Thursday, March 26, 2009

OTS Acting Director Placed on Leave

huffington post

WASHINGTON — A top bank regulator has been placed on leave pending a Treasury Department investigation into regulators' approval of backdated cash infusions for troubled thrifts.

The Office of ThriftSupervision said Thursday that its acting director, Scott Polakoff, was placed on leave "pending a review by the Department of the Treasury of the OTS' August 2008 actions related to post-period capital contributions."

Treasury Secretary TimothyGeithner named OTS Chief Counsel John Bowman to replace Polakoff as acting director, the agency said. The OTS gave no further details on the Treasury Department's review and how it might relate to Polakoff.

Polakoff, who is the agency's chief operating officer, had held the acting-director position only since last month following the resignation of OTS Director John Reich. Agency spokesmen and Polakoff could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

Late last year it was revealed the OTS had approved in May a backdated infusion of $18 million for IndyMac Bancorp to March 31, allowing it to meet first-quarter government requirements for reserves held against possible losses.

Pasadena, Calif.-based IndyMac failed in July and cost the federal insurance fund for banks nearly $9 billion. The OTS removed Darrel Dochow, the agency's official in charge of the Western region, from that position and he later resigned from the agency.

Treasury Department Inspector General Eric Thorson wrote in a letter to members of Congress that the OTS had also allowed other thrifts to record capital infusions in an earlier period than when they were received.

Thrifts have been the most troubled regulated institutions during the financial crisis and among the most spectacular failures.

By law, they must have at least 65 percent of their lending in mortgages and other consumer loans _ making them particularly vulnerable to the housing downturn. Seattle-based thrift Washington Mutual was the largest bank to collapse in U.S. history, with around $307 billion in assets. It was later acquired by JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $1.9 billion.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Clay Shirky on Newspapers, Journalism and our Society

Craig Newmark: More smart stuff from Clay Shirky:

"That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given experiment isn't apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread. Even the revolutionaries can't predict what will happen. Agreements on all sides that core institutions must be protected are rendered meaningless by the very people doing the agreeing. (Luther and the Church both insisted, for years, that whatever else happened, no one was talking about a schism.) Ancient social bargains, once disrupted, can neither be mended nor quickly replaced, since any such bargain takes decades to solidify.

And so it is today. When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won't break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren't in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to."

read the whole piece here

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer

Stewart on Santelli, CNBC

Stewart Continues

Cramer: "He's a Comedian"

Cramer: "He's a Comedian" II

Stewart Responds

Some relevant background on Jim Cramer, criminal

Edited Stewart Interview with Jim Cramer 3/12/2009

Edited Stewart Interview with Jim Cramer 3/12/2009 Part 1

Edited Stewart Interview with Jim Cramer 3/12/2009 Part 2

Edited Stewart Interview with Jim Cramer 3/12/2009 Part 3

UNEDITED Stewart Interview with Jim Cramer 3/12/2009 Part 1

UNEDITED Stewart Interview with Jim Cramer 3/12/2009 Part 2

UNEDITED Stewart Interview with Jim Cramer 3/12/2009 Part 3

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3.26.2009 HuffPo

4.15.2009 HuffPo

5.14.2009 HuffPo

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truthbus via HuffPo March 8, 2010

New Media Watchdogs from Kimberly Butler on Vimeo.

. . .. oOo .. . .


& don't hand db anything to use to deflect merits-based criticisms:

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Op-Ed Columnist - Miracles Take Time -

Op-Ed Columnist - Miracles Take Time -

Barack Obama has only been president for six weeks, but there is a surprising amount of ire, anger, even outrage that he hasn’t yet solved the problems of the U.S. economy, that he hasn’t saved us from the increasingly tragic devastation wrought by the clownish ideas of right-wing conservatives and the many long years of radical Republican misrule.

This intense, impatient, often self-righteous, frequently wrongheaded and at times willfully destructive criticism has come in waves, and not just from the right. Mr. Obama is as legitimate a target for criticism as any president. But there is a weird hysterical quality to some of the recent attacks that suggests an underlying fear or barely suppressed rage. It’s a quality that seems not just unhelpful but unhealthy.

Mr. Obama is being hammered — depending on the point of view of the critics — for the continuing collapse of the stock market, for not moving fast enough to revive the suicidal financial industry, for trying to stem the flood tide of home foreclosures, for trying to bring health insurance coverage to some of the millions of Americans who don’t have any, for running up huge budget deficits as he tries to fend off the worst economic emergency since World War II and for not taking time out from all of the above to deal with — get this — earmarks.

More than 4.4 million jobs have been lost since this monster recession officially got under way in December 2007, and we’ve got people wigging out over earmarks. Folks, get a grip. Some earmarks are good, some are not, but collectively they account for a tiny, tiny portion of the national budget — less than 1 percent.

Freaking out over earmarks is like watching a neighborhood that is being consumed by flames and complaining that there is crabgrass on some of the lawns.

In the midst of the craziness, conservatives are busy trying to blame this epic economic catastrophe — a conflagration of their own making — on the new president. Forget Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and George Herbert Hoover Bush and the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth and Phil Gramm and Newt Gingrich and all the rest. The right-wingers would have you believe this is Obama’s downturn.

The bear market would no doubt have magically turned around by now, and those failing geniuses at the helm of our flat-lined megacorporations would no doubt be busy manufacturing new profits and putting people back to work — if only Mr. Obama had solved the banking crisis, had lowered taxes on the rich, had refused to consider running up those giant deficits (a difficult thing to do at the same time that you are saving banks and lowering taxes), and had abandoned any inclination that he might have had to reform health care and make it a little easier for ordinary American kids to get a better education.

As the columnist Charles Krauthammer was kind enough to inform us: “The markets’ recent precipitous decline is a reaction not just to the absence of any plausible bank rescue plan, but also to the suspicion that Obama sees the continuing financial crisis as usefully creating the psychological conditions — the sense of crisis bordering on fear-itself panic — for enacting his ‘big-bang’ agenda to federalize and/or socialize health care, education and energy, the commanding heights of post-industrial society.”

That’s a more genteel version of the sentiment expressed a couple of weeks ago by the perpetually hysterical Alan Keyes, a Republican who was beaten by Mr. Obama in the Illinois Senate race in 2004. “Obama is a radical communist,” said Mr. Keyes, “and I think it is becoming clear. That is what I told people in Illinois, and now everybody realizes it’s true.”

I don’t know whether President Obama’s ultimate rescue plan for the financial industry will work. He is a thoughtful man running a thoughtful administration and the plan, a staggeringly complex and difficult work in progress, hasn’t been revealed yet.

What I know is that the renegade clowns who ruined this economy, the Republican right in alliance with big business and a fair number of feckless Democrats — all working in opposition to the interests of working families — have no credible basis for waging war against serious efforts to get us out of their mess.

Maybe the markets are down because demand has dried up, because many of the nation’s biggest firms have imploded and because Americans are losing their jobs and their homes by the millions. Maybe a dose of reality is in order, as opposed to the childish desire for yet another stock market bubble.

Maybe the nuns in grammar school were right when they counseled that patience is a virtue. The man has been president for six weeks.