The Return of Socks!!!


The Caucus at the NYT reports:

… Betty Currie, the devoted secretary to Bill Clinton, is answering the phones these days for Mr. Obama’s transition co-chairman, John D. Podesta. And as an interesting side note, she has been taking care of Socks, the Clintons’ cat from the White House years….

Awesome!! High paw to the First Cat…he is old and I have heard in failing health, I hope he gets to wander the WH again and be the champion mouser his ancestors were….

Tinfoil hat: Has anyone else read The Watchers by Dean Koontz (several times) Socks God Bless his furry heart would be an excellent spy had that dna recombinant research been ya know real…ahem…

December 16, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Hillary Clinton, Obama Administration, Politics, Popular Culture. 3 comments.

Breaking: Tom Vilsack former D Gov of IA new Ag Secretary…


Tom Vilsack, former Democratic Governor of Iowa who endorsed Hillary and then campaigned hard for PEBO, is the future Secretary of Agriculture..

Favors topic 18:
Replace coal & oil with alternatives
(-3 points on Economic scale)
Need an energy policy tied to environmental conservation: Strongly Favors topic 18
Vetoed a bill without adequate environmental safeguards: Favors topic 18
Supports tradable emissions permits for greenhouse gases: Favors topic 18
Replace MTBE in gasoline with cleaner ethanol: Neutral on topic 18
Voluntary partnerships reduce greenhouse gases economically: Neutral on topic 18
Kyoto Treaty must include reductions by all countries: Opposes topic 18
Set goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025: Strongly Favors topic 18

To be announced tomorrow along with Salazar, D-CO for Interior. Breaking now on NBC (Ugh)..

(update NYT now has it as well):

After dropping out of the race, he endorsed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and was among those who questioned whether Mr. Obama had the experience to do the job. But during the general election, Mr. Vilsack campaigned on behalf of Mr. Obama. And, according to Democrats familiar with the decision, the two got along well during a recent job interview in Chicago…

Oh noes this doesn’t mean ethanol driving up food prices just as the FED broke the back of the US dollar and sends it down, does it???


Ezra Klein is also concerned  it may mean just that, from last month:


December 16, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , . Cabinet, Economy, Finance, Foreclosures, Obama Administration, Politics, Popular Culture, TARP, Wall St. Comments off.

LOST: Season 5 Sneak Peaks…

Season 5 begins Wednesday, January 21st 9/8 C ABC..

All-new “Lost” sneak peek video from season five episode “Because You Left”

two clips courtesy of – Lost premiere preview – Jack and Ben plan a journey back to the Island


December 16, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , . Entertainment, Fantasy, Music, Popular Culture. 4 comments.

More on Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education..

Dean la Prairie

Arne Duncan and his family take part in the Bud Billiken Day parade. Photo: Dean la Prairie

Education is near and dear to my heart.

If you want to read more on Arne Duncan and how the announcement is being received within and without the education community, please go take a look at an excellent post by Tom Maguire at JustOneMinute.

From Tom’s piece, a quote from the NYT:

He represents a compromise choice in the debate that has divided Democrats in recent months over the proper course for public-school policy after the Bush years.

In June, rival nationwide groups of educators circulated competing educational manifestos, with one group espousing a get-tough policy based on pushing teachers and administrators harder to raise achievement, and another arguing that schools alone could not close the racial achievement gap and urging new investments in school-based health clinics and other social programs to help poor students learn.

Mr. Duncan was the only big-city superintendent to sign both manifestos….

This appointment sounds like a good thing. (I was pulling for the D.C. Schools Chancellor,  Michelle Rhee)..

Read more about this traditional first day of school parade in Chicago from August of 2007,  in Aussie newspaper The Age here:

The head of the public school system, Arne Duncan, worries as much about keeping students alive as lifting standards…


December 16, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Cabinet, Department of Education, Economy, Housing, Immigration, Obama Administration, Politics, Popular Culture, Wall St. 2 comments.

Holiday Hits: White Christmas (1942 & 1954) Bing Crosby

1942 written by Irving Berlin specifically for the film, winner of  Oscar for Best Music, Original Song


December 16, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Entertainment, Film, Foreclosures, Housing, Music, Popular Culture. Comments off.

Update: DOW closes up 360..Fed target range: 0 – 0.25%..expanding asset purchases (MBS)..

Update 2: 4:00pm EST: DOW closes up 4% to 360 to 8924; NAS up 81 to 1589 and S&P up 44 to 913..10 yr is at 2.30% WOW did the Treasury Market rally!! Paulson getting some face time with Bartiromo on CNBC..

CNBC Video on Fed announcement and analysis here and  here

pre announcement discussion with PIMCO’s Bill Gross and Rick Santelli here

UPDATE 2:: 2:39pm EST OMG look at the 10 yr yield, holy cow it is 2.38!! yeah the FED has succeeded straight out of the gate and the rates are moving down..DOW roaring now up 240…


Heard on the floor, Rick Santelli-“OMG look at the Euro!”

Rick,” dollar sliding!, Euro v dollar screaming since news came out, thru a couple of handles 140!!!

weak dollar trade is kneejerk reaction”

DOW is starting to take off, Treasuries also rising, while dollar dropping…DOW up 173 and climbing

UPDATE 2:15pm EST: .statement coming across..

Statement: TARGET RANGE SET UP OF 0-.25%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



DOW was up 120 going in…


Go to CNBC for LIVE coverage….

.50bp cut is expected..

What will Fed say about ‘target range’?

Looking for updates in the statement on unemployment trends, housing deflation, production…and will they say inflation is not an issue?

CNBC coverage with PIMCO’s Bill Gross,  will provide video when posted….

Bill Gross looking for statement on purchase of assets and quantitative easing..he suspects FED will point to quantitative easing ie using reserve and purchasing power not to lower rates but to purchase assets…

December 16, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Cabinet, Economy, Finance, Foreclosures, Housing, Labor Department, Politics, Popular Culture, TARP, Unemployment Statistics, Wall St. 5 comments.

PEBO Economic Plan: Housing & Glen Hubbard..

While we wait for the FED, decision and statement in 20 minutes ( 2:00pm EST), there was an interesting aside earlier from CNBC’s Larry Kudlow on PEBO’s meeting with his team of economic advisers today…

Kudlow on CNBC indicating he has heard that PEBO and his economic team meeting today to plan out ‘massive mortgage buyout’ plan…..”gigantic piece’, something Glen Hubbard wrote about in WSJ a month ago…HOLC HOLC baby


NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15: R. Glenn Hubbard (L), chairman of the Economic Club of New York, and Maria Bartiromo, financial journalist (upper L) watch Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (R) as he speaks to the Economic Club of New York October 15, 2008 in New York City. Chairman Bernanke addressed the fiscal crisis and outlined the Fed's response to the recent economic upheavals. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

So let’s take a look at Hubbard’s position on housing to get an idea of what the econ A Team is putting together as part of the 1 trillion (new whisper number) econ stimulus to be signed January 20th immediately following the swearing-in-

From AEI, a piece on stabilizing the economy and addressing housing by Hubbard on October 2, 2008:

How does Hubbard see the housing issue in relation to the economic picture and what is the root of the problem?

We are in a vicious cycle: falling housing values cause losses on securities, which reduce bank capital, thereby tightening lending and causing house prices to fall further. The cycle has spread beyond housing, but housing is the place to fix it.

Housing starts are at their lowest level since the early 1980s, while there are more vacant houses than at any time since the Census Bureau started keeping such data in 1960. Millions of homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth. Foreclosures are accelerating. House prices continue to fall, weakening household balance sheets and the balance sheets of financial institutions.

But this can stop. The price of a home is partially dependent on the mortgage rate–a lower mortgage rate raises house prices…


Now, what about mortgages on homes that are worth less than the total amount of the loan? These mortgages could be refinanced into a 30-year fixed-rate loan to be held by a new agency modeled on the 1930s-era Homeowners Loan Corporation. New mortgages would be made of up 95% of the current value of a home.

The government might use two approaches to mitigate its losses. It could offer owners and servicers the opportunity to split the losses on refinancing a mortgage with the new agency. Servicers would have to agree to accept these refinancings on all or none of their mortgages, to avoid cherry-picking. Or the government should take an equity position in return for the mortgage write-down so that the taxpayers profit when the housing market turns around.


oops sorry, back to the piece:  here is the bigger portion of the program, which references a 10 yr Treasury yield much higher than it is now, this plan would probably call for 4.50% mortgage rates now…

We propose that the Bush administration and Congress allow all residential mortgages on primary residences to be refinanced into 30-year fixed-rate mortgages at 5.25 percent (matching the lowest mortgage rate in the past 30 years), and place those mortgages with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Investors and speculators should not be allowed to qualify.The historical spread of the 30-year, fixed-rate conforming mortgage over 10-year Treasury bonds is about 160 basis points. So a rate of 5.25% would be close to where mortgage rates would be today with normally functioning mortgage markets. One of us (Chris Mayer) recently published a study showing that–assuming normally functioning mortgage markets–the cost of buying a house is now 10% to 15% below the cost of renting across most of the country. Rising mortgage spreads and down-payment requirements are what’s still driving down housing prices. We need to stop this decline.


December 16, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Cabinet, Economy, Finance, Foreclosures, Hillary Clinton, Housing, Music, Obama Administration, Politics, Popular Culture, TARP, Unemployment Statistics, Wall St. 1 comment.

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