Looking Through the Discount Window: The Fed (Finally) Releases Lending Data

A year and a half after the process began, Bloomberg finally got its hands on the Fed discount window lending data it wanted.


[Supreme Court] justices left intact lower court orders that said the Fed must reveal documents requested by Bloomberg related to borrowers in April and May 2008, along with loan amounts. The late Bloomberg News reporter Mark Pittman asked for the records under the Freedom of Information Act, which allows citizens access to government papers. News Corp.’s Fox News Network LLC filed FOIA requests for similar information on loans made from August 2007 to March 2010.

Former Fed officials, lawyers representing the central bank, and even some Fed watchers have expressed concern that revealing the names of discount-window borrowers could keep banks away from the facility in the future.

“I am concerned that in the next crisis it will be more difficult for the Federal Reserve to play the traditional role of lender of last resort,” said Donald Kohn, former Fed vice chairman and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “Having these names made public, or the threat of having them made public, could well impair the efficacy of a key central bank function in a crisis -- to provide liquidity to avoid fire sales of assets -- because banks will be reluctant to borrow.”

The best part of the entire article is this Jamie Dimon threat, in which he clearly expresses his distaste for the discount window, as if he's somehow above it. We all know Dimon doesn't need a damn discount window, he gets his cheap easy money in Fed firesales of Bear Stearns silver positions like any self-respecting banker would:

“I think it will make it harder for people to use the discount window in the future,” Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the second- biggest U.S. bank by assets, told reporters yesterday after a speech in Washington. “We never intend to use the discount window.”

But the very best paragraph of all is this, also from Bloomberg (slash Business Week) but a different article. Are you fucking kidding me?

Americans can take comfort knowing that Congress and the courts affirmed what may prove the most reassuring legacy of the worst financial disaster of our time: The Federal Reserve is the people’s bank and obligated to share what it knows and does with the citizenry it serves.

The citizenry it serves?! I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Recommended supplemental reading: The Dirty Fed Loses One More in the War Against Transparency


Live Tweeting Next Weds: "The Role of the Accounting Profession in Preventing Another Financial Crisis"

Since I'm in DC and my dear editor is in Denver, we'll be tearing up The Role of the Accounting Profession in Preventing Another Financial Crisis together. He'll be live-blogging the webcast on Going Concern while I update on how everyone's hair is looking and serve as general disruption as usual. This epic event is brought to you by the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

Follow me on Twitter to catch it next Wednesday, hashtag suggestions would be helpful.

My money is on Lynn Turner busting heads.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
09:30 AM - 12:00 PM
538 Dirksen Senate Office Building

The witnesses on Panel I will be: Mr. James R. Doty, Chairman, Public Company Accounting Oversight Board; Ms. Leslie F. Seidman, Chairman, Financial Accounting Standards Board; and Mr. James L. Kroeker, Chief Accountant, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The witnesses on Panel II will be: Mr. Anton R. Valukas, Chairman, Jenner & Block LLP; and Mr. Lynn E. Turner, Former Chief Accountant, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Additional witnesses may be announced at a later date.

All hearings are webcasted live and Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid or service, including closed captioning service for webcast hearings, should contact the committee clerk at 202-224-7391 at least three business days in advance of the hearing date.

Panel 1

* Mr. James R. Doty
Public Company Accounting Oversight Board
* Ms. Leslie F. Seidman
Financial Accounting Standards Board
* Mr. James L. Kroeker
Chief Accountant
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Panel 2

* Mr. Anton R. Valukas
Jenner & Block LLP
* Mr. Lynn E. Turner
Former Chief Accountant
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission


TLP: Scalia Fined in Rear-Ending

Thursday, March 31, 2011 , , 5 Comments

scalia fine
And I thought the courts had backed off enforcing sodomy laws.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been fined $70 for allegedly rear-ending an automobile in a minor four-car collision, a United States Park Police spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

Scalia was not injured in the accident, which occurred Tuesday when the 75-year-old high court justice's car rear-ended another vehicle on the George Washington Memorial Parkway in suburban Virginia, according to Sgt. David Schlosser of the Park Police.

The narrow and winding four-lane divided parkway travels along the Potomac River past the nation's capital, and is popular among both commuters and tourists.

Scalia was driving himself to work when the accident occurred. He was charged with being at fault for the fender-bender by the investigating officer, Schlosser said. It was not known whether Scalia will pay or contest the fine.
No word on injuries to the party who took it from behind.


AIG Fights to Buy Back Its Own Crap Assets, NY Fed Isn't Having Any of That

Poor AIG, anyone else crying a river for them? This is what happens when you need the government and the Bernanke Mafia to come save you. I find it hilarious that AIG's Benmosche believes he is the one in charge of the company when, in fact, the government/Bernanke Mafia are majority owners.

Via DealBook:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s rejection of the American International Group’s offer to buy back $15.7 billion worth of mortgage securities poses a big problem for the insurer, the company’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

Instead of selling the entire Maiden Lane II portfolio of securities back to A.I.G., the New York Fed instead has chosen to sell off pieces over time, potentially opening up the sales process to other bidders.

But Robert H. Benmosche, A.I.G.’s chief executive, argues that it could potentially weaken the insurer’s financial position.

“It’s a huge problem for us,” he told DealBook in a telephone interview.

The decision, he said, also took him by surprise. Mr. Benmosche said he was notified of the New York Fed’s plan only by a phone call at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Here's the obvious issue, the New York Fed needs to make the most it can off this deal lest they be accused of squandering taxpayer money. I'm not sure when we hired them to manage our tax portfolio but we'll save that discussion for another day.

Says Bloomberg:

Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN), Barclays Plc (BARC) and Morgan Stanley are each seeking groups of investors to counter American International Group Inc. (AIG)’s $15.7 billion bid for a pool of mortgage bonds held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, people with knowledge of the discussions said.

The dealers are among bond brokers gauging whether they can assemble bids from customers that would beat AIG’s offer if the Fed decides to sell the assets, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. Banks have told clients that the New York Fed, which hired BlackRock Inc. (BLK) to manage the portfolio, probably isn’t ready for bids or to decide on the sales process, the people said.

AIG, which is 92 percent-owned by the U.S. government, made public on March 10 its offer for the assets, which the insurer turned over to a Fed fund in 2008. AIG said its proposal would benefit taxpayers by boosting investment returns at the company as it seeks to attract private capital to replace government funds. The New York Fed said March 11 it’s seeking a solution that “maximizes the proceeds to the taxpayer.”

Maybe NY Fed should just hang onto this crap a little bit longer, that way when the wheels fall off this thing, they'll be the ones left holding the bag. They were all too happy to unload most of AIG on the Treasury, makes one wonder what sort of sentimental attachment they have to these damn bonds. What gives? When AIG was failing no one wanted this shit, now look at them fighting to get a piece!

This money laundering shit is complicated!


St Louis Fed's Bullard is (Sort Of) Back on My Good Side

Looks like the arsonist has changed his tune.


The Federal Reserve Bank may not be able to wait until uncertainty over several potential global crises recedes before beginning to tighten its ultra-loose monetary policy, a top Fed official said on Wednesday.

Even after the Fed begins withdrawing monetary stimulus, there will still be plenty of accommodation in place, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said in slides accompanying a speech for delivery in London. Since December 2008, the Fed has kept interest rates near zero and has bought more than $2 trillion in assets to help push borrowing costs down still further.

Here's what I see: when they have a vote, they're all about the easy money. As soon as they're sitting in the cheering section, they start railing on cheap money.

Anyone else remember Bullard's Seven Faces of “The Peril” from last year?

In this manuscript, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard argues that the Federal Open Market Committee’s extended period language may be increasing the probability of a Japanese-style deflationary outcome for the U.S. within the next several years. Bullard concludes that an appropriate quantitative easing policy offers the best hope for avoiding a low nominal interest rate, deflationary outcome.

The economy is no different now than it was when he wrote that, it's just easier to pimp the popular option when one doesn't have to answer to the rest of the Committee.


Keywords, March

SEO is an important component to any good incendiary attempt; to do a good job at that, you have to check out your keywords.

I'm honored that these brought people to JDA. The Internet continues to both fascinate and frighten me.

(I had to look up Burton Feinerman myself and let me tell you, helooksawesome)


Live Tweeting: “The Costs of Implementing the Dodd-Frank Act: Budgetary and Economic”

At 2pm EDT, I'll be live-tweeting “The Costs of Implementing the Dodd-Frank Act: Budgetary and Economic” from the House. Follow me @adrigonzo for updates (excuse me if I have to rip on people on the Metro on the way down there), I'll be tagging tweets with #DoddFrank if you prefer to follow the hashtag instead. I'd rather tag with #FrankenDodd but that would cut down on my available remaining characters.

I'm in it for the following testimony by my 2nd and formerly 1st favorite Fedhead, Richmond Fed's Jeffrey Lacker. Not surprisingly, he'll be discussing his very favorite subject of all time: the safety net. Let's hope for his sake his hair is looking excellent this afternoon, I know mine is.


Panel I

* The Honorable Jill E. Sommers, Commissioner, Commodity Futures Trading Commission
* Mr. Douglas W. Elmendorf, Director, Congressional Budget Office
* Mr. Jeffrey Lacker, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Panel II

* Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum
* Dr. James J. Angel, Associate Professor of Finance, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University
* Dr. James A. Overdahl, Vice President, NERA Economic Consulting
* Mr. David Min, Associate Director of Financial Markets Policy, Center for American Progress

See you kids there!


How Bernanke Is Funneling Big Money to the Banks

Robert Auerbach writes via HuffPo:

Today in the middle of the Bernanke Fed's continuing purchase of $600 billion in Treasury securities -- its quantitative easing purchases, "QE2," which ends in June 2011 -- where do you think most of the $600 billion is going? Loans to businesses? Purchase of private sector income earning assets? No and No. Since September 2008 -- 25 months -- the Fed has pumped out an average of $49 billion a month. This monetary base of the country (currency, coin and bank reserves) is now $2.210 trillion. Over half (57 percent) of the $2.210 trillion sits in the banks as reserves drawing interest.

Recommended reading: No No, We Should Pay Banks MORE To Store Their "Money" In the Fed Vault, Duh!


I, For One, Welcome Our Chinese Overlords

 pic credit: toothpaste for dinner

I just want to say that I'm ready to learn Chinese and run like hell.

See China 'to Overtake US on Science' in Two Years via the BBC:

China is on course to overtake the US in scientific output possibly as soon as 2013 - far earlier than expected.

That is the conclusion of a major new study by the Royal Society, the UK's national science academy.

The country that invented the compass, gunpowder, paper and printing is set for a globally important comeback.

An analysis of published research - one of the key measures of scientific effort - reveals an "especially striking" rise by Chinese science.

Listen, they invented counting and the Tabulation system for unlocking binomial coefficients (damn that's hot), I'm not about to mess with them.

But America invented the catheter, the coffee percolator, donuts and the machine gun. So there.

(via When Giants Fall)


TLP: Too Many Women? Let's Ask Justice Thomas What He Thinks

wal-mart discrimination
I don't know whether Wal-Mart has a case in its challenge to a class-action lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court.

CBS News:
The Supreme Court hears arguments today on a sex discrimination suit against Wal-Mart, which could be wind up being the largest in United States history.

The lead lawyer for the plaintiffs says the mega-retailer is essentially saying it's "too big" to be sued. Wal-Mart says it simply doesn't discriminate against women.

The justices will decide if the suit should go forward. If that happens, 500,000 to more than 1.5 million current and former female employees could be included. And if they win, Wal-Mart, the nation's biggest employer, would be forced to pay billions, reports CBS News Chief Legal Correspondent Jan Crawford.
What I do know is that I find it pretty fucking hilarious that Wal-Mart — world's largest purveyor of all kinds of shit people don't need and can't live without — would ever try to make that claim that anything is too big.


UPDATE: Federal Reserve Siege FAIL

How are we supposed to Siege the Fed if no one shows up?

Maybe I got the date wrong because they changed it once but I was out at the Board of Governors in DC this morning bright and early hoping to catch at least a few angry mobs beginning to form and caught nothing. I was lucky enough to get some great shots of the Washington Monument at sunrise as well as the Board looking awfully ominous in the dawn light, its eagle lit up in the darkness against a dark blue sky. But protesters? Nothing.

I mean absolutely nothing. Except for the two Fed cops strolling the grounds as usual and the bureaucrats scattering to their government gigs, there wasn't a single person out there this morning. No one.

Everything I (and, presumably, the authorities) read said 6am but according to The Boston Phoenix, at least Boston Fed festivities are scheduled for 1pm this afternoon.

Listen, if you can't even get the time right how the hell do you expect people to show up?

So either the Siege is still on and I was just too early to catch it or this is an epic fail of a protest as I initially suspected. Did anyone else find it strange how these were supposedly organized by Anonymous? Everyone knows Anonymous doesn't organize; I either smell a rat or a loser movement trying to capitalize on the popularity of both Fedbashing and Anonymous.

By the way, End the Fed in DC on June 3. Now that I will be attending. Better go get the Bernanke 00% t-shirt dry cleaned.

Update: AmpedStatus is showing the following on their site, which claims "they" were not aware of this morning's supposed protest. Frankly I don't know what there is to defend as there wasn't anything going on, at least in Washington:

We can tell you that OpESR is definitely NOT a hoax.

We are unaware / out of the loop on the Federal Reserve siege on the 28th and do not know who originally planned that action. That was done outside of AmpedStatus, however, this is a decentralized movement and non-violent actions against the Fed are encouraged.

If people want us to openly support / spread the word on actions via http://ampedstatus.com/ , feel free to send a private message to this account. Otherwise, we will keep our eyes open for solidarity actions to support.

As of right now, we are supporting actions tomorrow by USuncut against Bank of America: http://ampedstatus.org/network/members/admin/activity/23761


TLP: Crybabies on Teevee (And This Has Nothing To Do With Glenn Beck)

Monday, March 28, 2011 , , , 2 Comments

It's sort of a given that our teevee talking heads have big egos. Maybe "given" isn't the right word for it. How about "prerequisite"? And it figures that people who put themselves on camera must like being watched. But, really, no matter how much they want it to be, the news is not about them.

Aaron Brown isn't even on CNN anymore and he couldn't stop talking to TVNewser:
On the subject of television, Brown says the abundance of international breaking news over the last month plays to CNN’s institutional strengths, but at the same time “masks its underlying weaknesses.”

“CNN can’t succeed in a world where people want news to be entertaining,” he says. “Bill O’Reilly is inherently more entertaining than anything CNN does. It’s more fun to see an action movie than read a book.”

What CNN does have, however, “is a world-class brand that would be the envy of any news organization in the world except, perhaps, the New York Times. It doesn’t win [the ratings], but maybe that’s not the most important thing.”

To Brown, journalism is the most important thing. And on that point, he doesn’t hold much respect for Fox News’ O’Reilly, ex-MSNBC star Keith Olbermann and others, labeling them as “skilled entertainers who use journalism as a canvas on which to perform.” ...

As for Anderson Cooper, Brown’s successor at CNN, he saves his best brickbat for last.

“I know the difference between journalism and a slogan. ‘Keeping them honest’ [tagline for Cooper’s ‘360’] is a slogan.”
Maybe Brown gets a break on his whining. His comments came as he was getting ready for some sort of heart surgery. No such pass for Chris Wallace, who spent Sunday morning wetting his pants on Fox News about getting shut out by the White House.

Host Chris Wallace lashed out at the Obama administration on “Fox News Sunday” for refusing to make Cabinet secretaries available to discuss the ongoing conflict in Libya.

“Of course, we wanted to get the White House view on Libya,” Wallace told his viewers at the end of an interview with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). “However, they chose to offer Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton and Defense Secretary [Robert] Gates to ABC, CBS and NBC but not to Fox.”

“Despite the fact that we routinely have more viewers than two of those Sunday shows, the Obama team felt no need to explain to the millions of you who watch this program and Fox News why they have sent U.S. servicemen and women into combat,” Wallace added. “We thought you’d like to know.”
Feel better, Chris? Hope so.


The Washington Post Peddles Good TARP PR

Selling TARP is a hard job, but Robert Samuelson does a great job in the Washington Post:

It isn’t often that the government launches a major program that achieves its main goals at a tiny fraction of its estimated costs. That’s the story of TARP — the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Created in October 2008 at the height of the financial crisis, it helped stabilize the economy, using only $410  billion of its authorized $700  billion. And most of that will be repaid. The Congressional Budget Office, which once projected TARP’s ultimate cost at $356  billion, now says $19  billion. This could go lower.

You would hardly know.

Almost everyone loves to hate TARP. It’s a favorite political sport of liberals, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats — and the public. A Bloomberg poll last October asked how TARP had affected the economy. Forty-three percent of respondents said it weakened the economy; 21 percent said it made no difference; only 24 percent said it helped, with 12 percent unsure one way or another. Commentators in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times disparage TARP.


One lesson of the financial crisis is this: When the entire financial system succumbs to panic, only the government is powerful enough to prevent a complete collapse. Panics signify the triumph of fear. TARP was part of the process by which fear was overcome. It wasn’t the only part, but it was an essential part. Without TARP, we’d be worse off today. No one can say whether unemployment would be 11 percent or 14 percent; it certainly wouldn’t be 8.9 percent.

Wow, really? This article should read "advertisement" at the top and clearly disclaim that it was paid for by the Treasury and/or Fed, which they wrote off as PR.

The issue most reasonable people have with TARP is not how much we actually paid for it (because Big Daddy Bernanke is just going to print up a fresh truckload of $100 bills anyway, we might as well get something out of it) but the fact hat it happened in the first place.

Worse, the same financial rocket scientists who engineered the economy-collapsing securities and needed the government to swoop in and save them in the first place are now first in line at the trough to buy these same financial instruments. If you ask me, it looks like one big money laundering operation, in which the Bernanke Crime Family is the worst of the perps.

My other issue with TARP is that it was not packaged as the bailout free-for-all it ultimately became. If you remember (and I'm sure more than a few folks are hoping you won't - don't worry, your grandchildren won't when TARP is written into the publik skool textbooks), TARP was initially packaged as PPIP. Then Treasury Secretary Hank Evil Crooked Pinky Bastard Paulson said they intended to buy these so-called toxic assets (an oxymoron at best), removing them from the financial system so they could contain the infection. Cute but that's not at all what happened.

Moral hazard is never a good thing, especially when the message is clear: one nation under cheap money.

One day, we'll have to pay. And the final bill is going to be much, much larger than a measly $700 billion.


TLP: You Know Things Are Bad When These Guys Get Attention

gop 2012
Looks like Senate Republicans are getting nervous. Apparently, some GOP leaders aren't wild about the prospect of pinning their White House hopes next year on candidates like Michele Bachmann, Haley Barbour, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee ... who else? Mitch Daniel? Newt? Mitt or the other Mormon? Some ex-governor? Trump? The Ten Commandments judge? One of those senators is cranky Chuck Grassley, says the NYT:
Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, offered a blunt, no-nonsense assessment of the potential Republican field of candidates for president. He said only two or three of them would be qualified to hold the highest office in the land. And then he refused to say which ones they were. In an interview with KJAN radio in Iowa, Mr. Grassley said that although it was too early for him to pick a favorite, he would focus on which candidate could emerge from the state’s caucus in a position to carry on a full-blown campaign. “It wouldn’t do me much good to back somebody that won in Iowa if they can’t carry on the campaign elsewhere,” Mr. Grassley told the radio station’s listeners.
Putting down his tea cup to grumble was Jim DeMint, also via the NYT:
Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina is not interested in running for the Republican presidential nomination, but he said Saturday that the presumed field might not be sufficient to inspire voters and he would welcome a last-minute entry by another candidate. “If no one is an immediate front-runner,” Mr. DeMint said, “I think you might see a whole new cast of Republican candidates out within the next couple of months.” He declined to say whom he would like to enter the race, but he praised the work of new Republican governors, particularly Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. (Mr. Christie has repeatedly said he has no interest in running, but has boasted that he would fare well if he did.) “I’m not going to mention any more names,” Mr. DeMint said in an interview ...
Why bother? You just touted the guy who has been loudest in saying he doesn't want this gig and ripped on everyone who does. And Grassley couldn't have been more unhelpful to his side. Most of these fuckers are losers, he says, but not everybody. And I won't say who isn't. Again, why bother?

Just wait. By the time the campaign really does get going, someone will spin this kind of tactic as some genius secret backwards maneuver to lull Obama and the Democrats into getting complacent. Of course, that assumes the Republicans will get the campaign going.


Canadian Government Monitors Online Conversations to Correct "Misinformation"

pic credit: MTTS

I have no delusions that the American government isn't doing the same thing (*waves to the Navy Network Information Center*) but the outright admission is a tad frightening.

Reminder: our government is doing this too. How else can you explain them buying 500 fake Internet personas and IP faking software?

In case you haven't been watching the Canadian news, they've thrown out the ruling government for the fourth time in seven years, forcing a May election. Go Canada?


Breaking News: The Kids Don't Like Talking on the Phone

As anyone who has ever tried to call me can tell you, I'm pretty bad about picking up the phone. My voicemail message used to clearly disclaim that callers are welcome to leave a message but chances are I will not return the call in a prompt manner. Is that rude? I thought it was fair, I didn't want people to leave important information in a voicemail thinking I'd listen to it. I generally hoard voicemails until I can no longer receive more. I believe the magic number is 20 and let's be honest about it, half of those are usually from my dear Going Concern editor who could just as easily text me.

I keep my ringer on silent all the time. I use ColorID on my BlackBerry so I just have to look at the color of the LED light to know if I'm getting a text, a BBM, an email (sorted with different colors for my 8 different accounts) or a phone call. Important contacts also have their own colors (don't tell my editor but he's set as the spastic pink "girlfriend" color scheme) so I know when to ignore and when to leap for the phone (hello, Lazy Paperboy). Some might call this lazy but for me, it helps me stay organized and sort tedious conversations from pertinent ones.

For the record I still try to call my 81-year-old grandfather at least once a week. My grandma - who used to be the recipient of my weekly phone calls - passed away late last year and it's kind of fun to see how my grandpa has embraced the phone he used to hate. That being said, we do also email and he's had great success with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. So we can still both hate the phone together.

Moving from California to DC has brought another complicated twist to being available: my friends and contacts back in Pacific time seem to forget that I am now 3 hours ahead. So while a late morning phone call to them is only just an early afternoon call to me, it can get annoying after 10pm here when it's only 7p there and one of us is trying to rest.

Anyway, I'm all for not talking on the phone unless you want to. I still enjoy calling sources and conducting actual phone interviews over email ones and spend more minutes than I care to admit distracting The Lazy Paperboy from his super important day job but prefer email any day as it allows me a chance to craft my words and gather my thoughts.


In the last five years, full-fledged adults have seemingly given up the telephone — land line, mobile, voice mail and all. According to Nielsen Media, even on cellphones, voice spending has been trending downward, with text spending expected to surpass it within three years.

“I literally never use the phone,” Jonathan Adler, the interior designer, told me. (Alas, by phone, but it had to be.) “Sometimes I call my mother on the way to work because she’ll be happy to chitty chat. But I just can’t think of anyone else who’d want to talk to me.” Then again, he doesn’t want to be called, either. “I’ve learned not to press ‘ignore’ on my cellphone because then people know that you’re there.”

“I remember when I was growing up, the rule was, ‘Don’t call anyone after 10 p.m.,’ ” Mr. Adler said. “Now the rule is, ‘Don’t call anyone. Ever.’ ”

One last point, can we knock it off with the literally? This guy obviously does not literally never use the phone or he wouldn't have an example of calling his mom. FAIL


Hedge Funds are Confused by the Actual Meaning of Capitalism

“The same guys who packaged this kind of junk will make money unpackaging it,” a hedge fund manager said. “Isn’t capitalism grand?”

Hedge Funds Crave Bonds That Almost Killed AIG [NetNet]


OMG! The White House Spins Libyan Intervention

pic credit: UberPix

If you are at all shocked by this, you obviously have not been paying attention.

The Washington Examiner examines the action that isn't exactly war in Libya:

In the last few days, Obama administration officials have frequently faced the question: Is the fighting in Libya a war? From military officers to White House spokesmen up to the president himself, the answer is no. But that leaves the question: What is it?

In a briefing on board Air Force One Wednesday, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes took a crack at an answer. "I think what we are doing is enforcing a resolution that has a very clear set of goals, which is protecting the Libyan people, averting a humanitarian crisis, and setting up a no-fly zone," Rhodes said. "Obviously that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end."

I guess kinetic military action doesn't require a quick pow-wow with Congress like an actual war might and to be fair to Obama, he hasn't gone on the teevee to say mission accomplished yet so maybe it isn't a war after all.

I find it sort of entertaining that the media is so baffled by Obama's behavior. First he doesn't say anything at all about Libya and then he goes and gets all kinetic action on their asses. Why is this shocking? He's not a professional politician and, unlike his predecessor, doesn't have anyone skilled at the game on his team.

Charles Krauthammer writes via the Washington Post:

And how about NATO? Let’s see. As of this writing, Britain wanted the operation to be led by NATO. France adamantly disagreed, citing Arab sensibilities. Germany wanted no part of anything, going so far as to pull four of its ships from NATO command in the Mediterranean. Italy hinted it might deny the allies the use of its air bases if NATO can’t get its act together. France and Germany walked out of a NATO meeting on Monday, while Norway had planes in Crete ready to go but refused to let them fly until it had some idea who the hell is running the operation. And Turkey, whose prime minister four months ago proudly accepted the Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, has been particularly resistant to the Libya operation from the beginning.

And as for the United States, who knows what American policy is. Administration officials insist we are not trying to bring down Gaddafi, even as the president insists that he must go. Although on Tuesday Obama did add “unless he changes his approach.” Approach, mind you.

In any case, for Obama, military objectives take a back seat to diplomatic appearances. The president is obsessed with pretending that we are not running the operation — a dismaying expression of Obama’s view that his country is so tainted by its various sins that it lacks the moral legitimacy to . . . what? Save Third World people from massacre?

As long as he looks good while he's doing whatever he's doing, does it matter? I mean it's not like we're talking about people's lives here.

What happened to the alien invasion they were supposed to manufacture to take our attention away from the ever-rotting and terminally fucked economic mess before us?


TLP: "Donate Now and Receive a Lovely ACORN Tote Bag"

o'keefe fundraising
Too good. Seriously.

Conservative provocateur James O'Keefe, fresh off his sting operation aimed at NPR, "must raise $50,000 quickly to keep moving forward" he said in an e-mail to supporters.

"Up 'til now, my friends and I have financed all of our work on our own -- running up major credit card debt," O'Keefe writes. "We made a lot of sacrifices -- personally and financially -- because we fight for what we believe in."

"But, now we've hit a wall. This has gotten a lot bigger than we ever imagined. The multi-billion dollar major media Goliath is embarrassed by their failure to make a meaningful impact like we have -- that's why they're attacking us," he writes.

"It cost us about $50,000 when all is said and done to produce the NPR video," O'Keefe said. "If you help us raise over $50,000, it will go toward our next video -- after we pay off our credits cards, of course."
This couldn't be any better if Garrison Keillor was voicing it.
"If you help us pass $100,000 -- we can do two new videos..." O'Keefe said. "...And if by some chance, we raise $1,000,000 -- we could expose 20 disturbing cases of government abuse and corruption. But, all I'm worried about is $50,000 right now."

"Give what you can and take the Survey on Media Responsibility and Ethics. America needs The Project Veritas to grow quickly. But, we can't continue, much less grow, unless we receive financial support soon."
The irony is almost blinding. Almost. Here's where your eyes cross and your legs start shaking in some kind of fucking seizure: "Because Project Veritas' 501 (c)(3) status is pending, contributions are not yet tax deductible or are not tax deductible at this time."

Just think, someday soon, O'Keefe's exposure of people "abusing your tax dollars" could benefit by abusing your tax dollars. Maybe he really is a pimp. He certainly wants to benefit from other people getting screwed.


On Shaky Ground, the DCAA Steps Up Threats to Potential Government Contractors

Last we heard, the Defense Contract Audit Agency was in the doghouse. And you've got to be pretty bad at your job if you're in the auditor doghouse; just look at the PwC India auditors who screwed up a $1 billion audit or the Ernst & Young geniuses who somehow missed Lehman's pending implosion. I guess that wasn't material, whatever, I'm not an auditor so maybe I'm not qualified to make such broad, uninformed assumptions.

Let it be known: the DCAA isn't playing around with contractors anymore and the following press release reminds us all that they're serious about that:

With the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) under increasing pressure as the lead auditor for government contractors, companies competing for their first federal government contracts should be prepared to pass an audit even before winning a contract.

“DCAA can audit contractors before a contract is awarded,” noted Marcelle Green, marketing director of the DCAA Resource Center. “If a company’s accounting system doesn’t pass the DCAA audit, the contract officer can choose to award the contract to someone else. Companies that look at the time and expense of making their accounting system DCAA compliant sometimes decide not to bother until they win a government contract. Then they have to scramble to get ready for a ‘make or break’ audit.”

According to Green, “DCAA can evaluate a contractor’s financial situation to ensure the contractor is financially capable of fulfilling the contract, as well as determine if the contractor’s accounting system accumulates and allocates costs based on Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). They also want to see that the contractor has controls and policies in place to ensure the accounting system remains DCAA compliant during the life of the contract.”

Green urges companies thinking about bidding on government contracts to visit http://www.DCAAPortal.com to see what DCAA accounting involves. She also recommends they understand the differences between a DCAA audit and audits by other government agencies, such as the IRS. “A DCAA audit is pass-fail,” she said. “The auditor generally won’t help you correct deficiencies or overlook minor issues. The auditor will either conclude your accounting system is in compliance or it isn’t. Period.”

Contractors, the DCAA Resource Portal is your go-to for getting DCAA compliant.

Check out the Project on Government Oversight for a lively discussion on what, exactly, plagues the DCAA (in comments). It could be bad leadership, excessive audit work, the need for more audit work, a lack of direction, late reports, canceled reports, or any combination of the above.


Economists Suggest File-Sharing Did Not Kill the Radio Star

While Big Content has bemoaned file-sharing for as long as we've been able to snatch up hit songs without ponying up big bucks to the record industry, the London School of Economics has come out with an interesting paper that challenges that theory.

Sure record sales are down (from over $26 billion in 2000 to under $16 billion last year) but so is everything else. In a recession, entertainment is generally the first to go. When the "free" money was flowing, the debt-crippled consumer was far more likely to cash in home equity for an impressive CD collection to stuff in that Ikea entertainment center. Duh.

Ars technica has an excellent write-up on the subject:

"Downward pressure on leisure expenditure is likely to continue to increase due to rising costs of living and unemployment and drastic rises in the costs of (public) services," says the report.

Having less money for entertainment has played a huge role in the decline of items like CDs. A 2004 US Consumer Expenditure Survey showed that even spending on CDs by people who had no computer (and were therefore unlikely to download and use BitTorrent) dropped by over 40 percent from 1999 through 2004.

"Household budgets for entertainment are relatively inelastic as competition for spending on culture and entertainment increases and there are shifts in household expenditure as well," the LSE study notes.

And if file-sharing wasn't the major cause of the revenue downturn, stepping up copyright enforcement is unlikely to return the industry to those heady days.

And while it is true that many consumers have turned to illegal file sharing in bad economic times, a 2007 Journal of Political Economy study found that most downloaders would not buy that content, even if they couldn't share it.

"Downloads have an effect on sales that is statistically indistinguishable from zero," the authors flatly concluded then. "Our estimates are inconsistent with claims that file sharing is the primary reason for the decline in music sales during our study period."

The recorded music's global trade body, the IFPI, said in its 2010 annual report that the industry would "struggle to survive unless we address the fundamental problem of piracy." But according to market research group NPD, P2P use has dropped from 16 percent of all US Internet users to 9 percent over the last three years. Part of that decrease could possibly be contributed to the death of popular file-sharing service LimeWire last fall. "Limewire was so popular for music file trading, and for so long, that its closure has had a powerful and immediate effect on the number of people downloading music files from peer-to-peer services and curtailed the amount being swapped," said NPD analyst Russ Crupnick.

That won't stop Big Content from pushing an ISP kill switch that would allow ISPs to disconnect super users, which would involve some serious surveillance on their side. Who's to say those files aren't porn or movies?

That's still allowed, right?


Big 4 D-baggery Proves to Be Cannibalizing in Going Concern March Madness

My brother from another mother Caleb Newquist put together an interesting twist on March Madness over at Going Concern, pitting the top accounting firms against each other in a democratic contest over who is the coolest. As expected, there was quite a bit of dick swinging among the firms, mostly from PwC until they were pwned by everyone at Reznick Group, who even got their India arm in on the action. Go team! Astute Going Concern readers wonder how many billable hours were wasted in this pursuit but we never judge.

The Big 4, obvious favorites to come out on top, were absolutely slaughtered and tossed out early on. Without a thorough analysis of the numbers, it appears as though each firm voted against the others, except for the PwC kids who likely voted multiple times for their own firm. Oh if only we could all be so proud of our employers.

That leaves Grant Thornton with the highest seed (which got known GC troll GT Partner excited about the possibilities for an early prize) but as we know, anything can happen.

Polls close at 11:59 pm PDT on Friday, giving PwC plenty of time to rally together and smash Reznick out of spite, even if they are already out of the game.

Thank goodness it's busy season and we are all staying busy.



Steve Jobs Blocks iPhone Radiation Detection App

Many of us are aware of the risks associated with cell phone use but choose to be terminally attached to our devices anyway. One group developed an iPhone app that would measure the amount of radiation emitted from the device, a useful tool for anyone curious whether or not they'll have their brain chewed away by cancer 25 years from now.

Why would Steve Jobs personally block this app? After all, the gay cure app got approved by Apple, didn't it? And didn't it take a whole army of angry LBGT folk to get it pulled?

Via Betanews:

"After encouraging discussions with iPhone executives at Apple Cupertino headquarters, their generous compliments about our application functionality and graphic appeal weren't enough to sway the executive decision to reject tawkon from the app store," said CEO and Co-Founder of tawkon, Gil Friedlander.

Friedlander tried to appeal to Jobs in an email explaining why tawkon is a useful and constructive application, but Jobs' reply was brief, and to the point.

"No Interest."

Because of this, tawkon today has released their iOS app for Cydia, an iPhone Jailbreak.

"We believe it is every phone user's fundamental right to know the level of radiation they're exposed to, and to take precautionary measures if they see fit. tawkon makes it easy for people to use their iPhone with lower exposure to cellphone radiation," Friedlander said Wednesday.

The following video explains the "death grip," and clearly shows how iPhone, BlackBerry and Android phones emit higher levels of radiation when searching for a signal.


Psst, Paperboy...

Thursday, March 24, 2011 7 Comments

Thanks for the best two years of my life. It's been one strange trip and something tells me we're only getting warmed up.

I know
Get out the abacus and count this
A funny story with a dark twist
A target so big that you cant miss... me

Happy Anniversary, kiddo. I'd have gone batshit crazy by now without you.


TLP: Seems Like Child Abuse

republicans 2012
This is what happens when mothers tell their children that they can grow up to be president: too many children believe it and, too often, the wrong ones remember it when they grow up.

Remember Judge Roy Moore? He was the Alabama Supreme Court chief justice removed from office over the Ten Commandments monument he erected outside the state courthouse. Now, he’s about to jump into the presidential election in Iowa, GOP officials say.

Eight years after a state panel removed him from the bench over the commandments spat, and five years after he lost in the Republican primary in the Alabama governor’s race, the 64-year-old judge is preparing to launch a presidential exploratory committee and enter the Iowa fray, according to multiple Iowa GOP officials.

Judge Moore’s entry in Iowa will only intensify the feverish competition among GOP hopefuls for the state’s large bloc of evangelical voters. Unlike in 2008, when former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and then-Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback built their campaigns largely on appeals to social conservatives, no fewer than five contenders look set this time to try to win social conservatives.

The pack this time is likely to include former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain. Judge Moore could bring the field to six, causing some analysts here to predict that the social conservative bloc could be splintered, opening the way for a more middle-of-the-road GOP contender, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
And let's not forget Haley Barbour, the former lobbyist and Republican national chairman turned Mississippi governor, or real estate and television curiosity Donald Trump.

Don't Republican mothers know some other fairy tale?


You Mean to Tell Me No One Was Guarding Reagan Airport?

I get the government entourage cruising over my house at all hours of the day and night so I have to assume a plane could not even come into our airspace without an escort, something about this smells suspect. Why is the government tapping our phone calls but somehow two planes have to land themselves in DC because the one government employee on the job to watch the gates is asleep?

Via WaPo:

The control tower at Reagan National Airport went silent early Wednesday, forcing the pilots of two airliners carrying a total of 165 passengers and crew members to land on their own.

The tower, which normally is staffed by one air-traffic controller from midnight to 6 a.m., did not respond to pilot requests for landing assistance or to phone calls from controllers elsewhere in the region, who also used a “shout line,” which pipes into a loudspeaker in the tower, internal records show.


Both planes landed safely after their pilots took matters into their own hands, broadcasting their progress as they approached and landed. They also were communicating with controllers at a separate facility in the region that does not handle landings.

Oh that's right, it's the part where Ray LaHood puts in his order for MORE with the FAA.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said late Wednesday he is instructing the agency to increase controller staffing at the airport during the late shift.

“Today I directed the FAA to place two air traffic controllers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s control tower on the midnight shift,” he said in a statement. “It is not acceptable to have just one controller in the tower managing air traffic in this critical air space. I have also asked FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt to study staffing levels at other airports around the country.”

AP is reporting that the air traffic controller on duty was actually a supervisor and asleep at the time. And somehow more of these guys on our dime is a good idea?!

Given which Capital Wasteland airport this happened at, I'd have to say this must be Reagan's attempt to send us a sign from beyond the grave. The third sign of the Apocalypse will be Jelly Bellys falling from the sky.

I was only an itty bitty incendiary when Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers but what happens if the workers are too lazy even to strike and simply give up? Isn't it pretty much the same if not worse than refusing to work?


Central Bankers Make Good Liars But Dallas Fed's Richard Fisher Isn't One of Them

Lest I be accused of showing blind favor toward my favorite Fedhead, I humbly remind dear reader that I've attacked Richard Fisher too, just not as frequently as I've attacked, say, Janet Yellen. Granted it was before he was my favorite but that doesn't matter, just be clear that I'm an equal opportunity Fedbasher. If he acts up again any time soon, I will be the first to lovingly bitchslap him down. Ask Richmond Fed's Jeffrey Lacker how it feels to get smacked down by a girl, he can tell you all about it (but rumor is he still hearts Jr Deputy Accountant). On second thought, don't ask him, he might still be hurt over being dethroned as my #1 (if we're talking hair, however, he'll always be my #1, xoxo).

Anyway, the point is that if they act up, I'll be the first to point it out. I think this analysis by Karl Denninger is just wrong. No need to get pissy:

Now this is amusing:

“I would have voted against QE2, had I had the vote,” the 62-year-old bank president said at the Frankfurt Finance Summit 2011. “We’ve done a bit too much.”

Ah, but he does have the vote now. And did he use it?

Nope. Last meeting:

To promote a stronger pace of economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate, the Committee decided today to continue expanding its holdings of securities as announced in November. In particular, the Committee is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings and intends to purchase $600 billion of longer-term Treasury securities by the end of the second quarter of 2011.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Duke; Charles L. Evans; Richard W. Fisher; Narayana Kocherlakota; Charles I. Plosser; Sarah Bloom Raskin; Daniel K. Tarullo; and Janet L. Yellen.


Let's be sure we are comparing apples to apples. If anyone is against QE 2, it's Richard Fisher. Voting to continue it is not necessary an endorsement. I love dissent in the ranks as much as the next Fedbasher but there is really no point to dissenting just for the sake of dissenting. Call me if they vote for QE 3 and Fisher says hell yes, then we might have a problem.

On March 7, Fisher gave a speech at the Institute of International Bankers Annual Washington Conference that went something like this:

I do not, however, feel that further monetary accommodation will speed the process. It might well retard job creation, should it give rise to inflationary expectations or, worse, imply that, having suffered the slings and arrows of popular and political contempt as we went about doing what we did to save the financial system, we have now been compromised and become a pliant accomplice to Congress’ and the executive branch’s fiscal misfeasance. I am wary of those risks. Indeed, as a voting member of the FOMC this year, I have made clear within the meeting room and in public speeches that, barring some frightful development, I will vote against any program that might seek to extend or enlarge the substantial monetary accommodation we already have provided, just as I argued against the $600 billion extension the voters on the Committee approved last November. And I remain doubtful enough as to its efficacy that if at any time between now and June, it should prove demonstrably counterproductive, I will vote to curtail or perhaps discontinue it. As I said, the liquidity tanks are full, if not brimming over. The Fed has done its job. What is needed now is for business to be incentivized to commit that liquidity to creating American jobs. This is the task of the fiscal authorities, not the Federal Reserve.

Given that context, where exactly is this big fat lie?

Granted, he did also have the large, low-hanging central banker balls to say in the same speech:

I happen to believe one of the best outcomes of the crisis is that the Fed demonstrated the importance of a central bank keeping its word. We said we would close the numerous emergency programs we engineered once they had done their job. And we have thus far done so. Imagine that: A government agency that (a) does what it says it will do; (b) actually closes down programs once they have served their purpose; and (c) not only does not lose taxpayer money in the process but makes a profit for the Treasury from it.

But we'll leave arguing about that for another day. A comment like that doesn't necessarily make him a liar, it just makes him good at his job. Unlike NY Fed's Dudley, who can't even get through an easy discussion without making himself look like an ass.

I'll let you know if I catch him in a lie. Don't think I'm not looking just because I like the guy, all's fair in love and Fedbashing.


Thank God, CPA Exam Scores are Finally on Their Way

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 , , , 0 Comments

In case you missed the biggest issue for CPA exam candidates since the exam went computerized in 2004, I suggest you check out the following Going Concern post (comments and all) for a really long and unnecessary refresher. Thankfully I'm a big girl and can handle a little Internet bitchfight, knowing most of the vitriol was, in fact, directed at the AICPA and not at all at me, even though it may have appeared that way.

And then check out this poor bastard who ended up on JDA (twice) looking for information on his damn CPA exam scores:

Funny what a difference a week makes.

Thankfully, just as patience was wearing thin, the AICPA released 9491 FAR scores to NASBA last night.

Let the floodgates burst forth, my friends. I hope this means we can all hug it out and get back to business.


RSVP: Siege of the Federal Reserve, March 28th

For the record, JDA had no intention of attending this except to take pictures and possibly instigate incendiaries from a comfortable distance (read: munching popcorn) but since it has been rescheduled from March 24th to the 28th, I definitely will be staying home that day. Why?

I'm wholly against the Federal Reserve but also equally against protests that toss in side goals like "Arab freedom" as that tends to dilute the point of the protest in the first place. How lazy are we that we can't have a separate protest to liberate Jordan or whatever it is these organizers are trying to do?

Not to mention the fact that they started planning it just a few short weeks before the event. Please! Some of us still have jobs and things to do, I can't be cruising over to the Board at 6 in the morning on a Monday when I could be spending my time making more FRNs that will be spent before the ink has dried on the paper so I can get the full value out of them. There's no rule that says I can't be both capitalist pig and Fedbasher, duh.

I'm not sure why we would protest the Federal Reserve, the Tea Party AND Middle East tyrant governments at the Fed banks around the country but hey, this isn't my protest. My protest would be slightly more focused and would probably include instructions that involve not attempting to organize in a fashion that might be offensive to the PRIVATE property owners on whose land we are protesting. Last protest I attended at the SF Fed went well but it was on a day the bank was closed and no one suggested we keep Dirty Fed operatives from getting to work on a Monday. Had they, I might have stayed home. Does anyone else realize that this is a one way ticket to jail? I can be much more productive by spending the day holed up in my Capital Wasteland Secret Lair writing about how much of an ass Ben Bernanke is, and will not get locked up for doing so.

Here's another problem I have with this, the organizers have misspelled important destinations like San Francisco and Pittsburgh. I understand that we can't all be grammar geniuses and that's fine (I myself am a sloppy writer and admit to as much, usually between parentheses) but come on, turn on the red squiggly and at least try. It makes us all look bad when those who claim to be on the side of justice and truth do half-assed work like that.

Maybe I'm just too old for big annoying protests. Lord knows this one is annoying.

Anyway, for anyone else interested in possibly getting arrested for fucking with the Fed's large, intimidating cojones, have at it:


These protests are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the UK and all those fighting for their economic and physical freedom in the world. The United States is [in] need of a vocal and physical front; a demonstration that is too broad will fall short. Target the Federal Reserve and the Tea Party. Organize protests at the 12 Federal Reserve banks.

We are under siege by the banks and their cohorts; we are entrapped in moats of debt, and they have turned our government against us. Democracy and liberty erode in the face of their assault. Thus it seems that there is no way to break the insidious monster that slowly strangles our economy, throwing millions into the throes poverty and desperation. Class and money are irrelevant in the eyes of eternity. Stand up for your brothers and sisters who have no voice. Stand up for those who are being silenced. On March 28 we will place the great instrument of those who assault liberty, the Federal Reserve, under siege. We will not back down, and the longer we hold out, the more our ranks will swell, and the more effective we will become. Additionally, Arab leaders empowered by US dollars and equipment continue to abuse human rights and fight against the tide of change. The people of the United States cannot allow this transgression against liberty and democracy to endure. The silence of our government amounts to condoning tyranny and despots. The government does not speak for the people, and thus on March 28 we will make our voice heard. You are inspired, now be the inspiration.

Besiege these institutions in the hopes that:

The Fed Surrenders its Private Status
Quantitative Easing Is Ended
Assumes and Forgives the Debt of Homeowners in Danger of Foreclosure
Surrenders Control of the Monetary Supply
The United States Government supports with all its might revolutionaries in:
Saudi Arabia
and where ever else the cries of freedom are met with the fists of tyranny

Gather all the support you can. Reach out to friends. Spread the word. Are you Federally Disturbed by the Federal Reserve?
The Goal: multi-day protest beginning on March 28 (6 AM) that will annoy the hell out of the Federal Reserve
The Means: Place the 12 banks under siege. Allow everybody in however. Peaceful disobedience. Shenanigans. Tomfoolery. Nothing illegal. BEGIN THE SIEGE ON MONDAY MARCH 28. STRENGTH IN NUMBERS.

Locations (courtesy of the Federal Reserve): http://www.federalreserve.gov/fraddress.htm

Demonstrations will take place at each of the 12 district banks and the Board of Governors in Washington, DC:
District 1: Boston: 600 Atlantic Avenue
District 2: New York: 33 Liberty Street
District 3: Philadelphia: Ten Independence Mall
District 4: Cleveland: 1455 East Sixth Street
District 5: Richmond, VA: 701 East Byrd Street
District 6: Atlanta: 1000 Peachtree Street NE
Distrcit 7: Chicago: 230 South LaSalle Street
District 8: St Louis: One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza
Broadway and Locust Streets
District 9: Minneapolis:90 Hennepin Avenue
District 10: Kansas City, MO: 1 Memorial Drive
District 11: Dallas: 2200 North Pearl Street
District 12: San Fransisco [sic]: 101 Market Street
Board of Governors:
20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20551


If these locations are inaccessible to you, please look here for fed branches that may be closer: http://www.federalreserve.gov/branches.htm Branch locations: Cincy, Pittsburg [sic], Baltimore, Charlotte, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, Detroit, Little Rock, Louisville, Memphis, Helena, Denver, Oklahoma City, Omaha, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, LA, Portland ORE, Salt Lake City, Seattle.

Side note: I've been to the Salt Lake City branch of the SF Fed, it's nothing to write home about. Maybe tweet-worthy but that's another story.

It's obvious something needs to be done and there's nothing wrong with organizing but this certainly is NOT the way to do it (this is how you do it). Someone call me when a real protest is happening, or just come out and say hello next time I'm handing out Stop Bernanke bumper stickers and informational flyers in front of the Board in DC all on my lonesome.


The Fed Ponies Up Its Financial Statements

Fed financial statements are here, rejoice!! Check out that big motherfucking number below.

Via the Board:

The Federal Reserve System on Tuesday released the 2010 combined annual comparative financial statements for the Federal Reserve Banks, as well as for the 12 individual Federal Reserve Banks, the limited liability companies (LLCs) that were created to respond to strains in financial markets, and the Board of Governors. These financial statements are audited annually by an independent auditing firm.

Total Reserve Bank assets as of December 31, 2010, were $2.428 trillion, which represents an increase of $193 billion from the previous year. The composition of the balance sheet changed notably. Holdings of U.S. Treasury securities increased $261 billion and holdings of federal agency and government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) mortgage-backed securities (MBS) increased $86 billion. These increases were partly offset by a $96 billion decrease in loans to depository institutions and a $23 billion decrease in loans extended under the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, largely due to early repayments by borrowers.

The Reserve Banks' comprehensive income increased $28 billion over the previous year to $82 billion for the year ended December 31, 2010. The increase was primarily attributable to an increase of $24 billion in interest earnings on the federal agency and GSE MBS holdings.

The Reserve Banks transferred $79 billion of their $82 billion in comprehensive income to the U.S. Treasury in 2010, a $32 billion increase from the amount transferred in 2009.

The combined annual financial statements for the Federal Reserve Banks and the consolidated annual financial statements for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York include information about the assets and income of each of the consolidated LLCs, such as overall financial results, portfolio composition, asset quality, and asset value information. The statements also contain summaries of the associated credit and market risks for each significant holding.

The consolidated LLCs also contributed to the increase in Reserve Banks' 2010 comprehensive income, with net earnings of $8 billion for the year ended December 31, 2010, a $2 billion increase from the 2009 net earnings of $6 billion.

Who says the Fed isn't audited? Oh they are, but they're audited using their own financial accounting manual (read: the client makes up his own rules) by the idiots who have blown major audits like Bear Stearns. But there's no way there could be anything wrong with that, right?

It's cute that they feel compelled to explain this anyway:

The Board of Governors and the Federal Reserve Banks annually prepare financial statements reflecting balances (as of December 31) and income and expenses for the year then ended. The Federal Reserve Bank financial statements also include the accounts and results of operations of several limited liability companies (LLCs) that have been consolidated with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (the "consolidated LLCs").

The Board of Governors, the Federal Reserve Banks, and the consolidated LLCs are all subject to several levels of audit and review. The Reserve Banks' financial statements and those of the consolidated LLC entities are audited annually by an independent audit firm retained by the Board of Governors. To ensure auditor independence, the Board requires that the external auditor be independent in all matters relating to the audit. Specifically, the external auditor may not perform services for the Reserve Banks or others that would place it in a position of auditing its own work, making management decisions on behalf of the Reserve Banks, or in any other way impairing its audit independence. In addition, the Reserve Banks, including the consolidated LLCs, are subject to oversight by the Board.

The Board of Governors' financial statements are audited annually by an independent audit firm retained by the Board's Office of Inspector General. The audit firm also provides a report on compliance and on internal control over financial reporting in accordance with government auditing standards. The Office of Inspector General also conducts audits, reviews, and investigations relating to the Board's programs and operations as well as of Board functions delegated to the Reserve Banks.

Blah blah blah blah blah, how 'bout them financial statements? Here they are in PDF form, which I will be saving later in Scribd since we know the Fed likes to get tricky with their financial accounting manuals, those bastards.

Combined Federal Reserve Banks
Board of Governors

Reserve Banks:
Kansas City
New York
   Maiden Lane LLC
   Maiden Lane II LLC
   Maiden Lane III LLC
San Francisco
St. Louis

Analysis to follow, a girl's got a life you know.


TLP: Eyes Still on the Prize

npr funding
Guess who doesn't give a shit about federal funding for public radio? I mean, guess who doesn't give a shit now, when he's collecting on a $2 million Fox News contract instead of relying on an NPR paycheck? Like he did for 10 years.

For some reason, Juan Williams felt he had to share his thoughts in The Hill:
Even after they fired me, called me a bigot and publicly advised me to only share my thoughts with a psychiatrist, I did not call for defunding NPR. I am a journalist, and NPR is an important platform for journalism.

But last week my line of defense for NPR ran into harsh political realities. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a fundraising letter with the following argument for maintaining public funding of NPR:

“They [Republicans] know NPR plays a vital role in providing quality news programming — from rural radio stations to in-depth coverage of foreign affairs. If the Republicans had their way, we’d only be left with the likes of Glenn Beck, Limbaugh and Sarah Palin to dominate the airwaves.”

With that statement, Congressman Israel made the case better than any Republican critic that NPR is radio by and for liberal Democrats. He is openly asking liberal Democrats to give money to liberal Democrats in Congress so they can funnel federal dollars into news radio programs designed to counter and defeat conservative Republican voices.
So that's the kind of journalist Williams has become? One who unquestioningly accepts statements from politicians? Just because some douche raising money for his party says something to stir up his partisans doesn't make it true. Same way that critics of ... oh, say, Fox News ... can't be believed just because they say the network amounts to outright propaganda for Republicans.

I don't give a shit whether NPR gets federal funding or not. Fox and News Corp. gets their balls rubbed at tax time. Neither financial fact has anything to do with how either covers the news.

Doesn't seem the same can be said for Williams.


The Justice Department (Practically) Tags Bernanke as a Terrorist

JDA is probably on a couple watchlists herself (*waves*) but there is no greater terrorist than the guy who makes a career out of debasing our currency.

The following sounds like something that could have come out of Ron Paul's mouth but instead comes directly from the DoJ, who are further shirking their duties if they don't head over to the Board of Governors and arrest Zimbabwe Ben immediately.

Sovereign Man breaks it down for us:
The United States Department of Justice delivered a very clear and unfortunate message on Friday:

“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism. While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.”

These remarks were released by the US Attorney’s office in the western district of North Carolina following the conviction of one Bernard von NotHaus, the creator of the ill-fated Liberty Dollar.

As you likely recall from a few years ago, Liberty Dollars were privately minted gold and silver rounds. Paper certificates, akin to warehouse receipts were also issued, effectively giving the bearer a right to claim a certain amount of gold or silver at the group’s warehouse in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

This is traditionally how the system of money used to function– precious metals would be stored in private, secure storage facilities, and paper certificates were issued as a medium of exchange that entitled the bearer to redeem metal from the vault. Liberty Dollars represented a return to that system.

Clearly, the Justice Department feels otherwise… instead viewing these silver rounds as an attempt by terrorists to undermine the US dollar.

Interesting choice of words. Undermine? “verb [transitive]. to erode the base or foundation of something. to damage or weaken, especially gradually. ”

Funny, this sounds a lot more like quantitative easing than anything else. Ben Bernanke, in creating trillions of new dollars and debasing the value thereof, is guilty of the same insidious acts, and similarly, he represents a clear and present danger to the economic stability of the United States.

In Bernanke's mind, he is a hero. A student of the Great Depression, Bernanke likely feels that he has done America and the world some great service by swooping in and injecting free money as far as the eye can see. The inaction on the part of the GD-era Federal Reserve was a favorite focus of his when he buried his bearded face in GD textbooks to prepare for his future as overseer of the Second Great Depression 2008 - present.

To the rest of us who know better, he is a terrorist. And it really shouldn't take clarification by the DoJ to figure that out.