Archive for September 27, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #259: Countdown

September 27, 2008

There are now only seven days left.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #258: Fear

September 27, 2008

I’ve watched the economy for 30 years. Now I’m truly scared

If more people understood what has happened in the British and American banking system, the financial crisis would only be containable by the immediate partial nationalisation of every bank in Britain and America. There was not a run on the banks by depositors queuing in the streets to withdraw their savings. Rather, it was an escalating and terrifying run on the banks in effect by themselves, which, if it spread to millions of small savers, would reproduce the events of 1929.

In Britain, the money markets that the banks organise between themselves completely froze. Such was the break down in trust and sense of panic that some of the most familiar names in British high street banking would not lend to each other at all or, at best, just overnight. Instead, the Bank of England had to supply tens of billions to banks who found the normal sources of funds blocked.

I have been writing on the financial markets for nearly 30 years. I have known the system was becoming increasingly fragile, but for all the ferocity of my criticisms, I never expected the scale of today’s events. Or that I would begin to wonder whether my own bank would survive without nationalisation. The negotiations in Washington over this weekend to finalise the $700bn Paulson financial bail-out plan, and the expected vote on Sunday, are all that stands between the Anglo-American banking system and a first-order disaster. The scheme had better work.

Emphasis added by me.

At the time I’m typing this, it is approaching 8:45PM EDST.

I think the Congress has less than 24 hours to approve and pass the Paulson bailout.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #257: Suicide

September 27, 2008

Credit crunch banker leaps to his death in front of express train

The City was in shock last night after the apparent suicide of a millionaire financier haunted by the pressures of dealing with the credit crunch.

Kirk Stephenson, who was married with an eight-year-old son, died in the path of a 100mph express train at Taplow railway station, Berkshire.

Mr Stephenson is believed to have taken his own life after succumbing to mounting personal pressures as the world’s financial markets went into meltdown.

Emphasis added by me.


After eating breakfast on Thursday with his wife and their young son Lucas, Mr Stephenson drove to Taplow station, left his car in the car park and crossed a footbridge over the main First Great Western Plymouth to Paddington line.

Out of view of passengers on the platform, he is then said by witnesses to have leapt in front of a high-speed train.

The driver sounded his horn and slammed on the brakes but was unable to stop in time. The train came to a standstill a mile down the track.

What did I say earlier: Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #245: Humans

I can’t get into this guy’s head. Only he knows what he was thinking. But it’s probably a safe bet to say that if the financial world had not been crashing around him, he’d still be here.

How many others will succumb as he did?

And will you?

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #256

September 27, 2008

Treasury to nationalise B&B bank
Troubled bank Bradford & Bingley is to be nationalised, the BBC has learned.

Officials from the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) have been in talks with executives from the bank in a bid to secure its future.

BBC News business editor Robert Peston says the Treasury will almost instantaneously sell to a bank, or a number of banks.

B&B’s share price has plummeted and it has announced plans to cut 370 jobs due to the downturn in the mortgage market.

The bank will be nationalised using special legislation the Treasury put through when it took Northern Rock into public ownership earlier this year.


B&B’s £50bn of loans, including £41bn of home mortgages, will not be sold and will be nationalised on a long-term basis.

Bank failure after bank failure.

And yet 58% disbelieve.

Book Covers: Murder

September 27, 2008

These have all been cropped for this post. Click each link to see the original.

Murder at a Police Station
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Murder in the Stacks
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Red is for Murder
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Murder for the Millions: A Harvest of Horror and Homicide
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Murder Inc.
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Previously here:

eBooks: More About Covers
eBooks: A Cover Test

Reference: Leona Dare

September 27, 2008

Acrobats: Leona Dare
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Picture History:

Leona Dare (1855-1922)

Leona Dare was a Spanish-American acrobat and aerialist in circuses. She also appeared in the Folies Bergere. She was famously portrayed in a Jules Chevet poster of 1891.

Reference: Absalom’s Pillar

September 27, 2008

Pillar of Absolom, Jerusalem, 1857
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Wikipedia: Yad Avshalom

For centuries, it was the custom among passersby — Jews, Christians and Muslims — to throw stones at the monument. Residents of Jerusalem would bring their unruly children to the site to teach them what became of a rebellious son.

Reference: Omaha Race Riot of 1919

September 27, 2008

Wikipedia: Omaha Race Riot of 1919

Absolutely gruesome photos.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #255: Jackals

September 27, 2008

Predatory capitalism shown stark naked at last:

Wachovia Suitors May Delay Bidding After Dimon’s Deal for WaMu

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) — Wachovia Corp.’s suitors may use a template honed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon last week: Wait to see whether regulators will seize the bank, then buy the best assets and let the government sort out the rest, according to analysts.

Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Banco Santander SA are in talks with Wachovia, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. They’re part of the same group that passed on a chance to buy Washington Mutual Inc., which the U.S. closed two days ago, leaving JPMorgan to buy WaMu for $1.9 billion, a fraction of its previous offer in March.

The bidders may try that tactic again at Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia following its 27 percent plunge in New York trading yesterday, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Egan-Jones Ratings Co. They may get help from regulators, who said the U.S. benefited from seizing and selling WaMu because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. didn’t have to tap its $45 billion insurance fund.

“WaMu’s takeover has proven that there’s an easy way, if the FDIC is involved,” said Sean Egan, president of Egan-Jones in Haverford, Pennsylvania. “You kick the hell out of the equity holders and bondholders. That may be the new model for bank takeovers.”

Emphasis added by me.

“Equity holders” — the shareholders these bastards hide behind at their own companies to justify their crimes.

And then when they’ve gorged and gorged and gorged, they become Too Big To Fail and we have to bail out these financial sociopaths.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #254: Poll

September 27, 2008

On this final “normal” weekend, before everything changes irreparably forever, this poll is scary:

Composited image. Click = big.

Fifty-eight percent think it will self-heal or it’s all talk.