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Current Topic: Business

NFP: -533,000 | The Big Picture
Topic: Business 9:23 am EST, Dec  5, 2008

Worst job loss in 34 years.

NFP: -533,000 | The Big Picture

New Symantec Report Reveals Booming Underground Economy
Topic: Business 9:58 am EST, Dec  3, 2008

The report details an online underground economy that has matured into an efficient, global marketplace in which stolen goods and fraud-related services are regularly bought and sold, and where the estimated value of goods offered by individual traders is measured in millions of dollars. The report is derived from data gathered by Symantec’s Security Technology and Response (STAR) organization, from underground economy servers between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008.

The potential value of total advertised goods observed by Symantec was more than $276 million for the reporting period. This value was determined using the advertised prices of the goods and services and measured how much advertisers would make if they liquidated their inventory.

From a year ago:

This paper studies an active underground economy which specializes in the commoditization of activities such as credit card fraud, identity theft, spamming, phishing, online credential theft, and the sale of compromised hosts. Using a seven month trace of logs collected from an active underground market operating on public Internet chat networks, we measure how the shift from “hacking for fun” to “hacking for profit” has given birth to a societal substrate mature enough to steal wealth into the millions of dollars in less than one year.

New Symantec Report Reveals Booming Underground Economy

Iceland Meltdown
Topic: Business 8:26 am EST, Dec  2, 2008

About half of Icelanders aged between 18 and 24 are considering leaving the country, Reykjavik-based newspaper Morgunbladid said, citing a survey of 1,117 people between Oct. 27 and Oct. 29.

“Tens of thousands” will depart, estimated Jesper Christensen, chief analyst at Danske Bank A/S, the biggest lender in neighboring Denmark.

Iceland Meltdown

RE: Show Of Hands
Topic: Business 4:56 pm EST, Nov 23, 2008

American cars are perceived to be not as reliable as their Asian counterparts and not as refined as their European competitors.

The former reputation might not be well deserved. I have a Ford still on the road after 150k and I was told it would be dead by now. Fixing it up is still cheaper than replacing it and I think it has a long way to go. I think people tend to trash their car's interior or paint long before the Engines become impossible to maintain. However, you don't build a reputation as a maker of reliable vehicles until people are driving vehicles that you made long after their supposed shelf life, and it takes a long time to establish such a reputation.

As for the later issue, driving in Europe/Japan and the US is very different. Europeans drive smaller cars around old cities. Long road trips are not fathomable on the scale you see in the US without multiple border crossings and even then, why not take the train? (Same is true for Japan.) A typical American car would be worse than useless in a European city. The European cars that tend to make it over here are luxury vehicles that are prized for their refinement rather than their general utility. Normal Europeans do not drive Ferraris or BMW 7 series. I don't think the big three really compete with BMW/Mercedes/Lexus, and we have precious few brands that hold a candle to European super cars, principally the Corvette, which does have the advantage of being accessible to the average guy and not designed primarily for purchase by dukes and lords.

What we do well is allowing people to express themselves with their vehicles. Big Hemis, Redneck pickup trucks, bling Escalades, fun Jeeps, these are cars that are worn more than driven. Toyota Corollas hardly have the same personality, although Toyota seems to have figured this out. Whether you want an American car or an Asian car remains mostly a question of whether you want a car that is fun or practical.

I do think the government, particularly California, has fucked both electric vehicles and diesel by pushing the technologies too hard, although both seem to be catching up and I think both make a lot of sense technically.

I think, basically, the big three were not set up financially to see a massive demand collapse, and that is exactly what happened. It is happening across the board. It is certainly the case that the Japanese government, near the end of its massive financial crisis, has thrown money at it's auto makers. It is also the case that an abrupt bankruptcy of the big three would have significant systemic effects in the economy. This is a great way to kick off having large groups of homeless unemployed roaming the country for our Great Depression 2.0. I understand the case for these bailouts WAY better than I understand the case for TARP. So I'm not too troubled by the prospect of giving them loans. There may be a time/place to take them off life support, but this isn't it.

RE: Show Of Hands

naked capitalism: "Goldman Sachs ready to hand out £7bn salary and bonus package... after its £6bn bail-out"
Topic: Business 7:51 am EST, Nov  3, 2008

Each of the firm's 443 partners is on course to pocket an average Christmas bonus of more than £3million.

The size of the pay pool comfortably dwarfs the £6.1billion lifeline which the U.S. government is throwing to Goldman as part of its £430billion bail-out.

naked capitalism: "Goldman Sachs ready to hand out £7bn salary and bonus package... after its £6bn bail-out"

10% of Bailout going to bonuses...
Topic: Business 10:02 pm EDT, Oct 26, 2008

What he said:

This is the cat's ass. I absolutely love the fact that we are bailing out these companies and they are still doing the bonuses...

My fav -- "At one point last week the Morgan Stanley $10.7bn pay pot for the year to date was greater than the entire stock market value of the business. In effect, staff, on receiving their remuneration, could club together and buy the bank."


10% of Bailout going to bonuses...

Andrew Lahde bows out in style
Topic: Business 8:04 am EDT, Oct 23, 2008

The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.

Fuck you, Fuck you, Fuck you, You're cool... Fuck you, I'm out.

Andrew Lahde bows out in style

The Weekend Interview -
Topic: Business 9:19 am EDT, Oct 19, 2008

This is not due to a lack of money available to lend, Ms. Schwartz says, but to a lack of faith in the ability of borrowers to repay their debts. "The Fed," she argues, "has gone about as if the problem is a shortage of liquidity. That is not the basic problem. The basic problem for the markets is that [uncertainty] that the balance sheets of financial firms are credible."


"They're toxic because you cannot sell them, you don't know what they're worth, your balance sheet is not credible and the whole market freezes up. We don't know whom to lend to because we don't know who is sound. So if you could get rid of them, that would be an improvement." The only way to "get rid of them" is to sell them, which is why Ms. Schwartz thought that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's original proposal to buy these assets from the banks was "a step in the right direction."

The problem with that idea was, and is, how to price "toxic" assets that nobody wants. And lurking beneath that problem is another, stickier problem: If they are priced at current market levels, selling them would be a recipe for instant insolvency at many institutions. The fears that are locking up the credit markets would be realized, and a number of banks would probably fail.

Ms. Schwartz won't say so, but this is the dirty little secret that led Secretary Paulson to shift from buying bank assets to recapitalizing them directly, as the Treasury did this week. But in doing so, he's shifted from trying to save the banking system to trying to save banks. These are not, Ms. Schwartz argues, the same thing. In fact, by keeping otherwise insolvent banks afloat, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury have actually prolonged the crisis. "They should not be recapitalizing firms that should be shut down."

Paulson's shift in strategy received a lot of praise. Here is Ritholtz arguing for the shift pre-shift. But, apparently there are critics out there.

The Weekend Interview -

Op-Ed Contributor - Buy American. I Am. -
Topic: Business 10:03 am EDT, Oct 17, 2008


Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.

Op-Ed Contributor - Buy American. I Am. -

RE: Question of the Day
Topic: Business 9:20 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2008

bucy wrote:

Decius wrote:
When is Google Finance going to flip their favico?

Would the new icon be:
a. A graph trending down
b. A stock broker jumping through a 50th story window
c. A mob of congressional committee members lynching Richard Fuld

That would be door number C.

RE: Question of the Day

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