The Auto Bailout Is Going Off the Road

chrysler

GM just announced it was laying of 21,000 more of its workers, as a means of assuring the Treasury Department the company is worthy of more bailout money. A Treasury official was quoted as saying approvingly that the goal is a “slimmed-down” GM. What? Having General Motors or Chrysler cut tens of thousands of jobs [...]

Will Ken Lewis Get Canned, and Will Americans Have a Say in the Corporations We Now Own?

ken-lewis

I don’t know whether Bank of America shareholders will oust Ken Lewis from his chairmanship this week. I don’t know if Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will eventually do it, either. What really worries me is I don’t know who would actually be responsible for doing the deed, or by what criteria. When it comes to [...]

How Obama Can Succeed in the Next Hundred Days and Beyond

first-stone

Before Inauguration Day, President-elect Barack Obama said he wanted to hit the ground running. Instead, he hit the ground sprinting and hasn’t stopped. Consider: A $787 billion stimulus package. A 10-year budget including universal health insurance and a cap-and-trade system to combat global warming. Subsidies to help distressed homeowners stay in their homes. Public-private partnerships [...]

The Great Credit Card Battle To Come

credit-card-sharks

The next front in the banking wars will be over credit cards. Some of the nation’s biggest bankers — including representatives of Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and other recipients of billions of taxpayer dollars — are meeting today with the President to ask him back off his move to reform credit-card lending practices. What’s happening [...]

Messy Blond Dreadlocks of Grace

homeless

Late afternoon rush hour, Hollywood, this time of year — right after Easter, just a few days left of Passover. Moments after hugging my then 11-year-old goodbye and watching her dad welcome her to his seder, I already missed her. I was expected at a seder in the West Valley in about 40 minutes. With [...]

Where Government Spending Should be Trimmed — And Why It’s Necessary to Fast-Track Universal Health Care

play-aig

It’s no accident that as Congress returns this week from its two-week recess and begins debate on the $3.5 trillion budget plans for the fiscal year starting in October — which may or may not include a provision that fast-tracks Obama’s health care proposal by allowing it to pass the Senate with a mere majority [...]

The Tea Baggers and the Bizarro Revolution

bizarroworld

The 2009 Tax Day “Tea Party” protests remind us of the stubbornness of Bizarro politics. On the cube-shaped Bizarro World, the backward planet of DC comic’s universe, a salesman hawks bonds “guaranteed to lose money for you” and the larger populace works towards imperfection. The code of opposites is the rule of the land. Greed [...]

Stimulus Mania: Is It The 21st Century Soup Line?

soupline

The efforts to jump start the economy in the United States, in hopes of causing a global ripple, have taken on an entirely new meaning as people and industry alike wait for the $787 billion dollar economic stimulus package to drop. It’s like a “mania” as so many cities, states, industries, school districts, homeowners, small [...]

A Short Citizen’s Guide to Kooks, Demagogues, and Right-Wingers On Tax Day

what-are-we-protesting

No one likes to pay taxes, so tax day typically attracts a range of right-wing Republicans, kooks, and demagogues, all of whom tell us how awful we have it. Herewith a short citizen’s guide (that is, a citizen’s guide that’s short rather than a guide for short citizens) responding to the predictable charges: “Americans pay [...]

Reporting From the Tea Bagger Hate-Fest in Sacramento

tea-bags

The hatred was palpable on the State Capitol’s steps. Hatred for taxes, hatred for government, hatred for state workers, hatred for teachers, hatred for Democrats, and hatred for all of the strawmen that leap from the imaginations of talk radio jocks. But the most hated figure of all at today’s “Tea Bag” anti-tax rally in [...]

We Can Stop Our Businesses From Moving Out

echo_park_murals

Long before I saw her walking her dog that morning or the guy who was jogging, or that couple move in down the street, I concluded that one way or another, my neighborhood was going to change. I just wasn’t expecting it so soon or for Black people to play such an active roll in [...]

We Need More Stimulus, Not More Bailout

patching panks

With only $110 billion remaining in the TARP bailout fund, all signs are that Tim Geithner is preparing to return to Congress seeking more bailout money. He’ll bring along the results of his bank “stress tests,” which will probably show many that big banks are still technically insolvent, along with bankruptcy scenarios for General Motors [...]

Nationalizing Banks and Industry: Why Capitalists Hate Socialism

worse-depression

The United States has always been a political economy, requiring government regulation of its finance and money markets, and using government stimulation on its labor force. “Free Market” enterprise is based on the notion that open markets and the competition derived from competing ideas for consumer patronage will create a market balance (equilibrium) that will [...]

Why We’re Not at the Beginning of the End, and Probably Not Even at the End of the Beginning

populist-rage

Are we at the beginning of the end? Mortgage interests are now so low (the average rate on 30-year fixed mortgages was 4.87% Thursday, slightly higher than the 4.78% last week, but still the lowest level since 1971) that President Obama has begun urging Americans to refinance their homes so they can save money and [...]

CSI Bailout, with William K. Black — Bill Moyers Journal Interview

handcuffs

William K. Black suspects that it was more than greed and incompetence that brought down the U.S. financial sector and plunged the economy in recession — it was fraud. And he would know. When it comes to financial shenanigans, William K. Black, the former senior regulator who cracked down on banks during the savings and [...]

How About a Student Loan Bailout?

cost-of-college

The education bubble is going to burst. It has to happen. On a daily basis, we hear about the bursting of the housing bubble. Housing values were over inflated. Millions of people found themselves with mortgages they could not afford to pay—whether through hard times and job loss, racial profiling and predatory lending by unscrupulous, [...]

It Is As Bad As The 1930s

mute-poverty

So much for the Republican chant of “stimulus is bad” and “we need a balanced budget.” Nobel Prize winning columnist Paul Krugman points out on his New York Times blog yesterday that the world economy right now is more or less at the point John Maynard Keynes described in his essay The Great Slump of [...]

Blame It All on Unintended Consequences

poverty-dinner

Why do economic downturns catch experts unawares? Even more intriguingly, why do they defy analysis after they’ve happened? Neither economists nor financiers can agree on why the world’s economies are in free fall today. More than 70 years later, there’s still no agreement on what caused the Great Depression. Not even in hindsight does consensus [...]

Why You Should Work for a Hedge Fund

jacuzzi

Just because I lost a big chunk of my total retirement savings over the last year doesn’t mean I should be upset that 25 hedge-fund managers reaped a total of $11.6 billion during the same interval, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha Magazine — including $2.5 billion for James Simons of Renaissance Technologies and $2 billion [...]

Tenant Foreclosures Highlight Need for Statewide “Just Cause”

robins-nest

With the mortgage crisis leading to mass foreclosures, right-wing pundits are blaming one set of victims – homeowners who got into bad arrangements they couldn’t afford. But what about renters who suddenly lost their homes, because their landlord didn’t pay the mortgage? Unless they live in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Los Angeles or other California [...]

It’s a Depression

good-old-days

The March employment numbers, out this morning, are bleak: 8.5 percent of Americans officially unemployed, 663,000 more jobs lost. But if you include people who are out of work and have given up trying to find a job, the real unemployment rate is 9 percent. And if you include people working part time who’d rather [...]

G-20 Tea with Her Royal Highness; Royal Bank of Scotland Trashed

obama-in-london

When Buddhists praying in the midst of financial district protests becomes news, we’re all in trouble. While the mainstream media focused on giftgate and other gaffes (FLOTUS — aka Michelle Obama as the First Lady of the United States — broke with protocol and shook Her Majesty’s hand without waiting for her to extend it [...]

The Administration’s Proposed Responsible Wall Streeter Tax Credit

recession-copy

The Administration is about to launch a new plan designed both to stimulate the economy and clean up Wall Street at the same time, the “Responsible Wall Streeter Tax Credit”.

Don’t Kill the Lawyers — Yet

justice

When asked about why he consented to the payment of the despised AIG bonuses, executive Edward Liddy cited, among other reasons, the threat of litigation. Ending up in Court these days, even when truth is on your side, is as appealing a proposition as eating a sand sandwich while camping in the Sahara. A very [...]

CEOs Golden Parachutes

Golden Parachutes

n 2008, approximately  1,484 CEOs left or were fired from their jobs. But most of them left with hefty severance packages or “Golden Parachutes” which softened the fall for so many of the executives responsible for the financial crisis. General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner stepped down under pressure from the White House.  His Golden Parachute [...]

AIG Bonuses: Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game

jasmyne cannick

I watched this week as the nation’s furor turned towards employees of insurance giant American International Group (A.I.G.) and the $200 million-plus in retention bonus payments recently doled out to executives. Executives, who, as we already know, are largely to blame for their role in A.I.G.’s financial crisis that led to the country’s economic meltdown [...]

AIG and the Undeserving Rich

dry-bones

Charles Blow, the “moderate” who seems to write a lot of words but never takes a clear stand on anything, recently lamented on the op-ed page of the New York Times about what a small matter the $165 million in bonuses really were compared to the $170 billion AIG received in government welfare. Sheryl Gay [...]

The Auto Bailout: A Bad Deal

obama-detroit

With the economy tanking and unemployment skyrocketing, you’d think the Obama administration would be doing all it could to save jobs. But if its auto bailout plan is any indicator of its current direction, we’re on our way to losing a lot more jobs.

The Rich Countries’ Faltering “United Front”

crisis8

By now we’ve heard “The worst economic crisis since the 1930s” – or words to that effect – so many times it’s become like a mantra. But as the days roll on it begins to appear that it might just be an understatement and that not only does the economic situation appear more like the [...]

Congress’s Potemkin Populism

bushido

It’s nice to see that when the public gets sufficiently angry about something, Congress responds. In a rare show of bipartisanship, members are eagerly registering shock and outrage at AIG’s bonus payments by coming up with an assortment of ways to reclaim the bonanza, including taxing them away retroactively. Who says democracy is dead? But [...]

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