My proposal to make this world a better place is simple and to the point. We as a country should eliminate political parties together all together. Why I think this will work is that it will help the most qualified individuals rise to the top within politics.
Think about all the damage parties do. Not only do they polarize the country (who’s ready to jump off a cliff) but they manipulate the parties for office. Think about it. To begin with to even get to a general election officials have to compete in primaries. During these events every person is trying to either outdemocrat or outrepublican their opposition. This can take someone who was a centrist and force them to go to either one extreme or the other (because who really votes in primaries…people who are staunchly on one side or the other.) Therefore by the time officials move to the general election we either get the crazies or good candidates become crazies.
Instead, if there were no parties then we could simply vote on people based on merit. Instead of pandering to the “right” or “left” people could simply say what they believe in and stick too it. This would help get the most qualified people into office as well as have much more centrist politicians (if there is such a thing).
Overall I think its miserable living in the political climate we are in and believe that the two-party system is at the root of it. Lets get rid of it and see what happens…it certainly can’t be any worse than it is now.
The Collapse of Lehman Brothers
Lehman Brothers was viewed as one of the titans on Wall Street and was the fourth biggest investment bank in the United States at the time of its bankruptcy. However, the company itself had much humbler origins. Lehman was founded in Montgomery, Alabama in 1844 as a general store run by three German immigrants, Henry, Emanuel and Mayer Lehman. This quiet general store evolved into one of the biggest banks in the United States and had survived through various wars and market panics over its 164 year history. Then suddenly over one weekend Lehman stopped existing all together filing for bankruptcy on September 15th 2008. Continue reading
The above graph is courtesy of Bloomberg. The top half shows the spread between the UK 3 month LIBOR (Orange) and the OIS 3 month rate (white). The difference between the two rates is that LIBOR is artificially created by bankers, whereas the OIS rate is established by the market. The second half of the graph displays the spread between the two rates. Historically speaking the two rates track each other almost identically, as they should if bankers are submitting honest quotes. However, during the credit crunch the spread between these two rates widened to historical highs as LIBOR quickly decreased (meaning borrowing was cheaper) whereas the OIS rate only dropped to that level after the credit crunch was over. No graph shows the LIBOR scandal and its manipulation better than this one in my opinion.
For my paper I want to tackle a subject that was recently in the news, and that was the LIBOR scandal. For my first proposal I want to look at the LIBOR scandal through the lens of the business involved.
The first thing I want to go into is a detailed description of what LIBOR is. LIBOR stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate and is an interest rate set by a group of the largest global banks. I think the history of LIBOR, and why it was created is important in understanding why it is such a big part of our society today and why the scandal itself is such a big deal.
The next issue I want to explore is how LIBOR is created and who is involved in the process. This examination of LIBOR is important in showing how it was open for corruption as well as the obvious conflict of interest created by the banks that set LIBOR. Furthermore, it is important to understand that LIBOR is just one cog that was manipulated and in fact there were many different rates and different types of LIBOR that were all manipulated during the scandal.
The next part of my paper which I want to delve into is what exactly happened, as in how was LIBOR actually manipulated by traders at Barclays (and other banks). This is the heart of the business portion of the scandal and focuses on the decisions which employees at Barclays made. It is interesting to examine 1.) how easy it was for them to manipulate the rate and 2.) how little they cared about what they were doing. Overall this section will be a bit more technical in describing how LIBOR was manipulated.
Finally, I want to retrospectively discuss why these bankers acted the way they did. What may not be known is that LIBOR was manipulated in two different ways at two different time periods. I plan on examining both of these environments within the bank and why the bankers acted the way they did. In the first scenario bankers were manipulating LIBOR to create profit, while in the second scenario, during the credit crunch, bankers were manipulating the rate so that the banks themselves would appear solvent. I believe it is important to retroactively go back and understand the reasons why the traders acted in the way they did to better understand the motives and how to stop it in the future.
Ken Lay: @DickFuld dude how did you manage to blow up Lehman? #LOSERRRRRRR
Dick Fuld: @KenLay: At least I am not in jail and all our the businesses we were involved in were LEGITIMATE #dontdropthesoap
Ken Lay: @DickFuld YEAH RIGHT! You were as much of a crook as I was at #Enron #RIP
Dick Fuld: @KenLay not even close, our collapse was a product of #poorriskmanagement not of #cheating
Ken Lay: @DickFuld whatever helps you sleep at night man….just remember you almost collapsed the entire economy, probably should have just stopped being so #stubborn and saved you company
Dick Fuld: @KenLay look who is talking, you lost all your employees and now you are poor. At least I’m still #RICHHHHHHH
I’m sure most people in this class have tried, if not heard about Fiji water. The company, simply known as Fiji markets itself as selling natural artesian water from the island of Fiji. I have tried the product myself and I noticed something a bit odd. On each individual bottle of Fiji the company writes “1% for the planet”. The idea behind this is that Fiji donates 1% of their sales to organizations in support of environmental causes. This is a noble cause that I aplaud the company for upholding. However, when you go to their store website, the first advertisement which comes up when you google Fiji water, the first main slogan states “from the islands of Fiji delivered to your doorstep”.
These two ideas seem to be at odds. How could a company that in theory cares so much about the environment that they want to give 1% of all revenue to support it, justify shipping water from Fiji to the US and also displacing the water all together. These ideas seem to be at odds for me. I assume that the company itself in reality does more damage to the environment by producing its water than it restores through its donations. This raises the question of why try all together. For me I think it is nothing more than a corporate company with a guilty conscious. The company itself is trying to generate positive PR and spin by trying to be environmentally friendly while its core business helps destroy the very environment it looks to protect. I find this contrast within the Fiji company, and really all bottled water companies to be very interesting.
Recently Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, banned the sale of soda in quantities greater than 16 oz… in restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums or arenas. The ridiculousness of this law is off the charts. To begin with, if you have not noticed missing from this list is places like convenience stores, and super markets. These are the places that sell the bulk of the soda too. Furthermore, the law does not stipulate that the total quantity served to you has to be 16 ounces or less. So in theory, you could simply buy two sodas, or at a restaurant you have unlimited soda. After all of this my question is what is the point? Seriously I can not think of a more ridiculous law out there. Not only are the loopholes and omissions laughable, but there is no teeth to it and the hypocrisy is absurd. The point of the law is to help fight obesity, a noble cause since Americans are too fat anyways. But what I don’t get is the lunacy of it. A far more effective law would be to tax sugary drinks, the same way we tax alcohol and cigarettes as a “sin” tax. Of course this might actually change people’s habits (let alone hurting corporations) so it was not implemented. But at least Bloomberg is preventing us all from drinking unlimited soda out of a 24 oz. cup versus a 16 oz one at McDonald’s while we eat a Big Mac and large fries. I’m sure my doctor will be sending him a thank you card any day.
Since the beginning of the Great Recession the U.S. Federal Reserve aka. the Fed has kept interest rates close to 0%. The goal of this program was to help boost the economy. This boosting of the economy was supposed to come from greater investment and spending as cash was cheap. However, it is obvious with unemployment still above 8% and GDP growing at 1.2% that this decision by the Fed has done relatively little good.
What is not discussed is the collateral damage caused by this program, specifically the cost to the U.S. saver. If you open a bank account today you might be lucky if you receive .01% interest back. This means your real rate of return is negative due to inflation. Think about that, by leaving your money in the bank you are actually becoming poorer. The worst part about this is the fiscally responsible among us, those people who don’t spend more than they have, and put money in the bank for later are the ones paying the price for the reckless spending of others.
Instead of trying to instill an ethos of financial prudence among the American people, all the Fed is doing in the name of “growth” and “recovery” (I for one have yet to see either) is launching a war against our most fiscally responsible while encouraging people and businesses to spend recklessly through “cheap” cash in the form of debt…I wonder how this is going to turn out.
For my first paper I think I want to do something involving Enron, and corporate responsibility, as well as corporate fraud. I think Enron itself is such an interesting and complex case that can be more deeply explored than what was just in the case. I want to view the case by trying to identify all of the parties who were to blame, and try and identify what their motives were and how they treated both their stakeholders and shareholders. This mindset of everyone involved is interesting because it dives into the question of nature versus nurture. Had Enron created a toxic environment or were there simply a couple of bad apples who ruined everything. By trying to understand all parties motives I think that at least part of this question can be tackled.
Mike Daisy: Before I start my monologue there is something important I need to say. I want you all to know that this play is a portrayal of real events. Some of these events were taken directly from a trip I made to China about a year ago while others have come from stories which you may have read about in the news.
The purpose of this monologue is to get you, the crowd, thinking about your products and gadgets as more than just toys which appear on in the store. There are real consequences to our buying habits. This monologue is going to display those consequences and what life is like in China for those people who make your products. I hope you all enjoy the show.