“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, December 26, 2008

Nouriel Roubini - Madman to Prophet

If you've never heard of Nouriel Roubini, don't worry, chances are his name will soon become a household word.

“He sounded like a madman in 2006, He was a prophet when he returned in 2007.”
He recently said that "things are going to get much worse" with the unemployment rate going above 9% next year which according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be the highest since 1983.


The New York Times

August 17, 2008
Dr. Doom

On Sept. 7, 2006, Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University, stood before an audience of economists at the International Monetary Fund and announced that a crisis was brewing. In the coming months and years, he warned, the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and, ultimately, a deep recession. He laid out a bleak sequence of events: homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unraveling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt. These developments, he went on, could cripple or destroy hedge funds, investment banks and other major financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The audience seemed skeptical, even dismissive. As Roubini stepped down from the lectern after his talk, the moderator of the event quipped, “I think perhaps we will need a stiff drink after that.” People laughed — and not without reason. At the time, unemployment and inflation remained low, and the economy, while weak, was still growing, despite rising oil prices and a softening housing market. And then there was the espouser of doom himself: Roubini was known to be a perpetual pessimist, what economists call a “permabear.” When the economist Anirvan Banerji delivered his response to Roubini’s talk, he noted that Roubini’s predictions did not make use of mathematical models and dismissed his hunches as those of a career naysayer.

But Roubini was soon vindicated. In the year that followed, subprime lenders began entering bankruptcy, hedge funds began going under and the stock market plunged. There was declining employment, a deteriorating dollar, ever-increasing evidence of a huge housing bust and a growing air of panic in financial markets as the credit crisis deepened. By late summer, the Federal Reserve was rushing to the rescue, making the first of many unorthodox interventions in the economy, including cutting the lending rate by 50 basis points and buying up tens of billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities. When Roubini returned to the I.M.F. last September, he delivered a second talk, predicting a growing crisis of solvency that would infect every sector of the financial system. This time, no one laughed. “He sounded like a madman in 2006,” recalls the I.M.F. economist Prakash Loungani, who invited Roubini on both occasions. “He was a prophet when he returned in 2007.”

Over the past year, whenever optimists have declared the worst of the economic crisis behind us, Roubini has countered with steadfast pessimism. In February, when the conventional wisdom held that the venerable investment firms of Wall Street would weather the crisis, Roubini warned that one or more of them would go “belly up” — and six weeks later, Bear Stearns collapsed. Following the Fed’s further extraordinary actions in the spring — including making lines of credit available to selected investment banks and brokerage houses — many economists made note of the ensuing economic rally and proclaimed the credit crisis over and a recession averted. Roubini, who dismissed the rally as nothing more than a “delusional complacency” encouraged by a “bunch of self-serving spinmasters,” stuck to his script of “nightmare” events: waves of corporate bankrupticies, collapses in markets like commercial real estate and municipal bonds and, most alarming, the possible bankruptcy of a large regional or national bank that would trigger a panic by depositors. Not all of these developments have come to pass (and perhaps never will), but the demise last month of the California bank IndyMac — one of the largest such failures in U.S. history — drew only more attention to Roubini’s seeming prescience.

As a result, Roubini, a respected but formerly obscure academic, has become a major figure in the public debate about the economy: the seer who saw it coming. He has been summoned to speak before Congress, the Council on Foreign Relations and the World Economic Forum at Davos. He is now a sought-after adviser, spending much of his time shuttling between meetings with central bank governors and finance ministers in Europe and Asia. Though he continues to issue colorful doomsday prophecies of a decidedly nonmainstream sort — especially on his popular and polemical blog, where he offers visions of “equity market slaughter” and the “Coming Systemic Bust of the U.S. Banking System” — the mainstream economic establishment appears to be moving closer, however fitfully, to his way of seeing things. “I have in the last few months become more pessimistic than the consensus,” the former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers told me earlier this year. “Certainly, Nouriel’s writings have been a contributor to that.”

On a cold and dreary day last winter, I met Roubini over lunch in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City. “I’m not a pessimist by nature,” he insisted. “I’m not someone who sees things in a bleak way.” Just looking at him, I found the assertion hard to credit. With a dour manner and an aura of gloom about him, Roubini gives the impression of being permanently pained, as if the burden of what he knows is almost too much for him to bear. He rarely smiles, and when he does, his face, topped by an unruly mop of brown hair, contorts into something more closely resembling a grimace.

When I pressed him on his claim that he wasn’t pessimistic, he paused for a moment and then relented a little. “I have more concerns about potential risks and vulnerabilities than most people,” he said, with glum understatement. But these concerns, he argued, make him more of a realist than a pessimist and put him in the role of the cleareyed outsider — unsettling complacency and puncturing pieties.

Roubini, who is 50, has been an outsider his entire life. He was born in Istanbul, the child of Iranian Jews, and his family moved to Tehran when he was 2, then to Tel Aviv and finally to Italy, where he grew up and attended college. He moved to the United States to pursue his doctorate in international economics at Harvard. Along the way he became fluent in Farsi, Hebrew, Italian and English. His accent, an inimitable polyglot growl, radiates a weariness that comes with being what he calls a “global nomad.”

As a graduate student at Harvard, Roubini was an unusual talent, according to his adviser, the Columbia economist Jeffrey Sachs. He was as comfortable in the world of arcane mathematics as he was studying political and economic institutions. “It’s a mix of skills that rarely comes packaged in one person,” Sachs told me. After completing his Ph.D. in 1988, Roubini joined the economics department at Yale, where he first met and began sharing ideas with Robert Shiller, the economist now known for his prescient warnings about the 1990s tech bubble.

The ’90s were an eventful time for an international economist like Roubini. Throughout the decade, one emerging economy after another was beset by crisis, beginning with Mexico’s in 1994. Panics swept Asia, including Thailand, Indonesia and Korea, in 1997 and 1998. The economies of Brazil and Russia imploded in 1998. Argentina’s followed in 2000. Roubini began studying these countries and soon identified what he saw as their common weaknesses. On the eve of the crises that befell them, he noticed, most had huge current-account deficits (meaning, basically, that they spent far more than they made), and they typically financed these deficits by borrowing from abroad in ways that exposed them to the national equivalent of bank runs. Most of these countries also had poorly regulated banking systems plagued by excessive borrowing and reckless lending. Corporate governance was often weak, with cronyism in abundance.

Roubini’s work was distinguished not only by his conclusions but also by his approach. By making extensive use of transnational comparisons and historical analogies, he was employing a subjective, nontechnical framework, the sort embraced by popular economists like the Times Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz in order to reach a nonacademic audience. Roubini takes pains to note that he remains a rigorous scholarly economist — “When I weigh evidence,” he told me, “I’m drawing on 20 years of accumulated experience using models” — but his approach is not the contemporary scholarly ideal in which an economist builds a model in order to constrain his subjective impressions and abide by a discrete set of data. As Shiller told me, “Nouriel has a different way of seeing things than most economists: he gets into everything.”

Roubini likens his style to that of a policy maker like Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman who was said (perhaps apocryphally) to pore over vast quantities of technical economic data while sitting in the bathtub, looking to sniff out where the economy was headed. Roubini also cites, as a more ideologically congenial example, the sweeping, cosmopolitan approach of the legendary economist John Maynard Keynes, whom Roubini, with only slight exaggeration, calls “the most brilliant economist who never wrote down an equation.” The book that Roubini ultimately wrote (with the economist Brad Setser) on the emerging market crises, “Bailouts or Bail-Ins?” contains not a single equation in its 400-plus pages.

After analyzing the markets that collapsed in the ’90s, Roubini set out to determine which country’s economy would be the next to succumb to the same pressures. His surprising answer: the United States’. “The United States,” Roubini remembers thinking, “looked like the biggest emerging market of all.” Of course, the United States wasn’t an emerging market; it was (and still is) the largest economy in the world. But Roubini was unnerved by what he saw in the U.S. economy, in particular its 2004 current-account deficit of $600 billion. He began writing extensively about the dangers of that deficit and then branched out, researching the various effects of the credit boom — including the biggest housing bubble in the nation’s history — that began after the Federal Reserve cut rates to close to zero in 2003. Roubini became convinced that the housing bubble was going to pop.

By late 2004 he had started to write about a “nightmare hard landing scenario for the United States.” He predicted that foreign investors would stop financing the fiscal and current-account deficit and abandon the dollar, wreaking havoc on the economy. He said that these problems, which he called the “twin financial train wrecks,” might manifest themselves in 2005 or, at the latest, 2006. “You have been warned here first,” he wrote ominously on his blog. But by the end of 2006, the train wrecks hadn’t occurred.

Recessions are signal events in any modern economy. And yet remarkably, the profession of economics is quite bad at predicting them. A recent study looked at “consensus forecasts” (the predictions of large groups of economists) that were made in advance of 60 different national recessions that hit around the world in the ’90s: in 97 percent of the cases, the study found, the economists failed to predict the coming contraction a year in advance. On those rare occasions when economists did successfully predict recessions, they significantly underestimated the severity of the downturns. Worse, many of the economists failed to anticipate recessions that occurred as soon as two months later.

The dismal science, it seems, is an optimistic profession. Many economists, Roubini among them, argue that some of the optimism is built into the very machinery, the mathematics, of modern economic theory. Econometric models typically rely on the assumption that the near future is likely to be similar to the recent past, and thus it is rare that the models anticipate breaks in the economy. And if the models can’t foresee a relatively minor break like a recession, they have even more trouble modeling and predicting a major rupture like a full-blown financial crisis. Only a handful of 20th-century economists have even bothered to study financial panics. (The most notable example is probably the late economist Hyman Minksy, of whom Roubini is an avid reader.) “These are things most economists barely understand,” Roubini told me. “We’re in uncharted territory where standard economic theory isn’t helpful.”

True though this may be, Roubini’s critics do not agree that his approach is any more accurate. Anirvan Banerji, the economist who challenged Roubini’s first I.M.F. talk, points out that Roubini has been peddling pessimism for years; Banerji contends that Roubini’s apparent foresight is nothing more than an unhappy coincidence of events. “Even a stopped clock is right twice a day,” he told me. “The justification for his bearish call has evolved over the years,” Banerji went on, ticking off the different reasons that Roubini has used to justify his predictions of recessions and crises: rising trade deficits, exploding current-account deficits, Hurricane Katrina, soaring oil prices. All of Roubini’s predictions, Banerji observed, have been based on analogies with past experience. “This forecasting by analogy is a tempting thing to do,” he said. “But you have to pick the right analogy. The danger of this more subjective approach is that instead of letting the objective facts shape your views, you will choose the facts that confirm your existing views.”

Kenneth Rogoff, an economist at Harvard who has known Roubini for decades, told me that he sees great value in Roubini’s willingness to entertain possible situations that are far outside the consensus view of most economists. “If you’re sitting around at the European Central Bank,” he said, “and you’re asking what’s the worst thing that could happen, the first thing people will say is, ‘Let’s see what Nouriel says.’ ” But Rogoff cautioned against equating that skill with forecasting. Roubini, in other words, might be the kind of economist you want to consult about the possibility of the collapse of the municipal-bond market, but he is not necessarily the kind you ask to predict, say, the rise in global demand for paper clips.

His defenders contend that Roubini is not unduly pessimistic. Jeffrey Sachs, his former adviser, told me that “if the underlying conditions call for optimism, Nouriel would be optimistic.” And to be sure, Roubini is capable of being optimistic — or at least of steering clear of absolute worst-case prognostications. He agrees, for example, with the conventional economic wisdom that oil will drop below $100 a barrel in the coming months as global demand weakens. “I’m not comfortable saying that we’re going to end up in the Great Depression,” he told me. “I’m a reasonable person.”

What economic developments does Roubini see on the horizon? And what does he think we should do about them? The first step, he told me in a recent conversation, is to acknowledge the extent of the problem. “We are in a recession, and denying it is nonsense,” he said. When Jim Nussle, the White House budget director, announced last month that the nation had “avoided a recession,” Roubini was incredulous. For months, he has been predicting that the United States will suffer through an 18-month recession that will eventually rank as the “worst since the Great Depression.” Though he is confident that the economy will enter a technical recovery toward the end of next year, he says that job losses, corporate bankruptcies and other drags on growth will continue to take a toll for years.

Roubini has counseled various policy makers, including Federal Reserve governors and senior Treasury Department officials, to mount an aggressive response to the crisis. He applauded when the Federal Reserve cut interest rates to 2 percent from 5.25 percent beginning last summer. He also supported the Fed’s willingness to engineer a takeover of Bear Stearns. Roubini argues that the Fed’s actions averted catastrophe, though he says he believes that future bailouts should focus on mortgage owners, not investors. Accordingly, he sees the choice facing the United States as stark but simple: either the government backs up a trillion-plus dollars’ worth of high-risk mortgages (in exchange for the lenders’ agreement to reduce monthly mortgage payments), or the banks and other institutions holding those mortgages — or the complex securities derived from them — go under. “You either nationalize the banks or you nationalize the mortgages,” he said. “Otherwise, they’re all toast.”

For months Roubini has been arguing that the true cost of the housing crisis will not be a mere $300 billion — the amount allowed for by the housing legislation sponsored by Representative Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd — but something between a trillion and a trillion and a half dollars. But most important, in Roubini’s opinion, is to realize that the problem is deeper than the housing crisis. “Reckless people have deluded themselves that this was a subprime crisis,” he told me. “But we have problems with credit-card debt, student-loan debt, auto loans, commercial real estate loans, home-equity loans, corporate debt and loans that financed leveraged buyouts.” All of these forms of debt, he argues, suffer from some or all of the same traits that first surfaced in the housing market: shoddy underwriting, securitization, negligence on the part of the credit-rating agencies and lax government oversight. “We have a subprime financial system,” he said, “not a subprime mortgage market.”

Roubini argues that most of the losses from this bad debt have yet to be written off, and the toll from bad commercial real estate loans alone may help send hundreds of local banks into the arms of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. “A good third of the regional banks won’t make it,” he predicted. In turn, these bailouts will add hundreds of billions of dollars to an already gargantuan federal debt, and someone, somewhere, is going to have to finance that debt, along with all the other debt accumulated by consumers and corporations. “Our biggest financiers are China, Russia and the gulf states,” Roubini noted. “These are rivals, not allies.”

The United States, Roubini went on, will likely muddle through the crisis but will emerge from it a different nation, with a different place in the world. “Once you run current-account deficits, you depend on the kindness of strangers,” he said, pausing to let out a resigned sigh. “This might be the beginning of the end of the American empire.”

Stephen Mihm, an assistant professor of economic history at the University of Georgia, is the author of “A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men and the Making of the United States.” His last feature article for the magazine was about North Korean counterfeiting.
The news this morning paints a bleak picture of retail discounts in the wake of disappointing Christmas sales. Never mind that deep discounts and bargains always follow Christmas day, according to the doomsayers this year is "really bad". It may be but what is really bad is the constant drone of a press afflicted with a severe case of anul myopia. Well, I am hopeful that with a new and highly admired President, this too will change.

I don't disagree with Roubini, (who am I to do so?) it's just that I'm in a kind of "kill the messenger", no whining, no puss faces mood.

Come on, have a Happy New Year!


  1. Christmas is really a holiday about humility. God was born as a human baby in a stable and was laid on some hay in a food trough. But over the years it became a holiday about unbelievable consumption. They told us if we don't take out a home equity line of credit and get plasma televisions in every room in the house then Daddy is a Scrooge. That would have almost been acceptable if we made flat-screen televisions in this country. The party is over.

  2. As one who as survived through economic collapse and ruin....

    It was credit as crack in the last 15 years...

    SINCE i screwed up 15 years ago, I have had the great opportunity to learn from MY mistakes.

    In the end the PEOPLE who took the loans for over priced homes, over priced cars & lifestyles should pay the price...

    You cant blame the easy credit jackals for no self restraint...

    yep it's a painful lesson...

    but i don recall any voices (except mine) when at parties, so called "flippers" were creating (out of smoke and mirrors) "value"...

    I spoke out about get rich schemes, from day traders to flippers and most of my friends told go sit in the corner and be quiet....

    I spoke out about p/e ratios in the markets FOR YEARS and was told go sit in the corner, your not the one with a degree in this stuff...

    People (who should never have ever owned a single share of stock) became investors over night, bragging about gains unheard of in actual REAL businesses...

    From the Starbucks WIFI locations they tracked their stocks, bragging about the ipo's and the amazing run ups... All the while the "dow" from time to time, took out losers (and shot them in the head) only to replace them with "up and comers"

    No bitching when for years their portfolios grew (with NO corrections)

    People in their 60-70's bought into the idea that utility stocks (which pay a constant return) were so yesterday... Forget the old adage... subtract your age from 100 an that's the MAXIMUM exposure in the market you should be at...

    People in their 30's, 40's 50's? lived on refi's and cash outs...

    garage's filled with hummers and escalades...

    living rooms filled with flat screen tvs. ipods and xboxs & wII's

    Now here we are....

    Companies (LIKE MINE) that have USED credit tightly for the last 10 years are not having major issues...

    We did not finance our growth on cheap chinese money...

    We expanded with CASH that we earned....

    So when the smoke clears, and SOME people will lose their over paid, featherbedded jobs, they will have to learn to put their egos aside and say......

    Would you like fries with that?

    Welcome to Walmart....

    Honey, I need to go to the grocery, have you seen the coupon organizer?

    in the end this will be a good thing for AMerica...

    and the rest of the world?



    enjoy your depression....

    Russia and OPEC?

    choke on your oil....


    Nouriel Roubini with Steve Paikin on TVO. $15 trillion in damages was his quick tally, and that was in April.

  4. Predicting recessions is easy. Even Nouriel can do it. Getting the timing down is Hard. Nobody can do that.

    Man is an "optimistic" (greedy?) animal. There WILL be crashes. Economists will marvel for a hundred years at the Bernanke/Paulson/Bush response to this imbroglio. It's been remarkable.

  5. Guy is definitely a Glass Half Full sort of guy. One thing about spending years farming, you get used to disappointment, but----there's always next year!

  6. Damn! Unbelievable. He'
    s right, don't aim, just point. Works with shotguns, too.

    Knocked that bug right off the leaf.

    Don't have to buy anything but the rubber bands. No reloading. No cleaning the shotgun. No going to town for shells. No concealed weapons permit.

    The Biblical David couldn't do any better.

    That guy could take your eye out at 50 yards, or knock your ear off. Or make you double over in pain.

  7. Beats a boomerang, too. Rufus could reload about 10 times, before an abo could get off a second shot.

  8. Anybody remember This Guy?

    Somebody at BC brought him up. Had forgotten about Mr. Rust. Must be getting rusty.

  9. Russia braced for unrest
    By Isabel Gorst in Moscow and Anuj Gangahar in New York
    Published: December 26 2008 19:53 | Last

    Russia is bracing for further unrest as the rouble on Friday slid to a new low against the euro after a succession of moves to devalue its currency.

    A cut on Friday extended six weeks of devaluations by Russia’s central bank designed to offset the impact of the global economic crisis and falling oil prices as the country’s main export commodity approached its lowest level since 2004.

    Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader, warned Russia faced “unprecedentedly difficult and dangerous circumstances” and could be “heading into a black hole”. “It is not clear what the fate of our rouble will be or if society has sufficient financial and moral resources,” he said.

    After the depreciation, which was the eighth so far this month, the rouble declined as much as 1.2 per cent to Rbs29.06 versus the dollar on Friday, a four year low. The rouble has now lost nearly 20 per cent of its value against the US currency since August.

    Analysts at Barclays Capital said the best case scenario would see Russian policymakers, facing the mounting evidence of a recession, allowing a one-off depreciation of 10 per cent or more.


    The US needs to restore savings rates that are in the 7-8% rate. Future trade should favor the Americas and should be fair trade rather than free trade. If we could achieve that over the next three years, it will have been a worthy accomplishment.

  10. Philosophers argue for ages:

    Glass half full? Glass half empty?

    Engineers settle argument:

    Wrong sized glass.

    Difference between philosophers and engineers.


    Meanwhile, news from Afghanistan:

    The CIA has developed a novel incentive to gain cooperation and support in Taliban-plagued Afghanistan - handing out libido-enhancing Viagra pills to targeted village patriarchs, according to a report in the Washington Post.

    “Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people - whether it’s building a school or handing out Viagra,” said one agency operative with multiple tours in that war torn country.

    Standard incentives - such as money, jewelry and cars - are too ostentatious, noted another operative to the Post.


    One operative told the Post of a very satisfied customer who subsequently “allowed us to do whatever we wanted in his area.”

    © 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

  11. Moscow was going to spend 4 trillion rubles on upgrading its army in 2009-11. But if the ruble collapses they have to spend trillions more. Russia also has plans to commission 70 new strategic nuclear missiles, acquire 14 naval vessels, 48 combat jets, more than 60 military helicopters and almost 300 tanks over the next three years. Maybe all this hardware will be made of edible materials and the Russian people can take a big bite.

  12. Interesting graph:

    See if you can find Saudia on this graph.

  13. I am afraid, that if this crisis was not manufactured, then Economists will marvel for a hundred years at how Bernanke/Paulson did not see it coming, and were so ill prepared.

    Why just months before the meltdown, they assured the world the was no chance of what is occurring, would. They were as incompetent as could be.

    Now if this is a manufactured crisis, to bitch slap the Russians and their proxies around the globe, they'll get the kudos they will so richly deserve.

    But since I'm down $100,000 in various and assorted "real values" puts the cost of that bitch slapping rather high. If they were to come around my place both Bernanke and Paulson would be more than bitch slapped around.

    The one humorous note, in the Madoff situation, is that he stole mostly, from his tribe. In doing so he underlined the true value of such tribal associations.

    Elie Wiesel, Steven Spielberg said among victims of Madoff Wall Street affair

    By Haaretz Service

    Investigators probing the Madoff Wall Street affair have found a number of prominent Diaspora Jews among the victims, including Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, movie director Steven Spielberg, and real-estate and media magnate Mortimer Zuckerman, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

    The alleged $50 billion fraud by Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff has caused deep ripples in the Jewish philanthropic world, forcing the closure of two prominent U.S.-based charities and threatening the financial lifeline of a slew of other groups.

    "The Spielberg Charity, the Wunderkinder Foundation, in the past appears to have invested a significant portion of its assets with Mr. Madoff, based on regulatory filings," the Journal reported. It said that in 2006, profits from Madoff's firm accounted for some 70 percent of the interest and dividend income of the foundation.

    The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, founded by the renowned writer and Holocaust survivors, was among Jewish schools and charities hit by the alleged scam, the Journal said.

    So, the cost of saving Israel from the Russians and their Iranian proxies is bankrupting dispora Jews in the US. Seems my sacrifice is somewhat smaller than theirs.

    Wonder if they'll see the wisdom of Bernanke and Paulson and marvel at it, as well.

  14. Fart and I'll Kill Ya!
    The Energy Challenge
    No Furnaces but Plenty of Heat
    “Passive houses,” pioneered in Germany, are encased in such an airtight shell that barely any heat escapes.
    Previous Articles in the Series »

  15. I wouldn't mind ripping off Spielburg Myself.

  16. MR,
    For a country the size of Russia, that's nothing. With the exception of the nuclear missiles, that modernization program looks very similar in size and scope to that of Israel's.

  17. Proof Positive of Global Warming:
    Road reports and webcams from The Big Island Summit show up to a
    foot of snow has already fallen.

    With more on the way have extended
    the Winter Weather Advisory through tonight with an additional 4 to
    6 inches expected.

  18. handing out libido-enhancing Viagra pills to targeted village patriarchs

    Surely the young prepubescent males of the tribe are delighted to hear this news:(

  19. Paulson knew what's going on well in advance. He engineered it.

  20. I'll bet the CO2 consentration rises in those German houses. Serves 'em right.

  21. With 2 tablespoons of salt. :)

  22. Schumer provided the timing by singlehandedly causing a run on the (heretofore financially sound)
    INDYMAC Bank.
    Double Putz.

  23. ...don't doubt that Soros was probly involved too.
    With 30 to 1 leverage, a few Billion can go a long way.

  24. Apparently Paulson's dad is a farmer. Bob?

  25. Soros and Schumer are behind this--I just know it--

    SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. - On Christmas Eve, Gov. Chris Gregoire proclaimed a state of emergency in Washington due to the state's ongoing series of winter weather and storms.

    Gregoire notes snowfall has reached record or near-record level in 30 of Washington's 39 counties.

    The proclamation enables the state to respond quickly to local requests for emergency support and assistance arising from new storms.

    Two miserable winters in a row is NOT coincidence.

    Paulson's dad is one Farmer Bob? News to me.

  26. All these conspiracy theories make my hade urt.

  27. Bobal, your alarmism on this blog is bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. It is anti-scientific, anti-reason, anti-mind, and anti-Gore.

  28. In Seattle they'd rather remain pure and snowbound that to use salt on the roads.
    What about Spokane?
    (I'd guess they still use it.)

  29. This item is NOT brought to you by Ben-Gay

    The American Family Assn. is a Christian organization with a website called It filters out the word "gay" in online reports and replaces it with "homosexual." That sort of editing doesn't usually get much attention. Those who might be offended aren't likely to frequent the site. But it did create a stir when U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay won the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic trials.

    The Associated Press story, as reported on, read: "Tyson Homosexual was a blur in blue, sprinting 100 meters faster than anyone ever has.

    "His time of 9.68 seconds at the U.S. Olympic trials Sunday doesn't count as a world record, because it was run with the help of a too-strong tailwind. Here's what does matter: Homosexual qualified for his first Summer Games and served notice he's certainly someone to watch in Beijing.

    "It means a lot to me," the 25-year-old Homosexual said.

    Sports dummies 2008 What were they thinking

  30. Part of the formula was holding the M1 money supply growth to 1% during the 18 months prior to the credit freeze.

  31. How did that produce the "desired" result?
    (by speeding up the mortgage meltdown?)

  32. 5. elby:

    Wretchard tells us, “The Times of India describes how the foundations of enmity against their subcontinental neighbor has been laid, deep and unshakeable, by the Pakistani policy of indoctrinating children from their earliest years into regarding the Hindu as only slightly less evil than the Westerner.”

    Isn’t this what has been happening with the American educational system also? They spend years telling young children that Americans, especially white Americans, are only slightly less evil than, say, Gengis Khan (pronounced ‘jengis’ for maximum authenticity).

    One time, as a child, I was taken to a zoo on a class field trip. I went through an exhibit that told us all about an animal that caused the most terrible destruction, in great gory detail. The identity of that horrible animal was kept secret until the end of the exhibit, where you came face to face with a mirror.

    With an educational system like that indoctrinating generations of American children is it any wonder that so many Americans either don’t understand and won’t defend what it is that makes America unique and good?

  33. Did you ever consider doing fake blogs for profit, T?
    ...just be sure to buy insurance in case somebody is Sue Happy instead of Sue Gay.

  34. Also,
    I missed your response to my suggestions for alternative Bp Meds, instead of Diuretics.
    Please Repeat.

  35. Discussion...
    rain continues to fall over east and southeast portions of The Big
    Island...and snow continues to fall over the summits of Mauna Kea
    and Mauna Loa.

    Rain fall totals on The Big Island have exceeded 10 inches in
    several locations during the 24 hour period ending at 2 PM. Waiakea
    uka reported 11.90 inches...Piihonua 10.15 and Laupahoehoe 10.04.
    Most of the rain has fallen over the last 12 hours. During the same
    time...snow has fallen over Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. About a foot of
    snow has already fallen...and additional snow is expected to fall

    During the same 24 hour period...Kaupo Gap on Maui reported 7.73

  36. ...probly didn't want to chance besting Superdoug.

  37. Bobal, your alarmism on this blog is bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. It is anti-scientific, anti-reason, anti-mind, and anti-Gore.

    Congratulations, Mat!

    You've found an ally.

    Merry Post-winter Solstice Holiday, Mat and Michelle!

    The party is over.

    Oh, no, darlin'. The party is just about to begin. January 20. A brave new world awaits us. So desert rat tells me.

  38. They don't want to put salt on the roads in Seattle because they don't want the salt going into Puget Sound. Which is salt water anyway.

    Maybe they're worried about Lake Washington, though, to give them some credit.

  39. For once DR is almost sure to be right.
    Let's don't give them credit, and say we did.
    (old grammar-school standby)

  40. Molokai

    ...Yet for those of us who live on these islands and remember an older Hawaii — magical, sensuous, isolated — or for those who want to find some sense of how things were on Maui, the Big Island and Kauai before those islands were drawn into the hustle and flow of Oahu, Molokai is more than worth the trouble. Its lifestyle is more traditionally Polynesian, its people reserved but, when their veneer is cracked, warm and full of an ancient joie de vivre.

    North America > United States > Hawaii > Molokai

  41. Retailers Want In On Stimulus Plan

    Well of course. And why not?

    I like the idea of a tax holiday for tax payers best. But, that's a dirty Republican idea.

  42. Bobal, I believe Seattle has two sets of locks (one for boats, and one for ships) that allows vessels to pass from the saltwater of Puget Sound to Lake Washington 21 feet higher. What do you suppose happens to all that salt water when a ship goes eastbound up into the Lake? That's right, it mixes with the fresh water. And this operation goes on 24/7/365. But the last time the snow was so bad that Seattle needed to salt the roads was 1996.

  43. A-G orders police probe into allegations of irregularities in Kadima primaries

    Dec. 25, 2008
    etgar lefkovits, gil hoffman and yaakov lappin ,

    Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz on Thursday instructed police to investigate allegations of fraud and irregularities in the Kadima Party primary, the Justice Ministry said.

    Mazuz ordered the enquiry after receiving a letter from the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel (LFLI) which cited a complaint of irregularities by Dr. Akram Hason, a Kadima primary candidate.

    "In the wake of a detailed complaint on this issue... we have asked the police to check into this," Raz Nizri, a senior legal assistant to Mazuz, wrote in response to an attorney from the LFLI.

    The letter went on to say that the attorney-general would decide how to proceed with the case based on the results of the police investigation.

    The complaint follows Israeli media reports of alleged irregularities in last week's Kadima internal party voting in the Druse and Arab sectors.

    The irregularities cited by LFLI attorney Dan Landau in a December 21 letter to the attorney-general included the unusually high voter turnout in these sectors - over 90 percent compared to 40% nationwide - the "swift" voting time in these sectors and the "unusual" turnout in the last two hours. The organization asked Mazuz to look into the allegations before Kadima submitted its final party list to the Central Elections Committee ahead of the February 10 general elections.

    The party is to submit its list to the Central Elections Committee on Sunday night.

    The Likud released a statement saying that Mazuz's decision to seek a police investigation into the allegations "proves that Kadima is corrupt and corrupts others."

    Kadima officials expressed confidence that the police would find no evidence of wrongdoing.

    "The Kadima primary was the most organized, legal and clean election ever," a Kadima spokesman said. "We have nothing to hide, and we will fully cooperate with law enforcement authorities."

    Former head of investigations for the National Fraud Unit Dep-Cmdr. Boaz Guttman told The Jerusalem Post that police often had to deal with voter fraud in the Arab and haredi voting sectors.

    "There are no police at the ballots. At best, there is a trained representative from the Central Voting Committee. But to monitor all activities around the ballot throughout the day is naturally hard," Guttman said. "Often, there is a party representative there [with no training on how to detect voter fraud]."

    "This is a full-fledged criminal investigation. If the attorney-general has ordered police to investigate, chances are good that there are witness statements and that much of the material has not been released to the press," he said.

    Should voter fraud be found, a reelection in the local area in which the ballot had been held would be ordered, Guttman said. He added that such an outcome would not have far-reaching effects on the overall primary election results.

    In any case, according to Guttman, police were unlikely to launch the investigation before the general elections.


  44. Just don't park a rental car anywhere on Molokai or you'll get your tires slashed.

  45. Congratulations, Mat!

    You've found an ally.

    I hope someone is keeping an eye on the ballot box for voter fraud. I expect at least two votes for green libertarian.

  46. Do they still do human sacrifice, and cannabalism on idyllic Molakai, Doug? The savages.

    Not civilized, likes Swedes.

    Adam von Bremen recorded human sacrifices to Odin in 11th century Sweden, at the Temple at Uppsala, a tradition which is confirmed by Gesta Danorum and the Norse sagas. According to the Ynglinga saga, king Domalde was sacrificed there in the hope to bring greater future harvests and the total domination of all future wars. The same saga also relates that Domalde's descendant king Aun sacrificed nine of his own sons to Odin in exchange for longer life, until the Swedes stopped him from sacrificing his last son, Egil.

    Heidrek in the Hervarar saga agrees to the sacrifice of his son in exchange for the command over a fourth of the men of Reidgotaland. With these, he seizes the entire kingdom and prevents the sacrifice of his son, dedicating those fallen in his rebellion to Odin instead.

    Michelle Renee, don't the locks go to Lake Union, then on to Lake Washington? Lake Union was like the Dead Sea when I was there, Lake Washington still hanging on.

  47. Lake Union is to Lake Washington as Lake Michigan is to Lake Huron. They're the same lake, at the same elevation, but they just look separate on a map. Or so I'm told.

  48. One should always write in one's own name for some meaningless position when voting, that way you can check the results to see if your vote was counted.

  49. 12. Dave:

    Hey Doug: Can you imagine American Family Assn writing about my Grandmother’s family reunion?

    You see, the family name was Gay. So how come Alabama authorized Homosexual marriage in the late 19th Century? And how did the Homosexuals manage to produce all those Homosexual children who proceeded to produce
    elebenty-eleven jillion grandchildren? Many of whom still carry on the Homosexual family name.

    And BTW, what was the name of that Japanese
    city visited by the Enola Homosexual? Paul Tibbets named his aircraft after his Mother who was a Homosexual you know.

    (That is why God invented washcloths. To scrub the egg off faces.)

  50. hmmm, looking at the Map you may be right about that MR.

  51. Michelle Renee said...
    Just don't park a rental car anywhere on Molokai or you'll get your tires slashed.
    How'd you know that?
    ...and I was trying to get my courage up enough to imagine moving there.
    What a Downer!

  52. From that map I can't tell where the locks are, though I remember them. I thought they were where the Lake Washington Ship Canal is located but see I'm wrong. I'm embarrassed I don't know this better.

    Doug, I remember when our friend Roscoe got up one morning from his condo on Maui, and his rent-a-car was up on blocks, all four wheels missing. He was pissed at first he said, then started to laugh, it looked so absurd, and he remembered it wasn't his car anyway.

    Was Marvin gay?

  53. hmm,..

    "Pakistan has cancelled leave for members of its military due to fears of a confrontation with India following last month's Mumbai attacks.

    The decision on Friday came after Pakistan's armed forces were placed on high alert.

    ...Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, arrived in New Delhi on Friday for talks with Pranab Mukherjee, his Indian counterpart.

    New Delhi said Mukherjee impressed on Saud the need for Riyadh to use its influence on Islamabad to ensure that those behind the Mumbai attacks were brought to justice.

    Saudi Arabia has immense leverage with the Pakistani establishment because of the amount of funding it sends, including subsidised amounts of oil."

  54. His Dad probly called him a homo just before shooting him to death.

  55. Who else is Saudia sending money to?

  56. . He then embarked on a U.S. tour to support his album. The tour, ending in August 1983, was plagued by health problems and Gaye's bouts with depression, and fear over an attempt on his life.

    When the tour ended, he isolated himself by moving into his parents' house. He threatened to commit suicide several times after bitter arguments with his father. On April 1, 1984, one day before his 45th birthday, Gaye's father shot him after an argument that started after his parents squabbled over misplaced business documents. Gaye attempted to intervene, and was killed by his father using a gun he had given him four months before. Marvin Sr. was sentenced to six years of probation after pleading guilty to manslaughter. Charges of first-degree murder were dropped after doctors discovered Marvin Sr. had a brain tumor.

  57. "By 1979, besieged by tax problems and drug addictions, Gaye filed for bankruptcy and moved to Hawaii, where he lived in a bread van."
    The Downward Spiral started w/the IRS.
    What else is new?

  58. Gaye's father shot him after an argument that started after his parents squabbled over misplaced business documents. Gaye attempted to intervene, and was killed by his father using a gun he had given him four months before.

    'A man that gets between two people arguing is like a man that picks up a dog by the ears."


    You know what's going to happen, you're going to get bitten--or shot.

  59. Whatever has happened to Don Johnson? He filed bankrupcy then dropped off the map.

  60. December 27, 2008
    Tennessee Ash Flood Larger Than Initial Estimate

    A coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee that experts were already calling the largest environmental disaster of its kind in the United States is more than three times as large as initially estimated, according to an updated survey by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

    Officials at the authority initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond at the Kingston Fossil Plant, about 40 miles west of Knoxville, gave way on Monday. But on Thursday they released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep.

    The amount now said to have been spilled is larger than the amount the authority initially said was in the pond, 2.6 million cubic yards.

    A test of river water near the spill showed elevated levels of lead and thallium, which can cause birth defects and nervous and reproductive system disorders, said John Moulton, a spokesman for the T.V.A., which owns the electrical generating plant, one of the authority’s largest.

    Mr. Moulton said on Friday that the levels exceeded safety limits for drinking water, but that both metals were filtered out by water treatment processes.

    Mercury and arsenic, he said, were “barely detectable” in the samples.

    The ash pond was adjacent to the Emory River and near a residential area, where three houses were destroyed by the tide of muddy ash. Water sampled several miles downstream from the spill was safe to drink, but its iron and manganese content exceeded the secondary drinking water standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, which govern taste and odor but not potential health effects, Mr. Moulton said.

    Neither the authority nor the E.P.A. has released the results of tests of soil or the ash itself. Authority officials have said that the ash is not harmful, and the authority has not warned residents of potential dangers, though federal studies show that coal ash can contain dangerous levels of heavy metals and carcinogens.

    “You’re not going to be endangered by touching the ash material,” said Barbara Martocci, a spokeswoman for the T.V.A. “You’d have to eat it. You have to get it in your body.”

    The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation also released a statement saying there was no indication of risk unless the ash was ingested.

    Aha. And what happens when this slurry dries up, and is taken in to the lungs?

  61. Good argument for nuclear, eh mat?

  62. Doug:

    Enola Homosexual....that's the funniest thing I have ever heard you say (write)! Makes me think of that guy who sings so well: Marvin Homosexual...LOL

  63. U.S. now tops in Wind Energy - 21,000 Megawatts

    The Anti-Alternative Energy Lobby will keep up the wailing, and gnashing of teeth, but AE, obviously, works.

    Will Wind "Electrify" the Earth all on it's own? Of course not. But, taken with Solar, Biomass, Wave, Current, Biofuel, Nuclear, etc. it will make our lives cleaner, and better.

    You may have guessed, by now, certain energy companies aren't happy with that prospect.

  64. lead and thallium, which can cause birth defects and nervous and reproductive system disorders

    its iron and manganese content

    These folks won't have to take their iron pills for awhile.

    Aha. And what happens when this slurry dries up, and is taken in to the lungs?

    Same thing as happens when you breathe the air out of a normally operating coal fired plant--sooner or later you get lung cancer.

  65. Rufus, just by chance I heard some figures on how much wind energy Idaho is estimated to have. It was quite far down the list compared with most of the other states, though I can't recall the numbers. There aren't any wind turbines up this way, south Idaho I don't know about.

  66. Don't fish the Emory River for a few decades.

  67. Same thing as happens when you breathe the air out of a normally operating coal fired plant--sooner or later you get lung cancer.

    I hope LT didn't see that. :)

  68. Palestinians get a couple of their own. It's a sad thing. Should have hit some political headquarters.

    (Reuters) – A rocket apparently fired by Palestinians on Friday struck a house in the Gaza Strip, killing two Palestinian sisters aged five and 13, Palestinian medics said.

    Hamas police said they were investigating the cause of the blast in Beit Lahiya village in northern Gaza, which medics said seemed to be due to a rocket aimed at Israel that had misfired.

    Gaza militants frequently fire rockets at Israel from the same area.

    The incident came amid rising tensions with Israel, with officials threatening stepped-up military action against Gaza militants to stop rocket shootings from the coastal territory.

  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

  70. Is anyone keeping an eye on our ballot box for possible voter fraud? I'm counting 4 votes for green libertarian. One ballot even been signed in what looks to be some kind of runic alphabet.

  71. Runes is hard. I don't know runes.

    Look at this--The Acorn Don't Fall Far From The Tree

    Do I believe this? Well....

  72. Bob, I think you might have something there.

  73. I tell you, Mat, I never would have dreamed my country would find itself in an idiotic, absurd, and possibly tragic situation like this.

    And the damned courts won't even look into it.

    The rumor is, Malcom was in Seattle at just about the proper time, too.

    ah,jeez :)

  74. We have Nicaraguans running for President, and no one gives a shit.

    Well, a few states did, but as many didn't.

  75. One thing I noticed when I was traveling thru the US and talking with people, is the deeply ingrained lack of civic ownership. People are thoroughly demoralized and apathetic when it comes to standing against the power and manipulations of the Corporate State. So people just go along and try to grab as much loot as they can be pillaged from the system. The system is rotten to the core, Bob. People just don't care anymore. They have zero stake in the well being of the Corporate State.

  76. Where there's a will, there's a way. All these problems can be mitigated.

    G'nite, Bob.

  77. much loot as can be pillaged..

  78. Funny thing, we were watching that scholarly movie, National Treasures II last night when Nick Cage, playing Ben, said

    "Before the Civil War people said 'The United States are' after the War, 'The United States is'."

    If the idea of the Federal super State has so permeated the culture of America, with Nick Cage promoting the super State on screen, as a 'good thing', then there stands Hollywood, Disney in particular.

  79. By limiting the M1, there was less liquidity in the markets, which led to a tightening in lending, which led to housing prices cratering.
    Greater liquidity, sooner would have led to a more stabilized asset market, instead of the volatile declines and subsequent loss of consumer confidence.

    If the remedy, now, is to increase liquidity, then the cause of the meltdown is clear, the engineered drought just prior to the current and still coming flood of Federalized liquidity. An engineered power grab and the further nationalizing of the financial and manufacturing segments of the economy.

    All this brought to US by a 'conservative' administration, with Healthcare nationalization yet to come, from the next more liberal administration.

    The recession started about a year ago, doug, the Feds answer was to tighten the money supply. A counter intutive policy, to be sure

  80. Here you go...

    By Susan Page, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON — A month before his inauguration, Americans choose Barack Obama as the man they admire most in the world, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. It's the first time a president-elect has topped the annual survey in more than a half-century.
    President Bush falls to a distant second after seven years as the most-admired man.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton leads the list of most-admired woman, a spot she's held for 13 of the past 16 years — as first lady, then New York senator and now Obama's designate for secretary of State. A newcomer is second: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who wasn't well-known nationally until Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose her as his running mate in August.


    What man living today do you admire most?

    1. Barack Obama 32%
    2. George W. Bush 5%
    3. John McCain 3%
    4. Pope Benedict XVI* 2%
    Billy Graham 2%
    Bill Clinton 2%

    What woman living today do you admire most?

    1. Hillary Clinton 20%
    2. Sarah Palin 11%
    3. Oprah Winfrey 8%
    4. Condoleezza Rice 7%
    5. Michelle Obama 3%

    Considering that the fellow palled arond with terrorists, it's evident that most Americans still don't seem to care.

  81. The USA is spending almost Billion $$$ less a day a day on Gas than in July

    In July gasoline consumption reached a 9,375,000 barrels a day or 393,750,000 gallons a day at $4.062/gallon.

    The last average shown in December is 8,998,000 barrels a day or 377,916,000 gallons a day at $1.653/gallon.

    $974.7 million.

    It is quite a chunk of change.

  82. curiously there is currently a big rush for geothermal energy out west
    Utah startup hits geothermal jackpot