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Daily Digest - Dec 5

Friday, December 5, 2008, 8:18 AM

Record number of Americans on food stamps, big three spend millions on lobbying, Bush's new digs, and charts of auto sales, same store sales, and weekly unemployment claims.

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Your must-read article of the day (Vanity Fair)

Thursday, December 4, 2008, 11:55 PM

Over the past two days I have been working with Erik and Becca on developing the next layer of strategy and direction for the site, the Crash Course, and where all of this is going. 

We'll share this with everyone as soon as it is ready.

In the meantime, this is the intro to a long but brilliant article on the economic/financial crisis, by Niall Ferguson in Vanity Fair. This is a must read article.

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Daily Digest - Dec 4

Thursday, December 4, 2008, 7:25 AM

Who holds US debt?, Lacker says Fed actions potentially destabilizing, UN warns of dollar risk, Paulson still doesn't get housing, mortgage refinancing surges, US-China currency clash, and the Beige Book.

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DVD Ordering Update

Wednesday, December 3, 2008, 8:12 PM

Third Update (12/3 5:30pm EST): This update is from Erik Townsend. I want to assure everyone that Christian Redshaw and I have been on top of this situation all day long, and are managing it very actively. We have escalated our frustration with the delays to a senior Vice President at the replication company, and are doing everything possible to work toward a prompt resolution to the unexpected delays.

There's some good news here: the delays are all related to putting the order form online. We're being told that the actual replication of DVDs is proceeding on schedule. That means that as soon as the order form is operational, the fulfillment center should be able to start shipping immediately. So while we are experiencing a delay of several days in making it possible to place your orders, the orders will still begin shipping when they otherwise would have, either Friday 12/5 or Monday 12/8.

We are acutely aware of the community's desire to receive these DVDs in time for holiday gift giving, and are working very hard to hold the vendor to their original promise to begin shipping DVDs no later than Dec. 8th and hopefully Dec. 5th. We are also preparing to send registered users an e-mail blast within minutes after the order form goes operational.

We will extend the introductory pricing deadline so that it is available for several days. Please don't be concerned by our earlier statements that the special price would expire Dec. 4th. We'll revisit that when the order form is online.

Thanks for your patience and understanding, everyone. The best I can do is to assure you that we are working on this diligently, and that we'll do the very best we can to get the word to you just as soon as the order form is available.


Second Update (12/3):  Well, we are still waiting for word from the manufacturer that they've got the ordering page configured.  We'll be calling them as soon as they get in (11-12 EST) and then we'll let you know.  The Torrent files will be put up at some point over the next 48 hours (they should be arriving by mail today and the upload time is ~10-12 hours).

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Update:  The website ordering system is in the hands of the supplier.  We are told that they are "hopeful" about getting it done today.  As of 5:00 pm (EST) we are still hoping.

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We are currently (patiently) waiting for the coupon code from the manufacturer.  Within 60 seconds of its receipt it will be posted here.

We expect it at any moment...as of this moment (1:15 pm EST) it is not yet in our hands...

Thank you for your patience and inquiries.

Best,
Chris & the team

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The beginning of the end

Wednesday, December 3, 2008, 9:33 AM

I am often asked what signs I use to measure where we are in the crisis and whether it will get worse or better.

This next article posits the emergence of a new type of bond sold by the US that is not denominated in US dollars. This would be the equivalent of a road sign reading, “No bridge, 10 feet.”

Here’s the idea:

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Daily Digest - Dec 3

Wednesday, December 3, 2008, 8:17 AM

Mortgage delinquency set to double, feds to expand rescue, Chicago cuts back on snow plowing to save money, Governors may seek $100 billion, Monetizing debt, Manhattan awash in office space, and an alternative wind turbine design.

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Looting America: Treasury Secretary Paulson Threatened Senators with Martial Law

Tuesday, December 2, 2008, 9:04 AM

Some people think of Hank Paulson as our Treasury Secretary.  I think of him as a 19 year veteran of Wall Street banking.

At every turn of this entire bailout he has specifically advantaged banks over taxpayers, banks over industry, banks over homeowners, and banks over the future health and prosperity of this country.

Is this surprising for a banking veteran?  No, not really.

But the tactics he used certainly are.  Consider this:

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Daily Digest - Dec 2

Tuesday, December 2, 2008, 7:38 AM

Loss of credit viewed as America's biggest threat, bailout lacks coherency, Bernanke says "not like 1930s", banker says "worst is yet to come", manufacturing goes from bad to worse, California declares a fiscal emergency, and quantitative easing = printing like mad.

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Bernanke - Still speaking as though to children

Monday, December 1, 2008, 3:45 PM

Bernanke's remarks today did little to soothe this ruffled observer.  His remarks struck me as practically dishonest in their inability to speak directly to our actual problems. 

Bernanke says Fed still has arrows in quiver
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The Federal Reserve has lowered interest rates just about as far as they can go, but the U.S. central bank still has plenty of available firepower it could deploy to restore financial markets to normal, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday.

I wish that we could just get some straight talk about our actual condition, instead of this weird insistence on "restoring our financial markets to normal."  This ignores the fact that they were completely abnormal.  Why would we want to return there? I guess it's this strange insistence on continually repeating the mantra that things can be "restored to normal" that's got me unsettled. 

The way I see it, there's no "normal" to return to.  Things were hopelessly out of whack before, and now they will settle into some new, different level of activity.  

George Soros refers to this same process in his Theory of Reflexivity, arguing that the mainstream economic insistence that there is some sort of magic equilibrium is utterly without merit.  Instead, markets reflect the interplay between human perceptions and reality.  So there's no such thing as "equilibrium."  Everything is constantly in flux.  

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Daily Digest - Dec 1

Monday, December 1, 2008, 8:49 AM

Credit card industry may cut $2 trillion of lines, Korelin economics report, Britain joining the Euro?,  Trump busted again, durable orders down, affordable electric car, and Beverly Hillbillies keep pumping.