Saturday, December 17, 2016

Is the glass left half full, or right half full

Lionel Barber writes in the Financial Times:

And he's right about the end of the old left/right divide. When the Bush family and neocons line up with the Democratic Party to vote for Hillary Clinton instead of the Republican Party's Donald Trump - the fault lines have shifted.

Parties have been shifting and evolving since their inception but today's hardcore "FDR Democracts" cannot conceive of being in a party with hardcore Republicans. And the Paul Ryans (Speaker of the House) and Grover Norquists are not any happier finding themselves in the same tent as Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, House Minority Leader) and Charles Schumer (Senator, D-NY).

And yet, both groups will continue to believe they oppose each other. It's true: the more schooling you have, the easier it is to fool you. Consider this quote:
"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
—Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, 1841

To show up the alleged Left, who believe themselves progressive, inclusive, and tolerant Zero Hedge picked up a story from San Francisco where denizens attend community meetings protesting arrivistes.

From the original article in the San Francisco Chronicle:
San Francisco is one of the most progressive cities in the nation, especially when it comes to national immigration. We believe so much in the natural right of people to join us here in America that we fought to keep our status as sanctuary city even in the face of being federally defunded for it. We pride ourselves on our rejection of plans to tighten immigration controls and deport undocumented immigrants. Yet take that same conversation to the local level and all bets are off. City meetings have become heated, divisive and prone to rhetoric where we openly discuss exactly which kinds of people we want to keep out of our city. 
This is an ethically incoherent position. If we in San Francisco so strongly believe that national immigration is a human right, then it seems strange to block migration into our own neighborhoods.
Goes on the cite plans for a development in Calle 24, where current residents claim it will bring tech workers into the Latino Cultural District. Tech workers? Is that code for undesirables?

Another community hearing, in Forest Hill, opposed an affordable housing project for seniors and former homeless.
They're afraid it would be bring mentally unstable or drug addicted people into the neighborhood.

Back to the SF Chronicle:
In both cases, residents took it as a given that they were within their rights to control who lived in their neighborhoods.
That sounds an awful lot like Brexiteers and Trump voters.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Say, hypothetically, a bankruptcy happens

Tuesday, December 6 2016 Reuters reported on Chicago Public School's (CPS) imminent bond issue. 

Strongly suspect reporter Karen Pierog and editor Matthew Lewis were not able to keep a straight face.
The prospectus includes legal opinions on a "hypothetical bankruptcy" by CPS that conclude payments on the new bonds would not be automatically stopped by a federal bankruptcy court and that bondholders would retain a lien on the tax revenue.
CPS would like to issue a $500mn bond secured solely by a capital improvement property tax - and not by the district's general obligation (GO) pledge.

That's what they would like to do.
And they'll probably do it - and rated junk by S&P, Moody's, and Fitch.

The general obligation pledge covers $6.8 billion of existing bonds.

Separately, CPS is having a cow over Governor Rauner vetoing a bill to give CPS a one-time $215 million state payment to help cover pension costs.

1. $215 million is nothing compared to the gaping maw of CPS's pension needs.
2. The pensioners and current employees are the ones to cover the plan's costs, not taxpayers.
3. When my lease is up October 2017 I am getting the hell out of Chicago and Cook County. I wish I could leave Illinois but the commutes from Wisconsin or Indiana don't work out.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

I'm rubber and you're black

In the 3rd Presidential Debate Donald Trump refused to say he'd accept the election results, if he felt the results were rigged.

Hillary Clinton blasted that as "horrifying." From the LA Times, October 19 2016:
“That’s horrifying,” Mrs. Clinton replied. “Let’s be clear about what he is saying and what that means. He is denigrating — he is talking down our democracy. And I am appalled that someone who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that position.”

Above: Joe Scarborough on MSNBC reacts to the Jill Stein-fronted recounts in states that went to Trump, on behalf of Clinton.

Snapshot from Jill Stein's #RECOUNT2016 website:

Interesting how the goal keeps getting hiked upwards. The original goal was $2.5mn. noticed that early on, writing on November 25 2016:
"you may want to read the fine print on her website. So far, she has raised $4.8 million, but take a look at this little clause at the end of the donation form:
We cannot guarantee a recount will happen in any of these states we are targeting. We can only pledge we will demand recounts in those states.
If we raise more than what's needed, the surplus will also go toward election integrity efforts and to promote voting system reform.
And interestingly, as more donations started pouring in over the holiday, Stein has moved her total fundraising goal to $7 million."
Also interesting - why isn't Stein targeting states that Clinton won?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Napoleon front-ran the EU. See Cisalpine Republic.

There is a great podcast on Italian unification, hosted by 2 brothers: Talking History Podcast.

In episode 11 (Divide and Rule) they go into detail about Napoleon’s constitution for Italy.

What caught my attention is the reservations the Cisalpine Republic representatives had towards it – the hosts quote Harry Hearder, author of Italy in the Age of the Risorgimento 1790 – 1870:
(At 34 min 30 sec mark, or page 25 of Hearder’s book)
The dictatorship, however, as always, was concealed behind a complicated constitution, which allowed for electoral colleges, legislatives houses, and a Censura of 21 men – bodies which were not elected by the public, but either appointed by Napoleon, or elected by each other in impotent vicious circles.

And I thought “My god – he just described the EU.”

The hosts quote Hearder further:
In practice five or six hundred men – landowners, businessmen, or intellectuals sympathetic to the French – were nominated either directly or indirectly by Bonaparte.

And I thought “Yep, that’s the EU.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mort au régime ancien

On the cusp of Thanksgiving.

Found out the Friday Stocks & Jocks will be a repeat when I sent an email on the guest I booked for the show. Luckily (?) Chief replied to all there's no show. (That's my reaction in photo to the left.)

Via Zero Hedge read a Reuters story from Dave McKinney (nee Chicago Sun-Times) on another aspect of Illinois' fiscal turpitude.

Illinois fix to unpaid bills may end up as financial time bomb
The amount of overdue bills could reach $13.5 billion, or 40 percent of available operating revenue, when the current fiscal year ends June 30, the Rauner administration has projected.
Come fiscal 2022, the backlog is projected to balloon to $47 billion. No other U.S. state defers payments to the extent Illinois does to manage cash flow, credit-rating analysts said.
 Holiday wishes from John McLaughlin:

Thanksgiving lessons learned from WKRP in Cincinnati:

Friday, November 11, 2016

Howard's card trick

Rank is but the guinea's stamp

After hearing Bertie Wooster misquote it as "the rank is but the penny stamp" and be corrected by Jeeves "the guinea stamp" about a thousand times I finally looked into it.

It's from the Robert Burns poem "A Man's A Man For A' That," verse 1.
Is there for honesty poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave - we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gowd for a' that.

And I was left knowing the source, but not the meaning. helped out:
The rank is but the guinea's stamp" means that a person cannot be given a price. The man's character is the true gold.

So a person is overlaid with rank, like a guinea coin is stamped with an image.

Look at me learning things from PG Wodehouse, via Jeeves & Wooster as portrayed by Fry and Laurie.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Fierce competition among the banks. Among all 4 of them. Fierce! Cutthroat!

Courtesy of Clarke and Dawe's "On Banks," 4 November 2010.

One degree of lassitude equals...too late, felled by ennui

The real diagnosis is resistant hypochondriac.

Felt slow getting out of the gate this morning, but that's not unusual.

At work I got a headache - not migraine - that is proving resilient against both Motrin and Excedrin.
Then hot flashes (aka fever).
A persistent hungry feeling.
Topped with tiredness (aka fatigue).

Plug those into WebMD's Symptom Checker!
Oh my god - what if I have all 124!?!

Alright, calm down. Deep breath. Now, let's scan that list.
First off - WebMD substituted my fever for dizziness. Not even remotely the same thing. They both suck, but I don't fall off the sidewalk from hot flashes.

Acute or Chronic Sinusitis. No heart palpitations caused by this one.

Diabetes, Type 2. Normally I'd worry, but recent blood tests rule this out.

Multiple sclerosis. This ticks a few boxes. Like the other day when I dropped my pencil for no reason. MS!

Sleep apnea. My sleep has been screwed with, but I'm blaming menopause for that.

Acute stress reaction. This one has possibilities.

Mononucleosis. Have I kissed any boys recently? Well, there is one that's been in and out of hospitals visiting sick relatives. Great. Might as well as add MRSA, DRTB (drug resistant TB), C. diff.

Tension headache. Why not? Just as the oncoming menopause was reducing the migraines to a thing of the past, let's replace them with tension headaches.

Dementia in head injury. Well, there was that time in 1992 (or was it 1991?!) that I got hit in the head by a trucker opening his door. That I can't remember which year mean I have this - wait, I have to check the beginning of this paragrah - dementia!? Aaaagh.

Thalassemia. This one sounds good. The description is: rare group of blood disorders effecting red blood cells, leading to anemia. Except for the fact I don't have anemia this one sounds like a delightful catchall.

There's many more - 124 total, remember? But I'm too enervated* to go on.
*Enervate: deprive of force or strength, destroy vigor of

See also:
Debility - weakened or enfeebled state
Ennui - feeling of utter weariness and discontent
Languor - lack of energy or vitality, physical weakness, emotional softness
Lassitude - weariness of body or mind from strain, condition of indolent indifference

This momentous election, like a fire bell in the night

The day after the 2016 Presidential Election.
Donald Trump won. Hillary Clinton lost. The Clinton campaign has conceded.

To quote Winston Churchill:
Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Results aren't official yet but it's a good time to remember that states elect presidents, not individuals. The winner-take-all to electoral votes in 48 of 50 states means someone can win the popular vote and lose the electoral college votes.

And so I present the current numbers:

You will note that Hillary Clinton has 170,513 more votes than Donald Trump - but 58 fewer electoral votes.
*41 electoral votes still to be apportioned.

International headlines from Election Day, 8 November 2016:

Hillary and Trump fight to the end
The world holds it breath while the US votes
Today's headlines:
Since he did, Fortune will have to update that headline

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Fight to the Death, or, 10 Days to Election

Friday afternoon the corporate press reported that the FBI reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server due to things found in a separate investigation. It was quickly learned the separate investigation was regarding former Congressman Anthony Weiner's sexting underage girls.

Weiner is married albeit estranged to Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's personal aide and vice chairwoman of the presidential campaign.

The New York Post's front page from Saturday, 29 October 2016.

The Clinton Campaign has taken the overt action of calling for a "release of the full and complete facts" (NBC).

The covert actions are probably fascinating maneuvering but alas unknown because of the aforementioned covertness.

I think Clinton & Co know they have to take the Presidency or die trying because a Trump administration would go after them like Stalin after Trotsky.

And Trump knows every federal agency will be tasked with destroying him once the transition from Obama to Clinton is a done deal.

And Obama? What's his plan? A pardon? A blanket pardon? A preemptive pardon? A private conversation with AG Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey?

Illinois has been written off as Clinton's state. Do I vote my traditional 3rd party, or vote for Trump - who for all intents and purposes is 3rd party?

That decision is not the important one.
The crucial action is filing the FOIA requests for the 9th Illinois Congressional District, where I reside, to compare the raw ballot counts against the official results.
And I have to do it Wednesday, 9 November 2016.

Illinois Board of Election - Election results

Illinois Board of Elections FOIA Officer Heather Kimmons
To file a FOIA request email her at

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Alt-Right is Dem-speak for deplorables

Having been called "alt-right" it behooved me to learn the precise definition.

Courtesy of The Week:
What is the alt-right?
It's a weird mix of old-school neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists, anti-globalists, and young right-wing internet trolls — all united in the belief that white male identity is under attack by multicultural, "politically correct" forces. Alt-righters are primarily active online, where they taunt progressive and mainstream conservative opponents with anti-Semitic, misogynistic, or racist emails, tweets, and other social media posts[.]

Yet when I search for "alt left" or Democrat code words I find... nothing.

Hillary Clinton said half of Trump's supporters were deplorables.

From CNN, September 12 2016:
The Democratic presidential nominee sparked an uproar late Friday when she described Trump's supporters at a fundraiser.
"To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables," Clinton said. "Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it."
She added: "And unfortunately, there are people like that and he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric."
Clinton then said some of these people were "irredeemable" and "not America."

And this was a message she honed, having the previous night said much the same thing in an interview with an Israeli television station.

When pounced on by the Trump campaign, and likened to Romney's "47% of America don't pay taxes" gaffe:
"Last night I was 'grossly generalistic,' and that's never a good idea. I regret saying 'half' -- that was wrong," Clinton said in a statement in which she also vowed to call out "bigotry" in Trump's campaign.
It doesn't seem the press corps pressed her to be more exact: is it more or less than "half?"

And in my case, I was put in the ALT-RIGHT basket because I called Hillary Clinton a warmonger.
This is not boding well for those Dems supporting Hillary.
The Republicans are not as susceptible to group-think as Dems are - the Chicago Tribune endorsed Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson.
There were Dems foaming at the mouth that god-forbid the Trib ever endorse a Dem for President.

But are there Democratic press outlets endorsing Green Party candidate Jill Stein for President?

From Foreign Policy, July 27 2016: Hillary the Hawk: A History
The lead is:

2002 - Sen Clinton (D-NY) voted for authorization of military force in Iraq.
After getting pushback on that vote she claimed I thought it was a vote to put inspectors back in.
She has also said I believe in coercive diplomacy.

2007 and 2008 - Sen Clinton (D-NY) disagreed with Pres Obama about striking Al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan.

2009-2013 - the Obama Administration would conduct 300 drone strikes in Pakistan.
Clinton's Department of State opposed two (2) of the strikes.

2009 - Sec of State Clinton supported the Afghanistan surge. Reportedly Clinton was more hawkish than Sec of Defense Robert Gates.

2011 - Sec of State Clinton was a strong proponent of regime change in Libya.
A primary justification she offered was to pay back allies for Afghanistan:
"We asked our allies, our NATO allies, to go into Afghanistan with us 10 years ago. They have been there, and a lot of them have been there despite the fact they were not attacked... When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the UK, France, Italy, other of our NATO allies. This was in their vital national interest."

2011 - Sec of State Clinton endorsed Navy SEAL raid into Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden.

2012 - Sec of State Clinton proposed a covert program to provide arms to groups fighting Assad in Syria. Later there was a Congressional investigation into the Benghazi attack in which a "consulate" was suspected of funneling arms from Libya to Syria. The lack of any State Dept emails from Sec of State Clinton led to the discovery of her using private email exclusively for govt business.

Foreign Policy concludes with this:

Well, he would, wouldn't he?

Mandy Rice-Davies might be gone, but her retort lives on every time someone in a position of power utters bald-faced rubbish.
Exhibit A, from the FTa memo Mr Cryan sent to Deutsche staff last week after its shares plunged to 30-year lows. In it, he blamed “forces in the market” that were trying to destabilise the bank.

What do you say about that, Mandy Rice-Davies?
"Well he would, wouldn't he?"

Monday, October 03, 2016

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Walk-up songs

My Little Armalite

Big Wig in the Wigwam [Erskine Hawkins 1939]

Ship of Fools [World Party]

Whatever It Is, I'm Against It [Groucho Marx, Horse Feathers]

Listen Like Thieves [INXS]

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What was in those Rod Blagojevich wire taps?

As more leaks from the DNC and Hillary Clinton's private email server see the light of day, a pay-to-play ethos emerges and it's not just the White House and Department of State.

Except, four years ago former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich reported to federal prison in Colorado for attempting to sell the Illinois Senate seat (vacated by President-elect Barack Obama).

Carefully selected clips from the wiretaps were played at Blagojevich's trials - it took 2 tries to convict him. His defense counsel wanted all the wiretaps played. Federal Judge Zagel denied the motion.

HuffPo Blagojevich Wiretaps

HuffPo Transcripts of Blagojevich tapes from trial

FBI Rod Blagojevich Public Corruption Case, March 12 2012

Journal Star Wiretap transcripts at issue in Rod Blagojevich appeal

Jump forward 4 years
Zero Hedge This Is How Much It 'Costs' To Get AN Ambassadorship: Guccifer 2.0 Leaks DNC 'Pay-To-Play' Donor List [September 14 2016]

A large number of the largest donors received senior diplomatic or political positions following thge donations, ranging from UK Ambassador to Assistant Attorney General. The DNC released a statement pre-emptively claiming that this was the work of Russia (and reigniting Trump's links to Putin).
 Let us prey. h/t Thomas Nast

A brief history of the end of summer 2016

The autumnal equinox in 2016 takes place Thursday, September 22.

Events still be placed into below timeline:
Deutsche Bank fined $14bn
Wells Fargo CEO Stumpf appears before Senate

Saturday, Sep 17
9:30am ET Seaside Park NJ: pipe bomb blows apart a trash can just before the start of a Marine Corps charity run. No injuries.
Multiple devices found in trash can but did not detonate. A fingerprint from one of the devices led to Ahmad Khan Rahami. []

10:00am ET / 5:00pm Syria time: US airstrike kills Syrian forces in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour at an army base on Al-Tharda mountain. The US claims they meant to target ISIS. [New York Times]
The strike was called off only when Russian commanders notified Centcom they were attacking Syrian forces.
The US airstrike was followed immediately by an offensive by ISIS.
A partial ceasefire had been agreed to by Russia and the US on Monday, Sep 19.
Russia called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting.
Syrian deaths range from 62 to 83, over 100 injured.

7:00pm CT (est) Dahir A. Adan, 22, rampaged through St. Cloud MN mall stabbing 10 people before being fatally shot by an off-duty police officer about 9:00pm CT. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

8:30pm ET Dumpster explodes in Chelsea, NYC on 23rd St between 6th and 7th Avenues.
29 injured. []

Sunday, Sep 18
2:30am ET Pressure cooker found by NYPD at West 27th Street.

10:50am ET Linden NJ: After a shootout Ahmad Khan Rahami was taken into custody.
2 officers wounded []

??? The United Nations Security Council convenes for an emergency session called by Russia.
[Financial Times] Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to UN: "I would suggest it is not accidental that it happened just two days before the Russia-American arrangement was supposed to come into force." He also accused Samantha Powers, the US ambassador to the UN, of demogoguery of the highest order.
[Counterpunch] US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers was plainly irked she would have to spend her Saturday night why the US did this. Why, from  her point of view, should the US ever have to apologize, or even explain its actions[.]
More at Lima Charlie News.

Monday, Sep 19
12:40am ET IED in backpack detonated in Elizabeth NJ.
No injuries.

5:30am ET / 12:12pm Syria: United Nations aid convoy attacked, 18 of 31 trucks hit. [CNN]
Corporate press reported the attackers used "barrel bombs," used by Assad's regime.
But upon closer inspection they are large mortars - used by so-called moderate rebels backed by the US. [American Everyman]
US blames Syria and Russia.
Syria and Russia deny attacking convoy

Reddit thread discovered where Paul Combetta of Platte River Networks asking how to do a bulk strip-and-replace of email address from a VERY VIP client.
House Oversight Committee learns of Reddit thread same day and demands Combetta appear by Friday, Sep 23 2016.
Reddit threads were deleted but not before others archived them. [Inquistr]

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Try to prove this claim:

A minimum of 2 elements to be determined before the claim can be tested.

The Chief must:
How to quantify the "walks of life" represented.
What is the time frame? From birth to now? Last 30 days?
What level of interaction required to count?
How are all of the above proved?

How does The Chief measure Donald Trump's interaction with different "walks of life?"
How does The Chief obtain the data elements to determine if the interaction was substantial enough to count?
How does The Chief vet all this?

More importantly, how does an impartial observer vet all of the above?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Yesterday's contemptibles are today's deplorables

From Business Insider:
"Clinton said on Friday evening [September 9 2016] that you could put half of of the Republican presidential nominee's supporters in a "basket of deplorables," which she said would include racists, xenophobes, and homophobes."

Saturday, September 10 she walked back part of her statement:
"But, following a firestorm of backlash, Clinton released a statement saying her comments were 'grossly generalistic,' and that she regretted denigrating 'half'' of Trump's supporters."

Kaiser Wilhelm II allegedly called Britain's forces "a contemptible little army."
The BEF ran with that, calling themselves the Old Contemptibles.
It didn't work out for the Kaiser, and it may not for Hillary Clinton.

Then on Sunday, September 11 2016 at Ground Zero ceremonies Hillary Clinton followed up her self-inflicted wound with a "medical event."

She was taken to her daughter Chelsea's apartment, and emerged later in the day to announce she felt great.
Then later in the day the Clinton Campaign released a note from her doctor that Hillary had been diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday.
As Zero Hedge asked: isn't pneumonia contagious? Yet she was fundraising and politicking Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wretched is the word

Fatigue. Night sweats. Hot flashes. Sweating. Early awakening. Insomnia. Irregular periods. Anxiety. Dry skin. Irritability. Moodiness. Reduced sex drive.

Menopause. Per the Mayo Clinic it is usually self-diagnosable.
Yes. It certainly is.

I'm going through a phase where extreme fatigue overwhelms me mid-morning, lasting 1-2 hours.
Regrettably, it happens to be working hours so I have new gratitude for high cubicle walls.

In addition to the symptoms listed above, taken from Mayo Clinic, there is also:
Heightened sensitivity to sounds.
Heightened sensitivity to smells.
Heightened sensitivity to tactile sensations (e.g. wool feels rougher).
Mental fogginess.
Broken attention span.

I find there is no food that alleviates symptoms but there are plenty that aggravate the condition.
Processed food.

Food that is neutral:
Caffeinated coffee and tea.
Good cuts of meat.

eMedicine answers some FAQs on menopause.
Average age? US women = 51.
I started at 48.

Most common age range women experience menopause?
48 - 55

The web site 34-menopause-symptoms reminds me of other problems I'm coping with:
Changes in body odor
Brittle nails. ***my nails break often***
Memory lapses
Difficulty concentrating
Weight gain ***I've never eaten healthier in my life and the best I can do is hold steady at 200 lbs.***
Headaches. ***My migraines have decreased in frequency and intensity but I get more headaches.***
Itchy skin.

And then something reminded me of Mr. Boffo and I spent the last 15 minutes reading Mr Boffo comic strips.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Observations on the 2016 Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention is in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center.
WFC is one of the Big Five Banks, and profited from government largesse in the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

The DNC has a double wall encircling the Wells Fargo Center.
The Democratic Party is pro-amnesty for illegal immigrants, and attacks Trump for his proposal to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Security at the convention is armed.
The Democratic Party is pro gun control and avowedly wants to disarm Americans.

Attendees to the convention must show ID to gain entrance.
The Democratic Party is opposed to showing ID to vote.

The 2016 Democratic Party platform is here.

Still assuming 8%

AG Loretta Lynch formerly served on the board of the New York Federal Reserve, 2003 to 2006.
Tim Geithner, now of Warburg Pincus, was President of the New York Federal Reserve from 2003 to 2009. That period of time also known as the run up to and including the Great Crash of 2008.

From there he sashayed into Pres. Obama's Cabinet as Treasury Secretary.

When you look at the projected annual rate of return by Chicago-area public pension funds, one can understand why Moody's was compelled to downgrade all levels of government in Illinois.
The lowest one is 7.5%. 7.5%!
The CTA is at 8.25%! There's a footnote stating the CTA lowered their annual rate of return projections in 2013 - from 8.5%.

The City of Chicago details where the funding for public pensions comes from:

Patrick Jenkins in the July 26 Financial Times notes:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In The Wake of the Turkish Coup Attempt

In the Financial Times ongoing coverage of Erdogan's post coup attempt clean up they note:

The pilots followed (illegal) orders in November 2015, and now in a rank act of political expediency they are classified as plotters. Grim outlook, indeed.

As a refresher on that shoot down of the Russian Su-24, from the Financial Times 3 December 2015:

A commenter on the coup attempt article observed:

A vote for Clinton is a vote for the status quo

The Republican Convention is entering Day 3 in Cleveland.

Flashback from The Hill, June 3 2016, Susan Sarandon on Hillary Clinton:
Actress Susan Sarandon says Hillary Clinton's foreign policy makes her a greater national security risk than Donald Trump, adding it's "inevitable" the White House hopeful will be indicted... [S]he did not learn a thing from Iraq. She is an interventionist. She's done horrible things, horrible things, and very callously[.]... Trump's ideas are too implausible to be dangerous.
Another way of putting it:
HRC is a warmonger. See Libya, Syria, Iraq, Russia (via Ukraine), and Iran.
HRC agrees with torture as a policy of state. See countries listed above.
HRC prefers secret treaties over open negotiations. See TPP et al.

From the International Business Times regarding Clinton and the TPP,6 June 2016:
The State Department originally said it estimated the request would be completed by April 2016. Last week the agency said it had completed the search process for the correspondence but also said it was delaying the completion of the request until late November 2016 — weeks after the presidential election. The delay was issued in the same week the Obama administration filed a court motion to try to kill a lawsuit aimed at forcing the federal government to more quickly comply with open records requests for Clinton-era State Department documents.Clinton’s shifting positions on the TPP have been a source of controversy during the campaign: She repeatedly promoted the deal as secretary of state but then in 2015 said, "I did not work on TPP[.]
And for those who say "if you don't vote you can't complain:"
I used to have that position too.
But I learned a few things and evolved my position.

To wit:
There's massive, coordinated election fraud across the country.

Governments at all levels extract money from you with the threat of force. You are certainly entitled to complain about an entity that does that to you.

And finally - the only ones who can't complain are the ones who voted for the people in office. The entire concept of "not wasting my vote" is an anathema. Don't vote for someone just because you think your vote will be wasted on a 3rd party candidate. This is the very reason we're stuck in a two-party combine machine.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Après Brexit le déluge

Any libertarian nihilist is always happy to see Big made smaller.
Take, for example, Brexit.
The EU will go from 28 to 27 countries.
London's financial services will lose some clout, maybe jobs, maybe business as the ECB tries again to mandate all EUR-denominated derivatives clearing be done in an EZ jurisdiction.
Devolving business from the Center of the Universe's Financial Engineering is a great thing.
Consolidated government takes a hit.
More places offering financial engineering services, more competition, lower prices, reducing prestige, less money for lobbying.

June 23 2016 Brits voted to Leave the EU.
Parts of the United Kingdom distinctly voted to Remain: Scotland, Northern Ireland.
June 24 2016 the results were announced. PM Cameron announced his resignation, probably in October. The Conservatives begin holding their elections to select final 2 candidates July 5, culminating September 9.
In the week since the vote Labour has also shown its deep divisions, with ranking party members calling for Jeremy Corbyn to step down, claiming his lackluster support for Remain doomed the cause. Even PM Cameron said he should resign.
Corbyn is one of the few high ranking politicians who's in sympathy with the British people. It's the pro-Remain politicos who should step down (such as Cameron is doing).

For their part, EU officials and other national heads of state are calling for immediate invocation of Article 50 which triggers the exit process.

Concurrently, it is continental markets and banks suffering from Brexit, as opposed to their British counterparts.
FT: ECB takes Brexit in its stride despite complacency concerns
June 30 2016
Vitor Constancio, ECB President Draghi's deputy, said on June 29 that Britain was "not a major economic area."
Ed. note: It's comments like these that cause people to scorn technocrats (they are not "experts," but technocrats).
Yet Fed President Yellen and BOE Governor Carney skipped the ECB conference to mind the markets. Because of a non-major economic area.

Same article notes Italian banks fell sharply again after PM Renzi couldn't persuade the EU to allow Rome to bailout of its lenders.

FT Brexit: Haunted Europe
June 26 2016
Tony Barber writes "The UK vote throws into doubt the EU's survival as support for expansion wanes."
Weeks before the Brexit vote European Council President Donald Tusk warned his colleagues that European citizens did not share the enthusiasm of some of their leaders for a "utopia of Europe without nation states."

Not getting, or ignoring, the memo Spain's Foreign Minister Garcia-Margallo wrote an article in El Pais titled "Whatever happens, more Europe."

The same Spain that won't let an independent Scotland join the EU (don't look now but Catalonia has promised to have its own independence referendum by 2017).

Charles Grant of the Centre for European Reform said "From now on, the narrative will be one of disintegration, not integration...But centrist politicians who run nearly every EU member state will henceforth be on the defensive against the populist forces who oppose them and the EU."
Ed. note: centrist politicians according to whom?

FT City of London has lost its voice with Brexit, says Lord Hill
June 26 2016
Alex Barker writes "City of London should brace itself for a new era where its rule book reflects Franco-German interests unchecked by 'the British voice', according to Britain's Lord Hill, the outgoing EU commissioner in charge of financial services.

"[S]enior EU officials believe the UK's passporting rights are effectively 'dead' post-Brexit because other countries led by France will ensure any future form of passport will offer far less privileged access to a eurozone market with protectionist rules. Banks have already begun to take action to shift operations out of the UK, approaching euro area regulators to secure licenses."
Ed. note: But will those jobs move to Paris, where the cost of labor is much higher than London?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Captain Spaulding on Brexit

Captain Spaulding, on his way to a party was asked by BBC what his position was on the June 23 Brexit vote:

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Different means not the same

Last week my friend and I went to the coffee bar in the building.
She ordered a Latté.
I ordered a Café au Lait.
The server airily told us they were the same.
They are not the same.
Not according to the world.
Not according to Starbucks.
Not according to coffee drinkers.
And not according to the coffee bar's MENU.
And the coffee bar menu also has cafe au lait CHEAPER than latte.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

FT's Simon Kuper accidentally makes a reveal

Simon Kuper has a column in the Weekend FT: The new French royalty.

And on his way to making superb snarky commentary on French politics he drops this bombshell:
Does Kuper know he provided more evidence for the False Flag party?

Separately, he really does have some great snarky takes on political elites:

Monday, May 23, 2016

When track & field had style

No accusations of performance-enhancing methods leveled against these women of the University of Texas track team.
(Sports Illustrated, April 1964)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Rousseff's impeachment looks like a coup

May 12, 2016 President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil was impeached by the Senate, 55-22. She is suspended for the duration of the trial, which could last up to six months.

The interim president is Michele Temer.

In his 1st week Temer is appointing his people to head the country's institutions to assure global investors and the country's voters - per Financial Times.

Temer appointed Henrique Meirelles as the Minister of Finance.

May 17, 2016 Meirelles selects Ilan Goldfajn, the chief economist at Brazil's largest non-state bank, Itaú Unibanco to replace Alexandre Tombini as the central bank president.

This is how the Financial Times described Goldfajn (emphasis mine):
Israeli-born Mr Goldfajn, who has a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a central bank director between 2000 and 2003 and has worked as a consultant for the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Stations.
Goldfajn, if a courtroom sketch artist drew him


Following the nomination of Goldfajn, whose appointment must be ratified by the senate, Mr Meirelles also proposed on Tuesday [May 17] a constitutional amendment to grant the central bank formal autonomy.

Brazil's central bank is one of the few in the world that is not independent from the government[.]

Separately they mention that 70% of Brazilians support Rousseff's impeachment, only 1% would elect Temer as president.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Politics is like steeplechase racing

Not only do you have to pick the right horse, but it has to keep its rider to the finish line.

World domination started with benign intent

It started on Mother's Day when I planted some spearmint at Mom's grave. The tombstone has vases and I was inspired by the beautiful day to plant the spearmint, which Mom had planted around our deck because mosquitoes hate it, it smells wonderful, and is close to indestructible - even in a Zone 5, which is Chicago.

I am aware that if unchecked spearmint will take over, but I'm willing to take that chance.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Then I really don't understand the hateful screaming

Four and a half years ago Matt Ridley at WSJ reported on Michael Shermer's, editor of Skeptic magazine, then-recent article in Scientific American debunking 9/11 conspiracies.

The key takeaway from Ridley's Maybe We're All Conspiracy Theorists:
[H]ow do we know that our own rational rejections of conspiracy theories are not themselves infected with beliefs so strong that they are, in effect, conspiracy theories, too?
*The post's headline is taken from "Everbody Loves Raymond" episode "Net Worth" (S5:E20).

This can't be good

Whenever Chicago is mentioned in a Financial Times headline.

Chill wind buffets Rahm Emanuel in Chicago
And the sub-headline:
Year-long budget stand-off compounded by growing mistrust of authorities

And they didn't forget to mention Moody's has downgraded the city to junk status.

Check and mate.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Meet Miss Kreditanstalt of 2016: Deutsche Bank

The beauty contest started in 1931, two years after The Crash of 1929. The markets crashed but regained 60% by May 1930.

Austria's Kreditanstalt failed in May 1931. And the market plunged more than in October 1929. And worldwide. And triggered bank runs and defaults worldwide.

And so, in honor of the first big domino in modern history, these awards are The Miss Kreditanstalt.

A short history of the awards:
1984 - Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company
Deja vu-ish, Continental's over-exposure to gas and oil loans, issued in the boom years of the 1970s, collapsed along with energy prices in the early 1980s. (See 2016 quarterly earnings from Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America, and JPMorgan on their exposure to US oil and gas companies here at Zero Hedge.)

1998 - Long-Term Capital Management, or, LTCM.
If only Russia hadn't defaulted.

In 2007 we went to monthly awards
February - FHLMC
September - Northern Rock (UK)

March - Bear Stearns ("bought" by JPMorgan)
June - Countrywide ("bought" by Bank of America)
July - IndyMac goes into bankruptcy
September 7 - FNMA and FHLMC go into government conservatorship
September 15 - Lehman Brothers files for bankruptcy AND Merrill Lynch "bought" by Bank of America
September 16 - AIG gets lifeline from Fed
September 17 - SEC bans short-selling on financial sector stocks
September 21 - Fed approves Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley's conversion to bank holding companies
September 25 - A bankrupt Washington Mutual is "bought" by JPMorgan
October 24 - PNC Financial Services buys National City Corp (creating 5th biggest bank in US)
November 10 - Fed approves American Express' conversion to bank holding company
November 17 - 3 insurance companies seek TARP funding: Lincoln National. Hartford, and Genworth
November 18 - Ford, GM, and Chrysler seek TARP funding
November 23 - Fed, Treasury, and FDIC agree to jointly provide Citigroup funding and guarantees.

Things were quietly turbulent from 2009 to 2014, when junk bonds began failing.
2015 - the energy sector bonds began defaulting as a result of crashing oil and gas prices.
And China exports dropped due to the world's recession.

2016 - Markets are down. Is Deutsche Bank Miss Kreditanstalt of 2016? Could DB share the honor with others? Confused? You won't be after this week's episode of "Soap."