Thursday, January 31, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
The free market will be efficient only if correct information is readily available to all players in the market. The trouble in the financial markets today is that good information is not available.
From The New York Times...trust in much of the financial system — banks, brokerage houses, ratings agencies, bond insurers, regulators — has been severely damaged by the subprime mortgage crisis...
One of the more disturbing aspects of the current woes, and a reason that this crisis is unfolding in slow motion, is the inability of these sophisticated institutions to assign accurate values to their holdings...Firms have had difficulty computing their losses because the securities central to this mess are complex, even incomprehensible...Investors who bought these securities clearly did not know what they were buying; they relied on credit rating agencies like Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings to tell them whether their stakes were risky or not. But the rating agencies were disastrously wrong in their risk assessments and spent late 2007 downgrading securities they had recently rated as solidly AAA....
“The financial markets have become more and more opaque and so we don’t know enough about where the weaknesses are and what the magnitude of those weaknesses may be,” Mr. Kaufman said. “So far the Federal Reserve and other supervisory authorities have done little about removing the opaqueness and setting new ground rules for financial disclosure. And I have not heard a call from Congress for an investigation where it will ask the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal and state banking regulators, ‘What did you miss and why did you miss it?’ ”
Certainly, greater disclosure of the risks in these complex securities and the institutions that hold them is in order. And investors must be confident that the values assigned to these holdings reflect market reality. So far, no one has come up with a plan to correct these market shortcomings.
We cannot say that the market by itself "understood" the need for transparency. It is after all the largest market players that created this mess.
Governments are instituted to protect our "God-given" rights. They are also instituted to create the "free" market.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Chris Matthews, a.k.a. "Tweety" has serious issues.
Matthews has claimed: "[T]he reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around." John McCain's political career got started after he left his first wife for a wealthy and politically connected heiress, married her, and ran for Congress. But Chris Matthews doesn't suggest that the reason McCain is a "U.S. senator ... a candidate for president ... a front-runner" is that he "messed around." Even Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said Matthews' comments about Clinton went too far: "I mean, it's rough business what these people over there [at MSNBC] are doing. We don't do that here. We would never say that Senator Clinton got her job because her husband messed around. I mean, that is -- that is a personal attack. And it is questionable whether a network should allow that or not."Matthews periodically gets it into his head that the most important question in the world is whether Bill Clinton will be a "distraction" or whether he will "behave himself." He badgers Clinton aides about the question and warns that Bill Clinton "better watch it." He asks if Clinton will be a "good boy" or be guilty of "misbehavior." Matthews is not so subtly referring to Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. But curiously, he doesn't have the same concerns about McCain or about Rudy Giuliani, as I wrote nearly a year ago.
Think about this for a second: Chris Matthews is holding it against Hillary Clinton that her husband cheated on her. But he doesn't hold it against John McCain and Rudy Giuliani that they cheated on their spouses. Matthews seems to think women are to blame when their husbands have affairs -- and men who cheat on their spouses are blameless.
Friday, January 18, 2008
John Edwards: $7 Million Dollars In One Day - Make It Happen
Help John Edwards, our most progressive candidate $7 million on one day!
Contribute on Friday, January 18, 2008.
PS: making this post "sticky".
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s premier military intelligence agency has lost control of some of the networks of Pakistani militants it has nurtured since the 1980s, and is now suffering the violent blowback of that policy, two former senior intelligence officials and other officials close to the agency say.
Actually, the militant networks were started in the mid-70s; Pakistan was cultivating Hekmatyar, Rabbani and Massoud even before the Soviet invasion of Pakistan. The purpose was first to gain influence in Afghanistan, to quash some of Pakistan's restive minorities, and later to wage a war of thousand cuts against India.
As long as the West, in particular America, had a friendly general in charge in Pakistan, it connived at, and if not aided directly, aided indirectly via money and material to the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies the growth of these militant (really - terrorist, but why quibble over euphemisms when reality is so visibly ugly) networks. America's partner in this crime was Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile the West preached equal-equal, accomodation with terrorists and sang of human rights to India.
Then 9/11, the Madrid and London bombings happened, and suddenly "Islamofascism" was a problem. For the West. Suddenly Pakistan is seen as a dangerous place. The savior, of course, is yet another general. Years of warnings by Iranian, Afghan, Pakistani liberals and by leaders of India were unheeded, that sustaining these networks is holding a tiger by the tail.
"Militants out of control" is one of the rare admissions that the most valued non-NATO ally Pakistan was all along a state sponsor of terrorism.
That India has to live in peace with neighbors such as Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and with some 150 million Muslims of its own, of which some tiny fraction can be incited into "militancy" also never occurs to the West. The Western sponsorship of Muslim militancy makes that very difficult. That constant unpunished "militancy" will provoke a countermilitancy among India's non-Muslims is never considered. Always it is India should swallow its losses and shut up, and remain a liberal, tolerant society.
The irony is that Americans are more abjectly afraid terrorist attacks than Indians ever have been. The world has to deal with the insecure, bullying, cowering superpower.
The veil slips but only temporarily. The Western policymakers and opinionmakers will go back to figuring out how to prop up Pakistan's latest dictator who will of course be given full aid to keep the "militant" networks going, except hopefully, aimed only at the right victims.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
PS: BCCI is linked to this as well. (Remember BCCI?)
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Glenn Greenwald wonders if anyone will pay attention.
Given the track record of the Democratic Congress and of the mainstream media, the answer is simple - No!