Dead On Arrival: Financial Reform Fails

By Simon Johnson

The House-Senate reconciliation process is still underway and some details will still change. But the broad contours of “financial reform” are already completely clear; there are no last minute miracles at this level of politics.  The new consumer protection agency for financial products is a good idea and worth supporting – assuming someone sensible is appointed by the president to run it.  Yet, at the end of the day, essentially nothing in the entire legislation will reduce the potential for massive system risk as we head into the next credit cycle.

Go, for example, through the summary of “comprehensive financial regulatory reform bills” in President Obama’s letter to the G20 last week

The president argues for more capital in banking – and this is a fine goal, particularly as the Europeans continue to drag their feet on this issue.  But how much capital does his Treasury team think is “enough”?  Most indications are that they will seek tier one capital requirements in the range of 10-12 percent – which is what Lehman had right before it failed.  How would that help?

“Stronger oversight of derivatives” is also on the president’s international agenda but this cannot be taken seriously, given how little Treasury and the White House have pushed for tighter control of derivatives in the US legislation.  If Senator Lincoln has made any progress at all – and we shall see where her initiative ends up – it has been without the full cooperation of the administration.  (The WSJ today has a more positive interpretation, but even in this narrative you have to ask – where was the administration on this issue in the nine months of intense debate and hard work prior to April?  Have they really woken up so recently to the dangers here?)

“More transparency and disclosure” sounds fine but this is just empty rhetoric.  Where is the application – or strengthening if necessary – of anti-trust tools so that concentrated market share in over-the-counter derivatives can be confronted.  The White House is making something of a show from Jamie Dimon falling out of favor, but all the points of substance that matter, Dimon’s JP Morgan Chase has won.  The Securities and Exchange Commission is beginning to push in the right direction, but the reconciliation conference looks likely to deny them the self-funding – CFTC and FDIC, for example, collect fees from the industry – that could help build as a regulator.  At the same time, the conference legislation would send a large number of important questions to the SEC “for further study”.  None of this makes any sense – unless the goal is to block real reform.

The president also asks for a “more effective framework for winding down large global firms” but his experts know this is politically impossible.  The G20 (and other) countries will not agree to such a cross-border resolution mechanism – and this was an important reason why Senators Sherrod Brown and Ted Kaufman argued so strongly that big banks had to become smaller (and be limited in how much they could borrow).  Now administration officials brag to the press, on the record, about how they killed the Brown-Kaufman amendment.  These people – in the White House and around the Treasury – simply cannot be taken seriously.

And as for “principles for the financial sector to make a fair and substantial contribution towards paying for any burdens”, this is a sad joke.  This is not an oil spill, Mr. President.  This is the worst recession since World War II, a 40 percentage points increase in government debt (attempting to prevent a Second Great Depression), loss of at least 8 million jobs in the United States, and a painfully slow recovery (in terms of unemployment) – not to mention all the collateral damage in so many parts of the world, including Europe.  Could someone in the White House at least come to terms with this issue and provide the president with a sensible and clear text?  Honestly, as staff work, this is embarrassing.

There is great deference to power in the United States, and perhaps that is appropriate.  But those now calling the shots should remember that they will not be in power for ever and – at some point in the not too distant future – there will be a more balanced assessment of their legacies.

Simply claiming that the president is “tough” on big banks simply will not wash.  There are too many facts, too much accumulated evidence, pointing exactly the other way.  The president signed off on the most generous and least conditional bailout in world financial history.  This is now widely understood.  The administration has scrambled to create some political cover in terms of “reform” – but the lack of substance here is already clear to people who follow it closely and public perceptions will shift quickly.

The financial crisis of fall 2008 revealed serious dangers have developed in the heart of the world’s financial system.  The Bush-Obama bailouts of 2008-09 confirmed that our biggest banks are “too big to fail” and the left, center, and right can agree with Gene Fama when he says: “too big to fail” is perverting activities and incentives.

This is not a leftist message, although you hear people on the left make the point.  But people on the right also increasingly understand what is going on – there is excessive and abusive power at the heart of our financial system that completely distorts markets (and really amounts to a hidden, unfair and dangerous taxpayer subsidy). 

This administration and this Congress had ample opportunity to confront this problem and at least wrestle hard with it.  Some senators and representatives worked long and hard on precisely this issue.  But the White House punted, repeatedly, and elected instead for a veneer of superficial tweaking.   Welcome to the next global credit cycle – with too big to fail banks at center stage.

226 thoughts on “Dead On Arrival: Financial Reform Fails

  1. It was a done deal when Obama hired Wall Street lackeys Geithner and Summers. This will likely be Obama’s biggest failure when his legacy is written, bigger than the BP spill, as he had control over this. America really has become a corporatocracy. You would think that the 2008 crash might have changed things, but in fact it has entrenched the rot at the heart of the system. So now we need something really bad to happen if the US is to be shocked into real change. And that is a terrifying thought.

  2. Two thoughts and two books:

    First, isn’t the whole concept of contemporary financial market regulation the perfect example of what was said in the classic ‘The Rise and Decline of Nations’ by Mancur Olson? You have a very well represented rich and powerful smaller group (the banks) pitted against an under-represented relatively poorer larger group (the public). Obviously the former has everything to win in a status quo situation.

    Second, isn’t the present media situation brilliantly described by another classic, ‘Manufacturing Consent’ by Herman and Chomsky? A media landscape full of opinions, all perfectly drowning out any constructive debate, all there to drill in the inevitable outcome, i.e., keeping the powerful forces powerful.

  3. For the little guy Obama is a failed President. Evo Morales of Bolivia put it best: “Obama is trapped by capitalism and the structure of imperialism. There is little difference between Bush and Obama!”

  4. OK, this is as it is. (And as I foresaw, nearly a year ago.) It looks very much like The Big Zero is going to be followed by The Decade of More Nothing or perhaps The Big Minus Sign. So what do we do now?

  5. Do we need to spend this entire decade on peace-keeping, because austerity is going to lead to international conflicts, and because war is an effective distraction from pain at home?

    We corvids will eat well, either way.

  6. I think a lot could be achieved if people would stop the classic 19th century -ism name calling. I guess it worked wonders impressing the girls in the econ 101 class room, but in the real world it doesn’t get people very far.

    To constantly pigeonhole the political discourse in a black and white manner is one sure way to get nowhere very fast.

  7. Mr. Johnson seems most adept at pointing fingers at the President but forgets till the last paragraph that it is congress who writes the legislation and we only have half a congress working for the people! The other half are working for corporations or simply to obstruct any and all progress.

    I do feel that Geithner and summers have been foot dragging as to supporting strong reform in the derivitives markets but the backup seems to be Volcker who steadily undermines thier efforts. Add to that the screechung of the public to congress- Dems- because repubs are not listening –and we get something less than what we might want but more than we have after the repael by repub Congress and bclinton of Glass Stegeall.

    Interesting that each pundit can write extensively on the topic of their greatess zeal but wonder if they could keep all the balls in the air–both domesticallly and internationally??? Highly unlikely–critical thinking on one topic is not difficult if well educated but 40 to a hundred!..That is laughable to entertain –plough on!

  8. Surprised that you sounded surprised of such a outcome. Short of a revolution, nothing real will change at all.

  9. Love how this headline misleads. It’s calling for MORE regulation in the article, dummies. The people on the right increasingly know
    what’s going on? Not in the USA. Corporations like BP are to be protected and apologies are made. He has not done enough to regulate, but that won’t come across-not sure what is being conveyed here.

  10. There is about as much “reform” in this financial reform package as there was in the health care “reform” package, ZERO!

    I think what bugs me the most about this rhetoric is to the extent that literally MILLIONS of people were and are desperately counting on this “REFORM” being actually reforming something. Instead we receive all the talk with none of the walk.

    And sadly, at the end of the day, what really puts food on the table, medicine in the cabinet and hope in peoples lives, is the existence of REFORM. Yet this administration seems only interested in the appearance of reform, talk of reform and repeating the word “REFORM”.

    What the people of this nation need is government reform, politician reform, special interest reform. What we need is far less talk of reform, and some actual reform.

  11. The spill isnt solved yet. Dont you think we should take that first.We still have major problems with preventing the Ocean from becoming a dead zone.We still have to deal with Methane gas and its effects.Especially Major hurricanes striking the Gulf and evacuations…

  12. Precisely. The correct narrative should be that substantial and lasting reform is impossible because of the U.S. Senate, Republicans, and, large New York State and Blue Dog Democrats.

  13. Thanks for the explainatin and the warning. I have a better insight into Obama’s failings and inadequacies now. I don’t feel better,… I just understand better.

  14. something really bad is going to happen

    and the u.s. is going to be shocked into real change …

    … a declaration of martial law and entering a permanent state of ’emergency’.

  15. Short of Lincoln’s “swaps push-out” idea, the financial reform debate in the US is (and always was) a complete sideshow. If you were expecting real, substantial reform of bank risk-taking from this, you were looking in the wrong place.

    The real changes will be decided by the Basel Committee – they’re planning genuine, dramatic change to the rules that govern leverage, liquidity and capital. But it’s technical stuff, which is why (I suppose) so many commentators in the US have focused on their domestic legislative debate instead.

  16. Obama is not a neo con…He really did have some ideas that could help America..Unfortunately Corporate interests outweighed common sense and to big to fail is still a major problem, and Gloss-Steagall has not been brought back and 600 trillion derivates may drown us and the health Care bill is minus a strong Gov option.

    Bp may have opened Pandoras box and we may be caught in a science fiction horror finish…

  17. The apologist argument is that because technically the President cannot introduce laws that he is therefore powerless is total nonsense. Presidents staffs are heavily involved in writing laws and determining the details. I guess I could argue that lobbyists don’t hvae any influence on the detials of laws because they technically cannot introduce laws into Congressa.

  18. bullspit!

    the only FIGHTING orahma has done is to blunt and terminate actual reform or progressive policies.

  19. Quite literally, both the title and contents of your very critical hypothesis is incorrect…least of all for this reason: Financial reform has yet to be passed, so how can it be DOA?

    Putting aside all the relativism of election-year anxieties about mounting deficit-spending, only a
    lack of optimism will return the economy to its 2008 recessionary malaise.

    I’d like to see more economists defer to precedents offering concrete-solutions, rather than recycled forecast-modeling caveats.

    Yes job-creation is somewhat stymied now intentionally. It’s no coincidence balance-sheets are showing elevated productivity-rates, while small business loan-denial rates soar… with consumer-spending climbing?

    Wall Street and corporate America stop…the politicizing of your angst against a president who would dare assert regulatory-control over your “casino-styled” raids of employee and retiree-funded pension funds via default-swaps, derivatives trading, and high-toxicity asset bundling!

    So unless economic Zen-masters have proven job-creating alternatives, “in this present crisis government deficit-spending is one solution to our high-unemployment crisis; not opting for government economic-stimulus intervention is the problem!”

    Rather than crying the economic equivalency of “Chicken Little’s the sky is falling,” economists might “emote” less, and assist more Democratic legislators, President Obama, and Vice President Biden efforts to spur job-growth…now!

  20. one of the true injustices of history is that Mr Clinton will go down in the books as a Democrat…
    Clinton with many of his policies was a dye in the wool Rockerfeller moderate Republican one of the so called blue dogs.He took the dems from the left to the center and we all know the repubs then went from the center to the right.

  21. Yes! Change we can believe in so rapidly morphed into kicking the can down the road we cannot deny.

    Like so many who voted for Obama, I did my best; like so many who see the obvious waffling, hedging, conniving, manufacturing fantasies instead of doing something to restore sanity to the US political economy, I can no longer imagine Obama or the Democrats fending off the reactionaries this fall.

    Following Obama’s lead, the Democratic Party has given the reactionary party an opportunity for resurrection that boggles the imagination.

  22. and obama is taking the democrats to the ‘moderate center’ of the far right while the republicans frolic in some surreal dystopian never never land.

    obama – the freddy krueger of progressive dreams.

  23. Bear in mind the decline is a process not an event, repeated many times throughout history. A government of, by and for the people has become a government of the plutocracy, by the plutocracy and for the plutocracy.

  24. It’s unfortunate that extremist, black or white, journalism is so rampant. Usually, when a writer feels the need to characterize others as idiots,as Johnson does, it is because he is catering to emotions rather than intellect. That he has done a good job of this is apparent from the emotional and hysterical responses.

  25. @ bill – I agree, though I would label America as both a Corporatocracy & Kleptocracy.

    Obama will go down as the most incompetent President, certainly economically. And that will be deserved.

  26. Well at least you and James can and should feel good that you tried, and very hard, to make a difference here. Know at least your efforts are appreciated.

  27. Simon and James have written many, many, many posts that give fair hand to the actors involved here. We have reached the end of the road and now his is giving a fair analysis of the outcome.

    Sometimes the truth is the “others” are “idiots”, though honestly, that is not what he said and you are reading more into it than what is there.

  28. I would also note Obama has given no sign that he has actually fought for anything here. It’s clear that he’s completely unwilling to spend any political capital on “doing the right thing” here.

    The only place that I will give him credit is on Health Care reform where he stuck to pushing it forward even though it was hurting him in the polls. On the other hand, what he produced out of that pushing is more than questionable…

  29. Obamaphiles will always make excuses for him. Obama is a liar, incompetent, and effectively a traitor to main street. From healthcare, to the oil spill to the depression, if you actually look at what he does, rather than listen to him, he stands up for bigCorpa and the bankster gang.

  30. Can you point to real signs that Obama cared about this enough – only potentially one of the most critical thing for the future of this country?

    If there was a subject to “die on the sword” for, this was the one, and Obama was largely absent.

    Had he really tried I would agree with you. I see no sign of that.

  31. Interesting perspective. Now let me get this straight.

    You blame President Obama for thirty years of Republican-led deregulation?
    You blame President Obama for thirty years of lasseiz faire capitalism?
    You blame President Obama for the results of eight years of oil guys in the White House?
    You blame President Obama for decades of a complete lack of oversight of the oil industry?
    You blame President Obama for not having grown a Department of Oil Disasters?

    Wow! As a working stiff who has suffered from thirty years of legislation that has ONLY benefited the rich and business interests (foreign AND domestic) to the detriment of the common citizen, I’m dying to take a vacation in your world; even for just a weekend! (laughing)

    Miles “Rose-Colored Periscope” Long

  32. Progressives have been talking in respectful language for the last 12+ years -trying to be “bipartisan”. I think the time for nuanced discourse is over.

    We need the firebrand Huey Long stuff back. Otherwise it’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight. I don’t know if people have noticed, but Americans don’t listen to nuance these days, they listen to black and white.

    I don’t disagree your view is where we should be, but the two sides are playing by different rules and subsequently we lose.

  33. The really bad thing won’t take long to happen. Entrenched republicrats in bed with the titans of Wall St. have lead us down this merry path. The final shoe, the bond bubble will fall soon.

  34. Hmmm… I think I read a different post than you did. It seems like Simon said that Obama didn’t push for financial reform hard enough. I didn’t see the other points you make?

  35. “Bp may have opened Pandoras box and we may be caught in a science fiction horror finish…”

    I don’t think most people yet realize how bad the spill is going to turn out to be. There is a massive cover up at the BP and federal government levels. The vast majority of the 2.5b gallons of oil in that well is going to bleed into the gulf. The long-term consequences will be dire.

  36. You are blind as a bat grandpaw. What IS extreme is that we now live in a Kleptocracy – a land of RRH (reverse Robin Hood) dynamics. Your lack of awareness of the situation contributes to the problem. I suppose you have faith that our captors will treat us well. Ignorance is bliss…for only a while.

  37. America tries the big humanistic experiment and fails by electing an inexperience amateur to the presidency. What amazing failures he has had and even Carter and Clinton are looking more responsible than the latest Democrat in this role. Where are the 52% responsible for this box office bomb?

  38. If anything is DOA, it is Government, in it’s entirety.

    Government is now incapable of effectively responding to crisis — Katrina, health care, the financial collapse, the Gulf Oil spill, the War on Terrorism — government response is slow, incompetent, impotent.

    We can blame every administration, Democratic and Republican since Reagan, for the continuous evisceration of government agencies — what Thomas Frank has described as a wrecking crew. We can blame corporate lobbying and political contributions for a Senate on the take. We can blame dumbed-down citizens and shallow mainstream “journalism.”

    The historians will be left to sort out all the details, but that will be of little help to those of us here watching what has all the signs of yet another tired empire ungracefully failing.

    If we have any optimism left to spend, let’s spend it on building a new, better generation of governance and economy. As in any death, there comes a time when you have to let go and move on. Isn’t it that time?

  39. I think the equity markets is fall first. That will initially provide a boost to the bond markets and continue the low yields. But eventually flight will be to bonds associated with countries with potential growth in their real (rather than phantom) economies.

  40. 2 problems led to Obama’s inaction:

    1. He is number than a stump.
    2. He and his cronies are as much in bed, or more so, with the Titans of Wallstreet as the Republicans.

    The problem isn’t republicans. The problem is the republicrats and the minions of brain dead bureacrats who run the government.

  41. This ARTICLE is full of half truths and hides the facts.

    Mr. Geithner while Head of the New York Federal Reserve approved Accounting Prctices for AIG that is now under FEDERAL INVESTIGATION for Accounting FRAUD.

    He was also on the Board of Freedie Mac and approved their account methods and Freddie Mac also fined $300 MILLION for ACCOUNTING FRAUD.

    This is who is now in charge of our Treasury.

    Geithner should be indicted and prosecuted.

  42. Agreed. But in a world of sound bites, I suspect the BP spill will fade quickly except for those on the gulf. Maybe if and when the relief wells fail in August (as Matt Simmons suggests is likely) that will be another wake-up call. But I’m not holding my breath.

  43. How about some enforcement of the laws already on the books? How about some prosecutions? Instead, we bail out the crooks. The regulators and the industry are one.

  44. the first relief well is nearly to the join-up point, and a second is being drilled. It is planned (with fingers crossed) that those 2 wells will take enough pressure off that the top of the old well can be capped; I am holding out hope for the creatures who call the Gulf home

  45. I have to agree. To me it seems like the media and the public are in la-la land when it comes to the magnitude of damage that will be caused by the oil spill. Before the splill the Gulf Region operated a 65 billion dollar a year industry of fishing and tourism. A 20 billion fund marked for claims is laughable. When Mississippi, Lousiana, Alabama, and Florida, can no longer collect enough in taxes to support the state governments (due to the lack of jobs and tourism): will BP foot the bill? Will they be willing to foot it annually?

  46. Agreed, but I’m not counting on it. In the meantime, I suggest people do what they can to reform their lifestyles. Live simply. Create communities. Do whatever you can to pay less taxes – work less, consume less.

  47. Bernanke,and Paulson’s stupitity (papered-over anorexic euphoria?) will never be questioned for decades to come, period! #1)The bailout of Sept/2008 will be the costliest endeavor ever weighted upon the American Public – perhaps so…that the consumer is permanently impaired? #2) The bailout of the housing market was nothing more than a undidactic delusional maelstrom mare’s-nest – featuring Bernanke, and Paulson’s prejudiced minds manifesting in a bubble of insatiable lust for “Lunacy”! No where will housing prices, “start-too-stop” the decline in the US Housing Market as long as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac have been placed in conservatorships, and for that matter all the GSE’s are simply irrational in a “Free Market Capitalist System”. This synbiotic relationship – this junk genetic genius of our leaders should be aborted immediately, but – unfortunately with the mounting mountainous rotten-paper it will breed failure, and loss for decades at the commoners expense! #3) The bailout will take months if not years to unwind – sorry, but its the new norm as America collapses into a, “3rd world status” in a fragmented geography we once called our home! This is where we are, and where we will stay in a morass of deception in the hands of the “545” (congress/supreme court/president) enlisted “Machiavellian’s”, Bravo!!! PS. “Nothing of good cause is wasted – the trumpets text is enlisted on the mantled…as is the rallying cry of the anarchist thirsting destitutions revenge”. Thankyou Simon, James, and please “Never stop Digging for the Good of America’s Sake”:^)

  48. Yes, the B.I.S. and IMF have some real reforms in store for the the U.S. thanks to Timmy and Benny and Larry swapping their American citizenship for membership in the Club of Globilization.

    In a few months we will consider trading our interest bearing debt-ridden Federal Reserve Notes for interest bearing debt-ridden IMF Special Drawing Rights.

    Along with that will come mandatory macro and micro economic conditions that reinforce the preconcieved conclusions of the Debt Commission to rend apart America’s Social Safety net. This is the PIIGS Solution. The new Global Financial Terrorist hard at work.

    Simon dosen’t go far enough in his conclusions. We cannot have democracy controlled by unbridled wealth and expect freedom and fairness to flourish. To return to an environment where reform has content, we must first destroy the constraints on freedom. Great wealth has always been that constraint.

  49. uh, the last thing america wants right now is “progressives.” i think we’ve made that clear via the polling data available over the last 12 months. the problem with your ilk, chief, is that you can’t imagine that you’re ideology is not popular, that your positions are in fact anathema to most sensible americans. so i don’t care what language you use. pragmatic people at the middle of the bell curve reject your fiscally clueless redistributionist policies, and when you lose control of congress, it will all be a thing of the past. thank god…..

  50. Yeah, Grandpaw forgot to take his medication again. Simon too emotional!?! This blog is about the most rational, analytical, un-emotional news source out there. Besides, if you’re not really pissed off that yet another crisis (2008 financial meltdown) is going to go to waste then you’re a Vulcan.

  51. Obama will be the most incompetent President? Bush began this mess: the lax regulation on banks, fossil fuels, and our poor political standing around the world. Bush was the proverbial arsonist that lit the building on fire; now people are upset that the building is now going down?

    Put the blame where it is due. Obama became president with too many problems for any human being to possibly tackle. As he is dealing with one issue, something else catastrophic happens.

    History of the Bush family:

    George W. Bush is the 2nd worst president.
    Franklin Pierce is the worst (Bush’s family on his mother’s side; only sitting president to not receive own party’s nomination for re-election).
    Prescott Bush is rumored to have helped Hitler (Bush’s great-grandfather).
    George H.W. Bush destroyed South America when he was director of the CIA.

    Know your facts; know your history otherwise history is doomed to repeat itself…another Bush may be elected into office.

  52. “something really bad is going to happen

    and the u.s. is going to be shocked into real change …
    … a declaration of martial law and entering a permanent state of ‘emergency’.


    Lets not let paranoid conspiracy theories take over a real examination of the issues here

  53. “Obama is not a neo con.”

    You just keep believing that, chief. From the tip of his torture-loving nose to the end of his Bidenisch, Israel-first tail, Barak Obmama is about as complicit in furthering the neo-con agenda as anyone since the dual-loyaltied Richard Perl. National Socialist Israel kills an American citizen in international waters, the world is outraged and the Obama Administration applauds? Next time this liar gives a speech on the evils of slavery maybe he ought to consider how any sensible person would describe his relation to AIPAC and the rest of the Israel Lobby. And you think financial interests alone own the government of the United States?

  54. the people without a clue are the poorly educated masses, who merely repeat one talking point after another with little understanding of the real-world dynamics of the argument. They are emotionally manipulated by the usual suspects, who won’t be there to be drawn into any maelstrom they’ve created. The people at the bottom of the heap are crushed by those at the top, and end up blaming the wrong people for their plight; and that is by design. Winners and losers in any economy are defined by official policies. And increasingly over the past 3+ decades, the official policy-making apparatus has been captured by ultra-right ideology. This country has been driven so far right that Obama thinks Geithner and Summers are centrists.

  55. @Daniel Kahalas said, “ The spill isnt[sic] solved yet. Dont[sic] you think we should take that first.[sic]”

    OK, let’s send all those Wall Street engineers down to the Gulf. Brilliant idea, why didn’t somebody else think of it weeks ago?

  56. The powers that be are stronger than any party and they control this country and other countires. Obama is not a true Democrat and the Democrtic party is going pro-big business anyway. Money/commerce is the new ruler, god, and king of this universe thanks to NAFTA and other international trade treadies. The GOP is so evil they have reached insanity and yet they appear to be strengthening in power. (15 years ago no one would have tolerated the dumb things they say that come out of that party) I believe we are witnessing the pre-tribulation period and evil at this point is winning (temproarily). We (USA) are going to collapse because of our greed,ineptness, lack of moral compass, and divisiveness, and out of the chaos will come the anti-christ with his perfect answer. I now just sit and watch this amazing change unfold day by day. I do not enjoy this show at all.

  57. I believe it is too late for “the creatures who call the Gulf home”… Let’s just hope it’s not too late for the rest of us.

  58. People who hate big government like privitization and those who hate the evils of corporate America and prefer government are both going to find out that our government and Corporate America are one and the same – Corporate America has bought our government hook line and sinker. Chief Justice Roberts ensure that when he allowed unlimited campaign funding by corporations. You and I do not matter any more. So if you hate the government you also hate Corporate America who runs it and vise versa. Big business (Multinational Corporations) get everything they want all the time, and we the worker/taxpayer pay for it all in lower wages, diminishing pensions, loss in 401k investments, loss of jobs for extended periods of time, higher taxes, less work hours, higher healthcare costs, bailouts for the corporate corrupt, and soon possibly no social security or medicare. Evil and greed are behind it all and we are experiencing this evil and greed in unimaginable force.

  59. Remember 1% of the American populace ownes 85% of the entire wealth of this nation and the other 99% of the populace ownes only 15% of the wealth. This had been going on for the past 30 years and will not change. My wages have been basically stagnant for the past 4 year – going down one year and even with miniscule rasies I am only back to where I was 4 years ago. I have friends who make less than 4 years ago due to wage cuts, forced furlows, or increases in Healthcare and many have been unemployed for almost 2 years. Wall Street got million dollar bonuses for being greedy and corrupt and we paid the price. Geithner and Summer are pro-Wall Street and Obama knows it. Enough said!

  60. Bush sucked–agreed. But this means Obama can’t possibly suck, because Bush sucked?

    You’re not married are you?

  61. I certainly agree that ‘W’ belongs in the list of five worst presidents, but I’m not sure about Pierce (he’s in the bottom ten, to be sure). Harding, Nixon, Clinton, and ‘W’ are my contenders for 4/5 of the worst five presidents. Obama may yet chisel his name on that marker because he missed the chance to reform Wall Street.

    Grant, Carter, and Hoover belong in the bottom ten for gross incompetence, though Carter and Hoover proved to be the best humanitarians outside of the presidency.

  62. I agree – evil appears to be winning over common sense and sanity. Too many people are believing MSM and need to do some research or just look out your window or get their head out of the sand. Lunacy is what is happening.

  63. Oh, pleeaaassee. Another Obamaphile making excuses. Obama’s selection and support of Timmy-the-tax-cheat Geithner should have been (and be) sufficient evidence to blowup your illusions. Take off the damn rose-colored-glasses.

  64. Clinton is part of the huge problem as is Bush and now Obama. All are so pro big business ( multinationals) – they are selling the souls of the workers world wide to the evil greedy multinationals. That is their legacy.

  65. Oh, pleeaaassee. Another Obamaphile making excuses. Obama’s selection and support of Timmy-the-tax-cheat Geithner should have been (and be) sufficient evidence to blowup your illusions. Take off the damn rose-colored-glasses.

  66. Just wondering: If these CDS and CDO’s are transacted through the clearing house, like futures in CBOT, would that prevent another crisis? Moreover, this crisis began with lax requirement for homeownership. Just as it is in the 80’s. If a law is passed to make a required downpayment of 15%+ for the property, would that make it less likely to have another crisis?

  67. Do what any smart person would have done in Weimar Germany–hide gold and buy ammo.

  68. I believe Chairman Benanke is right. Blanch Lincoln proposal doesn’t prevent another too big to fail. Why are so many people praising Lincoln for her effort? I simply don’t trust her, period. Whatever she does, all details should be look through a magnifying glass. This lady is too entrenched with the corporate lobbyists.

  69. I forgot to include this in my post.

    “Obama became president with too many problems for any human being to possibly tackle.” What a crock! You are obviously a dedicated Democrat. Washington, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and FDR were handed enormous challenges and they rose to the occasion, especially Lincoln. Lincoln added his rivals to his team because he knew he needed the best talent. Teddy Roosevelt took on monopolies and won, with very little precedent for doing so

    Obama could have appointed Volcker, Stiglitz, and other competent financial people to his team instead of the Geithner/Summers hacks (Volcker had no real power with Obama). Obama will be lucky to be regarded as an average president.

  70. Arguing about politics with regard to financial reform is a waste of time. Next time you hear a pol decrying the bailing out of TBTF institutions, ask yourself “Would he/she support breaking up the banks? Would he/she vote for a measure allowing for a full audit of the Fed?” How many GOPers voted for Brown / Kaufman? 2. How hard did Obama fight for meaningful reform? Not at all. This is bipartisanship — I guess we should all be happy…

    Even as a lowly Hill intern in the 90’s, it was obvious what a sideshow this all is. Alfonse D’Amato and Ted Kennedy making speeches denouncing each other — 10 minutes later I saw them in the hall literally walking arm in arm cackling @ each other as if to say “Man, it was hilarious when I called you a dangerous liberal and you called me an uncaring radical conservative… great performance out there – drinks later?”

    The greatest job in america in terms of perks, prestige, job security and future prospects is U.S. Senator — they sure as hell aren’t going to jeopardize that for the good of us plebs. The sooner we all recognize this stuff for what it is the better.

  71. This isn’t Weimar. That we have fought a pointless war and that the corporations are in charge tells us that the authoritarians are firmly in charge.

    I don’t see how gold and guns are going to help. Can you explain?

  72. A friend sent me this link to some stunningly appropriate commentary by Noam Chomsky on the world run by The Elites

    In part, it says -The many Americans whose lives have been damaged by financiers’ single-minded focus on short-term profits at the expense of everyone else are only a harbinger of what is to come. Financial elites remain in charge, as evidenced by recent “financial reform” legislation that does not even reinstate the Glass-Steagall law separating investment and commercial banking. New York magazine has described how Obama officials blocked even inadequate reforms, let alone the stronger proposals from Nouriel Roubini, one of the few major economists to foresee the economic crash. Former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson tells us “our banking structure remains—and the incentive and belief system that lies behind reckless risk-taking has only become more dangerous,” thus setting the stage for an even worse crash than that of 2008. And, as U.S. competitiveness continues to decline and it cannot afford its endless wars without drastically cutting social spending, countless more Americans will find themselves paying the price for U.S. elites’ imperial mentality.

    This mentality described by Chomsky includes the following elements: (1) a single-minded focus on maximizing short-term elite economic and military interests; (2) a refusal to let other societies follow their own paths if perceived to conflict with these interests; (3) continual and massive violations of international law; (4) indifference to human life, particularly in the Third World; (5) massive violation of the U.S. Constitution, especially through the executive branch’s seizure of the power to wage unilateral and unaccountable war in every corner of the globe; (6) indifference to U.S. and international public opinion, which is often more progressive and humane than that of the elites; (7) a remarkable ability to “manufacture consent,” aided by the mass media and intellectuals, that has blinded most Americans to the truth of what their leaders actually do in their names.
    Bring down the curtain, indeed.

  73. not just a neocon. but he’s also become a war criminal for continuing bush’s policies.

  74. Johnson’s insistence on the notion of “regulatory capture” as an explanation of Congressional and Presidential support for the agenda of just about every campaign contributing lobby from Big Pharma to AIPAC and his abject refusal to characterize such support as corrupt is almost corrupt in itself. No one could possibly be this naive without design. Let us never forget that MIT, Johnson’s employer, itself draws much in the way of financial support from the United States government. I just don’t get the impression that Johnson is likely to antagonize anyone quite that powerful.

  75. President Hopey Changey is a fraud. A flim flam representative of the corporate oligarchy. Obama is a puppet. Fake reform and the mirages of changes are going to be the legacy of this politician’s dog and pony show. If the theatre and failure meaningful cost controls (for everyone) in health care “reform” are not enough to convince you then I don’t know what will. Everything in Washington looks to be remarkably the same as it was before Mr. Fake Change moved up the street on Pennsylvania Ave. The sooner people realize it is “we the people” verses Washington DC and its corrupt elite insiders the sooner the real fight for the soul of this republic can begin.

  76. Personally, I do not find Obama to be perfect. In response to your post, I am unaware of any other president that has had so many problems to tackle:

    – One of the worst economic times in history
    – Jobs being lost at a rate of 700,000 per month
    – Terrible social standing in the world
    – Banking system on the brink of collapse
    – Automotive sector on brink of collapse
    – War in Iraq
    – War in Afghanistan
    – Impending war with North Korea and Iran
    – A climate void of bipartisanship to the point of Republicans voting against their own ideas
    – the previous president created the biggest deficit in US history
    – Corporate mentality that has “bought” congress
    – I hate to admit, but such intense racism that even his great ideas are shunned (e.g. Barton apologizing to BP when it was their gross negligence that caused the spill)

    Please let me know which President has dealt with this many issues and I will be happy to do the research and learn about it.

    Thank you

  77. Today I moved all my 401K money out of the stock market. It feels like ‘battening down the hatches’ before a hurricane.

  78. Christian A. Wittke wrote:

    “And now, the end is here, let’s draw the final curtain…
    Congratulations to us all; that was time wasted well.”

    The only bad experiences are the ones which we learn nothing from.

  79. “There is great deference to power in the United States, and perhaps that is appropriate. But those now calling the shots should remember that they will not be in power for ever and – at some point in the not too distant future – there will be a more balanced assessment of their legacies.”

    In the long run, we are all dead, and they and their offspring will still be rich, greedy, and courted by their retainers.

  80. And how to characterize your response to these things, grampa, vapid, or mechanical, perhaps even sterile? And why the absolutising of reason here? Good reasoning isn’t antithetical to emotion, the two are inextricably bound together in a healthy human being. But, then again, maybe you’ve never experienced anything quite like that.

  81. Dan wrote:

    “something really bad is going to happen and the u.s. is going to be shocked into real change …”

    “something wicked this way comes”

    Act IV scene 1 – Macbeth – William Shakespeare

  82. do you not remember the last guy? no one and no economic philosophy is worse than that of the republicans. wars, corporate give aways, deregulation and letting greed run wild got us where we are today…ala bush

  83. I agree; alone, this bad experience only has begun; so there will be plenty of time to learn and many of us will be able to monitor both processes; not all in comfort, safety and well fed though.

  84. scathew wrote:

    “…best to protect your family and hope you can outlast the coming storm…”

    The Raven replied:


    “The steamboat Bertrand was heavily laden with provisions when it set out on the Missouri River in 1865, destined for the gold mining camps in Fort Benton, Mont. The boat snagged and swamped under the weight, sinking to the bottom of the river. It was found a century later, under 30 feet of silt a
    little north of Omaha, Neb.

    Among the canned food items retrieved from the Bertrand in 1968 were brandied peaches, oysters, plum tomatoes, honey, and mixed vegetables. In 1974, chemists at the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) analyzed the products for bacterial contamination and nutrient value. Although the food
    had lost its fresh smell and appearance, the NFPA chemists detected no microbial growth and determined that the foods were as safe to eat as they had been when canned more than 100 years earlier. ”

  85. My wife and I have been using BofA for almost 2 decades now. We have decided to take all of our checking and savings out of BofA, close those accounts, and put them into one of our local credit unions. This will all happen within the next week or so. We might not be able to fight Wall street on a govt level, but, we sure can on a main street level!

  86. Know your facts:

    Obama voted for every single action taken in 2008 right along with Bush, and did not make a single statement criticizing it.

    In addition, he opposed all efforts attempted by the Bush administration to reform Fannie/Freddie, and voted for ever more debt and deficits while he was Senator.

    As far as “know your history, you would enhance your credibility if you took to heart Benjamin Disraeli’s observation: – “To be conscious that you are ignorant is a great step to knowledge.”

  87. Live simply.

    Create communities.

    Do whatever you can to pay less taxes – work less, consume less.

  88. p.s. Whereas Bush was an enemy of main street, Obama is a traitor, because he pretended to be for the “small people.” What a frickin’ dupe job.

  89. Dictynna wrote:

    “Today I moved all my 401K money out of the stock market. It feels like ‘battening down the hatches’ before a hurricane.”

    I did the same a few months before the last crash. I resisted the dead-cat bounce, except for a small amount or risk capital. I’m focussing on asset preservation and staying on the sidelines, my family is too important to take chances with at the financial casino.

  90. Concentration of influence, whether economic or political or through violence, public or private, is an anathema to democracy and genuine Capitalism (which DEMANDS competition and decentralization, not consolidation, centralization and monopolistic practices).

  91. Wise choice.

    There is nothing fundamental to push the markets up. The social mood is gloomy, and likely to get gloomier.

    The only question in my mind is whether we are headed towards a market more like the Nikkei since 1990 (approx 38000 to 10000), or more like a stretched version of the DJIA from 1930-1932 (approx. 294 to 41).

  92. Makes me feel like we’re becoming more third world all the time. Even after the financial collapse in 2008, and we know the culprits and reasons for it, the politicians are unwilling or unable to make the necessary changes. And no one has gone to jail. And no one will, except periphery criminals like Madoff, etc. And the ‘experts’ who never saw it coming are still given air time or column space to tell us the necessary economic solutions.

    After voting in every pres. election since 1976, I doubt I’ll ever vote again. What a pointless exercise that was. Even when you win, you still lose.

  93. I cannot seem to reply to Elle’s post (no Reply link), so here goes.

    Try FDR. He had all of Obama’s economic problems. Passing the New Deal was revolutionary. Republicans fought him on every point and the Supreme Court also did not agree. Obama had lots of history he could have read (but he did not).

    You do know FDR had to deal with 25% unemployment, right?

    FDR had firebrands like Huey Long to deal with, much worse than Palin.

    You also seem to be completely ignorant of world history. Japan annexed Korea in 1910 and invaded China shortly thereafter. Ever hear of Hitler and Stalin?

    “Terrible social standing in the world.” Whatever. Try reading “Global Survey Shows Obama More Popular Abroad Than at Home” (

    “Corporate mentality that has ‘bought’ congress.” Look up Lochner v. New York. Admittedly is is a little before FDR’s time, but it shows the attitude of the Supreme Court with respect to the “little people.”

    Racism. Now we get to the liberal pablum. No, it not racism. It is elitism and other “isms” involving money, class, power, and corruption.

    But it wasn’t racism when Kanye West stole Taylor Swift’s award because only whites can be guilty of racism, right?

    Yes, ‘W’ was one of our very worst presidents, but Obama is not the Second Coming. Your bias is astounding.

  94. “Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.”

  95. The financial problems have not been solved. This should be a bipartisan problem to be fixed. Unfortunately, many of the comments on this board show that it is not.

    Bush started the bailouts in desperation, in the waning days of his presidency. It was a mistake.

    Then in come the democrats. After demagoguery for years against corporate interests, blocking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform as “racist,”and railing against deficits run up in the previous eight years, Obama-Pelosi-Reid proceeded to double and triple down on bailouts, get cozier in bed with corporate interests, increase Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac liability, use “stimulus” funds to pay off their public union constituents instead of create jobs, balloon the debt and explode the deficit.

    Meanwhile the financial system remains unreformed, unknown amounts of bad debt remain unresolved, uncertainty pervades the markets, banks refuse to lend, and unemployment remains near 10%.

    If we looked at ourselves as Americans we would realize that both parties have brought us to this point, and further demagoguery and sloganeering will not solve our problems, any more than it will stop the oil from gushing in the gulf. Unfortunately that sort of electioneering and divisive approach is what our community organizer in chief knows best. We are more divided than ever, and it seems that only when this Congress and this President are completely gone from the scene can another set of leaders take on the job of reassembling the pieces and solving the many problems we face as a nation.

  96. I’ve seen this movie. The historical replay of wash, rinse, and repeat of deliberate economic failures for the many and the vast enrichment of the parasitical few who sit atop the labor pyramid. Einstein’s theory of insanity; “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is partially correct. The expectations are of the same result to maintain wealth imbalance.

  97. I think it is pretty safe to say that the 1% have no idea how to “create” jobs, nor, judging from the posts on this blog, are they even remotely interested in thinking about creating sustainable (life maintenance) jobs.

    Wrecking Crew – “The rest of us have been left to mourn for another nation – that warm middle class world that I was born into…”

    Make no mistake about how enjoyable it is for them to watch us suffer – it’s the modern day version of feeding people to the lions as entertainment.

    The Thomas Paine quote below is priceless. No way for those educated by nihilistic “teachers” to regain that level of intelligence that he displayed.

    Declaration of Independence was drafted by people who understood the honor in following the rules of the Just War doctrine of a 1000 years ago…the savage waits in the bushes and pops out at harvest time to kill and steal…”identity theft” – a favorite schtick of the psycho and sociopath…

  98. The issue here should not be regulation (which is broadly irrelevant to multinational companies) but price.

    A simple solution to this problem is what rates the fed provides banks money to lend. If they are good little boys and girls and don’t trade their money, they get the usual rate (currently near zero). If they want to be slick cats, then they get charged more (say 50 to 100 basis points more).

    Secondly, if the government became selective of WHO can be FDIC insured, once again giving it to “good banks” instead of all banks, then consumers would have to be told “your deposit is NOT insured by FDIC.”

    All we need to do is to promise NOT to bail out misbehaving banks, increasing their costs of doing business and giving them a competitive disadvantage.

    Then the banks will cut their own throats like the sharks most of them are.

    Bingo. Problem solved.

  99. HAHAHAHA, the BP situation is your example of racism? Hahahaha… Barton is just a BP sock puppet. It’s got zero to do with race and everything to do with… wait for it… MONEY! Yes that’s right, Barton’s on the BP payroll!

    I voted for Obama knowing he would suck. I just knew that the other viable choice was even worse. However, I make no excuses for Obama: he’s better than Bush, but a faaaaaar cry from what we need. I don’t want to hear whining and mincing about how tough his job is. He’s afraid to offend anybody, and that’s why he not getting things done. He doesn’t want to burn career bridges. He’s clearly thinking about how to get rich after this by scratching the right powerful backs.

    I still imagine how much worse it would’ve been with the even more blatantly corporatist Repubs getting 4 more years. I imagine McCain keeling over and Palin running (shudder) running things. But even though it’s better than that, it still doesn’t change that Obama only sucks a little bit less.

  100. Elle,

    – “One of the worst economic times in history” – Much of which can be laid at the feet of the neo-liberal financial advisors – Rubin, Summers, et al – that directed Clinton and now direct him.

    – “Jobs being lost at a rate of 700,000 per month” – About which he has done zilch, absolutely zilch!

    – “Terrible social standing in the world” – Its better now? I hadn’t noticed.

    – “Banking system on the brink of collapse” – That’s changed?

    – “Automotive sector on brink of collapse” – It collapsed!

    – “War in Iraq” – And still the war in Iraq, eternally the war in Iraq!

    – “War in Afghanistan” – a much larger war in Afghanistan!

    – “Impending war with North Korea and Iran” – War with Iran now closer than ever owing to his craven cow-towing to the Israel Lobby. War with North Korea? Just leave that to the peace-loving Hitlery Clinton.

    – “A climate void of bipartisanship to the point of Republicans voting against their own ideas” – That’s changed?

    – “the previous president created the biggest deficit in US history” – Which he has exacerbated.

    – “Corporate mentality that has “bought” congress” – And which still buys both him and Congress.

    – “I hate to admit, but such intense racism that even his great ideas are shunned (e.g. Barton apologizing to BP when it was their gross negligence that caused the spill)” – Great ideas shunned because of racism? Please. Obama wouldn’t know a great idea if he stumbled over it. No racism here. Just a reaction to vapid leadership.

    “Please let me know which President has dealt with this many issues and I will be happy to do the research and learn about it” – This is dealing with it? He’s dealt with nothing!

  101. If you want to see where the US is going if we do not fix our budgetary and economic problems, then look to Mexico. That will be us in 20 years.

  102. What complete and utter nonsense! Obama could pass as a moderate republican. Health Care ‘Reform’ simply expanded the current failed system. It’s still run by insurance companies that created the mess we’ve been living with.

    Trade policy? Looks Republican.

    War policy? Yep. Republican.

    Fiscal Irresponsibility? Republican.

    So where is this great push left? Too many whackos here watch Fox News!

  103. “#1)The bailout of Sept/2008 will be the costliest endeavor ever weighted upon the American Public – perhaps so…that the consumer is permanently impaired?”

    Wrong. The bailout is tiny compare to the future unfunded Medicare liability.

  104. “All we need to do is to promise NOT to bail out misbehaving banks, increasing their costs of doing business and giving them a competitive disadvantage.

    Then the banks will cut their own throats like the sharks most of them are.

    Bingo. Problem solved.”

    Well, yes, the problem is solved – by the complete and total collapse of the financial system. Ever seen a run on a bank? You will if anyone tries your silly solution.

  105. Apparently one crisis cannot be adequately addressed by Obama never mind both,And two reasons with the Obama administration,desire and competence,which is seriously lacking.

    Think Carroll Quigley?
    Two parties, same basket.

  106. I couldn’t agree more Will – I have voted in every election since 1980 and am now completely and utterly jaded and more cynical than ever. In short, my vote does not mean s*%&. I am an optimist by nature but I am afraid that the republicrats that are running the USA have made me a glass half empty kinda guy. The toughest part for me is, for the time being, I live a charmed life – a respectable profession, an upper-middle-class income, bills are paid, I am able to save each month, an opportunity to travel the world, I’m HEALTHY, loved and fun to be around. Underneath all of this, I dread the next bubble burst, the never ending war(s), and most of all, the next election cycle that brings us nothing more but the same.

  107. Re: @ Kliment Voroshilov___Nice…well g(r)ounded. If I could add transparency to the mix – bating intransigently visceral flipity-flop rhetoric to cross the aisle of divided partisanship, Not! Going gangbusters after Iran, and now stuck in the mud for decades in Afghanistan – singing “Drill Baby Drill” no more? Well said Kliment:^)

  108. Personally, I do not find Obama to be perfect. In response to your post, I am unaware of any other president that has had so many problems to tackle:Elle.

    Sorry Elle,I too hoped Obama was different but he’s Not,he hasn’t done anything he said he was going to do,his Health care was a fiasco? please,he could have at least pretended as well as when he campaigned for votes.

    BP and other oil and especially wall street contributed well to Obama,Corporate capitalism=corporate government.

    Carroll Quigley, different parties,(sham)same policies.

  109. The key question is not what is wrong here and who is going to fix it – that way lays depression and despair, as this series of comments demonstrates. The important question is what is possible here and who cares. That way lays hope and energy. It is going to take economic and political genius to dig ourselves of this hole.
    But we do have a better understanding of collective intelligence and we do have new tools to cultivate it, as these videos illustrate…

    What’s a Yala? from Geoffrey Morton-Haworth on Vimeo.

  110. Re: @ Dismayed____Would cogitating…”Death by a Thousand Cuts” be a better alternative as what’s been happening for half a century? Tomorrow – can’t wait for tomorrow,…

  111. jlwt wrot:

    “Too many people are believing MSM and need to do some research or just look out your window or get their head out of the sand. Lunacy is what is happening.”

    “In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is King.”

    Desiderius Erasmus, (1466 – 1536)

  112. Geoffrey Morton-Haworth wrote:

    “The key question is not what is wrong here and who is going to fix it – that way lays depression and despair, as this series of comments demonstrates.”


  113. Huh?

    “…It is going to take economic and political genius to dig ourselves of this hole…”

    Wait, we’re in a hole and the only way out is to dig?


    Wisdom – “…you have to know when to stop digging…”

  114. Re: @ Geoffrey Morton-Haworth___Sounds like rhizome propaganda from the bowels of the “New World Order” Phase III – totally impractical, and quite obsolete? Linear vs. parallel vs cybernetics quantified by kenetic-synthesis is so done that (?) – wrong application, not applicable:-(

  115. The usual drivel. Single-payer health care has always been far more popular with the American people than it ever was in Congress, or among the tiny fringe lunatic set. Same with the repeal of DADT. Same with Iraq and Afghanistan. The list is quite, quite long.

    Against the American people are the plutocrats, the media that they own, and tiny, tiny fringe of moonbat extremists whose belief the whole world agrees with them is but one more symptom of their unwell mental state.

  116. I Paint What I See
    — by E.B. White

    “‘What do you paint, when you paint on a wall?’
    Said John D.’s grandson Nelson.
    ‘Do you paint just anything there at all?
    ‘Will there be any doves, or a tree in fall?
    ‘Or a hunting scene, like an English hall?’

    ‘I paint what I see,’ said Rivera.

    ‘What are the colors you use when you paint?’
    Said John D.’s grandson Nelson.
    ‘Do you use any red in the beard of a saint?
    ‘If you do, is it terribly red, or faint?
    ‘Do you use any blue? Is it Prussian?’

    ‘I paint what I paint,’ said Rivera.

    ‘Whose is that head that I see on the wall?’
    Said John D.’s grandson Nelson.
    ‘Is it anyone’s head whom we know, at all?
    ‘A Rensselaer, or a Saltonstall?
    ‘Is it Franklin D.? Is it Mordaunt Hall?
    Or is it the head of a Russian?

    ‘I paint what I think,’ said Rivera.

    ‘I paint what I paint, I paint what I see,
    ‘I paint what I think,’ said Rivera,
    ‘And the thing that is dearest in life to me
    ‘In a bourgeois hall is Integrity;
    ‘However . . .
    ‘I’ll take out a couple of people drinkin’
    ‘And put in a picture of Abraham Lincoln;
    ‘I could even give you McCormick’s reaper
    ‘And still not make my art much cheaper.
    ‘But the head of Lenin has got to stay
    ‘Or my friends will give the bird today,
    ‘The bird, the bird, forever.’

    ‘It’s not good taste in a man like me,’
    Said John D.’s grandson Neslon,
    ‘To question an artist’s integrity
    ‘Or mention a practical thing like a fee,
    ‘But I know what I like to a large degree,
    ‘Though art I hate to hamper;
    ‘For twenty-one thousand conservative bucks
    ‘You painted a radical. I say shucks,
    ‘I never could rent the offices—–
    ‘The capitalistic offices.
    ‘For this, as you know, is a public hall
    ‘And people want doves, or a tree in hall
    ‘And though your art I dislike to hamper,
    ‘I owe a little to God and Gramper,
    ‘And after all,
    ‘It’s my wall . . .’

    ‘We’ll see if it is,’ said Rivera.”

  117. What fascinates me is not that the elite continue to look out for the interests of the elite. Of course they do.

    The question is, why do people let them? And what spark will it take to ignite the tinderbox?

    I already know and understand all the conventional points about the corporate media, astroturfing, and the like. I get that.

    But we now have people at the very end of the rope, in large numbers, and what are they doing? Why are they not in the streets? Why are they not screaming?

    I don’t expect them to invent some brilliant economic program or political maneuver. I did expect them to stand up and yell, at some point.

    But crickets. Americans are so alienated from each other, they would rather suffer alone than rebel in company.

  118. Simon & James:

    Thanks for taking on this issue. I hope that you have not found it to be a thankless or fruitless task. It isn’t. I believe that it is likely that reform will be revisited because without real reform there is no real constraint on the greed that can proceed to overwhelm the system.

    Obama still could lead by refusing to sign a weak bill. If he has learned anything from the BP debacle (he recently linked the failure to regulate the oil industry with the failure to regulate the financial industry), then he will do so. I doubt that will occur, but ultimately the success or failure of the bill will be laid on his doorstep (as President and leader of the party that controls both houses).

  119. Financial reform is DOA. No surprise there. I am actually more surprised at the fact that there were people who actually believed that meaningful financial reform was possible. A strange world we live in.

  120. Whatever the current banking model may be, it’s flawed and in dire need of real change.
    The spike in the overnight futures yesterday based on the vague assurances from China to revalue the yuan higher, was an obvious and strictly political move to pre-empt the discussion of their currency manipulation at the upcoming G20 meeting and was used to justify a classic ‘wash and rinse’ in the price for stocks, and bring in some coin for the needy Wall Street banks.

    This is how the moral hazard of bailing out the Too Big to fail has returned as an unintended consequence, strangling the real economy and the very markets which the bailouts were intended to save by taxing production and capital with the drag of a corruption tax that also had a dampening effect on efficient capital allocation.

    The Banks, being fundamentally unreformed from what I’ve seen and heard in the current bill are still insolvent, with failed business models based on fraud, and unable to make their expected outsized returns using conventional business means.

    With the mortgage and CDO ponzi schemes collapsed, they must resort to the more familiar soft control frauds in the capital allocation markets, creating and exploiting inefficiencies to support their unsustainable existence. Better that they would have been broken up and liquidated where necessary, rather than being saved without a structural reform.

    No matter the rationales put forward, it was an act of political corruption in which the Congress and the last two Administrations are complicit. More and more wealth is being transferred out of the productive economy and into the hands of a financial elite that spends it in the non-productive accumulation of capital, high risk speculation, and hoarding incented by historically low tax rates for the very wealthy.

  121. All the “good” I can say for Obama and the Dems is that they haven’t made it *worse*. They haven’t made it any better, but they haven’t made it worse. I suppose that’s about all I hoped for in my most optimistic projections of what they’d do, so I’m not terribly disappointed. I do wish they would surprise me just once though.

  122. Two years or so ago one had a hard time arguing that corruption and deceipt was at the heart of our economic and business core. It is still difficult to convince people that corporate pirates exist that stalk and raid legitimate industry and whole economies for plunder (…easily white washed as simple profit drives). It is hard to swallow that perhaps Obama was a bought and sold front man afterall, but the alternative is that he is a con man who fooled us all or, at best, the inept and incompetent wizzard of Oz behind a political corporate veil. But our children will wake up to the cold hard consequences of our denials and inability to demand responses. Obama has not failed…We have failed. We failed when we failed to accept the fact that for some 30 years this very scenario has been happening one economy after another around the world. This is not blowback…it is simply our turn.

  123. Don’t dread the election. You only need fear that which you don’t know. You know exactly what’s coming next election: another round of criminals, cheats, and corporate sock puppets. Don’t fear what you already know. Instead, plan for it.

  124. With respect, I would say that for the last 2 decades, BofA has been using you.

    Congrats on pulling out of a TBTF bank. If a few hundred thousand more joined us, the message might be heard.

  125. THANK YOU for this wonderful poem!

    I must mention again that it was in a comment on this blog that I learned about Anyone interested in a viable alternative to our death-spiral of an economic system should check it out.

  126. lest we forget…the selling of a President series…from Nixon to Regan to Bush were all puppets. Why should it be strange that Obama is also a puppet of a different style and method. Oddly enough, he can sell us agenda that would have caused a violent revolt by now if it had continued under Bush. Bush was the dummy puppet; Obama the intelligent one. From Regan through Bush to Obama we have the speak no evil, hear no evil nd see no evil trio.

  127. For the umpteenth time you write “Most indications are that they will seek tier one capital requirements in the range of 10-12 percent – which is what Lehman had right before it failed. How would that help?”

    Please get it. When you talk of capital requirements in the range of 10 to 12 percent that is the capital divided by the risk weighted assets… NOT the capital divided by the assets… and so if the risk-weights are wrong, which they are, it all amounts to a silly and useless exercise. As an example for the last 5 years Greece has been risk-weighted at 20% which means that a billion dollar exposure to Greece would count as only 200 million.

    The risk weights were arbitrarily set and anyone taking time to read the documentation can only reach the conclusion that some regulators must have been severely impaired.

    A real 10 to 12 percent of capital on all assets would be more than enough! In fact lending to the “risky” small businesses and entrepreneurs, risk-weighted 100%, required the banks to have 8 percent in capital, more than enough given that the problems did not arise in this segment.

    Simon, how come it is so easy for you to accept that the credit ratings were wrong, and bankers bad, but not to consider the possibility that the regulators were even more off the wall?

  128. Obama is just a transitional President as all the Presidents will be in the 2010’s. It is why I don’t get hyped up about him or care much about him.

    Which Republican will be waving goodbye in January 2017 while yet another Democrat comes in during the same month to be President? You get the picture.

    The financial problems are to great and the inbalances holding them, to strong for typical politics to work.

    Basically a structural crisis not unlike 1836,1873,1929,1973. Eventually the problems will have to be solved.

    FWIW, the “long depression of 1873-96 was the worst in whole. Taking the American frontier out of the picture, the US economy was crap for a generation and sparked riots, protests, beginning of the labor movements. 10-15 million starved to death during that time.

  129. The fact is that we are, de facto, living in the world’s largest plutocracy (only a bit ahead of the infamous EuroZone). Without election reform and lobby reform, by Constitutional Amendment, the game is over, as well as the set and the match (in honor of Wimbledon that started today), and the Great American Unwashed might as well bend over and kiss their hind parts behind. We have nowhere to go from here but down. The general population’s decline is accelerating now at a steady pace. Time for the Citizenry to take our country back.

  130. As Congress launches into reform of the Big Oil Oligarchy, we will see the third failed attempt to conquer the oligarchs (after health care and finance). This is a really nasty joke that is happening in Washington, and the punch line is to our stomachs and right through. We need to encourage everyone to wake up and smell the coffee, but with the media oligarchy as co-conspirators (think of what the Supremes did for them by declaring corporations included in the First Amendment rights), how can we let everyone see the truth. The public won’t stop watching Desperate Housewives and America’s Got Talent long enough to even have an inkling.

  131. Spooky and incisive commentary Simon Johnson. You point out in very diplomatic term the harsh reality we all must confront, most alarming that NOTHING HAS CHANGE!

    (“This is not a leftist message, although you hear people on the left make the point. But people on the right also increasingly understand what is going on – there is excessive and abusive power at the heart of our financial system that completely distorts markets (and really amounts to a hidden, unfair and dangerous taxpayer subsidy)”

    You are much too kind. Crimes were, and are being committed! America, – sadly – lacks the will to investigate and prosecute those crimes, – so those crimes continue. You are correct that it is the American taxpayer (really America’s poor and middleclass) who burden and suffer the brunt of the
    horrific costs heaped upon us by the predatorclass and the “den of vipers and thieves…” on Wall Street.

    We do not inhabit America. This is something entirely new and pernicious. The predatorclass now owns and controls America, and America’s wealth and resources. This twisted paradigm is contrary to every principle and ideal we formally vaunted as the “great experiment in democracy”. We no longer live practice democracy. We have lost our way. And unless and until, we as a nation and a people standup – yet again – and DEMAND CHANGE!, and refuse to tolerate criminality and systemic abuse by our socalled leadership, – political or corporate – we are doomed to join the pantheon and empires risen, glorified and reduced quite swiftly to rubble and cinders.

    The predatorclass must be put back in the keep, by any means necessary, or America as we knew it, and that thing we call the Constitution will rot and fade away.

  132. I’m going to tentatively defend Harding’s presidency, only because a financial writer I trust, Bill Bonner, said some good things about him.

    According to Bonner, Harding didn’t meddle in the economy or world affairs, let the Roaring 20’s roar, and spent most of his time in the White House playing poker. Now that’s what I call laissez-faire!

  133. Hey! That’s no way to speak about Obama, distinguished statesman and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize…..ah, why DID he win that prize, anyway?

  134. As Bernard von Nothaus, gold seller, puts it: “If the gold standard doesn’t work, the lead standard will.”

  135. The die is already cast. It is no longer a question of WHETHER we’ve had our democracy stolen from us by a criminal class of Middle East foreign policy, munitions, financial, drug and oil lobbyists in combination with whoring congressional and White House filth, it has, in fact, been stolen from us, trust me. And there will be no restoration of it short of massive public demonstrations and strikes. When they comes, they will seem to arise as from a mist, spontaneously. And precisely because of this spontaneity they will succeed marvelously. And they will be followed by a peoples’ justice, with arrests, interrogations, and the spectacle of public trials. Never again will these swine be given the chance to make war on the people.

  136. For AJ:
    A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. Saul Bellow

    I have been listening to those poorly educated masses in the Gulf States and your contention that they have little understanding of the real world and solutions to problems is just plain horse manure. History also indicates that the American Revolution was not a top down phenomenon with the intellectuals in the lead. Uneducated does not equate with stupid.

  137. Yes, I agree we need to get rid of most of repubs replacing them with progressives (in case you are wondering that means to left of Obama) and replace Obama with a true President of the people (in case you are wondering that means to his left also)

  138. Meaningful financial reform is possible. And thanks to Simon and James for leading this very important cause. Simon’s approach and analysis has been spot on! Meaningful financial reform will occur one way or the other. The reform that could be happening now is much less painful than what will happen eventually – maybe in just a few short years. Yes, without the necessary reforms Simon has articulated we can expect a very painful correction to our economic and financial system – such as a complete collapse and re-building (i.e death and re-birth)

  139. Excellent point! It is a structural crisis and Obama does not get that this a structural crisis in both finance and the economy. This is what Simon has been saying for over a year. People, especially the media, have told us how smart Obama is. Well, my opinion is that he is really not very smart – at least not in finance and economics. Obama’s lack of intelligence is indicated by his inability to comprehend the possibility of a different structure for the financial system. His lack of intelligence is reflected in his choice of Geithner, Summers, Rubin, and Bernanke.

  140. “This twisted paradigm is contrary to every principle and ideal we formally vaunted as the “great experiment in democracy”. We no longer live practice democracy.”

    The great experiment in democracy – one of the first, if not the first. Maybe it needs to be re-built/re-modeled not unlike 1776-1787. Being the first democracy is comparable to still driving a 1903 Ford. No mention of corporations, political parties, and restriction of campaign fund raising to the electoral district. We have many archaic and stupid rules in the Senate. Should the Constitution set the rules for Congress? I think our Constitution left too many things un-stated, not decided. Is it that we need a 21st century democracy instead of a 1776 democracy?

  141. Of course. That’s the problem with trying to meet the demands of a world that clamors for sound bites, sugar rushes, instant answers, early wins, quick hits…

    If you have got the patience, here is a longer video by John Chambers of Cisco. I will try and embed it, but in case that doesn’t work here is the link first

    now, hopefully, the video

  142. “Dead On Arrival”—What do you expect when Senator Shelby, Senator Corker, and Senator McConnell getting paid graft money by lobbyists and the American Bankers Association to block the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

  143. Angry Nurse,
    You make an excellent point and one missed by many. Even if you exclude the economic effect of British Petroleum’s induced nightmare on the coastal areas, state and municipal governments were already well on their way to major budget shortfalls and possibly default on their bonds within the next 2–3 years.

  144. There can be no successful financial, health care, or systemic reform as long as Congress and the Administration allow the concentration and sub rosa use of power wielded by the Federal Reserve. Think about the words of the first Rothschild,

    “Give me control of a nation’s curency and I care not what laws it makes.”

    The Financial Reform Bill is a sop to politicians who need cover for re-election. There is no reform which addresses TBTF, etc.Placing the CPA in the Fed, feeds the beast and ignores real counsumer concerns. sure they’ve limited fees on ATM, credit card use, etc. Another sop that changes nothing that can’t be recreated in another form in a few months.

    This President and this Congress dare not confront the Ponzi scheme called the Fed. They know that there is a better alternative. But, they fear for their lives and will thus remain silent, allowing future generations to start the revolution which frees America from the “Tyranny of the Banksters.”

  145. “paranoid consporacy theories’? You need to take the time to do some serious research. “We live in a Constitutional Republic. The President’s job under the Constitution is to enforce the laws made by the elected Congress. His job is not to create new laws and enforce them all by himself. His job is as magistrate under the Constitution, not as Caudillo. He is not the law. He is supposed to enforce what Congress decides. The BP behavior is reminiscent of how, immediately after assuming office, Mr. Obama, with no Congressional authority or administrative allowance, simply made a phone call to fire the head of GM. When I called the White House press office to ask under what law or regulation Mr. Obama was acting, I was told he did not need a law. If the government put a lot of money into GM, it could call the shots at GM, I was told. But under what authority, I asked. ‘None needed,’ was the final answer. … The same goes for Mr. Obama’s demand that BP pay the lost wages of oil and gas workers suspended from work because of the moratorium on Gulf of Mexico underseas drilling. There simply was no legislation allowing this kind of specific demand. Mr. Obama’s demand was in the nature of a threat, more than a Constitutional act. … [T]o create specific enactments and actions without any authority — now Mr. Obama’s specialty — is so at odds with the law of the land that it terrifies me. These are not the acts of a teacher on Constitutional law. These are the acts of a big city boss or a third world dictator.” –columnist Ben Stein

    Mr. Stein has barely scratched the surface of Obama’s corruption. Obama’s future legacy will be that he led this country into the darkest hour in our history, with his eyes wide open and his hand firmly at the wheel. This man is a treasonous Muslim, masquerading as a Christian, masquerading as a Democrat. The fact that the mainstream media has given him a pass on every salient fact is proof enough to prompt one to look deeper. Why has Obama been the ONLY president who finds it necessary to spend over $1.2 Million dollars to seal ALL of his records from any examination. The American people are still HIS EMPLOYER, and if he’s unwilling to prove that he’s even qualified to serve, he should be immediately impeached, charged, and convicted of treason in a time of war at the very least.

  146. Re: @ WPD___”Unfortunately ninety-plus percent of the law is squandered on interpretation – rhetorically freeze-dried lapidary pre-ordained for the few – whereas complexity breeds ambiguity trumped only by greed – the ultimate high?”

  147. I was discussing the sorry state of the world economy with my neighbour last night and of course we couldn’t do so without addressing the ludicrous fact that in the West debt has effectively become money… He moved to Canada from India and is a University teacher.. He said something that was so obvious and yet I had never really thought about it much. “When I moved here I was shocked by how you needed a credit history to do pretty much anything of importance. Without a credit history in North America you might as well not exist”. And there you have it folks. The Powers That Be are petrified of deleveraging and even more so of having to come up with a different economic paradigm since our economies ARE debt. Our biggest failure is that our politicans, bankers and intellectuals have lost the ability to face up to reality and to do what is RIGHT as opposed to what is EXPEDIENT. I am disgusted, utterly disgusted, with where things have ended up and all I feel I can do about it is to take a deep breath, live my life as best as possible under the circumstances and hope to be spared the worst of the coming unpleasantness, whatever that may be. I am very skeptical that there is anything but a tragic ending to this story. As Simon points out the opportunity to pass strong financial legislation that could have limited the size of banks and regulated their behaviour to something resembling a public utility has most likely been lost. There is nothing left to do except wait and pray.

    My neighbour also asked me if I had ever travelled to India to which I said no. He said that it is worth going but one has to go with an open mind and not judge by western standards for the squalor that the poor live in, often but a few yards from some of the wealthiest, is a brutal culture shock for many who make the trip. I told him not to worry. That I was fairly convinced that that income disparity was invarriably going to make its way to North America. China and India are definitely the future…they will continue to get richer while we continue to get poorer eventually leading to a global economy where the rich and poor are spread out evenly across the globe… The Global Wealthy Elite will live in enclaves while everyone else struggles to make ends meet or simply to survive another day. Travelling between enclaves of wealth will be increasingly dangerous.. From what we see going on in the U.S. it is clear that this process is well underway and is likely irreversible pending the series of natural disasters and conflagarations necessary to force our hand to change or deliver us to our fate. The coming hurricane season should scare the hell out of everyone. There is a tangible risk that it will amplify the crisis in the U.S. and bring the cauldron to the full boil of ecological, economic and political cataclysm.

  148. Got news for you, bub: if you want to play the “war criminal” card on Obama, then you have to play it on all of us in America. We’ve ALL been complicit in these two wars, and when Obama opted to continue them we should have been roaring with anger. Instead, we’re just letting them piss away money and manpower on killing and injuring civilians at an amazing rate with barely a wimper from us.

  149. Would be nice if we were on a national sales tax instead of income tax. Could save money by working hard AND spending less.

  150. I agree that the regulatory structure is flawed. Regulators are ill-trained (almost exclusively deterministic accountants, attorneys, and economist) for indeterminate underlying investment environment and ill-positioned with two-dimensional metrics in a three-dimensional world. Regulators are using maps when they should be using GPS.

    The U.S. capital market regulatory structure is a hierarchical command-and-control process similar to the Soviet Union’s Gosplan. The Former Soviet Union lacked the information system to restructure. It was unable to address effectively global complexities. U.S. regulators find themselves in a similar situation. Their linear budgetary resources cannot satisfy exponential demands required by global capital markets with complex, innovative products.

    If you want change—advocate for real change, you need to go beyond cosmetic “word smithing” by changing commas to semicolons for the one-size-fits-all deterministic regime.

    • If there is innovation, there is complexity.

    • If there is complexity, there is uncertainty.

    You cannot govern uncertainty with the same metrics and mind-set that you use to govern risk. Most would agree that Citi’s failed financial supermarket concept was flawed. If you cannot cross-sell, you cannot cross regulate—non-correlative information problem. For effective and efficient governance, you need to segment regulation into predictable, probabilistic, and uncertain regimes that correlate with the randomness of the underlying economic environment.

    Get over the “gotchas” and get with the “got-its.” The best form of vindication is living well.

    Stephen A. Boyko

    Author of “We’re All Screwed: How Toxic Regulation Will Crush the Free Market System” and a series of articles on capital market governance.

  151. “FWIW, the “long depression of 1873-96 was the worst in whole. Taking the American frontier out of the picture, the US economy was crap for a generation and sparked riots, protests, beginning of the labor movements. 10-15 million starved to death during that time.”

    I continue to suggest that everyone do what needs to be done to utilize and maintain the infrastructure of the USA and just write up a bill for time and goods.

    The $$$ may have stopped flowing because of massive THEFT, but why should that stop everyone from maintaining our civilization?

    Makes no sense whatsoever to stop everything from LIVING until the thieves do what? Confess? Tell us where they buried the loot?

    Seriously, only DRUGGED minds can be held hostage to the PSYCHObabble of virtual reality TYRANTS…

    PHYSICS is on the side of the “masses”.

    And in USA, the “masses” are a weaponized citizen army. We’re also merciful, as a mass, not as individuals.

    Plus we need time to evaluate the flow of currency as we LIVE IT – for the “new economy”…what is REAL…and what INFRASTRUCTURE is needed for PROGRESS…the shoulders to stand on…

    OBVIOUSLY, “numbers” worked over so as to exponentially and irrationally increase misery and poverty are what BANKSTERS have manufactured. Put in that reminder – the “thought for the day” – the 21st century began with the PERFECTION of increasing misery and poverty at nanosecond speed.

    Nihilistic hedonism is so over :-)

  152. Yes, I’m thinking the collapsed economy like the collapsed ecosystem in the gulf cannot be shown for the fear of panic. Now the SCOTUS decision on support of terrorists reminds me that my great grandpa many times removed, John Hart, a signer of the Declaration of Independence was declared a terrorist by the Crown and hunted down. Could that explain the public’s reluctance to get involved?

  153. Re: @ 3-D___It would bankrupt the company store…now we wouldn’t want that. Would we? Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “16 Tons” from the 50’s)

  154. Simon, Your “brag to the press on record” comment was uncorrect, unless the heresay of a “senior treasury official” counts. If you are going to say “on record”, then how ’bout a name?

    FWIW, i agree the administration is killing this, but going too far in lambasting them hurts your cause.

  155. Rosa Parks just looked at the “righteous” one who thought she knew HIS “rules” like he was the one who was nuts and stayed seated…

    Here’s the thing – if you don’t want to join the fun of operating in a “black market”, so to speak – ie. the real world without FED/Treasury paper, just home-made tracking paper, for now – sorta like a chicken for an MRI :-) – then you don’t have to, do you?

    As for SCOTUS – their whole written argument did NOT take into consideration that entire tapestry of the separation of church and state that Bush et al created. When Federal tax dollars go to “faith-based” initiatives in the USA –

    initiatives that can be construed as terroristic because of the random selection of an innocent individual(s) by the all-seeing e-HATERONIC eyeball of Criminal Inc – FOR PROFIT

    then there is cause for concern about SCOTUS rulings.

    Unlike Australia and UK which threw out Israeli diplomats for stealing their INNOCENT citizen’s passports and identities to go do a hit job,

    in the USA Today, the odds are that the innocent citizen(s) victimized by foreign government operatives

    would be “sacrificed” so that the secrets of Criminal Inc remain supremely hidden…

    Yes, in certain parts of the sea to shining sea USA continent – the pavlov training has worked very well – all are cowering under das boot of the “lobby”

    and let’s not forget 4 bullet holes in a 19 year old USA citizen’s head on a cargo ship taking CEMENT to Gaza…

    Four bullet holes over cement – how about that as a reason no one is doing anything about anything…?

  156. President Kennedy was highly regarded in his time not for numerous legislative victories but for what he tried to fight and what he stood for while president. What he represented was an American democratic ideal.

    Imagine the tremendous void if you woke up tomorrow without the existence of Barack Obama. Remember that the song, “He Was A Friend Of Mine,” was written by Bob Dylan as an epithet to John Kennedy, a man he did not meet.

    Let there be no need for looking back in regret. Criticize vigorously the compromises Obama has made but don’t forget to appreciate where we are because of him. Don’t forget we were the ones who looked beyond the “rock star” tag that media settled on simply because of a refusal to focus on real issues and the tangible need for a new way. Obama is a serious individual, a man of the people who is determined to give us that new way whatever the personal cost. He is here to inspire rather than seek cheap idolatry.

    Chris Mathews said it today. Obama has not yet found a level of “acceptance.” We are partially at fault. Why are we in such a rush to prove to our colleagues that we are, “smarter than, more progressive than, more courageous than,” Obama? Remember that this person is the one facing tremendous opposition every day and deserves acknowledgment, not charitable comments, for what he has chosen to confront and what is in his heart to achieve.

  157. Re: @ hermanas____Here’s a much “better” comtemporary story/song/video: “What’s Up” by “4-non blonds” – Google it…you’ll find “16 Tons’ video (Utube). PS. “A picture is worth a thousand words – a song is worthy of a lifetime memory – until deaf do we part”

  158. Nice try at “perception is reality”.

    Hard to swallow the purity of Obama’s heart for all the people in his generation who found a different way to earn some cash besides selling drugs.

    What do all the “elite” cadre of Nihilistic Hedonists (“political junkies”) have in common?

    Resume’s are thin on ever having held a REAL JOB that did not CONSUME, but produced.

    “Think outside the box.”

    Don’t fire the person because there has to be continuity in the mission that everyone from top to bottom involved in the mission do not “believe” that the mission will work in creating what is

    an undefined “victory”.

    Criminals are genetically inferior at “thinking” outside a box, in a box, without a box, etc.

    Timmy started out learning about “MICRO economies”.


    Fine. Jail labor is “charity”.

    Declaration of Independence 2010.

  159. Annie wrote:

    Nice try at “perception is reality”.

    Hard to swallow….”

    What A Flexible Yuan Means For The Economy

    3:00 AM (13 hours ago) – Roubini Global Economics – excerpts

    “Back in April, when we were piecing together our last quarterly outlook on China, we projected that China would begin to allow renminbi appreciation against the U.S. dollar around mid-year. …

    We are now left with the question of what the more flexible renminbi will mean heading forward.

    First, we have a new Strategy View,

    “Yuan-Upmanship: Implications for CNY and Global Markets,” examining the implications for currency traders.

    We also have a new Critical Issue, “How Significant is China’s Announcement of More Currency Flexibility?” which takes a broader look at the move in the context of the Chinese and global economies. Both these pieces are available exclusively for clients.

    Our general takeaway is that the increase in flexibility could help China manage price pressures and asset markets better, but any moves are likely to be gradual.

    It seems likely that the approach of the G20 meetings had something to do with Beijing’s timing—and some analysts have called it a clever stroke that is likely to shift attention away from China and toward the U.S. as delegates at the summit discuss global economic imbalances.

    We expect China to allow a modest and nominal appreciation against the USD of no more than 4% on an annual basis in the next year. Yet even though we expect gradualism and caution from the PBoC, we expect global markets—and particularly risk assets and proxies for China revaluation, especially in Emerging Market Asia—to react positively to the move in the short-term.

    Even if gradual, FX flexibility should not only facilitate more appreciation of the RMB against G3 currencies, but also aid in the external adjustment of other countries—especially those in EM Asia that supply China with both intermediate goods, commodities and some consumption goods.

    But China’s actions—not its announcement—will determine whether the increasing “flexibility” adds to or subtracts global aggregate demand.

    A change away from the almost-two-year-old U.S. dollar peg, implemented in mid-2008 as the U.S. financial crisis intensified and the dollar fell sharply, was widely expected as part of China’s exit strategy from crisis management.

    However, many market participants expected that the euro’s sharp fall against the dollar would delay a Chinese revaluation at least until July. The specifics remain uncertain, but the PBoC seems likely to return to the multi-currency basket, within a band, with a crawling peg regime of the type that prevailed from mid-2005 to mid-08 (the composition of the basket is undisclosed).

    Aside from political pressures ahead of the G20 summit, the regime change may be interpreted as a way to address the urgent need to stoke domestic demand in surplus countries (including China). This shift will be necessary in order to rebalance and sustain global growth, given that deficit countries are retrenching.

    However, we caution that greater flexibility in the CNY regime, especially if combined with a BBC of undisclosed or uncertain characteristics, could create more room for two-way spot FX movement against major currencies within the basket. The uncertainty could provide the PBoC greater discretion to manage the CNY’s real effective exchange rate, albeit at the cost of some autonomy in monetary policy. The longer-term effect could well be a paradoxical eventual depreciation against the USD, which would help offset the competitiveness losses from the recent sharp fall in the EUR. After all, the eurozone (EZ) is China’s largest export destination.

    Greater flexibility of China’s exchange rate is necessary for Chinese and global adjustment. An economy growing as fast as China’s needs tighter monetary conditions than a sluggish U.S. economy which continues to need monetary stimulus. Importing U.S. monetary policy limits the tools China has to promote domestic demand, forcing it to rely instead on financial repression to channel funds to increase production and reduce inflationary pressures. Chinese private consumption has continued to pick up, but allowing the RMB and thus Chinese purchasing power to appreciate is a pre-condition for Chinese and global growth. Macro-prudential regulations, including a shift away from policy based loans and a gradual increase in interest rates to reduce the transfers of Chinese household savings to corporations are even more important.

    Even if the Chinese authorities allow two-way movement against the dollar to reduce speculation, Chinese policies could support the U.S. Treasury market, commodities and risky assets more generally—especially if other EM countries might take a cue from China and allow only gradual depreciation.

    A sharp appreciation against the euro and dollar, without other policies to support Chinese consumption, could contribute to much slower global growth and higher inflation as higher Chinese production costs are transmitted to G10 consumers. China’s labor costs have already resumed the gradual upward grind that began in 2007 and 2008; demographics, labor unrest and militancy (strikes) and policies to develop rural areas suggest that they will continue to climb.

    This world could be one in which countries compete for a shrinking market share, putting risky assets under more pressure.”

  160. Fannie Mae cracks down on “Walk Aways”

    6/23/2010 04:00:00 PM – by CalculatedRisk on

    “Note: Earlier post on New Home sales: New Home Sales collapse to Record Low in May

    From Fannie Mae: Fannie Mae Increases Penalties for Borrowers Who Walk Away

    Fannie Mae (FNM/NYSE) announced today policy changes designed to encourage borrowers to work with their servicers and pursue alternatives to foreclosure.

    Defaulting borrowers who walk-away and had the capacity to pay or did not complete a workout alternative in good faith will be ineligible for a new Fannie Mae-backed mortgage loan for a period of seven years from the date of foreclosure. ”

  161. Ah so, the inscrutable Chinese :-) They’re surviving by gobbling up Africa – for “free”…

    Yes, I do understand why I am on THE “WHC” list

    (actually totally cut off from the virtual e-vine of made-up $$$ “wealth” – hence my focus on “free energy” – lightning bolts – ha!:-) – it CAN be done)…

    I only take up arms, so to speak, against the psychos who use “religion” as an excuse for WAR

    to get ahead in the material world – hey, we all have our pet peeves.

    From Greedspam on – they DO worship their own made-up “money” god…it’s sick…The Supreme Being…

    The tilt hasn’t been identified in their rube goldberg contraption – but everyone is forging on to keep it moving without realizing it tilted towards depravity.

    In a world of 7 billion people, you can only spend so much on a WAR to get your greedy scum bag hands on some expensive booty (profit).

    Laying claim (AKA stealing via shape shifting “mortgages”) to the entire infrastructure of the USA in order to continue to keep paying yourself profits when the cost of war is too high to supply booty profit, then “eliminating” an unnatural 700K LIFE MAINTENANCE jobs per month, then BS-ing about it for 2 YEARS on TV and immortalizing the f-cku in LEGISLATION

    – seriously, now, how CAN that not be an act of WAR against your own citizens?

    We need to win the REAL war at home and then we’ll “win” against the joy stick in hand young punk NIHILIST ghosts of the internet we’re chasing as “terrorists”…BinLaden died in the earthquake in Pakistan along with 70,000 other people… tada! There’s your BIG SECRET…

    Grow the poppies in Utah – it’s “cheaper”…I thought Obambi was a hard core believer in “cheap”?


  163. Regulation is a negative operational tax—”thou shall not, except for.” Every practitioner tries to create an “except for” category to gain a competitive advantage. That is why regulated industries tend towards oligopolies. It is also why the reforms tend to be toxic and self-defeating.

    Stephen A. Boyko

    Author of “We’re All Screwed: How Toxic Regulation Will Crush the Free Market System” and a series of articles on capital market governance.

  164. Hate to break the news, but there already was a HUGE [size of NJ, from what I read] dead zone in the GOM, prior to the BP problem. Years of nitrogen rich water coming down the Mississippi saw to that.

    Additionally, for years, there have been oyster bed areas off limits due to cholera. Believe 20/20 or 60 Minutes did a show on this pre-Katrina.

  165. Stepehen A. Boyko wrote:

    “Author of We’re All Screwed:”

    The solutions are as unique as the individuals. My 2-cents.

  166. Take the time to look into the CRA, started under Carter, accelerated under Clinton, and continued under the ‘compassionate conservative’ Bush.

    Also, read up on McCain’s effort [2003, I believe] and the Bush admin to rein in Fannie and Freddy. Bwaney Fwank and his cohorts blocked any and all efforts to rein them in.

  167. Jun 25 2010

    “The world faces challenges and uncertainty these days like perhaps never before in modern history. Broken insolvent banking systems match the insolvent homeowners living in despair but with newfound hope of realigning their own balance sheets from simply not paying home mortgages in large numbers.

    Over a quarter million Bank of America home mortgage holders have not made a loan payment in a year, yet still occupy rent-free dwellings. The European sovereign debt has shaken the entire government financial structures, offering a preview of what comes to other nations. In its wake, a fire is lit under gold as a recognized safe haven asset that has no debt attachment or counter-party risk. Government budgets are in shambles throughout the Western world. Mexico can safely be called a failed state. Indeed, crisis has become the new norm. Indeed, stimulus and extreme liquidity buttresses have become the new norm. Indeed, sugar high on perceptions after stimulus has become the new norm. Indeed, war has become the new norm to define peace. It makes sense that restructure of the global monetary system would evoke a powerful response by the upper echelon bankers. Their response so far has been diverse attempts to preserve the system, combined with weak gestures on actual innovative concepts. Take for instance, the Straw Man built of the Intl Monetary Fund and its primary vehicle, the Special Drawing Rights, the equivalent of a rusty corrosive chopshop car with sputtering engine but a spiffy new paint job.

    Against this backdrop, the global monetary system is clearly broken, and increasingly recognized as broken. Political and banking leaders have been working on solutions. In Europe they have been focusing on extreme solutions, but in the United States they have been focusing on more extreme measures to preserve the current system. The one main principle to recall about bubbles and Ponzis is that an accelerated supply of money is required to maintain even a constant size of the destructive condition. My firm point has been for two years that the first nations to abandon the USDollar as the foundation for their monetary, banking, financial, and economic systems will emerge as leaders in the next global chapter.”

  168. The United States is too big to fail, apparently? The conventional thinking is that we will escape collapse because other countries can’t afford to let that happen, given their tremendous dollar reserves. I am not buying this mantra. The recoveryless recovery is just that. A house of cards. The U.S. economy is skating on thin ice. A massive loss of confidence that would trigger a corresponding run on the banks is all it would take to collapse this pyramid scheme. And it can all happen in a flash. The situation is NOT under control, and the American government knows it. It may be time to churn out more monopoly money again. How long will that illusion work?

  169. Friday, Jun. 25, 2010 7:54PM –

    “The world is facing deep structural challenges yet its leaders are stuck in a short-term, cyclical mindset,” Mr. El-Erian, whose company operates the world’s biggest bond fund, wrote in a commentary on Friday.

    “Until they break out of it we will see little more than fruitless discussions, national policy flip-flops and a troubling lack of global policy harmonization.”

  170. Micromanagement of tactics for political “gotchas” rather than strategic “got-its” for real economic change. As long as capital market policy conflates “risk” and uncertainty, bureaucrats will get by changing commas into semicolons.

  171. Everything, as usual, is on auto-pilot. Everyone assumes it’s all under control by our ‘leaders.’ The fact that financial reform has failed demonstrates that our nation is addicted to its casino economy and the tools of big business (the political/legal establishment) have decided to middle-finger the global economy with the mantra that the United States cannot be a failed state because it is TOO BIG TO FAIL. In the words of Franz Kafka: “The world-order is based upon a lie.”

  172. If anything, Simon has bent over backwards trying to retain some faith in the present administration. Obama was elected because people believed he would represent their interests, as opposed to the typical big business interests. Anyone can see that the voters have been massively BETRAYED by this administration. Some people obviously will never get the clue because they will forever be brainwashed by the masterful propaganda campaign which preceded Obama’s election. However, the appointments Obama made to his cabinet were ample proof that there would be no real change. Well, except for the fact that Bush never staged photo-ops at hamburger joints.

  173. Financial reform was a power grab bought by buying rent-seeking bureaucrats and to be paid for by consumers. Other than the addition of 2,000 pages of code, an additional level of bureaucracy, and more rent-seeking bureaucrats, what is new and different than before? It gets down to execution, if you not going to enforce regs what good are they?

    Regulators are ill-trained (almost exclusively deterministic accountants, attorneys, and economist) for indeterminate underlying investment environment and ill-positioned with two-dimensional metrics in a three-dimensional world. Regulators are using maps when they should be using GPS. (Note: Per Kurowski makes similar comments).

    If you want change—advocate for real change, you need to go beyond cosmetic “word smithing” by changing commas to semicolons for the one-size-fits-all deterministic regime.
    • If there is innovation, there is complexity.
    • If there is complexity, there is uncertainty.
    You cannot govern uncertainty with the same metrics and mind-set that you use to govern risk. Most would agree that Citi’s failed financial supermarket concept was flawed. If you cannot cross-sell, you cannot cross regulate—non-correlative information problem. For effective and efficient governance, you need to segment regulation into predictable, probabilistic, and uncertain regimes that correlate with the randomness of the underlying economic environment.

    Get over the political “gotchas” and get with the “got-its.”

  174. After seeing the way the Obama administration has managed healthcare, financial reform, and the ‘BRITISH’ petroleum ongoing epic disaster, I have been left in a state of absolute shock and awe. We are in good hands with President Obama. Believe it.

  175. Well, I don’t understand this. President Obama has already taken credit for the compromise legislation that will bring true-as-obama financial reform. This is a big win for him! Soon another 30b will be approved for the war adventure in Afghanistan and additional funding for the noble campaign in Iraq too!! (We all know that the weapons of mass destruction Sadam was hiding are still there.). It is highly unlikely that Obama will get us out of either of these wars. Instead, the administration talks about scaling back or drawing-down. All this is wonderful news for the American people who can’t wait to see their country become a failed state. Yes, it’s true, we will win in Afghanistan, just like we did in Iraq. No wonder so many on this blog see gloom and doom on the horizon. It is a stupendous understatement to merely say that America is on the wrong track? We’re so far off the track it’s pathetic.

  176. At this point, the U.S. economy is an extremely fragile thing. It’s a national security threat. If the U.S. economy goes, the global economy is pretty much wrecked too. It’s enough to make any sane person lose sleep. We could get hit with a major terrorist attack, either physical or cyber in the near future. Source:

  177. Safety Net Frays in Spain, as Elsewhere in Europe

    June 27, 2010 – NY Times

    MADRID — “This was the deal that Gema Díaz, 34, thought she had made: When she took a job with this city as a purchasing agent 12 years ago, she knew her salary would be low.

    But the income would be reliable. She could expect steady raises, manageable hours, six weeks of vacation, a good pension and the usual benefits — from free health care to subsidized housing.

    Now, as Spain embarks on a range of austerity measures, the careful math of Ms. Díaz’s life is coming undone. Her salary is being cut. Her pension does not look so secure. Even the day care for her second child — due in August — will cost more.

    “There can be no more illusions about getting help from the state,” said Ms. Díaz, at home on a recent evening in a charmless, government owned complex on the outskirts of the city. “We talk about it all the time. We talk about it with our friends. We talk about it with our family. The fear is the worst part.”

    Hers is a story repeated across Europe, fueling the protests and strikes that have tied up airports, blocked highways and, in Greece, even turned deadly.” – excerpt

  178. Krugmans article today touches on this sad reality. Our socalled leaders globally are systemically robbing and pillaging the poor and middleclass to feed the predatorclass, the superrich. Oligarchs rule the world. The predatorclass is actively working to enslave, or disappear the rest of the population. At least Europeans have the intelligence and courage to join organize “…protests and strikes that have tied up airports, blocked highways”, somnambulent and ignorant America goes quietly like moths to the flame. There is a certain conflict fast approaching pitting thehaves, against thehavenots, – the predatorclass, against the poor and middleclass. The poor and middleclass do not, and did not seek the conflict. This inevitable war is, and has been ruthlessly prosecuted upon us. We will fight these battles one way or another. Governments that rob and pillage the citizenry to fatten the offshore accounts of the predatorclass are an enemy of the people. Leaders that immunize, shield, and cloak the crimes and abuses of the predatorclass with one side of their forked tongue, and then issue brutal proclamations and punishments on the poor and middleclass with the other slithering side, are enemies of the people.

    {“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”.}

    Get locked, cocked, and ready to rock poor and middleclass Americans, because the predatorclass is bent on enslaving or eliminating all us, and succeeding in the enterprise.

    We may all go down anyway, – but let it not be quietly, without our voices being heard and recognized.

  179. Americans still think they live in a democracy and that elections matter. Actually the vast majority work so hard just to keep going that they don’t have time to develop real political consciousness.

  180. With real unemployment hovering near 17%, a double-dip recession all but certain, and quite possible depression/collapse looming, most Americans have adopted a corresponding outlook. It looks like we will never get out of Afghanistan or Iraq at this point. Not only did financial reform fail, but the economy is failing and the government’s only response is to print more money and talk to Dimon’s people. No wonder people are abandoning stocks in droves. It does look like the trends forecast of LEAP 2020 for the second half of this year are deadon.

  181. $1.2 Million To Ensure Sandwiches At Summit Are Safe

    June 9, 2010 – Toronto Star – excerpt

    Health officers to keep watchful eye on food prep and procedures.

    Ottawa – “Protecting the world’s leaders from eavesdroppers and germs at the summit will cost Canadians at least $-4-million.

    While policing costs for the G8 and G20 summits will cost $1-Billion, Canadians are on the hook for a host of other related costs….”

    My dear wife’s suggestion of holding this G8/G20 carnival on an aircraft carrier in the middle of ocean makes increasing financial sense… the military accommodations have already been paid for. Most of us will all have to bite the bullet and rough-it at some point. Lead by example.

  182. Tyrone wrote:

    “Americans still think they live in a democracy and that elections matter.”

    An astute an eloquent observation, but it extends beyond your borders.

  183. House Passes Homebuyer Tax Credit Closing Extension

    6/29/2010 07:03:00 PM – by CalculatedRisk

    From Reuters: U.S. House backs homebuyer tax credit extension

    “This is bad policy … and the Senate will probably pass it tomorrow.”

  184. “The collapse of the financial system as we know it is real and the crisis is far from over. Indeed, we have just entered Act II of the drama.” George Soros

  185. Biting quote Will T. Buckle up for Act III. Soros is always ahead of the curve. The fascists and pathological liars in the gop have put themselves into a pickle. Whining about deficits, and bruting austerity measures is certain to take the wind out of the feeble socalled recovery, and knowing -as we all do beyond doubt – that the gop is deep in bed with the oligarchs, – what is left to them – and us? The oligarchs cannot survive without bountiful largess from the government heaped on the backs of Amerika’s poor and middleclass who are already hanging on by gossamer threads to shattered dreams and hollow hope.


    The opportunity was there to right these terrible wrongs, and hold accountable, those predatorclass individuals and oligarchs responsible for ushering the entire world to the brink of economic collapse. Bruting complex PONZI schemes as getrichquick products for the predatorclass alone has proved unsustainable. Yet, – the “den of vipers and thieves” on Wall Street returned to the same sordid games buttressed by $14Trillion in taxpayer funded and burdened government largess. Now the taxpayer is in deep ca ca, the government technically insolvent save for the Feds ability to simply conjure cash from out myst, and all the kings horses, and all the kings men, cannot put this predatory criminal house of cards back together again. Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

  186. Another warning along the same lines….

    Editor’s Note: Last week, we aired an interview with economists Nassim Taleb and Nouriel Roubini. Afterward, the two agreed to answer some viewer questions on this site. Unfortunately, due to an unexpected scheduling conflict, Nouriel Roubini was unable to participate in the forum. Nassim Taleb’s answers are posted below — he answered in what he called his “aphoristic and laconic style.”


    Stephan A. Sahl:” Is there any realistic chance that this country and the rest of the world will be able to avoid another catastrophic crisis in the next few years, based on sovereign and other forms of debt?

    Nassim Taleb: “There is little chance we can avoid ruin unless we start lowering debt immediately and get into discipline.”

    Anonymous: “At the end of your 6/15/10 piece regarding the previous economics predictions of Messrs. Roubini and Taleb, they asserted that the federal government must now undertake austerity measures to reduce the national debt, rather than maintaining or even increasing federal stimulus measures. I would like them to respond to Paul Krugman’s characterization of arguments in favor of austerity as being unsupported by any economic model and, in fact, quite dangerous to what little economic recovery we’ve seen at this point. As a reference, I would point them, and the Newshour, to Dr. Krugman’s recent NYT Magazine article entitled “The Pain Caucus.”

    Among his primary points are that, with interest rates at the zero bound and no signs of significant economic activity in any sector, only the federal government is in a position to introduce sufficient additional demand into the economy, and only through spending supported by borrowing. He points out, however, that with interest rates so low, it is actually quite favorable to the federal government to borrow. Finally, he explains that the best way to repay existing and newly incurred debt is through a growing economy, which at this point can only be generated through additional federal stimulus.

    I would very much like to hear the gentlemen’s responses, including just what model and research it is that they’re using as the basis for the arguments in favor of the pain caucus.”

    Nassim Taleb: “Again, this is too much of the wrong narrative. Forget growth, worry about stability.”

    Hugos: What (else) needs to happen so that China and Japan start refusing to finance the U.S. government deficit? Greece is only a small part of Europe, but California is big part of the USA — how is California’s deficit going to end?

    Nassim Taleb: Deficits always end in one way.”

  187. Federal Reserve prepares for all-out MONSTER money printing marathon.

    “We cannot stress enough how strongly we believe that a cliff-edge may be around the corner, for the global banking system (particularly in Europe) and for the global economy. Think the unthinkable,” he said in a note to investors. ”

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