News from around the web: 2009-09-18

  • Bernstein: Best Value In Junky Names –

    It sounds like Bernstein is moving to the dark side.

  • Obama Approval Stays Steady — Political Wire

    "A new Pew Research survey finds President Obama’s approval rate steady at 55% after several months of sliding. However, Obama has seen double-digit declines in positive views on several traits, including whether he cares about people like them (13 points), is a strong leader (12 points), trustworthy (12 points) and able to get things done (12 points)."

  • Me Talk Presidential One Day: GQ

    The new tell-all book about the Bush administration

  • Bank-Implode! – Wells Fargo’s Commercial Portfolio is a ticking time bomb

    "In order to sort through the disaster that is Wells Fargo’s commercial loan portfolio, the bank has hired help from outside experts to pour over the books… and they are shocked with what they are seeing. Not only do the bank’s outstanding commercial loans collectively exceed the property values to which they are attached, but derivative trades leftover from its acquisition of Wachovia are creating another set of problems for the already beleaguered San Francisco-based megabank."

  • Tim Iacono: Alternative Headlines for 2009

    Tim paints a picture that could have been that is in stark contrast to the present reality.

  • Matthew Yglesias » The Cat and the Tiger

    "don’t forget this Rory Stewart classic: Since arriving at Harvard in June last year, he has been consultant to several members of Barack Obama’s administration, including Hillary Clinton, and is a member of Richard Holbrooke’s special committee for Afghanistan and Pakistan policy. “I do a lot of work with policymakers, but how much effect am I having?” he asks, pronging a mussel out of its shell. “It’s like they’re coming in and saying to you, ‘I’m going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?’ And you say, ‘I don’t think you should drive your car off the cliff.’ And they say, ‘No, no, that bit’s already been decided – the question is whether to wear a seatbelt.’ And you say, ‘Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt.’ And then they say, ‘We’ve consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart and he says …’”"

  • Is Paul Volcker a liquidationist? | Free exchange |

    "No, I think this period we’re going through is kind of a curative process; it’s a purgative. There is something to the old view that you have to have a recession once in a while to deal with the excesses of a boom. And I think we had excesses in this boom, for sure, and we’ve got a really difficult recession. You want to relieve the sharp edges, without any question, but I don’t think it’s been possible to pump it up so there’s no recession at all."

  • Why Didn’t The Major Bank CEOs Show Up On Monday? « The Baseline Scenario

    "More than any technical discussion of raising capital standards or tightening leverage ratios, this presumably uncoordinated failure to show up speaks volumes about current attitudes on Wall Street. The CEOs of our biggest banks have weighed the man and done the trade. They have no more use for this President, no fear for what he can do to them, and see no reason to show support. They have moved on – presumably back to whatever they were doing before the events of September 2008 so rudely interrupted."

  • / Global Economy – China scorns focus on imbalances

    "China – which reacted angrily to US moves to slap countervailing duties on tyre imports this week – wants the G20 to make a strong commitment to avoiding protectionism…US officials see co-ordinated efforts to reduce global imbalances as essential to underpin the recovery from the global recession and ensure the future pattern of global growth does not rely on bubble-fuelled spending in the US."

  • Quality Of Early Child Care Plays Role In Later Reading, Math Achievement

    "researchers found that children who spent more time in high-quality child care in the first five years of their lives had better math and reading scores in middle childhood"

  • Festival of updates #8: Chinese/US attitudes on race, flu – James Fallows

    A worthwhile piece on "the differences in day by day social realities and perceived versus ignored sources of tension in particular societies."

  • Yes, It’s Racism…but it’s Complicated – Swampland –

    Provocative argument. And I agree that Obama wants to bury race as a political loser.

  • Clearing skies over U.S. economy open rift at Fed | Reuters

    "over how quickly to scale back the central bank’s aid measures"

  • Ron Wyden – Health Reform’s Missing Ingredient –

    "“My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition,” …Under the nation’s current employer-based system, most people have little if any choice about where they get their insurance. They just have to accept the plan that comes with their job. That insurance company, in turn, is provided a captive group of customers, so it has no incentive to earn their loyalty."

  • Cassandra Does Tokyo: Apple – I Love You…I Hate You!!

    Apparently Apple uses the same lame customer service tactics all other computer companies do.

  • / Europe – US to shelve European missile shield

    "The Obama administration is set to announce on Thursday that it will drop plans to build a missile-defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic, western diplomatic sources have confirmed to the Financial Times."

    Distraction of the Day: Chevy Crash Test – 1959 Bel Air vs. 2009 Malibu

    1. doctorx says


      Thanks for these updates. The Wells story is truly scary. In a normal environment, I wonder if the stock would really be hanging around near $30 with these uncertainties out there.

      1. Edward Harrison says

        The Wells Fargo story is very scary. You would think having Warren Buffett on the board would keep them from reckless behavior. But, it does seem that they have some serious problems in their loan book. A lot of it is Wachovia stuff which they marked down but still, it’s very scary.

        I thought that car crash video was pretty scary too. I was very surprised at how the 1959 Chevy buckled.

        1. doctorx says

          I suspect Uncle Warren really trusted Kovacevich’s team.? I wonder about Uncle Warren, though.? He’s become a bit too visible IMO.? Perhaps as w Greenspan and Hank Greenberg, there’s an age above which people are just too old to do the job.

          If physical structures such as buildings and cars can be made safer as the years go by, why has finance gone in the other direction?

          1. Edward Harrison says

            Bookstaber takes a stab at answering that in a book I was just reading and referenced in a post I added very recently.

            1. doctorx says


              I may not be up on how to handle this new world–and I see that the “system” added question marks to several of my sentences–but when I click on the link you provided, I only got to your comments section, not the post to which you are referring or Bookstaber (a person or a “handle”?)–what am I doing wrongly if anything?



    2. Edward Harrison says

      That’s probably because I didn’t provide the link! Sorry.

    Comments are closed.

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