Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bankers In Paradise

It was decades ago, I was young and I was on vacation in Honolulu, Hawaii. Jimmy Buffet was appearing live at an outdoor stage someplace in Waikiki Beach, singing "Cheeseburger in Paradise".

Fast forward to today. Speaking in the 128th Assembly for Bank Directors Janet Yellen, president of the San Francisco Fed, said that many of the economy's current dynamics are similar to the Great Depression, requiring "urgent, aggressive action". Furthermore, "the economy is in the midst of a downward spiral, and that calls for strong policy responses".

Given the current reduced state of banks all over the nation and massive bailouts in the trillions, one would expect the meeting to be held at the Chicago airport Ramada Inn. Cookies and weak coffee free, anything else you have to pay out of your pocket.


Welcome to the Kohala Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii...

The Fairmont Orchid is the site of the 128th Assembly for Bank Directors, February 5-8, 2009. The Fairmont is set on 32 acres with a white sandy lagoon and aquamarine waters, five restaurants, and the largest petroglyph field in the Pacific.

Ocean view rooms start at $424/nite. But, hey! They can afford it - they have a really rich Uncle.

Those guys are incredible...


  1. No comment...
    Business as usual ?

  2. Hey, I was searching for posts about the long term debt cycle and I came across your site. I really like the content.

    I too was educated as a chemical engineer (I hated it). Now I spend my time as a swing trader of stocks and options. How do you think the restructuring of US debt will effect the currency and stock markets?

    If you get a chance, please check out my blog at Pimp My Trade. Do you want to trade links?

  3. Adam: "restructuring of US debt".

    Remember the days when engineers were engineers, with the simple down-to-earth vocabulary of technicians? So let's harken back to that era and call it what it is--rape.

    Thanks for posting this Hel, more ammo for the letter to my representatives about the aforementioned carnal act they mistake for governance.

  4. I was venting when I posted this earlier then noticed it was not appropriate for the topic. I think it is appropriate now.

    Apparently I have been mistaken. Seems that rubes like me are wrong about those large wall street bonuses. See, they are not really "bonuses" n the true sense of the word. I weren't so stupid I would realize that they are in fact an expected part of the salary package for the mover and shakers on wall street who arguably got us into this mess and are now calling nationalization a necessary "stimulus" for capitalism. Its not socialization its capitalism.

    See its all about semantics. Just words.

    Kind of like "let them eat cake" was just a semantic misunderstanding.

  5. Amen Hell

    Marcus, if you get any traction, my hat is truly off to you. I called and wrote mine several times, you can guess my response- pathetic!

    So many of the players in the system are just so corrupt and sadly the electorate seems even more corrupt.

    Your post reminds me of my (legal) Brazilian au pair many years ago. She related this heart breaking story of how she had been abandoned by her husband, whom she had moved to America with. Apparently he was the son of the Brazilian equivalent of a U.S. Senator (his father apparently represented the capital district of Brasilia- I never validated her story but knowing my au pair, I would be surprised if her story were false, she had a lot of integrity) and he had swept her off her feet when she was in high school. They both immigrated to the U.S. when turned 18. One year after arriving in America he found a 'hotter ticket' with a local American beauty and he left (hence she became our au pair).

    Anyway, my point is she always had this funny idea (at least I thought at the time) that the way to wealth by entering government- in fact she could never conceive of any other way to truly get rich. I thought her ideas so un-American and was amusingly condescending at her at the time.

    It is quite clear how naive I was. We are becoming more and more of a banana republic every single day. The only difference really is the nukes.

  6. I thought about this a little more and realized there may be a little more logic to their conference location choice than I at first recognized.

    You see, I am lucky enough to come from Laguna Beach, where we know a bit about other people's surf lore, and as I think on this, the choice makes perfect sense.

    North Kona is a pretty good location for newbie eastern bankers to learn surfing at taxpayer expense. Significantly, North Kona surf rarely reaches double or triple+ overhead highs as can be reached at some of the more popular surfing spots in Maui or Oahu's North Shore (such as pipeline and the the Waimea wall).

    The gentler waves of North Kona make learning to surf MUCH easier (although North Kona tends to be left break, so unless the bankers are goofy foot, they will have a little extra trouble learning to get up in the beginning).

    What's more, going to Kona means that they have a chance at catching a glimpse of local hero Shane Dorian. And it would be really exciting to bring his autograph back to show the kids.

    Further Yellen's own local hot spot, Mavericks, is simply WAY too much for any beginner.

    So North Kona does have a certain logic to it (though I still think they would probably have been better learning to surf at Waikiki- has got to be the easiest place on earth to learn to surf).

    So remember, they were saving us money! And choosing North Kona allowed a certain focus meetings in Hawaii might otherwise lack.

  7. Marcus, great comment, my hat is off to you, I love it !
    And Thai, will you please clarify what you mean by "electorate" ?
    The electorate is US.
    Well, it's true WE are getting more corrupt by the minute too.
    Inevitable thing about corruption, it just CORRUPTS everything and everyone it touches. Brings the house down.
    Thanks for the tips about Hawaii. Really interesting.
    Cheers, everyone.

  8. If there is sense of decency in this world, there would be a thing like "Bankers in Jail" some time in the future.

  9. Nothing but the best for the elites. They will suck us dry all the way to the bitter end.

    Joe M.

  10. Maverick, do you have any skill with lyrics?

    You might try reworking the lyrics of 'Cheeseburger in Paradise' to 'Banker's in Jail'.

    Who knows, it might be as catchy as I want some TARP.

  11. Disgusting. None of this is even remotely surprising. In the 1980's I watched executives taking their golden parachutes while staff losing jobs (like myself) during merger's were liquidating what "was" in their pensions...just to stay alive. There was no conscience!! None... and if you showed even a slight indication to mention your own condition - well someone turned up the music! Ethics, integrity, morality, conscience or whatever guiding force that should stop humans - seems to have become passe' a long while ago.

  12. Debra, Thanks for the kind comment.

    More propaganda was spouted by the corporate media tools last week concerning the "bonuses".

    Apparently the 18.5 billion in Wall Street bonuses ONLY amounted to an "average of $100,000 a piece". This is of course for an industry that has thrown the world into a financial crisis, commonly called failure

    So do the simple math: 18.5 billion/100 thousand equals 185 thousand. This is using the common definition of average--the mean.

    If there are still anywhere close to 185,000 brokers and executives working in investment firms on Wall Street we can argue this is over-capacity that needs to be pared, to provide more talent to engineering for example.

  13. Thanks for the heads up on yet more disgraceful and shameless spending of Uncle Sam's (our) money. Let me cut right to the chase. Going forward, the U.S. stands an excellent chance of seeing massive social upheaval the likes of which no one alive has ever experienced. Why? Because folks in power are going too far in their blatent looting and disregard for the rule of law.

    So, having said that:

    If there's a march on D.C. that goes right up the steps of the Capitol and into the halls of Congress, sign me up. If there's some serious civil disobedience being planned in response to the kleptocratic behaviour of our public serpents (who are almost all either lackeys to, or cowed by private sector interests) I am there. How about you? Are are you going to tell me it's all a waste of time? Save your breath.

    Here's how I feel. You want a different government-not just one where only the names change-then we are all going to have to trample the grass on the lawn big time? Clearly, fear, fear of the gut wrenching, knock kneed, bowel loosening sort, is the only thing our elected and appointed officials in D.C. will respond to.

    I'm awfully sorry, but faxing your Congressman just won't do, no matter how often and how irate you sound, no matter how right you may be, "they" aren't going to be moved until "they" have something coming at them that looks unmistakably like it has every intention of leaving them flat on their backs and writhing in agony. Perhaps you think my jeremiad sounds a tad intemperate. So be it. I personally have no interest in getting "them" to do what they ought to have done a long time ago. I want them out, gone!

  14. Edwardo,

    You are spot on, there is no way the banksters will relinquish their power unwillingly.

    The ONLY work-out from here will be total collapse. This is the only way to rid ourselves from these parasites.

    We will rout them them out but only after much suffering. The biggest problem I see is that the masses will be caught un-aware.

    As such, a Revolution is a given. Remember this, it only takes 5% of the population to take down the US Military or any force for that matter. This is a historical fact.

    The evidence is very clear in the small country of IRAQ.

    Joe M.

  15. "You are spot on, there is no way the banksters will relinquish their power unwillingly."

    Sorry for the double-negative. I should have said, There is no way they will relinquish their power willingly.

    This is a fact rooted in history. Our whole society has been absconded by the money changers.

    This is the only time Jesus became angry, he knew the money changers were the root of all evil and they would prevent us from realizing our destiny.

    Joe M.

  16. Edwardo, I would like to believe it but I just don't see it coming, at least not from the circles I run in.

    While I certainly see the potential for BIG riots in the future, and I guess you could call riots a form of marching on our capital, I suspect the rioters and marchers will be more like the Argentinean mobs asking for more money than what I think you have in mind.

    Everyone in the crowd will likely be looking at the riots for what they can personally get out of the deal rather than a workable solution for the overwhelming majority of us going forward.

    Okie's Upton Sinclair quote seems quite appropriate: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."

    If I had to guess an ending, this will probably all end up like John Law's Mississippi bubble in France. In the end, after all the social upheaval, nothing will change. The deck chairs will still be there, MOST of the same players will still be there, and only a few relative positions of players will have been slightly rearranged.

  17. RE: Edwardo's 6:35 comment -

    I recall one night, more than two years ago now, awakening from a vivid dream: I saw in this dream individuals converging from various paths leading to roads. Not marching, but purposefully striding. The individuals plainly dressed, but not uniformed, carrying nothing to even suggest any sort of weapon. Where the roads joined highways, the individuals formed rows perhaps one hundred or more abreast. The ranks continuously swelling, the river of humanity progressing intently toward some destination.

    And at that point I wakened.

    I think back to examples of mass assemblies that effected change like the 1963 MLK march. Iran in 1979-80 also comes to mind.

    Small numbers are probably seen as frivoulous, somewhat larger numbers likely perceived as a threatening mob. At some larger size, however it becomes manifestly an expression of the vox populi.

    What is the critical mass?
    More than one hundred thousand?

  18. Yeah, TARP song was very funny. But check this out:

    You say I did it again.
    I made you believe
    Dough does grow on trees.
    Oh, baby;
    It might seem like crash,
    But it doesn't mean
    That I'm to blame.
    'Cause to lose common sense...
    That is just so typically me.
    Oh, baby; baby.

    ... I did it again.
    I played with your trust.
    Got lost in the game.
    Oh, baby; baby.
    ... You thought I'm so fair.
    Now got you gray hair...
    I'm not that innocent.

    You see my problem is this:
    I'm dreaming away;
    Wishing perm’growth does truly exist.
    I cry watching the days.
    Can't you see I'm a fool
    In so many ways?
    But to lose all c’mmon sense...
    That is just so typically me.
    Baby, oh.

    ... I did it again.
    I played with your greed.
    Got lost in the game.
    Oh, baby; baby.
    ... You thought I'm so fair.
    Now got you gray hair...
    I'm not that innocent.

    Oops! I
    Played game with your mind.
    Got lost
    In this game; oh, baby.
    Oops! You
    Thought I deserve Maybach and house...
    I'm not that innocent.

    ... I did it again.
    I told crap on TV.
    Got lost in the game.
    Oh, baby; baby.
    ... Now you know that I'm lame.
    Start cursing my name...
    I'm not that innocent.

    ... I did it again.
    I couldn't have known.
    Just got lost in the game.
    Oh, baby; baby.
    ... You think I should hang.
    For causing all this...
    Judge, I pleed innocent.

    Although a bit repetitive, and sugary pop, it can be made into something truly mocking, if the voice is done right.
    Yeah, I admit Weird Al is more talented parodist. But anyway, if somebody feels like making something out of this, I don't mind at all.

  19. Yeah, too many corporate bankers.
    Too many traders.
    Too many CEO's.
    Pare it down.
    Flush it down the toilet.
    Can somebody give me a link to the John Law/Mississippi/France episode ? I'd like to get some culture. (But pre-chewed culture, not wade through Google, please...)
    Marching sounds better and better doesn't it ?
    Thai, you didn't respond to my question ; I hope that you have not decided to ignore me. I know I am paranoic, but it's not polite...
    And, your circles, Thai, are professional people circles.
    I presume they are in the U.S. what they are in France.
    Most doctors either REALLY figure among the haves, or LIKE TO BELIEVE that they figure among the haves.
    And the haves do NOT foment revolutions.
    Too much to lose in them, remember ?
    There's always room for exceptions, but they are few and far between in a profession which is so much a corporation in the antique sense of the word.
    I like the lyrics at the end.
    Should they be sung to the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" melody ?
    (By the way, that REALLY sucked...) Sorry Hell, hope you didn't like it...

  20. I really wasn't ignoring you Debra, I thought it was a rhetorical question. "YES", we are the electorate.

    And here is a digested link to John Law's Mississippi Bubble. A Scottish charlatan really pulled the wool over your French countrymen's eyes. American, of course, is forever grateful he did.

    Homo Sarcasticus- well done. Maybe you can suggest to Edwardo to make it the marching theme song when we all storm the capital with pitchforks and torches?

  21. Thanks, Thai, I will check out the link.
    But I get the feeling (maybe I'm wrong...) that the police state (remember, one behind every citizen...) will gun us down before we manage to converge on the white house...
    We are living in a SEMBLANCE of democracy.