Posts filed under ‘Financial Crisis’
UPDATED @6:31 EDT below.
People marching this afternoon against the proposed closure of 61 public schools in Chicago.
Remember back in the day when schools had to hold bake sales while the military got everything it needed? Fast forward to today and heck, forget bake sales. They’re just freakin’ closing the schools now.
What kind of values and priorities are those?
And now, of course, the police, representing the establishment — the folks who want to close the schools — are arresting people (in front of Chicago City Hall) who are trying to protect our kids:
What a country.
Last Saturday the Cypriot government came up with the lamebrained idea of skimming a percentage of funds off the top of the guaranteed savings accounts (like our FDIC) of its citizens in order to bail out its banks.
What astonishingly arrogant chutzpah.
After the whole world rightly shrieked in horror, the government backed down but it closed all the banks to give it time to work on a new plan. They’re still closed. Initially they were going to open this past Tuesday but now they will be closed until at least next Tuesday.
Meanwhile, this is what’s going on on the street there:
NICOSIA, March 21 (Reuters) – Forget the plastic. In Cyprus, cash is king.
“I plan to have at least 1,000 euros on me at all times,” Constantinos Tsissios, a 34-year-old banker, said at a downtown ATM in the capital, Nicosia.
“We’ve taken as much out as we could,” he said on Thursday. “You don’t know what might happen over the next few days.”
Five days after Cyprus’s panicked leaders ordered banks to close their doors, the fate of the financial system hangs in the balance and credit cards are going out of fashion.
Reluctant to accept the promise of payment from customers, shop owners say wholesalers are demanding cash on delivery. Some petrol stations, too, are refusing credit cards. Retailers with only Cypriot bank accounts are struggling to ship supplies in from abroad. Gentlemanly arrangements are bridging the gap.
“Because of what’s going on the suppliers ask for a small amount, say 50 percent, in cash, so they can meet their costs,” said Federico Basonidis, a 25-year-old worker at a kiosk selling cigarettes, newspapers and sweets.
Spooked by an aborted bid to tax their savings, Cypriots are fast losing confidence that their money will still be there when – or if – banks reopen, on Tuesday at the earliest.
Rumours on Thursday that one teetering bank would be allowed to fall saw queues grow at ATMs at a downtown branch, as staff behind locked doors replenished cash machines.
Some of the bank’s employees, fearing for their jobs, faced off with riot police outside parliament.
“We have children studying abroad and next month we need to send them money so they can eat,” protester Stalou Christodoulido said through tears. “We’ll lose what money we had and saved for so many years if the bank goes under.”
It sounds awful. I can feel the stress the people are under oozing out between the words here.
There seems to be no end to the suffering greedy, irresponsible bankers and their political enablers have caused, and continue to cause.
The answer is a loud: HELL NO!
Who are the “Don’t Know/Can’t Say” people? Who doesn’t have an opinion about this?
Follow the vote here. The results above are preliminary.
P.S. We here in the U.S. are already giving up our “savings” to save the banks. More on that later.
Because of this — which is causing worldwide outrage and panic — we’re seeing the likes of this:
A Planned Tax [the word tax should be in quotes] on Cyprus Bank Depositors [as in average citizen savers] as Part of a European Union Bailout is Sending People Rushing to ATMs to Withdraw Cash
Tomorrow is going to be wild.
The powers that be are screwing people all over the place:
Cyprus’s parliament will decide on Monday whether savers must pay a levy on bank deposits under terms for an international bailout to avert bankruptcy – with approval far from certain.
The euro zone demand on Saturday that savers pay up to 10 percent of deposits as a condition for the 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout drew fury in the eastern Mediterranean island and caused some jitters elsewhere in the region.
Cypriots emptied ATMs after news emerged of bailout terms which broke a previous euro zone taboo on protecting depositors in its efforts to address the regional debt crisis.
Cyprus’s parliament was due to convene on Sunday in an emergency session to discuss the proposed penalties on deposits: 9.9 percent for those exceeding 100,000 euros and 6.7 percent on anything below that.
Banks and the banking establishment, i.e., politicians, regulators, etc., allowed the financial crisis to happen but ordinary citizens are going to have their savings accounts raided to help bail them out?
This is SO wrong and it doesn’t bode well for ordinary citizens around the world that any government would cross this threshold. It’s an extremely ominous precedent to set.
(They sure have a pretty flag.)
UPDATE @ 1:17 p.m. ET: Geezus: UNDER threat of litigation, the Bank of Cyprus (BoC) has awarded former CEO Andreas Eliades compensation to the tune of some €2 million ($2.6 million).
Thought I’d put this outrageous clip up for the record. I have a feeling historians will marvel at it and I don’t mean in a good way:
Chuck Grassley: On the issue of bank prosecution, I’m concerned that we have a mentality of too big to jail in the financial sector of spreading from fraud cases to terrorist financing and money laundering cases and I cite HSBC. So, I think we’re on a slippery slope so then that’s background for this question: Ah, I don’t, I don’t have recollection of ah the DOJ prosecuting ah, any high-profile financial criminal convictions in either companies or individuals.
Assistant general, ah, attorney general brewer said that one reason why DOJ has not brought these prosecutions is that it reaches out to “experts” to see what affect the prosecutions would have the financial markets. So then on January 29, Senator Brown and I requested details on who these so-called experts are. So far we’ve not received any information. Ah, maybe you’re going to, buy why have we not yet ah, been provided the names of the experts that DOJ consults with as we requested on January 29 because we need to find out ah, why we aren’t having these high-profile cases.
And then I’ve got one follow-up so maybe you can answer that quickly.
Eric Holder: Well, we’ll endeavor to answer your letter ah, Senator.
Ah, we did not, as I understand it, retain experts outside of the government in making determinations with regard to HSBC. Now if we could just put that aside for a minute though, the concern that you have raised is one that I frankly share, and I’m not not talking about HSBC now. That may be, not be appropriate. But I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, ah, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy, and I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large.
Again, I’m not talking about HSBC. This is just a more general comment. I think it has an inhibiting influence, impact on our ability to bring resolution that I think would be more appropriate and I think that is something that we, you all need to consider. So the concern that you raise is actually one that I share.
Is he saying the banks have blackmailed the government?
Think about this for a minute:
Jack Lew’s Golden Parachute
Treasury secretary nominee Jack Lew’s original employment contract at Citigroup included a bonus guarantee if he left the bank for a “high level position with the United States government or regulatory body,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
So, the thinking apparently is if Lew got a “high level position” he’d be able to influence the making of laws and policy such that they would benefit Citigroup. If this isn’t illustrative of how government is in bed with corporations I don’t know what is.
And to think a guy — Lew — who came from that culture has been nominated Treasury secretary. Citi must be jumping for joy.
GAO Reports that the Losses from the Financial Crisis “Could Exceed $13 Trillion”
“GAO [Government Accountability Office] released a Report today on the ‘Financial Crisis Losses and Potential Impacts of the Dodd-Frank Act,’ which states that those ‘losses could exceed $13 trillion.’ The Report is a welcome and long overdue analysis of what the Wall Street caused financial crisis has cost the country,” said Dennis Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, Inc., an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes the public interest in the financial markets.
“There is a nonstop drumbeat from Wall Street and its many allies baselessly complaining about the cost to them of the laws and rules passed to protect the American people from another financial crisis. They never mention that it was Wall Street’s reckless investments and trading that caused the biggest financial collapse since the Great Crash of 1929 or the trillions of dollars in costs they inflicted on our country, giving us the worst economy since the Great Depression. That economic wreckage can still be seen from coast to coast in unemployment, foreclosed and underwater homes, lost retirements and educations and so much more,” Mr. Kelleher said.
$13 trillion and no one has spent a day in prison.
A Southern California man was sentenced Monday [January 9] to 10 years in federal prison for operating medical marijuana dispensaries, even though they are legal in the state.
Rancho Cucamonga resident Aaron Sandusky, 42, ran three Inland Empire dispensaries known as G3 Holistics. “I want to apologize to those with me and their families who have been victimized by the federal government who has not recognized the voters of this state,” Sandusky said in court Monday. His G3 dispensaries served 17,000 medical marijuana patients, according to marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.
“It’s really sad that Justice Department is able to find the resources to repeatedly undermine President Obama’s campaign pledges not to interfere with state medical marijuana laws,” Tom Angell, chairman of marijuana advocacy group Marijuana Majority, told The Huffington Post.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Sandusky was abusing the state system on a large scale — with at least 1,000 marijuana plants — and making a large profit. In a memo, prosecutors said Sandusky is an “unrepentant manipulator who used the perceived ambiguity surrounding ‘medical’ marijuana to exploit a business opportunity for himself.”
Iceland’s president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson is a really, really cool guy:
Here is some of what he says:
We didn’t follow the prevailing, traditional orthodoxies of the last 30 years. We introduced currency controls, we let the banks fail, we ah, we provided support for the poor, we didn’t introduce austerity measures of the scale you’re seeing here in Europe, and the end result, four years later, is that Iceland is enjoying progress and a recovery very different from the other European countries that suffered from the financial crisis.
Asked if he thinks Iceland’s policy of letting the banks fail would have worked for the rest of Europe, he said,
I think so. … Why do [people] consider the banks to be the holly churches of the modern economy? Why are [inaudible] banks not like airlines and telecommunication companies allowed to go bankrupt if they have been conducted in an irresponsible way? The theory that you have to bailout banks is a theory about bankers enjoying for their own profit the success, and then letting ordinary people feel the failure through taxes and austerity and people in enlightened democracies are not going to accept that in the long run.
Tonight’s edition of FRONTLINE looks good:
FRONTLINE investigates why Wall Street’s leaders have escaped prosecution for any fraud related to the sale of bad mortgages.
The folks who rule the world are going to have a party on Wednesday:
Goldman Sachs Bankers to Reward Themselves a Staggering £8.3 Billion in Bonuses
Britain’s army of bankers will re-ignite public fury over lavish pay rewards as staff at Goldman Sachs are expected to reward themselves £8.3 billion in bonuses on Wednesday.
The American investment bank, which employs 5,500 staff in the UK, will be the first to unveil its telephone number-sized rewards – an average of £250,000 a person – as part of the latest round of bonus updates.
The increase, up from £230,000 last year, comes as British families are still struggling to make ends meet five years after banks brought the economy to the brink of meltdown.
According to my little converter gizmo, 8.3 British pounds equals $13+ billion U.S. dollars:
Goldman Sachs is so arrogant it doesn’t care if this is a PR nightmare.
Yesterday we heard AIG was considering suing
the federal government We the People because the $182 billion bailout we sprang for in 2008 had some glitches in it they’ve decided they don’t like.
Understandably, and rightly, there was a huge outcry. I particularly like this letter to AIG from Democratic Reps. Peter Welch of Vermont and Michael Capuano of Massachusetts:
According to The New York Times, AIG is actively considering suing the U.S. government for monetary damages after American taxpayers rescued your company from its reckless conduct with a $182 billion bailout.
Don’t do it.
Don’t even think about it.
AIG became the poster company for Wall Street greed, fiscal mismanagement, and executive bonuses – the taxpayer and economy be damned.
Now, AIG apparently seeks to become the poster company for corporate ingratitude and chutzpah.
Taxpayers are still furious that they rescued a company whose own conduct brought it down. Don’t rub salt in the wounds with yet another reckless decision that is on par with the reckless decisions that led to the bailout in the first place.
Anyway, to make a long story short, AIG has decided not to sue.
Hey guys, GOOD THINKIN’ for once.
Word is out that President Obama intends to nominate Jacob Lew to replace Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary.
Get a load of this from Lew’s 2010 Senate confirmation hearing to head the Office of Management and Budget:
A former top executive at Citigroup who participated in the deregulation of Wall Street during the Clinton administration and recently was tapped by President Barack Obama for a top White House post told a Senate panel last week that deregulation didn’t lead to the recent financial crisis.
Jacob “Jack” Lew, Obama’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, the White House agency entrusted with ensuring that federal regulations reflect the president’s agenda, was asked Thursday during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee by Sen. Bernie Sanders whether he believed that the “deregulation of Wall Street, pushed by people like Alan Greenspan [and] Robert Rubin, contributed significantly to the disaster we saw on Wall Street.”
Lew, a former OMB chief for President Bill Clinton, told the panel that “the problems in the financial industry preceded deregulation,” and after discussing those issues, added that he didn’t “personally know the extent to which deregulation drove it, but I don’t believe that deregulation was the proximate cause.”
The White House declined to clarify Lew’s remarks from last week, instead writing in an e-mail that “Mr. Lew gave a nuanced and thoughtful answer to a question on a matter on which he, admittedly, is not an expert,” said Kenneth Baer, communications director for OMB.
If you have time, read the whole article. It documents how wrong Lew is regarding deregulation and the “problems in the financial industry preceding deregulation.”
Not only that, the White House admitted that Lew “is not an expert” on banks and regulations? Great. He sounds like the perfect guy to be in charge of ah, banks and regulations. That is, if you’re a bank.
The unmitigated gall:
At the same time American International Group Inc. has been running high-profile ads thanking America for the bailout that saved the company, the insurance giant reportedly is considering joining a shareholder suit against the U.S. government for the rescue.
The AIG board will meet Wednesday and could decide to join a $25-billion suit led by former chief executive Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the New York Times reported.
The suit by Greenberg’s Starr International Co. alleges that the 2008 bailout of AIG by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Bank of New York in which the government received an 80% ownership stake in the company violated the rights of shareholders. The ownership stake later climbed to 92%.
The suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington alleges that the bailout cost shareholders billions of dollars and violated the 5th Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for public use “without just compensation.”
The company received the single largest bailout of the financial crisis, leaving the government on the hook for more than $182 billion.
But now it’s whining that the deal wasn’t sweet enough. Insofar as (gag) corporations are people now, AIG is a psychopath. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) gets it right:
“Beginning in 2008, the federal government poured billions of dollars into AIG to save it from bankruptcy. AIG’s reckless bets nearly crashed our entire economy. Taxpayers across this country saved AIG from ruin, and it would be outrageous for this company to turn around and sue the federal government because they think the deal wasn’t generous enough. Even today, the government provides an ongoing, stealth bailout, propping up AIG with special tax breaks — tax breaks that Congress should stop. AIG should thank American taxpayers for their help, not bite the hand that fed them for helping them out in a crisis.“
Aside from Republicans in Washington hating on everything and everyone, this is the big news today:
Ten Banks Settle Foreclosure Charges for $8.5 Billion
Ten major U.S. banks and mortgage companies will pay $8.5 billion to settle complaints that they improperly foreclosed on some homeowners, federal regulators announced Monday.
The settlement package includes $3.3 billion in direct payments to eligible owners and $5.2 billion in loan modifications, forgiveness of deficiency judgments and other assistance, according to announcements by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
Eligible homeowners who should have been allowed to stay in their homes will receive compensation ranging from hundreds of dollars to as high as $125,000, depending on the type of possible mortgage servicing error.
More than 3.8 million borrowers whose home loans at these 10 banks were foreclosed on in 2009 and 2010 will receive some compensation in a timely manner, regulators said.
A payment agent will be appointed to administer payments. The agent is expected to contact eligible borrowers by the end of March with payment details, regulators said. Borrowers will not have to take any further action.
The settlement includes Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, PNC, Sovereign, Sun Trust, U.S. Bank and Aurora. The financial firms have operated under what is known as enforcement actions since April 2011. Federal regulators ordered the enforcement actions after they found evidence the banks mishandled paperwork or improperly sped up foreclosures by bypassing required procedures.
I heard someone on the CBS radio news this morning say that in order for this settlement to reflect the damage done by these banks it would have to be more in the range of $40 billion, not $8.5. And on his show today Thom Hartmann said he heard that the Obama administration was afraid these banks would collapse if they pushed it that far. (Fine, let them freaking collapse already!)
Not only that, I can only imagine what a fiasco dispensing this money is going to be.
This is one of those bits of information that is so frustrating and so infuriating it might be best not to know it. But, in the interest of staying aware and fully present, here we go:
In 2010, a stunning 93 percent of all income gains went to the top 1 percent of Americans. Also astonishing: just 15,000 households received 37 percent of all of those income gains. In no other period in recent American history have economic gains been concentrated so disproportionately in an elite sliver. (The red bars indicate recessions.)
(Filed under Outrage Overload.)
As I’ve said before, the lobbyists hired by the rich and the corporatocracy have earned their money in spades. They’ve bribed our dear leaders into structuring the US economy and its tax laws such that they benefit them and essentially, no one else.
Go here for more, especially if you’re a fan of depressing charts.
SARASOTA – A homeless man spent the night in jail Sunday after police arrested him for charging his cellphone in a public picnic shelter at Gillespie Park.
Darren Kersey, 28, was charged with theft of utilities after Sarasota Police Sgt. Anthony Frangioni spotted him charging his phone at about 9:20 p.m. Sunday. Unable to come up with the $500 bail for the misdemeanor, Kersey had no choice but to stay in jail.
In his arrest report, Frangioni wrote that he told Kersey that the “theft of city utilities will not be tolerated during this bad economy.” Frangioni also told Kersey that he should charge his phone at local shelters, according to the report.
So, I guess Kersey stole maybe 35c worth of electricity from Sarasota taxpayers.
What’s wrong is wrong but what gets me is that we aren’t, as a society, treated as equals: Wall Street bankers crashed the worldwide economy and they owe We the People $1.54 trillion but as far as I know, nobody has spent so much as a minute in jail.
Democrats and Republicans here in the U.S. are inching toward implementing the corporatist approach to the financial crisis, i.e., austerity. Austerity, in a nutshell, is when cuts are made to programs that help and support We the People in order to pay for bailouts made to banks, corporations and the rich.
In theory, bailing out that crowd results in the trickle down effect we’ve been promised for the last 30 years, which, as we all know, is a bunch of crap. Hello! Where is it?
Now, finally, a VIP has dared to rattle that cage:
Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund made a striking admission in its new World Economic Outlook. The IMF’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, explained that recent efforts among wealthy countries to shrink their deficits — through tax hikes and spending cuts — have been causing far more economic damage than experts had assumed.
How did the IMF figure this? That was the tricky part. Blanchard could have just plotted a simple graph showing that countries undertaking heavy austerity measures, such as Greece and Portugal, are faring more poorly than their peers. But that doesn’t actually prove anything—perhaps those countries are undertaking austerity because they’d run into economic trouble.
So, instead, Blanchard did something more subtle. He studied the IMF’s previous economic forecasts. If a country is already struggling for other reasons, the forecasters are likely to have taken that into account. And what Blanchard found was surprising: IMF forecasts have been consistently too optimistic for countries that pursued large austerity programs. This suggests that tax hikes and spending cuts have been doing more damage to those economies than policymakers expected. (Conversely, countries that engaged in stimulus, such as Germany and Austria, did better than expected.)
So, the next time you hear about Simpson-Bowles or Romney / Obama talking about “reforming” Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid, what they mean is they want to implement austerity here in the U.S. I.e., they want We the People to give stuff up so the military industrial complex doesn’t have to “suffer” and so the corporatocracy and the rich can, well, keep on keepin’ on.
Just. Say. No.
On a windy night in September, whilst most people were sleeping, wind power reached a record of 64.2% of Spain’s electricity demand.
The vast majority of Spain’s power that night came not from fossil fuels but clean, renewable energy generated by wind turbines on the Spanish hills.
And what couldn’t be used in Spain wasn’t wasted.
Some was exported via giant cables linking Spain to the rest of Europe and some was used to pump water uphill so it could be allowed to flow back down later, when demand was higher.
Pumped storage and interconnectors are just two of the way Spain has found to make sure wind works.
And there’s this:
Germany continues to outstrip the rest of the world in solar power capacity, and is adding new solar faster than any other country as well.
The US energy corporatocracy wants to believe that drilling for oil, fracking and transnational pipelines are the key to energy independence. Believe that at your children’s and your grandchildren’s peril.
Countries like Germany and Spain (despite their financial difficulties) are moving ahead with clean energy yet the US is held hostage by companies who wouldn’t mind destroying the entire planet to make a profit.
Four years ago I was winding down after a stint as a researcher on the documentary film OutFoxed, Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism and four years monitoring Fox’s “premiere business news” anchor, Neil Cavuto.
Just for fun I moseyed on over to the Newshounds tonight to see what I posted on October 5, 2008 to compare and contrast what Fox was saying about the millions of jobs the Bush administration was losing then to what they’re saying now.
Insofar as October 6, 2008 was a Sunday, I didn’t put up a post but I did put one up on Monday, October 7. Here it is:
Cavuto Continues to Insist the Economy’s Just Fine
Democratic strategist Malia Lazu was a guest today (October 7, 2008) on Your World w/Neil Cavuto. She was on to respond to Cavuto’s contention that “comparing today” to the Great Depression is “making things worse.” Cavuto cited the cover of the October 13 issue of Time magazine as an example.
Lazu, picked to appear in the segment because she represents Democrats and on Fox, Democrats are essentially traitors because they think America has problems and that it isn’t the all-powerful, perfect, ever-shining beacon on the hill, argued that we are in very bad economic shape and that people are suffering and they are worried that we’re headed for another Depression (polls prove her right).
Meantime, Cavuto spouted off statistics – unemployment is nowhere near 25% and where, pray tell, are the soup lines?
Immediately following the segment with Lazu, in an effort to reinforce his own spin, Cavuto hosted Danny Fontana of “The Danny Fontana Show” and of “Triune Capital Advisers” (never heard of either). Fontana was on to say that now is the buying opportunity of a lifetime! (I’m reading stuff that says consider any rally a selling opportunity – we’re going to Dow 7,200.)
Problem is, not only did Cavuto look totally out of touch, but he didn’t tell his audience (1) about the above-linked poll, nor did he tell them, natch, that (2) as of today, the Dow has posted the worst retreat since 1937 which was during the Great Depression.
Comment: I’m not saying that we’re in another Great Depression right now but Cavuto’s trotting along as if absolutely nothing is wrong. As if nothing has changed since, well, since I started monitoring him in early 2004. Guaranteed, if Obama wins, the economy and how awful it is will be Cavuto’s top story.
So, exactly four years ago Fox’s Neil Cavuto thought it was great that unemployment was nowhere near 25% (while Fox screams today that it’s in the low 8%) and the Dow was just above 7,000:
Today the Dow closed at 13,610.5.
I was right in my prediction. Obama won the election and now that we’re headed toward another, Fox says the the economy is awful, awful, awful despite it being hugely better than it was in October, 2008.
Oh, and you won’t hear about that on Fox until maybe, maybe sometime after November 6, depending on, you know, who wins.
First wingers claimed the polls showing Obama leading Romney were “skewed” and now they’re saying the Bureau of Labor Statistics is lying about the jobs numbers:
The headline at FoxNation.com right now (3:34 p.m. ET):
Here’s a link to the video and article you go to if you click on the headline.
Job’s numbers truthers.
And finally, there’s this: Eight Veteran Economics Reporters Dismiss “Implausible” Jobs Numbers Conspiracy.
Spain is one of the European Union countries hit hard by the recession (thanks Wall Street!) and it has made things worse by adopting the conservative philosophy of how to pull out of it, i.e., by squeezing the lower and middle classes. (Britain implemented the same policies and the outlook for their economy is awful.) Why the supposed geniuses who are trying to pull these countries out of this thing think impoverishing the majority of their people will do the trick is beyond me.
Anyway, this is how bad the situation in Spain is:
On a recent evening, a hip-looking young woman was sorting through a stack of crates outside a fruit and vegetable store here in the working-class neighborhood of Vallecas as it shut down for the night.
“When you don’t have enough money,” she said, declining to give her name, “this is what there is.”
The woman, 33, said that she had once worked at the post office but that her unemployment benefits had run out and she was living now on 400 euros a month, about $520. She was squatting with some friends in a building that still had water and electricity, while collecting “a little of everything” from the garbage after stores closed and the streets were dark and quiet.
Such survival tactics are becoming increasingly commonplace here, with an unemployment rate over 50 percent among young people and more and more households having adults without jobs. So pervasive is the problem of scavenging that one Spanish city has resorted to installing locks on supermarket trash bins as a public health precaution.
As Spain tries desperately to meet its budget targets, it has been forced to embark on the same path as Greece, introducing one austerity measure after another, cutting jobs, salaries, pensions and benefits, even as the economy continues to shrink.
Most recently, the government raised the value-added tax three percentage points, to 21 percent, on most goods, and two percentage points on many food items, making life just that much harder for those on the edge. Little relief is in sight as the country’s regional governments, facing their own budget crisis, are chipping away at a range of previously free services, including school lunches for low-income families.
For a growing number, the food in garbage bins helps make ends meet.
In a nearby soup kitchen, Toni López, 36, waited quietly for a free lunch with his girlfriend, Monica Vargas, 46, a beautician. The couple recently became homeless when they fell two months behind on their rent. “All our lives we have been working people,” Mr. Lopez said. “We are only here because we are decent people. The landlord was knocking on the door demanding the rent, so we said, ‘Here, here are the keys.’ ”
Mr. Lopez, who gets occasional work these days in restaurant kitchens, said he had a sister but had not gone to her for help. “I can’t bear to tell her,” he said. “I have always pulled through. I’ve always managed to get by. This is new.”
Beware. Cutting “salaries, pensions and benefits” is what Romney / Ryan want to do in order to try to balance the budget, or at least, “reduce spending.” Believe me, they aren’t talking about cutting anything that the rich enjoy. They’re all about cutting the salaries, pensions and benefits that go to us peasants. So a Spain-like existence could be in our future.
Watch Spanish police beat protesters tonight in Madrid:
During the #S25 (Sept/25/2012) Madrid protest, thousands (possibly 10,000+) gathered to protest outside the Parliament building demanding the resignation of the Spanish government. Police began baton rushing the crowd and beating people. Shortly after they began firing rubber bullets into the crows [sic].
Far as most anybody can tell, Mitt Romney’s theory of this campaign is (1) people are hurting financially, (2) incumbents don’t win when people are hurting and (3) all he has to do is pass himself off as minimally acceptable and he wins.
But the thing is, that’s a pretty simplistic way of looking at this election and it doesn’t give the American people credit for having the ability to bring with them some historical knowledge.
Ezra Klein posted a graph reflecting answers to two different, more revealing questions today:
So when people reflect on whether they’re better off because Obama was elected four years ago, they say yes. Which also conjures up images of John McCain as people wonder simultaneously what their lives would be like had he won, and voila, there you have a Republican who people think would have been worse than Obama.
So when Romney asks whether people are better off than they were four years ago, he might be hurting himself more than he’s helping. People feel if we’d stayed the course and had another Republican president, they might not be.
Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan:
Let’s be blunt and acknowledge the biggest threat to the world’s biggest economy are the cranks and crazies that have taken over the Republican party. Despite President Obama’s goodwill and strong efforts, the national interest was held hostage by the rise of the extreme Tea Party wing of the Republican party.
More (including video) here.
Paul Wolfowitz was a guest on Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN yesterday. Yes, CNN. You know, that raving liberal station.
So undoubtedly Zakaria and Wolfowitz, international war criminal, had a frank and honest discussion, right?
Since when do we look back and think of Bush’s wars of choice that have killed untold hundreds of thousands as his — or our – “freedom agenda” and one of the major players who lied us into those wars as “the brain?”
Yo. Fareed. I’m looking at you.
It seems to me the notion that tax cuts for the rich create jobs and spur growth is dying a quick death given (1) that George W. Bush (and Barack Obama for that matter) are only the most recent presidents to gave tax cuts to the rich and (2) hello, look around. Where are the damn jobs?
But just in case anyone needs proof, here it is (pdf): Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945. If you want to read all 23 pages, have at it but I’ll make it easy on you if you don’t:
There is not conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth. Analysis of such data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth. However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.
So, can we move on already? Tax cuts for the rich Do. Not. Create. Jobs. Period. Done.
I love this monument to snarkiness from Jonathan Weil over at Bloomberg:
We inky wretches in the press get criticized all the time anyway for picking on politicians over their gaffes on the campaign trail. So when I saw this from Representative Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s running mate, I figured I might as well pile on.
Ryan was talking about the Federal Reserve’s plans, announced today, to pursue another round of quantitative easing, which is a fancy term for printing money to buy financial assets. At a campaign event in Wisconsin yesterday, Ryan said the central bank is “trying to bail out the fact that the president hasn’t led, that the Senate hasn’t passed a budget, that we have a horrible economic policy coming from our regulations and from our tax policy.”
Just one question: How do you bail out a fact?
Meow. I couldn’t resist.
Oh, and speaking of the GOP crowd and the Fed, they’re having a fit because they don’t want the economy to improve one teeny tiny bit. Check out the bottom headline on this screenshot from the Drudge Report about the action the Federal Reserve took today:
They’re actually proud — yes, proud — that Romney asked Bernanke not to do what he did because again, heck, it just might help the damn country and we can’t have that! No siree. Not while Obama’s in office.
Here’s President Obama in roughly 2008 talking about how he’d “walk on that picket line” with union workers if they were denied their right to collectively bargain, which is exactly what’s happening in Chicago:
“If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America.”
This is a big deal with the Democratic base, which D.C. Democrats tend to ignore, at their own peril this year, IMHO. See Rahm, Rahm, Rahm.
And there’s this:
How cool is that? Paul Ryan loves Obama’s former Chief of Staff.
Obama, do you want to fu*k your base in this close election?
Krugman sums what I’ve been reading:
The headline number came in a bit below expectations, but that’s probably just the noisiness in the data. The best hypothesis about the US economy this past year and more is that it has been steadily adding jobs at a pace roughly fast enough to keep up with but not get ahead of population growth. Today’s report was consistent with a continuation of that story. Nothing to see here.
John Boehner sent this tweet out this morning:
That isn’t a little white lie, it’s a giant flaming red hot lie. Here’s why: It just so happens Bill Clinton said last night that President Obama has created 4.5 million jobs. PolitiFacts did their thing and posted a “Mostly True” on that this morning. They deemed it mostly true because:
The way Clinton did it is another way to count it. Clinton started counting from the low point of jobs in February 2010. Using this method, private-sector jobs increased by about 4.5 million.
If you instead start at the official end of the recession in June 2009, private-sector jobs increased by 3.4 million. That’s well below Clinton’s 4.5 million figure.
Seems to me it’s perfectly logical to start the count at the low point of the jobs instead of at the “official end of the recession” so let’s agree that Obama created 4.5 million or hey, let’s not. Let’s say Obama created 3.4 million jobs. That sure ain’t a loss of 316,000 as lyin’ John said this morning.
Heck, the ADP report came out this morning (before Boehner sent that tweet out, I might add) and hiring “surged in August with 201,000 New Jobs.
I swear, these guys really do lie every time they open their mouth.