Gold Cadillac

Detroit is going down. The whole rescue package is just so hopeless. I remember when American cars were still attractive. Cadillacs were the family car, my dad’s one life-long fetish, bought used for second-hand glamor. That was until the oil crises hit, when he got sensible and we got a VW beetle and then later a Toyota.

My favorite car was a gold-colored 1966 Cadillac convertible with light seats. I loved the hugeness and sleekness and majesty of it and used to take my dolls and stuffed animals along for rides in the back seat, the wind blowing through my hair as my dad chauffeured us around. That’s about as good as it gets. Today? Forget it. Sinking fast.

1966_cadillac_eldorado_convertible

Hunger

Helmut took out the trash a few days ago and said that a little old lady with a flashlight came round to the trash can and started poking through the trash he had just dumped. Man, this is Munich, one of the richest cities in one of the richest countries in the world. I was just reading the New York Times and found an article/ video about a community in Florida that was booming, with nearly everyone employed, until about six months to a year ago. Now the construction industry is in ruins. And people are hungry: One in four people is on food stamps, the soup kitchens are overflowing, people are are flocking to public pantries. And they have been foreclosed on and evicted from their homes. “People are very humble. They’ve never had to ask for help before.” It’s heartbreaking.

Arlo Guthrie: I’m changing my name to Chrysler

Some things just don’t change. Except the figures, of course. In this old song, just exchange “million” for “billion” or “trillion”. And, ok, ok, it’s all about jobs. Still, not a good move, this rescue.

I’m changing my name to Chrysler
I am headed for that great receiving line
So when they hand a million grand out
I’ll be standing with my hand out
And, sir, I’ll get mine!

Tom Paxton update: I’m changing my name to Fannie Mae

Corporate welfare bums

Naomi Klein (“The Shock Doctrine“) wrote an article in Rolling Stone saying the bailout on Wall Street was “borderline criminal”. In a recent interview on Democracy Now she says the G20 conference in Washington was an epic lost opportunity. G20 reaffirmed deregulation. Banks such as Citibank and Barkleys want to buy up Chinese and Indian banks, she says, so we have heavily subsidized “corporate welfare bumspreaching free trade. Hypocritical, indeed.

Why are Democrats so weak now that they have their big chance? (I wrote an exercise for Spotlight called Nightmare on Wall Street, to practice financial vocabulary.)

Financial crisis: reading

One of the many things on my to-do list is getting a better understanding of economics and how the financial system works. It can’t be totally incomprehensible, can it? Here’s a reading list of blogs:

Tips found on Slate

Japanese banking issues & winter fashion

Joan sent me this: “Following the problems in the financial sector in the US, uncertainty has now hit Japan. In the last 7 days the Origami Bank has folded, the Sumo Bank has gone belly up and the Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches. Yesterday, it was announced that the Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song, while today’s shares in the Kamikaze Bank were suspended after they nose-dived. While Samurai Bank is soldiering on following sharp cuts, the Ninja Bank is reported to have taken a hit, but they remain in the black. Furthermore, 500 staff at Karate Bank got the chop and analysts report that there is something fishy going on at the Sushi Bank where it is feared that staff may get a raw deal.”

Continue reading Japanese banking issues & winter fashion

Stiglitz

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winning economist, is famous for his analysis of information asymmetry, a phenomenon which causes markets to be inefficient because the players have incomplete and therefor insufficient information to make the best choices. A completely deregulated free market is not a good thing, he says; markets can benefit from wise government intervention. He calls the recession we are now facing the worst since the Great Depression. His explanations are quite accessible even to the layperson, e.g. this article, Reversal of Fortune in Vanity Fair, and his interviews and lectures are worth watching/listening to (I’m including some videos below): Continue reading Stiglitz