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April 2011 Archives

April 19, 2011

Bad Economic News, with Rock Stars and Ferraris

By Armed Liberal at 20:27

When celebrities are advising people to invest in a portfolio of Ferraris, can the brick wall be too far away?? (h/t Barry Ritholtz)

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  • mark buehner: Thanks Marc. I'd be interested in helping out/getting involved if read more
  • Thorley Winston: Mark, could we please get an open thread to discuss read more
  • Armed Liberal: Sorry...trying to figure out what to do. Look for something read more

April 14, 2011

If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention (Again)

By Armed Liberal at 02:47

The regulators are letting the bad guys off the hook - again. From the Post:
Three federal agencies announced agreements with the nation's largest mortgage servicers Wednesday that aim to stem shoddy foreclosure practices. But the plans do not immediately impose financial penalties on the companies or force them to reduce the mortgage debt for troubled borrowers.

The deals require the mortgage servicers to identify and compensate borrowers who suffered financial harm, but the details have not yet been decided. The companies must also provide a single point of contact for struggling borrowers, many of whom complain of getting the runaround when they try to get help. Servicers also would not be able to foreclose on borrowers after granting them a loan modification.
Look, it's simple. When the regulators work for the regulated - or at least plan to do so in their next career cycle - public choice theory makes it unlikely that those of us on the outside are going to get much out of the arrangement.

And the facts seem to be bearing that out.

(and yes, I know about the states AG actions - but unless someone shows me different, keeping this pendant until those were settled would give another lever to move things with).

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  • toc3: Anyone Home? My interface shows no activity since April 19th. read more
  • toc3: Just out of curiosity, assuming for the sake of argument read more
  • toc3: MikeDC, I did not mention Legislation. I also did say read more

April 10, 2011

Will Facebook and Groupon Rescue California?

By Armed Liberal at 00:24

Here's an interesting (and hopeful) article from Chris Nolan (the smart tech finance writer, not the director). In it, she suggests that the coming wave of IPOS for social companies headquartered in California may be just the ticket to dig us out of the fiscal hole we're in.
California Governor Jerry Brown is going to have a very successful third term since he'll probably be able to solve - or claim he's solved - the state's budget mess next year. Brown - the Steve Jobs of politics - is going to be the beneficiary of what can only be called pent-up demand in both the venture capital business and the stock market. In other words, people who need to sell their stock to earn their keep (venture capitalists, angel investors) have plenty of customers (wanna-be shareholders). And the stock market's increasingly looking healthy enough to support large-scale stock offerings.
Basically, one or more of Big Social (Facebook, Groupon, Zynga, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) may go public in the coming year. When they do, the knock-on effect on the regional economy is going to be significant...and that is going to lead to a surge in tax collections.

Now on one hand, that's worth breathing a sigh of relief.

On the other, it's worrisome, because it will - again - delay actually sorting out our fiscal house of cards. I don't want my kids dealing with this; I want us to deal with it now.

...we'll see.

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  • Gbear: Look for 2 more businesses moving out of California. read more
  • Tim Oren: Thanks for warning me never to pay attention to that read more
  • Glen Wishard: Brown is ... the Steve Jobs of politics? If I read more

April 8, 2011

A Soldier Speaks Out On The Shutdown - 'Leaders Eat Last.'

By Armed Liberal at 22:07

From one of my military correstpondents on the Federal shutdown and the military:

I've been trying to get my head around the idea that those of us in the military might not get paid next week. I don't really care about myself, in as much as I'm a single soldier without dependents. I can eat in the DFAC, put my bills (and some beer) on a credit card, throw a temper tantrum and get on with my life. But I am lucky to be slightly above living paycheck to paycheck. I'm a moderately responsible E5 with a girlfriend who likes nice restaurants.

Privates and their new families, on the other hand, are often barely above water. Too much of the time, issues that you deal with as a leader in the military revolve around family issues or privates and their money. These are not people who can afford two weeks without pay. In the area just off post, there are a lot of people who make a living off families not being able to pay the bills, and they charge rates that would make the Mob blush.

That isn't even getting into the soldiers who are deployed.

Ever had to try and resolve a bank overdraft charge on a satellite phone on a combat outpost with about a half day time difference? It's not easy, and again, single soldiers aren't the ones I'm worried about. A late truck payment sucks, but it isn't the end of the world (whether they will get reimbursed for late fees by their employer or bank is another issue for another day).

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  • mark buehner: True, and a lot of those 'cuts' are mirages- something read more
  • MikeDC: Meh... neither the Republicans (outside of Ryan and the Pauls) read more
  • mark buehner: I think you guys are missing something- this may be read more

April 5, 2011

Michael Totten's 'The Road To Fatima Gate'

By Armed Liberal at 19:36

Michael Totten is a friend - which makes writing reviews of his work hard. Reading this, you might wonder whether I'm writing to boost a friend...or saying what I honestly think.

I get that, and to be honest when I got my copy of his new book, 'The Road to Fatima Gate', I started reading it as a friend, expecting to enjoy reading about the adventures and thoughts we'd already discussed and to be impressed most of all by what he'd done.

That lasted about ten pages.

What Michael has done is to bring his readers with him - concretely, not in abstract - as he tries to explore from the position of a non-Orientalist westerner the culture and human flavor of parts of the Middle East. And that's an incredible gift he's offering you.

To be blunt, I don't trust anyone who writes about the Middle East today. There are so many partisan and cultural interests clamoring for primacy that I can't with any confidence separate out the honest perspectives from the spin. My answer to that is to want to go and see myself, to sit in restaurants, walk streets, talk to people at random they way I typically do when I travel. Because for me those small experiences begin to aggregate into impressions that tell me something I trust.

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Today Is Yuri Gagarin's Day

By Armed Liberal at 15:28


A week from today, Gagarin flew.

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  • Glen Wishard: And three weeks from today Vladimir Komarov died on Soyuz read more
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