by ilene - July 7th, 2011 1:44 am
The latest tranche of loans from the EU and the IMF has helped buy debt-ridden Greece some time. But the Greeks will find it hard to get back on their feet. Their country has been ruined by three political dynasties, which created a bloated system of cronyism that is hard to change. By SPIEGEL Staff.
Regardless of whether it happens under Papandreou alone or with both politicians working together, if Greece starts economizing, it risks choking its own economy. "It’s like a cat chasing its own tail," says Greek economics professor Yanis Varoufakis.
Former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff recently warned: "If they just continue with the European Union’s austerity program, they’re going to be in slow growth or recession as far as the eye can see, and at the end of the day they’re still going to default."
And it’s not as if Greece hasn’t already adopted austerity measures. Athens managed to cut its budget deficit from 15.4 percent of its gross domestic product to 10.6 percent last year, thanks to its first austerity package. The government made cutbacks in salaries, retirement funds and social benefits, among other things.
This austerity policy also caused 200,000 people to lose their jobs last year, with unemployment reaching an all-time high of 15 percent by late March.
With pay in the private sector also often falling by 10 to 20 percent, consumption likewise dropped by nearly 10 percent and the recession intensified. It’s a vicious circle. Since taxes need to increase and spending needs to decrease, the situation is likely only to get worse.
by ilene - May 11th, 2011 11:57 pm
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
By Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone Magazine
The People vs. Goldman Sachs
They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.
Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.
The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — "a million fraud cases a year" is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin’s small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street’s aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008.
To date, there has been only one successful prosecution of a financial big fish from the mortgage bubble, and that was Lee Farkas, a Florida lender who was just convicted on a smorgasbord of fraud charges and now faces life in prison. But Farkas, sadly, is just an exception proving the rule: Like Bernie Madoff, his comically excessive crime spree (which involved such lunacies as kiting checks to his own bank…
by ilene - March 17th, 2011 3:45 pm
THE BANKS MUST BE RESTRAINED, AND THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM REFORMED, WITH BALANCE RESTORED TO THE ECONOMY, BEFORE THERE CAN BE ANY SUSTAINED RECOVERY – Jesse
I have long been a fan of Jesse’s Café Américain. Jesse is a brilliant writer and a deep thinker who uniquely transcends politics, easily seeing through lies and disinformation. He has a great feel for what really matters, and the courage to speak out about it. Jesse and I have spoken before about the economy, markets and politics, and being at a crossroads once again, it was a perfect time to catch up.
Ilene: Hi Jesse, since our last interview, I would guess that we’d both agree that nothing has been done to clean up the financial system – the banks and government interconnectedness, conflicts of interest, and out-and-out fraudulent activities. Are things better or worse, or in line, with what you were expecting over a year ago?
Jesse: I think things are progressing in line with what I had expected, with the Fed and the government trying to prop up an unsustainable status quo by monetizing debt. I am still a little shocked by the brazen manner in which the financial markets are being conducted and regulated, and the news is reported in the US. It is one thing to hold a theory that says something will happen, but it is quite another to see it actually happening, and so blatantly, almost without a word of protest.
Ilene: How do you view our financial system and the global financial system now, with no progress towards any kind of reform?
Jesse: The US is now being run by an oligarchy, with lip service being paid to the electorate in allowing the people to vote for the candidates that the parties and the powers will put forward. There will be no recovery for the middle class until they assert themselves. I know I have stated this often in my tag phrase, “The banks must be restrained…” But it is the case.
There are areas of resistance to this trend on what one might call ‘the fringes of Empire,’ those client states which have been ruled by powerful cliques with the support and the protection of the US. Although certainly not a great analogy, it does remind one of…
by ilene - March 9th, 2011 3:54 pm
The Middle Kingdom’s prosperity is an illusion. And when China finally falls, we’ll all feel the pain.
As fearmongering election campaign ads go, it’s hard to top the "Chinese Professor," which flickered across the Internet just before Americans went to the polls last fall. In the spot, set in a sleek Beijing lecture hall 20 years in the future, a sharply dressed Chinese instructor explains to his Asian students why previous empires, from Ancient Greece to the U.S.A., turned to dust. The Americans failed because they lost sight of their principles, he says in Mandarin, with subtitles. They overspent, overtaxed and over–borrowed. "Of course, we owned most of their debt," he cackles, as the class joins in. "So now they work for us."
If you missed the ad, put out by the conservative group Citizens Against Government Waste, no matter. The notion that China’s headed for superpower status at the expense of the United States has been repeated so often that many in the West now take it as an undisputable fact. With breathless enthusiasm economists predict China’s red–hot economy will power past America’s to become the world’s largest in just 15 years. Bookstore shelves are filled with titles like China’s Ascent and When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, in which author Martin Jacques argues America is in denial about the fact China is its "usurper and ultimate replacement." Hollywood’s even getting in on the act with a remake of the 1980s Cold War paranoia flick Red Dawn, in which Soviet soldiers overran a Midwest American town. Only this time, the marauders are Chinese. Having conquered American capitalism, the People’s Liberation Army is coming for America’s Capitol, too.
It’s easy to find evidence that ostensibly confirms China’s unstoppable ascent. Try this: Go to Google News and type in "China," along with any laudatory adjective, then add the suffix "–est." Do so, and you’ll learn that China is building the world’s third–tallest skyscraper ("China usurps U.S. in skyscrapers"); it produces the smartest children ("Chinese students outperform U.S. in recent test") and now boasts of the world’s fastest trains ("China’s fastest train leaves rest of world behind"). This super–country narrative has become so pervasive that the majority of Americans take it for granted. At the end of last
by ilene - February 28th, 2011 2:20 am
Stephen Colbert reports on technothriller going on between Wikileaks, Anonymous (a "global hacker nerd brigade") and Aaron Barr. H/t Ron. – Ilene
A corporate hacker tries to take down WikiLeaks by faking documents and blackmailing American journalists.
by ilene - February 27th, 2011 8:22 am
Here’s the latest edition of Stock World Weekly: Irresistible Forces Meet Immovable Objects. - Ilene
On Saturday, February 27, the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) voted unanimously to institute sanctions on Libya, including travel bans and freezing the assets of Muammar al-Gaddafi and others associated with his regime. Protests have dragged into their twelfth day, and protestors refuse to yield in the face of utterly horrific retaliation by Gaddafi’s loyal forces. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice said, “When atrocities are committed against innocents, the international community must act with one voice – and tonight it has.”
The Telegraph reported over the weekend that Gaddafi apparently made good on his threats to trigger a civil war, using irregular forces largely composed of hired mercenaries to launch a counterattack against protesters. “Anywhere we go there is danger,” said one woman, a 28-year-old mother of four who asked not to be named. “All we want is food and fresh water for our children but it is impossible to find. Security is the only concern of the authorities.”
An accurate report of the death toll is impossible to obtain at this time, but on Wednesday, Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini said, “We believe that the estimates of about 1,000 are credible.” The situation in Libya has deteriorated since then. Multiple stories coming in from all over the country have cited dozens to hundreds of casualties in each city. It appears that Libya has slipped into the abyss of complete social breakdown and civil war.
This is just one example of the tide of popular unrest that has been unleashed in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s and other central banks’ inflationary policies. The chart below shows the U.S. Adjusted Monetary Base increasing from $1.75Tn in 2009, to $2.0Tn in 2010, and now nearing $2.3Tn, an increase of $300Bn in just two months! This represents an increase of 35% in less than 18 months. (The U.S. Monetary Base is the total amount of currency that is circulating in the hands of the public or in the commercial bank deposits held in reserves of member banks of the Federal Reserve System.)
by ilene - February 20th, 2011 5:19 am
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
The answer to the question "why does the government need software to create a bunch of fake Internet "people?" is probably quite simple, and while Daily Kos seems to feel it has to do with attacking progressives, I’m afraid the aim of the purchase is far more subversive and far-reaching. Leave it to libtards to take it personally and ignore the fact that there is an ongoing war against Americans, waged by their own government, that has so far claimed our privacy, freedom and now our economic well-being.
I also remind Daily Kos here that the American progressive is already an extinct creature, replaced by leftist maniacs too drunk on their own perceived invincibility to realize that they’re the ones holding the torches as Rome burns. I have no problem with progressives and could probably play one on TV as I believe in crazy ideas like advancing knowledge and equal rights and am fascinated by the sociology of economics, all matters progressives tend to say they are into. I believe gays should be allowed to marry but churches should be allowed to say they refuse to marry them (that’s the whole separation of church and state we seem to have forgotten about). Just as the true conservative has been replaced with a holier-than-thou army of Christian fundamentalist freaks who obviously haven’t read a Bible lately since the one I read said something about "love your brother" and "judge not lest ye be judged," we are once again losing the battle by fighting amongst ourselves over semantics instead of attacking the true enemy.
But what if the enemy could replicate itself to infinity and invade our most sacred space of information exchange, the Internet? Worse, what if they already have?
We have known for a long time this happens. It’s why sketchy IP addresses show up in my stats and comments appear on politically-charged websites that seem to paint the OP as a kook or set up a critical mass of straw men to otherwise discredit the point of the article. I’ve seen it in practice and it’s usually more sad than frightening. Real commenters get so caught up in their feelings they let their emotions bleed through the keyboard. Real commenters are idiot Americans who were churned through our sub-par public school system and don’t know…
by ilene - February 9th, 2011 3:49 pm
Courtesy of Mish
MarketWatch reports Paul slams Fed’s bond-buying program
Outspoken Federal Reserve critic Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, slammed the central bank’s latest $600 billion bond-buying program on Wednesday, saying it and near-zero interest rates haven’t led to job creation in the United States.
“Over $4 trillion in bailout facilities and outright debt monetization, combined with interest rates near zero for over two years, have not and will not contribute to increased employment,” Paul said at a hearing of a House Financial Services subcommittee he heads.
“Debt monetization” is a reference by Paul and other Fed critics to the Fed’s latest bond-buying program — a characterization rejected by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
In essence, Paul is charging that the central bank is enabling profligate spending by the government. The term “debt monetization” is a buzzword for how some poorer countries conducted policies in the post-World War II era.
Political Pressure on Fed Mounts
WSJ’s Sudeep Reddy reports on concerns the Federal Reserve could be facing political pressure from Congress, as Rep. Ron Paul holds the first hearing of a new Fed oversight committee. Separately, Fed Chairman Bernanke updates Congress on the economy.
If the above YouTube does not play here is a link: Rep. Ron Paul Ignites Fed Worry
Mubarak’s Acts of Cowardice; Obama Calls Mubarak for 30-Minutes; Cell Service, Internet Total Shutdown; Anarchy in Cairo; How Long can Mubarak Last?
by ilene - January 29th, 2011 3:04 pm
Courtesy of Mish
The situation in Egypt has gone from bad to worse. Cairo is in a state of near-anarchy and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s cowardly disruptions to the internet and cell phones have made things worse.
Egyptian citizens unable to get news on the internet or cell phones have only one place to get it now, the street.
President Obama called Mubarak in a 30-minute phone call. Obama’s message was "Ultimately, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people."
If that was a hint, Mubarak did not get it. Instead, Cairo is in flames as protesters have turned more defiant.
Mubarak Orders Crackdown, With Revolt Sweeping Egypt
The New York Times reports Mubarak Orders Crackdown, With Revolt Sweeping Egypt
With police stations and the governing party’s headquarters in flames, and much of this crucial Middle Eastern nation in open revolt, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt deployed the nation’s military and imposed a near-total blackout on communications to save his authoritarian government of nearly 30 years.
Friday’s protests were the largest and most diverse yet, including young and old, women with Louis Vuitton bags and men in galabeyas, factory workers and film stars. All came surging out of mosques after midday prayers headed for Tahrir Square, and their clashes with the police left clouds of tear gas wafting through empty streets.
By nightfall, the protesters had burned down the ruling party’s headquarters in Cairo, and looters marched away with computers, briefcases and other equipment emblazoned with the party’s logo. Other groups assaulted the Interior Ministry and the state television headquarters, until after dark when the military occupied both buildings and regained control. At one point, the American Embassy came under attack.
Six Cairo police stations and several police cars were in flames, and stations in Suez and other cities were burning as well. Office equipment and police vehicles burned, and the police seemed to have retreated from Cairo’s main streets. Brigades of riot police officers deployed at mosques, bridges and intersections, and they battered the protesters with tear gas, water, rubber-coated bullets and, by day’s end, live ammunition.
Cairo in Near-Anarchy
The Washington Post reports Cairo in near-anarchy as protesters push to oust president
The Egyptian capital descended into near anarchy Friday night, as the government sent riot police, and then the army, to quell protests by tens of thousands of demonstrators determined to
by ilene - January 23rd, 2011 3:20 pm