Seeking reader input on possible venues for our meetup in San Francisco.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Posted by Yves Smith at 2:30 am |
Posted by Yves Smith at 6:57 am |
Yves here. I’m publishing this piece on Iraq not just on its own merits, but as a vehicle for discussing America’s ever-more destructive foreign policies. I was disheartened by the events of yesterday. It wasn’t simply the tragedy of the Malaysian Airlines plane crash and the almost certain intensification of the Ukraine conflict, and the escalation in Gaza. It was also the speed with which some of the leftie hawks who’d eagerly called for the invasion of Iraq were quick to demonize Putin.
Yves here. This post looks at how little has been done in the wake of the global financial crisis is instructive because it takes an international view. The Australian writer, Catherine Cashmore, is particularly anxious about the failure to address the usually lucky country’s ginormous property bubble, and its not alone in having this problem (cue the UK, China, and Canada). It the US, although we’ve had a housing “recovery” and some markets are looking frothy, the bigger issues are the squeeze on renters as former homeowners are now leasing and the stock of rentals is tight in some markets (in part due to destruction of homes that would have been rentable in the foreclosure process due to servicer mismanagement and in some markets, due to properties being held off the market, both by servicers and by landlords who are either in the process of rehabbing them or have otherwise not leased them up). And it focuses on the elephant in the room: lousy worker wage growth.
One of the favored practices of the banking industry in recent years has been to engage in not merely shameless, but truly deranged hyperbole when anyone dares voice so much as an itty bitty threat against their prerogatives. For instance, venture capitalist Tom Perkins had a meltdown in the op-ed section of the Wall Street Journal, conflating criticism of rentier behavior among the 0.1% as an incipient Kristallnacht. Jamie Dimon in March 2009 (yes, you have the date right) had the temerity to complain about the “vilification” of Corporate America over the financial crisis. Even the weak restrictions on executive pay in the TARP produced outcries and desperate efforts to repay the TARP quickly (and the cronyistic Treasury acceded, rather than requiring banks get their capital levels higher first).
We witnessed a new outburst of Banking Industry Persecution Complex yesterday from SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar, who was speaking before an assembly of fellow inmates at the American Enterprise Institute.
Yves here. Some technology enthusiasts predict that as many as 47% of current jobs will be displaced in the next decade. Candidates include not only trucking and bus driving (to be eliminated by self-driving vehicles) but more and more white collar work, as computer get better at the sort of information scanning and analysis that is now done by entry and low-level workers. This post examines different scenarios for how that might play out in Europe.
Posted by Yves Smith at 6:55 am |
Colorado Attorney General Files “Massive” Lawsuit Against Foreclosure Mills, Paving Way for Suits in Other States
It’s not hard to notice the contrast between the posture of a Republican state attorney general in Colorado, John Suthers, who opened up an investigation when the Denver Post exposed pervasive overbilling by foreclosure mills, versus the conduct of a Federal task force dedicated to pursuing foreclosure fraud.
We’ve inveighed against the dangers of two Orwellianlly-branded “trade” deals, the TransPacific Partnership and its ugly twin, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Both negotiations have been shrouded in a deeply troubling level of secrecy, with their draft terms being given classified status and Congressmen kept largely in the dark as to their content (summaries provided by the US Trade Representative aren’t remotely adequate, since as in all contracts, much hinges on exact language).
The business press in the US has tended to amplify Administration messaging, that both deals are moving forward. In fact, as we’ve covered in some detail, the TransPacific Partnership is in quite a lot of trouble, and as we’ll discuss below, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is also going pear shaped.
One issue we’ve raise over the year is the ways that the corporate fetish for offshoring and outsourcing greatly increases business risk. Even when savings are realized (and as we’ve discussed, in many cases, the main result is a transfer from factory/lower level workers to managers and executives), they are seldom weighed properly against the increased fragility of the operation, and the resulting exposure to big losses. For instance, extended supply chains entail more communications across the chain, longer production cycles, more shipping, all of which increase the odds of writeoffs via having too much inventory or inventory in the wrong place, and those occasional losses can swamp the savings over time.
Those supply chain risks have come into focus, as the Financial Times reminds us, as the possibility of West Coast port strikes looms.
One the markets that has been least easy to predict this year has been US bonds. The long term US bond bears, that are often monetarists at heart and believe QE will bring inflation, have been queuing up to short. Likewise, post-Keynesian’s have pointed at Japan and laughed about secular deleveraging and widow-maker trades.
The fact is, the bears have been wrong all year, and even with recent inflationary rumblings are still wrong.
Posted by Yves Smith at 6:56 am |
A Nicholas Lemann profile of Janet Yellen in the New Yorker, based on interviews with her, is creating quite a stir, and for many of the wrong reasons. The article verges on fawning, but even after you scrape off the treacle, it’s not hard to see how aggressively and consistently the Fed chair hits her big talking point, that’s she’s on the side of the little guy. As correspondent Li put it:
She’s simultaneously Mother Teresa (spent her whole life caring about the poor without actually meeting any poor people) and Forrest Gump (present when all bad deregulatory polcies were made, but miraculously untainted by them).
Puh-lease! She’s Bernanke in a granny package, without the history lessons.
In fact, as we’ll discuss, Yellen’s record before and at the Fed shows she’s either aligned herself with banking/elite interests or played two-handed economist to sit out important policy fights. Even if she actually harbors concern for ordinary citizens, she’s never been willing to risk an ounce of career capital on it.
Numerous media outlets reported today that the FCC was inundated by last-minute comments on proposed net neutrality rules, and was forced by its server crashing as a result of the volume to extend its deadline to Friday. The agency has received 780,000 comments so far, more than it has ever received on a rule-making, and activists contend the real figure is higher
The nominally $7 billion Citi mortgage settlement shows the Administration playing “tough with banks” in ways that fool no one.