Protest (American, definitely not a verb): Wait for UFPJ or ANSWER to stage a parade (I mean, demonstration) on a weekend afternoon so no one misses work or school or in any way disrupts the flow of commerce. Don’t make a sign; the organizers will make one for you. March in an orderly fashion, be polite to the occupying army (I mean, cops), and be sure to stay in designated free speech zones. Blame the Republicans. Wear costumes. Make puppets. Exclude anarchists. Hold a candlelight vigil. Sign a petition. Chant. Vote for a Democrat and hope for change. Need I continue?
Timothy Geithner refuses to take underwater banks into receivership and resolve them, but has no problem transforming the FDIC into a hedge fund. Go figure? Here’s what everyone needs to know: The US government (you) will provide up to 94 percent of the financing (low interest, of course) for dodgy mortgage-backed assets that no one in their right mind would ever buy so that wealthy and politically-connected banksters can scrub up to $1 trillion of red ink from their balance sheets. Ugh!
The so-called “private partners” in this confidence scam, will get non recourse loans, which means that if the plan backfires and they lose their skimpy 6 percent investment they can call it quits and leave the taxpayer holding the bag. ($1 trillion in potential losses!) Here’s how Paul Krugman sums it up:
“The Geithner scheme would offer a one-way bet: if asset values go up, the investors profit, but if they go down, the investors can walk away from their debt. This isn’t really about letting markets work. It’s just an indirect, disguised way to subsidize purchases of bad assets.”
“Markets”? Who said anything about markets? This is corporate welfare, pure and simple.
Hey, I’m just working off the front page of Thursday’s New York Times online. “House Passes Heavy Tax on Bonuses at Rescued Firms,” like those animals need it instead of a jail cell. “Fed’s Move Still Shaking Up Markets” — I would think so, a trillion in government bonds bought with freshly printed money, driving the bonds price up and the dollar down and the Dow down 85 points in spite of it all. Not to mention, “New Jobless Claims Fall More Than Expected.” Nice. And the Op-Ed: “A Prison of Words — Are President Obama’s new detainee policies really different from those of his predecessor?” Well, no, not really, not so far. It would seem we put a new picture in the presidential frame, but the frame’s the same. Is that the game?
In fact, it seems the more things are said to change the more they stay the same: inflation, deflation, unemployment, rendition of detainees, torturer redux, Blackwater re-upped by the Pentagon despite Iraq saying no dice. And Chris Bollyn, the Internet writer living in exile for fear of his life, writes that the Bernie Madoff loot was largely money-laundered by dirty New York banks to Israel over the past 10 to 20 years. No peace for the weary, folks.
by Rodrigue Tremblay
Thursday, March 26, 2009
“Deficits in the, let’s say, 5 percent of GDP range would lead to rising debt-to-GDP ratios that would ultimately not be sustainable.” — Peter Orszag, Obama White House budget chief
“The [US] financial system is facing possible total losses of $7 trillion. …With the banks ‘effectively insolvent’, we’ve concluded that the only viable solution is nationalization.” — Matthew Richardson and Nouriel Roubini, American economists
“China is worried that the U.S. may solve its problems by printing money, which will stoke inflation.” — Zhao Qingming, Chinese financial analyst
“Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce.” — James A. Garfield, (1831-1881) 20th President of the United States
After ten years of wholesale financial deregulation, bad policies and unsound banking practices, and facing a worsening recession, over the last year and a half the U.S. government has been pumping trillions of dollars in order to deleverage and recapitalize banks that were on the brink of insolvency. But the banking crisis is of such a magnitude, and the damage done to the financial system so widespread, that each pumping of money into the system has never seemed to be enough. This is because numerous American financial institutions, and among the largest, have suffered multibillion-dollar losses, not only with subprime mortgages, but especially with large amounts of derivative products that have turned sour. Not the least of these are the famous gambling products called credit default swaps, (CDS), [which the Bank of International Settlements is reporting to be worth some $57 trillion.
For its part, ever since the collapse of the investment bank Bear Stearns on March 15, 2008, the Fed has pumped trillions of dollars, under various forms, into sick financial institutions in order to keep them afloat, or in order to merge them with other entities.
Update: 3.27.09 added video link; see below
Crossposted with permission from The Free Press.
by Harvey Wasserman
The Free Press
March 24, 2009
People died—and are still dying—at Three Mile Island.
As the thirtieth anniversary of America’s most infamous industrial accident approaches, we mourn the deaths that accompanied the biggest string of lies ever told in US industrial history.
As news of the accident poured into the global media, the public was assured there were no radiation releases.
Whether he deserves it or not, Timothy Geithner has become the poster boy for everything that’s wrong with the government’s scatterbrain financial rescue plan. Geithner was in the wheelhouse at the New York Fed when Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros defaulted, and he played a central role in the $165 million AIG bonus scandal which ignited a populist firestorm across the country. Now everything even remotely connected to the bank bailout has become a source of fist-clinching rage. The mood of the country has darkened from the steady downpour of bad economic news, the sharp decline in housing prices and the steep rise in unemployment. People are angry at the government, the banks and Wall Street. Their nerves are frayed and their patience is stretched to the limit.
It is in this atmosphere of simmering public fury that Geithner will announce the details of his long-awaited plan for removing up to $1 trillion of toxic assets from the balance sheets of some of the country’s biggest banks. Information about Geithner’s “Public-Private Partnership” and the so called Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) has been spotty so far, but enough is known about the plan to predict that it will likely be the noose into which Geithner thrusts his scrawny neck bringing his dismal career at Treasury to a end. The country will not endure another pretentious-sounding banker-friendly flim flam, which is precisely what Geithner has in mind.
Continuing this series, this column focuses on what was the centerpiece of the Bush/Cheney (or Presidency: the destruction of our treasured Constitutional Democracy that (for the most part) has served our nation so well for the 218 years of its existence.
To start, let’s review the seeming conundrum between this worst, while at the same time most successful, President ever. An item on AOL News for June 13, 2007 was headlined: “Bush: Does He Have Any Clout Left?” Gosh. His poll numbers were in the tank and going lower. The Congress was Democratic (by the thickness of the hair on Joe Lieberman’s head which was not much, and no one could figure out what was going on inside Joe Lieberman’s head anyway until the McCain campaign, but the Democrats had majorities in both Houses). By a fairly large margin the public disapproved of his major foreign policy initiative, the War on Iraq. Republican candidates, for the Presidency, the Senate, and the House were beginning to desert him personally, while not so much on policy, except, for some, on the distractive issue of immigration.
In decaying societies, politics become theater. The elite, who have hollowed out the democratic system to serve the corporate state, rule through image and presentation. They express indignation at AIG bonuses and empathy with a working class they have spent the last few decades disenfranchising, and make promises to desperate families that they know will never be fulfilled. Once the spotlights go on they read their lines with appropriate emotion. Once the lights go off, they make sure Goldman Sachs and a host of other large corporations have the hundreds of billions of dollars in losses they incurred playing casino capitalism repaid with taxpayer money.