Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New Linked In Posting

Just posted on OW Bunker's bankruptcy in Denmark.  Take a look.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Told You

In a recent entry, I took issue with Edmund Phelps in the Financial Times, who opined in true, brainless, right wing fashion that what was making housing unaffordable was regulation.  I pointed out that modern land use regulations encourage affordability.  And to support my position, I need go no farther than...the Financial Times.  Kate Allen has a feature about the downsizing of housing and multi-generational housing designed to take us back to the good old days before the nuclear family.  And these new approaches to residences are being facilitated (and made affordable) by land use planning.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Ed.

Friday, October 31, 2014

New Posting on Credit Slips

New discussion on Credit Slips with yours truly commenting.  Topic is the brouhaha over whether Chase Bank is actually a secured creditor in the GM Chapter 11.

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International Bankruptcy?

The Argentine bond default mess and the endless litigation over Argentina's efforts to negotiate some sort of settlement has led a lot of people to renew discussions over creating an international law for sovereign bankruptcy.  In her recent article, Elaine Moore states that a desire for a more orderly process is at the heart of these discussions.  Maybe.  I think it is more likely that a lot of people are looking at the extent to which US courts are being used to apply US law to allow creditors to dictate policy decisions to sovereigns, and they would like an alternative.

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IMF Gets Religion?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has long been the global stormtrooper for budget cuts, tax hikes, and radical austerity programs.  The IMF has held country after country hostage to its Austro-Chicago orthodoxy.


Which makes Larry Summers's recent report about the IMF's latest World Economic Outlook a stunner.  It seems the IMF (and Summers for that matter) has finally gotten what anyone with more brains than a turnip has known since the New Deal: If you need to jump-start an economy, the government should borrow money and spend it on infrastructure; you are almost guaranteed a net return.

At last, some sense in economic policy.  We might finally get some alternatives to austerity before we destroy every economy on the planet.  Of course there are still plenty of political prostitutes like Otmar Issing out there preaching the same, old Austro-Chicago Kool-Aid (If Issing wants to see where his "ideas" lead, he need look no further than Hungary and dumpster fire Orban is creating.  But Issing has already done that and isn't going to let reality get in the way of his bought and paid for opinion.  Hence my calling him a prostitute.).  But maybe the light at the end of the tunnel isn't just an oncoming train.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Mall Sale

DDR has sold the Family Centers in Taylorsville, Midvale, and Orem to Excel Trust, a San Diego REIT.  Excel then flipped the Taylorsville center to Texas-based TriGate Capital.  Excel's purchase price was $225.6 million.

When I first started practicing law, my office was right across the street from the Midvale center.  My building was the only office tower there then, and the Family Center was little more than a strip mall.  Things have changed considerably since then.  Not always for the better.  A few years ago, it looked like the place was going the way of so many other small malls, with anchors leaving and small spaces going and staying dark.  DDR managed to turn things around, though, replacing anchors and bringing in new shops, including local merchants, a move that would give outfits like Taubman a seizure.  Still a lot of question marks, though, such as the future of the Office Max space now that the merger with Office Depot has gone through.  Time will tell.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

More Neoliberal Crap

Edmund Phelps, in his recent column in the Financial Times, once again trots out the bull pucky that "regulation" is the cause of our economic problems.  Post-WWII regulation slowed down innovation, and that loss of innovation has caused the centrifuging of wealth we have seen over the last 30 years.

First, Ed, the years since WWII have been the most phenomenally innovative in history.  I guess you missed the memos on the space programs, computers, and biotech.  All of which, I would add, were significantly assisted by government money.

Second, Ed, don't you find it at all odd that this centrifuging has focused in the last 30 years, a period of massive deregulation?  Of course facts never get in the way of an Austro-Chicago tool like you.

Bottom line, Ed: The rich and powerful paid to have regulations dismantled and then went out to get a big return on their investment by running roughshod over everyone else.  The result of that deregulation has been less protection for the folks who do the actual production work, less protection for the real innovators (as opposed to the corporations who own them), less protection for ordinary investors, less protection for everyone without a lot of spare cash to buy protection.

Oh, and Ed, the big innovations your deregulation has created have been the financial Frankensteins, the multi-level derivatives and synthetics that have created the bubbole-manic, boom-and-bust system we now have.  Congratulations.

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Hearings

Here's a suggestion I think would improve the system greatly, your honors.  If you don't want to hear the argument I'm making, just say so, and don't hold the hearing.  You save time, opposing counsel saves time, and I save time that my client is going to refuse to pay me for anyway after listening to you snark at me for a half-hour.  Even more to the point, don't keep looking at me like I'm the one wasting everyone's time.  I'm not the one who set the hearing; you are.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yes, I Know...

...I didn't include any links in yesterday's post.  Given my opinion of those asshat articles, did you really think I was going to give them click-through traffic?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It's the Middle Class, Stupid

Or rather the lack of same.  The financial pundits on both sides of the Atlantic are beginning to admit that most people aren't recovering a thing in this recovery.  Given that there no longer is a recognizable economy that can support a middle class, this comes as a surprise only to those who don't actually have to work for a living.  The rest of us see jobs disappearing, businesses going dark, and concerted attacks on the few remaining things that make survival possible (The DC Circuit's recent ruling on the Affordable Care Act is nothing short of criminal, the only way to save affordable healthcare is single-payer, and we need to start removing judges, starting with the Fascist Five on the SCOTUS.), and every time we turn around, those of us in business are expected to work for free (I'm not talking about paying taxes.  I'm talking about doing free work for "marketing" or for "social responsibility."  When our wonderful Bar Association expects me to do pro bono work to help the "image of lawyers," I have to laugh.  I do pro bono constantly, along with a lot of reduced rate work, as well as holding up my end re professional image.  I'd tell them to go talk to the Big Firm people, but since those are the folks who own and operate the Bar....).  No, there's no recovery going on; quite the contrary.

But what are the pundits worried about?  That Democrats and Labour are making noise other than Austro-Chicago orthodoxy (Horrors!).  Janan Ganesh recently took issue with Ed Milliband in the Financial Times because the Labour leader is behaving, well, like a Labour leader instead of Tory Lite.  Ganesh thinks Millibrand should be proposing new ideas, which would be nice, but Ganesh defines "new ideas" as the same old free market fraud his club has been pounding since Maggie installed her throne at No. 10.  Earth to Janan: Your neoliberal dreack has gotten us into this mess, with a growing pool of hopelessness and no security for anyone other than the 1%.

Speaking of Tory Lite, Tony Blair keeps trying to absolve himself of the current mess in the Middle East.  He continues to claim that removing Saddam Hussein did not create the current crisis.  Facially that statement is true, but not in the way Blair tries to claim.  What caused the crisis was putting Saddam (and all the other tin pot, self-medaled dictators around the world) in power in the first place.  We made modernization look like a tool of Western control.  It's no wonder the fundamentalists attracted an entire generation that was fed up to the gills with our meddling.

What else is worrying the pundits?  How about the end of the USD as the world's reserve currency as a result of a conspiracy led by Russia and China and including France?  Please.  While it would be bad if the Yankee dollah were no longer the world's currency, news of its demise is way premature.  There simply isn't anyone in a position to step up and take over.  Not China, not Russia, not the Eurozone.  This is just another pseudo-crisis intended to distract us from the reality of our inequitable, unproductive global economy.

Any other "crises" to distract the masses while they're being led to slaughter?  Is a pig's backside pork?  According to Martin Wolf, Europe will be without gas and oil unless we all march straight in the Ukraine and push Putin back to Moscow.  Martin has apparently never heard the bit of wisdom about never fighting a land war in Asia, especially against the Russians on Russian soil.  He might want to look into how much success others have had with that.

What other lunacy is flying about?  One need look no farther than the ever-reliable Robin Harding, who has never met a Randian delusion he didn't try to have a long-term, intimate relationship with.  His latest shovel-full is that house prices are artificially high because of, wait for it, zoning laws.  I realize that conservatives believe that, in the words of their Blessed St. Ronnie, "Facts are stupid things, " but let us nevertheless put facts before a candid world.  First, housing prices are not artificially high; they're pretty depressed here in the US, albeit over-encumbered by toxic mortgages that the likes of Harding once touted as the next great bit of free market brilliance, and while prices have risen recently in the UK, that was a product of loose money that will soon be going away, so expect a correction on that front soon.  Second, housing zoning these days is focused on affordability: multi-family, townhouses, in-fill.  This shift became necessary if for no other reason than that the old model created an infrastructure that was unsupportable.  Suburban sprawl created too much street, too many miles of utility lines, too much area for fire and police to cover, etc.  That Harding believes zoning still promotes acres of lawns and miles of picket fence has more to do with where he and his friends live than with reality.  Finally, Harding, true to his creed, ignores the 409-kilo gorilla in the room: People can't buy houses regardless of the price because 1%ers he is so stridently defending have created a system in which very few of the 99% have sufficient economic security to enter into a mortgage.

It's the middle class, stupid.  People who work for a living can no longer even hope for stable enough incomes for a house, a new car, and college educations for the kids.  They may be making it this month, but it could all be gone next.  This is what the 1% has pushed us into.  This isn't a recipe for independent, economic actors; it's a recipe for serfdom.

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