FDIC games

How is this even remotely okay?

[I]t appears the FDIC will ask for three years of assessments in advance, or about $36 billion according to Reuters. The advantage to the banks of prepaying assessments (as opposed to another special assessment) is the banks don’t have to record the expense immediately.

Need any further evidence that the FDIC is out of money? So, the banks will prop up their insurance fund by $36 billion, but will pretend they’ve still got the cash so they don’t fail and cause the fund to be drawn down. Yeah, that should work great!

I find that $36 billion to be interesting in light of how my calculations currently have the FDIC Deposit Insurance Fund’s pre-assessment balance around -14.8 billion as of last Friday, assuming that the ratio of actual losses to estimated losses is still running at the second quarter’s 1.69 rather than the first quarter’s 1.91. Since there was a $14 billion difference between my calculation and the FDIC quarterly report thanks to the second-quarter assessment, this suggests that the reason the Fed wants to collect advance assessments is because the fund has run out even on a post-assessment basis. I wonder, however, why they don’t want to tap their credit line as everyone had assumed they would.

One interesting theory is that the reason the FDIC bank closures have suddenly slowed down of late – three in two weeks – is that they are having problems coming up with the cash to cover the losses.

UPDATE – Make that $45 billion upfront. In cash, please. And you can be certain that losses will reach $100 billion long before 2013; they’ve already blown through $50 billion in three quarters this year.

This is a joke, right?

This disinterest in communication not only smacks of reprehensible irresponsibility on the part of the present inhabitant of the White House, but outrageous farce:

“I’ve talked to the president, since I’ve been here, once on a VTC ,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal told CBS reporter David Martin in a television interview that aired Sunday.

“You’ve talked to him once in 70 days?” Mr. Martin followed up.

“That is correct,” the general replied.

I’ve been an advocate of bringing the troops home from the occupied countries since 2004, but even if I hadn’t been, they must be brought home immediately now. If the titular Commander-in-Chief can’t be bothered to even talk to the freaking commanding general, this farcical pretense of playing at war must immediately stop. American soldiers deserve far better than to be shipped off to play mercenary globocop / political pawn while their so-called commander ignores them. Every military family with men stationed in the theater should be furious about this incredible abdication of responsibility.

There was never any serious doubt that the war in Afghanistan would ultimately fail, but this is downright insane. It also appears to conclusively settle the question about Obama’s fitness for office. And if you know anything about military etiquette, you’ll recognize that Gen. McChrystal is flashing a subtle, but perfectly clear signal regarding his opinion of his civilian superior here.

Evading the obvious

Steve Sailer points out the salient point that is never discussed whenever the topic of immigration is broached:

Immigration is probably the single broadest, deepest, most intellectually challenging topic in all of public policy. There’s no knottier or more significant question you can ask than: When the government elects a new people, how many and whom should it elect?

The harsh reality is that everyone, including the most starry-eyed immigrant enthusiast who thinks Guatemalans emit vibrant rainbows instead of methane and jihad-sworn Saudis merely want their shot at the American Dream of a white picket fence and 2.5 wives, believes in limits on immigration. There is no way that anyone is going to cheerfully permit 300 million Chinese to immigrate next year, so the conversation isn’t actually about whether to limit immigration or not, but rather, which immigrants and how many them will be permitted entry. As the old joke goes, we’ve already established what the lady is, now we’re just haggling over the price.

Given the way that many immigrant cultures have actively conspired to significantly modify Constitutional WASP America to suit their foreign preferences, it appears likely that history will eventually judge much of the immigration that was permitted in the previous century to have been a tremendous mistake. And it appears even more likely that this current wave of immigration from the Third World will work about as well for America as Visigothic immigration did for the Roman Empire.

WND column

Evolution, Economics, and Evil

The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics
Michael Shermer
Rating: 7 of 10

It is no secret that I hold a rather low opinion of various books produced by a few well-known atheists. Without exception, they are riddled with factual ignorance, easily demonstrable illogic and fraudulent appeals to science. While Michael Shermer is every bit the atheist that Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins are, his scientific expertise happens to be applicable to his subject matter and his approach is entirely different. And unlike the New Atheists, Shermer makes intelligent use of both science and logic in utilizing various aspects of evolutionary theory to consider homo economicus.

By the way, something that I didn’t manage to work into the column was Shermer’s articulation of “Darwin’s Dictum”, which he developed from a letter Darwin wrote to Henry Fawcett.

“About thirty years ago there was much talk that geologists ought only to observe and not theorize, and I well remember someone saying that at this rate a man might as well go into a gravel-pit and count the pebbles and describe the colours. How odd it is that anyone should not see that all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!

Shermer writes: “This quote was the centerpiece of the first of my monthly columns for Scientific American, in which I elevated it to a principle I call “Darwin’s Dictum,” as identified in the final clause: all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service. Darwin’s Dictum encodes the philosophy of science of this book: if observations are to be of any use they must be tested against some view—a thesis, model, hypothesis, theory, or paradigm. Since the facts never just speak for themselves, they must be interpreted through the colored lenses of ideas—percepts need concepts. Science is an exquisite blend of data and theory—percepts and concepts—that together form the bedrock for the foundation of science, the greatest tool ever devised for understanding how the world works. We can no more separate our theories and concepts from our data and percepts than we can find a truly objective Archimedean point—a god’s eye view—of ourselves and our world.

I found this to be an intriguing perspective, especially in light of the vociferous claims of science’s pure objectivity made so often by those who fetishize it. It tends to raise two questions, of course. In service to what, or to whom? And by what standard are competing interpretations of the same facts to be judged?