Archive for November 22, 2008

Bank Collapse Watch: CitiGroup

November 22, 2008

Citigroup May Get Government Rescue, Investors Say (Update1)

Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) — Citigroup Inc. will probably get rescued by the U.S. government after a crisis in confidence erased half its stock-market value in three days, investors and analysts said.

Citigroup has more than $2 trillion of assets, dwarfing companies such as American International Group Inc. that got U.S. support this year. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke may favor a rescue to avoid the chaotic aftermath of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s bankruptcy in September.

“There is no question that Citi is in the category of ‘too big to fail,‘” said Michael Holland, chairman and founder of Holland & Co. in New York, which oversees $4 billion. “There is a commitment from this administration and the next to do what it takes to save Citi.”

While Citigroup executives say the company has adequate capital and liquidity to ride out the crisis, its tumbling share price may shake the confidence of creditors, clients and rating agencies. A similar scenario played out at Lehman, when Chief Executive Officer Richard Fuld declared the firm was “on the right track” five days before the firm went bankrupt.

“The market may be implying some sort of regulatory intervention,” Jason Goldberg, a former Lehman analyst who now works at Barclays Capital in New York, wrote in a note to clients today. “In situations where the government has stepped in, the equity holders have not fared well.”

Emphasis added by me.

Astute readers will notice that with this post, I have “upgraded” CitiGroup from Chronicles of Depression 2.0 to actual Bank Collapse Watch.

On Friday (yesterday), a commentator on CNBC said “CitiGroup is a penny stock.” He said he never thought he’d say such a thing in his life. Hey, what did I warn everyone about earlier this year? It’s all coming to pass now.

Get the big picture. Read The Dimensions Of Our Doom.

Previous CitiGroup posts here (earliest to recent order):

Masters Of Greed Enslaved By Greed — January 12
It’s Sunset In America — January 14
What, You Thought It Was Over? — January 30
CitiGroup Is Sinking — March 4
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #016 — April 3
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #020 — April 8
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #024 — April 11
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #027 — April 13
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #039 — April 18
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #074 — April 30
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #080 — May 1
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #085 — May 6
No Wonder CitiGroup Is In Deep Shit — May 15
Finally! The CitiGroup Layoffs Begin! — June 23
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #141 — July 6
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #154 — July 14
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #159 — July 16
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #160 — July 18
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #161 — July 18
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #164 — July 20
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #170 — July 29
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #184 — August 4
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #213 — September 17
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #223: CitiGroup Blinks — September 23
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #255: Jackals — September 27
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #328: Endgame — October 12
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #342: CitiGroup — October 16
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #362: CitiGroup 2 — October 29
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #412: CitiGroup 3 — November 14
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #415: CitiGroup 4 — November 17
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #422: Cow Chips — November 19
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #424: $1T MOAR! — November 20

Bank Collapse Watch: Three More Go Down

November 22, 2008

Downey Seized, Sold to U.S. Bancorp as Mortgage Fallout Spreads

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) — Seizure and sale of Downey Financial Corp. and two smaller lenders may cost the FDIC more than $2 billion as foreclosures rise and home prices extend declines in the worst housing slump since the Great Depression.

U.S. Bancorp acquired Downey and smaller PFF Bank & Trust, California thrifts crippled by bad mortgages, yesterday in a deal brokered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Community Bank of Loganville, Georgia, was also closed and its $611.4 million of deposits taken over by Bank of Essex in Tappahannock, Virginia.

Regulators this year have closed the most banks since 1993 as mortgage defaults and tightening credit froze markets. The collapse of IndyMac Bancorp Inc. was among the biggest in history, costing the FDIC $8.9 billion. The agency expects Downey’s demise to deplete its Deposit Insurance Fund by $1.4 billion, with PFF costing $700 million and Community $240 million.

Emphasis added by me.

Whoa! Two biggies just went down. Number 8 and 11 on that list I always reference.


These closures weren’t announced until very late Friday (last night), just after I’d closed this blog. These announcements happen on Friday … but now the time is becoming later and later.

Of particular interest:

Downey was fourth biggest seller of option-ARMs, ahead of IndyMac and behind Wachovia, Washington Mutual and Countrywide Financial Corp., now part of Bank of America Corp.

Emphasis added by me.

Do we have a list of the others in the Top Ten of option-ARM sales?

Get the big picture. Read The Dimensions Of Our Doom.

An Entire Site For Free eBooks!

November 22, 2008


eBooks Just Published

Welcome to eBooks Just Published

My name is Mark Gladding and I’m the founder of a small software startup, Tumbywood Software, based in Melbourne, Australia. Over the last couple of years I’ve become an enthusiastic reader of eBooks. During this time I’ve read many books from sites like Project Gutenburg and The Baen Free Library. I’ve also stumbled across gems from the likes of Cory Doctorow (Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town & Little Brother), Bob Walsh (MicroISV Sites that Sell), Stephane Grenier (How to Generate Traffic to Your Website), Seth Godin (Unleashing the Idea Virus), Zen Habits (Zen Habits Handbook) and Steve Jordan (As the Mirror Cracks) to name but a few.

I’ve discovered there’s a lot of great eBooks being published all the time by independent authors. Unfortunately they’re not always that easy to find. Doing a search for ‘new eBooks‘ returns results for a few eBook sites, many of which don’t have new eBooks at all. Instead they are full of expensive, DRM-protected eBooks that are locked to your PC or mobile reader device. There are many reasons why DRM is a bad idea but personally I don’t like DRM because it prevents me from converting my eBooks to speech so I can listen to them on my iPod.

I wanted an easy way to find out about new DRM-free eBooks as they’re released. So I created this site where authors can announce their eBooks and readers like myself can subscribe and keep up to date with all the latest eBook releases.

Well, that trumps my puny efforts at mentioning free eBooks here.

I hope this will grow into a daily go-to site.

The Long Tail: Not Entirely Discredited

November 22, 2008

Anderson downgrades Long Tail to Chocolate Teapot status

“The end came quickly,” as authors of morbid weepies like to say. On Monday WiReD magazine editor Chris Anderson effectively admitted game over for his “Long Tail”, the idea he’s been dragging so lucratively around the conference circuit for the past four years. In as many words, he downgraded it from “the future of business” to something that’s, er, not very helpful for your business at all.

“I’ll end by conceding a point: It’s hard to make money in the Tail,” Anderson wrote. “The revenues are disproportionately in the Head. Perhaps that will never change.”

There is a Long Tail. But it’s many Long Tails.

If someone buys a book by a certain writer and falls in love with it, that person is likely to want the rest of that writer’s work. That writer’s long tail of work. That happened to me with Harlan Ellison, Ayn Rand, and other writers.

The same thing can happen with bands.

The same thing with other entertainment items produced by certain groups or individuals.

There is a Long Tail — just look at Google’s grab of out-of-print books — just not the one originally envisioned as a universally-applicable hypothesis.

Previously here:

More Long Tail Debate
The Long Tail: A Lie?

NaNoWriMo Is For Sissies

November 22, 2008


3-Day Novel Contest

About the International 3-Day Novel Contest

Can you produce a masterwork of fiction in three short days? The 3-Day Novel Contest is your chance to find out. The contest has run every Labour Day Weekend since 1977, and attracts writers from all over the world! It has been responsible for dozens of published novels, thousands of first drafts, countless good ideas and even a reality TV series. It’s a thrill, a grind, and an awesome creative experience. How many crazed plotlines, coffee-stained pages, pangs of doubt and moments of genius will next year’s contest bring forth? And what will you think up under pressure?

Grand Prize: Publication
2nd Prize: $500

The next contest will take place September 5-7, 2009.

Ken Bruen & Jason Starr Interview

November 22, 2008

[CRIME CORNER] Busted: Ken Bruen & Jason Starr Kill The Lone Wolf Enterprise

I’ve always wondered how they came to collaborate on those books. Now I know.

Previously here:

How Writers Write Writing
Writer Ken Bruen Wins Another Reader
Writer Ken Bruen: Fall 2008
Quote: Ken Bruen
NoirCon 2008 Coverage
Quote: Jean Rhys

At the old blog:

Jason Starr’s Got A Short Story For Sale On Amazon
Ken Bruen To Get First David Goodis Award!

Two Books To Read By Michael Muhammad Knight

November 22, 2008

Soft Skull Press tweeted the availability of its Spring 2009 catalog (PDF link) and I went looking through it. I found out about two absolutely sensational novels they’re bringing out. These are must-reads!

The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight

The story here is primarily with the characters — Umar, the straight-edge Sunni; Rabeya, the burqa-clad riot grrl; Jehangir, the dope-smoking mohawked Sufi (who plays rooftop calls-to-prayer on his electric guitar) — and their collective articulation of a heresy-friendly, pluralist Islam. Full of punk references (real and invented) and enough Arabic phrases to fully deck out your skateboard, The Taqwacores is a great introduction to the cracks in the surface of mainstream Islam with a peculiarly American face.

This is a re-issue of a prior edition (different cover).

And there’s a sequel coming! Dig the name!


Osama Van Halen by Michael Muhammad Knight

Get a load of this description:

Amazing Ayyub, an Iranian Shi’ite skinhead, and Rabeya, a burqa-wearing punk, have kidnapped Matt Damon and are holding him hostage. They demand that Hollywood depict Muslims in a positive light — “just one movie where we’re not these two-dimensional al Qaeda stereotypes.” But Damon’s concerned they’re playing into that same terrorist paradigm, thereby furthering the neoconservative perception of Islam.

Meanwhile, Ayyub embarks on a mission to rid the taqwacore scene of a Muslim pop-punk band called Shah 79. Along the way, he makes himself invisible, escapes punk-eating zombies in a mosque off the desert highway, and runs into some psychobilly jinns. Things turn existential when Ayyub finds himself face-to-face with his creator — no, not Allah, but the author.

This riotous journey of enlightenment reads like a religious service for teenagers on Halloween. But it isn’t all raucous fun; written into his own novel, the author finds he is at the mercy of his creation.

And I love this excerpt:

AMAZING AYYUB THE IRANIAN SHIITE SKINHEAD couldn’t have weighed more than a buck-fifty but he had that wiry survival strength like an animal that was always hungry but still had to run and fight and keep its eyes open and never sleep. No fat on his body and no room on his skin for an inch without detail — poor Ayyub was all scars, veins, bones and KARBALA tattoo. No shirt and he drove his van like that same crazed animal, squeezing hard on the wheel, elbows locked, pulling insane but controlled swerves across lanes. He had his Sham 69 coming in loud from the one working speaker and he had those streets owned and riding in back he had Rabeya the punk niqabi sitting on a stolen amp and holding an AK-47 in the direction of a tied-up Matt Damon. Behind Damon hung a Saudi flag with red anarchy sign spray-painted on the kalimah. These were the taqwacores, taqwa-cores who passed the frontiers of all reasonable religion, serving Islam in exile, trying to realize the imams of their inner being while saying fuck all to the rest of it.

According to the wikipedia entry, this is a direct-publishing success story:

Knight originally self-published the novel [The Taqwacores] in a spiral-bound, xeroxed form and gave away copies for free.


I must read these two!


Inter/Re-View: Michael Muhammad Knight on Muslim Punk
Blue-Eyed Devil: An Interview with Michael Muhammad Knight
Hip-Hop linguistics interview with Michael Muhammad Knight
Michael Muhammad Knight wikipedia entry
Michael Muhammad Knight MySpace page
Michael Muhammad Knight Facebook page

How To Market A Book On The Net

November 22, 2008

Getting Great Reviews For Your Book contains within it this essay: How to Get Free Targeted and Sincere Reviews For Your Book.

And within is something so jaw-dropping that I’m going to show a screensnap of it because I think it’s otherwise unbelievable:


Although I applaud her for confessing to that, I still have to ask: Whatever went through her mind to even try that?

I ripped this apart at my old blog: PayPerScum, Like This Shit Is News?, and also in My Response To “10 Things Your Blogger Won’t Tell You”.

Just this very day I got a tweet about a conflict-of-interest at — of all places! — NPR, having to do with the weekly program The Infinite Mind. Here’s The New York Times article.

Never, ever pay for a posting. Never!

There are too many scam sites on the Net as it is trying to lead people astray. To try to market your book that way seems just about criminal to me. How could anyone go through life pointing to vanity reviews as proof of a book’s value? Even with books that get honest excellent reviews, there will be people who disagree.

OK, enough about that.

The remainder of the article provides excellent tips for going about getting real reviews.

One thing I’d add: Have the publisher get some copies to Mini Book Expo for Bloggers.

Lawsuits As Google’s Chess Pieces

November 22, 2008

Google is Done Paying Silicon Valley’s Legal Bills

For most of the decade, Silicon Valley technology startups have assumed that Google would pay their legal bills. Not literally, mind you, but rather by taking on the big, high-profile cases about fair use, interoperability, and other digital intellectual property issues that would set precedents that all disruptive innovators could rely on.

Well, Google just put the Valley on notice that the free ride is over, which means more legal burdens for smaller technology companies that previously depended on Google clearing a path for them.

Go read the rest.

I wondered why Google settled when the Book Search deal was announced.

This seems to explain why.

Writers Using Twitter And Twitter Stuff

November 22, 2008

Guest Blogger: Tracy Marchini on 21 Things an Author Can Do With Twitter — the Comments there are lots of “What? Twitter? What’s that?”

Twitter demystified and debunked — I disagree a bit about the “What are you doing?” because sometimes it’s clearly needed. With people who Follow me, they need to know I’m not ignoring their tweets and letting them know why I’m not replying right now — due to eating, or shower (yes), or a store run — helps. On a bad day, I’ll have three such tweets.

Twitscoop — presents a hypnotic cloud of the most-used keywords on Twitter real-time.

Has anyone compiled a comprehensive list of all the sites that tie into the Twitter API?