There are times when I'd like to share something with you but my Voice in the Garden site does not seem the appropriate place, thus, this blog.

There are experiences, thoughts, views... and for anyone lurking/waiting to pounce (as has occurred on several occasions), please do not attempt to turn what I post into a political statement. This is NOT a political site, but IS about occurrences, reality, and personal opinion concerning what I see in the world around me and my family. There are many excellent writers whose works "speak" to me, and I shall include some of them. At times it may be
something I think you would enjoy or simply whatever ails you (me).
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Banks Play Shell Game with Taxpayer Dollars

I simply shake my head... move it from one pocket to another but at U.S. taxpayer expense. No, I generally am not a proponent of Bernie Sanders idealogy, but when someone speaks the truth, then we should pay attention.

April 26, 2011

BURLINGTON, Vt., April 26 - A study requested by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) found numerous instances during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 when banks took near zero-interest funds from the Federal Reserve and then loaned money back to the federal government on sweetheart terms for the banks. (bold type is by me)

The banks pocketed interest on government securities that paid rates up to 12 times greater than the Fed's rock bottom interest charges, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis conducted for Sanders.

"This report confirms that ultra-low interest loans provided by the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis turned out to be direct corporate welfare to big banks," Sanders said. "Instead of using the Fed loans to reinvest in the economy, some of the largest financial institutions in this country appear to have lent this money back to the federal government at a higher rate of interest by purchasing U.S. government securities."

The full article is here...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Behind the Rising Cost of Food

The cost of food worldwide rose 37 percent from February 2010 to this year, but you are already aware of the sting to your wallet. The NYT offers this perspective. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

MIT World Price Index

BPP (Billion Prices Project)

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) began building a data base in October 2007, using 5 million individual items of 70 countries around the world and including information from supermarkets, electronics, apparel, furniture, real estate, and more.

Go here to see 3 graphs that speak to the state of the world economies.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Washington Bubble, Lobbyists

We are not subscribers to Time Magazine, but this chart was brought to our attention by a financial writer we follow. Somehow all this dirty money and lobbying has to be curtailed and return to some semblance of sanity in our tax code that is filled with loopholes because of these special interests.

The article begins with: The recession skipped K Street. The firms along Washington's traditional lobbyists' row have continued to expand despite the nation's economic woes. In fact, because of them sweeping legislative fights over health care, financial reform, energy, climate change and defense have spurred companies to spend to defend their turf...

The chart tells the story.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Housing Interactive Price Reductions Map

Great data by zip code: shows the average # of days a listing is on the market before sellers in this zip code make the first price reduction. The darker the color, the stronger the market.

Click here to see the data.

Friday, April 15, 2011

America... Dual Justice System

If either you or we had been involved in anything the least bit deceptive or fraudulent, we would have been thrown in jail and our assets confiscated, but Wall Street banks and brokers, nah. Some have paid a few fines here and there but no one is in jail and they continue as if nothing ever happened. From Washingtonsblog.com:

America Is a "Failed State" with a "Dual Justice System ... One for Ordinary People and then One for People with Money and Enormous Wealth and Power"

It is now mainstream news that none of the big financial criminals have been prosecuted.

The New York Times is running an article today entitled "In financial crisis, no prosecutions of top figures", which has been picked up as the leading front-page story by MSNBC. The story even quotes Bill Black:

But their policies have created an exceptional criminogenic environment. There were no criminal referrals from the regulators. No fraud working groups. No national task force. There has been no effective punishment of the elites here.
And the chair of the Financial Crisis Commission, Phil Angelides, said today:I think there's a great concern in this country on two fronts. One is there's a question here, do we have a dual justice system? One for ordinary people and then one for people with money and enormous wealth and power. Secondly, we need deterrents. To the extent laws were broken, we need deterrents. If someone robs a 7-11, they took $500 and they were able to settle the next day for $50 and no admission of wrongdoing, they'd knock over that 7-11 again. And we've seen time after time where people and firms have made tens, one hundreds, billions of dollars. They've settled charges for pennies on the dollar. At Citigroup for example they represented that they had $13 billion of subprime mortgage exposure when they really had $55 billion. The penalty to the chief financial officer who made $19 million that year, 2007, was $100,000. Goldman was fined $500 million but the date they settled their stock moved up $2 billion. There's been no real consequence.

Read it in its entirety here

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stock Market Algorithmic Trading

If you think someone is entering buy and sell orders all day in the stock exchanges, think again. Nearly 75% of all decisions are being made by a machine, not by humans. The stock markets are ruled by machines and algorithmic trading, HFT (high frequency trading), automatic programs. Comforting knowing this?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Madness: Gov't Spent More Than Eight Times Its Monthly Revenue

Think about this for a moment: your (hypothetical) monthly income is $3000, but you spend (8) eight times that amount or $24,000 per month, annually $36,000 income but $288,000 out-of-control-spending. How long do you think that can be sustained, and what will happen if you did that?

This is what the U.S. Government is doing, spending More Than Eight Times Its Monthly Revenue.

The federal government’s cash-flow situation was summed up pungently in Senate Budget Committee testimony by Erskine Bowles, who served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and is now the co-chair of President Barack Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility. (See video below.)



Mr Bowles: “And what happens to the U.S. economy? The markets will absolutely devastate us if we don't step up to this problem. The problem is real, the solutions are painful, and we have to act.”