Friday, July 29, 2011

Bachmann and Blood

I truly do not care for Michelle Bachmann in her public capacity as a MoC and now as a presidential candidate. I think she is the Tea Party flavor du jour, and I believe that the “Teasies” and their acolytes cannot be allowed to dominate American politics with their out of touch tri-cornered approach to public policy.

But, anyone who berates Rep. Bachmann—who publicly opposes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and would see them demolished—because her own mortgage loan may have been sold to one of the companies (as was reported this week) is smoking their lawn cuttings

Bachmann and her husband had little or no control over the fact that their mortgage loan may have been sold to Fannie or Freddie and packaged into mortgage bonds which likely were sold to institutional investors.

That is a lender decision, often made before the loan ever was originated to the Bachmann’s and has no impact on them or any other family in a similar situation. The Bachmann’s monthly mortgage payment just was passed on by the lender to whoever invested in the bonds.

Of course that she supports doing away with the secondary market entities which helped her and millions of other American families finance their mortgage loans—and continue to aid about 70% of all new homeowners finance--is another sad commentary on Bachmann’s marginal ability to serve the public let alone lead it from the White House.

Rep. Bachmann would get a more keen, revealing, and educational insight into how the nation’s mortgage market works, if she sought to learn why her originating lender didn’t keep her mortgage loan on its books.

She still can ask that question.


Bored with all of the deficit/budget chicanery and BS? Me, too. BTW, someone will figure out a fix by next week, even if it is some hokey chicanery of the Treasury lending the Fed $100 Billion, possibly using the Fed member institutions as financial conduits, since legally it cannot be done directly. But this is war, right?

The following is a total Maloni make-up. It’s a sports fantasy and it occurred to me as my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates--owners of 18 consecutive losing major league baseball seasons--found themselves in a pennant race in 2011, hanging on by their thumbs and employing a very marginal group of major leaguers, but generating rekindled baseball interest in Pittsburgh.

What if the Buccos could develop some baseball serious talent and quickly? Might there be a way?

(Apologies to the Steinbrenner family and anyone in the New York Yankee organization, who may feel offended by my fiction.)


The New York Yankees today became the first team in major league baseball to announce that it has added vampires to its player development (PD) department, possibly heralding a new first in professional sports.

Rumors have been around for years about Caribbean baseball teams engaging the use of “blood suckers,” but those allegations never have been proved.

Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner, his brother Hal Steinbrenner, Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman and many members of the extended Steinbrenner family, gathered today at Yankee Stadium to explain this new Bronx Bomber first.

Hank, the elder brother, told hundreds of media at a raucous press conference, that 34 year old, Vladimir “Fangs” Horowitz, a life long Yankees fan--who traces his father’s side of the family back four centuries to Europe’s eastern Moldavia--will head a new PD contingent, which includes three of Horowitz’s female cousins, Zsa Zsa, Melanie, and Gidget, all from his paternal side.

Hank Steinbrenner told the media, “It’s a true ‘first.’ Given our aging superstars, the Yankees need some fresh blood, and Vlad and the girls seem to be poised to produce it… in quarts.”

While Hank Steinbrenner, older of the two team owning brothers, refused to comment on specifics, reports are that the new Yankee employees will “scout” the majors for current young baseball talent and—employing the collective wiles of the Horowitz clan-- seek to acquire the “essence” of those players for infusion into current Yankee players or just for warehousing purposes and future use.

“Given all of the new national interest, recent success in blood sucking technology, and the sharing of vital essence, this is a much cheaper way to go than finding or trading for quality young ball players, many of whom initially only will play in night games,” said GM Brian Cashman.

“Blood is thicker than water, “younger brother Hal Steinbrenner said. “And as my late sainted father George—who many felt was a seer--used to say, you never can have enough of either!”

For his part, Vlad Horowitz recounted how—upon hearing that he had been hired by the baseball franchise with the most World Series wins—told his father that this was a job he had dreamed about as a kid growing up in the Bronx and could “really get my teeth into.”

Nobody in the Yankee family would respond to reports that octogenarian Yogi Berra, heralded former Yankee catcher and all-star, has volunteered to be the first beneficiary/recipient of the new Yankee essence extraction process.

Cashman also showed reporters a new “UnderArmour” plasma bag, with a large Citibank and even larger Yankee logo on it, which will part of an early fan giveaway promotion.

Maloni, 7-29-2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Hope I Am Wrong But I Sense the “Undertoad”

More than 20 years ago, after my wife and I read John Irving’s brilliant, “The World According to Garp,” we adopted—as husband/wife code--"Garp’s" phrase for pending doom, he called it the “Undertoad.”.

In Irving’s novel, the phrase referred to a youth’s mispronunciation of “under tow,” an ocean affect which caused the death of one of Garp character's three children.

I feel the “Undertoad” coming this week.

I have no idea how this struggle to increase the nation’s debt limit—historically and almost automatic event no matter which party was in power---and cut the nation’s deficit will be resolved.

But I don’t think the House GOP will blink before it is the catalyst for the historic, calamitous, expensive, just stupid sacrifice of our national financial honor and credit rating, which in turn will cost our nation’s taxpayers hundreds of billions of unnecessary dollars.

If their selfish intransigence produces no breakthrough by this coming weekend, everyone’s borrowing costs--across the board, from the Treasury, mortgage, car, student loans, to individual credit cards--will go up and extract a huge sum of money from taxpayers and others.

For the first time in history the United States will show its word as a debtor nation can’t be believed. Put that in your tri-cornered hat Tea Partiers, Ms, Bachman, et al.

I don’t know how one calculates that prestigious and grievous loss.

But, the Tea Party members don’t even seem to be thinking about the consequences.

I am not being overly dramatic, nor am I trying to pitch partisan blame, merely calling it as I think it could occur.

The Tea Party in the House and its informal leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will pursue this suicidal objective because they can and because they don’t believe that the result will be as Armageddon-like as both Democrat and Republic observers claim.

Besides, they drape themselves in a self congratulatory fantasy that they came to town to make some sort of “difference” and they are not going to do anything too traditional like increase the national debt limit, since they have nothing vested in the system they surely will dismantle.

Maybe a real poll of their constituents might help them better understand their responsibilities.

It seems as if the Tea Party mantra is, “So, our debt and credit system goes boom, big deal. We'll build a better one when we get total control of Washington after next year’s election.”

Scary, scary people and there sure isn’t enough House GOP profiles in courage to go against the freshman juggernaut.

“Our way or the highway,” isn’t compromise TP guys and girls.

This doesn’t mean President Obama or congressional Democrats will be automatic winners, but the right wing TP members stand out for their obstinacy and wrong headedness.

If this scenario unfolds, I believe the nation’s electorate will vote most of them out of office, but at what price?

The irony here is that for a group so outspoken in its hatred of America’s foreign enemies, the Tea Party’s actions will generate huge joy among those who despise this nation and its people. Think Al Queda, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Russia, various Muslim populations and a host of other overseas haters who masquerade as our fair weather friends.

Maloni, 7-25-2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Take That You Scallywags!!

This past week was great for those of us who believe that for years the Right has dominated the headlines with specious attacks on Fannie Mae and its affordable housing investments. With no choreographed coordination, a series of high profile push backs appeared in the past several days.

Gretchen Morgenson’s book, excoriating former Fannie Chairman and CEO Jim Johnson, was the most recent major anti-GSE diatribe, while happy talk reviews of Morgenson’s screed (see George Will) just added to the bull pucky.

Of course much in Morgenson’s book repeats the themes of Peter Wallison and Ed Pinto, erstwhile American Enterprise Institute “researchers,” who have suggested that Fannie Mae feasted on subprime and poor quality loans in the 1990’s—when Johnson was Fannie’s Chairman—and those investments precipitated the domestic and international financial meltdowns three years ago.

(The AEI cabal continues to ignore the fact that a variety of government reports, including from the SEC and the company’s regulator, show how well those loans performed and what few losses they generated. The Fed could well be part of this list of “rejecters” but their memo on this subject still is not public, although it has been shared with Congress and discussed in the media.)

This week's sharp rebukes to the AEI suggestions came from a variety of sources, including researcher David Min, Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, Bob Kuttner, and folks writing about the Morgenson work in the New York Times Review of Books*. (*Corrected from original blog, see "Comments.")

Another liklely damaging rebuttal of AEI reportedly was a special report from the Federal Reserve—sought by the President’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission several months ago—which some media claim specifically rebutted the Wallison/Pinto work on which most of the GOP and right wing assaults on Fannie (and Freddie) rest.

Everything but the Fed report is public and the links to the others all appear below.

Read these writings and see if you think that Fannie Mae, in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, engaged in the shady business which the AEI and their fellow conservative travelers claim?

Now, before anyone runs off and misinterprets what I’ve just written, I am referring to the AEI, Wallison Pinto, WSJ, and Morgenson collected aspersions on the pre-2004 Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac screwed up royally when they bought the Wall Street private label subprime poison in the early 2000’s and I’ve written that several times in this blog.

But, don’t conflate the two eras as Fannie’s (and Freddie's) business and political foes seek to do.

Here is David Min’s superb and substantive rejection of the AEL line.

Bob Kuttner in the American Prospect.

Here is Paul Krugman’s work in the NYT.

Here is a review of the Morgenson book on the New York Times Book Review blog.

Here is a Huffington Post link, which contains the most detailed description of what reportedly was in the Fed memo sent to the FCIC, as well as Wallison’s admission to leaking it to Pinto. (It’s amusing to me that the bogus research—which Wallison utilized heavily before it started getting criticized—suddenly is descried by Peter as “Pinto’s work.”

Wallison “Spooked?”

I guess all of this noise has worried the AEI gurus, since Peter Wallison is up today on the AEI website with a very, very defensive charge that his views were all but ignored, while the FCIC tried to shift all of the mortgage blame to Wall Street. Hardly.

Once again, Peter is prevaricating, since Fannie and Freddie and other government programs came in for FCIC criticism, just not the exclusive blame as Wallison, Pinto, and Morgenson have sought to do.

Compare the FCIC’s balanced verdict with the Commission’s “minority views” which refused to mention the phrase “Wall Street,” in discussing the mess.

I guess those billions and billions of dollars of “private label subprime securities”—which by definition avoided the higher F/F underwriting demands, ergo the name “subprime,” just immaculate conceptioned themselves!!

Maloni, 7-17-2011