Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Eve Austerity Ball Menu

That Euro-Area New Year's Eve Austerity Ball Menu (in Full)
31st December, 2011


Blood-Orange Punch
Spanish Sangria (on the Rocks)
Campari OJ Crush
Bloody Marys (xtra Horsradish)
'Clairette de Die' Fizzlers
Die Kinder Punch (for our less responsible guests)

PIIGS in a Blanket
Fried & Shredded Treaties
Clownfish Mini-Skewers
Marmite Butty (Specially for our UK 'guests')
Mixed Nuts


Strasbourg Stone Soup
Portuguese Black-Eye Pea Salad


Downward Spiralinis in a Red-ink Sauce
Fagottini con niente (al dente, con Pesto alla Draghi)


(Sorry! This course has been cancelled due to budgetary constraints)


Wurstel mit Kraut Fur Alles und Bitter Herbs
Fried WienerSchnitzel w/Sauce Lagarde
BBQed Fattened-PIIGS w/Cracklin' 


Strawberry ShortsqueezeCake
Leftover Elysee Buche de Noel
OATmeal & Crabapple Crumble
Brussels Treacle Tart
Bowl of Southern Lychees


Flaming Shots of Sambuca
Greek Ouzo
Cowen's Irish Coffee
Maceira (Neat)


WE also wish to recognize:
Music and Fireworks provided by The Hedgehogs
Entertainment & French Letters courtesy Mr Berlusconi
Catering underwritten by the ECB 
The British PM for his  helpful advice,
and the Anglosphere Press for their fair & balanced reporting. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Burnt Out

Q: How many Tea-Party Members does it take to change an incandescent light bulb??

A: None! They don't change lightbulbs....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Xmas Presents for All!!! (...Red States that is)

Despite what I have curmudgeonly been telling my children about the realities of Santa, it appears rather to the contrary that (at least for the Red States) there is indeed a Father Christmas.  This is evidenced by the luscious  and revealing graphic and table provided by an Economist magazine post from Aug 1st entitled America's Fiscal Union. It is germane (and ironic) in several ways: It displays who amongst the States are the net contributors and who are net beneficiaries; it exemplifies a distinctly Euro-like core and periphery, and it exposes an anecdotal counterintuitive correlation between the net beneficiaries over the last decades and their political alignment with al facets of the GOP from wet-Tory-like Mainers to the hardcore  Mormon Utahns (pronounced yew-tawns).  

The flow of funds indeed is consistent. Wealthier urban, productive population centers (despite their large concentrations of poor, and the benefits they inevitably suck) pay more than receive and effectively provide net transfer funding for the sparsely-populated rural lower productivity and poorer states/regions. There are obvious explanations for some of the flows, be they military bases (New Mexico) , true rural poverty (West Virginia, Mississippi, Maine, Alabama), Walmart (Arkansas), farm subsidies (Great and Northern Plains),  or Retirement States (Florida, Arizona). And one can argue about whether the funding states receive like non-accountable benefits in return (national defense, a stable agricultural sector, an independently-living elderly population, highway transit and by-ways enroute to market, etc.) Nonetheless, the fact remains, Federal tax dollars on a net-basis are siphoned from some and directed to others. 

It is likely that these patterns are endemic, and in some ways resemble Europe. Puerto Rico might be Greece, and Alabama, the US's own Portugal (though Lisbonites might take exception to such comparison), California approximates France, NY/PA (complete with Amish) equates to Germany, while Florida and Arizona resembles Spain, and so forth. Such comparisons have their limits of course if only because Oregon, for example,needn't worry as it doesn't have its own currency (unless one considers Green Sinsemilla sufficiently legal-tender). But they do highlight the nature of imbalances and their persistence and the lack of moral judgment heaped upon the deficit generators by surplus states. Maybe the payors should be looking for ways to jettison the the deadbeats, which seems like something the Wall Street Journal's editorial page writers could get behind. 

Despite this, few New Yorkers, Minnesotans or Left-Coasters call for the expulsion of Mississippi, North Dakota or Montana from the union, nor do they vilify their parents or grandparents taking it easy in Sun-City or Tampa. Quite to the contrary, en masse they vote for the party that through the elevation of tax rates, attempts to insure the continuation of these transfers. Yet somewhat counterintuitively, in terms of both hyperbole and demagogic whining, it is the aptly-named red-states who vilify the blue states as lazy undeserving socialist spongers sucking from the great milk-teat of the State. The table, however, displays a dramatic picture of who, in aggregate, is doing the giving who in aggregate are the recipients of some very large Christmas presents indeed. Maybe, for a change, some thanks are in order. Or, if they just cannot bring themselves to utter these two simple words, perhaps they can, for once, just refrain from uttering bile.   

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

End Run??!?

This is Olympus Corp.'s infamous"4th & Long", Hail Mary attempt at ummm ...  errrr .....well it was so long we are not really sure. But we are sure they didn't want anyone to know about -especially their investors, the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and their nosey Limey boss who the board all greatly regret appointing no matter how much money their camera business is bleeding.  Of course they should have punted, instead of fumbling in their own end-zone, getting hammered and having the whole team ejected simultaneously for personal fouls. It is one straight from Joe Paterno's playbook....

There is also an alternative explanation. It may look like a Japanese attempt to replicate that most famous Joe Namath Superbowl III Strategy, but it might just be a clever way of hiding the schematic design blueprint for their secret device known as the EndothescamScope. This scientific machine will allow forensic accountants to look deep into the bowels of company accounts and help identify Zaitech scar-tissue or more lethal cancerous Tobashi. This was reputed to have been derived from their [withheld] research into Scammograms, reputedly stolen by agents of GS and secretly passed onto MG Global where it underwent clinical trials.  

Whatever it is. It is complicated. And me, who after witnessing the blunt near-neanderthal construction of Lehman's Repo-105 thought accountants were just plane stoopid. This is clearly a work of art. Watch out Damien Hurst!! Nikon and Canon may be dancing all over the corpse of Olympus in the Camera market, but they can't even come close to Olympus's imagination in conjuring the financial equivalent of the most audacious David Copperfield routine.  The Pointy-Lines. The symmetrical boxes. The acronyms (which include some of our favourite banks!!). The Science-Fiction-sounding names. The Shuffling, and the true Genius of the whole thing: The recursiveness!

In case you're confused, don't be. For it all makes perfect sense when you think that their business is: photographs and endoscopes, (and after their latest acquisitions) medical waste disposal. Now, look again at the Diagram above. Isn't that what you see??

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lowest Hanging Fruit

There has been much vitriol leveled at inequality and what is believed by some to be unfair compensation. CEOs, Professional Sports Stars, Brokers, Bankers, Brokeback Bankers, Actors, Paris Hilton, Hedge Fund Managers, The Koch Brothers, Trial Lawyers, Plastic Surgeons, LBO/Private-Equity Kings, Trustafarians,  Mark Zuckerberg, Televangelists, all though not exclusively have been the target of critics questioning whether or not they are in fact deserving of the riches heaped upon them, or in perhaps the rarer case, otherwise earned.

Some people see such folks (particularly Bankers, Private Equity and Hedge Fund Managers) as unequivocally Evil and, as such, are proverbially low-hanging fruit in their search for scapegoats, sources of Government revenue, or merely general contempt. While sympathetic in-part, I think they are missing the obvious. Indeed, the over-sized day-glo bullseye, and the lowest-hanging fruit for all derision and heated debate regarding inequality should in reality be directed elsewhere - quite simply, at The Dead. No, not Jerry & the Boys who it must be said have been scorned by many 1%ers for decades, but the Deceased; the Un-Living;  the Already-Departed.

For those who think this a joke, let me state categorically that it is not. The cremated and already-decomposed  are the perfect villains - vampirious leeches, the ultimate symbol of absurdist something-for-nothingism, not to mention quite convenient effigies upon which to heap our rage. "They" - or their estates and beneficiaries receive royalities, own assets, extract rents, but we must ask the question: should they? For presently, the State needs it more than the offspring, and is probably more deserving. Errr ummm, well, perhaps not, though one might better argue that descendants are LESS deserving of the eddying pools and wealth in legacies, trusts and foundations for their benefit. Randians, even more than others should welcome this boot-strap-lifting proposal since it logically follows their preference for Darwinian outcomes, and the resultant wealth that increasing is believe to yield. And what could foster more genuine competition than everyone starting from more or less the same lane?

So here they lie, in box or urn, now, dead. They can neither spend it nor enjoy it. They certainly no longer EARN it. And their chosen or Napoleanoic beneficiaries did even less to earn it. What is the philosophical or moral basis of their claim? The politically astute cannot fail to notice one of the most compelling reasons to shine the klieglights thusly: They cannot complain. They cannot vote you out or vilify you on Fox news. They cannot [any longer] directly mobilize lobbyists or start a Swift Boat-like smear campaign that will stick and possibly remove you from the Great Milk-Teat. They are a far better target than illegal immigrants, whose legal relatives and extended families increasingly control Florida, and Texas, and are significant swing voters in more and more states. Why waste time building fences (which costs money) when we can simply raise it from the dead (no pun intended) before it corrosively arrives in the control of its heirs?

Walmart heirs control wealth equivalent to the net worth of the bottom 30% of The People. This simply cannot be good for consumption, and hence employment and economic activity. And Politicians should realize that highlighting this to their voters will be more advantageous than accepting campaign contributions from such heirs in support of the status quo. Sustainability (without private armies) apart, the more fundamental question that people have ceased asking is: Why this is so, and how fair it is (or isn't). What philosophical basis is there for passing ownership and de facto control of vast pools of wealth and accompanying privilege via blood, kin or for that matter by legal assignment? If we have transcended this in the political sphere (or tried to since political dynasties DO still exist), why are we so forgiving in the economic sphere which given the influence of money over politics equates to the former in any event?

I understand that you might have some hesitation. You may be afraid of the paranormal and their potential wrath. You might wonder whether or not you might regret abetting what some will term as the immoral sequestration of assets, when you are seeking entry into the Great Country Club On High. As a 1%er you may yourself have grave concerns about your progeny's wits, motivation, or ability to tie their own shoelaces when well into adulthood. Or perhaps you have more systemic concerns about how it might affect the property rights of the living. As a politician, or a member of the 1%ers who will benefit from the deflection of attention, you no doubt will understand the pragmatism of focusing upon the here-and-the-now. If you are concerned for the downward mobility and consequential well-being of your offspring, I would highlight that it is worth thinking about such issues as social safety nets and universal healthcare BEFORE the cards are dealt. If on the other hand, you are concerned that an economic placeholder is required for systemic reasons of securing property rights of the living, why not let it be in the Public's Interest - who is able, like other SWFs to hold it in trust for a rainy day, or as collateral for the inevitable future demographic inversion? Indeed, it is likely that the societal beneficiaries will in aggregate be the same public that contributed towards your success when amongst the living. Being presumptuous, speaking on  behalf of The Dead, it is a befitting memorialization, and a gesture (nearly) all of the living would appreciate.

Of course, if one thinks such a proposal too bold, or simply too unfair, there remains one further, even more-surefire-target (on par with banning assault rifles in elementary schools) upon which to point the wrath and fury of the 99%ers: Dead Pet Trusts....

Friday, December 09, 2011

Caught Out

Where I used to live, there was little more entertaining than a visit to the local court. An old fashioned justice system, with arbitrary magistrates, colourful defendants opposite the application of justice. This was decidedly NOT a big city court. The transgressions and infractions were typically minor and often bizarre, but always humane in ways not often seen or read about in modernity. Waiting in the foyer, one would overhear the reality of most folks be they family problems, living paycheck to paycheck, and seeing firsthand the effectiveness of political demagogues in shaping attitudes of at least some of The People.

While I believe there is a wonderful book to be written translating the daily march of the people and their cases into vivid anecdotes and weaving them into a heart-warming read of village and humanity, my visits were utilitarian. Exceeding the speed-limit by more than a certain amount requires, without exception, a mandatory court appearance. Waiting on the wooden benches, witnessing a series of "54 in a 35 zone - how do you plead", followed by "Guilty, your honor", and a ruling of "....$250 dollar fine or 30 days inside....", my interest was piqued by a most amusing case.

The prosecutor Mr Marquette, described the course of events. A Mr G. Reece was in the supermarket,  and was caught shoplifting. He had apparently hidden a head of green iceberg lettuce, and a few bags vegetables under his overcoat, and was discovered upon exit, and the police were called to the scene, and the accused was taken to jail. The magistrate, Mr Deutsch, asked how he wanted to plead. "Guilty with an explanation your honor..."  "Go ahead", he said, rolling his eyes.  "I don't want to steal, but I got a family and I don't have any money". Then magistrate Deutsch made his ruling: "That'll be a $200 dollar you have anything to say....?" Mr Reece, stood up, and and in the most pleading of tones asked "What's the point of fining me $200 if I don't got any money? IF I had any money, I wouldn't have stolen the food in the first place....!!!??!!!" The whole court laughed at this most obvious logic flaw before Magistrate Deutsch banged the gavel and cried "Order, Order, Order in this Court, as the defendant was led away." "Next case your honor; a Mrs I. Tally accused of going 54 in a 35 do you plead...."

I have fond and vivid memories of this place. So vivid, they could have happened last night...

(editor's note: The above is an absolutely true story - only the names have been changed to protect identities)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Payback M*#*erF$#(R!!

 The Wall Street Urinal attempted to kill two birds with a single stone today in article questioning the privilege granted to certain large investors to delay publication of 13F-HRs and 13D filings with the SEC. They specifically target Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway who of course has to file at the same time as everyone but who, along with a handful of others, have been granted delay in publicly releasing the filings.

I am agnostic on Mr Buffet generally though I have taken shots at him before. And I prefer more transparency, than less. So I shouldn't be bothered by the article. Yet, I AM amused and irritated for I cannot help but wonder what is behind the new-found populist editorial line of the WSJ. I reckon its two-fold: first it is payback for Mr Buffet's Benedict Arnold routine visa-vis the Capitalist Class in regards to his expressed opinions on top-end marginal tax rates in general and the level of estate tax in particular. Payback is indeed a bitch.  Second, I think, like Fox news has found, selective populism pays and sells - particularly the kind that panders to the generalized rage against a rigged system, evidenced first and foremost by, yes, you guessed it WB's Berkshire Hathaway, that renegade anti-pillar of the little guy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

False Labeling ??!!?

I must admit to being on the sidelines with regards to OWS. Although I empathise with their visceral outrage, and admire their willingness to get out on the streets for a cause, I suspect there is lots culpability all around. But my apathy was broken recently when FT Alphaville ran excerpts from a Dennis Gartman speech entitled "God Bless Income Disparity" in which he characterized the non-one-percenters as "failures" for taking the one-percenters to task for their apparent "success(es) and the singularly Randian-Blood-Sweat-&-Tears it apparently took to achieve it. Despite human beings being hard-wired for jealousy, I think this wrongly parses the issue into one of accused envy by the 99%, instead of one that highlights the responsibilities incumbent upon the 1%ers derived from their dumb luck and debts to....ummmm....errrrrr......well, more or less everything not self-attributed. 

Self-attribution bias  and similar psychological flaws have long been contemplated by thoughtful observers with even the most meager amounts of introspection. I also have long wondered what the ingredient formula for my own comparatively fortunate state of affairs might look like. I suspect, being of profoundly self-effacing stock, that it mostly has had to do with luck (some marginally engineered, but mostly of  the "dumb" variety).  Moreover, it was in the main, mightily fostered by all manner of communitarianism, from my fortunate local and state university education, cooperative non-profit healthcare, to the State and NGO-funded munificence of my mentors.  Moreover, I have been legally allowed to keep the lion's share due to the rule of law - unlike the Sea-lion beachmaster or South American Drug Baron, whose property rights and political-economic position within the realm is far more precarious.    

As it happens, my own attribution would also be reasonably benign, with little to be embarrassed about, or lurking in the grey areas or moral compromises that might be required to bag the proverbially bigger game. With that preamble, it might be worth contrasting the hypothetical labeling of Gartman's All-Natural ingredient list for success, to that which resonates more closely with the archetypical one we might publicly (or for these embarrassed, privately) know first-hand, read-about in the less-edited versions of 1%er exploits.


INGREDIENTS: SHEER DINT OF WILL, TENACITY, STREET-SMARTS & THE LIKE, PLUS (following added by The Editor) TRACE AMOUNTS OF HARD WORK, SKILL, FORTITUDE, FAITH & ANNOINTMENT BY DEITY OF CHOICE; COPIOUS BOOTSTRAP PULLS.  (This product  is safe for those allergic to the concept of social responsibility or obligation and was produced in a safe facility containing no traces Luck or Free-Riding. It has been produced or miraculously conceived without  benefits received from public goods, or positive externalities derived therefrom or contributed by any collective or social programs, rent-seeking, rule-breaking, gaming or other transgressions against established laws, morals or regulations).  



Sunday, December 04, 2011

Rainbow Warrior - Part Deux

Even I had wavered in my conviction following the deluge of character assassination following DSK's arrest. But now, appearing vindicated per my original post (recounted below),  The DSK affair IS looking more definitively like a set-up. Edward Jay Eptstein's account in the NYRB entitled "What Really Happened to Strauss-Kahn" nicely summarizes precisely what we know, and what we don't. To sum it up: Sarko's Boys knew he could never refuse a blow-job, (and they were right!!) in a crude yet effective elimination of political competition.

Original May 15th  Post below....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Quarter of a Century Later....

In general, I admire the french civil service. Not everything. Not all the time. But both relatively and absolutely, their performance should give anti-Statists pause for thought about their position (not that such dogmatists will ever do so). Sometimes, however, they do fuck-up. Sometimes quite badly. Such as, for example, twenty-five years ago in New Zealand (youngsters see inset photo to the left).. Ummm errrrrr great plan guys!! A Franco Bay-of-Pigs of sorts.

Time travel back to the present, a quarter-of -a-century later, and after reading today's lead story, one must wonder whetherAgents Prieur and Mafart have been seconded back into service - this time on an even more ignoble plan to sink (no pun intended) the political fortunes of DSK, presently polling several percentage points ahead of Mssr Sarkozy, even after the announcement of the soon-to-emerge mini-Bruni. Ouch! Decisive action appears to have been called for. Some shit that, once thrown, will stick stick stick.

I am not saying he doesn't have a dark side. You don't really know someone until they come an live with you (and even then there is still.....ummm errrr stuff that....). I am not saying he didn't do it. Heck almost everyone has something that might not withstand public scrutiny and microscopic examination. But this one just seems implausible. In all my years, and too numerous hotel stays, I've never been cornered in my hotel room by the J-Lo hot chambermaid (and, then, in the micro instant of having emerged clothes-less from shower, schocked by the instrusion, thought: Wow she's hot! Followed by "Hey babe wanna fuck??!? No? Really, no? Well then I'll just have to force you...." Oh, yea, and we gonna be quick, 'cause I got ze plane to catch". Perhaps that is because that lot are all swarming by the suites upstairs looking for the bigger fish (like DSK?),  rather than the plebeian closets where I hole up. But c'mon. In the run-up to an imminent election? When you are the the front-runner? And about to depart for an important meeting with Chancellor Merkel about some trifling matter about the future of the periphery of Europe? (Frau M can wait.....right?!??).  Forcible detainment?? After having been busted and having apologized for shagging a (rather willing, it would seem) colleague??  It just smacks of a set-up. A rather dirty, dirty-trick, that needn't be true, but merely cause some fence-sitters to come to the conclusion that the devil you know may just be marginally better than an accused rapist.

Any thoughts on this one guys & girls........??!?


Anonymous said...
well, it was kind of my third thought. the Deuxieme Bureau are amazing...
phoneranger said...
Lots of thoughts. Which I should and will keep to myself. But if Sarko did plan this it will be easier to prove than DSK's diddling. He'd be toast in a blink if he's caught out.
Etz said...
Regardless of what really happened, the only outcome I would find shocking is to learn that DSK and the Sarko are both NOT scumbags.
Anonymous said...
A second accuser doesn't help his case:
Imobiliare Dambovita said...
you don't know someone after ages sometime
Anonymous said...
Nor does the fact that the woman herself has been working at the hotel for the last three years, is apparently married with a family, a devout Muslim, and is supposedly not overly attractive. The woman in question apparently first went to her coworkers, who advised her to call the cops. The police (who have a good sense for these things) find her to be a credible witness Add in the DNA evidence and we see why DSK appears to be claiming the act was consensual. Considering the signs of a struggle and the woman's background, I do not buy it.
vbounded said...
strauss-kahn has been a supporter of bank bailouts, so I'm happy he's been arrested and likely will face criminal punishment. It is unfortunate that bank regulators won't be investigated, and if appropriate, punished in civil or criminal court for pushing through bank bailouts instead of financial restructurings where banks were recapitalized by wiping out the old shareholders and forcibly converting the creditors into the new shareholders. However, some punishment for the public officials that supported bank bailouts is better than none. Even if they are being punished for the wrong offense.
Anonymous said...
DSK 's closet is surely not empty and NS's campaining abilities are above par so the "homo-rationalis" in me thinks that a timely one on one could have done the trick nicely (with or whitout twins!). More to the point it would have been quite DSKish to actually go down that path and NS is not DSK. That said a man is innocent until proven guilty so I will refrain for now and patiently wait a few days....
thjonz said...
i think the only way he can stay free is to attack the maid, and say the sex was consensual. Assuming there is DNA evidence, either way he is done. Spare a thought for the woman, who has a 15 year old daughter, and probably will have to go through hell as she recounts the alleged attack, all with family watching.
Leili Lanyon said...
My thoughts exactly! Dirty politics at play.
martin said...
See Alas, it does not cover jumping chambermaids or avoiding sex-stings
Anonymous said...
Actually, I am as clueless as anyone about what really happened. But speaking of chambermaids, I recall an anecdote I heard almost thirty years ago. A Japanese businessman stays at a hotel in Madagascar. Unfamiliar with the local currency, he leaves a tip that is ten or hundred times the norm under the pillow. When he comes back, he finds a maid in the bed offering herself. I’m not sure if this story was intended to be funny, which I don’t think it is. Anyway, this is hardly credible; the maid would have pocketed the money and be done with it.
Anonymous said...
Droit du Seigneur attitude still exists among the french political class.
Anonymous said...
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Crisis Style Guide

Different folk have distinctive emotional sine waves with different amplitudes, some dramatically so. One can go ecstatic at the thought of a nice pair of shoes on sale. Some will be whipped apoplectically up into a rage by something as hokey as a Glenn Beck diatribe. Some will cry over a slice of Burnt toast. Yet others shrug indifferently at the site of a cute watery-eyed puppy mauled by a pit-bull.  I am not a psychologist so I cannot say what is more normal though I reckon there is a reasonable normal distribution across the population. 

There is also, I put to you, a linguistic sine wave, also with highly differentiated amplitudes.  I have friends who describe everything they do, or buy as The Best. Others I have encountered describe the most pedestrian of experiences as "UNBELIEVEABLE". At the other end of the spectrum are those whose descriptions of momentous events employ emotion and adjectives reserved for cleaning coffee stains from the sink. And then, rarely one encounters the individual whose linguistic description of something approaching an objective reality bears a striking resemblance to it - whether it be the experience at a fine hotel or the virtues of a certain brand of hand-blender.

The economic and financial issues facing much of the world today ARE significant. So much so that one would be challenged to find anyone not harbouring an opinion on "What To Do About Greece", The US Budget Deficit, or Whether the ECB Should Monetize Some Debt to give the Euro users time to evolve more meaningful fiscal integration.   
Books, newspapers, radio television, comedy, politicians, clergy, charlatans all have something to say in various timbres. To my disappointment, possessing as I do a constricted sine-wave amplitude, even sober-minded sources of news and analysis like the BBC have seemingly lost the tether of linguistic sobriety. Panic, rather than tempered is seemingly amplified before being reflected and redirected. Adjectives, each more dramatic and apocalyptically-evocative than the last is wheeled out and attached to what would have been benign under other circumstances, when viewed in context most likely has Phlebastisized into a phrase that has granny throwing rocks at the bank, sharpening her knives, and stocking the cellar full of lentils.

While Auntie Beeb, by historical comparison is worked--up, and the staid FT also seems intent on stoking the fires of circulation, the worst offender is the eponymous blog Zero Hedge. Their style guide constructs phrases beginning with hyperbolic: 

unprecedented, dramatic, deep, deeper, deepest, crushing, urgent, unthinkable, unimaginable, unsustainable, breathtaking, startling, horrific, striking, dangerous, critical, fatal, malignant, serious, shaky, vulnerable, unstable, terrible, severe, cataclysmic, flagrantly, worse, worsening, worst, huge, steepest, insanely, huge, gonzo, grotesque

 combines it with something strongly emotive: 

Contraction, cuts, Greeks, Greece, PIGS, annhilation, austerity, bonuses, whithering. decimation, hardship, deteriorating, reductions, shriveling, degeneration, bankers, Greece, decay, decline, shatter, demolish, disintegration, gravity, busted, harshness, dragged-down, plunged, implode, diseased, death, unleash, misses, freezes, drops, denial, tumbling, weakness, disappointment, massacre, flogging, deluge

as a crown to something dramatically evocative:
Crisis, depression, downgrades, delinquency, hyperinflation, bail-out, give-aways, collapse, budget cuts, rollbacks, unemployment, losses, poverty, unemployment, upheaval, contagion, infection, doomsday, rapture, bankruptcy, insolvency, overhang, trauma, frenzy, apocalypse, meltdown, disaster, trouble, default

This phrasal-scaffolding is then punctuated with superiority and derision:
End-game, sanity-check, nonsense, spin, Hah!!, Sure!, Yeah right!, nonsense, "truth", insane, ridiculuous, Kool-Aid, spin, ramped, Merkozy

before a peppering of popular fantasy

Fraud, manipulation, the Fed, Obama, PPT, Banksters, Cabal, conspiracy, tipped-off, squeeze, scheme, suspicious, unexplainable, dubious, Ponzi, rumoured, complicit, Orwellian, colluded, secret, bamboozled

I am, by now, fatigued. Not as much by the crisis or the challenges that remain in front of us than by the wholesale linguistic thermonuclear carpet-bombing (ironic huh?) that seemingly are employed to gain entry past our now-desensitized bull-shit detectors. The shame of course is that there ARE many things that ZeroHedge has unequivocally nailed. And there is nothing wrong with skepticism as an editorial line, even where it judiciously crosses the threshold towards cynicism. For this is perhaps my own point of departure. However, without a throttle governing  nuance, it quickly becomes an unreliably-rogue and untrusted vector, a parody of what it seeks to out, with a diminished usefulness for those of us trying their best to use the available intersecting vectors of opinion to establish some best-approximation of truth.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Memo From ICAB

M E M O R A N D U M 



Dear Citizen of the Western World, 

Although you've probably noticed, evidenced by the numbers of you have been camped in dirty underwear, without privvies, in various public places, even as winter approaches, we have some bad news for you.

1. Most of us are poorer than we realize
Whether personally as an asset owner whose share of The Tab hasn't come fully due, or as an ordinary citizen where the State's claim upon your future cash flows hasn't been fully applied, or as creditors where the haircut (s) have yet to be fully imposed or negotiated, or as retirees or future retirees whose promises of future cash flows (or the age at which you retire) are unlikely to be fulfilled as previously believed in like quantities or relative purchasing power, you are worse off than you currently believe or realize. How much so is anybody's guess,but its probably MORE than you imagine though LESS than the Goldbugs fear. Accordingly, we recommend that everyone include an F-Factor Discount (technically known as a Fudge Factor) when totaling our individual net worth statements and begin adjusting to the idea when imagining one's next holiday in the sun, luxury kitchen refurbishment, or leveraged purchase of the latest Vorsprung durch Technik

2. Most of us will continue to get poorer in real terms.
There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, many of whom would gladly do what most of us do for less and for longer. Much less. And they are. And they will continue to want, and do so.  Some of course are unable, due to obvious limitations of geography, nonetheless, the inexorable downward pressure upon wages and (at least over the next few decades) Malthusian upwards pressure upon resource prices will continue to squeeze us. If one is a consumer, and one is accustomed to consuming significantly more than one produces, this will be rather unfortunate. Life, however, is full of choices and undoubtedly all people so pressured, and without a fairy godmother, or a very well-funded trust fund holding good title of hard and/or solvent assets, must face them. Do not believe demagogues who promise that in the absence of producing something of value which others desire or require and can trade for/pay for, that we do not or will not have to make such choices, however big or small. We will, whether the markets force us by austerity and subsequent deflation, or whether they arrive via eventual inflation as a result monetization.  So in preparation, we advise everyone to please start thinking about what is most important to you, and your family. Hints:  Food (the veritable kind); Decent Affordable Healthcare; Public Order: Education; Safe Bicycle Routes, More Efficient transportation, Drinkable Wine, perhaps, but not necessarily in that order.      

3. We are suffering from a variety of maladies. 
Whether or not we realize it, most of us are ill. Many are suffering from a form of Financial Phlebitis (known as Vastly Enlarged Expectations), both in terms of what, and the quantity of which we think the World (The State, Your County, Municipality, Parents, Employer, Union, Children, Deity of Choice, etc.) owes us, and what we think is deserved by virtue of our annointed presence on this planet.  Some of us suffer from behavioural disorders such as Self-Attribution or Hindsight Bias'  that causes one to discount the impact of one's luck (dumb or otherwise) or society's contribution towards one's success, possibly coupled with a tinge of Sociopathic Grinch''s Disease. Still others amongst us (for the avoidance of doubt including but not limited to: Bankers, the Auto Industry, Big Pharma and other rent-seekers) have a form of Financial Munchausen syndrome.  Together, these afflictions threaten everyone's health, not to mention law, order, stability, and welfare.  We recommend everyone take steps to confront their own particular disorders and attempt to self-heal what they can which begins with the arrest of self-delusionary behaviour. For those amongst us who are adept AT helping themselves, but are seemingly unable TO help themselves, we will be offering special group therapy for such financial kleptomaniacs called "Looters' Anonymous".  

Fortunately there is some good news.  For most of us, it will (once Euro systemic adjustments are enacted) likely remain safer, and more pleasant to live where we are (excepting those of us in Blighty or the bowels of certain US Cities) than in most developing cities and countries. For Americans, our land and our corporations are rich, our people innovative resourceful (when the mood strikes) and adaptive (errr when forced). Our higher education system (ex Bob Jones U) is still the envy of the world, and there remains enormous low hanging fruit (from infrastructure, investment in energy efficiency, and wholesale healthcare reorg, education urban renewal, progressively higher marginal tax rates) to help transit from where we are to where we ought to be in order to sustain a reasonably healthy stable civic and economic life should we find the pragmatic will (which we highly recommend) and the leadership. For Europeans, our lands, heritage, and patrimony are rich, our expectations are suitably moderate (except in Blighty), our savings are large across all of our nations (excepting Blighty), our households underleveraged (except in Blighty), our companies technologically fit, our aggregate current and trade accounts are in rough balance, our healthcare systems efficient -enough in cost and outcomes, and our educational systems of good quality, affordable and meritocratic (except in Blighty). The gaps we must respectively bridge, while different, are neither insurmountable nor even a huge distance from where we presently are. But the time for dithering, aversive or avoidance behaviour has passed, and ask all of us please, be one idly rich, merely fortunate, a farmer or worker, shareholder, civil servant, pension beneficiary, manager, teacher or student to act pragmatically, and in the better interests of ALL of our children.  

Yours truly,

International Citizens Advice Bureau