October 11, 2008

Is it time for the tar and feathers?

Posted in America, bailout, Barack Obama, Comedy, decision making, Humor, lie of the day, life, Personal, Politics tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:00 pm by keithwilbur

 

I, like most average Americans, am pissed with what is going on in our country.

We see our life savings being sucked into some kind of banking black hole that we do not fully understand beyond the fact that it is the result of greed . We see our presidential candidates do the same bull crap mud slinging at each other and when asked a straight question  we never hear a straight answer. We are shown short clips on TV why an idea is a good or bad idea. These ads try to sell us fear in 30 seconds or less. Then you are sent a 200 page book so you can be informed. I think to myself, ‘ right I have to work 60 + hours per week and I now I need to read 200 pages to get a bit of truth ( maybe ) ‘, is this the plan?  

Less than a week after the federal government had to bail out American International Group Inc., the company sent executives on a $440,000 retreat to a posh California resort, lawmakers investigating the company’s meltdown said. 

The tab included $23,380 worth of spa treatments for AIG employees at the coastal St. Regis resort south of Los Angeles even as the company tapped into an $85 billion loan from the government it needed to stave off bankruptcy…

… During the second Presidential debate Tuesday night, Democrat Barack Obama said the U.S. Treasury should demand the money be returned and top executives be fired. Republican Senator John McCain did not specifically address the spa vacation by AIG employees…

For the complete article visit:AIG Execs Take Spa Vacation

So how is this for an idea; We the people just got screwed and the first thing we hear is that these jokers are taking the tax bailout money we give them and they are going to take a vacation at the tune of what?

What will it take to get some honesty or responsible behavior? Maybe a good old fashioned tar and feathering?  

Truth or lie?

Navy Base Open Day

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October 2, 2008

Is this any way to run a society of human beings? Truth or Lie?

Posted in America, bailout, belief, capitalism, Economic Pearl Harbor, faith, gambling, lie of the day, managing money, Policy, Politics, Sustainability, tent cities, The Economy tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:26 pm by jimwilbur

This is an excerpt from an excellent article by William Blum:

Why do we have this thing called a “financial crisis”? Why have we had such a crisis periodically ever since the United States was created? What changes occur or what happens each time to bring on the crisis? Do we forget how to make things that people need? Do the factories burn down? Are our tools lost? Do the blueprints disappear? Do we run out of people to work in the factories and offices? Are all the services that people need for a happy life so well taken care of that there’s hardly any more need for the services? In other words: What changes take place in the real world to cause the crisis? Nothing, necessarily. The crisis is usually caused by changes inthe make-believe world of financial capitalism.

All these grown men playing their boys’ games. They create an assortment of financial entities, documents, and packages that go by names like hedge funds, derivatives, collateralized debt obligations, index funds, credit default swaps, structured investment vehicles, subprime mortgages, and dozens of other exotic monetary vehicles. They create all manner of commercial pieces of paper, of no known real or inherent value, backed up by few if any standards. Then they sell these various pieces of paper to the public and to each other. They slice and dice mortgages into arcane and risky instruments, then bundle them together, and sell the packages to those higher up in the pyramid scheme. And some of those engaged in this Wild West buying and selling become millionaires. Some become billionaires. They get Christmas bonuses greater than what most Americans earn the entire year. Is all this not remarkable?

And much of the buying is not done with the buyer’s own money, but with borrowed funds; “leveraged”, they call it. The pieces of paper sometimes represent commodities, but the actual commodities are not seen, may not even exist; if the seller demanded the buyer’s own funds, or the buyer wanted to see the goods, the whole transaction would freeze. They sell “long”, expecting the price to rise; they sell “short”, expecting the price to fall; they sell “naked short”, which means they neither possess nor own what they’re selling; a name for each gimmick. They take ever-greater risks buying and selling increasingly-esoteric pieces of paper. It’s a glorified Las Vegas, casino capitalism.

These pieces of paper can be so complex that many of those buying and selling them do not fully understand them; no problem, they just resell the pieces of paper to someone else at a higher price, even when one or both parties know that the paper, while pretending to be payable debt, is virtually worthless. The government, even when it tries to moderately regulate this Monopoly board, can at times also be confused by the complexities of the pieces of paper, compounded by the less-than-transparent practices that envelop the transactions; a potpourri including speculation, manipulation, fraud. Billionaire financier Warren Buffett has called the pieces of paper “weapons of mass financial destruction.”

The boys of finance have been playing their games for years, and so at each stage of the process there are insurance policies allowing the players to hedge their bets; they insure, and they re-insure; hopefully covering themselves against the many risks of the game, often knowing that they’re trading in questionable debts; the giant corporation AIG, a major player in the insurance game, has just been taken over by the federal government. And with each transaction, at each level, someone earns a commission or a fee. There are also other firms whose purpose in life is to go around rating various players and their pieces of paper and their credit worthiness and giving seals of approval which are relied upon by investors. Some of these rating firms, we’re now learning, have been surprisingly incompetent, when not simply dishonest

President Roosevelt, confronted in the 1930s with similar players, called them “banksters”.

It’s all built on faith, as fragile as the religious kind, the belief that something is worth something because it comes with a piece of paper with reassuring words and numbers written on it, because it’s traded, rated, and insured, because someone will sell it and someone will buy it. The same market psychology, the same herd mentality, that went into constructing this house of cards built on pillars of greed can cause the house to collapse in a heap. But the Monopoly players keep their bonuses, and bow out with multimillion-dollar golden parachutes; while tent cities are springing up all over America.

Is this any way to run a society of human beings?

And the government is in the process of trying to bail out these reckless traders, these parasites, rescuing them and their system from their own nonsense. With our money; without a major restructuring of the Alice-in-Wonderland rules of the financial games, without instituting the toughest of regulations, oversight, and transparency, and with no guarantee that the spoiled-little-brat Masters of the Universe will act in any way other than their own narrow self interest, the rest of us be damned.

Capitalism is the theory that the worst people, acting from their worst motives, will somehow produce the most good. 

If you would like to see the whole article here is a link to: The Anti-Empire Report

What is your opinion? Is this anyway to run a society of human beings?

September 25, 2008

Wallstreetbailout at treasury dot gov Is this letter a hoax? truth or lie?

Posted in America, bailout, blank check letter, hank paulson, Humor, lobbyists, phil gram, treasury, Wall Street tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:39 pm by jimwilbur

September 29, 2008

The stock market has been dropping today, I think at one point it dropped more than 700 points. Want to know how we got to this point? As I understand, it is actually rather simple. Someone came up with the idea that banks could in essence sell the risk they were taking and the potential profits they could make by loaning money. Banks could do this by packaging multiple loans then selling the loan packages to companies with names like Fannie Mae, Ginny Mae or Freddie Mac who would then assume the potential risks and the potential profits. These companies would then sell these loan packages to other investment companies.

Loans earn interest and a loan instrument has value to an investor because of the potential interest income that loan can generate during the amortization period of the loan. This is only true though if the borrower is a good credit risk and pays off the loan as promised and per the terms of the loan.

Banks over time became excellent at assessing whether or not borrowers were good risks and banks used to have a reputation for being extremely cautious about who they would lend money to. With the advent of being able to sell their risks to companies like Freddie Mac, banks became less concerned about assessing risk and instead focused their concerns on being able to sell loan packages per the criteria established by companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This created a situation where their risk assessment was no longer of a high quality so the loan instruments they were selling as investment quality were also of low quality.

To make a long story short, the loan packages ended up be sold to retirement fund investment groups and most retirement accounts are heavily invested in these faulty instruments. So, people who are near retirement age are really going to take it in the shorts if this bailout does not go through.

Fix the problem then figure out who is at fault. Follow the money and make them pay. Seize assets and fortunes. Don’t throw them in jail, tax them for the rest of their lives at really high tax rates like 95%. Let them keep enough to survive but that is all. 

 

You will find the viral, funny letter about the bailout below v.

I recently received this email, do you think it is a hoax or should I respond?

Dear Friend:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.  
 
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.  
 
I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe. 
 
This is matter of great urgency. We need blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.  
 
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.  
 
Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury, 
 
The Honourable Hank Paulson