It's about time the women who have not been sexually harassed by Herman Cain finally speak up.
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It's about time the women who have not been sexually harassed by Herman Cain finally speak up.
It's Newt's night, huh? No place to go but up? They've all been front runner - it's his turn. Thrice married and ethically challenged? Keeper!
Open thread now...
Now before some people start jumping up and down and yelling, "Straw man, straw man! Nobody believes it's okay to do that," let me present you with this delightful post written by ex-Goldman employee Matt Levine. Here is the actual title of the piece:
So Maybe Citi Created A Mortgage-Backed Security Filled With Loans They Knew Were Going To Fail So That They Could Sell It To A Client Who Wasn’t Aware That They Sabotaged It By Intentionally Picking The Misleadingly Rated Loans Most Likely To Be Defaulted Upon, So What?
Yeah, so what? It was just fraud! What kind of loser is opposed to fraud?
Levine's post is largely an attempt to counter arguments that it's wrong to screw people over in the name of making money. Most of his points rely on the tried and true "sophisticated investor" defense, which is basically akin to that scene in "Animal House" where the guys from Delta House have just destroyed Flounder's car and Otter tries to console him by saying, "Hey, you f***ed up! You trusted us!" In other words, it's your fault that you got the shaft since you should have known we were going to shaft you. Take a look:
There are five points to which your free-floating rage could maybe attach:
1. You were shorting a thing that you were selling to your customers! This is what drove Congress bonkers. But that’s what selling is. If you have 20 apples and sell me 15, you now have fewer apples, and I have more. If apple prices decline, I am worse off, and you are relatively protected. Banks, which are always long some risks and short some others, don’t see zero as a particularly interesting point on this continuum – if you have 20 apples and sell me 30, and apple prices decline, you make money, but that’s different only in degree, not in kind, from selling me 15 and reducing your risk to 5.
The apple analogy is sorta funky since most normal human beings buy apples to, uh, eat them instead of using them as long-term investment strategies. But let's roll with it! Let's say Matt sells me a crate of apples that he thinks is overvalued and that I think I can sell at a profit. I understand that there are certain risks in such transactions: The apples might have worms in them. There might be a surplus crop of apples that will diminish my selling power. Or people might just decide apples suck and not want to buy them. These are all risks I'm willing to assume when I buy apples from Matt.
But what I'm not willing to assume when I buy apples from Matt is that he might have personally embedded hand grenades in 80% of them that will blow up my truck when I try to drive them off the lot. Because that's pretty much what Citi's bad apples did to the people on the other side of the trade:
After the deal closed on Feb. 28, 2007, more than 80 percent of the portfolio was downgraded by credit ratings agencies in less than nine months. The security declared “an event of default” on Nov. 19, 2007, and investors soon lost hundreds of millions of dollars, the S.E.C. said, while Citigroup gained.
Among the losers was Ambac of New York, which insured financial instruments and was the largest investor in the deal, according to the S.E.C. Ambac’s role in the transaction was to assume the credit risk associated with a $500 million portion of the portfolio. When the value of the portfolio fell, Ambac had to make payments to those who had bet against the bonds, as Citigroup had.
In part because of losses tied to the financial crisis, Ambac filed for bankruptcy last year.
Neener, neener, neener, Ambac! How do you like them $500 million apples, losers?
A number of journalists are going to have a hard time following Rick Perry's answers, since he's blocked them.
The questions, sent to @140townhall will appear at the debate's website with the candidates appearing on Wednesday July 20 at 3 pm Eastern.
We already noticed that Exxon/Mobil officials were downplaying the severity of that oil spill in the Yellowstone River. Now it turns out -- to absolutely no one's surprise -- that they were lying through their teeth:
Federal documents show it took Exxon Mobil nearly twice as long as it publicly disclosed to fully seal a pipeline that spilled roughly 1,000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River.
Details about the company's response to the Montana pipeline burst emerged late Tuesday as the Department of Transportation ordered the company bury the duct deeper beneath the riverbed, where it is buried 5 to 8 feet underground to deliver 40,000 barrels of oil a day to a refinery in Billings.
The federal agency's records indicate the pipeline was not fully shut down for 56 minutes after the break occurred Friday near Laurel. That's longer than the 30 minutes that company officials claimed Tuesday in a briefing with federal officials and Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
An Exxon Mobil spokesman said the longer time span was based on information provided to the agency by the company and the discrepancy might have come about because Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. President Gary Pruessing was speaking without any notes in front of him when he addressed Schweitzer.
There's also been a startling lack of information for the people who are directly affected by the spill.
Gee, who could have foreseen this? Drill, baby, drill!
Michele Bachmann plus John Quincy Adams equals Best. Blingee. Ever.
Back in the time of the founding fathers of July, 1776, John Quincy was about to turn 9. That's okay, we understand that at age 9, Michele Bachmann was working tirelessly to defund Obamacare.
Open Thread below....
Because reality right now is telling us that austerity is not only painful but wholly counterproductive. Here's an excellent report from the Wall Street Journal on the wide social unrest that austerity has caused in Greece:
Greece shook global markets, intensifying fears of a default, as tens of thousands of demonstrators protested a new round of budget-cutting plans and its prime minister offered to step down to try to preserve them.
Protests across the capital sometimes turned violent as Prime Minister George Papandreou sought an agreement with opposition parties on austerity measures demanded as the price of a new bailout by euro-zone nations and the International Monetary Fund.
The report also notes that austerity has actually exacerbated the sovereign debt crisis and hasn't made bond holders any more willing to buy Greek bonds at lower interest rates:
Yields on Greek government bonds leapt to new highs, with two-year paper yielding 29%. Bond yields on other troubled euro-zone economies like Portugal and Ireland also moved higher, and stock markets in the U.S. and Europe sank as fears of contagion picked up. The euro plunged 1.9% against the dollar.
Needless to say, it's not only the wacky anarchist college kids who are pissed off about all this. Mama and Papa Greece are none too pleased either:
John Petru, 41 years old, said he had come to block parliamentarians from arriving to debate the budget cuts. "We do not trust them," he said of the politicians. The recession has eaten badly into his cleaning-service business. "Business is down, and prices are up, and we are not sure about anything," he said.
Greeks have already suffered multiple rounds of budget cuts since last year, but they have failed to build confidence in the economy. The budget deficit has turned out to be wider than projected then, with the government failing to cut spending or raise revenues as much as promised. But the biggest gap in its finances has opened up because private investors have refused to buy new Greek government bonds at interest rates the government can afford.
Many protesters said they had gone along with previous budget cuts and wage reductions on the belief that those sacrifices would be enough to right Greece's fortunes. "They have asked us to reduce our wages, to live another standard of life," said Angeliki Kachrimani, a 42-year-old worker for Greece's postal service. She accepted a 15% wage cut; her husband, a history teacher, is unemployed.
And look, this is all pretty simple to understand: Greece is in this mess right now both because its government lied for years about its budget deficits (with an assist from everyone's favorite investment bank Goldman Sachs) and because its monetary policy options are limited by the European Central Bank. In other words, investors know Greece can't print its own money and thus will never be able to pay them back. The problem is exacerbated by the austerity measures that result in cuts to government jobs, cuts to wages and a drop in overall demand. These things aren't exactly making investors feel good about Greece's future economic prospects either.
"Why should I give a damn about this?" you ask. Well, it's pretty obvious that America's own austerity backers, led by Paul Ryan, have similar plans for us as well. And it would behoove us to point to the examples of Greece and Ireland and the U.K. and shout at the top of our lungs, "AUSTERITY DOESN'T WORK, YOU TOOLS!!!!!" Because frankly, I'm not looking forward to widespread social unrest. God forbid the streets of America come to resemble third-world hellhole streets like those of Vancouver.
The Locust Fork News-Journal: Thousands of people along the Gulf Coast suffer 'BP Crud'
Cogitamus: It's a new day in a new year, so I thought it was time to revisit this essay by Kurt Vonnegut
Consortiumblog: The U.S. Media Hit on Helen Thomas
The Roger Ailes we like: Grand Old Police Blotter: CPAC of Thieves Edition
Scrutiny Hooligans: Social Security and the Fairness Con
Working Life: Stop whining for jobs - move back with your parents
It's top ten time again. Every year we get the listmania between Christmas and New Years. Some are stupid, but others are pretty interesting. Here are some worth reading.
I will note for the record that there are not 10 items on my list because for the most part, I haven't found 10 lists worth reading (or making).
As an extra bonus, here's Media Matters' Top Fox & Friends Misinformation Moments of 2010, which is far longer than 10 items and will either make you cringe or cry.
Any I missed?
Big Think: Essential Holiday Reading on National Security
Democratic Strategist: The Future is Blue, Part ll
Its my Right to be Left of the Center: Time to start rolling out some year-end retrospectives
Jesus' General: Department of Book Reports: A Christmas Carol
The Mahablog: The GOP: Keeping workers in their place
Politics in the Zeros: Drop that Starbucks cup and reach for the sky