40 Thoughts to “Open Thread 4/26/10”

  1. Wolverine

    Robinson’s column looks like the proverbial bouncing ping ping ball. The new Arizona law shows that many in that state are full of hate and prejudice against Mexicans. But, wait, Washington has utterly failed in its responsibility to protect the people of Arizona, so it is understandable that Arizona took action to protect itself. But, wait again, by taking the action they did, many of the people of Arizona are showing themselves to be full of hate and prejudice against Mexicans. But, wait again, Washington has to get off its collective ass and do something about that notorious sieve called a “border.” But, wait, if Arizona tries to do something itself, it is demonstrating racial hatred and prejudice.

    How about Robinson getting off his simplistic penchant for playing the race card and admitting the truth: Arizona has become so fed up with the failures of the Federal government to provide border security and a workable immigration system that the state has been reduced to trying anything they can on their own to force those Federal clowns in Washington to fulfill their constitutional obligations to defend this nation’s borders and her people. People of European and Mexican origin have lived side by side since the days when Arizona was a territory. But now we are told that those of European orgin are now just oh so chock full of hate for anyone with a brown skin. You must be kidding.

  2. Great to see Jason Grant get the job of the county’s communications director. He is a person of integrity, and a genuinely nice person.

  3. Oh and I recommend reading “Debunking Boston Tea Party Myths.” Read it once for the story, then again as if it were happening now. See any connections? http://www.historynet.com/debunking-boston-tea-party-myths.htm

  4. Today in 1968: Students seize the administration building at Ohio State University.

  5. It looks like Fox News will become even more ubitquitous. It now features an app for the iphone. arrrrggghhhhhhhhh Steaming headlines and photos.

    Just shoot me.\!

    Who saw Corey on Channel 5 news tonight?

    And some ridiculous number of people think that Wall Street doesn’t need regulation. I simply don’t believe it.

    I hope Chris Dodd fights this one for all he is worth. What is it going to take, financial ruin?

  6. marinm

    MH, are you watching over my shoulder? I just downloaded the FoxNews app (along with some sort of bear zombie shooter game and a Chipotle’s app).

    Saw Corey on Channel 5. Interesting debate. The story started off with the AZ statehouse being defaced by refried beans being used to ‘paint’ nazi symbols? ..I don’t get it.

  7. Of course Wall Street needs regulation. However, Chris Dodd and co. are the people that helped Wall Street out these past few years. Dodd -Wall St. = Fox -Hen House.

    The new bill sets aside 50 billion for bail outs for large banks. It also puts regulations into place that allow the government to take over, fire and sell off the assets of any bank that THEY deem to be in danger. And people wonder why banks aren’t lending money or selling the foreclosures at their actual value and taking the loss.

    Fannie and Freddie are the entities that allowed Wall Street to sell derivatives without danger. Dodd is greatly responsible for the collapse, along with Franks.

    Re-instate Glass-Steagall II. Separate the investment and the savings again. Get Goldman Sachs out of the reins of government. Want to regulate Wall Street? Get rid of the Fed. Make the banks compete. Make the banks accountable and allow them to fail. Goldman Sachs is running the Treasury Dept and the Fed. Its not just Obama. Bush had them too, just not to this extent. Obama received almost $1 Million from them.

    GS is also set to profit handsomely from any Cap and Trade scheme. Fire them all.

  8. Most damning graphs in modern America


    Graphic illustration of the current debt crisis, unemployment crisis, political hypocrisy, and more in the comments.

  9. @marinm

    I didn’t get it either, marin. 🙄

    Maybe you were stalking my mind? ho ho ho

  10. I totally disagree about Dodd. And I believe that is a baseless assertion. What is it that you think Dodd did? What did you want him to do that he did not do?

    Are you sure your opinion isn’t motivated by the fact that Dodd is a Democrat?

    Finance reform is very much needed, in my opinon.

  11. Pat.Herve

    just like healthcare, SS, Medicare, etc – lets do nothing and see what happens.

    the Republicans can grand stand all they want, if they keep pushing a filibuster on Financial reform (when it includes their proposal for the industry funded $50B fund), how can they say they what bipartisanship? Wait until Immigration reform – I bet if the Dems floated the McCain bill, the R’s would pounce on it.

    Glass-Segal is regulation, and was repealed by a Republican led congress – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass%E2%80%93Steagall_Act

  12. Pat.Herve

    and just imagine where your SS would be if it were privatized – what was that all about – giving more money to Wall Street for them to help you invest.

  13. Formerly Anonymous


    There are a whole range of possible reforms to Social Security that range from maintaining the status quo to eliminating it completely. I don’t know of any policy maker who has advocated completely privatizing Social Security (although many people THINK that’s what George W. Bush wanted to do in 2005, he was only pushing for a partial privatization of about 15% of future SS contributions for people who opted-in.)

    My beef with the Congressional Democrats at the time (2005) was that they completely shut down the debate. (They were the “party of no” that they are now complaining about the GOP being.) While government gridlock is not necessarily a bad think at times, there needs to be a serious conversation about Social Security. This business about it being “the third rail” has to stop. Social Security needs major reform and the longer it is put off the more severe the reforms will have to be.

    I feel like that is something that a lot of defenders of entitlement programs don’t understand. I want to reform Social Security because if it isn’t reformed it will gutted by necessity when our economic chickens come home to roost. Just as environmentalists complaint that our environmental policies are unsustainable, our current fiscal policy is even less unsustainable. Here’s yet another example:

    The CBO is projecting that interest payments of our debt will rise from $200 billion in 2010 to $900 billion in 2020. To put that in prospective, the entire Federal government ran on less than $900 into the 1970s, even after adjusting for inflation. And that CBO estimate assumes no additional recessions, emergency spending or other hiccups between now and 2020. In reality, many people, myself included, expect that we will be paying $1.0-$1.2 trillion in debt service (in 2009 dollars) by 2020. That’s not sustainable, especially as Social Security and Medicare will be accumulating larger and larger deficits by then.

    Lastly, as for Glass-Segal, the repeal of Glass-Segal was a bipartisan effort. The Wikipedia article you linked to says it passed the House 343–86 and was signed by Bill Clinton. Had the Democrats wanted to stop the repeal of Glass-Segal, they could have. They had the votes to filibuster or to easily sustain a veto by Clinton, but there was plenty of Democratic as well as Republican support for repealing Glass-Segal.

  14. There should be the ability to privatize some ss funds. I didn’t disagree with Bush on that.

    I don’t like either party being obstructionist.

    Of course had we done this our ss money would be where our 401ks are. Shudder. Too early for this much what if.

  15. Formerly Anonymous

    No shuddering here. My 401(k)s are at about 140% of where they were in 2005. Heck, I’m even in the black compared to 2007, minus contributions.

    Only about 20% of people adjust and rebalance their IRAs or 401(k)s like they should. It makes a big difference, especially for the younger crowd.

    If you are in your 20s, do your future self a huge favor and figure out how to get by with 10% less of your income and put it into your 401(k). Then every six months or every year, rebalance it. You’ll be very happy in retirement no matter what happens to Social Security. (It will literally make a difference of several hundred thousand dollars if you get started in your early 20s.)

    1. Agreed. Contribute early and often. It is critically important. However, what isn’t taken in to consideration is that by the time younger people get around to contributing, we are talking 10% on top of major taxes. Something else to remember is, if you live in VA and have $100k in 401k, you really only have $76000.

      Not everyone has made it back yet from the nadirs of 2008. Those who were more in fixed didn’t fall as far.

  16. The Dodd bill is a start but does not go far enough. Its provisions will not prevent another banking crisis because it keeps the megabanks in essentially the same form they were in and with the same power they had prior to the most recent crisis. The resolution authority created in the bill is meaningless. When the next crisis comes, this authority will be no more effective than a sand castle on the beach is in holding back a tsunami.

    Our financial system is not a free market. I consider myself a free-market conservative but am not going to buy the spin foisted on us by oligopolistic financial institutions, their lobbying groups, and the politicians they have bought off. The current situation does not work in the best interests of consumers, taxpayers, or the economy. We need a massive overhaul including reinstatement of Glass-Steagall and a wave of trust-busting on Wall Street in the style of Teddy Roosevelt. Too big to fail means too big to exist.

    One of the best presentations and books on the financial system and the crisis is from Simon Johnson. Johnson is the former Chief Economist at the IMF and now a professor at MIT. Click on the link below to hear his one hour and twenty minute discussion on BookTV:


    As Johnson says in his lecture, we need another “Teddy Roosevelt Moment.”

    Another weakness of Dodd’s bill is the removal of the provision to require everyone offering financial services to the public to adhere to the fiduciary standard. According to the Investment Advisors Act of 1940, Registered Investment Advisors are required to act as fiduciaries. This standard means that they must always act in the best interests of their clients. Brokers and others involved in the sales end of financial services, which includes everyone selling investment or insurance products and calling themselves a financial or investment advisor, are subject only to the “suitability” standard. This much looser standard requires them only to show that what they sell investors is suitable. They are not required to act in their clients’ best interests if selling them something “suitable” is more profitable than acting in their best interests.

    Many brokers are good people trying to act in their clients’ best interest but current law leaves separating the wheat from the chaff to consumers. Most consumers do not have the financial expertise to make an informed decision.

    Senator Dodd’s bill as originally proposed would have required anyone offering financial advice or selling financial products to the public to adhere to the fiduciary standard. For more detail see the PBS and Reuters pieces:



    Massive lobbying by the large insurance companies and brokerages, who make fortunes selling expensive annuities, mutual funds and other investments that are often not in their clients’ best interests, succeeded in removing this important part of consumer protection from the Dodd bill.

  17. Too bad Dodd has tried to work in a bipartisan way. He has taken many provisions out trying to get Republicans to buy in.

    I am very tired of Republicans acting like nothing needs to change. It most certainly does!

  18. Moon – can’t blame that just on Republicans. The main culprits are the lobbyists with big money from the banks and brokerages. Both Parties share some blame here.

  19. Yes both parties should share the lobbyist blame for sure. However, I want those Republicans in there with the Democrats working on some significant change!

    We were so close to financial disaster fall 2008. Tetter tottering even.

  20. marinm

    I don’t see the need for financial regulation reform.

    What were saying (I guess) is that the old regulations didn’t work so we need new ones so that the system works. …ok.

    So, whos gonna enforce the ‘new’ regulations? Same guys that were enforcing the old ones? ..plan to fail in 3…2…1..

    Why didn’t we just let these companies fail? Why did we have to bail them out? Why not use existing laws to make arrests in cases where fraud really did occur?

    ..i just don’t understand how this is more complex than it needs ot be.

  21. Moon – I’m with you on that one. I want both Republicans and Democrats to work together on this. Remember that Senator Dodd took the provision on consistent fiduciary standards for everyone in the financial services industry out of his original proposal. The Republicans did not make him do that. He succumbed to pressure from big-money lobbyists from the insurance companies and brokerages. If we could deal with the massive campaign contributions and influence-buying I think both Parties would work together more often and act on behalf of our interests.

  22. Truthfully, I wasn’t there so I don’t know what happened. It was my understanding that it was Republican pressure to remove the consistent fiduciary standards. I don’t blame them. I would want to pin that on lobbyists also. And if the truth be told, who is to say who pressured who. You never know what goes on with those deals.

    I am not a Democrat or Republican, unlike you. I will tar and feather both. The Financial lobby is huge and has lots of money to burn. We can’t ever get that close again…to financial disaster.

  23. Formerly Anonymous

    One little piggy fell down today.
    Another little piggy has very weak legs.
    Everybody’s worried about the four little pigs.
    But not the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    We started with PIGS
    Now we have PI_S
    Next will be _I_S
    And before you know it we’ll be talking about California.

  24. Not sure what the crypic message is all about.

  25. We have dark side friends who mail us comments from there if they feel we need to be aware.

    I am laughing over the intense interest from the dark side. I don’t understand why anyone cares that much about what we do here. Sometimes we end up being more interesting than the actual story, which is simply ridiculous. Someone from there (and we know who he is) has said we have said people are not banned from here.

    Simply not true. There are people who have been banned from posting on moonhowlings. Don’t let facts get in your way. This blog began Feb. 26, 2010. If people were banned from antibvbl.net, the banning transferred over. We found their behavior unacceptable for this blog. The banning was definitely not along ideological lines. It was all about behavior.

    Other people have been asked to leave. That was a suggestion, not an all out banning. Those who were asked are generally welcomed back.

    Meanwhile, we reserve the right to determine who posts on the blog and who does not. Most folks are very cooperative and we appreciate that. Just thought we would clear that up.

  26. Wolverine

    If you aren’t being criticized, you probably aren’t doing anything.

  27. Thanks Wolverine, I am going to take you at your word.

  28. Formerly Anonymous

    Everybody’s crying over that poor little PIGgy and all the other PIGS that are sick.

    But farmer Jean-Claude is spending too much time and money trying to save the sick and dying PIGS and not enough time and money trying to quarantine them from the rest of the farm.

    So far, the sick little PIGS are all on one side of the pond, but that could change VERY fast. We’d all better hope that Farmer Ben knows what he’s doing. If he doesn’t, a couple of sick PIGS could cause us to lose the farm!

    And if the whole farm goes, everything goes. Everything from the goose that lays the golden eggs to the BRICs in the farmhouse.

  29. More cryptic pig messages.

    Where is the huff and puff and blow the house down?

  30. Lets see….Brazil, Russia, India, China.

    Must be a reference to Greece…pond…Atlantic. Portugal, Italy Greece and Spain. All are in Europe. All have financial problems. All use the euro. They need to be quarantined from the rest of Europe Common market and they need to be kept there …not here. Farmer Ben Bernanke.

    Ok, enough puzzle time. I give….

  31. Formerly Anonymous

    Give that woman a cheroot. That wasn’t too cryptic, now was it?

    One of the PIGS is all but dead, one more is in critical condition and everybody was surprised today to find the 2nd biggest piggy is in far worse health than previously known. Jean-Claude is running out of options, and may have to go with the Ol Yeller solution before long.

    Unfortunately, we’ve got our own little piggies over here. The sickest are California and Illinois. And Farmer Ben doesn’t have the tools that Jean-Claude has to quarantine them. Thankfully, our little piggies aren’t as sick as the PIGS. At least not yet. But our California piggy is only about 2-3 years behind the sickest of the PIGS. (Neither California or Illinois can meet the very loose debt rules the EU set that allowed Greece to sneak in. And I do mean sneak. But that’s another story.) And even worse, California is bigger than any of the PIGS.

    If our piggies don’t get better soon, you don’t want to see what will happen to our farm. I won’t be cryptic about that: It will make September 2008 look like a minor technical pullback.

    All joking and politics aside, I pray to God that Ben Bernanke has private data he just isn’t sharing and that he knows what he’s doing. We are walking a very thin tightrope and trillions of dollars of wealth and tens of millions of jobs are at stake if we slip up. (We never should have gotten ourselves on this tightrope, but that’s beside the point at the moment.) The next 24-36 months may be the most crucial period in America’s fiscal history since 1929-1932.

  32. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/ireland/100219/irish-economy-raising-pigs

    How does this fit in.

    How can California and Illinois be quarantined? How does Michigan fit into the puzzle?

    Might this be a good time to go fixed? Bonds don’t seem real secure either.

  33. That was pretty cryptic, formerly.

    If the farm goes, jobs, stock market and what else goes?

  34. If we quarantine DC, do you think that the rest of the country would get better? No one with the politician’s disease gets out. If one goes in, they stay there.

  35. Formerly Anonymous

    Ok, maybe it’s a little cryptic but I thought PIGS were pretty well known in the vernacular by now. Besides, when you are in the business of reading tea leaves, cryptic is relative.

    To paraphase Freud, sometimes a pig is just a pig.

    CA and IL are the worst of our little piggies, but other are plenty of others, MI, MA and NY are up there too and that’s just the first tranche. MI is a basket case but it has been one for at least ten years and will be for at least ten more. It’s been factored into the equation and isn’t a risk like CA or IL is. The only real risk from MI is that it adds to the volume of bad debt out there making it worse for the other sick little piggies.

    If you can figure out how to quarantine any of our piggies, there’s probably a Nobel Prize in Economics for you. Ben doesn’t have all the tools that Jean-Claude does. It’s not like we can expel California from the “dollar zone” and let their own currency fall. Somehow we have to hope that states that have a poor history of managing their debt will all spontaneously get much better at it in very short order. About the only thing I can think of that MIGHT work is if they were to jump the bond market and overservice their debt. It might buy enough time to prevent a major crisis. Of course, I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out how likely it is for CA or NY to overservice their debt.

    As for what to do for personal investments, don’t make me put up all my disclaimers again. All I’ll say is that look at what is causing the problem with the PIGS and look at what has historically happened in situations like that. (Never to this magnitude, but you can still see what is likely to happen.) Then look at what that does to the bond market and you’ll have your answer.

    I know I keep beating a dead horse on this subject, but our piggies couldn’t have come at a worse time. We can’t do a Federal bailout because we can’t afford it without putting the Federal debt service at even more risk and because the political will just isn’t there. It’s all going to feed on itself and our obligations (both debt service and entitlements) are going to grow rapidly over the next 10 years.)

    Look at what happened on Tuesday and imagine what would happen for an economy six times larger, coming after at least one or two more of the PIGS have failed. Oh yes, don’t forget that we don’t have any firewall options for our piggies. The debt markets may be coming to the conclusion that nobody has the political will to fix this and it could cause a stampede out.

    Like I said before, I really, really hope that I’m misreading the tea leaves or that I’m over-reacting. I’d be very happy to be wrong about this but we’ve got three major fiscal problems that are all going to hit in the next few years and not only are we not trying to fight them, we are actively making all three worse!

  36. Formerly Anonymous

    Here’s a link to a short two minute video that has some good visualizations about the debt crisis we face over the next ten years.

    It’s very non-partisan. It doesn’t take a shot at any party or politician in particular. It just shows the magnitude of the crisis we face. Mind you, this is just the Federal debt crisis, not our total debt crisis.

    Highly recommended.


  37. I just saw this Formerly and it is scary. I have this firewall around my brain about understanding bonds. It is just like a dead zone.

    However, if I am reading your correctly, you are saying dont have any because default is highly likely. Correct me if I am wrong.

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