The very nifty –
This article is a photo essay with captions – my favorite.
Shows several nations pavilions at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 including the US Pavilion.
The photos are great and the pavilions are awesome. Now, I’m going to get around online and see where I can find the rest of them. Only the one with the little mermaid from Copenhagen, Denmark shows the inside of the structure. Earlier this week, bloomberg news showed the Dandelion pavilion – I believe it was the UK pavilion. Some of the news broadcasters covered some of the crowds on opening day and the massive fireworks show with opening ceremonies attended by Sarkozy and many other dignitaries from around the world. The fireworks display for the opening of the Shanghai World Expo was said to have been the world’s largest fireworks show ever created. I bet it was wonderful.
My other note –
The USA pavilion was noted as one “the bad” and it does look more like an old-fashioned 1960’s steam iron for smoothing clothes when there is nothing better today than a building.
And, although the photo doesn’t show it well – there is a waterfall in the section of the building’s outside surface behind where the head of Pepsico was tooting the Lay’s Potato Chips and Pepsico horn with Bernie Lo interviewing him for bloomberg news the other night.
The lines to see the US pavilion in the photo on this photo essay seem to be on the rather slim side, too. One lady said she was disappointed after waiting in line for hours to find “nothing there”. But, what does it look like inside?
Very awesome and informative video – shows the brief history of the World Expo since its inception, explains the changing focus over the many years to today and expresses all the hopes of the China Shanghai committee as they show off the developments of their cities and progressive efforts. It is a promotional video, very interesting and conveys the information visually and fast. * note – there are lots of activities scheduled and special events listed on the page linked above which is the official Shanghai World Expo website. I haven’t finished exploring it yet. Very fun.
This is the page that has the video on it – try it in full-screen – really nifty.
Duration： May 1 to Oct 31, 2010 Theme：Better City, Better Life Sub-themes:Blending of diverse cultures in the city, Economic prosperity in the city, Innovation of science and technology in the city, Remodeling of communities in the city, Rural-urban Interaction Goal:To attract the participation of 200 countries and international organizations and 70 million visitors
Duration:May 1 to Oct 31, 2010
Expected Visitors:70 million
As much as I would like to be optimistic, especially after the damage done in housing, credit and stock markets, I fear that the real economic pain is still yet to be felt by main street. Lets not forget that this is a consumer driven economy and that this is not just a subprime problem, this is an overall debt problem and it has been spreading to near prime (Alt-A) and Prime, credit cards, HELOCs, auto loans, student loans, LBOs, cov-lite LBOs, commerical loans, neg amortizing loans, etc..
Leverage is coming down to about 10/12:1 from high levels and this deleveraging process is both long & painful. Where are we now? Rolfe over at OptionARMaggedon had this chart on the leverage ratios:
All of those leverage ratios are high. And they actually understate the truth. For instance, besides the $2.1 trillion of assets Citi has ON its balance sheet, it has another $1.2 trillion OFF its balance sheet. The only reason I didn’t include these in my calculation is I wasn’t sure how much off-balance sheet exposures the other banks have and I wanted the leverage calculations to be consistent. (I tried to look it up in their SEC filings, but disclosure varies by company. Citi is the only one of the bunch that spells it out clearly.)This is the story of the housing crisis, the banking crisis and the global financial meltdown. Everyone, everywhere was levered to the hilt, using piles of borrowed money to make leveraged bets on everything from real estate, to stocks, to currencies, to bonds, to companies themselves (LBOs), etc. All of these government bailouts, er, “guarantees” are simply a transfer of risk from the balance sheets of various financial companies to governments’. To prevent “A” from falling too far, and thereby wiping out the “E” of the financial companies, the government absorbs the assets itself, immunizing the financial companies from loss.
The trouble is, the losses don’t just go away. Someone will lose. First it’s common shareholders. Next it will be the U.S. taxpayer.
In short, there is a reason rates are at 0%, we have seen the fed delve into buying mortgages, we have seen 18 credit lending facilities, we have seen the fed balance sheet expand to above $2Trln, we have seen the gov’t rescue of AIG/Citi/Autos, we have seen the nationalization of Fannie/Freddie, we have seen the shotgun marriages of Countrywide/Bear Stearns/Merrill/WaMu/Wachovia with their new owners, we have seen the failure of Lehman, we have seen a $700,000,000,000 rescue package of which $350,000,000,000 was used to recapitalize banks balance sheets thus far, and we are about to see another $850,000,000,000 fiscal stimulus package early next year.
(from – )
I haven’t found where this was originally sourced – I apologize and will try to find where it came from and post it here.
My Note –
So, I was thinking about it – what has America been doing after looking at the things from around the world at the Shanghai World Expo site. And, then I noticed these leverage charts in my computer files and online – well, that explains it and I made a note last night that repeats something I noticed during the first of the economic crisis in 2007 – 2008.
And, that is – the markets are playing on themselves, it doesn’t matter if they have any customers or if there is a consumer-driven economy in the greater world outside their doors or not. They make money through a series of games and maneuvers whether the companies whose names they bandy about are actually receiving revenues from a consumer driven business or just never make a dime.
Who would know? There are future revenues already promised to pay out loans for the operating costs of today. The shareholder’s dividends and executive bonuses were increased even as the companies were being bare-boned with layoffs and divestiture of real capital assets that in some cases, took over a hundred years of prudent and exceptional business profits to accomplish.
The answer to what has America been doing is answered by the financial system that makes money without a consumer-driven economy to consider at all and then feeds simply on its own games, guesses and bets to feed itself.
The nature of the Gulf oil spill has brought out a very basic fact about America – where a hundred years ago or even fifty years ago, there were intentions to progress beyond petroleum based and petroleum fueled industrial systems and transportation systems – that progress stopped. Where industries and manufacturing desired to keep progressive ideas moved forward through the process into implementation, to fund research and design with the pursuit of those designs into the marketplace and to encourage a higher level of education and innovative initiative across the American population wholly – those intentions just stopped. Those thoughts may be given lip-service in a public relations brochure, an ad or at a forum – but in practice – it just stopped. And, I wondered why.
Then, seeing the leverage ratios and comments about off-balance sheet vehicles and debts, thinking about the short plays and driving bond interest rates high to serve self-profits at the expense of sovereign treasuries around the world, and watching the bets of Wall Street strategically placed to profit in the event of success or failure, either way it goes – and that is what America has produced. That is the product of the sum-total of our efforts as a nation over the last thirty years.
It is kind of hard to show that in a building at the World Expo but the people around the world already know it. They’ve already had us share enough of it with them that they really didn’t want to see it anymore anyway.
I believe in a free market capitalism – but that is not what this is when the financial system serves itself, bets against and for those they destroy as they do it, plays games with money that does not belong to them in order to steal it, undermines the entire economic systems of the world and across the United States in order to serve itself and serves to provide no innovations except its own innovative strategies and devices to deceive and get paid from everyone else’s profits and efforts while doing nothing of constructive value.
The term “risk aversion” means that unless the market players are guaranteed that their money will receive a return – they won’t play it. And, I think of the show on BBC AMerica, “Dragons’ Den” and remember the attitude among the dragons which is common among venture capitalists, investors and hedge fund players – unless there is an obvious return – they don’t put their money in it.
So, the only reason that “risky” products were ever constructed or purchased was specifically because they had found a way to get guaranteed returns on their money of a certain value in a certain period of time. And, automagically the credit default swaps and other “credit insurance products” do just that because they pay out the entire amount without regard to the adjusted losses that are represented.
Then, considering that the leverage play was made which didn’t actually tie up any real cash money or viable assets – it really is like getting free money for nothing at the destruction of others whose life savings were backing up those funds and companies Wall Street was using for leverage. This same money in a free market economy of basic capitalist values and tenets would have been the money underwriting the progress of our nation, funding the potential and significant discoveries and wondrous new foundations to strengthen and add to our economy, and would’ve been the seed money for massive increases in productivity for existing businesses and innovations from small to medium-sized companies.
But that money can’t do any of that to this day – out of approximately 1200 prospectus packets from start-ups, innovators and inventors that one venture capitalist received – he stated on a business show in 2008, that he and his group only typically worked with one or maybe two of them a year. If every one of the angel investors, venture capitalists, banks, investment firms, small business loan sources and Wall Street money group was doing the same thing – how much did we lose in the opportunity costs that were associated with just doing it that way? And, as the money that has been tied up in Wall Street betting games like some grand but well-rigged casino to profitably suit a few, what has our nation become and what now do we have left to work with?
The unemployment numbers came out today touted as some 260,000 jobs added to our economy. It is a sad testament in a country where the other headline is that the official unemployment rate is now 9.9% (which isn’t even close to correct – a number of states have areas above 15% unemployment officially, and California has something close to 20% across a broad spectrum of the population and throughout vast areas of the state).)
I haven’t looked up the number of businesses that have gone bankrupt but I can see it from where I live as shoppers are scarce in stores and shopping centers stand as empty shells cluttering the landscape. Where there had been a bank – empty. Where there had once been a grocery – a large grocery – it moved to another location and nothing took its place. The pizza place where families used to congregate and ball teams had their after game celebrations – gone.
The drug store went out of business or re-located but I think the national chain was in Chapter something or other in bankruptcy and restructured just before it closed. And, there are countless other empty places, businesses gone – including the large tax preparation franchise down the street which is now gone too.
There are office buildings that look like something out of the Twilight Zone or a nuclear bomb movie because there is virtually no one there – no businesses – nothing but a few left on the bottom floor and one that is using the entire top floor from some international company with just an office here.
But the people in Wall Street don’t think there is a problem with what they do or that it has affected anybody. Hmmm…. I don’t think I can explain it to anybody like that but to say, “who needs an enemy when they have bankers and financiers more damaging than a nuclear bomb in the pervasiveness with which they can destroy?”
My Note – (continued)
This is what we could’ve put in the US Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo instead of potato chips and Pepsi sodapop because this is the output of America based on the model instigated and implemented across the course of my adult lifetime. Neither I nor anybody else that wasn’t in the game had the degree of influence that caused this, nor do I believe that most people in the United States would’ve been involved in doing this either, because it is apparent without the double talk of Goldman Sach’s president and chairman, Mr. LB that it doesn’t make good sense and it isn’t right.
And, the reason that it isn’t right is based on exactly the results that we have had from it. That is what this type of conniving is designed to do and that is what it does. The costs are not born by those engaging in those practices but those costs dive deep into the pockets of everyone else, even those with no relationship to the “games” of Wall Street and banking, financial firms, or the shadow banking community.
When what they do sets the value of the dollar I get to spend, the quantities and qualities of what I get to buy or what is available to me to buy, and whether I have access to the opportunities available and guaranteed by the Constitution or that those opportunities are denied to me – then I have every reason to be the one, as a citizen of the United States and a fellow human being – to say it is wrong and why it is so grossly wrong.
And, again I ask – who was running the ship that we call America when the ship was run aground?
Who was it that failed to see the housing “bubble” would burst – and believed it would forever go up and up and up in price and never go down? Who bought into that concept of science and physics?
Who was it that took it upon themselves to tell us in the American public what to think about climate change and what to think about mining being safe now and how offshore drilling could never have the kind of accident we are seeing right now because of all the safety and technological advances?
Who decided that our big, nasty pollution didn’t need to be cleaned up in place after place and industry after industry because that just cost too much money? And, who was it that decided to take that horrendous chemical pollution and distribute it around the world until there is now nearly nowhere fit to live? Who did that? And how much intelligence does it take to figure out that we are standing on a ball and that what happens in one place affects every other?
The very not nifty – many charitable contributions intended to help the poor through many organizations were channeled into this thrust to fund think tanks and influence the present viewpoints of every social construct in America, (as shown by the chart below). And, when they didn’t want one thing – they discredited it, mocked it, shunned and coerced and connived – and destroyed. And when they did want something – all hell they brought down upon the American people to make it happen whether it was the lie about one thing or the mass perception campaign about another, or the de-funding of safety based regulatory agencies or the persuasion of well-known, well-respected institutions to agree with them and publish it that way or the use of every national resources at their command to do it as they saw fit, regardless of the harms it would cause.
And, I am reminded of the CEO Waggoner of General Motors – and his attitude as GM was literally being burned to the ground around him and he would not put anything different on the table no matter what – not to the public, not to the shareholders, not to the press, not to the bond holders nor to the loyal, long-time hardworking employees that had built the company by which he profited. That look on his face when he sat in the Congressional hearings – and he was untouched by any of it because it couldn’t be that way if he didn’t want it to be – he was not and never was going to change his mind about anything – Americans only want big, big, big gas guzzling cars and SUVs and Trucks and that’s that – and it will never be any other way, as far as Mr. Waggoner and his executive friends were concerned no matter what.
Well, maybe so – and then maybe those vehicles that are as big as a tank need to be powered by something else and we need to find what it is that is beyond the discovery of fire such as we use petroleum and everything else, in order to accomplish something or move something or get some mechanical work done of some kind. Maybe there needs to be competition rather than not, just like our forefathers intended. Maybe the Wright Brothers were right to reach beyond what was already known and the way things were already being done. Maybe we shouldn’t have brought it all to a stop in order to securitize and financialize and make a game of that exclusive of the elements in our economy it was intended to support and grow and cause to thrive.
And, by the way, it occurred to me the other day that there is a group of Americans besides Indians and immigrants – there were colonists. I’m lucky because I have colonists and immigrants in my family heritage – maybe there is some Indian heritage in our family, maybe not, I don’t know. But I do know I have something that is in me because of that heritage as an American – I know in my heart why competition is right. I know in my soul why failing to go forward and make progress as a nation leaves us at the mercy of others who may have no mercy. And, I know in the very essence of my being – beyond my heart, and my soul and my mind, why some things just absolutely have nothing to do with rhetoric – they just are what they are and it really isn’t a matter of perspective as to what those facts are.
These are the facts –
1. Our nation rests on a precipice and that precipice is not change, it is something else, nor did change bring us to this precipice.
2. We are a nation of people, not of business entities and Wall Street traders.
3. Our fathers and forefathers fought for our opportunities and freedoms – now, we have let a few take those and distort them beyond all recognition.
4. The vested interest in our economy belongs to each of us.