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Mon Feb 27, 2012, 06:53 AM

STOCK MARKET WATCH -- Monday, 27 February 2012


STOCK MARKET WATCH, Monday, 27 February 2012


SMW for 24 February 2012

AT THE CLOSING BELL ON 24 February 2012

Dow Jones 12,982.95 -1.74 (-0.01%)
S&P 500 1,365.74 +2.28 (0.17%)
Nasdaq 2,963.75 0.00 (0.00%)


10 Year 1.97% -0.01 (-0.51%)
30 Year 3.10% -0.02 (-0.64%)









Market Conditions During Trading Hours






Euro, Yen, Loonie, Silver and Gold
















Handy Links - Government Issues:

LegitGov
Open Government
Earmark Database
USA spending.gov





Financial Sector Officials Convicted since 1/20/09 =
12
2/2/12 David Higgs and Salmaan Siddiqui, Credit Suisse, plead guilty to conspiracy involving valuation of MBS









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, 27 February 2012 (Original post)
Tansy_Gold Feb 2012 OP
xchrom Feb 2012 #1
Roland99 Feb 2012 #5
Tansy_Gold Feb 2012 #8
xchrom Feb 2012 #13
Tansy_Gold Feb 2012 #72
Roland99 Feb 2012 #28
xchrom Feb 2012 #9
xchrom Feb 2012 #2
xchrom Feb 2012 #7
Demeter Feb 2012 #10
xchrom Feb 2012 #14
Roland99 Feb 2012 #31
xchrom Feb 2012 #3
Demeter Feb 2012 #11
Po_d Mainiac Feb 2012 #4
Demeter Feb 2012 #12
xchrom Feb 2012 #6
xchrom Feb 2012 #15
Demeter Feb 2012 #16
dixiegrrrrl Feb 2012 #75
Demeter Feb 2012 #17
Demeter Feb 2012 #18
Demeter Feb 2012 #19
Demeter Feb 2012 #21
Fuddnik Feb 2012 #30
xchrom Feb 2012 #20
Demeter Feb 2012 #22
xchrom Feb 2012 #23
DemReadingDU Feb 2012 #29
Demeter Feb 2012 #24
Demeter Feb 2012 #25
dixiegrrrrl Feb 2012 #76
Demeter Feb 2012 #26
philly_bob Feb 2012 #63
Demeter Feb 2012 #64
dixiegrrrrl Feb 2012 #77
Demeter Feb 2012 #27
rfranklin Feb 2012 #32
xchrom Feb 2012 #33
Demeter Feb 2012 #34
Demeter Feb 2012 #39
Demeter Feb 2012 #40
Demeter Feb 2012 #51
Demeter Feb 2012 #35
Roland99 Feb 2012 #57
Demeter Feb 2012 #36
Fuddnik Feb 2012 #45
Demeter Feb 2012 #48
xchrom Feb 2012 #50
Hotler Feb 2012 #60
bread_and_roses Feb 2012 #55
Fuddnik Feb 2012 #56
TalkingDog Feb 2012 #37
Demeter Feb 2012 #41
TalkingDog Feb 2012 #44
xchrom Feb 2012 #38
Demeter Feb 2012 #42
xchrom Feb 2012 #43
Fuddnik Feb 2012 #47
xchrom Feb 2012 #49
bread_and_roses Feb 2012 #71
xchrom Feb 2012 #46
xchrom Feb 2012 #52
xchrom Feb 2012 #53
xchrom Feb 2012 #54
Demeter Feb 2012 #66
xchrom Feb 2012 #67
Demeter Feb 2012 #58
Demeter Feb 2012 #59
xchrom Feb 2012 #61
Demeter Feb 2012 #65
TalkingDog Feb 2012 #69
xchrom Feb 2012 #70
TalkingDog Feb 2012 #73
Hotler Feb 2012 #62
xchrom Feb 2012 #68
Fuddnik Feb 2012 #74

Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:11 AM

1. and the Oscar goes to -- MONDAY!

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Response to xchrom (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:18 AM

5. Would be better if today were Friday!

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Response to Roland99 (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:23 AM

8. I'd like to have a few hours of last night back.

Like the ones between 10:30 and 2:00 a.m. during which I tossed and turned and got no sleep before having to get up at 4:30.

I'm gong to be a terrible grouch today. . . .

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:47 AM

13. i'll stay in my room and behave...

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Response to xchrom (Reply #13)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 03:50 PM

72. Oh, have no fear!

I take all this grouchiness out on the people at the day job. since they're only recorded voices who can't answer back, I'm safe --- and so are they!

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:49 AM

28. kinda the same here but different

The last few months I've been having so many vivid dreams each night and I'll wake up once or twice from them. I'm thinking I might opt for some Tylenol PM one night soon

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Response to Roland99 (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:24 AM

9. indeed -- here's to a fast approach to friday

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:13 AM

2. G20 disappointment hurts FTSE

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/02/27/uk-markets-britain-stocks-idUKTRE81Q0W220120227

(Reuters) - The top shares fell Monday, led lower by banks and miners, after a G20 meeting of leading economies failed to reassure investors over financial help to ease euro zone debt crisis.

In the meeting over the weekend, the G20 told Europe it must commit extra money to combat the crisis before seeking further assistance. This raised pressure on Germany to drop its opposition to a bigger European bailout fund.

"There seems to be something of a crack developing between Germany and the rest in terms of the next round of funding, but probably most importantly the firewall," Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown, said.

"It seems as though most of Europe wants to get the firewall to such a stage that contagion can be put to one side once and for all, but we don't seem to have moved any closer to that after the meeting at the weekend."

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Response to xchrom (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:23 AM

7. Stocks Decline From Seven-Month High; Oil Falls

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-27/japanese-shares-climb-as-exporters-gain-on-weaker-yen-won-retreats-on-oil.html

Stocks (MXWD) fell from the highest level in almost seven months as the Group of 20 nations rebuffed calls from the euro area to boost international lending resources. Brent crude snapped a five-day rally and the yen strengthened.

The MSCI All-Country World Index slid 0.5 percent at 10:50 a.m. in London after closing last week at the highest since Aug. 1. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures fell 0.5 percent. Brent oil retreated from a nine-month high. The yen gained against all 16 of its most-traded peers. The cost of insuring against default on European corporate debt rose for the first time in three days, according to traders of credit-default swaps.

The G-20 told Europe to come up with more financial firepower before they will consider lending outside support. The world economy is “not out of the danger zone” amid fragile financial systems, high public and private debt and rising oil prices, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said. The European Central Bank will offer unlimited three-year funds, with banks set to take 470 billion euros ($629 billion), according to the median of 28 estimates in a Bloomberg survey, compared with 489 billion euros at the tender Dec. 21.

“Europe still has work to do in terms of the great bailout and there seems to be some things various parties can’t agree upon, so that’s winding down on the market at the moment,” said Matt Riordan, who helps manage $6.8 billion in Sydney at Paradice Investment Management Pty.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:40 AM

10. Danegeld

Cannot put a firewall around that.

The Big Money guys are engaging in self-stimulation. They think they can lure the sheeple into their three card monte by talking up the Market "gains". The sheeple in general aren't playing--either they are broke, or they are not sheep.

Meanwhile, nation governments, taken by surprise, are fumbling around. Some of them, Instead of beating Big Money into submission to the rules, are letting Big Money corrupt them, in total violation of why government exists at all.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:48 AM

14. +1

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Response to xchrom (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:55 AM

31. US futures have a case of the Mondays

S&P 500 1,356.50 -6.75 -0.50%
DOW 12,911 -50.00 -0.39%
NASDAQ 2,590 -11.25 -0.43%


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:16 AM

3. Analysis - Commodities struggle to attract new funds

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/02/27/uk-commodity-investment-idUKTRE81Q10U20120227

(Reuters) - Commodities will battle to attract fresh money inflows this year as doubts remain about demand from top consumer China and after sharp losses last year and higher correlation with other asset classes, which diminished arguments for diversification.

Investment flows into commodities slid by 78 percent in 2011 to $15 billion (9.45 billion pounds), the weakest figure in a nearly a decade, including net withdrawals of $7.7 billion in December, according to Barclays Capital (BARC.L).

January saw a slight recovery as investment in commodities turned positive, Barcap said on Monday. The investment bank was upbeat about the prospects for commodities this year.

But some fund managers have been wary about how quickly investors will return to the sector.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:41 AM

11. Not to mention the rampant fraud and theft that just occurred for the third time

Talk about elephants in the living room...

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:17 AM

4. The thread must be dedicated to strip malls today

You know, those places with huge parking lots and empty stores.

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Response to Po_d Mainiac (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:45 AM

12. Entitled: "If you build it and then trash the economy, they won't come"?

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:20 AM

6. Magic Mountain What happens at Davos?

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/05/120305fa_fact_paumgarten

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, was well under way when it officially commenced, early on a Wednesday evening in January, with an address, in the Congress Hall of the Congress Center, by Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. She had a lot to say about Europe. Some of it—“Do we dare more Europe? Yes, we do dare”—made the news. But outside the hall many Davos participants paid her no mind. They loitered in various lounges carrying on conversations with each other. They talked and talked—as though they hadn’t been talking all day. They had talked while sitting on panels or while skipping panels that others were sitting on. “Historic Complexity: How Did We Get Here?,” “The Compensation Question,” “Global Risks 2012: The Seeds of Dystopia”: over the course of five days, a man could skip more than two hundred and fifty such sessions.

Many Davos participants rarely, if ever, attend even one. Instead, they float around in the slack spaces, sitting down to one arranged meeting after another, or else making themselves available for chance encounters, either with friends or with strangers whom they will ever after be able to refer to as friends. The Congress Center, the daytime hub, is a warren of interconnected lounges, cafés, lobbies, and lecture halls, with espresso bars, juice stations, and stacks of apples scattered about. The participants have their preferred hovering areas. Wandering the center in search of people to talk to was like fishing a stretch of river; one could observe, over time, which pools held which fish, and what times of day they liked to feed. Jamie Dimon, running shoes in hand, near the espresso stand by the Global Leadership Fellows Program, in the late afternoon. Fareed Zakaria, happily besieged, in the Industry Partners Lounge, just before lunch. The lunkers would very occasionally emerge from their deep holes (there were rumors of secret passageways) and glide through the crowd, with aides alongside, like pilot fish. (The W.E.F. says that Davos is an entourage-free zone, but this doesn’t seem to apply to the biggest of the big wheels, like heads of state.) It is said that the faster you walk the more important you are.

I walked very slowly. I was new here, a first-timer. That Wednesday, I was eager to hear Merkel, but on my way I got sidetracked in the lounge by conversations that seemed interesting, especially the ones I wasn’t part of. It was a name-dropper’s paradise. Central bankers, industrial chiefs, hedge-fund titans, gloomy forecasters, astrophysicists, monks, rabbis, tech wizards, museum curators, university presidents, financial bloggers, virtuous heirs. I found myself in conversation with a newspaper columnist and an executive from McKinsey & Company, the management-consulting firm. This was serendipitous, as so many conversations in Davos turn out to be, because, at the urging of many, I was supposed to be angling for an invitation to the McKinsey party, at the Belvedere Hotel. A must, people said, with a glint. I was suspicious, owing to an incongruity between the words “party” and “management consulting.” But this was Davos. The executive cheerfully added me to the list. A McKinsey for a Merkel: a fair trade.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/05/120305fa_fact_paumgarten#ixzz1naHBu5vh


Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/05/120305fa_fact_paumgarten#ixzz1naGx92Pl

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:50 AM

15. Optimistic farmers see boom coming to an end

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46532124/ns/business-retail/

Brian Roach scrawled a simple outlook for corn prices in a spiral notebook, with a line diving from the upper left hand corner to the lower right.

Sitting in a hotel ballroom at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual Agricultural Outlook Forum last week, the commodity broker predicted increasing supplies and weakening demand would slow a boom in the farm economy that has fattened growers' wallets and pushed up food prices.

"Nothing is telling me to think any different right now," said Roach, president of the Florida-based commodity business Roach Ag Marketing.

For the first time in years at the conference that traditionally kicks off the year for America's agri-business sector, forecasters said the seemingly endless upward trajectory on everything from crop prices to farmer income was coming to an end.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:53 AM

16. Why the U.S. Is Nothing At All Like Greece

NO OUZO, FETA, AND OLIVES?

http://www.alternet.org/story/154199/why_the_u.s._is_nothing_at_all_like_greece?page=entire

....What follows is a self-defense lesson on why the United States is not Greece—or Europe. The U.S. economy is far larger and more productive than Greece. The United States has many more tools in its macro-economic policy box than countries in the eurozone. And while calls for austerity have kept the United States from undertaking government spending and investment large enough to support a robust economic recovery, at least thus far, the United States hasn’t undertaken the same self-defeating austerity measures Europe has. If we learn the right lessons from what is happening in the eurozone now, we never will. When economic activity plummeted during 2008 and 2009 in the United States, Europe, and throughout the world, coordinated stimulus spending of nations across the globe prevented the collapse of world output from becoming another Great Depression. Today, deficit spending remains critical as working people continue to struggle through an economic recovery that has done little to create jobs or to lift wages, but much to restore profits....

...The central banks of most other countries have much the same abilities as the Fed has to inject money into their economies and to buy government debt. As with the Fed, they may or may not choose to use this power. But the power is unquestionably there. The 17 countries in the eurozone, however, relinquished their ability to print money, expand their money supplies, and lower interest rates when they adopted the euro as their common currency. Only the European Central Bank—known as the ECB—can authorize the “printing of euros,” and the ECB maintains control over the money supply of the eurozone. Unlike the Fed, the ECB does not have a dual mandate to pursue low employment as well as low inflation. The ECB’s authority is limited to maintaining low inflation, known as “price stability,” which the ECB defines as an inflation rate below 2 percent. And the ECB is prohibited from directly buying government bonds. The ECB is authorized to buy government bonds only on the “secondary” bond market, when original purchasers resell them.

The result of these policies is that eurozone countries must sell their bonds on the open market. That leaves them entirely dependent on private bond buyers (i.e., lenders), whether from their own country or other countries, to finance their government deficits. Governments must offer their bonds for sale with rates of returns (or interest rates) that will attract those bonds buyers. Each uptick in the interest rate adds to the debt burden of these countries, and makes deficit spending to stimulate the economy that much more expensive...Eurozone guidelines prohibit budget deficits that exceed 3 percent of GDP, or national debt in excess of 60 percent of their GDP. And there is no central fiscal authority with deep pockets to turn to. Contrast this with the United States, where states also share the same currency and the Fed targets one interest rate, but where states can turn to the federal government for assistance in times of economic stress. In effect, the eurozone countries were left to confront the global downturn and the sovereign debt crisis with one policy hand tied behind their back, and a couple of digits lopped off the other. Market pressure on interest rates made it yet more difficult for eurozone countries to get out of trouble by undertaking countercyclical, or stimulus, spending when economies slowed.

In the few cases where eurozone authorities have provided loans to indebted countries, they have insisted on austerity measures ranging from slashing government spending to public- and private-sector wage cuts as the pre-condition for providing relief. But since cutting government spending in a downturn leads to both a fall in demand and rise in unemployment, this emergency lending is making it even harder for eurozone countries to recover...

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Response to Demeter (Reply #16)

Tue Feb 28, 2012, 08:03 AM

75. Thank you for this article, Demeter.

It answers a few questions I have had.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 07:57 AM

17. Fed’s push on housing crosses a line, critics say

(AKA SENATE FEELS ITS PREROGATIVES ARE BEING STEPPED ON)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/feds-push-on-housing-crosses-a-line-critics-say/2012/02/09/gIQA0dd6RR_story.html

Senior Federal Reserve officials are injecting themselves into a noisy debate over how to solve the housing crisis, drawing criticism from some lawmakers who say the Fed has no business straying from its traditional role as the U.S. central bank.

Amid complaints that the Fed has encroached on Congress’s territory, Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has tried to allay concerns on Capitol Hill over the past few weeks, in the latest flap in a broader debate about the Fed’s proper role in the economy.

That discussion began after the Fed started taking un­or­tho­dox measures in 2008 to address the financial crisis, including several rounds of massive bond purchases and steps to shore up lending markets. All the Republican presidential candidates have criticized Bernanke on various counts, saying he has printed too much money, damaged the value of the dollar and carried out programs that simply haven’t worked.

In Washington, the reaction to the Fed’s efforts to bring down unemployment has divided along partisan lines. Democrats say the steps are necessary, but Republicans say they risk sparking inflation and undermining the currency....

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:05 AM

18. America has lost almost a decade of progress to the financial crisis

(DEFINE "PROGRESS"--BY MY CALCULATIONS, IT'S MORE LIKE 80 YEARS)

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/02/daily-chart-15



TALK of a Japanese style "lost decade" has abounded ever since the financial crisis took hold in 2008. The Economist has crunched the numbers and on the basis of seven indicators covering economic output, wealth and labour markets, the United States has already gone back in time some ten years. Its GDP per person, for example, was at a higher level than today back in 2005 and its main stockmarket index was higher in 1999. Of the countries considered, Greece has fared the worst. In economic terms, it is just entering the new millennium again. As a whole the rich world has been hardest hit by the financial crisis. Just six of the 34 "advanced" economies categorised by the IMF have GDP per person higher in 2011 than in 2007. Notable among them are Germany and Australia.

http://www.economist.com/node/21548255

NOW almost five years old, the economic crisis rumbles on. In order to assess how much economic progress it has undone, The Economist has constructed a measure of lost time for hard-hit countries. It shows that Greece’s economic clock has been turned back furthest: it has been rewound by over 12 years. Elsewhere in the euro area, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain have lost seven years or more. Britain, the first country forced to rescue a credit-crunched bank, has lost eight years. America, where the trouble started, has lost ten (see left-hand chart). Our clock uses seven indicators of economic health, which fall into three broad categories. Household wealth and its main components, financial-asset prices and property prices, are in the first group. Measures of annual output and private consumption are in the second category. Real wages and unemployment make up the third. A simple average of how much time has been lost in each of these categories produces our overall measure.

Stockmarkets give some of the starkest results. American equities lost a quarter of their value in the month after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. Shares are an important component of households’ pension-fund wealth, and in that month alone five years of gains were eradicated. The main indices have improved markedly since then: the S&P 500 is back to around 90% of its peak value. But they were at these levels back in the late 1990s, too, so some investors will have made no capital gains in 13 years. Greek stocks were higher in 1992 than today: 20 years have been wiped away. Recent performance is actually quite good from a historical perspective: five years on from both Wall Street’s 1929 crash and Japan’s 1989 asset bust, equities were at just 50% of their peak values in real terms. But history also offers a warning: it took 25 years for American stocks to regain their 1929 highs and Japanese stocks have never made it back to their peak.

House prices have gone backwards, too. The average American homeowner is living in 2001, judging by inflation-adjusted property values. Britain has suffered less dramatic drops in house prices, but has still lost seven years. The costs of this lost time are huge: British households’ property wealth, in today’s prices, is around £500 billion ($785 billion) short of its peak; American households have lost a whopping $9.2 trillion.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:10 AM

19. Obama's Squandered Recovery Rich Yeselson

http://prospect.org/article/obamas-squandered-recovery

The Escape Artists: How Obama's Team Fumbled the Recovery.
By Noam Scheiber, Simon & Schuster, 351 pages, $28.00.

A guy I know told me a story. He had a friend who was working on the 55th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center on that terrible day. When the plane hit the North Tower, everybody in the office understandably got very worried. When the plane hit the South Tower, people were going crazy. But the authorities on the floor—calm, experienced—told them not to panic. The guy’s friend thought to himself, “Fuck this, we’re all going to die," and raced downstairs, exiting the building right before it collapsed.

I thought of that story when reading Noam Scheiber’s The Escape Artists, about the economic crisis at the start of Obama’s presidency and the administration’s response. In the book, based upon hundreds of on- and off-the-record interviews with principals and other witnesses to the events described, Obama and his top economic and political staff emerge as, to a man (more about the one woman later), thoughtful and honorable public servants (Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel isn’t very calm). But Scheiber argues that they grasped neither the magnitude of the crisis nor the opposition they faced from a rabidly partisan Republican Party....Scheiber’s strategy is to show the reader that, as they used to say in the Reagan years, “personnel are policy.” He elaborates on this axiom in two ways. First, at pivotal moments, key people do what their history and temperament have prepared them to do. Thus, Tim Geithner’s long history of working with banks as a regulator guides critical decisions during his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury. Second, Scheiber offers a meta-approach: Obama naturally wanted experienced people handling the economy. When the time came to make appointments, he plucked Geithner; former Harvard president Lawrence Summers; then-director of the Congressional Budget Office Peter Orszag; former Treasury undersecretary Gary Gensler; and several other important players from the tree of Robert Rubin, Clinton's treasury secretary and former honcho of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. The president risked a team perspective that was “too close to Wall Street,” as one unnamed Democratic senator warned Obama after his election.

Scheiber astutely identifies different strains in the Rubin genealogy. Geithner represented the “restorationist” Rubinite, adopting Rubin’s personal mannerisms and his concern about deficits. Like Obama, Geithner had been raised for a time abroad, and Obama was taken with his dedication to public service and modest demeanor. Scheiber observes that Geithner worried about the banks more than former banking officials in the administration, who knew they would manage just fine. Summers, director of the White House National Economic Council and Rubin’s successor at the Treasury, was in turn a “reformist” Rubinite, unwedded to obsessing over the deficit during a massive recession. Orszag, the team’s primary deficit hawk and director of the Office of Management and Budget, had also entered Rubin’s orbit as a young Clinton White House economist. “Orszag’s power," Scheiber writes, “came from the harmony between his worldview and the president’s. Both men were fierce anti-partisans; both shunned ideology.” Orszag thought there were practical limitations to how much the government could spend, and that much of the stimulus would inevitably be rolled into the long-term deficit. While the country was still losing 350,000 jobs per month in May 2009, Obama asked Orszag to write him a secret “fiscal crisis” memo.

Cristina Romer, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, and a relative outsider, alone was the pure academic of the crew, seeking to make the right, evidenced-based argument with views shaped by the layoff of her middle manager father decades earlier and by her study of the Great Depression. To Romer, an effective policy would always increase the aggregate demand of consumers and not stop at guaranteeing the safety of the banks. Only she kept the recession at the top of her agenda. Summers also kept the recession a priority but, in an effort to remain in line with his colleagues, he cancels his own expertise and bails on Romer. Scheiber depicts Summers as a brilliant, but fraught figure, who fritters away his influence with the president. At times, he shows excellent judgment, but loses the argument. Unlike Emmanuel, the purported political wizard, Summers argues correctly against the offering of specific predictions in what becomes the Romer-Jared Bernstein memo forecasting the effectiveness of the stimulus and predicting that it would hold unemployment below 8 percent...Summers is an inside angler but an inept one, whom the smoother Geithner and more dispassionate Orszag outmaneuver. Then there’s the famous matter of how much stimulus to go for. As Scheiber describes it, when Romer gives her fellow economist her estimate that $1.8 trillion over two years is needed in order to restore the economy’s lost output, Summers rejects the number as “impractical.” So Romer constructs a “reasonable compromise” and asks for $1.2 trillion, but also proposes smaller packages of approximately $600 billion and $800 billion. At that point, Summers’s thinking becomes clouded by the rules of Washington inside baseball which he flatters himself he has mastered during his earlier tenure in Washington. Adopting the preemptive mantle of political adviser, Summers cuts even the $1.2 trillion proposal from the draft memo because, as he says to Romer, ‘One point two trillion dollars is non-planetary. People will think we don’t get it.” By people, Summers means the president’s political advisers, who at that point were already on record saying that anything over a trillion dollars would be a loser in Congress. In short, Summers squanders his greatest comparative advantage over everyone else, that on these issues, his voice was the one the president trusted most. By surrendering without a fight to Rahm and the politicos, Summers prevents Obama from realizing how grave his economic team’s evaluation of the crisis was...Scheiber’s narrative is lucid enough so that the reader can begin to question, along with the author, why several mistakes are made more than once.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #19)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:22 AM

21. FiveBooks Interviews > Christina Romer on Learning from the Great Depression

http://thebrowser.com/interviews/christina-romer-on-learning-great-depression?page=full

Q&A INTERVIEW by Eve Gerber (ANSWERS ARE BOLDED)

...The lessons of the Great Depression is our theme today. You (Christina Romer) are an expert on that topic. By all accounts, that’s one of the reasons why Barack Obama asked you to join his cabinet in the autumn of 2008. How well did economists understand the toll that the financial crisis of 2008 would take on the US economy as you prepared to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers? In the middle of the financial crisis, it was hard to estimate just how much damage had already been done to the economy and how widespread the impacts would be. But what economists certainly understood from history was that the crisis could be absolutely devastating if policymakers didn’t take steps to stop it and to mitigate the damage.

Right-wing websites are rife with references to “Obama’s Depression”. I know economists and partisan bloggers wield the word “depression” differently. When economists use the word, what precisely do they mean? The word “depression” doesn't really have a well-defined meaning, unlike the words “recession” and “expansion”. The National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession, for example, as a time when economic activity is declining. Often what economists mean by depression is the same thing other people mean – a really bad and exceptionally prolonged recession. Importantly, as bad as the current recession has been, it has been far less severe and prolonged than the episode we all agree was a depression, the Great Depression of the 1930s. To give you one indicator, in 2009 the US unemployment rate peaked at 10%. In the early 1930s it hit 25%.

Let’s get to your books. The first three are about what caused the Great Depression, and the last two are about what ended it. Your first choice is A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz. Please give us a précis of the book and explain how it changed the debate about the causes of the Great Depression. I frequently tell students: If you buy only one economics book, it should be A Monetary History. The book is obviously important for our understanding of the Great Depression, but its impact goes far beyond that. Friedman and Schwartz show us that monetary events and monetary policy have affected real output throughout American history. That's a fundamentally important finding. It tells us that a monetary development that affects aggregate demand has an impact on the things we care about, like employment, unemployment and how much we produce in the economy. The other thing that Friedman and Schwartz do is show us how to use historical evidence on policymakers’ motivation and thinking to help establish a causal relationship between money and output. When you asked me for my list of books, I debated about whether to put The General Theory by John Maynard Keynes on the list. The General Theory is an incredibly important book, but it's basically a theoretical explanation of how aggregate demand could affect output. It was Friedman and Schwartz who provided the empirical evidence that supported the theory. That's why A Monetary History went to the top of my list. With regard specifically to the Great Depression, Friedman and Schwartz show that there were large declines in the money supply associated with repeated waves of banking panics. They also provide compelling evidence that bad economic ideas and a dysfunctional organisational structure were key reasons why the Federal Reserve did so little to stop the panics. One of the reasons why A Monetary History is still such a classic is that it has held up to a remarkable degree....


Your second selection is Golden Fetters by Barry Eichengreen. How did this book contribute to our understanding of the Great Depression? It's important for helping to answer the question, why was the Depression a worldwide phenomenon? Friedman and Schwartz and other studies have shown that what caused the Depression here in the US was largely domestic shocks – a terrible stock market crash and a series of uncontrolled banking crises. But if that is the case, why was the Depression so terrible in Great Britain, France and basically throughout the entire world? Golden Fetters, by my colleague Barry Eichengreen, gives a definitive explanation of the role that the gold standard played in transmitting the shocks centred in the US to lots of other countries. The basic story is that if something happened in the US that pushed up our interest rates or pushed down our prices, it would draw gold from other countries toward the US. In the Depression, other countries were worried about their gold reserves and they didn't want gold to flow toward the US. So they basically had to have a monetary contraction as well. You saw countries deliberately pushing up interest rates to try to prevent gold from flowing out of their economies. Golden Fetters explains that because of the gold standard, a monetary shock in the US led to a worldwide monetary contraction. Eichengreen shows that a bad economic idea can have devastating consequences. The fact that policymakers throughout the world were determined to remain on the gold standard caused them to follow the US into the Great Depression.

At the time of the Great Depression, did economists understand the downsides of the gold standard and warn against it? Or did people only come to understand it in retrospect? There were some who understood and warned about the downsides, but largely its flaws were realised in retrospect. The gold standard is a bit like the euro today. It worked quite well during the good times of the late 1800s and early 1900s, just as the euro worked quite well before the financial crisis. Policymakers tended to think it would always work well. Eichengreen argues that the gold standard worked well in its heyday because countries played by the rules and the Bank of England was an effective worldwide manager of the system. But after the gold standard broke down during the First World War, economists and policymakers were slow to realise when they tried to restore it that it might not work as well, especially in the face of enormous shocks in the US.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #19)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:55 AM

30. Probably better, is "Confidence Men", by Ron Suskind.

Also based on many inside interviews, including Obama.

Summers was absolutely convinced he was the smartest man in the room, and made sure everyone knew it.

Geithner is a little back-stabbing weasel. When Obama told him to have Treasury break up Citi, Timmeh, pretty much ignored him, and slow walked it to oblivion. Months later, when Obama asked how the plan was coming on the break-up (Geithner wasn't at this meeting), Romer said, "Mr. President, there isn't one". Obama hit the ceiling, and screamed that there had better be one. After the meeting, Rahm chewed her a new asshole for saying that, without poor Timmeh being there to defend himself.

Eventually, most of the team left. The only ones who seem to have had any integrity were Romer and Gensler, who seems to have had a genuine "come to Jesus experience" after his wife died. And Summers was always back-biting Orszag, Romer and Gensler. And he became like a spoiled, petulant, brat after he didn't get the Fed Chair nomination, that he thought Obama had promised him. He then demanded cabinet-level perks, and almost total control over domestic policy. Everything had to go through him. Even Emmanuel couldn't control him.

The book also points out that Obama was incapable of making a stand, or a decision on virtually anything. To wit: Health Insurance reform. He let Baucus hijack it.

In a private conversation, Summers tells Orszag, "You know, we're home alone". There are no adults in charge.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:15 AM

20. just for fun... Oscars 2012: Worst dressed

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/02/26/oscars_2012_worst_dressed.DTL



Ethan Miller / Getty Images
Rooney Mara's architectural look, which featured short bangs and a white Givenchy gown, was a bit harsh. It was a departure from her usual black, but the stacked bondage straps in the back were just too much.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/02/26/oscars_2012_worst_dressed.DTL#ixzz1naV671B2

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Response to xchrom (Reply #20)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:24 AM

22. She looks like she's wrapped in those cheap paper napkins found in diners

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Response to Demeter (Reply #22)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:26 AM

23. yeah -- not a great look. nt

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Response to xchrom (Reply #20)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:50 AM

29. There were odd gowns



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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:29 AM

24. Surge in temp workers reflects fundamental change in American workplace

http://www.washingtonpost.com/new-jobs-fueled-by-temp-workers/2012/02/07/gIQAiSUEKR_story.html

THAT'S ONE WAY TO STOP A UNION FROM FORMING...I THINK IT FUNDAMENTALLY SHOWS THAT WHAT "BUSINESS" IS DOING IS EXTRACTING WEALTH, NOT BUILDING IT.

The nation’s unemployment rate is falling faster than expected, but what counts as a job has become increasingly murky.

More than a quarter of people who have found jobs since the recession ended have landed in temporary positions, according to government data, though private estimates range far higher. The numbers reflect a fundamental change in the way Americans work, with neither businesses nor their employees expecting to stay together for life.

That is raising new questions about the sustainability of the drop in the unemployment rate as workers cycle through jobs more quickly. It also leaves them more vulnerable to cycles of boom and bust — temporary workers are usually the first hired and first fired — and forces them to shoulder the responsibility of paying for health care and retirement.

“By definition, a good job was with a big company with big benefits where you could expect to work for your whole life,” said Carl Camden, chief executive of Kelly Services, one of the nation’s largest staffing firms. “The social benefits system relies on almost everybody working in a quote-unquote job. That’s not the case now.”

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:35 AM

25. Geithner Bond Returns Trail Paulson While Beating Rubin

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-02-22/geithner-bond-returns-trail-paulson-while-beating-rubin.html

Timothy F. Geithner, who took over the Treasury Department in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and oversaw the almost doubling of U.S. public debt, has done better for investors than Robert Rubin while falling short of Henry Paulson. Since Geithner assumed office in January 2009, returns on Treasuries have exceeded bonds of other countries by 0.3 percentage point on an annualized rate, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data. That’s less than Paulson’s 7.5 percentage points. Under Rubin, returns on Treasuries lagged behind foreign issues by 1.6 points...Bond yields and the government’s average cost to borrow have fallen to record lows, making it cheaper to finance the nation’s $1.3 trillion budget deficit than in all but six of the last 24 years. Geithner, who said he wouldn’t be asked to remain in his post should President Barack Obama win the November election, presided over the loss of the nation’s AAA credit rating and the growth of the nation’s debt to $10 trillion from $5.75 trillion.

“It’s been an environment where you don’t have a script to go by,” said Sean Simko, who manages $8 billion of bonds at SEI Investments Co. in Oaks, Pennsylvania, in a telephone interview Feb. 13. “He’s made and had to make many difficult choices throughout his tenure. The end result shows the U.S. has kept its integrity in the bond market.” DEFINE INTEGRITY. During Geithner’s term the U.S. has run the first three $1 trillion budget deficits in its history, contributing to the decision by Standard & Poor’s to lower the U.S. credit rating to AA+, the first time the U.S. hasn’t had the top credit rating. Borrowing rose to more than $2.1 trillion in each of the last three years from $922 billion in 2008.

The economy, recovering from the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009, is expected to grow 2.2 percent this year according to the median forecast of 89 economists in a Bloomberg News survey, below the average growth rate for the terms of Rubin from 1995 to 1999, Lawrence Summers from 1999 to 2001 and John Snow in 2003 to 2006. “Over the last 25 years, I do not think any Secretary of the Treasury has faced the challenges that we’ve faced in the last four years,” Mary Miller, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for financial markets, said in a telephone interview Feb. 17. “We are doing everything we can to protect what is really a national resource, which is a very, very safe, liquid, deep market.” (SOUNDS LIKE "HE'S DEAD, JIM" TO ME!)

Average Maturity

Geithner’s Treasury has kept bond yields around record lows and demand for government securities at all time highs. His lengthening of the average maturity of U.S. debt to 62.8 months, the longest since 2002 under Paul O’Neill, may shore up credit quality and depress yields amid contained inflation, according to Steven Lear, deputy chief investment officer of fixed income at JP Morgan Asset Management, which oversees $150 billion in fixed income. Investors have embraced longer-duration securities, with the 30-year yield at 3.17 percent, compared with an average of 4.57 percent during the past decade. They bid a record $3.04 per dollar of debt for each of the $2.135 trillion of notes and bonds sold at auction in 2011, government data show. Treasuries returned 28.9 percent from July 2006 through January 2009, Paulson’s tenure under President George W. Bush, compared with 12.1 percent gains on non-U.S. sovereign debt. U.S. bonds gained 10.5 percent on an annualized basis during his term, the Bank of America indexes show...

MORE DROOLING ON TIMMY BY THE LAPDOGS OF THE 4TH ESTATE

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Response to Demeter (Reply #25)

Tue Feb 28, 2012, 11:17 AM

76. "the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009".......Really?????

The recession ended, huh?
News to me.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:45 AM

26. Could the American government default?

Last edited Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:23 AM - Edit history (1)

THE QUESTION IS NOT "COULD" BUT "SHOULD, UNDER WHICH CIRCUMSTANCES, AND IN WHICH MANNER," BECAUSE IT'S NOT as if THE US HAS NEVER DEFAULTED BEFORE...

http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2012/02/fiscal-crisis

WHILE Greece continues to inch its way towards a deal with its EU partners, the creditors of a much-larger debtor, the US government, appear to be untroubled. Ten-year Treasury bonds still yield just 2%. But the issue of how the US addresses its long-term fiscal problems is, as yet, unresolved. A series of papers from the Mercatus Centre at George Mason University in Washington DC, called “Tipping Point Scenarios and Crash Dynamics” attempts to address the issue. The academics seem to agree that the long-term position is unsustainable – that not all of the promises made by the government will be met. But in terms of the actual outcome, you pays your money and takes your choice.

Peter Wallison takes the (fairly widespread) view that a government with debt denominated in its own currency and with access to the printing press will not default on its debt. But he can still envisage a crisis in which repeated failure by politicians to tackle the debt burden means that investors eventually conclude that the debt will be inflated away. This will lead to a weaker dollar, higher prices for commodities and other real assets and a wage-price spiral. Foreign creditors may only be willing to lend to the US in renminbi, rather than dollars. Such a crisis will finally push Washington into putting its finances in order.

Garett Jones thinks that neither outright default nor inflation is likely, in paper because the markets would see such an outcome coming and push interest rates up to prohibitive levels. Furthermore, Americans will be able to see the messy state of Europe and will resolve to avoid the same outcome. Thus a massive deficit-cutting deal will be achieved although Mr Jones thinks this is more likely under the Democrats than the Republicans, because of the latter’s anti-tax philosophy.Bondholders, concerned about principal, not principle, will see the GOP as the key political barrier to repayment.

In contrast, Arnold Kling argues that neither Democrats nor Republicans will be willing to compromise because of the effect on their electoral prospects. However, a negotiated default would bring in the IMF to broker a deal, which would inevitably involve both tax rises and spending cuts. The external guidelines would give both (parties) political cover to vote for compromises that would otherwise anger their bases.

Perhaps the most provocative paper comes from Jeffrey Rogers Hummel who reasons that default is virtually inevitable because a)federal tax revenue will never consistently rise much above 20% of GDP, b)politicians have little incentive to come up with the requisite expenditure cuts in time and c)monetary expansion and its accompanying inflation will no more be able to close the fiscal gap than would an excise tax on chewing gum. Most controversially, he argues that The long-term consequences (of default), both economic and political, could be beneficial, and the more complete the repudiation, the greater the benefits. Why does he take this view? One allows for the Treasuries owned by the Fed, the trust funds and foreigners, total default could cost the US private sector about $4 trillion. In contrast, the fall in the stockmarket from 2007 to 2008 cost around $10 trillion. In compensation, however, the US taxpayer would no longer have to service the debt; their future liabilities would be lower. If Ricardian equivalence holds even approximately, then the decline in the value of Treasuries should be mostly offset by an eventual rise in the total value of both privately issued assets, such as shares of stock and corporate bonds, and expected future wage income.

I am not so sure about this. If the US government defaults, most US borrowers will surely face higher borrowing costs especially as the banks are relying on an explicit and implicit guarantee from the government on their liabilities. Mr Hummel refers to the relatively short-lived effects of widespread defaults in the 1840s (after a canal-building boom). While I am all in favour of learning from history, the financial system was rather less sophisticated (and less leveraged) at that point....But Mr Hummel doesn’t stop there. The 1840s defaults were followed by greater fiscal discipline at the state level. Default would also be a good thing, he argues since government would be forced to renege on its social security and Medicare promises.

Reliance upon these government promises constitutes a particularly egregious form of fiscal illusion….The best way to alleviate future suffering is to repeatedly and emphatically warn the American people that these programs will go under. The more accurately people anticipate this inevitable outcome, the better prepared they will be.


So there are your choices. Default on the debt in real terms via inflation, default in nominal terms or break the promises made to future benefit recipients. Not an appealing menu but an indication of the likely political battles over the next 10-20 years.




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Response to Demeter (Reply #26)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 12:17 PM

63. Mercatus Center @ GMU - Not a reliable source.

Free market ideologues.

(Of course, they could still be right, but I wouldn't bet on it.)

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Response to philly_bob (Reply #63)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 12:29 PM

64. It no longer matters if anyone is CORRECT

all that matters is who is making the decision, and to whom do they look for information and guidance.

In other words, we're freaking doomed.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #26)

Tue Feb 28, 2012, 11:25 AM

77. I'll take "break the promises made to future benefit recipients" for 800.00, Alex.

Since Europe is using the IMF as an excuse to impose pain on citizens there,
politicians here would value the same cover.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 08:49 AM

27. Krugman: How Europe's Leaders Tanked its Economy Through Moralizing and the Austerity Fantasy

http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/805629/krugman%3A_how_europe%27s_leaders_tanked_its_economy_through_moralizing_and_the_austerity_fantasy/#paragraph4

Pain Without Gain By PAUL KRUGMAN


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/20/opinion/krugman-pain-without-gain.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Last week the European Commission confirmed what everyone suspected: the economies it surveys are shrinking, not growing. It’s not an official recession yet, but the only real question is how deep the downturn will be.

And this downturn is hitting nations that have never recovered from the last recession. For all America’s troubles, its gross domestic product has finally surpassed its pre-crisis peak; Europe’s has not. And some nations are suffering Great Depression-level pain: Greece and Ireland have had double-digit declines in output, Spain has 23 percent unemployment, Britain’s slump has now gone on longer than its slump in the 1930s.

Worse yet, European leaders — and quite a few influential players here — are still wedded to the economic doctrine responsible for this disaster.

For things didn’t have to be this bad. Greece would have been in deep trouble no matter what policy decisions were taken, and the same is true, to a lesser extent, of other nations around Europe’s periphery. But matters were made far worse than necessary by the way Europe’s leaders, and more broadly its policy elite, substituted moralizing for analysis, fantasies for the lessons of history...

MORE AT BOTH LINKS

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 09:09 AM

32. U.S. job quality is in trouble

 


-snip-

With almost 13 million unemployed workers, competition is intense, and some workers with new jobs are taking cuts in pay and responsibilities. Henry Farber, an economist at Princeton University in New Jersey, studied employment in the Great Recession, and found that job losers who found new positions earned on average 17.5% less in the new job.


Job gains during early part of recovery were greatest in lower-wage occupations. A "Now Hiring" sign seen in front of a McDonald's recently in Fair Oaks, Virginia.
With persistent high unemployment, there’s downward pressure on wage growth.

“Employers know workers don’t have outside options. If your employer knows you don’t have outside options, it reduces your bargaining power,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-job-quality-is-in-trouble-2012-02-27?dist=beforebell

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 09:17 AM

33. Asian markets fall on global growth concerns

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/0227/breaking3.html

Asian shares fell this morning as high oil prices raised concerns about global growth, while signs of fresh steps from major economies to contain the euro zone debt crisis underpinned the euro.

Amidst global growth concerns, MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.7 per cent, led by a 1.5 per cent drop in the materials sector. Chinese shares bucked the trend, with car makers up after Beijing excluded foreign brands in an early list of models approved for state buying this year.

Japan's Nikkei average pared early gains to stand barely changed, after touching a seven-month high as a weaker yen aided battered exporters.

Financial spreadbetters expected major European markets to open down 0.2 to 0.3 per cent.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 09:26 AM

34. Why the Media Loves the Violence of Protesters and Not of Banks

http://www.alternet.org/story/154235/why_the_media_loves_the_violence_of_protesters_and_not_of_banks?page=entire

The grand thieves invented ever more ingenious methods to crush the hopes and livelihoods of the many. This is the terrible violence that Occupy was formed to oppose... The Occupy movement had its glorious honeymoon when old and young, liberal and radical, comfortable and desperate, homeless and tenured all found that what they had in common was so compelling the differences hardly seemed to matter. Until they did...Revolutions are always like this: at first all men are brothers and anything is possible, and then, if you’re lucky, the romance of that heady moment ripens into a relationship, instead of a breakup, an abusive marriage, or a murder-suicide. Occupy had its golden age, when those who never before imagined living side-by-side with homeless people found themselves in adjoining tents in public squares. All sorts of other equalizing forces were present, not least the police brutality that battered the privileged the way that inner-city kids are used to being battered all the time. Part of what we had in common was what we were against: the current economy and the principle of insatiable greed that made it run, as well as the emotional and economic privatization that accompanied it.

This is a system that damages people, and its devastation was on display as never before in the early months of Occupy and related phenomena like the “We are the 99%” website. When it was people facing foreclosure, or who’d lost their jobs, or were thrashing around under avalanches of college or medical debt, they weren’t hard to accept as us, and not them.
And then came the people who’d been damaged far more, the psychologically fragile, the marginal, and the homeless -- some of them endlessly needy and with a huge capacity for disruption. People who had come to fight the power found themselves staying on to figure out available mental-health resources, while others who had wanted to experience a democratic society on a grand scale found themselves trying to solve sanitation problems.

And then there was the violence...The most important direct violence Occupy faced was, of course, from the state, in the form of the police using maximum sub-lethal force on sleepers in tents, mothers with children, unarmed pedestrians, young women already penned up, unresisting seated students, poets, professors, pregnant women, wheelchair-bound occupiers, and octogenarians. It has been a sustained campaign of police brutality from Wall Street to Washington State the likes of which we haven’t seen in 40 years...On the part of activists, there were also a few notable incidents of violence in the hundreds of camps, especially violence against women. The mainstream media seemed to think this damned the Occupy movement, though it made the camps, at worst, a whole lot like the rest of the planet, which, in case you hadn’t noticed, seethes with violence against women. But these were isolated incidents.

That old line of songster Woody Guthrie is always handy in situations like this: “Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.” The police have been going after occupiers with projectile weapons, clubs, and tear gas, sending some of them to the hospital and leaving more than a few others traumatized and fearful. That’s the six-gun here. But it all began with the fountain pens, slashing through peoples’ lives, through national and international economies, through the global markets. These were wielded by the banksters, the “vampire squid,” the deregulators in D.C., the men -- and with the rarest of exceptions they were men -- who stole the world. That’s what Occupy came together to oppose, the grandest violence by scale, the least obvious by impact. No one on Wall Street ever had to get his suit besmirched by carrying out a foreclosure eviction himself. Cities provided that service for free to the banks (thereby further impoverishing themselves as they created new paupers out of old taxpayers). And the police clubbed their opponents for them, over and over, everywhere across the United States...The grand thieves invented ever more ingenious methods, including those sliced and diced derivatives, to crush the hopes and livelihoods of the many. This is the terrible violence that Occupy was formed to oppose. Don’t ever lose sight of that.
......

Now here’s something astonishing. While the (OCCUPY OAKLAND) camp was in existence, crime went down 19% in Oakland, a statistic the city was careful to conceal. "It may be counter to our statement that the Occupy movement is negatively impacting crime in Oakland," the police chief wrote to the mayor in an email that local news station KTVU later obtained and released to little fanfare. Pay attention: Occupy was so powerful a force for nonviolence that it was already solving Oakland’s chronic crime and violence problems just by giving people hope and meals and solidarity and conversation. The police attacking the camp knew what the rest of us didn’t: Occupy was abating crime, including violent crime, in this gritty, crime-ridden city. “You gotta give them hope, “ said an elected official across the bay once upon a time -- a city supervisor named Harvey Milk. Occupy was hope we gave ourselves, the dream come true. The city did its best to take the hope away violently at 5 a.m. on October 25th. The sleepers were assaulted; their belongings confiscated and trashed. Then, Occupy Oakland rose again. Many thousands of nonviolent marchers shut down the Port of Oakland in a stunning display of popular power on November 2nd....Those who advocate for nonviolence at Occupy should remember that nonviolence is at best a great spirit of love and generosity, not a prissy enforcement squad. After all, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who gets invoked all the time when such issues come up, didn’t go around saying grumpy things about Malcolm X and the Black Panthers.

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

TomDispatch regular Rebecca Solnit is the author of 13 (or so) books, including A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster and Hope in the Dark. She lives in and occupies from San Francisco.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #34)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 09:50 AM

39. Lessons From the National Teach-In: “No Substitute” for an Energized Citizenry By Isaiah J. Poole

http://www.nationofchange.org/lessons-national-teach-no-substitute-energized-citizenry-1330270329

Thousands of people who tuned into Tuesday night's "National Teach-In to Take Back the American Dream" got a remarkable one-hour tutorial on how the economy collapsed, and with it the economic security of millions of working Americans. They also received a sobering reminder that the political system that set the stage for the collapse can't be counted on to repair the damage without persistent demands from We the People.

"Grassroots mobilization and an energized citizenry, there is just no substitute for it," said Robert Reich, University of California at Berkeley professor and former Labor secretary, during the special edition of "The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann," a daily television talk show that airs on Free Speech TV and RT TV. The teach-in was a partnership between the Campaign for America's Future, Rebuild the Dream and Free Speech TV. It was billed as a show that would "tell the real story of the financial crisis"—and it did so at times in blunt terms.

Robert Borosage, fielding the first question from host Thom Hartmann, said that the economy was facing headwinds in the months before the onset of the 2008 financial crash, but "what drove the economy off the cliff … was not an accident. It was a crime." Specifically, a financial sector aided and abetted by lawmakers in both political parties went on a "wilding" spree as deregulation left their quest for profit by any means necessary unrestrained. Heather McGhee, Washington director for Demos, said that while Wall Street was milking all it could from the bubble-and-bust economy, middle-class families were seeing their income growth stagnating. With all of the income gains of the past decade flowing to the people at the top of the income scale, "you have an economy running on fumes." Businessman Leo Hindery added that the 2009 Recovery Act stimulus as clearly the right kind of response to arrest the free fall that the economy was experiencing when President Obama took office. And it did some good. "I'm not of the school that it was a total failure," he said. In fact, the problem with the stimulus bill was that it was too small, he said, and not focused enough on outright job creation. Natalie Foster, co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, noted that in the wake of the economic crash "the dialogue was about cuts, cuts cuts instead of talking about creating jobs." But, she added, "you're starting to see the conversation shift."Some of the credit for that shift, the teach-in participants agreed, goes to the Occupy movement, and it is that movement's exercise of passionate, determined and wholly people-powered protest that holds one of the keys to bringing economic and political change in the months ahead.

"I am an optimist," Reich said, because at every point in American history when regressive forces were poised to move the country backward, an even stronger progressive wave rose up in response, whether it was the Gilded Age of the early 20th century, the Depression of the 1960s. "So it will happen. The question is how we are going to make it happen," he said. Hindery, however, countered that "that was all before Citizens United" and "the tsunami of money" from corporate interests that is now drenching the political process in an unprecedented fashion. Because of the threat that money poses to the balance of power between wealthy interests and ordinary Americans, "I am less optimistic than I've ever been in my life."..."Citizens United was a wake-up call to people," McGhee said, explaining her own optimism. Through the aftermath of that case, more people are seeing that "it's not that government is too big, it was who was paying for it." That is fueling the fight for such measures as the Disclose Act, federal legislation that would require corporations to disclose their political contributions, and a proposed constitutional amendment that would clarify that corporations do not have the same political speech rights as individuals...

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Response to Demeter (Reply #39)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 09:52 AM

40. Occupy the SEC: Former Wall Street Workers Defend Volcker Rule Against Banks' VIDEO REPORT

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Response to Demeter (Reply #39)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:41 AM

51. How to Ask Candidates Questions That Make a Difference By Fran Korten

http://www.nationofchange.org/how-ask-candidates-questions-make-difference-1330183291

The Occupy movement has changed the political conversation. But will it make a difference in what politicians actually do? We can help—through the questions we ask. Our political discourse now regularly includes references to inequality, corporate power, and Wall Street excess. The challenge now is to press for policies that can help the 99 percent. So when candidates show up at political and professional meetings, hold fundraisers, or are on the radio, we can ask questions that put forward policy ideas. And with the changed political environment, those ideas can be ones that just a few months ago might have seemed entirely out of bounds.

These opportunities only work well if we craft our question carefully. Because we want to build momentum for new ideas, the audience for our question is not just the candidate, but also the others who hear our question. Here are some dos and don’ts for asking questions that can help us all take advantage of this political moment.


  • Ask your question in a way that can be heard

  • Sound reasonable. You don’t want to raise hackles or just get written off. No need to say “Well, Wall Street executives will hate this idea, but….”

  • Be yourself. Bring in a relevant personal example that people can relate to. Mention something that happened to you, your relative, or friend, but keep your example short.

  • Use ordinary language. If you need to use an unfamiliar term (such as the Financial Transaction Tax, in my example below), explain it briefly. Don’t turn people off with jargon.

  • Be succinct. You don’t want people feeling you took too much air time. Best to keep your question under a minute. But don’t talk fast to squeeze in more. You want everyone to understand what you’re saying.

  • Use your question to move an idea forward--Put forward an idea rather than asking a general question. If you ask how the politician will create jobs—he/she will have a stock answer that you’ve probably heard before. Instead, ask his/her views about an idea you think will create jobs.

  • Frame your idea in terms of a goal most people want to reach (strong communities, fair elections, good schools). You want to interest the politician and the audience right off the bat.

  • Be sure your question is relevant to that politician’s level of decision-making. Thus, don’t ask a national politician something that’s handled at the state or local level or vice versa.

  • Mention the benefits of the idea you are putting forward. E.g. it generates revenue or improves the environment. But don’t exaggerate those benefits. You don’t want people to dismiss your idea because you made it sound like a silver bullet.

  • Ask the politician for his or her stand on the issue, but not in a way that can be answered yes or no. You want to open an exploration. Thus, don’t say “Would you vote for this?” Instead ask “What is your view about this?”



Now let me apply these dos and don’ts to a few fresh ideas.


  • For a national candidate:

    “I think many of us are concerned that the government is having to cut back on important services like education and veterans benefits because we don’t have the money. I’ve heard one solution is something called a Financial Transaction Tax. As I understand it, it’s a small tax on trades on Wall Street. I read that if we taxed each trade just a quarter of one percent that could raise about $150 billion a year. What is your view on the Financial Transaction Tax?”


  • For a state candidate:

    “I’m really concerned about the number of people unemployed in our state. It’s been hard to watch my sister search for a job for over a year. I’ve heard it would help if our state had a state-owned bank. I’ve read that North Dakota has a state-owned bank—and it runs a budget surplus and has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. The state bank partners with community banks and together they’ve kept credit flowing to farmers and local businesses throughout this recession. What do you think about our state creating its own bank?”


  • For a county candidate:

    “I’m concerned our neighborhoods are deteriorating because of all the foreclosures. I read that in California, the auditors in one county checked the documents on a sample of foreclosures and found that the big majority had fraudulent elements. Their investigation has slowed down the foreclosures. What would you think about conducting such an audit in our county?”




    Now it’s your turn. If you like this approach, think of an issue you care about. Do you have a positive solution you want to bring forth—especially one that might have traction in our current political environment? Can you express your idea in less than a minute? Can your Uncle John understand what you’re asking? Once you have crafted some good questions, use one the next time you have a chance to question a politician. See what happens. Share your own dos and don’ts, examples, or experiences in the comments below.

    Let’s use this political season to get some good ideas moving from talk to policy.

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

    Fran Korten wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Fran is YES! Magazine's publisher.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 09:35 AM

35. DOWN 68 PTS AT OPEN

I think the beer hangover just set in....

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Response to Demeter (Reply #35)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:29 AM

57. in the black now. all's well!

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 09:41 AM

36. Chicago: Charter Schools Collect Almost $400,000 in Discipline “fees” By Susan Ferriss

http://www.nationofchange.org/chicago-charter-schools-collect-almost-400000-discipline-fees-1330274203

Would you pay $5 as a penalty for your kid neglecting to have shoelaces tied at school?

Chicago is buzzing over a controversial practice aimed at forcing inner-city school kids to follow rules. The Noble Network of Charter Schools, which has received high praise from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is charging its mostly low-income students five bucks for violating certain rules, which reportedly include bringing “flaming hot” potato chips to school, chewing gum and falling asleep in class.

A group of parents whose kids attend Noble’s 10 Chicago charter high schools rose up this month to publicly object to the practice, which they are denouncing as both overkill and a cynical way for the company to collect extra money, according to reports in the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets.

Some parents also allege the practice is used to push out kids the schools would rather not have. The Tribune has a chart showing the charter’s graduation rates but also its high rate of non-returning students.

At news conferences, parents and a group called Parents United for Responsible Education said they obtained documents showing that Noble has collected almost $400,000 in fines from families since the 2008-2009 academic year. Noble calls the charges “fees,” not fines. Last year, the charter company raked in almost $190,000 in fines for infractions and $140 fees for summer behavior classes some repeat offenders are required to take...

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Response to Demeter (Reply #36)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:16 AM

45. Oh, it could be worse.

Kids forced to clean restrooms for discipline. Recruiting for Scientology. All on the tax dollar.


http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/controversy-over-scientology-influence-clouds-future-of-pinellas-charter/1217239


Controversy over Scientology influence clouds future of Pinellas charter school

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Sunday, February 26, 2012

DUNEDIN — One Friday afternoon in December, leaders of a tax-funded elementary school called Life Force Arts and Technology Academy shepherded students into a Scientology church in Tampa's Ybor Square.

The children were fed candy and pizza, given Scientology books and DVDs, and shown a performance of a play written by Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Some posed for photos with Santa Claus in front of a silver Scientology cross.

It was, as Life Force leaders had promised, a Christmas party, the school's first since a small Clearwater company called Art of Management had been hired to reorganize the school as it filed for bankruptcy.

Though company president Hanan Islam was also executive director of the World Literacy Crusade, a California organization that promotes Scientology study methods, she had reassured parents then that her group would "not push any religion" at the school.
-----------------------------------------------------------

Clearwater is the World HQ for the cult. They own half of downtown, and now they're getting into education.

Every now and then I ride my bike down through Clearwater, headed for lunch or something at Clearwater Beach, and just watch all the little zombies wandering around, same blank glazed look on their face, all dressed alike.

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Response to Fuddnik (Reply #45)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:25 AM

48. Jeezus!

And I mean that reverently...

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Response to Fuddnik (Reply #45)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:41 AM

50. ...

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Response to Fuddnik (Reply #45)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:58 AM

60. That's fucked up. n/t

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Response to Demeter (Reply #36)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:20 AM

55. The cartoon has it wrong - it's not D vs R

It's students/parents/teachers vs the 1% and their political lackeys - witness Obama, Rahm, Cuomo to name just a few off the top of my head.

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Response to bread_and_roses (Reply #55)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:23 AM

56. As per my post #45

It's definitely a bi-partisan effort.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 09:47 AM

37. Preparing for the Collapse of the Petrodollar System

http://www.financialsense.com/contributors/jerry-robinson/preparing-for-the-collapse-of-the-petrodollar-system

This article will begin with a look back at the important events of the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference which firmly established the U.S. Dollar as the global reserve currency. Then we will examine the events that led up the 1971 Nixon Shock when the United States abandoned the international gold standard. We will then consider what may be the most brillant economic and geo-political strategy devised in recent memory, the petrodollar system. Finally, we conclude by examining the latest challenges facing U.S. economic policy around the globe and how the petrodollar system influences our foreign policy efforts in oil-rich nations. The collapse of the petrodollar system, which I believe will occur sometime within this decade, will make the 1971 Nixon Shock look like a dress rehearsal.


/snip

He seems to think it will end badly.

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Response to TalkingDog (Reply #37)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 09:55 AM

41. Ponzi schemes always do

About time you showed up! How are you?

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Response to Demeter (Reply #41)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:13 AM

44. Less harried than last semester. But garden season is ramping up...

Still, I'd rather be playing in the dirt than teaching college students how to use a ruler (seriously.... do not know how to use a ruler).

Always here, but too busy to do much but lurk. I'm keeping up with you guys. Wouldn't miss it.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 09:49 AM

38. No big pickup in job growth in 2012, forecasters say

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-economic-outlook-20120226,0,5491303.story

The recent acceleration in hiring may have brightened consumers' spirits and the recovery's outlook, but professional forecasters still see just moderate growth ahead for jobs and the economy.

In their latest outlook, forecasters at the National Assn. for Business Economics said they expect job growth to average 170,000 a month this year. That's up from the 127,000 that the group's panel projected for 2012 in November.

Even so, if the new forecast to be released Monday pans out, many people are likely to be disappointed.

The economy added 203,000 net new jobs in December and 243,000 last month. That knocked down the unemployment rate to a three-year low of 8.3% and raised hopes that the hiring momentum may be building. The February jobs report comes out March 9.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:00 AM

42. REVEALED: Romney’s Top Funders Made Billions on Auto Bail-Out By Greg Palast

http://www.nationofchange.org/revealed-romney-s-top-funders-made-billions-auto-bail-out-1330019614

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the federal government’s 2009 bail-out of the auto industry, “nothing more than crony capitalism, Obama style... a reward for his big donors to his campaign." In fact, the biggest rewards ­­– a windfall of more than two billion dollars care of U.S. taxpayers ­­­–– went to Romney's two top contributors.

John Paulson of Paulson & Co and Paul Singer of Elliott International, known on Wall Street as “vulture” investors, have each written checks for one million dollars to Restore Our Future, the Super PAC supporting Romney’s candidacy.

The two hedge fund operators turned a breathtaking three-thousand percent profit on a relatively negligible investment by using hardball tactics against the U.S. Treasury and their own employees.

Gov. Romney last week asserted that the Obama Administration’s support for General Motors was a, “payoff for the auto workers union.” However, union workers in GM’s former auto parts division, Delphi, the unit taken over by Romney’s funders, did not fair so well. The speculators eliminated every single union job from the parts factories once manned by 25,200 UAW members.

Under the control of the speculators, Delphi, which had 45 plants in the U.S. and Canada, is now reduced to just four factories with only 1,500 hourly workers, none of them UAW members, despite the union agreeing to cut contract wages by two thirds.

It wasn’t supposed to be quite so bad. The Obama Administration and GM had arranged for a private equity investor to provide half a billion dollars in new capital for Delphi, but that would have cut the pay-out to Singer and Paulson. The speculators blocked the Obama-GM plan, taking the entire government bail-out hostage. Even the Wall Street Journal’s Dealmaker column was outraged, accusing Paul Singer of treating the auto company, “like a third world country.”

But it worked. Singer and Paulson got what they demanded. Using U.S. Treasury funds:

  • GM agreed to pay off $1.1 billion of Delphi’s debts,
  • Forgave $2.15 billion owed GM by Delphi (which had been spun off as an independent company)
  • Pumped $1.75 billion into Delphi operations, and
  • Took over four money-losing plants that the speculators didn’t want.


    If those plants had been closed, GM factories would have shut down cold for lack of parts.

    Then there was the big one: The U.S. government agreed to take over $6.2 billion in pension benefits due Delphi workers under U.S. labor law.

    Governor Romney, while opposing the bail-out of GM, accused Obama of eliminating the pensions of 21,000 non-union employees at Delphi. In fact, it was Romney’s funders who wiped out 100% of the pensions and health care accounts of Delphi salaried retirees­­.
    Paulson and Singer paid an average of about 67 cents a share for Delphi. In November, 2011, Paulson sold a chunk of his holdings for $22 a share. Paulson’s gain totals a billion and a half dollars ($1,499,499,000), and Singer gained nearly a billion ($899,751,000) –– thirty-two times their investment.

    One-hundred percent of this gain for the Paulson and Singer hedge funds is accounted for by taxpayer bail-out support.

    But, unlike the government loans and worker concessions given to GM, the U.S. Treasury and workers get nothing in return from Delphi.

    From GM, the U.S. Treasury got warrants for common stock (similar to options) that have already produced billions in profit.

    And Delphi? It’s doing well for Paulson and Singer. GM and Chrysler, still in business by the grace of the U.S. Treasury, remain Delphi’s main customers, buying parts now made almost entirely in China and other cheap-labor nations.

    And exactly who are Paulson and Singer?

    Billionaire John Paulson became the first man in history to earn over $3 billion in a single year –– not for his hedge fund, but for himself, personally. At the core of this huge payday was a 2007 scheme by which, via Goldman Sachs, he sold “insurance” on subprime mortgage loans. According to a lawsuit filed by the Securities Exchange Commission, Goldman defrauded European banks by pretending that Paulson was investing in the insurance. In fact, Paulson was, secretly, the beneficiary of the insurance, reaping billions when the mortgage market collapsed.


    Goldman paid half a billion dollars in civil fines for the fraud. While the SEC states that Paulson knowingly participated in the scheme, he was not fined and denies he defrauded the banks.

    Multi-billionaire Singer is known as Wall Street’s toughest “vulture” speculator. Vulture fund financial attacks on the world’s poorest nations have been effectively outlawed in much of Europe and excoriated by human rights groups, conduct Britain’s former Prime Minister Gordon Brown described as, “morally outrageous.”

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

    Greg Palast has been investigating vulture speculator Paul Singer for BBC Television Newsnight and Britain’s Guardian for five years. The investigative reporter is author of Vultures’ Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores and the New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. For reports on Singer and vulture funds, go to www.GregPalast.com and www.VulturesPicnic.org.

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

    This article is a NationofChange original and is available for republishing under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:02 AM

    43. Warren Buffett: ‘It Is A Myth’ That U.S. Corporate Taxes Are High

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/02/27/432749/buffett-corporate-tax-myth/

    2012 GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal today to lay out his economic plan, reiterating his desire to cut the corporate tax rate in order to “restore America’s competitiveness.” During an interview on CNBC, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, in response to Santorum’s piece, noted that is is actually “a myth” that America’s corporate taxes are high. “Corporate taxes are not strangling American competitiveness,” Buffett explained, even bringing a chart to prove his point:

    'The interesting thing about the corporate rate is that corporate profits, as a percentage of GDP last year were the highest or just about the highest in the last 50 years. They were ten and a fraction percent of GDP. That’s higher than we’ve seen in 50 years. The corporate taxes as a percentage of GDP were 1.2 percent, $180 billion. That’s just about the lowest we’ve seen. So our corporate tax rate last year, effectively, in terms of taxes paid for the United States, was around 12 percent, which is well below those existing in most of the industrialized countries around the world. So it is a myth that American corporations are paying 35 percent or anything like it…Corporate taxes are not strangling American competitiveness.'


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    Response to xchrom (Reply #43)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:19 AM

    47. Tell that to all these Republicans who want to cut the rate!

    Oh, wait.

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    Response to Fuddnik (Reply #47)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:27 AM

    49. you read my mind

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    Response to Fuddnik (Reply #47)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 02:19 PM

    71. yup - (n/t)

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:16 AM

    46. Despite Dangers, China Is Hot

    http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424052748703754104577237320530238172.html?mod=BOLFeed

    Investors have plowed nearly as much money into emerging-market funds this year as they have into bond funds, targeting surging stocks like Brazil's and India's over more staid investments. But they still must grapple with dangers to the biggest emerging economy: China.

    China's real-estate bubble, its declining current-account balance, deep exposure to Europe via exports and chance of encountering a hard economic landing are just a few of the dangers. The World Bank is warning that Beijing could face an economic crisis unless it enacts deep reforms, such as reining in powerful state-owned companies. China could be the sleeper problem of 2012. "China looks a very difficult story," Christian Thwaites, president and chief executive officer of Sentinel Asset Management, wrote to clients last week.

    But it's tough to hide from China in U.S. emerging-market exchange-traded funds. The country's economic heft gives it the top weighting in the two most popular U.S. ETFs. Plenty of investors are happy to take their chances. The $54 billion Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets exchange-traded fund (ticker: VWO), with a 17% China country weighting, has snared $5.4 billion in net new assets this year, more than any other U.S. ETF. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM), which is nearly 18% China, has pulled in a fourth-best $2.6 billion. The funds, which both track the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, have each gained roughly 16% this year, almost matching the benchmark's 15.6% rise and outpacing the 13% gain of Chinese stocks, as measured by the FTSE Xinhua 200.

    SOME INVESTORS ARE latching onto WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income (DEM), a fund that pays a hefty dividend and is less directly exposed to China. The $3.3 billion ETF has only a 3% China weighting, although its 21% tilt toward Taiwan's stocks removes some of the insulation.

    Its real difference lies in its 3.9% annual yield, which is roughly twice the payout of the other two big China-heavy ETFs. "It hits on the themes people are looking for," says Jeremy Schwartz, director of research at WisdomTree. "You've getting this growth basket that also has high income." The fund is up 13% this year. The fund has a 0.63% expense ratio, which Morningstar calls less expensive than other fundamentally weighted emerging-markets ETFs, but is still nearly three times the size of the Vanguard fund's.


    *** more a sales pitch than any thing else.
    i found the amount of money being invested interesting.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:43 AM

    52. Despite Fierce Opposition, IA, CT, NJ, NY are All Attempting to Raise the Minimum Wage

    http://wepartypatriots.com/wp/2012/02/27/despite-fierce-opposition-ia-ct-nj-ny-are-all-attempting-to-raise-the-minimum-wage/

    As states like Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, and New York are looking to raise the minimum wage, they are meeting opposition from well-funded political groups who seek to increase corporate profit. Despite the swath of misinformation painting the minimum wage is a “job killer,” John Stoher of The American Prospect points out that the minimum wage is not even growing at the speed of inflation:

    The federal minimum for an hourly wage was $3.35 in 1982 and now it’s $7.25, up 120 percent. Inflation, meanwhile, has climbed during that period by 135 percent.

    Surveys find that nearly two-thirds of Americans want the minimum wage to be at least 10 dollars. Historically, raises in the minimum wage never lead to unemployment and small businesses are not be affected. So where does such fierce opposition to it come from? Enter the Economic Policies Institute, a corporate-backed spreader of misinformation and propaganda that rakes in the money every time the minimum wage issue enters the political debate (this is not to be confused with the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank we often cite as legitimate).

    John Stoher looked at the corporate spin machine that is the Economic Policies Institute in his article:

    'One of the most active in the propaganda industry has been the Employment Policies Institute, a so-called think-tank in Washington that serves as a front for Richard Berman & Co., a lobbying firm for major corporations in the fast-food, alcohol, and tobacco industries. The Employment Policies Institute studies essentially say: Raising the minimum wage hurts minimum-wage earners. We know, we know. That sounds counter-intuitive, but trust us. We’re the experts.

    Recently, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver co-authored an op-ed in the New York Daily News making the demand-side case that New York City is expensive to live in and that minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation.'

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 10:49 AM

    53. Ronald Reagan: Tax the Rich!

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:19 AM

    54. China Congress of Billionaires Makes Capitol Hill Peers Look Like Paupers

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-26/china-s-billionaire-lawmakers-make-u-s-peers-look-like-paupers.html

    The richest 70 members of China’s legislature added more to their wealth last year than the combined net worth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, the president and his Cabinet, and the nine Supreme Court justices.

    The net worth of the 70 richest delegates in China’s National People’s Congress, which opens its annual session on March 5, rose to 565.8 billion yuan ($89.8 billion) in 2011, a gain of $11.5 billion from 2010, according to figures from the Hurun Report, which tracks the country’s wealthy. That compares to the $7.5 billion net worth of all 660 top officials in the three branches of the U.S. government.

    The income gain by NPC members reflects the imbalances in economic growth in China, where per capita annual income in 2010 was $2,425, less than in Belarus and a fraction of the $37,527 in the U.S. The disparity points to the challenges that China’s new generation of leaders, to be named this year, faces in countering a rise in social unrest fueled by illegal land grabs and corruption.

    “It is extraordinary to see this degree of a marriage of wealth and politics,” said Kenneth Lieberthal, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at Washington’s Brookings Institution. “It certainly lends vivid texture to the widespread complaints in China about an extreme inequality of wealth in the country now.”

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #54)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 12:44 PM

    66. What if the Next Steve Jobs is Chinese? By Dean Baker

    http://www.nationofchange.org/what-if-next-steve-jobs-chinese-1330272606

    ...He succeeded in developing products that people around the world very much want to buy. In this sense, Jobs stands out from the mediocrities that run most corporations and collect huge pay checks in the process. It may be some time before another innovator comes along who can match Steve Jobs record, but we constantly see companies developing new products, even if few will have the same impact as the iPod or iPad. The United States continues to be at the forefront in innovation, but this will likely not always be the case. It is worth asking whether we should care. This requires a clear-eyed assessment of the benefits to the country provided by innovators like Jobs...Apple has long outsourced to China and other countries virtually all of its manufacturing operations. Apple has absolutely not been a boon for U.S. manufacturing workers. Apple directly and indirectly employed tens of thousands of people in the software industry, either designing its new products or designing apps for them after they were invented. However it is not clear how much of this employment depends on the fact that Jobs happened to live in the United States. While the immediate group of engineers and designers tied to Apple might owe their employment to Job’s nationality, the much larger group of people who work designing apps for Apple products could do the same work regardless of where the original products were designed...The nationality of the next Steve Jobs is relevant to the list of issues that the United States pushes in its negotiations China. The media often portray the United States as having a set of complaints against China in which the whole country shares a common interest. This is not true. The list of complaints represents the interests of particular groups in the United States and in some cases they directly conflict. This is most obvious with the push to increase China’s enforcement of U.S. copyright and patent claims. This is a case where the interests of a narrow group who stand to benefit from increased royalties and licensing fees are pitted against the interest of the vast majority of people in the United States.

    This is the case for three reasons. First, at the most basic level we cannot just give China’s leaders a shopping list of complaints and expect them to act on all of them. Insofar as they make more concessions in one area, they will make fewer in other areas. In this case, we can assume a tradeoff between respect for U.S. copyrights and patents and progress in revaluing the yuan against the dollar. The more we succeed in getting China to respect Microsoft’s copyrights and Pfizer’s patents, the less we will succeed in lowering the dollar against the yuan. The continuation of the over-valued dollar will mean fewer exports and more imports, in other words fewer manufacturing jobs. So, the increased profits for Microsoft and Pfizer will come at the expense of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

    The second reason why there is a tradeoff is the simple economics of the situation. The greater the demand for dollars from China, the higher is the value of the dollar, other things equal. This means that that if the Chinese need more dollars to pay Microsoft and Pfizer for their software and prescription drugs, then their increased demand for dollars will drive up the price of the dollar relative to other currencies, making U.S.-manufactured goods less competitive. In other words there is both a political and directly economic reason that increased enforcement of U.S. intellectual property claims in China will cost manufacturing jobs in the United States.

    Finally, there is the question of flows of intellectual products going the other way. At the moment, the United States is a major net exporter of intellectual products; however, this is not always likely to be the case. China is already producing more college graduates with science and engineering degrees than the United States and the gap is certain to grow much larger over the next decade. It is only a matter of time before the volume of intellectual output from China to the U.S. exceeds the flow in the opposite direction. At that point, U.S. consumers would certainly benefit from weaker protection, since it would reduce the cost of products, although, it might be hard to justify a regime of weaker intellectual property protection after we have been pushing for a strong one for decades. In short, the demand that China have greater respect for U.S. intellectual property should be recognized as a demand of a narrow group of special interests, not a demand that serves the country as a whole. If the next Steve Jobs happens to be Chinese, she will be able to deliver just as many benefits to the world, and the United States, as the last Steve Jobs.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #66)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 01:01 PM

    67. +1

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:33 AM

    58. Get This--Santorum is calling Mich. Democrats to vote for him in primary on Tuesday

    because Romney didn't like the auto bailout, and that was a slap in the face for Michigan...

    (I'm voting in the GOP primary, for Ron Paul, and I'm not the only Democrat to do so. A plague on both their houses).

    Politics is ugly, but at least it isn't violent, most of the time....

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #58)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 11:46 AM

    59. Reality is beating on the door

    and I'm hungry.

    Also, Tuesday is the primary, where I get to try out being a precinct co-chair all day...do not expect to see me until Weds. Have a great day (defy them all).

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 12:12 PM

    61. I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/mac-mcclelland-free-online-shipping-warehouses-labor

    "Don't take anything that happens to you there personally," the woman at the local chamber of commerce says when I tell her that tomorrow I start working at Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide Inc. She winks at me. I stare at her for a second.

    "What?" I ask. "Why, is somebody going to be mean to me or something?"

    She smiles. "Oh, yeah." This town somewhere west of the Mississippi is not big; everyone knows someone or is someone who's worked for Amalgamated. "But look at it from their perspective. They need you to work as fast as possible to push out as much as they can as fast as they can. So they're gonna give you goals, and then you know what? If you make those goals, they're gonna increase the goals. But they'll be yelling at you all the time. It's like the military. They have to break you down so they can turn you into what they want you to be. So they're going to tell you, 'You're not good enough, you're not good enough, you're not good enough,' to make you work harder. Don't say, 'This is the best I can do.' Say, 'I'll try,' even if you know you can't do it. Because if you say, 'This is the best I can do,' they'll let you go. They hire and fire constantly, every day. You'll see people dropping all around you. But don't take it personally and break down or start crying when they yell at you."

    Advertise on MotherJones.com

    Several months prior, I'd reported on an Ohio warehouse where workers shipped products for online retailers under conditions that were surprisingly demoralizing and dehumanizing, even to someone who's spent a lot of time working in warehouses, which I have. And then my editors sat me down. "We want you to go work for Amalgamated Product Giant Shipping Worldwide Inc.," they said. I'd have to give my real name and job history when I applied, and I couldn't lie if asked for any specifics. (I wasn't.) But I'd smudge identifying details of people and the company itself. Anyway, to do otherwise might give people the impression that these conditions apply only to one warehouse or one company. Which they don't.

    So I fretted about whether I'd have to abort the application process, like if someone asked me why I wanted the job. But no one did. And though I was kind of excited to trot out my warehouse experience, mainly all I needed to get hired was to confirm 20 or 30 times that I had not been to prison.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #61)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 12:33 PM

    65. Betcha it was Amazon.com

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #61)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 01:11 PM

    69. Please post this in GD

    It's a great piece.

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    Response to TalkingDog (Reply #69)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 01:15 PM

    70. It's in good reads.

    I didn't want it to disappear too soon.

    A lot of people won't comment in my threads because I'm an Obama skeptic.
    So I try to place strategically.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #70)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 03:52 PM

    73. Ahh.. gotcha. Been there, done that.

    n/t

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 12:13 PM

    62. Angelina Jolie last night.

    what is wrong with that woman? Has she always been the skinny? Boney arms and boney square chin. I don't remember her looking that scrawny. The dress was hot and I liked the idea of showing some leg, but to boney for me.

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    Response to Hotler (Reply #62)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 01:06 PM

    68. She's always - or for a long time - been pretty skinny.

    I think? She's a vegetarian - so she probably doesn't get a lot of fat in her diet.

    I'd bet too - she keeps a pretty rigorous work out schedule.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Feb 27, 2012, 04:15 PM

    74. Looks like today was just a brain fart.

    How does this bode for Romney and Santorum?

    It's an omen, I tells ya. Sanitarium wins Meeshigan by 1.44%. Happily sending Mittwit sailing on the Concordia or the Titanic to Grand Cayman, where he's eaten by a school of sting-rays, as he tries to strap on on to the roof of his boat.

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