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striking underground

June 10, 2009

The labor movement may be in a state of inertia and decay here in the States, but across the pond in London town, the Tube workers are making their demands known today, disrupting travel and causing a general ruckus.

London Underground Workers Strike, Shutting Subway

Underground workers began a 48-hour strike in a dispute over job security and pay, halting trains that carry as many as 3 million people a day and causing traffic delays across the capital.

Members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers including drivers walked off their jobs at 6:59 p.m. local time yesterday. While it’s the biggest strike since September 2007, the Transport for London agency said there was some service on half of the railway’s lines.

And here is where the wicket might get sticky.

The strike may disrupt England’s soccer match with Andorra in London today. The country’s Football Association has limited the number of people who can attend Wembley stadium for the national team’s match to 70,000 because of the strike. TfL said it expects severe congestion in the area of northwest London where the stadium is located.

For following strike related news and events, the Guardian has Live coverage.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    June 10, 2009 5:57 am

    Signs of things to come?

    Russia May Swap U.S. Treasuries for IMF Debt, Central Bank Says

    Russia’s central bank may switch some of its reserves from U.S. Treasuries to International Monetary Fund bonds, the bank’s first deputy chairman, Alexei Ulyukayev, said in Moscow today. His comments were confirmed by a bank official who declined to be named, citing bank policy.

    Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said last month that Russia planned to buy $10 billion of IMF bonds using money from its foreign reserves.

    It looks like confidence in the US dollar is tanking as the Treasuries bubble is deflating.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    June 10, 2009 6:03 am

    Oakland, CA considers bankruptcy

    This does not bode well for California on the whole.

    Even though city officials would prefer to avoid a public conversation, behind closed doors the Oakland City Council has discussed filing for bankruptcy protection in the midst of a $100 million budget deficit.

    “We have asked the (bankruptcy) question because we wanted to know the impact,” said District 5 council member Ignacio De La Fuente. “In closed session, the question has been asked, and an answer was given.” He would not elaborate.

    “It’s a possibility,” he acknowledged. “Things are that bad.”

    • cometman permalink*
      June 10, 2009 7:14 am

      Jon Stewart had a funny segment on the California budget crisis last night here.

  3. Stemella permalink*
    June 10, 2009 6:28 am

    Joseph Stiglitz has a new article out titled, America’s socialism for the rich: Corporate welfarism

    With all the talk of “green shoots” of economic recovery, America’s banks are pushing back on efforts to regulate them. While politicians talk about their commitment to regulatory reform to prevent a recurrence of the crisis, this is one area where the devil really is in the details – and the banks will muster what muscle they have left to ensure that they have ample room to continue as they have in the past.

    The old system worked well for the banks (if not for their shareholders), so why should they embrace change? Indeed, the efforts to rescue them devoted so little thought to the kind of post-crisis financial system we want that we will end up with a banking system that is less competitive, with the large banks that were too big too fail even larger.

    He then goes on to critique Obama’s poor choices in handling the bank crisis.

    The Obama administration has, however, introduced a new concept: “too big to be financially restructured”. The administration argues that all hell would break loose if we tried to play by the usual rules with these big banks. Markets would panic. So, not only can’t we touch the bondholders, we can’t even touch the shareholders – even if most of the shares’ existing value merely reflects a bet on a government bailout.

    I think this judgment is wrong. I think the Obama administration has succumbed to political pressure and scare-mongering by the big banks. As a result, the administration has confused bailing out the bankers and their shareholders with bailing out the banks.

    Restructuring gives banks a chance for a new start: new potential investors (whether holders of equity or debt instruments) will have more confidence, other banks will be more willing to lend to them, and they will be more willing to lend to others. The bondholders will gain from an orderly restructuring, and if the value of the assets is truly greater than the market (and outside analysts) believe, they will eventually reap the gains.

    But what is clear is that the Obama strategy’s current and future costs are very high – and so far, it has not achieved its limited objective of restarting lending. The taxpayer has had to pony up billions, and has provided billions more in guarantees – bills that are likely to come due in the future.

    Rewriting the rules of the market economy – in a way that has benefited those that have caused so much pain to the entire global economy – is worse than financially costly. Most Americans view it as grossly unjust, especially after they saw the banks divert the billions intended to enable them to revive lending to payments of outsized bonuses and dividends. Tearing up the social contract is something that should not be done lightly.

    But this new form of ersatz capitalism, in which losses are socialized and profits privatized, is doomed to failure. Incentives are distorted. There is no market discipline. The too-big-to-be-restructured banks know that they can gamble with impunity – and, with the Federal Reserve making funds available at near-zero interest rates, there are ample funds to do so.

    The solution? Same as he has said from the beginning. Break up the zombies. Regulate them and deflate their death grip power lock on the Government.

    In otherwords, cut off the tentacles of fascism.

    I like Stiglitz. I’d like to see him in a Thunderdome of wits with Canetoad Summers.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 10, 2009 7:18 am

      Jon Stewart also had a nice interview with Peter Schiff last night. Schiff was one who predicted this meltdown and he isn’t happy with the way Obama is handling it either. Doesn’t like the fact that people like the Canetoad are still involved either.

      • Stemella permalink*
        June 10, 2009 9:04 am

        That was great! “They want everyone drunk to make it easier to get re-elected” Yep, yep, that ’bout sums it up. He definitely didn’t mince words about Quobama and his pedal to the medal to the cliff approach. Interesting too that he might run against Dodd for CT Senate.

        Thanks for sharing that one, I’d missed it.

        • cometman permalink*
          June 10, 2009 11:36 am

          Yeah Schiff seemed pretty ticked off by the Powers That Be by the end of the interview. He was almost snarling when talking about Dodd. Nice to see a little indignation.

  4. cometman permalink*
    June 10, 2009 7:35 am

    The government is claiming that they turned a profit when banks were “allowed” to pay back TARP funds. This McClatchy article had more detail than a couple others I saw. Not sure what to make of that yet. The chart at the link shows that several other banks still haven’t repayed the funds. When the bailout started there were rumors that even banks who didn’t really need the money were being asked to take it anyway. So since we have never been able to see how bad off each of the banks really is, you have to wonder whether this isn’t just part of the shell game to restore confidence without really fixing anything. We’ll have to see what Zero Hedge and others have to say about this, but based on past experience I’m thinking that this news isn’t nearly as good as we’re being led to believe.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 10, 2009 8:37 am

      Exactly, Hank Paulson coerced several banks to take TARPage when they didn’t require it, in order to obscure those who really did need it to prevent major runs on those zombies – eg BoA, Shitty. These banks are paying back the Tarp because they don’t want the govt telling them how to give themselves bonuses and ridulous salaries and you know, regulations and stuff. Meanwhile, all these guys still have all those toxic assets sitting there whisked under their collective rugs.

      Kabuki Act 2. I still say the finale will be fucked up royally for all the rest of us.

  5. cometman permalink*
    June 10, 2009 11:47 am

    This can’t be good. The new CEO of GM doesn’t know the difference between his ass and an exhaust pipe. From Bloomberg:

    Edward E. Whitacre Jr. built AT&T Inc. into the biggest U.S. provider of telephone service over a 43-year-career. By his own admission, he becomes chairman of General Motors Corp. knowing nothing about the auto industry.

    The 6-foot-4-inch Texan nicknamed “Big Ed” said steering the nation’s largest automaker after bankruptcy is “a public service.” People who know him say he can meet GM’s need for the type of transformation he orchestrated at Dallas-based AT&T.

    “I don’t know anything about cars,” Whitacre, 67, said yesterday in an interview after his appointment. “A business is a business, and I think I can learn about cars. I’m not that old, and I think the business principles are the same.”

    Several years ago I was a fly on the wall at a meeting between a high ranking exec (maybe the CEO) of Laura Ashley women’s clothes and a high ranking department store exec. The Laura Ashley guy was pitching his line to the department store guy claiming that although he was new at his current job he had been an exec at Dow chemical for years so he knew what he was doing. It made me chuckle at the time but now seeing the damage these know-nothings have done it isn’t so funny anymore.

    It’s as if once you are accepted by the oligarchs, that is job qualification enough for anything. You can be baseball commissioner, university president, a senator, a CEO, you name it. Doesn’t matter what you know, just who. Some day people may finally realize that this affirmative action for middle aged white men with bank accounts of a certain size hasn’t served us well over the long run.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 10, 2009 12:30 pm

      Not only is it lame to put a Telecom guy in charge of an Automanufacturer, but it stinks of payback for the FISA wiretapping debacle.

      That aspect is covered here: Obama rewards AT&T warrantless surveillance CEO Ed Whitacre with chairmanship of GM

      Thank gawd — or the 11 dimensional chess player — that FISA [cough] reform gave the telcos retroactive immunity! Because otherwise Ed Whitacre, 17-year AT&T Chairman and CEO, would be in jail — since FISA violations were felonies, back when we had the rule of law — instead of being tapped to run GM! Online WSJ:

      The 67-year-old Mr. Whitacre is known as a straight-talking, no-nonsense executive with a track record of cutting big deals and working closely with the U.S. government [in small matters like shredding the Fourth Amendment], skills that could prove critical for GM as it orchestrates a massive restructuring under close scrutiny [BWA-HA-HA-HA!] of the U.S. Treasury.

      Indeed. And “working closely with the U.S. government” very profitably. Last I checked, that illegal surveillance made AT&T what? $750 a pop? Not much per unit, but those millions add up!

      Of course, Whitacre was real strong on net neutrality, too. Not. So I bet the netroots are up in arms about this one, right? Not.

      But let’s look on the bright side! He’s an old white dude who donates Republican!

      UPDATE Oddly, or not, newly minted Democrat Arlen Spector — the kind of rat who boards a sinking ship — doesn’t mention retroactive immunity at all in his new article on limiting executive power in the New York Review of Books. Editorial standards over there have fallen, haven’t they? I can’t imagine why.


      • cometman permalink*
        June 10, 2009 12:48 pm

        Grrrr indeed. I hadn’t even thought of the connection to illegal wiretapping with AT&T, but now that you mention it it sure does sound like tit-for-tattling (on all of us).

        That line about Spector was great.

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