Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Recessions Suck

The good part of being in a recession is that when everybody is having a hard time, the feeling of individual failure is diminished.

Yes, I really had to reach for that one.

Being a small business owner, I'm not too big to fail. In fact, it appears that I'm just about the perfect size. Nobody has offered me a bailout yet. But I'm keeping my cell phone in my pocket just in case.

President Bush supposedly once said that the problem with the French was that they didn't have a word for Entrepreneur. I'm not sure if that's true, but as an entrepreneur I can tell you that America's professed love for us small business types is little more than a summer fling. Where's the love now that times are hard? I'm not feeling it.

I got to lay off eight people yesterday. That was pretty miserable for all of us. Where is our bailout? How about a Small Business Administration emergency loan program? Nada, zip, zero.

What this country really needs is a consumer based bail out.


Let everybody refinance their house for what they owe on it with a new 30 year fixed at 6%. No qualifying, no appraisals, no credit scores. This will allow anyone who can beg, borrow or steal their monthly payment to keep their house. And most people will find a way.

The second piece of this ingenious plan is to let everybody consolidate all of their non-mortgage debt into a big consolidation loan for 10 years at 10%. Again, no qualifying!

The government can insure the loans and mortgages and charge a fee for the insurance that the consumer pays. This is already happening somewhat with FHA refinances, but not enough. We need to let everybody refinance. It will stabilize housing prices as well as credit card issuing banks.

And being who we are, we'll all go out and start spending like drunken sailors again, saving capitalism for another day.

Write your congressman today!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gas and Oil Go Together Like a Lance and Boil

ATL gas is at $1.75.

AND . . . Oil is less than $55.00.

It is fuel for a recovery!
My old pal Mitt wrote a great piece for the NYT saying that GM et al should go through Chapter 11 if they want a bail out. Hear hear! Read it HERE. Go ahead. It's not as boring as it sounds. Mitt can write, too!

Mitt knows Money!

Have you noticed that Mitt is way smarter than Sarah Palin? I wonder if little old John McCain has noticed? Mitt for Treasury!!!!

The poet in John's heart.

Onward to Senior Statesman status!

Regrets, I've had a few . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is This True?

Oct 05, 2008The Norwegian newspaper VG has reported a truly amazing story about a newly-wed trying to get to Norway to be with her husband, and the stranger who helped pay an unexpected luggage surcharge. The blog "Leisha's Random Thoughts" has translated the story.It was 1988, and Mary Andersen was at the Miami airport checking in for a long flight to Norway to be with her husband when the airline representative informed her that she wouldn't be able to check her luggage without paying a 100 surcharge:When it was finally Mary’s turn, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.-You’ll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.-I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.As tears streamed down her face, she heard a "gentle and friendly voice" behind her saying, "That's okay, I'll pay for her."Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.-He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.-He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.Who was the man?Barack Obama.Twenty years later, she is thrilled that the friendly stranger at the airport may be the next President and has voted for him already and donated 100 dollars to his campaign:-He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary, smiling.She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker* in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.Mary even convinced her parents to vote for him:In the spring of 2006 Mary’s parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.And Obama replied:In a letter to Mary’s parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped ‘United States Senate, Washington DC’, Barack Obama writes:‘I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I’m happy I could help back then, and I’m delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States Senator’.The parents sent the letter on to Mary.Mary says that when her friends and associates talk about the election, especially when race relations is the heated subject, she relates the story of the kind man who helped out a stranger-in-need over twenty years ago, years before he had even thought about running for high office.Truly a wonderful story, and something that needs to be passed along in the maelstorm of fear-and-smear politics we are being subjected to right now.UPDATE: Thanks for the recommends, folks! Also, remember this was 1988, when 100 dollars was quite a bit of money, compared to today's value.By the way, this would be the perfect antidote to the Smear E-mails going around. If anyone has a good long email chain list, shoot it out, and let it be passed along.
Posted by Miss Caldonia at 7:13 PM
Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 17, 2008

Giving Money to Addicts

Ever since Ross Perot ran for President, I've just loved charts.

Bad news, well presented.

Amid the world-wide economic turmoil, my own private economic meltdown has been keeping me occupied, at the expense of this blog. But in the past few days some positive signs have got me feeling better! Still, actual cash would be even more appreciated.
Among our favorite columnists today, Billy "William" Kristol, legacy Harvard PhD and writer for either the Weekly Standard or the New York Times, or both, seems on the verge of some actual soul searching regarding conservatives' obsession with so-called "free" markets. Of course, a conservative's idea of a free market isn't really "free" at all. It is all dependent on various government constructs and police enforcement of made-up property rights. Take away those government interferences and we'll see a real free market. But that would be too scary.
Kristol hints at a rethinking of the innumerable and very obvious misconceived premises of recent economic thinking. Perhaps he is responding to an inadvertent personal glimpse of real life he's recently experienced, and realized that not all of us enjoy cradle to grave economic security. That real people suffer real consequences when jobs are lost. Or maybe he's just thinking in terms of realpolitik, that a cold and hungry Reagan Democrat will become a cold and hungry New Deal Democrat pretty quickly.

Hmmm. Squeezing my head makes my brain work better.

For these conservatives, letting the homos get married suddenly doesn't seem to matter quite so much when their money is swirling down the drain.

Of course, I don't know William Kristol. He seems pleasant enough on tv. But he's influential. And his public voice has helped lead public opinion of the elites that read the two rags he writes for down the wrong paths for several years now. So he deserves some serious criticism.

Likewise Alan Greenspan. I was stunned when he testified to Congress that he was surprised that banks and financial institutions did not "institutionally" impose more actively conservative risk management policies in their investments. Is he kidding? Can he possibly be that naive? The word "stupid" is in my head, but that can't be right. Can it? The folks who run these places are there to make money. For themselves. Did he not get that?

Oops. Sorry.

Markets are made of people. Institutions are made of people. People are not rational. People are selfish. People have agendas. Loyalty to their employer is way down the priority list, if on it at all, for most people. Investment executives are in their positions to "drive personal wealth." Their own. That is why executive pay, like structured financial deals, should ideally "align interests" of all the stakeholders involved. Of course, this doesn't happen that often. BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE AGENDAS! So, they negotiate unobvious advantages for themselves into deals. Advantages like shifting all the risk to the sucker who provides the money. Thanks to the various recent bailouts, that sucker is now us. Thank you Congress!
I'm glad we learned from that Iraq War fiasco not to let fear rush us into imprudent action. These bailouts are obviously well thought out. What's the exit strategy again?

Free markets are a myth. We need fair and honest markets.
Banks and corporations are government creatures. Being government creatures makes these institutions subject to government restrictions. This doesn't have to cost a lot or even involve a lot of regulation. We can do it the conservative way, by unregulating!

Want to ease the pain of AIG's exposure to credit default swaps? Pass a law that the government will not enforce or aid in the enforcement of any credit default swap that was not given under applicable insurance regulations and has a proven insurable interest. Hah! What would happen then? I don't know because I can't find that anybody has modeled the results of this scenario. But it seems pretty obvious that nobody has modeled what is going to happen by having our civil courts available to enforce these illegal insurance contracts, and to pour hundreds of billions of tax dollars into AIG to honor them. That we are doing this without understanding the consequences, good or bad, is just plain crazy.

I do not want my taxes used for this. This is one screwed up mess.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


This is the first time in my life that I have ever seen an election cause people to dance in the streets.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

OMG He's Really Really Old

Oh My God!

It has only just now occurred to me that Sarah Palin could actually end up being President of the United States.

It doesn't seem like the kind of thing that should be real.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Make Your Own Sarah Palin Joke Day!

Check out Sarah's socialist scarf!

Wearing other people's clothes

You know it's a recession when even the Governor wears donated clothes.

Sorry, but that's all I have time for.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Black Silver Lining

I love a good chart:

Oil is literally half the price it was just 3 months ago. This is great news for a couple of reasons.

First, of course, is that our gas is already costing us less. And we like that.

Second, and far more importantly, it shows a dramatic shift in pricing power out of the hands of oil producers (i.e. OPEC) and into the hands of oil consumers (i.e. you and me). We have shown (albeit unintentionally) that conservation measures that reduce demand for oil can have a huge impact on the market price. And pricing power is real power.

So, what do we do with that kind of power? Beats me, but the only man with a plan who I see out there beating the drum is T. Boone. So I'm with him.

Go Rotary!

But whatever we do we should do it soon. Circumstances will continue to change with time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Presidential "What If" Scenarios

Section 3 of the 20th Amendment:

Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

Electoral College members meet in each of their respective states to cast their votes on December 15, 2008.

The votes of the Electors are then officially tallied and certified before Congress on January 9, 2009. Members of Congress may object to this certification.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why I Don't Like Mondays

NPR - I remember when NPR had their pledge drives and we would buy the stupid apron or whatever because they played classical music and read books on the radio and didn't have commercials. Now they have lots of commercials, but the pledge drives continue, and they seem to get more obnoxious every year. So on my way to work I switch to Don Imus, who is obnoxious and has lots of commercials but doesn't insult my intelligence the way NPR does. BTW, the I-Man is on 106.7 here in ATL, which bills itself, without a trace of irony, as "Atlanta's True Oldies channel."


Microsoft - I was forced to be the only one in my office to "upgrade" to MS Office 2007 a few months ago, after foolishly "updating" my PC with Servicepack 3 for Windows XP. Are you asleep yet? So, Servicepack 3 blows up my computer, a Hewlett Packard. Schlepping it down to Geek Squad, I'm told that this is the 4th Servicepack 3 blow up they've received that day. (I'll skip the part where I do the exact same thing again the following week.) So anyway, I can't get MS Office 2003 put back onto the PC because we can't find the correct disk (even though my office has several) with the right serial number or something, so I have to buy MS Office 2007. What a piece of crap. Basically they moved all of the buttons and controls around so they are hard to find and simple tasks require several more "clicks" than they used to. So, right now I'm taking this mental health break to blog (and vent) because I've just spent about 15 minutes failing to figure out how to add a worksheet to a spreadsheet I'm working on that was due last week.

Waste of money

Major League Baseball - An umpire calls a third strike on a checked swing with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the 8th inning of ALCS game 7? Are you kidding me?

Hear, Hear!

Milk - I get to the office and pour a cup of coffee, get the milk out of my fridge with an expiration date four days from now, and you guessed it . . . sour. WTF?

And it's not even nine o'clock yet.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Random Thoughts

Bush Responds to the Economic Crisis:

The Nation is comforted

Notable Quotes:

The I-Man is back!

Donald Trump phoning into the Don Imus show this morning, calls George W. Bush, "the worst President in our country's history." Such insight.

The Donald - always classy

W - The Tragicomedy

Neil Boortz on the radio this afternoon describes Barack Obama and other unnamed politicians who want to raise taxes as "slavemasters."

Boortz with Falwell
This picture actually flatters both of them

Barry Oh! - The Master
Presidential Debate Review:
Well, as usual I fell asleep listening to the talking points regurgitation during the Great Debate. But I did catch the Joe the plumber discussion, which was, obviously, pathetic. But apparently newsworthy, since everyone on the tv is still talking about it. It turns out that Joe's real name is Sam, which is an understandable mistake since McCain's fact checkers are all in Alaska vetting Sarah Palin.

Johnny Mac - The Disastah

Sam "Joe the plumber" Wurzelbacher

You really have to just love saying the name "Wurzelbacher." Try it. It's fun! What is a Wurzelbacher? A brand of bratwurst? An organ? A toy that spins? An unlicensed plumber?

Oprah's Baloney: I'm sorry, but I'm not buying this story An Overwhelmed Mom's Deadly Mistake where the premise that a woman who left her 2 year old in the car all day isn't responsible for the tragedy. She was just trying too hard to be perfect and please other people. Now she wants to not let her little girl's "life be in vain." So she is on Oprah, saying, "Almost immediately, I said, 'How am I going to make something out of this?' "

Not my fault

Go Red Sox!

Proud Red Sox Mom

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday Quick Numbers

As of Today:

BRENT CRUDE FUTR (USD/bbl.) - 75.030
WTI CRUDE FUTURE (USD/bbl.) - 79.350

GAS - Georgia October 14th:
Regular $3.20 (Last week: $3.72)
Premium $3.51 (Last week: $4.08)
Last year: $2.69 / $2.96

Unemployment Rate: 6.1% in Sep 2008

Inflation - 5.4%

Dow Jones Industial - 9,311

Weird McCain Prayer

HERE is a video with a soundtrack.

HERE is a woman just reading the weird part.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is That A Bell?

I believe I see the bottom today.
They say it's hard to tell,
and they don't ring a bell.
But with futures turning green,
And cheaper gasoline,
The central bank's guarantees have calmed their colleagues' unease,
So they'll feel comfort in lending away.
Happy Columbus Day!
So, is the recovery here? Maybe. Let's at least enjoy the respite. How? Well, by singing show tunes, of course. It's free! So, here's a song for all of us little people who have been waiting for the big shots to get their act together.
Ding Dong! The Witch is dead.
Which old Witch?
The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up - sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead.
She's gone where the goblins go,
Below - below - below.
Yo-ho, let's open up and sing, and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know The Wicked Witch is dead!

We should all break even by 2017!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Someone Has To Just Say It

Sarah Palin is an ignorant, hate mongering, dangerous racist.
That sentence could have been a lot longer.
She is obviously unfit to be Vice President of the United States.
The people of Alaska should be ashamed they elected her Governor.
I am ashamed that she is partly defining our national political debate.

"Our opponent though, is someone who sees America it seems as being so imperfect that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country?" - Governor Sarah Palin

It could really happen here.

Sarah's muse - Westbrook Pegler, who was kicked out of the John Birch Society for being too extreme and anti-Semitic, quoted by Palin in her Republican Convention acceptance speech:

"We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity." I know just the kind of people that writer had in mind when he praised Harry Truman.I grew up with those people. They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America ... who grow our food, run our factories, and fight our wars.They love their country, in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America. I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town.

Good Old Westie - No Jews for him

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Glimmers of Hope

Crude Oil prices as of this morning:

BRENT CRUDE FUTR (USD/bbl.) 78.800

WTI CRUDE FUTURE (USD/bbl.) 82.280

Side note - These are both prices for one barrel of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). Brent is from the North Sea, north of Scotland and WTI is from Texas. Both are considered "sweet crudes" meaning lower sulfer content, which makes refining cheaper and yields more gasoline per barrel. Generally, WTI (West Texas Intermediate) has been considered the "benchmark" price that you will hear newsies quote when they give a single price for oil in their reports.

This is good news for lots of reasons. First because there will be more money in your pocket after gassing the car, but also because the trend is declining, which means supply is exceeding demand and the price will continue downward.

So, I'd say it's too early to give up all hope.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Are We At Zero Yet?

Glimmer of Hope Alert:

Ben Bernanke's weekend (again with the weekends) coordination of world-wide central bankers all lowering interest rates for banks and providing a federal guarantee on commercial paper has unlocked the cp market. Of course, it wasn't really "locked" so much as rates just went up. With Bernanke's Backstop (I just made that up!) the risk and rate for cp are now down, so hopefully (ha ha) our companies will all be able to make payroll this month.

Banker Ben - Man with a thankless job

Am I the only one who hears the begging of the question as to why so many US companies need to be able to sell commercial paper to make payroll?

Oil Prediction Tracker - Almost to $80 well before November 1st.

What's a Copyright?

Meanwhile, mysterious Barack Hussein Castro Lenin "Benedict Arnold" Obama is scheduled to whip Johnny McCain's droopy white ass and become the 44th President of the United States. Let's hope so. At what point will our national stupidity be exceeded by our collective will to live?

But let's not count our chickens before they hatch. Republicans are a scrappy bunch, and continue to defy expectations. I don't think anybody in their wildest dreams thought they could possibly screw things up any more than they they had, but just look at us now! And it just keeps on coming! Looks like the "battleground states" will be Pennsylvania and Florida, the two oldest states by average age of their citizens. Those Florida contests are always fun to watch. And of course, the panhandle is Maverick Country.

We should be so lucky.

On to planning for next year . . .

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday Morning Quick Thoughts

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act Passed!!!


This will allow us taxpayers to prop up those financial institutions in our society that are unsound for 3 more months, before they inevitably fail anyway. Yay!!!

At only $700 Billion, with 90 million actual US taxpayers, that's about $7,777 per taxpayer.

Such a deal!

For you good, simple, small town Republican folks, this is what's known as "throwing good money after bad."

For you gamblers in Vegas, this is called "doubling down."

For you financial wheeler dealers, this is called a "golden opportunity" to grab some free money.

For you folks who actually pay taxes, this is called "getting screwed."
But thank goodness the crisis is over!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pajama Man's Random Thoughts and Vocabulary

Nothing about Wall Street here today!

Sarah Palin and I differ in at least one important respect. I almost never read newspapers anymore. I read newspaper websites. Mostly the New York Times, because it's free, and because I like their columnists. "Like" may be a strong word for some of them, especially Kristol.
But, I must give props to the San Jose Mercury News, which was one of the very first newspapers to have a free on-line edition back in the mid 90's. It's hard to realize now that the internet used to be largely free of business sites and advertising.

Back to the NYT, it is with the NYT columnists or pundits or whatever they call themselves these days that I sort of enjoy a love-annoyance relationship because of their obvious, intentional affection for injecting esoteric words into their columns. Love, because it is fun to look up words and learn something. Sometimes it's a word that I've heard for years and maybe even used myself, without knowing exactly what it really meant. Other times it's something completely new. Annoyance, because having to stop and look up a word interrupts the flow of reading the column and the thought process of absorbing it.

I look them up on Merriam-Webster.com, because it, also, is free.

Here are some recent samples. First, from David Brooks, yesterday, describing members of Congress who voted No on you-know-what.

nihilist - a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility

And here's one from Moe Dowd, describing William F. Buckley, a brilliant and gentlemanly conservative that liberals, like me, could not help but like.

sesquipedalian - given to or characterized by the use of long words

William F. Buckley - 1965

Moving on - Fall is Here!

Reflections on the water like shadows in my mind
Speak to me of passing days and nights and passing time
The falling leaves are whispering winters on its way
I close my eyes remembering the warmth of yesterday
It seems a shame to see September swallowed by the winter
And more than that its oh so sad to see the summer end
And though the changing colors are a lovely thing to see
If it were mine to make the change I'd let it be
But I dont remember hearing anybody asking me

Well it's time to make seasonal adjustments. For me, that means pajamas, aka pyjamas. Which I wear. Almost every night. In the winter I wear flannel pajamas. That's cotton flannel, which I know is technically flannelette, but who really cares. My wife buys me one new pair each year to wear on Christmas Eve. And, since I tend to save my clothes for a very long time, I have about ten pairs of flannel pajamas now. They take up a lot of drawer space. But they never seem to wear out. And boy are they comfortable.

Even in the summer I will wear light weight cotton pajama bottoms with a tee shirt. Often the tee shirt is an actual undershirt. I favor white V-necks, slightly large and loose fitting.

Growing up in the 1970's I rarely wore pajamas. They were viewed as goofily out of style. Reminiscent of Fred MacMurray in a full robe and slippers get-up, smoking a pipe or heating a glass of pre-bedtime warm milk on the stove. Nothing so stuffy for us cool kids at the tail end of 60's hipness or the dawning blow-dried 70's. PJ's were out. They did not seem to be something that real people, or at least real men, really wore.

So, what did one wear to bed? Ann Landers famously pronounced that it was perfectly respectable to sleep in the nude. She further delared that wearing underwear beneath pajamas was silly. So, sleeping au naturel became a cool, albeit private, fashion statement to publicly declare, whether true or not. It conveyed a sense, not of a tight clothing budget or questionable hygeine or a lack of air conditioning, but rather a sense of sophistication and self confidence that one was comfortable in their own skin. And not afraid to be seen in it.

Me, I dressed for comfort. During the high energy costs of the late 70's and early 80's I slept in as little as possible in my un-air conditioned, sweltering quarters during the hot months, and bundled up in sweat pants, turtle necks, and wool socks during the cold winter months. Now, with oil DOWN to $95 a barrel today, those days of bundling up may just be coming back.

Flannel Pajamas are almost always plaid

Really, those days weren't so bad. We managed to have a lot of fun. And snuggling up in a warm bed on a cold day can feel positively luxurious.

Grammer question for today: Is the plural of pair "pairs" or "pair?"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Running on Empty

I am against the Bail Out.

And I'll tell you why. If somebody asks me for $700 Billion they better be able to articulate to me why they need it, what they are going to do with it, how they are going to pay it back, and (very importantly) why they are asking ME.

I have been paying as much attention to this fiasco as any other average citizen, and I have not heard a rational explanation of why this . . . whatever it is . . . is necessary.

No explanation = no money.

What I am able to glean is that over the past several years our financial system has veered into excessive risk taking through 2 channels, i) lowering standards for evaluating borrower's creditworthiness, and ii) lenders using imprudently high leverage to increase profits. So, now that the chickens have come home to roost (ha ha), we are seeing the 2 inevitable results, i) bad borrowers defaulting on their loans, and ii) over-leveraged lenders unable to withstand rising defaults on their portfolios because of their paper thin balance sheets.

I know it's more complicated than that. But I'm not a PhD and I don't have the time, or the ability, to spend trying to educate myself now when Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke are screaming that they need this money like yesterday. The hurry! hurry! hurry! of it all reminds me of being on a sales tour at a timeshare resort. So my instinct is to keep my wallet in my pants. (That's good advice generally, btw.)

Well, I found a smart guy who has articulated my feelings on the matter, Jeffrey A. Miron, an economist at Harvard. He explains why he's against the Bail Out in a short and easily readable opinion piece HERE at CNN.com.


Lehman's Brother - Cooper Lehman

Meanwhile, back on Main Street:

Wall Street may be out of money, but Atlanta is out of gas.

At least we all get along here

There is no gas here. All of the gas stations have plastic bags over the handles of their pumps to signal that they are empty. Why? Because Texas had a big storm. Sighhhhhhh. Put two oil geniuses in the White House and what do we get? No redundancy in our vital infrastructure. Rumor is that the Port Arthur refinery is still not working because there is no electrical power to it. Can that be true? A refinery that doesn't have it's own generators? Talk about poor defense planning.

In the category of counting the glass half full, having no gas has gotten people to stop complaining about how much it costs once they are able to find some.


Of course, we Georgians are still running out of drinking water, but we've suspended our fretting about that to deal with this more imminent crisis of not being able to get to the grocery store.

Lake Lanier - Atlanta's Water Supply

I can't wait for the weekend.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Day The Music Stopped

Banks For Sale - Cheap!!!

Good morning America. All the banks have gone crazy. Make sure you have cash on hand in case the ATM networks decide to play it safe and restrict access to your bank's accounts.

Tough day to be a banker.

BTW, does anybody else see some dark irony in the inability of insurance giant AIG to manage it's own risk?

ANYWAY, I really don't know how this mess all got started, but it has to end. At the bottom of the mess is the credit crunch in housing. This is what is killing Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers and other investment banks. At least that's what we used to call them. I believe they are all just "financial institutions" now, thanks to a law called Gramm-Leach-Bliley or GLB.

That's Gramm as in Phil "Mental Recession" Gramm, the smiling fellow on the left in the picture below. Phil was a senatorial whore for the banking industry back in the day, and so pushed through GLB to repeal the old Glass-Steagall Act, which was passed back in 1933 to prevent another Great Depression caused by the collapse of our banks. I think we can all see what a great idea this was, and we should thank Phil accordingly. He's from Texas, you know, where the death penalty is enthusiastically enforced.

Old Boys Network

So, GLB got rid of the separation of banks, investment firms, and insurance companies. Now they could all merge into giant "financial institutions" that, it turns out, are "too big to fail." But fail they do, and tax money is used to prop them up.

Guess who voted for this brilliant idea! Republicans! Really. Check out the vote right here and see it split along party lines. Bill Clinton signed it though. Another nail in his legacy coffin.

Sandy Weill

What prompted all of this? Businessmen like Sandy Weill, who seems to have been president of most of Wall Street at one time or another, hired Gerald Ford and Robert Rubin and other lobbyists to push congress to dismantle Glass-Steagall. And it worked! Sandy even got an early exemption to pretend that the law didn't exist for 5 years before it was repealed, during which time he merged Traveler's Group with Citibank to form the world's largest financial institution. Wow! Impressive, but bad.

John McCain voted for the repeal. Joe Biden voted against it.

BTW, Glass and Steagall - both Democrats.

Senator Carter Glass

Congressman Henry B. Steagall