Sunday, December 30, 2012

IRS should create a new tax itemization form (1040-GUN)

Chicago has a total ban on firearms.

Yet, so far in 2012, 500 homicides were committed with about 95% of them being committed using firearms.

Surely gun rights promoters would say that banning guns within the city limits has had no effect on homicide rates. Perhaps they are right, but only because the US has too many divergent laws on gun permitting, trading, and licensing.

Also, there are no limits on the number of guns a person can have or trade. 'Divide and conquer' appears to me the motto of the gun rights activists.

The same people who support gun rights as a fundamental human right must realize that anybody from Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and other surrounding communities can legally buy guns, without many limits on the quantity or type.

So, if, say, I lived in Wisconsin, close to Chicago, and were perfectly able to buy guns legally, I could buy 100 Beretta 9 MM guns at $450 each, file the serial number off, and then sell them to gangsters or psychos in Chicago for $700 each. Nobody would have a clue where the guns came from. I could easily make $25k, just like that. I do not live in Chicago and would not have any guns on me while I travel to Chicago. Police surely cannot be everywhere at the same time.

Certainly, -almost- all illegal guns everywhere on any American city street started up as legal guns. So, gun ownership illegality is 100% derived from perfectly legal gun ownership. Legal gun ownership is the source of all homicides committed by firearms.

Then, what is the point of a firearm ban in a locality surrounded by other localities with free flowing firearms? It is totally pointless. A localized firearm ban would work only if all localities would have the same symmetrical bans. This would imply a national ban, and, given the US realities, that cannot happen.

I think the only viable solution to addressing divergent gun laws across localities would be to make gun and ammunition ownership be direct object of taxation.

Each gun owner should declare the guns and ammunition they own, by type, and be assessed a federal excise tax depending in gun/ammo type, caliber, customization, etc. We do that for our home(s), retirement accounts, car(s), pet(s), boat(s), RV(s) ownership, etc.

The IRS should create a new 1040-GUN form to allow for itemization of all the guns and ammunition. 

Where I live I have to pay $25/year to 'license' a single pet. Why can't we legislate the need to pay a yearly gun licensing fee as a source of quasi fiscal revenue  to the federal government?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Manifest against the current political gridlock

As if this would have not been expected, the US Congress cannot seem to agree with the Senate and the White House on a common solution for averting the fiscal cliff. Partisan interests dominate the public interest and if you are not outraged by this then you are either a political mollusk or a house plant.

Only a month ago we have elected a president with a solid mandate to solve our nations' problems.

Yet the Congress seems to be accountable to interest that do not coincide with the public's choice for executive leadership. In spite of this political stalemate and in light of the ominous economic implications of inaction on solving the fiscal cliff people seem to be passive and indifferent.

Where is the public outrage? Why aren't people going on the streets to stage large protests just like in the 1960s? Where is this public lethargy coming from? How is it that we have become the most indifferent nation to political gridlocks?

How can we allow the government to be in a perpetual state of conflict with itself and with the public that elected it? I am mystified and sad to see how political processes that exist to elect and support the government are completely ignored and even used against the public's interest.

Case in point: the fiscal cliff. If the government does nothing about its consequences most of the public will be worse off while the executive and the legislative bodies of our government will suffer no immediate consequences. They have 2 or 4 or 6 years to deal with the political consequences but we will have to deal with the economic consequences immediately. We will pay higher taxes immediately. We will have less of everything including debt but this is of no consequence during the next several months.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Nature of Credit (III)

Please read this article and you will realize that the Fed has an amazing amount of power.

In addition, this article also shows that the government uses the Fed's powers to shift economic perceptions in ways that are not only dubious but also dangerous. Our perceptions of inflation (high) are different than  government's (low). In the end, we cannot be both right at the same time.

To bridge this gap the government and the Fed are keeping the flow of credit at very high rates while calculating a CPI below reality. No matter what we do as individuals, we will have the invisible hand of inflation gap rob us of our own wealth and see it being transferred to cover the government incompetence.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lazy Bones - Cabernet Franc Vintage 2011 Paso Robles

I purchased a few bottles of 2011 Cabernet franc -Lazy Bones- and I just like its freshness.

If you are into red wines I would recommend this Cabernet franc as a staple wine to have around.

It has robust flavors and it rolls very gently in your mouth. I had a bottle with a rack of lamb and roasted root vegetables. Delicious, luscious, and with plenty of blueberries.

For a wine under $10 a bottle at Trader Joe's you cannot go wrong to use this wine as your regular table wine for a full month.

Friday, December 21, 2012

National Rifle Association raised again the stakes of absurdity

After the recent Newtown, CT massacre the NRA came out today and claimed that this tragedy could have prevented if some 'good guy' with a gun had been around at the time of the shooting.

All the children and adults killed last week have not even been buried yet and the NRA is positioning itself in a position of supremacy that suggests that the only answer to this type of crimes is a shared responsibility by an even more widespread gun ownership society.

What about a shared responsibility where nobody can get a gun except for very legitimate reasons (target shooting, with proper medical backgrounds, etc.)?

In addition, the NRA thinks that each school needs armed guards or police officers to prevent such tragedies. Or that we should just rely on acts of 'pure good randomness' to defeat 'pure bad randomness'. On average, we will do just fine, except that many innocent bystanders will be massacred in the crossfire, a crossfire of nonchalance and implicit criminal neglect.

We are not playing cards, the last I checked, to accept that we are neutral viewers of and not participants in our own lives.

How can the NRA justify that, eventually, good randomness cancels out bad randomness? Such a position is morally, intellectually, and politically wrong. We can protect children and adults from cigarette smoke but we can do nothing about guns and ammunition?

Let's just start by having the government tax each bullet sold with $10. Firearms should also be taxed at 100% when changing hands, including family member to family member transfers. In addition, for each firearm owned the owner needs to pay a yearly tax of $500.

We need to make guns and ammo so expensive to own and use that only a few people will actually be able to own guns and actually afford to burn $10 every time they shoot a bullet. 

There are about 300,000,000 firearms in the US in private hands and let's assume that the average federal tax per year per firearm is going to be $500. Simple math tells us that we will get about $150,000,000,000/year. That is $150 billion/year. Add in the $10 per bullet sold and we will reach about another $350 billion/year. In total we will collect more than a half a trillion/year in new taxes. If people decide to buy even more firearms we will make even more money for each gun purchased.

This is a very fair tax as if you do not want to own a gun or buy bullets you will pay $0 in additional federal taxes. If you surrender the firearms/bullets you already own to the government you will get an equivalent federal tax credit.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

COX Communications decided to credit my account with $5

So, after COX Communications lost all my e-mail messages older than 150 days and stopped delivering email message to my account with them for about 5 days it decided to credit my account with the incredible amount of $5. A one time credit.

Incredibly arrogant and shortsighted. COX Communication is the worst cable and internet services delivery company. Without any doubt.

Stay away from COX, if you can. If I could not use COX where I live I would never in a million years do business with them.
Now COX claims that I have not been paying for email services, in spite of the fact that I pay for internet alone about $65/mo. Not to speak of the fact that they advertise email access and account as one of the differentiating services compared to the competition.

Incredibly frustrating.

Here is the exact reply I got from their customer care team.

I am sorry for the issue you are experiencing with our webmail.

Please keep in mind you subscribe to access to the Internet and we offer the email as a complimentary service at no additional charge.

A $5.00 credit had been issued to your account and you will see this on the next statement. Teams across all levels of our organization remain intensely focused on the restoration efforts. Unfortunately, we do not expect services to be restored today. We do understand the impact this is having on our customers, which is why we have deployed every resource possible to working this issue. While we are focused on restoring email access as quickly as possible, the multiple components and processes that make up our email system require care, and some time, to bring them back online. We will provide additional updates on our website. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this is causing you.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Nature of Credit (II)

Credit is an amazing economic instrument.

Credit is the primary vehicle through which we communicate and translate economic values across times. An individual who has an excess of resources today can use them to either pay back expenses made in the past or to support other businesses who will pay them back in the future. Time can be traded just like any other goods or services.This is astounding.

It is astounding because, given credit and perfect rationality, the amount of economic activity at any given time should be always focused on the present. When this does not happen we have an economic crisis, be it depression, recession, or inflation.

So, if today I know that I have an excess of resources I should be able to pretty easily pay back past obligations and sustain the excess of resources for the future, via credit. My natural inclination would be to be in a perfect balance today as I know that, if current conditions persist, I can sustain the balance going forward.

If I make $1,000 this week and need to pay for my past loans $200 and save for future growth $200 then the $600 left over should be sufficient for living. If I save even more than $200 then I will have even less resources today but this implies that I am optimistic about the future.

Bring the government into this equation and we will see how they take away any and all incentives to save for the future while trying to decrease the value of my past loan obligations.

Now, -if I have the same job- I still make $1,000 this week and government (via the central bank) decides that the value of credit should be less than it used to be (using quantitative easing, for instance).

So, I used to owe $200 for past loans and now they are worth $150 while the value of saving for the future also decreases by $50. So, I have $700 left to spend. What should I do with the extra $100? Well, if cost of living went up and state and local taxes went up I may end up with nothing more than I used to have before. All the federal government did was to make private businesses and sate/local governments charge more for the same goods and services. The net effect is 0 (at the very best). There are other cases where the net effect of the government actions is at most 0 and very few where the effects are greater than 0.

We are slaves to the central bank's actions and they have a very thin hit zone of success.

Another outcome to consider is listed below.

If I do not pay my $200 loan at all this will enable me to have more resources today but this also signals that the degree of risk in the economy is not well quantified. Higher risks imply higher returns and higher values of the credit costs. Contrary to expectations and economic theory, this has not happened at all. If I save more then I am not rational as the interest rates are too low.

So, I can either invest the money or spend it all.

The central bank is practically forcing us to take actions against or best individual interests. Think about it for a second. A government body not elected by us is telling us what is best for us... At least economically. If there are no economic freedoms then we have no other kinds of freedoms.

Credit is an amazing instrument until the government dilutes its value to almost nothing.


It's impossible to claim innocence

Friday's massacre in Newtown, CT where 20 children under the age of 7 and 6 adults were killed by a young adult shows with the precision of a metronome what lack of government regulations can do.

It is almost impossible to claim that the government could not have done anything about this when it is clear that the opposite is true. Mostly when these types of massacres occur at least 10 times a year.

Here are several ways the government could have made this massacre much more difficult to perpetrate (if not prevent it).

1. Access to guns. Most criminals and mentally challenged individuals get (buy or steal) their guns from other 'law abiding' citizens. Controlling guns at the source and imposing yearly checks on the storage of guns and ammunition in private hands could be a starting point;

2. Mental health. If anybody in a household gets diagnosed with a mental disorder all guns/ammo in the household need to be sold immediately;

3. Judicial clarity. Have the Supreme Court clarify the scope of the 2nd amendment so that stronger restrictions be placed on all guns already in private hands;

All 3 branches of the USG have failed to fulfill their main Constitutional duty: to allow to the 26 innocent victims of this infuriating event to seek 'life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness'. Their lives were taken away from them and the government cannot claim innocence.

It is impossible for the government to assert that it could not have done anything to prevent this event when these types of events happen with an alarming regularity.

Our government can muster the resources and the legal constructs to chase/kill/incarcerate/isolate terrorists away no matter where they are on the globe, but it cannot do anything to prevent these types of atrocities?

If Al-Qaeda would have been behind any of these types of awful mass shootings then the government would have created a new set of rules. Immediately and without recourse.Just like the 'Patriot' Act. Only the name is patriotic in that act, and yet the government has managed to make it the new law of the land rather quickly...

Cox Communications Sucks Again

Starting with yesterday I have not been able to access my Cox Communication e-mail account. Mind you, I am paying them +$65/mo for the Internet access they provide.

Here is what they promise. Yet, I cannot get to my e-mail account at all.


Logging in here will allow you to:

  • Access up to 10 email accounts with 2GB of storage space each
  • Compose new messages to contacts from your Address Book
  • Manage SpamBlocker and other advanced email tools
  • Search for current and saved messages
Learn more about Cox High Speed Internet.

And this is what the alert says.

Our teams are making progress in our email service restoration efforts. Through our investigation, we have isolated the cause of the failure to the email system platform which ultimately affected both the primary and secondary failover (back-up) systems. Currently, all incoming messages are queued in our system and we expect to deliver messages to customers on a rolling basis as we bring the systems back online. Teams across all levels of our organization remain intensely focused on the restoration efforts. Unfortunately, we do not expect services to be restored today. We do understand the impact this is having on our customers, which is why we have deployed every resource possible to working this issue. While we are focused on restoring email access as quickly as possible, the multiple components and processes that make up our email system require care, and some time, to bring them back online. Our next scheduled update is 3:00 pm, however we will update this alert with new information as we have it.

Need I say more than the fact that Cox is the worst 'utility providers' company I am dealing with?

I hate having to do business with this company but they are a virtual monopoly in this city.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ode to atheism

Today's news about the 27 victims of an an unexplainable act of violence in Connecticut has made me be an even stronger believer than ever that I cannot be anything but an atheist.

We are simple mammals that have evolved the way we are and manage to maintain our society 'normal' by the simple law of large numbers. We developed and embraced the concept of God to substitute for our inability to accept that we are finite.

Scientifically and statistically speaking we exist by pure coincidence and if events like today's can happen then so can we.

No God in any universe can be used to justify what happened today in Connecticut. Never.

Adam Lanza, the alleged perpetrator of this crime, was a human being who killed other humans using technology and laws accepted as 'modern' in this country.

We cannot allow a repeat of this type of tragedy. We need to use human powers (laws, government, justice, and society artifacts) to stop anybody from ever doing what Adam Lanza did today.

Using divinity to justify Adam's actions should be left for the weak amongst us. It is time for us, The People, to fix the gun laws in America and drastically restrict gun ownership.

Another tragic government failure

Today, 20 innocent children and adults were massacred by a young man in Connecticut. Our tears cannot bring these children back and nobody's tears can console their parents.

This is an example of complete and utter government failure. Innocent children being murdered mercilessly by an armed man should not happen in a civilized society. Never and under no circumstances.

The government should protect the weakest among us. Anybody daring to claim that we have the constitutional right to carry guns in this country and that this is a purely 'isolated' incident are at least insane. This could have been prevented if guns would have been much harder to come by.

Guns do not kill people but people with guns can kill people (including children) at a much faster rate than with almost any other kind of weapon.

Rules about the health and state of mind of anybody who has guns need to be much stricter and much better enforced. Also, rules about the sales of guns need to be changed and new rules about the storage of guns in private hands need to be created. The sooner the better.

Currently, in Chicago, one cannot have a gun, but in the suburbs anybody can buy a gun which then can be sold to thugs in Chicago. NRA and other gun rights advocates claim that Chicago is a clear example of the failure of gun control regulations. Can you believe that? Anybody can drive to Iowa or Indiana and buy a gun and return to Chicago and kill innocent victims at will.

We need new rules for gun ownership and we need them now as the type of massacre that happened today can be repeated at any time and almost by anybody.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Fed is the Most Powerful Branch of the US Government

As we all know so well, we have 3 basic constitutional powers: legislative, executive, and judiciary.  Only 2 of them, legislative and executive (within limits), can affect the economy in very direct ways.

Regulations, national budget, taxes, incentives, subsidies, exemptions, and foreign policy are but a few of the ways the government affects us in very tangible ways.

The judiciary power cannot do too much about the economy as the courts are simple post facto arbiters.

The poor state of our economy is causing ripple effects in our lives, from employment opportunities, healthcare decisions, housing, and transportation to political choices and wealth distribution.

As of now, we cannot make decisions on next year's budget as we are not sure what the tax rates are going to be and we do not know that because 2 branches of our government have failed to perform their constitutional duties. It is bizarre that even though there are so many uncertain components in economic planning the ones we need to worry the most about elate to the government actions (or lack thereof).

The legislative and executive branches of our government have failed to perform their jobs and have been failing persistently over the past several years. The leaders of these government branches cannot agree whether they should say 'Hi' or 'Hello' when they meet and we pay the consequences. 

Under the massive clouds of uncertainty on the functioning of the legislative and executive branches, one branch of the government, not even sanctioned by the US Constitution, has emerged more powerful than ever.

That branch is the Federal Reserve System (The Fed). The Fed is the most powerful branch of the US government and without Fed's actions over the past 5 years the US would have literally sunk into an extraordinarily deep recession and, quite possibly, into a depression. Is this branch controlled by the people? No. Is it accountable to the people? Very indirectly and ineffectively.

The Fed has the full power and capability to create economic crises, to favor political specific parties over other parties, to massively influence credit availability and size (the blood of capitalism), and the ability to affect international trade via currency and exchange rates manipulation.

The Fed is a government within the government. It has control over the health of the banking system (legislative power), controls the monetary mass and credit (executive), and recommends sanctions when banks do not do what they are expected to do (judicial).

The actual processes the Fed uses to perform its actions are semi-occult and based on questionable science that imply that governments 'live forever' and, consequently, the money supply can be infinite under some specific conditions.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The fiscal cliff looms closer and closer

Up to this date nothing has changed in solving the fiscal mess before the end of the year. Nothing.

The only indirect 'beneficiary' of this Congressional inaction is, again, the Federal Reserve Bank.

Today, Ben Bernanke announced that the Fed will extend its powers and buy even more treasury bonds. So, the Fed continues to build its massive power under the careless eyes of the US Congress.

Just read this article and prepare to be amazed as the Fed has officially become the most powerful American institution. They own, after all, most of the US debt and they claim that they ask for nothing in return. Can you believe that?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The nature of credit (I)

The nature of credit is such that people who save money (by not spending more than what they make) make it available to people who need it for starting or running a business and to people who are impatient and want to own 'stuff' beyond their means.

It is pretty simple: you have extra money and deposit it at a bank. You trust the bank to use your money wisely. If the bank grants loans to people/companies that pay it back on time, plus interest, then all is dandy and good. If banks cannot get their money back from borrowers -and this is persistent- then we have a problem.

When banks and individuals collude on asset perception and think simultaneously that the assets' values they endorse are 'stable' at unrealistic levels then everybody suffers the consequences. All banks lose money at the same time and this cannot be sustained over long periods of time.

When you bring the government and the central bank into this equation then entire nations and even the world economy suffer. The central banks interject in the value of credit equations by totally arbitrarily asserting that the magnitude of risk components in credit is almost zero. How can risks decrease when asset prices decline? Yet central banks want us to believe that the cost of credit should actually be very low as the risks are very low and/or returns should be very constant (i.e. low). Really?

The stock market and individuals' earnings disagree. Wages are expected to grow as companies are expected to make profits at some historical rates greater than 3-8%.  So, how can the Fed rationalize holding the interest rates at 0.25%/year? It makes no sense, as the ratio of bad performing credit to performing is about 10%.

Under these conflicting conditions, credit cannot be cheap when uncertainty on taxation is at historical levels. The consequence is that the economy remains paralyzed. Business, individuals, and asset traders are not sure about who is right in this economy. The central bank cannot be right as they have a poor record. Private banks and financial institutions have had a poor record too. The government has had a very poor record as well.

Individuals cannot all be wrong in insular cases but they can be wrong in groups.

Credit should be expensive and tax rates should be high and neither is true. How can this be conducive to real economic growth? We are in a check-mate situation, with the government and central bankers holding most of the high value cards. Individuals and business need to chip away at getting out of the current state on their own. The government and the banking system cannot be trusted and the value of credit has been usurped. I will get back to this topic, no doubt.

Summit Saga IPA (great beer)

If you have a chance, this winter, try the IPA from Summit Breweries.

It is an amazingly tasty and optimistic beer. It has an uplifting undertone and it makes me dream of exotic places, such as Caledonia or Fiji. The beer complements heavy dishes, like chicken parmigiano and even Philly cheese steaks.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Hate Cox Communications

Cox Communications (CC) is my cable and satellite provider. For cable TV (+digital receiver) and internet I pay -with taxes and all- about $157/mo. For internet alone I pay about $55/mo.

A few days ago Cox sent the following message to me.

It has the subject line 'Important Notice Regarding Your Cox Email'.

COX Business(R)
Dear Valued Customer,

We are writing to notify you that Cox recently experienced a technical disruption to our email services.  While email services have been restored, some of your emails older than 150 days cannot be recovered to our servers.

We value you as our customer, and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.   If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact us at 877-897-2470.


Cox Communications

Needless to say, this is infuriating. I am paying Cox for access to an email account that is not public. In addition to restricting the size of my e-mail box to 2 GB now Cox has decided that I cannot keep messages for more than 150 days. 

Many e-mail providers are totally free and you get to have at least 10 GB of space but a company that I pay money for this basic service cannot fulfill its obligations. To add salt to injury they pretend in their communication that it is not even their fault.

I contacted Cox customer service to try to have my e-mail box restored and they told me that there is nothing they can do to recover my messages. Amazing. This is one of the reasons I thoroughly hate Cox Communications.

Cox Communications is arrogant, behaves like a de-facto monopoly, and restricts -via monopoly pricing- the free flow of information in this country.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shock Top - Belgian White (forget about it)

Whatever you do, do not buy Shock Top (Belgian White) beer.

It is supposed to be a Belgian style beer with citrus peels and coriander. It is not. In my mental catalog, it will be registered as 'just a beer' and claims to the contrary are pure marketing and shrewdness.

Shock Top is a washed-out beer without consistent and clear flavors. I chilled a six pack overnight and was expecting a beer with mystery and weight. It is a beer with a strong sour after taste and with very few detectable flavors of either citrus peels or coriander.

Believe it or not, I would drink Stella Artois over Shock Top (Belgian White) any day of the week.

Friday, November 30, 2012

GOP has no more credibility

Once again, I have to write about the insanity of the GOP's position in regards to the fiscal cliff.

The GOP has no logical choice but to let the tax cuts for the top 2% of income distribution expire. It is as clear as day as if they do not then taxes go up for everybody and, in addition, they have to deal with sequestration.

If the GOP does nothing they lose 2 battles (spending cuts for the military will be enacted and the taxes for the top 2% will go up) while the Democrats lose only 1 (taxes for 98% of income earners). What are the GOP strategists thinking?

What are the reasons the GOP keeps fighting a losing battle? If they keep fighting for nothing will the  GOP continue to be considered a viable national political partner?

I would think not, but the GOP has an agenda that eludes me. Completely. 

Thinking of Romania on its National Day

It is somehow bizarre for me to write about Romania and its National Holiday, but here I am.

Romania celebrates its National Holiday on December 1st, to remember 1918 when it became geographically great. Actually the greatest it has ever been. 

After December 1st, 1918, Romania reached its largest borders in modern history after the reunification with Transylvania. However, after WW II Romania lost territories to the Soviets and Bulgarians but it has managed to remain within the current borders ever since, which is a miracle, given 1989.

Sometimes I am wondering if Romania will ever be as large as it was on December 1st, 1918.

Today -and not only now- Romania seems a lost cause. It appears that it has been -almost always- at the mercy of other nations and has not shown to be capable of adapting to the needs of modern societies but sporadically and inconsistently.

From what I know, Romanians crave a society that has attributes such as openness, good infrastructure, social mobility, tolerance, appetite for education, secularism, access to good healthcare, fair taxation, opportunities for all, economic freedom, and justice. All these are sore topics for almost all Romanians who care just a little bit about the grand ideals of the Great Romania of 1918.

Spiritually and linguistically speaking Romania has always been great. However, spirituality requires infrastructure and economic backbones which Romania has not managed to build and maintain with consistency and efficiency.

Many Romanians have left Romania to seek coalescing backbones able to support and sustain their spirituality. I am proud to be of Romanian descent and would love to be able to welcome Romania to the family of great nations of Europe.

Today I cannot say that I have many reasons be too proud of Romania's status in Europe but I am more hopeful than ever that Romania will somehow manage to pull itself up by the bootstraps and gain front door ascendance to the family of the great countries of Europe. One step at a time and one individual at a time, whether in Romania or abroad.

Happy National Day, Romania!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

GOP is unreasonable

Mr. Obama has a 'golden goose' in the fiscal cliff battle.

Today the Republicans in the House met with Mr. Obama's emissaries and Mr. Boehner (the House speaker) claimed that discussions 'got nowhere'.

Mr. Boehner and his acolytes forget that the Democrats have already explained that they have decided to let the tax cuts for households making over $250k (the top 2% of Americans) expire on Jan 1, 2013. Mr. Obama's plan will bring in more revenue than now.

Mr. Boehner claims that the President should also come up with spending cuts. Why is the GOP not coming up with the spending cuts if the additional revenue does not make them happy? It is 100% their responsibility as they are the ones calling (screaming, I should say) for it, no doubt.

Mr. Obama has nothing to lose by doing absolutely nothing. If I were in his shoes I would go on vacation until Dec 28th and if the GOP does not have a plan meeting his agenda then so be it.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Leffe, blonde beer

Have you ever had a blonde Leffe beer? It is a Belgian beer that is very uplifting and refreshing.

Leffe blonde beer bubbles are small and they release an aroma that no other blonde beer has. It is a beer with a story and although it is a stock beer (not from a microbrewery)  I would highly recommend it with fish and cheese/creamy dishes.

As soon as you take a sip of Leffe, subtle and sunny aromas surround your tongue and dance in a harmonious ways to make you dream of crisp and windless mornings. I just love Leffe.

What's up, Mitch?

Mitch McConnell, a US senator from Kentucky, said in October 2010 that the "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

Well, Mitch, you and your party have failed.

You have failed not only on this ('most important') but also on any concept of reform.

Healthcare, tax code, immigration policy, energy, regulatory, and farm reforms are items that you and your party would not touch with a 10 yard pole. There is nothing wrong with the current state, you claim, but the reality is that each one of these public policies needs to be reformed.

Where do you stand on these, much more important topics, Mitch? Where is your party leadership on policies that truly matter?

Mitch, you are an itch on our political scene that we need to cure. You are full of backwardness and stubbornness. You are a disgrace and a farce who stands for nothing important in particular but only stands against progress. Any type of progress.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Very Unsettling To Watch Our March Towards the Cliff

It is very unsettling to sit back and watch without much power how, seemingly every fall and spring and at any time in between, the Congress is going to work to 'fix' a looming danger.

It is down right infuriating to see that the problems the Congress is trying to solve have, for the majority of the time, been created by the Congress proper. Case in point: the sequester and the tax rate increases doomed to being on Jan 1st 2013. We should have never reached this point, ever. And yet we have.

The Congress creates these problems by not solving them for the long run to begin with. By looking at the current expected 'fiscal cliff' it is hard not to imagine that it could have been entirely avoidable had it not been for the bitter partisanship shown last year by all our political parties.

Our Congress seems to care only about their own interests and I am not even sure what they are after. An ideology? A set of statements? Intents? None of these constructs help ordinary people.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Obama has had a landslide win: no ifs, ands, or buts

Obama has won the re-election campaign in a massive landslide. In the electoral college -EC- he has 336 votes while Romney has 206 (+130 votes difference in Obama's favor) .

The magnitude of his win has to be referred as amazing and unprecedented. Let me clarify that for you. The unemployment rate has been over 9% for months and the government debt has increased to never-seen-before levels. In this light, the election results appear counter-intuitive.

Had the economy done better during his first tenure and, say, the unemployment rate been at 5% what would have been the difference between Obama and Romney in the EC? 200 electoral votes?

The Republicans could not even take advantage of the poor economy to defeat Obama and, to top it all, showed very poor campaign management skills. This is utterly shocking to me, given their closeness to sound business practices. In addition, they showed pure inability to broaden their electoral base and relied on the same 'old religious farts' they have relied on for decades. To make the argument a full trifecta, the Republicans presented to us a candidate that, I believe, has never bought milk from a grocery store in his entire life.

Republicans have lost in a massive fashion and their credibility is at levels seemingly inversely related to the US national debt...

Obama could not have obtained better results, given the extremely difficult US economic conditions. I am elated for his well deserved win.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sore Losers...

The Republicans are some sore losers after Obama's reelection.

Some sore losers and their reactions are shown all over the blogo-sphere. Before the election, the Republicans were very poor at predicting the magnitude of their losses and appeared totally shocked that they lost the White House during this election cycle. Their shock transformed into anger very quickly.

Republicans now claim that Obama has no popular mandate to raise taxes on the rich since he was elected with a very 'slim' majority of the popular vote (3 million voters is not even close to slim). This argument falters in the face of the  fact that he has an over 60% edge in the Electoral College (332 vs. 206).

My reply to their argument is plain and simple.

Have a look at the election results when George W Bush was elected during his first mandate, in 2000. He lost the popular vote nationally and won the Electoral College by the slimmest of margins (2 votes). These facts have not stopped him to behave as if he had a direct mandate from the most conservatives of the Republicans and went into 2 unprovoked wars and -unnecessarily- lowered federal income taxes across the board while leaving the economy in total shambles at the end of his second term.

When W Bush was behaving like an escaped gorilla on a ripe corn field, even though he had no popular legitimacy to roam around, the Republicans claimed that 'he was the president elect' and right now that exact same argument appears obsolete and not applicable. I cannot stop being at least intrigued by Republican inconsistencies.

After this election Obama has earned total political legitimacy and should promote and enact laws that totally reflect the mandate that elected him for another 4 years. Advance health care for all, social justice, regulatory reform, energy independence, and fiscal soundness are at the top of his agenda. He cannot be derailed by Republican's shenanigans anymore.

One more remark: Mitch McConnell, please resign from your position immediately and return to your ranch.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Just like I thought

Obama won another 4 years and, given his competitor, this was fully expected. As soon as the Republicans picked Mitt Romney to be their presidential candidate the winner had already been elected.

Many commentators claim that Romney had a chance at beating Obama but he really did not. Obama has not been a great president but he has managed to extricate our nation from the throes of a very deep recession and people could not forget that.

When Obama first took office in 2008 fear was practically flowing like a wild river down our streets. With fierce Republican opposition Obama managed to stabilize the economy and has even passed health care reform. Kudos to him and his team.

I am pleased that the country has seen clearly through the fog and electoral promises and stuck with a proven presdient.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A few days ago I voted

I feel relieved that I voted. I went to the election office and just voted. It took me no more than10 minutes.

I feel even better that we can vote early. Where I live we can vote 35 days before a federal election and it is amazing that I need not wait for the first Tue in Nov to be able to vote.   

I need not be preoccupied anymore with political debates, polls, or changing position/views mostly as I have made my mind up a few months ago and that was that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Please have a read of this article, Congressman draws fire for calling evolution, Big Bang ‘lies from the pit of hell’, and tell me that this is not absolutely insane.

In this day and age and in this great country of ours, a representative who is supposed to be a luminary evokes -with nonchalance and shallowness- some of the darkest moments in human history. I am talking about ignorance and total abdication of logic.

We are independent beings and we are not being directed to do or not do things by anybody. There can be no supreme being able to tell us what to do or not to do.

According to Gallup and quoted in the article above:

'The Gallup Poll has been tracking Americans' views on creation and evolution for 30 years.  In June, it released its latest findings, which showed that 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution.'

Can this be real? 46% of Americans think that we cannot explain our world without a God? I am ashamed of the vastness of people's ignorance and their stubbornness refusal of accepting a world working as it has from the beginning, independent of any gods. This cannot be about education. We spend vast amounts of money and resources on education and we cannot be that wrong. We just cannot.

So, what is the root cause of the vast numbers of Americans who think God is at center of their lives? Perhaps it is human nature and laziness. But perhaps it is our social structure. With faults and fissures that allow human mind to stray away from logic. Far, far away. As far away as the Milky Way.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On social alcohol consumption and tolerance

Elaborating on my previous post, I think that societies that are indifferent (or tolerant) to alcohol consumption are more tolerant than societies that do not.

Examples: Pakistan versus Germany. Or Saudi Arabia versus Romania. Or Egypt versus Italy.

In addition, alcohol consumption can be a proxy for other types of substances, such as marijuana or other mildly attention/focus diverting substances. (To be clear, abuses at individual level are not to be considered relevant for this post.)

Getting back to the idea that alcohol consumption -at society levels- fosters tolerance let's zoom in on some reasons.

1. Creates substitutes for acceptance and, surely,  creates a sense of brotherhood. Look at the beer evolution in Belgium or Holland: communities developed a sense of togetherness around monasteries, which then developed very creative beer brewing methods and flavors.

2. Promotes acceptance of different views during social gatherings. If you go to a wedding, say, and discuss -after a few drinks- about politics you get 'black listed' from ever going to weddings so you have an incentive to 'behave'.

3. Removes some opportunities from too much introspection. The results is that you do not need to worry about what you do not think about.

4. Quite possibly, changes perception of what matters at 'the deepest levels'. Young people are very easy to be influenced and the influence of alcohol overtakes the influence of any other indoctrinating thoughts.

5. Promotes the creation of knowledge paths/tracks indifferent to indoctrination. Knowing how to make beer (or whiskey or wine or brandy) and being able to do so can lead to financial independence. Who needs religion when they are self and fully sufficient? Taxation of alcohol has much more to do with -financial and thought- independence than with it being considered a 'vice', for sure.

We cannot discount the thought that alcohol production and consumption in Western societies (Europe) has led to more tolerant people. Alcohol and education, that is...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

On beer consumption per capita (as of 2011)

Beer consumption may be a proxy for social attributes that are very desirable. For instance, it is rare to drink beer all by yourself, just to get trashed. It takes too much beer to be able to get drunk quickly.

We drink beer with friends and family and the theory is that the more beer we drink the more friends and family relationships we possess. In a way, we can use beer consumption per capita as a gauge of social closeness.

Personally, I would not want to live in a country not in the top 20 on the list below...

Chart above can be found at

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On American constitutional stability (I)

Arguably, the US has had the most stable constitution in the Western hemisphere. Stability should be a good thing when it comes to constitutional concepts.

After all, the constitution is the framework around which all our government institutions functions. Justice, governance, openness, use of force, freedom of expression, and enforcement of rules are all the main foundation on which the institutions of our society function. We want stable institutions, don't we?

Yet, there are a few conflicts between stability and the evolutionary needs of a growing society. We can see the conflicts being played out in at least 2 major directions.

The first is centered around the 2nd Amendment which is interpreted as the unstoppable right of all Americans to have weapons. This is the text of the 2nd Amendment: 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'

The second conflict relates to the fact that we, as Americans, are under-represented in the Congress.

Since 1910 the number of Federal representative has remained constant across the years while the population has grown dramatically. We have had 435 Congressmen for the past 102 years and 100 Senators. For more details on apportionment, please see this US Census link.

As far as the Senate, we have 100 Senators, so the apportionment is not population driven (2 per state).

The US population has evolved as detailed below.

...To Be Continued

On Redistribution

We hear many commentators opine that governments should not 'redistribute' wealth from the rich to the poor. According to them, this kind of redistribution is what socialism is all about. I say: 'really'?

NFL takes money from rich team and gives the funds to the poorer teams. So does NHL and MLB, and almost all corporations. GE transfers money from more profitable subsidiaries to less profitable ones every day. Critics would say that corporations can do so as it is 'their money'. It is actually the shareholders' money.

If individuals redistribute funds and have no resources they may ask for a loan. And when that happens they engage yet another set of redistributive processes (where do financial institutions get their money if not from savers or from almighty Fed?).

When you save money to buy a car, a house, or a boat you actually redistribute money from present potential expenditures to future expenditures. When you give lunch money to your child you actually redistribute money from somebody -you- who has money to somebody who does not -your child-, for very legitimate -and moral and noble- reasons.

We are redistributing money every time when we engage in financial transactions. Why should the government not protect the interests of all of us by harnessing the power of redistribution? We, after all, can choose to move to another country with less public redistribution or we can elect representatives who support the notion that private redistribution is more effective than public redistribution. But maybe it is not that simple.

Given the 2007 private banking generated crisis we could successfully argue that the government is the only institution with authority, durability, and credibility to preserve the value of private redistribution over the long term. So, I say, public redistribution is actually more desirable over private redistributive processes, at least on large and public scales.

Long live public redistribution, I say. Private redistribution will always thrive, no matter what the government does, so it can fend for itself just fine.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tony Scott And Rational Decisions

Tony Scott committed suicide a few days ago. He was 68. He was a rather successful movies director and many people will remember his movies forever. I will always remember Top Gun with Tom Cruise.

His suicide is debated by the media and across the blogosphere and some of us wonder whether committing suicide can ever be justified, mostly when you reach a certain age, status, wealth, family, and prestige. I am of  the belief that committing suicide can be fully rational under some circumstances regardless of status and age.

Getting old is psychologically painful enough when you are healthy but imagine getting old while you are ill must be exponentially worse. Imagine then that you would have to budget for medical expenses and prescriptions and all you have worked for is just a distant memory. Why would you want to get much older past a certain age?

Everything you stand for is behind you and it feels like hiking up a mountain where the views around you get wider and wider and the details get less and less important. So, when you become old, living day by day gets more and more painful as there are more and more details that you lose. Perspective wins and daily details become pure repetition.

Many retirement planners and tools would tell you to plan to live 40 or 50 years after retirement date but the truth is that you can control precisely how long you are going to live past any arbitrary date. So, why would you plan for something unknown when you can plan for something known and as clear as the law of gravitation?


Monday, July 30, 2012

I Pee on 2012 NBC Olympics Coverage, Again, and Again...

When I watch Bob Costas on the 2012 NBC Olympics coverage I get angry. When I get angry I go learn how to piss long distance. When I master long distance pissing I pee on NBC from very far away. Sayonara, suckers!

Stop the Fed 's Hegemony (Political Moral Hazard)

The Federal Reserve continues to believe that low interest rates will make people behave as if the 2007 Crisis and its aftermath have never happened. How can it be that individuals want a 'time-out' and the Fed wants people to not have any 'time-outs'?

Time-outs are perfectly rational and what the Fed is doing is totally irrational. The Fed seems to think that people have lost their way in this economy while it is just the opposite: the Fed has lost their compass.

The Fed's stock of credibility is at stake and should the Fed continue to think that under severe economic uncertainty people should spend more than they have then the Fed should surely reward them for the 'uncertainty' risk and not punish them for being savers. This punishing attitude of the Fed will haunt the Federal Reserve for a very long time and people will not believe that the Fed has savers' interests at heart. The Fed is interested in big things and not 'unary' individuals. Apparently, we, as individuals, do not exist for the Federal Reserve.

Whatever the Fed does is to protect the financial sector and to protect itself from the government. Hence, the Fed is just like the Federal government but without true political constraints/consequences. The Federal Reserve can 'spend' as much as it wants for as long as it chooses as long as the financial markets believe them. Financial markets have been wrong many times in the past and should the markets be wrong again a game of chicken will quickly ensue.

The Fed behaves like a hegemony and demands that people act according to some economic models that do not exist. They are a government within the government and should people refuse to obey their 'orders' to spend then rational individuals are doomed and will continue to be punished. Why?

The Fed seems to not be able to comprehend that economic agents have lost faith in institutions. People cannot afford to take on debts at institutions that will always be backed up by the government while individuals will be left 'holding the bag' after the fact. People will be punished through 3 diverse mechanisms: inflation, taxation, and misrepresentation.

The money that the Fed is printing will have to show up, at some point, in higher inflation. History does not lie about that.

The government is borrowing money at very low costs and at some point the US government will have to pay the money back. Where do you think the money will come from? Economic growth? If economic growth alone could pay off all the government debt then the 2007 Crisis would not have happened.

Misrepresentation happens when we elect people to, say, cut taxes, and they cannot possibly do that. Misrepresentation has many causes, but the Fed is one of the most important accessories to misrepresentation by 'quantitative easing' and pursuing a policy of cheap money.

Consequently, by promoting -and perhaps praying for- inflation, taxation, and misrepresentation the Fed is political, in spite of the fact that they pretend otherwise. We are past the fifth grade on how the Fed operates.

Mr. Bernanke, take down this charade and pay the true savers their fair share. Make the economy depend on individual capital and not 'quantitative' easing. For how long are you going to be able to borrow money from future growth? 3 years? 10 years? By that time the Fed will be holding more Treasury bonds than any other government or financial institution in the world. We are in the 5th year of the 2007 Crisis and the end of the crisis is nowhere in sight. The degree of economic uncertainty has not decreased by much since 2007.

So, then, what will happen should the US government enter bankruptcy?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aurora Shooting

A few days ago a guy with pretty high IQ opened up gun fire in a theater in Aurora, CO. He killed 12 innocent individuals -including children- and injured about 58.

Apparently, he purchased all the guns and ammunition perfectly legally and all 2nd aendment supporters think that there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing. Nada.  The perpetrator is 100% responsible and nothing else needs to be 'fixed'.

Can you believe that?

These types of shootings, when innocent people get killed by other individuals who elect to exercise their 2nd amendment rights to the detriment of all others who elect not to, happen almost daily. Over the last few decades more than 1 million people were killed by law abiding citizens taking full advantage of the 2nd amendment and we are to believe that the law is constitutional.

Is it the intent of the constitution to allow the killing of innocent people from time to time? I do not think so, but no matter how many arguments are being brought up they do no stick and they will never stick.

We like to gamble with our own lives as this could happen to each one of us at any given time.  And all this is perfectly legit. Astounding.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Euro 2012 Closing Words

Spain won the tournament and the final game with Italy displayed a Spanish team that could have conceivably beaten Italy even if they had played with 20 players on the pitch.

Spain had a great final and any team they would have faced would have lost, no doubt about it. Italy did their best but Spain took a quasi mathematical 'derivative' of the Italian style game and enhanced it with unmatched passing and inspiration. Italians appeared frozen in a different era.

The final was as if Spain was playing in HD and Italy was playing in black and white, in a cathodic tube game. Soccer viewed and played in HD has a new standard that speaks Castillian. No team has managed to come close to within a mile of Spain at this tournament.

Spain is not only the best team in Europe but also the best team in the galaxy. Kudos to them! I was glad to be able to witness a final that demonstrated that soccer is always surprising and inspiring.

Viva Espana!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Euro 2012 - Twentieth Day

In Kiev, Italy plays Spain for the championship. This is the last game of an amazing tournament with the Netherlands and Croatia being eliminated in the group stages.

My prediction: Italy will beat Spain and will win it all, to spite all the critics and show that the ball is round all the way to the bank.

Spain has clearly reinvented the beautiful game but Italy has redefined expectations of how the game should be played as opposed to how it is expected to be played.

Italia! Italia! Italia!

Bummer. Spain scored first in the first 15 minutes. Spain scored again. Double bummer. 2-0 at half time.

If Italy comes back in the second half that would be historical. If they do not then Spain would make history. No matter what, this is historical. Is t his a 'catch NOT 22'?

Oh well. Spain has just won the Euro 2012. They were the official favorites to win it all, after all. I am not official, so Spain's win is just fine by me.

In the end Spain beat Italy 4-0. Astonishing score for a European championship.

Arguably, after this win, Spain has become the best team in history.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Euro 2012 - Nineteenth Day

Alas, my prediction became true!

Italy will play Spain for the Euro 2012 title.

Today, in Warsaw, Italy taught the German Panzers a lesson and beat them, fully deservedly, 2-1. Germany has never beaten Italy in an official competition and they did not break this 'record' today.

Balotelli and Pirlo were amazing and although Germany started up very strong it was Italy who scored 2 goals before the half, via Balotelli.

Germany could never recover from the mental anguish of being 2 goals down but they did score one goal from a PK awarded in the last minute of the game.

Italy showed their class and I am thrilled to see the final with Spain.

Italia! Italia! Italia!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Euro 2012 - Eighteenth Day

Today, in Donetsk, Spain and Portugal played an amazing game that ended 0-0, even after extra time.

Spain was fresh and played more aggressive but Portugal managed to have an all field game that could have sunk the Spanish Armada. This was the best game of this championship so far, no doubt. Tactical and physical, skills and chances, drama and spectacle, all in one.

Portugal entered the game determined and with a clear game plan. They would not let the Spaniards play their 'tiki-taka' and would challenge every single pass attempted by Spain. The game became razor sharp and, at times, it looked like either team could have scored and settled the game.

Portugal players became very tired by the end of the regular time and the extra time was a bit too much for them. Spanish players looked like they could have played a brand new game immediately after the end of this game. Amazing.

In extra time Spain could have scored at least 3 times and the Portuguese were hoping that they would be getting a chance at PKs. Portugal did get the PKs chance but could not concentrate all the way till the end.

For Portugal it was not to be and after penalty kicks Spain qualified (4-2) to play the final of Euro 2012.
They will play the winner of the Italy - Germany game to be played tomorrow in Poland.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Euro 2012- Seventeenth Day

In Kiev, right now, Italy plays England for the last spot of the semifinals.The winner of this game will play Germany next Thu.

At the half the game has ended 0-0 but it could have ended differently had the opportunities been taken advantage of by either team, although Italy appeared to have an edge but with few sharp teeth.

Nonetheless, I believe Italy is slightly better than England and a final score of 1-0 for Italy would be fair. By far, Italy and England are not among the top teams of the tournament.

If this is not the ugliest game of the Euro 2012 tournament then it is most certainly the second ugliest game.

The game goes into extra time, but it does not deserve to be extended as its ugliness is unsettling given the caliber of the teams involved. England has had no chance in the second half. None. Zilch. Zero.

We are in extra time and the game drags on like a disease. Very unpleasing. 0-0 still.

We will have penalty shoot-outs and that is a complete gamble. Will win who wins...

Ita scores: 1-0
Eng scores: 1-1

Ita misses:1-1
Eng scores: 1-2

Ita scores: 2-2
Eng misses: 2-2

Ita scores: 3-2
Eng misses: 3-2

Ita scores: 4-2

Italy-England: 4-2, after pks. Italy was the better team, no doubt. Justice was done. Game over.
Italy plays Germany next.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Euro 2012 - Sixteenth Day

Right now Spain plays France against France (in Donetsk).

Spain took the lead in the 19th minute and never let go.

France has tried very hard to score and get back in the game but Spain purely crowded them out. They do not allow empty spaces to be filled in by the opposing team's players.

Spanish players storm into any empty zones and the game goes side to side and it gets almost impossible to move the ball up the field.

Then the Spanish counterattack and hold the ball in a very frustrating and not very pleasing way. The game sort of lingers in the midfield and it loses all its 'sparks and shine'. The Spaniards win by frustration forfeit (as it were), as the opposing team gets the ball very sporadically and if they do and do not make the best out of every opportunity then they are going to lose. It is as simple as that.

There is little doubt that Spain has managed to shake the tactical foundations of the game of soccer and I have yet to see a team able to counteract the 'tiki-taka' Spain has pioneered, although it would seem to me that a valid answer to 'tiki-taka' would be overwhelming speed in order to stop the Spaniards from triangulation all over the field.

Spain scored again in the last minute of the game -from the penalty spot- and the game ended 2-0.

Spain will play Portugal for the first semifinal of the championships to be played next Wed in Donetsk.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Euro 2012 - Fiftteenth Day

Germany was very emphatic today and beat Greece 4-2 in Gdansk.

Germany scored first and the lead stayed 1-0 at the half. Germany played crisp and dominated copiously the entire first half and they deserved at least 2 more goals before the half ended. Immediately after the second half began Greece scored on a counter-attack and appeared to be back into the game. Germany was very elegant and scored 3 more goals before long and Greece scored another goal from a penalty kick caused by a handball.

Greece was very aggressive and 'doggy' and were counting on the counter-attack but stood no chance in the front of the German Panzers.

Germany is the second team of the semi-finals and will wait for the winner of Italy-England on Mon to play in Warsaw.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Fed: Policy, Credibility, Collusion, and Absolution Deficiencies

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve System chairman announced that he is 'open to more QE' to drive/keep long term interest rates down. Long term interest rates have been really low for the past 4 years or so and the economy has not improved too much.

The current Fed's policies suffer from four major deficiencies: policy, credibility, collusion, and absolution. All these deficiencies are deliberate and are aimed at preserving the Fed's current role of the fourth power of the government.


Interest rates are one of the most important signaling mechanism of any financially open economy. When the economy is expected to grow the interest rates tend to be high and when the economy is in recession the interest rates tend to be relatively low.


When the Fed, in a totally deliberate manner, wants and promotes low interest rates then it is basically saying that it expects low economic growth for a very long time. Bernanke is a liar when he is saying that low interest rates will spur growth since the current economic conditions are almost identical to the ones we have experiencing since 2008.

What the current economic crisis shows -unequivocally- is that it has strong psychological undertones related to the complete lack of trust in the banking and financial systems. No matter how low the interest rates are people will not engage in financial transactions with institutions they do not trust. The Fed's credibility is close to the long term interest rates.


The current interest rate policy followed by the Fed favors only financial and banking institutions. Why should we believe that the Fed is trying to help the economy when the Fed seems to be primarily interested in protecting the financial system and not protecting rational economic choices?

If we take rational decisions and save money the Fed is telling us that we are fools. We should be spending the money and we should do this as quickly as possibly, 'to spur economic growth'. Our interests, as savers, conflict with the Fed's chairman interests.

The Fed should increase interest rates to promote economic optimism and prove that it values rational economic choices. Due to its massive borrowing needs, the government is another massive beneficiary of the Fed's drive to lower long term interest rates but nobody seems to care about savers.


Almost everybody in the current leadership economic circles is willing to sacrifice rational economic behaviors in favor of the 'spend more than you have' doctrines. One of the proofs lie in the fact that the US Treasury owes most of its debt to the Fed. How will the Fed pay its debt to the US Treasury if not by printing money?

Policy, credibility, collusion, and absolution deficiencies undermine the strength of the US economy and support the very existence of an institution -the Fed- that should be brought under much more public control than it is now.

I am amazed that people get worked up and angry by the individual mandate of the new health care law but do not flinch an eye at the sight of the Fed destroying the fragile beauty and strength of the banal interest rate.

What can we do to protect ourselves from the Fed's rapacious appetite to economically destroy all those of us who are savers?

Euro 2012 - Fourteenth Day

On the fourteenth day -in Warsaw- we have the first game of the quarter finals. Yesterday was a rest day and maybe UEFA does not really like to have any games on the 13th day of the tournament. Who knows?

Portugal plays Czech Republic as I am updating this article. I think Portugal will win the game by 1-0 and will be the first team to qualify to the semifinals. Czech Republic plays a 'wait and see' game and appear to be looking to want to end the game in a tie and go on to play extra time while Portugal tries to score in any which way they can.

Ronaldo, for Portugal, just scored in the 79th minute of the second half and this is how the game will end.

The game just ended and Portugal will wait until Saturday to see who the winner of the game between France and Spain will be.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Euro 2012 - Eleventh and Twelfth Days

Yesterday, in Poland (Gdansk) Spain beat a very determined Croatia 1-0 and although Spain should have scored more than one goal Croatia played very hard and had some good opportunities on counter-attacks.

In Poznan Italy beat Ireland 2-0 and this was totally expected. Italy are improving each game they play and Ireland remained the weakest team of the tournament.

Both Croatia and Ireland go home.

Spain wins group C and Italy are the runner up.

Today, in group D in Ukraine (Donetsk), England beat Ukraine 1-0 totally unfairly. Ukraine should have beaten England easily but they had no teeth. Ukraine dominated copiously and should have scored at least 2 goals before the half time whistle.

Sweden beat France 2-0 in Kiev and France showed that they are an iffy team. They can be very good but they can also be very bad. In the end, France ended up the runner up of group D, albeit barely, but that does not matter at this stage. Sweden lost 2 games and France lost only 1.

Next, in the last 2 games of the quarter finals, ITA will play ENG and FRA will play ESP. These will be awesome games.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Euro 2012 - Tenth Day

In Ukraine (Kharkiv), in group B, Portugal beat the Netherlands 2-1 and the Dutch are packing and going home with zero points.

Portugal showed that they can beat any team if they play fully and concentrate on the game

In Lviv, as expected, Germany beat Denmark 2-1 and they finish unbeaten in the group.

So GER will play GRE and CZE will play POR in the first 2 games of the quarters.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Euro 2012 - Ninth Day

Today in Poland, in Wroclaw, The Czech Republic beat Poland 1-0 in a game that showed that experience counts more than wishful thinking.

Unexpectedly, the Czech Republic finish first in Group A and will wait until tomorrow to find out who the runner-up of Group B is, as they will play them for a spot in the semifinal.

In Warsaw, Greece beat Russia 1-0 with a scrappy and lucky goal at the very end of the first half.

Greece qualified -from the second spot of the group- into the 1/8s of the tournament. They will wait until tomorrow to find out the winner of Group B whom they will play for a spot in the semifinal.

This is no doubt an incredible turn of events, considering that Russia thrashed Czech Republic 4-1 in the first game... And yet Russia will go back home and the Czech Republic finish first in the group.

Poland was in a tight spot to begin with as they have no team to speak of, so they needed plenty of luck to make it through to the 1/8s of the tournament. And they had no luck whatsoever, considering the lucidity of the other teams in group A.

I feel sorry for Poland and Russia, but these last 2 games show -once again- that pragmatism is more important than desire.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Euro 2012 - Eighth Day

In Ukraine today.

First, in Donetsk France beat Ukraine 2-0 with two second half goals that were marvelous. The game was delayed 1 hour due to rain and France was more composed, determined, and played more like ... Spain.

Ukraine was uninspired and was unable to counteract a France that played like they were champions already.

In Kiev, England beat Sweden 3-2. What a game! England took the lead 1-0. Then Sweden came back 1-1. Then Sweden took the lead 2-1 and England came back 2-2. Then England scored last for a victory in a very entertaining and vibrant game. Awesome!

England did not play great and Sweden played hard but could not finish up the game when it was 2-2. England scored with massive luck and won the game. Some games are like that, I guess. No matter how hard a team plays they still end up losing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Euro 2012 - Seventh Day

Today, in Poland, Italy played Croatia in Poznan and the game ended 1-1.

The game was a bit disappointing as Italy could have won the game and they practically made just one defensive error and Croatia promptly equalized in the second half.

The second game between Spain and Ireland was not too difficult to predict. Spain scored 4 goals and Ireland is eliminated from this competition. Spain scored the first 1 in the first half and 3 in the second half.

This game took place in Gdansk. Spain-Ireland 4-0.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Euro 2012 - Sixth Day

Back to Ukraine today.

In Lviv, Portugal played Denmark today in a very disputed game.

Ronaldo, the Portuguese super-star, was totally and utterly useless. Even without his contributions, Portugal beat Denmark 3-2. Portugal took the lead early in the first half by scoring 2 goals, but Denmark came back within reach just before half time. So, at the half it was 2-1 for Portugal.

During the second half Portugal tried to maintain the score but could not and Denmark equalized in the middle of the second half. Luckily for Portugal they managed to score the winning goal just minutes before the final whistle.

In the other game of Group B, Germany beat The Netherlands 2-1 after a very tactical game. Germany took the lead in the first half by scoring beautiful 2 goals and never let go. This game was played in Kharkiv and the Netherlands appeared tired and played without any directionality.

Germany was composed for most of the game and showed true potential to win the entire competition.

So far, Russia is the other team that showed true potential to go all the way and win the competition.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Euro 2012 - Fifth Day

The group A EURO 2012 games of today were played in Poland.

First, Greece played The Czech Republic in Wroclaw. The Czech Republic started very fast and scored 2 goals right away and the score remained that way till half time. Then Greece came back vengeful in the second half and scored a 'mercy' goal due to a massive mistake made by the Czech goalkeeper.

The final score of 2-1 for the Czech Republic appears fair. Greece must win their last game if they want to play in the elimination round. Even if they win, it is not certain that Greece will get through. The Czech Republic needs at least a tie in their last game against the co-hosts, Poland, to get through.

The second game of group A was played in Warsaw. Russia scored the first goal after a series of nice/fast passing and the game was 1-0 at half time.

At the start of the second half Poland game back roaring and scored a beautiful goal after a monumental error made by Arshavin at the other end.

Final score of the game: 1-1. This result keeps both teams' chances alive to qualify for the elimination stage. Russia seemed more deserving to win this game than Poland, no doubt.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Euro 2012 - Fourth Day

Today the games were played back in Ukraine.

France tied England in Donetsk, 1-1 while Ukraine beat Sweden 2-1 in Kiev.

In the Donetsk game France played anemic and England defended almost 90% of the time. England scored from a set piece and France scored a beautiful goal to equalize before the half.

The Kiev game was entertaining and fast with the Swedes taking over the lead in the second half and Ukraine staging an incredible comeback, even though it ended 0-0 at the half.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Euro 2012 - Third Day

Today the EURO 2012 takes us back to Poland for the first 2 games of group C.

First, Spain plays Italy in Gdansk and then Ireland plays Croatia in Poznan.

Spain should beat Italy based on past several years performances, theoretically, but I think Italy will beat Spain. After all, Spain are the reigning world and European champions.

Italia! Italia! Italia!

The Gdansk stadium is brand new and it looks amazing.

As usual, Spain started with their tiki-taka (zonal short passing) while Italy is defending like they bet their lives on this game.  (Which they may have, given what I read about il calcio italiano.)
Italy is playing very well and as I believe they will score first. as they are the more insolent of the 2 teams.

0-0 at the half, but Italy has had better chances to score than Spain. At least 3. Cassano plays incredibly well in the offense and Chiellini plays like a rock in the back.

Italy started very well the second half.

Di Natale just scored for Italy in the 61st minute. Italy-Spain 1-0.
Fabregas just equalized for Spain in the 64th minute. Italy-Spain 1-1.

The game just ended Italy-Spain 1-1.

This was a great game as Italians showed potential to win the whole tournament. Spain played very well and dominated almost every zone of the field but they did not create many goal scoring opportunities. Italians are amazingly opportunistic and play very hard with the backing of a very strong internal championship.

The next game between Ireland and Croatia was played in Poznan and Croatia beat Ireland 3-1. Dry and clear, no debate about this game.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Euro 2012 - Second Day

Today the two EURO 2012 games of Group B are being played in Ukraine.

The Netherlands plays Denmark Kharkiv, a city that I would have never thought -just a few years ago- would be host to a Euro Championship game. The weather looks perfect for soccer.

In the 24th minute of the game Denmark scored the first goal of the match with a shot through the legs of the keeper from an angle (jersey number 9, Michael Krohn-Dehli). Laser shot and sweet! It quieted a bit the Dutch fans...

The fans are exemplary and the stadium looks very cheerful on this sunny day.

I see that the game referees are wearing all black outfits which is rather unusual since black has become very unusual for the refs during the last several years. 

The start of the second half appears to be all Dutch, but Denmark seems able to absorb the pressure quite well. Maybe Denmark will score again...Denmark won the EC in 1992 and The Netherlands in 1988. Amazing.

Game is over and Denmark beat The Netherlands 1-0 (some would say that this was not expected but I thought otherwise).

Next game of Group B, between Germany and Portugal, takes place in Lviv, Ukraine. The stadium is very quaint and looks very personable. I am reading that the city is awesome. Maybe visiting it one day would be advisable.

The game just started and it is much more open of a game than the Denmark-Netherlands one. Portugal may be able to beat Germany if they are patient and play clinical. Every touch of the ball counts. Germany appears over confident.

0-0 at the half with Portugal having had the best opportunity to open up the score in the first half.

Germany just scored through Mario Gomez (jersey #23) in the 73rd minute with an awesome header across the Portuguese goal keeper. So, Germany-Portugal 1-0. Portugal appears very composed and may be able to level up. Unfortunately, Portugal's chances were all missed and the game just ended.

Final score: Germany-Portugal 1-0.

Awesome day of soccer in Ukraine.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Euro 2012 Is On!

Finally, after seemingly so many long years, I am elated to be able to watch the Euro 2012 tournament. Every game of the Euro 2012 tournament is being broadcasted live by ESPN, and I believe this is the first time it ever happened in  the US. Thank you, ESPN!

Today, Greece tied Poland (1-1) and Russia beat the Czech Republic to a pulp (4-1) (Both these games were part of group A). These two opening games were not expected to be as entertaining as they were. Typically, the first few games at most major tournaments are 'tactical' and almost boring, but not this time around.

Poland dominated the first half against Greece -and they took the lead almost midway- but Greece reacted like a 'wild weed' with instincts of immortality and managed to stage an almost amazing comeback. Greece appeared to be like a cat that  was pushed off the roof of a tall building and somehow managed to hang onto the edge of the roof, clawing on the gutters. At the start of the second half Greece just revived itself and scored the equalizer 6 minutes in. Later on, Greece even missed a PK and they could have won the game as Poland appeared to no be able to absorb the Greek pressure.

As far as the second game, it was a pure cracker. Russia behaved like a sleepy bear that allowed Czech Republic to play with toys for a while but when they stood up they immediately scored 2 goals. Czech Republic did try to react during the second half and they scored 1 but the Russian bear scored 2 more, just for fun. Amazing game!

Many 'reporters' from famous press agencies claimed that the tournament will have 'problems' related to fans' attitude towards race, poor infrastructure, price gouging, and other such non-sense issues. I think this will be a very successful tournament as both Poland and Ukraine have embraced the tournament and will show their best faces.

In addition, race related issues are pure educational; infrastructure related shortcomings are purely temporary, and price gouging is common practice in every place a major sport tournament or event takes place. See this non-sense reporting here, for instance, but many other such types of reporting abound, primarily by AFP and Reuters.

If you do no believe that this will be very successful tournament then do not watch any of it. I -for one- will watch every second of the tournament.

Friday, January 20, 2012

On the 2012 Presidential Race

Last night -Jan 19, 2012- there was a Republican presidential debate held in North Charleston, SC. According to this link and all the polls the Republican race is all but done.

As of yesterday, the Republican race has only 4 candidates left. Of these 4 only 2 are serious contenders: Romney and Gingrich.

Romney has a boatload of money held in the Cayman Islands and Gingrich has so much character and moral baggage that there is no political way for him to remain successful in this race.

I predict that Obama will be reelected in Nov in a total landslide.