I'm Back From the End of the World ..... Really!


And about to do the one thing I swore we'd never do.

A travelogue.



The music was taken from the Hans Zimmer soundtrack for Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Jack Sparrow.

Available at the ITunes Store for a mere 99 cents.

Makes me just want to go out and pillage something.




From CNBC via Yahoo News.

Which by the way is pretty good for stuff that is likely to not get picked up by the more traditional services.

As always click anywhere below to link up the entire story.


Government can’t print money properly

By Zachary Roth



As a metaphor for our troubled economic and financial era -- and the government's stumbling response -- this one's hard to beat. You can't stimulate the economy via the money supply, after all, if you can't print the money correctly.

Because of a problem with the presses, the federal government has shut down production of its flashy new $100 bills, and has quarantined more than 1 billion of them -- more than 10 percent of all existing U.S. cash -- in a vault in Fort Worth, Texas, reports CNBC

"There is something drastically wrong here," one source told CNBC. "The frustration level is off the charts."

More than 1 billion unusable bills have been printed. Some of the bills creased during production, creating a blank space on the paper, one official told CNBC. Because correctly printed bills are mixed in with the flawed ones, even the ones printed to the correct design specs can't be used until they 're sorted.


To quote Marlene Dietrich over and over and ...


  “I want to be alone.”

“When you prostitute yourself, you have to get paid for it.”

“A king, realizing his incompetence, can either delegate or abdicate his duties. A father can do neither. If only sons could see the paradox, they would understand the dilemma.”

“There is a gigantic difference between earning a great deal of money and being rich.”

“Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.”

“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognizably wiser than oneself.”

“[The lover says:] How beautiful you are, now that you love me”

“The average man is more interested in a woman who is interested in him than he is in a woman with beautiful legs."

“Most women set out to try to change a man, and when they have changed him they don't like him.”

“Once a woman has forgiven a man, she must not reheat his sins for breakfast”

“Do let him read the papers. But not while you accusingly tiptoe around the room, or perch much like a silent bird of prey on the edge of your most uncomfortable chair. (He will read them anyway, and he should read them, so let him choose his own good time.) Don't make a big exit. Just go. But kiss him quickly, before you go, otherwise he might think you are angry; he is used to suspecting he is doing something wrong.”

“Grumbling is the death of love.”

“How do you know love is gone? If you said that you would be there at seven and you get there by nine, and he or she has not called the police - it's gone.”

“To be completely woman you need a master, and in him a compass for your life. You need a man you can look up to and respect. If you dethrone him it's no wonder that you are discontented, and discontented women are not loved for long."

”It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.”

“Superstitions are habits rather than beliefs.”

“I am at heart a gentleman.”

“The weak are more likely to make the strong weak than the strong are likely to make the weak strong.”

“If there is a supreme being, he's crazy.”


To quote Joan Larson



Bailouts. Who and how much.


Pro Publica is doing a nice job of keeping track of who's doing what to whom regarding all of these bailouts.

Click on the chart below for the entire list, it's a hell of a lot longer than you think.



Global Food Prices


From the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, by way of Clusterstock and Business Insider.

World food prices are trying to breakout.



The Deficit Commission


The President's Deficit Commission released their recommendations yesterday, and they are as follows:


Would collapse today's five income tax rates into three brackets: 8 percent for the lowest incomes, 14 percent for middle incomes and 23 percent for the wealthiest.
Would lower the corporate tax rate to 26 percent from 35 percent today.
Would end $1.1 trillion in popular tax breaks to permit these low rates. Tax breaks to be eliminated range from the deduction of mortgage interest to receiving health insurance from employers on a pre-tax basis. Such moves would broaden the tax base and make virtually all Americans pay more in taxes.
Would tax capital gains and dividends as ordinary income rather than at today's 15 percent rate.
Would raise payroll taxes on the wealthy so that 90 percent of taxable wages would be subject to the payroll tax by 2050.
Would increase the federal gas tax by 15 cents a gallon to pay for transportation improvements.

Retirement benefits

Would raise the age Americans can get Social Security benefits from 62 to 68 by 2050 and to 69 by 2075. This reflects that Americans are living and working longer.
Would allow early retirement benefits for career manual laborers.
Would boost benefits for Americans aged 81 to 85.


Would cap spending on almost all government programs through 2020 except for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and some defense programs.
Would require the president to propose annual limits on war spending, a major change when America is fighting two wars without a tax increase to pay for them. That has never happened in U.S. history.
Federal pay, work force

Would impose a three-year freeze on congressional pay, which now increases annually.
Would freeze pay for civilian federal workers.
Would gradually reduce the government's civilian work force by 10 percent.
Got a problem with any of that?
Let's see what you can do.
Here's another chance to balance the budget with The New York Times budget puzzle.
Click on the chart below to play.


To quote that well known Trotskyist, James P. Cannon



Not one of my favorite guys by any means, but if you have some time, click the quote for pretty much all of Mr. Cannons writings.

Trotskyist? .......... ite? ............... Who cares?





From James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal who loves (hell, maybe lives) to torment The New York Times, on two very different responses to leaked information.

On "Climategate".

"The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won't be posted here."—New York Times, on the Climategate emails, Nov. 20, 2009.

On Wikileaks latest revelations.

"The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. . . . The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match."—New York Times, on the WikiLeaks documents, Nov. 29, 2010.

Politics? ................... Maybe?

Nahhhhh, not The Old Grey Lady.



Housing Double Dip


From S&P/Case-Shiller via Clusterstock, the following bad news.

Click on the chart for the 15 softest housing markets.

You're likely to be suprised.


The chart (below) depicts the annual returns of the U.S. National, the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite Home Price Indices. The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 1.5% decline in the third quarter of 2010 over the third quarter of 2009. In September, the 10-City and 20-City Composites recorded annual returns of +1.6% and +0.6%, respectively.



Clarke and Dawe, again


Clarke and Dawe have been a staple of Australian television seemingly forever, and are rightfully considered by many Australians to be a national treasure.

They most always make me laugh, which makes me wish they were ours.

Here's their take on a 1991 oil spill.

The Front Fell Off.

Clarke and Dawe.



From the New York Times 11/25/2010


The New York Times is starting to get it.

“It seems Abdulmutallab, a name T.S.A. agents must now memorize, is to blame. Abdulmutallab is the failed Nigerian ‘underwear bomber’ of last Christmas. He joins the failed shoe bomber and failed shampoo-and-bottled-water bombers in a remarkable success: adding another blanket layer of T.S.A checks, including dubious gropes, to the daily humiliations of travelers. 

“Whether or not these explosive devices were ever actually operable remains a matter of dispute, just as it remains a mystery that the enemy — if as powerful as portrayed — has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11. What is not in doubt is an old rule: Give a bureaucrat a big stick and a big budget, allow said bureaucrat to trade in the limitless currency of human anxiety, and the masses will soon be intimidated by the Department of Fear. 

“Lavrenti Beria, Stalin’s notorious secret police chief, once said, ‘Show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.’ The T.S.A. seems to operate on the basis of an adapted maxim: ‘Show me the security check and I’ll find you the excuse.’ 

“Anyone who has watched T.S.A. agents spending 10 minutes patting down 80-year-old grandmothers, or seen dismayed youths being ordered back into the scanner booth by agents connected wirelessly to other invisible agents gazing at images of these people in a state of near-nakedness, has to ask: What form of group madness is it that forsakes judgment and discernment for process run amok? 

“I don’t doubt the patriotism of the Americans involved in keeping the country safe, nor do I discount the threat, but I am sure of this: The unfettered growth of the Department of Homeland Security and the T.S.A. represent a greater long-term threat to the prosperity, character and well-being of the United States than a few madmen in the valleys of Waziristan or the voids of Yemen. 

“America is a nation of openness, boldness and risk-taking. Close this nation, cow it, constrict it and you unravel its magic. 

“There are now about 400 full-body scanners, set to grow to 1,000 next year. One of the people pushing them most energetically is Michael Chertoff, the former Secretary of Homeland Security. He’s the co-founder and managing principal of the Chertoff Group, which provides security advice. One of its clients is California-based Rapiscan Systems, part of the OSI Systems corporation, that makes many of the ‘whole body’ scanners being installed… 

“Intelligence has improved beyond measure since 9/11. It can be used far more effectively at airports. Instead of humiliating everyone, focus on the very small proportion of travelers who might present a threat. 

“So I give thanks this week for the Fourth Amendment: ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.’  I give thanks for Benjamin Franklin’s words after the 1787 Constitutional Convention describing the results of its deliberations: ‘A Republic, if you can keep it.’ To keep it, push back against enhanced patting, Chertoff’s naked-screening and the sinister drumbeat of fear.” – Roger Cohen, “The Real Threat to America,” The New York Times, 11-25-10


Dan Edstrom tracks his mortgage


Dan Edstrom does "securitization audits".

Basically he analyzes the history of transactions concerning a given mortgage and note from the moment it's signed through it's sale, securitization and hopeful payoff ................. or foreclosure.

Here's the chart for Dan's own mortgage.

I clicked on the small version and then again to enlarge it to it's full size, thinking I'd follow it all the way through it's history.

I'm not gonna lie to you, I quit after about three seconds.

I'm thinking now that this debacle has no chance of resolution outside of default, foreclose and bankruptcy, and by that I mean both individually and at the level of the subsequent securitized instruments.


From Zero Hedge, which is of the sites I skulk, easily both the toughest read and the toughest to join.

On the positive side, it's free.

It is also consistently among the most rewarding of the sites I frequent if one is prepared to grind some.

Click the chart below for the Zero Hedge site and the story.


The sordid journey of just one mortgage.



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