Dec 30, 2008

John McCain on the economy (2008)

The fundamentals of our economy are strong.

~ Sen. John McCain, former Republican presidential candidate, Sept. 15, 2008

George W. Bush on bailouts (2008)

I don't think the government ought to be involved in bailing out companies.

~ President George W. Bush, July 15, 2008

Alan Schwartz on Bear Stearns: No liquidity crisis (2008)

We don't see any pressure on our liquidity, let alone a liquidity crisis.

~ Alan Schwartz, CEO of Bear Stearns, March 12, 2008.

John Thain on Merrill Lynch: "We have more capital than we need" (2008)

We have more capital than we need, so we can say to the market that we don't need more injections. We can confirm that we have tackled the problem.

~ John Thain, former CEO, Merrill Lynch, March 16, 2008

Dec 26, 2008

Norman Thomas on the importance of propaganda in bringing about socialism in America

The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.

~ Norman Thomas, a one time US presidential condidate

Pat Buchanan on Ronald Reagan protecting the auto industry

Bush may believe he has sinned against free-market principles, but he is following the path of his great free-market predecessor. Ronald Reagan, too, was not prepared to see Japan take down the U.S. auto industry, or steel industry, or computer chip industry, or Harley-Davidson.

Believing Japan was dumping to destroy U.S. companies, Reagan put patriotism before ideology and imposed quotas on Japanese imports. He, too, was castigated by the same commentariat that is berating Bush.

~ Patrick J. Buchanan, "George Bush, Protectionist,", December 26, 2008

Pat Buchanan on the auto bailout

Averting Chapter 11 for GM, which could lead to liquidation of the greatest manufacturing company in U.S. history -- cutting America out of the premier consumer market of the 21st century -- makes sense not only from the standpoint of politics, but economics, as well.

~ Patrick J. Buchanan, "George Bush, Protectionist,", December 26, 2008

George W. Bush on loaning $17 billion to the Big Three auto companies

I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system... to make sure the economy doesn't collapse.

~ President George W. Bush, interview with CNN, December, 2008

Dec 24, 2008

Martin Feldstein on using defense spending to stimulate the economy

The Department of Defense is preparing budget cuts in response to the decline in national income. The DOD budgeteers and their counterparts in the White House Office of Management and Budget apparently reason that a smaller GDP requires belt-tightening by everyone.

That logic is exactly backwards. As President-elect Barack Obama and his economic advisers recognize, countering a deep economic recession requires an increase in government spending to offset the sharp decline in consumer outlays and business investment that is now under way. Without that rise in government spending, the economic downturn would be deeper and longer. Although tax cuts for individuals and businesses can help, government spending will have to do the heavy lifting. That's why the Obama team will propose a package of about $300 billion a year in additional federal government outlays and grants to states and local governments.

~ Martin Feldstein, "Defense Spending Would Be Great Stimulus," The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 2008

Dec 18, 2008

Stephen Jen on the dollar

The dollar's rise is genuine and more deserving than many skeptics have in mind.

~ Stephen Jen, economist, Morgan Stanley, "What's Driving Up the Dollar," BusinessWeek, December 8, 2008

Todd Salamone on the stock market (2008)

We've entered a black hole.

~ Todd Salamone, Schaeffer's Investment Research, "Reading the Market's Signposts," BusinessWeek, November 20, 2008 (December 8 issue)

Dec 17, 2008

Ken Fisher on comparisons to the 1929-1932 bear market and limited downside (2008)

This is not 1929-1932. The fact that people say it's like 1929-1932 is actually bullish. That is, that's regularly trotted out about every third bear market. And, the fact of the matter is, bear markets - I mean we're not in a 1929-1932 world; we're in a very different world. After every bear market there's a bull market. And this is the time - since no one can tell exactly when the bottom will be - this is the time to be thinking longer term about where stocks will be two or three years from now. And the fact is two or three years from now they ought to be pretty good.

There is no doubt, you could see the market down before it goes up. But my point is the bottom of bear markets is a very short time period with a steep "V," and you can't time the bottom of that with any precision. Anybody who thinks he can is an overconfident fool. And the fact is, you gotta be in it to win it. And you might lose it before you win it. But you gotta remember, that the next bull market is huge compared to any downside from here.

~ Ken Fisher, Fisher Investments, "Ken Fisher touts 'road to riches' despite meltdown,", October 10, 2008, interview with Steve Gelsi

(Fisher, 57, who went to Humboldt State University to study forestry and graduated with a degree in economics, said the current credit crisis could be eased considerably with better monetary policy.

The U.S. Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke should consider dropping its discount rate so it's lower than both the Federal Funds Rate and the rate on Treasurys, he said. Together with a drop in reserve requirements for banks, the measures would help free up lending, he said.)

Paul McCulley: Bernanke won't allow a depression

We are not going to have a depression. Ben Bernanke is not going to allow us to have a depression.

~ Paul McCulley, Pimco, as appeared on CNBC, December 27, 2008

Dec 14, 2008

Arnold Schwarzenegger on economic girly-men

And to those critics who are so pessimistic about our economy, I say don't be economic girly-men!

~ Arnold Schwarzenegger, September 1, 2004

Dec 10, 2008

Jim Chanos bearish on China and infrastructure plays

[Jim] Chanos was excited that afternoon. He had just read a report that China’s electric consumption had dropped 4 percent, despite official government statistics that the Chinese economy was growing at 8 percent. He relished the implications. “I think they’re making up the numbers!” he said. As Wall Street picks up the pieces of the broken financial system, Chanos is already one step ahead. He sees China as the next domino to fall in the global meltdown. In recent months, Chanos has loaded up short positions on the infrastructure companies that have rushed to build China’s new highways, bridges, and tunnels. Now he is waiting for their share prices to tank.

~ Gabriel Sherman, "The Catastrophe Capitalist," New York Magazine, December 7, 2008

Dec 9, 2008

BusinessWeek on billionaire Kirk Kerkorian's ill-fated bets on Ford Motor and Las Vegas

It was to be the culmination of Kirk Kerkorian's drive to become Las Vegas' largest player. But the $9.3 billion CityCenter project, a gangly collection of four hotels, an Elvis-themed Cirque du Soleil show, and 2,700 high-priced condos, has become the billionaire's disaster in the desert. Beset by cost overruns, the MGM Mirage project has helped devastate the value of Kerkorian's 54% stake in the casino giant, at a time when he was pledging his casino shares for a line of credit and placing a big bet on Ford Motor stock.

~ BusinessWeek, "Kerkorian's Other Problem," October 22, 2008 (Nov. 3 issue)

BusinessWeek on hedge fund dumping of leveraged loans

Perhaps nowhere has rapid-fire selling been more pronounced than in the $500 billion market for so-called leveraged loans. In recent years companies sold these securities to finance private equity buyouts, acquisitions, and other corporate deals. But hedge funds, which lined up to buy the loans during the boom, have been off-loading them in recent weeks to meet redemptions and margin calls.

Highland Capital Management, a $38 billion money-management shop that invested heavily in this arena, has been among the most aggressive sellers of leveraged loans. Highland declined to comment.

The sell-off by hedge funds and other investors is depressing loan prices. In recent weeks the value of the typical loan, according to research firm Standard & Poor's LCD, quickly dropped from 85¢ on the dollar to just 66¢, a deeply distressed price usually reserved for companies that are in bankruptcy. (Historically, investors have recovered 70¢ on the dollar when a company defaults.)

Yet few of the companies whose loans are trading near those prices, including utility TXU Energy and credit-card processor First Data, are in such dire straits. "The loan market is a very funny place right now," says David Ford, a founding member of Latigo Partners, a hedge fund that buys distressed investments. "It's not being driven by fundamental forces."

In essence, the market is suggesting that owners of such securities won't get their money back. That unlikely scenario has some market observers scratching their heads. In the event of bankruptcy, investors in leveraged loans are the first to be repaid, outranking other holders of corporate debt and stock. And many companies today have more than enough assets on hand to make their loan investors whole. For example, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems (CYH), whose loans are selling for roughly 75¢ on the dollar, has $9 billion in assets, far more than its $6 billion in loans.

~ BusinessWeek, "The Hedge Fund Contagion," October 22, 2008 (Nov 3. issue)

Richard Kovacevich on bailouts and who should be first in line

Q: If the government is going to buy into banks, why not autos, why not airlines?

A: It's important to invest in the banks because banks are the grease that keeps the real economy moving. If there is no financing available for corporations, for consumers, for municipalities, if that does not exist, then no industry can be successful, right? You've got to have that backbone. And that's what you have to do first. Who else you do it with, or for, is for other people to decide. But I think almost everyone agrees, until you fix the financial system, helping others won't make a difference.

~ Richard Kovacevich, CEO, Wells Fargo, "Wells Fargo's Kovacevich: The Importance of Hitting Bottom," BusinessWeek, October 22, 2008 (Nov. 3 issue), interview with Maria Bartiromo

Richard Kovacevich on Wells Fargo's financial strength

Q: Well Fargo has stayed very strong relative to your competitors. Why?

A: We just didn't make some of the mistakes that others did. We still made some mistakes, and that's very unfortunate. In some cases, we should have known better. In general—and I don't know if I take much pride in this—we're probably the least ugly of the ugly ducks because we did not participate in some of the excesses, particularly related to subprime borrowers and [collateralized debt obligations] and highly leveraged loans.

~ Richard Kovacevich, CEO, Wells Fargo, "Wells Fargo's Kovacevich: The Importance of Hitting Bottom," BusinessWeek, October 22, 2008 (Nov. 3 issue), interview with Maria Bartiromo

Richard Kovacevich (Wells Fargo's CEO) on deleveraging

For those of us who are born capitalists, you know, it's an extraordinary time. However, what's happening is a deleveraging of the financial system. By putting in capital instead of just buying loans, for every dollar you put in, institutions get to lever that 10 to 20 times in terms of the loans they can make. So I think it's very wise to attempt to neutralize to some extent the deleveraging that has gone on and will continue to go on by putting capital in that can then be levered.

~ Richard Kovacevich, CEO, Wells Fargo, "Wells Fargo's Kovacevich: The Importance of Hitting Bottom," BusinessWeek, October 22, 2008 (Nov. 3 issue), interview with Maria Bartiromo

Neel Kashkari on stemming the credit crisis

Over the last 15 months or 18 months of the credit crisis it’s only gotten deeper, it’s only gotten more severe. And I would rather be on our front foot, going after the problem aggressively with new programmes, trying to be creative, trying new things, rather than just sitting back and saying, ‘Let’s just let it happen and see what happens, see if the system collapses.’

~ Neel Kashkari, oversees the US Treasury’s $700 billion financial-rescue plan, "Kashkari defends $700-billion financial rescue plan," Bloomberg, December 8, 2008

Neel Kashkari on managing the TARP

[The government is investing in] very high quality institutions of all sizes.

We're not day traders, and we're not looking for a return tomorrow. Over time, we believe the taxpayers will be protected and have a return on their investment.

~ Neel Kashkari, the director of Treasury's Office of Financial Stability, which oversees the $700 billion financial rescue fund, "U.S. taxpayers will see a return from bailout," AP, December 5, 2008

(The Treasury Department has received preferred stock and warrants to buy additional shares in return for the $150 billion it has invested so far in 52 banks, including Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co Inc. But an Associated Press analysis yesterday showed that the warrants to purchase about 1.2 billion additional shares in those banks have so far lost about one-third of their value.)

Nassim Taleb on deflation and Henry Paulson

I know that we're going to have massive deflation. The overhang of debt, massive deflation. Debt needs to be reduced. And [Henry] Paulson seems to be doing a good job. Particularly that they were part of the cause of what happened. It's quite commendable.

~ Nassim Taleb, "A conversation about economics with Nassim Taleb," Charlie Rose, December 3, 2008

Nassim Taleb on hedge funds

I think the hedge funds that we have today, a lot of them are going to disappear and they deserve to disappear. A lot of them never made a penny for their clients, they're taking a lot of hidden risks - they looked good, but in fact they were hiding a lot of hidden risks. But I think there's a role, hedge funds to finance companies, by mature hedge funds - those will survive. You're going to have, of course, survival of a different class of people from the ones who thrived during the Greenspan-Bernanke era. So you will have hedge funds taking risks... but then... society - the responsible people - is not there to bail them out. They'll take risks, but the class of risks they'll be taking is going to be more on the equity side than on the debt side.

~ Nassim Taleb, "A conversation about economics with Nassim Taleb," Charlie Rose, December 3, 2008

Hiromasa Nakamura on deflation

Deflation, rather than supply, sent yields down in Japan. The same situation will occur in the U.S.

~ Hiromasa Nakamura, a senior investor in Tokyo at Mitsubishi UFJ Trust & Banking Corp., "Obama Bonds to Give Buyers Taste of Japan Lost Decade,", December 8, 2008, by Wes Goodman

Wan-Chong Kung on deflation

Deflation fear is alive and well. The constant parallels being drawn to the Depression era as well as to the Japanese experience leads to the feeling we’re looking at a pretty gloomy period for a long time.

~ Wan-Chong Kung, who helps oversee $76 billion in fixed income as a money manager at FAF Advisors Inc. in Minneapolis, the asset-management arm of U.S. Bancorp, "Obama Bonds to Give Buyers Taste of Japan Lost Decade,", December 8, 2008, by Wes Goodman

Ken Heebner on the credit crunch

A year from now, credit will be available because of the government's actions.

~ Ken Heebner, "Heebner the Contrarian," The Wall Street Journal, December 6, 2008, by Diya Gullapalli

(About 40% of Heebner's $4.3 billion CGM Focus Fund was in financial stocks as of Sept. 30, according to its portfolio report.)

Dec 7, 2008

Mark Cuban on the need for public works

personally don’t think a stimulus package of checks or rebates to the consumer will work. I believe consumers are so beaten up and fearful of the future that they will put it in the bank. Of course 20 years ago that would have been a good thing, These days banks don’t appear to be lending those deposits. So there is no primary or secondary stimulus impact.

Instead, having the government spend money on public works, which in turn creates jobs, will have a quick and positive economic impact. As much as it pains me to write those words, a drowning economy can’t worry about its form as it tries to get back to the surface. Sometimes you have to win ugly.

Private money is going to stay on the sidelines because we all know that there are unbelievable bargains available out there. Our money is waiting to go to equity and debt where we think we will get outsized returns. If and when those returns happen, money will come back in as new capital investment. Until then, the only liquid investor willing to put non current assets on their balance sheet is the government.

My little idea on where the government should spend money in public works projects ?

Parks and Schools.

~ Mark Cuban, "Public Works, The Inauguration, and the next BailOut Scandal," blog maverick, November 28, 2008

Dec 5, 2008

Sean Duffy on auto bailouts, failure, and the ultimate Christmas present

I think I know what I want for Christmas!

I would like GM, Ford, & Chrysler to close for good. No more bailouts and sorry litanies about how important these assholes are to the economy.(They are a huge liability.) My impression of the domestic auto industry is like looking into a black hole. Resources get poured in with no return .... never to be seen or heard from again.

Eliminating the so called domestic auto industry by letting them fail....
Now THAT's a Christmas present!

~ Sean Duffy, December 5, 2008

Joshua Powell on the Skyscraper Index

Economist Mark Lawrence created the Skyscraper Index in 1999. That index showed the correlation between economic crashes and tall buildings. The correlation can be unnerving, especially for those in the architecture profession, such as myself. But the past 100 years show strong evidence for Lawrence – almost every time the tallest building in the world is built, there is an economic crash to follow. 1907 brought the Singer Building and the Panic of 1907, 1931 brought the Empire State Building and the Great Depression, the early 1970s brought the Sears Tower and seventies stagflation, and the late nineties brought the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the meltdown in the Asian markets. Today is no different. We have the tallest building in the world going up, the Burj Dubai, at the same time that the economy is coming down. The suggestion is that while city skylines are often seen as a symbol of a city’s prosperity, they are also an implication of depression, each of the highest peaks likely representing a crash.

~ Joshua Powell, "The Dollar and the Tower Get in Bed,", December 5, 2008

Mark Zandi on the policy response to recession

The only way out is for the government to be extremely aggressive, from the Federal Reserve to economic stimulus to the TARP.

~ Mark Zandi, as appeared on CNBC, December 5, 2008

Dec 4, 2008

Bill Miller on a miserable 2008

When you're underperforming and losing more money than the market in a down market, then that's a much more problematic situation. We've performed far worse than I would've predicted we would.

~ Bill Miller, portfolio manager, Legg Mason Value Trust, ""Bottom's been made" in stocks: Legg Mason's Miller," December 3, 2008

(For the year, Miller's flagship Value Trust (LMVTX) fund was down 59.7 percent as of Tuesday, compared to a 41 percent decline in the reinvested returns of the S&P 500 index, according to Lipper Inc., a unit of Thomson Reuters.

Performance over the year-to-date, one-, three- and five-year periods for Value Trust put it at the bottom of the barrel among its peers, Lipper data shows.)

Dec 3, 2008

Johnny Kramer on the persecution of Plaxico Burress for shooting himself in the leg

To summarize, [Plaxico] Burress is being prosecuted not for damaging another person's body or property, for which that person has filed a complaint, seeking restitution and/or damages; he's being prosecuted for not having a permission slip from the State to carry his own property. And the people who helped him get medical treatment are being threatened for not turning Burress in to the State for not having a permission slip and because the piece of his property, for which he didn't have a permission slip, involved in the victimless incident happened to be a gun; and for not cooperating with the State, once the non-crime came to its attention, in helping it gather evidence to prosecute Burress for the non-crime, and possibly to prosecute them for their involvement in the non-crime too.

The despicable treatment by the State of Burress, and the equally despicable threatening of those who went out of their way to help him with his accidental injury, is another example of the State's hegemonic relationship with the people it "serves," as Butler Shaffer has quipped, "the way a cannibal 'serves' his neighbor."

In a free society, Burress would be responsible for paying his hospital bill and for any damage to the nightclub, after which he could put the whole unpleasant accident behind him and get on with his life.

Instead, the State is going to ruin Burress' career and life, and cause unspeakable anguish for his loved ones, by locking him in a cage inside a socialist hellhole for a "crime" that hurt no one except for himself – and even that, just barely. The only victim in this "crime" is Burress.

~ Johnny Kramer, "The Persecution of Plaxico Burress,", December 3, 2008

Sheldon Richman on national pride

There certainly are things about America to love. The philosophy expressed in the Declaration of Independence tops the list. The abolitionist movement is another example. Any dedication to liberty and resistance to tyranny are worthy of admiration.

But for that very reason, so much about “America” deserves not love or pride but contempt. From the start, people in power have sought to nullify the ideals that distinguished America from other countries. The record of U.S. interventionist foreign policy, which has required coercion of the American people and others, is a record of shame. American presidents have supported and even installed dictators to advance the U.S. government’s imperial agenda. Their military policy has regarded civilian lives as expendable in the pursuit of an international regime amenable to the American ruling elite’s mercantile interests. Of course, that was justified as spreading freedom and democracy, a charade that fooled far more Americans than foreigners.

Domestically, freedom and free enterprise have taken back seats to other objectives, such as economic stability or national security. Capitalism in practice has meant a system of mercantilist privilege for wealthy interests, with harmful consequences at home and abroad. That is not something to be proud of. It is something to be condemned.

~ Sheldon Richman, "How Can You Love a Country?," Freedom Daily, December 3, 2008

Sheldon Richman on conservatives and nationalism

Worship of the nation and its government is in fact inconsistent with America’s founding ideals. Thomas Jefferson said the appropriate attitude of a free people toward the government is “jealousy” not “confidence,” much less adoration. He spoke of the need to keep it caged. He was right, but if he were around today, conservatives might accuse him of not loving his country. Stripped of its incidental characteristics, government is nothing but physical force. So government, even under the best of circumstances, must always be eyed with suspicion. No Jeffersonian can be comfortable with government activism in foreign affairs. Appeals to security are to be met with high skepticism, for it’s too easy a cover for political intrigue.

That conservatives relish almost any foreign activism shows how un-Jeffersonian they are. They are nationalists and state-worshipers. For them, to love America is to love the government (at least if it is run by one of their own) because it is the government that embodies the nation and the nation is great and deserving of reverence.

~ Sheldon Richman, "How Can You Love a Country?," Freedom Daily, December 3, 2008

Dec 2, 2008

Benjamin Franklin on virtue and freedom

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

~ Benjamin Franklin

Alexis de Tocqueville on individual rights

It is therefore most especially in the present democratic times that the true friends of the liberty and the greatness of man ought constantly to be on the alert, to prevent the power of government from lightly sacrificing the private rights of individuals to the general execution of its designs. At such times, no citizen is so obscure that it is not very dangerous to allow him to be oppressed; no private rights are so unimportant that they can be surrendered with impunity to the caprices of a government.

~ Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835)

Ron Paul on capitalism

Capitalism is not a system, but rather the result of free individuals taking economic actions without interference by government. A true capitalist economy is neither planned by bureaucrats nor steered by regulators.

~ Ron Paul

Nov 29, 2008

Mary Shafer on security

Insisting on perfect safety is for people who don't have the balls to live in the real world.

~ Mary Shafer

Madonna on ambition

I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.

~ Madonna

Nov 28, 2008

Dr. Johnson on learning the truth

In order that all men might be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it.

~ Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Nov 25, 2008

Marc Faber on propping up failed enterprises

To support ailing enterprises and companies that have proven to have committed huge errors is like if you have a criminal and you support him rather than to put him in jail.

~ Marc Faber, Bloomberg TV, November 25, 2008

Jim Rogers on how the financial system needs to allow failure

Greenspan refused to let people fail. And so we've had no failure in the financial community and now we've spent trillions of dollars bailing out Wall Street for their mistakes and that's damaging the whole economy - 300 million Americans to bail out a million people and their failures. This is not good for America. We're damaging the system. We're weakening the system dramatically.

Why are we bailing out Citibank? Why are 300 million Americans having to pay for Citibank's mistakes? The way the system is supposed to work... People fail, and then the competent people take over the assets from the failed people and you start again from a new, stronger base. What we're doing this time is they're taking the assets from the competent people, giving them to the incompetent people, and saying, "Ok, now you can compete with the competent people." So everybody's weakened. The whole nation is weakened. The whole economy's weakened. That's not the way it's supposed to work.

There are many banks, many brokers, many homeowners, many citizens who've been sitting there, doing what they were supposed to do, minding their manners, not getting extended, waiting for this to happen, knowing that someday all of this foolishness is going to wind up as a disaster. Now, instead of being rewarded, they're being punished. All these homeowners who did nothing wrong are now having to pay for the people who did crazy things like buying four homes with no job. This is weakening America dramatically.

~ Jim Rogers, Bloomberg TV, November 24, 2008

Stephanie Pomboy on how the TARP is encouraging the banks to drag their feet on deleveraging

Proving our long-standing conviction that the only thing more certain than death and taxes is that policymakers will always succeed in making a bad situation worse, Hank’s big TARP tease has put the banking sector 2 months behind its nonbank peers in the process of balance sheet repair. While hedge funds and other nonbank financial institutions have been frantically selling assets and taking down leverage, the banks have sat tight. The promise that the toxic paper boring holes in their balance sheets would shortly be expunged had mooted the need to sell. To wit, bank holdings of MBS hit a new record high last week.

The upshot is that while hedge fund deleveraging is nearly complete, as implied by the massive reduction in total spec positions in any number of markets (like currencies), banks haven’t even begun.

~ Stephanie Pomboy, "Send in the Clowns," MacroMavens, November 20, 2008

Report from Iron Mountain and stabilizing society

The war system not only has been essential to the existence of nations as independent political entities, but has been equally indispensable to their stable political structure. Without it, no government has ever been able to obtain acquiesance in its "legitimacy," or right to rule its society. The possibility of war provides the sense of external necessity without which no government can long remain in power. The historical record reveals one instance after another where the failure of a regime to maintain the credibility of a war threat led to its dissolution, by the forces of private interest, of reactions to social injustice, or of other disintegrative elements. The organization of society for the possibility of war is its principal political stabilizer. ... It has enabled societies to maintain necessary class distinctions, and it has insured the subordination of the citizens to the state by virtue of the residual war powers inherent in the concept of nationhood.

~ Leonard Lewin, editor, Report from Iron Mountain, as quoted by G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island, page 517. Griffin has this to say about the origins of the report - "Although the origin of the report is highly debated, the document itself hints that it was commissioned by the Department of Defense under Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and was produced by the Hudson Institute located at the base of Iron Mountain in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. The Hudson Institute was founded and directed by Herman Kahn, formerly of the Rand Corporation. Both McNamara and Kahn were members of the CFR."

Alan Greenspan on the cause of the Great Depression

When business in the United States underwent a mild contraction in 1927, the Federal Reserve created more paper reserves in the hope of forestalling any possible bank reserve shortage. More disastrous, however, was the Federal Reserve's attempt to assist Great Britain who had been losing gold to us. ... The "Fed" succeeded: it stopped the gold loss, but it nearly destroyed the economies of the world in the process. The excess credit which the Fed pumped into the economy spilled over into the stock market - triggering a fantastic speculative boom. ... As a result, the American economy collapsed.

~ Alan Greenspan as quoted by G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island, page 474

The Club of Rome on pollution and global warming

In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill. ... All these dangers are caused by human intervention. ... The real enemy, then, is humanity itself.

~ Alexander King and Bertron Schnieder, The First Global Revolution, a Report by the Council of the Club of Rome, as quoted by G. Edward Griffin, page 528

Ron Paul and Lewis Lehrman on the Progressive Era

After 1896 and 1900, then, America entered a progressive and predominately Republican era. Compulsory cartelization in the name of "progressivism" began to invade every aspect of American economic life. The railroads had begun the parade with the formation of the ICC in the 1880s, but now field after field was being centralized and cartelized in the name of "efficiency," "stability," "progress," and the general welfare. ... In particular, various big business groups, led by the J.P. Morgan interests, often gathered in the National Civic Federation and other think tanks and pressure organizations, saw that the voluntary cartels and the industrial movements of the late 1890s had failed to achieve monopoly prices in industry. Therefore, they decided to turn to governments, state and federal, to curb the wins of competition and to establish forms of compulsory cartels, in the name, of course, of "curbing big business monopoly" and advancing the general welfare.

~ Ron Paul and Lewis Lehrman, as quoted in G. Edward Griffin, The Creature of Jekyll Island, page 434

John D. Rockefeller on competition

Competition is sin.

~ John D. Rockefeller, as quoted by G. Edward Griffin in The Creature from Jekyll Island, page 434

Andrew Jackson in vetoing the charter for the Second Bank of the United States

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society - the farmers, mechanics, and laborers - who have neither the time nor the means of securing life favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. It's evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its reigns, shower its favor alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me (the act chartering the Second Bank of the United States) there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.

~ Andrew Jackson, as quoted in G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island, page 350

Thomas Jefferson on banking and paper money

Although all the nations of Europe have tried and trodden every path of force and folly in a fruitless quest of the same object, yet we still expect to find in juggling tricks and banking dreams, that money can be made out of nothing, and in sufficient quantity to meet the expense of heavy war.

~ Thomas Jefferson, as quoted in G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island, page 338

Alexander Hamilton on Fiat Money

To emit an unfunded paper as the sign of value ought not to continue a formal part of the constitution, nor ever hereafter to be employed; being, in its nature, repugnant with abuses and libel to be made the engine of imposition and fraud.

~ Alexander Hamilton, as quoted in G. Edward Griffin, The Creature from Jekyll Island, page 316

Nov 24, 2008

Paul Kasriel on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)

There is a lack of transparency here and, given that the Fed is taking on a huge amount of credit risk now, it would seem to me as a taxpayer there should be more transparency.

~ Paul Kasriel, chief economist, Northern Trust, "U.S. Pledges Top $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit ,", November 24, 2008

Ben Bernanke on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)

Some have asked us to reveal the names of the banks that are borrowing, how much they are borrowing, what collateral they are posting. We think that’s counterproductive.

~ Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, talking before the House Financial Services Committee, November 18, 2008

(Quote sited in "U.S. Pledges Top $7.7 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit ,", November 24, 2008.)

Nov 23, 2008

John Maynard Keynes on economic stimulus

If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with bank-notes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coal-mines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again (the right to do so being obtained, of course, by tendering for leases of the note-bearing territory), there need be no more unemployment and, with the help of repercussions, the real income of the community, and its capital wealth, would probably become a good deal greater than it actually is.

~ John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), p. 129

Nov 22, 2008

Rich Tucker on auto industry subsidies

Washington wouldn’t be the first capitol to pour taxpayer capital into the automotive business. In the 1970s and ’80s, the British government took an ownership stake in British Leyland. Before all was said and done, the government had spent $16.5 billion in inflation-adjusted money on the company, which ended up folding, anyway.

“I’m not telling the U.S. what to do, but the lessons of the British experience is don’t throw good money after bad,” Leon Brittan, an aide to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, told The New York Times. “British Leyland carried on for a few more years, but they’re not there now, are they?”

Under government ownership, British cars were notoriously bad. We could expect the same thing here, once members of Congress are acting as automotive engineers. If you thought federal regulations hampered car makers, wait until the government’s in the room during the design process.

~ Rich Tucker, "Driven to Destruction,", November 21, 2008

Nov 20, 2008

Charles Gasparino on the securities industry

This is the most regulated industry in the world and it's leading our country to ruin.

~ Charles Gasparino, CNBC, November 20, 2008

Kevin Duffy on the lesson of the collapses of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Isn't it that business and politics don't mix? You'll always have the schemers and dreamers. The dreamers promoted "home ownership" for the less fortunate and built political careers in the process, while the schemers - political capitalists like Angelo Mozilo - figured out how to game the system... until it fell in on them. And the media dreamers looked the other way.

~ Kevin Duffy, Bearing Asset Management, November 20, 2008

Nov 18, 2008

Robert Prechter on credit expansion

Conventional economists excuse and praise this system [today's monetary system] under the erroneous belief that expanding money and credit promotes economic growth, which is terribly false. It appears to do so for a while, but in the long run the swollen mass of debt collapses under its own weight, which is deflation, and destroys the economy. Only the Austrian school understands this fact.

~ Robert Prechter, Conquer the Crash, p. 105

Nov 17, 2008

Kevin Duffy on bubbles

The conditions for a bubble are in the eye of beholder, I suppose, but here are the four I look for:
  1. Parabolic rise in prices and/or related metrics
  2. Valuations that detach from underlying fundamentals
  3. Broad public participation (subjective and can vary from a narrow company- or industry-specific bubble to a full-blown mania)
  4. Rationalizations for the boom and/or high valuations continuing (“it’s different this time”)

The bubble can manifest itself in price (e.g., tech, Internet and growth stocks in 2000) or earnings (e.g., homebuilding stocks in 2005, credit-related stocks in 2007, commodity-related stocks in 2008). One should also see signs that economic actors are changing their behavior (e.g., demand destruction, college students flocking to an industry, families melting down their silverware, criminals stealing D-RAM chips, etc.). The ultimate test of a bubble is after the fact: in real terms all of the gains of the bubble period are wiped out.

~ Kevin Duffy, Bearing Asset Management, November 17, 2008

Ron Paul on freedom's last line of defense

In the final analysis, the last line of defense in support of freedom and the Constitution consists of the people themselves. If the people want to be free, if they want to lift themselves out from underneath a state apparatus that threatens their liberties, squanders their resources on needless wars, destroys the value of their dollar, and spews forth endless propaganda about how indispensable it is and how lost we would all be without it, there is no force that can stop them.

~ Ron Paul, The Revolution: A Manifesto (2008)

Nov 16, 2008

Herbert Hoover jawboning business to keep people employed and factories running

Gentlemen, when you go back home to your factories and your offices, here's what I want you to do. I want you to keep all your workers. Don't lay any off! I want you to keep your factories going. Don't shut any down! I want you to invest more, spend more, even borrow more if you have to. Just don't do any cutting. So we can keep this economy going.

~ President Herbert Hoover, shortly after the '29 crash

(Quote sited by Martin D. Weiss, "Why Washington Cannot Prevent Depression," Money and Markets, November 10, 2008.)

Nov 14, 2008

Kevin Duffy on hedge funds

Like weapons and derivatives, there is nothing inherently evil about hedge funds, just sometimes the people who operate them. We have been highly critical of most of the professionals in the investment industry, largely because they've been full of themselves, overcompensated, unprepared for tough times, and pine for government intervention at the first sight of negative news.

~ Kevin Duffy, Bearing Asset Management, November 14, 2008

Nov 12, 2008

Henry Paulson on TARP changes

Since announcing the injection of capital into big banks we have been examining a wide range of ideas that can further strengthen the financial system and get lending going again to support the broader economy. And to adequately reform our system, we must make sure we fully understand the nature of the problem which will not be possible until we are confident it is behind us.

~"Paulson Shifts Focus of Rescue to Consumer Lending", Bloomberg, November 12, 2008

Mark Hulbert on how the doomsayers got it wrong in 2008

Sometimes you can't win for losing.

Just ask Harry Schultz. Or Howard Ruff. Or Jim Dines.

All three advisers, each of whom has been editing an investment newsletter at least since the 1970s, have built their investment careers by questioning conventional wisdom's trust in the soundness of the financial system. Not surprisingly, all three have been vociferous champions of gold and other precious metals.

You'd think that they would have cleaned up over the last year, since the disintegration of the financial system in recent months is almost exactly what they have been warning us about for decades.

But you'd be wrong.

Of the 181 newsletters on the Hulbert Financial Digest's monitored list, these three advisers' newsletters are in 173rd, 175th, and 176th places for year-to-date performances through October 31, with losses ranging from minus 64.9% to minus 70.0%.

~ Mark Hulbert, "Getting it right and still losing," MarketWatch, November 12, 2008

Nov 10, 2008

Ken Fisher on solving the credit crunch (he failed to see coming)

The Fed has several powerful tools that it hasn't used. When banks fail, by definition they had inadequate reserves. So when you have a bunch of banks failing, you drop reserve requirements.

The other thing you do [is] manipulate, planfully, the spread between the discount rate, the Fed funds rate, and the T-bill rate…The way to end the liquidity crisis is to drop the discount rate relative to the Fed fund rate, which then motivates banks which are troubled to go to the discount window, plead baby shoes, get cheap money at the discount window, and then turn their rear ends around and lend it out at the Fed fund market rate because it’s free money. You borrow at the discount window cheap, you lend it to the safest bank you know, and now that bank has excess reserves, and they lend it out. The way the Fed has always unlocked liquidity freezes is to increase the spread between the discount rate and the fund rate. If you want to get more extreme, drop the discount rate below the T-bill rate, and now you have a riskless transaction.

~ Ken Fisher, "Catching Up With: Ken Fisher," Investment Adviser, November 1, 2008, by James J. Green

Ken Fisher on the credit crunch

The notion of interbank lending process simply freezing up—no one saw it coming; we didn’t see it coming.

~ Ken Fisher, "Catching Up With: Ken Fisher," Investment Adviser, November 1, 2008, by James J. Green

Nov 8, 2008

Murray Rothbard on the source of the business cycle and how to end a depression

So now we see, at last, that the business cycle is brought about, not by any mysterious failings of the free market economy, but quite the opposite: By systematic intervention by government in the market process. Government intervention brings about bank expansion and inflation, and, when the inflation comes to an end, the subsequent depression-adjustment comes into play... what the government should do, according to the Misesian analysis of the depression, is absolutely nothing. It should, from the point of view of economic health and ending the depression as quickly as possible, maintain a strict hands off, "laissez-faire" policy. Anything it does will delay and obstruct the adjustment process of the market; the less it does, the more rapidly will the market adjustment process do its work, and sound economic recovery ensue. The Misesian prescription is thus the exact opposite of the Keynesian: It is for the government to keep absolute hands off the economy and to confine itself to stopping its own inflation and to cutting its own budget.

~ Murray Rothbard, "Economic Depressions: Their Cause and Cure," 1969

Ludwig von Mises on the futlitily of attempting to emerge from an economic crisis through interventionist measures

The appearance of periodically recurring economic crises is the necessary consequence of repeatedly renewed attempts to reduce the "natural" rates of interest on the market by means of banking policy. The crises will never disappear so long as men have not learned to avoid such pump-priming, because an artificially stimulated boom must inevitably lead to crisis and depression... All attempts to emerge from the crisis by new interventionist measures are completely misguided. There is only one way out of the crisis: Forgo every attempt to prevent the impact of market prices on production. Give up the pursuit of policies which seek to establish interest rates, wage rates and commodity prices different from those the market indicates.

~ Ludwig von Mises, The Causes of the Economic Crisis (1931)

Heritage Auction Galleries: Aluminum was once a precious metal

Until the late 1880s and early 1890s when a new chemical isolation process was discovered, aluminum was considered among the most precious of metals, far rarer and much more coveted than gold. It is difficult today to find adequate words to express how elusive pure aluminum was at the time this coin was struck. We have mentioned elsewhere in this catalog the story of how when the Emperor Napoleon served an imperial dinner of elaborate scale, he reserved the aluminum tableware for the most revered guests, reserving the gold service for those of lower estate. Until the early 1880s, aluminum was sold in troy-ounce quantities, and domestic yearly production was in the range of 1,000 to 3,000 troy ounces, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

~ Heritage Auction Galleries, September 20, 2008

Nov 5, 2008

Emma Goldman on the right to vote

If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.

~ Emma Goldman

Nov 3, 2008

Laurence Fink: "We are trading liquidity for illiquidity" (2007)

Probably the greatest issue that's confronting the world's investors is we are trading liquidity for illiquidity.

~ Laurence D. Fink, CEO, BlackRock,, April 26, 2007

Nov 2, 2008

Ed Yardeni: "Greatest global boom of all time" (2006)

I don't think the economy's "landing." I think the economy's doing great.

It's better than Goldilocks quite honestly. This is the greatest global boom of all time.

~ Ed Yardeni, Oak Investments, as appeared on CNBC, October 18, 2006

Art Laffer: "It's a beautiful economy" (2006)

It's a beautiful economy. The conditions look very good for a long-term prosperity.

Art Laffer, as appeared on CNBC, November 15, 2006

Jason Trennert: Nervousness is "good news from a contrarian standpoint" (2006)

I think we have more room to run and that's because the Street is still a little nervous. Last month short interest hit an all-time high. That's good news from a contrarian standpoint.

Jason Trennert, as appeared on CNBC, October 17, 2006

Abby Joseph Cohen: Economic slowdown good for investors (2006)

Our feeling is that the economy is slowing and this is good news for investors. We think that profit growth over the next 12 months will be robust enough to justify a 10% rise in prices.

~ Abby Joseph Cohen, as appeared on CNBC, October 17, 2006

Oct 31, 2008

Andrew Horowitz on bailout money going towards year-end bonuses

As if the economic bailout by U.S. taxpayers isn't enough to make you sick to your stomach, new information has come to light that several banks are planning to pay billions of dollars in year-end bonuses from the bailout funds they received. Investigations are beginning into the nine banks that took in the first $125 billion -- the same $125 billion that was supposed to be used to unclog the credit system which was preventing banks from providing much needed funds for individuals and businesses.

There are many feathers in a ruffle over this and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and several congressmen are furious that over $20 billion has already been earmarked as bonus funds for management and employees. Unbelievably, that is just the estimates from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. There are six more banks that are also working on similar heists.

~ Andrew Horowitz, "$50 billion of bailout going to employee bonuses," MSN.Money Blog, October 31, 2008

AEI's Desmond Lachman on the housing bust

[U]nless there’s government intervention on a big scale... we’re really not going to bottom.

~ Desmond Lachman, American Enterprise Institute, "Nev., Mich., Fla. lead ‘underwater’ homes list; New report underscores staggering depth of U.S. housing recession,", October 31, 2008

Oct 30, 2008

Bill Laggner on hedge funds, SEC disclosure fight

You are getting more and more layers of intervention in the most entrepreneurial piece of the investment world. There is a real sense of frustration about this because people want to keep their strategies under wraps. And as long as it is legal, why is the government looking?

~ Bill Laggner, "Hedge funds gird for SEC disclosure fight,", October 3, 2008

Oct 29, 2008

Friedrich Hayek on class exploitation

There has never been a worse and more cruel exploitation of one class by another than that of the weaker or less fortunate members of a group of producers by the well-established which has been made possible by the "regulation" of competition.

~ Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, page 129

Oct 27, 2008

Karen De Coster on Warren Buffett, stock tout

Warren Buffett is an admired man. He is admired, even by the middle and lower classes, for his frugality, wisdom, no-nonsense delivery, plain-folk personality, and yes, his hard-earned wealth. Readers may know that I deeply respect this man because I reflect on his business acumen frequently. But his latest column puts him in the role of being a propagandist for the government and its bull market-perpetual bubble-sustainable boom doctrine. The government and its Wall Street cronies are big on building "investor confidence" these days, especially when it comes to selling you on the stock market game and the ever-increasing Dow. Warren Buffett is working to convince you, the unsophisticated investor, to have unmitigated confidence in the market so that you will continue to buy and prop up market fantasies, even in a time of rapid decline and volatility.

~ Karen De Coster, "Warren Buffett, Government Propagandist,", October 23, 2008

Citadel's Ken Griffin on market sentiment

I have never seen a market as full of panic as I've seen it in the past seven or eight weeks.

Ken Griffin, founder, Citadel Investment Group, "Citadel's Griffin says firm will change amid turmoil," MarketWatch, October 27, 2008

Despite big losses from Citadel's main hedge fund this year, Griffin said that the recent turmoil has created the best opportunities he's seen since he started trading roughly 20 years ago:
"We're very excited about the positions in our portfolio in the months and years ahead."

(Citadel's largest hedge fund, known as Kensington/Wellington, fell 35% this year, through Oct. 17, according to Chief Operating Officer Gerald Beeson.)

Oct 26, 2008

Noriel Roubini on the need for fiscal stimulus to prevent a financial meltdown

Given the collapse of private aggregate demand, consumption, residential investment and non-residential investment in structures are falling, and capital expenditure by the corporate sector was already falling before the latest financial shock and will now be plunging at an even faster rate. You need to give a boost to aggregate demand to ensure that an unavoidable two-year recession does not become a decadelong stagnation.

Since the private sector is not spending, and since the first fiscal stimulus plan (tax rebates for households and tax incentives to firms) failed miserably as households and firms are saving rather than spending and investing, it is necessary now to boost public consumption of goods and services via a massive spending program (a $300 billion fiscal stimulus).

The U.S. government should have a plan to immediately spend on infrastructure and new green technologies; also unemployment benefits should be sharply increased, together with targeted tax rebates only for lower income households at risk; and federal block grants should be given to state and local government to boost their infrastructure spending (roads, sewer systems, etc.). If the private sector does not or cannot spend, old-fashioned, traditional Keynesian spending by the government is necessary. It is true that the U.S. already has large and growing budget deficits; but $300 billion of public works is more effective and productive than spending $700 billion to buy toxic assets.

… Radical action can – and should – be taken to control the damage and prevent this meltdown from occurring.

~ Nouriel Roubini, "The New New Deal,", October 9, 2008

Nouriel Roubini on the need for monetary stimulus to stop the bleeding in world markets

Recently I suggested the need for a coordinated monetary policy rate cut. That cut arrived in early October, with the Fed, the European Central Bank and other central banks cutting their policy rates by 50 basis points (bps). The action is necessary, but only cosmetic, and it is too little, too late. European central banks should have cut rates many months ago, before the recession and financial crisis became so virulent. Now, 50 bps for the Eurozone is peanuts at a time when a minimum of 150 bps is necessary to restart the economy and unclog frozen financial markets; 50 bps is also too little in the U.S., given the damage to the real economy from the financial shocks of the last month.

~ Nouriel Roubini, "The New New Deal,", October 9, 2008

Thomas Jefferson on public debt

I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared.

To preserve our independence we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt... We must make our choice between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude.

~ Thomas Jefferson


  1. Washington, George (1789-1797)
  2. Adams, John (1797-1801)
  3. Jefferson, Thomas (1801-1809)
  4. Madison, James (1809-1817)
  5. Monroe, James (1817-1825)
  6. Adams, John Quincy (1825-1829)
  7. Jackson, Andrew (1829-1837)
  8. Van Buren, Martin (1837-1841)
  9. Harrison, William Henery (1841-1841)
  10. Tyler, John (1841-1845)
  11. Polk, James K. (1845-1849)
  12. Taylor, Zachory (1849-1859)
  13. Fillmore, Millard (1850-1853)
  14. Pierce, Franklin (1853-1857)
  15. Buchanan, James (1857-1861)
  16. Lincoln, Abraham (1861-1865)
  17. Johnson, Andrew (1865-1869)
  18. Grant, Ulysses S. (1869-1877)
  19. Hayes, Rutherford B. (1877-1881)
  20. Garfield, James A. (1881-1881)
  21. Arthur, Chester A. (1881-1885)
  22. Cleveland, Grover (1885-1889)
  23. Harrison, Benjamin (1889-1893)
  24. Cleveland, Grover (1893-1897)
  25. McKinley, William (1897-1901)
  26. Roosevelt, Theodore (1901-1909)
  27. Taft, William Howard (1909-1913)
  28. Wilson, Woodrow (1913-1921)
  29. Harding, Warren G. (1921-1923)
  30. Coolidge, Calvin (1923-1929)
  31. Hoover, Herbert (1929-1933)
  32. Roosevelt, Franklin D. (1933-1945)
  33. Truman, Harry S. (1945-1953)
  34. Eisenhower, Dwight D. (1953-1961)
  35. Kennedy, John F. (1961-1963)
  36. Johnson, Lyndon B. (1963-1969)
  37. Nixon, Richard (1969-1974)
  38. Ford, Gerald (1974-1977)
  39. Carter, Jimmy (1977-1981)
  40. Reagan, Ronald (1981-1989)
  41. Bush, George H.W. (1989-1993)
  42. Clinton, Bill (1993-2001)
  43. Bush, George W. (2001-2009)
  44. Obama, Barack (2009-17)
  45. Trump, Donald (2017-

Cicero on public debt

The national budget must be balanced. The public debt must be reduced; the arrogance of the authorities must be moderated and controlled. Payments to foreign governments must be reduced, if Rome doesn't want to become bankrupt.

Cicero, 63 BC

Oct 25, 2008

Forbes: Philip Fisher as growth investor and pioneer in qualitative analysis

[Philip] Fisher stood out as one of the first money managers to focus on qualitative factors instead of quantitative ones. He examined factors that were difficult to measure through ratios and other mathematical formulations: the quality of management, the potential for future long-term sales growth and the firm's competitive edge.

Although Fisher focused on the qualitative characteristics of a company, he was first and foremost a growth stock investor. He felt the greatest investment returns did not come from the purchase of stocks that were undervalued, since a stock that is undervalued by as much as 50% would only double in price to reach fair market value.

Instead, he sought much higher returns from those companies that could achieve growth in sales and profits greater than the overall market over a long period of time. Furthermore, Fisher did not seek companies showing promise of short-term growth due to cyclical events or one-time factors. He felt that the timing was too risky and the promised returns too small.

~ Forbes, "Ken Fisher's Dad's Lucky 13," October 20, 2008, by Wayne A. Thorpe

Oct 21, 2008

Saint Augustine on government and criminality

Remove justice, and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a large scale? What are criminal gangs but petty kingdoms? A gang is a group of men under the command of a leader, bound by a compact of association, in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention.

~ Saint Augustine of Hippo in The City of God against the Pagans, in th early 5th century

Oct 15, 2008

Alan Greenspan on the gold standard, savings and inflation

In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation.

~ Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve Chairman (1987-2006), in 1966

Oct 13, 2008

Patrick Henry on government accountability

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.

~Patrick Henry

Oct 6, 2008

Henry Waxman's grilling of Lehman's Richard Fuld

You made all this money by taking risks with other people's money. The system worked for you, but it didn't seem to work for the rest of the country and the taxpayers, who now have to pay $700 billion to bail out our economy.

~ Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "Lehman sought millions for execs while seeking aid," AP, October 6, 2008

Phil and Kevin Duffy on speculation

False prophets lead to true losses.

~ Philip Duffy and Kevin Duffy (joint effort), October 6, 2008

Anonymous banker on the Community Reinvestment Act

I am an expert in the Community Reinvestment Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act and related Fair Lending laws. I have been consulting in this specializeed compliance area for 14 years and have worked with hundreds of banks and some community organizations as well. There is a good deal of truth to the allegation that the CRA did contribute to the current financial crisis . . . . There is much good to be said about the CRA, but as the old saying goes, "The road to hell can be paved with good intentions." While the CRA has been around for more than 30 years, it was the changes made in 1995 under the Clinton administration that set the ball in motion for the pressurs that created market premiums for LMI ["low- to moderate-income, or sub-prime] mortgages. In 1995 for the first time, the CRA specified quantitative performance standards specifically related to LMI mortgages. It took 7 or 8 years for the cumulative effect to become too big to ignore.

About 50% of the sub-prime mortgages originated can be ascribed to banks and their affiliates (which itself is still very substantial). Under CRA banks receive credit [by the Fed and other regulators, for making bad loans] not only for loans they originated, but loans they purchase as well. This resulted in a premium value for mortgages to low- and moderate-income [i.e., sub-prime] borrowers . . . . The premium was reflected in the secondary market for these loans [i.e., Fannie and Freddie's operations] I personally saw transactions between banks in which these mortgages were sold and purchased at huge premiums that were driven by the "CRA value" of the credits [i.e., browny points with Fed regulators] for the loan purchaser. I vividly remember one portfolio transaction in which the purchasing bank paid a premium of $15000 per mortgage to effect a transaction just before year end. Some unscrupulous firms went around marketing "CRA mortages" . . . touting the mortgages to borrowers as highly attractive because of the CRA-angle. Lehman Bros. was one of the most acive players in the secondary market purchasing these loans. The reality is that the regulatory pressure exerted by CRA was a factor that should not be ignored. Ironically, at the same time, many banks did offer discounted rates to LMI borrowers that did benefit them. Not all sub-prime loans took advantage of borrower ignorance.

~ Anonymous banker, "A Banker on the Evils of the Community Reinvestment Act," Blog, September 29, 2008

Martin Masse: Karl Marx would be proud of the bailouts

In his Communist Manifesto, published in 1848, Karl Marx proposed 10 measures to be implemented after the proletariat takes power, with the aim of centralizing all instruments of production in the hands of the state. Proposal Number Five was to bring about the “centralization of credit in the banks of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.”

If he were to rise from the dead today, Marx might be delighted to discover that most economists and financial commentators, including many who claim to favour the free market, agree with him.Indeed, analysts at the Heritage and Cato Institute, and commentators in The Wall Street Journal and on this very page, have made declarations in favour of the massive “injection of liquidities” engineered by central banks in recent months, the government takeover of giant financial institutions, as well as the still stalled US$700-billion bailout package. Some of the same voices were calling for similar interventions following the burst of the dot-com bubble in 2001.

“Whatever happened to the modern followers of my free-market opponents?” Marx would likely wonder.

~ Martin Masse, "Bailout marks Karl Marx's comeback," Financial Post, September 29, 2008

Marketwatch on $700 billion bailout package: plenty of perks for taxpayers, savers, and small business owners

U.S. taxpayers, small-business owners and savers may find plenty to cheer about in the final version of the financial-rescue plan, which goes beyond injecting liquidity into the nation's financial markets to offer tax and other perks to Main Street as well.

~ MarketWatch, "Money for Main Street; There's plenty of perks for taxpayers, savers in final rescue plan," October 3, 2008

Keynes on government deficits and taxation

It is common to speak as though, when a Government pays its way by inflation, the people of the country avoid taxation. We have seen that this is not so. What is raised by printing notes is just as much taken from the public as is a beer-duty or an income-tax. What a Government spends the public pay for. There is no such thing as an uncovered deficit.

~ John Maynard Keynes, famous British economist, in his Tract on Monetary Reform published in 1923

Oct 5, 2008

Motley Fool's Jim Mueller on Conference Board bearish sentiment

An August New York Times article pointed out that bearish sentiment, as measured by the Conference Board, had hit an all-time high. Fully 55% of the people questioned in July expect the stock market to decline over the next 12 months.

Why is this important today? Because each time bearish sentiment has exceeded 35% over the last 21 years, the market has confounded that sentiment by gaining ground over the following year, at an average pace of 20.5%.

~ Jim Mueller, "Buffett Says It's Time to "Be Greedy," The Motley Fool, October 1, 2008

William Jennings Bryan on destiny

Destiny is not a matter of chance - it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for - it is a thing to be achieved.

~ William Jennings Bryan

Nicholas Falletta on paradox

A paradox is truth standing on its head to attract attention.

~ Nicholas Falletta, author of The Paradoxicon

Mark Twain on tolerance

If the man doesn't believe as we do, we say that he is a crank, and that settles it. It does nowadays, because now we can't burn him.

~ Mark Twain

Shakespeare on truth

It is a fool's prerogative to utter truths that no one else will speak.

~ William Shakespeare

Max Planck on acceptance of the truth

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

~ Max Planck, German physicist and founder of the quantum theory

Niels Bohr on paradox and progress

How wonderful that we have met with paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.

~ Niels Bohr, Danish physicist and Nobel Prize winner, 1922

Admiral Leahy on the feasibility of the atomic bomb

The (atomic) bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.

~ Admiral William Leahy, just before the atom bomb was first detonated

Oct 4, 2008

Friedrich A. Hayek on liberalism and conservatism

There is one point of phraseology which I ought to explain here (in Hayek's book, The Road to Serfdom) the term "liberal" in the original, 19th-century sense in which it is still current in Britain. In current American usage it often means very nearly the opposite of this. It has been a part of the camouflage of leftish movements in this country, helped by the muddleheadedness of many who really believe in liberty, that "liberal" has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control. I am still puzzled why those in the United States who truly believe in liberty should not only have allowed the left to appropriate this almost indispensible term but should even have assisted by beginning to use it themselves as a term of approbrium. This seems to be particularly regrettable because of the consequent tendency of many true liberals to describe themselves as conservatives.

It is true, of course, that in the struggle of the believers in the all-powerful state the true liberal must sometimes make common cause with the conservative, and in some circumstances, as in contemporary Britain, he has hardly any other way of working for his ideals. But true liberalism is still distinct from conservatism, and there is danger in the two being confused. Conservatism, though a necessary element in any stable society, is not a social program; in its paternalistic, nationalistic, and power-adoring tendencies it is often closer to socialism than true liberalism; and with its tradionalistic, anti-intellectual, and often mystical propensities it will never, except in short periods of disallusionment, appeal to the young and all those others who believe that some changes are desireable if this world is to become a better place. A conservative movement, by its nature, is bound to be a defender of established privilege and to lean on the power of government for the protection of privilege. The essence of the liberal position, however, is the denial of all privilege, if privilege is understood in its proper and original meaning of the state granting and protecting rights to some which are not available on equal terms to others.

~ Friedrich A. Hayek, 1974 Co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, in the Forward to The Road to Serfdom, Page ix

Oct 3, 2008

Ken Heebner when asked if the latest government actions were specifically designed to bail out Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley

I wouldn't use the words bail out. These are healthy companies. I'd call what the government did protection from short sellers.

They are bastions of financial strength. They have no problems with their balance sheets, and Morgan Stanley just reported a quarterly profit of more than $1 billion. Yet early in the day (of September 18), Morgan Stanley's stock got as low as $11.70.

~ Ken Heebner, as appeared on CNBC, September 18, 2008

Ken Heebner turns bullish on financial stocks

For now, at least, ace fund manager Ken Heebner has turned bullish on financial stocks. At the same time, Heebner, who has been running mutual funds for more than 30 years and is known for his uncanny ability to measure the pulse of the market, has dramatically pared back his funds' commitment to commodity-related stocks.

Heebner, who trades feverishly, says he now has more than 30% of the assets of his flagship CGM Focus fund in financials and only about 10% in commodity stocks. As of June 30, according to Morningstar, Focus (symbol CGMFX) had 86% of its assets in energy and industrial-materials stocks and nothing in financials.

Heebner revealed his moves on September 19, as stocks rallied furiously in response to an array of government actions designed to end a crisis in global financial markets.

~, "Ken Heebner Is Bullish on Bank Stocks," October 3, 2008, by Manuel Shiffres

Nancy Pelosi on the $700 billion bailout bill, round 2

Passing this legislation is the beginning of our work to protect the American future.

~ Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader, speech before the House, October 3, 2008

Barbara Tuchman on folly in government

Personal self-interest belongs to every time and becomes folly when it dominates government.

~ Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly, Page 126. Barbara Tuchman was a distinguished American historian of the 20th Century. The March of Folly's theme is the pursuit of policy contray to self-interest using examples from the Battle of Troy, the Renaissance popes, the British loss of North America and ultimately America betraying herself in Vietnam.

Oct 2, 2008

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil on bailout bill

Doesn't this seem like lunacy to you? If they pass this thing, it's awful what the consequences are going to be in terms of an ongoing federal relationship that doesn't need to exist with the institutions. Are we going to insist on having a federal representative on boards of directors to protect our investment? We have no capacity in the federal government and it's not possible to create a capacity to manage a $700 billion property portfolio, It's crazy. It's like we've lost our moorings.

~ Paul O'Neil, former Treasury Secretary

Oct 1, 2008

Warren Buffett on Paulson's $700 billion bailout

The market could not have, in my view, taken another week like what was developing last week.

It's everybody's problem. A collapse of the kind of institutions that were threatened last week would have caused industry, retail and everything else to grind close to a halt. Thank heavens that Paulson had the imagination to step up. [This plan] is absolutely necessary to avoid going over the precipice.

~ Warren Buffett, as appeared on CNBC, September 24, 2008

Joshua Williamson on the Fed move to pump another $30 billion into global markets

This is another weapon in the arsenal of governments aimed at boosting confidence. Hopefully it will help market sentiment, stop banks from hoarding cash and start greasing the wheels of the financial economy.

~ Joshua Williamson, senior strategist at TD Securities, "U.S. stock futures higher on Buffett's Goldman buy," MarketWatch, September 24, 2008

(This morning the central bank added $30 billion to the flood of dollars it is pumping into global markets. The new funds came in the form of new currency-swap agreements with central banks in Australia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The agreements allow those banks to trade their currencies for dollars.)

Warren Buffett on his decision to invest $5 billion in Goldman Sachs

In this case, there's no better firm on Wall Street. The price was right, the terms were right, the people were right and I decided to write a check.

~ Warren Buffett, as appeared on CNBC, September 24, 2008

(Buffett is investing $5 billion in convertible preferred stock, entitling him to warrants on an additional $5 billion in stock at a strike price of $115 per share. Shares of Goldman jumped $3.39, or 2.7%, to $128.44 on the news.)

Ben Bernanke on Paulson's proposed $700 billion bailout

I believe if the credit markets are not functioning, that jobs will be lost, the unemployment rate will rise, more houses will be foreclosed upon, GDP will contract, that the economy will just not be able to recover. My interest is solely for the strength and recovery of the U.S. economy.

~ Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, speaking before Senate Banking Committee, September 23, 2008

Ron Paul on bailouts and the futility of propping up prices

If we don't give dictatorial powers to the Treasury Secretary "the stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet." Left unsaid, naturally, is that with the bailout and all the money and credit that must be produced out of thin air to fund it, the value of your retirement account will drop anyway, because the value of the dollar will suffer a precipitous decline. As for home prices, they are obviously much too high, and supply and demand cannot equilibrate if government insists on propping them up.

It's the same destructive strategy that government tried during the Great Depression: prop up prices at all costs. The Depression went on for over a decade. On the other hand, when liquidation was allowed to occur in the equally devastating downturn of 1921, the economy recovered within less than a year.

~ Congressman Ron Paul, "The Austrian School and the Meltdown,", September 26, 2008

Ron Paul on the financial meltdown

The financial meltdown the economists of the Austrian School predicted has arrived.

We are in this crisis because of an excess of artificially created credit at the hands of the Federal Reserve System. The solution being proposed? More artificial credit by the Federal Reserve. No liquidation of bad debt and malinvestment is to be allowed. By doing more of the same, we will only continue and intensify the distortions in our economy – all the capital misallocation, all the malinvestment – and prevent the market's attempt to re-establish rational pricing of houses and other assets.

~ Congressman Ron Paul, "The Austrian School and the Meltdown,", September 26, 2008

Sep 30, 2008

Barney Frank on how nobody foresaw the credit crisis

In 2003, nobody that I knew of foresaw the crisis of subprime lending, and that is what caused this problem.

~ Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, "Barney Frank feeling heat in crisis,", September 30, 2008

Lew Rockwell on the mainstream media's pro-bailout hysteria

The MSM have shown their despicable true colors in their bailout hysteria, and denunciation of the taxpayers for any resistance to being looted. On Morning Joe, they tout Fedista Andrea Mitchell as an independent journalist, never mentioning that her husband is Alan Greenspan. Greenspan was the Fed chairman who - with his partner in crime Bush - turned on the monetary hydrant after 9/11, to prevent he stock market from falling. Instead, they created the greatest bubble in history, and the current bust, which is correcting the excesses of the bubble. So in an attempt to keep the stock market and housing prices from falling, and plutocrats from losing their silk shirt, Bernanke is hyperinflating. He can't actually keep prices from falling, except in nominal terms, but he can wreck the world economy for a long period of time, and make us all far poorer. But instead of asking any questions, media shills like those on Morning Joe are backing the state-Wall Street combine, against the rest of us.

~ Lew Rockwell, "MSNBC's 'Morning Bailout'," Blog, September 30, 2008

Lew Rockwell on the $700 billion bailout bill going down to defeat in the House

Yesterday was one of the worst days in decades for the power elite. It was one of the best for liberty.

~ Lew Rockwell, "The (Near) Death of the State,", September 30, 2008

Sep 29, 2008

Henry Ford on our banking and monetary system

It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.

~ Henry Ford

Sep 27, 2008

Gerald Epstein on Ronald Reagan's role in setting up the "Plunge Protection Team"

By March of the following year [1988], President Reagan, an avowed free marketeer, issued the rather curious Executive Order 12631. This Executive Order set up the Working Group on Financial Markets. The Working Group was comprised of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairman of the Fed, the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

~ Gerald A. Epstein, Financialization and the World Economy (2006), p. 136

Alan Greenspan's response to the '87 Crash

The Federal Reserve, consistent with its responsibilities as the nation's central banker, affirmed today its readiness to serve as a source of liquidity to support the economic and financial system.

~ Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman, October 19, 1987

(On October 19, the Fed reversed their September 4 rate hike, lowering the Fed funds rate from 7.25% to 6.88% in an emergency inter-meeting move.)

Marc Faber on the U.S. dollar

My view is everything is bad in the United States, but elsewhere it's even worse. So relative to the rest of the world, also based on the price level, I think that the U.S. dollar is actually quite attractive.

~ Marc Faber, Bloomberg TV, September 26, 2008

Sep 26, 2008

H.G. Wells on history

History is a race between education and catastrophe.

~ H.G. Wells

Friedrich Hayek on credit expansion to combat the Great Depression (1932)

Instead of furthering the inevitable liquidation of the maladjustments brought about by the boom during the last three years, all conceivable means have been used to prevent that readjustment from taking place; and one of these means, which has been repeatedly tried though without success, from the earliest to the most recent stages of depression, has been this deliberate policy of credit expansion….

To combat the depression by a forced credit expansion is to attempt to cure the evil by the very means which brought it about; because we are suffering from a misdirection of production, we want to create further misdirection – a procedure that can only lead to a much more severe crisis as soon as the credit expansion comes to an end…. It is probably to this experiment, together with the attempts to prevent liquidation once the crisis had come, that we owe the exceptional severity and duration of the depression.

~ Friedrich Hayek, Prices and Production and Other Works (1932)

Marc Faber on the magnitude of the credit crisis

It's not the problem that home prices have gone down. The problem is excessive leverage. And somewhere, somehow the U.S. has to try to bring down the excess leverage that exists in the system, that incidentally was built over the last 7 to 15 years under Fed chairman Mr. Greenspan and then also under Mr. Bernanke. So now they try to solve the problem by having this credit bubble actually extended. And I think the $700 billion dollars will be like a drop in the bucket because the total credit market in the U.S. is something close to $60 trillion dollars. Then you have the CDS market - credit default swap - of around $62 trillion dollars. And then you have the whole derivatives worldwide, worth about notional $1,300 trillion dollars. So the $700 billion is really nothing and the Treasury's giving out this figure when actually the end figure may be $5 trillion dollars.

~ Marc Faber, Bloomberg TV, September 26, 2008

Sep 25, 2008

T. Boone Pickens on the $700 billion Paulson bailout plan

Q: The secretary of the treasury wants all the money up front. The government wants safeguards on it. They want to make sure there's protection for taxpayers. They want to limit executive compensation. Are you on board with all that?

A: I'm ready to go. I'd give [Treasury Secretary Henry] Paulson the money and tell him get it fixed.

Q: You believe that his plan will work?

A: I think it will work, yes. But I think it needs to work quickly. I think you've got to move on with it. I liked Warren Buffett's play into Goldman Sachs.

Q: Five billion dollars the other day.

A: That's right. That showed good confidence and all. So that's another leadership opportunity.

~ T. Boone Pickens, "Pickens: Natural gas, Warren Buffett could ease nation's woes,", September 25, 2008

Jack Welch on the economy and market sentiment

Q: What do you think of analysts who predict we'll be in recession in six months?
A: They should find another line of work.

Q: Do you think sentiment is too bullish?
A: I'm not here as a market timer. I'm hear to tell you this economy's in one helluva good shape.

~ Jack Welch, interview on CNBC, January 19, 2007

Sep 24, 2008

Henry Paulson on the $700 billion financial bailout and expanded powers at Treasury

I'm not looking for extraordinary power.

~ Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary, House Panel Q&A, September 24, 2008

Thomas Jefferson on centralized government

When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.

~ Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Charles Hammond (1821)

Charles Dumas on Warren Buffett's $5 billion convertible preferred investment in Goldman Sachs

Buffett's move into Goldman supports our view that stocks finally offer good value. This is more powerful than Paulson's bazooka: people who think the U.S. needs a renewed free flow of credit are part of the problem, not the solution.

~ Charles Dumas, analyst at Lombard Street Research in London, "U.S. stock futures higher on Buffett's Goldman buy," MarketWatch, September 24, 2008

Sep 23, 2008

Vladimir Putin on the U.S. printing press as engine of the global economy

We all need to think about changing the architecture of internationalfinances and diversifying risks. The whole world economy cannot depend onone money-printing machine.

~ Vladimir Putin, Russian Prime Minister, Itar-Tass, September 20, 2008

Sep 22, 2008

John Jensen on excess

The trouble with life in the fast lane is that you get to the other end in an awful hurry.

~ John Jensen

Rudyard Kipling on overwork

Too much work and too much energy kill a man just as effectively as too much assorted vice or too much drink.

~ Rudyard Kipling

Somerset Maugham on moderation and excess

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

~ Somerset Maugham

George Soros on the "too big to fail" banking doctrine

One of the reasons banking is getting so concentrated is because everyone wants to get to the point where they are too big to fail. I don’t think that is such a wonderful thing.

It should shrink. It has really got overblown. The size of the financial industry is out of proportion to the rest of the economy. It has been growing excessively over a long period, ending in this super-bubble of the last 25 years. I think this is the end of that era.

~ George Soros, "How to stop the next bubble," Prospect, July 2008

Nassim Taleb on on survival of the least fit and their vulnerability to the rare event

Recall that someone with only casual knowledge about the problem of randomness would believe that an animal is at the maximum fitness for the conditions of its time. This is not what evolution means; on average, animals will be fit, but not every single one of them, and not at all times. Just as an animal could have survived because its sample path was lucky, the "best" operators in a given business can come from a subset of operators who survived because of over-fitness to a sample path - a sample path that was free of the evolutionary rare event. One vicious attribute is that the longer these animals can go without encountering the rare event, the more vulnerable they will be to it.

~ Nassim Taleb, Fooled by Randomness, 2nd Edition, p. 92

Nassim Taleb on survival of the least fit traders

We tend to think that traders were successful because they are good. Perhaps we have turned causality on its head; we consider them good just because they make money. One can make money in the financial markets totally of out randomness.

Both Carlos (the economist) and John (the quant/statistician) belong to a class of people who benefited from a market cycle. It was not merely because they were involved in the right markets. It was because they had a bent in their style that closely fitted the properties of the rallies experienced in their market during the episode. They were dip buyers. That happened, in hindsight, to be the trait that was the most desirable between 1992 and the summer of 1998 in the specific markets in which the two men specialized. Most of those who happened to have that specific trait, over the course of that segment of history, dominated the market. Their score was higher and they replaced people who, perhaps, were better traders.

~ Nassim Taleb, Fooled by Randomness, 2nd Edition, pp. 89-90

Charles Darwin on "survival of the fittest"

Can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive) that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others would have the best chance of surviving and procreating their kind? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed. This preservation of favourable individual differences and variations, and the destruction of those which are injurious, I have called Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest.

~ Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (1859)

Nassim Taleb on evolution and continuous progress

One must be blind or foolish to reject the theories of Darwinian self-selection. However, the simplicity of the concept has drawn segments of amateurs (as well as a few professional scientists) into blindly believing in continuous and infallible Darwinism in all fields, which includes economics.

... Owing to the abrupt rare events, we do not live in a world where things "converge" continuously towards betterment. Nor do things in life move continuously at all.

~ Nassim Taleb, Fooled By Randomness, 2nd Edition, pp. 90-91

Sep 19, 2008

Jim Chanos on Wall Street's twisted version of capitalism

We seem to have capitalism on the upside and socialism on the downside. That's a pretty heady brew for country that holds itself out as a free market paragon.

~ Jim Chanos, "Short Sellers Under Fire in U.S., U.K. After Lehman, AIG Fall," Bloomberg, September 19, 2008, by Michael Tsang

Sep 18, 2008

Bill Clinton on the bailouts of Bear Stearns, Fannie, Freddie, and AIG

I think the argument that we shouldn't do it because the taxpayers don't owe anything to Wall Street is rather short-sighted. The people that are getting the shaft out here are the home-owners, the people that live in their neighborhood whose home value is going down, the people who are losing their jobs. In other words, this is not about bailing out Wall Street. This is about restoring confidence in America.

I don't think there is any choice but for us to have the government to sit down with the private sector and all the stakeholders and do more. And I think the longer you wait, ironically, the more you have to do and the more money you have to spend. So in a funny way the people who are most against market intervention wind up having to preside over the biggest market intervention that costs the most money because we all know that markets without disclosure, without capital requirements, without market requirements - if you don't have these kinds of things to keep the market in tow - they all tend to unsustainable extremes.

~ Bill Clinton, interview with Maria Bartiromo, CNBC, September 19, 2008

Sep 16, 2008

Leonard Read on government power

If there be criminals among us, what is to keep them from gaining and using the power of government?

~ Leonard E. Read

Chris Rock on stupidity

I don't get high, but sometimes I wish I did. That way, when I messed up in life I would have an excuse. But right now there's no rehab for stupidity.

~ Chris Rock

William Gaddis on stupidity

Stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance.

~ William Gaddis

Sep 15, 2008

Rich Karlgaard: "It is not clear that we are in a recession" (2008)

The U.S. economy is in better shape than the pundits, polls, and press say it is. It is not clear that we are in a recession. The Fed is on the case, bargain hunters like Warren Buffett are moving in, signalling a bottom. Small business is curiously robust despite the credit crunch. Employment is still pretty strong. Every commercial flight I've been on this year has been oversold. But there is a deeper cause of economic anxiety and it is the underlying rate of economic change. That rate is accelerating. Companies that are leaders in their industries - and this applies to leaders in all industries - are falling out of leadership faster than before. New and disruptive companies are popping up everywhere, like jaguars amid elephants.

~ Rich Karlgaard, Forbes Video, September 15, 2008

Leonard Read on "worrycrats"

Worrycrats, as I call them, are a special breed of totalitarian bureaucrats who spawn rapidly as society is socialized. These people concern themselves with our health, education, welfare, auto safety, drug intake, diet, and what have you. Worrycrats today outnumber any other professionals in history, so rapidly have they proliferated.

~ Leonard E. Read, The Freeman (April 1971)

Sep 14, 2008

Bethany McLean on Henry Paulson's intention not to go into politics

[Henry] Paulson says that he "wouldn't put a time limit" on his tenure at Goldman [Sachs], and that he has no intention of following in the Washington-bound footsteps of former Goldman CEOs like Bob Rubin, Steve Friedman, and [Jon] Corzine.

~ Bethany McLean, "Inside The Money Machine," Fortune, September 6, 2004

Vince Farrell recommends AIG and Bank of America on Nightly Business Report (2007)

Gharib: Let's go over your list of stock recommendations that you have for us tonight. At the top of your list you have AIG, the insurance company. Why do you like it?

Farrell: AIG had an analyst meeting last week in which they reported a very good quarter. And keep in mind, half their business is life insurance. We think of it as property casualty, but it is life insurance as well. They announced an $8 billion share repurchase and said under normal circumstances they would increase the dividend 20 percent a year. That is an extraordinary statement by management that it is very optimistic about the outlook for the next couple of years.

Gharib: Bank of America is another one of your stock picks. What is the attraction?

Farrell: They had an analyst meeting within the past week and the chairman said they'll be able to grow earnings organically, meaning from the businesses they have, no acquisitions, 10 percent a year and the stock trades at only 10 times earnings. The market is at 15 times earnings and the dividend yield on Bank America is almost 4.5 percent and the yield on the 10-year Treasury is just above 4.5, so you get a Treasury bond yield and the opportunity for growth at the same time.

~ Vince Farrell, managing director, Scotsman Capital Management, interview with Susie Gharib on the Nightly Business Report, March 9, 2007

Peter Bernstein on the perfect financial storm

Nothing like this has ever happened before. There have been credit crunches and housing crises and dollar crises, but having all the chickens coming home to roost at the same time and interacting with one another is unique. We have historical perspective on the parts, but not the whole, and that makes things both interesting and scary.

~ Peter Bernstein, author of risk management classic, Against the Gods, "Retirement: Safety First," Barron's, September 15, 2008

Peter Bernstein on inflation complacency in 1958

In 1958, I'd been in the business for seven years when, for the first time in history, bonds yielded more than stocks. My associates said, 'It's an anomaly, don't worry, it will be reversed.' It's 50 years later, and I'm still waiting.

~ Richard Bernstein, Founder, Peter L. Bernstein Inc., "Retirement: Safety First," Barron's, September 15, 2008