Friday, April 16, 2010

Talk Amongst Yourselves: Governmental .... Effectiveness??

Unlikely. But they are moving through the agenda at a pace which, adjusted for the fact that they are complete and utter idiots who live on another planet, is nearly mentionable. In fact, they're going so fast, I have not time to drawl on for paragraphs about each item. The following will have to do.

Sadly, they're going so fast, they also haven't time to hire a fancy Madison Ave team to sex up and connect the whole thing thematically. Fear not, Congressmen. I have a name for the whole agenda.

I dub this session: "the hour of our de-embarrassment."

Someone slightly less numb than average must have realized that some US policy is downright embarrassing ... just like good ole Cousin Eddie.

Health care:
Kudos. With universal (well, near as the US government will ever get to such absolutes) coverage, finally, arrogant socialist countries (cough, cough, Europe, cough) have one fewer reason to feel superior. Shame you forgot all about that whole cost containment/efficiency/quality bit. Maybe next time.

Again, kudos on removing some of the most ridiculously embarrassing bits of 16th-century discrimination still enshrined in US law.

Legally preventing a gay man or woman on their death bed from seeing the one person who they love most was ... well ... maybe not such a solid idea. I know it was supposed to prevent the coming of Lucifer, but now, what with Bunker Busters and Missile Defense, I think he's less of a threat.

Discrimination makes a guy wanna kill someone. What better place to do that than in the Army? So, kudos again for taking the logical step to reexamine Don't Ask Don't Tell. Instead of making recruiters scrape the bottom of the barrel to meet their quotas, just let a few angry gays in. They always spruce up the place!

Now let's get rid of that whole blood donor ban thing.

Financial Regulation Reform:
Without injecting my own opinion (yet), allow me to predict the most likely outcome. Financial Institutions will once again be lobotomized. Divided into two classes:
- Utilities (aka retail banking)
- Casinos (aka everything else)

"Utilities" are done for as a for-profit enterprise. Just like Amtrack and Con Ed, they will require permanent and heavy subsidy verging on nationalization to survive the tonnage of regulations which will be piled on.

"Casinos" will have to escape to the Bahamas, Monaco, or Indian reservations. I would not be surprised to see these firms further subdivided into firms that are allowed to play with other peoples' money ("brokerages") and those playing with their own money ("proprietary dealers").

Over the past 10 years, the US Financial Services industry has made up more than a third of corporate profits, aka a third of the returns upon which the entire US equity market is based. Over the next 10 years, that entire industry will go the way of the Dodo and Bear Stearns.

Witch Hunting:
Exhibit A: the SEC's civil suit against Goldman. This thing is such a political charade. We're gonna end up in the Supreme court debating the definition of "is" again. GS is too smart to get caught red-handed. Even if they were fined a billion bucks, the 17% market cap drop is a ridiculous over-reaction, but they won't pay that either. Their max exposure SHOULD be the $15 million they charged for their services. Sadly, this court case isn't going to be decided in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion.

All of this ... for better or for worse. Talk Amongst Yourselves.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Yeah! What HE Said: Greenspan on the Hill (again)

They just won't let him alone. But Maestro is still too solid to be shaken by a few pols.

The surging demand for mortgage-backed securities was heavily driven by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which were pressed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Congress to expand affordable housing commitments.
- Alan Greenspan, Congressional Testimony 4/7/10

Nuff said. If they don't want to know the real answers, maybe they should stop asking the questions.