A fantastic payday for this artist. The much ballyhooed IPO for Facebook will add to founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune. A ton of other supporters and employees will become instant millionaires. But no story will top that of muralist David Choe. When he painted the first Facebook office in 2005, Choe was offered $60,000 in cash for the job — or stock in the company. He chose stock and went on to make an estimated $200,000 in the Facebook IPO. That’s quite a payday, isn’t it?
Bond guru expects much more inflation. Pimco founder and co-Chief Investment Officer Bill Gross warns that central banks are “printing money like gangbusters.” Our own Federal Reserve is leading the way. The Federal Reserve balance sheet, which stood at $869 billion in August 2008, passed $2.9 trillion at the end of 2011. The manager of the world’s largest bond fund points out that money printing increases the risk of reflation. “That’s why we’re seeing the pop in oil and gold etc.,” Gross said.
Betting on politics. Hey, guess what? It turns out that when people put their money where their mouths are, they’re more accurate than a polling company. Intrade, an online website based in Ireland, lets people bet on who will win one of our elections. In the 2004 Presidential election, its bettors correctly guessed the winner in every single State. In 2008, they got all but two States right. Now, Intrade clients are betting that Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination, but that Barack Obama will beat him in November. They’re betting cold, hard cash that they’re right. We’ll see.
Motivated citizens block new law. Well, what do you know? Two bills aimed at stopping online piracy were supposed to sail through Congress. But Internet giants Google and Wikipedia and others protested that the measures would turn them into “police officers for the Justice Department.” Wikipedia even went dark for a day. So many people contacted their Congressmen that the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act are dead in the water — at least for now.
Raising the debt ceiling… again. Barack Obama has notified Congress that the debt ceiling needs to be raised by another $1.2 trillion. Don’t expect a big tussle this time, however. The increase is permitted under the Budget Control Act. Lawmakers have the ability to vote against debt increases, but they cannot actually block them.
The Hillary Clinton bandwagon. The New York Times seems determined to get Hillary Clinton back in the White House. The latest foray was a column by Bill Keller, The Times’ executive editor from 2003 until last September. In “Just the Ticket,” Keller says to forget about persuading Barack Obama to step aside; that won’t happen. Instead, he wants to move Joe Biden over to the State Department and make Hillary the Vice Presidential nominee. Keller says his proposal would do “more to guarantee Obama’s re-election than anything else the Democrats can do.” Plus, “it makes Hillary the party’s heir apparent in 2016.” Oh, goodie.
Who frightens you? Are you more scared of big business or government? Although Hollywood loves to portray American businessmen as evil incarnate, and Barack Obama continues to rail against the “millionaires and billionaires” who don’t pay “their fair share” of taxes, a new Gallup poll says the public isn’t buying it. While 26 percent of the public agreed that “big business” was a threat to the country, more than twice that number — 64 percent — said government is the bigger threat.
The frantic attacks on Ron Paul. The Iowa caucuses are just days away. And the thought that Representative Ron Paul might actually come in first has some people hysterical. Iowa governor Terry Branstad proclaimed that the results should be ignored if Paul finishes first. People need to look at “who comes in second and who comes in third” if that happens, he declared. Reaching even lower, Wall Street Journal editorial board member and columnist Dorothy Rabinowitz called Paul “the best-known of American propagandists for our enemies” in a lengthy op-ed smear. As I’ve said before, folks, next year will sure be interesting.
My favorite Christmas present. Since Christmas is still around the corner, I haven’t opened all of my gifts yet. But it will be hard to top the delight from one small package I received. It’s the 2012 Barack Obama Out Of Office Countdown calendar. And, yes, it is exactly what the name implies: a day-by-day countdown until the time a new President has been elected. The subtitle is “Yes, The End Is Near!” The list price is a measly $12.99. The message: priceless.
Are you McSerious? The nagging nannies who govern San Francisco don’t like restaurants like McDonald’s using free toys to entice purchases of kids’ meals. So they passed the Healthy Meal Incentives Ordinance, making it illegal to include free toys with food that fails to meet certain nutritional standards. McDonald’s and Burger King responded by charging 10 cents for the coveted trinkets. McDonald’s will use its proceeds to build a Ronald McDonald House at the new University of California-San Francisco Medical Center at Mission Bay.