Ackermann vs. Hoenig: Take It To The WTO

Josef Ackermann, chief executive of Deutsche Bank and chairman of the Institute of International Finance (an influential group, reflecting the interests of global finance in Washington) is opposed to breaking up big banks.  According to the FT, he said,

“The idea that we could run modern, sophisticated, prosperous economies with a population of mid-sized savings banks is totally misguided.”

This is clever rhetoric – aiming to portray proponents of reform as populists with no notion of how a modern economy operates.  But the problem is that some leading voices for breaking up banks come from people who are far from being populists, such as the UK authorities (in the news today) and the US’s Thomas Hoenig.

Hoenig is an experienced regulator, who has dealt with many bank failures.  He is also currently President of the Kansas City Fed and an articulate voice regarding how banks became so big, why that leads to macroeconomic problems, and how consumers get trampled (answer: credit cards, issued by big banks; p.6).  He supports a resolution authority that would help deal with some situations, but also says (p.9):

“To those who say that some firms are too big to fail, I wholeheartedly agree that some are too big.  However, these firms can be unwound in a manner that does not cause irreparable harm to our economy and financial system but actually strengthens it for the long run.”

Mr. Hoenig is, if anything, a little too polite.  There is no evidence that huge banks, at their current scale, provide any social benefit.  When these same banks were much smaller, in dollar terms and as a percent of the economy, the global economy functioned no worse than today.

Mr. Ackermann and his colleagues are pursuing a purely self-serving line.  Reasonable centrist opinion is turning against them.  Either the big banks need to shrink voluntarily or they will potentially face consequences that they cannot control.

Building on ideas from the Kansas City Fed, the Bank of England, the UK Financial Services Authority, and the European Commission, the consensus is moving towards the view that state-supported banking (i.e., operating through implicit guarantees on Too Big To Fail banks) constitutes an unfair form of protectionism.  Financial services in this guise do not currently fall within the remit of the World Trade Organization, but it would be a simple matter to extend its mandate in this direction.

In any reasonable judicial-type process, involving relatively transparent weighing of the evidence, Mr. Ackermann would be most unlikely to prevail.

By Simon Johnson

35 thoughts on “Ackermann vs. Hoenig: Take It To The WTO

  1. This is rich coming from Ackermann, who admitted in 2007 that the banks knew what they were doing was risky and foolish, but that competitive pressures forced them to do very dangerous things.

    It’s all in this story I wrote two years ago.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/banks-saw-crisis-was-coming-but-were-powerless

    WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The world’s biggest bankers said Sunday their greed made them powerless to prevent the train wreck in credit markets, even though they recognized that markets weren’t pricing the risk of subprime default appropriately.

    “No one was surprised” by the meltdown of the U.S. subprime market and the resulting impact on credit markets, said Josef Ackermann, chairman of Deutsche Bank AG and chairman of the Institute of International Finance, a group of hundreds of major banks from all over the world that was set up 25 years ago in reaction to earlier financial crises. “We worried about these things.”

    In the spring, the IIF warned its members in the spring to “not allow deal pressures to water down standards.”

    “We’ve been talking a lot about this” for years, said William Rhodes, CEO of Citibank and the first vice chairman of the IIF.

    “When do you want to stop taking the risks as long as so much revenue is being realized,” Ackermann told journalists at the IIF annual meetings, which are occurring simultaneously with the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

  2. I love it when Industry associations or industry groups get quoted online or in print.

    Has Wacky-Mart screwed it’s employees for years on benefits??? Our investigative team goes to Wacky-Mart’s CEO for the answer. “Mr. CEO, did you screw your employees for years on benefits?” CEO answers “No we did not.” Reporter to camera “There you have it folks, nothing bad going on here. Back to the news desk.”

    I guess if 12+ Corporations get together, choose some spokesman, and give you the same self-serving answer, you should get a Peabody award now.

  3. Gotta’ love the “straw man” argument from Ackermann. I don’t think any official is planning a shift from the current situation in finance to a bunch of mid-sized savings banks. What’s being “mis-guided” here is the argument, Josef.

    Of course, the “elephant in the room” is this: if the big banks hadn’t needed (substantial, mind you) government support this debate would not be happening. Now that the costs of failure are getting priced in, the days of the big banks are numbered.

    Alas, I suspect not before we suffer another crisis.

  4. I love the issue of whether the big banks should be broken up, because it provides a 90% reliable litmus test for who has been bought and paid for. Unlike most questions of policy, this one is not even a close call.

    My favorite is Tarullo, who implied that the task is impossible just days before the U.K. started actually doing it. Heh heh.

  5. Wall Street banksters are only inviting the sacking of the banks when the apocalypse in the system strikes.

  6. Tarullo is a lapdog. Watch where he flies after he leaves the Federal Reserve. My guess is he’ll follow Edward Yingling to the American Bankers Association (ABA).

  7. While these banks becomes too big the fail my small company becomes to small to succeed. My credit line has dried up with half of my suppliers. This white house has none nothing for a small company like mine. If if wasn’t for my Financial Domme and the piece of mind she gives me , I would go nuts. She is better than a shrink. Here is her link. Check her out and tell me what a wonderful service she provides:

    http://naughtywetwife.net/dominatrix/

  8. A true populist movement could resolve th entire too big to fail issue. Stop doing business with Wells Fargo and Bank of America and Citi Group and Chase. Put you money in your local or egional bank. Better yet go to the local credit union. Shrinking deposits for the behemoths would result in smaler banks.

    And for those who defend the big banks remember that 20 years ago all the world’s biggest banks were Japanese. What good did that do for the Japanese economy or for the Japanese people?

  9. As I have posted a few times lately on other Baseline topics, the first step in any size resolution approach is to address the pesky definition issue.

    A very simplistic breakdown of what banks or financial services institutions used to be but a few years ago is as follows:
    1) Consumer bank
    2) Commercial bank
    3) Investment bank
    4) Consumer brokerage firm
    5) Hedge fund, arbitraging, wealthy brokerage firm
    6) Insurance company

    Now, in the last two decades, in the U.S. we have removed virtually all Chinese Wall regulations that used to prevent any one of the above six from becoming or acting like any other(s) of the six.

    Thus, the current definition of the term “bank” can only be something so broad as to be meaningless and utterly non-descriptive. Like: “an institution that may engages in consumer retail banking, business commercial banking, investment banking, consumer brokerage, hedge fund, arbitraging, wealthy brokerage, and/or insurance services to whatever combination or degree it chooses, whenever it chooses.”

    How big is too big for such an institution? In my view it is too big in this structure at ANY size because it is impossible to regulate.

    Now, if we went back to consumer retail banks being limited to being ONLY consumer retail banks, and nothing else, I support the concepts that economies of scale and efficiencies would justify scale. Commercial banks could be global-the primary bank argument for resisting break up-but would be limited to commercial transactions-they couldn’t play with derivatives.

    Thus, I really think we’re asking the wrong questions. And, we need to start with defining sub definitions of “banks” and re-creating Chinese Walls to keep each of these in its own unique business definition.

    I’ll remind all here that 99% of AIGs insurance business was fine and profitable and stable. It was AIGs excessive and irresponsible venture into derivatives that killed it. Do we really want our insurance companies to be hedge funds or arbitragers? Furthermore, we allowed Goldman Sachs to spontaneously morph into a bank holding company when it served their purposes. Is there really value in having investment banks morph into banks?

    Now, the banks don’t want definitional or business restrictions-they want to keep all of their options open. But, we will not have any semblance of appreciable or effective reform until we demand definition, and restore Chinese Walls.

  10. “The idea that we could run modern, sophisticated, prosperous economies with a population of mid-sized savings banks is totally misguided.”

    Let’s see:

    1. What does “modern” mean? It means whatever we have these days, nothing more. So to say “you can’t run modern economies without being modern” is a meaningless tautology. Anything can be “modern” – what we have now, or something completely different.

    2. “Sophisticated” is a value in itself? Even fashion designers don’t claim that; OTC when the style is “sophisticated” then it’s time to get back to simplicity. So there he’s talking like a small child.

    No, “sophistication” is never intrinsically worth anything. It has to be functional toward a goal.

    3. “Prosperous” – Now we get to the real meat and the Big Lie. Prosperous for whom? It’s hard to believe this poltroon hasn’t noticed how his crimes have trashed the West’s economy, or how the economic position of the non-rich has radically deteriorated over the last 40 years. (Sure, he’s from Europe, not America, but there the degradation has only been slower, not averted.)

    So he clearly means prosperity by class war standards. The prosperity of the feudal lord, enforced through the lash upon the backs of his serfs.

    In the past that kind of Big Lie always worked. But I think its expiration date has just about passed…

  11. I think that’s exactly what we need to start doing, and the idea is starting to spread, in spite of the MSM’s blackout.

    What’s next is, we need an actual organized movement to encourage people to do this.

  12. Interesting and simple comment on this topic by Vernon Hill – Seeking Alpha. Why not just increase capital requirements on any bank (financial institution?)over $100billion in assets. The market will sort out if its worth it or not. Something must be done to reduce size. I’ve been a banker for over 25 years and tighter, detailed regulation won’t fix things. As capable as some regulators are, they are no match for the quantity and intricacy of many of the most complex and dangerous banking activities. A little bit of “moral suasion” of senior management and directors, like criminal neglegence penalties may be helpful as well.

  13. But don’t forget that if you break up the banks, then u have to hire all these new managers and V.P.s to replace the overworked people that were doing all the work themselves. wouldn’t that cost money (ie profits for the banks) and hurt the economy?
    for example, right now there is CEO for government sachs. if you broke up that bank you would have 2+ CEOs making the pay that that one person made. then that first CEO would have to share his gym membership with those new CEOs and those ppl might be from lower class citizenry and they might contaminate the first CEO with their poor person stink.
    Sorry guys, I am from Lansing Michigan and we are pretty close to being a 3rd world country here.

  14. What is your definition of “bank”-see my post above. Capital requirements for “banks” should be directly dependent on what they do. Specifically, retail consumer banks’ capital requirements should be X. Commercial banks’ capital requirements should be Y. Investment banks’ captial requirements should be Z. Insurance companies capital requirements should be W. Hedge funds, arbitragers, and sophisticated client brokerages should have capital requirements of V. Consumer brokerage firms’ capital requirements being U.

    There is not one broad universal capital requirement that can be applied to the completely overbraod definition of “bank” enjoyed today. The formula for the capital requirement for the frankenstein entities that exist today that can engage in consumer banking, commercial banking, investment banking, insurance, hedge funds, arbitrage, and consumer brokerage would be something like:

    U + V + W + X + Y + Z in appropriate percentages based upon actual business practices, subject to perpetual change-what? monthly? quarterly? bi-annually? annually?

    It’s completely unworkable.

  15. I’ve already done this. I have fired JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Capital One, and AIG. I have refinaced all credit facilities previously at these institutions with other smaller local, regional, or credit union institutions. I’ve dispensed with any credit cards from these institutions. I’ll never use any of these too big to fail institutions again, ever, for any reason. Nor, do I eat endangered species, purchase Ivory, or buy blood diamonds. This should be a no-brainer for anyone with a social conscience.

  16. I agree with Simon Johnson on most things, but I have to STRONGLY disagree with him here. We don’t need the WTO to stick it’s fat, ugly, do nothing nose into this. We have enough layers of bureaucracy now, thank you very much. Adding more layers of bureaucracy is not going to solve the problem (although I guess Simon’s days at IMF assured him otherwise).

    Let Mervyn King and his coequals of other countries do their damned jobs.

  17. If it takes the WTO to cajole the US into enforcing US law and break up these trusts, because the US.gov is not doing it on their own initiative, then that’s a short term trade that’s worth the trouble.

    The end justifies the means at this point. Reevaluate when weapons are drawn…

  18. Agreed. All of the talk about granting break up authority is a red herring-the break up authority already exists-and has for over 10 years-following the S+L crisis-it’s called PROMPT CORRECTIVE ACTION. We have been statutorily mandated to do this and put the too big to fail into receivorships, and we have illegally refused to follow the mandatory resolution mechanism which ALREADY EXISTS!

  19. International Banks:” The Rules of the Game” Favor Bailouts

    In the current financial crisis, many foreign banks would have incurred substantial losses if AIG and other U.S. financial institutions had defaulted on their derivative obligations. When AIG’s swaps – insurance-like contracts that backed soured collateralized-debt obligations were about to go belly-up, the New York Fed, led by Timothy Geithner, instructed AIG to pay the obligations in full, according to Bloomberg http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=a7T5HaOgYHpE

    The international banks – New York-based Goldman Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., Paris-based Societe Generale and Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank AG. were made whole ,avoiding substantial losses.
    It is likely there were many reasons for the Fed’s actions, including an apparent code of conduct with respect to such cross border losses. The U.K. Chairman of the Financial Services Authority comments:” the existing implicit ‘rules of the game’ of fiscal support, in which home country governments have generally assumed responsibility for the rescue through recapitalisation of entire banking groups. “ http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pubs/discussion/dp09_04.pdf

    Given the political sensitivity of such an implied contract, at least here in the U.S., we could conclude that the allowed failure of Lehman Bros was the “sacrificial lamb” that allowed most other banks to be bailed out with taxpayer money. Such an implied contract also strengthens the hand of international banks as “too big to fail”.

  20. Just to provide background:

    “Bob” brought up the point of ammending the FSA of the WTO here.

    https://baselinescenario.com/2009/06/22/what-next-for-the-global-crisis/#comment-18475

    and cited this document (a good read):

    http://www.citizen.org/documents/UNSummitRelease062209.pdf

    In terms of how TBTF constitutes an implicit trade subsidy, I’ve made the argument here in a bit more detail:

    https://baselinescenario.com/2009/10/13/diana-farrell-and-the-white-house-theory-of-bank-size/#comment-30391

    I would strongly suggest anyone interested in the role of international trade policy/treaty on financial services regulation read the Public Citizen piece cited by Bob…

    I am intensely curious about SJ’s views on the Public Citizen piece – notably, the alleged importance of the Doha Round (2001) in facilitating the crisis we now have.

  21. Funny statement coming from Ackermann.

    For the sake of completeness, I’ll paste this link that reports a speech that Ackermann has given at a convention called “Money, Spirit and Magic in Goethe’s Faust II”.

    (Goethe is a classic in German literature like Shakespeare is in English literature; 90% of the Germans who think they’re educated claim they’re related to Goethe. “Faust” is his best known work; it’s a well crafted poem and has been shown as a play many times.)

    http://www.faz.net/s/RubB8DFB31915A443D98590B0D538FC0BEC/Doc~ECA71AEB8578E4CAB99C6EB1827675D5E~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html

    So in the first paragraph it says:

    “18 June 2009. The CEO of the Deutsche Bank, Josef Ackermann, warned that the big banks of the world are forming an oligopoly. This not only endangers free market competition, but also creates systemic risks. “After the crisis there will be only few banks which cut up the global cake, which will create the danger of oligopolistic structures.” Those are dangerous if they collapse, says Ackermann.

    (…)

    Ackermann poses the question about the banking system: “How can one reduce the size of a bank so it can go out of business without endangering the banking system?” (…) ”

    I suppose Ackermann’s role model here was Konrad Adenauer, first West German chancellor after World War II from 1949-1963, who said (loosely translated): “What the hell do I care about the bullshit I talked yesterday?” – (“Was geht mich mein Geschwätz von gestern an?”)

  22. How did ‘populism’ come to be a pejorative term when ‘democracy’ is considered the ne plus ultra of political systems? Populism is defined as ‘belief in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people’. Democracy is defined as ‘a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly’ , ‘the common people, especially when constituting the source of political authority’ and ‘the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges’. It would seem that populism is a necessary prerequisite for democracy. If common people are not wise and virtuous and if they have no rights, then there is no need nor would it be desirable to establish a democracy. Why vest supreme power in those who have no rights? Why designate foolish, evil people the source of political authority? To attack populism is to attack democracy itself.

    ‘Populist’ is clearly a pejorative term, a rock to hurl at people who represent an opinion supported by the population at large, when that opinion is antithetical to the goals of the hurler. Occasionally, an idea needs to be defended as desirable in spite of the fact that it has wide support. Such defenses are couched in terms such as ‘I’m no populist, but…’ .

    Inherent in the way the term is used is the notion that the population at large is incapable of formulating an appropriate view of the issue at hand. How anti-democratic is that? The fundamental notion of democracy is that common people are capable, and that it is appropriate to vest power in them because they are capable and because it is morally responsible to do so. The pejorative use of ‘populist’ directly contradicts that fundamental notion.

    The pejorative use of the term betrays the true attitude of those who use it in that way. Common people are not capable. There are an elite few who are. While the elite may be required at times to humor the masses, the elite are not expected to and should not take into account their views. One form such humoring takes is quadrennial public relations events where corporate sponsored candidates campaign for votes from the masses. Once elected, the masses and their opinions need not be considered, unless their votes are required again in a subsequent public relations event. That the views of the masses are irrelevant is clear, though not often candidly stated. In the fall of 2008 there was an unprecedented outpouring of opposition to the Paulson plan to prop up the financial system after Lehman Brothers collapsed. It passed. Fifty nine percent of respondents in a public opinion poll support single payer health insurance. It is not discussed. A majority of Americans opposed the invasion of Iraq and oppose our continued presence there. We invaded. We remain.

    The conduct of the public relations events themselves indicate the level of participation required of the masses and by extension, their perceived level of competence. Substantive issues are rarely discussed, as if doing so would tax the mental capacities of the people. They are instead given information of a kind suitable for deciding which candidate we would prefer to have a beer with.

    We can always find fault with the wisdom of the masses. For me, something like the Paulson plan was a necessary evil. Having endured it, we need to reform banking so that we need not repeat it (this is another widely supported idea that is going nowhere fast). So in that specific case, I don’t think the population at large reached the right conclusion. On the other hand, perhaps if we had a true democracy, the reforms of the New Deal would not have been dismantled, and we wouldn’t have had the crisis at all. And it was the all knowing elite who engineered the structured finance products that created the crises.

    But, if we are going to use the perceived faults of the opinions of the masses to invalidate the basic premise of democracy, then let’s drop the pretense, stop calling ourselves a democracy and start extolling the virtues of the opposite of ‘populism’. ‘Plutocracy’ and ‘elitism’ anyone?

  23. Populism became a perjorative term when the conservative movement highjacked it and turned it into meaning anti-government rather than pro-people. Government makes mistakes and is often inept, but at its heart its the mission to serve the people.

    Prior populist movements had a broader scope and realized that there are many forces out there that act against the interest of the people. Government has often been coopted by such forces. A true populist movement would demand good, truly democratic government, but it would also identify forces and trends that work against their interest. Forces like banks that are too big to fail.

  24. My latest view of President Obama and his new regime is that he has equipped his administration with Geithner and Summers, who represent the opposition when it comes to real reform, especially with respect to the TBTF financial institutions. He is now like a minnow swimming against sharks.

    Why is it, Simon, that, although several of the most renowned economists (including, oddly, Alan Greenspan himself) are in essential agreement with you, and yet, their views don’t seem to be penetrating the ear drums of Congress, the Fed, or Treasury. I agree that public opinion is beginning to turn, and, if it continues in the current trend, this fact could make for a very interesting mid term election next year. The real issue remains: campaign finance reform.

  25. “In any reasonable judicial-type process, involving relatively transparent weighing of the evidence, Mr. Ackermann would be most unlikely to prevail.”

    I guess in a judicial-type proceeding we expect the people in charge to keep equal distance from both parties. On the other hand, Mr. Obama’s regulatory policy is shaped by people like Larry Summers who earned millions of dollars on Wall Street. Is it realistic to expect these people to weigh the evidence in an unbiased way?

  26. Simon, once again you make a good banking reform suggestion coupled with a bad WTO-related strategy.

    In fact, the WTO does have rules on financial services, they do require financial deregulation, and specifically, they make it more difficult – not easier – to solve the too big to fail problem.

    To wit: the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services Article XVI(2):

    “In sectors where market-access commitments are undertaken, the measures which a Member shall not maintain or adopt either on the basis of a regional subdivision or on the basis of its entire territory, unless otherwise specified in its Schedule, are defined as:

    (a) limitations on the number of service suppliers whether in the form of numerical quotas, monopolies, exclusive service suppliers or the requirements of an economic needs test;

    (b) limitations on the total value of service transactions or assets in the form of numerical quotas or the requirement of an economic needs test;

    (c) limitations on the total number of service operations or on the total quantity of service output expressed in terms of designated numerical units in the form of quotas or the requirement of an economic needs test;(9)

    (d) limitations on the total number of natural persons that may be employed in a particular service sector or that a service supplier may employ and who are necessary for, and directly related to, the supply of a specific service in the form of numerical quotas or the requirement of an economic needs test;

    (e) measures which restrict or require specific types of legal entity or joint venture through which a service supplier may supply a service;…”

    Financial services is a sector that countries can commit under the GATS, and over 100 countries did so for this market access obligation – including the US and EU. You can see what deregulators would like this provision:

    1. It prohibits even non-discriminatory size caps (i.e. it’s deregulation, not just liberalization);
    2. It limits the ability of countries to specify that investment services can’t be provided by a commercial bank, or make other requirements that certain services have to be provided by non-profits;
    3. It contemplates five different ways that governments might try to limit size, and prohibits all of them – even at the subfederal level of government.
    4. Then, there are other GATS-related rules, like GATS Article VI and the Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services that pose additional deregulation obligations on nondiscriminatory policies.

    Even without these specific rules, the WTO dispute settlement system’s 15 year track record of ruling against over 90 percent of challenged public interest laws should give pause to any reformer looking to utilize it to serve the public interest. It’s interest is in maximizing trade flows, not preserving sound regulation.

    More here: http://citizen.typepad.com/eyesontrade/2009/11/how-not-to-deal-with-too-big-to-fail.html

  27. nvestment Bankers: The New Entitlement Group
     
    They earn record bonuses and profits. They create financial crisis with their high leverage ,high risk investments. Their profits are powered by near free government money, and the explicit and implicit guarantees of government support.

     Investment banks have almost all the cycles of a highly profitable business. IPO’s are hot in the up phase of a business cycle. Trading is profitable in up or down cycles as traders go long or short securities. Financial crisis are periods of opportunity: governments need to sell bonds to cover deficits; toxic assets created by complex securities eventually have to be sold, and who is better equipped to spot undervalued securities than the very same bankers who designed the securities. Mergers thrive from recessions as battered  firms are reorganized or sold. 

    Investment bankers believe they are entitled to easy Federal Reserve money, implicit and explicit government guarantees, freedom to produce financial products of “mass destruction” without commensurate capital, leverage , or regulatory restrictions.
    With a “straight face“ they will tell you this is good policy.

  28. Chinese walls? I thought those were the things thrown up within organizations so that the analysts and bankers could pretend not to have the same inside information?

    The essence of a bank is that it takes deposits which the Go’mint insures. Why is such an organization empowered to do derivative deals? Because the ISDA trots out its spokesman who talks about the virtues of vanilla interest rate swaps which have not been important (or perhaps even done?) since 1982. Then all the Congressmen nod and Phil Gramm rams through either his wife (1991) or a bill (1999) to prevent anything being done about them. As for AIG, there is some evidence that its credit swaps were nullified by side letters (the old reinsurance scam). The claim is that those banks buying protection were doing it for capital reasons and knew they had no right to collect. Was this the reason Paulson demanded his blank check last September: there was no other way to save Goldman? Had GS outsmarted itself buying protection from guys who didn’t know they were actually selling it? Doesn’t anybody else wonder why AIG was so important given that its insurance subsidiaries were unaffected by its CDS exposure? Why if the world was really on the brink of total meltdown was roughly two trillion enough to save it? Chances are pretty good the entire crisis has been a disaster capitalism scam of the kind normally run in Argentina or Mexico.

    The reason we need smaller banks is that we cannot trust larger banks. The reason we need to curb OTC derivatives is that nobody can trust the financial condition of anybody else. Unfortunately, nothing will be done until the next disaster, if then. The banksters got clean away with this one. We still have the same Senators and Congressmen and the same stock market and the same critics saying the same things on deaf ears.

  29. Modern, sophisticated and prosperous? Well, I suppose two out of three isn’t bad, but I thought we had modern and sophisticated in order to get prosperous? Or maybe Josef’s idea of prosperous is that he gets ten years of bonuses and we get a sudden black hole?

    Incidentally, I noticed this morning that Carly Fiorina intends to grab a Senate seat in California. Does anybody remember Carly: Lucent, ATT, HWP? There is a lady who can engineer black holes. But, at least if she wins there will be another Senator who understands what a derivative is and how to sell one.

  30. Democracy is not what we have here in America. We have a Republic which features an upper chamber (Senate) with the power to defeat measures dredged up from the population. The last Democratic President was Andrew Jackson. He wasn’t fond of large banks. We have had a few Democrat Presidents, three of whom led us into wars we could have easily avoided, three of whom were simple opportunits, and one who had no idea what he was doing and still doesn’t. Democracy is what our military offers at ruinous expense in places like Vietnam, the Middle East, who knows where next? Actually, the nearest thing to democracy is what they have in Israel of all places. They did have one in Athens 2500 years ago.

  31. I’ll always remember her for saying Palin was qualified to be president but not CEO of a corporation, “but she’s not running for CEO”.

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