6 Months, 8 Days, still sober.
I picked up Bob and his Cambodian girl friend from the airport on Wednesday evening, and they will be staying with Noo and me for the next week or so. This will inevitably further restrict my carousing activities, which is no bad thing. I am beginning to think that I might be on my way to ‘weaning’ myself off the hookers. I think that there is little doubt that do have a sort of addiction, and the longer I stay away from the bars and haunts where they ‘trade their wares’, the easier it becomes to continue in this mode.
I think that this will be the next important step in my rehabilitation – from being an out of control, drunken whore-monger, to becoming a normal, sober person living a meaningful and fulfilling life. Although I neither expect, nor frankly desire, to remain 100% chaste in my future life, a much greater degree of self-control over my sex addiction is desirable, even necessary, if I am to succeed in this endeavour.
I read something the other day which was a very good piece of advice to me, and maybe to some of you, out there in Blogland. It went something like this:
If you wait for your mood to lift before trying to do anything worthwhile, you’re never going to feel better; whereas if you go ahead and do something, regardless of your mood, you will feel a lot better about things. It teaches you to put together a routine and then to stick with it, regardless of how crappy you may be feeling. It also helps you look at your life and work out what you value the most, so that you can put your efforts into those areas, thus helping you to live a more fulfilling life.
To all those for whom procrastination is a daily problem, this is sage advice indeed.
The News of the World…
… is no more, following the revelations that people under their employ had hacked into the phones of murder victims, the families of murder victims, and so on. The whole world seems to be completely shock at this sudden closure, yet I can’t understand their apparent surprise as for me, it was utterly predictable.
Sure, it is a cynical business move; an effort to somehow deflect all the flack and pick up the pieces as best as they are able under a new title – but what else could they have done? If I was Murdoch, I would have done exactly the same. If some staff in one of your newspapers had committed such horrific and deplorable acts, you have no choice but to close it and fire all those involved in these unspeakable acts. But a vast majority of the staff had no part in this so why should they also suffer? Murdoch is the business of publishing newspapers, amongst other things so, short of him making a decision to cease all involvement in the newspaper business, then he has taken the only viable business course. Whether the new publication will be taken to the public’s hearts and prosper; only time will tell.
When the story first broke, a couple of day back, I was completely disgusted by the amount of prominent air time given to the likes of Hugh Grant, who ranted and raved for at least 5 minutes on prime time BBC world news, telling us all how despicable the News of the World and the entire News Corporation was, and how culpable the government is and that there should be immediate public enquiries.
Now don’t get me wrong, Hugh Grant has the same rights as anyone else to express his views and it is not as though I disagree with his sentiments. But to put a bloody lightweight ‘B’ list, film actor, whose main claim to fame has been to commit lewd acts in a public place, as some sort of respected spokesman in matters of morality and ethics, is to me just plainly ludicrous. It demonstrates to me yet again that the BBC has totally lost the plot and that they pander purely to the baser instincts of public opinion. They are no better than Fox News, in Mobi’s humble opinion.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the following morning I heard that much prominence had been given in the daily newspapers to a twitter by the estimable Boy George, in which he launched a vitriolic attack on a journalist for trying to explain News Corporation’s side of the story.
Boy George, folks; that ageing, has-been, travesty of a transvestite singer, who recently enjoyed a longish spell in her majesty’s gaol for kidnapping and detaining a ‘rent boy’ against his will.
If these are the kind of people that the TV and press media go to for opinions on a major story of public concern, then God help us all. I guess we get the media we deserve.
Obama Twitters on the US House Market.
America’s ‘The Annointed One’ twittered on Twitter the other day. Along with some other pearls of wisdom, he wrote the following:
“I think people may not have been prepared for how long this, [the recession], was going to take and why we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions and choices”
“And I take responsibility for that because, you know, setting people’s expectations is part of how you end up being able to respond well.”
“I think that the continuing decline in the housing market is something that hasn’t bottomed out as quickly as we expected, and so that’s continued to be a big drag on the economy“.
So just how bad is it?
New York’s attorney general is digging into the accumulating evidence of massive fraud and false documentation revealed by the foreclosure mess and asks a potentially explosive question: How bad is it?
The answer could prove devastating for some of the largest financial institutions in the land, confronting them with huge new losses and maybe renewing the banking crisis the Obama administration thought it had resolved. Perhaps that’s why law-enforcement agencies, state and federal, have not undertaken a thorough investigation of the scandal—they’re afraid of what they might find.
In recent months, the New York Attorney General’s office has dispatched requests for records and information from seven of the biggest banks (Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank). One way or another, they were the leading players in the housing bubble, either by originating sub-prime mortgages of dubious quality or by packaging the mortgage-backed securities that turned into toxic assets for unwitting investors.
The AG has further requested information from four bond insurers that backed the investment paper, a Buffalo law firm known as a mortgage mill and two private equity firms that owned processing firms in the mortgage market.
Most important, however, is his request to see files from the two leading banks—Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon—that acted as trustees for the mortgage securities, certifying that all complied with property-law requirements and provided the proper documentation.
Around the country, lawyers for home owners have won scores of cases blocking banks from foreclosing on their clients. Courts have determined that mortgages or securities were fatally flawed and therefore void. Banks filed false affidavits and unsupported documents, in effect, defrauding the courts.
When judges asked for backup evidence of ownership, lawyers went to the trustees and found that the mortgages and liens were not in the files. Bankers couldn’t prove they owned the homes they were seizing. Often they couldn’t even establish who owned the loans or whether borrowers were actually in default. Many documents were signed by untrained functionaries who didn’t bother to examine what they were signing.
Officials in Washington at first downplayed the implications, suggesting that bureaucratic sloppiness by the banks was not a reason to intervene in the foreclosure process. But the essence of this scandal goes to the heart of capitalism—the American system of property law. The most prestigious financial firms abused and distorted that system in their rush to accumulate greater profit, with less responsibility for the results.
A Congressional’ Oversight Panel’ investigated the mess last year and their spokesperson stated: “Here’s why all this is so dangerous; property law requires very precise documentation at every step in the process, because the whole economy comes apart if you can’t be certain who owns what. When you buy a house, the bank insists you comply with the property-law regime, and you sign pages and pages of agreements to do so. And you can lose your home if you fail to comply. Yet in this situation the banks did not comply themselves—that’s what’s mind-boggling.”
Civil lawsuits by injured investors and creditors have already piled up approximately $200 billion in claims against leading banks, cases that are working their way through the courts. Some $47 billion in claims are lodged against Bank of America alone—more than its total capital. Despite the return of fat executive bonuses, the balance sheets of banking behemoths remain fragile. In the extreme case, a deeper investigation may establish criminal liability for executives if they knowingly consented to deceiving investors, borrowers, bankruptcy courts or regulators.
As facts about the banks’ grubby behaviour gathered headlines, fifty state Attorneys General came together to demand reforms. The effort was chaired by Democrat Tom Miller of Iowa and actively coached by Washington officials from the Justice Department and HUD.
The Obama administration is eager to get a settlement, fearing that state-by-state litigation will injure the banks and maybe derail the foreclosure process.
Government interventions have generally tried to shield banks and other creditors from swallowing the cost of their financial follies, presumably because officials think that would damage the economy.
The banker-friendly logic has not been confirmed by events. Housing prices are still falling, and more and more families are sinking under water. The housing sector, long the backbone of the national economy, remains moribund. Banks are healing but are still not lending.
Banks have naturally resisted any compromise settlement with home-owners which would clearly cost them much more than anything previously discussed; so has Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner. If the federal government tries to force state governments into accepting a cheap settlement, that still doesn’t relieve the banking industry of costly legal threats.
Failure by the US government to moderate the suffering and steer the economy toward a gentler recovery, will sooner or later result in the markets solving things for themselves, perhaps violently and irrationally. If that happens, the next crisis will not be about debt and deficits but about the gradual unravelling of the entire financial system.
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot…