Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #291: Countdown

There are now only four days left.

All Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts.

Politics: Kiss My Ass, You Turkeys

Political Change? Prove it!
So practically everyone online has been in a self-congratulatory swoon since Election Day over the rout of the smug Republicans and the second coming of the virtuous Democrats.


Emphasis added by me.

I'm quoting something I posted November 12, 2006.

Where's all that change, you assholes?

Oh right, Obama will bring it.

Drop your pants and bend over for it.

David Rothman/Teleread: Heart Attack!

David has had a heart attack - recovering in the hospital
I was getting nervous because David hasn’t posted in so long, so I called him at home and his wife told me that he had a heart attack last Thursday night at about 10pm. Last Friday he had quadruple bypass surgery and is recovering. Evidently all 4 arteries were 90% blocked. David didn’t smoke and was primarily a vegitarian, but his wife said he has a family history of heart problems. She is hoping that he will be released from the hospital this Thursday.

Emphasis added by me.

I had wondered too. But I figured he had things going on.

Boy, did he!

Not Rothman's ticker

Previously here:

Your Important Question
Post-Death Medical Advice For Tim Russert
Get Your Heart Checked, Dammit!
R.I.P. Tim Russert

Sony Makes Stupid Mistake (Again!)

Declines to extend invite for me to blog about their Sony Reader press event this Thursday.

All I've got to say is this.

The Old Blog
Sony Reader Multi-Part Report Index
Sony Reader: Part 1 (of 4)
Sony Reader: Part 2 (of 4)
Sony Reader: Part 3 (of 4)
Sony Reader: Part 4 (of 4)

This Blog (WordPress primary blog)
Sony category

Now, Sony, add up all my words.

Then add up all the coverage generated on Thursday evening and Friday.

Compared the wordage.

Then subtract all the eejit of Thursday and Friday coverage that disdains the Sony Reader against the Kindle or plain still doesn't fucking understand the Sony Reader.

And you call yourselves PR experts?

Still time for Sony to learn: What Was Your ROS*, Palm?

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #290: WTF?

Another personal interjection.

The Asian market did not have a bloodbath overnight.

Nor did Europe.

And the DJIA here in the U.S. did not go down the 805 points I felt it would today. It recouped more than half of what it lost yesterday, in terms of points.

Frankly, my head is spinning now.

The new drumbeat -- it began last week, but has gotten louder since the FAILout -- is Mark-to-Market rules set up in the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation.

If the advocates of rescinding a provision of that Act are to be believed, this is what's preventing the "price discovery" Treasury Secretary Paulson has stated is essential.

Further, if that rule change was made, there would be no need for the proposed $700B bailout.

Yeah, WTF?!

What Wall Street did today was shoot itself in the foot. After yesterday, people were shaken. Now it's as if yesterday we watched someone jump out a window, bounce off an awning, slide to the pavement -- and today the guy jumps to his feet, dusts himself off, and slowly walks away as if nothing happened!

But wait! What about all that talk of cataclysm?! What did Warren Buffett say? (Hey, where's Warren Buffett today?!) What did Paulson want to do? And what did Greenspan say again?

And wait wait wait! Didn't Wall Street also do this acrobatic recovery recently? Yes.

So what the hell is going on here?

Credit markets -- especially interbank overnight lending -- remain frozen. Essentially dead. Central banks all over have become the tit from which they're all sucking now.

How long can that continue? When do they get weaned?

And what does this mean for all of us?

Stay tuned.

There's still Asia tonight, Europe overnight, and Wall Street again tomorrow.

And tomorrow -- October 1st -- we'll see if this rumor is true or not.

I'm still sticking with my Countdown: Four days left.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #289: Limbaugh

Talk radio holds firm over "socialist" bailout
"I shouldn't say this, but I'm going to say it anyway. Screw the market! .... OK, I'll take that back, not screw the market but let me tell you something," conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said as part of his analysis of Monday's events.

"When the government fails to pass a socialism bill and the market goes south, let it go south. I don't want to pass a socialism bill just to protect the stock market," said Limbaugh, by far the most popular host on U.S. radio.

Still deaf. And getting richer from the "socialism" of our airwaves.

Previously here:

Nader: Rush Limbaugh Is On Welfare!
Goofball America-Hating Conservatism
I Just Threw Up In My Mouth Again!
I Just Threw Up In My Mouth!
Welcome To Limbaughland

Writer Cliff Burns: The Fear Of All Fears

On Despair

The Horse’s Mouth

A Fine Madness

Previously here:

R.I.P. Writer David Foster Wallace
Quote: Writer Thomas M. Disch
The Final Internet Words Of Writer Thomas M. Disch
R.I.P.: Writer Thomas M. Disch

Writer Mitzi Szereto: Yob World

The Things You See When You Haven’t Got Your Gun

You just know I'm simpatico with that blog post title.

Writer Melanie Phillips: The Multicult Cult

Planet Equality and the eclipse of nation
In the name of multiculturalism, he said, Britain had done something terrible to itself. It had downplayed British cultural identity, leaving long-standing inhabitants fearful and new immigrants alienated, creating a vacuum ripe for exploitation by extremists.

His warning could not be more timely or appropriate. Multiculturalism and its allied doctrines of human rights and anti-discrimination are acting as a kind of corrosive acid eating away at our institutions, values and national identity.

A great post. It's time we all stood up to this sabotage by the "sensitive."

Leech Off Canadian Radio!

Skip wave reception sometimes allowed me to hear old radio shows from a Canadian radio station. Last night it happened again and this time I noted the station.

It's AM900 CHML in Hamilton, Ontario. Not only does it play -- ad free! -- Old Time Radio shows at night, but there's a section on their website where some can be streamed for free. That's, I think, in addition to live streaming.

Have a look:

Click = big

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #288: A Laugh!

I'm ignoring the economy until this afternoon. After the manic start of this morning, the depressive swing will begin in the afternoon.

In the meantime, let's all have a laugh!

Along with six billion other humans you were forced to rethink your life plan as one set of bastards rejected a bail-out for another set of bastards because they were worried about losing their seats when a third set of bastards goes to the polls in November.

-- via Twitter from reddit

Reference: Print To Online

The economics of moving from print to online: lose one hundred, get back eight
Let’s kill a myth. The dream of a compact newsroom, able to output a high-intensity general news website doesn’t fly. Numbers simply don’t add up. And here is why.

The cruelty of accounting and simple math again.

An article in which the basic principles can be applied to many labor-intensive efforts that try to move to the web (for instance, TV).

Red Headlines For September 30, 2008

Only two newspaper covers need red banners to point out the financial areas:

The New York Post chooses to kiss the ass of Bloomberg the Public Library Ripper (NYPL is always a favorite target of his budget cuts; he is like the Anti-Carnegie):

The New York Times goes full-page, something I think they last did for 9/11:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #287: Countdown

There are now only five days left.

All Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #286: $1.4T

CNBC: $1.4 trillion in market value lost today.

That's about $1.8 billion per stock market point.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #285: YOU

This is what you should be told on TV. This is what none of you have considered.

How the failure to pass the bailout will inevitably and inexorably affect you:

1) Your credit card will be canceled without warning

2) No credit card could mean no cellphone (you do have a landline phone, right?)

3) No credit card could mean a crash-course in cash-only, which many people simply cannot do -- especially those newly unemployed -- and for you techies: say goodbye to your PayPal account!

4) Your insurance rates will go up: car, home, small business, medical

5) If you run a business, you will not be able to meet payroll

6) If you are an employee of such a business, good luck meeting your bills -- especially if your credit card is gone

7) Certain goods will become scarce or very expensive because oceanic shipping companies cannot get the loans they need to operate

8) Certain goods will become scarce or very expensive because domestic truckers will go out of business due to lack of credit

9) If your daily needs have been run via credit card, say goodbye to your Internet, cable TV, pay TV, etc.

10) Expect utilities to hammer down on overdue payments

11) Your local government will curtail services as well as greatly increase fees, such as tolls and licenses

12) You will encounter people asking you for money all the time. Not just on the street, but people ahead of you in line in a store who "come up short."

Those are just twelve things. Off the top of my head.

At some point, someone will do a comprehensive article. Maybe then you'll believe.

I've already covered what happens beyond that: American Gotterdammerung.

All Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #284: EuroZone 2

I want you to notice just how rapidly things are deteriorating. Four days ago in Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #241: EuroZone, I quoted:
“The situation we face here in Europe is less acute and member states do not at this point consider that a US style plan is needed,” said Joaquin Almunia, the EU’s economics commissioner, in a tense session at the European Parliament.

That is now thoroughly null and void. Here's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in one of his longest columns, listing crisis after crisis in Europe: Banking crash hits Europe as ECB loses traction

Choice excerpts:
Analysts say German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck may have spoken too soon when he crowed last week that the US would lose its status as a superpower as a result of this crisis. He told Der Spiegel yesterday that we are "all staring into the abyss".

Emphasis added by me.

Carsten Brzenski, chief economist at ING in Brussels, said the global crisis was now engulfing Europe with devastating speed.

"We are at imminent risk of a credit crunch. Key markets are not functioning properly. The Europeans thought the sub-prime crisis was just American rubbish that the US should clean up itself, but now they are finding out that it is their rubbish too," he said.

Data from the IMF shows that European banks hold 75pc as much exposure to toxic US housing debt as US banks themselves. Moreover they have mounting bad debts from the British, Spanish, French, Dutch, Scandinavian, and East European housing markets, where property bubbles reached even more extreme levels that in the US.

Emphasis added by me.

Like an out of control treadmill, things are going faster than anyone expected.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #283: Asia #1

This is what Asian markets looked like Before Monday:

Click = big

This is what happened to Asia while I slept overnight in NYC:

As I type this, still over an hour to go before Asia opens for Tuesday.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #282: eRuns

The bank runs won't be televised.

And when they are, it will be too late to get any cash.

This is from Nouriel Roubini's blog: The US and global financial crisis is becoming much more severe in spite of the Treasury rescue plan. The risk of a total systemic meltdown is now as high as ever
The next step of this panic could become the mother of all bank runs, i.e. a run on the trillion dollar plus of the cross border short-term interbank liabilities of the US banking and financial system as foreign banks as starting to worry about the safety of their liquid exposures to US financial institutions; such a silent cross border bank run has already started as foreign banks are worried about the solvency of US banks and are starting to reduce their exposure. And if this run accelerates - as it may now - a total meltdown of the US financial system could occur. We are thus now in a generalized panic mode and back to the risk of a systemic meltdown of the entire financial system. And US and foreign policy authorities seem to be clueless about what needs to be done next. Maybe they should today start with a coordinated 100 bps reduction in policy rates in all the major economies in the world to show that they are starting to seriously recognize and address this rapidly worsening financial crisis.

Emphasis added by me.

There's a factor I never considered. Who will have first priority on funds by virtue of being fastest? Those ginormous banks. And we won't even know that such runs have taken place. Until it's too late.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #281: Your Card 2

American Express Randomly Cut My Credit Limit From $25,000 to $1,800
Reader Pierre is a small business owner who has an American Express Business Account that used to have a $25,000 limit, but has now been cut to $1,800. He says his company's bill is usually around $12,000 a month, and it is always paid in full — on time. While Pierre is clearly upset with American Express, the Wall Street Journal says that all banks are cutting access to credit.

That is very strange, to go after business customers first. Perhaps they are trying to equalize the pain?

Credit cards: the next crisis?

My advice: If you have to use your card, use it now. But don't use it foolishly. Even if you get cut off, you won't be off the hook. Your debt will be sold to a collection agency. Do not further damage your credit score.

Previously here:

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #280: CapOne
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #273: Your Card
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #247: Plastic

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #280: CapOne

One of the stocks that lagged in closing was Capital One.

All of us have seen their credit card TV ads.

Capital One Financial Corp. (COF)

I'm not going to pretend I can parse that information. I just want to point out two things:

1) What it lost today
2) Its 52-week low

If it got that low in the past 52 weeks, why couldn't it get there again? Especially with this fast-deteriorating situation.

And there is this hanging over it now too: Form 8-K for CAPITAL ONE FINANCIAL CORP, in which they planned to offer 14 million shares at $49/share. Their current stock price is below that. Oops.

Previously here:

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #273: Your Card
Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #247: Plastic

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #279: -777.68

An hour before the closing bell, I had an intuition the close would be a loss of 777 points.

I watched it snap back into the upper 500s, then when the closing bell rang, Maria Bartiromo of CNBC announced it closed at 611.


It kept going. And going. And sinking.

To that 777!

My intuition now tells me the Dow will close below 10,000 tomorrow, at 9,56x, for at least an 805-point loss.

Maybe that would convince Congress of the urgency of our situation.

As I type this, Asian markets open in about 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Bloodbath ahead.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #278: D.O.A.

The New York Daily News website:

The New York Post website:

The New York Times website:

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #277: FAILout

Composite. Click = big.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #276: Stall

It did a 300-point U-turn as I sat and watched.

Right now, the House of Representatives has failed to pass the bailout bill.

But, in a weird tangle of rules it seems only our elected officials can get away with, the timer going to zero means squat. The vote count is finished only when the Speaker bangs the gavel.

That gavel has not yet banged.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #276: Freeze

Central banks redouble efforts to save bank system
NEW YORK/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The world's central banks redoubled their efforts on Monday to revive the paralyzed global financial system through massive injections of cash.

To counteract a world financial crisis emanating from last year's mortgage meltdown in the United States, the Federal Reserve announced a $330 billion expansion of arrangements to boost U.S. dollar liquidity throughout the global financial system.

The action increases the reciprocal swap lines with the European Central Bank and eight other central banks to $620 billion from $290 billion previously, the Fed said in a statement.

The Fed announcement came after European and Asian central banks had already been busy pumping more money into sclerotic banking systems on Monday, in an effort to persuade financial firms to stop hoarding cash, which threatens to bring down global economy.

"They are throwing billions around, but things seem to be getting worse. They are throwing everything they can at the problem but nothing seems to be working," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.

"There's a monster amount of fear out there. This is global contagion, it's no longer just the United States."

The efforts also show the heightened tensions in bank-to-bank lending markets as the approaching end of the financial quarter compounds the scramble for cash.

Emphasis added by me.


So now we have another factor here: They're all trying to cover their asses for public reporting requirements!

One of the factors I just mentioned in Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #273: Your Card:
3) Clean balance sheets are king

Meanwhile, the world's financial system appeared to be edging closer to collapse by the day, authorities in Europe and the United States struggling keep banks afloat with injections of cash, nationalizations and mergers of necessity.

Emphasis added by me.

Do all of you get it yet? How many times must it be reported that the entire global system of finance is on the brink of utter ruination?

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #275: Euros

Banks flood Europe with cash
EU's central bank launches special operations, Bank of England enacts $10B tender, Swiss National Bank offers auction at 1.85% to stem trouble.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- The European Central Bank said Monday it launched a special operation to provide more cash to banks in the euro zone as the financial meltdown's tendrils enveloped banks in Britain, the Benelux and Germany.

At the same time, the Bank of England launched a $10 billion overnight tender Monday which was oversubscribed by more than $3 billion by 10 bidders, indicating demand for credit exceeded supply.

In Zurich, the Swiss National Bank said it had offered markets a one-week auction at 1.85% and would continue to provide liquidity in a "generous and flexible manner," its standard communication, without further details.

Emphasis added by me.

In a normal world, banks lend money to one another all the time. This is how the credit market works.

In this abnormal world, banks now refuse to lend to one another and are borrowing money from all of us.

Do you think the government is watching as closely as it needs to, in order to model the consequences to all of us if bank after bank fails with no funds to repay?

Stop and think about what is going on here.

We are simultaneously bailing out the greedy bastards to save our own necks while tightening the noose around our own necks!

This is absolutely upside down.

In the next iteration of the financial markets, value must flow from the bottom, not from the top.

I'm reminded of a passage from a book I read ten years ago, Global Squeeze: The Coming Crisis for First-World Nations by Richard C. Longworth:
What is the purpose of an economy? If it is not solely for the well-being of the people who live within it, what is an economy for?

Emphasis added by me.

So, what is the purpose of an economy?

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #274: Iceland

Iceland seizes troubled Glitnir bank
Glitnir, threatened by collapse, is nationalized by Iceland's government, which buys a 75% stake for $878M.
REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) -- The Icelandic government said Monday that it has taken control of the struggling Glitnir bank, marking the first major banking nationalization for the country in the current turmoil.

The government said it bought a 75% stake in Glitnir, the country's third largest bank, for €600 million euros ($878 million) to ensure broader market stability after it suffered liquidity issues.

Central Bank of Iceland chairman David Oddsson said that Glitnir, which has operations in 10 countries, would have collapsed if the authorities had not intervened.

Emphasis added by me.

You wonder: Iceland? WTF?

Here's the explanation, in a prior post: Iceland: Greed Capital Of The World?

As much as people want to point to the United States as being a plague upon the global financial markets, it's clear that just about the entire financial world went on a decades-long spree of greed.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #273: Your Card

BoA to close credit cards for approximately 60% of customers?

This is sheer rumor.

But I have to say that it makes sense to me.

Recently: Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #247: Plastic
What’s particularly ominous to me, is that earlier this week during the live televised hearings of Paulson and Bernanke, one of the representatives asked, “And what’s next? I’ve heard the next crisis is credit cards.”

It doesn't take much thinking to realize that if a bank is seeing "stress" (that's the new word) on their billings, they would take steps to prevent more of that happening.

So the solution would be amputating cardholders. And since these businesses have rankings for cardholders, it again only makes sense that they'd do it according to that formula.

I wouldn't want to be one of those people in a supermarket on Wednesday -- the October 1 date this is supposed to happen -- with a cart full of food for stocking up suddenly finding out their survival stock is no longer available to them.

If Bank of America does this, others will follow. It will indicate several things:

1) Cash is king
2) Liquidity is king
3) Clean balance sheets are king

Liquidity means more than sitting on cash on hand. It's the stock of funds used for whatever loans they need to service from their highest-rated customers. But if the tubes of credit remain clogged, it becomes the stock of funds needed to hedge against customer runs on the bank. Something that is guaranteed once word of credit cards being killed makes its way onto the Net.

Bank of America will try to sell this bad debt -- at discount -- to clean their balance sheets.

And as for Bank of America, let me remind all of you of the shit they tried to pull not too long ago. I posted about it in my old blog and screamed bloody murder about it:
BofA aims new credit card at illegal immigrants: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp. has begun offering credit cards to customers without Social Security numbers, typically illegal immigrants, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The two links for the articles are dead, but this is independent confirmation of that program.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #272: Countdown

There are now only six days left.

All Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #271: GM

General Motors stock in just one year:

52-Week High (10/12/2007): 43.20
52-Week Low (07/15/2008) 8.81

Half of me wants to be gleeful because of the smugness of the bastards for decades.

Then the other half of me realizes this stock's drop is going to impact -- has already impacted -- lots of retirement accounts.

Our system is one of mutual hostage-taking.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #270: Fortis Falls

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #253: Fortis -- less than 36 hours after posting that, Fortis fell.

Huge European bank fails
European financial giant Fortis partially nationalized. Three governments to pour 11.2 billion euro ($16.4 billion) into the bank.
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Dutch-Belgian bank and insurance giant Fortis NV was given a 11.2 billion euro ($16.4 billion) lifeline to avert insolvency as part of a wider bailout plan agreed to by Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, officials said Sunday.

Belgium's Prime Minister Yves Leterme said the bailout shows account holders and investors that Fortis will not be allowed to fall victim to the global credit crisis.

Leterme announced the deal after weekend talks between the three countries, European Union and national banking officials.

The deal will force the bank -- which has headquarters in both Brussels and the Dutch city of Utrecht -- to sell its stake in Dutch bank ABN Amro, which it partially took over last year. Fortis paid 24 billion euros for its share of ABN.

Emphasis added by me.

Under the bailout, Belgium will invest 4.7 billion euros ($6.88 billion) and the Netherlands 4 billion euros ($5.86 billion) in Fortis' banking operations in the two countries. In return, they each receive 49 percent ownership in those national arms of the bank.

Luxembourg will invest 2.7 billion euros ($3.95 billion) in the bank's Luxembourg operations, also for a 49 percent stake.

The deal, orchestrated by the three neighboring countries and EU Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet, is meant to restore confidence in the bank before the reopening of markets on Monday after a tumultuous week in which Fortis' shares imploded.

Emphasis added by me.

I'm wondering what that news is like for Europeans. It is like our A.I.G.? Or is it like CitiGroup? Either way, it can't be good and can only add to the jitters over there, which is falling into recession fast.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #269: Video 1

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

In the early 1980s, I came across a shocking and extraordinary book called American Pictures by Jacob Holdt. I thought I knew what being poor was. The photographs in that book -- taken in the 1970s! -- opened my eyes to even lower levels of Hell on earth.

Poor whites in Mississippi
Poor whites I always found the hardest to photograph -- at least in the USA where they have deeply internalized the prevailing American philosophy -- that you are yourself to be blamed for your own misery. Thus they are also robbed of the dignity and pride characterizing the poor in other countries.

There's an online version of the book.

Chapter nine:
What soon came to interest me most was not the dead bodies, but the live ones -– people in whom everything was extinct.

These exhausted wretches, who earlier had managed to survive by working hard seven days a week like the other slave workers, had slowly succumbed and were now just lying and waiting to die.

For some people, it's still the Great Depression.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #268: Asia B.M.

I guess Asian markets still don't open for another 45 minutes (7PM EDST). I grabbed this Before Monday snapshot from Yahoo Finance.

Click = big

CNBC is in another hour of infomercials. A promo stated financial programming won't resume until 8PM EDST. And it looked like a taped program. That doesn't seem right to me. We'll see.

My Reaction To Sanctuary

Someone whose name I've forgotten after the trauma mentioned Sanctuary on Twitter.

Sanctuary was pointed to at Sci-Fi Channel's site. Unfortunately, the propellerhead who did their site stuck so much frikkin Flash on one page that I couldn't get to the video to play!

So, like everyone else, I went to YouTube.

Within five minutes of episode one, I wanted to bail. It annoyed me slightly less than Gemini Division (which made me want to die after five minutes!), so I stuck with it.

I made it to episode three, then it all hit the fan:

You'll notice I haven't provided any links to the two web series I've mentioned here.

This is called revenge.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #267: Greenspan

The evolution of Alan Greenspan:

January 30, 2008: Does Greenspan Have Alzheimer’s?
The former Fed chief put the chances of a US recession at 50 percent, but added: “We have few indications that would allow us to say we are already there.”

July 31, 2008: Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #181
July 31 (Bloomberg) — Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said falling U.S. home prices are “nowhere near the bottom” and the resulting market turmoil isn’t showing signs of abating.

While the odds of a recession are 50-50, achieving stable markets will “take a while,” Greenspan said today in a CNBC interview.

But he did warn:
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest sources of money for U.S. home loans, are a “major accident waiting to happen,” Greenspan said. “The solution” is the “nationalization” of the companies, he said.

That happened early September to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

September 14, 2008: Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #194
Alan Greenspan also described the banking crisis as the worst of his career and possibly the worst in a century including the 1929 Wall Street crash.

‘There’s no question that this is in the process of outstripping anything I’ve seen, and it still is not resolved and it still has a way to go,’ he said.

September 26, 2008: Greenspan Calls for Action on Financial Crisis
The U.S. economy is in the grip of the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression.

It only took him nine freaking months to catch up to me.

I would have more quotes from him, but he tended to stay quiet for months and months.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #266: Buffett

Buffett warns Congress
Lawmakers face "biggest financial meltdown in American history" if they don't act.
(New York) -- Legendary investor Warren Buffett warned Congressional leaders Saturday night of "the biggest financial meltdown in American history" if they did not act to secure the financial system.

Buffett, by telephone, was consulted by lawmakers who were in marathon talks on Capitol Hill to forge a deal on the administration's $700 billion economic bailout plan, according to two sources.

Emphasis added by me.

Hey, now the guy all of you money idolators worship has said it.

He's singing the tune I've been singing for nine-plus months.

Who's right now?

All Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts. Your final weekend to read.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #265: Flow

Credit freeze and your paycheck
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Is it even harder now for businesses to get credit from banks? No question.

Does that mean that the American economy will crumble within weeks if the government's $700 billion bailout of Wall Street doesn't pass? No telling.

In the wake of last week's demise of Lehman Brothers and last-minute government bailout of American International Group, the credit markets have all but frozen. What this means for businesses is that they are having a tougher time just getting funding even for their day-to-day operations, never mind securing loans for expansion projects.

While the credit crunch is more than a year old already, two things have changed in recent weeks. First, investors have cut off a major financing source of large corporations by shying away from buying their commercial paper, or ultra short-term debt.

Also, since banks are now holding onto their money even more, they are either not extending lines of credit to companies or are instituting more onerous terms. Businesses of all sizes depend on this funding to buy supplies and inventory, make payroll and extend credit to customers while waiting for payments to come in.

Most businesses don't keep much cash on hand. They rely on banks' lines of credit to cover them until they get paid by their customers.

What does that mean for companies and their employees? Economists are divided, with some predicting dire consequences and others saying most can weather the financial storm for now.

Emphasis added by me.

I've already shown the disastrous effects of bank closings on small businesses.

We've been told time and again, by every politician: small business is the backbone of job creation.

If that backbone can't get credit it requires for daily operations?

It gets broken.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #264: Model T

The T this time thankfully doesn't mean trillion! It's the Ford Model T.

Model T: the car that shaped America turns 100
Ford's iconic Model T was built for the common man and began to transform the American landscape soon after it first rolled out of a Detroit factory a hundred years ago this week.

This is important:
Henry Ford's moving assembly line revolutionized manufacturing and his decision to double the wages of factory workers set a new standard that helped swell the ranks of the middle class.

Emphasis added by me.

A lesson for eBooks here:
The Model T's low price and easy handling made it an instant winner when it hit the market on October 1, 1908. Ford temporarily halted sales in May of 1909 because every vehicle scheduled for production through July had been sold.

But Henry Ford was not satisfied: he was obsessed with finding ways to cut costs and improve productivity.

The first Model T sold for 825 dollars. By 1925, it was cost[ing] only 260 dollars.

Emphasis added by me.
The assembly line was exhausting and repetitive work that turned people into machines. Workers quit so often that Ford had to hire 963 men in 1913 in order to expand the workforce by 100, Casey wrote in 'The Model T."

"What they finally found worked was just pay people a whole lot more and make this new kind of work which was relentless and tiring rewarding in another way," Casey said in a telephone interview.

In January 1914 Ford found a solution: he more than doubled the wages of plant employee, offering them a five dollar, eight hour day.

"The other auto makers realized they'd have to adopt some of these methods," Casey said. "They also had to adopt Ford's pay scales."

Wages soon rose at plants across the country and Ford was able to create a new market for his automobile as unskilled laborers finally earned enough to buy them.

Emphasis added by me.

I cited the lesson of Henry Ford before.

What irony that a hundred years after his revolution, we're on the brink of the end it all.

Maybe because we forgot the lesson he taught us. Near three decades of "luxury" items targeting a sociopathic vanity market and subsistence wages for everyone else has led to the shit we're in.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #263: Houston

See what life was like for someone in Houston, post-Gustav, without electricity for two weeks: beginning again

Survival advice (lite!) for American Gotterdammerung.

-- via Twitter from CPhillips0923

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #262: CDARS

Life after your bank fails
For small businesses with six-figure sums socked away, a bank failure can be a devastating blow.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- When recruiting consultant Fran Quittel heard on her car radio one Friday afternoon in July that her bank, IndyMac, had been seized by federal regulators, she was surprised but unworried. An IndyMac customer for five years, Quittel had both personal accounts and business accounts at the bank, but she was confident her accounts contained less than the $100,000 insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

But as Quittel delved into her banking details that weekend, she got an unexpected shock. Her business savings account was temporarily sheltering a chunk of funds awaiting deposit into her 401(k), and her business checking account still contained the money for an uncashed payroll check. The combination pushed the total stored in her business accounts over $100,000 - and when federal regulators closed IndyMac, Quittel immediately lost access to a portion of her uninsured funds.

The ABA also recommends that small companies consider tapping CDARS, a five-year-old system designed to offer FDIC protection for amounts far greater than the standard $100,000 limit.

CDARS, which stands for Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service, is a financial service created by the Promontory Interfinancial Network in Arlington, Va. CDARS works by farming out large deposits across multiple banks within its network. Funds are then invested incrementally in multiple CDs, with no single bank holding more than $100,000. If any individual bank fails - as several CDARS members have - the CDs it holds will be of a low enough value to be fully covered by the FDIC.

CDARS is free to depositors, and can insure deposits of up to $50 million. Member banks pay a one-time fee to join the network and thereafter pay transaction fees on the funds they pass through CDARS. Most of the network's 2,500 banks are small community banks - the average asset base of members is $250 million, according to Mark Jacobsen, president and COO of Promontory Interfinancial Network.

Businesses make up the bulk of CDARS customers, accounting for 37% of its volume. Individuals, public entities like local governments, and banks themselves are also major customers.

Emphasis added by me.

Quittel is hardly alone in being caught out: 10,000 depositors at IndyMac had uninsured deposits, totaling $1 billion. More broadly, about 37% of the $7.07 trillion on deposit with U.S. banks at the end of 2008's first quarter is uninsured, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data reported to the FDIC.

Emphasis added by me.

Trillions uninsured!

If you own a small business that has more than $100,000 in deposits, click the link to be led to CDARS.

It's not fail-safe in a crisis like we're facing, but it's better than relying on the FDIC.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #261: Hours

WikiAnswers with the, uh, answer:
What time do asian markets open?

The Tokyo markets typically open at 7:00 pm New York time. The Singapore and Hong Kong markets open at 9:00 p.m. New York time.

The first market to open for the week is on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. New York time, when trading begins in Sydney, Australia.

Australia can be ignored. It's Asia that's critical.

This means Congress has to agree and vote by 7PM EDST tonight.

It's 10:30AM EDST as I type this. That leaves eight and a half hours.

Unless the one-hour DST addition we do screws things up. In which case, seven and a half hours.


Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #260: Warning

Bailout failure 'will cause US crash’
The financial system could face a meltdown of 1929 proportions unless US politicians succeed in their efforts for a $700bn rescue scheme, experts added.

The warning came as Republicans and Democrats met in Washington for a rare weekend debating session to attempt to seal agreement on the contentious plan, aimed at preventing a long-lasting recession in the US.

Officials close to Paulson are privately painting a far bleaker portrait of the fragility of the global economy than that advanced by President George W Bush in his televised address last week.

One Republican said that the message from government officials is that “the economy is dropping into the john.” He added: “We could see falls of 3,000 or 4,000 points on the Dow [the New York market that currently trades at around 11,000]. That could happen in just a couple of days.

“What’s being put around behind the scenes is that we’re looking at 1930s stuff. We’re looking at catastrophe, huge, amazing catastrophe. Everybody is extraordinarily scared. It’s going to be really, really nasty.”

Emphasis added by me.

What have I been screaming for the past nine-plus months, goddammit?!

London investors have warned that the FTSE could suffer falls of as much as 1,000 points - a fifth of its value, if the deal falls through.

Peter Spencer, economic adviser to the Ernst & Young Item Club, said: “This is the time you have to bail people out and ask questions later. It is very difficult to see how the US banking system would survive without that. This has the potential to make 1929 look like a walk in the park.

Emphasis added by me.

Oh, there will be people will will now laugh their asses off because I will cite a TV series, but all this week a line from the first episode of Space:1999 has been running through my head:
Now we're sitting on the biggest bomb man's ever made.

And looking at the script, there's a line for those fifty-eight percent who doubt any consequences:
You don't seem to understand. We're sitting on top of it, there is no chance.

We will all of us find out soon enough.

All Chronicles of Depression 2.0 posts. Your final weekend to read.

Blog Notes: Collapse Warning

I'm bracing myself for this week.

Most of the posts will likely be Chronicles of Depression 2.0 one right after the other, for several days running. News is going to move so damned fast. I'll do this probably until things reach the point where I can't do it any longer (because of external analog-world events, like having to do a supermarket run at the last minute, or, in this digital world, the Internet itself melting down).

If that's not your cup of tea, well, you have fair warning now.

I suggest Following me on Twitter. Although I didn't plan to do this, I'm now using it to post a link to each new post. That way, you can skip the economic ones and cherry-pick the very rare writing or eBooks or -- even rarer now -- tech posts.

I hoped for over nine months to avoid this. This topic went from being an irregular undercurrent of this blog to something that now overwhelms everything else.

One last thing: no matter what the hell happens, I still intend to break away from the keyboard around 9PM EDST and sleep. While that's still possible.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #259: Countdown

There are now only seven days left.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #258: Fear

I've watched the economy for 30 years. Now I'm truly scared
If more people understood what has happened in the British and American banking system, the financial crisis would only be containable by the immediate partial nationalisation of every bank in Britain and America. There was not a run on the banks by depositors queuing in the streets to withdraw their savings. Rather, it was an escalating and terrifying run on the banks in effect by themselves, which, if it spread to millions of small savers, would reproduce the events of 1929.

In Britain, the money markets that the banks organise between themselves completely froze. Such was the break down in trust and sense of panic that some of the most familiar names in British high street banking would not lend to each other at all or, at best, just overnight. Instead, the Bank of England had to supply tens of billions to banks who found the normal sources of funds blocked.

I have been writing on the financial markets for nearly 30 years. I have known the system was becoming increasingly fragile, but for all the ferocity of my criticisms, I never expected the scale of today's events. Or that I would begin to wonder whether my own bank would survive without nationalisation. The negotiations in Washington over this weekend to finalise the $700bn Paulson financial bail-out plan, and the expected vote on Sunday, are all that stands between the Anglo-American banking system and a first-order disaster. The scheme had better work.

Emphasis added by me.

At the time I'm typing this, it is approaching 8:45PM EDST.

I think the Congress has less than 24 hours to approve and pass the Paulson bailout.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #257: Suicide

Credit crunch banker leaps to his death in front of express train
The City was in shock last night after the apparent suicide of a millionaire financier haunted by the pressures of dealing with the credit crunch.

Kirk Stephenson, who was married with an eight-year-old son, died in the path of a 100mph express train at Taplow railway station, Berkshire.

Mr Stephenson is believed to have taken his own life after succumbing to mounting personal pressures as the world’s financial markets went into meltdown.

Emphasis added by me.

After eating breakfast on Thursday with his wife and their young son Lucas, Mr Stephenson drove to Taplow station, left his car in the car park and crossed a footbridge over the main First Great Western Plymouth to Paddington line.

Out of view of passengers on the platform, he is then said by witnesses to have leapt in front of a high-speed train.

The driver sounded his horn and slammed on the brakes but was unable to stop in time. The train came to a standstill a mile down the track.

What did I say earlier: Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #245: Humans

I can't get into this guy's head. Only he knows what he was thinking. But it's probably a safe bet to say that if the financial world had not been crashing around him, he'd still be here.

How many others will succumb as he did?

And will you?

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #256

Treasury to nationalise B&B bank
Troubled bank Bradford & Bingley is to be nationalised, the BBC has learned.
Officials from the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) have been in talks with executives from the bank in a bid to secure its future.

BBC News business editor Robert Peston says the Treasury will almost instantaneously sell to a bank, or a number of banks.

B&B's share price has plummeted and it has announced plans to cut 370 jobs due to the downturn in the mortgage market.

The bank will be nationalised using special legislation the Treasury put through when it took Northern Rock into public ownership earlier this year.

B&B's £50bn of loans, including £41bn of home mortgages, will not be sold and will be nationalised on a long-term basis.

Bank failure after bank failure.

And yet 58% disbelieve.

Book Covers: Murder

These have all been cropped for this post. Click each link to see the original.

Murder at a Police Station
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Murder in the Stacks
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Red is for Murder
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Murder for the Millions: A Harvest of Horror and Homicide
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Murder Inc.
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Previously here:

eBooks: More About Covers
eBooks: A Cover Test

Reference: Leona Dare

Acrobats: Leona Dare
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Picture History:
Leona Dare (1855-1922)

Leona Dare was a Spanish-American acrobat and aerialist in circuses. She also appeared in the Folies Bergere. She was famously portrayed in a Jules Chevet poster of 1891.

Reference: Absalom's Pillar

Pillar of Absolom, Jerusalem, 1857
Image from NYPL Digital Gallery, The New York Public Library

Wikipedia: Yad Avshalom
For centuries, it was the custom among passersby -- Jews, Christians and Muslims -- to throw stones at the monument. Residents of Jerusalem would bring their unruly children to the site to teach them what became of a rebellious son.

Reference: Omaha Race Riot of 1919

Wikipedia: Omaha Race Riot of 1919

Absolutely gruesome photos.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #255: Jackals

Predatory capitalism shown stark naked at last:

Wachovia Suitors May Delay Bidding After Dimon's Deal for WaMu
Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Wachovia Corp.'s suitors may use a template honed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon last week: Wait to see whether regulators will seize the bank, then buy the best assets and let the government sort out the rest, according to analysts.

Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Banco Santander SA are in talks with Wachovia, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. They're part of the same group that passed on a chance to buy Washington Mutual Inc., which the U.S. closed two days ago, leaving JPMorgan to buy WaMu for $1.9 billion, a fraction of its previous offer in March.

The bidders may try that tactic again at Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia following its 27 percent plunge in New York trading yesterday, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Egan-Jones Ratings Co. They may get help from regulators, who said the U.S. benefited from seizing and selling WaMu because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. didn't have to tap its $45 billion insurance fund.

"WaMu's takeover has proven that there's an easy way, if the FDIC is involved," said Sean Egan, president of Egan-Jones in Haverford, Pennsylvania. "You kick the hell out of the equity holders and bondholders. That may be the new model for bank takeovers."

Emphasis added by me.

"Equity holders" -- the shareholders these bastards hide behind at their own companies to justify their crimes.

And then when they've gorged and gorged and gorged, they become Too Big To Fail and we have to bail out these financial sociopaths.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #254: Poll

On this final "normal" weekend, before everything changes irreparably forever, this poll is scary:

Fifty-eight percent think it will self-heal or it's all talk.

Some Cheap Google Vanity

I needed a break from Doom (the economics, not the game; oh there's more coming!), so I did the Narcissus bit with Google:

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #253: Fortis

According to wikipedia:
Fortis (Euronext: FORA, Euronext: FORB, LuxSE: FOR) is a banking, insurance, and investment management company, and is the 20th largest business in the world by revenue. The Benelux countries are Fortis' home base and its strength. Fortis' banking operations include network (retail), commercial, and merchant banking; its insurance products include life, health, and property/casualty lines. Products are sold through independent agents and brokers, financial planners, and through Fortis Bank branches. It is listed on the Euronext Brussels, Euronext Amsterdam, and Luxembourg stock exchanges.

Emphasis added by me.

Is it the European A.I.G.?

European Officials Hold Weekend Talks on Fortis
European financial authorities are holding discussions over the future of Fortis this weekend, while the troubled Belgian-Dutch financial group is seeking to close key divestments deals.

As of Saturday, financial authorities were contacting other institutions, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, although no particular solution was preferred and nothing concrete was likely to emerge before Sunday.

Fortis investors face a weekend of uncertainty after the banking and insurance group went out of its way on Friday to reassure them that it was solvent and in no danger of collapse following market talk the company could become another casualty of the credit crisis.

Emphasis added by me.
Fortis is hoping to announce deals to sell off parts of its business by Monday in an attempt to show investors it can raise cash and restore confidence in the business, while buyers for the business may emerge over the weekend, local media reported.

As its shares plummeted more than 20 percent to 15 year-lows on Friday, Fortis called an emergency news conference to say its position was strong and that it would expand assets sales to as much as 10 billion euros ($14.6 billion) to raise cash.

Emphasis added by me.
At the core of market concerns is Fortis' liquidity, but the financial group reminded investors that it was sitting on a funding base of 300 billion euros.

The European Central Bank has also made clear that it is ready to fund any liquidity shortfalls as European money markets remain effectively frozen.

"They are feeling strong but developments go fast. Look at what happened with Lehman Brothers. Of course, we cannot compare Fortis to Lehman, they're different banks, but things can change quickly," said Rob Koenders of Dutch asset manager Harmony Vermogensbeheer, which holds Fortis shares.

Emphasis added by me.

Explosions usually do happen fast. So do collapses.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #252: No Escape

This is Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, the sharpest mind covering this mess. For the longest time, he didn't believe things would come to this point. So for him to write this ...

US Economy: Even Hank Paulson's bail-out plan cannot detox global banking
Even if Congress backs the Paulson bail-out, the $700 billion blast cannot save the US, Britain or the world from the deepest economic slump since the Thirties. If Congress balks, God help us. The credit system is suffering a heart attack. Inter-bank lending is paralysed. Funds are accepting zero interest on US Treasury notes for the first time since Pearl Harbour, because no bank account is safe.

Wherever you look – dollar, euro, sterling Libor (the rate at which banks lend to each other), or spreads on credit derivatives – the stress has reached breaking point. If borrowers cannot roll over the three-month loans that are the lifeblood of business, they will default en masse.

“Money markets are imploding. If no action is taken very soon, there is a significant risk that the global economy will collapse,” says BNP Paribas. Almost every trader says much the same thing. So does US treasury secretary Hank Paulson, who as Toby Harnden reports, literally dropped on bended knee to beg help from Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Emphasis added by me.

Nine-plus months I have been warning of this reckoning. Is it sinking in yet?
Credit is the lubricant of a modern economy. A seizure now would probably lead to the bankruptcy of General Motors and Ford in short order, but it would not stop with the US car industry. Waves of job losses would set off a self-feeding spiral. Yet more people would default on their mortgages (and car loans), driving house prices down even further. That, in turn, would threaten the solvency of the best banks. That is the way to Armaggedon.

Emphasis added by me.
Hopes that the world can cruise happily on as the US buckles have been dashed by the violent downturn across Europe and Asia over the summer. The Baltic Dry Index measuring freight rates for ships has plummeted by two thirds since May. Japan’s economy is already contracting. China’s may be close behind: a third of all textile factories in Guangdong have closed this year. House prices are tumbling in Shenzen, Beijing, Shanghai.

Albert Edwards, global strategist at Société Général, says Asia built its boom on shipping goods to the US: “The emerging market boom is going to collapse and this will shake investors to the core. The great unwinding has only just begun.”

All Europe and Asia will do is witness American Gotterdammerung and they will move far faster than our Congress has been doing with the bailout -- to decouple themselves from America and reconfigure the web of finance. They will Ask The Question. It is inevitable.

America’s serial bail-outs – nearing $1.6 trillion, or 12 per cent of GDP – are playing havoc with the US budget. The deficit is above 6.7 per cent, near a 60-year peak. But claims that the US is going bust are frivolous. The US Treasury is not taking on permanent debt: it is behaving like a giant wealth fund, hoovering up mortgage securities selling far below their real value for reasons of panic. Famed investor Warren Buffett expects it to make “a considerable amount of money”.

The system will recover, but it may take a slow purge for a decade or more to rid us of the debt toxins. There will be no quick rebound this time.

Emphasis added by me.

See, this is where I still disagree with him. A collapse will lead to rampages. We will have the Los Angeles post-Rodney King riots happening every night. (And no, I do not mean this in a racial sense. I reference that as the most-recent nationally-televised example of how things can turn bad. In fact, they will be worse.)

Two Gerry Anderson Videos

The audio is rough in the first few seconds of this one. Stick with it.


Well, this is news! Thunderbirds (the entire TV series) is coming to Blu-Ray Disc! I'm so far behind, now I can skip the DVD and eventually get the Blu-Ray.

This next one is eerie for us who are Supermarionation veterans:

Captain Scarlet & Colonel White - The Goliath Plan

Joe Biden Has NO Excuse For This. NONE!

Joe Biden Screws Up During Interview

Dear God Almighty. Please send an angel to evac me from this insane fucking planet. Thank you. Amen.

Previously here:

Jack Cafferty: Sarah Palin

Friday, September 26, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #251: Countdown

There are now only eight days left.

Warren Ellis On Sherlock Holmes

I was rummaging through the treasure chest of Warren Ellis's archive looking for something else and came up with this gem of an essay:

The actor Jeremy Brett found his way into his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes by giving the original stories the first close reading they’d had by an actor in many years. He found this line: “Holmes wriggled with pleasure in his chair.” And that was it. He was in. His pale, spidery, twitchy and explosive Holmes made everyone before him look stupid.

Go read the rest.

That also sent me to my old blog, because I recalled I put a picture of Jeremy Brett there (it's now here). What I forgot was a posting about some Sherlock Holmes episodes with Brett on YouTube. Shockingly, some of those are still up for viewing. If you like what you see, buy the DVDs!

Astak eBook Reader

MobileRead has the press release: Astak's press release for the EZ Reader

Astak has an old description of three models of eBook readers here.

One bit of the press release I can't allow to go unscathed:
This unit has been a total of 8 years in development. Our band of eBook Reader bashers tried hard to get this to "hang up" or show a glitch. and it is as error-free and solid as you will find!

Emphasis added by me.

Uh, say what? Eight years?

Sony did its original eBook reader, the Librie, in 2004:
The LIBRIe reader is the result of a three-year collaboration between Sony, Royal Philips Electronics, Toppan Printing and E Ink.

Emphasis added by me.

That would put the Librie in 2001 for a development start.

Yet Astak (who?) claims it began in 2000?

Nikki Finke Finds Time To Laugh

Hollywood Gentiles Have A Lot To Learn

And, as always, read the Comments too!

Jack Cafferty: Sarah Palin

Jack Cafferty Tells Us How He Really Feels About Sarah Palin

And if that isn't enough to scare the shit out of you, look what a publication not given to bombast has to say after a different video clip on their site. The Economist: The Palin interview
I think what we're seeing is someone who thought she knew everything discover how little she actually knows, and it terrifies her.


U.S. National Debt Clock

U.S. National Debt Clock

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #250: Roubini

We Won't Escape the Worst Recession in 40 Years

We're in the process of emerging from eight years of a fanatical administration, free market zealots who opposed any financial regulation. Because of their stupidity, we've been plunged into the most serious financial crisis since that of 1929.

-- Nouriel Roubini

As it turns out, I've quoted Roubini before in this blog.

He was the first one, I think, to increase the possible losses to two trillion dollars: The Two Trillion Dollar Spree. That post was put here January 2nd.

As of today, September 26, the figure is now forty-six trillion dollars.

-- via Twitter from UrmiRaj14

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #249: WaMu 2

WARNING: GRAPHIC! Controlled Demolition IN PROGRESS -- WaMu implodes, JPMorgan devours carcass
Let this sink into your brain for a moment.

They're [J.P. Morgan] aquiring none of its [Washington Mutual] liabilities and all of its assets for a mere $1.9 billion dollars.

$1,900,000,000 divided by 5400 branches is approximately $351,851.85.

That's an entire fucking branch of a commercial bank for less than the price of a one family semi-attached home in a middle class neighborhood in NYC! PLUS - they're most definitely getting all their secured assets for pennies on the dollar as a bonus - no doubt worth billions!

Emphasis added by me.

OK, now do you see what the math is shaping up as?

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #248: Gold Coins

US Mint suspends sale of 24-karat gold coins
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Mint is temporarily halting sales of its popular American Buffalo 24-karat gold coins because it can't keep up with soaring demand as investors seek the safety of gold amid economic turbulence.

Mint spokesman Michael White said Friday that the sales were being suspended because demand for the coins, which were first introduced in 2006, has exceeded supply and the Mint's inventory of the coins has been depleted.

Maroney said that demand for the one-ounce American Eagle coins was "through the roof." He said Monex still had American Buffalos available Friday because the company had recently stocked up on them.

Emphasis added by me.

The run has begun.

Bank Collapse Watch: National City

Wall Street Journal tweeted that National City shares are tanking:

Kamer on CNBC just leaked that the Feds will soon seize this bank.

Friday eBook Notes

Pirate Bay Co-Founder Plotting E-Book Plunder?
Peter Sunde, one of the founders of Pirate Bay, wrote a mysterious blog post today asking for someone in the U.S. to send him an Amazon Kindle, and hinted that he might be working on a new project involving e-books.

“Do [sic] anyone wanna help me out? I’m looking to make an interesting service together with some friends in the New Media Market…,” he writes.

Cracking Kindle eBook DRM and putting all those titles up for free? That gives me the creeps. Writers don't need organized robbery. The current disorganized robbery is already too much.

Waterstone's e-book bestsellers -- too expensive!

Waterstone's e-book store is a good reason not to get a Sony Reader
Let me be very clear from the outset: I’d love a Sony Reader. I’ve read the reviews, I know the limitations, I know I’d miss the feel of a physical copy of the book and the logical part of my brain tells me that it’s probably best to wait at least a year before buying an e-reader. But I love gadgets and I love books so I’d be very tempted to buy one, at least I would if Sony would make them work with a Mac.

That incompatibility rules me out of the market but even if it didn’t, the Waterstone’s e-book store would put me off. If I had to describe it in a word I’d go for ‘rubbish’. But I don’t have to describe it in just one word so let’s also throw in over-priced, under-stocked and virtually impossible to navigate.

Emphasis added by me.

The first bit -- Mac OS X compatibility -- is something I hope Sony will address in less than a week.

The second bit -- Waterstone's ebook store -- is what I said earlier.

Ebooks offer VAT but not value
It was The Enchantress of Florence that got me started. Perhaps it wasn't good enough for Michael Portillo, but I've always been a fan of Sir Salman (though I preferred the earlier, funny ones). I was just about to add it to my new Sony Reader when I noticed the price: £15.19. That's just a snip off the full price of the hardback, which is widely available for around a tenner.

Most publishers are pricing their ebooks in parallel with the print editions, which means The Enchantress ebook is due to swoop down to around £7 sometime in January to coincide with the paperback edition. Looks like Rushdie's off my Christmas list.

Publishers say that making ebook editions cheaper could cut into hardback sales – though with only a few thousand machines out there, it's hard to see how. They also say that the commercial potential of the paperless read is hampered by the fact that unlike their dead-tree ancestors, ebooks - as with audiobooks - are vatted at 17.5%. It seems that those visionary souls who made an exemption for printed matter back in 1972 weren't quite as visionary as all that.

Emphasis added by me.

Your eBook pricing tutorials, dying dinosaurs of print, previously published herein: eBooks And Pricing and eBook Pricing 101: The Magic Formula

How many many many times must this message be delivered?

The Word On:..Sony's E-Reader

There are three opinions, but this one is a good idea that should be repeated:
I think I'd also throw a few quid in the direction of Project Gutenberg and provide a Sony Reader-friendly version of every single thing in their vast collection. And I'd make it easy to pop 500 classic novels on to the Reader for those just-in-case moments.

Emphasis added by me.

Yeah, Sony! That's a great, great idea!

Could the BeBook beat the Sony Reader? Time will tell
[It plays] a ridiculous amount of formats. At last count it was compatible with 25, including pdf, mobi, prc, epub, lit, txt, fb2, doc, html, rtf, djvu, wol, ppt, mbp, chm, bmp, jpg, png, gif, tif, rar, zip, and mp3.

Ummmm ... some of those are actually graphic files. And it won't do the PDF text reflow of the Sony Reader.

Bibliotheek biedt e-books gratis aan
Library offers e-books for free -- Google machine English link
AMSTERDAM - In an Internet e-book or download luisterboek often costs between 10 and 30 euros, but for members of the library is a new option: free loan.

The library Almere begins today with a test called ePortal. Through this system, subscribers can log in from home on a website, where 250 e-books and 250 listening books are free to download. Who borrows a title, the file on his MP3 player, a laptop or on a special e-book reader.

Just as with paper books usually the case, the loan period is three weeks. If the loan period expires, the downloaded file automatically unusable. Never a penalty for late back then.

"We are making use of a so-called digital rights management system from America," says Maarten Tiebout, who developed the ePortal for NBD / Biblion, a company that delivers products to libraries. "There is a complex technology needed to ensure that the files not be copied, and that after a few weeks become unusable."

No mention is made of what format the text eBooks are in. DRMed MobiPocket? DRMed PDF? DRMed ePub?

Sony Reader volgend jaar in ons land
Sony Reader next year in our country -- Google machine English
The Reader came in 2006 for the first time in the United States. Since then, there is a new version of published and is also in Britain and soon in France for sale. The Netherlands will therefore follow.

According to the spokesman the device will be launched large-scale, after the success overseas. Information about the price has not yet been released.

Whoa! Sony Reader to conquer The Netherlands next year!