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Old 02-24-2011, 01:04 PM   #16
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This is something the Kochs, Rush, Hannity, etc will never admit as they convince the tea party to continue to fight for policies that favor the uber rich.
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Old 02-24-2011, 01:09 PM   #17
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i think the real problem is overpaid teachers. let's cut their salaries.
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Old 02-24-2011, 01:25 PM   #18
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i think the real problem is overpaid teachers. let's cut their salaries.
Overpaid teachers
Women's access to contraception
Definition of marriage
Mexican anchor babies
Michelle Obama shoving vegetables down your throat
Gay soldiers turned on in fox holes
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Old 02-24-2011, 01:29 PM   #19
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Michelle Obama shoving vegetables down your throat


sounds like a Rush "caught coming back from the DR with Viagra" Limbaugh torture-porn spank video.
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Old 02-24-2011, 02:35 PM   #20
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Overpaid teachers
Women's access to contraception
Definition of marriage
Mexican anchor babies
Michelle Obama shoving vegetables down your throat
Gay soldiers turned on in fox holes
On first read I was going to form a sarcastic reply to this, but reading it again just makes me sad.
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Old 02-24-2011, 04:07 PM   #21
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Both parties are thoroughly contaminated by those interests; our entire political system is (less so the judicial branch), due to the amount of money they pump into campaigns and lobbying.
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Old 02-24-2011, 06:59 PM   #22
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<<<<<Simply put, over the last 30 years, the gap between rich and poor has widened into a chasm.>>>>>>>

Ahh.. Ronald Reagan's lovely legacy. He was the greatest wasn't he??

This country has been in a death spiral ever since then.
I hate to keep bringing it up as an example, but Michael Moore's film "Capitalism, A Love Story" brillantly outlines the beginning of the end for the middle class and Reagan's relationship with big business right there in your face.

And I was no fan of Bill Clinton for signing NAFTA in to law at the end of his term. What a sell out that was.
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Old 02-28-2011, 08:43 PM   #23
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Simon Johnson, Feb. 22
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In a recent interview [New Republic, Feb. 10], United States Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner laid out his view of the nature of world economic growth and the role of the US financial sector. It is a deeply disturbing vision, one that amounts to a huge, uninformed gamble with the future of the American economy--and that suggests that Geithner remains the senior public official worldwide who is most in thrall to the self-serving ideology of big banks.

Geithner argues that the world will now experience a major “financial deepening,” owing to growing demand in emerging markets for financial products and services. He is thinking, of course, of “middle-income” countries like India, China, and Brazil. And he is right to emphasize that all have made terrific progress and now offer great opportunities for the rising middle class, which wants to accumulate savings, borrow more easily (for productive investment, home purchases, education, etc), and, more generally, smooth out consumption. But then Geithner takes a leap. He wants US banks to take the lead in these countries’ financial development. His words are worth quoting at length:
“I don’t have any enthusiasm for…trying to shrink the relative importance of the financial system in our economy as a test of reform, because we have to think about the fact that we operate in the broader world…It’s the same thing for Microsoft or anything else. We want US firms to benefit from that…Now, financial firms are different because of the risk, but you can contain that through regulation.”
There are three serious problems with this view. First, Geithner ignores everything that we know about the pattern of financial development around the world. It is very rare for financial systems to develop without major crises. In fact, experience in recent decades confirms what should have been obvious from previous centuries: as countries grow and accumulate savings, they become increasingly prone to financial collapse. Given Geithner’s extensive international crisis-fighting experience at the US Treasury, the International Monetary Fund, and the New York Federal Reserve, his current naiveté on this point is simply stunning.

Second, Geithner assumes that risks at the largest US firms can be contained through regulation, when all our knowledge points directly to the contrary. Even the strongest supporters of the Dodd-Frank reform legislation emphasize that it only went part way towards reducing the incentives for major financial institutions to take big risks. Looking at the combined effect of the new law, plus the weak additional capital requirements agreed under Basel III and the hands-off approach already signaled by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (which Mr. Geithner chairs), it is hard to believe that anything has really improved. In fact, given that our largest banks are now undoubtedly too big to fail, they have even more incentive to increase their debt levels relative to their equity. Higher leverage increases their payoffs when times are good--as executives and traders are paid based on their “return on equity.” And when times are bad, for example in a crisis episode, losses are transferred to creditors. If those creditor losses are large and spread so as to undermine the broader financial system, pressure for a government bailout will mount. Bankers get the upside and taxpayers (and people laid off as credit is disrupted) get the downside. The US financial sector went mad for high-risk loans to emerging markets during 1970s--arguing that this was the new frontier. This loan portfolio blew up in the debt crisis of 1982. A version of same thoughtless cross-border lending is again underway, extolled by leading financial sector executives (e.g., Jamie Dimon from JP Morgan Chase)--who have apparently persuaded Mr. Geithner to tag along intellectually.

And third, Geithner completely overlooks what has brought significant parts of Europe to its economic knees. He should spend more time with the authorities in Iceland or Ireland or Switzerland, countries where “financial globalization” allowed banks to become big relative to the economy. In Iceland, the three largest banks built global balance sheets that were between 11 and 13 times the size of the economy. And then they collapsed. In Ireland, the three largest banks went crazy for commercial real estate--financed by large-scale borrowing from other eurozone countries (including Germany). The politicians looked the other way--or were paid off, some claim--while these banks built balance sheets valued at two times Irish GDP. And then they collapsed, causing enormous damage to the government’s own solvency. In Switzerland, the two largest banks (UBS and Credit Suisse) had a combined balance sheet in fall 2008 of around 8 times Swiss GDP--mostly based on their global activities. Mortgage traders in London--not many of whom were Swiss--took on enormous risks that almost brought down UBS. The Swiss government could afford the bailout, just. And now the Swiss National Bank is moving in the exact opposite direction to Geithner--they are pushing these big banks to become smaller and to finance more of their activities with equity, rather than debt.

Geithner is a very smart and experienced public servant. His views concerning the future of finance will help shape what happens. And that is why we are headed for trouble.
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Old 02-28-2011, 09:41 PM   #24
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This article does an excellent job of explaining in straightforward detail why Wall Street isn't in jail.

OpEdNews - Article: TheTen Reasons The Banksters Get Away With Fraud

Quote:
When will we call a crime a crime? When will we demand jail-out, not just more bailouts? Unless we do, and until we do, the people who created the worst crisis in our time will, in effect, get away with the biggest plunder in history.
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Old 02-28-2011, 10:22 PM   #25
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His advice: "Don't be deterred by the finance industry's jargon (which is intended to numb your brain and keep regular folks from even trying to figure out what's going on."
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Finally, tenth , a big disappointment in my countdown, is the role of the progressive critics of the crisis who also largely ignore criminality as a key factor and possible focus for a populist organizing effort.

They treat the crisis as if they are at a financial seminar at Harvard, focusing on the complexities of derivatives; credit default swaps and structured financial products in language that ordinary people rarely can penetrate.

They argue that banks that should not be too big to fail, but rarely they are not too big to jail.
These two bits above hit the nail on the head for me. The jargon makes most people's eyes go glassy and they tune out. Start talking about the illegality of it and the corruption, and that gets people's attention.

I understand it's not always easy to speak in layman terms, especially with something as complex as this, but maybe more people should start doing that. Once people properly understand it, that'll go such a long way.

Quote:
Convicted financial criminal Sam Antar who appears in my film Plunder is contemptuous of how government tends to proceed in these cases, in part because they don't seem to understand how calculated these crimes and their cover-ups are. He told me. "Our laws--innocent until proven guilty, the codes of ethics that journalists like you abide by limit your behavior and give the white-collar criminal freedom to commit their crimes, and also to cover up their crimes.

"We have no respect for the laws. We consider your codes of ethics, and your laws, weaknesses to be exploited in the execution of our crimes. So the prosecutors, hopefully most prosecutors, are honest if they're playing by the set of the rules; they're hampered by the illegal constraints. The white-collar criminal has no legal constraints. You subpoena documents, we destroy documents; you subpoena witnesses, we lie. So you are at a disadvantage when it comes to the white-collared criminal. In effect, we're economic predators. We're serial economic predators; we impose a collective harm on society; time is always on our side, not on, not on the side of justice, unfortunately."
That is just scary. Because it's stuff like this that could make people decide that maybe we don't need to have an "innocent until proven guilty" justice setup anymore, that maybe we need to alter those laws so we can catch these guys. And we might. Unfortunately, we'd also take a lot of innocent people down with us. I sure as hell want these people in jail, but not at the expense of the setup of a system that, while certainly far from perfect, is ideally rational.

Angela
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:12 PM   #26
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I am struggling to see the solution coming from constitutional means at this point. I honestly think there is a grave risk of political violence when the mass of the middle classes figure out how badly they've been screwed. We've had the fake revolution of the Tea Party, which I guess bought the oligarchy some time.

On the other hand, revolutions almost always emanate from disillusioned cadres within the upper echelons, so I dunno what's going to happen. If convicted fraudsters like Madoff are making more sense in their public announcements and interviews than the head of the Federal Reserve (the dollar crashes everytime Bernanke opens his mouth), then you know the system is fucked.

Have you seen the gold price and dollar recently?? The dollar is crashing, which is the opposite of what usually happens in times of strife and revolution - and that suggests to me not so much that the dollar is in the process of losing its reserve currency status, but that its already happened. Have to admit, as one that prides myself on my ability to forecast market trends, I got this badly wrong. I really underestimated the sheer stupidity (corruption?) of the governing authorities, more fool me.
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:31 PM   #27
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Have you seen the gold price and dollar recently?? The dollar is crashing, which is the opposite of what usually happens in times of strife and revolution - and that suggests to me not so much that the dollar is in the process of losing its reserve currency status, but that its already happened.
Also, the dollar doesn't hold up well during oil shocks.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:40 PM   #28
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Washington Post, March 6 (op-ed)
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Last fall, my wife and I refinanced our mortgage with Citibank. Sixty days later, we received a "cancellation notice" from our homeowners insurance company "for non-payment of premium." Turns out Citibank, which had been collecting hundreds of dollars a month from us to pay the insurer, hadn't made the payments. It was, I later learned, one of the usual tricks mortgage servicers use to squeeze more cash out of their customers. About a month later, I learned of another trick: Citibank informed us that it was increasing our monthly payment by nearly $300. Along the way, a simple refi became a months-long odyssey: rates misquoted, interest charged on a phantom account, legal documents issued in wrong names, a mortgage officer who disappeared for days at a time (first it was his birthday, then his laptop was in the shop), a bounced check from Citibank's own title company, and the freezing of our bank accounts.
..............................
Because banks quickly resell mortgages, they don't much care how the loans perform; their job is to extract the maximum in fees. This is how we wound up with the robo-signing scandal, in which servicers erroneously forced homeowners into foreclosure. This, too, is why there has been an epidemic of misapplied payments, bogus fees and mismanagement of escrow accounts for tax and insurance. If a borrower's homeowners insurance lapses, the servicer can "force-place" the borrower with a more expensive insurer, sometimes receiving kickbacks. The nascent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by the Dodd-Frank legislation, could rein in these abuses--which explains why the banks, in concert with House Republicans, have been working to strip funding and responsibility from the new agency. This, combined with the repeal of Obama's foreclosure program, would leave the mortgage servicers supervised only nominally by the anemic Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

My wife and I are reasonably savvy consumers--she has a brand-name MBA, and I began my career as a business reporter for the Wall Street Journal--but we were no match for a bungling bank. After five months of trying, we still haven't been able to resolve all of Citibank's mistakes--nearly all of them, curiously, in the bank's favor. Of all the miscues, the highlight was when we were handed, at closing, a large check that we didn't want for a new home-equity line of credit. I tried to redeposit it into the home-equity account but was told that the account did not yet exist. I tried to deposit it into my checking account, and the check was returned unpaid--while interest accrued. That so much can go wrong with such a simple refinance doesn't bode well for the 5.5 million homeowners in default (on top of the 3 million already foreclosed). It's impossible to know for sure, but by some estimates, half of them are victims of some form of servicers' errors. "What happened to you," Ira Rheingold of the National Association of Consumer Advocates told me, "happens to people every single day." And it will continue, with its resulting drag on the economy, unless and until the big banks can be brought to heel.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:47 PM   #29
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America tearing in two and systemic bank fraud
US housing is pushing America towards a double dip. If it happens, it will tear America's social fabric in two. There will be the elite of Wall Street profiting from the vast and obscene support the government has lavished upon it, and those the government has turned its back upon, who are without jobs, a house or the hope that their children will get a decent education.

In the last quarter of 2010, while Wall Street said enough of crocodile tears and mock humility and returned to crowing and oiling itself with bonuses, housing for ordinary people in 11 of America's biggest cities declined to new lows, nearly 4% down in just three months. The rate of foreclosures is up and so are the number of them flooding the market.

Because of the on-going collapse in US housing and the tower of debt still protected on top of it, ordinary people's lives are in free fall. State and local pension funds are simply not paying out what they promised. Schools, police, fire departments, everything that we sued to call society are all being cut because states and municipalities are crippled with their own debts.

Official unemployment is stuck at 10% while the real U6 misery level is 16% while 14% of citizens in the country where banker bonuses are measured in billions feed their families with food stamps - 43 MILLION Americans.

How could this still be happening after all the trillions pumped in to the banks supposedly to fix those write downs and bad debts?

Well a hint of the real cause came from a law suit filed by the insurance company Allstate. In fact it follows on from an earlier law suit the company filed. The first was filed against Bank of America and Countrywide while the second expands the net to include JPMorgan and Washington Mutual. Essentially both suits claim that all these banks LIED about everything.

The make for fairly horrific reading. What makes the Allstate suits important is not so much what they allege, horrific and blood boiling though it is, but HOW they do it. One of the problems with taking the banks to court has been the sheer number of securities, CDOs and Mortgages that would have to be investigated in order to prove systemic and intentional fraud as opposed to 'a few mistakes'. Allstate has used statistical sampling methods to solve this. They have developed proprietary methods of sampling the whole vast cess pit of debts to give a statistically accurate picture of the whole. Their total sample size was 26000 in 17 different debt offerings. From these they chose 800 defaulted loans and compared them to 800 randomly chosen loans. Were the defaulted loans systematically different from other loans?

Such sampling is legally and mathematically well accepted but this is the first time it has been used to get at what they banks were really up to and how endemic is was. Until now we have had damning specific investigations such as Pro Publica's magnificent work which I wrote about here. But now thanks to Allstate we have a true picture of not just specific instances but the proof that these examples are typical.

And what do they show? They show the banks - ALL FOUR of them - the biggest in America - lied about almost every aspect of loans that went in to the CDOs they were selling. For example a prospective CDO buyer like Allstate might want to know if the CDO contained any loans where the person had borrowed more than the value of the house known as 100% LTV (Loan to Value). Such high LTV's are good indicators of possible defaults.

JPMorgan said it included NO 100% LTV loans. In fact there between 17 and 23% of the loans included were 100% LTV's. Washington Mutual said it also included NO 100% LTV's whereas it actually included between 10 and 25%.

For 80% LTV mortgages it was worse. JPMorgan routinely included between 10% and 60% more of these very risky mortgages than they had claimed. For WaMu they included between 46 and 66% more of them.

The picture for Bank of America and Countrywide is similar. Allstate's suit claims that such HUGE and endemic 'errors' can only be the result of intentional fraud.

What I would like to see is the same statistical sampling method used on RBS's CDOs and those of the other banks we have bailed out and whose bad debts we have bought and insured. Banks like Halifax, Northern Rock, UniCredit, Santander, HVB, Hypo Real Estate, Commerzbank just to name a few.
Golem XIV - Thoughts: America tearing in two and systemic bank fraud
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Old 03-08-2011, 02:16 AM   #30
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I read this as soon as I got the magazine in the mail. This article made me cry. Imagin that, wall street articles causing depression. But as long as the revolving door between Wall Street, the SEC and Washington keeps spinning we are shit out of luck for regulations. I don't know if this can be fixed and who can fix it or would even try. Look at the sheer amount of money they made and quite frankly the money they still can make by continuing it.
I truly hoped Obama would make a difference - but seriously - this is out of his league.
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