Defunct Colonial Bank Sues The Sh*t Out of Its Former Auditors, Including PwC


A-ha! I hate to say I told you so (no I don't) but, uh, I told you so.

In August of 2009, I caught PwC digging around on my site to find out more about the Colonial Bank failure, a failure which PwC itself oversaw and maybe just participated in (if indirectly, naturally). The year before Colonial's epic failure, PwC auditors gave the bank the all clear.

"In our opinion, the consolidated financial statements listed in the accompanying index present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of The Colonial BancGroup, Inc. and its subsidiaries at December 31, 2008 and 2007 and the results of their operations and their cash flows for each of the three years in the period ended December 31, 2008 in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America," read the opinion.

Anyway, fast-forward two years and here we are:

Colonial Bancgroup Inc (CBCDQ.PK) and its trustee filed a lawsuit against former auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC and Crowe Horwath LLP, charging them with accounting malpractice and professional negligence for not catching a fraud that led to the bank's collapse.

The complaint was filed late on Wednesday in a Circuit Court in Montgomery County, Alabama.

It also accuses the auditors of breach of contract, saying that PwC's independent audits of its financial statements violated generally accepted accounting standards and served to conceal the seven-year fraud that drained it of $1.8 billion and left it with hundreds of millions of dollars in worthless or nonexistent assets on its balance sheet.

Can someone please tell me why the fuck the PCAOB still has a job with this nonsense going on? Why the fuck does PwC make $13 billion a year soaking its clients on audit fees? And why aren't the people of the United States suing the shit out of these auditors too? Colonial was the 6th largest bank failure in U.S. history and cost taxpayers $3.8 billion.

Anyone else find it funny how they call the audit service arm "Assurance?" It has nothing to do with discovering fraud or giving investors actual peace of mind that the statements they are looking at are, in fact, prepared in accordance with GAAP. Rather it is a mafia-style pay-to-play protection ring that offers clean audit opinions in exchange for cash.

Vomit. All over Dennis Nally's impeccably polished shoes.

TLP: Dick Cheney's Dream Job

cheney paperboy
OK, maybe it was more of a coma than a dream, but still.

David Weigel discusses it in Slate:
I haven't yet read In My Time -- hey, I'm still slogging through Mondale's autobiography -- but I trust Charlie Savage when he says Dick Cheney's memoir ends with scenes like this.

[I]n the epilogue, Mr. Cheney writes that after undergoing heart surgery in 2010, he was unconscious for weeks. During that period, he wrote, he had a prolonged, vivid dream that he was living in an Italian villa, pacing the stone paths to get coffee and newspapers.
This is a guy who made gazillions in the oil bidness, picked himself for vice president and had his own secure undisclosed location. Pretty excellent. And when they were trying to keep his evil heart from killing him, all he wanted to be was a lazy paperboy.

Sorry. That position is filled.

Jr Deputy Accountant's Handy Hurricane Survival Guide

The JDA Hurricane Survival Kit is ready!


I have to admit, I have no fucking clue what to do in a hurricane. I grew up in the Midwest so, you know, tornadoes are more my thing and in the case of a bad twister, you just run your ass into the basement to wait it out. And since I've lived in California my entire adult life, the worst I had to deal with was constant rain 6 months out of the year every year and a few earthquakes.

Now that I've been in DC for almost a year, I'm getting used to dealing with all sorts of ungodly weather events such as 90% humidity (tip: Garnier makes a bad ass product called Anti-Humidity Milk for angry hair), blizzards and thunderstorms. But a hurricane? Christ almighty, this was not in the brochure.

Anyway, here are a few tips based on my experience last winter with no power for three days (thanks, Pepco!).

1. Take a shower. Early. You better get your dirty ass in the shower and make it long and hard (the shower, I mean, not yourself, sicko). And don't forget to shave! Know how your mom always told you to wear clean underwear in case you get in a car accident? The same rule applies here. Trust me, you don't want to end up the hairy bushman waiting in the dark for the power to come back on, trying to shave your wild nether regions by candlelight with a bottle of water and some pump soap.

2. Clean your house. There is nothing more rank than 4 days worth of dirty dishes sitting in a sink because you don't have hot water to wash them with. I made this mistake last winter and finally had to give in and wash them in cold ass water in my cold ass house. So while you're glued to The Weather Channel, just take a moment to clean up, throw in some laundry, vacuum, whatever. Trust me, you'll appreciate a clean house when the shit hits the fan. Or your windows.

3. Remember, alcohol dehydrates you, so if your disaster plan includes booze, compensate with extra water. If you're anything like me, your disaster kit includes lots and lots of alcohol. Make sure to store extra water so you can replenish after that awesome, late night hurricane bender. And here's a tip: store a bottle of vodka in the freezer so you don't have to drink warm vodka lemonades using Gatorade stored in your cabinets. You're welcome.

4. Have extra batteries! Listen, if the power goes out, you're going to get really, really bored. You can only watch trees blowing around outside for so long before you get stir crazy. So make sure you have extra batteries on hand... for the flashlight, for the iPod dock and, most importantly, for any battery-operated adult novelty toys you may have stashed away in your nightstand. Listen, I said it is going to be boring, don't get stuck having to rub one out manually in a disaster.

5. Make sure you have enough prescription medicine if you need it. This is especially true if you are in a medical marijuana state and have a card. Seriously. You can never have too much.

Stay safe out there this weekend, kids. As long as I have BlackBerry juice, I'm sure I'll be live-tweeting updates from the DC hood.

Wall Street Got About As Much Free Money From Bernanke As America Currently Owes On Its Houses



No shit. This is from Bloomberg:

Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) were the reigning champions of finance in 2006 as home prices peaked, leading the 10 biggest U.S. banks and brokerage firms to their best year ever with $104 billion of profits.

By 2008, the housing market’s collapse forced those companies to take more than six times as much, $669 billion, in emergency loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The loans dwarfed the $160 billion in public bailouts the top 10 got from the U.S. Treasury, yet until now the full amounts have remained secret.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s unprecedented effort to keep the economy from plunging into depression included lending banks and other companies as much as $1.2 trillion of public money, about the same amount U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million delinquent and foreclosed mortgages. The largest borrower, Morgan Stanley (MS), got as much as $107.3 billion, while Citigroup took $99.5 billion and Bank of America $91.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg News compilation of data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, months of litigation and an act of Congress.

Remember, these are the loans the Fed did not want America to know it made. Just sayin.

Check Out These Bad Ass White House Snipers

Ready to shoot the DC earthquake right between the eyes.

TLP: Jon Huntsman Just Gave Up

huntsman out
No real votes have been cast yet for any 2012 candidates. (Sorry, Iowa. Hope you enjoyed the funnel cake.) But already, the presidential campaign is over for Jon Huntsman. Wait, who?

AP and HuffPost:
Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman says he'd be open to running as vice president if rival and tea party favorite Michele Bachmann wins the nomination.

The former ambassador to China and ex-Utah governor says that every time he's been asked to serve his country he's answered "yes." Huntsman tells CNN interviewer Piers Morgan that if asked by the Minnesota congresswoman to run as her vice president he'd "be the first person to sign up, absolutely."

Huntsman tried quickly to backtrack, saying the answer was based on a hypothetical question and that he has no doubt he'll win the GOP nomination. The interview was aired Monday night.
Not only was it a hypothetical question, apparently Huntsman felt the actual interview was make-believe. "This is a hypothetical conversation," he said, realizing he was doomed. "We're going to win. And I have no doubt about that."

Mmmhmm.




Was There a Bomb Involved in 9/11 I Didn't Know About?




CNN had an article yesterday about PTSD and how it affected East Coasters traumatized by 9/11 who survived yesterday's 5.9 earthquake in Virginia and beyond. I was in San Francisco on 9/11/01 so I can't really say that I was traumatized in the same way, but it was interesting to hear how others took the loud, frightening rumble that came moments before the walls started rattling. Oddly, I tweeted afterward that I thought a plane had crashed outside. Being so close to the center of government, I imagined I'd find some mangled government helicopter half-inserted into the pavement and spewing flames everywhere.

Maybe I don't have my 9/11 facts down right but to what bomb could this person be referring? I know it was 10 years ago and my mind isn't what it once was at a ripe old 20 but I don't recall there being any bomb. Unless you're a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and believe, like many do, that much of what we saw that day was a controlled demolition.

Anyway. CNN:

People who lived through the attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington most likely have a low level of fear and anxiety that generally stays in the back of their psychological experience, but can be triggered, said Nadine Kaslow, professor of psychiatry at Emory University School of Medicine.

For some, a sudden traumatic event such as Tuesday’s earthquake can be a trigger of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, although usually not the full-blown condition. They may feel panic, anxiety and fear, and even upsetting memories of past trauma.

“I guess I was frightened. I’m not a scaredy-cat or anything. I didn’t think of an earthquake. I really thought something happened again,” Rea said.

Rea darted out of her chair and looked across the street to the police academy to see the reaction there. When she saw no activity, she calmed down.

She tweeted later: “For the people laughing at ny'ers b/c it was a small quake – you weren't here for 9/11 and didn't know if this was another bomb.”

Again, another bomb?

What was that we said about "never forget?" Or was that just a careless slip that the 9/11 Commission wished hadn't been made?

Much to Ben Bernanke's Chagrin, JDA Survived the Great DC Earthquake

Just in case you're worried, I'm happy to report that kitties and I survived the great DC earthquake of 2011. I was at work when it hit and very nearly pissed myself. As many of you know, I spent over ten years in San Francisco so I'm no stranger to earth-shaking events but I have to say I never experienced anything like that in my life - I thought a plane crashed into my office and went running outside like an idiot. Hint: don't do that.

Here are some pics of the damage at my condo for your viewing pleasure!

 Oh God! My poor Zumba fitness game!!

In fairness to the DC quake, this vase could have been tipped over by one of the cats. No, fuck that, it most likely was tipped over by one of my fucking cats. The young one. That inconsiderate bastard.

Why the fuck is this painting on the floor?!

Noooooo! Not my jam box remote!!!

Stay safe out there, kids, the aftershocks are coming.


This Might Be Depressing: Ron Paul In a Dead Heat With Obama Says Gallup Poll



I'm not sure how to take this news.

From Ron Paul 2012:

Many people believe that such a thorough constitutionalist is far too pure to ever become president. Gallup says they’re wrong:

“President Barack Obama is closely matched against each of four possible Republican opponents when registered voters are asked whom they would support if the 2012 presidential election were held today. Mitt Romney leads Obama by two percentage points, 48% to 46%, Rick Perry and Obama are tied at 47%, and Obama edges out Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann by two and four points, respectively.”

Among registered voters, Paul receives 45% to Obama’s 47%. Among national adults, Paul gets 44% to Obama’s 45%. These numbers essentially show statistical dead heats between President Obama and Paul, and the same is true of the other Republican candidates mentioned.

Don't get incensed if the media doesn't give half a rat's ass about Ron Paul, you're foolish if you believe their official duty is to report reality.

Watch this video of Candy Crowley going in for the kill to see what I mean (email subscribers can watch on YouTube here):

TLP: Ron Paul Supporter Has Sexy Thoughts About Rick Perry

perry paul
Here's one way for Ron Paul's supporters to get more media attention for his presidential campaign. You know, the campaign that they complain reporters are ignoring. Maybe you've heard about it.

The Huffington Post:
A full-page ad paid for by a supporter of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul in the Austin Chronicle asks, "Have you ever had sex with Rick Perry?"

The eyebrow-raising message comes less than one week after the Texas governor announced his candidacy for president of the United States. Justin Elliot at Salon calls attention to the ad in the newsweekly and notes that there is no evidence that Perry has engaged in an extramarital affair.

Text in the ad reads, "Are you a stripper, an escort, or just a 'young hottie' impressed by an arrogant, entitled governor of Texas? Contact CASH [Committee Against Sexual Hypocrisy], and we will help you publicize your direct dealings with a Christian-buzzwords-spouting, 'family values' hypocrite and fraud."
Gets attention, that's for sure. As does the gay innuendo, none of which is new for Perry to have to deal with.

Maybe it wasn't so smart for Perry to start his campaign with "ugly" talk about Ben Bernanke. If there's anything that Ron Paul can count on getting attention for, it's riding that pony.

The DoJ Goes After S&P, Not At All Coincidentally




But don't you dare call it retaliation. More like calculated misfeasance:

The Justice Department is investigating whether the nation’s largest credit ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, improperly rated dozens of mortgage securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis, according to two people interviewed by the government and another briefed on such interviews.

The investigation began before Standard & Poor’s cut the United States’ AAA credit rating this month, but it is likely to add fuel to the political firestorm that has surrounded that action. Lawmakers and some administration officials have since questioned the agency’s secretive process, its credibility and the competence of its analysts, claiming to have found an error in its debt calculations.

Right.

The government didn't seem to care much when S&P was giving Grade A Awesome to Grade B Bullshit.

Survey: 75% of Americans Don't Give a F*** What Happens to Mailmen

cat in a mailbox will fuck you up


Rasmussen Reports asked 1,000 Americans how they feel about the Postal Service...if you are a postal worker, you might want to look away.

Personally, I have to say I love my DC hood mailmen and postal workers. One tried to talk me out of getting any more tattoos as I was buying a money order. That's service!

Anyway, Courier, Express, and Postal Observer has the actual numbers from the survey:


1) How closely have you followed recent stories about the US postal service?

* 28% Following very closely
* 43% Following but not very closely
* 29% Not following [iinferred from press release]

2) The US Postal Service lost about $8 billion last year and wants to lay off about 120,000 workers over the next few years. Congressional approval is required for any such changes. Should the federal government provide subsidies to cover the postal service’s losses or should it allow the postal service to lay off 120,000 postal workers?

* 50% Preferred laying off postal employees
* 33% Preferred subsidies of losses
* 17% Undecided

3) Postal Service employees are covered by a federal employees benefits health insurance and retirement benefits program. The Postal Service wants to withdraw from the federal benefits plan, run its own program, and offer its employees fewer benefits. If it means providing employees with lower benefits, should the Postal Service be allowed to run its own benefits program?

* 56% Supported the USPS running its own benefit plans if it means providing employees with lower benefits
* 27% Opposed having the USPS running its own benefit plans if it means providing employees with lower benefits
* 16% Undecided

4) One way to reduce the Postal Service losses would be to reduce mail delivery in some parts of the country to just three or four days a week. If you had a choice, would you rather see the federal government cover the cost of Postal Service losses or cut back mail services in some parts of the country to three or four days a week?

* 75% Prefer cut back in mail service in some parts of the country to three or four days a week
* 17% Prefer subsidies to maintain services
* 8% undecided

The takeaway I got from this was that America doesn't give a fuck what happens to mailmen. Three to four days of the shit is fine for us, thankyouverymuch.

I don't know about you all but the whole mail thing has gotten tedious. All this bullshit junk mail comes between weird written notices that somehow have to accompany emails that say the same thing. Kill it. So it makes sense that America would be fine with 3 - 4 days a week.

Half of them don't care if postal workers' benefits are cut.

Another half of them would prefer 120,000 postal workers lose their jobs than for Congress to give the USPS money to prevent having to make those cuts.

That tells you something about where America is at with all that.

TLP: Bono May Have Found What He Was Looking for – on Facebook

bono investments
It wasn't that long ago that Bono was being mocked as "the worst investor in America" for the stake Elevation Partners took in Palm. The rap was that Palm was a loser in the smartphone market dominated by iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices.

Things are better now for Bono the investor and he probably doesn't care what kind of smartphone you use, as long as you "Like" Facebook. Forever.

Guardian:
U2 frontman Bono's investment firm could be looking at a profit of almost $800m on its stake in Facebook, it has emerged.

The social networking site has just been valued at an eye-popping $65bn - up from $50bn in January - following the sale of a stake by advertising and marketing giant Interpublic Group.

Interpublic was an early investor in Facebook and has just sold half of its 0.4% share in the group for $133m (£81m), valuing the site at more than $65bn.

This values the U2's Elevation Partners' stake at $975m - more than four times the $210m it paid in November 2009. ...

Facebook is now one of Elevation's stellar investments. When it bought the stock - which is difficult to get hold of - the company was hot but worth a relatively "meagre" $9bn.
Turns out too much is not enough.

Rick Perry Would Still Kick Bernanke's Ass



That's a comforting thought:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry on Tuesday didn’t run from comments he made in Iowa on Monday about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, despite criticism from across the political spectrum.

“Look, I’m just passionate about the issue,” the Texas governor told the New York Times on Tuesday, “and we stand by what we said.”

Remember when Bernanke was banned from going to China? My how things change.


I'm surprised we don't treat him ugly here in DC, personally.

The Brits Make An Example Out of Looters


They are NOT fucking around.

The Guardian:

In Manchester a mother of two, Ursula Nevin, was jailed for five months for receiving a pair of shorts given to her after they had been looted from a city centre store. In Brixton, south London, a 23-year-old student was jailed for six months for stealing £3.50 worth of water bottles from a supermarket.

The Crown Prosecution Service also issued guidance to prosecutors on Monday, effectively calling for juveniles found guilty of riot-related crimes to be named and shamed. Those dealt with in youth courts are normally not identified. The youngest suspects bought before the courts last week in connection with the riots were an 11-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy.

That is not a joke.

Meanwhile, a 16-year-old is charged with killing a guy:

A 16-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of an Ealing pensioner who was attacked as he tried to stamp out a fire during the London riots. Richard Mannington Bowes, 68, died in hospital just before midnight on Thursday after he was attacked in Spring Bridge Road in Ealing, west London, during last Monday's unrest.

The teenager has also been charged with violent disorder and four separate burglaries of commercial premises, and his mother has been charged with perverting the course of justice.

Again, they are not playing around.

How about this interview with West Indian writer and broadcaster Darcus Howe on BBC? He gets completely destroyed by the woman asking him questions when he dares to suggest the "youths" were pushed to react this way based on government behavior.


Remember how it started.

Or there's always James Madison to the Virginia Convention to ratify the Constitution June 6, 1788:

Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations; but, on a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced factions and commotions, which, in republics, have, more frequently than any other cause, produced despotism. If we go over the whole history of ancient and modern republics, we shall find their destruction to have generally resulted from those causes.

Is this making sense to all of you yet?

13 Year Old Rapist's Mother Blames The Government For Her Son's Behavior



Oh, and she has 10 other kids and is on government assistance:

His mother, sitting beside the boy's father, wiped tears from her eyes as the court was told she handed him in after seeing wanted photos of her son being circulated by Greater Manchester Police.

She is on benefits, does not live with the boy's father and has 10 other children, the court heard.

Outside court she told reporters she was "ashamed" of her son.

"I didn't know he was in the riot. I went out to look for him. It's wrong I'm ashamed of him," she said.

But the woman also suggested her son was not entirely at fault, when asked who she blamed for the looting.

"The government," she replied, her son by her side, adding: "There is ---- all for them to do."

The video is classic:







Richmond Fed's Lacker: Monetary Policy Has Done What It Can


Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker has switched back to diesel from unleaded, apparently.

In a recent interview with Market News International, Lacker refused to say whether QE 3 was a hot topic of conversation at the FOMC's last meeting but did note in typical cryptic Fedhead fashion that the new "forward guidance" could have been something of a compromise between the easy money whores and the hawks. "[To some extent this is the first step one would take if one were going to take a step," he said. Right.

Lacker warned that the Fed is courting increased inflation with its extraordinarily stimulative monetary policies.

And he expressed strong opposition to proposals that the Fed deliberately allow inflation to run well above its implicit 1.7% to 2.0% target for a time in an effort to spur economic growth.

Lacker, who will be an FOMC voter next year, declined to say whether or to what extent the FOMC discussed QE3 last Tuesday.

Lacker said he has become less optimistic about the economic outlook than he was a few months ago, but said he does not see the United States heading back into recession and suggested the inflation risks are to the upside, not the downside.

When they asked him how he feels about this whole extended period/2013 nonsense, he replied in old school Lacker fashion "it doesn’t strike me that more monetary stimulus is what this economy needs." Be still my cold black Fedbashing heart.

"I didn’t think it was warranted," he said. "For me, I think monetary policy has done what it can."

Could it be? Is Lacker fluffing himself for a bad ass 2012 voting year? Has he broken the grip of the unicorn piss his coffee has been dosed with for the last year or two?

We can only hope.


The Government Goes to War Against the Internet, We've Already Lost



Evgeny Morozov writes via WSJ:

Does the Internet really need an overhaul of norms, laws and technologies that gives more control to governments? When the Egyptian secret police can purchase Western technology that allows them to eavesdrop on the Skype calls of dissidents, it seems unlikely that American and European intelligence agencies have no means of listening the calls of, say, a loner in Norway.

We tolerate such drastic proposals only because acts of terror briefly deprive us of the ability to think straight. We are also distracted by the universal tendency to imagine technology as a liberating force; it keeps us from noticing that governments already have more power than is healthy.

I wasn't in London but what I took away from "news reports" was that we already somehow determined that this was a roving bunch of Gen Zers after electronics, BBMing their strategic plans as they went from shoe store to computer store. How is it possible that we figured that out already?

Let me tell you a story I've probably already told some of you before. I once had a roommate from Shanghai and we'd talk about the differences between America and China on our tiny ass kitchen table. One night, I made some uninformed comment about their state-run media and she wisely quipped "your media is run by the state too, except they don't tell you."

She didn't need to be here longer than 3 months to figure that out. Many of us have lived here forever and don't get that, getting into a lather over Fox News' sketchy conservative bent or MSBNC's annoying ass, snarky Rachel Maddow clones. Who gives a fuck? It's fake, get over it. Those people are staged to either placate or enrage you, depending on which channel agrees with your views (which are either one or the other but never allowed to be somewhere in between).

So whomever "caused" the London Riots, and for whatever reason, many people seem in agreement with the idea that it was item-starving, consumer whore 11 and 12 year olds. Is that accidental?

Don't think they don't understand how powerful the Internet is. Why else would they buy all these fake identities? Afghanistan? How many of those motherfuckers have computers?

How many of us do?

China has it right, at least they pay 280,000 of their own people to troll the Internet.

Fed Dissenters Just Don't Do It Like They Used To




Once upon a time not too long ago, a Fedbasher like me had to strong-arm a hoe... sorry. Two years ago, I said to leave the Federal Reserve alone and I was serious. Richard Fisher was talking shit about people back then, which made him totally endearing (I hope you didn't think I was into the Murrays pomade) but I'm kind of disturbed by the rallying together at this point.

Not what I paid for. Maybe there is some contractual or moral obligation not to rip on the Fed chairman when the dude is swirling down the drain but I liked it better when they were bitchfighting amongst themselves.

Bloomberg:

Kocherlakota and Fisher joined Charles Plosser of the Philadelphia Fed in posing the most opposition to a FOMC decision in almost 19 years. They took issue with the FOMC’s pledge to hold interest rates near zero at least until mid-2013, preferring instead to maintain a commitment to do so for an unspecified “extended period.”

“I think very highly of Ben, admire him, appreciate his style, find him totally honest and inclusive, and also respectful of others’ principles and views,” Fisher, president of the Dallas Fed, wrote in response to an e-mail from the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal published the statements by Fisher and Kocherlakota during the blackout period which typically follows FOMC meetings. Minneapolis Fed spokeswoman Patti Lorenzen and Alexander Johnson, a spokesman at the Dallas Fed, said the comments about Bernanke didn’t violate the blackout because they did not pertain to macroeconomic developments or monetary policy issues.

In Dissents Pose New Test for Bernanke, the Journal explains how Minneapolis Fed's Narayana Kocherlakota and Philly's Chuck Plosser handled this situation:

Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Minneapolis Fed, echoed Mr. Fisher's praise for the "outstanding chairman," noting in a brief written response to a question from The Wall Street Journal about Mr. Bernanke's leadership that he "actively cultivates the expression of disparate views, and that dialogue leads to better monetary policy choices for the United States." He also didn't comment on the meeting, but said that while he dissented "on this occasion," he has high regard for his Fed colleagues.

The third dissenter, Charles Plosser, president of the Philadelphia Fed, declined to comment.

God forbid one of them have the balls to come out and call Bernanke a bitch in public. It's a thoughtful tactic for distancing themselves from the consequences of "until 2013" but we all saw what they did there. You can't praise your fearless leader in public to cover up trashing his policies behind closed doors to please everyone.

I, for one, am horribly disappointed.

TLP: Who Delivers the Pink Slip When You Fire a Mailman?

postal jobs
It's no surprise the U.S. Postal Service is in for a major overhaul. Falling into an $8 billion hole isn't an easy fix. Congress isn't happy. Customers complain about poor service. And basic Postal Service tasks, like selling stamps, get fucked up. So, here we go.

AP via HuffPost:
The financially strapped U.S. Postal Service is considering cutting as many as 120,000 jobs.

Facing a second year of losses totaling $8 billion or more, the agency also wants to pull its workers out of the retirement and health benefits plans covering federal workers and set up its own benefit systems.

Congressional approval would be needed for either step, and both could be expected to face severe opposition from postal unions which have contracts that ban layoffs.

The post office has cut 110,000 jobs over the last four years and is currently engaged in eliminating 7,500 administrative staff. In its 2010 annual report, the agency said it had 583,908 career employees.

The loss of mail to the Internet and the decline in advertising caused by the recession have rocked the agency.
What impact will a 20 percent cut in jobs have on the mail? Rate hikes for stamps have failed. And the Postal Service is already issuing new stamps at a pace of more than one a week. Do even stamp collectors want that many stamps? And did we mention service issues?

But there's a bright spot for the soon-to-be-jobless.

USA TODAY:
An ambitious effort to create 100,000 U.S. customer service representative jobs by 2013 will be launched today by a coalition of high-tech firms and customer service companies.

Jobs4America, a newly formed group that includes Sprint Nextel, XO Communications, the American Teleservices Association and third-party customer service providers such as Accent Marketing Services, Aegis Global and Novo 1, hopes to expand call center and customer service representative jobs that have been outsourced in recent years to lower-wage providers in India, the Philippines and Jamaica.
Look at that. There's 100,000 jobs right there. Almost makes up for the coming USPS layoffs. Yours for the taking, mailmen. If you think you can handle customer service.

The Natives are Restless


pic credit: Emma LB via Flickr


First, a video from London (short version: guys help beaten up kid off the ground only to steal from him):


Then news that courts are open 24 hours to "process looters." Of them, a 12-year-old caught stealing wine and an 11-year-old who admits to breaking windows.

And an actual account from the Post:
I walked the length of Tottenham’s High Road on Wednesday, as demolition crews removed what was left of the large carpet store burned to ash on Saturday. I listened to Mohammed Abdi, a Somali-born cellphone store owner whose life’s work was destroyed that night. “It took an age to build this business — and now I have nothing,” he told me. The local member of Parliament, David Lammy, was doing his best to hug and reassure those whose neighborhood was ravaged. “The consumerist and materialist nature of it is new,” he said. “And it’s of this generation.”

The methods are new, too: using instant-messaging technology to assemble a crowd; diverting police to one place by, say, burning a car; and then, once law enforcement is safely distracted, starting looting in another. The fact that police officers cannot be everywhere at once has proved their Achilles heel, making them all but powerless. The short-term remedy has been to triple the number of police on duty in London, which restored calm here Tuesday night but which is no more a long-term solution than the pleas for BlackBerry to turn off its instant-messenger system. One Tottenham resident warned Wednesday that the rest of the world should brace for the spread of this new “social criminality.”

How do we know that they used BBM and instant-messaging, presuming that though courts are open 24 hours, they haven't had enough cases processed to make that bold of a determination?

Of course there will always be assholes who show up in an obnoxious shirt or otherwise hijack someone else's movement for their own personal gain (see dickheads in the video above). But I refuse to believe that the "youths" simply rose up for the hell of it because they wanted new shoes.

Asking BlackBerry to cut off BBM for the state's sake is a disturbing over-reach of authority, riots or not. PM David Cameron would like to figure out a way to block the restless natives from social media (the great mobilizer of angry mobs or fed up populations who've finally caught on to the scam) when the state decides the sheep are using it to plot violence, disorder and criminality.

On Thursday, Cameron told British lawmakers that the free flow of information can be used for good, but can also be used for ill.

"And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them," Cameron said. "So we are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."

Time to up the dose in the water supply, the subjects are assembling pitchforks!

Someone Is Going to Investigate the S&P Downgrade. Like Everybody.



Tim Geithner may be sticking around but I bet you his explosive diarrhea is destroying his gold-plated toilet seats right about now. It's got to be hard rallying his friends to buy up record-low Treasurys to make it look like we've still got debt worth buying.

Reuters:

Standard & Poor's, whose unprecedented downgrade of U.S. debt triggered a worldwide stocks sell-off, is pushing back against a U.S. government proposal that would require credit raters to disclose "significant errors" in how they calculate their ratings.

S&P, which was accused by the Obama administration of making an error in its calculations leading to Friday's downgrade, raised concern about the proposed new corrections policy and other issues in an 84-page letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, dated August 8.

The SEC is weighing sweeping new rules designed to improve the quality of ratings after their poor performance in the financial crisis.

The 517-page proposal includes a requirement that ratings agencies post on their websites when a "significant error" is identified in their methodology for a credit rating action.
But under the 5-year-old Credit Rating Agency Reform Act, the SEC could technically start looking into S&P, find some moron there who dumped a bunch of Treasurys ahead of its downgrade of the U.S. credit rating and pull S&P's license to judge the creditworthiness of other entities. The SEC could also come down on S&P if they discovered hedge funds, banks or other third parties were given any sort of heads up before the decision.

Given the SEC's new-found interest in social media and how investor information is disseminated, you can bet they've put down the porn for tonight and are scouring Twitter as we speak.

But wait, that's not all! This clusterfuck wouldn't be complete without a Congressional committee investigation.

MW:

The downgrade has been met by fury from the Obama administration, which said it discovered a $2 trillion error in S&P’s analysis of the budget situation over 10 years, but was unable to stop the agency from going ahead with the downgrade.

The Senate Banking Committee is gathering information and looking into S&P’s downgrade, according to a committee aide. Regulatory observers say the committee will likely bring S&P officials to testify before the panel and seek to have documents disclosed revealing more details about the process leading up to the downgrade.

“They want to establish a clear picture of what happened, the process and what considerations were made and how the final decision was made,” [Consumer Federation of America director Barbara] Roper said.

Uh huh. Is that what they are trying to do? I thought it was just some sort of bitchfight pettiness as a result of our credit rating getting downgraded. Silly JDA.

The FOMC Finally Gives Us a Date



Oh dear.

First, peep the Fed statement released this afternoon:

Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June indicates that economic growth so far this year has been considerably slower than the Committee had expected. Indicators suggest a deterioration in overall labor market conditions in recent months, and the unemployment rate has moved up. Household spending has flattened out, investment in nonresidential structures is still weak, and the housing sector remains depressed. However, business investment in equipment and software continues to expand. Temporary factors, including the damping effect of higher food and energy prices on consumer purchasing power and spending as well as supply chain disruptions associated with the tragic events in Japan, appear to account for only some of the recent weakness in economic activity. Inflation picked up earlier in the year, mainly reflecting higher prices for some commodities and imported goods, as well as the supply chain disruptions. More recently, inflation has moderated as prices of energy and some commodities have declined from their earlier peaks. Longer-term inflation expectations have remained stable.

Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability. The Committee now expects a somewhat slower pace of recovery over coming quarters than it did at the time of the previous meeting and anticipates that the unemployment rate will decline only gradually toward levels that the Committee judges to be consistent with its dual mandate. Moreover, downside risks to the economic outlook have increased. The Committee also anticipates that inflation will settle, over coming quarters, at levels at or below those consistent with the Committee's dual mandate as the effects of past energy and other commodity price increases dissipate further. However, the Committee will continue to pay close attention to the evolution of inflation and inflation expectations.

To promote the ongoing economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at levels consistent with its mandate, the Committee decided today to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent. The Committee currently anticipates that economic conditions--including low rates of resource utilization and a subdued outlook for inflation over the medium run--are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate at least through mid-2013. The Committee also will maintain its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its securities holdings. The Committee will regularly review the size and composition of its securities holdings and is prepared to adjust those holdings as appropriate.

That's the first time they've actually put a date to their commitment to cheap, easy money are far as the eye can see, which is either really disconcerting or exactly what markets need. Thank God they didn't come out and say they were ready with the helicopter to initiate QE 3, so I guess we should be grateful for the small things.

Here's the notable part, Bernanke, Dudley, Duke, Evans, Bloom Raskin, Tarullo and Yellen voted for the language. But JDA's #1 Richard Fisher, Minneapolis' Kocherlakota and Philly's Plosser voted against it, stating they would have preferred to continue to describe economic conditions as likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period.

Here's the deal, we all know what "extended period" means, there's no need to be explicit about it. Can anyone say desperate?!


TLP: New Hampshire Favors Drunk-Driving For Prius Owners Over Disabled Motorists

liquor store parking
In just the latest example of why state-run liquor stores are a bad idea, New Hampshire has sparked a fight over who should get preferred parking on booze runs: disabled motorists or the drivers of environmentally superior vehicles.

The Telegraph:
William O’Brien, the speaker of the N.H. House, and some of his Republican cohorts, including Nashua Rep. Peter Silva, are complaining that the green spaces are directly in front of the liquor store while the handicapped spaces are more toward the side. They asked the Liquor Commission to change the parking scheme.

Joseph Mollica, chairman of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, said the handicapped spaces were placed halfway between the separate entrances for the public restrooms and the liquor store.

“We felt that the handicapped customers that come to the store would be better served being closer to the bathrooms,” he said. “As retailers, we realized the importance of making it convenient if people need to use the facilities.

“It was designed in a way to keep all our guests happy.”

Critics accused O’Brien and other House Republicans of feigning interest in the issue to get attention.

“If the speaker and Representative Silva actually care about people with disabilities, they have a terrible way of showing it,” said Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

“They both supported a budget that cuts millions in services for our most vulnerable citizens, including people with disabilities.”
Which just goes to show people will fight over anything if they see a political gain in it. What does any of it have to do with getting the good people of New Hampshire properly liquored up so they can deal with finding asshat presidential candidates on their front porches from now until the primary?

Here's an idea: get out of the business altogether and let private liquor merchants figure out the best way to serve their customers. What the fuck, maybe they'll do something smart and open a drive-through store.

The TSA Robs You To Run a Thrift Store



So that's what happened to my pink bullet belt, countless half-full bottles of Coke and the 4 oz. bottles of rank coconut cookie body spray I tried to smuggle in my carry-on.

This comes from Natural News:
If you have ever wondered what happens to the countless barrels of personal items that the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) confiscates (steals) from air travelers every single day, you might be surprised to know that state governments are now reselling these supposedly "dangerous" items in government surplus stores for extra revenue.

According to a recent article in the Austin American-Statesman, Texas state surplus stores are reaping hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue every year for the state by selling travelers' "legally" stolen goods.

Formerly reserved for legitimate surplus items, state surplus stores in Texas are making a killing on the thousands of new "security threat" items being stolen by the TSA, which is, of course, the result of artificially-generated government paranoia. So harmless personal items like snow globes, for instance, are now in great supply at the surplus stores because they contain more than the three ounces of liquid permitted by the TSA.

As the Statesman originally reported:
Also illegal, of course, are guns. The surplus store can't sell guns. But it sells gun-shaped items, including toy guns and one large, rhinestone-studded belt buckle shaped like a gun. Another buckle is shaped like a hand grenade. That didn't get by security, either.

See? I TOLD YOU I knew what happened to my belt. The bullets were fucking plastic, studded down to the cheap ass pink canvas in a way that would require bolt cutters to remove. What would a potential terrorist do with plastic bullets? Apparently some TSA genius at Richmond International didn't like the idea of me threatening to, uh, throw the bullets fast like they come out of a gun at someone on my flight? Right.

If You've Missed Me, Come Over to Going Concern

 


On the two year anniversary of my daily column at Going Concern, I just so happen to be subbing as editor this week while my editor skeezes around Europe on a much-needed vacation. Having a great time but also spread horribly thin as I balance pumping out enough content to appease management, still working my day job, trying to settle into the new condo AND dealing with a terrorist kitten I rescued from the Washington Humane Society last week. It's a rough life, I swear.

Anyway, if you've missed me here this week, come on over to Going Concern to read all about accountants behaving badly, hiring lies, dream-shattering reality and interns impressing the crap out of us with mock exercise infomercials.

The editor returns mid next week, at which time I will take a long nap and then be back here embarrassing TPTB, ridiculing Ben Bernanke and dropping too many F-bombs.

Viva los contadores de frijoles, bitches!

TLP: Dunkin' Donuts Worker Misses the Point of "Public Offering"

dunkin hooker
Selling coffee is serious business. Starbucks has gone supersize to try to capture customers, but they can't quite figure out the food thing. Scones? Muffins? Eggawhatthefuckins? Dunkin' Donuts has that nailed: Hello, they sell donuts. And perhaps other treats, if you believe the police in Rockaway, N.J.

Daily Record:
A 29-year-old woman working the night shift at Dunkin Donuts is facing prostitution charges for allegedly taking breaks from selling donuts and coffee to provide sexual services in exchange for money.

Melissa Redmond, 29, of Mine Hill, was arrested after a six week investigation known as “extra sugar” that began when police got a tip that people could go to the Dunkin Donuts on Route 46 and arrange a liaison with Redmond.

“I had gotten an anonymous tip,” Detective Sgt. Kyle Schwarzmann, who led the investigation. “She was a night time employee (working 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.), supposedly a very good one.’’

Schwarzmann began gathering information and doing surveillance at the scene. He noticed on multiple evenings that she would go out to cars to see customers and would spend 10 or 15 minutes there, he said.

“Sometimes I 'd even see money changing hands,’’ Schwarzmann said, adding that sometimes the cars would stay in the parking lot and other times they would drive to another nearby location.

An undercover operation was developed with the assistance of Officer Robert Koehler and Officer Scott Haigh acting as the undercover “John.”
First, this was a six-week investigation? The parking lot "surveillance" must be have been extensive on this case. Or something. Not to judge. Just hope he grabbed some napkins from the counter.

And second, maybe that's just how she fills an order for donut holes.

Does Anyone Actually Want to Have Breakfast With Grover Norquist?



My editor over at Going Concern is completely obsessed with the man but with him in Europe on a much-needed vacation and therefore nowhere near Arlington, VA this week, I guess he's out.

I'd do it but I'm not a huge fan of breakfast to begin with, and 7:30 in the morning is just way too early for my taste. Maybe that's why I can't stand breakfast. Brunch? Mimosas? Now we're talking.

Anyway, here are the details if you're a masochist who likes early mornings, tax issues and Grover's funky mug:

Held the first Wednesday of each month, the Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfast is an excellent opportunity for friends of the Leadership Institute to meet leading conservative speakers and hear their thoughts on current affairs. Past breakfasts have been attended by members of Congress, public policy experts, and columnists.

The event begins at 7:30am with a breakfast buffet and the program begins at 8am. The Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfast is held in the F.M. Kirby National Training Center of the Leadership Institute's Steven P.J. Wood Building. (Get directions.)

Registration is just $10 per person, which includes breakfast. However, if you'd like to become a Wednesday Wake-Up Club member, you will receive 12 breakfasts for the price of 10.

There's only one kind of "Wednesday Wake-Up" I'm into and it usually means The Lazy Paperboy and I are vacationing on a Tuesday ifyoufeelme.

The New York Fed Wants You to Know All About AIG



It's kind of funny that the NY Fed has an entire "This is what happened with AIG" area on its website. In my mind, it's akin to a serial rapist having a "here's why I'm a registered sex offender" tab on his Match.com profile.


On it, you'll find all kinds of overly complicated defenses explanations about the actions the NY Fed took to "save" AIG (read: the dumbass AIG counterparties who made shitty bets), but no mention of why the NY Fed deliberately chose to pay said counterparties 100 cents on the dollar for said shitty bets.

You will, however, see a whole laundry list of horrible things that could have happened had AIG been allowed to fail:

If AIG had been allowed to fail and the parent company had filed for bankruptcy, the consequences and effects could have been severe:

* Many of AIG’s insurance subsidiaries could have been seized by their state and foreign regulators, leaving policyholders facing uncertainty about their rights and claims.
* Seizure of AIG subsidiaries would likely have put a moratorium on claims and withdrawals, and could have impaired those claims in the longer term.
* A run on AIG, in the form of a massive cashing in of insurance policies and annuities, would have strained the company’s ability to meet its obligations to millions of policyholders.
* State and local government entities that had lent investment funds to AIG would have been exposed to losses in an already difficult and deteriorating municipal budget environment.
* Workers whose 401(k) plans had purchased guarantees in the form of stable-value contracts from AIG could have lost that insurance.
* Pension plans would have been forced to write down their AIG-related assets, resulting in significant losses in participants’ portfolios.
* The resulting losses to money market mutual funds, to which millions of Americans entrust their savings, would have had potentially devastating effects on confidence, and would have accelerated the run on various financial institutions.
* Global commercial banks and investment banks would have suffered losses on loans and lines of credit to AIG, and on derivatives contracts and other transactions, potentially causing even greater constraints on the availability of credit to homeowners and businesses.
* Confidence in other insurance providers could have been impacted, leading to a possible run on the industry.

Again, nowhere does it say that counterparties had to be paid 100 cents on the dollar (and yes, America, that was your 100 cents they got). Even the most anti-bailout among us can agree that a total collapse of AIG would have been a catastrophic event, is it really necessary to make such a huge deal over that fact on the face?

As of January 14, 2011, the New York Fed is no longer supplying AIG a lifeline and all NY Fed "loans" have been repaid. We will, of course, never see the tens (or is that hundreds?) of billions paid out to AIG counterparties both here and overseas in the middle of all this nonsense. Oh, and the press release fails to address the fact that the NY Fed actually just traded the responsibility with the U.S. Treasury, who ended up holding 92% of AIG common stock.

There is, again, no mention of that on this lovely little fluff site.