Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Economy

We grasp at straws to mine some good economic news these days. Today we learn that “The number of banks on the government’s list of institutions most at risk for failure fell in the second quarter, the first drop since before the financial crisis began.” www.nytimes.com/2011/08/24/business/first You can’t walk ten feet without hearing someone complaining about the economy, with blame spread around fairly equally between the President, Congress, Bernanke, Geitner, big banks and just about anyone else within our sights. People speak about “fixing the economy” as if it was a ship that needs to be steered through treacherous waters. The economy is not a ship, it is the ocean itself, with thousands of currents constantly changing and constantly pushing and pulling. We just keep grasping at snippets of good news like they were life savers trying to keep afloat until the waters calm.

By Sam DelPresto

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We Need a Break!

Major news stories this year have gone by with the speed of semis on a pre-dawn thruway. The debt ceiling debates, the dust storms in the west, tornadoes in the south and mid-west, the near default of Greece, the end of NASA’s shuttle program, the killing of Bin Laden and famines and droughts both here and in Africa are all stories less than a month old. The tsunami, earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan seems like ancient history, though barely three months gone. www.abcnews.go.com/ It gets a bit overwhelming sometimes. Thank God there is sports to occasionally take our minds off the relentless talk of financial and natural disasters….or thank God there may be sports to take our minds off the news for a few minutes if both sides of two of the three major US sports can settle their differences.

By Sam DelPresto

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Big Banks

The outrage over the behavior of the big banks leading up to and following the “Great Recession” is amusing, at least to those with at least a modest background in the history of finance. Beginning with the Rothschild’s stranglehold on European history in the 19th century to JP Morgan financing the Second World War, history is much more clearly understood when looked at from the point of view of what the big bankers were doing. Nathan Rothschild’s famous “Give me control of a country’s financing and I could care less who governs” captures the spirit and the reality of the whole thing. It puts the scurrying around of senators and kings in a new perspective and makes almost laughable the attempts by governments for the past two hundred years (at least) to control them. As people call for new regulation, one is reminded of the famous New Yorker cartoon www.newyorker.com/ which shows two bankers sitting at a desk with the caption “These new regulations are going to fundamentally change the way we get around them.”

By Sam DelPresto

Friday, May 20, 2011

Oil Subsidies

Oil companies are presenting their case to congress that they need to maintain the current tax subsidies. "Given profits of $35 billion in just the first quarter alone, it's hard to find evidence that repealing these subsidies would cut domestic production or cause layoffs," Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the committee, argued against the oil companies claims. www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-oil-executives-tax-hearing- Congress is looking at cutting $2 billion a year, which would go towards paying down the deficit. That number represents less than two percent of the expected annual profits of the oil companies. I’m surprised the oilmen actually show up to plead their dubious case, and not only because it seems unlikely that Congress will agree on anything. Oil companies spent $145 million dollars and used 798 lobbyists last year to make certain their point of view was heard. There are 435 members of the House and 100 Senators. Do the math – that’s nearly two lobbyists and over a quarter of a million dollars for each and every person in the Legislative branch of government. What? Oilmen have to take time out of their busy schedules to parade in front of Congress? Haven’t they done enough already?

By Sam DelPresto

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oh No! Not the Parks

It is always fascinating to me which portion of a news story is reported in the network coverage. With the threat of a government shutdown imminent, NBC is reporting that “The looming shutdown of the federal government includes the National Parks Service, which could mean events commemorating the start of the Civil War with a Confederate attack on Fort Sumter may have to happen without the fort itself.” www.nbc-2.com/story/14400275/federal-shutdown. Is that really in the top one hundred eventualities that Americans should be concerned about if the government shuts down? The top five hundred? Oh, by the way, NBC (might as well) report, in the Route 95 seven car accident, with multiple fatalities, one of the victims lost their wallet. The 20th Century English writer, Rebecca West was apparently correct when she asserted, “Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space.”

By Sam DelPresto

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Oscar Wilde said “Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative”. Normally, I am inclined to agree. A “sure is hot/cold out there” (take your pick) makes the speaker seem, at worst, simple minded and, at best, like one prone to state the obvious. But as the 21st century roars forward, I might have to re-think my position. Floods, earthquakes, tsunamis et al are forcing themselves into the forefront of many of our lives. For people living in stricken areas, there’s no topic more important to talk about. The recent massive earthquake in Japan that unleashed the latest tsunami appears to have moved the main island of Japan by eight feet and shifted the earth on its axis. www.articles.cnn.com/2011-03-12/world/japan.earthquake.tsunami.earth I’m beginning to look forward to a time when a simple “sure is hot out there” is the only mention of the weather.

By Sam DelPresto

Monday, February 14, 2011


The resignation of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak was truly revolutionary. Not the part where a dictator is overthrown; that happens from time to time. The world-shattering part is that the revolution was achieved with an almost total absence of gunfire. The weapon of choice was the internet. (www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/social.media/02/11/egyptian.president.) The revolution began, at least in part, on Facebook. If the unlikely election of Barack Obama in 2001 did not signal the end of business as usual (his war chest was almost completely funded by small contributors through the internet) then certainly this change of government does. The Egyptian people’s overthrow of Mubarak is a gigantic boulder thrown into a pond with ripples of influence that are so far unimagined, both positive and negative. This form of public oversight sounds radically like a government “of the people, by the people.”

By Sam DelPresto