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Tue Apr 9, 2013, 07:54 PM

STOCK MARKET WATCH -- Wednesday, 10 April 2013

[font size=3]STOCK MARKET WATCH, Wednesday, 10 April 2013[font color=black][/font]

SMW for 9 April 2013

[center][font color=green]
Dow Jones 14,673.46 +59.98 (0.41%)
S&P 500 1,568.61 +5.54 (0.35%)
Nasdaq 3,237.86 +15.61 (0.48%)

[font color=red]10 Year 1.75% +0.01 (0.57%)
30 Year 2.95% +0.02 (0.68%)[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 - Essential Reading:[/font][/font]
Matt Taibi: Secret and Lies of the Bailout


[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.
02/14/13 Gilbert Lopez, former chief accounting officer of Stanford Financial Group, and former controller Mark Kuhrt sentenced to 20 yrs in prison for their roles in Allen Sanford's $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme.
03/29/13 Michael Sternberg, portfolio mgr at SAC Capital, arrested in NYC, charged with conspiracy and securities fraud. Pled not guilty and freed on $3m bail.
04/04/13 Matthew Marshall Taylor,fmr Goldman Sachs trader arrested, charged by CFTC w/defrauding his employer on $8BN futures bet "by intentionally concealing the true huge size, as well as the risk and potential profits or losses associated."
04/04/13 Matthew Taylor admits guilt, makes plea bargain. Sentencing set for 26 June; faces up to 20 years in prison but will likely only see 3-4 years. Says, "I am truly sorry."

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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 -- Wednesday, 10 April 2013 (Original post)
Tansy_Gold Apr 2013 OP
Demeter Apr 2013 #1
Hotler Apr 2013 #2
Demeter Apr 2013 #3
Demeter Apr 2013 #4
Demeter Apr 2013 #5
Demeter Apr 2013 #6
westerebus Apr 2013 #16
Demeter Apr 2013 #7
Demeter Apr 2013 #9
Demeter Apr 2013 #10
Demeter Apr 2013 #11
AnneD Apr 2013 #24
Doctor_J Apr 2013 #31
Demeter Apr 2013 #33
Demeter Apr 2013 #8
AnneD Apr 2013 #29
Demeter Apr 2013 #35
DemReadingDU Apr 2013 #12
muriel_volestrangler Apr 2013 #13
xchrom Apr 2013 #14
xchrom Apr 2013 #15
Demeter Apr 2013 #18
xchrom Apr 2013 #19
Demeter Apr 2013 #17
xchrom Apr 2013 #20
Demeter Apr 2013 #32
xchrom Apr 2013 #21
xchrom Apr 2013 #22
Demeter Apr 2013 #34
xchrom Apr 2013 #23
xchrom Apr 2013 #25
xchrom Apr 2013 #26
xchrom Apr 2013 #27
xchrom Apr 2013 #28
tclambert Apr 2013 #30

Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Tue Apr 9, 2013, 08:54 PM

1. That cartoon is wishful thinking


Elephants KNOW how to lead people around by their noses, if you will pardon the expression.

GOP base is dissolving because of the Social Security and Medicare betrayal...even a Teabagger knows when he's being shafted in the....pocketbook.

Today is Paper Day, with a 90% chance of a thunderstorm as the temperature drops to near freezing while I am out there, humbly plying my trade. Delightful!

So, whatever posting will occur after 40 winks and the removal of the Kid to her program for the day....sweet dreams, everyone!

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Tue Apr 9, 2013, 09:28 PM

2. "Thatcher's Stock Market Was Best Boom in 50 Years"

Yeah! Because the bankers were in their hayday.
"U.K. stocks performed better during Margaret Thatcher's tenure compared to any other period of time over the last 50 years, delivering over 263 percent cumulative returns, according to research by Fidelity Investments."

The market would have fallen even with Thatcher when...
"U.K. stocks had the worst run during Prime Minister Gordon Brown's tenure. The Labour Party leader, was in office just under three years between 2007 and 2010, and his tenure coincided with the demise of Lehman Brothers and the 2008 global financial crisis. The FTSE lost 18.2 percent cumulatively in this period. "

Fucker the bankers. Hang them in the public square and leave them there till all of their flesh as fallen off.

I have no hope. I see no future.

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Response to Hotler (Reply #2)

Tue Apr 9, 2013, 09:37 PM

3. I see the future, and it doesn't look good


But hope is the mettle within each of us.



A person's ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.


spirit - nature - temper - temperament - character


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 06:08 AM

4. 'Break Up The Banks' Bill Gains Steam In Senate As Wall Street Lobbyists Cry Foul



Momentum to break up the nation's largest banks is building quickly on Capitol Hill, just weeks after a unanimous, symbolic vote in the Senate to end taxpayer subsidies to Wall Street. The latest sign of this swift and unexpected shift in the political wind came Monday when Rob Nichols, a lobbyist with the Financial Services Forum, attacked new capital standards proposed by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and David Vitter (R-La.) as "comically high." The Brown-Vitter bill is, in fact, designed to put banks in a difficult position. As Brown told HuffPost in February, he hopes to move legislation this year to break up big banks; Vitter echoed Brown's comments on the Senate floor. By crafting a bill that requires banks with more than $400 billion in assets to hold at least 15 percent of those assets in hard capital, the senators hope to encourage the handful of multitrillion-dollar behemoths to split up into smaller firms.

Brown has been pursuing this line of attack for years, pushing a 'break up the banks' bill during the 2010 debate over the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Wall Street endured the heat, however, and emerged from the fracas without having to downsize. But bank lobbyists are growing increasingly wary of the Senate. On Monday, Financial Services Forum CEO Nichols attacked the Brown-Vitter bill in Politico's "Morning Money," a D.C. newsletter focused on the financial industry. The entry was headlined: "WALL STREET REACT TO BROWN/VITTER: 'COMICAL.'" Brown spokeswoman Meghan Dubyak responded in a statement to HuffPost: "Not surprising coming from a group that thinks deregulation is the answer to the credit bubble and Great Recession."

Nichols' comment to "Morning Money" comes just days after a Vitter spokesman said that a bank lobbyist "stole" a draft of the legislation in order to generate opposition to it. "A Wall Street lobbyist stole and distributed a copy of our draft bill to try and drum up support for protecting the big banks’ taxpayer funded handouts -- and ultimately remain too-big-to-fail," Vitter spokesman Luke Bolar said Friday.

Lobbyists and lawmakers are typically very cordial, and such tactics and rhetoric underscore unusual tensions between Wall Street and Washington...Laena Fallon, a spokeswoman for Financial Services Forum, which represents major banks, told HuffPost that, despite the temperature of the rhetoric, the group's underlying argument is valid. "Every dollar of additional capital reduces banks' ability to lend by a considerable multiple. Given that banking system capital is already at record highs and that economic growth stalled to just 0.4 percent last quarter, while 23 million Americans remain out of work or under-employed, it is not the time to remove that kind of lending capacity from our economy," she said. Lending, in fact, has been stagnant since the recession hit, with banks preferring to funnel money into securities and government debt rather than issue loans to businesses, as former FDIC Chair Shiela Bair noted in March...But the fact that a bank lobbyist even felt the need to make a public assault on Brown-Vitter suggests there is momentum behind the legislation, which would likely have gone ignored last year...

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 06:10 AM

5. Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze



A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over. The secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists lay bare the names behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore hideaways.

They include American doctors and dentists and middle-class Greek villagers as well as families and associates of long-time despots, Wall Street swindlers, Eastern European and Indonesian billionaires, Russian corporate executives, international arms dealers and a sham-director-fronted company that the European Union has labeled as a cog in Iran’s nuclear-development program. The leaked files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well-connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.

The records detail the offshore holdings of people and companies in more than 170 countries and territories.

The hoard of documents represents the biggest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organization. The total size of the files, measured in gigabytes, is more than 160 times larger than the leak of U.S. State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010...


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Response to Demeter (Reply #5)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 06:20 AM

6. Global tax dodgers exposed UPDATED REGULARLY--MORE DETAIL



ICIJ pointed out that many of the world’s major banks – including UBS, Clariden and Deutsche Bank – have aggressively worked to provide their customers with secrecy-cloaked companies in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore hideaways:

Documents obtained by ICIJ show how two top Swiss banks, UBS and Clariden, worked with TrustNet to provide their customers with secrecy-shielded companies in the BVI and other offshore centers.

Clariden, owned by Credit Suisse, sought such high levels of confidentiality for some clients, the records show, that a TrustNet official described the bank’s request as “the Holy Grail” of offshore entities — a company so anonymous that police and regulators would be “met with a blank wall” if they tried to discover the owners’ identities.

Clariden declined to answer questions about its relationship with TrustNet.

“Because of Swiss banking secrecy laws, we are not allowed to provide any information about existing or supposed accountholders,” the bank said. “As a general rule, Credit Suisse and its related companies respect all the laws and regulations in the countries in which they are involved.”

A spokesperson for UBS said the bank applies “the highest international standards” to fight money laundering, and that TrustNet “is one of over 800 service providers globally which UBS clients choose to work with to provide for their wealth and succession planning needs. These service providers are also used by clients of other banks.”


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Response to Demeter (Reply #5)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 09:19 AM

16. And in the US, the Department of Justice remains under the steady leadership of the leadership.

I read last week that a prostitution sting operation was conducted in my county. Included in the list of participating agencies were the local cops from three surrounding jurisdictions. That would be the drug task force, the vice squads, and the assorted investigations units of the local departments. Some where around thirty to forty persons give or take a dozen.
You would think that might be enough to cover the operation. But, wait it gets better. The FBI as part of a Department of Homeland Security task force that included the DEA and Immigration was there too. Add a dozen.
I had no idea the county was such a hot bed of prostitution. Twenty arrests for solicitation all toll. Last time I looked we had one of the lowest crime rates in the state of Virginia. In the entire country for that matter.
I can hear the requests in the hallowed halls' of the Capitol being made that if they only had a few drones, they could have saved thousands in manpower costs better used to fight crime and defend against the terrorism.
Yet, not one of the true defenders of the faith will investigate the prostitution happening in the those other hallowed halls of power.
Perhaps drones are the answer.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 06:26 AM

7. The Way Forward is a Single-Issue Social Security Defense Party By Dave Lindorff



The history of third parties in America is pretty dismal. The system is rigged against them, for one thing. But equally problematic is the lack of focus that leads to infighting and splits whenever a third party is created. A great answer to this would be to create a third party that has a laser-like focus on a single issue, where there is little or no room for debate over what the party stands for. As it happens, there is such an issue, and it has the potential to decimate the two major parties by pulling support from both their bases. I’m talking about Social Security and its more recent offspring, Medicare, both under threat by the Democratic/Republican duopoly in Washington.

Social Security is without a doubt the most popular program ever created in Washington. Virtually every American pays into it and expects to rely on it in old age, or if he or she becomes disabled. There are currently 54 million people who are receiving Social Security benefits ( 39 million are 65 or older, and 8 million are disabled). And there are some 74 million Baby Boomers -- people born between the years of 1946 and 1964, representing one-in-four of all Americans -- who will be receiving it over the next several decades. Add to that number the many younger people who are ardent advocates of the program, not just because they expect to also depend upon it, but because they know it is providing already for their parents and grandparents, and you have a bloc of voters and potential voters the likes of which this nation has never seen. The key to getting them all together is establishing a political party whose raison d’être is preserving, improving and expanding Social Security benefits. Medicare is also an important part of this concept. Everyone who receives Social Security in retirement is also eligible for Medicare, as are those 65 and older who choose to wait a bit to earn higher Social Security benefits. Again, the number currently depending on Medicare is 50 million, but this will rise dramatically as the Baby Boom generation reaches 65. The Medicare program is under even graver threat than Social Security at the moment as Democrats and Republicans in Washington, both beholden to huge medical industry and insurance industry campaign donors who want to undermine the program, do the bidding of their paymasters.

It’s time for progressives, advocacy organizations of the elderly and the disabled, labor activists and everyone who is worried about halting and reversing the decline of American society and democratic governance to rally around defending these two critical programs created, respectively, in the 1930s and 1960s.

The Social Security Defense Movement envisioned here would organize a single-issue party with the following simple platform:

[LI]Defend Social Security benefits and ensure that they are adequate to provide for a decent retirement for all Americans!
[LI]No increase in the Social Security payroll tax rate!
[LI]Eliminate the cap on income subject to Social Security payroll taxes! This would mean that all income would be subject to the tax and the wealthy would finally pay their share!
[LI]Add a tax on so-called unearned income from investment! This would mean that people who live on profits from investments, interest income, etc., would pay into the Social Security fund, too. (Note: income in retirement could be exempted, so people drawing on their tax-deferred IRA or 402(k) money would not have to pay a Social Security tax on it.)
[LI]Tax all short-term stock and bond trades at 0.25 percent, with the revenue generated to be designated for bolstering the Social Security and Medicare funds!
[LI]Eliminate Medicare Parts B, C and D! Roll doctor and drug coverage into Part A making it a single, simple program covering all medical costs, and just throw out Part C, which simply provides a huge profitable business to the private insurance industry to cherry pick healthier elderly people, luring them into subsidized private plans and leaving government-run Medicare to pay for the sicker, more costly beneficiaries.
[LI]Lower the age of eligibility for Medicare, gradually if necessary, but quickly, so that all Americans will be covered by one government insurance program, fully funded by taxes, and bar private insurance companies from providing health insurance, with the government negotiating reimbursement rates for hospitals, drug companies, doctors and medical device companies. (Explanation: Right now, the 10 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who are the oldest use 90 percent of Medicare’s funds. Younger Medicare users in their 60s use are much less costly. As people are younger, their health care costs are even less, so it is actually a bargain to bring them into Medicare. They would be paying in much more than they would be costing. This explains why Canada’s universal Medicare program is such a bargain. Canadians pay 11 percent of GDP for in total for Medicare that covers everyone, while Americans pay 18 percent of GDP for health care and many millions are simply left out and get none.)
[LI]Eliminate the Veterans Administration and make all veterans eligible for Medicare immediately.
[LI]Eliminate the two-tiered health care system created by Medicaid, and enroll all Medicaid eligible people in Medicare, lifting that financial burden entirely from the states.

The pure focus of a Social Security Defense Party on the issue of fighting to protect and improve (not "reform" Social Security and Medicare might at first appear narrow and parochial, but as one considers the implications, it becomes clear that can be the core of a whole new progressive movement... MORE..The best thing about a Social Security Defense Party is that it would draw heavily on the base of both the Democratic and the Republican Parties. Regardless of their political views on issues like prayer in schools, abortion, flag-burning, stem cell research, animal rights, climate change, gun ownership or the death penalty, polls show that the vast majority of Americans, left and right, support Social Security and Medicare. Most of them know that they are being betrayed on those two critical issues by their party leaders and elected representatives, Democratic and Republican. Independents, too, support both programs overwhelmingly. A party that speaks resolutely about defending and improving both programs, and that runs candidates who do the same, could potentially vacuum up supporters from both major parties, leaving them empty husks.

And that’s what they should be.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #7)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 07:03 AM

9. Social Security: Can Democrats Save Obama From Himself?



The plan to cut Social Security will destroy any hope of recovery. President Obama picked the very day that new job creation collapsed to propose a deflationary budget deal featuring cuts in Social Security and Medicare. This is perverse economics and worse politics, on several grounds. The economy created just 88,000 jobs in March, down from close to 200,000 in other recent months, for one main reason: The January 2 budget deal and the March 1 sequester that hiked taxes on working people and cut public spending. In the January deal, payroll taxes on working people were raised by some $120 billion. The more highly publicized tax hike on the top one percent raised less than $65 billion. The sequester added another $85 billion of budget cuts. The combined economic contraction will be about $270 billion this year, and according to the Congressional Budget Office the result will be to cut economic growth roughly in half. But the deal that Obama is trying to coax the Republicans into accepting would cut the budget at this rate for an entire decade. The economics are just insane.

There is no evidence that banks are waiting to lower interest rates (which are already rock bottom) or businesses waiting to invest, pending progress on a grand budget bargain. Businesses are hesitating to invest because customers don't have money in their pockets -- and a deflationary budget deal will only make the economy worse. The politics are worse than the economics. President Obama, violating every rule of smart negotiating, has put his final proposal on the table -- cuts in Social Security and Medicare in exchange for the Republicans' (still imaginary) agreement to raise taxes -- before the Republicans have made a single concession. The Republican habit is well-established -- take Obama's "final" offer as the new starting point and demand further concessions. With this strategy, our president has let them take him to the cleaners for more than four years now, and is still hoping that sweet reasonableness will produce compromise. It never has and never will. The worst part of all may be the president's offer to cut Social Security, using the sneaky, backdoor method of reducing the annual cost of living adjustment, disguised as a technical change, wink-wink, nod-nod. The gimmick is "chain-weighting" the consumer price index. The premise is that the CPI overstates inflation because when prices rise, people find cheaper substitutes. There are two problems with this. First, hard-pressed consumers indeed find ways to pinch pennies, but cat food isn't Chicken of the Sea. Second, old folks actually face higher inflation than the rest of us because they spend so much of their budget on health care, whose costs are rising faster than other goods. The elderly are also suffering from the rock bottom interest rates that the Fed is using to keep the economy on life supports -- which translate into very low returns on savings.

If Democrats stand for anything, it is defense of Social Security and Medicare -- America's two most broadly beneficial and most beloved government programs -- and the president just gave away this last bit of product differentiation. You have to wonder where he is getting his advice. (Bob Rubin, maybe?) Social Security benefits should be increased, not cut. The share of workers with traditional pensions is down to about 15 percent. The rest either have no pensions or have 401k plans that are not pensions at all. 401k's, like IRAs and Keoghs, are tax-sheltered savings plans. More than half of people between 55 and 64 have no pension and no retirement plan at all other than Social Security. What we need is an increase in core Social Security benefits, and a second tier of Social Security as a universal, fully portable pension. It could be funded by raising taxes on the rich, whose effective tax rates have been steadily cut for four decades, and who now command more of our national income than ever before.

If you don't read any other piece of policy wonkery this year, you owe it to yourself, your parents, and your own golden years to read "Expanded Social Security," the recently published report from the New America Foundation (co-authored by my Demos colleague, Robert Hiltonsmith.) It provides a politically serious blueprint for expanding the retirement income of the elderly, rather than selling them out. If we had a Democratic Party worthy of the name, it would get behind this proposal and change the entire dynamics of the Social Security debate...Every Democrat in Congress should be standing up to the White House and refusing to back a budget that cuts a nickel from Social Security or Medicare. Yes, we need to reform those programs, but not in the context of an ill-advised set of general budget cuts that will only sandbag the fragile recovery. In the case of Social Security, reform means increasing, not cutting the income support of the elderly. In the case of Medicare, reform is spelled National Health Insurance.

In the past, Republicans have saved Obama from himself by refusing to consider any tax hikes. Now, I'm beginning to think, it's time for Democrats save him from himself. And the Democratic Party. And us.

Robert Kuttner is formely co-editor of The American Prospect and a senior fellow at Demos. His latest book is "Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency."

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Response to Demeter (Reply #9)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 07:12 AM

10. 7 Chilling Facts About US Retirement That Should Make Obama Tremble Before Cutting SS, Medicare



Obama's plan would be economically irresponsible, socially disruptive and morally repugnant...We are headed for a catastrophic retirement train wreck. A Wall Street-driven financial crisis has stripped millions of people of things like jobs, pensions and home equity that were supposed to deliver a dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work. The crisis has also provided certain interests the opportunity to make false claims about the “unaffordability” of vital social insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare that help the 99% make it. These opportunistic “Raiders of Your Lost Retirement” do not give a hoot if you starve in your golden years – this is about money to them. American financiers hate Social Security, for example, because they want to push us toward private retirement accounts on which they can charge fees. A large swath of the wealthy does not like Social Security and Medicare because they do not like to pay taxes...You might think Obama would be on the side of the citizens on this one..but No!..Here are seven things that should make Obama tremble before he dares to announce such a betrayal of the American people.

1. Retiring on thin air: In a recent report by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI), we find that a whopping 57 percent of American workers have managed to put away less than $25,000 for retirement – less than the one year’s annual income for the median American adult. In 2008, that number was 49 percent, and the problem is getting worse every year. Half of American workers are either “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that they will be able to make ends meet in their retirement. In her must-read New York Times op-ed, economist Theresa Ghilarducci doesn’t mince words – or numbers. She estimates that close to half of middle-class workers will be poor or near poor in retirement and reduced to living on a food budget of about $5 a day. That won’t even buy a decent bag of cat food. In the face of this bleak picture, the President appears to be poised to propose a cut to Social Security in the form of a “chained CPI” – a way of calculating annual cost of living increases that does not keep up with the actual costs senior have to pay. Economists including Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, have discredited chained CPI. Baker warns that it can cost retiring 65-year-olds the sum of $650 per year, and that number can leap to twice that amount once seniors reach 85.

2. Pension perils
: American workers like pensions better than higher incomes, more vacation time and bigger bonuses. And it’s no wonder: retirees with pensions have far more income security than their pension-less counterparts. In 2011, one out of three older adults enjoyed some form of pension, but that number has been shrinking for decades. Since 1985, 84,350 pension plans have vanished. Corporate pensions have gone the way of the dodo bird and the precious few private pensions that remain are in jeopardy. Public pensions are the targets of cynical austerity hawks who use the excuse of state and municipal budget crises that have little to do with pensions (and much to do with Wall Street) to make war on workers’ retirements. This puts an added strain on retirees, and we don’t yet know how catastrophic it’s going to be because many affected by the pension killing-spree will not retire for many years. But we surely know this: pensions have been a vital part of retirement that have kept retirees afloat, and without them, more will sink into poverty...While we’re on the subject, it may interest you to know that the President will receive a pension that will start at around 200k per year after his second term, and it will go up from there. That’s just the beginning – other perks include travel, office expenses, and so on. And yet he is preparing to make it more difficult for those Americans without pensions to survive. Something wrong with this picture?

3. The 401(k) catastrophe: It’s high time to face it: the 401(k) experiment, which started in the 80s, has been a complete disaster. 401(k)s don’t even come close to providing the retirement security promised to workers. To expect Americans to morph into finance experts who can evaluate mutual funds and stockmarket choices may be one of the most absurd legacies of the last three decades. And, as Helaine Olen outlines in her book Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry, people trying to save for retirement have become a prime target of hustlers who push mutual funds with hidden fees and needless charges which pile up and rob the contributor of hard-earned money. And lest we forget, Enron, like many other companies, put strong pressure on employees to invest in the company’s stock. Result? Many employees lost most of their life savings when the company blocked workers from selling its stock held in 401(k) accounts, just as the stock price was taking a downward plunge. 401(k)s are volatile, complicated, expensive, and inadequate. Social Security, on the other hand, is simple, fiscallly sound, and prudently managed.

4. Political games don’t wash: Social Security raiders tell us that the program needs to be “fixed,” with very little to back up their claims. There is nothing wrong with the program now, so they forecast – and let’s remember how good these same people were at forecasting the financial crisis – some kind of future crisis...Here are the facts: According to the trustees of the Social Security trust fund there might be a shortfall in revenues against predicted claims in 2033 if economic growth is not good. You could reasonably argue that a tweak ought to be made a couple of decades down the road when we actually know how things stand, like making the rich pay Social Security taxes on the money they make over the current low ceiling of just over $100,000. There is no justification for doing anything now, and the raiders know it. So they make things up. Economists Thomas Ferguson and Rob Johnson note this in their article, “From New Deal To Raw Deal: The Real Economics Of Cutting Social Security.” They observe that Peter Orszag, the former head of the Obama administration's Office of Management and Budget, who now works at Citigroup, has admitted that Social Security has nothing to do with any budget crisis:

“The first yellow flag is Orszag's frank acknowledgment that Social Security features barely at all in any putative budget short fall: ‘Social Security is not the key fiscal problem facing the nation. Payments to its beneficiaries amount to 5 percent of the economy now; by 2050, they're projected to rise to about 6 percent.’”

Orszag knows the truth, but because he is aligned with the interests of financiers, he comes up with a stunning justification for making cuts:

“As Orszag frankly confesses, ‘even though Social Security is not a major contributor to our long-term deficits, reforming it could help the federal government establish much-needed credibility on solving out-year fiscal problems.’"

In other words, politicians have to cut Social Security not because it has any negative impact on the budget, but to prove to the markets that they can. How’s that for logic?

5. Americans oppose cuts: The American people have made it abundantly clear that they do not want Social Security and Medicare cut. And yet the President has made your retirement a bargaining chip in budget negotiations with Republicans, smuggling the cuts through the customs of specious arguments about “the need to govern” and so on. Let’s call this what it is: immoral. The social insurance that provides hard-working Americans protection against financial and health calamities should not be a bargaining chip any more than civil rights should be a bargaining chip. The dignity of our elderly, not to mention the health of our children and vulnerable citizens who rely on these programs to live, are part of the fundamental structure of a decent society and are essential to our economic prosperity. How, for example, is a person at peak working age to remain fully productive when she has to care for elderly parents who can’t make ends meet? A more cynical view of what’s happening is that Obama is paying off his wealthy donors. A political scientist I know warned me when Obama was elected the first time that he would do very little on financial reform because Wall Street had always been one of his major funders. That same political scientist warned me this time around that Obama would make cutting entitlements a priority in his second term for much the same reason: a coalition of big business interests supported his reelection, and this is what they want in return. If Obama goes through with these cuts, he will have spelled out for all those who supported him exactly who he represents.

6. Means-testing Medicare is discredited: Reports say that Obama will propose to cut $400 billion from Medicare over the next decade. One idea that may appear in his plan is means-testing, a notion that has long been the golden dream of those who hate Medicare and Social Security because it tends to diminish political support for the programs...A few months back, when a lot of Democrats and liberals were touting means-testing, I decided to ask several prominent economists, including a Nobel Prize-winner, to explain to me what they make of it. Please turn your attention to: “6 Reasons Joseph Stiglitz and Other Top Economists Think Means-Testing Medicare and Social Security Is a Destructive Idea.” Their conclusion: means-testing is nothing more than a back-door strategy for taking away benefits earned by hard-working people. As Stiglitz explained, it undermines progressive values by going against notions of fairness and shared citizenship while promoting the false idea that Social Security and Medicare are welfare, which they aren’t. As James Galbraith explained, these programs are not charity; they are social insurance. “We don’t means-test public education,” Stiglitz told me, “because we believe that we want people to have the same opportunities and we lose out on that with means-testing.” Shouldn’t that go for dignified retirement and adequate medical care in old age? Stiglitz thought so. Healthcare costs are a terrible problem, but not because your grandmother receives benefits. The problems stems from monopolistic conditions in the insurance industry, ridiculously high prices for drugs charged by pharmaceutical companies, and a fee-for-service system that encourages doctors to charge for expensive and unnecessary services. If politicians were really interested in addressing rising healthcare costs, they would deal with those issues.

7. Women at risk: Woman were instrumental in getting Obama elected, and yet he is proposing to throw them under the bus. As Manisha Thakor points out, women live longer than men and need more support in old age. Thakor notes that recently, ABC World News Tonight anchor Charlie Gibson reported that when it comes to healthcare, male retirees required $170,000, while female retireres had to come up with $240,000. And yet how are they going to find this money when they retire with two-thirds of the assets of men? Saving is particularly difficult for women because they still do more housework and have added childcare and eldercare responsibilities compared. Plus, they also earn less than their male counterparts. Proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare will mean that more women will sink into the mire of poverty. Much has been said of the GOP war on women. How sad and cynical for a Democratic president to join them.

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of 'Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.' She received her Ph.d in English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing and semiotics. She is the Director of AlterNet's New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #10)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 07:20 AM

11. Have Wall Street's "Third Way" Democrats Ever Been Right About Anything? By Richard (RJ) Eskow



Have the Wall Street Democrats of "Third Way" or their predecessors in the Clintonite "Democratic Leadership Council" ever been right about an important economic issue? That's not meant as a thoughtless insult or flippant one-liner. We consider it a legitimate line of inquiry, especially at a time when their pronouncements are being used as ammunition for an aggressive campaign against Social Security, Medicare, and other vital government programs...what's the verdict on the core economic issues of our time?

Civil Society

Prof. William K. Black Jr. was understandably displeased by The New York Times' description of the Third Way think tank as "center/left." Prof. Black writes that "Some lies will not die ... Third Way is Wall Street on the Potomac. It is funded secretly by Wall Street (it refuses to reveal its donors), it is openly run by Wall Street, and it lobbies endlessly for Wall Street." Black adds that "Third Way, like every Pete Peterson front group, is dedicated to shredding the safety net as its highest priority and throwing the Nation back into a gratuitous recession through self-destructive austerity." The description of Third Way as a "Pete Peterson front group" might seem to contradict the "Wall Street" label. It doesn't. Peterson's a hedge fund billionaire who has devoted decades of his life, as well as an enormous sum (he spent nearly a half-billion dollars in one five-year period alone) to slashing Social Security and lowering taxes for himself, his ultra-wealthy peers, and large corporations. Black's words are likely to be deemed uncivil in most Washington circles, where it's considered impolite to mention a gentleman's or lady's wealthy (and potentially corrupting) funding sources in polite company. Besides, who wants to find themselves thinking negative thoughts about lobbying when you may want to pursue it yourself someday? This "civil" attitude toward an uncivic activity proved very useful in the 1990s, as corporate Democrats joined with Republicans in the extremely civil exercise of deregulating Wall Street on behalf of their common paymasters.

Wild in the Streets

In those days Third Way President Jonathan Cowan was predicting -- or attempting to instigate -- a generational war over Social Security and Medicare benefits. In 1994 Cowan and Rob Nelson co-authored a book called Revolution X, which argued that greedy baby boomers were going to ruin the economy with their rapacious appetites for things like medical care and financial security when they grew old. Cowan, who was born in 1965, was young enough back then to have employed a slogan like "Don't respect the Social Security Trust Fund of anyone over thirty." The book predicted cataclysmic events in 2011 when, said the authors, rapacious Boomers "will stop working, many will stop paying taxes, and all will start gobbling up pensions and health care benefits." (Note the use of the word "gobbling": it's a classic Peterson-ism.) The result, predicted Revolution X, would be a "shock wave" that would "blast people from their homes, rapidly plummet millions into poverty, and threaten the economic security and financial stability of our entire nation." Cowan and Nelson were so eager to stir up an anti-elderly frenzy that they actually actually conducted a demonstration outside the headquarters of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). That was done while they were leading a Peterson-funded group called "Lead or Leave," and it was as unsuccessful in provoking intergenerational warfare as their subsequent efforts have been. Their failure did not, however, prevent them from continuing to "gobble up" Peterson funds...It's the nineties now. The time's ripe for a generational uprising which calls for lower government spending, right? Wrong.

Fresh Princes of Wall Street

A decade and a half later something did "blast people from their homes, rapidly plummet millions into poverty, and threaten the economic security and financial stability of our entire nation." In fact, the entire world was wounded. But "greedy geezers" didn't cause that cataclysm: Third Way's Wall Street sponsors did. They trashed the global economy like a Baby Boom rock star trashes a hotel room. We didn't hear much about that from Cowan and Company. Given their close relationship with Wall Street, one might hope that Third Way and its peers could offer some useful thoughts on ways to improve regulation and oversight. One would be wrong. That's not to say that Third Way has been completely silent on the banking issue. In one notable example, it put forward a proposal that would preempt state law in order to protect bankers who illegally foreclose on homeowners. They don't put it that way, of course, but that would be the end result. (Yves Smith and Bob Borosage have more.) Third Way's board members include a number of prominent financial types who benefited mightily from bank deregulation, including some (like William M. Daley) who lobbied and fought for deregulation. Funny. The Third Way crowd keeps saying they're bringing "fresh" and "new" perspectives to the debate, but all they do is keep rehashing twenty-year-old talking points. They don't seem to have learned from the economic shocks -- and financial revelations -- of the 21st Century. The world has learned some hard lessons, but they still want to party like it's 1999. Hey, bankers deserve a break, right? Wrong.


Classic Rock

(Deficit) Apocalypse Now

Less Is More Less

Power to the (Right) People

Third Way on health care? Wrong. (And wrong in a way that will drive up health care costs, which should be a deficit hawk's biggest concern.)

Third Way on voter opinion in battleground states? Wrong.

Third Way on progressive opinion about Social Security? Wrong.

Third Way on public opinion about Social Security? Wrong.

Third Way on the corporate-driven rules of the new economy? Wrong.

Have they been right about any economic issue of import? We haven't found any evidence for that. But we promise to keep on looking.

Up next: Third Way finds a new issue -- with predictable results.

Richard Eskow is a writer, a senior fellow with the Campaign for America's Future, and the host of a weekly radio show, "The Breakdown."

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Response to Demeter (Reply #10)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 10:24 AM

24. The first vote I cast for Obama....

has been one of my most bitter regrets.

I did not make that mistake this time around. My candidate did not win but mighty rivers start with a single drop of water.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #10)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 12:17 PM

31. You should Xpost this to GD


Last edited Wed Apr 10, 2013, 02:07 PM - Edit history (1)

excellent general read

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Response to Doctor_J (Reply #31)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 04:20 PM

33. Please do!


It's as much as I can handle to do it the first time...

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 06:51 AM

8. Daddy's Been Arrested: The Arrogance of America's Financial Criminals on Full Display



The crimes of a high-level player in an insider-trading ring starts with what he's done to his children. The final inch of the story turned me into an emotional puddle...

At 6 a.m. last Friday, the FBI arrested Michael S. Steinberg, a 41-year-old stock trader for New York hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors, at his $8 million Manhattan co-op. This brings to nine the number of SAC employees indicted in the investigation of its founder, Steven A. Cohen, whose net worth is around $10 billion. Four of them have pleaded guilty. Apparently the FBI is trying to reel in and flip Cohen's conspirators in an alleged insider trading scheme, and Steinberg -- Cohen's golden boy -- is their latest catch. The New York Times has been all over the SAC investigation, running front-page stories about how Cohen, even as the F.B.I. is now tightening its lasso on him, has gone on a shopping spree, buying a $60 million oceanfront home in East Hampton and paying $155 million to casino magnate Steve Wynn for "Le Rêve," the Picasso that Wynn had accidentally put his elbow through in 2006. (Since Wynn reportedly had paid less than half of that to acquire the painting in 2001, Cohen seems to have gotten no discount for wear and tear.)

Saturday's Times story includes a thumbnail photo of Steinberg on A1. You can imagine the admiration and envy his charmed life must have aroused. He's young, smart, good-looking and -- until now, anyway -- way successful. He has a wife and two kids, and with three other hedge fund managers he also started Natan, which "inspires young philanthropists to become actively engaged in Jewish giving by funding innovative projects that are shaping the Jewish future." But to the FBI, Michael Steinberg was a high-level player in an insider-trading ring that illegally profited from secret financial data about technology stocks Dell and Nvidia. Steinberg knew they were closing in on him. Here's the kicker to the Times story:

Since his name surfaced in the investigation, Mr. Steinberg has occasionally spent evenings in New York hotels to avoid being handcuffed at home in front of his two children. Federal agents refused to let Mr. Steinberg surrender of his own volition at F.B.I. headquarters downtown, expressing the view that white-collar defendants should not be given special treatment.

Last week, Steinberg and his wife and kids had been visiting relatives and taken a trip to Disney World. On Thursday, he returned to his Upper East Side place without them. At dawn on Friday, the feds came for him with the cuffs.

I can't get those kids out of my mind. They did nothing wrong, and they were spared what could have been a traumatizing moment. But I can't help thinking about what it was like to learn the news from their mother on Friday. It's almost unbearably poignant to imagine their family life last week, during the final days of what they will inevitably think of as Before: the kids having innocent fun on the rides, oblivious of what's to come, as their parents struggle to join the laughter and savor the last moments before After starts shadowing them forevermore...Deterrence is one of our criminal justice system's goals. If Michael Steinberg pleads guilty or is convicted, his future punishment will also punish his family. And yes, he should have thought about that ahead of time, while rising at SAC and accumulating the rich life's rewards. A front page Los Angeles Times story calls Preet Bahara, Manhattan's top U.S. prosecutor, "the new sheriff of Wall Street" because of the 71 insider trading convictions he's racked up since he took office three years ago. During these last three years, those convictions had to have been on Michael Steinberg's radar, along with the domestic carnage they must have caused. But -- if Steinberg turns out to have done what he's been indicted for -- his belief that he wouldn't get caught must have kept any heart wrenching images of his kids' uncomprehending faces from stopping him...

The day after Michael Steinberg was arrested, I was talking about his efforts not to be handcuffed in front of his kids with a friend of mine whose own father had gone to jail when he was a kid. My friend's childhood days are a long time ago, but what happened to his father may still be the most important contributor to who he is as a man. He still wrestles with the demons that his father's imprisonment unleashed. It's possible that his own considerable empathy and generosity were also conceived in that darkness. It's always a crapshoot how horrendous things like this will ultimately play out in kids' lives. But you'd think a father would think twice before rolling those dice.

This is my column from The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. You can read more of my columns here, and email me there if you'd like...Marty Kaplan is director of the Norman Lear Center and Professor at the USC Annenberg School.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #8)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 10:41 AM

29. I am going to weigh in here....

I know this will sound cold but why are his kids any more special than any of the kids in my school who have had their parents handcuffed and hauled off in the middle of the night. Or worse yet, had them gunned down in front of them.

At least the Steinberg kids had one parent, some of my kids end up in CPS in the middle of the night and disappear from our school the next day. What makes his kids so special as to shelter them.

At least they got a trip to Disneyland. All my kids get are their clothes and maybe a toy dumped into a plastic garbage bag suitcase.

His kids are no more special than mine. Life happens, sorry your dad was such a crook and robbed people of their hard earned money. I hope you make better choices with your life.

The last special person I know of died on the cross and he didn't earn or deserve that either. I consider my kids just as special as Steinberg's.

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Response to AnneD (Reply #29)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 05:41 PM

35. You know what F. Scott Fitzgerald said:


Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:

Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.

Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.

This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:

Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.

Colum: I think you’ll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money.

The full quotation is found in Fitzgerald's words in his short story "The Rich Boy" (1926), paragraph 3:

"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft, where we are hard, cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand."

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 08:52 AM

12. Video Hidden Treasure: Inside an Underground Swiss Vault

4/10/13 Hidden Treasure: Inside an Underground Swiss Vault

Bloomberg goes deep underground, below the Zurich headquarters of Credit Suisse, and inside one of the bank's secure vaults dedicated to private clients.


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 09:02 AM

13. Brussels warns on Spanish and Slovenian 'imbalances'

The European Commission has warned that Spain and Slovenia must quickly tackle the imbalances in their economies.

Spain has already had its banking system bailed out and Slovenia is widely expected to become the next to ask for for a debt rescue.
It called on Spain to deliver a "decisive" reform programme by the end of the month.

The imbalances in debt, unemployment and growth were doing long-term damage, with more than half of under-25s unable to find a job, the Commission said.


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 09:07 AM

14. KYLE BASS: On Friday, The Market Gave Us The First Glimpse Of The Japan Blowup


Kyle Bass, the hedge fund manager who has become the most prominent voice in the market betting on a collapse of Japan's sovereign bond market, was on Bloomberg TV this morning discussing the trade.
It's known as the "widowmaker" because Japan's outsized stock of government debt – the largest in the world as a percentage of GDP – leaves only one conclusion for many traders.
The market has to blow up eventually, right? Except it never does.
Bass has been vocal about his call since 2010. Now, against the backdrop of the monetary policy revolution at the Bank of Japan, which just announced a massive bond buying program, the "widowmaker" trade is back in the spotlight.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/kyle-bass-sees-signs-of-japan-blowup-2013-4#ixzz2Q47ZOPKs

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 09:12 AM

15. Explosive Report Shows That Cypriots Are Five Times Richer Than Germans


Now the ECB has finally published the all-country report—and it’s far worse than feared. Italian median household wealth was indeed over three times larger than Germany’s. But that wasn’t the problem. The problem was Cyprus.
Cypriot households (CY), as measured by both their median and average wealth, were the second richest in the Eurozone.
Median household wealth—half the households had more, half less—of €266,900 was over five times Germany’s puny median of €51,400. Average household wealth reached a phenomenal €670,900 (that’s $872,000!), 3.4 times Germany’s €195,200, and just shy of Luxembourg’s €710,100.
Rarefied levels of wealth achievable only by small countries with huge and murky banking centers, or lots of oil. Few countries in the world are in that elite club.

Read more: http://www.testosteronepit.com/home/2013/4/9/total-fiasco-germans-are-the-poorest-cypriots-the-second-ric.html#ixzz2Q48WOh2q

***are these reports just some effort to remove more wealth from the southern countries? i don't understand this.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #15)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 09:49 AM

18. Germany's been exploiting their traumatized workers FOR YEARS--DECADES EVEN!


And now the plan is to suck the rest of the Eurozone into German slave camps. It worked so well when the West engulfed East Germany....that was the prototype.

And yes, the plan is to suck the wealth out of the southern nations.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #18)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 09:51 AM

19. that's what i thought. i couldn't figure out why this would be 'news'. nt

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 09:43 AM

17. The Corporate Betrayal of US -- Ripping off the Public, Running off with the Profits to Avoid Taxes



The huge multinationals have made it clear; they don't feel obliged to give anything back to the people who made it all possible...Multinational corporations have built their businesses on the backs of American taxpayers. They've depended on government research, national defense, the legal and educational systems, and our infrastructure. Yet they've turned around and mocked us with declining tax payments. They've cut workers. They've refused to invest their massive profits in job-producing research and development. And they've insulted existing employees with low wages and dwindling retirement support. As a final disdainful act, many of them have tried to convince us that they LOSE money in the U.S. while only making profits overseas. Here are the facts.

Business Built on Our Backs

(a) Research

The most essential aspect of business growth is the long-term basic research that is largely conducted with government money. Starting in the 1950s, taxpayer-funded research at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (the Internet), the National Institute of Health (pharmaceuticals), and the National Science Foundation (the Digital Library Initiative) has laid a half-century foundation for corporate product development. Even today 60% of university research is government-supported. The tech industry is a special case, with many computer and communications companies coming of age in the 1990s, when industry funding for computer research declined dramatically and government research funding continued to climb. As of 2009 universities were still receiving ten times more science & engineering funding from government than from industry.

(b) Infrastructure

Thanks to the taxpayer-funded National Highway System, corporations have acquired access to markets across the country for over 60 years. Along with road construction came the water, electric, and telephone facilities needed to sustain their businesses. Today, the publicly supported communications infrastructure allows the richest 10% of Americans to readily manipulate their 80% share of the stock market. CEOs rely onroads and seaports and airports to ship their products, the FAA and TSA and Coast Guard and Department of Transportation to safeguard them, a nationwide energy grid to power their factories, and communications towers and satellites to conduct online business. Private jets use 16 percent of air traffic control resources while paying only 3% of the bill.

(c) Law

A litany of advantages accrues to the business world through the legal system. The wealthiest Americans are the main beneficiaries of tax laws, property rights, zoning rules, patent and copyright provisions, trade pacts, antitrust legislation, and contract regulations. Their companies benefit, despite their publicly voiced objections to regulatory agencies, from SBA and SEC guidelines that generally favor business, and from FDA and USDA quality control measures that minimize consumer complaints and product recalls. The growing numbers of financial industry executives have profited from 30 years of deregulation, most notably the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Lobbying by the financial industry has stifled reasonable proposals like a sales tax on financial transactions. More big advantages are enjoyed by multinational corporations through trade agreements like NAFTA, with international disputes resolved by the business-friendly World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization. Federal judicial law protects our biggest companies from foreign infringement. The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership would put governments around the world at the mercy of corporate decision-makers.

(d) Education

Public colleges have helped to train the chemists, physicists, chip designers, programmers, engineers, production line workers, market analysts, and testers who create modern technological devices. At the primary and secondary levels, the "equal opportunity" principle mandated by the Supreme Court in Brown vs. the Board of Education has contributed to business growth, building the math and language skills that until recently led the world.

(e) Defense

The U.S. government will be spending $55 billion on Homeland Security this year, in addition to $673 billion for the military. Most of their resources, along with local police and emergency services and the National Guard, are focused on crimes against wealth.

Belittling Us Instead Of Paying Us Back

Instead of paying for their decades of government-supported growth, corporations have nearly stopped paying taxes, leaving payroll deductions and individual income taxes as the main sources of federal revenue. From 2003 to 2011 total corporate profits more than doubled from $900 billion to almost $2 trillion, but the corporate income tax rate dropped by more than half, from 22.5% to 10%. On top of this, the most profitable corporations get the biggest subsidies. The Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in welfare assistance to financial institutions and corporations. According to U.S. PIRG and Citizens for Tax Justice, 280 top-earning Fortune 500 companies, which together paid only half of the maximum 35 percent corporate tax rate, received $223 billion in tax subsidies.

What have they been doing with their windfall profits? Anywhere from $2.2 trillion to$3.4 trillion in cash is being held by non-financial corporations, who have chosen to fatten stockholders rather than invest in new production facilities and the employees needed to make them functional. Worse yet, as reported by The Nation, Market Watch, and Business Insider, they've been steadily cutting jobs in order to 'streamline' their operations. For the employees who remain, average real wages were $17.42 in 2007, down from $19.34 in 1972 (based on 2007 dollars). Wages as a percentage of the economy are at an all-time low.

An Added Insult -- Profits Declared Overseas, But Not in the U.S.

Multinational corporations use the vacuous argument of an excessive U.S. tax rate to defend their tax avoidance, although in reality the U.S. has the third-lowest rate of tax revenue per GDP among all OECD countries. The biggest tax avoiders are not content to just shirk their tax responsibilities. To sustain the image of profitmaking for their investors, many of them claim hefty worldwide incomes while reporting little or no income in the United States. Pfizer, for example, just declared their fifth straight annual loss in the U.S., despite a five-year income total of over $50 billion. A review of SEC data reveals more chicanery. In the last two years Citigroup reported $27.8 billion in foreign income, but a $5 billion loss in the United States. Exxon credits the U.S. for 1/3 of its revenue and 40% of its assets, but only 15% of its income. Apple has 2/3 of its employees in the U.S. but claims only 1/3 of its profits as U.S. income.

Summing Up the Absurdity: You Made Us the Best, But We Don't Have To Pay

Forbes responded to suggestions of American decline with this stirring defense: "We lead the world in Internet innovation, music, movies, biotech and many other technological fields that require out-of-the-box thinking. From Apple to DreamWorks Studios, from Amazon to Zynga, we are the world's innovators." They might have added, "And we don't have to give anything back to the people who made it all possible."

Paul Buchheit teaches economic inequality at DePaul University. He is the founder and developer of the Web sites UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org and RappingHistory.org, and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 10:08 AM

20. germany's choice by george soros


The euro crisis has already transformed the European Union from a voluntary association of equal states into a creditor-debtor relationship from which there is no easy escape. The creditors stand to lose large sums should a member state exit the monetary union, yet debtors are subjected to policies that deepen their depression, aggravate their debt burden, and perpetuate their subordinate position. As a result, the crisis is now threatening to destroy the EU itself. That would be a tragedy of historic proportions, which only German leadership can prevent.

The causes of the crisis cannot be properly understood without recognizing the euro’s fatal flaw: By creating an independent central bank, member countries have become indebted in a currency that they do not control. At first, both the authorities and market participants treated all government bonds as if they were riskless, creating a perverse incentive for banks to load up on the weaker bonds. When the Greek crisis raised the specter of default, financial markets reacted with a vengeance, relegating all heavily indebted eurozone members to the status of a Third World country over-extended in a foreign currency. Subsequently, the heavily indebted member countries were treated as if they were solely responsible for their misfortunes, and the structural defect of the euro remained uncorrected.

Once this is understood, the solution practically suggests itself. It can be summed up in one word: Eurobonds.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #20)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 04:12 PM

32. I'm not sure it would be such a big tragedy for anyone


and it would be an object lesson to Germany and the Banksters.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 10:18 AM

21. Next Domino?: Slovenia Totters Toward Euro-Crisis Brink


The row of buildings, containing 833 apartments, stands mostly empty, and construction on some of the buildings has not quite been completed. Nearby is a deep hole, ready to be filed with a brand-new hotel that will now almost surely never be built.

It is a scene that can be found in a number of euro-zone countries, ravaged by a sovereign debt crisis and a burst real estate bubble. But this particular complex, known as Siska, is on the outskirts of Ljubljana, the capital of tiny Slovenia. And it provides a dramatic backdrop to growing fears that the country could soon become the next euro-zone member-state to require a bailout from Brussels.
Concerns that Ljubljana might soon request emergency aid were intensified on Tuesday by a report issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Noting the country's economic struggles, rising sovereign debt and deeply troubled banking industry, the report noted that the country is at risk of a "prolonged downturn and constrained access to financial markets."

In other words, Slovenia might soon be unable to borrow the money from the markets it needs to remain solvent.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 10:21 AM

22. Harvard Economist: 'The Crisis Isn't Over in the US or Europe'


SPIEGEL: Ms. Reinhart, central banks around the world are flooding the markets with cheap money in order to spur economies and support governments. Are these institutions losing their independence?

Reinhart: No central bank will admit it is keeping rates low to help governments out of their debt crises. But in fact they are bending over backwards to help governments to finance their deficits. This is nothing new in history. After World War II, there was a long phase in which central banks were subservient to governments. It has only been since the 1970s that they have become politically more independent. The pendulum seems to be swinging back as a result of the financial crisis.

SPIEGEL: Is that true of the European Central Bank as well?

Reinhart: Less than for other central banks, but yes. And the crisis isn't over yet -- not in the United States and not in Europe.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #22)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 04:22 PM

34. So gratifying to have independent confirmation


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 10:22 AM

23. Brain Drain: 120,000 Professionals Leave Greece Amid Crisis


More than 120,000 professionals have left Greece since the start of the country's financial crisis in 2010, according to a recent study by the University of Thessaloniki.

Doctors, engineers, IT professionals and scientists have found it increasingly difficult to find work amid deep cuts to funding of health care and other publicly supported sectors.
"The number of young scientists who emmigrate has reached 10 percent of the country's potential, and that's very high," the study's director Lois Lambrianides told the Athens newspaper Ethnos on Tuesday.

Lambrianides, professor of economic geography at the University of Thessaloniki, said that the emmigrating professionals tend to leave for other European countries, settle in big cities and end up working in the private sector. She said half of them have multiple degrees from the world's top 100 universities.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 10:26 AM

25. Cyprus Can Save Itself by Fleeing the Euro


Cypriots sitting in the cafes here on Nicosia’s Ledra Street are asking one another if there isn’t an alternative to their island’s bailout.

It has been just weeks since the series of rollercoaster negotiations that produced a deal to support Cyprus, in the process devastating its banks and economic prospects. After the initial shock, the reality of the agreement’s implications is sinking in.

The answer to their question is that there may be another way: Leaving the euro would be a better option for Cyprus if -- and only if -- it can secure cooperation from its troika of creditors: the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

To figure out whether they should stay or go, the Republic of Cyprus’s 800,000 people and their leaders need to first conduct a simple cost-benefit analysis of whether euro-area membership is worth it.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 10:30 AM

26. Spending cuts and tax increases should continue, watchdog says{ireland}


The government should not reduce the size of the packages of spending cuts and tax increases over the next two budgets, according Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, the independent watchdog established in 2011 in order to ensure better management of the public finances.

Some government figures have suggested that the savings achieved from the deal in February on the promissory notes could allow a stretching out of the budget adjustment over a longer period.

However, the chair of the watchdog, Professor John McHale of NUI Galway, said “the Council’s assessment is that the planned adjustments of €3.1 billion in 2014 and €2 billion in 2015 should not be reduced”.

Echoing recent reports by the European Commission and the IMF, Professor McHale also stressed that significant uncertainties remain for the Irish economy, particularly around the prospects for growth and the capacity to meet challenging expenditure reduction targets in Health.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 10:33 AM

27. Ministers welcome troika recommendation to extend Ireland’s bailout repayments


The Troika’s recommendation to give Ireland seven more years to repay its bailout loan has been welcomed by Government ministers.

A leaked document from international lenders to EU policy makers has recommended Ireland and Portugal should get an extension on their loans from the European Union to facilitate their return to full market financing.

Such a move, if accepted, would mark a significant concession to Ireland, helping to seal its return to normal borrowing on markets, as well as offering a significant boost to Portugal as it struggles to push through spending cuts.

Speaking in Dublin today, Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton said the decision would give “stability and confidence” to the country, which would be of “real practival benefit to workers, businesses and the community at large”.

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 10:37 AM

28. Bank Rally in U.S. Seen Fading as Revenue Trails 35% Profit Jump


The six biggest U.S. banks are projected to post a 35 percent increase in first-quarter profit. That may fail to prolong an 18-month rally in their shares as the firms struggle to boost revenue.

The banks are set to report $19.9 billion in combined net income, analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg show, with New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM). and Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) first to announce results on April 12. Revenue will climb just 2.2 percent, the data show. Since the end of 2011, the six banks’ shares have closed the gap with analysts’ price targets, signaling a possible end to the stock surge.

The shares rose as Europe contained its sovereign-debt crisis and Federal Reserve policies spurred a rebound in fixed- income trading. Lenders also added to profit by tapping funds that had been designated to cover loan losses. Now, as that income source runs dry, investors are looking for banks to boost profit with revenue growth, said Matt McCormick, a money manager at Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel Inc. in Cincinnati.

“Eventually these guys have to get earnings from non- accounting functions,” said McCormick, who helps oversee about $9 billion. “They’re going to have to focus on organic revenue, organic earnings. And when they’re not there, the momentum will fade.”

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Original post)

Wed Apr 10, 2013, 11:20 AM

30. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Brad Sherman introduced "Too Big to Fail" legislation

Lawmakers push bill to break up too-big-to-fail banks

Sanders and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) are pushing their "Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act" to eliminate the potential for future bailouts.

The bill would give the Treasury Department 90 days to identify any companies -- including banks, hedge funds and other firms -- whose "failure would have a catastrophic effect on the stability of the financial system or the United States economy without substantial government assistance."

Treasury then would be required to break up those companies.



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