My Name Is Bonds, Eurobonds

About the pics. A screenshot of a German news program showing how it can turn something un-understandable into something less-understandable…? A screenshot from the same German news program of… wait for it… aghast… Peter Gauweiler.

The thing that intrigued me while getting a rare dose of German TV news yesterday, albeit via its website (and not by traditional TV reception), was when ARD (or was it ZDF? Not that it matters, as they’re both the same nationalist newz $hit!) reported on a recent Eurobond scam and subsequent lawsuit by a bunch of right-wing German politicians suing the ECB. The lawsuit made it to the German high court, which just recently provided its ruling. In short, the ruling goes something like this: a bunch of $hitbag, smart-arse bankers took a bit of politics into their own hands and thereby forced public monetary policy in the form of so-called quantitative easing on various indebted EU countries and by doing so have possibly acted, according to the German Constitution, unconstitutionally.

Way to go bankers plus right-wingers which can only equal fascism. Or?

But here’s my thing with yet another Eurobond scam as it makes its way through the fake (or real) newz that seems to always avoid what real, aka reality could actually be. As bad as it is that high-finance has replaced all other industry as a driver of life, liberty and the FREEDOM TO BE STUPID (or as the French may call it: égalité) in the western world, aka Neoliberalism, why is it that this behaviour (high-finance behaviour) is only called-out by right-wing politicians? I mean, as I was watching the newz on this issue, trying with all my worst-might to intellectual grasp what the fcuk a bond actually is, Peter Gauweiler appeared on the screen (see pic of white guy above). Gauweiler is an obvious bright-star in the modern German political scene that is getting shit done (sarcasm off). Or?

The court thus sided with several groups of plaintiffs including economist and former far-right AfD leader Bernd Lucke as well as Peter Gauweiler, a former senior member of Bavaria’s conservative CSU party. –Source

According to the above quote, the lawsuit was filed by right-wing politicians that are obviously against their beloved Germania financially propping up less fortunate EU countries because, well, Germania and its economic prowess shouldn’t be propping up less fortunate EU countries. I don’t know you about you, dear worst-reader, but this sounds a lot like that blowhard from the UK, Nigel Farage, and, perhaps not unlike what’s been going on in the EU anyway for sometime, is an indication of how other countries may or may not start their own version of Brexit-like political antics. I mean. Again. I’m not actually all that preoccupied with things like Brexit or EU quantitive easing, but when I do fall into it, as I did last night watching the newz with my better-half, somethings do get under my gander. For. Don’t you know. Keep in worst-mind, dear worst-reader. At best, high-finance is amusing (to me) because of how it elevates what otherwise would be very mediocre men to positions in life that can only resemble Icarus having found a way to subvert the sun melting wax wings1. At worst, this level of trickery, shenanigans and corpo-giggles, should scare people so much that, well, shouldn’t someone protest or something? But I die-gress.

And so. I’m torn, dear worst-reader. Where do I go with the diametric worst-thoughts this issue gives to my worst-brain? Worst thoughts such as: banks plus (right-wing) politicians equal fascism. So. Like. Or…

How come no left-wing organisation would sue the ECB for this krapp? Does this mean left-wingers are too stupid to grasp the ramifications of establishing a legal precedence and thereby, perhaps, hindering the EU’s ability to deal with so much financial chaos in the future? WTF, left-wingers!

The worst-thing about high-finance and a world run by compulsive behaviourists, is how the world they make and live in and thrive in is ultimately nothing but a $hitshow of greed. That worst-said, as bad as I am with all-things numbers, I’m even worse when it comes to understanding the world of high-finance. Nor am I all that interested in fully understanding what a Bond is. Then again, I would also never NEVER get lost in the slime, exotic world of gambling. And ain’t that actually what high-finance is these days? I mean, what the f is a bond? Isn’t it just money that someone prints and then lends out, someone else buys it and then spreads it out… like in a casino? And while I’m at it, what the f is a short or a put and why is that large breasted red-head woman staring at me just before I roll these dice down the craps-table while the dealer is winking at me?

Oh well.

Good luck German suckers as your right-wing politicians sue their way into power–or the hearts of your idiot voters while they’re being tickled at the craps table you’all call a country.

Or maybe not.

Rant on.

-T

Links:
https://www.dw.com/en/fight-over-ecb-bond-buying-returns-to-german-court/a-19050494
https://www.dw.com/en/top-german-court-says-ecb-bond-buying-scheme-partially-contravenes-the-law/a-53333374
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/05/eurobonds-austerity-coronavirus-covid-eurozone-eu
https://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/ezb-anleihekaeufen-urteil-die-seltsame-machtdemonstration-der-verfassungsrichter-a-43f7cba5-a465-4d17-adc3-f455aafbcf41


  1. Which means these men have only found a way to nullify an otherwise great ancient metaphor that provides wisdom to life, liberty and égalité. But die-gress. ↩︎

Speculators Be Hanged?

Speculators at megabanks or investment firms such as Goldman Sachs are not, in a strict sense, capitalists. They do not make money from the means of production. Rather, they ignore or rewrite the law—ostensibly put in place to protect the vulnerable from the powerful—to steal from everyone, including their shareholders. They are parasites. They feed off the carcass of industrial capitalism. They produce nothing. They make nothing. They just manipulate money. Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged. -Chris Hedges

Source: Truthdig

Hyperlink in quote from moi.

The First Casualty Of The War Of The Lie Of Your Mind On Steroids Times 65 Gazillion But Don’t Worry Your House Of Cards Is Still Standing

What is the first casualty of war, dear worst-reader? That’s right. The truth. Ever wonder how all those bankers, especially the pions that do all the work for banks and Wall Street, how they think about the lies they are telling? Obviously they justify what they do with the knowledge that they are, indeed, at war. Ever see traders trade on the floor of a stock exchange? Ever have trouble paying your mortgage? Ever wonder why you’re kids will have even less than you? It’s kinda like war. Am I wrong?

In order to get one of those jobs on either Wall Street or whatever surrogate Wall Street city around the world, you have to have the credential of an edumacation. If that’s the case, what are all those pions thinking based on that expensive edumacation as they  tell lies, make lies, lying, lying, lying? The answer? Nothing. They are either living the WAR dream or they are out to coffee. The only thing their edumacation taught them was to NOT think (for themselves) and then behave to the point of having a compulsive disorder. It’s called a career. A career at war for peace?

Orwell anyone? Nomatter.

There is one thing that gets under my gander when thinking about the mess I have to live in that is the byproduct of a financialized (speculative) world. At the end of 2007, as banks were on the verge of world-wide collapse and the US government decided to intervene in their demise and save them by further looting the US treasury (not unlike it had already been looted to make war mongers even richer by fighting empire protecting oil wars), what were these banks doing that got them into such trouble? The answer: debt. But I don’t want to get into that here. It’s a big can of worms to open, this thing called debt. What I want to get into is one of the minor details of the fail-upward world that is present day #americant, #eurowasteland, etc.

When the US government let Lehmann Brothers fail, it did so because, of all the banks that were complicit in the mess, Lehmann was the one with the most lies to be revealed. Those lies had to be protected at all costs. At least that’s my best guess as to why the US government bailed out Goldman Sachs instead. (Other than the fact that Lehmann didn’t have as many cronies working in revolving-door government.) But what are the lies that Lehmann Brothers told? My worst-guess is, they lied about everything. No. Seriously. EVERYTHING. Where Goldman & Co (and all other banks that were bailed out) lied about (let’s say) half of their business, Lehmann lied about everything. In fact, their business was the lie. If Lehmann would have failed under out-of-control circumstances, i.e. the economy would have crashed after dipshit Dubya left office and the funny man with the big ears took over, then the lies that made up so much of bank’s businesses would eventually have to be revealed. Indeed. The government bail out of fail-upward banks was literally a culling of the herd–to protect the rest–and to make sure there is no truth.

Which brings me to Wells Fargo. I follow this bank once-a-once by reading through my news feeds. I do so because this is the most interesting lie-bank that’s out there right now. The other week headlines appeared about WF but this time it wasn’t about just a few million fake accounts, which is the scandal they’ve been involved in for years. This time it was about how the first lie wasn’t enough. That is the lie wasn’t big enough. They needed a way to increase the lie. Only in #americant, eh baby.

But before I’m off topic.

The original number of fraudulent bank accounts at WF was X. Or was it? Actually the real number is Y. Y is at least double that of X. And now let me bring this worst-post back to Lehmann Brothers and the great recession/crash of 2007. To me, dear worst-reader, WF is not unlike LB (Lehmann Brothers). The difference is, the government can’t make WF collapse overnight and then just go away (which is exactly what it did with LB). The reason WF can’t collapse overnight is because, well, it’s actually a retail bank and there are a lot of people that have bank accounts with them and there are laws that protect those account holders. Which was not the case for the suckers at LB. Oh wait. Another reason WF can’t just be made to disappear. One of its largest stock holders is Warren Buffet.

As it turns out, the initial number of bank accounts that Wells Fargo lied about–that they created out of the blue in order to fraudulently increase their fees–has to be at least doubled. This is the same truth of, say, all banks on Wall Street–that the powers-that-be don’t want people to see. All of these banks who provide the lie of consumption and the reality of austerity, globalisation, etc., via credit and debt, especially those suckers in my beloved #americant, exist on a foundation that is a house of cards.

But I guess, since you probably have a college degree, you already knew that.

Now go buy something.

Rant on.

-T

Links that motivated this post:

Article About The Big Short Is Short

credit cards

The good thing is, I read the book. The bad thing is, I’m still waiting for someone to address the unspoken reality of where the world is today regarding banking and finance and, of course, the (unending) great recession. The thing that gets me is that every time I read something about The Big Short (movie) or the problems of the banking industry I have to smirk and giggle. I cannot believe that no one has written about what’s really going on. Ok. Ok. I’m sure the book as been written. Hopefully someday I’ll find it. Until then I can only go with what I’ve got–as pretentious as that may be. With that in mind, I’ll assume the movie version of The Big Short is at least as accurate as the book. Based on that, here’s a summary of the ship we’re all aboard.

  • Banking is in full collusion with government.
  • Compensation of bankers is no different than hush-money.
  • What’s behind the revolving door between the SEC and bank board rooms should be as scary as the threat of nuclear war or terrorism.

The lack of action on the part of politicians should be an indication of how deeply embedded the problem really is. But, I suppose, in the end it doesn’t matter if someone writes the right book which then can be made into a movie by bored, rich actors so as to give them (and their lives) a feeling of worth and value. (Just have a look at who produced The Big Short.) The simple fact remains: the ship has sailed and the only destination available for it is tragedy. Some might even say that we’ve long since landed on tragedy. But I don’t think that’s the case. Tragedy is out there but it’s still far off as the world enjoys its love-boat. Indeed. The world and the crisis we are in is simply not bad enough to make anything happen that could force a correction. The idear of a forced correction alone is worth writing a book about. Seriously. A phoenix can’t rise if the whole shebang hasn’t burnt to ash. Or? Oh well. As usual, I’m off subject.

The article below is a winded one. I mean, it’s really, really long. And you know what it says? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But it also says a lot of nothing. And as I read through it I couldn’t help–between all the snickers and giggles–to keep whispering out loud: boy am I happy that I don’t have a thing vested in this system. I also would whisper: man, all those people vested in this system are fucked. Because of the carnal aspect of what’s going on these days, it’s not possible for something to come about that could/would correct the dead ship to tragedy we’re riding. The reality is this: everything being done by government and banks is for the sole purpose of keeping the ship afloat–not changing its direction. And get this: a change in direction would mean a change in those aboard. And so. When ever I come across an article like the one below I hope to come across at least a minor mention of where change could begin. But, as usual, I’m always disappointed.

Rant on. -Tommi

Link that motivated this post:

Repeating History Because You Like How It Tickles

Time to celebrate. Break out the bubbly, the cheese & crackers, turn on the game, crack open that can of rice beer. And what is it we celebrate? Well. What is about to happen, dear worst-reader, is more than just a new year. To (y)our joy this is a year just like the last and the last before it and the last before it. And what ties every year together? 2016 will bring just as much truth that 2015 brought and 2014 before it and 2013 before it, and so on and so on and so on. Yes, the truth is here. But that’s not what we’re celebrating. No. We’re celebrating another year after another year after another year of avoiding truth. Some like to call it avoiding the mirror. But I’m not one for mincing words–at least like I mince meat. Indeed. And so. We are once again at the truth. It is right in front of us. And do we see it? Of course not. At the least, I, worst-writer, have tried to put it out there. Just have a look here. Yes. I’ve tried in vain to articulate in the worst-way possible anything akin to truth, albeit Tommi’s worst-truth. And what is that truth? Well, it goes something like this: you are fucked. I don’t mean that in a literal way, although for some it would be welcome. No. This form of being fucked has nothing to do with the tingling and pleasure grinding that remakes you, your parents and every other lost soul that has walked this jungle of consume to survive. No. This form of being fucked has more to do with payback, revenge, vengeance. Yet when worst-writing about such acts one can only wonder who is the one doing the payback? Well, the answer is easy because it is yet another part of the truth avoided. For you see, dear worst-reader, the truth is simple. The thing fucking you is the past. And not just any past. It is not an infinite past. It is a not-so distant past that has found a way to rear its head out of its smelly coffin. It’s still wearing jewelry, a necktie and even a pocket watch. It’s tophat no longer fits on its flaky skull, though. But tophats are neither here nor there. Eh? If you haven’t guessed who or what this past is, then I reckon I should just come out and tell you. It is the past of your great grandparents, the near past of your country, where tophats are common place amongst the grinding folk of Greed’s yesteryore. Indeed. For you must realize eventually, dear worst-reader, that the comings and goings of your country–that place you so mistakenly love without condition(s)–is ramping-up yet another assault on you. You know what assault I’m worst-writing of, don’t you? I know it’s hard for you. But you must (eventually) try (to look around). All it takes to wake-up from the dream that is your nightmare is to try (and look around). You will see how and who is fucking you so royally into oblivion. Your sweet-lie that is the middle class has been decimated. The poor have finally washed their last dish–there is no more chance to being a millionaire. (Boy, I particularly loved that lie we were fed: dishwasher to millionaire.) Or maybe not. Yeah. Forget all that. It’s end of year buying season. Go buy something. Or. Maybe. Have a look at the commencement speech above. It’s from the guy who “bet against America” because he was able to see the truth. Yes. He was able to see your truth. He was able to see how (y)our past reared its ugly Greed face and took over everything. Greed is a vindictive bastard, eh! That Greed face told you to buy and buy and buy–nomatter what–and you abided. You bought and you bought and bought more. And when there was no more money to buy with you borrowed and you borrowed and you financed and you financed. And now that the bottom has fallen out and your pants have been hanging at your ankles for so long you can’t tell anymore the difference between penetration, violation and procreation. Yeah. You are fucked. And with that in mind. Even though buying season is almost over, it doesn’t matter. The first thing you’ll do as the year changes to the next is what did previously and what you family did previously. All because you can’t see the truth. Or maybe not. Nomatter. Good luck suckers. Rant on. -Tommi

Buffoons Ticking On And On And On

What’s to be done when everything is leveraged? Where does one go when margins are so thin? How do you get credit when all there is is debt? How do you get water from a rock? The answer to these and many other questions, dear worst-reader, is simple. You mis-manage your company like no other. You mis-manage everything and blame someone else (for it). You hire college grads who have been trained to the highest levels of mis-management. You are a crony organisation, you are a cancer–but so is everything else. And. You are General Motors. GM has to be one of the worst run companies in human history–yet it ticks on and on and on. A company that was bailed out in 2008/9 to the tune of (insert # here) billion dollars. Ralf Nader says GM was given $50billion from the US government. The money was part of TARP. Most of that money, btw, was not used to help the factories of GM, which are practically non existent in the US anyway. Nor was it used to prop up worker salaries or even management salaries. No. The money was used–and is still being used–to maintain the financial-isation of GM which emulates the financial-isation of #americant post Ronald Reagan. That financial-isation, basically, is one thing and one thing only: Debt. Which means, even though GM sells millions and millions of cars every year, it cannot manage its way out of the mess it’s gotten itself into by following and wallowing in the greed culture that is Reagan’s #americant. As bad as that sounds, GM is in the news now for having to pay a fine of $900 million to the US government because it built cars, knowingly, with faulty parts that supposedly lead to the deaths of hundreds of customers. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Pause. Swallow. Clear throat. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not laughing at the death of anyone. But I am laughing at the idear that GM cannot die. On top of that, where do you think the fine-money GM is paying is gonna go? As Ralph Nader nails it, the money is nothing but…

“The government gets the $900 million, which is like a drop in the bucket for GM. By the way, that money really is tax money recycled. GM, from the bailout, still has billions of dollars of taxpayer money in its treasury.” -Ralph Nader

Wow. This is one of the world’s largest companies and it’s managed by buffoons. Yet it ticks on and on and on. I guess part of all that ticking is the reality that buffoons feed off of buffoons. This is how the world ticks, baby.

Rant on. -t

Links that motivated/helped with this post:

Continue reading “Buffoons Ticking On And On And On”

Deregulate That Fraud Baby!

Once again, just like here, Michael Hudson nails it–and his book, Killing the Host, is going on my to-read list. Allow me to quote (or is this called transcribe?) the part from the interview in the above vid that really struck me.

“They make their money for the same reason they’ve paid billions in civil fines–not criminal fines for the fraud. It used to be that Chase (Bank) made money by getting deposits at a low rate and lending them out a higher rate. But now what they do is they create credit for junk mortgages and they don’t even hold the mortgages. They find suckers to sell (the junk mortgages) to, like the German Landesbanks, pension funds, and anyone who will buy these junk mortgages. And it turns out that all of these (junk mortgages) are a fraud and  that Alan Greenspan came in to deregulated fraud. So now, essentially, the fraud sector is part of the financial sector.”

But there is one worst-thought that I wish to add to this (mess). Obviously Michael Hudson is telling the truth here. But I have the following question regarding financial fraud and debt deflation. It’s one thing to remind us that a German Landesbank could be the sucker of whatever side of the trade wall-street put together before and after the subprime crisis and the great recession that started in 2007. This type of financial activity goes on everyday and it looks like the near and far future will only expand upon this activity. Yet, someone has to be sold these mortgages that are ultimately bundled together into what are known as derivatives. Who is that “someone”? Well, if you think you can tolerate my skeptic, cynical mindset, here’s an answer–and I think I may have tried to allude to this in other worst-posts (see tags). As bad as wall-street is, I’m not sure it’s the one to blame–which is so much of what the interviewer alludes to in the video. I mean, as much as I admired the occupy movement, there was one thing that held me back from supporting it fully. And it goes something like this. Any citizen of the US that can’t pay off his/her consumer debt (that is, debt that excludes a car or a mortgage–because these things are part of necessity and not want) within thirty days is complicit and is also practically aiding & abetting the banks by supplying endless amounts of debt. I mean, who is to say that all of these derivatives, with their credit default swap tranches, subprime technicalities, junk this or that, etc., aren’t really just a way for the powers-that-be to hide the fact that #americant screwed the pooch after it won the cold war? There was obviously a choice of direction #americant could have taken once the soviet union fell. We chose the wrong one. On top of that Americans, post the lie of Reaganomics, exist because of debt–we all know that. No one would have their house, the jewelry, their cars, EVERYTHING, without being indebted to it all. Hence, maybe someone should be thanking the banks for preventing a crash similar to the great depression (at the end of the dipshit dubya bush administration). Or maybe not. What the fuck do I care. All I know is that I’ve been debt-free my entire adult life. Proud of it, too. Good luck (debtor) suckers. And. Rant on. -t

Swap Your En-Tities

debt freedomWorst-words of the day, dear worst-reader…

Prohibition Against Federal Government Bailout of Swap Entities

As stated here, Elizabeth Warren is a maverick. She is indeed doing her best to do something about something. But what is that something, dear worst-reader? Well, let’s give it a shot and try to tell what that something is. In short, it’s debt. #americant is awash–not unlike its awash in oil right now–in debt. It is the single most important thing that all #americants should be direly concerned about. I mean, it’s really, really, really kinda important. In fact, it’s so important that #americants should start thinking about who they are going to sell their children to when the debt-reaper comes calling. Have I made that clear? Hope so. Now. With that said, what the hell are “swap entities“? As you can tell from the links below, it’s pretty easy to say the words, but to explain what it is is a whole other story. But I’m going to try, only as worst-writer can, to do just that. A worst-simpler way. Ready? Here we go.

You are fucked!

How’s that? Simple enough? Does that about sum it up? I think it does. But incase you still don’t get it, I’ll just go ahead and worst-write about it a little more. Because I’m actually enjoying watching all this from 30k feet. Yeah, that’s about where I am. Way up there in the sky and there’s no clouds blocking this worst-view below me. And, dear worst-reader, it’s all quite entertaining–especially Elizabeth Warren. Now don’t get me wrong. I vote Democrat. I’m a liberal. I do not like the current iteration of Republicanism and I particularly despise political conservatism. Conservatism is the root of #americant. Also, to me, so-called libertarianism is just another word for coward. And as far as krapp like the tea-party is concerned… wow. Now. With that cleared up, why am I worst-laughing at Warren’s efforts?

The answer is simple. #americants are stupid. And the best thing about being stupid, you don’t even know it. #americants are so stupid that we can’t see through the bullshit a good-meaning senator spews forth. (And bless her humble soul for trying.) But I guess that’s all a-given–because #americants are destined to live out the remaining days of a waning empire in that grand old saying: ignorance is bliss. For you see, a swap entity is nothing more than debt. It could, under other circumstances, be somethings else. But right now, it’s just good old fashioned debt. The reason Wall Street and Jamie Dimon have pushed this new poison-pill–i.e. Prohibition Against Federal Government Bailout of Swap Entities–into the current spending bill, which basically finances the military for 2015, is that if it doesn’t, the stupid people that are just as much the cause of all problems as the banks, will go bust. It’s really that simple. But let me try and put it another way.

When the US government was called by Wall Street to bail out the entire system that crashed in 2007, basically what it did was cover all the debt-bets Wall Street had been doing for umpteen years. 2007 was just the culmination of #americants voting their idiocy since, gee, Ronald Reagan–the actor!–sold the country for a peanut to the elites–which of course the idiots loved him for. Of course, the grand savior, Bill Clinton, didn’t help the situation by NOT vetoing the conservative agenda that lead to the repeal of Glass-Steagall. But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, Wall Street, along with #americants, especially those who are perpetually in debt in order to consume-to-survive, are in this boat together. The question then is, when will it sink?

No. It won’t sink. Well. At least it won’t sink if Jamie Dimon gets his way. And this is where I have to go against Dems and Warren. Again, what is a swap entity? Yes, it is debt. But what kind of debt? Here’s where things get complicated. Let me try to put it this way. You have a container, something like a purse or bag or a box. This container is capable of holding parts of a financial balance sheet, you know, the asset and liability sides of doing business. Now. The business we’re worst-writing about here is the business of running a country. A country, for reasons well documented, that has lost most of what it used to be, i.e. manufacturing, productivity, innovation, etc. Since it lost so much it had to find other things to replace those losses. Since we already know that #americant is full of really, really stupid people, it’s then not difficult to understand that in order for #americant to replace its losses with something else, it would choose replacements not out of innovation but out of the past. Specifically, #americant has chosen to repeat history. More specifically, as of 2007, #americant is basically–financially speaking–where it was just prior to the Great Depression. Ironically this is where Glass-Steagall came from, which has since been repealed because of that which makes #americants so stupid: political conservatism. But I digress.

If your business is running a country that is based on financial speculation (real estate, stock market, interest rates, etc.) and everybody–EVERYBODY– has bought into the game, well, it’s then no wonder that when the debt-reaper comes calling, like it did in 2007, someone has to pay. Elizabeth Warren & Friends seem to think that Wall Street and the likes of Jamie Dimon should be the ones to pay. But the problem is, other than the amount of money they have, Wall Streeters are no different than Joe-Blow who owes on his second or third house and the yacht he bought with an equity loan or the numerous credit cards he has that are tapped out in revolving accounts s/he never pays off. Indeed, dear worst-reader. Everybody has to pay their debts. Now. Back to swap entities.

Most of #americants debt problems come from the fact that the only part of the balance sheet that is used today is the liability side. Hence, using some tricky-dicky-trickery, banks have been breaking up those liabilities and putting them into fancy containers, i.e. purses, boxes or “entities”. These containers are then bought and sold, traded and “swapped” among the financial go-getters–you know, all the fancy-pants nut-jobs that work for Wall Street who should really be used-car salesmen. For umpteen years now this level of debt trickery is what has held #americant together. It is the basis on which everything–EVERYTHING–functions. All the productivity that remains in the country functions because of debt trickery. For example. The only way big-budget, $100+m movies can get made is if a bond (another word for debt) is sold. The only way GM can pay its employees and suppliers is if it takes a loan, i.e. debt, to do so. And the list goes on. Of course, the saddest part about all this debt trickery, which Wall Street maintains, is that the debt #americants have accumulated for fighting wars of lies isn’t even on the debt charts yet. Go figure.

With all that in worst-mind. Good luck suckers.

Rant on.

-Tommi

Links:

What’s At Stake in Swaps Market | WSJ

E. Warren Rips Citigroup | HuffPost

Who's Your Sovereign

What astonishes you, dear worst-reader? I can tell you what astonishes moi. When words and meaning spoken connect. In other words, hypocrisy among the ruling classes is obvious. But when that hypocrisy is revealed and/or admitted to–especially by one of the rulers–well, it’s time to take a step back. Politics, international banking, high-stakes finance, etc., all have a treasure trove of hypocrisy. That’s why this is a moment to cherish. For hypocrisy has been blatantly revealed by the hypocrite(s).

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchener of Argentina: “It’s the first time in the history of the Paris Club that a country in our conditions has negotiated with a multilateral body without the intervention of the International Monetary Fund, and without giving up the autonomy that a sovereign country should have, and which reveals to us that when we’re allowed to grow, when we’re allowed to develop our own policies, that when we’re allowed to generate jobs and employment, the conditions exist to honor one’s commitments and take charge of its debt. We’re not, as the vultures say, serial debtors. They, the international financial capitalists, are serial predators not just on our economy but of many economies in the world.”

In case you missed the essence, here it is shortened and slightly paraphrased: “without giving up the autonomy of a sovereign country Argentina will now pay for its debt that was incurred because richer countries exploited us and that’s handy-dandy and Otto Kraus A-O-K.” Argentina’s leader is admitting that The World Bank, IMF and The Paris Club have been robbing sovereign nations of their sovereignty. Ok. Ok. I’m not (that) naive. Of course countries like Argentina have been treated poorly by richer nations. But that’s somehow not the point when words like the above are spoken in public. Any person who’s put a bit of effort into understanding world affairs knows that countries get dupped. That bigger, richer countries exploit smaller, poorer countries. But when was the last time one of the smaller, poorer countries actually called out and named the hypocrisy? When I heard the words from the newz clip below and that they were actually spoken by the head of a so-called nation-state I cringed, stood still, checked the ground beneath me. And. While streaming the broadcast to my KitchenAppleTV, cleaning my boots, washing the pots and pans, buttering the fish for tonights grill and hoping that my home-made vodka-cherry-sorbet would ripen enough for the festivities, I stopped dead and waited for my brain to reboot. I grabbed the AppleTV remote and hit the pause button. Outside my kitchen window a classic BMW R/75 parked in front of the village Brotchen café. Time for a stiff drink even if it is ten thirty in the A-M.

Links:

Relevant part of vid starts at 2:14.

Good luck to all debtors and debtor-nations.

-Tommi

Hedonic Regression

Worst-word of the day, dear worst-reader. Hedonic regression. If I worst-understand it correctly, this is how the powers-that-be prevent a failed economy from actually collapsing–or at least preventing that economy from resorting to wheel-barrels full of cash to buy what used to be an already overpriced cup of coffee from a store that mimics hamburger franchising from the 1950s. That’s right, dear worst-Reader. We’re in spiraling inflationary times right now. And although hedonic regression is actually used to help determine the price of something, I’m wondering if it can also be used to hide the price of something. And while I’m thinking about spiraling lies of the mind…

Why is it that travel still sucks? I travel quite a bit. What shocks me about travel is that even after doing it for the past quarter century, nothing has changed about it. Seriously. Nothing has changed! Ok. Sure. There are these things. No smoking. (Sure took ’em long enough to get that thru, eh.) You get a shitty screen to watch shitty movies (but it’s all dertmined by the seat in front of you and whether or not comrade-in-flight thinks he’s in a recliner.) But I will give airlines and travel industry this: The one thing that has changed is that 25 years ago the stewards were all young. Now they’re old hags. Big fucking deal! A quarter century and that’s all we get? Seriously! NOTHING has changed about air travel in my life time.

Back to big herculean sounding words that force the moronic voters to avoid reality. The real catcher about the word Hedonic is that by itself it’s a pretty cool adjective. Just keep it away from it’s noun cousin.

Rant on.

-tgs-

Millenial Essence

Article to read and worst-write about:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-01-20/retail-death-rattle

Best worst-quote from above URL:

“The country is being kept afloat on an ocean of debt and delusional belief in the power of central bankers to steer this ship through a sea of icebergs just below the surface.”

There are moments, believe it or not, where even worstwriter, dear worst-reader, is astonished at how the platitudes, placative nature and vehemence can all combine so gallantly with willful ignorance, blind arrogance and the lust for bullshit. Which brings me to the worst-question motivated today: if there are people smart enough to write these kinds of articles (see URL above), how come they always seem to miss the essence of what they are addressing?

But worstwriter, what do you mean by “essence”?

Indeed. Worstwriter must take issue with zerohedge.com, a financial weblog penned mostly by the wondrous but invisible Tyler Durden. Durden, btw, is a character from a movie. And not just any character. Durden is the perverted alter-ego of a very confused and wannabe careerists automaton. But I suppose that’s neither here nor there. See the movie Fight Club. The article is not only over the top but it’s also under the bottom–so referencing ships at sea and the potential of icebergs is a mute issue. This weblog post is typical of the mentality of so many who are unable to grasp and cope with reality. I will go out on a worst-limb here, too. Usually the persons that can’t grasp the reality that they live in are those who participate in it (for whatever reason). A cruel irony, perhaps. And because of that Volk like Durden takes the point of view of the blame game–I’m sure much to the chagrin of his counterpart either from the book or the movie. (Again. That’s neither here or there.) There’s one thread, though, that permeates zerohedge.com and many bitch&moan weblogs out there: It’s called THE BLAME GAME. Oh yeah. That’s right. I said it.

The blame game is indeed that commonplace that so many pseudo-millennial-intellectuals meet these days in the land of the free-to-be-stupid. I’m so bored of people blaming consumption and the banks and the fed… Where the fuck were all these people (including millennials, x-geners, and late baby-boomers, i.e. all those participating in consume-to-survive society) twenty years ago?! Where were all these people when America decided to spend 2 trillion on wars (that no one has even begun to pay for yet)? Every-time I hear someone bitch about “the fed” I can’t help but giggle and picture all these people with their over-sized, over-expensive paper cups of mocca from evil-corporate overloard coffee brewers. With that in mind. Has anyone ever considered THE FACT that the current Fed-imposed inflation, which thereby diminishes earnings and living standards, is probably the only way to save the shebang from total collapse? And yet some one wants to bitch about retail space as though such a business endeavor in a sea of rotten business endeavors would actually make any difference? And so. Let’s get to the ESSENCE, dear wort-reader.

With a few more years of Federal Reserve and to-big-to-fail banking manipulation AND inflation maybe the US could finally begin the process of turning things around. Of course the real joke, on those who are incapable of grasping ESSENCE is this: It’s obvious that in this current economic situation no other country (like Russia or China or India or all of South America) sees the economic vacuum currently in place. Countries should be taking advantage of this and try moving ahead or at least catch up to the US and Europe. But everybody just sits around like they always have. Which brings worstwriter to yet another ESSENCE: human nature and the want of serfdom. There were and are ways to avoid the situation we are in but no one – NO ONE – is willing to make the political sacrifice.

Oh well. Blame iGadget, the Fed, retail space,… ESSENCE.

Whatever.

Rant on.
-TGS-

Trickle Fail Up

capitalism_not_quite

Is it fail upwards or is it trickle upwards? You know, the question that best represents where we are today in this dog eat ice cream but enjoy yourself anyway world? Wait. Or. Should the question be another question? Perhaps we should resort, dear worst-reader, to questions better fit for the norm? That is, let’s rephrase the question so that one can walk around a WalMart and ask: If everybody is a hoarder and everything is hoarded, what now? (Btw, wouldn’t you agree that a WalMart store is the perfect setting for such a question? Of course you would.)

Cenk at TYT really gets into it in the vid below. He explains how the beloved predatory capital dog has been abusing its owner. He explains in fairly simple terms (probably not simple enough to take to a Walmart shopping floor) how aluminium, oil and copper, as commodities, are being hoarded in order to manipulate prices. Now. This isn’t really anything new. For those not in the know, this type of top-of-the-heep behaviour is exactly what lead to the Boston Tea Party. And there’s the problem I have with how Cenk is doing this. People watching him might actually believe that what he says is something new, as though he found this out on his own, or with his TYT team. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m glad TYT and Cenk are doing what they’re doing. Except for one very important thing. By only telling Das Volk about the robbers won’t change the ways of those who don’t think they are being robbed. (And get this: those who are ignorant to being robbed, don’t care. Why? They want to become robbers. Now pack that in your suitcase and use it to figure out why so many Americans vote conservative.) And that holds true even if American’ts could save a measly $10 dollars with every tank full of gas. I wonder at times if Cenk is aware that he’s preaching to the minority or majority blissfully ignorant choir?

Oh. And something worst-else. By explaining and thereby simplifying this level of complexity to an audience that probably only knows how to consume-to-survive, he focuses on the wrong thing. It’s not the activity of the power-that-be that is the sole problem. In fact, he is deliberately missing the root of the problem by doing that (otherwise he wouldn’t have an audience). So let’s return to the idear of hoarding. Hoarding is what predatory capitalism has to resort to now that the western world’s industrial base has been eroded to the point of no return. And the irony is, hoarding is exactly what every individual has to resort to in order to consume-to-survive. And it’s not just the material that is hoarded. People hoard their work-cubicles, their cars and gadgets, their extended commutes to jobs they have only because thousands of others can’t have a job. Etc., etc. And so. It’s not just aluminium, oil, copper, banks and governments that are hoarding. Everyone is doing it in every aspect of life. “It’s mine! Not Yours!” And it’s game over for the dream. So it’s time to wake up. Go thank your baby-boomer parents for that. Now come down off your high horse. Better yet. Pick something to report about that the WalMart crowd can change first cause untill krapp like that changes it remains game-over.

Links:

Vid:

Rant on.

-tgs-

When Banks Ain't Banks

Subtitle: Irony, Government and the consequence of certain sexual activities that might influence politics.

This article is NSFW.

Something startled me recently. The other day I finally realized that I have been paying more and more attention to advertising. Not on TV, mind you. I don’t watch TV anymore. Instead, for more than two years, I’ve been watching nothing but podcasts and various other internet channels. It’s where I get my news and info about everything (because the Internets should also be synonymous with pick & choose). On top of that, over the past two years I’ve read a lot of books about the financial crisis. To me, this crisis was caused by a culmination of a few obvious factors: 1. a greed-mongering society; 2. combine that with a country that has an attention span of old man with full-blown dementia… And so, the advertisement that twisted my thoughts is from American Express. You know, that old cupcake of an American Corpo institution that you never leave home without. Or was that Diners Club? Nomatter. Since the Amex ad played several times during the podcast I was listening to (and since I was raised by that attention span deficit society) it took a while for me to finally catch-on to what it was saying. Here’s my catch-on reaction:

Wait. That’s an American Express ad for a new online retail banking service. Wait. American Express can’t be a retail bank. Oh, yes. Of course it can. Remember the Bush/Paulson TARP plan? Remember what a Bank Holding Company is as established by the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956? Wait. There’s something wrong here. Indeed, this is America, there is something tragically wrong when a loan shark institution like Amex can also be your friendly Internets neighborhood bank. On the other hand, I reckon that’s the progress the world must pay for to have the likes of fail upwards America running the show.

Afraid yet? Me either. So. Here a bit of worst-history to sweeten your doom. The Banking Act of 1933 (not the one of ’56 mentioned above) established what was considered to be a safe-guard against irresponsible bankers who had so easily caused the great depression of 1929. Out of this act came FDIC and Glass-Steagal. The first is a government backed insurance agency that most people are familiar with because of those big stickers on bank doors and drive-thru windows that complete the lie that your money is safe. Glass-Steagal was part of that same government trying to establish a wall between the irresponsible bankers and the common folk that were supposed to be holders of savings accounts, i.e. retail banks were separated from investment banks so that when banks fail, as is the case in 1929, depositors weren’t just left with shirts on their backs. Fairly easy to understand, eh? Wait. Hold a sec.

The Banking Act of 1933 worked fairly well up until 1999–even though there were a lot of banking acts in-between. One particular act stands out with gusto. I like to call it The Great Blowjob Act. This act was sponsored by a woman who doesn’t swallow in a hallway of The White House. But one more thing (or two) on acts before getting into blowjobs. Other than the FDIC, the most important part of The Banking Act of 1933 was Glass-Steagal. This act–post Blowjob Act–was repealed by the Gramm Leach Bliley Act of 1999. Got the chronology? Got the Acts?

Ok. The repeal of Glass-Steagal is probably the single most important banking act to occur since… Nomatter. It was fought over for years between conservatives (both Democrats and Republicans) and non-conservatives (mostly Democrats). With his questionable White House hallway behavior, the one Democrat that could maintain a non-conservative stance in the government regarding this very important law that would shape the near future, Clinton fell for the The Blowjob Act and then proceeded to brilliantly lie about it before a grand jury, subsequently compromising the only power he had to do one last worthwhile thing before his presidency ended. Literally caught in the act, he did not veto the bill that would allow 1929 to happen all over again. And that says a lot for two people getting it on in a hallway, she on her knees and he standing above as the commander and chief. I mean, other than running the free world and determining the financial future of countless useless-eaters, the image of Clinton blowing his goo on a blue dresses–an act among consenting adults, I might add–is a nice one. And since I’m being as honest as I can be here, the same image but with Hillary is nice, too. I mean, come on, the guy went from being a hick from Arkansas to the White House. There should be a door in that house to allow anyone in that wants to give… (See note at the end for more on blowjobs.)

Bill Clinton signed the Gramm Leach Bliley Act. With that, we have yet another government irony of epic proportions. From 1933 till 1999 banks were regulated so that they would, at least, separate securities and investments from simpleton depositors. This was a time in your consumer history where the only way for people to spend was if they used money they had on hand, of which there was none. The problem during that period was that the economy was at a stand still, it was stalled in post WW2 apathy. Since the men running the show were typically closeted conservatives, men who couldn’t imagine anything even if imagination pills were used to spike their highballs, there was nothing to be done. Of course, there was also the burden of things like the 1973 oil crisis, which practically choked the economy. But then something akin to a sucker-punch happened. Enter the era of political trickery, sodden ideology, the second face (as in two-face) of American’t conservatism. By 1982 Ronald Reagan and his beautiful lie of Reaganomics had arrived. For you see, the trickery that this man of a particular kind of imagination came up with was simple. It was basically this: let them eat cake… on credit. And with that, the floodgates opened wide. There was a way for rampent consumption to circumvent silly economic things like money supply, since at the time consumer credit wasn’t prevalent.

What Americans failed to realize every time they charged something or took an equity loan only to take on more debt was that banks, particularly the master-minds of Wall Street, were concocting limitless ways of manipulating outrageous profits from money that just wasn’t there. What was there, though, was an American population blinded by materialism and a willingness to live a life of debt, even though no one believed that that debt was directly connected to anything real. Hence America put a mediocre actor that played with Monkeys in his films and probably had Alzheimer’s since the age of 29 in the White House. Oh, the American way of life manifest in all things fictional and happy and shinny: ka-ching, baby, and put some mouse ears on that dream. Of course, if anyone thought that things were bad because of the flood doors opened up by Reagan, wait till the election year of 2000 rolls around.

Reaganomics lived on through presidents, that’s no secret. Then came Clinton who didn’t change things much but what he did change was enough to prevent most Americans from being able to wrap their limited attention spans around it. He would let consumers and the market do as they please but at the same time he would reduce the burden of debt of the government. Why conservatives who want small government don’t praise him for doing this is the best example yet proving how so many voters vote with bigotry and ignorance as their compass. Comparatively speaking, the amount of debt the US Government had when Clinton was finished with his second term, should go down in history as a miracle–especially compared to the free-for-all unleashed by Reaganomics. Yet, at best, such a miracle always seems to be nothing more than a footnote. Yeah, I reckon Americans are more obsessed with Clinton’s Blowjob Act, blue dresses and how much his wife was going to tolerate–or join–such behavior.

My guess is–and that’s really all this worst-post is, dear worst-reader–Bill Clinton, by giving in to the conservative politicians that were in the pockets of Wall Street, was a desperate man during the last year or two of his presidency. At the least, all he wanted was to find a way to save his House-impeached ass. And find a way Mr. Teflon did. Bill Clinton got away Scott-free with a Senate acquittal of a House impeachment for lying about his love of fellatio by interns, country-bumbkin cuties and potential centerfold playmates. And he did so by doing something that even the devil would think is an exaggeration above and beyond selling your soul.

Morally self-righteous and sexually repressed Americans had a political gabfest hating Bill Clinton–no matter what he had achieved. Practically speaking, he had done a pretty good job running a very corrupt government. Remember, presidents don’t make laws. The only thing presidents can do is veto a law. The rest is up to congress. The laws being made during the Clinton years were, especially those regarding the economy, all based on the lie that was Reaganomics. Obviously, Clinton had no friends among law makers. I’d like to think that, in some cases, he held out as long as he could and fought against reactionary law makers, but, in the end, again, the Pres. doesn’t make laws. And so, as only Clinton could, he faced up to the crazy, batshit, conservative congress–even while they were trying to crucify him. At times such persecution makes me wonder if Clinton signed Gramm Leach Bliley out of spite. Or, maybe, by the time it hit his desk, he just said: ah fuck it, if these dumb-ass voters keep voting in nutbag repubs to congress, what the hell am I supposed to do about nutbag laws! In the end, when everyone in the country could finally say fellatio at the dinner table, for which we should all be thankful, Billy-boy was left hangin’ naked and oiled–just the way he probably likes it. I mean, talk about leaving a man out in the cold–not that being in the cold would prevent him from having a raging hard-on the size of Florida.

But let me get back to epic government irony (and eventually to American Express’ advert that caught my eye). Enter Turdblossom Bush and his version of American fail upwardness. Bush, obviously, represented a culture that is obsessed with the past. He is his father’s son. He is, also, the embodiment of the baby-boomer generation that was incapable of understanding the tech boom (dot com boom). IMHO, dear worst-reader, it was the tech boom that could have carried the US economy into the future–which, it just so happens, was what The Great Blowjob Act president was all for. Instead, with Bush, that future would ride on war and oil just like the past. Way to go America. And so. Unable to fully liquidate the government surplus he inherited from Clinton, Bush received the greatest gift any president could wish for.

Bush’s gift came in the form of a green light to spend unabashedly to fight a new fictional enemy that would replace the one his generation and his kind was reared on. Ironically, the thing that ultimately brought down Soviet Communism wasn’t a better military or even a stronger economy. It was the fact that the Soviets could not take on the same amount of debt the US could. Literally, the Soviet Union crashed because the loan sharks didn’t give it enough credit. Try to get debt burdened Americans to think about that irony!

Ok. Obviously. 9-11 gave the paranoid and angst-filled boomer generation that Bush represented a new enemy that allowed it to continue with its addiction to debt in the form of massive government and military expansion, including fighting hellaciously expensive wars against people that barely have anything at all to fight with. Also, let’s not forget that a completely new bureaucratic government apparatus, establishment by the Patriot Act, executed by homeland security, needs to be financed. Of course, you are told that these acts are about protecting you. Here. I’ve got some great land just south of Key West to sell you…

Subsequently all this new law making was also a front to steal from and manipulate the American tax payer to be suppliers of endless debt. Bush and his cronies lapped it up–for they are the ones that don’t let the blue dress get stained. Bush saw to it that the government spent the entire surplus given him by his predecessor as though there was something inherently wrong with such a surplus. Since Bush probably gave more blow jobs than he received–has everyone forgotten that macho, chauvinistic, patriarchal America elected a blue-blood, silver-plate born, failed oil man and a Princeton (male!) cheerleader to the countries highest office?–it is only natural that he also provide the venue from which the largest redistribution of wealth in American history could take place. The redistribution included taking what remained of middle class wealth (most of which was already lost to consume-to-survive) and shifting it to the 1% so they don’t have to pay for the impending crash that feels as though it has to rival 1929.

I, for one, will never forget listening to Bush tell debt-choked Americans, enthralled with fear of a fictional terrorist act, to go shopping. What Bush was really saying was this: In order to maintain your measly middle-class lives and prop up the consume-to-survive bubble that keeps my family and my political base richer, when you go shopping, you measly suckers, make sure you don’t pay in cash. And just like The Dude in The Big Lebowski, America obliged.

Enter the last irony. Enter the crash. During Bill Clinton’s final days in office I cannot imagine what he was going through. I mean, this guy had faced the greatest of the great when it comes to American political bigotry, hypocrisy and downright ugliness. It was as though the American (political) Right was hell-bent on, hell, I don’t know, providing some payback for what “liberals” did to Nixon? The commission set up and paid for with taxpayer money to prosecute Bill Clinton for a minor personal transgression couldn’t have been full of more self-righteousness and fake morality. But, as the saying goes, they ripped Clinton a new one. Yet. Luckily. Almost a decade later, Clinton appears at the Democratic national convention and gives what might just be one of the greatest election speeches that’s ever been given. Ironically, a few months prior at the Republican national convention, Turdblossom is no where to be seen or heard and look at the pack of idiots that the angst-filled-boomers have given America as presidential candidates.

So. What was Turblossom Bush going through during his final days in office? Not only had he trained-wrecked the United States with his idiotic war on terror and government expansion, but he also was facing an economic meltdown comparable only to the intellect he projected to the world. And what did he do when facing the next great depression? He pulled all his cronies together and set up what could become the systematic bail out of history’s ultimate failed economy. With that, the repeal of certain laws over the years, laws that were intended to protect people from run-amok bankers, could come full circle. Since 1999 we now live once again in the days that would lead up to 1929. Hence, American Express, a credit card company, a financial services company, a lone shark, etc., can now take your savings, your pay, and according to the Gramm Leach Bliley Act, use that money to prop up all the toxic debt of voodoo economics.

I digress.

The really sad reality here is that it’s not just American Express that caught my eye with a recent online advertisement. TARP has done the same for basically all banks, whether retail or investment. Obviously, and in hind sight, I’m not sure Bush had an alternative to TARP. Subsequently Obama couldn’t just shut the plan down. The mega-problem is, these “banks” have now all merged to become bank-zillas and they are facilitators–not originators–of America’s financial turmoil. And so, all your savings, all your 401ks, your stocks portfolios, the value of your homes, etc., all wealth in America that is actually earned by work (as opposed to being inherited or capital gained), is nothing more than fodder to prop up a toxic, doomed economy and an already failed banking system. Wow. 1929 welcomes you to your future.

Links:

 

Rant on.

Tommi

 

PS Here a little bit from a Wiki entry about American Express and it’s conversion to TARP bank that I thought of when I first realized what commercial I was watching:

“On November 10, 2008, during the financial crisis of 2008, Amex won Federal Reserve System approval to convert to a bank holding company, making it eligible for government help under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).”

PSS This is not a post where Tommi expresses his political affiliation. I could give a hoot about political parties. But the political process, that brilliant process encoded in the constitution of the United States… Now that means something to me!

Note. Here a bit more irony regarding White House blowjobs. Anybody remember the Jeff Gannon scandal from the Bush administration? I think it’s just as cute as buttons on puppies that during the Clinton years blowjobs were girl on guy but the ones given during Bush’s regime were guy on guy. Jeff Gannon was a $200/night gay prostitute when he was not softballing conservative-agenda questions posing as a White House correspondent for a press agency unbeknownst to anyone. Obviously sexually repressed conservative America has a long way to go before it comes to terms with all the closets its hiding in.

High Finance

Almost a review of three books. Well, not quite almost. Nomatter.

Informed about the world of high finance and rob-your-soul banking? Me neither. Every class I ever took that had anything to do with business, economics or numbers, I bagged as soon as I could and went about living life as it should be lived. (Without numbers!) Anywho.

Here are three worst-writer recommendations–I think. Well, maybe this isn’t really a recommendation.Whatever. Reading at least one of these books might help if you’ve ever wondered what a CDO is or what Subprime is or if you’d like some insight into the mechanics of what has facilitated the fail upwardness of the grand fiat world of finance we are all now slaves to. For me, the questions I’ve been asking are still open. These books only helped me ask a few other questions. Which is good enough. I mean, that is a form of progress. Or? So, like I said, this ain’t much of a recommendation. Nomatter. These books are great.

The Big Short, Michael Lewis

Too Big To Fail, Andrew Ross Sorkin

More Money Than God, Sebastian Mallaby

The Big Short is the second book I’ve read by Lewis, here a post on the first. Lewis is probably the best writer here. The others read more like text-books. I often refer to the index of Too Big To Fail when I need to look up specific terminology or acronyms. Which reminds me. A great website that goes in this direction, plus a bit of political incorrectness, is:

http://www.zerohedge.com/

For those interested, the questions I’m still asking (about high finance) are:

Who and what are bond traders? How do they work? Are they any different than slimy car salesman? And for those that lose so much money on their trades, why aren’t their faces posted in all public places as a form of humiliation? Or better yet, in order to help cover their losses, why aren’t dart boards made with their eyeballs as bulls-eye.

If all money is privately held yet claims to be backed by governments (you know that whole “legal tender” thing) then how come I can’t get the same type of backing when I go to Vegas?

What is it that makes humans worship god and money equally subsequently voluntarily subjecting their lives to a new form of slavery and forgetting so quickly how to laugh at their own stupidity in the process?

This one isn’t quite a question but I’m gonna give it a whirl: The answer to the question regarding how to reign-in the wild-west, winner take-all mentality that is world finance is to address how the mechanics of all this high finance functions and then figure out how those who run the machine are compensated.

Or something like that.

Links:

 

Rant on.

Tomas

Sharks Barracudas Banks

The other day during a somewhat intensified news scan to try and understand the 2012 JPMorgan bank scandal,  I got to thinking about sharks and barracudas. This was aided when I happened across an article about a German women that was attacked by a sharkwhile on vacation in Florida. Although it seems she will survive the attack, she has lost a large amount of flesh and tissue of the lower part of one of her legs and it will probably end up being amputated. Then I thought about how much experience I’ve had with these animals – and not just sharks. For example, I grew up near a beach and there were regular shark attacks. There was also a glorious moment where I swam near a four meter long white tip shark after interrupting it’s hunt for a yellow fin tuna while scuba diving in the red sea. And then there was the time, while fishing in the Florida Keys, my sister hooked an adolescent hammer head that was about a meter and half long. When we finally got the animal aboard we had the daunting task of getting the hook out of it, which it had swallowed. In the mean time another fisherman hooked a barracuda that was larger than the hammer head. Both fish were squirming around on the deck of a fairly small boat and there were feet and legs all dancing around trying not to get between sharp teeth and clapping jaws. Suddenly, with a quick lash, the barracuda just missed a leg and latched on to the mid section of the shark. The barracuda tasted blood and turned frantic, instantly killing the hammer head. At that point we gave up on getting our hooks back and decided to just throw them both overboard. The problem was the barracuda wouldn’t let go of the shark. We couldn’t lift both animals while they still had hooks, lines and fishing poles attached to them. The only way to get to them was to kill the barracuda. I will never forget the intensity of the moment where I knew that the barracuda lusted to devour that shark – and he seemed glad to give his life to do it. Then someone grabbed the trusty baseball bat. Even dead the barracuda didn’t want to let go. But we eventually did get our hooks back.

I’m upping the position of William Black’s book “The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One” on my reading list. Reason. Black seems to have a grasp of the intricacies, or perhaps better put, the mechanics of what’s actually behind the recent JPMorgan multi billion dollar derivative loss. But this makes me wonder if there’s something more, something so complex that it can’t be explained. Here’s what Black has to say:

JPMorgan had about $15 billion in distressed European debt. … Europe has been in just a ton of trouble. And so, those investments were losing all kinds of value. Now, the story, which, again, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, is that they decided to hedge this position. A hedge is something where you invest in a second asset that is supposed to offset losses that you suffer in the first asset. In this case, the first asset was that distressed European debt, and the second asset, the supposed hedge, was a derivative of a derivative. In this case, it was an index of credit default swaps, which are a form of derivative that blew up AIG. Now then, the story gets even murkier, but it—the claim from out of JPMorgan is nobody was looking very carefully at the supposed hedge, and the hedge didn’t perform to offset losses, instead it increased the losses and increased the losses dramatically. And supposedly, no one was looking, and no one adjusted for this. And they woke up, and they had a $2 billion loss. (Source: DemocracyNow transcripts)

Here’s what’s important about this statement. The wild claim that the hedge JPMorgan was making to counter their distressed European debt investment using a derivative of a derivative leads to one question: What did JPMorgan do with their bail out money? Of course, with such a question, I’m making the wild assumption that the bail out money was for dealing with the huge amount of bad investments all the banks were stuck in. Hence this trade was JPMorgan’s attempt to find another way to get out of a mess riding on the back of someone else, i.e. the standard, status-quo Wall Street way of doing things. The problem is that no matter what trickery Wall Street comes up, these banks are gonna have to face reality eventually. That may also mean that the debt problem American’t has is approaching an unmanageable state and not even these monstrous banks (and their trickery) can handle it – with or without being bailed out. I wonder if it’s possible that banks and Wall Street have actually been lying to our government concerning reality (sarcasm off).

Now. What is a derivative of a derivative? A derivative can be a credit default swap. But a credit default swap isn’t good enough. All these really, really smart bankers like Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan must think anew. Remember, if they can’t get more carpet to sweep under then they will find something or some place else to sweep the krapp. And guess what they’ve come up with to help them do this? You guessed it. Credit default swap index. Things any clearer for you now?

A credit default swap is a form of insurance against a default on an investment. Adding “index” to it means that you’re basically just bundling a bunch of credit default swaps. Ok. Credit default swaps are used to insure investments like bonds. A bond subsequently can be a vehicle that can contain things like subprime mortgages. A bond can also contain the debt a country or state gets when it finances the building of a bridge or taking care of a city. But let’s focus on mortgages. As we all know, subprime mortgages played a major role in the economic meltdown that culminated in 2008 and surprisingly coincided with the glorious ending of Bush’s reign. As most are unaware, these tricky-dick investments are basically being used to prop up the American’t lie regarding life, liberty and the pursuit of being stupid. Hence, American’t can continue doing what it does best: finding the easiest way to make a buck off the back of others without actually working hard for it. Flash to the present and what we have are same-as-usual and too-big-to-fail banks that still haven’t really dealt with the main problem they facilitate and are unable to quit, namely, debt.

The truly amazing thing about JPMorgan and its recent loss is that it will probably be posting huge profits at the end of 2012 – regardless of how much it loses in these trades. The reason for that is it is literally experimenting with whether or not it can dump on a sucker nation or über-investor any of it’s junk debt made up of American’ts way of life. Is there a sucker in this world of trading nut jobs that is willing to take on this kind of stuff? My guess is that JPMorgan tried to get a country to take either its distressed European debt or – and this is what hedging is all about and what JPMorgan really wanted to do – its derivative of a derivative – a credit default swap index full of American’t mortgage debt that is part of all the housing foreclosures that is now the basis of American’ts economy.

But what sucker could or would take on such a trade as what JPMorgan was offering? Here we have a game where sharks and barracudas are gonna get it on. In the second segment of the interview with William Black at democracynow.org, he blatantly blames “The Germans” for Europe’s problems and he does it in a way that got me thinking. He claims that the Germans are holding too tightly to austerity for the Eurowasteland countries that are failing. Such a statement makes my head spin. The reality is all those countries agreed that they would hold their deficits to a set percentage of GDP. It’s now common knowledge that the failing countries systematically lied about their debt the whole time. What he doesn’t mention is the fact that if Germany doesn’t hold to austerity then it will have to be the one, by default, to pay for all those failing countries. And the reason for that is simple: Germany, relatively speaking, has a functioning economy that isn’t completely dependent on debt.

Now. This might come as a surprise but I have to speculate here. Obviously all Eurowasteland countries have serious debt problems. Some more than others. Is it possible that JPMorgan has finally run into a wall regarding its tricky-dick antics? Also, is it possible that JPMorgan has literally run out of betting partners? Remember, it was trying to dump its “distressed European debt” and if that wouldn’t work it was then gonna cover it’s ass (hedge) with dumping its derivative of a derivative – which didn’t work either. Isn’t this a blatant example of trying to negatively manipulate the Euro? In the one hand it had Eurowasteland debt that it couldn’t sell and in the other hand it had American’t debt. What? No buyers?

To go even further, as bad as things are in Eurowasteland, there are parts of it that are relatively thriving, especially if you speak German. It is common knowledge that what JPMorgan and other investment banks are doing is nothing but gambling. The thing that people forget is that, unlike Vegas, tricky-dick investment banking requires that two parties participate in each bet. In other words, you’re not betting against cards or dice or a small ball finding its number on a spinning wheel. Two entities have to stand across from each other and gamble. In this case, no one was willing to stand across from JPMorgan and so it lost in excess of $2billion dollars. So I have to ask: who was on the other side of this bet? Who kept turning down the trader that was begging to dump all this junk? Ultimately, the answer to that question probably doesn’t matter. This is all just no big deal because the apathetic American’t voting constituency is more than willing to support its oppressor, the JPMorgans and other wall street institutions that got us all in their jaws.

Personally, I’d rather go hang out with sharks and barracudas.

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Rant on.

-tgs-

Grifter Nation

Griftopia by Matt Taibbi

In The Beginning

There are two scams in the 1990 movie The Grifters that reveal everything there is to know about how things work–and not just in America but in the whole western world. The first scam I want to worst-write about this day, dear worst-reader, is actually shown twice in this film. I reckon the producers wanted to make sure that this scam was very clear to the audience. The second scam, though, is a bit more complicated and you have to put some effort into the movie if you really want to get what it’s about. With that in mind, let’s start, dear worst-reader, with the first scam.

It all begins at a typical corporate restaurant in what looks to be 1980s LA. In this scene Roy, played by the brilliant John Cusak, shows the audience how to trick a bartender. Using honed eye contact and taking advantage of the busy environment, Roy presents to the bartender a twenty dollar bill and at the same time requests a beer. The twenty dollar bill is lodged but clearly visible between Roy’s fingers. The bartender turns to get Roy his drink. Roy quickly, almost like a magician, switches the twenty dollar bill for a ten dollar bill that was lodged/hidden in the palm of the same hand. When the bartender delivers the drink, Roy maintains eye contact and pushing the ten dollar bill to the bartender who then grabs it and immediately goes to the register to make change. The bartender returns to Roy with change for a twenty.

The second iteration of the same scam happens a few moments later when Roy has gone to another bar. This time it’s not a corporate restaurant but a real dive where the lights are dim and the clientele isn’t so yuppie. Immediately Roy tries to employ the same scam on the bartender. Clearly Roy has lost the edge on this one as he doesn’t maintain the same eye contact as with the previous bartender. Still, he orders the drink and does the switch with the bills. The bartender delivers the drink, pauses and the camera shows us that Roy has been caught in the act. The bartender proceeds to immobilize Roy’s hand, thereby turning it over and revealing the second bill lodged in his palm. Panicking, Roy cannot free himself from the burly bartender’s grasp even though he has let go of both the ten and twenty dollar bills, as if to indicate: here, take it, I’m finished. Then we see the baseball bat and hear a thud as it violently rams into Roy’s sternum.

Matt Taibbi

Before I get to the second scam, allow me to address the fellow that has helped motivate all this worst-writing today. Matt Taibbi got me thinking about my life, the things I’ve seen and experienced and about all the bullshit that I’ve had to consume-to-survive. That, in turn, reminded me of The Grifters. Hence, to me, Matt Taibbi picked the perfect title for his book “Griftopia”. For one thing, the title is like displaying a mirror in front of America. The only problem is, like most things political, social and demographic in my grand united mistakes, actually getting American’s to look in that mirror will require more than a book title. And while I’m picking at the title (which I also tended to do in another post here), I think most American’s have had enough with the “opia” stuff. In fact, I’ll bet a coin that since at least two if not three American generations, having been bombarded with the ignorance of talk radio, infotainment news, and pharmaceutical addiction, they cannot tell the difference between the words utopia and opiate, no matter how you prefix it.

So. I finished Griftopia last night and after a few hours of post-read contemplation, including glasses of red wine, studying all the notes and highlighted text (I read it on my Kindle), I realized that I had just read something unique.  And that says a lot since this is the fifth book on the financial crisis I’ve read in less than two years. Indeed. The difference this book has to all the others is the simple fact that it was written by a badass. In fact, it’s written by not just any badass, this is the work of a rock-n-roll badass journalist that America needs more of. Heck, the guy even writes for Rolling Stone magazine. With that in mind, baby, praise be to thumbs-up-yahweh, Marshall and Fender, and music lovin’ motherfuckers! Or. Thank goodness Rolling Stone was able to elevate this dude to where he belongs—especially when one considers where most news comes from these days. Put that together with the frank and no-holds barred way Taibbi writes, and you’re off to the informed races, baby. With that in mind, America, stop being afraid of all the mirrors it’s time to face. Taibbi can help you.

Definition

As I said, this book got me thinking—especially about the world I grew up in. For it was indeed a world full of … . So as I was reading this book I got to thinking about those that raised me—or perhaps those I wished raised me. Nomatter. Where are they now? What have they been doing? Are they all still the fun and happy-go-lucky guys that they were then? Are they all still obsessed with coke? Pussy? Making fun of those who are less fortunate? Oh, wait. A grifter is different than a con-man.

According to Taibbi, grifters are now a class of their own. Somehow that doesn’t surprise me. Grifting is considered, by its perpetrators, a calling. And it is a calling that is above most thievery conventions. Luckily, my heart never beat at the sight of a dollar and so early on the grifters (and con-men) that I met, saw through me. I guess, in a way, I was lucky. Seeing through me meant that I was something like a court jester or a clown. That gave way to me being able, at times, to be tolerated and when I was on a lucky streak, some of the grifters even hired me. (Yes, the new class(es) of grifters also includes employer and employee relations.) Anywho. Out of my experience with grifters I offer the following explanation and/or definition. Please hold your salt shaker near.

A grifter is a person that takes advantage of another person by gaining trust. It’s that simple. In that definition also lies the difference to being just a con-man. Surprisingly (or maybe not) when I looked up grifter in the book of knowledge (wiki) I was re-routed to “confidence trick”, which might be a bit confusing because that can also include the term con-man. A grifter is not just a con-man. Let me try to clarify more.

For one thing, a con-man can either steal directly from you (your wallet) or sell you something you don’t need. (Say, I have a this great piece of land in southern Florida). A con-man can also indirectly steal from you. (Praise the lord! Would you like to join my church?) The thing to remember about a con-man is that he usually ends up poor, in jail, lynched or shot. A grifter, on the other hand, will always get away with what ever it is he steals. A grifter fears nothing because the thing he’s after is ultimately not just the act of stealing but also the process of getting in your soul. So keep in mind, modern humanity, the world you and I live in, is the result of the work of a few very special grifters. And this worst-definition… ain’t done just yet.

One of the ways grifters are able to survive as they do is because they have a unique gift. On the one hand, they are really smart. On the other, they do most of their work on the backs of others. Hence, con-men. Now get this. Grifters can see through the bipolar quilt that western society has comfortably wrapped itself in. (Remember, metaphors are smart.) This quilt is made up of two basic peoples. One is the con-man—who we covered already. The other is a bit more complicated to explain, and I’ll try to touch on the issue more in the next section titled “History”. The thing to remember is this: a grifter cannot make it if it can’t get to the soul of its victim. A con-man cannot lick a grifter but a grifter can own a con-man. A con-man is only in it for the doe! Grifters are after something completely different. That secret is basically this: human beings will fill their souls with anything when they are forced to do so. To that there are no exceptions. Grifters know this more than any other because grifters have no soul.

History

I’ll get back to Taibbi’s book in a sec. I’m kinda on a roll, so how ‘bout this for a bit of worst-history on grifters. Let’s check out exactly where this whole grifter thing started. Grifting was perfected in Eurowasteland during the age of enlightenment. In fact, grifting culminated in the over-throw of things like monarchies, aristocratic rule, incestuous hereditary privilege, etc. Because of this, the kings and queens and the ruling inbreds of Eurowasteland quickly caught wind of how power and wealth were shifting—without them. Subsequently the kings and queens faced for the first time existential questions they never faced before. For these questions they had no answers. They tried to fight back but there was something in the souls of the masses that they couldn’t defeat. Every time a king or queen thought they had captured one of the leaders of this new-soul movement, it turns out that all they got were one of the many con-men. Hence, we can thank grifters for the term: throw them to the wolves.

After a few monarchies fell and others were weakened in Europe, the remaining inbred filth turned to compromise to save their asses. Since grifters aren’t about governing, politics and status, when word got to them that they would be granted privileges and support for taking their business to new shores, they laughed. I guess the idear among those same kings and queens was that maybe, if they got grifters out of the way for a while, it would buy the monarchies some time to recuperate from all the revolutionary damage. Of course, the grifters, being somewhat bored with having brought down so much power, were already on their way to new horizons. And so. America was founded by turning the British monarchy into an invalid and ugly step sister. The French Revolution rid Eurowasteland of the rule of useless eating blue bloods. Others followed. The grifter classes came to be. Welcome to your future, souls. Democracy awaits you! Freedom wraps around you–like a comfy quilt!

The Book

Griftopia is another seething exposé that breaks down the impending doom of American’t and its willingness to rely on financial speculation—as opposed to actual productivity—to maintain its status in the world. Of all the books I’ve read while trying to figure out what a CDO is or what a subprime mortgage is or how it came to be that with all its power and wealth, America suddenly had to rely on the whims of idiot politicians and krapp-eating bureaucrats to literally save its ass from a financial meltdown that would have made the great depression look like a picnic, this one takes the cake. Taibbi has figured it out and he’s even provided a bit of insight into to what a grifter nation is. The real shocker of this book is its subtext—which deals with the souls the grifters prey on with so much success. These souls are just like the doomed and defeated monarchists who once could never see the future. Indeed, Taibbi manages to put what must have been a huge amount of research in a few hundred pages and for that alone this book should be read. Taibbi’s style is a winded and he could learn a from the likes of Michael Lewis when it comes to story telling, but perhaps that’s not what Taibbi should be doing at all. What he should be doing is writing more rock-n-roll, kick-ass books about impending doom. I especially enjoyed Taibbi’s explanation of AIG and how they insured mortgage securities and derivatives. The details revealed about AIG are even more intriguing as they involve so much of  Goldman Sachs’ everyday business, a company that is so intertwined with the US govt. And Taibbi, in this book, comes through loud and clear about how much contempt he has for the likes of Goldman Sachs, rich-shit bankers and useless, drone bureaucrats. The end of the book did kind of disappoint me though, almost as though Taibbi ran out of gas or something. He tries to end it all by talking about a congressional meeting that took place where grifter bankers were accusing the American poor of facilitating the mortgage crisis. In my opinion, the behavior of Americans and their belief that credit and borrowing is a right, is something that has not been addressed much in any book (I’ve read). Taibbi just wants to bat that issue away. Shame really. And with that, I digress.

The Second Scam

Oh, before I forget. I should probably get back to the second of the two scams from the movie The Grifters (1990) that I mentioned at the beginning. As I said, this second scam is a bit more complicated than hiding and switching dollar notes in the palm of your hand— which does not deserve to be belittled, btw, for it too is part of the making of American’t. No, this second scam has more in common with what the bankers of the too-big-to-fail banks have done to the oh-so willing souls that think they are, even today, still part of the American dream.

In the film, Roy’s mother, Lilly, played by the beautiful and lovely Angelica Huston, is not a grifter. Lilly is a con-man. Since I’m not really into gambling (and my eyes never lit up at the sight of a dollar), I’ll let wiki provide the explanation of what Lilly does as a con-man in the movie The Grifters. “Lilly works for a bookmaker handling playback at horse racing tracks — that is, she makes large cash bets to lower the odds of longshots.” When she’s supposed to be placing those cash bets to lower odds, she gets caught up with her son Roy. Remember the baseball bat incident? Well that incident has caused Roy to require medical attention for internal bleeding. Helping Roy causes her to miss a race. To cover up for not placing the bets at the race, Lilly goes to the track and collects the stubs of those who did place such bets. In short, she tries to cover her ass. The problem is, the odds of longshots were not lowered. Oh, the way she tries to worm her way out of it. Oh, the voices of whining individuals all raised to believe the lie that achievement can be yours, that you can be anything you want, that freedom reigns. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the cry of the wild in the form of demanding (and getting) a society of entitlements which amount to nothing more than the right to gamble on the backs of others and welfare for the rich only.

The thing to keep in mind here isn’t the mechanics of what Lilly does or the selfishness she considers her right, thereby using her child as her crutch. What one should consider is the truth and how never facing the truth gets people in this kind of a mess. Lilly and Roy represent a large part of the baby-boomers and their children. Neither parent or child can see the truth in anything they do. These are not complicated people, they do not live in complicated places, glamor is their enemy and not their friend and yet they live on the backs of others in a comfort unseen elsewhere on this earth. And I suppose there lies the truth that only a few worst-readers can face. The truth is Roy and Lilly are our own sad ending. We are a grifter nation.

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Rant on.

-Tommi-