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Friday, December 12, 2014

Let's return to the bad old days...

First and foremost, let me say that I was very impressed by yesterday's walkout of congressional staffers protesting the recent outrages involving the police. An excellent first step.

CRominbus. Bravo to Elizabeth Warren for opposing a bill which will roll back the Dodd-Frank reforms and allow the Wall Streeters to go back to the situation before 2008. Those reforms were themselves hardly sufficient -- but if we can't preserve Dodd-Frank, what hope is there for something better?

Bravo, as well, to Nancy Pelosi for standing with Warren.
It is clear from this recess on the floor that the Republicans don’t have enough votes to pass the CRomnibus. This increases our leverage to get two offensive provisions of the bill removed: the bank bailout and big money for campaigns provision.
Are the Dems finally starting to act like Democrats? I'm pretty sure that Boehner is going to get his way on this in the end, but he must be fought, and Obama isn't going to fight him.

A bit more on the campaign finance part...
The bill would dramatically expand the amount of money that wealthy political donors could inject into the national parties, drastically undercutting the 2002 landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance overhaul. Bottom line: A donor who gave the maximum $32,400 this year to the Democratic National Committee or Republican National Committee would be able to donate another $291,600 on top of that to the party’s additional arms -- a total of $324,000, ten times the current limit.
Good lord, but this bill reeks.

And speaking of things that reek: This bill also prevents the EPA from regulating methane emissions from livestock. As you know, cattle farts contribute massively to global warming.

(Not to worry. Republican Jim Inhofe, who will probably head the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says that global warming is actually good for human beings. At least he's not denying that it's real!)

And here's another goody in this bill:
The bill stops assistance to the Palestinian Authority if it becomes a member of the United Nations or UN agencies without an agreement with Israel. It also prohibits funds for Hamas.
Of course, Israel will never allow any kind of agreement -- Israel's actions over the past few decades have made this fact very clear. Alas, I doubt very much that Nancy Pelosi will fight against this portion of the CRomnibus.

But at least she is fighting to maintain Dodd-Frank -- and yes, I'm aware of how frustrating it is to have to fight for something that was so infuriatingly insufficient to begin with. Maxine Waters has taken a strong stand against the continuing resolution...
She was aided in this by a number of impassioned speeches in the Democratic caucus, including one from civil-rights hero Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who referenced his participation in the March on Washington 50 years ago. “I wanted to know [then] which side the federal government was on,” said Lewis. “I wanted to know 50 years later which side is the Democratic caucus on? Is it on the side of the people or Wall Street and the big banks?
But the White House still supports the bill, on the grounds that any deal made with the next (Republican-controlled) Senate will surely be much worse. Not a bad argument. But here's the counter-argument...
As Corrine Brown of Florida told The Daily Beast while almost holding back tears, “I think we care about all the people who lost their homes during the foreclosure and you giving the banks the opportunity to do it again, not one of them went to jail.”

The concern wasn’t just centered around ideological opposition but political calculus as well. As [Oregon Representative Pete] DeFazio told reporters, “You know, if I go home and say, ‘I had to vote to give new special interests to billionaires and the big Wall Street banks even though people in my district are still hurting because otherwise we would have had a [90-day continuing resolution],’ you know what they’re gonna say? What the hell is a 90-day continuing resolution? You did that for Wall Street and the rich people and we’re done with you Dems.”
Bless Pete DeFazio. Why isn't he running for President? Why isn't he President right now? He understands a fact which has always eluded Obama: If you can't stand for something, people will decide that they can't stand you.

Another crash? Dodd-Frank or no Dodd-Frank, there are those who say that we are heading toward another 2008-style crash. At this time, I consider these doomsayers to be outliers and fringe-dwellers. The doomsayers are with us always. If you keep saying "The Big Bad Thing will happen this year" every single year, eventually there will be a year when something truly big and bad happens and you will look like a prophet.

Nevertheless, I'm starting to get a bit spooked. At this writing, the doomsayers seem louder and more strident than normal.

Take this guy, for example...
In the current instance, we are not even talking about garden variety leverage. We live in a world where leverage is leveraged, leveraged again and again and again. We have personal, public, and “private” (OTC) leverage. The garden variety leverage is bad enough as is sovereign leverage, but the real problem are derivatives piled on top of derivatives with collateral which in many cases no longer even exists.
While I originally thought about talking of Venezuela and Ukraine today, and making a comparison and wondering which one will bankrupt first, it dawned on me ...the current bubble is busting right now!
Look what is currently happening. The reflation of the reflation of U.S. real estate is failing. Oil has deflated 40%+++. High yield credit is in an outright crash and already at record “wides” to Treasuries. The euro and yen have deflated drastically...even against gold. The Chinese stock market dropped over 5% last night, this is like a 900 point drop in the Dow. They changed their “collateral rules” and now only AAA and AA credits can be used as collateral. While speaking of China, let’s not forget their shadow banking system which has basically now been frozen solid. Commodities across the board have been hammered lower while growth rates across the globe (except of course the U.S. as we lie about every economic report) have either slowed drastically or turned negative. The “reflation” is clearly failing! There is no way around it, we are watching a credit contraction unfold.
Hey, do you remember when the Randroids were warning us all that hyper-inflation was right around the corner? Remember when Fox News was giving all of that air time to Jonathan Lebed and his phoney-baloney National Inflation Association? Remember when we were all told that a potato would soon cost twenty bucks? Remember all that stuff?
Quite simply, we have lived through the greatest Ponzi scheme of all time where leverage of over 100 to (probably 1,000 to one when all is said and done) has been employed for control. The recent volatility suggests that control is finally being lost. If this is true and I firmly believe it is, we are on the doorstep of the worst financial panic event in all of human history. The sad part is the humanity. Only a small percentage of the global population ever even played in this game but everyone will be affected by it!
The fellow who wrote that is named Bill Holter. He's with Miles Franklin, the precious metals firm in Minnesota. I hope he's wrong. Keep in mind: Gold bugs are always crying doom. Doom, or at least the perception of doom, is good for their business.
Nice comprehensive summary with wide-angle lens, Joseph.

We (US) are way too ethnocentric to see the wider implications. Now if Warren proves to be 'truly needy' in her angst about Banksters (Jamie Dimon lobbied Congress heavily) I will give her another look. For now, 'methinks she doth protest too much"

"(W)e have lived through the greatest Ponzi scheme of all time". This is true.

Meanwhile, the Australian government led by 'shirtfronter' Tony Abbott promises to sell uranium and coal to the Ukraine...

At least it was amusing when Abbott said that Putin, who has led Russia with a strong hand since 2000, has "an opportunity (...) to be a statesman as well as a patriot".

Here you go, Vlad, old chap, here's your chance to make something of yourself. You won't get better advice than you'll get from Tony!
The watering down of Dodd-Frank has appalling consequences for financial markets, yet it pales beside the global push for bank bail-ins.

ZeroHedge also has some interesting charts on the chances of GFC2.
Bubbles always end in crashes. The real question, in my mind, is whether a crash will result in another liquidity crisis in the financial system. If the derivatives regulations in Dodd-Frank are scuppered this is almost guaranteed, along with another bankster bailout, more money being printed and zero interest rates extending far into the future. The result will be another round of taxpayer funded speculation and new bubbles to pop.

The odds of our politicians doing the right thing, in this circumstance, by nationalizing the insolvent banks, is just about zero.
So, yesterday and probably throughout the weekend we'll have to listen to the torture apologists and now this--something like $700 trillion in derivatives of which US banks own 95% is now backed by the US taxpayer. That's about 10x the world's entire GDP and the US is on the hook because the banks rule the world.

We don't stand for anything anymore because everything's for sale: the country, the sacrosanct Constitution and . . . the soul of our people. Lock, stock and barrel, it all belongs to the highest bidder. Jamie Dimon, one of the head crooks whispers and captured pols fall in line, including POTUS, the cave-in king.

Rome is in our future. And Capitalism? It just put its greed head in the noose.

Merry Christmas!

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