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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ctrl BG: A Shortcut to Financial News 11/15

This week was actually quite eventful.

It started off with China announcing a $600 billion fiscal stimulus plan effective from now until 2010, to be spent on infrastructure and social projects. Even this Asia powerhouse is not imperious to the global economic downturn, they are expecting growth to slow down to 8-9% as opposed to the double digit growth in the last 5 years. On the plus side, at least they're able to and are doing something to increase the liquidity in their economy.

Over in Europe, things are not so positive. Latvia a small European country, part of the former Soviet Union, just took over their second largest bank, Parex, last weekend. Are they going to be the next Iceland?

Back in the US, American Express got approved to become a bank holding company on Tuesday (just like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley). This way, they'll have better access to capital both from deposits AND from the government, which is probably a good move since consumer loans is expected to hit next and Amex has a LOT of business in that (obviously).

The latest bank in the spotlight is Citigroup. The good news is that on Tuesday, they joint the ranks of Bank of America and JP Morgan to refinance mortgages to help people stay in their homes. The bad news is that Citigroup will be laying off 10% of their workforce (which may add up to 40,000 layoffs!) and doing some serious cost cutting.
People are also not very happy with their (relatively) new CEO Vikram Pandit. He lost the Wachovia deal to Wells Fargo and the share price has gone down from $50 last year to $9 on Friday. The board is now questioning whether he's up for the job after all (granted it really wasn't his fault that Citi is in such deep trouble, he was just called in to fix Chuck Prince's mess). He is expected to be making a huge speech about all this on Monday.

On Wednesday, Paulson announced that they were changing their strategy for the use of the $700bn bailout- now known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. Instead of buying up bad mortgage debt, they are now going to use the remainder of the funds to directly inject capital into financial institutions. They realized that given the current situation, the original plan was becoming cumbersome and it was just easier and more efficient this way to directly inject capital in order to stabilize the financial system and get lending going, which right now they seem to have achieved (temporarily anyway). But then the question becomes, at which point do they stop giving capital injections to anyone who asks?

This question is especially interesting with the current fiasco in the auto industry. The big 3 are now desperately lobbying for a $25 billion financial aid package to save them from filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy, which means liquidation and going out of business. This would potentially indirectly lead to millions of job losses, due to its huge supply chain. Obama and the democrats are all for it, but some of the Republicans are more reluctant. I can actually see where they are coming from. Bailing out the banking industry is one thing, since banks are a huge part of our economy and will still be around in 50 years time. The auto industry on the other hand, is a dying industry. American cars are simply not globally competitive enough to survive on the long term. They are not as luxurious as European cars, they are not as cheap as Chinese cars and they are not as endurable and gimmicky as Japanese cars. They would slowly go out of business anyway. The current economic situation is just speeding up the process.
I'd invest in a Chanel flap bag because I know that it will still be elegant and classic 20 years down the road, but I wouldn't spend the same amount of money on a Coach bag, even if it is limited edition and super luxed up. But I guess the $25 billion will buy us more time to "prepare", so it doesn't add to oil to the current fire. They are also quibbling about where this money should be coming from. The Democrats want it to come out of the TARP money (which makes sense, especially given the "new" strategy) and Bush wants to widen the budget deficit. I believe they're hoping to approve the package this week in the lame-duck session (if anyone is interested in why it is called the lame-duck session, as I was, check it out here).

The G20 also had a meeting on Saturday
to discuss the world economy. There weren't any specific guidelines, but they agreed to join their efforts to achieve common objectives, like to improve the regulations and functioning of the financial markets. It's a start. And the power of 20 is definitely more powerful than that of one.

Random: American Apparel Striped Hoodie

I've heard from several sources in New York and elsewhere that this American Apparel Striped Hoodie: the most copped item in the streets.
Do you know someone who has one?
Just wondering...

Anthony Bourdain: Padma Lakshmi Unfit to Host “Top Chef,” Much Less Be the New Secretary of State

Possums, why is this man laughing?

Well, now we know why, and are certain he won't be back on Top Chef.

According to the Miami New Times, professional provocateur Anthony Bourdain had less than kind words to say about our Padma, finding her the hostess with the leastest:

"...Bourdain said he was a huge fan of host and fellow chef Tom Colicchio but snubbed co-host...Padma Lakshmi. Jabbing at the beauty’s intelligence, he said she wouldn’t be his first choice for Barack Obama’s cabinet...[sic]or to host a show."

Welcome to Miami, bienvenido a Meow-mi.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A white haired kind hearted and wise old lady came by my stall

This lady came to my Charity Food Sale Stall and fondly looked at my kuih muih.

Very gently she showed me her coupons and asked what she could get for them. I suggested the goodies she could buy and she decided very quickly what she wanted and gave me the correct coupons. She was still very alert and wise in her decision making.

I noticed her beautiful hair and her beautiful jade earrings. She was still very neat and her jade earrings indicated her sense of style. She must have kept these earrings all her life! (upon reflection I lost my pair of jade earrings to some petty thief who broke into my house! Now I don't have the heart to buy another pair.)

So I asked her if I could take her pictures. She graciously allowed me to photograph her.

And I did wish then I had a better camera. The second photo was over exposed because I was shooting from inside the tent and the camera had not adjusted to the lighting.

She then thanked me for the goodies and the photograph session. She was a real star!!

She was all for charity but she was more charitable towards me and my interest.A chance meeting like this is rare. She made my day!

I then wished that we should have more people like her in our world.
Good sport!!

Thanks Card

Front: Thanks
Interior: ... For Raising My Spirits !!!

Barbie Goes Fashion for her 50th Anniversary

I don't know about y'all, but when I was a young buck, I was obsessed with Barbie. The house, bubble bath, corvette, I wanted (and still have) everything!!!
So when I read in WWD that Barbie would be getting a fashion makeover for her 50th anniversary, I had to report!
They say, “Mattel is lining up new partnerships with Bloomingdale’s, Vera Wang, Jeremy Scott, IMG and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The company plans a runway show in February, as part of fashion week in New York, with 50 as-yet-undisclosed designers who will produce life-size outfits inspired by Barbie [including] a life-size wedding gown designed by Vera Wang, which includes a Barbie wearing a miniature version of the dress." How cute is that?? I might have to make a return trip to NYC to see it!
Ah, I remember the days of putting grease in my Barbie's hair. That didn't really work on the blondes, but no matter.
What are some of your Barbie memories??

Amuse-Biatch Spelling Bee-atch: By GeorgeS, Bravo Has Done It Again!

Well, possums, they can't seem to get it right.

Last season, when they only had Jean-Georges Vongerichten's pastry chef on, they misspelled his name as "Jean Gorges" (besides misspelling the pastry chef's name). And now that they have the man himself--who is repeatedly lauded as one of the greatest chefs in the country--on as a guest judge, they've done it again. Tsk, tsk, Bravo. What happened to living up to the exacting standards of New York?

Music Bomb: Kanye West's "Heartless" Video

I know "Heartless" has been out for a while now but every time I watch this video, I get taken in by the fashion deets in the animation. The fringe and red soles on the fuschia Louboutins, the graphic designs on Yeezy's sweater, and the exact replica of his living room. Bananas.

Can't wait for the album--11/24!!

Winter wallpaper

Mail Bombs: Halle Berry's Black Bag, Taraji's Red Carpet Look, and Spectator Inspired Flats!

Happy Friday!
We've finally recovered from the madness of H&M! Besides, a few pushes would never keep us from Mail Bombs:
First reader Merethea asks, "What is the brand name of Halle Berry's handbag??"
According to our friends over at What's Haute, Ms. Berry is rocking this Cartier Marcello Bag:
It comes in varying sizes, averaging $1000 for the small version to $1600 for the large. Find yours at
Next Alexandrea saw this picture over at the YBF...
...and says, "Can you help me recreate this look the fabulous Meagan Good is rocking??"
Get her look with these:
1. Express Leather Bomber Jacket, $248. 2. Express Shiny Knit Leggings, $39.50. 3. Guess by Marciano Debbilee Sandals, $81.
Lucky you, is having a buy 1, get 1 half off sale! Get on it!
Samona says, "Where can I get Taraji's dress..."
"...or a really good knock off?"
We couldn't find the exact designer, so you'll have to settle with this $308 Tadashi Tie Front Jersey Dress:'s green, ties in front, and is saucy without the shine. Good luck!
Next Gerri says, "I really love Alicia's shoes! I especially love the pink colors!"
"Could you please let me know if there are more affordable shoes similar to these?"
The closest thing I could find to Alicia's shoes were these Davis By Ruthie Davis Women's Pixel Peep Toe Booties:
At $550 they're not quite affordable, though knowing Alicia's steeze, they're probably less than the originals.
Now we have a few wardrobe queries!
Jaime says, "I was hoping you guys could help me. I refuse to purchase another pair of Uggs..YES they are comfy and warm BUT they are sooooooooo 'played'..."
"Was wondering if my fashion guides (that would be you!!!) could help me in making a fabulous NEW and comfy move into a new pair of boots."
Adriana and I feel your pain! Stay cozy (and cute) in these non Ugg alternatives:
1. Ecco Women's Winter Zone Boot, $180. 2. Cougar Cutie Boot, $58. 3. Michael Kors Altitude Wedge Boot, $440. 4. Juicy Couture Snow Zip Quilted Wedge Boot, $228. 5. Moncler Tall Bubble Boots, $500. 6. The North Face Women's Hailey Boot, $160. 7. Sporto Women's Gojo Boots, $80. 8. Muks Women's Original Mukluks, $336. 9. Burberry Women's Fur Trim Snow Boots, $595.
Lastly, Ella says, "I have a friend that has been looking for wingtip flats for women. I've been diligent about my search but I can't seem to find any wingtips that aren't heels. Any idea where I can find spectator-inspired flats?"
Try these for a chic look:
1. Pour la Victoire Women's Oxfords, $126. 2. Jeffrey Campbell Wing Tip Bootie, $100. 3. Stuart Weitzman Mailcall, $182.

For First Meeting of Fabian Society, Amuse-Biatch Presents Gratuitous and Suggestive Images of Thick-Accented Italian with Bodice-Ripper Name

Photographic Evidence Clears Thick-Accented European of Anti-Americanism Charges Made by Thick-Accented Nativist with Mispronounced Foreign Surname

Possums, as even The New York Times has noted, there was a whiff of anti-European sentiment in this first episode the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the days of freedom fries. It’s like Gangs of New York all over again.

Here is our attempt at a phonetic transcription of the charges that brought this controversy to a simmer:

Fawbio and Stefawn, they think Americans are lowah than them, just by theah personality and what they say, I don’t understand the Amereecan tawk, you know. I’m like, Listen, braow, you’re in my backyahd. Fawbio and Stefawn can open theah mouths as much as they want. It’s just going to make them look unprofessional and immachoh.

These charges of anti-Americanism were made by Mayflower descendant John Smith—er, make that one Daniel Gagnon (hard “g,” if you please; wouldn’t want people to think it was a French or furrin last name).

Let us leave aside the fact that when the American talk comes from the mouth of Monsieur Gagnon, we don’t understand it either. Let us also leave aside the fact that “Fawbio” [Fabio Viviani] is married to an American woman, and lives in the Republican bastion of Ventura County, California, where his restaurant is located a skip and a hop from the site of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and the Rodney King verdict.

And we can afford to leave these things aside because we have incontrovertible proof that Monsieur Gagnon’s accusations of anti-Americanism on the part of Signore Viviani are baseless. To wit:

How could anyone who so clearly enjoys dressing up as Wonder Woman even be suspected of anti-Americanism? What could be more American than Wonder Woman (or tattooing what looks like a dollar sign over one's heart)?

Well, how about Catwoman?

In light of this overwhelming evidence, we demand that Monsieur Gagnon withdraw these groundless accusations immediately. For shame, Monsieur, for shame! After all, lest you forget, the title of this episode is “Melting Pot,” which we took to be a cultural allusion—unless, of course, it refers to Padma’s favorite, um, dish. So, Monsieur Gagnon, in the immortal words of the similarly Gallic-named En Vogue, freedom-fry your mind, and the rest will follow.

Hooting Stars

A veritable raft of reader submissions today (well, 4, but its a record).

First is a fantastic full backpiece owl from Paulo Coruja, by Gu Tattoo, Tattoo You Studio, São Paulo, Brazil.

Next, Rae Fleming sent in this cute owl.

Paul sent us this owl-tline, can't wait to see finished article.

...aaaand then last but not least is this literary owl, submitted by Mattson Zust. It is "the owl who was god" illustration from "the thurber carnival".
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