Goldman Sachs Gets Thrown in the Briar Patch by the DoJ



First, before you read the WSJ bit, check out this video. It will put everything into context nicely.


(is that Eddie Murphy as Br'er Fox?!)

Finding out that a lather can easily be worked up in response to a regulatory bitchslap, the Department of Justice will be next to line up against Goldman Sachs, sort of like the couples skate of regulation. Awww!



WSJ:

Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc. or its employees committed securities fraud in connection with its mortgage trading, people familiar with the probe say.

The investigation from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office, which is at a preliminary stage, stemmed from a referral from the Securities and Exchange Commission, these people say. The SEC recently filed civil securities-fraud charges against the big Wall Street firm and a trader in its mortgage group. Goldman and the trader say they have done nothing wrong and are fighting the civil charges.

Prosecutors haven't determined whether they will bring charges in the case, say the people familiar with the matter. Many criminal investigations are launched that never result in any charges.

Line up and get a piece while rage against the big bankers has reached its breaking point: the regulators are so desperate to get your respect back, they're trying to take down the largest piece of prey they can find.

Before you let them park a wooden horse in your driveway, make sure you check the trunk for termites.

Hey Buddy, What Are Those?



Hey buddy what are those? 


They're zeroes.


What are they for?


They're for... the thing. The really. BIG. Thing.


Treasurys, dollar fall after jobless claims

Hamster Cage Lining



Listen! It's a fucking recession and I quit my job so I could complain about this shit fulltime, what else do you want me to line the hamster cage with? Google Ads don't pay as well as they should you know.

I choose Carefresh litter for my little Smoky, but the shredded Fed comic books are a bonus as I would like my rodent to be up on Federal Reserve issues and the story of central banking in America.

You can order yours from the Federal Reserve of New York. Payback, bitch, my hamster is pissing on the idea of the Fed. She stuffs worms in her cheeks, that's pretty damn disrespectful.

Just Dump the Old One Into the Ocean or Something

Al Gore has made being an environmentalist not rad but that's why we have ad people.

TLP: What Alt-Tab is For

higher education porntotally SFW, which is the sad part

Now, just because no one at the SEC was fired for staring at porn for eight hours a day on the job, that doesn't mean it's going to work for everyone. I'm talking to you, North Carolina Research And Education Network. I saw what you did there.

About NCREN

Since 1985, MCNC has developed and operated the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) in collaboration with the University of North Carolina’s 16 campuses. The fiber-optic, private network is dedicated to research and education, providing a statewide network backbone to foster innovation. NCREN provides high-speed Internet, video, audio and data network services for North Carolina public universities, Duke University, Wake Forest University, other private universities and community colleges, state government and non-profit institutions. NCREN also provides access to national research networks. MCNC, founded in 1980 to be a catalyst for technology-based economic development throughout North Carolina, is located in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park. For more information, please visit https://www.mcnc.org/.
So, which was it. Research? Or education?

In Honor of Janet Yellen...



... if you want to call it "honor", that is.

It's official, President Obama has picked San Francisco Fed's Janet Yellen to serve as Fed Vice Chairman, replacing good ole salty Don Kohn who will be getting the hell out of there before the shit hits the fan. Might be a tad late but whatever.

Anyway, in "honor" of JDA's most loathed Fedhead's new position (if she accepts, which she will), how about some of Janet Yellen's greatest JDA hits?

SF Fedhead Yellen on Popping Bubbles

The Monetary Alchemists and Their Inflation Game


SF Fed's Yellen on Lehman Regret, Still Stinks of Goldman


SF Fed's Yellen: Still Advancing the Power Grab Agenda Hobbling on a Lehman Crutch

SF Fedhead Yellen: An Ode to the Economic Crisis, SF Fed-style

Well Thank Goodness JDA Isn't the Only One Who Thinks SF Fed's Janet Yellen is Smoking the Monetary Crack Cocaine


SF Fedhead Yellen: "Keep That Stimulus Coming, Doctor Bernanke!!"


SF Fedhead Yellen: If Her Husband Were a Crack Addict, He'd Be Turning Tricks as We Speak

Stupid Ideas from the Left: An "Irresponsible" Fed Chairman to Save Jobs

SF Fed's Janet Yellen... My New Favorite Fedhead?

SF Fedhead Yellen: US Interest Rates are Too Hot for Asian Markets

Federal Reserve System Presidents: "This is Your Ass!"

Breaking: Janet Yellen Single-Handedly Tanks the Dollar Just By Opening Her Mouth

JDA's Worst Nightmare Comes True: Obama Taps SF Fed's Janet Yellen as Fed Vice Chair?


All aboard the failboat to economic ruin and if you haven't started shorting the dollar, now might be the time (just sayin). Weeeee!!!

Viewing Porn for Eight Hours a Day Will Not Get You Fired From the SEC



Well I guess it is clear that the SEC doesn't care too much what goes down on their PP&E, even if it makes them look horrible and like total enablers.

WaPo:

None of the Securities and Exchange Commission employees caught using government computers to view pornographic images has been fired, according to the agency.

The SEC inspector general investigated 28 employees and five contractors for accessing inappropriate images and Web sites, according to a report released late last week.

Of the employees, eight resigned and six were suspended for periods lasting one to 14 days, the inspector general, H. David Kotz, said in an letter Tuesday to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). Five were issued formal reprimands, six were issued informal counseling or warning letters, and three are currently facing disciplinary action.

All five contractors caught were removed from their contracts, Kotz added.

As some of you know, JDA used to be quite the shit disturber in her younger days (um, used to be? Whatever) and spent a good 25% of her middle and high school days in detention or suspension. I wasn't a bad kid, I was just bored to death with remedial worksheets and crap geared towards the idiots of my generation, most of which was more appropriate for 4th graders than middle schoolers. Anyway, I can speak from experience when I say a 14 day "vacation" is not exactly a punishment, it just meant that the SEC porn addicts wouldn't have to shower, get dressed, and commute into work to spend 8 hours viewing porn. Anyone care to guess what the suspended employees did all day?

Probably the same thing I did when I was suspended from school. Duh.

Hiding Consumer Protection Inside the Fed's Insulation is NOT Financial "Reform"



If you have been holding out on joining the doom and gloom camp because you are looking for evidence that our position is a valid one, look no further than Washington.

Reuters:

"I had hoped that the vote today would have allowed the Senate to move to consideration of Wall Street reform in a bipartisan manner," said Democratic Senator Tim Johnson.

"Instead, the minority has decided it's better to delay another day. The Republicans also have yet to put forth their proposal on this because they don't want the American public to know if it's tilted in favor of Wall Street."

The Democrats' bill would set up an "orderly liquidation" process for dismantling large financial firms in distress, aiming to prevent more taxpayer bailouts like that of insurer AIG in 2008 and avert bankruptcies like the shocking collapse of Lehman Brothers in the same year, which paralyzed markets.

The bill would create a new financial consumer protection watchdog inside the Federal Reserve; impose regulations on the unpoliced $450-trillion over-the-counter derivatives markets; curb risky trading by banks; force hedge funds to register with the government; and crack down on debt securitization.

When even Dirty Fed operatives are protesting and calling out the absurdity of housing an agency like this inside the Fed (Dodd's reasoning is obvious, no?), it may be worth paying attention to. I know what you're thinking: of course Dirty Fed operatives are going to protest, this once again tightens the screws on the Fed's nutvice by regulating financial innovation to the point that the Fed may not even be needed for overnight loans (just one on a laundry list of preferred Fed tactics to keep their unstable banking system appearing as though it is solvent and sane). If they clamp down hard enough, they'll eventually eliminate the Fed entirely, leaving only a few check processing joints and maybe a secret bunker or two.

The Fed has already been thrown in the Briar Patch at this point, anything that you may hear from here on out could be actual cries of "please, no, don't!" from the Fed but who can say?

Oh and in case you don't already know, Dodd (and crew) are merely interested in creating an agency safely quarantined from pesky intrusions like full audits (think more protology exam than audit) and self-funding. He can loot the Fed AND do whatever within the agency and there's not really shit you can do about it because it will be stashed inside of the Fed. Tricky bastard but I don't see how that's going to work, nor how the Fed is going to go for it.

Let's keep in mind that the fuckers are holding $2 trillion of our investments right now and they've sort of screwed up the whole dollar thing so we probably want to distract them as little as possible while they figure that out.

Playing Peek-a-Boo With the PCAOB


 Don't try this at home, kids, I'm a professional.

Once upon a time, the PCAOB subscribed to me so months later, I've decided to return the favor. Listen, if you use your work email to get JDA, I'm going to see it and I'm going to Google you and I'm probably going to find some weird ass shit you like on Amazon. It's cool, that's what gmail is for. Or maybe you want me to find you. Either way, I'm not afraid to use my real email address because I'm pretty sure I'd like the PCAOB to know it's me, their pal JDA. xoxo.

Anyway, wanting to have reasonable assurance that the PCAOB was not farming my information (per the sentence at the bottom of the subscribe box), I checked out their privacy policy.

In general, you can visit our Web site without telling us who you are or providing personal information about yourself. At various places on our site, however, we tell you how to contact us and we encourage you to provide us with some details about yourself, such as your name, address, or phone number. We may gather and retain such personal information that you have voluntarily submitted. In addition, registration applicants provide us with requested information as part of our online registration process.
Principal reasons for our request for information are to enable us to respond to comments, questions, and complaints, to obtain the perspectives of people interested in the PCAOB’s rulemaking and other activities, to effectuate the registration process, and otherwise to carry out our statutory duties. Also, we may use information that has been provided in order to contact you or to provide you with information that we believe may be relevant to you.

I don't like the idea of the PCAOB knowing anything about what is relevant to me considering the fact that little about me can be gleaned from knowing my obviously totally real first name "Jr Deputy" and email address. That I have some weird cop fetish? That I'm not really an accountant but some sort of mentee? What sort of information would then be relevant to me and how would the PCAOB know that?

Good thing someone over there has been watching, maybe they know what is relevant to my interests.

TLP: Pimping the Studs During Derby Days

kentucky horse economyThe douchebag market is still strong

If you've ever wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby, this is your year. Aside from the parties and the infield drunkenness and the gaudy clothes, you could go home with a thoroughbred at a bargain price this year. Or better: buy a farm. There are plenty available.

NYT:

The for-sale signs on horse farms are as common as the bluegrass and the limestone fences here, and breeders have grown accustomed to sending horses through the auction ring and feeling fortunate when they fetch half of their asking price — or anything at all. The run-up to the Kentucky Derby is normally an exciting time for lawyers playing matchmaker between deep-pocketed clients and owners of can’t-miss stallion prospects.

No more.

“The rails are quiet,” said Mike Meuser, a Lexington lawyer who is usually in the forefront of such deals. “Collecting, or trying to collect money, is the bulk of my business these days.”
The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association says lending for horse-farm sales has dropped by 60 percent in the last three years. There's been a 30-percent jump in the number of horse farms for sale since last year and colts with hot bloodlines are going for a scant $2 million, down from nearly $10 million a few years ago.

More from the NYT:

The economic decline of racing, however, will be on full display during this year’s Triple Crown season. Eskendereya, who would have been the favorite for the Kentucky Derby but was pulled out with an injury, is owned by a bankrupt stable. The owners of Pimlico Race Course, the historic racetrack in Baltimore that hosts the Preakness Stakes, are going through bankruptcy. And the New York Racing Association said it might not have enough money to hold the Belmont Stakes this year; it is trying to get a loan from the state government.

Dynamics similar to those that brought down subprime mortgages have been at work in the horse business: no-money-down lending and a breeding market based on the assumption of ever-rising prices.

“We ignored the notion of supply and demand,” said Arnold Kirkpatrick, president of the Lexington real estate firm Kirkpatrick & Company. “We bred too many horses, overborrowed to do it, and are now caught trying to sell them to people who don’t want them.”
You still could get lucky. The mares are, according to the Times:
These days it is far cheaper to get a date with a blue-blooded stallion. The top of the market for stallions like Dynaformer is $150,000, according to BloodHorse.com. Smarty Jones, who nearly swept the Triple Crown in 2004, once stood for $100,000, but today he can be had for $10,000.
Is that what you call a cheap shot?

Bernanke Wants a Simplified Tax Code and For the US to Get Its Debt Problem Under Control



In non-news, Ben Bernanke insists that the US must cut its deficit or face the consequences. This is sort of like the crack dealer staging an intervention for his most cracked-out customer and while it used to be fun to watch, it's getting old (and scary).

WSJ:

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday the U.S. needs to soon come up with a plan to cut the budget deficit, urging President Barack Obama's debt commission to look at how the tax system can be changed.

Speaking to the bipartisan commission, Mr. Bernanke stressed that an economy is stronger when taxes aren't too high and are collected in an efficient, equitable and transparent way.

"At present, a broad consensus exists that the U.S. tax code does not satisfy these criteria and is in need of reform," Mr. Bernanke said in prepared remarks to the first meeting of the commission, which was hosted by Mr. Obama.

"I suspect that it is too much to ask the commission to review the tax code in detail, but a full picture of our budgetary dilemma will require attention to the strengths and weaknesses of our current system of raising revenue," the Fed chief said.

The full text of Bernanke's remarks may be found via the Board of Governors here.

Here's my favorite quip from our dear Fed Chairman:

No laws are more basic than the laws of arithmetic: For fiscal sustainability, whatever level of spending is chosen, revenues must be sufficient to sustain that spending in the long run.

That's funny, isn't a large chunk of our federal income tax spending based on servicing outstanding debt, much of which was issued by the Fed itself? Or did you think we got all those Federal Reserve Notes in your wallet for free as a favor from Uncle Fed? You wish.

Not Only Did Fab Tourre Use Shitty CDOs To Advance Goldman Goals But Emoticons Too

Thanks, TLP, for the "shirt" (if that's what they are calling it these days)

GET THE NOOSE READY!! The dirty GS motherfucker used exclamation points and emoticons in emails to his girlfriend!!! Those filthy Goldman bastards!!

CNN Money:
The e-mails, which make liberal use of exclamation points and contain more than a few emoticons, illustrate both Tourre's cavalier attitude and the doubts he harbored about the CDO business.

In one e-mail, Tourre boldly acknowledged that he didn't necessarily understand "all the implications" of the complicated and highly leveraged bets he was placing, adding that he was, in a twisted bit of logic, working on behalf of American consumers.

"Anyway, not feeling too guilty about this, the real purpose of my job is to make capital markets more efficient and ultimately provide the U.S. consumer with more efficient ways to leverage and finance himself, so there is a humble, noble and ethical reason for my job ;)" Tourre wrote.

Well wait a minute, was Tourre really plotting against Goldman's stupid ass clients or was he just trying to show off what a financial gangster he was to a girl he was screwing (or trying to screw)?

Personally I'm not that turned on by emoticons myself but used in moderation, they can certainly be both useful and descriptive. x_@, for example. Excessively useful.

Bailout Lies Couldn't Save Greece From Getting Downgraded to Junk



Hey, what happened to that bailout that Greece was going to get? You know, the one we've been hearing about for weeks on end while at the same time seeing chart after chart showing Greece doomed to an awful slog to normal (and that's only if they can manage 6% GDP growth year to year - bwhahaha! The world does not need that many hairy guys and feta cheese, sorry).

Oh, sorry, even though Standard & Poor's gave Greek debt the dreaded junk rating, we're still apparently talking about a bailout. Sure OK.

Reuters:

Greece wants a quick conclusion of ongoing talks with the EU and the IMF to get a 45-billion euro aid package rolling in, the country's government spokesman said on Tuesday.

"We are doing everything needed, and are looking forward to a quick end to negotiations for the agreement to be concluded and funding to roll in," Petalotis told Reuters.

Earlier on Tuesday, S&P downgraded the country's bonds to junk status.

"The downgrade proves that this is a wider, European problem, not just a Greek one," Petalotis told Reuters.

Just because JDA is a helpful girl, I'll go ahead and explain what "ongoing talks" means - it doesn't mean that the IMF is discussing how much and when, it means that Greece and the IMF have to come up with a way to get a bailout together that won't compromise the entire foundation of the EU. Good luck with that cluck mission, if I am not mistaken we learned very early on that a Greece bailout would be expressly forbidden under EU agreements. Like "the law" ever stopped the IMF before, they're just having an "ongoing talk" about how to pull it off without starting some kind of European stand-off.

Hey America, if you're sitting there laughing at those darn European bastards, how about trying a little humility and taking notes instead? After all, we're not that far behind them and by that point, the IMF will be needing their own bailout if things keep up like this.

Yay recovery!

Yes, Virginia, There Is a War Going On (Two, Actually, Now Get Cracking)

 
Good news for Virginia, and especially the mathletes over at the Richmond Fed who have to make the indexes look a lot better than they actually are for the 5th District.

WaPo:

Northrop Grumman has chosen Northern Virginia as the new home for its global headquarters, ending a heated competition among Virginia, Maryland and the District for the prestige of playing host to the defense contracting giant.

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced the decision Monday night in a joint statement with Northrop, describing the selection as a victory for what he called his administration's commitment to promoting business development.

"To gain the corporate headquarters of one of the largest global security contractors in the world is a testament to the strong business climate that we are focused on continually improving," said McDonnell, who has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon at Northrop's Rosslyn offices to discuss the move.

The statement did not specify a final site for the new headquarters. The company has been considering locations in Fairfax and Arlington.

Maryland tried to seduce Northrop Grumman too but with the argument that it is far more gay-friendly than, say, Northern Virginia. I can't say I've seen much of the state and there were only slight amounts of gay going on in the area that I did happen to catch but that's irrelevant and Maryland lost. Besides, it's still the same damn district and YAY will this make the numbers look shiny and new.

BEST. RECOVERY. EVAR!! Now let's build some weapons and blow some shit up! Woo!

Someone hide Jocelyn Testes-Harder if other businesses start sniffing around Virginia to see if they can get a piece of this hot McDonnell action while the checks are still good.

In More Backwards SF Political News, SF Supervisors Call for Arizona Boycott

 I am all for immigration... legal immigration.

I'm not sure who in San Francisco can afford vacations right now anyway (or who is left here in this town besides me and the hamster) but if they can, I doubt they were going to head to Arizona anyway. Oh wait a minute, they mean like SF pretends Arizona doesn't exist and cuts any ties with the state when it comes to business? Well for fuck's sake, why would the city be doing a bunch of business out-of-state in the first place, awful immigration laws aside?

SF Gate:

San Francisco's supervisors are calling for a sweeping boycott of Arizona in the wake of that state's harsh new rules aimed at illegal immigrants.

A resolution that will go before the board Tuesday will call for San Francisco to end any and all contracts with Arizona-based companies and to stop doing business with the state.

"We want to send a message," Supervisor David Campos told a rally on the steps of City Hall this morning. "There are consequences when you target a whole people."


If you really have a bunch of time on your hands, check out all 1100+ comments. Or maybe just two or three. Si se puede, San Pancho, si se puede.

For example:

I wish the SF BOS would put this much effort into getting rid of the Human feces on Market. I get tired of watching bums take a dump.

TLP: It Would Have Gotten There Sooner If It Were A Stimulus Project

smoking obama
More than a year after Barack Obama became president, his official portrait will be on the wall of the Adams County Courthouse in Nebraska. Meanwhile, elected officials have had plenty of LOLz.

The Huffington Post smokes out the story:

The Adams County Courthouse meeting room will soon be getting an official portrait of President Barack Obama nearly 18 months after Obama was elected.

The portrait will hang in a spot that had held a framed black-and-white image depicting the President with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. That photo -- a notorious fake -- drew a complaint from a county official who found it disrespectful.

County Supervisor Eldon Orthmann, a Republican, told the Hastings Tribune that he had the smoking photo matted and framed at his own expense. Orthmann said he had hung it next to an official photo of Gov. Dave Heineman as a joke.

County Supervisor Lee Saathoff, the board's lone Democrat, said Monday that U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson's office is sending the county an official presidential portrait.
This important political dispute should have been settled already. All someone had to do was invoke the county smoking ban.

TLP: Hollywood Shows Wall Street Who Has The Big Swinging Dick

hollywood lobbying
Hollywood may know a thing or two about how Wall Street works after all, regardless of what Shia LeBeouf may think about InterOil. And the movie lobby really seems to know a thing or two about Washington.

Mother Jones (wait, what? on JDA?):

For weeks, big movie studios have been fighting an effort by two financial firms to launch a new market in movie futures that would allow investors to bet on box office takings. The financial firms think this is an Oscar-worthy scheme. The movie studios panned it. Wall Street is used to getting its way in Washington. But this time, the James Camerons of the world appear to have outsmarted the Gordon Gekkos.

This Capitol Hill clash began with the Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX), a fake-money internet game in which players try to predict the box office takes of Hollywood's biggest flicks. In 2001, Cantor Fitzgerald, a Wall Street investment firm, bought the five-year-old HSX with the intention of perhaps starting a real-money market along the same lines.
Cantor Fitzgerald was nearly wiped out on 9/11 and it wasn't until 2008 that the firm asked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to approve HSX. The OK came this month for HSX and another exchange, Media Derivatives Inc. (MDEX). And that's when the Motion Picture Association of America lobbyists decided it was time for their close-up.

More Mother Jones:

Cantor Fitzgerald may be a big deal on Wall Street. But it doesn't have nearly as much pull on the Hill. It hasn't lobbied the Senate directly since 2002, according to disclosure databases. And while its employees give generously to congressional candidates, it doesn't have a PAC exclusively promoting its interests. MDEX—an Arizona-based firm started in 2007—is even less of a Washington player.

Hollywood’s lobbying paid off. On April 16, as MDEX executives were no doubt celebrating their good fortune, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) released her draft financial regulatory reform bill. In it, she proposed the first exclusion of a product from futures markets since angry onion farmers descended on Congress in 1958 to accuse Chicago-based traders of capturing the market and artificially driving down prices. The current law lays out rules governing the trade of derivatives of any product "except onions." If Lincoln’s bill passes, it will read "except onions and motion picture box office receipts (or any index, measure, value, or data related to such receipts)."
Looks like Gordon Gekko could take a lesson or two from the MPAA.

UBS, Ernst & Young Discover Settling Is Good for the Soul



OK, so maybe it isn't good for the soul but settling is excellent if you are trying to run a quick scam and not really have to pay for it.

Reuters
:

The Swiss bank UBS AG and the accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP have agreed to $250.5 million of settlements to resolve investor lawsuits over a fraud that nearly destroyed the hospital operator HealthSouth Corp.

UBS insurers will pay $117 million to HealthSouth shareholders and $100 million to bondholders, and Ernst & Young will pay $33.5 million to the bondholders, documents filed on Thursday with the federal court in Birmingham, Alabama show.

The settlements require approval by U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre. UBS and Ernst & Young denied wrongdoing, the court documents show.

Ernst & Young also had agreed in early 2009 to a $109 million settlement with HealthSouth shareholders.

UBS in 2008 separately agreed to pay HealthSouth $100 million to settle a lawsuit filed by shareholders on the company's behalf.

Fuck math! Let's add it up anyway.

$117 million + 100 million + 33.5 million plus $109 million + $100 million? $250.5 million + $209 million = $459.5 million between E&Y and UBS.

UBS alone posted a $1.12 billion profit for Q4 2009 (though ended the year with a loss due to certain legal entanglements it has found itself in of late) so really, in the grand scheme of things, its share of a $459.5 million settlement over HealthSouth can't be that bad.

IMF Chief Promotes a Bank Tax... Only On the Countries With the Most F%^*ed Up Banks



It's classy that the IMF will not specifically say which countries he believes should pay a "bank tax" because just saying that it should be the ones that imploded the economy assumes that he is at least referring to America and that's all we care about. Anyway. Damn.

Reuters:

Countries that weathered the global economic crisis with their financial systems relatively unscathed are being shortsighted by opposing a global bank levy, the IMF's chief said on Saturday.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn suggested a bank tax would be helpful in preparing for crises that could strike anywhere and indirectly criticized countries that might think they would never feel the brunt of a downturn.

"The countries ... which are likely to implement (a bank tax) are the ones having had problems in the banking sector," Strauss-Kahn said. "The others say, 'We didn't have a problem so we're immune.'"

"Maybe it's a bit shortsighted," he added, without naming any countries. Canada has taken a lead role in rallying opposition to a tax on banks, and anti-poverty organization Oxfam zeroed in on it for that stance.

Again, you don't have to be explicit to get your point across.

There should be more spanking in banking (tm Minnesota Fed, pretty much) but I'm not sure the IMF is the place to get useful regulatory suggestions seeing as how their business model is essentially to bury nations in mountains of debt. Under the guise of help. A bank tax comes wrapped in the same shiny packaging and is, conveniently, endorsed by the guy whose job it is to push as much debt as possible.

Jamie Dimon has already threatened retaliation; not against the regulators but the consumer (excuse me, motherfucker, I use your bank, don't fuck with me) and that means a heavier debt yoke to carry for piss poor America. Or Canada. Or to whomever Strauss-Kahn is referring.

Be wary of solutions tied with these bows.

Ron Paul: "The Birth and Death of the Fed"


 It's long but did you really have anything better to do?



Bonus points for hijacking Jekyll Island for Dr Paul's own purposes.

TLP: Isn't That A Pretty Ad? You Know You Want To Click It.

internet advertising
No surprise that this was coming. Magazines lost the porn business to the Internet long ago. And now, advertising spending online has surpassed ad dollars in magazine.

NYT:

For the first time, marketers spent more in 2009 on Internet advertising than in magazines, according to a report from ZenithOptimedia, which said online ad spending would rapidly close ground on newspapers. Despite a record-setting $6.3 billion fourth quarter, online advertising revenue declined 3.4 percent for the year from 2008, the first year-over-year falloff since 2002. The loss in ad spending across all media was an even steeper 12.3 percent for the year and 2 percent for the fourth quarter.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers reported that search ads posted a slight rise from 2008, comprising 47 percent of all Internet ad spending. Display ad spending rose a similar amount, while digital video ads climbed 38 percent. Revenues for online classifieds and e-mail advertising plummeted.
Advertising sales at major magazines fell to $19.5 billion, the report said. Meanwhile, online ad spending topped $22.6 billion last year. The number can only go higher. After all, this site is now in the game.

TLP: But Does It Have Anything to Do With Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa?

green wind energyBlame the BBC

To some people, they are a peaceful, even soothing, "green" alternative energy source. To others, they are just fucking creepy. Especially at night.

This appears to be the week that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce his decision on a contentious wind farm proposal off the coast of Cape Cod. Plans have been in the works for nine years, which is a long time to wait for a blow job.

NYT:

The governors of six East Coast states called on Mr. Salazar last week to approve the project, which is proposed by Cape Wind Associates and would be the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Turning it down, they said, especially on the grounds that it would harm the view from historic sites, “would establish a precedent that would make it difficult, if not impossible, to site offshore wind projects anywhere along the Eastern Seaboard.”

Their states — Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — all have offshore wind projects in the works. Four of the governors are Democrats and two, in New Jersey and Rhode Island, are Republicans, showing that views of Cape Wind do not break down along political lines.
Seems there's some worry among Eastern states about the prospect of losing the opportunity to build wind farms. Good for the economy, more jobs, less reliance on foreign oil and dirty, dirty coal. Something like that.

The big complaint about offshore wind farms is that the spinning turbines fuck up the ocean view. Topping the list of opponents of the Cape Cod project has been the Kennedy family, which owns a nice piece of coastal real estate in the area. They're just not seeing the potential.

Cape Wind would be 5 miles offshore and the turbines would reach 440 feet above the water. Pretty much the province of fishermen and dolphins. Farmers and cows manage to tolerate Midwestern wind farms, even if highway travelers get a little freaked.

TierOne Bank is Completely F%$^ed



Feel free to read all about it at Going Concern, and thanks, KPMG, for making me work on a freaking Sunday night.

What I'm Beating TLP With This Week: 4/25/10



After a brief beating hiatus while I attended to, well, you guys know by now, I'm back with a few weeks' worth of neglected newspapers that I haven't even glanced at and in the mood to whack TLP around like a red-headed stepchild just for kicks. Well that and obviously he likes it. A lot.

Anyway, here's what he missed this week.

Pay No Attention To The SEC Failure Behind The Curtain If it doesn't fit, you must acquit. In the case of the SEC, it looks like it may be time to put this lame horse out of its misery once and for all. Regulatory FAIL! (LOLFed)

The Thing About Selling Stocks Is, You’re Forced To Buy Something Else I'll take gold for $2000, Alex. And throw in a diamond-encrusted hood ornament for my Mazda, I'm feeling awfully confident that the Bernanke easy money whore cash will never run out. BEST RECOVERY EVAR!! (The Reformed Broker)

Iowan Thinking In Greece! For what won't be the last time, Skeptical CPA is again warning us of the dangers of government bonds. And talking a bunch of shit about the idiots who think they can sell it to us indefinitely, of course. (Skeptical CPA)

Why Can't They See? Michael Panzner just can't figure out what's wrong with all of you gloom-and-doomer Americans who refuse to drink the Kool-aid and party up this awesome recovery we are experiencing. DOW reaches a new high! Cash for Clunkers was a success! It's all over and we saved Bank of America! Yeah... sure. (Financial Armageddon)

Saturday Morning Fear Warning Gold will keep rising and Janet Yellen will always be an idiot, says Marc Faber. That was totally worth putting down my Cheerios for. (Kliguy38)

Great Big Drawbacks to Getting Your PhD in Accounting Well thank goodness TLP and JDA aren't mathletes anyway... (Joe Kristan via Going Concern)

Financial Reform: Consumer Protection Former Dallas Fedhead Bob McTeer speaks like a true economist when he offers up the same for and against argument on the financial reform front. "Just don’t engage in the sham of making the Fed a landlord and sugar daddy" could be one of the greatest lines in Dirty Fed guy history, if someone is keeping track of such things. (Bob McTeer)

Internecine Warfare Community bankers seem to be forgetting that Wall Street is not on their side. Hell, they aren't on anyone's side except their own. BLB reminds them with this striking bit of poetic wisdom: "Sometimes in a war, the enemy of your enemy is not, in fact, your friend. By the time you realize it, there's a bullet in your back." (Bank Lawyer's Blog)

And finally, former Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter Senior Editor Randall Marquis has put together a new site aggregating some of the best financial content, business and economy news, and of course mortgage haps from around the web. Check it out at Lender-Reviews.com and stay tuned for the evolution of Randall's new site - we wish him the best!

That should keep that paperboy in line for now... but I'll be happy to pull out last week's Sunday NYT and give him a good midweek smacking around if necessary. I'll be tied up as guest editor for Going Concern all week (on top of my daily column there) but can always make time for a good beating. You know, if warranted.

TLP: Is That You, Dennis?

click on it, unless you're Dennis Miller

Wow. Four minutes. You are an attention whore.

I didn't even spend that long writing it.


TLP: It's Not a Very Long List

cheney politics
Anyone remember Dennis Miller? Not surprising. As a refresher, when he was a comedian, he succeeded mainly in cracking himself up. Whatever.

In his latest gig as a radio talk show host, he's trading yuks with Dick Cheney. They were reliving the good old days of 2004 (only a year after "Mission Accomplished" was declared in Iraq) and Miller brought up the best-known example of Cheney's razor-sharp debating skills. Specifically, when his argument with Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy ended with, "Fuck yourself."

Think Progress somehow found Miller on the radio:

MILLER: By the way, my, I also want to thank you, on the list of things I feel I should thank you for, almost kicking Patrick Leahy’s ass. Thank you very much.

CHENEY: Hehehehe.

MILLER: I love that move. One of my favorite stories. Muttering that.

CHENEY: You’d be surprised how many people liked that. That’s sort of the best thing I ever did.


As usual, the story is not complete without the comments. Stay classy, Dick!

Financial Reform: Don't Reform It, Just Subsidize It

 Guess where it's going, America?

Thursday, President Obama found himself begging Wall Street to accept "financial reform" much like a mother chases her 5 year old around with a gooey spoon of Robitussin. Go on, it's good for you he seemed to say, promising toy trains and candy for bankers who accept the bad-tasting elixir he's pushing.

At least we can be reassured in knowing OMG! Obama is totally hip to the irony:

“Through the great banking houses of Manhattan last week ran wild-eyed alarm. Big bankers stared at one another in anger and astonishment. A bill just passed … would rivet upon their institutions what they considered a monstrous system. … Such a system, they felt, would not only rob them of their pride of profession but would reduce all U.S. banking to its lowest level.” Mr. Obama added, to laughter: “That appeared in Time magazine – in June of 1933. The system that caused so much concern and consternation? The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – the F.D.I.C. – an institution that has successfully secured the deposits of generations of Americans.

Join us, he said.

Join whom?

The same group of criminals who engineered the faulty system in the first place? The enablers of moral hazard who pimp their wares at every opportunity with securitization and insurance?

Financial reform as authored by financial morons can only lead to disaster (see also: the FDIC, which has failed 50 banks this year - last week alone cost them $985 million) and last I checked, Mr Obama was not an economist. Even the economists don't know how to jam this monster back in the box, or should I say that especially the economists do not know? Holding a position in politics does not necessarily make one equipped to make decisions of this magnitude, and let's not get into asshats like Chris Dodd putting their greasy fingerprints all over the carcass to get the last of the meaty bits before "reform" clamps down and cauterizes the gaping wound.

Not buying it. Not against financial reform but this ain't the reform I'm looking for so I respectfully decline Mr Obama's invitation to join him and hope Lord Blankfein and Michael Bloomberg have the brain cells to rub together to do the same. If you see Tim Geithner endorsing it, it's failure wrapped up with the disclaimer "In the taxpayers' best interest" as if Geithner knows anything about being a taxpayer in the first place or cares anything about your best interest.

Put in simpler terms that just about anyone can understand: if you jerk off in the dark with your left hand, you're still jerking off. Obama's on his own with that one but reliable sources indicate Blankfein loves the old left handjob from the administration. Any administration.

If You Exclude How Expensive Fuel Is, Airlines Maybe Did OK...



... Well actually not really. But you can't just ignore the fuel issue (like asshat economists tend to do when discussing "upward price movement" and other such nonsense) so if you go ahead and scribble that back in, airlines have had a rough go of it and then this fucking volcano slaps them in the face with nearly $2 billion in lost revenue. Blizzards on the East Coast, Katrina, El Nino, volcanoes, what the fuck else does the Earth have to say to you before you concede and accept that it is pissed off right now?

Anyway. Airlines. They're fucked. (Reuters):
The first wave of financial results for 2010 have been mixed. Carriers are reporting improved revenue and effective cost controls, save for stubbornly high fuel expenses.

Airline executives also worry that the slow pace of economic recovery may limit future earnings, despite rising fares and passenger demand.

More immediately, airlines are trying to clear a backlog of millions of passengers stranded last week after a volcanic eruption in Iceland paralyzed global air travel.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates the crisis cost airlines revenues of more than $1.7 billion by Tuesday.

I actually gave the airlines a metric shit ton of money last year and part of this year, and will continue to do so as long as I can afford to. Does my $250 round-trip to Dallas do anything for United or whomever the hell I took that came up cheapest on Travelocity? Probably not. Especially not after this volcano crap.

Also according to the IATA, aviation jet fuel prices are up 54% for the year. FAP goes one more blow to airlines and, subsequently, jet fuel refiners.

See you at SFO, bitches. Gimme the discount seats and cut all the free drinks you want, just get me where I'm going and I'm cool with it.

CNN Fronts Off the SEC's Porn Problem



Apparently the case of the SEC employee checking out porn on the clock is not an isolated incident but something of an epidemic. It would explain why repeated complaints from whistleblowers were ignored as it's pretty hard to take calls from Harry Markopolos when you're trying to squeeze one out with the YouPorn.

CNN:

As the country was sinking into its worst financial crisis in more than 70 years, Security and Exchange Commission employees and contractors cruised porn sites and viewed sexually explicit pictures using government computers, an SEC investigation obtained by CNN showed.

"During the past five years, the SEC OIG (Office of Inspector General) substantiated that 33 SEC employees and or contractors violated Commission rules and policies, as well as the government-wide Standards of Ethical Conduct, by viewing pornographic, sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images using government computer resources and official time," said a summary of the investigation by the inspector general's office.

In retrospect, I realize that my comments about the SEC's impotency may have been inappropriate. Not because it is offensive to the SEC but because perhaps their potency has always been the problem.

Fapfapfapfapfap

Stimulus Waste In Your Hood!



Want to find out how Stimulus dollars are being wasted right in your backyard (and/or off the side of your half a patio if you live in San Francisco like some of us)? Check out Recovery.gov's handy map.

I plugged in my zip code and discovered nearly $650,000 to Blood Centers of the Pacific to save (or create) 1.35 job(s).

Or there's $238,461,066 to Stockton-based Applied Aerospace Structures, Corp (a military service provider).

$25 million to PG&E.

$11,000 to Pat's Garage (yes, just a local auto shop).

Go on, try it.

TLP: There's a Better Way to Answer the Question: "Are You Angry?"

msnbc olbermann
MSNBC has spiked a planned weeklong report by adman Donny Deutsch called, "America the Angry," after part of one installment made network anchor Keith Olbermann, uh, angry. Deutsch included Keith-O in a segment on angry media figures, along with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly. Hmmm, what could have set him off?

NYT:

The incident led to charges that MSNBC, a unit of NBC Universal, had stifled criticism of itself on its own channel.

“The segment did not go unnoticed and we’re dealing with it internally,” Jeremy Gaines, an MSNBC spokesman, said Wednesday.

Four people briefed on MSNBC’s decision said that Mr. Olbermann was angered by the segment, and that his displeasure prompted the cancellation of the “America the Angry” series. But in an e-mail message Mr. Olbermann said that account was untrue; he wrote that Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, “phoned me yesterday enraged at what was on that show and I didn’t disagree with him.”

Mr. Deutsch, the well-known advertising executive, declined to comment on either version of events Wednesday afternoon, but said that “for whatever reason they decided they didn’t want to go with it the rest of the week.”

Funny, but I don't recall NBC pulling the plug on "Saturday Night Live" after this:

TLP: Fear and Laziness in Las Vegas

nevada politics reid lowdenCredit: Disney

Are Nevada Democrats scared? Or just lazy? A potential Republican opponent for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has captured outsized attention for an unconventional idea — bartering for health care. So what's the response? Mock her mercilessly.

GOP candidate Sue Lowden raised the idea. CNN has the latest details:


"Before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say, 'I'll paint your house,'" Lowden said on the broadcast.

"Doctors are very sympathetic people. I'm not backing down from that system," she added.

Lowden's Communications Director Crystal Feldman defended her argument, telling CNN, "Sue never offered to exchange livestock for health care, she merely referred to practices used in the past."
A little off-beat, but intriguing. Bartering does have a storied past and often was the only choice people had. The Lazy Paperboy's grandfather was a small-town druggist and, during the Depression, graciously accepted whatever his customers could offer. One carved an intricate wooden buffalo that is an heirloom 75 years later. Other alternative payment arrangements are not unheard of, even today.

Maybe Lowden is goofy and making fun of her is a way for Nevada Democrats to kill time (while their Republican counterparts fight over teabagging rights. But she hasn't even won the primary. So maybe Reid's campaign isn't so much lazy (ahem, that's my gig, anyway) as they are frightened. And there's no market for that with voters. Even if you barter.

Trillion Dollar Bill Test Run (Or a $100 Bill Facelift, Who Knows)



TLP covered it earlier but since I'm a way bigger money whore than he is, I get to cover it too.

It's big, it's ugly, and it's meant to eliminate nasty North Korean counterfeiting, or so we are told.

OMG it is porn! Watch it!



(thanks, AP)

Seriously, does anyone remember that site De-noted? This bill looks like something someone took a Sharpie to in an attempt to make a funny picture except there's nothing funny about a dotted road line down the middle of a $100.

Who wants to bet this is just practice for the brand spanking new $1000 and $10000 bills?

Don't Get Caught Up in the Goldman-SEC Hype



Sure, Lord Blankfein is going to have to testify at the altar of The Hill (big fucking deal, Bernanke does it all the time).

Sure, the SEC swooped in to spank Goldman's ass on a Friday with little warning.

Sure, they're kind of fucked. But this is not news.

Try JDA, June, 2009. Or Zero Hedge, July, 2009. Come on, it took the SEC this long to put together anything substantial?! Bitch, please.

Someone come get me when we're ready to go in there (figurative) guns blazing ready to take the joint back otherwise this is just slapping with the left while jerking off with the right. Goldman is not afraid of the SEC, why should they be?

Via Going Concern: Espada's Nonprofit Looting Problem



GC:

“Siphoning money from a charity would be egregious under any circumstances, but the fact that this was orchestrated by the State Senate Majority Leader makes it especially reprehensible,” Cuomo said in a statement.

What's so wrong with looting a non-profit? Going Concern can tell you all about NY State Senator Pedro Espada's little $14 million oopsie.

TLP: You Can Almost Hear the Printing Presses Gearing Up Now



The Lazy Paperboy loves his C-notes. Keeps an envelope full of hundreds in a handy, but not too handy place, for adventures that are better carried out on a strictly cash basis.

So it's good to hear that this new $100 bill won't affect his stash. Hey, this came from Ben himself. (Uh, this Ben, not that Ben).
"When the new design $100 note is issued on February 10, 2011, the approximately 6.5 billion older design $100s already in circulation will remain legal tender," said Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Ben S. Bernanke. "U.S. currency users should know they will not have to trade in their older design $100 notes when the new ones begin circulating."

That 6.5 billion figure does not include the bills this maneuver is really all about. It's the phonies, fakies and sham bills being counterfeited around the world. Anybody who can cook up a batch of passable benjamins knows it's golden. (It won't be a surprise if JDA pounces on that turn of phrase, especially regarding U.S. currency.)

The real pricks pulling off this stunt appear to be the North Koreans, who seem to have acquired just the right equipment to produce pretty fucking good fakes. A couple of years ago, the NYT picked this one apart:
The counterfeiting of American currency by North Korea might seem, to some, to be a minor provocation by that country’s standards. North Korea, after all, has exported missile technology in blatant disregard of international norms; engaged in a decades-long campaign of kidnapping citizens of other countries; abandoned pledges not to pursue nuclear weapons; and most recently, on July 4, launched ballistic missiles in defiance of warnings from several countries, including the United States.

But several current and former Bush administration officials whom I spoke with several months ago maintain that the counterfeiting is in important ways a comparable outrage. Michael Green, a former point man for Asia on the National Security Council, told me that in the past, counterfeiting has been seen as an “act of war.” A current senior administration official, who was granted anonymity because of the sensitivity of relations between the United States and North Korea, agreed that the counterfeiting could be construed by some as a hostile act against another nation under international law and added that the counterfeits, by creating mistrust in the American currency, posed a “threat to the American people.”

The words "Bush administration" should be a giveaway about how long this has been in the works. Hopefully, a $100 will still be worth $100 by the time that scam gets broken up.

Long Live the Deflationistas



Business Week believes "poor pricing power" is the problem.
The attention of policymakers and economists is trained mostly on a looming inflation threat, the drawback you typically associate with enormous amounts of liquidity pumped into the financial system and an economy rebounding from a severe recession. A negligible 0.1% rise in the March consumer price index and comments from the Federal Reserve that interest rates will remain very low for an extended time don't appear to confirm that risk, however.

Some economists and analysts see reasons to worry about the opposite scenario—a period of deflation if companies feel compelled to lower prices to jump-start demand in a sluggish economic recovery burdened by high unemployment. Consumers initially embrace falling prices, but if it becomes deep and pervasive enough, deflation will eventually push employers to cut wages and ax jobs, driving worried consumers into complete retreat. Perhaps most dangerous, deflation hikes the cost of repaying debt by boosting the value of the dollar.

That the value of the U.S. dollar is down 30% from its peak several years ago should have been sufficient to restore the U.S. to a fairly competitive trade position, even given the euro's recent decline, says Barry Bosworth, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. But U.S. exports, which were robust in the first half of 2009, have disappointed since then. "For the U.S. to have a positive outlook, we have to have an export-led economy," he says. "We can't expect [domestic] construction to come back any time soon."

The first problem with the deflation argument is that you can not necessarily label fear as forced price cutting. The second is that when the economy has been distorted beyond natural "fluctuations" found in the wild, it's difficult to define any of it using the same parameters as one that isn't manipulated beyond recognition. All that to say desperation is not deflation.

Ask the Bank of Japan about deflation. Then we can whine about the bitch ass consumer who refuses to carry the upward leg of this "recovery" forcing prices down.

Happy 420, Now Tax It



When KTVU has a guy on scene in Golden Gate Park on 4/20 with stoners saying "Tax it, we're broke!" you know it might be time to do something.

KTVU said the San Francisco Police Department took a hands off approach to 420 today but the reality is SFPD takes a hands off approach to weed each and every day. Oh well.

Tax it, we're broke.

(Tell me David Stevenson wasn't stoned off his ass reporting from the scene in GG Park)

And while you're high and fucking around on the Internet, check out Medithrive (the Starbucks of Cannabis) and/or Larry Carlson. And don't miss the "marijuana enthusiast" with all the bitches.

TLP: This Is Florida, So "It Depends" May Be The Perfect Answer

romney politics stimulus Credit: "This ... is CNN"

You have to figure Mitt Romney is serious about the presidential race. He's having trouble answering questions again. This time, it's about whether he would have taken stimulus money when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Campaigning for alleged back waxer Marco Rubio, who is running against Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, Romney trashed the Obama stimulus package. He also slapped at Crist, who got behind the plan and accepted the money.

CNN:

"What I would not have done would have been to welcome President Obama and say, 'This stimulus is one I support,'" the former Massachusetts governor said. "The Obama stimulus was a mistake for the country. It was a mistake for Florida. It did not create any new net jobs in the private sector. The only place it created jobs was in government."

Pressed again on whether he would have taken stimulus cash, Romney said: "It depends on what the money was."

"I haven't looked at each piece of it," he said. "I know some governors took some pieces. Others they said it would have required them to pay state money over some period of years."

"I can tell you I have not supported the Obama stimulus plan," he continued. "I think it was an enormous mistake."

Come on, Mitt, you can do better than that. If you want to say the stimulus was an enormous mistake, put a little real-life experience into it.

Eh. It's kind of the Romney rap. Like with Obamacare.

Salon:
"An unconscionable abuse of power," Romney declared while asserting that the president "has betrayed his oath to the nation."

When Mitt starts talking like this, it's usually because he knows his own past record makes him vulnerable on the issue at hand.

And when it comes to healthcare, his hypocrisy is particularly galling. Romney is actually the only governor in American history ever to impose an individual health insurance mandate on his citizens. And an individual mandate, of course, is at the heart of Obama's reform package.
Not that I'm complaining.

Turning the Company PP&E Into a Sex Toy

If you get busted by the unwashed masses for sexting,
remember: it could always be worse.

I didn't get a BlackBerry for kicks you know (preferred method of communication for the Fed, duh).


NY Times:

The question in a case argued Monday in the Supreme Court sounded both irresistible and important: Did a California police department violate the Constitution by reading sexually explicit text messages sent by an officer on a department-issued pager?

But the tangled factual record, uncertainty about where technology is heading and occasionally muddled advocacy pointed toward a limited ruling that might provide little guidance to government employers and perhaps none to private ones.

“I just don’t know how you tell what is reasonable,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said. “I suspect it might change with how old people are and how comfortable they are with the technology.”

Listen, if you are using company PP&E for any personal purpose - be it visiting hookers, explicit texting and/or whoring it up at a cheap Travelodge with your mistress instead of using the sweet ass cottage taxpayers are paying for - you have to accept the terms and conditions. Your boss might catch you. Worse, the public might catch you. Maybe your boss is half naked with his thumbs all over the company BlackBerry Messenger, who can say? Don't ask me what I do on mine, I pay my own BB bill, tyvm. Point being, don't end up being Mark Sanford using taxpayer money to hang out with your girlfriend (that's what credit cards are for) and don't be shocked when you get in trouble for sending racy texts on the company phone. Or pager. PAGER? Who still has one of those?

Also, since when do we care about the Constitution? I thought we gave up on that forever ago.

Stimulus Waste: Real Life Edition



Way back in the day when the Stimulus was just a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper (OK, make that hundreds of pieces of paper and numbers with lots of zeroes), I spent an evening combing through each and every moronic project: a new HHS building, some tanks, crap projects that had been neglected during the "bubble years" and now suddenly seemed important, blah blah blah.

Having clocked nearly 5000 miles from San Francisco to Milwaukee and back in the last week, I am not so happy to report that the Stimulus is just as large of a waste as I feared it was then and have now seen the bizarre road construction funded by it to prove it.

What could I possibly mean?

I mean ripping up perfectly decent roads just to throw cash at construction companies while leaving patched and beaten paths of the Eisenhower Highway System just as bruised as they were in 2003 when I last took the trip across I-80 and back. What good does it do America to repave roads that had a few good years left in them and leave the truly awful pavement completely untouched? Go figure, that's what happens when you let idiot constituents and the federal government decide priorities, I guess.

First and foremost, each one of those shiny Stimulus signs lining the inconvenient orange cones costs a whopping $1200 - good for whomever has been contracted to pump them out, bad for your great-great-grandchildren who will be picking up that tab once, you know, your granchildren and great-grandchildren have paid off the interest on the principal.

I'm cool with a Nebraska town of less than 200 residents getting a sweet bridge to cut down on their wait times as coal trains pass through town (since rail traffic is way up... gas is a bitch these days in case you haven't been paying attention) but what I am not cool with is Stimulus money put to work tearing up perfectly fine freeways just for shits and giggles (and that 15 bazillion DOW we're trying to get to in the meantime). Infrastructure is an improvement and let's face it, we've neglected ours for far too long.

Senator Tom Coburn has an excellent report on wasteful Stimulus projects if you're interested. I don't have the time nor the energy nor the assistants at the ready to put together anything remotely close but hey, maybe there's a secret provision to provide fringe financial bloggers funding to advance their government-bashing agendas? Um, yeah, I didn't wait for Bush's stimulus check and I won't be waiting for that one either.

Though it wasn't on my recent itinerary, look no further than SoCal to find a perfect example of Stimulidiocy: Ripping out and replacing a section of the 710 freeway in the LA area that had actually just been ripped out and replaced in June of 2008. Waste.

Let's try a metaphor to see if we can pound the point home. Viagra was invented for otherwise healthy older men who couldn't get their dicks hard due to the natural, uh, erosion of virility that comes with aging. I'm not opposed to 55-year-olds with raging boners, in fact, more power to them (and especially to their partners and/or right hands, depending...) but there's something fundamentally wrong with a 90-year-old man strutting around with a big pulsing trouser snake staring down his 90-year-old wife who hasn't seen something like that since she accidentally left Cinemax on and passed out on the couch in 1987. Just sayin. The Stimulus is pretty much like feeding Viagra to great-grandpa - some things are best left to nature and certainly need to be thought out before executed (go on, just imagine great-grandpa in that state).

Coming back from the heartland and taking the freeway the entire way, I can say there is more waste at work on America's freeways than cheap Wal-mart cosmetics wasted on 3-year-old Arkansas beauty queens.

Thanks, Mr President!

(Stay tuned for my road trip wrap-up later this week. Love ya, America, and so glad we were able to spend some quality time together outside of the land of Fruits and Nuts!)

TLP: Believe Me, JDA Would Rather Be Beating Me. And I Kind Of Miss It.

newspaper blog
I've started to look forward to Sundays in kind of a sick way. A few weeks back, JDA started to post a collection of links to good reads from friends and people she follows. She uses it as an opportunity to give me a good whacking for being overly lazy or misbehaving on her website. I'm pretty sure she likes it.

As most of you regulars know, JDA has been dealing with some tough personal issues over the last two weeks and I've been doing what I can to try to keep things marginally interesting here. Sometimes, and I have been fucking thrilled when this has happened, she's been able to find WiFi along the road and post on the blog in the way only she can.

If I weren't so fucking lazy, I would have filled in for her and posted some Sunday links. But, come on, that would have meant, um, "work" and would not have resulted in anything close to what you're used to getting from her. Luckily, there's an easy way out. Here's what a very non-lazy JDA has written on her cross-country adventure:

Free Market Whoring and How the Corus Failure Killed Downtown Reno JDA was barely out of California when she hit Reno and found it "pathetic and destitute" with the closing of Fitzgeralds. A little further up the road, the economy was in much better shape.

SF Fed's Salt Lake City Branch Loves Who? OK, so it's not exactly Fedbashing, but JDA is nothing if not clever and mischievous. And also able to get away with both pretty much constantly.

Seattle Learns a Lesson in Bubble Buildings Don't get JDA started on bubbles. Or asshats.

Buy, Buy, Buy Consumer, Jeffrey Lacker is Counting on You! Who knows where JDA was when she spied the latest speech from her favorite Fedhead. He might wish she'd been more distracted than she was.

The SEC Goes for Goldman's Ass (Yawn) Is the "yawn" from too much driving or too little faith in the SEC? You know what to do to find out.

One of These Things is Not Like the Others It would have been ugly if the Gipper hadn't been the star of this show.

No surprise, really, that you've still been getting a dose of certified Jr Deputy Accountant content now and then from the road. As well as a running commentary from coast to heartland to coast.

I didn't tell her I was going to post this. Something tells me I'm really in for it this time. Can't wait.