Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Reading

1.  The first comes from a recent speechfest that the right wing rock stars gave in front of the Reagan library.  Governor Crisco and Marco Rubio both spoke, Charles Pierce from Esquire took the time to break down our very own Paul Ryan (R- Wall St.) speech: 

Ryan also leaned on an old historical trope of his that I've always found to be the last refuge of a true bunco artist:
"We wonder if we will be the first generation in American history to leave our children with fewer opportunities and a less prosperous nation than the one we inherited."
You know when people began to feel that they could leave their children with more opportunities than they had? When government got involved, that's when, and when common people began to feel that the government was on their side, and not the wholly owned subsidiary of the wealthy and the privileged. The farmers started to feel it when the Morrill Act established land grant colleges. The miners began to feel it when unionization fought to make their jobs slightly less hellish and when government got behind that effort. The farmers began to feel it when the Progressives began to force change at the beginning of the last century. Everybody felt it with the election of Franklin Roosevelt and the defeat of Hooverian economics, for which Paul Ryan seems overly nostalgic. And that feeling really took off in the 1950's, when government passed the GI Bill and built the interstate highways, and made college affordable generally to the children and grandchildren of the people who won World War II like, say, me. And when we recognized that the death of a parent need not blight the hopes and dreams of his children, who would be allowed the opportunity of an education through the survivor benefits provided by Social Security, like, say, Paul Ryan was. The notion that we will leave a brighter day for our kids is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it is one that was not possible without the intervention of the government, and it is one from which Paul Ryan profited so handsomely that he is now in a position to claim a "moral obligation" to deny it to everyone else. What a country.
2.  You know how all of the right wingers defend cutting taxes on corporations, because "all they will do is pass those costs on to the consumer"?  Well the consumer better get ready to bend over, since JP Morgan Chase recently had a bad trade that cost the company $20 BILLION dollars.   Poor Poor over regulated banksters.  As a matter of fact, Bill Maher recently had CNBC ancher Michelle Caruso-Cabrera as one of his guests and she pointed out that none of the regulations we have gotten rid of would have stopped JP Morgan Chase from losing this money.  Silly corporate mouthpiece that she is, she was also wrong.  Dodd Frank would have saved JP Morgan $2 Billion +.
Here are the very specific things that could have kept that $2 billion in JPMorgan's pocket.
The Volcker Rule: Everybody hates the Volcker Rule. Jamie Dimon, even after watching his firm burn up $2 billion, still hates the Volcker Rule. This is the rule that attempts to turn the clock back to the days when investment banks and commercial banks were kept miles apart by a Depression-era law called Glass-Steagall, a law that was dismantled by those flying-monkey lobbyists, Alan Greenspan and the Clinton administration in the late 1990s.
The Volcker Rule attempts to remedy this by prohibiting banks with federally insured customer deposits from blowing all their money speculating on Slovakian government bonds. So you can see why banks hate it! Gambling in the market is like the Lotto: You've got to be in it to win it. But not being in it might have prevented JPMorgan's chief investment office from having those big bets on credit derivatives that cost it $2 billion.
JPMorgan has argued, and will continue to argue, that its bets were a desperately necessary strategy to balance out the risks it takes when it helps the economy and creates jobs by lending money to puppy farms, firemen and schoolteachers. It just goofed up on this one. Sorry, guys, won't happen again. But even if you take the banks' word for this and give them a pass on trading credit derivatives -- which is probably going to happen -- there are two other aspects of Dodd-Frank that could have prevented JPMorgan's big loss:
Lincoln Rule: This is way less well-known than the Volcker Rule, but probably just as hated, and just as much under assault, according to Greenberger. This rule, also known as the "Swaps Pushout" rule, denies Fed assistance to dealers in derivatives called "swaps," as in "credit default swaps," as in "what helped blow the economy up four years ago." Just like with the Volcker Rule, banks get an exemption from the Lincoln Rule if their swaps bets are purely to hedge their risks. But! They only get to take that exemption if their credit default swaps are traded through a central clearing house. Which brings us to the third aspect of Dodd-Frank that would have stopped JPMorgan before it killed its own money again:
Derivatives Clearing: Title 7 of the Dodd-Frank act is a tangled word-nest that will take regulators a while to sort through, but it gives them the right, at least, to demand that derivatives be traded out in the open, where everybody can see them, with a central clearing house directing traffic and keeping banks from being a danger to themselves or others.
This is a huge point for the JPMorgan situation, notes Greenberger. A central clearing house would not have let the bank's derivative bets drift so deeply into stupid territory. It would have seen the bank taking losses on a weekly basis and asked it to post more money for security. Maybe more importantly, the Fed would have caught on more quickly and encouraged JPMorgan to put the ix-nay on the erivatives-day.
But none of that stuff happened, because none of these reforms are in place, four years after the last crisis. Maybe this blowup will help convince banks -- and the politicians they purchase -- of the need for these regulations. Frankly, I'm not optimistic. The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression didn't convince them. A couple of billion dollars into thin air at JPMorgan probably won't, either.
 Just ask Economist and Professor Simon Johnson.  I wonder why free market captain Paul Ryan has not weighed in on this yet?   

3.  Want more on Wall St. and Regulations?  The full length documentary Inside Job can be seen here!

'Inside Job' provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse. Through exhaustive research and extensive interviews with key financial insiders, politicians, journalists, and academics, the film traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia. It was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.

4.  Interesting Column by Eugene Kane on the Wisconsin jobs debate:

Frankly, it would be a lot easier for people to accept some of the jobs numbers being tossed around by Gov. Scott Walker if they knew someone who had actually gotten a job since he took office.
A quick survey of social-media friends in Milwaukee asking whether they - or anyone they knew - could credit Walker for their job brought these responses:
"I don't know anybody that has gotten a job."
"I don't know anyone that has secured permanent employment or temporary employment that was tied to anything Walker did as county executive or governor."
"I know people who have lost jobs under Walker. My husband was a city worker, and a lot of their jobs are now being done by private contractors."
"My son and several hundred co-workers lost their (jobs) when Frontier Airlines decided to pull up stakes and go back to their Denver roots."

5.    Dr. Glen Barry, went to Marquette with Scott Walker and does not have much good to say about him.  

Walker’s debut in Marquette student politics as a freshman began by stirring up the campus with a McCarthyite investigation into misspending by the Homecoming committee. Despite the President and Vice-President of student government having already resigned over personal expenditures by a larger group of student leaders from student funds – including myself and others unknowingly – no criminal charges of any kind, and no hard evidence of wrong-doing by anyone, Walker grandstands and leads a student government trial of myself and others, that could have been avoided if he so chose.

Walker lost on all counts, but not before destroying a few people’s reputations, and amassing personal power. Sound familiar? Thus began an over 25 year record of bullying to get what he wants, of being insincere and narcissistic, and political grandstanding at the expense of others¸ all for personal self-aggrandizement, and without an ounce of either personal or political virtue.

1 comment:

  1. Cogs,

    If you can get a hold of Mayor Barrett, could you ask him to bring up the tax payer funded bail-out of Spectrum Brands to the tune of 4M dollars? This company has filed for bankruptcy four times and received this handout directly from the Gov's office without actually asking for it. Furthermore, this happened when hundreds of millions were being cut from public education. You'd think this would be the kind of thing to bring up when "we don't have any money".

    Something like, "In a free market, if a company is profitable, it shouldn't need tax payer dollars. In a free market, if a company isn't profitable, they shouldn't get tax payer dollars. That's how free markets work.." Something like that. I think that would resonate.