What's under our thinking?

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce.”

Laid flat, Americans are stunned. It’s a kick to follow the anger and honesty emerging.

Below are poignant remarks collected under various posts at The BigPicture.

It shouldn’t take licensed analysis to remember. For those of us who have been in the biz a while, we’ve seen this before. Let us be adults and put our trust in those who lie. They saved the world before.

“NO NEW TAXES” Really? That’s INTERESTing.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever. – George Orwell

Fellow Americans, the time has come for us to realize that we have nothing to fear except reality!

We are all subprime now!

And just when you thought you were set for retirement.

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief. – Bob Dylan

We’re supposed to fight debt with more debt? Isn’t that insane?

Make one demand: We want the deal Howard Buffett gets!

DEBT? YOU WANT DEBT? YOU CAN’T HANDLE DEBT !!!! – Jack Nicholson

Restore the economy? $700 billion won’t get enough toxic assets for even banks to trust each other.

Money don’t disappear, only change hands.

Go to any trading screen. Watch in real time. When Bush speaks the dollar falls.

Bush Bail Fail

Firms may “look solvent today only because it’s kind of hidden. They actually are insolvent.”

Our Chief Bookkeeper, Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office points out Bush’s bailout could expose the way companies are stowing toxic assets on their books, leading to greater problems.

Washinton Post

“Ironically, the intervention could even trigger additional failures of large institutions, because some institutions may be carrying troubled assets on their books at inflated values.”

“Establishing clearer prices might reveal those institutions to be insolvent.”

Bush Warned In '02

Ron Suskind tells us:

Feb. 22, 2002.

The meeting, recounted to me by Paul O’Neill, Mr. Bush’s first Treasury secretary, and several other participants, was something of a showdown.

The officials were President Bush’s original economic team, including the Securities and Exchange Commission’s chairman, Harvey Pitt; Glenn Hubbard, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; and the senior White House economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey. The Federal Reserve chairman, of course, was Alan Greenspan.

Speaking with a hard-edged frankness rarely heard in public — and seeing that those assembled were not sharing his outrage — Mr. Greenspan slapped the table. “There’s been too much gaming of the system,” he thundered. “Capitalism is not working! There’s been a corrupting of the system of capitalism.”

A presidential speech that followed was toothless…

Chicken with White House Whine Sauce.

Why Fix It Poorly?

The Bush team had been preparing this ‘hurry-up bailout’ for months, telling few if anyone, but please note, these benefits are not aimed at you.

Here’s another suggestion, tried successfully before, notes Ellen Brown, J.D..

It’s The Derivatives Stupid

The Bank for International Settlements recently reported that total derivatives trades exceeded one quadrillion dollars – that’s 1,000 trillion dollars. How is that figure even possible? The gross domestic product of all the countries in the world is only about 60 trillion dollars. The answer is that gamblers can bet as much as they want. They can bet money they don’t have, and that is where the huge increase in risk comes in.

[But, there are other systems of credit!]

The government can issue its own credit – the “full faith and credit of the United States.” That was the model followed by the Pennsylvania colonists in the eighteenth century, and it worked brilliantly well. Before the provincial government came up with this plan, the Pennsylvania economy was languishing. There was little gold to conduct trade, and the British bankers were charging 8% interest to borrow what was available. The government solved the credit problem by issuing and lending its own paper scrip. A publicly-owned bank lent the money to farmers at 5% interest. The money was returned to the government, preventing inflation; and the interest paid the government’s expenses, replacing taxes. During the period the system was in place, the economy flourished, prices remained stable, and the Pennsylvania colonists paid no taxes at all. (For more on this, see E. Brown, “Sustainable Energy Development: How Costs Can Be Cut in Half,” webofdebt.com/articles, November 5, 2007.)

Today’s credit crisis is very similar to that facing Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. In 1932, President Hoover set up the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) as a federally-owned bank that would bail out commercial banks by extending loans to them, much as the privately-owned Federal Reserve is doing today. But like today, Hoover’s ploy failed. The banks did not need more loans; they were already drowning in debt. They needed customers with money to spend and invest. President Roosevelt used Hoover’s new government-owned lending facility to extend loans where they were needed most – for housing, agriculture and industry. Many new federal agencies were set up and funded by the RFC, including the HOLC (Home Owners Loan Corporation) and Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association, which was then a government-owned agency). In the 1940s, the RFC went into overdrive funding the infrastructure necessary for the U.S. to participate in World War II, setting the country up with the infrastructure it needed to become the world’s industrial leader after the war.

The RFC was a government-owned bank that sidestepped the privately-owned Federal Reserve; but unlike the Pennsylvania provincial government, which originated the money it lent, the RFC had to borrow the money first. The RFC was funded by issuing government bonds and relending the proceeds. Then as now, new money entered the money supply chiefly in the form of private bank loans. In a “fractional reserve” banking system, banks are allowed to lend their “reserves” many times over, effectively multiplying the amount of money in circulation. Today a system of public banks might be set up on the model of the RFC to fund productive endeavors – industry, agriculture, housing, energy — but we could go a step further than the RFC and give the new public banks the power to create credit themselves, just as the Pennsylvania government did and as private banks do now. At the rate banks are going into FDIC receivership, the federal government will soon own a string of banks, which it might as well put to productive use. Establishing a new RFC might be an easier move politically than trying to nationalize the Federal Reserve, but that is what should properly, logically be done. If we the taxpayers are putting up the money for the Fed to own the world’s largest insurance company, we should own the Fed.

Proposals for reforming the banking system are not even on the radar screen of Prime Time politics today; but the current system is collapsing at train-wreck speed, and the “change” called for in Washington may soon be taking a direction undreamt of a few years ago. We need to stop funding the culprits who brought us this debacle at our expense. We need a public banking system that makes a cost-effective credit mechanism available for homeowners, manufacturing, renewable energy, and infrastructure; and the first step to making it cost-effective is to strip out the swarms of gamblers, fraudsters and profiteers now gaming the system.

Fear of Change!

Found under comments: “I see bumper stickers that refer to the US flag, saying, ‘These Colors Don’t Run!‘ Bullshit! People in this country live in constant fear of looking at the facts.”

I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the world . . . no longer a government of free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and vote of the majority, but a government by opinion and duress of small groups of dominant men.” Woodrow Wilson, signed the Federal Reserve into law in 1913.

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning. The one aim of these financiers is world control by the creation of inextinguishable debt.” Henry Ford

“The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933

OOPS!

Sarah Preaching in Wasilla

Found in the UK. John Naughton, well-respected academic, author, columnist, optimist, dad, photographer, blogger, company director, says about John McCain and Sarah Palin: And you thought Cheney was scary?

I’m tired of hearing people pay obesience to John McCain because of his, er, heroism.

Whatever principles he once may have had have already been jettisoned in the interests of getting elected.

Besides, a guy who could offer this religious crackpot to his country as a potential president needs to be certified, not elected.

There are two Wasilla Church videos at YouTube here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4LjsfWbZLA&hl=en&fs=1]

Ratings Firms Also Blamed

I think rating agencies, perhaps consumer credit rating firms as well, are significantly responsible for Wall Street’s ability to create shadow bank packages without adequate numbers. I think the rating system of mutual funds is poor as well.

I’ll be watching for an overhaul and recommending it to political representatives. It may not be necessary to stiffen protocol or make better ratings more difficult, but to assure the rating is robust and real.

A very serious clue:

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) — Frank Raiter says his former employer, Standard & Poor’s, placed a “For Sale” sign on its reputation on March 20, 2001. That day, a member of an S&P executive committee ordered him, the company’s top mortgage official, to grade a real estate investment he’d never reviewed.

It’s likely much, much worse. And across the board.

Pre-Made Hurry

  1. White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto has admitted, in fact insisted, that Bush Administration officials have been working on the hurry-up $700 million ‘bailout’ for months.
  2. Jeffrey Rosenberg, Bank of America’s head of credit strategy research, indicates much of the ‘bailout’ favors shadow bankers Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, Paulson’s previous employer.
  3. Federal education budget is about 72 billion.

“We love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight.” – Barack Obama

Float all Boats

Paulson agrees to limit executive pay

Why cap pay? Let execs make billions if they can!

Without restricting executive pay, perhaps a new rule is better. Use a One Hundred Times Rule. No officer may be compensated 100 times more than the lowest paid employee. If the boat won’t float above this waterline, the boss isn’t lifted.

Cold War II

Arrogant neocon leadership elbow a puppet state in an unfriendly aggression to mix a cocktail of contracts for pipelines and oil. John McCain reacts during a lunch stop, telling us we must slap economic sanctions on Russia, move missiles throughout EurAsia and pay for it also marching under the flag of Georgia.

“He will make Cheney look like Gandhi”—Pat Buchanan on John McCain

In the San Jose Mercury News, M. Steven Fish, a professor of political science at the University of California, tells us we are poorly informed. We should not risk our blood on White House mythology.

Myth One: Georgia is a free country. No. Georgia is riddled with fraud. The president is driven for personal power. Predatory police are rampant. The judiciary is corrupt. Myth Two: Georgia is a fair country. No. Georgia is not. Some of Russia’s other post-communist neighbors have become genuine democracies and treated their minorities fairly. Lithuania, Bulgaria and Mongolia are examples. Myth Three: We don’t need workable relations with Russia. Myth Four: We can win a silly bravado against the world.

We are already crippled. What is this $612 billion defense authorization? To secure Democracy, y’think?

Repair Democracy

Are they hiding Annie Armageddon from the press?
Do they fail to examine scandalous associations or plumb outright lies?
Are pundits falsely ‘fair and balanced’ rather than ‘honest and true’?
Will corporations and campaigns control programming?
Does a weak investigative media damage our vote?
Can we help repair our Democracy?

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Robert Scheer, editor of Truthdig.com, has coined a term, pandering to the irrationalities; permitting spin to become fact: Mr.-Clean-of-the-Senate McCain, the heroic-warrior McCain, principled-Senator McCain.

contributed by chulanow

Pondernomics

It’s usually carelessly assumed, for example, that markets and the private sector are the same thing.

Thus companies over the years have gained immense privileges in their relationship with markets: limited liability, legal personality and easy incorporation.

Unchallenged, companies have grown arrogant and self-serving, and the market has become an end rather than a means.

But they are what we have and, for all their flaws, they remain immensely powerful.

They got us into this mess; the ultimate management task is to create incentives for them to get us out again.

The newest political party to appear during the American 2008 election in the aftermath of turmoil on Wall Street, the Penny Party has scorned electoral policy arguments instead proposing that all government and corporate operations be placed under an across the board Social Capital Audit Method.

The first plank of the Penny Party, S.C.A.M. would require a cost-benefit analysis for each private or public entity operating across any local or regional boundary. Each population center would re-issue operating licenses under the Benefit License Incentive Program where any firm or organization found without benefit shall place its origination charter on the table, re-certified as a B.L.I.P., and placed under extended controls.

Power Speeches

The United Kingdom:

“His recognition of the turmoil in the markets, action for families, children and the elderly and his determination to reduce the gap between the rich and poor, all show he is on the side of hardworking families.”

The United States:

“US president devotes most of address to terror threat, criticizing Russia, Iran, Syria and North Korea.”

And the oldest wants a 100 year war to the gates of hell with Annie Armageddon carrying the briefcase.

US Economists Oppose White House

Too revealing not to post.

To the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate:

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers’ expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, Americas dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.

Signed

Acemoglu Daron (Massachussets Institute of Technology)
Adler Michael (Columbia University)
Admati Anat R. (Stanford University)
Alvarez Fernando (University of Chicago)
Andersen Torben (Northwestern University)
Beim David (Columbia University)
Berk Jonathan (Stanford University)
Bisin Alberto (New York University)
Boldrin Michele (Washington University)
Buera Francisco J.(UCLA)
Cassar Gavin (University of Pennsylvania)
Chaney Thomas (University of Chicago)
Chauvin Keith W. (University of Kansas)
Chintagunta Pradeep K. (University of Chicago)
Christiano Lawrence J. (Northwestern University)
Cochrane John (University of Chicago)
Coleman John (Duke University)
Constantinides George M. (University of Chicago)
Crain Robert (UC Berkeley)
De Marzo Peter (Stanford University)
Dubé Jean-Pierre H. (University of Chicago)
Edlin Aaron (UC Berkeley)
Ely Jeffrey (Northwestern University)
Faulhaber Gerald (University of Pennsylvania)
Fox Jeremy T. (University of Chicago)
Fuchs William (University of Chicago)
Gao Paul (Notre Dame University)
Garicano Luis (University of Chicago)
Gerakos Joseph J. (University of Chicago)
Gibbs Michael (University of Chicago)
Goettler Ron (University of Chicago)
Goldin Claudia (Harvard University)
Guadalupe Maria (Columbia University)
Hansen Lars (University of Chicago)
Harris Milton (University of Chicago)
Hart Oliver (Harvard University)
Hazlett Thomas W. (George Mason University)
Heaton John (University of Chicago)
Heckman James (University of Chicago – Nobel Laureate)
Henisz, Witold (University of Pennsylvania)
Hertzberg Andrew (Columbia University)
Hite Gailen (Columbia University)
Hitsch Günter J. (University of Chicago)
Hodrick Robert J. (Columbia University)
Hopenhayn Hugo (UCLA)
Hurst Erik (University of Chicago)
Israel Ronen (London Business School)
Jaffee Dwight M. (UC Berkeley)
Jagannathan Ravi (Northwestern University)
Jenter Dirk (Stanford University)
Jones Charles M. (Columbia Business School)
Kaboski Joseph P. (Ohio State University)
Kaplan Ethan (Stockholm University)
Karolyi, Andrew (Ohio State University)
Kashyap Anil (University of Chicago)
Ketkar Suhas L (Vanderbilt University)
Kiesling Lynne (Northwestern University)
Koch Paul (University of Kansas)
Kocherlakota Narayana (University of Minnesota)
Koijen Ralph S.J. (University of Chicago)
Kondo Jiro (Northwestern University)
Korteweg Arthur (Stanford University)
Kortum Samuel (University of Chicago)
Krueger Dirk (University of Pennsylvania)
Lee Lung-fei (Ohio State University)
Leuz Christian (University of Chicago)
Levine David I.(UC Berkeley)
Levine David K.(Washington University)
Linnainmaa Juhani (University of Chicago)
Manski Charles F. (Northwestern University)
Martin Ian (Stanford University)
Mayer Christopher (Columbia University)
McDonald Robert (Northwestern University)
Meadow Scott F. (University of Chicago)
Mian Atif (University of Chicago)
Middlebrook Art (University of Chicago)
Miguel Edward (UC Berkeley)
Miravete Eugenio J. (University of Texas at Austin)
Miron Jeffrey (Harvard University)
Moro Andrea (Vanderbilt University)
Morse Adair (University of Chicago)
Mortimer Julie Holland (Harvard University)
Nevo Aviv (Northwestern University)
Ohanian Lee (UCLA)
Pagliari Joseph (University of Chicago)
Papanikolaou Dimitris (Northwestern University)
Peltzman Sam (University of Chicago)
Perri Fabrizio (University of Minnesota)
Phelan Christopher (University of Minnesota)
Piazzesi Monika (Stanford University)
Piskorski Tomasz (Columbia University)
Reagan Patricia (Ohio State University)
Reich Michael (UC Berkeley)
Reuben Ernesto (Northwestern University)
Roberts Michael (University of Pennsylvania)
Rogers Michele (Northwestern University)
Ruud Paul (Vassar College)
Safford Sean (University of Chicago)
Sandbu Martin E. (University of Pennsylvania)
Sapienza Paola (Northwestern University)
Scharfstein David (Harvard University)
Shang-Jin Wei (Columbia University)
Shimer Robert (University of Chicago)
Siegel Ron (Northwestern University)
Sorensen Morten (Columbia University)
Spiegel Matthew (Yale University)
Stevenson Betsey (University of Pennsylvania)
Stokey Nancy (University of Chicago)
Strahan Philip (Boston College)
Strebulaev Ilya (Stanford University)
Sufi Amir (University of Chicago)
Thompson Tim (Northwestern University)
Tschoegl Adrian E. (University of Pennsylvania)
Uhlig Harald (University of Chicago)
Ulrich, Maxim (Columbia University)
Van Buskirk Andrew (University of Chicago)
Veronesi Pietro (University of Chicago)
Vissing-Jorgensen Annette (Northwestern University)
Weill Pierre-Olivier (UCLA)
Witte Mark (Northwestern University)
Wolfers Justin (University of Pennsylvania)
Zingales Luigi (University of Chicago)

Real vs Them

Anything happening in your town but selling debt and funding government?

This is a debt crisis, not a credit crisis. Just as FDR had to save capitalism after Wall Street excesses, we have to re-invigorate our economy with real – not imaginary – growth. It does not address the never-ending war on the middle class.

The same corporate interests that profited from the closing of U.S. factories, the movement of millions of jobs out of America, the off-shoring of profits, the out-sourcing of workers, the crushing of pension funds, the knocking down of wages, the cancellation of health care benefits, the sub-prime lending are now rushing to Washington to get money to protect themselves.

The double standard is stunning: their profits are their profits, but their losses are our losses.

This bailout will not bring real jobs back to America. It will not bring back jobs that make things. It does not rebuild our schools, streets, neighborhoods, parks or bridges. The major product of this financial economy is now debt. [Kucinich]