Posts Tagged ‘Dean Baker’

The Road to World War III – The Global Banking Cartel Has One Card Left to Play

The Road to World War III – The Global Banking Cartel Has One Card Left to Play

By David DeGraw (h/t ZH)

The following is Part I to David DeGraw’s new book, “The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III.” This is the second installment to a new seven-part series that we will be posting throughout the next few weeks. You can read the introduction to the book here. To be notified via email of new postings from this series, subscribe here.

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Editor’s Note: The following is Part I to David DeGraw’s new book, “The Road Through 2012: Revolution or World War III.” This is the second installment to a new seven-part series that we will be posting throughout the next few weeks. You can read the introduction to the book here. To be notified via email of new postings from this series, subscribe here.

I: Economic Imperial Operations

The Road to World War III - The Global Banking Cartel Has One Card Left to PlayWhen we analyze our current crisis, focusing on the past few years of economic activity blinds us to the history and context that are vital to understanding the root cause. What we have been experiencing is not the result of an unforeseen economic crash that appeared out of the blue with the collapse of the housing market. It was certainly not brought on by people who bought homes they couldn’t afford. To frame this crisis around a debate on economic theory misses the point entirely. To even blame it on greedy bankers,…
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Burning Down the House

Burning Down the House

Courtesy of DEAN BAKER at CEPR 

This column was originally published by The Guardian. 

Las Vegas, US housing market, foreclosures, mortgages

Trash is piled up outside houses at the abandoned Desert Mesa subdivision in Nevada. The north Las Vegas housing authority started the project in 2004, but the entire subdivision has since fallen into foreclosure. Nevada continues to lead the nation in foreclosures, unemployment and bankruptcies. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The howls of surprised economists were everywhere last week as the government reported on Tuesday that July had the sharpest single-month plunge in existing home sales on record. The next day the Commerce Department reported that new home sales hit a post-war low in July.

All the economists who had told us that the housing market had stabilized and that prices would soon rebound looked really foolish yet again. To understand how lost these professional error-makers really are it is only necessary to know that the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) puts out data on mortgage applications every week. The MBA index plummeted beginning in May, immediately after the last day (April 30) for signing a house sale contract that qualified for the homebuyers tax credit.

It typically takes 6-8 weeks between when a contract is signed and a house sale closes. The plunge in applications in May meant that homebuyers were not signing contracts to buy homes. This meant that sales would plummet in July. Economists with a clue were not surprised by the July plunge in home sales.

What should be clear is that the tax credits helped to pull housing demand forward. People who might have bought in the second half of 2010 or even 2011 instead bought their home before the tax credit expired. Now that the credit has expired, there is less demand than ever, leaving the market open for another plunge in prices. The support the tax credit gave to the housing market was only temporary.

It is worth asking what was accomplished by spending tens of billions of dollars to prop up the market for a bit over a year with these tax credits. First, this allowed millions of people to sell their home over this period at a higher price than would…
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The Attack of the Real Black Helicopter Gang: The IMF Is Coming for Your Social Security

The Attack of the Real Black Helicopter Gang: The IMF Is Coming for Your Social Security

Courtesy of Dean Baker at CEPR, writing at Truthout

See article on original website

A few years back there was a fear in some parts about black UN helicopters that were supposedly taking part in the planning of an invasion of the United States. While there was no foundation for this fear, there is basis for concern about the attack of another international organization, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

Last week the IMF told the United States that it needs to start getting its budget deficit down. It put cutting Social Security at the top of the steps that the country should take to achieve deficit reduction. This one is more than a bit outrageous for two reasons.

First, the IMF deserves a substantial share of the blame for the economic crisis that gave us big deficits in the first place. The IMF is supposed to oversee the operations of the international financial system. According to standard economic theory, capital is supposed to flow from rich countries like the United States to poor countries to finance their development. In other words, the United States should be having a trade surplus, which would correspond to the money that we are investing in poor countries to finance their development.

However, the IMF messed up its management of financial crises so badly in the last 15 years that poor countries decided that they had to accumulate huge amounts of currency reserves in order to avoid ever being forced to deal with the IMF. This meant that capital was flowing in huge amounts in the wrong direction. One result of this reverse flow was that the United States ran a huge trade deficit instead of a trade surplus. 

The trade deficit in the United States was a big part of the story of the housing bubble. The trade deficit cost millions of workers their jobs. This was one of the main reasons that economy was so weak coming out of the 2001 recession. This weakness led the Fed to keep interest rates at 50-year lows, until the growth of the housing bubble eventually began to generate jobs in the fall of 2003.

The IMF both bears much of the blame for the imbalances in the world economy and then for failing to clearly sound the…
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Drunk Driving at BP

Drunk Driving at BP

Dangers of Driving When Drunk

Courtesy of DEAN BAKER, at CEPR

While BP has taken some heat over its spill in the Gulf, it is remarkable how limited the anger actually is. Many defenders of the company have made the obvious point: It was an accident. BP did not intend to have a massive spill that killed 11 people, devastated the Gulf ecosystem and threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers.

Of course this is true, but it is also true that a drunk driver who runs into a school bus did not intend to be involved in a fatal collision. As a society, we have no problem holding the drunk driver responsible for a predictable outcome of their recklessness. Driving while drunk dramatically increases the risk of an accident. This is why it is punished severely. A person who is responsible for a fatal accident while driving drunk can expect to face many years in jail. Even someone who drives drunk without being in an accident often faces jail time because of the risk they imposed on others.

This raises the question as to why the public seems to accept that the top officials at BP, who cut corners and made risky gambles in their drilling plans, should be able to “get my life back,” as BP CEO Tony Hayward put it. The people who lost their livelihood as a result of BP’s spill will not get their lives back, even if BP does pay compensation. Certainly the 11 workers killed in the original explosion will not get their lives back. Why should the people responsible for this carnage be able to resume their lives of luxury?

There are two separate questions. The first is a narrow legal issue concerning the extent to which Hayward and other high-level executives can be held criminally liable for the accident. It may be the case that the laws are written so that even if companies commit gross negligence that results in enormous harm, including multiple deaths, top officials are not criminally liable. This is a question about the status of current law.

The second question is a moral and economic one about what the laws should look like. From either standpoint, it is very difficult to see why we would want to say that reckless behavior that would be punished with long prison sentences if done by…
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Are the Losses of Fannie and Freddie Now “National Policy”?

Are the Losses of Fannie and Freddie Now "National Policy"?

Courtesy of Trader Mark, Fund My Mutual Fund 

fannie and freddieBarry Ritholtz and Dean Baker discuss a concept I’ve advanced – effectively Fannie and Freddie (or as we call them around here, FanFredron) are being run for loss to create a false housing economy via subsidization. They do put forth an additional point that I have not harped on as much: one added benefit of this ‘policy’ is our financial oligarchs win…. again.

If we ever do get back to a world where the private sector is truly a part of financing the housing market it is going to be mighty interesting to see what true mortgage rates will settle at, now that ‘strategic default’ is part of the American lexicon. The higher risks involved will create an increase in costs to every future mortgage due to this exciting new fad. But with government now supporting some 95%+ of all financing this is an issue that won’t face us for many years. Thankfully the government does not price in any risk and gleefully backs mortgages of almost any kind (still). Until some far in the future reform date, more below market rates offered by the 2 institutions that can gladly lose money forever – ponzi style.

(Amazing fact I heard the other day, Fannie Mae has lost more money the past 2 years than it made the previous 30 years. Chew on that for a moment before you move onto the next paragraph. Thankfully there is no such thing as a clawback in corporate America.)

6 minute video

 

The Senate on Tuesday rejected a Republican sponsored measure that would effectively cut off support to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in two years. The government-sponsored enterprises, now in conservatorship, have already cost the government about $145 billion.

And there’s no limit to how much more they can ask for for the next two years!

Fannie Mae lost $11.5 billion in the first quarter while Freddie Mac lost more…
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Wall Street Deficit Hawks Have No Shame

Wall Street Deficit Hawks Have No Shame

alan greenspanCourtesy of Dean Baker of Center for Economic and Policy Research

Almost 25 million people are unemployed or underemployed right now. This was a completely preventable disaster. This is worth repeating a few hundred billion times so that even the geniuses in Washington can understand it.

The disaster was completely preventable. The reason we had the disaster was that the people controlling economic policy, that would be people like Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin, either had no clue about the housing bubble or deliberately decided to ignore it.

Nothing about this story is complicated – let’s write this so that even a Wall Street billionaire can understand it. We had an $8 trillion housing bubble. It was inevitable that it would collapse. Bubbles do that. When we get an over-priced housing market then builders build more homes. That’s because it becomes very profitable to build homes when prices are high. If builders keep building lots of homes, then eventually there will not be enough people to buy them at bubble–inflated prices, even with the loony mortgages being pushed at the time by the Wall Street banks.

When people can no longer buy homes, their prices drop. When their prices drop people will default on their mortgages and banks lose lots of money.

man read a newspaper in bath

More importantly, when prices drop, builders stop building homes. People also stop spending money based on their housing bubble wealth. The falloff in construction and consumption implies more than $1 trillion in lost demand in the economy. This lost demand throws the economy into a serious recession, with tens of millions of people losing their jobs. It’s all very very simple. You probably don’t even need an intro economics course to understand it.

But, the deficit hawks, led by Wall Street investment banker Peter Peterson either did not see the bubble or chose to ignore it. They ran around the country in the peak years of the housing bubble yelling about “fiscal irresponsibility” even as the housing bubble was growing to ever more dangerous levels. They used their money and their political standing to dominate public debate and crowd out those of us who were trying to warn about the bubble. There were numerous television shows, radio shows and news stories devoted to their dire warnings about the deficit. They even persuaded a major documentary maker to put out…
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Taylor, NY Times, Dean Baker Call Out Bernanke

Taylor, NY Times, Dean Baker Call Out Bernanke

Courtesy of Mish

Oil being poured into water, studio shot

Bernanke’s hubris, inability to admit mistakes, and his blaming everyone but himself for his mistakes is increasingly starting to touch on nerves.

On Tuesday, the New York Times asked the right question: If Fed Missed This Bubble, Will It See a New One?

In 2005, Mr. Bernanke — then a Bush administration official — said a housing bubble was “a pretty unlikely possibility.” As late as May 2007, he said that Fed officials “do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy.”

The fact that Mr. Bernanke and other regulators still have not explained why they failed to recognize the last bubble is the weakest link in the Fed’s push for more power. It raises the question: Why should Congress, or anyone else, have faith that future Fed officials will recognize the next bubble?

Just this week, Mr. Bernanke went to the annual meeting of academic economists in Atlanta to offer his own history of Fed policy during the bubble. Most of his speech, though, was a spirited defense of the Fed’s interest rate policy, complete with slides and formulas, like (pt – pt*) > 0. Only in the last few minutes did he discuss lax regulation. The solution, he said, was “better and smarter” regulation. He never acknowledged that the Fed simply missed the bubble.

“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis,” Mr. Bernanke said on CNBC in 2005.

“The Federal Reserve has unparalleled expertise,” Mr. Bernanke told Congress last month. “We have a great group of economists, financial market experts and others who are unique in Washington in their ability to address these issues.”

Fair enough. At some point, though, it sure would be nice to hear those experts explain how they missed the biggest bubble of our time.

Useless Expertise

All that "expertise" was less than useless. It is amazing how hopeless Bernanke was about housing, about jobs, about the recession, about everything.

Bernanke did not get a single thing right.

Taylor Disputes Bernanke

Please consider Taylor Disputes Bernanke on Bubble, Says Low Rates Played Role.

John Taylor, creator of the so-called Taylor rule for guiding monetary policy, disputed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s argument that low interest rates didn’t


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The Ongoing Cover Up of the Truth Behind the Financial Crisis May Lead to Another Crash

Perhaps the best introduction to this terrific article by (the other) George Washington is in the comment section. So why should we care about the crimes and the cover ups?  Our freedom depends on our government enforcing and abiding by the law. It’s apparent that we are headed down the slippery slope Justice Louis Brandeis describes in Olmstead v. United States (1928):Justice Louis Brandeis

"In a government of laws, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipotent teacher. For good or ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If government becomes a lawbreaker it breeds contempt for law: it invites every man to become a law unto himself. It invites anarchy."

We have the Federal government’s massive and flagrant display of lawlessness, and population somewhere on the way from apathy to dependency in the Fatal Sequence cycle of civilization.  Not winning a combination if you ask me. – Ilene

The Ongoing Cover Up of the Truth Behind the Financial Crisis May Lead to Another Crash

Courtesy of George Washington’s Blog

William K. Black – professor of economics and the senior regulator during the S & L crisis – says that that the government’s entire strategy now – as during the S&L crisis – is to cover up how bad things are ("the entire strategy is to keep people from getting the facts").

Indeed, as I have previously documented, 7 out of the 8 giant, money center banks went bankrupt in the 1980′s during the "Latin American Crisis", and the government’s response was to cover up their insolvency.

Black also says:

There has been no honest examination of the crisis because it would embarrass C.E.O.s and politicians . . .

Instead, the Treasury and the Fed are urging us not to examine the crisis and to believe that all will soon be well.

PhD economist Dean Baker made a similar point, lambasting the Federal Reserve for blowing the bubble, and pointing out that those who caused the disaster are trying to shift the focus as fast as they can:

The current craze in DC policy circles is to create a "systematic risk regulator" to make sure that the country never


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Politics

TRUMP CONCEDES (SORT OF)

 

TRUMP CONCEDES (SORT OF)

Courtesy of Teri Kanefield

The Trump Legal team filed more documents today in the appellate court. I tweeted a bit about how silly they were (let me know if you all want me to march through them). Then this happened:

Trump giving the go-ahead for the transition to get underway was (I believe) the closest he will get to conceding the election. Two amusing things happened. First, Trump tweeted this about 10 minutes after Emily Murphy submitted a letter saying she would move forward, and that she has made her decisions solely on her own and not at anyone’s direction. Looks like Trump wanted people to think that she was, in fact, acting at his direction.

The other amusing part was that Tr...



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Phil's Favorites

TRUMP CONCEDES (SORT OF)

 

TRUMP CONCEDES (SORT OF)

Courtesy of Teri Kanefield

The Trump Legal team filed more documents today in the appellate court. I tweeted a bit about how silly they were (let me know if you all want me to march through them). Then this happened:

Trump giving the go-ahead for the transition to get underway was (I believe) the closest he will get to conceding the election. Two amusing things happened. First, Trump tweeted this about 10 minutes after Emily Murphy submitted a letter saying she would move forward, and that she has made her decisions solely on her own and not at anyone’s direction. Looks like Trump wanted people to think that she was, in fact, acting at his direction.

The other amusing part was t...



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ValueWalk

Proposed Klamath River Dams Removal: The Height Of Obtuse Thinking?

By William E. Simpson II. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Considering the recent revelations as published in several California newspapers regarding the Klamath River dams removal proposal, many important questions arise to those who are using logic to examine the fishy-reasoning for considering the removal of several perfectly good dams.

Q3 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Photo: William E. Simpson II: CAL-FIRE tanker trucks and helicopters dr...

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Zero Hedge

As Oil Soars, Former NHL Player Turned Hedge Fund Manager Says "Inevitable" It Will Go Higher

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Update (1100ET): WTI jyust broke above $45 as today's move goes vertical. This is the highest price for oil since March, which is interesting given that Cushing storage is near capacity...

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If you're bullish on oil, we've got good news and bad news. The good news is that one hedge fund manager is finally taking an outsized bet on oil and is making headlines...



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Biotech/COVID-19

Why the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is now a global game changer

 

Why the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is now a global game changer

Courtesy of Michael Head, University of Southampton

In the long dark tunnel that has been 2020, November stands out as the month that light appeared. Some might see it as a bright light, others as a faint light – but it is unmistakably a light.

On November 9, Pfizer announced the interim results of its candidate vaccine, showing it to be “more than 90% effective” in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in late-stage human trials. The news was greeted with joy.

A ...



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Chart School

Bitcoin Chart Review

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Bitcoin is testing its old all time high. Bitcoin is not alone as it is at the same party of all risk on trends. Abundant end of year liquidity, add the relief of finishing US elections will see the end of the buyers strike and gains should continue (just like 2016).

Bitcoin is on fourth types of charts held within readtheticker.com, each chart answers different questions.

Charts ...

Cycle charts shows off price and time cycles, with forecasts.


Click for popup. Clear your browser cache if image is not showing.




Long term channels, with time and price targets.


Click f...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Transports Sending Strong Bullish Message To Other Dow Indices?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Are Transportation stocks about to send a quality bullish message to other Dow indices this month? Sure could be!

This 3-pack looks at the Dow Jones Industrials, Transports, and Utilities indices on a monthly basis.

One week from the end of a month, the DJ Transports are attempting an important bullish breakout at (1). Unless a sharp reversal takes place in the next week, Transports could close out the month at new monthly closing highs!

The Dow is attempting to close at all-time highs this month, while the Dow Utilities Index remains a few percent below 2020 highs....



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Digital Currencies

Dalio Admits "I Might Be Missing Something" As Bitcoin Surges Above $18,000

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

Since the US election, Bitcoin prices (in USD) have surged a stunning 40%, also lurching higher after each vaccine headline hit.

Source: Bloomberg

Getting ever closer to its all-time record high...

Source: Bloomberg

As crypto prices soared overnight, Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio stepped back into the fray, saying in a Twitter thread that “I might be missing something about Bitco...



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Mapping The Market

COVID-19 Forces More Than Half of Asset Management Firms to Accelerate Adoption of Digital Marketing Technology

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

There is no doubt that the use of technology to support client engagement initiatives brings both opportunities and threats but this has been brought into sharp focus this year with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The crisis has brought to the fore the need for firms to enable flexibility in client engagement – the expectation that providers will communicate to clients on their terms, at their speed and frequency and on their preferred channels, is now a given. This is even more critical when clients are experiencing unparalleled anxiety from both market conditions and their own personal circumstances.

...

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The Technical Traders

Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling System Suggests Market Peak May Be Near

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system is suggesting a moderate price peak may be already setting up in the NASDAQ while the Dow Jones, S&P500, and Transportation Index continue to rally beyond the projected Fibonacci Price Expansion Levels.  This indicates that capital may be shifting away from the already lofty Technology sector and into Basic Materials, Financials, Energy, Consumer Staples, Utilities, as well as other sectors.

This type of a structural market shift indicates a move away from speculation and towards Blue Chip returns. It suggests traders and investors are expecting the US consumer to come back strong (or at least hold up the market at...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia - The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

 

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia – The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

Courtesy of Lee Adler, WallStreetExaminer 

The numbers of new cases in some of the hardest hit COVID19 states have started to plateau, or even decline, over the past few days. A few pundits have noted it and concluded that it was a hopeful sign. 

Is it real or is something else going on? Like a restriction in the numbers of tests, or simply the inability to test enough, or are some people simply giving up on getting tested? Because as we all know from our dear leader, the less testing, the less...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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