When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do? -- John Maynard Keynes

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

America Not the Greatest Country Any Longer? (video)

Beginning scene of the new HBO series The Newsroom explaining why America's Not the Greatest Country Any Longer... 


Monday, July 30, 2012

Google Moves Motorola Mobility to Chicago

Good to see Google move Motorola Mobility's headquarters from the suburbs back to Chicago's business district--and a fine building--the Merchandise Mart:

Motorola Mobility Moving to Chicago's Merchandise Mart | NBC Chicago: "Motorola Mobility is getting a new address, and that address is getting about 3,000 new employees. The Libertyville-based division of Motorola, which recently merged with Google, will move to Chicago's Merchandise Mart. The wireless company will occupy the top four floors and the roof of the Mart, totaling about 600,000 square feet. The lease is for 15 years. Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday called the move "a game-changer" and said Chicago is rising as the digital tech capital of the Midwest. "It could have been Illinois versus California or the far east," Emanuel said during a sit-down interview in his office before the official announcement. "It's not Chicago verus suburbs. It's Chicago and Illinois versus other cities and other states around the world, and we have a huge advantage, and if we focus on our advantages and build on our strengths, there'll be more companies like Google who will decide to locate their operations and headquarters here." The city didn't provide any financial incentive for the move . . . "we’re thrilled to bring our employees to downtown Chicago and infuse our company with the vibrant energy of the city," CEO Dennis Woodside said in a statement. "We’re 84 years young, and what better place to continue our commitment to the state, honor our heritage, recruit top talent and usher in a new era of wireless innovation than in the historic Merchandise Mart." Employees will transition from Libertyville to Chicago over the next year, and none will remain in Libertyville, Woodside said, according to Crain's Chicago Business. The company is looking for an alternate use for its Libertyville space but has made no decisions yet, he said. . . . Google's Chicago offices, on Kinzie Street in the River North neighborhood, were too small to accommodate Motorola Mobility's full staff, Woodside told the Chicago Tribune. In addition, the company needed extensive space for engineering labs." 


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Election 2012 -- all bets are off

The election for President of the United States is now only 3 months away (hard to believe--August, September, October).  And what do we have? Two flawed, imperfect candidates, neither of whom is really "up to the job." So Americans are going to be faced with the prospect of choosing "the lesser of two evils." Besides the flaws of each candidate, it is now obvious the campaign staffs of Obama and Romney, respectively, are among each candidate's greatest liabilities. I've already written about the "wannabe Chicago street thugs" culture, language and values of the Obama campaign and National Democratic Party, so I am not going to repeat that here.

On the other hand, while Romney's staff's shortcomings have been noticeable throughout the past year, they have become glaring on Romney's trip abroad:

Romney's disastrous 'European Vacation' - CSMonitor.com: "Mr. Romney’s “European Vacation” hasn’t culminated in the destruction of Stonehenge (yet). But already, the candidate is rivaling actor Chevy Chase in his clueless ability to insult and offend. . . . in an interview with Brian Williams of NBC News, Romney suggested that London wasn’t prepared for the Olympic Games, citing concerns about logistics and security."

Everybody knows Romney is a really "rich guy" (Obama's campaign keeps wasting its money on ads telling us this over and over--get "over it!"). The real problem with Romney being a "rich guy" has nothing to do with his financial advisers, trustees, estate planners, tax accountants, tax lawyers, etc., setting up sophisticated (and completely legal) accounts offshore to take advantage of tax provisions passed by Congress and regulations issued by the IRS. The problem with Romney being a "rich guy" is that "rich guys" often convince themselves they know everything (after all they made "all this money" so that proves they know "everything!"). "Rich guys" rarely have people around them who tell them regularly, and convincingly, they don't know everything--wives are an exception (which is another reason Mitt and Barack--yeah he's now a "rich guy" multimillionaire too, just not as "rich" as Mitt--need their respective wives, Michelle and Ann, more than they need them).

Job #1 of any campaign staff and campaign manager, is first to know their own candidate inside out--his strengths, his weaknesses, his vision, his blindspots, etc. A trip abroad for a presidential candidate is not a hard task. It is essentially an opportunity to get some campaign video footage of the candidate "meeting and greeting" various foreign officials in foreign capitals. It is a worthwhile thing to do to assure both the international community and voters here at home that the candidate can represent the U.S., as its President, in the international arena.

Trip preparation by the campaign staff requires, at a minimum, a serious fifteen-minute conversation with the candidate before he departs, of the "do's and don'ts" while abroad--smile, shake hands, say as little as possible publicly other than general pleasantries, be positive, don't criticize--these people don't want or need advice or opinions from some U.S. Presidential wannabe! Private conversations with foreign officials are fine--but keep them private. See, it really isn't rocket science. This is all part of the art of appearing and being Presidential--and despite his shortfalls in other areas, Barack Obama has demonstrated he knows how to do this, whereas Mitt Romney has utterly failed in his first international test--London.

London--probably the most American-friendly foreign capital city in the world--today is a multi-cultural megalopolis that serves not only as the capital of the United Kingdom but is the world's financial center. Just this year, the U.S. corporate giant, AON, moved its world headquarters from Chicago to London and re-incorporated in England (interesting that the mainstream media reported very little on this change of "citizenship" compared to the hullabaloo over Facebook's Eduardo Saverin decision to leave the U.S. and establish citizenship in Singapore.)

Anyway, Mitt Romney either never had that "do's and don'ts conversation" or promptly forgot it once he arrived in London (campaign staff are supposed to continually remind a candidate of the "do's and don'ts").  Mitt Romney, being a "rich guy" (who knows everything and who once ran the winter olympics) presumed it was his place to pontificate, critique, and opine on matters (such as preparations for the 2012 London Olympics) having nothing to do with issues confronting the U.S.

What happened next is a lesson Mitt Romney will never forget. It was a classic one-two punch that leveled the presumptive Republican nominee straight to the mat. First punch came from the British press who circled, like sharks (ask poor Rupert Murdoch--a newspaperman himself--about the British press), the unknowing prey and publicized all of his inappropriate pontifications and opinions:

"Romneyshambles" quips The Independent. "Who invited party-pooper Romney?" asks the conservative, and generally pro-American, Daily Mail. And The Sun, as always, is the pithiest; "Mitt the Twit" is its headline. (Source: The Economist)

That, of course, set Mitt up for the second, knock-out punch--promptly delivered by British politicians:

Prime Minister (and leader of the Conservative Party) David Cameron: "We are holding an Olympic games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course, it's easier if you hold an Olympic games in the middle of nowhere(referring of course to Romney's winter Olympics in Salt Lake City).

Boris Johnson, mayor of London, mocked Romney, telling a Hyde Park crowd: "There's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready?"

Finally, the Economist reports: "The most biting remarks came from anonymous officials. The Daily Mail quotes one mandarin as saying: "What a car crash. We are speechless." While the unkindest cut of all came from a "diplomatic source" in The Times: "It is worse than Sarah Palin in terms of basic diplomacy.""

So there you have it (and Romney has no one to blame but himself and his campaign staff). So now the election comes down to two choices: Obama--the disappointment; or Romney--the embarassment. Pick your poison.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Barney Frank vs. Maria Bartiromo on CNBC, July 26th

Barney Frank vs. Maria Bartiromo on CNBC, July 26, 2012 - the tape speaks for itself. Frank ends up looking like an ass--a good enough reason to vote Republican.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Copyright Trolls and Counter-suits

Remember Righthaven? It was only a matter of time before other alleged copyright trolls became targets--

Accused Movie Pirate Sues for Defamation and Millions in Damages | TorrentFreak: " . . . Fantalis – who says he never downloaded an adult movie in his life – has chosen to put up a fight and has submitted an elaborate counter-suit. In dozens of pages the accused movie pirate explains how Malibu Media and other “copyright trolls” operate. Fantalis accuses these companies of harassment and extortion and also brings up the fact that the technologies that are used to collect IP-addresses are not fool proof. Fantalis further notes that these copyright trolls show their true nature by not asking websites to remove links to their movies. “If the plaintiff companies were truly concerned about protecting their copyrights and preserving profits thereon, one would expect to see such companies take certain actions once they had the IP-addresses and personal information obtained through their investigations and lawsuits,” he argues. According to Fantalis, Malibu Media and others keep these links alive so they can collect data on more potential copyright infringers. In other words, they are fine with people pirating their movies, as that is their business model. . . . "counterclaim

See also Copyright Trolls | Electronic Frontier Foundation.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Meet the Internet Association

Internet Freedom gets a boost--

Meet the Internet Association: "Details are sparse and hard to come by, but the news is out that an organization called the Internet Association (IA) is being built. According to Reuters, companies backing it include Amazon, Google, eBay, Facebook, and “other big Internet [firms].” That’s a running roster of Internet heavyweights, making the Internet Association, once it launches, the effective face of digital companies. The IA will therefore be the voice of technology firms on issues concerning the Internet. This will provide a more unified front, response, and commentary on regulatory issues that impact technology, among other things. The IA has promised more details concerning itself when it formally launches, in September. According to its website, it is “dedicated to advancing public policy solutions to strengthen and protect an open, innovative and free Internet.”"


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

SkyDrive account suspensions

Came across the following stories which won't stop me from using SkyDrive (which is a great Microsoft cloud service) but I do wonder what exactly caused the SkyDrive account suspensions?

SkyDrive account suspensions prove you can't trust cloud storage | Geek.com: "The issue here is that your personal cloud storage service of choice probably isn’t personal at all. The company providing the storage may monitor content and will likely block access to it without warning if it finds something it doesn’t like. And in the case of Microsoft, that also means you lose other services, too. Such rules cannot apply to an area of personal online storage without some kind of process being in place for the user to review the content deemend unacceptable. Access to other files must also be allowed to continue during a dispute. If a service can’t promise that, then there is no point storing any important files in the cloud because one day you might lose access to them, possibly forever, and never know why. . . . "

SkyDrive brings 1950s censorship to 2012 technology | The Compass Project: "It’s always just a little bit creepy to hear news like this, but WMPoweruser has a story about multiple users who have had their Windows Live accounts suspended over content that was uploaded to their SkyDrive. The recent example that inspired the post was of a user who lost access to his entire Windows Live account, not just SkyDrive. His email, apps, Xbox Live achievements, everything. He had to create a new account and start over. The content that got the user suspended was in a private folder and could not have been accessed by other users. Given just how strict the Windows Live code of conduct is and how much storage space they’ve given away for free, it isn’t hard to imagine that many users will start to run into this problem. Read the first three rules and you might find yourself wanting to double-check the contents of your SkyDrive folder. "


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Penn State: what's next?

photo of removal of Paterno statue
source: drudgereport.com
Drudge captured the essence of the Penn State scandal:

Penn State hit with $60 million fine, banned from bowl games...

... Paterno wins from 1998-2011 vacated

Loses Spot Atop Winningest Coaches... 

Unfortunately the NCAA missed the point of a sick culture, otherwise it would have imposed the death penalty. Compare the Penn State situation to other cases where the death penalty has been imposed--here's an example--the first "death penalty" which was imposed against the University of Kentucky:

"On October 20, 1951, former Kentucky players Alex Groza, Ralph Beard, and Dale Barnstable were arrested for taking bribes from gamblers to shave points during theNational Invitation Tournament game against the Loyola Ramblers in the 1948–49 season.[4] This game occurred during the same year that Kentucky won their second straight NCAA title under Adolph Rupp.[5] Rupp and the university were criticized by the presiding judge, Saul Streit, for creating an atmosphere for the violations to occur and for "failing in his duty to observe the amateur rules, to build character, and to protect the morals and health of his charges" . . . ."

Nevertheless, what's next?  The lawsuits . . .
Penn State could face years of abuse litigation - The Denver Post: "Penn State University could face years of litigation over Jerry Sandusky's abuse of children . . . "


Monday, July 23, 2012

Marissa and Yahoo--it was meant to be

Somehow in this crazy universe, Yahoo's purple was meant to be Marissa Mayer's--here's an excerpt from a story published several years ago:

The adventures of Marissa | Modern Luxury: "She is much livelier than you might imagine, and her clothes are anything but humdrum. For better or worse, Mayer is infatuated with the color purple, and she wears a formfitting deep-purple dress by C.D. Greene with small black mirrors that catch and reflect light. Together with the bedroom’s violet walls—replicated from one of her favorite cashmere sweaters—the look announces her love of eye-poppingly bright colors and Marimekko-type patterns. At 32, the phenomenally brainy and driven Mayer—Google’s first female engineer—has already been on the cover of Newsweek, which called her “one of the most powerful women of her generation.” Among tech insiders, she is well known for her laugh—a nerdy, rapid-fire tat-tat-tat that has been made into a YouTube mashup and is available as a ringtone."

Marissa is now 37--the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Big-time College Sports--a sick culture

Excellent article in the Wall Street Journal about Penn State (excerpts below):

What Penn State Should Tear Down - WSJ.com: "It's not about the statue (of Joe Paterno) . . . Better to bicker over bronze than look into the soul of a scandal—what created a climate on campus in which principles were suspended, leaders declined to lead, and more victims suffered. So much easier to focus tightly on a sculpture than to zoom out and consider the full canvas. Because the full canvas is wider than a coach or a handful of officials or even Penn State. It's an athletic culture gone sick, as college sports has grown into a multibillion-dollar business, distorting standards that bind together healthy societies, and pushing imperfect people atop pedestals. . . . But how did Penn State get to that point?

"Freeh's report found an entire ecosystem built up around the protection of football. It cited Penn State's "excessive focus on athletics" and showed how under Paterno, a football-mad university created its own insular, reality distortion field, one in which to "avoid the consequences of bad publicity," facts were brushed away and concealed. "A culture of reverence for the football program…ingrained at all levels of the campus community," is how the Freeh report described it. . . .  Deep in Freeh's report, there's a road map. "One of the most challenging tasks confronting the University community...is an open, honest, and thorough examination of the culture that underlies the failure of Penn State's most powerful leaders to respond appropriately to Sandusky's crimes." . . . . Let's ask real questions about the human cost of big-time college sports and the submersions of common sense that have to occur to gain entrance to the party. Let's ask if it's all really worth it. That's the hard, uncomfortable work, and it can't just happen at Penn State. . . . "

Saturday, July 21, 2012

IMF predicts slower economic growth for world (video)

Video: IMF predicts slower economic growth for world - Telegraph: " . . . The IMF also warned that the US could fall back into a recession next year if Congress does not deal with the fiscal crisis. Several large tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year and big spending cuts are scheduled to kick in at the same time. Those changes, referred to as the 'fiscal cliff' could cause the US economy to stall next year, the report said. Mr Blanchard said failure to deal with these issues could cut up to 4 percentage points off US growth in 2013. It would also reduce growth in other advanced economies – principally Europe, Canada and Japan – by 1.5 percentage points. "If it were to happen, it would be a major, major event," Mr Blanchard said. Last August, a battle between the Obama administration and Congress over raising the limit was not resolved until the US almost defaulted on its debt. . . "


Friday, July 20, 2012

The "creative pause"

Great article in Fast Company about creativity--and the importance of making time to be "free of distractions" so the creative juices can flow--

Want To Be More Creative? Get Bored | Fast Company: " . . . What the shower and the pool have in common is they’re both places where you’re rarely disturbed, allowing solitary contemplation. The warm water sure doesn't hurt, either. This is all related to a phenomenon that’s been identified by Edward de Bono, the legendary creative thinker. He calls it the "creative pause." In de Bono’s book Serious Creativity, he asserts that even when things are going along, well, swimmingly, "some of the best results come when people stop to think about things that no one else has stopped to think about." Although most people are unaware of the name for it, creative pauses are happening wherever people are solving problems. They occur among harassed CEOs, design directors, and small-business entrepreneurs. The creative pause allows the space for your mind to drift, to imagine and to shift, opening it up to new ways of seeing. There’s just one small problem: The creative pause might soon become a thing of the past. When was the last time you remember being bored? Or even having a moment free from distractions? . . . "

So take some time for some "creative pauses" in your life!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

London -- World Class City (video)

Part 2 of an interesting Special Report video from the Economist on London. Truly a world class city (a/k/a global city, world city, alpha city, world center) -financial centre of the world and more--


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

London - Economist Special Report

Part 1 of an interesting Special Report video from the Economist on London. Truly a world class city (a/k/a a global city, world city, alpha city or world center) -financial centre of the world and more--


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yahoo Appoints Marissa Mayer CEO

Great news for Yahoo, Yahoo's stockholders, employees and users (as well as Marissa Mayer)--

expri.com - technology news: Yahoo! Appoints Marissa Mayer CEO!Yahoo! Appoints Marissa Mayer Chief Executive Officer--July 16, 2012--SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) today announced that it has appointed Marissa Mayer as President and Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Directors effective July 17, 2012. The appointment of Ms. Mayer, a leading consumer internet executive, signals a renewed focus on product innovation to drive user experience and advertising revenue for one of the world's largest consumer internet brands, whose leading properties include Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Sports, Yahoo! Mobile, Yahoo! Mail, and Yahoo! Search.

Mayer said, "I am honored and delighted to lead Yahoo!, one of the internet's premier destinations for more than 700 million users. I look forward to working with the Company's dedicated employees to bring innovative products, content, and personalized experiences to users and advertisers all around the world." . . . Full press release here: http://pressroom.yahoo.net/pr/ycorp/236553.aspx

Yahoo's board of directors are to be congratulated for having the vision to make this brilliant move.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Obama: 'If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen'

OK--this ranks up there with Obama's "the private sector is doing fine" remark a few weeks ago--

PICKET:(VIDEO) Obama: 'If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen' - Washington Times.

That's right--no personal initiative, no sacrificing, no hard work needed to succeed in business--"somebody else made that happen."  And who's that somebody else?  Why the government of course:

Obama: "The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet." (Washington Times)

But didn't Al Gore invent the internet? (LOL)

Seriously, neither Al Gore (who said "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet") nor "the government" can take sole credit for "creating the internet."  The internet, as we know it today, developed over time from a lot of different sources.  Obama should know better--and if he doesn't, he can read this article on Wikipedia which will educate him so he can stop misinforming the public. On thing is indisputable, the internet didn't "take off" until government "got out of the way"--History of the Internet - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The Internet was commercialized in 1995 when NSFNET was decommissioned, removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic."

As far as Obama's position that "If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen"--no wonder the public is so misinformed, even the President is ignorant.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style

I recommend if you're in or going to London:

thumbnail of web image Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style
Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style | Barbican: "The Barbican marks the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise, from 1962's Dr No to this year's Skyfall, with a unique exhibition showcasing the inside story of the design and style of the world's most influential and iconic movie brand."

6 Jul – 5 Sep 2012, 11am – 8pm (Thu until 10pm) Please check availability before visiting. Timed admission is in operation — advance booking is strongly advised. Last admission 90 mins before close. info: http://www.barbican.org.uk/bond/

And for those who can't "make it," here are two videos:

Designing Bond's Look from Barbican Centre on Vimeo.
Here we present a short study into James Bond’s personal style, meeting award winning costume designer, Lindy Hemming; and a handful of bespoke tailors who have been instrumental in shaping and crafting this icon of style over 50 years. https://www.barbican.org.uk/bond/

Designing Bond's World from Barbican Centre on Vimeo.
This film focuses on the creation of the iconic world inhabited by James Bond over 50 years. We spend time with award winning set designer, Sir Ken Adam; as well as Aston Martin’s Head of Design; along with the designers and the makers of the legendary Golden Gun. https://www.barbican.org.uk/bond/

The Barbican marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond with a unique exhibition showcasing the inside story of the design and style of the world’s most influential and iconic movie brand: http://www.barbican.org.uk/bond/


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Obama Running A Very Ugly Campaign

Whether you are for or against the re-election of President Obama, it's now apparent to everyone that he believes the best defense is an offense (since apparently he can't run on his record) and he is going to run a dirty, nasty Chicago-style campaign where the objective is to smear your opponent with false allegations, hire campaign operatives who exhibit "street-thug" values and language, and otherwise engage in "gutter politics." Examples? OK--

Presidential rivals trade charges of lying, Romney demands apology over 'felony' remark | Fox News: "Obama official Stephanie Cutter made the claim following a Boston Globe article that said documents show Romney was in charge at Bain for three years longer than he had claimed. Cutter said Romney was either misrepresenting his position at Bain to the Securities and Exchange Commission, "which is a felony," or misrepresenting to the American people.  Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades issued a blistering statement in response.  "President Obama's campaign hit a new low today when one of its senior advisers made a reckless and unsubstantiated charge to reporters about Mitt Romney that was so over the top that it calls into question the integrity of their entire campaign," Rhoades said. "President Obama ought to apologize for the out-of-control behavior of his staff, which demeans the office he holds. Campaigns are supposed to be hard fought, but statements like those made by Stephanie Cutter belittle the process and the candidate on whose behalf she works.". . .  "

Democrats Hail Supreme Court Decision As A ‘Win,’ While GOP Looks Toward November - ABC News: "Democratic National Committee’s executive director Patrick Gaspard embodied the gleeful mood with this tweet:  "@patrickgaspard: it’s constitutional. Bitches.""

But wait--it gets even worse--including tweets using "motherf-----s" and other foul language.

"Bitches"? "Motherf-----s"? Is this the type of language now commonly used (and therefore deemed appropriate by President Obama) in the White House, the Obama Campaign, and the Democratic National Committee? But then again, Obama and his campaign think they've got "the women's vote" in their pocket (or should one say the bitches' vote?).

Ladies and gents, if you like "ugly," Obama is your man.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Japan - the 'Mother of All Bubbles'

Paul Krugman and other economists think Japan is doing better than the U.S. and others. They better think again--

Japan's Debt Addiction Creating 'Mother of All Bubbles' - Yahoo! Finance: " . . Andy Xie, an independent economist, agrees that Japan's debt situation is not sustainable and that the country is becoming increasingly reliant on foreign capital flows. Even though the yield on 10-year JGBs is less than 1 percent, the interest expense is expected to top 22.3 trillion yen ($280.6 billion) in the current fiscal year, Xie said. "This is one-quarter of the budget," he added. "If the bond yield rises to 2 percent, the interest expense would surpass the total expected tax revenue (this year) of 42.3 trillion yen." Xie added that Japan is caught in a vicious cycle - it needs a strong yen so that yields, and hence interest costs can stay low, but a strong currency kills domestic companies. "A strong yen makes people willing to take on the low yield, people think that by buying into the Japanese yen, they may make (money) on capital gains," Xie said. "But once people realize that a strong yen is really hollowing out the Japanese industry like automakers and electronics firms, there will be a real backlash." Another expert who is worried about high levels of debt is Richard Duncan, Chief Economist of Blackhorse Asset Management, and also the author of "The New Depression: The Breakdown of the Paper Money Economy. . . "


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Anti-foreclosure Laws and Unintended Consequences

Just as the Obamacare disaster and Euromess show, elected officials make laws without considering the "unintended consequences" which will follow.  In the case of anti-foreclosure laws, those states that went down that path now find themselves with lagging real estate markets:

Insight: Evidence suggests anti-foreclosure laws may backfire - Terra USA: " . . . Yet comparisons with nearby Arizona and other states with few barriers to foreclosure suggest that homeowner protection laws can delay a market recovery. At the request of Reuters, RealtyTrac compared three states where borrower protection laws had prolonged foreclosures - Florida, New Jersey and New York - with three with fewer protections and where foreclosure completion times were shorter - Arizona, California and Virginia. In the three states with the shorter delays, the average sale price for foreclosed properties has been trending higher, suggesting a recovery that has underlying strength. In Florida and New Jersey, home prices rose last year as foreclosure activity greatly slowed after the robo-signing scandal. But in the last few months, RealtyTrac says, foreclosure activity has picked up there after a settlement between major banks and the U.S. government over robo-signing - and home values have started to drop. RealtyTrac Vice President Daren Blomquist says the data shows that delaying the foreclosure process in Florida and New Jersey created a mini-bubble, followed by another price drop, and had thus merely prolonged the housing slump in those states. . . ."

It would have been better if the government in those "anti-foreclosure" states had done nothing.  Instead they made a bad problem worse. So much for the theory that we need more laws!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

BlackBerry’s Latest Delay Could Lead to Lawsuits

I once had a BlackBerry phone--I bought it in December, 2010 (it was a new model at the time of purchase)--and it lasted 19 months when it unexpectedly "died." Long story short--the carrier no longer sells that model and provides no support (no replacement batteries, etc.)--so I re-activated the old phone I used prior to the BlackBerry, and I will buy a new Android phone sometime in the near future. I will never buy another BlackBerry.

IMHO, anyone who buys a BlackBerry is asking for problems--not only are the phones inferior to iPhones, Androids, and Window phones, but I'm not sure RIM (maker of BlackBerry phones) will even be around much longer--Mr. Heins (CEO of RIM) is about to get a very expensive education:

BlackBerry’s Latest Delay Could Lead to Lawsuits - NYTimes.com: "Several securities law experts and some investors say the delay in the BlackBerry 10, and overly optimistic remarks as recently as last week by Mr. Heins since he took over the top job in January, may also make RIM the target of shareholder lawsuits. “They’re going to get sued and they should get sued because I think a closer look at the record is likely to unearth knowing and willful misrepresentation,” said Jean-Louis Gassée, the former president of Apple’s products division and the founder of the software maker Be, who is now a venture capitalist and blogger in Palo Alto, Calif. “When the C.E.O. says there’s nothing wrong with the company as it is, it’s not cautious, it doesn’t make sense.”"

I (and many, many others) have been noting the problems at RIM for well over a year, and yet the CEO still says "there's nothing wrong with the company." Really?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Tale of Three Nations: Ireland, Estonia, Iceland

Thanks to the New York Times and Paul Krugman for more on the "Iceland is better" comparison with the eurozone's austerity experience (but Iceland had one distinct advantage apart from its own currency--"little government debt"):

". . . during the crisis, the country did many things different from its European counterparts. It let its three largest banks fail, instead of bailing them out. It ensured that domestic depositors got their money back and gave debt relief to struggling homeowners and to businesses facing bankruptcy. “Taking down a company with positive cash flow but negative equity would in the given circumstances have a domino effect, causing otherwise sound companies to collapse,” said Thorolfur Matthiasson, an economics professor at the University of Iceland. “Forgiving debt under those circumstances can be profitable for the financial institutions and help the economy and reduce unemployment as well.” Iceland also had some advantages when it entered the crisis: relatively few government debts, a strong social safety net and a fluctuating currency whose rapid devaluation in 2008 caused pain for consumers but helped buoy the all-important export market. . . . " --New York Times

Chart source: Paul Krugman (link above)


Monday, July 9, 2012

UN Law of the Sea Treaty - a "must do"

SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE Law of the Sea Treaty - A hearing on the Law of the Sea treaty: Perspectives from business and industry Witnesses: Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Jack N. Gerard, president and CEO, American Petroleum Institute Jay Timmons, president and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers Lowell C. McAdam, chairman and CEO, Verizon Communications Inc., New York, N.Y. (9:30a-11:30a June 28, 2012)

Business leaders testified on the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty, an international convention that sets rules for under- and over-sea travel and commerce.

This is probably the most important matter pending before the U.S. Senate and needs ratification/accession ASAP! Its beneficial impacts include off-shore drilling, telecommunications cables, and other issues addressed in the Senate Committee hearing video above.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Don't tell Ireland and Greece, but Iceland is doing much better

Guess Who’s Emerging From the Crisis? (And don't tell Greece and Ireland who suffer from Eurozone imposed "austerity")--

FT Alphaville » A glimpse of an economy post this crisis: "Iceland, of course. Kitchen-sinked and cleaned-up, the Icelandic central bank has just decided to push up rates by 25 basis points to combat signs of inflation amidst “robust” domestic demand."

The poor  periphery of the Eurozone--a/k/a PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain)--they've swallowed the propaganda (necessary to save French and German banks) that there is no other way out but to stay with the euro and suffer. On the other hand, Iceland is really on the upward trajectory.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

The economy? Slippin' and Slidin'

The U.S. economy? Slippin' and slidin'--it's all in the jobs report (both excerpts below are from Ezra Klein of the Washington Post):

Early Friday morning (before jobs report released):
Previewing the June jobs report: 100,000 jobs? 125,000?: "The big news today will be the jobs report, which comes out at 8:30am. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News expect to learn that the economy added 100,000 jobs in June — well above the 69,000 it added in May, but well below the 259,000 it added in February. Goldman Sachs, which is expecting to see that we added 125,000 jobs in June, points out that this will be the first jobs report in awhile that “should be relatively free of the distortions that have plagued analysis of the underlying employment trend recently. In particular, the ‘payback’ for the unusually mild winter is now almost certainly behind us.” That is to say, the June jobs report might be a clearer look at the underlying trends in the economy than either the quick, weather-aided growth we saw early in the year or the sharp deceleration we saw in May. Hopefully, it won’t be too depressing."

Later Friday--after the jobs report released:
The June jobs report in one word: ‘unchanged’: "In this economy, little or no change isn’t good enough. We added 80,000 jobs in June. That’s not enough to keep up with population growth. So, in the context of our growing workforce, the labor market lost ground last month."

So forget all the "spin"--bottom line: the job situation got worse last month. The economy? Just slippin' and slidin'.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Apple Gets Sued Again in China

Now that Apple has indicated it is willing to pay millions to settle meritless claims in China--watch out--the flood of lawsuits is just beginning--

“China’s Siri” Sues Apple’s Siri Over Infringement! (video) » M.I.C. Gadget: "What a busy moment for the Apple’s legal team in China! Apple now has two infringement lawsuits to deal with, the Mac OS X “Snow Leopard” trademark that we reported just days ago and now comes to Apple’s voice assistant application Siri. . . . "


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Google has always been a "hardware maker"

I continue to be amused by the pundits who claim Google has gone astray in purchasing Motorola Mobility--on the basis that Google shouldn't get into "hardware"--ignoring the fact that Google has always been a hardware manufacturer--

Google: We're One of the World's Largest Hardware Makers | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com: "Google is a web company, and it rakes in most of its money from online ad sales, but it has another identity that few people understand: It’s also a massive hardware maker. For years, the company has designed the servers, networking gear, and perhaps other hardware that helps drive its many web services. . . .  “There’s a bit of a mythology that Google doesn’t know anything about hardware,” he (CFO Pichette) said. “We’re big in hardware. Google actually builds servers in a factory that actually probably makes us one of the largest hardware manufacturers in the world. And so we know hardware. We know about flash. We know about equipment. We know about supply chain. So we were very well-equipped from the hardware side, to be very competitive in that space. . . . ”


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Declaration of Internet Freedom

Declaration of Internet Freedom: "DECLARATION We stand for a free and open Internet. We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles: Expression: Don't censor the Internet. Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks. Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate. Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users' actions. Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used."

Go here to sign the Declaration.

Happy 4th!


BIS Annual Report 2011/2012 -- a "must read"

BIS Annual Report 2011/2012 --  a "must read" for anyone wanting to know about the economy--

BIS Annual Report 2011/2012: "BIS Annual Report 2011/2012 24 June 2012 The global economy has yet to overcome the legacies of the financial crisis to achieve balanced, self-sustaining growth."

Chapter I: Breaking the vicious cycles 
The global economy has yet to overcome the legacies of the financial crisis to achieve balanced, self-sustaining growth. In different ways, vicious cycles are hindering the transition for both the advanced and emerging market economies. . . 

Chapter II: The year in retrospect 
In the advanced economies, the first months of 2011 seemed to offer the beginnings of a self-sustaining recovery, a promise that turned out to be a false dawn. The pattern appears to be repeating itself in 2012, with early signs of strength gradually fading. . . 

Chapter III: Rebalancing growth 
Both advanced and emerging market economies face structural challenges. Sectoral misallocations that built up during the boom, coupled with high levels of household and corporate debt, continue to hobble growth in some advanced economies. These countries must move to repair balance sheets as they facilitate the rebalancing of resources across sectors. . . 

Chapter IV: The limits of monetary policy 
. . . Central banks have had little choice but to maintain monetary ease because governments have failed to quickly and comprehensively address structural impediments to growth. But the need for prolonged accommodation has to be carefully weighed against the risk of generating distortions that will later produce financial and price instability. 

Chapter V: Restoring fiscal sustainability 
. . . . Restoring the supply of risk-free assets requires that governments convincingly address high deficits as well as projected increases in their long-term liabilities. Some countries need to take immediate action to significantly reform their public sectors and remove structural impediments to growth. All countries need to prevent adverse feedback loops between the financial sector and the sovereign and build up fiscal buffers in good times. 

Chapter VI: Post-crisis evolution of the banking sector 
Banks and prudential authorities still face tough challenges in securing financial stability. Banks need to further strengthen capital and liquidity positions to regain markets' confidence. To expedite this process, authorities should ensure that institutions recapitalise and recognise losses on problematic investments. . . . 

Read what others are saying about this report--
What The Mother Of All Central Banks Says About The Financial System - Forbes: "What The Mother Of All Central Banks Says About The Financial System"


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Paul Krugman's Follies?

I've given a lot of coverage to Krugman and his position that the government should spend, spend, and spend, on this blog--so here's some coverage critical of the economist's views--

Paul Krugman's Follies by Guy Sorman - City Journal: " . . . But he knows well—or should—that President Obama has already tried to rekindle growth this way. He admits that the results were not impressive, but only because public spending didn’t go far enough and wasn’t sustained. The argument is dubious. All economies are built on confidence. An increase of the public debt now, as Krugman urges, would create a crisis of confidence, not a quicker recovery. Robert Lucas, the originator of rational-expectation theory, has shown how and why consumers and entrepreneurs reject Keynesian policies: in essence, the marketplace is wiser than the government. Entrepreneurs and consumers alike understand that an increase in public demand is artificial and short-term. Consequently, public demand leads not to increased consumption or investments but to price hikes. This unintended consequence of Keynesian demand has been repeatedly demonstrated in theory and practice. Milton Friedman and the late Anna Schwartz, in their Monetary History of the United States, showed that excessive money printing, which Krugman strongly recommends, always leads to inflation, not growth. . . . "


Monday, July 2, 2012

China: Garbage In; Garbage Out

There's an old saying in the world of computers and data: "garbage in, garbage out."  In other words if the data you enter into a program is corrupt or unreliable, don't rely on the output! And yet when it comes to China, it appears too much confidence is placed by Wall Steet and others in "official reports:"

New York Times: "As the Chinese economy continues to sputter, prominent corporate executives in China and Western economists say there is evidence that local and provincial officials are falsifying economic statistics to disguise the true depth of the troubles. . . . "

Caveat Emptor!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

I have something he will never have

Oracle founder Larry Ellison buys 98 percent of Hawaii's Lanai - SiliconValley.com: "What does the billionaire who has everything buy for himself? Why, a Hawaiian island, of course. State officials say Oracle (ORCL) founder and CEO Larry Ellison has signed an agreement to scoop up 98 percent of Lanai for an undisclosed price. The seller, fellow billionaire David Murdock, is parting with two resort hotels, two championship golf courses, and more than 88,000 acres of land . . . "

Kurt Vonnegut and novelist Joseph Heller were once talking at a party hosted by a billionaire hedge fund manager. Vonnegut pointed out that their wealthy host had made more money in one day than Heller ever made from his celebrated novel Catch-22.

Heller responded, "Yes, but I have something he will never have--
(source: The Archenemy of Happiness)


The Big Picture

Financial Crisis - The Telegraph

JohnTheCrowd.com | The Sailing Website

Craig Newmark - craigconnects