Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Men Behind The Curtain No Longer Hide Their Deeds

They no longer believe that they have to. They believe that they can't be touched.

"The world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes" -- Benjamin Disraeli , 1844

Some days the truth just smacks you in the face.

excerpt from:

Hedge fund employs Greenspan as adviser

By Stephen Foley in New York
Published: 16 January 2008

The hedge fund that has profited most from the bursting of the US housing bubble has hired the man widely blamed for inflating it in the first place: former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.

Paulson & Co, the New York-based hedge-fund manager whose bets against the US mortgage market earned it $15bn (£7.6bn) last year, said yesterday that Mr Greenspan will become an adviser on economic issues and monetary policy.

It is the third major advisory role taken by Mr Greenspan since his retirement two years ago. He already works for Deutsche Bank and the bond investment house Pimco, but this latest position is his most eye-catching, considering Mr Greenspan has been blamed for sowing the seeds of the current credit crisis by keeping interest rates too low for too long in the early years of the decade. Inflated house prices in many parts of the US are now coming down sharply and mortgage defaults are rising, sending shockwaves through the financial markets where mortgage derivatives are traded.

It was bets against mortgage derivatives that pushed Paulson & Co funds up last year and netted its founder, John Paulson, a personal pay-day of between $3bn and $4bn. His funds are continuing to place bearish bets on other areas of the financial markets, most notably corporate debt, in the expectation of a US recession this year. Mr Greenspan, too, now believes a recession is likely.

"Anticipating the direction of the economy, and assessing the potential for and severity of a US recession, are fundamental in formulating investment strategy," Mr Paulson said. "Mr Greenspan's [experience]... gives him a unique perspective from which to help our team."

excerpt from:
U.S. Offers Saudis 'Smart' Arms Technology

As Bush visits the kingdom, his administration formally unveils the planned sale, which Congress has the authority to block.

By James Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 15, 2008

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA -- President Bush began two days of talks with Saudi leaders Monday as his administration sent formal notice to Congress of a controversial U.S. sale of "smart bomb" technology to this desert kingdom.

The visit here with Saudi King Abdullah is one of the most diplomatically challenging stops of the president's six-nation passage across the Middle East. Bush is pressing the Saudis to support both peacemaking efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians and U.S. moves to limit Iran's influence in the region.

Bush said early today that he would bring up the subject of high oil prices in his meeting with Abdullah.

"Oil prices are very high, which is tough on our economy," he told a group of Saudi entrepreneurs during a meeting at the U.S. Embassy.

The arms technology is part of a broad program announced in July that eventually could transfer an estimated $20 billion worth of military hardware to six Persian Gulf nations. The effort, along with arms sales to Israel and Egypt, is intended in part to help U.S. allies offset Iran's military power and political clout in the region.

The most controversial element of the sales is the offer to the Saudis of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, technology that allows standard weapons to be converted into precision-guided bombs. The deal envisions the transfer to Saudi forces of 900 upgrade kits worth about $120 million.

Don't Mind The Men Behind The Curtain -- Zeitgeist The Movie, Part III

post title corrected 1/16/08 12:25pm ESt
At 3am it's important to proofread :-)

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