Elaine Meinel Supkis
Everyone is now trying analyze the latest futile debt spending spree of the desperate US as we try to restore the deadly status quo that can't be saved. The nice thing about bankruptcy is, it clears impossible debts and allows a restart. But it pays to pay back everyone, somehow. There is a method of going broke but still repaying that we don't want to try because this means killing the present totally unbalanced global trade and of course, stopping the US imperial projects dead in their tracks. The world is using us and we are the fools who let this happen. So time to discuss this latest futile bail-out from the perspective of History rather than Wishery [our wishes for reality].
Among the last sticking points was an unexpected and bitter fight over how to pay for any losses that taxpayers may experience after distressed debt has been purchased and resold.
Democrats had pushed for a fee on securities transactions, essentially a tax on financial firms, saying it was fitting that they contribute to the cost.
In the end, lawmakers and the administration opted to leave the decision to the next president, who must present a proposal to Congress to pay for any losses.
Officials said they had also agreed to include a proposal by House Republicans that gives the Treasury secretary an additional option of issuing government insurance for troubled financial instruments as a way of reducing the amount of taxpayer money spent up front on the rescue effort.
The Treasury would be required to create the insurance program, officials said, but not necessarily to use it. Mr. Paulson had expressed little interest in that plan, and initial cost projections suggested it would be enormously expensive. But final details were not immediately available.
I wish I was in on those negotiations. The GOP didn't withdraw support due to being against pouring billions into Wall Street. They were against it because the Democrats didn't want to add even more tax cuts to Paulson's Ring of Power proposal. I saw this plain as day at the hearings. All of the GOP Congressmen came into the chambers and about ten of them testified. Each one wanted capital gains tax cuts. Then all but 5 of them left the chambers when Paulson and Beranke went it. I wrote in my notes, 'The GOP wants ONLY the tax cut, they don't care about the rest. It is a game.'
This game is clear: they want to pass off to the Democrats, the dirty job of supporting super-rich bankers or all those poor, little people will die out there in Americaland. The US public is very much against bailing out the super rich. The anger about all this will be directed towards the Democrats now even though the Democrats shot down the biggest Xmas gift ever for the rich, that 0% capital gains tax deal.
This blatant gift giving to the wealthy was totally ignored by the media. This is why I am very, very grateful so many readers gave me the money to not only go down to DC but to have a fine camera which I could use to record reality through my own lens. This is why, when we are forced to look at the world through the media filter, we get a dim picture. I saw many reporters there and they were utterly bored during the first half of the hearings because it was Congressmen arguing with each other. They just wanted an official tidbit from the Sphinx and his jinxed sidekick, Gollum.
There is no rescue plan, by the way, that will save and uphold equity values set during the previous bubble. There are ONLY two choices: the goddess of Inflation gets to eat everything or the goddess of Depression dines. There is no third option! That is it.
We dearly love the concept of having 'choices'. Well, during the primaries, we were given the choice of voting for either Ron Paul or Kucinich. Both were fine with me. But the US public was shoved relentlessly away from those good choices and towards no choices. Even if McCain and Obama did have other ideas about stuff, in the end, they had to toe the AIPAC line [toeing a line is the proper term, this means lining up so the toes touch a line in the sand...it is not about towing something like a trailer!] as well as please the biggest donors who of course, are the very rich.
Let's look back exactly one year ago:
Japan's export economy surges ever higher while the depression inside Fortress Japan gets even worse. The UAW have surrendered to the new reality that our children will increasingly be driven downwards as wages and benefits for them are dropped while preserving the goodies of the Baby Boomer workers. FOREX markets surge 71% in less than 3 years as the world's greatest speculative bubble grows ever faster. And interest rate manipulations by the world's biggest central banks are making this worse and worse. This is directly connected to the sudden ballooning of the FOREX reserves held by foreign powers over the last 10 years. Overseas, many writers are speculating that Saudi Arabia is now betting against the US in these markets. This bubble will burst due to the US declaring bankruptcy due to the collapse of the dollar.
When I wrote this, the previous 6 weeks of frantic rescues of the investment/equity systems of the G7 nations had succeeded wildly. Stock markets across the planet hit record highs. Everyone was high-fiving each other and jumping for glee. I was furious and said that the sudden shooting upwards of all stock markets was not due to economic health but rather, a flood of funny money from all the flying magical piggy banks which fed so much into the system that was totally engorged with debt.
It wasn't just that there was more wealth floating around, this was more DEBT. And everyone was screaming about how we needed more 'money' and more 'liquidity' which is fancy talk for 'more debt'. The world was being crushed by debts and to fix this, the central banks poured even more debts on top of this mess. This was so the US and UK could import record amounts of goodies for Xmas celebrations and so the world could consume more oil, faster. No new wealth was created. The indebted nations were given more debts. The thinking back then was, if the interest rates for these debts were to drop, it wouldn't matter!
So rates for the US and UK began to plunge. This couldn't happen in Japan since they perfected the 0% interest rate business long ago and are still sticking to it. The news about raging inflation is no secret in Japan. It seems, the US and UK media ignores this horrible news because secretly, we need and want 0% Japanese lending to continue forever, too.
Already, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve are busily drawing up plans to tighten the rules on the level of assets banks must hold to secure their loans; and to ensure that financial regulators from different countries keep in closer contact. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for a global summit in November to rebuild the whole world financial and monetary system from scratch, saying: 'The idea that markets are always right was a mad idea.'
Even if the Paulson plan is clinched without further delay, there is no hope of an imminent recovery either in the US or the UK. The pain for ordinary homeowners on Main Street USA is already being felt, and in Britain unemployment is rising quickly, and consumers are tightening their belts. Rosebys, the home furnishing chain, became the latest casualty in the retail sector on Friday, when it collapsed into administration, leaving its 2,000 staff uncertain about their future.
'Folks, it's not just finance,' Citigroup economist Steven Wieting warned the world. 'The recession bus left the station earlier this year.'
A fairly realistic appraisal from an English reporter for the Guardian. Always, governments tighten rules at the wrong time. When a bubble begins, they should tighten rules. Instead, they always, always, always feed bubbles. Greenspan claimed that the Fed should take the punch bowl away when the party gets going. Except he poured vodka into the bowl and then threw a flaming torch into it.
We went into a mild recession after the foolish Dot Com bubble broke. This would have cleared out a lot of junk. Instead, we decided to turn our entire economy into junk. For on the eve of the housing bubble, before Greenspan dropped interest rates to 1%, for the first time in 30 years, the government was in the green, not in the red! WOW.
This was greeted by the Supreme Court and the media as a great disaster. Mr. Tax Cutter Supreme was installed in the White House via judicial coup. He instantly began to cut taxes and the second, much more fatal bubble began to form as the Fed and the President conspired to create a gargantuan mountain of debt. I have pointed out in the past, when the interest rate is below the rate of inflation, absolutely everyone wants to get this money so everyone and everything runs in the red and goes deep into debt. This Santa Claus goodies situation is irresistible. This continues until the value of everything sopping up this free borrowing is so overvalued, no one can afford to buy them even at 0% interest.
This is all so sad. The bill passed by Congress and the GOP President is a last-ditch attempt at supporting unsupportable equity values. The hope is, this will cause raging inflation and the price/value reset that is going on will stop and we will have the power to force higher wages so both line up again. Woe to everyone, if the wage part fails! If wages don't go up, this will certainly increase the misery of the public. And since the US has killed labor unions, the chances of this working is around 0%. Wages will lag. Commodity prices will soar just like they did last year when billions were suddenly poured into the systems. And nothing will be fixed at all except we will all be in even more misery.
The proof of this is very simple: last Fall, the Congress and government began working on a bill that would 'Put money into people's pockets, fast,' in order to 'restart' the economy. It took several months to engineer this Xmas gift. I got my check the same week world energy prices hit their peak and food inflation was raging.
Afterwards, I figured out how much more I spent on food and fuel this last year compared to the year before and it came out to over $600. So my net gain was $0. This was true of all Americans. This inflationary rescue scheme merely fed inflation. Some foolish Americans spent this on goodies but this simply made their situation worse when inflation really took off after everyone got their checks in the mail.
Mathematicians in California could be in line for a $100,000 prize (£54,000) for finding a new prime number which has 13 million digits.
Thousands of people around the world linked the powers of their personal computers in the search for a higher "Mersenne" prime number - named after 17th-Century French mathematician Marin Mersenne.
Mersenne primes are expressed as two to the power of P, minus one - with P being itself a prime number.
Edson Smith, the leader of the winning UCLA team, told the Associated Press news agency: "We're delighted. Now we're looking for the next one, despite the odds."
This neat news story clearly shows us how magical numbers are. The goddess of Inflation is laughing. She is capable of running a paper fiat currency far beyond 13 million digits. Using the hyper-magical concept of 'zero'. Buried within this infinity of zeros added to the number one are unique numbers like the one these professors calculated via their computer banks. The goddess of Inflation has infinite computers that run all the time. She can outrun us when she wishes. Her son, Derivatives Beast sailed from $1 billion 30 years ago to a quadzillion dollars, most of it in the last four years. And it would have grown to infinity except the bankers ceased feeding this creature three weeks ago.
This is the cause of the present stage of the panic, by the way. The $700 billion is NOT so we feed Main Street as the corrupt politicians are bellowing. Nor even Wall Street.
THIS MONEY IS FOR SAVING THE FEDERAL RESERVE ITSELF. This is why Bernanke is now hiding under his bed. By the way, the Watchers from the Outer Darkness that are the pets of the goddesses in the Cave of Death and Wealth live under beds. This is why children are scared of what comes out of bed at night. Since I was hit by a lightning bolt while in bed when I was a child, I couldn't ignore them by hiding under a blanket. They were there and I was stuck with them, there.
By Robert J. Shiller
So the current crisis got me thinking back to 1990, the year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, when I worked with two Soviet economists, Maxim Boycko and Vladimir Korobov, to try to understand the different belief systems in their country and mine. We carried out identical surveys in Moscow and New York, comparing answers about fundamental notions of capitalism, and published our results in the American Economic Review. We expected to find that the Muscovites possessed scant understanding of how capitalism really works. But we found that they actually understood free-market dynamics better than the New Yorkers. We concluded that the Muscovites had proved more savvy precisely because their system was in crisis -- something that encouraged them to rethink their most fundamental notions.
Mr. Schiller can't understand communism because he would lose his job if he did. I have interacted not only with the Chinese communists very, very heavily but also with Russian communists. My dad's CIA work attracted both Chinese and Russians to our family because spies spy on spies. I learned very swiftly, they all understand capitalism! This is very simple: they have to study Marx! DUH.
On top of that, since they lived in a command police state, the ONLY way one can get things is to practice RAW capitalism! So they knew how to finagle things, how to plan ahead, how to NOT trust money but how to MAKE money appear the same way bankers do it in the West: how to lend to each other and how to enforce debts [make great pain!] and so forth. They live in a world of survival of the fittest. The West is corrupt and survives on 'Can I bribe someone to help me cheat the system?'
The more Russia and China apes our capitalism, the less capitalist the mind set of the people becomes.
2. To limit risks to the system, build better derivatives. Some of today's derivatives -- the complex bundles of toxic real estate loans that helped drag Lehman Brothers down -- turned out to be "financial weapons of mass destruction," as the legendary investor Warren E. Buffett warned back in 2003. The problem isn't derivatives per se but a certain kind -- derivatives that spun a massive web of over-the-counter contracts, relying on the solvency of countless banks and other institutions, and ultimately endangered the entire financial system when they fell apart.
HAHAHA. He wants to shrink the Derivatives Beast down? HAHAHA. Alas, the very concept of derivatives is a door directly in to the chambers of the goddess of Inflation within the Cave of Wealth and Death. Everyone would dearly love to keep this going. The problem always is, when using this window, they see the piles of infinite wealth that surrounds Her. Her bed is built of gold and the mattress is stuffed with paper currency. She heats her chambers with burning counterfeit money or money from dead countries that no longer exist or whose governments fell.
But the desire to play with derivatives that can go up to infinity, fast, is irresistible. We are talking about gnomes here! They find the goddess of Inflation to be the sexiest female, like, totally. They open the derivatives window to reach in and grab some wealth and end up crawling inside Her chambers to have sex.
House Democrats say the idea of letting judges rewrite mortgages to help bankrupt homeowners avoid foreclosure won't be a part of the $700 billion financial industry bailout. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told Democrats at a closed-door meeting Friday evening the provision would be a deal-breaker for Republicans who she has said must deliver substantial votes for the rescue plan. That's according to several lawmakers who attended the session.
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama had said earlier that the measure didn't belong in the bailout.
The GOP and DNC will now fence in public over who is the creepiest of them all. We get to choose between corrupt Republicans and corrupt Democrats. I would wish to ask the non-corrupt members of Congress to start a new, bipartisan party, the 'No Bribery Party.' I would happily support it. But the media needs the revenues of TV and paper ads to make wealth. They would crush any anti-bribery people. This is the main reason the media refused to put Ron Paul and Kucinich on the air or interview them, etc, during the primaries.
Bailing out underwater homeowners who played risky games by sucking up too much debt is tricky. Obama is right: we can't bail them out via this bill. When the courts are given the right to rewrite contracts, this undermines our entire legal system. Just as the Supreme Court undermined our elections when they said there as no reason to count votes since we have no right to vote for President, if we let judges simply redo all contracts, this sets massive precedence for doing this ALL the time!
Everyone will sign contracts and then sue! Our courts will collapse under the tsunami of contract re-writes done by judges who have little idea of what is really going on! People have to learn how to not sign stupid contracts. Laws can be passed forbidding certain types of contracts. But since most of Congress has been bribed by bankers, there are few protections left. This is why we had the housing bubble! The contracts that people signed should have been made illegal BEFORE this.
Undoing this is Congress's job and they, not the courts, must do this by forbidding gnomes from cheating, defrauding and defaming their customers! This takes me to the most important part of this story: corruption in Congress and the Presidency.
Sixty-six years later, in 1999, the financial services industry succeeded in essentially shattering Glass-Steagall, after putting a number of cracks in the law over the intervening years.
(As with the 1933 act, those in the know often use the names of the Financial Services Modernization Act's chief sponsors when referring to it: Gramm-Leach-Bliley. Former Texas senator Phil Gramm is now vice chairman of Wall Street firm UBS and advised John McCain's presidential campaign. Jim Leach, a Republican congressman from Iowa, is retired from Congress and supports Barack Obama for president. Tom Bliley, a Republican congressman from Virginia who chaired the House commerce committee, is now a Washington lobbyist, representing clients including the Commercial Mortgage Securities Association.)
The congressional vote on Gramm-Leach-Bliley in November 1999 was not close. The bill passed handily with bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and Senate, 450-64 between the two chambers. President Bill Clinton supported the legislation and readily signed it. There were some strong arguments for the bill, chiefly that American banks were too constrained to compete with German and Japanese banks. There was also criticism that the legislation was pushed through too quickly and that it didn't modernize the marketplace's regulatory system. Pressing most aggressively for Gramm-Leach-Bliley was Citigroup, which had merged its bank with Travelers insurance company, and needed a change in federal law to keep the giant corporation together.
The finance, insurance and real estate sector contributed more than $86 million to members of Congress between 1997 and the key vote on Gramm-Leach-Bliley in November 1999. As the graph below shows, on average, those lawmakers voting "yea" received about $180,000 in campaign contributions from individuals and PACs in the financial sector during that period. Those who voted "nay" received about $90,000 each, or half of what supporters got.
The very few GOP votes against this bill which is the one that opened the doors wide to the Goddess of Inflation's chambers and which is at the bottom of the present banking collapse: the GOP votes against were people who ditched their sponsors. They were either punished by the bribers or the bribers knew these guys faced serious opposition and thus, needed cover. They knew the bill would pass so they pretended to be clean and voting their conscience. If the vote was too close, they would have voted 'yea.'
Now, today we have the Democrats in charge. So let's look at where these people raise money:
And now for clean Americans who don't take any bank bribes:
The mood was said to be "optimistic" entering the evening talks, according to a Senate aide familiar with the talks, after policymakers -- including Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson -- made progress during an afternoon negotiating session. Staff predicted a long night of negotiations, however, an observation backed up by the delivery of food from sandwich shop Cosi to Ms. Pelosi's office just before 8 p.m. EDT.
Congressional negotiators have been consulting with outside experts including billionaire investor Warren Buffett amid a focus on market reaction to the plan.
"We've had Warren Buffett on the phone tonight, other experts that we've been consulting," Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) told reporters as he walked through the U.S. Capitol. He declined to identify other people with whom lawmakers have consulted.
GAH! No one called ME. And it isn't because I am a nobody, either. No, they called the richest people in America for advice! In between smooching with the Goddess of Inflation, these gnomes give orders. HAHAHA. Buffett will instruct them how to do things! Heaven forbid, they talk to Kucinich or Ron Paul or you and me.
The U.S. economy is in the grip of the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression. Even highly credit-worthy businesses are paying unprecedented premiums for borrowing. A large fraction of businesses are shut out of the credit market altogether. Past experience with financial crises shows that overall economic activity contracts soon after the crisis unless swift corrective action alleviates the crisis. Unemployment rises, employment falls, the nation’s production of goods and services declines, and consumers’ purchasing power diminishes. At worst, as in the Depression, the economy collapses.
Economists often disagree about the causes of financial crises, including the present one, though many believe that declining housing prices and mortgage practices that amplify the effects of those price declines are central factors today. But there is near-universal agreement that the federal government must take aggressive steps to protect workers and businesses from the harmful effects of a financial crisis. The great majority of those deserving this protection had no role in causing the crisis.
We are deeply concerned about instituting reforms for the longer run that will prevent similar crises in the future. We applaud the increases in capital requirements for the institutions that have elected to become subject to the Federal Reserve’s capital requirements.
Arrest this criminal. Gads. What a mooch. He not only refuses to take responsibility for creating this housing bubble, he focuses only on the end effects and NOT the cause. And yes, economic professors dispute causes. But he is supposed to not only be a genius but he was the TOOL, the guy who ran things! So he better know the damn cause of all this and since I know he shaves more often than Bernanke, he has a mirror.
The City was in shock last night after the apparent suicide of a millionaire financier haunted by the pressures of dealing with the credit crunch.
Kirk Stephenson, who was married with an eight-year-old son, died in the path of a 100mph express train at Taplow railway station, Berkshire.
Mr Stephenson is believed to have taken his own life after succumbing to mounting personal pressures as the world’s financial markets went into meltdown.
At Olivant Advisers he was paid £333,000 last year, but is thought to have made millions more from the core Olivant business, based in Guernsey.
I got that story last night as well as some of the readers here who sent me or linked this story in the comments section. Yes, the suicides are beginning. Recently, in England, a multimillionaire who was ruined shot his children, his wife and his horses before burning down his mansion and shooting himself in a Götterdämmerung moment.
At least my own ancestor, in the crash of the 1890's only shot himself and his wife and not my grandmother.
The business of this latest economic suicide was in Guernsey. He was a stupid pirate. He was a hell hound. He gets zero sympathy from me. His wealth was due to hiding from taxes and cheating his neighbors.