Shuckins - I forgot what it was ...


Fat Cats Part II

What A.I.G. Did - One of the most notorious intermediaries of financial lunacy in the perverted post Glass-Steagall era was A.I.G. This insurance company underwrote reckless financial policies (known as credit default swaps) for commercial and investment banks. A.I.G. did this because it collected what it thought were generous premiums that were generating huge underwriting profits for the company. And Wall Stret investment houses thinking A.I.G. was capable of actually hedging trillions of insane bets, escalated the scheming and became practiacally drunk with emboldenment. Virutally every New York-based investment house borrowed and bet as much as it could on flimsy mortgages.
    The trouble with A.I.G. was that it behaved too much like Wall Street’s bonus-seeking executives. A.I.G.’s management team also suffered from greed-induced delusions. As the inevitable mortgage defaults began to mushroom, credit default swap claims against A.I.G. began to mount. Since the company was hardly sufficiently reserved for this sort of colossal-sized folly, before long it was unable to fulfill its obligations.
    New York, Washington D.C. and Corruption - For decades large commercial banks have provided a steady flow of campaign contributions to the re-election war chests of most elected officials in Washington. Ten years ago the payoff for commercial banks wasn’t more banking fairness and less bank risk taking as Presdient Clinton claimed. Instead, it was the end of the taxpayer protections provided by Glass-Steagall for decades.
    As A.I.G. catapulted towards complete insolvency it was clear to C.E.O.’s at the largest commercial and investment banks that they were trapped. Having unwisely borrowed to buy flimsy mortgage securities, they too were at the point of insolvency. And as their sense of greed receded and their sense of reality set in, these C.E.O.’s quickly secured the ears of their former colleagues (Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and others), who just happened to be working in the Bush Administration as high level banking system regulators.
   The goal of Wall Street C.E.O.’s in the late summer of 2008 was to QUICKLY gain access to taxpayer guarantees and cash injections for mistakes they made that should have required wipeouts of their stock and bondholders. To gain access to the seemingly infinite resources of the taxpayers, C.E.O.’s injected a gigantic dose of FEAR for both public and public official consumption. The extraordinary government intervention they sought had to be labeled as an effort to “Save the American Financial System from Catastrophe.”
    Astonishingly, the first step our government officials took in the process of “saving the system,” was to loan an insolvent A.I.G. billions of taxpayer dollars. These dollars were then allowed to be immediately passed through in the form of full face value credit default swap settlements to various high profile investment and commercial banks on Wall Street. Though this was only the beginning, many well-informed Americans knew immediately that a corrupt bailout based completely on false premises and false choices was being perpetrated. The truth being that the government interventions Wall Street successfully maneuvered for, were targeted specifically to save selected commercial bank stock and bondholders from catastrophe.

Wooden Story - A Lesson in Patience

We interviewed NMSU's Head football Coach Dewayne Walker on the Thursday's show and were struck by his credentials and his appetite for wisdom. In our explorations of various forms of excellence and best practices we recall an observation made by John Wooden, who is perhaps the greatest basketball coach in history (Wooden passed away earlier this year). We post Wooden's quotes and picture on this site regularly. In his book, A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, he said:
“Most of us are impatient. As we get older, we think we know more and things should happen faster. But patience is a virtue in preparing for any task of significance. It takes time to create excellence. If it could be done more quickly, more people would do it. All forms of excellence require patience.”
Let’s examine the win-loss record of this phenomenal college basketball coach during a four year period in the middle of his career. In an era when even coaches with positive win-loss records are fired by impatient administrators, we note that Coach Wooden’s team FAILED to make the post-season tournament each of these four years.
Season W/L Conference W/L
1956-1957 22-4 13-3
1957-1958 16-10 10-6
1958-1959 16-9 10-6
1959-1960 14-12 7-5
And when new athletic director, J.D. Morgan, took over at U.C.L.A. and evaluated John Wooden not long after this stretch, he must have agreed that, “All forms of excellence require patience,” because he wisely retained Wooden. In 1960-61 once again, Coach Wooden’s team had a winning season but failed to make the post season tournament. We find it interesting that just before this great coach’s teams would begin to dominate college basketball as none have done before or since, he had missed the playoffs for five consecutive seasons. This should be a lesson to anyone thinking excellence can be achieved by artificial means or rushing.

The Untold Story of ANWR

Even with the oil leak seemingly capped the dreadful consequences of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico garner universal disgust. In fact, so abhorent and disgusting have the images coming from the gulf been that one cannot help but be angry on some level. Let us use our ability to reason to direct our anger in the proper direction. Below is the link to a story written by National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg. It was written after he made a trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in 2001. Unlike 99.99% of all others that leave their carbon footprints while insisting on legislation that has pushed so many drilling rigs into 5,000 feet of water, Goldberg actually took the time to visit ANWR. If you are wondering about ANWR and why we should be pumping oil there instead of into the gulf click here for the archived report of his findings:


Goldman Sachs Gives AIG-Hedging List to Investigators

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. told U.S. investigators which counterparties it used to hedge the risk that American International Group Inc. would fail, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

The list was sought by panels reviewing the beneficiaries of New York-based AIG’s $182.3 billion government bailout, said the people, who declined to be identified because the information is private. Goldman Sachs, which received $12.9 billion after the 2008 rescue tied to contracts with the insurer, has said it didn’t need AIG to be rescued because it was hedged against the firm’s failure. “We want to know the identity of those parties, partly just to know where American taxpayer dollars went, but partly to assess Goldman’s claim,” said Elizabeth Warren (photo above left), chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, in a Senate hearing this week. “We cannot evaluate the credibility of their claim that they had nothing at stake one way or the other in the AIG bailout.” Read more here: