Posts Tagged ‘Democracy’

Only $4.2 Billion To Buy This Election?

Only $4.2 Billion To Buy This Election?

Courtesy of Robert Reich

This, from the Washington Post’s conservative pundit George Will:

Total spending by parties, campaigns and issue-advocacy groups concerning every office from county clerks to U.S. senators may reach a record $4.2 billion in this two-year cycle. That is about what Americans spend in one year on yogurt, but less than they spend on candy in two Halloween seasons. Proctor & Gamble spent $8.6 billion on advertising in its last fiscal year.

Those who are determined to reduce the quantity of political speech to what they consider the proper amount are the sort of people who know exactly how much water should come through our shower heads — no more than 2.5 gallons per minute, as stipulated by a 1992 law. Is it, however, worrisome that Americans spend on political advocacy — determining who should make and administer the laws — much less than they spend on potato chips, $7.1 billion a year?

In a word, Mr. Will, yes.

The number of dollars spent isn’t the issue; it’s the lopsidedness of where the dollars come from. Even if the total were only $1000, democracy would be endangered if $980 came from large corporations and wealthy individuals. The trend is clear and worrisome: The great bulk of campaign money is coming from a narrower and narrower circle of moneyed interests.

Anyone who doubts the corrupting effect has not been paying attention. Our elected representatives have been acutely sensitive to the needs of Wall Street bankers, hedge-fund managers, and the executives of big pharma, big oil, and the largest health insurance companies. This is not because these individuals and interests are particularly worthy or specially deserving. It is because they are effectively bribing elected officials with their donations. Such donations are not made out of charitable impulse. They are calculated investments no less carefully considered than investments in particular shares of stock. They are shares in our democracy.

Why $4.2 billion and not ten times that amount? Because the high-rolling political investors don’t need to spend a dollar more in order to exert overwhelming influence.

This figure, by the way, leaves out the tens of billions of dollars dedicated to lobbying, lawyering, and public relations — all of which deliver specific legislative outcomes the campaign money fuels. The economy of Washington, D.C. depends on this gigantic flow of funds (supporting…
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Concentration of Wealth is Destroying Democracy

In this excellent essay, George Washington II concludes that America is no longer a nation governed by the rule of law.  Might this be why the stock market rally over the past year has been labeled by some as the "most hated rally"? – Ilene 

Concentration of Wealth is Destroying Democracy

Courtesy of Washington’s Blog

As I wrote in 2008:

The economy is like a poker game … it is human nature to want to get all of the chips, but noted that – if one person does get all of the chips – the game ends.

In other words, the game of capitalism only continues as long as everyone has some money to play with. If the government and corporations take everyone’s money, the game ends.

The fed and Treasury are not giving more chips to those who need them: the American consumer. Instead, they are giving chips to the 800-pound gorillas at the poker table, such as Wall Street investment banks. Indeed, a good chunk of the money used by surviving mammoth players to buy the failing behemoths actually comes from the Fed. 

No wonder billionaire George Soros says that the way US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was handling the situation was "very reminiscent of the way the central bankers talked in the 1930s", the time of the Great Depression.

And no wonder Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz stresses putting poker chips back in the hands of the little guy …

This is not a question of big government versus small government, or republican versus democrat. It is not even a question of Keynes versus Friedman (two influential, competing economic thinkers).

It is a question of focusing any government funding which is made to the majority of poker players – instead of the titans of finance – so that the game can continue. If the hundreds of billions or trillions spent on bailouts had instead been given to ease the burden of consumers, we would have already recovered from the financial crisis.

As FDR’s Fed chairman Marriner S. Eccles explained:

As in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit ran out, the game stopped.

As I pointed out last August, and again …
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The Grand Chinese Fraud

Here’s Karl Denninger on China,…

The Grand Chinese Fraud

Wen JaibaoWen "cats in the kettle" Jaibao spouted:

“I don’t think the renminbi is undervalued,” Wen said yesterday at a press conference in Beijing marking the end of China’s annual parliamentary meetings, using another term for the yuan. “We oppose countries pointing fingers at each other and even forcing a country to appreciate its currency.”

Oh really?

It’s time that we stop the the BS here with regard to China.

The entire premise of so-called "Free Trade" with the Chinese was predicated on the belief that if we opened our borders to their products on a "no tariff" basis that we would, over time, change their political system.  That is, we would import cheap Chinese plastic junk and export democracy.  More or less.

Well, we got all the cheap DVD players but they didn’t get any democracy.  Quite to the contrary.  There have been no meaningful improvements in areas of environmental protection, workers rights and wages or political freedom.  Indeed, the recent dust-up with Google just underlines the reality in China:Their government is a band of murderous brigands and thugs.

Disagree with them inside their nation, refuse to censor The Internet, for example, so that people can’t read about Falun Gong and China will be happy to arrest the executives of your firm inside the nation and provide this as "corrective influence" to your head:

Oh, they send the 50 cent bill for it to your family too.  Isn’t that special?

At least in this country they don’t shoot people for talking about the evil-doing that both private parties and government…
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Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy

Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy

Courtesy of Robert Reich

Political Conference

I wish conservatives would stop complaining about big government and start worrying about the real problem – small democracy. I wish we’d all worry more about our incredible shrinking democracy.

It seems as if more and more decisions that should be made democratically are being shunted off somewhere to a few people who make them in back rooms. Which programs should be cut, which entitlements pared back, and what taxes raised in order to reduce the long-term budget deficit? Hmmm. Let’s convene a commission and have them decide.

Commissions are a default mechanism when politicians want to hand off difficult issues to “experts.” But reducing the long-term budget deficit has almost nothing to do with expertise. It’s about our nations’ values and priorities. Nothing could be more central to the democratic process.

Democracy requires at least three things: (1) Important decisions are made in the open. (2) The public and its representatives have an opportunity to debate them, so the decisions can be revised in light of what the public discovers and wants. And (3) those who make the big decisions are accountable to voters.

But these principles are in retreat, and I say this not just because of the proposed deficit commission.

The notorious Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) began with a virtual blank check from Congress. Treasury officials then secretly decided which companies were to receive hundreds of billions of dollars. Why these particular entities were chosen and not others remains a mystery. For months, the Treasury didn’t even disclose the identities of the major banks that giant insurer AIG repaid with its bailout money – 100 cents on each dollar AIG owed them.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has gone far beyond its traditional role of setting short-term interest rates. It has bought up massive amounts of debt – mortgage debt, Treasury bills, and debt instruments emanating several public agencies, many of them supporting a wide range of private entities. No one outside the Fed knows the ultimate beneficiaries of all this government backing, the criteria used by the Fed for making these commitments, or even how much debt the Fed is buying.

Even if the economic emergency justified such secrecy – and it’s hard to see exactly why it would – the emergency is over, and yet closed-door decision making…
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Zero Hedge

Today's Stock Market Is A Casino Powered By Easy Money And Boredom

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Via Birch Gold Group,

We are already aware of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s stance on rates and inflation (at least for the immediate future).

That loose monetary policy has the potential to inflate a big asset bubble on its own. But that isn’t the only Fed policy that could be (at least indirectly) wreaking havoc on the economy.

The first Fed...



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ValueWalk

Adversity and Pandemics: Dr Yosef Alhasany's Innovative Perspective on Psychoanalysis

By Adriaan Brits. Originally published at ValueWalk.

  • The WHO pointed out that the pandemic caused mass trauma bigger than that of WWII
  • A unique and ‘medically realistic’ approach provides new, innovative insights and paves the way towards a much brighter future in today’s challenging and stigma-infested society in relation to Mental Health.
  • With the arrival of COVID-19 mental health issues have seen a drastic incline worldwide, and more people are now looking for a form of therapy that actually works. 

The adversity brought by the global pandemic, have experts rethink mental health provisions, most notably, access to ass...



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Phil's Favorites

Goldman, Bank Of America Made Hundreds Of Millions From Texas Blackouts

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

Who needs Enron when you have taxpayer-backed "banks."

Whereas 20 years ago, it was Enron that made billions from the California electricity crisis (which it caused), a scandal which culminated with Enron's scandalous and convoluted bankruptcy, this time it is pristine banks such as Goldman and Bank of America that made hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue as tens of millions of Texans were stuck in the dark.

A...



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Chart School

Who is King? The Bond Market or the FED

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

The King Arthur story is battle between a false KING and the true KING. Generally the movie involves surprises, love and violence, and all this coming to the risk on markets very soon. 

The financial blog space expects the FED to do some sort of Yield Curve Control (YCC) to hold interest rates down while inflation moves higher, this is allowing inflation to run hot. The FED wishes to do this over time to deflate the debt away. Very similar to the 1940's post WW2, yields were pegged to 2% and risk on assets went sky high.

However Peter Boockvar suggest the FED may soon learn it is not in control and the true king of the markets is the BOND MARKET. Peter says simply the bond market is telling the FED to bite me!

The FED is not us...

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Biotech/COVID-19

88% Of COVID Deaths Occurred In Countries Where Over Half Of Population Overweight

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

A new report by the World Obesity Federation found that 88% of deaths in the first year of the pandemic occurred in countries where over half of the population is classified as overweight - which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) above 25. Of note, BMI values above 30 - considered obese - are associated with 'particularly severe outcomes,' accor...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Tech Indicator Peaking Again At Dot.com Highs? Joe Friday Says Watch This Index!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Technology is at the heart of our economy… the same way that industrials were 100 years ago.

And that leadership has been present in the stock market for the past two decades. Today’s chart illustrates this… as well as a potential “pause” in that leadership vacuum.

Below is a long-term “monthly” ratio chart of the Nasdaq Composite versus the S&P 500 Index. Here you can see how technology stocks...



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Politics

Why repressive Saudi Arabia remains a US ally

 

Why repressive Saudi Arabia remains a US ally

A demonstrator dressed as Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with blood on his hands protests outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 8, 2018. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Courtesy of Jeffrey Fields, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman “approved an operation … to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” according to a...



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Mapping The Market

Which Governments Ordered Johnson & Johnson's Vaccine?

 

Which Governments Ordered Johnson & Johnson's Vaccine?

Courtesy of Niall McCarthy, Statista

On Wednesday, U.S. regulators announced that Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine being developed by its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Belgium is effective at preventing moderate to severe cases of the disease. The jab has been deemed safe with 66 percent efficacy and the FDA is likely to approve it for use in the U.S. within days.

The Ad26.COV2.S vaccine can be stored for up to three months in a refrigerator and requires a single shot, ...



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Digital Currencies

Crypto - It Is Different This Time

 

Crypto – It Is Different This Time

Courtesy of Howard Lindzon

?I have been astonished as you know by the growth of crypto.

I remember back in 2017 when I noticed that Stocktwits message volume on Bitcoin ($BTC.X) surpassed that of $SPY. I knew Bitcoin was here to stay and Bitcoin went on to $19,000 before heading into its bear market.

Today Bitcoin is near $50,000.

Back in November of 2020, something new started to happen on Stocktwits with respect to crypto.

After the close on Friday until the open of the futures on Sunday, all Stocktwits trending tickers turned crypto. The weekend messages on Stocktwits have increased 400 percent.

That has continued each weekend...



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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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About Phil:

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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