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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 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 [...]

In the Wake of AIG: Obama’s First Priority

aig1

AIG is rapidly becoming a nightmarish metaphor for the Obama Administration’s problems administering the bailout of Wall Street. One central problem is the lack of transparency. According to some news reports, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner knew weeks ago that AIG was planning to issue the bonuses to executives in its notorious credit default swap unit, [...]

The Real Scandal of AIG

rich-cigar

The real scandal of AIG isn’t just that American taxpayers have so far committed $170 billion to the giant insurer because it is thought to be too big to fail — the most money ever funneled to a single company by a government since the dawn of capitalism — nor even that AIG’s notoriously failing [...]

Is Obamanomics Conservative or Revolutionary?

obama_hat

There are two ways to see Obamanomics. The first, much preferred by the White House, is as a set of initiatives so modest as to hardly merit a raised eyebrow. Yes, steps must be taken to deal with the current economic crisis. But assuming the economy recovers next year, Obama’s budget projects that government spending [...]

A Nation of Tax-Evaders

boligandollarchicken

The furor over the non-payment of taxes by Tom Daschle and a few other recent nominees for public office should not obscure the deeper truth that the United States has become a nation of tax-evaders. On the simplest level, this tax evasion is exemplified by the fact that vast numbers of people, including some who [...]

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