Fed Delays Volcker Rule, Giving Wall Street Another Holiday Gift

by Zach Carter, Huffington Post

Christmas came early for Wall Street this year. The Federal Reserve on Thursday granted banks an extra year to comply with a key provision of the Volcker Rule, a move that gives financial lobbyists more time to kill the new regulation before it goes into effect.

The Volcker Rule is a key element of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law that bans banks from engaging in proprietary trading — speculative deals that are designed only to benefit the bank itself, rather than its clients. Thursday’s move by the Fed gives banks an additional year to unwind investments in private equity firms, hedge funds and specialty securities projects. The central bank also said it plans to extend the deadline by another 12 months next year, which would give Wall Street a two-year reprieve through the 2016 presidential election.

The Fed’s delay comes less than a week after Congress granted Wall Street a reprieve from another reform that had been mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The measure, known as the swaps push-out rule had eliminated federal subsidies for trading in risky derivatives — the complex contracts at the heart of the 2008 banking meltdown. Bank watchdogs say the Volcker Rule delay adds insult to injury.

[read more here]

Brussels protests: Anti-austerity demonstrations end in violent clashes with police

by Kashmira Gander, from the Independent

Violent clashes marred trade union-led demonstration in the Belgian capital of Brussels today, where some 100,000 workers gathered to protest against the government’s free-market reforms and austerity measures.

For around two hours, the unexpectedly large crowd rallied peacefully in the main streets of central Brussels, against measures they claim are damaging the welfare state.

The trade unions object to government policies that promise to raise the pension age from 65 to 67, freeze the automatic link between wages and inflation, and cut public services in a way that would affect the entire population.

Violence later broke out, with police firing tear gas and using water canon against the crowd to break up incidents. No casualties were immediately reported.

Philippe Dubois, a protester who came from the industrial rust belt of Liege, told reporters:”They are not looking for money where it is, I mean people with a lot of money.”

The event launched a month-long campaign by trade unions against the pro-business governing coalition, which will culminate in a nationwide strike on 15 December.

[read more here]

French President Hollande’s mid-term TV appearance: No shift in right-wing policies

by Alex Lantier, WSWS

French president François Hollande made a 90-minute appearance on TF1 television last night on a special show titled “Live with the French People,” billed as a last-ditch attempt to halt the collapse of his presidency, which threatens to bring down Hollande’s Socialist Party (PS) with him.

The appearance came at precisely the middle of Hollande’s five-year term, with 5 million people on unemployment rolls in France and economic forecasts continuing to worsen, and Hollande’s own approval ratings collapsing to 12 percent. His jobs policy has only a 3 percent approval rating. This makes Hollande far and away France’s most unpopular president since General Charles de Gaulle created the office in 1958.

Nonetheless, Hollande signalled that there will be no change of course from his pro-business, pro-war agenda. Pressed by presenters to admit to errors that he could use to claim that he was identifying his mistakes and learning from them, Hollande refused, saying only that he wished that unemployment were not so high.

Instead, he unabashedly laid out his right-wing views. He hailed businesses as the engines of economic growth, praised the social cuts of Germany’s former social-democratic chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his own Responsibility Pact, with its €50 billion of social cuts, and pledged to continue France’s wars in Africa

[read more here]

Five years of Obama’s “recovery”

by Patrick Martin, WSWS

This week marks five years since the New York Stock Exchange hit its low point at the bottom of the financial crash that erupted with the collapse of Lehman Brothers investment bank. On March 6, 2009, Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its post-collapse low of 6,443. Three days later, on March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 hit its post-collapse low of 676.

Yesterday, at the close of stock trading for the week, the Dow Jones average closed at 16,452, up a colossal 10,000 points over five years, or 154 percent. The S&P 500 stood at 1,878, rising even faster than the Dow, gaining 170 percent over five years.

These are only the most striking of a barrage of numbers reported in recent weeks, demonstrating that for the US financial aristocracy, the Crash of 2008 has been used to engineer a historic redistribution of wealth.

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A bankers’ plan for Detroit

from the WSWS

The proposal submitted late last week by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to the federal court overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy is a blueprint for a devastating attack on the working class of the city. The “plan of adjustment” would be better termed the “plan of destruction,” targeting pensions, health care and core public assets, including the world-renowned Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

Orr’s plan confirms the central premise of the Workers Inquiry into the Bankruptcy of Detroit held by the Socialist Equality Party on February 15: A crime is being perpetrated, one that is the product of a political conspiracy involving both big business parties and all the institutions of the state.

A New York Times article over the weekend compared, approvingly, what is taking place in Detroit to the restructuring of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Indeed, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina was used as an opportunity to depopulate sections of the city and go after basic social rights, including the handing over of public education to for-profit charter schools.

[read the rest, here]

Neoliberal Terrorism Decimates Distracted Nation While the Terrorists Write the Laws

by Scott Creighton

While we are distracted by little pressure-cooker bombs, shaking in our boots over internet radicalized extremists, the real terrorists are skimming off the entire wealth of the nation into their pockets, one city at a time. And while we worry about cointelpro ops breathlessly hypothesizing about “weather weapons” making tornadoes, the financial oligarchs are writing more legislation in order to enable them to do commit even more terrorism against us and our future generations.

It’s reality of the absurd and there’s just no other way of looking at it.

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“Wall Street’s Favorite Democrat” Looks to Deregulate Derivatives Even More

by Scott Creighton

Former Goldman Sachs executive and current national finance chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called “Wall Street’s Favorite Democrat” by Bloomberg, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), is pushing a new bit of legislation to make it easier for Wall Street and Goldman Sachs to make piles of money setting up the next financial catastrophe just like they did back when they got Clinton to repeal Glass-Steagall.

The bill would “allow banks to keep commodity and equity derivatives in federally insured units,” Politico reported on Wednesday, meaning that banks would no longer be forced to spin off their trading desks. It would weaken Dodd-Frank’s “push out” provision, otherwise known as the Prohibition Against Federal Government Bailouts of Swaps Entities, which bars federal assistance from being provided to any swaps entity.

Himes, who was recently named the national finance chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is a former executive at Goldman Sachs, where he was a vice president.” Huffington Post

Jim, like President Obama, was born to do the “good work” of neoliberalizing America and Europe. His daddy worked for the Ford Foundation and UNICEF  in Lima Peru. His father worked under the presidency of Fernando Belaúnde who was particularly favored by the U.S. at the time because he basically handed over the nationalized oil industry to Standard Oil. Belaunde was forced to resign under threat of military coup in late 1968 and the new government did horrendous things like started a land reform program giving land back to the people and nationalized the oil industry again. They were also setting up  deals coming closer to Cuba and the Soviet Union. Eventually the Good old U.S. of A got their man back in the saddle again in 1980.

As you can see, a very similar path to greatness that our Glorious Leader had. Born to the Ford Foundation and neoliberalized dictators in far away lands and he ends up running things in the Democratic party. Small world for these oligarchs ain’t it?

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