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.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Bankers Want Out of Bailout Conditions

    Banks are chafing under Federal bailout terms, according to today's New York Times. Fearing that they will be forced to sell off toxic assets and curtail executive compensation, some banks are trying to return bailout money. But there's a catch. In order to receive the bailout loans, the banks had to grant the Federal Government stock warrants. The warrants give the Federal Government the option to buy stock in the company at a specified price.

    Deadman's picture

    Playing God and Taking Shortcuts ...

    This financial crisis is more than what it appears.

    It is symptomatic of a society that at some point over the last 30 years lost its way by seeking not the road less traveled, but instead the quickest route.

    It is the culmination of a mindset that increasingly became interested in pursuing immediate gratification at any cost.

    Look around you. In every area of modern life, the shortcut has become the rule, not the exception.

    Deadman's picture

    Government Debt: The Final Bubble

    Could this be the beginning of the end for our markets' last great bubble?

    An auction today of $34 billion in 5-year U.S. government bonds didn't go over so well, fetching prices well under what analysts were expecting.

    Ruh-roh.

    Oh I know, it may not seem like that big of a deal. The debt still got sold, unlike an unsuccessful auction for 40-year bonds in the UK. The fact that our auction resulted in yields (which move in the opposite direction of the price of bonds) of 1.849% versus the expected 1.801% seems like rather unimportant, inside-baseball type of stuff.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Don't Raise the Barricades

    A recent World Bank study indicates a disturbing rise in trade protectionism around the world in response to the economic crisis. Here are a few examples:

    Deadman's picture

    The dagbuzz for 3/23/09: (The Geithner Bank Stability Plan)

    Details of the Geithner bank stability plan came out today, and Wall Street for one loved it. And why not,  for the plan basically allows financial institutions to take the worse of the toxic assets rotting away on their balance sheets and pawn off the vast majority of the risks of nonpayment onto the U.S. government (and ultimately the U.S. taxpayer).

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    Deadman's picture

    Eliot Spitzer: A thoughtful voice of reason (alas, without any power)

    I strongly encourage everyone to watch this video as former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer gives  thoughtful, reasoned insights into a whole host of recent topics related to our financial crisis, including AIG bonuses, Obama's performance, the media's impact, regulation, etc.

    I recommend the 20-minute Fareed Zakaria CNN interview in its entirety, but if you only have limited time, Spitzer offers a concise explanation into the cause of our current economic situation for a few minutes starting at about the 10:45 mark.

    Deadman's picture

    Public-private partnership proposal poses plenty of problems

    Oh goody. Looks like we're about to hear the details of Geithner's long-awaited financial stability plan, which has as one of its key components a public-private investment pool designed to help rid our system of the toxic assets rotting away on bank balance sheets.

    Apparently, the Treasury will hire four or five private investment managers to run a fund that will purchase the assets. The government will then match whatever monies the private firms manage to raise and invest.

    Deadman's picture

    The Congress AIG Bonus Bill: Bravo! (Seriously...)

    Great. Now there's a backlash to the backlash to the AIG bonuses, and everyone is scolding Congress for acting so rashly in crafting a bill designed to recover 90% of the bonuses in taxes.

    Conservatives are complaining the bill is unconstitutional and unproductive. In his Obama interview, Jay Leno said he's frightened about its implications, and our own Genghis is mocking the effort.

    Gimme a break.

    Deadman's picture

    CBS, Microsoft: Brilliant NCAA Tournament Silverlight strategy

    Well, except for a couple of close final games (sorry A-man about the Illini loss), it was a pretty uneventful first day in the 2009 NCAA March Madness tourney (you know it can't have been too interesting when your girlfriend correctly selects every game but one - she feels your pain A-man!).

    So I figured instead of discussing the actual games, I'd quickly mention an interesting side issue surrounding CBS Sports' online coverage of the tourney.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    China: Tiger on a Leash

    As the U.S. sinks deeper into recession and China gorges itself on ever greater quantities of American debt, you will start to hear about the "Chinese model" and the end of American hegemony. Yet China remains tethered by a stiff leash which will ultimately choke the charging tiger once it runs out slack: its government.

    Deadman's picture

    The dagbuzz for 3/17/09: Zombie Banks and Executive Suicides

    Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley yesterday went on the radio and suggested AIG executives do what their Japanese peers often do when the proverbial shit hits the fan and either "resign or go commit suicide."

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    Deadman's picture

    AIG Chief on Bonuses: Our 'Hands are Tied...' Are You F-in Kidding Me?

    Apparently, $175 billion doesn't buy what it used to.

    AIG has decided that it has no choice but to pay out $165 million in bonuses to employees due to contractual obligations. And the government has decided it has no legal recourse to stop the payments.

    Deadman's picture

    Cramer v. Stewart: Wow!

    I have railed against CNBC host Jim Cramer for some time. I enjoy him greatly as an entertainer, and when he focuses on the inner workings of the stock market, I think he does a pretty decent job of educating regular investors as well.

    Deadman's picture

    The dagbuzz for 3/11/09: Grading Obama's Presidency??

    So some jackass reporter decided to ask White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to grade President Obama's performance after a whoppin' 50 days in office. Seriously? You could pass the question off as harmless, silly journalistic tripe, but I think it's symptomatic of a rush to judge and criticize anything and everything Obama is trying to accomplish. It's unhealthy, unproductive and unfair. The time to hand out grades will eventually come, but for now, how about giving the president a break and let him do his job.

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    Deadman's picture

    Whaddya know?? Markets go up too! ...

    I am usually the bearer of such depressing market and economic news, I have to at least give some props when there are some good things to talk about.

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