion and anger after announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island.Adios, pendejo.
Thank you, Helicopter Ben
Lager louts take Las Vegas.
We are now the world's Tijuana.
ShadowStats goes mainstream
Greenspan's Body Count
No one close to Washington seemed to think he would snap, but they knew he was struggling.
Washington was selling his Sandalwood Drive home because his mortgage had an adjustable rate that was ballooning, and the home was no longer worth what he owed.
It's terrible that he committed a rape and an attempted rape (and possibly more as yet unknown assaults) before offing himself. That's indicative of the utter devastation that Greenspan's policies inflicted on borrowers' lives and psyches.
Greenspan's known body count to date is four:
Greenspan's Body Count will be a recurring feature of this blog. I am certain there have been other mortgage-related suicides that have not come to my attention. If you know of others, please let me know so that we can properly memorialize all of the victims of Alan Greenspan.
After McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, and McCain-Lieberman, McCain-Obama is a natural fit. And it would be a landslide winner. McCain-Obama would get virtually all of the Republicans, a big majority of moderates and independents, and a good chunk of Democrats.
Don't think he won't do it. McCain loves bipartisanship, hates conservatives, and wants personal power and glory above all.
First, read this post over at Calculated Risk if you're interested in lazy lying lawyers, the operational nightmares of a wave of millions of foreclosures, or just general Countrywide greed and incompetence.
Then, today's Wall Street Journal brings joyous news: FBI investigates Countrywide. For securities fraud, lying about its financial condition, and inflating the value of its mortgages. The same article also states:
Countrywide also is the subject of a class-action, securities-fraud civil lawsuit by various government pension funds and their managers, including the city and state of New York. The lawsuit identifies more than 25 firms that helped Countrywide package and sell mortgage-backed securities, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The firms have denied any wrongdoing.
Countrywide "misled investors by falsely representing that Countrywide had strict and selective underwriting and loan origination practices, ample liquidity that would not be jeopardized by negative changes in the credit and housing markets, and a conservative approach that set it apart from other mortgage lenders," the suit alleges.
That last bit is the good part. If investors who bought hundreds of billions of mortgages from Countrywide can persuade a court that the lending standards were fraudulent, then Countrywide is, as Saget would say, f&^*ed.
I'll bet that $160 million reverse break-up fee is looking pretty tasty, eh, Bank of America?
Friday night comedy
I would say his live show is much the same material as the HBO special, but it's not really material. It's more of an hour-long gimmick, that it's really funny to see the nice-guy dad from a syrupy sitcom let loose with extremely obscene humor. It works. But the second time you see it is not nearly as good as the first.
It was also really funny to see a few clueless prudes walk out horrified in the first five minutes. You bought a ticket based on his witty comments in America's Funniest Home Videos?
All for naught
Like an overdosing junkie responding to a shot of adrenaline to the heart, the market responded with a sharp rally. It went from down 465 on the Dow to down just 128. The rally continued into February as the markets acted like easy money was a perfect solution to all of our economic problems.
Bernanke followed up with another 50 basis points of cuts, bringing the Fed Funds rate to 3%, less than the rate of inflation. That's right, negative real interest rates. I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so.
All for naught. Today the financials are back to the January 22 intraday lows. Bernanke has spent most of his bullets, and the credit crunch monster keeps coming at him. And all that shooting woke up the inflation monster sleeping behind him.
The bitch is back
Gotta love those open primaries. Let the opposition choose your candidate.
With McCain already a lock, it made perfect sense for Republicans to cross over and vote for Hillary. She'd be easier to beat in a general election, and even if she still can't win the nomination, it keeps the nasty Clinton organization attacking Obama for a while longer.
Greenspan's body count
Is it showing up in the statistics?
Study shows increase of suicides among 45- to 54-year-olds:
Dr. Sasha Federer, a clinical psychologist at Carolinas Hospital System, said he doesn’t see many suicides among middle-aged adults in their emergency room. “We see a lot of younger folks and some teenagers,” Federer said. “(The few) people we see who are middle aged are just mentally ill.”And that study goes only through 2004, long before the housing downturn. Wait until you see the 2008 figures, with the Greenspan mortgage crisis in full swing.
He said one possible reason for the increase could be the amount of pressure because of recent financial crises, such as the home mortgage situation.
“Economically people have not been doing as well as they have before,” Federer said. But he said he has no direct knowledge of what would cause a person from that age group to commit suicide.
“One can only speculate,” he said. “But there have been (financial) trends that have been going on for a while and maybe a person can only be stretched so far.”
A liberal and his money are soon parted
Today's example: The Blue Fund (as in "blue state"), a large cap fund that charges liberals 1.5% per year to invest in lefty-approved companies. They range from well-known tech stocks with lefty management like Apple and Google to more sinister companies like Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored enrichment scheme for retired Democratic politicians.
1.5% for any domestic large-cap fund is a hefty fee. But for an index fund that doesn't even pretend to have a skillful manager, it's outrageous. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of suckers.
The Woman from Fear
"... if one candidate is trying to scare you, and the other one is trying to make you think, if one candidate's appealing to your fears, and the other one's appealing to your hopes. You better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope."
Hillary Clinton '08: Your children are not safe at night with Obama in the White House.
Body Count goes to Vegas! Ernest Scherer III was a Vegas loser who fancied himself a professional poker player. Doesn't that photo tell ...
UPDATE: Edited to remove the guy's name. I hope nobody harasses him or his employer. He was good-natured and his sign was innocuous a...
Maybe teaching racial division and hatred wasn't such a good idea after all
Doctor cycling in California run down, stabbed by driver screaming about ‘white privilege’ : A doctor cycling along the Pacific Coast Highwa...