Archive for December 1, 2008

Mark Jeffrey Knows Time Travel!

December 1, 2008

I was looking through the Books section of the iTunes App Store this weekend. It’s grown to twenty-four pages (of which sixteen are AppEngines eBooks!).

I came across the icon for Max Quick 2: The Two Travelers by Mark Jeffrey and clicked through to the description.

And was stunned.

First, the gorgeous cover, featuring the time traveler’s touchstone, the iconic Flatiron Building in NYC:

maxquick2cover

And then the part that stunned me. Read this:

maxquick2page

That is wonderful. He knows that the Now of back then is very different than our today Now.

Unlike them, however, my own bit of “time travel” was very pleasurable!

This book will go in my To-Read Endless Queue.

Previously here:

Writer Mark Jeffrey: Video Q&A
Writer Mark Jeffrey: Sony Reader eBooks!
Writer Mark Jeffrey Interview

Free eBook: Dawnthief

December 1, 2008

dawnthiefcoverb

You might have noticed, Christmas is coming. So here at The Book Depository we thought it would be nice to give away another free e-book!

In partnership with Orion, we are giving away a free e-book of James Barclay’s Dawnthief.

Go here.

The Book Depository looks like a very interesting publisher. I hope they’ll go to proper ePub eBooks soon.

— via Twitter from johnottinger (whose blog you should also check out!)

Be Social Like A Disease!

December 1, 2008

Dear Book Marketers, It’s Called SOCIAL Media for a Reason

There are a few book publishing tweeple in the mix however, who just don’t seem to get it. And, maybe not surprisingly, most of these misguided publishing tweeps are book marketing consultants. They twitter early, often, and with robotic regularity, filling my twitterstream hourly with offers for their latest “Top 10 Ways to Promote Your Book!”; generically addressed inquiries such as “Ready to sell your book in bulk?”; and my personal favorite, “Check out these tips for using social media to sell your book!”; always unfailingly followed with a link to their very own promotional website.

I’ve been lucky. I have very few people I Follow like that. They mostly get screened out by me looking at their Twitter page and past tweets.

The dying dinosaurs of print that I Follow, however, are mostly boring.

Listen Only To The Muse, Writers!

December 1, 2008

Publishing 101 for Family and Friends

Often, some of the biggest challenges an author faces aren’t from the crazy publishing industry but from their very own nearest and dearest — their family, friends, and other well-meaning folks who don’t realize that their uninformed comments and suggestions are not only counter-productive, but add even more pressure to an already stressful creative and logistical journey.

An excellent column.

I did a short story ages ago. Passed it around to people I knew.

Turned out being an IQ Test of sorts. The changes/suggestions they made were right out of TV and movies: the most cliche drivel. I never expected it of them.

Now, I’d only let another writer read my stuff.

— via Twitter from BookMarketer

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #453: Bernanke

December 1, 2008

Bernanke: lower interest rates are “feasible”

A student of the Great Depression, Bernanke said the current period of economic woe bears “no comparison in terms of severity” to the 1930s.

I would have liked to have seen the exact quote here.

What did he actually mean?

1) It’s not as bad as the 1930s right now because this is still like 1929

or

2) I’m an incompetent eejit and don’t think things can ever get that bad

Seeing what I posted from him back in January, I’m disinclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #452: -679.95

December 1, 2008

cnndow120108

If I blog in 2009, I won’t be doing Doom.

Because everyone else will.

So I’ll tell you right now: Dow hits 4000s next year.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #451: Now $8.5T!

December 1, 2008

Economic rescue could cost $8.5 trillion

Reporting from Washington — With its decision last week to pump an additional $1 trillion into the financial crisis, the government eliminated any doubt that the nation is on a wartime footing in the battle to shore up the economy. The strategy now — and in the coming Obama administration — is essentially the win-at-any-cost approach previously adopted only to wage a major war.

And that means no hesitation in pledging to spend previously almost unimaginable sums of money and running up federal budget deficits on a scale not seen since World War II.

Indeed, analysts warn that the nation’s next financial crisis could come from the staggering cost of battling the current one.

Just last week, new initiatives added $600 billion to lower mortgage rates, $200 billion to stimulate consumer loans and nearly $300 billion to steady Citigroup, the banking conglomerate. That pushed the potential long-term cost of the government’s varied economic rescue initiatives, including direct loans and loan guarantees, to an estimated total of $8.5 trillion — half of the entire economic output of the U.S. this year.

Emphasis added by me.

Really, why should I comment further? It seems like breath wasted. Just today I read someone declare — with a straight face! — we’re at the “bottom” of this mess and recovery is right around the corner.

More:

Analysts say the current flood of red ink calls into question Obama’s ability to launch programs such as middle-class tax cuts and a healthcare overhaul. In 1993, a deficit only a third the size of next year’s projected $1 trillion prompted President Clinton to abandoned his campaign pledges of tax cuts.

Once the financial crisis eases, higher interest rates and soaring inflation will be risks. If they materialize, they could dramatically increase the government’s borrowing costs to meet its annual debt payments. For consumers, borrowing could become more expensive even as the price of everyday items rise, holding back economic growth.

“We could have a super sub-prime crisis associated with the meltdown of the federal government,” warned David Walker, president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former head of the Government Accountability Office.

Emphasis added by me.

In other words: USA-Zimbabwe.

More:

Washington could wind up spending substantially less than the sum of the commitments. Though the total estimated cost of the government’s efforts adds up to $8.5 trillion, only about $3.2 trillion has been tapped, according to an analysis by Bloomberg.

And not all the money committed is direct spending. About $5.5 trillion in loan guarantees and other financial backing by the Federal Reserve is included in the total.

“The only way those commitments would become obligations would be if the economy completely collapsed, in which case it’s a whole new ballgame anyway,” said John Steele Gordon, a business and economic historian.

Emphasis added by me.

Except in a ballgame, people don’t starve to death.

And, oh, that $8.5T? That’s only us. I’ve yet to see someone add up what’s been spent in Iceland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, China, etc, etc.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #450: Toast

December 1, 2008

‘Gone, Over, Toast.’

It’s interesting how short-sighted many so-called experts are when it comes to understanding the pace and path of forces swirling through the economy.

Even when it was apparent to everyone that the bubble had burst in housing, for example, some forecasters were predicting that municipal finances would not be seriously affected.

Aside from wishful thinking, one reason for the cognitive dissonance appeared to stem from the fact that people were not getting immediate reports from state and local officials that budgets were being wracked by falling revenues and rising costs.

Yet that should not have been a surprise to anyone. There are in-built delays, such as the time it takes to build a house or the grace period allowed for tax receipts to be remitted to authorities, that would postpone the moment of reckoning for months — or longer.

The same holds true in terms of the state of the overall economy. The optimists seem to be saying that since today’s data are not so bad, fears about a serious downturn are overblown.

Financial Armageddon blog frames a post from another blog that takes on a very silly column Peggy Noonan recently published in the Wall Street Journal. I was going to rip the idiocy of that column to shreds, but now that it’s been done, it’d seem like Me-Too.

I continue to be amazed at the breadth and depth of absolute stupidity out there in regard to our continuing worldwide financial destruction.

It seems you lot are expecting a movie/TV-like scenario: The stock market crashes and smash-cut to breadlines.

Do any of you understand how disease develops? It doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t catch a cold and know it within seconds. By the time the symptoms are noticed, you’re in the full-blown cold already.

Do you think you wake up one day with cancer? That cancer took months, if not years, to develop to the point where there’s a prominent lump or image on a medical scan.

It’s incredible, this idiocy: “Show me the misery!” — as if it was like “Show me the money!”

When it’s finally right in your face and your company is closing down and you’ve lost your job and find out sending out a thousand resumes nets you nothing, then you’ll all finally get all a-scared and weepy and Oh Poor Me!

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #449: USA-Zimbabwe

December 1, 2008

Bernanke and the risk of deflation

The Federal Reserve recently acknowledged that the risk of deflation in the US, though still small, has grown. Is policy correctly aligned to confront this risk? Not yet.

With Japan as an example, nobody should need reminding that deflation is a uniquely dangerous prospect – but here is a refresher. Persistently falling prices increase the inflation-adjusted burden of debt. Insupportable debts are the core of the US economy’s difficulties. If that burden grows even heavier because of falling prices, the contractionary forces will strengthen. The economy will slow further, the deflationary pressure will increase again, debts will become more burdensome, and so on. Since interest rates cannot fall to less than zero, monetary policy cannot follow inflation all the way down. This makes the deflationary circle difficult to break. Nothing is more important than preventing the economy from toppling into it.

Emphasis added by me.

Here is the very important and scare-the-shit-out-of-you bit:

For a prudent central banker, unalloyed monetising of the deficit is the last taboo – this, after all, is Zimbabwe’s idea of monetary policy. But in this remarkably perilous situation, the prohibition must be set aside, and better that this should happen before deflation has set in and entrenched itself. Do it now, and make it plain you are doing it. If it makes analysts and commentators complain about the inflationary consequences, so much the better: the aim is partly to buoy expectations of inflation.

Emphasis added by me.

At this point, I have zero confidence in Bernanke. I have zero confidence in Paulson.

I have zero confidence — already! — in the Economic Recovery Team President-elect Obama has assembled. Underneath that new lip gloss is the same old pig of economic orthodoxy. They were all educated in the “groupthink” Obama declares he doesn’t want to get trapped in.

They will go for the Zimbabwe Option.

By 2011, we’ll all wish for death.

There is only one way out of this and the first six months of the Obama Administration should be dedicated to making it happen.

Previously here:

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #445: Zimbabwe 2
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #373: Zimbabwe

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #448: Your Plastic 3

December 1, 2008

Meredith Whitney was the first person — within Wall Street — to express skepticism about CitiGroup.

Now she’s worried about consumer credit.

America must keep consumer liquidity flowing

First, I am more bearish today than I have been in the past 18 months. In so far as the market has impacted on the economy, capital destruction has been so intense that multi-trillions in capital raised by institutions through both private and public capital has gone to plug holes and not stabilise the effects of shrinking liquidity to corporations and consumers. More than $3,000bn (€2,365bn, £1,955bn) of available credit has been expunged from the markets and therefore corporate and consumer borrowers so far this year.

Emphasis added by me.

If you can’t parse it, $3,000B = $3 trillion.

Here’s the consumer credit bit:

Fourth, amend the proposal on Unfair and Deceptive Lending Practices that is set to be adopted in 2010. The proposal includes one major change that will lead to a severe unintended consequence – pulling credit from consumers. Restricting lenders’ ability to reprice an unsecured loan will cause them to stop lending or to lend less. This change could cut over $2,000bn in unused credit card lines, or over 40 per cent of unused credit lines. With so many Americans relying on their credit cards as a major source of liquidity, it would be equivalent to a major pay cut.

Emphasis added by me.

If that’s still too opaque, there’s a clearer and shorter article here:

Credit card industry may cut $2 trillion of lines: analyst

(Reuters) – The U.S. credit card industry may pull back well over $2 trillion of lines over the next 18 months due to risk aversion and regulatory changes, leading to sharp declines in consumer spending, prominent banking analyst Meredith Whitney said.

The credit card is the second key source of consumer liquidity, the first being jobs, the Oppenheimer & Co analyst noted.

“In other words, we expect available consumer liquidity in the form or credit-card lines to decline by 45 percent.”

Emphasis added by me.

What is not being discussed: What about all those pre-pay “credit cards” with their criminal fees? Will they disappear too? I haven’t seen any articles written about them.

Previously here:

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #281: Your Card 2
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #273: Your Card
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #247: Plastic