Wolf Richter

All Heck Breaks Loose on CNBC, TARP Gets Sanctified, Bank Bailouts Get Whitewashed, And The Fed Escapes Scot-Free

It must have been a nightmare for Neil Barofsky, former Inspector General overseeing TARP during the financial crisis. He was on CNBC this morning to hawk his new book, when all heck broke loose. An argument about TARP, the most despised law in the US … how it prevented the collapse of Wall Street or something. But they failed to mention that by the time TARP was handing out money, it had already become irrelevant. A much greater power had taken control.

Euro Optimism Surges, A Greek Tax Revolt Flares Up: It’s Decision Time, Again

Euro optimism is once again gushing through the system on the hope that the debt crisis could be wished away with a nod by German Chancellor Angela Merkel or with a wink by the Bundesbank at the European Central Bank, which is dying to print unlimited amounts of moolah to buy sovereign bonds—and old bicycles, if it has to—in order to force yields down for debt-sinner countries like the US Spain and Italy. But in Greece there has been an incident.

Natural Gas Is Pushing Coal Over The Cliff

Natural gas may be the most mispriced commodity these days. Its price has been below the cost of production for so long that the industry is suffering serious consequences with billions in losses—dollied up as “non-cash accounting charges.” Leveraged players are trying to keep their chin above water by selling assets. And drilling activity is collapsing. But demand for natural gas by power producers has been booming—and it’s killing coal one powerplant at a time.

Windows 7 & Internet Explorer: Privacy Settings and Cleanup

Here are some easy tricks that I found to be very helpful in maintaining at least some sort of privacy and security for life on the internet (Note: This is in addition to keeping Windows, anti-virus software, Java, Flashplayer, etc. updated).   Smartphones: If you use a smartphone (and a lot of apps) for everything…

A Cacophony Of Discord, Default, And Visions Of Impossibility

The Eurozone wasn’t supposed to be a house of cards. And as long as there was “confidence” that it would work, it worked: the financial markets offered cheap no-questions-asked loans to the most profligate governments that sucked up phenomenal amounts of money. But all that remains from this drunken frenzy are mountains of decomposing debt. Now taboos are violated, sacred cows are slaughtered, and the euro has been tossed on the chopping block.

Nuclear Radiation On San Francisco’s Treasure Island: We Don’t Need To Know, Apparently

“That amount of radium found to date cannot be explained by gauges, deck markers, and decontamination activities,” wrote Stephen Woods, an environmental cleanup manager at the California Department of Public Health, about Treasure Island, the rectilinear speck of land in the San Francisco Bay two-and-a-half miles of white caps from our kitchen window. It summed up decades of US Government efforts to bury nuclear sins under layers of ignorance.

The Greek Bailout Sham Is Getting Gummed Up

“Default is not necessarily destructive,” said Panayiotis Lafazanis, a Greek politician. “It is a weapon of the weak when they reach the point of not being able to pay their debts.” Closer to the truth than anything else emanating from Greek politics. “Not necessarily destructive” for the Greeks, but highly destructive for the European Central Bank that ended up with the Greek bonds; and for banks with derivative exposure to them. Hence the bailouts. To keep the bondholders afloat, not the Greeks—no one wants to recapitalize the ECB.

Natural Gas And The Brutal Dethroning of King Coal

It’s been tough for natural gas drillers. Prices crashed. Drilling activity collapsed. Producers are writing down their natural gas assets by the billions. And the bloodletting continues. On the other side, power generators have switched from coal to natural gas, pushing their consumption of it to new highs. A trend started two decades ago with a new technology and the usual suspect, Congress. A toxic brew for coal.

German Bailout Rebellion: “We Have Euro-Anarchy”

For German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her ilk, it’s going to be a steamy August and an even steamier September and October with political battles left and right, to be fought mano a mano, as the Eurozone debt crisis and the growing bailout rebellion in Germany are migrating from parliamentary discussions, closed-door meetings, and shaky EU summits—21 of them so far—to electoral politics. Voters may finally have a say. And it doesn’t look good for the euro.

The Political Euro Revolt Spreads To Austria: “Europe Can Only Function If Every Country Has Its Own Currency”

Germany and Austria may have their differences, and their love for each other may not always be palpable, but when it comes to money, they’re joined at the hip. And have been for decades. The peg of the Austrian schilling to the Deutsche mark that was put in place in the early 1970s survived even external shocks, for example when Italy devalued the lira on January 6, 1990, or again on September 14, 1992. Now the euro debate took on sharp tones in Austria. With a new theme: “Insolvency Procrastination.”