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Matt Stoller: Why Does the Dallas Fed President Want to Destroy West Coast Port Unions?

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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. Cross posted from New Deal 2.0

The FOMC is far more secretive than most government agencies, and after reading the transcripts of its meetings, it’s not hard to see why.

The people that really run the world are not elected, but sit on the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve (FOMC). This is the crew of Fed insiders — mostly regional reserve bank presidents hired by banks as well as finance-friendly Fed governors appointed by the president — who set monetary policy. They are the ones who decide whether interest rates go up or down and whether to heat or cool the economy.

You can actually read the deliberations of their meetings, but only for those that took place five years ago or more. Unlike most federal agencies, their meetings are kept secret for at least five years.

Still, it’s interesting what you can find in the records that are public. This is from 2005, when Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher was echoing complaints of American CEOs that we simply didn’t have the port capacity to take as many imports from China as they wanted (emphasis mine):

Everyone I’ve talked to continues to try to figure out ways to exploit globalization. Each of them, from the IT [information technology] guys to the big box retailers to the specialty chemical firms to the service firms, wants to have offshore supply. One of the CEOs said, “We have a long way to go in exploiting China.” We’ve heard that forever. And one of my favorites was the comment, “China, India, and Indonesia can make Italian ceramics better than Italians can now or could 200 years ago.” [Laughter]

The problem that I’m beginning to hear seeping into the conversation, Mr. Chairman, has to do with U.S. infrastructure. If you read the New York Times article two days ago about Shanghai’s new deep water port, you have to realize that those facilities are being built to ship goods out of China, not so much to ship goods into China. And consider this, as reported by one of the shippers I spoke with: 50 percent of all the ships on order for construction are container ships. Capacity expanding container business is increasing at 15 percent or more per annum to carry cargo from Shanghai and other parts of the world to the United States.

Now, this is good news on the disinflationary front. As the CEO of Northern Navigation, one of the larger shippers told me, “Transportation by ship will essentially be free when these numbers are realized in the marketplace. The bad news is stateside. We don’t have the capacity to absorb it. Long Beach and the Northwest harbors are constrained. Work rules, according to our interlocutors, are very slow to adjust. But there are ways to beat the bottlenecks, and I just want to mention two. UPS reports that they have gone from 6 to 18—and now for next year 21—flights from China. WalMart just built a four million square foot warehouse in the Houston port, in order to shift part of the burden from Long Beach. But it is evident that the enemy is us as far as exploiting globalization, and I think that’s a long-term problem that we might want to take note of over time.

It really is clear what is driving the elites. Disinflation is a wonky term meaning reducing the rate at which costs go up. And in this context, when he thinks no one is paying attention, Fisher is clear about whose ox will be gored, and who is driving the conversations.

So while some port workers might not like the tactics of the Occupiers and might think the structural critiques by the occupiers about the banking system are a bit abstract, perhaps the link is more direct than they assume. It is, after all, the President of the Dallas Federal Reserve who is bragging about his region’s work to undermine West Coast port worker bargaining leverage. Otherwise, his CEO friends might not be able to exploit China fast enough.

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48 comments

  1. Eagle

    So what are socially responsible jobs for Houston’s port workers? Perhaps they can get work as bloggers – can’t be much worse than this.

  2. wunsacon

    >> The FOMC is far more secretive than most government agencies,

    The Fed is the bankers’ association and a central bank all in one. They exist to advance banking interests. That’s all. It’s not “the people’s” bank. And banker-financed campaigns ensure the President picks someone who thinks the way they do and will represent their interests.

    Once I think of it that way, everything they’ve done makes sense.

    1. wunsacon

      I.e., don’t think of the Fed as a “government agency”. Think of it as a private industry organization, albeit one led by someone named by the President from a short list of banker candidates.

      (Didn’t Geithner say he was “never a regulator”? I think we should take him on his word on that.)

      That’s “not the way it’s supposed to work”. But, as I said, when I think of the Fed that way, it makes much more sense.

      1. psychohistorian

        I agree but what I think is more telling is that these folks are not at all interested in what is good for the US public but instead what is good for the multinational corps and their owners….the global inherited rich.

        When is America going to wake up to the fact that its country has been hijacked by the global inherited rich who are playing our citizens off against those all over the rest of the world for a decreasing number of jobs…and we are paying them to do so?

        1. rotter

          apparently never. you might have noticed, while the world was waiting for the US to wake up, it went to sleep. The Europeans are now all true believers in the racket invented by miscreant american wingnuts 40 years ago.

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          psychohistorian, welcome to “Late Stage Capitalism” (Marx).

          Jack London: “THE IRON HEEL.”

      2. Bernanke the Tank

        I do think the country has woken up, hence OWS, which spawned the 99% declaration–a list of concrete grievances and what they want to be changed. It could use the help of some of the smart people on here who know what’s going on.

        1. jonboinAR

          I fear that all the US has done is broken off its snore long enough to turn over on its other side. We have got to organize! I was trying to do something with someone but seem to have lost my mojo. We got, like, NO response. There are so many with so much better background than I have on these blogs, but all they ever seem to do is post somewhat repetitively. Which is good, but dadgum! Someone take the next step!

  3. Lyle

    Much of the work on the Gulf Coast and East Coast relates to the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in 2014 or so. In addition KCS wants to bring things in from a Lazaro Cardenas a port in Mexico. In addition CSX and Norfolk Southern are increasing clearances on east coast rail to enable easier shipping.
    Of course one could wonder with the labor shortages starting in China and getting worse and the increased wages are these investments perhaps in a bubble.

    1. Up the Ante

      “Of course one could wonder .. are these investments perhaps in a bubble. ” A bubble that has popped entering vacuum.

      FOMC, “.. it is evident that the enemy is us as far as exploiting globalization, and I think that’s a long-term problem that we might want to take note of over time. ”

      “It really is clear what is driving the elites. ”

      It appears to be a celebration of entering and handing over the country to the police state. A police state that serves in funneling profits .. into the funnel.

      Occupied lives in globalisation land.

  4. Hugh

    Why do people at the Fed want to destroy unions?

    That’s what we call a rhetorical question. It’s been Fed policy for 35 years to wage war on increased wages for labor under the cover of fighting “inflation”. This has resulted in mammoth transfers of wealth to the rich. Yet the Fed instead of punishing the wealthy for blowing destructive bubbles with this loot not only encourages these bubbles but when they burst bails out the rich who made them and does so at the expense of ordinary Americans.

    Shorter form: Destroying unions is just part of the wider war on labor.

    1. The Heretic

      The offshoring of America results in a reduction of labour unions bargaining power. It reduces the supply of jobs, relative workers. But with the loss of manufacuturing goes the loss of all the skilled labour, research, and engineering that is associated with the art and science of manufacuting. So off-shoring is not just an assault on labour, it is an assault on the middleclass.

    2. Up the Ante

      “Shorter form: Destroying unions is just part of the wider war on labor. ”

      Also is contingent with serving ‘the establishment’.

  5. LucyLulu

    While the port worker’s unions and wages may well be under threat from the banking and corporate elite, and the workers aware or not, OWS is making a mistake by antagonizing these workers. It is not for OWS or anybody else to dictate the workers’ priorities, nor require they donate their wages to a cause. It isn’t helpful to alienate the base. OWS must use attraction to generate supporters among the 99%, not cram it down their throats. They stepped over the line when they caused paychecks to be docked.

    21 UPS flights from China? Seriously? Perhaps to handle the snail-mail delivery business.

    1. Richard Kline

      So LuchLulu and Matt, it is simply bogus to circulate a meme that ‘port workers don’t support OWS.’ This is false. _SOME_ individuals of course don’t support port closure. Some contract short haul truckers shifting containers don’t support such actions. They are no more representative of sentiment as a whole than you or I are. It is clear from interactions between OWS and stevedores than the latter a) support the goals of OWS, and that b) as a group they are widely sympathetic.

      Here are two links on the port actions from today:

      http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017001706_occupy13m.html

      http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-occupy-ports-20111213,0,67827.story

      There are various quotes supportive and not both from dockside workers. The LA Times write up specifically has the head of the Longshoreman’s Union quoted as _sympathetic_ to OWS, and he gives the reasons why the Union itself could not directly support the action despite _their sympathy for it_.

      If you, LucyLulu, don’t support the port blockade, which was broadly a success, then that is your option. But I’ll ask you to stop repeating disinformation about the position of the stevedores _themselves_ as a whole. As someone who just participated in an action supporting a blockade, I’ll say your position on ‘OWS dictating’ anything to workers is misinformed, and your position that protest should never be undertaken if it costs any body anything, is seriously short sighted. As Matt’s post clearly indicates, port workers in the US are under pressure from the Stevedoring companies, the rigged labor law, and the financial powers that be—who profit immensely from the ports being open but the labor involved being beaten down. It’s necessary to interdict the traffic to interdict the system, unless ones goal is to sit in an armchair decrying exploitation about which one will do nothing. We won’t settle this issue in this discussion, but I invite you to take a larger perspective. Moreover, if you don’t like these tactics, what are the ones _you are prepared to put your body on the line_ to effect so as to change the situation? When you have substantive alternatives to propose as opposed to a NIMPC, Not-in-my-paycheck, kind of argument, this conversation becomes more relevant.

      Matt, I’m broadly sympathetic to the thrust of your post on the FOMC, and it’s anti-labor pro-global 1% policies, I’m not picking a quarrel there. If you can seriously document that ‘longshoreman [in any relevant numbers] are seriously opposed to the port blockades, than that’s news and worth knowing. Both informal contacts, published reports, the actions of the longshoreman themselves (canceling shifts on contractually viable grounds even with much of the port facilities accessible), and interactions at the ports themselves all support the opposite conclusion: there is deep sympathy for OWS and these direct actions from most port workers and short haul truckers.

      1. anon

        I took Matt’s post as response to criticism circulating yesterday in various forums.

        For example, there was the following article from the from page of Daily Kos, written by one of their contributing editors (so not a community opinion diary):

        “Occupy Oakland attempting port shutdown despite union opposition”
        http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/12/12/1044458/-Occupy-Oakland-attempting-port-shutdown-despite-union-opposition

        The Guardian’s live blog yesterday had the following quote from the International Longshore Workers Union:
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/dec/12/occupy-west-coast-ports-shut-down?INTCMP=SRCH#block-1

        “The action has caused controversy, with the ILWU publicly disowning the protest last week – communications director Craig Merrilees telling the Guardian that the union was ‘not supporting that at all’.

        ‘[Occupy organisers] have been very disrespectful of the democratic decision-making process in the union and deliberately went around that process to call their own action without consulting workers,’ Merrilees said.

        ‘It’s the second time they’ve done it. The first time they had very little support from workers in their so-called general strike [the Occupy Oakland action on 2 November].’

        ‘This is being promoted by a group of people who apparently think they can call general strikes and workplace shutdowns without talking to workers and without involving the unions.’

        So there definitely was reporting on possible conflict between unions and OWS yesterday. It’s always a question of trying to locate the disinformation, of course.

        1. JTFaraday

          I think Richard addressed this the other day. The ILWU *itself* called a strike at one of the ports last fall before OWS even got started. (Remember?) They were fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.

          Yesterday OWS called the strike. ILWU officially disavowed the strike. Workers reported, the union sent them home “for safety reasons.”

          So what’s going on here? You tell me.

      2. LucyLulu

        Richard,
        I’m sorry I offended you. Perhaps it was Matt you challenged re: evidence of lack of support but I had run across the evidence, or I wouldn’t have said what I did (and I don’t watch Fox, it was all from neutral or friendly sources). First, I fully support the Occupy message. You don’t need to convince me who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. I get it. And I happen to care a whole lot about the success of the movement, or else I wouldn’t have bothered to have said anything at all. I’m only suggesting (in typical blunt manner) that we need to be careful that our own enthusiasm doesn’t allow us to forget we’re representing the 99%. My takeaway from my involvement, and perhaps I need latitude, this is a very different experience for me, is that this a movement where consensus is built and its important that nobody feels disenfranchised from the process. And am I wrong to assume that this would include those outside the movement?

        Listen, I read the links you posted and had read some other links earlier (see below for similar to what I’d read) and heard a show over the weekend. It seemed that many of the workers weren’t onboard with the shutdown and that labor leaders, while saying they supported the OWS message, this wasn’t the OWS’ battle. The labor leader I heard interviewed sounded irked that they were being co-opted without input.

        Those articles ‘seemed’ to try to present a balanced approach to the reporting, and it wasn’t just one article, it was three different ones, all saying essentially the same thing. An unknown, but significant, number of workers weren’t feeling supported. And the optics of a movement that is rejected by those it claims to be helping, if that is what is being portrayed, obviously isn’t flattering. I didn’t read everything published on the port shutdowns but I’m telling you about the impression I got from my sampling of media reports. And my samplings have a more progressive bias than the average person.

        You’re right, though. I wasn’t on the ground. If the articles had agendas and those interviewed were isolated disgrunted examples, then I sincerely apologize for passing along misinformation. I made a mistake by believing what I had heard and read thus far, and I stand corrected.

        http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016994886_occupyport12m.html?prmid=obinsource

        http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/13/MNJK1MBE5E.DTL

        http://www.insidebayarea.com/oaklandtribune/localnews/ci_19531325

        1. Jill

          LucyLulu,

          Here’s some info from The Guardian. It addresses some of the issues you raised. I’d be interested to hear what you think of it. Jill

          “Oakland port is thriving while the city’s coffers are running dry. It is the perfect target to restore Occupy’s momentum

          Aaron Bady
          Aaron Bady
          guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 13 December 2011 08.53 EST

          On my way to the Occupy the port action this morning, I stopped by Oscar Grant Plaza, the tiny patch of lawn in front of Oakland’s city hall where – until the city evicted them for the second time on 14 November – Occupy Oakland’s tents, kitchen, library, and meeting place had stood. Now it’s little more than a muddy swamp. The city’s sprinklers run overtime to keep the soil saturated with water, so that no more tents can be put up. It’s cheaper than paying police to evict the occupiers. Easier just to leave the water on all night and turn the space into a mud pit.

          Ever since Occupy Oakland was evicted, the movement has been stuck in the mud. Efforts to find a new site for the camp have been less than successful, while the general assemblies have been alternately racked by controversy and sparsely attended. Shutting down “Wall Street on the Waterfront”, as they’ve called it, is an effort to get some of their momentum back. And so far, it looks promising: perhaps a thousand community members gathered in West Oakland at 5.30am yesterday morning, marched into the port of Oakland and prevented port workers and container trucks from entering. Busloads of riot police were on the scene, but there was no riot and they went home. By late morning the port of Oakland was officially shut down: port officials cited “health and safety risks” and sent workers home, leaving container ships loaded at the docks.

          Officially, the longshoreman union is not sanctioning the blockade. But then, given how firmly its hands are tied by anti-union legislation, it would be shocking if it had. While longshoremen are under no obligation to cross a community picket line, they are forbidden by law from striking except during very specific circumstances (say, during contract negotiations). If the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) had endorsed the blockade – even unofficially – union officials and stewards could face jail time. And so, ironically, while occupiers across the west coast are blockading ports in the name of labour – in particular Los Angeles truck drivers (non-unionised) who were fired for wearing union T-shirts and ILWU workers engaged in a labour dispute against EGT in Longview, Washington – labour has little power to speak in its own name here, except by refusing to cross a community picket line.

          Another aspect to the blockade is the port’s relationship with the city of Oakland. While Oakland’s coffers are so perpetually empty that it recently voted to close five elementary schools – for annual savings of a mere $2m – the terms of the port’s financialisation ensure that its operating revenues do little to plug the holes in Oakland’s social services budget. It’s the fifth largest port in the US, with operating revenues of over $27bn a year, and as Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland Education Association, pointed out, a mere 1% tax on the ports operating revenue would be enough to plug almost every shortfall the city’s education budget faces. But while the port operates (rent-free) on public land, all of its operating profits go to pay back the bonds that paid for its modernisation, or are reinvested in the port itself. Capital profits, as a growing number of Oakland residents are pointing out, while schools close and workers suffer.”

          1. LucyLulu

            Jill,
            I’ve never had a beef with the ports being an inappropriate target. It certainly qualifies. The workers have real and legitimate issues, and I feel for their struggles. I also believe this looks like a perfect opportunity for OWS to intervene. My concern was only whether or not the workers themselves wanted the help. I’ve read additional links that have been posted and to me, it doesn’t seem very clear. Motivations are complicated, and there are references to a backstory that isn’t making it into the news. OTOH, there are also seems to be legitimate complaints about some communication breakdowns. That happens in ventures this large.

            This is from an article posted by somebody else, and states more clearly than I did, I’m sure, what my concerns were:

            “Both Stern and Occupy demand that workers sacrifice their right and standards for the greater good—but neither offers them a choice nor an opinion on what exactly is the greater good. And the question of ‘who decides’ … is irrelevant or perhaps involves merely an ‘inconvenience,’” says Winslow. “In both cases there are real problems. If we are going to see a rebirth of the labor movement, it’s going to have to come workers doing things for themselves. It’s not something that can be imposed.”

            At this point, it seems that some from labor were involved in the decision and were in agreement, and some were left out. What is hard to tell is who represented the majority. One can only imagine what Fox and Limbaugh are saying, but they’d be trashing it irregardless. The articles in more mainstream media, e.g. LA Times, make it appear as if this was more of an OWS movement being imposed on workers who were reluctant. That may not be the reality, but if that is the portrayal most are reading, that is a problem. Ideally, the workers and OWS should officially claim solidarity.

            It’s ironic about the sprinklers. The Occupiers are kicked out of public parks because they are preventing others from enjoying use of the parks, so they keep sprinklers on so nobody can use the park. Logically, that makes sense how?

    2. Richard Kline

      If anyone’s paycheck was significantly impacted by the port blockades put in place by Occupiers the length of the West Coast, plus Houston, plus a courageous action in Denver, it’s the short haul drayage workers who haul containers between docks and yards. In some places, they’d lose a day’s earning. I don’t think any one of us interdicting traffic at these ports feels good about that. So why do it?

      Those drayage workers are treated worse than dogs, forced into ‘independent contracting’ with so many limitations their pay is pitiful and conditions contemptible. Here’s what _they_ say about their considerable sympathy for the blockades, which were explicitly done by the Occupiers in the drayage workers interests:

      http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/747410/an_open_letter_from_america%27s_port_truck_drivers_on_occupy_the_ports/#paragraph6

      That is an open statement made by a few chosen to speak for many. Tell me again, who is taking a hit because of the Occupiers’ action(s)?

      SSA, the stevedoring company which runs many of these docks is 51% owned by Goldman Sachs. Going back to the subject of Matt’s post above, who is profiting from globalization? Who is profiting from exploiting workers, specifically American workers in this instance, by the conditions of globalization imposed on the 99% for the 1% by a Goldman’s controlled company? Who then are these actions aimed at? For those of us in the Occupation movement, it’s patently obvious who has to be opposed and was opposed, and who has to be supported and was sympathetic to that support.

      Please, no more of the ‘workers don’t support’ meme: this is disinformation put out for the advantage of the 1%, so repeat that meme only if it’s your goal to support that 1%.

      1. skippy

        Fooking armchairs[!!!!] suck the cortex right out of ya.

        Foxtopian narrative, car with gun and sword headed to OP, cops unwilling to evict…arrggggg.

        People need to work, bad occupy, hungry kids at home….fook me!

        Skippy…their all on the edge, why, goldman shacks is why. When is goldman going to incentive with food parcels….ummmm. P…O’ed

        PS. was thinking about you today, out there.

      2. EH

        I don’t think any one of us interdicting traffic at these ports feels good about that. So why do it?

        Is this the standard by which you propose we govern commerce and labor now? I can think of some other people who have affected the feeling-good and economics of drayage workers over the past few years.

      3. Ransome

        As far as the Dallas Fed, they are a nest of libertarian-neoliberals and quite proud of it. They are into globalization 150%, read all the Annual Reports. They are so into globalization, they missed the housing bubble but they did not miss the restructuring of the economy with respect to jobs. The Reports are mandatory reading. I think the 2003 report discusses the wage situation with most jobs being wage stagnant except two groups, jobs and wages in finance were going up and jobs in truck driving were going down to minimum wage. Why? Laid off semi-skilled workers from mills and factories were crowding into the trucker business. This was a warning of unemployment looming.

        I remember the Dallas Fed economist on the radio, taking call-in questions. A fireman (I think) was complaining that with stagnant wages and rising home prices, he could not afford to live where he worked. The answer was very Libertarian, work two jobs or move farther from work, much farther. No mention of a bubble. And (the best part) working two jobs will enhance his resume.

        The mayor in Ft. Lauderdale took call-ins around the same time, he received about the same question on home prices, wages and rising local taxes. The answer? Anyone that works 40 hours a week is a couch potato and doesn’t deserve to live in Ft. Lauderdale.

        The Libertarian-neoliberals are a tough crowd.

        1. F. Beard

          “The Libertarian-neoliberals are a tough crowd.” Ransome

          Bankers are among the biggest hypocrites on the planet. They want everyone else to work hard so they can be on the golf course by 3 (the 3-6-3 rule).

      4. the real deal

        Hey Kline: Here is what the left press is saying:

        http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/12418/protesters_shut_down_ports_without_unions_support/

        http://labornotes.org/2011/12/west-coast-port-shutdown-sparks-heated-debate-between-unions-occupy

        Seems to contradict your “la la la la” fingers in ears analysis, and black/white you are either with us(me) or the 1%.

        Also, it’s obvious you have little contact with longshoremen in your locality. Otherwise your remarks would be a bit more tempered. Much of what you say about the level of support isn’t true, and the burden of proof is on you I’m afraid; you mistake begrudged support for tacit support, and dismiss everyone else.

  6. Woodrow Wilson

    http://www.dryships.com/pages/report.asp

    Not sure what the author is talking about. Cape shipping is the only one seen breaking a three-year trend, the other two have been flat or declining.

    The port unions/workers fail to realize that not only are they being looted here in the U.S. with the full backing of CONgress, but the entire planet is in a tailspin. You can’t Legislate yourself out of that, no matter how much money you throw at CONgress.

    1. anon

      Hey Woody, whatever other problems there are, all of them are exacerbated by the unequal distribution of capital worldwide that has been created by the policies of organizations such as the FOMC.

      1. Woodrow Wilson

        OK, say I agree with you, what next? Blog more? “Vote the bums out!”? Most of this country doesn’t even understand The Federal Reserve is a private bank. Over the past decades, we know that CONgress Members defer to Fed officials on monetary policy. The majority of the country is asleep, don’t care, don’t know or drool over whatever MSM tells them. I am not the enemy here.

        1. anon

          Don’t underestimate the import of the educational aspect of OWS – educational in the largest sense of the term.

          If you want to do something, participate in OWS. And speak to your associates, neighbors, family and friends with the intention of helping them to see and hear what you do. Listen, too. Be creative. Be a citizen of the world community. Don’t be afraid to start small.

  7. F. Beard

    They are the ones who decide whether interest rates go up or down Matt Stoller

    = fascism and a single failure point besides.

    and whether to heat or cool the economy. Matt Stoller

    = fascism and a single failure point besides.

    The arrogance of central bankers. The “punch bowl” should be taken from them and broken over their arrogant heads.

  8. F. Beard

    The absolute worst union is the government backed/enforced counterfeiting cartel, the bankers’ union.

    Every other union appears to be a defensive response to that union.

  9. ella

    Under the FED’s theory, we should have disinflation in the financial infrastructure in order to move the economy forward. The cost of this infrastructure is strangling our national, state, and local governments not to mention the public. The public is getting hit twice as they pay the taxes and suffer the economic consequences of the Fed/banker created credit bubble. Thus, in order for America to be more competitive, we need to dismantle and rebuild the financial infrastructure.

    We can start with repealing the Commodities Modernization Act (regulating all derivatives, prohibiting any that are systemic and eliminating speculative CDS’ that are written on instruments not owned by the buyer of the CDS) and reinstating the original Glass-Steagall Act. Next, we can eliminate interest rate swaps and allow all government entities to withdraw from that market without penalty; which will save the taxpayer billions.

    Next we can add a financial transaction sales tax. The rest of pay sales taxes, why not traders? Worried about taxes for retirement accounts then only imposed the tax or nonretirement account trading. Treat and tax all capital gains at the same rate as wages. It is after all income.

    Create claw back legislation for any company owner that loads the company up with debt in order to extract the equity as profit while the company fails. You know like Bain capital and others who use the same strategy to strip the asset while laying off workers and bankrupting the company.

    Surely, there are many more ways to create a financial infrastructure that promotes growth which benefits the many over the few.

    1. walter_map

      Indeed. Wealth and power, like water, seek their own level. Unlike water, wealth and power flow uphill, and not downhill, and unless they are controlled and impounded and diverted by the levees and dams and canals of democracy to the parched fields of the people, they will naturally run away to the seas of authoritarianism. Western societies are very quickly evolving into the feudal caste system preferred by the ruling class. Think India. It hasn’t even gotten ugly yet, much less _weird_ ugly. That is yet to come.

      When the levee breaks, momma you got to move.

  10. walter_map

    The ultimate, anonymous owners of the military-industrial complex, the medical-industrial complex, and the financial industrial complex are extracting wealth from western economies much faster than it can be produced, and the rate of extraction is accelerating.

    It should be obvious that the goal is to liquidate western economies, and the banking system, like the Federal Reserve system in the US, is tasked with accomplishing that.

    I still think it was a bad idea to legalise loan sharking and piracy, but the loan sharks and pirates like it just fine.

    1. Up the Ante

      “The ultimate, anonymous owners of the military-industrial complex, the medical-industrial complex, and the financial industrial complex are extracting wealth from western economies much faster than it can be produced, and the rate of extraction is accelerating.

      It should be obvious that the goal is to liquidate western economies, and the banking system, like the Federal Reserve system in the US, is tasked with accomplishing that. ”

      And using a five-year plan, of all things, of secrecy to cloak their means of doing what? Of reverse-engineering, of all things, America.

      Reverse engineering.

      Soviet Amerika.

      1. walter_map

        It should be obvious to any informed observer that the goal of the ruling class is to reduce the populations of Europe and the US to role of livestock, as they already are in China and India. No conspiracy theory needed. You’re watching it happen in real time:

        http://real-world-news.org/bk-quigley/00.html

        ‘”…[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. this system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations…”

        ‘This wealth is now being used to construct and maintain the World Empire that is in the last stages of development. The World Empire is partly visible and partly invisible today.

        ‘The chief architects of this new World Empire are planning another war – World War III – to eliminate any vestiges of political, economic or religious freedom from the face of the earth. They will then completely control the earth.’

      2. Ransome

        With a three month or three day worldview, they do it because they have the tools and because they are allowed. Eventually they eat themselves. Ultimately there is a foil, public utilities and capital control, it worked before and will work again.

  11. Tim

    I am not really sure that it is at all realistic for Houston or any other Gulf Coast port to gain much in container traffic even after the expansion of the Panama Canal. I have seen numbers indicating perhaps 5% of West Coast port traffic is going to diverted to the Gulf. Most of the limited diversion I have seen to date is traffic for example going from China through the Suez to Boston for example which historically has had an even more difficult labor situation than the West Coast(Boston has a realitively deep harbor especially at high tide however, until recently when you now have vessels that simply cannot get into to other major ports shipping lines have tended to avoid it do to the aforementioned labor “situation”). The real problem is you can dredge Boston compared to Houston easily enough for some of new “mega” ships on the drawing board but at some point they will start to interfere with air traffic into Logan Airport.

  12. beowulf

    How is the FOMC even constitutional in the wake of last year’s Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB ruling?

    Neither the President, nor anyone directly responsible to him, nor even an officer whose conduct he may review only for good cause, has full control over the Board. The President is stripped of the power our precedents have preserved, and his ability to execute the laws—by holding his subordinates accountable for their conduct—is impaired… That arrangement is contrary to Article II’s vesting of the executive power in the President. Without the ability to oversee the Board, or to attribute the Board’s failings to those whom he can oversee, the President is no longer the judge of the Board’s conduct. He is not the one who decides whether Board members are abusing their offices or neglecting their duties. He can neither ensure that the laws are faithfully executed, nor be held responsible for a Board member’s breach of faith. This violates the basic principle that the President “cannot delegate ultimate responsibility or the active obligation to supervise that goes with it,” because Article II “makes a single President responsible for the actions of the Executive Branch.”
    http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?page=7&xmldoc=In%20SCO%2020100628977.xml&docbase=CSLWAR3-2007-CURR&SizeDisp=7

  13. ginnie nyc

    I just love this quote “We have a long way to go in exploiting China.” As if they are calling the shots in the relationship! And this is FOMC! The world turned upside down…

    1. Amateur Socialist

      William Grieder illustrated the policy priorities of the fed about 20+ years ago with his classic Secrets of The Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country.

      He relates a short but well known anecdote involving then Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. Questioned by congressmen regarding the tight money policies he pursued he responded: “Your constituents are unhappy, mine aren’t”

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