Friday, 10 Dec 2010 | 3:17 PM ET

A Horse Outside

Posted By: John Carney

Are the Irish already getting accustomed to a more austere life?

One of the most popular songs in Ireland at this very moment is about how owning a horse is superior to owning a fancy automobile. It may be that the message is resonating with the Irish people. Or, you know, maybe it's just a really, really funny gag. The song is called "A Horse Outside" and it is by the Rubberbandits, a comedy hip-hop outfit from Limerick. The video, below, was released on December 8th.

Warning: There's a lot of foul language. So if that kind of thing offends you, consider turning down the volume. Also, if you are at work, listen with headphones.

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  Friday, 10 Dec 2010 | 1:57 PM ET

Senator Bernie Sanders Filibusters

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Vermont Senator Sanders is a socialist: Self confessed.

He's filibustering tax cuts right now—seen here on a Live Video Feed —from C-SPAN.

I think I disagree with every economic policy position Senator Sanders holds. But I have to give him this: The guy has heart.

I don't have any deep thoughts to share here.

Except the obvious: Raising taxes during a fragile recovery sounds like an appallingly bade idea.

Res ipsa loquitur.

Notwithstanding all that—Big Picture—Democracy is lovely to behold: Capra would be proud.

(Hat Tip: Business Insider. —for both the link and the Mr. Smith metaphor.)

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  Friday, 10 Dec 2010 | 1:45 PM ET

What the Goldman “Short Squeeze” Tells Us About the Volcker Rule

Posted By: John Carney
The Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
Getty Images
The Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

The news that Goldman Sachs credit traders attempted to scare rivals off of short positions in the mortgage market will no doubt bring more gnashing of the teeth. FT Alphaville and Felix Salmon have good write-ups about the plot.

But what I find most striking is that the guy advocating the trade—Michael Swenson—was not officially a prop trader. He didn’t work for one of Goldman Sachs’ hedge funds. He was, at least officially, running a client-facing part of Goldman’s business.

“I was a Managing Director in SPG Trading and co-managed the group. I was primarily responsible for the Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) trading desk, which was responsible for making markets in ABS securities and derivatives for our customer franchise. The ABS desk traded consumer ABS, sub-prime cash, singlename ABS credit default swaps (which I will refer to as "single names") and the ABX indices, which are a family of synthetic indices that reference a standard basket of 20 subprime deals,” Swenson said in his testimony on Capitol Hill in April, 2010.

So the question is, if the Volcker Rule had been in effect at the time, would it have had any impact on Swenson? I suspect the answer is, unfortunately, no.

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  Friday, 10 Dec 2010 | 12:59 PM ET

Former Goldman Sachs Computer Programmer Convicted in HFT Code Theft Case

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Former Goldman Sachs computer programmer Sergey Aleynikov was convicted by a jury today on charges copied that he stole code used by Goldman in high-frequency trading and planned to use the code to build a competing HFT trading system.

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  Friday, 10 Dec 2010 | 12:36 PM ET

A 'Double Dip' Chart to Start Your Weekend

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Looking for a "double dip" chart to start you weekend? So much the better if it makes you feel even worse about the housing market, you say?

Well then, check out this ugly beast.

Invictus, at Barry Ritholtz's, TheBigPicture.com has pulled data from the latest Flow of Funds \(Z.1\) report released today from the Fed to create "chart porn".

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  Friday, 10 Dec 2010 | 10:46 AM ET

Nicole Lapin's Short & Long List

Posted By: Nicole Lapin
Nicole Lapin
Nicole Lapin

Nicole Lapin, of CNBC's Worldwide Exchange, explains what she's long and what she's short this week.

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  Friday, 10 Dec 2010 | 9:57 AM ET

Steve Case: I Start My Day With Twitter

Posted By: Lori Ann LaRocco

The blogs and social networks were all a-twitter, if you will, chatting about the latest billionaire to donate the majority of their fortune to charity.

AOL Co-Founder Steve Case joins the ranks of Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn and Bill Gates as the tech titan announced he and his wife were joining The Giving Pledge. I caught up with Steve on the heels of his announcement and we dished on everything from philanthropy, the evolution of news gathering to the economy.

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  Friday, 10 Dec 2010 | 9:28 AM ET

Flying High: on Certainty and Consolidation

Posted By: Nicole Lapin
Getty Images

An airplane needs to be safe in order for passengers to board it. Likewise, an airline CEO wants to feel the same clarity and certainty that so many of his c-suite compadres do in order to sustain growth.

“We've seen over the last couple quarters really great growth, particularly across the Atlantic,” Simon Talling-Smith, British Airways North America CEO, told me as my guest host on “Worldwide Exchange.” He added that the dichotomy between strong growth and a lack of certainty might be mitigated by secure tax policy, which will bring “more confidence to the market, and that will be great.”

While tax breaks will help larger companies, like British Airways , to secure growth, Talling-Smith said that small businesses will benefit as well. “We’re doing a lot of work to make sure small businesses can trade and meet people face to face, so they can grow their businesses,” he said.

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  Friday, 10 Dec 2010 | 9:12 AM ET

Bank of America: Foreclosing Again

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Taxpayer Bailout Made $35 Billion (CNBC via AP) "The government's heavily criticized $700 billion financial rescue program has earned nearly $35 billion in income over the past two years, according to data obtained by The Associated Press. The data showed that income from the Troubled Asset Relief Program rose nearly 17 percent through November, compared to where it stood in October. The income was boosted by the government's ongoing sales of Citigroup."

Companies Staying in Cash (Wall Street Journal) Most cash since Eisenhower: "Corporate America's cash pile has hit its highest level in half a century. Rather than pouring their money into building plants or hiring workers, nonfinancial companies in the U.S.

were sitting on $1.93 trillion in cash and other liquid assets at the end of September, up from $1.8 trillion at the end of June, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. Cash accounted for 7.4% of the companies' total assets—the largest share since 1959.The cash buildup shows the deep caution many companies feel about investing in expansion while the economic recovery remains painfully slow and high unemployment and battered household finances continue to limit consumers' ability to spend."

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  Thursday, 9 Dec 2010 | 4:52 PM ET

Day Trading—Chinese Style

Posted By: Ash Bennington

CNBC's Diana Olick on Possible Expanded Role for GSEs (CNBC) "Last week I interviewed an investor who buys foreclosed properties and rents them out long-term for solid returns. He claims that's the only way to right the housing market — get long-term investors to eat up the excess inventory. The biggest roadblock, however, is credit.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both limit the number of investor mortgages. Multiple sources now tell me that the Administration, specifically over at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is considering ways to get more investors into the housing market, possibly with the help of Fannie and Freddie. HUD would not confirm that, but Fannie Mae's chief economist Doug Duncan said it is definitely on the table both at HUD and at Fannie. "

CNBC's Jeff Cox on Declines in The U.S. Treasury's Market. \(CNBC\) "Despite the surprise success of Thursday's 30-year bond auction, analysts think the outlook for Treasurys is anything but bullish—prices will continue to decline, pushing interest rates higher. The reason, most bond pros believe, is that economic signs are getting better, inflation threats are accelerating and the government keeps issuing more debt."

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