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...Greider thinks, "People at large, I don't care whether they're middle class or upper class or working poor or union, non-union, have to find ways to come together themselves, perhaps in very small groups at first, and talk about their own stuff. Their experiences, their ideas their convictions, their aspirations for the country, themselves, their families, and then broaden out a bit, laterally. And have more people in the discussion. They don't have to become a giant organization, but they have to convince themselves that they're citizens..."That's kind of the mystery of democracy. People get power if they believe they're entitled to power."
Too Big to Fail or Too Dumb to Survive
By John Cooper
Unfortunately, the efforts to save weak banks by forcing them to merge with larger ones is worsening the "too big to fail" problem. Government agencies and policies failed to protect and in some cases contributed to the financial crisis. It is not clear that the reforms the Administration is requesting of Congress will be affective in preventing future crises.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged international leaders on Tuesday to discuss the creation of a modern currency system, speaking ahead of a G20 meeting set to focus on a new financial architecture.
"The current system is not ideal," Medvedev said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
"We cannot develop in the next 10 years if we do not create a new infrastructure including new (currency) systems... We should think about creating a new currency system," he said.
Geithner’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’: The Entire Global Financial System is at Risk
When the Solution to the Financial Crisis becomes the Cause
by F. William Engdahl | GlobalResearch.ca
US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has unveiled his long-awaited plan to put the US banking system back in order. In doing so, he has refused to tell the ‘dirty little secret’ of the present financial crisis. By refusing to do so, he is trying to save de facto bankrupt US banks that threaten to bring the entire global system down in a new more devastating phase of wealth destruction.
April 3 March on Wall Street
WE NEED JOBS NOW!
MORATORIUM ON FORECLOSURES!
For march details, assembly points, etc., see: http://bailoutpeople.org/logistics.shtml
Why We Need a Bail Out the People Movement
The workers and poor are in the biggest economic crisis since the Depression of the 1930s.
Corporations are laying off while demanding deep concessions from those still employed. State and local governments are cutting jobs and slashing services. Health, schools, libraries, parks, mass transit—all are on the chopping block. Tuition and transit fares are being raised.
More than half a million jobs are being lost every month. Unemployment is the worst in more than 25 years. As bad as that is, joblessness for African Americans, especially the youth, is twice as high.
Millions of families have already lost their homes because of predatory lending and high unemployment. Millions more face foreclosure or eviction. Depression-style tent cities are growing.
By David Swanson
"Myth America: 10 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class and the Case for Revolution." That's the title of a booklet Cindy Sheehan is selling online. I know we have CNBC to set us straight on such things, but I thought I'd check out Cindy's take. Her full-length books have been terrific, and I've published 1,631 shorter articles by or about her, because Cindy is not just a grieving mother. She's a grieving mother who feels betrayed, is mad as hell, is uncorrupted by money, power, or party, would rather die than censor her statements, and gets straight to the heart of a question faster than anyone else I know.
Cassano, who lives in London, made more than $300 million running the infamous Financial Products Division of AIG where he, with about a dozen others, committed AIG to insure what turned out to be more than a trillion dollars worth of junk quality loans held by banks. "He is the golden boy of the casino," said Rep. Speier. "They basically took peoples' hard earned money and threw it away, gambled it and lost everything. And he must be held accountable for the fraud, for the dereliction of his duty, and for the havoc that he's wrought on America."..."This is the other very important issue underneath the AIG scandal," said Blum. "All of these contracts were moved offshore for the express purpose of getting out from under regulation and tax evasion."..."AIG was insuring junk and it was the AIG insurance that made the junk marketable," said tax law expert Jack Blum. "American taxpayers have been put on the hook for this insurance junk."
The FBI and federal prosecutors are reportedly closing in on the AIG executive whose suspect investments cost the insurance giant hundreds of billions of dollars. The government is investigating whether or not 54-year old Brooklyn-native Joseph Cassano committed criminal fraud in virtually bankrupting the company.
Obama's Latest No Banker Left Behind Scheme
By Stephen Lendman
On Wall Street, that is. So hyped by advance fanfare, Timothy Geithner unveiled his Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) on March 23, the latest in a growing alphabet soup of handouts topping $12.5 trillion and counting - so much in so many forms, in "gov-speak" language, with so many changing and moving parts, it's hard for experts to keep up let alone the public, except to sense something is very wrong. They're being fleeced by a finance Ponzi scheme, sheer flimflam, and here's how from what we know:
- $400 billion in taking over Fannie and Freddie;
- $42 billion for the auto giants; billions more coming for their suppliers;
- approaching $200 billion for AIG with more coming on request;
- $350 billion to Citigroup in handouts and loan guarantees;
- tens of billions to other banks, including $87 billion to JP Morgan Chase for bad Lehman Brothers trades;
By Dave Lindorff
We are witnessing one of the fastest betrayals of the Democratic Party base in modern memory, as President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party leadership in the Senate slither away from a crucial constituency, the labor movement, and from support of labor’s key legislative agenda item: passage of a bill, “The Employee Free Choice Act,” which would restore a measure of fairness to labor relations.
From Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Kucinich: Did U.S. know more than Bank of America shareholders? $3.6 billion in Unusual Bonuses to Top Merrill Lynch Executives Weeks before Federal Cash Infusion
Washington D.C. (March 30, 2009) – In letters to Federal officials involved in the merger of Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, Chairman of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requested documents about their knowledge of $3.62 billion in bonuses Merrill Lynch paid top executives at the company just weeks before $25 billion in Federal aid was given to Bank of America for the merger.
“Credit as a Public Utility: The Solution to the Economic Crisis”
A Video in Six Parts | Written and Produced by Richard C. Cook
Part One of Six Parts: Credit As A Public Utility: The Solution to the Economic Crisis
Early U.S. statesmen, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson worked to free the nation from control by the bankers who had been behind the establishment of the First and Second Banks of the United States. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln implemented a true democratic currency by spending Greenbacks directly into circulation without borrowing from the banks. These measures allowed the U.S. to develop for much of the 19th century largely free from bankers’ control. By the end of the century, this had changed, and the bankers were taking over.
THE WEB OF PRECARIOUSNESS
By Gaither Stewart
Precariousness looms like a black cloud over the continent of Europe. The fragility of human life and of the life style generations of westerners are accustomed to today rages like a modern plague. Precariousness is a contagious disease. It leaps from worker to worker, from class to class. No wonder that life in our times has never seemed more temporary. Permanence belongs to another age.
Twenty-eight years ago, Ronald Reagan used the severe economic downturn of 1980-82 to implement an economic philosophy that not only gave force and meaning to a wide range of initiatives but also offered a way back to sustained economic growth. Is there a similarly powerful animating idea behind Obamanomics?
I believe there is -- and it's not a return to big government.
The expansive and expensive forays of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board into Wall Street notwithstanding, President Barack Obama's 10-year budget (whose projections may prove wildly optimistic if the economy fails to rebound by early next year) presents a remarkably conservative picture. In 10 years, taxes are expected to fall to around 19% of GDP, a lower level than the late 1990s. Spending is expected to drop to around 22.5% of GDP, about where it was under Ronald Reagan -- including nondefense discretionary spending at about 3.6% of GDP, its lowest since data on this were first collected in 1962.
The real distinction between Obamanomics and Reaganomics involves government's role in achieving growth and broad-based prosperity. The animating idea of Reaganomics was that the economy grows best from the top down. Lower taxes on the wealthy prompts them to work harder and invest more. When they do so, everyone benefits. Neither Reagan nor the apostles of supply-side economics explicitly promised that such benefits would "trickle down" to everyone else but this was broadly understood to be the justification.
Global investors ponder implications of US dollar collapse
By Alex Lantier | WSWS
The very fact that Barron's is imagining such a scenario indicates the power of the objective tensions building up inside world capitalism. It is considering a situation in which major US creditors such as China refuse to lend to the US government, forcing Washington to cut spending. The result would be a truly explosive social situation, as the US government told the population it no longer had money to fund social spending, after trillions of dollars had already been handed out to the banks and the super-rich.
The world bourgeoisie is beginning to consider the consequences of the huge deficit spending and money-printing operations that the Obama administration is using to fund its bailouts of Wall Street and major banks. As these policies increasingly raise questions about the value of the US dollar, commentators are in particular pondering the desirability and implications of a diminished international role for the American currency.
At his March 24 press conference, President Obama made his first public comment on recent Chinese proposals for an international currency overseen by the International Monetary Fund. Obama said: "As far as confidence in the US economy or the dollar, I would just point out that the dollar is extraordinarily strong right now. And the reason the dollar is strong right now is because investors consider the United States the strongest economy in the world, with the most stable political system in the world. So you don't have to take my word for it."
On Monday, Lawrence Summers, the head of the National Economic Council, responded to criticisms of the Obama administration’s plan to subsidize private purchases of toxic assets. “I don’t know of any economist,” he declared, “who doesn’t believe that better functioning capital markets in which assets can be traded are a good idea.”
Leave aside for a moment the question of whether a market in which buyers have to be bribed to participate can really be described as “better functioning.” Even so, Mr. Summers needs to get out more. Quite a few economists have reconsidered their favorable opinion of capital markets and asset trading in the light of the current crisis.
BILL MOYERS: Yeah, the corporate state is here.
WILLIAM GREIDER: The corporate state is here. And I'd say, let's not argue over that. The fact is, if the Congress goes down the road I see them going down, they will institutionalize the corporate state in a way that will be severely damaging to any possibility of restoring democracy. And I want people to grab their pitch forks, yes, and be unruly. Get in the streets. Be as noisy and as nonviolently provocative as you can be. And stop the politicians from going down that road. And let me add a lot of politicians need that to be able to stand up. Our President needs that to be able to stand up.
For years best-selling author William Greider sounded the alarm about Washington's unholy alliance with Wall Street and the failure of the Federal Reserve and other regulators to take preventive measures to avoid disaster. Now, he offers some suggestions to the question everyone is asking: "What do we do now?"
Longer version with more detail and advice: HERE.
For Meetings with Congress Members and Senators
During April 4-19, 2009, Recess
Adjust to your communities’ priorities and to fit your representative and senators. Make the case to them of the necessary trade-off in defunding war in order to fund human needs. Make alliances with activist groups wishing to pressure elected officials on domestic funding needs and workers’ rights.
Oppose Escalation of War in Afghanistan and Pakistan
A bipartisan group of fourteen members of Congress recently wrote to the president asking him to reconsider his proposal to send more troops to Afghanistan. Your representative and senators should send similar letters, and should include opposition to missile strikes or the introduction of troops into Pakistan.
Hey DCr's! “Rethinking the Industrial Revolution” - What is Capitalism Anyway, and Where did it Come From?
What is Capitalism Anyway, and Where did it Come From?
Who: A discussion by Mike Zmolek, PhD
When: April 9th, 2009, from 6:30-8:00 pm
Where: In the Cullen Room at the NEW 5th & K location of Busboys & Poets, 1025 5th Street NW, Washington DC 20001
As the global capitalist system plunges into its worst crisis since the Great Depression, take some time out to hear this primer on how capitalism got going in the first place. Drawing on a body of recent scholarship which seeks to trace the specific historical path by which capitalism developed out of the middle ages, D.C. resident Mike Zmolek will discuss the findings of his recently completed doctoral dissertation—15 years in the making—titled “Rethinking the Industrial Revolution.” The conclusions may surprise you, and capitalism’s early crises might seem only too familiar.
Please RSVP to Mike.
By Dave Lindorff
George Santayana once famously said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But what about those who don’t just ignore history, but who hire and take counsel from those who committed historic follies in the past?
Back in November 1999, Congress passed legislation pushed by then Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX), rescinding the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act. The measure, backed by the Clinton administration, and overwhelmingly passed by the Senate (90-8) and the House (362-57), opened the way for banks to merge with investment banks and insurance companies, and led directly to the current financial cataclysm.
Here's someone willing to look for fundamental solutions to the larger problem: GO HERE.
By Senator Bernie Sanders
The “Masters of the Universe” on Wall Street – through their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior – have plunged this country into a deep recession causing millions of Americans to lose their jobs, their homes, their savings and their hope for the future. In order to fully understand the cause of this fiasco, I have introduced legislation calling for a thorough investigation of the financial meltdown and the prosecution of those CEOs who broke the law. The culture of greed, fraud and excessive speculation must come to an end.
In the midst of this financial disaster, one of the great frustrations that I hear from my constituents is that while taxpayers are spending hundreds of billions bailing out major financial institutions, and while these big banks are getting near-zero interest rate loans from the Fed, these very same financial institutions are now charging Americans 20 percent or 30 percent interest rates on their credit cards. In fact, one-third of all credit card holders in this country are now paying interest rates above 20 percent and as high as 41 percent – more than double what they paid in interest in 1990. Recently, some major institutions such as Bank of America have informed responsible cardholders that their interest rates would be doubled to as high as 28 percent, without explaining why the increase was taking place.
By David Swanson
Obama's Thursday "town hall" featuring questions submitted online produced some interesting comments from our president. In response to a question from college students he explained that making student loans directly from the government, without passing them through banks and giving profits to banks from public money, makes more sense. But he claimed that giving far more money than we've ever loaned to students to banks in hopes that they will loan it to businesses is the only way to save our economy.
President Obama's claim for the need to give or loan so much money to very wealthy people is that they will loan it to small businesses. So, why not just give it or loan it to small businesses? And how many are trying to borrow money without success? Aren't more struggling to pay the debts they've got?
How Does This Solution Sound?
NATIONALIZE: Experts agree on the means -- Insolvent banks that are too big to fail must incur a temporary FDIC intervention - no more blank check taxpayer handouts. (see Krugman on nationalization)
REORGANIZE: Current CEOs and board members must be removed and bonuses wiped out. The financial elite must share in the cost of what they have caused. (see Simon Johnson on reorganizing)
DECENTRALIZE: Banks must be broken up and sold back to the private market with new antitrust rules in place-- new banks, managed by new people. Any bank that's "too big to fail" means that it's too big for a free market to function. (see Mike Lux on decentralization)
By David Swanson
Obama's "town hall" featuring questions submitted online produced some interesting comments from our president. In response to a question from college students he explained that making student loans directly, without passing them through banks and giving profits to banks from public money, makes more sense. But he claimed that giving far more money than we've ever loaned to students to banks to loan to businesses is the only way to save our economy.
I missed the beginning and came in as Obama was saying our economy could out-compete anybody else's. I'd be happy if it just outperformed itself and stopped treating the rest of the world as competition. I started taking notes:
by: Chris Bowers
|There are a few headlines trying desperately to portray some sense of major conflict between House Democrats and the Obama administration on the budget. The attempted narrative is to portray Democrats as conservatives reacting against excess spending from the Obama administration. For example, here is how the Washington Post describes it in their headline:
House Democrats Slash More Than $100B From Obama's Plan
However, this is a really flimsy, concern troll narrative. Once you read further, all indications are that the House blueprint has actually increased non-bailout public spending, yet still reduced deficit projections and the possibility for conflict over, President Obama's budget. In the extended entry, I explain how
|Chris Bowers :: House Democrats Improve Obama's Budget|
|Three notable aspects of the House budget blueprint:
READ THE REST AT OPEN LEFT.
AIG is chump change -- let's find corporate America's hidden billions
It's time to reform offshore banking, and see what untaxed wealth big business is hiding in overseas tax shelters.
By Joe Conason | Salon
The popular urge to claw back the bogus bonuses paid by American International Group is irresistible and fully justified, but should the Treasury someday retrieve every single bonus dollar, that total of $165 million will make no difference to anyone except a few disgruntled traders. From the jaded perspective of the financiers, the uproar over the AIG bonuses may provide a welcome distraction from far more important (and lucrative) abuses in the world's offshore tax havens.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal again found himself carrying the Republican mantle opposite a primetime appearance from President Barack Obama on Tuesday, saying Republicans must be ready to defy the president when they disagree with his policies. He also joked about his widely panned response to Obama's address to Congress last month.
"We are now in the position of being the loyal opposition," Jindal said at a Republican congressional fundraising dinner that only by coincidence fell on the same night as Obama's news conference. "The right question to ask is not if we want the president to fail or succeed, but whether we want America to succeed."
By Cindy Sheehan
No we are not, that's the point.
Tonight, President Obama basically said that we can't demonize every investor who earns a profit, because "we are all in this together." Sorry, but I am going to have to call a big fat "bull-shit" on this one.
When Obama said "we" did he have a mouse in his pocket? Obama, and his family have a very opulent, slave-built roof over their heads. He travels on the public nickel, his children attend an exclusive Washington, DC private school that has organic food on its menu, and has health care that covers everyone in his family from head to toe and side to side and inside out.
Even though he and every member of the administration, Congress and the Supreme Court are not hurting for anything, the bastard (sorry if your parents weren't married when you were conceived) Wall Street banksters are receiving billions of dollars of government welfare and are not so good about being in "this together" with us.
I reported back in February on the case of Gary Gensler, the former Goldman Sachs employee and derivatives cheerleader who President Obama nominated to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Gensler’s nomination sailed through the Senate Agricultural Committee but Senator Bernie Sanders has placed a hold on the nomination (as has a second senator who is as yet unnamed). A statement from Sanders’s office said: