Feed on


If we’d done this here:

Ecuador’s legislature has passed a bill that would require banks to forgive any outstanding debt on mortgages for first-time home buyers
of properties worth up to $146,000 if they default and forfeit the home.

The measure, aimed at discouraging a real estate bubble of the type that has caused so much pain in the United States and Europe, won praise from many Ecuadoreans on Wednesday.

[…] Approved Tuesday evening by a 68-21 vote, the bill also covers loans by banks to first-time purchasers of automobiles that cost up to $29,200.

[…] The law appears to be unique.

San Diego State University economist Michael Lea, a real estate specialist, said the only similar measure he was aware of was the creation of a national housing bank by the leftist Sandinista movement in Nicaragua after it won power in 1979.

[…]Pablo Davalos, an economist at Catholic University, said the move would be good for most Ecuadoreans.

“This law is positive for the consumer and negative for the banker, who now has to increase his reserves and that means less liquidity and
less profit for the bankers,” Davalos said.

Toilet control

Now it’s not guns, it’s toilets. The Republicans are plain batshit crazy.

Jamie Dimon is a tapeworm

Remember last month, when I wrote about JPMorgan Chase gambling heavily on high-risk credit derivatives, and Jamie Dimon said it was all fine?


JPMorgan Chase disclosed on Thursday that a trading group had suffered “significant” losses in a portfolio of credit investments, with the chief executive, Jamie Dimon, estimating losses at $2 billion in a conference call.

“These were egregious mistakes,” Mr. Dimon said on the call. “They were self-inflicted and this is not how we want to run a business.”

And yet, apparently this is exactly how you run a business, Jamie!

The troubles at the unit, the so-called Chief Investment Office, which makes trades to balance the bank’s assets and liabilities, are expected to weigh on the bank’s broader earnings.

For example, the corporate group, which includes the Chief Investment Office, is now expected to lose $800 million in the second quarter, the company said in a filing. Previously, JPMorgan had estimated that the group would report net income of roughly $200 million.

Ultimately, JPMorgan said, the final tally will depend on the markets and other actions by the bank. Mr. Dimon added that it could “easily get worse.”

Shares of JPMorgan were down 5.5 percent in after-hours trading, dragging down other bank stocks.

The trading group has been a focus in recent weeks as questions surfaced about big bets the JPMorgan unit was reportedly making in credit default swaps. Reports emerged in April about a JPMorgan trader in London whose positions were so big that they were distorting the market.

Mr. Dimon played down the significance. In a conference call on April 13, he called the matter “a complete tempest in a teapot.”

“Every bank has a major portfolio. In those portfolios you make investments that you think are wise to offset your exposures,” Mr. Dimon said in the April call. “At the end of the day, that is our job — is to invest that portfolio wisely, intelligently over a long period of time to earn income and to offset other exposures that we have.”

Now, the portfolio is wreaking havoc at the bank. In its filing on Thursday, JPMorgan pointed specifically to problems with its bets on credit.

Now remember, these are exactly the kinds of transactions the banking industry lobbied so hard to protect.

The Chief Investment Office “has had significant mark-to-market losses in its synthetic credit portfolio, and this portfolio has proven to be riskier, more volatile and less effective as an economic hedge than the firm previously believed,” the company said in its regulatory filing.

“We have egg on our face,” Mr. Dimon said on Thursday. “We deserve any criticism we get.”

So if I point out that you’re a scum-sucking bottom feeder who helped crash the international economy, pushed millions of Americans into the poorhouse and that your attitude that moral hazard is only for the little people who bought the crap you so blatantly peddled to them, you’re acknowledging that you deserve it?

No, what you “deserve” is to be impoverished, left homeless and facing a long prison term. But we have a two-tiered justice system and that ain’t happening.

If I passed you on the street, it would be all I could do not to spit on you.

I’m not in love


I See You

Mittens distinguishes himself again

How awful is Mitt Romney? Is there anything he won’t do or say to improve his chances of being elected? I don’t know… Ask Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident, or Richard Grenell, the gay foreign policy spokesman whom Romney threw under the bus. More here.

Twitter fights NYC court order

From Wired:

In the battle to fight online fishing expeditions by law enforcement officials there is little we can do individually to protect ourselves — which makes it all the more important for internet companies like Twitter and Google to fight back on our behalf.

That’s exactly what Twitter did when it filed a surprisingly feisty motion (.pdf) this week in New York City Criminal Court to quash a court order demanding that it hand over information to law enforcement about one of its account holders — an activist who participated in the Occupy Wall Street protests — as well as tweets that he allegedly posted to the account over a three-month period. The company stepped in with the motion after the account holder lost his own bid to quash the order…

In its motion to quash, Twitter pointed out to the judge that the order would essentially force the company to break the law by handing over data without a warrant. Twitter also took issue with the judge’s ruling that the account holder had no right to fight the order on his own behalf.

The company further dinged prosecutors by pointing out that they could have saved everyone the trouble of dealing with this in court if they had simply printed or downloaded the publicly available tweets themselves…

‘Mommy porn’ trilogy under attack

It’s pure pulp, but library officials in three states have elevated the trilogy by E.L. James to banned-book status, a category that has included Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer:

Public libraries in several states are pulling the racy romance trilogy “Fifty Shades of Grey” from shelves or deciding not to order the best-seller at all, saying it’s too steamy or too poorly written.

Even in the age of e-books and tablets, banning a book from a public library still carries weight because libraries still play such a vital role in providing people access to books.

“When a book is removed from the shelf, folks who can’t afford a Nook or a Kindle, the book is no longer available to them,” said Deborah Caldwell Stone, the deputy director of the American Library Association’s office for intellectual freedom.

“Fifty Shades of Grey,” a novel about bondage, wild sex and yes, love, has been called “mommy porn” because of its popularity among middle-aged women. It has become so well-known that “Saturday Night Live” performed a skit about it, joking that a Kindle with “Fifty Shades” uploaded on it was the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

This week, the steamy books hold the top three spots on the New York Times best-seller list.

Libraries in Wisconsin, Georgia and Florida have all either declined to order the book or pulled it from shelves. Other states may soon follow.

Blowback in war on medical pot

Barack Obama’s Department of Justice apparently would rather harass voter-approved medical marijuana facilities than pursue an aggressive investigation of the banks that wrecked our economy. That’s why I liked reading this:

A forthcoming amendment to H.R. 5326, a key appropriations bill currently being debated in Congress, will give the House of Representatives an opportunity to rebuke the Obama administration’s rapid fire raids on voter-approved medical marijuana facilities in the states that allow doctors to recommend the drug.

Three California Republicans and one New York Democrat, Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Tom McClintock (R-CA), plan to introduce the amendment this evening, according to action alerts circulated Wednesday by the nation’s largest drug reform advocacy groups.

The amendment would, according to Americans for Safe Access (ASA), “prohibit any funds made available to the Department of Justice from being used to prevent the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, or the District of Columbia, from implementing programs authorized by those laws.”

By virtue of that, all medical marijuana raids would cease. Marijuana advocates have told Raw Story that the Obama administration has staged “more than 200″ raids in the last three years — making his presidency far “worse than Bush” for drug reform advocates…

GOP ‘beyond redemption’

Former Ambassador to the UN and U.S. Sen. John Danforth (R-MO), in 2010: “If [Indiana Republican Senator] Dick Lugar, having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”

On Wednesday, Lugar lost his bid for re-nomination in Indiana by a wide margin to an extreme right-winger. There you have it.

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