Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
As a nation we are guilty of all of the original seven deadly sins, greed, gluttony, lust, anger, slothfulness, covetousness and pride.
1. Greed, the notion that we can take and take and take from the richness of the earth, convert it to garbage and return it to the earth degraded and as filth
2. Gluttony, the belief that because we are a rich nation we are entitled to consume disproportionate amounts of resources, which add to our comfort and security, while vast numbers of less fortunate, in our own and other countries, go without basic neccesities like food, shelter and clothing
3. Lust, if there is a resource our nation desires and does not have it does not hesitate to take it in whatever way it sees fit even if it means unjust and unprovoked wars
4. Anger, as a nation we are filled with self-rightous anger when we suffer a perceived wrong, and we act on that anger, with indignation and without hesitation, with little thought to the consequences foisted on the rest of humanity
5. Slothfulness, rather than working to produce the vast amounts of products we consume, we job it out to sweatshops in economically less fortunate nations, whose workers work in conditions Americans would not suffer, while those workers settle for the crumbs they are given for their labor
6. Covetousness, we will have no nation above our own, we will have no military better than our own, we will be the first to conquer space and establish military dominance there and America will be the standard bearer for all that is perfect and desirable
7. Pride, unjustifiable pride, has been the downfall of our nation. We are the richest, most free, the smartest, we have the best military, our democratic government is the best, and above all we know best in all matters concerning the rest of the world
We call ourselves a Christian nation and yet, with the actions of our country, we have been anything but. As it was in antiquity, the seven deadly sins hold even today, as much as a nation as with ourselves as individuals. As much as we would like to blame someone else for our predicament, it is we ourselves as part of this nation, that have caused the misery.
America has been a generous nation, giving to the less fortunate, assisting with money, manpower and medical supplies in disasters, waging war to help the oppressed, but this is not enough to compensate for what we have taken.
If we could get together to cause the destruction, we can get together to bring on the healing. This is what I believe in.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Message from the Gyre
These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking. To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.
~cj, October 2009
there are dozens of similar photos on the website where they are are much more impressive than this one ive copied here...go to chris jordan's website to view all of them...
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
In the past, I have repeatedly talked about the perverse role the US government plays in the domestic housing market, through government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have total mortgage portfolio's of between $5 trillion and $6 trillion on their books, as well as an unknown amount and degree of "involvement" in mortgage-backed securities, and whose common and preferred equity were recently assessed as "worthless" by an analyst team at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Which of course only confirmed a poorly hidden secret.
The KBW analysts concluded that the only way to deal with Fannie and Freddie would be a bad bank construction. The government, however, as I’ve pointed out before, seems to be ahead of them. A rapidly growing share of mortgage loans are now processed through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA, a.k.a. Ginnie Mae).
Unlike Fannie and Freddie, these are full-blooded government-owned agencies. And that makes them even easier tools to manipulate the housing market. Ginnie Mae guarantees mortgage-backed securities backed by federally insured or guaranteed loans issued by the Federal Housing Administration. In other words, the government guarantees securities backed by loans issued by the government. These loans, however and of course, don't originate with the government.
Earlier this week, a story made the rounds of a 20-year old girl of Salvadorian origin who holds 3 jobs and bought a $155,000 home (and got a $34,000 "embellishment" extension on top of that) with an FHA-guaranteed loan with a 3.5% down payment. That story had subprime written all over it right from the start, and loudly begged the question what on earth moves the US government to move into (make that induce) subprime lending.
But that was just the first chapter of the tale. In chapter 2, we see that the damsel in distress didn't just see her loan guaranteed by the Obama administration. Crucially, she also qualifies for the $8000 tax credit for first time home-buyers.
Please pay attention. Now it gets interesting.
$8000 may not seem like a lot compared to the $155,000 purchase price. But that's not the way to look at it. You see, the government allows those who qualify for the credit to use it towards their down payment. And now the picture changes dramatically.
continue reading: The greatest theft in American history...
Monday, October 26, 2009
A weekly column
October 26, 2009: Anything Less Than Full Disclosure is Unacceptable
Last week a new bill was introduced in the Senate to audit the Federal Reserve. Some backers of my bill HR1207 and the existing Senate companion bill S.604 were a little miffed at this, but depending on how you think about it, this new legislation poses no great threat to our efforts.
With the economy in shambles, people are looking for answers - not just because of lost savings on Wall Street, but because of lost houses on Main Street. Because of the many problems we face, the Federal Reserve and its powers over the economy have come under scrutiny. This translates into a lot of political pressure on Congress. With all the House Republicans signed on as co-sponsors and over half of the Democrats, HR 1207 has enormous bipartisan support. It would be disingenuous for Washington not to embrace the principles behind this bill after all the promises for transparency. How can one credibly argue for more transparency in government in one breath and defend the secrecy of the Federal Reserve in the next?
Continue reading »
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Don McLean was born in 1945 and grew up in New Rochelle, New York. He was one of the earliest Baby Boomers. He was born at the beginning of America’s last High, as described by Strauss & Howe in their book The Fourth Turning. America’s victory in World War II began a new 80 to 100 year cycle consisting of four turnings of 20 to 25 years. The four cycles are a High, an Awakening, an Unraveling and a Crisis. These cycles have been recurring throughout history due to the generational mood changes as people age. Don McLean grew up during a High. This was an episode of safety and security. He basked in “Dr. Spock permissiveness, suburban conformism, Sputnik-era schooling, Beaver Cleaver friendliness, and Father Knows Best family order.” His idyllic life changed on the morning of February 3, 1959 when he read the headline in the newspaper he was about to deliver.
A long long time ago
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while
But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step
I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
So bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singing this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die
American Pie – Don McLean
To Everything There is a Season
Don McLean was 14 years old in 1959 when he read the bad news on the doorstep. He didn’t realize it at the time, but the American High was coming to a conclusion. The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 marked the end of the High and the start of the Awakening. A stage of turmoil was about to erupt across America. Strauss & Howe describe the mood transition of the country from a High to an Awakening:
“An Awakening arrives with a dramatic challenge against the High’s assumptions about benevolent reason and congenial institutions. The outer world now feels trivial compared to the inner world. New spiritual agendas and social ideals burst forth, along with utopian experiments seeking to reconcile total fellowship with total autonomy. The prosperity and security of a High are overtly disdained though covertly taken for granted. A society searches for soul over science, meanings over things. Youth-fired attacks break out against the established institutional order. As these attacks take their toll, society has difficulty coalescing around common goals. People stop believing that social progress requires social discipline. Any public effort that requires collective discipline encounters withering controversy. Wars are awkwardly fought and badly remembered afterward.”
As the chart shows, the progression of generations through the four cycles of life can be documented back to the 1400’s. A generation that is 80 years removed from the last similar cycle is incapable of understanding or learning from that prior cycle. When Don McLean was writing American Pie in 1970 at the age of 25, he wasn’t aware that he was capturing the Awakening mood of an entire generation in one song.
this is a long and stunning must read; & since i felt like i had lived through it, i saved it for sunday....continue reading American Pie...
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Published: 7:02PM BST 21 Oct 2009
Morgan Stanley has warned clients that central banks in high-debt countries may try to stoke inflation as a deliberate policy to rescue governments and tackle the legacy of the crisis.
It said the surge in the public debts of Western countries is comparable to the effects of war, with the big difference this time that aging populations and excess capacity will make it hard to erode the burden through economic growth
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The American psychologist, Lawrence Kohlberg, generalized his findings on moral development as occurring in three levels. First, is the preconventional level, a phase as kids where we don’t know the moral concepts and principles of right from wrong. There is no concept of morality and praise and punishment teaches right from wrong. The second phase, conventional role conformity, we come to understand how a good boy/ good girl is supposed to act and this then progresses to “law and order” stage where we as members of society live within the conventional rules.
Most adults live out their lives at this conventional level of morality. Most never get beyond this level and all of us spend a good part of our lives on this level. Stealing is wrong, murder is wrong, slavery is wrong, lying is wrong. Why? Because everyone knows these actions are wrong. There are laws against these actions.
Many adults will never reach level three or principled level. This, of course, is the most important level; a level of self accepted moral principles that are accepted not because society says they are right and acceptable but because one knows what it means to say principles are right and understands what makes them right. Most people simply accept the conventional morality of society but at level three one understands and accepts the binding nature of moral principles without some foreign constraints imposed on them.
It is this ability to examine why actions are morally right and wrong beyond the conventional morality that we must now examine the healthcare issue. We know from the past that conventional morality can be wrong with the best example being the acceptance of slavery in the United States. Operating at level three one would have reasoned slavery was immoral then as it is now. In fact, many did argue that it was immoral, despite the fact that it was part of conventional morality.
Because we are fallible in our moral judgment; because we sometimes believe an action to be right when it is objectively wrong; because we disagree on moral judgments; and because we live in a pluralistic society were the norms of conventional morality are sometimes not clear; people adopt a moral tolerance toward others. They refuse to judge others and refuse to judge their own actions. Their inability to reason why actions are right and wrong leads them to a position that; “there is no objective morality” or “morality is purely subjective”. Thus we consider ourselves personally moral when we act as we believe we should or others, though acting differently, can be acting morally too. This thinking, wrong thinking, pushed to its conclusion claims that what anyone considers moral is thereby moral. This abandons the very universal nature that morality possesses.
Universality is a defining characteristic of morality since it demands application to all. If an action is right for me, it is also right for anyone else in the same circumstance. If it is wrong for you, it is also wrong for anyone else. This universal application is easy to apply to murder, stealing, lying, bribery, and slavery. There is nothing subjective about these moral principles.
Secondly, moral judgments are important and so important, in fact, that they override other considerations. We are morally obligated to do what we sometimes may not want to do. Convenience, personal gain and even legal requirements take a back seat to our moral obligation.
Moral law states what everyone must do because it is a command of reason. It is an imperative that is unconditional; it states a command that must be done. It is not a hypothetical command like if you want to do well in school, study! Not everyone is required to attend school and not everyone is required to study. We can’t choose to follow or not based on whether we wish to achieve this or that end. It is categorical and we are bound by the moral injunction no matter what else we wish to do. The moral law binds unconditionally.
Moral law is the statement of the form of rational action and there are explicit characteristics that are central to reason. One is consistency. Moral actions must not self contradict nor contradict other moral laws. Second, is universality. Reasoning is the same for all, what is rational for me is rational for everyone else and what is rational for everyone else is rational for me. The third characteristic of reason, which is exemplified in mathematics, is that it is not based on experience. It applies to experience but is not derived from experience, nor is its truth dependent on it. For example, we know two plus two equals four regardless of what a teacher may tell you. Two plus two equals four for all rational beings even if they don’t know it or add two plus two and get a different number. The validity of this does not depend on experience but on rational self consistency of the mathematical operation.
Before proceeding, let’s put an end to the bogus question: “Whose morality?” Morality presupposes society, and if a society is to function, it must have a large core of commonly held values and norms. These norms and values form the common morality of society. They are mine, yours and ours and are applicable to everyone. When moral views clash then moral debate must take place until moral arguments reach clarity. It is not true, therefore, that when faced with moral claims against me or my business practices I can dismiss them as being your moral views and not mine. Moral claims are universal!
The three important elements of morality are universalization, respect for rational beings, and acceptable to rational beings. If a moral rule fails anyone of these three tests then it is immoral. As applied to universal healthcare in America, we know that we have a moral duty to help those in need. The obligation to help those in need passes the test of the three elements of morality: The obligation is self consistent since we can continue to help each other indefinitely. Second, providing aid to others is respecting the dignity of human beings and treats them as ends instead of means. We would all wished to be helped when in need and thus the rule of mutual help is acceptable to rational beings and can be universalized.
However, the moral rule to help those in need differs from certain moral rules because our duties or considered imperfect. Perfect duties describe both the action to be followed. and to whom it pertains( namely everyone). For example, we can not steal and it applies to everyone. Our obligation to help those in need is imperfect since there are so many in need and we each have limited resources. Since the command to help others is dependent on our ability to help others our obligation has a certain amount of freedom in fulfilling it. There are two sources that limit our obligation. First is that we are morally obligated to do only that which we are capable of doing. Second we are not required to help if by so doing we experience equal or more harm. I’m obligated to help a drowning man if I can without endangering my own life. Our obligation to help the poor depends on our own affluence; thus the wealthy have more of an obligation to help the poor. Although our moral obligation to help those in need has imperfect duties, there is a positive side to this since it creates an environment where we can exceed the moral minimum. We are not obligated to impoverish ourselves to help the needy but some in history have become saints by exceeding the moral minimum. Some have endangered their life to save others and are considered moral heroes.
Universal healthcare in America is helping those in need and is a moral obligation that can not be excused away by the argument of capability since our country certainly is capable of doing this. Secondly, it can not be excused away by claim that it will produce equal are greater harm to us by providing the aid. One must keep in mind what I stated earlier that that moral law overrides all other considerations. We can not ignore our moral duty based on convenience, efficiency, personal gain, nor legal requirements.
By PAM MARTENS
The financial tsunami unleashed by Wall Street’s esurient alchemy of spinning toxic home mortgages into triple-A bonds, a process known as securitization, has set off its second round of financial tremors.
After leaving mortgage investors, bank shareholders, and pension fiduciaries awash in losses and a large chunk of Wall Street feeding at the public trough, the full threat of this vast securitization machine and its unseen masters who push the levers behind a tightly drawn curtain is playing out in courtrooms across America.
Three plain talking judges, in state courts in Massachusetts and Kansas, and a Federal Court in Ohio, have drilled down to the “straw man” aspect of securitization. The judges’ decisions have raised serious questions as to the legality of hundreds of thousands of foreclosures that have transpired as well as the legal standing of the subsequent purchasers of those homes, who are more and more frequently the Wall Street banks themselves.
Adding to the chaos, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has made rule changes that will force hundreds of billions of dollars of these securitizations back onto the Wall Street banks balance sheets, necessitating the need to raise capital just as the unseemly courtroom dramas are playing out.
The problems grew out of the steps required to structure a mortgage securitization. In order to meet the test of an arm’s length transaction, pass muster with regulators, conform to accounting rules and to qualify as an actual sale of the securities in order to be removed from the bank’s balance sheet, the mortgages get transferred a number of times before being sold to investors. Typically, the original lender (or a sponsor who has purchased the mortgages in the secondary market) will transfer the mortgages to a limited purpose entity called a depositor. The depositor will then transfer the mortgages to a trust which sells certificates to investors based on the various risk-rated tranches of the mortgage pool. (Theoretically, the lower rated tranches were to absorb the losses of defaults first with the top triple-A tiers being safe. In reality, many of the triple-A tiers have received ratings downgrades along with all the other tranches.)
Because of the expense, time and paperwork it would take to record each of the assignments of the thousands of mortgages in each securitization, Wall Street firms decided to just issue blank mortgage assignments all along the channel of transfers, skipping the actual physical recording of the mortgage at the county registry of deeds.
Astonishingly, representatives for the trusts have been foreclosing on homes across the country, evicting the families, then auctioning the homes, without a proper paper trail on the mortgage assignments or proof that they had legal standing. In some cases, the courts have allowed the representatives to foreclose and evict despite their admission that the original mortgage note is lost. (This raises the question as to whether these mortgage notes are really lost or might have been fraudulently used in multiple securitizations...
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp. discussed losses at Merrill Lynch & Co. in early November, more than a month before telling regulators the lender needed U.S. help to complete its takeover, according to documents provided to congressional investigators.
“Read and weep,” Chief Accounting Officer Neil Cotty wrote in a Nov. 5 e-mail to Chief Financial Officer Joe Price that included Merrill’s October financial report. The e-mail, which estimated markdowns and “other larger items” of $5.3 billion, was included in 1,000 pages of documents that Bank of America gave to the House Oversight Committee last week.
The committee is investigating how the lender’s rescue of Merrill Lynch led to a government bailout for Bank of America, the biggest U.S. lender. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis didn’t tell his shareholders about Merrill’s losses before they voted to approve the deal on Dec. 5, and didn’t inform regulators until mid-December that the takeover was in danger.
THE VERDICT IS IN an I BURNT ALL THE GET OUT OF JAIL CARDS IN 06 : )
Monday, October 19, 2009
Where's The Outrage?
I don't know about you, but I am outraged.
I am outraged and not just about Goldman Sachs, but about a process that allows, even encourages political pandering, by time and time again rewarding leveraged riverboat gamblers and failed institutions and at taxpayer expense.
I am outraged that real people are suffering massively while the influence peddlers have stolen the country for their own personal benefit.
I am outraged at a political system that is totally unresponsive to the American people.
I am outraged by campaign contribution and lobbying processes that allows corporations to buy votes with donations.
I am outraged how legislators ignored the wishes of the people who clearly did not want these bailouts in the first place.
I am outraged that very little of this is in mainstream media. Why is this stuff not on the frontpage of every newspaper in the country or at least in the editorial pages?
I am outraged that the average US citizen is not aware of any of this, instead depending on CNBC, or "The View" for their interpretation of the world.
I am outraged how special interest groups have exercised their power to monopolize the economy for the benefit of themselves, US citizens be damned.
I am outraged that all these bailout programs are doing nothing to alleviate the massive consumer debt problems. Every program, virtually every program was designed to bailout lending institutions, not consumers.
I am outraged at fees charged by banks receiving bailouts.
I am outraged over government pension plans and government pay scales massively out of line with the private sector.
I am outraged that Congress and this administration thinks the solution to massive budget deficits are still higher budget deficits in excess of a trillion dollars.
I am outraged about indictments. Paulson Admitted Coercion to force a shotgun wedding between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch yet no indictments were handed out. Let the Criminal Indictments Begin: Paulson, Bernanke, Lewis.
I am outraged that US citizens are not concerned enough and not educated enough to demand change.
I am outraged that the two party system has failed. Neither party has delivered meaningful change on budgets, on taxes, on social security, on deficit spending, on the size of government, on military spending, or fighting needless wars.
I am outraged at a Fed that purports to be "inflation fighters" when the only source of inflation in the word are central bankers, and their fractional reserve lending policies.
I am outraged that Greenspan and Bernanke could not see a housing bubble that 1000 bloggers could see.
I am outraged at the selective memory of Bernanke when speaking to Congress about these problems.
I am outraged that Bernanke's one sided response to asset bubbles, letting them grow without end, then bailing out the financial institutions that cause them.
I am outraged the Fed exists at all. It is a useless organization that cannot see bubbles, that panders to banks, that supports inflationary policies that are tantamount to theft by fraud.
I am outraged that the Obama Administration promised changed and did not deliver. "Yes We Can" was a lie. The reality is "It's Business As Usual, Only Worse, With Higher Deficits".
I am outraged there is not enough outrage over this.
Where the hell is the outrage?
Mike "Mish" Shedlock
read the entire article from the beginning...
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Im tradin in an outta this beast we call a Market..a Market that confuses a camel stoggie with a camel...Yeah an the whole time you get the 'flashers' in the basement of the 'houses of the holy' tradin their sisters for the stoggie...
AnyWho Im around readin an studin everything I can get my fingers to click-on an this includes MW666....Great Job Everyone!
Your invited to join 'Sunday Morning with 8'...its not for wimps an the coffees Strong!
lil8 can't stand the fact she was almost named christopher squire
I'd tell lil8 to chill
she was lucky there was only one Page
YEAH...I can't be bothered with Sorrow or Hate
Jeff Beck & Jimmy Page ~ Beck's Bolero / Immigrant Song / Peter Gunn Theme
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Jeff Beck
Me n Stevie have put the VooDoo on GS...stay tuned
Yearn to the Sky
For the RealityZone in us all : )
heheeee Its a Take...
...I'll leave us with this 'Don't Let'em Get You Down...You Can Take It'!!!!
******MORE TO COME in another Zone nearby*******
just remember what the late great Pryor said...
"you gotta sing to get some pussy" : ))
In Your Face MarketWatch Goones!
Saturday, October 17, 2009
For-profit prison operators are gaining as demand for cells outstrips supply.
AMERICA HAS 5% OF THE PLANET'S POPULATION, but 25% of its prisoners. This should be good news for the private prisons that absorb the spillover from our congested federal and state penitentiaries, but, alas, the recession has ruffled the economics even of law and order. Cash-strapped states seeking to cut the cost of housing inmates are mulling drastic measures, ranging from quicker paroles to earlier releases. Not only have the headlines alarmed some citizens, they have frightened investors as well.
As a result, private-prison stocks are selling at unusual -- and untenable -- discounts. The three biggest companies are Corrections Corp. of America (ticker: CXW), which controls 39% of private-prison beds, Geo Group (GEO), which runs 25%, and Cornell (CRN), with 10%. While their stocks have rebounded this year, they still trade at 12 to 18 times what each is expected to earn in 2010 -- compared with multiples pushing 30 before the budget crisis.
A study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center points to an arresting development in the land of the free: For the first time, one in every 100 adults is behind bars, and state funds spent annually on corrections have swelled from $10.6 billion in 1987 to $44 billion. While the Department of Justice says violent crime has declined since 1993, drug arrests and reported crimes have increased. [my emphasis]
Conitune reading article http://online.barrons.com/public/article/SB125574536753691649.html?mod=mktw
This increase in prison population is NOT about solving the crime problems in the US; it's about profits. Profits seem to be the powerful motivator in the creation of the "War on Drugs" as well. Catherine A Fitts describes the connections between the political figures and the laws created to intentional increase the prison populations and how they have been profitting in this scheme in her story "Dillon, Read & Co. Inc. and the Aristocracy of Stock Profits" in chapters 8, 9 and 10.
Other related articles by Ms Fitts -
Prison as Industry http://www.drugwar.com/fittsprisonmemo.shtm
The Myth of the Rule of Law
Cheney Indicted for Prison Profiteering
Narco Dollars for Beginners
No matter what 'it looks' like...with their power induced tantrums ...WE are the Majority and THEY have the MOST to LOSE... 'They' can't stop the loss or they'd have already turned this semi around but nooooooo now its in an alley an they can't backup, its truly broken! In the meantime....we will have to disassemble this quagmire by plowing thru the detailed material of destruction and TEACH....not just our future generations but EVERYONE we come in contact with....its not for wimps!
So my theory is....take another deep breath, square your shoulders back an dig in...theres more tantrums to come!
BIG BANKS: "You Will Cancel FASB 166 So We Can Continue Pretending All Is Good... Or We Will Kill Lending Even More"
At first it was just the smaller banks, but now the big boys have joined the collective cry against FASB 166 and 167, according to which beginning January 1, banks will likely see up to $900 billion in off-balance sheet assets being onboarded to bank balance sheets. This would likely mean banks need to dramatically increase their Tangible and Tier 1 Capital to offset the capital needed to account for possible asset deterioration. And that, of course, is unacceptable to banks who know too well the deep @#$%&! they still find themselves in.
The irony is that banks, which have already virtually halted lending to those in need of credit, are threatening they will cut any available credit even futher. How anyone could admit to being stupid enough to believe this latest episode of Mutual Assured Destruction courtesy of the US banking system is a mystery. And yet this is precisely the type of "gun against the head" negotiating that Max Keiser was fulminating against, and that the banks are once again perpetrating:
“With any increase in required capital, a banking institution is likely to reduce the amount of lending using such securitization vehicles, as well as other lending,” the American Bankers Association wrote in a letter to regulators. The association, the nation’s biggest banking lobby, suggested that any transition period should be three years at least, with no change in regulatory capital impact in the first year.
Taking a cue from the ABA, the big 3 record earners have decided to join in: last thing one would want is JPMorgan not earning yet another record amount in Q4. First Citi chimes in:
Banks should be given three years to raise capital for offsetting assets and liabilities that must be brought onto their balance sheets, Citigroup Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said yesterday in a letter to regulators. Requiring banks to “assume the risk-based capital effects immediately, or even over one year, is an undeniably severe penalty,” he wrote.
Then you have record earner JPMorgan:
The capital requirements “will have a significant and negative impact on the amount of consumer-conduit funding that will be made available by U.S. banks,” said the letter from JPMorgan, the New York-based bank that this week reported its biggest quarterly profit since the subprime-mortgage market collapsed in 2007.
“We strongly support a phase-in period for the rule changes,” according to JPMorgan’s letter, which was signed by Managing Director Adam Gilbert. The change would take effect for annual reports after Nov. 15.
And last, Wells Fargo:
The rule “could lead to the result that every $1 billion of additional capital held from newly consolidated assets ‘crowds out’ more than $15 billion in loans,” Paul Ackerman, Wells Fargo’s treasurer, wrote in a letter yesterday to the Fed, FDIC, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Office of Thrift Supervision. The comment period ended yesterday.
And just so it is clear it is not just the ABA which is using the "we will stop lending" trump card, here is Citi:
Citigroup, the New York-based bank that yesterday reported a third-quarter profit of $101 million, argued that bringing off-balance vehicles onto its books would lead the bank to cut financing for securitizations that fuel credit-card lending, residential mortgages and student loans. Additional consumer loans will be cut as well, Citigroup said.
“We do not plan to reduce lending in only those businesses specifically impacted by the incremental regulatory capital requirements,” Gerspach wrote.
The FASB has proven it will do anything to enforce the Wall Street kleptocracy in its current state, and will bend any which way to make sure that assets marked-to-myth continue to fool gullible, TV watching idiots into buying bank stocks even as up to $750 billion in current assets may be mismarked from book to fair value. One can, however, be positive that even if the FASB grows a backbone, then the SEC, the FASB and the administration will promptly put any such ossification attempts on the backburner. Expect no bank to be accountable for its share in the nearly $1 trillion of off-balance sheet "assets" until the next president is elected.
Friday, October 16, 2009
The short answer: Key members of Congress are owned by the financial services group’s lobbyists.
The longer answer: Lobbyists from the financial industry have paid hundreds of millions to Congress, the Bush and Obama administrations. (See yesterday’s Total Campaign Contributions/Lobbying by TARP Recipients)
Virtually all key Congressional members and senators on committees overseeing finances and banking are owned by the industry — they are Bought and Paid For.
This is easy to confirm in black-and-white. See for yourself: here, here, here, here, here and here.
Manhattan Institute senior fellow Nicole Gelinas says:
The too-big-to-fail financial industry has been good to elected officials and former elected officials of both parties over its 25-year life span
And economic historian Niall Ferguson says:
Guess which institutions are among the biggest lobbyists and campaign-finance contributors? Surprise! None other than the TBTFs [too big to fails].
No wonder two powerful congressmen said that banks run Congress.
And they are not alone, Two leading IMF officials, the former Vice President of the Dallas Federal Reserve, and the President of the Kansas City Federal Reserve have each observed that the United States is controlled by a financial oligarchy.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar may drop to 50 yen next year and eventually lose its role as the global reserve currency, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.’s chief strategist said, citing trading patterns and a likely double dip in the U.S. economy.
“The U.S. economy will deteriorate into 2011 as the effects of excess consumption and the financial bubble linger,” said Daisuke Uno at Sumitomo Mitsui, a unit of Japan’s third- biggest bank. “The dollar’s fall won’t stop until there’s a change to the global currency system.”
The dollar last week dropped to the lowest in almost a year against the yen as record U.S. government borrowings and interest rates near zero sapped demand for the U.S. currency. The Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against the currencies of six major U.S. trading partners, has fallen 15 percent from its peak this year to as low as 75.211 today, the lowest since August 2008.
The gauge is about five points away from its record low in March 2008, and the dollar is 2.5 percent away from a 14-year low against the yen.
“We can no longer stop the big wave of dollar weakness,” said Uno, who correctly predicted the dollar would fall under 100 yen and the Dow Jones Industrial Average would sink below 7,000 after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. last year. If the U.S. currency breaks through record levels, “there will be no downside limit, and even coordinated intervention won’t work,” he said.
China, India, Brazil and Russia this year called for a replacement to the dollar as the main reserve currency. Hossein Ghazavi, Iran’s deputy central bank chief, said on Sept. 13 the euro has overtaken the dollar as the main currency of Iran’s foreign reserves.
The greenback is heading for the trough of a super-cycle that started in August 1971, Uno said, referring to the Elliot Wave theory, which holds that market swings follow a predictable five-stage pattern of three steps forward, two steps back.
The dollar is now at wave five of the 40-year cycle, Uno said. It dropped to 92 yen during wave one that ended in March 1973. The dollar will target 50 yen during the current wave, based on multiplying 92 with 0.764, a number in the Fibonacci sequence, and subtracting from the 123.17 yen level seen in the second quarter of 2007, according to Uno.
The Elliot Wave was developed by accountant Ralph Nelson Elliott during the Great Depression. Wave sizes are often related by a series of numbers known as the Fibonacci sequence, pioneered by 13th century mathematician Leonardo Pisano, who discerned them from proportions found in nature.
Uno said after the dollar loses its reserve currency status, the U.S., Europe and Asia will form separate economic blocs. The International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights may be used as a temporary measure, and global currency trading will shrink in the long run, he said.
More chatter of the Greenback no longer being the Global reserve currency. ? Is the pedal being put to the medal for this agenda?
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Danny Schechter is a media activist, critic, independent filmmaker, and TV producer as well as an author of 10 books and lecturer on media issues. Some call him "The News Dissector," and that's the name of his popular blog on media issues. He's also the co-founder of Media Channel.org that covers the "political, cultural and social impacts of the media," and provides information unavailable in the mainstream.
Schechter's books include The More You Watch The Less You Know, Plunder: Investigating Our Economic Calamity and the Subprime Scandal, and his newest and subject of this review, The Crime of Our Time: Was the Economic Collapse "Indeed, Criminal?"
As a form of economic terrorism, indeed so says Schechter and many others. Ellen Brown, author of Web of Debt, writes: Schechter "establishes the crime's elements, identifies the players, and exposes the weapons that have turned free markets into vehicles for mass manipulation and control."
More still, according to former high-level government and Wall Street insider Catherine Austin Fitts in describing a "financial coup d'etat" that includes inflating multiple market bubbles, pump and dump schemes, naked short selling, precious metals price suppression, and active market intervention by Washington and the Fed that lets powerful insiders game the system, commit massive fraud, and be able to transfer trillions of public wealth to themselves, then get open-ended bailouts when the inevitable crisis surfaces.
In his last book, Plunder, Schechter deconstructed one element of the economy's financialization - the outlandish amounts subprime lending, instrumental in inflating the housing bubble and the economic crisis that followed.
The Crime of Our Time is his latest attempt to explain "the financial collapse as a crime story (and) the high status white-collar crooks" who wreak havoc on "the lives of hundreds of millions worldwide." He quotes from author and labor activist Jonathan Tasini in his new book, The Audacity of Greed, saying:
"Over the past quarter century, we have lived through the greatest looting of wealth in human history." While an elite few profited hugely, "the vast majority of citizens have lived through a period of falling wages, disappearing pensions, and dwindling bank accounts, all of which led to the personal debt crisis that lies at the root of the current financial meltdown."
The fallout cost millions of Americans their jobs, homes, savings, and futures, the result of a Washington - Wall Street criminal cabal and their scandalous conspiracy against the US public. In the Crime of Our Time, Schechter, once again, does a superb job explaining it astutely, thoroughly, and clearly.
This is a book review, it is rather long, but well worth the read. Just hit the title of the topic, and it will take you right to it.
Hundreds of years ago the Incas would sacrifice virgins to appease their Volcano God. The Gods and methods of sacrifice may have changed, but the tradition remains.
Like the Incas of old, we find ourselves helpless against forces we do not understand. The foundations of our economy shake and falter in terrifying ways. In our desperation for answers we turn to High Priests of Economics who tell us these evils have befallen us because of our sins. We must sacrifice the innocent to the Volcano God or it will destroy us all.
The High Priests of Economics never explain exactly how these sacrifices will fix the economy, nor do they mention that the sins in question might be their own. Yet we still rush to offer up our children's futures through unpayable debts while never considering that there might be better alternatives.
Sacrificing Jobs on the Cross of Free Trade
"Jesus Christ is Free Trade, and Free Trade is Jesus Christ."- Dr. Robert Browning
The High Priests of Economics tell us that "globalization cannot be stopped," just like the wrath of the Volcano God. We've been told that there is no alternative to neoliberal globalization other than utter ruin.The High Priests tells us that the destruction wrought by "Globalization is good" and should be embraced, and those that denounce multinational corporations are not just wrong, but dangerously wrong.
There is no shortage of politicians and media outlets who will tell you that free trade agreements are a "win-win" proposition, and that they will always create more jobs than they will destroy.
Yet history shows otherwise.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Vermont's Right Not to Bear Arms
Joanna Mareth March 27, 2000
Vermonters have long stood behind their right to bear arms, boasting some of the highest rates of gun ownership and the least restrictive gun laws in the country. Currently the only state that allows its citizens to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, it may soon be the first to require a permit for the unarmed in its ranks. In what could be the most extreme interpretation of the Second Amendment's tricky syntax yet, a Vermont state legislator recently introduced a bill requiring all unarmed Vermont citizens to pay $500 for the privilege of not owning a gun.
Under the bill, adults who choose not to own a weapon would be required to register their name, address, Social Security number, and driver's license number with the state. Those of military age, with the exception of police and members of the armed forces, would be required to pay the $500 fine. Representative Fred Maslack proposed the bill not to encourage Vermonters to protect themselves against crime (Vermont's crime rate is very low), but to demand that citizens do their part in defense of liberty. According to Maslack, "There is a legitimate government interest in knowing who is prepared to defend the state should they be asked to do so."
Continue reading: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=vermonts_right_not_to_bear_arms
September 28, 2009
In 1994 when I covered my first global meeting, there was a press briefing by the Commission on Global Governance on their forthcoming report, Our Global Neighborhood. The man giving the briefing was one of the co-chairs, Sir Shridath Ramphal who was not only president of Guyana but also president of the (British) Commonwealth Association. As I read the glossy brochure, I thought he meant “global government” to which he replied “No, no, no we mean global governance.” When I asked about a global currency, he laughed and said, “No, not for a long time.”
Continue reading article here: http://newswithviews.com/Veon/joan167.htm
by Laura Flanders
Months ago, a former chief economist at the IMF called it mind control. Talking to Simon Johnson of the Atlantic Monthly, he explained that one of the most alarming truths laid bare by the economic crash was that the finance industry had effectively captured the thinking of government.
“That’s going too far,” said reasonable people. “This is no Banana Republic run by crony cartels.”
That was before we read Tim Geithner’s phone records.
Thursday’s AP report shows executives at a handful of companies — Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs — had not just the ear, but both ears of the Treasury Secretary to the exclusion of other even bigger and more troubled banks, and legislators.
As AP points out, Geithner had more contacts with Citigroup than he did with Barney Frank, D-Mass., the lawmaker leading the effort to approve Geithner’s financial overhaul plan. And Geithner’s contacts with Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman and CEO at Goldman, way outnumber his contacts with Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.
After the week this May when GM almost went bankrupt and the government was considering a federal takeover, the treasury secretary called Blankfein, then Jamie Dimon, the boss at JPMorgan. Then Obama called and as soon as they hung up, Geithner was back on the phone with Dimon. Poor California Democrat Xavier Becerra — who handles silly stuff like taxes and budgets. He had to leave a voice-mail message. And Geithner wasn’t talking to all bankers — mostly with people he served on nonprofit boards with, and hung out with socially.
So. . . where others have drug cartels, we have a debt cartel? It’d be clear by now if Geithner was just listening to his friends to hone his arguments against greater bank consolidation, debt securitization and finance over industry but Geithner has yet to show any sign of breaking with his Wall Street pushers.
In a Banana Republic we’d pay out protection money. Oh, but I forgot, we did that already.
This is what happens when a debtor nation, [U.S.A.] is controlled by the Banksters of greed. We are now in the frying pan of a [HAMBURGER HELPER REPUBLIC].
A Scotch is fetched for him as he is wheeled into the corner of the bar. "I was like everyone else when Obama was elected – optimistic. Everything we had been saying about racial integration was vindicated," he says, "but he's incompetent. He will be defeated for re-election. It's a pity because he's the first intellectual president we've had in many years, but he can't hack it. He's not up to it. He's overwhelmed. And who wouldn't be? The United States is a madhouse. The country should be put away – and we're being told to go away. Nothing makes any sense." The President "wants to be liked by everybody, and he thought all he had to do was talk reason. But remember – the Republican Party is not a political party. It's a mindset, like Hitler Youth. It's full of hatred. You're not going to get them aboard. Don't even try. The only way to handle them is to terrify them. He's too delicate for that."
When he compares Obama to his old friend Jack Kennedy, he shakes his head. "He's twice the intellectual that Jack was, but Jack knew the great world. Remember he spent a long time in the navy, losing ships. This kid [Obama] has never heard a gun fired in anger. He's absolutely bowled over by generals, who tell him lies and he believes them. He hasn't done anything. If you were faced with great problems in chemistry – to find the perfect gas, to gas a population – you won't know for a long time whether it works. You have to go by what people tell you. He's like that. He's not ready for prime time and he's getting a lot of prime time on his plate at once."
Is there any hope? "Every sign I see is doom. But then people say" – he adopts a whiny, nasal voice – "'Oh Mr Vidal, you're so negative, can't you say something nice about America? It's a wonderful country, everybody wants to live here.' Oh yes? When was the last time you saw a Norwegian with a green card who wanted to come here because of the health service? I'll pay you if you can find one."
But there is, he says with sudden perkiness, some "good news. Afghanistan will be terminal for the American empire, yes. Which is a happy way of looking at it. We'll be out of the empire game, rapidly. But it's too late for the country and the constitution." He raises his drink, and smiles ironically. "To a better republic," he says, and drinks in one long gulp.
contiue reading the excellent biographical interview by john hari...
Monday, October 12, 2009
Why the United States of America has gone straight to hell courtesy of our Federal government and the banking system running the government
The most revealing political quote of the last year came, in my view, from the second-highest ranking Democratic Senator, Dick Durbin, who told a local radio station in April: "And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place." The best Congressional floor speech of the last year on the financial crisis was this extraordinarily piercing five-minute revelation from Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio on the Wall Street bailout and how the Congress is subservient to their dictates. And the single most insightful article on the financial crisis was written by former IMF Chief Economist and current MIT Professor Simon Johnson in the May, 2009 issue of The Atlantic, when he argued that "the finance industry has effectively captured our government" and detailed how the U.S. has become very similar to failed emerging-market nations in both its political and economic culture.
All of that came together last night on Bill Moyers' Journal program, as Johnson and Kaptur together discussed the stranglehold which the financial industry exerts over the federal government and how that has produced a jobless recovery in which the only apparent beneficiaries are the bankers and other financial elites who caused the financial crisis in the first place. The discussion began with reference to this Associated Press article from last week, which examined Timothy Geithner's calenders, obtained through a FOIA request. Those documents show that Geithner spends an amazing amount of time on the telephone with the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, Citibank and JP Morgan: "Goldman, Citi and JPMorgan can get Geithner on the phone several times a day if necessary, giving them an unmatched opportunity to influence policy." Other than the President, virtually everyone else -- including leading members of Congress -- are forced to leave messages. Kaptur and Johnson begin by discussing what that signifies in terms of the ongoing financial crisis and how government works.
I'll excerpt a few representative passages, but the entire segment is very worth watching
(watch that Bill Moyers Journal program or continue reading greenwald's article & exerpts...)
Saturday, October 10, 2009
"If nobody recognizes a defaulted debt on their balance sheet, does it exist?"
Suppose, for the sake of argument, that there is a world in which banks are allowed by their regulators to pretend their default losses simply do not exist. And, even more outlandishly, some of these banks are allowed to sell heavily damaged loans to their central bank at nearly their full original price.
What does "deflation" mean in such a world? Not much, as it turns out. At least from a monetary perspective, because money is not being destroyed at nearly the rate that would be expected or predicted by the size and rate of the defaults.
This is the world in which we currently live. Trillions in probable and provable losses quietly exist, out of sight, on the balance sheets of the Federal Reserve and other financial institutions. If they ever come out of hiding and onto the books, I think the deflationists will be proven correct beyond all doubt.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
34 banks don't pay their quarterly TARP dividends
By Pallavi Gogoi and Paul Wiseman, USA TODAY
The U.S. taxpayers' investments in smaller banks are increasingly at risk.
In a sign that more banks are under great pressure from the recession, 34 financial institutions did not pay their quarterly dividends in August to the Treasury on funds obtained under the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP). The number almost doubled from 19 in May when payments were last made, and also raised questions about Treasury's judgment in approving these banks as "healthy," a necessary step for them to get TARP funding.
"The banks are not paying their dividends because they are worried about preserving capital," says Eric Fitzwater, associate director of research at SNL Financial.
Continue reading article...........http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/banking/2009-10-07-banks-tarp-dividends_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Housing Administration, the U.S. agency that insures mortgages with low down payments, faces $54 billion more in losses than it can withstand, a former Fannie Mae executive said.
“It appears destined for a taxpayer bailout in the next 24 to 36 months,” said Edward Pinto, a consultant who was chief credit officer from 1987 to 1989 for Fannie Mae, the mortgage- finance company that is now government-run, in testimony prepared for a House committee hearing in Washington tomorrow.
The FHA program’s volumes have quadrupled since 2006 as private lenders and insurers pulled back amid the U.S. housing slump, a trend Pinto said has left it backing risky loans and exposed to fraud in a “market where prices have yet to stabilize.” The program insures loans with down payments as low as 3.5 percent and has no formal credit-score requirements.
FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens, who will also speak tomorrow, said last month that falling prices would push its single-family fund’s reserves below a 2 percent cushion required by Congress. “Under no circumstances will a taxpayer bailout be needed” because the shortfall will be cured over time, he said.
Brian Sullivan, a spokesman for the Housing and Urban Development Department, which oversees the FHA, declined to comment today.
The idea the FHA needs a rescue is “just plain wrong,” Stevens said in an Oct. 6 letter to the Wall Street Journal. That’s in part because the FHA’s accounting method mean its reserves are enough to cover more than 30 years of projected losses, assuming no revenue from new business.
FHA’s total reserves exceed $30 billion, or more than 4.4 percent of its insurance, according to Stevens. The loan- insurance ratio, which compares the reserves with the loans insured, was 6.4 percent a year ago, according to government data.
The agency said last month it would tighten some credit, appraisal and lender standards and appoint a chief risk officer. In the first half of the year, FHA insured more than $178 billion of new mortgages, or about 19 percent of the total, according to the newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance.
Official figures on FHA’s reserves as of Sept. 30 won’t show a shortfall when released because “the assumptions used will be overly optimistic relative to loss mitigation resulting from both loan modifications and recent and expected underwriting changes,” Pinto said.
In a letter they will send to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd this afternoon, Reps. Ron Paul (R., Tex.) and Alan Grayson (D., Fla.) will ask that the Senate hold off on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s confirmation hearing until the central bank releases more information about its rescues. ( Read the full letter.)
Continue reading article here http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2009/10/07/ron-paul-calls-for-delay-in-bernanke-confirmation/?mod=mktw
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars.
The plans, confirmed to The Independent by both Gulf Arab and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong, may help to explain the sudden rise in gold prices, but it also augurs an extraordinary transition from dollar markets within nine years.
Monday, October 5, 2009
- Bruce Krasting
There was a love fest on ABC’s This Week. The odd couple was Senators Schumer (D.NY) and Cornyn (R.TX). When Schumer says, ”We have to extend the housing tax credit” Cornyn says, “Chuck and I agree”.
Cornyn went on to make a plug for Senator Isakson’s (R.GA.) bill. This would expand the $8,000 tax credit to $15,000. It would also make it available to all comers. The existing bill is only for first time buyers...
The clip is here. The discussion on the tax credit is at -9.55.
Read this to mean that it is certain that the existing subsidy will be extended. In my view these two making nice on TV means that a form of the Isakson bill is what we are going to get. This is a very significant development.
For the sake of discussion assume we do get a $15k credit... The question is how many will take advantage of this and what might be the consequences.
- - - - - - - - -
This program will have the same effect as the Clunkers program. While the window is open that stimulus is powerful. The existing housing tax credit has been very successful. It is reasonable to assume that a larger, broader program would also bring results.
But as with Clunkers, when the music stops demand stops as well. Given the magnitude of this potential bill the impacts would be very substantial when the program is ended. There will be a great sucking noise in the months that follow the end of this and the other ‘fixes’. We will not QE ourselves out of that one. The sucking noise will be heard around the world.
read the entire Krasting analysis on the effect of this tax credit...
from Washington's Blog
Why isn't the government breaking up the giant, insolvent banks?
We Need Them To Help the Economy Recover?
Do we need the Too Big to Fails to help the economy recover?
The following top economists and financial experts believe that the economy cannot recover unless the big, insolvent banks are broken up in an orderly fashion:
Nobel prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz
Nobel prize-winning economist, Ed Prescott
Dean and professor of finance and economics at Columbia Business School, and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, R. Glenn Hubbard
MIT economics professor and former IMF chief economist, Simon Johnson (and see this)
President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Thomas Hoenig (and see this)
Deputy Treasury Secretary, Neal S. Wolin
The President of the Independent Community Bankers of America, a Washington-based trade group with about 5,000 members, Camden R. Fine
The Congressional panel overseeing the bailout
The head of the FDIC, Sheila Bair
The leading monetary economist and co-author with Milton Friedman of the leading treatise on the Great Depression, Anna Schwartz
Economics professor and senior regulator during the S & L crisis, William K. Black
Economics professor, Nouriel Roubini
Economist, Marc Faber
Professor of entrepreneurship and finance at the Chicago Booth School of Business, Luigi Zingales
Economics professor, Thomas F. Cooley
Former investment banker, Philip Augar
Chairman of the Commons Treasury, John McFall
Others, like Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, think that the giant insolvent banks may need to be temporarily nationalized.
continue reading for details on why there is NO systemic risk in having them fail, and why these zombies are still being propped up...
Sunday, October 4, 2009
By ELLEN BROWN
"A year ago,” said law professor Ross Buckley on Australia’s ABC News last week, “nobody wanted to know the International Monetary Fund. Now it’s the organiser for the international stimulus package which has been sold as a stimulus package for poor countries.”
The IMF may have catapulted to a more exalted status than that. According to Jim Rickards, director of market intelligence for scientific consulting firm Omnis, the unannounced purpose of last week’s G20 Summit in Pittsburgh was that “the IMF is being anointed as the global central bank.” Rickards said in a CNBC interview on September 25 that the plan is for the IMF to issue a global reserve currency that can replace the dollar.
“They’ve issued debt for the first time in history,” said Rickards. “They’re issuing SDRs. The last SDRs came out around 1980 or ’81, $30 billion. Now they’re issuing $300 billion. When I say issuing, it’s printing money; there’s nothing behind these SDRs.”
SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights, are a synthetic currency originally created by the IMF to replace gold and silver in large international transactions. But they have been little used until now. Why does the world suddenly need a new global fiat currency and global central bank? Rickards says it because of “Triffin’s Dilemma,” a problem first noted by economist Robert Triffin in the 1960s. When the world went off the gold standard, a reserve currency had to be provided by some large-currency country to service global trade. But leaving its currency out there for international purposes meant that the country would have to continually buy more than it sold, running large deficits; and that meant it would eventually go broke. The U.S. has fueled the world economy for the last 50 years, but now it is going broke. The U.S. can settle its debts and get its own house in order, but that would cause world trade to contract. A substitute global reserve currency is needed to fuel the global economy while the U.S. solves its debt problems, and that new currency is to be the IMF’s SDRs.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
With Hilary Clinton as Eva Peron singing 'Don't cry for me Obama'? One of the most remarkable economic reversals over the last decade has been the impressive macroeconomic discipline shown by leading emerging markets from Brazil to India, while developed nations such as the UK and US have become increasingly reckless and profligate. While the former have been steadily re-rated by investors leading to a huge secular bull market in emerging market equities and bonds, the latter have yet to pay the price for their growing fiscal irresponsability. Argentina's troubled history in recent decades leads many to forget just how prosperous and advanced the country was a century ago; in fact, it was one of the ten richest countries in the world on a per capita basis until the 1930's. Any analysis of the country's stunning decline into inflation and dictatorship a few decades later must begin with the role of an entrenched economic elite who pursued their narrow interests regardless of the national cost. Rather than investment bankers, Argentina had an elite of a few thousand landowners who equally dominated the economy via agricultural exports. The pursuit of naked self-interest by these 'oligarchs' led to an increasingly unbalanced economy that underinvested in education and infrastructure and was dominated by inefficient monopolies protected by political patrons. That effort to protect the status quo at all costs via a captive political system led to the failure of attempts to modernize the economy and income inequalities growing to a destabilizing extreme. Effectively Argentina metamorphosed from a productive to a rentier economy, with a small elite redistributing stagnant national wealth to their short-term advantage. Sound even vaguely familiar?
America's strongest remaining economic advantage has been its ability to reallocate capital and talent to the 'new thing', the innovative business models and technologies that can transform broader economic productivity and generate new wealth. That depends on both social mobility and an effective reallocation of capital and people from dying to rising industries, what Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter termed 'creative destruction'. Regulatory and political capture by entrenched elites runs counter to both, and helps explain the unhealthy domination of the US economy by the finance and healthcare industries over the past decade, whose political lobbying and funding dwarfs any other sector. An economy riven by narrow vested interests seeking to direct public policy and profit from public funds becomes one saddled with perverse economic incentives that undermine the purging and renewal process that is central to capitalism.
The end result is secular decline, imperceptible at first, but eventually leading to a crisis of confdence in a nation's currency and its debt obligations.