Saturday, August 16, 2008

breaking the banks...

This would be absolutely amazing... imagine, the federal government being forced to break up the big banks!? Yeah, what a dream right? Well, there's an article out now that's calling for that. An article isn't much but it is covering the mention of such things. Andrew Jackson would come back from the dead to see the big bank die.

Here's the article.

Breaking up big banks questioned as losses mount
Aug 16, 1:11 AM (ET)

NEW YORK (AP) - America's biggest banks have suffered unprecedented losses from the ongoing credit crisis, and that's made some investors question whether the big financial conglomerates should be broken up in order to survive.

Break-up advocates, who for months have been clamoring for Citigroup Inc. (C) to be dismantled, got some validation of their viewpoint this past week. Europe's UBS AG (UBS) - created through the combination of Swiss Bank Corp. and Union Bank of Switzerland in 1997 - on Wednesday laid the groundwork to tear up its business model after another quarter of steep losses.

Though the UBS announcement was expected, it was nonetheless a departure from what executives promised during a wave of big bank deals that began in the late 1990s. The creators of global banks like Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), and HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC) had promised customers and shareholders that a diverse set of businesses would shield them from economic volatility.

But, those models haven't sheltered the banks from the subprime mortgage crisis that turned into a dislocation of the credit markets. Major global banks have taken more than $300 billion in asset write-downs, and organizations like the International Monetary Fund believe that amount could reach $1 trillion.

"The whole idea was, 'let's be so unbelievably diversified that we won't be affected,' but when the credit markets seize up, no matter what kind of financial company you are, everything seizes up," said William Smith, president of New York-based Smith Asset Management. "The UBS statement basically shows the model is a failure."

That's not what former Citigroup Chief Executive Sanford Weill envisioned when the company was created in 1998 by the combination of Citicorp and Travelers Group. He maintained that offering a mix of financial products - such as investment banking at Salomon Brothers, brokerage services through Smith Barney, and Citibank's retail and consumer banking - would protect the company.

Critics like Smith believe that Citigroup is worth more split up. Current CEO Vikram Pandit has rejected the idea, believing the company should come through the credit crisis in one piece.

But, John Reed, who as head of Citicorp forged the deal with Weill's Travelers Group, commented recently that the universal bank model didn't work. That's only been highlighted by Citigroup's stock price, down 71 percent from its 52-week high of $49.

Talk about how Citigroup and others should be structured will only intensify now that UBS appears to have turned its back on its "one bank" strategy. Switzerland's largest bank posted a hefty $5.1 billion write-down for the second quarter, and disclosed plans to separate its ailing investment bank from healthier businesses.

And, concerns about the execution of the business model are spreading, even among those who support the idea of financial conglomerates.

Ladenburg Thalmann's Richard X. Bove, one of the most outspoken banking analysts since the credit crisis began last year, wrote in a note that the "concept behind the creation of JPMorgan Chase has broken down."

Bove said JPMorgan's acquisition of Chicago's Bank One in 2004 was intended to beef up its consumer business, including banking and credit cards. That would help offset problems if the capital markets, like investment banking and related areas, were to falter. The problem is that both markets are currently weak.

He said JPMorgan's exposure was hurt further by the acquisition of crippled Bear Stearns in March. Still, despite all this, Bove feels the model is viable - and that JPMorgan can work through the troubles over a number of years by cutting costs and refining its businesses.

"No steel company can sell steel when auto manufacturers aren't selling cars, and no bank can make big profits when there's a weakness in the housing and credit markets," he said. "They have to ride out the cycle, minimize the losses, and maximize profits when the cycle returns. You can't restructure a company to avoid that cycle."

"In 1985, there were 14,500 banks in the U.S. - and now there's 7,200," he said. "For the past 23 years, six of them went away each week. The big universal banks might get hit, but they stay in business and come out with a bigger share of the market than they had before."


Friday, August 15, 2008

too much...

George Carlin will be sorely missed. Yeah, I'm about a month late, but you can never be too late when it comes to saluting talented recently deceased humans. So, last week I found a couple records at the garage sales. Two from Carlin from back in the 70's... the first was Class Clown and the second was Toledo Window box. If I think about it, I'll grab a couple clips out of one of these albums and post it - if not for any other reason than to compare and contrast the world events which happened in Viet Nam - vs - what's happening now with Iraq. Carlin brought up points from then in the 70's that could perfectly compare to what's happening now.

"History may not repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes" - Mark Twain

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

fountain and youth...

Well, anyway, there's like some dudes out there in - like - the world or something that think they can, uh, make people young by like doing stuff with their cells or something... its pretty bad ass.

Scientists stop the ageing process
ABC Australia / AFP | August 12, 2008

Scientists have stopped the ageing process in an entire organ for the first time, a study released today says.

Published in today’s online edition of Nature Medicine, researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York City also say the older organs function as well as they did when the host animal was younger.

...more here at this link:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Flying piece of art causes museum chaos in Switzerland

You see, this is why I don't really respect artists anymore. It seems like the weirder and more obscure they get, the more respect they get from their respective community. I'm not an art minded guy - I mean I love to draw and make a living doing so - but this is ridiculous. Could you imagine what this guy would say if asked (beyond the title of an artist) what he does for a living. His answer would HAVE TO BE: I make huge, floating turds and make millions doing it.

That's just ridiculous.
Now, read this article...

Flying piece of art causes museum chaos in Switzerland

Aug 11 03:26 PM US/Eastern

A giant inflatable dog turd by American artist Paul McCarthy blew away from an exhibition in the garden of a Swiss museum, bringing down a power line and breaking a greenhouse window before it landed again, the museum said Monday.

The art work, titled "Complex S(expletive..)", is the size of a house. The wind carried it 200 metres (yards) from the Paul Klee Centre in Berne before it fell back to Earth in the grounds of a children's home, said museum director Juri Steiner.

The inflatable turd broke the window at the children's home when it blew away on the night of July 31, Steiner said. The art work has a safety system which normally makes it deflate when there is a storm, but this did not work when it blew away.

Steiner said McCarthy had not yet been contacted and the museum was not sure if the piece would be put back on display.


Sunday, August 10, 2008