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Avast, Walking the Plank, We Be

April 14, 2010

In 1822, William Smith, captain of the sloop Blessing, was forced to walk the plank by the pirate crew of the schooner Emanuel.

fast forward nearly two hundred years later!

But this troubling connection should be no surprise. Rahm has long been a favorite of the hedge funds, having raised more money from them than any Senator not running for President. Not surprisingly, he has been a staunch supporter of the financial services industry, and is widely credited with playing a key role in securing passage of the TARP after its initial defeat.

As the Magnetar-Rahm connection highlights, Obama raised more money from financial services players than any previous presidential candidate, so it can hardly be a surprise that he and his minions are happy to give the industry a free pass. Key policy figures maintain that no one was at fault, that there was a pervasive lack of regulation, and there are therefore no bad actors. That party line also means that destructive behavior is and will remain unquestioned, unexamined, uncorrected, and unpunished. We are still paying for the costs of the financial train wreck of 2007 and 2008. We can no longer afford the costs of willful blindness.
Rahm Emanuel and Magnetar Capital: The Definition of Compromised

The antidote

57 Comments leave one →
  1. artemis54 permalink
    April 15, 2010 5:29 am

    Tonight, WINGS will present the five 2010 Women of Discovery Awards.

    For the 8th year, WINGS WorldQuest will honor the accomplishments of visionary women who are pushing the boundaries of knowledge to help us understand the complex issues we face today. The “Women of Discovery Awards” recognizes excellence in exploration and discovery in all areas of field research and environmental conservation.

    Although she hasn’t said much about it, the Sea Award will go to Alexandra Morton.

    This is richly deserved.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 15, 2010 6:39 am

      I liked the quote she gave on her page. Thanks for sharing this announcement. It is important to remember to keep track of the great work people are doing out there against the odds. That is where hope lives, in the work of people like Morton and the other nominees.

      “Do not sweat the small stuff, save your energy for the big stuff and keep your voice low and calm, because society has a built-in off-switch for shrill women.” — Alexandra Hubbard Morton

      • artemis54 permalink
        April 15, 2010 5:00 pm

        I liked her Favorite Item to Have in the Field: Really good socks. Spoken like a true Cascadian, and my kind of woman.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 15, 2010 8:42 am

      I like one of the Elected fellows they mention, Jill Tarter form the SETI Institute. If she wants to find intelligent life, she’s looking in the right place. The supply on this planet seems to be dwindling.

      On a related note, I just started working on a new post about education. Hopefully I will be able to get it done by the time this thread gets too full.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    April 15, 2010 6:32 am

    A number of probes mentioned on Reuters front pages this morning

    Germans target nine suspects in HP bribery probe German authorities say they have targeted nine suspects, including former staff of Hewlett-Packard Co, in a probe into whether the world’s top PC maker paid bribes to win business in Russia.

    Goldman Sachs director in Galleon probe Prosecutors are examining whether Goldman Sachs Group director Rajat Gupta gave inside information about the Wall Street bank to Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, the Wall Street Journal said on Thursday, citing people close to the situation.

    And lest one get too excited by the probing, there is this one, where a faulty pseudo SEC probe of a superpirate is chided with a sternly written report/letter.

    SEC watchdog to fault Stanford probe A federal watchdog is expected to soon release a report criticizing how the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission handled a probe of alleged swindler Allen Stanford, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 15, 2010 8:50 am

      Whaddya know. The investigation into HP concerns a contract from 2000, back when Carly Fiorina was CEO of the company. Being involved with bribery schemes, looks like she’d fit in quite nicely if she did manage to win the Senate seat she’s currently gunning for. That, and her being listed as one of the 20 Worst American CEOs of all Time by Conde Nast would seem to make her eminently qualified to serve in Congress.

  3. cometman permalink*
    April 15, 2010 6:55 am

    That was a really good article you linked to in the main post. This must be the beef Yves Smith had with Rahmbo that she mentioned a while back.

    This guest post from her site was pretty good too – The Myth of “Insatiable” Investor Demand for CDOs. The argument is that there was no huge demand for this garbage but that banks were mostly selling them among themselves or to themselves. If they did sell them to another party they used ‘liquidity puts’ to sweeten the deal which allowed the buyer to put the CDO back with the bank in the event the investment turned bad.

    Smith does make a good point at the end:

    Tom’s post does not include a point discussed more than occasionally among the Naked Capitalism team that has been working on CDOs, namely that they were also sold to unsophisticated institutions, generally foreign.

    That goes along with what I’ve read about institutional investors looking for a safe place to put their money once Greenspan had lowered interest rates so much that Treasuries didn’t pay squat. So they looked to mortgage backed securities which were pretty safe at the beginning before all the riskier loans started being chopped up and put into them.

  4. Stemella permalink*
    April 15, 2010 8:39 am

    Werner Herzog has a new documentary project coming up

    30,000 year old French cave art in 3-D

    Herzog has apparently been given permission to film inside the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc cave, a site in the Ardèche department of southern France that contains the earliest known cave paintings, dating back at least 30,000 years. Even more intriguingly, Herzog is planning to shoot much of the film in 3D.

    The Chauvet cave, discovered in 1994, cannot be accessed by tourists, as the French authorities have deemed the risk of degradation to be too high, so Herzog’s film might be the only opportunity for the rest of humanity to view the site. The paintings depict lions, panthers, bears, owls, rhinos and hyenas, suggesting a vastly different fauna at the time of the paintings to that of modern France.

    I cannot wait to see this.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 15, 2010 8:53 am

      That sounds excellent. I can’t wait to see it either. I was just reading about that cave in the Monster of God book melvin had recommended. Evidently it has by far the most ancient depictions of lions than any other site yet discovered.

  5. cometman permalink*
    April 15, 2010 9:12 am

    Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. An investigation into WAMU has found this little tidbit – Wamu bankers sang ‘I like big bucks and I cannot lie’ before bank failed.

    According to documents released as part of a Congressional investigation, bankers from the failed Washington Mutual rewrote the lyrics to 1992’s “Baby Got Back” to celebrate their dominance of the mortgage lending market.


    Bankers sang about “big bucks” at their 2006 Kauai, Hawaii retreat. As if the lyrics themselves weren’t enough, the bankers’ chorus was apparently accompanied by cheerleaders who moved in time to the music, and wads and wads of flying fake cash.

    Former CEO Kerry Killinger is no Weird Al. Used to see him pretty regularly at work and he had the personality of a 2X4, leaving everyone who had contact with him board. Should have drained that asshole’s bank account when I had the chance.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 15, 2010 9:52 am

      But you would have been busted and paid the full price. We all know the only way to rob the bank and be rewarded for it these days is to own it. Likewise, the way to rob the people is to own their representatives.

      Someday that guy’s 2×4 will become a plank for walking and it will end for him the way it does for everyone else. The crooks have figured out how to avoid taxes, but they still can’t escape old man Death. Not yet, at least.

      • cometman permalink*
        April 15, 2010 10:24 am

        Heh. They would have had to find me first :)

  6. cometman permalink*
    April 15, 2010 9:15 am

    One of my favorites, Mark Fiore, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning.

    That makes him too dangerous for the iPhone.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 15, 2010 9:45 am

      Kudos to Fiore. Excellent choice and encourages greater shift from traditional press to online journalism.

  7. Stemella permalink*
    April 15, 2010 9:40 am

    More evidence of assholery and corruptitude between industry and politicians

    David Vitter fights for formaldehyde

    After the agency’s efforts were repeatedly stalled by the chemical industry and Congress, a new administration and a new EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, seemed close to finalizing the EPA’s assessment last summer — until Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) began raising objections on behalf of the formaldehyde industry.

    Vitter argued that the reassessment was premature and put a hold on a key EPA official’s appointment. And two days before Christmas, he won what the industry declared was a victory. Jackson agreed to an outside review — this time by the National Academy of Sciences — and Vitter released his hold.

    Democrats in Congress and public health watchdogs have criticized the academy in the past for being slanted toward industry because some of the scientists who serve on its review panels have written studies funded by the chemical companies whose products they are evaluating. An academy spokeswoman said it thoroughly vets its panelists and has strict financial conflict-of-interest rules.

    so sick of this shit

  8. cometman permalink*
    April 15, 2010 9:40 am

    Since the oligarchs couldn’t do jack and the people who actually knew what the hell they were talking about could barely get a word in edgewise at Copenhagen, Bolivia is hosting a different kind of climate summit.

    I think I’ve mentioned this before here but it starts next week and bears keeping an eye on.

    The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth which opens next week in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, will have no direct bearing on the UN climate talks being conducted by 192 governments. But Bolivian President Evo Morales says it will give a voice to the poorest people of the world and encourage governments to be far more ambitious following the failure of the Copenhagen summit.

    Morales will use the meeting to announce the world’s largest referendum, with up to 2 billion people being asked to vote on ways out of the climate crisis. Bolivia also wants to create a UN charter of rights and to draft an action plan to set up an international climate justice tribunal.

  9. cometman permalink*
    April 15, 2010 10:09 am

    Robert Weissman has a good piece on what’s missing from proposed financial reform legislation – It’s About Power, Not ‘Reform’.

    In a nutshell, what’s missing is basically everything that would actually amount to meaningful reform.

    Despite the fact that this legislation is currently just more deckchair/Titanic posturing which one would think would make the corrupt, bought-off Congresspeople in both parties happy, they are already ripping into each other.

    Emboldened by continuing popular disgust over the big banks’ role in the worst US recession since the 1930s, President Obama invited Republican leaders to what was billed as a cordial bipartisan discussion of financial regulatory reform.

    It was anything but. In an hour-long meeting that appears to have deepened party divisions over the future of the economy, Mr Obama attacked his Republican guests for their closeness to Wall Street lobbyists, demanded a complete overhaul of the risky derivatives markets that led to the brink of a financial meltdown two years ago and accused Republicans of a “campaign of misinformation” about his reforms.

    Now <O is probably right on the money when he accuses the republicans of distorting his words. But how in the hell can he accuse them of being too cozy with Wall Street with a straight face when Wall Street was the biggest funder of his campaign and he continues to appoint one corrupt banker after another to important positions in his administration?!?!?!?!? Some of us are actually paying attention there Barry.

    The delusion the <O administration is still operating under gives me less than zero hope that anything meaningful will come from this newest bullshit theatre.

    “This ought to be a bipartisan Bill and I think in the end it will be,” Mr Goolsbee said.

    The republicans oppose every Reagan-esque item Barry and the Dems trot out even if it’s something they actually agree with but this time things are going to be different. Riiiiiiiiight.

    Even more stupid – George Jackoff still thinks Democrats will do the right thing if only, as he argues for the 5627485th time, they’d learn to read polls better and reframe their arguments.

    No, they won’t Georgie.

  10. artemis54 permalink
    April 15, 2010 1:21 pm

    Nature speaks last (and she doesn’t negotiate).

    Great coverage of Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls at , including links to great photos.

    In the light of most of NATO’s airspace in Europe shutting down, it is interesting to note that this volcano’s last eruption – in 1821 – lasted for two years.

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 15, 2010 1:22 pm

      Shit. At Eruptions.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 16, 2010 7:14 am

      That’s a cool blog. I hadn’t realized the eruption had been building for a few weeks now.

      Anybody remember if Mt. St. Helens caused this much air traffic to shut down? Saw a clip on the TV last night that said this eruption wasn’t as big as the Mt. St. Helens one (yet).

      • artemis54 permalink
        April 16, 2010 2:59 pm

        Hmm, good question. I don’t recall. Not a very busy air corridor fot quite a ways, I think Seattle-Denver could go around it. Certainly Spokane was shut down briefly. I do recall it very quickly ate up the engines of some cop cars and the few others who were driving around at the height of the ashfall. But the most affected area, around Ritzville, is very lightly polulated.

  11. cometman permalink*
    April 16, 2010 7:17 am

    Couple neat-o things to look at.

    Here’s a slide show of the disintegration of the persistence of Detroit.

    In the “life imitates art” department, be sure to check out #8.

    Ran across at new ant blog called Myrmecos which has some really great pictures including these weird looking turtle ants which I’d never heard of before.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 16, 2010 8:16 am

      Dali’s moustache just curled another loop de loop with that particular shot. Incredible images of decay. Flickr has a number of groups set up that document the same kind of urban degradation, both from the US and around the world. Here’s a couple I’ve saved:

      Abandoned shops and stores

      Urban Abandonments

      Forgotten Ohio

      • artemis54 permalink
        April 16, 2010 3:05 pm

        Related: You would really enjoy the Abandonos archives at Fogonazos.

        • cometman permalink*
          April 16, 2010 7:11 pm

          Yikes. The octopi are going to have to do something about sea lions if they want to be serious contenders for the new animal overlords.

  12. cometman permalink*
    April 16, 2010 7:48 am

    So the new health care “reform” requires that insurance companies spend 80-85% of every premium dollar on medical costs as opposed to administrative costs.

    In what should come as no surprise, insurance companies are simply reclassifying administrative expenses as medical ones.

  13. cometman permalink*
    April 16, 2010 7:58 am

    Couple of good posts from Greenwald on our government who no longer needs to obey laws they don’t like.

    The <O DOJ is trying to force Yahoo to turn over emails without getting a warrant although the law says they need one.

    Barry doesn’t want to prosecute anybody who ordered or was involved in the government’s clearly illegal warrantless wiretapping programs, but if you blow the whistle on the practices of the spooks, the <O DOJ will indict your ass.

  14. Stemella permalink*
    April 16, 2010 8:01 am

    Is the SEC really going to function on this one? Will vampire squids finally make the frog walk? Does the pope want to hump a baby bear in the woods?

    SEC Sues Goldman Sachs, Alleging Fraud in CDO Tied to Subprime This story is just breaking. More details to come later in the day no doubt.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 16, 2010 8:18 am

      I just noticed that story break too. Here’s an NYT article about it that just showed up at CommonDreams.

      A small ray of hope already:

      In the half-hour after the suit was announced, Goldman Sachs’s stock fell by more than 10 percent.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 16, 2010 8:29 am

        Yeah, shares down $22 at the moment, GoldieSux on Marketwatch

        • cometman permalink*
          April 16, 2010 8:53 am

          Down $25 now. That’s a race to the bottom I can get behind.

          Unfortunately the assholes at Goldman have probably found a way to make money off of this too. How much you wanna bet some of their proprietary traders took out short positions in their own stock today as soon as news of the suit broke, if not before?

          • Stemella permalink*
            April 16, 2010 8:56 am

            Yep, people are getting rich on this as we type. My inital enthusiasm has already been deflated by watching CNBC.

            I wish I was wrong, but this all smells fishy, squidlike even. :)

  15. Stemella permalink*
    April 16, 2010 8:54 am

    Meanwhile, Fed ends Goldman, Greece probe with no action

    I’ve been listening to the hyperventilating of the fluffers on CNBC and am fairly sure this is another staged kabuki based on their reactions and scripts. It seems the timing of this story from the SEC has something to do with <O team's financial so called regulation bill. We shall see.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 16, 2010 9:28 am

      Looks like it’s an attempt by <O to raise some cash to keep his sorry ass in the bully pulpit. Yves Smith has a post up about the suit against the Goldies. From her second update:

      12:00 PM: Reader Hubert points out that the SEC suit was announced minutes before this e-mail was sent out in Obama’s name. Coincidence?

      I cannot stand these Obama missives, so I am only including the beginning, which is sufficient to give you the drift of the gist.

      Friend –

      It has now been well over a year since the near collapse of our entire financial system that cost the nation more than 8 million jobs. To this day, hard-working families struggle to make ends meet.

      We’ve made strides — businesses are starting to hire, Americans are finding jobs, and neighbors who had given up looking are returning to the job market with new hope. But the flaws in our financial system that led to this crisis remain unresolved.

      Wall Street titans still recklessly speculate with borrowed money. Big banks and credit card companies stack the deck to earn millions while far too many middle-class families, who have done everything right, can barely pay their bills or save for a better future.

      We cannot delay action any longer. It is time to hold the big banks accountable to the people they serve, establish the strongest consumer protections in our nation’s history — and ensure that taxpayers will never again be forced to bail out big banks because they are “too big to fail.”

      That is what Wall Street reform will achieve, why I am so committed to making it happen, and why I’m asking for your help today.

      Please stand with me to show your support for Wall Street reform.

      The bullshit keeps rolling down.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 16, 2010 9:34 am

      And from your link, looks like Officer Barbrady is on the job!

      Goldman now has procedures in place to make sure trades are not motivated by accounting, he [Bernanke/Barbrady] noted.

      Move it along now people. Nothing to see here.

  16. cometman permalink*
    April 16, 2010 9:14 am

    Good article on the coming push to privatize social security – Social Security in the Bullseye.

    The author includes a discussion of a passage from libertarian economist Friedrich Hayek which I thought was very good. Much like with Adam Smith, the freemarketeers of today conveniently forget that Hayek wasn’t just about free market all the time and everything else be damned.

  17. Stemella permalink*
    April 16, 2010 9:15 am

    TomDispatch has another good one

    America and the Dictators
    From Ngo Dinh Diem to Hamid Karzai

    • cometman permalink*
      April 16, 2010 10:01 am

      Not sure why the Holbrookes of the world and Mr. 11 Dimensional Chess couldn’t see the problems with Karzai coming from miles away. Install a puppet and then slaughter that puppet’s people and the instinct for self preservation kicks in. Of course the guy is going to distance himself from the US when closeness to it puts his own life in danger. Musharraf had the same problem in Pakistan. And knowing how these things play out, I can’t figure out why anybody who likes breathing would agree to be a US puppet in the first place.

  18. cometman permalink*
    April 16, 2010 12:14 pm

    Here are a bunch of not necessarily related items.

    Not quite sure what to think of this yet. The recycling aspect is nice, but I’m not sure if recycling bags just to produce parts of toner cartridges that will also wind up in a landfill eventually is really the way to go. Kind of sounds like more greenwashing, touting the environmental aspect when it’s really just a cheaper way to make various industrial items. But maybe I’m being too cynical. Anyway, check it out.

    JP Morgan gets paid to borrow money from the Fed.

    Joe Bageant responds to a reader who asks why he doesn’t put up more of a fight and is content to watch as the empire crumbles. This part of his answer echoes my own sentiments – it’s hard not to become what you hate:

    I’m too old to be shitting in a can in Gitmo. I used to go to sleep at night contemplating just what sort of violence I could perform that would do any good. Believe me, like so many others with whom I’ve talked who felt the same, I seriously contemplated some horrific stuff. But when I looked at the sorts of company I’d be keeping in America by doing so, I did not like it at all.

    Dennis Kucinich is still about the only one in Congress with a conscience:

    Kucinich says the case of al-Awlaki is an attempt to make “a short-cut around the Constitution,” saying, “Short-cuts often belie the deep and underlying questions around which nations rise and fall. We are really putting our nation in jeopardy by pursuing this kind of policy.”

    Michael Lewis has been taken to task lately for not heaping enough opprobrium on the banksters. Here’s a great interview where he gives more of his own opinions than he does in much of his writing about others – Michael Lewis’ Big Short and Our Appetite for Apocalypse. Interesting to listen to this in conjunction with the news today of Goldman being sued and John Paulson’s involvement. It becomes pretty clear why Lewis chose not to profile John Paulson as one of the shorts in his book. The people he does profile where small timers who managed to figure out where the flaws and shortcomings in the system were. Paulson was one of those deliberately creating the flaws.

  19. cometman permalink*
    April 16, 2010 12:21 pm

    And once again some levity heading onto the weekend.

    Usually we hear of people seeing religious iconography in secular items. This time it’s the other way around.

    Check out the Two O’Clock Titty!

    • artemis54 permalink
      April 16, 2010 3:16 pm

      Check out the monster boner that appeared on the image of Jesus. In Okla-fucking-homa yet.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 16, 2010 6:44 pm

        Sweet Jeebus! hahaha!

  20. Stemella permalink*
    April 16, 2010 6:40 pm

    Eight banks have failed today bringing the year’s subtotal to Fifty!

    Here’s today’s list from the FDIC

    City Bank, Lynnwood, WA
    Tamalpais Bank, San Rafael, CA
    Innovative Bank, Oakland, CA
    Butler Bank, Lowell, MA
    Riverside National Bank of Florida, Fort Pierce, FL
    AmericanFirst Bank, Clermont, FL
    First Federal Bank of North Florida, Palatka, FL
    Lakeside Community Bank, Sterling MI

  21. artemis54 permalink
    April 17, 2010 8:32 am

    Yo cephs —

    You must see the amazing film Plastic Bag over at FUTURESTATES. Also posted at the Deli, but there are ten more films at FS.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 17, 2010 4:52 pm

      Very. very nice. Reminiscent of many films – especially the Red Balloon. The narrator was perfect :)

      Thanks for that link, I’ll check out more of them. That predictor page on that site is frightening.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 17, 2010 8:31 pm

      Very nice! Thanks for that one.

  22. Stemella permalink*
    April 17, 2010 4:56 pm

    Simon has a great post up on the Goldie Sux debacle

    Our Pecora Moment

    I also took a look at Taibbi’s blog. He says he can’t say much because he’s working on a larger piece. That one will be greatly anticipated.

    • cometman permalink*
      April 18, 2010 9:48 am

      Here’s some more. Washington’s blog has a great post up on the Goldman suit with lots of good links to follow – Goldman Sacked?

      The Dylan Ratigan video was very good and I have to say Nomi Prins is dreamy :)

      The zerohedgies think it’s all smoke and mirrors and remind us who was recently named COO of the SEC’s enforcement division. Not to mention the head of the SEC Mary Shapiro who seems to have made a career by looking the other way on shady deals.

      And not necessarily related but funny as hell, the screeners at CNBC didn’t do their due diligence and allowed a turd into the punchbowl who mercilessly mocked Jim Cramer. Cramer tried to defend Goldman on the Abacus deal and yet can’t even pronounce the word ‘abacus’ correctly. Watch the clip here. Ha!

      • artemis54 permalink
        April 18, 2010 10:34 am

        Ha indeed.

        You know, I don’t do finance, even stats are a struggle for me, my mind just doesn’t want to go there, but even I have come to understand a little of this. And Cramer, well . . . .

        Which reminds me of something. In the las couple of weeks, besides the newstainmodel marveling at the eperts who predicted geese flying north in the spring, I’ve noticed Rick Sanchez on CNN just baffled at the volcano in Iceland, because it’s a cold country and volcanoes are hot. Then the bimbo Chuck Todd: referring to Obama’s memo re forcing hospitals to show some minimal compassion, he too was baffled and asked why the government had a ban on same sex couple visitation in the first place. Fucking moron.

        When you see these, and we could think of several more pretty easily – wasn’t it Bartiromo who didn’t know that Social Security didn’tstart until age 65? – what possible reason is there to believe them on things you don’t happen to know anything about?

        • artemis54 permalink
          April 18, 2010 10:57 am

          Speaking of, good for Al Roker for at least trying to prounounce Eyjafjallajokull and coming damn close. Closer than most of them do with Spokane and Coueur d’Alene.

          • Stemella permalink*
            April 19, 2010 8:01 am

            Let alone Or-i-gone.

            These people are selected to suit the lowest common denominators of the viewing audience. The women must be suitably transferable for the covers of grocery store glossy magazines and the men must be completely non threatening intellectually, yet moderately physically attractive. The primary qualifications are to be able to read a prompter and fill hours of time with mindless babble to fill the space between commercials.

        • cometman permalink*
          April 19, 2010 8:17 am

          It is difficult to understand every detail of the byzantine deals that were set up and that’s why I think Ratigan is doing a good job explaining things in simple terms. He may use the props like Cramer does, but at least he’s right and trying to explain rather than confuse.

          After Jon Stewart took Cramer apart, I think the only reason CNBC keeps him on is because the ratings go up when somebody makes a fool out of him.

      • Stemella permalink*
        April 19, 2010 7:54 am

        Someone should remix that video with all the bells honks and other sound fx that cheezy Cramer uses on his show. What a complete tool! haha.

        I’m still trending toward the kabuki smoke and mirrors theory myself, but will be happy to be proved wrong. This new story over at Pro Publica on Magnetar has me a bit more hopeful this thing will have longer legs.

        The Magnetar Trade: How One Hedge Fund Helped Keep the Bubble Going

        At least nine banks helped Magnetar hatch deals. Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and UBS all did multiple deals with Magnetar. JPMorgan Chase, often lauded for having avoided the worst of the CDO craze, actually ended up doing one of the riskiest deals with Magnetar, in May 2007, nearly a year after housing prices started to decline. According to marketing material and prospectuses, the banks didn’t disclose to CDO investors the role Magnetar played.

        Many of the bankers who worked on these deals personally benefited, earning millions in annual bonuses. The banks booked profits at the outset. But those gains were fleeting. As it turned out, the banks that assembled and marketed the Magnetar CDOs had trouble selling them. And when the crash came, they were among the biggest losers.

        • cometman permalink*
          April 19, 2010 8:25 am

          If it’s going to have longer legs, this –

          Nearly all of those approached by ProPublica declined to talk on the record, fearing their careers would be hurt if they spoke publicly.

          – is going to have to change.

  23. cometman permalink*
    April 18, 2010 9:57 am

    Rafael Correa and Ecuador continue to kick against the pricks.

    The Ecuadorean government has threatened to take over foreign oil concessions if the companies resist growing state control of the industry.

    President Rafael Correa said every day millions of dollars were going to oil companies that should go to the state.

    The government has been pressing the companies to give up concessions that give them a share of oil field profits and accept service contracts instead.

    Since he’s already repudiated debt that was unfairly hung on his country by past governments, I’d imagine this is more than just a shallow threat. This is exactly the kind of deal I’d like to see more of where these parasitic multinationals are concerned. Accept what is offered – a fair contract for services rendered – or get nothing and like it.

    • Stemella permalink*
      April 19, 2010 8:18 am

      Uh oh. Time to send in another round of EconHitMen or if necessary, the Marines. The Petroilogarchies don’t like it when the locals insist on fairness, let alone autonomy.

  24. Stemella permalink*
    April 19, 2010 8:06 am

    Inspired by the plastic bag film, I found this useful website that has a nationwide database of stores/businesses that will accept #4 plastic bags (newspaper, grocery and others) for recycling where many residential recyclers won’t. Pass it on to those who might need to know.

    Plastic Bag Recycling

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