Thursday, October 27, 2011

Leave Bank of America ALOOOOOOOOOONEE!

Let's all take a moment to stop and thank Bank of America for how awesome they are. Jason Linkins:
I'm sure you remember where you were when you heard that Bank Of America announced that after receiving taxpayer bailouts, it was going to institute a $5 monthly fee for the privilege of using your debit card. "Well, that's exactly why I saved Bank Of America in 2008," you probably said, because you are a Good American. "I look forward to my new negative-interest checking account," you probably added.
Well, apparently you Good Americans are in short supply, because according to Bloomberg News this morning, BofA Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan has been inundated by a bunch of Negative Nancies, and the experience has left him feeling "incensed."
Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan said he's "incensed" by public criticism of his company and is pushing back by reminding local leaders of its contributions to their economies. Moynihan, 52, told employees in a global town hall meeting last week from the firm's Charlotte, North Carolina, headquarters that the "place to win the battle" over the bank's battered public image is at the state and municipal level.
"I, like you, get a little incensed when you think about how much good all of you do, whether it's volunteer hours, charitable giving we do, serving clients and customers well," Moynihan said during the Oct. 18 gathering. To the bank's critics, he said, "You ought to think a little about that before you start yelling at us."
Right! Did any of these complainers even "think" before they started "yelling" at Bank of America? Actually, as Bloomberg goes on to report, they may have spent some time contemplating the fact that "Bank of America ranked lowest in a 24-bank survey of small business customer satisfaction from J.D. Power and Associates this month," or that "Bank of America was named the country's second-worst company by after BP Plc, the firm blamed for the worst U.S. offshore oil spill."

Why was Consumerist so hard on Bank Of America? Well, perhaps after doing a little bit of thinking, they realized, "Oh, hey, we've published tons of pieces attesting to Bank Of America's awfulness! Like the time the bank got an address wrong and foreclosed on the wrong home. Or the time they made mortgage payment demands from someone who wasn't their customer. Or the time they threatened a customer with foreclosure if he didn't make a prompt payment of $0.00. I mean, I could go on and on.
As Dan suggested in the comments a few weeks back, let's make a deal. We tell Brian Moynihan and all the other masters of the universe what great people they are praise their contributions to our society, and we get to nationalize BoA and sell it off in smaller pieces to people who aren't corrupt assholes. Deal?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Herman Cain Goes Next Level

I don't want to start prematurely declaring winners for the greatest political ad of the cycle contest, but this might be the strongest entry we've ever had in the "major party, legitimate chance of winning candidate" category. I'm not exactly who the desired audience is for this ad, but I do know that it's spectacular.

For all you Tim and Eric fans out there, check out how Herman Cain's expression does a reverse baseball man at the end of the ad.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Troops Coming Home/ Contractors Cashing In

Bringing home our troops from Iraq is obviously a welcome development, and is the "official" end to the dumbest war in the history of the world.* Spencer Ackerman on the new phase for Iraq:
President Obama announced on Friday that all 41,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq will return home by December 31. “That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end,” he said. Don’t believe him.

Now: it’s a big deal that all U.S. troops are coming home. For much of the year, the military, fearful of Iranian influence, has sought a residual presence in Iraq of several thousand troops. But arduous negotiations with the Iraqi government about keeping a residual force stalled over the Iraqis’ reluctance to provide them with legal immunity.

But the fact is America’s military efforts in Iraq aren’t coming to an end. They are instead entering a new phase. On January 1, 2012, the State Department will command a hired army of about 5,500 security contractors, all to protect the largest U.S. diplomatic presence anywhere overseas.
So our troops will come home, and we're replacing them with contractors (admittely less of them) who are known to act crazier and behave far worse than US soldiers. With no oversight.

Regardless of this fact, it is still nice to see our service members coming home, and a sort of full circle for Obama, who's opposition to this idiotic war kick started his political career and carried him to the presidency.

*I know there were probably dumber wars, but this was really, really dumb.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Austerity-Industrial Complex

Wonder why most politicians in DC have spent the last couple years obsessing over a fake problem? Ari Berman has a great article on the coordinated network that makes this happen:
The event spotlighted a central paradox in American politics over the past two years: how, in the midst of a massive unemployment crisis—when it’s painfully obvious that not enough jobs are being created and the public overwhelmingly wants policy-makers to focus on creating them—did the deficit emerge as the most pressing issue in the country? And why, when the global evidence clearly indicates that austerity measures will raise unemployment and hinder, not accelerate, growth, do advocates of austerity retain such distinction today?

An explanation can be found in the prominence of an influential and aggressive austerity class—an allegedly centrist coalition of politicians, wonks and pundits who are considered indisputably wise custodians of US economic policy. These “very serious people,” as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wryly dubs them, have achieved what University of California, Berkeley, economist Brad DeLong calls “intellectual hegemony over the course of the debate in Washington, from 2009 until today.”

Its members include Wall Street titans like Pete Peterson and Robert Rubin; deficit-hawk groups like the CRFB, the Concord Coalition, the Hamilton Project, the Committee for Economic Development, Third Way and the Bipartisan Policy Center; budget wonks like Peter Orszag, Alice Rivlin, David Walker and Douglas Holtz-Eakin; red state Democrats in Congress like Mark Warner and Kent Conrad, the bipartisan “Gang of Six” and what’s left of the Blue Dog Coalition; influential pundits like Tom Friedman and David Brooks of the New York Times, Niall Ferguson and the Washington Post editorial page; and a parade of blue ribbon commissions, most notably Bowles-Simpson, whose members formed the all-star team of the austerity class.

The austerity class testifies frequently before Congress, is quoted constantly in the media by sympathetic journalists and influences policy-makers and elites at the highest levels of power. They manufacture a center-right consensus by determining the parameters of acceptable debate and policy priorities, deciding who is and is not considered a respectable voice on fiscal matters. The “balanced” solutions they advocate are often wildly out of step with public opinion and reputable economic policy, yet their influence endures, thanks to an abundance of money, the ear of the media, the anti-Keynesian bias of supply-side economics and a political system consistently skewed to favor Wall Street over Main Street.

Taken together, the various strands of the austerity class form a reinforcing web that is difficult to break. Its think tanks and wonks produce a relentless stream of disturbing statistics warning of skyrocketing debt and looming bankruptcy, which in turn is trumpeted by politicians and the press and internalized by the public. Thus forms what Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent calls a Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop, wherein the hypothetical possibility of a US debt crisis somewhere in the future takes precedence over the very real jobs crisis now.
Go read the whole thing, it's really an incredible look at this complex network and how it effects our politics.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Emotional Millionaire Bankers: "Mean Words Hurt Worse Than Actual Regulation"

Banking executives: They have more money than anyone you know will have in their lifetimes, yet have the emotional sensibilities of a 5 year old.
After the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent a recent email urging supporters to sign a petition backing the wave of Occupy Wall Street protests, phones at the party committee started ringing.

Banking executives personally called the offices of DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and DCCC Finance Chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) last week demanding answers, three financial services lobbyists told POLITICO.

“They were livid,” said one Democratic lobbyist with banking clients.

The execs asked the lawmakers: “What are you doing? Do you even understand some of the things that they’ve called for?” said another lobbyist with financial services clients who is a former Democratic Senate aide.
. . .
“Most Wall Street guys, they feel like they’re going to be burned in effigy,” said Anthony Scaramucci, managing partner of SkyBridge Capital, who gave to Obama in 2008 but is now fundraising for Mitt Romney. Some moderate donors, who have given to both parties, “fled from Obama in his support of the Wall Street protests,” he said.
. . .
“You can’t have it both ways,” said one in-house financial services lobbyist. “It just makes it harder for people who are Democrats in New York, Boston, Chicago to on the one hand be demogagued and then be asked ‘Hey, you can get your picture with the president for $30,000.’ It doesn’t square.”
And the rhetoric strikes a nerve.

“In some ways, I think this is worse than [Dodd-Frank] because it is more symbolic,” said a Democratic financial services lobbyist. “People from Wall Street can deal with regulation, they deal with it all the time … I think it’s just the bashing that sort of drives them crazy.”
Apparently being an extremely wealthy elite isn't enough, you also need be praised by other elites for all of the great work that you're not doing. This just makes me think that Occupy Wall Street, SEIU (and others') have it right in their tactics. If the CEO of Bank Of America or Goldman Sachs go about his day for 10 minutes without being reminded that he's an asshole who has cause the suffering of millions, we aren't doing our job.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Republican Debate Thoughts

So while this is far from the first debate, this is the first one I was able to watch in non highlight form, so I figured I'd give a few thoughts.
  • Romney is so far ahead of these guys in "general politician skills" it's not even funny. His exchange with Newt was probably the most devastating 1 on 1 take down I've seen in a debate. Humiliated him. I know, it's Newt, and degree of difficulty and all, but man was that brutal to watch.
  • Having only read about the other debates, I didn't understand how Rick Perry could have dropped 20 points in 3 weeks. Well, that mystery is solved! He makes Bush seem articulate and knowledgeable on the issues.
  • I want a framed picture of the look on everyone's face when Ron Paul brought up Iran/Contra. I'd actually pay to see cameras of each person's face when Ron Paul is speaking, just to capture their facial expressions.
  • Based on the Iran/Contra thing, we need to find a way to do a Republican debate where all the questions are directly related to the things that Reagan actually did, rather than the nonsense claimed about him now. We could kick it off by asking if arming Osama Bin Laden was a good idea. 
  • Cain's response to criticism of his Sim City tax plan was incoherent, and mostly about fruit. Don't know if people cared or not though.
  • Bachman seemed fairly subdued. Santorm's desperate attempts to talk about his hatred of gay people was hilarious. You could tell he just wanted to yell out "listen you morons, All you used to care about was gay people and abortion!!! What happened???"
  • There seems to be a strong anti-romney vote, but there isn't a warm enough body to house it. It really can't be emphasized how terrible all the other cantidates are, just in their political skills alone. Obama better hope that they can coalese around someone and take down Romney, cause I'm really starting to believe if he gets the nomination Obama is toast.
  • One more thing, Anderson Cooper repeating the complete BS right wing lie that only 51% of Americans pay taxes drove me insane. I know it's a Republican debate and no facts were allowed within 30 feet of the stage, but I expect better from Anderson Cooper for some reason.
Did you watch it? What did you think?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Crazy Liberals and Their Crazy Liberal Ideas

You mean austerity doesn't improve economic growth??? Krugman: (via atrios)
Right now, the two most prominent institutions calling for an end to the disastrous turn to short-run austerity are … Goldman Sachs and the International Monetary Fund.

Brad has written about the Goldman memo, which calls for a nominal GDP target — that is, a future dollar value of GDP — that would in effect both promise a significantly higher inflation rate over the medium term and require very large quantitative easing. We need to be careful about this: it’s a proposal from the excellent Jan Hatzius, not official GS policy. But still.

Meanwhile, the IMF special report for the G20 (pdf) is essentially a declaration that the focus on universal austerity was wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s a lot milder than it should be — the Fund is still, for example, endorsing the Cameron austerity plan. But it pretty much flatly says that Congress should pass the Obama jobs bill.
Atrios asks if we can start giving these "the master of the universe jobs" to people who haven't taken 2-3 years to figure this out?


If so, I vote for this guy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

BP Regains Bidding Rights For Gulf Drilling

Remember those guys that did such a great job drilling in the gulf last time?
Let's give em another shot!
The Obama administration has infuriated environmentalists by giving BP the green light to bid for new drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico.

The move – seen as a major step in the company's political rehabilitation as an offshore driller following the Deepwater Horizon accident – was revealed by the head of the US safety regulator after a congressional hearing in Washington.

"They don't have a deeply flawed record offshore," said Michael Bromwich, head of the newly formed Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. "The question is: 'Do you administer the administrative death penalty based on one incident?', and we have concluded that's not appropriate."

Drilling rights are sold off on a regular basis but many believed BP would be ruled out as unsuitable after the gulf well blowout that killed 11 workers and polluted the beaches of southern states. The next sale comes up in December, when more than 8m hectares (20m acres) of offshore rights will come up for grabs.

BP declined to comment, but Friends of the Earth said it was appalled. "Governments should be administering the death penalty to all deepwater drilling rather than waiting for yet more devastating incidents like the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico or in any other part of the world," argued Craig Bennett, director of policy and campaigns at the environmental group.

"It is not just BP operations that are deeply flawed," he added. "There is not a single oil company that can say with a high degree of confidence that it can drill safely and how it will clear up if something goes wrong. It is clear in the context of climate change we need to develop new clean technologies, not hunt for fossil fuels in ever more remote and hard-to-reach areas."
The "they don't have a deeply flawed record" quote is jaw dropping, but the statement from friends of the earth really hits the nail on the head. BP's non-reaction to the gulf spill was essentially the airing of a dirty secret that no one has the slightest clue what to do when something goes wrong with one of these things.

So let's obviously keep doing it, and why not let the same people who fucked it up last time go for it again?  Awesome.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Standing Up For The 1%

One of the more powerful recurring chants/signs/slogans of the Occupy Wall Street movement has been "We are the 99%".

Those on the right have responded typically: Finding a new way to do the bidding for the rich and powerful, and being completely factually wrong in the process. Alex Pareene's description is amazing:
The conservative response to the “We are the 99 percent” movement is … hilarious. (And, sure, heartbreaking.) Conservative filmmaker Mike Wilson and vacuous right-blogger Erick Erickson joined forces to start “We Are the 53%,” a blog made up of contributions from the 53 percent of Americans who pay more in federal income taxes than they receive back in deductions or credits.

The project was kicked off by Erick Erickson, who announced that he works “three jobs,” by which he means being a professional television pundit, radio pundit and Internet pundit. There is a stunning amount of cognitive dissonance, misplaced resentment and class revulsion going on, even for a conservative Web project.

The site can’t even manage to correctly represent that 53 percent, with multiple contributors very clearly belonging to the 47 percent of people who make up the supposed parasite class. There is a blog dedicated to this confused minority. The best example is obviously this dog.

Let’s get this out of the way early: Pretty much every adult American pays taxes. Workers who are too poor to pay federal income taxes still pay payroll taxes, and property taxes if they own their home. Even the unemployed pay sales taxes. The poorest Americans — people who make an average of $12,500 a year — pay, on average, 16 percent of their paltry income in taxes. That is less than every other demographic, but the point of a progressive tax system is that 16 percent of a poor person’s income is a hell of a lot more meaningful to that person than 30 percent of a millionaire’s. It’s a simple concept, and one that most Americans agree with. And that simplicity and popularity is why the conservative movement has spent 100 years attempting to muddy the debate with misinformation. (They are quite dedicated, actually, to class warfare, in that they seek to align the shrinking middle with the elites in a war against the downtrodden.)

So a good number of people who pay no federal income taxes are simply lucky enough to be impoverished. The rest are beneficiaries of tax breaks and loopholes championed most vocally by Republicans. A member of “the 1 percent” (or, more accurately, the tenth-of-1 percent) likely considers these harried taxpayers “the 53 percent of people without the sense to hire a good accountant.”
Multiple lies, wrapped up in self righteousness, blended with a healthy dose of incoherence. We are the 53% couldn't be better designed to capture the mind of the modern day conservative movement.

The 9-9-9 Plan: It's Awesome

You get to the point where you're so out of the loop over here... I finally do some interneting and all I see from everyone everywhere is 9-9-9, Hermain Cain, blah blah blah. Almost everyone seems to agree that it's a stupid plan, but what is it? No one says in the reaction pieces, which is weird because 9-9-9 seems really simple, like it should lend itself to easy explanation.

But nah, everyone is just talking about how stupid it is, so I have to go to Cain's site and figure it out for myself. I'm already kinda resentful because of that, but the first line turns me around:

"The natural state of our economy is prosperity. Freedom ensures that."

Wow, here's a guy who apparently doesn't understand anything about the economy! It's making me glad that I'm about to try and read his tax plan. By the way, 'freedom ensures that' is a great suffix to add to any random statement. Try it at home for fun.

"We can not spend our way to prosperity.
Government spending IS taxation.
Government spending is like taking a bucket of water from the deep end of the pool, pouring it in the shallow end. Then they HOPE that the water level will CHANGE."

Why do I feel like he would get into some Clintonian debate about the definition of "is" and stuff if anyone asked him questions about that? Also who actually wrote these sentences? Is Cain even less of a real contender than he seems?!

You know what, forget about the substance of his plan, if there is any. Check this out:

"The Fair Tax makes our exported goods and services the most competitively internationally than any other tax system."

What is happening in that sentence? How could someone look at that and then put it up on his website as the official description of his stupid tax plan? What is happening in America?! Then you get to his summary on the bottom:

"Ends all payroll taxes
Ends the Death Tax
Features zero tax on capital gains and repatriated profits
Lowest marginal rates on production
Allows immediate expensing of business investments
Eliminates double taxation of dividends"

Oh okay. While we're at it, why not just tax everyone in America a nickel? Also instead of a Death Tax you get a Death Credit, where poor people give rich people some money if someone in their family dies. Also instead of payroll tax we can just hire some people to scrounge around gutters and find loose change- also creating jobs for Americans! Capital gains should be completely untaxed and the number of millions of dollars you've made in this category should enable you to punch an equal number of homeless people in the face. Now things are really fair. I call it the 6-4-3-7-4-7-4-2-6-1-0 plan. Vote for Pizza Man Herman Cain.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pro Murder/Slave Labor/Tax Cheating Bills Pass The House, Will Be Signed By Democratic President

Last night, the free trade deals that we've written about numerous times on this blog passed the house, the last meaningful place where they could have been opposed. They then go to the desk of a Democratic president, who I can only assume will sign the agreement with the blood of murdered Colombian trade unionists, because that's the level of fuck he's given about their lives in pushing these deals.

Obama released a statement about how these job killing deals will create jobs (no really, i believe you this time!) and about how exciting it is that we have enough corporate whores in both parties to make this deal bipartisan. He described the deal as a "major win for American workers, to which David Dayen brilliantly replied:
They’re not a win for Colombian trade unionists, as even the weak Action Plan which has failed to protect them from murder was kept on the side and not written into the trade pact, giving it no authority. They are mainly a win for North Korean sweatshop owners and Panamanian tax haven specialists. And, I should add that the President and his entire party just got done saying that Republicans want only to sabotage the economy, and will not let anything pass that creates jobs. Now they are applauding the passage of job-creating trade agreements. Something doesn’t fit.
It's actually pretty simple: It doesn't fit because he's lying to all of us about the impact of this deal. Does it make more sense now?

There are no mean senators making this happen, there are no government constraints forcing Obama to pass these deals. I don't know if he's passing them because it makes him look like a super awesome bipartisan leader for the election, or whether he thinks rewarding a country for legalizing the murder of unionists is the right thing to do. Or if he thinks the American worker benefits from competition with slave labor. Or if he thinks that tax cheats needed a helping hand. It honestly doesn't matter. Pushing these deals was 100% Obama's call, and it's a truly shameful moment for his presidency.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Train of Thought Lounge: Blackstar

Been insanely busy, normal blogging will resume once Wednesday is finally over.

Blackstar on Colbert last week:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Systematic Fraud Is A Pretty Big Loophole

There are several basic ways to look at the financial/housing crisis. The way you see the crisis is usually imporant, because it puts you on the right track in determining what needs to be done to prevent the next crisis.

Some views: (extremely oversimplified to make a point)

(1) Poor people scammed the banks into giving them bad loans.

(2)You can think that Banking industry took advantage of the deregulation and bank friendly laws to make risky investments.

(3) Knowing that there was no meaningful oversight, the banks committed incalculable amounts of fraud in all of it's forms.

Number 1 is just stupid and completely factually wrong, but it allows conservatives to blame the poor for something, which is no doubt why many of them believe this myth.

Number 2 is right and very important, but is also far from the whole story.

Number 3 is also right, and is something I still don't think most people fully understand about the crisis.

Back to my point earlier, your view of what occured is very imporant in setting the course for how to clean up the mess. Based on Obama's response to the crisis this isn't particularly surpising, but it's very upsetting to hear him say this: (via dday)
Banks are in the business of making money, and they find loopholes,” the President said.

Many of the practices on Wall Street “weren’t necessarily against the law but they had a huge destructive impact,” said the President.
So he's right that businesses find loopholes and exploit them, but he's spectacularly wrong that no one broke the law. It's a convenient thing to say when your Attorney General is doing nothing to prosecute those people, but that doesn't make it true. Yves Smith:
Is breaking IRS rules a “loophole”? How about making repeated false certifications in SEC filings? Or as Dayen points out, fabricating documents? Or making wrongful foreclosures, aka stealing houses?

The Administration’s strategy for maintaining this posture is by being anti-investigation and anti-transparency. As we’ve discussed, the stress tests were a sham. The foreclosure task force didn’t even try to look serious, it was a mere 8 week investigation and of 2800 cases chosen for review (in no scientific manner), only 100 were foreclosures. The US Trustee’s office found a level of servicing errors more than 10 times that asserted by banks and happily parroted by Federal banking regulators. We expect readers could add to this list just as readily as we can.

There are plenty of grounds for legal action. Contrary to the Obama/Geithner position, this is a target rich environment. And some of the violations were persistent and deliberate enough that they might well raise to the level of being criminal. This is a mere illustrative tally:

1. Violation of REMIC (real estate mortgage conduit) rules, which are IRS provisions which allow mortgage backed securities to be treated as pass-through entities. As we’ve indicated, the violations were clear cut and are easily documented. Moreover, when the senior enforcement officer in the IRS was alerted last year, she was keenly interested. But the word that came back was the the question had gone to the White House, and the answer was to nix going after these violations: “We are not going to use tax as a tool of policy.” So this is not a case of creative use of “loopholes,” this is prima facie evidence of an Administration policy of protecting the banks.

2. Consumer fraud under HAMP. Catherine Masto of Nevada has already delineated this case in her second amended complaint against numerous Bank of America entities (in fact, the evidently clueless President could find a raft of other litigation ideas in her filing). All the servicers engaged in similar egregious conduct.

3. Securities fraud by mortgage trustees and serivcers. While the statute of limitations for securities fraud for the sale of toxic mortgage securities in the runup to the crisis has now passed, securitization trustees and servicers are making false certifications in periodic SEC filings. In layperson terms, the trustee certifies that everything is kosher with the trust assets. As readers well know, in many cases the custodians do not have the notes or they were not conveyed to the trust as stipulated in the pooling and servicing agreement (as in they were not properly endorsed through the chain of title).
Now of course, pursuing this sort of litigation would blow up the mortgage industrial complex. But it represents a powerful weapon to bring unrepentant bankers to heel.

4. Widespread risk management failures as Sarbanes-Oxley violations. As we’ve discussed, Sarbox provides a fairly low risk path to criminal prosecutions. And we believe the SEC has been incorrectly deterred by an adverse ruling in the early stages of its case against Angelo Mozilo. In that case, the judge (with no explanation of his ruling) barred the SEC from claiming SEC violations (which this case did) and double dipping by adding a Sarbox charge (securities fraud statutes parallel Sarbox language; indeed, that was one of the complaints re Sarbox, that many of its provisions were already represented in existing law). That’s far more significant than it appears. As we argued in an earlier post, the language in Section 302 (civil violations) tracks the language in Section 906 (criminal violations). A win on a Section 302 case would thus set up what would appear to be a slam dunk criminal case.
There were crimes committed. If you're just trying to rebuild a broken system, you can't whitewash a major part of the problem. Unfortunately the White House seems hell bent on doing just that.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why Don't They Like Us???

I really feel like this exchange with Tim Geithner is incredible. First, he is asked about #occupywallstreet:
"I feel a lot of sympathy for what you might describe as the general sense among Americans as whether we've lost the sense of possibility and whether after a pretty bad lost decade in terms of income growth or fiscal responsibility...followed by a devastating crisis, huge loss of faith in public institutions, people do wonder whether we have the ability to do things that can help the average sense of opportunity in the country," Geithner said at The Atlantic's Ideas Forum, just a few blocks from both the U.S. Capitol and the White House.
You get a sense that he cares, and understands why people are so upset. What part of the current equasion does Tim Geithner not understand?
To the contrary, Geithner expressed dismay at the fact that many Wall Street executives have grown to loathe President Obama over the last two years.

"I think it's inexplicable," Geithner said. "They -- people resent when they need help. It's a natural thing."
They resent the huge amount of public anger they've been subjected to because they caused the crisis -- they sometimes claim, they think it was created by us, which I think is a deeply unfair judgment. And they react to what is pretty modest, common-sense observations about the system as if they're deep affronts to the dignity of their profession. And I don't understand why they're so sensitive. But they're very wounded, and they've seen a huge amount of damage to peoples' confidence in their capacity to not just manage risk and to meet the needs of their customers, but in the broader public consciousness. And they'd like us to heal that for them, and they ask me all the time, Why can't you heal that for us? And I say to them, i think reasonably, that's something you've got to earn back yourself. We can't do that for you.
That rant is fairly incredible. I don't have much of a comment, but I do think it gives you a pretty good view of how Geithner sees the world.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Class War Wednesday

Well, they aren't lying!
The Occupy Wall Street movement spread to Chicago this week, where protesters have gathered outside the Chicago Board of Trade, the world’s oldest options and futures trading center. Like the protesters in New York and other cities around the country, the group gathered to protest our nation’s growing income inequality, as the top 1 percent of Americans continue to see their incomes rise rapidly and their tax rates fall. The Chicago traders, confronted by the protesters’ “We are the 99 percent” message, crafted their own not-so-subtle reply, hanging signs in eighth-floor windows that said, “We are the 1%“:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

Something really interesting started in New York and is taking off around the country. Kari has a good background:
This is a grassroots movement that received a lot of criticism (yeah, I'm looking at you NYT) for being disjointed and not having solidified leadership after all is just a few young people causing trouble (note my sarcasms).  Actually, Occupy Wall Street is a diverse movement composed of the unemployed, students, unions, etc, but we can probably summarize by saying they are the poor/working poor/disenfranchised, and if not directly one from these group understand that "this is not about me" (as noted from a sign I saw in photos: "I have a job. This is not about me. It is bigger".  It all comes down to the same things though, some people with a dangerous idea that must be vilified.  This idea that says corporations have to pay their fair share, that corporations are not people, and that if politicians will do nothing about it then the masses will.  So, I'm wondering why it took so long.  I'm wondering why the unemployed and underemployed didn't take to the streets when we started talking about yet another Free Trade agreement that will rob US citizens of jobs.  I'm confused why no one rushed into the streets after the President declared a third illegal war, when he was the guy who was supposed to bring the troops home.  But finally, the people have gathered, and not in DC, but in the New York financial district, you know where the power is.
Don't really have time for a full post, but check out the rest of Kari's for more. Also Glenn Greenwald has an interesting post about the reaction to the protests, while Matt Stoller has a post that gives you a pretty good sense of the people who started this.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Austerity Doesn't Work, But That's The Point

To the surprise of no one with the slightest clue about economics, the austerity measures put into place by governments around the world are making their economies worse. Dean Baker:
"The government has raised taxes and cut services and is announcing tougher steps every other week. So far it has been to no avail; the economic outlook keeps getting worse, not better."

When the government pulls money out of the economy by laying off workers, cutting government workers' pay, and raising taxes, the expected result is a weakened economy. This is exactly what has happened in Greece. It is difficult to understand what the Post meant in saying "to no avail."
It's incredible that this needs to be pointed out, but austerity was never designed to work. It's a new word for decades old policies designed to destroy government, screw the poor, and enrich the wealthy.

When people are losing their and having their pay cut, they spend less of it, and the economy sucks.

There is no cutting to grow.

It doesn't work.

It never has.


In human history.

This is not rocket science.