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Morning Reading

The CFO of Freddie Mac was found dead this morning. Reports say he killed himself. David Kellerman had just been named CFO last September. He was 41 years old. In a possibly related story, CNN reports that Freddie Mac faces SEC and state investigations. Other things to read:

Revenue Drops 62% as Morgan Stanley Posts a Loss (NY Times)
"Morgan Stanley reported a bigger-than-expected first-quarter loss on Wednesday, as it wrote down soured real estate investments and took a hit on its own debt."

GM and Chrysler Becoming a Royal Debacle (WSJ)
"He wants Chrysler's secured lenders to give up their right to nearly full recovery in a bankruptcy in return for 15 cents on the dollar. They'd be crazy to do so, of course, except that these banks also happen to be beholden to the administration for TARP money."

Why the bank stress tests are bunk (MSN Money)
"Since these people don't really know what they are doing, they have painted themselves into a corner," says Christopher Whalen, the managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, which analyzes bank strength and banking-sector trends. "They have publicly committed themselves to some disclosure of stress-test results, and that is unworkable. I don't know how the government is going to get itself out of this trap."

Can the oil shock alone explain the financial crisis? (The Atlantic)
"Perhaps you'll join me in thinking: Huh? Are we really to believe that this whole thing was caused by oil shocks? I mean, it certainly makes you appreciate the mess Detroit is in, but really. How anti-climactic. It makes this crisis seem so ... 1970s."

We fought AIG and AIG won (DealBook)
"... the government's general conduct here shows the problem with its approach to A.I.G. It is deliberately hampering itself by negotiating with A.I.G. and limiting the government's powers to actually control the company."

Five buildings that should not have been built (Robert Green)
"It was 30 percent empty when it opened. It looks like a very large pair of binoculars. I generally like Pelli's work, but..."

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On the topic of the final link.

Des Moines needs some sort of skyline to help people continue take Iowa serious as the insurance and finance hub that it has been for a long time. There are several other buildings not that much smaller than Principle's downtown. The media likes to paint us as a bunch of hog farmers when they visit every four years and this post doesn't hep. 801 Grand was a huge part of the rebuilding of a healthy downtown full of people and events.

The destruction of the richest farmland in the world to build sprawling 3 story buildings is far worse for everyone than wasting some space with extra elevators.

On the Oil Shock piece, I'm quite curious, was this gas->mortage problem part of the model? If it was, then it seems the model is highly speculative and unproven, but if it isn't part of the model, then it is meaningless to try to explain the results of a model by using factors and relationships NOT in the model. The model itself is supposed to be the explanation.

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