"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Where Billionaires Are Putting Money - The Wealth Report - WSJ

Where Billionaires Are Putting Money - The Wealth Report - WSJ:

"What was surprising about the lunch was where the attendees are putting their money. Topping the list were vacant office buildings, farmland and Africa. Stocks look attractive, but the attendees pointed out that no one has made money investing in the indexes for 12 years. “Few were enthusiastic on gold. Many liked Brazil and some favored India.”

As for the current craze among banks and some investors to borrow at low, short-term interest rates to invest in longer-term bonds, one attendee asked, “Has there ever been a carry trade that hasn’t ended badly?”"

Google Earth leads to spectacular meteor crater find | Watts Up With That?

Meteorite hit within last 10K years, Egyptian desert

Google Earth leads to spectacular meteor crater find | Watts Up With That?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fantasy Politics

Tolken's race or Well's Eloi (the Time Machine) ?

This one admits to having dabbled with Wicca !!!

Op-Ed Columnist - Myth and Madness - NYTimes.com:

"Christine O’Donnell is in a fantasy world. Literally.

The pretty Palin Mini-Me identifies with the women of Middle Earth, comparing herself to the female characters in the “Lord of the Rings” novels by J. R. R. Tolkien.

“Look at the significance that he gives to Eowyn, the Lady of Rohan,” O’Donnell said on C-Span in 2003. “She was a warrior spirit and, to me, that’s who I love. I mean, I aspire to be soft and gentle like Arwen, but realistically, I’m a fighter, like Eowyn.”

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Not every day that you see a "car" with a watercraft tag (just over the front wheel)

or with "wheels" of this sort - the props

Amphibicar Leland Michigan

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Global economic policy: Monetary illusions | The Economist

With most governments unable, or unwilling, to offer more fiscal stimulus, central banks are left solely responsible for propping up the flagging recovery.
Responsibility for boosting growth must be more evenly split with politicians. Only politicians can address the structural problems that are also holding back the rich world’s economies, such as the housing debt in America and the barriers to hiring in parts of Europe. Only politicians in countries, notably including America, that still have room for fiscal stimulus can ensure that it is used to complement monetary policy. And only politicians can couple stimulus with longer-term pension and tax reform, so that investors do not lose faith in sovereigns’ future solvency. Such a combination (however difficult given the electoral cycle in America) would avoid damaging the economy with ill-timed austerity now, and increase the effectiveness of bigger central-bank purchases of government bonds.

The article

Comparison to WWII

But - then we have Basel

Tough New Banking Rules Coming

Global Group Prepares to Limit Risk-Taking; Cost of Loans

Convening in the Swiss city of Basel, the officials are hoping to cinch a deal this weekend. In one of the most far-reaching steps, the current proposal would require global banks to maintain basic levels of capital equal to at least 7% of their assets—much more than existing standards of roughly 4% for large U.S. banks.

The effort would transform banking, potentially forcing banks to take fewer risks, make less profit and face more government scrutiny. It comes nearly two years after the chaotic bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers convulsed the global economy and led to taxpayer-funded bailouts world-wide. U.S., European and Asian officials hope an accord will create new global standards designed to firm up the foundations of large international banks.

For consumers, the rules could cut both ways—potentially driving up the rates they receive on deposits but also raising the cost of loans and crimping their availability. "Everybody is going to feel the impact a little bit differently, but everyone is definitely going to feel the impact," said Mary Frances Monroe, vice president of regulatory policy at the American Bankers Association trade group.For banks, the rules could require them to raise capital, shrink balance sheets and dump business lines deemed too risky. They'll likely have to keep in reserve more earnings to protect against potential losses, which will leave them less money to pay investors and employees.

Regulators and central bankers who comprise the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the group in charge of international banking rules, have been negotiating for months. They have largely agreed on the broad parameters and hope to have a final deal Sunday. But the timetable could slip into next week amid a debate about how long banks should be given to implement the rules.

The impact won't be spread evenly across global banking. In some countries, such as the U.S., Canada and the U.K., banks have raised significant amounts of new capital—funds that reduce their debt level, and therefore pare back risk—and are sitting on thicker cushions than counterparts elsewhere.

Some big European banks might have to augment their capital. Analysts at Morgan Stanley Thursday pointed to Germany's Deutsche Bank AG, Allied Irish Banks PLC, Bank of Ireland PLC and Austria's Erste Group Bank AG as potentially finding themselves short of capital under the new Basel rules.e.

Top Citigroup Inc. executives told Wall Street investors this week the new rules could prevent the firm paying dividends to investors until at least the end of 2011, and "exhibited a great deal of uncertainty around the impact" of the new rules, according to a report by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst John McDonald.

Bank of America Corp. and PNC Financial Services Group Inc. could be forced to sell their ownership stake in giant asset-management firm BlackRock Inc. Deutsche Bank AG is working on plans to raise more than $10 billion in capital, in part to meet the new requirements, and one analyst predicted Basel 3 could force Morgan Stanley to raise $1.5 billion in capital.


Many other banks could take similar steps to meet government mandates. On Friday, Allied Irish Banks PLC sold its Polish operations to Banco Santander SA in a 2.94-billion-euro deal that was mandated by European regulators because the Irish lender had received state aid.

Bank of America, PNC, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Allied Irish Banks declined to comment.

Michael Mauritz, an Erste spokesman, said "we feel pretty comfortable" with the bank's capital ratios, but he added that "nobody really knows what Basel will bring." Bank of Ireland spokesman Dan Loughrey said his company currently exceeds the capital requirements set by Irish regulators.

Authorities are racing to complete the new rules by a November meeting of world leaders in Korea, where the standards could be formally ratified. The Basel committee, long the international standard-setter, was charged last year by the Group of 20 leading nations with overhauling the rules.

Officials are likely to begin implementing the protocol in 2013 through a process that could last at least five years. Each country will have to tailor the plans to its own banks.

In other words, banks would have to hold in reserve $7 in capital for every $100 in investments and loans. The riskier the loans and investments, the more capital would be required.The plan under discussion would require banks to hold a type of capital known as common equity that equals at least 7% of a bank's risk-weighted assets, which includes a 2.5% buffer. Under the new Basel rules, banks would be able to dip below the 7% threshold and into their buffer, but would likely face limits on dividends and executive compensation. If a bank's common-equity ratio fell below 4.5%, they could face tight regulatory sanctions and potentially seizure by national regulators.

Banks also wouldn't be able to move risky investments or trading off their balance sheets to shield assets from capital requirements. Analysts believe this could force banks to curb their appetite for high-risk, high-profit activities such as trading and derivatives that led to soaring profits before the crisis. The international rules would be on top of financial regulations passed in July by Congress.

Higher capital requirements "could be quite significant for a number of banks," said Bernard de Longevialle, a Paris-based managing director at ratings company Standard & Poor's. John Raymond, a London-based banking analyst at CreditSights, noted, however, that bank executives likely will need more details before they'll be able to gauge the precise impact.

On the other side of the spectrum, banks whose capital cushions exceed the new requirements are likely to face pressure from analysts and investors to start repurchasing shares or raising dividend payments. Those practices were largely abandoned amid the crisis as banks tried to conserve capital.

The industry has warned that tougher capital requirements will force it to curtail lending as banks keep more money in reserve, a move that could take a toll on stuttering economies in the developed world.

The Basel Committee, citing its own research and academic studies, counters that there's little evidence to support the industry's assertions. Regulators say the changes will create a more stable banking system, less susceptible to crises.

The success of any accord is largely dependent on the level of trust among countries as they adopt the rules. If any one country refuses to implement the rules, other countries could try to penalize that country's banks with higher capital requirements or even more severe sanctions.

French officials remain skeptical that U.S. regulators will move swiftly to implement the new rules. "We won't apply the new Basel 3 rules if the Americans don't do the same," French finance minister Christine Lagarde said Wednesday in an interview with France's La Tribune newspaper.

U.S. regulators have said they will implement the rules quickly.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

VAT coming?

But does Congress have the will to do this?

Contributing Columnist - One Nation, Two Deficits - Op-Ed - NYTimes.com

One possibility would be to establish a new source of revenue, perhaps through revenue-increasing tax reform, and possibly including a modest value-added tax (that is, a V.A.T. of 5 percent to 6 percent). This approach has many potential benefits, including the opportunity to improve our tax code by cutting back on loopholes and shifting toward a consumption-based tax system. It is also politically impossible, at least in the era of the 60-vote Senate. Those who fear a V.A.T. have little reason to worry — the votes aren’t there.

IF you want to try - likely best to lease

Electric Car 101 - Lease or Buy? - NYTimes.com

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


Apartheid not of races, but of sexes ... which ends up with very very strange people.

Television review: 'My Trip to Al-Qaeda' - Los Angeles Times:

"'My Trip to Al-Qaeda' is almost unforgivably thought provoking — one comes away from it feeling if not pity for the members of Al Qaeda than at least a better understanding of how human beings could dedicate themselves to such hate-filled bloodshed. Wright takes a very hard, non-p.c. line on Islam as a sociopolitical tool in the Middle East. He fulminates at intelligent Saudis who nonetheless swallow conspiracy theories without question and is indignant over a female Saudi reporter's refusal to acknowledge the sexism of a society that would choose a burning death in school for a young girl rather than have her be seen without her traditional over-garments.

Indeed, Wright argues Al Qaeda's driving force is a hatred of life and a love of death. Neither Osama bin Laden nor any of his acolytes have a plan for the future because they do not really believe in a future. Oppressed not so much by Western corruption as a life controlled by so many rigid outside forces — from the Saudi royal family to the life-denying strictures of extreme Islam — death become an acceptable, even desirable, alternative to a world in which virtually all earthly pleasure is forbidden and a culture of victimized paranoia is embraced."

For the working girl on your Christmas List

Intuit GoPayment for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store: "Description

Accept Credit Cards. Anytime. Anywhere. Use your iPhone to easily and securely accept credit card payments wherever your business takes you. No more waiting for checks to clear, chasing invoice payments, or missing sales."iPhone Screenshot 1

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Hope that this Internet "Thingie" keeps working

Burned a couple "banker's boxes" of statements yesterday.
Trusting that I can continue to access accounts online as needed and maintain spreadsheets "in the cloud"

Act of faith

Monday, September 06, 2010


Housing Choice - Help Today’s Owners or Future Buyers - NYTimes.com

Proposals to institute another home buyers credit - to those already planning to buy ???

Brainchild of the realtors : didn't work before, why will it now?
Just let the market clear

“The administration made a bet that a rising economy would solve the housing problem and now they are out of chips,” said Howard Glaser, a former Clinton administration housing official with close ties to policy makers in the administration. “They are deeply worried and don’t really know what to do.”

"Michael L. Moskowitz, president of Equity Now, a direct mortgage lender that operates in New York and seven other states, also advocates letting the market fall. “Prices are still artificially high,” he said. “The government is discriminating against the renters who are able to buy at $200,000 but can’t at $250,000.

and how about :

Some members of the National Association of Home Builders say a new credit of $25,000 would raise demand but their chances of getting this through Congress are nonexistent.

Some good ideas

Schumpeter: Profiting from non-profits | The Economist

Such as flat management, motivation, connecting with clients forever

AirForce sees the handwriting on the wall

Air support could come from unmanned A-10s - Air Force News, news from Iraq - Air Force Times:
"An unmanned A-10 overhead and a joint terminal attack controller on the ground with the firing controls in his hands.

It’s not possible now, but it will be in the next few years, theoretically cutting response time dramatically and reducing errors in close-air support strikes.

The Pentagon’s advanced research arm wants an aircraft 30 miles from a firefight to be able to attack within six minutes of a request by a JTAC. The airman would access the plane’s targeting sensors, enter coordinates to multiple targets and send ammo flying."
An unmanned version of the A-10 could be flying demonstration flights by 2014.

What ???

Mr. Blair thinks Bush is smart ? "very smart?"

'This Week' Transcript: Tony Blair - ABC News: "AMANPOUR: You say: 'George W. Bush was very smart. He had an immense simplicity in how he saw the world. Right or wrong, it led to decisive leadership.'

BLAIR: Yes, it -- it did. And I -- I think, you know, it's easy to mock that simplicity. And it's easy to ignore the strength that sometimes comes with that. And a decision like the surge in Iraq, you know, I can't think of many people who would have had the courage to take that decision in the way that he did.

AMANPOUR: Let's move on to Bill Clinton. You describe President Bill Clinton as your political soul mate. Why is that?

BLAIR: I think he was one of the first people really to understand, to articulate how progressive politics couldn't be a rainbow collation, that you had to stand up and be connected with people, not activists, simply.

AMANPOUR: And you say he was one of the smartest political minds you ever came across?

BLAIR: Oh, he's phenomenally smart. I think the smartest politician I ever came across, yes, I would say, Bill Clinton, yes."

And more :

Tony Blair Takes on the World: An Excerpt From 'A Journey' - WSJ.com:

"To summarize: I profoundly disagree with the statist, so-called Keynesian response to the economic crisis; I believe we should be projecting strength and determination abroad, not weakness or uncertainty; I think now is the moment for more government reform, not less; and I am convinced we have a huge opportunity for engagement with the new emerging and emerged powers in the world, particularly China, if we approach that task with confidence, not fear.

In short, we have become too apologetic, too feeble, too inhibited, too imbued with doubt and too lacking in mission. Our way of life, our values, the things that made us great, remain not simply as a testament to us as nations but as harbingers of human progress. They are not relics of a once powerful politics; they are the living spirit of the optimistic view of human history. All we need to do is to understand that they have to be reapplied to changing circumstances, not relinquished as redundant.


My conclusion, strangely, is not that the power of politics is needed to liberate the people; but that the power of people is needed to liberate the politics. An odd thing for a politician to say; but then, it has never been entirely clear whether the journey I have taken is one of triumph of the person over the politics, or of the politics over the person."

Might this be considered counter to the current administration (not to mention the opposition Republicans)?
More like Regan ?

Have a vision, where does the west fit in the world? don't apologize, but act positively ... lead


We use to call it "assholes and elbows"
Flying in a pack at 100MPH

Track is grooving up

Facebook (62) | Brent Pierce's Photos - 2010 Springfield Short Track and Mile Races

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Seems that they don't learn

Oh good, raise my taxes to cover those who bought more than they could afford ...

White House to Deploy Broader Mortgage Aid - WSJ.com:

"The Obama administration on Tuesday will launch its most ambitious effort at reducing mortgage balances for homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth.

Officials say between 500,000 and 1.5 million so-called underwater loans could be modified through the program, the first initiative to target homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments but are at risk of default because they have no equity in their homes. Some experts are warning, however, that the same knots that tied up prior initiatives could do so again.

Under the new 'short refinance' program, banks and other creditors that write down mortgages to less than the value of the property can essentially hand off the reduced loan to the government. The process involves refinancing borrowers into loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration."

Friday, September 03, 2010


Intellicast - Current Winds in Glen Arbor, Michigan (49636)

This is RACIN

Soup :: Red Bull Indy GP Fan Images # 2
Turn One, first lap,Ben Spies in the lead, Nicky Haden in third
From a standing start, so not all that fast, but the next 25+ laps this is 200 MPH down to about 100 to enter the turn - serious serious stuff

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Industrial Policy

I tend to think Industrial Policy is wrong ... except maybe the following

The global revival of industrial policy: Picking winners, saving losers | The Economist:

"The lessons of the past are clear. First, the more it is in step with a national or local economy’s comparative advantage, the more likely industrial policy is to succeed. Drives to spur high-tech entrepreneurship in areas of heavy manufacturing, for instance, face a struggle. According to Mr Lin of the World Bank, following comparative advantage has produced clear successes for some developing countries. Chile, for instance, moved from basic industries such as mining, forestry, fishing and agriculture to aluminium smelting, salmon farming and winemaking thanks to a number of government initiatives.

Second, policy is least prone to failure when it follows rather than tries to lead the market."

Cost of American Wars

An amazing set of data

While Iraq and Afghanistan have cost over $1 Trillion combined, it's only 1.2% of GDP
WW II cost over 35% !!!

Perspective needed

Figures are problematic, as well, because of difficulties in comparing prices from one vastly different era to another. Inflation is one issue—a dollar in the past would buy more than a dollar today. Perhaps a more significant problem is that wars appear vastly more expensive over time as the sophistication and cost of technology advances, both for military and for civilian purposes. The estimates presented in this report," therefore, should be treated, not as truly comparable figures on a continuum, but as snapshots of vastly different periods of U.S. history.