GOOD NEWS

But what do I know? So listen to one of your fellow readers . . . and then I’ll tell you why.

Janet Tavakoli: ‘Obama’s $275 billion plan to stem mortgage foreclosures – nicely done! I was delighted to hear President Obama’s plan to stem mortgage foreclosures. It was well thought out and right on target, and such a relief! I don’t think people have had time to process this. There will be critics, but I will not be among them. This is the best economic news I’ve heard in the past four years.’

☞ Janet, whom you’ve seen on CNN, CNBC, the CBS Evening News and so on – and whom Business Week called ‘the Cassandra of credit derivatives’ (but Cassandra sure proved to be right, didn’t she?) – is the author of the recently released Dear Mr. Buffett: What an Investor Learns 1,269 Miles from Wall Street.

She’s been railing against emperors wearing no clothes in the credit derivatives markets forever. If only people had listened.

(Or maybe, some have: you’ll find something very like what was done yesterday in her book, which has been widely noted by serious people. Likewise, in its predecessor, which you might call the denser, professional version, beguilingly titled, Structured Finance and Collateralized Debt Obligations: New Developments in Cash and Synthetic Securitization.)

I remember emailing Janet once about Merrill Lynch, then $75 a share, which she had just blasted in a column she sent me. This was October, 2007.

‘Where’s the stock going?’ I e-asked.

‘I don’t know,’ she shot back – ‘but not in MY portfolio.’

She was right about Merrill (which fell to $11), and has been right about pretty much everything else.

None of which is to say our problems are over or your home is going to start appreciating or the recession won’t be deep and scary.

But when someone as sharp – and often sharply critical – as Janet Tavakoli finds reason to be encouraged, it’s worth noting.

‘INFURIATINGLY EVENHANDED’

According to a recent post by my friend Joan Garry, one of the President’s law school classmates described him this way. I love it. ‘No drama Obama’ . . . ‘infuriatingly evenhanded.’ It’s almost as though a calm, purposeful adult is driving the bus.

(Joan’s post touches on this only tangentially; but if you have a special interest in enacting equal rights legislation, you may want to consider her proposed strategy.)

FIREFOX ADD-INS

Vince DeHart: ‘Dennis wrote, ‘I like FireFox and use it 99% of the time. But be warned, there are occasionally sites that act a little goofy with it. When this happens, I still need to drag out IE.’ One of the wonderful features of Firefox is extensions, small, independently developed applications that extend the browser’s capabilities. The IE Tab extension allows you to use the Internet Explorer engine within Firefox. When you come upon one of those occasional sites that acts ‘a little goofy,’ you can click an icon at the bottom of the screen (or select from a context menu by right-clicking the tab) and choose to have the page rendered by the IE engine, without leaving Firefox and opening a separate browser.’

Andrew Krieg: ‘You can get this plug-in here. Be sure to search the entire database to customize Firefox to your needs . .. . here.

Noah Stern: ‘My two favorites are Adblock Plus and Flashblock. With the click of a mouse I can shut off flashing, or otherwise obnoxious, ads.’

 

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