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I’m No Economist, but I Think We Need Prosecutions!

The face of greed

The face of greed

I’m hooked on the economics blogs these days. Blame Dakinikat for starting me on a (probably hopeless) quest to understand the economic meltdown. I have been mathphobic since the eighth grade when I was horribly traumatized by algebra. And geometry! Don’t even get me started. When I was an undergrad, I was forced to take two math classes–basic math and statistics. Fortunately, those of us in the psych department were assigned a good humored, patient professor who cracked jokes about our having post-traumatic stress from high school math and had developed simple ways to explain mathematical concepts. Thanks to that kind and supportive professor, I was also able to survive two mind-numbing semesters of graduate statistics without too much anxiety.

Despite my lifelong troubled relationship with numbers, I am determined to understand what is happening to our economic and political systems to the best of my ability. These days, when I first get up, I open up The Confluence (my home page), quickly see what’s happening and then I check all my favorite econ blogs to find out the latest news and views.

This morning via The Market Ticker, I found this ABC News story on Joseph Cassano. (By the way, Cassano donated $2,500 to Obama’s primary campaign and $2,300 to his presidential campaigns. Isn’t $2,300 the maximum?) But back to ABC News:

The FBI and federal prosecutors are reportedly closing in on the AIG executive whose suspect investments cost the insurance giant hundreds of billions of dollars. The government is investigating whether or not 54-year old Brooklyn-native Joseph Cassano committed criminal fraud in virtually bankrupting the company.

“He almost single-handedly is responsible for bringing AIG down and by reference the economy of this country,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Ca.)

Cassano, who lives in London, made more than $300 million running the infamous Financial Products Division of AIG where he, with about a dozen others, committed AIG to insure what turned out to be more than a trillion dollars worth of junk quality loans held by banks.

“He is the golden boy of the casino,” said Rep. Speier. “They basically took peoples’ hard earned money and threw it away, gambled it and lost everything. And he must be held accountable for the fraud, for the dereliction of his duty, and for the havoc that he’s wrought on America.”

The story goes on to say that Cassano was paid $1 million per month (!), (yes, you read that right) even after being fired for wrecking the company. During his tenure at AIG, Cassano

set up some dozens of separate companies, some off-shore, to handle the transactions, effectively keeping them off the books of AIG and out of sight of regulators in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

“This is the other very important issue underneath the AIG scandal,” said Blum. “All of these contracts were moved offshore for the express purpose of getting out from under regulation and tax evasion.”

Despite warnings from Joseph St. Dennis, an accountant who worked with Cassano, AIG management stood by and let all this go on. Don’t tell me no one knew what Cassano was up to. And the new boss of AIG (formerly of Goldman Sachs, natch) thinks Cassano did nothing wrong.

Read it and weep. And be sure to read the piece at Market Ticker. There are more shocking details there. This is where our taxpayer money is going folks.

Yesterday, we were talking about the possibility that Obama, Geithner, and Summers are using AIG as a money laundering operation to funnel money into other banks like Goldman Sachs, which got an intial $25 billion from taxpayers and another backdoor infusion of $13 billion through payments from AIG. But why did Goldman Sachs and other creditors of AIG get paid in full when they were essentially bankrupt and operating with taxpayer’s money? Paul Craig Roberts thinks the entire government bailout of the big financial firms is just another scam:

…Obama’s White House economist, Larry Summers, on whose watch as treasury secretary in the Clinton administration financial deregulation got out of control, invoked the “sanctity of contracts” in defense of the AIG bonuses.

But the Obama administration does not regard other contracts as sacred. Specifically: Labor unions had to agree to give-backs in order for the auto companies to obtain federal help; CNN reports that “Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday (March 10) that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance”; The Washington Post reports that the Obama team has set its sights on downsizing Social Security and Medicare.

According to the Post, Obama said that “it is impossible to separate the country’s financial ills from the long-term need to rein in health-care costs, stabilize Social Security and prevent the Medicare program from bankrupting the government.”

So the contracts the government has made with its citizens are not “sacrosact,” like the contracts with banksters and their creditors.

According to The New York Times, thirteen firms got bailout money through AIG; eight are listed in the article:

Financial companies that received multibillion-dollar payments owed by A.I.G. include Goldman Sachs ($12.9 billion), Merrill Lynch ($6.8 billion), Bank of America ($5.2 billion), Citigroup ($2.3 billion) and Wachovia ($1.5 billion).

Big foreign banks also received large sums from the rescue, including Société Générale of France and Deutsche Bank of Germany, which each received nearly $12 billion; Barclays of Britain ($8.5 billion); and UBS of Switzerland ($5 billion).

Now let’s see how much Barack Obama got in campaign contributions from employees of some of these firms. The numbers are from Open Secrets.

Goldman Sachs – $980,945
Citigroup – $657,268
J.P. Morgan Chase – $650,758
UBS AG – $522,019
Bank of America – $274,493
Merrill Lynch – $257,949
Wachovia – $214,151
Deutche Bank – $4,600

From the Financial, Insurance, and Real Estate sector, Obama got $38,089,102 in campaign contributions.

Yesterday, President Obama announced that he is not satisfied with the efforts of General Motors and Chrysler to streamline their operations and create efficient plans for the future. How many auto workers have to lose their jobs or take less pay and benefits, how many retirees have to lose their health care and pensions (these contracts are not so sacrosact, apparently) before Barack Obama will help them out with public funds? No one knows. Hmmm…I wonder how much the auto companies and auto workers contributed to Obama’s campaign war chest?

From the entire Labor sector, (biggest contributor SEIU).
Obama received $466,324

From individual auto company employees and employees of the UAW:
General Motors – $40,992
Chrysler – $20,391
Ford Motor Co. – $19,405
United Auto Workers employees – $4,800

The difference is stark. Now why do you suppose Obama is being so very supportive of the giant finance and insurance firms and so very punitive to the automotive industry and it’s workers? Something tells me it’s not about what’s best for our country.

118 Responses

  1. Wow! That is payback and pay to play in vivid unrelenting color.

  2. He’s bought and owned. To be able to spend $740+ million for one campaign when our country is piss poor, and try to claim that it was those average Joe folks who gave, should have been a HUGE red flag to the media. Yet, they still have not questioned it.

    And he can’t pick a cabinet member who does not have a tax problem. Maybe if we just collect from all of his friends, our debt will decrease:


  3. Actually, all kidding aside, this really sickens me. Great post BB!

  4. Quite a spider’s web of interdependence hmmm? And of course, the taxpayers are the juicy flies.

    • I thought labor would have given more to Obama–and he was the top recipient of labor contributions. He got almost $40 million from finance, insurance, and real estate. It’s disgusting!

      • Me, too. I’m an SEIU member and they are usually heavy contributors.

        • They gave a lot more to Democrats than the UAW. Maybe SEIU has more members now. I don’t know.

          • Great post Boston! As Usual, you and the rest of the writers here are brilliant! I want to be just like you guys when I grow up…:-)

            But seriously:

            This sickens me to no end. Wasn’t it Obama who told some of the Senators who were holding out on the No Banker left Behind Act that…”We are keeping score brother?”

            Looks like Obama is paying back for all those millions. I wonder what the Daily Kooks are “Truly” thinking today about their “messiah!”

          • Thanks, Red!

      • Disgusting was the first word that came to my mind too.

  5. So we are all getting addicted to economics? I am having mental flashes of dakinikat skulking around street corners going, “Psst! I got some CBO numbers here for you, good stuff….”

    Over at the cheeto, there is a raging thread pointing out these discrepancies in campaign contributions. (Yes, a ballsy old Kucinich supporter had the noive to post it, and is getting a modicum of support from those going through kool-aid detox.)

    What is interesting is to read the howls of outrage of the Obamabots on that thread, that “It’s not faaaaair to say that, because those donations are mostly rank-and-file individual employees who supported Obama, not donations from the banks themselves!”

    Hmmmm. Many of these same people had pitchforks out over Hillary’s contributors (like her donations from the healthcare industry, credit card companies, etc), and when we argued that those were individual nurses and doctors donating, that arugument was roundly shouted down.

    But it was the second part of our argument that is pertinent here. Because the second part was the challenge we issued which they never could answer: Show me the quid pro quo. Show me where Hillary has made decisions or cast votes that disproportionately favor big business, or the healthcare giants, or the credit card companies, we said. They couldn’t. They never did.

    In Obama’s case, we can. We can show the quid pro quo in glaring technicolor on the big IMAX screen, writ obscenely huge in trillion-dollar letters, with the credits rolling over all-too-familiar starring names, and the bankers getting the celebrity treatment in the “special” trailer.

    • 4th paragraph: “arugument???” Too much arugula on the brain.

      Or maybe my typo is useful. It could be a good word.

      Arugument (n): A specious argument proffered usually by one of the elite or “creative” class, which does not hold water, is rooted in arrogance, and betrays breathtaking ignorance of the lives, thoughts, motivations, and needs of the average American.

    • My question…….answered!

      • I don’t get too bent out of shape over politicians getting donations from various industries. It’s the way the system is set up in this country, and ALL of them do. (I’d like to change the system, but that’s another topic).

        What I look for is whether there are a broad range of donations from competing interest groups, and more importantly, does the politician’s record indicate that they are doing favors in return.

    • I don’t know how things work now, but I know that about 15 years ago while I was working at a large insurer, we would get emails telling us to contact our congressmen etc. whenever legislation came up that the company felt was important to our business (essentially, the message would say, if you want to keep your job, call congress or they’ll put us out of business).

      And, my bosses mentioned that once you got to a certain level of management, you were expected to contribute to certain politicians as well.

      So, there you go, that may just be how all those employees from certain companies within the financial sector just “happened” to contribute to a certain politician. (Kind of like the AIG employee contributions for Chris Dodd.)

      • my exhusband (who was a vp of an insurance company) was told that part of his salary was to be considered for political and charitable donations of their choice. They’d just come and tell him who to make the check out for and how much.

      • You know the firms pressured people to contribute. Besides a lot of those contributions are gotten through bundlers who raise 200K, 500K, whatever. Open secrets has a list of bundlers. It would be easy to google them and find out what firms they are from. Obama was going to Wall Street parties back in 2007. And don’t forget Soros could introduce him around.

  6. Imagine being paid $1,000,000 per month after being fired?

  7. Help! I’m in moderation!

  8. This story gets more dirty each and everyday. Obama and his cronies are getting richer off the taxpayers money, and not only do we have to pay it back, but we have to lose our pensions and retirement to do it. This is more than unbelievable, it is downright illegal.
    Something must be done to stop this beast, Obama is on a power trip the likes of which I have never seen.
    We must ban together as American citizens and march on Washington when Obama is home, and let him know that we will not take this kind of shit.
    How about a million taxpayer march? How about 36 million taxpayer march? It is about time the powers that be understand exactly who they are working for, and it isn’t wall street or the fu**king banking industry!

    • You should see the circus Obama has deplaced on his trip in Europe:

      500 person entourage (personal trainer and personal cooking staff included)

      2 planes (air force 1 and 2)

      5 helicopters,

      The presidential limo (the beast) and droves of other reinforced vehicules.

      200 secrets agents.

      and on and on.

      In Strasbourg where he’ll be after London, residents have to VACATE their home within several blocks radius and relocate to Hotels for the duration. Businesses and schools are closed for fluid traffic. The town will be in police lockdown.


  9. You were traumatized by eighth grade algebra?

    What a coincidence – I was traumatized by my eighth grade algebra teacher!

    She made me stay after school and “clean her erasers”

    • My teacher screamed in my face and shook me a few times. She was scary!

      • My teacher wasn’t a screamer but she shook me too.

        I still have nightmares about gray hair and chalk dust.

        • You are so bad. But since it’s your birthday I won’t give you a lecture about “THE PATRIARCHY.”

      • i used to get yelled at for reading books during class. i’d get done before every one else and have nothing to do so. my 4th grade teacher used to get mad at me because she’d read a book out loud, like the secret garden, and I’d already read it, so i’d sneak reading another book while she was reading out loud to the others. I tried to read the hobbit and the first of the lord of the rings that way before she finally caught me and sent me to the office. never could figure that one out, people read out loud too slow, drives me nuts! reading is ME reading to me …

        • I used to talk too much in class. When I was in first grade, my teacher made me sit outside the classroom on a chair. While she was lecturing me, the sixth grade kids came by in a big line and stared at me. Now that was traumatic! They were huge!

        • I got in trouble for reading in class as well. My biggest problem to this day is that I cannot hear you when I read. I am completely engrossed and unaware – you can yell at me, and I won’t hear it. The only spelling test I ever failed was because of this. We had reading time, and at some point, the teacher told us to put our books away and get ready for a spelling test. Then she started calling out the words.

          I came out of my “book fog” about 3/4 of the way through the test, going, “Huuh? Whaaa?” Failed that sucker.

        • LOL! Happened to me too. Reading too much and too fast a reader for my own good, I guess, gotta punish that!

  10. That 1 million a month to Cassano sounds like a payoff for him to not rat out those above him who were complicit and to keep his mouth shut in general.

    And, that whole “sanctity of contracts” argument sounds like a scam to me, because in the absence of a tax payer bail out, A.I.G. would be bankrupt, and employee bonuses would probably be pretty far down the list in bankruptcy court.

    I’ve worked for companies going through take-overs and financial hardships before, I know a lot of talent runs out the door, but in the present environment, there is no reason why they couldn’t have renegotiated salaries for the highly compensated employees (exactly where were all these employees going to run to?).

    What’s gone on with our tax payer dollars is disgusting. Tax payer funds are being used to pay high salaries/bonuses and to essentially reimburse high stake gamblers that were running something pretty close to a ponzi scheme.

    • And Cassano lives in London and is not planning to return to the U.S. to face the music.

    • Sounds like a payoff to me, too.

      Although the reason given was that his knowledge was too important and they needed his “expertise”.

  11. There are moments when I’m so angry about this pay to play presidential scam, I could just spit. There are other moments when I just want to cry. The knowledge that GM workers and retirees are about to suffer (further) because of Obama, combined with the stark campaign contributions BB has enumerated above, almost has me in tears. Obama CANNOT be allowed to prevail. We have GOT to start fighting back. But how to fight back effectively given a) a deeply corrupted-by-money Congress, and b) deeply corrupted-by-money corporate ‘news’ media? Sometimes, I just despair….

    • There will be rioting in the streets of Detroit before this is over. It’s going to get ugly. Obama is making a huge mistake by being so blatant about this. The American people may be distracted by TV and trying to make a living, but, as a group, we aren’t stupid.

      • I hope there IS rioting in Detroit, BB, lots of it. If I were anywhere within shouting distance of the Midwest, I’d join in, I swear, in spite of a few aging joints. But where the hell are all the students, the youth cohort which should be out there yelling? Too busy driving around in their big shiny gas guzzling SUVs with the Obama stickers on the bumpers? (And that’s precisely where I’ve seen most of those stickers here in Central TX.) You know, those SUVs made possible by that MPG loophole for ‘trucks’ made possible by a corrupt Congress? The very same Congress that doesn’t seem to give a sh*t if retired auto workers are about to lose their health care benefits and pensions?

        Sorry for rambling on here, but I’m feeling deeply upset at the moment.

        • You’re not alone. I was in shock reading these articles today. And I have more saved up from all of sam’s comments. What a great researcher!

    • Could this be how Obama is getting revenge for losing the Michigan Primary to Hillary?

      Inquiring minds want to know!

      • He didn’t lose to her. He took his name off the ballot. And he got the votes anyway.

        • I stand corrected.


          • He might be mad about it anyway, though. The guy certainly seems to hold grudges.

        • He is mad about it, BB. That’s one of the reasons Dean’s under the bus, he let the Florida and Michigan situation get out of hand and let the primaries go on too long, in Obie’s opinion, after he had already wrapped everything up. I wish I could remember where I read that, but fer sher I did.

          • Interesting. What did he think Dean should have done? BTW, I saw your post on the UAW situation after I put mine up. Would you consider cross-posting it?

          • Makes sense to me that he is mad. I read that whilst in the IL state House, he was shamed by an older rep. Years later he did something – I can’t remember what – to get even.
            It was supposed to be a story to illustrate that he is no softee.
            He is a tyrant and a bully,and I just bet he is p*ssed that the UAW, et al didn’t support him as he thought they should.

          • interesting-I always wondered why Dean was under the bus.

        • That would be “stole the votes.” Or the RCB did it for him.

  12. I closed comments on my birthday thread (after teaching a visitor some manners)

  13. this boils down to money in politics and it is destroying our country. Money is buying elections and we know that the best people aren’t winning.

  14. I have to say I’m encouraged that some information is leaking out now (like the ACORN stuff from the congressional hearings, and the interconnectedness of various players), and that the FBI may actually be investigating.

    Perhaps I’m naive, but my hope is that things can be cleared up without violence (although I truly understand bb’s concern about Detroit if the administration is too heavy handed with the auto companies while allowing bonuses for bailed out financial companies). There must be some people in congress, the media and government that were willing to look the other way until they realized the scope of this crisis (I think that might be why we’re finding some of this stuff out now).

    I believe in free speech and in contacting our elected officials to hold them accountable and ask the tough questions, but I in no way advocate violence (as I would imagine is the case for most if not all of the regular posters and commenters here).

    I believe in the rule of law, and that our system still has a chance to work.

    Hey, I even believe there is a small chance that Obama could come around and try to do the right thing for the taxpayers (note small, perhaps very small, perhaps 1 in a million).

    • The only way that would happen is if he were forced into it by circumstances–which could happen.

  15. You’re far more the optimist than I am at the moment, sam. The DNC has made the sanctity of voting a farce, our congressional representatives no longer listen (to anything much but the clink of coinage), the media are hopelessly corrupt and beholden to their corporate masters….

    What avenues does this leave us, exactly, other than the streets?

    • I’m okay with protests in the streets, it’s just the bloodshed stuff that makes me uncomfortable.

      Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, but when things get really bad, or if more information comes out, I think some players will bail and try to save themselves, or that some who may have been comfortable with a little corruption and graft may get uneasy as they see how widespread it has become. I keep telling myself that the entire government can’t possibly be corrupt.

  16. Sorry if this is OT but what’s the take on the “New Way Forward” April 11 protest? I was thinking of going to the DC demonstration, but then I saw that Buzzflash.com is listed as “Support” on the front page of New Way Forward’s website. Not quite sure what “Support” is but Buzzflash was a non-stop 24/7 Obama propagandist “news” site during the campaign season. They were despicable in their attacks on Hillary. I trust them about as far as I can throw them so any association with them raises my BS meter.

    • What is the protest about? Who care who is supporting it. We always thought some of the Obots would wake up eventually. I’d even go to one of the tea party things if I had time and there was one nearby. Just to get people out there visible is worth something.

      • They want to bust the banks up, remove the existing fat cats and wipe out their bonuses.

        Here’s the link. I thought I found it in a comment on TC but maybe it was another site. I’m not seeing any PUMA association and I don’t know that I can bring myself to trust obots.

        • Why not go? And be sure to let us know what happens. Maybe you would overhear some Obots recanting?

          • My husband has already taken the day off and he loves him so demonstratin’ so we probably will end up down at Lafayette Park on the 11th

  17. Now this is the kind of story you would expect to see tommorrow:

    Police in Nigeria are holding a goat on suspicion of attempted armed robbery.

    Vigilantes took the black and white beast to the police saying it was an armed robber who had used black magic to transform himself into a goat to escape arrest after trying to steal a Mazda 323.

    “The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car. They pursued them. However one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat,” Kwara state police spokesman Tunde Mohammed told Reuters by telephone.

    “We cannot confirm the story, but the goat is in our custody. We cannot base our information on something mystical. It is something that has to be proved scientifically, that a human being turned into a goat,” he said.

  18. BB, I can totally relate to your mathphobia, although mine kicks in with algebra (which my daughter is already doing and GETS IT -*embarassed).

    I love your last two posts, BTW. And you’re absolutely right, WTF is different between the automotive industry, who like the airlines, have to declare bankruptcy in order to restructure and the financial industry, which has been given billions upon billions of dollars with only a slap on the wrist for bonuses?

    Obama is guilty on all counts of cronyism – just like Bush.

    • Hi SM!

      Thank you! When does your new job start? Are you already working?

      The funny thing is I kind of like statistics, because there is a practical purpose for them. Math in the abstract I can’t get into. But I still get confused even with stats. I have to get off by myself and think things through carefully, step by step.

      • YES I already started – thank you!

        See – I get statistics. My best grades in math were geometry and probability/statistics. I just don’t understand WHY THE HECK I can’t get Algebra. Maybe it’s all the letters, or that right/left brain thing. Who knows.

        Meanwhile, PUMA cub’s in the 5th grade already on 7th grade math level – in PUBLIC school and with straight As, the best part: she GETS IT. Maybe it’s the borderline Asperger’s, maybe her brain processes that easier – I just say AMEN and push her to do her best. Meanwhile, I’m clueless.

        • Wow, that’s terrific that your daughter is so talented!

          The problem is when I was a kid, girls were assumed to be bad at math and made fun of if they did well at it.

          • THANK YOU! Yes, I’m a proud mama. I tell her to never be afraid in being smart.

            I know I sound like every mom who brags about their kids being extra special and all. But I just had a parent/teacher conference yesterday and Teacher said that PUMA cub is on a 7th grade level – I was floored and proud of my baby girl!

            Now only if I can get her through teenage-hood without the drama of sexism. I’ve exposed her to every age-appropriate scenario so she’s not inhibited by society to prove her smarts. I just hope that she continues that when I’m not around.

          • You should be proud!!

        • Geometry is just different enough from algebra, as is statistics. I had the same problem. Not sure I can explain it, since I’ve avoided math as much as possible.

  19. http://english.pravda.ru/print/opinion/columnists/107223-america_next_catastrophe-0

    “As if there were not enough things to worry about for the US, what with a dying economy, a spend happy neo-Marxist government in power, a stalemated war in Iraq and a loosing war in Afghanistan, here comes one more issue and the one that may create the final perfect storm: Mexico.

    As I predicted, dear readers, Mexico is in the process of total collapse. The drug war violence has spun out of control so quickly that it is now a civil war and unlike the small time civil war with Mexico’s southern Indians the Zapatistas, this one has the potential to topple the state government in very short order. The American Department of Defense has come out with an estimate that the two largest mafia cartels field, between them, over 100,000 foot soldiers. Now, these are not just gang bangers and lowlifes, alright they are lowlifes, but many are former Mexican army and some even US trained special forces. To make maters worse, they are armed with heavy weapons, everything short of tanks and fighter planes. Regular large scale gun battles, involving grenades and RPGs are a common, almost daily occurrence in Mexico.

    Last year, death tolls doubled to over 7 thousand killed in these battles and various murders and retaliations. This year is on par to double again, as the cartels (mafias), military and various other groups, battle it out. Add to this the recent addition of vigilantes attacking in the night, often tied to quieter, smaller cartels and you are living in absolute chaos. The death rate, last year, was higher than that of Afghanistan and Iraq put together. Further, the favorite forms of murder, are extremely brutal. Beheadings are the norm. This must hail back to the old Aztec customs.”

    Okay, reading the news just rained down on the last bit of shiny optimism I had left. Based on “Pravda” in the link, I guess this might be propaganda, but then again, that seems to be all we have access to anyway.

    • It is getting really bad in Mexico – we could well end up with a failed state on our southern border.

      You guys can slam me if you want, but if it gets much worse, I’m all in favor of troops on the border and building that wall. This ain’t about some poor guy coming over to pick some lettuce anymore.

      • My heart goes out to anyone who feels driven to leave their country in order to support their family, and obviously tearing apart families that have been in this country for years doesn’t seem like a good idea either. However, I do think we need to focus on protecting our southern border, violence is crossing over and the kidnappings should not be tolerated.

        (Plus, I fear that undocumented workers are exploited here, and that they are allowed to slip in because they help businesses circumvent wage laws.)

      • Are you kidding? We could be overrun by the refugees. It would be horrendous!

        • I don’t know how much good the wall will do, but I’m all for guarding the border. I don’t know if they will have enough troops though.

      • We live in Central TX now, very near the border, and the effects of Mexico’s growing instability will almost certainly hit us. To what extent and how, I have no idea. But yes, that border wall guarded by troops is looking more attractive every day, wmcb. I also agree with sam re the realities of illegal immigrant labor: huge waves of poverty stricken latinos have served as cheap, below the radar labor, steadily driving down wages not only for themselves, but for those who are here legally. There’s been this unholy alliance between knee jerk liberals touting blanket, no questions asked protections for illegals, and free market conservatives with no qualms about exploiting human labor. That alliance finally appears to be weakening due to our plummeting economy.

    • When the Pravda is calling your gov neo-marxist, you know you’re in trouble…

  20. OT…File under the category of “You can’t make this sh*t up”..

    “MELBOURNE’S Catholic Church has embraced a Vatican suggestion to test potential priests for sexual orientation. Those who “appear” gay will be banned.

    The head of the Vatican committee that made the recommendations has made it clear celibate gays should also be banned because homosexuality is ‘‘a type of deviation’’.


    I wonder what the test are?? Benedict was head of the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (The Holy Office of the Inquisition) for 25 years so the tests might be interesting.

  21. http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/geithners-cash-begins-to-run-out-2009-03-31.html

    “Doubters from Wall Street to K Street think Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is overestimating what’s left in the $700 billion piggy bank Congress created to bail out the financial sector.

    Geithner has said Treasury still has $125 billion in the Troubled Asset Relief Program for banks, auto companies and other businesses lining up for help in the worst recession in generations. But the Washington-based Center for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates only $32 billion remains. RBS Greenwich Capital’s chief economist estimates Geithner has only $15 billion left, not enough to cover the $21.6 billion General Motors and Chrysler still want. Dow Jones Newswire offers a $52.6 billion figure

    RBS argues Geithner has little choice but to say he has more money than he really has, since he needs to project confidence that the government can backstop the private sector. “

    • This is sureal.. We are talking of spent billions like discussing allowance with teenagers: I gave you $20 last week, what do you mean you don’t know what you’ve done with it?

  22. Here’s a term for Dakinikat to explain:

    macroprudential oversight

    Actually, it sounds like something an optometrist would say.

  23. “I’m hooked on the economics blogs these days. Blame Dakinikat for starting me on a (probably hopeless) quest to understand the economic meltdown.”

    A meta-comment: I’m feeling like a happy crude populist (props to ya, Paul, just fooling with you!) on the Confluence these days. I’m always up for some economic justice, or at least the fight for it. In the midst of this economic mess, this blog helps me daily.

    Great post, bb, as usual!

  24. Open thread up!

  25. Wow! I had to do a double take on that guy. He looks a lot like Nicholas Cage.

  26. i agree completely, especially now since GM now stands for Government Motors

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