“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Will Today be a Zippity Doo Dah Day?

Britain FTSE 100 is up 8.22%

Germany DAX is up +4.03%

France CAC 40 is up +6.29%

Note: Desert Rat makes a guest performance at 2:40.


  1. We Censor in the Name of Protesting Tyranny? [Seth Leibsohn]

    That the Conference of Major Jewish Organizations has bowed to Democratic demands to disinvite Sarah Palin from their protest of Iran is another sad chapter in one tragic problem of major jewish organizations that I thought was changing. For the longest time, a lot of Republican Jews felt Jewish organizations merely tolerated them, like the unwanted cousins at Thanksgiving. A lot of us thought that was changing over the years, too. Evidently not. The "seat at the table" was just that, an occasional seat at the table, with the treatment being that as a guest, not a full and legitimate partner or host. Now, with the Republican party so much better positioned on their true interests than the Democratic party, the Conference has found itself in a real pickle because the majority of Jewish activists in this country are strongly liberal on social issues and have not known what to do about conservatives who actually are in better allignment with their foreign policy causes than liberals. Be it Iran, Israel, a strong America, the promotion of democracy abroad, missile defense, and the targeting of terrorists and terrorist organizations, it's the Republican party and conservatives who dominate the debate and take the hardest line, with a handful of Joe Lieberman Democrats. But now we see what these conflicted organization do: they allow Democratic party vetoes, and disinvite Republicans when it upsets Democrats to have them there. They really ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  2. Funny stuff, amigo.
    I was not planning on just taking a hobo kit with me, when I left, but it may come to that.

    j willie, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is the Law that repealled and replaced Glass-Steagall. It was derivitive trading that sunk AIG.
    Or so I've read, somewhere.

    Derivitive trading that Mr Gramm put beyond Federal policing in 2000, with a 256 page "amendment".
    But, that may not have been part of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, specifically, but part of the Budget Act, that year.

    Good to hear some old time politicin' is goin' on somewhere in the United States, cause it ain't happenin', here in AZ.

    VA, that'd be a possible flipper, as is New Mex and CO. RCP has NM leaning Obama now, which is the only change they've had, post Palin.

    Now we are reduced to watching the ticker, like a bunch of day traders, when all this time, thought I was in it for the "long haul".

    The RCP National Average has Obama/Biden up by 2.1%, today.
    They're not doing quite as well as the DAX.

    The DJIA, for the past year, down 19.79%, Zippity Doo Dah!

  3. As the WSJ says, today

    John McCain has made it clear this week he doesn't understand what's happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does. But on Thursday, he took his populist riffing up a notch and found his scapegoat for financial panic -- Christopher Cox, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    To give readers a flavor of Mr. McCain untethered, we'll quote at length: "Mismanagement and greed became the operating standard while regulators were asleep at the switch. The primary regulator of Wall Street, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) kept in place trading rules that let speculators and hedge funds turn our markets into a casino. They allowed naked short selling -- which simply means that you can sell stock without ever owning it. They eliminated last year the uptick rule that has protected investors for 70 years. Speculators pounded the shares of even good companies into the ground.

    "The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the President and has betrayed the public's trust. If I were President today, I would fire him."

    Wow. "Betrayed the public's trust." Was Mr. Cox dishonest? No. He merely changed some minor rules, and didn't change others, on short-selling. String him up! Mr. McCain clearly wants to distance himself from the Bush Administration. But this assault on Mr. Cox is both false and deeply unfair. It's also un-Presidential.

  4. Zippity doo dah Day

    The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which never should be reaped, nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting. The dust and stones of the street were as precious as gold. The gates were at first the end of the world, the green trees when I saw them first through one of the gates transported and ravished me; their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap, and almost mad with ecstasy, they were such strange and wonderful things. The men! O what venerable and reverend creatures did the aged seem! Immortal cherubims! And the young men glittering and sparkling angels and maids strange seraphic pieces of life and beauty! Boys and girls tumbling in the streets, and playing, were moving jewels. I knew not that they were born or should die. But all things abided eternally as they were in their proper places. Eternity was manifest in the light of the day, and something infinite behind everything appeared: which talked with my expectation and moved my desire. The city seemed to stand in Eden, or to be built in Heaven. The streets were mine, the temple was mine, the people were mine, their clothes and gold and silver was mine, as much their sparkling eyes, fair skins, and ruddy faces. The skies were mine, and so were the sun and moon and stars, and all the world was mine, and I the only specatator and enjoyer of it. I knew no churlish proprieties, nor bounds nor divisions; but all proprieties and divisions were mine: all treasures and the possessors of them..... And so it was that with much ado I was corrupted and made to learn the dirty devices of the world. Which now I unlearn, and become as it were a little child again, that I may enter into the Kingdom of God.

    Thomas Traherne

    Orient and Immortal Barley

  5. McCain Flunks Economics
    By Eugene Robinson

    WASHINGTON -- John McCain was telling the truth when he said that economics wasn't his strong suit. In response to what many economists have called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Republican nominee has sounded -- and let's be honest here -- totally, embarrassingly and dangerously clueless.

    His now-famous remark Monday about how "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" would almost by itself be enough to justify my assessment. But he committed what was probably an even worse gaffe on Tuesday when, as the behemoth insurance company AIG teetered on the brink, McCain took a stand. "I do not believe that the American taxpayer should be on the hook for AIG," he said. "We cannot have the taxpayers bail out AIG or anybody else."

    Within hours, the federal government had bailed out AIG to the tune of $85 billion. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and others who know how Wall Street works understood that if AIG were to collapse, much of the financial system might follow.

    McCain quickly changed his tune, saying the government was "forced" to rescue AIG because of "failed regulation, reckless management and a casino culture on Wall Street." That sounds OK, but wait a minute. If he had any idea of what he was talking about -- if he had any inkling of how big AIG is, or how central the company has become -- then why on earth would he have taken a stand against a bailout in the first place? Doesn't he have economic advisers who could fill him in?

  6. Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio---musts. Unless they can get maybe Michigan.

  7. George Bush shows Putin who the Bitch is.

    Putin was hiding under the covers or maybe in the un-cock pit of one of his tired old bombers. He had to slam the doors short on his stock market.

    This morning the little runt opened the curtains and saw that good ol George Bush was giving covering fire.

    Putty dashed from his hole and let the charging US cavalry save his sorry KGB ass. The Russian market is up 20%.

    George Bush to KGB: KMA

  8. McCain released new television ads Wednesday on the subject of the economy. "I'll meet this financial crisis head on," he says in one. "I won't tolerate a system that puts you and your family at risk. Your savings, your jobs -- I'll keep them safe."


    In other words, McCain is running against his own record.

    To cite one example, McCain backed landmark legislation in 1999 that removed the walls between banks, investment firms and insurance companies. That bill allowed a company like AIG to expand beyond its traditional insurance business -- which is still profitable -- into exotic new products that ultimately brought the company down.

    McCain, who told The Wall Street Journal in March that "I'm always for less regulation," now asks voters to believe he will be a champion of tough, unblinking oversight. He's shocked and outraged that Wall Street's preening Masters of the Universe threw a drunken toga party and smashed all the furniture -- but he helped buy the beer and told the cops to look the other way.

    Here's something that really ought to grab everyone's attention: McCain supports George W. Bush's idea of channeling at least some Social Security funds into "personal accounts" that individuals would invest on Wall Street. Some of that money would have been entrusted to firms such as Bear Stearns (failed), Lehman Brothers (failed) and Merrill Lynch (sold at a fire sale). Imagine what this crisis would be like if Americans' Social Security benefits were evaporating along with their housing values and their 401(k) accounts.

  9. I'm reading this book by two nice Berkeley ladies about the first thousand years of Christianity. It was pretty much a zippity doo dah outlook all those years, as they tell me the cross and the dead body of Jesus on it didn't really come into art and such until around 1000AD in Europe. Baptism wasn't thought of as washing away sins, but being reborn to an earthly paradise. The idea was paradise could be built or recognized right here, and the idea of a sacrifice to take away the sins of the world wasn't what they had been concentrating on. When the first conversions via the sword, the heretic hunting and the first internal and external crusades happened, the older idea of recovering Eden right here gradually gave way. Jesus earlier on was often depicted as a young shepard, or as the fountain of life, or at the center of the four life giving rivers of Eden, the Pisan, Gihan, Euphrates and Tigris, etc. Don't know how accurate they are, but seem to make a good case. Then the dreary doctrine of atonement for sin, the sacrifice, etc. took over. No more zippity doo dah day. Which doo dah day 20th and 21st century Christian theology is trying to recover in its way.

  10. Palin's mad e-mail hacker is a democratic state senator's son.

    The senator may have some connection to a guy in the Obama campaign.

    The senator isn't talking much.

    Can't these democrats control the behavior of their own children?

    The double standard will continue. If Obama had his e-mails hacked, there'd be no end of it.

    There's something really amiss and sick in our country when a decent person like Palin gets attacked like she has been, just for being decent. It's sick.

  11. Van Gogh's Last Painting--Not Such A Doo Dah Day

    Those crows of death flapping around.

    Back to bed for a couple hours here.

  12. Hey, Deuce, I want to borrow your car. I'm going to take it out and sell it.

    Does that make any sense?

    Jes sayin

  13. I used to take out all the food scraps in the morning and ring a bell. Within 30 seconds my crows would come in for KP duty. After the Muslims transported mosquito larva into New York, West Nile started to harvest the crows.

    Most of them are dead now. The bell is silent.

  14. It must be assumed then, that Michelle Obama cannot be considered decent?

    For that woman has certainly been attacked, and she is not running for any political office.

    Todd Palin, another candidate's spouse, has advocated the deconstruction of the United States, stood as a traitor to the principles of the Republic, and is said to be a "handsome hunk".

  15. I see Obama's Orifice, the Oracle of Omaha is not doing his patriotic duty and sending his money in the form of taxes to his uncle, nor did he step up and do a Ross Perot rescue mission. No, he is doing what he is best at, sucking up the unfortunate as they slip into the mud.

    "Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which today agreed to buy Constellation Energy Group Inc., is increasing the pace of deals as debt markets freeze up and stocks fall.

    The deal to pay $4.7 billion for Constellation is Buffett's eighth acquisition announced since October, compared with six in the prior 12 months, when the largest was a $350 million purchase of an underwear and pajama company. Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire, which had $31.2 billion in cash on June 30, is acting as buyouts by competitors slow amid a worldwide credit crunch.

    ``This is the kind of environment that opens up more opportunities for someone like Berkshire who does still have a lot of cash,'' said Gary Ransom, an analyst with Fox-Pitt Kelton Cochran Caronia Waller. ``Opportunities to put it to work are expanding right now.''

  16. Deconstructing the Republic would strengthen the Republic. The opposite is a monarchy in disguise.

  17. Uncle Remus! I love Uncle Remus! Did anyone else's grandmother read them the Br'er Rabbit stories?

    Sometime, bob, you should read A World Lit Only By Fire.

  18. When you look at the clip, keep in mind that each frame was hand painted by artists and then filmed. That cannot be replicated digitally. Hundreds of artists and artisans making magic.

  19. Ms Cindy has already taken up where Princess Di left off, wanting a global ban on land mines.

    Already promoting policies detremental to the US military and individual soldiers.

    That, amigo, is where the potential for Monarchy akways resides, under the sheets, with the President.

  20. The wisest of monarchs always knew that the most sought of treasures were always under the sheets.

  21. There's something really amiss and sick in our country when a decent person like Palin gets attacked like she has been, just for being decent. It's sick.

    Fri Sep 19, 07:53:00 AM EDT

    Oh, come on, you tea party skirt.

    She's not being attacked because she's decent. She's being attacked because it's election season and she's a genuine boon (as in Daniel, one might say) to the other guy.

    I cop to not particularly caring for her - and this is one of those none-too-numerous occasions when all the women in my family save one endearing flake agree - but I like to think I hang on to just enough objectivity to say, "Hogwash."

  22. Well-versed in the history of animation. I grew up on Disney and my daughter long entertained the desire to be an animator.

    For some wonderful (Belgian-Canadian produced) old school animation, see The Triplets of Belleville.

  23. 2164th: When you look at the clip, keep in mind that each frame was hand painted by artists and then filmed. That cannot be replicated digitally. Hundreds of artists and artisans making magic.

    And the last time it was ever shown in the USA was the late seventies, and it was never released on tape or DVD, except in part, because its "racist". Gone With The Wind is next.

  24. A Time to Worry
    I’m scared.

    By Kathleen Parker

    In a rational world, this presidential election would be between Hillary Clinton and John McCain, with their respective running mates Barack Obama and (maybe) Sarah Palin.

    But we do not live in a rational world. We live in a world of emotional excess and so are left to ponder the qualifications of two relatively young, relatively inexperienced candidates — even if one of them isn’t running for president.

    Confession: I love Barack Obama and I love Sarah Palin — both for different reasons. They both also scare me to death.

    I love Obama for his style, grace, intellect, and his way with words. I want the healing power that an Obama presidency could deliver to this country.

    I love Palin for her chutzpah, courage, maverickness, and her authenticity. As a woman, I want her to be fantastic. I want her to expose the fraudulence of identity politics and show the world that Woman is not just one thing.

    But my inner eye is watching. And my inner voice is saying: These are not good enough reasons.

    I worry.

    I worry that Obama isn’t serious enough about terrorism and free markets. I worry about his out-of-touchness with the people who, he says, cling to guns and religion because of frustration and anger. I worry about a worldview that may have been shaped in part by a spiritual mentor who damns America in church and thinks the government invented the AIDS virus to kill blacks.

    I worry about Obama’s over-intellectualizing — that he will get lost in a maze of deep thoughts and fail to be decisive when necessary.

    I worry that Sarah Palin won’t set foot in that maze.

    I worry that she won’t intellectualize enough. I worry about her certitude and her slight offness. Whatever her charms, anyone in public office who thinks out loud about banning books might be missing some aces in her deck.

    I worry about a worldview that might have been shaped in part by a minister who believes that Alaska someday will be home to Christian renegades arriving for the Rapture.


  25. She concludes: "Whatever happens, we may deserve what we get. On the other hand, maybe there’s still time to wise up: Obama boots Biden and taps Clinton; McCain dumps Palin and picks Romney. It’s a concept."

  26. Sooo my follow up question would be:
    Is it really "affordable housing" if you cant afford to pay for it?

    How much did adding these newly qualified buyers contribute to the real estate price bubble? Seems a vicious cycle. Lending money on homes not worth the price to folks not capable of paying the artificially high mortgage.

    Not that I know what I'm Sears card is charging me 29% right now....yeah I feel stupid.

  27. Look at it this way: Now those homes are *REALLY* affordable.

  28. From Tyler Cowen at (plenty of links within):

    Did the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act cause the housing bubble?

    No. That is one common myth among the progressive left. Because it involves financial deregulation and the unpopular Phil Gramm, the Act is vilified and assumed to be part of a broader chain of evil events. Here are some of the articles which promulgate the myth that the Act caused or helped cause the housing bubble. One version of the claim originates with Robert Kuttner, but if you read his article (and the others) you'll see there's not much to the charge. Kuttner doesn't do more than paint the Act as part of the general trend of allowing financial conflicts of interest.

    Most of all, the Act enabled financial diversification and thus it paved the way for a number of mergers. Citigroup became what it is today, for instance, because of the Act. Add Shearson and Primerica to the list. So far in the crisis times the diversification has done considerably more good than harm. Most importantly, GLB made it possible for JP Morgan to buy Bear Stearns and for Bank of America to buy Merrill Lynch. It's why Wachovia can consider a bid for Morgan Stanley. Wince all you want, but the reality is that we all owe a big thanks to Phil Gramm and others for pushing this legislation. Brad DeLong recognizes this and hail to him. Megan McArdle also exonerates the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

    Here is a good critique of GLB, on the grounds that it may extend "too big to fail" to too many institutions. That may yet happen but not so far.

    The Act had other provisions concerning financial privacy.

    Maybe you can blame some conflict of interest problems at Citigroup and Smith Barney on the Act. But again that's not the mortgage crisis or the housing bubble and furthermore those problems have been minor in scale. Ex-worker has a very sensible comment. The most irresponsible financial firms were not, in general, owned by commercial banks. Here's lots of informed detail on GLB and the bank failure process. Here is another good article on how GLB didn't actually change Glass-Steagall that much.

    Here's a Paul Krugman post on GLB; he attacks Phil Gramm but he doesn't explain the mechanism by which GLB did so much harm. The linked article has no punch on this score either, although you will learn that Barack Obama has scapegoated GLB, again without a good story much less a true story.

    I may soon cover the Commodity Futures Modernization Act as well.

    Posted by Tyler Cowen on September 19, 2008 at 06:48 AM in History | Permalink

  29. I can argue almost any of this "financial" brouhaha round, or square; but, I can't, for the life of me, understand why it's okay to sell something you don't own.

    "Borrowed," or not, it's still something you don't own.

  30. ya know America is a truly amazing place - it is truly the land of plenty.

    Where else on this planet can a person get a monster home and a monster truck to drive anywhere powered by cheap oil all the while rich people get really really really rich and the government guarantees it all while, at the same time, giving everyone tax cuts.

    TRULY AMAZING! America must be blessed by God.

  31. And Brad Delong:

    Toward Universal Banking

    Barry Eichengreen pointe this out to me yesterday, and I could have blogged it first if I had been smart.

    Justin Fox:

    Aren't you sort of glad Congress repealed Glass-Steagall?: Was deregulation a factor in bringing us to our financial system to its current teetering state? Yeah, sure. But the deregulatory decision most often cited by lefty (and not so lefty) observers--the 1999 repeal of the Depression-era Glass Steagall Act that had separated depositary banking from investment banking--is actually looking pretty good this Monday morning. Without Glass-Steagall repeal, Bank of America wouldn't be able to buy Merrill Lynch, the only bit of arguably positive news to come out of this crazy weekend. And more generally, it is looking like investment banks that don't have big consumer banking franchises aren't up to the challenge of surviving modern-day financial crises. Of the five big independent investment banks that existed six months ago, only two survive.

    Now it is true is that we failed to replace the archaic Glass-Steagall rules with a sensible, modernized regulatory structure. But don't worry, we'll be getting to that soon enough!

  32. don't worry - be happy, it'll get fixed!

    trish, if those things you cite are online it would be handy if you'd just copy and paste the link below your citations (no need to make a nice clickable link). Some of the stuff would be worth following up on. For example that one article refers to a whole host of other links that I'd like to peruse.

  33. Give us instead small homes, Shriner cars, pricey oil and higher taxes.

    You know.

    Like Europe.

    That's some stale, snide boilerplate ya got there, ash.



  35. Thanks for the link.

    Ya, snide and dripping with sarcasm.

    Don't 'real' conservatives care about balanced budgets, at least in the long run? Do you really think the government can take on all this stuff (Fannie, Freddie, Bear Stearns, AIG, and that whale of a liability that seems to be working through Congress) and get/keep their tax cuts? If so, that's the weirdest economic model I've ever seen. Truly amazing if it works.

  36. And furthermore (from

    Glass Steagall: The Real History
    Alex Tabarrok

    Many wise people are now recognizing that the repeal of Glass-Steagall was one of the few saving graces of the current crisis. Let's thank President Clinton (and Phil Gramm) for that wise bit of deregulation. The following potted history of the law, however, is all too typical:

    Glass-Steagall was one of the many necessary measures taken by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic Congress to deal with the Great Depression. Crudely speaking, in the 1920s commercial banks (the types that took deposits, made construction loans, etc.) recklessly plunged into the bull market, making margin loans, underwriting new issues and investment pools, and trading stocks. When the bubble popped in 1929, exposure to Wall Street helped drag down the commercial banks....The policy response was to erect a wall between investment banking and commercial banking.

    Given a history like this people wonder how repealing the law could have been a good thing. But a significant academic literature has investigated these claims and rejected them. Eugene White, for example, found that national banks with security affiliates were much less likely to fail than banks without affiliates. Randall Kroszner (now at the Fed.) and Raghuram Rajan found that (jstor) securities issued by unified banks were (ex-post) of higher quality that those issued by investment banks. A powerful book by George Benston went through the entire Pecora hearings which supposedly revealed the problems with unified banking and found them to be a complete sham. My colleague, Carlos Ramirez later showed that the separation of commercial and investment banking increased the cost of external finance (jstor). Finally, my own work (pdf) unearthed the real reasons for the separation in a titanic battle between the Morgans and Rockefellers.

    Thus, the history of banking before Glass-Steagall and now our recent experience after is consistent, generally speaking unified banking is safer and repeal was a good idea.

  37. A question for the financial whiz's out there (Buddy? J Willie?).

    Don't you need someone to take the other side of a short trade, even a naked short?

  38. Michelle Obama is a slow burning fuse, TNT waiting to go off, was behind the Hillary fiasco, went to a racist church and stayed with her husband when he did deals with criminals. According to some here. Todd fishes salmon and works the oil fields. And wins 2,000 miles sled dog races. Let's see Michelle do that!

    I read Br'er Rabbit, myself.

    Trish is on to you, Ash.

  39. Don't you need someone to take the other side of a short trade, even a naked short?

    If nobody shows up, you become your own buyer, no? But I'm not awake yet.

  40. Glass Steagall's repeal IS directly responsible for AIG's problems because an insurance company would not have otherwise been permitted to guarantee credit swaps.

    Glass Steagall had no causative effect, however, on the mortgage business. Securitization of mortgages began in the 1970's. It worked fine until Wall Street began putting porfolios of mortgages into a legal/financial blender that chopped those 30 year payment streams of interest and principal to a single lender/investor into interest payment from years 1-5 going into one portfolio, principal payments from year into another, interest from years 5-12 into another and so on. Nobody holds the mortgage, which disappeared in the blender; only the pieces of it remain and they are widely dispersed. So, if the mortgagee has a problem and needs to renegotiate his loan, who does he do it with? Answer - nobody. That's why no one can value these mortgage backed securities for the last year plus of this crisis.

  41. "Don't 'real' conservatives care about balanced budgets..."

    ...not to mention spending restraint? Depends on the conservative(s) in question.

    We're a looooooong way from 1994. Light years.

    What Obama promises (what does he not promise?) is no fix.

  42. The other side of a short trade is when someone goes long and buys the stock. Look at Rufus' analogy.

  43. a naked short is in reality a post dated check.

  44. j willie wrote:

    "So, if the mortgagee has a problem and needs to renegotiate his loan, who does he do it with? Answer - nobody. That's why no one can value these mortgage backed securities for the last year plus of this crisis."

    Sorry to disagree with you sir but the mortgage backed securities can't be valued because there is no market for them; nobody wants to buy the suckers (Well, actually it gives you a value, zero, but that is also absurd.)


    A short trade is where you borrow a stock from someone at a particular price and then return it at a later date. If the price goes down then you win. If the price goes up you lose. If no one wants to lend you the stock then you can't short it - it takes two to tango. That's why I'm puzzled by all this wailing about short selling. Maybe there is some mechanism where a broker must lend a stock if requested to but that's seems pretty darn 'unfree'. Maybe j willie will help on that.

  45. Blogger 2164th said...

    a naked short is in reality a post dated check.

    but you've got to get someone to accept that post dated check, don't you?

  46. ash —

    America is blessed by God and it is truly amazing.

  47. "A broker/dealer can accept a short sale order from a customer
    or effect a short sale for its own account so long as it
    meets the following conditions:
    ■ It has borrowed the security or made a good faith
    arrangement to borrow the security, or
    ■ It reasonably believes it can locate and borrow the
    security by the settlement day, and
    ■ It has documented compliance with either of the
    above two requirements.
    Some forms of short selling are illegal. When a seller sells stock
    short but has not borrowed the security or made a good faith
    arrangement to borrow the security, or does not reasonably
    believe it can borrow the security by the settlement day, the short
    seller is probably engaged in impermissible “naked” short selling."


    McCain’s Moronic Critique of Cox

    I’ve never really trusted John McCain on the economy. On this issue, he’s simply the lesser of two evils. Barack Obama knows what he wants to do to the economy and what he wants to do scares the crap out of me. McCain doesn’t know very much of anything about the economy but I’m counting on him to appoint somebody sensible to handle the economy while McCain goes off to do National Greatness stuff.

    Unfortunately, McCain’s shortcomings with respect to the economy are on full display in his attack on SEC Chairman Chris Cox:

    John McCain ratcheted up his increasingly populist language today, using a campaign event in Iowa to say he would fire Christopher Cox, the former Republican congressman and Bush-appointed head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    McCain, grasping for the right tone to express outrage at the week’s financial meltdown, used his harshest rhetoric yet in an effort to distance himself from the unpopular Republican administration that has presided over the crisis.

    “The Chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the President and has betrayed the public’s trust,” McCain said, reading deliberately from set remarks at a rally in Cedar Rapids. “If I were President today, I would fire him.”

    McCain didn’t mention Cox, a former member of Congress from California, by name, but laid the blame squarely at his agency’s feet.

    “The primary regulator of Wall Street, the Securities and Exchange Commission kept in place trading rules that let speculators and hedge funds turn our markets into a casino,” McCain is to say. “They allowed naked short selling—which simply means that you can sell stock without ever owning it. They eliminated last year the uptick rule that has protected investors for 70 years. Speculators pounded the shares of even good companies into the ground.”

    There’s so much stupidity here, it’s hard to know where to begin. So in no particular order:

    * There is very little evidence that stock market speculation has been an important contributing factor to the present financial crisis.

    * Law abiding stock market speculation contributes to market liquidity, making markets more allocatively efficient.

    * If the SEC is to be criticized for its handling of naked short selling, the agency should be criticized for caving to political pressure to ban the practice not for having been tardy in doing so. Short selling is a key component in maintaining market liquidity and naked short selling differs but little in this regard from standard short selling: “In permissible short selling, the party owed shares is the security lender (who used to own the shares before lending them for short selling), while the party owning the shares is the new buyer. In naked short selling, the party owed the shares is the new buyer, while the party owning the shares is (still) the current owner. The buyer in both cases is the same, so the price should not be different. The only difference is who acts as the effective lender of the security: in permissible short selling, the lender is the current owner; in naked short selling, the new owner acts as the effective lender. From a price perspective, it is difficult to see how that matters.” In short, the hysteria over naked short selling is, well, hysterics.

    * Even if naked short selling were a problem, it is not in any way related to the present financial crisis: ” Repeat after me: The trouble is not with short-sellers. The trouble is not with short-sellers. The trouble is with an over-levered financial system built on a house of cards comprised of under-collateralized toxic paper that was applauded all the way up by “housing is the American dream” nutters who couldn’t see that vast expansions in thinly-traded credit are a path to economic ruin.”

    * The uptick rule provided that a security generally could be sold “at a price above the price at which the immediately preceding sale was effected, or at the last sale price if it is higher than the last different price.” It was ineffectual in regulating short selling, did not prevent manipulation, and reduced market liquidity. It was a dumb rule whose time had come and gone. It died unlamented and unloved.

    * There is very little the SEC could have done to prevent the present financial sector problems. Sub-prime mortgages, commercial banking practices, use of the Fed discount window, and so on are all way outside the scope of the SEC’s jurisidiction.

    * Although I have criticized Chris Cox from time to time on specific issues, I have been highly impressed with his overall handling of the SEC. He is one of the moste politically astute Chairmen in the agency’s history, while also being very knowledgable on technical issues. Where he has done things I didn’t like, it has often been because Congress or powerful interest groups left him no real choice in the matter.

    In sum, this is McCain at his worst. Populist. Hot tempered. Shooting from the hip.

    Update: Chris Cox’s tempered but firm response is here.

    Update: Some left-leaning blogs are criticizing McCain for the one thing he got more or less right. E.g., Blue Texan at Firedoglake, who demonstrates that it’s not just McCain who can make moronic comments by shooting off his mouth without knowing of what he speaks:

    And McPalin’s really shitty week just got worse.

    ABC News’ David Wright reports: At a joint rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa Thursday, Republican John McCain slammed the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) for being “asleep at the switch” saying that if he were president, he would fire Chris Cox, the chairman of the SEC since 2005 and a former Republican congressman.

    Hellz yeah! You tell ‘em Maverick!


    But while the president nominates and the Senate confirms the SEC chair, a commissioner of an independent regulatory commission cannot be removed by the president.

    Bah. Since when do Republicans care what the Constitution says?

    Ditto Steven Benen, who erroneously claims that “the president cannot fire an SEC chair. It’s procedurally impossible.”

    The question is not one of the Constitution, but rather one of statute. “The creation, composition, and powers of the SEC are found in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The commission consists of five members who are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The terms of the commissioners are staggered and the basic length of each term is five years. No more than three of the commissioners may be members of the same political party. The statute does not provide for a chairman. Until 1950, the Chairman was elected annually. Following Reorganization Plan No. 10 of 1950 (see, Reorganization Act of 1949, 5 U.S.C. §§ 901-913), the President designates the chairman. Pursuant to this Reorganization Plan, the chairman succeeded to most of the executive and administrative functions of the commission.” S.E.C. v. Blinder, Robinson & Co., Inc., 855 F.2d 677, 681 (10th Cir. 1988).

    The President’s powers with respect to appointment and removal of commissioners from the commission thus differ from the President’s power with respect to the appointment and removal of one of those commissioners from the office of Chairman. As to the former, “The Act does not expressly give to the President the power to remove a commissioner. However, for the purposes of this case, we accept appellants’ assertions in their brief, that it is commonly understood that the President may remove a commissioner only for ‘inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.’” Id. Whether the President could remove Cox from the Commision on one of these grounds is debatable, at best, but at least theoretically it’s possible.

    What is not debatable, however, is that “The Chairman of the SEC serves as such solely at the pleasure of the President.” Harvey L. Pitt & Karen L. Shapiro, Securities Regulation by Enforcement: A Look Ahead at the Next Decade, 7 Yale J. on Reg. 149, 280 n.557 (1990). Indeed, the Tenth Circuit so held in the Blinder, Robinson case cited above. See 855 F.2d at 681, stating that “as the President has the power to choose the chairman of the SEC from its commissioners to serve an indefinite term, it follows that the chairman serves at the pleasure of the President.”

    Hence, when McCain said “The Chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the President,” he was right at the very least insofar as Cox’s position as Chairman (as opposed to his position as a commissioner) is concerned.

  49. Ash: Where else on this planet can a person get a monster home and a monster truck to drive anywhere powered by cheap oil all the while rich people get really really really rich and the government guarantees it all while, at the same time, giving everyone tax cuts.

    Now all we need is the Rapture so Jesus can beam us true believers up before the bills come due.

  50. Sorry, Trish:
    al-Bob is illiterate.

  51. Joe Biden the millstone around Barack Obama's neck

    So do not be surprised if the Obama attack on lobbyists fades away quite quickly. Do not be astonished, either, if the Democrat assault on Sarah Palin over the "Bridge to Nowhere" is similarly petering out. Now that the record has been examined, it emerges that Palin did at first support earmark spending on the Ketchikan bridge, but then killed it off, as she correctly stated, preferring to spend Federal funding on other infrastructure programmes.

    But not everybody got off the carrousel so smartly: both Barack Obama and Joe Biden voted in Congress for the Bridge to Nowhere, even opposing a proposal to shift the earmark funds to Hurricane Katrina relief. John McCain opposed the Ketchikan bridge earmark funding. Funny how history contradicts myth. Meanwhile, news is filtering through of much more dangerous damage that Joe Biden is allegedly inflicting on the Democrat campaign but, if it stands up, that is for another post.

  52. I've got a Hooters Bogota t-shirt for the barfly who posts a link to the EZ Read, brightly colored, picture book version of all this.

  53. Kathleen Parker is such a hack, I almost wrote a letter to National Review to tear her miserable ass a new one.
    ...then I just accepted the reality that NR is just not what it used to be, intellect-wise.

    "I love Obama for his style, grace, intellect, and his way with words. I want the healing power that an Obama presidency could deliver to this country."

    oooh, yeah, Mr articulate Telephoney.
    Bringing us the unity of Alinsky, Farakahn, and Wright.

    Parker is such a pathetic joke of "conservative intellect."

  54. I was less interested in what she had to say about Obama than what she had to say about Palin, with which I agree.

    But don't hold back, Doug. Keeping it all bottled up isn't good for you.

  55. Cox is at the helm of the good ship Titanic.

    The Black Caucus/Democrat party Fueled Real Estate Bubble was the Iceberg.

    I predicted Big John would blow it by not letting Palin go out and attack the Corrupt Democrats most responsible:
    For once I was right.

  56. Parker reads like a liberal feminist to me, not a "conservative commentator"

    Has Palin ever banned a single book?

  57. "Cox is at the helm of the good ship Titanic."

    The above argues that this is not, in fact, the case - that this reflects ignorance of the SEC's role and statutory limits.

  58. Sounds to me like Cox is being made the butt boy.

  59. Whose Bailout Is It?

    Remember this when a Democrat-led Congress holds hearings — as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now promises — and lambastes "the private sector" and "Bush economic policies" for these market meltdowns. Neither deserves the blame.

    President Bush tried to reform Fannie and Freddie in 2004 but was rebuffed.
    A Democrat-led Congress, with some help from weak GOP members, has made repeated mistakes in turning our world-class financial system into an over-regulated, politicized piggy bank for Democratic causes and candidates (see editorial above).

    Virtually all the mistakes have been caused by errors in regulation — not by "corporate greed,"
    as liberal Democrats would have it. Corporations follow the signals and guidelines set by Washington. When those are faulty, bad things happen and taxpayers pay.
    So Big John and Palin focus on corporate greed, not the much more responsible corrupt Democrats.

  60. That was my point about Cox, guess I didn't make it clearly.

  61. Ash, with comments like this - "but the mortgage backed securities can't be valued because there is no market for them; nobody wants to buy the suckers (Well, actually it gives you a value, zero, but that is also absurd.)" - you simply reveal you ignorance. They are not in fact "worthless", but they are difficult to value absent the ability to restructure them. I'm guessing that rationalizing the restructuring process is a fundamental objective of Paulson's plan for taking hundreds of billions of these assets off the market into Treasury or whatever entity they create for that purpose.

    Here's a tutorial on why the decomposition of mortgages lies at the heart of the security valuation problem from the creator of mortgage-backed securities, Lewis Ranieri.

  62. Doug: both Barack Obama and Joe Biden voted in Congress for the Bridge to Nowhere, even opposing a proposal to shift the earmark funds to Hurricane Katrina relief. John McCain opposed the Ketchikan bridge earmark funding.

    That's something I didn't know. McCalin should be crafting an ad to that effect.

  63. j willie wrote:

    "you simply reveal you ignorance. They are not in fact "worthless", but they are difficult to value absent the ability to restructure them."

    You seem to like to play the market sage but it is your ignorance that is showing.

    Enough with the name calling.

    Sure, they have some value. The problem is how to determine that value. Mark to Market is often how we value things. The problem is no one wants to buy them. You can pontificate all you want on why there are problems (decoupling lender from lendee, mixing 30 year notes with 5 year, sub prime with prime ect.) but the problem lays on the market which we use to determine its value (its worth what someone is willing to pay) and right now no one is willing to buy the suckers.

    ole Hank Paulson today on the problems:

    "Paulson Explains Need for Plan to Buy Mortgages

    * Print
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    Article Tools Sponsored By
    Published: September 19, 2008

    WASHINGTON — An enormous, taxpayer-financed program to buy up bad mortgages and other distressed debt is necessary to protect the savings and aspirations of millions of Americans, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said on Friday.

    “We’re talking hundreds of billions” of dollars, Mr. Paulson said at a briefing in which he underscored the depth of the problem, pledged to work with Congress to address it quickly and voiced optimism that, in the end, the country would emerge from the financial chaos.


    Mr. Paulson said that when the country has put the crisis behind it — “which we will” — there must be a comprehensive drive to shore up a federal regulatory structure that he called “sub-optimal, duplicative and outdated.”

    “This is a critical debate for another day,” Mr. Paulson said."

  64. "That's something I didn't know. McCalin should be crafting an ad to that effect."
    Sadly, he'd rather attack "Corporate Greed" than Corrupt Dems. I predicted.

  65. Today, McCain Updates his attacks, shifting to the Major Culprits.

  66. Somebody pressed his reset button.

  67. "Rescue plan to cost a trillion"

    Anybody remember when Wilbur Mills said, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking some real money" ?
    Ash: Where else on this planet can a person get a monster home and a monster truck to drive anywhere powered by cheap oil all the while rich people get really really really rich and the government guarantees it all while, at the same time, giving everyone tax cuts.

    Not in Canada.

  68. Tough Decision Coming -

    In the current crisis, their biggest backers have been Democrats such as Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (Mass.). Two members of Mr. Obama's political circle, James A. Johnson and Franklin D. Raines, are former chief executives of Fannie Mae.

    On the Outside Now, Watching Fannie Falter

    In the four years since he stepped down as Fannie Mae's chief executive under the shadow of a $6.3 billion accounting scandal, Franklin D. Raines has been quietly constructing a new life for himself. He has shaved eight points off his golf handicap, taken a corner office in Steve Case's D.C. conglomeration of finance, entertainment and health-care companies and more recently, taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.

  69. Biden: Drunk Driver Killed My Wife

    Wrong, driver was found not responsible.

    But, maybe Biden was drinking again, when he said this.

  70. (O'bama Claims McCain's ad about Raines is false.)

    WaPo wrote otherwise.

  71. Stephen Bainbridge on Cox, taken from the above:

    Although I have criticized Chris Cox from time to time on specific issues, I have been highly impressed with his overall handling of the SEC. He is one of the moste politically astute Chairmen in the agency’s history, while also being very knowledgable on technical issues. Where he has done things I didn’t like, it has often been because Congress or powerful interest groups left him no real choice in the matter.

    Will McCain back into a retraction?

  72. 'One of the oldest written languages on earth, Sumarian became the scientific, sacred, ceremonial and literary language for the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and many other surrounding cultures for centuries, despite the fact that it was related to no other language in the region and that, to become fluent, one had to master its separate dialects for men and women.'

    from "Saving Paradise--How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire" by Rita Brock and Rebecca Parker, who look like aging lovers.

    The Sumerians were a mysterious lot, seeming to have come down from the north at an unknown earlier time. They figured out the periods of the planets, and their early kings would commit courtly suicide, taking the whole retinue with them, upon the completion of the orbit of Jupiter or Saturn.

    Times up.

    If Abram were a Sumerian, coming from Ur, and the Sumerians were a first wave of the northern Aryan invasions, Abram might have been an Aryan. :)

    Which might make Mat a Swede:)

    Yo, bro!

  73. hehehe--news travels fast--my friend Dale has Habu's prediction of Biden being flushed for Hillary, already this morning--

    On or about October 5th, Biden will excuse himself from the ticket, citing
    health problems, and he will be replaced by Hillary.? This is timed to occur
    after the VP debate on 10/2.

    There have been talks all weekend about how to proceed with this info.
    Generally, the feeling is that we should all go ahead and get it out there
    to as many blog sites and personal email lists as is possible.? I have
    already seen a few short blurbs about this - the 'health problem' cited in
    those articles was aneurysm.? Probably many of you have heard the same

    However, at this point, with this inside info from the DNC, it looks like
    this Obama strategy will be a go.? Therefore, it seems that the best
    strategy is to get out in front of this Obama maneuver,? spell it out in
    detail, and thereby expo se it for the grand manipulation that it is.?

    So, let's start mixing this one up and cut the Obamites off at the pass -
    send this info out to as many people as you can - post about it on websites
    and blogs - etc.

    from Dale to me

    I don't buy it, myself.

  74. Looks like there's nothing like a financial meltdown to get the markets booming.

  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

  76. no bobal it's not the meltdown but the promise of Uncle Sam turning over taxpayers (wait for you tax increase) money to all the holders of junk securities.

  77. On the other hand, Obama has never shown the slightest reluctance to throw somebody under the bus when expediency demands, so maybe Biden's days are numbered.

    The road behind the bus is littered with Obama roadkill.

  78. The race is close enough that deliberately throwing it into upheaval is the last thing anyone would do.

    There's a great book, Freedom in the Ancient World, in which Herbert J. Muller pointed out that the fixed concept of freedom appears in the Sumerian cuneiform - first popping up, ironically, in a royal statement regretting its steady erosion and making some attempt at restoration.

  79. So, it now seems, it may not have been the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, but that 256 page Gramm Amendment to the 2000 Budget Act.

    Mr Leach and Bliley may deserve a pass. Or may not.

    Mr Gramm is still in the target area, though he was thrown off the bus, along with Ms Carly Fiorina.

  80. ain't panic interesting? A quote I saw today justifying the bailout, whatever the cost "You don't worry about the long term if the patient dies on the table"

  81. The Sumerians seemed an odd lot. On the one hand, the society was highly structured, doing a dance with the stars, everyman in his station, the whole society a reflexion of the moving and fixed celestial lights. In the early days at least, society held things more or less in common, the land, the cattle etc. Some of the early tablets reflect this, according to my book.

    Yet they seem to have had beer, gambling, and created the myths and stories many of which found their way into the Bible. Eden, for instance.

    This book says though, that they seem to have had a little lower opinion of man, than the Hebrews, as they conceived of the gods tiring, and creating man from the mud, to take over the work.

    Campbell says freedom made a leap, when some bright light, rather than continuing the rapture to self sacrifice of following the movement of the spheres right to living burial, a substitution was made. And man became a tenant farmer, so to speak, a notch downward, rather than a true representative, playing a serious part, in a divine movement.

  82. Man, if a player were on the wrong side of these yo-yo movements, you'd be out on your ass in two or three days.

  83. Noam Chomsky is weighing in, hoping all this signals the beginning of the end of evil free markets.

  84. well we are obviously entering an age of increased State intervention - the free markets FAILED!

  85. Why is it the World "Economy" is able to find the correct price Just Fine without me running around "Selling" stuff that doesn't belong to me, BUT Wall Street can't find the "Right Price" for a Stock w/o some crook selling "MY" Stock?

    I'm going to tell you what Short Selling really is. It's not something that's necessary for "Price Discovery." It's just one more scam cooked up a long time ago to "Fleece the Sucker."

  86. Laura is all wound up, freaking out about losing our economic freedoms, using Vietnam as a dynamic model of free market progress.

    Which is quite ironic. But it's true, Vietnam, embracing markets, seems to be booming.

    Take a chill pill, Laura says, let the right heads fall.

  87. I used to sometimes make contracts for future delivery of wheat, out maybe eight or tens months, if the price was up. Risky, because if the crop doesn't come in, you got to buy the wheat to cover your commitment, and the price might have risen even more, meaning you got to buy high to cover your lower promise.

    I never contracted more than 50% of what I hoped to normally harvast, and always carried massive crop insurance, so I never had any trouble.

  88. I just see short selling as another form of speculation. You buy, hoping it goes up, you sell, hoping it goes down. I don't see any swindle in it.

  89. The question seems to be, what to do with some millions of defaulting deadbeat home buying debtors in an election year. Obama just said on the radio, renegotiate the terms, keep 'em in the homes.

  90. "Short Sales" create volatility, which makes Brokers Money.

    When you allow someone to sell something that they don't own it's Fraud.

    Now, if you want to "Gamble" there's always "Options."

  91. You will notice the prices of various financial stocks have vacillated, today. The movements are just slower. Slower makes Brokers less money than "faster."

  92. Those people aren't all "Deadbeat, Bob. A lot of them are just poor dumb sonofabitches that were not properly informed that the paper the Mortgage Broker (salesman) was pushing toward them contained a clause that guaranteed their payments would go up from One to Four Hundred Percent in just a couple of years.

    Basically, there was Massive Fraud taking place, here.

  93. I retract the word 'deadbeat'. May have gotten it from Laura, I'll blame her.

  94. What I can't figure out is why sheep don't shrink when it rains.

  95. Ash, did you hear the news?--Obama has a plan, but doesn't want to reveal it, so as not to rattle the markets.

  96. What we need now is for Ahmadinejad to endorse Obama when he gets to New York.

    He might too, loves to hear himself talk, no discretion.

  97. Gotta luv the secret plan. Worked for Nixon.

  98. There are definite advantages to having a 'secret plan'. It can be modified without regret to fit the shifting market conditions, it may not exist at all, but no one knows that, it can be indefinitely put off, by saying the time isn't right yet, it can actually be tried, and fail, and no one is the wiser, and so on.

    Every politician ought to have two or three 'secret plans' in his tool kit. And most do.


  100. Maybe Obama's plan really would rattle the markets.

    Best to keep it quiet.

  101. "well we are obviously entering an age of increased State intervention - the free markets FAILED!"

    The Corrupt Politicians, mostly from Clinton Admin
    ...succeeded, actually, in lining their pockets.

  102. doug, if you are going to blame it all on the pols you might as well include the jokers who have been in power these last 7 years.

  103. Sometimes even one of our Jewish friends loses it in the heat of battle--

    sandra bernhard-palin would be gang raped by blacks in manhattan

    Hahaha, just a sophisticated joke, it says.

    Sick, I tell you.

  104. Blame 'em all, though McCain and Bush tried a bit. Blame all of Congress.

  105. Bush and McCain tried did they? riiiight! Two peas in a pod those two - "The fundamentals of the American Economy are sound"

  106. O/T, but maybe everybody is sick of finance. Check out this video to see an amazing all-terrain robot.

    BigDog, The Most Advanced Quadruped Robot on Earth

    BigDog is being developed by Boston Dynamics with the goal of creating robots that have rough-terrain mobility that can take them anywhere on Earth that people and animals can go. The program is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA).

  107. trish said...

    I've got a Hooters Bogota t-shirt for the barfly who posts a link to the EZ Read, brightly colored, picture book version of all this.

    Fri Sep 19, 11:12:00 AM EDT



  108. Noam Chomsky is weighing in, hoping all this signals the beginning of the end of evil free markets.

    Fri Sep 19, 02:12:00 PM EDT

    There's a lot of that going around at dKos. They're knee deep in their own drool at this point.

  109. Jor-ge hasn't called so I'm calling after the Palin interview on the radio is over.

  110. You can't fool me T. that's one of those photo shoppers photos.

  111. Tie Ash onto that motodog, get him out of here.

  112. ...the free market failed.

    Did it? Actually a free market doesn't fail, it corrects.

    What failed is government.

  113. Sep 19, 8:31 AM ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said on Friday he supported efforts by the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve to shore up confidence in the financial markets and said he would hold off from presenting his own economic recovery plan.

    "The events of the last few days have made it clear that we must take further bold and decisive action to shore up confidence in our financial markets and avoid a deepening economic crisis that could jeopardize the life savings and well-being of millions of Americans," Obama said in a statement.

    Obama said he supported efforts by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to work with the Congressional leadership to find a solution to the deepening crisis.

    As Wall Street grapples with the worst crisis since the Great Depression, the financial turmoil has become the top theme on the campaign trail where Obama is locked in a tight race with his Republican rival John McCain.

    The Illinois senator said he would be discussing the Fed-Treasury proposal with his top economic advisers on Friday morning. Among those who have been advising Obama on his response to the financial crisis are former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and former U.S. Treasury secretaries Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin.

    "Given the gravity of this situation, and based on conversations I have had with both Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke, I have asked my economic team to refrain from presenting a more detailed blue-print of how an immediate plan might be structured until the Treasury and the Federal Reserve have had an opportunity to present their proposal."

    Obama said it was critical that the markets and public have confidence in the Fed and Treasury's efforts and that their work be "unimpeded by partisan wrangling."

  114. Laura had great call from a lady in the business:

    Reminded us that it was only naked short selling, and only on financial instruments, and only temporary.

    Buddy's been talking about nudes since Oil began to plunge.
    ...but in financials, it's even worse.

    Lady said people were shorting in amounts that exceeded the amount of stock ever issued!

    Overstock . com was her example

  115. Rubin:
    One of the Godfathers of the Meltdown!

  116. Clever!

    If you care to give me your email, we can arrange for a t-shirt of the appropriate size and color and the magnificent conversation piece is yours.

  117. Obama ...said he would hold off from presenting his own economic recovery plan.

    Maybe he read the first sign.

  118. Linear, Jor-ge wasn't there today, but Raul said they do got a sale, and he'll have Jor-ge get back to me, after the siesta.

    So, I should be hearing, sometime.

  119. (Young, enthusiastic, gringo-loving Colombian waitress not included.)

  120. Whooopee!

    Now I can double my wardrobe.

    Follow my google name to the Random Traverse blog...there ought to be an email address there. I'll check to be sure.

  121. That's the capitalist spirit and initiative being shown to you, Ash.

  122. Bob,

    A terrible thought.

    Jorge might be working his network of 'associates' in Fresno and Albuquerque and elsewhere.

    A title check might be prudent. :(

  123. I made that up about Raul, guy I talked to was nice.

    I'll be hearing from Jor-ge.

  124. September 19, 2008

    Murdoch: Obama's economic policies are 'naive'

    News Corp. chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch said he doesn't regret the New York Post endorsing John McCain, even as some say the Republican ticket is the weaker choice for voters concerned about the economy.

    "I am very worried," Murdoch said during an interview Friday with Fox Business Network. "I like Sen. Obama very much. I have met him. He is a very intelligent man. But his policy of anti-globalization, protectionism, is going to be -- and card checks -- are going to do two or three things. It's going to give us a lot of inflation. They're going to ruin our relationships with the rest of the world. And they are going to slow down the rest of the world, too. And they're going to make people frightened to add to employment. You are going to find companies leaving this country if it's -- if you put a protectionist wall around it. You're going to get -- his policy is really very, very naive, old-fashioned, 1960s."

  125. ...there ought to be an email address there.

    But it ain't.

    Use: randomtraverse -at-

    Thanks, Trish.

  126. Charlie "Tax Cheat" Rangel calls Palin "disabled".

    ASTONISHING: Rep. Rangel Calls Palin 'Disabled'

    Embattled Politician: It's Laughable That GOP VP Nominee Bases Foreign Policy On Being Able To See Russia

    Republicans Infuriated; Rep. King Blasts Rangel

    Marcia Kramer NEW YORK (CBS) ― Already under fire for his tax troubles, Manhattan Congressman Charles Rangel really put his foot in his mouth on Friday.

    In a CBS 2 HD exclusive interview Rep. Rangel called Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "disabled."

    The question was simple. Why are the Democrats so afraid of Palin and her popularity.

    The answer was astonishing.

    "You got to be kind to the disabled," Rangel said.

    That's right. The charman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee called Palin disabled -- even when CBS 2 HD called him on it.

    CBS 2 HD: "You got to be kind to the disabled?

    Rangel: "Yes."

    CBS 2 HD: "She's disabled?"

    Rangel: "There's no question about it politically. It's a nightmare to think that a person's foreign policy is based on their ability to look at Russia from where they live.

    Republicans think Rangel's comments are insulting as well as shocking.

    "Charlie Rangel's comments are clearly disgraceful," Rep. Peter King, R-Long Island, said. "This is just another liberal Democrat who can't accept an independent woman running for president."

    King, who is co-chair of the McCain-Palin campaign in New York, watched Rangel's comments with CBS 2 HD. He was particularly upset because Palin's 4-month-old son, Trig, is disabled. He has Down's syndrome.

    "We should be sensitive to her or any woman who has a child or family member who has any affliction at all," King said. "And so to use the word disabled in the context of a female candidate for vice president who has a child who is disabled really is wrong. Charlie owes her and the entire disabled community and apology."

    Advocates for the disabled are also upset.

    "It makes me feel as if he's trying to put her down, trying to say she's not good for the presidency or the vice presidency," said Michael Imperiale of Disabled In Action Of Metropolitan N.Y.

    "A disabled president ran this country. He was disabled. His name was Roosevelt."

    a spokesman for the McCain-Palin campaign also piled on, saying that this kind of rhetoric has no place in politics.

  127. ...While visions of sugar plums danced in my head...

    Then, follow up...

    (Young, enthusiastic, gringo-loving Colombian waitress not included.)


  128. Here's a thought,

    Maybe it's the water:

    Usually both McCain's and 'Rat's first impulse is to blame the Pubs!

  129. Kerry, Pelosi Get Butts Burned Financially In Week's Events

    Bob didn't lose a dime.


    Cindy appears to have saved some family bacon by divesting the blind trust holdings. Can't wait for the rat's disclosure that it was all part of a plan.


    My holdings weathered this storm, but took a beating a few months ago. I got diverted by other concerns when I should have been tracking a few things.

    So long as you got your health...

  130. Waitresses don't ship well intercontinentally.

  131. It's the thought that counts, Trish.

  132. I blame the folk with the authority and responsibility, doug.

    Since January 2001, that's been the Republicans. Through January 2007, the Republicans, exclusively.

    I do not put blame on the folk that were watching the on coming train and shouting warnings, not if they could not stop the train wreck.

  133. Will you be wanting the optional secret cargo storage capacity on your rig, Linear?

  134. ...Actually a free market doesn't fail, it corrects.

    What failed is government.


    Well stated. A bipartisan fuckup. Blaming the free market is like blaming the gun for the crime.

    I note today a trend in arguments that holds the much maligned efforts by Gramm actually served the triage procedures, enabling the bailout. I won't argue up or's beyond my ability.

  135. Bush warned them about Fannie and Freddie, tried to do something about it, DEMOCRATS, objected.
    ...the same democrats that were getting the most money from said agencies.

    Dodd, Franks, et al.

    Dodd number one in dollars received, Obama number 2!

  136. Will you be wanting the optional secret cargo storage capacity on your rig, Linear?

    Is it big enough for bringing a barmaid from Bogata across the border?

  137. My alliteration gene is in overdrive.

  138. It's the sugar in the visions of sugar plums.

  139. In 2003 and '04 the Republicans still held the majorities in Congress.

    There was no filibuster

    There were Republicans that mavericked on 'em. Republicians that didn't play Team ball.

    That is not the fault of the Democrats, but the Republicans, themselves.

  140. If I keep adding accessories, I'll have to drift down to the minimart and buy a few lotto tickets.

  141. If I could get her to you, I might be engaging in the greatest act of host country promotion. Ever.


  142. Investor's Business Daily: The Real Culprits In This Meltdown

    it was the Clinton administration, obsessed with multiculturalism, that dictated where mortgage lenders could lend, and originally helped create the market for the high-risk subprime loans now infecting like a retrovirus the balance sheets of many of Wall Street's most revered institutions.

    Tough new regulations forced lenders into high-risk areas where they had no choice but to lower lending standards to make the loans that sound business practices had previously guarded against making. It was either that or face stiff government penalties.

    The untold story in this whole national crisis is that President Clinton put on steroids the Community Redevelopment Act, a well-intended Carter-era law designed to encourage minority homeownership. And in so doing, he helped create the market for the risky subprime loans that he and Democrats now decry as not only greedy but "predatory."

    Yes, the market was fueled by greed and overleveraging in the secondary market for subprimes, vis-a-vis mortgaged-backed securities traded on Wall Street. But the seed was planted in the '90s by Clinton and his social engineers. They were the political catalyst behind this slow-motion financial train wreck.

    And it was the Clinton administration that mismanaged the quasi-governmental agencies that over the decades have come to manage the real estate market in America.

    As soon as Clinton crony Franklin Delano Raines took the helm in 1999 at Fannie Mae, for example, he used it as his personal piggy bank, looting it for a total of almost $100 million in compensation by the time he left in early 2005 under an ethical cloud.

    Other Clinton cronies, including Janet Reno aide Jamie Gorelick, padded their pockets to the tune of another $75 million.

    Raines was accused of overstating earnings and shifting losses so he and other senior executives could earn big bonuses.

    In the end, Fannie had to pay a record $400 million civil fine for SEC and other violations, while also agreeing as part of a settlement to make changes in its accounting procedures and ways of managing risk.

    But it was too little, too late. Raines had reportedly steered Fannie Mae business to subprime giant Countrywide Financial, which was saved from bankruptcy by Bank of America.

  143. There ya go 'Rat:
    When it's bipartisan, both you and Mac blame Pubs first!

    ...I told Bob that's what he'd do, and he has.

  144. When he should have sent Palin out to tell on Raines, Franks, Dodd, Biden, Rubin, et al. praised Rubin, as I recall.

  145. We'll have to set up an electoral college betting pool. Winner gets the Chavez Go Home t-shirt.

  146. There were Republicans that mavericked on 'em. Republicians that didn't play Team ball.

    That is not the fault of the Democrats, but the Republicans, themselves.

    Yup. I can't dispute there's plenty of blame to go around. Seems we're at a time when it's again picking the lesser of those evils confronting our choices. But, has it ever been different?

  147. REICH:
    In the latter years of the Clinton administration -- when I was not there any longer, I should add --

    there was an attempt by Alan Greenspan and Bob Rubin and a few others to deregulate financial markets, and they did.

  148. Exactly, Linear, and the Democrat corruption behind the Real Estate Fiasco dwarfs the Pubs.

  149. Perhaps Clinton "planted the seed, but his Congressional majority was gone, early on, 1994.

    Then in 2001 GWBush became President with real majorities i both House and Senate.

    There was no "Roll Back", no indeed. The GOP watered and pruned that Clinton seedling, amigo.

    I hate to be the one that admits it first, but bob's 10 year DIJA yeield, even the five, most of that gain was Clinton/Rubin.

    Team43 overcame the 9-11 recession dot come melt down, and recovered on the backs of the root causes of this current recession.

    The Pubs has six solid years they could have "done the right thing", they wielded executive and congressional power on their own.
    They did nothing, zero, to trim that hedgerow..
    Performance counts.

  150. American Thinker: Jamie Gorelick's Two Trillion Dollar Disasters

    Doug Ross reviews the remarkable record of Democrat fixer Jamie Gorelick in two of the major disasters of this era of American history.

    Of course, nobody in the mainstream media is interested in exposing the role of the Democrat insider, especially her obvious conflicts of interest. So Doug uses his trademark comic book format to make it comprehensible to those media simpletons uncomfortable reading actual books.
    You might add, linear, that the MSM will take care of criticising the Pub's, so why should we pile on and let the Dems get off scot free?

    That's what I don't get, 'Rat.

  151. UPDATE: Reader Bob Poynor writes: "If Biden says it's patriotic to pay taxes, and Rangel didn't pay his, can we now question Rangel's patriotism?"


    Meanwhile, Knoxville reader John Lucas emails:

    After spending a year under fire as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, I returned to the U. S. and went to law school. Afterwards, by dint of hard work and many long nights, I got to the point where Joe Biden wants to take money from me to redistribute to others. That may be a fair political debate, but it is galling beyond measure to hear him present it as my patriotic duty.

    I am the same age as Joe Biden. Unlike him, however, I have not been a politician virtually all my adult life. But I have been to war for this country -- I was fighting the North Vietnamese army when Joe Biden was preparing to run for the U. S. senate. My son has served three tours in intense combat in Iraq. My nephews have done the same. I'll be damned if I will be lectured on patriotic duty by the likes of Joe Biden.

    Ouch. Here's a report on Lucas' son David, who received a Bronze Star in Iraq.

  152. Unless, of course, this is the triumph of the Bush Tenure, his Legacy, as it were.

    The socialization of the housing market. The Government will hold the mortagages, as well as be the primary insurance underwriter in America.
    Thank you very much Mr Bush, said his friends from the frat house.

    As big a coup as the Federal Reserve Act, and for our own good, too.

  153. Reich was/is a Third Way gasbag.

    Again, deregulation was not, in toto, The Thing From Hell that it is purported to be. But that is the takeaway on the part of those with a chronic inclination to grant government all of the privileges of ownership/management, minus any of the responsibility.

  154. We'll have to set up an electoral college betting pool. Winner gets the Chavez Go Home t-shirt.

    I found a link last night to a nifty prediction model...just about posted it to show how smart I was. Glad I didn' I've got an ace in the hole! :-)

    Hint: "McCain @ 283 Electoral Votes: Doing the math"

  155. We have you and duece to tell us of the slip shod ways of the Democrats, doug.
    You do a good job of it.

    My main point is tit for tat balance, becuse neither group could do its' "thing" without the other.

    They are in it, together, joined at the hip.

    Cindy as revolting as Michelle, perhaps more so, as she should have known better.

  156. You might add, linear, that the MSM will take care of criticising the Pub's, so why should we pile on and let the Dems get off scot free?


    ...the MSM will take care of criticising the Pub's, so why should we pile on and let the Dems get off scot free?

    I'm in an agreeable mood today.

  157. By Power Possessed (A Blog Noir Tale)

    Jamie Gorelick

    From the archives.

  158. Cute video Nozzlerage

    with some good advice

  159. Teflon Bob and Banking Deregulation

    The centerpiece of the deregulatory bill, which different fragments of the finance industry have pushed for a decade and a half, is the repeal of the revered Glass-Steagall Act, which bars the common ownership of banks on the one hand, and insurance companies and securities firms on the other.

    Although powerful interests have long backed the legislation, it has repeatedly failed to make it through Congress because of a maze of intra-industry disputes, turf fights between different parts of the federal regulatory structure, and the concerted efforts of consumer and community development advocates.

    Another failure seemed possible or likely this fall, especially as Senate Banking Chair Phil Gramm, R-Texas, refused to compromise on privacy and community development issues.

    Another failure, however, was not acceptable to one company above all -- Citigroup. The product of the merger between Citibank and Travelers, Citigroup is operating in apparent violation of the bar on common ownership of banking, and insurance and securities, thanks to a loophole that provides for a two-year transition period.

    Enter Robert Rubin. According to a report in the New York Times, Rubin helped broker the final compromise language on financial deregulation.

    And while he was brokering a deal between Congress and the White House, he was also, according to the New York Times account, negotiating his own deal with Citigroup. A few days after the banking deal was finalized, Citigroup announced it was hiring Rubin as a de facto co-chair of the corporation.

  160. Nothing like starting at the top, doug.

    Better deal than most gardeners get, for planting seeds.

  161. Hey, if we win, someone in the running for sainthood is one-up on the seven confirmed miracles.

    The relatively late intrusion of such a complex issue, necessarily lending itself to easy demagoguery (not to mention confusion and/or bald, unhelpful opportunism on the part of one's own candidate)...well, we could do without.

    Good news/bad news: There's roughly half a lifetime, in official election season units, between now and November.

  162. Line o' the day: Out of warranty

    Duane, writing at Hugh's site, describes Barack, uh, Obama's Inspirational Address To The Barbra Streisand, um, Hollywood Elites.


    So this should be a celebratory, but the truth is that, uh, I’m in a different mood tonight, um, partly because, uh, we just saw this week, uh... uh... a storm sweep through the Gulf, and there are millions of people without power, tens of thousands of people without a place to live. Uh, here in Los Angeles, there was a tragedy that, uh, took the lives of so many. Uh... and over the last couple of days, we’ve seen reports of the worst financial crisis that we’ve had in generations. Uh... and we don’t yet know how it’s going to play itself out...

    I guess the teleprompter was in the shop.

  163. Talk about sheets and monarchy, we're ahead of the curve, again.

    Is Kim Jong Il’s mistress now running North Korea?

    @ westhawk

  164. So, doug, Mr Rubin sided with 53 Republican Senators and Friz Hollings.

    For this we'll rake him over the coals?

    If that is the case, then we should throw all the bums out,
    Vote for Barr '08!!

    Even the name sounds right!
    A round on the House!

  165. Who'll love this other thread @ westhawk, doug, as he discusses Bing West's book.

    1. The “Great Man” theory and its road to rebellion. The most grievous conceptual error the U.S. made was to attempt to impose a centralized, top-down solution to the governance of Iraq. No where was this more apparent than with the approach of Ambassador Paul Bremer and his term with the CPA. Bremer, President Bush, and those advising them subscribed to the “Great Man” theory, believing that if they issued a command, it surely must be followed. Instead, this thinking merely incited rebellion. Why did this fundamental error occur?

    2. The murky month of May 2003. As best as we can tell, the Pentagon’s pre-war intention was to appoint a provisional government of Iraqis (as had happened with Afghanistan), sweep up Iraq’s WMD, and then largely exit the country. In May 2003, President Bush sent that plan to the shredder when he appointed Proconsul Bremer and fired General Garner. But exactly how and why that abrupt change occurred remains murky to this day. We will have to await the memoirs of President Bush, Secretary Rice, and Secretary Rumsfeld to find out more. Needless to say, President Bush’s snap decisions in May 2003 sent history onto a consequential trajectory.

    The proof of which, in Jun of '03 we told the Iraqis they could not chose their own local leaders.
    Cancelling their self organized local elections.

  166. I guess the teleprompter was in the shop.

    Be fun to hack his 'prompter.

    Shouldn't be too hard. Might cost Karl some assets.

  167. Rubin, in 1999, did not know that the Phil Gramm Amendment would make derivatives off limits for Federal policing, in 2000.

    How could he have known?

    Unless they are all Illuminati or Masons or Templer Knights, etc.

  168. Federal Socialists, actually is the most apt description of our national political party.

  169. How to Campaign In a Financial Crisis

    Mr. McCain has, in short, yielded to every temptation faced by a Republican in a financial crisis. Government largely created this mess, yet in a bid to look proactive he's calling for more government. Markets by necessity have winners and losers, yet he feels the need to offer aid to Americans who made bad bets.
    Voters are intelligent enough to have a serious financial story explained to them, yet Mr. McCain blames Wall Street.

    Mr. Feeney might well be tempted to also indulge in this game.

    Yet on the stump, in speeches and on the floor of the House, Mr. Feeney strives to provide voters with a narrative for how the U.S. reached this crisis.

    It begins and ends with government.

    There ya go, Ashley!

  170. "We will have to await the memoirs of President Bush, Secretary Rice, and Secretary Rumsfeld to find out more"
    Doubt if we'll learn the truth from W and Condi.
    Rumsfeld might well be too loyal to tell it too.

  171. "Bremer, President Bush, and those advising them subscribed to the “Great Man” theory, believing that if they issued a command, it surely must be followed.

    Instead, this thinking merely incited rebellion. Why did this fundamental error occur?
    While at the same time, Petraeus was demonstrating what DID work.

    ...all reported on in the Washington Post.

  172. I pledge allegiance to the United Corporation of Goldman/Sachs and to the conglomerate for which it stands.

    Over 50 members of congress were into Sachs, alone.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote "Self Reliance" while being cared for by his wife, daughter, three servants and a gardener.


    "One man alone ain't got a chance."

    Ernest Hemingway

  173. And my nephew jumped from New Century to a VP @ Goldman!

    ...maybe if I had skipped college I might have turned out half as clever as he?

  174. Great clip, Rufus. I sent it to Dale, which means it will be all over the country, tomorrow afternoon.

    To hell with Charlie Gibson, and his taking off of his glasses.

  175. Great clips, everyone.

    If you could hack that 'prompter, you'd own the world.

  176. Euthanasia comes to Britain.

    Lady Warlock Says Dementia Sufferers May Have A 'Duty To Die'

    Elderly people suffering from dementia should consider ending their lives because they are a burden on the NHS and their families, according to the influential medical ethics expert Baroness Warnock.

    Not considering that the demented can't "consider" anything.

    Death to Lady Warlock?

    Full disclosure--I have a 'living will', with the wife as executioner, er, executor.

  177. They should give wives the right to Euthanize compulsive Bloggers.

  178. No,no,no, we'd miss you al Doug.

  179. No limit to the lies,
    to enable my demise.