Broke People Just Aren't As Excited By Crappy Movies As They Used To Be



Those who know JDA know that if there's one thing I am not into (Bernanke aside), it's movies. Don't bother making movie references that every other 20-something American female should know because chances are I genuinely have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. The only reason I've seen Star Wars is because I was engaged to a movie nut who insisted I partake in the classics (yeah he may have been a bit of a nerd on top of it). Odds are I nodded off after the first 20 minutes and if I managed to stay awake through Clint Eastwood marathons, it was out of love and certainly not because I actually wanted to watch any of them.

That being said, is it all surprising that movie-goers stayed home this summer? Please! We're in the middle of a fucking recession for Christ's sake, if you've been unemployed for 99 weeks you can't afford Netflix, let alone $20 a pop for some crap 3D flick. Ironically I got in two movies this summer (the Jr Jr Deputy is lucky I love him enough to pay for and - worse! - sit through a movie every now and then) but hey, I still make money and don't have a house I can't afford to worry about.

Bloomberg:

Summer movie attendance fell to the lowest level since 1997, while soaring ticket prices produced record revenue for Hollywood studios and theater owners.

The number of tickets sold from the first weekend of May through the U.S. Labor Day holiday is expected to drop 2.6 percent to 552 million, Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. That would be the lowest attendance since summer moviegoers bought 540.3 million tickets in 1997.

“The movies just didn’t excite people the way they needed to,” Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com Box-Office, said in an interview. “When you raise prices and perceive that quality goes down, you have a major problem.”

Yeah whatever, I wasn't watching movies in 1997 either. Good for you, America, don't you dare set foot in a theater again until they at least start pumping out better crap than every Rob Schneider movie ever made.

Blind Ass FOMC Didn't Realize How Bad It Was Out There



Go figure!

August FOMC minutes are here and boy what a yawner. Here's a winner from them:

The information reviewed at the August 10 meeting indicated that the pace of the economic recovery slowed in recent months and that inflation remained subdued. In addition, revised data for 2007 through 2009 from the Bureau of Economic Analysis showed that the recent recession was deeper than previously thought, and, as a result, the level of real gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of 2009 was noticeably lower than estimated earlier.

Hey asshats, you know you guys are supposed to use the REAL data and not that fake crap you spit out to appease the ignorant unwashed masses, right? Obviously not.

For more yawntacular awesomeness check out the rest via the Board here. I'm still not impressed.

Did China's Top Central Banker Skip Town Because of Losses On U.S. Investments?



... things that make you go hmmm. As in hmmm maybe that asshat Bernanke should take a hint and GTFO too.

Via Stratfor
:

Rumors have circulated in China that People’s Bank of China (PBC) Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan may have left the country. The rumors appear to have started following reports on Aug. 28 which cited Ming Pao, a Hong Kong-based news agency, saying that because of an approximately $430 billion loss on U.S. Treasury bonds, the Chinese government may punish some individuals within the PBC, including Zhou. Although Ming Pao on Aug. 30 published a report on its website indicating that the prior report was fabricated by a mainland news site that had attributed the false information to Ming Pao, rumors of Zhou’s defection have spread around China intensively, and Zhou’s name has been blocked from Internet search engines in China.

Excellent, I guess this means Bernanke really isn't welcome in China eh? And does this mean they really cut our credit card this time?

Why I Don't Read SF Weekly


That and the horrible editing.

From The Internet Archives: Can I Be a Tattooed Accountant?

I passed the "cover it up" point about 20 tattoos ago...

First of all, I may have tattoos but let's get it straight for those of you who don't know: I am not an accountant. I know, WTF with the Jr Deputy Accountant then, right? Whatever, the "Jr" means I never quite made it to actual accountant and honestly have no desire to do so. Anyway, I've been standing here on the fringes of the industry long enough to get a sense of how things work and hob-nobbing with industry heavyweights like MACPA's Tom Hood and Duff and Phelps' David Larsen pretty much makes me legit. I think.

That being said, I'm pretty sure I am in a position to comment on this since I somehow stay employed (is that employable?) even with a giant Illuminati pyramid forever inked on the back on my neck.

From the always fascinating Yahoo! Answers:
Employers on tattoo (specifically the accounting line of business)?
Lets say hypothetically I work at an accounting firm-or something similar, and I keep all of my tattoos completely covered. They cause no problems at all in my workplace. Most don't even know I have them. Then my firm decides to have a work function, say at a theme park or water park, and I wear a tank top and show a shoulder blade tattoo. Nothing scary, just a pegasus. Would that cause problems for me with management or upper level executives, even though that isn't in the work place and it's technically on my own time.

I haven't yet graduated college, or gotten the tattoo, or any for that matter. I'm just doing my research right now. And if it came down to it I just wouldn't wear a tank top, I'm just assuming that my co-workers would be dressed similarly in this situation.

I would really like some answers from some of those upper level people if any of them read this question. But thank you for all that give me a serious answer.
Listen, I'm dying (literally squirming in my fucking seat over here, people!) to roll up to a PCAOB event in a business suit with my 11-K Jr Deputy star peeking out from underneath my sleeve once I move closer to PCAOB HQ later this year but shit disturbing and trying to stay employed are two completely different things. I'm the media and let's face it, my brand is what makes it work for me, killer bunny brandishing a knife on my inner arm and all. The accountants - once they got over their initial feelings of WTF is this and Where TF did she come from?! - have embraced my wacky hipster ways and would likely forgive me were I to show up to my next accounting event wearing my nasty hollowed-out plugs that accentuate the thumb-sized hole I've stretched in each of my ears. But that's because I'm covering the event and providing the entertainment, not bringing in the clients and trying to appease partners. Partners don't dig giant holes in your ears, just FYI.

My advice is this: cover it up. Don't end up with rubber ducks on your collarbones like I did unless you are prepared to live a fabulous life as a finance blogger whereupon you set your own hours and chase your own income. In this day and age, accounting is gripped by the Boomer/Gen Y dichotomy and the Gen Y mentality is offensive enough to Boomer partners, there's no reason to throw tattoos in the mix just to piss them off further.

You'd have better luck being a tattooed police officer than you would an accountant, that just doesn't go with the scenery, my dear.

Unless you have an exceptional talent or resume that will make up for the negativity surrounding whatever stupid crap you get tattooed on you (a pegasus? Really? That was the best you could come up with? Way to be original there, killer), keep your shirt on and ink covered. Even a misplaced fairy on your ankle can piss off the wrong partner and cost you that illustrious career in public accounting that you have always dreamed about depending on where you live and who you're working for. Sure some offices and locales are more lenient than others (hello San Francisco!) and you might just luck out and be surrounded by management who actually "get it" but why risk it for a stupid fairy on your shoulder blade?

Here's my advice: hold off on any more AND flaunting the ones you already have, play the game, get your CPA, get your 2 years of experience, get the hell out, start your own small firm and get all the fucking ink you like. Maybe your clients will find the giant Illuminati pyramid on the back of your neck to be cute, intriguing and oh-so-hard to resist like mine. Or hey, there's always a writing career if that doesn't work out for you.

Keep 'em covered!

TLP: Really, Really F#*&ing Brilliant

fcc airwaves
As if they're not everywhere already.

WSJ:
Technology and telecommunications companies could soon get access to unused TV airwaves, allowing them to introduce new wireless gadgets and services, under rules that Federal Communications Commission officials are close to putting into final form.

Some of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's top aides have met with broadcasters and other interested parties in recent weeks to discuss the remaining obstacles to freeing up the vacant spectrum between television channels, known in the industry as "white spaces." The issue could come to a vote as soon as the agency's September meeting. Mr. Genachowski said earlier this year that he wanted the matter resolved by the end of September.

An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment. ...

Microsoft and other high-tech companies want to use the vacant TV airwaves because signals sent on that band of spectrum can travel long distances and move through buildings, which would allow companies to build wireless Internet networks that are stronger than current Wi-Fi hot spots.

The vacant TV airwaves "represent a unique opportunity to spark next-generation broadband networks across the country," said Rick Whitt, Google's telecom and media counsel. "We're very eager for the commission to give the green light to start innovating and building new services on these airwaves."

The FCC agreed almost two years ago to allow these "white space" airwaves to be used for wireless communication services. But the effort stalled as companies waited for regulators to clear up some technical issues and broadcasters sued.
Just remember to watch your mouth.

How Could It Be That Ben Bernanke Isn't Doing Enough?!


If you ask me he has done quite enough outside of the reasonable bounds of his position as the Chairman of the Dirty Fed and could do us all a favor by doing a little less tyvm.

Lloyd Chapman seems to disagree with me in HuffPo and even writes a letter to our dear Zimbabwe Ben (good luck, I've tried that a couple times and it doesn't seem to work but hopefully he at least got the birthday card) asking for some small business help. Beg for it, Lloyd, just go lick the marble temple and say "Do it for small business, ZB!"

Here's part of the letter:
It appears we are sliding into another recession and I have a simple suggestion that will redirect more money into the middle class and create more jobs than any policy proposal the Obama Administration has put forth to date. Since you acknowledged that you are willing to take extraordinary measures, why doesn't the Obama Administration consider not giving federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms, foreign companies and other large businesses? I realize that you control monetary policy, but as the nation's chief economist, and as one who advocates for fiscal policy, you could have an impact on this issue.

In March of 2005, the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Inspector General released Report 5-15, which states, "One of the most important challenges facing the Small Business Administration and the entire Federal government today is that large businesses are receiving small business procurement awards and agencies are receiving credit for these awards." (http://www.asbl.com/documents/05-15.pdf) The SBA Inspector General has listed this problem as the number one management challenge facing the agency for the past five consecutive years. (http://www.sba.gov/ig/onlinelibrary/tmc/index.html)

Since 2003, there have been over a dozen federal investigations which have found Fortune 500 firms and thousands of large companies around the world have received federal small business contracts. Some of those firms are: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, L-3 Communications, British Aerospace (BAE), Northrop Grumman, General Electric, Booz Allen Hamilton, Thales Communications, General Dynamics, and Dell Computer. (http://www.asbl.com/documentlibrary.html#5-15)

According to the US Census Bureau and the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, small businesses create over 90 percent of all net new jobs. When it comes to creating jobs, the focus must be on small business. (http://www.sba.gov/advo/research/rs359.pdf)
Please, don't encourage the man, he can't save half the economy let alone 3/4ths of it and even if he could, it really isn't in his mandate to do so. Why egg him on any more than we already have? Does Lloyd Chapman know what Ben Bernanke's job is? Does Ben Bernanke even know what his job is anymore?

I know what it is: not blowing the dollar and maintaining decent employment numbers. He's failed in both so how the fuck are you going to write him a letter asking him to do more that he isn't necessarily Congressionally-mandated to do? So what, we can then file an FOIA to figure out which small businesses got what easy Dirty Fed money? Then what? The renter bailout? The hamsters with PTSD bailout? Everyone is suffering and last I checked, it was not exactly Ben Bernanke's job to save them. Don't fucking give the man any ideas, what are you doing?!

Still, stop tripping, Lloyd, Bernanke will give up the goods eventually it's just that he'll do it in the form of free easy Fed money at 0% that the banks can "borrow" and then use to buy Treasurys (a.k.a. the US government credit card that's getting declined all over the place *ahemChina*) so OBAMA can bail out small business. Is that still Bernanke bailing out small business? Maybe. That's called jerking off with your left hand, Lloyd, it works pretty well for these asshats so don't you worry about small business, the left hand is on its way.

TLP: When You're Miles From Where Anyone Can Hear You

roadside america
Not your typical "it's-tough-for-small-business" story. Even in the narrowest niches, things are hard in this economy.

WSJ:
For more than five decades, the fiberglass dinosaurs of Prehistoric Forest have loomed goofily over the entrance to this Lake Erie tourist town. Now they are facing extinction.

Len and Denise Tieman, who have owned the roadside attraction since 1995, feel they have had a good run. They intend to close Prehistoric Forest on Sept. 12, after one last Labor Day rush, and retire. So far, they haven't found anyone eager to carry on the tradition.

Mom-and-Pop roadside attractions are struggling for their meager share of the tourist dollar. They suffer from a weak economy, changes in travel habits and kids unlikely to be wowed by stationary dinos and miniature golf after watching "Avatar" in 3-D or slashing their siblings with Wii swords.

"We just lose them one by one," laments Brian Butko, a Pittsburgh historian who writes about roadside attractions, whose golden age was in the 1950s and 1960s.

Prairie Dog Town, near Oakley, Kan., is for sale, with an asking price of $450,000, says its owner, Larry Farmer, who also wants to retire. It comes with 37 billboards, 400 prairie dogs and—for anyone not sufficiently excited by burrowing rodents—a live, six-legged cow. Deer Forest in Coloma, Mich., is also on the market. The owner, John S. Modica, says he would throw in the llamas and pot-bellied pigs. Dinosaur World, near Beaver Lake in Arkansas, closed five years ago.

"Some of the classic tourist stops have disappeared," says Doug Kirby, publisher of roadsideamerica.com. Snake farms are in a rut, and mermaid springs are evaporating. When owners decide to retire, there often is no one willing to take over. Even so, Mr. Kirby's website still lists more than 9,000 attractions and "oddities," including the world's largest hairball in Garden City, Kan., and the Cockroach Hall of Fame in Plano, Texas.

Today's tourists are more likely to zoom directly to a resort than meander on back roads. "People are much more looking to get where they're going rather than stop to look at the world's largest ball of twine," says Jim Futrell of the National Amusement Park Historical Association.
The resorts, amusement parks and water parks will be there. So will the hotels and chain restaurants. And years from now, you won't remember shit about them. But who's going to forget that crazy-ass place along the two-lane road they stopped to see Labor Day weekend that year when everything was all fucked up anyway?

That's what I thought.

25% Of Americans Believe Palin Could Be An Effective President, Meanwhile 28% Strongly Approve Of Obama



You guys are fucked up, that's pretty much all I have to say about most of you.

First from HuffPo, news that Sarah Palin really needs to work on her likeability in our fine country if she's going to make a run for 2012. Hahahahahahahaha best of luck to her on that particular cluck mission.

In the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll, conducted Aug. 3-5 by CBS News among 847 adult respondents, 59% responded that they thought Palin could not be an effective president compared to only 26% who said that she could be.

Eighty percent of liberals and 70% of moderates said Palin could not be an effective president. Only 41% of conservatives said that she could be, while 40% said that she could not be. However, somewhat more Republicans said that Palin could be effective - 47% said she could be while 40% said she could not.

OK so let's look at those who "Strongly Approve" of how our OMG President is doing these days:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 28% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -12 (see trends).

It's pretty much fucked if we do and fucked if we don't at this point so I'm not sure if Palin as president is a sign of the apocalypse but if it is I am long popping oil and corn.

OMG! Didn't the Stimulus Fix That?

 The facepalming continues...

I get tired of hearing Obama complain about partisan politics. Has he stopped to consider that perhaps Democrats should also be concerned about the explosion of our national debt and an endless stream of useless assistance programs that do little to correct the fundamental problems of our terminally ill economy?

Whatever.

CNN:
President Barack Obama blasted Senate Republicans on Monday for blocking a small business assistance bill, calling their opposition "pure partisan politics."

The country needs a "full scale attack" on economic sluggishness, he told reporters at the White House.

"While we have taken a series of measures and come a long way ... too many Americans are still looking for work and too many communities are far from being whole again," he said.

The president also said his economic team is "hard at work" on a series of new measure designed both to spark short-term hiring and lay the foundation for long-term economic growth.

What the country really needs is a full scale attack on this economic asshattery that claims writing another blank check for ___________ (insert bailout here) is the solution to all of our problems. How is it that we even need a small business bailout if the stimulus worked so well to fix our unemployment problem?

Or is it that it didn't and the Obama administration is full of shit?

Gee, I wonder.

OMG! Obama Scrambles To Keep the Homedebtor Scam Running



h/t WCV

All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't inflate the housing bubble back again...

Bloomberg:

The Obama administration plans to set up an emergency loan program for the unemployed and a government mortgage refinancing effort in the next few weeks to help homeowners after home sales dropped in July, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said.

“The July numbers were worse than we expected, worse than the general market expected, and we are concerned,” Donovan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program yesterday. “That’s why we are taking additional steps to move forward.”

The administration will begin a Federal Housing Authority refinancing effort to help borrowers who are struggling to pay their mortgages, and will start an emergency homeowners’ loan program for unemployed borrowers so they can stay in their homes, Donovan said.

“We’re going to continue to make sure folks have access to home ownership,” he said.

These additional steps are really starting to hurt, when does it end? Oh duh, it ends when the rest of the world gets smart and realizes that we're abusing our printing press. Obv.

75% Of Law Schools Need to Close?



Somehow I stumbled into the world of jaded law school students - either current or former - and it isn't pretty. At least with accounting you A) don't have this cockfight over who went to the better school B) as much student loan debt and C) a better chance at a job even if it does mean you have to compromise your integrity a tad along the way. Wha?!

Someone employed in accounting (not to rub it in) should verify these numbers and confirm that they're fucked up. Please.

Higher education. Pffft:

If the law schools are producing 45,000 new JDs annually and our nation only needs 19,000 or 16,245 new attorneys to replace the 1/40 that retire, then 57.8% or 63.9% of the law schools need to close, assuming that they all produce the same number of new JDs each year.

So, now we finally have a number to use--60%. As in, "Cut the number of law school seats by 60%." Or, "We need to close 60% of the law schools." However, since our nation already has a huge backlog of unemployed and underemployed-involuntarily-out-of-field attorneys, it would be better to cut the number of law schools by 75%.

The kids in Berkeley have been quiet about getting their fees jacked up since November of 2009 so I guess they figured out how to pay for it. I've dealt with some of them and no offense to UCB but they have some serious work to do for what they're charging these kids. The least they can do is let them out knowing how to properly use the word your.

Close 'em. Open a fucking book and don't "pay" $65,000 a year to be told to open the wrong ones.

The education factory has failed. See also Low Loan Repayment Is Seen at For-Profit Schools via the NYT:

At some for-profit colleges, the repayment rates were startlingly low. For example, 33 of the 86 Corinthian Colleges’ Everest locations had repayment rates of less than 20 percent — and at several, the rates were less than 10 percent.

At the headquarters of the University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit education company, the repayment rate was 44 percent, compared with 38 percent at DeVry and 27 percent at Kaplan University, a unit of the Washington Post Company.

“I think this data could have a powerful effect on institutions and students,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education. “No reasonable person will want to go to a school where only one in five students can pay back their student loans.”

I'm shocked, you mean the education they sell in between announcements of You are not the father! on daytime TV has a low repayment rate?!

TLP: Is it Method Acting if William Hurt Maims His Pinky for the Role?

hurt plays paulson
If you didn't get enough entertainment living through it, HBO will be happy to give you another chance to enjoy the financial crisis.

Deadline:
HBO has set William Hurt to play Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Curtis Hanson to direct "Too Big To Fail," a dissection of the 2008 financial crisis and the power brokers who decided the fate of the world's economy as the system teetered on collapse. Shooting begins in early fall. Peter Gould wrote the script, based on the book by The New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin who is a consultant on the project. Also consulting are Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera.

HBO had originally intended to make the film using their financial crisis book, "All the Devils Are Here," as the basis for the film, but it wasn't completed in time to be used as source material for Gould's script. Hanson will be executive producer along with Spring Creek Productions' Paula Weinstein and Jeffrey Levine. Carol Fenelon is co-executive producer and Ezra Swerdlow is producer. It marks the first time Hurt and Hanson have made films for HBO.

Paulson is the central focus of a film that dissects how the co-dependency between D.C. and Wall Street nearly destroyed and then repaired the crisis. HBO will begin casting the other major players that will include Paulson's successor Timothy Geitner, Lehman Bros CEO Richard Fuld and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.
OK, readers, cast that film. Oh, and money is no object. It wasn't the first time around.

Cash For Clunkers Artificially Inflates Used Car Prices By 10%



Read it and weep from Edmunds.com:

Car buyers on average paid $1,800 more for a used vehicle in July than they paid a year ago at this time, according to Edmunds.com data. That's a 10.3 percent increase, bringing the average cost of a 3-year-old vehicle to $19,248. The price of a Cadillac Escalade spiked nearly 36 percent. "A lack of confidence in the economy is driving more people to used cars, putting upward pricing pressure on a limited supply of vehicles," said Joe Spina, a senior analyst for Edmunds.

There's a tricky aspect to this analysis, because last summer was marked by a used-car buying frenzy spawned by the Cash for Clunkers program. Spina said the effects of that program are hard to isolate precisely. "So many economic factors affect automobile sales and prices. It's believed that the program delayed purchases prior to the program and also pulled sales forward while in place," he said. "The program also eliminated inventory of older vehicles that were traded and then scrapped." After the jump, take a look at the vehicles whose prices moved the most this July. The model years have been averaged. You can also get some advice on how to proceed in a (relatively) pricey used-car market.

Well shit, there's our solution to the housing problem! I vote for Cash for McMansions: let Bernanke put on his firefighter outfit and burn 'em all down in exchange for a $5000 credit towards a brand spanking new 30-year commitment to a new crib. That'll clear out all that dead inventory and sucker America is just stupid enough to fall for it if they can afford it.

Thanks a lot, Obama, you priced all the broke asses out of the used car market. Way to go, jackass! Was a $2000 jump in prices worth the $4000 Cash for Clunkers trade-in? Not by my math but this is a God damn economic recovery we're trying to manufacture so what does math have to do with any of it?

Sorry, Japan, we couldn't compete with your long-lived engines and superior manufacturing so instead we just killed all those 1993 Toyotas that wouldn't die with the hopes that we could force America back into Fords that'll die in about 5 years anyway. Viva la recovery!

TLP: Watch Out for 'Good News'

tax collection
So, it this what recovery looks like?

WSJ:
State tax revenue rose in the second quarter, as higher taxes and the slowly improving economy led to an increase in collections.

Overall tax revenue increased 2.2% in 47 states that have reported their receipts for the three months ended June 30, compared with the same period a year ago, according to a report to be released Monday by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York.

This marks the second quarter in a row of recovering tax collections—and follows five quarters of declines in revenue that hammered local-government budgets. The latest figures are still a mixed bag: Some states continue to see declining revenue, but those were offset by states that saw increases.

States continue to face financial pressure, in part because tax collections remain below the levels of two years ago. In addition, aid to state income provided by federal stimulus funds is starting to fall away. Signs that the economy is flagging add to the gloomy outlook for state coffers.

"Most states still show a mismatch between revenue and spending trend lines," said Robert B. Ward, deputy director of the Rockefeller Institute. "It's not time to put away the red ink yet."
OK, maybe not. Federal statistics continue to show declining expenditures and increasing layoffs by state and local governments — 48,000 jobs were lost in July, according to the Labor Department, and a total of 169,000 for the year.

Recent federal legislation provides $26 billion in assistance for states and school districts, but the schools have been slow to pull the spending trigger. The WSJ reports that economists think the local government budgets will be a drag on growth through next year. The key, economist Nigel Gault of IHS Global Insight, is cutting expenses. Uh huh.

And even though the revenues are increasing, guess why? More from the WSJ:
The second-quarter gains were driven by growth in sales and income taxes, both of which have been raised in many states. Second-quarter sales-tax revenue increased 5.9% in the 47 states surveyed by the Rockefeller Institute, while the take from personal income taxes grew 1.6%. Collections from corporate income taxes, which tend to be volatile and are just a small slice of most states' collections, fell nearly 19% over the period.

Some 30 states saw tax revenue in the second quarter rise from a year earlier. Many of the strongest performers were places where collections were hard-hit by the recession. Florida saw a nearly 14% increase. Arizona — which, like Florida, has been among the states most affected by falling real-estate prices and lackluster construction activity — saw a 3.9% increase.

Still, revenue declined in several big states. In California, tax revenue declined 0.9%, despite a nearly 12% increase in income-tax collections largely driven by higher taxes, according to the Rockefeller Institute. Illinois saw revenue decline 7%, while Michigan's collections fell 3.8%.
Yeah, "slowly improving" would be the way to say it.

Ray Bradbury Thinks Our Country Needs a Revolution



When I was about 12, my mom gave me a copy of The Martian Chronicles, insisting that I would fall in love with Bradbury just as she did at that same age. Safe to say I did and spent a good part of the remainder of my middle school years writing my own stories about moon escapes and

Bradbury, who turned 90 on August 22, has once again captured my heart, even if he does think there are too many Internets (we'll get to that in a minute). Obama-bashing is hot these days but very few Obama critics go straight for his space priorities.

LA Times' Hero Complex:
“He should be announcing that we should go back to the moon. We should never have left there. We should go to the moon and prepare a base to fire a rocket off to Mars and then go to Mars and colonize Mars. Then when we do that, we will live forever."

The man who wrote "Fahrenheit 451," "Something Wicked This Way Comes," "The Martian Chronicles," "Dandelion Wine" and "The Illustrated Man" has been called one of America's great dreamers, but his imagination takes him to some dark places when it comes to contemporary politics. “I think our country is in need of a revolution."

“There is too much government today. We've got to remember the government should be by the people, of the people and for the people.”
Do the people care about space travel these days, my dear RB? No, all we care about are devices and Internets. We're back in the electronic nursery where the lions smell mom and dad's blood in the air, aren't we?
“We have too many cellphones. We've got too many Internets. We have got to get rid of those machines. We have too many machines now.”
Wait what? Wasn't that Bradbury's utopia? How the hell are we supposed to get to space without all those Internets and machines?

Get rid of the too much government. But I'll be keeping my machines, tyvm.

Bradbury refuses to join the Kindle revolution and frankly I don't blame him. I know TLP loves his digital reader but I have to say I am more than slightly put off by the name. Come on, Kindle? Could they have given it a more Fahrenheit 451 appropriate name than that? Don't give in to the man, go paper, hopefully guns will still be illegal so you can defend your home when they come to burn them all.

TLP: WTF, FCC?

fcc vulgaritycredit: The Boston Phoenix

Are they just trying to stay busy at the FCC? Because I can't think of another logical explanation for this.

AP via the NYT:
Federal regulators are appealing a recent court decision that struck down a 2004 government policy that says broadcasters can be fined for allowing even a single curse word to be uttered on live television.

A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York threw out the Federal Communications Commission policy last month, saying it was unconstitutionally vague.

In a filing on Thursday, the F.C.C. and the Justice Department asked the court to reconsider the decision, warning that the ruling appears to undermine the F.C.C.’s entire approach to regulating indecency on the airwaves.

In a statement, the F.C.C. general counsel, Austin Schlick, said the ruling raised “serious concerns about the commission’s ability to protect children and families from indecent broadcast programming.”

The agencies want the three-judge panel or the full court to reconsider the decision.

The commission has stepped up broadcast indecency enforcement — issuing record fines for violations — spurred in part by public outrage after Janet Jackson’s breast-baring performance during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

The agency put its “fleeting expletive” policy in place in 2004 after repeated instances of profanity by celebrities, including Cher, Nicole Richie and Bono, during the live broadcasts of awards programs.
Here's a better idea: tell children how idiotic awards shows are and maybe they won't watch them. Their little brains won't be polluted with the drivel that comes out of celebrity mouths and they'll miss the odd curse word. It's a win-win. A fucking brilliant win-win.

TLP: Opening Your Hotel Room Door Just Won't Be the Same

usa today
Turning 30 shouldn't be a big deal. It's all in how you look at it. It was a good year for The Lazy Paperboy (he got a Little Lazy Paperboy) and he's making plans to celebrate someone else's 30th this year.

But WTF is with the newspapers in DC? They get near that number and things go to shit. Someone's doing something very wrong. First it was The Washington Times, which admittedly had an uphill struggle from the start, and now, USA TODAY.

AP via USA TODAY:
USA TODAY, the nation's second largest newspaper, is making the most dramatic overhaul of its staff in its 28-year history as it ramps up its effort to reach more readers and advertisers on mobile devices.

The makeover outlined Thursday will result in about 130 layoffs this fall, USA TODAY Publisher Dave Hunke told The Associated Press. That translates into a 9% reduction in USA Today's work force of 1,500 employees. Hunke didn't specify which departments would be hardest hit.

The management shake-up affects both the newspaper's business operations and newsroom.

Like most newspapers, Gannett Co.'s USA TODAY has been cutting back in recent years to offset a steep drop in advertising that is depleting its main source of income. To compound the problem, fewer readers are paying for newspapers as free news proliferates on the Web.

Those challenges triggered the most dramatic reorganization since USA TODAY first hit the streets in 1982 with a then-unique blend of shorter stories surrounded by colorful graphics and pictures.

"This is pretty radical," Hunke said of the shake-up. "This gets us ready for our next quarter century."

In the first wave of change, USA TODAY, which is based in McLean, Va., will no longer have separate managing editors overseeing its News, Sports, Money and Life sections.

The newsroom instead will be broken up into a cluster of "content rings" each headed up by editors who will be appointed later this year. The newly created content group will be overseen by Susan Weiss, who had been managing editor of the Life section. As executive editor of content, Weiss will report to USA TODAY Editor John Hillkirk.

"We'll focus less on print ... and more on producing content for all platforms (Web, mobile, iPad and other digital formats)," according to a slide show presented Thursday to USA TODAY's staff. The AP obtained copy of the presentation.
OK, so it's a little bit of a circlejerk when one media company gets excited enough about the inside workings of another media outfit to report about it, but it's also entertaining, especially since AP embraced digital news not that long ago.

We'll see how USA TODAY does with this. Honestly, I'd almost forgotten about them.

TLP: There Are Much Better Reasons to Go to Washington

king stone
Trying to upstage a preacher rarely works. Especially in his own pulpit. Oh, well. MLK had a dream. So fine, it's OK that Glenn Beck could act out his wet one.

AP via The Huffington Post:
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck and tea party champion Sarah Palin appealed Saturday to a vast, predominantly white crowd on the National Mall to help restore traditional American values and honor Martin Luther King's message. Civil rights leaders who accused the group of hijacking King's legacy held their own rally and march.

While Beck billed his event as nonpolitical, conservative activists said their show of strength was a clear sign that they can swing elections because much of the country is angry with what many voters call an out-of-touch Washington.

Palin told the tens of thousands who stretched from the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the grass of the Washington Monument that calls to transform the country weren't enough. "We must restore America and restore her honor," said the former Alaska governor, echoing the name of the rally, "Restoring Honor."

Palin, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2008 and a potential White House contender in 2012, and Beck repeatedly cited King and made references to the Founding Fathers. Beck put a heavy religious cast on nearly all his remarks, sounding at times like an evangelical preacher.

"Something beyond imagination is happening," he said. "America today begins to turn back to God."
I never heard from Rev. Glenn or Sister Sarah exactly when America turned away from God or lost its honor. Eh, details. Dream on.

Good, Maybe An Accounting Firm Or Two Should Die



Jim Peterson of Re:Balance was kind enough to fill in for Edith Orenstein on FEI blog while she went vacationing (necessary, I was just there myself to get in some quality time before the central bank asshats were unleashed from Jackson Hole) and he will not be crying when litigation kills accounting firms since everyone was warned well in advance.

Litigation? I think the firms did it to themselves if you ask me.

FEI:

With the devilish details of the Dodd-Frank Act now to be worked out and many special interests weighing in, legislative activity in the American financial sector returns to a standstill – probably until after the elections of November 2012.

So what would bring to the forefront a topic that to most is sleep-inducing, although it keeps some few from sleep: namely, the very viability of the large accounting firms and their fragile franchise to audit the world’s global companies?

Nothing less, presumably, than an existential shock to the stability of one of the Big Four tetrapoly – an unresolvable criminal investigation or a “bad case” outcome in one of their nightmare civil cases.

The firms are on a fortunate streak: the credit-crisis cases resolved so far are within their pain tolerance – namely, KPMG’s Countrywide settlement of $ 24 million, and its $ 44.74 million shareholder settlement and reported trustee resolution in New Century (on which, don’t miss Francine McKenna last week). And the Seidman firm has at least a temporary reprieve from its adverse $ 521 million verdict in the Bankest litigation in Miami.

Read all about Seidman and the Bankest pass here. I'll just go ahead and say it, the PCAOB stands between large accounting firm auditors (ahem Big 87654) and liability instead of actually enforcing some kind of protection against the fraud of auditing. How? With the PCAOB busy harassing 98% of audit firms, the larger ones can put more money into battling litigation and cutting checks for "enforcements". Who cares? A person can't write a fake check without getting a felony but New Jersey can issue practically fraudulent bonds and simply be told the SEC does not like what they did. See how easy it is? So litigation isn't the problem, it's the way they built the system and the lengths they go to make it appear as though they have some sort of control over it.

Meanwhile the PCAOB runs around with the coloring books and issues 8 more "audit standards" while strong-arming small firms (who can't afford Big 87654 lawyers, obv) into compliance. Who can comply with these guys breathing down their necks and all the good lawyers over at the Big 87654?

Jim talks about pending apocalypse for the big firms in Washington Mutual and Lehman (someone is going to have to explain how they didn't catch that) but what about all the other crap the Big 87654 have blown lately? Colonial Bank and PwC? Or how about KPMG and Northern Trust?

Northern Trust is to face a class action filed in Illinois, USA on behalf of an institutional investor, the law firm behind the action has announced.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd allege that Northern Trust was in violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, specifically issuing “materially false and misleading statements” about the firm’s health and failing to disclose “the extent of its seriously delinquent commercial real estate loans and the true nature and risks associated with its once highly profitable securities lending [programme]”.

Robbins Geller claims that false statements from Northern Trust led to an “artificially inflated” share price, reaching a high of USD87.20 on 11th September 2008, with “certain top officers and directors” then selling more than 1.5 million shares for profits of over USD106.5 million.

When Northern Trust reported its third quarter 2009 results a year later, it said that results were below expectations due in part to a “serious decline” in its securities lending programme. Its share price subsequently dropped by almost 6% in one day.

Here's what I think... let's line up the iBanknet auditor list and make a drinking game out of it. Every time an audit firm fails in its responsibility (I guess we need to redefine what the auditors do in the first place then because this is the new normal, right?), take a shot. That means every SEC settlement, every slap on the wrist, every half-assed DoJ investigation, and let's throw in Fed cease and desists too just for kicks. We'd all be too fucked up all the time to notice how incredibly backwards this is. Woo, party!

And You Thought Your Commute Sucked



WSJ:

A 60-mile traffic jam near the Chinese capital could last until mid-September, officials say.

Traffic has been snarled along the outskirts of Beijing and is stretching toward the border of Inner Mongolia ever since roadwork on the Beijing-Tibet Highway started Aug. 13. The following week, parts of a major road circling Beijing were closed, further tightening overburdened roadways.

Chinese state media said today that if the current rate 2000 car sales a day keeps up, average driving speed through Beijing could end up at 9 MPH. 9! Wait until they figure out how to institute a replica of the SFPark parking system on their clogged highways. It's genius!

OMG! John Boehner Calls For Resignation Of Entire Obama Economic Team

 I'm this many, how many are you?

Though Boehner doesn't say it any more specifically than anyone else's name, anyone else get the feeling he extra meant Geithner needs to GTFO?

WaPo:

[House Minority Leader John] Boehner said President Obama's team lacks "real-world, hands-on experience" in creating jobs that are needed for a full economic recovery. The Republican lawmaker cited reports that some senior aides complained of "exhaustion," including the recently departed budget chief Peter Orszag.

"President Obama should ask for - and accept - the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council," Boehner said in the morning speech to business leaders at the City Club of Cleveland. The mass dismissal, he added, would be "no substitute for a referendum on the president's job-killing agenda. That question will be put before the American people in due time. But we do not have the luxury of waiting months for the president to pick scapegoats for his failing 'stimulus' policies."

Scapegoats? What? Everyone knows Obama is busy picking stimulus MVPs! Geithner is in Obama's office as we speak rubbing that trophy, don't you know?!

Fed's Evans: Forget Regulation And Let's Crank Up Those High Risk Mortgages to Stop Foreclosures!



Blah blah blah "extremely modest" recovery blah blah blah "very challenging" blah blah blah "increasingly uncomfortable" blah blah blah "lack of improvement in the labor market" blah blah WAIT, what's this?

WSJ
:

In prepared remarks to the non-profit housing group, [Chicago Fed President Charles] Evans spoke of ways to reduce home foreclosures. He encouraged more aggressive financial literacy campaigns, suggesting educating prospective borrowers about the home-buying process might be more effective than strict regulations.

Too many regulations, said Evans, might reduce options for borrowers qualified for high-risk mortgages.

Education? Like what kind?! Most of the idiots who found themselves loaded down with a home they couldn't afford wouldn't have understood the terms even if they were written down on one sheet of paper in crayon. Homedebtors who expect their home to appreciate like a grilled cheese with the image of Jesus Christ on Ebay deserve everything they have coming, and that goes for the economists as well. For the final time, your home is not a baseball card collection nor ATM!

Recommended reading: HELOC? HELNO. via LOLFed

Anyway, we couldn't educate these people in elementary school, why should we be able to now? Sorry, Chuck, I'm all for less regulation too but this is one area that needs to be locked down like Pelican Bay. I'm also all for financial literacy but again, for someone to be financially literate, they have to be the regular sort of literate and look what they got themselves into a few years ago? And look at the Pied Piper who led them directly into the fire! That guy is an idiot too!

Education. Pfft.

Instead of wasting its time and energy printing money, the Fed should invest in kitchen matches and light up half the housing supply. "Ooops! That was an accident!" and then, at last, some sort of reasonable equilibrium might be possible. Instead, I guess it's back to trying to stuff as many folks as we can into the debt yoke just to keep up.

TLP: Moonies May Put WashingtonTimes Out Of DC's Misery

washington times
After both irritating and amusing the Eastern liberal elite, The Washington Times is reportedly near death, suffering from neglect by the wacky Korean family that founded it nearly 30 years ago. Survivors may include the National Enquirer.

The Huffington Post carries a report from DCRTV:
Conservative newspaper The Washington Times is perilously close to shutting down, the website DCRTV reports.

A source told the site that at familial strife is at the heart of the possible closure. The Times is owned by the family of the controversial billionaire Rev. Sun Myung Moon, head of the Unification Church. The reverend founded the paper in 1982, and has kept it afloat even though it has never been profitable. But he is now 90, and his children have taken over the day to day operations of his religious and media empire. His son Preston Moon now runs the Times.

Over the past year, the paper has run into serious financial difficulties, and the church has forced it to cut back.

It stopped publishing on Sundays and went through a deep round of layoffs last year.

In the spring, the church confirmed that it was trying to sell the paper. Clearly, the church's attempts to do so have not been met with much success, leading to reports of the Times' impending closure.
As much as Washington conservatives tried to give the Times some level of respect, the paper never really had credibility. The Sulzbergers and Grahams may be cult-like in their own way, but there are no reports of Punch or Kay officiating as mass weddings.

Meanwhile, the Post may see a hometown challenger in the form of the Enquirer. Fresh from the John Edwards takedown and giving considerable ink to a masseuse's claim that Al Gore was not going to be happy without a happy ending, Enquirer executive editor Barry Levine wants to set up shop in the nation's capital.

New York:
“I’ve broken some of the biggest stories the National Enquirer has ever published,” he says. He commanded the dirt diggers who first exposed the cheating scandals of Tiger Woods and John Edwards—not to mention spicy allegations about Al Gore. “And I spend nights thinking that if I wasn’t doing this, nobody else would. If I were in Russia, I’d be taken out by a hail of bullets, because that’s what happens to investigative journalists there.”

Levine, 51, takes his work seriously. He was on Colbert last week and appears on The View and on Huckabee, and even spoke at the Columbia Journalism School about the Edwards investigation, which he fought (successfully) to get considered for a Pulitzer. “I’m already working on the 2012 presidential candidates,” he says. “I dream of an office in Washington where aides to senators and congressmen come in on their lunch hour and tell us stories.”
And who's to say a guy can't dream? Even if he's not a nutty billionaire.

Trichet's Got a Charity Case On His Hands With Iceland EU Talks



Hey! Maybe we should ask our friend Frederic Mishkin his thoughts on Iceland joining the EU! Freddie, I'll give you $5 to tell them they blow and you won't even have to disclose it (call it a gift under $20, buddy, no one will ever know).

IceNews:

Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs says he is emphasising in Iceland’s EU accession talks that the Icelandic krona must be propped up by the European Central Bank immediately after Icelandic membership of the European Union and until Iceland adopts the euro, if and when that happens. The minister added that accession talks are likely to take longer than optimists had hoped.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ossur Skarphedinsson told Visir.is that he believes direct negotiations over agriculture could begin by next Easter and direct fisheries negotiations as early as next autumn. These are the two areas of negotiation everybody agrees will be the hardest.

So wait a minute, how exactly does this help the EU? Free reindeer pelts if they let them in? Yearly Bjork concerts for Sarkozy and his peeps?

Feels like a lose-lose to me but don't ask me, no one paid me $124,000 to opine on this one.

TLP: What the FCUK? Abercrombie, Bebe and Blockbuster Also in Retail Fail

retail closings
Nothing says recovery like massive store closings. So shop those going-out-of-business sales and scoop up all the hip and edgy formerly overpriced clothing, DVDs and canned goods (?) you can.

AOL Daily Finance:
Your next shopping trip may not be as convenient as it used to be. The second quarter earnings season brought news from several major retailers that they will be shutting down stores. Both Saks (SKS) and Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) said they were closing stores in several parts of the country. Meanwhile, other stores like the struggling Blockbuster video rental chain, continue to slash stores by the dozens. American Apparel (APP), which is close to defaulting on its loans, just may be next.

Consumers just aren't shopping the way they used to. Even Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), which typically fares well during tough economic times, is worried. "The slow economic recovery will continue to affect our customers, and we expect they will remain cautious about spending," said president and CEO Mike Duke in a statement that was released during the company's second quarter earnings report.

With the prospects for economic recovery iffy at best and consumer spending still moving at a snail's pace, it's little wonder that retailers are sussing out their weakest stores and closing them in order to protect profits. Retailers say they are positioning themselves to play where they can be strongest and avoid burning resources in places that won't produce the results they want. Here are some of the biggest store closings of late.
Here's the Daily Finance Top 10:
Saks
French Connection
A&P
American Eagle Outfitters
Winn-Dixie
Bebe
Men's Wearhouse
Abercrombie & Fitch
Charming Shoppes
Blockbuster
More to come.

The Dirty Fed Loses One More in the War Against Transparency



... it ain't over til the bald guy is in prison, you know. Next up for this circus of obscurity: SCOTUS!

Bloomberg:

An appeals court refused to reconsider a decision compelling the Federal Reserve Board to release documents identifying banks that might have failed without the U.S. government bailout.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals in New York, in a docket entry dated Aug. 20, denied a May 4 request by the Fed to review a three-judge panel’s unanimous March 19 decision requiring the agency to release records of the unprecedented $2 trillion U.S. loan program begun primarily after the 2008 collapse of Bear Stearns Cos.

Unless the court stays its decision, the Fed will have seven days to disclose the documents. In the event of a stay, the central bank and the Clearing House Association LLC, an organization of 20 commercial banks that joined the Fed in defense of the lawsuit, will have 90 days to petition the Supreme Court to consider their appeal. The Clearing House has already said it will ask the high court to rule on the case.

“We are reviewing the decision and considering our options for appeal,” David Skidmore, a Fed spokesman, said.

I find it funny that the Fed thinks "irreparable competitive injury" is a good excuse, wasn't it irreparable economic injury that these banks were threatening when they begged for a lifeline in the first place? I'm sorry but if you want the Fed's easy money, you better be prepared to tell us who, what, where, why, when AND WTF. Thanks.

The Fed argued in the case, which was brought by Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, that disclosure of the documents threatens to stigmatize borrowers and cause them “severe and irreparable competitive injury,” discouraging banks in distress from seeking help. The appeals court panel rejected that argument.

“The decision is of exceptional importance,” the Fed’s lawyers wrote in a legal brief on May 4 in which they asked the circuit court to reconsider the decision. “The real-world consequence of the panel’s decision will be serious, perhaps irreparable harm to the institutional borrowers whose information will be revealed.”

Know what causes even more irreparable harm? The fucking Dirty Fed itself.

Here's what the Board WILL not FOIA, does anyone see "Whiny bitch banks that almost took down the world economy" on this list?

The Board will provide any reasonably segregable portion of a record that is requested after deleting the portions that are exempt from disclosure. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552 (b), the following records of the Board are exempt from disclosure:

(1) National defense. Any information that is specifically authorized under criteria established by an executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and is in fact properly classified pursuant to the executive order. The Board does not have original classification authority; however, there may be instances in which Board records contain classified information that would be withheld.

(2) Internal personnel rules and practices. Any information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of the Board. This exemption may also be used to withhold internal policies (e.g., security procedures) whose disclosure might lead to circumvention of those policies.

(3) Statutory exemption. Any information specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than 5 USC 552b), if the statute (A) requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue or (B) establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld. Information the Board has withheld under this exemption includes grand jury materials and currency transaction and suspicious activity reports.

(4) Trade secrets; commercial or financial information. Any matter that is a trade secret or that constitutes commercial or financial information obtained from a person and that is privileged or confidential. In the context of requests for applications and application-related materials, the exempt information often includes business plans, pro forma financial information, nonpublic portions of transactional agreements, and descriptions of due diligence procedures and findings. Other information, such as copies of individual loan files obtained during an examination, and voluntarily submitted proprietary information, may fall within the scope of this exemption.

(5) Inter- or intra-agency memorandums. Information contained in inter- or intra-agency memorandums or letters that would not be available by law to a party (other than an agency) in litigation with an agency. Information the Board has withheld under this exemption includes staff analyses and recommendations and inter-agency or intra-agency communications on proposals.

(6) Personnel and medical files. Any information contained in personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Information the Board has withheld under this exemption includes the names and/or personal addresses of shareholders holding less than 10 percent of the shares of a bank or bank holding company, completed interagency biographical and financial reports, and nonpublic portions of employment or non-competition agreements.

(7) Information compiled for law enforcement purposes. Any records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information (A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, (B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication, (C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, (D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a state, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution that furnished information on a confidential basis, (E) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law, or (F) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual. Information the Board has withheld under this exemption includes investigatory records related to pending or potential enforcement actions (7(b)(A)); details on individuals who are targets of or witnesses to pending or completed investigations (7(b)(C)); and materials reflecting the Board's procedures for conducting investigations (7)(b)(E)).

(8) Examination, inspection, operating, or condition reports, and confidential supervisory information. Any matter that is contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions, including a state financial institution supervisory agency. Information the Board has withheld under this exemption includes examination reports, examination-related correspondence, examiners' work-papers, and audit plans.

(9) Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps concerning wells. The Board does not receive or maintain this type of information and has not invoked this exemption.

So far they've bought themselves a year, wonder how many bodies they've been able to hide since? Scurry, you little rat bastards, scurry!

Gee, think these guys at the Clearing House Association are covering much? It is owned by US commercial banking affiliates of ABN AMRO, Bank of America, The Bank of New York, Bank One, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Fleet National Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Wachovia, and Wells Fargo. Who needs a fucking FOIA? There are your rats right there! These thugs seem to believe threats work to keep their sheisty criminal activity under wraps but, uh, I think the sheeple have caught on at this point and it's going to take a lot more than threats to get this one to go away. Good luck with SCOTUS, you bastards!

Yeah But I Can Still Call Bernanke an Asshat, Right?



I sure hope so. Defamation is one thing but I know of very few people who would actually try to argue with me on the point of Bernanke's asshattery, even overpaid Fed lawyers.

LA Times:

In April, a North Carolina county official won a similar ruling after some anonymous bloggers on a local website called him a slumlord.

"Most people have no idea of the liability they face when they publish something online," said Eric Goldman, who teaches Internet law at Santa Clara University. "A whole new generation can publish now, but they don't understand the legal dangers they could face. People are shocked to learn they can be sued for posting something that says, 'My dentist stinks.' "

Under federal law, websites generally are not liable for comments posted by outsiders. They can, however, be forced to reveal the poster's identity if the post includes false information presented as fact.

Calling someone a "jerk" and a "buffoon" may be safe from a lawsuit because it states an opinion. Saying he wrongly "pocketed" public money could lead to a defamation claim because it asserts something as a fact.

"A lot of people don't know how easy it is to track them down" once a lawsuit is filed, said Sara J. Rose, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer in Pittsburgh.

Interesting that this should come out now, I received an email over the weekend from a JDA reader (who also happens to be a lawyer) who took issue with a side comment I made about one of our local newscasters. Whether or not my comments were validated by this newscaster's behavior, he argued, it bordered on petty name-calling and could open me up to all sorts of liability if newscaster in question were to stumble on the post. Of course who thinks about these things when tap-tap-tapping away for the greater good of humanity?

I will bite my tongue going forward but refuse to kiss Fed ass and will continue my liberal use of words like shill, hack, bastard, asshat, bonehead, motherfucker and/or cocksucker as needed. So sue me.

Or I could just do what the Fed does and start everything with "In my view..." and call it a day.

Hoenig: TBTF Has an Unfair Advantage Over Community Banks



Filed under: duh, dude

Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig gave testimony today to the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in which he expressed a little concern over the unfair treatment TBTF gets in comparison to smaller, community banks. I remind dear reader that Hoenig's 10th district supervises a total of 0 TBTF banks and hosts a little over 1000 smaller ones.

There are 83 "large banks" in the United States and nearly 5000 smaller ones so why is it we're letting the big boys get away with murder while the little guys are going down by the handful every Friday?

Said Hoenig:

Because the market perceived the largest banks as being too big to fail, they have had the advantage of running their business with a much greater level of leverage and a consistently lower cost of capital and debt. The advantage of their too-big-to-fail status was highlighted during the crisis, when the FDIC allowed unlimited insurance on non-interest-bearing checking accounts out of concern that businesses would move their deposits from the smaller to the largest banks.

I'm sad to say that part of the problem is the accounting. The big boys are allowed to keep so much of their extracurricular market activity off-sheet and because this clandestine behavior can threaten the very economic sanity of our nation (as we learned in 2008), they continue to take on leverage that any normal bank wouldn't go near. The community banks are forced to compete with this distorted model because if they don't, they'll die. Unfortunately, as we've seen in the last two years, if they do they'll die too.

Where does it end? I think we could start by killing the FDIC and thereby eliminating the moral hazard problem. Then depositors would be forced to do their own research (how about instituting clear, easy-to-understand information about an individual bank's leverage and investment activities for starters?) and choose based on the health of a particular bank, not just by who can offer the most free toasters.

The full text of Hoenig's remarks may be found here and props to Kansas City Fed for a stunning website redesign, it looks awesome. The Fed still sucks donkey balls but A) at least their president doesn't have his head shoved up his ass and B) at least the website looks nice.

The AICPA Needs Your Help To Get the IRS Off Tax Preparers' Backs


Pic credit: Bryan Prindiville

Here's the sitch (from the AICPA):

The IRS has proposed to register paid tax preparers by requiring:

1. A personal tax identification number (PTIN) for all preparers;
2. All preparers to be subject to Circular 230;
3. An exam for registered preparers; and
4. Continuing education for registered preparers.

CPAs, attorneys and enrolled agents would be exempt from the exam and continuing education requirements, but would be required to obtain and use a PTIN number.

The AICPA supports the IRS goal to improve the competency and ethical conduct of paid tax preparers. However, after the proposal was announced, the IRS also indicated its intent to require non-signing preparers (who are not CPAs) to register and take the proposed exam – even non-signing preparers who work at CPA firms under the supervision of a CPA.

The AICPA believes that requiring registration for non-signing preparers working at CPA firms under a CPA’s supervision is a duplicative regulatory burden on CPAs, who are already appropriately regulated by state boards of accountancy.

The AICPA also believes that the IRS is moving too quickly to implement an exam for all registered preparers, and believes that the results of PTIN tracking should be analyzed to prove whether there is a need for an exam for registered preparers.

The additional and unnecessary registration and exam requirements are a burden on American businesses, as the registration and examination costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers and businesses.

The AICPA supports the IRS goal to weed out “bad actors” through tracking personal tax identification numbers (PTIN) for all signing preparers, and encourages the IRS to fully implement the PTIN regulations before extending the requirement to non-signing preparers AND before requiring an examination.

JDA agrees that something needs to be done but requiring an exam seems a bit silly as many tax preparers are accounting students looking to provide their number-crunching services for spare cash or on a volunteer basis (like the VITA program). Many of these preparers go on to study for and pass the Regulation section of the CPA exam, which covers all federal tax issues. While the effectiveness of accounting education might be up for debate, it's true that the new requirement is more than burdensome for these folks just looking to help out that are already licensed by their state board of accountancy or supervised by an individual or firm licensed by the board..

The AICPA is asking for CPAs' help by sending the following note to publicliason@irs.gov ASAP:

Subject line: IRS should slow down implementing tax preparer registration proposal

Body of email:

I urge the IRS to exempt CPA firms from the requirement to register their employees who are non-signing tax return preparers, and I urge the IRS to delay the implementation of its preparer examination.

I am a CPA and I support the goals to increase compliance and raise the ethical conduct of paid preparers embodied in your proposal to regulate paid income tax preparers. However, the costs and burdens of this proposal go too far, too fast – we need to see a reasoned, rational approach that creates benefits that outweigh the burdens on the CPA preparer community and ultimately the tax-paying public.

CPA firms stand behind the work done by the CPAs and employees of their firms. Requiring PTINs on tax returns should give the IRS enough information to track and weed out incompetent preparers, WITHOUT the need to require PTINs for non-signing preparers who work at CPA firms. CPAs are already regulated by state boards of accountancy and Treasury Department Circular 230, so I believe strongly that the PTIN requirement should not be extended to non-signing preparers at CPA firms.

I also feel strongly that the exam component should be delayed until evidence is gathered that proves the need for such an exam. The goal is to raise competency and ethical conduct; therefore, the PTIN tracking proposal should be given time to do just that, before layering on potentially unnecessary and redundant regulatory burdens on CPA firms in particular, and on all preparers and the public. In addition, I have concerns about certain aspects of the proposed Circular 230 rules that were recently released.

I request that the IRS: (1) exempt CPA firms from the non-signing preparer requirements of the proposed regulations, and (2) delay the implementation of the exam requirement until the PTIN process is fully implemented and results are known.

Thank you for your consideration of my thoughts on these important issues.

Get on it, my little mathletes!

Broke Philadelphia Strong-Arms Blogger Into Paying For a Business License



h/t WCV

If this isn't mafia mentality, I don't know what is.

Philadelphia City Paper:

For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to ehow.com, over the last few years she says she's made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it's a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.

In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.

"The real kick in the pants is that I don't even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous," Bess says.

What a bunch of assholes. We support you, Bess, but you're on your own when it comes to coming up with that $300. I'd say tell 'em to shove it up their asses and go incorporate in Guam but that's just me.

Go Topless Day Goes Bust in San Francisco (No Pun Intended)



When I think of places most likely to support a law that allows women to go topless, San Francisco isn't it. Sure, most of our populace couldn't care less either way but for the most part we like our toplessness limited to Bay to Breakers and maybe Pride - though between you and I, those most inclined to take their tops off in this town could do us all a favor and cover up.

Anyway, 14 men and 6 women took part in Sunday's protest, making it appear as though End the Fed is a more pressing issue than partial female nudity over in these parts. Go figure.

SF Gate:

The sight of men wearing bras or bikini tops hardly causes a ripple in San Francisco anymore, but today a group of guys did so for a different purpose - to demand that women be allowed to legally bare their breasts in public.

Not because men want to see them, the protesters said. For justice.

"If we're supposed to be equal across the board, then women should be allowed to show their breasts," said Michael Staley, 43, who was topless except for a bustier and a straw hat. "Why can't they? Men can, women should, period."

What's the harm in a little skin?

Of course you knew this story had to have a truly bizarre twist. From the GoTopless website:

Who can participate? We welcome everyone! GoTopless was founded by the Raelian Movement, which recognizes that life on Earth was created by advanced extraterrestrial scientists. These scientists, both male and female, used their mastery of genetic engineering to create humans in their own image (breasts included!). GoTopless includes thousands of women and men, who have a wide variety of beliefs, affiliations, etc..
.

The event is supposedly held in August to correspond with the August 26 anniversary of women being granted the right to vote. Held in various cities, this year was San Francisco's first (and most likely last). Protesters could also be found in NYC, Venice Beach, Chicago, Miami Beach, Austin, Seattle, Oahu and Denver. Denver, really? Whatevs.

We aren't sure if Sunday's participants believe in alien creators but we know for sure they believe either women should be able to uncover or men should be forced to cover up. We are jam-packed with hotties over here so I am not going to whine but know when I head home to Wisconsin to check in with the fam the very last thing I want to see is a sweaty, bratwurst-addicted Kowalski with his shirt off. Just sayin.

79 Reasons For a Gold Standard



Prudent Investor has assembled an excellent list of 79 reasons to use a gold standard, go check it out.

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

Almost there, kids, almost there.

TLP: When Government Runs Like a Business. A Really Bad Business.

government budget
We've seen the steps some state and local governments have taken to deal with budget crunches. Selling off buildings, contracting out prisons, for example.

Things may be getting out of hand.

WSJ:
Cities and states across the nation are selling and leasing everything from airports to zoos—a fire sale that could help plug budget holes now but worsen their financial woes over the long run.

California is looking to shed state office buildings. Milwaukee has proposed selling its water supply; in Chicago and New Haven, Conn., it's parking meters. In Louisiana and Georgia, airports are up for grabs.

About 35 deals now are in the pipeline in the U.S., according to research by Royal Bank of Scotland's RBS Global Banking & Markets. Those assets have a market value of about $45 billion—more than ten times the $4 billion or so two years ago, estimates Dana Levenson, head of infrastructure banking at RBS. Hundreds more deals are being considered, analysts say.

The deals illustrate the increasingly tight financial squeeze gripping communities. Many are using asset sales to balance budgets ravaged by declines in tax revenues and unfunded pensions. In recent congressional testimony, billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he worried about how municipalities will pay for public workers' retirement and health benefits and suggested that the federal government may ultimately be compelled to bail out states. ...

While asset sales can create efficiencies, critics say the way these current sales are being handled could hurt communities over the long run. Some properties are being sold at fire-sale prices into a weak market. The deals mean cities are giving up long-term, recurring income streams in exchange for lump-sum payments to plug one-time budget gaps.

The deals are threatening credit ratings in some cases and affecting the quality and cost of basic utilities such as electricity and water. Critics say many of the moves are akin to individuals using their retirement plans to pay for immediate needs, instead of planning for the future.

"The deals are part of a broader restructuring of our economy that carries big risks because of revenue losses over time," says Michael Likosky, a professor at New York University who specializes in public finance law.
Not good, whichever way you look at it. Keep government running as is and continue down the red-ink river. Sell today and end up drowning in it later. Of course, there's always the hope that someone somewhere in government will have a big enough pair to, I don't know, stop spending.

Uh huh. That's what I thought.