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Botoxed Balance Sheets

So Lehman and Ernst & Young executives are being investigated for trying to conceal debt and leverage by having temporary repos masquerade as permanent sales.

I would think that cosmeticized balance sheets have been a pretty standard procedure for years, from faux-steady GE earnings growth through off-balance-sheet SIVs to general end-of-quarter-reporting involving temporary leverage reduction. The Lehman case is perhaps more extreme, I suppose, but how different? More blatant once discovered?

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I rarely watch Youtube but tonight, wanting to discharge and then recharge my iPod by making it run for a long time on a long video, I stumbled across a documentary about Slavo Zizek (whom I never heard of previously, my ignorance) talking about the contradictions of liberal democracy, the unfortunate ceding of populism to the right wing, the near impossibility of capitalism with a human face, the rise of totalitarian capitalism in Asia, Berlusconi and many other interesting things:

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