Secrets and Lies
What John Sakowicz didn't mention in his story about swaps and derivatives ("Secrets and Lies," May 28) is that Warren Buffett, the world's richest man and most successful investor, started warning the world about them as far back as 2003. In his 2003 annual letter to shareholders at Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett's investment company, he called swaps and derivatives "financial weapons of mass destruction."
He said that because the contracts were too complex and allowed Wall Street to recklessly speculate without putting up any cash or collateral, they posed "meta-catastrophic risk" to the economy.
Warren Buffett also warned of the potential for large-scale fraud. I quote: "Swaps and derivatives generate reported earnings that are often wildly overstated and based on estimates whose inaccuracy may not be known for years."
I am copying Sakowicz's article and sending it not only to our congressional delegation here in Northern California, but also to all our presidential candidates. I'm also emailing it to many of my more politically active friends and colleagues.
He Found Us!
Thank you so much for continuing to run these articles on the state of the economy. Where did you find this John Sakowicz? He's great!
Plain Old Guts
This article ("Secrets and Lies") smacked me right in the face with its searing honesty and incendiary revelations and explanations. Wow, I had no idea that anything like this lurked below the glitter of Wall Street! It takes guts for the author to have written this, and even more guts for your commendable paper to publish this. I am going to tell everyone I know. And I am going to send this link to our legislators with a note to pay attention.
This sounds like a new and insidiously malicious mafia to me, with echoes of the well-known recorded tapes from the downfall of Enron. We can't just sit back and let this party go on, unregulated—especially when the average American is really suffering these days.
Patricia Lynn Henley's "Between Sizes" (May 7) was a real eye-opener. As an older male, I can now understand much better why clothing shopping has always been unpleasant. I've had some of the same experiences.
As a retired electrical engineer, I find it somewhat ironic that now, in the 21st century, the ready-to-wear industry is still based on a model originally designed to meet the needs of military uniform garment. (A lot of things we use today originated from military need, and they've all changed our lifestyles, not always for the better.)
It's almost been three decades since sci-fi author Frank Herbert (Dune) described a technological solution in an introductory book on computers; the necessary technology to implement a basic model existed even then.
A customer should be able to go to a ready-to-wear service center, where she could get her measurements professionally taken and entered into a database. She could then order from a virtually limitless variety of fashions, fabrics, patterns and colors, and her order would be cut by CNC equipment, assembled and delivered.
The technology necessary to implement this model exists today with the bells and whistles on. I believe that the first business to implement this model today would have so many women beating a path to their door, they'd have to beat the customers off with a stick!