Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login

Weekend Economists Cry for Argentina November 18-20, 2011

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
Home » Discuss » Editorials & Other Articles Donate to DU
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 06:37 PM
Original message
Weekend Economists Cry for Argentina November 18-20, 2011
Edited on Fri Nov-18-11 06:39 PM by Demeter
As we face the end of all things worth having, let us consider Argentina, or the Argentine Republic, as it is officially known.

The country itself is named for its is the second largest South American nation, after Brazil, and the 8th largest country in the world.

"A recognised middle power, Argentina is Latin America's third-largest economy, with a very high rating on the Human development index. Within Latin America, Argentina has the fifth highest nominal GDP per capita and the highest in purchasing power terms. Analysts have argued that the country has a "foundation for future growth due to its market size, levels of foreign direct investment, and percentage of high-tech exports as share of total manufactured goods", and it is classed by investors as an emerging economy. Argentina is a founding member of the United Nations, Mercosur, the Union of South American Nations, the Organization of Ibero-American States, the World Bank Group and the World Trade Organization, and is one of the G-15 and G-20 major economies."


"Modern history

Argentina increased in prosperity and prominence between 1880 and 1929 and emerged as one of the ten richest countries in the world, benefiting from an agricultural export-led economy as well as British and French investment. Driven by immigration and decreasing mortality the Argentine population grew fivefold and the economy 15-fold. Conservative lites dominated Argentine politics through nominally democratic means until 1912, when President Roque Senz Pea enacted universal male suffrage and the secret ballot. This allowed their traditional rivals, the centrist Radical Civic Union, to win the country's first free elections in 1916. President Hiplito Yrigoyen enacted social and economic reforms and extended assistance to family farmers and small business. Yrigoyen was overthrown by a coup in 1930, however, which led to another decade of Conservative rule. The Concordance regime strengthened ties with the British Empire and their electoral policy was one of "patriotic fraud". The country was neutral during World War I and most of World War II, becoming an important source of foodstuffs for the Allied Nations.

In 1946, General Juan Pern was elected president, creating a populist movement referred to as "Peronism". His wife Eva was popular and played a central political role until her death in 1952, mostly through the Eva Pern Foundation and the Female Peronist Party, as women's suffrage was granted in 1947. During Pern's tenure, wages and working conditions improved appreciably, unionization was fostered, strategic industries and services were nationalized, as well as import substitution industrialization and urban development being prioritized in the agrarian sector.

Formerly stable prices and exchange rates were disrupted however: the peso lost around 70% of its value from 1948 to 1950, and inflation reached 50% in 1951. Foreign policy became more isolationist, straining US-Argentine relations. Pern intensified censorship as well as repression: 110 publications were shuttered, and numerous opposition figures were imprisoned and tortured. Advancing a personality cult, Pern rid himself of many important and capable advisers while promoting patronage. A bombing of Plaza de Mayo was followed some months later by a violent coup which deposed him in 1955. He fled into exile, eventually residing in Spain.

Following an attempt to purge the Peronist influence and the banning of Peronists from political life, elections in 1958 brought Arturo Frondizi to office. Frondizi enjoyed some support from Pern's followers, and his policies encouraged investment to make the country self-sufficient in energy and industry, helping reverse a chronic trade deficit for Argentina. The military frequently interfered on behalf of conservative, agrarian interests however, and the results were mixed. Frondizi was forced to resign in 1962. Arturo Illia was elected in 1963 and enacted expansionist policies but, despite prosperity, his attempts to include Peronists in the political process resulted in the armed forces retaking power in a quiet 1966 coup.

Though repressive, this new regime continued to encourage domestic development and invested record amounts into public works. The economy grew strongly and income poverty declined to 7% by 1975. Partly because of their repressiveness, however, political violence began to escalate and Pern, still in exile, skilfully co-opted student and labor protests which eventually resulted in the military regime's call for free elections in 1973, and Pern's return from Spain.

Taking office that year, Pern died in July 1974 leaving his third wife Isabel, the Vice President, to succeed him in office. Mrs. Pern had been chosen as a compromise among feuding Peronist factions who could agree on no other running mate; secretly though, she was beholden to Pern's most fascist advisers. The resulting conflict, between left and right-wing extremists, led to mayhem, financial chaos and a coup d'tat in March 1976 which removed her from office.

The self-styled National Reorganization Process intensified measures against armed groups on the far left, such as People's Revolutionary Army and the Montoneros who had kidnapped and murdered people almost weekly since 1970. Repression was quickly extended to the opposition in general and, during the "Dirty War", thousands of dissidents "disappeared". These abuses were aided and abetted by the CIA in Operation Condor, with many of the military leaders that took part in abuses trained in the School of the Americas.

The new dictatorship brought some stability at first, and built numerous important public works, but frequent wage freezes and deregulation of finance led to a sharp fall in living standards and record foreign debt. Deindustrialization, the peso's collapse, and crushing real interest rates, as well as unprecedented corruption, public revulsion over the Dirty War, and finally the 1982 defeat by the British in the Falklands War, discredited the military regime and led to free elections in 1983.

Contemporary history

Ral Alfonsn's government took steps to account for the disappeared, established civilian control of the armed forces, and consolidated democratic institutions. The members of the three military juntas were prosecuted and sentenced to life terms. The previous regime's foreign debt, however, left the Argentine economy saddled by the conditions imposed on it by both its private creditors and the International Monetary Fund, and priority was given to servicing the foreign debt at the expense of public works and domestic credit. Alfonsn's failure to resolve worsening economic problems caused him to lose public confidence. Following a 1989 currency crisis that resulted in a sudden and ruinous 15-fold jump in prices, he left office five months early.

Newly elected President Carlos Menem began pursuing privatizations and, after a second bout of hyperinflation in 1990, reached out to economist Domingo Cavallo, who imposed a peso-US$ fixed exchange rate in 1991 and adopted far-reaching market-based policies, dismantling protectionist barriers and business regulations, while accelerating privatizations. These reforms contributed to significant increases in investment and growth with stable prices through most of the 1990s; but the peso's fixed value could only be maintained by flooding the market with dollars, resulting in a renewed increase in the foreign debt. Towards 1998, moreover, a series of international financial crises and overvaluation of the pegged peso caused a gradual slide into economic crisis. The sense of stability and well being which had prevailed during the 1990s eroded quickly, and by the end of his term in 1999, these accumulating problems and reports of corruption had made Menem unpopular.

President Fernando de la Ra inherited diminished competitiveness in exports, as well as chronic fiscal deficits. The governing coalition developed rifts, and his returning Cavallo to the Economy Ministry was interpreted as a crisis move by speculators. The decision backfired and Cavallo was eventually forced to take measures to halt a wave of capital flight and to stem the imminent debt crisis (culminating in the freezing of bank accounts). A climate of popular discontent ensued, and on 20 December 2001, Argentina dove into its worst institutional and economic crisis since the 1890 Barings financial debacle. There were violent street protests, which clashed with police and resulted in several fatalities. The increasingly chaotic climate, amid riots accompanied by cries that "they should all go", finally resulted in the resignation of President de la Ra.

Three presidents followed in quick succession over two weeks, culminating in the appointment of interim President Eduardo Duhalde by the Legislative Assembly on 2 January 2002. Argentina defaulted on its international debt, and the peso's 11 year-old tie to the U.S. dollar was rescinded, causing a major depreciation of the peso and a spike in inflation. Duhalde, a Peronist with a centre-left economic position, had to cope with a financial and socio-economic crisis, with unemployment as high as 25% by mid 2002, and the lowest real wages in sixty years. The crisis accentuated the people's mistrust in politicians and institutions. Following a year racked by protest, the economy began to stabilize in late 2002, and restrictions on bank withdrawals were lifted in December.

Benefiting from a devalued exchange rate the government implemented new policies based on re-industrialization, import substitution and increased exports and began seeing consistent fiscal and trade surpluses. Governor Nstor Kirchner, a left-wing Peronist, was elected president in May 2003. During his administration, Argentina restructured its defaulted debt with a steep discount (about 66%) on most bonds, paid off debts with the International Monetary Fund, renegotiated contracts with utilities and nationalized some previously privatized enterprises. Kirchner and his economists, notably Roberto Lavagna, also pursued a vigorous incomes policy and public works investment.

Argentina has since been enjoying economic growth, though with high inflation. Nstor Kirchner forfeited the 2007 campaign, in favor of his wife Senator Cristina Fernndez de Kirchner, who became the first woman to be elected President of Argentina. She saw controversial plans for higher agricultural export taxes defeated by Vice President Julio Cobos' surprise tie-breaking vote against them in July 2008, following massive agrarian protests and lockouts from March to July. The global financial crisis has since prompted Mrs. Kirchner to step up her husband's policy of state intervention in troubled sectors of the economy. On 15 July 2010, Argentina became the first country in Latin America and the second country in the Southern Hemisphere to legalize same-sex marriage.


WE'LL BE FEATURING MUSICAL SELECTIONS FROM "EVITA" a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.

Refresh | +21 Recommendations Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 06:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. If Argentina Teaches Us Anything, It is the Power of Endurance
The Argentinians have squeezed twice as much history into the same amount of time as the US did. In fact, frequently Argentina had to deal with the predations of either the US government, or US based Corporations (whenever that distinction can be made.)
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 06:43 PM
Response to Original message
2. #1 Rec
Twice today!
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Congrats!
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 06:47 PM
Response to Original message
3. MF Global: Was It A Hit?

Imagine you are Ben Bernanke, or on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The time frame is July and August of 2011 and the price of gold is on a tear. Commodities inflation has been persistent and is breaking out everywhere. Your prediction that inflation is contained and is a temporary phenomena are beginning to look absurd. What do you do?

Simple. Hint that QE3, the primary drive of inflation, is coming and then fail to deliver at the September FOMC meeting. That takes care of the price of gold and the gold stocks. Ah, but those pesky commodities speculators keep making money and trading against what you want the markets to do. So what is to be done there? Hey Jon Corzine, how about you tank the largest broker for the small commodities punters in the world, and we let them twist in the wind? That will serve them right. Teach them to bet against the government approved scenario.

Think it did not happen? Well think again. All of the pieces fit. It sure is convenient that all those commodities speculators are now out of the box. Also, who will want to speculate on commodities in the future given customer funds are no longer protected. Furthermore, commodities speculators are not a very All American group. From the authorities point of view they can say: screw them, who will feel sympathy? Hell, James Bullard, Fed Governor, in an interview on CNBC yesterday said the MF Global collapse proves that the system works. Yes it does Jim, for you. Personally, I have $90,000 at MF Global and I would like to have my honestly earned money returned. Unfortunately, the odds of that happening any time soon seem slim. In part because when MF Global entered bankruptcy the judge appointed a Trustee whose law firm has done substantial work for JP Morgan, a deeply interested party. We will probably never find out what happened here. But for those of us whose eyes are open the results speak for themselves.

This whole mess stinks to high heaven. I am with Gerald Celente, if the largest commodity broker in America can go bankrupt and nothing is done, then where can you put your money and expect it to be safe? I, for one, do not accept that Jon Corzine is stupid enough to lever up MF Global 40:1 and use the proceeds and customer money to bet on European sovereign debt. This was a hit, pure and simple. That is why there is no resolution to the problem, and it is just another example of the deeply corrupt US political/financial axis. It may take money away from a bunch of commodities speculators, and it may cool down the perceived inflation, but it is just another hole in the dike which is The US Financial System. A dike whose life can probably now be measured in months, not years.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 06:50 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Something Big Is Coming... and It's Going to Be BAD

...This is the single most dangerous market environment of our lifetimes. We are entering a period of massive wealth destruction. We will see bank holidays and civil unrest. We will see sovereign defaults. We will see temporary shortages in various goods and services.

So if you have not already taken steps to prepare for systemic failure, you NEED to do so NOW. We're literally at most a few months, and very likely just a few weeks from Europe's banks imploding...
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Hotler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:25 PM
Response to Reply #5
15. That was creepy read.
its not like we didn't know this was comming soon.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. There's only one man who really knows what's coming down
He's the first one who gets to pull the plug...
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 05:57 AM
Response to Reply #17
40. I think there will be a conference call

A handful of banksters will get on a conference call. They'll decide "Today's the day". Then the HFT computers will be set to sell, sell, sell.

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:37 AM
Response to Reply #40
46. Who would they be selling to?
Pension funds? Not enough money.

No, it's time for the predators to start eating each other.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:43 AM
Response to Reply #46
48. not to sell

but to grab the last profits before the HFT computers go bonkers when those computers cause the next major flash crash

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Hotler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:44 AM
Response to Reply #46
59. I wonder why none of the money men have been whacked yet?
I find it hard to believe that the money problems at the worlds bank and such is not touching organized crime.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:52 AM
Response to Reply #59
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Ghost Dog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 08:20 PM
Response to Reply #15
28. Think I'll read on tomorrow. I just watched Zeitgeist The Movie
Edited on Fri Nov-18-11 08:21 PM by Ghost Dog
and will go to bed meditating on that.

The Revolution certainly does appear to be warming up right NOW.

(From the OP): " policies based on re-industrialization, import substitution and increased exports and began seeing consistent fiscal and trade surpluses... restructured its defaulted debt with a steep discount (about 66%) on most bonds... renegotiated contracts with utilities and nationalized some previously privatized enterprises... vigorous incomes policy and public works investment." - Ring any bells, Americans or even Brits? Nah. Couldn't happen in Chicago School Neoconlibland, your media says so.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 09:21 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. We've heard of these before
"re-industrialization, import substitution and increased exports and began seeing consistent fiscal and trade surpluses... restructured its defaulted debt with a steep discount (about 66%) on most bonds... renegotiated contracts with utilities and nationalized some previously privatized enterprises... vigorous incomes policy and public works investment."

China, Venezuela, American colonies, any nation that has succeeded, really. You can't be economically independent if you are a captive market. Consumerism is not healthy beyond the local scene.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #5
22. "Massive wealth destruction" (sic) (???)
My question remains -- Did that "wealth" ever really exist other than on paper?

Or, is it correct to assume that said "wealth" never really existed but the illusion of its existence was used to acquire tangible assets -- property, etc. -- that might have to be liquidated?

And, is it also correct to assume that said acquisitions of tangible property rightly belong to others, who were deprived of their own "wealth" through the machinations of The Banks?

TG, always wondering
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 08:01 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. People have lived and died for imaginary things for millenia
Think of the Hundred Years' War--Catholics against Huguenots; the millions of cancer victims who were assured that there was nothing wrong with the chemicals polluting their lives; the people in the vicinity of Fukushima today...

It is social and political coercion, nothing less. Telling lies for profit and face-saving (which means: hoard-saving).
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Tansy_Gold Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:20 AM
Response to Reply #3
55. I picked up a copy of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man"
-- or whatever the title is -- a few weeks ago but haven't had time to read it yet. I htink maybe I better try to find some time to do so.

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #55
57. I did try to read that book--I couldn't force myself
I just don't have what it takes to look evil in the eye unflinching.

I have a friend who insists that there's no such thing as evil...that it's a vestige of being raised Catholic. I keep insisting there is evil, and it has nothing to do with religious creed.

My friend is Californian in outlook, raised by Asperger parents, and rather demented about many practical things. Her "good heart" is no protection from reality.

And one person can't save very many people from themselves....if any. Running interference for the Kid and her sister takes up most of my spare time and money and energy, and trying to keep the condo board on the rails and up-and-up is just purely survival.

If you make it through, let me know the high points!
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 08:43 AM
Response to Reply #57
80. same here - I started to read it and couldn't go on ...
- and since I spent years reading about the Nazis it's not that I can't read about sheer evil. Not sure what it was. But a sort of infinite weariness came over me trying to read it, and I just couldn't.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 06:54 PM
Response to Original message
6. Nevada Attorney General Robo-Signing Indictments


Carson City, NV The Office of the Nevada Attorney General announced today that the Clark County grand jury has returned a 606 count indictment against two title officers, Gary Trafford and Gerri Sheppard, who directed and supervised a robo-signing scheme which resulted in the filing of tens of thousands of fraudulent documents with the Clark County Recorders Office between 2005 and 2008...According to the indictment, defendant Gary Trafford, a California resident, is charged with 102 counts of offering false instruments for recording (category C felony); false certification on certain instruments (category D felony); and notarization of the signature of a person not in the presence of a notary public (a gross misdemeanor). The indictment charges defendant Gerri Sheppard, also a California resident, with 100 counts of offering false instruments for recording (category C felony); false certification on certain instruments (category D felony); and notarization of the signature of a person not in the presence of a notary public (a gross misdemeanor).

The grand jury found probable cause that there was a robo-signing scheme which resulted in the filing of tens of thousands of fraudulent documents with the Clark County Recorders Office between 2005 and 2008,said Chief Deputy Attorney General John Kelleher. The indictment alleges that both defendants directed the fraudulent notarization and filing of documents which were used to initiate foreclosure on local homeowners. The State alleges that these documents, referred to as Notices of Default, or NODs, were prepared locally. The State alleges that the defendants directed employees under their supervision, to forge their names on foreclosure documents, then notarize the signatures they just forged, thereby fraudulently attesting that the defendants actually signed the documents, which was untrue and in violation of State law. The defendants then allegedly directed the employees under their supervision to file the fraudulent documents with the Clark County Recorders office, to be used to start foreclosures on homes throughout the County. The indictment alleges that these crimes were done in secret in order to avoid detection. The fraudulent NODs were allegedly forged locally to allow them to be filed at the Clark County Recorders office on the same day they were prepared.

District Court Judge Jennifer Togliatti has set bail in the amount of $500,000 for Sheppard and $500,000 for Trafford. The case has been assigned to Department 5 District Court Judge Carolyn Ellsworth who will preside over the case...
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 06:56 PM
Response to Original message
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Hotler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 06:56 PM
Response to Original message
8. k&r I always learn when I read here.
Well done, thank you. Evita was good looking.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 06:57 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Me, Too.
It is my intellectual exercise forum.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:09 PM
Response to Original message
10. 10 Stories of People Moving Their Money, Despite Banks' Efforts to Stop Them

...1. "He has a right to speak," said the cop to the banker

When Daily Kos community member marvinborg was distributing flyers outside of local Chase and Bank of America branches encouraging customers to move their money to credit unions, one of the managers called the police on him. When they arrived, the police promptly told the manager off:

"He has the right to speak and the right to hand out flyers. Unless he blocks you or causes a disturbance, he has the right to be here - please don't call the police again if he is not bothering you. If you don't like free speech you should move to another country."

...5. The bank said "You'll be back."

Even when banks don't call the police, they can give customers sound like jilted boyfriends:

At Wells Fargo, my sister walked up to the teller and politely asked to close her account. The teller said, No problem. She pulled up her account and saw the balance and told her that due to the amount she had to speak with the branch manager. The branch manager came out. He was probably 30 years old and was very arrogant. He asked my sister why she wanted to close her account and my sister told him she thought Wells Fargo was part of the problem with the economy. He went thru some talking points about why she shouldnt move her money, but my sister didnt back down. When he asked her where she was going she told him that she would be banking at the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union. She isnt a state employee, but anyone can join if you are related to a state employee. It turns out her husband is. Anyway, the bankster told her Youll be back. Credit unions cant provide the services you need. Well see about that. She withdrew over $200k from Wells Fargo....
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:15 PM
Response to Original message
11. Occupy Wall Street Is Not a Spectator Sport: 5 Ways the 99 Percent Can Contribute to the Movement

...Sure, some of us can go down to our local encampment and join the party. But if youre old like me, or if you have a job and a family, youre not likely to head out to your local town square and sleep on the concrete. So that raises the critical question: How can the rest of the 99 percent demonstrate our outrage? Here are five things we can do, without parking a tent somewhere:

1. Get Your Non-Profits into Gear

If you work for a non-profit of any kind (like a labor union, an environmental group, a church organization, etc.) then insist that your organization devote at least 10 percent of its resources to protesting against Wall Street. There are probably 500,000 full-time staff working for unions, community organizations and environmental groups all across the country. Imagine if each week, each of those staffers put in two hours protesting at an Occupy Wall Street site. Combine that with a little organizing to bring out the rank-and-file, and were talking about a quantum leap in the size of the anti-Wall Street presence. Of course, you might get stiff opposition from progressive non-profit leaders. After all, their organizations are set up to press important issues that might not seem to have any direct connection to the Wall Street mess. But it shouldnt take much to show that the Wall Street crash is a game-changer. It should be clear by now that we cant make progress on our individual issues unless we join together to reclaim our country from the Wall Street elites.

2. Organize Teach-ins about Wall Streets Casino Economy

If you are affiliated with any academic institution or high school, this is the perfect time to organize teach-ins that target financial elites. We need large forums where information can be shared about our dismal distribution of income, how Wall Street took down the economy, how money is influencing politics, and how jobs can be created. And be sure to invite the community. Americans are just waking up to how much theyve been ripped off. The educational task is just beginning and teach-ins can push it along in a hurry.

3. Terminate Your Bank Accounts in Public

If youre going to withdraw your accounts from the major banks, then do it with gusto. At the very least we should try to use our new social media to pick a common time and location to close out our accounts together. We could even have a card-burning event in plain view. (Unlike burning your draft card in the old days, its perfectly legal to burn your credit cardoutdoors, that is.)

4. Start a 99 Percent Club

Americans lead the world in setting up new civic organizations. How about launching 99 Percent clubs in your neighborhood and town? For starters, your club could brainstorm public actions to demonstrate anger at Wall Street. A silent vigil every Friday afternoon at one of the local banks would be a good start. (Honk if you feel ripped off by Wall Street!")

Each group could develop imaginative actions that could grow in size, and that could gain the attention of the local media. Our social media could easily spread the best actions to other groups. And once you do get the ball rolling, build up your events by talking with your neighbors. I dont think many doors will slam in your face. Instead, youll probably find a lot of angry people looking for ways to contribute.

5. Convince Yourself That You Can Make a Difference

Perhaps the most important act of defiance starts in our heads. We need to believe that real change is possible and that each of us can contribute. Weve got to get over the idea that someone else a political knight in shining armor -- is going to do it for us. We have to face up to the fact that very few politicians have the guts to challenge Wall Street. So its on us. This doesnt mean that each of us has to be a superhero and lock ourselves to the gates of Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase. But each of us needs to do something concrete. At the very least we need to show up from time to time at our local Occupy Wall Street site.

Why would that matter? Because the currency of a populist movement is feet on the street. We need to publicly display our support in any way we can. As long as there is something called free will, each of us has the opportunity to go somewhere and publicly show that we are part of the irate 99 percent. We need to publicly display our anger at rule by a faction of the 1 percent.

Add to this list: Those of us trying to build up a new populist movement dont have the answers. Our most useful role is to provide information, make the frameworks clear and push the discussion. The really good ideas seem like they magically appear. In fact, they are produced by the clash and exchange of ideas involving tens of thousands of people. We all need to dream them up, share them and bat them around until something clicks.

All we know for sure is that something is clicking right now. We have Americas attention.for now. And if we want this moment to last and develop, then each of us needs to add to this list. What can we do to show our support for the 99 percent? What can we do to protest against rule by financial elites? How do we build up this fledgling movement?
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 08:05 PM
Response to Reply #11
25. Is Mayor Bloomberg Finally Getting Nervous?

The corporate media is doing a good job of mischaracterizing the Occupy protesters, as can be seen even in the most balanced of Big Apple newspapers, the New York Times. They seize on and magnify every misdeed of individuals, while reporting whatever the police say as Gospel. Pretty much all the news outlets are reporting that protesters clashed with police yesterday, when the opposite would be closer to the truth. But the important stuff doesn't take place in elite-serving newspapers; it takes place in Midtown boardrooms...At a Midtown gathering of business leaders on Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg said that the protests were a dire sign of the publics economic fears.

The public is getting scared, he said. They dont know what to do, and theyre going to strike out. He added, They just know the system isnt working, and they dont want to wait around.

The last time Mayor Bloomberg made a dire warning, the Occupy protests began the next day. If Bloomberg is rattled, it's because his system of media control and police brutality isn't working. Of course, it is at work, but it's not having the desired impact. He should check with Silvio Berlusconi to see how his model turned out. The disconnect between what people are reading on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, and seeing on livestreams, and what they are reading in the newspapers and seeing on the teevee is opening a lot of eyes. The sham is getting exposed like never before.

Meanwhile, the aristocracy is holed up in Midtown wondering why all this is happening and why talking points about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren't fooling anyone. The banks got bailed out but Congress wants to bill to be payed by the neediest and most vulnerable. The Republicans absolutely insist upon this. If our elites want to save their necks, they ought to crack a history book, read about the French Revolution, and take some preemptive measures. And I don't mean that they should increase the repression.

By BooMan | Sourced from Booman Tribune
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:19 PM
Response to Original message
12. You are a genius at these themes, Demeter -
- and I'm sure in other areas as well - but the aptness and breadth of your selections rarely fails to amaze me. I was wracking my brains this AM trying to think of a theme to suggest that would reflect our straits without necessarily prompting a jump off the nearest bridge ... couldn't think of a thing. This is perfect. More later, I hope - it's been a busy week, I have g'dtr here, a lot of reading, and some work to catch up on. K&R
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:23 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. AnneD gets the credit for this Weekend
I get credit for having such knowledgeable, creative and generous fellow Weekenders....

...And jumping off a bridge could be a good theme...especially as things get worse, as everyone seems to feel they will....

Hope everyone finds something to enjoy, learn, laugh or curse at. Otherwise, life is very dull...
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 05:59 AM
Response to Reply #14
41. I have grandkids this weekend

with a 4.5 year old and a 3.5 year old, nothing is ever dull.

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 07:36 AM
Response to Reply #14
43. Kudos to AnneD! and others who've contributed the theme other times too...
I'm grateful to all ...
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:20 PM
Response to Original message

Polk County Bank, Johnston, Iowa, was closed today by the Iowa Division of Banking, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Grinnell State Bank, Grinnell, Iowa, to assume all of the deposits of Polk County Bank.

The three branches of Polk County Bank will reopen on Saturday as branches of Grinnell State Bank...As of September 30, 2011, Polk County Bank had approximately $91.6 million in total assets and $82.0 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Grinnell State Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets...

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $12.0 million. Compared to other alternatives, Grinnell State Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Polk County Bank is the 89th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the first in Iowa. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Vantus Bank, Sioux City, on September 4, 2009.

Central Progressive Bank, Lacombe, Louisiana, was closed today by the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with First NBC Bank, New Orleans, Louisiana, to assume all of the deposits of Central Progressive Bank.

The 17 branches of Central Progressive Bank will reopen during their normal business hours beginning Saturday as branches of First NBC Bank...As of September 30, 2011, Central Progressive Bank had approximately $383.1 million in total assets and $347.7 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, First NBC Bank agreed to purchase approximately $354.4 million of the failed bank's assets. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets for later disposition....

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $58.1 million. Compared to other alternatives, First NBC Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Central Progressive Bank is the 90th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the first in Louisiana. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Statewide Bank, Covington, on March 12, 2010.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:29 PM
Response to Original message
16. Synopsis for the Broadway Musical "Evita"

Act I

The opening reveals a cinema in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 26 July 1952, where an audience is watching a film ("A Cinema in Buenos Aires, 26 July 1952"). The Spanish dialogue is heard during the film, an announcer interrupts with the message (begun in Spanish, but fading into English) that "Eva Pern entered immortality at 20:25 hours this evening...." The audience is heartbroken, and they sing "Requiem for Evita" (in Latin, which is modeled on a Catholic requiem). Che Guevara, the narrator, cynically assesses the hysterical grief that gripped Argentina when Evita died ("Oh What a Circus").

Che introduces the audience to 15-year-old Eva, in 1934. She has her first love affair with tango singer Agustn Magaldi after she meets him at one of his shows ("On This Night of a Thousand Stars"). Eva blackmails Magaldi into taking her with him to Buenos Aires and though he is initially resistant, he eventually surrenders ("Eva, Beware of the City"). Upon her arrival at the city, Eva sings about her hopes and ambitions of glory as an actress ("Buenos Aires"). She soon dumps Magaldi, and Che relates the story of how Eva sleeps her way up the ladder, becoming a model, radio star, and actress ("Goodnight and Thank You"). He then tells of both a right-wing coup in 1943 and Eva's success, implying that Argentine politics and Eva's career may soon coincide. Che also makes a point to introduce the figure of Colonel Juan Domingo Pern, an ambitious military colonel who was making his way up the Argentine political ladder. ("The Lady's Got Potential"). In a game of musical chairs that represents the rise of political figures Pern and other military figures compete for power and exhibit their political strategy ("The Art Of The Possible").

After a devastating earthquake hits the town of San Juan, Pern organizes a charity concert at the Luna Park to provide aid to the victims. Eva attends and briefly reunites with Agustn Magaldi, who coldly shuns her for her past actions. Pern addresses the crowd with words of encouragement and leaps off the stage, meeting Eva as soon as he exits ("Charity Concert"). Eva and Pern share a secret rendezvous following the charity concert, where Eva hints that she could help Pern rise to power ("I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You"). Eva dismisses Pern's Mistress, (the character is known only by that title), who ponders the rejection ("Another Suitcase in Another Hall").

After moving in with Pern, Eva is introduced to high society, but she is met with disdain from the upper classes and the Argentine Army ("Pern's Latest Flame"). In 1946, Pern launches his presidential bid after being promoted to general in the army, and while in bed with Eva, he discusses his chances at winning the election. Eva reassures him and soon they organize rallies where the people show their support and hope for a better future, while in the sidelines Pern and his allies plot to dispose of anyone who stands in their way ("A New Argentina").

Act II

Pern is elected President in a sweeping victory in 1946. He stands "On The Balcony of the Casa Rosada" addressing his descamisados (shirtless ones). Eva speaks from the balcony of the Presidential palace to her adoring supporters, where she reveals that despite her initial goal of achieving fame and glory, she has found her true calling to be the people of her country ("Don't Cry for Me, Argentina"). Che analyzes the price of fame as Eva dances at the Inaugural Ball with Pern, now Argentina's president-elect ("High Flying, Adored").

Eva insists on a glamorous image in order to impress the people of Argentina and promote Peronism. She prepares to tour in Europe as she is dressed for success by her fashion consultants ("Rainbow High"). Her famous 1946 tour meets with mixed results ("Rainbow Tour"); Spaniards adore her, but the Italians liken her husband to Benito Mussolini, France is unimpressed, and the English snub her by inviting her to a country estate, rather than Buckingham Palace. Eva affirms her disdain for the upper class, while Che asks her to start helping those in need as she promised ("The Actress Hasn't Learned the Lines (You'd Like to Hear)"). Eva begins the Eva Pern Foundation to direct her charity work. Che describes Eva's controversial charitable work, and possible money laundering ("And the Money Kept Rolling In (And Out)").

Eva appears at a church to take the sacrament in front of her adoring supporters ("Santa Evita"), but goes into a trancelike state, beginning to hallucinate. In her vision she and Che heatedly debate her actions; Che accuses Eva of using the Argentine people for her own ends, while Eva cynically replies that there is no glory in trying to solve the world's problems from the sidelines ("A Waltz for Eva and Che"). At the end of the argument, Eva finally admits to herself and Che that she is dying and can't go on for much longer. Afterwards, Eva finally understands that Pern loves her for herself, not just for what she can do for him and his career ("You Must Love Me").

Pern's generals finally get sick of Eva's meddling and demand that Pern force her to leave politics. However, Pern objects and claims that if it wasn't for her they would never have achieved as much as they have ("She Is A Diamond"). However, he also acknowledges she won't be able to keep working for long as she will soon succumb to her cancer. Meanwhile, Eva is determined to run for vice president, much to Pern's fear that they will be overtaken by the military if she runs and that Eva's health is too delicate for any stressful work, but Eva insists she can continue, despite her failing health ("Dice Are Rolling/Eva's Sonnet").

Realising she is close to death, Eva renounces her pursuit of the vice presidency and swears her eternal love to the people of Argentina ("Eva's Final Broadcast"). Eva's achievements flash before her eyes before she dies ("Montage"), and she asks for forgiveness, contemplating her choice of fame instead of long life and raising children ("Lament"). Eva dies, and embalmers preserve her body forever. Che notes that a monument was set to be built for Evita but "only the pedestal was completed, when Evita's body disappeared for 17 years...."

Madonna - Evita - 08 I'd Be Surprisingly Good for You (1996)
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:39 PM
Response to Original message
18. Privatizing Liberty: The Private Security Guards Policing American Citizens at OWS

As Mayor Bloomberg's forces swooped down on Occupy Wall Street, news reports described the "hundreds of police and private security guards" who had re-taken Zuccotti Park. Those private guards were used against public citizens who had been exercising their civil liberties in a public area.

That's not just wrong. It's un-American.

This incident holds an important lesson for anyone who loves our freedoms: When something public is made private, our liberties are privatized too. And privatized liberty isn't liberty at all.

Privatizing Liberty

Zuccotti Park. New Yorkers knew it as Liberty Plaza Park for nearly half a century. Like other sites in New York, the plaza was created through an agreement between the city and a private company, United States Steel, that wanted to erect a building that exceeded the city's height limits. So the city made them a deal: You can take up more than your share of the public skyline, but in return you have to give the city some open space at ground level. This wasn't a gift. It was a fair exchange between two parties, a private corporation and the people of New York. The people gave up a chunk of their skyline and the owner agreed to provide an open - and, by agreement, fully public - space in return. New York City makes these deals fairly often. The plazas created by these agreements are called "privately owned public spaces," or "POPS," and the city has lots of them. The Mayor may want to read that phrase again: It doesn't say "privately owned private spaces." Both the owner and the city are obligated to keep them for public use, in the public sphere, with all the laws and freedoms that apply to public space...The park's current owner, Brookfield Properties, rebuilt the park with private donations after it was damaged in the 9/11 attacks. With Mayor Bloomberg's permission, they also overstepped tradition and the bounds of propriety by renaming the park - not for the thousands of innocent people who died that day, but for their own chairman. The symbolism is perfect:They replaced a treasured word for freedom with the name of a rich guy who'd done nothing to create the park. With the Mayor's blessing, they literally privatized the word "liberty."

Like I said, perfect. Tragic, but perfect.

Private Dicks

Brookfield overstepped its bounds when its CEO sent the mayor a letter saying that the Occupation "violates the law, violates the rules of the Park, deprives the community of its rights of quiet enjoyment to the Park, and creates health and public safety issues." Those aren't decisions a private company, even an owner, should make about a public space. They are judgments an elected official makes on behalf of a free citizenry...This week Bloomberg and Brookfield have used the park's semi-private status as an excuse to invade a public space with a private security force. Whoever these guys were - besides rude and uncivil - they served as a kind of Blackwater militia, but targeting New Yorkers instead of Iraqis. (At least Brookfield says it fired the guard who called a citizen a "faggot.") When it comes to privatization, it seems the Mayor has boundary issues. He has repeatedly used the park's private ownership status to claim, that the public has fewer rights there than it does in other public spaces. That's false. But then, that's the problem with "public/private partnerships." The "public" partner always gets rolled by the private one. But then, that's how these people are. Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile. The lesson of Zuccotti Park is: Never give them an inch.

Thin Blue Line, Thick Green Wallets

News reports made noted the presence of two different groups, New York City police officers and private security guards, but in some ways that's become a distinction without a difference. The NYPD is frequently rented by the same Wall Street banks that broke the law, crashed the economy and got away with it. As Pam Martens reported in Counterpunch, Rudy Giuliani created an operation called the "Paid Detail" unit that turns New York's Finest into a "rent-a-cop" service for anyone with the money to pay for it. And who has more money in New York than the banks? As Martens reports, companies like Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, and the New York Stock Exchange have rented the Thin Blue Line with the cash from their Thick Green Wallets. Even after the Stock Exchange was found to have illegally taken over public streets and walkways and "created a public nuisance," nobody was fined or arrested...But then, it must be hard for a cop to arrest anybody that he sometimes has to address as "boss." Maybe that's one of the reasons why a retired Philadelphia police officer, Capt. Ray Lewis, was willing to be handcuffed and arrested by fellow officers during the protest. Capt. Lewis called their rationale for arresting him a 'farce' and promised to return. New York isn't the only city that rents out its police force. But the financial capital of the nation bears moral and civic responsibilities that Mayors Guiliani and Bloomberg have disrespected and violated...

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:42 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. New York Churches Shelter Occupy Protesters, Now Monitored By New York Police

With Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) ratcheting up police crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street this week, the New York Times reports that several churches in New York City are sheltering protesters who can no longer stay in Zucotti Park. About 46 protesters spent Wednesday night in the United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew. However, instead of respecting the sanctuary, police in plainclothes are entering churches to monitor their conduct.

According to church officials, two police officers (one later identified as belonging to the intelligence division) asked to use the bathroom but instead entered the sanctuary, one remaining near the door while the other advanced down the aisle, apparently counting the demonstrators in the pews. Then, one officer went downstairs to a homeless womens shelter and asked for information about who was sleeping there without identifying himself or showing his badge. The churchs Rev. James Karpen called the police actions invasive:

It is disconcerting that they would actually enter the sanctuary, said the Rev. James Karpen, known as Reverend K, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, on West 86th Street. Here we had offered hospitality and safety, which is our business as a church; it just felt invasive. <...>

They are welcome to come in if they just say who they are, Mr. Karpen said. We have never had that kind of issue with the police before. Usually, they are very respectful of church-state issues.

Church officials said two other police intelligence officers visited earlier in the day, claiming they were following up on an anonymous report of vandalism, which, according to the church, had not taken place. The officers warned associate Pastor Siobhan Sargent that they did not want anything to happen to the church and that that was a risk with the protesters sleeping there. Sargent replied, thats what the church is for.

While this degree of confrontation did not occur at the other churches in the area, the Judson Memorial Church said several plainclothes police officers had entered the hall where about 100 protesters were sheltering, but elected not to ask them who they were. This churchs Rev. Michael Ellick said, We thought if the police want to come in, then let them spy, then let them look.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:46 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. Meet the Guy Who Projected "We Are the 99%" Onto the Verizon Building Thursday Night

XJ: How did this come together?

Mark Read: It came up at an action coordination meeting. We were talking about what to do on the 17th, about the decentralized way the day would progress, attacking the exchange from different angles. We had a sense that the morning on Wall Street would be forceful and confrontational, and we wanted to not do the same kind of thing in the afternoon. Initial talks focused on having a thousand people taking the bridge in the afternoon, and continuing in a militant mode of activism. But we started thinking about creating a more unifying moment. A celebration of the birthday of Occupy Wall Street. Maybe taking the roadway and having lots of arrests might not be best thing. What if we took the pedestrian walkway, and gave out LED candles? We would give out 10,000 LED tea candles, a river of light streaming over the walkway.

And a guy named Hero, who has been central to a lot of facets of the occupation since the beginning, turns to me and says, "We need a bat signal. The 99%."

I said, I think I can do that. I know just enough about how the technology works that I think I can pull that off. And for the past two weeks, I've worked full time on figuring that out.

Here's what the projection looked like, for those who haven't seen the whole thing. It's elaborate!

Occupy Wall Street 99% Spotlight Signal #N17 #OWS #OccupyEverything
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Verizon Pays a Negative Federal Income Tax Rate, Then Pursues More Tax Breaks

Citizens for Tax Justice has joined with Good Jobs First to follow up the recent report that found 30 Fortune 500 companies had paid a negative federal income tax rate over three years, looking at one of those companies in depth. From 2008 to 2010, Verizon paid an effective federal income tax rate of -2.9 percent; that meant that instead of the $11.4 billion the corporation would have paid at the statutory rate of 35 percent, "it got $951 million in rebates, putting its federal tax subsidies at $12.3 billion."

It wasn't just federal income taxes that Verizon dodged:

At the state level, Verizon should have paid about $2.3 billion in corporate income taxes during the period but it handed over only $866 million. Its aggregate state rate was only 2.6 percent, far below the weighted state average rate of 6.8 percent. This gave it state tax subsidies of about $1.4 billion.

But that's not all. Verizon has received at least $180.8 million in state and local subsidies in recent years, extracted in exchange for locating facilities and supposedly creating jobsmostly low-wage onesin the communities.

None of that, from the -2.9 percent federal income tax rate, the 2.6 percent state income tax rate, the $180.8 million in state and local subsidies, and several other large tax breaks Verizon has gotten, has been going reinvested in workers or the communities they live in:

Verizon has been eliminating jobs and investing less. During the past three years, the total number of employees at Verizon has fallen by more than 40,000 and the companys capital expenditures have declined by $1 billion. Nor did these subsidies lead to higher compensation for Verizons employeesthe company is demanding more than $1 billion in wage and benefit concessions from its 45,000 union-represented workers.

Verizon state tax subsidies

(Citizens for Tax Justice and Good Jobs First)
By Laura Clawson | Sourced from Daily Kos
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 11:33 AM
Response to Reply #20
83. Maddow Talks to the OWS Bat-Signal Creator
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 07:57 PM
Response to Original message

All right, members of the 112th United States Congress, if you keep saying youre about to have a total political meltdown and then nothing happens, were going to stop believing you. Once again, the fearsome government shutdown was avoided Thursday when squabbling factions on Capitol Hill were able to come to a compromise over a contested spending bill. This sequence of events involved a stunning GOP victory over Democrats and their big-government-o-philia in the crucial area of school lunch regulation. KA


Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 08:17 PM
Response to Original message
26. Why Bank Transfer Day Is Only the Beginning of Something Huge

On Oct. 9, Kristen Christian, a 27-year-old art gallery owner in Los Angeles, created a Facebook page urging her friends to move their money out of the big banks on Nov. 5. The suggestion hit a nerve. By Nov. 4, 77,015 friends had declared their intention to attend Bank Transfer Day...That doesnt necessarily mean that 77,015 people will be pulling all their money out of the likes of Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America all at once. Saturday is hardly an ideal day to get banking business done, and the process of switching over ones account to a new bank or credit union is not something that can be accomplished yet with a flip of a switch. (Detailed advice on how to change your banking account can be found here.) And of course, clicking your intent to do something on Facebook is a far cry from actually, well, doing it.

Its also not clear that the big banks will take a big hit from Bank Transfer Day. The usually sensible economics commentator Felix Salmon goes so far as to assert that the big banks are blithely unconcerned about people withdrawing their funds on Saturday Im not kidding myself that doing so is going to harm the big banks at all. In purely numerical terms, Salmon might be right, but theres a larger sense in which he is almost surely wrong. The simple fact that one ordinary citizen using social media tools can start a grass fire of protest that captures massive media attention and connects hundreds of thousands of people to useful information is an encouraging sign of where our society is headed. Every single person who actually goes ahead with a switch of banks is casting a potent vote in the long-range democratization of finance. Even if the banks shrug it off, people who go ahead and change their bank will probably feel better about themselves. Just because its a psychotherapeutic clich doesnt mean its wrong: Taking action is empowering.

And something is clearly happening here. According to a press release from the Credit Union National Association, at least 650,000 consumers across the nation have joined credit unions in the past four weeks....CUNA estimates that credit unions have added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts. More than four in every five credit unions experiencing growth since Sept. 29 attributed the growth to consumer reaction to new fees imposed by banks, or a combination of consumer reactions to the new bank fees plus the social media-inspired Bank Transfer Day.....$4.5 billion here, $4.5 billion there, and pretty soon you are talking about real money, even for JPMorgan-Chase. In all of 2010, credit unions added only 600,000 new customers. But even more telling has been the decision by the big banks to abandon their plans to institute fees for debit-card use. Whatever the reasons for their capitulation, its hard to describe that about-face as representing a blithe disregard for how their customers are feeling.

Tracing out the cause-and-effect connections here are tricky. Bank overreach, Occupy Wall Street and Bank Transfer Day are all feeding into and reinforcing each other. If Bank of America hadnt announced plans to charge a $5-a-month fee for debit card use and Occupy Wall Street hadnt pointed an accusing finger at the financial sector with such a powerful media-amplified voice, Kristen Christians Bank Transfer Day might never have advanced beyond her own family and friends. But now the genie is out of the bottle. Because it doesnt stop on Nov. 5. The movement to go local, go independent, and make sure that our money serves our own values rather than the bottom line of huge banks will only gain energy as word spreads, and small victories accumulate.

Oh, and in the time it took to write this post, another 200 people decided to attend Bank Transfer Day. Inch by inch
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 08:18 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Inch by Inch, Row by Row...

The Garden Song sung by John Denver
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:46 AM
Response to Reply #26
50. Put Your Bodies on the Gears of the Machine

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odiousmakes you so sick at heartthat you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

These famous words, uttered nearly half a century ago by the Free Speech Movement's Mario Savio at UC Berkeley--scene of one of this month's brutal police crackdowns--speak eloquently to Occupy Wall Street's ethos. Last night in a riveting segment on her show, Rachel Maddow contextualized the spate of crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street encampments around the country with crackdowns in the past--like the one at Berkeley in the 60s--which have only served to galvanize the movements they hoped to quash.

Occupy is not a one-time march, Maddow noted, adding that occupiers will be back after clear-outs. That's the point of their movement.

Every year there's a Mario Savio memorial lecture at Berkeley, and this year's lecturer was economist Robert Reich. He and Maddow discussed just how successful Occupy has been in changing the national conversation and how politicians could handle the movements with a less violent and authoritarian hand.

This is a truly enlightening segment--take fifteen minutes of your morning to watch. The speech Reich gave is embedded below, as well.

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:04 AM
Response to Reply #50
51. Mario Savio Memorial Lecture: Robert Reich on Class Warfare in America
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 08:23 PM
Response to Original message
29. If We Don't Solve the Jobs Crisis We May End Up With Our Streets in Flames and Society Dysfunctional

Unless our policy makers can make job creation the top priority, the mass riots and burning streets of Europe may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you...Employers added fewer jobs than was forecast in October, which has lots of folks scratching their heads over what to do about it. In response to the latest unemployment figures, our nations central bank, the Federal Reserve, has again begun talking about additional stimulus measures, such as the purchases of mortgage backed securities (MBS) or a bond-buying program known as QE3. But neither of these measures worked before, so why should we expect more success this time?

The Feds policies are akin to putting a Band-Aid on a massive bleeding wound. Right now, the US economy is crushed by massive private indebtedness and sluggish job growth. What we really need are policies designed to promote job growth, so that people can service their debts and become open to spending again. Admittedly, the Fed isnt the only problem. Our whole constellation of policy makers the Fed, Congress, the Treasury and the White House keep obsessing about the faux costs of the growing budget deficit, rather than the real costs of long term unemployment. And if they dont give up this flawed economic thinking, then the burning streets and mass riots happening in Europe may soon be coming to a neighborhood near you.

The Feds Misguided Focus

Lets start with the Fed. Ben Bernanke is a noted Great Depression scholar who ought to know a thing or two about unemployment crises. But when he looks at Japans long-term unemployment problem, for example, he unfortunately learns the wrong lessons. In 1999, Bernanke dubbed Japans struggling economy a case of self-induced paralysis that could only be solved through cutting government spending and deficit reduction. In reality, too much government spending hasnt been Japans problem, but rather stop-start spending that seesawed the economy between hopeful improvement and harmful austerity measures that took money out of the hands of consumers. The great mistake in Japan has been the failure to jump-start its weak economy by putting people back to work.

In the US, the Fed has cut interest rates aggressively, and while this has marginally helped to reduce borrowing costs, it has also robbed savers, such as pensioners, of income from the resultant lower interest rates....Along with the Treasury, the Fed has provided a plethora of alphabet soup programs TARP, TALF, HAMP, QE and, most recently, Operation Twist, a maneuver in which the central bank concentrates its purchases on long term bonds in order to bring these down and thereby (in theory) lower borrowing costs. Trillions of dollars were offered up in the form of hidden financial guarantees and subsidies to Wall Street. In effect, the banks got risk-free money with which to speculate (in things like energy and food, which also diminished Main Streets discretionary spending power). In the case of the two installments of quantitative easing (QE1 and QE2), the Fed bought trillions of assets from the banking system for the ostensible purpose of encouraging banks to make more low cost loans to consumers. Hows that working out for you so far?

...Meanwhile, in the real world, unemployment remains stuck at 9%, and underemployment of 16% - hardly boom-time conditions. And now, realizing it's done about all it can do, the Fed admits that monetary policy can't do it all which is exactly what Bernanke should have learned by looking at Japan.

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 09:18 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. The Occupation Won't Go Away No Matter How Many "Sweeps" Are Held: Here's Why

...The evictions we're seeing this week remind me of the periodic sweeps some cities indulge in to clear out their homeless populations. They don't, of course; they just waste a lot of time and energy pushing the homeless from one neighborhood to another. Only jobs and affordable housing and health care programs get people off the streets.

Similarly, whether the public or political leaders like a particular tactic or not, the Occupy Movement has identified a problem that a large chunk of the public recognizes as real: that our political and economic systems are rigged to benefit the one percent and to screw everyone else. The Occupy movement is not about encampments; it's about withdrawing the consent of the governed from that rigged system, and creating the political space to force a fairer system. It may or may not be effective in the long run, but the demand to address that issue, now that it has been loudly named, is not going away. No matter how many members of the one percent are in on the next conference call.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 09:22 PM
Response to Reply #30
32. Madonna - Evita - 02 Oh! What a Circus (1996)
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
hamerfan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 12:32 PM
Response to Reply #32
68. Musical Interlude
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 09:39 PM
Response to Original message

The Argentine economic crisis was a financial situation that affected Argentina's economy during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Macroeconomically speaking, the critical period started with the decrease of real GDP in 1999 and ended in 2002 with the return to GDP growth, but the origins of the collapse of Argentina's economy, and their effects on the population, can be found in action before.


Argentina was subject to military dictatorship (alternating with weak, short-lived democratic governments) for many years, which resulted in a number of significant economic problems. During the National Reorganization Process (19761983) huge debt was acquired for money that was later lost in unfinished projects, the Falklands War, and the state's takeover of private debts; in this period, a neoliberal economic platform was introduced. By the end of the military government the country's industries were severely affected and unemployment, calculated at 18% (though official figures claimed 5%), was at its highest point since the Great Depression. SOUND FAMILIAR, WEEKENDERS?

In 1983, democracy in the country was restored with the election of president Ral Alfonsn. The new government's plans included stabilizing Argentina's economy including the creation of a new currency (the austral, first of its kind not to carry the word peso as part of its name), for which new loans were required. The state eventually became unable to pay the interest of this debt and confidence in the austral collapsed. Inflation, which had been held to 10 to 20% a month, spiraled out of control. In July 1989, Argentina's inflation reached 200% that month alone, topping 5,000% for the year. During the Alfonsin years unemployment did not substantially increase but real wages fell by almost half (to the lowest level in fifty years). Amid riots President Alfonsn resigned five months before ending his term and Carlos Menem, who was already President-elect, took office.


Following a second bout of hyperinflation, in late 1990 Domingo Cavallo was appointed Minister of the Economy. In 1991 he took executive measures that fixed the value of Argentine currency at ₳ 10,000 per USD. Furthermore any citizen could go to a bank and convert any amount of domestic currency to dollars. To secure this "convertibility" the Central Bank of Argentina had to keep its U.S. dollar foreign exchange reserves at the same level as the cash in circulation. The initial aim of such measures was to ensure the acceptance of domestic currency since during 1989 and 1990 hyperinflation peaks people had started to reject it as payment demanding U.S. dollars instead. This regime was later fixated by a law (Ley de Convertibilidad) which restored the peso as the Argentine currency with a monetary value fixed by law to the value of the U.S. dollar.

As a result of the convertibility law inflation dropped sharply, price stability was assured and the value of the currency was preserved. This raised the quality of life for many citizens who could now afford to travel abroad, buy imported goods or ask for credit in dollars at very low interest rates.

Argentina still had external debts to pay and it needed to keep borrowing money. The fixed exchange rate made imports cheap, producing a constant flight of dollars away from the country and a progressive loss of Argentina's industrial infrastructure which led to an increase in unemployment.

In the meantime, government spending continued to be high and corruption was rampant. Argentina's public debt grew enormously during the 1990s and the country showed no true signs of being able to pay it. The International Monetary Fund, however, kept lending money to Argentina and postponing its payment schedules. Massive tax evasion and money laundering explained a large part of the evaporation of funds toward offshore banks. A congressional committee started investigations in 2001 about accusations that the Central Bank of Argentina's governor, Pedro Pou, as well as part of the board of directors, had failed to investigate cases of alleged money laundering through Argentina's financial system. Clearstream was also accused of being instrumental in this global financial process.

Other countries, such as Mexico and Brazil (both of which also happen to be important trade partners for Argentina), faced economic crises of their own leading other countries to mistrust Latin American countries moneywise and affecting the overall economy of the region. The influx of foreign currency provided by the privatisation of state companies had dried up. After 1999 Argentine exports were harmed by the devaluation of the Brazilian real and a considerable international revaluation of the dollar effectively revaluing the peso against its major trading partners, Brazil (30% of total trade flows) and the euro area (23% of total trade flows).

By 1999, newly elected President Fernando de la Ra faced a country where unemployment had risen to a critical point and the undesirable effects of the fixed exchange rate were showing forcefully. In 1999 Argentina's gross domestic product dropped 4% and the country entered a recession which lasted three years ending in a collapse. Economic stability became economic stagnation (even deflation at times) and the economic measures taken did nothing to avert it. In fact the government continued the contractive economic policies of its predecessor. The possible solution (abandonment of the exchange peg, with a voluntary devaluation of the peso) was considered political suicide and a recipe for economic disaster. By the end of the century, a spectrum of complementary currencies had emerged.

While the provinces had always issued complementary currency in the form of bonds and drafts to brave shortages of cash, the maintenance of the convertibility regime led to this being done in an unprecedented scale. This led to their being called "quasi-currencies", the strongest of them being Buenos Aires province's Patacn. The national state also issued its own quasi-currencythe LECOP.

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 09:46 PM
Response to Reply #33
Argentina quickly lost the confidence of investors and the flight of money away from the country increased. In 2001, people fearing the worst began withdrawing large sums of money from their bank accounts, turning pesos into dollars and sending them abroad, causing a run on the banks. The government then enacted a set of measures, informally known as the corralito, that effectively froze all bank accounts for twelve months, allowing for only minor sums of cash to be withdrawn, initially announced to be of just $ 250 a week.

Because of this allowance limit and the serious problems it caused in certain cases, many Argentines became enraged and took to the streets of important cities, especially Buenos Aires. They engaged in a form of popular protest that became known as cacerolazo (banging pots and pans). These protests occurred especially in 2001 and 2002. At first the cacerolazos were simply noisy demonstrations, but soon they included property destruction, often directed at banks, foreign privatized companies, and especially big American and European companies. Many businesses installed metal barriers because windows and glass facades were being broken, and even fires being ignited at their doors. Billboards of such companies as Coca Cola and others were brought down by the masses of demonstrators.

Confrontations between the police and citizens became a common sight, and fires were also set on Buenos Aires avenues. Fernando de la Ra declared a state of emergency but this only worsened the situation, precipitating the violent protests of 20 and 21 December 2001 in Plaza de Mayo, where demonstrators clashed with the police, ended with several dead, and precipitated the fall of the government. De la Ra eventually fled the Casa Rosada in a helicopter on 21 December.

Since De la Ra's vice president, Carlos lvarez, had resigned in October 2000, a political crisis ensued. Following presidential succession procedures established in the Constitution, the president of the Senate Ramn Puerta took office and the Legislative Assembly (a body formed by merging both chambers of the Congress) was convened. By law, the candidates were the members of the Senate plus the Governors of the Provinces; they finally appointed Adolfo Rodrguez Sa, then governor of San Luis. During the last week of 2001, the interim government led by Rodrguez Sa, facing the impossibility of meeting debt payments, defaulted on the larger part of the public debt, totalling no less than $132 billion.

Politically, the most heated debate involved the time for the following electionsthe spectrum ranged from March 2002 to October 2003 (the original date for the ending of De la Ra's office).

Rodrguez Sa's economy team came up with a project designed to preserve the convertibility regime, dubbed the "Third Currency" Plan. It consisted of creating a new, non-convertible currency called Argentino coexisting with convertible pesos and U.S. dollars. It would only circulate as cash (checks, promissory notes or other instruments could be nominated in pesos or dollars but not in Argentinos) and would be partially guaranteed with federally managed landsuch features were expected to counterbalance inflationary tendencies.

Argentinos having legal currency status would be used to redeem all complementary currency already in circulationthe acceptance of which as a means of payment was quite uneven. It was hoped that preservation of convertibility would restore public confidence, while the non-convertible nature of this currency would allow for a measure of fiscal flexibility (unthinkable with pesos) that could ameliorate the crippling recession of economy. Critics called this plan merely a "controlled devaluation"; its advocates countered that since controlling a devaluation is perhaps its thorniest issue, this criticism was a praise in disguise. The "Third Currency" plan had enthusiastic supporters among mainstream economists (the most notorious being perhaps Martn Redrado, a former president of the central bank) citing sound technical arguments. However, it could never be implemented because the Rodrguez Sa government lacked the political support required.

Rodrguez Sa, utterly incapable of dealing with the crisis and unsupported by his own party, resigned before the end of the year. The Legislative Assembly convened again, appointing Peronist Eduardo Duhaldethen a Senator for the Buenos Aires provinceto take his place.

End of convertibility

After much deliberation, Duhalde abandoned in January 2002 the fixed 1-to-1 pesodollar parity that had been in place for ten years. In a matter of days, the peso lost a large part of its value in the unregulated market. A provisional "official" exchange rate was set at 1.4 pesos per dollar.

In addition to the corralito, the Ministry of Economy dictated the pesificacin ("peso-ification"), by which all bank accounts denominated in dollars would be converted to pesos at official rate. This measure angered most savings holders and appeals were made by many citizens to declare it unconstitutional.

After a few months, the exchange rate was left to float more or less freely. The peso suffered a huge depreciation, which in turn prompted inflation (since Argentina depended heavily on imports, and had no means to replace them locally at the time).

The economic situation became steadily worse with regards to inflation and unemployment during 2002. By that time the original 1-to-1 rate had increased to nearly 4 pesos per dollar, while the accumulated inflation since the devaluation was about 80%; these figures were considerably lower than those foretold by most orthodox economists at the time. The quality of life of the average Argentine was lowered proportionally; many businesses closed or went bankrupt, many imported products became virtually inaccessible, and salaries were left as they were before the crisis.

Since the volume of pesos did not fit the demand for cash (even after the devaluation) huge quantities of a wide spectrum of complementary currency kept circulating alongside them. Fears of hyperinflation as a consequence of devaluation quickly eroded the attractiveness of their associated revenue, originally stated in convertible pesos. Their acceptability now ultimately depended on the State's willingness to take them as payment of taxes and other charges, consequently becoming very irregular. Very often they were taken at less than their nominal valuewhile the Patacn was frequently accepted at the same value as peso, Entre Ros's Federal was among the worst-faring, at an average 30% as the provincial government that had issued them was reluctant to take them back. There were also frequent rumors that the Government would simply banish complementary currency overnight (instead of redeeming them, even at disadvantageous rates), leaving their holders with useless printed paper.

Immediate effects

Depositors protested the freezing of their accounts. Their mostly dollar-denominated accounts were converted to pesos at less than half their new value.

Many private companies were affected by the crisis: Aerolneas Argentinas, for example, was one of the most affected Argentine companies, having to stop all international flights for various days in 2002. The airline came close to bankruptcy, but survived.

Most barter networks, viable as devices to ameliorate the shortage of cash during the recession, collapsed as large numbers of people turned to them, desperate to save as many pesos as they could for exchange for hard currency as a palliative for uncertainty.

Several thousand newly homeless and jobless Argentines found work as cartoneros, or cardboard collectors. The 2003 estimation of 30,000 to 40,000 people scavenged the streets for cardboard to eke out a living by selling it to recycling plants. This method accounts for only one of many ways of coping in a country that at the time suffered from an unemployment rate soaring at nearly 25%.

Agriculture was also affected: Argentine products were rejected in some international markets, for fear they might arrive damaged from the poor conditions they grew in, and the USDA put restrictions on Argentine food and drugs arriving at the United States.

Producers of television channels were forced to produce more reality shows than any other type of shows, because these were generally cheap to produce as compared to other programmes. Virtually all education-related TV programmes were canceled.

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 09:53 PM
Response to Reply #34
35. Recovery

Eduardo Duhalde finally managed to stabilise the situation to a certain extent, and called for elections. On May 25, 2003 President Nstor Kirchner took charge. Kirchner kept Duhalde's Minister of Economy, Roberto Lavagna, in his post. Lavagna, a respected economist with centrist views, showed a considerable aptitude at managing the crisis, with the help of heterodox measures. SEE NEXT POST

The economic outlook was completely different from that of the 1990s; the devalued peso made Argentine exports cheap and competitive abroad, while discouraging imports. In addition, the high price of soy in the international market produced an injection of massive amounts of foreign currency (with China becoming a major buyer of Argentina's soy products).

The government encouraged import substitution and accessible credit for businesses, staged an aggressive plan to improve tax collection, and set aside large amounts of money for social welfare, while controlling expenditure in other fields.

As a result of the administration's productive model and controlling measures (selling reserve dollars in the public market), the peso slowly revalued, reaching a 3-to-1 rate to the dollar. Agricultural exports grew and tourism returned.

The huge trade surplus ultimately caused such an inflow of dollars that the government was forced to begin intervening to keep the peso from revaluing further, which would ruin the tax collection scheme (largely based on import taxes and royalties) and discourage further reindustrialisation. The central bank started buying dollars in the local market and stocking them as reserves. By December 2005, foreign currency reserves had reached $28 billion (they were greatly reduced by the anticipated payment of the full debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in January 2006). The downside of this reserve accumulation strategy is that the dollars have to be bought with freshly issued pesos, which may induce inflation. The central bank neutralises a part of this monetary emission by selling Treasury letters. In this way the exchange rate has been stabilised near a reference value of 3 pesos to the dollar.

The currency exchange issue is complicated by two mutually opposing factors: a sharp increase in imports since 2004 (which raises the demand of dollars), and the return of foreign investment (which brings fresh currency from abroad) after the successful restructuring of about three quarters of the external debt. The government has set up controls and restrictions aimed at keeping short-term speculative investment from destabilising the financial market.

Argentina's recovery suffered a minor setback in 2004 when rising industrial demand caused a short-lived energy crisis. The prospect of future energy shortages are not discounted.

Argentina has managed to return to growth with surprising strength; the GDP jumped 8.8% in 2003, 9.0% in 2004, 9.2% in 2005, 8.5% in 2006 and 8.7% in 2007. Though average wages have increased 17% annually since 2002 (jumping 25% in the year to May 2008), consumer prices have partly accompanied this surge; though not comparable to the levels of former crises, the inflation rate was 12.5% in 2005, 10% in 2006 and is believed by private economists to have approached 15% in 2007 and to exceed 20% during 2008(even if the Ministry of Economy refuses to acknowledge inflation greater than 10%). This has prompted the government to increase tariffs for exporters and to pressure retailers into one price truce after another in a bid to stabilize prices, so far with little effect.

While unemployment has been considerably reduced (it has been hovering around 8.5% since 2006), Argentina has so far failed to reach an equitable distribution of income (the wealthiest 10% of the population receives 31 times more income than the poorest 10%). This disparity, nevertheless, compares quite favorably to levels seen in most of Latin America.

Worker-owned cooperatives and self-management

During the economic collapse, many business owners and foreign investors drew all of their money out of the Argentine economy and sent it overseas. As a result, many small and medium enterprises closed due to lack of capital, thereby exacerbating unemployment. Many workers at these enterprises, faced with a sudden loss of employment and no source of income, decided to reopen businesses on their own, without the presence of the owners and their capital, as self-managed cooperatives.

Worker managed cooperative businesses range from ceramics factory Zanon (FaSinPat), to the four-star Hotel Bauen, to suit factory Brukman, to printing press Chilavert, and many others. In some cases, former owners sent police to remove workers out of these workplaces; this was sometimes successful but in other cases workers defended occupied workplaces against the state, the police, and the bosses.

A survey by an Argentina newspaper in the capital found that around 1/3 of the population had participated in general assemblies. The assemblies used to take place in street corners and public spaces, and generally gathered to discuss ways of helping each other in the face of eviction, or organizing around issues like health care, collective food buying, or conducting free food distribution programs. Some assemblies started to create new structures of health care and schooling, to replace the old ones that were not working. Neighborhood assemblies met once a week in a large assembly to discuss issues affecting the larger community. In 2004, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein (author of No Logo) released the documentary The Take, about these events.

Some businesses have now been legally purchased by the workers for nominal fees, others remain 'occupied' by workers who have no legal standing with the state (and in some cases reject negotiation with the state on the grounds that working productively is its own justification). The Argentine government is considering a Law of Expropriation that would transfer some occupied businesses to their worker-managers.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 09:55 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. "Heterodox economics" EXPLAINED
"Heterodox economics" refers to approaches or to schools of economic thought that are considered outside of "mainstream economics". Mainstream economists sometimes assert that it has little or no influence on the vast majority of academic economists in the English speaking world. "Mainstream economics" is called "orthodox economics" by its critics. "Heterodox economics" is an umbrella term used to cover various approaches, schools, or traditions. These include institutional, post-Keynesian, socialist, Marxian, feminist, Austrian, ecological, resource-based, and social economics among others.

These views may be contrasted with the framework used by the majority of economists, commonly referred to by its supporters as mainstream and by critics as orthodox or conventional. Mainstream economics studies economic phenomena using microeconomic and macroeconomic theory and econometrics.

The International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics (ICAPE) does not define "heterodox economics" and has avoided defining its scope. ICAPE defines its mission as "promoting pluralism in economics."

In defining a common ground in the "critical commentary," one writer described fellow heterodox economists as trying to do three things: (1) identify shared ideas that generate a pattern of heterodox critique across topics and chapters of introductory macro texts; (2) give special attention to ideas that link methodological differences to policy differences; and (3) characterize the common ground in ways that permit distinct paradigms to develop common differences with textbook economics in different ways.

One study suggests four key factors as important to the study of economics by self-identified heterodox economists: history, natural systems, uncertainty, and power.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Ghost Dog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:04 AM
Response to Reply #35
45. Yes. Assemblies, for a start.
Edited on Sat Nov-19-11 08:40 AM by Ghost Dog
Assemblies. Self-organisation. From Argentina to Spain (Indignados) and now to USA (OWS).

Nb. Re. the Lewis/Klein documentary The Take see here: /

From the timeline at the link:

1999 - Fernando de La Rua is elected president on an anti-corruption platform. During his short term in office, he does little to alter the economic policies of the Menem government.

October 2001 The Zann Ceramics factory in Patagonia is occupied by its laid-off workers.

December 18, 2001 - A garment factory in Buenos Aires, the Brukman factory, is abandoned by its owners and taken over by its workers.

December 19, 2001 - Argentina explodes. Weeks after the government had closed Argentines out of their bank accounts, food riots break out across the country and in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. President De la Rua announces a curfew and a state of siege. Millions of Argentines disobey, and in the capital, the Plaza de Mayo and the Congress are packed with irate citizens, all chanting Que se vayan todos (All of them out!) Police and military kill more than 25 people throughout the country.

December 20, 2001 - Fernando de la Rua resigns. Argentina goes through five presidents in three weeks. The second president, Adolfo Rodriguez Sa defaults on the external debt, and the currency is devalued, losing over two thirds of its value. Once Latin Americas wealthiest country, over 50% of Argentines fall below the poverty line.

There is an explosion of grassroots activism all over the country, but particularly in Buenos Aires. Unemployed workers in the industrial suburbs, who organized themselves in the downsizing of the early 90s, employ the piquete technique of blocking roadways to make demands of the government. Middle class neighborhood assemblies in Buenos Aires meet on street corners to discuss national politics and local issues, and practising direct democracy. Abandoned and/or bankrupt workplaces are occupied by their former workers; banks, bakeries, health clinics, bus lines and schools.

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-11 09:56 PM
Response to Original message
37. Time for some shut-eye; Goodnight, Weekenders!
See you in the morning...not too early!
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
kickysnana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 03:56 AM
Response to Original message
38. Bravo! n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 04:32 AM
Response to Original message
39. This thread is one to keep for future reference, and to recommend to others. Thank you. K & R. n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:41 AM
Response to Reply #39
47. Thank you for joining us
We're spreading the word--information is the first element of power.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
hamerfan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 06:55 AM
Response to Original message
42. Musical Interlude
Requiem For Evita:

Great thread! Thanks Demeter and everyone.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 07:56 AM
Response to Original message
44. i have to go grocery shopping for thanksgiving today
:donut: and i'm sick. blech.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:43 AM
Response to Reply #44
49. Chicken soup and best wishes
Thanks for reminding me that turkeys are on sale today at Krogers--and I'd better get one NOW.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:10 AM
Response to Original message
52. Privatization Nightmare
Nothing we don't already know here, but lots of back-up detail if anyone wants it:

... The Biggest Nightmare: Privatization Just Shifts Costs To Other Parts Of Government Or To The Economy

Does government really save if one government agency saves some money by contracting out, but other government agencies have to pick up the same costs. For example, if the contracting results in pay cuts for working people, then another part of the government might then spend more on poverty, nutrition or health programs for the people who now make so little.

So does privatization really cut costs, or does it just shift them? And if it does just shift them (it does) see if you can guess who privatization shifts these costs to?

But even worse than this shifting of costs to other parts of the government is the bigger picture of what this does to our economy. The result of this cost-cutting is that people in the economy that were making $25/hour now only make perhaps $10/hour and most likely no longer get benefits. Same larger economy, $15 an hour less. After a while this adds up, and everyone has less, except for a few at the top. Kind of like now.

... Private Not Public Interest

There is a fundamental conflict of interest between public and private. When things are privatized of course profit comes first, not public interest. Public functions are supposed to serve the public, us, We, the People. The private in privatization means that it is done for the private gain of a few. When a public function is privatized it means that instead of operating for the benefit of We, the People the 99% it is operated for the benefit of a few the 1%.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:11 AM
Response to Original message
53. Will the Euro be Destroyed by Ideologues? By Dean Baker


We could be living through the last days of the euro. That is not a happy thought. While there were many negative aspects to the rules governing the European Central Bank and the eurozone economies, no one can want to see the economic chaos that will almost certainly follow the collapse of the euro...There will likely be a wave of bank collapses as banks are forced to write down much of the debt they hold in Italy, Ireland and other heavily indebted countries. This would bring about another Lehman-type situation where finance freezes up. Banks would stop lending to each other and even healthy businesses would find it difficult to obtain credit. That is the story of a severe double-dip in the eurozone, with the spillover effect almost certainly pushing the United States and most of the rest of the world into recession. It could easily be over a decade until these economies recover from the damage.

The absurdity of this story is that such a collapse could be easily prevented. The recipe is simple. The European Central Bank (ECB) must agree to backdrop the debt of Italy and most of the other heavily indebted countries, after a write-down of Greek debt. It should also have an expansionary policy that allows somewhat higher inflation in Germany so that the peripheral countries can regain competitiveness by having lower positive inflation rates. The current low inflation rate in Germany, requires that Spain, Italy and other peripheral countries actually have deflation to improve their competitiveness. This is difficult to accomplish and likely to lead to many years of slow growth and high unemployment in these countries.

While the basic logic of the situation should be apparent even to people without formal training in economics, the ECB seems oblivious to it. The preferred path from the ECB, along with its partners the IMF and the European Union, is to require that the heavily indebted countries just keep cutting their deficits. This leads to further reductions in demand, which causes higher unemployment. As the unemployment rate rises, tax collections fall and payment for transfer programs like unemployment benefits increase. The result is that the deficits get larger and the debt-to-GDP ratio rises...The absurdity of the ECB agenda should have become apparent even to its top officials when they came up with the idea of a new expanded bailout fund. To make the fund more potent, the ECB sent emissaries to China, Brazil, India, and Russia to encourage them to lend money to the fund...This is truly a remarkable story since the per capita income of all of these countries is far below the average in the ECB. In Russia, the richest of the group, per capita income is just under $17,000 per year slightly more than half of the eurozone average. In India, per capita income is under $4,000 less than 15 percent of the average for the EU. In short, we have a confederation that includes many of the richest countries on the planet asking for handouts from countries that are much poorer.

Actually, if these fast-growing developing countries want to do the eurozone countries a favor, they will take a page from the IMFs handbook. As my colleague Mark Weisbrot has suggested, they will offer the eurozone support for its bailout fund, but with conditions. The conditions would simply be that the ECB start following good macro policy. In other words it should agree to guarantee the debt of eurozone governments after arranging the necessary write downs for Greece and other countries that would have difficulty meeting their debt obligations even if they paid very low interest rates. These countries could also require that the ECB target a somewhat higher inflation rate, in the range of 3-4 percent. This would facilitate the adjustment process for the peripheral countries. If inflation in the eurozone averaged 4 percent, with a somewhat higher rate in Germany and the continuation of near zero rates in Spain, Italy and other heavily indebted countries, then this latter group of countries will soon regain their competitiveness. The higher inflation will also help alleviate the debt burdens facing the peripheral countries. The absurdity of this situation is that the eurozone countries would not need outside support from the BRICs if the ECB were prepared to pursue these policies today. Just as is the case now with the United States, there is no shortage of wealth in the EU, in the sense that it has the ability to produce vastly more goods and services than it is producing. The main problem is simply a lack of demand. We have known how to generate demand since Keynes wrote his masterpiece in the 30s. However rather than pursue the simple steps needed to restore the eurozones economy to stable growth, the ECB is adhering to an ideological agenda that will destroy the euro and throw the economy into an even more severe recession than the last one. This is an extraordinary tragedy unraveling in slow motion in front of the world.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:46 AM
Response to Reply #53
60. Is Europe Over? By John Feffer

Europe has always been a rather tenuous concept. A rump continent, Europe represented the barbarous hinterlands for the Greeks and Romans. The first use of the term "European" occurred in a chronicle describing the forces of Charles the Hammer that turned back the northward advance of Islam at the battle of Tours in 732. Long celebrated in Europe as a victory of civilization over barbarism, the Battle of Tours was, as historian David Levering Lewis reminds us in God's Crucible, actually the opposite: "the victory of Charles the Hammer must be seen as greatly contributing to the creation of an economically retarded, balkanized, fratricidal Europe that, in defining itself in opposition to Islam made virtues out of religious persecution, cultural particularism, and hereditary aristocracy." For most of its existence, Europe has been just that: a continent divided against itself. From the conquests of Charlemagne to the unprecedented bloodletting of two world wars in the 20th century, Europe saw only brief stretches of unity, and that only by virtue of imperial force...Europe as a unified, democratic, relatively peaceful, and economically prosperous order has so far only enjoyed a brief lifespan. This conception of Europe dates to the early days of the Cold War and the perceived need to create a bulwark against the Soviet Union to the east. Centuries of Franco-German enmity vanished after World War II, as these two key European countries united against a common enemy at the urging of a common friend (the United States). The resulting economic alliance would expand and deepen over the decades into the current European Union of 27 countries. The EU now boasts a parliament, a council of ministers, a common currency (for 17 of the 27), the largest economy in the world, and even, somewhat ominously, a military force that has intervened overseas a dozen times or so.

Thanks to a difficult-to-contain economic meltdown, however, this ambitious regional project suddenly seems on the verge of unraveling. And the very qualities that began to gather around the concept of "European" in the 8th century religious persecution, cultural particularism, and hereditary aristocracy appear to be returning in the form of Islamophobia, extreme nationalism, and the oligarchy of bankers. It's not a pretty sight. Two governments the nominally socialist Papandreou administration in Greece and the substantively insane Berlusconi burlesque show in Italy have already fallen. The euro is at risk of collapse, and some European politicians are waxing apocalyptic. "If the euro zone were to fall apart then it's hard to exclude the possibility of EU falling apart as well," argues Polish Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski, who holds out the possibility of the return of authoritarian governments and even war. It's not just Europe's problem. We are all directly affected by the crisis in Europe, says Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and for once I agree with him. Columnist Robert Samuelson darkly predicts "a slow side into currency wars and protectionism," while the IMF's Christine Lagarde warns of an impending "lost decade" for the world economy.

The proximate cause of the current European crisis is debt. Much of the continent has racked up big piles of the stuff: more than their GDPs, in fact, in the case of Greece and Italy (with Ireland, Belgium, France, and Portugal not far behind). Ordinarily, a country can rejigger its currency, in effect devaluing it, to make exports cheaper and grow the economy. But these countries no longer have their own currency. They have the euro, and, according to agreements all 17 Eurozone countries signed, their national debt cannot exceed 60 percent of their GDP. This rule has not been precisely applied, but if the rate of borrowing rises so high that the governments no longer have any hope of paying back the debt, they have little choice except to appeal to the European authorities and the IMF for a bailout package. Greece, Portugal, and Ireland all qualified for rescue. The bailout money, however, was all tied up with strings. Structural adjustment once the remedy reserved for the Third World periphery has now been applied to the periphery of Europe itself. The debt crisis, according to conventional analysis, results from profligate governments that have maintained high levels of social services without the income necessary to support them. But Europe's current economic crisis is in many ways an aftershock from the financial crisis of 2008, when European banks invested, unwisely, in all the fancy instruments that U.S. institutions created to peddle risky mortgages. Flush with their own bailouts, which even included some U.S. bailout money, the same European banks then shifted into investments in sovereign debt. In other words, the banks were like pushers who, locked out of one drug market, simply turned to another. They made a killing at first, raking in over a billion dollars in fees alone, and they did little to ensure responsible policy by the governments concerned (fiscal responsibility, after all, would have interfered with short-term profit margins). Marking down the debt means that banks will take a loss. So, for instance, if Italian bonds are written off at 50 cents to the dollar, Goldman Sachs would lose 10 percent of its $3.43 billion in profit for the first nine months of the year, according to The New York Times. If anyone in this sad circus should be shouldering the austerity, it should be the banks. But it looks likely that the 99 percent will continue to pay the penalty for the folly of the 1 percent.

The threat of government default and the prospect of economic austerity are bad enough. The political fallout might be even worse. Europe has been overwhelmed by a rising tide of extreme nationalism. Far right-wing parties have been gaining strength throughout the continent, particularly in places that have been largely immune to such extremism in the last 50 years. The Progress Party in Norway, to which mass murderer Anders Breivik was once affiliated, is now the second-largest party there; Geert Wilders, the flamboyant Islamophobe of the Netherlands, has led his party into third place; the Democratic Party in Sweden, which similarly focuses its wrath on immigrants, made it into parliament for the first time in the 2010 elections. These extremist successes in the putative territories of tolerance augment the rising support for far-right wing parties elsewhere in Europe Jobbik in Hungary, the Northern League in Italy, the Freedom Party in Austria. Ultra-nationalists have also been effective at organizing on a local level. The far-right-wing Plataforma per Catalunya is making headway in municipalities across the Catalan region of Spain. In Athens, a neo-Nazi recently won a spot on the city council. And these are the polite ones. Right-wing vigilantes have rampaged on the streets of Sofia, Gyngyspata, Dudley, Warsaw, and other places. From a thug's eye view, Europe today looks a lot like Europe of the 1930s: steeped in economic crisis and cursed with dithering politicians, with Islamophobia and anti-Roma sentiment substituting for anti-Semitism. Then as now, the far right has employed a dangerous populism to take advantage of the economic downturn. It has identified two primary culprits immigrants (who compete for jobs and government benefits) and European institutions (which mismanaged the economic situation). These explanations are increasingly persuasive in an environment in which the center left, as in Greece or Spain, has been hamstrung by its own involvement in creating the economic messes and imposing the harsh remedies...

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 05:23 PM
Response to Reply #53
70. Because Keynesian policies would transfer some small % wealth to the workers - goddess forfend!
But I find myself unable to care - there is nothing on the horizon that makes me think that even were we (and EU) to do what is sane economically, we would not do so in any sustainable fashion. And the earth cannot bear consumption at the rate that the Western world thinks "normal" - not at least under current methods of energy and raw material extraction and product production. I have read somewhere that even an energy efficient new car, for instance, takes a greater toll on the environment in production that does driving an older car with worse mileage. Our agricultural models are unsustainable. Our endless craving for idiocies like chemical air fresheners.

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:16 AM
Response to Original message
54. Energy Dept. Offered to Put Private Investors Ahead of Taxpayers if Solyndra Went Bankrupt

As solar panel maker Solyndra sunk deeper into debt last year, a top Department of Energy official pulled the companys chief investor aside with a last-ditch pitch: If investors raised $75 million to help Solyndra stay afloat, they would be first to collect if the fledgling firm went bankrupt...Solyndra did shut its doors this year, and now those investors, including a bundler to President Obama, stand first in line in bankruptcy proceedings. The Energy Department, which supported Solyndra with a $535 million loan guarantee even as auditors, analysts and government bureaucrats raised bright red flags about the companys prospects, placed U.S. taxpayers second in line. The roots of that arrangement are spelled out in a Dec. 7, 2010 email from Steve Mitchell, the managing director of Argonaut Private Equity, Solyndras top financial investor, and addressed to George. Argonauts founder is George Kaiser, an Oklahoma oil billionaire who bundled campaign contributions for Obamas 2008 election.

With Solyndra buried in a cash flow crisis late last year, the company and its chief investors met with Energy Department officials in a search for solutions. Solyndra and its investors wanted more money from DOE, which had already bankrolled it with the low interest half billion dollar loan issued by the Federal Financing Bank. At the meeting, Mitchell wrote, DOE made clear that while it should be increasing the loan it wouldnt. However, they also acknowledge that politically they had no will or ability to get this done, Mitchell wrote. The DOE really thinks politically before it thinks economically. Jonathan Silver, a former venture capitalist tapped by the Obama administration to run the loan program in November 2009, was not at that late-year meeting but was cited in the email discussion about politics at DOE. The emails released Wednesday redact, or black out, the name of the person who mentioned him.

After DOE shot down its idea, Mitchell wrote, Argonaut politely moved the conversation toward the potential bankruptcy ahead. This, he said, caught the Energy Department by surprise. To me it was clear that the DOE folks were somewhat caught off guard that we werent going to bail out the company. As the meeting broke up, Mitchell wrote, he was approached by a top Energy official pitching a new idea. The lead decision maker for the DOE at this weeks negotiations grabbed me and wanted to discuss one final proposal from the DOE, Mitchell wrote. She suggested that we (current investors) commit to fund $75 million now and in exchange DOE would fund the remaining $95 million...Under her new proposal, in a downside situation i.e. a liquidation scenario our $75 million would receive 100 percent of the liquidation proceeds until we were made whole and her $95 million would stand behind us, Mitchell wrote.

Mitchell said he struggled with the idea of making another investment in a company losing millions and struggling to find a foothold in the market. But for the investors, Energys pitch carried favorable terms: If Solyndra went belly up, theyd have the first chance to recover. This request does reduce our risk in the downside scenario, Mitchell wrote. By last February, the deal was set. Investors, including Argonaut, raised $75 million. The Energy Department, in turn, refinanced Solyndras loan to give the company more time to pay its debt. And it agreed to keep investors in line first in bankruptcy. Energy Secretary Steven Chu signed off on the arrangement, records show. Chu, facing escalating criticism for his departments handling of its first loan guarantee, is scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee investigating the loan...

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:32 AM
Response to Original message
56. Crash of 1929 Just Prelude: Truthout Interviews Whistleblower-Novelist Nomi Prins

by: Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview

Nomi Prins, author of "Black Tuesday."

Mark Karlin: Given your expertise in understanding the corruption of Wall Street, what did you find in the practices of the financial world leading up to the 1929 crash that presaged the 2007 crisis?

Nomi Prins: Into the crash of 1929, there were six big banks. Their leaders controlled most of the market activity, sat on each others' boards and owned large chunks of stock in each others' firms. They inflated the values of stocks through "trusts" (financial mechanisms by which many investors could "pool" together their money, and borrowed money, to purchase or sell various stocks in bulk).

These were further puffed up by a co-opted media and enabling political leaders (as depicted in "Black Tuesday.") Even as the crash happened, the biggest bankers thought they could contain it and could buoy stocks until the market settled, so they threw in their own (read: customers') money. That didn't work, of course. The financial markets and lending systems collapsed.

Today, we have six banks (mostly incarnations of the 1929 banks) that control the stock market, most mortgage lending, the bulk of deposits and nearly all derivatives activity. They inflated the housing market, in particular subprime loans, so they could stuff those loans into more complicated assets, borrowing hundreds of trillion of dollars against them, increased their risk through derivatives and spread them throughout the globe. When it became apparent these assets didn't have the value that banks said they did, the market, they got federally bailed out, while the Main Street economy sank.

MK: Why did you choose to write a novel that incorporates Wall Street malfeasance surrounding Black Tuesday instead of a nonfiction book?

NP: I'd always wanted to write both fiction and nonfiction. Ever since my debut story about a fish and a princess at age three, the left and right sides of my brain were engaged in tenuous warfare. Several decades later, after I completed my third nonfiction book, "It Takes a Pillage," the inevitability of the widespread economic collapse that I'd warned about in excessive detail, bore down on me. I'd worked over a decade in investment banking and been writing about if for nearly a decade. My brain was fried from all the documents and composite statistics. I wanted to write a novel - to develop complex characters - to tell a human story, to access the very heart of a very parallel historical period, through the heart of my protagonist, Leila Kahn.

Then I met a woman who'd live through those times, and she told me about her prudent father during the Depression. Leila's little sister, Rachel, is based on her. Leila herself came to me one night, when I was thinking about how we can often make very different choices depending on whether we listen to our hearts or our minds. The two men in her life, the banker and the laborer, represent those sides of her, in a time where nothing is black and white, but shades of gray.

MK: Does Leila symbolize the seeker of the American Dream running head-on into its dark underside?

NP: Yes, absolutely. There was a wondrous sense when immigrants came to the US, throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, of an amazing America that held unlimited promise for all, a nation that welcomed all equally, where mere hard work and tenacity would lead to prosperity. Yet, what many found upon arrival was nothing like that.

Leila and her little sister Rachel live in a dilapidated fifth-floor walk-up apartment in a Lower East Side tenement building, sharing a two-room apartment with five people. Their lives are not easy. Her dying Aunt Rosa can't afford the medicine to soothe her pain. Her cousins work at the Fulton Street docks under unbearable conditions, while their bosses, as Nelson, Leila's boyfriend, says before his arrest, make money on their backs.

There was, and is, an upstairs/downstairs world in New York City, a major and visible class divide there, and throughout the country: that 99 vs. 1 percent gap. "Black Tuesday" focuses on the stark lifestyle and wealth difference between families, neighborhoods and ethnicities, the gap in what they sought, with what they found.

MK: The Glass-Steagall Act was passed in 1933 to try and prevent future market collapses. It was repealed in 1999 after Bill Clinton signed it into law. How significant was the repeal in leading to the 2007 near-Wall Street implosion?

NP: In order to avoid the disastrous co-mingling of customer deposits and accounts with the creation of risky securities, trusts and related trading, banks were separated via the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 into commercial (dealing with the public's loans, deposits and the more productive use of capital) and speculative (securities creation and trading) arms.

The commercial banks received deposit backing from the newly created Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). And the banks that chose to focus on securities creation and trading - well, they were not provided government subsidies like today. Plus, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was created to ostensibly protect the public from securities fraud (though it has been useless at that recently.)

Due to the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, commercial and investment banking, and insurance companies, intertwined. Commercial banks were able to leverage (or borrow against "safer" positions more massively) because they owned that more "stable" fee-driven deposit and loan business They could thus create big new debt deals for their clients, create assets stuffed with anything from junk bonds to subprime loans, and load up on derivatives. Competition between banks became about who could leverage their simpler businesses, the most and the quickest. Investment banks, like Goldman, Lehman and Merrill that didn't have the depositor cushion, but wanted in on the same game, got the SEC to allow them to leverage the trading positions they did have, more. Repeal stoked the casino element of Wall Street, rendering productive financing less attractive.

MK: In your novel, the nefarious bank in question is led by a powerful mogul uncle who controls his nephew - a family-run financial firm, so to speak. How has the ownership of banks and financial firms changed since the crash of 1929?

NP: Back then, the Morgan Bank (fictionalized in my novel from a story perspective, but real) was a private elitist bank. Partners were handpicked by Jack Morgan (J.P. Morgan Jr.) and customer lists weren't public, nor were many deals. In "Black Tuesday," Roderick, the nephew, and Jack, the uncle, come to have very different reactions to the bank's secrecy.

Today, JPM Chase, which includes within its hierarchy the original Morgan bank, is similarly one of the most powerful banks in the world, though part-funded by public shares, rather than private ones.

The big banks, epitomized by Morgan Bank in 1929 and JPM Chase today - as well as others - are still run by entitled, privileged titans with disdain for containment by stricter laws. They travel in moneyed circles, have access to - or become - the most senior political leaders and, in general, are completely disconnected from the rest of the public. The only difference is that Morgan came into his position in the family bank through his father, whereas Jamie Dimon rose through the ranks of several banks before attaining his position; otherwise, they could be the same man, same bank, different time.

MK: In 1929, the US financial industry was much more confined to America. Now it is part of an international system that is much more interconnected. Your novel describes a Wall Street that seems quaint and much smaller in scale than what exists today. How has the international financial market in 2011 changed the way in which Wall Street functions?

NP: Today, individuals have more access to invest or "bet" in the market - e-trade or Charles Schwab accounts, and so forth. They never even have to sit down with a broker like they did back in 1929. Additionally, many have 401K or various pension plans that invest in various stocks and securities for them.

In the 1920s, there were things called "trusts" through which people thought they could invest alongside the bigger, smarter financiers. Now, we have MSNBC, Fox Business and Jim Cramer talking about how small investors can become rich.

Then, certain Wall Street bankers and the equivalent of today's hedge and equity fund titans manipulated the market by having more access to information and the ability to maneuver bigger price swings since they controlled more of the trading volume. It's the same thing today, but additionally now with globalized programmed trading, the big volume trades cause tremendous market movements which can hurt the "little people" who don't know they are coming. Then, investors believed trusts (which were created by banks and stuffed with the stock of their preferred clients' companies) were surefire ways to make money because bankers said so. More recently, investors (including pension funds, municipalities and whole countries) believed AAA mortgage-related securities were surefire ways to make money because bankers and rating agencies said so.

MK: One financial tool that didn't exist in 1929 is the derivative. How has that "investment instrument" made Wall Street a much riskier enterprise?

NP: The advent of a whole slew of different derivatives, from interest rate to currency to credit and all sorts of tailored-made combinations in between, mostly over the past three decades, has infused the financial system with exponentially greater risk and less transparency, and much more dangerous interconnectivity amongst the largest financial players. As a result, global bank and political leaders can yell about how the entire system will implode absent certain bailouts, whether for Bank of America or the international speculators who bet against Greece thought the credit derivatives market, if certain things like debt-for-austerity programs aren't enacted.

Derivatives upped the ante of control that the largest financial players have over the entire system, as well as the ability for them to hold whole counties and populations hostage. In essence, there are more derivatives in the world than many multiples of global gross domestic product (GDP). That makes the global financial enterprise exceedingly risky. Put it this way: what happened with the collapse of finance that lead to the Great Depression, absent complex derivatives, is nothing compared to what could happen today.

MK: You and I have talked about Tom and Daisy Buchanan, wealthy characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," who lived reckless lives of privilege and left ruined lives in their wake. How did that novel, published in 1925, influence "Black Tuesday"?

NP: Before contemplating "Black Tuesday," on a whim, I walked into my local library during Great Gatsby month. I got a copy of the classic, re-read it and decided that I didn't like any of the women in it. Plus, the notion of the "roaring 1920s" was about as fake as the Kardashians. There were some exceedingly wealthy people around, but mostly then, like now, the country was struggling - that's why the allure of the stock market sucked in investors that it shouldn't have, like Leila's uncle's partner.

The characters, Tom and Daisy Buchanan, were the quintessential representations of the 1920s vapid, partying, "good" life. Yet at the time, hosts of young women dreamt of being Daisy. Leila learned about high-society life from reading "The Great Gatsby," penned the year she came to America, but upon witnessing that life in Roderick's world, she is crushed by the dark criminality of it all. She even tells Roderick, who knows Fitzgerald, that he couldn't possibly understand the real world, her world, foreshadowing the parallel recklessness at the center of "Black Tuesday."

MK: Unrelated to your novel, but very much related to the subject at hand, is the question of Timothy Geithner. Is there some positive side to his being Secretary of the Treasury, or is he just Wall Street's man in the White House?

NP: Tim Geithner is a tool, literally. When Geithner took the Treasury helm, the amount of Treasury Security debt outstanding was $5.7 trillion (in tradable securities, and $591 billion in nonmarketable ones). In August 2008, just before the most powerful banks sucked the soul out of the country in every manner possible, it was $4.9 trillion. Today, outstanding Treasury debt stands at $9.7 trillion (total debt $10.2 trillion). Most of that increase occurred under Geithner, though it started under Hank Paulson.

Geithner will keep pretending that this seismic debt increase was a requirement to fix our main economy, which continues to get crushed, ignoring mention that the biggest, most powerful banks were propped up by trillions of dollars of federal of subsidies. His being Treasury head is an inherent conflict of interest with his Wall Street alliances, just as then-Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, under President Coolidge prior to the 1929 crash, had an allegiance to the bankers, because he was one.

MK: Finally, do you think the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will actually reform anything on Wall Street?

NP: No. The Dodd-Frank Act does not separate the banks, thereby, no matter what other minor cosmetic items it contains, or yet-to-be-lobbied-to-death practices it evokes, banks can still increase their risk-taking and influence upon the cushion of customers' money.

The Consumer Financial Protection Agency is a great idea, in theory - though it should be noted, there already was a consumer protection department within the Federal Reserve that was 100 percent ineffective as fraudulent mortgages were being stuffed into fraudulent assets and dispersed throughout the world. But, by virtue of its political proximity to the Federal Reserve, any alarm bells it rings will involve a bitter fight against a stronger opponent. Not appointing Elizabeth Warren to run it was a pretty big red flag. I have more confidence in the Occupy movement to bring attention to the myriad of slimy bank practices, like Bank of America's $5 debit fee, which was pushed back, though in order for even public outcry to be effective, it has to translate into real profit loss for the banks, and it has to be hypervigilant and aggressive - forever.


Creative Commons License

This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:39 AM
Response to Original message
58. Thom Hartmann: The Days of Insider Trading Among Members of Congress Could Be Numbered
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:48 AM
Response to Original message
Edited on Sat Nov-19-11 09:50 AM by Demeter

When the architects of the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul flinched from the most effective solution breaking up the banks so that none would be too big to drag down the financial system they forced regulators of the derivatives market into a cumbersome and potentially dangerous workaround.

Those regulators are feverishly making lots of important, arcane rulings that are being followed only by insiders. They are replacing an opaque system prone to failures with a new, huge Rube Goldberg-like system that may reduce global financial risk. Or it may not. Nobody knows, not least the regulators themselves.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, led by Gary Gensler, last month approved rules that would require derivatives clearinghouses to open their membership to firms that have as little as $50 million in capital. A clearinghouse is a central body through which trades take place. It is supported by its financial firm members. For instance, if JPMorgan Chase enters into a derivatives transaction with Goldman Sachs, their deal would go through a clearinghouse, which is on the hook for the trade if one of those banks fails.

The big banks that dominate derivatives trading resisted letting in smaller firms, arguing that doing so would make the clearinghouses vulnerable. They have a point: A clearinghouse with a bunch of undercapitalized members would be more prone to failure, unable to pony up when one side of a trade defaults, and we would be back where we started.

And who had lobbied for this? One of those smaller brokerage firms, MF Global, then run by Jon S. Corzine. Of course, MF Global went belly up because of its aggressive bets and high leverage...OR DID IT? LOOKS LIKE A SMOKING GUN TO ME--DEMETER: MEANS, MOTIVE, OPPORTUNITY--BOOK 'EM, DANNO! MORE AT LINK
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:55 AM
Response to Original message
63. Karl Rove Flips Out at Protesters: "Who Gave You the Right to Occupy America?"

...former Bush official Karl Rove appeared at Johns Hopkins University to speak as a part of the annual Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium. Rove soon discovered that he wasnt going to deliver his right-wing rhetoric unopposed, as a cry of Mic Check! rang out among the audience.

As the world rises up against economic injustice, Truthout brings you the latest news and analysis, free of corporate influence. Help support this work with a tax-deductible donation today.

Karl Rove is the architect of Occupy Iraq, the architect of Occupy Afghanistan! yelled the demonstrators. Occupy Baltimore had infiltrated the crowd and began chanting against Rove. Who gave you the right to occupy America? asked Rove to the protesters, apparently unaware of the Bill of Rights. As they repeated their slogan, We are the 99 percent! Rove petulantly responded, No youre not! He snidely added, You wanna keep jumping up and yelling that youre the 99 percent? How presumptuous and arrogant can you think are! Watch Occupy Baltimore confront Rove:

#occupybaltimore Mic Checks Karl Rove
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #63
65. Occupiers Occupied: The Hijacking of the First Amendment By Robert Reich

A funny thing happened to the First Amendment on its way to the public forum. According to the Supreme Court, money is now speech and corporations are now people. But when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with the political consequences of this, theyre treated as public nuisances and evicted.

First things first. The Supreme Courts rulings that money is speech and corporations are people have now opened the floodgates to unlimited (and often secret) political contributions from millionaires and billionaires. Consider the Koch brothers (worth $25 billion each), who are bankrolling the Tea Party and already running millions of dollars worth of ads against Democrats. Such millionaires and billionaires arent contributing their money out of sheer love of country. They have a more self-interested motive. Their political spending is analogous to their other investments. Mostly they want low tax rates and friendly regulations. Wall Street is punishing Democrats for enacting the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation (weak as it is) by shifting its money to Republicans. The Koch brothers petrochemical empire has financed, among many other things, candidates who will vote against environmental protection. This tsunami of big money into politics is the real public nuisance. Its making it almost impossible for the voices of average Americans to be heard because most of us dont have the dough to break through. By granting First Amendment rights to money and corporations, the First Amendment rights of the rest of us are being trampled on.

This is where the Occupiers come in. If theres a core message to the Occupier movement its that the increasing concentration of income and wealth poses a grave danger to our democracy. Yet when Occupiers seek to make their voices heard in one of the few ways average people can still be heard theyre told their First Amendment rights are limited...The New York State Court of Appeals along with many mayors and other officials say Occupiers can picket but they cant encamp. Yet its the encampments themselves that have drawn media attention (along with the police efforts to remove them). A bunch of people carrying pickets isnt news. When it comes to making views known, picketing is no competition for big money.

Yet if Occupiers now shift tactics from passive resistance to violence, it would spell the end of the movement. The vast American middle class that now empathizes with the Occupiers would promptly desert them.

But theres another alternative. If Occupiers are expelled from specific geographic locations the Occupier movement can shift to broad-based organizing around the simple idea at the core of the movement: Its time to occupy our democracy.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 09:58 AM
Response to Original message
64. Bank of America: Always Thinking of You

One way you can tell that a bank is in trouble is that it suddenly starts buying full-page ads in newspapers across the country that tell us what great shape it's in and what a fine job it's doing for our communities.

Such a PR push is now being made by Bank of America, which -- despite its happy-face ads -- is in a heap of hurt. How big of a heap? So big that it's trying to share the hurt with you and me.

In the 2007-2008 Wall Street collapse, B of A took advantage of the crisis to bulk up its empire. Using $45 billion in bailout money from us taxpayers, the giant gobbled up two troubled financial powers, investment house Merrill Lynch and mortgage hustler Countrywide Financial. It is now choking on these mergers, as well as on its own executive incompetence. Its credit rating has been downgraded, its stock price has plummeted, its CEO is desperately trying to raise cash (and save his job) by firing 36,000 employees, and it managed to infuriate its own customers by trying to impose a $5 monthly fee on debit card users....

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 10:04 AM
Response to Original message
66. Reality Check--Be Back Soon
or in any event, I'll be back....promise!
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 10:19 AM
Response to Original message
67. Madonna - Evita - 12 High Flying, Adored (1996)
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Hotler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 03:22 PM
Response to Original message
69. kicking. n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 07:29 PM
Response to Original message
71. JPMorgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Accused Of Overcharging Military Veterans
Edited on Sat Nov-19-11 07:29 PM by Demeter

In what is only the latest instance of questionable mortgage practices coming to light, a new lawsuit claims that 13 banks and mortgage companies -- including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan and PNC Bank -- charged hidden, illegal fees to military veterans trying to refinance their homes.

The lenders, unable to charge certain fees under U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs rules, simply increased another set of fees without making it clear to veterans that they were doing so, the suit alleges. The result was hundreds of thousands of cases where veterans trying to refinance their homes ended up paying between $300 and $1,000 more than they were supposed to, according to the suit.

The veterans' loans are some of many of misleading or fraudulent loans that banks made during the housing bubble that are only recently coming to light. Nearly 30,000 such cases were uncovered this past spring alone, a majority of them involving real estate deals made in 2007 or before.

Many of the banks named in the new hidden-fees suit -- which was filed in 2006, but whose details were public this week -- have been accused in the past of taking advantage of military servicemembers...


Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 07:56 PM
Response to Original message
72. Protest Planet: How a Neoliberal Shell Game Created an Age of Activism

...Whether in Egypt or the United States, young rebels are reacting to a single stunning worldwide development: the extreme concentration of wealth in a few hands thanks to neoliberal policies of deregulation and union busting. They have taken to the streets, parks, plazas, and squares to protest against the resulting corruption, the way politicians can be bought and sold, and the impunity of the white-collar criminals who have run riot in societies everywhere. They are objecting to high rates of unemployment, reduced social services, blighted futures, and above all the substitution of the market for all other values as the matrix of human ethics and life.

Pasha the Tiger

In the glorious thirty years after World War II, North America and Western Europe achieved remarkable rates of economic growth and relatively low levels of inequality for capitalist societies, while instituting a broad range of benefits for workers, students, and retirees. From roughly 1980 on, however, the neoliberal movement, rooted in the laissez-faire economic theories of Milton Friedman, launched what became a full-scale assault on workers power and an attempt, often remarkably successful, to eviscerate the social welfare state.

Neoliberals chanted the mantra that everyone would benefit if the public sector were privatized, businesses deregulated, and market mechanisms allowed to distribute wealth. But as economist David Harvey argues, from the beginning it was a doctrine that primarily benefited the wealthy, its adoption allowing the top 1% in any neoliberal society to capture a disproportionate share of whatever wealth was generated.

In the global South, countries that gained their independence from European colonialism after World War II tended to create large public sectors as part of the process of industrialization. Often, living standards improved as a result, but by the 1970s, such developing economies were generally experiencing a leveling-off of growth. This happened just as neoliberalism became ascendant in Washington, Paris, and London as well as in Bretton Woods institutions like the International Monetary Fund. This Washington consensus meant that the urge to impose privatization on stagnating, nepotistic postcolonial states would become the order of the day...

Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:00 PM
Response to Reply #72
73. Why Income Inequality Suddenly Matters By David Sirota

A few weeks ago, as the Occupy Wall Street protests were first spreading, something amazing happened: For 10 whole seconds, the local reporter on my TV screen actually talked about the realities of the recession. He even uttered the phrase economic inequality.

My guess is that youve seen something similar on your local affiliateand thats no minor event. When even the most local of television journalists are compelled to acknowledge this crushing emergency in a country whose media aggressively promotes American Dream agitprop, it means the Occupy protesters have scored a monumental victory. You can almost imagine a Wall Street CEO turning to an aide and muttering a slightly altered riff off LBJ: If weve lost Ron Burgundy, weve lost Middle America.

In response to this stunning turn of events, conservative politicians are retreating to non sequiturs. They seem to think that if they shout the phrase class warfare enough, the nation will go back to not caring about the divide between the rich and poor.

But something has changed....U.S. family income mobility has decreased over the 1969-2006 time span, and especially since the 1980s, notes the Fed paper, adding that a familys position at (the) end of (the) 2000s was ... more correlated with its start position than was the case 20 years earlier. Of course, some class mobility still exists. The trouble is that its primarily of the downward kind. As the Pew Charitable Trusts reports, roughly a third of those who grew up in the middle class have now fallen below that station in adulthood...
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:03 PM
Response to Reply #73
74. Finally, a Constitutional Amendment for the 99% By Greg Colvin

Today, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) offered the strongest constitutional amendment introduced in either House of Congress so far to rectify the imbalance of power between the corporations and the people in our democracy.

As the struggle in the streets intensifies, and Occupy Wall Street refuses to remain silent, its good to know there are champions in Congress who have stepped up to the challenge of amending the US Constitution. Its called OCCUPIED: Outlawing Corporate Cash Undermining the Public Interest in our Elections and Democracy, here.

The Supreme Court, in the 5-4 Citizens United decision of January 2010, declared that corporations have free speech rights like human beings and invalidated the ban on corporate election spending that Congress had enacted. Since then, a grassroots movement has emerged to generate popular support for a constitutional amendment to reverse that decision, including months of work by Move to Amend, Free Speech For People, Public Citizen, People For The American Way, Common Cause, and the Center for Media and Democracy.

Rep. Deutchs amendment is a blend of the best ideas.

1. The rights protected by the Constitution belong to human beings (natural persons).
2. Constitutional rights do not extend to for-profit corporations or other business entities, nor do they extend to chambers of commerce that promote business interests.
3. The constitutional rights of other non-profit corporations, such as charities, churches, schools, hospitals, clubs, unions, and environmental groups remain in place.
4. Immediately upon adoption, this amendment would prohibit business corporations and their associations from using money or other resources to influence voting on candidates or ballot measures anywhere in Americaat the federal, state, and local levels.
5. Counteracting the 2010 Citizens United case and the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo case, Congress and the states would once again have the authority to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures, by any group or person.
6. This would empower Congress and the states to control election spending by CEOs and other wealthy individuals, including those rich enough to pay for their own campaigns.

Comparing the OCCUPIED amendment to some of the others proposed: SEE LINK
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:06 PM
Response to Original message
75. "Argentina, The 'Obedient' Victim" An Interview with Uruguayan Writer Eduardo Galeano

Montevideo, Uruguay, 22nd of January, 2002

"The lesson for the world is, not to buy the IMF discourse, which leads to extermination." -- Galeano.

Interviewer: Argentina did everything the IMF ordered, and it's a broken country -- what's the lesson to learn for Mexico?

Eduardo Galeano: It's not only a lesson for Mexico but for the whole world, but in general I'd say that people just shouldn't believe the story: one has to be a bit more careful; the discourse of power doesn't reveal, but conceals or disguises the truth. The lesson from Argentina is not to follow this (neoliberal) discourse that leads to extermination! And not only has it lead to the destruction of national economies, but it also has horrifying consequences beyond economics. This neo-liberal IMF discourse doesn't only reflect in massive poverty but also produces an offensive concentration of wealth among the few. It is like a slap on the face, a daily insult -- this ostentatious power of the few in the midst of the helplessness of the many.

Interviewer: What are the non-economic consequences?

Galeano: First, the discreding of the idea of "democracy". Now "democracy" is identified with corruption, with inefficiency, with injustice. This is the worst thing that could happen to the notion of "democracy". Remember that democracy means "power of the people", and this word has been humiliated to the most extreme extent, and it has turned into the antonym of justice. This is felt by many, so many people, especially the young people. Democracy is a cave of thieves that has no use at all and doesn't do anything but hurt the poor.
This is the vision of democracy for an enormous number of people, at least in the Latin-American countries. And this is the worst cultural consequence, because there exists a democratic culture that allows the exercise of democracy to be something more than just a shadow puppets' theatre on the wall.

Interviewer: The corruption of democracy becomes a breeding ground for fascism....

Galeano: Moreover, tremendous damage has been done to the "culture of solidarity" during the years of neoliberalism in Argentina. Ties of social solidarity have cultural expressions that are born in connection with others. In a neoliberal system that promotes and practises egoism and selfishness, the culture of solidarity is badly injured. The predominating culture today is every man for himself and on his own. And that really hurts me very much. I tell you something that makes me sad about the current cultural reality and it is reflected in a radical change of language: there is a fucked-up re-interpretation of the dictionary.

Interviewer: Argentina and Uruguay are basically formed by nostalgic European immigrants -- with a deep melancholia prevailing for Europe.

Galeano: Yes -- those are countries with an overwhelming immigrant population, and there it's interesting to note that there is a universal perplexity in face of the enormity of the crisis like the one Argentina is suffering -- which is truly a tragedy. Universal perplexity because they don't understood how this could happen in a white country, well-nourished, without problems concerning population explosion. But the fact itself questions the theories of anthropologists, sociologists, politologists and other "ists" who identify, for example, underdevelopment and poverty with social explosions.... Things, they say, that happen in the "darker" regions of the planet, the regions that are doomed in advance to suffer poverty because of their skin colour, due to "blood-mixing" that didn't have good results. But against these racist interpretations of that so-called human misfortune, episodes like the one in Argentina happen, and they can't explain how this could happen.

Interviewer: But Argentina has everything -- water, petrol, wheat, meat, a giant and empty territory. Some sectors of the left think it could save itself on its own.

Galeano: This is impractical. Nobody can save themselves on their own. The only way out for the Latin American countries not to lose everything or to recover part of what has been lost, is to be able to unite. In Latin America the presidents gather but they don?t unite; they have those summits, exchange discourses, pose for the photos, but they are unable to unite in order to create a united front against the international banking cabal that is ruling us, against the usury of external debt that is strangling us, against the collapse of the prices of everything we sell. If the presidents unite, maybe something could be done in order to escape this fate of universal imposition of misfortune. And there you have another contribution to the new dictionary.

Interviewer: Which?

Galeano: The new name of the financial dictatorship is "International Community". Anything you do to defend the little bit you have left of sovereignty is an attack against "the international community", not a legitimate act of defence against the usury practiced by the bankers that rule the world. The more you pay to these banks, the more you owe. For that reason, a country like Argentina is dismantling everything, the economy, the state, the collective identity of the people who don't know who they are anymore, what they are there for, where they come from and where they are going. There is a spiritual emptiness that systematically corresponds to the material emptying of a country looted up to its spiderwebs.

Interviewer: Why didn't what happened in Argentina happen in Uruguay?

Galeano: There are a few significant differences between Uruguay and Argentina with respect to what could be an image of things in common. A shared history that brakes with the disintegration of the colonial space that once was the estuary of Ro de la Plata. They are differences with origins in the early reforms that took place in the times of Jos Battle Ordez, a man with an extraordinary impulse for change and a precursor for his times (from 1904 onwards). He was a visionary who put Uruguay into the avant-garde of the world in many aspects. Now this is hard to imagine, as we are in the rearguard now, but this country was the successful laboratory of social, political, economic and cultural transformations which now seems like shadows in the distance. For example, nationalisation of public services and afterwards giving the state the role of an industrial engine.

Interviewer: What kind of reforms are you talking about?

Galeano: Like a very early Divorce Law in 1908. My grandmother, for example, was divorced. And fundamental social reforms like free and obligatory education, including physical exercise. Uruguay got filled with sports grounds, which explains the miracle of us becoming world champions in football before the existence of the Jules Rimet (World) Cup, in the Olympic Games of 1924, 1928 and after in the first World Championship in 1930, which is worth mentioning for a country as small as Uruguay that has less inhabitants than New Jersey. But that was possible because the State did actually represent the people on the whole and it wasn?t just a machine, invented by a few in order to mash the others.

I think somehow this was behind the plebiscite of a few years ago. I don't remember the date, but in the middle of the high euphoria for privatisation in Latin America, when everything up to the rocks were being sold, a plebiscite took place herein Uruguay and 73 percent of the population voted against privatisation. So public monopolies remain public, telephone, electricity, everything to do with state activity. People here didn't believe that privatisation would free the country from external debts, which was wise because in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, where everything got privatised, there wasn't just free competition but also private monopoly, and external debt multiplied in the middle of an avalanche of capital coming from the sale of public services and resources. This plebiscite saved us from that experience.

Interviewer: How would you describe the situation in your country?

Galeano: Uruguay is having a hard time. Globalisation has beaten us down a lot, Industry is destroyed; there is not much left of the Uruguay I grew and formed in, but in spite of all that the country still has some possible defences left, which Argentina hasn't -- for the simple reason that Argentina lost its economy; there is no control of the basic economic resources. Sovereignty is reduced to a hymn, a flag.

Interviewer: You said that the tragedy of Argentina, a white, educated and well-fed society, is today the example of what can happen to every educated and well-fed society.

Galeano: What happened in Argentina made the seams of the schemes explode in which uniform thinking tries to enclose reality. (The US historian Arnold J. Toynbee warns that societies in decline have a tendency towards uniformity and societies in rise to diversity. When a society starts to decline, fall, get silent, the same words are always repeated; it suffers a crisis of ideas which is manifested in repetition.

Interviewer: It stops thinking its own ideas, doesn't it?

Galeano: Regarding the 11th of September, I've read the most colossal nonsense. For example, the impossibility for US intelligence to act in Afghanistan because they don't have personnel "specialised in the Arabic language", but in Afghanistan they don't speak Arabic, but Pashtun and other languages. Or like so many times I have heard people talk about the "Arabic danger" and as an example they mentioned Iran, but Iran is not Arabic either, it's Persian. Or when people talk about the "Arabic religion", while the Arabs are actually a minority within Islam, and the vast majority of the world population that believe in Mohammed's message is not Arabic. I'm mentioning these as examples of the nonsense that is repeated every day until it becomes an unquestionable truth.

Think of what just happened at a university in Boston. One of the teachers wrote me to tell me that he took an article of mine from La Jornada called "The Theatre of Good and Bad" about the 11th of September. He put it on the Internet in order to distribute it among the other teachers of his college, but one of them denounced him to the directors, who accused him of putting "national security" in danger. Then the case passed on to the State authorities who decided that this article of mine could possibly contain subliminal coded messages, coded terrorist instructions. So this teacher was forced to contact lawyers and has turned into a victim of prosecution, which reminds us of the McCarthy Era.

Interviewer: So you must be on the Pentagon's Black List, then.

Galeano: Well, I've got the thick skin of an old elephant, but think of the situation of people like the teacher in Boston. There is a repressive climate being created in the world in order to throw everything that could be a construed as dissidence or doubt into the flames. For this reason it's getting more and more obvious that something has to be invented, some way out, because we are, in all respects, crashing into a wall. And to wait for a miracle is just not possible. We have to stand up against this imposition of misfortune as our destiny and try to imagine something different, beginning from the few certainties we still have left.

(Translation by Polo)
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:10 PM
Response to Original message
76. ARGENTINA:Worker-owned cooperatives and self-management; Effects on wealth distribution
Edited on Sat Nov-19-11 08:16 PM by Demeter

Although GDP has grown consistently and quickly since 2003, it was only in late 2004 that it reached the levels of 1998 (the last year before the recession). Other macroeconomic indicators have followed suit. A study by Equis, an independent counseling organization, found out that two measures of economic inequality, the Gini coefficient and the wealth gap between the 10% poorest and the 10% richest among the population, grew continuously since 2001, and decreased for the first time in March 2005.

Poverty in Argentina

Date of_________Extreme___Under poverty line

May 2001________11.6%___35.9%
October 2001____13.6%___38.3%
May 2002________24.8%___53.0%
October 2002____27.5%___57.5%
May 2003________26.3%___54.7%
2nd sem 2003____20.5%___47.8%
1st sem 2004____17.0%___44.3%
2nd sem 2004____15.0%___40.2%
1st sem 2005____13.6%___38.5%
2nd sem 2005____12.2%___33.8%
1st sem 2006____11.2%___31.4%
2nd sem 2006_____8.7%___26.4%
2nd sem 2007_____5.9%___20.6%
1st sem 2008_____5.1%___17.8%
2nd sem 2008_____4.4%___15.3%

The table ABOVE shows statistics of poverty in Argentina, in percent of the population. The first column shows the date of the measurement (note that the method and time changed in 2003; poverty is now measured each semester). Extreme poverty is here defined as not having enough money to eat properly. The poverty line is set higher: it is the minimum income needed for basic needs including food, clothing, shelter, and studies.

Similar statistics are available from the World Bank.

When the default was declared in 2002, foreign investment fled the country, and capital flow towards Argentina ceased almost completely. The Argentine government met severe challenges trying to refinance the debt. The state had no spare money at the time, and the central bank's foreign currency reserves were almost depleted.

The Argentine government kept a firm stance, and finally got a deal in 2005 by which 76% of the defaulted bonds were exchanged by others, of a much lower nominal value (2535% of the original) and at longer terms. In 2008, President Cristina Fernndez de Kirchner announced she was studying a reopening of the 2005 swap to gain adhesion from the remaining 24% of the so-called "holdouts", and thereby fully exit the default with private investors.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:18 PM
Response to Reply #76
77. Criticism of the IMF
The International Monetary Fund suffered no discounts in its part of the Argentine debt. Some payments were refinanced or postponed on agreement. However, the authorities of the IMF at times expressed harsh criticism of the discounts and actively lobbied for the private creditors.

In a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 2004, President Kirchner said that "An urgent, tough, and structural redesign of the International Monetary Fund is needed, to prevent crises and help in providing solutions". Implicitly referencing the fact that the intent of the original Bretton Woods system was to encourage economic development, Kirchner warned that the IMF today must "change that direction, which took it from being a lender for development to a creditor demanding privileges".

During the weekend of October 12, 2004, at the annual meeting of the IMF/World Bank, leaders of the IMF, the European Union, the Group of Seven industrialised nations, and the Institute of International Finance (IIF), warned President Kirchner that Argentina had to come to an immediate debt-restructuring agreement with the speculative "vulture funds", increase its primary budget surplus to pay more debt, and impose "structural reforms" to prove to the world financial community that it deserved loans and investment.

In 2005, as a large and consistently growing fiscal surplus made it possible, Argentina shifted to a policy of "disindebtment" towards the IMF: paying the IMF in schedule, with no negotiation whenever possible, with the intention of gaining independence from it. On December 15, 2005, following a similar action by Brazil, President Kirchner suddenly announced that Argentina would pay the whole debt to the IMF. The debt payments, totaling 9.810 billion USD, were previously scheduled as installments until 2008. Argentina paid it with the central bank's foreign currency reserves.

In a June 2006 report, a group of independent experts hired by the IMF to revise the work of its Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) stated that the assessment of the Argentine case suffered from informative manipulation and lack of collaboration on the part of the IMF; the IEO is claimed to have unduly softened its conclusions to avoid criticizing the IMF's board of directors.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-19-11 08:19 PM
Response to Reply #77
78. Madonna - Evita - 17 You Must Love Me (1996)
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Prometheus Bound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 01:44 AM
Response to Original message
79. JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs Sued for Alleged MF Global Misstatements
JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs Sued for Alleged MF Global Misstatements
November 19, 2011, 2:55 PM EST

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. units were sued by two pension funds over claims they made misleading statements about the exposure of MF Global Holdings Ltd. securities to European sovereign debt.

As a result of the misstatements, MF Globals stock traded at artificially inflated prices, the funds said in the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan. While the extent of MF Globals exposure to European sovereign debt was concealed, the defendants were able to raise some $900 million in the offerings.

MF Global Holdings, which was run by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. co-chief executive officer Jon Corzine, filed for bankruptcy Oct. 31 after making bets on sovereign debt and getting margin calls. The New York-based company listed debt of $39.7 billion and assets of $41 billion in Chapter 11 papers. The broker-dealer is being liquidated separately.

Other companies named as defendants in the complaint were Bank of America Corp.s Merrill Lynch unit, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., RBS Securities Inc. and Jefferies & Co. Corzine and MF Global officers were also named as defendants.

The complaint was filed by IBEW Local 90 Pension Fund and the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local #562 Pension Fund. The funds seek to represent other shareholders in a class-action, or group suit.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 11:26 AM
Response to Reply #79
81. And so, It Begins
Will Eric Holder get out of his padded leather chair and prosecute someone?

Will Congress actually pass some of these proposed laws, regulations and amendments to benefit the People?

Will Europe regain some independence from the speculators and banksters?

I don't have any answers, only hopes.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 11:31 AM
Response to Reply #79
82. Another MF Global / Goldman Puzzle Piece: Rule 606: Order Flow By Nomi Prins

As we await the results of a probe into MF Global and its missing clients funds that will no doubt be conducted with the same tactical zeal with which authorities across the country arrested over 4000 Occupy Wall Street protestors its interesting to note another component of the MF Global - Goldman Relationship. Beyond the past-leadership of Goldman Sachs by former MF Global head, Jon Corzine, and the fact that he was brought to the helm by former Goldman buddy, Christopher Flowers, there was also a nice little execution business-sharing going on between the firms. An examination of those transactions, each less than $200,000, could be illuminating.

Under Rule 606 (formerly SEC Rule 11Ac1-6), as part of its strategy to rely on the companies it is supposed to be regulating to reveal whatever part of their hand they want to, the SEC requires a quarterly report from brokerage firms on their order-routing services. Specifically, the report covers non-directed orders, or ones that customers havent specifically requested go through a particular vendor for execution. The report has four sections: one each for securities listed on the New York Stock Exchange, The Nasdaq Stock Market, the American Stock Exchange and 'Other' exchange-listed options, and indicates the venues most often selected. So, according to MFG's third quarter non-directed routing report, guess what vendor showed up prominently? Yep - Goldman Sachs Execution and Clearing LP...Of course, not all information must be disclosed, and, as MFG notes in its report statistics capture only a portion of MFG order flow and do not create a reliable basis on which to assess whether MFG or any other trading venue has satisfied its duty of best execution. But still...

  • On the NYSE (the body taken public by former Goldman Sachs co-President, John Thain), the order flow of non-directed customer orders less than $200,000 (or 69.1% of total orders) mostly went through Goldman Sachs Execution and Clearing LP. (SGMA) The entity executed 46.4% of total non-directed orders including 58.4% of limit and 37% of other orders. The rest of the NYSE orders went through the Nasdaq, Knight Direct and NYSE ARCA.

  • On the Amex, non-directed orders of $200,000 or less comprised 23.24% of all orders, of which 31% went through Goldman, including 29.5% limit and 32.2% other orders.

  • Of the orders that went thought the Nasdaq, 94.8% were under $200,000. Of those, 70.4% limit and 40.3% other, went directly through the Nasdaq. Goldman executed 12.1% of the limit, and 8.1% of the other orders.

The reports, as per the SEC being useless, dont include the trade volume represented by these percentages, yet, for the most part, when MF Global didnt execute directly its non-directed client orders through an exchange, it used Goldman. There may be some interesting and co-mingled 'missing' transactions that slipped in there. Just saying.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 11:56 AM
Response to Original message
I know we went rather heavy into the Occupy America/Wall Street/the World--but I don't think this was a waste of anybody's time. It is THE cutting edge of our world for the foreseeable future.

We have finally seen the hope and change we wanted...and we the 99% are the ones doing it--not Congress, not Obama, not the courts or the regulators or the Justice Department. Those lazy parasites are all gasping and running to keep up, or to get away!

And we took a look at Argentina...I don't think we even scraped the surface of that great nation and its political and economic travails. It will take a lot more study and comparison of sources to get a fix on Argentina. Perhaps we can come back later.

Last, we looked at Eva Peron--larger than life, iconic, beautiful. What can we know about her? She rose like a rocket, burst upon the world, tragically died a horrible death due to cervical cancer, had her remains embalmed by her widower, then the body stolen for 17 years.

And she was mourned...mourned inconsolably by a nation that might otherwise have totally ignored her. That's got to mean something.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 12:03 PM
Response to Reply #84
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
kickysnana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 03:47 PM
Response to Reply #84
86. Article today bout DHS and Portland OWS actions
I read a disturbing article about a shooting of a long time resident in an apartment in an inner suburb by officers responding to a muffled 911 call. Wife did not call, knew nothing about the call and heard the shots before she knew there was anything going on. Neighbor said he heard a commotion and shots and opened his door to see the officer handcuffing " a dead man". (Only in the suburbs do you open your door when you hear gunshots.)

The odd part for me is what happened next. They evacuated the whole apartment building (smaller stand a lone variety from the last century) and put everyone on a bus and refused to let them call for anyone to come get them for 7 1/2 hours (incommunicado?). Those on the same floor were taken to a Red Cross facility until later the next morning. One person said he was "held hostage."

The man had been taken every year or so for a short psych hold but never arrested. Ex military who saw no action. Worked and had a teenage daughter. The neighbor said the dead man got along with everyone, helped out but would get upset from time to time.

I told my Aunt if we hear gunshots we are going to pretend we are not home because I do not want to spend a night on a bus because the cops are paranoid jerks.
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-20-11 09:59 PM
Response to Reply #86
87. Honest to god, we've got to turn this country around
Hope you all have a safe and uneventful Thanksgiving!
Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Sun Jan 21st 2018, 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]

Home » Discuss » Editorials & Other Articles Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators

Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC