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Pulse of a Presidency

postedPosted in Politically Incorrect, War On Terrorism, Wonder Wonder on December 30th, 2009 by glennm

As the Nation’s Pulse Races, Obama Can’t Seem to Find His [NYTimes.com].

President Obama’s favorite word is “unprecedented,” as Carol Lee of Politico pointed out. Yet he often seems mired in the past as well, letting his hallmark legislation get loaded up with old-school bribes and pork; surrounding himself with Clintonites; continuing the Bushies’ penchant for secrecy and expansive executive privilege; doubling down in Afghanistan while acting as though he’s getting out; and failing to capitalize on snazzy new technology while agencies thumb through printouts and continue their old turf battles.

It’s not a good political sign at all that liberals seem to be departing the president in droves. The more things “change,” the more it appears politicians give us more of the same.

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Suicide Still Isn’t Right

postedPosted in Money Matters, Politically Incorrect, Rants on March 17th, 2009 by glennm

Maybe populism has gone too far. The Weekly Standard noted this morning that U.S. Senator Charles Grassley in a radio interview remarked that the AIG executives who ran the insurance company into the ground, and then accepted taxpayer-funded bonuses, should resign and kill themselves, Japanese-style. Grassley to AIG: It’s Seppuku time.

Now you know I have absolutely no sympathy for these AIG morons and think the bailout is absolutely stupid. We should have let the company fail and the chips fall where they may. But this is way over the top. What sets America apart from Japan is that we do not embrace their culture of “face” and respect, which is what drives executives to resign in shame and then, not infrequently, commit suicide. In the U.S., you are what you do and what you represent, not to whom you report. Organizations are important but have no real meaning aside from the individuals who make them up.

So as far as I am concerned, AIG should “claw back” those bonuses and fire these idiots.  (It’s not like that so-called talent helped the company do anything other than rack up the largest quarterly loss in the history of capitalism anyway!)  But suggesting Seppuku is just out of line and un-American.

Posted via email from glenn’s posterous

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Bank of America Next to Feed at US Bailout Troth

postedPosted in Lawyers, Guns & Money, Money Matters, Politically Incorrect, Rants on February 27th, 2009 by glennm

So, $165B so far is still not enough for those imbeciles! The New York Times is reporting that Bank of America will need $100 billion in equity within the next 100 days. That is in addition to the $45 billion in cash and $120 billion financial backstops that the government already committed to shore up Bank of America’s capital base.

What a complete waste of money and attention.  None of these people, whether in the government or the financial system, has any idea what is happening or how to fix it.  So what they do is what has always been done — throw money (ours), and lots of it, at the problem.  But nothing is sticking.

Posted via email from glenn’s posterous

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Can BHO Play FDR?

postedPosted in Business, Money Matters, Politically Incorrect on February 23rd, 2009 by glennm

E. J. Dionne Jr. writes that Pres. Obama has a great historical opportunity to speak directly to Americans about confidence as part of his quest to ameliorate the fiscal crisis. Barack Obama’s “Nothing to Fear” Moment [Washingtonpost.com]. In times of panic like now, we desperately need an inspirational leader like FDR, who bravely told Americans only to fear “fear itself.” I hope he can step up to the plate, but so far on this score he has been a serious disappointment.

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There They Go Again

postedPosted in Lawyers, Guns & Money, Money Matters, Politically Incorrect, Rants on January 13th, 2009 by glennm

$345 billion later and CitiGroup wants yet another handout. Citi on Fire? [Forbes.com]. Let them fail, I say! It is way past time for this totally mismanaged, complete waste of taxpayer money to stop. Accounts are insured and it is most definitely not the responsibility of the US taxpayer to maintain the financial solvency of financial institutions, no matter how large. A little fiscal discipline from the marketplace may be just what those morons on Wall Street need, for some real change!

Posted via email from glenn's posterous

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What To Do Without Newspapers?

postedPosted in Business, Cyberspace, Media Matters, Tech Bytes on December 17th, 2008 by glennm

With increasingly frequent reports that American newspapers are in severe financial difficulty because of a rapid and accelerating shift of advertising revenue to other media outlets, it is fair to ask how citizens, investors and consumers will get their news in the next decade. Newspaper Ad Revenue Falls Nearly $2 Billion [Advertising Age].

Without a profitable newspaper industry, it is difficult to see that any of the re-purposed Web content offered online by those publishers can remain. After all, the trend is decidedly against online subscription content business models and, as has become clear, Internet traffic to news sites needs to be an order of magnitude greater in order to support positive advertising net revenues. Television networks like CNN and FoxNews offer a little, but the bulk of their content is a superficial summary of the prior day’s news cycle, drawn principally from newspapers. And without all those reporters, how are the blogosphere or GoogleNews going to function?  As the L.A. TImes asks in commentary, “How long can newspapers keep delivering the news?”

This problem is one that is indifferent to politics. Whether you like the supposedly liberal New York Times or conservative Wall Street Journal or something else, not even the newspapers with the widest circulation are making any money online. The Detroit Free Press’ recent discontinuation of most home delivery to focus on Internet distribution is a serious cry for help.  

So if the “paper-and-postage business” dies on the newspaper industry — which is where it certainly seems to be headed — where does that leave us? Without any serious defenders of the 1st Amendment and certainly lacking news organizations with the scale and resources to report on our increasingly interrelated world.  Newspapers indeed have to reinvent themselves or die, but it is not at all clear what they should come back as in their next business model iteration.

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Spitting in the Wind

postedPosted in Business, Money Matters, Rants on November 26th, 2008 by glennm

So the Federal Reserve has decided to donate yet another $800 billion to U.S. banks in a move dubbed “quantitative easing.” Bloomberg News calls it Spitting in the Wind. I call it madness. Throwing money at problems never worked for social problems and is unlikely to work for liquidity problems. The Fed can “urge” banks to lend all it wants, but so long as fear is the ultimate driver and lenders are able to hang onto this money, or use it for M&A deals, little is going to change. These guys are fumbling around in the dark. They’re lurching from one bonehead move to another, while doing everything wrong when the issue is confidence, not fundamentals.  

Why not try letting some of these institutions fail, since depositors are insured, and let stockholders — not taxpayers — take the hit?  Nah, that might be dubbed “socialism”!!  What do you call what’s been happening already?  As the Wall Street Journal observed, “in a year when many of the nation’s banks have effectively been nationalized by a Republican administration, “socialism” is very much in the eye of the beholder.” Will Obama Usher In a Socialist Economy?  I don’t want to own CitiBank, AIG and Bear Sterns, let alone General Motors. Neither should you, and certainly not through our government.

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Two Steps Back

postedPosted in Business, Money Matters, Politically Incorrect, Rants on November 12th, 2008 by glennm

Now the Treasury Department has backed away from using the $700 billion bailout fund passed by Congress to buy toxic mortgage assets as originally intended, and says it will focus instead on shoring up financial institutions with direct investments.  Wasn’t reducing exposure to devalued real estate mortgages the whole point?  What an absurd system, since as we now unfortunately know, the banks are just sitting on those billions and still not lending.

This is the Keystone Cops of financial oversight, IMHO.  And the bully pulpit crap just won’t work here.  Regulators to Banks: Get Off Your Butts and Lend [L.A. Times]

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Again AIG

postedPosted in Business, Money Matters, Politically Incorrect, Rants on November 10th, 2008 by glennm
We have already given AIG $113 billion (yes, with a “B”), and now the Treasury is proposing another $40 billion in the name of “stability.”  U.S. Provides More Aid to Big Insurer [NYTimes.com]. When will the fiscal discipline of the marketplace be imposed?  Consumers aren’t affected at all by AIG, and certainly do not care about credit default swaps.  So this is straight corporate welfare and very annoying.  Stop it already!
Update: Contrast this with the very controversial proposal to loan the embattled U.S. auto industry a whopping $25 billion, or less than 1/6th of what a single insurer has already been given, gratis.  It’s just insane.

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WTF

postedPosted in Business, Money Matters, Politically Incorrect, Rants on October 25th, 2008 by glennm

The $750 billion "rescue" plan passed by Congress was supposed to increase bank liquidity to ease the credit crunch and encourage commercial and mortgage lending. Instead, it has already turned into an M&A slush fund. Yesterday, PNC Bank announced that it is buying National City for $5.2 billion, financed by the sale of $7.7 billion in preferred stock to the U.S. Treasury. US Bail-Out Cash Buys Rival Bank [BBCNews]

What this means, pure and simple, is that we — American taxpayers — are now the financial backers paying for banking deal-making.  Despite what Paulson may say, it's yet another example of good intentions gone bad. There is no excuse at all for allowing bailout funds to be used for mergers & acquisitions. That does nothing help the mortgage or housing markets or to ameliorate the credit crisis. To top it off, PNC has made an all-cash deal. That's our money and I want it back!!

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