Friday, February 13, 2009

The USS George Herbert Walker Bush embarks on its first sea trial.

Nifty Feature.

Mr. Happy is not a big Newseum fan, to put it mildly. But he's always looking on the sunny side and this feature of the Newseum website -- which enables you to drift your mouse across a map of the United States and see the front page of local newspapers -- is, as Larry David would say, pretty good. (via John Molner)

There's No Place Like Albany.

Mr. Positive is happy to report that the perfect emblem for New York State politics has been captured by a photographer for The New York Times. It's the Brunomobile! And there's a whole article that goes with the picture, that explains the lineage of this automotive wonder. If you wrote this as fiction, readers would think you were Daffy Duck.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So You Had A Bad Day.

President Obama and his top economic policy advisors must know that what we are dealing with here is a solvency crisis, not a liquidity crisis. How could they not know that? The five or six leading banking institutions (and a number of the leading non-banking institutions) are, by any reasonable definition, insolvent. That being the case, policies that specifically address the solvency crisis are not just advisable but essential to "re-starting" the financial system.

Treasury Secretary Geitner's sketchy presentation today tanked the markets, because beneath the oddly distant boilerplate, there was a disquieting sense that he wasn't being forthright. He knows it's a solvency crisis but he was addressing it as a liquidity crisis. At a time when everyone is saying "no more make believe," he was making believe.

Martin Wolf has a sober column on this very subject, which I urge you to read. Today was a day when you could feel New York City shudder. There wasn't anyone, anywhere, who thought Geitner's presentation moved the ball forward. It wasn't just a down day. It felt worse than that; a step closer to the ledge.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Martin Wolf Interview.

This interview is well worth your time. It poses the fundamental question upon which everything else (financially speaking) depends. To wit: is the banking crisis a solvency issue or a liquidity issue? Policy-makers in both the Bush and Obama Administrations seemed and seem to believe that it's a liquidity issue. Martin Wolf believes that it's a solvency issue. If Mr. Wolf is correct (and Mr. Happy thinks he is), then the Obama economic team is heading down the wrong policy path.

The Last Gasp.

Newsweek magazine's last gasp is described here. The Washington Post Company will almost certainly shut it down by year's end. I doubt anyone will miss it.

The Now Web Competition.

If something just happened, where would you go to find out about it? Not Google. Twitter!

Fast forward to today and take a simple example of how Twitter Search changes everything. Imagine you are in line waiting for coffee and you hear people chattering about a plane landing on the Hudson. You go back to your desk and search Google for plane on the Hudson — today — weeks after the event, Google is replete with results — but the DAY of the incident there was nothing on the topic to be found on Google. Yet at the conversations are right there in front of you. The same holds for any topical issues — lipstick on pig? — for real time questions, real time branding analysis, tracking a new product launch — on pretty much any subject if you want to know whats happening now, will come up with a superior result set.

John Borthwick's article is worth reading in full.