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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

RE: Memo from Work
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:32 pm EST, Nov 24, 2008

Acidus wrote:
Ran across an old document today at work. When SPI was purchased by HP a little over a year ago my boss had me compose a memo about why we needed completely unfiltered internet access. HP IT doesn't like us very much...

Nice writeup.

The main problem with unfiltered/unproxied access is logging/accountability. Passive URL monitoring via the IDS devices takes care of web logging and as long as the hosts are static/reserved DHCP and authenticated, there's your accountability too. Since you won't be getting authenticated proxy logs, you'll have to correlate auth and access logs.

It's a bit more work to accommodate the "problem children" but at the end of the day all the regulatory nuts and bolts are still effectively intact with that sort of monitoring system.

RE: Memo from Work


RE: You Might Want To Think About Stopping Your Mortgage Payments and Reducing Your Income
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:26 pm EST, Nov 19, 2008

janelane wrote:

Decius wrote:

Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital, predicts that many homeowners who have little or no equity will stop paying their mortgage and then reduce their income to get the biggest payment cut possible. They could stop working overtime or, if two spouses work, one could quit. After the modification, they could try to boost their income again.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Schiff says. "People are going to feel like complete morons if they don't participate. The people getting punished are the ones who never made an irresponsible decision to buy a house they couldn't afford."

You can say that again.

This is a seriously asinine proposition. Quit a job? In this economy? Reduce your income and go into foreclosure on purpose?

We don't need to compound our financial woes by suggesting that responsible people turn irresponsible, or that they'll be "punished" for fulfilling their debt obligations on their rationally structured mortgage loans.

-janelane, spending 14%

BTW, Schiff is not advocating this loan restructuring program. The quote is ambiguous. Just wanted to make sure that got cleared up.

RE: You Might Want To Think About Stopping Your Mortgage Payments and Reducing Your Income


RE: Changes at Change.gov
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:42 pm EST, Nov 10, 2008

Decius wrote:
One agenda item that remains up there is Obama's community service plan, which currently says:

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.

Previously this text said something else entirely:

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.

That bit of bald faced authoritarianism made a lot of people absolutely furious, myself included. If we have a bunch of people waltzing into the whitehouse who do not appreciate the full implications of the use of the word "require" by a policy maker we are in very serious trouble.

The question of exactly what Obama's agenda actually is has been somewhat difficult to nail down. If Change.gov was intended to help clarify things it is a complete failure at this point.

Mankiw scooped this as well as quoting a dissection of Kennedy's "ask not" speech.

http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2008/11/new-draft.html

I think people are going to get "change" alright.

RE: Changes at Change.gov


Banks Beneficiary of Latest Bush Corporafornication
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:31 pm EDT, Oct 26, 2008

The CorporaWhorehouse at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue keeps doling out the goodies. The latest surprise came from a bump in the interest paid to banks by the Federal Reserve Bank. Before the Wall Street bailout bill, banks got no, as in zero, interest on excess reserve balances held by the Fed.

Starting October 9, the Fed began paying interest on excess balances using a formula. Two weeks later they improved the formula, netting banks and additional .4% return, courtesy of Uncle Sam.

Did your bank call and raise your savings rate or interest checking account by a corresponding amount? I didn't think so. Many plan to use the recent cash infusion to buy other banks, instead of loaning it out (the intent of the injection).

Banks Beneficiary of Latest Bush Corporafornication


Government Isn't God: FDIC Sticks Banks With Bad Loans and Sticks Borrowers With Subprime Junk
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:28 pm EDT, Oct 23, 2008

Related to the article you linked about the death of Libertarianism. Counterpoint.

The point being that regulators do not have a magic wand that makes their beliefs 100% accurate. But, the problem is that regulators will direct regulation in the direction of what they believe and not, "Opposing Views". Thus, any crashes under heavy regulation become greater, because regulators have driven ALL market participants in that direction.

Regulators aren't gods. As we learn today in a WSJ report even the FDIC got caught up in the sub prime madness:

It turns out that the U.S. government itself was one of the lenders giving out high-interest, subprime mortgages, some of them predatory, according to government documents filed in federal court.

The unusual situation, which is still bedeviling bank regulators, stems from the 2001 seizure by federal officials of Superior Bank FSB, then a national subprime lender based in Hinsdale, Ill. Rather than immediately shuttering or selling Superior, as it normally does with failed banks, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. continued to run the bank's subprime-mortgage business for months as it looked for a buyer. With FDIC people supervising day-to-day operations, Superior funded more than 6,700 new subprime loans worth more than $550 million, according to federal mortgage data.

The FDIC then sold a big chunk of the loans to another bank. That loan pool was afflicted by the same problems for which regulators have faulted the industry: lending to unqualified borrowers, inflated appraisals and poor verification of borrowers' incomes, according to a written report from a government-hired expert. The report said that many of the loans never should have been made in the first place.

Hundreds of borrowers who took out Superior subprime loans on the FDIC's watch -- some with initial interest rates higher than 12% -- have lost their homes to foreclosure, data on the loans indicate...

Government Isn't God: FDIC Sticks Banks With Bad Loans and Sticks Borrowers With Subprime Junk


RE: How the financial collapse killed libertarianism. - By Jacob Weisberg - Slate Magazine
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:22 pm EDT, Oct 23, 2008

Decius wrote:
To the core point, these loan originators took advantage of a loop hole in contracts written by brokers and created loan products that were doomed to fail, and a whole bunch of housing speculators got in on the deal. Wall Street shouldn't have offered that deal, but it did. Regulators should have been allowed to act, but were not. The idea that the market will always forsee these things is wrong. Sometimes the market drives off a cliff.

Who forced people to buy these securities? Anyone who had done their homework would have known the proposition was unsustainable.

RE: How the financial collapse killed libertarianism. - By Jacob Weisberg - Slate Magazine


Big Banks Get $125 Billion Cash Going Away Gift From Paulson and the Bush Administration
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:49 pm EDT, Oct 13, 2008

Please sit down before you read this. If you have high blood pressure or heart trouble don't even try to read this, find a decent sports page instead, this is not for you.

Half of the first $250 billion tranche of money approved by Congress for the mortgage crisis will end up in the hands of the "healthy" big banks.

"For the good of the American financial system," Treasury Secretary Paulson has told the big banks they must take his $125 billion dollar handout, reports NYT.

Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase were told they would each get $25 billion; Bank of America and Wells Fargo, $20 billion each (plus an additional $5 billion for their recent acquisitions); Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, $10 billion each, with Bank of New York Mellon and State Street each receiving $2 to 3 billion. Wells Fargo will get $5 billion for its acquisition of Wachovia, and Bank of America the same for amount for its purchase of Merrill Lynch. So much for bailing out the mortgage market.

Here's the kicker: The shares will not be dilutive to current shareholders, a concern to banking chief executives, because perpetual preferred stock holders are paid a dividend, not a portion of earnings. In other words, all current shareholders are protected, unlike Lehman, Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders.

No matter how they frame this,the truth is this is a $125 Billion going away gift from the Bush Administration.

Big Banks Get $125 Billion Cash Going Away Gift From Paulson and the Bush Administration


RE: BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Krugman wins Nobel for economics
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:38 pm EDT, Oct 13, 2008

ubernoir wrote:

American academic Paul Krugman has won this year's Nobel economics prize, it has been announced.

Not everyone is happy with this.

RE: BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Krugman wins Nobel for economics


A Tale of Two Meetings
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:11 pm EDT, Oct 12, 2008

From PEU (Private Equity Underwriter) Report:

The G-7 group of nations formulated a plan to address the faltering global economy in Washington, D.C. Halfway across the globe, private equity underwriters (PEUs) gather in Dubai for the SuperReturn Conference. In case anyone forgot, pursuit of super returns by Wall Street investment houses helped get us into our current pickle. The Scotsman reported on the G-7 meeting:

The wider, five-point G7 plan is:

• Take decisive action and use all available tools to support important financial institutions and prevent their failure.
• Take all steps to unfreeze credit and money markets.
• Ensure banks can raise capital via public and private sources.
• Ensure national deposit guarantee programs are robust.
• Take action, where appropriate, to restart the "secondary markets" for mortgages and other assets.

However, there was no further detail last night. In a surprisingly brief statement after their meeting, the G7 also stopped short of backing a UK plan to guarantee lending between banks – a move many on Wall Street saw as vital.

"The G7 agrees the current situation calls for urgent and exceptional action," the statement by US, Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan said.

Finance leaders are to continue meeting this weekend to agree a global solution. Analysts said the summits, which involve the G7 and G20 nations, as well as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, are of "truly monumental importance".

The Gulf Daily News reported on SuperReturn:

A top private equity conference, SuperReturn, has a strong line-up of global thought-leaders speaking at its second Middle East conference taking place next week in Dubai.
SuperReturn Middle East will be held from tomorrow to Wednesday at the Intercontinental Hotel, Festival City, Dubai.

Headlining speakers at the event will include eminent and powerful global private equity figures, such as Investcorp's president and chief operating officer Gary Long, Carlyle Group chairman David Rubenstein and Blackstone Group chief executive officer and co-founder of Steve Schwarzman.

"We are delighted to be a principal partner of such a prestigious event," said Mr Long. "SuperReturn is the definitive private equity forum. Its success and standing in Europe is now being replicated here in the Middle East at a time of increasing excitement and opportunity for the local private equity industry."

The Middle East is full of dollar stuffed sovereign wealth funds. They have $2.5 trillion in assets. They're front and center as U.S. banks look for new capital. World Bank President Bob Zoellick already had them on the agenda. What luck!

"You will also see the sovereign wealth funds – and they have already been doing this – play a role in recapitalising financial institutions. You've already seen some ... [ Read More (0.1k in body) ]

A Tale of Two Meetings


US Customs: Sketching an SUV makes you a copyright infringer
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:16 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2008

A woman stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the border, over a drawing of an SUV in her notebook. They thought the artist and college professor was an industrial spy and copyright infringer.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers told Zempel they suspected her of copyright infringement.

She was released after more than an hour in custody at the Houlton, Maine, port of entry from New Brunswick, Canada.

Her release came only after she persuaded border guards she was an artist doing a project that involved a crocheted SUV as a statement against America's dependence on oil and love for big vehicles.

And these are the rocket-scientists we want to give clones of our hard-drives to? As Cardinal Richelieu said, "If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him."

US Customs: Sketching an SUV makes you a copyright infringer


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