Who knows the average joe American people better than bailout-boy and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson? Speaking with BloombergTV this morning, he excised his opinion on the “angry American” people and why, despite “being ripe for populism,” Paulson forecasts that “I don’t think we’re going to see a President Trump.”
MICKLETHWAIT: Would a President Trump be a useful ingredient to that long term stability?
PAULSON: Listen, you know the answer to that as well as I do, and I don’t think we’re going to see a President Trump.
RUHLE: You don’t think we will? What do you think we will have here?
PAULSON: I don’t — listen, I shouldn’t even have made that comment, because I’m — I’ve got to tell you, I’m seeing things today that I never expected to see from either party. Never expected to see, and things that are very disappointing and disturbing to me, the level of the discourse, and I think what we have is, when you have the American people as angry as they are, that this is — this makes them ripe for populism, and I think what we’re seeing is rooted in that populism, so, but I’m not going to make a prediction on who our president’s going to be. But I will stick my neck way out and say, I don’t think it’s going to be Donald Trump.
“Do as I say, not as I do” is the clear message of hypocrisy spewed forth by former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson this week. Having presided over the largest redistriubution of taxpayer funds to bailout the banking system, while exclaiming fire and brimstone should they not be saved, he now has some advice for an over-levered, over-capacity, systemically-stymied China – “let failing companies fail.”
A few months ago, a hurt Ben Bernanke put on his blogger hat and set out to explain why, in his mind, the unconventional policies undertaken by the Fed in the post-crisis years have not contributed to record income inequality. As we noted at the time, epic hilarity ensued.
Bernanke’s explanation went something like this: while QE does indeed inflate asset prices, poor people have been getting poorer for quite some time, so sure, maybe the Fed contributed a little bit, but probably not a whole lot and besides, the more Keynes the better when it comes to smoothing out the business cycle and a smooth business cycle is good for everyone. Finally, Bernanke patiently explained that to the extent ZIRP punishes savers it’s nonsensical to mention it in any discussion about income inequality because after all, poor people don’t have savings.
That description is probably not as generous as it could be, but if you read Bernanke’s post it’s pretty close. Continue reading »
“It’s going to get a lot hotter in the United States over the next 100 years, and worse going forward,” notes a report cited by Bloomberg.The report, below, fearmongers the mutually assured destruction that will happen if something is not done right now about global warming (despite the implications being out to the year 2200) concluding… “The risks are much more perverse and cruel than we saw with the financial crisis, because they accumulate over time…a business-as-usual approach is actually radical risk-taking.” Can you guess who sponsored the report and used those M.A.D. words?
If policymakers were gunfighters, they’d be out of bullets: They have run out of effective policy tools to improve the economy.
So the question is simple: If there is a recession in 2014, and policymakers are out of bullets, how will it play out across the American economy?
Recently, Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid very astutely pointed out that the current “expansion” of the U.S. economy is on its fifth year—the seventh longest in history.
It would appear that (apart from Tesla, for now) that any thing related to electric cars is going up in flames. From Fisker’s fubar (and blowing all that hard-earned government funding) and Chevy’s Volt dysphoria to A-123 Systems (the Lithium-Ion battery-maker) and now Coda – which Yahoo Finance notes was among an emerging crop of California startups seeking to build emission-free electric cars three years ago. After selling just 100 of its $37,250 five-passenger vehicles, Coda filed Chapter 11 today taking a few well-known investors with it. On the bright side, the government was not involved (from what we can tell), but on the even brighter side, none other than former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was among those burned by the company going up in flames (as was Harbinger’s Phil Falcone).Despite the $300 million the company managed to raise, that quickly went and unable to raise an additional $150 million in new funding (we suspect blaming ‘market conditions’ for its mere $22million raise), Coda had no choice (and Fortress was more than happy to scoop it up and provide the DIP – the cars will make for fancy paperweights in a collateral liquidation). ‘Green’ is the new ‘red’ as it seems when it comes to electric cars, regardless of funding source – private or public – it goes up in flames.
Green car startup Coda Holdings Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Wednesday after selling just 100 of its all-electric sedans, another example of battery-powered vehicles’ failure to break into the mass market.
… exit the auto sector and refocus on energy storage, a far less capital-intensive business. Continue reading »
It has been four long winters since the federal government, in the hulking, shaven-skulled, Alien Nation-esque form of then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, committed $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street from its own chicanery and greed. To listen to the bankers and their allies in Washington tell it, you’d think the bailout was the best thing to hit the American economy since the invention of the assembly line. Not only did it prevent another Great Depression, we’ve been told, but the money has all been paid back, and the government even made a profit. No harm, no foul – right?
It was all a lie – one of the biggest and most elaborate falsehoods ever sold to the American people. We were told that the taxpayer was stepping in – only temporarily, mind you – to prop up the economy and save the world from financial catastrophe. What we actually ended up doing was the exact opposite: committing American taxpayers to permanent, blind support of an ungovernable, unregulatable, hyperconcentrated new financial system that exacerbates the greed and inequality that caused the crash, and forces Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to increase risk rather than reduce it. The result is one of those deals where one wrong decision early on blossoms into a lush nightmare of unintended consequences. We thought we were just letting a friend crash at the house for a few days; we ended up with a family of hillbillies who moved in forever, sleeping nine to a bed and building a meth lab on the front lawn.
Senator Ron Paul has introduced the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2012 ( HR459) to the upset of Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank. In August, the House of Representatives passed 327 – 98 on a vote which exceeded the necessary 2/3rd majority.
Paul, who is pushing for “transparency” in America’s relationship with the Fed, said that Americans are “sick and tired of what happened in the bailout and where the wealthy got bailed out and the poor lost their jobs and they lost their homes.”
The Audit legislation will direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which is an independent congressional agency, to oversee a full review of the Fed’s monetary policy while conducting an audit of them and their decisions will be turned over to the Federal Open Market Committee.
In July, the first audit of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) was published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). According to Senator Bernie Sanders : “As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world. This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.”
During 2007 – 2010, the Federal Reserve banks provided “assistance” of more than a trillion dollars in “emergency loans” to stabilize the financial system.
A source in the Deutsche Bank explained that in 2008 our financial and monetary system completely collapsed and since that time the banking cartels have been “propping up the system” to make it appear as if everything was fine. In reality our stock market and monetary systems are fake; meaning that there is nothing holding them in place except the illusion that they have stabilized since the Stock Market Crash nearly 5 years ago.
The Deutsche Bank informant says that the cause for the bailout of the banks was a large sum of cash needed quickly to repay China who had purchased large quantities of mortgage-backed securities that went belly-up when the global scam was realized. When China realized that they had been duped into buying worthless securitized loans which would never be repaid, they demanded the actual property instead. The Chinese were prepared to send their “people” to American shores to seize property as allocated to them through the securitized loan contracts.
Details about a secretive government program to bail out money-market mutual funds are finally coming to light.
Acting without any explicit Congressional authority, the U.S. Treasury guaranteed in excess of $2.4 trillion of money market funds after the giant Reserve Primary Fund “broke the buck” following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. The program, which ended on Sept. 18, 2009, seems to have successfully prevented a panicked run by money-market fund investors.
But until now the Treasury has kept the identities of the funds that received government backing and the amounts guaranteed secret. It was not clear how many funds obtained backing or for how much taxpayers were on the hook during the program’s duration.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
Among some of the discoveries of the financial crisis is that the entire financial system is now, following the Lehman bankruptcy, built entirely on fraud. And while Ken Lewis may spend the remainder of his days on some private island with stolen taxpayer money providing for his every last wish, it was he, in following the Fed’s and the Treasury’s orders to make a mockery of fiduciary responsibility, that was among the first people to confirm that there is no rule of low in America, or rather whatever law there is, it only applies to the less than immortal (i.e. the sub-banker class). Below, in an indication that Zero Hedge will never forget, we present the salient highlights from the Ken Lewis deposition on the MAC clause surrounding the Merrill transition, emphasizing the threats from Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke. For as long as neither of these three is in jail for what is documented shareholder (and taxpayer) fraud, we fail to see why the remaining 300+ million Americans continue to diligently pay their share of taxes into a government that is now beyond (and in full documentation) corrupt. Also, how BofA’s lawyer Wachtell was not at all present during the discussion of the MAC clause, makes a complete mockery of the US legal process in its entirety. We wonder just when the official scribe of the kleptocracy, Andrew R. Sorkin, will write a book disclosing the truth of what happened, including a listing of all the laws broken with full premeditation by every single player, and not the watered down, PG13 (and rather expensive)version that makes everyone come out like a law-abiding superman.
Make no mistake, the financial crisis has only just begun.
This is The Greatest Depression.
Paulson on Paulson
A friend sent me a collage of quotes from former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s memoir of the financial crisis, On the Brink. The quotes are particularly relevant in view of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s newly issued report which concludes that the 2008 financial crisis was badly mishandled by the government.
The collage paints a stunning picture of a confused and panicked government without a coherent strategy for getting in front of and containing the crisis. Judge for yourself:
“I misread the cause, and the scale, of the coming disaster. Notably absent from my presentation was any mention of problems in housing or mortgages.” (p. 47)
“All of this led me in late April 2007 to say . . . that subprime mortgage problems were ‘largely contained.’ I repeated that line of thinking publicly for another couple of months. . . . We were just plain wrong.” (p. 66)
“Lehman’s UK bankruptcy administrator, PricewaterhouseCoopers, had frozen [Lehman’s] assets in the UK . . . a completely unexpected . . . jolt.” (p. 230)
“General Electric . . . was having problems selling commercial paper. This stunned me.” (p. 172)
“I’d never expected to hear those troubles spreading like this to the corporate world. . . .” (p. 227)
“In a celebratory mood, [Rep.] Pelosi, [Sen.] Reid, [Sen.] Dodd, [Rep.] Frank, [Sen.] Schumer, and I walked together to Statuary Hall to announce the [TARP] deal. . . . Perhaps I should have foreseen the problems ahead . . . .” (p. 314)
“I expected [TARP] to be politically unpopular, but the intensity of the backlash astonished me.” (p. 370)
“I began to seriously doubt that our asset-buying program [TARP] could work. This pained me, as I had sincerely promoted the [toxic asset] purchases to Congress and the public. . . .” (p. 385)
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is releasing its report Thursday.
The New York Times has a preview of the report, which shows that the Commission will slam the right people for causing the financial crisis.
Barry Ritholtz gives a good summary of the Times’ article:
The many causal factors highlighted in the FCIC report:
• Alan Greenspan’s malfeasance — his refusal to perform his regulatory duties because he did not believe in them — allowed the credit bubble to expand, driving housing prices to dangerously unsustainable levels; Greenspan’s advocacy for financial deregulation was a “pivotal failure to stem the flow of toxic mortgages” and “the prime example” of government negligence;
• Ben S. Bernanke failed to foresee the crisis;
• The Bush administration’s “inconsistent response” — saving Bear, but allowing Lehman to crater — “added to the uncertainty and panic in the financial markets.”
• Bush Treasury secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. wrongly predicted in 2007 that subprime meltdown would be contained.
• The Clinton White House, including then Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, made a crucial error in “shielding over-the-counter derivatives from regulation [CFMA]. This was “a key turning point in the march toward the financial crisis.”
• Then NY Fed President, now Treasury secretary Timothy F. Geithner failed to “clamp down on excesses by Citigroup in the lead-up to the crisis;” Further, a month before Lehman’s collapse, Geithner was still in the dark about Lehman’s derivative exposure;
• Low interest rates brought about by the Fed after the 2001 recession “created increased risks” but were not chiefly to blame, according to the FCIC (I place some more weight on Ultra-low rates than they do);
• The financial sector spent $2.7 billion on lobbying from 1999 to 2008, while individuals and committees affiliated with the industry made more than $1 billion in campaign contributions. The impact of which an incestuous relationship between bankers and regulators, Congress and bankers, and classic regulatory capture by the industry.
• The credit-rating agencies “cogs in the wheel of financial destruction.”
• The Securities and Exchange Commission allowed the 5 biggest banks to ramp up their leverage, hold insufficient capital, and engage in risky practices.
• Leverage at the nation’s five largest investment banks was wildly excessive: They kept only $1 in capital to cover losses for about every $40 in assets;
• The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency along with the Office of Thrift Supervision, “federally pre-empted” (blocked) state regulators from reining in lending abuses;
• The report documents “questionable practices by mortgage lenders and careless betting by banks;”
• The report portrays the “bumbling incompetence among corporate chieftains” as to the risk and operations of their own firms:
-Citigroup executives admitting that they paid little attention to the risks associated with mortgage securities.
-AIG executives were blind to its $79 billion exposure to credit default swaps;
-Merrill Lynch top managers were surprised when mortgage investments suddenly resulted in billions of dollars in losses;
So . .. . you think you know quite a bit about Obama and his band of thieves. You don’t know anything yet. Read on all of this as it all comes together in the last part…….. a must read.
This is an interesting story put together from various articles and TV shows by the British Times paper. It shows what Obama and his friends are really all about. It’s not hope and change, it is money.
I warn you, the first part is a little boring, but stick with it.
The second part connects all the dots for you (it will open your eyes). The end explains how Obama and all his cronies will end up as multi-billionaires. (It’s definitely worth the read. You will not be disappointed).
A small bank in Chicago called SHORE BANK almost went bankrupt during the recession. The bank made a profit on its foreign micro-loans (see below) but had lost money in sub-prime mortgages in the US . It was facing likely closure by federal regulators. However, because the bank’s executives were well connected with members of the Obama Administration, a private rescue bailout was arranged. The bank’s employees had donated money to Obama’s Senate campaign. In other words, Shore Bank was too politically connected to
be allowed to go under.
Shore Bank survived and invested in many “green” businesses such as solar panel manufacturing. In fact, the bank was mentioned in one of Obama’s speeches during his election campaign because it subjected new business borrowers to eco-litmus tests.
Prior to becoming President, Obama sat on the board of the JOYCE FOUNDATION, a liberal charity. This foundation was originally established by Joyce Kean ‘s family which had accumulated millions of dollars in the lumber industry. It mostly gave funds to hospitals but after her death in 1972, the foundation was taken over by radical environmentalists and social justice extremists.
This JOYCE FOUNDATION, which is rumored to have assets of 8 billion dollars, has now set up and funded, with a few partners, something called the CHICAGO CLIMATE EXCHANGE, known as CXX. It will be the exchange (like the Chicago Grain Futures Market for agriculture) where Environmental Carbon Credits are traded.
Under Obama’s new bill, businesses in the future will be assessed a tax on how much CO2 they produce (their Carbon Footprint) or in other words how much they add to global warming. If a company produces less CO2 than their allotted measured limit, they earn a Carbon Credit. This Carbon Credit can be traded on the CXX exchange. Another company, which has gone over their CO2 limit, can buy the Credit and “reduce” their footprint and tax liability. It will be like trading shares on Wall Street.
Well, it was the same JOYCE FOUNDATION, along with some other private partners and Wall Street firms that funded the bailout of Shore Bank. The foundation is now one of the major shareholders. The bank has now been designated to be the “banking arm” of the CHICAGO CLIMATE EXCHANGE (CXX). In addition, Goldman Sachs has been contracted to run the investment trading floor of the exchange.
So far so good; But now the INTERESTING parts.
One. Shore Bank co-founder, named Jan Piercy, was a Wellesley College roommate of Hillary Clinton. Hillary and Bill Clinton have long supported the bank and are small investors.
Another co-founder of Shore Bank, named Mary Houghton, was a friend of Obama’s late mother. Obama’s mother worked on foreign MICRO-LOANS for the Ford Foundation. She worked for the foundation with a guy called Geithner. Yes, you guessed it. This man was the father of Tim Geithner, our present Treasury Secretary, who failed to pay all his taxes for two years.
Another founder of Shore Bank was Ronald Grzywinski , a cohort and close friend of Jimmy Carter.
The former Shore Bank Vice Chairman was a man called Bob Nash . He was the deputy campaign manager of Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. He also sat on the board of the Chicago Law School with Obama and Bill Ayers, the former terrorist. Nash was also a member of Obama’s White House transition team.
(To jog your memories, Bill Ayers is a Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago . He founded the Weather Underground, a radical revolutionary group that bombed buildings in the 60s and 70s. He had no remorse for those who were killed; escaped jail on a technicality; and is still an admitted Marxist).
When Obama sat on the board of the JOYCE FOUNDATION, he “funneled” thousands of charity dollars to a guy named John Ayers, who runs a dubious education fund. Yes, you guessed it.. The brother of Bill Ayers, the terrorist.
Howard Stanback is a board member of Shore Bank. He is a former board chairman of the Woods Foundation. Obama and Bill Ayers, the terrorist, also sat on the board of the Woods Foundation. Stanback was formerly employed by New Kenwood Inc., a real estate development company co-owned by Tony Rezko
(You will remember that Tony Rezko was the guy who gave Obama an amazing sweet deal on his new house. Years prior to this, the law firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland had represented Rezko’s company and helped him get more than 43 million dollars in government funding. Guess who worked as a lawyer at the firm at the time.
Yes, Barack Obama.
Adele Simmons , the Director of ShoreBank, is a close friend of Valerie Jarrett , a White House senior advisor to
Obama. Simmons and Jarrett also sit on the board of a dubious Chicago Civic Organization.
Van Jones sits on the board of Shore Bank and is one of the marketing directors for “green” projects. He also holds a senior advisor position for black studies at Princeton University. You will remember that Mr.Van Jones was appointed by Obama in 2009 to be a Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House. He was forced to resign over past political activities, including the fact that he is a Marxist.
Al Gore was one of the smaller partners to originally help fund the CHICAGO CLIMATE EXCHANGE. He also founded a company called Generation Investment Management (GIM) and registered it in London, England. GIM has close links to the UK-based Climate Exchange PLC, a holding company listed on the London Stock Exchange. This company trades Carbon Credits in Europe (just like CXX will do here) and its floor is run by Goldman Sachs .
Along with Gore, the other co-founder of GIM is Hank Paulson, the former US Treasury Secretary and former CEO of Goldman Sachs. His wife, Wendy , graduated from and is presently a Trustee of Wellesley College. Yes, the same college that Hillary Clinton and Jan Piercy, a co-founder of Shore Bank attended. (They are all friends).
Interesting? And now the closing…
Because many studies have been exposed as scientific nonsense, people are slowly realizing that man-made global warming is nothing more than a money-generating hoax. As a result, Obama is working feverishly to win the race. He aims to push a Cap-and-Trade Carbon Tax Bill through Congress and into law.
Obama knows he must get this passed before he loses his majority in Congress in the November elections. Apart from Climate Change he will “sell” this bill to the public as generating tax revenue to reduce our debt. But, it will also make it impossible for US companies to compete in world markets and drastically increase unemployment. In addition, energy prices (home utility rates) will sky rocket.
But, here’s the “KICKER”
(THE MONEY TRAIL).
If the bill passes, it is estimated that over 10 TRILLION dollars each year will be traded on the CXX exchange. At a commission rate of only 4 percent, the exchange would earn close to 400 billion dollars to split between its owners, all Obama cronies. At a 2 percent rate, Goldman Sachs would also rake in 200 billion dollars each year.
But don’t forget SHORE BANK. With 10 trillion dollars flowing though its accounts, the bank will earn close to 40 billion dollars in interest each year for its owners (more Obama cronies), without even breaking a sweat.
It is estimated Al Gore alone will probably rake in 15 billion dollars just in the first year. Of course, Obama’s “commissions” will be held in trust for him at the Joyce Foundation . They are estimated to be over 8 billion dollars by the time he leaves office in 2013, if the bill passes this year. Of course, these commissions will continue to be paid for the rest of his life.
Some financial experts think this will be the largest “scam” or “legal heist” in world history. Obama’s cronies make the Mafia look like rank amateurs. They will make Bernie Madoff ‘s fraud look like penny ante stuff.
David Fiderer’s below piece, originally published on the Huffington Post,continues probing the topic of Goldman and AIG. For all intents and purposes the debate has been pretty much exhausted and if there was a functioning legal system, Goldman would have been forced long ago to pay back the cash it received from ML-3 (which in itself should have been long unwound now that plans to liquidate AIG have been scrapped) and to have the original arrangement reestablished (including the profitless unwind of AIG CDS the firm made improper billions on, by trading on non-public, pre-March 2009, information), and now that AIG is solvent courtesy of the government, so too its counterparties can continue experiencing some, albeit marginal, risk, instead of enjoying the possession of cold hard cash. Oh, and Tim Geithner would be facing civil and criminal charges.
Yet as we look forward, we ask, who now determines the variation margin on Greek CDS (and Portugal, and Dubai, and Spain, and, pretty soon, Japan and the US), the associated recovery rate, and how much collateral should be posted by sellers of Greek protection? If Greek banks, as the rumors goes, indeed sold Greek protection, and, as the rumor also goes, Goldman was the bulk buyer, either in prop or flow capacity, it is precisely Goldman, just like in the AIG case, that can now dictate what the collateral margin that Greek counterparties, and by extension the very nation of Greece, have to post on billions of dollars of Greek insurance. Let’s say Goldman thinks Greece’s debt recovery is 75 cents and the CDS should be trading at 700 bps, instead of the “prevailing” consensus of a 90 recovery and 450 spread, then it will very likely get its way when demanding extra capital to cover potential shortfalls, since Goldman itself has been instrumental in covering up Greece’s catastrophic financial state and continues to be a critical factor in any future refinancing efforts on behalf of Greece. Obviously this incremental margin, which only Goldman will ever see, even if the CDS was purchased on a flow basis, will never be downstreamed on behalf of its clients, and instead will be used to [buy futures|buy steepeners|prepay 2011 bonuses|buy more treasuries for the BONY $60 billion Treasury rainy day fund].
In essence, through its conflict of interest, its unshakable negotiating position, and its facility to determine collateral requirements and variation margin, Goldman can expand its previous position of strength from dictating merely AIG and Federal Reserve decision making, to one which determines sovereign policy! This is unmitigated lunacy and a recipe for financial collapse at the global level.
This is yet another AIG in the making, with Goldman this time likely threatening to accelerate the collapse not merely of the US financial system, but of the global one, in order to attain virtually infinite negotiating leverage. Of course, the world will not allow a Greece-initiated domino, allowing Goldman to call everyone’s bluff once again. Continue reading »
Russell Roberts is a professor of economics at George Mason University and former Director of the Center for Experiential Learning at Washington University in St. Louis.
Roberts is a regular commentator on business and economics for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, and has written for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Professor Roberts focuses on communicating economics to non-economists, and to that end is the host of the award-winning podcast EconTalk and blogs at Cafe Hayek with Donald J. Boudreaux. Continue reading »
It’s good to see that US officials and former officials continue acting to par, God forbid they actually shock us and change their stripes. The latest tripe out of the mouths of the mega corrupted and their hand picked puppets is Henry Paulson’s tripe about Russia trying to collapse the US economic bubble and that being the reason that the US is now down on its luck.
And why not? After all, Russia only had some $450 BILLION invested in the US and that is not counting the various steel plants and other assets owned by Russian companies. Why not just throw away all that money, surely it could never be the fact that the US, government and people and corporations, are debt drunk and indentured fools who can not live within their means and spend and continue to spend like maniacs. It is almost like an alcoholic in his final stages of death, knowing its all over, why the hell not just drink like crazy, the liver is done anyways? Or a man dieing from lung cancer who just keeps chain smoking, not going to make any difference at this point anyways.
But Henry Paulson is an egotist and a former top official who obviously 1. does not want to be seen as the fool and boob that he is and 2. go to jail or worse get lynched by angry mobs. So, he does what any failed US government or business hack does, who can try and get away with it: he blames it on Russia. Russia, the evil tyrant, the ones who have a spy under every bed, an assassin with a uranium filled syringe, in every closet and a banker with a nuclear money bomb at every stock market.
This is no different from the usual: blame Russia for Georgia’s aggression, committed by a maniac US puppet. Blame Russia for a hyper armed Middle East, while the US hands out $12 billion in weapons to the Middle East, most of it to Islamics, each and every year. Blame Russia for Syria, while the US pays Syria to run black ops prisons and torture captives the US delivers. Blame Russia for Hamas and the PLO while the US saves the PLO from Israeli-Lebanese Christian extermination and then legitimizes them and arms them. Blame Russia for Serbia, while the US arms Islamic fanatics and wages a terror war of genocide on Orthodox Christian Serbs. Why not?
So now, while US banks and their lap dog English fellow sociopaths, were conning and robbing the world blind, till it all collapsed, lets now blame Russia for this to.
Of course, the US media is more than happy to join in and head lines are a buzz. Just to do a google search for the English versions. “Russia’s risky roulette” declares the New York Post.
“Russia tried to talk China into waging financial war on the US in 2008, as the country was mired in a mortgage crisis. According to a forthcoming book by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Russian leaders wanted the Chinese government to dump billions of dollars worth of bonds tied to ailing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” They state this as a fact. Why not, its not like they will ever be called out on the lies.
“Paulson Says Russia Urged China to Dump Fannie, Freddie Bonds” declares Bloomberg via BusinessWeek. “The Russians made a “top-level approach” to the Chinese “that together they might sell big chunks of their GSE holdings to force the U.S. to use its emergency authorities to prop up these companies,” Paulson said, referring to the acronym for government sponsored entities. The Chinese declined, he said.”
Of course, what Paulson and everyone else avoids answering is the simple question of: Why? What would Russia gain from loosing its invested funds? Secondly, at this point, the US would have done just what it did anyways, which is nationalize the two companies, which it was propping up anyways. Conspiracy is much easier to deal with than to answer for three decades of failed American social engineering financed with the savings and futures of much of the world.
The only proof they have is that Russia sold off its $65 billion in Fannie and Freddie in 2008. Oh my, you mean that our government had the brains not to ride the crashing plane to the bottom but decided to jump out with a parachute. Why not blame every other investor, who sold, for this also. My bet is, if Mr. Paulson owned any of that stock, he was out of it long before mid 2008. Furthermore, $65 billion is a drop in the trillions of debt that those two organizations hold.Continue reading »
JPMorgan vs. Goldman Sachs: Why the Market Was Down for 7 Days in a Row
We are witnessing an epic battle between two banking giants, JPMorgan Chase (Paul Volcker) and Goldman Sachs (Geithner/Summers/Rubin). Left strewn on the battleground could be your pension fund and 401K.
The late Libertarian economist, Murray Rothbard, wrote that U.S. politics since 1900, when William Jennings Bryan narrowly lost the presidency, has been a struggle between two competing banking giants, the Morgans and the Rockefellers. The parties would sometimes change hands, but the puppeteers pulling the strings were always one of these two big-money players. No popular third party candidate had a real chance at winning, because the bankers had the exclusive power to create the national money supply and therefore held the winning cards.
In 2000, the Rockefellers and the Morgans joined forces, when JPMorgan and Chase Manhattan merged to become JPMorgan Chase Co. Today the battling banking titans are JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, an investment bank that gained notoriety for its speculative practices in the 1920s. In 1928, it launched the Goldman Sachs Trading Corp., a closed-end fund similar to a Ponzi scheme. The fund failed in the stock market crash of 1929, marring the firm’s reputation for years afterwards. Former Treasury Secretaries Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers all came from Goldman, and current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner rose through the ranks of government as a Summers/Rubin protégé. One commentator called the U.S. Treasury “Goldman Sachs South.” Continue reading »
Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) — Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says in his memoir that he was prepared to support a government backstop to prevent the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. until he learned the firm’s assets were so mis- marked it would have guaranteed a loss to taxpayers.‘
As of ‘now’ the US taxpayer has already lost everything, because of bailouts, stimulus packages, quantitative easing etc., which only benefited the banksters and the elite. It is just that the people don’t know it yet.
The US government and the Fed are bankrupting America!
As a side note:
If you are an investor and your investment starts to look really bad and is about to lose a lot of money, then you better sell it straightaway.
China is also about to lose a lot of money from holding US Treasuries, and it has now become very difficult to sell them without tremendous consequences, but the bailout/stimulus bubble will finally blow up. This will be the end of the dollar and the US as we know it.
Just think about the big dilemma the Chinese are in now, because of the irresponsible economic policies of the US.
I am not saying that China ‘always’ acted responsible. This is a created crisis. This is the Greatest Depression and it has only just begun.
Henry Paulson, former U.S. treasury secretary, testifies at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 27, 2010. (Bloomberg)
Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) — Russia urged China to dump its Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds in 2008 in a bid to force a bailout of the largest U.S. mortgage-finance companies, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said.
Paulson learned of the “disruptive scheme” while attending the Beijing Summer Olympics, according to his memoir, “On The Brink.”
The Russians made a “top-level approach” to the Chinese “that together they might sell big chunks of their GSE holdings to force the U.S. to use its emergency authorities to prop up these companies,” Paulson said, referring to the acronym for government sponsored entities. The Chinese declined, he said.
Russia’s five-day war with U.S. ally Georgia started on Aug. 8, the same day as the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Games. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told U.S. President George W. Bush during those ceremonies that “war has started,” according to Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman.
“The report was deeply troubling — heavy selling could create a sudden loss of confidence in the GSEs and shake the capital markets,” Paulson wrote. “I waited till I was back home and in a secure environment to inform the president.”
Russia never approached China about dumping U.S. bonds, Peskov said today. “This is not the case,” he said by phone.
Russia sold all of its Fannie and Freddie debt in 2008, after holding $65.6 billion of the notes at the start of that year, according to central bank data. Fannie and Freddie were seized by regulators on Sept. 6, 2008, amid the worst U.S. housing slump since the Great Depression. Continue reading »
This is not a conspiracy. This is politics and economics.
Wake up America! You will lose everything, if you do not act NOW.
Prepare yourself for a complete controlled meltdown. The greatest financial collapse in world history.
A hyperinflationary depression. THE Greatest Depression.
The Fed and the US government are destroying America!
(More information at the end of the following article.)
“The people no longer have elected representatives; they have elected traitors.”
By Stewart Dougherty
Stewart Dougherty is a specialist in inferential analysis, the practice of identifying historic and contemporary patterns and then extrapolating their likely effects upon the future. Dougherty was educated at Tufts University (B.A., magna cum laude), and Harvard Business School (M.B.A. and an academic Fellow).
FOREWORD: At certain times, focusing on the big picture is important not just for investment success, but for personal welfare, and even survival. We believe such times are here. It is estimated that 98% of Americans have never held a gold coin in their hands. Yet 100% of Americans regularly handle Federal Reserve Notes. From a contrarian standpoint, the financial message from those two statistics is clear. Even so, gold is much more than money or an investment medium; it stands for liberty and throughout history has facilitated escape and ensured freedom. Never having touched a gold coin is the monetary equivalent to never having breathed fresh air, felt the warmth of sunshine, looked up at the stars or risen from the gutter. Fiat Federal Reserve Notes are becoming nothing more than sewage decomposing in the vast, toxic septic tank of predatory Washington politics, epic Federal Reserve arrogance and error, blatant Wall Street fraud and outright Master Class plunder. Below, we outline America’s troubling and compounding predicament, and urge you to think about how to protect yourself from its consequences, both financially and personally.
Thanks to the endless barrage of feel-good propaganda that daily assaults the American mind, best epitomized a few months ago by the “green shoots,” everything’s-coming-up-roses propaganda touted by Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, the citizens have no idea how disastrous the country’s fiscal, monetary and economic problems truly are. Nor do they perceive the rapidly increasing risk of a totalitarian nightmare descending upon the American Republic.
One stark and sobering way to frame the crisis is this: if the United States government were to nationalize (in other words, steal) every penny of private wealth accumulated by America’s citizens since the nation’s founding 235 years ago, the government would remain totally bankrupt.
According to the Federal Reserve’s most recent report on wealth, America’s private net worth was $53.4 trillion as of September, 2009. But at the same time, America’s debt and unfunded liabilities totaled at least $120,000,000,000,000.00 ($120 trillion), or 225% of the citizens’ net worth. Even if the government expropriated every dollar of private wealth in the nation, it would still have a deficit of $66,600,000,000,000.00 ($66.6 trillion), equal to $214,286.00 for every man, woman and child in America and roughly 500% of GDP. If the government does not directly seize the nation’s private wealth, then it will require $389,610 from each and every citizen to balance the country’s books. State, county and municipal debts and deficits are additional, already elephantine in many states (e.g., California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York) and growing at an alarming rate nationwide. In addition to the federal government, dozens of states are already bankrupt and sinking deeper into the morass every day.
The government continues to dig a deeper and deeper fiscal grave in which to bury its citizens. This year, the federal deficit will total at least $1,600,000,000,000.00 ($1.6 trillion), which represents overspending of $4,383,561,600.00 ($4.38 billion) per day. (The deficit during October and November, 2009, the first two months of Fiscal Year 2010, totaled $296,700,000,000.00 ($297 billion), or $4,863,934,000.00 ($4.9 billion) per day, a record.) Using the GAAP accounting method (which is what corporations are required to use because it presents a far more accurate and honest picture of a company’s finances than the cash accounting method primarily and misleadingly used by the U.S. government), the nation’s fiscal year 2009 deficit was roughly $9,000,000,000,000.00 ($9 trillion), or $24,700,000,000.00 ($24.7 billion) per day, as calculated by brilliant and well-respected economist John Williams. (www.shadowstats.com) Fiscal Year 2010’s cash- and GAAP-accounting deficits will likely be worse than 2009’s, given government bailout and new program spending that is on steroids and psychotic.
Putting Fiscal Year 2009’s $9,000,000,000,000.00 ($9 trillion) deficit another way, 17% of America’s private wealth, accumulated over a period of 235 years, was wiped out by just one year’s worth of government deficit spending insanity.
Given this, is it any surprise that Treasury Secretary Geithner has announced that the release of the nation’s FY 2009 supplemental GAAP financial statements has been delayed? Remember, this is the same Secretary Geithner who bullied people to cover up the sordid details of the AIG, or more accurately, the taxpayer-funded, multi-billion dollar, Santa Claus bailout and bonus bonanza for Goldman Sachs. Do you really think this government, characterized as it is by fiscal and monetary secrecy, lies, chicanery, cronyism and stonewalling, wants the people to know what is actually happening? Obviously, it does not, so it hides from the public the inexcusable facts.
Must-read! Don’t miss to take a close look at the members of the the Group of Thirty!
When Henry Paulson publishes his long-awaited memoirs, the one section that will be of most interest to readers, will be the former Goldmanite and Secretary of the Treasury’s recollection of what, in his opinion, was the most unpredictable and dire consequence of letting Lehman fail (letting his former employer become the number one undisputed Fixed Income trading entity in the world was quite predictable… plus we doubt it will be a major topic of discussion in Hank’s book). We would venture to guess that the Reserve money market fund breaking the buck will be at the very top of the list, as the ensuing “run on the electronic bank” was precisely the 21st century equivalent of what happened to banks in physical form, during the early days of the Geat Depression. Had the lack of confidence in the system persisted for a few more hours, the entire financial world would have likely collapsed, as was so vividly recalled by Rep. Paul Kanjorski, once a barrage of electronic cash withdrawal requests depleted this primary spoke of the entire shadow economy. Ironically, money market funds are supposed to be the stalwart of safety and security among the plethora of global investment alternatives: one need only to look at their returns to see what the presumed composition of their investments is. A case in point, Fidelity’s $137 billion Cash Reserves fund has a return of 0.61% YTD, truly nothing to write home about, and a return that would have been easily beaten putting one’s money in Treasury Bonds. This is not surprising, as the primary purpose of money markets is to provide virtually instantaneous access to a portfolio of practically risk-free investment alternatives: a typical investor in a money market seeks minute investment risk, no volatility, and instantaneous liquidity, or redeemability. These are the three pillars upon which the entire $3.3 trillion money market industry is based.
Yet new regulations proposed by the administration, and specifically by the ever-incompetent Securities and Exchange Commission, seek to pull one of these three core pillars from the foundation of the entire money market industry, by changing the primary assumptions of the key Money Market Rule 2a-7. A key proposal in the overhaul of money market regulation suggests that money market fund managers will have the option to “suspend redemptions to allow for the orderly liquidation of fund assets.“ You read that right: this does not refer to the charter of procyclical, leveraged, risk-ridden, transsexual (allegedly) portfolio manager-infested hedge funds like SAC, Citadel, Glenview or even Bridgewater (which in light of ADIA’s latest batch of problems, may well be wishing this was in fact the case), but the heart of heretofore assumed safest and most liquid of investment options: Money Market funds, which account for nearly 40% of all investment company assets. The next time there is a market crash, and you try to withdraw what you thought was “absolutely” safe money, a back office person will get back to you saying, “Sorry – your money is now frozen. Bank runs have become illegal.“ This is precisely the regulation now proposed by the administration. In essence, the entire US capital market is now a hedge fund, where even presumably the safest investment tranche can be locked out from within your control when the ubiquitous “extraordinary circumstances” arise. The second the game of constant offer-lifting ends, and money markets are exposed for the ponzi investment proxies they are, courtesy of their massive holdings of Treasury Bills, Reverse Repos, Commercial Paper, Agency Paper, CD, finance company MTNs and, of course, other money markets, and you decide to take your money out, well – sorry, you are out of luck. It’s the law.
Money market funds were founded nearly 40 years ago. And, as is well known, one of the hallmarks of money market funds is their ability to maintain a stable net asset value – typically at a dollar per share.
In the time they have been around, money market funds have grown enormously – from $180 billion in 1983 (when Rule 2a-7 was first adopted), to $1.4 trillion at the end of 1998, to approximately $3.8 trillion at the end of 2008, just ten years later.The Release in front of us sets forth a number of informative statistics but a few that are of particular interest are the following: today, money market funds account for approximately 39% of all investment company assets; about 80% of all U.S. companies use money market funds in managing their cash balances; and about 20% of the cash balances of all U.S. households are held in money market funds. Clearly, money market funds have become part of the fabric by which families, and companies manage their financial affairs. Continue reading »
Here is what Timmy, Benny and the boys did to sponsor Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Societe Generale and other banksters:
“…the New York Fed, led by President Timothy Geithner, took over negotiations with the banks from AIG, together with the Treasury Department and Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s Federal Reserve.”
“After less than a week of private negotiations with the banks, the New York Fed instructed AIG to pay them par, or 100 cents on the dollar. The content of its deliberations has never been made public.”
WTF have they (Timmy, Benny and the boys) done?
Janet Tavakoli, founder of Chicago-based Tavakoli Structured Finance Inc., a financial consulting firm, says the government squandered billions in the AIG deal.
“There’s no way they should have paid at par,” she says. “AIG was basically bankrupt.”
Far more money was wasted in paying the banks for their swaps, says Donn Vickrey of financial research firm Gradient Analytics Inc. “In cases like this, the outcome is always along the lines of 50, 60 or 70 cents on the dollar,” Vickrey says.
Why have they done it?
One reason par was paid was because some counterparties insisted on being paid in full and the New York Fed did not want to negotiate separate deals, says a person close to the transaction. “Some of those banks needed 100 cents on the dollar or they risked failure,” Vickrey says.
Timothy Geithner, U.S. treasury secretary, testifies at a House Appropriations Committee hearing in Washington, D.C.
Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) — In the months leading up to the September 2008 collapse of giant insurer American International Group Inc., Elias Habayeb and his colleagues worked nights and weekends negotiating with banks that had bought $62 billion of credit-default swaps from AIG, according to a person who has worked with Habayeb.
Habayeb, 37, was chief financial officer for the AIG division that oversaw AIG Financial Products, the unit that had sold the swaps to the banks. One of his goals was to persuade the banks to accept discounts of as much as 40 cents on the dollar, according to people familiar with the matter.
Among AIG’s bank counterparties were New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., Paris-based Societe Generale SA and Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank AG.
By Sept. 16, 2008, AIG, once the world’s largest insurer, was running out of cash, and the U.S. government stepped in with a rescue plan. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the regional Fed office with special responsibility for Wall Street, opened an $85 billion credit line for New York-based AIG. That bought it 77.9 percent of AIG and effective control of the insurer.
The government’s commitment to AIG through credit facilities and investments would eventually add up to $182.3 billion.
Beginning late in the week of Nov. 3, the New York Fed, led by President Timothy Geithner, took over negotiations with the banks from AIG, together with the Treasury Department and Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s Federal Reserve. Geithner’s team circulated a draft term sheet outlining how the New York Fed wanted to deal with the swaps — insurance-like contracts that backed soured collateralized-debt obligations.
CDOs are bundles of debt including subprime mortgages and corporate loans sold to investors by banks.
Part of a sentence in the document was crossed out. It contained a blank space that was intended to show the amount of the haircut the banks would take, according to people who saw the term sheet. After less than a week of private negotiations with the banks, the New York Fed instructed AIG to pay them par, or 100 cents on the dollar. The content of its deliberations has never been made public.
“When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Added: 22. October 2009
Fall Of The Republic documents how an offshore corporate cartel is bankrupting the US economy by design. Leaders are now declaring that world government has arrived and that the dollar will be replaced by a new global currency.
President Obama has brazenly violated Article 1 Section 9 of the US Constitution by seating himself at the head of United Nations’ Security Council, thus becoming the first US president to chair the world body.
A scientific dictatorship is in its final stages of completion, and laws protecting basic human rights are being abolished worldwide; an iron curtain of high-tech tyranny is now descending over the planet.
A worldwide regime controlled by an unelected corporate elite is implementing a planetary carbon tax system that will dominate all human activity and establish a system of neo-feudal slavery.
Is Goldman really such an indispensable financial intermediary? One look at the firm’s revenue breakdown shows that it’s more casino than anything else, and some of the markets it makes still put the economy in danger.
(Click on image to enlarge.)
Goldman, in other words, generates most of its revenue trading its own money and earning vigorish on customer transactions. It’s a hybrid hedge fund and bookie, with an investment bank and asset management business thrown in for good measure.
With that in mind, one is left to wonder whether Goldman was really worth saving last year. What have taxpayers received for the $50 billion worth of cash and guarantees, for giving Goldman access to the Federal Reserve as its lender of last resort?
Saving Goldman was largely about saving the derivatives market, which is so big and unstable that the death of one counterparty could mean the death of all. With big commercial banks like JPMorgan Chase in deep, saving the derivatives business was as much about protecting depositors and maintaining the integrity of the payment system as it was derivatives themselves.
Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) — Some of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s closest aides, none of whom faced Senate confirmation, earned millions of dollars a year working for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other Wall Street firms, according to financial disclosure forms.
The advisers include Gene Sperling, who last year took in $887,727 from Goldman Sachs and $158,000 for speeches mostly to financial companies, including the firm run by accused Ponzi scheme mastermind R. Allen Stanford. Another top aide, Lee Sachs, reported more than $3 million in salary and partnership income from Mariner Investment Group, a New York hedge fund.
As part of Geithner’s kitchen cabinet, Sperling and Sachs wield influence behind the scenes at the Treasury Department, where they help oversee the $700 billion banking rescue and craft executive pay rules and the revamp of financial regulations. Yet they haven’t faced the public scrutiny given to Senate-confirmed appointees, nor are they compelled to testify in Congress to defend or explain the Treasury’s policies.
“These people are incredibly smart, they’re incredibly talented and they bring knowledge,” said Bill Brown, a visiting professor at Duke University School of Law and former managing director at Morgan Stanley. “The risk is they will further exacerbate the problem of our regulators identifying with Wall Street.”
While it isn’t unusual for Treasury officials to come from the financial industry, President Barack Obama has been critical of Wall Street, blaming its high-risk, high-pay culture for helping cause the financial-market meltdown.
Speaking to financial executives last month, Obama said: “We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess that was at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses.”
At the same time, the president has promised to change Washington by keeping lobbyists for special interests at a distance and by making decisions in the open. (See: The US Government: Bought and Paid For)
Sperling and Sachs are each paid $162,900 at the Treasury. Along with four others, they hold the title of counselor to Geithner. Sachs, 46, withdrew earlier this year from consideration to be the Treasury’s top domestic finance official, a job that would have required Senate confirmation.
Geithner’s predecessor, Henry Paulson, brought on a coterie of non-confirmed advisers from Goldman Sachs at the end of his term. Paulson, who had been the firm’s chief executive officer, defended the arrangement as necessary to quickly bring in top talent when the financial system was on the verge of collapse.
If people trust the US government and the Federal Reserve, then they are doomed and they deserve it, because they haven’t done they research.
Why would you trust somebody that has been caught lying and stealing almost all of the time?
Why would you trust somebody that has brought down the value of the US dollar to 5 cents compared to 1913, when the Federal Reserve banksters took over?
Why would you trust somebody that has stolen essentially 95% of your money?
Why would you trust somebody that threatens with an economic meltdown if you would take a look into their books?
Senior Officials Had Financial Concerns About Nine Bank Instiutions Receiving TARP Funds
The chief watchdog for the government’s $700 billion bailout program says federal officials were trying to contain the worst financial crisis in decades last year with the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but they had concerns about the bank institutions’ financial health. (ABC News Photo Illustration)
“Contemporaneous reports and officials’ statements to SIGTARP during this audit indicate that there were concerns about the health of several of the nine institutions at that time and, as detailed in this report, that their overall selection was far more a result of the officials’ belief in their importance to a system that was viewed as being vulnerable to collapse than concerns about their individual health and viability,” Barofsky says.
Last October, the government was in the midst of trying to contain the worst financial crisis in decades. On Sept. 7, 2008, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed under conservatorship. On Sept. 15, the massive investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. The next day, insurance giant AIG needed an $85 billion government loan to avoid collapse.
On Oct. 13, after Congress had passed the $700 billion financial bailout program earlier that month, Treasury provided capital injections for nine institutions that together held over $11 trillion in assets: Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, State Street and the Bank of New York Mellon. As of June 2008, these nine banks accounted for around 75 percent of all assets held by U.S. banks.
In announcing the initial $125 billion provided to these banks, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on Oct. 14 said, “These are healthy institutions, and they have taken this step for the good of the U.S. economy. As these healthy institutions increase their capital base, they will be able to increase their funding to U.S. consumers and businesses.”
That same day, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the FDIC also released a joint statement reiterating that “these healthy institutions are taking these steps to strengthen their own positions and to enhance the overall performance of the US economy.”Continue reading »
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
At the urging of Larry Summers and Goldman Sachs’ CEO Henry Paulson, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bush administration went along with removing restrictions on debt leverage.
The spin that masquerades as news is becoming more delusional. Consumer spending is 70% of the US economy. It is the driving force, and it has been shut down. Except for the super rich, there has been no growth in consumer incomes in the 21st century. Statistician John Williams of shadowstats.com reports that real household income has never recovered its pre-2001 peak.
The US economy has been kept going by substituting growth in consumer debt for growth in consumer income. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan encouraged consumer debt with low interest rates. The low interest rates pushed up home prices, enabling Americans to refinance their homes and spend the equity. Credit cards were maxed out in expectations of rising real estate and equity values to pay the accumulated debt. The binge was halted when the real estate and equity bubbles burst.
As consumers no longer can expand their indebtedness and their incomes are not rising, there is no basis for a growing consumer economy. Indeed, statistics indicate that consumers are paying down debt in their efforts to survive financially. In an economy in which the consumer is the driving force, that is bad news.
The banks, now investment banks thanks to greed-driven deregulation that repealed the learned lessons of the past, were even more reckless than consumers and took speculative leverage to new heights. At the urging of Larry Summers and Goldman Sachs’ CEO Henry Paulson, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bush administration went along with removing restrictions on debt leverage.
When the bubble burst, the extraordinary leverage threatened the financial system with collapse. The US Treasury and the Federal Reserve stepped forward with no one knows how many trillions of dollars to “save the financial system,” which, of course, meant to save the greed-driven financial institutions that had caused the economic crisis that dispossessed ordinary Americans of half of their life savings.
The consumer has been chastened, but not the banks. Refreshed with the TARP $700 billion and the Federal Reserve’s expanded balance sheet, banks are again behaving like hedge funds. Leveraged speculation is producing another bubble with the current stock market rally, which is not a sign of economic recovery but is the final savaging of Americans’ wealth by a few investment banks and their Washington friends. Goldman Sachs, rolling in profits, announced six figure bonuses to employees.
The rest of America is suffering terribly.
The unemployment rate, as reported, is a fiction and has been since the Clinton administration. The unemployment rate does not include jobless Americans who have been unemployed for more than a year and have given up on finding work. The reported 10% unemployment rate is understated by the millions of Americans who are suffering long-term unemployment and are no longer counted as unemployed. As each month passes, unemployed Americans drop off the unemployment role due to nothing except the passing of time.
The inflation rate, especially “core inflation,” is another fiction. “Core inflation” does not include food and energy, two of Americans’ biggest budget items. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) assumes, ever since the Boskin Commission during the Clinton administration, that if prices of items go up consumers substitute cheaper items. This is certainly the case, but this way of measuring inflation means that the CPI is no longer comparable to past years, because the basket of goods in the index is variable.
The Boskin Commission’s CPI, by lowering the measured rate of inflation, raises the real GDP growth rate. The result of the statistical manipulation is an understated inflation rate, thus eroding the real value of Social Security income, and an overstated growth rate. Statistical manipulation cloaks a declining standard of living.
In bygone days of American prosperity, American incomes rose with productivity. It was the real growth in American incomes that propelled the US economy.
In today’s America, the only incomes that rise are in the financial sector that risks the country’s future on excessive leverage and in the corporate world that substitutes foreign for American labor. Under the compensation rules and emphasis on shareholder earnings that hold sway in the US today, corporate executives maximize earnings and their compensation by minimizing the employment of Americans.
The worst part of the decline is yet to come. Bank failures and home foreclosures are yet to peak. The commercial real estate bust is yet to hit. The dollar crisis is building.
When it hits, interest rates will rise dramatically as the US struggles to finance its massive budget and trade deficits while the rest of the world tries to escape a depreciating dollar.
Since the spring of this year, the value of the US dollar has collapsed against every currency except those pegged to it. The Swiss franc has risen 14% against the dollar. Every hard currency from the Canadian dollar to the Euro and UK pound has risen at least 13 % against the US dollar since April 2009. The Japanese yen is not far behind, and the Brazilian real has risen 25% against the almighty US dollar. Even the Russian ruble has risen 13% against the US dollar.
What sort of recovery is it when the safest investment is to bet against the US dollar?
Hank Paulson admitted to threatening Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis when Lewis threatened to pull the plug on the Merrill Lynch merger last fall.
Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson made no bones about it: He did threaten Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis when Lewis threatened to pull the plug on the Merrill Lynch merger last fall.
“I further explained to him that, under such circumstances, the Federal Reserve could exercise its authority to remove management and the board of Bank of America,” Paulson told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday. “By referring to the Federal Reserve’s supervisory powers, I intended to deliver a strong message.”
That admission pretty much blew away the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa of California.
“The inappropriate behavior of government officials did not start or end with the threat to fire Ken Lewis and Bank of America’s board of directors,” Issa said. “It is a threat to the foundations of our free society when government officials, acting in the midst of a crisis, use dire predictions of imminent disaster to justify their encroachment on our individual liberty and the rule of law.”