Of Bailouts, Buyouts and Bankruptcy

Why the big push to bailout the banking industry? the automobile industry?

One word:  PENSIONS

Pension funds are invested in stocks. Bankrupcy wipes out those stocks, leaving pension funds unfunded. If it’s a private fund, retirees will suddenly stop getting their checks.  If it’s a public fund, taxpayers will have to make up the difference.

Mainstream media, even non-mainstream media, has not reported on this, but it’s out there, the unheard, unseen elephant in the room. To my knowledge, this is the first report that mentions this looming economic disaster:


The Indiana State Police Pension Fund, the Indiana Teacher’s Retirement Fund and the state’s Major Moves Construction Fund claim the deal unfairly favors the interests of Chrysler’s unsecured stakeholders ahead of those of secured debtholders such as the funds.

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The Most Powerful Financial Institution You’ve Never Heard Of – The New York Fed

This is an insightful article done by Eliot Spitzer – about who actually runs the New York Fed, what do they do, and whom does this person report to?  His article titled Fed Dread is in Slate and here are a few interesting excerpts:

Just as the millions in AIG bonuses obscured the much more significant issue of the $70 billion-plus in conduit payments authorized by the N.Y. Fed to AIG’s counterparties, the small issue of Friedman’s stock purchase raises very serious issues about the competence and composition of the Federal Reserve of New York, which is the most powerful financial institution most Americans know nothing about.


Given the power of the N.Y. Fed, it is time to ask some very hard questions about its recent performance. The first question to ask is: Who is the New York Fed? Who exactly has been running the show? Yes, we all know that Tim Geithner was the president and CEO of the N.Y. Fed from 2003 until his ascension as treasury secretary. But who chose him for that position, and to whom did he report? The N.Y. Fed president reports to, and is chosen by, the Fed board of directors.

So who selected Geithner back in 2003? Well, the Fed board created a select committee to pick the CEO. This committee included none other than Hank Greenberg, then the chairman of AIG; John Whitehead, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs; Walter Shipley, a former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, now JPMorgan Chase; and Pete Peterson, a former chairman of Lehman Bros. It was not a group of typical depositors worried about the security of their savings accounts but rather one whose interest was in preserving a capital structure and way of doing business that cried out for—but did not receive—harsh examination from the N.Y. Fed.

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We Could Have Done Without “Financial Modernization”

Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) was prescient when he gave this speech in the Senate on November 4, 1999 regarding the Gramm Leach Bliley Act.

Yes, Virginia, Senator Dorgan saw a light at the end of the tunnel and he knew a train was coming. He knew it wasn’t sunshine and that the passage of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act would eventually bring down our economy.

Part 1


Part 2


Did you hear Senator Dorgan say “Too big to fail“? These words are so familiar to us. Unfortunately, Congress didn’t heed Senator Dorgan’s words. He predicted that we would be visiting the failures in 10 to 15 years as a result of passing the Gramm Leach Bliley Act and Congress didn’t listen.

(h/t to skymutt at Daily Kos)

Cross posted at Pennsylvania for Change.

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The Big Takeover

Rolling Stone, by Matt Taibbi

It’s over — we’re officially, royally fucked. No empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far. It happened when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national decline — a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of American industry in the country’s heyday, only to destroy itself chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire.

The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just posted the largest quarterly loss in American corporate history — some $61.7 billion. In the final three months of last year, the company lost more than $27 million every hour. That’s $465,000 a minute, a yearly income for a median American household every six seconds, roughly $7,750 a second. And all this happened at the end of eight straight years that America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and explosive tubes of toothpaste. Yet in the end, our government had no mechanism for searching the balance sheets of companies that held life-or-death power over our society and was unable to spot holes in the national economy the size of Libya (whose entire GDP last year was smaller than AIG’s 2008 losses).

So it’s time to admit it: We’re fools, protagonists in a kind of gruesome comedy about the marriage of greed and stupidity. And the worst part about it is that we’re still in denial — we still think this is some kind of unfortunate accident, not something that was created by the group of psychopaths on Wall Street whom we allowed to gang-rape the American Dream.

It’s no accident.  Wall Street crashed this economy because they could, and now they’re looting the taxpayers of this country for generations to come.

Ronald Reagan started the ball rolling in the 80s when he declared that regulation was BAD.  Why did we buy into that?  Did the average Joe, who was hollering “free market!!!” really think any of the “little people” would get on that gravy boat?  Idiots.

Then along came George W. Bush and his merry band of power-hungry, bloodthirsty money-grubbers to deliver the coup de grace to the American economy, the world economy, and generations of taxpayers.  Oversight?  What the hell is that?  Three to the noggin — bang bang splat!!

Taibbi’s article is a long one, but read the whole thing.  It will make you fucking sick, but you’ll have a clearer idea of what the hell happened at AIG.

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Bush creates a loophole, saves Christmas for financial execs

Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!

Thanks to George W. Bush, this Christmas will be another special one for the top executives in the financial world.

Naturally, when the $700 billion bailout was approved by Congress, taxpayers were relieved that “golden parachutes” would not be issued with taxpayer money.

The Raw Story tells of how Bush saved Christmas by the power of a single sentence…

The change stipulated that the sanction would only apply to firms that sold mortgage backed securities to the government at auction, which the Bush Treasury Department said would be the method they’d use to infuse troubled companies with bailout cash.

But to date, the Bush administration hasn’t used auctions to buy up those mortgage backed securities, and doesn’t plan to use auctions in the future.

Whew!  That was close! Now those top execs can afford to buy those personalized life-sized Lego figures or buy that spendy Christmas gift basket for Mom.

Gosh, I kind of wonder now if Bush EVER intended to buy mortgage securities via auction….

Happy Holidays, ya gosh darned “haves” and “have mores!”

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Give Me My Money Back, You Bitch

Hey, you big shot executives at AIG! Who the fuck do you think you are? You go whining and crying to the federal government that if you don’t get in on some of that free money that Hank Paulson is handing it (without getting receipts, it seems), the world will collapse and you’ll go out of business. So we pony up some money to aid your “flailing” company, and what do you do? You go on a “junket” to a luxury resort where you lived in the style to which you erroneously think you are entitled. You were wrong. Continue reading

Feds Refuse To Disclose $2Trillion Of Emergency Loans

Remember back in September, when Paulson and Bernanke promised to comply with Congress for transparency in the $700 billion dollar bailout – I guess the honeymoon is over and we are back to the secrecy agenda.  Here we are several months later, the American citizens have no idea where any of our money is being spent.  Did I mention that the Feds also lent more than what was approved by Congress, of course, those individual programs don’t require their approval.  That news just makes my stomach knot up worse.  Bloomberg‘s, Mark Pittman, Bob Ivry and Alison Fitzgerald, have found out more information.

“The collateral is not being adequately disclosed, and that’s a big problem,” said Dan Fuss, vice chairman of Boston- based Loomis Sayles & Co., where he co-manages $17 billion in bonds. “In a liquid market, this wouldn’t matter, but we’re not. The market is very nervous and very thin.”

Bloomberg News has requested details of the Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure.

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Bailout failing in House

The $700,000,000,000 bailout bill for Wall Street is failing in the House of Representatives.

207 – yes

226 – no

Democrats:  141, yes; 94, no

Republicans:  6, yes; 132, no

The markets are taking as well:  -450

HT: House of Roberts

UPDATE 1: The final vote 228-205.  I’ll put up a link to the roll call when it’s available.

UPDATE 2: The Roll Call vote is here.

Palin On Pakistan And Bailout – Be Very Afraid

Every time Sarah Palin opens her mouth, I’m finding it more and more, scary that John McCain picked her. With so many other women-who are more qualified-McCain wasn’t thinking about our best interest-only winning the election. Her absurd answers in the form of multiple talking points crammed together, tells us, she not only doesn’t understand the question, also, she will be of no help finding a solution.

Sarah Palin fielded a couple of questions in south Philadelphia last night. This is going to cause the McCain Campaign to have a Pakistan problem. All because a local student asked about foreign policy.

“How about the Pakistan situation?” asked Rovito, who said he was not a Palin supporter. “What’s your thoughts about that?”

“In Pakistan?” she asked, looking surprised. “What’s going on over there, like Waziristan?”

“It’s working with [Pakistani president] Zardari to make sure that we’re all working together to stop the guys from coming in over the border,” she told him. “And we’ll go from there.”

Rovito wasn’t finished. “Waziristan is blowing up!” he said. “Yeah it is,” Palin said, “and the economy there is blowing up too.”

“So we do cross border, like from Afghanistan to Pakistan you think?” Rovito asked.

“If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,” Palin responded, before moving on to greet other voters.

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Republicans: Bring on The Great Depression of 2008

Politico reports that Republicans prefer to play party games than to earnestly bring any ideas to the table to help rescue homeowners and our failing markets. Snippets below.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson left a late-night session at the Capitol Thursday without a deal on the bailout plan the White House says is needed to prevent economic disaster.

Four of the five parties involved in the deal — House Democrats, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans and the White House — had agreed to the general outlines of a plan, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said after the meeting ended.

That left one remaining obstacle: House Republicans.

Or maybe two.

Although John McCain hasn’t said whether he supports the bipartisan, bicameral compromise struck earlier in the day Thursday, one of his leading Senate surrogates – Lindsey Graham of South Carolina – said Thursday night that McCain joined House Republicans in opposing that proposal.

With so many parties involved, Paulson asked congressional leaders to limit the meeting participants to one representative each from the Senate Democrats, House Democrats, House Republicans and Senate Republicans.

Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) stood in for the House Republicans. But as Frank said after the meeting, “he wasn’t even marginally deputized” to speak for his caucus, having been publicly chastened by House GOP leadership earlier in the day. Bachus, said Frank, excused himself from the meeting, explaining that since he wasn’t authorized to speak on behalf of his caucus it wasn’t useful for him to stay.

Following the meeting, Frank and Dodd implored President Bush to persuade House Republicans that the situation is urgent. “The president has got to go to work here,” said Frank. As for McCain’s offer of assistance, Frank said, “God save us from such help.”

Frank gave reporters copies of the House Republicans’ set of principles, and he said that their primary goal — insuring bad bank loans, rather than buying them — had already been rejected by Paulson as unworkable. He noted that no House Republicans raised the insurance idea at a House hearing yesterday; if anyone had, he said, Paulson would have rejected the idea out of hand.

The Democrats insisted that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would not bring the plan to the floor unless is had substantial support from the GOP.

It does not yet, and it’s not clear how it ever will.

According to one GOP lawmaker, some House Republicans are saying privately that they’d rather “let the markets crash” than sign on to a massive bailout.

“For the sake of the altar of the free market system, do you accept a Great Depression?” the member asked.

Senior House Democrats slammed McCain and House GOP leaders for the breakdown in the discussions, claiming that they are pushing a proposal that Paulson and the White House have already rejected.

Good to know that failed Free-Market, trickle down theory is still driving the Republicans.  That and political theatre.  Will Republicans ever put Country First?

h/t: Hilzoy at Washington Monthly.

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McCain wins Debate!

The word bizarre doesn’t even begin to cover how the McCain campaign presents itself to my eyes. For a minute or two I was taken in by McCain’s announcement on Wednesday. I wondered if this would play out right in American voters’ minds. “Patriotism and putting the country first always goes down well with the American public” I have been told in my political science seminars. But the unbelievably incompetent execution of McCain’s ill thought-out plan and the resulting developments in the race from Wednesday till tonight, the total public disintegration of a presidential campaign within a timeframe that you can still measure in hours, is something I would not have thought possible.

As details are emerging about the dismal performance during the White House crisis meeting, John McCain eats his own words and heads to Mississippi for tonight’s debate with Barack Obama. He can’t not, now that his incompetence is so very obvious and the Democrats have called his bluff. And he is in it to win it. So much so that the McCain campaign has issued a campaign ad claiming McCain had won the debate. A wee bit premature. Not only hasn’t the debate even started yet, the ad already has been published before McCain even announced his participation in the thing.

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Republicans Own this Financial Disaster

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We are in the midst of a financial meltdown.  We’re talking about using almost a trillion dollars of taxpayer money to bailout the markets – on top of the quarter trillion dollars which have already been infused into our economy in the way of bailouts.

We are watching and waiting to see if some plan can be developed to loosen credit markets – needed to help the continuance of many small businesses and farmers, provide any confidence in our markets – those markets where many retirement plans are heavily invested, provide assistance to people who are trying to hold on to their homes, all while not screwing the American taxpayers for future generations.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at some of the financial disasters, policies and incompetence by the Republicans in the last eight years.

A CBS report, from 2002:

Just last week President Bush announced, “my 2003 budget calls for more than $48 billion in new defense spending.”

More money for the Pentagon, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, while its own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends.

According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions,” Rumsfeld admitted.

$2.3 trillion — that’s $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America. To understand how the Pentagon can lose track of trillions, consider the case of one military accountant who tried to find out what happened to a mere $300 million.

“We know it’s gone. But we don’t know what they spent it on,” said Jim Minnery, Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

And then we have this.  CNN reports, from 2005:

Nearly $9 billion of money spent on Iraqi reconstruction is unaccounted for because of inefficiencies and bad management, according to a watchdog report published Sunday.

An inspector general’s report said the U.S.-led administration that ran Iraq until June 2004 is unable to account for the funds.

“Severe inefficiencies and poor management” by the Coalition Provisional Authority has left auditors with no guarantee the money was properly used,” the report said.

But there’s more.

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Veruca Salt Award — Henry M. Paulson Jr

It’s been a while since I awarded the Veruca Salt Award.  Not because there hasn’t been anyone deserving the Award — we’ll never be that good — but because I’m so jaded nothing has really taken my breath away like it used to.  Laziness is in there too, one of the top five reasons for sure.

Here’s a re-cap of what the Veruca Salt Award is about:

Veruca Salt

Veruca Salt

The Veruca Salt Award is named in honor of the character from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Veruca is a spoiled rotten child, whose parents treat her like a princess, who thinks she can take whatever she wants whenever she wants it, and her wants and desires rise above all else. She embodies the Deadly Sin of Greed, with touches of Envy and Wrath. A thoroughly unpleasant character, naturally she ends up in the garbage chute.

Who is Henry M. Paulson Jr, and why has he been chosen for this prestigious award?  I’m glad you asked.

Mr Paulson is the current Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush, and

Henry M. Paulson, Jr

Henry M. Paulson, Jr

really, if you don’t know who he is, you’re seriously not paying attention.  Paulson comes from a nice family in Illinois, Eagle Scout, English major at Dartmouth, MBA from Harvard Business School (slightly tarnished), Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense under Nixon, assistant to John Erlichman (uh oh), former CEO of Goldman Sachs, husband, father, grandfather, and bird-watcher.

Soooo, if you’ve been living in a cave in the mountains of Idaho, and only had basic cable, you might not have heard about a certain crisis in our financial institutions, which are in need of a monstrous bailout — to the tune of $700 billion — yes, BILLION.

Mr Paulson put together a legislative proposal to allow the Treasury to purchase all those worthless mortgages, and bailout the financial institutions who have been on a drunken speculation joyride for years, and finally had two wheels hanging over the edge of Depression Cliff.

Here’s the breath-taking, award-winning section:

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.


I mean, just how big are Mr Paulson’s balls anyway?  Got a wheelbarrow…?

Paulson sez:  Give me $700 BILLION of your tax dollars, and I’ll fix everything.  Trust me. Really, would I lie to you?

Mr Hubris Paulson, here’s your prize.

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Who Created the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Sub-Prime Mandate?

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President Bush and his HUD appointee Alphonso Jackson

President Bush and his HUD appointee Alphonso Jackson

Recently, the right-wing crowd has taken to blaming Democrats for the debacle in the housing market which created the mess that we are seeing on Wall Street (and throughout Main Street) today.

Let’s take a trip in the Way Back Machine, shall we. This is from Business First – from November of 2004.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be required to increase financing to low- and moderate-income home buyers and to increase their commitment to underserved areas under new rules by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD is requiring the two government-sponsored enterprises to make 56 percent of their mortgage activities in loans written to low- and moderate-income borrowers by 2008, up from the current goal of 50 percent. They will have to increase mortgage activity in underserved areas from 36 to 39 percent by 2008.

To meet the new goals, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae would have to purchased 400,000 more qualifying home loans during the four-year period, HUD said in a statement.

The new goals become effective beginning Jan. 1.

And who is HUD? HUD is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. At that time (2004), the Secretary of HUD was Alphonso Jackson. From HUD’s website:

In nominating Jackson, President George W. Bush chose a leader with a strong background in housing and community development, expertise in finance and management, and a deep commitment to improving the lives of all Americans.

Alphonso Jackson first joined the Bush Administration in June of 2001 as HUD’s Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer. As Deputy Secretary, Jackson managed the day-to-day operations of the $32 billion agency and instilled a new commitment to ethics and accountability within HUD’s programs and among its workforce and grant partners.

Immediately preceding his appointment at HUD, Jackson served as President of American Electric Power-TEXAS, a $13 billion utility company located in Austin, Texas.

If you don’t recall, Jackson resigned amidst multiple ethics violations and spent tens of thousands of dollars on a photo homage to himself (and President Bush) at HUD headquarters.

UPDATED with video below the fold.
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Soylent Green Is People: The Banking Crisis (A Long Way Down)

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Grin and bear it, folks. This is a long one.

I’ve had trouble writing about politics the last couple of weeks. It is certainly not for lack of exciting (read: terrifying) things happening both at home and abroad, but there are, in fact, so many things happening so rapidly that just keeping on top of the news is a nearly impossible task, forget writing about it. I almost feel like I’m being covered in an avalanche.

What’s worse than the recent slow down, though, is that over the next two weeks, production may further decrease (let’s call this a “blog recession”) as LSAT time is approaching and I’ll be devoting more and more of my time to preparing to take the test which will hopefully allow me to avoid entering the economy for another three years when job prospects are better. I did not spend $40,000 on a education that only seems to qualify me to be a glorified file clerk at $24,000/yr (well, I did, but I didn’t mean to).

The way I figure it is that in another three years, the economy will have recovered to the point that my then seven years of post high school education will actually be worth something, or, it will have crumbled into such disarray that we’ll be looking at some post-apocalyptic wasteland where hyper-intelligent gorillas reign supreme and humans are hunted for their soft supple skins and marbled cuts of meat which glisten with the fat created by the ingestion of thousands of McDonald’s hamburgers. Which makes me wonder: anyone want to take odds how long it would take McDonald’s to start selling Soylent Green burgers in such an environment? I can already see the signs: “Over 99 Billion Humans Served… to Vicious, Soulless Apes.” They’ll barely even have to change their signage, and won’t have to change their ethics at all.

Okay, I’ve gotten off-track. Here’s what I wanted to get to: I have nowhere near the kind of time it would take to delineate the recent developments in the continuing financial disaster created by the once highly esteemed “free market,” that is now being solved through the nationalization (though they don’t want to call it that) of many of the world’s largest financial institutions. The hairy details follow below…

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Details on the Bailout

For those so inclined to cry over the details of the proposed bailout, the financials are below the fold.

There appears to be some movement, though, which is positive. Reuters reports:

The Bush administration has accepted changes to its $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan that would give the government a stake in institutions unloading assets under the plan, the chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee said on Monday.


On reducing foreclosures, Frank said, “The foreclosure piece is agreed on. There was Republican congressional opposition but the administration accepted it.

“They’ve accepted our views on oversight … There is some contention now over compensation and corporate governance.”

The compensation they are arguing about is, get this, Golden Parachutes; the Democrats are opposed to them and the Republicans do not want to allow those CEO’s to walk away without our tax dollars.

Good to see the Republican’s are staying true to their nature: screwing over middle America.

I bet you’ll be heartened to know that the Pentagon and the Department of Defense will not be affected by shortage of credit funds resulting from this meltdown.

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Bailing on the Bailout

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The following is a comment by John Smith in response to this article on Bush’s Give Us $700 Billion Dollars Unfettered By Any Oversight Whatsoever Wall Street bailout.

Dear Member of Congress:

You are being asked to assign unprecedented powers to an unelected, and unaccountable former Wall Street banker, under the guise of bringing stability to the markets and solvency to our banking system. With one hastily thrown together vote, you are going to create the most powerful human being in world history – Henry Paulson.

This is being done for the purposes of fixing a “crisis” that has suddenly, in the last hour, been presented to Congressional leaders. This act would remove the constitutionally mandated powers of regulation of the money supply, and the value thereof, from Congress and give it to an unelected member of the President’s cabinet. According to the act, this person would be above judicial review, and be allowed a $700,000,000,000 revolving line of credit to print money on behalf of the United States government. That is more power than anyone has ever had – anyone. Caesar did not have this power.

This should sound eerily familiar.

In March of 1933, after the “crisis” of the Reichstag Fire, newly named Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler, petitioned the German Reichstag to give him plenary powers over the affairs of German government. The Reichstag transferred its power, on an emergency basis, to the Cabinet of Germany for a period of four years, and this was called “The Enabling Act”. This was to deal with the perceived “crisis” of Communists within the German government, when the “crisis” was never fully substantiated. It is believed by most historians that the Reichstag Fire was a deliberate act to coax the Reichstag into giving up its power.

That history did not end well.

You are being goaded into giving Henry Paulson plenary powers over the economy and government spending, money supply, and value of that money. Those powers belong to you, held in trust for the citizens of the United States. Our Founders gave you those powers TO PREVENT THE VERY SCENARIO THAT SECRETARY PAULSON HAS PRESENTED TO YOU.

You are being manipulated.

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Henry Paulson, Goldman Sachs and the good old buddy system

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The bailout plans for Wall Street are the biggest rip off of taxpayers ever. But wait a minute. There was the Savings and Loan crisis from the 1980s and 1990s.That was bad, wasn’t it?

In a nutshell: The Savings and Loans’ interest rates on deposits were regulated since the 1930’s and found themselves up against the competition of money market funds which could pay higher interest. Deregulation led to increasingly risky investment strategies and ultimately 747 Savings and Loans failed, leaving the taxpayer with $ 120 billion bill. The ensueing large budget deficits may have contributed to the recession of the early nineties.

Taking inflation into account the then $ 120 billion would amount to roughly $ 200 billion today. And it helped causing a two year recession.

That was bad really. And today? Continue reading