MF Global bankruptcy-On the Edge with Max Keiser

The Icelandic Example? – Michael Hudson on GRTV

Vision: Everyday Brits Are in Revolt Against Wealthy Tax Cheats — Can We Do That Here?

by Johann Hari, AlterNet

Imagine a parallel universe where the Great Crash of 2008 was followed by a Tea Party of a very different kind. Enraged citizens gather in every city, week after week—to demand the government finally regulate the behavior of corporations and the superrich, and force them to start paying taxes. The protesters shut down the shops and offices of the companies that have most aggressively ripped off the country. The swelling movement is made up of everyone from teenagers to pensioners. They surround branches of the banks that caused this crash and force them to close, with banners saying, You Caused This Crisis. Now YOU Pay.

As people see their fellow citizens acting in self-defense, these tax-the-rich protests spread to even the most conservative parts of the country. It becomes the most-discussed subject on Twitter. Even right-wing media outlets, sensing a startling effect on the public mood, begin to praise the uprising, and dig up damning facts on the tax dodgers.

Instead of the fake populism of the Tea Party, there is a movement based on real populism. It shows that there is an alternative to making the poor and the middle class pay for a crisis caused by the rich. It shifts the national conversation. Instead of letting the government cut our services and increase our taxes, the people demand that it cut the endless and lavish aid for the rich and make them pay the massive sums they dodge in taxes.

This may sound like a fantasy—but it has all happened. The name of this parallel universe is Britain. As recently as this past fall, people here were asking the same questions liberal Americans have been glumly contemplating: Why is everyone being so passive? Why are we letting ourselves be ripped off? Why are people staying in their homes watching their flat-screens while our politicians strip away services so they can fatten the superrich even more?

[read the rest, here]

Obama Pulls a Clinton

by Robert Sheer, Truthdig

Here we go again. When Bill Clinton suffered an electoral reversal after his first two years in office, he abruptly embraced the corporate money guys who had financed his congressional opposition in an effort to purchase a second term. On Tuesday in his Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece, Barack Obama veered sharply down that same course, trumpeting his executive order “ … to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. …”

He employed the same “creating a 21st-century regulatory system” rationalization used by Clinton when he signed off on the sweeping deregulation legislation that unleashed the Wall Street greed that ended up being the biggest job-killer since the Great Depression. “Over the (past) seven years, we have tried to modernize the economy,” Clinton enthused as he signed the Financial Services Modernization Act that repealed key New Deal legislation, adding, “And today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority.” Modernizing was the propaganda constant, as in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act that Clinton signed, thus shielding financial derivatives from any government regulation.

[read the rest, here]

Journalism of Appeasement. Corruption, Smoke and Mirrors

(A must read)

by David DeGraw, Global Research

Here’s a brief summation of my recent reporting:

If we continue to let our politicians and wealthy members of society live in comfort, free from the consequences of their actions, we are complicit in our own demise.

Our country is so overrun with corruption, we cannot remain passive and expect things to get any better.

The economy is propped up by smoke and mirrors and will inevitably collapse. Without immediately breaking up the banks and holding the thieves accountable, we will continue on our downward spiral with increasingly severe and devastating consequences.

These are extremely unpleasant truths that we are now forced to confront. We have to act now. If you are not calling for revolution or organizing, you are either unaware of what’s happening around you, horribly naïve or a fascist sympathizer.

In response to statements like those above, I’ve been exchanging emails with colleagues (journalists and news editors) who have become “uncomfortable” with my reporting style and been saying some variation of the following: “You’re being too radical. This is too extreme for us to publish.”

While I appreciate their opinions, I want to make something 100% clear. I am fully aware that these words are harsh, and may turn off some people. However, in extreme times, telling the truth will make you sound extreme. Ultimately, I don’t mind if you think I sound “too extreme,” I don’t care if I make people “uncomfortable,” or if, in your opinion, I’ve become “too radical.” Try telling that to the 52 million Americans who are now living in poverty. Tell that to the millions of American families who have lost their homes and jobs. Tell that to the 59 million people who can’t afford health insurance. Tell that to the overwhelming majority of the population who are stressed out, living paycheck to paycheck, buried in debt they will never get out of and desperately struggling to make ends meet.

Try telling that to all the people who have emailed me explaining their dire situations due to this economic crisis. Tell that to all the people I personally know who have taken major pay cuts.

I will not participate in the journalism of appeasement.

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The Secret of Oz – English

Updated version

To further support the hypothesis that the Wizard of Oz was about the influence of the English central banking system on America, take a look at the original cover. What artistic element of this does not fit with the rest?

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Fed report lifts lid on Great Bank Heist of 2008-2009

by Barry Grey, WSWS

The US Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday released documents on emergency measures it took between 2007 and 2010, using taxpayer funds, to bail out major financial firms in the US and around the world. The sums involved are staggering.

Fed bailout loans outstanding reached a high of $3.3 trillion, but the cumulative amount of cash funneled by the US central bank to banks, hedge funds and major industrial corporations reached the tens of trillions of dollars.

Every major Wall Street bank was on the Fed dole, as were giant companies including General Electric and Verizon Communications. The Fed ran nearly a dozen separate bailout programs which together eclipsed by far the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program―the program that handed over billions in public funds to the banks in 2008 and 2009. In comparison to the amounts funneled by the Fed to US financial institutions, the Obama administration’s $787 billion stimulus package was a drop in the bucket.

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Obama on “60 Minutes”: A servant of big business

by Patrick Martin, WSWS

US President Barack Obama was interviewed for nearly half an hour on the CBS News program “60 Minutes,” broadcast Sunday night. The discussion with correspondent Steve Kroft was conducted on Thursday, November 4, and was the only extended public interview with Obama since the rout of the Democrats in last Tuesday’s congressional election.

These circumstances make the content of the discussion that much more remarkable. Obama has given no accounting of the debacle for the Democrats. He has not explained how his administration managed to restore the political standing of an ultra-right Republican Party that was totally discredited only two years ago. Nor has he warned his former supporters of the dangers to jobs, living standards and democratic rights from a newly empowered right-wing majority in the House of Representatives.

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Dodd Bill Would Allow Fed To Hide Its Spending

by Ryan Grim, The Financial Fix

The Wall Street reform bill headed for a test vote on the Senate floor Monday night will allow the Federal Reserve to continue to pump trillions of dollars into major banks largely in secrecy, the co-author of House language that would open the central bank to an audit charged in a memo to the Senate.

“The Senate has a provision in its reform bill that purports to audit the Fed. But, it really doesn’t do anything of the sort. I’m going to run down the details for you, and reprint the legislative language so you can read it yourself,” writes Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.).

It would not allow the GAO to look into the Fed’s massive purchase of toxic assets, its hundreds of billions in foreign currency swaps with other central banks or its open market operations, among other restrictions.

[read the rest, here]

and as a bonus… I found this at Firedoglake… another lefty blog…. written by masaccio… does it say that ONLY the republicans are unhappy with this “banking reform” bill?… uh, you be the judge…

The common sense reforms the President supports are meaningless in the face of the depredations of Wall Street which have destroyed the lives and fortunes of millions of their fellow citizens.

1. A liquidation authority for institutions of a certain size, which will shut them down with the “… least amount of collateral damage to innocent people and businesses”. I’m sure you and your grandkids can afford that.

2. “Some limits” on the size of banks and the kinds of risks they can take, set by regulators who are appointed by the same people who did nothing last time.

3. Transparency in derivatives. These apply only to “standard” derivatives, an undefined term, to be defined by regulators appointed by the same people who watched Wall Street set fire to your money.

4. Consumer protection. The President thinks banks want to compete offering better products rather than selling confusing and expensive products. OK, that’s funny.

5. Shareholder “say on pay”, and more power to act in corporate elections if the SEC allows it. Mutual funds own most of the stock of these giants, and they have their hands in your pockets just like Wall Street does.

I’m having trouble believing my eyes. This pathetic set of reforms is the change we get to deal with the worst financial disaster in decades? The economy was crushed by an industry which functions on fraud, cheating consumers, wasting money on obviously fraudulent loans, paying itself gigantic bonuses, setting up transactions to screw their customers, raising interest and fees to the sky at the expense of a damaged group of workers, and this is what we get?

This is pathetic. No wonder the Republicans are willing to negotiate from this ludicrous starting point.

Obama reassures Wall Street on bank regulation bill

by Barry Grey, WSWS

President Barack Obama went to lower Manhattan Thursday to deliver a message to Wall Street: Your profits and bonuses will not be disturbed by the regulatory overhaul making its way through Congress.

In a deferential speech pitched to top bankers in the Cooper Union audience, Obama urged what he called the “titans of industry” to call off their lobbyists and “join us” in passing his so-called reform. The subtext was that the White House and congressional Democrats had already removed most of the provisions to which the bankers objected, and were prepared to go even further in accommodating them.

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Flashback:THE Notorious AIG

by Scott Creighton

The United States mandates that contractors working overseas in hostile areas must have a kind of disability insurance, which they pay for out of their checks. AIG, the company that is connected with yet another Washington insider firm Goldman Sachs, is the insurance company that handles the policies. AIG has also been the recipient of over $180 billion dollars in government bailouts since 2008. This report was filed by Brian Ross back in April of 2009. As the “New Dems” in congress (read as “business friendly fake democrats”) manuever behind the scenes to get the magical 216 votes needed to pass the corporate friendly Senate version of the Insurance Industry Bailout Plan, I thought it would be good to check out another reporters take on just how much “good” the insurance industry has been doing for us these days. The dems are about to pass a $980 billion dollar bill which will do nothing more than empower these mega-corporations even more than they already are. “Something is better than nothing”? You tell me.

This bill is the solidification of a class-based healthcare program for America.

The insurance companies monopoly exemptions will remain, they will receive billions in additional money, and people with company insurance policies from their place of business will be locked into them with ever decreasing benefits at an ever increasing cost.

… and 14-20+ million Americans will STILL be without coverage. And the pre-existing condition protections will NOT start till 2014 (unless you happen to be a child). With me so far?

Wanna read the 154 pages of “CHANGES” they are submitting as an add-on the horrible Senate version of the “Insurance Industry Bailout Bill”? Here it is.

(H/T ADS)

Goldman Sucks

Secret AIG Document Shows Goldman Sachs Minted Most Toxic CDOs

by Richard Teitelbaum, Bloomberg

When a congressional panel convened a hearing on the government rescue of American International Group Inc. in January, the public scolding of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner got the most attention.

Lawmakers said the former head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank had presided over a backdoor bailout of Wall Street firms and a coverup. Geithner countered that he had acted properly to avert the collapse of the financial system.

A potentially more important development slipped by with less notice, Bloomberg Markets reports in its April issue. Representative Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, placed into the hearing record a five-page document itemizing the mortgage securities on which banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA had bought $62.1 billion in credit-default swaps from AIG.

These were the deals that pushed the insurer to the brink of insolvency — and were eventually paid in full at taxpayer expense. The New York Fed, which secretly engineered the bailout, prevented the full publication of the document for more than a year, even when AIG wanted it released.

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Exposed: Bernanke’s “Skimming Operation”

(So what the banks did in a sense was, they carefully removed restrictions on housing loans and created what the industry called “liar loans”, loans that they knew would default when they were making them. They got their co-conspirator at the credit rating agencies to slap “AAA” ratings on them.  They got their money up front and then packaged them up and sold them as bundles, making even more money on the toxic assets that only they knew were toxic. They sold them to various 401 ks, state and local governments, other nations. Then, as they started to default and the massive bubble began to burst, they rushed to congress, with the same people who helped create this scam, namely Bernanke and Paulson and Geithner, to blackmail congress into pumping nearly a trillion dollars of liquidity into their banks so they could then buy up all the other institutions that they had sold the bad debts to. They got paid on the front end, in the middle, and on the back end.)

by Mike Whitney, Information Clearing House

The reappointment of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke means that the opportunity for change has passed and the reform movement is dead. It means that and that derivatives trading, off-balance sheet operations, securitization, dark pools and high frequency trading will go on much as they have before. It means that the public will continue to be gouged so that a handful of Wall Street sharpies can rake in obscene profits using complex “financial innovations” and over-leveraged debt instruments. It means that the entire system will continue to be put at risk to protect the interests of investment banks and hedge funds. It means that the subsidies, the preferential treatment, and the bailouts will continue to fuel populist rage and exacerbate deepening divisions in society. It means that the status quo has been preserved and that it’s “business as usual”.

  No reform movement will succeed as long as Bernanke is at the Fed.  He’s an agent of the big banks and a Wall Street loyalist. He’s also the author of “Too Big To Fail”, the controversial theory which provides unlimited state support for financial institutions that are deemed too large or interconnected to fail. TBTF means that capitalism’s vital market-clearing function can avoided if one is rich or powerful enough. Bernanke repealed capitalism to save his friends.

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The Crisis Is Not Over

by Paul Craig Roberts, Information Clearing House

Readers ask if the financial crisis is over, if the recovery is for real and, if not, what are Americans’ prospects. The short answer is that the financial crisis is not over, the recovery is not real, and the U.S. faces a far worse crisis than the financial one. Here is the situation as I understand it:

The global crisis is understood as a banking crisis brought on by the mindless deregulation of the U.S. financial arena. Investment banks leveraged assets to highly irresponsible levels, issued questionable financial instruments with fraudulent investment grade ratings, and issued the instruments through direct sales to customers rather than through markets.

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