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      Alright, so Germany has now introduced a zero interest bond. That means, given inflation, people will get back less effective money than they started with. At this point, outside the US, the average interest rate is negative. As Stoller pointed out, that means that people with money can’t figure out anything productive to do with […]
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Things that make you go hmmm, episode 3

Stop me if you’ve heard this one already.  James Kwak at Baseline Scenario found this nugget buried in Monica Langley’s silly piece at the WSJ that Cinie dispatched yesterday:

Some bankers say they turned the conversations into complaints about the antibonus crusade consuming Capitol Hill. Some have begun “slow-walking” the information previously sought by Treasury for stress-testing financial institutions, three bankers say, and considered seeking capital from hedge funds and private-equity funds so they could return federal bailout money, thereby escaping federal restrictions.

James follows up with:

Ummm . . . if they could get capital from hedge funds and private-equity funds, wouldn’t they have done so already? And they are now resisting the stress tests? Simon is usually more negative about banks’ recent behavior than I am, but I’m catching up.

Veddy interesting.  So, the thing that bankers fear most in the world is ceding control to more responsible authorities.  Sounds like my 13 year old.  Let me see if I can wrap my head around this:  Banks come to government with hat in hands looking for handout.  The could have gone to private investors but didn’t.  Why?  Personal experience suggests that investors are calling in their capital and getting out of adventurous situations in areas like biotech.  One can only assume the investors are hurting for cash themselves or are saving it for some other purpose.  But, nevermind.  The bankers go first to the government for cash.  If the bank is in really bad shape, it would have to go to the dragon lady with the scary parts, Sheila Bair, at FDIC.  But then she would want to take it over, look into its underwear drawer and split it up.  So, they go to Timmy Geithner instead because they know that Geithner and Summers act like Sheila doesn’t have a brain in her head.

But then the public has to get involved.  It gets its knickers in a twist about some ‘bonuses’ and Congress begins to act like *maybe* they should mediate the situation to make sure their constituents don’t take them out in the next election.  And Geithner goes before Congress and asks for Treasury to have more control over non-bank entities.  It’s getting uncomfortable for the bankers.  If he gets what he wants, Geithner might be able to break up the banks in some backdoor way.  Now, suddenly, they don’t want no stupid government money after all.  I still don’t trust Geithner, Summers and Barry to do what is in the taxpayer’s best interest but you’ve got to wonder what it is that the bankers have to hide that they would turn down such a sweet deal to keep the government out of their stuff.  Fraud?  Embezzlement?  Gross irregularities and an Enron like complex of specter holding companies?  Well, yeah, they’re probably guilty of something.  Trillions of dollars don’t go missing overnight without leaving some kind of trace.

Let’s follow the money.   I love to watch the bankers squirm.

In other news:

Jake DeSantis quits AIG and sends his resignation letter to the NYTimes.  I *almost* feel sorry for Mr. DeSantis.  He says the financial services unit he was in was not responsible for the Credit Default Swaps.  He claims that he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth and that he agreed to take the job with AIG for an annual salary of $1, assuming the bonuses would cover his 12-14 hour days of work.

But then I thought, he couldn’t have been totally ignorant of what was going on with the CDS’s and how investors were leveraging themselves and the rest of the market into oblivion.  After all, he had every expectation that he would profit from it in some way.  Isn’t there a Good Samaritan law in NY or some kind of misprision thingy? (Lawyers, jump in at any time before I hurt myself)

In any case, it’s only a bonus to Mr. DeSantis, who says he can afford to weather the storm.  And I feel a lot less guilty after reading this part of his letter:

That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.

Ahhh, spoken like a true Republican deregulator.  Government is always the enemy even when it’s paying your salary.  Pffft! There goes my sympathy for Mr. DeSantis.  It was OK to receive taxpayer funds for the bonus as long as the taxpayer wasn’t angry about it.  But now that they’re catching on, Mr. DeSantis prefers to give the money to his own charitable causes, like the Mashie Niblick Save the Ruff Fund,  than back to the taxpayers from whence it came.

Mr. DeSantis, the government *is* the taxpayers.  You are in this uncomfortable position because the taxpayers are finally waking up to this fact and putting their foot down about the unconscionable behavior of finance institutions that lost our hard earned trilions of dollars in savings.  The taxpayers, including yours truly, are faithfully paying our taxes to the government so that it can administer unemployment benefits and medicaid and CHIPS money to the people suffering from the global downturn.  I would appreciate it if you spared us the indignant outrage and give the money back to the taxpayers who paid for it so it can be put to better use.

Really, Mr. DeSantis, you have no idea what hard is until you become one of the little people and you ain’t there yet.  As my Navy dad used to say, “Tell it to the chaplin”.


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107 Responses

  1. first!

  2. When I hear the statement,

    considered seeking capital from hedge funds and private-equity funds so they could return federal bailout money,

    I, too, am reminded of my children. Whenever, restrictions were placed on them, I always heard

    “Nevermind!!”

    Which led me to believe they must not need what they thought they needed after all. ANd if they don’t need it as bad as they led us to believe, then what the hell is all the fuss about?

    • Yup. My daughter once decided she could not LIVE without a particular designer jacket. She was freezing, she was deprived, and needed a new coat (that one) so very badly! Well, she did need a coat, and I planned on providing her one, so told her this: I’ll give you X dollars, which is more than sufficient to buy a very nice coat. If you want the overpriced designer one, you can make up the difference out of YOUR money. Suddenly she didn’t HAVE to have that one after all. She got very budget conscious very fast once it wasn’t going to be a freebie.

      • I always found it amazing that when it was time for back to school shopping. My money was spent at Abercrombie and their money (that they earned) was spent at TJ Maxx.

        It is amazing how quickly people learn that it is easier to spend someone else’s money than your own.

        • My mom was smart about it. She hated going shopping with me and my two sisters for school clothes. She would have us go pick out our clothes, pay half and put it on layaway. She would get them out of layaway before school started. Therefore she wasn’t stressed by the three of us and we didn’t go overboard on the clothes because we paid for half.

  3. So I didn’t watch last night. Too many important things to do, like 1) laundry, 2) watch anything on cable to avoid Teleprompter Jesus and 3) hang with my family.

    Interesting bit on another blog, I’m kind of wondering what this is all about:
    “Big Guy said almost nothing, but was also able to slap Israel around, …”

    You know that only thing that TJ did right was to appoint Hillary to SoS. But he can’t leave well enough alone and let her do what she does best, lead.

    Speaking of Hillary, some cable news station was referring to the mess in Mexico and how HRC was on it. They showed some footage of Hillary on a cellphone walking to a meeting with her entourage in tow. Well, she looks FABULOUS! I mean fa-bu-lous. In charge, rested and rocking a slimer, smarter pantsuit. Thank goodness she’s our SoS.

  4. Great article here.

    Our press corps has discovered an important scoop: Rich people approve of using taxpayer money to help rich people.

    Immediately after the Obama administration unveiled its cunning plan to help the titans of Wall Street avoid the hit that should result from their bad decisions, members of our national press corps fanned out across the land to ask investment bankers, hedge-fund managers and stock traders whether Obama’s plan went far enough in lining their pockets with taxpayer cash.

    Setting the tone for the rest of our media, CNBC dutifully dubbed President Barack Obama’s plan a potential “game-changer” because it got a big thumbs-up from people like Quincy Krosby, the chief investment strategist at the Hartford Financial Services Group. Krosby said that the investment community’s response to the plan will likely be “positive,” although she cautioned that the government would have to provide “written guarantees” that it wouldn’t do anything silly — such as, say, heavily taxing the undeserved bonuses of executives living on corporate welfare.

    Politico’s Eamon Javers similarly declared that Geithner had “cleared the bar” with his new bailout scheme because it had received an “important endorsement from the Financial Services Roundtable,” which deemed the government’s plan to help Big Finance artificially inflate toxic assets above their market value a home run. Who would have thought? Similarly, Javers discovered that the CEO of a hedge-fund trade group — whose members stand to make a killing by using government cash to subsidize and insure their purchase of the assets — also thought the plan was a swell idea.

    There was some trouble in paradise, however, as Javers also reported that a few members of the investment community opposed the plan because it didn’t do enough to benefit the banks. Patriarch Partners CEO Lynn Tilton told Javers that while she was pleased to see the government willing to pay the banks cash for their worthless assets, she was worried that banks would not “share in the upside” if their worthless assets ever somehow regained their value.

    Read the rest here: http://www.alternet.org/workplace/133246/brain-dead_economic_reporting:_if_wall_street_approves_of_obama’s_plan,_it_must_be_a_winner!/

  5. Where’s fuzzy? I see the anti-gay ordinance in Gainsville was defeated! Yay!

    http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2009/03/gainesville-florida-voters-reject-anti.html

  6. ahh but the really significant part of his statement was that he didn’t want to see that money
    “disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s (snip) budget.”

    An insider telling us what is going on at AIG. With that I can sympathize and in this case I agree -if the the government is just going to give most of the money back to the bankers lest give to those that need it instead.

  7. Last year, during the first “over the weekend billions of dollars infusion” to AIG, I remember reading that AIG might have needed 4 B , but the Government simply gave them 84 B because no one looked at the books. Who knows what they “needed” . The Bankers mistake was to keep coming and coming back to the cookie jar…. that will get shit noticed eventually . But it’s human nature to keep coming until your hand is slapped.

  8. These posts this am on the bank bailout, health care and mandatory national service are pretty interesting. But to tell you the truth I really am a little encouraged to see the health care insurance firms move decidedly toward a national uhc environment if it is mandatory. I think it has to be mandatory and I think the government option for those who are unemployed, disabled etc is at least a bottom line. Having the government option available to all might be ideal but we have spent so long not getting uhc that if this was the sticky wicket I could live with it. As far as I know, the government option for those who can not afford to buy a plan would still be there. As for the banks etc., I think we are really kidding ourselves if we do not recognize that this thing goes way beyond the banks. The fact that China has now emerged with banks in the ranks of the 10 largest in the world when it used to have none in those ranks and the US has lost it’s positions tells you that we are on the verge of losing big time. On national service—I do not have a problem with having a national service program where you can volunteer and as a result get college tuition paid or get other benefits. As long as this does not replace access to existing minimum benefits, I am ok. I think a big issue here may be a little different. Having worked in schools, I know that you can not place volunteers effectively without incurring some costs. Free labor is not exactly free and it is also not exactly dependable. Some AmeriCorps volunteers are exceptional; some are not. CA has a program for job training for unemployed and high school drop out youth—the CA Conservation Corps—they are used in fire and earthquake emergencies and their service can be remarkable. But the program also suffers from the problems that bring so many inner city youth to drop out and be unemployed in the first place. So my take on this national service corps is that to date there has been a lot of bashing it here but little or no presentation of just what is in this bill. It almost seems like that if it’s an Obama thing it has to be bad. Since Republicans are lining up behind it, I wonder how true the mandatory part really is. I also wonder to what extent it involves service to religious organizations since that would bring in Orrin Hatch but I would have trouble with government supporting or rewarding volunteer service that includes service to religious organizations.

    • But, Jangles as the Insurance companies see it WE will be required to buy their insurance product and the only restriction they’re under is that they can’t raise the rates because we’re already sick. They can raise rates for any other reason in the world.

      It does not address the issue of true affordability. Customers will be stuck with HUGE deductables and high rates.

      Truly Universal Health Care can’t be tied to Private Profits.

      • Additionally, as long as insurance is provided by employers, you are a slave to your employer. How many people are staying in jobs they hate just because they desperately need insurance coverage?

        There is also the problem with state insurance regulatory agencies. Each state determines what items must be covered in an insurance policy to be offered in that state. In other words, an insurance policy provided in Illinois may require coverage of pre-natal care while Iowa’s regulations may not require that coverage.

    • As for the banks etc., I think we are really kidding ourselves if we do not recognize that this thing goes way beyond the banks. The fact that China has now emerged with banks in the ranks of the 10 largest in the world when it used to have none in those ranks and the US has lost it’s positions tells you that we are on the verge of losing big time.

      Yep, this marks the entrance of China as a World Financial Power into the global system.

      These things are never easy and can be fraught with risks of instability and disjunctures. In particular China has already altered the global division of economic labour, and has become increasingly integrated at a technological and financial level.

      Although there is a school of thought which claims that war is an universal panacea for economic woes, (was it FDR or WW2 which ended the Great Depression?), many historians also believe that decades of playing the global policeman have weakened the economic underpinnings of US hegemony itself.

      In particular the US has lost the moral high ground. Reports of American adoption of torture, shocked the world.

      The failure of Lehman bros – a decision seen by many observers abroad as ideologically motivated, and as unnecessarily putting the established financial system at risk was another no-no.

      However , what I am sure is the worst thing yet,-is the bundling up of toxic waste intotriple A securities, and selling them off to the rest of the world for good money.

      Like Dakini said, the only way out of this and to convince foreign hard nosed bankers, that the US is sincere in its wish to reform its own system, would be to go thru the books carefully and with precision, eliminating one by one each toxic waste.

      Otherwise the whole US financial system will simply lose its credibility.

    • So my take on this national service corps is that to date there has been a lot of bashing it here but little or no presentation of just what is in this bill.

      The full text and status of H.R.1388 is at the Library of Congress Thomas system.

      My take after reading the bill: A centralized system will have branches in elementary and secondary schools. The program will be incorporated into existing classes. Funding will be tied to compliance.

      I anticipate busing or the creation of camps so that “citizens of the United States, regardless of age, income, GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION, or disability” can participate. Program participants will not have employee rights.

      “Service-learning is a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency” in a “Youth Engagement Zone.”

      The three “Required National Service Corps” are the Clean Energy Corps, Education Corps, and Healthy Futures Corps (medical). Yet “organizations that provide or promote abortion services, including referral for such services” cannot participate, nor can any “organizations that are co-located on the same premises” as the abortion provider/referrer. A “participant in an approved national service position” cannot assist the abortion provider/referrer. Or be assisted by same?

      “The Corporation for National and Community Service shall conduct a study to determine the effectiveness of a centralized electronic citizenship verification system which would allow the Corporation to share employment eligibility information with the Department of Education in order to reduce administrative burden and lower costs for member programs.”

      “The information collected and reported under this section for participants ages 18 and older shall include age, gender, race, ethnicity, annual income, employment status, disability status, veteran status, marital status, educational attainment, and household size, type, and income.”

      • There is a National volonteer system which works pretty well over here in Italy. It was started as part of the anti-military draft movement. Young men who were drafted could choose to do 2 years civil volunteering instead. Now the draft has been abolished and National civil volonteering is only one year long.

        My son did it -he ended up working in an ancient local library electronically cataloguing 19th century agrarian mags, and doing on the ground research into local watermills. However, here volonteers are paid a minimum for their half day services-430euros a month, which is nice for students.

        But volonteering has to be very well organised in order to be successful.

        • I wish I thought the GIVE Act was so benign and not ripe for exploitation.

          The Corporation, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, may […] pay for the Federal share of–

          (1) planning and building the capacity […] to implement service-learning programs that are based principally in elementary and secondary schools, including–

          (A) providing professional developement for teachers, supervisors, personnel from community-based agencies (particularly with regard to the recruitment, utilization, and management of participants), and trainers, to be conducted by qualified individuals or organizations that have experience with service-learning;

          (B) developing service-learning curricula, consistent with State or local academic content standards, to be integrated into academic programs

          • It sounds so much like a back door to the military to me, but I could be wrong. What is service learning?

          • (Replying to myself so the answer is next to the question)

            From the Office of the Law Revision Council’s text of the National and Community Service Act of 1990, the basis of the GIVE Act:

            The term “service-learning” means a method

            (A) under which students or participants learn and develop through active participation in thoughtfully organized service that (i) is conducted in and meets the needs of a community; (ii) is coordinated with an elementary school, secondary school, institution of higher education, or community service program, and with the community; and (iii) helps foster civic responsibility; and

            (B) that (i) is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students, or the educational components of the community service program in which the participants are enrolled; and (ii) provides structured time for the students or participants to reflect on the service experience.

            It actually sounds not too bad, if it’s left up to the teachers and local community. I can’t get behind a federal program.

  9. “seeking capital from hedge funds and private-equity funds so they could return federal bailout money”: So they are going to return the “federal bailout money” and replace it with money from hedge funds and private-equity funds that, under the Geithner plan, is mostly (up to 97 percent) money from the Fed and FDIC?

    • I’m still trying to figure out how this works when the FDIC money is supposed to be utilized to secure depositors funds. As it stood, Bair had said they were worried about funding that. Now it’s not only going to be utilized for bank deposits but some investment ponzi scheme? Not good.

  10. This has a pretty comprehensive explanation on how the toxic asset program works.

    http://www.wisebread.com/could-you-profit-from-obama-and-geithners-toxic-assets-plan

  11. LOL! Am watching Krugman on Rose, and he is pointing out how we are doing the same ineffective thing the Japanese did, and says

    “maybe we should start calling him Geithner-san.”

  12. I think it’s all about power. Some of the banks/insurance companies don’t want to give up their power completely and are beginning to try to worm out of the deals they made with Obama. Either that, or some of the real powers want Obama to crash now…as GG suggested yesterday in answer to something I posted in yesterday’s scanner… a big meeting in DC on 3/26 with Soros, Laura Tyson, etc. Go to Steve Clemons’ Washington Note…he’s moderating this forum…
    I have excerpts/links in my comment in yesterday’s Scanner-International edition comment…

    Today, I’ve got a very short Beck segment up. This loudmouth ass has been really on the tail of the dollar etc. and this particular rant is like The Dollar for Dummies. Very short and a worthwhile listen…he doesn’t let Bush off the hook either in his rundown…(doesn’t name anyone, just gives a very clear critique and actually mentions Russia, China, etc.)

    The Scanner-Politics: March 25, 2009 (G-20; Glenn Beck’s “The One Thing” Segment on the Dollar [Video]; “The Big Takeover”; Al Gore Releasing New Book on Election Day 11/3/2009; Augie the Dog Sends a Deposit to the U.S. Treasury)

    http://tinyurl.com/d6hko6

  13. O/T or on topic…. it’s hard to tell with the nefarious f-ers
    we have.
    I am wondering about the digital transition. Remember it was going to be pushed back into June and Orot was going to sign that law. Last I heard, digital transition went through. The DT was not meant, as I understand, to give you cleaner, crisper TV reception (yeah, whatever), but to free up a huge amount of airspace for broadcasting. Just wondering as we have the bankers-delight showcase going on in DC, what the other government hand is doing. As we watch the magician struggle to pull the scarves out of his coat and calm us down (ha) about money thievery,
    are we being distracted from what may be going on with our communication airwaves? Who is purchasing the airspace? Because I keep having this feeling that if we never get a free media, we will never be a free country.

    • Very good question. That was supposed to belong to the People. Now it’s replaced with yummy, privatized access – I foresee having to pay for local TV now.

  14. Remember the Exorcist and the Green Mile, both spooky films where a gifted healer sucks the living evil and sickness out of the afflicted onto himself, then sacrifices his life to extinguish the demon. Who thinks up these stories, as if reality can’t be dark enough. The FDIC reminds me of those films. Barry and Tim want Sheila to be the exorcist. Sacrifice the FDIC, revive the financial system and the economy. But will it work. Private contribution of an anemic 3-6% of every toxic package won’t make a big dent. The Fed can’t afford to expand its balance sheet beyond Talf without rattling the dollar. Can Congress find another trillion in revenues in the new fiscal year. With jobs still shedding, not likely. How about a trillion deeper in the fiscal deficit. Hard to imagine.

    Okay, close down the zombies like PK says, let the creditors take their hits and defaults. But how much would those defaults be magnified by CDSs. Hmm..is PK’s plan going to be even harsher on the workers. It very well could be, actually almost certainly would be for some years. So, should we not string up the bankers. Nope, they should be strung up and paraded in public, just so the pitchforks and double barrels remember much of the tenuous capital in the banks are the people’s money. Do they understand that. Well they seem capable of believing what they want. Is it rational. No, but it is emotional, and that’s half of a good thing. So what now. Accept reality, pressure the right bums, remain optimistic, America’s greatest resource.

    • You forgot about the sin eater – which seems to be the most appropriate simile – morally as well.

    • “Who thinks up these stories, as if reality can’t be dark enough.”

      Truth is stranger than fiction, as they say – I heard there are Native American spiritual myths behind these, as well as Christian ones. If I remember correctly, there was actually a movie, Sin-Eater, with Heath Ledger.

      Over here, pressure in building up to resist Brown and O. What the result will be of that, I have no idea. Optimism, unfortunately, isn’t all that high this side of the pond.

      • details? give us the dirt ….

        • Bank of England basically sayign we don’t have the money, too much of a deficit already (largest in western world).

          EU President calls Brown and O plan “road to hell”.

          Every other party rejects it, as far as I can tell. People I know reject it, even the O supporters.

          And Brown is in New York now, trying to drum up support, but I don’t really know what he thinks he can do there. Reports comign out are not encouraging.

          … I’m assuming those were the details you wanted and not more on Native AMerican myths or Heath Ledger? *g*

          • wot- Native American myths in the midst of the greatest economic meltdown evah? 😉

  15. RD: many of these banks were forced to take the bailout money so as not to ‘stigmatize’ the ones that needed it (specifically Citi). These are the ones that can get the private financing and will probably do so. Do you remember that the top banks were forced to take the bailout money?

    • Why doesn’t anybody ever force me to take money?

      • Heh

        The money in the stimulus bill for you is gonna be the first to go. It’s already in the Senate to get rid of the $400 tax credit($800 for couples) in 2010.

  16. OT – this morning while driving along I heard some guy complaing about the use of teleprompters by O – then went into the fact that O has a specially built (that cost a small fortune) Blackberry – ever notice how he looks at his Blackberry all the time when in meetings – remember when W was accused of having an earpiece to fill him in for responses at meetings? Hmmmm, indeed RD – who’s at the other end of that Blackberry giving him the answers??? 😯

  17. reminder to vote for Hillary for Time’s 100 most influential.

    She’s at 11 right now.

    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1883644_1883653_1884111,00.html

    • Sarah Palin is at 8 oddly enough.

      • She’s got a large grassroots movement behind her. I know it’s not Tuesday and that I sound like a broken record but she’s the only thing standing between Jeb and 2012. And personally I’d rather have Palin than Bush 4.

        • most definitely, just surprised to see her standing so high considering the antipathy I’ve seen directed at her by the media.

          I’m also hoping for a viable 3rd party candidate

        • …..but she’s the only thing standing between Jeb and 2012.

          You got that right

    • No, she’s ranking at number 29, Angelina Jolie right about her at 28:

      http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1883644_1886141,00.html

      • She was at 11 when I looked. Guess voters changed the ranking

        • I dunno what that 11 means, but if you look at the global list, she’s 29.

          So far #1 is Moot and #2 is the Korean pop star Rain, the Ron Paul and Stephen Colbert.

          Now how crazy is that list?

        • Naah, the ’11’ is the average ranking that people have given Hillary, i.e. 1 being least influential and 100 being most influential, people have ranked her at 11.

          She’s still #33 – which is funny; the respondents are probably being very stingy overall with their influence sliders….

          • Orrrrrrrr, you were right and the “33 of 203” is just a random number since all these 203 people on the list start on an even scale at the beginning of the voting.

            sorry….:-p

    • I voted for Hill, Palin, & PK.

    • Burris and Blago rank 5!!!!!
      Rahm, Arianna and Pfouffe-7
      Palin, Cramer-8
      Bush,Pope-9
      Hill-11
      Obama-18

    • i voted and she’s still 11 is something freepy going on here?

  18. I voted!

  19. Plenty of money for zombie banks but none for the post office

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090325/ap_on_go_ot/postal_woes

    I guess they wouldn’t need to worry about pesky things like letters from the constituency.

  20. Galbraith agrees with Krugman…

    The Geithner Plan Won’t Work
    by James K. Galbraith

    Thanks to the FDIC’s loan guarantee, there is a big upside if the assets do well. That upside is there to lure the rich guys in. That is why the big funds were happy; that is why the stock market went up. For the high rollers, this casino could be very attractive.

    And what happens if the assets really are trash? Well, first of all, you’ve now put the residential-mortgage-backed securities in the hands of some pretty aggressive investors. Are they likely to be forgiving of the poor home buyers in trouble? And cooperative with foreclosure relief? It’s doubtful, I’d say.

    Second, when the assets default, the investors are out 7.5 cents on the dollar. Treasury is out the same. And the FDIC is out the difference between 85 cents and the ultimate sale price of the assets. Which could be anything between 85 cents (or percent of the auction price) and zero. The banks, meanwhile, are in the money no matter what. As is helpfully pointed out here, it’s easy to construct mixed examples—with some of the assets going bad and the others staying good, where the investors make money. But the FDIC always loses and the banks always win.

    At first glance, in that case, the plan would look like a big success. Geithner would be a hero. Paul Krugman and I would have to shut up. Until, after a bit, it became clear that the assets were not actually worth 60cents on the dollar, but only 30 cents, or nothing. Then the FDIC would take its losses. But the banks would be home free.

    The ultimate objective, and in President Obama’s own words, the test of this plan, is whether it will “get credit flowing again.” (I have dealt with that elsewhere.) Short answer: It won’t. Once rescued, banks will sit quietly on the sidelines, biding their time, until borrowers start to reappear. From 1989 to 1994, that took five years. From 1929 to 1935—you get the picture.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-03-24/the-geithner-plan-wont-work/

  21. Wonder how much of our housing gain is due to foreign investment. I’d read that foreigners are coming over here and buying up property cheap for investment.

  22. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090325/ap_on_re_eu/eu_eu_us_economy

    Evidently us economists aren’t the only ones not happy with the stimulus bill.

    Anyone else suspect that we gave to AIG, who inturned bailed out foreign banks, because of the call to change the dollar as reserve currency. This way we keep the Brits support for status quo.

    • another link on the same story:

      Strasbourg, France – The United States’ decision to pump ever-larger sums into its economy is the “road to hell,” the holder of the European Union’s rotating presidency said Wednesday, just a week before he was set to meet the US president in London. The US is repeating the mistakes of the 1930s and has chosen the “road to hell” in the process, said the Czech Republic’s fallen prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, the morning after his government failed a vote of no confidence by the narrowest of margins.

      The vote throws into question not just the Czech presidency of the EU, but a bilateral agreement to host US anti-missile radars on Czech soil – a deal which has polarized Czech opinion.

      snip…
      he warned listeners not to expect too much from the summit, saying that the US president “is not a Messiah.”

      http://tinyurl.com/cqectp

  23. Over the last few days there have been a lot of articles about “seizing things” and now this latest on “sweeping authority” — ?

    Hmmm…..

    Credit Unions, Banks, and now Businesses?

    ?

    One wonders….

    http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/mar2009/db20090325_426418.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index+-+temp_top+story

    ps: I missed things that make you go hmmmm #1

    Damn! (but I bet I can find it RD,,,,one of the fab WP features…..

    I don’t trust Geithner either — wasn’t he a cheat too?
    Why would he be in charge if he screwed everything up?
    I mean, why?

    Something seems wrong with all this seizing of things.

    • Of course it’s wrong. It’s a power grab by the Executive branch. If companies go insolvent, they are SUPPOSED to go into bankruptcy, go before the JUDICIAL branch, and work it out.

      The problem with bankruptcies is that a lot comes to light, because records are pored over, creditors and counterparties are discovered, and all the assets are unwound. If there is stuff on the books that certain scoundrels don’t want revealed, it is a LOT easier to play that game if one is cozy with the executive branch than in a courtroom, with documents and all that messy stuff.

      Call me crazy, but with all the screaming about fascism/ socialism/ imperial presidencies being at the root of this (and those ARE legitimate concerns) I think we may be missing the sleight-of-hand here.

      I believe that 0bama’s treasury wants that power not for the power’s sake (though it’s a chilling precedent), but because they need it if they are to keep the lid on all the skeletons and malfeasance in the financier’s closets. They do NOT want any failing institutions (banks or otherwise) going into bankruptcy, because bankruptcy entails what they’ve been up to becoming public, in front of a judge

      It’s not the POWER that is the motivator here per se, folks, it is the COVER UP.

      • Short version: It’s a lot easier to cover up the stinking incriminating shit pile if you decide that only YOU, and no other branch, is allowed possession of a shovel.

        • ITA

          • Oh, and I predict this will quietly pass. Because politicians on BOTH sides of the aisle don’t want those financier’s closets aired out. After all, they’ve been swapping outfits and borrowing each others shoes and jewelry for years now,

        • I think you may be right, it seems as though no one in charge wants to see the type of transparency and accountability bankruptcy filings would create (my guess is that the corrupt powers in charge during the Bush administration paid for the installation of the Obama administration to help keep everything hidden).

          I don’t, however, think this is a widespread or all encompassing conspiracy (a few very wealthy and powerful people throwing money and influence around can do a lot of damage).

          • No, I think it’s a few key people. But I also think there are enough dirty hands in Washington that there’s not much interest in poking that hornet’s nest.

  24. Fron the Daily Telegraph Finance:

    “Failed gilt auction stokes fears over UK economy”

    Failure raises fears that the Government may not be able to secure the billions of pounds its needs from the markets to fund its record fiscal deficit without paying far more for the money, and reflects concerns about UK economic stability.

    It comes at a highly embarrassing time for Gordon Brown, who is hosting a summit of G20 leaders next week to spearhead recovery plans for the global economy.

    His call for further economic stimulus packages was also called into question yesterday by Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, who warned that the UK finances were so stretched the Government would be unable to launch new spending plans.

    http://tinyurl.com/dxp7qf
    and

    “Geithner rescue package ‘robbery of the American people”
    according to Joseph Stiglitz

    http://tinyurl.com/dga528

  25. what is happening in Scotland:

    “A group calling itself Bank Bosses Are Criminals has claimed responsibility for vandalising the Edinburgh home of Sir Fred Goodwin, the disgraced former chief executive of RBS bank. “

    “We are angry that rich people, like him, are paying themselves a huge amount of money, and living in luxury, while ordinary people are made unemployed, destitute and homeless.

    “This is a crime. Bank bosses should be jailed.

    “This is just the beginning.”

    Sir Fred was subject to heavy criticism after refusing to give up any of his £700,000-a-year pension, awarded after he stepped down following the disatrous acquisition of Dutch rival bank ABN Amro which saw RBS bailed out by the taxpayer. ”

    http://tinyurl.com/d4tmvj

  26. Great line from Market Ticker, in a really depressing economic forecast (read it):

    All of these clowns still believe you can treat a drunk with a case of whiskey.

    http://market-ticker.org/archives/898-The-End-Game-Approaches.html

    • More from the article:


      I see a possibility of of this scheme meeting with success, but it requires absolutely everything to go right, and the odds of that happening are low enough that I discount the scenario. I must therefore prepare for something truly ugly, whether I want to or not.

      What I believe we will see instead is similar to what we got after 1929; there was a short-lived rebound in the economy and markets, and it looked like we were going to come out of it with “just” a recession.

      But the debt hadn’t been cleaned from the system as they tried to prevent people from having to take the loss, and as a consequence able borrowers and able expansion of credit dried up, along with able providers. The “second leg down” was the real bone-crusher, and it will be this time as well.

  27. Looks like Obama’s encouraging press conference was kicked off page one of tabloids by a…fare hike. Damn reality!
    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/nyc-tabloids-the-fare-hike-edition/

  28. I hope everyone has seen this –

    2 who warned of financial crisis win JFK awards
    From Associated Press

    March 25, 2009 1:43 PM EDT
    BOSTON – Two federal regulators who sounded early warnings about the financial crisis and a Liberian peace activist have been named the 2009 recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

    Sheila Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., was one of the first to warn about the subprime lending crisis, and has urged direct assistance to distressed homeowners as part of the effort to stabilize the economy. She has also criticized management of the financial meltdown by Wall Street and the government.

    Brooksley Born, former chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, warned a decade ago that unregulated financial contracts, including credit default swaps, could pose dangers to the economy.

  29. Foxnews front page beats up Obama pretty good right now if anyone is in the mood to gloat.

    on headline says “World” president in trouble.
    big fat surprise.

    • He was supposed to bring wonders to the world by the simple fact of having gone to an Indonesian elementary school…&roll:

    • From the article:

      “I don’t think it has much of anything to do with him,” Sawhill told FOXNews.com. “I think it has to do with a disagreement about what’s the best response to the global recession. And many of the European countries are uncomfortable about the pressure they [see] us bringing to bear on them to stimulate the economy as much as we have ours.”

      Brad Setser, a fellow in geo-economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, added that disagreements like these are inevitable.

      “I would say as any government or administration starts putting concrete proposals on the table, there are bound to be differences of opinion,” he said. “And the Obama administration sought correctly to encourage Europe to respond as aggressively to the downturn in Europe as the U.S. has here.”

      Does anyone here agree that the administration is responding aggressively to stimulate the economy?
      (what I saw was a lot of tax cuts, bail outs and pork, strategically timed to be spent prior to the 2010 elections.)

  30. OT
    March 25 1911 the date of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
    With job losses and salaries not keeping pace with cost of living we are on our way back to the situation that caused that tragedy.
    Labor is being used as a scapegoat to excuse the cost of bad management. Example GM contracts that do not have to be honored. AIG bonuses that have to be honored.
    It is time to take a good long look at what the working person in this country have the right to expect and what they are getting.
    The right to be educated to get a decent job.
    The right to a fair days pay for a fair days work.
    The right to good affordable health care .
    The right of a safe working environment

    what they are getting
    job losses due to bad management and companies sending job overseas to sweatshops to make a profit.
    unaffordable health care costs for both companies and individuals
    failing education systems that teach enough to get decent jobs.

    What can be done about this and when do we start?

    WOMEN WITH INTELLIGENCE AND EXPERIENCE,MEN WHO SUPPORT THEM AND COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY ALWAYS

    PUMAS,BUBBAS,EQUALISTS AND THOSE PEOPLE RULE
    jo

    • Speaking of sendingjobs overseas……I hear IBM will be sending alot of their jobs over to India. I’m sure they are loving this global economy stuff.

  31. SHOULD READ
    failing education systems that DO NOT teach enough to get decent jobs

  32. I see the DOW rollercoaster ride ended up today. Weeeeeeee!

  33. here’s one that makes me go hmmmm:

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/US-Postal-Service-chief-says-apf-14742129.html

    Postal service is crashing. Well one thing that always pissed me off when I was a fed employee was that postal workers got a special rate for their health insurance as opposed to regular fed workers. “it’s in their union contracts” was what I was always told. Here’s an example.

    Federal BC/BS service benefit plan for a single fed employee, the bi-weekly rate is $70.18 every two weeks. However, the postal employee signs up for the same plan and only pays $46.39 bi-weekly. Why? If the p.o. is going broke, their employees should pay what other fed employees pay. They aren’t special.

    Info:
    http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/rates/nonpostalffs2009.pdf

    http://www.opm.gov/insure/health/rates/postalffs2009.pdf

    • Yikes. That’s pretty harsh. The problem isn’t the postal unions. The problem is that more workers should have unions. In the absence of UHC, I fully support low cost health insurance for the working class.

      Personally, I take issue with them buying million dollar relocation homes for employees.

      link

      • I can agree in theory with what you say. However, when I was a fed employee it always griped my butt that we had that difference between “us” and “them”.

        And I also agree about the home thing. I wondered what the hell postal employee in a field location could afford a house like that to begin with.

      • I wonder what the rate is for staff at the Veterans Administration. They are also unionized. Many of the federal workers are, or at least I thought they were.

        • cwaltz: VA employees are like the rest of the fed employees and would pay the same.

          Yes, there are fed employee unions, I was a member of AFGE. However, we did not get bargaining rights over health care. That got into the postal contracts somehow, but not for us.

          If you checked those links, there are a bunch of health plans you can choose from, but none of them are what I call cheap until you go to the HSA plans. For someone older or who may have some health issues those are non-starters.

  34. My comment at 4:06 is in moderation. I had 3 links in it. Can someone let it out please?

  35. Momster news:

    She’s doing pretty good. The cardiologist wanted to move her pacemaker. It was originally implanted not too deeply under her skin. This is her 3rd pacemaker and they always just pull out the old one and plop a new one in the same place, and reattach the leads.

    Well, this thing now is **so** close to the surface of her skin and her skin is so thin, the doc wanted to move it behind a chest muscle giving it more protection. I readily agreed to the procedure.

    The procedure is relatively simple. They usually give a shot of valium or versed into a drip, enough to make them woozy and then just make the incision to put the pacemaker in and it’s pretty much the same for this.

    I’ll be in touch later gang.

    Fred

  36. Hello everyone more good news from Gainesville Women Rule!

    Commissioner Jeanna Mastrodicasa, who holds the city’s At Large 1 seat, defeated her four challengers with enough of a margin not to require a run-off election in April.

    She was the most vocal opponnent of Charter amendment 1. She kicked her chief opponents A$$, charter amendment #1 supporter Robert Krame, by 30 points!

    In the below link the wonderful picture of Jeanna shows her in a “NO ON #1” green shirt she wore on election day!

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20090325/ARTICLES/903259992/1002?Title=Incumbents-hold-onto-city-seats
    with a woman mayor and commissioner we are on our way to a 51% solution!

    Oh US Senator Chuck Schumer says I DO to gasy marriage….Following Senator Gillibrands lead.

    Liberal Woman RULE and I hope they lead more men by the nose to make good choices!

  37. This Just in Printing presses at treasury go down….

    the printing pressed at the currency engravers office at the Us Department of treasury have been working overtime printing money to jump start the economy.

    The pressed many over 6 decades old are having a ruff time meeting the demands on them as they work 24/7/365 to print the dollars Obama and Treasury Tim need to “stimulate” the economy!

    Breakdowns are at an all time high a $ 100.00 press taken out of commission for 1 minute cost us $ 192,000. An hour breakdown could cost $ 11,520,000.00!

    shortages of spare parts and lubricating oil have ment many pressed ar out of commission for days….costing $ 276,480,000.00 per day!

    There may not be enough money for Obama to put into the economy if this continues.

  38. New post up!

  39. This makes me go hmmmm. This is an article on C.W.’s site. Read towards the end of the article where it talks about the O’s multiple addresses and multiple S.S.N.’s. Also, read down thru the comments to the part about Steve Pidgeon. Whether you follow the place of birth issue or not , some of this makes you wonder. The comment with the link re. the man who wrote the article really makes me scratch my head.
    http://citizenwells.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/lyle-j-rapacki-phd-fbi-infragard-march-16-2009-white-paper-discussion-dr-orly-taitz-supreme-court-justice-john-roberts-barack-obama-not-eligible-us-attorney-general-us-army-officer-consti/

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