Showing posts from October, 2011


So, let’s say you have bad credit and you want to repair it with a group that promises it will give anyone credit… for a price.  Now let’s say that that group gives you $300 in credit, but instantly charges a $29 finance charge, a $6.50 account maintenance fee and a $150 annual fee against the $300 credit limit.  Further, the agreement includes a clause that compels you to arbitrate any dispute you have with the credit card company.  Will a court allow you to sue the credit card company anyway, despite that provision?  That’s the issue in CompuCredit Corp. v. Greenwood which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
I write about court cases in the Northern District of California for my blog. One case that has been moving through the federal courts, and was recently argued at the U.S. Supreme Court involved the issue of which statute governs in a case like the one above.  As Judge Claudia Wilken explained at the trial court: The CROA [Credit Repair Organizations Act] contains a non-waiver p…

I'm Still Around

When Rumi finally completes the long-delayed Vol. 3 of Masnavi, his explanation in the opening verse of the book is the most compelling: It takes time for blood to turn into milk! His excuse/reason is doubly profound if you know the background story which had to do with his son's prolonged illness from which he happily recovered.

I have no such exquisite reason but reasons good enough. I had several commitments, some quite time-consuming, that came due one after another in September and October. Then I began a long-planned month-long trip to areas with spotty, slow and blocked internet access which made writing very difficult and posting impossible. Let us say that all was a Black Swan. That should explain everything.

My apologies and thanks for the kind inquiries. I am not back to my base yet but getting there. Will return shortly.

Saturday Morning Housecleaning

I went back and cleaned up a bunch of comment spam. Comment spam, I'm finding out, grows geometrically once it takes root. For instance, my most-popular post ever:

Debunking Gary Gorton's Fire Sale Thesis

Was completely lousy with comment spam, with more than 50 comments, and all but six just crap. The spam had overrun the comment section like some kind of kudzu-inspired mold life form.

In cleaning up the spam, I found myself in the ironic position of deleting comments that offered high (but phony, non-specific) praise of my intellectual insights, while leaving a few comments that basically suggested I was a blowhard (but that were real).

Vive l'open society.

So anyway, be forewarned if you're hawking UK dissertation papers, low auto insurance quotes, shutters for sale in Clearwater, Florida -- I'm onto you. Go foul someone else's watering hole.

Well, I Got This One Right at Least

Every so often, as a blogger, you look back on previous posts to answer the question, "Was I just being shrill and pessimistic or was I onto something?"

A year ago, I wrote "The Foreclosure Mess: 7 Reasons Why It's Much Worse Than You Think."

And I'd say, though the post wasn't wholly original content, that I got this one right as the MERS mess drags on (random observation: MERS and MESS are practically the same word, as the "r" in MERS is only one letter space -- i.e., p-q-r-s -- away from being MESS. Keep those ironies coming, mortgage industry!)

Leonardo Dicaprio: Travel and Scuba diving

Leonardo Dicaprio

Question 1:  What’s the best place you’ve visited? Leonardo Dicaprio Answer 1: Wow… There are quite a few. Thailand is one of the most amazing places that I’ve ever been. I’m a big scuba-diver, too, so I just went to the Galapagos Islands.
Question 2:  Where else do you recommend diving? Leonardo Dicaprio Answer 2: You can’t beat the Great Barrier Reef for coral reefs.
Travel is a common topic of conversation amongst friends and people you don’t know so well.  This topic is neutral and anyone can participate by asking questions or explaining their travel experience.  Also, people tend to talk about travel because it is exciting!
Conversation Flow
Leo (Leonardo) starts by showing his enthusiasm for the topic with the word ‘Wow’ following with the idea that there are many great places in the world.  However, to keep the conversation interesting, he naturally says a location ‘Thailand’ and one of his favorite activities ‘scuba diving’.  Leo finishes his thought with the las…

Global Tax Proposals On The Way

Along with loads of responses towards global economic crisis and climate changing implications, bulks of proposals for global taxes have also ushered in. Global taxes on banks as well as all financial institutions; tax on specific international monetary transactions as well as on carbon for energy usage are some of the major proposals. Owing to the unpleasant consequences of the Asian Financial Crisis, the G20 instructed the International Monetary Fund to give suggestions whether tax should be levied on financial institutions as well as financial transactions.
After discussions, it was inferred that the primary objectives of taxes on financial institutions as well as transactions will be to recuperate the monetary expenses in order to bring out banks from financial crisis and also create a fund to handle such critical situations in future. Another purpose was to restrict speculative activities witnessed in financial transactions.
On the other hand, the sole purpose of carbon taxes was t…

I-9 Compliance Help – Avoiding the Liabilities with Law

The federal law in recent times has come up with stricter enforcement to The Immigration Reform and Control Act. This strict enforcement ensures that every United States based employer needs to carry out stricter employment eligibility check for each new employee to the organization. The employment eligibility check was always carried through a document referred to as I-9 Form, which now comes with changed policies. Since, mishandling not pertaining to the changed rules can affect your organization poorly, it is essential on your part to seek effective I-9 compliance help for being sure with the employment eligibility check at your organization.
Remember, that the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, and/or the Office of Special Counsel for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practice of the Department of Justice can ask any U.S.A based organization to provide the I-9 forms of all employees at any time. Therefore, it is necessary that you run a scrutinized check freq…

Elizabeth Hurley photos


Alanis Morissette: Staying Fit

Alanis Morissette

Staying fit has become a common topic in North America.  Let’s look at singer-songwriter and multiple Grammy winner Alanis Morissette’s fitness strategy.
Question: How do you keep fit? Alanis Morissette Answer:  I'm a cross trainer. One day I'll go bicycling, and the next I'll do some kickboxing or go out for a long walk. Basketball and Volleyball are my favorite sports. I dance, too. Doing the same thing every day is not right for my temperament.
This week a simple speaking tip that can help improve conversation and language skills.  The strategy is to use more than one sentence for an answer.  Expanding your language answers will help to make your language more complex and interesting.  Also, it gives the listener more topics to ask you about. 
In her answer, she starts with a general fitness idea and then gives more details. In her last sentence, Alanis tells the listener the r…

DVA: Accounting Gimmickry That Makes No Sense

Once again, the banks are booking big profits based on DVA -- debt valuation adjustment -- because their creditworthiness has deteriorated. Once again, this accounting gimmickry makes absolutely no sense.

The rationale for booking DVA gains: the debt you have issued becomes cheaper as your credit risk rises, so theoretically you can buy it back at a lower price, saving money.

This is ridiculous because it ignores the fact, as I explain in this post from two and a half years ago, that it costs more to raise the money to buy back the debt.

The gains don't exist. They're completely illusionary.

The DVA accounting convention is a sham. It shouldn't be allowed. Isn't there an accountant out there bright enough to see the inherent absurdity in it?

Essential Questions to ask before hiring a financial planner


Being buried deep in debt can be a most unpleasant situation for anyone. It may even come to a point when you will need professional help to get your finances back in order. However, making this decision is not as easy as it sounds. Hiring a financial planner means stretching your limited financial resources to the breaking point. You have to make sure that the financial planner you hire will provide you with 100% honest services and excellent money management tips. Getting a financial advisor is no joke because it means investing lots of trust and confidence in someone who will help you run your financial affairs more smoothly. Besides, financial advisors are called in not only to help people manage their debts, but also to prepare for the future, such as retirement. That means that you open up more than just your financial portfolio to your advisor—you also let him in on your family history, plans for the future and personal priorities.
One big decisionYou can interview as man…

Fran Capo: Fastest Talking Female on the Planet

Fran Capo

Fran Capo is a keynote motivational speaker, 15 time author, comedienne, TV show host, spokesperson, adventurer and five time world record holder, most known as the Guinness Book of World Records fastest talking female. She has appeared on over 350 television and 4500 radio shows worldwide including; Entertainment Tonight, Fox & Friends, The Late Show, Martha Stewart, Larry King Live and the Discovery Channel. Her "Cuppa Capo's" which are humorous motivational Vlog tips are sent out daily if you subscribe to Cuppacapo and she has a monthly newsletter called, Capo update. She is high energy, down to earth and has spoken to Fortune 500 companies on every continent. To learn more about her, check out Follow her on and


Alex Question: Are there other people in your family who are considered fast talkers?
Fran Capo Answer: No. I always joke though that my sister, who taught herself how …

Is Occupy Wall Street the Beginning of the Revolution?

When I returned to my homeland a few years ago, after the financial crisis and a brief period abroad, I was quite dismayed.

It's not that America suddenly had changed. We had been changing for a while. Money had been growing into a monster force in politics. Our Washington politicians were far too quiet on social issues, like poverty and the distribution of wealth, where armies of lobbyists didn't represent entrenched interests.

Our politics were getting uglier in other ways. There was less ability to work together for the common good. It was as if, in an age of drama-seeking reality TV shows, politicians thought they had to vie for airspace by pumping out increasingly ludicrous and confrontational soundbites.

But what angered me the most was how we blew the opportunity to have a soul-searching moment about our financial system and effect real change after the 2008 crisis.

Steve Waldman has a brilliant paragraph over at his interfluidity blog about the unfairness of TARP:
Once you …

Manage Your Finances in Recession: Tips to Survive

Often the focus of your finances is on what you can be doing to make them grow, make them stronger and make them work harder for you. However, in a recession, you also need to be aware of the external forces which can affect your financial stability and which are out of your control. Knowing that interest rates will be fluctuating, job security will be fragile and credit will be hard to get can help you manage your finances and make changes which are within your control, to survive.
To manage your finances in a recession you need these tips:
    * Clear high interest debts. In a recession your high interest debts should be your highest priority and you should focus on paying them off as soon as you can. Your high interest debts are taking a big chunk of your budget each and every month and if money became tighter or if you lost your job, you would struggle to meet those high interest payments.
    * Over pay your mortgage. The last thing you want to have to do in a recession is sell your…

Johnny Depp: Questions

Johnny Depp

Questions and Answers are the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a conversation.  Asking a good question is more difficult than it appears.  Let’s look at a Johnny Depp Interview. Focus on the questions after you have read and enjoyed Johnny’s answers.

INTERVIEW Question 1:What attracts you to odd hats?
Johnny Depp Answer 1: I don't know, maybe I read too many Dr. Seuss books when I was a kid. I hadn't thought about that, actually, the hat thing.

Question 2:Are you fond, in films, of wearing long hair? Is it something that makes you comfortable, to have your hair long, or does it matter?
Johnny Depp Answer 2: No, I'd always thought, probably very stupidly, I thought that, you know, if your hair is down…you're hiding. So you're invisible, you know? People can't see you.  Now I have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter who won't let me cut my hair.
Question Usage Analysis Analysis 1: This question is simple and straightforward.  However, the interviewer uses a “What” que…