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Matt Taibbi: Another Hidden Bailout

Another Hidden Bailout: Helping Wall Street Collect Your Rent | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone
Here's yet another form of hidden bailout the federal government doles out to our big banks, without the public having much of a clue. This is from the WSJ this morning: Some of the biggest names on Wall Street are lining up to become landlords to cash-strapped Americans by bidding on pools of foreclosed properties being sold by Fannie Mae... While the current approach of selling homes one-by-one has its own high costs and is sometimes inefficient, selling properties in bulk to large investors could require Fannie Mae to sell at a big discount, leading to larger initial costs. In con artistry parlance, they call this the "reload." That's when you hit the same mark twice – typically with a second scam designed to "fix" the damage caused by the first scam. Someone robs your house, then comes by the next day and sells you a fancy alarm system, that's the reload. In this case, banks pumped up the real estate market by creating huge volumes of subprime loans, then dumped a lot of them on, among others, Fannie and Freddie, the ever-ready enthusiastic state customer. Now the loans have crashed in value, yet the GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises) are still out there feeding the banks money through two continuous bailouts. One, they continue to buy mortgages from the big banks (until recently, even from Bank of America, whom the GSEs were already suing for sales of toxic MBS), giving the banks a permanent market for home loans. And secondly, they conduct these quiet bulk sales of mortgages, in which huge packets of home loans are sold to banks at a "big discount." By now we've come full circle. Banks create the loans, make money selling them off on the market at high prices, then come back and buy them again when they're low. When the GSEs are in the middle of this transaction, it makes mortgage lending a basically risk-free proposition: Banks get paid for creating home loans and they end up owning valuable property on the cheap, but in between, they offshore the market risk to a government entity and/or to the idiot individual who bought the home mortgage in the first place.

Both Sides with J.P. Nickel

*Thanks, Dorian!*

Ads and GPS are killing your phone's battery

Free apps eat up your phone battery just sending ads - tech - 18 March 2012 - New Scientist
STRUGGLING to make your smartphone battery last the whole day? Paying for your apps might help. Up to 75 per cent of the energy used by free versions of Android apps is spent serving up ads or tracking and uploading user data: running just one app could drain your battery in around 90 minutes. Abhinav Pathak, a computer scientist at Purdue University, Indiana, and colleagues made the discovery after developing software to analyse apps' energy usage. When they looked at popular apps such as Angry Birds, Free Chess and NYTimes they found that only 10 to 30 per cent of the energy was spent powering the app's core function. For example, in Angry Birds only 20 per cent is used to display and run the game, while 45 per cent is spent finding and uploading the user's location with GPS then downloading location-appropriate ads over a 3G connection. The 3G connection stays open for around 10 seconds, even if data transmission is complete, and this "tail energy" consumes another 28 per cent of the app's energy.

March 18, 2012

NYPD celebrates 6 month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street by beating peaceful Americans senseless, breaking ribs

Meanwhile, Occupy Oakland held a giant barbecue and rally in Arroyo park. But c'mon, it's St. Pat's day! Don't these cops have anything better to do than to attack peaceful protesters? Aren't there like a million amateur drunks in NYC that need some attention? Scores Arrested as the Police Clear Zuccotti Park - NYTimes.com
After clearing the park, police officers and private security guards began placing a ring of metal barricades on the park’s perimeter, as those who had been arrested were placed inside a city bus. At one point, a woman who appeared to be suffering from seizures flopped on the ground in handcuffs as bystanders shouted for the police to remove the cuffs and provide medical attention. For several minutes the woman lay on the ground as onlookers made increasingly agonized demands. Eventually, an ambulance arrived and the woman was placed inside. By 12:20 a.m., a line of police officers pushed against some of the remaining protesters, forcing them south on Broadway, at times swinging batons and shoving people to the ground. Kobi Skolnick, 30, said that officers pushed him in several directions and that as he tried t0 walk away, he was struck from behind in the neck. “One of the police ran and hit me with a baton,” he said.