March 26, 2013 archive

Mar 26

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Day 4 Late Evening

Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
9:35 ESPN2 (1) Baylor 33-1 (8) Florida State 23-9 Midwest
9:40 ESPN2 (1) Notre Dame 32-1 (9) Iowa 21-12 South
9:45 ESPN2 (3) Penn State 27-5 (6) LSU 21-11 West
9:50 ESPN2 (1) Stanford 32-2 (8) Michigan 22-10 West

Mar 26

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Day 4 Early Evening

This schedule kind of sucks because many games are relegated to networks even more obscure than ESPN2 (ESPNU anyone, anyone, Bueller?).

Last night this page had links where you could watch games on-line, I don’t know if you have to pay or register or what.

What I will say is that it’s a shame and a disgrace for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament to be treated this way.  It shows disrespect for a game that is altogether superior to Men’s Basketball dunk fests of boredom.

Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
7:05 ESPN2 (3) North Carolina 28-5 (6) Delaware 31-3 East
7:10 ESPNU (2) Duke 30-2 (7) Oklahoma State 22-10 South
7:10 ESPN3 (4) Purdue 25-8 (5) Louisville 25-8 Midwest
7:15 ESPN2 (2) Kentucky 28-5 (7) Dayton 28-2 East

Mar 26

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Mar 26

It’s Just Good Business

So you’ve been reading about those bare shelves at WalMart.  Even I thought it was due to their vendors getting tired of being squeezed and late payments (contracts typically call for payment within 90 days of delivery, WalMart waits until the last possible moment to cut a check- always).

Well, there’s another reason that should have occured to me as a former supervisor of shipping and receiving (that’s the fancy title I put on my resume to point out I ran the loading dock and stockrooms, and handled inventory from the back of the truck to the sales floor along with returns to warehouse).

I seldom appeal to expertise, but I’ve seen this first hand.

Customers Flee Wal-Mart Empty Shelves for Target, Costco

By Renee Dudley, Bloomberg Business

Mar 26, 2013 9:47 AM ET

During recent visits … she failed to find more than a dozen basic items, including certain types of face cream, cold medicine, bandages, mouthwash, hangers, lamps and fabrics.

The cosmetics section “looked like someone raided it.”



“If it’s not on the shelf, I can’t buy it,” she said. “You hate to see a company self-destruct, but there are other places to go.”

But, but it’s there in the store!  We have the paperwork to prove it!

“Our in stock levels are up significantly in the last few years, so the premise of this story, which is based on the comments of a handful of people, is inaccurate and not representative of what is happening in our stores across the country,” Brooke Buchanan, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “Two-thirds of Americans shop in our stores each month because they know they can find the products they are looking for at low prices.”

Well then where is it?

It’s not as though the merchandise isn’t there. It’s piling up in aisles and in the back of stores because Wal-Mart doesn’t have enough bodies to restock the shelves, according to interviews with store workers.



At the Kenosha, Wisconsin, Wal-Mart where Mary Pat Tifft has worked for nearly a quarter-century, merchandise ready for the sales floor remains on pallets and in steel bins lining the floor of the back room — an area so full that “no passable aisles” remain, she said. Meanwhile, the front of the store is increasingly barren, Tifft said. That landscape has worsened over the past several years as workers who leave aren’t replaced, she said.

“There’s a lot of voids out there, a lot of voids,” said Tifft, 58, who oversees grocery deliveries and is a member of OUR Walmart, a union-backed group seeking to improve working conditions at the discount chain. “Customers come in, they can’t find what they’re looking for, and they’re leaving.”

Years ago, supervisors drilled a message into employees’ heads: “In the door and to the floor,” Tifft said. That mantra now seems impossible to execute.



“The merchandise is in the store, it just can’t make the jump from the shelf in the back to the one in the front,” said Falletta, who works the second shift. “There’s not the people to do it.”

Well why is that do you suppose?

Mar 26

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: 3/24 Results

* == Upset (if you can call a 9 seed over an 8 seed an upset).

Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(2) 67 Duke 30-2 (15) 51 Hampton 28-6 South
(2) 61 Kentucky 28-5 (15) 41 Navy 21-12 East
(4) 77 Purdue 25-8 (13) 43 Liberty 27-7 Midwest
(6) 66 Delaware 31-3 (11) 53 West Virginia 17-14 East
(7) 73 Oklahoma State 22-10 (10) 56 DePaul 21-12 South
(7) 96 Dayton 28-2 (10) 90 St. John’s 18-13 East
(5) 74 Louisville 25-8 (12) 49 Middle Tenn. 25-8 Midwest
(3) 59 North Carolina 28-5 (14) 54 Albany 27-4 East
(1) 97 Notre Dame 32-1 (16) 64 Tennessee-Martin 19-15 South
(8) 60 Florida State 23-9 (9) 44 Princeton 22-7 Midwest
(3) 85 Penn State 27-5 (14) 55 Cal Poly 21-12 West
(1) 72 Stanford 32-2 (16) 56 Tulsa 17-17 West
(8) 53 Miami (FL) 21-11 * (9) 69 Iowa 21-12 South
(1) 82 Baylor 33-1 (16) 40 Prairie View A&M 17-15 Midwest
(6) 75 LSU 21-11 (11) 71 Green Bay 29-3 West
(8) 60 Michigan 22-10 (9) 52 Villanova 21-11 West

Mar 26

On This Day In History March 26

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 26 is the 146th day of the year (147th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 219 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1637, an allied Puritan and Mohegan force under English Captain John Mason attacks a Pequot village in Connecticut, burning or massacring some 500 Indian women, men, and children.

The Pequot War was an armed conflict in 1634-1638 between the Pequot tribe against an alliance of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Saybrook colonies with American Indian allies (the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes). Hundreds were killed; hundreds more were captured and sold into slavery to the West Indies. Other survivors were dispersed. At the end of the war, about seven hundred Pequots had been killed or taken into captivity. The result was the elimination of the Pequot as a viable polity in what is present-day Southern New England. It would take the Pequot more than three and a half centuries to regain political and economic power in their traditional homeland region along the Pequot (present-day Thames) and Mystic rivers in what is now southeastern Connecticut.

The Mystic massacre

Believing that the English had returned to Boston, the Pequot sachem Sassacus took several hundred of his warriors to make another raid on Hartford. Mason had visited and recruited the Narragansett, who joined him with several hundred warriors. Several allied Niantic warriors also joined Mason’s group. On May 26, 1637, with a force up to about 400 fighting men, Mason attacked Misistuck by surprise. He estimated that “six or seven Hundred” Pequot were there when his forces assaulted the palisade. As some 150 warriors had accompanied Sassacus to Hartford, so the inhabitants remaining were largely Pequot women and children, and older men. Mason ordered that the enclosure be set on fire. Justifying his conduct later, Mason declared that the attack against the Pequot was the act of a God who “laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to scorn making [the Pequot] as a fiery Oven . . . Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling [Mystic] with dead Bodies.”  Mason insisted that any Pequot attempting to escape the flames should be killed. Of the estimated 600 to 700 Pequot resident at Mystic that day, only seven survived to be taken prisoner, while another seven escaped to the woods.

The Narragansett and Mohegan warriors with Mason and Underhill’s colonial militia were horrified by the actions and “manner of the Englishmen’s fight . . . because it is too furious, and slays too many men.” The Narragansett left the warfare and returned home.

Believing the mission accomplished, Mason set out for home. Becoming temporarily lost, his militia narrowly missed returning Pequot warriors. After seeing the destruction of Mystic, they gave chase to the English forces, but to little avail.

Mar 26

Cartnoon

Mar 26

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


Triple 35

Mar 26

Late Night Karaoke

Mar 26

Cyprus: The Not So Good Deal

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Cyprus Bailout photo BrokenEuro_zps0a6d094f.png As the dust of enthusiasm settles over this morning’s Cyprus deal with the European Union that closed the country’s second-largest bank and created a set of capital controls to prevent a run on the remaining banks, the financial world is taking a closer look and they aren’t happy. The agreement adheres to the law protecting insured accounts less than 100,000 euros. Supposedly, this deal prevented the immediate collapse of the Cyprus economy and its exit from the euro and, possibly, the European Union. Several economic analysts discuss the ramifications on the global banking and economy.

The Prodigal Greek has the simplest explanation of what capital controls entail (h/t Yves Smith):

Here is what a cash economy looks like:      

  • Restrictions in daily withdrawals
  • Ban on premature termination of time savings deposits
  • Compulsory renewal of all time savings deposits upon maturity
  • Conversion of current accounts to time deposits
  • Ban or restrictions on non cash transactions
  • Restrictions on use of debit, credit or prepaid debit cards
  • Ban or restriction on cashing in checks
  • Restrictions on domestic interbank transfers or transfers within the same bank
  • Restrictions on the interactions/transactions of the public with credit institutions
  • Restrictions on movements of capital, payments, transfers
  • Any other measure which the Finance Minister or the Govern or of Cyprus Central Bank see necessary for reasons of public order and safety

In other words, Cyprus euros can only be spent in Cyprus and cannot be taken out of Cyprus to any other country; checks, debit and credit cards are useless. It is a strictly cash and carry local economy since Cypriots will not be able to make internet purchases. It will restrict travel into and out of the island, as well. The agreement has isolated the tiny island from the rest of the EU. Economics and financial analyst, Frances Coppola explains the ramifications of these restrictions:

From Tuesday, Cyprus becomes a black hole in the Eurozone: any money that goes into it stays there, and no money can leave……From a safe distance, it will appear frozen in time, a small cash-based economy, isolated from the rest of the EU. While inside, invisible to all except those who actually go there – or live there – its social fabric is torn apart as its economy collapses. Note the final clause in the capital control bill:

   Any other measure which the Finance Minister or the Governor of Cyprus Central Bank see necessary for reasons of public order and safety

So as people’s livelihoods are destroyed and their standard of living crashes, other measures may be introduced to ensure that they can’t take matters into their own hands.

From Yves Smith at naked capitalism is her summation of the attempt to contain Cyprus:

First, confiscating bank deposits is now on the table in any future crisis. That’s toothpaste that’s not going back in the tube. Commerzbank chief economist Jörg Krämer has already suggested (Google translates) “a one-time property tax levy” for Italy and “a tax rate of 15 percent on financial assets.” And adding fuel to the fire, the Leader of the UK Independence Party has urged expats in the periphery countries, in particular the 750,000 British in Spain to “Get your money out of there while you’ve still got a chance.”

Second, capital controls in Cyprus mean that there are now two Euros in effect: The Euro that you can use only in Cyprus, and the Euro you can use elsewhere in the so-called “monetary union.” So from the perspective of people in Cyprus, the results are in some ways worst that a breakup: rather than having depreciated dough, you have dough that has been impounded, particularly in terms of using it outside Cyprus. [..]

Third, these concerns may be amplified by how rapidly and visibly the Cypriot economy craters. The “rapidly” is due to the fact, as discussed in greater detail in the post from Cyprus.com below, that the Cyprus economy will suffer a one-two punch: the loss of a big chunk of wealth, plus the disappearance of much of the financial services sector, which was 45% of GDP.

The capital controls have isolated Cyprus from the rest of the EU without actually expelling the country.

The deal may have stayed the immediate crisis but it hasn’t stopped the eventual collapse of the Cyprus economy or its future exit from the euro. Not only that, it is the shot across the bow for other economically troubled EU countries of things to come.  

Mar 26

A Back Door For Gutting Regulation

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Gaius Publius of Americablog succinctly defined one of those vague terms that we heard so often since the banking crisis began in 2007, Credit Default Swaps (CDS) :

Credit default swaps are pure casino bets. They were originally designed as a form of insurance against bond and other credit defaults (“I’ll pay you a monthly fee and you pay me my losses if these bonds default.”)

It’s a simple concept, but CDSs soon evolved. Turns out you don’t have to actually hold the bonds to insure them. This means that one guy can sit at a table with a bunch of bonds (or bundles of mortgages), while another guy can insure them. Meanwhile, at 50 other tables, 50 more guys can buy the same “insurance” on the same bonds from anyone who will sell it to them. Keep in mind, only the first guy actually holds the bonds. The other guys just know they exist.

That’s 50 side-bets on one set of bonds. Placing side-bets on someone else’s property is like betting on a ball game you’re just watching. Like I said, pure casino money.

Do you see the problem? One guy’s bonds default and suddenly 51 guys in that room, everyone who sold “insurance,” they’re all wiped out. Why? Because the dirty secret of derivatives bets is that the people offering the “insurance” rarely have the money. They’re betting that they can collect “insurance” fees forever and the defaults will never come. That’s what happened with mortgage-backed bets in 2007, and that’s what’s happening today.

In 2010, the Democratic held Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall St. Reform and Consumer Protection Act to rein in the worst practices of the banks and Wall St. Needless to say, it is overly complicated, inadequate and has yet to be fully implemented.

That has not stopped the now Republican held House, along with some Democrats, to end some of the regulations. Less that week after Sen. Carl Levin released a scathing report on the $6.7 billion loss (pdf) of JP Morgan Chase in the infamous “London Whale” deal, the House Agriculture Committee, go figure that logic, approved seven bills that would gut regulation of the derivatives market and once again, if the banks lose, the tax payer makes good the losses. Sound familiar? Does TARP ring a bell? The housing market crash?

In his Salon article David Dayen asks if JP Morgan is a farmer?

It turns out that the Agriculture Committees have held jurisdiction over derivatives since the mid-19th century, when farmers used derivatives to achieve stability over future prices. Traders still use derivatives for corn and other commodities, but the world of derivatives has grown far more sophisticated over the decades. Nevertheless, congressional committees zealously guard their jurisdictions, and so a bunch of lawmakers from rural states get to determine a major aspect of financial policy. [..]

To see how this all works, just look at the hearing on these derivatives bills, held last week. When Ag Committee chairman Frank Lucas wasn’t openly parroting industry scare tactics about energy price spikes from regulation, he called on a list of witnesses that included four industry trade group representatives and one public advocate from Americans for Financial Reform, Wallace Turbeville. (He did great (pdf).) Or for an even clearer indication, read these PowerPoint slides created for Ag Committee staff by the Coalition for Derivatives End-Users, an industry-backed lobbyist organization. This extremely one-sided perspective on the issue simply becomes the default position for committee members and their staffs, an example of the “cognitive capture” in D.C. that sidelines alternative voices. And it all happens under the radar.

One of the Democratic House members who is sponsoring these bills, is Rep. Jim Himes, a former Goldman Sachs vice president who represents the Connecticut bedroom communities of Wall Street traders. It’s not hard to imagine why he defended his support of these bills when asked by the press. The Democratic members of the committee who voted with the 25 Republicans to send these bills to the House floor are: Pete Gallego (TX-23); Ann Kuster (NH-2); Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18); Mike McIntyre (NC-07); David Scott (GA-13); and Juan Vargas (CA-51).

These are the bills that were passed by the committee:

H.R. 634 (pdf), the Business Risk Mitigation and Price Stabilization Act of 2013

·       H.R. 677 (pdf), the Inter-Affiliate Swap Clarification Act

·       H.R. 742 (pdf), the Swap Data Repository and Clearinghouse Indemnification Correction Act of 2013

·       H.R. 992 (pdf), the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act

·       H.R. 1003 (pdf), To improve consideration by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission of the costs and benefits of its regulations and orders.

·       H.R. 1038 (pdf), the Public Power Risk Management Act of 2013

·       H.R. 1256 (pdf), the Swap Jurisdiction Certainty Act

Even if these bills all get passed, they will never see the light of day in the Senate.

Sheila Bair, the longtime Republican who served as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) during the fiscal meltdown five years ago, joins Bill to talk about American banks’ continuing risky and manipulative practices, their seeming immunity from prosecution, and growing anger from Congress and the public.

“I think the system’s a little bit safer, but nothing like the dramatic reforms that we really need to see to tame these large banks, and to give us a stable financial system that supports the real economy, not just trading profits of large financial institutions,” Bair tells Bill.