TLP: Even the People Who Still Buy It Don't Read It

media advertising
It can't be a good sign when you publish a magazine for rich people and rich people don't buy it. That's the story with Town & Country, slick and glossy and now hurting.

NYT (which still pulls ad dollars and a good demographic):

According to GfK Mediamark Research & Intelligence, the main demographics research firm for magazines, Town & Country’s readers have a median annual income of just $61,614, putting it just ahead of readers of Dirt Rider, but trailing Good Housekeeping, Cooking With Paula Deen and Four Wheeler.

Editorially, the Hearst magazine has never won an award from the American Society of Magazine Editors, and the last time it was nominated was 1999. Its newsstand sales dropped about 36 percent from 2005 to 2009.

The magazine relies on luxury ads, and it took a beating as many luxury companies halted print advertising. Its ad pages fell 45.6 percent from 2008 to 2009, worse than almost any other luxury magazine, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
Trailing Four Wheeler and Cooking With Paula Deen is not in the Hearst business plan for T&C. And they have to be kidding with this online presence. New editor Stephen Drucker promises changes, but doesn't seem to know exactly what those will be. Who will get covered to make things more exciting for readers? “I’m not leaving anyone out,” he told the NYT. “It’s not about judgment; it’s about saying, ‘This is worth noting, or observing.’ ”

Better figure that out, Dirt Rider is closing in.


Bank of Canada's Mark Carney Pwns Every Other Central Banker Who Has Ever Opened His Mouth

Monday, May 31, 2010 , 0 Comments

pic credit: banksy

Sorry, every other central banker except one.

See The virtue of productivity in a wicked world, remarks to the Ottawa Economics Association March 24, 2010. I cried. I cried and then I cursed my awful fortune for being stuck with Bernanke's dry dull ass.

The cognoscenti wearily deride these shortcomings even while they acknowledge their importance. After all, who really wants to talk about getting old? Similarly, the subject of productivity is described as too dull, or worse, too threatening for Canadians. It is said to imply working harder, not smarter, or to promote job losses rather than income gains. These debates are thus thought best confined to the policy wonks, in order that our diagnoses and prescriptions can occur in a parallel, forgotten universe.

However, one wonders, who would not want to be productive in their work? Is there a child whom we do not want to reach his or her full potential? Could what Canadians expect of their economy be so very different from what they expect of themselves?

Our ambitions for the Canadian economy should be bold. We are a country of immense strengths and, as demonstrated during the recent crisis, considerable resilience. Yet Canada does underperform. We are not as productive as we could be. Our potential growth is slowing. Moreover, this is occurring as the very nature of the global economy, in which we previously thrived, is under threat. This debate can no longer be avoided.

What, then, must be done?

Hint: laziness is not his answer.

Thump thump, I think I have a new central banker crush.


The Fed's Two Chucks Cower at Eurozone Contagion

Even though neither Evans nor Plosser have really vocally contested the Fed's continued commitment to cheap, easy money, they somehow felt compelled to reiterate their feelings over the weekend, this time blaming Europe. First it was the fragility of the U.S. "recovery", then continued unemployment, then trouble in commercial real estate then the boogeyman assraping unicorns under their beds... whatever it takes, right?

Business Week:

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans indicated that the European sovereign debt crisis will prompt the U.S. central bank to delay raising interest rates.

Evans told reporters in Seoul today that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Fed’s policy of keeping rates low “gets extended just a little bit.” Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, who is attending the same event, said separately that “how the crisis in Europe ends up affecting the economy will dictate how we will respond.”

No no, former #2 favorite Fedhead, that's not how it should work. Of course, the Fed can't keep the fire hose pointed towards Europe while simultaneously maintaining a commitment to higher interest rates that more accurately reflect a normal economy.


TLP: Sometimes, It's Just Really Better Not To Know

Monday, May 31, 2010 , , 0 Comments

foreign aid liberiacrack ex-presidential legal team

A lot of what the federal government spends money on can seem stupid, wasteful and maddening. But most of the time, those things are right in front of our faces. Sometimes, where the money goes is a huge WTF?

The New York Times reports from Liberia:

How much money did Charles G. Taylor, the deposed president of Liberia, siphon out of his destitute, war-shattered country, and where is it?

For almost seven years, since an international warrant was issued for his arrest, the search has stretched from the mangrove swamps and diamond fields of West Africa to Swiss banks and shell corporations — a state-of-the-art version of the sweeping asset hunts that have accompanied the fall of autocrats since the shah of Iran’s demise in the 1970s.

Investigators have crawled in the dirt under porches and buildings in this impoverished capital to seek out financial records. They have confronted bankers and government officials on four continents. They have cross-referenced mazes of documents charting the transfer of millions of dollars into and out of dozens of accounts.

But they have come up dry for any money in Mr. Taylor’s name. In fact, four years ago, Mr. Taylor was classified as “partially indigent” by the Special Court for Sierra Leone at The Hague, where he is charged with instigating murder, mutilation, rape and sexual slavery during intertwined wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone that claimed more than 250,000 victims from 1989 to 2003.

That has left donor nations — the United States being the largest — to cover his monthly $100,000 legal bill and the broader costs of his $20 million trial.
Don't you love the phrasing — "donor nations" — and the fact that, of course, it's the United States that is paying most of that $100k monthly nut (for what, four years so far?) and the trial expenses?

Something tells me Charles G. Taylor, late of the Liberian presidential palace, isn't the only alleged scammer in West Africa.


The Deflationistas Go to Europe

Look out, it's deflation OMG!!


TLP: Reporter Tells You What Reporters Do While Waiting for Obama

Sunday, May 30, 2010 , , 1 Comments

obama media pool
The last time The Lazy Paperboy wrote about the annoying media habit of talking about the media covering an event as a way to turn the media into the story, he used the phrase "public masturbation." Now, if he had consulted Jr Deputy Accountant about his terminology, she no doubt would have schooled him a bit on keywords and what can follow. Let's just say the interest has not flagged. (Third! Thanks, disturbed Googlers!)

So, it is with a bit of trepidation, but more than a little mischief, that TLP describes this episode of journalistic self-regard as a circle jerk.


Some days, White House “pool duty” can be more interesting than others, even when you don’t get to see POTUS.

That’s pool-speak for President of the United States, and first a primer: Wherever a president goes, a “pool” of roughly a dozen reporters and photographers follows, though often not close enough to see him. A newspaper reporter writes “pool reports”– often mundane accounts of POTUS sightings, what he’s wearing (gym, golf or business clothes?) and movements of his motorcade (including the far-in-the-back media vans). Those reports then go out to many others by e-mail.

It is a distribution circle that in the Internet age has grown ever-wider, and is no longer limited to media with White House credentials.

So it is that a series of pool reports last night by this reporter have been widely picked up and mined by bloggers, though Mr. Obama never appears in them.
Got that? The subject of the media's supposed interest was not even in the reports. (They were waiting for him outside a friend's house, where the Obama family had gone for a cookout.) Instead, readers (if any stayed with the account that far) got a full dose of everyone who wandered down the sidewalk, what the Secret Service was doing and a discussion of the need to take a leak. The best part is that it's a story about a pool report about nothing, that actually includes excerpts to prove the point.

Don't miss the kicker.

A final word: There is some talk among White House newspaper reporters about somehow restricting the distribution of their pool reports. Whether the above reports have added to that sentiment is unknown.
Come on, now, you're smart enough to figure that out.


Hooters Taught Me the Value of Serving Others

Sunday, May 30, 2010 2 Comments

 Actually sometimes they are, look how happy she is with that? Deal.

When the following ad first came on the teevee, I thought I'd accidentally figured out the HDMI hookup and ended up on YouTube. No, it was actually a commercial.

I'm speechless.

[Full disclosure: My best friend from high school apparently works at Hooters these days so even though it's been over a decade since we graduated, I can't really hate.]


What I'm Beating TLP With: 5/30/10

Sunday, May 30, 2010 , 0 Comments

I've got to give him credit, the Paperboy held down the fort pretty well when I was off handling some things and cruising down the Eisenhower Interstate System last month. In the meantime, he's seemed to grasp the art of writing punchy headlines that don't contain words like "dick" or "motherfucker" (he's not a "motherfucker" sort of person and besides, that's my job). It's almost as if he was meant to do this for a living or something. Anyway, out of respect for all he's done for me lately and in general, this is going to be a light beating. Just because I'm a nice girl. Then again, I'm convinced he's into it so maybe I should try harder next week.

But I digress. It's been a pretty dull week all things considered. There was the Joe Sestak BS and of course the Top Kill failure in the Gulf, not to mention the fact that the economy is still in the shitter but since when does that make any difference at all? What else did TLP miss while he was off trying to come up with smart ass headlines?

Market upheaval should not be the new black, SEC says Personally I liked the old black myself, where the SEC didn't even bother trying to pretend like it had regulatory fangs. Oh well. (FT Alphaville)

Richard Wiggins trashes gold in Barron's aaaaaand WC Varones trashes Wiggins' logic on WC Varones. (WC Varones)

Fed report: It’s not easy being small Size DOES matter, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Erm, in banking, that is. (Richmond BizSense)

Community Banks: Up TARP Creek Without A Paddle As if smaller banks didn't have it bad enough already, there's always that pesky TARP to pay off... (Bank Lawyer's Blog)

Dear Banking & Government People Who Are Reading This… A sweet letter from Martin to his bank and government stalkers. Hey, if Bernanke is reading this, I should probably apologize for this. (Mandelman Matters)

The Twilight Zone Keeps On Wait a second, you mean the FDIC is actually making things WORSE?! Say it ain't so! (Prudent Speculation)

All Money is Counterfeit. Crap. Beebs just ruined my whole plan to stuff dollars in my mattress and wait for Armageddon. (beebsblog)


TLP: Let's Remember, He's Not Called 'Rahm-bo' for Nothing

emanuel obama politicsImages: New Republic, White House

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel seems to be the target for whatever political punishment Republicans want to dish out in l' affaire Sestak. If he's as diabolical and effective as everybody seems to believe, my money is on the body double taking the fall and Rahm keeping his job.


Desperate for Members, Unions Recruit California Pot Workers in Advance of Full Legalization

Sunday, May 30, 2010 , 1 Comments

pic credit: MTTS

And if it's legalized in November? The Teamsters are going to wish they'd thought of this first.

SF Gate:

The 26,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5 in San Jose is believed to be the first union in the country to organize workers in a marijuana-related business. It is considering new job classifications including "bud tender" - a sommelier of sorts who helps medical marijuana users choose the right strain for their ailment.

"Union bud tender," said Carl Anderson, executive director of AMCD, an Oakland nonprofit medical cannabis dispensary that is going through the city's permitting process. The dispensary has 15 freshly minted union employees as it readies for an expected opening in December. "With full union health benefits and a pension," Anderson said.

With roughly 100 cannabis industry workers in Oakland now in the process of unionizing, the move is mutually beneficial for labor and marijuana advocates.

The union, whose membership is dominated by commercial grocery store workers, retail clerks and some agricultural workers, gets to establish a toehold in a growing new pool of cannabis workers.

While its membership has been stable compared with those representing other sectors of the economy, the local's rolls fell 5 percent last year as a result of layoffs and reduced hours.

A pension! Can you imagine? The sketchy guy selling Mexican shwag out of his van to desperate 17 year olds doesn't have that kind of luxury.


Nearly a Year After Treasury Change, Do We Trust Indirect Bidder Numbers Yet?

Sunday, May 30, 2010 , , 0 Comments

First of all, we never trust any Treasury numbers but let's just pretend for the sake of this piece that we do.

In June of last year, Treasury changed the way it adds up indirect bidders somehow (vaguely) and threw off the indirect bidder indicator that generally identified the level of foreign demand in Treasurys. Of course, they announced the change so it's not like they tried to pretend they weren't doing it.

FT Alphaville made sense of it way back then

Under the old system the award to the dealers was larger as the customer bid was included in the dealers bid. In that way the total to dealers was misleading as it made it look as though dealers were buying more bonds than they truly were. This gave an unfair advantage to the dealer who submitted the investor bid.

In short, foreign or indirect bidders will no longer be allowed to place bids clandestinely via direct dealer bids. This in the first instance may boost the number of publicised indirect bids, making demand from foreign central banks appear stronger in the short run than it was before.

And sure enough, it did. But sure enough, it was definitely a short run. By August, indirect bidders accounted for 33% of a 2y offering, whereas they gobbled up 69% the year previous. Deutsche Bank said the change may have inflated indirect bids by 15 - 20%, making this look far more pathetic than it would have under the old rule.

Ooops. Guess that little trick didn't work.

Zero Hedge on indirect bid action as of April 2010:

The just completed 3 Month Bill and 6 Month Bill auctions were interesting: the BTC on the 3 month came in at 4.69, a multi year high, and well above the 2010 average of 4.27%. Also the high rate has started leaking higher again, coming at 0.15%, compared to last week's 0.145%. Primary Dealers made sure there was no hiccup and they would be able to take down as much of the $24 billion auction as possible just so they can immediately turn around and repo the money, thus buying even more Whirlpool in large blocks, spooking the HFT algos in [sic] believing the stock is the next Google. After all - can't have a down Monday. It is verboten. Curiously the Direct take down surged to 19.2%, and almost surpassed the Indirect Take Down of 20.9%. The Direct (cough Bernanke cough) Bidders just refuse to go away. The 2009-2010 average on Directs is 7.81%, while that over the past 4 auctions is exactly double that 15.66%. Primary Dealers have taken down $51 billion of all 3 Month Bills so far in 2010.

I applaud ZH for making such broad assumptions regarding our stock and bond markets. You can't be both sides of the curve forever, that's all I'm saying.

So do indirect bidders mean anything? What did I tell you about trusting any Treasury numbers at all?


The IMF on Hedge Funds

Sunday, May 30, 2010 1 Comments

With hedge funds taking so much crap these days from the ignorant unwashed masses, perhaps it might be good to take a look at where exactly they came from. Lucky for us, the IMF wrote an entire paper about it.

From Hedge Funds: What Do We Really Know?:

If Many Are Risky, Why Are They Called "Hedge" Funds?
To "hedge" a bet is to protect against loss by betting a counterbalancing amount against the original bet. Similarly, a "hedge" in the financial world is a transaction that reduces the risk of an investment. So why are high-risk partnerships that use speculative techniques called "hedge" funds?

In 1949 A.W. Jones established in the United States what is regarded as the first hedge fund. Jones combined two investment tools--short selling and leverage. Short selling involves borrowing a security and selling it in anticipation of being able to repurchase it at a lower price in the market, at or before the time when it must be repaid to the lender. Leverage is the practice of using borrowed funds. (Financially leveraged firms thus have high debt-to-equity ratios.)

Both short selling and leverage are regarded as risky when practiced in isolation. Jones is credited with showing how these instruments could be combined to limit market risk. Jones's insight was that there were two distinct sources of risk in stock investments: risk from individual stock selection and risk of a drop in the general market. He sought to separate out the two. Jones maintained a basket of shorted stocks to hedge against a drop in the market. Thus controlling for market risk, he used leverage to amplify his returns from picking individual stocks. He went long on stocks that he considered "undervalued" and short on those that were "overvalued." The fund was considered "hedged" to the extent the portfolio was split between stocks that would gain if the market went up, and short positions that would benefit if the market went down. Thus the term "hedge funds."

Jones's fund had two other notable characteristics that, with variations, continue to this day: he made the manager's incentive fee a function of profits (in his case, 20 percent of realized profits) and agreed to keep his own investment capital in the fund (ensuring that his incentives and those of his investors were aligned).

Hedge funds proliferated in the "go-go" years 1966­68, as the stock market rose and Jones's fund garnered favorable publicity. A 1968 U.S. SEC survey enumerated 215 investment partnerships, 140 of which were categorized as hedge funds. These funds concentrated on investments in corporate equities. With the market on an upward trend, fund managers relied more on leveraging, since hedging a portfolio with short sales was difficult, time consuming, and costly. As a result, managers increasingly resorted to strategies with only token hedging--rendering the funds vulnerable to the extended market downturn that started at the end of 1968. By one estimate, assets under management by the 28 largest hedge funds had declined by 70 percent by the end of 1970.


TLP: Glenn Beck's Problem With Little Girls

Sunday, May 30, 2010 , , , 0 Comments

glenn beck fox
First, he's got a shitty job. Granted, he asked for it, but still. Wars no one can figure out how to end, the fucked-up financial system, dealing with Congress, dealing with congressional elections, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," tar balls and "Top Kill" failures and random racist nutjob death threats.

And then there's Glenn Beck. CNN was only too happy to share the details of what its former talking head had done:

Conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck apologized Friday after appearing to mock President Barack Obama’s 11-year-old daughter on his radio program earlier in the day.

In a statement posted on his website Friday afternoon, Beck said he broke his own rule about “leaving kids out of political debates.”

“In discussing how President Obama uses children to shield himself from criticism, I broke my own rule about leaving kids out of political debates,” said Beck in the statement. “The children of public figures should be left on the sidelines. It was a stupid mistake and I apologize–and as a dad I should have known better.”

Beck’s apology came hours after the radio host and his sidekicks imitated a pretend conversation between the president and Malia, in which Beck has his version of 11-year-old ask a series of questions that included “Daddy…why do you hate black people so much?”
Obama's got enough problems. He ought to know better than to give Beck material by mentioning that his daughter had asked him about the BP oil spill, saying, "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?"

So, after Beck's hilarious yuks on the radio, did his child ask him, "Daddy, why are you such a stupid asshole?"


OMG! Is Bill Clinton Running the White House?

Saturday, May 29, 2010 , , 0 Comments

I never really had anything against the guy but I was 11 when he was president and if I recall correctly, I was still into neon colors and Saved By the Bell so I might not be the best person to consult on the matter.


After Barack Obama won the White House, he and his aides wrestled for weeks over what to do about Bill Clinton if his wife joined the administration. They worried that the irrepressible former president might overshadow Hillary Rodham Clinton, or even Obama himself. That didn't happen. Now, 18 months later, he has become indispensable in a way the new president probably did not anticipate.

Clinton has become the "Michael Clayton" of the Obama White House, a roving, always on-call fixer who lends his political skills to help Obama and the Democrats in tough situations. Clinton is campaigning and raising money in places where Obama is less (or less than) welcome. And, as was revealed Friday, he has been an intermediary on sensitive, off-the-grid conversations with candidates such as Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), whom he tried -- on behalf of the White House -- to talk out of running for the Senate.

Whoops, let's not talk about Joe Sestak, ok? That's sort of a sore subject.

Maybe OMG! Obama needs to win a day with Bill Clinton.


The Fed Finally Pulls the Trigger on an Exit Strategy. Sorta.

Saturday, May 29, 2010 , , 1 Comments

Maybe it will really end up like this.

Federal Reserve to test plan to offer banks CDs (AP) Here we go!


Did the NY Fed Leave a Funny Taste in YOUR Mouth Too?

A "travesty" LOL.


Federal Reserve Bank directors say a Senate plan to kick bankers off the boards of regional Fed banks is an overreaction to one headline-grabbing incident and could harm the U.S. central bank.

Federal Reserve insiders worry that planned changes to the century-old U.S. central banking system -- comprising 12 regional banks and a 7-member Washington-based Board of Governors -- would make it more centralized, less independent, and less effective.

A provision in a wide-ranging regulatory reform bill near completion in Washington would ban bankers from serving on the boards of their regulators.

Alarm about possible conflict of interest at the Fed broke out after Goldman Sachs converted to a Fed-regulated bank to withstand the financial crisis.

This put then-New York Fed chairman Stephen Friedman -- a Goldman director and former chairman -- in violation of the Fed's rules. Friedman requested a waiver for owning Goldman shares in 2008 and as he waited for the waiver, he bought more shares.

While his actions were not illegal, Friedman stepped down following public furor.

"This legislation, the way it's proposed, is an overreaction to a particular unique situation, and to have bankers removed from these boards is a travesty," said Mark Hewitt, chief executive of Clear Lake Bank and Trust Co in Iowa and a director at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The situation "maybe left a funny taste in someone's mouth, but that's not what's happening in Chicago," he said.

So it isn't a conflict of interest for Jamie Dimon to sit on the board of his bank's regulator? Oh please, you're totally overreacting, who else has their finger on the pulse of banking? Surely not the Fed themselves (as if that's their job).


Let's Just Use Nancy Pelosi's Entire Head to Mop Up Gulf Oil

Friday, May 28, 2010 , , , 10 Comments

Pic credit: With a Beard

If Nancy Pelosi were a real patriot, she'd also offer to shave her back hair to save the Gulf.


“Well, the technology to drill may be different, but the technology to clean up is not,” she said, then went on to offer her Exhibit A of outmoded cleanup technology.

“I went to get a haircut the other day …they had a sign in there that said: ‘Will all of you donate your hair to send to the Gulf for cleanup?’ — could that be more primitive?” she said in distaste, referring to one of the more unusual Gulf oil cleanup campaigns, in which salons, barbers and pet groomers have been contributing tons of hair—biodegradable, absorbent–to sop up the oil.

“So,” Pelosi went on, “if the technology has advanced that the drilling is okay, they should have said: ‘Women across America have to donate their hair if this doesn’t work.’

“But they didn’t really say it that way. The technology making it safer implied, I think, that we would avoid this kind of thing.”

The real question is, did Pelosi offer up the hair or what? Primitive as it is, it might be better than anything they've tried to date.


Jobs I Don't Envy: Whatever Joe Sestak Got Offered at the White House

Seriously, this guy's life sucks right about now. He lost a sweet cushy gig at the White House and now he can't even pour out his heart and soul to get it off his back. The White House will have to get back to you on that.


Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) said Thursday his brother has spoken with White House officials about the congressman's allegation that he was offered an Obama administration job if he would stay out of a Democratic Senate primary.

Sestak ran in, and won, that primary, defeating the White House's preferred candidate, Sen. Arlen Specter.

He told reporters Thursday that he would not expand upon his prior statements until the White House releases its report on the matter. President Obama said in his news conference such a report would come "shortly."

Richard Sestak, who has served as his brother's top political adviser and campaign lawyer, spoke with administration officials Wednesday, Joe Sestak said.

"They got ahold of my brother on his cellphone, and he spoke to the White House . . . about what's going to occur," said Sestak, who said he expects the White House will release its information Friday. He declined to elaborate on his discussions with his brother.

OK it's not completely suspicious that the White House needs a couple days to put together a statement. Way to bumble that one, WH press team. Listen, we know you have a lot on your plate but seriously...


Does Tim Geithner Realize His Germany Visit Did Not Go Well?

Friday, May 28, 2010 , , , 0 Comments

The New York Times said Geithner Sees Consensus on Finance Reform while the Washington Post insisted United States and Germany remain divided over financial regulation issues. So does that mean Geithner believes we're all on the same page but Germany is like hell no?

Let's go with WaPo on this one:

Top U.S. and German officials on Thursday acknowledged differences over key financial regulation issues, and they said a "broad agreement" on basic concepts may not produce uniform rules in all the world's capital markets.

After what German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble described as "very intense discussions," Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner ended a two-day European trip meant to smooth out differences in how the major economies are approaching financial regulation in the wake of the recent crisis. It is not clear how much progress he made.

Schaeuble, defending a German approach that has become more unilateral in tone and substance, said that Germany had "done its national homework" before adopting a ban on certain types of stock trading, known as naked short selling. The ban, announced last week, surprised U.S. and European officials, who were expecting cooperation over such decisions.

Sort of like the fair value argument, what's good for the US isn't good for everyone else and we can no longer pretend as though that statement is true. We've allowed our dollar superiority complex to cloud our judgment and then we send asshats like Geithner to Europe to represent us? Yeah that's not doomed or anything.

See also Geithner: US, Europe broadly agree on reform via the AP.


Oh, That Wasn't the ECB Propping up the Euro, It Was China

Are you telling me that Tim Geithner and Hillary Clinton showing up in China actually worked?! Holy shit, we're less doomed than I thought.

See, Tim Geithner already knows the dollar is next if the eurozone collapses. If he doesn't want that as an inevitable outcome (it's hard to read the prick sometimes), he wants the euro to somehow make it through. And we all know he can't afford to do it. But China can and has certainly been looking for a way to diversify out of the dollar. Pfft.

So apparently those two goons were able to convince China to keep playing along.

FT has the scoop on China going balls in.


$1700 Gold! In Greece, Anyway

Friday, May 28, 2010 , , 0 Comments

 Formerly Cash 4 Gold: Athens

Yo, those aren't ETFs they're talking about either.

Coin Update News:

The fear running through the Greek populace is that the nation’s government may default on some of its debts.

Since 1965, the Greek government has imposed restrictions on trading British Sovereign gold coins (gold content .2354 oz). Despite those restrictions, the Bank of Greece reports that it is selling an average of more than 700 coins per day to worried Greeks.

In the first four months of 2010, the Greek central bank sold more than 50,000 sovereigns at its main downtown Athens office. Bank officials estimate that at least 100,000 other coins changed hands on the black market. The Bank of Greece has received as much as $409 per coin, which works out to a price of more than $1,700 per ounce of gold! Prices paid on the black market are reckoned to be even higher. A popular spot for street vendors to sell their coins is near the Athens Stock Exchange. There the traders wait for citizens to bring payments received from unloading their paper assets like stocks and bonds.

Careful with what we classify as "assets", people.

In Milwaukee, they're faced with the growing problem of seedy cash for gold shops popping up all over town and are considering regulating this growing industry. Starting with the possibly sketchy guys selling gold out of their trunks:

“It would probably be better to regulate some of these people that work out of their trunks,” he says. “Those are sometimes the people engaging in buying jewelry that doesn’t belong to the person that’s selling it.”

 That was jeweler John Barnes with bright ideas for Milwaukee aldermen. Perhaps it will help to get that in place proactively before America goes Greece and the tzatziki really hits the fan.


Meet the Richmond Fed

Friday, May 28, 2010 , 0 Comments

 Pic credit: Tobacco Avenue

Wanting to distinguish themselves from those uptight, bailout-happy pricks at the Board of Governors (allegedly), the Richmond Fed has released a cozy new film called At Work on Main Street. Some highlights include the fake charts staged behind Jeff Lacker and the sketchy people hanging out behind the illustrated Board.

While it's cute that they're trying, I think this would have been much better received had it featured 3 second spaz shots a la reality shows and maybe a nice soundtrack. Like this:

I can imagine it would have been difficult to sell Lacker on the red body paint.

It isn't the people who would respond to this type of 9 minute inFedmercial that Richmond needs to convince, it's the sheeple with a 2 second attention span. Here's an idea, why not try a new VH-1 reality show? Hell, don't even start a new one, recycle I Love Money into one big indulgent ad for the Fed. Do an elimination-style battle among Fed presidents on a remote island with only lots of booze and cameras filming 24:7. I'd pay to see that.


TLP: Who Drives a Mercury, Anyway?

Friday, May 28, 2010 , , 1 Comments

ford mercury
This is how you do it: You don't ask for a bailout. You sell off what you don't need. You shut down what doesn't work. Maybe the most-appropriately named Ford is the Focus.

Ford Motor Co. is considering a plan to drop Mercury, a brand developed in the 1930s that has seen sales and investment plunge in recent years, a person familiar with the discussions said.

Ford's global head of marketing, Jim Farley, has consulted a number of U.S. dealers about dropping Mercury and a formal announcement could come at a dealer meeting later this summer, said this source.

A wind-down of Mercury, coupled with Ford's planned sale of its Volvo car unit to China's Geely, would sharpen the automaker's focus on its Ford brand globally and its luxury Lincoln brand in North America.

The person familiar with Ford's plans asked not to be named because the plans have not been made public.
You've got to love these stories sourced to "a person familiar with ..." So badass.

Anyway, Ford is doing OK, expecting to be profitable this year. The company bypassed the Detroit bailout, preferring to work things out on its own. The Mercury unit is down to a handful of models and sold fewer than 93,000 vehicles in the United States last year. People who pay attention to these things think scrapping what's left of Mercury would be smart.

More Reuters:

"Shutting down Mercury eliminates a distraction," said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of Edmunds, the industry tracking website. "Mercury is a brand that has lost its meaning in the American automotive marketplace and it isn't worth trying to change that."

Jim Ziegler, an Atlanta-based dealer consultant, said dealers have talked about the eventual elimination of Mercury for some time and the brand has no stand-alone dealerships.

"Nobody is going to get hurt," Ziegler said. "It's not like there is a lot of heritage walking away with Mercury."

Really. Anyone who has bought a Mercury could have bought a Ford. Want a Navigator? Let me show you this Expedition. Find the Sable irresistible? You'll love a Taurus. Never mind that Cougar. What you really want is a Thunderbird. (Fun fact: there's a term for this. "Rebadged variant".)

And, besides, anyone who can't do without a Merc can always find one.


The Fed Clamps Down on the Firehose, Finally Restrains Themselves

A bit.

The Federal Reserve said it loaned just $1.242 billion to the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan through its currency swap line in the week ended Wednesday.

The Fed loaned $1.032 billion to the ECB and $210 million to the BOJ through the program it reopened earlier this month in response to strains in the global market for short-term dollar borrowing. The foreign central banks lend the dollars to their commercial banks.

Keep 'em comin', ZB, Europe is counting on you.


Oregon Judge Slaps Google With a Restraining Order Over Stolen WiFi Data

Thursday, May 27, 2010 , , , 0 Comments

 Pic credit: toothpaste for dinner

In a case of WTF are you thinking, an Oregon judge has ordered Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to hold onto data "accidentally" collected by its Street View cameras. Now, as was the case with Goldman Sachs HFT program code, if the data is set to be introduced as "evidence" in court, it must be revealed. Way to fight for privacy.

Business Insider has the gory details:

Google had announced its intention to consult with privacy advocates and governments about the best way to dispose of the data. Residents of Oregon and Washington filed a class action suit over privacy violations, and requested a restraining order to ensure the data could be used as evidence.


Ken Starr (Not That Ken Starr) Charged With Running $30 Million Fraud

Thursday, May 27, 2010 , , 1 Comments

When I first saw the name, I thought it a little too hilarious. Of course we aren't talking that Ken Starr (too bad) but this is scandalous all the same.


A New York financial adviser to the rich and the famous was charged Thursday of running a $30 million investment fraud and using the funds to enrich himself and friends, including a former New York City politician.

Kenneth I. Starr, who at one time advised actors Wesley Snipes and Sylvester Stallone, allegedly used his access to famous and powerful clients to "burnish an image of trustworthiness" and, in some cases, assume total control over his clients' financial lives, according to a criminal complaint filed by federal prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan.

Andrew Stein, a former state assemblyman and the last person to hold the title of president of the New York City Council, was described as an "associate" in the alleged scheme. He was charged Thursday with making false statements in an Internal Revenue Service filing and making false statements to an IRS agent.

The criminal complaint didn't have details on the alleged victims, but it described them as an unnamed hedge-fund manager and well-known philanthropist, an actress, a former executive of a talent agency, an elderly heiress and a jeweler who is a convicted felon.

Just goes to show, being famous doesn't automatically make you smart and/or fraud-proof.


It's Critical That Fannie and Freddie Get More Government Money, So Here's a Solution

Thursday, May 27, 2010 , , , 0 Comments

Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) are ugly, like festering off of the US government's balance sheet ugly and unless someone does something and quick, they're going to end up a larger thorn in the government's ass than Social Security and Medicare combined.


Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies operating under U.S. conservatorship, will require additional government aid amid losses stemming from the 2008 credit crisis, the nation’s top housing regulator said in its annual report to Congress.

“While critical to supporting the ongoing functioning of the nation’s housing finance system, the enterprises would be unable to serve the mortgage market in the absence of the ongoing financial support,” said Edward DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said in the report released today.

Here's how Tim Geithner plans to handle the Fannie/Freddie problem:


The Fed's New Credit Card Site For Consumers Makes Things More Confusing, Not Less

Thursday, May 27, 2010 , 0 Comments

This is so cute. The Fed put together a shiny new website (design whore JDA gives the Fed props for at least making a slick interface) meant to help consumers make sense of complicated credit card terms and conditions but consumers end up just as confused as before.

Way to, uh, look out for dumb ass America and our inability to read two pages of microtext stuffed in with a credit card agreement.


The Federal Reserve on Monday introduced an online database listing the terms and conditions of more than 300 credit card issuers to help consumers find a card that best suits their personal finance needs.

Under legislation passed last year, credit card issuers had to put their card agreement online.

But the database, mandated under the far-reaching credit card legislation signed by President Obama last May, contains only the raw text of card agreements, which are so densely worded that only the most dedicated customer, perhaps one with a legal degree, could glean value from them, several consumer advocates said.

Take, for example, this section from a PNC Bank card agreement: “We will calculate finance charges on cash advances by multiplying the ‘average daily balance of cash advances’ by the total number of days in the billing cycle, and multiplying the product by the daily periodic rate of finance charge then in effect.

“The daily periodic rate of finance charge for each billing cycle shall be a rate computed by adding a margin (‘Margin For Cash Advances’) to the value of the index and dividing by 365. The corresponding annual percentage rate will be the index plus the Margin For Cash Advances.”

Got it?

Um no, no I don't.

Then again, what sort of dent in that income returned to Treasury would be made if the Fed hired a couple monkeys to comb through this information and actually translate it?

And you guys think I'm exaggerating when I say we're stupid?

Credit cards used to have a fixed interest rate of about 20 percent and a small number of fees. In the 1990s, however, credit card issuers began issuing cards with a greater variety of interest rates and fees, according to a 2006 report by the Government Accountability Office.

“Although half of adults in the United States read at or below the eighth-grade level, most of the credit card materials were written at a 10th- to 12th-grade level,” the report found. “In addition, the required disclosures were often poorly organized, burying important information in text or scattering information about a single topic in numerous places.”

Good thing the Fed has been tasked with babysitting since we obviously can't keep track of our money.


Nearly 6500 San Francisco Homeowners Apply for Property Tax Break

Thursday, May 27, 2010 , 1 Comments

Shock and awe! That $900,000 dump of a loft sandwiched between crackheads and CalTrain is upside down and poor homeowner needs a break? I can't believe it!

SF Gate:

In another sign that the economy is taking a long time to rebound, a staggering 6,462 residential property owners in San Francisco applied for temporary property tax breaks this year, city Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting reported Wednesday.

If granted, the reductions will kick in next year.

In all, 11,700 homeowners have received temporary property tax reductions in the current fiscal year that ends June 30; some at the request of the property owners, others at the initiation of the assessor's office. The cumulative total in reduced assessed value added up to $1.4 billion.

Last year, 4,421 informal reviews were requested. The year before 1,673 were filed. Go back three years and the number was a mere 248.

Property owners can get a temporary reduction in their property taxes if the current market value is found to be lower than the assessed value.

It makes me sick just to think about. Of course, San Francisco has priced in this bizarre, constant climb of property values because that's just how we get down and the city refuses to believe that things are as bad as they should be.

Too bad the city really really needs the money right about now.


Lehman Sues JP Morgan From the Grave

First WaMu came back from the grave to haunt JP Morgan, now Lehman is rising from the dead and demanding reparations for its murder. Go figure.

I'm not arguing that Lehman didn't have it coming, I'll leave it for a judge to decide whether or not it was JP Morgan's fault for taking advantage of that fact.

Business Week:

Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. sued JPMorgan Chase & Co. to recover tens of billions of dollars in “lost value,” accusing the bank of precipitating its downfall and preventing it from winding down in an orderly fashion.

JPMorgan, which was Lehman’s main short-term lender before its September 2008 bankruptcy, helped cause the failure by demanding $8.6 billion of collateral as credit markets tightened during the financial crisis, Lehman said in a complaint filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York.

“On the brink of LBHI’s bankruptcy, JPMorgan leveraged its life and death power as the brokerage firm’s primary clearing bank to force LBHI into a series of one-sided agreements and to siphon billions of dollars in critically needed assets,” Lehman said in the complaint.

Lehman, once the fourth-biggest investment bank, has said it may spend another five years selling assets to pay unsecured creditors as little as 14.7 cents on the dollar. Any money recovered through lawsuits may increase the payout.

“The lawsuit is ill conceived, and the costly litigation will cause a further drain on the limited resources available to the Lehman bankruptcy estate,” said Joe Evangelisti, a JPMorgan spokesman.

DealBook shared the entire complaint


Dennis Kneale Should Learn a Lesson in Capitalism If He's Crying About Its Death

Thursday, May 27, 2010 , , 0 Comments

Last year, Dennis decided to take on the bloggers. I'm not sure which bloggers in particular truly irked him but it was only slightly vindicating to see him lose his CNBC show not that long after.


After a 25-year career at The Wall Street Journal and Forbes Magazine, he joined CNBC in October of 2007. Given that the average contract in television is three years, that means his contract is likely coming up for renewal this fall. So far, CNBC hasn't told him whether it will keep him around. "All my life I've worked at basically three places. I'm not sure what I'll do," he says.

Kneale's story of his time at CNBC is interwoven with interesting tales. He got a shot at his own show in late April of last year. CNBC asked him to solo anchor, for one week, the 8:00 PM show "CNBC Reports." He invented his own catch-phrase - "I'm sellin' the hope!" -- and picked a nasty fight with bloggers. He also tangled with market doomsayers and recited his mantra: "We're gonna be okay."

But CNBC canceled the show in mid-September 2009, filling the time slot with documentary retreads on everything from "California Chronic" to "Billionaire Biographies." Kneale still seems stung by the move. "I'm not sure they ever watched my show" before killing it, he says. "I just hope it's not my only shot."

Kneale, like Rachel Maddow, just doesn't have a face for TV.

So here's the suggestion: monetize. If Kneale has a large enough following and they believe what he says, he can tell CNBC to fuck themselves backwards with one of Jim Cramer's floppy hammers and go make his way on his own. He can pimp the brand out for ads and not have to take CNBC's shit.

See also: Porn is Better than Dennis Kneale Any Day and Dennis Kneale in Tears for his BlackBerry


TLP: I Think We've Heard Just About Enough Out of You, Young Man

rand paul election
Well, that didn't take long.

The Huffington Post (you know they're loving it):

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisted this week that his fellow Kentuckian, Republican Senate Candidate Rand Paul, needs to take a hiatus from the press circuit.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, John King asked McConnell if he had "convinced [Paul] not to show up on 'Meet The Press' this past Sunday, to go dark for a little bit."

McConnell responded that he would advise that Paul spend more time talking to Kentucky voters and less to the national media.

"He's said quite enough for the time being in terms of national press coverage," McConnell said.

Last week, Paul garnered widespread criticism for his comments on the Civil Rights Act and the Gulf oil spill.
First, which HuffPo writer drew the shit assignment to watch John King? There's got to be an office pool going at CNN on whether John or Larry King gets canceled first.

As for McConnell, he was probably feeling pretty good on Election Night, even though he backed Paul's opponent. Whatever the reasons for the results, the GOP seemed to sense some momentum building. But Paul couldn't shut up. Wonder where he gets that?

Anyway, it's a dilemma for the Republicans. Paul obviously struck a chord with voters, won the primary and is the fucking poster child for the disenchanted. Could be a thing. If the GOP backs off, he's bound to keep stepping in it. But what's the alternative? Muzzle him and excite the electorate with the likes of Mitch McConnell?


Bernanke Dismisses IMF Debt Whores Encouraging a 4% Inflation Target

Ben Bernanke has some sympathy for the Bank of Japan and it's obvious why, he's probably got some deflation envy. Still, he gets props for deflecting the question and, dare I say, telling them to fuck off with their 4% shit.


In a question-and-answer session following his speech, Bernanke lent some tacit support to the BOJ's "understanding," by noting the global inflation consensus, and mentioning the Fed's own close price goal.

"Central banks of the world over many years now have established a great deal of credibility for inflation rates in the vicinity of about 2%. And it would be a very risky transition if we in any way reduced our commitment to ... an approximate 2% inflation target," he said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

Bernanke was responding to a question about an International Monetary Fund paper suggesting that a 4% inflation rate could give central banks more maneuvering room to conduct policy.

The IMF might be happy with more "maneuvering room" and promptly swoop in to bail us out to say "I told you so," all with Tim Geithner on payroll.


It's Not at All Suspicious That Patrick Byrne Just Unloaded a Bunch of Overstock Shares

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 , 0 Comments

 Pic credit: gapingvoid

No serious, see for yourself.

Let's see what Gary Weiss has to say about his favorite corporate crime Petri dish:'s wack-a-doo CEO, Patrick Byrne, has apparently found a new kind of crud to foist on the his ever-suffering shareholder base--$3.1 million in shares.

White collar crime fighter Sam Antar has an analysis today of Byrne's dumping of the shares, which were shed by Byrne's wholly-owned hedge fund, High Plains Investments LLC.

Barry Ritholtz points out today that he owns shares in the company -- an example, I suggest, of the downside of quantitative investment strategies -- even though "I personally think it is a steaming pile of shit, that the CEO is an asshole, and that the entire company is probably corrupt."

Did I read that right? Ritholtz is actually long OSTK? Well shit, if you look at it as an investment strategy and ignore the blatant fraud, one can assume Overstock has at least two or three more audit firms to turn to just in case KPMG needs to be fired and can keep this up for quite some time as long as the SEC stays toothless. So maybe Barry is onto something.

Uh... Any word on what the SEC is up to when it comes to Overstock?

Gary and Barry floated the theory that Byrne is simply trying to fund the SEC fine his company is about to get handed to their asses. Hmmm. Maybe he needs to hire some incendiaries to go mess with people who talk poorly of Mr Byrne and his company's questionable accounting methods? $3.12 million can go quite a ways, you know.

Sam and Caleb also gave Patrick some play for this move.

Jr Deputy Accountant humbly disagrees with Ritholtz, if anyone can be that dumb, it's you-know-who.


Disney Dope Gets Busted Trying to Sell Earnings

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 , , , 1 Comments

Were Bonnie Jean Hoxie and her boyfriend stupid or just desperate?

Regardless of the motivation (we hear it's shoes, no kidding), you have to hand it to the FBI for bidding them down before busting them. That's got to hurt. And after all of this, the dynamic duo couldn't even deliver Disney's earnings, just some vague earnings per share crap. Now that's just sad.

WSJ's Deal Journal:

The SEC alleges that Bonnie Jean Hoxie and her paramour attempted to sell Disney’s second-quarter earnings ahead of their official release. The method: the two sent as many as 20 hedge funds a letter offering to provide the earnings release for a fee. The text of the letter, contained in the SEC complaint, begins:

“Hi, I have access to Disney (DIS) quarterly earnings report before its release on 5/03/10. I am willing to share this information for a fee that we can determine later….My email is XXX I count on your discretion as you can count on mine.”

One of the hedge funds notified authorities about the letter and a pair of FBI agents got in contact with Hoxie’s boyfriend, Yonni Sebbag.

At one point, Sebbag asked for a $20,000 fee. The FBI agents, who were posing as traders, bid him down.

“$15K sounds great. $30K even better as I hope you will make a killing form Q2 earnings,’’ Sebbag allegedly wrote in an email to the agents, according to the SEC complaint. They settled on $15,000.

So what about the other 19 hedge funds who failed to report this boneheaded move?


Nothing Has Worked So Far But Maybe Top Kill Will

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 , , 0 Comments

While the talking heads are yammering back and forth trying to decide whether or not the Gulf oil spill will be Obama's Katrina (if you ask me, Obama's entire term has been his Katrina), BP's mad scientists are monkeying around down there hoping to get this thing stuffed once and for all. Best of luck with that. Really.

Christian Science Monitor takes a look at what top kill really means:

The US Coast Guard has cleared BP to proceed with the “top kill” procedure that officials say is the most complex attempt yet to stop oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. The procedure is expected to begin Wednesday, though BP and the US Minerals Management Service had not announced a start time.

At its simplest, top kill involves pumping drilling mud at a rate of 40 to 50 barrels per minute to reduce the pressure of the oil’s flow, ultimately stopping it altogether. Top kills have been performed to address similar spills, BP officials say, but none has been done at 5,000 feet below the water’s surface.

“The pace at which we are doing this is unprecedented … [and] we need to be careful in terms of setting expectations,” said Kent Wells, BP's vice president for exploration and production.

In other words, don't actually bet that this will work, BP is pretty sure it won't.

We'll know by the end of the day. Who wants to put money on FAIL?


Ben Bernanke is Back to Marketing the Dirty Fed's Awesomeness

I wonder if Zimbabwe Ben knew when Bush tapped him as Fed Chair in 2006 that he'd be in charge of marketing and branding for the US's most loathed institution. That's a rough job, ask BP how it feels to 'splain yourself over and over and over to ignorant Congressional asshats and the unwashed masses.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said central banks must be free from political pressure as they bolster regulation and try to prevent future financial crises.

“In undertaking financial reforms, it is important that we maintain and protect the aspects of central banking that proved to be strengths during the crisis and that will remain essential to the future stability and prosperity of the global economy,” Bernanke said today in a speech at the Bank of Japan in Tokyo.

Bernanke and other central bank chiefs have faced mounting political threats to policy independence while combating the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

In the U.S., Bernanke is trying to beat back legislation he says may reduce economic and financial stability by impinging on policy makers’ autonomy in setting borrowing costs. European Central Bank officials are defending their independence after the institution backed financial support for countries including Greece. In Japan, the government has pressured the central bank to help spur the economy and eradicate deflation.

Bernanke highlighted the benefits of autonomy rather than discussing recent threats.

“In exchange for this independence, central banks must meet their responsibilities for transparency and accountability,” Bernanke said to a conference hosted by Japan’s central bank.

LMFAO! Transparency and accountability? Since when is this supposed Fed independence a trade off? I thought it meant policy untainted by political whims and in exchange the Fed has agreed to keep unemployment and inflation low? Since it has failed on both cluck missions (uh, nearly double digit employment and a 95% loss in purchasing power since its inception in 1913), can we just drop that BS line and be real about what's going on here?

Seriously, what more does this man want? The Fed has won two large battles lately and with the eurozone freaking out, it's no longer getting the scrutiny it was several months back. Would he also like a pony?

Check out Central Bank Independence, Transparency, and Accountability if you want more of this crap.


Germany Still Going After Naked Short Sales to Save the Euro

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 , , , 0 Comments

Are the Germans really trying to ban regular old naked shorts or are they trying desperately to defend the euro?

Germany's Finance Ministry on Tuesday proposed extending a ban on some "naked" short selling to cover all stocks and euro-currency derivatives not intended for hedging.

The expanded ban goes beyond the prohibition of naked short-sales of certain financial stocks imposed last week.

The proposals, outlined by the ministry in a draft bill that will be discussed by the German cabinet next week, also include a new "transparency system" for short selling.

"Naked short selling of stocks and the debt of euro-zone states that are listed on a domestic exchange in a regulated marketplace will be forbidden," the proposal says.

Stocks? Is that what we're talking about? Sure about that?

The short-selling of credit default swaps on euro-zone debt without ownership of the debt obligation and of euro currency derivatives not meant for hedging would also be prohibited, the ministry said.

Aha! So the point is to try to regulate the free-for-all that leaves the euro wide open for attack in the hopes that somehow this will dissuade unscrupulous speculators from taking her down? Too bad Trichet doesn't have the balls nor the support to really start printing the euro's way out of this mess.

Listen, it's too late. The world already knows what's going on in the eurozone. It also already knows that unlike our irresponsible asses over here in the US, Europe doesn't have anything to back up its bluff. Like that whole world reserve currency thing.

Quote of the year:  "I am not saying we are going down the trashcan, but we have had a dose of the poorest European leadership imaginable."


Rebranding Pabst Blue Ribbon

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 5 Comments

My grandpa couldn't believe it when I told him the hipster douchebags in San Francisco have claimed PBR as their own. Though I swore up and down that his dear granddaughter made a paper-bagged PBR an accessory quite some time ago, he was still baffled. PBR? Really? The same PBR that robbed pensions from 800 retirees, including our next door neighbor? Oh shame on me, that's not really acting very Milwaukee-like, is it?

Well perhaps PBR was due for a rebranding anyway. Good luck getting it to catch on outside of the hipster crew.


Investor C. Dean Metropoulos made a fortune building well-known consumer brands including Bumble Bee Tuna and Vlasic Pickles. Now, he is looking to wash them down with a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Mr. Metropoulos, a 64-year-old executive known for invigorating brands, has reached an agreement to buy Pabst Brewing Co. from the charitable foundation that owns the company for about $250 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Although little known outside of food circles, he earned a fortune managing brands such as Chef Boyardee, Duncan Hines and Ghirardelli Chocolates.

With Pabst, Mr. Metropoulos is showing his deal-making skills.

I will not be defending the hipster mentality, I just drink it because I'm a starving writer with a two-toned haircut and tattoos.


TLP: Why is This Even a Question?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 , , , , 0 Comments

twitter new york times
Apparently, some readers of The New York Times are not ready for reporters to use Twitter.

Robin Wauters checked out the NYT Insight Lab for TechCrunch:

The homepage features a quick poll asking members if they want to see Times’ reporters and editors on Twitter or not. I guess this is the most pressing issue the New York Times wants to hear from its readers about.

For some reason, close to three quarters of the respondents indicated that they’d prefer if the journalists stay far away from the micro-sharing service. Only 7 percent had no idea what Twitter is. There is zero indication on the site how many people are actually registered members of the Insight Lab, let alone how many so far participated in this poll. Nevertheless, I’m surprised to see the negative answer leading at this point.
Even if they didn't register for the site — a tedious process that made me long for the Census — you'd have to think that this group of readers would have at least some understanding of the value of Twitter in communications, news reporting, shameless self-promotion and general shit-disturbing.


Is the Fed Going to Open Up the Dollar Spigot to Feed Europe's Dysfunction?

 Keep em comin, boys!

St Louis Fed President James Bullard says there's no need for such drastic behavior. The line is already open and Bernanke is already sitting at the dock shoveling dollars onto cargo ships, what more do we need?


The U.S. Federal Reserve's dollar swap lines with other major central banks are "sufficient" to tackle current market strains, with take-up "pretty minimal" at present, a Fed official said Tuesday.

Responding to audience questions following a speech in London, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said the swap lines are "certainly not tapped out," and could provide much more funding if necessary.

A little over $9 billion has been accessed so far, compared with over $500 billion outstanding in the program's first run, and Bullard said the far lower take-up indicates that dollar funding problems aren't as severe as in 2008-09.

"The facility is there as a back stop and that is the spirit with which it is offered," Bullard said.

"We can go much higher, hundreds of billions of dollars if necessary. We're not anywhere near that right now so I think it's sufficient and there is no limit on it."

Wait wait, did he just say they are ready with hundreds of billions dollars and no one to stop them if they feel like it? And aren't most of the acronymed monsters the Fed has come up with in the last two years meant to exist as back stops? I'm sick of that word, they better come up with something better.

For the record, Bullard sees the Fed's balance sheet returning to "normal" in about five years. FIVE YEARS! That's excellent, we'll get to doomsday before we get to that.

So far, this swap line, reintroduced after the eurozone started going to shit, has been tapped for $9 billion.

Good thing the European Central Bank is too big to fail, eh? Better put on those hot fireman pants and get to work, Bullard, I think you guys have some printing to do.


That's THIRD Stimulus, Not Second

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 , , , 0 Comments

 nope, you're not getting a check this time either...

Remember standing by the mailbox waiting for Bushy Jr's stimulus? So let's keep that in perspective when discussing an additional stimulus measure - proposed by cheeseburger addict and serial maniac Larry Summers. Don't credit Obama with making this statement, he was busy here in my home base of San Francisco this week trying to whore himself out for the sake of Barbara Boxer's reelection campaign. Sexy.

The FT is reporting that our greasy friend Larry wants more money, though not nearly as much as the last time by the sound of things. You know, just a little bit more, since the first bit (or second, depending on when you started counting) is working so damn well. However, let's give a point to Larry for getting real and actually stating "a move to fiscal discipline would be premature at this point in the cycle." You know, why start pinching pennies now?

Only $200 billion, that's the Walmart of bailouts if you ask me.


TLP: Sex Scandal Gives South Carolina Candidate's Fundraising a Needed Poke

south carolina politics
Nothing like a little scandalous rumor and innuendo to get attention for your struggling political campaign. South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley has been trailing her Republican rivals in fundraising, but got a big surge after a fellow former protege of incumbent Governor Mark Sanford claimed to have had some sort of fling with her.

CNN Political Ticker:

"Nikki had more online donations yesterday than any other single day of the race," a Haley adviser told CNN. "The public knows an unfair personal attack when it sees one."

The adviser would not offer details on how much Haley has raised.

Regardless, any cash infusion is good news for Haley, who has trailed her three GOP rivals in fundraising for the duration of the campaign and just started airing two statewide television ads.

Haley has few staff, and has relied on outside groups and endorsements from national conservative figures like Sarah Palin to earn media exposure.

The allegation of the affair, made Monday by South Carolina conservative blogger and political consultant Will Folks, led to national headlines and threatened to derail Haley's campaign. But it also rallied conservative activists to Haley's defense.
Palmetto State politics has a long tradition of ugly — Lee Atwater, anyone? — and lately, the nexus has been sex, whether on the Appalachian Trail or not.

So, as Sanford serves out his term and hooks up with his girl in Florida, the campaign to succeed him promises to be endlessly entertaining. Especially if Darling Nikki starts to see her fundraising efforts dry up.


Answering Random Googler: Is BB&T a Good Bank?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 , , , 0 Comments

 Jamie Dimon IS sexy

OK, it was actually someone searching on Yahoo but "Yahooer" isn't a word and shows the caliber of person we are dealing with here. Only a few notches down from whomever is constantly Googling "Jamie Dimon Sexy", which disturbs me to this day.

So, what's the answer? Is BB&T a good bank? Let's ask the Internet.

My Bank Tracker has some real reviews from real customers and they're not very nice.

“BB&T is the worst bank in the world”

I have been a customer with BB&T for over three years now and I must say that I have never been treated as poorly as I have lately by them. I entered a deposit. A deposit cleared the same day as an automatic payment that I set up. The funny thing is that despite the deposit having posted in full to my account, I was told that the check had a hold on it and the payment therefore over drafted my account. Not only did they charge an overdraft fee on that transaction, they charged 9 of them. This bank is a complete rip off. Local banks definitely care about their customers far more than big banks. Give them a try instead of these scamming, conniving thieves.

For fuck's sake, Jamie Dimon and his Chase people don't treat ME like that. Don't can me for banking with Chase, I'm betting this ship is going down and if my money is going down with it, I'm sticking with the guys who own the Fed, sorry. It's not like my bitch ass deposits do anything for Chase when they can get cheap easy money from Bernanke just by asking. Nicely. Maybe. Anyway, Dimon's people don't assrape me so I feel sort of bad for this guy.

As for this person? I don't really feel bad. If they've been bending you over for 12 years, why are you still there? That's more than having issues, you're sick and twisted for sticking around and taking it.

“I've had issues”

I have been a with BBT for over 12 years. And when they make a mistake I apologize maybe but don’t try to correct the problem. Posting are not completed in a timely manner. I have always been dissatisfied but this is my last draw. Was told I have overdraft protection when in fact I didn’t. Some transactions (although they were my fault) cost me more than my light bill. I am very disgusted.

And what? That doesn't even make sense.

Overdraft fees seem to be a bit of a problem. As always. The Fed is nice and therefore gave you the option to opt-out so you should, that way they can't charge you. Chase makes a non-Chase ATM a separate line item of $2 so if you overdraft on someone else's ATM machine, Dimon wants it twice out of your ass. So don't whine and just count up the debits on one side and the credits on the other. If debits are larger than credits, you're screwed and they are taking a nice piece of dat ass. Possibly as a separate line item, just sit there and take it, didn't you read the terms?

Is it the bank's fault? I'm not sure it is. A Virginia college student sued them over their overdraft policy, so maybe that's how we got the Fed to make banks back off. My theory is that Chase acts well to (some of) its customers because its other activities in markets are pretty fucked up. But little Mr. SFSU student overdrafting on lattes at Ritual doesn't have to know that if you assrape him as little as possible in his checking account. The more banks back off and try to screw not-a-mathlete depositor as little as possible, the more time the banks have for backing up the truck to Bernanke's easy money back door.

Debits, can get confusing fast... Let's say you have $10 in my account. And you just deposited one hundred more. Then you buy, say, $15 worth of gas, and then grab lunch, say maybe $5. Chronologically, you should have enough money to cover your expenses for the day. But that's not how Sain says the bank sees things. A bank representative told him, the bank "resequences" the charges. So the expenses are entered first, minus 15 dollars for gas, and then minus 5 more for lunch, before adding the $100 deposit. If that's the case, you would face two 35 dollar overdraft charges. Sain - "They target low income consumers. Wealthy people obviously will not have overdraft." It's why he's filed a lawsuit against his bank, BB&T. Sain - "I think I've got very good grounds to bring this action against them." He says banks shouldn't be allowed to manipulate debits and credits. It won't be an easy ride. Sain - "I'm going to go represent myself. Like I said, there are a lot of obstacles against me right now, and if I lose here at the district level, I will appeal to Richmond." We spoke with a representative from BB&T. She says she can not speak to the lawsuit. But when it comes to resequencing, she says, the bank's policy is to enter credits, or deposits first. Then she says the charges are subtracted from the account depending on how they come in. She says regardless of how the charges are represented in the account, the bank's policy is made clear to new clients and it is the client's responsibility to maintain a positive balance.

Can you get pissed at the bank for an answer like that? I'd say the same thing. It is not the bank's job to teach you to do math.

Hope that answers your question.