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Gobble, gobble, gobble

November 19, 2009

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    November 20, 2009 6:57 am

    Timmy has launched a rebuke of defiance defending his feathery record to date. The long knives are out and Thanksgiving is next week. He is gobbling up a storm to save his wattled neck.

    Geithner defends record to Congress

    The Treasury secretary faced an array of questions and criticism during the hearing, which was ostensibly about plans to reform financial regulation. On that topic, Mr Geithner urged Congress to press ahead with legislation to reform the US regulatory system.

    He said reform would help to avoid a situation such as the government bail-out of insurance behemoth AIG in the future. He was criticised for his role in that rescue as then-president of the New York Federal Reserve.

    “The United States of America … came into this crisis without anything like the basic tools countries need to contain financial panics,” he said. “Coming into AIG, we had basically duct tape and string.”

    Mr Geithner also faced complaints that China was unfairly undervaluing its currency, the renminbi.

    He replied that he was confident Beijing would soon move to flexible rates. “They understand they need to do it, I think they want to do it, and I’m quite confident they will do it,” he said.

    He also defended the “extraordinary” actions taken to stabilise the economy and said the troubled asset relief programme was bringing good returns to US taxpayers.

    Duct tape, string and billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money, you ignorant slut.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 20, 2009 9:14 am

      Ha! Summers looks especially good in his Thanksgiving garb. The wattle suits him well.

      This kabuki between Congress and the Fed and Treasury is really quite entertaining as all sides try to deflect blame from themselves even as they are all to blame. Geithner didn’t have the proper tools?!?!? All he’d need to do to find a huge fucking tool is look in the mirror. And even though Congress stripped many of the regulations that allowed this clusterfuck in the first place, it has been pretty well documented that there was massive fraud on top of all the other ethically dubious stuff that was technically legal. So how hard would it have been to pick up the goddamned phone and call Justice or the SEC and tell them to get moving? Of course he didn’t because he didn’t want to see his pals indicted. TARP is bringing the taxpayer good returns? That is laughable. And it’s pretty clear now that it was Geithner’s call to use AIG as a backdoor bailout for GoldmanSachs and other big banks, both in the US and abroad. He wasn’t forced to make AIG (meaning the taxpayer, since AIG was broke) pay out 100% on those CDS bets. He could have at the very least said they were only getting pennies on the dollar as happens in just about any bankruptc. And in the case of those like Goldman who took out naked CDS where they didn’t even own the assets the CDS were meant to insure, he could have simply said all bets were off and the government wasn’t going to repay anyone’s gambling debts.

      Ignorant slut indeed.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    November 20, 2009 7:04 am

    The warning bells are ringing again from on high.

    Trichet warns on bank bonuses

    Jean-Claude Trichet, European Central Bank president, has issued his strongest warning yet that banks must keep pay and bonuses “contained” and prepare for the withdraw of emergency support action.

    Striking a noticeably stiffer tone than previously, Mr Trichet told a Frankfurt conference that voters would not accept taxpayers’ funds being deployed again on the same scale to rescue banks.

    snip

    The ECB president quoted Goethe – Frankfurt’s most famous son, in a warning about the need for self-restraint. “If I wanted to lavishly let myself go, I could well destroy myself and my environment”.

    Addressing Germany’s financial elite at the 19th Frankfurt European Banking Congress, Mr Trichet said: “Compensation and bonuses must remain contained. Otherwise, we would take risks that Goethe already described.”

    He added: “Profits earned should be used – as a priority – to build capital and reserves, rather than be paid out as dividends or excessive compensation,” he said.

    Obama warns on US public debt pile

    US President Barack Obama warned that the US economy could head into a “double-dip recession” unless urgent steps were taken to rein in mounting public debt.

    The US president’s remarks – in an interview with Fox News in Beijing on Wednesday, towards the end of his eight-day tour of Asia – marked his strongest language yet on the necessity of putting public finances back on a sound footing.

    “It is important though to recognise if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the US economy in a double-dip recession,” said Mr Obama.

    A 10.6 per cent plunge in housing starts in October – led by collapse in the apartment business – highlighted the dilemma facing him as he seeks to tackle the deficit without undermining a fragile economy.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 20, 2009 9:22 am

      So now Obama’s warning about the debt. Hmmm, maybe he should have thought of that before twisting arms to get the bank bailout passed and to secure more funds to escalate our illegal occupations in the Middle east.

      It sure seems like the Europeans are demanding far greater concessions from their banks who received bailouts. And they’re quoting Goethe. Meanwhile in our dumbed down nation, we’ll all be quoting Porky Pig soon.

      Ah buh dee ah buh dee ah buh dee That’s All Folks!

      • cometman permalink*
        November 20, 2009 10:25 am

        Here’s Mike Whitney on Obama wanting to cut the deficit in the middle of a terrible economy. He doesn’t like it.

        Obama is either getting some very bad advice or he’s simply determined to drive a stake into the flickering economy. All plans for deficit-pruning should be postponed until the economy steadies itself and the jobs picture improves. Raising taxes or slashing spending while the economy is still contracting is crazy. It shows that Obama is being influenced by the Gain through Pain school who think that mass liquidation and years of bitter retrenchment are the best medicine. They’re wrong. Sensible people look for solutions that don’t involve hair shirts, moving to underground bunkers or living off root-crops for the next millennia.

        • Stemella permalink*
          November 20, 2009 12:57 pm

          Things are getting worse more slowly. That does indeed about sum it up. The agony for many is being prolonged and drawn out with remediation and relief still far off over the horizon, while the banksters and elites get immediate gratification and bonuses. How lovely for them.

      • Stemella permalink*
        November 20, 2009 12:32 pm

        I laughed so hard at the “Ah buh dee ah buh dee ah buh dee That’s All Folks!” that my tomato soup came out my nose. I thought you needed to know that! haha

  3. Stemella permalink*
    November 20, 2009 7:19 am

    Another warning

    Société Générale tells clients how to prepare for potential ‘global collapse’

    “As yet, nobody can say with any certainty whether we have in fact escaped the prospect of a global economic collapse,” said the 68-page report, headed by asset chief Daniel Fermon. It is an exploration of the dangers, not a forecast.

    Under the French bank’s “Bear Case” scenario (the gloomiest of three possible outcomes), the dollar would slide further and global equities would retest the March lows. Property prices would tumble again. Oil would fall back to $50 in 2010.

    Governments have already shot their fiscal bolts. Even without fresh spending, public debt would explode within two years to 105pc of GDP in the UK, 125pc in the US and the eurozone, and 270pc in Japan. Worldwide state debt would reach $45 trillion, up two-and-a-half times in a decade.

    and the preparation advice?

    SocGen advises bears to sell the dollar and to “short” cyclical equities such as technology, auto, and travel to avoid being caught in the “inherent deflationary spiral”. Emerging markets would not be spared. Paradoxically, they are more leveraged to the US growth than Wall Street itself. Farm commodities would hold up well, led by sugar.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 20, 2009 9:25 am

      The preparation advice sounds a lot like telling rats to bail out of a sinking ship. Might help the rats, but the rest of us are screwed.

      • Stemella permalink*
        November 20, 2009 12:34 pm

        Exactly. The masses of people who have no spare capital to put in safe harbors are at the mercy of this fucked up system of piracy run by key stone kop kleptos.

  4. Stemella permalink*
    November 20, 2009 7:27 am

    Interesing little graphic video

    Visualizing Empires Decline

  5. cometman permalink*
    November 20, 2009 10:07 am

    here’s something a little different. Check out this review of a new classical album dedicated to the songs of the castrati –200,000 Testicles Offered Up to the Gods of Song.

    Evidently the producers of the album couldn’t find any eunuchs handy and nobody was willing to have the family jewels lopped off so the album, aptly named Sacrificium, is sung by a woman, Cecelia Bartoli. Here she is talking about the album.

    Here she is performing what the review described as the showstopper.

    • Stemella permalink*
      November 20, 2009 12:42 pm

      She has a stunning voice. I read a novel about the Castrati once. I think it was by the vamp Queen, Anne Rice. There is also a pretty good movie I saw years back called Farinelli about a Castrato.

  6. cometman permalink*
    November 20, 2009 1:14 pm

    Glenn Greewald has an excellent column about the Khalid Sheik Mohammed trial and how the Obama administration has fucked up its own justification for holding the trial in NYC.

    Can anyone reconcile Obama’s homage to “our legal traditions” and his professed faith in jury trials in the New York federal courts with the reality of what his administration is doing: i.e., denying trials to a large number of detainees, either by putting them before military commissions or simply indefinitely imprisoning them without any process at all?

    Seems pretty obvious that this is a show trial meant to make it look like the US still adheres to the rule of law. Especially when perhaps the most visible man in the world in an attempt to look tough on terror has already biased the trial by opening his yap about the verdict before the trial even starts.

    In one of a series of TV interviews during his trip to Asia, Mr. Obama said those offended by the legal privileges given to Mohammed by virtue of getting a civilian trial rather than a military tribunal won’t find it “offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.”

    Mr. Obama quickly added that he did not mean to suggest he was prejudging the outcome of Mohammed’s trial. “I’m not going to be in that courtroom,” he said. “That’s the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury.”

    He isn’t prejudging?!?!?!?!? Pretty sure that’s exactly what he just did. For someone who is supposedly so damn smart, he sure as hell isn’t showing it much.

  7. cometman permalink*
    November 20, 2009 1:29 pm

    Well, maybe these fattened Toms (or Tims or Bens) will get the axe after all. Ron Paul and Alan Grayson’s amendment to audit the Fed passed the House Finance Committee yesterday.

    In an unprecedented defeat for the Federal Reserve, an amendment to audit the multi-trillion dollar institution was approved by the House Finance Committee with an overwhelming and bipartisan 43-26 vote on Thursday afternoon despite harried last-minute lobbying from top Fed officials and the surprise opposition of Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who had previously been a supporter.

    The measure, cosponsored by Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), authorizes the Government Accountability Office to conduct a wide-ranging audit of the Fed’s opaque deals with foreign central banks and major U.S. financial institutions. The Fed has never had a real audit in its history and little is known of what it does with the trillions of dollars at its disposal.

    The amendment expressly blocks Congress from interfering with the independence of monetary policy decision-making, but opponents of the measure said that the political pressure would inevitably follow.

    I have to ask, was Frank’s opposition really a surprise? After he led the charge to give away all this money in the first place with no strings attached? Shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone paying attention. I’m sure Frank will do everything possible to make sure this doesn’t make it through the full House.

    • Stemella permalink*
      November 20, 2009 2:56 pm

      Frank is completely compromised. I too will be amazed if that bill gets any further. Good for Grayson and Paul for getting it through the first hurdle. The pressure on Badboy Ben sure can’t hurt.

  8. cometman permalink*
    November 20, 2009 1:56 pm

    I’m sure you saw this already and as meaningless as it is, for the record of the empire’s decline I guess we ought to note that Lloyd Blankfein apologized for GoldmanSachs being such colossal pricks.

    Here’s Jon Stewart’s take on it from last night. The Goldman part is about 2:30 in.

  9. cometman permalink*
    November 20, 2009 4:28 pm

    Nice little post from Joe Bageant discussing why neither party will ever fix the big problems we face because they are too wedded to “free market” ideology and can’t admit that it’s the system itself which has caused so many problems. I really liked this bit at the end:

    Some guy once said, “You don’t get rich doing each other’s laundry.” I’m now sitting in a village in Mexico watching folks do just that. No, they don’t get rich and never expect to. But at least the laundry gets done.

    Amen brother.

    • Stemella permalink*
      November 21, 2009 9:34 am

      Joe is a wise man

      I never expect to see politicians tell the people: “Quit buying. Quit using all that electrical stuff. Quit traveling all over the world. Quit driving. Just eat, be happy you are breathing and work to grow your mind and soul and let’s see if we can come to understand this ruined world around us and how to heal it — or at least do less damage. Let us change our entire idea about what constitutes governance, and work and happiness.”

      That’s what it will take.

      and from a prior post

      But one thing I know is that while America may be a hopeless cause, the world is not. I am sustained every day by its joy and mystery.

      We can’t expect the politicians and big business to do the right thing. They most likely won’t. But we can choose to live small and try to do the right things ourselves, even if only very few take notice. Our hearts and the hearts and minds of those we touch will take notice. And that is something. That and the joy and mystery, that is both sustaining and sustainable.

  10. Stemella permalink*
    November 22, 2009 9:15 am

    Horror stories

    I’ve come across these stories and almost hesitate to share them, because they are so terrible, so depressing. These are the dark and tragic sides of empires dying, the dark sides of humanity in states of desperation.


    ‘Fat for cosmetics’ murder suspects arrested in Peru

    Four people have been arrested in Peru on suspicion of killing dozens of people in order to sell their fat and tissue for cosmetic uses in Europe.

    The gang allegedly targeted people on remote roads, luring them with fake job offers before killing them and extracting their fat.

    The liquidised product fetched $15,000 (£9,000) a litre and police suspect it was sold on to companies in Europe.

    Unburied bodies tell the tale of Detroit — a city in despair

    Some have lain here for years, but in recent months the number of unclaimed bodies has reached a record high. For in this city that once symbolised the American Dream many cannot even afford to bury their dead.

    “I have not seen this many unclaimed bodies in 13 years on the job,” said Albert Samuels, chief investigator at the mortuary. “It started happening when the economy went south last year. I have never seen this many people struggling to give people their last resting place.”

    Unburied bodies piling up in the city mortuary — it reached 70 earlier this year — is the latest and perhaps most appalling indignity to be heaped on the people of Detroit. The motor city that once boasted the highest median income and home ownership rate in the US is today in the midst of a long and agonising death spiral.

    Detroit: the Heart of the American Nightmare

    perhaps a condition soon to spread everywhere

    • cometman permalink*
      November 23, 2009 6:28 am

      That first one is not a good one to read while eating breakfast. Yuk.

      Both are very sad and are ‘canary in a coalmine’ type of stories. Will anybody heed the warnings?

  11. Stemella permalink*
    November 22, 2009 12:23 pm

    Excellent discussion from last year on Economics, Power, Neo-Liberalism, Authoritarian Capitalism and life, the universe and everything from Naomi Klein, Joseph Stigliz and Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian Neo-Lib, here. It is a little more than an hour long.

  12. Stemella permalink*
    November 22, 2009 2:55 pm

    These caveats don’t begin to mitigate the epic disaster of the Obama sclerosis. This guy isn’t just a deer caught in headlights, he’s Bambi on the 50 yard-line, under the klieg lights of a national stadium. He’s Mr. Bill. No, strike that. He’s Mr. Bill’s nerdy little nephew, Kirby Herbert Pollywog Bill. He’s a beetle walking across a school yard, where a hundred bored sixth-graders are standing and staring at their feet during an outdoor assembly. He’s a tenth inning hanging tired arm curve ball with an angry Babe Ruth at the plate. He’s Neville Chamberlain and Spongebob SquarePants’ love-child. Suffering from an anemic blood disorder. Republicans just live for this sort of Democrat – which is to say, nowadays, practically every Democrat. They eat them for breakfast. And, as much as I loathe Republicans – rather like I feel about, say, botulism – I mostly don’t blame them.

    Guess who?

    • cometman permalink*
      November 23, 2009 6:34 am

      Wow, he’s really on a rhetorical roll lately. Did a search for the article he mentions in the conclusion:

      ….you can file this puppy under “Y”, for “You Know The Show Is Over When…”

      “Money Starts to Trickle North as Mexicans Help Out Relatives”

      Here it is. Another of those ‘canary in a coalmine’ stories.

      Unemployment has hit migrant communities in the United States so hard that a startling new phenomenon has been detected: instead of receiving remittances from relatives in the richest country on earth, some down-and-out Mexican families are scraping together what they can to support their unemployed loved ones in the United States.

      “We send something whenever we have a little extra, at least enough so he can eat,” said Mr. Salcedo, who is from a small village here in the rural state of Oaxaca and works odd jobs to support his wife, his two younger sons and, now, his jobless eldest boy in California.

      He is not alone.

  13. Stemella permalink*
    November 23, 2009 7:41 am

    In the careful what you wish for department relating to the theme of this post,

    Dimon seen as successor to Geithner

    Several U.S. policy makers consider JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon as a potential successor to U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the New York Post said, citing sources.

    Dimon “would love to serve his country,” the paper quoted people familiar with his thinking as saying.

    Ugh.

    • cometman permalink*
      November 23, 2009 12:49 pm

      I’ve seen this guy mentioned in a few articles lately, none of which make me want to see him appointed to anything.

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