Friday, October 17, 2008

all worked up for a date with the treadmill

the last two morning i have gone to my apt. community gym where they have a nice treadmill (among other nice equipment) and a big flat screen TV. it is great to be again connected with the world (i don't have cable at home) and to see what is going on in the world - thank you CNN. watching CNN on the treadmill reminds me of my DC gym days with Kelly (fond, fond memories) sweating it out on the hill before the staffers flocked to the gym. while watching these past mornings i have had ... how shall we say ... the serendipitous occasion to be watching when one (to remain nameless) choice vice-presidential candidate was speaking on the campaign trail.

all i will say is this - thanks for getting me worked up these past two mornings ... I burned a lot of calories while watching you speak. i even lost 1.6 pounds this week (no joke). so, if nothing else your speaches are good for my weight loss and to that i am eternally grateful.

On another note ... did you see how well OBAMA did on the debates Wednesday night? If not, check it out ... the first 20 minutes or so I should have been on the treadmill again, but Barack always calms me down - thanks!

Check it out. VOTE.

(don't worry - the link to the above left takes you to the Full Video of the last Presidential Debate ... uncut and unbaised ... not just the parts I like).

enough with the blame

i am kind of over the whole "pointing the finger" stuff that is going on about the collapse of the stock market and the ruining of our economy. Are we not ALL guilty? - granted, some more than others - but nonetheless almost ALL of the middle, upper, and higher classes of AMERICANS have been living beyond their means ... living on credit (hey the student loan holding graduate student writing this is guilty as well), buying more than we really need, spending money we don't have. That's how we got into this mess. Don't Believe me?? And why should you, I study historic architecture, not economics ... check out and see this:

The Real Deal

So who is to blame? There's plenty of blame to go around, and it doesn't fasten only on one party or even mainly on what Washington did or didn't do. As The Economist magazine noted recently, the problem is one of "layered irresponsibility ... with hard-working homeowners and billionaire villains each playing a role." Here's a partial list of those alleged to be at fault:
  • The Federal Reserve, which slashed interest rates after the dot-com bubble burst, making credit cheap.

  • Home buyers, who took advantage of easy credit to bid up the prices of homes excessively.

  • Congress, which continues to support a mortgage tax deduction that gives consumers a tax incentive to buy more expensive houses.

  • Real estate agents, most of whom work for the sellers rather than the buyers and who earned higher commissions from selling more expensive homes.

  • The Clinton administration, which pushed for less stringent credit and downpayment requirements for working- and middle-class families.

  • Mortgage brokers, who offered less-credit-worthy home buyers subprime, adjustable rate loans with low initial payments, but exploding interest rates.

  • Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who in 2004, near the peak of the housing bubble, encouraged Americans to take out adjustable rate mortgages.

  • Wall Street firms, who paid too little attention to the quality of the risky loans that they bundled into Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), and issued bonds using those securities as collateral.

  • The Bush administration, which failed to provide needed government oversight of the increasingly dicey mortgage-backed securities market.

  • An obscure accounting rule called mark-to-market, which can have the paradoxical result of making assets be worth less on paper than they are in reality during times of panic.

  • Collective delusion, or a belief on the part of all parties that home prices would keep rising forever, no matter how high or how fast they had already gone up.
The U.S. economy is enormously complicated. Screwing it up takes a great deal of cooperation. Claiming that a single piece of legislation was responsible for (or could have averted) the crisis is just political grandstanding. We have no advice to offer on how best to solve the financial crisis. But these sorts of partisan caricatures can only make the task more difficult.

–by Joe Miller and Brooks Jackson