By Morgan Sandquist, a member of the Occupy Wall Street Alternative Banking Group. Cross posted from mathbabe
The largest banks in America–Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and others–are probably insolvent. I learned of this from my companions in Occupy Wall Street’s Alternative Banking Working Group. It seems that, based on a host of legal and accounting irregularities, the banks have been able to conceal real and potential losses far larger than their capital reserves. But this has been difficult to confirm.
Isn’t that strange? Wouldn’t the possible insolvency of the core of our banking industry be a matter of nearly universal importance? Shouldn’t we be trying to figure out if this is in fact so, how it came to be, what we’re going to do about it, and how we can prevent its happening again?
Anyone investigating the true health of the banking industry, apparently including regulators, is faced with opacity, complexity, and even outright hostility that stymies all but the most savvy and persistent. Fortunately, people within OWS, including the Occupy the SEC Working Group, are that savvy and persistent. But the reaction of the industry and its partisans to such efforts has included the not-so-subtle suggestion that inquiring into the well-being of the banking industry will somehow cause problems to arise that wouldn’t otherwise exist if we would all just mind our own business.
This seems odd in an ostensibly objective and quantitative context like banking. Shouldn’t the truth be clearly visible in the accounting? Shouldn’t we all–borrowers, investors, depositors, and regulators–want to know exactly what’s going on?
As unexpected as such a visceral and irrational reaction to genuine, well-founded concern is from the supposedly rational realm of finance, that telltale blend of evasion, grandiosity, and superstition will be familiar to anyone who has ever confronted an addict about his or her addiction.
Denial is far more than an addict’s dismissal of the truth of his or her addiction; it’s collectively developed by the addict’s entire social sphere, and it takes many forms.
It might be helpful to imagine addiction and denial as intangible agents acting in a social context. Addiction’s agency is directed solely toward uninterrupted use of the addictive substance, and denial’s agency is directed solely toward ensuring that no one sees, understands, or limits addiction’s agency. Denial denies not just claims and assertions, it also denies access and insight into the reality of addiction. It denies that behavior is driven by addiction and that behavior’s consequences are the results of addiction. It denies the story of addiction and proposes an endless collection of counter-conspiracies.
It appears as those around the addict ignoring the addict’s use and the consequences of that use; as the narratives, tics, and habits through which the addict understands and acts out his or her use; and as the alternate version of reality that the addict and everyone around him or her shares in lieu of the reality of addiction. To paraphrase Baudelaire on the devil, denial’s best trick is to persuade us that addiction doesn’t exist.
No addiction could develop a more effective narrative of denial than the trade in exotic financial instruments that’s evolved over the last decade or so; no addiction could hope for more willing abettors than the financial press, regulators, and ratings agencies; and no addiction could depend on a more permissive enabler than the Federal Reserve Bank.
It’s difficult not to imagine the banking industry as jittery and unshaven, embarking on yet another unregulated derivative binge, telling us, its concerned partner, that we just wouldn’t understand what it’s like, how high the return can get, while its friends in the financial press and ratings agencies encourage it, scoffing at the very idea of risk.
And later that night, as it’s coming down, it’ll shout something at us about not really needing the $1.2 trillion in liquidity, but if the Fed’s offering, why not?, it’ll make the night that much better, only to face us the next morning, hungover and distractedly claiming none of it ever happened.
We’ll confront it with seemingly undeniable evidence of MERS, TARP, executive bonuses, and a ruined housing sector, and it’ll look betrayed, ask us how we could even say such a thing, and tell us that it’s none of our concern and that we just have to trust it, because the bills are paid, right? It’s not like it’s as bad as AIG or MF Global, it’ll say, which will lead to an impossible-to-follow tale of the prank it played on MF Global last night, and how that was like something that happened to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers once, and ending with the declaration that the Fed and the SEC would never let anything bad happen to the Banking Industry.
And what choice do we have? Maybe it’s not that bad. After all, if the banks really were insolvent, there would’ve been something on the evening news.
why do you think the Fed has promised ZIRP till 2014 & beyond? it’s a slow, stealthy, painful way for them to recapitalize the banks…
…that is not working because the banks are putting the money into their arms and up their noses (the great annual bonus pools) instead of recapitalizing. Oh, and betting up the price of starvation and impoverishment.
Max Keiser and others such as Karl Denninger have been screaming bank insolvency for a long time now. Many might not realize FED MONETARY POLICY is the Globalists weapon of mass financial destruction. The States are aiding and abetting them with other fascist tactics like hypertaxation. Soon the crooks will declare America broke when their robbery is complete and we can no longer pay our bills because of their crimes and corruption. Then they will offer their fraudulent fix for what they created and steal our National Sovereignty. They are laughing all the way to their overseas bank accounts. They are counting on those who don’t get it to carry this out. The media is a disgrace.
This seems odd in an ostensibly objective and quantitative context like banking. Shouldn’t the truth be clearly visible in the accounting? Shouldn’t we all–borrowers, investors, depositors, and regulators–want to know exactly what’s going on? Yves Smith
In a word, no. Banking is based on confidence. If enough people don’t think the banks are sound then they aren’t. It’s a game of musical chairs and few want the music to stop.
Of course the banks are never sound; they borrow short to lend long and hope they don’t get caught.
We have a money system that is essentially Russian Roulette. Yes, almost all of the time the cylinder has a blank – until it doesn’t.
Oops! Pardon me, please! The quote is from Morgan Sandquist, not Yves.
I was wondering at the naivety of it.
from the mouths of babes
It’s refreshing to read a simple description of the insolvency of our big banks. Insolvency is hidden by the media, the government, accounting giants and the banks themselves. After whole, it’s bad manners to say that the king has no cloths.
Most bizarre in this conspiracy, the banks total dominate of our political system; they are the bosses. How can this happen?
Its not the first time, and it worked out so well the last time so what could go wrong? (that’s the line the Obamabots have taken and they’ll tell you if you are their friend and its off the record). Of course, since it hasn’t worked yet ;), they have to continuously cover up and over all the ongoing crimes of the banksters in order to give them the “breathing room” to make it work… I wonder when Obama and his little icky elf Timmy will finally admit their plan has failed. Oh wait, that won’t happen. The entire country could collapse into mass starvation and localized warfare and these two will continue “the plan” to fix the banks.
Is it denial, or more like post hoc justification?
Concur – certainly a lot of that!
Would insolvency become more visible with a return to mark-to-market?
The big lie propagated by Bush/Paulson/Bernanke and embraced by Obama/Geithner/Bernanake was that the banks were only illiquid. They were not insolvent, and all that was needed was a short payday loan to get their balance sheets back in order. Over four years later, with the complicity of the MSM, the lie continues unabated.
Historians may one day write that the US and GFC was the key turning point in the breakdown of the social contract between citizens and their governments. With Congressional approval at 12%-17%, even finacially illiterate US citizens understand that our political system has been deeply corrupted. Perhaps we can expect a slow social de-evolution from the Renaissance to The Middle Ages and eventually a return to the Dark Ages.
“More than any time in history, mankind now faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” — Woody Allen
I think addiction is a perfect metaphor. And to receive info from OWS’s Alternative Banking Group confirming everyone’s strong suspicion that all of our banks are insolvent is nice. The answer is yes, we should have banks that keep and provide accurate information about their own solvency. Clearly the Fed is the enabler, along with Treasury, Congress, all of the Administration; most of the country’s judicial districts – both state and federal; and of course every disgruntled homeowner and taxpayer. We gotta get into rehab fast. I do believe that is what’s happening. But don’t say anything.
And the U.S. Supreme Court is the Court/Enabler of Last Resort.
“Who are you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”
did the banks not build enough capital to no longer be considered insolvent?
Does it matter if the behavior is “addiction” or if it is
an ongoing slo-mo conspiracy? Would it affect our personal and then small-group social economic survivalist behavior if it were one or the other?
Is this OWS financialist working group working through methods and tools for personal survivalism and for small-group economic lifeboat survivalism after that? If they aren’t , shouldn’t they be? And if they aren’t, then who is? ( I can think of some names for who is, but I wish hundreds of other commenters here would all begin offering names and sources for people who are trying to help themselves and eachother Build Survivalism).
yes, where is the steering committee for human evolution? aren’t there meetings?
“THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM” (Otto Preminger, 1955);
“Z” (Costa-Gavras, 1969);
“THE PARALLAX VIEW” (Alan J. Pakula, 1974);
“WALL STREET (Oliver Stone, 1987);
“CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS” (Woody Allen, 1989);
“TRAFFIC” (Steven Soderbergh, 2000);
“BLOW” (Ted Demme, 2001);
“MARIA FULL OF GRACE” (Joshua Marston, 2004)
“COCAINE COWBOYS” (Billy Corben, 2005);
“FAST FOOD NATION” (Richard Linklater, 2005);
“ENRON: The Smartest Guys in the Room” (Alex Gibney, 2005);
“INSIDE JOB” (Charles Ferguson, 2011)
Adam Curtis’ “Century of Self”, “The Trap”, “The Power of Nightmares”, “Matewon”, “Margin Call”, “Erin Brockovich”, “Catch 22”, “Fellini’s Satyricon”+”Fellini’s Roma”, “Food Inc.”, “Vulture’s Picnic”, etc, etc..
It’s a crime to lend money today very well knowing the housing values are depreciating, but hey, this is ‘Murica!
I’d love to know – just out of curiosity
– where each and every one of you who
commented on the article by
Morgan Sandquist keep your money and
how many credit cards you use how many
each day. Anyone care to play?
Your question is irrelevant since the public has no real choice but to use the banking system. Even credit unions practice fractional reserves.
As for borrowing, that is likewise irrelevant since prices are driven up by “credit creation” so much that many people have no choice but to borrow themselves. See “Tragedy of the Commons”.
and don’t call me “Shirley”…
Money in a credit union. Don’t use credit cards (I’m also helping organize a state-owned Partnership Bank so the state of Montana doesn’t have to do give its money to US Bank).
One thing we can all do is move our money. I would hope that no regular readers of this blog are actually still doing business with any of these fraudsters.
Money in a credit union. diptherio
Credit unions steal via fractional reserves too. Sharing the loot with the members does not change that.
I’d used credit cards for over 20 years (hey, air miles, etc). Almost two years ago, I was out of town and mistakenly put my credit card into an ATM, rather than my debit card, to get cash. (Both had the same PIN, and I was busy chatting so I missed my error at the time. I had intended to use my debit for cash.)
When I received my credit card statement, I saw that Wells Fargo was charging me 22% for that cash withdrawal: I realized that I had used the wrong card, and it was my mistake. My fault, mea culpa and all that. (I should have had different PINs for the debit and the credit, and I should *never* have had the cards right next to each other in my purse, where I could easily mistake one for the other. I will NEVER make that mistake again (!))
A branch manager of my local Wells Fargo offered to ‘fix it’ for me when I went gasping in horror to discuss the matter. I was incredibly embarrassed about making such a dumb, simple mistake. He tried to be helpful, but I just couldn’t get beyond being so horrified that after 20+ years of being a loyal customer, paying on time, maintaining a good credit history, and playing by the rules, that I was being charged a rate that I associate with Loan Sharks and the Mob.
It made me want to ask if Wells Fargo was going to send ‘Vinnie’ over to ‘break my legs’ if I didn’t pay them on time.
I had a kind of eerie moment, when I finally realized that I no longer felt like the customer of a bank. It’s weird, but I felt like a victim of organized crime. I mean, how on earth does anyone justify 22% as a business model…?!
Not too long before, I’d been billed $150 annual fee for my business credit card, which given my ‘relationship’ with Wells, should have been waived. (I had to take my time to call them to get it waived, and I was sick of calling them about problems and fees on my statements). But although it was irritating, I still didn’t want to deal with the hassle of actually moving all my accounts out of Wells Fargo – it just felt too overwhelming, so I kept trying to fix every little aggravating problem that came up — until that moment when I realized that I felt like the victim of some kind of white collar crime.
I might have remained a loyal customer and kept patiently, nicely trying to let them ‘fix it’ every time a new problem came up. But that 22% on my credit card bill put me right over the edge, and turned out to be the catalyst that I needed to pay those bastards off and get my money out of their maw.
The capper was that when I asked at the branch for my payoff amount for the credit card, they could not tell me (!). I am not making this up!
The people at my local branch could not access my Wells Fargo Business Card balance, so I had to phone their Business credit card division to get the payoff amount. On what planet do bankers not know how much their customers owe their own bank?! I was absolutely dumbfounded.
Again, mea culpa! I did not read all the fine print when I opened the business card account, because Back In the Day, when I first opened the account I had a personal relationship with my banker and the rate was well below 10%. And when the new contracts came, I flied them away but did not read pages of fine print, because if I had wanted to read pages of legalese I’d have become a lawyer.
I’m not willing to blame myself for failing to read pages of fine print; if Wells Fargo wants to ding me 22% because I put the wrong damn card in their ATM, then screw them.
In my own metamorphosis, I finally hit a moment where I realized, “I shouldn’t have to spend hours of my time reading fine print. If I can’t trust them, I’m out of here.” I was a reliable, consistent customer. They were the ones who kept changing the rules, and I finally (finally!!) woke up and realized that there seemed to be no end to their desire to weigh me down with usurious rates. NO amount of ‘good conduct’ on my part was going to address the issue, and there was no end to their greed.
My trust in Wells Fargo was completely gone. Nada.
For me, the icing on the cake was bailing those bastards out in 2008, then reading the amounts of bank lobbying money reported on the open secrets.org website, plus reading about bank bonuses, fraud closure, and posts at NC.
I had dreaded moving my money because it was going to be complicated and time consuming. It wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. After it was all over, the spouse and I went out to dinner to celebrate, because it was such a relief to be done with the banking hassles that we wanted to mark the occasion, and we had a lovely evening.
I opened accounts in a credit union, and then (fortunately) we moved the mortgage over to the credit union as well. I am still amazed at how simple and easy the credit union is: we now get simple credit union statements that take less than a minute to read.
I don’t have a credit card at the moment, because I do just fine with a debit and I find it kind of weirdly liberating to be without a credit card. I’ll get one at some point, and the credit union rates are below 7%. But I’m still so pissed every time the memory that I was charged 22% interest crosses my mind that I can’t stomach carrying a credit card.
It may take me another year to be willing to entertain the idea of getting a credit card. For my purposes, the debit (which has a Mastercard logo) works just fine: online, on iTunes, at shops, at UPS, and at businesses that I use.
I have two debits: one personal, one business.
They are both through the credit union.
For the foreseeable future, I’m happy with keeping things this simple, and I find that it has been quite efficient, and I love not paying a nickel of interest.
In recent months, several friends have pulled their money out of BoA and Chase. (Several of these are former WaMu customers who ended up at Chase when it took over WaMu accounts.)
I see them going through the same metamorphosis that I have: for years, we didn’t really think much about banking. We were loyal, steady customers for decades.
Now, we can’t believe what we see and read, and none of us want to support that kind of corrupt, reckless, unethical, bankrupt system – particularly not as we head toward retirement planning, where stability and predictability and a simple, balanced approach are big concerns.
Boeing Employees Credit Union (BECU, in Western Washington) is the CU that I now belong to, and apparently they went from about 600,000 to 700,000 customers in the past year. Consider this: BECU is at least 30 years old. And in the past year, they’ve grown about 16%. That suggests to me that a whole lot of people are willing to go through the hassle of moving their money. Waiting at the ATM line, I meet people who, like myself, are thrilled to have the simple option of a credit union. We’re all learning the ropes together, chatting in the ATM lineup.
The BECU online banking has been simple and easy to use, and their system seems to be primarily designed for remote and online banking. They are in a nationwide Credit Union network, and so far I have always been able to easily locate an ATM that I can use at no charge. (I had been reluctant to leave Wells Fargo because they have a great ATM system, you can get money everywhere. I can say the credit union system has – so far – been equally convenient.)
Three of the people that I know who have left big banks have, like me, moved to BECU. Like me, they want simple, inexpensive, no marketing gimmicks, and easy ATM access and online banking. Another friend went to a local community bank and seems happy with it.
For the people that I’m describing, who travel a lot, access to ATMs and online banking information is really important.
I think at some level, my friends and I seem to be moving through a psychological need to support systems that are honest, simple, effective – and ethical. We aren’t millions of people, but we are all people who had banked at big institutions for decades and never thought about anything other than convenience — it never dawned on us that the banks were unethical until fairly recently.
These friends of mine will never go Occupy anywhere. They might quietly support it, but they’re on planes, they’re in meetings, they’re working. They’re not protestors; they’re attorneys and programmers and teachers and administrators and professors and engineers. They’re really decent people, but if I’m listening astutely, I sense that they don’t want to support the kind of corrupt economic system that I think we are all finding shocking.
As long as the credit unions keep it simple and don’t pay big bonuses, I think they’re going to build as a business model. In addition to listening to several friends move their money out of big banks, we’re all talking to our kids about these topics and they are also at least thinking of moving their money. Some of them already have; one of my kids is now at BECU for savings and CDs, whereas in earlier years she’d have been at Wells or BoA.
I take that as a very promising sign.
Long comment; very kind of Yves to indulge.
I suppose that, to my own very great surprise, I feel as if the past few years have been something of a metamorphosis for me. My comment was far, far too long but I would honestly be interested in other people’s experiences and/or perspectives. (Bank trolls excepted.)
Don’t feel the need to address your thoughts, as if they are fooked up.
Skippy… every orifice of you financial being is getting penetrated and you feel the need to remain civil. YOU are the pray FFS.
In a local credit union in town. One Big Banka credit card for use every few months. Too lazy to take out a credit card through my own local credit union. Otherwise pay cash for daily-weekly purchases, and checks for bills.
@F.Beard My question is most certainly
not irrelevant. It’s bottom up instead
of top down. All the lip service paid to
mom and pop businesses means nothing if
people are paying for everything with a
credit card. The first time I saw people
paying for a cup of coffee on credit was
in NYC and the first time I saw people
attempting to pay for a cup of coffee
on credit in Europe was thanks to some
American tourists. The point I am trying
to make is simple: you can’t lose if you
don’t play. Stop playing the credit game
the way you do. I have watched hearings
on C-Span since the “Crisis” which have
involved the testimony of homeless kids
and small business owners as well as
Blankfein, Dimon, Rubin, Greenspan & Co
and I saw who gets hurt. Small business
owners ie cafes, shops are bleeding out
because their clients won’t pay cash.
Help your small businesses by paying
cash is all I am saying here. I hope
this message gets through to you.
OK. I misunderstood you. I am all for using cash cause:
1) It denies the banks service charges.
2) It denies the banks reserves until the cash is deposited.
If we had a risk-free (government provided) fiat and transaction service that made no loans and paid no interest, I would happily abandon the banking system, those thieving crooks.
It’s a good point. If you have to use a card at a local establishment, a debit card is the cheapest for the merchant, especially if you can key in your PIN. Rewards cards are the worst, as they cost merchants more to process (which is how those “rewards” get paid for, btw). Am Ex and Discover also cost considerably more for the merchant.
Cash is always the best if you’re shopping local. Trust me, the owners will appreciate it. Save the credit cards for when you are forced to enter a box store or shop at a mega-corp that can handle it.
Cut up their debit cards too. Abolish their microchip. It is a spy tool. It is the mark of a dictatorship IMHO. That chip allows them to know too much of our business. The microchip in the Drivers Licenses and the SS# are bad enough. My son told me the cops in Chicago are now scanning your DL at the nightclub door checking to see if you are a criminal.
It’s a horrible time to buy a house (stealing remains lucrative):
(Reuters) – More than 1 million Americans who have taken out mortgages in the past two years now owe more on their loans than their homes are worth, and Federal Housing Administration loans that require only a tiny down payment are partly to blame.
@F. Beard We are in accord, thanks for
I left out that soon after a risk-free fiat storage is provided all government deposit insurance should be ABOLISHED (along with the Fed).
Nice lovefest Beard n’ Mary. How about ‘free’ plastic? Meaning a card that gives you non-predatory credit acceess without the elarborate systems of legal perversions, fees, travelers miles, grafts, fine print gotchas, legal waivers, waivers of rights, arbitration terrorism and a mulitude of entrapping horseshit that Banks have done to a perfectly good idea. The Dimons, Blankies are simply the heads of voracious information technology corporation who lever said technology for profit alone. MERS is a perfect example of obliterating law and then obscuring what had been done. Pure evil, and the people are largely in the dark by design.
How about ‘free’ plastic? Fat Pinky
Sure. FOR DEBIT USE ONLY.
Since credit is essentially counterfeit money then NO ONE IS CREDIT WORTHY.
Step 1: “We admitted we were powerless over derivatives, that our lives had become unmanageable.”
while the addiction analogy is beautifully presented here and quite apt, and gambling can become an addiction for some people just like crack, heroin, and cigarettes, there is more going on at the social level:
the mindset that comes with the free market ideology, such that the perpetrators of the degradation of our society that we are currently witnessing see themselves not as the participants in and/or facilitators of sordid criminality that they are but as responsible, beneficently uncompromising servants of a system that requires the sacrifice of the unworthy.
while this is certainly delusional, it seems to me to go beyond the usual denial associated with addiction to include a kind of rabid religious conviction that is even more dangerous.
yes alcoholics do sometimes cultivate wine connoisseurship, say, as a way to disguise their addiction from themselves and even do so in groups. but they don’t try to force everyone in their society to swallow whole bottles of the poison they believe is good for them.
and if the medicine kills the “patients”, well they deserved to die. that really is what these people think.
and in “poison” why not include all the literal toxins we know are literally killing us, that other terrible, literal fallout from the enshrinement of the profit motive as gospel. god bless america.
I’m not comfortable with “addiction” as the metaphor.
As someone who quit smoking cold after 35 years (now 2 years ago), I am absolutely certain that smoking is an addiction – and of the most profoundly self-destructive variety.
I am not sure I am prepared to accept that Blankfein, Dimon, Geithner, Bernanke, Paulson, Obama, Shapiro, Bush, Blackrock, Peterson, Carlyle, KBR, Drone Inc. et al and et al and et al ought to be able to claim that they only tried betraying the public trust for power a couple times, got hooked and were therefore no longer responsible.
Us tobacco and drug and booze addicts take umbrage at the notion of being lumped together with the true vermin of this earth.
aletheia33 and Fiver beat me to it. Comparing the financial criminals to addicts is an insult to addicts everywhere.
Substance abusers of every variety have brought us art, literature, science, music and art that elevates our lives. Banksters, not so much.
A more apt analogy for the financial criminals is probably the chronic and incurable child molester.
They seek first to exploit vulnerable and defenseless people for their own pleasure and profit. Check. They manipulate everyone around them, especially the victims whom they bully and intimidate into silence or shame. Check. Then they tell everyone else they were asking for it. Check. They cast themselves as unreproachable servants of the public good before they get caught. Check. And as undeserving victims of hateful witch hunts when discovered. Check. They employ any means to continue committing their crimes, which inevitably escalate. Check.
They’re sociopaths that must be driven from the society of (wo)men.
Many seem deeply concerned over the safety of their banking accounts. With scare-stories like this one above, they are sensible to do so.
What’s a nation to do?
There is a viable alternative. Banks are chartered. So, why not create a no-speculation chartered bank that does not allow “bank assets” (your checking account, savings account, money-market funds, bonds, etc.) from being used as “reserves” in order to speculate.
(This was the Grand Scheme thought up by Sandy Weill and foisted by Robert Rubin and Larry Summers on a dimwitted Billy Clinton who signed the bill causing the demise of the Glass Steagall Act.)
Then, the US Government employs the US Postal Service to open branch-branches (as highly automated as possible) that offer checking/savings accounts, debit cards and mortgages that are credit-worthy (non SubPrime Loans) like Fannie Mae used to do.
The PO-banks would charge for the above services, earning a modest fee to cover costs and to generate modest profits (that go back to the Treasury untaxed).
The management Board would contain Civil Servants for 60% of the ownership and 40% representatives elected by the customer base.
No, this is not a Brilliant Idea of the Week. Most European countries employ a postal banking arm nowadays. But typically there are wholly owned by the state, with no customer ownership.
ALL BIG banks are and have been TECHNICALLY and LEGALLY INSOLVENT since TARP. The FED knows that’s TRUE. Any IDIOT with an MBA and half a brain can do the math.
That said – your government CANNOT EVER EVER be INSOLVENT PERIOD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Your money is safe because its insured by the US Treasury’s ability to print $$$$$$$$$.
That scares the SHIT out of the Money Lenders because they will be paid back with $$$$$$$$$ that are worth a fraction of what was loaned!!!!
All BullShit and nothin but BullShit coming out of Washington and Wall Street. Austerity is intended to prevent inflation and put all loans into foreclosure NOW!
The banks are putting the money into the giant homes and not recapitalizing to help people like us.
I too think addiction is a perfect metaphor.