Rocket stove

October 22, 2011

Barry Ritholtz visits Max Keiser

February 2, 2010

Ten Things Not to Like About the US Government Policy Actions Known as “The Bailouts”

November 3, 2009

Courtesy of Jesse at the Café Américain.

1. The Treasury and the Fed rewarded some aggressive risk takers and failing business models at the expense of those who followed sound business practices. Those who followed conservative practices have been penalized twice; first on the way up and again on the way down. Those companies that did fail appear to have been ‘targeted’ by insiders.

2. Much of the process was done in secret with minimal transparency, debate, or disclosure by people who have obvious conflicts of interest.

3. The stated objectives of freeing up credit for the real economy and stemming foreclosures have not been achieved.

4. Trillions in taxpayer money were provided with few strings attached and at minimal stipulated rates of return. Furthermore, several of these institutions are using their taxpayer money to lobby against reform and award themselves pre-crisis salaries and record bonuses.

5. Bailout actions were arbitrary, inconsistent, ad hoc, and without an apparent guiding principles of justice.

6. The banking, rating, “insurance”, and regulatory systems have not been reformed and the perpetrators of the collapse and their enablers are remain in charge, now overseeing the “recovery.”

7. Criminal investigations are minimal; few people are facing indictments or even serious regulatory scrutiny for actions that are highly questionable. Official finds are whitewashes.

8. Regulations, regulatory structures, and other safeguards were implemented, revised or swept aside in chaotic and reckless fashion. [discount window participation and collateral, short selling rules, bank holding companies, mark-to-market]

9. The insider advantages, speculative excess, and extreme leveraging of the perpetrators has been allowed to continue; in fact, allowed to expand. There is a taint of insider trading and corruption that permeates the process.

10. Wall Street is bailed out; Main Street is not. Efforts to subsidize the incomes and balance sheets of failing firms have been massive and were implemented with minimal debate, requirements, or oversight; efforts to shore up taxpayer incomes and balance sheets have been comparatively minimal, subject to extensive debate and tinkering, highly selective, and incomplete.

Thanks to Cafe patron Malcolm McMichael

“The States racked up some serious debt in keeping the world safe for democracy in the Second World War. On a percentage basis, it has recently spent a significant amount keeping its financial sector safe from productive effort and honest labour. They will raid the Treasury, take their fill, and then compel the government to confiscate the savings of a generation by defaulting on its obligations, its sovereign debt.” -Jesse at the Café Américain

‘We’ll have a dictatorship soon in the US’

October 1, 2009

The grand old man of letters Gore Vidal claims America is ‘rotting away’ — and don’t expect Barack Obama to save it [ London Times ]

Last year he famously switched allegiance from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama during the Democratic nomination process for president. Now, he reveals, he regrets his change of heart. How’s Obama doing? “Dreadfully. I was hopeful. He was the most intelligent person we’ve had in that position for a long time. But he’s inexperienced. He has a total inability to understand military matters. He’s acting as if Afghanistan is the magic talisman: solve that and you solve terrorism.”

#Regrets, I’ve had a few#

Let’s try and not go overboard next time, folks

May 4, 2009

The End of Personal Finance
Decades of advice turn out to be so much garbage.

“For more than two decades, as income inequality increased and job security decreased, Americans lapped up personal finance columns, books, and television shows. We thrilled to stock tips and swooned at sensible strategies for using dollar-cost averaging to invest in no-load index funds. Buy and hold, my friends! The annualized gain for the S&P 500 stock index over time is more than 10 percent! You, too, can turn into the millionaire next door. Carpe diem, folks! Seize the financial day!”

[The Big Money]

Will there even be a next time?

That other Santayana quote that’s relevant today more than ever

April 16, 2009

“A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.” —George Santayana

Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world

April 8, 2009

By Nassim Nicholas Taleb

1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become too big to fail. Evolution in economic life helps those with the maximum amount of hidden risks – and hence the most fragile – become the biggest.

2. No socialisation of losses and privatisation of gains. Whatever may need to be bailed out should be nationalised; whatever does not need a bail-out should be free, small and risk-bearing. We have managed to combine the worst of capitalism and socialism. In France in the 1980s, the socialists took over the banks. In the US in the 2000s, the banks took over the government. This is surreal.

3. People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never be given a new bus. The economics establishment (universities, regulators, central bankers, government officials, various organisations staffed with economists) lost its legitimacy with the failure of the system. It is irresponsible and foolish to put our trust in the ability of such experts to get us out of this mess. Instead, find the smart people whose hands are clean.


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