I just finished reading through the Sunday NY Times - late in the evening, after a full day working, doing exactly what the article I just finished said we as Americans DON'T do anymore.
Sadly I have to agree with the basics in the article. The Home Depot mentioned is just down the road from me - I'm there regularly, having spent more than I really want to think about renovating a 1920's Colonial. I prefer the local lumberyard but their yard closes at 4 and HD is open until 10.
The skills mentioned in this article - basic home repair - didn't used to be so rare in neighborhood I'm in. The older attorneys hereabouts likely stripped the paint from woodwork when they moved in 40 or 50 years back. One of my neighbors down the street can be found doing work on his children's houses and one lawyer working for the Manhattan DA's office is known for his gutter cleaning skills.
But these are older residents - not at all typical of the 'younger' residents - and I say that even of my own contemporaries in their 50's.
Owning a toolbox - once a defining characteristic of being an American - has become rarer and rarer. continued........
Bloomberg and others are reporting that Corzine ordered customer funds transferred
This is being widely mentioned on financial blogs and even the local 11pm news here in NYC but here....crickets.
I was astounded at the lack of questioning (and excuses) here when the MF Global story first broke. For all the promises of change we have seen very little when it comes to the financial sector - in fact wer have seen LESS prosecutions of financial crimes under Obama than under his predecessors (including W).
I am hard pressed to explain the lack of effort in investigating an prosecuting financial crimes (and the paltry settlements reached in the cases brought).
Like it or not the perception (and from my pov, the reality) is that it matters little who is the President - or which party is in power. Both serve the same masters - and it is not 'the people' but the plutocracy.
A great graphic from Zerohedge.
A load of information on 'money' - enough info to keep you busy for a while.
Not much of a diary here but the chart is worth more notice.
The MF Global meltdown is on a par with Lehman Brothers with the effects just beginning to be seen - another example of all that is wrong (and unchanged) in our financial system - but no meaningful mention here?
1) The 8th largest bankruptcy in the US - ever.
2) Clear 'contagion' from the EU sovereign debt crisis affecting the US being responsible with huge bets on European bonds gone bad - perhaps some of the dumbest 'bets' on could make
3) 'More of the same' - with 40 to 1 leveraging, overly aggressive trading and more with MFG refusing to cooperate with regulators
4) Clearly ILLEGAL commingling of customer fund with firm funds
Why so little coverage here. This is EXACTLY the type of CRIME #OWS has been so vocal about, EXACTY what is wrong with our financial system
The link below is to an article worth reading - written by a former member of the first Bush Adminstration (don't hold that against her)
Narco-Dollars for Dummies
"How the Money Works" in the Illicit Drug Trade
No snips - go to the link and read the article itself - a multi-part summary of how drug money influences far more than we realize.
Drug money is often the gorilla in the room that NOBODY dares talk abut - though occasionally you will see some mention of its influence.
"Vince Sampson, president, Education Finance Council, said during a panel at the IMN ABS East Conference in Miami Monday that lenders are no longer pushing loans to people who can’t afford them."
Got that? Lenders WERE 'pushing loans to people who can't afford them'
Isn't this the problem behind the mortgage crisis? Lenders making loans the borrowers couldn't afford?
But wait - you can't EVER get out of a student loan -not even through bankruptcy. But what if you can't get a job that pays enough to pay off those loans? What if you can't get ANY job (sadly not too uncommon now)?
The amount of student loans taken out last year crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time and total loans outstanding will exceed $1 trillion for the first time this year. Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards, reports the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Students are borrowing twice what they did a decade ago after adjusting for inflation, the College Board reports. Total outstanding debt has doubled in the past five years — a sharp contrast to consumers reducing what's owed on home loans and credit cards.
The item below was received in an e-mail from a friend in the financial industry - showing that there is still a sense of humor in some of those complicit in the destruction our - the world's - financial system.
Sadly it would not be surprising if this was based on something serious - or inspires someone to actually wonder if the proposal cited is actually possible.
Stumbled across this on a financial blog:
Breaking Points: Recognizing The Signs Of Painful Cultural Shift
by Brandon Smith
I don't agree completely with some of his points and examples but the overall essay is food for thought. Excerpts are included but I recommend you read the ful essay at the link provided.
Through the ages, nations and cultures of spectacular proportion and prominence have risen to prosperity, and fallen to chaos, on very particular and fundamental principles. In some cases, these great and terrible declines have taken centuries to culminate (as was the story of the Roman Empire), and only a few years in others (the Soviet Union comes to mind). In every example of societal destabilization, however, there were many signs of danger long before the final plunge; some unique to each particular culture, and some common to all. One of the most enduring and frightening similarities between crumbling nations is an overwhelming belief amongst the people that they have somehow “advanced” beyond the need for concern. Each self-destructing society presumed itself invincible. Each country thought itself the pinnacle of human potential, only to discover yet again that in abandoning or subverting the principles of freedom, and the bedrock pillars of conscience, reason, and wisdom, they had become merely another footnote in a long marathon of footnotes.
Ultimately, the vast and sordid history of collapse could be summarized simply as a series of breaking points; moments at which opposing ideals and forces hyperextend the prevailing mechanics of a system, changing it entirely.
This is an outtake and expansion of a comment made elsewhere - deserving of attention on its own.
A few handy statistics for the debate on 'top tax rates' and income inequality and a redux of an old but very informative analogy that is more than worth the read.
Top 20% = $100,000 per year
Top 10% = $150,000 per year (actually $160k)
Top 5% = $200,000 per year
Top 2% = $375,000 per year
Top 1% = $500,000 per year
Top .5% = $800,000 per year
Top .1% = $2 million per year
Top .01% = $10 million per year
I was stuck by the diversity of causes and messages I've seen over the past week - in person and in photos and videos. There have been some compelling messages - and many far too many that are seemingly unrelated to the cause at hand or outright incoherent.
The "99%" label used by the Occupy Wall Street movement is something that resonates - It is a good summary in some ways:
The majority getting poorer as the minority gets richer.
may be one way of looking at it but "What do the Protestors Want?" is a question I've heard from others. I haven't seen a short coherent answer to that question, but I think I've found it.
Follow me after the fold
I am finding that some financial blogs have a far more informative and enlightening perspective of late than political blogs. Here there is often a mem that Obama and the Democrats can do no wrong and although some financial blogs are more pro-Republican than pro-Democratic, many are neutral politically - with some being simply anti-the current political/financial system.
I was reading one of these financial blogs today and was struck by a statement buried in commentary about other issues:
Wealth is not created by consumption - it is created by PRODUCTION.
This fits in with what I consider to be another truism:
A nation's wealth is built by ADDING VALUE. At its most basic third world level this is done by mining ore from the ground, cutting down trees - the 'exploitation' of existing natural resources. At the next level of development a nation processes the ore it mines into metal, turns tree trunks into lumber and grows crops. A step up from that metals are turned into products- simple castings or complex machinery, lumber is turned into furniture and other goods and commodity crops are turned into products.
At each stage the VALUE of the end product is greater than the value of the raw ingredients - the labor of the 'processors' is added and the end result is worth more than the sum total of the inputs used to create it.
For some time, the US economy has been based on CONSUMPTION. Bush summed it up after 9/11 when he urged Americans to go and shop. Even now, our policies are geared to financing CONSUMPTION not production.
Another quote after the fold sums things up well-
History is full of examples of people inspired by great ideas who believe they are 'doing the right thing' - where the end result turns out to be anything but what was intended.
Indeed some of these efforts have turned out to be quite the opposite of what was intended - on a pragmatic, ethical and moral level.
Let's look back in history to the Fourth Crusade; by 1200, the Third Crusade had come to a close with 'limited' success. Jerusalem had been lost to the Arabs - with only a few cities along the coast remaining in Crusader hands.
Pope Innocent III came into the papacy in 1198 and made reconquest of the Holy Land his primary focus. But after years of conflict and limited success, interest in Crusades was waning. Europe has spent a huge amount on these efforts, with decreasing success rates. Nevertheless an army was raised and an agreement negotiated with Venice who agreed to transport 33,000 troops.