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Friday: Tunnel Vision

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse with the banking system, we have a *new* concept to grapple with and this one should make you want to sharpen your pitchfork.  It’s called “tunneling”.  In short, tunneling occurs when bankers on the brink of insolvency are kept afloat just long enough for them to hide the good assets while they leave the bad assets for the government to absorb at taxpayer expense.  Isn’t that fun?  You can read all about it at NakedCapitalism.  And our administration’s resident genius, Tim Geithner, has set up conditions in a way that seem to be perfect for just this sort of thing.

Simon Johnson of Baseline Scenario explains what is going on:

Emerging market crises are marked by an increase in tunneling – i.e., borderline legal/illegal smuggling of value out of businesses…

Boris Fyodorov, the late Russian Minister of Finance who struggled for many years against corruption and the abuse of authority, could be blunt. Confusion helps the powerful, he argued. When there are complicated government bailout schemes, multiple exchange rates, or high inflation, it is very hard to keep track of market prices and to protect the value of firms. The result, if taken to an extreme, is looting: the collapse of banks, industrial firms, and other entities because the insiders take the money (or other valuables) and run.

This is the prospect now faced by the United States.

Treasury has made it clear that they will proceed with a “mix-and-match” strategy, as advertized. And people close to the Administration tell me things along the lines of ”it will be messy” and “there is no alternative.” The people involved are convinced – and hold this almost as an unshakeable ideology – that this is the only way to bring private capital into banks.

This attempt to protect shareholders and insiders in large banks is misguided. Not only have these shareholders already been almost completely wiped out by the actions and inactions of the executives and boards in these banks (why haven’t these boards resigned?), but the government’s policy is creating toxic financial institutions that no one wants to touch either with equity investments or – increasingly – further credit.

Policy confusion is rampant. Did the government effectively sort-of nationalize Citigroup last Thursday when it said Vikram Pandit will stay on as CEO? If that wasn’t a nationalization moment (i.e., an assertion that the government is now the dominant shareholder), what legal authority does the Treasury have to decide who is and is not running a private company?

Will debtholders be forced to take losses and, if so, how much and for whom? As part of last week’s Citigroup deal, preferred shareholders – whose claims had debt-like characteristics – were pressed into converting to common stock. You may or may not like forced debt-for-equity swaps, but be aware of what the prospect of these will do to the credit market. Junior subordinated Citigroup debt (securities underlying enhanced trust preferred shares) were yesterday yielding 26%….

What do rapidly widening credit default spreads for nonbank financial entities (such as GE Capital and many insurance companies) signify? Is it something about expected behavior by the insiders or by government, or by some combination of both?

Confusion in policy breeds disorder in companies, and disorder leads to the loss of value. This is the reality of severe crises wherever they unfold; we have not yet reached the worst moment. And, of course, there are many more shocks heading our way – mostly from Europe, but also potentially from Asia.

The course of policy is set. For at least the next 18 months, we know what to expect on the banking front. Now Treasury is committed, the leadership in this area will not deviate from a pro-insider policy for large banks; they are not interested in alternative approaches (I’ve asked). The result will be further destruction of the private credit system and more recourse to relatively nontransparent actions by the Federal Reserve, with all the risks that entails.

Read it and weep, Obots.  This is what you worked for.  Obama is in bed with these people.  They helped him buy off superdelegates and pay for massive amounts of advertising.  They helped him trash the reputation and career of a much better candidate.  They footed the bill for those stupid Greek Columns.   Our retirements are in jeopardy right now and the bankers are using the confusion to loot whatever’s left and stash the booty in an underground banking system.  It’s the finance version of the Shock Doctrine.  Before you know it, there won’t be anything of value left.

Paul Krugman is also alarmed by the “dithering” that is leading to more confusion and the possibility of acts of bad faith among bankers.  When Krugman starts to worry about the deficit, you know the situation has gotten out of control.  The administration keeps throwing money at the problem, hoping to kick start it to life.  But the administration seems to be adamant about protecting the bankers from taking their medicine:

Think of it this way: by using taxpayer funds to subsidize the prices of toxic waste, the administration would shower benefits on everyone who made the mistake of buying the stuff. Some of those benefits would trickle down to where they’re needed, shoring up the balance sheets of key financial institutions. But most of the benefit would go to people who don’t need or deserve to be rescued.

And this means that the government would have to lay out trillions of dollars to bring the financial system back to health, which would, in turn, both ensure a fierce public outcry and add to already serious concerns about the deficit. (Yes, even strong advocates of fiscal stimulus like yours truly worry about red ink.) Realistically, it’s just not going to happen.

So why has this zombie idea — it keeps being killed, but it keeps coming back — taken such a powerful grip? The answer, I fear, is that officials still aren’t willing to face the facts. They don’t want to face up to the dire state of major financial institutions because it’s very hard to rescue an essentially insolvent bank without, at least temporarily, taking it over. And temporary nationalization is still, apparently, considered unthinkable.

But this refusal to face the facts means, in practice, an absence of action. And I share the president’s fears: inaction could result in an economy that sputters along, not for months or years, but for a decade or more.

Um, I don’t think I can wait a decade or more to see *if* my 401K investments bounce back.  I want to see things returning to some kind of normal state pretty damn quick so I know that recovery is possible.  Now, I’m no financial wiz but I think we’ve all seen something like this happen before. Your computer starts to hiccup.  At first, it’s just a minor thing and you ignore it.  Then it happens again and again with greater frequency.  Before you know it, you’re opening and closing windows, relaunching programs and tinkering under the hood with network settings.  The last thing you try that you know you don’t want to have to do (because you’re not sure everything is saved) is a reboot.

It’s time to hit that power off switch.

101 Responses

  1. yep…it was a coincidence…pure coincidence.

  2. Thanks for laying out this sobering mishmash of a plan by our Dear Reader. The truth shall set us free. It may be all we have. I prefer it too Kool-aid – no aftertaste.

  3. It’s definitely the Shock Doctrine in action. What it reminds me of is the looting of Bagdad.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2081647/

    Remember when Donald Rumsfeld explained it away by saying that freedom is “untidy?”

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/04/11/sprj.irq.pentagon/

    Obama is simply finishing what Bush started–the looting of America. Once the damage is done, they will lay down the law as they did in Iraq. We will be a very different country when this is all over. We will be a fascist state. God help us.

  4. CNBC–oops, heading through double-digit unemployment…only education, healthcare and gov’t employment up….
    talking heads—some defending “plan”, others blaming Bush…oh, here’s one guy…if it takes 90 days longer to start kicking in the stimulus…it will cost us ANOTHER $2 trillion dollars!!!

    OUCH…

    Next dream…the Public/Private Partnership coming to theatres near you in 2 weeks….

    In the meantime….

    Secy. of Defense Robert Gates Downplays Possible U.S. Role as Fears of Mexico Collapse Mount; Don’t Be Fooled, There’s A Bush-Era Agenda Still Going On Here…

    http://tinyurl.com/ah55q3

    This ties into more on all this “community” planned for by 2010 next week…all things shaping up nicely!

    Did you know that TX is preparing for the worst if Mexico collapses?

    Obama is truly right on track with Bushco…

  5. Hey, what’s cooking with the business of the FDIC possibly not being able to insure all bank holdings??? Hey, isn’t THAT the next big BOOM???

    • And they just upped the amount they would insure!

    • My money is going into the Serta Perfect Sleeper Savings & Loan. I just took my 401K funds and moved them to Gov’t securities. Why go for high risk when all you get is more bleeding.

  6. I just heard that on morning news radio!
    Just last night I was talking to my “financial advisor” (haha) about pulling out my meager savings and he said “Don’t worry. the FDIC insures every account upt ot $100k.”
    That was last night. Today – not so much, I guess.

    • Sorry, this was to be a reply to insightanalytical @8:49

    • Your financial advisor is a bit behind the times, you may want to get a different advisor.
      Your savings account is now insured (assuming there is any money left to pay off claims if there’s a run) up to $250,000 (joint accounts up to $500,000).

  7. I am one of the stupid ones who left her savings and 401k in the mutual funds under the premise that it was too late to pull out. Many of my funds would have to recover 800% or more to get back what I’ve lost. I am a schmuck but last night I sold everything. I don’t care what these assHats tell us, I am going to try to protect what little I have left.

    • I hope you mean you just moved them into stable funds or US treasury funds….taking your money out of your 401(k) prior to retirement subjects you to quite a high penalty fee.

      • No, it’s still in retirement investments. Just stable,low risk (if such a thing still exists) fund.

  8. NH — I heard an analyst say this morning that a 4000 bottom is a conservative estimate.

    I’ll take mine out now and IF it goes back to 7000, I’ll get back in.

    • The guy who wrote the book I’m reading right now thinks that “the bottom is the floor.” We are in deep trouble with a delusional or utterly morally bankrupt President.

    • The bottom will be reach when main street will strart to float the feeling that 9 months down the line, things will be better. Wall Street (conventionally) is ahead by 9 months on Main Street reality.

      (And the Real Estate market is about 9 months to a year behind Main Street)

      Does any body out there thinks things will be better in 9 months????

      The answer to that question is the general trend of Wall Street.

  9. We are definitely heading into dark waters.

  10. I also think the “powers that be” are trying to shnooker people into keeping their money in the market for now. One guy said this morning withall kinds of optimism that it’s not a good time to get out because they’re expecting a “temporary” bull market to surge back up. He said it was THEN that people should take their money out, i.e., after this big boost.

    Yeah right. Like I’m going to sit there and wait for my ship to come in.

  11. Outrageous, depressing, and it’s all likely happening as we speak. That said, I would like Roubini or Krugman once, just once, to give their best estimation of the alternative cost of nationalization.

    Creeping along indecisively without enforcing anything one way or another is without question the worst result. But to make the right decision, the people and its government must understand the costs and benefits of the paths available to us. Somebody, please make the financial case for nationalization. What will be the bottom line hit for taxpayers. If anyone can do this, it’s Roubini or Krugman.

    There will be no shortage of things to whinge about in the coming years. Right now as a taxpayer, I simply want to know what the cost to the people of a better alternative would be.

  12. Obama’s rich campaign supporters are being paid back blatantly. The MSM and the American people refuse to acknowledge it. I feel like we are living in the movie “Idiocracy.”

  13. FDIC’s Bair Seeks $100 Billion Credit Line, May Cut Banks’ Fee

    By Alison Vekshin and Margaret Chadbourn

    March 6 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. may reduce an emergency fee on banks to bolster reserves if Congress expands the agency’s borrowing authority with the Treasury Department to $100 billion, Chairman Sheila Bair said.

    The existing $30 billion credit line “provides a thin margin of error” to cover losses from bank failures, Bair wrote yesterday in a letter to U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd. Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, plans to introduce legislation to raise the borrowing authority to a permanent level of $100 billion and temporarily increase it to $500 billion through Dec. 31, 2010.

    Expanding the agency’s ability to tap the Treasury “would give the FDIC flexibility to reduce the size of the recent special assessment, while still maintaining assessments at a level that supports the deposit insurance fund,” Bair wrote. The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved legislation to boost the credit line to $100 billion.

    Bair’s request emerged after banking industry outcry over the assessment of 20 cents per $100 of insured deposits the FDIC board approved on Feb. 27. Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said on March 3 he’s received more than 1,000 messages from executives complaining that the one-time fee could significantly reduce 2009 earnings.

    The assessment was aimed at rebuilding a fund the FDIC uses to repay customers for deposits of as much as $250,000 when a bank fails. The fund, drained by 25 bank shutdowns last year, fell to $18.9 billion in the fourth quarter from $34.6 billion in the preceding three-month period, the agency said.

    House Vote

    “My understanding is that if the FDIC has that $100 billion in a line of credit to Treasury, it gives them more flexibility in managing the fund balance and allows them to cut the special assessment in half,” American Bankers Association Chief Economist James Chessen said yesterday in an interview.

    The House approved a measure yesterday increasing the borrowing authority to $100 billion and making permanent the $250,000 deposit-insurance limit in the financial bailout measure enacted in October.

    The increase “will be an important step toward reducing the assessments on the community banks,” Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who leads the House Financial Services Committee, said before the vote.

    “A lower special assessment would mitigate the impact on banks at a time when they need to serve their communities and revitalize the economy,” Bair wrote to Dodd.

    Questions about the FDIC’s borrowing authority “are issues of mechanics,” FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray said yesterday in a telephone interview.

    “Insured depositors need to know they are fully protected,” Gray said. “We’re backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. We can, and always will be able to, meet our obligations to insured depositors.”

  14. In Feb., we lost 651,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate (which is really a fake stat.) is now 8.1%. That isn’t far from the “worst case scenario” Geither is using to “stress test” the banks.

  15. What’s wrong with this picture?

    • just as the article points out:

      “If this unidentified meal recipient is too poor to buy his own food, how does he afford a cellphone?

      And if he is homeless, where do they send the cellphone bills?”

      OMG. I guess that shows who the Obots really are: so awash in their own privilege that they wouldn’t even pick up on this verbal signal unless the LA Times overtly points it out.
      And it also shows what cult-zombies they are.

    • not to mention we’re serving “risotto” to the homeless. I wonder if that comes with a side salad of arugula with champagne vineagrette?

    • No hair net.

    • I would add the way she is posing is more suitable for Access Hollywood than kitchen soup

    • I meant soup kitchen

    • Hilarious. Actually, a few years ago the nutty John Stossel did a report for either Primetime Live or 20/20 on what poverty means. It was a very interesting report because he compared our concepts of poverty with other parts’ of the world. He asked some people on food lines in the US if they had phones, televisions, cable, microwave ovens – the answer was yes to all of that. And he wondered on what planet these people considered themselves to be poor? In India, for example, “poor” is a whole other cattle of fish.

      From my personal experience I remember as a child when my family still lived in the USSR there were these first-ever telecasts between the USSR and the USA hosted by Phil Donahue on this side and Vladimir Pozner on the Soviet side. There was this guy in Donahue’s audience who stood up and talked about how poor he and his family was and that everything in the US did not grow on trees. In the USSR the next day all everyone talked about was the fact that this very “poor” man was wearing a very fancy leather jacket, which cost a fortune in the USSR.

  16. Reverend Wright says Obama “ain’t Jesus

  17. OT threadstopper. Will self destruct in 5..4..3..

    Hillary is not the raison d’etre for TC, but I imagine she was an important inspiration. So what would she think of TC today. Indulge me. I think she would say, Bravo. Democracy is by nature messy, but your heads and your hearts are in the right place. You will get bigger and stronger by being more inclusive than exclusive. Remember who made up the 18 million. Reclaim the Democratic party as the party that looks out for everyone’s rights and well being.

    Now, if TC chose to be primarily a platform for the next generation feminist movement, that’s equally awesome. A declaration as such, however, might be helpful. This business with tamerlane is an example. I remember him from HillBuzz as one of the most active and passionate supporters of Hill’s agenda, and that naturally included women’s rights. But, if being a man or using the word coven precludes him from the dialogue, then we should take another look at the latitude TC enjoys in its own banter.

    The existence of a patriarchy should give women some license to another standard. I chuckled my way through all the man jokes at PumaPac last weekend. But at a point, hypocrisy can creep in. Having issues with men in general terms. Is that part of an organized movement for *real* change, or a dart board for necessary catharsis. Men all suck, can be helpful to say. I say it myself often enough. But on its own, it does not change much.

    • No one here ever said all men suck.

    • TW: Although I do indulge in the “all men suck” catharsis — but I agree that you are absolutely right. If we spend all of our time bashing men, we are still participating in the patriarchy. We are still behaving according to its rules. We are reacting, not acting, not creating something of our own.

      I don’t have men in my close emotional circle (and I like it that way) so they are pretty much irrelevant to me in real life. But I still have to work with them. And I struggle everyday with the choice between fighting back/reacting and going to a different, better place outside of the patriarchy.

      I don’t always succeed, but at least I’m working on it.

    • All this consternation about what PUMA could be is akin to a 35 year old professional woman trying to decide what she wants to be when she grows up. Spending so much time trying to become whatever she thinks other people expect her to want to be will likely preclude her from appreciating herself for who she is.
      PUMA is already what it is. I wish people would stop trying to force it to want to be anything else.

    • Wickets-you are a man, I believe. You are also a relative new comer to TC. Have you personally ever had trouble here?
      Have people here ever used you as a dartboard?

      Tamerlane has read a few posts on TC-those which followed Betty-Jean’s tragedy, and has decided to use them to accuse the Confluence of “women-lynching”-yet another version of femi-nazis. He did not bother come here to argue but made a post on someone else’s site.

      He also had the temerity to imply that our sister site, Pumapac was (more or less) a coven of man hating lesbians. Of course this was divisive, and made BB among others, change her mind about including LR on the blog roll.

      TC is by no means a man-hating site-but people, following their own hidden agenda are busy painting it that way. Women here, in general, like to laugh and play together with the other human beings here. (You may have noticed that yourself).

      The Confluence has been the object of various attacks lately. One of those ended in Afrocity’s departure, many have been aimed at myiq, some at Dakinikat- this one at the male commenters in general.

    • There’s a huge difference between constructive criticism and petty sniping. IMO, Tamerlane was engaging in the latter. And using the expired web link makes him appear sneaky and dishonest. JMHO, of course.

      I spent almost a week getting a blog beat down over my insistence that PUMA feminists should welcome the men who share our ideals and goals. The fact that all genders are needed in the fight for sexual equality is not a point I’m willing to concede.

      That said, I still think Tamerlane is, at best, a jerk. If he’s really committed to the PUMA cause then he should start his own blog/group focusing on the issues that concern him the most. Will Bower is hammering away on primary reform and is not wasting time complaining about what other PUMA factions are doing. Really, Tamerlane’s only point seemed to be to engage in some women bashing. As I’ve said before, his comments came across with a Rush-like “feminazi” tone. And I don’t believe his claim to seek dialog is sincere. JMHO of course.

    • I’m a man and a raging heterosexual. I have never felt out of place or put down by the people here. Then again, I don’t have “problems” with strong women.

    • “coven” to me means a group of Wiccans or neopagans…male and female. I had trouble reading it as all female!

      • Luna — true, but that isn’t how tamerlane used the word at all in the context of his rant — it was clearly used as a term to dismiss women he didn’t agree with as “witches” who, historically, should be burned at the stake for daring to not be what the men expect them to be.

        • From the horse’s ass:

          I chose the word “coven” carefully: it was meant to mock what I consider foolish behavior. But if “coven” offends anyone, then please suggest another term that evokes a small, women’s-only cabal practicing near cultish devotion to a mystical anima force.
          tamerlane | Homepage | 03.04.09 – 10:22 am |

    • I do not think many of us bash men. I try to include them because without all points of view and different ideas and outlooks you do not have enough information to fight the political and gender battles.
      I felt the same way about counties that do not value women.
      Why would you not use ALL you assets to improve things.
      A while ago I used an example of not used all your assets.
      A little boy was trying to move a large rock. His father was watching him. The little boy could not move the rock and started crying. He told his father he could not do it. The father than asked him did you use all you available assets. The little boy said yes. The father said no you did not. You did not ask me for help.
      If both genders do not work together nothing will change.

      WOMEN WITH INTELLIGENCE AND EXPERIENCE,MEN WHO SUPPORT THEM AND COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY ALWAYS

      PUMAS,BUBBAS,EQUALISTS AND THOSE PEOPLE RULE

  18. But, if being a man or using the word coven precludes him from the dialogue, then we should take another look at the latitude TC enjoys in its own banter.

    Tamerlane is a self-admitted troll who has no interest in anything other than attracting attention to himself

  19. PUMA is already what it is. I wish people would stop trying to force it to want to be anything else.

    What she said

  20. It is just plain and simple misdirection. If they focus their anger on PUMA’s, they don’t have to take a long hard look Dear Leaders many mistakes.

  21. We are at an interesting time where patriarchy and empire is refusing to pay its bills….that affords those of us not served by these” norms ” to break its yoke, because there is less and less pay off for obeying.

    The powers that be are very foolish . By stripping us of one benifit after another from thier system, they are pushing everyone else, both men and women to the pitch fork tipping point . IMO

    • People are getting angry. And even young people who voted for Obama (my son and DIL) are coming to the quick conclusion that Obama does not represent change. He represents business as usual. And I’m hoping the masses soon decide that’s not acceptable and they won’t stand for it.

  22. I know it’s Charles Krauthammer, but in his piece, he includes this little detail below that stopped me cold. I kept asking, “Where are these highly optimistic projections for cutting the deficit coming from?” And they called it “voodoo economics” under Reagan?! BO is a shameless liar. The “savings” is for not spending in Iraq IF we stayed there until 2019. THAT is where the money is supposed to come from. Did it occur to them that we might have to invest in defense somewhere else unexpectedly, or there might be an expensive natural disaster? Can Timmy and Obie please go play basketball and let some adults handle things now?

    Deception at Core of Obama Plans

    Forget the “$2 trillion dollars in savings” that “we have already identified,” $1.6 trillion of which President Obama’s budget director later admits is the “savings” of not continuing the surge in Iraq until 2019 — 11 years after George Bush ended it, and eight years after even Bush would have had us out of Iraq completely.

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/03/a_dishonest_gimmicky_budget.html

  23. And here we have Robert Reich doing his best WORM for BO, and why the Wall St. meltdown is is not his fault. But…but…but…! When DOES it actually become Obama’s responsibility? That is why his team keeps using the word “inherited,” so that no matter what happens, they can claim that they were victims of Bush’s incompetence. Well, you wanted the job buddy, and I don’t see Wall St. cheering YOUR policies each day with a vote of confidence.

    Is Obama responsible for Wall Street’s meltdown?
    It’s an absurd argument, but that’s where populist rage on the right is heading.
    By Robert Reich

    Second, it’s inevitable that stocks, led by the bloated financial sector, would lose their remaining hot air as the new administration begins “stress-testing” the big banks, many of which are technically insolvent. After all, their share prices were built on a tissue of lies and dreams. Other sectors whose values were similarly distorted and distended by years of financial deception and regulatory disregard, such as housing and insurance, will also have to return to the real world before they can recover. Which could mean more stock losses.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/03/05/populist_rage/

    • robby robby robby, most, if not all, of those banks being “stressed tested” have already have received billions, soon to be trillions, from the fed. The fed (and the “new” administration) know very well what they are and are not made up of. The “new” administration’s demonization of wall street is running out of steam, time for a new song and dance baby!

      The market is where it is today because there is absolutely nothing coming out of the “new administration” that instills confidence. period.

      good try though robby

    • my belief is that Reich is trying to worm his way back to the white house and relevancy

  24. fif, on March 6th, 2009 at 10:52 am

    All that inherited stuff will be very thin gruel come the 2010 elections.

  25. These are bad:

    I haven’t seen a Dow this low since Eddie Haskell called Wally a real goon.

    ***
    Now we know how Michelle O. got such great biceps: Slamming the door on low-income hospital patients.

    ***

    If Robert Gibbs was a spokesman for NASA, I’d start to question the moon landing.

    ***

    Dear UK: Now you know how WE feel. Maybe they just couldn’t set up his tel-uh-prompter in time?

    ***

    The Slap Chop and the Snuggie didn’t ship in time to give to Gordon, so Michelle printed the receipt and put it inside one of the DVD cases.

    ***

    I’m glad they waited until now to knight Ted Kennedy, because all that armor would’ve made it tough to swim.

  26. what, no msnbc headlines on the market’s opening “rally” due to the obamarama magic?

    Opps, too late, another dead cat bounce…..and down we go again.

    That “remaining hot air” (as termed by mr. reich) being lost is the hard earned money of hard working middle class people who can just watch as their 401(ks), savings, children’s college and retirement accounts dwindle down even further.

    Perhaps it’s time that the WH retreats from the “only rich fat cat wall street CEO’s are losing when the market crashes” propaganda/mantra?

    • Not quite sure how they’ll spin unemployment hitting a 25-year high. Maybe the Obama kids will finally get that dog.

  27. how many congressional seats are going to be up in 2010? I am sure the democrats will be sweating bullets if there is no turn around by end of 2nd quarter 2010…

    • Most of the stimulus money will be spent in 2010, and not in 2009. (just in time for the elections…)

  28. I have a second job at a retail store in the evenings, just for extra pocket change and because I am bored as hell most of the time. I knew things were going from bad to worse, financially for most people, but it is escalating quickly.

    Our store was relatively low key for drama, until last week. In one week alone, we had two incidents of flim-flamming, we got in one counterfeit $20, two cars were broken into and three families, who had migrated from other states, came in looking for jobs. These familiies were living in campers or staying in low rent motels.

    If this is a sign of things to come, it is going to be bad, really bad.

    • desperate times

    • I just bumped into my new neighbor, she’s a widow with a 10 year old daughter and was laid off a month ago. She was working in leather handbag/jacket manufacturing.

      Our small town’s biggest industry is Pirelli, and 650 workers were put on “cassa integrazione”, temporarily laid off, b4 Xmas.

      Builders, plumbers, electricians have all been hit hard.

  29. OT- sorry but I need to rant for a minute.

    Oblah blah just got done speaking at a police academy graduation in Columbus, Ohio. He spoke for about 10 minutes. 10 f#*king minutes. All he did was repeat he stimulus plan talking points. Then he reminds all of us that he is POTUS as if he has to remind himself that he won. Does he know that the campaign is over?

    10 minutes. How much money did this lunatic just waste and for what purpose? We just lost 651,000 jobs in February alone.

    This is embarassing.

    • Could somebody please send this guy a memo, to inform him that his plan is NOT F$*KING working!?!

    • what I’d like to know is when he is actually going to do something other than throw parties, give speeches and hold summits? Could he possibly considering working on something for a change?

    • He doesn’t have time to prepare new remarks because he’s to busy socializing and going to basketball games where he puts alot of people in danger for his selfish needs.

  30. OT, but a continuation of yesterday’s post about Gt. Britain. Obama doesn’t have time or patience to properly receive our strongest ally in our nation’s best interest, but if it’s about Obama then he does!

    The Prince is excited to meet the Queen!

    President Barack Obama dislikes Britain, but he’s keen to meet the Queen

    Note how the coolness of Team Obama disappears when a bit of regal glamour is introduced into the equation. He might not like the Brits, but he can recognise a global superstar when he encounters one. He wants to be associated with her. He’s shameless.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/iain_martin/blog/2009/03/06/president_barack_obama_dislikes_britain_but_hes_keen_to_meet_the_queen

    • The Queen has amazing taste in hats!

    • This is embarrassing. They are rude, tacky, clueless, self-absorbed, lying, fools. I really didn’t think I could despise anyone as much as Bush. I’m actually thinking fondly of the Bush days now. What the f*@k is happening?

  31. I am so pissed right now.

    Everytime I hear one one these fools say “we inherited this mess” and “we just got here”, I want to slap someone. Obama owns this crap now. Bush opened up his doors right after the election. Obama and his people have been hands on working on this stuff since November. They have nerve to say it’s only been a month and a half.

    • Yep-I cannot understand why his transition team, and gang of vetters weren’t ready on day one.

      Wasn’t it Obama who ran such a wonderfully organized campaign, that he was prepared for any little problem governing could throw his way…

  32. New Post Up

  33. I miss Afrocity.

  34. Today’s front page FT says the stock market tumbled because China failed to deliver on it’s stimulus package.

    If your 401 K was artificially inflated by eight years of following 1920’s tactics, it’s obviously going to take a while to get it back. No one thought this market was going to turn on a dime and most thought it would get worse before it gets better.

    My problem with trying to discuss the whole thing, is that (like most people) I lump the stimulus package, the budget, and the bank bailout all together. The stock market falling might be linked to all three but it’s also linked to the world market. Very confusing.

  35. Several phrases are used in your piece to define ‘tunneling’:

    “hide the good assets”

    “borderline legal/illegal smuggling of value out of businesses…”

    “the insiders take the money (or other valuables) and run.”

    But these definitions don’t really help me, an outsider (though I have kept abreast of financial info over the decades), to understand how these things happen. What steps take place. I need a picture. Otherwise, can’t see through the mist enuf to have an opinion on where to point finger and bring in daylight. I suspect in this instance I’m part of the majority.

    Knowledgeable parties: step up to the plate! (Please)

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