Monday, February 18, 2008

Gotcha! Federal Reserve HAS been bailing out the banks without telling us!

Reuters now has a report from The Financial Times explaining that banks have quietly borrowed roughly $50 billion from the Federal Reserve the past few weeks.

excerpt from Federal Reserve Web site

Please note that on February 7, this blogger noted that the report on the Federal Reserve website showed that more than $40 billion had disappeared from the books in just the past few weeks. (Thanks again to all my paranoid (but eagle-eyed) buddies at the Godlike Productions forum for spotting the strange goings on.)

The Fed site shows that its reserves had tumbled from $42,281 billion in the black during November to -$8749 billion in the red by February 7. As of February 13, they are now down to -$18,009 billion. According to the records on the Fed site, nothing like this has ever happened before.

Aren't these the reserves designed to protect us against bank runs and insolvency? Does this mean we're broke but nobody has bothered to tell us yet?

I do want to thank the vigilant citizen journalist watchdogs who are keeping on eye on the big boys for us. But I also want to know how a meltdown of these proportions could go unnoticed by the mainstream financial press.

Even now, with word of the bailout beginning to leak out, where is the analysis telling us what it means?

The Financial Times fails to answer my bottom-line question - is it time to put my money in gold -- or in my mattress?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Marrying John didn't make Yoko a great singer and marrying Bill . . .

Erica Jong argues in the Huffington Post that the Hillary-Haters are ruining the chances for us to have the first woman president in the United States. She views women for Obama as turncoats. "Ok folks, stick your heads in the sand like Maureen Dowd who thinks we're not against women but just against Clinton 'baggage.'"

What Jong and many other old-line feminists ignore is that believing that a woman should have an equal shot at being president does not mean that every woman is the right choice for the job. Again, marrying John didn't make Yoko a Beatle or a great singer. And marrying Bill didn't make Hillary a great politician or a potentially great president either.

The problem with the Clintons is baggage. Pointing out the failures of the Clinton co-presidency is not evidence of Hillary-hating, it's proof of a good memory, coupled with an overwhelming desire not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

On January 31, the New York Times ran an article about how Bill Clinton took Canadian mining exec Frank Giustra with him to Kazakhstan, where two days later Giustra walked off with three spectacular contracts for uranium. Shortly thereafter, Giustra donated $31 million to the Clinton Library (or patronage slush fund, if you prefer), with a promise of $100 million more.

Barack Obama may not need to use this ammo to derail Hillary's presidential aspirations. He seems to be doing just fine rolling along above the fray. But can you imagine what the Republicans could do with that in a fall campaign? Even today's Hillary-lovers might recover from their current amnesia and remember why she's ultimately unelectable no matter which gender she is.

Some of Hillary's high negatives stem from misogyny, which remains a sad reality. There are also white folks who will never vote for Barack Obama no matter how qualified and talented he is, and that is equally sad.

But sympathy for discrimination is not a good enough reason to vote for a woman who is not the right choice for the job. The worst thing in the world would be for women to push Hillary over the top now only to have her fail in the fall and elect President McCain.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A trend whose time has not come

Amy Winehouse with Cindy McCain, Michelle Obama and Hillary
I am old enough to remember the beehives of the Fifties. Maybe someone as hot/cool at Amy Winehouse can wear her hair piled high, but Cindy McCain has been looking a little odd lately, with that French twist thingie creeping up the back of her head. And we all remember those painful years when Hillary's hair shaped-shifted from one dorky 'do to another. Let's nip this new trend in the bud before it spreads any further.

A new future for Michigan

Michigan Future Inc.
Note to Michigan Future: If you want credibility in talking about high-tech jobs, invest in a better-looking Web site.
A new study by Michigan Future Inc. finds that Detroit, Grand Rapids and Lansing are falling behind the rest of the country in creating high-level jobs. The report argues that recent MIchigan government policies, such as cutting corporate taxes and dis-investing in higher education, are the wrong medicine for what ails us.

It is sad that The Detroit News, the Republican business paper, embraces the know-nothing strategies that actually drive good jobs from Michigan. There's the cut-taxes mantra. Equally as short-sighted is the rigid orthodoxy that lowering CAFE standards is bad for the car business.

Sorry, Henry, but the lesson of the Seventies was that smart car companies should focus on building fuel-efficient, reliable cars. Detroit's Big Three instead invested in manufacturing pickup trucks on steroids they sold to insecure males desperate to flaunt something big. Or SUVs/Hummers for soccer moms who mistakenly think they're safer. These gas-guzzling monsters are simply this era's equivalent of the fin-tailed, chrome-clotted land-monsters that put Detroit and Flint into the economic dumper the first time that gas prices spiked as a result of Middle East misadventures.

The first time is tragedy, the second time farce. So why aren't we laughing?