Something between recession and depression might better serve to describe the relentlessly worsening pickle we’re in, and perhaps convey its urgency without igniting widespread panic. Addressing the appellative problem, that estimable pair Jay and David Levy have dusted off a label they’ve pinned on earlier serious setbacks, calling the current state of the economy a "Contained Depression." 
Maybe it’s just because they’re getting paid and I’m not, but I love to see mainstream scribes squirm. Propaganda often becomes educational when it starts breaking down. This piece asserts the meme that "depression" has been overexposed in the news for a long time, when in fact it only emerged beyond the blogosphere a couple of weeks ago. The only intellectual weapon Doomers need to fight tripe like this is a memory.
“We’re going to take a commercial break and get them out of the way, so that when something really substandard is happening, we don’t have to interrupt them.” – CNBC’s Mark Haines (right at the end of the YouTube) following the inadvertent release to a national audience of this Ron Paul summary of the historical basis for the present financial crisis.
Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said on Thursday UBS had no choice but settle a tax fraud case with the United States to avoid being brought on its knees and threaten the entire Swiss economy. 
"This further extension of the quarterly projections should provide the public a clearer picture of FOMC participants’ policy strategy," Bernanke said. "Also, increased clarity about the FOMC’s views regarding longer-term inflation should help to better stabilize the public’s inflation expectations, thus contributing to keeping actual inflation from rising too high or falling too low." 
So Ben Bernanke made a speech yesterday where, among other things he introduced "outlooks [that] will offer six-year forecasts on unemployment, inflation and economic output." It’s too bad that Alan Greenspan didn’t have the Fed doing this long since. Just think, those smart people could have alerted us to the present crisis as early as 2002! Oh well, maybe not Given their recent forecasting experience, this sounds a lot more like making up bedtime stories to put Joe 6pack back to sleep. "… [S]tabilize the public’s inflation expectations" indeed! You don’t have to be a fan of Chomsky to parse this as a propaganda exercise.
And just to add to the fun, at the most sensitive time for American financial policy in 70 years, we get this assertion about new standards of statistical transparency:
… Board Vice Chairman Donald Kohn is leading a committee that will review our current publications and disclosure policies relating to the Fed’s balance sheet and lending policies. The presumption of the committee will be that the public has a right to know, and that the nondisclosure of information must be affirmatively justified by clearly articulated criteria for confidentiality, based on factors such as reasonable claims to privacy, the confidentiality of supervisory information, and the need to ensure the effectiveness of policy.
… so there we have it. Clear policy direction that any number that might embarrass a FOMC initiative can be suppressed. H.4.1, I fear thou knowest too much. I will be delighted (but a bit surprised) if this new initiative to "open up" the Fed’s weekly reports doesn’t end up censoring some of their best and most revealing dataseets, including the foreign central bank holdings of treasuries and agencies that the NY Fed has been showing us faithfully every week since early February 2000. Opening up those Thursday afternoon updates looks like it’s going to be especially exciting over the next few weeks.
Bongiorno and her husband, Rudy, a retired electrician, recruited and stayed in touch with investors in the old neighborhood who held accounts called “RuAnn,”[you can say that again] according to the employee, who requested anonymity. “RuAnn” is short for Rudy and Annette, the employee said. An account statement reviewed by Bloomberg News had the initials RU. 
Even Lucky Santangelo would have been mortified just finding herself in a book with elements like that. RU the day? Have a Nice Day!
It’s Friday, and remember how Grandma told you that you should save for a rainy day? Well check this out from CNN. Those of you that followed that advice are apparently messing things up for the rest of us:
"What we’re essentially doing is creating the retail environment of the future. Imagine you walk in and instead of seeing printed materials it’s all digital screens." Those who have seen the movie Minority Report, in which Tom Cruise is tracked by adverts wherever he goes, won’t have to imagine too hard. 
OK, so do I really need to look at the display over the cinnamon buns at the Lady Hammond Road Tim’s and see a promotion for their new hot chocolate in a mustache cup, thus reminding me yet again that Ann forget the trim last time? Does Tim’s really need to share with CSIS that my hairdresser is getting forgetful and I’m getting balder?
Hat tip to Mrs. M, who thought this was important. She heard techno-geek pundit Jesse Hirsh rabbiting on about automatic facial profiling to support display ads at airports on our local CBC InfoMorning show, but then couldn’t find anything on their web site. Hirsh’s home page doesn’t seem to have anything either, but his description seemed to have come from this recent article  (the Dunkin Donuts  piece was from last September).
NEC’s Eye Flavor technology, said the company, is Japan’s first all-in-one digital signage board. It consists of a large-size LCD display, top-mounted camera, streaming controller and effective analysis software. This product, by using face recognition technology, targets advertising content according to the customer’s gender and age range, which is conducted in real-time as passer-bys approach the sign.
NEC says it has already run this Eye Flavor technology at the Granduo Tachikawa, a commercial facility in Japan. This trial run was conducted for 21 days last October. It measured the number of viewers as well as viewing duration of advertising contents in terms of time period, gender and age. In addition, the distance between the display and each viewer was also measured.
Last night’s Cross Country Checkup included a man from Glace Bay Nova Scotia (a couple of hundred kilometers east of here and already devastated by the Panic of ’08) who was getting pretty close to uttering threats against the powers-that-be. Doomers, you don’t suppose donut marketing data collection could work as a Trojan Horse for an invasion-of-privacy strategy to help control any civil unrest resulting from the downturn?
… If this is true, it could be a sign that the FSA is rethinking the classification of dark pools under MiFID. Some of the newer players such as Chi-x, Turquoise, BATS Europe and Nasdaq OMX have become MTFs but these are lit markets, although Turquoise has a dark component. The two leading institutional dark pools, Liquidnet and ITG Europe, were ATSs previously but become MTFs. In addition, NYFIX Euro Millennium, a dark pool for European stocks, already operated as an ATS in the UK, but has become an MTF under MiFID. And on Feb. 2nd, the NYSE Euronext’s SmartPool received FSA approval to operate as an MTF for block trading in European stocks. 
Whether it’s TARP-funded annual bonuses for executives in failing banks, or the new Bad Asset Repository Fund, the corridors of power are alive with the sound of public money gushing into one humongous swill-trough for the benefit of Russ Winter’s Pig Men. What do American Doomers think? Is it worthwhile indenturing your grandchildren on the off chance that some of those entitlement monies might trickle down to Manhattan’s deserving high-end waiters, shop clerks and watch repair technicians?
Well it’s Groundhog Day, so if Kashkari sees his shadow we’re in for 18 more quarters of Kondratieff Depression. We’d better be prepared for a lot more bad assets, so as a Proud Canadian let me suggest the perfect manager for the new BARF — Ontario’s K. Winter Sanitation Inc.
Holy revictimization, Batman! Did SIPC just go through an exercise in mailing out 8,000-odd sheets of fly-paper? Looks like the big-time, long term Madoff investors who retained a large balance at the end but took significant withdrawals over the years have some heavy cost-benefit analysis ahead of them:
Of course, investors who prefer to disappear into the weeds need not file the form. But those wishing to make a claim for lost funds, and to get up to $500,000 per account from SIPC, must fill in the blanks and file their forms.
“The one absolute truth is that if a claimant does not submit a claim form to the Trustee, there is absolutely no possibility of any future distribution,” said Stephen Harbeck, president and chief executive of SIPC.
UPDATE: Just when you thought this story-arc couldn’t get any weirder, it gets weirder.
Bernie Madoff’s investment fund may never have executed a single trade, industry officials say, suggesting detailed statements mailed to investors each month may have been an elaborate mirage in a $50 billion fraud.
For the past two decades, Wall Street watchers could count on four U.S. firms to land in the middle of every securities scandal. From Nasdaq price fixing to fake research to rigging the IPO markets to peddling toxic subprime assets, one could rest assured that Citigroup’s Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs would be heading the lineup. Their complete absence from the greatest Ponzi scheme in history raises the question: what did they know and when did they know it?
The answer may reside in a pentagonal structure created in 1999 to serve the interests of a Wall Street cartel.