Monthly Archives: September 2011

Matt Stoller: Boston Fed – “Avoid Engaging with Any Demonstrators”

By Matt Stoller, the former Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can reach him at stoller (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.

If the encampment in downtown NYC is a church, then the sprouting of more of these around the country is something of an religious awakening. And the reaction of the other religious faction is pretty telling.

Read more...

Game Over: California Attorney General Breaks From “50 State” Mortgage Settlement

We’ve been saying for months that the 50 state attorney general settlement was not going to happen. Despite the vigorous efforts by people on the side of the Federal regulators involved in the negotiations and Tom Miller’s (the AG leading the negotiations’) office to make it seem as if the deal was moving forward, the content of the reports showed otherwise. There was a huge gap between the positions of the banks and even the bank friendly position of the state AGs at the table and the banking regulators. Like the Vietnam War, where negotiations of two fundamentally opposed dragged on till one side capitulated, there was not going to be a settlement that was anything other than an abject sellout with a 11 figure payoff to mask that fact. And there were too many attorneys general who were already troubled by the terms of the deal that Miller had put forward for that to happen.

Now that Kamal aHarris, the California state attorney general, has officially abandoned the talks, they don’t mean much, at least from the state side. The departure of such a big state, in population, foreclosure exposure, and Electoral college terms, along with other states (New York, Delaware, Nevada, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Minnesota, likely Arizona) means any settlement has limited practical meaning from the state side and even less credibility.

Read more...

Friedrich Hayek Joins Ayn Rand as a Hypocritical User of Medicare

We’ve been a bit hard on the left of late, so we figured we’d take some steps to balance our programming. Mark Ames, who has been doggedly on the trail of the Koch brothers, found a delicious failure to live up to his oft-repeated standard of conduct by a god in the libertarian pantheon, Friedrich Hayek. And this fall from grace was encouraged one of the chief promoters of extreme right wing ideas in the US, Charles Koch.

Read more...

Quelle Surprise! SIGTARP Report Finds Citi, Bank of America Allowed to Leave TARP Prematurely

We said at the time it was inexcusable for the Treasury to allow banks to repay the TARP as early as they did (US banks are still below the capital levels many experts consider to be desirable; Andrew Haldane of the Bank of England has made a well-substantiated case that higher capital levels cannot remedy the problem, since the social costs of a major bank blow up are so great, and you therefore need very tough restrictions on their activities).

And why were the bank so eager slip the TARP leash? To escape some pretty minor restrictions on executive compensation. This had NOTHING to do with the health of the enterprise and everything to do with executive greed. And not surprisingly, Treasury indulged it.

Read more...

Matt Stoller: #OccupyWallStreet Is a Church of Dissent, Not a Protest

By Matt Stoller, the former Senior Policy Advisor to Rep. Alan Grayson and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. You can reach him at stoller (at) gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @matthewstoller.

Last weekend, I spent a few days with the protesters downtown near Wall Street, and it was an eye-opening experience. The people there want something, but it’s not a list of demands, and it is entirely overlooked by the media and most commentators on the protest.

If all you read are news stories and twitter feeds about #OccupyWallStreet, the most trenchant imagery that will stick in your mind is that of police brutality, and the politics of Wall Street greed. The debate seems to be organized around whether the protest will be “successful” or not, how the protesters are stupid or a new American Tahrir Square, or rhetoric designed in a media sphere that maximizes attention. Glenn Greenwald suitably demolishes the sneering commentariat. But I think there’s something to add about what exactly this protest is, what it is doing, and most of all, what the people there “want”.

Read more...

The Bots of FX

By Greg McKenna, aka Deus Forex Machina. He is the CEO of Lighthouse Securities and has spent past two decades in financial markets in a number of senior roles including Head of Currency Strategy at the NAB and Westpac. Cross posted from MacroBusiness

High Frequency traders (HFT) have been around for a long time. What else were the locals on the SFE back in the floor days and at the establishment of many contracts except HFT? But we never thought of them in the way that many, myself included, think of the HFT guys these days.

Read more...

Randy Wray: Euro Toast, Anyone? The Meltdown Picks Up Speed

Yves here. Readers may note that Wray cites the cost of the US bailout of the financial crisis as $29 trillion. I’ve never seen a figure like that (the highest estimate I’ve seen was from SIGTARP, which set the “theoretical maximum” at $23 trillion, and that figure was widely criticized. Barry Ritholtz has kept tab over time, and his tally has been in the $10-$11 trillion range). But this estimate is not core to his argument.

By L. Randall Wray, a Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Senior Scholar at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. Cross posted from EconoMonitor

Greece’s Finance Minister reportedly said that his nation cannot continue to service its debt and hinted that a fifty percent write-down is likely. Greece’s sovereign debt is 350 billion euros—so losses to holders would be 175 billion euros. That would just be the beginning, however.

Read more...

Why Liberals Are Lame: McCarthyite Identity Politics as Cover for Bankrupt Policies

The latest desperate strategy of Obama’s spin-meisters highlights the rot at the core of the Democratic party: the heavy handed use of identity politics as a cover for neoliberal policies that betray the very groups the party purports to represent.

As Obama’s poll ratings continue to deteriorate, Melissa Harris-Perry, professor of political science at Tulane, argued that the reason white liberals were abandoning him was racism. (Earth to Obama: trying to make your base feel guilty, particularly when YOU are the one who ought to feel guilty, is not going to do you any good)

Read more...

Protestors Disrupting Foreclosure Auctions in California

By Timothy Y. Fong, an attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area who practices in the field of foreclosure defense litigation. His e-mail address is tyfong919 at gmail.com

On Monday afternoon at 12:00 p.m., a group of protesters organized under the umbrella of the “Make Banks Pay California” campaign picketed a foreclosure sale at the Alameda County Courthouse located at 1225 Fallon Street, Oakland California.

I had heard about the protest from a contact in the real estate industry, and so I resolved to go down and see what it was about. I went specifically as an observer and not as a protester.

Read more...

Michael Hudson: Debt Deflation in America

By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. Edited Interview by Bonnie Faulkner September 2, 2011 (first aired on Pacifica, September 14, 2011).

“Without consumption, markets are going to shrink. Companies won’t invest, stores will close, “for rent” signs will spread on the main streets and local tax revenues will fall. Companies will lay off their employees and the economy will shrink more. Why aren’t economists talking about these effects of debt deflation, which are becoming the distinguishing phenomenon of our time? They advocate giving more money to the banks, hoping that somehow everything will be okay, as if the banks would lend out the money to fund new production and employment. Mainstream economics and political leaders in both parties are failing to ask why the banks are using these giveaways to speculate abroad, pay their managers bonuses and high salaries or to pay dividends rather than to lend to small businesses or do other things to actually get the economy moving again. This phenomenon cannot be explained without seeing that debt service is siphoning off revenue into the financial sector, which is not recycling it back into the production-and-consumption economy.”

Read more...