Monday, March 16, 2009

The Green New Deal

The Great Depression officially ended with World War II, which resulted in the deaths of 70 million people, the Holocaust, and the Atomic bomb. The current global economic crisis will put more people (in a more crowded world) out of work and destroy more wealth than the events of the 1930s. Revolutions often begin as food riots. Signs of unrest are in the news everyday - small and often politically energized - but anti-social none-the-less. How does the current crisis end? At the April G20 Summit, UN representatives will present a "Green New Deal" agenda. The world has an opportunity to focus stimulus spending on infrastructure and technology for renewable and cleaner energy. Over $2 trillion dollars in global stimulus spending can be classified as either "Green or Clean", and perhaps more stimulus can be focused on this problem.

There are still a few people who think Global Warming is either myth or Mother Nature, and therefore does not warrant mankind's intervention. The International Conference on Climate Change, ICCC held in New York last week, attracted a few hundred attendees. Scientists who are either funded by big oil, or blinded by their data. Apparently big oil has switched agendas - at least with their advertising dollars - to a "responsible energy" mandate. The real question is not whether global warming is man-made, but rather can man-made technology be used to ameliorate what is clearly happening to our world climate-wise. If the pursuit of the answer puts people back to work, and puts the world on a path to less finite-and-dirty-oil dependency, the world will be better off. And it beats the hell out of WWIII.

BTW, useful technology also emerged from WWII: nuclear power generation, radar (which directly led to communications protocols that enable mobile telephony, commercial jet aviation, and rockets (which enable global satellite communications. The technology side effects of the Green New Deal may not be realized for decades.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Google is watching what you watch

In the news today, Google will use your web surfing and YouTube video selections to create a profile that will allow advertisers to target you for search-based ads. Naysayers, Luddites and worry-warts will cry 'Big Brother' but hey, Big Brother is coming whether you cry or not. And we will welcome him with open arms because stuff we do gets easier and more relevant to our needs. Behavioral targeting is a good thing. And it will move into other aspects of our media consumption. Calero Media Systems develops IP for making advertisements you view on TV, relevant to the media you watch on TV. In other words your personal interests affect what products are pushed on you. If I watch "24" on Fox, or the "The Unit" on CBS, I am probably not a customer for "Depend". And therefore, I neither benefit from nor want to see the commercial. (I also don't want to see commercials for "Flomax", even though I am a 55+ male with a prostate inflating like a circus balloon, I want to get medical information from my doctor, not the Ad Agency that just ran the "Depend" commercial).

On the other hand, if I search for "Depend" (which I had to do to create the link above) then Google now thinks that I "might" be interested in male incontinence. Just because Big Brother is watching, doesn't mean he is paying attention.

Watching what you watch is how you get to watch for free.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Werewolves of London

The CEO of AIG and Ben Bernanke blamed AIG's problems on the "FP division in London" - the group responsible for placing bad bets with credit default swaps. Bets that US taxpayers have made good on to the tune of $160B and counting. Warren Zevon was prescient.

He's the hairy, hairy gent, who ran amok in Kent.
Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair.
You better stay away from him, he'll rip your lungs out Jim.
Huh, I'd like to meet his tailor.

Aaahoo, werewolves of London

Extending the metaphor, is this the modern day Dr. Frankenstein?

Mark C. Brickell is the CEO and a director of Blackbird Holdings, a global trading system for privately negotiated derivatives. Widely regarded as a leader in the derivatives industry, Mr. Brickell joined Blackbird after twenty-five years at J.P. Morgan, where he most recently served as a managing director. During his time at J.P. Morgan, Mr. Brickell helped to build one of the world’s foremost derivatives businesses and supported the growth and advancement of the global derivatives industry while helping to shape a more favorable public policy environment. From 1988 to 1992, Mr. Brickell also served as chairman of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association; he was vice chairman for two years and on the board for more than a decade. He was part of the team that authored the influential 1993 Group of Thirty study, Derivatives: Practices and Principles, and has served on the board of directors of First Command since 2006.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nationalize California

A going concern becomes insolvent when financial obligations exceed assets. Chapter 11, Title 11 is the preferred alternative to simply folding the tent. When the "concern" is the 8th largest economy in the world, folding the tent is not an option. The California budget resolution recently passed in Sacramento and now up for public approval will not solve California's endemic, systemic problems. We are destined to revisit this crisis again and again.

Nancy Pelosi, chief "pirate" on the high seas of Congress has brought $30B of (stimulus) treasure to her state. This will certainly help, but it won't solve our problems. The Federal government is invoking a virtual Chapter 11 on banks, Big 3 auto makers, and AIG - with bailout money. He who brings the money, makes the new rules. So why not do the same with the State of California. Force us to do what we cannot do: restructure the constitution and eliminate the referendum propositions that confound "government by representation". Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger promised to clean up the "special interest" groups that defy progress but he has failed. Meg Whitman, running for Governor in 2010, has taken up the torch to make California business friendly. But that will never happen as special interests are "ordained and empowered" by numerous Amendments, Propositions, and a perpetual gridlocked assembly.