The Great Debt Scare: Why Has It Returned?

broken economy

It’s the kind of thing I expect to hear from deficit hawks and chicken littles — from the self-described “fiscally responsible” right, from the scolds Ross Perot and Pete Peterson, from my former cabinet colleague Bob Rubin. But yesterday I was shown slides developed by the putatively liberal Center for American Progress intended to make [...]

A Growing Sense of Anger at Obama – and Others

obama-bo-running

I’m so angry I feel like concealing a loaded hand gun and walking into a national park. No, I’m not going postal. Once President Obama signs the new credit card law, it will be legal for anyone to march around Yellowstone packing heat just for the fun of it. Although it’s usually angry, bitter, little [...]

Sorry Folks: Happy Days Are Not Here Again

stressed-banks

“Demonizing the bankers as if they and they alone created the financial meltdown is both inaccurate and short-sighted,” Citigroup chairman Richard Parsons told reporters recently. “Everybody participated in pumping up this balloon and now that the balloon has deflated, everybody has some part in the blame.” Oh no we don’t. Talk about dissembling. The truth [...]

The President’s American Recovery & Reinvestment Act: What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us

shovel-ready

One of the first things President Barack Obama did as our nation’s Chief Executive was to urge Congress to pass, then sign, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), better known as the nation’s “economic stimulus” package. The $787 billion bill, the largest taxpayer footed bill ever passed, was viewed as the primary vehicle to [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

This Week in The LA Progressive: March 22 to March 28

cuban-revolution1

Avoiding the Greater Depression New York, City of the Poor. This city that never sleeps, and others, will experience economic and social death without a vibrant middle class and viable opportunities to earn a living. –David A. Love The Magical Mystery Majority Budget. The bills passed, the Republicans threatened to sue, the Governor announced he [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

This Week in the LA Progressive: March 9 to March 15, 2009

Across the Border Humvees in Tijuana: The US and the Mexican Narco-Wars. We need to clean up our own act before intervening in Mexico. Even under Obama we look too quickly to the military “solution” — no solution at all. –Diane Lefer Unreliable Immigration Data Is Out of Date and Context. Mainstream media running a [...]

Color of Law: Now the Robber Barons Replace the Welfare Queens (and Rightly So)

robberbarons

Gordon Gecko had a long run of it, but now the party is over. I’m talking, of course, about the character in the film Wall Street, that conniving titan of finance who would sell his mother for a buck and a quarter, and there is scant evidence that he had not already accomplished that goal. [...]

The Stimulus and the “Threat to Stability”

uncle-sam-crutches

Well, now it appears that, as the New York Times put it Monday, the “Rise in Jobless Poses Threat to Stability Worldwide.” This comes just after the new United States Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, told Congress instability caused by the global economic crisis had become the biggest security threat facing the United States, [...]

Geithner’s “Stress Test” for Banks, and a Stress Test for America

modern-times

The only way to make sense of Tim Geithner’s “stress test” for banks is to assume a kind of triage. Banks that are reasonably healthy right now — whose assets are fully adequate to fund their liabilities, and can make new loans — don’t need a bailout. And banks that are too far gone to [...]

Lessons of President Obama’s First Two Weeks

presidentobama

It’s been less than two weeks, but patterns have emerged that are likely to continue throughout Barack Obama’s presidency. First, Obama understands how to use the media. Examples are detailed below, but the best is the widespread media story last Thursday about how the usually cool Obama “lost it” — in front of cameras and [...]

President Obama’s Remarks Before the House Votes on Stimulus Bill

President Barack Obama spoke to a group of business executives and elected officials before the House voted on the highly anticipated Stimulus Bill which contains an $825 billion Stimulus Plan. The President noted that seven of the largest corporations in the United States announced, this week, that they are making job cuts. Earlier, in a [...]

They’re Just Not That Into You, George

bush_binladen

Mr. Bush, you shouldn’t have bothered. It wouldn’t have mattered what you said on your last Thursday evening as White House occupant. I’m sure many Americans did tune in out of curiosity as to how you were going to try to talk your way out of your mess this time. You used the same familiar [...]

What Should Be Done With The Next $350 Billion of Taxpayer Bailout Money: Criteria for TARP II

obama_tightrope

It’s difficult to make the case that the first $350 billion bailout of Wall Street — so-called “TARP I” — fulfilled its goals, unless one argues that the Street would have imploded without it, which is pretty much what Hank Paulson is saying these days. And since it’s impossible to prove a counter-factual, especially when [...]

Stimulate the Economy by Mending Our Safety Nets

piggybank

Lots of talk this week about the proposed stimulus. One high priority ought to be the most vulnerable members of our society. The safety net created in the 1930s to protect Americans from extreme poverty is in tatters. Now that we’re in the worst downturn since the Depression, that safety net needs mending. This should [...]

Thoughts on the End of a Hell of a Year

2009

The biggest thing to happen to me this year was the birth of my first grandchild, a little girl named Ella. I know this kind of thing happens all the time and frankly I get bored with people who go all gushy about the birth of kids or grandkids.

The Debate to Come over Wall Street, Autos, and Everything Else: Cyclical or Structural?

problem

by Robert Reich – First prediction for 2009: A widening gap between the public’s view of the bailouts of Wall Street and Detroit, and the views of the direct beneficiaries. The public believes the bailouts will permanently change these industries, but industry insiders don’t really want to change.

The Housing Bubble Continues to Burst

waiting_for_santa

by Robert Reich – The National Association of Realtors said today that home prices have now dropped to the point where they’ve wiped out all the gains in housing prices since 2004. 2004, not incidentally, was when interest rates last hit bottom, and the Feds looked the other way while mortgage bankers began shoving money [...]

Why I Love Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow and Laura Tyson

by Charley James – A few nights ago, Rachel Maddow was discussing the Wall St. bailout on her MSNBC show with guest Dr. Laura Tyson. Tyson, a former economics advisor to Pres. Clinton and now a professor at UC-Berkeley, was defending the banks who received bailout money for their total lack of disclosure or transparency [...]

The Grapes Of Writhing

falling-vault

Should we pity the rich? For the first time in the lives of many of them, they are in as much financial trouble as the middle class, poor, and working poor. It just shows up differently. Friends from the days when I lived in Manhattan are writing increasingly gloomy e-mails saying that there are so [...]

Masters of the Universe No More

opulence

By Denis Campbell – New York City suburb, Greenwich, Connecticut, has 55 houses for sale asking $9 million dollars or more. Staff at East Hampton Airport on Long Island, a scene of private Gulfstream jet gridlock, says traffic is down 35%. Bettridge Jewelers on Wall Street sees traffic mostly selling off jewels to make mortgage [...]

Are We Courting a Populist Backlash?

auto-wave

by Robert Reich – The government is doing a lousy job helping distressed homeowners. And according to John Dugan, the Comptroller of the Currency, the little that’s been done has had surprisingly little effect. Nearly 36 percent of homeowners holding mortgages whose terms were adjusted to give them more leeway defaulted on payments within three [...]

Holiday Gloom in Silicon Valley

computer-sisyfus-copy

by Carl Bloice – A couple of days before Thanksgiving one of my downstairs neighbors matter of factly told me he had lost his job. He’d been abruptly laid off by a local information technology startup company. “They let go so many people I don’t know how they are going to get the work done,” [...]

Slavery, American Style, Must Go!

world-balloon

ho says there are no slaves in America? The greatest domestic issue facing President-elect Obama is not the bailout of the bankers and insurers but the task of lifting tens of millions of hard-working American wage-slaves out of dire poverty. These are the folks who hold one – and sometimes two or even three – [...]

Of Financial Capital and Human Capital: Why We’re Bailing Out Wall Street While Allowing Our Schools to Get Clobbered

liberty

by Robert Reich – Our preoccupation with the immediate crisis of financial capital is causing us to overlook the bigger crisis in America’s human capital. While we commit hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street, we’re slashing our outlays for public education.

Why the Automakers Won’t Make Fuel-Efficient Cars, Even as the Price of Being Bailed Out

detroit

by Robert Reich – Telling automakers to make more fuel-efficient cars as a condition of being bailed out is like telling Citigroup or any other big bank to issue more affordable loans to Main Street as a condition of being bailed out. It won’t happen.

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