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Why don’t we ask them to think? September 25, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Politics, Wall Street.
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In the blizzard of lies, slanders, pledges and pure manure that this year is standing in as political discourse, anyone left still searching for a baseline of hard, unadulterated data from which to form an opinion on critical economic decisions before us is in a tough spot.

The zealots have the field and from their extreme vantages on the Red or Blue fringe they hurl their slogans, their spin-studies and prove their ridiculous contentions with a shard of a subset of numbers yanked free of the critical context that allows them to give some insight into what all is going on out there in a very complex and fluid economy.

I think my favorite actor remains Rep. John Boehner, the House minority leader and Speaker-in-Waiting, who continues to whine about the great uncertainty in the business community that is playing a huge role in holding the economy back. Business leaders won’t commit to hiring, reinvestment or new product launches because they can’t see over the horizon – at least, they can’t build into profit-loss models hard numbers for things like personal income tax rates, capital gains rates, health insurance costs or outlays for such things as pollution control gear, new product labeling or safety testing. They can’t do anything to grow their businesses because – alas poor Yorick – of the policies of President Obama and the Democrats.

Which, of course, is sophistry.

(more…)

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Rant, rave, rebel…but don’t lie to me lady September 3, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Politics.
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If you read this story right to the end, you get to the crux of what is increasingly clear about a great many candidates out there today espousing a desire to “fix” things: They are obviously not up to the task, although they can be pretty good at anger, pretty good at ripping into good people and decent things they disagree with.

And many of them also are extremely skilled at the bald-faced lie, when it suits their purpose, particularly when it feeds on fear, and inflames.

Gov. Brewer knew damned well what she was saying when she said it, then when she repeated it — with some added ooomph.

She lied. And the very last thing we need in leaders today is a willingness to just flat out mislead us to manipulate our emotions, as raw as they are regardless of party loyalty.

And the enablers are just as bad, Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, who responded to clear evidence of Gov. Brewer’s lie with this:

“It is a national security concern, yet we’re worried about this game-playing, this word-smithing.”

We’ve got lots of problems — and lots of smart, dedicated and committed people with varying ideas about how to tackle knarly concerns that include southern border integrity and security.

But first and foremost we need to: Just Say ‘No’ to Liars.

I’ve hit some bad shots before … September 1, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings.
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… but I’d say this all was going a bit too far to avoid owning up to a Snowman on 12. The nut:

A California wildfire was sparked when a golfer trying to hit a ball out of the rough struck his club against a rock, fire officials have said. The fire burned 12 acres on a densely wooded hill by the Shady Canyon golf course in Irvine, California. Officials said the golfer, whose name was withheld, will not face charges over the fire on Saturday.

I’m sure this was his story — and he’s sticking to it.

But I suspect a dangling Marlboro.

Maybe there’s a reason it’s called FOX News September 1, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Greed, Justice, Politics.
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I see that former Wachovia Corp. Chief Executive Officer Robert Steel is telling the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission today that he was told by FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair in late Setptember, 2008 to find a dance partner with something left in its pockets, because the mortgage crap it was holding threatened the U.S. banking system.

This Bloomberg News story tells the early tale. Make particular note of this:

Steel, the former U.S. Treasury Department and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive, was brought in to lead Charlotte, North Carolina-based Wachovia in 2008 as the lender struggled to recover from the aftermath of its $24 billion purchase of Golden West Financial Corp. The deal saddled Wachovia with about $120 billion of adjustable-rate mortgages that allowed borrowers to skip some interest payments and add them to the loan balance. The concept assumed home prices would go up. Instead, the idea backfired when prices fell, leaving borrowers with mortgages that exceeded the value of their homes and Wachovia with mounting losses.

That’s $120 billion in garbage interest-only and other high-risk mortgages created by the bankers in California to pump new money into the superheated real estate market driven by flippers and other speculators. BIG NOTE: This was not done by government; it was done by the private sector, at the end stage aided and abetted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also at the time privately held and run by financial industry veterans.

So please don’t swallow the myth being spun — and heavily marketed by Wall Street — that the bubble slime on all of US was OUR fault because of actions by OUR government. It’s just not true.

Sure, many of US were sucked into the interest-only crap, or steered into liar loans.  And many of US benefited from the housing boom, which put a lot of people to work for a very long time making houses, selling houses and producing all the materials that went into what was a major part of the U.S. economy for two decades.

That’s almost all gone now folks — and no amount of “tax cuts” and “getting government off our backs” is going to bring it back. Something else must be built to take its place, and that’s a whole lot harder and will take a long time. Everyone running for Congress needs to explain in detail how they plan to make that rebuilding happen.

We all should watch what is said before this commission and make sure this story is told fully, extensively — and accurately.

Because what all fell down in September 2008 — and the people who made that happen and reasons for it — is why we still are struggling today — and will for the next five years — to rebuild our economy.

And it wasn’t our fault;  it wasn’t our government’s fault. It was the fault of recklessness, greed and fraud by private industry leadership. And many of those foxes want to be put back in charge of the hen house.