Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Your Personal Stimulus Package


Need help in managing your finance? Have trouble making car payments?...

No problem! Here's how many Americans revive their financial situation. All you need is a plan and a match.


Signs of Stress, Fraud on Roadside
Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Vehicles Burned, Ditched in Apparent Schemes by Owners to Get Insurance Payout

Police detective Mark Menzie drove 55 miles into the desert Sunday to inspect the charred remains of a formerly silver Ford Expedition.

Later, he sat in a kitchen on the city's south side where a 19-year-old man confessed to torching his girlfriend's Chrysler PT Cruiser

At noon Monday, Mr. Menzie was picking through the smashed windshield of a 2008 Land Rover in a desert canyon. His police radio crackled as he worked; another car was spotted burning southwest of the city.

Years of no-money-down car loans followed by sinking home values and rising unemployment has made many people desperate over car payments they can no longer afford. For some, the answer is to ditch the car, report it stolen and collect the insurance money to pay it off without hurting their credit.

Authorities report a growing number of cars dumped in the Great Lakes, burned along remote New Jersey roadsides and driven into canals in California. The phenomenon is acute in Las Vegas, where sharp declines in tourism and construction have left thousands of workers unemployed and broke.

Mr. Menzie, a burly 38-year-old detective wearing jeans, dusty work boots and a two-day stubble, toted up a day's work. Four cars burned or wrecked in 24 hours: "Insurance fraud," he concluded. "Lots of desperate people out there."

As a member of the Las Vegas department's auto-theft unit, Mr. Menzie is on the front lines of a phenomenon that police departments and insurance companies worry could be burning out of control.

"The economy is stretching people to the breaking point and some of them are willing to risk criminal conviction," said James Quiggle, a spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, an industry-backed group. "They look at this as their own personal stimulus package."... (continue reading here)


Monday, March 30, 2009

The Worst is Over!


New Home Sale Up 4.7%. No bullshit?



Thursday, March 12, 2009

not so mini Mini-Budget


March 11, 2009
Scepticism to M'sia stimulus

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA'S massive US$16.2 billion (S$25 billion) stimulus package met with scepticism on Wednesday, as analysts questioned if it will avert recession and how cleanly it will be implemented.

Deputy premier Najib Razak announced the package on Tuesday, saying the much bigger than anticipated spending plan would 'contribute towards mitigating the impact of the global contraction on the domestic economy'.

But despite the measure, and a US$1.9 billion stimulus package announced last year, he said the economy could still contract by up to 1.0 per cent in 2009, dumping the earlier forecast of 3.5 per cent growth.

Standard Chartered said despite the size of the plan, 'its ability to keep 2009 growth in positive territory remains in question' and that the deficit, which will jump to 7.6 per cent this year, could threaten credit ratings.

ING was unimpressed by the big-spending initiative, saying it expected the economy to contract by 2.2 per cent this year, and that the government's political woes raised the risk of inappropriate spending.

'The political situation makes us think a lot of the spending will be politically-directed,' it said.

The spending plan is an important test for Mr Najib, who is due to be appointed premier at the end of the month and inherits the task of clawing back support for the ruling coalition after a battering in elections last year.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who was finance minister before being ejected from the coalition in 1998, said there was a grave risk of 'leakage' as the huge amount of funds was disbursed.

'As far as the package is concerned, there is no sign of reforms,' he said.

'Our fundamentals are cracking, we are facing a major crisis. Will Najib stop the practices of awarding contracts to cronies through direct negotiation?'

Analysts at Citibank also said the market would be disappointed with the package after 'the hype created over the past few weeks'. 'Execution is the key, and it is still too early to quantify and build in the benefits,' it said. -- AFP

(The Straits Times)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Land of Broken Dreams


California Wasteland


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hedge Fund AIG


Bernanke Says Insurer AIG Operated Like a Hedge Fund

March 3 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said American International Group Inc. operated like a hedge fund and having to rescue the insurer made him “more angry” than any other episode during the financial crisis.

“If there is a single episode in this entire 18 months that has made me more angry, I can’t think of one other than AIG,” Bernanke told lawmakers today. “AIG exploited a huge gap in the regulatory system, there was no oversight of the financial- products division, this was a hedge fund basically that was attached to a large and stable insurance company.”

Bernanke’s comments foreshadow tougher oversight of systemically important financial firms, and come as President Barack Obama seeks legislative proposals within weeks for a regulatory overhaul. The U.S. government has had to deepen its commitment to prevent AIG’s collapse three times since September as the company accumulated the worst losses of any U.S. company.

The company “made huge numbers of irresponsible bets, took huge losses, there was no regulatory oversight because there was a gap in the system,” Bernanke said. At the same time, officials “had no choice but to try and stabilize the system” by aiding the firm... (full story at Bloomberg)

You Are Powerful


Amnesty International: "You are powerful"