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Showing posts from 2008

Asian Flu

In the past few days we have received confirmation that our thesis regarding Asia is playing out rapidly. The data come from Japan and Korea - both heavily industrialized exporters and relatively open societies. While we have been very bearish on Asian economies here at Financial Jenga, the rapid pace of the implosion even surprises us.

Japan will soon report 4th quarter GDP and the estimates are moving fast - an in a really frightening manner. Bloomberg reports that Barclays now is estimating that Japan's economy contracted at over 12% annualized in Q4. This would be the worst result since the Arab oil embargo of 1974. Korea reported a similarly disastrous result for November industrial production. The YoY decline of 14.1% was the worst on record - with data going back to 1970. Understand that the textbook definition of depression is a 10% fall in GDP - and both Japan and Korea are already on pace to do so in a year or less.

We do not yet have any numbers this bad from China but we…

Submerging Market Update

note: This post was begun some time ago and the date-time stamp reflects the initial draft. The bulk of the data has been added since then.


China: The Collapse Begins
Chinese exports are collapsing and industrial activity with it. Recent reports suggest that they are experiencing mass factory shutdowns with owners and manager absconding. According to the BBC, migrant workers from rural areas are returning to their homes in the countryside en masse. Those watching the media would think that an shocking collapse came out of nowhere in the last few weeks. Readers of Financial Jenga have known that this was not just possible but virtually inevitable for many months.

China could spend some of their dollars but they need to keep at least $1 trillion so the Yuan doesn't completely crash and burn. The interesting problem is the currency mismatch and "sterilization" issues. China's money supply growth is going to fall quickly as there will be fewer incoming dollars against which…

Some Key Questions

The most important question facing us today, both in the US and around the world is just how much of our supposed wealth is real and how much was part of the illusion generated by bubble-mania and the UDB. Most of the actions of various governments and CBs seem aimed at preventing us from answering this question accurately. In The Limits of Optimism we outlined the various elements of the capital structure and it should be immediately apparent why the stock market is the chosen instrument for conjuring chimeras. By coercing a larger and larger percentage of accumulated capital into stocks, Wall Street ensured a large pool of buyers to continue pushing prices higher in complete defiance of fundamentals. By allowing so much of our wealth accumulation to be attached to something so insubstantial, we have collectively ensured the destruction of much of that wealth. Something that falls as soon as anyone wants to sell isn't much of an investment.

Now we see some of the real world impact…

A Little Credit

That really is all that is available in the debt markets today and the consequences are obvious. At the same time, we'd like to claim a little credit for calling the direction and - to some extent the magnitude of this crisis. We felt that these (then pending) consequences were obvious 18-24 months ago. In fact, one of the first posts on this blog in August 2007 noted:

Today's actions by the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve confirm that the real threat is DEFLATION - not inflation. Central Banks don't pump $150 billion dollars into the banking system because they are afraid of creating too much money.Again this June:

That is where we are now. The Fed has failed. The Great Oz has been exposed a just a man behind the curtain. Prepare for severe credit deflation and falling asset prices in markets that traditionally use leverage to purchase or hold positions.For years massive credit inflation raged unchecked and asset prices soared as the pool of buying power incre…

Hahha Speaking of Lamborghinis...

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A Really Badass Story

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Today is a day that shall live in the annuals of HISTORY! No, a harbor was not bombed by those sneaky Japanese, or something stupid like that. My Mercedes C280 (chassis code w202) defied physics.

My car was not started in over two months, and upon last being driven, the car was deemed to need two things, gas and brakes. My Merc is a legend, for it is in the Savemybenz.com Parthenon of Badass for going ridiculously fast in an epic race. So here is the deal, my tank was basically empty. Nothing. Zilch. It had as much gas as Paris Hilton has talent. (At non sexual favors that is...if it was her talents in that arena, the car could of equaled Saudi Arabia)
MMM Carls Jr. ... MMM as much talent as the Merc had gas. Not the first time she had that much meat in her mouth... BOO YAH! (Ok I'm done...)

It started right up, and drove quite nicely for a car with 107,000 miles on it... I have no idea how it drove. It made it to the gas station just fine and dandy. So thats pretty badass. Here is …

The Lamborghini Diablo

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This car is badass:
Eat your heart out Baskin Robins...
It comes in a variety of flavors from its eleven year (eleven years! shit!) production run, and is just badass overall. The Murciélago in our hearts was never a worthy successor of this beast, but Lambo's Reventón may just fit the bill. Just a thought.
This ass puts this lower one to shame (and is probably a whole lot cleaner too):


She is known for having a big ass and a Sex Tape! The Lamborghini Diablo is known for being really, really badass!

When you turn your car on, does it return the favor? Hell No Bitch!

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Apparently my Mercedes C280 is supposed to give me a boner when I turn it on. Apparently we are under some unwritten contract that when I ignite its engine, it is supposed to ignite my loins.

See?




Lets get one thing out of the way. This girl, Kate Walsh, is hot. I do not watch Grey's Anatomy, or have any desire to see McSteamy, McDreamy, McPedophile, or Mc Hammer, but she is quite the babe.

See?She can check out my anatomy any day! Boo Yah!

But- hot Kate Walsh aside, I just don't think its hot for me to be getting turned on in my car, by my car. Her, yes. Me, no. My hairy ass should not get aroused steering 2000lbs of sheet metal, leather and burled wood around my dinky suburban landscape. If it did get all hot and bothered by the simple act of starting my car, then I think i'd be suffering from nymphomania, and probably get into a couple of accidents. Enough of my Seinfeld-esque ranting, long story short- Cadillac, if I buy your CTS, actresses from girly hit primetime tv show…

This is Awesome

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This deserves to be shared- an advertising war:







The Bentley Ad is fake, but funny nonetheless.

Now the question is- who won? BMW struck first, but Audi kind of grabbed BMW by the balls. Suburu's counter was out of left field, but witty nonetheless.

CP to FRB ICU ASAP!

The commercial paper market certainly appears to be critically wounded. The seasonally-adjusted amount of CP has fallen dramatically since mid-September. Per the Federal Reserve the declines over the last three weeks:

September 17: -$52.1 billion
September 24: - $61.0 billion
October 1: -$94.9 billion

Headlines emphasizing funding cutoffs to companies in the real economy, like Caterpillar and A&T are highly misleading. Non-financial CP took a single hit of $18 billion ($217 billion to $199 billion) two weeks ago and has hardly budged since. The REAL story is the collapse of CP issued by banks and other financial companies. Domestic financial paper is down by $93 billion ($590 billion to $497 billion); foreign financial paper fell $40 billion ($225 billion to $185 billion, down 20%!); asset-backed paper is off $55 billion ($780 billion to $725 billion).

We have seen record withdrawals from money market recently, which has led to falling demand for commercial paper - which is usually pur…

24 Heures du LeMons

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I don't know about you, but we here at the Autoblog love the 24h of LeMons. Case in point:

Yes. That is a fucking Pontiac Fiero.. in Alitalia racing colors!! Fuck Yea!
In case you are not familiar, the 24 hours...or as those surrendering cheese eaters the french say, heures du LeMons is an endurance race for cars under $500 before safety gear. 500 bucks and you can enter....race for 24 hours, and win $1500 paid in...NICKELS! The winner of this year's race did 2000 laps in a Toyota Supra without a hood. The Alitalia Fiero pictured above ran a respectable 679 laps. This is the greatest race in the world. Hands down.

What the F?

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....As the title says- Wat the F?!

The Limits of Optimism

The absurd actions of our financial authorities continue to impress with the sheer hubris and vast scale of their proposals - with today's bailout attempt being the latest and greatest of many attempts. Some of the government's contortions would be impressive even for Cirque du Soleil were they not such a blatant effort to distort the market. Our nation and the world at large seem to be living out the economic equivalent of a Kafka novel today. Yet even here we see the boundaries of government interference and the limits of (unjustified) optimism. As advocates of the free market and rule of law, we have been constantly appalled. A nominally Republican administration continually interferes with market forces and changes investment rules in the middle of the game. How did we come to such a sad pass?

Like many children, yours truly had a favorite word for much of his childhood - "Why?" Eventually, I stopped bothering Mother but never stopped asking the question. It is …

Shadow Banks, Shadow Government

Here at Financial Jenga, we don't often comment directly on politics - being much more inclined towards economics. We are also equally skeptical of both groupthink and conspiracy theories - which tend to be opposite sides of the same psychological coin. However, the sheer scale of the current crisis and many of the proposed solutions make this problem inherently political. It would also appear that many of the "fixes" being bandied about won't actually fix anything but WILL benefit certain politically-connected parties.

There is considerable evidence that the proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street will do little to fix the credit problems. One of the key arguements used by supporters is that banks don't have enough money to keep lending. This is simply a lie. The latest Fed H.3 report shows that excess reserves in the banking system were $68.8 billion as of 9/24/08. This is 1400% above any other datapoint for the past year and more than 2000% higher than the…

Chrysler Shocks the Shit out of the Autoworld!

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No pun intended- Chrysler literally shocked the auto world with this:See that beast in the middle? This - This is Chrysler's savior.
Now- the Autoblog is not one to gloat, but....remember this?? HA! We called it! The next K-car isn't a shitty compact sedan- but a badass sports car! Look at the Viper-esque styling! This beast is based on the Lotus Europa's underpinnings, and man does it show!!
Look at the badass color schemes! While Ford and Chevy were getting off on their hybrid vehicles,Chrysler took the incredibly badass route and waited until they had tangible options to show. Holy shit. These cars were developed in secret too. In the age of the mass media and internet- they developed multiple cars, a multi-stage process, in near total secracy. Wow. The Autoblog doesn't even have some witty smartass remark for this. We are truely impressed. Here is thy savior Chrysler! May it work out!

A Little History Lesson in Badass

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Back in the day, this crazy guy named William Kissam Vanderbilt II started an international race called...ready? The Vanderbilt Cup!Willy K- This guy got more puss then you'd ever get
The first race took place in 1904, according to Wikipedia, aka the most reliable source in the world. People such as Louis Chevrolet and Scuderia Ferrari raced, along with the poon magnet Willie k himself. This wasn't a pussy Nascar race either- no driving around circles. Willy was nuts. Willie k wanted to drive around 30 miles of dirt roads in Nassau County. Now, if anyone else wanted to do this, the town government would of shit in their cereal, but since he was a Vanderbilt, they decided to let it slide.

In one of those cars, Willie K is getting more poon then you'd ever get
"But Autoblog- that isn't badass?! A bunch of guys with pedophile mustaches driving around a shitty suburb? Please..." is what you are thinking.

It is the mission of the Autoblog to purge you of your ignora…

HA! High-end Auto makers are dicks!

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Hah now this is fucking funny:
http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com
/2008/09/16/check-the-timing-belt-on-these-luxury-cars/

So, as the economy tanked this week, there was a lovely auto show called Motorexpo in front of Merrill Lynch. As people walked with their heads down in shame and money hemorrhaging out of their asses, they got to see Rolls, Aston and Bentleys that they can no longer afford! What a nice way to start the day for the average white collar schmuck who is fearing their job security! Hah congrats high-end Auto makers! You are the dicks of the week!

Hmm. We can't afford THIS anymore. Guess we'll go shoot ourselves now!

Its funny though, this thing was planned months in advance, and these automakers had no idea that the economy would take a collective shit, but they are being called insensitive anyway. Regardless of these silly things called "facts"- it is fucking hysterical. Any opinions avid readers?! Leave them in the comments section.

Frederick the Great vs. Hank Paulson

This is total panic time. They're now firing off everything that they have after the first several attempts at an options expiration week stick save failed badly. Basically, the Treasury is guaranteeing virtually everything now with backstops for money market mutual funds and a new super SIV for bad assets. But as Fredrick the Great said: "He who defends everything, defends nothing!" This was a simple acknowledgement of military reality - concentrate on protecting the most important assets. Spreading yourself too thin invites defeat in detail and the destruction of your forces. Then the enemy can loot at leisure.

The government seemingly doesn't understand this but they will. There simply isn't the money to do everything and in their arrogance the Fed and Treasury have over-reached badly. By trying to save all of the bankrupt financial companies, they are weakening the defenses of the strategic key - Treasury debt. The bond market is already demanding 50 basis poi…

Porsche wants to have it's way with Volkswagen

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So- I dunno if you avid readers have time lately to check out automotive news, but besides the massive economic collapse of America, there is other big news:

Porsche is in the process of acquiring Volkswagen!
Das People's CarThe People's Champion! What is very funny is that Volkswagen is saying that Porsche is "pushy". Germans, being pushy? No Shit! Who wouldadunkit?! C'mon Volkswagen grow a set of balls and do one of two things. Defend yourself, and do not be bought out, or let Porsche marry you in the classic arranged 18th century way. Well, regardless, maybe the Beetle will have a sick water-cooled turbo flat six now.
Just Pretend, for a second, that this thing has a Porsche Engine. It is both a sickening and awesome thought.
That would be cool. Really cool. Or maybe Brooke Sheilds will become the office spokeswomen for the 911! Whats more badass than the bitch from Blue Lagoon promoting a 911?! Is this move good for Porsche? Will they still be badass with all of …

World's First 8 Speed Tranny... man that sounds wrong

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Lexus recently introduced the world's first 8 speed transmission. Or tranny. Hah- Tranny. Yes the autoblog made the same joke twice.

Lexus' new transmission
Now, we here at the Autoblog are all for the comfort and shit, but 8 speeds? Is that necessary? Why? I don't get it- someone explain why not 6, 7 but 8 is what is sufficient?

Anyway, you avid readers probably noticed why the Autoblog is now...Das Autoblog. Why? Well, why the hell not? German words look cooler, sound cooler and are cooler. Except for Schnitzal. That word is not cool. Just say sausage. Anyway- The Autoblog would like to ask you, the avid readers what do you think of this newfangled 8 speed tranny? (hah that never gets old). Use the comments section! We want feedback! We work to serve you! Ok thats bullshit, but comment none the less!


The Fed is Broke

Three months ago we published Why Bennie Can't Lend, detailing the Fed's balance sheet and the limitations they were up against. We contended that they were out of cash and unable to sell their bond holdings without serious consequences. That is why their incremental actions have been limited to the TSLF, where they loan out the actual bonds rather than cash. Today, the Fed admitted that we were right all along by arranging for the US Treasury to raise more money for them so they can keep lending via the alphabet soup of liquidity facilities.

The Federal Reserve has announced a series of lending and liquidity initiatives during the past several quarters intended to address heightened liquidity pressures in the financial market, including enhancing its liquidity facilities this week. To manage the balance sheet impact of (ed. - ie. pay for) these efforts, the Federal Reserve has taken a number of actions, including redeeming and selling securities from the System Open Market…

Happy 100 Years GM!

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Happy 100 Years GM! The Autoblog salutes you and your many accomplishments during your 100 years in the auto industry. You gave us all the greatest hits from Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and the Corvette! You brought the small block V8 into the limelight. Your stock may be in the shitter, and you may almost be unrelevant in your own domestic market, but long live pushrod V8s (which are still friggin' badass. They eat competitors for breakfast) !But most importantly GM, the Autoblog would like to thank you for this:


This car rivals the Lamborghini Countach in terms of styling.

The 1983-84 Chevrolet Celebrity Wagon! This is the pinnacle of auto achievment! The car so nice you had to own it twice! This beast was equipped with a base 2.5L I-4 engine that produces an astonishing 85 HP. The Iron Duke engine was truely the heart of this car. If you got the Eurosport appearance package, you got sick handling/appearance upgrades. Did we mention that the Celebrity was the cousin to the badass Ponti…

We love BMW

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The Autoblog needs to come clean about something. We love BMW. We are extremely biased. Why? Well, today's flavor of the day is this:

Look at that dual kidney grill. Mmm fuck yeah

Do you guys remember the 7 series from Tomorrow Never Dies? Well, that was a really badass 7 series. Ok, so it was ten years ago, so howabout the Transporter's 7? That was more recent. The current generation 7 is not in the same line of badassery as these two iterations. Well, turns out that the new the 7 series is a bad ass luxo cruiser. This new Bimmer packs a twin turbocharged V8 that has 400 hp and 442 lb/ft of torque. Jesus Christ, I just shit myself. Also....get ready for this one kids- iDrive is dead. Deader than JFK Jr. (Too soon? Yes! Tasteless, yes!) The throne is returned to the 7!
Bmw blows the competition away!!!!

The CTS-V Punches old people in the face!

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Apparently, the all new Cadillac CTS-V dethroned the M5 in this month's Road and Track. It was an even match that took place at Monticello, NY, and both manufacters sent their drivers and teams to represent themselves. It was quite a hellicous race with results that impressed us here at the Autoblog until we realized the following: The M5 is three years old, and the CTS-V is well, all new. Wow. Thats like punching the shit out of your grandma than striking a badass pose.
The CTS-V punching the BMW in the face. Yea it won, but is it truely a victory?
Grandma abuse aside, the Cadillac is by no means a pushover. Actually, it is a friggin' monster. Look at the specs. It sports the rather epic 6.2 L LSA V8 that generates 556hp and rockets the Caddy from 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.

Its cute...for a grandma puncher

The M5 has the 5.5L V10 that produces 505hp, and was hailed by Jeremy Clarkson after pressing the M button: "the car stops being annoying, and becomes, just magnificent." T…

Two Badass Sleeper Cars

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The Autoblog is a regular contributor to the C/D forums, and I found this little thread:
http://forums.caranddriver.com
/auto/board/message?board.id=8&message.id=11742#M11742

German Luxury Sedans are normally not known for their subtle hints at granduer. However, with their larger size, these rides are often soft and cushy. These cars however are not soft and cushy. These cars will tear you a new one before you even realize that a car can, in fact, tear you a new one.

The E55 AMGStealth Level: Four Ninjas out of Five.
This car is friggin' sweet. Recently covered in this months Car and Driver, the 1997-2002 E55 AMG is subtle power. It is the automotive equivalent of a UFC fighter whose day job happens to be a middle management boss. At the Gap. It has the 5.5L V8 that produces 347hp, and 355 lb/ft torque, with 0-60 in the sub 6 second range. Impressive indeed for a car that is older. And oh so sneaky. Compare it to this:This car is as subtle as an RPG up your ass. Which isn't ne…

The new NSX? I think not!

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This is a good looking car. However, it has shit on this. Call us old fashioned.


The NSX has been dead for almost four years, and with its absence, it has left a mid-engined void in the near supercar realm. The Audi R8 fits the slot, but it is not the same dammit. Recently though, talk is arising about a mysterious Acura that has been circling the Nurburgring:
http://www.edmunds.com
/insideline/do/GeneralFuture/articleId=120921

There are some quite notable differences between this new monster and the classic NSX. The NSX was Honda/Acura's mid-engined masterpiece, while this next car has a front engine set up. The NSX had a V6 engine that towards the end of its run produced 292 hp and 224 lb/ft of torque. This new model has a substainally more powerful 550hp 5.5L V10.
What the fuck?! Jesus Christ! Those crazy Japanese!
I googled "Crazy Japanese" and got this returned to me. Good thing I had safe search on... god knows what would of turned up.

Also, in a quite ballsy move, they a…

Woah, a cool Lincoln!

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Attention Autoblog Readers! Lincoln is relevant!

Well, with Ford in the shitter (although not in Europe), this little car surprised me:
Behold! The Lincoln MKS! Apparently these guys produce more than a Towncar these days. This car is quite capable of saving Lincoln. Priced at under $38,000, this car is rather German in style. And look at the blingy grille. Man. Babes love chrome. Powered by a more powerful version of the Duratec 3.5 L V6 that has been in almost every Ford recently. Making 275hp at 6,200rpm, it isn't slow, and soon a twin turbocharged 3.5L is coming, making 340 hp. Shit. The Lincoln has balls too. This car has the ability to turn Lincoln around, the question is though, is it too late? We shall see readers, we shall see!
He is totally saying "I shall buy one TOMORROW!"

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X

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Well, well, well, if it isn't Mitsubishi, the company that brought us such hits like the Outlander, Galant, and Eclipse (which by the way is totally a chick car...typically a hot chick's car.) Back in the day, Mitsubishi used to be the shit, but more recently here in the US they are on a bit of hard times. With that being said, enter the Lancer.That front end is aggressive. Aggressive is badass. Thus, the Lancer's front end, is badass!
I am impressed Mitsubishi. Very impressed. This is a very good looking car. Since you are reading this blog, I am sure that you know the Lancer's rich Rally past. So the question is, the car looks badass, but how does it drive?

Wonderfully. The Lancer is a testament to AWD. The car has so many options in terms of differential and suspension settings, I am surprised that this baby doesn't wipe your ass at the push of a knob. With the impressive 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds, and about 360hp in the UK version (why do we get 291hp? Apparently …

The Mercedes C63 is Bat Shit Crazy

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While the Autoblog's parent website (www.savemybenz.com) is mainly about a Mercedes C280, the Autoblog must be unbiased when commenting on the automotive world! With that out of the way, the new Mercedes C 63 is fucking crazy. Not even like good "let's do it in the church when no one is around" crazy. It is the "As we do it I'll murder the shit out of you" kind of crazy.
Like every hot, crazy girl you may meet, this one fuck your shit up. (not in the good way)

Do you know how many horsepower this monster has? 451. The advertisements state that giving a car 400hp is nuts, so they gave it 451hp. Its true. Isn't that messed up?! On top of that, the power from the 6.3 L V8 is transferred directly to the rear wheels, and you have the ability to switch ESP off. In creating this monster, Mercedes had the M3 in their sights, and boy did they hit their mark. In all the comparo tests in the auto magazines, the M3 won (it is the darling of the automotive world,…

GM and Chrysler are on the shitlist

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http://reviews.cnet.com
/8301-13746_7-10024776-48.html

What the fuck GM? Pontiac is no longer going to be RWD exclusive? Do you guys at GM see that something is positively received, and than proceed to take a shit on it? I wish you cancer of the eyes.


As for Chrysler- may your first born infant die in a plague that rivals Moses'. As Automotive News reported earlier, they may be selling off the Dodge Viper, but it is under "strategic review." Here is a strategy to consider Chrysler- Don't be such a fucktard and sell off an American Icon!
I hope this has its way with all of the Chrysler executives wives while their kids watch.
Harsh? Probably. Necessary? Why of course!