Goldman Testimony in the Senate

I don’t know what to say except – run for your lives! It’s the smart vs the inept and we’re in the middle of it. Goldman got no sympathy – from neither side, which is understandable. Although I did get a feel at one moment that Sen. Coburn (whom they kept calling doctor, for some reason, although he wasn’t there in a role of an ob/gyn) tried to steer Mr. Tourre to blame the media but the Frenchman did not understand where the senator was going with his question, much to Coburn’s dismay. Coburn asked Mr. Tourre what he thinks about all the firestorm that was caused by the release of his personal e-mails, how does that make him feel? Obviously, Sen Coburn expected Mr. Tourre to say something that it has ruined his life and is really hard on his family, but the guy either was oblivious to the innuendos due to language barrier or was so heavily coached that he responded that he regrets sending those e-mails and he should have used different language. It is unfortunate that senators are still not up to speed to what’s going on on Wall Street judging by their questions. Sen. Levin thinks that by selling a security to a customer and thus becoming short, Goldman is going the opposite direction from the customer and should disclose it. Coburn keeps saying “buying a short position”, forcing the guys to clarify the language before answering the question which only annoys the senators. And those big ass books with copies of e-mails and all sorts of exhibits that only makes them kill time by looking for a specific document, which they no doubt took advantage of.

Back in the days, I think it was around December 2006, my desk had dinner with Michael Swenson, one of the witnesses at today’s hearings. At the time I was leaning on the bearish side and already then I tried to short ABX when it was still trading around par. At the dinner Mr. Swenson tried to convince us that it might be a good opportunity to buy, because some bonds were trading at about 95(!) cents on the dollar. Now I know why – they were massively long ABX at that time and wanted to reduce exposure. None of us actually bought it. It is easy to say now that we knew this whole thing was going down, but of course, no one knew for sure. It was just that we have started to see things, little things, but that looked like a canary in the mine. Like some small subprime lenders going bust for example. I remember that something didn’t feel right back then and then the shit has started hitting the fan a month later, right after a major conference when ABX started to sell off in massive moves have not seen before. And the rest is history.

These Goldman guys are teflon and our senators are no match for those guys. There will be a financial regulatory bill, but I’m not sure if it’s going to be effective if it’s written by the people who don’t even understand the practices they oppose. Perhaps they separate prop trading from commercial banking, ban some sort of derivatives and that’s going to be all. As long as there are fools there will be people fleecing them. It’s as old as history and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Goldman is Goldman, but Obama is Obama

I have a friend who, as we talked about the upcoming season of Bolshoi ballet at the Met a few years ago, said: “Kirov is Kirov but Bolshoi is Bolshoi!” The same can be applied to Goldman and Obama. Goldman maybe good, Goldman maybe the best there is. But for every wise ass out there there’s a left-hand screw. Obama might as well turn out to be Goldman’s screw. But not for the reasons you think. Allow me to elaborate.
Goldman was the biggest Obama donor when he was running for president. This fact is being brought up very often in the last few days. Now picture the typical reaction of a typical politician when such fact becomes known. First he denies it, then when that doesn’t work he tries to give money back, after which he proceeds to do the donor’s bidding anyway. What Obama did is breathtaking (in a good sense). He
a) Said, yeah, I got the money from Goldman;
b) And no, I’m not giving it back;
c) And I’m going after Goldman regardless. And on top of that I’m asking them to join me in my fight.
What balls! How refreshing! It’s becoming more and more evident to me that he and his team not only know what they’re doing, they have read and memorized all the right books. Democrats, who have gotten accustomed to take it on the chin, have learned not only to attack but mastered such a subtle mockery that I’m sure puts Lloyd Blankfein in silent rage stemming from sudden feeling of helplessness and lack of control over the situation – a new set of emotions for a man like him.
My suspicions about Obama’s team were confirmed the other day by another friend of mine, no stranger to strategic moves himself – a deft poker player, a champion bridge player and shrewd businessman. Between spits and curses (he’s no fan of Obama), he admitted that Sun Tzu and Nicholo M are the table books for Obama’s team. They play by the book, he said, and that’s what will bring them down, he added. I exercised that possibility in my head, but then I thought that, at a very minimum, they must have an opponent who plays by the book. So far the opposition plays checkers to Obama’s Grandmaster level chess. Honestly, I’d be delighted to see Republicans’ strategy expanding from willfully pretending not to understand what’s written in the bill. But it seems now that it’s the only thing that comes to their mind.

Gun rights part 2

We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.

Many of you know that I support gun rights. I also support gays, for instance. However, if I saw a bunch of gays congregating in a national park brandishing their dicks offering to fuck each passerby in the ass just to make a political statement I would think that it was a filming of some sort of absurd Pythonesque show. The humor is lost on the Second Amendment marchers who will congregate in DC tomorrow to appropriately commemorate, oh, I don’t know, the 15th anniversary of Oklahoma City bombing perhaps?

Participants ready for tomorrow\’s open-carry rally outside D.C.

Their baseless belligerence is becoming absurd. What statement are you trying to make coming to a rally with the loaded gun? That your dick is bigger? Or that it is small and this is how you enhance it? Or that you are ready to kill somebody? Or do you dare somebody (who I might ask?) to attack you so that you could either a) exercise your God given right to finally shoot somebody or b) die in glory with your gun still clenched in you cold dead hands. They really remind of one of my favorite characters in Police Academy movies – Tackleberry. Overeager cadet who excels in imaginary combat, who longs to be attacked so that he can show those suckers how it’s done.

That’s what I think is the problem with these rally’s attendees. They own all these guns, but they can’t really use them other than on the shooting range. They dream of defending their property or their family from an intruder, but he just doesn’t come and they to resort to this sort of masturbation.
I think they secretly wish Obama would go tough on them, but he just won’t cooperate. For example just recently he signed legislation that allows guns in public parks. Thus they are able to bring them to this rally. But somehow it’s lost on them and they still feel threatened. The conversation with such people would go something like this:
– Me: But Obama allowed you to bring guns to the park!
– Them: Why are you liberals trying to take my guns away?
P.S. I’m particularly intrigued by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Freedoms. In a good way – I want Jews to have guns!

Conservatives and tax cuts (a long rant)

I don’t even know where to begin, given the abundance of articles on taxes in the past week. But one article with the header Taxes On The Rich Are The Poor Man\’s Burden by John Tamny of Forbes especially caught my attention with the first thought that came to my mind “Is he fucking serious?” I also thought that with such a bombastic statement he’s going to tell something I haven’t heard before. Let’s see what his main points are. He starts his article by saying that 47% of US households don’t pay taxes and links to the source article that confirms this notion. Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax

So far so good, I thought, what’s to complain about – isn’t that a conservative dream? I thought that conservatives love tax cuts, and the fact that 47% of the households don’t pay taxes would show that we’re on the right track. Let’s first see how those households end up not paying taxes. If a family of four made $50,000 they claimed a standard deduction of $11,400 and additional $3,650 a piece for four personal exemptions. That would bring their taxable income to $24,000. The federal income tax on $24,000 is $2,769.With two children younger than 17, the family qualified for two $1,000 child tax credits. Its Making Work Pay credit was $800 because the parents were married filing jointly. The $2,800 in credits exceeds the $2,769 in taxes, so the family makes a $31 profit from the federal income tax.

I don’t see what would stop the higher income earners from claiming the same exemptions. If you make $1mln a year you too can claim the same deduction for yourself and for your children. But since that doesn’t cover the tax bill, what do you suggest we do to placate those earners? Make exemptions in proportion to their incomes? Because them and their children are what? Smarter, prettier, attending a private school? Should we have a kid from a poor family receive $1000 tax credit and a kid from a family making $1mln receive $20,000 credit? So that all is fair? Since when the word “fairness” has entered the vocabulary of the top 1%?

No, no! I hear conservatives screaming: forget credits – we want more tax cuts! But I thought you were already quite upset that almost half don’t pay any taxes at all. If we cut more taxes then that figure would increase to what – 60, 70, 80%? Damn you, guys, just say what you really want – cut taxes on just the top 1%. Let’s be honest already. But I digress.

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SEC vs. Goldman

What can I say? This was coming. No one wanted to be seen as being in bed with Wall Street in the election year – neither Republicans nor Democrats. I think there’s a reasonable chance that it was politically timed. I don’t see anything wrong with this because in this day and age everything is politically motivated. And if we put politics aside – majority of the country, regardless of party affiliation, sees Wall Street as the culprit and it is reasonable to expect some sort of big trial coming up soon. So this might as well be it.

Predictably today everybody is in panic mode. I think it’s a great buying opportunity. If somebody expected some sort of a correction – this is it. It’s a one day bad news that is not based on fundamentals and everybody will forget that it happened a month from now. This trial will stretch over months, perhaps years and in the meantime it’s hard to imagine market staying down for too long. Many economic indicators that came up in recent weeks carry positive news and it’s not going to change just because Goldman is being sued.