As for the big fish, they’re all walking away unscathed. The Securities and Exchange Commission got a $67.5 million settlement out of Angelo Mozilo, the former chief executive of Countrywide. (Mozilo paid only $22.5 million; the rest was picked up by Countrywide’s owner, Bank of America.) But prosecutors on the West Coast dropped their criminal investigation.
The Justice Department spent several years trying to build a case against Joe Cassano, the former head of A.I.G.’s Financial Products division. It gave up. Richard Fuld, the former chief executive of Lehman Brothers, approved a bookkeeping scam that hid billions of dollars of Lehman’s debt from investors. Recent reports suggest that not only will he not be charged with a crime, he isn’t even likely to face civil charges.
Executives at Lehman Brothersassured investors in the summer of 2008 that the company’s financial position was sound, even though they appeared to have counted as assets certain holdings pledged by Lehman to other companies, according to a person briefed on that case. AtBear Stearns, the first major Wall Street player to collapse, a private litigant says evidence shows that the firm’s executives may have pocketed revenues that should have gone to investors to offset losses when complex mortgage securities soured.
But the Justice Department has decided not to pursue some of these matters — including possible criminal casesagainst Mr. Mozilo of Countrywide and Joseph J. Cassano, head of Financial Products at A.I.G., the business at the epicenter of that company’s collapse. Mr. Cassano’s lawyerssaid that documents they had given to prosecutors refuted accusations that he had misled investors or the company’s board. Mr. Mozilo’s lawyers have said he denies any wrongdoing.
The earliest of these marketplaces, like Freecycle and CouchSurfing, encouraged the exchange of goods among peers for free. But the latest sharing platforms are anchored in commerce. They have the potential to amass a new ecosystem of entrepreneurs, just as eBay once aggregated fragmented buyers and sellers into a global online marketplace. Gartner Group researchers estimate that the peer-to-peer financial-lending market will reach $5 billion by 2013. Frost & Sullivan projects that car-sharing revenues in North America alone will hit $3.3 billion by 2016. And Botsman says the consumer peer-to-peer rental market will become a $26 billion sector, and believes the sharing economy, in toto, is a $110 billion-plus market. “Is this purely a warm-and-fuzzy kind of thing?” says Ann Miura-Ko, a venture capitalist at Floodgate Fund who, along with partner Mike Maples (an early backer of Twitter and Digg), has invested in three sharing businesses. “It’s not. As a venture capitalist, I’d never invest in something that’s purely warm and fuzzy.” In fact, in the past year, Google Ventures; Sequoia Capital; and Greylock Partners’ Reid Hoffman, the cofounder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, have all backed “sharing” ventures. (Actually, Silicon Valley’s preferred phrase is “underused asset utilization.” As Howard Hartenbaum, general partner at August Capital, explains, “It’s more obvious how you make money.”)
Because Jay Maisel, the photographer who bought it 42 years ago for $102,000, still lives there, with his wife, Linda Adam Maisel, and daughter, Amanda. It isn’t a decrepit ruin; 190 Bowery is a six-story, 72-room, 35,000-square-foot (depending on how you measure) single-family home.
In your focus on the financial crisis, why did you decide to really zero in on Goldman Sachs? After the 2008 presidential election we at Rolling Stone kind of collectively decided to do a story about the financial crisis. I did the first story, which was about the AIG bailout. When I was interviewing people for that story I noticed that every single person I talked to was like, “Those motherfuckers at Goldman Sachs…” and then, when I looked at it more broadly, it seemed like Goldman was a major player in something that had gone terribly wrong in every sphere of business that we were looking at. For instance, in the commodities business they were the first company to get these crazy exemptions that allowed speculators to act like consumers. The Internet stock bubble and mortgages—they were everywhere. So we decided doing a story on them would be good because it would allow us to kind of use one bank as a symbol for everything that had gone wrong on Wall Street. Plus, they have a sort of “we’re better than you” attitude that makes them a very attractive literary subject.
Eric Brunetti: They were taking photos of themselves in their fucking stupid outfits and pasting it everywhere, like, “Let’s put a bandanna over our face, take a picture, and start a fucking T-shirt line.”
Augie Galan (Acapulco Gold): We knew it was coming, it couldn’t go on like that forever. It’s funny, like in good times I felt uneasy. Me and Geoff [Acapulco Gold partner], we grew up relatively lower class, so we know when things are going good to feel uneasy. NY’s like the financial center of the world. You just got to look over the hill and be like, ‘Why are there 10 condos going up in a 3-block radius so fucking quickly? This is some real funny-money going around.’ We had a slight inkling that the bubble was going to burst so we never over-extended ourselves. We never bit off more than we could chew.
The zombie in question concerns dichloroacetate (DCA), which conspiracy theorists would have us believe is a cancer cure-all that’s being suppressed by the might of big pharma, which is upset that it’s not patent-eligible. It’s an odd conspiracy, since the Orphan Drug Act would probably allow the FDA to grant market exclusivity to whichever company conducted the relevant trials, but fist-waving about evil drug companies makes for much better copy.
For a more thorough debunking of the DCA zombie, PZ Myers and Orac have both got you covered. In short, there have been promising animal results, but no clinical trials have been completed at this point. Why the DCA story continues to come back from the dead, we’re not sure. The article claims a 2011 date for the press release it regurgitates, but it also links to the researcher’s website where an identical press release seems to have been published almost exactly a year ago.
"These sales are no longer auctions," says Allan Schwartzman, an art advisor. "To attract material at the top end, auction houses pre-sell the material to ‘irrevocable bidders’. They are deliberate, orchestrated events." These deals spare the work the ignominy of being "bought in", but create misleading benchmark prices that tend to flout ordinary rules of supply and demand. Guarantees can help auction houses by securing an important artwork around which an entire sale can be promoted. They may also appeal to a collector’s gambling instincts. If he chooses to be the guarantor, he can either win the work or win a financing fee or both. Whatever the case, when the work sells on one bid, a guaranteed lot is effectively a private sale done in public.
The money spent on these programs was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon. But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.
Some Egyptian youth leaders attended a 2008 technology meeting in New York, where they were taught to use social networking and mobile technologies to promote democracy. Among those sponsoring the meeting were Facebook, Google, MTV, Columbia Law School and the State Department.
A market capitalisation-weighted index gives larger weightings to more expensive companies (valued relative to their earnings/assets) and smaller weightings to cheaper companies. As companies become more expensive with higher price/earnings and price/book ratios, they gain higher weightings in the index and consequently index funds have to increase their holdings, selling their holdings of cheaper companies in order to do so. An index fund is therefore an automatic mechanism to buy high and sell low. I don’t recall this tactic ever being previously given as good investment advice.
Legends Hospitality, the concessionaire co-owned by the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, and Goldman Sachs, allegedly pockets the 20 percent service fee attached to food and drink in violation of New York law, according to a class-action lawsuit filed against the company by three Yankee Stadium servers this week. If certified as class action, the suit could involve more than a hundred servers and hundreds of thousands of dollars in claims.
If you wanted to know what Americans were thinking and feeling, what better gauge could there be than the groups, composed to a great extent of students, that assembled at parks and monuments around the country, including Ground Zero? But the scenes of collegians waving the flag and shouting “U-S-A!” were problematic in their simplistic catchiness; they had something in common with the scenes (like the one below from the Associated Press) of young Muslims on the other side of the world burning our flag and shouting “Death to America!”
A shopkeeper in Italy placed an order with a Chinese sneaker factory in Putian for 3,000 pairs of white Nike Tiempo indoor soccer shoes. It was early February, and the shopkeeper wanted the Tiempos pronto. Neither he nor Lin, the factory manager, were authorized to make Nikes. They would have no blueprints or instructions to follow. But Lin didn’t mind. He was used to working from scratch. A week later, Lin, who asked that I only use his first name, received a pair of authentic Tiempos, took them apart, studied their stitching and molding, drew up his own design and oversaw the production of 3,000 Nike clones. A month later, he shipped the shoes to Italy. “He’ll order more when there’s none left,” Lin told me recently, with confiden
Cornell Hood II is only 35 and he’s never been convicted of a violent crime. Still, last Thursday a Louisiana judge sentenced Hood to life in prison after his fourth marijuana conviction. In February a jury found Hood guilty of having two pounds of pot in his house during a 2010 police search, when Hood was already on probation for three other marijuana violations. Hood’s fourth conviction should have carried a sentence of no more than 15 years, but under Louisiana’s repeat-offender law, nonviolent drug offenders are subject to life imprisonment if convicted three or more times of a crime that carries a sentence exceeding 10 years. Now Hood, who has a young son and had been applying for student loans to go to college, is going to jail forever.
Love and Fear
There are only two feelings, Love and fear: There are only two languages, Love and fear: There are only two activities, Love and fear: There are only two motives, two procedures, two frameworks, two results, Love and fear, Love and fear.
The history of the exchange’s index provides a standard case example of large errors arising from seemingly innocuous floating point calculations. In January 1982 the index was initialized at 1000 and subsequently updated and truncated to three decimal places on each trade. This was done about 3000 times a day. The accumulated truncations led to an erroneous loss of around 25 points per month. Over the weekend of November 25-28 1983, the error was corrected, raising the value of the index from its Friday closing figure of 524.811 to 1098.892
The gathering included a discussion of how early computer pioneers used LSD for inspiration. Douglas Englebart, the inventor of the mouse, Myron Stolaroff, a former Ampex engineer and LSD researcher who was attending the symposium, and Apple-cofounder Steve Jobs were among them. In the 2005 book What the Dormouse Said, New York Times reporter John Markoff quotes Jobs describing his LSD experience as “one of the two or three most important things he has done in his life.”
Each four-by-four-foot production module doubles the electricity use of an average U.S. home and triples that of an average California home. The added electricity use is equivalent to running about 30 refrigerators. Processed Cannabis results in 3000-times its weight in emissions. For off-grid production, it requires 70 gallons of diesel fuel to produce one indoor Cannabis plant, or 140 gallons with smaller, less-efficient gasoline generators.
The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data.
Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession’s first 18 months — and that’s before overtime pay and bonuses are counted.
Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time — in pay and hiring — during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector.