Monday, October 29, 2007

Krugman Can't Count

I haven't been doing much Krugman bashing since the whole election thing last year, but now that is columns are no longer pay-per-view, I will have to start. I am just amazed at how bad of an economist he has become. Tom Brown tears him apart in this analysis.

Did Paul Krugman actually write that “the bursting of the housing bubble means that someone, somewhere, has to accept several trillion dollars in losses.”?

Several trillion? Really? Numbers, please!

Here goes: Inside Mortgage Finance reports that total 1-4 family mortgage debt outstanding—prime, subprime, Alt-A, you name it—stands at $10.4 trillion. Let’s say that when he says “several trillion,” Krugman really expects just $2 trillion in mortgage-related losses. But to get to $2 trillion in losses, you have to, after allowing for partial recoveries via foreclosure sales and foregone borrower equity, assume something like $4 trillion in mortgage defaults, or around 40% of all mortgage debt outstanding. I don’t buy that. You shouldn’t buy that. I can’t believe anyone in his right mind would buy that.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Review of Fair Game

I commented earlier on her lame 60 Minutes interview. I probably won't buy the book, but if this review is any guide, she doesn't come off much better in print. Her husband comes off as a complete jerk.

Whether Ms. Plame, an agency expert on weapons of mass destruction, was responsible for his going to Niger is one of the key mysteries in the whole affair. So did she send him? It depends upon which page you read. Page 168: "I neither suggested Joe nor recommended him." Yet on page 109, "a mid-level reports officer" said to her, "What about talking to Joe about it? … The reports officer and I walked over to the office of the [redacted] Chief to discuss our available plans of action. Bob, our boss, listened carefully and then suggested we put together a meeting with Joe and the appropriate Agency and State officers."

And on page 186, Ms. Plame explains she wrote an e-mail that read: "My husband has good relations with both the [Niger] PM and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity."

When this e-mail came to light, in a Senate Intelligence Committee report, the high-strung Mr. Wilson once again launched into a temper tantrum. "Midway through the silent meal, Joe abruptly got up, dumped his unfinished plate in the sink, and left the room in a wordless rage. ... Despite my best efforts to explain the innocence of the e-mail, Joe was too upset to listen. He just glared at me."

Monday, October 22, 2007

John McCain at the Debates

I met John McCain at a book signing in 2000, and heard him speak. He really has a great sense of humor. I haven't decided who I am voting for yet, but I would not be disappointed to see him win.

Read About It In the New York Times

I saw Paul Krugman's new book at the local Borders the other day. Sorry, I'll save up my money for real economics, like perhaps Michael Lewis' upcoming The Real Price of Everything. In any case it warms the heart to see a review slamming him, in the New York Times no less.

Paul Krugman is a justly renowned professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University. His abundant accolades include the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded biannually to an outstanding economist under the age of 40 — a distinction said to be predictive of, and perhaps even more prestigious than, receipt of the Nobel in economic science. His twice-weekly column in The New York Times routinely and authoritatively demystifies complex economic arcana.

And yet maybe Krugman is not really an economist — at least not according to the definition offered more than a century ago by Francis Amasa Walker, the first president of the American Economic Association, who wrote that laissez-faire “was not made the test of economic orthodoxy, merely. It was used to decide whether a man were an economist at all.”

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Valerie Plame on 60 Minutes

I don't have it recorded so I can't Fisk it, but that had to be the lamest TV interview I have ever seen. It is no surprise that Katie Couric messed up the timeline of the forged Niger documents. If the average CIA operative is as freaking stupid as Valerie Plame though, we are in serious trouble. I nearly fell off my couch when I heard her response to the question asking if she was concerned about her husband writing an editorial in the New York Times about his trip to Niger, when she stated "Why should I, it had nothing to do with me?"

Nothing to do with you? You were the only reason he went on the trip in the first place! Then she acted all offended that people accused her of nepotism. Hello, he is your husband. That kind of puts the nep in nepotism. It is not like the CIA normally goes around hiring unemployed former ambassadors for overseas investigations. At least I hope they are not normally this stupid. God help us all.

Garry Kasparov on Real Time with Bill Maher

We have been following the truthers and their silly interruption of Bill Maher's live television show on Screw Loose Change, but one thing I missed was this excellent interview, later in the same episode, with former chess champion Garry Kasparov, who has become a leading activist in Russia.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Air Force On Strike?

I am not normally one to make fun of our sister services like the Air Force (Well, not on the Internet at least) but I found this a bit ridiculous. Apparently some Air Force Reservists, who are working as technicians, meaning they are contractors, not active duty troops, are complaining because they have to wear uniforms.

The Air Force Reserve may be an unrivaled wingman to the active duty force, but it's also a conflicted one right now, with air reserve technicians angry over a new policy mandating daily uniform wear on the job. And that's prompted some to increasingly talk like the union members many are.

Bristling at the new regs, some reservists intend to pressure the Air Force into scrubbing the new uniform policy - a demand that could have a ripple effect on Air Force missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Stop volunteering for Air Expeditionary Force rotations" is the call rebel Air Force reservists are making.

"We've got to do something to get their attention," said Master Sgt. Jerry Merrill, a KC-135 crew chief at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., and vice president of local 3854 of the American Federation of Government Employees.

Calls to boycott AEFs have been posted in a handful of messages included in an online petition against the policy, and Merrill believes reserve Airmen could begin acting on them.

Given the fact that there are active duty Army brigades getting ready for their third tour in Iraq, and these are year long tours, not the weenie 90 day Air Force stints, I hardly have any sympathy for them. Heck, most of the Army Guard has been deployed more than the average active duty airman. Not to mention they are serving in much more dangerous capacities. According to the site ICasualties, only 38 people in the entire Air Force have been killed in Iraq, less than even the Navy, and only 1/10th that of the Army National Guard. If these guys are too ashamed to wear their uniform, then what are they doing in the military in the first place?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ameritrust Groupe Inc. Exposed

I haven't talked about the Wanta thing for a while, got kind of bored. Christopher Story is back claiming once again that they are on the verge of obtaining their $4.5 trillion. In this month's episode he posts a fax supposedly written by Michael C. Cottrell, who now ends his name with "B.A., M.S.", making him the only person I have ever heard of who lists an undergraduate degree as a credential after his name.

This letter is supposedly to William Rhodes, the CEO of Citibank. Of course in the normal Wanta way, letters are always to famous people, not from them. Cottrell also lists the address and contact information of his and Wanta's corporation Ameritrust Groupe, Inc. which I have pointed out previously is so poor that it is in debt to the state of Virginia for $110 in fees.


Office of the Treasurer

1157 West 7th Street


Pennsylvania 16502

Telephone: (814) 455 9218

Telephone: (814) 453 4453

FAX COVERTo: Mr William R. Rhodes

Chairman, President and Chief Executive, Citibank NA

Chairman, President and Chief Executive Office, Citigroup Holdings,

Senior Vice Chairman, Citi

Citigroup Center

153 E. 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

Attention: ALMA PADRON

Via: (212) 793 9700; (212) 793 5906

Items: In the matter of: The Agreed Upon Financial Settlement of Four point Five Trillion United States Dollars ($4,500,000,000,000.00 US Dollars): Regarding

Ambassador Leo (Lee) E. Wanta and AmeriTrust Groupe, Inc.:

Cc: Lee E. Wanta, Chairman and Executive Officer

Perhaps he should be a little more discrete, because through a simple Internet search I was able to find out what type of a neighborhood it is, here is a house across the street on a real estate website.

This must be the Erie financial district...

He also lists their e-mail addresses.


Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 9:47 PM




Attachment: 9-26-2007 – LTR – CITI – WMRHODES26sept2007.doc(0.05 MB)

Just a tip there Sir Leo, if you want to impress the head of the world's largest financial institution, you might not want to use your free MSN account....

Atlas Still Shrugs

Fifty years ago today, one of the greatest American novels was published, and it continues to be popular. It is sad though that the very act of being successful has been so vilified in society that a novel has to be written to argue for it. The Wall Street Journal, that very newspaper of the capitalist movement, commemorates:

Fifty years ago today Ayn Rand published her magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged." It's an enduringly popular novel -- all 1,168 pages of it -- with some 150,000 new copies still sold each year in bookstores alone. And it's always had a special appeal for people in business. The reasons, at least on the surface, are obvious enough.

Businessmen are favorite villains in popular media, routinely featured as polluters, crooks and murderers in network TV dramas and first-run movies, not to mention novels. Oil company CEOs are hauled before congressional committees whenever fuel prices rise, to be harangued and publicly shamed for the sin of high profits. Genuine cases of wrongdoing like Enron set off witch hunts that drag in prominent achievers like Frank Quattrone and Martha Stewart.

By contrast, the heroes in "Atlas Shrugged" are businessmen -- and women. Rand imbues them with heroic, larger-than-life stature in the Romantic mold, for their courage, integrity and ability to create wealth. They are not the exploiters but the exploited: victims of parasites and predators who want to wrap the producers in regulatory chains and expropriate their wealth.