Daily Archive: 12/10/2012

Dec 10 2012

Are you an economist or a polemicist?

What about ‘Nobel Prize‘ don’t you understand?

The panel everyone is talking about.

Transcript of Part 1

We’ll bring in our roundtable. George will, paul krugman of the “new york times. ” Abc’s matthew dowd and my favorites james carville and mary matalin.

Thanks a lot for coming in. George, we just heard the lawmakers there as far apart as ever with just 23 days to go, is there any way out of this? Conceptually, we’re dealing here with splittable differences.

Numbers, how high rates ought to be. We really in our country had unsplittable differences. Differences that you really couldn’t compromise on.

This is doable. The problem is, george, since the second world war, really, through all of american history, our politics has been about allocating abundance. Now, we’re allocating scarcity.

We’re not very good at it. I would like to postulate that, the real problem in the country today isn’t the divisions that we talked so much about it’s a consensus. As broad as the republic, as deep the grand canyon, we should have a generous welfare state and not pay for it.

Oh, boy. Paul krugman? It’s not just numbers.

We have a basic difference in outlook. And I think part of the problem is, republicans are unable to make concrete proposals. If you actually look, all of that talk that we just heard, deficits in china and greece, which is nonsense, all of the talk is about how to deal with this, they put out numbers.

If you look at all of things that concretely mentioned, all of their actual proposed spending cuts, raising the medicare age, cutting the price index for social security, it’s about $300 billion. On the wealthy? Yeah, it’s tiny.

What they put on the table is almost nothing. All of the rest is just big talk. How is the president supposed to negotiate with people who say, here my demands?

That’s the point that the white house keeps making, mary, that they can’t give the republicans what they don’t ask for. That’s completely mendacious, the republicans have offered in theory and specificity. Raise $1.

7 trillion over ten years. We have been very specific. Professor — you know we have — that kills charitable deductions.

It hits the middle class hard. We had two different ways of going forward. We will not have medicare or social security, we have senior democrat dick durbin saying social security isn’t costing a penny.

You have those democrats that medicare, medicaid and social security aren’t the drivers of this debt. Even the president disagrees with this. What these guys should do, coburn is right, this is meaningless, they should even given him 98% or they should do what president clinton proposed, which is like it extend it for three months and let the new congress.

We have a new congress, how is it fair that the outgoing congress that lost is making — they’re the ones that voted for it. First of all, what we want to do, we want to raise taxes. We want to raise tax rates.

When you say you want to close loopholes that does not count. You have to tell us which ones. That’s a generic thing.

Are you going to close charitable, state and local deduction? Local finance? All of the above.

What is that you’re going to do? The generic statement is it doesn’t count. We’re very clear about what we want to do.

We’re not enhancing revenues. We’re talking about raising taxes. By the way, one thing that had me mad was, when hensarling was talking, he said that the president hasn’t proposed cuts.

Look at that proposal, it has specifics. The stuff that’s looking forward, there are major medicare spending cuts, mostly falling on providers not on beneficiaries. But there are a lot of detail in there.

Professor, if you cut a provider, that doesn’t cut beneficiary. Is that an economic reality? If you cut provider, you’re going to cut a beneficiary.

Not true. You know that I have spent a lot of time out in the country. I was in norfolk talking about this, to me, this is not a fiscal problem, this is a leadership problem, if you watch what happens right before we came on, the american public sees that and says what’s going on in washington?

What values do we stand for as a country? What do we really stand for? With both sides basically taking out positions where american public is a pawn on both sides of this, if both sides sat down and asked themselves what values do we stand for?

What do we represent? Do we represent a value of shared sacrifice, do we represent a value of balanced budget and fiscal responsibility? We try to convey values to the american public so that we say this is what we stand before.

To go to george’s point, every time the value of shared sacrifice is presented to the american public, it’s rejected. Because they keep telling the american public, you have your cake and eat it, too. It’s the american public fault, but leaders tell them.

You know, this is exactly what we’re doing. We are giving the american people $10 worth of government and charging them about $6. 50 for it.

Of course, they think it’s a good deal. We have made big government cheap. It seems to me, paul, first of all, you may not like the ryan budget.

You have made that clear in the past. But, the house has twice passed the ryan budget and sent it to the senate. They could have acted on it.

Because the ryan budget is filled with magic asterisks, too, it’s not a real budget. It’s a fake document. The fact that he doesn’t actually present real budgets.

Well, look, I have yet to encounter someone who disagrees with you that you seem is that they’re corrupt. Specifics have indeed have been offered. The question is, are the american people, rhetorically conservative and operationally liberal?

We’re in the processover calling some bluffs. George, I wrote a book about this. We haven’t grown incomes in this COUNTRY SINCE THE ’70s.

People have watched wars come. People have watched tax cuts come, bailouts come, right now, after the election, you’re the cause of this. We’re going to — you know, if they cut medicare and social security, without really laying a predicate, people are going to say, why am I paying for these mistakes?

I have no growth in my income. And the top 1% has had 250%. That’s what the average guy thinks out there.

That’s half-true. That’s half-true. The other side says, those who are at fault are the rich people.

You won’t have to share sacrifice if we just tax the rich more. What I’m saying is, both sides have to come to the conclusion that, if we want to tell the american public that balance in your checkbook is a good ia, having a sense of shared sacrifice is a good idea, personal responsibility is a good idea, helping your community is a good idea. Washington, d.

C. , Ought to act on all of the same values. That we want the american public in their neighborhoods to act on.

But, people who are going to a lot of those shadow values, worked hard and played by the rules and saw their income stagnant or go down, they saw the deficit go up and they saw bad war and bad decisions being made, they’re not overly happy about it and I can’t blame them. It presents a political problem for the republicans, mary, the tax increase for the 98%. THAT HAPPENS ON JANUARY 1st.

It does seem very difficult. You’ll get all of this resolved BY THE DECEMBER 31st. Doesn’t that put the pressure — that makes my point.

I’m taking the clinton position here, that to try to, with the president repeatedly wasting week after week after week to have a political — to be able to blame the republicans politically for this, that’s the problem, all of this structural debt is a problem. We do have declining wages. They have declined faster under the obama recovery than under the “bush recession” that’s the whole separate problem.

You can’t just take this piecemeal. Republicans will have a problem if they con trip late on the problem. The reality in the world the republicans, while we’re looking dismal at the federal level have won the majority of the governorships and in those cases they’re lowering taxes.

They are flattening the tax rates. They’re creating jobs and growing their economies at twice the rate of this lunacy that the president continues to pursue. We have a short-run problem, which is purely a political problem about this fiscal cliff.

It has nothing to do with the bondholder and the debt. We should solve that. We should work on that.

Transcript of Part 2

I’m actually looking forward to returning living a life that enjoys a lot of simple pleasures and gives me time for family and friends. Marco is joining an elite group of past participants of this reward. Two of us so far.

I’ll see you at the reunion dinner table for two. Know any good diners in new hampshire. Paul, thank you for your invitation in iowa and new hampshire.

But I will not stand by and watch the people of south carolina ignore it. The joking and the jockeying have already begun for 2016. Let me reintroduce everyone.

George will, paul krugman, matthew dowd, james carville and mary matalin. But first, the supreme court took up two big gay marriage ca they took up the proposition 8 case which banned gay marriage in california. Which leaves up to the possibility that they get to the underlining question is gay marriage a guaranteed right?

Peter finley dunn, great american humorist, his character famously said the supreme court follows the election returns. This decision by the supreme court came 31 days after election day in which three states for the first time endorsed same-sex marriage at the ballot box, never happened before, maine, maryland and the state of washington. Now, the question is, how will that influence the court?

It could make them say it’s not necessary for us to go here. They don’t want to do what they did with abortion. The country was a constructive accommodation on abortion, liberalizing the laws, the court yanked the subject of public discourse.

Let democracy take care of this, but on the other hand, they could say it’s now safe to look at this because there’s something like an emerging consensus. The opposition of gay marriage is dying. It’s old people.

That’s true. But, at the same time, james carville, right now at least, split the difference position that george argued, 41 states still outlaw gay marriage. Right.

It depends on whether they’re going to allow this to happen. His logic point is actually correct. The election just matters in profound ways, look at salt lake city, the mormon church after the election said, well, maybe we’re going to change our position on homosexuality is a choice you’re not born that way.

The effects of the election reverberates all of the way through society. I can’t believe that they took this up. The fact that they took it up, just tells me that they’re going to uphold some of these.

Mary, not just the election, but the trend has been pretty clear over the last dozen years. I want to show this pew poll. It shows right now, back in 2001, 57% of the country opposed gay marriage, only 35% were for.

This year, it’s crossed — the lines have crossed. 48% approaching. Going above 50%.

Support gay marriage in the country. Well, because americans have commonsense. Important constitutional, theological questions relative to homosexual relationships.

People living in the real world, say, the greatest threat are the heterosexuals who don’t get married and create babies. That’s more problematic for our culture than homosexuals getting married. I find this important dancing on the head of a pin argument, but in real life, looking down 30 years from now, real people understand the consequences of so many babies being born out of wedlock to the economy.

That chart. I don’t know why they highlighted 2001. It was a wider gap in 2004 gay marriage was a losing thing for democrats in 2004 is now a winning thing, that’s amazing.

Eight years, this country has changed dramatically. I think it’s actually a positive, because this is a significant bloc of voters that will make a decision based on which party they feel as being favorable to equal rights here. To me, the consensus has already emerged on this issue.

It’s just a question of, is the supreme court going to catch up or get ahead of it? I mean, if you take a look at this, there’s still a division in the country over this issue. But there’s no division in the country under 35 years old on this issue.

I have a perfect example. My son went in the army, they asked him ten years before, raised that hands, who’s for gays in the military, 80% said they’re opposed to gays in military. When he got in, five, six years, they were for gays in the military.

To me, we still, you still have to know that there’s a huge group of folks in this country that believes this issue not ready to be established nationally. They’re over 35. Go to church regularly.

But in the end, this issue five years from now, is going to be more settled. George will, that’s still the president’s position, he didn’t come out with a complete federal solution, he didn’t say it was a right guaranteed by the constitution. He said let the states continue to decide this.

Married law is a prerogative of the state. A new york woman married in canada her female partner, they lived together 44 years. The partner dies, because the partner wasn’t a man, the woman is hit with $363,000 tax bill from the federal government, there are a thousand or more federal laws or programs that are at stake here and the more the welfare state envelops us in regulations and benefits the more the equal protection argument weighs in and maybe — it’s hard to see how the supreme court is going to allow them to continue deny those benefits.

Something of a surprise, senator jim demint of soh carolina left the senate to become the head of the heritage foundation, and it created a big debate on whether he had impact. I believe that I can do more good for the conservative movement outside of the senate. Well, I think it’s safe to say boehner is not forcing either of you guys out, right?

That’s pretty true. It might work a little bit the other way, rush. Right.

Mary, do you think demint made the right choice if he wants to have more influence? Yes, absolutely. As our hero once said, ideas drive history.

Ideas drive progress. And heritage has long been a vaunt of so many good ideas. And they have — they’re respected.

They’re cutting edge. We find in congress, it’s a piecemeal process. These guys have big ideas and they have big frameworks, he has a conservative, as a constitutionist, that was a brilliant move, a good move for us, a brilliant move for him and it also leaves nikki haley to fulfill her legacy, her vision of real legislative reform and real economic reform by appointing someone like tim scott.

Who would become the only african-american in the senate right now. The actual quote, ideas which are dangerous for good are evil. I’m more interested in, what does this do to heritage?

This is sort of taking the think out of the think tank? Right? This is turning — george, you were there at the beginning, sort of, at the heritage foundation.

40 years ago this year I was crucial to establishing heritage because I was working for senator, a republican from colorado, and a letter came from joe coors, very generous to conservative causes, he said that I got a quarter of a million dollars and I want to do something to disseminate conservative ideas. I was out of the office that day, which was a good thing. I went to the press secretary, a young man who knew exactly what to do with it.

A few years later, they opened up the heritage foundation. This was an important part of conservatism building an alternative infrastructure. Liberals have the media, academia and hollywood.

Conservatives said let’s build our own. The interesting part of the insfrak truck — infrastructure is when dick armey, he left with $7 million severance package. At the same time, senator demint, this is a guy who thought that unmarried schoolteachers.

If you unmarried and living with somebody you shouldn’t be teaching. He had a big influence in the senate. He had big influence.

He’s a very gutsy guy. He was gutsy, I’ll give him that. Well, that’s what I was going to say.

Two things. First thing, his biggest influence was keeping the majority in the senate. But let me make a bigger point, I think is actually a very sad commentary on our politics today.

Because, here you have a guy that was a well-established u. S. Senator with tremendous amount of experience in a group of body that was supposed to respected in the world.

He leaves that and becomes a is epidemic in our political world, they now think their best route to success is to work for super pacs. As we step further and further away, people’s success in politics I’m going to hold office and do something good, they now think they can’t do that anymore in washington. Holding the office.

Theyave to leave in order to have more influence in washington. Yeah, I mean, all that really matters for the most part in congress is whether you have a r or d after your name. He can have a lot more influence by moving off to the heritage foundation.

Meanwhile, there has been this real debate of where the republicans go after the election, there were two serious speeches this week by paul ryan and marco rubio at the american enterprise institute where they took on that challenge. Both parties tend to divide americans into our voters and their voters. Let’s be really clear, republicans must steer far clear of that trap.

I have heard it suggested that the problem is that the american people have changed. That too many people want things from government. But I’m still convinced that the overwhelming majority of our people just want what my parents had, a chance.

George will, I think marco rubio used the phrase, middle-class, more than two dozen times in that speech. Yeah, usually the forgo middle class and it’s all we talk about. Is the forten middle class.

The republicans’ problem is the national problem, the sense of stagnation among americans who are not on the ladder of upward mobility. Right now, the widening disparities. Health care costs and the cost of that which puts you on the ladder, the cost of college.

In about four, five weeks, we are going to pass a milestone, a trillion dollars of student debt. More than credit card debt in this country. Two-thirds of kids leave college with student debt, average $29,000 a person.

They’re graduating from college with a mortgage already. How are they going to buy houses, form families and everything else? One of the big ideas that marco rubio was talking about, making sure there were a lot more transparency as kids are taking out loans.

Sure. I thought that what was striking by both speeches, we need to reach out to lower-income working americans, and the idea for that, tax cuts for the rich are actually good for them. No substantiative policy change in either speech.

It was amazing stuff. Well, the gop isn’t a very difficult position. Because the american country has changed and the republican brand and their candidates today don’t match where the country is, fundamentally the american electorate looks much different.

Can I — wait a second, mary. Fundamentally different than american — I think they need to stake out a ground that says, we not only look different but we’re going to say things different. They have to run against washington and run against wall street.

They have to become the party of the middle class, and whether they look at marco rubio or governor christie, their brand has to change to win the election. Mary? You just say that one of those guys don’t look like normal problems.

That’s disdifference between conservatives and liberals. Ideas are dangerous for good or evil. Can I just say we’re missing the reality here, the federal office aren’t the entirety of our problem.

We have mayors who are making progress in all kinds of states and all kinds of different people are stepping up to run for office. Rubio and ryan are very deep in policy. Policies have been reflected in huge successes in indiana and wisconsin and across the country and everywhere republicans hold the majorities of the governor ship.

Two speeches, written, a nice-looking guy, take a good shot. They had a vote, they had a vote and it was a treaty that dick thornburg negotiated that bush pushed through, that everybody was about how you treat disabled people, it was not enforceable. Somebody said, if you pass this, they’re going to break into your house and you won’t be able to homeschool your kids unless you have ramp.

36 republicans voted against this. If they can give a speech, but when it comes time to vote and the same thing comes back, they need to break out, I think the vote was the most illustrious thing of the week. Just as mary suggests, the country is mixed in its views right now.

Next week, michigan, the fifth highest unionization rate, and the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country, may become the 24th right to work state. My suggestion, matt, wall street, main street, and all the rest, I’ll know that the republican party is on the way back when they have a good sense from breaking up the biggest bans. Absolutely.

I don’t know whether the gop sold to wall street or vice versa in this last election. But clearly, wall street tends to be relatively democratic in the past. Now it’s that close to the republican party right now.

Meanwhile, at the same time, we got front page of “new york times” this morning, look at it right here, hillary clinton, 2016, all of her choices hinge on that. We also did a poll at abc news, this week, 57% of the country right now would support hillary clinton for president. James carville, of course, you worked closely with her for many years, it’s safe to say that no one knows what she’s going to do, the point is, every decision she makes now, she has to look at it through the prism of that bigger decision.

Right? Since 1974, sitting here, republicans have always craved order. We have always been people fell in love we’re looking for the next argument.

This is entirely different. Every democrat I know says, hope she runs. We don’t need a primary.

The republicans they need a fight. Somebody has to beat somebody. You got to beat somebody good.

You got to go through the difficult processes. You got to beat somebody. The republicans know that they need a primary.

We don’t want to be slugging this thing out in april. We like winning presidential elections. She’s popular.

Let’s just go with it. The pressure is going to be nor — enormous. You’re making mary laugh over there.

Well, the idea that this defies. I love hillary. I wish she would run.

Democrats, even though they are redistributionists and utopians would not be competitive, others waiting in the wing, would have a dynasties. They’ll have another clinton step up? Furthermore, the democratic party is split.

17% of them are extreme liberals and the rest of them are centrists. The senators that are running are centrists. The ones that just got elected are centrists.

She would to run with the country which would alienate — she bridges that divide right now. What’s happened is, the extreme liberals, I guess I talk to a lot of those guys, they’re also pragmatic. They compromised a lot on health care reform.

They wanted medicare for all. They would see hillary clinton as someone who could continue to make incremental progress toward what they want. I have never seen this much love for someone.

I do think — the whole race of 2016 pivots off of her. I think, whether or not other democrats run, it will all pivot off of her. Republicans are going to pivot off of what she does.

To me, this is a moment where we’re going to have a dominant woman candidate for president. Whether hillary clinton runs or not, if she doesn’t run, another woman is going to run. Washington is in dire need of women leadership.

In the congress. If you look at the exhibition and all of the dynamics, i think — this country would be served well, whether it’s hillary or somebody else, a woman candidate emerged as a dominant force in this country. The junior senator from new york will be that woman who’s now occupying hillary’s seat.

Senator hillebrand. And hillary? I have no clue and I’m not going to think about presidential elections.

I don’t know what she’s going to do but I do know this, the democrats want her to run. I don’t just mean a lot of democrats, I mean a whole lot of democrats, 90% across the country. We don’t — we just want to win.

We think that she’s the best person. That’s across the board. Until then, it freezes the race for a long time which is blessing for george will.

A Brief Note on Mary Matalin– “The briefer the better, I’d say.”

Dec 10 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Robots and Robber Barons

The American economy is still, by most measures, deeply depressed. But corporate profits are at a record high. How is that possible? It’s simple: profits have surged as a share of national income, while wages and other labor compensation are down. The pie isn’t growing the way it should – but capital is doing fine by grabbing an ever-larger slice, at labor’s expense.

Wait – are we really back to talking about capital versus labor? Isn’t that an old-fashioned, almost Marxist sort of discussion, out of date in our modern information economy? Well, that’s what many people thought; for the past generation discussions of inequality have focused overwhelmingly not on capital versus labor but on distributional issues between workers, either on the gap between more- and less-educated workers or on the soaring incomes of a handful of superstars in finance and other fields. But that may be yesterday’s story.

Robert Kuttner: Money Can’t Buy Them Love

It is literally possible to have more money than you know what to do with. Take the case of the private-equity billionaire Peter G. Peterson, who has bankrolled much of the austerity crusade. [..]

The fiscal cliff has had the opposite effect from the one that its too-clever sponsors intended. It has revealed the backward economic assumptions of the Peterson austerity crusade and the self-serving motives of its sponsors. And it has thrown into sharp relief the political unpopularity of Republican positions on taxes and on social insurance.

As Republicans try to walk back their position of no tax increases on anyone, any time (even billionaires, even if the result is cuts in Social Security and Medicare), watch for Republicans to turn on each other.

It’s December. Maybe there is a Santa Claus.

Maureen Dowd: A Lost Civilization

The Mayans were right, as it turns out, when they predicted the world would end in 2012. It was just a select world: the G.O.P. universe of arrogant, uptight, entitled, bossy, retrogressive white guys. [..]

Who would ever have thought blacks would get out and support the first black president? Who would ever have thought women would shy away from the party of transvaginal probes? Who would ever have thought gays would work against a party that treated them as immoral and subhuman? Who would have ever thought young people would desert a party that ignored science and hectored on social issues? Who would ever have thought Latinos would scorn a party that expected them to finish up their chores and self-deport?

Robert Sheer: A Sign That Obama Will Repeat Economic Mistakes

Please don’t tell me that these reports in the business press touting Sallie Krawcheck as a front-runner for chairman of the SEC or even a possible candidate to be the next Treasury secretary are true. Who is she? Oh, just another former Citigroup CFO, and therefore a prime participant in the great banking hustle that has savaged the world’s economy. Krawcheck was paid $11 million in 2005 while her bank contributed to the toxic mortgage crisis that would cost millions their jobs and homes.

Not that you would know that sordid history from reading the recent glowing references to Krawcheck in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News that stress her pioneering role as a leading female banker-a working mother no less-but manage to avoid her role in a bank that led the way in destroying the lives of so many women, men and their children. Nor did her financial finagling end with Citigroup, as Krawcheck added a troubling stint in the leadership at Merrill Lynch and Bank of America to her résumé.

Michelle Chen; At ‘Urban Uprising’ Conference, Activists Reimagine the City Post-Sandy

Disaster has a way of concentrating the mind. And Gotham has always had its share of it: whether it’s a slow-burning disaster like the epidemic of income inequality, the endemic scourge of police brutality and racial profiling, or the chronic deprivation of healthy food in isolated neighborhoods. Superstorm Sandy churned all of these elements of urban chaos. But in its wake, the storm has laid bare new pathways for innovations, and new frontiers for struggles against inequality.

The undercurrent of these contradictions ran through a conference this weekend dedicated to “designing a city for the 99%,” a possibility made more real and urgent in the storm’s aftermath. Urban Uprising, held at the New School and the CUNY Graduate Center (where this reporter is also a graduate student), brought together academics, legal experts, organizers and urban ecologists to broach fresh questions about organizing communities: how to harness the energy of Occupy and channel it into direct, localized campaigns; how to balance environmental renewal with economic development; and how to reorient debates on food policy away from apolitical consumer interests and toward the connection between food justice and fighting poverty.

Susan Clark and Woden Teachout: Community Response to Disaster

n the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, one thing is striking: the extent to which many of the best and first responders have been local.

From Brooklyn down to the Jersey Shore, Sandy has left its mark. But now, stories abound of community groups shoveling sand out of living rooms, feeding and housing the homeless, and arranging online help through listservs and crowdfunding. Somehow, communities have married the best of old-fashioned neighborliness to 21st century networking – resulting in a steady flow of local energy against a sea of devastation.

Federal help is still critical. State and local governments can’t respond alone to disasters of this scale. As comedian Steven Colbert quipped sarcastically, “Who better to respond to what’s going on inside its own borders than the state whose infrastructure has just been swept out to sea?”

Dec 10 2012

On This Day In History December 10

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

December 10 is the 344th day of the year (345th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 21 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1901, the first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel directed that the bulk of his vast fortune be placed in a fund in which the interest would be “annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Although Nobel offered no public reason for his creation of the prizes, it is widely believed that he did so out of moral regret over the increasingly lethal uses of his inventions in war.


Alfred Nobel was born on 21 October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden, into a family of engineers. He was a chemist, engineer, and inventor. In 1895 Nobel purchased the Bofors iron and steel mill, which he converted into a major armaments manufacturer. Nobel also invented ballistite, a precursor to many smokeless military explosives, especially cordite, the main British smokeless powder. Nobel was even involved in a patent infringement lawsuit over cordite. Nobel amassed a fortune during his lifetime, most of it from his 355 inventions, of which dynamite is the most famous. In 1888, Alfred had the unpleasant surprise of reading his own obituary, titled ‘The merchant of death is dead’, in a French newspaper. As it was Alfred’s brother Ludvig who had died, the obituary was eight years premature. Alfred was disappointed with what he read and concerned with how he would be remembered. This inspired him to change his will. On 10 December 1896 Alfred Nobel died in his villa in San Remo, Italy, at the age of 63 from a cerebral haemorrhage.

To the wide-spread surprise, Nobel’s last will requested that his fortune be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the “greatest benefit on mankind” in physics, chemistry, peace, physiology or medicine, and literature. Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime. The last was written over a year before he died, signed at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris on 27 November 1895. Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million SEK (c. US$186 million in 2008), to establish the five Nobel Prizes. Because of the level of scepticism surrounding the will, it was not until 26 April 1897 that it was approved by the Storting in Norway. The executors of Nobel’s will, Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of Nobel’s fortune and organise the prizes.

Nobel’s instructions named a Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize, the members of whom were appointed shortly after the will was approved in April 1897. Soon thereafter, the other prize-awarding organisations were established: the Karolinska Institutet on 7 June, the Swedish Academy on 9 June, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 11 June. The Nobel Foundation reached an agreement on guidelines for how the prizes should be awarded, and in 1900, the Nobel Foundation’s newly-created statutes were promulgated by King Oscar II. In 1905, the Union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved. Thereafter Norway’s Nobel Committee remained responsible for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize and the Swedish institutions retained responsibility for the other prizes.

Dec 10 2012

Don’t Hold Your Breath

Banks are crime syndicates and their management Mafiosi.

Banks Face a Huge Reckoning in the Mortgage Mess


Published: December 9, 2012

Regulators, prosecutors, investors and insurers have filed dozens of new claims against Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and others, related to more than $1 trillion worth of securities backed by residential mortgages.

Estimates of potential costs from these cases vary widely, but some in the banking industry fear they could reach $300 billion if the institutions lose all of the litigation.

Efforts by the banks to limit their losses could depend on the outcome of one of the highest-stakes lawsuits to date – the $200 billion case that the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the housing twins Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, filed against 17 banks last year, claiming that they duped the mortgage finance giants into buying shaky securities.

(I)n October, federal prosecutors in New York accused the bank (of America) of perpetrating a fraud through Countrywide by churning out loans at such a fast pace that controls were largely ignored. A settlement in that case could reach well beyond $1 billion because the Justice Department sued the bank under a law that could allow roughly triple the damages incurred by taxpayers.

Bank of America’s attempts to resolve some mortgage litigation with an umbrella settlement have stalled. In June 2011, the bank agreed to pay $8.5 billion to appease investors, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Pimco, that lost billions of dollars when the mortgage securities assembled by the bank went bad. But the settlement is in limbo after being challenged by investors. Kathy D. Patrick, the lawyer representing investors, has said she will set her sights on Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo next.

What should happen is that they should be seized and the assets distributed to those they defrauded.  Investors should take a 100% haircut and the individuals convicted and sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor.

“All of Wall Street has essentially refused to deal with the real costs of the litigation that they are up against,” said Christopher Whalen, a senior managing director at Tangent Capital Partners. “The real price tag is terrifying.”

But not as terrifying as the tumbrils.

Dec 10 2012

We heard about the Sell Out

It’s a hell of a start, it could be made into a monster if we all pull together as a team.