Links 12/19/09


  1. attempter

    Geithner is certainly incompetent and I accept as a principle that there’s no situation, no matter how screwed up, that he can’t screw up even worse.

    Still, the Clusterstock piece completely ignores the elephant in the room that Citi didn’t have to and according to most analyses should not have been paying back the TARP at this time. I haven’t heard that Geithner somehow forced them to do that at all.

    (Of course the real answer is that it’s Feinberg who “forced” them to do it. That’s because all sober observers recognize that these banksters are all psychopaths focused 100% on their “bonus” looting, and that’s the only metric they have for assessing anything.

    But Serious Professionals try to pretend things aren’t quite that bad, so we get analyses like this which try to pretend there was any factor at work here other than Citi’s bonus dementia.

    I don’t doubt Geithner helped make the sale go even more poorly than it needed to have, but the core reason it went poorly is because the market recognizes that Citi’s a basket case which shouldn’t have been rushing to pay back the TARP at all, and that its behavior here is simply deranged and driven only by short-term personal looting motives, at the expense of the company’s balance sheet “health”, such as it is.)

  2. Richard Kline

    The exercise in blowing smoke in Copenhagen is what we can no unreservedly call ‘definitive Obama’: Enter in with no proposal or spine, but boodles of vacuus platitudes; tentatively offer $.10 on the dollar of what you should pursue; give away down to $.03; ensure that no binding, hard, deadline-defined committment to do anything is proposed/accepted; utter pablum wrapped around the word “progress” into the microphones; get out of town fast. The substance of the man would be invisible except for the fact that— . . . let’s not go there.

    I’m already longing for Election night, 2012, and I’ll bet many a one of you are as well. 5:2 it’s Gen. Presidente Betraeus, which is far from something to look forward to. by then it will have been twelve years since we’ve had a competent adult in the Office. Which I wouldn’t care about except that these ‘capacities, other’ individuals of the endless interregnum are making things decidedly worse apart from being outrageous liars.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      “I’m already longing for Election night, 2012, and I’ll bet many a one of you are as well. 5:2 it’s Gen. Presidente Betraeus, which is far from something to look forward to. by then it will have been twelve years since we’ve had a competent adult in the Office.”

      We have had very competent adults in the Office for the past twelve years. They have served their real masters well.

      We have not had very competent adult voters bright enough to see through and boycott the scam electoral process. If you are longing for, “Election night, 2012”, then you are not a very competent human being at all and you ARE the problem. When you vote in such a now blatantly scam process that endlessly offers you more of the same tweedle dum tweedle dee then you only serve to validate and legitimize that scam process. You give up your power and proclaim to the world by your actions what a real dumb ass chump you are.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  3. DoctoRx

    Not to be snarky, but the question about whether we are prepared for the snow is a very New York/upper East Coast-centric one. I wonder if Yves knows what proportion of NC’s readership is in the path of this storm.

    I also live on the East Coast, but near Miami, and I saw no comments on any financial blog about the near-record flooding we endured Thursday and Friday this week.

    To answer the question indirectly, the weather is perfect today, I have walked on the beach this morning. Come on down. Spend your money in Florida. And you can buy an ocean-view/ocean-front condo 50% off. If you think these prices will persist then you should own lots of 10-30 year high-quality bonds. Also, last I looked, Florida still had a AAA rating from S&P.

    1. i on the ball patriot

      From North East Coastal Florida, chilly 58 and a lot of 50% plus short sales going on …

      Buy Canadian shore front. Lots of elevation, cheaper land, less oppressive government, you can fish farm, it is already getting warmer and you won’t have to worry about the floods. Florida will be floods central …


      “At the 3 degrees rise predicted by the UN on the basis of current negotiating positions, you can declare the game over. That is potentially the tipping point beyond which it is impossible to regain any control over global temperatures, the point at which positive feedback mechanisms cause temperatures to increase exponentially. I cannot adequately describe the full horror of such a scenario – the food shortages, the droughts, the floods, the fleeing of millions of people from newly uninhabitable territory, the intensified geopolitical competition over basic resources, the extinction of half or more of the species on the planet… it’s just unthinkable. But, as Copenhagen shows, unthinkable horror is exactly what the rulers of the world have in store for us.”

      More here …

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I happen to be in Alabama right now, and YOU, DoctoRx, are revealing Florida centricity! The snowstorm is hitting the entire East coast. down to Tennessee, and they may have a record December snow (as in record for the month, not just one storm) for the DC area.

      And they are having severe snowstorms in the UK too.

    3. David

      As it turns out the storm went mostly south of NYC. I’m in the northern suburbs and we got only a few flakes. But we thought we were going to get 2 feet.

      It’s tempting to think of moving to Florida and getting out of all this winter. Unless I move there, I could not buy a condo or other place there. Aren’t there hefty property taxes as well as association fees for condos?

      1. i on the ball patriot

        Taxes, set in the boom, are high, but dropping (there is a homestead exemption), and condo fees are all over the lot depending on the strength/value of the particular condo association with many poised for failure. Do your homework. I would suggest renting, the market will be reasonably priced for a long, long, loooong while to come …

        As a displaced New Englander, originally from Boston, I am here to tell you the weather is delightful! Awesome, physically beautiful city here (link) but comes with a culture shock and local gangster government that has been hijacked by the tourist industry which will see hard times ahead.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    I believe the lama, maybe it’s the llama or lllama, I believe he is saying ‘If I can see further, it is because I have a long neck.’

    And that’s today’s lesson from Animal Wisdom.

  5. Uncle Billy Cunctator

    It is imperative to get MLTPB and Doc Holiday together for holiday grog. (or has this happened already?)

    Happy Holidays, Yves, Citizens.

    May all your capitalist constructs disintegrate in the new year.

  6. gordon

    It’s remarkably difficult to determine exactly what did happen at Copenhagen. I’m reduced to Wikipedia, here:

    The “Outcome” section of that article states:

    “Early on Saturday 19 December, delegates approved a motion to “take note of the Copenhagen Accord[80] of December 18, 2009″. However it was reported that it was not yet clear whether the motion was unanimous, or what its legal implications are….”

    As I understand it, if approval wasn’t unanimous then technically nothing happened at Copenhagen which could be called a UN Conference outcome. Representatives of some Govts. who happened to be together in the capital of Denmark agreed to a thing called the “Copenhagen Accord” but, unless approval was unanimous, that has nothing to do with COP15 or the UN or the UNFCCC. Even if approval was unanimous, all that has happened was that COP15 has agreed to take note of that Accord.

    The Accord itself is the subject of another Wikipedia article which gives the text:

    The Accord sets no targets for greenhouse gas reductions by developed countries. All it says is: “Annex I Parties [developed countries] commit to implement individually or jointly the quantified economywide emissions targets for 2020, to be submitted in the format given in Appendix I by Annex I Parties to the secretariat by 31 January 2010 for compilation in an INF document”.

    I recall that the Kyoto Protocol does/did have an overall reduction target of 5.2% from 1990 levels by 2012. Riddled with loopholes as Kyoto is/was, there were targets.

    I also recall that Kyoto has an enforcement mechanism, described here:

    No specific enforcement mechanisms are included in the Copenhagen Accord. Instead, the Accord says: “Delivery of reductions and financing by developed countries will be measured, reported and verified in accordance with existing and any further guidelines adopted by the Conference of the Parties, and will ensure that accounting of such targets and finance is rigorous, robust and transparent”.

    I find this ambiguous; does it amount to an acceptance of existing Kyoto enforcement arrangements, or is it intended to replace them? In either case, can it have any effect if the Accord was only “noted” at the COP15 Conference?

    Finally, what is the implication of the “Accord” for Kyoto? Kyoto doesn’t automatically expire in 2012; it was anticipated that a new agreement might replace it, but if that doesn’t happen Kyoto, as far as I know, will simply go on (needing new targets, of course). I don’t see that an Accord which has only at best been “noted” can claim to replace Kyoto. If it is intended to replace Kyoto, then the originators of the Accord might be expected to withdraw from Kyoto using the withdrawal mechanism in that Protocol (12 months notice, from memory, though of course the US never signed).

    1. Michael

      The ‘accord’ is just something they can point to to say all the money and travel wasn’t a complete and utter waste of time. You don’t get that many heads of state together to make agreements, just to put a smiling face behind the paperwork of those already made. Afterall, they’re not absolute rulers of each country so can’t even make such decisions alone.

      And what leader is going to give up any sovereignty for their nation to help another anyway? (well unless it’s to pay hollywood or monsanto for `ip’ rights!)

      And damn jobs, they’re so worried about coal mining jobs for their next election (if they have one), and none of them will be in power if things really go south.

  7. eric anderson

    Senate is dysfunctional? Most of the federal government is dysfunctional. We live in a dysfunctocracy. (I can’t take credit for that. I think I first read it in a comment on Zero Hedge.)

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