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Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Darker Monday

As a home owner, my biggest fear would be to lose my flat. My second biggest fear would be to see its value drop. Middle class Americans unfortunately experienced both these dreadful situations this year. The economic crisis which was caused by the energy crisis, budget deficits, natural disasters among other things, caused a lot of companies to downsize. Not everyone found a job. Not paying the mortgage - with current legislation - for more than a few months gives the bank the right to forclose the house. Even if the owed value is a tiny fraction of the original loan. So many Americans this year not only lost their jobs, savings, in some cases spouses because of the upset, but also their homes. The one thing that they have been working their life to built was taken for them. Losing a home sends an unberable strike to the ex-owner.
In the midst of that crisis, banks and other financial institutions that gave loans saw an opportunity to make a quick buck. They foreclose the houses of the unlucky ones and flooded the market with low cost but high quality housing through auctions etc.
What this created was a bigger drop in house prices, stock price collapse of institutions that had loans/insurance tighed to mortgages and Wall Street's strongest quake since the Great Depression leading to $700bn losses in one day!

Unfortunately it is not over yet

Now, I can not help but think of the following points:
1. The banks and other financial institutions lay their bed so they should sleep in it. Had they not flooded the market with low cost housing this would not have happened.
2. Usually those who pay the dearest price are the ones with the least resources. Once again proven right. Unfortunately!
3. This clearly shows the need for a new type of legislation to be imposed on banks so that they can not forclose a house if someone shows inability to pay for a period of time that can be prolonged given circumstances. Banks can afford to wait. People should not have to live on the street.
4. Loans should not be that easy to give away. Having a social security ID should not be just enough!
5. I never really liked money markets. In my opinion they are largely a hot air bubble that is easy to manipulate.
6. Although I am a fan of a deregulated market, in a Smithonian laisser faire-laisser passer approach, there should be some frame that maintains a minimum level of contigency plan for people in need. Otherwise the social divide between the rich and the poor will increase and totally unregulated capitalist societies such as the US will end up being completely bi-polar. Some measures have been taken after the disaster but there should be some preventive mechanisms.

And of course I can not help but wonder:
When McCain and Palin say that the economy improved over the last 8 years and that they shall continue to work on the same successful recipe, which country's economy were they referring to?

About skin color

Will Smith is both good looking and a good actor/singer who also happens to sell. Ever since his early Prince of Bellair days. Since then, his career moved to the stratosphere and has enjoyed a lot of comic roles. They suit him well too. So when any hollywood producer would like to think of superhero who is really funny - not that preppy - he would seem a good choice.
What I don't get is why in the Hanckock poster, and in all the official photos, his skin has changed color. One of the two key reasons why Mr. Smith is that goodlooking is his genes. The other is the hours exercising - and moisturising no doubt. Why would the marketers deny him (and us) the most significant characteristic of his beauty - and of course personal identity? Why would they have turned him white? Sure his skin is not as dark as perhaps a Kenyan but on his poster that has filled the streets of Athens - and I am sure many more capitals around the globe - he looks white. I am not mistaken, there is a lot of pink in that photo. Not swedish, but white. I know a lot of white people that are darker than how he appears on that poster.
Even if my life depended on that, I could not have recognized him. I had to see his name written on the poster. Why did they have to do that? Incomprehensible. Does it matter if a superhero is of African origin? And why would he approve that to be the official poster? Money I would assume (to be honnest, I would change my skin color too on a poster for a fraction of what Mr Smith pocketed). Why, however, has not anybody raised hell about it? Isn't there any organization protecting the rights of African Americans? There are organizations protecting the rights of every possible inerest, why isn't there anyone to tell these guys off? How can they get away with tihs??
If for the success of a hollywood blockbuster the hero needs to change his skin color, can you imagine what political marketers might ask from Barack the remaining few weeks?

Pugs are the superior creatures in any planet

Don't you wish you were hot like Frankie (the Pug)???
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Pugs talk!