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Sun Feb 3, 2013, 07:28 PM

STOCK MARKET WATCH -- Monday, 4 February 2013

STOCK MARKET WATCH, Monday, 4 February 2013


SMW for 1 February 2013

AT THE CLOSING BELL ON 1 February 2013

Dow Jones 14,009.79 +149.21 (1.08%)
S&P 500 1,513.17 +15.06 (1.01%)
Nasdaq 3,179.10 +36.97 (1.18%)


10 Year 2.02% +0.05 (2.54%)
30 Year 3.22% +0.06 (1.90%)









Market Conditions During Trading Hours






Euro, Yen, Loonie, Silver and Gold
















Handy Links - Essential Reading:

Matt Taibi: Secret and Lies of the Bailout





Handy Links - Government Issues:

LegitGov
Open Government
Earmark Database
USA spending.gov





Partial List of Financial Sector Officials Convicted since 1/20/09
2/2/12 David Higgs and Salmaan Siddiqui, Credit Suisse, plead guilty to conspiracy involving valuation of MBS
3/6/12 Allen Stanford, former Caribbean billionaire and general schmuck, convicted on 13 of 14 counts in $2.2B Ponzi scheme, faces 20+ years in prison
6/4/12 Matthew Kluger, lawyer, sentenced to 12 years in prison, along with co-conspirator stock trader Garrett Bauer (9 years) and co-conspirator Kenneth Robinson (not yet sentenced) for 17 year insider trading scheme.
6/14/12 Allen Stanford sentenced to 110 years without parole.
6/15/12 Rajat Gupta, former Goldman Sachs director, found guilty of insider trading. Could face a decade in prison when sentenced later this year.
6/22/12 Timothy S. Durham, 49, former CEO of Fair Financial Company, convicted of one count conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud, 10 counts of wire fraud, and one count of securities fraud.
6/22/12 James F. Cochran, 56, former chairman of the board of Fair, convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud, one count of securities fraud, and six counts of wire fraud.
6/22/12 Rick D. Snow, 48, former CFO of Fair, convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud, one count of securities fraud, and three counts of wire fraud.
7/13/12 Russell Wassendorf Sr., CEO of collapsed brokerage firm Peregrine Financial Group Inc. arrested and charged with lying to regulators after admitting to authorities he embezzled "millions of dollars" and forged bank statements for "nearly twenty years."
8/22/12 Doug Whitman, Whitman Capital LLC hedge fund founder, convicted of insider trading following a trial in which he spent more than two days on the stand telling jurors he was innocent
10/26/12 UPDATE: Former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta sentenced to two years in federal prison. He will, of course, appeal. . .
11/20/12 Hedge fund manager Matthew Martoma charged with insider trading at SAC Capital Advisors, and prosecutors are looking at Martoma's boss, Steven Cohen, for possible involvement.










This thread contains opinions and observations. Individuals may post their experiences, inferences and opinions on this thread. However, it should not be construed as advice. It is unethical (and probably illegal) for financial recommendations to be given here.



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Reply STOCK MARKET WATCH -- Monday, 4 February 2013 (Original post)
Tansy_Gold Feb 2013 OP
tclambert Feb 2013 #1
Tansy_Gold Feb 2013 #2
Fuddnik Feb 2013 #3
Warpy Feb 2013 #4
Fuddnik Feb 2013 #5
Demeter Feb 2013 #7
AnneD Feb 2013 #29
Fuddnik Feb 2013 #6
Demeter Feb 2013 #8
DemReadingDU Feb 2013 #23
Hotler Feb 2013 #33
Demeter Feb 2013 #9
Demeter Feb 2013 #10
Demeter Feb 2013 #11
Demeter Feb 2013 #12
Demeter Feb 2013 #13
Demeter Feb 2013 #14
xchrom Feb 2013 #15
xchrom Feb 2013 #16
Demeter Feb 2013 #34
xchrom Feb 2013 #17
xchrom Feb 2013 #18
Roland99 Feb 2013 #19
xchrom Feb 2013 #20
xchrom Feb 2013 #21
Demeter Feb 2013 #35
xchrom Feb 2013 #22
xchrom Feb 2013 #24
xchrom Feb 2013 #25
xchrom Feb 2013 #26
xchrom Feb 2013 #27
Hotler Feb 2013 #32
Demeter Feb 2013 #36
xchrom Feb 2013 #28
xchrom Feb 2013 #30
Roland99 Feb 2013 #31
Demeter Feb 2013 #37
Demeter Feb 2013 #38
Demeter Feb 2013 #40
elleng Feb 2013 #39
Demeter Feb 2013 #41
Demeter Feb 2013 #42
Demeter Feb 2013 #43
jtuck004 Feb 2013 #44
Demeter Feb 2013 #45
Demeter Feb 2013 #46
Demeter Feb 2013 #47
Fuddnik Feb 2013 #48
DemReadingDU Feb 2013 #49

Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 07:35 PM

1. Hey, I'm a mean old white guy. Should I be a Republican?

Sometimes I pretend to care about others. Still sounds Republican. Ah, but I don't worship billionaires. Maybe that's where I failed.

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Response to tclambert (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 08:06 PM

2. You might be old

You might be white.

But I don't think you're mean enough to the right people to be a republican.

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Response to tclambert (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 08:06 PM

3. I'm an old, white guy too.

But, I'm none of the above.

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Response to tclambert (Reply #1)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 08:46 PM

4. The mean ones had one thing in common, it seems,

and that is that they were drafted into a peacetime military between Korea and Vietnam. They bought the whole 1953-1966 military party line of misogyny, homophobia, knee jerk anti communism/socialism, American exceptionalism, and every other thing they hold dear.

Some of them questioned the bullshit and some of them escaped the draft but they were in the minority in that cohort.

And yes, those guys who never got sent to a war zone and who never had a reason to question the bullshit that got shoveled at them are starting to die off.

That's not all of it by any stretch. Some of them are also bitter that they got old and the world doesn't need them or want them any more.

In any case, there's a hell of a lot of free floating rage out there at a rapidly changing world, rage that is easily redirected by right wing propagandists. It's that rage that turned them mean enough to be Republicans.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #4)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 09:59 PM

5. I think you might have something there.

I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I go to the gym, and these angry, old white guys, about 10 years older than me sit around parroting their Faux Nooz talking points, and talk about Obama's socialism. Peacetime vets, who spent their post service time hanging out in American Legion halls, snitching and spying for J. Edgars boys.

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Response to tclambert (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:09 AM

7. The Rage is From the Loss of Power

The White Man reigned supreme over everyone...now he can't even dominate the wife and kids, assuming any of them are even talking to him anymore.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #7)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:11 AM

29. I gave all my power to the GOP....

and all I have to show for it is an empty chair.





I am so easily entertained.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Sun Feb 3, 2013, 10:19 PM

6. Don't ever put this shit in your car.

Dispute over E15 fuel heats up.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/dispute-over-e15-fuel-heats-up-020113.html

-------------------------------------------
Read some of the comments from mechanics.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:11 AM

8. Not to alarm anyone

I'm going to be trying to survive a really bad week, so I may not be around much.

Any moral support would be greatly appreciated.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:27 AM

23. We're here for you


Good luck, hope things turn out better than you think.


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Response to Demeter (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:49 AM

33. ...

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:24 AM

9. My Valuable, Cheap College Degree

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/opinion/my-valuable-cheap-college-degree.html?_r=1&

MUCH is being written about the preposterously high cost of college. The median inflation-adjusted household income fell by 7 percent between 2006 and 2011, while the average real tuition at public four-year colleges increased over that period by over 18 percent. Meanwhile, the average tuition for just one year at a four-year private university in 2011 was almost $33,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. College tuition has increased at twice the rate of health care costs over the past 25 years. Ballooning student loan debt, an impending college bubble, and a return on the bachelor’s degree that is flat or falling: all these things scream out for entrepreneurial solutions.

One idea gaining currency is the $10,000 college degree — the so-called 10K-B.A. — which apparently was inspired by a challenge to educators from Bill Gates, and has recently led to efforts to make it a reality by governors in Texas, Florida and Wisconsin, as well as by a state assemblyman in California. Most 10K-B.A. proposals rethink the costliest part of higher education — the traditional classroom teaching. Predictably, this means a reliance on online and distance-learning alternatives. And just as predictably, this has stimulated antibodies to unconventional modes of learning. Some critics see it as an invitation to charlatans and diploma mills. Even supporters often suggest that this is just an idea to give poor people marginally better life opportunities.

As Darryl Tippens, the provost of Pepperdine University, recently put it, “No PowerPoint presentation or elegant online lecture can make up for the surprise, the frisson, the spontaneous give-and-take of a spirited, open-ended dialogue with another person.” And what happens when you excise those frissons? In the words of the president of one university faculty association, “You’re going to be awarding degrees that are worthless to people.”


I disagree. I possess a 10K-B.A., which I got way back in 1994. And it was the most important intellectual and career move I ever made. After high school, I spent an unedifying year in college. The year culminated in money problems, considerably less than a year of credits, and a joint decision with the school that I should pursue my happiness elsewhere. Next came what my parents affectionately called my “gap decade,” during which time I made my living as a musician. By my late 20s I was ready to return to school. But I was living in Spain, had a thin bank account, and no desire to start my family with a mountain of student loans. Fortunately, there was a solution — an institution called Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, N.J. This is a virtual college with no residence requirements. It banks credits acquired through inexpensive correspondence courses from any accredited college or university in America. I took classes by mail from the University of Washington, the University of Wyoming, and other schools with the lowest-priced correspondence courses I could find. My degree required the same number of credits and type of classes that any student at a traditional university would take. I took the same exams (proctored at local libraries and graded by graduate students) as in-person students. But I never met a teacher, never sat in a classroom, and to this day have never laid eyes on my beloved alma mater.

And the whole degree, including the third-hand books and a sticker for the car, cost me about $10,000 in today’s dollars.

Now living back in the United States, I followed the 10K-B.A. with a 5K-M.A. at a local university while working full time, and then endured the standard penury of being a full-time doctoral fellow in a residential Ph.D. program. The final tally for a guy in his 30s supporting a family: three degrees, zero debt. Did I earn a worthless degree? Hardly. My undergraduate years may have been bereft of frissons, but I wound up with a career as a tenured professor at Syracuse University, a traditional university. I am now the president of a Washington research organization. Not surprisingly, my college experience has occasionally been the target of ridicule. It is true that I am no Harvard Man. But I can say with full confidence that my 10K-B.A. is what made higher education possible for me, and it changed the course of my life. More people should have this opportunity, in a society that is suffering from falling economic and social mobility. The 10K-B.A. is exactly the kind of innovation we would expect in an industry that is showing every indication of a bubble that is about to burst, as Thomas K. Lindsay of the Texas Public Policy Foundation shows in a new report titled, “Anatomy of a Revolution? The Rise of the $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree.” When tuition skyrockets and returns on education stagnate, we can expect a flight to value, especially by people who can least afford to ride the bubble, and who have no choice but to make a cost-effective college investment. In the end, however, the case for the 10K-B.A. is primarily moral, not financial. The entrepreneurs who see a way for millions to go to college affordably are the ones who understand the American dream. That dream is the opportunity to build a life through earned success. That starts with education.

*****************************************************************

Arthur C. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute and a former professor at Syracuse University.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #9)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:29 AM

10. How I Avoided College Debt With a Low-Impact Life By Bill Bilverstone

http://www.alternet.org/environment/how-i-avoided-college-debt-low-impact-life?page=0%2C1&akid=10007.227380.8I5D-1&rd=1&src=newsletter788178&t=17&paging=off

My low-impact life did not grow out of my concern for the environment, or anything the least bit altruistic. It sprang from my desire to get an education without falling into debt. Just back from caretaking an isolated Canadian fishing camp, I faced the challenge of finding an inexpensive place to rent in Bozeman, Mont., where the housing market had gone berserk. An old friend invited me to stay in his junkyard while I looked around. Joe operated a towing and vehicle-repair business seven miles west of town, and an aged blue-and-white camper squatted among the wrecks behind his shop. It was stale and gritty from lack of use, but staying in it beat camping on someone’s couch. Besides, the neighbors were earthy and unflappable. A pair of cows grazed between the junks, and a lonely old buckskin named Dusty gobbled carrots from my hand...A run of good news (my ancient community college credits would transfer, the state of Montana offered a tuition break for Vietnam vets) was tempered by the looming certainty that inexpensive rentals had gone the way of the triceratops. It was 1994, and Bozeman had begun showing up in magazines touting lists of “Best Places to Live.” I wasn’t going to find another inexpensive bunkhouse nestled in a canyon or $65-a-month cabin within sight of Bridger Bowl. Pushing 50, I couldn’t get excited about another winter in a teepee. Truth be told, I’d only lasted through November the first time, and that was back in the ‘70s.

One glum evening as I trudged over to Bozeman Hot Springs for a shower and a soak, I noticed a row of pint-sized cabins hired out to tourists. Next morning, I found Joe changing the oil in a battered green Civic and suggested I build a cabin in the junkyard. Build it on skids and rent the ground until I graduated and hauled it away. Joe said he’d think about it. Two days later I caught up with him as he pulled a handful of wrenches from a hulking red and chrome Snap-On toolbox.

“How about,” he said, “if I buy the materials and I own the cabin? You do the building and keep track of your wages, and once you move in, your wages go toward rent. After you burn that up, you pay me.

“How much?”

“$175 a month, including utilities.”


Joe is three inches taller than me and 40 pounds heavier, but I may have crushed the burly ex-Marine’s hand in my eagerness to close the deal. Fact is, after 20 years of living on the fringe, I could tell some pretty good tales, but they didn’t feature terms like Dow Jones, equity or interest. In other words: My caretaking wages were all the money I had in the world. Purchasing materials would have meant putting off school an extra year or taking out student loans, something I was loath to do. I may not have been a corporate raider, but I hadn’t owed a cent in 15 years...I began construction in June, dividing my days between the cabin and -- since I was saving my nest egg for books and tuition -- a landscaping job. I built a 12-foot-by-20-foot one-room frame structure with a gable roof and wired it for electricity. I built the bed a little high for the sake of storage room underneath it, the kitchen counter long enough to support a dorm-size fridge, and installed a pair of stoves: A propane stove for cooking and a woodstove for heat. I scrounged the propane stove, sink and fridge from the junkyard and rounded out my dorm-gothic furnishings with yard sale and second-hand store treasures. And I did build the cabin on skids. Great 8–inch-by-8-inch treated timbers bolted together, with angle irons cut and drilled in the shop. If Joe needed to haul the cabin around, he could hook up to the ring bolts socked into the timber’s east and west ends.

Gray November had clamped down and a storm was looming like a sooty fist by the time we got my electrical service and sketchy waterline planted. I say sketchy waterline because the West Gallatin River was a quarter-mile down the road and the 80-yard excavation from the shop to the cabin must have crossed the old riverbed. What with the bowling-ball-sized boulders, the sandy, constantly caving earth and the ancient backhoe groaning like a ruptured septuagenarian, we’d started too late to trench below the frost. At least until summer, the electrician’s shallow ditch would have to do. Which meant I’d be hauling the occasional bucket of water from the shop during the coldest months. Which wasn’t even a bump on my freeway. The cheapest rental I’d found cost more than three times what Joe was asking. It did not include utilities, although it did include a deposit, an oppressive rental agreement and the lingering tang of cat pee and boiled potatoes. Besides, living in the camper and building the cabin had given me plenty of time to look around. The hulking and admittedly homely shop sheltered me from the road, while a nearly unbroken vista of hayfields, cottonwoods and grasslands flowed away to the north, east and west of Joe’s land. Whitetail and cottontails were legion, skunk and raccoon were well represented, and bald eagles patrolled the blue-ribbon trout stream just down the road. As to the wrecks in my yard, they were a good deal more expressive than the wagons, wagon wheels and flowery mounds that adorned Bozeman lawns.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:36 AM

11. Great Lakes Map Shows Greatest Ecosystem Stress in Lakes Erie and Ontario

http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2012/world/great-lakes-map-shows-greatest-stress-in-lakes-erie-and-ontario/

Researchers hope the map is used to plan restoration projects that provide the greatest human benefits.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #11)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:43 AM

12. Developer pitches $1B commonwealth for Belle Isle

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130112/BIZ/301120319

http://cmsimg.detnews.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=C3&Date=20130112&Category=BIZ&ArtNo=301120319&Ref=AR&MaxW=640&Border=0&Developer-pitches-1B-commonwealth-Belle-Isle



... supporters including Mackinac Center for Public Policy senior economist David Littmann, retired Chrysler President Hal Sperlich and Clark Durant, co-founder of Detroit's Cornerstone Schools, will present the Commonwealth of Belle Isle plan to a select group of movers and shakers at the tony Detroit Athletic Club. Among the confirmed reservations of about 50 people who will hear the pitch are Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, and Beth Chappell, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Club, organizers say. It's not clear if they know what's in store.
"We are among the people looking for answers to the city's problem," said Rodney Lockwood, a Bingham Farms developer who is the driving force behind the idea.
The former chairman of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and current board member of the free-market-oriented Mackinac Center for Public Policy has written a self-published book about the plan called "Belle Isle: Detroit's Game Changer." A website called commonwealthofbelleisle.com debuts on Jan. 22. Lockwood readily admits the idea has no political traction. "You have to put ideas out there — especially now, when so much is up for debate," Lockwood said.

The idea won't go anywhere, said George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., the quasi-public agency that promotes development for the city. "Belle Isle will get fixed," Jackson said, referring to an agreement to turn the island into a state-run park. "It won't be that plan. But it will be fixed." Last fall, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder forged an agreement for the state to operate and manage Belle Isle. But the City Council refused to vote on the proposed lease amid outcries that a city jewel was being sacrificed. Council members repeatedly voiced concerns about leasing the park to the Department of Natural Resources for 30 years, citing the lease's lack of funding specifics. They also want jobs and contracts to go to Detroiters. Under the agreement, the state would fund renovations and operations of Belle Isle rather than pay rent. Bing and the state have said the plan would save the city $6 million annually, and 36 employees who currently maintain Belle Isle would be deployed to other city parks. The state wants the City Council to consider the issue again this year.

A recent Detroit News poll of 800 Detroiters found that 51 percent strongly support the state plan and 15.5 percent somewhat support it. Lockwood hopes to tap into the zeitgeist that Detroit must embrace major change to thrive again. Earlier this week, a vision for reviving the city was unveiled called Detroit Future City. It was the product of two years and millions of dollars of consulting fees paid by the city and state, hundreds of hours of volunteers and months of community meetings. It envisions a smaller city where the swaths of empty and blighted land become urban/green neighborhoods full of trees, ponds and urban farms. Detroit has 40 square miles of vacant land, according to city officials. That's close to the total land area of San Francisco.
"Even with all that vacant land, the wide open spaces of Belle Isle are unique. To decommission Belle Isle would be a great loss of a public purpose area," said John Mogk, a Wayne State University law professor who follows urban planning issues.


Here's the scenario for the Commonwealth of Belle Isle that Lockwood and others want to see: Private investors buy the island from a near-bankrupt Detroit for $1 billion. It then would secede from Michigan to become a semi-independent commonwealth like Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. Under the plan, it would become an economic and social laboratory where government is limited in scope and taxation is far different than the current U.S. system. There is no personal or corporate income tax. Much of the tax base would be provided by a different property tax — one based on the value of the land and not the value of the property. It would take $300,000 to become a "Belle Islander," though 20 percent of citizenships would be open for striving immigrants, starving artists and up-and-coming entrepreneurs who don't meet the financial requirement. Among the citizenship requirements are a command of the English language, a good credit rating and no criminal record. Mogk adds that such a scenario would make the island "a drain of talent and resources" at the expense of Detroit.



AFTER ALL, BOB-LO WAS TURNED INTO CONDOMINIUMS...SO WAS BURROUGHS FARMS....THAT'S WHAT THE 1% IS ALL ABOUT: PRIVATIZING THE COMMONS

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Response to Demeter (Reply #12)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:49 AM

13. The Handmaiden of Capitalism v. the ‘Swamp’ Denizen of Detroit William K. Black

Greetings from Davos! I’m actually writing this over the mid-Atlantic as I return from being a keynote speaker at the annual “Public Eye” “shame prize” awarded to Goldman Sachs for its abuses. The shame prize award was made in Davos during the World Economic Forum as a counter-WEF event. Shell also “won” a shame prize, but I spoke on Goldman Sachs, the role of epidemics of accounting control fraud, and the WEF’s anti-regulatory and pro-executive compensation policies. I explained that the anti-regulatory policies were intended to fuel the destructive regulatory “race to the bottom” and why the executive and professional compensation policies maximized the incentives to defraud. I also explained that WEF was a fraud denier. Collectively, these three WEF policies contributed to creating the intensely criminogenic environments that produce the epidemics of accounting control fraud driving our worst financial crises. Detailed written developments of these arguments can be found on our UMKC economics blog: New Economic Perspectives.

The self-described “Handmaiden to Capitalism’s” reaction to my critique of her work

Heidi Moore is the finance editor for The Guardian. She has also worked for the Wall Street Journal and Marketplace. Two of my columns have discussed the economic myths that Moore embraces to champion austerity. My first column cited her pro-austerity columns as an example of one of the central problems we face globally. Many prominent individuals who consider themselves progressives embrace austerity. Indeed, many socialists in Spain and Greece designed and inflicted austerity – producing Great Depression-level unemployment in both Nations. Much of the German left’s leadership supports austerity. The Guardian considers itself a progressive newspaper, but its financial editor is an austerian whose non-ironic, self-selected tag is “Handmaiden to Capitalism.” (Derivative of Forbes’ self-description: “Capitalist Tool.”) I entitled the column: “Deprogramming Progressives Indoctrinated into Supporting Austerity.”

My column quoted extensively from Moore’s arguments in favor of austerity and explained why her arguments, e.g., that a Nation with a sovereign currency is just like a household in terms of budgets and that cuts in U.S. federal spending were an essential response to the Great Recession were examples of harmful economic myths. I didn’t believe that I could convince Moore to give up her passionate embrace of austerity. She has continued to push for austerity as she watched it devastate the Eurozone, so I knew I had no chance of changing her views any time soon. My second column focused on a January 4, 2013 Moore column on the so-called “fiscal cliff”, austerity, and the platinum coin. I entitled it: “The Most Embarrassing Financial Column of 2013.”

My second column was seven typed pages and, like the first column (“Deprogramming Progressives”) it quotes extensively Moore’s arguments so that the reader can evaluate their context. I then make detailed critiques, often clause by clause, of the errors of economics, logic, and fact that I believe she made in her January 4 column. Substantive criticism is a treasure, but it is a painful treasure that Moore is (understandably) not masochistic enough to treasure.

Here are Moore’s responses to my columns:


Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/01/bill-black-the-handmaiden-of-capitalism-v-the-swamp-denizen-of-detroit-william-k-black.html#YyXKWg9xi3iIZ0R6.99

NO WONDER I LIKE HIM! BILL COMES FROM DETROIT, TOO!

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Response to Demeter (Reply #12)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:55 AM

14. Bing says 50 parks to close due to collapse of Belle Isle deal

http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130202/METRO01/302020345/1409/metro/Bing-says-50-parks-close-due-collapse-Belle-Isle-deal

Mayor Dave Bing announced Friday 50 city parks will close this spring and maintenance will be scaled back at others after the City Council failed to approve an agreement with the state to lease Belle Isle.

The dramatic cuts to Detroit's park offerings will leave just 57 open in the city of 700,000 that once maintained 308 parks.

"We looked a gift horse in the mouth. We had a deal that was workable, that was doable, that would not have closed parks; why we didn't act on that, I don't know," Bing said at a press conference in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.



From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130202/METRO01/302020345#ixzz2Jvl5kbuV

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:56 AM

15. i'm receiving messages from Beyond...or is it Beyonce

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:59 AM

16. Munich conference breaks Iran-US ice

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/OB05Ak02.html

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts - Iran and the United States are on the verge of a historical opportunity to repair their frozen relations and thus reverse the spiral of conflict spiral that for years has dominated their interactions. It is the right thing to do and at the right time, given the fact that more often than not past opportunities were lost simply because one side or the other was not "ready".

Fortunately, today's situation is different and that is a cause for cautious optimism in light of positive statements from US and Iranian officials, particularly by US Vice-President Joseph Biden who, while attending the 49th Munich Security Conference, announced US's readiness to engage in serious dialogue with Iran, a move that was immediately reciprocated by Iran's Foreign


Minister Ali Akba Salehi, who termed Biden's remark as a welcome "step forward."

"We have no red line for bilateral negotiations when it comes to negotiating over a particular subject ...", Salehi said in Munich. "If the subject is the nuclear file, yes, we are ready for negotiations but we have to make sure ... that the other side this time comes with authentic intention, with a fair and real intention to resolve the issue."

At the same time, reacting to Biden's remark that the window for diplomacy is not open forever and that all options are still on the table, Salehi rightly branded as "contradictory" the US's intention to talk "but on the other side you use this threatening rhetoric that everything is on the table... these are not compatible with each other.We are ready for engagement only when it is on equal footing."

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Response to xchrom (Reply #16)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:16 AM

34. What? Has US Policy evolved beyond "All your oil belongs to US?"

Didn't think so.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:01 AM

17. Osborne backs break-up of banks that fail to reform

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21315562

The UK's big banks will be broken up if they fail to follow new rules to ring-fence risky investment operations from High Street outlets, Chancellor George Osborne has announced.

He has said taxpayers are angry at banks' behaviour and will never again be expected to bail them out.

His speech comes on the same day the government introduces its Banking Reform Bill in Parliament.

Customers will also be able to switch bank accounts to a rival within a week.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:03 AM

18. Eurozone manufacturing 'on course' for return to growth

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-21291411

The contraction of manufacturing across the eurozone slowed in January amid signs that the worst may be over, according to a survey.

The Markit Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 47.9, from 46.1 in December.

The index has been below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction since August 2011.

But Markit's chief economist Chris Williamson said the January data pointed to the eurozone returning to growth in mid-2013.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:03 AM

19. US Futures - giving up the great 14k

S&P 500 -0.3%
DOW -0.3%
NASDAQ -0.3%


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:05 AM

20. BP tried to manipulate gas market, alleges trader

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/feb/01/bp-gas-rigging-allegation

BP faces new embarrassment in America with a court case brought by one of its former traders, who claims the company was trying to manipulate the natural gas liquids market. Drew Sickinger, who joined BP's Houston office in 2009, says the company "created a pretext" for disciplining him late last year and then unfairly dismissing him.

Filed this week in a Texan court, a lawsuit for breach of contract includes allegations that BP was trying to rig the markets "by establishing a dominant and controlling position". The court papers do not explain the basis for the rigging claims, which were immediately denied by BP. But the case is highly unwelcome for an oil company fined $300m in 2007 after trading irregularities in the propane gas market and which is still facing legal action over the Deepwater Horizon rig blowout of 2010.

BP said it never publicly discussed personnel issues or employment issues but denied it had been engaged in any illegal trading.

"Previous court settlements are a matter of record, but any additional public allegations of market misbehaviour arising from this specific legal proceeding are untrue and without merit," said a spokesman at its London headquarters. "BP is not engaging, and will not engage, in any price or market manipulation. Our ongoing trading strategies are lawful and compliant," he added.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:09 AM

21. PROPOSED AGREEMENT SQUASHES US, MEXICO TOMATO WAR

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_US_MEXICO_TOMATOES?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-02-03-15-20-15

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A proposed agreement on fresh tomatoes imported from Mexico would strengthen anti-dumping enforcement and reset minimum wholesale prices, the Commerce Department said.

The agreement with Mexico's tomato industry would suspend an investigation initiated after Florida tomato growers complained that Mexican producers were selling fresh tomatoes for less than the production cost.

The proposal would replace a pact that's been in place for 16 years. The Commerce Department on Saturday released a draft of the agreement for public comment.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it would allow the U.S. tomato industry "to compete on a level playing field."

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Response to xchrom (Reply #21)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:20 AM

35. US Industries Don't Compete on a Level Playing Field

It wouldn't be Quidditch...er, I meant 1%er Elite Capitalism.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:11 AM

22. OIL FALLS TO BELOW $97 AFTER WEEKS OF STRONG GAINS

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/O/OIL_PRICES?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-02-04-08-08-00

Oil prices fell below $97 a barrel Monday amid some optimism over possible direct negotiations between the United States and Iran on nuclear issues and as traders booked some recent profits.

By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark oil for March delivery was down $1.03 to $96.74 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 28 cents to finish at $97.77 a barrel on the Nymex on Friday.

Oil prices have been partly supported of late by tensions in the Middle East which have fueled concerns about the safety of oil supplies flowing from the region. And sanctions against Iran have hampered the Islamic Republic's ability to sell its oil.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden indicated a possible change in approach. On Saturday, while on a visit in Germany, Biden said Washington was ready for direct talks with Iran over its nuclear program, which Teheran insists is only for peaceful purposes. The Iranian foreign minister on Sunday welcomed Biden's gesture but did not commit to taking up the offer.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:29 AM

24. US Futures Are Fading, And Italy Is Now Getting Smashed

http://www.businessinsider.com/us-futures-are-fading-and-italy-is-now-getting-smashed-2013-2

Turning into a bit of an ugly day.
US futures are pointing to an open right now around 0.5%.
The real story today is in Italy, where concerns about the outcome of the coming election seem to be worried.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:33 AM

25. Youngest American Woman Billionaire Found With In-N-Out

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-04/youngest-american-woman-billionaire-found-with-in-n-out.html

Lunchtime at the flagship In-N-Out Burger restaurant in Baldwin Park, California, is a study in efficiency. As the order line swells, smiling workers swoop in to operate empty cash registers. Another staffer cleans tables, asking customers if they’re enjoying their hamburger. Outside, a woman armed with a hand-held ordering machine speeds up the drive-through line.

Such service has helped In-N-Out create a rabid fan base -- and make Lynsi Torres, the chain’s 30-year-old owner and president, one of the youngest female billionaires on Earth. New store openings often resemble product releases from Apple Inc. (AAPL), with customers lined up hours in advance. City officials plead with the Irvine, California-based company to open restaurants in their municipalities.

“They have done a fantastic job of building and maintaining a kind of cult following,” said Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Chicago-based food industry research firm Technomic Inc. “Someone would love to buy them.”

That someone includes billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who told a group of visiting business students in 2005 that he’d like to own the chain, according to an account of the meeting on the UCLA Anderson School of Management website.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 08:42 AM

26. BlackRock Sued by Funds Over Securities Lending Fees

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-03/blackrock-sued-by-pension-funds-over-securities-lending-fees.html

BlackRock Inc. (BLK), the world’s biggest money manager, is accused in a lawsuit by two pension funds of reaping “grossly excessive” compensation from securities- lending returns associated with iShares Inc.

“Defendants have systematically violated their fiduciary duties, setting up an excessive fee structure designed to loot securities lending returns properly due to iShares investors,” the funds, which invest in iShares, said in a complaint in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee.

Investment funds with holdings in stocks or other securities can earn more by lending out their holdings to borrowers, including short sellers, those betting the value of a security will fall. Investors who lend out the securities divide the proceeds with a securities lending agent. Some funds, including BlackRock, use their own securities-lending operation.

The pension funds allege that BlackRock affiliates collected 40 percent of revenue earned from securities lending transactions as compensation.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:01 AM

27. i will survive -- i shoulda changed that stupid lock...

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Response to xchrom (Reply #27)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:46 AM

32. People in the office are looking at me all strange like.........

cause I have my headphones and I'm standing up dancing in my cube. I have no hope. I see no future but, I will survive. That is a great song from the past. Thanks for sharing. Have a good week evryone. Peace.

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Response to Hotler (Reply #32)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:21 AM

36. That's what a dream told me...just this morning

it's only a setback...you've had worse...you will survive.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:07 AM

28. Bailout Doubts: Merkel Opponent Sets Conditions for Cyprus Aid

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/merkel-opponent-steinbrueck-sets-conditions-for-cyprus-aid-support-a-881351.html

Germany's opposition Social Democrats (SPD) have once again signalled that they are unwilling to simply rubberstamp an emergency aid package for ailing euro-zone member Cyprus. The party is demanding that several conditions be met before it grants its approval for the deal in German parliament.

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Peer Steinbrück, the SPD candidate for the Chancellery in this year's election, said that his party would like to see Cyprus' "bloated" banking industry, which holds assets many times greater than the country's annual gross domestic product, be consolidated and "one or another financial institute be liquidated."
He is also demanding that Nicosia do more to combat money laundering and modify its tax laws to reduce the country's attractiveness as a tax oasis. Finally, Steinbrück has demanded that Cyprus join the euro-zone plan to institute a financial transaction tax.

"The chancellor needs to address these criteria in a timely manner," Steinbrück said. "Our approval of the aid measures hinges on her reaction."

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:15 AM

30. Full Throttle Ahead: US Tips Global Power Scales with Fracking

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/new-gas-extraction-methods-alter-global-balance-of-power-a-880546.html

Williston, North Dakota, is a bleak little city in the vast American prairie. It's dusty in the summer and frigid in the winter. Moose hunting is one of the few sources of entertainment. But despite its drawbacks, Williston has seen its population more than double within a short period of time.

The city is so overcrowded that new arrivals often have no place to stay but in their motor homes, which, at monthly parking fees of $1,200 (€880), isn't exactly inexpensive. And more people continue to arrive in this nondescript little town.
The reason for the influx is simple: Geologists have discovered a layer of shale saturated with natural gas and oil deep beneath the city. The Bakken formation, spanning thousands of square kilometers, has become synonymous with an American economic miracle that the country hasn't experienced since the oil rush almost 100 years ago.

North Dakota now has virtual full employment, and the state budget showed an estimated surplus of $1.6 billion in 2012. Truck drivers in the state make $100,000 a year, while the strippers being brought in from Las Vegas rake in more than $1,000 a night. President Barack Obama calls the discovery of Bakken and similar shale gas formations in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Utah a "stroke of luck," saying: "We have a hundred years' worth of energy right beneath our feet."

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 09:16 AM

31. Euro markets' worst day in 6 months

FTSE 100 6,274 -73 1.15%
DAX 7,725 -108 1.38%
CAC 40 3,713 -61 1.60%
FTSE MIB 16,832 -487 2.81%
IBEX 35 8,054 -176 2.13%
Stoxx 600 286 -2 0.76


Plus, Spanish 10-yr yields now pushing 5.40%

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:47 AM

37. Wow! Losses approaching 1% and it's not even noon

Wonder what kind of save will kick in later?

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:54 AM

38. How the Public Can Win the New Financial War By Michael Hudson

http://www.alternet.org/economy/how-public-can-win-new-financial-war?akid=10007.227380.8I5D-1&rd=1&src=newsletter788178&t=13

When World War I broke out in August 1914, economists on both sides forecast that hostilities could not last more than about six months. Wars had grown so expensive that governments quickly would run out of money. It seemed that if Germany could not defeat France by springtime, the Allied and Central Powers would run out of savings and reach what today is called a fiscal cliff and be forced to negotiate a peace agreement....But the Great War dragged on for four destructive years. European governments did what the United States had done after the Civil War broke out in 1861 when the Treasury printed greenbacks. They paid for more fighting simply by printing their own money. Their economies did not buckle and there was no major inflation. That would happen only after the war ended, as a result of Germany trying to pay reparations in foreign currency. This is what caused its exchange rate to plunge, raising import prices and hence domestic prices. The culprit was not government spending on the war itself (much less on social programs).

But history is written by the victors, and the past generation has seen the banks and financial sector emerge victorious. Holding the bottom 99% in debt, the top 1% are now in the process of subsidizing a deceptive economic theory to persuade voters to pursue policies that benefit the financial sector at the expense of labor, industry, and democratic government as we know it. Wall Street lobbyists blame unemployment and the loss of industrial competitiveness on government spending and budget deficits – especially on social programs – and labor’s demand to share in the economy’s rising productivity. The myth (perhaps we should call it junk economics) is that (1) governments should not run deficits (at least, not by printing their own money), because (2) public money creation and high taxes (at lest on the wealthy) cause prices to rise. The cure for economic malaise (which they themselves have caused), is said to be less public spending, along with more tax cuts for the wealthy, who euphemize themselves as “job creators.” Demanding budget surpluses, bank lobbyists promise that banks can provide the economy with enough purchasing power to grow. Then, when this ends in crisis, they insist that austerity can squeeze out enough income to enable private-sector debts to be paid.

The reality is that when banks load the economy down with debt, this leaves less to spend on domestic goods and services while driving up housing prices (and hence the cost of living) with reckless credit creation on looser lending terms. Yet on top of this debt deflation, bank lobbyists urge fiscal deflation: budget surpluses rather than pump-priming deficits. The effect is to further reduce private-sector market demand, shrinking markets and employment. Governments fall deeper into distress, and are told to sell off land and natural resources, public enterprises, and other assets. This creates a lucrative market for bank loans to finance privatization on credit. This explains why financial lobbyists back the new buyers’ right to raise the prices they charge for basic needs, creating a united front to endorse rent extraction. The effect is to enrich the financial sector owned by the 1% in ways that indebt and privatize the economy at large – individuals, business and the government itself.

This policy was exposed as destructive in the late 1920s and early 1930s when John Maynard Keynes, Harold Moulton and a few others countered the claims of Jacques Rueff and Bertil Ohlin that debts of any magnitude could be paid if governments would impose deep enough austerity and suffering. Yet this is the doctrine that the International Monetary Fund has imposed on Third World debtors since the 1960s, and that Europe’s pro-creditor neoliberals are now imposing austerity on Ireland, Greece, Spain and Portugal. And under the slogan of “wealth creation,” it is becoming the doctrine of both Republicans and Democrats in the United States as they move to “balance the budget” by taxing labor and industry more heavily....This pernicious logic aims to distract the public from asking why peacetime governments can’t simply print the money they need. Given this option instead of levying taxes, why do politicians create new spending power only to wage war and destroy property, not to build or repair bridges, roads and other public infrastructure? Why should the government tax employees for future retirement payouts, but not Wall Street for similar user fees and bank insurance to build up a fund to keep a decrepit financial system on artificial life support? For that matter, why doesn’t the U.S. Government print the money to pay for Social Security and medical care, just as it created new debt for the $13 trillion post-2008 bank bailout?

MORE

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Response to Demeter (Reply #38)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:59 AM

40. The Jobs Report and Why the Recovery has Stalled By Robert Reich

http://www.nationofchange.org/jobs-report-and-why-recovery-has-stalled-1359816774

We are in the most anemic recovery in modern history, yet our political leaders in Washington aren’t doing squat about it. In fact, apart from the Fed – which continues to hold interest rates down in the quixotic hope that banks will begin lending again to average people – the government is heading in exactly the wrong direction: raising taxes on the middle class, and cutting spending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that American employers added only 157,000 jobs in January. That’s fewer than they added in December (196,000 jobs, as revised by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The overall unemployment rate remains stuck at 7.9 percent, just about where it’s been since September. The share of people of working age either who are working or looking for jobs also remains dismal – close to a 30-year low. (Yes, older boomers are retiring, but the major cause for this near-record low is simply the lack of jobs.) And the long-term unemployed, about 40 percent of all jobless workers, remain trapped. Most have few if any job prospects, and their unemployment benefits have run out, or will run out shortly Close to 20 million Americans remain unemployed or underemployed.

It would be one thing if we didn’t know what to do about all this. But we do know. It’s not rocket science. The only reason for employers to hire more workers is if they have more customers. But American employers have not had enough customers to justify much new hiring. There are essentially two sources of customers: individual consumers, and the government. (Forget exports for now; Europe is contracting, Japan is a basket case, China is slowing, and the rest of the world is in economic limbo.) American consumers – whose purchases constitute about 70 percent of all economic activity – still can’t buy much, and their purchasing power is declining. The median wage continues to drop, adjusted for inflation. Most can’t borrow because they don’t have a credit record sufficient to allow them to borrow much. And now their Social Security taxes have increased, leaving the typical worker with about $1,000 less this year than last.

The Conference Board reported last Tuesday consumer confidence in January fell its lowest level in more than a year. The last time consumers were this glum was October 2011, when there was widespread talk of a double-dip recession. The only people doing well are at the top – but they save a large part of what they earn instead of spending it. Overall personal income soared by 8 percent in the final three months of 2012 compared to an increase of just over 2 percent in the third quarter, but this income didn’t go into the pockets of the middle class. It went into the pockets of people at the top. Wages and salaries grew a measly six-tenths of one percent. Most of the rise in personal income in the last quarter was from companies rushing to pay dividends before taxes were hiked in 2013, and from an upturn in personal interest income. Both these sources of income went mostly to the well-to-do. This explains why consumer spending is dropping. The Commerce Department said Thursday consumers’ spending rose 0.2 percent last month. That’s slower than the 0.4 percent increase in November. So if we can’t rely on consumers to stoke the economy, what about government? No chance. Government spending is dropping, too. The major reason the economy contracted between the start of October and end of December 2012 was a major reduction in government spending in the fourth quarter. Government spending has declined in nine of the last ten quarters, but it took a precipitous drop in the last quarter. This was mainly because military spending fell 22.2 percent. That’s the largest fall-off since 1972 (mainly due to reduced spending on the war in Afghanistan, and worries by military contractors about further pending cuts). State and local spending also continued to fall. Personally, I’m glad we’re spending less on the military. It’s the most bloated part of the government. Major cuts are long overdue. But the military is America’s only major jobs program. Cutting the military without increasing spending on roads, bridges, schools, and everything else we need to do simply means fewer jobs.

What’s ahead? More of the same. So what possible reason do we have to suspect the recovery will pick up speed? None.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:58 AM

39. WTF???

Helluva birthday gift!

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:03 PM

41. Finally, Bank Officers Held Personally Responsible For Gross Lending Practices, Sued By FDIC

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/02/02/finally-bank-officers-held-personally-responsible-for-gross-lending-practices-sued-by-fdic/

The bank is local to the Puget Sound area: American Marine Bank, based on Bainbridge Island and with 11 branches in the Puget Sound area. It was founded in 1948. All branches were closed by the FDIC in 2010 and assumed by Columbia State Bank of Tacoma. Now, the officers of the bank are being sued for $18 million by the FDIC for gross negligence in lending practices.

The complaint, filed in district court in Tacoma, holds 10 of the bank’s officers personally responsible for $18 million of the $61 million that the FDIC had to pay out when the bank was closed. The claim is that the officers did not use diligence when granting loans, violating their own policies in the process.

“Defendants, 10 of AMB’s former directors and/or officers, caused damages by failing to approve loans in the manner required under the applicable loan policies and by approving loans that did not warrant approval,” the complaint states. “Collectively, the defendants were charged with, among other responsibilities, the responsibility of operating and managing the lending function of AMB. But, rather than manage AMB’s lending function in a safe, sound and reasonable manner, the defendants took unreasonable risks with the bank’s loan portfolio; allowed irresponsible and unsustainable rapid asset growth concentrated in high-risk and speculative acquisition, development and construction (‘ADC’), and commercial real estate (‘CRE’) loans, disregarding regulator advice and criticisms regarding lending activities; and violated AMB ‘s loan policies and reasonable industry standards.”


The main defendants are the former president of the bank, Rex Townsend, chief credit officer Barbara Kaye, executive vice president and CFO Renzo Lucioni, and executive vice president and chief credit officer Gary Winter. The remaining defendants are lesser officers and/or on the Board of Directors for the bank.

Several specific loans are cited, including one to Colorado and one to Utah, both of which are outside the normal lending area for the bank. Just these two loans, for residential developments in those states, added up to $8 million. According to the FDIC, the bank did not perform due diligence in researching the project, including neglecting to get appraisals. I don’t know about you but when I went through real estate transactions I had to have every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. I can’t imagine lending such a huge amount of money without such attention to detail. But it gets worse… Townsend, the CEO of the bank, approved a risky loan without even clearing it through the loan committee. The amount was $3 million and was lent to a Senior Living Partnership in Pennsylvania. Way, way out of the lending area. To be specific:

“The Western Pennsylvania Senior Living Limited Partnership (‘Western PA’) loan was a $4.5-million participation loan. AMB was to be the lead lender of the Western PA loan in the amount of $3 million, and the remaining $1.5 million was to be participated to another bank. The purpose of the loan was to allow borrowers to purchase three mortgages at a 22 percent discount on the face amount, secured by two assisted-living facilities and raw land in New Stanton, Pennsylvania. Despite the deficiencies discussed below, Townsend ‘crammed down’ this loan and personally wired the funds on or about December 28, 2006, without obtaining loan committee approval.”


That is far too nonchalant of an attitude to have when dealing with such big amounts of money. There are 11 total loans – between May of 2005 and December of 2007 – cited in the complaint which, under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRRA), allows the FDIC to hold individual bank officers responsible for damages caused by their negligence....It’s about damn time that bankers were finally made to pay for their arrogance and stupidity. It is certainly satisfying to see these bankers – even if just a handful at a small bank – made to pay for their actions. Let’s hope it’s a trend.

WHA T WERE THEY THINKING? T HAT THEY WERE CITICORP, OR MORGAN STANLEY, OR RBS OR SOMETHING?

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:07 PM

42. More on Jacob Lew: Does His Background presage failure to protect New Deal programs...

http://ataxingmatter.blogs.com/tax/2013/01/more-on-jacob-lew-does-his-geithner-like-background-as-a-rubin-acolyte-rule-out-sensibility-on-debt-.html

Jacob Lew, Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary, will be coming into office (assuming confirmation) at a time when the harpy forces on the right are gathering steam, to try to use the artificial debt ceiling as a weapon to push the Democrats to needlessly eviscerate the New Deal programs while the harpies claim to be focused on cutting the deficit.

The worry, of course, is that Lew was already involved in White House budget negotiations that appeared to buy that line, offering up COLA adjustments and age-eligibility extensions that cut back on benefits, rather than dealing with the resource issue (lifting or removing the Social Security cap; moving towards universal single-payer to cut back on the wasteful health care expenses generated by all of the rent-seekers in the health care chain of providers). See WPAA, Obama Picks Lew for Treasury as Fiscal Issues Loom, AP (Jan. 10, 2013).

Remember, readers. There is no evidence whatsoever that the right-wing really is interested in the well-being of the US economy. If they were, they would not threaten to use the archaic, artificial debt-ceiling limitation as an occasion to swing a cudgel at that very economy and send it reeling into another recession. They would more readily admit that once they have legislated X dollars of spending and Y dollars of revenue, any excess of X over Y has to be made up by debt. Given that debt is very very cheap right now, that's no big deal. Congress should simply eliminate the debt ceiling and authorize borrowing as needed to make pay for the spending they have already authorized in lieu of raising more revenues to do so. Even Ben Bernanke has finally said what is obvious--the debt ceiling has no fiscal value. See Ben Bernanke: Get Rid of the Debt Ceiling, The Examiner, Jan. 15, 2013 (hat tip to Naked Capitalism's Yves Smith).

Robert Pollin, another academic interested in the issues of employment, wages, fair benefits, workers rights and, yes, tax and debt policy, has a good blog on Lew and the need for clear statements about debt, deficits and the US economy: A Modest Proposal for Jacob Lew: Acknowledge Three Simple Facts about US Fiscal Reality (Jan. 15, 2013). The three facts are straightforward (and he has some good charts to support them).

1) The US is not facing a fiscal crisis: our interest payments as a percent of our expenditures are considerably lower now than they have been in the past (including the past under GOP presidents).

2) Interest rates on US bonds are at historic lows, making borrowing even cheaper today than it has been in the past and causing even less worry about a "fiscal crisis" than borrowing might have caused in the past. As Pollin notes, "e should expect Jacob Lew to at least state the obvious here: that the deficit hawks have been wrong about an impending interest rate spike for four years running."

3) The deficits that we are running right now are due to the Great Recession, not to out-of-control spending. The spike (to 10.1% of GDP) occurred in 2009, right after we nearly went off the speculation cliff built by Wall Street, and the deficit has now fallen to around 8.5% of GDP in 2012.


Lew should be able to acknowledge each of these points. And if he could, it would help convince people like me that the Obama administration is finally really ready to fight the teaparty naysayers who seem prepared to destroy the economy in order to be able to bring down benefits under Social Security and Medicare.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:32 PM

43. The Hidden Prosperity of the Poor By THOMAS B. EDSALL

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/the-hidden-prosperity-of-the-poor/

A concept promulgated by the right — the notion of the hidden prosperity of the poor — underpins the conservative take on the ongoing debate over rising inequality. The political right uses this concept to undermine the argument made by liberals that the increasingly unequal distribution of income poses a danger to the social fabric as well as to the American economy. President Obama forcefully articulated the case from the left in an address on Dec. 6, 2011 at Osawatomie High School in Kansas:

This kind of gaping inequality gives lie to the promise that’s at the very heart of America: that this is a place where you can make it if you try. We tell people — we tell our kids — that in this country, even if you’re born with nothing, work hard and you can get into the middle class. We tell them that your children will have a chance to do even better than you do. That’s why immigrants from around the world historically have flocked to our shores.


The conservative counterargument – that life for the poor and the middle class is better than it seems – goes like this: Even with stagnant or modestly growing incomes, the poor and middle class benefit from the fact that a stable or declining share of income is now required for basic necessities, leaving more money for discretionary spending. According to this theory, consumption inequality – the disparity between the amount of money spent on goods and services by the rich, the middle class and the poor — remains relatively unchanged, even while income inequality worsens. In its definition of consumption, the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes “expenditures for food, housing, transportation, apparel, medical care, entertainment, and miscellaneous items.” In an e-mail to The Times, Mark Perry, an economist at the University of Michigan-Flint, goes further to make the conservative case:

For the consumer products, goods, and services primarily produced/provided by the private sector in competitive markets: air travel, foreign travel, food and beverages, restaurant meals, housing, clothing, footwear, household appliances and utensils, furniture, electronics (TVs, iPods, DVDs, BlueRay, Tivo, home theater systems), cameras, GPS, computers, cars and trucks, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, sporting goods, household tools and equipment, cell phones and cell phone service, LASIK surgery, cosmetic surgery, musical instruments, jewelry and watches, luggage, toys, books, information (Wikipedia, Internet, etc.), Cable TV, Internet service, car wash, oil changes, etc. those products and services keep getting cheaper and cheaper, and better and better, and with greater variety, relative to: a) the general price level, and b) average income, and in other words, keep getting more and more affordable over time to the average person. And the average consumer benefits the most, and is most satisfied, with those products/services provided by the market.

Perry and Donald Boudreaux, an economist at George Mason University, elaborated on this theme in a Jan. 23 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “The Myth of a Stagnant Middle Class.” The two economists contend that the “favorite progressive trope” of middle and lower class stagnation “is spectacularly wrong” – that American families today have substantially more discretionary income than ever before because the cost of basic necessities has been steadily falling as a proportion of income:

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, spending by households on many of modern life’s “basics” — food at home, automobiles, clothing and footwear, household furnishings and equipment, and housing and utilities — fell from 53% of disposable income in 1950 to 44% in 1970 to 32% today.


Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, and Aparna Mathur, an A.E.I. colleague, declared in an earlier Wall Street Journal op-ed that warnings by Democratic politicians of rising inequality

echo a standard left-wing critique of capitalism: Economic growth does not serve all classes of society. In the mid-19th century, socialists of various stripes asserted that capitalists grow richer while exploiting workers, who grow poorer. Today we hear that the gains from economic growth accrue to the highest-income earners while the standard of living of the poor and middle America stagnates and the gap between the richest and the poorest grows ever wider. That portrait of the country is wrong.


Instead, Hassett and Mathur argue that liberals are asking the wrong question. They point out that according to data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey compiled for the Bureau of Labor Statistics

if you sort households according to their pretax income, in 2010 the bottom fifth accounted for 8.7% of overall consumption, the middle fifth for 17.1%, and the top fifth for about 38.6%. Go back 10 years to 2000 — before two recessions, the Bush tax cuts, and continuing expansions of globalization and computerization — and the numbers are similar. The bottom fifth accounted for 8.9% of consumption, the middle fifth for 17.3%, and the top fifth for 37.3%.


The consumption theory is powerfully attractive to the right for a number of reasons. It undermines the legitimacy of government action to ameliorate rising income inequality. And it is based in part on the premise that existing welfare programs – food stamps, Medicaid, temporary cash assistance — are doing their job. These conservative analyses have drawn heated criticism. My colleague Paul Krugman was harsh in his assessment of Boudreaux-Perry – “The BR piece is, in short, a complete non sequitur” — and scathing in his view of Hassett’s qualifications: “the co-author of ‘Dow 36,000’ doesn’t exactly have a reputation to destroy.”

..........................................................................................................
Here are three charts from the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. When you look at the level of poverty in the United States compare with other developed countries, it is not pretty:



When you focus on child poverty, you go from bad to worse:



And how much of an investment does the United States government make in reducing poverty, compared with other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries?







MORE, STILL MORE

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:35 PM

44. Washington State has part of the answer. We will put NEW emphasis (taxes?) into STEM

graduates from college by implementing "Core Curriculum" and changes to prep students for STEM in secondary school, revise offerings in colleges to provide more STEM to replace, well, other not as important stuff. (Like agriculture or theater or art)?

(Since only about 70% or so graduate of the ones that make it all the way through - over here by me, anyway - I wonder if higher standards without making sure their parents income and educational levels increase first will lead to a higher failure rate? Not something they have to worry about in the wealthier neighborhoods, I expect.)

This was the reasoning given in a recent "push" survey I received...


Tthe PLUS side of this is that when we have all these STEM graduates coming out of school, companies will seize the day and move here.

In droves.


Oh yeah, the other cool thing. They are exploring charging more for STEM courses than others. Because presumably history isn't so useful, valuable? (Especially if you are in power, wanting to "school" people into a certain behavior and you don't want many questions? Dang history majors always causing trouble.)

So, if one is looking for a bright future, look here in just a few years. Over where the sun sets on your horizon.


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:41 PM

45. No Austerity Has Helped Any Economy

http://truth-out.org/news/item/14311-no-austerity-has-helped-the-economy

...“All your money are belong to us” — the song of the predator class

...Very Serious People only listen to each other. In other words, the poor darlings are just deluded, bubbled, sealed from understanding...Those whom he (KRUGMAN) calls Very Serious People, I call Our Betters. This difference in language (between his and mine) is indicative of the difference in analysis between Krugman and people like me. The language “Very Serious People” speaks to their role as pundits, opinion-generators and insider-echoists. “Our Betters” speaks about their power role — the role these people play in running our lives (at the Obama and Robert Rubin level) or in serving those who run our lives (at the David Gregory and Joe Scarborough level).

In other words, it’s certainly true that the baronial class and its servants and administrators listen only to each other, and thus reinforce in each other the comforting cover story that they’re only doing what’s in our ultimate good.
But the baronial class is also the predator class and they know precisely where the benefit (for them) always lies. This is the predator class in operation:



The Predator Class in action. If you added the Top .001% to this chart, it would have to be taller than you are.

If you added the Top .1%, the Top .01% and the Top .001% to that chart, you’d need a chart as tall as your room.

What the chart calls the “Highest Fifth” includes what I call the “retainers” — administrators, enablers (that’s you, CNN producers) and professionals needed to keep the system working. Everyone else is workers, and look what their hard work got them.

All of the gains of worker productivity (the harder smarter computer-enabled work of the lowest four-fifths) have gone into the pockets of the highest fifth and especially the very top earners. Note that these are individual incomes, not corporate incomes; as I’ve argued elsewhere, the corporation is just the collection device, the force extender, for the CEO class that wholly controls it; shareholder-ownership is the comforting cover story.

This is what James Galbraith calls “the predatory state” — and he means that economically. The predatory state is a state that enables and is controlled by economic predators, extremely wealthy vampires who feed on their fellow citizens. Galbraith (my emphasis):

That the looming debt and deficit crisis is fake is something that, by now, even the most dim member of Congress must know. The combination of hysterical rhetoric, small armies of lobbyists and pundits, and the proliferation of billionaire-backed front groups with names like the “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget” is not a novelty in Washington. It happens whenever Big Money wants something badly enough.


...It’s that predatory feeding that produces policies, promises and pronouncements like these that Krugman describes:

Not only have we been ruled by fear of nonexistent threats, we’ve been promised rewards that haven’t arrived and never will.


..My advice — dare to be bold, progressives. This game has a fourth quarter, and we’re in it. At some point, the predator will destroy all the prey and then die. Justice for the beast perhaps, but no fun for the already dead.

SO MUCH MORE...A MUST READ!

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Response to Demeter (Reply #45)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:43 PM

46. Noam Chomsky: The Paranoia of the Superrich and Superpowerful

http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-paranoia-superrich-and-superpowerful?page=0%2C3&akid=10008.227380.SGDRV6&rd=1&src=newsletter788532&t=5&paging=off

...I merely mention that to illustrate that in the intellectual culture, even at what’s called the left liberal end of the political spectrum, the core principles haven’t changed very much. But the capacity to implement them has been sharply reduced. That’s why you get all this talk about American decline. Take a look at the year-end issue of Foreign Affairs, the main establishment journal. Its big front-page cover asks, in bold face, “Is America Over?” It’s a standard complaint of those who believe they should have everything. If you believe you should have everything and anything gets away from you, it’s a tragedy, the world is collapsing. So is America over? A long time ago we “lost” China, we’ve lost Southeast Asia, we’ve lost South America. Maybe we’ll lose the Middle East and North African countries. Is America over? It’s a kind of paranoia, but it’s the paranoia of the superrich and the superpowerful. If you don’t have everything, it’s a disaster...

JUST A TASTE...ANOTHER MUST READ

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:22 PM

47. Before I forget: Congrats Baltimore Ravens! NEVERMORE!

And it's still snowing, 6 hours later, but slower, and smaller flakes. I shoulda kept my big mouth shut....

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 01:39 PM

48. What the government kinda giveth, the Insurance Industry taketh away. Fast

I had my Federal tax return deposited this morning. A nice, big one ($4,700) since I had aver $12k in medical and dental to write off, and two years of property taxes.

Next on the agenda, write two checks for homeowners and federal flood insurance, $2465 and $1145, respectively.

Oh well. There's enough to keep me in vodka and beer for the month.

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Response to Fuddnik (Reply #48)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 03:18 PM

49. Good you got a refund to deposit!


Seems like we always have to pay something.


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