Tag Archives: tarp

Booty Calls for Reform

For over a year, I have been receiving emails from BarackObama.com.  I’ve received all types of messages, from ones imploring me to vote, defending TARP, and refuting “scare tactics”… to other messages peddling Obama holiday mugs.

On Monday, I received the following e-mail from Jeremy Bird at BarackObama.com: “Your place Wednesday night?”  Whoa.  Easy now, slugger.  I expect to get these types of messages from Match.com and spammers selling fake Viagara, but not from Barack Obama.  

I realize that Obama’s image has taken a hit with the recent town halls, but trying to seduce your followers with cutesy e-mails about healthcare reform might not help.  I half-expected to see an emoticon wink at me in the subject line, followed by a message flaunting “Booty Call for Reform” mugs.

I’m hoping that Obama’s speech will help Americans better understand healthcare reform, including me.  And yes, Jeremy, I’ll be at my place tonight. 😉

obama-healthcare

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Reprising their Role in Baseball’s Greek Tragedy

This season, I haven’t followed the Red Sox as ardently as I have in the past.  But given that they were in town, and playing the Yankees this weekend, I decided I would watch all four games.  So I watched.  I cringed.  And I, along with the Red Sox, suffered.

Prior to 2004, the story of the Red Sox had always been that of a Greek tragedy.  The villains were Buckner and Boone and the curse of the Bambino.  You knew it was going to end badly.  You knew that the Sox would get your hopes up, only to be crushed in the end.  Season after season, it was a hopeless cause–like world peace.  You wanted it to happen, but you knew that in the end, darker forces (the Yankees, the Taliban) would always be in the way. 

But then, 2004 happened.  We won the world championship, beat the Yankees, and eradicated the dreaded “Curse”.  Then, in 2007, we did it again.  Suddenly, the Red Sox franchise was associated with winning.  It was a strange feeling.

losersThus, I watched the Sox play this weekend, fully expecting that we would win (at least one)…  But we lost the first three games.  And around 11:15ish tonight, the Yankees blew away our 2-1 lead and scored four runs in the bottom of the 8th.  5-2, Yankees, and we were down to our last inning.  (The collective “we” is what makes it all the more heartbreaking, especially since I feel the pain even though I have no control over the outcome of the game, no matter how much I yell at the players through the TV.)  Yet, while I instinctively knew that I should skip the inevitable conclusion of the 9th inning, that tiny glimmer of ’04/’07 hope kept me watching.  Damn, Red Sox.  I’d have an easier time turning away from a train wreck.

Of course, we got the tying run to the plate against Mariano Rivera, and then lost.  Losers once again.

So, in my postgame huff, I started to write about how much I hated the Yankees.  My first line was: “Rooting for the Yankees is like encouraging the rich kids to steal food from the homeless.”  But I figured that a rant about the haves vs. the have-nots would be somewhat unfair, given the Red Sox’s payroll. (Although it is $80 million less than that of the Yankees, or should I say, Bankees. Ha, ha.  Thanks, TARP backlash.)

Instead, I’ve realized that as much as I do, legitimately, hate the Yankees (after all, they steal from the homeless), I’m starting to hate on the Red Sox too.  I hate J.D. Drew and the $14 million we pay him to hit singles.  I hate how Big Papi’s (potential) PED use has cast doubt over the legitimacy of those world championships.  I hate that I believe the Sox can win all the time — it was so much easier when I’d already prepared myself for failure.  And I hate Tek’s balky knees, Beckett’s facial hair, all Red Sox shortstops, and how sweaty Youk gets during the games.  I appreciate the effort, but it’s nasty.

Lastly, I hate myself a little bit too — I hate how I’ve wasted so much time caring.  This time could have been spent on world peace. 

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The Worst White Collar Job in the World

Amongst my fellow college graduates, competition is often fierce in the game of “Who Has the Worst Job?”.  Here is my no-judgment, completely unbiased opinion:

  • Lawyers are slimy, rambling chest-beaters who cover up the misdeeds of their unscrupulous clients with ten-dollar words, and sometimes, poems. (“If the glove does not fit…”)
  • Investment bankers are coked up work fiends who enjoy only two activities: #1) making money, and #2) making it rain at the club.  With TARP bills.
  • Salesmen of any kind (from credit default swaps to lawnmowers) are slick, lying, swindlers who tapdance along the edge of deceit and pure evil.

Of course, these stereotypes (or some might argue, facts) only implicate the employee, rather than the profession itself.  So, if I were to only consider the job, this is what I would deem the Worst White-Collar Job in the World (that last part is to be said in an over-dramatic, Keith Olbermann way):

  • Accountants are mundane, humorless bean counters who wear argyle sweater vests and track how much money John Thain spends on redecorating his bathroom.

accountantSo, here is the rationale behind my distaste for accounting.  Over the past two years, I’ve worked in corporate finance at a large firm, where I’ve had to learn a lot of accounting.  I’ve been enlightened to the wonders of debits and credits, account receivables and payables, controllership, compliance, FASB and GAAP.  It is about as interesting as it sounds.  In general, the accountants that I’ve worked with are very nice, diligent people.  But the actual job is dreadfully boring: balancing the balance sheet, reconciling accounts, and performing audit checks.  By the second week of learning about proper T-accounting, I was ready to wring someone’s neck with an argyle sweater vest.

Another example of the staid accounting life: One day, I was out with a few colleagues at lunch.  A fellow co-worker mentioned that she had been doing SOX testing (which is short for Sarbanes-Oxley, the regulatory legislation that spawned from WorldCom, Enron, and Tyco).  “SOX testing, huh?”  I said, “So what’s better… wool or cotton?”

Silence.

I thought it was funny.

gabrielgossipgirlIn the end, just as lawyers, bankers, or salesmen are necessary, I know that accountants are necessary.  Madoff, Stanford, and other Ponzi schemers (like Gabriel from Gossip Girl) might have been stopped if they’d been scrutinized by some badass accountants. We need accountants to make sure our scummy salesmen aren’t recording fraudulent trades.  We need them to tally up how much TARP money is being thrown at strippers in the club.  We need them to confirm that our financial statements are accurate, so we can determine how to best price our cotton socks.

And hey, having the worst white-collar job in the world is likely preferable to roofing houses, waiting tables, or not having a job at all… Then again, if accounting is going to lead you down a homicidal path (hide the sweater vests!), you might think about selling lawnmowers for a living instead.

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Rising to #1 on the Billboard Charts: TARP Commentary from Flo Rida and Britney Spears

Throughout the history of music, we’ve always had a knack for uncovering subliminal messages hidden in our favorite songs. Sometimes the discovery was subtle and unexpected, like playing the Beatles’ record backwards to hear “Paul is dead.” Sometimes the messaging was not as subtle, like hearing Britney Spears beg for someone to “If You Seek Amy” in her new salacious (and radio-censored) song.

Most of the time, pop music is like Brit-Brit: it’s quite literal. Thus when the pop diva asks us to satisfy her penchant for four-letter words, we know what she means. When Beyonce implores the male species to “put a ring on it,” she’s giving our deadbeat boyfriends a pretty clear directive. And when Lady Gaga sings “Just Dance”, well, we…just dance. But for every straight shooter in the music business, there’s always someone out there who just wants to if-you-seek-ay-with our heads.

The following are some examples of masterful, even Shakespearean, trickery; behind the poppy lyrics and tempo beats, we have discovered their true intentions:

volcanoBurnin’ Up (Jonas Brothers): “I’m slipping into the lava / And I’m trying to keep from going under / Baby who turned the temperature hotter / ‘Cause I’m burning up, burning up”

  • Take it literally: The musically-gifted but awfully-coiffed trio is on the precipice of an exploding volcano. An exploding volcano of love.
  • Think about it: If the brothers were to actually slip into lava, they would immediately die. So this song isn’t about love at all; it’s about an extreme fear of love. After all, who wants to burn to death in a pool of flaming magma? Not anyone I know.

akonRight Now (Akon): “I wanna make up right now na na / I wanna make up right now na na / Wish we never broke up right now na na / We need to link up right now na na”

marketcrashRight Round (Flo Rida ft. Katy Perry): “You spin my head right round / Right round / When you go down / When you go down down”

  • Take it literally: So yeah, it sounds like he maaayy be talking about fellatio… Or stripping.  Either way, adult activities.
  • Think about it: It’s a recession, people. And Katy Perry clearly has a thing for girls. So what else is going down down, and making our heads spin right round? Of course… the stock market. The Dow just can’t keep it up, and with all the painful pullbacks, it’s been one wild ride on the Street. There’s nothing sexual about it. And if you seek proof, just ask for Amy.

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Bailouts By The Numbers

Got Money?  / You Know It / Take it out your pocket and show it then throw it / This a way / That a way/ This a way / That a way…

citigroup$700 billion: TARP (also known as “stocking stuffer” on Wall Street)

$787 billion: Obama’s new stimulus package

$18-$50+ billion (and rising): Auto industry

$75 billion: Mortgage bailout for 4 million homeowners… ($18,750 per homeowner)

aig$80 billion+ (and more than $150 billion more in guaranteeing its loans): Citigroup

$150 billion+ (and rising): AIG

$400 billion: Fannie and Freddie

Total of just these bailouts: $2.2 trillion

In Comparison:

oprah-rich1$14.3 trillion: GDP of United States ($4.8 trillion: GDP of #2 Japan, $4.2 trillion: GDP of #3 China)

$65 billion: Market cap of Enron in its heyday

megamillions$58 billion: Net worth of Bill Gates

$1.5 billion: Net worth of Oprah

$750 million: The record amount that Obama raised during his run to the White House

 

Madoff’s $50 Billion Disappearing Act

madoff115: Countries with less than $50 billion in GDP (including the Dominican Republic, Kenya, and North Korea)

235: Times you’d have to win the Mega Millions $212 million jackpot

820: Number of Empire State Buildings you could buy, according to a recent appraisal ($61 million)

bentley1,786: Years you could (over)pay A-Rod ($28 million/year)

146,630: Number of new Bentleys you could buy 

Hitting the Fan

$300 billion: Market cap of GE in 2008

$71 billion: Market cap of GE today (around $7 a share)

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Where Have All The Good Times Gone?

Last summer, we were just coming to the realization that the economy might be in some trouble… Bear Stearns had fallen, oil prices were skyrocketing, and George W. Bush was still President. It wasn’t a good time.

We started 2009 thinking that the bad karma in ’08 was all in the past… but a quick comparison suggests that it may be rougher now compared to back then:

YOUNG LOVE
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
Nick Jonas breaks up with Miley Cyrus over the phone Chris Brown breaks Rihanna’s heart… and her nose Obviously Chris Brown… you don’t send your girlfriend to the hospital, ever
POLITICKIN’
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
Sarah Palin campaigning for the Vice Preisdency Tim Geithner campaigning for $789 billion Sarah Palin by a wink
CHEATING
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
A-Rod and Madonna A-Rod and a syringe Almost a toss-up between infidelity and ‘roids, but the juice is illegal… so it’s got to be worse
FAVRE ME
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
Brett Favre un-retires Brett Favre re-retires Un-retired Brett Favre… the last month of the season counts
BABIES R US
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
Angelina Jolie has twins! Crazy Angelina wannabe has octuplets! Crazy woman… Angelina only has 6 kids compared to her litter of 14
POOF!
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
$11 billion (August market cap of soon-to-die Lehman) $50 billion (Bernie) Yup, a vanishing $50 billion is worse…
THE DOW
Summer 2008 Winter 2009
What’s worse?
Down 9% from June to August, finishing just over 11,000 Down 10% year-to-date, clocking in under 8,000 Help.

Final count of crappiness? Summer ’08: 2… Winter ’09: 5

So, things are definitely not getting any better in 2009. In fact, they’re really spiraling more and more out of control, towards utter despair and desolation. But… at least we totally kicked last summer’s ass.

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