rcwhalen's blog

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I confess to be more than a little surprised when yesterday's morning reading turned up the following headline, from Bloomberg's Bob Ivry: "Fed Gave Banks Crisis Gains on Secretive Loans Low as 0.01%"

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But by launching his campaign with outrageous demagoguery, Pres. Barack Obama “made it clear” he will avoid fundamentals. He counts on emotional appeals to self interest – private and corporate welfare recipients, elderly who make old age a profession out of human tragedy, all interests vying for favor at the public trough.

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Given the presidency’s dual role as chief of state as well as chief executor, celebration of a multitude of ceremonies is necessary and fitting – all the more in times of peril when the nation’s spirit needs uplift. But Mr. Obama’s sports addiction, his gliterrati extravaganzas, his causal acknowledgement of our closest allies’ tragedies, and his wife’s Marie-Antoinette progressions are increasingly bizarre. Importing a Chicago Daley mob family member, supposedly as a pragmatic chief of staff, so far has not injected restraint much less austerity.

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We put out a research note earlier this week downgrading Wells Fargo & Co ("WFC"/Q3 2010 Bank Stress Rating: "B"). Of course the media focused on the departure of Howard Atkins, the former CFO who retired suddenly and without notice, but ignored the disclosure and governance issues.

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When scientists get further along with epigenetics, they may discover the Chinese have two unique DNA: a gambling gene, and another for hospitality. The first, of course, explains why Macau is odds-on favorite for replacing Vegas as No. 1 world gambling champion. The second suggests why few escape the lure of a Chinese campaign to win visitors’ hearts and minds.

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"By attempting to gratify their desires we have in the results of our legislation arrayed section against section, interest against interest, and man against man, in a fearful commotion which threatens to shake the foundations of our Union." -- Andrew Jackson, Veto Message to Congress regarding the Second Bank of the United States, 1832

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The fact that the unveiling of Facebook was done with so much noise and fanfare by GS, a firm that never does anything rash you understand, suggests that there was a need to divert attention from the issue of valuation.

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When people ask what to expect in the large bank, GSE and real estate sectors in 2011, we say that the day of reckoning put off by not restructuring Countrywide, Bear, Merrill, Wachovia et al two years ago is now coming due. The operational and financial reality of insolvency can only be put off for so long. Or to refer to the immortal words of Joaquin “el chapo” Guzman, spoken after the mistaken 1993 killing of Cardinal Posadas at the Guadalajara airport: “Esto se va a poner de la chingada”

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Rather than trying to achieve some illusory political game by moving forward with another pretend scheme for the disposal of the stake in AIG, a scheme dreamed up in a hasty and ill-considered fashion, Secretary Geithner and the White House should start with a small but very important step, namely to reorganize the public stakes in AIG and other firms now held by the Fed.