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Free speech is life itself.
"Many people who shouldn’t have been approved for a loan were approved for a loan."
So Substack has this new “Notes” functionality - now in live beta testing - and for some reason they invited me to try it out. It’s much like Twitter, which is why Elon is panicking lately. Still a work in progress.
Sadly, it looks like there are a few Substack writers who are from the “We need to be protected from aberrant views” school of insecurity, and I had some brief comments in Notes on that topic earlier, which is what set me off on the “Free Speech“ tangent (again) today.
For me, block and mute work fine (Real things like death threats are already illegal, and should be treated as such.)
It’s a sad world where free speech is considered a controversial topic. Do not take the Bill of Rights for granted.
Salman Rushdie in Imaginary Homelands:
“Free speech is a non-starter,’ says one of my Islamic extremist opponents. No, sir, it is not. Free speech is the whole thing, the whole ball game. Free speech is life itself.
…How is freedom gained? It is taken: never given. To be free, you must first assume your right to freedom. In writing The Satanic Verses, I wrote from the assumption that I was, and am, a free man.
What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist. Without the freedom to challenge, even to satirize all orthodoxies, including religious orthodoxies, it ceases to exist. Language and the imagination cannot be imprisoned, or art will die, and with it, a little of what makes us human.
In America today, Rushdie’s “Islamic extremists” are people like MSNBC hosts and Biden Admin apparatchiks.
The Pentagon Papers "demonstrated...that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance."
Daniel Ellsberg was charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. Today the complete “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force" is on a .Gov website.
Our “free press” is now just an arm of the government:
The American people have constantly been lied to.
The Afghanistan Papers: "John Sopko, the head of the federal agency that conducted the interviews, acknowledged to The Post that the documents show “the American people have constantly been lied to.”"
The purpose of journalism is to uncover truth – especially uncomfortable truth – and to publish it for the benefit of society. In a free society, we must be informed of the criminal acts carried out by governments in the name of the people.
The purpose of journalism is to uncover truth – especially uncomfortable truth – and to publish it for the benefit of society. In a free society, we must be informed of the criminal acts carried out by governments in the name of the people. Throughout history, journalists have uncovered the many ways governments lie, cheat, and steal – and the great lengths they will go to keep the people from finding out.
Great journalists like Seymour Hersh, who reported to us the tragedy of the Mai Lai Massacre and the horrors that took place at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, are essential.
Ten years ago last week, Julian Assange’s Wikileaks organization published an exposé of US government wrongdoing on par with the above Hersh bombshell stories. Publication of the "Iraq War Diaries" showed us all the brutality of the US attack on Iraq. It told us the truth about the US invasion and occupation of that country. This was no war of defense against a nation threatening us with weapons of mass destruction. This was no liberation of the country. We were not “bringing democracy” to Iraq.
No, the release of nearly 400,000 classified US Army field reports showed us in dirty detail that the US attack was a war of aggression, based on lies, where hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed and injured.
Just 23 more days until the next Fed Decision®!
Commercial Real Estate Debt Maturities
Gee, where did all that debt come from:
Global non-financial debt has is now 238 per cent of GDP.
We believe that “quantitative destruction”, fuelled by a toxic mix of rising rates, debt deleveraging and elevated equity valuations, has the potential to turn those financial risks from idiosyncratic to systemic.
I have a slightly different take than the author. To reword his point:
I believe that massive central banker-created asset bubbles, fueled by a toxic mix of ZIRP, debt monetization (QE), and incredible nonproductive debt growth - which led to ridiculously elevated equity valuations - is what really turned financial risks from idiosyncratic to systemic.
The CRE debt chart reminded me of that “Mortgage Rate Reset” chart from the bubble before this one (from Credit Suisse!):
Hey, some good news! California apartment vacancies near 2-year high as rents slip 3.5% from peak
If someone who makes six figures, and together with his partner makes more than $200,000, feels as though they can’t afford a home in Los Angeles, how can we expect it to be affordable for anyone making less than that?
Oklobdzija is right when he says he’s in the top range of salary earners. As of 2021, the median household income in the city of Los Angeles was $69,778, per the Census Bureau. Those in the 95th percentile of household incomes in the city make nearly $243,000 and those in the 80th percentile make $115,000, according to Statistical Atlas. Meanwhile, the average Los Angeles home value is $891,820, per Zillow, more than double the average U.S. home value.
A reminder that - according to the Social Security Administration - the median wage in the U.S. is 37,586.03, and 96.8% of American wage earners make under $200k. (These are individual numbers, not households. If you have ten people making $20k each living together, that’s a $200k household. I’m just keeping an eye on the time.)
For the second time since it opened around eight years ago, the 80 Main apartment building on Seattle's waterfront traded for less than it had previously. A Unico Investments-affiliated limited liability company sold the 45-unit, high-end property for nearly $15.1 million, according to the sales affidavit that King County posted on Wednesday. That's 14% less than the price Unico paid for the seven-story building in the summer of 2021. At that time, the price was 13% lower than the price the sellers had paid in 2016.
Hilarious. Nobody saw this coming.
Last year, data aggregator DappRadar found that Decentraland only had 38 "active users" over a period of 24 hours, a shockingly low number given the company's lofty billion-dollar market cap.
This was a thought-provoking discussion (some of it over my head), between Tom Luongo and Caitlin Long: and Plumbing the Depths of the Eurodollar
The money quote for me was Tom’s, “Gold is tokenized diesel fuel.”
I disagree, but it was a good line.
I did hear the very common assumption that “we haven’t had inflation” until recently, which is gaslighting. Yes, maybe the CPI wasn’t 9% over the past decade, but the cost of living sure went up a lot. Ask around.
To quote Harley Bassman:
"People that say that there was no inflation [pre-2021] - that's totally bogus. There's been huge inflation." [It just wasn’t measured - RH]
Even using the nonsense CPI, most people lost a lot of ground since 2010. Guys like Larry Fink and Barry Sternlicht were killing it though, with cheap money, big leverage and a Fed backstop.
Arbitrary, subjective “hedonic-quality adjustments” invented by cloistered math geeks have little to do with day to day reality. (Your income is never hedonically adjusted higher.)
For example, remember that quarter-century period that recently ended, when new auto prices DIDN'T GO UP AT ALL (if you believed the BLS?)
That was what went into the CPI, and almost nobody questioned it. Good times.
"...the government has turned the entire financial system into a kind of vast confidence game – a Ponzi-like scam in which the value of just about everything in the system is inflated because of the widespread belief that the government will step in to prevent losses."
This article just leapt out at me:
By accumulating wealth and political influence, Ukrainian tycoons have prevented the rise of a Putin-like dictator.
Hard to believe that this op-ed(?) is not parody. I notice that the author is a senior fellow at the A.E.I., which I believe stands for “Always Endorsing Invasions.”
No mention of U.S. oligarchs.
Bitcoin Obituaries [Obligatory “I’m not a crypto guy” comment here.]
For those who think we are in “a recessionary cyclical bear market,” friend of the show Kayfabe Capital has a substack, and a “Dodo Bird” model portfolio:
Also, Dirty Bubble Media has a nice writeup on Charles Schwab, which is about to absorb my TD Ameritrade account.
Many people who shouldn’t have been approved for a loan were approved for a loan.
CarDealershipGuy has a podcast: Is Capital One preparing for a crisis in its auto division?
Rates have been at record lows, margins have expanded, stimulus checks were rampant - everyone and their mother was buying cars. The auto loan rejection rate…was near 1% throughout 2021. Almost every single person was getting approved for an auto loan. Pretty crazy when you think about it. Today, that’s back up to around 9% or 10%, but needless to say, we clearly had lots of loan originations over the last couple years, and many people that shouldn’t have been approved for a loan were approved for a loan.
I always prefer in the trenches reports over MSM spokesmodels reading their teleprompter narratives.
Why do they keep bringing on Mark Zandi?
From the last bubble: The Abysmal Track Record of Moody’s Mark Zandi (2010)
The Gambler Who Beat Roulette It seems to me that if a dealer spends hours a day rolling a ball on the roulette wheel, it’s not inconceivable that they could make it more likely to land in a certain section.
The issue involved here is quite a simple one: Is every opinion, however unpopular – however foolish, even – entitled to a hearing? Put it in that form and nearly any English intellectual will feel that he ought to say ʻYesʼ. But give it a concrete shape, and ask, ʻHow about an attack on Stalin? Is that entitled to a hearing?ʼ, and the answer more often than not will be ʻNoʼ. In that case the current orthodoxy happens to be challenged, and so the principle of free speech lapses.
George Orwell, The Freedom of the Press, 1945