‘I’m having a very good crisis,’ says Soros as hedge fund managers make billions off recession

‘I’m having a very good crisis,’ says Soros as hedge fund managers make billions off recession

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 5:13 PM on 25th March 2009


George Soros said the current economic crisis has been the culmination of his life’s work

A hedge fund manager who predicted the global credit crunch has said the financial crisis has been ‘stimulating’ and the culmination of his life’s work.

George Soros, who predicted the global financial crisis twice before, was one of the few people to anticipate and prepare for the current economic collapse.

Mr Soros said his prediction meant he was better able to brace his Quantum investment fund against the gloabal storm.

But other investors failed to take notice of his prediction and his decision to come out of retirement in 2007 to manage the fund made him $US2.9 billion.

And while the financial crisis continued to deepen across the globe, the 78-year-old still managed to make $1.1 billion last year.

‘It is, in a way, the culminating point of my life’s work,’ he told national newspaper The Australian.

Soros is one of 25, top hedge fund managers from across Wall Street who have defied the credit crunch crisis to reap a total of $11.6billion (£7.9bn) last year.

The managers made their profit by trading above the pain in the markets, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha Magazine.

Former maths professor James H. Simons, who has made billions in  hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, earned $2.5 billion running computer-driven trading strategies. 

And John A. Paulson, who made his fortune by betting against the housing market, came in second earning $2 billion.



Big hitters: John Paulson and James H Simons were part of a group of 25 hedge fund managers who make a total of $11.6bn

The managers made the profit in a year when losses were recorded at two of every three hedge funds and when hedge funds lost an average of 18 percent, according to the New York Times.

Two of the three managers who tied for ninth place, at $250 million, are based in Britain and include David Harding of Winton Capital and Alan Howard of Brevan Howard Asset Management.

Another Brevan Howard employee Christopher Rokos also made the list.


Obama Clueless and Classless

Clueless and Classless

The election of Barack Obama was hailed as a great opportunity to restore America’s respect in the world. Yet, his diplomatic efforts so far have been clueless and classless. One of the first things Obama did when he took office was return a bust of Winston Churchill that had been given to President Bush by British Prime Minister Tony Blair after 9/11. As Britain stood by our side during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Churchill bust stood in the Oval Office throughout George W. Bush’s presidency. Needless to say, many Britons were shocked when Barack booted Winston from the White House.

This week, Obama had an opportunity for a “redo” when Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Washington. Unfortunately, President Obama again snubbed our ally with behavior that one British columnist described as “very odd and, frankly, exceptionally rude.” First, the White House denied the prime minister a formal press conference. Only once in more than a dozen meetings with Tony Blair did George W. Bush not grant the British prime minister such an honor, and that exception occurred during a hastily arranged visit after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Instead, Obama and Brown sat briefly together in the Oval Office in what the Washington Post described as “a chilly reception.” But the worst was yet to come.

It is customary for heads of state to exchange gifts when they meet, and Prime Minister Brown presented President Obama with a pen holder carved from the wood of the HMS Gannet. The Gannet was engaged in anti-slavery and piracy missions for a time off the coast of Sudan. She was the sister ship of the HMS Resolute. The wood of that ship was used to make the Resolute Desk, which was a gift from Queen Victoria to President Hayes in 1880. It is instantly recognizable as the magnificent desk that currently sits in the Oval Office.

Clearly, considerable care and thought were given to the gift Prime Minister Brown would present to President Obama. What did our president give the prime minister in return? Here’s how the U.K.’s Daily Mail put it: “For despite being leader of the world’s most bountiful nation, President Obama handed over nothing more thought-provoking than 25 classic American films on DVD. It was the equivalent of receiving a pair of socks from an unfamiliar aunt at Christmas — and a less-than-glowing affirmation of the UK-US bond.”


Obama: Clueless, Classless Clown

Obama: Clueless, Classless Clown

Come on, folks. Let’s face the facts. The idiot sent some errand boy out to WalMart for a gift for the British PM – read the wrong teleprompter lines when with the Irish PM – and now this. Congressional Democrats are going to start bailing on this guy in droves once they start thinking about having to run in two years. Either that, or a Republican Congress will be writing his teleprompter lines after 2010. He’s making Jimmy Carter look good by comparison. Unfortunately we have to wait four years to cough up this electoral fur ball who can’t even make his mind up about a dog. Thank you mainstream media. You should be proud – electing this idiot was a wonderful dying act.

The first appearance by a sitting president on “The Tonight Show” may well end up being the last.

 President Obama, in his taping with Jay Leno Thursday afternoon, attempted to yuk it up with the funnyman, and ended up insulting the disabled.

Towards the end of his approximately 40-minute appearance, the president talked about how he’s gotten better at bowling and has been practicing in the White House bowling alley.

He bowled a 129, the president said.

“That’s very good, Mr. President,” Leno said sarcastically.

It’s “like the Special Olympics or something,” the president said.

When asked about the remark, the White House said the president did not intend to offend.

“The president made an off-hand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics,” White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said. “He thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world.”

EU President: Obama Taking US Economy Down “A Road To Hell”

EU President: Obama Taking US Economy Down “A Road To Hell”

March 25th, 2009 Posted By drillanwr.


EU presidency: US economic plans ‘a road to hell’

STRASBOURG, France – The president of the European Union slammed President Barack Obama’s plans to have the U.S. spend its way out of recession as “a road to hell,” underscoring European differences with Washington ahead of a crucial summit next week on fixing the world economy.

Other European politicians kept their distance from the blunt remarks by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, with some reproaching the Czech leader for his strong language and others reaffirming their good diplomatic ties with the U.S.

Topolanek, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, told the European Parliament on Wednesday that Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout “will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market.”

European governments, led by France and Germany, say the focus should be on tighter financial regulation, while the U.S. is pushing for larger economic stimulus plans — but nobody has so far escalated the rhetoric to such strident levels.

Topolanek’s remarks are the strongest criticism so far from a European leader as the 27-nation bloc sticks to its position that its member countries are already spending enough to stimulate demand.

The remark highlights the difficulties leaders may face coming up with a common approach at the April 2 summit in London among leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized and leading developing countries.

The host of the summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, praised Obama on Tuesday for his willingness to work with Europe on reforming the global economy in the run-up to the G-20 summit.

The United States plans to spend heavily to try and lift its economy out of recession with a $787 billion economic stimulus plan of tax rebates, health and welfare benefits, as well as extra energy and infrastructure spending.

To encourage banks to lend again, the government will also pump $1 trillion into the financial system by buying up treasury bonds and mortgage securities in an effort to clear some of the “toxic assets” — devalued and untradeable assets — from banks’ balance sheets.

Topolanek, whose government lost a vote of confidence Tuesday but who will remain EU president until a new Czech government is established, bluntly said that “the United States did not take the right path.”.

He slammed the U.S.’ widening budget deficit and protectionist trade measures — such as the “Buy America” policies included in the stimulus bill, although Obama has said he opposes protectionism in principle.

Topolanek said that “all of these steps, these combinations and permanency is the road to hell.”

“We need to read the history books and the lessons of history and the biggest success of the (EU) is the refusal to go this way,” he said.

“Americans will need liquidity to finance all their measures and they will balance this with the sale of their bonds but this will undermine the liquidity of the global financial market,” said Topolanek.

Since the EU presidency is expected to always to take the sensitivities of the member nations into account, the statement was daring and alarmed other European leaders, who moved quickly to mend fences with Washington.

Martin Schulz, leader of the Socialist group in the European parliament, said it was “not the level on which the EU ought to be operating with the United States.”

“You have not understood what the task of the EU presidency is,” he told Topolanek in the debate.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also weighed in with a tribute to trans-Atlantic cooperation.

“I really believe it is not a helpful debate, as I see sometimes, to try to suggest that Americans and Europeans are coming with very different approaches to the crisis,” he told legislators. “On the contrary, what we are seeing is increased convergence.”

Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned against a spending race and said that ever bigger bailouts would create too much of a budgetary risk, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday he is prepared to support the economy with a new spending package that may go down well in Washington.

Obama insisted Tuesday that his massive budget proposal is moving the nation down the right path and will help the ailing economy grow again. “This budget is inseparable from this recovery,” he said, “because it is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity.”

Obama also claimed early progress in his aggressive campaign to lead the United States out of its worst economic crisis in 70 years and declared that despite obstacles ahead, the U.S. is “moving in the right direction.”

To GIVE and to SERVE: the $6 billion National Service boondoggle

White House Gone Wild

White House Gone Wild

By George F. Will
New York Post | 3/25/2009

With the braying of 328 yahoos House members who voted for retro active and punitive use of the tax code to confiscate legal earnings of a small unpopular group still reverberating, the Obama administration Monday invited private-sector investors to become business partners with the capricious and increasingly anti-constitutional government.

This latest plan to unfreeze the financial system came almost half a year after Congress shoveled $700 billion into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, $325 billion of which has been spent without purchasing any toxic assets.

TARP funds have, however, semi-purchased, among many other things, two car companies (and, last week, some of their parts suppliers), which must amaze Sweden. That unlikely tutor of America regarding capitalist common sense has said, through a Cabinet minister, that the ailing Saab automobile company is on its own: “The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories.”

Another embarrassing auditor of US misgovernment is China, whose premier has rightly noted the unsustainable trajectory of America’s high-consumption, low-savings economy. He has also expressed sensible fears that his country’s $1 trillion-plus of dollar-denominated assets might be devalued by America choosing, as banana republics have done, to use inflation for partial repudiation of improvidently incurred debts.

Congress, with the approval of a president who has waxed censorious about his predecessor’s imperious unilateralism in dealing with other nations, has shredded the North American Free Trade Agreement. Congress used the omnibus spending bill to abolish a program created as part of a protracted US stall regarding compliance with its obligation to allow Mexican long-haul trucks on US roads. The program, testing the safety of Mexican trucking, became an embarrassment because it found Mexican trucking at least as safe as US trucking. Mexico has resorted to protectionism tariffs on many US goods in retaliation for Democrats’ protection of the Teamsters union.

NAFTA, like all treaties, is the “supreme law of the land.” So says the Constitution. It is, however, a cobweb constraint on a Congress that, ignoring the document’s unambiguous stipulations that the House shall be composed of members chosen “by the people of the several states,” is voting to pretend that the District of Columbia is a state. Hence it supposedly can have a Democratic member of the House and, down the descending road, two Democratic senators.

Congress rationalizes this anti-constitutional willfulness by citing the Constitution’s language that each house shall be the judge of the “qualifications” of its members and Congress can “exercise exclusive legislation” over the District. What, then, prevents Congress from giving House and Senate seats to Yellowstone National Park, over which Congress exercises exclusive legislation? Only Congress’ capacity for embarrassment. So, not much.

Jefferson warned that “great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities.” But Democrats, who trace their party’s pedigree to Jefferson, are contemplating using “reconciliation” a legislative maneuver abused by both parties to severely truncate debate and limit the minority’s right to resist to impose vast and controversial changes on the 17 percent of the economy that is health care.

When the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president’s budget underestimates by $2.3 trillion the likely deficits over the next decade, his budget director, Peter Orszag, said: All long-range budget forecasts are notoriously unreliable so rely on ours.

This is but a partial list of recent lawlessness, situational constitutionalism and institutional derangement. Such political malfeasance is pertinent to the financial meltdown as the administration, desperately seeking confidence, tries to stabilize the economy by vastly enlarging government’s role in it.

Obama For America to teach ‘getting paid to cause trouble’

Obama For America to teach ‘getting paid to cause trouble’

By Annie Lake

If you log into Obama’s web site, you can find a list of Organizing for America (OFA) events in your area.  This past weekend and through April 5, volunteers coast to coast are doing the Pledge Canvass Project, collecting signatures in favor of Obama’s health care, energy, and education initiatives, and urging people to contact their Congressmen to get support for Obama’s budget.  

Curious, I signed into the site (with a fake name), typed in my zip code, and came up with a list of over thirty events within 200 miles, in the next two weeks. The only intriguing one is this:  On April 4, at Roosevelt University’s downtown Chicago campus, there will be a workshop entitled ‘Getting Paid to Cause Trouble:  Careers in Organizing for Social Change (Community Service)’:

“Organizers from Illinois AFSCME, UNITE HERE, UFCW,  Communities for an Equitable Olympics (CEO), Center for Community Change and other unions and community groups will be here to talk about jobs and internships available NOW!”


AFSCME, UNITE HERE, and UFCW are all unions.  The other two groups are ‘progressive’ Alinsky-model advocates for low-income people.  Listed as a sponsor is the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies, also a labor-oriented group.

“Come meet organizers from local community organizations and unions ‘walking the walk’,” the page encourages.   “Learn about careers in grassroots organizing.”

Since when is training union organizers, or recruiting people into a union organizer training program, ‘community service’?   And what about the “other unions and community groups” who will be there?  Would that be ACORN, the voter fraud gang?  Or SEIU, the healthcare workers’ union known for intimidation?

Apparently, OFA defines ‘community service’ broadly.  Only two of the 30+ events in my area sound like what I would call ‘community service’:  working at a food pantry in Madison, Wisconsin; walking to raise money for the homeless in Palatine, Illinois.  
Some OFA events seem to be politics as usual:  the “regular monthly meeting” of the Democratic organization in an Indiana county; a fundraiser at a bar for a guy running for Township Clerk in the south suburbs of Chicago. Two OFA events in my sample are for gathering community input for how Stimulus money will be spent, one in Milwaukee and one meeting on April 25 in Obama’s Hyde Park , to be graced by the presence of a Congressman and a Chicago Alderman.  
Other than canvassing, most events sound like all talk, no action:  A Milwaukee family is hosting a discussion entitled “Change America and Change the World.”   Many have vague descriptions:   “100th day of President Obama (Meeting)” on May 10. One is religious: meet at a Starbucks to “pray for all the President’s projects.”

Is OFA successful? This video montage of last weekend’s canvassing (unattributed on YouTube but I suspect done by OFA itself) makes it seem so.  I have my doubts.

The web site seems to have attracted not so many effective activists as people hoping to make friends.  Many events have only a few RSVP’s or none at all.   A lot of the sponsors are probably like a certain Bob, who was planning to be at the bowling alley of his small Wisconsin town on March 24, in the bar, to talk about  “critical issues that are facing our country.”  (He has since taken his announcement off the site.)

Drawing on my experience with two activist groups in Chicago, I would expect OFA to evolving away from its current form grass-roots effort involving mostly unpaid volunteers. Beyond canvassing, it lacks a single galvanizing issue to keep volunteers engaged, and normal people are busy.  Their involvement will shrink down to being names on e-mail and call lists, said to number in the millions.

The normal types will leave OFA to the hardcore activists:  the sub-culture of those whose life is ‘all leftist politics, all the time’.   The same person might work as an academic or staff a not for profit or a union, and then spend his or her free time with a housing advocacy group, an environmental group, an abortion rights group, a liberal church group, and Obama’s eternal campaign.   There’s overlap from one group to another, forming a large, culturally left social network.   That is the network that brought us Obama, and those are the people who will stick with OFA.

One of them just knocked on our door, as I sat upstairs blogging.  My husband answered the door.   He said the guy identified himself as being from the Sierra Club, but then he asked, “Could I have your support for President Obama?”  My husband said no, and let him get away before I could get his photo or talk to him.

Is OFA a threat to democracy?  This AT article by Lola Manning casts a critical eye on the group, acknowledging its creepy similarity to Hitler’s personal cult.   All I can say is that I expect it to expand and become more effective.  The Stimulus bill contained $5.2 billion for ‘community development’ and ‘neighborhood stabilization’, and that money will pay salaries of new ‘community organizers’ and ‘labor organizers’.   The professional organizers will call on the grass-roots volunteers as needed:  “Hey, we’re taking a busload of folks to protest at a banker’s house.  Care to join us?”

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