"Our Children and Grandchildren are not merely statistics towards which we can be indifferent" JFK

Friday, April 30, 2010

Ted Poe: Illegal Immigrants are like Grasshoppers????????

"Now it seems to me that if we are so advanced with technology and manpower and competence that we can capture illegal grasshoppers from Brazil, in the holds of ships that are in a little small place in Port Arthur, Texas on the Sabine River. Sabine River, madam speaker, is the river that separates Texas from Louisiana. If we're able to do that as a country, how come we can't capture the thousands of people that cross the border everyday on the southern border of the United States? You know they're a little bigger than grasshoppers and they should be able to be captured easier.

Results of grandpa's Friday afternoon
research on Mr. Poe:

Ted's Favorite Movie and has it in VHS and Blu Ray

Ted Poe Campaign Headquarters in Humble, TX

Ted Poe's Campaign Manager

Ted's Best Friend from High School as
he always had Ted's backside covered

In his youth, Ted was an accomplished guitar player.

Ted loves his weekend Humble, TX auto swap meets

Friday Funnies...the week in review

Bureau of Economic Analysis Manual
for computing GDP

Obama's response to the Creative
GDP Computation

GDP shows the economy is on the right track

Nation is moving in the right direction

Nation's Economic Heartbeat is Strong

Hey Man, bad turn, sign says Yuma. Oh man we're in AZ
Hey man, TELL THEM we have papers...

First 4 Goldman Sachs boys waiting to testify
before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations

Moody's Downgrades Greek Banks...kind of moody if you ask me

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service on Friday downgraded the bank financial strength ratings and the deposit and debt ratings of nine Greek banks. The move reflects "their weakening stand-alone financial strength and the anticipated additional pressures stemming from the country's challenged economic prospects," the agency said. Moody's said the deposit and debt ratings will remain on review for possible downgrade, which will be completed when the agency concludes its ongoing review of Greece's sovereign ratings. The move affects National Bank of Greece, EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Agricultural Bank of Greece, General Bank of Greece, Marfin Egnatia Bank and Attica Bank.

Monster.com: you gotta love Wall Street Analysts

On Tuesday April 20, 2010, 1:05 pm EDT
NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Monster Worldwide jumped 7 percent Tuesday afternoon and a Credit Suisse said an improving labor market will lead to strong growth in the next couple years for the online jobs board.

Analyst John Blackledge wrote that fears of competition from social networking sites were "overdone," and upgraded his rating on Monster. "We expect improving unemployment and increasing job openings, hires and quits to drive accelerating operating conditions," said analyst John Blackledge.

Employers added 162,000 jobs in March, the most in three years, according to government figures.

Blackledge boosted his rating on Monster to "outperform" from "neutral" and raised his estimates to profit of 3 cents per share in 2010 and 48 cents per share in 2011. He had previously forecast a loss of 25 cents per share in 2010 and profit of 10 cents per share in 2011.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect a loss of 15 cents per share this year and a profit of 26 cents per share in 2011.

Blackledge expects revenue to grow steadily from 2009 over the next few years, but still sees revenue by 2011 27 percent below 2008 levels. Job searches have become increasingly common on social networking sites such as LinkedIn. Online classifieds giant Craigslist has also taken a share of job listings.

"While we believe social networks are being used as an alternative to online job boards, we do not expect a material impact to (Monster's) earnings," Blackledge said. He cited Monster's scale and international presence.

Moreover, he said Monster's recent acquisition of Yahoo Inc.'s HotJobs unit removes a big competitor from the market and should provide a boost to 2011 earnings per share of about 8 cents. Blackledge raised the target price on shares to $22 from $15.

Grandpa: This is a classic battle of the analysts, as Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock on April 5, 2010 to a sell from neutral and gave it a $14 price target. It is smackdown time and with an $8 price target spread, somebody is going to lose BIG. A few days (4/23/10) after John's bold upgrade, Credit Suisse was smacking Goldman as the stock closed at $18.25. One week to the big earnings announcement! AND THEN....

* Sees 2010 loss $0.12 to $0.20 vs Street's $0.14 loss
* Shares drop 9 percent after hours (Rewrites, adds CEO comments,
  comparisons with estimates)
NEW YORK, April 29 (Reuters) - Monster Worldwide Inc (MWW.N) on Thursday forecast second-quarter revenue short of analysts' expectations and a full-year loss that could be larger than estimated, and its shares dropped 9 percent.
The company, which operates the Monster.com jobs site, predicted revenue for the current quarter of $210 million to $220 million, below the $221 million Wall Street was looking for.
"It would be careless of us not to leave a little bit of a buffer ... when some contracts come in, the longevity of those contracts, a bunch of other issues can move a few million dollars fairly easily," Chief Executive Sal Iannuzzi said in a call with analysts.
Monster also forecast an operating loss of 12 cents to 20 cents a share for the full year. Analysts expected a loss of 14 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company's shares fell 9 percent to $16.25 in extended trading. The shares, like those of competitors, had run up substantially since the start of March -- some 30 percent in Monster's case -- as the U.S. jobs picture seemed to improve.

Poor John, you should have kept your initial estimate of ($.25) given the company's guidance of a loss of .12 to .20 per share. With any good fortune, your clients were able to sell on April 23rd. John...John...John, you place a $22 price target on a stock that you thought would make 3 pennies?? Enjoy your weekend.

Justice Department open criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs

Marcy Gordon, AP Business Writer, On Friday April 30, 2010, 6:53 am
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Stepping up the pressure on Goldman Sachs two days after its executives were grilled and publicly rebuked by lawmakers, the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation of the Wall Street powerhouse over mortgage securities deals it arranged.

The criminal inquiry follows civil fraud charges filed by the government against Goldman two weeks ago and as Congress pushes toward enacting sweeping legislation aimed at preventing another near-meltdown of the financial system.

The investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan stems from a criminal referral by the Securities and Exchange Commission, a knowledgeable person said Thursday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiry is in a preliminary phase.

The SEC brought civil fraud charges against Goldman and a trader in connection with the transactions in 2006 and 2007. The agency alleged the firm misled investors by failing to tell them the subprime mortgage securities had been chosen with help from a Goldman hedge fund client, Paulson & Co., that was betting the investments would fail. Goldman and the trader, Fabrice Tourre, have denied wrongdoing and said they will contest the allegations in court.

Word of the Justice Department action came a day after a group of 62 House lawmakers, including Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., asked Justice to conduct a criminal probe of Goldman. "On the face of the SEC filing, criminal fraud on a historic scale seems to have occurred in this instance," the lawmakers, mostly Democrats, said in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.

SEC spokesman John Nester declined any comment on the matter, as did Yusill Scribner, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan.

Goldman spokesman Lucas van Praag said, "Given the recent focus on the firm, we're not surprised by the report of an inquiry. We would cooperate fully with any request for information."

The Justice Department move was the latest in a dramatic series of turns in the Goldman saga, which has pitted the culture of Wall Street against angry lawmakers in an election year, in the wake of the financial crisis that plunged the country into the most severe recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein testily told the investigative subcommittee that clients who bought the subprime mortgage securities from the firm in 2006 and 2007 came looking for risk "and that's what they got." Blankfein said the company didn't bet against its clients -- and can't survive without their trust. He repeated the company's assertion that it lost $1.2 billion in the residential mortgage meltdown in 2007 and 2008. He also argued that Goldman wasn't making an aggressive negative bet -- or short -- on the mortgage market's slide.

In addition to the $2 billion so-called collateralized debt obligation that is the focus of the SEC's charges against Goldman, the subcommittee analyzed five other such transactions, totaling around $4.5 billion. All told, they formed a "Goldman Sachs conveyor belt," the panel said, that dumped toxic mortgage securities into the bloodstream of the financial system.
Link to complete article

At 7:05 am, Goldman Sachs stock is trading down $6.00. Poor Jim Cramer and Dick "I play an analyst on TV" Dick Bove.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bill Clinton Skeptical that Goldman Sachs Violated the Law, Political Contributions, the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Shock of shocks. The President that signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (a.k.a. repeal of Glass-Steagall a.k.a congressional endorsement for Wall Street Investment Banks to Pillage and Plunder) states “I’m not at all sure they violated the law, but I do believe that there was no underlying merit to the transaction and that’s what I think we need to look at”.

Bill who accepted the misguided advice of Robert Rubin and Larry Summers regarding not regulating financial derivative products recently threw both of the under the bus. April 18, 2010 on ABC’s “This Week.” “I think they were wrong and I think I was wrong to take” their advice.”

Today, Bill shares his infinite wisdom about how Wall Street and specifically Goldman Sachs operates. Yes America, $800,000+ is the gift that keeps on giving. Let's see: Bill Clinton's formal attorney experience...ZIP. Experience within the SEC...ZIP. Experience with credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations or synthetic derivative products...ZIP. Experience working with a Wall Street Investment Bank...TBD.

By Brian Faler
April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Former President Bill Clinton said he’s skeptical that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. broke the law, while adding that the U.S. government’s lawsuit against the firm underscores the growth of financial transactions with “no underlying merit.”

“I’m not at all sure they violated the law, but I do believe that there was no underlying merit to the transaction and that’s what I think we need to look at,” he said yesterday about the Securities and Exchange Commission suit filed earlier this month alleging Goldman Sachs misled investors in a mortgage-linked investment.

The SEC suit alleges that Goldman Sachs created and sold collateralized debt obligations in 2007 based on subprime mortgages without disclosing that Paulson & Co., the hedge fund run by billionaire John Paulson, helped select the underlying securities. Goldman Sachs also didn’t disclose that Paulson was betting against the assets, the SEC said.

Goldman has denied any wrongdoing and is fighting the allegations. Paulson wasn’t accused of wrongdoing.

“I don’t think it is self-evident” Goldman Sachs broke the law because investors “had access to the same information” as Paulson, Clinton said at a conference in Washington focusing on the federal government’s financial picture. “What is evident to me is that, whoever wins and loses in that deal, there is no larger purpose for the American economy -- nobody really benefits except the person that wins the gamble.”

Goldman Sachs employees, retirees and their families gave political contributions totaling $682,690 to Hillary Clinton and $140,659 to Bill Clinton between 1989-2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Link to complete article

1 million could lose unemployment benefits and "You can't go on forever" says Max Baucus

By Brian Faler
April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Since the U.S. recession began in December 2007, Congress has extended the length of unemployment benefits for the jobless three times. Now, the lawmakers may have reached their limit.

They are quietly drawing the line at 99 weeks of aid, a mark that hundreds of thousands of Americans have already reached. In coming months, the number of those who will receive their final government check is projected to top 1 million.

It’s a deadline that has rarely been mentioned in recent debates over jobless benefits, in which Republicans have delayed aid because of cost concerns. The deadline hasn’t been lost on Teauna Stephney, a 39-year-old single mother from Bothell, Washington, who said she could become homeless once her $407 weekly checks stop in June.

“What are people like me supposed to do?” said Stephney, who said almost two years of benefits haven’t proved long enough for her to find work after she lost her last job in August 2008. Referring to lawmakers, she said, “I would like them to come and talk to me and spend a day in my shoes.”

Democrats who have pushed through the past extensions agree there’s insufficient backing to go beyond 99 weeks, largely because of mounting concern over the federal deficit, projected to reach $1.5 trillion this year.

“You can’t go on forever,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, of Montana, whose panel oversees the benefits program. “I think 99 weeks is sufficient,” he said.

“There’s just been no discussion to go beyond that,” said Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat.

Damned If They Do’

Allowing the ranks of those who lose their aid to swell carries risks for Democrats in November’s elections.

“They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” said Stuart Rothenberg, publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report. Voters are “sensitive these days to spending and deficit issues and yet there are going to be people who need help, and if the administration ignores them, they’ll look rather callous.”

Baucus said extension legislation would fail in the Senate because of both the deficit and the negative “atmospherics” of lengthening the weeks of aid into triple digits.

“The best thing to do is get this economy turned around” to create jobs, said Baucus.

Unemployment aid has become one of the federal budget’s fastest-growing components, with costs this year likely to reach $200 billion. That’s six times what was typically spent before the recession.

Since the recession began, aid extensions added 53 weeks of assistance to the 46 weeks that had been in place. About 11 million Americans, roughly 70 percent of the nation’s jobless, in March received unemployment checks averaging $320 per week.

The challenge for lawmakers is that while benefits have reached record lengths, so has long-term unemployment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 44 percent of the jobless have been out of work for at least six months, the biggest share since the government began keeping track in 1948.

About 3.4 million Americans have been out of work for more than a year, according to a study by the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative.

The states, not the federal government, track how many exhaust their unemployment benefits, said U.S. Labor Department spokesman Matthew Wald. Grandpa Note: which means the weekly jobless report by the numerically challenged Department of Labor does not offer details for a drop as they simply do not track them!
Link to full article

As grandpa noted in his post this morning, this is a jobless recovery. "You can't go on forever" states Max Baucus. Rather ironic that he notes you can't go on forever albeit he has been in congress since 1975. 35 years as a career politician. AND FOR THE RECORD, Max voted Yea on the Gramm-Leach-Bliley act. You know, the act that carved out significant portions of Glass-Steagall which gave Wall Street Investment banks the congressional endorement to pillage and plunder!

Oh, and who could forget: December 2005, following the public corruption probe of Jack Abramoff — who was later convicted of fraud and corruption — Baucus returned $18,892 in contributions that his office found to be connected to Abramoff. Included in the returned donations was an estimated $1,892 that was never reported for Baucus's use of Abramoff's sky box at a professional sports stadium and concert venue in downtown Washington in 2001.

Only career politicians with Wall Street and the Health Care Industry in their back pocket "go on forever" Max.

Initial Jobless Claims 448,000 week ending 4/24/10 and the crowd goes wild!

U.S. Department of Labor:
In the week ending April 24, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 448,000, a decrease of 11,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 459,000 (originally reported as 456,000).

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending April 17 was 4,645,000, a decrease of 18,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 4,663,000 (originally reported as 4,646,000).

The media headlines will pounce on the "decrease" and the Quant fund algorithmic traders will once again move the equity market higher on abysmal volume. 

Clearly the Department of Labor remains challenged with basic addition and subtraction however Wall Street remains indifferent to the plight of the unemployed. Run the market up on a decrease in claims solely due to the prior week's upward revisions. 

A decrease of 18,000 in continuing claims makes for great headlines as it would have produced a wimpy 1,000 decrease headline without the hefty 17,000  upward revision.

The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) figure clocked in at 5,200,473 for the week ending 4/10/10. This figure is down 146,641 from the prior week. The question remains, is the drop due to gaining employment, losing eligibility or a combination? For the same period in 2009, the EUC figure stood at 2,286,186. We have come a long way baby; government dumping mass quantities of debt on our kids and grandkids while EUC claims climb 2.9 million over a 12 month period.

Just remember, this is a jobless recovery as pronounced on CNBC. 5.2 million people collecting Emergency Unemployment Compensation is roughly equivalent to the entire population of Colorado, but hey, we have 49 other states.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Financial Reform Bill Stalled or Stonewalled 3rd time in 3 days

WASHINGTON AP) – A Senate bill to rein in financial institutions has stalled again as Republicans remain unified against the Democrats' proposed overhaul.

The 56-42 vote failed to get the necessary 60 votes to move the legislation to the Senate floor for debate. Without that step, senators cannot offer amendments to the bill.

It was the third such vote in three days, orchestrated by Democrats to maintain pressure on Republicans. GOP senators insist key provisions be changed before formal debate begins.

A Raving Fan of Financial Reform Deadlock

SEC probes hedge funds' use of side pockets (reported by WSJ)

Federal regulators are examining whether hedge-fund managers abused tools known as "side pockets" that helped prevent clients from withdrawing billions of dollars of assets during the financial crisis.

The issue is one of several investigative priorities recently set by a newly organized Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement unit focused on ferreting out misbehavior by private-equity funds, hedge funds and other asset managers.

The group, run by co-chiefs Rob Kaplan and Bruce Karpati, held its first full staff meeting this week. Some 60 attorneys are assigned to the unit across nine offices, said people familiar with the matter. The unit is delving into a number of issues surrounding hedge funds and asset managers, including whether the funds are assigning fair values to assets and accurately disclosing information about investment strategies, assets and performance to investors.

Side pockets aren't a new tool for hedge funds, but they grew more common and more controversial in 2008. At the time, funds were inundated with withdrawal requests amid market losses. Many fund managers barred clients from exiting from their investments. Side pockets can protect investors by confining new or long-held investments until markets improve, potentially limiting losses. But during the crisis, clients complained managers weren't disclosing reasons for creating side pockets, nor disclosing which assets were being stashed there.

Link to complete WSJ Article

Not to be confused with Hedge Fund Side Pocket

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Goldman Sachs Hearing: Three Billy Goats Gruff Trippity-trop, trippity-trop

What a spectacle today with three separate groups of Goldman Sachs goats paraded in front of the trolls of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The day started with 4 tiny Goldman Sachs goats.

"Who's that trotting over my bridge?" Growled the one of the trolls (Carl Levin) from under the bridge."I'm going to eat you for breakfast!" "Oh no, please Mr. Troll," pleaded the 4 goats. "We're the  smallest Goldman Sachs Gruff. We're much too tiny for you to eat, and we wouldn't taste very good especially since we can't remember much. Why don't you wait for one of my other brothers, the second Goldman Sachs Gruff? Those two are much bigger than us and would be much more tasty."

"All right, you can cross my bridge," Levin grunted. "Go and get fatter on the mountain and I'll eat you on your way back!" So the smallest 4 Goldman Sachs Goats Gruff skipped across to the other side.

Five hours later, two more slightly larger Goldman Sachs goats were preparing to cross the bridge. "Who's that clattering across my bridge?" screamed  two more trolls (Susan Collins and Clair McCaskill), suddenly appearing from under the planks.

"Goldman Sachs Gruff," said the second two goats in their middle-sized voice. "We're going up to the Hamptons to eat the lovely sushi wrapped in lemon grass." "Oh no you're not!" said Susan and Clair."We're going to eat you for breakfast." "Oh, no, please, "said the two goats. " We may be bigger than the prior four Goldman Sachs Gruff, but we're much smaller than our one remaining brother, the "doing God's work" third Goldman Sachs Gruff. Why don't you wait for him? He would be much more of a meal than me."

The trolls were getting very hungry, but neither Susan nor Clair wanted to waste their appetite nor their final questions on middle-sized goats if there was an even bigger one to come. "All right, you can cross my bridge,"they rumbled." Go and get fatter on the mountain and I'll eat you on your way back! "So the 2 middle-sized Goldman Sachs Gruff scampered across to the other side and were off to the Hamptons.

The trolls did not have to wait long (only a couple CNBC commercials) for the third Goldman Sachs Gruff. Tromp-tramp, tromp-tramp went his hooves as he stomped across the wooden planks. Bong-bang, bong-bang went the big bell round his neck. "Who's that stomping over my bridge?" roared the trolls (Ted Kaufman and John Ensign), resting their chins on their hands." Lloyd Blankfein Gruff, "said the third goat in a deep, God-like voice. "I'm going up to the Hamptons to prepare for my SEC suit and enjoy a clam bake with Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner". "Oh no you're not," said Ted and John as they clambered up on to the bridge.

"We're going to eat you for breakfast!" "That's what you think," said the Biggest Goldman Sachs Gruff. Then he lowered his horns, galloped along the bridge and butted the ugly trolls. Up, up, up went the trolls into the air... then down, down, down into the rushing river below. They disappeared below the swirling waters, and were gone. So much for their breakfast, thought the biggest Goldman Sachs Gruff.

"Now what about mine!" And he walked in triumph over the bridge to join his Goldman Sachs brothers in the Hamptons. From then on every Wall Street Gruff could cross the bridge whenever they liked.

Cramer all but throws Goldman Sachs under the bus, what happended to your "source" Jim?

On April 16, 2010, Jim Cramer with Erin Burnett in which Jim gives it his all to rally the market around "information" he picked up from his "source".

TODAY APRIL 27th, 2010 (it would appear that Jim's source punked him)

Standard and Poor's just realized Greece is having issues and rates Greece Debt as Junk

We have updated our assessment of the political, economic, and budgetary
challenges that the Greek government faces in its efforts to place
Greece's public debt burden onto a sustained downward trajectory.

We are lowering our ratings on Greece to 'BB+/B' from 'BBB+/A-2' and
assigning a negative outlook.

The negative outlook reflects the possibility of a further downgrade if
the Greek government's ability to implement its fiscal and structural
reform program materially weakens in our view, undermined by domestic
political opposition at home or by even weaker economic conditions than
we currently assume.

MADRID (Standard & Poor's) April 27, 2010--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it has lowered its long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings on the Hellenic Republic (Greece) to 'BB+' and 'B', respectively, from 'BBB+' and 'A-2'. The outlook is negative. At the same time, we assigned a recovery rating of '4' to Greece's debt issues, indicating our expectation of "average" (30%-50%) recovery for debtholders in the event of a debt restructuring or payment default. The 'AAA' transfer and convertibility assessment is unchanged.

"The downgrade results from our updated assessment of the political, economic, and budgetary challenges that the Greek government faces in its efforts to put the public debt burden onto a sustained downward trajectory," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Marko Mrsnik.

Link to Press Release

The general meaning of our credit rating opinions is summarized below.
‘AAA’—Extremely strong capacity to meet financial commitments. Highest Rating.

‘AA’—Very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.

‘A’—Strong capacity to meet financial commitments, but somewhat susceptible to adverse economic conditions and changes in circumstances.

‘BBB’—Adequate capacity to meet financial commitments, but more subject to adverse economic conditions.

‘BBB-‘—Considered lowest investment grade by market participants.

‘BB+’—Considered highest speculative grade by market participants.

‘BB’—Less vulnerable in the near-term but faces major ongoing uncertainties to adverse business, financial and economic conditions.

‘B’—More vulnerable to adverse business, financial and economic conditions but currently has the capacity to meet financial commitments.

‘CCC’—Currently vulnerable and dependent on favorable business, financial and economic conditions to meet financial commitments.

‘CC’—Currently highly vulnerable.

‘C’—Currently highly vulnerable obligations and other defined circumstances.

‘D’—Payment default on financial commitments.

Note: Ratings from ‘AA’ to ‘CCC’ may be modified by the

Jon Stewart on AZ Immigration Law...AZ, the meth lab of Democracy

Jon Stewart and the AZ Immigration Law. The law is very clear, the police will only check people who are reasonably suspicious. The State of AZ had a most productive week passing new legislation as they are the meth lab of democracy. White people need to burp their babies.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Law & Border
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Financial reform-the Ukraine Parliament gets things done with smoke and eggs

The Ukraine Parliament knows how to get things done. If one can not grab the attention of an opposing party, bring out the smoke and eggs. Someone needs to remind Harry Reid to bring his umbrella.

Link to Parliament Video

Monday, April 26, 2010

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska breaks ranks (you remember Ben, he won cash and prizes for a yes vote on Health Care Reform)

CBS News:
Senate Republicans held together Monday afternoon to block efforts by Democrats to officially begin debate on the financial industry reform bill.
No Republicans cast a "yes" vote on the procedural motion, keeping Democrats from the 60 vote threshold needed to move forward. One Democrat, Nebraska's Ben Nelson, voted "no" outright.

Just in case Ben Nelson is not a household name...

Fox News 12/20/09
Nelson also won several other concessions, most notably a commitment from the federal government to fully fund his state's expanded Medicaid population. All states get full federal assistance for the first three years of the bill -- but Nebraska would be the only state getting full assistance afterward. One Democratic official put the cost to the federal government at $45 million over a decade.

The concessions didn't end there. Nelson also got an exemption from a fee on non-profit health insurers -- the language was written in a way that only applies to Nebraska and Michigan.

Democratic senators defended the Nebraska deal. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said all states get a lot of federal aid for Medicaid anyway, and that special treatment is hardly unique to Nebraska. "Personally, every state gets some kind of differential treatment based on their situation," he told "Fox News Sunday."

"People fight for their own states. That's the nature of a democracy," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. GRANDPA: I thought democracy included a faint amount of fairness for all Amy, including what is in the best interest of the entire country. Democracy has become synonymous with racking up debt and pass it along to others for payment...like our grandchildren.

18 months and yet no financial reform. At 15 months, my grandson is walking, early attempts at conversation, displays a pleasant disposition and an identifiable personality and eats solid food. Unlike congress, he has made meaningful and monumental and strides in 5/6th the time. What is your excuse!

Republicans Block Reform Bill-Welcome to America!!

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - Democratic efforts to reform how the nation's bank are regulated received a major setback Monday after Republicans voted unanimously to oppose a key procedural motion put forward by congressional leaders that would have allowed for a debate on the financial institution bill by the full Senate. Democrats are set to schedule another vote on beginning Senate debate on bank reform as soon as Wednesday. The effort to begin debate failed by a vote of 57-41. Democrats needed the "aye" votes of 60 senators for the bill to move ahead.

USA Today
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., likened the financial regulation bill to the health care law approved by Congress last month.
"All of us want to deliver a reform that will tighten the screws on Wall Street," McConnell said. "But we're not going to be rushed on another massive bill based on the assurances of our friends on the other side."

Not going to be rushed! Is McConnell completely insane??? You Wall Street yes-men have had over 18 months to draft and pass legislation and you have the nerve to insult the American people by referencing being rushed!!!

Arizona's Immigration Law and Grandpa secured a copy of the unofficial training manual

Under the recently signed Arizona law, police must stop people on “reasonable suspicion” that they might be undocumented immigrants. If they’re not carrying a valid driver’s license or identification papers, police could make an arrest.

The governor (Jan Brewer) pointed out, both in her statement and the executive order, that the new law prohibits police from using race or ethnicity as the sole factor in determining whether to pursue an inquiry. But she conceded that it does permit either to be used as one factor for an officer's consideration. And she defended the language. "We have to trust our law enforcement,'' Brewer said. "It's a simple reality.''

Vigilant Grandpa received a copy of an unofficial Law Enforcement Racial Profiling Training Manual from an anonymous source familiar with the program. The following cutouts will be placed in a variety of unmarked vehicles strategically parked along public roadways and public parking lots in and around the Phoenix area.

Law enforcement trainees will be given clues as to the general location of each vehicle and once located; each trainee will have 12 seconds to rate the “suspicious level” of each cutout and enter their “final answer” into the onboard profiling computer. NOTE: using a “lifeline” is not a provision in the new law.

Sampling of  "Profiling Cutouts" 

Maria Bartiromo (a.k.a. Money Honey): "I don't think there's anything wrong with a boom-bust economy, frankly."

Maria Bartiromo: Of course, it's all a result of two of the biggest bouts of "irrational exuberance" investors have ever experienced. Not that there's anything wrong with that. "I don't think there's anything wrong with a boom-bust economy, frankly."

Maria believes the bursting of these recent bubbles "opens the door for wealth creation." Plus, they're inevitable: "We live in a society where we're an optimistic group".

Retirement age viewers may disagree. Those that rely on pensions and 401(k) portfolios would surely have preferred a slow and steady rise to the crashes. But, instead of complaining, investors should profit from the good and the bad.

Maria “Money Honey” Bartiromo remains the quintessential CNBC dolled up mouthpiece for Wall Street including the brothel of fund managers pushing their stocks du jour. Maria doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with a boom-bust economy albeit the “buy and hold” pundits filled every available CNBC programming slot throughout the lost decade for equities.

“Instead of complaining, investors should profit from the good and the bad”. For the record Ms. Money Honey, “investors” have every right to complain given the level of fraud and corruption within the equity market. Investment bankers betting (and winning big) against the products sold to their clients, publicly traded companies playing “find Waldo” with their balance sheets thanks to FASB mark to model and irresponsible journalism majors solely spinning “better than expected” headline data.

Apparently you skipped out on a few classes while securing your coveted minor in economics. You know, a class or two addressing the hardships human beings incurred during “bust periods” such as losing one’s job then drawing down on the savings account and retirement nest egg in order keep the kids fed and pay medical bills.

Bursting recent bubbles “opens the door for wealth creation”. Grandpa Factoid: 44% of our nation’s 15 million unemployed have been out of work for more than 6 months Maria. Let grandpa help you with the math, 44% of 15 million is 6.6 million. Which door would you have them open?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jeremy Grantham on Bubbles (FT interview)

Greenspan gets credit for the tech and housing bubble. Bernanke has happily picked up the mantle, and seems totally unconcerned about creating yet another bubble.

Bubbles are important for the country because there is nothing more dangerous and damaging to an economy than a great asset bubble that breaks. And this is something the Fed never seems to get. … We looked back as far as we could, [of the 34 bubbles we found over the years], 32 have moved all the way back down to the trend line that existed prior to the bubble forming. There were no exceptions.

6 minute interview after the jump to Financial Times:
Link to Financial Times Interview (video)

William Black calls it like it is at House Financial Services Hearing

William Black, who is Associate Professor of Economics and Law, the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Law, gave testimony to the House Financial Services Committee on the collapse and bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September of 2008.

He is truly a call it like it is guy and his testimony is way overdue. Mr. Black points out the appalling actions or lack of action by Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke.

This is totally worth taking 8 minutes out one's day as you will not get this straight shooting, factual information from any of the financial news outlets (especially CNBC).

Sunday Comics

Securities and Exchange Commission
Updated Screensaver

Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby close to
cutting a deal on financial reform

A common sleep disorder: Sleep terror (pavor nocturnus)
Best Treatment: avoid Jim Cramer

Greek minister says IMF debt talks
are "going well"

During testimony before the Permanent Subcommittee
on Investigations this past week, Moody's and
Standard and Poor's explained the process
for rating mortgage securities

Mr. Geithner, grandpa has one simple question: on average,
how many times per day do you deny responsibility for your
role in supervising and-or regulating Wall Street?

Chairman Bernanke, grandpa would like to know
how you  feel about the savings account returns our
senior citizens receive as a result of your policies
to artificially supress interest rates?

One final question Chariman, how do you feel about the
returns of your stock portfolio as a direct result of
your policies to artifically supress interest rates?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

FDIC sends the entire crew to IL and closes 7 banks

The FDIC sent the entire staff to IL on Friday to close 7 banks. The FDIC estimates these 7 banks will cost the Deposit Insurance Fund roughly $973.9 million. Friday's closings brings the total for 2010 to 57.

FL is no longer atop the leader board with 9 banks closed in 2010 as IL just took the lead with 10 banks. FL is now running for silver while GA is vying for bronze with 7 bank closings.

Larry Summers: A Tribute from Grandpa

Grandpa’s Top 10 Fun Facts to Know and Share about Larry Summers (special thanks to the good folks at Wikipedia for challenging grandpa to keep the list to 10)
1. Currently Director of the White House’s National Economic Council
2. 27th President of Harvard University and resigned as Harvard's
   president in the wake of a no-confidence vote by Harvard faculty
3. Succeeded Robert Rubin as Secretary of the Treasury during the final
    1 ½ years of the Clinton Presidency
4. Teamed with Alan Greenspan and Enron executive Kenneth Lay to
    lecture California Governor Gray Davis on the causes of the energy
    crisis, explaining that the problem was excessive government regulation.
    Under the advice of Kenneth Lay, Summers urged Davis to relax
    California's environmental standards in order to reassure the markets.
5. In 1999 Larry hailed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (repealed key
   provisions in the 1933 Glass-Stegall Act). "Today Congress voted to
   update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great
   Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,"
6. In 1998, Larry stood firm regarding regulating financial derivatives:
   Summers stated that "to date there has been no clear evidence of a
   need for additional regulation of the institutional OTC derivatives market,
   and we would submit that proponents of such regulation must bear the
   burden of demonstrating that need."
7. In an October 2001 meeting, Summers criticized African American
   Studies department head Cornel West for allegedly missing three weeks
   of classes to work on the Bill Bradley presidential campaign, and
   complained that West was contributing to grade inflation. Summers also
   said that West's rap album was an embarrassment to the university,
   and that West needed to do more scholarly work.
8. During Summers' presidency at Harvard, the University entered into a
    series totalling US$3.52 billion ofinterest rate swaps, financial
    derivatives that can be used for either hedging or speculation.
    Summers approved the decision to enter into the swap contracts as
    president of the university and as a member of Harvard Corp.,
    "the university’s seven-member ruling body" which bears "the school’s
    ultimate fiduciary responsibility." By late 2008, those positions had
    lost approximately $1 billion in value. This forced Harvard to borrow
    significant sums in distressed market conditions to meet margin calls
    on the swaps. In the end Harvard paid $497.6 million in termination
    fees to investment banks and has agreed to pay another $425 million
    over 30–40 years.
9. Summers has recently come under fire for accepting perks from
    Citigroup, including free rides on its corporate jet in 2008. According
    to the Wall Street Journal, Larry Summers called Chris Dodd asking
    him to remove caps on executive pay at firms that have received
    stimulus money, including Citigroup.

On April 3, 2009 Summers came under renewed criticism after it was disclosed that he was paid millions of dollars the previous year by companies which he now has influence over as a public servant. He earned $5 million from the hedge fund D. E. Shaw, and collected $2.7 million in speaking fees from Wall Street companies that received government bailout money

10. April 22, 2010 interview on PBS NewsHour
Jeffrey Brown: The too-big-to-fail issue, why not go further? Why not just limit the size of banks?
Jeff, that was the approach America took to banking before the Depression. That was the approach that America took to lending in the thrift sector before we had the Savings and Loan crisis.

Most observers who study -- who study this believe that to try to break banks up into a lot of little pieces would hurt our ability to serve large companies and hurt the competitiveness of the United States.

But that's not the important issue. They believe that it would actually make us less stable, because the individual banks would be less diversified and, therefore, at greater risk of failing, because they wouldn’t have profits in one area to turn to when a different area got in trouble.

And most observers believe that dealing with the simultaneous failure of many -- many small institutions would actually generate more need for bailouts and reliance on taxpayers than the current economic environment.

Grandpa's Pictorial Tribute to "Big Lug" Larry

Checking emails from Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan
and the Citigroup private jet schedule

Henry Kissinger once said that Larry Summers should
"be given a White House post in which he was charged
with shooting down or fixing bad ideas”.

Larry's position on regulating financial derivatives

Response to Harvard's $1 billion hit on interest rate
swaps contracts

Offering assistance selecting Lotto numbers

Dr. Evil Summers
My childhood was typical: summers in Rangoon... luge lessons
... In the spring, we'd make meat helmets...

Playing follow the leader and staying in the lines
(unlike Timmy Geithner)

Larry's reaction to his Goldman Sachs buddies being
sued by the SEC

Your Parting Gift Mr. Summers