WC Varones

Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools

Greenspan's Body Count: The Old Man and the CU

In today's edition of Greenspan's Body Count, an elderly investment manager blew up the New London Security Federal Credit Union, apparently by investing its deposits in mortgage-backed securities. Apparently remorseful or embarrassed, he then killed himself.
Edwin F. Rachleff, the 82-year-old broker who handled the credit union's investments and who committed suicide on the day the institution was declared insolvent [...]

[President of the Credit Union League of Connecticut Anthony] Emerson did say, however, that credit unions are constrained by rules and regulations from making any sort of wild investments in the stock market. The one area that has become shaky lately but is not prohibited under the rules is investments in mortgage-backed securities, he added.

Young or old,
Big or small,
Alan Greenspan
Kills them all.


On a side note, does the name New London sound familiar? That's the town that stole Suzette Kelo's home in the Supreme Court eminent domain case.

Greenspan's Body Count now stands at thirty-seven:

Edwin F. Rachleff
Carlene Balderrama
Troy VanderStelt
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Thomas Lizotte
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Salvador X
Lupe X
Jade X
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Kashmir Billon
Bill McMurtry

Lisa McMurtry
James Hahn
Raymond Donaca
Deanna Donaca
[redacted]
[redacted]
Michel Veillette
Nadya Ferrari-Veillette
Marguerite Veillette
Vincent Veillette
Mia Veillette
Jacob Veillette
Maurice Pereira
Natasha Pereira
Mark Achilli
Raed Al-Farah
Andrew Kissel
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
Mr. Pierce
Walter Buczynksi
Marci Buczynski
Jason Washington

Ron Paul on Glenn Beck

There was one comment that Ron Paul mentioned at the end of the interview that was interesting and terrifying:

After a hearing - "...I mentioned about the backing of the dollar and the gold and this individual afterwards came up to me and said to me 'is the dollar not backed by gold?' and this person was on the banking committee."

I'm not posting the video because it's pretty much the same message but the link is here: Click for Interview

Honest accounting too painful for FASB

If the doors of accounting were cleansed, every bank would appear to man as it is, insolvent.

FASB lets banks hide stuff off balance sheet for another year.
"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite." William Blake Aldous Huxley

Redfin rocks

I went to a presentation by Redfin today. They are transforming the real estate business. Goodbye, 6% commissions. If prices come down enough for me to buy a house, I'll buy it through Redfin, which rebates 2% to the buyer. 2% in my neighborhood is a shitload of money.

Redfin is a private company, funded in part by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and will IPO if the real estate market rebounds or they achieve global domination. My bet is the latter happens before the former (just kidding - sort of).

If you're in the market to buy, check out Redfin's site. If they haven't come to your area yet, they will.

I HAVE NEVER THOUGHT THIS!

Department of homeland security, I obviously don't agree with this message and I trust and believe in the leadership of this nation, without question, because I know you have the peoples well being in mind. I merely present this video as an example of an obscene commentary to even suggest that people in our government are being paid (Senator Dodd) to in-effect destroy the American way. That is not the case of course, so help me George W. Bush, and I only present this for research and ridicule purposes:

Schwarzenegger: worst governor ever

I've pointed out Arnold Schwarzenegger's heinousness before, but I think this graph will help illustrate the point.

Schwarzenegger lied to the voters, said he would "cut up the credit cards" of the Sacramento spenders, and then went on to become the biggest spender in the history of California.

Allow me to illustrate:



That's right, Schwarzenegger ramped up spending about 45% in four years, all the while pretending that the real estate bubble would keep growing forever. And now that the bubble has burst, he's too cowardly to propose anything as obvious as a rollback to 2004 spending levels.

This is not your father's GOP



I'm still not voting for McCain. But this is a lot better than any ad Bob Dole ever did. Now take a cue from the Ted Stevens disaster and unify the party against earmarks, and we'll talk.

I guess I'll have to keep stabbing!

Drop in homeless count seen as 'success story'

Building a bridge to the federal pen

Sen. Ted Stevens is finally facing the music after years of corruption, now that the Feds are filing an indictment over false statements on financial disclosure forms.

I went to law school with a member of the Stevens clan, and let me just say this: if there were a law against siring daughters with huge foreheads, this guy would have been locked safely away from society a long time ago.

Is it any coincidence that Congress passed no such law during Stevens' forty-year tenure? I think you and I both know the answer to that.

Constitution, Smostitution

To keep with our obese theme, and I can't believe I beat Uncle to the punch, this was posted on Yahoo. FATTIES

Now this article hits home for 2 reasons: 1. I have a degree in Urban Planning and 2. they site the city of my birth, Arcata.

To point 1 - This is blatantly unconstitutional. I am all for healthier foods and the encouragement of health conscious movements using tax incentives, public awareness campaigns, etc. But I strenuously oppose that which has been deemed illegal by the constitution. You can not restrict certain establishments from areas they are qualified to be. They will lose in court and will waste a lot of tax payer money in the process. I get the point but let's use legal means to be healthier.

And what about the places that are already there?

Point 2 - those 9 fast food restaurants are the most profitable in the United States I PROMISE YOU. (inhale) dude, taco bell? (cough, cough)

Most Important Movie of the Year: IOUSA

IOUSA

August 21st - one time only. Be there, wherever there is a movie theater near you.

Censorship is alive and well

No, not just in the MSM. On Wikipedia, which refuses to allow mention of the scandal that ended John Edwards' political career.

Conservatives for Obama

Larry Hunter, a self-proclaimed Reagan/Kemp/Gingrich conservative, endorses Obama:
Obama promises a humbler engagement with our allies, while promising retaliation against any enemy who dares attack us. That's what conservatism used to mean - and it's what George W. Bush promised as a candidate.

Plus, when it comes to domestic issues, I don't take Obama at his word. That may sound cynical. But the fact that he says just about all the wrong things on domestic issues doesn't bother me as much as it once would have. After all, the Republicans said all the right things - fiscal responsibility, spending restraint - and it didn't mean a thing. It is a sad commentary on American politics today, but it's taken as a given that politicians, all of them, must pander, obfuscate and prevaricate.

Besides, I suspect Obama is more free-market friendly than he lets on. He taught at the University of Chicago, a hotbed of right-of-center thought. His economic advisers, notably Austan Goolsbee, recognize that ordinary citizens stand to gain more from open markets than from government meddling. That's got to rub off.

Obama is a blank slate, a man with no resume, upon whom we can all project our fondest hopes. That is probably the case for Hunter. He will probably be severely disappointed with Obama's policies.


Other conservatives, myself included, wouldn't mind seeing Obama win in a landslide so that the Republican Party will be forced to rebuild from the ashes and return to its limited government principals. Not to mention that the coming four years will have a bad economy that will be blamed on the incumbent. After the Carter, the Reagan. I'm voting for Bob Barr, knowing that a vote for Barr is a vote for Obama.

Caveat: Hunter claims to be President of the "Social Security Institute," something which doesn't seem to exist.

Shrinking wallets offset by expanding waistlines

The other day I took W.C. Varones to task for making stuff up in another of his posts (as if the actual news didn't provide enough fodder). The comments devolved into a discussion of nutrition, poverty, and obesity, with Negocios Loucos claiming that the obese family profiled in the radio piece (profiled for their economic situation, not their girth) were an insult to poor people around the world.

Guess what? A couple of doctors responding to an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times point out the positive correlation between poverty and obesity.

Although one might think that higher food prices would decrease obesity by decreasing food consumption, the reality is that one can expect higher food prices to increase rather than decrease obesity.

Healing the afflicted

Obama visits doctor to treat sore hip

Terrorist trading cards: Ayman al-Kahawlik



Ayman al-Kahawlik, also known as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, captured after a late night of reveling with goats.


And in happier times:

BOOM!!!, interrupted

More than a year ago, I wrote BOOM!!! about a Qualcomm legal settlement that I hoped would indicate the beginning of the end of Qualcomm's legal battles:
The company has been beating earnings estimates handily, but legal hassles have scared Wall Street away. If Wall Street gains confidence that Qualcomm is settling its legal issues, the stock has a lot of room to run.

Well, things didn't work out as I hoped. Instead of settling its issues, Qualcomm was caught in a massive abuse of the judicial system, cheating in the discovery process in a case against Broadcom. Qualcomm lost the case, the lawyers were disciplined for ethical violations, and the headlines were damaging to Qualcomm's reputation. Nevertheless, Qualcomm stock was roughly flat from that March 2007 until last week, which is significantly better than the market has done.

Until now. Last week, Qualcomm announced a huge settlement with Nokia. The case was one of its biggest legal disputes. Still remaining are fights with Broadcom and the EU, but Qualcomm is finally on the settlement path. The stock was up 20% Thursday and Friday.

BOOM!!!, at last.

Massive fraud and corruption at IndyMac

Barry Ritholz would surely be one of the bloggers who FDIC headless chicken Sheila Bair blames for causing the bank crisis. He reprints the tale of Vernon Martin, former Chief Commercial Appraiser for IndyMac, who was fired for not going along with IndyMac's schemes.

CEO Michael Perry is centrally involved in Martin's telling, including this morsel:
A residential subdivision had been appraised as “80% complete”, but when I visited it, it had only been rough-graded, probably no more than 15% complete. When I returned to the office on Monday I asked who the construction inspector was for that region. I was told that there were two inspectors for the Sacramento area; one was CEO Mike Perry’s father and the other one was Mike Perry’s father-in-law. The loan officer on the deal was Mike Perry’s younger brother, Roger, who had recently been hired. His previous experience had been as a cop. Thereafter I heard of favoritism towards relatives of Mike Perry and “FOMs”, and the chief credit officer advised me to take special care of Mike Perry’s brother. (“FOM” was IndyMac jargon for “Friend of Mike”.)

I reported my Sacramento findings in a private memo to the chief credit officer, who then distributed it to the senior managers at the construction lending subsidiary known as the Construction Lending Corporation of America (CLCA). The senior credit officer from CLCA, the manager who most resembled Tony Soprano, was the one to call me. He asked “Are you sure you saw what you said you saw?” in a rather chilling manner. He said he had been on site with Roger Perry and had seen things differently. After that call, I asked the chief credit officer why CLCA’s senior credit officer would want me to recant my report. He told me that the senior credit officer received sales commissions for every loan made, which seemed to me like a blatant conflict of interest.

Perry and his wife, of course, are Chris Dodd contributors.

Indymac's failure was WC's fault!

You have to realize how difficult it is for me, as a WC correspondent, to agree with Sheila Bair, FDIC head, and admit the true reason Indymac Bank went out of business. It was not faulty regulation, fraudulent lending practices, a completely bogus ratings system, or evil little orange midgets. It was BLOGGERS! It’s the WC's of the world that cause these banks to go under. And once we realize that and get rid of this pesky little “Freedom of Speech” language in the Constitution, we will be able to maintain a successful and productive country. Mish quotes:

The federal agency insuring bank deposits learned that it can't afford to ignore the blogs following its seizure this month of IndyMac Bank, the largest bank failure since the 1980s.

"The blogs were a bit out of control," Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., told the San Francisco Business Times after a speech in San Francisco this week.

That's putting it mildly. Following the FDIC's takeover of IndyMac on July 11, widely followed blogs were speculating on bank runs on some of California's largest banks based on nothing more than people waiting for their branch to open or large deposits moving between financial institutions.

The FDIC plans to pay closer attention to the blogosphere in the future.

"We're very mindful of the media coverage and blogs in controlling misinformation. All I can say is were going to continue to stay on top of it," Bair said. "The misinformation that came out over the weekend fed a lot of depositors' fears."


WC, YOU ARE ON NOTICE! (Can I do that?) I certainly hope this doesn’t impact my status as a loyal and productive field correspondent sir.

Communism is neat

Some headlines today:
11:08 SEC studying new version of uptick rule, Cox tells congress, SEC rule might rely on 'nickel or dime' increment, not penny- Bloomberg

11:10 SEC's Cox says intends to extend short-sale protections mkt-wide - DJ

12:59 Rep. Frank to push lenders to hold off on foreclosures - WSJ

It's that time of year

It's that magical time of year again when the flies return to Del Mar like the swallows returning to Capistrano.

Piles of manure at the nearby racetrack draw enough flies to cover both neighboring cities, Del Mar and Solana Beach.

All is forgiven

People of San Diego, stop paying your mortgages!

City attorney Michael Aguirre declares San Diego a foreclosure sanctuary.

SAN DIEGO, July 23 (Reuters) - San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre said on Wednesday he filed a lawsuit against Bank of America Corp and its Countrywide unit to prevent the mortgage lenders from foreclosing on homes in his city, which he aims to make a "foreclosure sanctuary."

Aguirre plans to file similar lawsuits against Washington Mutual Inc, Wells Fargo & Co and Wachovia Corp in an effort to make the lenders negotiate with mortgage borrowers facing foreclosure.

"We would like to see San Diego become a foreclosure sanctuary," Aguirre said.

Greenspan's Body Count: Notice of Termination - Carlene Balderrama

Turnabout is fair play. A Taunton, Massachusetts woman sent her lender a Notice of Termination.
A city woman shot herself to death Tuesday afternoon after she sent a fax to her mortgage company threatening suicide because of plans to auction off her home later in the day, police said.

Carlene Balderrama, 53, was apparently distraught that the company was planning to sell her foreclosed house at 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to Taunton Police Chief Raymond O’Berg.
Greenspan's Body Count now stands at thirty-six:

Carlene Balderrama
Troy VanderStelt
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Thomas Lizotte
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Salvador X
Lupe X
Jade X
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Kashmir Billon
Bill McMurtry

Lisa McMurtry
James Hahn
Raymond Donaca
Deanna Donaca
[redacted]
[redacted]
Michel Veillette
Nadya Ferrari-Veillette
Marguerite Veillette
Vincent Veillette
Mia Veillette
Jacob Veillette
Maurice Pereira
Natasha Pereira
Mark Achilli
Raed Al-Farah
Andrew Kissel
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
Mr. Pierce
Walter Buczynksi
Marci Buczynski
Jason Washington

Sleazy ambulance-chaser caught being a sleazy tail-chaser

He denied the affair when the news broke months ago, but last night John Edwards was caught sneaking into a hotel to meet his mistress and love child.

Enjoy the comical details of reporters and photographers chasing him around the hotel.

Kleptocrats - King County

Bill Bonner used the term 'kleptocrat' in his Daily Reckoning posting on Monday referring to our nations governing individuals. I experienced a good example of that after renting a car in Seattle for 1 week. I didn't know the total bill until now because at least at Budget when you drop the car off you just leave it there and walk away. No one gives you a receipt or says have a nice flight. So I was shocked to see a charge on my credit card for $501.22 for a car that I was paying a rate of $290.99 plus the $76 gas prepay(our flight was at 6am, didn't want to mess with finding a gas station). So I asked for the break down and wanted to share here:

Rate: 290.00
Airport Concession Recovery Fee 11.11%: 40.80

Sales Tax 9%: 29.86
Vehicle License Recoup Fee/ Cust Facility Fee: 31.15
Rental Tax 9.7%: 32.18
Fuel Prepay: 76.24

So that's $133.99 in taxes and fees. I wouldn't mind a law that required companies to quote the total price and not just an asterisks stating 'does not include fees and taxes'. I'll pay closer attention next time.

You make the call

In the middle of sending off the U.S. Olympic squad, Bush says,
Olympians don't rest on their laurels; they wear them.
Does this mean anything? Either he's an idiot, or he's so smart it makes me feel like an idiot.

[UPDATE] I didn't read the transcript until Varones added the link, but apparently the transcriber took it as a joke (or perhaps it's scripted laughter from the speechwriters?)...
Olympians don't rest on their laurels -- they wear them. (Laughter.)
Laughter indeed. Oh George, you so cwazy.

They said it couldn't happen in Frisco

The San Francisco Chronic:
Double-digit drops in median home prices hit every Bay Area county in June, even the ones that had seemed Teflon-coated.

Across the nine counties, the median price paid for resale homes, new homes and condos in June plunged 27.1 percent from a year ago to $485,000, dipping below the half-million-dollar mark for the first time in four years, DataQuick Information Systems of La Jolla (San Diego County) reported Thursday.

[...]

Affluent areas such as Marin County and San Francisco, which until now had resisted most price erosion, saw existing single-family home median prices fall by about 11 percent. Including new homes and condos, the Marin County and San Francisco medians fell about 12 percent to $846,000 and $726,750, respectively.

You wouldn't believe how many Friscans actually thought Frisco would be completely immune to the collapse of the housing bubble. As with most housing bubbles, nicer areas hold up longer, but eventually they all fall. Including Frisco.

Gavin Newsom's Body Count

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has blood on his hands. A father and his two children are dead because of Newsom's policy of shielding violent criminal juvenile illegal aliens from deportation:
Edwin Ramos, now 21, is being held on three counts of murder in the June 22 deaths of Tony Bologna, 48, and his sons Michael, 20, and Matthew, 16. They were shot near their home in the Excelsior district when Tony Bologna, driving home from a family picnic, briefly blocked the gunman's car from completing a left turn down a narrow street, police say.

Ramos, a native of El Salvador whom prosecutors say is a member of a violent street gang, was found guilty of two felonies as a juvenile - a gang-related assault on a Muni passenger and the attempted robbery of a pregnant woman - according to authorities familiar with his background.

In neither instance did officials with the city's Juvenile Probation Department alert federal immigration authorities, because it was the city agency's policy not to consider immigration status when deciding how to deal with an offender. Had city officials investigated, they would have found that Ramos lacked legal status to remain in the United States.

Newsom's Body Count now stands at three:

Tony Bologna
Michael Bologna
Matthew Bologna


But with the hundreds of gang members and other violent criminals Newsom has protected over the years, there are certain to be more victims.

CalPERS' magical performance numbers

Clever liars give details, but the cleverest don't.

CalPERS reports 2008 performance numbers:
While the value of Calpers' stock portfolio fell nearly 11 percent, its private equity holdings gained 19.6 percent for the 12 months through March 31 and its inflation-linked assets returned 22.9 percent over nine months.

Global fixed-income assets returned 7.7 percent for the year and real estate gained 8.1 percent for the 12 months through March 31.

What a coincidence. While things that have easily observable market prices (i.e. stocks) went down, everything that is valued subjectively went up! Private equity? It does great during a credit crunch when stocks are crashing! Just ask noted private equity players Blackstone Group or Babcock & Brown. And real estate? Well, whose real estate portfolio is not up at least 8% this year?

Nice numbers, CalPERS! Especially considering your investment in toxic waste CDOs at the beginning of the mortgage crisis, and your $1 billion dollar investment in the now-bankrupt LandSource at the peak of the real estate bubble.

Mark my words: CalPERS is lying about its performance, and there will be serious consequences for California retirees and taxpayers.

UPDATE 12/18: Welcome Instapundit, Patrick.net, and Kedrosky readers! Updated and related thoughts here.

Cry me a river

NPR: For Some Ohioans, Even Meat Is Out Of Reach
The rising cost of food means their money gets them about a third fewer bags of groceries — $100 used to buy about 12 bags of groceries, but now it's more like seven or eight. So they cut back on expensive items like meat, and they don't buy extras like ice cream anymore.

The poor, starving victims in question? Have a look.

Online poker swindle

A cheating scandal at one of the major online gaming sites is getting more interesting by the moment. See this post over on my poker blog.

Al Gore's environmental hypocrisy

We have pointed out Al Gore's environmental hypocrisy many times before, but nobody does it in a more entertaining way than Americans for Prosperity.

A Senator who gets it

Senator Jim Bunning, on Paulson's Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac taxpayer bailout plan:



And on the Greenspan-Bernanke serial bubble blowing:
First, on monetary policy, I am deeply concerned about what the Fed has done in the last year and in the last decade. Chairman Greenspan’s easy money the late nineties and then following the tech bust inflated the housing bubble and created the mess we are in today. Chairman Bernanke’s easy money in the last year has undermined the dollar and sent oil to new record highs every few days, and almost doubling since the rate cuts started. Inflation is here and it is hurting average Americans.

Second, the Fed is asking for more power. But the Fed has proven they can not be trusted with the power they have. They get it wrong, do not use it, or stretch it further than it was ever supposed to go. As I said a moment ago, their monetary policy is a leading cause of the mess we are in. As regulators, it took them until yesterday to use power we gave them in 1994 to regulate all mortgage lenders. And they stretched their authority to buy 29 billion dollars of Bear Stearns assets so J.P. Morgan could buy Bear at a steep discount.

Now the Fed wants to be the systemic risk regulator. But the Fed is the systemic risk. Giving the Fed more power is like giving the neighborhood kid who broke your window playing baseball in the street a bigger bat and thinking that will fix the problem. I am not going to go along with that and will use all my powers as a Senator to stop any new powers going to the Fed. Instead, we should give them less to do so they can do it right, either by taking away their monetary policy responsibility or by requiring them to focus only on inflation.

Third and finally, since I expect we will try to get right to questions in the next hearing, let me say a few words about the G.S.E. bailout plan. When I picked up my newspaper yesterday, I thought I woke up in France. But no, it turns out socialism is alive and well in America. The Treasury Secretary is asking for a blank check to buy as much Fannie and Freddie debt or equity as he wants. The Fed’s purchase of Bear Stearns’ assets was amateur socialism compared to this.

And for this unprecedented intervention in the markets what assurances do we get that it will not happen again? None. We are in the process of passing a stronger regulator for the G.S.E.s, and that is important, but it allows them to continue in the current form. If they really do fail, should we let them go back to what they were doing before?

I will close with this question Mr. Chairman. Given what the Fed and Treasury did with Bear Stearns, and given what we are talking about here today, I have to wonder what the next government intervention in private enterprise will be. More importantly, where does it stop?

Louisiana: the We Hate N*****s State

This is hardly surprising, but last weekend some Louisiana cops repeatedly tased and pepper-sprayed two people, amid a tirade of profanity and N-bombs.

Why do we know about it? The recipients of the abuse were two actors on Oliver Stone's production of an anti-Bush movie, and the brutality occurred in front of a crowd at the film's wrap party. As reported by TMZ:
Local station KTBS reports and TMZ sources say [Jeffrey] Wright, who plays Colin Powell, was repeatedly tasered and pepper sprayed as he lay prone on his stomach in the street. We know witnesses heard the officers using extremely foul language, including the "N" word, directed at Wright.

Our sources say [Josh] Brolin was observed by witnesses attempting to make peace and standing still as he was repeatedly sprayed in the eyes by cops.
As much as I dislike pigs generally, the ones in the South really take it to another level. How you like those tax incentives now, Hollywood?

Cox and Paulson's next step

If blaming the shorts doesn't make the market stop going down, maybe Cox and Paulson should try stoning the exchanges.
islamic rage boy stoning the karachi stock exchange pakistan

Bombastic sports quote of the day

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, as quoted by Reuters:
Other clubs may have more talent, better names, but when they say 'Play Ball' everybody is an equal. Everybody has a round bat, playing with a round ball.
Got that, talented guys?

America -- &^%# yeah!!!

video

This is, as far as I know, a web exclusive, as I couldn't find it on YouTube or LiveLeak, and when I tried to upload it there, it was rejected.

It came to me in an e-mail from RD, with the following narrative (which sounds plausible but for whose authenticity I cannot vouch):
U.S. Airforce at Work
This is a video taken inside the cockpit of an A-10 by the pilot and it was a night view.

What you see is from 9700 feet away (almost two miles). The four terrorists had no clue there was someone watching them from almost 2 miles away. The A-10 was using a 30 mm cannon without injuring the dog nearby who escaped unharmed.

You can see the gun camera shake a bit as the pilot fires; then count about 4 seconds for the rounds to travel 2 miles.

The tenth round is a tracer,so the bullets you actually see are every tenth; they are getting hit with hundreds of rounds, but the dog is unscathed. Muzzle velocity on the 30mm is 2430 feet per second.

UPDATE: Apparently an Apache, not an A-10. Probably Army then too, not Air Force. Got to give the credit to the animal lovers in the right branch. Thanks Mike.

Something is happening, but you don't know what it is...

Eerie, isn't it? You can sense that something's wrong. You're starting to see signs of desperation in a few coal-mine canaries: realtors, distance commuters, levaraged business owners, underwater home buyers. Yet most of us are still going about our daily routines as if nothing has changed. It's like the opening scene in a zombie movie before all hell breaks loose.

I wonder if this is what it felt like in 1930.

It's the price, stupid



I toured a couple of open houses in the rich San Diego beach suburb of Del Mar. They were priced in the $5 million to $7+ million range. You do get a nice house for that money, but think about the cash flow. That's going to cost you $40,000 or $50,000 a month just to cover mortgage and taxes, before you even get to the cost of utilities and garden and pool maintenance. And that's if you get a rate better than the jumbo rates I've seen recently.

Who's got that kind of money? Nobody around Del Mar, apparently. Some of these multi-million dollar properties have been sitting on the market for months, and I haven't seen a single transaction in that range. Yet no one is cutting the asking prices. I guess they're waiting for Bernanke to kill the dollar further, so that $5 million will mean nothing to foreign buyers who hold real currencies like Euros.

Nope, no inflation here




Your eyes don't deceive you. That's $14.99 for a six-pack of beer. Add in 7.75% sales tax, 5 cents per bottle recycling tax, and then 7.75% sales tax on the 5 cents per bottle recycling tax (yes, that's right; in California you pay taxes on the taxes), and you get to $16.47 for a six-pack of beer.

Thank you, Ben Bernanke.

Does Bill Miller still suck?

Last month, we noted famed money manager Bill Miller's horrible performance.

It hasn't been very long since that post, but I thought we should have a quick update. Does Bill Miller still suck?

Yep.

He's lost another 10% in just three weeks -- that's about 4% worse than the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, or the Vanguard Value Index. Among the problems: a big position in Freddie Mac!

Overheard in the ticket line at the San Diego Zoo

A retired couple, who had thought $50 would be plenty to bring for a day's outing:
"$24.50! We'll have one dollar left over for a drink!"
Ha! Not so fast, Gramps. Waters and soft drinks start at about $3.50. Save your dollar for a can of Alpo on the way home. But hey, at least you're getting a whopping 2.3% cost-of-living increase on your Social Security!

FDIC gone wild

A little follow-up on the FDIC seizure of IndyMac:

1) Check out the sniping between Chucky Schumer and OTS:
"Although this institution was already in distress, I am troubled by any interference in the regulatory process," said OTS Director John Reich in a statement Friday.

Schumer shot back. He said that lax enforcement by OTS was a primary cause of the problems at IndyMac, as well as those of the nation's housing market and economy.

"IndyMac's troubles ... were caused by practices that began and persisted over the last several years, not by anything that happened in the last few days," Schumer said. "If OTS had done its job as regulator and not let IndyMac's poor and loose lending practices continue, we wouldn't be where we are today. Instead of pointing false fingers of blame, OTS should start doing its job to prevent future IndyMacs."

I'm no fan of Chucky, but he's right on this one. The Office of Thrift Supervision has been appallingly lax in thrift supervision.

2) The FDIC says it will lose $4 to $8 billion on IndyMac. According to the FDIC's 2007 report, it has about $50 billion of total reserves. So we're going to lose 8% to 16% of the FDIC's total reserves on one bank. And this as FDIC head Sheila Bair has been talking about, and staffing up for, a wave of bank failures. What happens when the $50 billion runs out? You guessed it: the taxpayers step in, we add the bank bailouts to the national debt, the dollar goes down, and oil goes up. $8 gasoline, anyone?

3) Given the precarious state of the FDIC's own finances, and the fact that it is losing $4 to $8 billion on IndyMac, why is it paying out a "50% advance dividend for uninsured deposits"? That's a half-billion dollars the FDIC is throwing away, apparently purely discretionarily. Too bad the taxpayers, who will likely have to bail out the FDIC, don't have any say in this largess.

4) You thought Senate banking committee chair Chris Dodd's (D-Countrywide) corrupt and incestuous relationship with the banking industry he's supposed to oversee was limited to getting tens of thousands of dollars in reduced mortgage costs from Angelo Mozilo? Nope, he's also the recipient of at least $4,600 in campaign contributions from failed IndyMac CEO Michael Perry and apparent wife Nancy Perry.

You're starting to get the picture here, right? Lenders like Michael Perry and Angelo Mozilo made bad loans that would never be paid off, bribed the legislators and regulators, sold millions (Perry) or hundreds of millions (Mozilo) of dollars of stock before the companies crashed, and then left investors and taxpayers holding the bag. And Chris Dodd is still in the Senate and his Countrywide bailout bill is still getting the support of a majority of Senators.

And Countrywide and IndyMac are small potatoes compared to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two giant GSEs that used implicit taxpayer backing to generate excess profits and become personal enrichment vehicles for politicians and party hacks like Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson. They are now apparently insolvent and Washington is scrambling to decide how to bail them out.

Jumbos gone wild

Check out the mortgage rates offered at Schwab. They used to be very competitive. Also note that the Jumbo line is still at the old $417,000, so the super-conforming legislation didn’t really help things. I’m guessing the Countrywide quote below is stale and unavailable. If these rates hold, the high-end market is really in trouble.


If there are any mortgage brokers or others out there with access to rate sheets as of 7/11 or later, are you seeing the same thing?

The fall of the house of cards

Senate passes foreclosure bill:
To make it more palatable to Republicans, the Senate measure would take responsibility for any losses away from taxpayers and instead cover them by diverting a newly created affordable housing fund drawn from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac profits.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Haven't I heard something about them recently?

Another one bites the dust

FDIC seizes IndyMac Bank (IMB).

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Another bad lender that made ridiculous loans on overpriced homes to people who had no chance of paying them back. There's plenty of blame to go around: the Fed, Congress, the FHA, the GSEs, etc. Most of those institutions will never get what they deserve. So it's a small victory to see the scumbag bad banks get wiped out.

And holy crap! Some dumbasses had a lot of money in IMB way over the FDIC insurance limit:

At the time of closing, IndyMac Bank, F.S.B. had about $1 billion of potentially uninsured deposits held by approximately 10,000 depositors. The FDIC will begin contacting customers with uninsured deposits to arrange an appointment with an FDIC claims agent by Monday. Customers can contact the FDIC for an appointment using the toll-free number above. The FDIC will pay uninsured depositors an advance dividend equal to 50 percent of the uninsured amount.

How stupid can you be? It's bad enough to have any money in a bank over the FDIC limit, but in a bank whose stock is trading for pennies? And when a U.S. Senator has publicly stated that the bank is in trouble? That's financial Darwinism.

Happy Fannie-Freddie Friday everyone!

Hope you have your shorts on!

Where in the world is Donna Marie Gold?

In May we related the story of Las Vegas realtor and speculator Donna Marie Gold, who got into trouble over-paying for 22 properties in bubble markets and couldn't understand why a bank would take away a $250,000 equity line of credit (hint: it's the "equity" part).

Following up on the story, I tried to go back to Donna's web site to see if she'd had any luck selling or renting any of the properties, but the web site is gone. What on earth could cause a realtor/speculator to take down a web site, one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to advertise to potential renters and buyers? Has she sold or rented all of her properties and retired to a tropical island? Nope. Her overpriced Vegas strip condo is still for rent -- and still at $5100/month (I told her 2 months ago it was overpriced).

Anyway, here's the Google cache:




My guess is she's given up and decided to let some or all of the properties go into foreclosure. But I could be wrong. Her phone number is there if you're curious.
DONNA GOLD REALTOR 2700 Las Vegas Blvd. South Las Vegas, NV 89109 ph: 702/325-8206 fax: 702/364-5687

It's now safe to die in Wisconsin, but harder to get laid

Court: Wisconsin Law Bans Sex With the Dead, Charges Against Three Men Reinstated:
Armed with shovels, a crowbar and a box of condoms, the men went to a cemetery in Cassville in southwestern Wisconsin in 2006 to remove the body of a 20-year-old woman killed the week before in a motorcycle crash, police said.

One of them had seen an obituary photo of the pretty nursing assistant and asked the others for help digging up her corpse so he could have sexual intercourse with it, prosecutors said. They used the shovels to reach her grave but were unable to pry the concrete vault open and fled after a car drove into the cemetery.

Quotations from Chairman Varones

Watch the hundies, or you'll be blowing dudes for fivers.
Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves. -Benjamin Franklin

Obama to channel JFK in Berlin

The Mirror:
Barack Obama will do his own version of a classic Cold War speech when he visits Berlin this month.

The Democrats' presidential candidate will appeal for Europe-US relations to recover from strains over the Iraq war.

He will speak near to the spot of the demolished Berlin Wall where President John F Kennedy made his famous 1961 "I am a Berliner" call to the Soviets to tear it down.

There is no truth to the rumor that upon his return to the U.S., Obama plans to tour Dallas in a convertible.

Secret Courts - USSA

Senate Passes Spy Plan That Ends Phone Company Suits

July 9 (Bloomberg) -- The Senate gave final congressional approval to legislation that overhauls U.S. electronic spying and ends lawsuits against telephone companies that aided government wiretapping of suspected terrorists.....

...(Obama supports it)

The legislation would require President George W. Bush's terrorist surveillance program to be supervised by a secret court that has overseen foreign-intelligence gathering for 30 years. The measure, approved by the House last month, goes to Bush, who said he will sign it soon.


Secret Courts? That doesn't seem very American. And is there anything more USSR then the way they had people disappear because of their secret courts. Is this even constitutional?!?

Seriously, the representatives of the people are voting to take away the liberties of the people. Am I the only one that thinks that the ideal of America is disappearing? The new America is about telling you you are free as your freedom is reduced.

I wonder what they will call the Statue of Liberty in 20 years? Abu Dubai New York Harbour monument probably.

Letter to the blind, deaf and certainly dumb

I'll post the response when it comes in. What I wanted to write but didn't was that the FED is like a lifeguard at a pool who's mission is to drown those in the pool. I thought that was getting dramatic though. Stay tuned...

Congresswoman Tauscher, I wrote you some months ago expressing my concern that the FED was acting inappropriately according to their mandate. I objected to the JP Morgan financing that allowed them to purchase Bear Stearns. I feared that the money borrowed from the American tax payer would not be returned and the tax payer would then have paid for the purchase of Bear Stearns and received absolutely no return.

You responded that the FED is outside the control of the government so as to not be politically manipulated. You responded that it was not the place of congress to oversee the FED's actions.

According to this article (NY POST) the value of the collateral used for the loan is worth less then the value borrowed.

Do you understand what that means? I’m not sure you do because if you did you would realize that taxes have just been added without the sign off of Congress. As I understood that used to be illegal but I may have an antiquated understanding of how this now works.

The FED's job used to be to protect the dollar. The dollar is approaching all time lows in value so they have utterly failed there. Now they are spending tax payer money without the tax payer having a voice in the matter. You say that the FED is outside the control of Congress. So what stops the FED from bailing out all of Wall Street if Congress has no control? Who stops the FED from completely bankrupting the country? Are there now 4 branches of government with the FED being the 4th and having no oversight and being more powerful then the other 3 combined?

The Price Also Rises

Two years ago my favorite bread ran $1.59 a loaf. Thanks Ben!
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Putting the arsonist in charge of the fire department

Bernanke Moves to Extend Powers as Credit Woes Linger

Global warming: tips & tricks

Here in Las Vegas, we're living on what might be seen as the wild frontier of global warming. The weather here today, for example, is perhaps not too different from what your own town will feel like in a decade or two.

So today we commence this handy series, aimed at educating you in the nuances of life in the oven.

Pictured above is the practice, common among my neighbors, of cracking open the garage door during the evening hours. This lets out the 140-degree air, and allows sufficient ventilation to dry the carcasses of any cats or small children that may have become stuck in the garage during daylight hours.

Feel free to try a test run in your own home, and check back here for more friendly "Global warming: tips & tricks."
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

Fascist pig John McCain: proud to trample on the First Amendment

Just in case anyone out there is still considering voting for McCain.

From the Varones archives: John McCain, your friendly neighborhood fascist pig.

Why mainstream news outlets blow, #38,391

In a story filed under the category of "Health," ABC News relays this claim:
"Anyone who is married to Christie Brinkley and has to masturbate at all is probably a sex addict," said Doug Weiss, a licensed psychologist and the executive director of the Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado.
The article, with little more depth of content than what you've already read, wraps around a smutty photo montage with the caption: "Christie Brinkley's soon-to-be ex-husband Peter Cook fancied pornography and the Internet over his supermodel wife."

There are several ways to dissect this reportage emetic, but my general thoughts are: What kind of man-hating, idiotic journalist parrots this tripe? What sort of "expert" offers such an inept analysis of human sexuality? And what kind of editor passes this tabloid garbage off as news?

I guess if you're married to a woman who used to be a model--even ten years in--there's no way you could be sexually frustrated short of full-blown deviancy. I daresay this expert could use a sweeping roundhouse to the nuts.

The story reminds me of a line: "Find the most beautiful woman on earth, and somewhere out there, I promise you, there's a guy sick of f---ing her."

Crude? Sure. But when it comes to the truth of the matter, it's a fair sight better than the clowns at ABC are doing.

Greenspan's Body Count: Revenge of the Geezer

I know it's been almost three weeks since we had a Body Count update. Never fear: Greenspan is still killing. In today's episode of Greenspan's Body Count, an old man who bought at the peak of Greenspan's bubble regretted his purchase so much that he killed his realtor:
"We believe this was a planned-out execution-style murder of the real estate agent," the prosecutor said.

Tague told WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids that [dissatisfied home buyer Robert Arnold] Johnson believed that [Troy] VanderStelt took advantage of him in a real estate deal. Johnson bought a house through him in 2005, then recently decided to sell it and went to a different real estate agent. The second agent told Johnson that, because of the slumping housing market, the home was not worth what he had paid for it.

This one is a real tragedy, as Troy VanderStelt was a young husband and father and beloved community member. Alan Greenspan, you are a cruel, vicious, sick bastard.

Greenspan's Body Count now stands at thirty-five:

Troy VanderStelt
Scott M. Coles
Dawn E. Armstrong
Thomas Lizotte
Jonathon Calvin "40-Cal" Jacques
Salvador X
Lupe X
Jade X
Little Boy X
Little Girl X
Kashmir Billon
Bill McMurtry

Lisa McMurtry
James Hahn
Raymond Donaca
Deanna Donaca
[redacted]
[redacted]
Michel Veillette
Nadya Ferrari-Veillette
Marguerite Veillette
Vincent Veillette
Mia Veillette
Jacob Veillette
Maurice Pereira
Natasha Pereira
Mark Achilli
Raed Al-Farah
Andrew Kissel
Rufus Shaw Jr.
Lynn Flint Shaw
Mr. Pierce
Walter Buczynksi
Marci Buczynski
Jason Washington

Oh, so you're the one guy

Bizarre, off-topic comment of the day, on a one-year-old post that has nothing to do with Scarlett Johansson.

That didn't take long

Remember the $30 billion of taxpayer guarantees that Ben Bernanke illegally gave to J.P. Morgan to bail out the Bear Stearns stock- and bond-holders? Well, they're already going bad.
The Federal Reserve trimmed the estimated value of Bear Stearns Cos. assets it took on last month and said lending to securities dealers fell to zero for the first time since it began extending the credit in March.

The central bank said today in Washington the "fair value" of the Bear Stearns assets was $28.9 billion as of June 26, a $1.1 billion drop from the total in March.

Down a billion is not so bad, eh? Not so fast. That's using Bernanke's fantasy valuations. It's what he wishes the assets were worth, not what they are actually worth:
The Fed is valuing the portfolio in accordance with accounting guidelines that call for an estimate based on sales in an "orderly market," rather than a hypothetical forced liquidation. The value doesn't necessarily reflect what the securities would fetch if Maiden Lane [the Fed's Special Purpose Bear Stearns Bailout Vehicle, SPBSBV] tried to sell today.

And the Bear Stearns $30 billion is just the beginning. Then there's the Countrywide $50+ billion from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta. And the billions loaned to Wall Street with garbage collateral under the Primary Dealer Credit Facility. And soon the $300 billion Dodd-Frank orange lender bailout bill. The Fed and Congress are intent on destroying the dollar and the taxpayer to bail out bad lenders.

Great playground equipment of the 21st century

The twisty pole:



Think of it as a stripper pole with training wheels. Trust me -- if Bernanke gets his way, your daughter's going to need those skills.

I think the air fares already took care of that

Alaska Airlines Offers Customers Convenience of a Cashless Cabin

It's stimulating, all right

President Bush Boosts Porn Industry With Economic Stimulus Plan:
NEW YORK, July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An unforeseen and surprising beneficiary of the Economic Stimulus Plan, a plan that George Bush contends will "boost our economy and encourage job creation," has surfaced this week. An independent market-research firm, AIMRCo (Adult Internet Market Research Company), has discovered that many websites focused on adult or erotic material have experienced an upswing in sales in the recent weeks since checks have appeared in millions of Americans' mailboxes across the country.

According to Kirk Mishkin, Head Research Consultant for AIMRCo, "Many of the sites we surveyed have reported 20-30% growth in membership rates since mid-May when the checks were first sent out, and typically the summer is a slow period for this market."

Jillian Fox, spokeswoman for LSGmodels.com, one of the sites reporting figures to AIMRCo, added, "In a June 15, 2008 survey to our members, thirty two percent of respondents referenced the recent stimulus package as part of their decision to either become a new member, or renew an existing membership."

I should have more faith in Americans. I thought they were going to waste the money!

Tyson Homosexual Wins 100 Meter Olympic Trials

Because Christians are generally in need of help with simple things like reading there are organizations out there that filter the AP stories so as to make them more “appropriate” for their simpleton readers. In a comedy of absurdity, they auto check for the word gay and replace it with homosexual. So over the weekend it was not Tyson Gay who won the 100 meter, it was Tyson Homosexual.

Censored AP content

In a related story, Courtney Penises, of Friends fame, visited the White House to have a conversation with George W. Vagina about the policies being supported by Obama Satan the Lord of Darkness.

Countryfried Tuesday

Today is the day the B of A - Countrywide merger is supposed to close. Will B of A do it? They're sure acting like it. I must admit I'm amazed that they've been stubborn enough and stupid enough not to have broken it off yet.

On a related note, would someone please indict Mozilo so he can serve some prison time before he dies of skin cancer?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Contact Us

e-mail: wcvarones *at* yahoo *dot* com

Blog Archive