Monday, December 15, 2008

SAR #8350

There is no statute of limitations on war crimes.

Remember When? When we were young and foolish, we were taught that the US had three branches of government and that the power of Congress was the power of the purse. I don't remembering the Mulligan Rule: “Because Congress failed to act, we [the Treasury] will stand ready to prevent an imminent failure”

Stuff Happens: Torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and lots of other places has been directly tracked back to Donald Rumsfeld and to "the White House." Tenet knew it was illegal and sought covering memos from his superiors, and when you are Director of the CIA, your superiors work in that big white building across the Potomac. But none of those directly implicated - Ashcroft, Gonzales, Rumsfeld, Rice and Cheney - recall Bush being present at any of the discussions. Wonder if indictment, arrest and trial would help their memory. If not there's always enhanced interrogation techniques.

Roosting Chickens: Many of the prominent names stung by Mr. Madoff knew what he was claiming was too good to be true, but they thought he was simply taking advantage of insider trading. They didn't consider the possibility that he was simply a crook, as were they.

Suspicions Confirmed: Years back my mom would have a sale in her little shop by taking a 25¢ item and marking it 3 for $1. Worked every time. She should have been a liquidator.

Speed Kills: The 2007 IPCC suggested the Arctic Ocean might become free of summer ice by 2050 under their 'worst-case' scenario. Try 2015 instead, as an optimistic estimate. This will affect everyone on the planet. Not just the ice-free ocean, but warming of the permafrost is occuring three times faster than predicted, extending as much as 1000 miles inland and 100 feet deep. A large and sudden methane release seems certain, and after that nothing will be.

3 Card Monte: Goldman Sachs forecasts oil will go for $30 a barrel in 1Q09. Previously they predicted it would be $62, and before that they were aiming for $100, just after they set their hearts on $200.

Where's Tonto? Barry Ritholz is right; the idea that Bernard Madoff at 70 was spry enough to do all the paper-hanging necessary to run a $17 billion Ponzi scheme all by himself for nearly 10 years is simply not creditable. He had to have quite a bit of very trusted help and the help would have to have known exactly what they were doing. Doesn't pass the smell test.

Party Line: AIG has been caught paying another 2,000 employees annual bonuses under the rubric "retention." The recipients of the bonuses, which were as much as equal to their annual salary, were ordered to keep the payments secret. But no help for GM, say the Republicans.

Vocabulary Update: 'Withdrawal', when used in connection with 'Iraq', means 'permanent occupation'. For example, that part of the text that requires US troops withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30th doesn't apply to American soldiers, according to General Odierno. They're going to be "trainers and advisors". Reminds me of AIG's "retention bonuses."

Washing Hands: Christopher Cox says the credit collapse is just business as usual and that "financial markets, of course, are not perfect." As Chairman of the SEC his job was to work towards softening the blow, not simply advising us to relax and enjoy the inevitable.

Dollar A Gallon: Petroleum prices are far lower than the marginal drop in demand (as reported by both the EIA and the IEA) would support, so what's going on here? Investors - especially hedge funds - have been selling oil assets as quickly as they can. It's more a case of credit destruction than demand destruction.

New Speak: The GOP has redefined "workers" to mean only hourly unionized employees - at least when it comes to demanding wage cuts. Their version of a bailout did not demand any such sacrifice from management. Any questions, Class?

Rush In! We've reached the market bottom and a great bull market is about to begin. (CNBC told me). Don't worry about the failures beginning in the variable rate mortgage area, where the pay-option folks hang out. Yes, about three times as many of them are going to fail as there were subprimes - but that's not going to happen until 2010, 2011. Buy now. Buy anything, everything. Tell 'em Larry sent you.

All Together Now: Peak oil was the trigger, popping the unsustainable housing bubble which had given rise to mysterious credit derivatives destroying the economy while collapsing the stock markets and bringing down the last of US manufacturing. Meanwhile Paulson's friends steal billions while the government's budget debt reaches $1 trillion and people pay the Treasury to hold their money. Global Warming. Political corruption. Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The CO2-driven acidification of the oceans apparently affects large animals, too.