Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy B-b-b-boxing Day

To Bob Cratchit said old Ebenezer:
"You may think me a mis'rable geezer,
But my cost-saving rule
In this season of Yule
Is to keep it as cold as a freezer."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Nobel Laureate's Empty Stocking

As for Christmas the senators flocked home,
Peter Diamond dejectedly walked home
To find naught 'neath the tree
For a Fed nominee
But the medal he picked up in Stockholm.

The US Senate adjourned for the holidays without taking a vote on the confirmation of MIT economist Peter Diamond, President Barack Obama's nominee for the board of the Federal Reserve.  Dr. Diamond, who shared this year's Nobel Prize in economics for his research of the labor market, will face a tougher confirmation fight in 2011, when the Senate returns with more newly elected Republicans.

Happy Holidays to Peter Diamond and all readers of Limericks Économiques!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yuletide Game Theory

A stingier student of Nash
Thought, while tying a ribbon and sash,
"If I spend to excess,
For return she will press
And I'll keep all the kudos and cash."

Thanks to Marginal Revolution for this parsimonious stratagem, which is not endorsed by Limericks Économiques for home use. Likewise, the reader is not to infer an endorsement from John Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning pioneer of modern game theory and the subject of the film "A Beautiful Mind."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ernst & Young

Said Cuomo, enforcer of laws,
"The auditor's liable because
The public's reliant
On them that their client
Will tell it the way that it was."   

More than two years after the climax of the financial crisis, the first high-profile legal action is not a federal prosecution of one of the failed financial firms, but a fraud case by a state attorney general against an auditor.  New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced a civil suit against Ernst & Young, former auditor of Lehman Brothers.  The suit alleges that the auditor knew that its client disguised borrowing against assets as sales of those assets, but did nothing to stop the misleading of investors over a period of several years.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Week Before Christmas

'Twas the retailing week before Christmas,
And surprisingly up-trending business
Had retailers singing:
"May next year's cha-chinging
Be ever so cheery as this was."  

Reports from the UK show early holiday sales strong enough to give concern that the momentum can't last into the first quarter of 2011, perhaps robbing St. Patrick to pay St. Nicholas, as it were. 
Thanks to Alexandria Lefkovits for inspiration and assistance - Happy Christmas shopping to all, and to all a good buy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

FCIC Blue, & Red

"The truth is unsparingly ugly:
That mortgage-backed bonds became bubbly,
Thanks to Wall Street's big guys
Who would securitize
The same mortgages triply or doubly."   

"The real estate market was screamin' out:
'We must cast the government demon out!
We'd have steadily grown
If they'd left us alone,
Except when they didn't bail Lehman out.'"

New York Times reporter Heidi Moore writes in DealBook that Democrats and Republicans on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) have drawn entirely different lessons from the financial crisis.  Like the characters in the classic Japanese film Rashomon, they witnessed the same crime but tell conflicting tales.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monkey Business

A powerful spam-catching system
Thought the Goose was a spammer, and dissed 'im;
"A poet of spam
Is not what I am,"
Said he, "but of financial wisdom."  

Some of you receive these limericks daily via e-mail provided by the e-distributor MailChimp.  Having been very satisfied with MailChimp's excellent (and free) service, I was dismayed to find that they did not send out yesterday's verse and gave notice that they would no longer serve as e-mail provider to Limericks Économiques.  Their spam-filtering search engine had evidently found the limericks in violation of the MailChimp Terms of Use: to wit, "Exhibit (f): online trading, day trading tips, or stock market related content."

Well, well... playing the animal solidarity card between primates and waterfowl, I managed to escalate this problem to a "Freddie von Chimpenheimer III" in Compliance, to Blake in Client Services, who apologized and reinstated Dr. Goose and his verses.  All is well, with geese and chimps once again working hand in wing.  From here on out, nothing will stop the daily e-mail delivery of Limericks Économiques (except for the Unsubscribe button).

If you or a friend would like to subscribe, use the subscription box on the home page of

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fed-Up Stock Market

Sinking rates was the Fed's one desire
In becoming a big T-note buyer;
Though for naught they did meddle
In bonds, they can settle
For driving stock indices higher.   

The Wall Street Journal's Ahead of the Tape columnist, Kelly Evans, notes that "QE2" (the second round of quantitative easing) failed in its goal of lowering long-term interest rates, but has been correlated with a 19% increase in the S&P 500 index since August.  Should we take stimulus any way we can get it?

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Stiffener for the Sagging Left

"Those who carp that I didn't act forcefully,"
Said the President, quite unremorsefully,
"May forget that the name
Of this Washington game
Is to tack against headwinds resourcefully."  

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bond Vigilantes vs. the Tax Deal

Hitting federal finances adversely,
It caused T-bonds to tumble down tersely;
The effect on bond yield
Of this tax-cutting deal  

In relation to price, went inversely.

The tax rate compromises agreed upon between President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans sparked a sell-off in the Treasury bond market.  Sellers, characterized as "bond vigilantes" for their willingness to call politicians to account, demanded higher yields for the perceived higher risk of a future US fiscal crisis.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tax Revolt in the House

"Disappointment," said Congressman Weiner,
"Among Democrats couldn't be keener;
This tax compromise
Gives a plummier prize
To those for whom pastures are greener."    

President Barack Obama faced a potential revolt by the Democratic members of the House of Representatives, after his tax cut compromise with Congressional Republicans handed what many considered to be outsized rewards to the wealthy; in particular, the lowering of the estate tax rate to 35% was galling to members such as Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Hanukkah Miracle

Said Cantor, pleasantly stunned,
"A great miracle here has been done:
'Stead of tax-cutting fights
For eight days and nights,
They've fitfully folded in one."    

President Barack Obama reached agreement Monday with Republican leaders in Congress (including their House Whip, Eric Cantor) on a tax package that would extend the Bush-era income tax cuts for two years, reduce worker payroll taxes for one year and give more favorable treatment to business investments.  This angered some liberal groups, who had expected a showdown with Republicans over the issue of extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Senator from Vermont

Said Sanders: "I could have predicted
How the wealthy their way have inflicted,
Since the votes on the Right
They've locked up airtight,
And those on the Left are conflicted."   

In the debate over retaining tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, Vermont's Senator Bernie Sanders - a Socialist -  offers one of the few full-throated defenses of progressive taxation, a policy that once ago was centrist.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Now It Can Be Told

When the Credit Crunch sudd'nly impacted them,
The Fed from disaster extracted them;
Now the facts are disclosed
On those banks that imposed
On those programs with odd-sounding acronyms.   

The Federal Reserve Bank has published the details on those US and international banks and corporations that borrowed under such "lifeline" programs as 
Term Auction Facility (TAF), Term Securities Lending Facility (TSLF), and Primary Dealer Credit Facility (PDCF).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The WikiLeaker

Wanted abroad and at home is he
And few have as much reason to roam as he;
Since Assange has the chance
To do to Finance
As he's done to Defense and Diplomacy.

WikiLeaks' Australian founder, Julian Assange, is hiding in an undisclosed location, as Interpol has a warrant for his arrest on a rape charge in Sweden, and the financial world speculates about a rumored Bank of America document cache. Does his status as an "enemy of the state" represent payback for the leaks of Iraq War documents and State Department cables... or the long arm of Charlotte NC?

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