Tuesday, February 09, 2010

German Tourist Shot on Circle Line

He laughs it off.
Mr. Bolowski suffered a nonlethal wound, a shot clear through his right shoulder blade, apparently from behind. With Mrs. Klein and Mrs. Bolowski still at his side, he was taken to Lincoln Hospital, aware and uncomplaining....
"He feels good," said Robert Bolowski, the victim's cousin. "He's not in a lot of pain...."

I wonder if the Times will follow up after he gets his medical bill. The US is the last place you want to get injured.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Integrity Meme

This keeps coming up. As I've mentioned before, backing out of a no recourse mortgage is perfectly OK if your house's value has dropped below the outstanding mortgage, i.e. if you're 'underwater.' Even if you can make the payments, it's not your problem. The bank was also gambling, and they should have been way more aware of the economic environment than you.

I just wanted to make that point. Even though former Secretary Paulsen is largely discredited, his assertion that "people who can afford their mortgage payments but decide to walk away from their homes because of falling home prices were nothing more than 'speculators'" is maintaining some cultural currency.

I'll make the point again -- walking away from an underwater mortgage is the right thing to do. You're already propping up the banks through your tax dollars, you don't need to do it with your housing payments.

Not all home loans are non-recourse. It sounds sleazy, but some banks look past their culpability in approving frankly insane loans and go after the borrower. This was predictable, but it's a fad -- once this drives, say, 1.5 million people into bankruptcy I think the Federal Government will stop it. Say, 2013. Oo! Next president! I don't want to go out on a limb here, but I think it'll be Obama.

Fair and Balanced

Nephos brought up Fox News old slogan, "Fair and Balanced," in the comments recently. Hold on, I'll check if they're still using it... they are.

Isn't it kind of nutty? 'Fair' is just there to distinguish 'balanced' as meaning something different from 'fair.' What can it mean? Here are the facts, on one side, and then we'll balance them with non-facts.

How could that possibly be attractive to a news consumer?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Why Goldman Sachs Executives Go Into Government

So, we know there's a revolving door between Goldman Sachs and government. We also know that government jobs only pay a couple of hundred thousand dollars at most, and we believe GS people became GS people because money motivates them.

So, what gives?

[O]ne reader writes... “There is a special IRS law/code passed in 1991 that says when someone appointed to a government position needs to sell stock to avoid such a conflict of interest, then the sale will not be taxed. I wonder how many former Goldman employees working in government have used this tax loophole.”

The 5: As you know, we put Ian on the case. In the meantime, here’s a little back-of-the-envelope math turned out by CNNMoney. Paulson owned $480 million in GS stock with a cost basis anywhere between $50-240 million. At the time of his nomination in 2006, the capital gains tax break would have amounted to somewhere between $3-8 million over three years, depending on the cumulative rate of return on his investments.

There's a what? No wonder the American voter handed over control of Congress to the GOP. That's a pretty corrupt move. Can we get a role call vote on that? And did it go into effect under Bush 41?

Huh. This is the Ethics Reform Act of 1989. And it 'passed by voice vote.' It was first used under Clinton. And the New York Times discusses how Paulson could make $48M off it in 2006.