Michael Wolraich's picture

    Death For Sale: "Life Settlements" Are the New Subprime Mortgages on Wall Street

    A few years ago, I met a young millionaire who had made a fortune buying life insurance policies from the elderly and reselling them to investors. He would offer policy owners cash upfront, and when they died, the companies to which he had sold the policies would receive the benefits. Of course, he earned a percentage. It struck me as a clever but shady operation.

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    Deadman's picture

    Twist and Shout: Why the Politics of Rage Makes Me Want to Cry

    "...it is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"

    I was livid when I first saw video from the health care town hall meeting that took place last week in my hometown St. Louis.  I had already seen enough similar footage from other cities, but the fact that these were in some ways 'my folk' infuriated me.

    Ignorant rednecks, I thought, the whole lot of them.

    Deadman's picture

    Is the US Postal Service obsolete? And what does it mean for health care?

    So apparently, the U.S. Postal Service is in a peck of trouble. Despite raising postage fees numerous times during the past couple of years, the USPS announced earlier this week that it had lost $2.4 billion between April and June and would be $7 billion in debt by the end of September.

    Are you kidding me? $2.4 billion in losses in 3 months?? Are you sure the USPS isn't making cars or selling subprime mortgages?

    Deadman's picture

    MOFT: Episode 17 (Crocs)

    As devoted deadman blog readers with photographic memories know (a surprisingly slim sample size), I've never been a fan of being barefoot.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Breaking: Goldman Sachs Apologizes for Earnings, Promises to Reduce Profits

    Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, apologized today for his firm's strong earnings in 2009. In a press statement, he took responsibility for the profit and promised to lose money more aggressively for the remainder of the year.

    Deadman's picture

    Health care cost crisis - how about some comparison shopping?

    Our own Orlando yesterday posted an unbelievably tragic story regarding her mother and how our health care system completely failed her and her family. It's a powerful tale, one whose basic premise unfortunately could probably be told by way too many people in this country, and everyone needs to read it.

    But trying to put aside the raw emotions for a moment - albeit, a nearly impossible task when discussing people's health and/or finances - this is a crisis where the answers will not come easy.

    Deadman's picture

    MOLFT: Episode 2 (Cell phone taxes, fees and surcharges)

    I'll get back to the regularly scheduled My One Favorite Things soon enough, but right now I got a bone to pick with my cell phone company, T-Mobile.

    I mostly have positive vibes toward T-Mobile as their customer service has been very helpful and their network seems to have continually improved in New York City, but I'm annoyed with the numerous 'surcharges' the company tacks on to my monthly bill.

    Deadman's picture

    The Audacity - and Righteousness - of Citigroup

    Citigroup executives have decided in their infinite wisdom to increase base salaries for many of their employees by as much as 50 percent.

    The bank says the raises - which will be partially offset by a reduction in bonuses, though overall compensation packages could be higher or lower - are necessary to remain competitive ... in an environment where the official unemployment rate will soon be in the double digits no less.

    Deadman's picture

    iPhone 3.0: Apple's First Law of Inertia

    I've always sucked at making decisions. Leave where we're having lunch up to me and we'll likely be having dinner there.

    If there's one thing about modern life I cannot stand, it's the plethora of options we have. Sure the freedoms we now enjoy are terrific, the new opportunities exciting, the potential adventures limitless, but instead I like to focus on all the bad choices we can now make.

    Deadman's picture

    MOLFT: Episode 1 (Priceline sucks)

    I'm usually an easy customer. It doesn't take much to please me. Just treat me fair and show me respect. Work with me if you've made a mistake. Just basic, simple stuff.

    Deadman's picture

    Ring the Bell. School's back in ...

    In my recent questions column, our own dagblogger Nebton says the biggest risk he ever took was to go to graduate school after 30.

    With official unemployment nearing double digits (and the unofficial number much higher), a lot of people looking for something to do are following Nebton's example and going back to school.

    Deadman's picture

    MOFT: Episode 16 (PokerStars)

    You've seen a lot less of me on dagblog lately, and while I'd love to put all of the blame for my absence on my Beyonce and the wedding plans which have been set in hot and heavy motion (It's mostly painful, stressful stuff, but registering at Target was hella fun - come to Papa, Wii!!), but there is a much bigger badder beast than Mrs. All-Consuming Wedding at work here - and its name is PokerStars.

    Deadman's picture

    Why Facebook will be a HUGE business...

    Late last year one of my predictions for 2009 was that Facebook would go public, sparking a mini-rally in the markets.

    Deadman's picture

    Newspaper bailout? Please no ... but we do need The Watchmen

    What a shock. A reporter (fearing for his own job, perhaps?) asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs if the potential imminent closure of the venerable Boston Globe calls for yet another government bailout, this time to save the flailing newspaper industry.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    American Hegemony: What is it, Where is it going, and Who really cares anyway?

    There have been many sober pronouncements lately about the end American hegemony, both on this blog and elsewhere. Some have reacted with despondence, others with glee. It may be that the end is nigh--it has to end sometime--but we should keep in mind that the forecasters of doom emerge from their caves during every period of hardship.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Deflation Looms, Parte Dos: European Edition

    Last week, I wrote about the threat of deflation after the news that U.S. consumer prices dropped last year, the first time since 1955. Dagblog's Deadman played down the risk, and I agreed that current deflation levels were not a threat. But now it seems that deflation is knocking a bit harder at Europe's door, particularly Spain's.

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    Deadman's picture

    The dagbuzz for 3/17/09: (Ashton, Oprah and Generation Twitter)

    I AM DEADMAN. HEAR ME TWEET!

    Big news today. Ashton Kutcher just attracted his one millionth follower on the microblogging service Twitter, a milestone which has generated a fair amount of fanfare, but it's only the beginning as cult leader Oprah is going to feature Twitter on her talk show today and send her first tweet over the air.

    Oh, how wonderful.

    Excuse me if I don't join in the celebration - if I'm not all, ahem, atwitter with the news - but I have very mixed feelings here.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Prices Fall, Deflation Looms

    U.S. consumer prices fell unexpectedly in March and recorded their first annual drop since 1955, government data showed on Wednesday, as slumping demand pushed down energy and food costs. [Reuters]

    Falling prices? It's like a national fire-sale. What's not to like?

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    Deadman's picture

    Baby Boom Goes the Dynamite: The Generation's Lasting Legacy

    The Baby Boomers have blown it in spectacular fashion.

    For much of the past 20 years, they have been the ones in charge of this country. During that time, they have...

    ... ignored the looming Social Security crisis, which has been simmering for decades and is now apparently coming to a boiling point much quicker than originally estimated.

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