“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."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Wealth Destroying Housing Debacle Worsens.

Forget housing for a moment. Assume ten percent of the owners of automobiles in the US were getting their cars reposessed, how many of the other 90% would be buying a new car? Not many. Housing is worse, because ten percent of us do not buy a new home every year. The housing mess is making billionaires millionaires. It has turned 401k's into 210k's. Get over the moral hazard bullshit and act in your own best interest to preserve your own wealth. Fix housing first.

Foreclosure Filings in U.S. Jump 30%, Thwart Prevention Effort

By Dan Levy

March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Foreclosure filings in the U.S. climbed 30 percent in February from a year earlier as the worsening economy thwarted efforts by the government and lenders to prevent homeowners from losing property, RealtyTrac Inc. said.

A total of 290,631 homes received a default or auction notice or were seized by the lender, the Irvine, California-based seller of default data said in a statement today. It was the third-highest monthly total in RealtyTrac records dating to 2005. February filings increased 6 percent from January.

“More people have lost their incomes or are underwater on their mortgages, so a new housing plan won’t change those facts by itself,” Barry Eichengreen, professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, said in an interview.

The U.S. housing crisis is deepening as President Barack Obama attempts a $275 billion rescue to help borrowers with sinking home values or unaffordable loans. Declining prices sapped $2.4 trillion in value from the nation’s residential market last year, according to First American CoreLogic. Prices in 20 U.S. cities have fallen every month since January 2007, the S&P/Case Shiller index shows.

Rising unemployment also is making it harder for homeowners to keep up with payments. The U.S. jobless rate rose to 8.1 percent in February, the highest in more than 25 years, according to the Labor Department.

Wait and See

Some of the top U.S. lenders own as many as 700,000 foreclosed homes they have yet to offer for sale, said Rick Sharga, executive vice president for marketing for RealtyTrac.

The banks may be waiting to see how U.S. government plans develop before selling the properties, Sharga said. The lenders and government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two biggest U.S. mortgage financing companies, have already extended temporary foreclosure moratoriums.

The combined percentage of loans in foreclosure or at least one payment past due in the fourth quarter was 11.18 percent, the highest on record, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association in Washington. The percentage of loans 60 days past due and 90 days or more late also were at record levels.

“Many elements are lined up to suggest we’ll have more foreclosure activity in the future, maybe an all-time high,” Sharga said.

Obama introduced a plan Feb. 18 to use $75 billion of public funds to entice lenders to modify or refinance home loans, stem foreclosures and rescue delinquent homeowners. The president also said the Treasury Department would provide as much as $200 billion in additional backing for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to free up funding for new mortgages.

Re-Financing Plan

To qualify for a refinanced loan, applicants will have to fully document income with pay stubs and tax returns, and sign an affidavit attesting to “financial hardship,” according to Treasury.

One in 440 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing last month, and Nevada, Arizona and California had the highest foreclosure rates, RealtyTrac said.

Idaho, Illinois and Oregon joined the list of top 10 states with the highest rates, a sign that rising unemployment is now pushing defaults, Sharga said. Florida, Michigan, Georgia and Ohio were also in the top 10.

California had the highest total with 80,775 foreclosure filings in February, a 51 increase from a year earlier. Auction sale notices almost tripled to 18,831.

Florida had the second-most filings at 46,391, a 43 percent increase from a year earlier. Auction sale notices climbed 158 percent and bank seizures rose 128 percent.

Las Vegas Ranking

Arizona ranked third in filings with 18,119, up 88 percent from February 2008.

New York had the 35th highest rate and 4,301 filings. New Jersey ranked 29th and had 3,279 filings. Connecticut was 14th with 2,220 filings, RealtyTrac said.

Las Vegas had the highest foreclosure rate among metropolitan areas with populations of 200,000 or more. One in 60 housing units there received a filing, more than seven times the national average.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida had the second-highest rate: one in every 65 housing units, according to RealtyTrac. Five California cities ranked third through seventh: Stockton, Modesto, Merced, Riverside-San Bernardino and Bakersfield.

Reno-Sparks, Nevada was eighth; Phoenix was ninth; and Vallejo-Fairfield, California ranked tenth, RealtyTrac said.

The company collects data from more than 2,200 counties that are home to more than 90 percent of the U.S. population.


  1. House of cards?

    No one complained when the house prices in CA, FL & NV were going up for a decade at 9-15%

    Sometimes builders over build...

    Sometimes there are boom and bust cycles...

    why not talk of average square foot costs?

    maybe its a good thing that those areas that homes were unaffordable (california) now have stocks of homes on the cheap?

    Let's offer to sell them to Indians from India!

    After all the Canadians did that to the rich business owners of Hong Kong....

    Give them citizenship, they bring their companies & wealth

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. WIO,
    CA is STILL 50% ABOVE 2003 LEVELS!

    Now lots of folks that WERE paying up have stopped to see what they can get outta Uncle Sugar.


    "I don't have a particular tipping point in mind," he said. "I think it's unacceptable if you've got drug gangs crossing our borders and killing U.S. citizens."

    ...THAT's an improvement on
    Mr. Family values don't stop at the border.

  5. 290,000? What's that, three-tenths of One Percent of the houses in the United States?

    Three tenths of one percent (.003?)

    Housing prices are now going up, month-over-month, if not YOY, in all states, I believe. At least, in almost all states.

    Don't be caught wrong-footed, folks; this "depression" is over.

  6. The morning radio had this interesting tidbit for me this morning:

    Toyota and GM both sold approximately 9.3 million cars last year. Toyota turned a profit of 7 billion and GM lost 36 billion. Toyota's CEO took home 1 million dollars and GM's CEO took home 15 million. What's wrong with this picture???

  7. Over!??, I have not even seen the fat lady come on stage, let alone heard her sing!

    We have miles to go and an agenda to attain before this crisis can be over, rufus.

    Glad to see that Idaho made it to the top 10, those neo-Nazis up there deserve to feel some pain, too. I've read that land developers, up there, they quit farmin' the land, but do not want to pay the spread, between farm and residental tax valuations.
    Farmland being taxed at muuch lower rates, commensurate with the public good derived from farming. Old time ranchers and farmers feel these lower tax rates are their birth right, even when they change the land use applications.

    It is a good thing that high rates of foreclosure will limit the developers opportunities to game the tax system, more than they already have.

  8. Seems, from that tidbit, ash, that there are systemic challenges, there at GM.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. All these economic calamities have solutions, but each is more radical than what's currently on offer. The government will have to temporarily nationalize major banks, sort out good assets from bad ones, and then return banks to responsible private ownership. To cure the housing collapse, government should directly refinance mortgages, rather than bribing banks to ease terms.

    Deficits will have to be a lot larger before they can get smaller. That should not require a war; this is just as grave a national emergency. Those deficits could purchase much broader prosperity.

    This crisis doesn't yet have a name. It has all the hallmarks of a depression, but people are understandably reluctant to use the D-word. So let me suggest one: The Great Collapse, since this was both a financial collapse and an ideological one.

    Can America recover from a Great Collapse? Can we avert a second Great Depression? To coin a phrase, yes we can. But we need the right strategies and we don't have much time.

    Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and author of "Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency."

  11. I think they feel more of a grandfathering than a birthright as you put it. eminent domaining would be more of an act of birthright. been there for both.

  12. That may be, slim, grandfathering rather than birthright.

    The Obama Rosetta Stone

    By Daniel Henninger

    Barack Obama has written two famous, widely read books of autobiography -- "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope." Let me introduce his third, a book that will touch everyone's life:
    "A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise. The President's Budget and Fiscal Preview"
    (Government Printing Office, 141 pages, $26; free on the Web). This is the U.S. budget for laymen, and it's a must read.

    Turn immediately to page 11. There sits a chart called Figure 9. This is the Rosetta Stone to the presidential mind of Barack Obama. Memorize Figure 9, and you will never be confused. Not happy, perhaps, but not confused.

  13. This is the Rosetta Stone to the presidential mind of Barack Obama. Memorize Figure 9, and you will never be confused. Not happy, perhaps, but not confused.

    It is the "Laffer Curve", for the New Democrats.

  14. Obama: 'I am a New Democrat'


    President Barack Obama firmly resists ideological labels, but at the end of a private meeting with a group of moderate Democrats on Tuesday afternoon, he offered a statement of solidarity.

    “I am a New Democrat,” he told the New Democrat Coalition, according to two sources at the White House session.

  15. Europe to U.S.: You're on crack!

    The critical condition of Europe's economy was underlined by official data on Tuesday showing French industrial output fell at a year-on-year rate of 13.8 per cent in January, the worst fall since records started in 1991. Despite the gloomy figures, stock markets around the world rebounded strongly. In New York, the S&P 500 index surged 6 per cent by mid-afternoon, while the FTSE Eurofirst 300 index of leading European shares gained 5.3 per cent.

    France, Germany and Italy, the eurozone's three biggest countries, are anxious that the 16 countries sharing the euro should not run up ever-bigger budget deficits and public debt, potentially threatening the stability of the single currency area.

    Europe, that wonderful place we are told we should aspire to be, has a very blunt answer to the financial crisis, you don't fix a crisis about overconsumption and easy credit by taking on a mountain of debt to try to facilitate even more spending. Our governments will not be the consumer of last resort and we will not DESTROY our currency by borrowing from our children to try to avoid pain now.

    Take the pain, grow up, that is what the U.S. needs to do, it is what the boomers must do, and putting your house in order involves something other than doing more of the same.

    Posted before, but obviously needs repeating, again and again.

  16. One finds many charts in a federal budget, most attributed to such deep mines of data as the Census Bureau or the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The one on page 11 (Figure 9) is attributed to "Piketty and Saez."

    Either you know instantly what "Piketty and Saez" means, or you don't. If you do, you spent the past two years working to get Barack Obama into the White House. If you don't, their posse has a six-week head start on you.

    Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, French economists, are rock stars of the intellectual left. Their specialty is "earnings inequality" and "wealth concentration."

  17. David Faiman's Zenith Solar to Open First Solar Energy Solar Farm in Israel | Green Prophet

    ZenithSolar, an Israeli start-up company to license revolutionary solar energy technologies, will be launching its first "solar farm" in April 2009 based on Concentrated Photovoltaic (CPV) systems. Developed by Prof. David Faiman, Chairman of the Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics at the University's Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, the system will harvest more than 70% of incoming solar energy (as compared to industry norms of 10% to 40%).

    Journalists are invited on March 22, 2009 to Kvuzat Yavne for the first site visit and briefing to learn firsthand how this unique technology will generate electricity and thermal energy (hot water) for the Kibbutz and ultimately other Israel neighborhoods. Organized transportation will be leaving from Tel Aviv at 9:00 am.

    On site, you will have an opportunity to meet with Roy Segev, founder and CEO ZenithSolar, and Prof. David Faiman and see how the solar farm operates. More than $10 million of privately-raised capital from investors around the world has been invested in adapting the technology to real world conditions. The $1.5 million outlay in the solar farm is providing a model that can be replicated around the world. ZenithSolar plans to have models of the solar units available for wider distribution by the end of 2009.

    Segev explains "the potential for this technology to provide low-cost, accessible energy for customers around the world is enormous. "Our system is simple enough to be applicable in almost any situation, whether it is industrial, commercial, residential or related to eco-tourism."

    "By concentrating solar energy to a level 1000 times more intense than natural sunlight," explains Prof. David Faiman, "and taking advantage of the higher efficiencies at which solar cells operate under these conditions, only minute amounts of expensive PV material are necessary to produce large amounts of power." He is sure that systems such as ZenithSolar's will accordingly eventually be able to operate economically without the need for subsidies.

    "There is currently no other comparable technology available in the world," Segev adds. "Working closely with Prof. David Faiman and Dr. Andreas Bett, head of Department of Materials - Solar Cells Technology and his staff at Germany's Fraunhofer Gesellschaft for Solar Energy Systems, we have created a solar energy system that is more efficient than any similar solar product."

    Israel's main power generation comes from coal. I think in 5-10 years, Israel will be using green renewables exclusively.

  18. And, it bears repeating, mat, that the US is moving to a bilateral arrangement with China, the Americas and China.
    The Americas populated with over a billion folk and China with 1.3 billion.

    Leaving the Eurapeons to fend with their problems, themselves.

    That is the promise of the Russell Company strategy that has enthralled the US ruling elite since before Teddy sent the Great White Fleet on its' whirled tour.

  19. And, it bears repeating, mat, that the US is moving to a bilateral arrangement with China

    Good luck with that. You obviously don't know the Chinezies. They eat snakes scorpions cats dogs rats roaches, and they will have no problems in eating you alive.

  20. I think that haveing a low cost commercial solar generating station, as described: The $1.5 million outlay in the solar farm is providing a model that can be replicated around the world. is really fabulous.

    But here, mat, is the direct delemia, also from your linked story.

    He is sure that systems such as ZenithSolar’s will accordingly eventually be able to operate economically without the need for subsidies.

    The most efficient and productive of the solar applications is not economicly viable.

    The model that they want to replicate around the whirled is not economicly sustainable.

  21. Nouriel Roubini is a Ponzi

  22. I don't doubt they'll try, mat,

    But regardless, that is the plan, has been and will remain the course we stay. As Ms Clinton reaffirmed on her last trip to the Mainland.

    Clinton: Chinese human rights can't interfere with other crises

    "Successive administrations and Chinese governments have been poised back and forth on these issues, and we have to continue to press them. But our pressing on those issues can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis," she told reporters in Seoul, South Korea.

  23. The most efficient and productive of the solar applications is not economicly viable.

    They don't receive trillion dollar a year subsidies that oil and coal receive.

    Robert Hefner made it very clear:

    The "real inconvenient truth," Hefner says, is that government subsidies are impeding the adoption of abundant, cleaner and cheaper natural gas by extending the life of oil and coal well beyond what otherwise would have been their natural rates of decline. If government policy instead allowed the full external costs of coal and oil (military costs to secure supply, health care costs due to toxic emissions, environmental costs, efficiency costs, etc.) to bleed through to the consumer, the superior energy solutions of natural gas, wind, and solar would come to the fore. Natural gas would then attain its destiny as the "go-to" fuel of choice and accelerate the decline of coal and oil consumption while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  24. Clinton: Chinese human rights can't interfere with other crises

    No, dRat. Competing with Chinezie slave labor is an American human right issue.

  25. Funny

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. You can take that position, mat, but the United States, it takes another.

    Whether morally justifiable to you, of not.

    The susbisies for oil and coal are built into the infrastructure of the society, now-a-days. It is the conservative thng to change by degrees,

    By Christopher Doering

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An increase in the ethanol-gasoline blend rate to 12 or 13 percent could be accomplished quickly and with minimal scientific review, giving a needed boost to the future of the industry, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Monday.

    Growth Energy, an ethanol trade group, last week submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a formal request to boost the ethanol blend rate to as high as 15 percent from the current cap of 10 percent.

    The EPA has 270 days to review, collect public comment and make a decision.

    "We'd love to see 15 percent. Right now my focus is on 12, 13 percent because I think it is doable more quickly," Vilsack told reporters.

    "Our hope is that EPA can come to the same conclusion we have, which is that this is something that can be done within existing regulations without a great deal of time spent reviewing the science," he added.

    But, regardless of that, the US and China will divvy up the oil in the Middle East, while leaving the Europeons to the Russian supply chain to depend upon. Creating a bi-poral whirled while the Eurotrash are being Malmoized.

    Daughter's boyfriend is from Malmo, wants to emigrate here.

    Such a deal.

  28. You can take that position, mat, but the United States, it takes another.

    I don't think so. I think there will be a very rude awakening for the American political and money class.

  29. The susbisies for oil and coal are built into the infrastructure of the society, now-a-days.

    See my comment above.

  30. I mean, realy mat, if that solar generator does not have a 10 to 1 debt to earnings ratio, it is, by your own experts' evaluation, just another Ponzi Scheme.

    Just as lineman tells us, that solar collector system is still just another rent eater.
    Not a provider.

  31. I mean, realy mat, if that solar generator does not have a 10 to 1 debt to earnings ratio

    LOL. Nice try.

    Here it is, again:

    According to Minsky and according to economic theory Ponzi agents (households, firms, banks) are those who need to borrow more to repay both principal and interest on their previous debt; i.e. Minsky’s “Ponzi borrowers” cannot service neither interest or principal payments on their debts. They are called “Ponzi borrowers” as they need persistently increasing prices of the assets they invested in to keep on refinancing their debt obligations.

  32. And private equity firms that did over a $1 trillion of LBOs in the last few years with debt to earnings ratio of 10 or above were also Ponzi firms playing a Ponzi game.

    So, mat, if the capital required to build the solar generator, $1.5 million, cannot be recovered without outside subsidy, it does not pass the 10 to 1 Standard and, as an investment vehicle, can be considered just another Ponzi scheme.

    One were the subsidies maintain owner equity, or they'd fail, economicly.

    Your contionual comparison to the subsidies required for the existing infrastructure is irrelevent. That is the status que, there is no need to abandon that proven infrastructure immediately, just need to 'migrate' away from what could be limited supplies of oil, over the next 20 years to other fuels that are compatable with the current fleet of 250 million vehicles in the US.

    The US seems to be moving in that direction, if we are going to subsidize an energy production cycle it should be a non-food grain ethanol source.

  33. I can see the future now - the US bites the bullet and makes the sacrifices necessary to get off of oil leaving the rest of the world to bathe in cheap oil due to the decrease in demand with the exit of the US market. Utopia all around!

  34. Well, maybe not Utopian for the US due to the sacrifices necessary but, BINGO for everyone else.

  35. if we are going to subsidize an energy production cycle it should be a non-food grain ethanol source.

    There isn't enough biomass on the planet to do that, let alone the fact that you need 1.4 units of energy input for 1.0 energy unit output with that scheme.

    You and Ashley make a good couple. You're both are complete idiots.

  36. Just one reason the transition is a twenty year program, ash.

    A long migration from fossil fuels to floral fuels.

    Skip that whole "in the earth for millions of years" part of the cycle.
    Better living through chemistry.

  37. Did I see something where banks are holding 700,000 houses, that they own, off the market?

  38. yeah, I saw that. NY Times I believe.

  39. 700,000 houses that will soon be uninhabitable due to mold infestation and other deterioration.

  40. Another "toxic asset" that housing stock being held off the market.

    If those houses were added to the market, the resulting wave of price deflation would sumberge another series of homeowners.

    More than 8.3 million U.S. borrowers owed more than their loans were worth in the fourth quarter of 2008, and an additional 2.2 million will be underwater if home prices decline another 5 percent, according to First American CoreLogic.

  41. By holding those 700,000 homes off the market, the banks maintain their market value, at the current levels. If they put them on the market, they'd depress it. That would invoke a negative "mark to market" on their balance sheets reqiring even further recapitalization by the banks, to cover losses on houses they can't sell at their market value, let alone their book value.

  42. Meanwhile, Timmy is holding off his next great solution, waiting to determine the value of them ever increasing toxic assets.
    He sez.
    See Timmy run.
    Poor Timmy.

  43. Perhaps a longtime European Union member such as Greece or Spain will default on its sovereign debt. Or one or more of the heavily indebted ex-communist states in Eastern Europe will capsize and require a costly rescue.

    Either way, an economic crisis that Europeans once regarded as fundamentally American in origin and consequence is testing the continent's resilience. So far, the results are not reassuring. Germany, Europe's economic engine, ardently resists talk of a bailout for either old or new Europeans, fearing it will inevitably get stuck with the tab. A top EU official, meanwhile, unsuccessfully seeks to calm fears that some countries will be left to fail, by insisting there is a rescue plan but that its details are secret.

    "Europe doesn't have the institutional capacity to deal with the situation — either Ireland within the eurozone or Hungary outside it," says Marc Chandler, senior vice president for currency strategy at Brown Bros. Harriman.

    The U.S. Treasury has drawn fire for its handling of the increasingly costly bailouts of banks, insurers and automakers in this country. But imagine what the economy would look like if there were no Treasury to do the bailing — no marble building adjoining the White House; no bronze statue of Albert Gallatin, the longest-serving Treasury chief, out front; nothing

    That's why Europe is flailing amid a worsening recession, talk of sovereign defaults and quaking banks. A decade after the launch of a single currency, the euro, the European Union has a central bank but no federal financial policy organ. Where the U.S. has Gallatin's descendent, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Europe has 27 national finance ministers.

    Rising economic woes test Europe's leaders

  44. Capital flows into eight Central and East European nations peaked at $388.2 billion in 2007 and are expected to sink to just $6.7 billion this year, according to the Institute of International Finance, an association of banks and other financial institutions. Excluding Russia and Ukraine, which are both forecast to see net outflows of capital to repay foreign lenders, the falloff is less dramatic, though still worrisome. Flows into Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey totaled $180.9 billion in 2007 and will be $59.5 billion this year, the IIF said.

    "Eastern Europe is going to collapse in the next phase of the crisis," says Tim Lee, an economist at Pi Economics in Stamford, Conn.

  45. Does Voting Matter Anymore?
    Our elected leaders act more and more like kings, not representatives of the people.

  46. 37. Nick:

    Funny while the rest of the world is trying to get away from socialism we are swimming head long into it.

    Welcome to USSA comrade!


    38. buddy larsen:

    “Back to the Thirties, me Wobblies!”

  47. 85% of cars in Sweden run on ethanol. They intend to be Oil Free in 2030.

  48. Glad to see that Idaho made it to the top 10, those neo-Nazis up there deserve to feel some pain, too. I've read that land developers, up there, they quit farmin' the land, but do not want to pay the spread, between farm and residental tax valuations.
    Farmland being taxed at muuch lower rates, commensurate with the public good derived from farming. Old time ranchers and farmers feel these lower tax rates are their birth right, even when they change the land use applications.

    It is a good thing that high rates of foreclosure will limit the developers opportunities to game the tax system, more than they already have.

    Life must be really shitty in Phoenix if all you can ever think do is mouth off about things you know nothing of.

  49. Rufus,

    here is that call I recommended to you:

    Symbol: WGE AD Last: 0.40 Change: 0.10

    Up +33.3333% Today

  50. 6% rallies don't happen in bull markets. A 6% rally did happen yesterday, which tells you everything you need to know about what kind of market we're in.

  51. I'll throw some darts tonight.

    There does seem to be some talk about getting rid of this M2M rule.

  52. 1 in 5 loans in Florida delinquent

    Sure, why not, especially when you keep hearing about cram downs and new payments based on whatever you want to pay.

    Some people say the worst is over, others say we haven't begun to see the worst yet. Who has the crystal ball?

  53. GS and GE are dirty. The market knows this, and is setting up the next round of suckers.

  54. Next up: Life Insurers

    Some good comments there as well.

  55. In the nothing new under the sun category--Bernie Madoff in Key West, circa 1937--

    His remorse was to think if only he had not been quite so smart five years ago. He could have paid the taxes then without any juggling, and if he had only done so he would be all right now. So he lay thinking of that and finally he slept; but because remorse had once found the crack and begun to seep in, he did not know he slept because his brain kept on as it had while he was awake. So there would be no rest and, at his age, it would not take so long fo that to get him.

    He used to say that only suckers worried and he would keep from worrying now until he could not sleep. He might keep from it until he slept, but then it would come in, and since he was this old its task was easy.

    He would not need to worry about what he had done to other people, nor what had happened to them due to him, nor how they'd ended; who'd moved from houses on the Lake Shore drive to taking boarders out in Austin, whose debutante daughters now were dentists' assistants when they had a job; who ended up a night watchman at sixty-three after that last corner; who shot himself early one morning before breakfast and which one of his children found him, and what the mess looked like; who now rode on the L to work, when there was work, from Berwyn, trying to sell, fist, bonds; then motor cars, then house-to-house novelities and specialties (we don't want no peddlers, get out of here, the door slammed in his face) until he varied the leaning drop his father made from forty-two floors up, with no rush of plumes as when an eagle falls, to a step forward onto the third rail in front of the Aurora-Elgin train, his overcoat pocket full of unsaleable combination eggbeaters and fruit juice extracter. Just let me demonstrate it, madame. You attach it here, screw down on this little gadget here. Now watch. No, I don't want it. Just try one. I don't want it. Get out.

    So he got out onto the sidewalk with the frame-houses, the naked yards and the bare catalpa trees where no one wanted it or anything else, that led down to the Aurora-Elgin tracks.

    Some made the long drop from the apartment or the office window; some took it quietly in two-car garages with the motor running; some used the native tradition of the Colt or the Smith and Wesson; those well constructed implements that end insomnia, terminate remorse, cure cancer, avoid bandruptcy, and blast an exit from intolerable positions by the pressure of a finger; those admirable American instruments so easily carried, so sure of effect, so well designed to end the American dream when it becomes a nightmare, their only drawback the mess they leave for relatives to clean up.

    The men he broke made all these various exits but that never worried him. Somebody had to lose and only suckers worry.

    It would be enough for him to think about how much it would be better if he had not been quite so smart five yeats ago, and in a little while, at his age, the wish to change what can no longer be undone, will open up the gap that will let worry in. Only suckers worry. But he can knock the worry if he takes a Scotch and soda. The hell with what the doctor said. So he rings for one and the steward comes sleepily, and as he drinks it, the speculator is not a sucker now; except for death.

    While on the next yacht beyond, a pleasant, dull and upright family are asleep....

    from To Have and Have Not

    Ernest Hemingway, 1937 (first published 1934)

  56. Glad you reminded about life insurers, Mat. I got to worrying late last night, and looked my company up, which seemed ok. Was going to call my agent and ask how things are going, which I'll do right now.

  57. Congressional approval ratings spiked to 39 percent, the highest level in four years, according to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday. The 8-percentage-point gain this month comes on the heels of a 12-point boost in February.

    Self-identified Democrats fueled the rise in ratings in the poll of more than 1,000 adults, conducted March 5-8. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats said they approve of the way Congress is handling its job, up from 43 percent in February. Just 22 percent of Republicans approve, up from 19 percent in February. The poll also registered an uptick among independents, 34 percent of whom gave Congress the thumbs up, compared with 29 percent last month.

    The newest ratings represent a large jump from January’s findings. At the start of the year, Congress’ job approval was at just 19 percent, one of the lowest assessments the poll has ever recorded. After President Barack Obama’s Inauguration, that figure advanced to 31 percent in February

  58. Maxine Waters is in some hot water, well, tepid anyway.

  59. Glad you reminded about life insurers, Mat.


  60. Porn Lawyer Second In Command At Justice

    A lawyer can choose his clients.

    Freedom of speech for porn pushers, bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

  61. Figure 9, on page 11 of the Obama Budget for Laymen, that is the next Laffer Curve, which indicates to the New Democrats just where the country went wrong.

    Get that trendline going in the opposite direction, that's the plan, amigos. Using the intrusive power of government to do it.

  62. Via ABC News:


  63. Long time ago my daughter asks, daddy, can I have some 'life insurance' too? I want some of that.

    Honey, you're the beneficiary.

    What's that daddy.


    Which reminds me of a story my doctor told me.

    Said he told his daughter she'd have her period.

    She did, then had another one.

    daddy, what's happening, I already had my period.


  64. That's because conservatives are just vicarious fuckers, Mat, not real fuckers.

  65. At the court hearing, Yusuf Acar, the acting chief security officer in the city's technology office, was ordered held without bond pending a hearing Tuesday. Prosecutors said $70,000 in cash was found during a search of Acar's Washington home and that he posed a serious flight risk.

    'Cold Cash' Yusuf

  66. Chairman Ben S. Bernanke
    At the Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, D.C.
    March 10, 2009

    Financial Reform to Address Systemic Risk

    The world is suffering through the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, a crisis that has precipitated a sharp downturn in the global economy. Its fundamental causes remain in dispute. In my view, however, it is impossible to understand this crisis without reference to the global imbalances in trade and capital flows that began in the latter half of the 1990s. In the simplest terms, these imbalances reflected a chronic lack of saving relative to investment in the United States and some other industrial countries, combined with an extraordinary increase in saving relative to investment in many emerging market nations.

    Essentially, Bernanke says we need to rescue the banks and shore up our regulatory and credit systems.

    Say good-bye to the growth model.

  67. The most efficient and productive of the solar applications is not economicly viable.

    The model that they want to replicate around the whirled is not economicly sustainable.

    We still need your batteries, mat.

  68. 45 percent of world's wealth destroyed: Blackstone CEO
    Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:42pm EDT
    By Megan Davies and Walden Siew

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private equity company Blackstone Group LP (BX.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) CEO Stephen Schwarzman said on Tuesday that up to 45 percent of the world's wealth has been destroyed by the global credit crisis.

    "Between 40 and 45 percent of the world's wealth has been destroyed in little less than a year and a half," Schwarzman told an audience at the Japan Society. "This is absolutely unprecedented in our lifetime.

    I wonder how close my guesstimate of $100 trillion in damages is.

  69. We still need your batteries, mat.

    We first need to learn you good manners. Can we say please, please. And now, practice it in Mandarin.

  70. When will bad bankers go to jail?

    My question is, when the will our "bad bankers" and their politicians be lynched at first sighting. And I don't think that the scenario is that far off.

  71. ...just need to 'migrate' away from what could be limited supplies of oil, over the next 20 years to other fuels that are compatable with the current fleet of 250 million vehicles in the US.

    The US seems to be moving in that direction, if we are going to subsidize an energy production cycle it should be a non-food grain ethanol source.

    dr has nailed it.

    Corn belongs in beefsteak, tortillas and bootleg likker...not your gas tank.


    And I hope someone will think of something special for this creep.

  73. We're in luck. bob has found the answer. Read all about it Here

  74. It's nuts. Sheriff Joe gets investigated. Didn't he get some help from Homeland Security? Then Zero says there's a war on the southern border, but he's not sending troops. Sheriff Joe gets investigated for doing his job. I thought a little while ago he seemed in line to be second in command in some federal position? Everything's at cross purposes. Nothing makes sense.

  75. We first need to learn you good manners.

    The pot calls the kettle black.

    Your grammar is from south of the tracks, mat.

    Where are the batteries?

  76. Bubba Clinton Said It's OK To Monkey Around With 'Unfertilized Embryos'

    If an embryo is unfertilized, what's a fertilized embryo?

    Maybe a clone or something like that. Maybe a hybrid. Maybe a genetically modified cloned hybrid?

  77. Why did Madoff plead guilty? Why did the judge accept the plea? The judge could have forced a trial and some discovery, I think. Why didn't Madoff hold out for a little something of a deal in exchange for some information? What's going on here? Is Madoff not only protecting the relatives and the money, but maybe some folks in the government too?

    We need a good conspiracy theorist around this joint.

  78. Your grammar is from south of the tracks, mat.

    It's not about grammar, it's about truth:

  79. Steele 'choice' gaffe sparks GOP revolt


    Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s series of gaffes turned into something more serious Thursday, as leaders of a pillar of the GOP—the anti-abortion movement—shifted into open revolt over comments in an interview with the men’s magazine GQ.

    Steele called abortion an “individual choice” and opposed a constitutional ban on abortion in the Feb. 24 interview, which appeared online Wednesday night. He echoed the language of the abortion rights movement and appeared to contradict his own heated assertions during his campaign for chairman that he is a committed soldier in the anti-abortion movement.

  80. Gideon Levy / Everyone agrees: War in Gaza was a failure

    By Gideon Levy @ Haaretz

    Tags: IDF, hamas, gaza, israel news

    Suddenly we're all in consensus: The recent war in Gaza was a failure. The bon ton now is to list its flaws. Flip-floppers say its "achievements" were squandered; leftists say the war "should never have started" and rightists will say the war "should have lasted longer." But on this they all agree: It was a blunder.

    Because we consider the war to have been almost cost-free, with just 13 Israeli dead, it will be the first in 36 years without a Commission of Inquiry formed in its wake.

    Of course, the war's blunder was just as serious as its predecessors, but because we did more killing than being killed, because we caused more damage than we sustained, there's nothing deemed worthy of investigation.

    It was all in vain: no progress made, no goal achieved, nothing. Deterrence wasn't reestablished, arms smuggling into Gaza was not stopped, Hamas was not weakened and abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was not freed. On these facts we all agree.

    Moreover, we paid a huge price: Hamas is stronger, the hurt Palestinian people are even more hateful toward us, and Israel is viewed as a pariah in world public opinion, with rioting on a basketball court in Ankara where an Israeli team played and the banning of spectators from Israel's Davis Cup tennis encounter with Sweden in Malmo, as the last of the rogue states

  81. Is Madoff not only protecting the relatives and the money, but maybe some folks in the government too?

    It's much worse than that, Bob. What he's protecting is the intimate connection between organized crime and various governments. Although in my opinion, the "government" is one big syndicate of organized crime in and of itself.

  82. TARP in full swing:

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