Wednesday, April 2, 2008

SAR #8094

Banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties
than standing armies. -- Thomas Jefferson

Eye of the Beholder: Giant tract-home builder Centex sold some $900 million of its land holdings for $161 million, then denied it had sold the property for 18 cents on the dollar, because it was currently only worth $528 million. Thus they sold it 30 cents on the dollar. "This," Centex claims, "is a good outcome, considering the broader financial context." The broader financial contesx is that they're broke.

Tool Kit: Our military-industrial complex government will stop at nothing to enrich themselves equip our forces to fight al-Qaida. That's why Joe Lieberman is pushing so hard for a new $81 billion submarine. All right, maybe that's not why...

Credit where Credit's not Due: US consumer borrowing rose in the first quarter as Americans charged more on their credit cards. But "after adjusting for inflation, consumer spending stalled." That means we didn't buy more, just paid more.

If Only: Turkey's Constitutional Court unanimously decided that the ruling Justice and Develoment Party should stand trial for being 'too religious'. They are charged with trying to turn Turkey into a country that "takes religion as its reference".

Party Game: Bennet Sedacca over at Minyanville has posted a neat guessing game: "Who Will Be The Next Bear?" He provides both clues and answers, so the prize is in the reading.

Tea Leaves: Farmers will plant abut 8% less corn this year than last, and the harvest is not expected to meet demand. Rationing by price will decide whether the cow or the car gets the crop.

Cynicism: The Bush administration is betting that the voters will tolerate inflation as long as the housing market is brought back to a boil. Watch for fictions designed to re-elect Republicans.

Boilerplate: Pardus Capital Management, a $2 billion hedge fund, has joined the parade and has frozen redemptions "to reduce the impact of market volatility" on their assets, because its assets had been “disproportionately affected by the recent market volatility.” In other words, they bet on the wrong horse.

Lukewarm: Scientists have found that a sea surface temperature rise as small as 0.26ºC leads to a 10% reduction in the breeding success of king penguins. This in turn suggests that the king penguin, if not the goose, is cooked.

Decoder Ring: The capitalists are bringing down Wall Street. The era of legalized greed, aided and enabled by Republican deregulation, may be ending. From masters of the universe to bankrupts. They can probably return the capes; the badges are non-refundable.

Everywhere You Want To Be: Mortgage lender Thornburg has been beset by "margin calls." (That means the banks want their money back.) It has lost 93% of its value in the last year. Thornburg tried to raise $1 billion by selling bonds with a 12% interest rate. Nobody wanted them. Now they're trying an 18% rate. Next month they'll just put it on Visa; about the same interest rate.

Confidence: The G7's Financial Stability Forum proposes that capital requirements and accounting regulations be "suspended"for troubled financial institutions. They had more recommendations - all but one involving the use of taxpayer money to bail out big financial institutions . The other recommendation was that banks tell the truth.

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