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Most of you have heard the latest reports of the spreading swine virus, causing fears of a worldwide pandemic.  Besides the obvious human toll that such a disease can bring, this has the possibility of making a world economic recovery more difficult.  For one, Mexico remains one the United States’ largest trading partners.  Even if the disease does not reach the levels of infection that have been feared by public health officials, this illness will nonetheless create a barrier to both commerce and travel.  In a time of severe economic stress, such a health scare could have serious ramifications.  Personal productivity, for one, can be negatively affected.  The sheer mental distractions caused by threat of illness could keep enough people’s minds on something other than work, to make a marked difference in productivity.  Think of the further delays at airports and checkpoints should this virus continue to spread.  Just when economic confidence appears to have hit bottom and has no where to go but up from here, such a random event can have unexpected consequences. 

So, the time has come for the banks to spill their beans.  By the end of the day tomorrow, our country’s leading financial institutions will have their fates discovered.  Is this really, though, a discovery?  Since the virtual stakeholder ownership of these institutions by our taxpayers occurred last fall, the element of discovery through price mechanisms is long gone.  Replacing market principles, arbitrariness now leads the day.  Washington ultimately decides the fate of these institutions.  They must, therefore, make one of two decisions.  One, the Fed could declare a blanket green light for these institutions by stating that their financial health is both current and sustainable.  This, however, would largely de-legitimize the bank stress test concept.  The primary reason for the test was the need for toxic assets to be revealed on bank’s balance sheets.  Even after the Fed’s massive purchases of mortgage debt and the TALF, which almost guarantees bad assets, there is still no wide agreement on what remains and how to price the remaining assets held on the books of these institutions.  Could several banks suddenly, over the previous few months, really have re-structured their activities as to remain profitable?  They could bring about a second scenario:  Allow a major bank to fail.  Without naming names, one could envision a major entity not having the wherewithal to continue with their previous business model, which could mean certain formal re-structuring and an utter disaster for common shareholders.  This second scenario is much scarier.  First, such a failure would be a likely catalyst for an extreme market reversal, especially in the financial sector.  Just as confidence has started to rebuild (S&P Financials are up almost 20% in three months) and investors are chattering about taking gradual steps into more risk, a scenario such as the one described would almost assuredly take the heat out of the recent rally.  Volatility, which has been on the decline this year in both equity and foreign exchange markets, will take hold once again.  This scenario, I would argue is quite possible.  Would the administration, taking fire from taxpayers over the recent bailouts, want to risk once again being seen giving a lifeline to this industry?  Letting one institution fail would be just enough to appear as if they are not handing out to the oh-so-derided bankers.  Letting more than one too-big-to-fail bank to fall would mean almost certain systemic risk elements to once again enter into play, which has been delightfully absent in the past few months.  Cynicism aside, the Obama administration, rightly so, will not want to risk damaging an economy trying to get its footing. 

So, what is the right decision from an overall moral hazard standpoint?  Should we guarantee the soundness of bank’s books even though, deep inside, we know that this is impossible?  Or should we let a bank fail and try to let whatever residues are left of a rational market to determine the outcome?  I would argue, although I am eating my words, that they (the administration) should decide on the first scenario.  Really, its a modest proposal.  We have, up to this point, bailed out entire industries on the verge of the collapse, in order to ensure that the entire world does not collapse before us, and the Greatest Depression to begin.  We have added, quite speedily, a monstrous increase in the overall debt that this country owes with the recent budget and stimilus packages.  Why, then, deviate?  At least, with the recent rally, we have seen markets better understand the relationship unfolding between the private and public sector, with former lines of demarcation suddenly blurred.  Perhaps, it is that we could excuse a little intervention now and then if that means more stability.  Allowing a too-big-to- fail bank to go under, would erase any future success in initiating clarity and calm to the world economy.  Maybe it would be a bit more freakishly Orwellian.  This is the moment the administration must truly use a little of bit of creativity and boldness.  The expedient route would be to allow a single failure.  The irresponsible route would be one that would allow several failures.  The wisest route would be to signal the “Loud and Clear!”

Please post what route you think is the best one for our future.  Lets watch this most interesting next week.  And hold onto our hats!

Douchebag of the Week

Douchebag of the Week

It is an honor to be writing this douchebag of the week post. What are some of the qualities that people think of when they think of a douchebag? I tend to think of someone who is smug. Someone who has an over-inflated sense of self worth, compounded by a low level of intelligence, behaving ridiculously in front of colleagues with no sense of how moronic he appears. When I think of this, I think of Scott Hartnell, or myself, but for the sake of not writing about myself, Scott Hartnell has been named this weeks “Douchebag of the Week”. Anyone who has watched any of the series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers can testify that his actions throughout the course of the series have been ludacris and in some situations, outright foolish. Off the top of my head examples of this include but are not limited to running our goalie, taking a series of ill-timed penalties, and just by looking at his appearance we can all agree that while he played a brilliant role on the Simpsons, he does not play such a dynamic role on the ice. Using David’s prior post about standards for athletes as a template, I believe that Scott Hartnell perfectly fits the bill as douchebag of the week.

To the devoted readers of the Kargblog…I am embarassed. I let my personal opinions of a fanbase be portrayed as an entire city. That is irresponsible. If there is anything that Kargblog is about, it is responsible, eloquent, and fun. My last post about Philadelphia was irresponsible, inappropriate, and not fun at all to read. For this, I apologize to anyone who read that piece and was offended. It was not my intent to offend any of the readers of this glorious blog. I merely meant to entertain and my latest post was off the mark. I apologize to the city of Philadelphia. I lumped an entire city in with a few thousand patrons at a hockey game and that was also irresponsible. I’m sure there are many lovely things about the city of Philadelphia that I have not experienced and many tremendous citizens. I will not apologize to Flyers fans who pack the Wachovia Center. They are dirt. To everyone else, the readers, the city, I truly apologize. Sincerely, Heater.

When I think of Philadelphia, I think of scum. And not the friendly soap scum that you can get rid of with a little elbow grease and “scrubbin bubbles”. I mean the kind of scum that you should just take a good look at, say “f@*k it”, set the bitch on fire and start over. That’s what I think of when I think Philadelphia. Is this uneducated? Absolutely. Do I care? F#$k no. I’ve been to the city. To be bland about it, I do not care for it.

 

I have friends who were born and raised in Philadelphia who are nice, decent, and fun loving people. But I have sat in the stands in the Wachovia Center, been hit with items that I didn’t know people would be willing to spend $9 to throw at me. I’ve been called things in those stands that would make the average person’s face melt. I’ve been propositioned to fight by a restroom full of Philadelphia’s finest. These people boo’d Santa Claus at an Eagles game for God’s sake. Not everyone is a terrible person who is in Philadelphia but my experiences have been less than pleasant.

 

And its not just the behavior, but what they say….Example. “Crosby Sucks”….If you’ve watched any of this first round series, you will hear that echoed over and over again during game 3 and game 4 in Philadelphia.  I disagree with that statement. Philadelphia disagrees with me. My ignorant and uneducated response to Philadelphia as a whole is “I will give you something to suck on you trash of society, f&@k all of your mothers right in the ass.” However, being that I went to school and received a diploma, I will argue logically….3rd in the National Hockey League in points. Behind a Flyer you may ask??? No…F!$k no. Sidney Crosby has been to the Stanley Cup. Youngest captain in league history. Won the League MVP 2 years ago. He has routinely punished Philadelphia for the way they have treated him. In the regular season, Crosby has played Philadelphia 26 times. He has 46 points. Yep, I guess he is pretty bad. I am disgusted that there is not a cage around the city to keep these people away from the rest of society. The Wachovia Center is a zoo and it should be treated as such.

 

Here we are now 2 periods into tonights hockey game….HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…..Eat s&*t Philadelphia. I laugh because everything bad that is happening is deserved. Have your coach talk about our goalie to the media, through 2 periods Marc-Andre Fleury has been the best player on the ice by far. Suck my ass.

 

In a game like this, the “best young captain” in the game steps up…Where has Mike Richards been? Maybe Pierre McGuire literally sucked the life out of him over the weekend….literally.

 

John Stevens looks like Bob Saget. Suck a c!#k. Preach discipline to your team and get a goalie. Without those two items you’ll continue to be golfing before the Pens.

 

Fleury just made another big save. So big I got an erection. I typed this with my penis…I’m kidding….or am I?

 

This kind of discussion is had a lot whenever these two teams meet. This isn’t just Flyers vs Penguins. Its Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia. Good vs. Evil. I really don’t care what your opinion is on Philadelphia. I don’t like it. If you like it, good for you. I don’t care. In my opinion it is a terrible city full of awful people. I have personal experiences to back it up and nothing is going to change my opinion. My personal opinion’s shouldn’t change your views. If they do, good. Welcome to the bright side of life. If they don’t, you’re Darth Vader.

 

Daniel Briere may have a vagina.

 

With 10 minutes left in the game I’m still very hesitant to look past this team and chalk this up as a win…So I will continue to talk about my disgust for Philadelphia. Lets now talk about these jerseys. They are creamsicles. I’m off the jerseys as the suddenly quiet crowd attempted to chant “Crosby sucks” as he wasn’t on the ice and again punished them by scoring the first goal of the game. I love beating Philadelphia. I really do, but I love it more when their whipping boy, a top 3 player in the world, not just the league but the f*#$ing world, scores. It must really suck to not recognize greatness when its right in front of you.

 

Philadelphia scores….shit.

 

I’m done with this shit for the night. Too big of a game. If I walk in happy tomorrow, you’ll be able to figure out how this game went, if not, use your best judgement. Regardless, Philadelphia is still abject filth. 

Robert Shiller, the economist credited for correctly predicting the collaspse of the technology stock bubble in the late nineties as well as the housing bubble, noted the recent fear and resistance to a massive stimulus/overhaul to combat the ills of a creeping deflation which will ultimately chain our retirement accounts as well as our hopes for future prosperity.  It is understandable that a great number of our country’s citizens have negative feelings toward our future with the sheer wealth destruction that has taken place in the past year as well as the freefall in our labor markets.  However, there will be greater freefall ahead undoubtebly should we resist the need to get credit flowing again to our businesses and consumers.

As a follow up to my previous blog post on the advantages to implementing a full-scale high speed rail system in this country, I must comment on the President’s support this week for such a plan.  His vision is certainly a bit high-minded to the degree that this project could take years before any real overhaul of the previous rail network would be realized.  Nonetheless, a step in the right direction.  California appears to have taken the lead in initiating any real effort to get the ball rolling on a project, designing a network connecting both Northern and Southern Ca.  The question of its real success in the future depends on the receptiveness of our population to a new way of gettting from destination to destination.  Given the angst experienced every day at our nation’s airports and our clogged highway system, it is easy to imagine demand meeting expectations of these proposals.  Low-cost, efficient travel will make it easier for both those living in highly populated areas commuting between cities and those in the interior regions, as well.

Wrap up from Game 1:

It’s going to be brief as I went to the game and to be quite frank, didn’t care to make mental notes about what was going on and at what time. A few random observations though:

-Popular belief was the pressure was all on the Penguins. Yeah, Evgeni Malkin really looked like he was feeling the pressure as he lobbed a puck at a member of the ice crew after warmups to see if the man could direct it into the net with his foot. And when the guy from the ice crew was able to do it, Geno let loose an enormous smile and went and celebrated with the guy. Yep, pressure. What a bitch. PS…What a smile on that Russian.

-The arena was absolutely electric to start the game. Unbelievable atmosphere. I’ve been to Steelers playoff games and although there aren’t nearly as many people, it is absolutely a comparable experience. Amazing.

-I stated in my earlier post that I didn’t think that Martin Biron was good enough to keep a team as talented as us down for long. Tonight proved my point entirely. Martin Biron was as shakey as a Muhammed Ali etch a sketch. Such a terrible goaltender. Philadelphia will never get anywhere with him between the pipes. So the checklist for Philadelphia is: get a decent goaltender; kick that beastiality habit.

-Marc-Andre Fleury must be French for “I had sex with Scott Hartnell’s mother”

-While on the subject of Scott Hartnell, many of you may have recognized him from his numerous television appearances. Here are a couple screenshots from his fame….

or maybe this:

or even this magazine cover:

Regardless, he’s poop.

-The playoffs are where the big boys shine. Case and point; Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury were all studs last night. The 3 stars of the game came from those 4 players with Geno being the odd man out somehow. If you need more information on how well they played, watch the game yourself.

-Tyler Kennedy. He may hit on my friends with ridiculously terrible lines and appear to be a relative of Babe: Pig in the city, but the kid has heart and played his ass off tonight. My kudos to MR. KENNEDY!!!!!!!!!!!!! KENNEDY!!!!!!!!

(not my video, not my seats. thanks to the random that posted that on youtube)

-Mark Eaton should win the Norris Trophy. Or run for Senate. The dude has heart and is a solid defensive defenseman who even managed to score a goal tonight. Not sure how any of that would qualify him for a Senate run but I’d vote for him regardless.

-Max Talbot is a warrior. Don’t agree? Don’t care.

-In the prior post, I also stated that there wouldn’t be as many fisticuffs. Throw that out the window. I missed that call. My bad. Not really. I loved it. Game 2 is going to be just as, if not more, physical. That’s what this rivalry is. That’s what hockey in Philadelphia is. They get frustrated and they take cheap shots. If someone doesn’t stand up to them, said shots will continue. It takes the heart of a lion to step up and do something about it and the team showed that it has the heart of a lion and the heart of a herd of gazelles that the lion just ate. This is a man’s game. If you don’t get tough and get physical and defend yourself and your teammates then you are doomed to fail and rot in mediocrity.

-At the trade deadline I was not pleased with the Bill Guerin trade. I am man enough to admit when I’m wrong. I ate those words tonight. Tonight he showed what kind of leader he is. A grizzled veteran, not known for fighting, threw down with a bigger, much younger opponent for taking liberties with his teammate towards the end of the game. It takes a great competitor to do that and I tip my hat to Bill Guerin…as if he cares….as if it matters.

-Last thing. Anyone who thought we weren’t a physical enough team to hang with the “broad street bullies” can take a piece of advice from Jackie Moon and “suck one”. There were more bodies being thrown around tonight than on prom night. Hockey…..love it.

Thats all I got tonight. Want anything else, I’m an easy person to find. Ask me about the game and I’ll shoot the shit all day. 1 game down, 15 to go. Holla at a playa when ya see him in the street.

Douchebag of the Week

Douchebag of the Week

 

It may be that this blogsite has taken an uncharacteristic turn.  Also, it may be that Jeff Reed, the Kicker for the World Champion Pittsburgh Steelers does not deserve to be mistaken for such an intimate device.  However, given the fact that the aforementioned man, the one who is pictured above, and a key member of arguably one of the most elusive franchises in the history of Western sport, looks as if he has spent the last years of his life under a heat lamp in Tijuana with his shirt off at a bar draws comment.  In school and in our formidable years playing team sports, we look to superstar athletes as being quite, well- super.  Role models for sure, they demand a certain respect for the mere fact that they have accomplished what most have not.  Of course in times of ungodly salaries and stories of steroid abuse, one must already write off a certain standard that we may have expected from athletes.  We are all human, of course, and athletes should be expected to make mistakes in an imperfect world.  But come on.  Does anyone viewing the above picture believe there is a shred of dignity left in this man’s self?  With a certain degree of fame and fortune, should we somehow expect a lapse in how we may portray ourselves?  The Greeks promoted arete, or excellence within their society.  This included athletics and ethics.  What do we promote in athletics?