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September/October 2008   (updated 10/23/08)

Readers Essays

Toxic Liabilities Are Not Assets
(Zeus Y., October 23, 2008)
Answering reader response to Imaginary Worth, Empire of Debt: How Modern Finance Created Its Own Downfall

Sooner or later we have to recognize a massive fraud has been perpetrated. It needs to be revealed that major companies have trillions of dollars of junk on their books and are likely not solvent according to traditional notions of solvency. So we have a Catch-22, but not one that will be solved by hiding: expose the fraud and risk likely short-term collapse and re-scaling of economic confidence and systems, or cover the symptoms, hide the toxins, and allow them to fester and rot out the economy in a prolonged sickness that may spread and gain momentum beyond attempts to assuage the problems.

The Common Chump
(Chris Sullins, October 3, 2008)

We are still a ways off on our current timeline leading to a contemporary Marie Antoinette statement about bread and cake. I suspect when that moment arrives in a marbled room on this side of the Atlantic, it will either be tightly controlled or leaked by design. However, we are now at a point where the well-powdered whisper blowing upon the tiny spark of public anger seems to be “If they have two slices of bread, then take their little pat of butter.”

The No Banker Left Behind Bill
(Chuck D., September 29, 2008)
I have been mulling over the proposed bailout bill (which I have decided should be called the No Banker Left Behind Bill). I have the feeling that no matter what they do, something big this way is coming. I just don’t know what form it will take.

Part I: A 70 Trillion Dollar Counterfeiting Ring
(Zeus Y., September 23, 2008)

According to several sources the market for so-called "credit default swaps" last year alone was nearly equal to the total global GDP, around 70 trillion dollars by some estimates. Yet these derivatives have no discernible "origin" or value.

Part II: How the Credit Default Swap Scam Works
(Zeus Y., October 13, 2008)
Instead of asking the obvious, complex, and obscuring question, "What value DO they have?”, one should ask the elegant and simple question, "What value COULD they have?" Even a cursory examination would seem to indicate that the answer is either zero or less-than-zero.

Part III: Credit Default Swaps Create Less-Than-Zero Value
(Zeus Y., October 13, 2008)
Now, how can a supposed "asset" like credit default swaps have a “less-than-zero” (negative) value. First, credit default swaps were insuring debt. Debt is not an asset as I explained in previous essays, but a liability. Mistake number one was to confuse asset and liability.

Part IV: There Is Ultimately No Gaming the System: When the Micro Crash Reflects the Macro Crash
(Zeus Y., September 29, 2008)
The proposed 700 billion dollar bailout cannot really “work” from a system level. I know it’s real intention is to cover the butts of Wall Street investors, but you have the same problem in macro that homeowners have in micro. Nobody knows what homes are worth right now, so buyers are sitting it out. It isn’t about restricted credit (even though that is a factor). It isn’t about being too cash strapped to make a down payment (though that too is a factor). It’s about not wanting to be suckered into buying something that may still be overpriced.

The MacRib is Back!
(Chris Sullins, Septmber 23, 2008)
I want to assure you this is not a viral ad campaign. There is going to be a point to the title because it contains a small story within a much larger one. Also, the title contains a unique spelling for a reason.

First, do no harm
(Chris Sullins, Septmber 15, 2008)
I don’t have a simple answer on how to find the strong and humble leaders who will help us fix things. The closest thing I have to a one-liner is the title you see above. After my years of research and direct active participation in government at all levels, the best thing I can do is encourage you to participate as well.

Dust and Shadow, Part 2
(Chris Sullins, September 5, 2008)
The reasons someone becomes a soldier are varied. At an individual level I would suspect they are little different from those given by warriors from across the planet from now to ages past. One can read “The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China” and see that the art of warfare, harnessing the motivations of men, and empire management has changed very little over the past two millennia.

During my deployment to Iraq. . . .

Readers Poetry

Verona U.


The fresh bloom of youth
light-pink scalloped underwear drying on a fire escape
a flower box, thirsty, perseverant
an oasis amidst gloomy brick walls.

Green and orange
iridescent green duck's neck
iridescent orange California poppy

blood on the snow
something must die
for something new to live

The scent of a matron's perfume
flowery, old ladies on the bus,
withered and smelling of flowers.

Witt, Gen & Stein
pranksters at law
will hold their Annual Summer Party
at the Enchanted Hunters Lodge
discounts for viscounts
Puns are welcome
Bring your own arguments.

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