“What better place for truth than fiction?” Mat Johnson, Pym
Monkey See, Monkey Do? The Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie and Freddie's overseer, is expected to file a suit against a dozen or more big banks claiming their 'misrepresentation' and lack of due diligence in the packaging and sale of MBS led to massive losses for the taxpayers. The amount of recompense sought is unknown, but a previous settlement with UBS suggests it will be several billions of dollars. If the suit is successful, expect many similar suits to be filed, pre-empting the 50-state settlement being negotiated by state AGs. The action will not strengthen Bank of America in its struggle to survive.
Weakly Numbers: This week's magic number for initial unemployment claims was 409,000 and the moving 4-week average was 410,250. Usual prize for whoever can put the best positive spin on these numbers.
What's Wrong With These People? The GOP in Rep. Giffords’ district are raffling off a Glock handgun. No, not the one used to shoot her. Maybe she'll autograph it for them.
Pay To Play: Italian Primer Minister Berlusconi reportedly paid over half a million euros to procure prostitutes for his “bunga bunga” parties. Berlusconi says the payments were charitable donations to help a family with children who had fallen on hard times. This is separate from his current court case about using underage prostitutes at his parties. To quote the man, “I don't give a F***", Italy makes me feel like puking.”
Conspiracies R US: The US public has a hard time accepting that a bunch of Saudis armed with boxcutters didn't have some help on 9/11. But doubt seems natural. The Bush administration certainly lied their way into the Iraq war, so a certain degree of skepticism about the official version seems warranted.
Alphabeting: According to the “Q” ratio, the stock market is still 50 – 60% overvalued. The Q Ratio is the total price of the market divided by the replacement cost of all its companies. It involves a ginormous number of assumptions and guesses and backward looks and maybes and is probably about as good as tea leaves. Or investment advice.
Lay My Burden Down:At least 25 of the US corporations, averaging $1.9 billion each in profits, found enough loopholes to end up not paying any taxes and carry forward more than $400 million each in future write offs. Their CEOs pay averaged more than $16 million a year - far above the average for the S&P 500. Yes, we do need to reform our corporate tax laws.
Bad For Your Health: In US hospitals there are 200,000 deaths a year from medical errors and preventable infections. In the US, 1.7 million patients pick up infections and 1 in 7 die from them. In Europe only 1 in 122 with hospital-acquired infections die from them. It's that inefficient socialized healthcare.
The Payoff: Get that college degree and make big money, they say. What they don't say is that you'll make 4.5% less today than those who graduated 10 years ago if you are a male, 5.2% less for the ladies.
Quoted: “Mr. Obama wishes to be president of a country that does not exist. In his fantasy US, politicians bury differences in bipartisan harmony. In fact, he faces an opposition that would prefer their country to fail than their president to succeed. Ms Merkel, similarly, seeks a non-existent middle way between the German desire for its partners to abide by its disciplines and their inability to do any such thing.” Martin Wolf in the Financial Times.
From A to B: A Toyota Prius using gasoline made from tar sands has the same effect on climate change as a Hummer using regular gasoline. That is why Dr. James Hansen joined in the protest at the White House against the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline. He was among 520 arrested.
Under-guesstimate: A new report says that one out of every 25 business leaders could be psychopathic. This is a serious understatement, the true percentage is much, much higher. I know, I've worked for many of them.
War Is Hell: Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveal that US troops executed an entire Iraqi family, including a grandmother in her 70's and 5 children under the age of 5. All 11 were handcuffed and then shot in the head. The soldiers then called in an airstrike to hide the murders. This account differs significantly from the official US Army version of events.
Now It Can Be Told: Investment advice is one of the greatest scams of our time. Of any time. If this is news to you, you have my sympathy.
Porn O'Graph: Climbing out of the hole.