Speaking of big banks…

…I’ve been watching some football this last month (bowl season and NFL playoffs) and almost every major bowl is sponsored by large banks, some of which received bailout funds. One that sticks out is Citi, which gave large sums of money to the Granddaddy of ’em all: The Rose Bowl. So, let me get this straight: Citi begs for bailout money because it may fail. They receive millions of dollars from current and FUTURE taxpayers and they….put it toward endorsing the Rose Bowl apparently? 

I think there should be a clause in the ol’ bailout agreement: If you’re ailing and you’re not able to finance companies that you lend money to (i.e. Republic Windows and Doors being crapped on by Bank of America) then surely you can’t afford boosting college football, right? RIGHT?

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Wow, I guess being ignorant and out of touch is bliss…

…when you’re John Thain or any other banking exec for that matter. I’ve commented on this guy before and now it has gotten completely out of hand. Are these guys that clueless, or are they just that greedy and gluttoness? I think all of those individuals that continue to take advantage of their position of power and have willingly and knowingly forced this country into economic ruin should be tried for treason, starting with this idiot:

Media reports Thursday said former Merrill Lynch & Co. CEO John Thain has resigned from Bank of America Corp. following news that Merrill had moved up its yearend bonuses, paying them just before BofA’s government-brokered acquisition of Merrill was completed.

The bonuses to Merrill Lynch executives were also paid out as the company prepared to report a $15.45 billion fourth-quarter loss _ a loss that led Bank of America to request and receive $20 billion in additional government bailout money. Merrill also received bailout funds.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America has increasingly come under criticism in recent weeks for its acquisition of Merrill Lynch, a deal fostered by the government to save Merrill Lynch on the same day that Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed amid the ballooning credit crisis. On Thursday, Bank of America said it knew of Merrill’s plans to more up the bonuses.

“Merrill was an independent company until Jan. 1 of 2009,” said Bank of America spokesman Scott Silvestri. “John Thain decided to pay year-end incentives in December, as opposed to their normal date in January. Bank of America was informed of his decision.”

The bonuses raise the question of how proper it was for executives in a struggling company to be given big payouts even as its soon-to-be-parent was accepting billions of dollars in government money. Bonuses are widely seen in the investment banking industry as necessary to retain top performers, but the fact that they were granted while tens of thousands of jobs were being eliminated across the securities and banking industry raises another question: How necessary were they to prevent defections?

More about Thain below. This is ridiculous:

In early 2008, just as Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain was preparing to slash expenses, cut thousands of jobs and exit businesses to fix the ailing securities firm, he was also spending company money on himself, senior people at the firm say.

According to documents reviewed by The Daily Beast, Thain spent $1.22 million of company money to refurbish his office at Merrill Lynch headquarters in lower Manhattan. The biggest piece of the spending spree: $800,000 to hire famed celebrity designer Michael Smith, who is currently redesigning the White House for the Obama family for just $100,000.

 

The other big ticket items Thain purchased include: $87,000 for an area rug in Thain’s conference room and another area rug for $44,000; a “mahogany pedestal table” for $25,000; a “19th Century Credenza” in Thain’s office for $68,000; a sofa for $15,000; four pairs curtains for $28,000; a pair of guest chairs for $87,000; a “George IV Desk” for $18,000; 6 wall sconces for $2,700; six chairs in his private dining room for $37,000; a mirror in his private dining room for $5,000; a chandelier in the private dining room for $13,000; fabric for a “Roman Shade” for $11,000; a “custom coffee table” for $16,000; something called a “commode on legs” for $35,000; a “Regency Chairs” for $24,000; “40 yards of farbric for wall panels,” for $5,000 and a “parchment waste can” for $1,400.

Thain was tapped to run Merrill Lynch as the firm suffered massive losses from investments tied to the depressed real estate market under his predecessor Stan O’Neal, who was ousted in late 2007. Those losses continued through 2008, forcing Thain and his management team to sell the brokerage firm to Bank of America in mid-September or face near certain liquidation as investors fearing further losses began pulling lines of credit and other financing.

Just last week, Bank of America announced that Merrill has suffered an unexpected loss of $15 million for the fourth quarter of 2008, nearly collapsing BofA’s purchase. Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis said that without $138 billion in government assistance, including the infusion of $20 billion from the federal government he would have pulled out of the Merrill deal, which was approved by BofA shareholders in early December.

SERIOUSLY?! This guy knew the ship was sinking and continued to live the high class lifestyle in and out of the office. Now the ripple effect continues into Bank of America due to Thain’s piss poor management scheme and we can all be sure that Bank of America will be coming for a handout soon. This man should be locked up in federal prison for this garbage. Doesn’t this piss anyone else off, or am I alone in this country that has been tarnished by mass corruption, greed, and gluttony?

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Good riddance

…..at least we won’t have to deal with this garbage anymore. At least I hope that is the case.

The Dallas Morning News reports that President Bush is planning to install a gate limiting public access to his house — on a public street. Federal money would be used to pay for the gate.

Just like his father, President George W. Bush will return to Texas when he leaves office.
And just like his father, he wants a gate to be installed along a public street to limit access to his neighborhood.

Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm confirmed Monday that the younger Bush is seeking to have a gate placed somewhere along the entrance to streets leading to his future Preston Hollow address.

 

Bush’s new community has a history of controversial exclusivity. Raw Story reportedthat the neighborhood of Preston Hollow did not allow non-white residents until 2000.

What a douchebag.

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The Heartbeat of the Universe?

I recently ran across an article about soundwaves (radio waves) that are heard throughout the universe. As many folks may know astronomists have been researching and tracking these phenomena for quite some time. Not until very recently, though, did they discover this:

Space is typically thought of as a very quiet place. But one team of astronomers has found a strange cosmic noise that booms six times louder than expected.

The roar is from the distant cosmos. Nobody knows what causes it.

Of course, sound waves can’t travel in a vacuum (which is what most of space is), or at least they  can’t very efficiently. But radio waves can.

Radio waves are not sound waves, but they are still electromagnetic waves, situated on the low-frequency end of the light spectrum.

Many objects in the universe, including stars and quasars, emit radio waves. Even our home galaxy, the Milky Way, emits a static hiss (first detected in 1931 by physicist Karl Jansky). Other galaxies also send out a background radio hiss.

But the newly detected signal, described here today at the 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, is far louder than astronomers expected.

There is “something new and interesting going on in the universe,” said Alan Kogut of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

A team led by Kogut detected the signal with a balloon-borne instrument named ARCADE (AbsoluteRadiometer for Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Diffuse Emission).

In July 2006, the instrument was launched from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, and reached an altitude of about 120,000 feet (36,500 meters), where the atmosphere thins into the vacuum of space.

ARCADE’s mission was to search the sky for faint signs of heat from the first generation of stars, but instead they heard a roar from the distant reaches of the universe.

Detailed analysis of the signal ruled out primordial stars or any known radio sources, including gas in the outermost halo of our own galaxy.

Other radio galaxies also can’t account for the noise – there just aren’t enough of them.

The signal is measured to be six times brighter than the combined emission of all known radio sources in the universe.

For now, the origin of the signal remains a mystery.

And not only has it presented astronomers with a new puzzle, it is obscuring the sought-for signal from the earliest stars. But the cosmic static may itself provide important clues to the development of galaxies when the universe was much younger, less than half its present age. Because the radio waves come from far away, traveling at the speed of light, they therefore represent an earlier time in the universe.

One word: AWESOME!

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A New Dawn

Congratulations are in order for our new President, Mr. Barack Obama….and the American people for keeping the faith through 8 dark years of  American history.

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So, when do we start calling it a depression?

From the WashingtonPost:

In ordinary times, a college degree goes a long way toward securing employment, even during a recession. It also offers some measure of job security: Workers with at least a college diploma are less likely to lose their jobs in down times. But college grads such as Razmara are now finding that a postsecondary education isn’t necessarily enough.

In fact, labor economists say the unemployment rate for workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher is poised to hit a record high. This recession is so far-reaching, they contend, few are immune from the consequences.

Because the unemployment rate tends to lag behind other economic indicators, analysts think unemployment among college-educated workers is likely to surpass 4 percent, which would be the highest rate since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking unemployment by education level in 1970.

Just sayin’.

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Outlook: Not good

NY Times:

“As Vacant Office Space Grows, So Does Lenders’ Crisis”

Vacancy rates in office buildings exceed 10 percent in virtually every major city in the country and are rising rapidly, a sign of economic distress that could lead to yet another wave of problems for troubled lenders.

With job cuts rampant and businesses retrenching, more empty space is expected from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles in the coming year. Rental income would then decline and property values would slide further. The Urban Land Institute predicts 2009 will be the worst year for the commercial real estate market “since the wrenching 1991-1992 industry depression.”

Stock analysts say commercial real estate is the next ticking time bomb for banks, which have already received hundreds of billions of dollars in capital and other assistance from the federal government. Big banks — like Bank of AmericaJPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley — each hold tens of billions of dollars in commercial real estate securities. The banks also invested directly in properties.

Regional banks may be an even bigger concern. In the last decade, they barreled their way into commercial real estate lending after being elbowed out of the credit card and consumer mortgage business by national players. The proportion of their lending that is in commercial real estate has nearly doubled in the last six years, according to government data.

Just as home loans were pooled, then carved up and sold to investors as securities over the last two decades, commercial property loans were repackaged for the financial markets. In 2006 and 2007, nearly 60 percent of commercial property loans were turned into securities, according to Trepp, a research firm that tracks mortgage-backed securities.

Now that the market for those securities has dried up, borrowers cannot easily roll over the loans that are coming due.

You can check this story out in the NY Times or http://www.huffingtonpost.com. My father and I have discussed this issue for years, starting with residential properties and condominiums, and then commercial development. Stretch malls and shopping centers pop up more than the consumer demand and development was occurring simply to develop. The bottom line: the market became saturated with products that the consumer didn’t need or want. This is happening all over the country, especially in the housing market. Greed and gluttony are coming back to haunt us in the coming years.

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