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Archive for the ‘finances’ Category

End of the Silly Season?

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2008 Taipei City New Year Countdown Party: The...
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I have a buddy who suggested to me this morning that the “silly season” is now over. So much for Xmas and New Year’s Eve.

Maybe that notion explains my own “silly season” which seems to be coming to an abrupt but not unpainful end. Sorry for the indirectness of these comments.

One unwelcome thing is happening these days for this user of VPN from a China based surfing laptop. I’m having lots of trouble accessing Twitter and Facebook. Twitter seems harder to access.

This morning I read an interesting essay about the reality of public apathy in Western democracies. The essay begs Americans to begin to protest more publicly and loudly about the fundamental injustice that has grown in the American economy in the wide gap between the wealth of the wealthiest vs. the rest.

One of the triggers for this essay is the obvious popularity of a small book in France written by a 93 yr old WW II hero and former French diplomat Stephane Hessel, “Indignez-vous!” Here is an excerpt:

Hessel’s book argues that French people should re-embrace the values of the French resistance, which have been lost, which was driven by indignation, and French people need to get outraged again.

Right now it seems to me that “Become Indignant” is almost too polite. The injustices in the present global economy are so extreme, in whatever country one considers, that indignation is not enough.

We, the people and unrich, have to find a way to fight this monopoly of power, political and financial, represented by the likes of Goldman Sachs in some real way. Why is it that the Tea Party in the US is supposed to represent public indignation. They suggest that it’s the govt that is wrong and working against the people. That’s just plainly wrong-headed.

Hessel’s thesis strikes me as much more relevant to us all than curiosities like the Tea Party.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2011/01/05 at 18:49

Who would’ve thunk it not so long ago, pre GWB!

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The western front of the United States Capitol...
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A telling excerpt:

The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

Four Scenarios for the End of the American Century by 2025

by Alfred W. McCoy

A soft landing for America 40 years from now?  Don’t bet on it.  The demise of the United States as the global superpower could come far more quickly than anyone imagines.  If Washington is dreaming of 2040 or 2050 as the end of the American Century, a more realistic assessment of domestic and global trends suggests that in 2025, just 15 years from now, it could all be over except for the shouting.

Gosh, don’t tell Sarah P! She’ll go ballistic

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Yayyyyy for Steven Hill standing up for Japanese and German economies

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Income inequality and mortality in 282 metropo...
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VS. that big ole bad US of A’s. Here is a telling excerpt:

Look at it this way: In the midst of the Great Recession, the United States is suffering through nearly 10% unemployment and 50 million people without health insurance. A new report has found over 14% of Americans living below the poverty line, including 20% of children and 23% of seniors, the highest since President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. That’s in addition to declining prospects for the middle class, and a general increase in economic insecurity.

How, then, should we regard a country that has 5% unemployment, healthcare for all its people, the lowest income inequality and is one of the world’s leading exporters? This country also scores high on life expectancy, low on infant mortality, is at the top in literacy, and is low on crime, incarceration, homicides, mental illness and drug abuse. It also has a low rate of carbon emissions, doing its part to reduce global warming. In all these categories, this particular country beats both the U.S. and China by a country mile.

Doesn’t that sound like a country from which Americans might learn a thing or two about how to get out of the mud hole in which we are stuck?

Not if that place is Japan. During and before the current economic crisis, few countries have been vilified as an economic basket case as much as the Land of the Rising Sun. Google “Japan and its economy” and you will get numerous hits about Japan’s allegedly sclerotic economy, its zombie banks, its deflation and slow economic growth. This malaise has even been called “Japan syndrome”, sounding like a disease to warn policymakers, as in “you don’t want to end up like Japan.”

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/11/27 at 15:41

The headline grabbed my attention right away!

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Bottom of Wall Street from FDR
Image by SheepGuardingLlama via Flickr

It was from an article in the New Yorker, that continues to offer me intriguing and generally useful information that I can believe, I hope!

It  said, “What good is Wall Street?” The essay is very good with person to person views of several Wall Street biggies. Here is an excerpt from the essay:

Think of all the profits produced by businesses operating in the U.S. as a cake. Twenty-five years ago, the slice taken by financial firms was about a seventh of the whole. Last year, it was more than a quarter. (In 2006, at the peak of the boom, it was about a third.) In other words, during a period in which American companies have created iPhones, Home Depot, and Lipitor, the best place to work has been in an industry that doesn’t design, build, or sell a single tangible thing

So you don’t have to wonder any more why the US economy is “underwater” so to speak! It’s focused on the “useless fruits of pure capitalism” and that’s what’s gone wrong,  I understand what John Cassidy is saying in his essay, at least in part.

Cassidy even found an apparent Wall Streeter, who seems to agree with the negative view of what happens on Wall Street now:

Paul Woolley, a seventy-one-year-old Englishman who has set up an institute at the London School of Economics called the Woolley Centre for the Study of Capital Market Dysfunctionality. “Why on earth should finance be the biggest and most highly paid industry when it’s just a utility, like sewage or gas?” Woolley said to me when I met with him in London. “It is like a cancer that is growing to infinite size, until it takes over the entire body.

Now that’s negative!

Later in the essay Wooley goes even further in commenting on market ups and downs:

Woolley had an epiphany: financial institutions that react to market incentives in a competitive setting often end up making a mess of things. “I realized we were acting rationally and optimally,” he said. “The clients were acting rationally and optimally. And the outcome was a complete Horlicks.” Financial markets, far from being efficient, as most economists and policymakers at the time believed, were grossly inefficient. “And once you recognize that markets are inefficient a lot of things change.

But I haven’t seen much CHANGE! Have you?

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/11/29/101129fa_fact_cassidy#ixzz163fvyLS5

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/11/29/101129fa_fact_cassidy#ixzz163esOHpD

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/11/29/101129fa_fact_cassidy#ixzz163baclY1

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/11/22 at 16:40

American exceptionalism challenged by a special American

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Former President Ronald Reagan and First Lady ...
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I have always liked what Michael Kingsley wrote and as he battles with his own health problems he continues to say meaningful things well! The last paragraph of his latest piece in Politico takes on the whole mythology of American exceptionalism propounded by Reagan et al and says it like it should be:

Every time I strike this note, which I guess I do a lot, I hear from people calling me elitist or unpatriotic. Here is my answer: If you think a friend is talking nonsense or behaving in a way that damages both of your long-term interests, it is not elitist to say so. To the contrary, it is treating him or her like an adult and an equal. As for patriotism, if you think your country is in danger, how is it unpatriotic to say so?

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/44500_Page2.html#ixzz149ugsDrd

Editors of Politico are to be congratulated for publishing real stuff and not just the usual right wing cant!

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/11/02 at 13:36

Indelible image of the New Las Vegas

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HuffPo offers a gallery of images of what Las Vegas looks like after the financial meltdown.

I find it frightening and it’s difficult to square the despair oozing out of this set of images with the possibility that Nevada is going to elect Sharron Angle to the Senate. She is probably the most anti-person candidate running for the Senate under the Tea Party slogan of “taking back America”. Based on the grit in the image above “What’s to take back?”

If the grim look of the image above is not enough then Paul K gives us a grim view of next decade in the USofA

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/10/27 at 14:54

I love Lapham’s way with this kind of diligence

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Conspicuous Only in Its Absence
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Conspicuous stuff with price comparison’s across this flat world!

A small sample from http://laphamsquarterly.org/visual/charts-graphs/?page=82

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/09/25 at 00:24