Simmering Hope

Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after. – Dr. Robert Anthony

Archive for October, 2008

Oct 20, 2008

Greenspan, Rubin and Summers guilty for the economic collapse

Derivative: A financial security such as an option or future whose value is derived in part from the value and characteristics of another security, the underlying asset.

On October 1, 2007 I wrote a post about housing bubble and Alan Greenspan. At that time we thought that the house bubble would have a sort of influence on the world economies, affecting mostly Canada and the USA. (Scroll down to the end of this post)

Unfortunately it had much worse and deeper implications and now the whole international market is falling apart. The domino keeps falling and it’s hard to predict when it will stop.

Back in 1997, a lady named Brooksley Born, who was the Chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission-a federal agency that regulates options and futures trading- warned in congressional testimony that unregulated trading in derivatives could “threaten our regulated markets or, indeed, our economy without any federal agency knowing about it.”
In 1998 she asked again for an official regulation of the ‘darling’derivatives, the darling embraced and loved with fierce passion by Alan Greenspan- Federal Reserve Chairman at that time, Robert Rubin- Secretary of Treasury and Larry Summers- Rubin’s deputy. The trio blocked and silenced Ms.Born. No, they did not want regulations. After all, trillion of dollars where at stakes, already moved by the Wall Street through the shady derivative market.

‘In June 1998, Greenspan, Rubin and the then head of the SEC, Arthur Levitt, Jr., called on Congress “to prevent Ms. Born from acting until more senior regulators developed their own recommendations.” (Levitt now says he regrets that decision.) Months later, the huge hedge fund Long Term Capital Management nearly collapsed–confirming some of Born’s warnings. (Bets on derivatives were a key reason.)’- The Nation.com

This is what she warned about long time ago:
“Right now, the people who trade on the floor have to keep records, and the exchanges have to keep records. Under the proposed elimination of federal oversight, the record-keeping requirements would be gone. So if fraudulent traders on the floor wanted to, they could decide not to keep records or destroy their records. And they would not violate any federal law unless we actually had a subpoena out for them. It would also be harder to detect these abuses early on. So it would only be likely that we would find out about them if there either was a tremendous upheaval on the market or a customer came to us with a complaint. That might be substantially later than when we typically get involved now.”- Derivativesstrategies.com

She was right and they were dead- wishful thinking!– wrong. The 700 billion bail out vindicated her.

This is my October 1, 2007 post on Alan Greenspan.

Greenspan: The mastermind of the housing bubble?
October 1, 1007

I used to think of Alan Greenspan like the brilliant mind behind world’s economy.
Who is the man Alan Greenspan? Is he more of the professional jazz musician? Or is he identified as the man behind the ‘housing bubble’? I guess he would rather be the jazz musician right now.
I read the review about his book The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World and I don’t know what to believe anymore.
Greenspan’s policies of adjusting interest rates to historic lows contributed to the housing bubble in the US. The Federal Reserve acknowledges the connection between lower interest rates, higher home values, and the increased liquidity the higher home values bring to the overall economy.
Greenspan also praised the rise of the subprime mortgage industry and the tools with which it uses to assess credit-worthiness in an April 2005 speech:
“Innovation has brought about a multitude of new products, such as subprime loans and niche credit programs for immigrants. Such developments are representative of the market responses that have driven the financial services industry throughout the history of our country … With these advances in technology, lenders have taken advantage of credit-scoring models and other techniques for efficiently extending credit to a broader spectrum of consumers. … Where once more-marginal applicants would simply have been denied credit, lenders are now able to quite efficiently judge the risk posed by individual applicants and to price that risk appropriately. These improvements have led to rapid growth in subprime mortgage lending; indeed, today subprime mortgages account for roughly 10 percent of the number of all mortgages outstanding, up from just 1 or 2 percent in the early 1990s.”
It is already known what happened next: The subprime mortgage industry collapsed in March 2007. The effects are still creating havoc to the US economy and to a lower extent to Canadian one.

With the collapse of the housing market, US home owners lost billions of dollars in their property asset values all over the US. And, the bottom is not in sight yet!
In Canada, we will not be immune to the housing market price correction.
We may expect prices to correct 15% to 20% considering house prices have gone up almost 100% (in some cases even more) over the past 6 years.


Oct 17, 2008

Headlines October 17, 2008

Pic of the day– it makes me laugh every time I watch it

McCain making faces
mc-cain-making-faces.jpg

Aside from that, he made peace with David Letterman. Boring!
Now it’s Sarah Palin’s turn to show up on Saturday Night Live along with Tina Fey.
She making jokes it won’t be as hilarious as when she was the jokes.

New fad diet in Japan
It looks like there is a new fad diet around. The one with bananas (no sexual connotation!!)
As people are getting into this new diet, the bananas fly off from the supermarkets’ shelves.
It looks like this:
– Breakfast- one or more bananas and water at room temperature
– Lunch and dinner- whatever you want
– Some snacks are all right
– No food after dinner and go to bed before midnight

Harper and Sarkozy in economic talks

Finally Canada realized that it’s not wise to put all your eggs into one basket. True, it’s easier to have a trade partner in close proximity, but when that close ‘partner’ will look mostly after its interests maybe it’s time to move on and investigate other markets.
The wise step is to ease the trade barriers between Canada and EU and hopefully the Canadian summit of la Francophonie would bring us some good news.
Are they going to succeed in fighting protectionism? It remains to be seen.

The collider will be operational again the next spring

So far we are safe again. At least from the black holes point of view.
If you remember the Large Hadron Collider has been subject to many scares and even some deaths due to suicide. And let us not forget the law suits. Maybe back in September it was not enough time for the Strasbourg court to have the suit on the roll, but the technical problem that shut down the particle accelerator may change the whole output.
According to a CERN statement the failure was caused by an electrical arc that punctured an enclosure holding the liquid helium used to keep the collider cold.
Actually it was a connection badly soldered.
So, the dudes worked for 20 years to build this mammoth, spent billion of dollars and everything went down the drain because of bad soldering??!!
Now how ridiculous is that?
If the dudes can’t be 100% of the soldering quality, how the heck can they be sure that the mini black holes are ‘not a problem at all’?. I mean, OK, they were 10,000 connections but somebody should had been in charge with quality control. What about not having any freaking control over the so-called ‘absorption’ of the black holes.
Yeah, yeah, we are the ignorant fear mongers.
Hey, there are good news: the cost of repairing the collider will be covered by CERN budget and another good news only six tons of helium leaked out (yeah, it’s three times as much as originally thought) meaning that the rest of 114 tons are still there.
So far at least.


Oct 10, 2008

Headlines October 10, 2008

From: Reuters
Canada rated world’s soundest bank system
‘Canada has the world’s soundest banking system, closely followed by Sweden, Luxembourg and Australia, a survey by the World Economic Forum has found as financial crisis and bank failures shake world markets.
But Britain, which once ranked in the top five, has slipped to 44th place behind El Salvador and Peru, after a 50 billion pound ($86.5 billion) pledge this week by the government to bolster bank balance sheets.
The United States, where some of Wall Street’s biggest financial names have collapsed in recent weeks, rated only 40, just behind Germany at 39, and smaller states such as Barbados, Estonia and even Namibia, in southern Africa.’

Ex-president Carter slams Bush on market crisis

‘Former President Jimmy Carter said on Friday the “atrocious economic policies” of the Bush administration had caused the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.’

From: The Canadian Press
Banks trim prime rate further after Ottawa offers $25B balance-sheet relief
‘Canada’s big banks are passing on more interest rate cuts to consumers and companies in the wake of Ottawa’s promise of help obtaining the billions of dollars required for their lending businesses.
TD Canada Trust (TSX:TD) and CIBC (TSX:CM) said Friday they will lower their prime lending rate by 15-hundredths of a percentage point to 4.35 per cent, effective next Tuesday.
The Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS) and Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO) announced shortly afterward that they would cutting their prime rate by a quarter-point to 4.25 per cent.
Chris Hodgson, Scotiabank’s head of domestic personal banking, stated that: “At a challenging time in world financial markets, this reduction in interest rates reflects actions initiated by the Bank of Canada and the federal government.”
Flaherty said the federal government will buy up to $25 billion in residential mortgages from the banks and shift them to CMHC.

“This is going to make loans and mortgages more available and more affordable for ordinary Canadians and businesses,” said the finance minister.’

From : NY Times
Russia approves $36 billion loan and shuts down the stock market
The Parliament passed a law on Friday unlocking central bank lending to private banks in a $36 billion bailout, continuing a strategy that has essentially relied on making the government’s windfall oil profits available to banks, hoping they will in turn lend to companies and maintain growth.

In another bad sign for Russia, crude oil futures dropped to $82 a barrel. Russia’s finance minister has said the budget will go into deficit if prices drop below $70. And savings from a long period of high oil prices are now at risk.
Unlike in the United States, where the bailout funds are being gathered by borrowing that will raise the national deficit, in Russia they are being drawn from the national savings account from the period of high oil prices.

Also, Russian companies hit hard by declining commodities prices continued to announce layoffs or production cuts. Severstal, which makes automotive plate steel and had been on a buying spree for mills around the world, said Friday that it would cut production by 30 percent in the United States and 25 percent at plants in Russia and Italy.

Iceland, in Financial Collapse, Is Likely to Need I.M.F. Help
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Iceland’s financial system collapsed Thursday, and analysts said it was probably only a matter of time before the country would have to turn to the International Monetary Fund for help.
“Iceland is bankrupt,” said Arsaell Valfells, a professor at the University of Iceland. “The Icelandic krona is history. The only sensible option is for the I.M.F. to come and rescue us.”
Prime Minister Geir Haarde, who had warned this week of the threat of “national bankruptcy,” declined to say Thursday whether Iceland was seeking a rescue package from the International Monetary Fund.

From: The Canadian Press
Loonie takes steepest one-day dive ever, trading extremely volatile
TORONTO — The loonie posted its biggest one-day decline on record Friday, falling almost five cents against the American dollar at one point, but began to rally in the last half-hour of trading.
The dollar fell as much as 4.87 cents in the afternoon to trade as low as 82.41 cents US, according to the Bank of Montreal’s currency desk.
However, the dollar’s value continued to bounce wildly. It had recovered more than 1.5 cents from its low within minutes. The loonie was at 84.28 cents US at 3:30 p.m., down three cents from Thursday.
The dramatic fall of the loonie this month reflects the impact of lower commodity prices, especially oil, along with weak economies around the world and concern that even Canada’s sturdy banks are being effected by a global credit crunch.
The loonie is also being sideswiped by rising demand for the U.S. dollar as the United States government tries to borrow heavily in global money markets to finance its $700-billion bailout of banks.
Ironically, the greenback is currently in huge demand because of the U.S. troubles and global economic uncertainty.
Fund managers from around the world are buying up U.S. Treasury bills – historically considered one of the most conservative investments – and need American currency to do so.

From: CNNMoney.com
Cheap oil soon to come
In a new report Friday, Deutsche Bank uses a number of interesting yard sticks to suggest crude is currently way too expensive and may fall to the $60 a barrel range as the economy worsens.
Peter Beutel, an oil analyst at Cameron Hanover sees a 2009 low of around $50 or $60 a barrel, then even lower prices in 2010.

Oct 8, 2008

The Law of Attraction- My Powerful Vision Board

A few days ago I was thinking how much we need positive changes into our lives.
I know the change must happen first within me, only that it’s easier said than done. But I took the first step and made a small video: My first Vision Board.

The Law of Attraction- My Powerful Vision Board

It was fun to make it. The whole process went smoothly, like it was supposed to happen, you know what I mean?

Now that I found this new toy probably I am going to make more vision boards. Something inspirational, motivational and beautiful.

Oct 7, 2008

Headlines October 7, 2008

Global recession

We are getting closer to hearing it coming from official sources: we are in recession.
Duh! Like we did not know it. When companies are downsizing at an alarming level, when our cost of living skyrocketed, how could anybody believe that ‘we were doing all right’? We are not and finally our government it’s going to admit it officially.
The U.S. credit crunch misery went global. Japan was among the first countries to admit the defeat, followed recently by some European countries.
A few days ago Ireland tried to stop the financial crisis offering assurance that all the savings are safe with them. Normally, the rest of the Europe expressed outrage over the move. Fast forward a few days after that, Greece followed thorough, then Germany.
Now France and the U.K. were caught with their pants down after the German Chancellor unilaterally tried to save her country’s financial system forgetting all about the EU alliance. In times of crisis it looks like it’s every county at its own.
So far France, Ireland and Denmark admitted being in recession. It’s expected that Spain, Germany, the U.K. and other countries to come up with the same announcement.

Canadian economists are still optimistic that the country will not get so much down like the U.S. If the U.S. economy is thought to recover in about 5 years, the Canadian one is expected to recover sooner than that, in about a year. It remains to be seen.
Also the full picture is really gleam, there is a silver lining: China is in the same mess- plus they have the food scandal to deal with, meaning that maybe some of the outsourcing it’s coming back home (yeah, wishful thinking) and the Bank of Canada will cut interest rates – forecast being one full percentage point.
That means it will be less burden to pay the credit cards we had to use to purchase materials for home renovations.

China keeping the lid on the number of sick kids

The Chinese government decided not to disclose the number of sick kids (melamine tainted milk) because according to them, it’s not an infectious disease, meaning that it’s not mandatory to make the number public.
As in… it’s a matter of national security or what?
Probably the truth is so terrible that it’s better not to tell anything. The damage is already done anyway. In the mean time, now that the melamine has been discovered, they decided to try to eliminate more people with arsenic.
Over a hundred people have been poisoned after drinking water contaminated with arsenic.

Chinese products have been under suspicion for quite some time. It’s true that I thought it would be limited to toys and in my naivety I gave them the benefit of having some consciousness with regards to food.
Now my confidence has gone completely down the drain and I am even more concerned especially after reading an article in the Vancouver Sun stipulating that manufacturers of food are not forced to disclose the country of origin for the ingredients used to make anything from juice to food.
As an example let’s take the banal apple juice. I would have sworn that it’s made in North America. And indeed it is, as in … packaged here. Part of the raw material (apple puree concentrate) may come from many countries, China including.
Apple juice is a very popular drink among all people. I wonder how many of us would start thinking about using again that juice extractor that is collecting only dust these days?

I don’t understand all these economic laws and I am most likely to believe that it’s rather a political game.
Canada does not need to import anything made with Chinese milk. We have enough cows here. And maybe it’s time to review that stupid quota the dairy farms are forced to follow and not to throw milk to the sewage just because some greedy idiots want to keep the price of milk at a certain level. Or it’s because China lends money and in return they impose the dynamic of the exports. Or it’s because we have Chinese entrepreneurs living happily in Canada, with the same business philosophy of ‘who cares how many people die if we make money’.


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