No business could ever survive, much less pay its executives the $110 million that Clinton cronies got paid for collapsing the two mortgage giants, except the two government run giants...products of the usual government incompetence!

Fannie Mae, the mortgage-finance company under federal conservatorship, said it will seek $15.3 billion in aid from the U.S. Treasury after posting a 10th straight quarterly loss. Why can't we all qualify to receive this never ending government handout?

A fourth-quarter net loss of $16.3 billion, or $2.87 a share, pushed the company to request its fifth draw on an unlimited lifeline from the government, Washington-based Fannie Mae said in a filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Fannie Mae, which posted $120.5 billion in losses over the previous nine quarters, has taken $59.9 billion in federal aid since April. Its shares, which peaked at $87.81 in December 2000, closed at 99 cents today in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The Treasury owns 79.9 percent of Fannie Mae’s outstanding common shares.

Washington-based Fannie Mae, which owns or guarantees about 28 percent of the $11.8 trillion U.S. home-loan market, has been hobbled by a three-year housing slump that wiped 28 percent from home values nationwide and led to record foreclosures. Fannie Mae lost $74.4 billion for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, compared with $59.8 billion in 2008.

“Our financial results for 2009 reflected the continued adverse impact of the weak economy and housing market, which has resulted in record mortgage delinquencies and contributed to our recording significant credit-related expenses and net losses during each quarter of the year,” Fannie Mae said in the filing today.

Fannie Mae’s borrowings from Treasury will total $76.2 billion after the next payout, carrying with it an annual dividend cost of $7.6 billion, which the company said it will repay by borrowing more money from the Treasury. “This amount exceeds our reported annual net income for all but one of the last eight years, in most cases by a significant margin,” the company said.

The company said the ability to tap continuing cash infusions from the Treasury this year “is critical to keeping us solvent and avoiding the appointment of a receiver.”

The loss in the fourth quarter was driven in part by a $5 billion writedown on low-income housing tax credits that the Treasury Department barred the company from selling. Rival Freddie Mac took a $3.4 billion charge for the same reason.

These two losers are competing on who will achieve the larger loss, as their management honchos get paid millions and actually get "bonus" payments for their performance!

Losses at Fannie Mae are likely to grow with rising unemployment and costs to implement President Barack Obama’s plans to reduce foreclosures, the company said.

Let me understand this...Obama's plan to reduce foreclosures will grow the losses, what type of lunacy is this plan????

Fannie Mae and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac survived last year on investments the government made in the companies after regulators put them in conservatorship in September 2008. The Treasury on Christmas Eve removed a $200 billion limit on each company, extending unlimited backing through 2012.

The two companies own or guarantee more than $5 trillion in U.S. residential debt, and were responsible for as much as 75 percent of the new mortgages made last year.

This is happening because with the artificially low interest rates, nobody in his right mind would want to own 30 year mortgages that pay 4%-5%...DUH! This is NOT a reasonable market rate for mortgages with such high risk. If mortgage rates were not artificially held down by government fiat, these organizations would not have to guarantee them, as market forces would be at work.

For instance, when I last refinanced my mortgage, I opted for the then available no doc, no income mortgage loan, and with that I was prepared to pay and paid a higher rate for the privilege of obtaining a loan with minimum documentation. This did not render my mortgage loan any less value, but instead provided the owner of that note, a higher rate of interest inherent with the lesser documentation, and allowed me to choose that option for that privilege.

A record 3 million U.S. homes will be repossessed by lenders this year as unemployment and depressed home values leave borrowers unable to sell or make their house payments, according to a RealtyTrac Inc. forecast last month. Last year there were 2.82 million foreclosures, the most since the Irvine, California-based company began compiling data in 2005.

Fannie Mae and smaller rival Freddie Mac were chartered by the government primarily to lower the cost of homeownership by buying mortgages from lenders, freeing up cash at banks to make more loans. The companies make money by financing mortgage-asset purchases with lower-cost debt and by charging fees to guarantee securities they create out of home loans from lenders.

Fannie Mae’s net worth, or the difference between assets and liabilities, was negative $15.3 billion as of Dec. 31, compared with negative $15 billion on Sept. 30 and negative $10.6 billion on June 30, according to company statements.

For the fourth quarter, Fannie Mae decreased reserves for future credit losses to $64.9 billion last quarter from $65.9 billion in the previous quarter.

The amount of nonperforming loans that Fannie Mae guarantees for other investors rose to $174.6 billion from $163.9 billion in the third quarter, according to the filing. Fannie Mae also owned $41.9 billion in non-performing loans as of Dec. 31, up from $34.2 billion in the third quarter.

The fair value of Fannie Mae’s assets was negative $98.8 billion last quarter, compared with negative $90.4 billion at the end of September.

The Obama administration will wait until next year to seek legislation that addresses the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told the House Budget Committee on Feb. 24.

“We are going to propose reforms to the Congress next year to try to make sure we bring about fundamental change in the housing market and get ourselves in a position where the government is playing a less risky, but more constructive role in supporting housing markets,” Geithner said. “That’s going to be a difficult set of reforms.”

The Treasury and the companies’ regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, blocked Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae from selling their low-income housing tax credits, which can only be recognized if the companies expect to be profitable.

The Treasury found that an agreement Fannie Mae had to sell about half of its credits would have cost taxpayers more than the company would gain from the deal, according to a November letter to that company.

Why do we need these corporations to continue to lose our money? If we simply let market forces operate the markets would provide for a "market based" mortgage trading system which would provide real world market pricing, we as taxpayers would not suffer ANY losses...investors who want to take the risk would take the risk and any losses...they take that market risk based on the fees/interest they receive.

Does market based mortgage trading make more sense than constantly having to make good on bad borrowers mistakes?


American International Group Inc., the newest gem of a business owned 80% by the government, predictably reported a quarterly loss of $8.9 billion, hurt by loss reserves and efforts to repay the U.S. government, as it struggles to find its feet more than a year after its $182.3 billion rescue.

Can you name any government owned/run entity that is ever profitable?

Remember when the government took over and was running a famous Nevada brothel, and it LOST money under government ownership?

AIG's general insurance unit, Chartis, and domestic life insurance and retirement services, SunAmerica Financial Group, showed improvement. But the market remained skeptical, and AIG shares fell 7.9 percent to $25.33 in Friday midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The loss shows the U.S. government, which owns nearly 80 percent of the insurer, still has a long wait before it gets back its direct investment in AIG, which includes about $25 billion outstanding under a Federal Reserve Bank of New York credit facility and roughly $45 billion in equity.

AIG reported a fourth-quarter adjusted loss of $7.2 billion, or $53.23 per share, compared with an adjusted loss of $38.5 billion, or $287.69 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts had been expecting a loss of $3.94 per share. It was not immediately clear whether the results were comparable with the estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Now let's see, they were predicting a $3.94 loss per share, and the actual government run/supervised loss was $53.23 a share? Sounds about right when it comes to government estimates.

The net loss includes $6.2 billion related to paying back the New York Fed, $2.8 billion on the pending sale of Nan Shan Life Insurance Co, $2.3 billion in increased commercial insurance reserves, and a $2.7 billion valuation allowance charge for tax benefits not presently recognizable.

Bergman said the increase in its loss reserves made AIG an outlier in the industry.

"We are seeing largely around the industry favorable reserve development," Bergman said. "The fact that AIG is taking bigger hits on its underwriting is a little cause for pause."

Chief Executive Robert Benmosche, who envisions a smaller AIG in the future ( yeah really small), with global property-casualty and U.S. life and annuity operations at its core, struck a hopeful note.

"While we are not out of the woods by any stretch, these numbers represent a substantial improvement from just one year ago," Benmosche said in a recorded message on Friday.

Chartis' net premiums decreased 2.2 percent over the year-ago quarter but improved over the previous 2009 quarters, reflecting better retention, new business and more stable rate environment.

"They stopped the bleeding, it appears." Bergman said. But he added, "That's on the surface. It is hard to know the quality of their business and what price they are writing."

Thomas Russo, a partner and portfolio manager at Gardner Russo & Gardner, said implicit support from the U.S. government was an advantage for AIG in the marketplace.

"Competitors will let you know that it is a difficult time to compete against an AIG business because they can go after business at terms that are probably not fairly reflecting the risk that an insurer might face," Russo said.

Benmosche also touted an operating profit at SunAmerica after a year-ago loss, highlighting that it had regained the No. 1 position in selling fixed annuity products through banks.

But fixed annuity sales through banks accounted for only about a quarter of the overall market, said Clark Troy, a senior analyst at Aite Group.

"Having leadership in a very small pond is not material to the overall results of the company," the analyst said.

"They are slightly below industry trends," said Troy, who focuses on life insurance. "For overseas markets as a whole, they are slightly under-performing my best estimate."

AIG said it expects property and casualty market pricing to continue to decline in 2010. It expects modest premium growth this year, driven by foreign general insurance.

In domestic life insurance, AIG expects sales and deposits to gradually recover in 2010-2011. It sees sales of foreign life investment-oriented products to continue to be lower than historic levels.

AIG has also decided not to use securitized U.S. life insurance policies to pay down its New York Fed credit facility.

"We think the combination of strategic asset sales and reviving businesses will generate sufficient funds to repay the taxpayer, mooting the need to pursue the previously contemplated life insurance securitization," AIG spokesman Mark Herr said.

AIG is in talks to sell its American Life Insurance Co unit to MetLife Inc (NYSE:MET - News) in what could be a $15 billion deal, but the sale has been delayed over a tax matter.

AIG is also moving ahead with an initial public offering of American International Assurance, its Asian life insurance business, which could fetch more than $10 billion.

AIG also said it continues to address funding needs and is exploring strategic restructuring opportunities for International Lease Finance Corp and American General Finance.

In a regulatory filing AIG warned, as it has done in previous filings, that it may need additional U.S. government support, but not how much, another $180 billion perhaps?. But it also said it will have adequate liquidity to "finance and operate AIG's businesses and continue as a going concern for at least the next twelve months."


All consumer sentiment was weaker in February, as Americans grew more impatient with the government's gridlock over efforts to stimulate jobs, a survey released on Friday showed.

While not fearful of another spike in layoffs, consumers have turned more gloomy about their job and income prospects, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's Surveys of Consumers.


Every person I talk to who is not working for themselves is fearful of what will happen as their companies are all cutting back on everything. Those who are working for themselves are fearful that their client base will go away, as cut backs occur. A long time supplier that we have used to service our copiers, and office equipment for the last 18 years has seen his business off by such an amount, that he is now the ONLY service guy in the business.

"Consumers have been getting more impatient with the slow progress of the stimulus program ( name any project that you are impacted by and stimulated), and confidence in the Obama administration's economic policies has begun to wane," Richard Curtin, director of the surveys, said in a statement.

The survey's overall index of consumer sentiment was at 73.6 in February, down from 74.4 in January and below the 74.0 forecast by analysts polled by Reuters. The preliminary February reading was 73.7.

We are amazed that it is that high!

The gauge of current economic conditions was at 81.8 for the month, up from January's reading of 81.1. This compares with 84.1 in the preliminary figures and 82.0 predicted by analysts.

The survey's barometer of consumer expectations weakened to 68.4 in February from 70.1 in January. It fell short of the 69.9 forecast by analyst but it did improve from the preliminary figure of 66.9.

The index of consumers' 12-month economic outlook fell to 80 from 84 in January, but it was up from 79 in early February. Just wait as the summer months come and with no improvement in the economy, this index will tank even more when the new graduates start looking for jobs.


this month Iraq will finalize contracts with ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP to develop some of its biggest oil fields. These giants are among the world's last remaining pockets of so-called "easy oil." They don't require ultra-deep drilling or innovative production techniques, just the application of Big Oil know-how. No wonder the oil companies agreed to develop Iraq's fields without even getting an ownership stake in the fields and collecting as little as $1.15 per barrel recovered.

Strangely our oil companies are forbidden to drill for the estimated 115 BILLION barrels of oil that are estimated to be right off our shores, instead our money will go to the Mideast, and other countries like CUBA will be drilling off our coast!

Given the size of Iraq's undeveloped giants there are no technical reasons why within 10 years the country can't supplant both Iran and Russia to become the world's No. 2 oil producer after Saudi Arabia. No wonder Iraq holds three of the top 10 fields of the future.

The world gets its daily ration of 85 million barrels of oil from more than 4,000 fields. Most of these are small, less than 20,000 barrels per day. Giants, producing more than 100,000 bpd, account for just 3%. Then there's the mega fields that gush out 1 million bpd. These are the most important sources of energy in the world--fields worth fighting over. In figuring the top 10 fields of the future, we're not interested in most of the giants of yesteryear, and not necessarily even the giants of today. Just the giants of tomorrow--those fields that might not even be producing yet, but will likely be doing better than 1 million bpd a decade from now.

The once and future king of the world's oil fields, Ghawar, in Saudi Arabia, ranks first on our list. It is thought to have had more than 100 billion barrels of recoverable oil in place. At 160 miles long and 16 miles wide it confounds even the most experienced geologists. With something on the order of 60 billion produced over the past 60 years, you'd be excused for thinking that Ghawar was sliding into its twilight years. Yet the Saudis insist that Ghawar is still going strong, producing 4.5 million bpd from six main producing areas with the ability to do 5 million bpd if called upon.

The secret to Ghawar's longevity is water injection. Starting in the 1960s Saudi Aramco began injecting water underneath the oil around the outer borders of the field. Today the water flood is up to millions of barrels a day, with the oil floating up to the top of the reservoir on a sea of water. In conversations with Forbes in 2008 Aramco executives insisted that by continuing to treat Ghawar with kid gloves they'll be able to coax 4 million bpd out of her for many years to come.

Coming in second is West Qurna, in Iraq, home to an expected 21 billion barrels of oil. This month a joint venture between ExxonMobil ( XOM - news - people ) and Royal Dutch Shell ( RDSA - news - people ) was awarded the contract to develop the 9 billion barrel first phase of the West Qurna oil field. They will aim to raise output from 300,000 bpd to 2.3 million bpd. It's tough to make the case that the two biggest oil companies from the countries that invaded Iraq in 2003 are getting a sweetheart deal. The contract calls for the government of Iraq to retain ownership of the field and the oil. Exxon and Shell, as contractors, are to be paid just $1.90 for each a barrel they produce.

Third is Majnoon, also in Iraq. At 13 billion barrels, these massive reserves are in a relatively small area near the Euphrates River in southern Iraq. The field's abundance was so mind-boggling that it was named Majnoon, Arabic for "crazy." This easy oil hasn't been developed in part because of its location so close to the Iranian border. In the 1980s, during the Iran-Iraq war, managers reportedly buried the wells, concerned that they might be targeted by Iranian forces. The field produces just 50,000 bpd now, but has the potential to do 1.8 million bpd.

The Rumaila field in Iraq, with 17 billion barrels, is the fourth-largest field. In November, British giant BP ( BP - news - people ) and China National Petroleum Corp. won the first oil contract of the post-Saddam era to redevelop Rumaila. Located on the border with Kuwait, the field is already producing 1 million bpd, half of Iraq's total production. The partners intend to spend some $15 billion to treble that to 2.85 million bpd. That output would be enough to put Rumaila in second place worldwide after Saudi Arabia's Ghawar.

So what won't you see on this list? Mexico's Cantarell is nowhere to be seen. It used to be the second-biggest producer in the world, giving more than 2 million bpd; it's now in terminal decline, slipping below 400,000 bpd. Likewise Russia's Samotlor. It was the monster field of the Soviet Union, with production peaking at 3.5 million bpd in the 1970s. Today it's doing more like 350,000 bpd. No respect for China's biggest field Daging either; it still produces roughly 800,000 bpd but is in serious decline.

Lots of oil provinces didn't quite make the cut. West Africa could see the biggest growth of all across Nigeria, Angola and Ghana--but so far no individual fields look big enough on their own. Same for Siberia, which has most of Russia's production, but from mature fields.

Saudi Arabia could have been better represented. Its 750,000 bpd Shaybah field was a runner-up. Iraq too. The government didn't receive any bids to redevelop the 8 billion barrel East Baghdad field because much of it lies under residential neighborhoods. And Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, has something like 8 billion barrels remaining, but it was damaged by overproduction in the latter years of Saddam's rule and won't likely regain its peak of 700,000 bpd.

Unless we develop the vast USA offshore fields, we will continue to be reliant on unstable nations for our most important economic driver, OIL.

Can anybody in Washington start acting for the benefit of Americans that elected them, or just for the benefit of the lobby groups for Iraq?


Today was quite a day of revelation for me. The governor of our state, which is facing one of the most startling budget deficits, was running an advertisement that supported feeling sorry for those people in our state that would no longer be able to get; FREE MAMMOGRAMS, FREE MEDICAL CARE, FREE HOUSING, FREE MEDICINES, FREE BUS RIDES, FREE PUBLIC ASSISTANCE PAYMENTS, FREE UTILITIES, and on and on!

This ad was supposed to make me realize that cutting the bloated and overstuffed budget of our state, would cut out all the FREE things that our state's "poor" residents were receiving. If the budget was cut, apparently these people may actually have to get a job, and support themselves!

I thought that this was an excellent idea! CUT THE BUDGET, NOW, I concluded from this ad!

But apparently, that was not the intention of the advertisement. It was supposed to make me feel "bad" about all the services that others were getting for FREE, and if the budget was cut, they would no longer get their entire lifestyle for FREE.

Huh? Why do I have to pay for those people, while I have to also pay for my own rent, doctors or bus fare?

This is a nation that everyone can get to be financially secure, by actually working, instead of getting government payments for everything from ME! So what is stopping them from working?

I decided to look deeper into this and discovered right away, that the guidelines for becoming eligible to receive all kids of FREE stuff, not just from the state agencies, but also a myriad of federal agencies required me to make a certain income and thus become eligible. I was surprised to see that there was no point to work at some of the "entry level" wages, since I could get MORE FREE STUFF by not WORKING.

The FREE STUFF was actually worth more than working for the stuff!

I also learned that in my state, I did not have to prove I was actually a citizen or legally entitled to be here, either! I could just get the stuff FREE, by making a certification of my income and need!

What a country, I thought, anybody can get free stuff.

This made me flash back to that late night infomercial guy...who sells a book that tells you how to get FREE STUFF from the know him " you can get $15,000 to open a coffee shop or get $20,000 to go to school...". It appeared to me that this was actually true...the stuff in his book did not even cover the free stuff I learned about for every illegal alien! They should all get a copy of this book too!

We can not continue as a country, a society that provides everything for FREE for poor people ( some of which are defined as making less than $100,000 a year for a family of 4), and the others have to pay for their own stuff!

There is nothing more motivating than to know that if you actually work, you can get lot's of stuff! If on the other hand you do not work, YOU DO NOT GET ANY STUFF!

To get stuff, you go to work...simple and to the point!

So, don't expect me to support any proposals by the state or the federal government that mandate, or offer to give free stuff to others that I have to pay for!

Here is my formula for universal happiness: WORK AND REAP THE REWARD OF YOUR OWN WORK, so that you can get the stuff you want. Don't expect me to work for you to be able to get your stuff.

A president once said..." ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." It rings true now more than ever.

Oh a postscript, the government is broke not just because poor people are getting free stuff, but because government employees are overpaid ( the average cost of a federal employee is over $100,000), have too many agencies doing the same thing, and there is absolutely no incentive pay.

Non productive government employees get paid exactly the same amount as non-productive people, and when they retire, their pensions often approximate their pay and that burden is now unsustainable as future obligations total $100 billion in just my state alone !


Federal regulators on Wednesday imposed new curbs on the practice of short-selling, hoping to prevent spiraling sales sprees in a stock that can stoke market turmoil.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, divided along party lines, voted 3-2 at a public meeting to adopt new rules. THESE RULES ARE GOING TO DO NOTHING TO IMPROVE MARKET LIQUIDITY, AND IN FACT WILL CRATE MARKET IMBALANCES.

The rules put in a so-called circuit breaker for stock prices, restricting for the rest of a trading session and the next one any short-selling of a stock that has dropped 10 percent or more.

Short-sellers bet against a stock, in a practice that is legal and widely used on Wall Street. They borrow a company's shares, sell them and then buy them when the stock falls and return them to the lender -- pocketing the difference in price.

The SEC move followed months of wrestling with the controversial issue. The SEC asked for public comment last April on several alternative approaches to restraining short-selling, and a bipartisan group of senators have been pushing the agency to act or face legislation.

The agency got more than 4,300 comments on the issue. They were all probably against the proposed rules.

Investor confidence was shaken as the market plunged amid the financial crisis in the fall of 2008, and proponents of restoring restraints said they were needed to prevent abusive trading. They maintained that the absence of restraints fanned market volatility, prompting hedge funds and other aggressive investors to target weak companies with an avalanche of short-selling.

But opponents said new restrictions could eliminate the benefits of short-selling -- bringing capital into the markets and accurate stock prices to the surface -- and actually hurt investor confidence. And they are SO RIGHT!

Under the new rule, once a "circuit breaker" has been triggered, short-selling in the affected stock will be permitted only if the price is above the current highest bid for the stock. That restriction would apply for the rest of the trading session and the next day's session.

The SEC said the rule strikes a balance between two objectives: preventing short sellers from driving the price of a gutted stock even lower and preserving the benefits to investors from legitimate short-selling, such as pumping cash into the market. The balance comes, the agency said, because the "circuit breaker" restrictions are temporary and are applied to a specific trading session, in contrast to other alternatives that would institute permanent constraints.

"The reason this rule makes sense is because it recognizes that short-selling can potentially have both a beneficial and a harmful impact on the market -- depending on the circumstances," SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said before the vote.

Schapiro said it is important for the SEC and the markets "to have in place a measure that creates certainty about how trading restrictions will operate during periods of stress and volatility."

But the two Republican commissioners, Kathleen Casey and Troy Paredes, disputed that the curbs would bolster investor confidence and said they could hurt the market's efficiency.

Casey said she was "deeply concerned" that the action seemed to be guided more by "public relations" than evidence of the benefit of the rules. It could "undermine our credibility in the long run," she said.

In July 2007, when the stock market was near its peak, the SEC abolished a 70-year-old uptick rule, put in during the Depression that followed the 1929 market crash that allowed short-sellers to come in only at a price above the highest current bid for the stock.

Last July, the SEC made permanent an emergency rule enacted at the height of the fall 2008 tumult that targets so-called "naked" short-selling -- when sellers don't even borrow the shares before selling them, and look to cover positions after the sale.

Let's see how many other restrictions on free and open markets can be inacted by the government to really screw them up, and lock them down in the event of declines?

That rule includes a requirement that brokers must promptly buy or borrow securities to deliver on a short sale.

Brokers acting for short-sellers must find a party believed to be able to deliver the shares within three days after the short-sale trade. If the shares aren't delivered within that time, there is deemed to be a "failure to deliver." Brokers can be subject to penalties if the failure to deliver isn't resolved by the start of trading on the following day.


The United States has unveiled plans for its new $1 billion high-security embassy in London — the most expensive it has ever built, and another waste of taxpayer money.

The embassy could have easily been built in a more secure area outside the main city center for significantly less money

The proposals were met with relief from both the present embassy’s Mayfair neighbours and the residents and developers of the Battersea wasteland where the vast crystalline cube, surrounded by a moat, will be built.

The decision to abandon the former site in Grosvenor Square by 2016 came after a prolonged battle with residents angered by the security measures demanded after the September 11 attacks. More than a hundred residents took out a full-page advertisement in The Times to oppose tighter measures that they said would leave the area more vulnerable to attack.

The new embassy, on a former industrial site behind Battersea power station known for its gay clubs, will be designed by Kieran Timberlake, the Philadelphia architect.

A moat 30 metres (100ft) wide and rolling parkland will separate the building from the main road, protecting it from would-be bombers and removing the need for the blast barriers that so dismayed the people of Mayfair.

The State Department sought to play down the cost of security measures, noting the expense of London building work. But the price puts the London embassy above the US’s most fortified missions, including the Baghdad embassy, which cost $600 million (£390 million) but required a further $100 million of work on air conditioning, and the Islamabad embassy, still under construction, which has cost more than $850 million.

It also does not include the 17.5 per cent VAT demanded by the Treasury on all buildings in Britain and which the US has refused to pay.

Louis Susman, the US Ambassador, said: “We intend to do what’s appropriate and we are working with the Treasury on that.” He acknowleged past difficulties, pledging to be “a good neighbour in our new home” and said that the ecofriendly building would generate enough power to contribute to the national grid.

The new location will take the embassy out of the Central London congestion zone. US diplomats owe an estimated £32 million in congestion charges and fines, which they refuse to pay on the ground that they are exempt from taxes in Britain.

The unpaid dues led Ken Livingstone, as the Mayor of London, to call Robert Tuttle, the ambassador at the time, a “chiselling little crook”.

This discontent was almost equalled when the embassy learnt in November that its Grosvenor Square premises were to be given a Grade II listing. Despite the development limits imposed by the decision, the embassy was still sold for more than $1 billion to a Qatari company that plans to turn it into a luxury hotel.


Ballooning debt is likely to force several countries to default and the U.S. to cut spending, according to Harvard University Professor Kenneth Rogoff, who in 2008 predicted the failure of big American banks.

Following banking crises, “we usually see a bunch of sovereign defaults, say in a few years,” Rogoff, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, said at a forum in Tokyo yesterday. “I predict we will again.”

The U.S. is likely to tighten monetary policy before cutting government spending, sending “shockwaves” through financial markets, Rogoff said in an interview after the speech. Fiscal policy won’t be curbed until soaring bond yields trigger “very painful” tax increases and spending cuts, he said.

Global scrutiny of sovereign debt has risen after budget shortfalls of countries including Greece swelled in the wake of the worst global financial meltdown since the 1930s. The U.S. is facing an unprecedented $1.6 trillion budget deficit in the year ending Sept. 30, the government has forecast.

“Most countries have reached a point where it would be much wiser to phase out fiscal stimulus,” said Rogoff, who co- wrote a history of financial crises published in 2009. It would be better “to keep monetary policy soft and start gradually tightening fiscal policy even if it meant some inflation.”

Failed Marriage

Rogoff, 56, said he expects Greece will eventually be bailed out by the IMF rather than the European Union. Greece will probably announce an austerity program “in a few weeks” that will prompt the EU to provide a bridge loan which won’t be enough to save the country in the long run, he said.

“It’s like two people getting married and saying therefore they’re living happily ever after,” said Rogoff. “I don’t think Europe’s going to succeed.”

Investors will eventually demand higher interest rates to lend to countries around the world that have accumulated debt, including the U.S., he said. The IMF forecast in November that gross U.S. borrowings will amount to the equivalent of 99.5 percent of annual economic output in 2011. The U.K.’s will reach 94.1 percent and Japan’s will spiral to 204.3 percent.

“In rich countries -- Germany, the United States and maybe Japan -- we are going to see slow growth. They will tighten their belts when the problem hits with interest rates,” Rogoff said at the forum, which was hosted by CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, a unit of Credit Agricole SA, France’s largest retail bank. Japanese fiscal policy is “out of control,” he said.

Euro Concerns

So far concerns about the euro zone’s ability to withstand the deteriorating finances of its member nations have outweighed the U.S.’s deficit woes, propping up the dollar.

“The more they suck in Greece, the lower the euro goes, because it’s not a viable plan,” Rogoff said. “Clearly the dollar is going to go down against the emerging markets -- there’s going to be concern about inflation and the debt.”

The dollar has surged more than 9 percent against the euro in the past three months. Ten-year Treasuries yielded 3.72 percent as of 10:16 a.m. in New York.

The U.S. government will delay any efforts to contain the deficit until Treasury yields reach around 6 percent to 7 percent, Rogoff said.

“The U.S. is in a state of paralysis in its fiscal policy,” he said. “Monetary policy will tighten first, and I don’t think it’s the right mix.”

Fed Exit

The Federal Reserve last week raised the discount rate charged to banks for direct loans, and plans to end its $1.25 trillion purchases of mortgage-backed securities in March. President Barack Obama’s administration is proposing a $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2011 to spur the recovery.

“When they start tightening monetary policy even a little bit, it’s going to send shockwaves through the system,” Rogoff said.

In an interview a month before Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. went bankrupt in 2008, Rogoff said “the worst is yet to come in the U.S.” and predicted the collapse of “major” investment banks. His 2009 book “This Time Is Different,” co- written with Carmen M. Reinhart, charts the history of financial crises in 66 countries.

“We almost always have sovereign risk crises in the wake of an international banking crisis, usually in a few years, and that’s happening,” he said. “Greece is just the beginning.”

Greece’s debt totaled 298.5 billion euros ($405 billion) at the end of 2009, according to the Finance Ministry. That’s more than five times more than Russia owed when it defaulted in 1998 and Argentina when it missed payments in 2001.

The cost of protecting Greek bonds from default surged in January, then declined this month as concern eased over the country’s creditworthiness. Credit-default swaps on Greek sovereign debt have fallen to 356 basis points from 428 last month, according to CMA DataVision. That’s up from 171 at the start of December.

“Greece just highlights that one of those risks is sovereign default,” said Naomi Fink, a strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. Still, “it doesn’t justify the situation where we’re all in a panic and are going back to cash in the post-Lehman shock.”


If you operate a business in Minnesota, get out now, close it down or the "inmates will be running the asylum now!"

A recent Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling provided that an employee who is absent, who never calls in, never tells the employer anything when he is gone, never has any excuse, not even a phone call when he is coming back, is still entitled to receive UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION.

Who is sitting on this court, morons? Must be. What employer under what possible circumstances could allow such behavior and then allow that person when finally fired, seek payments for that behavior?

I wonder if the justices' clerks just failed to show up to work, whenever they wanted, never called them to provide a date when they would return, if they would find the same under those circumstances.

It's time for any reasonable business to MOVE out of that state, and on the other hand, it's time for every lazy, drunk, irresponsible workers to start moving in! There is simply no place better to work and take advantage of the system established to punish work, and reward lazy people.


Citigroup Warns Customers It May Refuse To Allow Withdrawals

A new advisory being sent by America’s third largest bank to its account holders has stoked fears that major financial institutions could be preparing for old fashioned bank runs if the economy takes a turn for the worse.

Originally reported by John Carney over at the Business Insider website, Citigroup is sending the following information to customers along with their bank statements.

“Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change.”

An almost identical advisory to the one being sent out can be read on page 22 of Citbank’s Client Manual effective January 1, 2010, which can be read here from Citibank’s own website.

“We reserve the right to require seven (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking, savings and money market accounts. We currently do not exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past,” states the manual.

According to the Future of Capitalism blog, Citigroup originally claimed that the warning was only sent nationwide as a result of a mistake, but that the measures do apply to account holders in Texas.

However, in a statement, Citigroup confirmed that they had reserved the right to impose the new 7 day rule on all account holders nationwide, but claimed they had no plans to enforce it. The bank stated that they had been forced to enact the new policy as a result of federal regulations.

“When Citibank moved to unlimited FDIC coverage in 2009, we had to reclassify many checking accounts to allow for immediate withdrawals in order to ensure all customers qualified for the additional coverage. When we moved back to standard FDIC coverage with most major banks in 2010, Citibank decided to reclassify those accounts back to make them eligible again for promotional incentives. To do so, Federal Reserve Reg D requires these accounts, called NOW accounts, to reserve the right to require a 7-day notice of withdrawal. We recently communicated this technical requirement to our customers. However, we have never exercised this right and have no plans to do so in the future,” reads a statement released by the bank.

Over the last 18 months, numerous rumors of bank runs, “bank holidays,” and limitations on access to cash at ATM’s have been floating around. Citigroup’s new policy to restrict withdrawals won’t do anything to calm such fears.

As we reported back in 2008, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which guarantees individual accounts up to $100,000, only has about $50 billion to “insure” about $1 trillion in assets across the nation’s financial institutions.

This revelation prompted fears that an accelerating amount of bank closures could absorb FDIC funds and leave holders of money market and traditional savings accounts exposed.


Citigroup Warns Customers It May Refuse To Allow Withdrawals


Obama Defeats FDR (in Spending Other People’s Money)
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
By Terence P. Jeffrey

After he signed a law last week authorizing the U.S. Treasury to borrow an additional $1.9 trillion, President Barack Obama delivered a characteristically sanctimonious speech. It was about his deep commitment to frugality.

“After a decade of profligacy, the American people are tired of politicians who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk when it comes to fiscal responsibility,” he said. “It’s easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits. What’s hard is actually getting deficits under control. But that’s what we must do. Like families across the country, we have to take responsibility for every dollar we spend.”

To put Obama’s Olympian hypocrisy in perspective, one need only examine the federal budget tables posted on the White House website by Obama’s own Office of Management and Budget.

They reveal these startling facts: When calculated by the average annual percentage of the Gross Domestic Product that he will spend during his presidency, Obama is on track to become the biggest-spending president since 1930, the earliest year reported on the OMB’s historical chart of spending as a percentage of GDP. When calculated by the average annual percentage of GDP he will borrow during his presidency, Obama is on track to become the greatest debter president since Franklin Roosevelt.

Obama will outspend and out-borrow the admittedly profligate George W. Bush, a man Obama and his lieutenants routinely malign for fiscal recklessness and who, when in office, was often hailed even by his allies as a Big Government Republican. Obama will even outspend—but not quite out-borrow—his fellow welfare-state liberal FDR, who had to contend with both the Depression and World War II.

In determining this was the case, I credited the presidents prior to Obama with the federal spending and borrowing that occurred during the fiscal years that started when they were in office. I credited Obama with the spending and borrowing that his own OMB estimates will occur during the fiscal years from 2010 to 2013, which are the four fiscal years starting during Obama’s four-year term. (Before fiscal 1977, fiscal years ran from July 1 to June 30. Since then, they have run from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.)

FDR was inaugurated in March 1933 and died in April 1945. He is thus responsible for the 12 fiscal years from 1934 to 1945. During those years of depression and world war, according to OMB, federal spending averaged 19.35 percent of GDP. During Obama’s four fiscal years, OMB estimates spending will average 24.13 percent of GDP. That is about 25 percent more than under FDR.

In the first eight fiscal years of FDR’s presidency, before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, federal spending as a percentage of GDP never exceeded 12 (despite the Depression). During those years, it averaged only 9.85 percent. Under Obama, annual spending as a percentage of GDP will average almost two-and-a-half times that much.

In fiscal 1942, when the U.S. started dramatically ramping up expenditures to fight World War II, federal spending equaled 24.3 percent of GDP. In 2010, the first full fiscal year of the Obama era, spending will reach 25.4 percent of GDP.

Under current estimates, Obama will not beat FDR’s overall record for borrowing, although he will nearly double FDR’s pre-World War II rate of borrowing. From 1934-41, FDR ran annual deficits that averaged 3.56 percent of GDP. Obama, according to OMB, will run average annual deficits of 7.05 percent GDP. When you include the war years of 1942-45, FDR ran average annual deficits of 9.76 percent of GDP. Even without a world war, Obama’s overall prospective borrowing is at least competitive with FDR’s.

And Obama and FDR share one historic debt-accumulating distinction. By OMB’s calculation, they are the only two presidents since 1930 to run up annual deficits that reached double figures as a percentage of GDP. Obama will run up a deficit this year of 10.6 percent of GDP. The last time the deficit hit double digits as a percentage of GDP was 1945 -- when Germany and Japan surrendered.

The U.S. won the Cold War without ever running a double-digit deficit. President Reagan’s highest deficit was 6 percent of GDP in 1983 -- and he bankrupted the Soviet Union not the United States.

So how does Obama compare with the much-maligned George W. Bush? In Bush’s eight fiscal years, annual federal spending averaged 20.43 percent of GDP, significantly less than Obama’s estimated 24.13 percent of GDP.

Bush ran annual deficits that averaged 3.4 percent of GDP—and that includes fiscal 2009, when the deficit soared to 9.9 percent of GDP and Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus bill (some of which was spent in fiscal 2009) after Bush left office. Obama, according to OMB, will run deficits that average 7.05 percent of GDP—or more than twice the average deficits under Bush.

The bottom line on Obama: He puts our money where his mouth is.

Reader CommentsThe following comments are posted by our readers and are not necessarily the opinions of either or the story’s author or this blog.

We can not afford this man's frugality any longer!

A couple of related parodies: Video: Next Generation Reacts to Record Debt Increase: Obama Economic Advisers Found in Jungle Cave Thinking World War II Not Ended

rhyytinen (3 hours ago)
BREAKING NEWS..... Obama, Reid and Pelosi have abolished the 13th amendment. They have enslaved all the legal American children to massive debt that is impossible to repay. they also have enslaved everyone to the progressive religion that chokes freedom and liberty. It is kind of ironic a black man brought slavery back to America. I wonder if they will have to pay reparations one day. Obama, you are no Abe Lincoln.

I was doing fine until 2007 when the Democrats took majorities in the House and Senate. Since then, the stock market has been it the toilet. I've lost over $100,000 in my retirement accounts since then. When Barack Obama opens his mouth, the stock market takes another dive. Obama continues to defecate and step in it. I agree that he will be ejected from office as early as 2011 from some major scandal which will come to light from some of his old buddies who are smart enough to realize Obama is bad for this country and the world. The man is either really dumb, or he is intentionally trying to bring this country down. We can't afford having him in office much longer, no matter what his problem is. He is BAD NEWS for U.S. citizens.

Spending is through the roof, but the rhetoric is even more ridiculous...He has to stop blaming Bush and begin to take responsibility.....The problem is, no one believes anything he says any more.......

Nice article on HOPEY/CHANGEY 'tax and spend'! Is it Jan 20, 2013 yet???

The big government bubble is soon to burst. Watch for the stock market to lose over 50% of its value this year and for Obama to be ejected from office in 2011. The future will be difficult, but true hope and change is on the horizon

Mandatory spending: $1.89 trillion (+6.2%) (FY2009) * o $644 billion - Social Security o $408 billion - Medicare o $224 billion - Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) o $360 billion - Unemployment/Welfare/Other mandatory spending o $260 billion - Interest on National Debt Please note the ADMINISTRATION costs of all this psychotic spending is in the DISCRETIONARY budget and is not listed here. (e.g., Social Security is ~ $9 billion/year) REPEAT: 64%++ of our federal budget is: Social Security, Welfare, Workfare, Interest on Debt, Medicare, Medicaid. This has proven over time to be the biggest financial mistake ever made, and China and India don't have to repeat what is dooming the USA to be a second-world country.

These "Tea party" issues have percolated up with Ross Perot several times before. One might take a look at before spouting off about progressivism being a good thing (The top 1% earners pay 40% of all taxes. The top 10% pay 60% of all taxes, yet there is "more" wanted by the supposed proles, but more like its incited class warfare to create division despite the evil rich paying a lot of the freight.) . Yet, as Perot and folks like Ron Paul were laughed at in the past, now not so much. You see, they (Perot, Paul, others) basically predicted the future with shocking accuracy. The deficits, the spending beyond income even during prosperity, the perpetual wars and the unfunded social entitlement programs that have no hope of working even during good economic times is eclipsing American power.

Yeah, sure. Jobless recovery, right? With old-method unemployment calculations in the 20% range, and the State lie being @ 10%. Seems dire in an economy whose GDP is 70% spending. (Note the media often compares old-method numbers (which are higher) to new method, this in and of itself is propaganda). Treasuries - 80% were bought by the Federal Reserve in 2009. Interest rates unsustainably low, and if the rates pop to attract new investors, debt service load will go form 6-8% of budget to multiples of that. 1 in 6 FHA loans in the trailing 12 months is delinquent. Deficit spending is at an all time high and burgeoning when there is potential to need to raise rates to attract treasury investors. Very, very dangerous to be there. China this week unloaded 32 billion in treasuries. Japan is now #1 holder of debt. US borrows Chinese money to arm Taiwan, and wonders why China is upset.


Who could forget the $5 billion in Obama administration stimulus money that was going to rapidly create nearly 90,000 green jobs across the country in these tough economic times and make so many thousands of homes all snuggy and warm and energy-efficient these very snowy days?

Well, a new report due out this morning will show the $5-billion program is so riddled with drafts that so far it's weatherized only about 9,000 homes.

Based on the initial Obama-Biden program promise that it would create 87,000 new jobs its first year, that would be about 10 jobs for each home weatherized so far. Makes for pretty crowded doorways.

ABC News reports that the General Accountability Office will declare today that the Energy Department has fallen woefully behind -- about 98.5% behind -- the 593,000 homes it initially predicted would be weatherized in the Recovery Act's very first, very chilly year.

The Energy Department is run by Steven Chu, like President Obama a Nobel Prize winner. You'll never guess what the federal government blames for the lack of significant progress.

RED tape.

Not duct tape. Not weatherstripping. But that infamous RED tape. In the form of, well, forms.

It seems that the Pelosi-Reid stimulus plan that was so quickly cobbled together and was supposed to immediately pump so much money into the sagging economy last year included an 80-year-old legal provision requiring all federally funded projects to pay a prevailing wage to workers.

But what's a prevailing wage for weatherization, you ask?

Who knows?

So the Energy Department asked the Labor Department, which set out to calculate what a prevailing weatherization wage is in every single one of the more than 3,000 counties across these United States.

There were some other things to figure out. It seems the law also requires some kind of National Trust for Historic Preservation review for most homes before any contracts could be estimated to be negotiated to be signed to be let to be begun. And states like Michigan have two people assigned to such tasks.

So, good luck speeding up that work.
The Energy folks did tell ABC they've so far spent 522-million Recovery Act dollars on the program. So, let's see, about 9,100 homes divided into that chunk of stimulation change to believe in is -- gee! -- about $57,362 worth of very expensive weatherstripping for each home fixed up so far.

Seems believable for a federal program.

-- Andrew Malcolm


Finally, as the world realized that the entire climate change hysteria consists of a yellowing high school students paper, and Al Gore and his friends were profiting from selling air credits and other hoaxes, the entire house of cards is coming, crashing down.

Thank god, that it is. We were all doomed to live in unheated caves, just like our cave dwelling ancestors to "save the planet".

Well no more, throw the bums out!

Three big companies quit an influential lobbying group that had focused on shaping climate-change legislation, in the latest sign that support for an ambitious bill is melting away.

BP PLC and two other major firms quit a lobbying group focused on shaping global-warming policy.

Several companies are quitting an influential lobbying group focusing in on legislation, despite the administration's push to use the budget to pass greenhouse gas legislation. WSJ's Grainne McCarthy reports in the News Hub.

Oil giants BP PLC and ConocoPhillips and heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. said Tuesday they won't renew their membership in the three-year-old U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a broad business-environmental coalition that had been instrumental in building support in Washington for capping emissions of greenhouse gases.

The move comes as debate over climate change intensifies and concerns mount about the cost of capping greenhouse-gas emissions.

On a range of issues, from climate change to health care, skepticism is growing in Washington that Congress will pass any major legislation in a contentious election year in which Republicans are expected to gain seats. For companies, the shifting winds have reduced pressure to find common ground, leading them to pursue their own, sometimes conflicting interests.

Last week, the head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Billy Tauzin, said he would step down as president of the industry's main lobby in Washington, amid criticism from some in the industry over the alliance he made last year with the White House to support health-care legislation.

The administration had worked hard to persuade industry groups to climb aboard its major legislative initiatives—a tack many business interests saw as sensible following the Democrats' big gains in the 2008 elections. But "unlikely bedfellows make for breakups," said Kevin Book, managing director of Clearview Energy Partners, a consulting firm.

Spokesmen for ConocoPhillips and BP said the companies still support legislation to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, but believe they can accomplish more working outside USCAP's umbrella. Caterpillar said it plans to focus on commercializing green technologies.

ConocoPhillips's senior vice president for government affairs, Red Cavaney, said the USCAP was focused on getting a climate-change bill passed, whereas Conoco is increasingly concerned with what the details of such a bill would be.

"USCAP was starting to do more and more on trying to get a bill out without trying to work as much on the substance of it," Mr. Cavaney said.

A spokesman for USCAP said it intends to continue its work. More than 20 other large companies, including oil company Royal Dutch Shell PLC and industrial heavyweights General Electric Co. and Honeywell International Inc., remain in the coalition with environmental groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council. The USCAP said it expects to add new members in coming months.

"We think there's momentum to get [a climate bill] done," USCAP spokesman Tad Segal said. "President [Barack] Obama's State of the Union address made it clear the administration is behind us."

But experts said the companies' decision to withdraw from USCAP is a sign the politics of climate change is shifting in Washington. When Mr. Obama took office, Congress appeared to have momentum for a climate bill that would push the economy toward lower-carbon alternatives. But as the economy soured, support waned.

The Obama administration says it will curb greenhouse-gas emissions using the Clean Air Act if Congress doesn't act, and the Environmental Protection Agency has been pushing ahead with rule making.

When USCAP was founded in 2007, leaders of big U.S. companies had grown concerned that Democrats in Congress were preparing to put strict limits on industrial emissions of heat-trapping gases linked to climate change. Many executives decided it was better to be part of the debate in a united front.

“ We need to move away from oil but not by government's punitive force. When the technology for alternatives is good enough, oil and coal will fall off the energy tree like a ripe fruit. ”

"The saying in Washington is that if you're not at the table, you're on the menu," said Whitney Stanco, an energy policy analyst for Concept Capital, a Washington research firm.

The big-tent approach boosted USCAP's influence. In January 2009, the group released its recommendations for legislation. Many were incorporated into legislation, adopted by the House, that would require companies to reduce carbon emissions or buy pollution credits from firms that did.

But not all of USCAP's members supported the bill. Caterpillar objected in part because it would impose tariffs on goods from countries that didn't match U.S. efforts to combat climate change. BP and Conoco opposed it on the grounds that it didn't treat energy producers equally.

As long as climate legislation appeared imminent, companies were willing to paper over their differences and continue to work together. But by late last year, momentum had stalled in the Senate as Washington turned its attention to health care, the economy and the midterm elections. Few experts expect a bill to pass this year.

USCAP isn't the only group to be roiled by the issue. Last year, several members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce quit the group over its stance against the climate bill.

Now, hopefully it is dead.


We all sympathized with the Haiti population devastated by the earthquake, we all felt as members of the world community, it was proper to help, many Americans sent money and donated to various charities active in that country.

But other than the obvious need to assist that impoverished nation with temporary supplies of water, food, and perhaps heavy equipment to help with clearing the debris, American were chastised by the locals, including their incompetent, corrupt government officials who complained that we did not do enough, or that we did not do it fast enough, or that the aid was too little!

Such gall, such feelings of entitlement. When did Haiti, that out of control, de-forested, badly mismanaged since 1804 country, get the idea that WE Americans are somehow responsible for their affairs?

Haiti had a population of 6.8 million in the year 2000, and it is estimated at 9.8 million today. This is an unsustainable and impossible population to thrive in that miserable country. This 50% increase in population is the driving force for continued an unabated rise in poverty, not to mention the total incompetence and thievery by every government there in recent memory and before.

Haiti has been the poorest nation in the Caribbean, and has been the perennial basket case since its "independence" from France in 1804, at which time it was its RICHEST colony. Independence, allowed its "rulers", which were described as the first black democracy, to flush all those riches right down the toilet, and ever since that nation was living on the constant dole, the charity of other nations...constantly.

Based on those handouts, the population keeps growing and growing, and why not, they can pretty much get everything delivered to them for free by hundreds of organizations that keep supporting the endless cycle of poverty, lack of education and family planning.

Remember that famous saying, " give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, tech a man to fish, and he can...etc....". Well somebody needs to put that sign up someplace in Haiti, and follow its principle.

Now I read that the Haitians are demanding that we AMERICANS rebuild their country at a cost of some $14 billion, yes we are to re-build that country for them, so that they can continue to hang out on street corners and produce another 50% increase in the population in the next 10 years!

Where do we stop? Have you seen the poverty in the United States?

I traveled though Detroit, that city drive gave me the idea that it would be an excellent place to film the next WORLD WAR II movie, since pretty much it resembled a bombed out, burned out ghetto, and not an American city.

Let's start with rebuilding America.

Nicolas Sarkozy made the first visit ever by a French president to Haiti, once his nation's richest colony — offering aid to a country prostrate after a catastrophic earthquake.

Sarkozy, who was greeted by Haitian President Rene Preval, another worthless despot, as a brass band played the Marseillaise, toured a French field hospital in the earthquake-ravaged capital before giving a brief speech at the undamaged French Embassy.

He said his visit had particular resonance given France and Haiti's historical ties and acknowledged that the "wounds of colonization" were perhaps still fresh in the minds of many Haitians, some of whom blame France for the country's troubles.

"We are living a pivotal moment, a moment of truth for Haiti," Sarkozy said.

Sarkozy said Haiti needs a reconstruction plan that bolsters the outlying provinces to help shift people away from Port-au-Prince, the Caribbean's most densely populated capital. He said one reason the death toll was so high was that the city was not built to sustain such a large population.

He also said it is time for Haiti to take control of its destiny and free itself from dependence on foreign aid, AMEN!.

"The Haitian people have been wounded ... The Haitian people are standing," he said, ending the speech by saying "Vive la France, Vive Haiti."

Some Haitians are welcoming France's new interest in their nation as a counterbalance to the United States, which has sent troops there three times in the past 16 years. But Sarkozy's visit is also reviving bitter memories of the crippling costs of Haiti's 1804 independence.

A third of the population was killed in an uprising against exceptionally brutal slavery, an international embargo was imposed to deter slave revolts elsewhere and 90 million pieces of gold were demanded by Paris from the world's first black republic.

The debt hobbled Haiti, it seemed for life.

A country plagued by natural and unnatural calamities was desperately poor and mismanaged even before a magnitude-7 earthquake smashed up the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, killing more than 200,000 people and leaving more than a million homeless.

Haitian politicians this week diplomatically skirted the question of French reparations — a demand put to Paris by ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. That suggests Sarkozy's four-hour visit could herald a new era.

French officials say Sarkozy will announce details of "a French plan for the reconstruction of Haiti" — if Haitian officials agree. It differs little from proposals from Haitian, U.S. and U.N. officials to decentralize power away from the devastated capital and boost agriculture and tourism.

The trip brings Sarkozy to an island where, French officials acknowledge, fascination with things French duels with strong, lingering resentments.

One official close to the French presidency, briefing reporters in Paris on condition of anonymity, hinted that France is not deaf to calls for reparations, calling Sarkozy's visit "an occasion to show that France is mobilizing to give Haitians control of their destiny and pay past debts."

France has already said it was canceling all of Haiti's 56 million euro (US$77 million) debt to Paris.

In 1825, crippled by the U.S.-led international embargo that was enforced by French warships, Haiti agreed to pay France 150 million francs in compensation for the lost "property" — including slaves — of French plantation owners.

By comparison, France sold the United States its immensely larger Louisiana Territory in 1803 for just 60 million francs. The amount for Haiti was later lowered to 90 million gold francs.

Haiti did not finish paying the debilitating debt — which was swollen by massive interest payments to French and American banks — until 1947.

But Haiti's wealth already was destroyed. It had been the world's richest colony, providing half the globe's sugar and other exports including coffee, cotton, hardwood and indigo that exceeded the value of everything produced in the United States in 1788.

By the early 1780s, half of Haiti's forests were gone, leading to the devastating erosion and extreme poverty that bedevils the country today.

France's other former colonies in the region — Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin, St. Barts and Guiana (in South America) — all have voted to remain part of France and send legislators to the French parliament.



It is no surprise that buyers of TREASURY securities are going to demand higher interest yields due to the massive new amounts of available debt for sale. It is also abundantly clear that the administration has no idea of what is coming...the inevitable interest rate increase, and the collapse of the value of the dollar.

The foreign buyers of securities are realizing that the impossible deficit levels of the USA are going to make us a sluggish economy, and looking into the future, say the 30 year bonds, are not sustainable as debt that can ever be paid off.

Realize this...this is debt that will NEVER be paid off! That is the scary scenario, this is debt that can not be paid off, thus it never will be will just pay interest, and more interest, and that interest amount will amount to the equivalent of the entire federal budget at this time!

The start of the vicious cycle has started earlier than expected.What is happening in Greece, is exactly what will happen here,

The administration said Tuesday that foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities fell by the largest amount on record in December with China reducing its holdings by $34.2 billion.

The reductions in holdings, if they continue, could force the government to make higher interest payments at a time that it is running record federal deficits.

The Treasury Department reported that foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities fell by $53 billion in December, surpassing the previous record of a $44.5 billion drop in April 2009.

The big drop in China's holdings meant that it lost the top spot in terms of foreign ownership of U.S. Treasuries, dropping to second place behind Japan.

Japan also reduced its holdings of U.S. Treasuries, cutting them by $11.5 billion to $768.8 billion in December, but that amount was still more than China's December total of $755.4 billion.

The $53 billion decline in holdings of Treasury securities came primarily from a drop in official government holdings, which fell by $52.3 billion. The holdings of foreign private investors fell by $700 million during the month of December.

For all of 2009, foreign holdings of U.S. Treasuries dipped by $500 million. In 2008, foreigners had increased their holdings of U.S. Treasuries by $456 billion as a global financial crisis triggered a flight to the safety of U.S. government debt.

That flight to safety had driven down the interest rates that the government was having to pay on its debt to record lows with rates on some short-term securities dipping into negative territory for brief periods.

The Obama administration on Feb. 1 released a new budget plan which projects that the deficit for this year will total a record $1.56 trillion, surpassing last year's record of $1.4 trillion deficit. The trillion-dollar-plus deficit have been caused by a deep recession, which has reduced government tax receipts, and the massive spending that has been undertaken to jump-start the economy and stabilize the financial system.

The administration has pledged to begin addressing the huge government deficits with Obama saying he will soon appoint a commission to recommend ways to trim future deficits. Yeah, sure!!!! If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Overall, the Treasury Department said that foreign net purchases of long-term securities totaled $63.3 billion in December, down from $126.4 billion in November. This category covers Treasury securities and private company bonds.

China's holdings are a result of the huge trade deficits the United States runs with China. The Chinese take the dollars Americans pay for Chinese products and invest them in Treasury securities and other dollar-denominated assets.

American manufacturers argue that China's huge dollar reserve reflect a strategy by the Chinese government to keep its currency artificially low against the dollar as a way to boost Chinese exports and dampen demand in China for American products.


I went on-line to get a tax form today, and in the forms section the IRS has listed a total of 1,124 available forms to be used to file various tax reports!

I started looking through some of these forms, and after reading the names of what they were purportedly to report, I started to laugh, nervously, and marveled at how a bureaucracy grows and grows out of control.

It all started with one form, a simple three line form that easily fit on a post card, the first income page three lines, now 1,124 forms with a possible estimated 27,000 different lines to fill in...just think 27,000 lines!

Are these really necessary, some are really funny sounding....

I like the idea of NO FORMS...just pay the tax when you buy something or sell something, and that's it...NO FORMS, no withholding anything...just use it and pay right there, at the time that the transaction takes place, and walk more forms!


More and more people are unemployed or unable to find ANY suitable job to substitute the one that they lost, yet a telephone household survey says that the rate DROPPED!

Fantasy, it seems is not limited to the movie AVATAR anymore, it is permeating into the unemployment data and now we will be forced to endure surveys from people that tell us how many people are not working.

The true figures state that a whopping 8.4 million jobs have been lost since 2007, instead of the 7.2 million that the government kept telling us....that is quite a difference!


The unemployment rate dropped from 10 percent because a survey of households found the number of employed Americans rose by 541,000, the Labor Department said Friday. The job losses are calculated from a separate survey of employers.

Without the beleaguered construction industry, which shed 75,000 jobs, the private sector added 63,000 positions.

The unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since August. John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo, said the decline wasn't a result of a shrinking labor force, which has held the rate down in previous months.

The department also revised its past employment estimates to show that job losses from the Great Recession have been much worse than previously stated. The economy has shed 8.4 million jobs since the downturn began in December 2007, up from a previous figure of 7.2 million.

That's the most jobs lost in any recession, as a percent of total employment, since World War II.

Much of January's report offers hope that employers are starting to reverse course and may start adding jobs soon ( who are we kidding?). Aside from November's gain, January's job losses were the smallest since the recession began and are down from the huge loss of 779,000 jobs in January 2009.

The manufacturing sector added jobs for the first time since January 2007. Its gain of 11,000 jobs was the most since April 2006.

Retailers added 42,100 jobs, the most since November 2007, before the recession began. Temporary help services gained 52,000 jobs, its fourth month of gains. That could signal future hiring, as employers usually hire temp workers before permanent ones.

The average work week increased to 33.3 hours, from 33.2. That indicates employers are increasing hours for their current workers, a step that usually precedes new hiring.

The number of part-time workers who want full-time work, but can't find it, fell by almost 1 million ( yes they gave up). That lowered the "underemployment" rate, which also includes discouraged workers, to 16.5 percent from 17.3 percent.

The federal government has begun hiring workers to perform the 2010 census, which added 9,000 jobs. That process could add as many as 1.2 million jobs this year, though they will all be temporary.

But job cuts at the state and local levels canceled out those gains, as government employment fell by 8,000.

Most of the 75,000 jobs lost in the construction industry came from the commercial building sector, the department said. Construction lost more jobs than other sector.

Still, jobs remain scarce even as the economy is recovering: Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the nation's output, has risen for two straight quarters. GDP rose by 5.7 percent in the October-December quarter, the fastest pace in six years.

Many economists say businesses are reluctant to add workers because it's not clear whether the recovery will continue once government stimulus measures, such as tax credits for home buyers, fade this spring.

The debate over health care reform and the scheduled expiration of some Bush administration tax cuts at the end of this year may also hold back some employers, many economists said.

"Until some of these uncertainties from Washington get cleared up, businesses, particularly small businesses, are going to be loath to do any additional hiring," said Hank Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Investments.

High unemployment could restrain consumer spending, which has led most recoveries in the past. That's why many economists think the current rebound will be weak.

Public concern about persistent unemployment has forced President Barack Obama and members of Congress to shift their attention to jobs and the economy and away from health care reform. The Senate will begin working Monday on legislation that would give companies a tax break for hiring new workers, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday.

The budget plan Obama released this week projects unemployment will still be very high -- 9.8 percent -- by the end of this year.

There is no way that this rate will hold up, our prediction is 11-12% by year end, or by election time in November.


The campaign promised no taxes on the average citizen, only the wealthy, only the job creators would be taxed for their evil ways of employing people!

But now the truth is coming out...nothing but unsustainable deficits as far as we can predict...growth in the federal employees, and taxes, taxes and taxes growing on every level.

These actions by a naive administration will destroy all economic growth in the USA, as well as clearly spelling doom for new employment and the growth of wealth in America.

The administration's plan to cut more than $1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade relies heavily on so-called backdoor tax increases that will result in a bigger tax bill for middle-class families.

In the 2010 budget tabled by President Barack Obama on Monday, the White House wants to let billions of dollars in tax breaks expire by the end of the year -- effectively a tax hike by stealth.

While the administration is focusing its proposal on eliminating tax breaks for individuals who earn $250,000 a year or more, middle-class families will face a slew of these backdoor increases.

The targeted tax provisions were enacted under the Bush administration's Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. Among other things, the law lowered individual tax rates, slashed taxes on capital gains and dividends, and steadily scaled back the estate tax to zero in 2010.

If the provisions are allowed to expire on December 31, the top-tier personal income tax rate will rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent. But lower-income families will pay more as well: the 25 percent tax bracket will revert back to 28 percent; the 28 percent bracket will increase to 31 percent; and the 33 percent bracket will increase to 36 percent. The special 10 percent bracket is eliminated.

Investors will pay more on their earnings next year as well, with the tax on dividends jumping to 39.6 percent from 15 percent and the capital-gains tax increasing to 20 percent from 15 percent. The estate tax is eliminated this year, but it will return in 2011 -- though there has been talk about reinstating the death tax sooner.

Millions of middle-class households already may be facing higher taxes in 2010 because Congress has failed to extend tax breaks that expired on January 1, most notably a "patch" that limited the impact of the alternative minimum tax. The AMT, initially designed to prevent the very rich from avoiding income taxes, was never indexed for inflation. Now the tax is affecting millions of middle-income households, but lawmakers have been reluctant to repeal it because it has become a key source of revenue.

Without annual legislation to renew the patch this year, the AMT could affect an estimated 25 million taxpayers with incomes as low as $33,750 (or $45,000 for joint filers). Even if the patch is extended to last year's levels, the tax will hit American families that can hardly be considered wealthy -- the AMT exemption for 2009 was $46,700 for singles and $70,950 for married couples filing jointly.

Middle-class families also will find fewer tax breaks available to them in 2010 if other popular tax provisions are allowed to expire. Among them:

* Taxpayers who itemize will lose the option to deduct state sales-tax payments instead of state and local income taxes;

* The $250 teacher tax credit for classroom supplies;

* The tax deduction for up to $4,000 of college tuition and expenses;

* Individuals who don't itemize will no longer be able to increase their standard deduction by up to $1,000 for property taxes paid;

* The first $2,400 of unemployment benefits are taxable, in 2009 that amount was tax-free.

What is going destroy our country????


The administration boldly said that their priority now, will be stimulating employment growth and to that end they announced a $5,000 tax credit for employers who add new hires (many conditions of course).

WOW, as an employer I was underwhelmed and turned my TV back to the Tivo with a Simpsons episode that was much more interesting than that the speech.

This "bold" announcement clearly shows the lack of business acumen among the administration's financial advisers who would believe that such a stupid remark would carry any weight with employers.

Why would I take a one time payment that provides less than the the cost of any of the employees health insurance costs, and then be potentially stuck with the new employee with costs such as FICA, UNEMPLOYMENT, SEVERANCE, RETIREMENT, 401K PLANS, and be exposed to the myriad of other costs such as local fees, and charges related to employer costs?

This is NOT an incentive to hire new employees! It is a LOL....big time.

The administration fails to understand that a simple incentive to simply hire someone, makes no sense to an employer. An employer will hire someone without ANY INCENTIVE NECESSARY when he has a NEED for a new or additional employee! There is no incentive to just hire someone to get a puny tax credit...why can they not understand that? Oh, I know, nobody in the top echelon of power in the new administation even had a real job, had real employees or had to make management decisions about when to hire someone, and the true costs of an employee after hiring are far greater than they appear.


To stimulate employment, the employer needs a reason to hire a new employee such as increasing sales, increasing needs to add personnel to help with growth and new orders or to process an ever growing revenue stream. This only happens when the economic forces, or customer orders provide the need to add people to handle the increase in that reasonable to understand?

We normal humans seem to understand this simple concept, yet in Washington this falls on deaf ears....make the entire economy stronger and businesses grow and add employees, they do not need any incentives to add employees, it becomes a natural process and market forces even provide for attractive competitive wages when there is competition for new employees!

In a growing economy, everyone wins!

Businesses, especially small businesses, which generate the majority of jobs in America need the stimulation but the right kind of stimulation...lower tax rates, the elimination of capital gains taxes on sale of businesses, and perhaps the elimination of other employer only taxes that prevent or discourage the hiring of new people.

Worst of all, there is NO WAY that an employer who is currently burdened by a unionized work force would consider even remotely hiring new employees due to the onerous burdens imposed on him by the union contracts, work rules, inability to fire incompetent or lazy employees potential exposure to more unfunded pension liabilities from underfunded union pension plans, etc.

So, to summarize, there is no reason that a union shop ( and generally higher paying positions) would add employees until business conditions absolutely necessitate adding employees, and smaller businesses overall need the same.

So where is the growth of jobs going to come guessed it, a higher and growing Federal and local government bureaucracy! Government is the only growing employer...and with average wage and benefit costs of approximately $100,000 annually, why get a job anyplace else, and then finally with better health care and pensions than anyplace, there is only one place to wok...for the government!

Just like Forrest Gump put so eloquently..." Stupid is as stupid does."