Friday, October 23, 2009

FINANCEHYPE: No Worries, Your Money Is Fine

There are no problems with the banking system right now. Things may be a little rough, but that's nothing major. Your insured deposits are fully insured. The government ensures it. There's no reason to panic. Nothing bad will happen. Nobody has ever lost a dime.

In other news, it's Bank Failure Friday, and the FDIC has closed 106 banks so far this year, including 10 in the past week (as of today, October 23, 2009). But don't take our word for it - CNN has more on the bank failures as the number passed 100 today, along with a nifty thematic bank failure map. Or, as the AP story says:
WASHINGTON -- The cascade of bank failures this year surpassed 100 on Friday, the most in nearly two decades. And the trouble in the banking system from bad loans and the recession goes even deeper than the number suggests.

Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other banks remain open even though they are as weak as many that have been shuttered. Regulators are seizing banks slowly and selectively — partly to avoid inciting panic and partly because buyers for bad banks are hard to find. Going slow buys time. An economic recovery could save some banks that would otherwise go under. But if the recovery is slow and smaller banks' finances get even worse, it could wind up costing even more.

The bank failures, 106 in all, are the most in any year since 181 collapsed in 1992, at the end of the savings-and-loan crisis. On Friday, regulators took over three small Florida banks — Partners Bank and Hillcrest Bank Florida, both of Naples, and Flagship National Bank in Bradenton — along with American United Bank of Lawrenceville, Ga., Bank of Elmwood in Racine, Wis., Riverview Community Bank in Otsego, Minn., and First Dupage Bank in Westmont, Ill. When a bank fails, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. swoops in, usually on a Friday afternoon. It tries to sell off the bank's assets to buyers and cover its liabilities, primarily customer deposits. It taps the insurance fund to cover the rest.

Bank failures have cost the FDIC's fund that insures deposits an estimated $25 billion this year and are expected to cost $100 billion through 2013. To replenish the fund, the agency wants banks to pay in advance $45 billion in premiums that would have been due over the next three years.

The FDIC won't say how deep a hole its deposit insurance fund is in. It can tap a credit line from the Treasury of up to a half-trillion dollars to cover the gap. The list of banks in trouble is getting longer. At the end of June, the FDIC had flagged 416 as being at risk of failure, up from 305 at the end of March and 252 at the beginning of the year.
In fact, don't even take their word for it - have a look at the official FDIC failed bank list itself. The 7 that were closed just today caused the FDIC's deposit insurance fund to take a loss of $356.7 million.

Sorry, back to the party line... A bank failure, even if it might happen to you, is a non-event. Really. There's nothing to worry about. But don't take our word for it, here's the head of the FDIC, Chairman Sheila Bair, to tell you all of this herself. And she's from the government, so she must be right. No, really, your money is totally safe. That must be why this video was posted today:

We notice something interesting about this video, however. Check out her body language at certain points in the clip. At 0:24 we have a "no" shake of the head after saying "I want to take this opportunity to reassure consumers that their insured deposits are absolutely safe". That may be a subconscious reaction to telling a lie.

Additional head shakes appear at 0:33 ("their money is fully protected, no matter what happens"), 0:42, 0:46, 0:58 ("there are many signs that our economy is recovering"), 1:13, 1:32 ("depositors have nothing to worry about"), 1:35, 1:43 ("a bank failure is a non-event"), 2:07 ("we cannot run out of money"), 2:17 ("our resources run deep"), 2:42, 2:54 (an obvious one; "I do not anticipate having to use this line of credit"), 3:04, 3:24, and 3:28 (another obvious one). It's likely that not all of these are lies, but it's interesting that these head shakes coincide with certain types of statements (those meant to reassure) and not others (statements of fact about past events).

It may be useful to recall some of the doom-and-gloom prognostications made recently. In July, we discussed the Harry Schultz Letter's prediction of an upcoming bank holiday (FINANCEHYPE: Bank Holidays, FDR Style). We also touched on the massive increase in US debt levels (FINANCEHYPE: The Debt Clock) and the likelihood that the taxpayer will be on the hook for most of that (POLITICSHYPE: Uncle Sam Speaks). Another it'd-be-funny-if-this-wasn't-so-serious thing to see is the FDIC's commercial from August 2009 encouraging people to keep their money in a bank instead of in the mattress at home:

The folks over at Zero Hedge are also having a great discussion on this latest announcement. They also have a great piece on how your dollars, safe in the bank or elsewhere, have been devalued 25% over the past 12 years (DOW 10,000!!!! Oh Wait, Make That 7,537).

And whatever you do, don't go take all your money out of the bank! It's safer there - the government says so.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TECHHYPE: Muckety Maps and Madoff

Ya gotta love the Internet, and all the bell-and-whistle technology that's built on top of it. You'll need a modern browser and a recent version of Flash to see this properly, but here's something that's a relatively recent invention: Muckety, "published by Muckety LLC, a company founded in 2006 by a team with years of experience in journalism, technology and online publishing."
The name Muckety derives, of course, from muckety mucks. Some follow the money. We follow the muckety, producing a daily news and information site based on online databases (which we enlarge daily), extensive research and old-fashioned journalism.
This crew, with whom we have no affiliation, seems to be legit. The insights into business, political, sports, celebrity, and other types of relationships in the news can be priceless. If your name is mentioned somewhere in a press release, news story, or the like, sooner or later you'll be in their database. And the world will know.

Remember Bernie Madoff, the guy who went to Club Fed after being convicted of perpetrating a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, the largest investment fraud in Wall Street history? Here's Bernie Madoff's Muckety Map:

Tips: Solid lines are current relations; dotted lines are former relations. You can double-click on any of the nodes with a '+' sign to expand that entity's relationship web. You can also right-click on a node to see additional options, and there's a menu on the left. Nodes are moveable.

Interesting, no? You should see some of the relationships in the financial and political worlds. For example, Robert Rubin (ZeroHedge Profile), the former Treasury Secretary. How about Sarah Palin, Facebook, the San Francisco 49ers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters - or even Harry Potter (Muckety Maps)? More interesting yet, is there really a connection between Barack Obama and Tupac?

Conveniently, they have categories of listings, movers & shakers, and a general news page that are all linked to relationship maps.

Conspiracy theorists, journalists, anyone performing due diligence, and political hacks, rejoice!

Monday, October 12, 2009


This is the latest YouTube viral video sensation - fisticuffs on a San Francisco Municipal Railway (or Muni, as the locals call it) bus in Chinatown. Put "Muni Fight" into Google and you'll see what I'm talking about.

The first punch is thrown at about 1:15 in this clip. Hopefully this doesn't start a race war between the blacks and the chinese (although the comments on the YouTube page are pretty ugly). Be assured that this sort of confrontation is not unusual, though - there have been several of these recently. Maybe it's got something to do with the bad economy?

What you may find unusual is that not one of the men on this bus stepped in to break up the fight. I don't find this strange, however - most of the men in San Francisco are completely pussified, too afraid even to leave the seat up in a public unisex bathroom or otherwise be politically incorrect.

The transit agency is investigating this incident.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

CONSPIRACYHYPE: To the moon, Alice!! To the moon!

"It is commonly believed that man will fly directly from the earth to the moon, but to do this, we would require a vehicle of such gigantic proportions that it would prove an economic impossibility. It would have to develop sufficient speed to penetrate the atmosphere and overcome the earth’s gravity and, having traveled all the way to the moon, it must still have enough fuel to land safely and make the return trip to earth. Furthermore, in order to give the expedition a margin of safety, we would not use one ship alone, but a minimum of three … each rocket ship would be taller than New York’s Empire State Building [almost ¼ mile high] and weigh about ten times the tonnage of the Queen Mary, or some 800,000 tons.”
Wernher von Braun, the father of the Apollo space program, writing in "Conquest of the Moon"

I know you hate you some CONSPIRACY THEORY -- cos that's what crazy UNIX sysadmin wacko nutjobs whose car be filled with McDonald's wrappers and low-end porn be believin', but YO, MORON -- Read, listen, analyze, understand... sheesh....

I've never heard it crystalised better than this, all the wacky little lies that add up to Adolf's Big Lie:

Wagging the Moondoggie, Part I

[ON EDIT -- Curiously, the site, since this piece was posted, is reporting: Temporarily Unavailable.

This account has surpassed its bandwidth allocation at the present time. You may reach the account administrator at

Hmmm... Curious...]

"How many decades can pass, after all, without anyone coming even close to a reenactment before people start to catch on? Four obviously haven’t been enough, but how about five, or six, or seven? How about when we hit the 100-year anniversary?

If the first trans-Atlantic flight had not been followed up with another one for over forty years, would anyone have found that unusual? If during the early days of the automobile, when folks were happily cruising along in their Model T’s at a top speed of 40 MPH, someone had suddenly developed a car that could be driven safely at 500 MPH, and then after a few years that car disappeared and for many decades thereafter, despite tremendous advances in automotive technology, no one ever again came close to building a car that could perform like that, would that seem at all odd?

There are indications that this lie does indeed have a shelf life. According to a July 17, 2009 post on, “It’s been 37 years since the last Apollo moon mission, and tens of millions of younger Americans have no memories of watching the moon landings live. A 2005-2006 poll by Mary Lynne Dittmar, a space consultant based in Houston, Texas, found that more than a quarter of Americans 18 to 25 expressed some doubt that humans set foot on the moon.”

The goal of any dissident writer is to crack open the doors of perception enough to let a little light in – so that hopefully the seeds of a political reawakening will be planted. There are many doors that can be pried open to achieve that goal, but this one seems particularly vulnerable. Join me then as we take a little trip to the Moon. Or at least pretend to."

Friday, October 2, 2009

ADVERTISINGHYPE: They Put Me In The Closet

Courtesy of CANAL+, which is basically the French equivalent of the American HBO, here's a great little video showcasing the talents of their screenwriters.

If you're banging someone's wife, and subsequently get caught in that man's bedroom closet, now you have the perfect excuse: