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Tricky

Tricky
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  • Why Fox News Continues to Roll [View article]
    I see few of the commenters actually read the article. He kept talking about both Fox and MSNBC as examples of biased news presentation -- which they are.

    Any claim to Fox News being "balanced" is laughable, as is any similar claim to MSNBC being objective. They are both ridiculous to the point of being cartoonishly biased -- I find both practically unwatchable.
    Dec 29, 2010. 09:09 AM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • David Klein, CEO of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, whose wife has terminal cancer, issues a challenge to the industry: be more explicit about medical treatment being as much an art as a science. Potential benefit? "As patients learn more about the limits of medicine, some may choose less intensive and costly care."  [View news story]
    No doubt, plenty of blame to place on both patients and the HMO's. One structural issue with HMO's is the mismatch in timing between wellness programs (generally only pay off over long periods of time and are very hard to quantify in a trackable manner) and judgment day on the financials (quarterly and annually). So there isn't much incentive for HMO's to push the wellness programs or approve new treatments that hit the expense line *now*. The other issue is that HMO's can lose their contracts with an employer prior to the wellness programs "paying off".
    Dec 27, 2010. 12:16 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • David Klein, CEO of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, whose wife has terminal cancer, issues a challenge to the industry: be more explicit about medical treatment being as much an art as a science. Potential benefit? "As patients learn more about the limits of medicine, some may choose less intensive and costly care."  [View news story]
    First and foremost, my sincere condolences. And I agree with much of what you posted.

    My wife is a physician and she'll be the first to admit they don't always have the answers. There is a ton of mystery to how the body works -- we learn more every day, but the honest docs will tell you that it makes us realize how much more we don't know.

    Good docs don't want to be seen as gods because it leads to several bad behaviors by many patients -- namely, not doing basic wellness and expecting a pill or procedure to magically fix everything. And then sue if the automagic cure doesn't materialize.
    Dec 24, 2010. 04:39 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Can Facebook save California? Well, not quite, but it will create a surge in state tax revenues from stock-option exercises when it goes public, as did Google's (GOOG) IPO, Paul Kedrosky says. California's path to insolvency will prove "much more circuitous than most people think," he writes.  [View news story]
    No doubt, California will ramp up spending when said tax revenues materialize.
    Dec 21, 2010. 02:15 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • New York AG Andrew Cuomo files a lawsuit against Ernst & Young for civil fraud, accusing the accounting firm of helping Lehman (LEHMQ.PK) hide its financial weakness from investors for years before the bank collapsed in 2008. It's time to hold big accounting firms - "pushers to Wall Street's junkies" - accountable for their role in Wall Street's excesses, Barry Ritholtz says.  [View news story]
    So was Arthur Andersen. Unfortunately, it just took one partner's actions with Enron to take down the whole firm.
    Dec 21, 2010. 12:06 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Microsoft: 1.5 Million Windows Phone 7 Handsets Sold in First 6 Weeks [View article]
    I am old enough to have started my working career right as the great PC wars were raging. The mobile platform war is even more fun, many more viable players, each with relative strengths and weaknesses.

    Okay, now time for HP/Palm to show its new hand!
    Dec 21, 2010. 10:16 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Apple (AAPL) will buy Facebook, Congress will block QE3, and the yield on 30-year U.S. Treasurys will slide to 3% - some of the wild predictions for 2011 offered by Saxo Bank.  [View news story]
    Actually, Google will buy Facebook, to get all those employees back ;-)
    Dec 21, 2010. 10:14 AM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The view of incoming House Financial Services Committee chairman Spencer Bachus - "in Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated; my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks" - is symbolic of the market fundamentalist crusaders who will set the tone for how banking reform is implemented for the next two years, Andrew Leonard writes.  [View news story]
    Sure, let the banks run wild. What's the worst that could happen?
    Dec 16, 2010. 10:01 AM | 6 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Wells Fargo (WFC) appears to be the only big bank advocating for banks to hold more of the mortgages they sell, in order to promote more careful lending. "Rather than being something rare or unusual, it should be common in the mortgage industry to align interests of lenders, borrowers and investor," a Wells Fargo mortgage exec tells FT.  [View news story]
    Hi Richard, it's been a while since I was involved in much detail (I know zilch about the minute specifics of recent regs). But in the past, yes, there were differentiations in "riskiness" of loans, I think it was fairly broad based (i.e., nothing that scaled for every 10 points of credit score, for example).

    On your 2nd question, it really depends on the specific tradeoffs of the capital requirements vs. the relative margins between products.
    Dec 15, 2010. 05:15 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • Wells Fargo (WFC) appears to be the only big bank advocating for banks to hold more of the mortgages they sell, in order to promote more careful lending. "Rather than being something rare or unusual, it should be common in the mortgage industry to align interests of lenders, borrowers and investor," a Wells Fargo mortgage exec tells FT.  [View news story]
    It's not just a matter of "trying to screw a stranger". It's mainly an issue of regulations on capital. If bank keeps a loan, it must put aside some of its capital against it. If it sells a loan, that's (almost?) purely "service income" and the bank doesn't have to put ANY (or "practically no") capital against it.

    The regulated capital is THE "scarce resource" at a bank and that's what they optimize their business around.
    Dec 15, 2010. 04:09 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Today was the "worst day of the Obama presidency" - the tax deal unraveling, his political capital spent, upstaged by a former president and by the Senate's farthest-left Democrat. Joe Weisenthal says this may mark the day Obama "officially became a lame duck."  [View news story]
    Spot on. For as long as I can remember, my reaction to the choices of Presidential candidates has been "dear Lord, is this REALLY the best our country can do???"
    Dec 10, 2010. 09:10 PM | 7 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The ballyhooed convergence between magazines and the iPad (AAPL) isn't going as quickly as it could, with publishers and Apple far apart on how iTunes periodical subscriptions should go. The battle's focused on who's got control over sales and subscribers' data, and publishers don't like Apple's 30% cut - so they're taking fresh looks at Android (GOOG).  [View news story]
    Oh it gets better. Because iTunes doesn't accommodate recurring payments and Apple restricts the info you get on the user -- you basically have to re-sell the f-ing subscription every month, with one hand tied behind your back.

    Imagine the uproar if Microsoft had ever said: you want it on our OS --> must be installed via our store --> we get 30% cut --> and we're going to start shutting off all workarounds
    Dec 3, 2010. 02:36 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • The Obama administration's new lending fund aimed at helping small businesses may not be enough to overcome banks' reluctance to make loans. Community bankers cite an "unprecedented" level of toughness from regulators, rendering them unwilling to underwrite loans they would normally make since they "could cost [the bank] dearly" in setting aside extra capital.  [View news story]
    I'll take your word for it, but does that have anything to do with CRA? Or even "forcing banks to lend to poor people"?

    Or are you now making a different statement about some other issue?
    Dec 3, 2010. 01:26 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The ballyhooed convergence between magazines and the iPad (AAPL) isn't going as quickly as it could, with publishers and Apple far apart on how iTunes periodical subscriptions should go. The battle's focused on who's got control over sales and subscribers' data, and publishers don't like Apple's 30% cut - so they're taking fresh looks at Android (GOOG).  [View news story]
    I'm involved with a mobile app startup with these exact same problems with Apple. They can be absolutely infuriating to deal with. The recurring subscriptions issue is particularly vexing. The 30% cut is obviously also vexing -- there are workarounds but Apple is trying to shut those down.

    This is why I respect Apple's accomplishments and we certainly can't ignore their user base, but I hope Android keeps making inroads -- otherwise Apple would become even more insufferable for developers.
    Dec 3, 2010. 01:23 PM | 1 Like Like |Link to Comment
  • The Obama administration's new lending fund aimed at helping small businesses may not be enough to overcome banks' reluctance to make loans. Community bankers cite an "unprecedented" level of toughness from regulators, rendering them unwilling to underwrite loans they would normally make since they "could cost [the bank] dearly" in setting aside extra capital.  [View news story]
    A couple of studies have also show that -- in rough numbers -- 50% of subprime loans were originated by entities (i.e., mortgage brokers) that aren't regulated by CRA at all, 25% that are lightly regulated, only 25% by institutions that are fully regulated.

    So if you want to overhaul CRA, believe me, you've got my support. But to then conclude that even the total elimination of CRA would have prevented the crisis just simply isn't correct. I'd rather that energies be focused on fixing the BIGGEST problems (as nice as addressing all problems would be)
    Dec 3, 2010. 12:47 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
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