Monday, June 29, 2009

Shelia Bair - A Profile


This was a worthwhile read. She seems like one of the few appointments that Bush got right:

Although she has no formal training as an economist, she has worked on and off as a financial regulator in Washington for nearly two decades. In 2006, George W. Bush appointed her to run the F.D.I.C., the agency that, established during the Depression, insures bank deposits. The position has a five-year term and is usually held by an anonymous bureaucrat, but Bair has forced her way to the center of the debate over the financial crisis.

Lenny Dykstra Isn't Smart


Everyone associated with the Lenny Dykstra interview on HBO Sports from Spring 2008 should be ashamed of themselves. In case you don't know, up until recently, Lenny Dykstra (yes the former baseball player) has been building a name for himself in the business world. Unfortunately, the recession seems to have hit him pretty hard.

Watch this video first, the interview from 2008:

Then watch the one from this year. (Deadspin doesn't let you embed their videos)

A recap of my favorite part:
Goldberg: "What do you say to all those people who say once you were flying high, now you are flat broke?"
Dykstra: "I don't know, man." (pulls out $75 cash from his pocket)
Goldberg: "Ok, so you have $75 in your pocket, that doesn't make you rich."

And really, Cramer just can't win (see the first clip), what an idiot.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

House Cleaning


I cleaned up the blog over the weekend, including the following:

  • Fixed the line spacing issue
  • Increased the font size of the post text
  • Fixed the comment posting (it had disappeared)
  • Added ShareThis to each blog post (this is very cool, try it out)
I have quite a few bigger posts coming this week. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Daily Noise Reduction (6/26)


Today's Must Read:
Krugman on Obama and Health Care Reform

The Most Expensive World Real Estate Markets

The Cost of the Upcoming Cap and Trade Bill

Are Mortgage Rates Below 5% Gone for Good?

Why Does Eddie Murphy Still Get to Make Movies?

The GOP is in Trouble


This graph really demonstrates the trouble the GOP is in:

Hat tip: Yglesias



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Daily Noise Reduction (6/23)


Wow, not much out there worth posting today.

Must Read:
A Look at Landmark Train Stations and Their Replacements

Barry Ritholtz Has Really Soured on Obama



I don't know, its hard for me to feel bad for this lady:

Uhazi is drowning in a sea of debt. And, like millions of other Americans, it is a debt load that she built up slowly over more than two decades of easy credit that made it all too simple to spend. Now she worries she won’t be able to pay it off because of the recession, which has led to a reduction in her salary and an increase in her credit card bills.

Doesn't sound too bad, until you see that the "sea of debt" is actually $60,000. How do you rack up debt like that and not notice?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Explaining Failure to 9th Graders


I enjoyed this 2009 commencement address to 9th graders by Paul Tudor Jones. Read the whole thing here:

I’m here with you young men today because your parents wanted me to speak to you about service—that is, serving others and giving back to the broader community for the blessings that you have received in your life. But that is a speech for a later time in your life. Don’t get me wrong, serving others is really, really important. It truly is the secret to happiness in life. I swear to God. Money won’t do it. Fame won’t do it. Nor will sex, drugs, homeruns or high achievement. But now I am getting preachy.

Hat Tip: The Cunning Realist

National Home Prices and Unemployment


Interesting data from Calculated Risk:

Hat Tip: Bubble Meter

Daily Noise Reduction (6/22)


Today's Must Read:
The Effect of Lobbying on Health Care Reform

Ritholtz Comments on "Too Big to Fail"

Yglesias on Obama, the Deficit Slayer

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Hidden Provision in TARP


I'm about 6 weeks behind on the Economist right now (hey, I'm a busy guy) and I was catching up over the weekend. I was shocked when I read this line in this April 30th article about job recruitment:

A provision in the Troubled Asset Relief Programme requires companies that receive government funds to hire Americans before foreigners.

Why do we do this to ourselves? This idea that there will be a limited amount of highly skilled jobs going forward just isn't based in reality. We need to attract top tier talent to the US and turning away people who want to be here just isn't smart policy.

Isn't it great how provisions like this just "sneak" in to major legislation?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Iran Update


Following this has been fascinating. One gets the sense that we are watching (or really reading) as a historical event unfolds. As I posted previously, Andrew Sullivan has basically converted his blog to an Iranian Election blog and has been doing an amazing job following the story.

At the same time, one needs to stay in touch with reality, and the likelihood of regime change in Iran is unfortunately quite slim.

Still, something has changed fundamentally on the ground in Iran, and even if Ahmadinejad remains in power, the world's view of Iran is very different now compared with just a week ago.

A Public Health Care Option


There has been a lot of recent discussion and disagreement over a "public" health care option. Some of the Democrats, including the President, want a public health care option that would be similar to the health care plan offered to members of congress. This public plan would be just one plan that people could choose from when selecting their health insurance. As can be imagined, this idea hasn't gone over very well with Republicans. However, the other day some health care executives did a good job of unintentionally making the case for such a plan:

An investigation by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations showed that health insurers WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people, allowing the companies to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims over a five-year period.

It also found that policyholders with breast cancer, lymphoma and more than 1,000 other conditions were targeted for rescission and that employees were praised in performance reviews for terminating the policies of customers with expensive illnesses.
So just to be clear here, people enroll and pay their health insurance premiums in order to be covered when something goes wrong, but when they get sick, these insurance companies cancel their coverage. This practice must have been going on under the radar and surely couldn't be endorsed by the CEO's of these companies right?

Late in the hearing, Stupak, the committee chairman, put the executives on the spot. Stupak asked each of them whether he would at least commit his company to immediately stop rescissions except where they could show "intentional fraud."

The answer from all three executives:


Wow. A public option would force these insurance companies to treat their customers fairly.

Hat Tip: Kevin Drum

Daily Noise Reduction (6/17)


There were quite a few good articles from yesterday. The must read:
Diaries from People Who Have Quit Driving

Suggested Reading:
Mark Thoma Explains Health Care Rationing

Cramer Calls A Housing Bottom...

Ryan Avent Questions the Filibuster

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Daily Noise Reduction (6/16)


Didn't get a chance to post these yesterday.

Must read:
Krugman Explains What Is Going On With Interest Rates

Suggested Reading:
Tyler Cowen Thinks Health Care Reform is Falling Apart

Drum is Not Impressed by the New Financial Regulations

Monday, June 15, 2009

NYC Hyline Park Hater Alert


This was a pretty entertaining read. James Howard Kunstler, an author, lays into Americans and infrastructure planning in this country:

One of Kunstler’s consistent themes is that America has become a nation of juvenile-minded people who live in a fantasyland of cultural distraction and have forgotten how to do real stuff. We’re good at getting creative tattoos and minutely calculating the social implications of our hairdos — but not so good at the hard and relentless work of looking after the foundations of our society. We came into a vast amount societal capital, and like a spoiled trust fund kid sobering up after an epic binge, we’re starting to realize that we’ve burned through the inheritance and are going to have go get a job at Burger King or something.

Your Daily Noise Reduction (6/15)


There is a bug affecting text spacing that I'm trying to fix. Should have that resolved in the next day or two.

In the meantime, here is today's set of links. Today's must read:
Ritholtz on How to Fix Financial TV

Suggested Reading:
Peter Orszag from OMB Comments on Health care

US Home Prices Still Overvalued?

Sunday, June 14, 2009



In case you haven't been following the election in Iran, most reports are calling the "results" a fraud. Very little information other than the total percentage of the votes received by each candidate have been officially reported.

Andrew Sullivan has the best roundup I've seen and has been blogging the election all weekend. The latest news is of disturbing violence towards the protesting students:

I'm getting several reports of a brutal assault on the students of Tehran University. It's part of an attempt to terrify people into not rallying tomorrow.

I'm baaaack


After a much longer than expected hiatus (sorry about that), I'm back with a completely redesigned look. What do you think of it?

Regular posting will begin again today, and look for some new features to be rolled out in the near future. Hopefully some of my regular readers have stuck with me through the long posting drought.

Our Deal

The markets are crashing, thousands of people are losing their jobs and the government keeps funneling money into broken banks. This little blog will help explain why this is happening and how we fix it.

I'd like to preface this experiment with a contract between myself and my readers. My promise to you is that I will be civil, non-ideological, well researched and honest. In return, I only ask that you think.

Send questions to:

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