Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for July 10th, 2008

Mexico, July 10 2008

Posted by Charles II on July 10, 2008

Just a few of the stories coming out of our neighbor to the south:

PorEsto! reports (via La Jornada) that the lawyer for Mexico’s former first lady, Marcos Castillejos Escobar, was executed with military-style weapons outside his office in Colonia Condesa in Mexico City. He was also lawyer to former president Portillo of Guatemala and Esther Gordita…er Gordillo, the teacher’s union official who sold out to join the ruling party, PAN. Castillejos Escobar had never defended narcotraffickers, unless one counts the former president and his family.

You can vote for the most inept president in the western hemisphere here. The anti-Chavistas have managed to push Bush down to number two and Calderon to number three, which hardly seems fair. What country has Hugo Chavez reduced to rubble? PS: According to SdP, you can give five votes to the idiot of your choice by selecting the number 5. I tend to think they have it wrong, that they are asking for your ranking, but the website is not entirely clear.

Twelve people, including three police were killed in a hail of gunfire in Culiacán, reports Javier Valdez Cárdenas of La Jornada. A group of assassins attacked the Mega 2000 workshop, killing six immediately and three as they tried to flee.

PorEsto!: Torrential rains and flooding killed 12 people, including five children and damaged 2000 homes in Veracruz, Hidalgo, Morelos, Guanajuato, Querétaro and Tabasco. In Tlaola in northern Puebla, a hill collapsed, burying five homes.

Maya will be taught as an obligatory language in the schools of the Yucatán, says Luis Boffil of La Jornada. It will begin as a pilot program in four schools in Valladolid.


Posted in Mexico | Comments Off on Mexico, July 10 2008

The drowning pool

Posted by Charles II on July 10, 2008

Keith Fitz-Gerald, Seeking Alpha:

Dark Pools are electronic “crossing networks” that offer institutional investors many of the same benefits associated with making trades on the stock exchanges’ public limit order books – without tipping their hands to others, meaning publicly quoted prices aren’t affected. This is the capital markets’ version of a godsend – especially for traders who desire to move large blocks of shares without the public investors ever knowing.

Some examples of so-called crossing networks include Liquidnet Inc., Pipeline, the Posit unit of Investment Technology Group (ITG), or the SIGMA X unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)….

While it’s hard to say just how this will affect individual investors like us, my experience as a professional trader suggests that there are a few “realities” we can count upon. …:

  • First, as more volume moves to the so-called Dark Pools, the very notion of what constitutes “public pricing” becomes suspect. …
  • Second, the small- and mid-cap stocks that for so long have been the domain of smaller investors will likely become harder to trade. The reason: Dark Pools will absorb the liquidity that’s presently out in the open….The net effect could be that smaller transactions become more inefficient, or that public pricing actually disconnects from private pricing. Either way, individual investors may not get the best possible prices.
  • Third, you can bet regulators will get interested ….
  • In theory, there should be equilibrium between dark pools and public markets, because the seller who has access to the dark pool can choose between the public and the dark transaction. If s/he chooses the higher price, the markets should adjust quickly. If the value of secrecy is high, however, s/he might choose the lower price, creating a disconnect between markets.

    Also, theory doesn’t always match practice, so the potential for a catastrophe is there. Small stocks, which are very often not near equilibrium are indeed a likely place for a crash. But I would point to the futures/options markets as an even likelier place, since those transactions are routinely done on margin. Either way, the transparency of markets are falling at precisely the moment when confidence has been most impaired. This is yet one more disaster waiting to happen.

    Posted in stock market | 2 Comments »


    Posted by Charles II on July 10, 2008

    Dawn Kopecki, Bloomberg (via Ritholtz):

    Chances are increasing that the U.S. may need to bail out Fannie Mae and the smaller Freddie Mac, former St. Louis Federal Reserve President William Poole said in an interview. Freddie Mac owed $5.2 billion more than its assets were worth in the first quarter, making it insolvent under fair value accounting rules, he said. The fair value of Fannie Mae’s assets fell 66 percent to $12.2 billion, data provided by the Washington-based company show, and may be negative next quarter, Poole said.

    “Congress ought to recognize that these firms are insolvent, that it is allowing these firms to continue to exist as bastions of privilege, financed by the taxpayer,” Poole, 71, who left the Fed in March, said in the interview yesterday.

    The key point to understand is that over the last months, the agencies have been taking on risky mortgages, taking them off the balance sheets of private institutions and (since they are QUAsiNonGovernmentalOrganizationss) edging onto the taxpayer’s balance sheet. If these agencies go down, the USG should wash its hands, refusing to back what is basically a corrupt transfer of wealth from taxpayers to private corporations.

    But of course, it won’t.

    Posted in BushCo malfeasance, mortgage crisis | Comments Off on QUANGOmire

    Constitution Cage Match: Greenwald versus Giordano

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 10, 2008

    As most people know by now, Glenn Greenwald has been one of the leaders of the fight against the FISA bill and its granting of telco immunity for illegal wiretapping. Al Giordano has argued that as part of the War On Some Drugs, illegal wiretapping has gone on for decades.

    Glenn Greenwald called him a liar. Giordano and his readers then pulled out the proofs, here and here for starters.

    In addition, journalist Bill Conroy left this in the comments section:

    Can someone get this link (below) to Mr. Greenwald’s attention? Seems he’s still fighting a 20th Century battle in the 21st Century.

    The FISA court has been rendered moot in the global economy. At least the recently passed FISA bill provides for some stronger oversight that was not part of the old 1978 law — so we have some (though need more) hope of monitoring what Big Brother is doing with all this data.

    And long-term, what we need is a new way of thinking, new strategies, and a global alliance on the part of civil libertarians and citizens alike, to protect our rights in this new reality. Divisive bickering and childish name-calling over pet issues is no way to make progress.

    But for someone to smear Al, accusing him of making things up, to me, is indicative of a mentality that is shooting at the barn in front of them while the bull is charging at their back.

    From the New York Times, June 28:

    US-EU private data sharing agreement at hand: report

    Negotiators, who have been meeting since February 2007, have largely agreed on draft language for 12 major issues central to a “binding international agreement,” the report said. The pact would make clear that it is lawful for European governments and companies to transfer personal information to the United States, and vice versa.

    … The Bush administration and the European Commission have not publicized their talks, but they referred to their progress in a little-noticed paragraph deep in a joint statement after a summit meeting between President Bush and European leaders in Slovenia this month.

    Issued June 10, the statement declared that “the fight against transnational crime and terrorism requires the ability to share personal data for law enforcement,” and called for the creation of a “binding international agreement” to aid such transfers while also ensuring that citizens’ privacy is “fully” protected.

    The NYT’s article goes on to explain that independent agencies exist in Europe that are charged with regulating the use of private information and assisting their citizens in addressing privacy invasions. However, the United States, home of the Bill of Rights, the Times articles notes, “has no such independent agency.”

    Now, instead of fighting over a moot FISA court and bashing Obama or anyone else who voted for it, or against it (it’s moot for crying out loud), maybe the energy of the various superstar bloggers would be better spent organizing a campaign to gain assurances from the presidential candidates that they will, in fact, support the creation of such an independent privacy rights (outside the Executive Branch) agency, that has a real set of teeth.

    Not as sexy as a food fight over 20th Century legal concepts, but it might just be the right battle to be waged in this century.

    Sounds like a job for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    Posted in computers and software, Constitution, Constitutional crisis, crimes, FISA | 2 Comments »

    Solar Priuses (And Escapes, And Sprinters, And…)

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 10, 2008

    Toyota is planning on coming out with solar panels on the roof of the 2010 version of their Prius.

    I’m guessing that they’re doing this because of the number of people who are doing it on their own. SEV does Prius solar roofs that look pretty slick and improve the car’s fuel economy by around 20%. They also do solar roofs for Ford Escapes and Dodge Sprinters, as well as Toyota Highlanders and RAV4s. It’s a nice step towards sustainability.

    Posted in automobiles, climate change, energy, environment, solar, sustainability | Comments Off on Solar Priuses (And Escapes, And Sprinters, And…)

    Will He Or Won’t He?

    Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 10, 2008

    Jesse Ventura may be running for Norm Coleman’s Senate seat. Maybe.

    We won’t know until Tuesday.

    Posted in 2008, Al Franken, Jesse Ventura, Minnesota, Norm Coleman | 2 Comments »

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