Home / Editorial


Let’s Talk The Benefits Of Complex Financial Instruments

Buffet and Cuban apparently came out recently giving their usual spiel against derivatives like CDSs and ETFs. And of course, Cramer followed it up with a big speech on how this justifies his prejudices against the products and the people who make them.

I know lots of you hate derivatives, because you blame the 2008 housing bubble on derivatives held in the banking industry.

There’s something to be said for what these products allow; traditionally, you could either invest in a company or avoid it. Short selling allowed for limited bets against certain sorts of behavior, but generally speaking, it’s risky and there are limits to what it can accomplish.

CDS’s, however, can permit someone to really bet directly against anything; from governments to organizations. Anywhere a promise has been made, the insurance of that promise can create profit potential for the avid disbeliever.

Because of that point, now we have charges being leveled by the old establishment that this is “anti-social” or “morally corrupt” and that the practice should be disbarred.


Before you jump on the anti-derivative bandwagon, I just want to state an opinion. It is something that, as a capitalist, I firmly believe with all my heart and soul.

Good decisions deserve to be rewarded, and bad decisions should not be.

How many times, throughout my life, have I heard you people bitch about governments? About their waste and their incompetence; how many times have you complained that they don’t deserve to spend “your money.”

Now, for what is perhaps the first time in history, not only can the bad choices of heads of state be called out almost immediately, but also the judicious individuals with the spine to call out the lies and false promises can be rewarded and entrusted with further resources and the accompanying power and authority over them. And after years of considering yourself one of those individuals with the courage to call it like it is, now when it matters most you choose to bat against the people who have always been on your side.

Do you want to know how it is that things never change?

Has it ever occurred to you that if Italy’s yields had not blown out when they did, people would still be piling into Italian debt, and Silvio Berlusconi would still be at the helm? Does it strike you as ironic that this “reckless behavior” of betting directly against European governments, this “anti-social” crusade, has directly stemmed the flow of money from the private sector into the empty guarantees of these snake-oil salesmen?

For how many more years would the European countries have been able to limp along, gobbling up precious investment, if the CDS market hadn’t said “enough?”

But no, because the act of forcing Europe’s hand had the unpleasant side effect of forcing people to question their financial wellbeing, now you’re up in arms against the men and women whose only crime was to point out the obvious.

Now you side with Warren Buffet, one of the most politically active members of the establishment around, because he has some cute phrases and looks like your grandfather?

Do you know why Buffet really hates derivatives? Because they change the game.

You need to get some courage and decide what you believe. If you truly believe that the elected officials of the world are unworthy, unintelligent, and deserving of removal, then you need to grow a pair and accept that this is a way of getting rid of them. And yes, it will be accompanied by some pain.

Or you can side with the EU career politicians who are fighting for their lives and with all their desperation to hold onto the keys of the kingdom, even though there are others who are more deserving. You can help fight their battle for them, and let them stay in a position to spend valuable resources on all sorts of nonsense; let them keep giving themselves and their friends kickbacks galore and indulge in their wildest fantasies. And yes, this route lets you put your head back in the sand.

But don’t pretend like you actually care about political corruption and having competent governance, and then with the same breath strike down one of the most powerful tools for facilitating that transition. It sounds stupid.

The market is most definitely not perfect; and these instruments are facilitating all sort of new, questionable choices to be made. However, if it’s between having bad choices with more freedom, or bad choices with less freedom, you might as well go with option number one.

At least with the first one, those who try and take advantage of the system can be punished for it, and those who have value to add can find their reward.

Any instrument that has the power to help force out the incompetent prime ministers of two countries in the same week has my support.

Comments »

A Couple Thoughts On The “Occupation”

If you’ve read me for more than a week, you probably know I’m what you might call “staunchly conservative.” And as such, it should come as no surprise to you that I hate this Occupy Wall Street garbage, from the moment I heard of them.

But despite my hating them, I really do enjoy watching groups like these come into being, so that periodically I can forecast them getting wiped out, as if I were holding some sort of crystal ball.

This hodgepodge of forces is as doomed as I was sure the Tea Party was going to stick around for a few years.

Despite my taunting them on “The Twitter” I really don’t mind that they think they’re going to shepherd in some sort of revolution by which I fall at their hands. In fact, they are more than welcome to try. What really bothers me about them is how utterly incapable they seem to be at organizing themselves around an issue – any issue – before the short span of time their little movement has at life expires.

If I had to select a word that aptly described their timing for ushering in an “anti-Wall Street” movement, then that word would be “daft.” The timing for this is all wrong. Why the fuck would people be more interested in attacking finance now, when finance has been shedding jobs and struggling for life, than when the banking crisis first sprung up.

And make no mistake; timing is everything with these events. If the environment is not perfect, then the movement dies; burning out quickly like a flame with no oxygen.

The Tea Party sprung up within a few months of the spending bills and healthcare laws of Obama’s first year passing.

Or, if you prefer, the Vietnam War was a continually raging issue, where the losses were in front of you every day, reminding you why you opposed it, like gasoline being poured steadily over a campfire. This kept the protestors steadily driven.

Would Russia have fared so well in the Caucasian War if the Ottoman Empire had not already been in decline?

Did Themistocles ever imagine he’d be ostracized in the aftermath of the Persian Wars? Yet just such a thing would happen years later, when moods had changed.

Timing matters, so why do these imbeciles think now is an apt time to move on the banks, when we’ve seen press release after press release of bad news from them, from poor performance, to exposure to losses, to having to fire tens of thousands of employees.

Yes, what a terrifying and evil force these collapsing banks are!

These kids are slow on the uptake, so they probably don’t stand a chance. Watch for a new round of inconveniently timed bank collapses to usher in a new round of pain and suffering just in time to coincide with the message of Occupy Wall Street – that we need to bring down the banks. Their message will be appropriately suffocated by the consequences of that.

The other thing that bothers me about them is their total inability to craft a message. I think the press is intentionally giving them a pass on this, probably because it’s not really a good policy to allow some twenty-nothings to brand your favorite pet causes with the mark of “revolutionary.” I doubt the Times is interested in people associating “clean energy,” “foreclosure prevention” and “multinational talks” with revolutionaries threatening to bring down democratic government, so it’s “a spirited and leaderless general assembly” when they’re misbehaving (although never mind all the liberal leaders walking around, from Patterson to the unions), and a movement against “unfair” wealth distribution the rest of the time.

But a movement without a message is a waste of time. What are these little bastards thinking they will accomplish when they don’t even know what they want to accomplish. This is just ineffectual, and waiting to be hijacked. I’m surprised incognito conservatives haven’t started showing up, pushing signs for eugenics and “forced population control” just to help things along the path of dissipation.

That’s what happens when you don’t have a lead; organization needs to be organized, and the world hates a vacuum.

But the thing that bothers me most of all is how these kids have a self-inflated view of themselves, as to label themselves an “occupational force.” Do they think that the Tibetans knew they’d be the rallying cry of a generation against Chinese brutality when they stood off against the Chinese army?

No, they did it because they felt they had to. Because they didn’t have a future.

But these little fuckers are trying to craft history while looking in a mirror. It’s narcissistic and pathetic; as if they’re dedicated or know what hardship is while tweeting on their iPhones.

Occupy Wall Street…Occupy Chicago…Occupy Los Angeles…Occupy Seattle…

I can’t help but notice that every city on their list to occupy is a bastion of liberalism. How much of an occupation is that?

Occupy Los Angeles…I think we all already knew that they were occupying Las Angeles, which is a lot like saying Brazilians occupy Brazil, or Ireland is occupied by the Irish.

Oh God, I bet they’ll occupy Detroit next! I’d better start packing my bags…

Maybe they should try to occupy a city where likeminded individuals don’t already dominate every branch of the core governments. Just a thought…

Comments »

How’s That Free Postal Service?

You know, I remember not even a couple months ago when we as a country were viciously debating a certain debt ceiling that needed raising. Mind you, this is back when the debate first kicked off, towards the first of the year.

At such point, some very irate groups of “concerned citizens” were jumping up and about, getting all piss-y with suggestions that certain parts of government need not be counted toward the debt debate because they were, quote, “self-sufficient.”

In particular, I remember suggestions that the post office be scaled back to a more controllable level being met with outright hostility by certain “pro-post office” types who had only to say that the post offices budget never costs taxpayers money and therefore should be excluded from the debate.

After all, the money that established the post office was a one-time expenditure, and sales of stamps and postage made the government body totally self-sustainable.

A real example of a business venture success at the hands of the political know-how!

So let me ask you little vermin; is it still not costing me anything?

Comments »

Boehner chooses rampant hypocrisy

Just when I had hopes that the Republicans would actually correct their path and set the government down the road to prosperity, low and behold it appears nothing has changed.

House Republicans have hired a prominent conservative attorney to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act in a pending lawsuit, legal sources say, and will make an effort to divert money from the Justice Department to fund its high-profile fight.

First off, I’ll point out that this isn’t really adding to the deficit, since the money (should) be one to one. What would have financed defending the DOMA by the Justice Department will now go to defend the DOMA by the hand of Congress.

By why the hell is Boehner picking right now, of all times, to trumpet spending on social issues? Or decisively choosing to only target liberal favorites?

If anything, Boehner should just move to defund the law, like he is with healthcare, and stick the Justice Department with the deficit. Or else try to run through legislation condemning the Obama Administration for trying to decide which laws it wants to enforce. Slap them up a bit, with legislative punishments.

But by insisting the law be paid for, at this particular time, just reinforces what most on the left are already starting to suspect. Pissing money away is just dandy when the right does it.

Nancy Pelosi’s part to play in all of this is the best.

“I am requesting that you disclose the cost of hiring outside counsel for the 12 cases where DOMA is being challenged,” Pelosi’s letter said. She also asked for details on the reported hiring of Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general, specifically when a contract was signed and why a copy was not provided to Democrats on the Committee on House Administration.

I see she’s a regular libertarian-style fiscal conservative when she can’t send kickbacks to all her friends and connections. But the sad thing here is that I’m on her side.

Someone euthanize me.

What this really reminds me of is that I can’t trust anyone in our government, whether they’re on the right or left. If Republicans were really interested in getting the finances of Congress in order, they’d volunteer some of their own pet projects, many of which are just as pointless and stupid, up for the chopping block.

Take for instance, the Defense Budget.

You’re telling me Republicans cannot find one cent to slash from that budget?

Dr. Robert Gates himself pointed out something like $10 billion that could be slashed from unnecessary R&D and military programs that way outweigh anything we need right now. The Osprey and F/A-18 programs, for instance. Accompany that with a 2% reduction in the broader military budget ($685 billion in 2010) and you have an additional $12 billion.

Put that $20 billion or so up for the Democrats, if they can match it with cuts in their stupid entitlement crap, and you can probably save between $40-50 billion, easy.

Remind me what the target price was for saving (less than that), that we’ve been wasting months over?

It’s not that I don’t love military expenditures. I do. Being able to level a continent is pretty useful when you’re dealing with a world predominantly defined by dictators and assholes. But seriously, do we need to be building infrared space lasers in the middle of a recession? (No joke, $1.5 billion of last years’ budget).

See, it’s not that I have a one track mind for bashing liberals. They just make it so easy. But if Republicans keep pushing their social issues, they’re going to get curb stomped like the Democrats did last election. Healthcare reform was not about saving people money or streamlining the system. It was a social pet project. Similarly, people do not care about fighting abortion; not when those cuts are unaccompanied by other, larger reductions.

Right now is about balancing the budget while not stepping on the toes of business. If people want their Social Security and Medicare, then jack rates and taxes of everyone to pay for it. Whatever programs are left should be broken open, and systematically cut down. For each liberal pet project that gets the guillotine, throw in a conservative one. Maybe when we’re done, nothing will have changed, since it feels like half this money is counteracting itself anyways.

Comments »

CNN badly sums up entitlement reform

Listen to this, for it will make your head spin.

CNN’s latest Republican slam piece by Tami Luhby attempts to paint the difference between Obama’s and the House of Representatives’ respective Medicare plans in “plain and fair” terms (I’m sure).

When it comes to deciding who pays to reduce runaway Medicare costs, President Obama and House Republicans have very different views.

The president would make the health care industry bear the brunt of containing costs.

And just who are those dastardly, partisan, nationalist, neocon, fascist Republicans ambushing in their evil, non-comprehensive, extensive, imperialist power-grab? (Vomiting strings of adjectives is a sign of intelligence amongst the Intelligencia. No word is too many; particularly when you can’t figure out how to properly use the word to begin with…)

Here’s where the dim brilliance of the CNN news team stands out, (oxymoron, style).

Republican lawmakers would sock it to future generations of senior citizens, most of whom would have to pay more for their medical coverage.


Grand! Vivid!


Where any other of the devout would only dare to press one point, the CNN correspondent is no mere mortal.

Why claim the GOP is out to kill one age group, when with one sentence they can claim they’re out to kill two!

In one sentence, CNN has attempted to rile up two groups; the elderly, and those concerned for future generations. Such a feat I had believed impossible. Never before has there been such a marriage of terms – future generations and senior citizens. I expect some editor walked around the CNN offices all day, fully aroused.

I can picture the journalists at CNN now, stuck in such a peculiar position that they were.

The GOP plan didn’t cut any benefits for existing seniors. It put the burden solely on the shoulders of those of us who are working today and going forward. What an inconvenience, to someone trying to create an uproar.

So if no current senior citizens are being affected, then how can you bring them up so that they imagine they’re being affected?

Future senior citizens.

Also known as you and me; the people who are still working and probably fully understand that these entitlements need to be planned and paid for by those of us who still have the time to plan and pay for them.

But it’s not just us, of course. Think of the children.

Comments »

Shut It Down

Really, I am more than ready for a little silence on the airwaves. The day in and day out nonsense that takes place in Washington is more than enough to wear my patience thin. It’s bad enough that the situation in our nation’s capital has become so bleak. But couple those structural problems with the fact that the only people who reside in those marble halls are morons with law degrees, and you have a situation that is just insufferable.

The ceaseless stream of press releases from all the little groups, every other hour, on how we’re heading down a path that will lead to child murderer, family slaying, citizen killing terror has long since lost its interest.

Anytime someone’s little power pot-budget gets touched, suddenly the whole lot of them flip out and clutter the press with releases containing obviously dubious facts and illogical points about how any reduction of spending will systematically bring about the end of humanity. The culmination of this effort was Harry Reid saying that money being withheld from some gay cowboy jamboree would cause Nevada to lose jobs.

Sure it will…

The reality of the day is: our government sucks because the people in charge of our government suck.

The last thirty plus years have been dominated by this intense game, where all the players do their best to win at any cost. And the heart of this game is rooted in the false choice. That’s how you end up with the kinds of people we have, really. Because elections get phrased by the fanatics as a life altering decision between two fairly unglamorous ends.

But somewhere along the way, these same people who have dominated the process forgot something very important. Political power is shallow. It lasts only as long as other forms of legitimate power are undercutting it.

And most of these imbeciles, while more than capable of winning an election, are utterly incompetent when it comes to anything more substantive. They don’t have the discipline to manage resources, and they elect to increase those available resources well beyond the means of any other more sensible individual to handle either. You could have the best of industry in our government, and I doubt they would be able to correct it any time soon. It simply is too big, that anyone who tried would be worn thin.

So we find ourselves here. It’s time to thin this thing up and simplify it. And the first step is about to happen.

As Democrats and Republicans try desperately to paint each other as the source of the shutdown, they both seem to be missing a subtle concept here.

This isn’t the 90’s.

The last time government shut down, people couldn’t see the reasoning for why. We weren’t in a recession, and worrying about spending, to the average, myopic citizen, was not something to be comprehended. The idea that missteps during good times eventually lead to bad times is not something people like to acknowledge.

So you have two political groups right now fighting based on conditions that haven’t existed in 15 years.

Maybe next they’ll try to win the Cold War, or invade Vietnam?

Republicans are very much aware that they’ll be blamed for this. But blame and recognition are not very distinguishable things. If they were smart, and flexible, they’d jump up and start claiming that they’re responsible for the shutdown. That they are the carriers of the country, and are determined to get things back under control. Thanks to suffering, the will power is there, with the citizenry.

Instead, both groups look like blundering idiots.

But appearances are no longer going to be shaping the issue. Politics are increasingly less relevant, as cold, unforgiving boundaries are becoming more apparent.

For the first time, we have some of the largest players, like Bill Gross, questioning the logic of investing in treasuries. Image more like him appearing. Such a change could redirect the flow of capital in this country.

We should soon be coming to the point where all decisions of the U.S. government are undermined immediately. They announce a new spending program, and money circulates in front of them to drive up costs before they can even get it off the ground. Where people vacate traditional savings methods to embrace (increasingly less) fringe tactics. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that precious metals markets were viewed with skepticism.

However, I don’t believe that means we continue on the path of decreasing dollar value and higher stock market prices.

The truth is that the credibility of governing individuals has been thoroughly shattered. But, with that ruin will likely come new behavior. These same men and women in their quest to stay relevant can be expected to change on the face of a coin. The same malleability that led them to ruining this country can just as easily lead them to saving it.

You see, a stark truth has been revealed over the last years. The lesson should be driven home by now: If in winning power, you lose relevance, you haven’t won anything. The actions public officials have taken to hold offices have simultaneously destroyed them.

And so we get to the critical inflection point.

Imagine, just ten years ago, John Boehner running around as a fiscal conservative. The man spent more money during the Republican controlled era of the early 2000’s than I care to recall. Yet here he is, fleeing his own legacy. The same can be said about much of the rest of them.

What will the men and women in control of government do in the face of its demise? What might they accomplish in panic?

I do know from studying systems that unstable solutions in networks very rarely exist in nature. Obviously, any change causes them to disappear. Most systems we witness are relatively stable, or non-linear. So I have no reason to expect that this event will mark the end.

Our government, our currency, and our way of life isn’t just going to be continuously destroyed for eternity. Not without new, younger networks springing forth from our current system first.

And so I am watching with baited breath. Could this coming calm be the first step in changing winds? Personally, I think the U.S. government has said quite enough recently. They’ve become increasingly belligerent this decade. Maybe I’m trapped in the moment, and the 90’s, and 80’s and…maybe they were just as bad.

But whatever happens, I think a little peace and quiet could do us all some good.

Comments »