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I played dodgeball last week on my lunch break.  I go one day a week to an elementary school and have the opportunity, through work, to volunteer.  It’s safe to say I had more fund playing dodgeball than in my entire week at work.  The experience was something I definitely wanted to share.

Having children is no picnic, but connecting with them definitely keeps us young and helps us remember the positive aspects of our youth as they fade away each passing day.  That afternoon of dodgeball gave me a moment to have some of my freedom back and to do something I genuinely enjoyed doing.

Life is not always easy.  It can be a grind to put up with the banalties of work and the stress of having adult responsibilities.  Painful failures with the opposite sex, work and our own stupidity can harden us to world.  It’s worth fighting to keep a portion of you that holds on to the past when recess was what mattered, not work or the other stresses that accompany our lifestyle.

Throwing a dodgeball around during lunch gave me a moment that rich food or drink simply could not match.  It was a unique experience that left me a much happier person.  I have noticed that when helping others or doing what I intrinsically find satisfying, I feel much happier.  If you’re dissatisfied at work, try playing a sport with a child or doing something genuinely kind for someone.  I’ve found both of these things help to turn a bad day into a good one.

To read more about finding happiness in unexpected places, read here

The Treasury Department has announced a new plan to try and work the toxic assets out of the system by using taxpayer funds to lure back private investors.  This “Mary Poppins Economics” will have all the hedge funds singing…

 Just a spoonful full of sugar taxpayer-funded promises, helps the medicine toxic assets go doooown!!Just a spoonful full of sugar taxpayer-funded promises, helps the medicine toxic assets go doooown!!

I have to agree with Mish that the plan does not seem promising for taxpayers, only potential investors.  Hedge funds, pension funds and irresponsible asset managers who’ve failed over the last few years, can now buy assets with the help of the taxpayer.  This system is a direct subsidy/bribe/handout to woo private capital back into the market to buy toxic assets and get credit flowing again.

Maybe I am being cruel, but I believe this debt should be written down, even if it leads to painful job losses and even if we suffer as a nation.  We cannot keep piling on debt in order to maintain a socialist financial system with the facade of capitalism.

Allowing millionaires to buy assets with the backing of taxpayers seems to be a little too easy for the MIT geniuses that didn’t think housing would fall and thought anything decent should be rated AAA.

This program ensures the FIRE economy will continue and the mantra of too big to fail will continue to reign.  I hope I am wrong.

In his op-ed piece in the Journal, Geithner speaks about “borrowing too much”.  How does he square the fact that while sitting on the New York Fed, Geithner voted for all NINETEEN Fed actions lockstep with Greenspan starting December 9, 2003 through March 28, 2006? That includes four consecutive meetings of leaving the Fed Funds target rate at 1.00%  Proof is here.

Why does Greenspan take all the heat for not raising rates soon enough, yet Geithner gets none?

In any event, no matter what anyone says, the plan will be debated back and forth by politicians and those that benefit from government bailouts (big businesses, hedge funds, lobbyists, lawyers) will make big bucks.  Try and position yourself as best as possible with that in mind.  I wish you the best.

Mary Poppins Economics

Thank you, future taxpayers, for risking your tax dollars to lure me back into the game!

…in the most de-light-ful waaaaaay!

For more financial bamboozlement, click here

The hulabaloo over the AIG bonuses reached a climax today with the House voting to tax the bonus payments at 90%.  I guess all the pomp and circumstance had a happy ending for those that were hanging on to this non-issue…

Unbelievably, Tim Geithner knew about these bonuses but remained mum throughout all the finger-pointing and grandstanding.  According to the NY Times:

Interviews with senior Federal Reserve and Treasury officials, as well as members of Congress, leave little doubt that the bonus program was a disaster hiding in plain sight. Mr. Geithner is not the only one who appears not to have understood the populist fury the bonuses would set off.

So, the Fed and Treasury orchestrated the multiple AIG bailouts, knew about these bonuses and said nothing until it blew up in their faces?  That’s pretty dishonest.  Why is Geithner not in serious jeopardy of losing his job?

Take it away, Ron…

For more on the AIG bonuses, read here

Just some back of the envelope calculations about AIG.

Bonus compensation:  $165,000,000

Taxpayer dollars already committed to AIG:  $170,000,000,000

Amount of Treasury Debt the “Federal Reserve” will buy:  $300,000,000,000

AIG’s bonus payments as a percentage of taxpayer dollars already committed to AIG: 1/10th of one percent (0.097%)

AIG’s bonus payments as a percentage of Amount of Treasury Debt the “Federal Reserve” will buy:  6/100ths of one percent  (0.055%)

Does it really make sense to have a whole day of political chest-thumping and finger-pointing because some bozos will get to keep some extra money, which would have been completely wasted anyway

Of course I love making these idiots squirm and suffer, but doesn’t it pale in comparison to the amount of money the government is heaving around?

With $300 billion being spent to manipulate interest rates, doesn’t that warrant more concern/questioning than $165 million?

As usual, most news outlets (save Bloomberg) focus on the hot button issue, rather than the meaningful one.

To read more about the financial climate, click here

Before the confrontation gets swept down the memory hole, I have a few comments on the Jon Stewart/Jim Cramer dustup.

For those that witnessed the confrontation between Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer, it was obvious who emerged victorious:  Jon Stewart.

While Stewart did not champion a cause or idea and could not clearly articulate why things are going haywire, he was definitely conscious enough to recognize that someone like Jim Cramer is a complete moron who doesn’t know what he’s talking about: specifically, his claim of “liking” Bear Stearns when it was trading the $60′s.  Stewart was smart enough to have hard video evidence proving this, which won him credibility early in the interview.

The video evidence was devastating.  In it, Cramer talked about ways to engage in market manipulation and ways to deceive regulators.  His attempts to be “part of the solution” seemed laughable and so completely fabricated that it’s amazing he stuck with that line until the end.


The most important point about the interview was the underlying message that it carried.  The message is:  Don’t rely on others to tell you what is important.

Another way of saying that is:  Don’t rely on the “experts” to tell you what is important.  Have the courage to acknowledge your own ignorance, form your own opinions and cultivate your own mindset.  If the people that were watching Cramer spent equal time reading Mish or Charles Hugh Smith, they would likely have a different set of beliefs than those of the talking heads at CNBC.

As the interview progressed, Stewart seemed agitated that CNBC is “trusted” to provide people with news and it let the common man down.  He seemed upset that the anchors on CNBC didn’t do their job to shed light on ongoing scams and problems like excessive leverage, excessive compensation and enormous conflicts of interest.

While I agree that is disappointing, is that really a surprise to anyone?  Are there really people who rely on TV personalities to make important decisions for them?  He who pays the piper calls the tune.  CNBC’s advertisers are the ones that ultimately control what programming gets aired and what types of shows are the most profitable.

If you follow the money, it’s easy to see that the audience needs to be entertained, have their worldviews validated and brought back for more.  Bogging viewers down with “complicated” or negative pieces about an eventual meltdown would turn viewers off, or worse, force them to consult other sources of information to generate a more accurate model of reality.  This would be terrible for ratings and advertising.  CNBC wants to be the one-stop shop for financial news.

Fluff reporting and bogus “journalism” aren’t limited to CNBC.  CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, FoxNews and others all follow suit.  It’s simply the business model.  The truth is rarely scooped in a 22 minute show + commercials.  The truth can be ascertained by reading the best arguments from both sides of the equation.  This involves reading what you disagree with and then thinking about it.  That process is definitely not “made for tv” material.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart does a great job of pointing out glaring hypocrisies and using the magic of the web and internet to generate classic “gotcha” moments.  The show is truly close to my heart.  Watching it lets me know there are other people out there who don’t take politicians or experts too seriously.

Takeaway:  The world is filled with salesman and opacity.  This is unavoidable.  Getting blindsided by reality isn’t.  Expose yourself to the most articulate and thoughtful people you can find on both sides of an argument and you can gain a better understanding of the truth.

Boo-yah!

For more on financial chicanery, read here