Oct 13, 2008

Treasury vs. Fed -- love or war?

the fed is in charge of monitoring the us economy and acting in event of crisis.

the us treasury dept prints money and regulates banks.

after bernanke's initial statements and comments, it seems that it's, surprisingly, the treasury -- and not the fed -- is the one setting policy.

bernanke versus paulson? would love to be a fly on the wall in 202ville -- the detonation of a free market by definition prompts a handful of FASCINATING characters.

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Sep 22, 2008

No, pundit, when I look in the mirror, I do not see the problem.

I see a renter who believes in a free market and understand that what goes up must come down and has been waiting for it to do so.

I see a husband and father of two young children who wish to live in a house but not one that's worth $250K but is advertised for $700K.

We have been waiting for that house to come down. What is the value of the time we have waited patiently, living below our means?

And now that home prices are at last poised to normalize (ie align w the last decade's inflation rates) -- exactly what will the bailout cost us? In tax and in community upheaval?

No, there is a large sector of American society, keenly in touch w the market because we have had to be, poised to buy when the drunks got sober. Now, at long last, the coffee has been served. And it seems to be spiked.

The last brave soldiers of capitalism merged with democracy are -- for the first time -- confused.

Sep 17, 2008

For almost 100 years AIG has profited in part by using its negotiable(less that 2%) underwriting profits to invest in large Chinese infrastructure projects, Vietnamese ports, etc. for greater profits.

Now that the Fed is endorsing AIG's business strategy, will laws need to be written to legalize AIG's risky investments in less than stellar mortgages elsewhere in the world, REITs in Singapore, Thailand, etc.? And what of its premier third world consumer product, life insurance policies cum bank accounts?

Is the Fed betting that by bailing out AIG they will stave off some of the company's riskiest loans ... long enough to liquidate its position? (Doesn't it realize that foreign consumers are smarter than that?)

I sure do hope that our Fed, as it elbows its way into place as the nerve center of our now-government controlled, makes some wise investments to balance w its risky ones. I suggest we the taxpayers buy Mars. Now.

Dec 3, 2004

China to buy IBM? -- "Don't Worry"

Looks like China may buy the very symbol of 20th Century America's superiority, IBM.

On the one hand, the U.S. Secretaries of Treasury, and Commerce, have been assuring us for several years that the U.S. will continue enjoying a superior economy in the face of global competition, since China just makes crappy toys, while Americans develop sophisticated computers. On the other hand, the U.S. Secretaries of Treasury and Commerce just quit.

Nov 23, 2004

Finally -- China to US Fed: "Mind your own businesses!"

Don't expect us to fix your free market protectionism, China sez, finally.

Wal Mart says Unions OK -- in China, not US

Where does the free market stop and human rights begin? According to China, health care, living wage, and other lefty union perks. This is after China's Communist union threatened to file suit.
No such luck for Washington's Samantha Caizza, fired by Wal-Mart for "union activities" after seeking health care for her kids and being told to "contact the state."

Oct 5, 2004

No Proud Moment -- Watching Greenspan's briefcase

Sets interest rates; controls amount of currency in market; bares teeth at creditor nations -- this one's been under my craw for years: can someone explain, why, in the context of a "Free Market," is there a Fed, again? (In one book or less.) Because making ones living by scrutinizing the girth of Greenspan's briefcase is not manly.

Sep 17, 2004

Collapsed charter schools send parents scrambling back to state

Collapse of 60 Charter Schools Leaves Californians Scrambling Parents -- Didn't realize it would be so "bloody."

Aug 27, 2004

We're fighting for Christ, not oil -- Lt. Gen. Boykin

Lt. Gen. William Boykin did indeed preach his grossly offensive gospel at 23 churches, pronouncing Satan the mastermind of the terrorists because "he wants to destroy us as a Christian army," the Pentagon just concluded.
By the way, is the position of US Ambassador to The Vatican supported by US taxpayers?

Aug 25, 2004

Why Halliburton stinks

Cheney's former company is now suspected by the Army of ripping the government off, assured it will receive cover from Cheney, now US Vice President. Could be, or maybe not. But a free market should not even be in the position to pose the question. The Cheney/Halliburton machine is evidence that the best business plan is a link to the executive office. Fine; but NOW can we qualify campaign contributions as marketing/R&D/business processes?

Aug 10, 2004

Men from boys

Do American freemarket social engineers really trust the markets to "do right?"

If so, then they'll bless the Chinese for naively thinking that they can conduct trade in Africa "With No Political Baggage," whilst remaining confident this will lead to increased African social freedoms.

But if China is strung out to dry for trading amorally, as this article implies, then the Great American Economy" is revealed not as a Capitalist Tool but as one of Moral Imperialism.

I trust the markets, unfettered.

Jul 28, 2004

2005 internet phone war kickoff

Washington got busy. It's Time to Pray ... (Exerpt from July 28 NYT):

"...Supporters of the service generally agree that shielding Internet calls from traditional telephone regulations would allow the technology to flourish, leading to reduced costs for new providers and lower prices for consumers.

But disagreements abound over whether rules on 911 emergency service and payments to the universal service fund should apply to Internet phones. Meanwhile, issues that have dominated the phone industry battles over the last decade - like interconnection fees paid to local phone companies - have spilled into the debate.

Both Congress and the Federal Communications Commission have begun to draft changes to the old telecommunications rules, but the efforts are largely a dress rehearsal for next year."

Ted Turner: Washington closed the media market

Ted Turner's current article in Washington Monthly "My Beef With Big Media"

Jul 24, 2004

Liberals For Free Trade

As an American covering the conversion from Command Economy toward Free Trade in Vietnam in the late 90s, I saw a lot of pain and heard a lot of great arguments from smart American officials: hell, sold me. That's why these last few years here, back in the US, have really gotten me down. The NYT in its July 21 editorial, "Shrimp and Mischief," managed to cobble the two together.

"... In Vietnam, this shrimp protectionism is seen as only the latest example of American hypocrisy. Washington implored Hanoi to open up its economy and sign a trade deal that would help bring its farmers into the world of global commerce. But given what's happened since then, Vietnam now assumes that America doesn't really want it to succeed. Last year, Washington slapped unwarranted tariffs on another Vietnamese export, catfish ..."

Jul 22, 2004

Job numbers up -- But will engineers-turned-waiters save the day?

My years covering Vietnam's economy today made me sick of equating jobs and manufacturing output with a successful economy. When these two indicators started being used in recent months as evidence of America's upturn, that queezy feeling returned. At least the Times is pointing out Morgan Stanley's economist's observation, that a million new Starbucks baristas do not a revived economy make. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/07/22/opinion/22roac.html?pagewanted=print&position=

Even with that possible rise in minimum wage, from $5.15 per hour to $7.15. Although, at 40 hours a week per month, a worker could in fact earn enough for a month of health care coverage, and still have enough for a cup of coffee every day (or a Snapple).

Jun 23, 2004

China blasts US for lack of free market

Well, it's finally happened...MSNBC - China accuses U.S. of protectionism

Jun 20, 2004

The New Jobs of Spring

Bush would be clever to push to legalize the 8 million Mexican workers who creep into the US borders in order to handle the growing of American crops. That's 8 million instant jobs to his credit.

May 26, 2004

WSJ Opinion, "The Chalabi Fiasco" At least it sounds like a logical alternative to the obvious, though unreported, reason for Chalabi's sudden turn of reputation. My first instinct, though a bit clever, was that we are observing a ruse between Chalabi and the Pentagon to gain credibility with Iraqis immediately, to transform from a US stooge to an Iraqi leader in the next 35 days...

Dec 17, 2003

So James Baker III was sent to get France, Germany and Russia to drop their claims on billions in Iraqi debt owed to them.

The logic is that the money was owed by a dictator who is no longer in power.

Annoyingly unreported is the fact that it was those same Iraqi billions that were already claimed and spent by US forces in the first months of the war. Only after those bucks were gone did the White House go to Congress for more money.

Then there're the startling accusations of US government looting of Iraqi money, such as this one made by a Christian aid NGO.

Dec 10, 2003

Er, don't blink now....This NYT story states that a spate of hirings at McDonald's and other restaurants across the country indicates that "the job market will soon bounce back."

Not to be rude, but given that our "stuff" is made in China and that many of America's top dogs (CEOs of mutual funds, hedge funds, banks, consultancies, accountancies, cities, etc.) are presently on the QT, where is the fertile ground from which this new job market will sprout, like mushrooms after a rainstorm? Consider this: the current McJob spurt to IS the bounceback. Whoops, mah bad.

Dec 8, 2003

Offshore bank accounts are one thing. Looks like it's outsourcing customer service overseas is where Dell's US corporate customers draw the line. "With the flick of a switch" -- America's finest corporate IT departments and their regional call-centers reconnect.

Dec 1, 2003

Chinese angry over US TV Tariffs;
Ugggh...U.S. receives free- trade lecture by Malaysian experts

Nov 18, 2003

White House Moves to Impose Quotas on Chinese TextilesI'll give Bush the props when he can force the Chinese to splurge for $700 Gap Ts.

Nov 16, 2003

They Support Free Trade, Except in the Case of . . .

Jul 25, 2003

Times finally chimes in. What does it mean?
The United States government has just added a final flourish of hypocrisy to its efforts to crush the Vietnamese catfish industry under a mountain of protectionism. The Vietnamese, after doing well enough to capture a fair share of the American market, have been declared trade violators deserving permanent, prohibitive tariffs by the United States International Trade Commission.The `Free Trade' Fix Is In

Jul 5, 2003

Happy belated fourth of July. Like a Soviet Russian peasant's dream, hopefully. Open Government Information Awareness

Jun 30, 2003

Does a two-party system limit democracy in America? This article contemplates the realistic prospect of a one-party system: The GOP.Toward One-Party Rule

Mar 27, 2003

Sears Reinvents Itself, but What Exactly Is It?Why, it's a Chinese products delivery network, just as is its competitors! What business isn't, except Exxon, Enron and your dentist?!

Mar 26, 2003

W.T.O. Rules Against U.S. on Steel TariffWhat -- another distraction??!

Mar 14, 2003

House Acts to Limit Malpractice AwardsThat's great! Now insurance companies will drop their premiums and we won't get ripped off when we go to the doctor's! Yes, health care for all!

Feb 20, 2003

As Gasoline Prices Rise, Drivers Have Doubts About Why/NYT Article about how they have no doubts whatsoever.

Feb 18, 2003

BoxGate -- Bush's flunkies covered the "Made In China" boxes during Bush's "Buy American" speech -- patriots or felons?

Feb 17, 2003

Blair's key argument against Iraq plagarized from student's paper -- MI5, MI6 mortified.

NYT: Are U.S. contractors skirting foreign no-bribe rules by buying schools for foreign despots?
{Excerpt} "A DECADE ago, when the ruling sheiks in the United Arab Emirates decided to expand the local economy after the gulf war, they turned to American military contractors like Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin for a helping hand.

In return for buying military gear, the emirates pressed the contractors to spend millions of dollars to create jobs and to improve the lives of citizens in their desert outposts: financing a medical diagnostic center linked by satellite to the Mayo Clinic, building a shipyard that has created thousands of jobs, helping with oil-spill cleanups, starting a laser-printer recycling business and even bringing Berlitz schools to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

In another era, these gifts might be considered bribes. Now they are called offsets. Bribes were outlawed under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, which barred payments to foreign officials in exchange for business. But offsets, while little known, are a legal and, companies say, necessary part of the international arms trade not only in the emirates but around the globe.

"Offsets are the equivalent of what we used to do when we bribed foreign officials," said Robert E. Scott, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research group in Washington. "It's a tragedy, and it's a race to the bottom. The best way to avoid these kinds of competitive and disruptive games is to outlaw the practice."...

FM -- Normal bribes lead to bigger houses for ministers and swiss bank accounts. Here we're talking about gun-makers building hospitals for citizens of despotic countries. It certainly makes capitalism an easier sell, and isn't that the point

Jan 28, 2003

American fishing companies charge more for catfish than their overseas competitors, and that smarts. Their solution? Bug their U.S. trade rep to slap sky-high taxes on the competition. Ciao, Cheaper Vietnamese Catfish. Hey, it works for the Vietnamese, right? Right?