Background Information

I started this Blog in February of 2012–shortly after I retired.  My intentions are to write about literally anything and everything. Although I spent my entire career in the Financial Services Industry, I have had many other experiences in my life.  I tend to be somewhat philosophical–perhaps a people-watcher and an observer–but, I have always thought that a person should take a little from everything they do, everywhere they go and everyone they meet with on Life’s Voyage.

Lately, however, I have been taking a different approach as to what I write in my Blog, and how I do it.  I have been focusing more on: writing essays; some editorial analysis; ideas from a longer-term perspective and, perhaps, a more comprehensive point-of-view. Unlike the Mass Media, which is burdened with word counts and on-air minutes, I can go into more detail.  But, only if it makes sense, and I wish to get my thoughts out there.  If you find a particular Post boring, just scroll on; however, if you agree, disagree or like what I wrote, please send a Comment–either way.

I have always thought of myself as somewhat of an International Person; so, you will find many topics about events or ideas from far beyond the shores that separate America from the World beyond.  I hope that you will like what you read–agree or disagree with–and if not, thanks for stopping by.

*************

Throughout this Blog, you will notice a re-occurring theme: Make Peace, not War.  Young Men (and, now Women) shed blood and die in War (on both sides), General Officers establish Careers and Old Men (Corporate Profiteers) generate unseemly returns.  During my 4 1/2 years in the U. S. Army, after Infantry OCS, I was Commissioned in Military Intelligence, spent one and a half years in Vietnam and, then, one year at the General Headquarters, in Arlington, Va., for our Intelligence Agency.  So, I saw Communications Intelligence (“COMINT”) and Security (COMSEC) from both ends of the Spectrum.  At that time, I was still too Young and Foolish to realize the Dangers of War.  Now, I know better.

Wars should only be fought as an absolute last resort.  Take care of the returning Troops–Men and Women–by all means.  But, let’s stop building those Monuments to War, and use those funds to Celebrate Peace!   Create scholarships, establish international forums for civilians and academia, form projects for people to work together in worthwhile efforts , etc.   And most certainly, keep the Defense Industry Lobbyists out of the Pentagon and the Halls of Congress.  

NOTE:  I generally like to Email new followers, to welcome them, and to suggest that, as diverse as my topics tend to run, don’t leave if one doesn’t pique your interest—just click onto something else.  And leave a Comment, if you wish; because, a little respectful give-and-take can be enlightening fort all.

Without an Email address, or a “Contact Us” box on your blog/site, I cannot welcome you personally; because, perhaps due to my communications intelligence background, I do not engage in social media.  Just the “Unsocial” variety–direct contact.

  1. #1 by Patrick on September 25, 2014 - 6:51 AM

    Well said, particualrly the last paragraph.

  2. #2 by John Michael Brummer on January 3, 2015 - 10:48 AM

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/03/opinion/betting-on-default.html?emc=edit_th_20150103&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=54422556 This is what I hate the US for. Those stupid republicans, they’re just crooks! Why are their followers so naive?

    • #3 by cheekos on January 3, 2015 - 3:59 PM

      John Michael, Eric Hoffer, in his book “The True Believer” suggested that there are people who, based on their own insecurities, need a cause to follow. He further asserted that it might not matter what that cause is, they just need somehow to follow it.

      To my way of thinking, such people become intrigued by the emotion of the situation, rather than as to whether there is any rational reason as to why that particular movement makes sense, in general, or even would be in their own best interests.

      In Europe, in the 1930s, there were people who were involved in the early Nazi marches. Hitler’s cohorts intrigued the Masses by pointing out what was wrong with the political order of the day. They therefore agreed and followed “their “Dream”, without considering what that Movement would replace the government and society with. When they woke-up, it was too late!

      Now, some of the same (latter day, perhaps) Westerners, who travelled to Syria to fight, are realizing what the Islamic State truly is. It is not a Religious Movement, but an excuse to enslave people, become human traffickers and steal oil. And now. IS is killing those “Jihadists” who have become disillusioned and are trying to return home. “Rally ’round the Flag, boys!”

      In the states, there are people who fail to see how new Voter Rights Laws, which are acknowledged by many voters as being rational, can be an obstruction to some Voters’ legal rights. What’s could possibly be wrong with asking for a driver’s license when someone votes? Well, how about if you are too old, too poor or to disabled to drive? Why would those people have licenses?

      Similarly, George W. Bush, when he invaded Baghdad in 2003, promised that HE was going to take Democracy to Iraq. That sounds good enough for most Americans! But, think about it, who are we, a country not quite 250 years old, telling another–some 6,000 years old–what kind of government they needed? And in doing so, he upset the Fragile Balance-of-Power that existed–between Iraq and Iran–at that time. And, that led to another Mass Movement–Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!

    • #4 by cheekos on December 27, 2016 - 2:35 PM

      Mr. Brunner, if you thought that Bush 43 followers were naive, as the old phrase goes: “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” Agree?

  3. #5 by John Michael Brummer on January 4, 2015 - 10:37 PM

    Sorry to cause confusion. With your comment above I fully agree. Many commentators, even in the US are beginning to see this major error of the George Bush era. But I tried to focus your attention to another subject which I thought I could adress under the tab “Background Information”, by lack of your direct e-mail adress in this website.

    Please read this article from NYT (this is where my link reffered to):

    “The Opinion Pages | Editorial
    Betting on Default

    By THE EDITORIAL BOARDJAN. 2, 2015

    Imagine a lender demanding that you miss a payment. That is the situation described in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. In 2013, GSO Capital Partners, the debt-investing arm of the private equity firm the Blackstone Group, refused to renew a $122.3 million loan to the Spanish gambling company Codere unless it delayed paying interest on other existing debt. Why? It turns out that GSO had placed a bet that Codere’s existing debt would not be paid on time. When, lo and behold, the payment was late, GSO collected on its bet.

    The bet in this scenario was a credit default swap, in which one party to the transaction — say, a bank, hedge fund, insurer or other institutional investor — agrees to pay the other party in the event of a bond default. Credit default swaps, a type of derivative, can be used to hedge against losses on bonds that investors own, or to speculate on how the underlying companies will perform.

    If this sounds familiar, it should. In the years leading up to the financial crisis, banks and investors gorged on toxic mortgage bonds that were supposedly “insured” against loss with credit default swaps. When the bonds went bad, many swaps turned out to be worthless as well, necessitating bailouts to cushion catastrophic losses.

    The Dodd-Frank financial reform law was supposed to curb speculation in swaps. But as The Journal has reported, hedge funds are increasingly using swaps to wager on whether weak firms will live or die. RadioShack, the troubled consumer electronics retailer, is one of several prominent examples. In December, RadioShack’s total debt came to about $1.4 billion, but swaps outstanding on the performance of the debt totaled $23.5 billion. Similarly, J.C. Penney, the ailing department store chain, had total debt of some $8.7 billion, but swaps outstanding on the debt totaled $19.3 billion.

    Those gaps suggest excessive speculation, though it is hard, if not impossible, to gauge the precise exposure of funds to big losses. What is known is that a hedge fund that is betting on a company’s default has an incentive to push it over the edge. Conversely, a fund that is betting a troubled company will not default has an incentive to keep it afloat, at least long enough to avoid a big payout. Either way, the company becomes a pawn in a financial game.

    Speculative activity is likely to increase. Last month, Congress repealed an anti-speculation provision of Dodd-Frank that would have prevented federally insured banks from conducting several types of swap transactions. In addition, the Federal Reserve recently gave the banks two extra years to meet a Dodd-Frank provision requiring them to sell their investments in private equity funds and hedge funds.

    The next crisis will differ from the last crisis in its origins and effects. But it is probably safe to assume that sooner or later, poorly regulated credit derivatives will again play a role in damaging the economy”. So far the NYT.

    I consider the concepts of CDS’s, together with poisonous MBS’s as the main reasons for the crisis in the world since 2008 – they brought the banks worldwide almost to their knees – and as tools for Wall Street to rip the rest of the world financially. How could the US (Republican) voters allow these crooks to continue their act and allow Dodd-Frank to be diluted down to a worthless piece of paper?

    Therefore I said:

    This is what I hate the US for. Those stupid republicans, they’re just crooks! Why are their followers so naive? Listen to Warren!

    • #6 by cheekos on January 5, 2015 - 1:22 AM

      Yes, I saw the Times article, but didn’t tie it in to your Comment.

      CDSs just enable one firm to take positions–like all of the “Shorts” on the various Too Big to Fail Banks–thus, escalating their problems, back in the fall of 2008. Remember that AIG had substantially more risk from backing CDSs than its own Net Worth. This happened on your side of the “Pond”, as well.

      In the case of Radio Shack, if the bets “against” were for the bulk of the amount cited–virtually 20 times the company’s Net Worth–it would have been worthwhile for any large “insurer” of the CDSs to merely step-in, pay the bonds off, and save itself a bundle. To me, a bet on a bet never makes sense. However, if the Taxpayer is bailing you out, as Alfred E. Newman used to say: “What me worry?”

      CDSs are a game that only the really big institutions can play; however, when they lose too much “at the tables”, we Taxpayers then “get played for suckers. That’s why the Banks are lobbying Congress to de-fang Dood-Frank, nest-ce pas?

  4. #7 by Michael Kallenbach on June 17, 2016 - 6:31 AM

    Please can you put me on your emailing list. Kall@thepump.co.uk. Ps I am for Remain

    • #8 by cheekos on June 21, 2016 - 3:08 PM

      On the blog, on the right-hand side, under Top Posts and Pages, you will find a link to follow the blob. You can decide which way to do so. And thanks for visiting my blog.

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