I picked this up over at ritholtz.com/
Cats for Gold
Google's social class detector: "
Blogger Ben Casnocha explores how Google's automatic search suggestions vary by your phrasing (and the level of education/social class your phrasing implies):There are some remarkable contrasts between 'dumb' searches and 'smart' ones. People who start their search 'how 2' are more likely to search 'how 2 get pregnant' or 'how 2 grow weed.' People who start their search 'how one might' are more likely to search 'how one might discover a new piece of music' or 'how one might for the rise of andrew jackson in 1828.'
The post has a very funny screen grab of the different suggestion lists you get when you type 'Is it wrong to' instead of 'Is it ethical to.'
The second suggestion for 'Is it ethical to' is 'conduct research on animals when it causes immense pain and discomfort.'
The second suggestion for 'Is it wrong to' is 'sleep with your step father after your mother dies.'
Some may initially accuse Google of elitism here, but as I understand it, the lists are automatically generated based on the most common words from past searches."
I have a new politi-crush on Darrel E. Issa, Representative from California’s 49th Congressional Distric. This guy has been tearing it up over the AIG fiasco.
The short version of the story is this: Goldman Sachs was AIG’s largest pre-bailout counterparty. At the time Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs. AIG had been in negotiations to reduce its payouts to Goldman and other large counterparties, when suddenly the New York Fed steps in and decides that Goldman and others would be paid 100%. Must be nice to have friends in high places.
An excerpt from a letter to the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York:
On September 16, 2008, the FRBNY extended AIG an $85 billion line of credit, effectively nationalizing it. According to news reports, late in the week of November 3, then-FRBNY President Timothy Geithner, along with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, took over negotiations with AIG’s counterparties.
News reports indicate that Mr. Geithner’s team circulated a draft term sheet to set the terms under which AIG would settle its CDS obligations, including a blank space in which the haircut for creditors was to have been inserted. However, the haircut provision was reportedly crossed out and, after less than a week of secret negotiations between the FRBNY and the banks, FRBNY ordered AIG to pay its creditors at par – 100 cents on the dollar – not 60 cents as AIG had been attempting to negotiate.
Thus, behind closed doors and with no approval from Congress, the FRBNY may have added an additional $13 billion of debt on the backs of taxpayers.
These allegations, if true, amount to nothing less than a backdoor bailout of AIG’s creditors, including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Société Générale and Deutsche Bank.
The lack of transparency and accountability in this transaction is disturbing enough. However, there is evidence that this $13 billion expenditure was entirely unnecessary. According to Janet Tavakoli of Tavakoli Structured Finance, “There’s no way they should have paid at par. AIG was basically bankrupt.”
Another expert has said that the typical outcome in cases like this involves counterparties being forced to accept haircuts of anywhere from 30 to 50 cents on the dollar.
This suggests that the FRBNY may have paid AIG’s counterparties at par to surreptitiously provide another bailout for large financial institutions. According to Donn Vickrey of Gradient Analytics, “Some of those banks needed 100 cents on the dollar or they risked failure.”
However, another source close to the transaction suggested the FRBNY may have paid AIG’s counterparties at par out of pure expediency: “[S]ome counterparties insisted on being paid in full and the [FRBNY] did not want to negotiate separate deals.”
Furthermore, many of AIG’s counterparties reportedly hedged their exposure to the troubled insurance giant, obviating any need for a taxpayer bailout of these large financial institutions. According to Goldman Sachs’ Chief Financial Officer, “There would have been no credit losses [at Goldman Sachs] if AIG had failed.”
All of this begs the question why the FRBNY would not drive a better bargain for the American taxpayer. If the FRBNY thought it was necessary to provide another taxpayer bailout of AIG’s counterparties, it should have come to Congress and made its case that this action was necessary. However, if the FRBNY simply paid AIG’s counterparties at par out of expediency, it raises serious questions about its judgment and motives.
It is also disturbing that, at the time this secret deal was made, FRBNY Chairman Stephen Friedman, a member of the board of Goldman Sachs, purchased more than 50,000 shares of Goldman Sachs before knowledge of the FRBNY’s bailout of Goldman Sachs and other AIG counterparties became public knowledge.
According to news reports, this transaction has earned Mr. Friedman over $5 million in profit.
If you are not pissed about this, then you are not paying attention.
A big thank you goes out to Congressman Issa. I don’t know what the rest of your politics are like, but I sure do appreciate some one out there going junkyard dog on the NYFRB. It sure isn’t going to be one of the limp puppet heads from my district.
(hat tip: Mish)
Do you have the following items in your cupboard?
If so, please run (don’t walk!) to your nearest fireplace and make s’mores using these ingredients immediately.
The future of America depends on it!