Saturday, March 22, 2008

SAR #8083

The Fed is now the largest landlord in US history.

Saying "No!" but Maybe? The U.S. Federal Reserve said it is not discussing coordinated purchases of mortgage-backed securities with other central banks. It is simply a coincidence that the central banks have independently decided to purchase dodgy mortgage-backed derivatives.

Post-It Note: While you were out of the office on Friday and the markets were closed, S&P lowered the outlook for both Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers to negative. Do you think the Easter Bernanke is going to leave each of them a $30 billion bailout basket?

Papers! Herr Chertoff warns that, soon, if you do not have an internal passport (Real ID), you will not be permitted to fly. You may be permitted to be flown, however, to Guantanamo or a select black site.

Curtain Call: District Judge Paul Friedman has ruled that Bush&Co violated the public's right to free speech by keeping protesters corraled in remote "free speech zones." Word is, the judge will soon resign "to spend more time with his family".

Picture This: If you were taking comfort from the Fed's actions to calm the credit markets, take a look at what's happening in the world of Alt-A mortgages - those are the Liar's Loans with no proof of income, assets or jobs. Alt-A's written in the third quarter of 2007 were defaulting at a 10% annualized rate by the end of December. Go look at the graph here.

Wind, Blowing: A British court lifted the Exxon instigated $12 billion freeze of Venezuelan assets, indicating that it was unlikely that arbitration would reward Exxon sufficiently to require funds on that scale. It's not the whole story, but you are unlikely to hear this side of it fromour own media.

Blackwater, Jr. The 80,000-strong Sunni militia mercenaries - who were largely responsible for the success of "the surge" - have stopped working because their $10 a day was stopped. If the US doesn't resume paying them, they will go back to being insurgents. US payments to the far better equipped Blackwater continue uninterupted.

Report Card: US high school graduation rates are somewhere between 63% and 86% depending on how 'graduation rate' is defined. The Bush administration allows states to use dozens of different ways to report graduation rates. If the schools can get potential failures to drop out before entering 12th grade, they don't count as failing to graduate.

Cracker Jax: By 2025, fully a third of the planet's population will have insufficient water. Even today a child dies every 20 seconds due to poor sanitation from contaminated water. But the biggest surprise in the article was this: "With worldwide food production set to expand 50% by 2030... " Makes you doubt the stuff about the water, too.

For Mature Audiences: An adult bookstore employee has been convicted of killing and dismembering a vagrant. This is the sort of thing could give adult bookstores a bad reputation.

Depends: Hopes for a government bailout have spread to the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, where 50% of homeowners under a government-backed loan program face foreclosure. What ever happened to grass skirts and thatched huts?

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