Plans are moving apace to purposely set up a "toxic bank" full of poisonous assets to further bail out those banks that had greedily and recklessly accumulated them.
Call it Shitibank. And give it the naming rights to the new baseball stadium for the New York Mets, taking the moniker away from toxic Citibank.
No joke. As Ground Zero reminds us of 9/11, ShitiField would serve as a monument to the global financial meltdown caused by New Yorkers. ShitiField would remind us to burst any future Wall Street bubbles before they blow up in our faces.
And, once the toxic bank is up and running, we proles can move our non-existent pension money to it. But don't count on driving a new Nissan to the new bank: Even if you could afford to buy one, Nissan can't afford to keep its factories open to manufacture one.
What's really going to happen this week sounds just as far-fetched, but it's not: Many investors on Wall Street don't want the market to recover. They want it to hit bottom so they can start buying shares and companies again.
Bigwig Ray Dalio of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates tells Barron's:
Meanwhile, corporate welfare is humming along, as government's sudden socialists are coming to the rescue of capitalism. Heartwarming, especially for the likes of Nissan, which, as the Wall Street Journal reports, plans to "seek government assistance from Japan, the U.S. and elsewhere."
And now the rescue plan for America calls for a combination of the toxic bank and encouragement by the government for hedge funds to profit from the grief by expanding their investments (instead of the government's clawing back ill-gained profits from hedge funds). And don't worry about Wall Street's top execs: All the scoldings by President Barack Obama won't stop them from making their big bucks. See? The free-market system does work.
At least we know that defense contractors will make it through the depression in good shape. Bibi Netanyahu is about to reclaim control of Israel, and that will signal that, as the BBC reports, "Israel is shifting to the right" and, as the Daily News says, "a harder line is coming with Israel's Arab neighbors."
Could the line get any harder, you ask?
While you're investing in weapons makers or just waiting to pour your money back into the market or snap up some ailing companies, click on these...
NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
Seeking Alpha: 'U.S. Government vs. the Stock Market'
N.Y. Times: 'Applications Surge at Cooper Union'
Newsday: 'Explore LI: Pamper your pooch'
Wall Street Journal: 'Bailout Revamp Could Use Private Bank for Bad Assets'
Wall Street Journal: 'Bank Bailout Plan Revamped'
N.Y. Post: 'E. HARLEM FIRE DEATH'
Wall Street Journal: 'Saks Upended Luxury Market'
N.Y. Daily News: 'One BIG question remains: Who ratted out Alex Rodriguez?'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Netanyahu: the Golan Heights 'will remain in our hands'
N.Y. Daily News: 'GOP's losses just might save party, says Lazio'
Jewish Daily Forward: 'Jewish Charities Look to Stimulus Bill To Stave Off Cuts'
Crain's New York Business: 'Parents question mayor's math'
Wall Street Journal: 'U.S. Weighs Fed Program to Loosen Lending'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Mike to GOP: Miss me, baby?'
Wall Street Journal: 'Pay Collars Won't Hold Back Wall Street's Big Dogs'
N.Y. Post: 'RAGING PENSION FIRE'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Bloody mob chop shop could become school bus depot'
Wall Street Journal: 'Soaring Job Losses Drive Stimulus Deal'
New Yorker: 'Can We Transform the Auto-Industrial Society?'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Final nails in coffin for city welfare burial fund'
Wall Street Journal: 'Railing Against the Rich: A Great American Tradition'
Crain's New York Business: 'NYC, London vie for the bottom'
Wall Street Journal: 'Summers Crafts Broad Role in Reshaping Economy'
To try to counter the sickening economic news, remember another horror story that actually had a happy ending.
Sully Sullenberger knows what "sickening" feels like, although his voice in the above cockpit recording doesn't reveal it. Now, Sully is talking in detail about his astounding, life-saving jet landing on January 15 in the Hudson River, as the Post reports this morning:
And now for some bad news that only seems unbelievable...
NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
N.Y. Times: 'In the Red, Toyota Sees Loss Tripling'
N.Y. Daily News: 'N.Y.C. so costly you need to earn six figures to make middle class'
N.Y. Daily News: 'More soldiers committed suicide in January than killed by Al Qaeda'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Butt-grabbing pervert strikes for 5th time in Gramercy Park'
Wall Street Journal: 'Anti-Arab Israeli Party Surges'
N.Y. Observer: 'New York's Stimulus Take: At Least $41 Billion'
N.Y. Times: 'Pakistani Nuclear Scientist Set Free'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Does New Jersey smell? Just ask the folks who live there...'
N.Y. Post: 'UNIFORMLY ABSURD'
N.Y. Post: '"CUT!" & RUN LOOMS: NY OUT OF FILM LURE$'
Wall Street Journal: 'When People Stop Moving, So Do Congressional Seats'
Seeking Alpha: 'The Next American Revolution: Main Street vs. Wall Street'
Wall Street Journal: 'Toyota Flags $3.84 Billion Full-Year Loss'
N.Y. Post: 'MIKE SCOFFS AT ELEX-CASH CAP'
Wall Street Journal: 'Deutsche Bank Fallen Trader Left Behind $1.8 Billion Hole'
N.Y. Times: 'In New York City, an Aromatic Mystery Solved'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Judge might toss damning evidence against Barry Bonds'
N.Y. Post: 'BABY MAMA OUT FITTY MIL'
Seeking Alpha: 'Why Are the Fed and Treasury Working Against Each Other?'
Seeking Alpha: 'Sleepwalking to Economic Oblivion'
Wall Street Journal: 'Nations Rush to Establish New Barriers to Trade'
N.Y. Post: 'SPITZER GAL BARES EXEC HO $CANDAL'
Wall Street Journal: 'Obama Turns Up Heat, Slams GOP Ideas'
Wall Street Journal: 'Panetta Hearing Focuses on Bush-Era CIA Challenges'
Wall Street Journal: 'U.S. Presses Europe for Aid in Afghanistan Amid Political Chill With Russia'
Almost lost amid the usual knee-jerk preaching to the choir that is the 21st century Nation are a couple of excellent stories — one of them scolds Barack Obama for relying on such dubious characters as economist/erstwhile Harvard prexy Larry Summers, and the other roasts Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League.
In "Never Say You're Sorry," Christopher Hayes points out the clay feats of Obama economic-world appointees Summers and Gary Gensler.
In "The Defamation League," Eric Alterman takes Foxman to task for the latter's astonishing blast at Bill Moyers, who had the audacity to suggest that Palestinians are people, too. (See Foxman's rip and Moyers's response.)
Really juicy in Alterman's piece is this passage:
Hmmm...Kristol has exited the Times's op-ed page. He probably wanted to pursue other opportunities.
Hayes's lively piece on Obama's appointees even throws in a couple of apt sports metaphors. More importantly, Hayes dredges up some valuable history regarding both Gensler and Summers.
In doing so, he doesn't spare the Clinton Administration from its disastrous destruction of the Glass-Steagall Act, a strict banking law from the last Depression that, had it remained in place, would probably have prevented Wall Street from creating the current Depression.
Also see Frontline's "The Long Demise of Glass-Steagall."
You may have seen the PDF version of the latest list of Bernie Madoff's human and corporate victims. If not, check it out.
See my colleague Roy Edroso's riff on the list. I'm trying to post a text version of the entire roster of willing suckers, but our server is gagging on the size. Anyone have a Bloomberg machine? May I borrow it? May the SEC borrow it?
Good for the New York Times! Always trying to take a broad view (even when one doesn't exist, as Jack Shafer often points out), the paper weighs in on how the plight of Bernie Madoff's white-haired victims gives us valuable insights about the global meltdown with this morning's "Fossils of Largest Snake Give Hint of Hot Earth."
Good info that the "prehistoric snake" was "a giant relative of today's boa constrictors." The elderly Madoff wasn't the first, nor will he be the last, snake to swallow your money. Wall Street is really is a dangerous place, even for celebrities — see the latest list of Madoff's victims.
Madoff whistleblower Harry Markopolos's testimony yesterday on Capitol wasn't quite as colorful, but the bookish-yet-tigerish accountant was pretty damn intense, as I previously noted.
Among other fascinating details, Markopolos told the dazed House members that he planned to deliver to the SEC today a "mini-Madoff." The agency is sure to accept this silver platter with respect and care.
While I wait for my manservant to dress me, I'll also point out that the Times story "Daschle's Ambitions Collided, Friends Say" does little more than say what I already said yesterday. The Times was more polite.
Please click on these items. Pretty please...
NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
N.Y. Post: 'BANKS' MONEY WELL SPENT'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Twins' rage: Coward could never face our father'
Wall Street Journal: 'Forget Golf: Street Junkets Get Junked'
Financial Crisis Update: 'SEC Official Endorses Central Counterparty for Credit Default Swaps as Global Consensus Grows'
N.Y. Times: 'Daschle's Ambitions Collided, Friends Say'
N.Y. Times: 'Science Found Wanting in Nation's Crime Labs'
N.Y. Post: 'ON WALL STREET: WHO COULD LIVE ON $500K?'
Wall Street Journal: 'Study: 9/11 Lung Problems Persist Years Later'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Cops on hunt for suspect in brutal rape in East Harlem laundromat'
N.Y. Times: 'Boo Hoo in the Boardroom'
Wall Street Journal: 'Faith-Based Program Gets Wider Focus'
N.Y. Post: 'AMAZIN' AMBUSH! SHAMSKY'S ANGRY EX POUNCES'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Cheney: Beware nukes'
Wall Street Journal: 'Gaza's Isolation Slows Rebuilding Efforts'
N.Y. Daily News: 'The great Big Apple sports broadcaster debate'
N.Y. Post: 'SMOKING FEATHER OF FLIGHT 1549'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Lehman judge charged with hitting wife gets lawyer'
U.S. News & World Report: '5 Things to Know About Whistleblowing'
Whistleblower Lawyer Blog: 'Whistleblower Protections Added to Economic Stimulus Bill Passed by House'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Photo gallery: Madoff's victims'
N.Y. Post: 'DIVORCEE BIDS TO 'EX'-TEND MADOFF PAIN'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Car dealer hopes to say, "I Madoff with 100G"'
N.Y. Daily News: 'GM Omar Minaya says Mets will not go after Manny Ramirez'
After only part of this morning's House hearing starring Harry Markopolos, there's little doubt that Bernie Madoff's true identity is Dr. Evil.
What else can one think when House members wondered aloud whether there are "mini-Madoffs" or "medium-size Madoffs" lurking in the Wall Street wastelands.
Markopolos answered in the affirmative and said he plans to "deliver a mini-Madoff to the SEC tomorrow," adding, "Hopefully they listen to me this time."
The House Financial Services Committee members agreed that this time the SEC will probably listen to Markopolos. There's no hint, however, of who Markopolos is talking about.
A mini-Madoff! Like Mini-Me! Cool!
But speaking of Dr. Evil, Markopolos also pointed out (as I and some others have) that Wall Street's fraudsters couldn't pull off their schemes without Mayor Mike Bloomberg's proprietary sophisticated hardware/software machines.
There's no other way, many say, to conjure up the increasingly sophisticated financial instruments that ruined Wall Street and will no doubt ruin it again during the next bubble.
Bloomberg is supposedly the biggest philanthropist in America; he got the money from the sale of his machines on Wall Street.
Which leads to the question: How could Mayor Bloomberg not have known the various nefarious uses to which his machines could be put? Of course he knows.
Which leads to this: Wall Street's meltdown happened on his watch, and it was created by his pals — his customers — at the Street's big banks. So why didn't he stop it or at least see the signs of an impending disaster?
If not him, who? If not then, why not?
And now he wants another mayoral term to keep our streets supposedly safe when the only street he knows — Wall Street — has become the most dangerous stretch of pavement in the country?
Markopolos didn't make that point, but he did say that the SEC operates at a tremendous disadvantage in trying to understand the complex schemes of the Street's white-shoed gangsters by not having nearly enough Bloomberg terminals. Give the SEC more Bloomberg terminals, he told the House panel, because the fraudsters and scamsters have them.
Wild-eyed Harry also has a beef with the press: He contended that a Wall Street Journal reporter (whom he didn't name) was very interested three years ago and was willing to fly to Boston to meet with Markopolos but that the reporter's editors were scared off by Madoff's power and reputation and nixed it. (For more on that, see Gary Weiss's post on Seeking Alpha.)
Treated with extreme deference, Markopolos is surely one of the most brash witnesses to testify on Capitol Hill in quite a while. And well-prepared — browse his lengthy (but entertaining) written testimony if you can't wait for the sound bites later today.
Of course, he can back it up, having warned a decade before Madoff confessed to his sons that Bernie was a fraudster.
At least, Markopolos can back it up for now. His hubris, his zealotry, his sense of certainty — they make you wonder whether Markopolos, like Madoff's scheme, is too good to be true.
Anyway, Markopolos's halo — or is it his intense eyes? — cast an eerie glow for now on the scene of perhaps capitalism's all-time worst disaster.
California Democrat Brad Sherman noted that Markopolos isn't just some "wild-eyed populist." Sherman was half-right. Markopolos is definitely wild-eyed — he has the look and tone of a zealot — but he's also the staunchest defender of capitalism one could imagine, and that includes Ayn Rand.
And imaginative, too. Markopolos raised the intriguing notion that retired Wall Street bigwigs, people with little or no hair, as he put it, should be hired by the SEC to replace the young whippersnappers who now infest the agency's lower ranks.
Markopolos reasons that veterans won't have to do it for the money, because they've already made theirs and that they would be foxes able to sniff out the rotten eggs in the henhouse.
This probably won't happen, unless these Wall Street veterans are suddenly imbued with that sense of civic responsibility that Barack Obama mentioned in his inaugural address.
In what's obviously a P.R. move, Citigroup says it's looking into pulling out of a $400 million marketing deal with the New York Mets.
Here's the current situation: Citigroup is supposedly on the hook to pay $400 million to the Mets for the naming rights to the unwarranted new stadium. Meanwhile, Citigroup, which has reported $28.5 billion in net losses since 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal, received a $45 billion bailout last fall from Henry Paulson's Wall Street giveaway TARP program.
Here's a better idea: Make the bank stay in the ill-fated scheme it can no longer afford, but force it pay the $400 million to the public — not the Mets — to help offset the billions in bailout money the public's already given the bank.
You're going to point out that the Mets would howl at having to give up that $400 million? Of course, but the team should have no reason to bitch. As my indefatigable stadium-expert colleague and Field of Schemes author Neil deMause pointed out January 14 on Runnin' Scared, the public's paying for $371.5 million of the new stadium.
So make the team give us back our money.
Of course, neither the team nor Citigroup will reimburse us. But it doesn't hurt to suggest it.
And don't think it's cynical to call this Citigroup maneuver to supposedly try to pull out of the naming deal a P.R. move. This morning's Journal story starts off with the idea that the bank is "eager to quell the controversy over how lenders are using government bailout money." The story adds:
Such liars the bank officials are. Technically they wouldn't be directly transferring TARP money to the Mets to pay for the stadium rights, but so what? Same public funds, different pocket.
Meanwhile, what a shrewd marketing move for the Mets: Name your team after the bank that's laying off thousands of people and getting bailed out by taxpayers who are so beleaguered that they can't even afford tickets to the games.
Speaking of naming rights that didn't cost us anything (at least for the names): Paulson's top aide at handing out the bailout money, Neel Kashkari, and the scamster named Bernie who made off with billions of other people's money.
Further proof of the schizophrenic media culture: Despite the widespread political correctness that infects discourse on numerous topics, Governor David Paterson keeps getting hammered because his eyes don't work right.
Israel's ever-increasing crackdown on Arabs (the most ludicrous new idea is an Israeli-controlled 30-mile-long tunnel connecting Arab enclaves ) is the apartheid that dares not speak its name — at least most of the U.S. media don't dare speak of it.
But Paterson continues to get blistered because of his bad eyesight, which he can't help and which, after all, doesn't make him a more hapless and mediocre accidental governor.
As the Post says this morning:
Nothing personal, but what Paterson fails to see is that the state loses far more gelt by not taxing hedge fund goniffs' pay.
Check out "NYC hedge fund profits show tax system flaw--study," a Reuters story from last April that noted:
Now see these stories...
NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
N.Y. Daily News: 'Sky dive horror for newbie as instructor dies mid-jump'
N.Y. Post: 'TAX HIKES ON WEALTHY BAD FOR STATE: GOV'
Bloomberg: 'Macy's Slashes 7,000 Jobs'
N.Y. Daily News: 'President Obama: If stimulus fails, I'm out in 4 years'
Crain's New York Business: 'Longer notice now needed for layoffs in NY'
N.Y. Post: 'SUPER SULLY: I WAS PLANE NERVOUS INSIDE'
New Yorker: 'The Financial Page Hazardous Materials?' (James Surowiecki)
Wall Street Journal: 'Shoe Thrower Targets Wen At Cambridge'
Wall Street Journal: 'Citi Explores Mets Deal Exit'
Wall Street Journal: 'Policy Makers Weigh Derivatives Oversight'
Atlantic: 'The Man in the Middle'
Wall Street Journal: 'Lobbyists Raise Stimulus Price Tag'
Wall Street Journal: 'Iraq Waste Repeated in Afghanistan'
Jewish Daily Forward: 'Barak: Build Tunnel Linking West Bank and Gaza'
New York Review of Books: 'Google & the Future of Books'
N.Y. Post: 'SI RACIST GUILTY'
New York Review of Books: 'How We Were Ruined & What We Can Do'
Wall Street Journal: 'Aggrieved Investors Turn Sights to Banks'
Wall Street Journal: 'Madoff Victims Find Support'
You won't see edgy Bernie Madoff-related work like this in U.S. mainstream papers, but New York's own Jewish Daily Forward, as always, is up to the task of covering Jewish politics and news with a minimum of politically correct tiptoeing.
Above, an excerpt from Eli Valley's "The Shonda!" in the Forward.
Valley, sort of the Jewish version of R. Crumb, touts his work as "Ethnocentric Parochialism for the Whole Family!"
For more Madoff-related news that's not of the cartoonish persuasion, go to the end of this post for my daily Gelt Trip aggregation.
But first, please note that Barack Obama isn't being so politically correct either. Now in charge of a generally conservative country long dominated by profligate financiopaths, the nation's first black president is chewing out Wall Street bankers and generally acting like some kind of goldurned liberal.
Watch your back, my brother. And tell the Secret Service to do the same.
NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
N.Y. Times: 'Senators Approve Health Bill for Children'
N.Y. Daily News: '23,000 JOBS FACE AXE'
N.Y. Daily News: 'Not again! 4-year-old disabled boy abandoned on bus'
N.Y. Post: 'O SENDS ANGRY ME$$AGE'
N.Y. Daily News: '15 yrs. for ma who killed, dumped baby'
N.Y. Times: 'Few Ways to Recover Bonuses to Bankers'
Wall Street Journal: 'U.S. Eyes Two-Part Bailout for Banks'
N.Y. Post: 'THREE CANDIDATES KILLED AS ELECTION NEARS'
N.Y. Times: 'On His Way Out, Blagojevich Makes a Day of It'
N.Y. Post: 'EX-COP SUIT IS FLUSHED'
N.Y. Post: 'ELIOT'S MADAM GETS 6 MONTHS'
Brooklyn Paper: 'City budget whiz says Bruce's Yards deal needs retooling'
N.Y. Post: 'DOORMAN'S COURAGE'
Wall Street Journal: 'Gaza Tensions Erupt At Davos Session'
N.Y. Times: 'Bloomberg Will Seek Increase in Sales Taxes'
N.Y. Times: '"Mourning" the M and R Subway Lines'
Wall Street Journal: 'Europe Basks as U.S.-Style Capitalism Draws Fire'
N.Y. Times: 'Springsteen Promises High-Energy Halftime Show'
N.Y. Times: '2 Banks to Send Madoff Trustee $535 Million'
Vos Iz Neias?: 'Manhattan Banks Find $500M in Madoff Accounts'
Jewish Daily Forward: 'Madoff's Lawyer Plays Both Sides of the Court'
Wall Street Journal: 'Ex-Merrill Executives Got Burned by Madoff'
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