The Financial Crisis - live blog

bumped again -- roxy

Live blog for the unfolding financial crisis. As markets open, plans and actions announced this weekend as a result of G-7 and IMF meetings will either gain traction or....

Related posts from the last week or so available here at the ePluribus Media community site:

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Norway has just announced that it has taken control of the subsidiary of the failed Icelandic bank to protect depositors. (Iceland may see this as a seizure of its national "assets")

France, Germany, Portugal and Malta (Malta?! That's just a nice village for a holiday) have announced that they have called Cabinet meetings for Monday morning.

Eurozone leaders will be holding a press conference shortly. My understanding is that they have reached some clear conclusions on what they must do but will have to report back to their governments before being able to give the detail of what each country is going to do to support this European wide initiative. So more words coming.

I'll see what I can learn later on today. I could be wrong, but I think most Icelanders would tell you it's only asset if it's a fish. ;)

It has just been learnt that an extra £50 billion ($85 billion) to bail out failing UK banks, This will be added to the National Debt. As it will be in exchange for equity, it will be hoped it will be recovered.

A new factor is that it is being reported that the Treasury may demand seats on boards of banks bailed out.

affluent friends are talking about "buying stocks."

Take it for what it is worth.

There has been a lot of talk over here that sometime in the next few days will be an excellent time to buy. Everyone would like to know when the bottom of the market has been reached. It may have already been reached.

We may see this happen tomorrow as a result of the very positive European meeting.

See. Everyone is turning into a Greedy Capitalist again. You can always rely on human nature.

Several well run companies, who have little to do with this crisis, have seen their stock prices battered in the general panic.

Be interesting to see what Monday brings...

heinous bottom feeders are now in their element. Far as I'm concerned, they have been for awhile now. Guess people are figuring out that, by golly, some people actually have substantial cash to plow back in.

the top or the bottom. But I am more than willing to let those with the affluence and money to risk have a little more profit to help poor people like me know when the waters are safe.

My instincts tell me to sit tight. I try mightily to not do things on emotion but logically.

Wise women have taught me to listen, listen, listen and avoid jumping off that cliff. It has served me well.

Pretty big green showing up so far.


"So your party is the only party that can save the country from the mess that your party created?" - attrib. Jon Stewart

"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson

Live He is saying that the British plan has been accepted by the Eurozone countries and every measure will be taken to prevent banks from failing. "These measures are unprecedented" Emphasis on healthy banks. Time limited to a date in 2009.

European Commission has produced new standards for banking accounting that will be presented to the European Parliament on Wednesday (rubber stamp to what is being said. The National leaders preempt the decisions of the European Parliament. We have a funny form of European Democracy when dealing with Europe as a whole).

These measures will be implemented without delay in France tomorrow. (This is a very positive statement) Germany and Italy will also be announcing their measures tomorrow. They will be taking their national decisions but these will be entirely compatible within the agreed framework.

So, trying to capture the announcement as it is being translated: bank capitalisation and a determination to get liquidity and lending back into the market is on as concerted action.

Much firmer statement than I had expected earlier this afternoon. Good.

Other statements being made by officials emphasising the unity that has been found today.

Sarkozy being nice about Gordon Brown and what he calls Anglo-Saxon economics! (Jerome a Paris will be quivering with rage) That is a first from France.

Europe will want to meet with USA to set new international standards (the press has been very critical of Paulson and the, what they called on TV, "wishy-washy" measures that are being taken. Sarkozy says that all the measures will be implemented in France by the end of the week (They are implemented tomorrow in the UK).

Just announced: Major Lloyds/TSB with HSBOS bank merger is no longer on. Probably overtaken by government measures that will secure separate banks. So I guess the government will now step in. This is good - the new bank would have had a huge share of the mortgage market and the government was going to have to bend the rules to accommodate it.

Just announced that Royal Bank of Scotland boss resigns tomorrow.

All this becomes a bit irrelevant. British banks (and European banks) are now guaranteed as secure. That is the stability issue settled. Now for liquidity.

Update Sarkozy has just announced Eurozone agreement to guarantee inter-bank lending.

Much more detail than the G7 meeting in Washington. There is no reason why the bank crisis is not now over in Europe. It will enormously help the USA to move forward as well. Phew!!! (Caveat: the detail, which is not known, is still important. the numbers in billions will be the key to how markets react).

HSBOS saying their deal involving taking over Lloyds Bank is still on.

What has happened is that Lloyds were in trouble and HSBOS agreed to buy them. The market collapse made the original share offer, however, look very expensive. So HSBOS demanded to renegotiate the deal in order to get it even more cheaply, causing some panic. Now the government has given its guarantees, Lloyds no longer needs HSBOS to acquire it.

A nice little David and Goliath story.

Oh! It is banks. Strike the word "nice" :)

Except that a lot of employees have kept their jobs that would have been lost if the takeover had taken place.

(Of course, HSBOS's petulant statement that the merger is still on may prevail but I suspect the Lloyds shareholders will now have an objection.)

Update Apparently the British government does not share my delight. If the deal takes place, even though it gives a massive slug of the mortgage market into the hands of one bank, it will save them having to bail out these two banks.

As they are just printing the money in any case and adding it to the National Debt, I think I would rather see the bailout than little people lose their jobs. The paper money, converted into equity, can then be sold to very rich people later on at no loss to the ordinary tax payer. We can always create another bank to issue competitive mortgages (and make it a mutual fund owned by its members rather than by shareholders. Like they always used to be when probity was the main regulation for the British financial sector).

In trying to give you the gossip of the European meeting, I have been over-stating the British influence on the Euro-zone countries.

Officially this is being played down by the UK government to avoid European sensitivities (except Sarkozy's because, as yet another extraordinary aspect of this strange politician, he likes the UK)

So, in dishing the dirt I have not been well behaved.

Therefore, please read the BBC account for a more official view of what happened (if you want to be bored) The Reuters version is a bit nearer my own (which was thanks to the other big surprise of the last year - the excellence of Sky News in the UK - coupled with some personal body language reading of the various actors at the European meeting)

Fascinating discussion over at Naked Capitalism on Credit Default Swaps and Lehman Brothers for those who might be interested.

To make my own reporting appear technically inept and uninformed.

I am struggling with much more complex concepts at the moment. Like, why, when he stands there to greet European ministers, does his slight frame still make Sarkozy's suits seem as if they were tailored for a slightly smaller man? And why do Gordon Brown's suits seem as if he has never met a tailor?

And why did Buffy never discover the crypt in which Paulson sleeps at night?

I want to find the fun side of global economics. I don't find a detailed discussion about the valuelessness of derivatives much of a laugh.

But I'm glad you are here to give seriousness to a serious topic and I can hide behind your posts :)

I didn't understand much of what was actually being discussed in that thread but I found it absolutely fascinating none the less. In particular, I thought this comment was on the money:

I would like to make this comment as someone trained as an engineer and as the type of person the "investment community" is used to funneling money mindlessly their way.

No longer. I am not putting my hard earned money in any stocks, any funds, etc until this bull@#$! is dead and gone. As long as ridiculous conversations like those occurring above still happen, it is best that everyone who doesn't understand these transactions (and due to opacity, I would guess very few do) stay away from this community.

How much of this way of thinking is being taken into consideration? If someone has just seen their 401k wiped out, equity in their house evaporate, it's going to be a while before they trust Wall Street again. But, maybe I'm wrong. It took a whole bunch of foolishness to get to this stage after all.

I have some sympathy with the person writing that post.

Not being an engineer, I have to have trust that he or she knows his/her job. He/she depends on this to sell me his/her skills.

Those working in the financial markets had pretty quickly wake up to the fact that, our not knowing their trade, they are going to have to work very hard to regain our confidence. Working with the government to develop transparency and adopt new regulatory tools will be a start. Until then, my mattress will have a lump under it, even though I know it is better and more "patriotic" for my money to be working for the country.

From Bloomberg's:

U.S. Stock Futures Gain as Fed Says All Options Open for Market

"U.S. equity futures gained after the worst week for stocks in 75 years, boosted by the Federal Reserve's pledge to ``consider every option'' to restore investor confidence and a government plan to buy stakes in banks.

The statement by Dallas Fed bank president Richard W. Fisher came as European leaders agreed to guarantee deposits and use government money to prevent lenders from collapsing...

..."Sooner or later, there's a tipping point where the coordinated actions are enough to stem the crisis," said James Dunigan, who helps oversee $66 billion as managing executive of investments at PNC Wealth Management in Philadelphia. "The idea that the U.S. would take a position in bank stocks is something the market would be looking for as a positive. It seems that's the missing piece of the puzzle."

to what Roosevelt did with one of his fireside chats where he announced that essentially the banks that would reopen on the next business day would not fail? By giving the full force of the backing of the federal government, he restored confidence that allowed people to begin doing business again.

I have my fingers crossed that we are moving in the right direction. The equity markets will probably continue to be quite volatile for some time. I hope the futures for the credit markets show some positive signs as well.

"Fireside chats"

Ah, it was a pleasanly simpler world in those days. We could believe in some of our politicians back then.

Again from Bloombergs:

Crude Oil Rises From 13-Month Low on Europe Bank Rescue Plan

By Gavin Evans

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose from a 13-month low in New York on speculation action by European leaders to prevent the region's major lenders from collapsing may help slow credit market turmoil threatening to stall the global economy.

Oil gained for the first time in four days after the 15 nations using the euro agreed to shore up their banks, measures which will include the U.K. buying controlling stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland Plc and HBOS Plc. Iran, the world's fourth- biggest oil producer, will next month ask OPEC to cut output to reflect falling demand, Tehran-based newspaper Pool reported.

The unfriendly role of OPEC deserves some investigation. Meanwhile, a high price for oil is simply an indicator that potential demand from anticipated higher than feared economic activity exists. Maybe it will persuade OPEC not to cut back on production.

I am not sure that the so called G7 meeting mentioned in the introduction to this thread had any function, other than to act as photocall backdrop for Paulson and Bush to repeat what they have said previously. It had as much meaning and as little impact as one of Bush's Rose Garden "confidence boosting" pressers during the last week or two.

Indicative is that it was only attended by Finance Ministers, who did their dutiful bit standing behind Bush as he gave another five minute brush cutting speech.

I expected the puffed out irrepressible Sarkozy to enjoy his moment in the sun today but I must admit that it is very unusual and indicative of how much influence Bush has lost for Washington that what may unlock the mess is due to what occurred in Paris this afternoon.

At a time when absolute clarity is needed (see earlier Susie Dow thread "Dire Warning from Nouriel Roubini")we are still being served the same uncertainty of action from Bush:

Oct 12, 3:51 PM (ET)

Gov't mulls plan to take ownership stakes in banks


WASHINGTON (AP) - Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told international leaders on Sunday that isolationism and protectionism could worsen the spreading financial crisis. With a new trading week dawning, U.S. lawmakers urged quick action by the Bush administration on measures to make direct purchases of bank stock to help unlock lending.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, said an administration proposal to inject federal money directly into certain banks, in effect partially nationalizing the banking system, "is gaining steam."

"I am hopeful that tomorrow, the Treasury will announce that they're doing it. And they have to do it quickly ... markets are waiting," Schumer said.

The administration has not indicated when it would announce next steps.

This is not good enough.

All that posturing in front of the TV cameras yesterday with the mock G7 when Bush spoke of the need for urgent, concerted and co-ordinated global action.

It is just making a farce of what is happening. If one or two European countries notice this US hesitancy, they could begin to pull back on their own financial commitment and the deal this afternoon could unravel again.

Oh please, please Obama. Rid of us of this pestilent President and this drowning Republican administration.

is the one posturing. Read yesterday's piece in the IHT announcing Paulson's intent to directly invest in banks. Fits within the G7 ministers plan context of today. Seems the finance people are a bit ahead of the political.

Bush? Who the hell listens to him? Right now it's Paulson & Bernanke - the rest of "Team USA" is fairly irrelevant. From McClatchy's team, today:

Paulson said late Friday that he was also looking to follow Britain’s lead in injecting money into troubled banks. Paulson and colleagues have said virtually nothing about how they would do this. The Treasury official recently tapped to head the bank rescue effort, Neel Kashkari, is slated to give his first speech on the matter Monday morning.

It'll be an interesting speech, probably one of the most watched this year.

..that Paulson indicated it yesterday, but as my thread at the time said, it was all vague about implementation in terms of when, how much and by what mechanism banks would be supported. He also referred to the fact that it will take time to implement and gave none of the assurances that we heard from Sarkozy this afternoon, who simply but decisively said it starts tomorrow in France.

The UK Treasury has been finalising its arrangements with individual banks in most urgent need of support throughout the day and are still at it according to reports. The poor Treasury guys are literally, apparently, getting no sleep. I have spent some time visiting the UK Treasury Office and they have gloomy and spartan offices outside the State rooms. Not a place where i would enjoy late night working.

..that there could be financial benefit for individual countries to hold off for a little to see if the action and bailing out by others takes the strain off the system.

That way, trust breaks down and, if it has no effect immediately, may do so in the future because, in that future, we need that trust in order to have much more co-operation to deal with the real economy recession.

but you do know Paulson initially rejected the idea of a direct infusion of capital into the banks? He preferred having the taxpayers buy up distressed debt instead. Paulson's plan was preferable to not taking any action yet at the same time, a better deal for the banks offloading bad debt than for the taxpayers picking it up.

The first to report on the last minute addition of language to allow the direct infusion of capital in the bill Congress passed were the guys from This American Life.

The most detailed explanation of how the bill ended up allowing for Treasury to recapitalize the banks was posted Thursday by Roubini - How authorization to recapitalize banks via public capital injections (“partial nationalization”) was introduced - indirectly through the back door - into the TARP legislation. It's truly a fascinating read to see how they managed to get it accomplished at the last minute by using the last means possible, the legislative record.

The issue I am addressing is the lack of comprehensive clarity with which Paulson has acted. This is a clarity that most commentators have said is essential for stabilisation of the financial situation.

Although Congress provided fairly broad enabling legislation, how much of it would be used, and when it would be implemented and at what cost, still remains unclear. Thus, you get lead stories such as that by McClatchy today that is introduced by a front page summary that says:

British and European leaders took unprecedented steps Sunday to try to halt a galloping financial crisis, announcing plans to take big stakes in banks and guarantee lending between banks. The action follows the failure of a U.S. plan to buy up troubled assets to persuade investors that it will curre the problem. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Friday that the U.S. might take similar banking steps, but it was unclear Sunday if it would

As the main article goes on to explain:

The European and British approach differs greatly from the controversial $700 billion rescue package approved with great difficulty last month by the U.S. Congress. That plan, pushed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, sought to use taxpayer money to purchase distressed assets from banks to help boost their balance sheets. Most of these assets would be mortgage bonds at the root of the widening financial crisis.

Although the Paulson plan is called the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, Paulson said late Friday that he was also looking to follow Britain’s lead in injecting money into troubled banks.

Paulson and colleagues have said virtually nothing about how they would do this.

It is this lack of an authorative approach that I am criticising. I can only hope that the Treasury and Fed will produce a better definition of their plan

My reply was to rba's comment. I agree with you that Paulson's response, from beginning to now, has contributed to more uncertainty and less confidence. Hindsight is always better but I think it is safe to say the Treasury and Fed failed to act decisively and adequately when they had the opportunity and have been rendered to a purely reactive position.

•Asian Stocks, U.S. Futures Advance as U.S., Europe, Australia Back Banks

•U.K. Government May Be Ready to Buy Controlling Stakes in RBS, HBOS Today

•Morgan Stanley Said to Be Renegotiating Terms of Mitsubishi UFJ's Infusion

•Euro Rises Most in Three Weeks After European Union Leaders Meet on Banks

•Crude Oil Rises From 13-Month Low on Europe Plan to Prevent Bank Failures

Susie or someone cover the Asian markets for us please. And make sure the Nikkei gets over 9000 before I wake up in the morning, please :)

The London Stock Exchange at midday showed:

This represents a recovery of about 5%. Whilst this is not a lot against the huge losses over the last three weeks, it does suggest that the hoped for steadying may have been achieved.

It could have been higher but the banks in which the government has now taken a stake have shown drops in share price as shareholders adjust to the dilution that this imposes in the value of their shares.

The smaller Asian markets were steady overnight. I wrongly looked to the results from Nikkei in an earlier post. This, like Wall Street is closed. Correction Wall Street is not closed but I understand that normally it is strongly affected by Columbus Day and tends not to be very active. It may be different today,

I think they should all be given a month off, to give us all a break!

Whilst on the Bloomberg Site, I saw this headline:

World's Economies May Be Lucky to Escape With Worst Recession in 25 Years

Don't you feel lucky?

The article goes on to say:

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The world may be heading for its worst recession in a quarter of a century -- if it's lucky.

A steep slump looks likely as the credit squeeze crunches economies from the U.S. to Singapore and panic engulfs global financial markets.

``It's certainly going to be the worst since the 1980s,'' says Bradford DeLong, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley who worked at the U.S. Treasury Department from 1993 to 1995. ``The hope is that it won't become the worst unemployment business cycle since the Great Depression.''

This AP aricle gives a good summary of where we are on the Stock markets today.

It does make a point that I have made eleswhere:

In the U.S., investors were waiting to see if the Treasury Department's newly announced plan to buy equity in troubled banks would help stabilize the volatility on Wall Street. Lawmakers have urged quick action by President George W. Bush on the effort, to be funded by the US$700 billion bailout legislation he signed Oct. 3

To expect quick action from the man who led the Katrina recovery is, I guess, asking a bit much.

...but it is refreshing to show it:

Today's spike is making me nervous. It's euphoria not optimism. I expected the spike up.'s going too high too fast and looks like a classic bear market rally. A good place not to get trapped.

According to Reuters the Obama campaign has issued a press release outlining forthcoming new propsals by Obama.

They include a temporary $3,000 tax credit to companies for each new job created in the United States over the next two years.

In addition, Obama proposed penalty-free withdrawals from some retirement accounts and a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners who are living in their homes and making good-faith efforts to make their mortgage payments.

Obama also called on the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department to set up a facility to lend to state and municipal governments, similar to the steps recently taken by the Federal Reserve to inject liquidity into the commercial debt market.

The plan also calls for temporarily eliminating taxes on unemployment insurance benefits and having the Fed and Treasury prepare for guaranteeing a broader range of liabilities of the banking system.

The Illinois senator also wants the Treasury to help unfreeze markets for individual mortgages, student loans, car loans, loans for multifamily dwellings and credit card loans


Presumably he will be elaborating these at a speech today.


Although I think that the stock exchanges are not a good measure of the success of immediate actions being taken to ease the banking situation, they are worth recording here.

After positive overnight results from Asian markets, London opened strongly, only to be dragged down by Wall Street in later trading:

Wall Street trading has been uninspiring after this morning's equally uninspiring announcements:

I am disappointed again in the US handling of the crisis. This morning's announcement was hedged with negative words such as those from Paulson saying that the administration had been reluctant to go where it was now forced to go. "We regret" is not a starting position of confidence. Bush put emphasis on its temporary nature and then asserted the free market economy would be restored (as if anybody wants to go back to exactly what existed before).

This, of course, was pandering to the idealogical concerns about the ridiculous myth that these measures are in any way connected to "nationalization".

These concerns seem to have affected the decision about the nature of the interest taken in the bank. Preferential shares without government representation on the boards is simply handing over large amounts of money in the hope that the banks will use it in the national interest rather than selfishly. All of it voluntary.

It is another piecemeal approach that lacks the comprehensive structure of the European model, There are two clear threads to what needed to be done: 1- support failing banks 2- ensure liquidity in lending. There is still a lack of clarity in how the latest initiatives will contribute to the goals, given the complexity and size of the US banking system.

It is ridiculous to stress the lack of interference intended behind these measures. If handing over unprecedented amounts of taxpayers' money, then it is only proper to control it as tightly as possible and ensure that the new money slopping around the system is employed as intended, until new effective regulatory measures are designed and introduced.

I expect the new measures to work but haltingly. The real economy is going to go into deeper depression. All our countries need strong, inspired leadership. It was not there in the Rose Garden, today.

Does the Bush administration's new approach to the economic crisis make you feel more confident?

Right now, 54.3% are saying "No, it seems like they are still flailing" (28,705 votes)

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If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little. ~ George Carlin

My whole damned retirement plan has been screwed up and I'm one of the lucky ones who got out early (kind of). But of course I no longer have retirement income. My annuity for sure will be dropping away, so there is social security, maybe.

The stock market goes up Yippie! But I never did like betting, I am a real sore loser. I call up my broker and say I want to buy... And by the time he places the order who knows where the market is. And what about next week. I can't see that this is an evironment for the little fish. It is to my mind brutal and reflective of a very brutal environment ou there.

Sorry to vent. Maybe its healthy some times. My sunny disposition has certainly been deserting me and our continued illness doesn't help.


with the ideology of their base is a smoke screen. The problem more likely goes to the greedy bastards who will be receiving assistance but on terms that are less favorable than the ones they wanted. They aren't going to be able to offload the toxic crap they wanted to onto the taxpayer. They will have to accept the impact of the dilution of shares on their personal wealth. And the days of the big bonus for just sitting behind a desk with an executive nameplate are gone too. I think we will find out these characters aren't as crazy about trickle down economics when the trickle is from their own pockets.

That says that the "We've been robbed." It is a comment from someone called Fred 55. I am not going to try to discuss it, but I urge some hardy souls to read it by going to the site. What I think is involved is that the return expected from the banks who are to receive the government largess, is acceptable as things stand now but that the return to the government would not increase commensurately as prices come back, assuming that they do. Thus we will have been robbed. I am taking a bit of the argument which is pretty opaque to me so you can see if you wish to pursue the original.

Fred here. Whether or not this is dilutive per GAAP is not the issue. It is not only ACCRETIVE per reality, it's a free gift of over $100B that could quite readily at least in non-GAAP (OCBOA) be put on the balance sheet as paid-in surplus.

... snip ...


PLEASE do the math. If the warrants are truly worth what they are represented to be (15% of principal) then the amount invested as preferred is 90% of nominal.

If $25B of preferred goes into B then really $21.25B is allocable to the preferred.

That means the 5% accreting to 9% should be measured relative to the 85% notional principal allocated.

For the first years when its below 9%, we can ROUGHLY assume the deficit interest below 9% compensates for the net present value of the warrant (close enough).

So for arithmetic purposes, this is a perpetuity at 9%.


Was part of the discussion on derivatives that I found fascinating. I don't know who Fred is, but he obviously has had a ring side seat to what's been going on.

He says that the return from the government investment would at the rate of return offered would not repay the government investment in the forseeable future.


Following Bush's Rose Garden announcement this morning, Paulson has offered some elabortion. This from New York Times.

Speaking shortly after President Bush used similar terms to describe the proposal, Mr. Paulson said the Treasury would make $250 billion available to banks to help recapitalize those banks and to get them lending again, among themselves and to businesses and consumers.


In addition to injecting money into the banks, according to the plan, the United States would also guarantee new debt issued by banks for three years — a measure meant to encourage the banks to resume lending to one another and to customers.

The F.D.I.C. would also offer an unlimited guarantee on bank deposits in accounts that do not bear interest — typically those of businesses — bringing the United States in line with several European countries, which have adopted such blanket guarantees.

And the Federal Reserve would start a program to become the buyer of last resort for commercial paper, a move intended to help businesses get the money they need for day-to-day operations.

... snip ...

Mr. Paulson said that in return for the investment, the government would receive preferred shares and warrants for common stock. In addition, he said, the government would expect a reasonable return.

And he said, “Institutions that sell shares to the government will accept restrictions on executive compensation, including a clawback provision and a ban on golden parachutes during the period that Treasury holds equity issued through this program.”


Did you know that we fired four top executives from banks in the UK yesterday? No severance pay and no bonuses this year for those that remain.

Trivial I know, but illustrative of what you can do if you take seats on the board instead of just handing the money over in hope.

The current joke in Iceland is now that the the young dashing men have thoroughly made a mess of everything (about 20 young men to be exact), that of course women are being called in to do the clean up. The two new heads of Glitnir and Landasbanki are both middle aged women.

My bags were packed and I was ready to go, even though Chris said he thought I might not be the kind of older woman they had in mind.


How in the world do you think we would ever fill a top executive position if they knew in advance they could be fired, much less with no severance or bonus? We simply can't do that to our executives here. It would be an insult to the giants like Jack Welch.

Now, perhaps we could drive Lou Dobbs further into the depths of xenophobia by inventing a special new class of visas to allow us to employ foreign executives. I sort of like the thought of Lou's head popping off his shoulders.