BailoutSleuth.com is blogging the bailout. I'm sure this is a noble and necessary endeavor, but let me pick one statement from their website, take it out of context and then go on a tangent:
BailoutSleuth believes that transparency is vital to the success of the taxpayer-funded bailout program.
I totally disagree. What fueled the CDS market? What fueled the mortgage-backed securities market? Why did the corporate paper market work? OPAQUENESS! The market is driven 90% by perception: hunches, rumors, intuition. Without calculated risk the markets wouldn't work. The fact that so many people got rich over the last decade with these instruments is because no one had any idea what was really going on! In the end it was a miserable failure, but it sure was great while it was good, right?
If we want to get out of this mess quickly, I think a certain amount of mystery and opacity is crucial. As I've argued before, all that really needs to happen to get the economy to recover is investors need to be led to believe that it will in fact recover, and we'll get the snowball rolling again.
Ha! Terrible analogy. But probably appropriate.
New MacBook's announced today.. I'm extremely skeptical of the glass touchpad. I love the iPhone, but I can't stand using it for a long period of time. Sliding my finger around on a greasy glass surface starts to get tiring after a while. My fingers get tired and my wrists get sore if I use the iPhone for more than 15-20 minutes at a time... Without a rough surface beneath my finger I'm concerned the glass touchpad on the MacBook will be a similar experience.
They've also gone to all-glass displays... no matte finish anymore. As a programmer, I *loath* glass screens. Sure they look great for video games, Photoshop and video editing, but text editing is hard on your eyes for any reasonable duration of time. I can't tolerate them.
I'm waiting for Apple to re-release the old PowerBook G4 12" with an Intel Duo and 9600M video.. I wonder if someone can gut mine and do the upgrade for me.. :)
UPDATE: I finally got a chance to go hands-on with the new MacBook Pro. The touchpad, to my pleasant surprise, doesn't suck. I could definitely get used to it.
The display however... glossy finish... I couldn't get used to that. :-/
"Martial law in America"
This is what we were told would happen if the government did not step in to bail out the lending markets. But all we've seen so far is a crisis of confidence, and a few banks that over leveraged themselves have either gone bankrupt or have been swallowed up by bigger banks. Am I naive to think that these aren't necessarily bad things to have happened? Where's the disaster? (I think Fanny/Freddie was a special case due to the legal framework they were built under; the government did the right thing by nationalizing them).
Yea, I've lost a lot of money these last couple of weeks. My retirement accounts have plummeted.. but they'll come back. And hopefully on the up swing I'll make it back plus some. Optimism? :-)
I don't consider myself to be a "free market fundamentalist"--I do believe that certain types of regulation are essential to keeping a free market a fair market. But everyone now seems to be calling for more regulation. Isn't the market performing on itself right now the ultimate self regulation? Organizations that made bad investments are being punished by their shareholders pulling out their shares. Unfortunately, organizations that didn't make bad investments need to operate in the same market as organizations that did, so they're being dragged down with them... But that's not necessarily a bad thing, it means for investors there are some real deals to be had right now on the stock market!
At this point my belief is the only thing the government needs to do is encourage more transparency in the markets. Companies that created these complicated mortgage-backed securities, leveraged instruments, etc., need to expose to their investors what they're doing. You could argue that they didn't even know what they were doing, but after this crisis people are gonna be on the look-out for these types of convoluted instruments and will be a lot more skeptical of them.
There have been comments coming from across the globe by various world leaders admonishing the US for "creating" the current financial crisis. Excuse me? A huge portion of this country's stocks are owned by foreign organizations! If you don't like our markets you don't have to invest in them! I actually think the rest of the world's markets crashing has more to do with the US trade deficit with these nations than it does with anything we did within the US. A lot of nations put their exports all in one basket..
I tuned in to the Vice Presidential debate tonight but had to watch it with the sound muted--sometimes the sound from the TV upsets my 2 month old son. Watching a political event with closed-captioning and the sound off is an entirely different experience than with the sound on..
Immediately I was struck by how strange Sarah Palin's speech read over closed-captioning. It was filled with sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and awkward topic changes. It was very challenging to try and figure out what point she was trying to make. It read like she was jacked up on caffeine and/or extremely nervous.
After about 15 minutes I started to wonder if the person typing in the closed-captioning was biased--were they making Palin read worse than she sounded? Were they intentionally dropping words or periods to make it read like she was a babbling idiot? Are the deaf hearing our candidates through a biased closed-caption writer??? I had to un-mute the debate for a moment and hear for myself.
To my profound astonishment, I discovered that Sarah Palin sounded worse un-muted than she did over the closed-captioning. The person doing the closed-captioning was actually doing her a tremendous favor: In many cases they were actually completing her sentences or omitting repeated statements she made in her dialog. Although while reading the closed-captioning it was a challenge to decipher the point she was trying to make, you could find some context in her words, whereas in her verbal speech I felt like I was being talked-over by a sports announcer desperate to avoid dead air.
Un-muted the sentence fragments and rambling-on kind-of works for her, in sort-of a "I'm George W. Bush and I have invented-ed new words" kind-of way. (I just made up a new tense of "invent" right there). You interpret the rambling as coming from someone who's "Down to Earth" and has a "Nice Personality." For some people I'm sure they identify with it, because that's how most of us sound when put into a stressful situation.
But over closed-captioning, she sounds like a babbling idiot.