Friday, December 26, 2008

Isn't there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about? 

Merry Christmas. I wish you peace.

HT: Gabriel Malor, from Ace of Spades HQ and some other folks from Facebook.

But see this, too:


Bubbles? I'm the F***ing Prince of Darkness!!! 
Just was watching C-SPAN, and a speaker, Richard Fisher, the CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, quoting the following passage:

I have since been occasionally reminded of this scene, by those calm sunny seasons in the commercial world, which are known by the name of ``times of unexampled prosperity.'' They are the sure weather-breeders of traffic. Every now and then the world is visited by one of these delusive seasons, when ``the credit system'' as it is called, expands to full luxuriance; everybody trusts everybody; a bad debt is a thing unheard of; the broad way to certain and sudden wealth lies plain and open; and men are tempted to dash forward boldly, from the facility of borrowing.

Promissory notes interchanged between scheming individuals, are liberally discounted at the banks, which become so many mints to coin words into cash; and as the supply of words is inexhaustible, it may readily be supposed what a vast amount of promissory capital is soon in circulation. Every one now talks in thousands; nothing is heard but gigantic operations in trade; great purchases and sales of real property, and immense sums made at every transfer. All, to be sure, as yet exists in promise; but the believer in promises calculates the aggregate as solid capital, and falls back in amazement at the amount of public wealth, the ``unexampled state of public prosperity!''

Now is the time for speculative and dreaming or designing men. They relate their dreams and projects to the ignorant and credulous, dazzle them with golden visions, and set them maddening after shadows. The example of one stimulates another; speculation rises on speculation; bubble rises on bubble; every one helps with his breath to swell the windy superstructure, and admires and wonders at the magnitude of the inflation he has contributed to produce.

Speculation is the romance of trade, and casts contempt upon all its sober realities. It renders the stock-jobber a magician, and the exchange a region of enchantment. It elevates the merchant into a kind of knight-errant, or rather a commercial Quixote. The slow but sure gains of snug percentage become despicable in his eyes: no ``operation'' is thought worthy of attention that does not double or treble the investment. As he sits musing over his ledger, with pen behind his ear, he is like La Mancha's hero in his study, dreaming over his books of chivalry. His dusty counting house fades before his eyes, or changes into a Spanish mine; he gropes after diamonds, or dives after pearls. The subterranean garden of Aladdin is nothing to the realms of wealth that break upon his imagination.

Could this delusion always last, the life of a merchant would indeed be a golden dream; but it is as short as it is brilliant. Let but a doubt enter, and the ``season of unexampled prosperity'' is at an end. The coinage of words is suddenly curtailed; the promissory capital begins to vanish into smoke; a panic succeeds, and the whole superstructure, built upon credit, and reared by speculation, crumbles to the ground, leaving scarce a wreck behind:

It was written by Washington Irving...well over a century ago.

Splash, out


Saturday, December 20, 2008

If you ever needed proof that the New York Times was staffed by morons 
This is it.

Japan offers possible road map for U.S. economy.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

George Tenet: "The bitch set me up!" 
Slam drunk.

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UAW To United States Marine Corps: Drop Dead 
I guess maybe the USMC ought to be taking a hard look at those GM Hummer procurement contracts the next time round, eh?

The sheer obnoxiousness of the UAW isn't the main reason why I oppose a bailout of the Big 3 auto manufacturers.

But it's the easiest to explain.

Splash, out


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

The 50 Billion Dollar Scumbag 
So hedge fund operator and former Nasdaq chief Bernard Madoff somehow bilked investors of $50 billion in a gigantic Ponzi scheme. (If you don't know what a Ponzi scheme is, it's pretty much like Social Security, except in the long run, less destructive.)

The idea that this guy can raise so much money, so easily, just by working the country clubs around Long Island and Palm Beach, doesn't speak too well for the financial acumen of our socialite class, all of whom just heard what they wanted to hear.

The first imperative of investing - the prime directive - is to provide for the return of capital. Anything else is speculation. Establishing a small position in an opaque hedge fund for a low correlation to more standard asset classes is one thing. But anyone who was ruined by this man is a fool.

I don't know what it is about Florida and Boca Raton that makes people so gullible. But speaking as a legit financial services guy myself, it's frustrating as hell to see this kind of thing happening again and again.

Due diligence, and the safe return of capital. Do not risk what you and your family have and need for something you and your family do not have and do not need. No less an investment mind than Warren Buffett said that.

Why these wealthy individuals would be taking stupid risks with someone who can't guarantee their principal back, when it's so easy to do, is beyond me.

How to do due diligence on fund managers? Read my pre-Countercolumn piece for Registered Representative here.

Splash, out


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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb? 
That's not funny, dammit!

Here's Dee Dee Myers, former press secretary for Bill Clinton (and one of my great secret crushes in politics) on Jon Favreau's shenanegans with a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton:

I can’t stop thinking about this picture, and I confess I find it really upsetting. And, no, it’s not because I don’t have a sense of humor. I like to think I have a well-earned reputation for often irreverent, sometimes ill-advised humor. But I’m not laughing now.

That's not funny, dammit!

And it’s not that I was never young. My friends from college and in the years just beyond can testify that I did some things then that I wouldn’t want to see on the Internet now. But I had a big job in the White House at a young age too; at 31—just a few years older than Favreau is now—I became White House press secretary.

Shorter Dee Dee: "I was never young."

If he’s old enough and wise enough and mature enough to write for the president of the United States—and not just any president but one who seems poised to take words more seriously than any since Abraham Lincoln—




(spit spit, retch retch)

Geez, what a twit.

than he’s clearly old enough and wise enough and mature enough to avoid getting his picture taken behaving in a way that is embarrassing to him, his boss, the secretary of state–designate, his family, and, one hopes, a majority of 27-year-old males (though that may be too optimistic.) It’s indefensible. But that’s still not what’s bugging me.

What's bugging me right now is that when Bill Clinton cheated on his wife and used a 21-year-old intern as his personal sperm receptacle in the Oval Office, Myers was considerably more circumspect about calling for accountability.

Update: The next issue of Vanity Fair has nude photos of Kate Winslet.

Jus' sayin, y'all.

Update II: Read this, too, though, from Dee Dee Myers back in 1998: "The President's relationship with Monica Lewinsky was so reckless as to seem pathological."No call for accountability in sight, though. Indeed, she takes the opportunity to criticize Ken Starr.

Splash, out


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Those farging iceholes! 
I'll have their bells in a sling!

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ukulele Master 
Mike, in the comments to the post below, got me thinking about great Hawai'ian musicians.

So how about Mr. Jake Shimabukuru, playing his wonderful arrangement of While My Guitar Gently Weeps?

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Monday, December 01, 2008

RIP Tanta 
Traveling tonight (leaving my beloved home state of Hawai'i nei) and heading back to Florida, but I just noticed, via Justin Fox, that the wonderful Doris Dungey, Tanta, of Calculated risk, has passed away, at the age of 47.

If you enjoy watching the mortgage trainwreck from afar, or even if you're a participant, her collection of Ubernerd posts is good reading.

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