Saturday, September 27, 2008

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Three days, 31.5 miles of hiking (63,497 steps per pedometer!), 3 waterfalls, and 1 bear:

Photographed at dusk with a zoom lens from a safe distance. The locals suggested this was probably a young male only recently venturing out on his own.



Breakfast, not exactly roughing it with a nice cooler full of goodies but it was pretty cold out before the sun comes up:




Close To The Edge (I'm not sure this could have qualified for a Darwin Award, I think I was pretty careful):



Stream Crossing:


Friday, September 26, 2008

 

Friday Waterfall

Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Thursday, September 18, 2008

 

Cavuto shuts down O'Reilly's populist bloviating

Bill O'Reilly has been crusading against gouging oil companies that is just embarrassing. His argument that oil companies have been colluding to keep the price of oil high is ridiculous on its face. The price of oil and gas track pretty closely but not always perfectly and Hurricane Ike has a lot to do with the reason that gas prices have spiked in the last week. O'Reilly has used this moment to make a red faced rant against the oil companies. Neil Cavuto took the opportunity to set him straight.



Populism is such an ugly thing when combined with ignorance. Bill should leave the economic analysis to the professionals.

Monday, September 15, 2008

 

Apocolypse Now 2

It's a no brainer to issue a crash alert right now but I wanted to do it any way. (I've been harping on this subject for so long that I am getting bored of it.) With Lehman going belly up the Fed and Treasury have signaled how far they are willing to extend the good faith and credit of the U.S. gov't. This is good and bad. The good is that we have to stop trying to stop bailing out poor decision making. The bad is that Wall Street now has to figure out how they are going to unwind all those derivatives in which they are counter party with Lehman. Good luck.

Starting today and for the foreseeable future the credit markets of the U.S. are going to shut down while everyone tries to figure who is a good credit and who is bad. This is where all the old rules of lending get thrown out and Wall St. succumbs to the fear of default without a Federal safety net. It isn't going to be pretty but it is necessary. This is the only way for the system to find a price level that is a true reflection of the strength of our economy without the inflated asset prices caused by easy money credit.

The only thing that is certain in my mind is that investors are only willing to risk their capital at prices much lower than we see today.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

 

Lake Winnemac


Monday, September 08, 2008

 

Walter Payton

Gone far too soon

A friend sent me a link to this:



He was as warm hearted as he was competitive. Its a shame he's gone. The Walter Payton Cancer Fund is here.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

 

Apocolypse Now

And no, I am not talking about the experiment at the LHC this coming Wednesday. I am talking about the gov't bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the Gov't Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) that are insolvent and were going to collapse before the end of the year. We don't have to worry about that now because their problems are now the problems of the U.S. taxpayer. Congratulations, you are responsible for the incredible stupid lending policies of the GSEs.

That's the surreal theme of a story in last week's New York Times titled "At Freddie Mac, chief discarded the warning signs" (registration required). The subtitle wasn't "Gee, who'd have guessed?" but it should have been.

To wit: "Mr. Syron received a memo stating that the firm's underwriting standards were becoming shoddier and that the company was becoming exposed to losses. . . . David Andrukonis (Freddie's former risk officer) recalled telling Mr. Syron in mid-2004 that the company was buying bad loans that 'would likely pose an enormous financial and reputational risk to the company and the country.' "

Well, so what? The gov't throws a few billion at the problem and it goes away. Au contraire, mon frair. (Hey John O, please correct my French.) Fannie and Freddie have about 5 TRILLION dollars of mortgages on their books. A total that dwarfs the U.S. gov'ts balance sheet. A small fraction of these loans going bad will put a real strain on the budget. And then there is the problem of who steps in to replace the GSEs.

They are involved in about 40% of all mortgage origination, securitizing loans and mortgage insurance, in the country so removing the capital they represent puts further strain on the housing market.

As I have said before, I am very wary of the gov't taking the risk of taking over the balance sheets of Freddie and Fannie because we are now talking about enough risk to put U.S. sovereign debt into doubt. It remains to be seen if this effort at market stabilization will work, and we should all pray it does. It would be a real bitch to have a world wide depression right before a quasar tears our planet apart.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

 

I wonder what Sarah Palin's Seceret Service name will be?



:-)

John O adds
: How about Ernesto?

The Wilson sisters are unhappy that the song was used as the congratulatory theme for Sarah Palin. Too bad.

Palin is an excellent choice, and for a lot of reasons. I listened to the tail end of McCain's acceptance speech while driving home last night. When he started talking about his combat experience, I wondered: Did McCain factor in to his decision to select Palin the fact that it would make the election much more complicated?

I'll cite this from Steven Den Beste about competition:
When I'm playing Go against a player who is substantially inferior to me, who plays with a handicap, sometimes when I see a situation I don't like what I'll do is to make a series of moves which make the situation fantastically complicated even if I can't see where it will end up. What I'm relying on is the fact that as it develops I'll be able to use my superior understanding of the game and ability to analyze it to see my way through the situation before my less experienced opponent, and will have the situation in hand before he even realizes what I'm doing.
McCain is trained for combat, the ultimate competition. He has correctly sized up the inexperienced Obama as weak. As McCain has for years been the most media accessible politician, he knows media types very well. A female unknown (to the media) VP candidate whose values are antithetical to Democrats and their media allies is unprecedented. The Left's initial response was something McCain surely expected, as were the results. But having failed to discredit an obviously articulate, telegenic, popular conserviative, the those in the MSM don't know what to do now. The Obama/Biden campaign doesn't know either. And, given that we have the shortest time between a national convention and the election in American history, they don't have much time to figure it out. Well done, Senator McCain.

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