The Failed $350,000,000,000.00 Three-Ring Dress Rehearsal

January 24, 2009

It is what it is. That first $350 billion of the TARP was just a warm-up to the raising of the Big Circus Tent. And we the American circus-goers don’t even know where the clowns went in all those little cars with all that $350bn before the show even really began.

Mark these words… When the spotlights finally go on, all we’re going to see is a traffic jam of Mini Coopers and chopped VW bugs loaded with Rangel, Frank, and Dodd “constituents” smeared with grease paint and wearing floppy shoes headed for Pago Pago or maybe even Illinois if they have the spark of ambition.

So what’s it all about Alfie? The overture started with such urgent bipartisanship, and the TARP was hardly up when the elephants and donkeys started their dog and pony show. First the TARP was supposed to be used for bad mortgage debts. Then  it trapezed into bank bailouts to free up credit. (At least that was a disappearing act.) Next the “Three Great Motor City Mad Men” strutted/stumbled through the sawdust and peanut shells and juggled their way into billions. (I’ve seen this act before; they’ll drop the balls sooner rather than later.)

Now states are pleading The Ringmaster. And construction, and retail, and even porn… Somebody, please! Will somebody please tell these hucksters that their shabby show doesn’t have to go on forever, and quite frankly, most of us are struggling to just pay for the cotton candy.

Alan Speakman

The Debate and the Economy

October 8, 2008


Just was listening to a bit of the debate and heard how Obama was going to deal with fixing Social Security.

If the comment wasn’t so absurd and tragic, it would have simply been pathetic.

Let’s see if we can’t put the impending financial disaster in perspective…

The bubble chart above was created in MS PowerPoint (though any number of SW packages can do likewise). But what do the numbers mean? Well, they’re in billions of dollars and represent the following American and U.K. situations:

  • The little dot on the bottom represents the $25 billion Bradford and Bingley nationalization
  • The $85 billion is destined to AIG
  • Two hundred billion (in blue) is for good old Fannie and Freddie
  • $215 billion to prop up the flailing British mortgage lender Northern Rock
  • Ah, the good stuff… $700,000,000,000.00 for the current U.S. rescue… That’s in red.
  • The $2,470 is the entire U.K.’s GDP in billions
  • $14,294 is the U.S. GDP in billions
  • But what of that monster in the background? What of that $50,000 billion bubble that runs off the screen? That’s the $50 trillion social security disaster that’s waiting for Americans down the road.

The numbers are kind of mind numbing ain’t they? Well, amateur arm-chair astronomy being a hobby of mine, maybe some “planetary perspective” here will help. Speaking in terms of diameter, in the image above, the $200 billion blue orb (aka “Planet Freddie and Fannie”) would be something of the size of the pipsqueak planet Mars in our solar system. The “$700 Billion Bailout” planet in red would represent earth. And the massive $50 trillion outer giant is our sun. Ouch.

Look, I tried to be conservative with the numbers, and yes those numbers are going to change… But the magnitudes are probably correct. It is to scale, and you can easily reproduce it.

My gripe isn’t just with Obama. And it isn’t just with McCain. And it isn’t just with Bush II, or Clinton, or Bush I or… The problem (now a towering disaster) of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid has been lurking for decades, and our politicians simply keep making empty promises that they’re going to fix it just so they can get elected. It is what it is. Is Glen Beck the only one who gets it?

I apologize for playing the same video or at least pointing to the same video or graphics as in previous posts. But this is important. Truth should be persistent.

Look, fiscally speaking, we’re in a land of hurt, and politicians and talking heads just want to play politics – future be damned. And if you think Obama or McCain is just going to flop down into 1600 and fix this horror, you’re a damned fool. The coming storm is something like America has never seen before.

Oh, the collapse probably won’t happen tomorrow, or even next year. But it will happen. Stars like Obama and McCain may lie, but the numbers never do.

Alan Speakman

Note To David Letterman – Quit Your Whining!

September 26, 2008


Last week Barack Obama appeared on Late Night with David Letterman with his “Change” mantra.  On Wednesday of this week, Senator John McCain was scheduled to be Letterman’s guest. However, with the economic crisis, McCain felt it was not appropriate to appear on an entertainment program, and notified Letterman he was suspending his campaign and returning to Washington to help work on the solution to the crisis.

Forced into an uncomfortable position of having to scurry for a backup guest,  he settled on Keith Olbermann, the man who put the exclamation point on the sentance, “Responsible Journalism is dead!”

During the opening monologue Letterman, known to be a hot-head, felt put off, especially since he had previously described McCain as a true hero. But after McCain cancelled, Letterman stated, “This doesn’t smell right. I think somebody’s putting something in his Metamucil.”

During his segment, Olbermann repeatedly confirmed his image as an ass… excuse me… a DEMOCRAT kissing liberal. He informed Letterman that McCain was actually there, in the CBS studios, giving an interview to Katie Couric. Letterman asked for (and got) a live feed from the studio where McCain was indeed preparing to be interviewed by Couric.

For the record, I think McCain cancelled the Letterman appearance for the right reasons. However, I feel it was a mistake to do so, then stop to give Couric an interview without giving Letterman an explanation. Yes, of course, Couric’s interview was an opportunity to focus seriously on the current financial crisis and it was important to get that message out through the mainstream media.

However, I believe that McCain could have ALSO delivered the same message to an even bigger audience consisting of a different demographic than those who watch Couric. And that may come back to haunt him.

Of course Letterman, the Sultan of Sarcasm took McCain to task, and has done so for the past several days. Not satisied to ridicule the Senator during his monolog, he’s also targeted McCain in his “Top Ten List,” a   segment that stopped being funny at about the same time he took his show from NBC to CBS as payback to NBC for not giving him the Tonight Show.

He’ll probably continue hammering McCain tonight. As such, I feel compelled to write this as an open message to Dave Letterman:

Quit WHINING, you self-absorbed little snot! While it’s unfortunate that you had to scurry about to get a fill-in guest (and it must have really sucked to find out that Keith Olbermann was the best you could come up with), the bottom line is, we’re in CRISIS mode and Senator McCain made the decision that addressing the crisis was more important than appearing on your TV program.

Your reaction was comical at first. But as usual, you don’t seem to be able to recognize when the horse is dead. Stop beating it. Get over it and move on, you whining little wanker!  And while you’re over it, get over yourself! There’s a reason you constantly rank behind the Tonight Show. This was a perfect example as to why…

Gerry Ashley

Skeeter Economics

September 22, 2008


Remember those terrible “Skeeter Movies” from back in the early ’90s? They were campy little low-budget flicks meant to suspend reason and, in general, be goofy in an upbeat sort of way (though predicting long-term disaster). Usually they entailed an eeevil government/military/corporation plot gone awry and an optimistic neophyte with the perfect idea to save the world!

In a very real sense, what we’re facing today is a form of that genre.  Call it Skeeter Economics. The markets probably won’t auger in, and all the talking heads will say that two and a half pages from the White House will have saved the day. Gotta love them last-moment skeeter scientists/economists.

Wait, wait, wait… Let’s backtrack for a moment.  Just to give you (and me) some hope of understanding the lingo (DDT if you will) that will be gushing from the news channels, here’s a quick BBC link that offers thumbnail descriptions of some of the terms likely to be used. Using that link in conjunction with one of our earlier rants we might just have a prayer of understanding most of the details that are about to unravel. Good luck.

Back in the bigger (pecuniary) swamp (you may want to fasten your seat belts and return your seat backs and tray tables into their full, upright positions): We’re $9 trillion in the hole and that does not include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Add those in, and we’re talking something along the lines of $50 trillion. Our GDP is only $12 trillion. China and Russia are larvae just being born. Listen: Can you hear the buzzing?

Look. Our economy is just plain “skeeter crazy.” It would be harmlessly goofy if it weren’t all so world-crushing. Put another way: Our economy is spinning out of control faster than  that underground science experiment in France and Switzerland. And it just became more likely to create a black hole.

Alan Speakman