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Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:34 PM

STOCK MARKET WATCH -- Monday, 3 December 2012

[font size=3]STOCK MARKET WATCH, Monday, 1 December 2012[font color=black][/font]

SMW for 30 November 2012

AT THE CLOSING BELL ON 30 November 2012
[center][font color=green]
Dow Jones 13,025.58 +3.76 (0.03%)
S&P 500 1,416.18 +0.23 (0.02%)
[font color=red]Nasdaq 3,010.24 -1.79 (-0.06%)

[font color=red]10 Year 1.61% +0.01 (0.62%)
30 Year 2.80% +0.03 (1.08%) [font color=black]


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[font size=2]Market Conditions During Trading Hours[/font]


[font size=2]Euro, Yen, Loonie, Silver and Gold[center]




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[font color=black][font size=2]Handy Links - Market Data and News:[/font][/font]
Economic Calendar
Marketwatch Data
Bloomberg Economic News
Yahoo Finance
Google Finance
Bank Tracker
Credit Union Tracker
Daily Job Cuts

[font color=black][font size=2]Handy Links - Government Issues:[/font][/font]
Open Government
Earmark Database
USA spending.gov

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

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[font size=3][font color=red]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.[/font][/font][/font color=red][font color=black]

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Reply STOCK MARKET WATCH -- Monday, 3 December 2012 (Original post)
Tansy_Gold Dec 2012 OP
Demeter Dec 2012 #1
Demeter Dec 2012 #2
Po_d Mainiac Dec 2012 #28
Tansy_Gold Dec 2012 #34
Po_d Mainiac Dec 2012 #35
Demeter Dec 2012 #37
Po_d Mainiac Dec 2012 #42
Tansy_Gold Dec 2012 #50
Demeter Dec 2012 #3
Demeter Dec 2012 #4
Demeter Dec 2012 #5
Demeter Dec 2012 #6
Demeter Dec 2012 #7
Demeter Dec 2012 #8
Demeter Dec 2012 #10
Demeter Dec 2012 #9
Demeter Dec 2012 #11
Demeter Dec 2012 #12
Hotler Dec 2012 #32
DemReadingDU Dec 2012 #52
Demeter Dec 2012 #53
Demeter Dec 2012 #13
Tansy_Gold Dec 2012 #19
Demeter Dec 2012 #14
Demeter Dec 2012 #15
Demeter Dec 2012 #16
Demeter Dec 2012 #17
Tansy_Gold Dec 2012 #18
AnneD Dec 2012 #36
Po_d Mainiac Dec 2012 #49
Demeter Dec 2012 #20
Demeter Dec 2012 #21
Demeter Dec 2012 #22
Demeter Dec 2012 #23
Demeter Dec 2012 #24
Demeter Dec 2012 #25
xchrom Dec 2012 #26
Demeter Dec 2012 #38
xchrom Dec 2012 #40
Demeter Dec 2012 #41
Fuddnik Dec 2012 #45
xchrom Dec 2012 #27
Demeter Dec 2012 #39
AnneD Dec 2012 #44
Fuddnik Dec 2012 #46
AnneD Dec 2012 #47
Tansy_Gold Dec 2012 #51
xchrom Dec 2012 #29
xchrom Dec 2012 #30
xchrom Dec 2012 #31
xchrom Dec 2012 #33
AnneD Dec 2012 #43
Ghost Dog Dec 2012 #48

Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:11 PM

1. Welcome to December!


Not sure whether it will snow this year....it looks more like Halloween with all the fog and a huge waning moon. And it's 47F at 10PM.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:16 PM

2. Detroit Sale of Huge Amounts of Land Could Lead to Displacement, Say Residents




Detroit City Council sent Hantz Farms back to the drawing board after a Nov. 15 committee meeting to revise a proposal for the purchase of more than 1,500 parcels of city-owned land.

Council members and concerned citizens expressed their concerns about the sale to Hantz Farms under a purchase agreement that would benefit the city financially, but would allow the commercial urban agriculture initiative to acquire the land with no specific development plan.

The proposed plan is valued at $600,000 and according to Mike Score, president of Hantz Farms, the only goal in acquiring the land is to "beautify the city and make it more livable."

Brittany Scales, a Detroit resident, says Hantz' intention is questionable at best.

"No one I know would buy that much land for that much money only to make it look good," Scales said. "Is Hantz Farms working within the law to cheat the people?" MORE



Proposed $3 Million Commercial Urban Agriculture Venture Moves Closer To Land Deal WIth City Of Detroit FROM JULY


Detroit's urban farmers have been waving their pitchforks indignantly over it for years, but a controversial agriculture deal between the city of Detroit and a wealthy investor looks like it may finally be heading to market.

The Detroit Free Press reports that mayor Dave Bing's group executive for planning and facilities, Karla Henderson, is close to finalizing a sale that would allow the Southfield-based financier John Hantz to transform 175 acres of vacant east side lots into a commercial lumber farm.

The mayor hopes to close on the transaction -- estimated to be in the realm of $600,000 -- with his business, Hantz Farms, when city council gets back from its summer recess, according to the Free Press.

The deal seems to have had little input from Detroit's City Planning Commission (CPC), however, which operates under the authority of city council.

A letter from CPC President Marcel Todd, Jr. dated June 22 indicates that the commission had little forewarning of the upcoming transaction. They objected to an earlier deal proposed in 2011 because the city had few regulations in place to govern the commercial use of the land other than zoning codes.

WWJ Radio reports that Hantz Farms acquired three acres for its venture last year and used it to grow trees. It hopes to invest $30 million in the project and create the world's largest urban farm...MORE

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Response to Demeter (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 09:18 AM

28. Rough napkin numbers

Last edited Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:03 AM - Edit history (1)

A mature wood lot of 175 acres should be able to sustain a yearly harvest of at least 1,75 cords of wood, or 8,750MBF (thousand board feet) of logs.

Current wood prices equate to mill delivered value of pulp @ $17,500 - sawlogs @ $28,400 on a yearly basis. But few commercial stands are managed that way.

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Response to Po_d Mainiac (Reply #28)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 10:43 AM

34. What's "mature"?

And what kind of timber?

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #34)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:09 AM

35. Depends on species

But 30-40 y/o growth to produce a butt saw log, and the rest biomass/pulp chips. And prices are very low averages.

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Response to Po_d Mainiac (Reply #28)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:08 PM

37. It depends on whether one is growing for energy, pulp, building, cabinet-making, parkland


or Christmas trees.

And it seems a damn silly thing to do, frankly.

Especially as private enterprise. There's much cheaper land (perhaps not in Michigan) that hasn't been brown-fielded, or part of a great urban landscape.

Detroit would be much better served by truck farming, including hydroponic and glass house.

I'm thinking it's a scam or a way to suck money out of the city, myself.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #37)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:46 PM

42. The Huffpost link states 'lumber farm'

That narrows down the usage to choice of species.

Had the term 'tree farm' been used, it wood be open to varied options.

If the goal is turn a quick buck, then look for the back-room deal r/e 'conservation easments' or similar deed restrictions.

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Response to Po_d Mainiac (Reply #42)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 03:23 PM

50. That's what I was thinking -- some kind of scam

If the deal included restrictions, such as what we had in Indiana years ago regarding "forest reserve" (or whatever it was called), so that the land couldn't be resold or used for anything else for 20 or 30 or 40 years without paying a huge penalty, it might be okay. But I smell scam.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:24 PM

3. Constitutional Convention Delegates Had Common Goal – Ending Democratic Finance



BY William Hogeland, the author of the narrative histories Declaration and The Whiskey Rebellion and a collection of essays, Inventing American History who blogs at http://www.williamhogeland.com. Cross posted from New Deal 2.0


Economic struggles played a huge role in the founding of our country, despite some attempts to revise that history. Edmund Randolph of Virginia kicked off the meeting we now know as the United States constitutional convention by offering his fellow delegates a key inducement to forming a new U.S. government. America lacked “sufficient checks against the democracy,” Randolph said. A new government would provide those checks. Randolph’s listeners in Philadelphia in the spring of 1787 knew what he meant by “the democracy.” And readers of this series probably will, too. He was talking about the 18th-century American popular finance movement, whose supporters agitated for policies to obstruct concentrated wealth and to give regular folks access to political power and economic equality. Amid depressions and foreclosures, ordinary people had long been rioting — they called it “regulating” — to pressure assemblies to restrain the merchant creditors, whose command of scarce gold and silver let them acquire immense wealth by lending at high, even predatory rates to the needier.

Then, with revolution against England, the popular finance movement turned its attention to changing the economic terms of American society. The 1776 Pennsylvania constitution, based in large part on ideas expressed by Thomas Paine in “Common Sense,” smashed the ancient property qualification for voting and holding office. In Pennsylvania, new political leaders like the preacher Herman Husband, the weaver William Findley, and the farmer Robert Whitehill entered the assembly and began passing laws shutting down elite banking and requiring government to operate, for the first meaningful time anywhere, on behalf of ordinary people...Democracy in Pennsylvania sent chills through elites of every kind throughout the newly independent country. Rioting for popular finance was bad enough, but rioting was temporary, spasmodic, and traditional. Debtors wielding legitimate political power to equalize economic life — that was tantamount to a new kind of tyranny of the mob, hardly what Whig revolutionaries had fought England to gain. Neither Edmund Randolph nor other delegates of the Philadelphia convention, meeting in secret sessions in the Pennsylvania State House, felt any need for subtlety in seeking to suppress the political and economic equality burgeoning everywhere in America among “the democracy.”

Present at the Philadelphia convention was the fabulously wealthy Pennsylvania financier and speculator Robert Morris, America’s first central banker, no doubt licking his ample chops over the fulfillment, at long last, of his plan to wed nationhood to high finance. Yet it was the planter Randolph, not the financer Morris, who referred to “the plague of paper money,” and he meant just what Morris meant. State legislatures’ currency emissions and legal-tender laws depreciated the merchants’ income from their loans; paper, the people’s medium, built debt relief into money itself. Randolph also rued the country’s difficulty in paying the investing class its interest on federal bonds. With those bonds, Morris had made private creditors into public creditors as well, swelling the domestic U.S. debt to vast proportions in an effort to connect national purpose to high finance. Hence the need, Randolph said, for a national government with laws acting on all the people throughout the states. It’s no coincidence that he also charged the delegates with repairing the federal government’s military weakness. A debtor uprising in western Massachusetts known as Shays’ Rebellion had marched on the state armory. That wasn’t just a riot. It showed how far ordinary people might go in rejecting regressive taxes and policies giving investors huge paydays with public money. The United States, Randolph said, must be empowered to put down insurrections anywhere in the country.

So Randolph did indeed know what he meant by “the democracy,” and his fellow delegates knew too. Why are historians typically so coy about the constitutional convention’s financial purposes? The fight over those purposes is almost 100 years old. In 1913, the historian Charles Beard published “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States.” There Beard argued that because delegates of the convention came overwhelmingly from the bond-holding class, the government they put into effect represents less a glorious triumph of republican philosophy than a rearguard action of money elites to assure their own payoffs. Beard’s startling contention was that the framers acted at least as much on financial self-interest as on principle. If that contention remains startling, we can thank an immense effort, carried out over generations, to throw out not only Beard’s particular economic interpretation of the convention, but along with it any suggestion that struggles between elites and ordinary Americans over public and private finance played a role in framing our Constitution. It’s not surprising that many of the popular founding father biographers routinely avoid the issue. But entire careers in academic history — major ones, like Edmund Morgan’s — have been largely dedicated to depicting a founding generation acting with perfect intellectual consistency almost entirely on principle. Wherever self-interest did arise, Morgan suggests (in his popular book “The Birth of the Republic” and elsewhere), the nature of the founding mission was such that it enabled even greed to inspire the founders to good. In that kind of history, everyday political struggles over money between ordinary Americans and American elites just don’t play....To men of the constitutional convention, some of our modern economic analyses might seem strangely redundant. If we know how to read them, the founders often tell us, unabashedly and in their own words, what they were trying to do. McDonald claimed that, Beard to the contrary, a multitude of interests prevailed at the convention, not just one. Well, that’s true. What’s striking is that despite their well-known mutual antipathies, on a well-known multitude of fateful issues those northerners and southerners, planters and moneymen, slaveholders and manumissionists, city dwellers and countrymen, nationalists and state sovereigntists meeting in Philadelphia in 1787 shared a desire even stronger than their antipathy for one another: stop the American democratic finance movement once and for all.

The fight wasn’t over. But the men of the constitutional convention were making no bones about trying to win it.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:33 PM

4. Randy Wray: The Biggest Bubble of All Time – Commodities Market Speculation


By L. Randall Wray, a Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Senior Scholar at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. Cross posted from EconoMonitor


the biggest bubble in human history: http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/ppb_96.pdf.

Say what? You thought that was tulip bulb mania? Or, maybe the NASDAQ hi-tech hysteria? No, folks, those were child’s play. From 2004 to 2008 we experienced the biggest commodities bubble the world had ever seen. If you looked to the top 25 traded commodities, you found prices had doubled over the period. For the top 8, the price inflation was much more spectacular. As I wrote:

“According to an analysis by market strategist Frank Veneroso, over the course of the 20th century, there were only 13 instances in which the price of a single commodity rose by 500 percent or more. For example, the price of sugar rose 641 percent in 1920, and in the same year, the price of cotton rose 538 percent. In 1947, there was a commodities boom across three commodities: pork bellies (1,053 percent), soybean oil (797 percent), and soybeans (558 percent). During the Hunt brothers episode, in 1980, silver prices were driven up by 3,813 percent. Now, if we look at the current commodities boom, there are already eight commodities whose price rise had reached 500 percent or more by the end of June: heating oil (1,313 percent), nickel (1,273 percent), crude oil (1,205 percent), lead (870 percent), copper (606 percent), zinc (616 percent), tin (510 percent), and wheat (500 percent). Many other agricultural, energy, and metals commodities have also had large price hikes, albeit below that threshold (for the 25 commodities typically included in the indexes, the average price rise since 2003 has been 203 percent). There is no evidence of any other commodities price boom to match the current one in terms of scope.”

Now here’s the amazing thing about that bubble. The staff of Senator Joe Lieberman and Representative Bart Stupak wanted to know whether the bubble was just due to “supply and demand”. Relying on the expertise of Frank Veneroso and Mike Masters (two experts on the commodities market), I was able to conclude beyond any doubt that it was a speculative bubble driven by a “buy and hold” strategy adopted by managers of pension funds. Hearings were held in Congress, with guys like Mike Masters testifying as well as representatives from the airlines and other industries. The pension funds panicked, realizing that their members would hold them responsible for exploding prices of gasoline at the pump. Pension funds withdrew one-third of their funds and oil prices fell from about $150 per barrel to $50. If you want to read the detailed analysis, go to my paper cited above—it has to do with commodities indexes, strategies pushed by your favorite blood sucking vampire squid (Goldman Sachs), and futures contracts. It gets wonky. To make a long story short, the bubble ended in fall of 2008.

But then the crisis wiped out real estate markets and the economy. Managed money needed another bubble. They whipped up irrational fears of hyperinflation that supposedly would be caused by Helicopter Ben’s QE1, QE2, and the newly announced QE3. Better run to good “inflation hedges” like gold and other commodities. That did the trick. The commodities speculative bubble resumed. And boy, oh boy, what a boom. An April report by expert Jeremy Grantham looks at the last decade’s bubble in commodities; Frank Veneroso expands upon that in a more recent report. Here’s the elevator speech summary. Take the top 33 commodities that are globally traded—everything from gold and oil to to rubber, flaxseed, jute, plywood, and something called diammonium phosphate. Over the past 110 years, an index price of these 33 commodities has declined at an annual rate of 1.2% per year. (Sure there are variations across the commodities—this is the average. And so much for inflation hedges. Commodities prices fell—they did not keep up with inflation. If you liked negative returns, commodities were a good bet.) Although demand for these 33 commodities has increased a lot over the century, new production techniques plus successful exploration has resulted in a declining price trend. Further—and this is a bit surprising—deviations from the trend follow a normal distribution (you learned about this in high school; it is a bell curve with nice properties; chief among these is the finding that about 68% of outcomes fall within one standard deviation; about 95% fall within two standard deviations (once a generation); and you’ve got just about a snowball’s chance in hell of finding outcomes that are three or four standard deviations from the mean). But what is more surprising is that over the past decade, the price rises you find for these 33 commodities are just about beyond the realm of possibility—2, 3, and 4 standard deviations away from trend. It is a boom without any precedent. Quite simply, nothing even close has ever happened before, in any market, including hi tech bubbles and real estate bubbles.

By now you’ve all read about black swans with fat tails—a reference to supposedly “unexpected” and highly improbable default rates on subprime mortgages and other toxic waste assets. (Way out the normal distribution’s “tail”.) As an insider quipped, you had once in 100,000 year events happening every day. But that is misleading. These were junk assets that from the get-go had nearly 100% probabilities of default—NINJA loans and so on. The models were flawed, indeed, fraudulent. That was all a scam. Those weren’t black swans with fat tails—they were Hindenburg blimps filled with explosive hydrogen just waiting for someone to light a cigarette....By contrast, in the case of commodities, this is real stuff (not IOUs of deadbeats with no prospects). Barrels of oil that someone really wants. Corn to turn into pig and steer fat, or fuel for Midwest automobiles. Or gold to be hoarded by the University of Texas. There really is a demand for it; and someone produces it. Yes, commodity bubbles happen, but eventually reality sets in and brings the price back down to reality. You don’t get 3, 4, and 5 standard deviation events. A four standard deviation price rise falls outside 99.994% of all outcomes—one in 100,000 years; a five standard deviation price rise is about one in 2 million years. That pretty much covers the time since our ancestors beat things with big sticks. But wait a minute. The standard deviation of price rises for iron (5), coal, copper, corn and silver (4), sorghum, palladium, and rubber (3.5), flaxseed, palm oil, soybeans, coconut oil, and nickel (3), and so on down through jute, cotton, uranium, tin, zinc, potosh and wool (2) are so unlikely that they quite simply could not have happened. Individually. Together, the likelihood that we’ve got an unlikely boom in almost all of the 33 commodities? All at the same time? Impossible. Cannot happen. Not in the lifetime of our sun, let alone our planet.

But it did. Why? China. Peak oil. Supply disruptions. Some markets cornered by speculators. Market manipulation by oligopolistic suppliers. Yes, OK, those have played some small role. But remember, we are in the worst global slowdown since the 1930s. I will not go through all the data, but demand for most commodities is actually slumping. For many there is substantial excess supply. And China wants to slow. China is still largely a socialist society. China basically does what it wants to do. China will slow. And yet the prices rise far beyond anything that has ever happened before. Beyond anything that can happen...Why? Financialization. Just as homes became financialized (in many ways, including serving as the collateral for “ATM” cash-out home equity loans), commodities became thoroughly financialized. (So did healthcare and death, with peasant insurance and death settlements—topics for another day.)

Now, to be sure, the whole thing is going to blow up, in what Frank Veneroso calls a commodities nuclear winter. As prices rise, consumption of the commodities falls (as we are already observing) both through substitution and through conservation. At the same time, additional supplies come on line. Real world suppliers feel the imperative to slash prices to have some actual real world sales. They cannot forever live in never-never land with rising prices and collapsing sales. There are many shoes that will drop, bringing back the Global Financial Crisis with a vengeance. Commodities crash, default by a Euro periphery nation, failure of a Euro bank, or the closure of Bank of America or Citi. All of these are likely events, less than one standard deviation from the mean; probably all of them will happen within the next year.

No matter what the triggering event is, that commodities nuclear winter will happen.


Sooner than later.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:39 PM

5. Economics Debunked: Chapter Two for Sixth Graders



... Once upon a time, about a hundred years ago, economics was different from how it is today. Many famous people had thought about economics, including Adam Smith, Ricardo, Marx, and others. Economics was not a perfect science, and lots of people who thought about economics disagreed. But in the last century, economists started to agree about two things: economics should become as mathematical as it possibly could, and politicians should listen to economists. Economics at the time was not a very mathematical science, at least compared to the way it is today. Economists used to write articles with very few equations, or even without any equations at all. When did economists start to use math more? The beginnings might have been toward the end of the 1800′s, with some economists named Jevons, Menger, and Walras. But a person who was particularly important was Paul Samuelson. He comes into the story later.

In the 1920′s and 1930′s, there lived a great economist named John Maynard Keynes who came up with new ideas about economics. Many people thought that they made a lot of sense because they seemed to explain how governments had managed to get their countries out of the Great Depression. Politicians began to listen to economists more and more. Someone named Lorie Tarshis went to Keynes’ classes, took notes, and made a book out of it. The name of the book was “Elements of Economics.” It was published in 1947. Back then, there were people who thought that communist spies were everywhere. Some of these people, including William F. Buckley, decided that Tarshis’ book was also part of a communist plot, and started saying so very loudly to as many people as they could find. Many colleges became afraid to use “Elements of Economics” as a textbook.

Meanwhile, Paul Samuelson was writing his dissertation, and he saw how angry the people had gotten with Tarshis. He decided to make it so his dissertation could not be attacked in the same way. So he did three things, writing very “carefully and lawyer like.” First, he changed Keynes’ ideas a little bit so that in Samuelson’s version of them, they said that corporations in the capitalist system would always give everybody a job as long as the government and labor unions didn’t bother the corporations. That made corporations happy with him, so that they didn’t think people should call him a communist. Second, he called his ideas “neoclassical synthesis Keynesianism.” That made other economists think that he wasn’t changing their ideas very much, so they were more happy to support him. Third, he wrote all of his arguments up in mathematical form. Now why would he want to write up his ideas as mathematical arguments? Well, for one thing, a lot of people don’t understand complicated math, so he could automatically win arguments with someone who didn’t understand math. Even the people who went around calling people communists couldn’t call him a communist if they didn’t understand the math he was doing. There was another reason, too. Samuelson could turn problems that economists used to argue about into equations. Then he would solve the equations and the argument would be over....Samuelson’s book was called “Foundations of Economic Analysis.” It was published in 1947, and it became a big success. Nobody told Samuelson that he was a communist. Other economists started to use mathematical models more.

Later on, in the 1950′s, two economists named Arrow and Debreu made a simplified mathematical model of the economy, and proved that in their model, there would never be a time when people wanted to buy something and nobody would sell it to them. Economists thought that this was very exciting. Now they used math even more. Nowadays, most papers on economics have equations in them. All economists have to be able to talk about their ideas using mathematical models and statistics, or other economists won’t respect them. This is part of what is called being able to “think like an economist.” It is a special ability that you can only learn by going to graduate school in economics. A professor named David Colander surveyed economics graduate students to find out which of seven factors were most important in order for them to succeed in graduate school. The top three factors all had to do with being good at math. The least important factor was having “a thorough knowledge of the economy.”

So learning how to “think like an economist” is very important, because if you don’t do it, then no matter how well you understand the actual economy, economists still won’t take your arguments seriously...

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 10:47 PM

6. Five Reasons Obama Will Rout GOP in Lame Duck Budget Battle




...The fact is that Obama and the Democrats are holding all the cards.

There are five reasons why Obama is likely to succeed:

1). The “fiscal cliff” is very different than the “debt ceiling.” In 2011, the Obama Administration believed it was critically important to the economy to avoid a default on the nation’s debt. In that standoff, the GOP held so many cards because many of its members were willing to allow the nation go into default. They were like terrorists who are willing to blow up themselves – and everyone else – to make a political point. As a result, the Obama Administration had to use every tool it could to avoid yet another GOP-induced economic disaster. It was bargaining with a gun to its head. In the circumstances, the outcome was not bad for Democrats. Though the deal did not include increased revenue from the wealthy – and many key programs that benefit the poor and middle class took a hit -- Democrats avoided disastrous permanent structural changes in Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. And they took the debt ceiling timebomb out of the GOP’s hands until after the fall elections. Most importantly, they struck a deal that changed the battlefield for the next engagement to a much more advantageous time and place – after the elections when the Bush Tax cuts were about to expire by law.

It would not be an economic disaster for the country to go over the “fiscal cliff.” In fact, going over the cliff will only increase Democratic leverage to reach a deal which eliminates the dreaded “sequester,” avoids massive cuts, and most importantly raises taxes on the wealthy.

2). Expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts. If Congress takes no action at all – something the Republican Congress is very good at doing – all tax rates in America will go up to their Clinton-era levels at year’s end. The pressure on Republicans will then be enormous to vote yes on the Democratic bill to restore the Bush tax cuts for the 98% of the population that makes less than $250,000 per year – leaving wealthy Americans paying Clinton-era rates. After the first of the year, Americans will start seeing an average of over $2,000 per year coming out of their paychecks in withholding. If the Republican leadership refuses to take up the Democratic tax measure, the GOP will be blamed by the voters for the tax increase; it’s that simple. Once the Republican leadership in the House is forced to face reality and bring the bill to a vote, most Republicans will join Democrats in supporting the measure – whether or not it is coupled with any further “spending cuts.” Otherwise they will risk being attacked in the 2014 elections for voting against tax cuts for the middle class simply to protect tax breaks for people like Donald Trump.

The President has been clear he will veto any bill that extends the Bush Tax cuts for the wealthy. In the end GOP lawmakers will have no choice but to fold.

3). Republicans are afraid to propose specific cuts to Medicare.
Don’t get me wrong, Republicans want to destroy Medicare. But their proposal to do that – the Ryan plan to eliminate Medicare and convert it to a voucher program – was soundly discredited in the election. The GOP understands the power and popularity of Medicare. Without any shame, it ran ad after ad in 2010 and 2012 accusing Obama and Democrats in Congress of “cutting” Medicare by $716 billion as part of ObamaCare. They were, of course, perfectly willing to ignore that benefits actually improved and that these “cuts” were really reductions of insurance company subsidies for the so-called “Medicare-Advantage” program and other forms of inefficiency and waste. But the point is that the GOP understands that Medicare is very popular and the everyday voters don’t want to see it cut to fix the deficit. They understand its electoral power. That’s why yesterday, when Obama Administration representatives met with Republicans to present Obama’s bargaining position, the Republicans refused to say what additional cuts they wanted in Medicare as the price for tax increases. They demanded that the Administration itself detail cuts they might be willing to accept. They want to be able to claim that they supported cuts in Medicare proposed by the Democrats.

Well that isn’t going to happen. Democrats have no interest in falling into that trap – or negotiating with themselves -- even if they were willing to inflict economic pain on ordinary Americans to fix a deficit problem that ordinary people didn’t cause in the first place.
The Republican’s best hope for political cover when it comes to Medicare was some kind of bi-partisan panel or “grand bargain” negotiation. But by forcing the GOP to name its own price – to put its cards on the table in public -- Obama has forced them to accept full political responsibility for cutting Medicare. That is a big problem for them. And let’s be clear, the GOP understands that it is impossible for them to run a national mobilization to demand cuts in Medicare.

4). Obama has political momentum and public support. Obama and the Democrats just won major victories at the polls. Most Americans favor closing the deficit by raising taxes on the rich. Most Americans opposed closing the deficit by cutting Medicare and Medicaid. And Obama plans to press this advantage by mobilizing the massive organization he created during the campaign. His allies have organized events all over America starting this weekend to demand action from GOP Members of Congress -- rallying its forces around TheAction.org. The Labor movement has joined the fight with issue ads, press events and thousands of phone calls to Congress. Progressive organizations like MoveOn and Americans United for Change have swung into action. Capitalizing on the momentum from his campaign victory, the President is poised to barnstorm around the country to mobilize support for his demand that the taxes of ordinary Americans should not be held hostage to tax breaks for the rich.

5) The GOP base, on the other hand, is divided and dispirited. The Romney campaign and Republican operatives had – against all evidence – convinced them that they could and would win the fall elections. They were wrong. The long knives are out in the Republican Party. Worse, the organizing principle uniting the Tea Party – ousting Obama – is gone. Many of the Tea Party faithful are unlikely to get too worked up about defending tax breaks for Donald Trump and Paris Hilton. Even in the election campaign, it’s hard to argue that Republicans had a real unifying leader they could believe in and follow. Romney will not be remembered as in inspiring figure. But now they have no one. Does anyone expect to see John Boehner barnstorming the country?

A fundamental principle of warfare is that when you have them on the run, that’s the time to chase them. Both the timing of the Lame Duck battle, and Obama’s willingness to press his advantage, have denied the Republicans the opportunity to regroup after their devastating election defeat. They are leaderless and disorganized. It’s hard to press a counter attack when you are in full retreat. If the President and Democrats continue to press their advantage, history will remember the battle of the “Lame Duck Fiscal Cliff” as a rout.


Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:45 AM

7. The Trans-Pacific Partnership: What "Free Trade" Actually Means



To discuss “free trade agreements” or the “free market,” we must first identify the theoretical versus the functional definitions of these terms – because theoretical definitions look at what those terms should mean, whereas functional definitions look at what the terms mean actually.

The theoretical definition of a “free market” is one in which every individual actor in the realm of exchange exists in a state of equality of opportunity; where all compete with one another to produce the best products at the cheapest prices for consumers, thus the most innovative and efficient producers succeed while others fail, unregulated - and unhelped - by the state. Within “free markets,” what we call “free trade agreements” are meant to reduce barriers such as tariffs, subsidies and regulations so that market "competitors" can freely move products and goods across borders and compete in an ever-expanding global “free market." The functional, or technical, definition of a “free market” is one in which the state regulates the market – the realm of economic exchange and activity – for the benefit of large transnational corporations and banks. Barriers to profits, such as environmental, labor, safety and financial regulations, are dismantled. Meanwhile, subsidies and legal rights and protections are granted to major corporations, undermining competition and supporting monopolization. So while the rhetoric of “free markets” tends to be all about reducing state interference in the economy, in actuality state interference increases - but only for the benefit of large corporations and banks.

At the same time, state “interference” decreases in sectors that benefit the actual population, such as welfare, social services, pensions, healthcare, education, labor protections and so on. In the actual "free market," these protections are dismantled, subjecting populations to “market discipline” quite unlike the large corporations and banks that receive direct protection against “market discipline.” The most obvious example of this is the post-2008 bank bailouts. In a theoretical “free market,” all the banks that gambled badly would have failed and collapsed. But with the functional “free market” we have today, the banks went to the state and got bailed out with trillions of dollars of taxpayer money.

The same dichotomy exists for the term “free trade agreement,” which in theory is the opposite of “protectionism,” where states intervene in the market by establishing tariffs, regulations, subsidies and protections for various imports and exports, thus undermining the “free market.”
The technical definition, however, is one in which protectionism is rampant, with enormous subsidies and protective barriers, and very often includes thousands of pages of regulations and provisions. But because all of this is done to protect corporate and financial interests, it is called “free trade.” It is “protectionism” if the barriers, regulations and protections benefit the nation or population and prevent transnational corporations and banks from having unhindered access to the “market”? MORE

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:53 AM

8. 5 Ways to Beat the Plutocrats By Sam Pizzigati



Americans today can take more than inspiration from the struggles against plutocracy that progressives waged years ago...Despite their funding deluge from wealthy donors, Republicans failed to overwhelm President Barack Obama and Democrats at the ballot box. So was throwing all that money at the 2012 election worth it?

Our contemporary billionaires, most Americans would likely agree, are exploiting our labor and polluting our politics. Can we shrink our super rich down to a much less powerful — and more democratic — size? Of course we can. We Americans, after all, have already done that shrinking once before. Between 1900 and the 1950s, average Americans beat down plutocrats every bit as dominant as ours. A century that began with huge private fortunes and most Americans living in poverty would come to see a mass middle class and suburban developments where grand estates and mansions once stood. Most of us today, unfortunately, have no inkling that this huge transformation even took place, mainly because that exuberantly middle class America of the mid 20th century has disappeared. Those grand mansions have come back. Does this super-rich resurgence make failures out of our progressive forebears, the men and women who fought so hard and so long to limit the wealth and power of America’s wealthiest? Our forebears didn’t fail, suggests a new book I’ve just done. They just didn’t go far enough.

Those progressives accomplished incredible feats, relates the just-published The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class. They “soaked the rich” at tax time. They built a union movement that acted as a real check on corporate arrogance and greed. But these great victories have long since faded away. How can we get back on a plutocracy-busting track? We could start by revisiting those struggles of years past that came up short, those proposals that, had they become law, might have lastingly leveled down our super rich.

The Rich Don’t Always Win explores a host of these proposals. Here we spotlight just five:

  • One: Require the rich to annually disclose the income they’re reporting to the IRS and how much of that income they actually pay in taxes. Eighty years ago, just like today, America’s rich were routinely and massively avoiding and evading taxes. If wealthy taxpayers knew their returns would be open to public inspection, reformers argued, they would be far less audacious with their tax games. Disclosure would also help lawmakers identify the tax loopholes that most needed plugging. In 1934, progressives actually added a disclosure provision to the tax code. But the super rich counterattacked with a media blitz that tied disclosure to the infamous Lindbergh baby kidnapping. If all rich Americans had to disclose their incomes, the argument went, kidnappers would gain a wider pool of targets. This PR juggernaut carried the day. Congress repealed the disclosure mandate. But the basic idea behind income disclosure remains as promising as ever.

  • Two: Leverage the power of the public purse against excessive corporate executive pay. Congress couldn’t directly set limits on private corporate executive pay, yesterday’s progressives understood. But Congress could impose limits indirectly by denying federal government contracts and subsidies to corporations that lavished rewards on top executives. In 1933, then-senator and later Supreme Court justice Hugo Black won congressional approval for legislation that denied federal air- and ocean-mail contracts to companies that paid their execs over $17,500, about $300,000 in today’s dollars. But the New Deal never fully embraced the Hugo Black perspective. We could now, by denying federal contracts and tax breaks to any companies that pay their CEOs over 25 times what their workers are making.

  • Three: Give Americans a safe alternative to private banks. For Louis Brandeis, a reform giant who also became a Supreme Court justice, prohibiting financial institutions from speculating with the savings of average Americans always remained a top priority. In the early 1930s, Brandeis advocated the expansion of postal savings banks, a system — in effect since 1911 — that paid 2 percent interest on modest savings accounts maintained with the post office. That expansion never took place, and postal savings banks withered away. They deserve a second shot.

  • Four: Tax undistributed corporate profits. America’s biggest corporations are currently sitting on stashes of cash that have hit mega-billion levels. Money that could be invested in creating jobs sits instead in income-generating financial assets that only sweeten corporate bottom lines and executive paychecks. A similar problem plagued the nation back during the Great Depression, and progressives pushed for a stiff tax on these “retained earnings.” In 1936, Congress passed a watered-down version of this tax that didn’t last and didn’t make much of an impact. A stronger tax today just might.

  • Five: Cap income at America’s economic summit. In 1942, in the midst of a war-time fiscal squeeze, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed a 100 percent tax on all individual income over $25,000, the equivalent of about $355,000 today. Congress didn’t go along. But lawmakers did set the top tax rate at 94 percent on income over $200,000, and federal income tax top rates hovered around 90 percent for most of the next two decades, years of unprecedented prosperity. America’s rich fought relentlessly to curb those rates. They saw no other way to hang on to more of their income. But what if we restructured the top tax rate of America’s postwar years to give the rich a new incentive. We could, for instance, set the entry threshold for a new 90 percent top rate as a multiple of our nation’s minimum wage. The higher the minimum wage, the higher the threshold, the softer the total tax bite out of the nation’s highest incomes. Our nation’s wealthiest and most powerful, under this approach, would suddenly have a vested interest in enhancing the well-being of our poorest and weakest.

    Years ago, progressives yearned to create an America that encouraged just that sort of social solidarity. They couldn’t finish the job. We still can.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #8)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:11 AM

    10. Financial Firms Have Been Hollowing Out America for Decades -- We're on the Verge of a Debtpocalypse



    ... It goes by the name of “austerity.” However, it didn’t just appear in time for the last election season or the lame-duck session of Congress to follow. It was dug more than a generation ago, and has been getting wider and deeper ever since. Millions of people have long made it their home. “Debtpocalypse” is merely the latest installment in a tragic, 40-year-old story of the dispossession of American working people. Think of it as the archeology of decline, or a tale of two worlds. As a long generation of austerity politics hollowed out the heartland, the quants and traders and financial wizards of Wall Street gobbled up ever more of the nation's resources. It was another Great Migration -- instead of people, though, trillions of dollars were being sucked out of industrial America and turned into “financial instruments” and new, exotic forms of wealth. If blue-collar Americans were the particular victims here, then high finance is what consumed them. Now, it promises to consume the rest of us.

    Scenes from the Museum

    In the mid-1970s, Hugh Carey, then governor of New York, was already noting the hollowing out of his part of America. New York City, after all, was threatening to go bankrupt. Plenty of other cities and states across what was then known as the “Frost Belt” were in similar shape. Yankeedom, in Carey’s words, was turning into “a great national museum” where tourists could visit “the great railroad stations where the trains used to run.” As it happened, the tourists weren’t interested. Abandoned railroad stations might be fetching in an eerie sort of way, but the rest of the museum was filled with artifacts of recent ruination that were too depressing to be entertaining. True, a century earlier, during the first Gilded Age, the upper crust used to amuse itself by taking guided tours of the urban demi-monde, thrilling to sites of exotic depravity or ethnic strangeness. They traipsed around “rag-pickers alley” on New York’s Lower East Side or the opium dens of Chinatown, or ghoulishly watched poor children salivate over toys in store window displays they could never hope to touch. Times have changed. The preference now is to entirely remove the unsightly. Nonetheless, the national museum of industrial homicide has, city by city, decade by decade, grown more grotesque.

    Camden, New Jersey, for example, had long been a robust, diversified small industrial city. By the early 1970s, however, its reform mayor Angelo Errichetti was describing it this way: “It looked like the Vietcong had bombed us to get even. The pride of Camden... was now a rat-infested skeleton of yesterday, a visible obscenity of urban decay. The years of neglect, slumlord exploitation, tenant abuse, government bungling, indecisive and short-sighted policy had transformed the city’s housing, business, and industrial stock into a ravaged, rat-infested cancer on a sick, old industrial city.” That was 40 years ago and yet, today, news stories are still being written about Camden’s never-ending decline into some bottomless abyss. Consider that a measure of how long it takes to shut down a way of life...MORE

    ...Detroit. Once, it had been a world-class city, the country’s fourth largest, full of architectural gems. In the 1950s, Detroit had a population with the highest median income and highest rate of home ownership in urban America. Now, the “motor city” haunts the national imagination as a ghost town. Home to two million a quarter-century ago, its decrepit hulk is now “home” to 900,000. Between 2000 and 2010 alone, the population hemorrhaged by 25%, nearly a quarter of a million people, almost as many as live in post-Katrina New Orleans. There and in other core industrial centers like Baltimore, “death zones” have emerged where whole neighborhoods verge on medical collapse. One-third of Detroit, an area the size of San Francisco, is now little more than empty houses, empty factories, and fields gone feral. A whole industry of demolition, waste-disposal, and scrap-metal companies arose to tear down what once had been. With a jobless rate of 29%, some of its citizens are so poor they can’t pay for funerals, so bodies pile up at mortuaries. Plans are even afoot to let the grasslands and forests take over, or to give the city to private enterprise. Even the public zoo has been privatized. With staff and animals reduced to the barest of minimums and living wages endangered by its new owner, an associate curator working with elephants and rhinos went in search of another job. He found it with the city -- chasing down feral dogs whose population had skyrocketed as the cityscape returned to wilderness. History had, it seemed, abandoned dogs along with their human compatriots....


    The FIRE Next Time

    Meanwhile, for more than a quarter of a century the fastest growing part of the economy has been the finance, insurance, and real estate (FIRE) sector. Between 1980 and 2005, profits in the financial sector increased by 800%, more than three times the growth in non-financial sectors. In those years, new creations of financial ingenuity, rare or never seen before, bred like rabbits. In the early 1990s, for example, there were a couple of hundred hedge funds; by 2007, 10,000 of them. A whole new species of mortgage broker roamed the land, supplanting old-style savings and loan or regional banks. Fifty thousand mortgage brokerages employed 400,000 brokers, more than the whole U.S. textile industry. A hedge fund manager put it bluntly, “The money that’s made from manufacturing stuff is a pittance in comparison to the amount of money made from shuffling money around.”... The ascendancy of high finance didn’t just replace an industrial heartland in the process of being gutted; it initiated that gutting and then lived off it, particularly during its formative decades. The FIRE sector, that is, not only supplanted industry, but grew at its expense -- and at the expense of the high wages it used to pay and the capital that used to flow into it.


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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 05:56 AM

    9. Mortgage Catch Pushes Widows Into Foreclosure



    Geraldine Bates lost her husband to kidney failure last year. Now, she has fallen behind on her mortgage payments and is terrified that she will lose her home in Jacksonville, Fla.

    Ms. Bates, 70, is caught in a foreclosure trap that is ensnaring widows across America: she cannot get help lowering her payments until her name is added to the mortgage note, but the lender says she must be current on payments before that can happen... Just as the housing market is recovering, a growing group of homeowners — widows over the age of 50 whose husbands alone were holders of the mortgage — are losing their homes to foreclosure because of a paperwork flaw that keeps them from obtaining loan modifications.

    In the latest chapter of the foreclosure crisis, homeowners over 50 are falling into foreclosure at the fastest pace of any age group, according to nationwide data, in part because women are outliving their spouses and are unable to cope with cuts in their pensions, ballooning medical costs — and the fine print on their mortgages...

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:17 AM

    11. 5 Companies That Treat Their Customers Like Crap




    1. Ticketmaster

    2. Forever 21.

    3. Time Warner Cable.

    4. Delta Airlines.

    5. Spirit Airlines.




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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:35 AM



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    Response to Demeter (Reply #12)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 09:59 AM

    32. That is an awesome read. Things that make you go Hmmmmmm! Have a good day. nt

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #12)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 06:11 PM

    52. Wow, very interesting !

    We just returned from seeing the newest James Bond movie, Skyfall

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    Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #52)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:04 PM

    53. I've been trying to get there for weeks.


    Things keep interfering...

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:38 AM

    13. Morgan Stanley Trader Faces Inquiry on Possible Manipulation



    On paper, Glenn Hadden seemed to be the ideal person to run a large bond trading operation at Morgan Stanley when he was hired in early 2011. Mr. Hadden, a former Goldman partner, was one of the most profitable bond traders on Wall Street.

    But there was more to his story than just stellar financial results. He had left his previous employer, Goldman Sachs, after questions about his trading activity. And now, Mr. Hadden is under investigation over his trading in Treasury futures while at Goldman, according to a regulatory filing.

    Specifically, regulators at the CME Group, which runs commodity and futures exchanges, are investigating whether Mr. Hadden’s purchases or sales of Treasury futures late in the trading day manipulated closing prices in the market and, in turn, made other of his trades more profitable, according to people briefed on the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly.

    Mr. Hadden, who is now the head of the global interest rates desk at Morgan Stanley, has been given formal notice by the CME that an inquiry is under way, meaning that it is at an advanced stage....


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    Response to Demeter (Reply #13)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:22 AM

    19. The Wall is of infinite capacity!

    I'll put in a reservation for Mr. Hadden.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:39 AM

    14. UBS Is Reported to Be Near a Deal on Rate Rigging



    UBS, the Swiss banking giant, is close to reaching settlements with American and British authorities over the manipulation of interest rates, the latest case in a multiyear investigation that has rattled the financial industry and spurred a public outcry for broad reform.

    UBS is expected to pay more than $450 million to settle claims that some employees reported false rates to increase the bank’s profit, according to officials briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

    If the bank agrees to the deals with various authorities, the collective penalties would yield the largest total fines to date related to the rate-rigging inquiry and would increase the likelihood that other financial institutions would face stiff penalties. Authorities dealt their first blow in the rate-rigging case in June when the British bank Barclays agreed to a $450 million settlement...

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 07:56 AM

    15. Study: American Households Hit 43-Year Low In Net Worth



    The median net worth of American households has dropped to a 43-year low as the lower and middle classes appear poorer and less stable than they have been since 1969...According to a recent study by New York University economics professor Edward N. Wolff, median net worth is at the decades-low figure of $57,000 (in 2010 dollars). And as the numbers in his study reflect, the situation only appears worse when all the statistics are taken as a whole. According to Wolff, between 1983 and 2010, the percentage of households with less than $10,000 in assets (using constant 1995 dollars) rose from 29.7 percent to 37.1 percent. The “less than $10,000″ figure includes the numerous households that have no assets at all, or “negative assets,” which is otherwise known as “debt.”

    Over that same period of time, the wealthiest 1 percent of American households increased their average wealth by 71 percent. As noted by Daily Finance, from 1983 to 2010 the share of total wealth held by the richest 10 percent of American households increased from 68.2 percent to 76.7 percent. Meanwhile, all the rest of Americans lost financial ground.

    An August Pew Research Center study found that many in the middle-class are divided on how they believe his gap widened. Fully 85 percent of self-described middle-class adults say it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living. Of those who feel this way, 62 percent say “a lot” of the blame lies with Congress, while 54 percent say the same about banks and financial institutions, 47 percent about large corporations, 44 percent about the Bush administration, 39 percent about foreign competition and 34 percent about the Obama administration. Just 8 percent put “a lot” of blame on the middle class itself.

    “This downbeat take on their economic situation comes at the end of a decade in which, for the first time since the end of World War II, mean family incomes declined for Americans in all income tiers,” the Pew Report stated. “But the middle-income tier—defined in this Pew Research analysis as all adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median —is the only one that also shrunk in size, a trend that has continued over the past four decades.”

    Wolff’s focus on total wealth not only measures how much money a household brings in, but also the amount it accumulates. This latter number is very significant — economically secure households are generally more comfortable spending their disposable income, and are less likely to become a drag on the social safety net.


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    Response to Demeter (Reply #15)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:02 AM

    16. Our Collapsing Economy and Currency By Paul Craig Roberts



    ...The US economy has two serious diseases, and neither one is too much welfare spending. One disease is the offshoring of US middle class jobs, both manufacturing jobs and professional service jobs such as engineering, research, design, and information technology, jobs that formerly were filled by US university graduates, but which today are sent abroad or are filled by foreigners brought in on H-1B work visas at two-thirds of the salary. The other disease is the deregulation, especially the financial deregulation, that caused the ongoing financial crisis and created banks too big to fail, which has prevented capitalism from working and closing down insolvent corporations.

    The Federal Reserve’s policy is focused on saving the banks, not on saving the economy. The Federal Reserve is purchasing not only new Treasury bonds issued to finance the more than one trillion dollar annual federal deficit but also the banks’ underwater financial instruments, taking them off the banks’ books and putting them on the Federal Reserve’s books. Normally, debt monetization of this amount results in rising inflation, but the money that the Federal Reserve is creating in its attempt to manage the public debt and the banks’ private debt is hung up in the banking system as excess reserves and is not finding its way into the economy. The banks are too busted to lend, and consumers are too indebted to borrow. However, the debt monetization poses a second threat that is capable of biting the US economy and consumer living standards very hard. Foreign central banks, foreign investors in US stocks and financial instruments, and Americans themselves observing the Federal Reserve’s continuous monetization of US debt cannot avoid concern about the dollar’s value as the supply of ever more dollars continues to pour out of the Federal Reserve.

    Already there is evidence of central banks and individuals moving out of dollars into gold and silver bullion and into other currencies of countries that are not hemorrhaging debt and money. According to John Williams of Shadowstats.com, the US dollar as a percentage of global holdings of reserve assets has declined from 36.6% in 2006 to 28.7% in 2012. Gold has increased from 10.5% to 12.8% and other foreign currencies except the euro increased from 38.4% to 44.4%. Russia, China, Brazil, India, and South Africa intend to conduct trade among themselves in their own currencies without use of the dollar as reserve currency. The EU countries conduct their trade with one another in euros, and although not reported in the US media, Asian countries are discussing a new common currency for trade among themselves. The world is abandoning the use of the dollar to settle international accounts, and the demand for dollars is falling as the Federal Reserve increases the supply of dollars. This means that the price of the dollar is threatened....

    ...What can be done? For a number of years I have pointed out that the problem is the loss of US employment, consumer income, GDP, and tax base to offshoring. The solution is to reverse the outward flow of jobs and to bring them back to the US. This can be done, as Ralph Gomory has made clear, by taxing corporations according to where they add value to their product. If the value is added abroad, corporations would have a high tax rate. If they add value domestically with US labor, they would face a low tax rate. The difference in tax rates can be calculated to offset the benefit of the lower cost of foreign labor. As all offshored production that is brought to the US to be marketed to Americans counts as imports, relocating the production in the US would decrease the trade deficit, thus strengthening belief in the dollar. The increase in US consumer incomes would raise tax revenues, thus lowering the budget deficit. It is a win-win solution....The second part to the solution is to end the expensive unfunded wars that have ruined the federal budget for the past 11 years as well as future budgets due to the cost of veterans’ hospital care and benefits. According to ABC World News, “In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, 2,333,972 American military personnel have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or both, as of Aug. 30, 2011 [more than a year ago].” These 2.3 million veterans have rights to various unfunded benefits including life-long health care. Already, according to ABC, 711,986 have used Veterans Administration health care between fiscal year 2002 and the third-quarter of fiscal year 2011. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-veterans-numbers/story?id=14928136#1


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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:10 AM

    17. Sheila Bair’s Fabulous Idea: $10 Million Loans for Everyone!



    Former FDIC chair Sheila Bair makes the following provocative proposal:

    For several years now, the Fed has been making money available to the financial sector at near-zero interest rates. Big banks and hedge funds, among others, have taken this cheap money and invested it in securities with high yields. This type of profit-making, called the “carry trade,” has been enormously profitable for them.

    So why not let everyone participate?

    Under my plan, each American household could borrow $10 million from the Fed at zero interest. The more conservative among us can take that money and buy 10-year Treasury bonds. At the current 2 percent annual interest rate, we can pocket a nice $200,000 a year to live on. The more adventuresome can buy 10-year Greek debt at 21 percent, for an annual income of $2.1 million. Or if Greece is a little too risky for you, go with Portugal, at about 12 percent, or $1.2 million dollars a year. (No sense in getting greedy.)


    Because we will be making money in basically the same way as hedge fund managers, we should have to pay only 15 percent in taxes, just like they do. And since we will be earning money through investments, not work, we won’t have to pay Social Security taxes or Medicare premiums. That means no more money will go into these programs, but so what? No one will need them anymore, with all the cash we’ll be raking in thanks to our cheap loans from the Fed.

    I’d take this one step further: At the end of the ten-year period, declare an old-timey, Biblically-sanctified Debt Jubilee.

    Yes, former Chair Bair is speaking very satirically — her proposal is actually a Swiftian attack on, among other things, the ways that the Wall Streeters were and are allowed to profit from our misery — but really, is it any worse than what has actually been done in the name of shoring up capitalism?

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #17)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:19 AM

    18. And it's all thanks to John Houseman and Smith-Barney

    I wonder how many people grew up with these commercials and ultimately came to believe this total and utter bullshit was true?

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #18)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 11:36 AM

    36. I had an account with them once until I discovered....

    they made money the old fashioned way....they stole it. They picked my pocket once during the dot com bubble but I managed to claw my way back by paying attention. Thanks SMW

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #18)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:58 PM

    49. The Houseman ad ran till 86'

    June 87' Smith Barney was sold to Primerica Corp. for $3/4B. In October (a scant 5 mos. later) the the markets tanked.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:28 AM

    20. Why It is Essential That Criminal Bankers are Prosecuted


    By Rowan Bosworth-Davies, author of Fraud in the City: Too Good To Be True, (Penguin 1988), a former head of investigations at regulator FIMBRA (Financial Intermediaries, Managers and Brokers Regulatory Association) and a former Scotland Yard Fraud Squad detective. He blogs at Rowan Bosworth Davies blogspot and tweets at @RowanBosworth Cross posted from Ian Fraser’s blog


    ...There is a growing groundswell of informed opinion among modern commentators and even some politicians that financial regulators should be far more willing to bring criminal charges against those financial practitioners whose actions should be construed as more than just negligent or incompetent.

    I have never understood why ‘white collar’ criminals should be treated any differently from any other criminals, but the fact remains that they are treated differently, and it has been so for many years. The phenomenon was first recorded in a book entitled White Collar Crime by the American criminologist Edwin Sutherland, published in 1949. He pointed out that

    “There is a consistent bias involved in the administration of criminal justice under laws which apply to business and the professions and which therefore involve only the upper socio-economic group…”

    In White Collar Crime, Sutherland argued that the behaviour of ‘respectable’ people, from the upper socio-economic class, frequently exhibits all the essential attributes of crime, but that it is rarely dealt with as such. This situation had arisen, he said, from the tendency for systems of criminal justice in Western societies to favour certain economically and politically powerful groups and to disfavour others — notably the poor and unskilled who comprise the bulk of the visibly criminal population. He added:-

    “Probably much more important however, is the cultural homogeneity of legislators, judges and administrators with businessmen. Legislators admire and respect businessmen and cannot conceive of them as ‘criminals’; businessmen do not conform to the popular stereotype of the ‘criminal..”

    Another American sociologist William Chambliss put it as follows:-

    “One of the reasons we fail to understand business crime is because we put crime into a category that is separate from normal business. Much crime does not fit into a separate category. It is primarily a business activity..”

    In his research, Sutherland discovered that the ‘white collar’ criminal has no real fear of regulators ,and that actions by the regulators were considered to be an unfortunate interlude, but had little ability to exclude malefactors from continuing to trade. Sutherland found that the actions of regulators were seen as a bureaucratic part of a governmental process, and not considered to possess a status which would diminish the perpetrator in the eyes of his social peers. He said:-

    “white collar criminals customarily feel and express contempt for law, government and regulators in a way similar to that in which professional thieves express contempt for policemen and judges. Businessmen characteristically believe that the least amount of government is the most desirable state.”

    ...In what is the most systematic discussion of 19th-century business crime to date, George Robb (1992) notes the reluctance of the legal and criminal justice systems to intervene in the social differentiation of the treatment of white collar criminals. He states;

    “From the mid-19th century through the early decades of the 20th, the law put few obstacles in the paths of white collar criminals, trusting instead that the free market would regulate itself and that good business would drive out bad. The liberal outlook was taken up by the law courts which neglected business frauds and treated white collar criminals with comparative leniency. Throughout much of this period, cultural perceptions of ‘criminality’ remained focused on the ‘dangerous classes’ while elite misconduct was seen as a relatively minor social ill.”

    He highlighted the fact that the harshest sentences for ‘white collar’ offences were invariably reserved for embezzling clerks rather than leading businessmen. He argued that another factor caused such leniency:-

    “Another reason frequently given for the lenient sentencing of most white-collar criminals was that the shame and social disgrace attendant on criminal conviction were punishment enough for middle-class persons. Exclusion from polite society was viewed as a more serious penalty than imprisonment … For white collar criminals, prison was seen as ancillary to their personal sense of shame and loss of social status”


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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:32 AM

    21. FHFA to States that Uphold the Rule of Law: Drop Dead


    If you had any doubt that the ongoing coup by bankers and their allies was proceeding apace, the latest story from Shahien Nasiripour of the Financial Times should settle all doubts...The pink paper reports that Fannie and Freddie’s regulator, the FHFA, plans to [S]punish[/S] impose surcharges on borrowers in states like New York because foreclosures take longer there. This is the excuse, erm, rationale:

    US borrowers in states where home foreclosures are costly and time-consuming will have to pay more for their mortgages, the top housing regulator has proposed.

    Lenders originating new loans in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida and Connecticut will be forced to pay US-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac up to 30 basis points extra for their credit guarantee, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in its proposal.

    The fee would probably be passed on to borrowers. The agency said the surcharge would compensate for the increased cost of repossessing homes in the five states, costs ultimately borne by US taxpayers.

    And the FHFA was open in that its aim was to put state law on its Procrustean bed:

    “If those states were to adjust their laws and requirements sufficiently to move their foreclosure timelines and costs more in line with the national average . . . the fees imposed under the planned approach would be lowered or eliminated,” the FHFA said.

    Now the reality, of course, is more complicated. The two mortgage insurers have refused to crack down on foreclosure mills despite overwhelming evidence of their failure to comply with long-established state law requirements. When the robosigning scandal broke, many judges in judicial foreclosure states started taking borrower challenges to servicer standing more seriously. New York’s courts instituted a requirement that lawyers submitting documents in foreclosures certify that they had taken reasonable steps to certify their accuracy. This might sound like a belt-and-suspenders requirement, but from a procedural standpoint, it made it easier for borrower’s counsel to seek sanctions if he though the bank’s attorney was playing fast and loose. And indeed, as we’ve documented, foreclosures ground to a near halt after the certification requirement was instituted.

    Conversely, in Florida, the idea that protracted foreclosure times are the product of overly cumbersome court requirements is largely a crock. We’ve been reporting for well over a year that delays in foreclosures in Florida are driven almost entirely by the bank/servicer counsel repeatedly putting off court dates, to the point where judges are annoyed and frustrated. It appears a big driver, if not the big driver, is the depressed state of the housing market. Even with the recent wave of bottom-fishing, servicers seem to want to attenuate the foreclosure process to keep borrowers in homes, which both reduces their maintenance costs and keeps too many foreclosed homes from either being held in inventory a long time (which leads to deterioration in value) or put on the market at once (depressing prices).

    What this is really about is a further push to try to achieve national standards, even though real estate or “dirt law” has long been treated by the Supreme Court as a state law matter. So the power of the GSE is being used to pressure state legislatures to join a legal race to the bottom. If state bar associations had instead played their proper role and had disbarred foreclosure mill attorneys, Fannie and Freddie would have been forced to clean up their act on foreclosure processes and the FHFA would not have found it as worthwhile to try to implement this sort of extortion.

    I’m not holding my breath, but the GSE haters also tend to be in favor of state’s rights, so it might be possible to craft an alliance between some of the Fannie and Freddie opponents and borrower advocates on the need for the primacy of the rule of law. Congressman Brad Miller minced no words:

    It is hard to see this as anything other than bullying states that are protecting homeowners from foreclosure abuses. FHFA has no business holding a state’s new mortgage market hostage to extort weaker homeowner protections for existing mortgages.

    This effort to perpetuate bad practices by the GSEs by blaming states needs to be called out and firmly opposed.

    Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/09/fhfa-to-states-that-uphold-the-rule-of-law-drop-dead.html#gIuFG5SUWgQxxjR8.99

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:36 AM

    22. Citi’s Torch Has Passed. Now Find a Knife. By GRETCHEN MORGENSON SEPTEMBER



    THE defenestration of Vikram S. Pandit from the corner office at Citigroup might just be a turning point for shareholders of this great big beleaguered bank. What remains to be seen, however, is whether the change will also protect American taxpayers from future bailouts. There are many positives in Mr. Pandit’s exit, beginning with the indication that Citi’s directors have finally woken up. No more snoring in this sumptuous boardroom, perhaps.

    By appointing Michael L. Corbat to take over as chief executive, the board seems to have recognized that this bank should be overseen by, yes, a banker. Not a lawyer (Charles O. Prince III) and not a hedge fund manager (Mr. Pandit).

    Given Citi’s close ties to Washington, we can only hope that the change of command also reflects a regulatory prodding to overhaul the company. And if that involves cutting this behemoth down to a manageable size, then taxpayers should definitely cheer...Obviously, Mr. Corbat has a tough road ahead. But he also has a big opportunity to reject once and for all the legacy of Sanford I. Weill, Citi’s creator, and Robert E. Rubin, its political protector. Yes, Mr. Corbat must put this institution on a stronger financial footing, but it would be even better if he downsized it so it is no longer too big to succeed.

    ... BACK in January 2011, the office of the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program published a voluminous report on the extraordinary aid provided to Citigroup during the crisis. It made this salient conclusion: “Unless and until an institution such as Citigroup is either broken up, so that it is no longer a threat to the financial system, or a structure is put in place to assure that it will be left to suffer the full consequences of its own folly, the prospect of more bailouts will potentially fuel more bad behavior with potentially disastrous results.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:46 AM

    23. Mortgage demand too much for banks, who respond slowly



    Big banks are hiring mortgage bankers to meet a surge in demand for home loans and refinancings, but they are still struggling to process applications, which could undermine the Federal Reserve's attempts to stimulate the economy.

    Since the Fed announced its plan in September to buy up to $40 billion of mortgages a month, consumer mortgage rates have fallen more slowly and by less than they would have done in more normal times.

    On average, 30-year home loan rates are down just 0.18 of a percentage point this week from September 13, when the Fed announced its latest stimulus program. Some analysts estimate that in more normal markets, rates would have fallen by roughly 0.31 of a percentage point or more. That could save a home buyer thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a mortgage.

    The dysfunction in the mortgage market, which has yet to fully recover after its battering in the U.S. housing bust and subsequent financial crisis, means most benefits from the Fed's new stimulus plan may be accruing to banks instead of consumers...


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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:47 AM

    24. Forcing frequent failures




    I’m sympathetic to the view that financial regulation ought to strive not to prevent failures but to ensure that failures are frequent and tolerable. Rather than make that case, I’ll refer you to the oeuvre of the remarkable Ashwin Parameswaran, or macroresilience. Really, take a day and read every post. Learn why “micro-fragility leads to macro-resilience”.

    Note that “micro-fragility” means that stuff really breaks. It’s not enough for the legal system to “permit” infrequent, hypothetical failures. Economic behavior is conditioned by people’s experience and expectations of actual events, not by notional legal regimes. As a matter of law, no bank has ever been “too big to fail” in the United States. In practice, risk-intolerant creditors have observed that some banks are not permitted to fail and invest accordingly. This behavior renders the political cost of tolerating creditor losses ever greater and helps these banks expand, which contributes to expectations of future bailouts, which further entices risk-intolerant creditors. [1] In order to change this dynamic, even big banks must actually fail. And they must fail with some frequency. Chalk it up to agency problems (“you’ll be gone, i’ll be gone“) or to human fallibility (“recency bias”), but market participants discount crises of the distant past or the indeterminate future. That might be an error, but as Minsky points out, the mistake becomes compulsory as more and more people make it. Cautious finance cannot survive competition with go-go finance over long “periods of tranquility”.

    So we need a regime where banks of every stripe actually fail, even during periods when the economy is humming. If we want financial stability, we have to force frequent failures. An oft-cited analogy is the practice of setting occasional forest fires rather than trying to suppress burns. Over the short term, suppressing fires seems attractive. But this “stability” allows tinder to build on the forest floor at the same time as it engenders a fire-intolerant mix wildlife, creating a situation where the slightest spark would be catastrophic. Stability breeds instability. (See e.g. Parameswaran here and here. Also, David Merkel.) We must deliberately set financial forest fires to prevent accumulations of leverage and interconnectedness that, if unchecked, will eventually provoke either catastrophic crisis or socially costly transfers to creditors and financial insiders.

    Squirrels don’t lobby Congress, when the ranger decides to burn down the bit of the forest where their acorns are buried. Banks and their creditors are unlikely to take “controlled burns” of their institutions so stoically. If we are going to periodically burn down banks, we need some sort of fair procedure for deciding who gets burned, when, and how badly. Let’s think about how we might do that....


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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 08:51 AM

    25. Is debt free money an option?



    An intriguing proposal about how to rethink the global financial system is the notion of debt free money. This idea is typically raised in relation to the fact that the US Federal Reserve is not a central bank, it is a privately owned institution. The documentary “Secrets of Oz” details a long history of battles between American bankers and US presidents, with the bankers winning in 1913. The greenbacks issued by Abraham Lincoln were debt free money, for example. The documentary is worth watching, not necessarily for what it proposes as a solution, but for its history of wars between bankers and politicians, the latest of which we have just witnessed in the GFC.

    The idea of debt free money is a questionable proposal for change. It is not going to happen any time soon and in America the contest was resolved in favour of bankers almost exactly a century ago. Moreover, this argument looks at the monetary system as a national phenomenon, when it has clearly become a global phenomenon with a life of its own. Still, it is worth considering for what it reveals about the situation in which we are now enmeshed and perhaps how the next crisis will be resolved when governments no longer have the financial fire power to produce another bailout. It also sheds light on the question of governance of the financial system. As previously suggested, governments have in this era of “financial de-regulation” handed over governance to the banks and traders, with predictable results.

    First, I will list what I see as the flaws in the argument put forward by Bill Still in the “Secrets of Oz”:

    1. He blames the Depression and recessions on the use of bank issued money with debt. At best, this is a confusion of causation and correlation. The correlations are nowhere near as simple. There have been periods in which debt based money has been economically beneficial, there have been periods when it has been disastrous.

    2. He confuses ownership and control. Private banks may own the Fed, but that does not necessarily equate with private bank control. The Fed acts like a central bank for the most part, even though it is not government owned. Ownership did not confer influence for Lehmann Brothers in 2009. (Lehman was thought to have been one of the owners, although which banks own the Fed seems to be a point of considerable dispute). Equally, many central banks that are owned by their government do a perfectly good job of making a mess of their economies. That is not just a job for privately owned banks, it is a job for all bankers.

      Let’s look at the current situation:

    3. We do have debt free money in most of the developed world. Central banks are running zero or near zero interest rates pretty much everywhere in developed economies, Australia being an exception. That is debt free money, although by the time it gets into the hands of actual business borrowers it has a very health interest rate on it. Someone is making a fortune on the spreads .. oh, banks of course.

    4. The idea that bankers can control the supply of money to get what they want partially applies. They are certainly more reluctant to lend to the “real” economy. But there is a whole level of meta money above that ($700 trillion of derivatives) which is money, so part of the money supply, sort of, which can be confected at will. The conceptualisation of money as a means of exchange, whose “supply” can be restricted has really become a thing of the past. It has become a disappearing point in which traders just make up their own rules.

      Here, I think, is where the argument relates to what is happening.

    5. There is a ceaseless battle between bankers and governments, usually won by bankers in the first round. The second round is where we now are — governments having to fix up a mess and trying to take back the role of setting rules in order for the crisis not to happen again. Money defines the rules for a society and economy, and as the perennial wickedness of bankers becomes obvious, political leaders try to reassume control to restore the society. Obama, for the most part, ducked the issue, perhaps because, being overly generous, he had little choice. But the trend is slowly reasserting itself with an increased regulatory load being applied to the banks.

    6. Debt based money inevitably causes problems because the interest payments compound, bringing on crises as servicing the debt puts too much pressure on cash flows. That is especially a problem for governments. Whether or not governments can legitimately issue debt free money as proposed by Robert Zerliga is arguable. A number of Asian governments have done it for decades, especially Japan, without great results. But it is undoubtedly a bad idea for governments to rack up debt with an interest rate on it. Because the interest payments have to be serviced from increased taxation revenue it becomes a big problem in ageing economies. The only country that gets off the hook is America. Because it has the world’s reserve currency, there is always demand for whatever debt it issues. Europe, as we are seeing, does not escape. A considerable part of Australia’s strong position is due to Peter Costello in the Howard government refusing to run large deficits, unlike, for example, the Blair-Brown government. Government debt is vulnerable.

      The argument about debt free money is a debate about whether to see money as a means of exchange, for utility only, or whether money should apply a cost-of-capital discipline to what happens in an economy. If money is debt free, there is no cost of capital, which, oddly, is pretty much exactly the situation in which we find ourselves. The crises in much of Asia, especially Japan’s implosion, show us what happens when there is no cost of capital. But one can point to many other crises, such as the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, when the compounding of interest eventually made a situation unsustainable. The answer to this dialectic is by no means clear cut.

      What is clear is that bankers should be viewed with absolute and perpetual suspicion. Their behaviour goes in predictable patterns, and the patterns are routinely destructive. The GFC is just the latest iteration. Banking may be a necessary evil, but an evil it all too often is. It should be heavily monitored. Here is a description of how the bankers undid the greenback, Lincoln’s debt free money:

      “Even after (Lincoln’s) death, the idea that America might print its own debt free money set off warning bells throughout the entire European banking community. On April 12th in 1866, the American congress passed the Contraction Act, allowing the treasury to call in and retire some of Lincoln’s greenbacks, With only the banks standing to gain from this, it’s not hard to work out the source of this action. To give the American public the false impression that they would be better off under the gold standard, the money changers used the control they had to cause economic instability and panic the people. This was fairly easy to do by calling in existing loans and refusing to issue new ones, a tried and proven method of causing depression. They would then spread the word through the media they largely controlled that the lack of a single gold standard was the cause of the hardship which ensued, while all this time using the Contraction Act to lower the amount of money in circulation.”

      Little has changed about the behaviour of bankers. Only the complexity of the financial markets, and the bankers’ tricks, have changed.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 09:15 AM

    26. monday always works my nerve

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #26)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:11 PM

    38. Tell me about it


    The fog has gone beyond Halloween levels into the Twilight Zone...and it's noon, already! Give it up!

    The Kid is sneezing, the house looks ready for squatters, and I am also in a state of last nerve trod upon.

    I confess to guilty pleasure, every time I see the market falling, as it should be. Call me a Socialist, or call me sick, I'd rather have an honest market than an artificially inflated one.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #38)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:30 PM

    40. Your fog made it to national morning news.

    Must really be thick.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #40)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:40 PM

    41. Visibility about 6 car lengths.


    There are no atheists today. And half the drivers are without their lights on.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #41)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:12 PM

    45. Sounds like a daily commute on US 19 by the house.

    Except all the old farts are blind. It's a combination of a wheel chair race, NASCAR, and a demolition derby. Almost like an interstate highway with red lights and U-turn lanes.

    The road between Pinellas and Pasco counties are rated the 2 most deadly in Amerika.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 09:17 AM

    27. Norquist still calling cadence in GOP ranks


    At times, it has seemed that Republican lawmakers eyeing a fiscal compromise with President Obama were moving closer to a public split with Grover Norquist, author of the famous no-new-
    taxes pledge that has defined conservative politics for decades.

    Yet Norquist, whose influence in the conservative movement spans well beyond his well-known fixation on taxes, remains an unwavering force in the GOP debate — and even some of the most prominent lawmakers publicly flirting with a break from Norquist have assured him in private that they remain loyal soldiers in the anti-tax cause.

    Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), for example, might have seemed a perfect illustration of the trend away from Norquist’s hard-line views when he said recently that policies backed by Norquist would lead to more debt.

    “I care too much about my country — I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist,” the senator told a Georgia TV station.

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    Response to xchrom (Reply #27)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 12:15 PM

    39. Listened to Norquist on NPR Diane Rehm today, flogging his old propaganda


    If he REALLY cared about the nation and its people, he would release the GOP from their pledges so that they might vote their consciences for the good of the national economy in a time of growing inequality and economic collapse.

    This would instantly rehabilitate the entire GOP and himself.

    But that's not the name of the game he's playing.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #39)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:11 PM

    44. It is a zero sum game....

    and he will kill the party. Totally misreading the election tea leaves.

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    Response to AnneD (Reply #44)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:15 PM

    46. He has power and wants more.

    Any repuke who crosses him gets a well-funded primary from the Kochs, Chamber of Commerce, and Club for Growth.

    They'll have to send a drone to his office to stop him.

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    Response to Fuddnik (Reply #46)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:19 PM

    47. That last election...

    didn't seem to work too well. They said the same thing about Tom DeLay. Maybe we could offer him a spot on Dancing with the Stars. I am picturing something like Analyze That.

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    Response to Demeter (Reply #39)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 03:40 PM

    51. "If he REALLY cared. . . ." He doesn't. End of discussion.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 09:20 AM

    29. Greece launches bond buyback in effort to cut national debt


    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press - Disabled protesters line up prosthetic limbs outside Greece’s parliament in Athens, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. The protest was part of European demonstrations to mark International Day for People with Disabilities on Monday. Greek campaigners say recent austerity cuts have left many disabled Greeks struggling to receive proper care and state support.

    ATHENS, Greece — Greece revealed Monday plans to spend up to €10 billion ($13 billion) in a bond buyback program that it hopes will help stabilize its mountainous debt.

    The buyback is part of efforts to reform Greece’s moribund economy and reduce its debt to sustainable levels, and is among steps the country is taking to secure the disbursement of vital international rescue loans.

    If implemented on time, the new measures “are positive developments, which create plausible expectations of a recovery of the Greek economy,” the Bank of Greece said in an interim report on monetary policy released Monday.

    “This outcome, however, hinges upon a consistent implementation of all the measures legislated, together with policies that will speed up the onset of recovery, including a broader program of structural reforms,” it warned. “Any delays will push the recovery back, with consequences that will be far more severe than anything that has so far happened.”

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 09:24 AM



    Markit U.S. PMI for November is out.
    The index unexpectedly rose to 52.8 from the flash reading that came out earlier in November.
    Gains were led by input prices (63.7 from 57.1) and new export orders (50.3 from 47.2).


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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 09:46 AM

    31. China manufacturing picks up momentum, data shows


    Manufacturing activity in China has continued to rebound in November as two sets of figures have shown the industry is now expanding.

    HSBC said its Purchasing Managers' Index hit a 13-month high, while on Saturday the government's version of the same index touched a 7-month high.

    China, where manufacturing drives much of the economic growth, has seen its economy lose steam.

    But analysts said government moves to boost the sector were having an effect.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 10:02 AM



    DETROIT (AP) -- A better economy and havoc from Superstorm Sandy kept auto sales brisk in November.

    Signs of a healthier U.S. economy and purchases postponed by Sandy pushed up sales for major automakers last month. Chrysler, Nissan and Hyundai reported strong demand on everything from small SUVs to sedans on Monday.

    Americans are more confident about the economy than they've been in a while: Home values are rising, hiring is up and interest rates remain low. And that means people are willing to make big purchases.

    Superstorm Sandy, which hit at the end of October, forced buyers in the Northeast to postpone purchases until November. Also, people whose cars were damaged by the storm are starting to replace them. And because the average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads is approaching 11 years, people are being forced to make costly repairs or buy a new car or truck.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:09 PM

    43. Other GOP antics related to the toon.....

    or why the Dems need to brush up on their chess.

    Why all the resistance to Ms. Rice for Sec of State. Her public comments on the 9/11 attack on the Benghazi consulate was basically nothing more than repeating the information that she had at the time. She did what any team player would do. Even Obama was saying the same thing.

    But this is what the GOP are up to. They have raise holy hell and objected to Rice outright, but the said that John Kerry would be a shoe in. Why is that? Well if Kerry is selected, that leaves his seat as senior Senator from Mass. as open. There will be a special election and the GOP will run Scott Brown as sure as I am typing this. I don't know enough about who they would pit against Brown but I know the GOP think they can weasel out another seat in the Senate.

    I can appreciate their plotting but I have the feeling that they will throw a hissy at every candidate that isn't Kerry. So I am thinking maybe a recess appointment here. Just thinking out loud. It makes me mad that the GOP think the voting public, esp in Mass. is so stupid as to not see through their ruse. And I hope Kerry puts and end to it, I can't see him doing more in the State Department than he does as a Senator.

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    Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

    Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:53 PM

    48. I declare that cartoon sexist.

    "Qualified women", indeed.

    Double entendre much?

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