Clicking it opens up a nice preview of the linked content, often with an image. These previews are generated by setting up what the Twitter API calls a “Twitter Card.”
I wanted to set this up for BecauseFinanceIsBoring.com, which uses Tumblr, but runs on a custom domain. I found a great article reviewing how to do this by Samantha John, founder of Hopscotch (an iPad programming language to get kids coding!). Her overview was super helpful, but her gist didn’t work for me–she’s using a different Twitter Card than the one I wasted to use (summary_large_image).
So, I forked it, played around, and made it work! Here’s my forked gist https://gist.github.com/alexisgo/9822047 with all the code you need to add a large image preview Twitter Card.
There was one wrinkle for me, which is that on my tumblr, I almost exclusively use Text Posts. Tumblr has a variable to grab images from an individual post, but it’s only available to Photo type posts–and I use Text type posts. So I didn’t know what to set the content to on the twitter:image:src meta tag: <meta name=”twitter:image:src” content=”http://placekitten.com/250/250/”>.
But what I discovered is that if I leave out this meta tag, twitter seems to pick the final image in the post, and use that for the preview image, which works well enough for my purposes.
Filed under: programming | 0 Comments
For an upcoming post on Because Finance is Boring, I compiled the following tables comparing two Wall Street regulators budgets, employees, number of Dodd-Frank rules completed, budget requests, and enforcement actions.
CFTC vs SEC: Rules Finalized, # Employees, Budget
|Dodd-Frank Rules Finalized
(as of March 2014)
|# Full Time Employees
|FY 2013 Budget||Budget $ per Dodd-Frank Rule|
|CFTC||50||682||$206 million||$4.1 million|
|SEC||42||4,023||$1.255 billion||$29.8 million|
CFTC Budget Request, as Compared to the Size of the Derivatives Market is Regulates
|Fiscal Year||CFTC Request||President’s Budget||Appropriation||Total Derivatives Notional Held by U.S. Banks|
|2003||$92.5 million||$82.8 million||$85.4 million||$71 trillion|
|2004||$110.5 million||$88.4 million||$89.9 million||$88 trillion|
|2005||$110.6 million||$95.3 million||$93.6 million||$101 trillion|
|2006||$112.1 million||$99.4 million||$97.4 million||$161 trillion|
|2007||$136.2 million||$127.4 million||$98 million||$166 trillion|
|2008||$138.7 million||$116 million||$111.3 million||$200 trillion|
|2009||$151 million||$130 million||$146 million||$213 trillion|
|2011||$191 million||$160.6 million||$168.8 million||$231 trillion|
|2011||$216.2 million||$261 million||$202.3 million||$231 trillion|
|2012||$349 million||$340 million||$205.3 million||$223 trillion|
|2013||$317.4 million||$308 million||$206 million||$240 trillion|
|2014||$315 million||$215 million||TBD|
- CFTC: Summary of OMB and Congressional Action on Appropriations (note there is one error in this table, for FY2012, which we have corrected in our table)
- Derivatives Market Size: OCC’s Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities Fourth Quarter 2012 page 16
- OCC News Release (with 2013 US banks’ derivatives notional outstanding): OCC Reports Third Quarter Trading Revenue of $4.5 Billion
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On March 7th, 2014, I submitted the following comment to the United States Department of State on whether or not it is in the national interest to grant a Presidential Permit to TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline.
You can find a PDF version of this comment here.
Office of Europe, the Western Hemisphere and Africa
Bureau of Energy Resources
U.S. Department of State.
Keystone Pipeline, L.P, National Interest Determination (Docket #: DOS-2014-0003)
Presidential Permit would serve the national interest.
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Cross-posted with permission from Because Finance Is Boring.
Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Many on the Left are using this opportunity to bring new life to a much-aligned idea: that there is a role for government in fighting poverty.
On the Right, LBJ’s War on Poverty drew criticism from Milton Friedman and his seems to be the prevailing ideology today. The refrain goes: these sorts of programs are going to disincentivize work and be exploited. The belief was that the best way to fight poverty is by growing the economy, which is best done by shrinking government.
It’s not surprising this belief in advancing the economy as a means to ending poverty prevailed: it’s a convenient theory for those in power. 95% of the gains from the 2009-2012 economic recovery went to the 1%. This ideology serves a dual purpose for the wealthy: it lines their pockets and it absolves their consciences. Believing that promoting the very economic growth that enriches the elite will also magically eradicate poverty is a rewarding mythos and a salve to the conscience.
While the Right have been very effective in criticizing this war on poverty, the Left has let them set the agenda, and by doing so, has been on the defensive ever since. President Bill Clinton best symbolizes this capitulation when he enacted welfare reform, the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act” which added work requirements and created a lifetime limit of 5 years of benefits. Bill DeBlasio, the new mayor of New York City who ran on a progressive platform, was just sworn-in by former President Clinton. What does this say about the commitment of our so-called progressive candidates to truly move forward?
Filed under: activism, Occupy Wall St, philosophy, wall street | 0 Comments
It took me seven years to learn about Wall Street what Federico Garcia Lorca gleaned simply by witnessing the 1929 Market crash. An excerpt from a lecture he gave at Columbia University in October 1929:
The truly savage and frenetic part of New York…the terrible, cold, cruel part, is Wall Street.
Rivers of gold flow there from all over the earth, and death comes with it. There, as nowhere else, you feel a total absence of the spirit: herds of men who cannot count past three, herds more who cannot get past six, scorn for pure science and demoniacal respect for the present. And the terrible thing is that the crowd that fills this street believes that the world will always be the same, that it is their duty to keep that huge machine running, day and night, forever. This is what comes of a Protestant morality that I as a (thank God) typical Spaniard found unnerving.
I was lucky enough to see with my own eyes the recent stock-market crash, where they lost several billion dollars, a rabble of dead money that went sliding off into the sea. Never as then, amid suicides, hysteria, and groups of fainting people, have I felt the senstation of real death, death without hope, death that is nothing but rottenness, for the spectacle was terrifying but devoid of greatness. And I, who come from a country where, as the great father Unamuno said, “at night the earth climbs to the sky,” I felt something like a divine urge to bombard that whole canyon of shadow, where ambulances collected suicides whose hands were full of rings.
-Federico Garcia Lorca
Lecture: A Poet in New York
Lorca at Columbia, October 1929
Translated by Christopher Mauer
From the bilingual edition of Poet in New York, with translation by Greg Simon and Steven F. White
Filed under: philosophy, wall street | 1 Comment
Today, I was on the Up with Chris Hayes show to discuss the comments made by President Obama and Governor Romney about Dodd-Frank in the first president debates.
There is much to say on this topic, more than can fit even into a long-form program like Up with Chris, so I wanted to present some of my preparation notes on the topics discussed.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I think Dodd-Frank does not go far enough, and that I want to see bank executives behind bars for the crimes leading up to, and following, the financial crisis. But I also believe there is much in Dodd-Frank that is important, and we need to acknowledge that, or we will lose it to the many efforts already underway to gut it. Thus, it is important that we understand what Dodd-Frank does, giving credit where it’s due.
Does Dodd-Frank Designate Banks as Too Big to Fail?
In the debate, Romney stated that Dodd-Frank “designates a number of banks as too big to fail, and they’re effectively guaranteed by the federal government. This is the biggest kiss that’s been given to — to New York banks I’ve ever seen.”
What Romney is referring to is a designation of being a “Systemically Important Financial Institution” or SIFI for short. But this designation does NOT designate a bank as Too Big to Fail. Further, Wall Street does not see being slapped with the SIFI label as a boon. This was pointed out well by Rep. Maxine Waters in an article at the Huffington Post.
As just one example of how much Wall Street hates the SIFI label, take a look at how Jamie Dimon complained about the SIFI requirements to Fed Chairman Bernanke back in 2011. As another example, Alice Joe, who is the executive director for the (unflinchingly pro-Wall Street) Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness has said that “There’s a huge, huge cost in becoming a designated SIFI.”
Filed under: politics, wall street | 8 Comments
I have been anxiously awaiting the public release of Chris Hayes’ book “Twilight of the Elites” (available at Powells, Amazon) for some time now, because this is a book that leaves one yearning for conversation, dialogue and, yes, debate, about its content. So for the tl;dr crowd, let me begin by saying this was a book I found so stimulating and immersive that I cannot wait to be able to discuss it with a larger audience.
An oft-photographed sign at OWS events is the much-quoted “SHIT IS FUCKED UP AND BULLSHIT.” Hayes’s eminently well-written book outlines in a plethora of areas exactly why that is the case, and how we got there. Even if you think you are aware of the depth of the rot plaguing the highest levels of our society, you will likely earn a new level of outrage by reading this book.
At its heart, Twilight of the Elites is an indictment of the meritocracy—or what passes for it. A compelling revelation that comes early in the book is the bastard etymology of the very word “meritocracy.” The man who coined the term, Michael Young, did so in a book that was written as a satire, though not read as one by the general public.
Continue reading ‘Twilight of the Elites: A Review’
Filed under: politics, Reviews | 4 Comments
When some people think about Wall Street, they conjure up images of traders
shouting on the stock exchange, of bankers dining at five-star restaurants, of
CEOs whispering in the ears of captured Congress members.
When I think about Wall Street, I think about its stunted rainbow of pale
pastel shirts. I think about the vaulting, highly secured, and very cold lobbies.
And I think about the art passed daily by the harried workers, virtually unseen.
Before I occupied Wall Street, Wall Street occupied me. What started as a
summer internship led to a seven-year career. During my time on Wall Street, I
changed from a curious college student full of hope for my future, into a cynical, bitter, depressed, and exhausted “knowledge worker” who felt that everyone was out to screw me over.
The culture of Wall Street is pervasive and contagious. While there are Wall
Street employees who are able to ignore it, or block it out, I was not one of
them. I drank the Kool Aid. I’m out of it now. But I’d like to tell you what it was
+ + +
When you are wealthy and successful, you have a choice. You can believe your
success stems from luck and privilege, or you can believe it stems from hard
work. Very few people like to view their success as a matter of luck. And so,
perhaps understandably, most people on Wall Street believe they have earned
their jobs, and the money that follows.
While there are many on Wall Street who come from wealthy backgrounds,
there are also many people from very humble backgrounds. In my experience,
it is often those who do not come from privilege who are the system’s fiercest
When I was a summer intern, Continue reading ‘Leaving Wall Street’
Filed under: Occupy Wall St, profits not people, wall street | 6 Comments
On April 26th, Senators Levin (D-MI) and Merkley (D-OR) put out a letter calling on our financial regulators to finalize a strong version of the Volcker Rule by the summer. Twenty-two Senators signed the letter.
There is a draft companion letter circulating today in the House of Representatives that is being led by Rep. Blumenauer (D-OR3), Rep. Waters (D-CA35) and many other representatives. It is important that as many members of the House of Representatives as possible co-sign the companion letter. This would show the regulators that Congress is looking to them to complete the Volcker Rule by the summer, without loopholes.
Brief Background on the Volcker Rule
Haven’t heard about the Volcker Rule? At its heart, it’s about preventing banks that enjoy an implicit government backing from GAMBLING. On Wall Street, gambling is called proprietary trading. The basic idea is that banks that have received billions in TARP money and more billions in secret Fed loans (that were not disclosed to the public nor to Congress until Bloomberg filed a Freedom of Information Act request) shouldn’t get to act like a Hedge Fund, or someone “feeling lucky” in Vegas.
The Volcker Rule was a part of the 2010 law, Dodd-Frank. And as with many complex laws, Congress placed the responsibility of actually writing the final rule with the financial regulators: the SEC, OCC, Fed, FDIC and CFTC. These Agencies have released a draft of the rule, solicited public comment, and are now writing the final version of the rule.
It is important that the regulators write a strong final version of the rule without loopholes, but it is equally important that they not delay finalizing the rule. The letter from Merkley’s office, and the companion House letter, urge the regulators on just these points.
If you want to rein in Wall Street, and ensure that we have an insurance policy against future bailouts, you should call your House representative and ask him/her to co-sign Rep. Blumenauer et al’s Volcker Rule letter.
The easiest way to do this is to call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask for your Representative’s office by name. You can also look up your Representative on Open Congress.
But wait, what should I say?
When you call, we suggest you tell the staffer:
I am your constituent, and I am calling to ask Rep. _____ to co-sign the Volcker Rule letter being circulated by Rep. Blumenauer and Rep. Waters. The letter calls on the regulators to finalize a strong Volcker Rule by this summer.
In case the person you speak to needs more information about the Volcker Rule, you could tell them:
The Volcker Rule is section 619 of the Dodd-Frank Act. It is an important rule that will help address systemic risks to our banking system and the Too Big to Fail status of institutions managing trillions of federally insured deposits. I support the rule and ask you to co-sign the letter from Rep. Blumenauer and Rep. Waters.
Filed under: activism, Occupy Wall St, OWS, wall street | 2 Comments
I was on the UP with Chris Hayes Show today and I talked about the Swaps Execution Facilities Clarification Act (HR 2586), and why I thought it was problematic. Executive summary: it rolls back part of Dodd-Frank that aims to make the derivatives market more transparent.
The Short Version
A good summary of the problems with this bill can be found in the letter against it written by Americans for Financial Reform. Choice quote:
HR 2586 would undermine a key element of derivatives reform – the attempt to create transparent, competitive markets for previously ‘dark’ over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives.
There is also a good explainer from Gretchen Morgenson at the NY Times called “Slipping Backwards on Swaps” that I encourage you to read. Lead quote:
Wall Street loves to do business in the shadows. Sunshine, after all, is bad for profits.
So it is perhaps unsurprising that players in the derivatives market want to thwart one of the worthier aims of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation: to bring transparency to the huge market for instruments known as swaps. Now some in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, are trying to block that goal, too.
The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, better know as Dodd-Frank, introduced a huge number of important regulations meant to stabilize the financial system and reign in the big banks in the wake of the 2008 crash.
Let’s get wonky, and look at the actual definition:
“SWAP EXECUTION FACILITY.—The term ‘swap execution facility’ means a trading system or platform in which multiple participants have the ability to execute or trade swaps by accepting bids and offers made by multiple participants in the facility or system, through any means of interstate commerce, including any trading facility, that
(A) facilitates the execution of swaps between persons; and
(B) is not a designated contract market. “
Asking for prices on OTC derivatives is like Comparison Shopping without the InternetWhat this means in English, is that there now must be a place where you can, as a customer, ask the question “Hey, how much for that fancy Swap you’ve got?” to multiple Swap dealers at the same time. Think of it like comparison shopping on the internet. If you want to know how much that new bike you want costs, you can just type the make and model (Classic Schwinn Red!) into google or bing, and sort by the lowest price.
Compare that to trying to find the best price for your Classic Red Schwinn by calling up every bike store you know of. It’s slow. It’s inefficient. And for all you know, the bike store may change the price when you actually walk in the door. On the internet, there is this ability to immediately purchase the bike–so the price is fixed. On the phone, you just never know.
Wall Street conducts a huge chunk of derivatives business on the phone. They like it that way, because it keeps margins high. Once you have to post your prices in an electronic forum, well, competition starts to arise! Smaller players can try and gain a foothold in the market by charging less. It puts downward pressure on profit margins. Wall Street likes its phone business, thank you very much, and they’re going to try and protect it.
More wonky details
So back to Dodd-Frank 761 and 721. Why are there two sections? Because each section modifies a different law. 721 amends Section 1a of the Commodity Exchange Act, and 761 amends Section 3(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
When laws are passed that modify the Commodity Exchange Act, a regulator known as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the CFTC) typically has to take the bill and implement it by writing the actual technical, nitty gritty details in a new regulation. They do this once, ask for public comment, and then release a final version of the regulation.
When laws are passed that modify the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) goes through the same process as the CFTC.
Why are two Agencies involved, you may ask? Because each Agency governs a different kind of product. The CFTC’s rules on Swap Execution Facilities will apply to index-based credit default swaps (CDS) and interest rate swaps. The SEC’s rules will apply to single name CDS. Don’t worry about the difference if these terms are new to you. All you need to know is that the SEC is in charge of some products, the CFTC other products.
Where are the CFTC and SEC at now with Swap Execution Facilities?
Still with me? Good. So, both the SEC and the CFTC have released draft rules to implement Dodd-Frank 721 and 761. In English, they’ve written draft rules to define what a “Swap Execution Facility” should look like. They have not yet written the final rules. And as sometimes happens, the SEC and the CFTC disagree on a few things.
What they do agree on, is that you should not be able, as a Wall Street Dealer, to only provide price information on the phone. They are still free to use the phone to do their jobs (clients can still call and request a quote on a swap), but they agree to post prices simultaneously to all participants and that all participants have equal access. They cannot show prices to their favorite client first. Brokers already use this method of trading today. It’s called the Voice Hybrid method. Think of it like your non-tech-saavy friend who wants to try the internet, but still needs some hand-holding. The Swap Execution Facility rules say, sure, you can use the phone. But, to go back to our Schwinn example, the person at the bike store also has to post their prices on the internet.
What the SEC and the CFTC disagree on is whether you should be allowed to ask for a price (via this new electronic forum) form only one dealer. The SEC says that’s ok. The CFTC says you need to ask for prices from at least five dealers. I am with the CFTC on this one. More prices, more transparency.
Enter the Swaps Execution Facilities Clarification Act
At its heart, this bill is all about defending the one-on-one phone business, which is at risk due to the Swap Execution Facility Rules.
HR 2586, the Swaps Execution Facilities Clarification Act (full text), is set to hit the House around mid-April. This bill seeks to change this part of the Dodd-Frank Act before the regulators have even finished the final rules. The CFTC and the SEC have proven and thoughtful process that works–we should let them do their jobs.
Rather than requiring clients ask for prices from five dealers, as the CFTC has proposed, the bill says you can’t require a minimum number of dealers to receive price requests (“how much is your Classic Red Schwinn?”). The bill’s logic is that one on one phone calls are best (read: for Wall Street), and requiring that multiple dealers provide prices is bad (read: for Wall Street). So much for trying to make an opaque market more transparent.
What else does it do? Well, it bars the mandating displays of prices. If you don’t want to display prices, you don’t have to, says HR 2586. Again, so much for transparency!
So What Now?
HR 2586 has eight co-sponsors, and will likely hit the House in two weeks. If you think that risky, opaque derivatives trading had something to do with the financial crisis, you may want to think about calling your Congressperson (capitol switchboard is: (202) 225-3121, just ask for your Congressperson by name) and voice your opposition to the Swap Execution Facilities Clarification Act (HR 2586). Tell your Congressperson we need more transparency in the derivatives market, not less.
To learn more:
Finally, here is the portion of UP with Chris Hayes where Rep. Carolyn Maloney and I debate the bill:
And here is part two where Chris wraps it all up.
Please note that this, and all content on my blog, represents only my personal view, not the view of any of the working groups I participate in at Occupy Wall Street.
Filed under: money, politics, wall street | 3 Comments