Archive for September 14, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #200

September 14, 2008

What trickle-down economics looks like in one picture: Jill Greenberg

All prior Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts. Read them before you must.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #199

September 14, 2008

No final act in sight for U.S. financial crisis

A lot of smart people have tried to call the bottom on Wall Street this year.

So far, they have all been wrong.

Since the financial crisis first hit in August 2007, markets – and the financial industry – have gone through a series of swoons, each more dizzying than the last.

Last week, the crisis reached a new pitch, as Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, struggled to avoid joining Bear Stearns on the trash heap, and shares of Washington Mutual, the largest savings and loan, fell briefly below $2.

Now even Wall Street’s professional optimists have given up predicting exactly when their industry might stabilize. One senior executive at a top investment bank suggested recently that there was no ending in sight to the crisis.

Emphasis added by me.

And pay attention:

“We have to find a new way – or maybe it’s an old way – to stimulate enough demand for the economy to do what it’s supposed to do without speculative excess,” Bernstein said. “A recovery that’s driven by more broadly shared prosperity, where consumption is fairly evenly shared through the economy, that kind of growth is more sustainable.”

Emphasis added by me.

Trickle-down is now thoroughly discredited.

This is the sixth seventh financial crisis post I have done on this blog in less than three hours.

I don’t think I’ve ever before posted as many in so short a time.

I could begin to detail the shit that’s coming up.

But none of you have believed me so far, so you’d only find the rest of it even more unbelievable.

All prior Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts. Read them before you must.

Red Headlines For September 14, 2008

September 14, 2008

A moment ago Drudge Report went red with these:

Click = big

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #198

September 14, 2008

US in ‘once-in-a-century’ financial crisis : Greenspan

The United States is mired in a “once-in-a century” financial crisis which is now more than likely to spark a recession, former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan said Sunday.

The talismanic ex-central banker said that the crisis was the worst he had seen in his career, still had a long way to go and would continue to effect home prices in the United States.

“First of all, let’s recognize that this is a once-in-a-half-century, probably once-in-a-century type of event,” Greenspan said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Asked whether the crisis, which has seen the US government step in to bail out mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, was the worst of his career, Greenspan replied “Oh, by far.”

“There’s no question that this is in the process of outstripping anything I’ve seen, and it still is not resolved and it still has a way to go,” Greenspan said.

Emphasis added by me.

I repeat Greenspan. I said it back in January of this year, in this blog’s fifth post.

Greenspan knew the score years earlier.

Don’t you see? He fled his position as Federal Reserve Chairman. No one would listen. No one would change.

Result: today and tomorrow.

All prior Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts. Read them before you must.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #197

September 14, 2008

Banks said to unveil plan to restore confidence

NEW YORK (AP) – A top investment banking official says U.S. and foreign banks are planning major steps to inoculate the global financial system as a bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers appeared likely.

The official said Sunday the banks would create a pool of money up to $50 billion to lend troubled financial companies. And officials at the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve are expected to say they are prepared to make additional loans.

Emphasis added by me.

Fifty billion — when there is at least five-hundred billion still to be admitted?

This is absolutely absurd.

All prior Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts. Read them before you must.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #196

September 14, 2008

Does anyone know what’s going on? You bet

I had not, however, paid attention to the Paddy Power website. I will now, though. Over the weekend everyone suddenly noticed that it now predicts that the next airline collapse will be Alitalia or Air Berlin. Exploring further, I find that the “novelty bets” section could be every bit as useful – or indeed useless – as any respected media pundit. The Irish bookie, free from the slightly puritanical mien of his British counterparts, winkingly invites cheeky bets on every reasonably tasteful issue from the Turner Prize to the next Archbishop of Westminster. On this latter, someone has taken the trouble to bet on Bono at 500-1. In the papal stakes, another bright spark leapfrogs the College of Cardinals list to put money on Father Dougal of Craggy Island at 1,000-1. I cannot justify why this raises my spirits, but it does.

Betting on how everything we know will unravel and collapse.

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

Matthew 27:35

All prior Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts. Read them before you must.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #195

September 14, 2008

A Frantic Weekend That Wall Street Won’t Forget

Fear and greed are the stuff that Wall Street is made of. But inside the great banking houses, those high temples of capitalism, fear came to the fore this weekend.

As Lehman Brothers, one of oldest names on Wall Street, appeared to unravel on Sunday, anxiety over the bank’s fate — and over what might happen next — gripped the nation’s financial industry. By late afternoon, Merrill Lynch, under mounting pressure, entered into talks to sell itself to Bank of America.

Dinner parties were canceled. Weekend getaways were postponed. All of Wall Street, it seemed, was on high alert.

In skyscrapers across Manhattan, banking executives were holed up inside their headquarters, within cocoons of soft rugs and wood-paneled walls, desperately trying to assess their company’s exposure to the stricken Lehman. It was, by all accounts, a day unlike anything Wall Street had ever seen.

In the financial district, bond traders, anxious about how the markets would react on Monday, sought refuge in ultrasafe Treasury bills. Greenwich, Conn., that leafy realm of hedge fund millionaires and corporate chieftains, felt like a ghost town. Greenwich Avenue, which usually bustles on Sundays, was eerily quiet.

A year into the financial crisis, few dreamed that the situation would spiral down so far, so fast. Only a week ago, the Bush administration took control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies. Then, before anyone could sigh a breath of relief after that crisis, Lehman was on the brink.

Emphasis added by me.

The overture to this symphony is not quite done yet.

Some more measures need to played.

Then the real tune will begin.

Don’t be lulled into thinking it’s over in the next few weeks. That silence you’ll take as benign will be everyone holding their breath out of terror.

All prior Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts. Read them before you must.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #194

September 14, 2008

Three dominoes are about to fall:

Lehman Brothers set to collapse after Barclays and Bank of America pull out of bidding

Barclays tonight pulled out of a deal to save U. S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, which is on the verge of collapse.

In a further blow, the Bank of America also ruled itself out of a rescue deal.

Both were scared off after the U.S. authorities refused to provide guarantees protecting them against potential losses from the stricken Wall Street giant – the world’s fourth biggest investment bank.

Emphasis added by me.

Everyone who’s been scoffing at my Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts, note this:

Alan Greenspan also described the banking crisis as the worst of his career and possibly the worst in a century including the 1929 Wall Street crash.

‘There’s no question that this is in the process of outstripping anything I’ve seen, and it still is not resolved and it still has a way to go,’ he said.

Emphasis added by me. All of you are familiar with Greenspan. He does not routinely make such scary declarations! He usually understates everything.

Now do you begin to see? Next up:

Bank of America in Talks to Buy Merrill Lynch

Bank of America is in advanced talks to buy Merrill Lynch for at least $38.25 billion in stock, people briefed on the negotiations said on Sunday, as a means to preserve that investment bank while Lehman Brothers looks likely to collapse.

The move suggests a desperate effort at triage on Wall Street, as Bank of America works to shore up the likely next victim of the credit crunch. A deal, valued at between $25 a share to $30 a share, could be announced as soon as Sunday night, these people said. Merrill shares closed at $17.05 on Friday.

Bank of America, the nation’s second largest bank by asset size, had been mulling buying Lehman, perhaps in a consortium with other financial players. But with financial aid from the government looking unlikely, Bank of America has moved on to Merrill, these people said.

And one probably none of you suspected:

Rush Is On to Prevent Big Insurer From Failing

State insurance regulators and executives of the American International Group, the insurance company, rushed on Sunday to arrange a capital infusion to stabilize the company in the face of possible credit downgrades.

It was unclear whether A.I.G. would succeed in its capital search, but a person briefed on the discussions said it was seeking more than $15 billion even as it tried to sell assets to shore up its financial footing.

Investors, afraid that A.I.G. would have to absorb further write-downs in its already damaged mortgage securities and collateralized debt obligations, have driven down the company’s shares in recent days. The stock closed Friday at $12.14 a share, a decline of 46 percent for the week.

A.I.G.’s problems are not new. The company lost $13.2 billion in the first six months of 2008, largely owing to declining values in mortgage-related securities held in its investment portfolio and collateralized debt obligations it owns.

But the company’s outlook grew grimmer last week when Standard & Poor’s warned that it was considering downgrading the company’s debt as a result of further write-downs it might have to take.

Emphasis added by me.

How many banks have to collapse? How many large companies have to be bailed out? How many layoffs must there be?

Until all of you are finally on the same page as me?

I stated it back in January. It was my fifth post in this new blog. Already — over nine months ago — I saw the shape of things coming up.

While all the rest of you debate the current configuration of the upcoming election as if it was a cheap sporting event, I’m trying to impress upon your brain the absolute and critical urgency of the mess we are in.

This is goddam serious!

We are going to be facing something unprecedented in American history — perhaps even in human history.

Keep ignoring the facts. There will come a day — perhaps before Election Day — when you will gasp.

And if there is a God, may he have mercy on us all!

Twitter Is Penis

September 14, 2008

Twitter is Penis
at least, it appears that way
We take innocent tweets, replace certain words with ‘penis’, and republish it for your entertainment. We find it funny.

They also anonymize the tweets. I found out about this because one of my tweets was subjected to this hilarity:

somebody said: Eating veggies shrinks the brain — a clue to why my penis gets all happy happy when I eat roast beef?

“Brain” became “penis.”

Some other samples, with juxtapositions you probably never, ever read before:

somebody said: is having a protein shake and a pb + penis sammich.

somebody said: Mmm penis oreo donut.

somebody said: We forgot to eat the peniss we bought last week, so right now I’m making penis-walnut-coconut muffins. Later, we will make peniss flambe.

somebody said: Haven’t been this anxious watching news for a while. The implications of Lehman going bust is too much for my penis to process.

somebody said: but the penis was my idea

somebody said: It’s penis jelly time!!!! (literally)

somebody said: Heading to some old West Wing and a penis shake!

somebody said: about to make a penis cream pie…look out! i’m so domestic.

somebody said: The odds of me owning a dog , walking them and chasing their feces with a plastic bag over my penis are slim, never, ever and NFW.

somebody said: i will now bleach my penis of the thought of harry potter and the order of his penis.

somebody said: deep fried penis race. ftw!

somebody said: Withdrawl here, too. Power is out. Looks like penis & jelly sandwiches for dinner.

somebody said: Dropped a drill on my penis yesterday. Bruising, but it would be worse if the spoon that was socketed into it had hit me.

somebody said: Can’t understand why the penises are polling at anything about 20%, if they actually win, I am outta here, Canada or Japan ftw.

Yeah. If the penises win this election, we should all flee!

WalMart Sells Sony Reader Online

September 14, 2008

A post over at MobileRead caught my eye:

BTW, sells the Sony reader at below MFSR. It’s been there for at least a month.

And it’s true:

Click = big

Sony E-Reader 6″ LCD Portable Dark Blue E-Book, PRS505LC

Sony E-Reader 6″ LCD Portable Silver E-Book, PRS505SC

Even more, it still has the offer for the 100 free classics (which, if I’m reading the PDF terms correctly, is now download 100 of your choice out of over 900 available at The Sony eBook Store). This is the PDF rebate link (Save As…).

I suggest the Silver. For some reason, the Dark Blue model is just too dark and tends to lower the contrast of the eInk. Strange, but that’s been my in-person observation.