Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Look at the Bailout this way ...

If the "toxic assets " can really be sold at a profit later, would the Street be begging the Government to take these off their hands? I think not. They'd be finding someone else's money to borrow and buy.

Contact your Representatives and Senators and tell them that the only "give-away" you will support is a zero-capital-gains-tax rate for private citizens and entities that put their own money up to buy this crap and hold it to maturity. Let the bankers, hedge funds, and "smart money*" put their money where their mouth is.

* Have you noticed that Warren Buffet is willing to put his money behind Goldman Sachs, which stands to gain huge by the bailout, while not saying one word about buying the "distressed securities" behind all this mess?

** Mark Cuban of Dallas Mavericks and Blog Maverick fame, another billionaire, had a post on this which suggests he would put $50million of his own cash behind an idea like this.

*** Dave Ramsey has something along these lines with his "Common Sense Fix" ... see his site for links to the Congressional mail-form and a form letter to e-mail via it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

It's a Good Thing

Despite all the doom and gloom, it's a good thing the "bail out" bill did not pass. Too much money to all the wrong people. Did they really think it would get banks to start lending money?

For one thing, banks have stopped lending to one another because they know what their own internal practices have been. They know what they've been doing with the money and how they keep score, so of course they don't trust one another. So why should the taxpayers trust them with $700B+?

And the Paulson pitch of "We've gotta get this thing done now!" reminds me of what I used to have to tell people on cold calls when I was a broker. You never wanted your victim ... er, prospect ... to have time to think things over.

For that matter, would giving more credit to overleveraged people and businesses who have been binging on easy money for several years be a good thing? Credit-worthy people and businesses are still getting money. Why are we rushing to throw good money after bad money?

Oh yeah, it's election time ... you don't buy votes, you merely rent them one election at a time.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This Too Shall Pass

That is the City of London (the Square Mile, so to say) as seen yesterday afternoon from the offices of Legal & General, a fine insurance and investment house. Contrary to rumours that may have been spreading, there was no smoking crater to be seen and no one around me seemed to have the urge to leap from the windows.

I've lived through and managed to keep my jobs during the last several of these sorts of meltdowns over nearly 20 years. I'd like to think it was because I was good, but chances are it was because I chose my risk exposures carefully. I never made a huge chunk of money in my portfolios, but I also never lost much of it. And so the world goes on.

Unfortunately, my fall-back position in the banking world is probably gone because the masters of the universe who were running banking seemed to have somehow killed the goose that laid the golden egg for so many years. Now that really took some talent ... way to go, guys.

And as I walked around the streets of London, I realised that other countries have survived prolonged bouts with socialism and emerged to thrive. England, for example. So the US wanders down the path to socialism. This too shall pass, but not before a lot of human potential is wasted.

What really pisses me off about seeing the US fall into a socialist model is not so much that it was accomplished without rioting in the streets or a shot being fired, rather that it was accomplished by the people who claimed to be on the side of a free market system.

It wasn't Republican cronyism that led to this meltdown ... sure, they were in there hat in hand, but for the most part they merely fiddled while the fire burned. I will only offer the testimony that the creeps at the epicenter of this meltdown were giving hugely to the Dems (Number 1 beneficiary of Freddie/Fannie political contributions: Chris Dodd, D-CT, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee which was responsbile for oversight of the two GSEs ... Number 2, Barack Obama, D-IL) as well as employing several former Clinton-White-House staffers (giving them pay packages of tens of millions of dollars) who have since gone on to join the Obama campaign.

The least the Republicans could do in exchange for taking the blame is to walk away with the most money ... they couldn't even get that right. Nice job, guys. As Al Goldstein used to say so eloquently on Manhattan Cable channel 64(?), "Republicans, F*&k Y** !"

Meanwhile, in the name of making everyone feel safe and better about their economic futures, the country that preached free market economies to the rest of the world very publicly dismantles its own when things start to get to be a little uncomfortable.

I am reminded of an old Dead Kenndys album title: "Give Me Convenience, or Give Me Death."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

People Who Really Annoy Me #001
"I'll Take my Answer Over the Air"

People who call in to talk-radio shows and give what usually sounds more like a political statement rather than a question and then, being holier than thou types, close their comment with "I'll hang up now and take my answer over the air."

You hear them on both sides of the political spectrum, but more often than not I hear them on the left side ... probably because most of the talk radio I hear is NPR compliments of the Armed Forces Network. The only other talk we get tends to be Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura, both of whom tend to engage their callers in dialog.

So perhaps there is something to political leanings ... perhaps not. But in any case, they annoy the heck out of me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Voici mon Secret
I Have a Pretty French Cookie on the Side

I forgot I wanted to post this last week ....

We went to France to do our Saturday shopping ... the reasons are many, suffice it to say it involves a very big and good lunch, a walk about, and almost always a walk past this particular cookie shop. Usually during the winter months, the nice ladies who staff the place are shoving samples to unwitting tourists like me who fall in love with the wares and end up walking away with EUR 50 or so worth of the stuff.

I don't know if it is because I have done this so many times, or because I flirt with the nice ladies, but this time around the nice lady told the Partnerin that she remembers me as a good customer and shoveled a few free extras into the bag. Yum.

I don't know if it is a good thing to be a frequent nosher at such a dangerous place, but I don't mind the perks. Still, driving 250+ km for a good cookie might be a bit over the top, no?

Obama Unplugged
Berlin Awaits the Second Coming

A smaller, more intimate stage is set for the U.S. Presidential Candidate's next visit to the German Capital. Seems the adoring crowds have tapered off some in the last week or so.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

1.5 hours to Berlin

The Partnerin and I flew up to Berlin for the weekend. They say it is an ill wind that blows no good, which is indeed true ... we had a 49 knot tail wind, which meant we were crossing the ground at 188 knots, which meant Berlin was only roughly 1.5 hours away.

We flew into Tempelhof, which may very well be for the last time since it is targeted for closure in the next few months. Normally this would have been a good landing point, since Tempelhof if in the city proper and one could then take the U-bahn to other parts of the city, but unfortunately the U-bahn was undergoing construction and therefore a cab-ride was necessary. Still not too bad, though, since it only cost EUR 15 to get from Tempelhof to the Kudamm (the Partnerin had never been to KaDeWe, so we had to do it at least once).

I will miss Tempelhof. Perhaps another post on that later.