Saturday, December 17, 2011

He's a CEO?

  • He graduated Yale?
  • He worked at Merrill Lynch? (got caught committing securities fraud)
  • He wrote for Slate?
  • He's the CEO of Business Insider?
Henry Blodget...
in my mind has just written the single worst article on the world's current financial situation I've ever come across.  Scary actually that there are people out there whom clearly will always believe what they believe.

Keynes was right he claims.

He claims "I'm not an economist". No argument there; lets go further, you lack basic logic.  All of the powerful economic countries (mainly Europe and the US) practice Keynesianism for decades - yes decades.  Looking at simple facts the US has had a strong 40 years of spending more than they take in.  Since GDP = C + I + G + NX with G's inflated spending we pump 'fake' demand into the cyclical GDP.  In fact our deficit spending is so bad now we're roughly 12% of the GDP in over-spending.  Clearly Henry, and many others do not understand what that means - for us to continue to grow and be as prosperous as we are now we have to borrow more and more.  It doesn't end - we'd get to the point where we'll have to borrow as much as our entire countries GDP just to pay for our interest of what we've borrowed - and still it will climb. So all these countries have only been practicing Keynesianism for decades (please do not even pretend to count the 2 Clinton years when they raised taxes while booming, borrowed from Social Security, and still spend huge amounts more than the previous years just to come out even) and now all their monetary policies are failing - and you conclude that Austerians failed us? WTF? Your logic is because we needed Keynes ideas to bail us out?  Seriously?  How do you know we'd be worse off without the bailouts? You think we're out of the woods now?  You think none of the financial problems were caused by pumping in fake demand?  Creating a government that employs more and more people?

Next huge flaw in logic:
If pumping money into the system is the solution - why not pump in $900 trillion?  You can't claim it only works to a point - because the entire premise behind your conclusion is that pumping in money stimulates everything; Oh, and your 'fix the highways thought' - go read an intelligent man's thoughts on that (Mark Cuban).  Yes if the government stops spending money they don't have then things will get worse; of course it will because they've created so much false demand everything will have to cut back - we have to face the truth.  The more you 'kick the can' the worse that reality will be - exponentially.  Would you rather take a 25% pay cut now - or keep your salary for 5  more years and take a 50% then?  How about another 5 and now your pay cut is 100%.  It is people like you, like Obama (although I think he knows the sad truth but has chosen to put it off) that are forcing us deeper into the hole.  We know what we did wrong, what doesn't work - we have all the proof a half-intelligent person could ever need - yet there are those out there, CEO's mind you - screaming we need more.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nor'lloween 2011

I'd say this is a good chance this year they'll be less snow on the ground for Christmas than there was for Halloween.
Front Porch Witch
Windy as well
Over a Foot there
Sunrise on the first day without power
How I'm able to heat the house - cable from car (can't beat steam/natural gas)
Close-up of cord
Front of house - looked like Fall the day before
Shook the privet multiple times during the night - still barely made it.
The roses weren't ready as well
Odd seeing the leaves fall on the snow

1st time Halloween got cancelled from snow

Thursday, December 1, 2011

All American McDonald's

For the past decade or so the majority of what I've heard about McDonald's has been negative.  I can't even count how many times I've heard how bad they are for you.  The awareness of the consumer as to what they put in their body has definitely been increasing over those years - so I can sort of understand the attacks. The thing is though you never hear about how bad Ben and Jerry's is - and all they sell is bad for you.  I happen to love Ben and Jerry's and McDonald's is pretty kicking as well.

Try this: have kids to feed, a tight budget, a doctor telling you your daughter needs to put on weight, and keeping an on-the-go life.  I can't walk into Panera Bread (which I also love) and feast like a king for $9 for the entire family.  Oh, and I get a toy as well.  I know it isn't the healthiest food out there - but we've magnified it so much we seem to forget how small of a snapshot it is for our total lifestyle.  Eating nothing but it is bad for my kids - but so is eating nothing but fruit or only spinach and onions.  Could we also not blame some of why there is so much corn in their food to the government for artificially increasing the supply of corn.  They started using it because it was cheaper and tasted good - not because they wanted to make you fat.  McDonalds rocks and is a great American company. [end rant]

Monday, November 14, 2011

And the next bubble is...

22% tuition cut at University of Charlestown. It seems as if almost over night people are realizing that there is no way an education can be a deal at the price of tuition. The government needs to get out of the way before the numbers go up anymore. A student should be able to get rid of their loans if they file bankruptcy. The government would be forced (if they had any brains or care about money they waste) to make better and less loans - therefore less people could afford the crazy prices and tuition drops. It really is that simple. No private company would give loans for those amounts without serious research (grades, major, previous class results, etc...) The ROI is not there for the vast majority of the loans.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Schiff at OWS

Always been a Peter Schiff fan; even more so now.  He didn't stay home he went to have dialogue.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Remember this OWS

Of course there are numerous views from the crowds at Wall St. etc...  Some actually want anarchy (I suppose a certain population of youth always does); some want a true democracy; even others want something closer to socialism.  Here is a hint though: no you don't, you actually want what we have - a republic. We just need to fix the corruption and the financial games.  Oh, that and the government needs to be cut in half because mathematically we'll end up with no choice anyway.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupy the Tea Party street

I was an original Tea Party person.  There were many events that I believe lead to its creation but the tipping point was the TARP and Stimulus Acts.  The idea that in the worst financial times we'd spend amounts of money which is hard to comprehend to 'save' the economy just didn't feel right.  Hundreds of millions of dollars went to projects in a bill that was impossible to have read in the amount of time they passed it.  Most of us also strongly believe in the failure of a company.  The thought of TBTF (too big to fail) was not just nonsense but vulgar to many.  If a private company is too big to fail than in essence you are saying they own us - they run the show.
The Tea Party has grown and morphed since the origins.  Many of the basic ideas and people are still there, but so many that jumped on board pushed it toward a new GOP movement.  We didn't want a slightly more conservative GOP, we wanted a Tea Party Candidate.  Rand Paul may be one of the few.

The 'left' attacked and laughed at the Tea Party as quickly and hard as they could.  I watched so many hours of liberal talk show hosts and analysts hoping for good debates.  I challenge you to find a good back-and-forth between the two sides.  The left shied away from the big issues - the only ones many of us cared about in the first place.  Some eventually discussed them; Bill Maher (and many others) think that well we bailed them out so now they should bail us out.  The sad part is that he's serious.  He was for the bail-outs and now for the rich bailing out the government. E.g. there is a mansion in your neighborhood who employees the locals; he spends too much and has nothing left so he asks everyone to chip in to keep him rich; they agree because he creates all their jobs; he gets bailed out. A year later the locals are all poor and in debt so they ask for a bailout from the rich guy, seeing that he can afford it; he agrees...  do you see it Bill? I hate to just throw the word out there, but you just defined socialism to a 'T'. Neither side has motivation to strive forward if they can't fail and if they will pool together when they run out of money.
(side: I can't believe I honestly thought of him as an intelligent man when I was younger.  He's not, he's not open so he doesn't grow.  I'd be willing to bet he hasn't changed his mind on an issue in 20 years - meaning he has known the perfect combination all along - the most intelligent man on earth, no? His pure disgust for the right is sickening. Anderson Cooper asked him recently about the last debate and you can see it in his eyes - he truly hates them before they say a word.  He believes they are bad people with the only goal of destroying his country and hurting people.  I guarantee he watches democrat debates and loves every second, every word out of those amazing people trying to save us all. Hey Bill, is it easier to stand in front of a crowd and promise everyone of them every single thing they want (I'm looking at you Obama), or to tell someone you won't bail them out or cover their expenses forever or buy their house for them? )

Let us blame Bush again.  The president and so many on his side have pulled this card way too often.  1. As if the problems hadn't already begun before him. 2. If instead we had 8 years of Obama and then 4 of Bush we'd be in basically the same place.  Go look at their voting records. Name 3 major issues/bills that one would have done that the other would never do.  TARP/stimulus bills would still have passed.  We'd still be sending troops to die in the same countries.  We'd be drone bombing terrorists.  Gitmo would be open.  The Bush tax cuts would exist.  The deficit would be growing massively. The only major difference I can think of would be ObamaCare - which if the polls are correct the majority of Americans aren't thrilled about anyway. (May not even be constitutional to force someone to buy a product from a private company - well it isn't - the debate is the Commerce Clause which can sound convincing but is wrong; chicken and egg issue there, it would be like telling every company they have to make orange hats and then claiming that if everyone in the country doesn't buy orange hats the entire thing will fail.  The argument is true but backwards.) Overall they are far more alike than the media usually portrays.  Not just that but those like Paul Begala and Cornell Belcher ride a similar boat as Bill Maher - they would still praise an Obama but are ashamed to have to call Bush one of our Presidents; far worse they would virtually never consider even the possibility that the other side was right on an issue.

OWS has some good roots/views
I like Occupy Wall St. because they are right to pressure Wall st. - at least the bankers, some hedge fund hotshots etc... ;I liked the Tea Party because they know the government spending is the most damaging/crippling part being done to us.OWS tends to think corps/banks are mostly to blame and that they run the country. Many Tea Party people feel the government/Fed is screwing us over. The answer is in the middle - but the root is on the government side. Not sure where it goes from here but the pressure is building from both sides.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Oh the Banks of America

Has your bank added new fees yet?  You can thank Obama and the Stimulus package; but first I want to discuss the banks themselves.

I've never run a business so I couldn't call myself and expert on the subject; however of all businesses I imagine running a bank would be one of the easiest.  I would guess the hardest part would be the start-up - gaining enough trust and having enough capital to begin must be a massive hurdle.  After that is done though you are the bank, keeping money in the bank should be cake.  You check credit, give loans, repeat.  If you start doing poorly you adjust rates, change the algorithms, get stricter with credit - repeat.  Maybe dish out some credit cards with higher rates, charge fees for certain types of processing, etc...

As certain banks found the sweet spot for these numbers and keeping customers happy I can see how some grew faster than others (as always).  These began to buy other smaller banks ...  You get the point, now we are at the stage where we have gigantic banks controlling most of the money.  That doesn't bother me, it is all a part of the essence of capitalism.  What starts to happen though is what I would call Government backed greed.  These banks are now big enough they can start playing with our money in large quantities.  Similar to most of what the stock market is used for now, the banks want to find ways to move money around enough that they can take some as it moves.  People/Corporations love to move extremely large amounts of money around because if they can just get a small percent from it they are rich.  They use the continuous flow of money and low rates from the Fed (side: weren't we supposed to raise rates during the boom? Wasn't that the entire point of the Federal Reserve) to bolster their creating of money from thin air for loans (mostly for houses).  Things were good, too good, but they got even better when ideas like the National Homeownership Strategy from Bill Clinton came along in 1994.  Politicians were pushing bills through that would assist more and more people to own homes.  Demand was skewed (sort of like education at the moment) and supply couldn't keep up; therefore housing prices climbed fast.  The banks liked this even more.

There was virtually no risk for a bank to give a mortgage, even with zero down.  The market outpaced the risk.  Even if someone defaulted on their loan only a year in - the bank had made a good chunk on closing costs and the market had risen enough they could sell the house at a higher price anyway.  Even if half their loans defaulted in 5 years the bank would still be positive cash.  Add in Freddie/Fannie and Credit Default Swaps and you've got unlimited money flow.  Dump risky mortgages on Fannie - no worries since the government will back them even if they run out of cash (sweet).  Still not good enough, package up the other risky mortgages and get insurance on them - brilliant.  They took this perfect system that created ungodly amounts of income and got insurance for it.  If that wasn't enough - if someone stops paying their mortgage we'll cash in our CDS and get our money back from AIG/Lehman, etc... and then take their house too.

It all caught up to them

As it always does.  One could argue (and I would be one) that none of it would have been possible if it weren't for the government and Fed's awful policies, but we can't just blame the drug dealer but the druggie too.  There is a difference though because in a capitalistic society someone will always use the advantages they can find - it is its nature.  However, the free (somewhat) market corrected itself and the big banks were going down.  Probably would get split up, become much smaller, go back to where they started and let the good bank rise above.  Enter Bailout time.  Someone as intelligent as Larry Summers can't possibly believe Christina Romer's multiplier, but being around the system for so long I think he was afraid of the consequences.  He knew how connected the system, the banks, the NY Fed was/is.  He must have seen the dominoes and shook his head in agreement.  We destroyed the failures of the free market - which is as important as every success.  The financial sector is a government backed mess and at the end of the day more money from our kids went to the executives that couldn't do simple math and run a bank.  Ironically we forced the wrong rich to stay rich because we needed them.  If Obama really believe in anything he has said through the years he would have said 'f u' to the bankers and hedge fund guys.  Of course that would have also been ironic seeing that those guys run a far tighter ship than the government has in over 100 years, but it still would have been right.

Now I'm mad
To get back at those bad banks the President created all sorts of new regulations.  Those banks are out to get those poor people.  Yes they are.  Starbucks is too, and Best Buy, and SouthWest, and the Lemonade stand at the corner.  Regulating something because you don't like their ways helps very very few while hurting everyone else.  Have you noticed on your credit card bills they tell you things like, "If you pay the minimum balance on this it will cost you ... and take x years to pay off."  Wow, no way did you use a calculator for that?  Did you know that if you didn't pay your bills sometimes there is a fee or raise in rate?  Yes way.  If you didn't, no offense but you deserve to pay them.  That is also part of capitalism.  Who is smarter the Casino owner or the gambler?  Anyway, the vast majority of people that got hit with hidden fees and higher interest rates  are now going to get hit with non-hidden fees with higher-but-not-quite-as-high-yet-so-you-can-put-it-off-until-it-is-as-high fees.  The banks now have to make up for their lost revenue from these regulations.  Many small companies couldn't even afford the changes to the system to keep their own credit card line open.  Did he (Obama) really think they would eat the losses?  Do any of them think they can regulate all the holes and make everyone money at once?  I already had to close one bank account because of the fees (I used it as a 3rd bank for small things and management).  I think we'll move toward local banks and credit unions again but not in a smooth fashion as it should have happened.  We're on borrowed money just hoping to not wake up.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Things I know at 30 + 1 month

I've been around for 30 years and a month now.  I've come to realize there are many things in which I'll never understand and/or know.  I don't know how parents could sell their children for money for a video game.  I can not comprehend anyone that takes innocent lives of others and feels proud about it.  I'm not sure where the line is that determines where we are destroying the earth and not just living on it, but it's all good because this is a list of things that I know.  I (as I'm sure mostly everyone feels) do my best to keep an open mind for all topics, but for the following I'm done.  These things I'm sure of:
  • Kids are tough but well worth it 

This one doesn't apply to all, but for me nothing has been as satisfying as bringing 2 (at least for now) kids into this crazy world.  Our oldest isn't even 2 yet but I'm still sure on this topic.  Every day is an adventure and seeing the world through there eyes is amazing.  My wife is incredible and it shows when dealing with two little ones in diapers.  I feel we've learned more about ourselves and each other than we every could have without them.  There is so much to look forward too and so many things I want to show/teach them.

  • Baby powder really is great for removing sand

I believe this was on lifehacker recently but I had never known this trick.  After our beach days now before getting in the car I douse everyone with the stuff.  I guess because it is so fine it is no match for the sand - which easily wipes right off after the powder is applied.  Love it, especially when dealing with diapers.

  • We can't spend more than we take in indefinitely

I won't get deep into my political journey over the past 5 years or so, but I've tried to assume the best 'ideas' lie somewhere in between the two major parties.  Both sides feel they are right, so it makes logical sense to guess that perhaps both are right on certain topics.  That journey, while entertaining, appeared it could go on forever; recently however I've lost interest in any of the topics.  I just don't want them to screw it up to the point where the country will never be the same.  I don't care if they spend every dollar (minus the interest they have to pay on the debt - and the promised Social Security money) on a bridge to a massive yacht where they party all day - just don't buy two yacht's or 10 bridges if you can only afford 1.  I really don't care. None of it will matter.
We are faced with perhaps the most important financial moment in our history.  For far too many years we've rode Bretton Woods and the print money/credit card mentality.  We probably only haven't defaulted because China doesn't want to admit that 40% (guess) of their wealth is not worth anything.  So many still blame Bush - yet their beloved big 'O' would have done all the same things; in fact he did.  He voted on most of the same huge bills the same side as Bush.  Obama has proven to be the worst side of the Repubs plus the worst side of the Dems combined.  Even though very little of this is his fault in the grand scheme, he couldn't be a worse leader at this time.
Back to his speech tonight.  He quoted Ronald Reagan:

"Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment? And I think I know your answer."

3 points that bother me here: 
  1.  Ask for more money when you prove you can spend only what you take in.  Until then it is a fact you will just spend that much more.
  2. Tax reform is the word you are looking for big man. 'paying their fair share' The top 10% of income earners pay roughly 70% of all taxes. Close the loopholes yes (top businesses shouldn't have hundreds of people who's sole job is to dodge taxes), but take the money from the people that are the best at creating non-temporary good-for-the-economy jobs to give it to the least efficient place one could every put money - no. Even at that if you paid your own bills I'd be open for debate.
  3. In 2001 the government ran on $3.4 trillion - you are going to tell me that in 2011 with virtually no inflation, with the country needing to tighten it's belt more than ever in its history, that $4.5 trillion is an impossible number to hit. Wow.

  • Soccer needs to change some rules
I've tried world.  I've tried many times to enjoy watching the game everyone else watches, but the sad truth is the US has it right - Soccer is just boring.  I understand how 'sacred' the sport is.  I understand how many millions play it around the entire globe, but all sports need tweaks over time - especially those played a lot.  Everyone wants to win, so the more the game is played the more the 'advantages' are explored.  If they never added a shot clock to basketball it too would be boring to watch.  Baseball had four strikes.  Football had a field goal in the field.  One goal is so important in Soccer that diving has become roughly half of the skill of the sport.  Hockey is low scoring, but there are 40 shots on net and constant scoring chances.  One can look away from a soccer game for an hour and not miss a thing.  Get rid of offsides - boom much better game to watch. Saying the rules can never be adjusted is basically claiming the sport was created by gods. 
Update: I did just google to find out some rules have changed.  Most seem minor, but I guess all I can confirm to know is that I'll never enjoy watching it more than the 4 majors here.

  • Abortion is wrong
I remember sitting in a history class at a young age going over the Civil War and slavery.  It was beyond obvious how bad slavery was.  We had matured past that.  No one would question if it was right ever again.  It was hard to believe there was every a time that even one person would believe it was right (granted this is the north east part of the country).
A recent post around the web reads:
Don't like gay marriages? Don't get one. . . . . Don't like cigarettes?  Don't smoke them. . . Don't like abortions? Don't get one. . . . .  Don't like sex? Don't have it. . . . .  Don't like drugs? Don't do them. . . . .  Don't like porn? Don't watch it. . . . .  Don't like alcohol? Don't drink it. . . . .  Don't like guns? Don't buy one. . . . .  Don't like your rights taken away??? Don't take away someone else's.

I don't want people taking away my rights and freedoms.  I won't go line by line there, but there is a big issue I have with people whom feel that way about abortion.  YOU ARE TAKING AWAY THE LIFE OF ANOTHER.  How about their right?  It doesn't matter when you do it, there is no other way (yet) to enter this world.  If you purposely stop that process because you feel you have the right to choose you are in the wrong.  Your choice was made.  There is nothing we as human being can do that is more miraculous and more important.  I am so struck by abortion being 'normal' nowadays I can't put it to words all that well.  The levels in which this is worse than slavery are brutally obvious.  Our generation thinks it better to not have been born than have been waterboarded. Some think they are doing the kid a favor.  I guess the extreme greenies should be happy because of all the CO2 we're stopping from ever happening - can you imagine if one of them grew up to drive an SUV!!!  Multiply that by millions and millions.  Gees.  Rationalize it any which way - we have some built-in basic right/wrong switches.  You don't come home after one feeling proud of something.  People don't go around bragging to friends/relative about how many they've had (I seriously hope not).  Why?  I'll let you in on it - because it is wrong.  We know it is wrong.  We color it nicely, give it a politically correct name, do it in groups, we have books of excuses, we hold hands before and after it - wait, wait for it, yup still wrong.  18 years later do people walk around going, dang I'm glad I had that abortion, psssh.
A huge chunk of us wouldn't be here if Roe V. Wade was 30 years prior.  A massive amount of us.  Would this place really be better without you? You wouldn't even get the chance to know.  I suppose medicare wouldn't be so much % of gov spending.  I'd rather be born in the worst place on the earth and have a chance to live than none at all.  I could go on and on. This is something I know to be wrong.  Maybe one of the few that I'm 100% on.  It won't change in another 30 years - not because I'm not open minded, but because it is wrong.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hawk at HC

Hard to see him, but above the door the Hawk was going for his lunch the same time as me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Rock in a Decade?!

For 10 years I had XM radio in my car (1999-2009). Where I could choose from hundreds of Indie/Rock stations - now as I drive to work without it I've found any sort of variety to be completely gone - namely anything Rock appears to be dead. Here is how I concluded this:

  • I've heard the exact same song on two stations at the exact same time! Ok, no big deal, but when one station is 'soft rock' and the other is 'jammin hip hop' something is wrong.
  • If you look up Rock and top sellers on iTunes you'll find all old rock. 10 years of music and 'Kings of Leon' and 'Switchfoot' appear to be 50% of rock bands/songs.
  • WBCN was the only rock station that played new stuff, punk stuff, a wide range of the RadioHeads, Smashing Pumpkins, etc... WAAF hasn't changed in a decade (minus Cage the Elephant or whatever their name), but to their defense there is nothing new to play.
  • It is not possible to drive for an hour without hearing 1 of 4 songs (katy, rhinna, bruno, pink). In fact, you'll probably hear all 4 and 1 of them twice.

Perhaps Idol is somewhat to blame - for 9 years all that mattered is being able to sing. Music itself will be written for you later. I do prefer when people make it from nothing, and I'd rather someone who can really sing get the spotlight; however does anyone make it from a real garage band anymore? I guess I'm just getting old, but the music nowadays seems so disposable and copied. Even sadder is when teens don't even realize that Kayne's songs are old songs just re-made.