Wednesday, November 4, 2009

1.5 Million. 35.8 Million Americans on Food Stamps - 11 Percent of the Population. The 5 Indicators of the Misery Index

It is a sobering fact that in 2009, there will be as many people filing for bankruptcy as those filing for a divorce. We are on track to seeing an average of nearly 5,900 bankruptcy filings a day for 2009. While some people use the stock market as their barometer of economic recovery, there are a few other “misery” indicators that show things are still bad for millions of Americans and counter the recovery talks. If you want to track a broader recovery, I would recommend people examine the five indicators of the misery index. Food stamps, bankruptcies, long-term unemployed, foreclosures, and credit card defaults are probably your best gauges to the real economic recovery.

The problem we currently face is even after the global economy was brought to its knees by the current Wall Street banking structure, things still haven’t changed at the core of their mission. The same banks are back taking inordinate amounts of risk with the now explicit backing of the U.S. Taxpayer. It is no surprise then that our U.S. dollar has been pummeled by the policies of the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury.

Let us examine each component of the misery index.



Source: Credit Slips

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that bankruptcy filings are now approaching their pre-2005 levels. Keep in mind that in 2005, tough bankruptcy legislation came into effect thus spurring a massive wave of bankruptcies from people seeking to avoid the new tougher standards. Even with these new standards in place, there is only so much blood that you can squeeze out of a turnip. Some will be quick to point out that bankruptcy filings hurt big corporate giants mostly. On the contrary, 98.5% of all bankruptcy filings come from individuals at the end of their rope. Most people don’t file for bankruptcy with a smile on their face.

We will see a slowing or moderating pace for the fourth quarter since there is a bit of seasonality with filings. But Q1 of 2010 should give us a better indicator of where things are heading. But one thing is irrefutable, bankruptcy filings are going up. In this category, the recovery is not taking place.

Food Stamps


Over 35,800,000 people are currently receiving food stamps in the U.S. That is 11 percent of our entire population is receiving government assistance through the SNAP program (i.e., food stamps). As the chart above can attest to, the number of people is still booming. Obviously in any economic down turn, this rate will increase but this percentage is one of the highest on record. It is also clear that the growth is currently exponential.

Here is the government expenditure per year on food stamps:

2006: $30.6 billion

2007: $30.3 billion

2008: $34.6 billion

2009: $40 billion (still need August and September data - average out we are approaching $50 billion for 2009)

Just think of how quickly this number is jumping. The problem with the current system is that some people are still governed by the trickle down school of economics. They believe that if Wall Street is up 60 percent (thanks to government bailouts) that somehow crumbs will trickle down to working and middle class Americans. Clearly it isn’t happening right now. The recovery is looking more like a minor depression to many.

Long-term unemployed


It is telling that the biggest category of our currently unemployed population is those classified as long-term unemployed. These are people that have been out of work for 27 weeks or more. Think of how grueling it is to be out of work for half a year in this economic climate. The issue at the core of long-term unemployment is that it reflects potential permanent job losses. That is, many of the 8,000,000 jobs lost since the recession started are never coming back. For every one job opening you have six able bodied workers competing for it.

It is hard to see what industry is going to pick up the slack for these long-term unemployed. Many are now coming to the end of their unemployment insurance and in many cases, in some states this can be as long as 90+ weeks. The long-term unemployment trend tells us that we have yet to see any economic recovery as well. Sure the stock market may be up but what use is that to the average American that pays most of their bills through a job?



At the root of most of this is the housing market. Take a long and close look at the chart above. Q3 of 2009 was the worst foreclosure quarter on record. Clearly foreclosures are not a sign of economic recovery but here we are, two years into the crisis and foreclosures are still at record levels. Much of this comes from the decade long housing bubble. But keep in mind each additional foreclosure is another home on the market, another family looking for different shelter, and an economic loss to the system. It is hard to see any of the government stop-gap measures fixing this in the short-term. The loan modification programs have yet to yield any significant change.

It is also the case that the government has gotten more risky with tax credits and allowing lax lending standards with FHA insured loans in getting more people to buy. In the short run this may offer the appearance of growth but over the long haul, this will only add to future defaults.

The foreclosure numbers show us a very different picture from the current recovery rhetoric.

Credit Card Defaults


For the first time in data tracking history, has total revolving credit contracted on a year over year basis. At a time when the above data shows that more Americans need more support, the credit card companies are yanking lines of credit. They are also charging higher fees on good standing customers to make up for their rising defaults for years of easy financing. Here is some sobering data:

Credit card direct mail offers:

Q3 of 2006: 2.1 billion

Q3 of 2009: 391 million

Now you know why your daily mail is much lighter. Credit card companies who are giant receivers of taxpayer bailout money are actually closing their doors on the same people who are bailing them out. They are hiking up fees and closing down credit lines unless consumers give in to their onerous ways.

The bottom line is the misery index shows no solid economic recovery. I suppose it depends on what we are looking at if we want to say we are in a recovery. If we are looking at banking profits and Wall Street then yes, the recovery is here. If we are looking at other data like bankruptcies, unemployment or foreclosures then the story is very different.

Why Iranians Love and Loathe Ahmadinejad and Think Nuclear Technology's Their Right

Edito's note: Hooman Majd describes himself as one of the few people in the world who is both fully Iranian and completely American. Majd, raised in the U.S., is a distant relative of former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, and his ability to navigate between American and Iranian culture as an insider gives him a unique perspective on two countries in conflict.

In his book, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran, Majd reveals an Iran that is anything but homogeneous. It is, like the U.S., a country embroiled in a profound culture war between social conservatives and liberal urbanites; a country in which the population perceives itself as the aggrieved, not the aggressor. He writes, "It strikes me often when I am in Iran that were Christian evangelicals to take a tour of Iran today, they might find it the model for an ideal society they seek in America. Replace Allah with God, Muhammad with Jesus, keep the same public and private notions of chastity, sin, salvation and God's will, and a Christian republic is born."

Majd's book is a much-needed antidote to the simplistic narratives about Iranian culture and politics embraced by the Western media. In the excerpt below, he discusses some of the crucial misconceptions that many Americans hold about Iranians' attitudes towards their controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country's nuclear energy program and relations with the United States.

On a hot night a few days after Ahmadinejad's inauguration in August 2005, in a comfortably air-conditioned hired car in Tehran, I sat next to the college-educated driver, a clean-cut man in his late twenties who, with his impeccably clean car, manner, and dress, could easily be from the wealthy tree-lined neighborhood in the north of the city where I was headed. When I asked him about the elections that had brought Ahmadinejad to power, the subject of every conversation in Tehran at the time, he pointed to a group of girls in the car next to us: heavily made-up, on their cell phones, and with scarves barely covering their wellcoiffed heads. "Some people," he said, "think that freedom means men being able to wear shorts or women to go about without the hijab. Others think that freedom means having a full belly." He paused for a moment. "There's just more of the latter," he said, forcefully changing gears as if to emphasize the point, which I took to mean that he had voted for the president. When we arrived at the slick apartment building that was my destination, I felt almost embarrassed that to him I must have represented one of the people who, with a stomach about to be made full, felt that freedom did indeed mean that people might dress as they please. But there was no tension in the car, and in fact he enthusiastically engaged in the most traditional form of ta'arouf, which in a taxi ride means having to sometimes beg the driver to take your money.

Western observers often define ta'arouf as extreme Iranian hospitality, or as a Persian form of elaborate etiquette, but since Westerners naturally engage in ta'arouf too (as everyone who has ever complimented a host or hostess on what was actually a bad meal knows), it's easy to miss its true significance and its implications in Persian culture. The white lies that good manners dictate we tell in the West and general polite banter or gracious hospitality cannot begin to describe what for Iranians is a cultural imperative that is about manners, yes, but is also about gaining advantage, politically, socially, or economically, as much as anything else. One might be tempted to think of ta'arouf as passive-aggressive behavior with a peculiarly Persian hue, but although it can be, it cannot be defined solely so. American businesses and businessmen are known to succeed with brashness, determination, and sometimes even a certain amount of ruthlessness; Iranian businessmen succeed rather more quietly with a good dose of ta'arouf and in such a way that doors are opened before the ones opening the doors realize they have done so.

While ta'arouf defines Persian social interaction outside the home (and is engaged in only with guests inside), by definition it cannot be employed in anonymity, which perhaps explains some contradictory Iranian behavior. Foreign observers of Iran have often remarked on how demonstrators in the streets, yelling at the top of their lungs about the evil nature of America or Britain, will, when confronted individually, rather sheepishly explain that they're not really anti-American or anti-Western. But this is the essence of ta'arouf: as long as they were anonymous, they could say whatever they wished, insulting though it may have been, but when they are face-to-face with a person who might take offense, politeness takes over. "I have fond memories of America."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had counted on my taxi driver's definition of freedom, or really on the Iranian preoccupation with rights, or haq, which define that freedom, in his campaign for president in 2005. Ta'arouf and the preoccupation with the issue of haq form two aspects of the Iranian character that are key to understanding Iran, but are often overlooked or misunderstood by non-Iranians. The concept of ta'arouf goes way back in Iranian history, and if it is true, as some historians maintain, that nations that fell to the Persian Empire were often happy collaborators with their conquerors, perhaps the Persians' ta'arouf enhanced their reputation as benevolent rulers, as did their emphasis on rights (it was Cyrus the Great, after all, who had the world's first declaration of human rights inscribed on a cylinder at Babylon).

Although Ahmadinejad, like all Iranians, is a keen practitioner of traditional ta'arouf, he almost invariably balances his more streetlike ta'arouf with assertions of haq. His deceptively blunt language has always been laced with ta'arouf, just as much as it has been an unequivocal defense of haq. Even though it may seem that in his provocative speeches at the UN he has always singled out the United States as an evil enemy, he in fact has not mentioned the United States (or any individual American) by name even once, classical ta'arouf that not only deems it impolite to insult directly (and he might have given a lesson on ta'arouf to his friend Hugo Chávez, at least in 2006, when Chávez labeled George Bush as Satan at the UN) but also can include an obvious, but easily retractable, accusation. When in 2007 Ahmadinejad, contrary to diplomatic norms for nations that do not recognize each other, sat and intently listened to George Bush's speech at the UN (while the entire American delegation walked out on his), he was engaging in silent ta'arouf, a ta'arouf that sought to show the world that he was clearly the more reasonable man, and a lesson not lost on his audience back home. But while other Iranian leaders, silver-tongued and not, may have chosen to extend polite ta'arouf to even discussions of their nation's rights, Ahmadinejad generally employed the darker and more subtle form on the international stage.

When Ahmadinejad arrived in New York in 2006 to attend the UN General Assembly, because of his standing up for the haq of Muslims everywhere and because of the recent war in Lebanon, where Hezbollah, openly backed by Iran, had been able to claim a victory of sorts over the Israelis, his stature in the Muslim world, at least on the streets of the Muslim world, was at an all-time high. And he knew it: Ahmadinejad had a hubristic air about him every time I saw him, even while he enthusiastically engaged in ta'arouf that might come across merely as polite behavior to Americans but held greater meaning for Iranians. He had given an interview to Mike Wallace for 60 Minutes earlier in the summer, an interview where even in America opinion seemed to be that he had (again, thanks to his ta'arouf skills) outmaneuvered the at times frustrated-sounding master of the combative television interview, and according to people close to him he felt supremely confident that he could handle any question posed to him by the media during his brief stay in the United States. Ahmadinejad was, as he always is in public, quite charming.

In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, Ahmadinejad was his usual confident and ebullient self, his speech exoteric in contrast with his predecessors' sometimes esoteric wanderings in their public comments. By far the most interesting revelation, though, was not any new explanation of his statements on the Holocaust or his opinion on Israel's fate, but in the clue to his personality, which revealed itself when Williams, in a lighthearted moment, asked the president if he'd like to see more of America, and the president's response was a simple and nonchalant "Sure." Pressed for details about what or where in particular he'd like to visit in America, and perhaps Williams was hoping to elicit an unexpected response such as "Disneyland," Ahmadinejad stuck firmly to generalities, and finally said, "Albateh, esrary nadareem," which was correctly translated as "Of course, we're not insistent." But the actual meaning, and nuance is difficult to translate from Persian, was much closer to "Of course, we don't really care." While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thought that America might be interesting, it was apparently not that interesting, at least to him, but he found a way to say it that was politely insulting. And that remark spoke volumes about Ahmadinejad, a man who had never shown much interest in travel and who believed passionately that Iran had as much to recommend it as any other country, but also volumes about a generation of nationalistic Iranians who often winced at the onetime fawning, beyond ta'arouf attitude of Iranian leaders, and many of their subjects, toward the West. It was also a classic illustration of the superiority/inferiority complexes that many Iranians suffer from, and it was a signal to his audience back home that he was not about to be seduced, as many of them have been or might be, by the glitter of the West, even though he was, naturally, civilized enough to respond graciously to a question.

Ahmadinejad's personality and image consciousness revealed themselves again when, in another attempt at lighthearted banter, Brian Williams asked him about his attire--a suit (and open-neck shirt) rather than his trademark Windbreaker--and the Iranian president replied, "Sheneedeem shoma kot-shalvaree hasteen; manam kot-shalvar poosheedam," which was translated as "We knew you wear a suit, so I wore a suit." But the phrase is actually much closer in meaning to "We'd heard you are a suit, so I wore a suit," a sentiment much in keeping with his ordinary, "man of the people" image, as well as his, and many of his supporters', disdain for symbols of class and wealth, but it was also another example of his employing the darker language of ta'arouf.

Ahmadinejad's darker ta'arouf goes hand in hand with the issue of haq, which is for him a critical political concern (as it is for Iranians of all stripes), whether it is expressed through complex and flowery ta'arouf or the more straightforward language, albeit still infused with ta'arouf, of the common man. Iranians, who've had no history and, until the age of communication, barely a knowledge of Western liberal democracy, do not necessarily equate their rights with democracy as we know it. In almost every noisy public demonstration in recent years, whether it be trade unionists demanding better pay as their right (as teachers and bus drivers have done) or the general public protesting gas prices or rationing (objecting to the infringement on their right to cheap fuel, for Iranians believe that the oil under their country's ground belongs to the people), issues such as free speech, social freedoms, and even democratic elections have taken a backseat.

Students at university have been an exception, and their protests have often been violently broken up by the government or quasi-governmental forces, but, strangely, many ordinary Iranians view the students as hopelessly naive, forgetting that it was students, inside and outside Iran, who were in the vanguard of the Islamic Revolution. The Islamic government, keenly aware of university students' role in bringing it to power and aware of the potential for unrest on campuses spreading elsewhere, has always taken a two-pronged approach to ensuring that a new revolution does not start in academia. The obvious approach has been to crack down on any student movement that has the gall to publicly challenge the government, whether by expelling protesting students, arresting and jailing them, or shutting down their newspapers and limiting their speech. The other approach has been to populate universities with the children of the children of the revolution ... with underprivileged and deeply religious youths from working-class families: exactly the kinds of people that the government can reasonably rely on to counter any threat to an Islamic Republic that has taken extremely good care of its own. And reliable they are, for every time a student pro-democracy movement crops up on any campus, other Islamic student organizations are there to challenge it, even violently.

Despite student dissatisfaction, and perhaps a reason for the apparent public apathy toward the student protesters, the Islamic Republic has been astute in understanding what "rights" Iranians cherish above all others, and is careful not to trample on those, as various Shahs' governments did. One important right for Iranians is that of being free to do as one pleases inside the walls of one's home or garden. Other than liquor raids in the early days of the revolution by overzealous komiteh or Basij members, intrusions into private life are extremely rare, and Iranians have no fear of expressing their opinions in what they deem private space, their "movable walls" if you will, which can include a café table or a taxi and which would have been unthinkable under the so-called progressive last Shah.

The intellectual elite of Tehran and other big cities chafe under Islamic rules and under suppression of free speech, but for the majority of Iranians they are issues that pale in comparison to their "rights" to employment, a decent wage, or fair consumer prices, rights Ahmadinejad was particularly adept at convincing voters he was the strongest proponent of (while dismissing, with some success, accusations that his religiously conservative side might be tempted to intrude behind Persian walls). Liberal Iranian women, and certainly some Iranian men, would agree with their Western counterparts that their "rights" include dressing as they please when they venture into public space, but I have heard from pious Muslims, including some women, that if that right offends the majority, as some conservatives claim it does in Iran, then it is not an automatic "right." Although the mandatory-hijab question resonates emotionally for some, what resonates more for women activists in Iran is the larger issue of rights as they compare with those of men and fighting discriminatory Islamic laws, which they frame as issues of haq that have sent some progressive clerics searching for Islamic solutions.

Westerners can be forgiven if they often confuse haq with another aspect of Iranian culture that looms large: the much-talked-about "Persian pride." The reason Iranians, even those most opposed to their government, seem to support their country's nuclear program, despite the hardships that they may have to endure in order for it to achieve success, is put forward by many analysts as pure, fierce nationalism and excessive Persian pride, as if Iranians have rejoiced in their scientists' ability to overcome technological hurdles as much as their presidents and other leaders have seemed to. To accept that conclusion is a mistake that betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the Iranian psyche and of Iranian society. Iranians are indeed proud, sometimes to the point of arrogance, but pride is not what is driving the nuclear issue as far as the majority of Iranians are concerned. No, the nuclear issue is another matter of haq, basic rights that deeply resonate for a Shia people that has long suffered from inferiority and superiority complexes, often simultaneously.

The question of rights is fundamental to Shia Islam, the very founding of which was a struggle for rightfulness. And Shia Iran, with a history of centuries of perceived injustice toward its religion and sect, and the trampling of its sovereignty by foreign powers, cannot easily accept any attempt to deprive its people of their rights. The sense of rights and justice is so deeply ingrained in the Iranian psyche that when Iranians mourn Imams martyred fourteen centuries ago, as they do during the month of Moharram, they are consumed by paroxysms of weeping, not necessarily for the dead, but for the cruel injustice perpetrated on their saints and, by extension, on them still today. The Iranian government plays up the injustice of the Western position on Iran's nuclear program (which is viewed essentially as to arbitrarily deny them advanced technology), and unjust it is as far as the people -- who consider neither themselves nor even their leaders particularly aggressive or violent -- are concerned.

Iranians, like all other people, have differing ideas of what their rights are, what constitutes haq, but they do generally agree on the most basic. Thomas Jefferson may have declared that our rights include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the French Revolution may have given France the motto "Libert?, ?galit?, fraternit?," but the Iranian motto, if there were one, might simply be "Don't trample on my rights," without defining what those rights are. But the concept of haq is such a part of the Iranian vocabulary, within or without Islam (and Iran is a religious society, after all), that it can sometimes border on the risible.

Haq-khordan--"trampling of rights"--is a very common expression, and I have heard on many occasions, even from pro-American Iranians, how the United States, whether on the nuclear issue or on others (and certainly in the case of the CIA-backed coup of 1953), has trampled on the God-given rights of the Iranian people. For Iranians, fierce capitalists that they are (which Islam allows, even if only grudgingly), the pursuit of happiness is an important right, as are life, equality (an equality encouraged by Islam with the unfortunate exception of gender equality and, in its attempts at breaking the class system, by the Islamic Republic), and brotherhood (encouraged by Islam). Liberty is the one right that Western democracies view differently, as do some Iranians of course, from the way Iranian governments do. But most Iranians believe that they had defined their liberty under Mossadeq, the prime minister overthrown by the CIA, and had redefined it with the revolution of 1979, which liberated them from the totalitarianism of the Western-supported Pahlavis. Foreign powers, regrettably, often conspire to trample that right in pursuit of their own interests, and their own leaders too, who, as President Khatami once told me, have had little history of or experience with democracy, can exhibit dictatorial qualities rather soon after they've been democratically given the reins of power.

President Ahmadinejad, perhaps better than most other Iranian leaders, made haq the defining concept of Iranian politics both during his campaign and after he was elected. His obvious resentment of the ruling class was based not just on working-class values but also on his deep Shia sense of injustice done to the masses, of the violation of their haq, by their rulers. And to Ahmadinejad, the injustices that Ayatollah Khomeini had railed against were once again taking root in his beloved Islamic Republic, injustices such as corruption, cronyism, nepotism, and a stranglehold on power by a handful of politicians. Just as Khomeini had eschewed the language of politics and diplomacy, so did Ahmadinejad. He spoke in simple, informal terms, in the language of the street, with no nuance or obfuscation, and to many it was a refreshing change. His ta'arouf, often self-deprecating, was to present himself as but a simple man (like Khomeini) who only sought to defend the rights of Iran and Iranians, at home and abroad. His promises to fight corruption, patronage, and privilege while at the same time redistributing the government's (oil) wealth directly to the dinner tables ("tablecloths," or sofreh, as he put it) of ordinary Iranians were believed, and despite the trepidation of wealthy Westernized Tehranis he started his four-year term with a high degree of popularity.

But Ahmadinejad's inability to deliver the basic rights of Iranians began to be felt within a year of his taking office. As the winter of 2006-7 approached, discontent in Iran grew as the economy actually worsened and the prospect of international isolation, attributed largely to Ahmadinejad's style if not his policies, worried the average Iranian. Iranians, like Americans, vote for their president and fully expect him, perhaps as naïvely as we do, to deliver on his campaign promises. Ahmadinejad's promise to fill the bellies of all Iranians with the proceeds of Iran's oil exports had fallen drastically short by that winter, well over a year into his presidency, and after his slate was trounced in municipal and national elections in December, attacks on him in the press, in salons, and in the streets became all too common. Foreign policy, what we were most concerned with when it came to Iran and its unusual leader, was mostly relevant to the Iranian masses only inasmuch as it affected their pocketbooks and, of course, their security. President Ahmadinejad's promises to alleviate Iran's economic woes were no longer believed, and the style of his foreign policy was viewed as having both exacerbated the economic crunch and contributed to the sense of insecurity, even if it continued to defend a nation's rights.

The UN Security Council resolution of December 2006 imposing sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment was viewed in Iran as a foreign policy failure, not because President Ahmadinejad's sometimes belligerent and always defiant insistence that Iran would not give up its rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty was largely disapproved of, but because the result of that resolution was that certain food staples, such as tomatoes, had, since the passage of the resolution, become unaffordable to the Iranian masses.

Iranians inside Iran were neither shy nor fearful in expressing their dissatisfaction with their president, but if his honeymoon with both Iranian voters and the Iranian media had been even shorter lived than President Bush's (his extended by the events of 9/11, as it was), it did not mean that he was politically doomed, nor did it even mean that he couldn't regain his popularity. The Iranian wealthy, certainly the secular, Westernized ones, were taking delight in Ahmadinejad's unpopularity, thankful that at last Iranians from all walks of life were turning against him, but their own lives were actually very little affected by Ahmadinejad's policies. The concern that many had had when he was first elected president--that the social freedoms they had enjoyed under Khatami would be severely curtailed--had not yet materialized, and in Tehran in early 2007 the liberal interpretation of the hijab, along with dating, sex, liquor consumption, and every form of Western influence, continued unabated with the government still turning an, if not blind, then extremely myopic eye.

Many Iranians, particularly the more secular-minded and those in the diaspora, may insist that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does not represent the true Iran or Iranians, that he comes from a place few recognize. His political views may indeed be extreme, maybe more so than those of most of the people who voted for him, but the unrecognizable place he comes from is very much a part of Iran and its culture, and many Iranians can readily identify with him, even if they're dissatisfied with his administration's programs. It's an Iran away from the North Tehran that Western journalists tend to focus upon, where nose jobs are few, where humility and ta'arouf share the spotlight with pride and straightforwardness, but, more important, where the all-encompassing Iranian preoccupation with haq is most conspicuous. Ahmadinejad, the commoner elevated to the ranks of the elite by his fellow common man, where he will firmly remain whether in or out of power as long as there is an Islamic Republic, may care or worry less about the trajectory of his political fortunes than other Iranian statesmen. He may also care less about his and everyone else's worldly boss, the Supreme Leader, whoever he may be at any given time, and it perhaps matters less to him that he be right or wrong on any matter, or that history judge him kindly or harshly. He strongly believes that he stands for the haq of the people, and Ahmadinejad, like so many of his fellow citizens who can identify with him and are yearning for justice, deliverance, and their haq, will continue to proclaim himself their champion.

Hooman Majd is a writer based in New York. He often writes on Iranian affairs, and travels regularly to Iran. He has also served as an advisor and translator for two Iranian presidents, Mohammad Khatami and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on their trips to the United States and the United Nations, and has written about those experiences.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

The 9/11 Commission Rejects own Report as Based on Government Lies

Gordon Duff

How long have we watered the Tree of Deceit with the blood of patriots?

(CINCINNATI, Ohio) - In John Farmers book:The Ground Truth: The Story Behind Americas Defense on 9/11, the author builds the inescapably convincing case that the official version... is almost entirely untrue...

The 9/11 Commission now tells us that the official version of 9/11 was based on false testimony and documents and is almost entirely untrue. The details of this massive cover-up are carefully outlined in a book by John Farmer, who was the Senior Counsel for the 9/11 Commission.

Farmer, Dean of Rutger Universities' School of Law and former Attorney General of New Jersey, was responsible for drafting the original flawed 9/11 report.

Does Farmer have cooperation and agreement from other members of the Commission? Yes. Did they say Bush ordered 9/11? No. Do they say that the 9/11 Commission was lied to by the FBI, CIA, Whitehouse and NORAD? Yes. Is there full documentary proof of this? Yes.

Farmer some level of the government, at some point in time there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened... I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described . The [Norad air defense] tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years. This is not spin

The 9/11 Commission head, Thomas Kean, was the Republican governor of New Jersey. He had the following to say... We to this day dont know why NORAD [the North American Aerospace Command] told us what they told us, it was just so far from the truth. . . " When Bush's own handpicked commission failed to go along with the cover up and requested a criminal investigation, why was nothing done?

9/11 Commission member and former US Senator, Bob Kerrey, says, "No one is more qualified to write the definitive book about the tragedy of 9/11 than John Farmer. Fortunately, he has done so. Even more fortunately the language is clear, alive and instructive for anyone who wants to make certain this never happens again."

With the only "official" 9/11 report now totally false, where do we go from here? Who is hurt by these lies? The families of the victims of 9/11 have fought, for years, to get to the truth. For years, our government has hidden behind lies and secrecy to deny them closure.

In 2006, The Washington Post reported..."Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission..."

What does Farmer's book tell us? Farmer offers no solutions, only a total and full rejection of what was told and his own his own ideas concerning the total failure of honesty on the part of the government, a government with something to hide.

Farmer never tells us what. Nobody could keep a job in the public sector speaking out more than Farmer has. What were Farmer's omissions? There are some. Now that we know that intelligence given the 9/11 Commission wasn't just lies from our own government but based on testimony coerced through torture from informants forced to back up a cover story now proven false, a pattern emerges.

We know that, immediately after 9/11, many more potential suspects and informants were flown directly to Saudi Arabia by Presidential order than were ever detained and questioned. We will never know what they could have said. Their testimony would have been vital to any real investigation were they not put beyond the reach of even Congress and the FBI.

Putting aside all other questions of recent evidence of CIA involvement with bin Laden prior to 9/11 or altered physical evidence involving the Pentagon attack, any failure to call to account the systematic perjury committed by dozens of top government officials, now exposed as a certainty is an offense to every American.

What do we know? We know the conjecture about 9/11 still stands but for certain, we know we were lied to, not in a minor way, but systematically as part of a plot covering up government involvement at nearly every level, perhaps gross negligence, perhaps something with darker intent.

Are we willing to live with another lie to go with the Warren Report, Iran Contra and so many others? Has the sacrifice of thousands more Americans, killed, wounded or irreparably damaged by a war knowingly built on the same lies from the same liars who misled the 9/11 Commission pushed us beyond willingness to confront the truth?

Have we yet found where the lies have begun and ended? There is no evidence of this, only evidence to the contrary. The lies live on and the truth will never be sought. The courage for that task has not been found.

Can anyone call themselves an American if they don't demand, even with the last drop of their blood, that the truth be found?

How long have we watered the Tree of Deceit with the blood of patriots?

Top 10 Americans for monetary reform: #3: President Andrew Jackson

We hold these Truths to be self-evident

The financial crisis in America today could be over almost instantaneously through monetary reform. Monetary reform is a fundamental shift in how America creates money. The shift is from a Robber Baron-era design of banks creating credit to lend to us at interest and ever-increasing debt, to our community (government) creating it for the direct payment of public goods and services. The benefits of monetary reform are conservatively $1 TRILLION every year, the end of the national debt, and full employment.
Please review the links above to fully understand this idea.

The power of monetary reform is evident in history. Napoleonic France quickly became the world’s leading economy and Paris its most beautiful city after ten years of violent revolution that killed or drove-off their economic leadership. Nazi Germany overcame tragic-comic hyperinflation to become the model economy during the Great Depression. These nations were in worse economic conditions than America today (economic power needs to be invested in the public good, not for empire).

This top 10 list of Americans who understood monetary reform deserve your attention. Given our economic condition, you literally have nothing more valuable for your attention.

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) is the last US President to pay-off the national debt. He did so only after ending the Federal Reserve of his day, the privately-owned Second Bank of the United States. The story is told in the 10-minute video below from the Money Masters. As did Thomas Jefferson, Jackson understood the subversive act and perpetual national debt with banks creating money to lend to the government. He did not understand the positive policy response of the government creating money directly for the payment of public goods and services. Jackson critics would respond that he was proficient in killing, and indeed less than capable with constructive policy. In fact, in 1836 President Jackson issued an Executive Order called the Specie Circular that required payment to the government for land to be only in gold or silver. This increased demand and emptied the banks of the day of the fractional gold and silver backing their bank notes, causing bank runs. Jackson and Congress could have issued money directly, as had Napoleon, and then accepted this fiat currency for all payments.

As always, please share this article with all who say they want to be a competent citizen. If you appreciate my work, please subscribe by clicking under the article title (it’s free). Feel free to browse at leisure through my complete titles here.

“The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I will kill it.” (referring to the Second Bank of the US) . - Said to Martin Van Buren (July 8, 1832), quoted in The Autobiography of Martin Van Buren, published in Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1918, vol. II (1920), ed. John Clement Fitzpatrick, ch. XLIII (p. 625)

“I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the Bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out and, by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out.” - From the original minutes of the Philadelphia committee of citizens sent to meet with President Jackson, February 1834, according to Stan V. Henkels, Andrew Jackson and the Bank of the United States, 1928

The following two paragraphs are President Andrew Jackson in his veto message for the renewal of the privately-owned Bank of the United States, which would have continued their private monopoly of creating US money. July 10, 1832.

“It is maintained by some that the bank is a means of executing the constitutional power ‘to coin money and regulate the value thereof.’ Congress have established a mint to coin money and passed laws to regulate the value thereof. The money so coined, with its value so regulated, and such foreign coins as Congress may adopt are the only currency known to the Constitution. But if they have other power to regulate the currency, it was conferred to be exercised by themselves, and not to be transferred to a corporation. If the bank be established for that purpose, with a charter unalterable without its consent, Congress have parted with their power for a term of years, during which the Constitution is a dead letter. It is neither necessary nor proper to transfer its legislative power to such a bank, and therefore unconstitutional…

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society — the farmers, mechanics, and laborers — who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.”

“I have no hesitation to say if they can re-charter the bank (2nd Bank of the US – a privately-owned central bank) with this hydra of corruption they will rule the nation and its charter will be perpetual and its corrupting influence destroy the liberty of our country. When I came into this administration…I had a majority of 75. Since then it is now believed it (the bank) has bought over by loans, discounts, etc until…there were 2/3 for re-chartering it.” – President Andrew Jackson, April 7, 1833 letter to R. H. M. Cryer referring to votes in Congress. Ralph Catterall, The 2nd Bank of the U.S., Univ. of Chicago Press, 1902.

"But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing." - Farewell Address, March 4, 1837.

After President Jackson vetoed Congress’ re-charter the 2nd Bank of the US and paid-off the national debt, President Van Buren (elected 1836) and Jackson’s Vice President, was confident the goal of defending the US from a privately-owned central bank was won:
“The practice of funding the public debt…has long been discontinued…A National Bank has become a completely ‘obsolete idea’ among us, as thoroughly condemned in public opinion as a national debt.” – Catterall, p. 431.

Media Lies And The War Drive Against Iran

In 2001, the London Observer published a series of reports claiming an “Iraqi connection” to al-Qaeda, even describing the base in Iraq where the training of terrorists took place and a facility where anthrax was being made as a weapon of mass destruction.

It was all false.

Supplied by US intelligence and Iraqi exiles, planted stories in the British and US media helped then-US president George Bush and then-British prime minister Tony Blair launch an illegal invasion that has caused, according to the most recent study, 1.3 million deaths.

Something similar is happening over Iran: the same syncopation of government and media “revelations”, the same manufacture of a sense of crisis.

“Showdown looms with Iran over secret nuclear plant”, declared the British Guardian on September 26. “Showdown” is the theme.

High noon. The clock ticking. Good versus evil.

Add a smooth new US president who has “put paid to the Bush years”. An immediate echo is the notorious May 22, 2007 Guardian front page: “Iran’s secret plan for summer offensive to force US out of Iraq”.

Based on unsubstantiated claims by the Pentagon, the writer Simon Tisdall presented as fact an Iranian “plan” to wage war on, and defeat, US forces in Iraq by September of that year — a demonstrable falsehood for which there has been no retraction.

The official jargon for this kind of propaganda is “psy-ops”, the military term for psychological operations. In the Pentagon and Whitehall, it has become a critical component of a diplomatic and military campaign to blockade, isolate and weaken Iran by hyping its “nuclear threat”: a phrase now used incessantly by US President Barack Obama and British PM Gordon Brown, and parroted by the BBC and other broadcasters as objective news.

And it is fake.

On September 16, Newsweek disclosed that major US intelligence agencies had reported to the White House that Iran’s “nuclear status” had not changed since the National Intelligence Estimate of November 2007, which stated with “high confidence” that Iran had halted in 2003 the programme it was alleged to have developed.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has backed this, time and again.

The current propaganda-as-news derives from Obama’s announcement that the US is scrapping missiles stationed on Russia’s border. This serves to cover the fact that the number of US missile sites is actually expanding in Europe and the “redundant” missiles are being redeployed on ships.

The game is to mollify Russia into joining, or not obstructing, the US campaign against Iran.

“President Bush was right”, said Obama, “that Iran’s ballistic missile programme poses a significant threat [to Europe and the US].”

That Iran would contemplate a suicidal attack on the US is preposterous. The threat, as ever, is one-way, with the world’s superpower virtually ensconced on Iran’s borders.

Iran’s crime is its independence. Having thrown out the US’s favourite tyrant, Shah Reza Pahlavi, Iran remains the only resource-rich Muslim state beyond US control. As only Israel has a “right to exist” in the Middle East, the US goal is to cripple the Islamic Republic.

This will allow Israel to divide and dominate the region on Washington’s behalf, undeterred by a confident neighbour. If any country in the world has been handed urgent cause to develop a nuclear “deterrence”, it is Iran.

As one of the original signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran has been a consistent advocate of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. In contrast, Israel has never agreed to an IAEA inspection, and its nuclear weapons plant at Dimona remains an open secret.

Armed with as many as 200 active nuclear warheads, Israel “deplores” UN resolutions calling on it to sign the NPT. Just as it deplored the recent United Nations report charging it with crimes against humanity in Gaza and just as it maintains a world record for violations of international law.

It gets away with this because great power grants it immunity.

Obama’s “showdown” with Iran has another agenda. On both sides of the Atlantic the media have been tasked with preparing the public for endless war.

The US/NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal says 500,000 troops will be required in Afghanistan over five years, NBC reported. The goal is control of the “strategic prize” of the gas and oilfields of the Caspian Sea, central Asia, the Gulf and Iran — in other words, Eurasia.

But the war is opposed by 69% of the British public, 57% of the US public and almost every other human being.

Convincing “us” that Iran is the new demon will not be easy. McChrystal’s spurious claim that Iran “is reportedly training fighters for certain Taliban groups” is as desperate as Brown’s pathetic echo of “a line in the sand”.

During the Bush years, the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said a military coup took place in the US, and the Pentagon is now ascendant in every area of US foreign policy.

A measure of its control is the number of wars of aggression being waged simultaneously and the adoption of a “first-strike” doctrine that has lowered the threshold on nuclear weapons — together with the blurring of the distinction between nuclear and conventional weapons.

All this mocks Obama’s media rhetoric about “a world without nuclear weapons”. In fact, he is the Pentagon’s most important acquisition. His acquiescence with its demand that he keep on Bush’s secretary of “defence” and arch war-maker, Robert Gates, is unique in US history.

He has proved his worth with escalated wars from south Asia to the Horn of Africa. Like Bush’s America, Obama’s America is run by some very dangerous people.

We have a right to be warned. When will those paid to keep the record straight do their job?



上海市人民政府新聞辦公室今日(週三,11月4日)早上公佈,上海迪士尼樂園項目經過中美雙方 多年接觸和談判,本著互惠互利的原則,於本年初簽訂了合作框架協議,並按有關程序向國家有關部門上報了項目申請報告。今年10月底,上海迪士尼項目申請報 告,已獲國家有關部門核准。




聲明說,在“項目申請報告”獲批後,迪士尼公司及其中上海伙伴將可以進行進一步磋商,以達到最 終協議,建設和營連這主題公園,以及開始初步的發展工作。在完成最終協議後,項目的初期會包括一個魔幻王國式的主題公園,它會擁有一些為上海地區而度身訂 造的特色,亦會有一些設施與其他迪士尼樂園一致。




































一架美國海關和邊境護衛飛機和兩架來自威斯康星州國民警衛隊空軍F-16戰鬥機在萊昂越過美國 邊境後對他進行了追逐。最後萊昂降落在密蘇里州埃爾西諾附近的60號公路上,被公路巡邏隊逮捕。在10月31日進行的庭審上,萊昂對美國地區法院法官說, 他有抑鬱症,並曾希望他的飛機會被擊落。


(中國.廣州)美國總統奧巴馬同父異母的弟弟馬克.恩德桑喬(Mark Ndesandjo)今日(週三,11月4日)舉行其首部小說《從內羅畢到深圳》的新書發佈會。他透露,曾在年幼時遭父親老奧巴馬的家庭暴力。






























不幸在新婚夜墜樓身亡的商人是梁俊偉(譯音,洋名Vernon Leong),住在麥波申附近的旁贊路組屋。





































































Housing Vacancy Rate Hits New Record: Media Don't Notice

You would think that an industry that almost completely missed an $8 trillion housing bubble would be trying to do a better job in reporting on the housing market: But that does not appear to be the case. The Census Bureau reported that the number of vacant units hit a new record high yesterday and it appears that no one noticed.

--Dean Baker

FLUkraine: What deadly virus gripping the nation?

Check this link ......

Goldman left foreign investors holding the subprime bag

How Goldman Sachs targeted foreign investors.

NEW YORK — Inside the thick Goldman Sachs investment circular were the details of a secret, $2 billion deal channeled through a Caribbean tax haven.

The Sept. 26, 2006, document offered sophisticated U.S. and European investors an opportunity to buy into a pool of supposedly high-grade bonds backed by residential, commercial and student loans. The transaction was registered through a shell company in the Cayman Islands.

Few of the potential investors knew it, but the ratings of many of the mortgage securities hid their true risks and, in some cases, Goldman's descriptions exaggerated their quality.

The Cayman offering — one of perhaps dozens made through the British territory — occurred as Goldman began to ditch the subprime mortgage business before the U.S. housing market collapsed under an avalanche of homeowner defaults.

In all, Goldman sold more than $57 billion in risky mortgage-backed securities during a 14-month period in 2006 and 2007, including nearly $39 billion issued from mortgages it purchased. Meanwhile, the firm peddled billions of dollars in complex deals, many of them tied to subprime mortgages, in the Caymans and other offshore locations.

Many of those securities later soured, but the sales allowed Goldman to become the only major U.S. investment bank to escape the brunt of the subprime meltdown.

One bond analyst who reviewed the 2006 Cayman deal dismissed it in a report to clients as "a not so cleverly disguised way for Goldman Sachs & Co. to unload its unwanted exposures to the subprime real estate market onto foreign investors."

Goldman spokesman Michael DuVally said that the firm "sold mortgage securities only to sophisticated investors" and disclosed "all the appropriate information available."

McClatchy also found at least two instances in which Goldman appeared to mislead investors. In one, the firm said that $65.3 million in securities were backed by safe "prime" mortgages when the same loans had been labeled a cut below prime in a U.S. offering. In the other, Goldman listed $10 million as "midprime" loans when the underlying mortgages had been made to subprime borrowers with shaky finances.

DuVally said that the descriptions were consistent with the standards set by Moody's, the bond-rating agency.

The secret Cayman Islands deals provide a window into one method that Goldman and other Wall Street firms used to draw European banks and other foreign financial institutions into investing hundreds of billions of dollars in securities tied to risky U.S. home loans.

Experts estimate that Wall Street investment banks sold 25 percent to 50 percent of these bonds and related securities overseas, resulting in massive losses in Europe and elsewhere when the market collapsed.

Last spring, the International Monetary Fund projected that global write-downs on "U.S.-originated assets" stemming from the subprime disaster could reach $2.7 trillion.

Underscoring the role of tax havens as a Wall Street marketing tool, a Treasury Department report found that as of June 30, 2008, $164 billion in U.S. mortgage-backed securities were held in the Cayman Islands and $22 billion more were held in Luxembourg, another tax-friendly zone.

Gary Kopff, a securitization expert who analyzed unpublished industry data, said that Goldman packaged or marketed offshore deals worth at least $83 billion from 2002 to 2008. These deals, called collateralized debt obligations, amounted to a $1.3 trillion global market, and Goldman reaped as much as $1.66 billion for assembling and selling them.

Some of Goldman's subprime mortgage securities wound up in the hands of financially struggling Eastern European governments such as those in Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia, said a Wall Street expert involved in trading those types of securities who declined to be identified because of the matter's sensitivity. This person said that one Slovakian bank's multimillion-dollar investment wound up worthless.

DuVally said the company could find no record of marketing the bonds in those countries, but that the securities may have gotten there through the resale market.

Subprime-backed mortgage securities that were sold at the crest of the housing market in 2006 and 2007 have shown the most precipitous drop in value, with default rates on the underlying mortgages exceeding 30 percent. For many cash-strapped borrowers, it was easy to walk away from soaring monthly payments when their mortgage balances exceeded the lower value of their homes.

The 2006 Cayman deal was part of a flurry of Goldman activity in the hidden, unregulated parts of the securities industry. Goldman's traders also made huge bets that those securities would lose value by buying insurance-like contracts, called credit-default swaps, with private parties. Beginning early in 2007, they bought swaps on a London-based exchange.

Every Goldman bet on the exchange's subprime index, which was run by the London-based financial services company Markit, was on a basket of bonds that included a bundle of its own subprime-related securities.

Germany's Deutsche Bank, the trustee holding mortgages for scores of Goldman's bond offerings, also lists more than 50 private Goldman deals on its Web site. Of those, 42 were backed by risky mortgages.

In marketing exotic deals that typically include subprime mortgage-backed securities, Goldman and other Wall Street firms have long used the Caymans as a gateway to European investors, said an official of a German bank, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and declined to be identified.

The 2006 Cayman deal was outside the reach of U.S. tax laws and free of U.S. regulation. Goldman circulated the deal under the names of Cayman-based Altius III Funding Ltd., and a sister firm registered in Delaware, both created for the sole purpose of facilitating the transaction.

The offering drew a scornful reaction from the bond analyst who warned investment clients to stay away. The analyst's report, a copy of which was obtained by McClatchy, described Goldman as "a single underwriter solely interested in pushing its dirty inventory onto unsuspecting and obviously gullible investors."

". ... In this case, it is a foregone conclusion that many relatively senior bondholders will suffer severe losses," said the analyst's report, which was made available on the condition of anonymity because the offering barred unauthorized disclosure.

McClatchy also learned of a second private Goldman deal, in which it sought in May 2007 via another Cayman company to sell $44.6 million in bonds related to subprime loans written by New Century Financial, a mortgage lender that weeks earlier had careened into bankruptcy after California regulators closed it.

For foreign banks, the lure was spelled AAA. Under both public and private deals, experts said, 80 percent or more of the bonds carried top grades from financial rating companies, assuring investors that the securities were among the safest plays in the financial world.

The triple-A rating was "the clincher," said an official of another German bank, who also wasn't authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

Few investors, however, knew that Goldman and other Wall Street dealers were paying the biggest U.S. financial ratings firms for grading the risky bonds.

Sylvain Raynes, a former analyst for Moody's Investors Service, the largest U.S. rating firm, likened the Wall Street firms' relationships with the rating agencies to hiring "a high-class escort service."

Typically, he said, an investment banker would meet with analysts for a ratings agency, describe a mortgage pool "and propose his dream result."

"The agency would call back after the meeting and intimate that they 'could get there' sight unseen," Raynes said. "Both parties understood what that meant, and the agency would be hired to rate the deal."

After bestowing untold numbers of triple-A ratings on subprime-backed bonds, Moody's and the second- and third-largest rating agencies, Standard & Poor's and Fitch, began to downgrade hundreds of pools of the securities in the summer of 2007, including the offshore deals known as collateralized debt obligations.

That set off a chain reaction that culminated in last year's Wall Street meltdown. Since then, both Moody's and S&P have downgraded slices of the Altius III deal several times.

U.S. pension funds that have lost money on subprime mortgage-backed bonds have filed suits accusing Goldman, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch of failing to inform them of the bonds' true risks. (Merrill is now part of Bank of America.)

Many European institutions that lost money on the securities, however, have fewer legal options.

Few of them are pointing fingers at Goldman or other U.S. investment banks. McClatchy contacted several European banks about their subprime losses and got similar responses when the banks were asked where they'd bought them.

Germany's IKB Deutsche Industriebank, whose 2007 near-collapse from subprime losses awakened Europe to the impending financial crisis, has written off about $19 billion (in current U.S. dollars) related to U.S. mortgages. A spokeswoman for the bank declined to say which investment banks sold it bonds.

Several of Germany's seven regional "landesbanks," or land banks, also took a pounding. With $7.2 billion in aid from the state of Bavaria, Munich-based Bayern LB, Germany's sixth-largest bank, has reserved $8.95 billion for losses in its asset-backed securities portfolio, which includes subprime loans. A Bayern spokesman declined to say who sold the bank the risky bonds.

Spokespeople for the Royal Bank of Scotland, which bought a Dutch subprime subsidiary and has reported tens of billions of dollars in losses, and the French bank Societe General, which lost more than $6 billion, also declined to identify any U.S. investment banks as the source of their problems.

"Are we angry against the U.S. banks?" a German bank official said, requesting anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity. "We looked at the triple A's like the other banks, and we bought this, yeah. It doesn't help much to be angry."

(Tish Wells contributed to this article.)


Goldman Sachs was among the last Wall Street giants to enter the lucrative world of subprime mortgages. However, it didn't take long before the elite investment house was cutting deals with highflying firms, such as California's New Century Financial, whose lax standards would prove disastrous. Perhaps no lender was more emblematic of the subprime mortgage industry's spectacular rise and fall.

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