"I want you to get this ****
where he breathes!
I want you to find this Nancy-boy Elliott Ness
I want him DEAD!
I want his family DEAD!
I want his house burned to the Ground!"
Al Capone -"Untouchables"
Man it's getting ugly!
The Left is going after those senators trying to exercise free thought and free will. I can just imagine Rahm Emanuel taking a cue from Al Capone played by Robert De Niro in the "Untouchables." It looks like it might have worked. Even though the independent senator from Connecticut has stood firm on the public option and dramatic changes in Medicare, many believe threats to take away his wife's job will keep him quiet when the House and Senate bills are merged and the public option remerges. The crazy thing is how brazen it all has been. These guys are living up to the reputation of Chicago with an open threat to have Hadassah Lieberman dumped as Global Ambassador at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. But if you thought that was chutzpah...
To get Ben Nelson (R-Neb) to change his mind the administration is talking about closing down an entire Air Force base. A key part of Air Combat Command Outfit AFB could be closed down if Nelson doesn't make the right decision. Waking up with a horse's severed head in your bed is child's play, these guys are talking about snatching an entire Air Force base...national security be damned. The Nebraska senator has met with Obama three times in the past ten days. One of Ben Nelson's biggest beefs is over abortion funding in the bill, a situation that Nancy Pelosi didn't think would be a big deal when she donned her mad scientist goggles on to craft so-called healthcare reform.
A word from some Nancy-Boys (and girls)
A little less direct was the FOMC statement on monetary policy and observations on the economy. It seems clear that the Fed is feeling more comfortable. The huge obstacle of high unemployment was alluded to with the new line "deterioration in the labor markets abating." I'm not sure at what point the Fed could/would pull the trigger but once the labor market settles it could be the green light. Then there is the housing market, which continues to smolder ash and hot lava. The Fed can't jack rates up too high and expect buyers to rush in but the committee made this observation, "housing sector has shown signs of improvement."
Thin Line between Love and Hate
I'm still smarting over the news yesterday that the White House gave Citigroup (NYSE:C) a free pass on up to $38.0 billion in future taxes. Wow! Talk about something that is hard to phantom. On "Fox Business Live" yesterday morning we had a real smart professional investor and bank expert explain the merits of the maneuver and I still don't get it. The move was made, apparently, to keep the share price buoyant and make the TARP return better, but when you back out the $38.0 billion that will not go into the coffers of the Treasury, then it's another TARP loss. Moreover, it's another TARP travesty. So, did the administration engage in a form of stock manipulation? For the life of me I can't figure out whose pimping and who's getting pimped. All I know is that the American taxpayer is still standing outside in the cold wondering when there will be a sincere effort on their part.
The administration browbeats banks, adds layers of regulations, and demands they sit on more money and yet also expects more lending. Bankers nod their heads but their minds are wondering ahead to the wonderful weekend on their private islands. The messages are often loud and clear but also subtle and clear, too. Three of the big bank boys never showed up because of weather but I'm sure if they could have taken the corporate jet there they would have been inside the White House. This battle for control between Washington and Wall Street only seems to really injure Main Street. The massive financial rescue and now massive tax break are the result of a massive lie. I continue to fight the suggestion that TARP was great and saved the world. Since trillions of dollars that came directly from taxpayers was put at risk, unemployment has skyrocketed, foreclosures are moving along like a Japanese bullet train, and banks are sitting on piles of money.
There are times when I cover my ears and just look at the body of evidence and wonder if it's really true the President hates banks. Citigroup was the sixth largest donor to Obama in 2008 at $700,000 plus (and the number two donor to McCain at $300,000 plus). If this is payback then that is one heck of a ROI, maybe the best since the Brooklyn Indians sold Manhattan to the Dutch. By the way, last night Treasury said it would cool its heels on selling Citigroup shares because of the share price. So, they changed the rules, gifted Citigroup $38.0 billion, and still they couldn't hold the share price up.
Initial Jobless Claims
Following the across the board positive initial claims report last week, the market was braced for more of the same. Unfortunately, it was a letdown in some respects. While continuing claims continued to decline, initial claims on the headline were above consensus at 480,000. Additionally, more individuals claimed extended benefits, another sign that the economic recovery will have its fits and starts.