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Category Archives: Money

Should the biggest banks that nearly destroyed our economy pay less interest on loans from the Federal Government than our students who are the future around whom our recovery will pivot? Elizabeth Warren says “No”, let’s support her …

 

 
Sign the petition here

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We’re fast approaching the very last Kodak Moment. The stock price is set to fall below $1 and the company is running out of operating cash fast.

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Denis Maslennikov So here’s an interesting podcast from Kaspersky Lab’s Senior Malware Analyst Denis Maslennikov on Help Net Security. Put your earplugs in and turn the page for a six-and-a-half minute introduction to a scary story … Read More »

urbanspooncom

I loaded up my iPhone with the free Urbanspoon application some months back and since then I’ve discovered several good restaurants where I live, work and play. It uses the phone’s GPS to be location aware. The key is to find like minded foodie friends so I’m inviting you to follow me on Urbanspoon by linking here. An account is free if you haven’t signed up yet — and there is no kickback or financial incentive for me to promote Urbanspoon to you. Read More »

20090408_florida_powerballNo, no, not the jackpot*, just the Power Ball. One little number, the actual Power Ball number, number nine, at the end of the line. An important number, but on its own, worth only $3.

They said the tickets were either one dollar or two, without explanation. I suggested we pay only one but Carolyn, dispensing with her Scottish frugality, paid two. We were on holiday after all. Read More »

Pay AIG’s executive bonuses with their own toxic assets. Since they’re short on their own cash and heavy on those toxic assets, why not shape up a CDO based on those assets and reward them generously with their own Kool Aid? Excepting there will be no more credit default swaps to assure their value.

At least this way they’ll become deeply invested in turning those risky investments around, right?

The quicker we put failing banks into receivership — temporary nationalisation if you will — the quicker they can be restructured to put the working pieces back into play, at the least cost to the taxpayer. Regretfully, but quite correctly, the bank’s shareholders will, and should, lose their shirts. Because unless they suffer the pain of their bad investments banks will not regulate themselves from behaving badly again — and without a hefty amount of self regulation banks will not be able to attract much capital in the future. Out of that suffering will come some good. Any other way rewards the greedy banks, their unquestioning investors and their complacent employees at the expense of the long suffering taxpayer, it puts the country deeper into debt and insures an undisciplined industry from the moral hazard of their own mistakes. Unacceptable. Read More »

huntington-parking-meter

Caption: Gutted for Christmas. By removing the mechanism Huntington’s residents get a parking fee holiday over Christmas.

From a merchants point of view this might make sense: Encourage people to come shop in our local village. But I worry that people might just hog their parking spot and that traffic will not turn over and thereby increase sales.

My mind isn’t really on the merchants, it’s on the value of doing this. The cost of removing and then reinstalling the parking meter mechanisms from every meter must be significant. Perhaps there’s an advantage in having them all serviced at one time — if indeed that’s what they do with them when they’re removed.

A better idea might be to (a) make paying for parking optional during the holiday period and (b) pay all meter proceeds during this period to a local charity and (c) suspend any parking meter fines for the duration.

Happy holidays!

Henry M. Paulson Jr., the US Treasury Secretary was recently head of Goldman Sachs — one of the embattled investment banks in the thick of the current financial crisis. Arguably he is one of the actionable architects of the mess we’re in — yet today he leads the way out of it? I’m not so comfortable nor sure about that!

Not only did Paulson head one of the gluttonous investment banks, together with four other banks he took the lead in getting the Securities and Exchange Commission to change the net capital rule which limited how much debt they could take on, thereby deforming the normal boundaries of risk management.

After Sachs Paulson became Treasury Secretary in May of 2006 and with the passage of H.R. 1424 Paulson becomes manager of the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP)/United States Emergency Economic Stabilization Fund. There’s an idiom that describes this absurd situation which escapes me now but I can opine how risky this is — and isn’t taking bad risks what got us here in the first place?

Is anybody in Congress asking Paulson to give some of his reputed $700 millions back and I wonder if anybody is keeping an eye on his portfolio in relation to what gets rescued and what he buys into and sells out of now?

I wish I felt more comfortable with letting Paulson take charge of spending our bail out money, but I don’t. I have this uneasy feeling that he and his old cronies are shoring up their own retirement funds with more of our money and that as soon as nobody is looking they’ll switch to hard assets and discounted properties — and leave the stock market to implode.

Suggested reading: Wikipedia’s bio on Henry Paulson | A The New York Times story covering Paulson’s involvement is changing SEC’s rules
Agency’s ’04 Rule Let Banks Pile Up New Debt by Stephen Labaton | The Business Inside’s Clusterstock writes that Documents Reveal How Paulson Forced Banks To Take TARP Cash

September 3rd, 2008: It’s taken me an hour on the phone to AT&T’s support line to discover that AT&T is having a country wide outage on their 3G and Edge data networks! Your phone and SMS are likely still working, but Mail, Safari, Weather, Stocks, App Store etc. won’t.

Other blogs and AT&T forums confirm that the problem is prevalent in the North East.

If this problems has inconvenienced you too, you deserve a service refund. That plus the more it hurts AT&T to fix their network, hopefully the sooner they’ll get around to investing in it. Dial 611 on your iPhone, ask to speak with a customer representative and ask for a service credit in the amount of $25. You may get an argument along the lines of “your plan is $90 a month, therefore that’s worth about $3 a day. What would you say is fair?”. Explain that “in the absence of information posted at AT&T’s website, or the courtesy of receiving a service outage SMS from AT&T, something they could easily have done in a data outage, that you have spent frustrating hours troubleshooting your iPhone. What’s that worth? I’ll take the maximum $25 only because you can’t offer me more, or can you?”.

Suggested reading: Chicago Tribune’s AT&T wireless data network goes out in eastern half of U.S.; iPhones affected | Wired’s IPhone Users Report Network Outages; Second 3G Lawsuit Emerges | TechCrunch | And for a complete lack of any service adviseries, go to att.com/wireless | Justin McLachlan writes Apple and AT&T misrepresented the iPhone, says lawsuit |

It’s underwhelming, actually. One hundred and fifity billion dollars arrived by post today. Zimbabwean dollars. Read More »