Greece now, US soon

Geithner says, wait a minute, American banks have made huge billion-dollar–maybe, for all we know, a trillion-dollar bet that the Greeks will repay. They’ve made derivative plays, they’ve made cross-party insurance, and American banks would lose money. Now, if there’s a choice between American banks losing $1 and Europe going into neo-feudalism for a generation, Geithner will support the $1.

Obama's Bushism

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I almost feel naïve for being so angry at President Obama’s betrayal of his campaign promises regarding taxes. I had never harbored much hope that he actually intended to enact the reforms that his supporters expected – not after he appointed the most right-wing of the Clintonomics gang, Larry Summers, then Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke and other Bush neoliberals. But there is something so unfair and wrong that I could not prevent myself from waking up early Tuesday morning to think through the consequences of President Obama’s sellout in the years to come. Contrary to his pretense of saving the economy, his action will intensify debt deflation and financial depression, paving the way for a long-term tax shift off wealth onto labor. In achieving a giveaway that Democrats never would have ...

Mr. Obama’s Most Recent “2%” Sellout is his Worst Yet

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Now that President Obama is almost celebrating his bipartisan willingness to renew the tax cuts for the super-rich enacted under George Bush ten years ago, it is time for Democrats to ask themselves how strongly they are willing to oppose an administration that looks like Bush-Cheney III. Is this what they expected by Mr. Obama’s promise to rise above partisan politics – by ruling on behalf of Wall Street, now that it is the major campaign backer of both parties? It is a reflection of how one-sided today’s class war has become that Warren Buffet has quipped that “his” side is winning without a real fight being waged. No gauntlet has been thrown down over the trial balloon that the president and his advisor David Axelrod have sent up over the ...

America’s China Bashing: A Compendium of Junk Economics

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It is traditional for politicians to blame foreigners for problems that their own policies have caused. And in today’s zero-sum economies, it seems that if America is losing leadership position, other nations must be the beneficiaries. Inasmuch as China has avoided the financial overhead that has painted other economies into a corner, nationalistic U.S. politicians and journalists are blaming it for America’s declining economic power. I realize that balance-of-payments accounting and international trade theory are arcane topics, but I promise that by the time you finish this article, you will understand more than 99% of U.S. economists and diplomats striking this self-righteous pose. The dollar’s double standard gives America an international free ride For over a century, central banks have managed exchange rates by raising or lowering the interest rate. Countries ...

The Big Bank Job: The Insanity of the $700 Billion Giveaway

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Counterpunch The banksters’ plan now is for icing on the cake – to take Mr. Paulson’s $700 billion and run. It’s not a “bailout of the financial system.” It’s as giveaway – to insiders, to sell out all their bad bets. Companies across the board will get rid of their bad mortgages, and also their bad car loans, furniture time payments, credit-card loans, student loans – all the debts that any competent actuary could have told them never could have been paid in the first place. This is not what Treasury Secretary Paulson is acknowledging, and shame on him for it. Last Friday, Sept., he was joined by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke singing in unison an advertising jingle for America’s new kleptocracy that rings so false that Congress and the American public ...

A Cautionary Tale About Politicos and Financiers: Mr. Paulson and the New Yazoo Land Scandal

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Counterpunch Present discussions of the mortgage mess are lapsing into an unreal world. Advocates of the $700 bailout are now rounding up a choir of voices to proclaim that the problem is simply a lack of liquidity. This kind of problem, we are told, can be solved “cleanly” (that is, with no Congressional add-ons to protect anyone except the major Bush Administration campaign contributors) by the Federal reserve “pumping credit” into the system by buying securities that have no market when “liquidity dries up.” What is wrong with this picture? The reality is that there is much too much liquidity in the system. That is why the yield on U.S. Treasury bills has fallen to just 0.16 percent – just one sixth of one percent! This is what happens when there is ...

The Paulson-Bernanke Bank Bailout: Will the Cure be Worse than the Disease?

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Counterpunch Saturday’s $700 billion junk mortgage bailout is the largest and worst giveaway since a corrupt Congress gave land grants to the railroad barons a century and a half ago. If it goes through, it will shape the coming century by giving finance unprecedented power over debtors – homebuyers, industry, state and local government, and the federal government as well. But what threatens to be even worse is the government’s move to let the financial sector make even higher, unprecedented gains by working its way out of negative equity to “make taxpayers whole” by repaying the government’s bailout by bleeding the economy at large. Anticipating congressional capitulation in this license to engage in predatory credit, the latest Sunday evening surprise is that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s own firm, Goldman Sachs, is to ...

Financial Bailout: America's Own KleptocracyThe largest transformation of America's Financial System since the Great Depression

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Global Research Nobody expected industrial capitalism to end up like this. Nobody even saw it evolving in this direction. Marxists saw industrialists growing into giant trusts and depriving workers of the wages needed to buy their output, and the post-1980 era of corporate raiding has indeed seen downsizing and outsourcing of the labor force. But the companies being raided – or defending themselves against raids – are themselves being loaded down with debt. As Marxists would say, the parasites have parasites too. Followers of Henry George saw landlords as gobbling up the economic surplus in the form of land rent, and ownership of land and natural resources has indeed grown rather than shrunk even as economies have been industrialized. But real estate, fuel and mining, along with basic infrastructure monopolies all ...

The Next Big Bail Outs: State, Local and Private Pensions

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Counterpunch Early on the morning of July 30, President Bush signed the act that the Senate had passed at a special session the previous Saturday. The new “housing act” (a more honest title would have been the “Financial Bailout Act of 2008”) authorizes the Treasury and Federal Reserve Board to provide unlimited credit to the mortgage packagers and insurers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and infuse $300 billion of new lending power to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and localities to support the “real estate market.” This is a euphemism for saving mortgage lenders from the traditional response to falling property prices – defaults and walk-aways. The act’s press release claims that its purpose is “to provide mortgage relief for 400,000 struggling U.S. homeowners and to stabilize financial markets.” But its real ...

Rewarding the Bubble's Enablers: Why the Bail Out of Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae is Bad Economic Policy

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A Counterpunch Special Report I am writing this article about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while sitting in the Queens Botanical Garden. This was not my plan today. The central air conditioning in my apartment broke down six weeks ago and still has not been fixed. (It’s a nice condominium building, but accidents happen.) It is over 90 degrees outside, and nearly 100 as a result of the greenhouse effect in my apartment. Yesterday I took refuge in the Forest Hills Public Library, but it is closed on Sunday. One of the few libraries near public transport that normally is open on Sunday is in Flushing. So I went there to write the final draft describing the past week’s financial turmoil. Unfortunately, when I got to the Flushing library, a lady explained ...