Friday, December 10, 2010

How to destroy US economy : Regulate Carbon Dioxide

In the course of the first year of the Obama administration, it has become clear to many close observers that it is intent on destroying the U.S. economy and, with it, the Republic.

It has virtually shut down all exploration for energy resources such as oil and natural gas despite the bonus of thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenue.

It has declared war on the mining and use of coal even though coal provides just over half of all the electricity generated nationwide.

Its "Stimulus" bill, at this point, has largely distributed funds to state governments to help them pay for Medicare and other entitlement programs. The program has claimed new jobs in congressional districts that don't even exist.

All the while, unemployment has risen and there is no evidence of any actual new jobs because, sensibly, large businesses and small are waiting to see if Obamacare will take over one-sixth of the nation's economy, slashing billions from Medicare, and raising the cost of health insurance. The other major legislative initiative, Cap-and-Trade is a huge tax on energy use, raising the cost of doing business in America.

"Business Fumes Over Dioxide Rule" was a headline in the December 7 edition of The Wall Street Journal. Considering that one major corporation after another has gone out of its way to demonstrate how "Green" they are, it is a little late in the day for corporate America to wake up to discover that the entire agenda of Green organizations has been to strangle the economy in general and their ability to operate in particular.

Two Obama appointments signaled the Obama administration's intent. One was the appointment of Carol Browner, a former EPA director in the Clinton years and an avowed socialist, as its climate czar, and the appointment of Lisa Jackson as the new Director of the Environmental Protection Agency. Others include the Secretary of the Interior and of Energy, all global warming scare mongers.

Today the EPA announced an "endangerment" finding that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a "pollutant" and thereby subject to EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act. If that is true than everyone exhaling in the nation is, by definition, a polluter. Humans exhale about six pounds of CO2 every day.

In January, I wrote a commentary, "Glorious Carbon Dioxide", that was a look at the science of CO2. It can be found at

One simple fact invalidates the EPA's claim. All life on Earth is dependent on two gases, oxygen and carbon dioxide. A reduction of CO2 would be a reduction of the gas that all vegetation relies upon for its existence, but the EPA claims that a rise in CO2 is responsible for a rise in the overall temperature of the Earth.

The EPA is doing this as a completely natural cooling cycle has been occurring since 1998. It is doing this despite ample scientific data that demonstrates that CO2 does not play any role in the increase of the Earth's average temperature, but in fact increases many decades, even centuries, after such an increase.
It is the Sun that determines the climate of the Earth, not CO2, and the Sun is in a natural cycle called a solar minimum, producing less radiation to warm the Earth.

At times in the Earth's 4.5 billion year history, the amount of CO2 has been much higher than its present concentration of a mere 3.618% of the atmosphere. Estimates of how much man-made CO2 contributes to this tiny amount are set at 0.117%.

Despite this, the EPA is intent on regulating man-made CO2 emissions as if this would make any difference in light of the fact that many other nations also emit CO2 in the process of developing their economies. China and India come to mind and it is no accident that both were exempted from the UN Kyoto Protocols to limit CO2 emissions.

The entire purpose of the current Climate Change Conference taking place is Copenhagen is a treaty to limit CO2 emissions that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asserts is necessary to avoid a "global warming" that is NOT happening.

The conference, however, must ignore revelations that one of its primary providers of climate data, the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, has been deliberately fudging the data, falsifying it to justify the treaty. Another major source of such data has been NASA's climate program, both of which have fought efforts under the Freedom of Information Acts of both the UK and the USA, to require them to make their data available for scientific peer review.

As the Wall Street Journal article points out, "An 'endangerment' finding by the Environmental Protection Agency could pave the way for the government to require businesses that emit carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases to make costly changes in machinery to reduce emissions—even if Congress doesn't pass pending climate-change legislation."

If either the EPA or the climate change legislation called Cap-and-Trade are put in place or enacted, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is on record warning that it would "choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project." It would add to the cost of all electricity by industry, business, and all consumers.

As the Wall Street Journal article notes, "Electricity generation, transportation and industry represent the three largest sources of U.S. greenhouse-gas emission." What it doesn't say is that such emissions play no role in climate change.

Other nations, however, would not be subject to such costs and the result would be a mad rush to move as many U.S. industries as possible to foreign shores. Other businesses would have to shut down or raise the price of everything they produce.

The current Recession would escalate into a full-blown Depression as millions of jobs would disappear or never return.

If that isn't a plan to destroy the economy of the nation, I don't know what is.

Alan Caruba writes a daily post at An author, business and science writer, in 1990 he founded The National Anxiety Center as a clearinghouse for information about "scare campaigns" intended to influence public opinion and policy.

« VERY COOL: Hans Rosling's 200 Countries 200 Years »

Start watching at the 30-second mark.

A living, breathing chart of humanity's wealth and health.


Google Map Foreclosure Tricks

Prepare yourself to be floored:

Google Maps keeps evolving, expanding the ability to drill down into granular detail. The latest updated trick? Mapping foreclosures for sale.

This great and terrible Google trick has been around at least since 2008 — but it seems to have become much more robust earlier this year (See Dregs of the Future‘s post in January 2010).

Our friends at Chart Porn — a blog that got its name from one of our posts (honest!) — remind us of this, with a step-by-step lesson of how to use Google maps:

Google Maps Foreclosure Listings

1. Punch in any US address into Google Maps.

2. Your options are Earth, Satellite, Map, Traffic and . . . More. (Select “More”)

3. The drop down menu gives you a check box option for “Real Estate.”

4. The left column will give you several options (You may have to select “Show Options”)

5. Check the box marked “Foreclosure.”

I wanted to demonstrate the full extent of Foreclosures in the US, so after setting GMaps on foreclosure listings, I slowly zoomed out of the map. Voila! Most foreclosures that are for sale in the USA are now showing on your screen.

Note: This map does not reveal any of the millions of REOs that have already been sold by the banks that hold them.

But the maps do reveal an entire nation littered with foreclosure sales. It is an ugly and graphic depiction of how much inventory is out there, and why housing is stillmany years away from being healthy.

Let’s try to zoom in and see exactly the extent of foreclosures in Florida, one of the biggest boom & bust regions.

(Click the image to enlarge . . . The link for each Google Map is below each screenshot)


Welcome to Foreclosureland:

(America seems to have caught the Measles; Bad real estate deals are apparently contagious)

Click for Google Map


Lets zoom the map on to the state of Florida

(A state that knows a thing or two about bad real estate)

Click for Google Map


Then we can zoom closer — to South Florida

(Thank goodness the Everglades stemmed the tide of foreclosures!)

Click for Google Map


Zoom a bit more . . . Welcome to Miami!

(Playground to wealthy South Americans, Europeans, and other defaulters)

Click for Google Map


Let’s Go Shopping . . . On Miami Beach!

(I’m sure easy financing is still available)

Click for Google Map


The repercussions of the Housing boom & bust are likely to continue for years to come.


UPDATE: December 9th, 2010 10:15am

Jonathan Miller notes his wife’s family comes from Detroit, where the map is nearly solid RED :

Click for larger updated Detroit map

Obama Tax Cut Plan would Increase Taxes for the Poor

Most Americans would benefit from President Obama's tentative deal with Republicans for extending the Bush tax cuts, and economists largely agree it would help stimulate the economy. Yet the plan would actually slightly increase taxes for the poorest Americans, economists say -- at a time when some leaders in Washington are trying to bring attention to the nation's widening income disparity.

The level of income disparity in the U.S. "is really an unacknowledged crisis in our country," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) told Hotsheet.

Schakowsky and other House Democrats met with Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday afternoon to talk about the tax cut deal. Several members of Congress have voiced concerns - both in that meeting and publicly - that the deal gives too much to the wealthy. Not only has the president said he would accept a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for the highest-earning Americans, but he has also accepted an estate tax level that will keep most estates from having to pay anything.

"I don't think it's an exaggeration or hyperbole to say this gush of income to the very top wage earners and the shrinking of the middle class is a crisis," Schakowsky said.

Mr. Obama's plan, which includes several components, is focused largely on sustaining the status quo -- keeping income tax rates the same by extending the Bush tax cuts for all, for example. There are a couple elements of the plan, however, that could make a significant difference to Americans in terms of what they pay in taxes.

Firstly, the "Make Work Pay" credit enacted under Mr. Obama's stimulus plan would be allowed to expire, and a one-year payroll tax cut would be enacted in its place. The payroll tax, which is technically separate from income tax, funds Social Security and Medicare.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center today published a chart comparing the impact of the "Make Work Pay" credit (which gave up to $400 per year to individuals and up to $800 for couples) to the payroll tax cut plan (which would reduce the tax by two percent). It shows that the payroll tax cut will, on average, put more money into the hands of more Americans. The more an individual makes, the larger their tax relief will be; thus, the White House has emphasized middle-income families will take home more than they would with "Make Work Pay."

Obama Calls for Tax Code Overhaul
Obama: Tax Cuts For Wealthy GOP "Holy Grail"

Those on the bottom rung of the income ladder, however, are at a disadvantage. Individuals making under $20,000 per year or households making under $40,000 would receive more money from the "Make Work Pay" credit, since the two percent payroll tax cut would amount to less than $400 or $800.

The difference amounts to just a couple hundred dollars per year -- a few dollars per week. But Schakowsky said it would have a serious impact.

"A few dollars a week can mean your bus fare getting to work," she said. "A few dollars a week adds up at the end of the month toward the rent."

Roberton Williams, an analyst at the Tax Policy Center, agreed.

"If you're making only making $10,000 a year, you're only getting $200 a week -- and $4 out of $200 is serious money," he said. "It is a big deal if it's the difference between having lunch one day or not having lunch that day, or putting breakfast on the table for the kids."

Williams said there's clear evidence that putting cash back into the hands of low-income Americans has a stimulative impact. For instance, he said, there is a huge uptick in food purchases at Walmart on the first day of every month -- when food stamp accounts are replenished. Obama Hits Back at His Liberal Critics Obama "Itching For A Fight" On Issues

"At Midnight the last day of the month, people line up at Walmart and they go through the cash registers buying food," he said, "so they can put breakfast on the table for the kids." That kind of behavior, Williams said, shows that if you give a low-income earner a dollar, "it's going to be spent, and they'll probably spend it before they even get it."

While the "Make Work Pay" may be a more efficient form of stimulus, Williams said the payroll tax cut plan would have a larger overall impact on the economy, simply because it invests twice as much money.

Still, Williams noted that Mr. Obama campaigned on the platform of revising the tax code to address income disparity. "This turns that on its head," he said.

Democrats concerned about income disparity have also protested the way the estate tax is fashioned in Mr. Obama's plan. Currently, there is no estate tax, but in 2009, House Democrats passed a bill to set the tax at 45 percent on estate transactions of more than $3.5 million. Mr. Obama's plan would set the tax at 35 percent on estate transactions of more than $5 million for the next two years. Williams said the plan is "so generous" it will only affect one in every 800 estates.

Schakowsky called the estate tax "the most offensive part" of Mr. Obama's plan.

"There's absolutely zero rationale for a handful of Americans benefiting as they do from this giveaway to the filthy rich," she said.

Several other House Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have decried the estate tax plan.

Schakowsky said there is a lot of opposition to the plan among House Democrats. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) described today's caucus meeting with Biden as "contentious" and said the vice president did not signal any willingness or opportunity to change the deal, CBS News Senior Political Producer Jill Jackson reports.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said after the meeting that he believes there will be a number of Democrats who vote against the package, Jackson reports. However, he said he thinks "there are a lot of people prepared to support this package. Perhaps holding their nose or someone else's nose."

Obama Announces Tentative Pact on Bush Tax Cuts
House Dem Peter Welch: Obama's Tax Cut Plan Will Backfire
What Deficit? Tax Deal Comes With Major Costs
Tax Cut Deal Reveals Obama 2.0
Who Stands in the Way of Obama's Tax Cut Deal?
For Obama, Championing Compromise May Be Lonely

Treasury Blocks Legal Aid for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure

With the media’s laser-like focus on the Obama-Republican tax deal, here’s a story that’s underreported: the Obama Administration’s coddling of the Big Banks and simultaneous neglect of homeowners facing foreclosure.

Consider this: the recent Fed audit revealed over $3.3 trillion in emergency assistance to the banks and other corporate behemoths during the financial crisis--no strings attached. Two trillion dollars to Morgan Stanley here, $600 billion to Goldman there, throw in a little chump change for McDonald’s, GE, others--no demands to increase lending to small businesses, or modify mortgages for unemployed homeowners, for example.

Then consider the 19 states which are recipients of the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF)--a portion of TARP money set aside to help homeowners in states struggling with the highest unemployment rates and steepest declines in the housing market.

Some of those states, including Ohio, let Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner know as far back as this past spring that they wanted to use some of those funds to assist legal aid groups that help individual homeowners. Seems like a reasonable request--unlike the absurdity of handing over trillions of dollars to robo-signing, foreclosure-mad banks, no questions asked.

Treasury solicited the opinion of an outside law firm, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. Never mind that the firm’s clients include BB&T Corporation and payday lender CNG Financial Corp. The firm said, in essence--sorry, no can do on the legal aid. Not permitted under the TARP.

Huh? Hold on a sec--is this the same TARP that granted the Treasury Secretary all those “extraordinary powers” to protect people’s home values, preserve home ownership, promote economic growth, etc.?

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur wasted no time in challenging Treasury’s interpretation. This comes as no surprise. The feisty, maverick Ohioan has consistently been ahead of the curve in the foreclosure fight--attempting to increase the number of FBI agents working on foreclosure fraud as far back as June 2009. She also told homeowners to demand that foreclosing banks “produce the note” back in 2008, more than two years before the robo-signing scandal revealed the extent to which banks are illegally foreclosing on people.

Kaptur let Treasury know that the interpretation was just plain wrong.

“We talked with Secretary Geithner about this back in June--we had mailed him letters,” said Kaptur. “But of course with the big banks in charge, Treasury is sadly representing them more than the people being affected by this around the country and in places like Ohio. It didn’t have to be this way. And the carnage across the countryside in terms of empty neighborhoods, families destroyed, going into our shelters--it didn’t have to happen.”

Senator Sherrod Brown also wrote Secretary Geithner on June 1 questioning Treasury’s refusal to allow states to use TARP money to help homeowners obtain legal aid services.

“The purposes of [TARP] are restoring liquidity and stability to the financial system and using TARP funds in a manner that, among other things, protects home values, preserves homeownership, and promotes jobs and economic growth. Both legal services and homeowner counseling would seem to fit squarely within these purposes.” Senator Brown goes on to note, “Section 109(a) says that TARP funds can be used for programs to minimize foreclosures, and legal services are such a program.”

Receiving no indication that Treasury would budge on the issue, Representative Kaptur introduced a bill in June to amend the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 so that TARP money could be used “to provide assistance to nonprofit counseling intermediaries and nonprofit legal organizations to provide legal assistance to homeowners.” It is limited to single family homeowners who occupy the house and it prohibits use of the funds for class action lawsuits. Senator Brown introduced a companion bill last month.

Let’s get this straight--this legislation doesn’t involve any new money--the money is already out the door. It doesn’t even require states to use that money to support legal aid, it just gives them the option if they so choose. States’ rights--now that’s something even the GOP should be able to support.

“Legal aid lawyers are on the front line of the housing crisis, and their hard work is often the only thing helping homeowners understand their rights in foreclosure,” Senator Brown told me in an e-mail. “Unlike many of the foreclosure prevention programs already in place, providing legal services with adequate resources is a simple, straightforward way of helping families keep their homes without providing a windfall to the banks.”

One of Brown’s constituents described trying to deal with the banks on his own this way: “In 1999, I was diagnosed with cancer. I endured two surgeries and a brutal year of chemotherapy. My experiences with [my servicer] have been worse than having cancer.”

Kaptur also related how critical legal representation is for people currently going it alone.

“Even in a judicial foreclosure state like Ohio--where the foreclosure has to go through the courts--the property owner is distraught, really at the end of their rope, and generally doesn’t even think that they have a right to legal representation,” said Kaptur. “I can tell you that happened to two of my neighbors--women, both working--both have jobs. They simply were so ashamed they walked away from their equity and their property.”

Another state receiving TARP money through the Hardest Hit Fund is Georgia. The AFL-CIO has been very active there in helping members facing foreclosures, and Charlie Flemming, president of the Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council, praised this legislation.

“Homeowners who are able to work with Atlanta Legal Aide, compared to people who have to go it alone against the big banks--it’s like night and day when it comes to getting mortgage modifications,” said Flemming. “The squeaky wheel definitely gets the grease. But these legal aid groups are understaffed and way under-funded.”

If you trust banks--that they haven’t made mistakes and every foreclosure that’s moved forward is a simple paperwork error--then this bill probably isn’t for you.

But if you live on this planet, then you know that the real story is more along the lines of what’s revealed in a recent GAO report cited by Senator Brown at a hearing last month: “Between 14,000 and 34,000 families in cities like Cleveland, Akron, and Columbus have been unnecessarily forced out of their homes.”

Urge your Representative to cosponsor the Kaptur bill (HR 5510) and encourage Democratic Leadership to move it before recess. Tell your Senator to cosponsor the Brown bill (S. 3979). And while you’re at it, tell Treasury to get on board and allow states to use the Hardest Hit Funds as they see fit.

“The courts--the judicial system of this country--is what is left in terms of gaining fair treatment under the law for homeowners,” said Kaptur.

I Won't Invest Another Penny Until the Criminals Who Caused the Financial Crisis Are Safely in Jail

Here's an idea for a bumper sticker:

I Won't Invest Another Penny Until the Criminals Who Caused the Financial Crisis Are Safely in Jail

Can you imagine how much pressure would be put on the government to start real prosecutions if a million of us put that on our cars and elsewhere?

Stand up and show that we have leverage ... put it on your car, flyers, posters and freeway blogs.

And a reader named Jeff just sent me the following idea for a bumper sticker:

Austerity and prosecution for the bankers.
Austerity for the government including the military.
Then we can talk about austerity for the rest of us.

Ireland proposes 90% bank bonus tax

Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said on Thursday he would impose a 90 per cent tax on bankers’ bonuses, in a move to try to silence critics who have said the banking sector drove Ireland into the ground.

“As far as the future is concerned I do propose to introduce the amendment to the finance bill to put this matter beyond any doubt and provide a high rate, a 90 per cent rate of charge on any ... bankers’ bonuses,” Mr. Lenihan told local radio.

Republicans Block U.S. Health Aid for 9/11 Workers

Drew Angerer/The New York Times

Senators Kirsten E. Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer of New York during a news conference after the 9/11 health bill failed to advance in the Senate on Thursday.

WASHINGTON — Republican senators blocked Democratic legislation on Thursday that sought to provide medical care to rescue workers and others who became ill as a result of breathing in toxic fumes, dust and smoke at the site of the World Trade Center attack in 2001.

The 9/11 health bill, a version of which was approved by the House of Representatives in September, was among several initiatives that Senate Democrats had hoped to approve before the close of the 111th Congress. Supporters believe this was their last real opportunity to have the bill passed.

The action by the Senate created huge uncertainty over the bill’s future. Its proponents were working on Thursday to salvage the legislation, with one possibility being to have it inserted into a large tax-cut bill that Republicans and Democrats are trying to pass before Congress ends its current session.

Such a move seemed unlikely, since it might complicate passage of the tax package, which includes a provision that President Obama sought in return for backing the continuation of tax cuts for all income levels that Republicans wanted: an extension of unemployment benefits.

In a vote largely along party lines, the Senate rejected a procedural move by Democrats to end debate on the 9/11 health bill and to bring it to a vote; 60 yes votes were needed, but the move received 57, with 42 votes against.

Republicans have been raising concerns about how to pay for the $7.4 billion measure, while Democrats, led by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York, have argued that there was a moral obligation to assist those who put their lives at risk during rescue and cleanup operations at ground zero.

The bill is formally known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, named after a New York police detective who participated in the rescue efforts at ground zero. He later developed breathing complications that were common to first responders at the site, and he died in January 2006. The cause of his death became a source of debate after the city’s medical examiner concluded that it was not directly related to the attacks.

After the vote, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, a chief sponsor of the bill in the House, argued that Democrats should include the 9/11 health bill in the larger tax-cut legislation and, in the process, dare Republicans to oppose it in that context. Ms. Maloney added that the tax bill was the one piece of legislation that “Republicans won’t leave this town without passing.”

As the day wore on, it appeared increasingly unlikely that the Senate would include a provision providing health care for ground zero workers in any tax package it brought to the floor, according to senior Capitol Hill officials. But supporters of the 9/11 legislation said there was a possibility they could persuade Democratic leaders in the House to include it in any tax-cut plan that the chamber approved and win Senate approval during negotiations over differences in measures passed by the two chambers.

The Senate action was a blow to sponsors of the bill, who mobilized a network of allies across the political spectrum to lobby on its behalf, including the New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Ms. Gillibrand, the chief sponsor in the Senate, even reached out to former President George W. Bush. But her aides say Mr. Bush did not respond to her entreaties.

In a statement, the mayor chastised Senate Republicans for their “wrongheaded political strategy” and called on them to allow a floor vote on the bill. “The attacks of 9/11 were attacks on America,” he said, “and we have a collective responsibility to care for the heroes, from all 50 states, who answered the call of duty, saved lives and helped our nation recover.”

The bill calls for providing $3.2 billion over the next eight years to monitor and treat injuries stemming from exposure to toxic dust and debris at ground zero. New York City would pay 10 percent of those health costs.

The bill would also set aside $4.2 billion to reopen the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to provide payments for job and economic losses.

In addition, the bill includes a provision that would allow money from the Victim Compensation Fund to be paid to any eligible claimant who receives a payment under the settlement of lawsuits that 10,000 rescue and cleanup workers recently reached with the city.

Now, those who receive a settlement from the city are limited in how much compensation they can get from the fund, according to the bill’s sponsors.

There are nearly 60,000 people enrolled in health monitoring and treatment programs related to the 9/11 attacks, according to the sponsors of the bill. The federal government provides the bulk of the money for those programs.

If the bill is not adopted by the current Congress, its supporters will have start over again next year. With Republicans set to take control of the House, passing the bill in that chamber will be extremely difficult, the bill’s supporters say. That is a large part of the reason backers of the measure were pleading with Senate leaders to get it passed by this Congress.

San Francisco Federal Reserve: $819B stimulus results in exactly zero permanent jobs

Jeff Dunetz at RWN posts this entertaining piece on how well the stimulus worked out for us.

According to, the President's website designed to track the stimulus plan, the $800 Billion plus porkulous bill passed in February 2009 is responsible for 3,348,813 jobs. According to a new analysis conducted by the San Fransisco office of the Federal Reserve, the president's projection is off by only 3,348,813 jobs. That's correct The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 created exactly zero permanent jobs.

Those of us who are still unemployed or even those who simply watch the unemployment numbers know that the stimulus bill was a failure, but what this study shows is that we could have saved the $800+ Billion. Jobs would have been almost the same and the federal deficit would have been in better shape. I say almost becase the plan did create short term jobs but they are long gone. The study also kills the Democratic party argument that we would have fallen into a depression without the Presidential porkage because for all intents and purposes, based on the effect of the plan, there was very little help to the economy:

Wilson’s [SF Federal Reserve] study makes an important contribution to this debate by focusing on state-by-state comparisons. A large portion of stimulus funding at the state level was based on criteria that were entirely independent of the economic situation that states faced. For example, the number of existing highway miles was used to calculate additional transportation spending.

The study uses this resulting variation in state-level stimulus funding to determine what impact ARRA funding had on employment — including both the direct impact of workers hired to complete planned projects, as well as any broader spillover effects resulting from greater government spending. Administration economists have repeatedly emphasized the importance of this indirect employment growth in driving economic recovery.
The results suggest that though the program did result in 2 million jobs “created or saved” by March 2010, net job creation was statistically indistinguishable from zero by August of this year. Taken at face value, this would suggest that the stimulus program (with an overall cost of $814 billion) worked only to generate temporary jobs at a cost of over $400,000 per worker. Even if the stimulus had in fact generated this level of employment as a durable outcome, it would still have been an extremely expensive way to generate employment.

It gets better, because the study also shows that stimulus generated federal assistance to state Medicaid plans may have cost jobs.

One possibility is that requirements to maintain full Medicaid benefits in order to receive federal aid proved sufficiently expensive that state governments pushed though additional rounds of layoffs in non-health related areas.

The report says cautions not to regard it as infallible but:

The burden of proof is now increasingly on the side of fiscal stimulus advocates. It is easy to point out possible flaws in each of the studies mentioned here — though the biases may end up either exaggerating or diminishing the estimates of the effects of the stimulus. But where is the evidence that the 2009 ARRA fiscal stimulus enhanced employment recovery in a cost-effective and sustainable manner?

Is anti-Fed feeling going mainstream?

We've told you about the war on the Federal Reserve launched lately by conservatives. And now comes evidence that it could be gaining some traction in the court of public opinion.

Fifty-five percent of Americans say the central bank should either be reined in or abolished entirely, according to a new Bloomberg poll. Thirty-seven percent say it should be left as is.

Since the Fed last month announced plans to buy $600 billion in Treasury bonds in an effort to jolt the slumbering economy, small-government conservatives have gone ballistic. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has said the move could weaken the dollar, and Sarah Palin -- not usually cited as an authority on monetary policy -- has warned that the move will lead to rising prices, going so far as to invoke the hyper-inflation of 1920s Germany.

The attacks have been so intense that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has launched a counter-offensive, going on "60 Minutes" to defend the asset purchases as a source of much-needed economic stimulus.

Conservatives appear to oppose on principle the idea of the Fed intervening in the economy to bring down unemployment. But that's part of its mandate, as laid out by Congress. That's why two Republicans -- Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana -- want to change that mandate, so that the Fed focuses only on controlling inflation, and no longer on fighting joblessness. They've said they'll introduce a bill to do that next year.

At the heart of the conservative response is the charge that the central bank, traditionally independent, is meddling in politics. "Getting the Fed back to its original mission on price stability is precisely how we get politics out of monetary policy," Pence told an audience at a recent policy forum.

It's not only conservatives who have turned against the Fed of late. The central bank angered many on both sides of the political divide by helping to prop up the major Wall Street banks as part of the government's effort to avoid a collapse of the financial sector. Last week, we learned that the Fed lent an eye-popping $9 trillion to banking behemoths including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America. The information was released because Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-described socialist, successfully pushed a bill to audit the Fed.

(Photo of Bernanke: AP/Dennis Cook)

Graffiti Riot: Paint bombs fly at cops as students rage in London

Click this link ......

« JPMorgan, Bank Of America Municipal Bond Scam May Be 'Tip of the Iceberg' »

Jamie Dimon thinks about the culture of fraud he's built at Chase.

Bid-rigging always seems like such an easy game. At least until someone at Bank of America gets scared and starts talking to the Feds. Uh-oh...

We started coverage of this story yesterday...

More color is leaking, and it appears other large banks have been implicated in the fraud. Imagine that.


Source - Bloomberg

Bank of America Corp.’s agreement to pay $137 million in restitution for taking part in a nationwide bid-rigging conspiracy for municipal-investment contracts may soon be followed by more settlements to repay the scheme’s victims, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division head said.

  • “Stay tuned to this channel -- I think you will see a lot more activity in the coming weeks and months,” Christine Varney, the antitrust chief, told reporters yesterday. “We are committed to getting restitution, full restitution, to all the municipalities that were victims of this scheme.”

Bank of America, which has assisted the government probe of the $2.8 trillion municipal-bond market since at least 2007 in return for leniency, has provided documents, e-mails and recordings of phone calls, according to court records of civil suits. In September, Douglas Lee Campbell, formerly employed by the bank’s municipal derivatives group, pleaded guilty to taking part in a conspiracy to pay state and local governments below- market rates on investments purchased with bond proceeds.

  • Bank of America’s settlement is “likely the tip of the iceberg,”Andrew Gavil, a law professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., said in an e-mail. He said other conspirators may pay much higher penalties.

The government has identified more than a dozen firms, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., UBS AG, and Societe Generale as unindicted co-conspirators in a criminal case brought by the Justice Department against a Los Angeles investment broker.

JPMorgan, UBS, a unit of General Electric Co. and a former subsidiary of Belgian bank Dexia SA have also reported in regulatory filings that they face civil suits by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The companies say they are cooperating with the government.

  • “I had conversations prior to the bid with the broker about who the bidders were going to be and who was going to win or lose,” Campbell, the former Bank of America executive, told a federal judge when he pleaded guilty on Sept. 9, according to a court transcript.

Eight one-time bankers and financial advisers, including former employees of UBS, JPMorgan and Bank of America, have pleaded guilty in connection with the municipal bid-rigging probe.

Continue reading...

William Black With Dylan Ratigan: "There Is Bank Fraud Everywhere And BERNANKE Is Leading The Cover-Up," PLUS Part 2 Of 'Seize Bank Of America'...


J.P. Morgan and the Great Silver Caper

12/08/10 Laguna Beach, California – There’s a lot of rumor, buzz, innuendo, chitchat and scuttlebutt about the precious metals markets these days. Most of the chitchat is about J.P. Morgan and silver. Rumor has it that J.P. Morgan has amassed a whopping short position in silver.

The scuttlebutt, according to, is that “J.P. Morgan holds a giant short position in silver. Furthermore, some observers are accusing the bank of acting as an agent for the Federal Reserve in the market…I.e., a lower silver price helps maintain the relative appeal of the US dollar…

“By selling massive amounts of paper silver in the futures market,” SFGate continues, “J.P. Morgan has been able to suppress the price of the precious metal. It is believed that these short positions are naked (i.e. they are not backed by any physical silver).”

If the silver price were falling, Morgan’s (alleged) short position would be lauded as a stroke of genius. But since the silver price is soaring, Morgan’s (alleged) short position looks much less laudable.

“In recent days,” SFGate notes, “rumors have been swirling on the Internet that J.P. Morgan’s massive short position is about to blow up in its face in the form of an almighty short squeeze and potential COMEX default, as large traders demand physical delivery of silver that COMEX does not have in its vaults.”

Based on some of the latest conjecture, Morgan’s short position totals a whopping 3.3 billion ounces. If, therefore, the buzz about J.P. Morgan and silver is even half true, the prestigious investment bank could be cruisin’ for bruisin’.

For perspective, 3.3 billion ounces is roughly equal to:

1) One third of all the world’s known silver deposits;

2) Two times the world’s approximate stockpiles of silver bullion;

3) Four times the annual mined supply of silver;

4) 30 times the inventory of silver at the COMEX.

To repeat, short positions – even titanic ones – are no big deal, as long as the price of the underlying asset is falling. But if, inconveniently, it is rising, the spaghetti can hit the fan in spectacular and gruesome fashion.

The silver price is rising…a lot. From less than $10 an ounce two years ago, the silver price has more than tripled. Therefore, if J.P. Morgan does, in fact, hold a 3.3 billion ounce short position, every one-dollar increase in the silver price would produce a loss of $3.3 billion…at least on paper.

Unfortunately, Morgan cannot simply unwind this trade with a couple of mouse-clicks in an E*trade account. The position is too large, both in relation to the world’s physical supplies of silver and in relation to the paper “supplies.” (Morgan holds almost half of all short positions on the COMEX, which is essentially a “paper market” – participants rarely take delivery of physical silver).

To make matters even more dicey for Morgan, the supplies of physical silver are disappearing rapidly from the marketplace. Increasingly, the kinds of folks who invest in precious metals are also the kinds of folks who distrust intermediaries. These precious metals investors want to know that the shiny stuff is in their personal possession.

Meanwhile, the ETFs that hold precious metals are soaking up massive quantities of physical metal. Over the last 12 months, the silver ETFs around the globe have increased their holdings by nearly 100 million ounces – or almost as much silver as the entire inventory of the COMEX. The trend in gold is identical.

Total Known ETF Holdings of Silver

Therefore, as a result of soaring demand from both individual investors and ETFs, the physical stockpiles of gold and silver are atrophying in relation to the paper claims on both metals. This is not a pleasant picture for a short seller of silver.

Furthermore, the kinds of folks who tend to buy gold and silver are also the kinds of folks who have contempt for Wall Street…and for Wall Street banks like J.P. Morgan. So it should come as no surprise that a grassroots campaign has formed – the sole purpose of which is to punish J.P. Morgan for its attempted manipulation of the silver market.

“A viral campaign (Crash JP Morgue Video [below]) to buy a physical silver and ‘crash’ the bank is now spreading like wildfire on the Internet,” SFGate reports. “Just Google, ‘Crash JP Morgan Buy Silver’ [to learn more about it]… Those who wish to participate in squeezing the living daylights out of J.P. Morgan, may want to consider buying physical silver, silver futures and SLV.”

Maybe this story about J.P Morgan’s short position in silver is mere innuendo. Maybe not. But two facts are irrefutable:

1) J.P. Morgan is already under investigation by the CFTC for manipulating the silver market. “The investigation into the bank can be traced back to November 2009,” SFGate reports, “when London metals trader and whistleblower Andrew Maguire contacted the CFTC to report market manipulation prior to it actually occurring.”

2) Precious metals investors are increasingly keen to get their hands on physical gold and silver, rather than mere paper facsimiles.

Eric Fry

Read more: J.P. Morgan and the Great Silver Caper

Student clashes as UK parliament says yes to fees hike

London is clearing up following another day of violent student protests that are being described as the worst unrest the capital has seen in a decade. The clashes broke out as lawmakers approved a hike in university fees on Thursday.

The streets, where tens of thousands of angry students marched towards parliament, are returning to normal, with barriers being put back up around Parliament Square and broken windows being repaired.

The Treasury and the Supreme Court were vandalized. Windows were smashed and some of the protesters tried to get inside.

The Metropolitan Police reported 34 arrests for a variety of offences ranging from violent disorder and arson to criminal damage.

At least ten officers were taken to hospital, one seriously injured – he was knocked unconscious during a scuffle. Some 38 protesters were also injured in the demonstration.

The police issued a strong statement following the rally saying their officers had come to work to facilitate a peaceful demonstration, but were met by a barrage of violence. Protesters were throwing fences at them, and missiles such as bottles.

The majority of action was around the Houses of Parliament, however some protesters broke away to the main shopping streets of London.

Demonstrators locked themselves inside Top Shop’s flagship store and vandalized it. The store had also been attacked last weekend. They were protesting against Top Shop owner Phillip Green. He is accused by the demonstrators of registering some of his companies offshore to avoid paying UK tax. Some of the demonstrators see his alleged actions as a symbol of what they are fighting against: the rich few taking advantage of their position in order not to pay taxes, making less-well off people pay more and contributing to the need for government cuts.

Members of the RMT union, one of the most powerful trade unions in the country, joined the student protests which were taking place not just in London, but around the country.

The hike in fees was backed on Thursday by a reduced majority of 21 votes. Even before the government voiced its decision, small groups of protesters at the London rally threw flares, billiard balls and paint bombs at police. Officers, some on horses, reinforced the security cordon.

Members of the British royal family were also targeted by protesters. A car taking Prince Charles and his wife Camilla to the theater was attacked – one of its windows was smashed and the vehicle was covered in paint.

The police seem determined not to let the protesters get away with the attack on the royal family or the Treasury. On Thursday night, when officers were dispersing the demonstrators, they fed some onto a bridge and let them out one by one so they could identify the suspects who vandalized the Treasury, based on CCTV pictures.

Adam Lambert, a former student, says his education did not cost him anything like what the UK government has voted for. He believes lots of students will not be able to afford higher education.

“Nine thousand pounds a year will prevent thousands of ordinary people from going to university,” he said. “They are making an education system which is only available for the rich. There is another example… the government is trying to make ordinary people pay for a crisis which the rich created.”

Another student, Sarah Creagh, says the government’s decision is violence and it will destroy people’s lives.

“Well, I think that what we have seen is the real violence… And I think the real violence comes from the government,” she said. “They are completely smashing up our education system, smashing up entire public services.”

Many commentators are saying that these protests are just the beginning of what will be a winter of discontent for Europe. One of them is Chris Knight, a professor at the University of East London and a frequent demonstrator.

“For me this is the spirit of 1968 come again,” he said. “In 1968 we saw it in Paris and Prague, young people leading this struggle for freedom: first the students moved, then the workers. This is exactly what’s happening here, except I think it will be on a much bigger scale, all across Europe.”

There has been a series of protests in Europe this year, starting last summer when rallies were held in Greece, Spain and France.

There was also a large demonstration in Ireland this week, as the Irish parliament voted for the toughest budget in its history to secure the $114 billion bailout from the IMF and EU.

Thursday morning’s papers reported that Allied Irish Banks, which has been bailed out, plans to pay 40 million euros in bonuses to employees next week – immediately in the wake of that austerity budget – news which has added to the anger.

Germany, which is paying the biggest part of the European bailouts has witnessed anger too.

German taxpayers do not agree that they should bailout other countries that cannot effectively manage their finance.

Sam Bowman, research manager at Adam Smith Institute – a free-market think-tank – believes 2011 will be a very difficult year for the eurozone.

“It wouldn’t take a genius to see that there is a crisis approaching in the eurozone a major continent-wide crisis. I think it is probably because of the government debts… So I think we are probably going to see quite a difficult year for the eurozone, if not the end of the eurozone,” Bowman said.

He sees a possible solution in returning to the previous economy model, with countries reverting to their former currencies.

“I think the sooner the better really. I think we need to start looking to the future, looking at how countries can return to their old currencies, turn to a way that they are able to get out of these kind of high or low interest bubbles that the euro was creating and get into a position where they have a currency which suits their own economy.”

Lee Rotherham from the Taxpayers Alliance says that the current situation is not unexpected.

“It’s been rather off the radar of late, and frankly it’s been too little too late…There have been a number of people who have been saying that it’s a systemic crisis – this has been part of the eurozone package for the last 10-20 years,” Rotherham said.

He says the situation might become even worse and that people will continue to protest, with more and more joining them.

“I think it’ll certainly go on to the new year; there will be a lot more protests as a lot more people get out onto the streets,” he predicted.

British Labor MP Jeremy Corbyn believes the increase in student fees in the UK will have disastrous consequences.

“The increase of 300 per cent in student fees, which is what the government is proposing to put through tomorrow, is absolutely monstrous,” he said. “It will saddle future generations of students with debts of 27,000 pounds for fees, plus much larger debts in some cases for living accommodation. So what we see is the end of access to higher education for people of average and below-average income.”

Corbyn says the fees hike would result in the country’s population becoming less educated and qualified, which will do enormous damage to the international standing of British universities.

Lindsey German, a member of the Coalition of Resistance, says people in Britain think higher education should be free and accessible to all.

“So, there is an alternative [to austerity measures] through many other ways – education should be funded. We could stop spending money on wars, we could start making people pay their taxes, many of the richest individuals and biggest corporations pay very little taxes,” she told RT.

“People are saying, ‘why should the poorest pay for these austerity measures?’”, she added.

« Bernanke Is STILL Withholding Collateral Data for $885 Billion in Financial Crisis Loans »

Source - Bloomberg

The Federal Reserve withheld details on individual securities pledged as collateral by recipients of $885 billion in central bank loans, denying taxpayers a measure of the risks they faced from its emergency aid.

The central bank released data on 21,000 transactions from $3.3 trillion in emergency lending to stem the financial crisis. July’s Dodd-Frank law required the Fed to disclose the names of borrowers, the size and interest rates of loans, and “information identifying the types and amounts of collateral pledged or assets transferred.”

For three of the Fed’s six emergency facilities, the central bank released information on groups of collateral it accepted by asset type and rating, without specifying individual securities. Among them was the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, created in March 2008 to provide loans to brokers as Bear Stearns Cos. collapsed.

“This is a half-step,” said former Atlanta Fed research directorRobert Eisenbeis, chief monetary economist at Cumberland Advisors Inc. in Sarasota, Florida. “If you were going to audit the facilities, then would this enable you to do an audit? The answer is ‘No,’ you would have to go in and look at the individual amounts of collateral and how it was broken down to do that. And that is the spirit of what the requirements were in Dodd-Frank.”

The loans extended to primary dealers under the PDCF by the New York Fed were recourse loans, meaning the potential liability of borrowers who defaulted was greater than the value of the collateral pledged, according to the Fed. Primary dealers are the firms authorized to deal in government securities directly with the Fed. At its peak, borrowing under the facility came to about $156 billion.

Over the life of the PDCF, $1.5 trillion of collateral with “ratings unavailable” was pledged, according to the Fed data. That’s larger than the $1.39 trillion of municipal debt pledged. Corporate debt posted totaled $2.35 trillion.

A total of $8.95 trillion was lent over the life of the PDCF, backed by $9.67 trillion in collateral.

The Fed authorized its New York branch to establish the PDCF on March 16, 2008, the same day it made commitments to convince JPMorgan Chase & Co. to buy troubled dealer Bear Stearns. A run on New York-based Bear Stearns was seen as threatening the stability of global markets, and the PDCF for the first time allowed dealers to borrow on a collateralized basis from the New York Fed.

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No wonder the Fed fears Ron Paul...

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Wikileaks: The swedish groupie of Julian Assange

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Welcome to Shangri La - The temple to excess tobacco money built!

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« Money For Nothing: Goldman Sachs Borrowed $24 Billion From Fed At 0.0078 Percent »

Bernanke is not a loan shark to those he loves...

So if Goldman was getting free cash from The Ben Ber-Nank, the situation at 85 Broad must have been really dicey later on when Blankfein turned to Buffett.


NEW YORK -- For the lucky few on Wall Street, the Federal Reserve sure was sweet. Nine firms -- five of them foreign -- were able to borrow between $5.2 billion and $6.2 billion in U.S. government securities, which effectively act like cash on Wall Street, for four-week intervals while paying one-time fees that amounted to the minuscule rate of 0.0078 percent.

That is not a typo.

On 33 separate transactions, the lucky nine were able to borrow billions as part of a crisis-era Fed program that lent the securities, known as Treasuries, for 28-day chunks to the now-18 firms known as primary dealers that are empowered to trade with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The program, called the Term Securities Lending Facility, ensured that the firms had cash on hand to lend, invest and trade. The market was freezing up. Effectively free money, courtesy of Uncle Sam, helped it thaw.

The European firms -- Credit Suisse (Switzerland), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Royal Bank of Scotland (U.K.), Barclays (U.K.), and BNP Paribas (France) -- borrowed $5.2-6.2 billion in Treasuries 20 different times. The one-time fees they paid on each transaction ranged from $403,277.78 to $481,110. Deutsche led the way with seven such deals.

On each transaction, the fee paid for the 28-day loan is equal to a rate of just 0.0078%.

The first of these sweetheart deals began April 17, 2008. They ended nearly a year later on March 5. On that day, Goldman Sachs borrowed about $5.8 billion and paid just $450,000 for the privilege.

Goldman was one of four American firms that also paid that rock-bottom rate. Citigroup, defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch, which was gobbled up by Bank of America in a government-pushed transaction, benefited from the save-Wall-Street-at-all-costs approach. Goldman and Citi got the 0.0078 percent rate on five separate occasions, tops among U.S. banks.

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QE2 for dummies...


Will the gold price go higher?

The price of gold has risen 27% this year and gold funds have returned up to 90%.

Richard Evans

Gold has had an incredible year. The price on the last trading day of 2009 stood at $1,085 an ounce; it has since risen to about $1,380, a rise of 27pc.

It has been higher still: the gold price struck its highest ever level of $1,421 on November 9.

There doesn't seem to be much doubt about the cause of this bull market. All the analysts we spoke to agreed that "quantitative easing" – or printing money – by central banks had sparked fears over the value of paper currencies, spurring investors to switch to more tangible assets.

By acting as a trusted store of value in times of uncertainty, gold was reverting to its ancient role. In particular, investors were using it as a hedge against inflation.

"Gold's rise this year has been driven by the big events in the global economy," said Daniel Brebner of Deutsche Bank, who has had a successful year when it comes to predicting the gold price. "The first and second bouts of quantitative easing by America's Federal Reserve changed investors' perception of the value of the dollar and their expectations about inflation."

He pointed out that, while the Fed's actions had attracted the most attention, other central banks had worked to loosen monetary policy, encouraging inflation. "The European Central Bank has provided a trillion dollars of funding, while China has been boosting its money supply," said Mr Brebner.

"All these actions have the same effect: they reduce faith in the value of money."

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Who Really Deserves to ‘Pay’ for Bernie Madoff’s Fraud?

Bernie Madoff is back.

While news of deficits, tax packages, currency devaluation, and the like capture the business headlines, is there any doubt that far more people in our nation are interested and intrigued by what is going on with the Madoff scam? I have no doubt.

I have very mixed feelings about Irving Picard, the trustee assigned to recover funds for those victimized by Madoff’s Ponzi scam, going after Wall Street institutions and foreign banks who knew or should have known of Madoff’s operation. Mixed feelings? Am I going soft? Shouldn’t these institutions be held to account? Let’s navigate.

Having recently announced that he was going after JP Morgan and HSBC, Picard announced yesterday that he was targeting Citibank, Natixis, Fortis, ABN AMRO, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, Merrill Lynch, and Nomura. What is the premise Picard is using for pursuing these institutions? Let’s review the very release put forth by the trustee:

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – December 8, 2010 – Irving H. Picard, the Trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (“BLMIS”) today announced the filing of complaints under seal in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York against seven global banking institutions – Citibank, Natixis, Fortis, ABN AMRO, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, Merrill Lynch, and Nomura. Through these suits, the Trustee seeks to recover more than $1 billion in total for equitable distribution to BLMIS customers with valid claims. According to the seven complaints, these banks received transfers of money from BLMIS through numerous Madoff feeder funds at times when they either knew or should have known of Madoff’s fraud.

Is the $1 billion figure a legitimate form of justice? Is it a fair and equitable form of retribution? Or is it actually more a form of ‘hush money’ to keep this investigation from backing up to where it really belongs? Let’s navigate further.

The complaints allege that the banks enabled the Madoff Ponzi scheme by opening a spigot of new money into the Madoff feeder fund network, by creating and offering derivative investment products linked to various Madoff feeder funds, including the Fairfield Greenwich, Kingate and Tremont families of funds. Often, the derivative products were developed in conjunction with the Madoff feeder funds. With the derivative products promising returns based on the performance of the feeder funds, the financial institutions hedged their exposure to the derivative investors by purchasing shares of the feeder funds.

In layman’s terms, doesn’t that sound like ‘aiding and abetting’ a fraud? Wouldn’t some sort of criminal prosecution be more in order rather than a mere slap on the wrist in the form of a fine? Hush money, perhaps? Let’s continue.

“Armed with considerable non-public information about Madoff, Citi either knew or should have known that Madoff’s investment advisory business was a fake, and that the funds Citi received from these two Madoff feeder funds came from Madoff’s fraudulent activities,” said Mr. Picard. Warning signs to Citi included an email from and a meeting with early Madoff whistleblower, Harry Markopoulos, alerting a Citi managing director to the fact that the Madoff operation was a Ponzi scheme.”

“Evidence of awareness of the fraud is clear.” (LD’s highlight)

Come to Papa!!

With this statement, Picard legitimizes the work of Harry Markopolos–not that Harry needed it–and uses it as the basis for pursuing retribution. If, in fact, Harry’s work is helpful in pursuing Citi and others, then why isn’t the same premise being used to pursue the SEC and the Wall Street SRO FINRA? Harry legitimately drew the road map into, through, and around Madoff’s scam for the SEC. They willingly chose to ignore him. Accidental oversight? Really? Bulls#&*!!

Could Picard sue the SEC, as well? Why not? As a press release from the Madoff Victims Coalition highlights:

A lawsuit filed in Colorado states that the SEC is liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2671, to compensate victims because the agency failed to catch Madoff’s Ponzi scheme despite a “litany of red flags.”

Why hasn’t Picard filed suit utilizing the same statute?

America knows the SEC and FINRA (NASD) both failed in their charge to protect investors from the Madoff scam. In my opinion, that failure was not mere incompetence. I firmly believe there were individuals inside each of these regulatory organizations who also “knew or should have known” (Picard’s words!!) of Bernie Madoff’s ongoing fraud. If that premise is good enough to pursue these aformentioned financial institutions, it is certainly good enough to pursue the regulators.

The history books will grade this trustee, our financial regulators, our justice system, and our government very harshly if both the SEC and FINRA are allowed to skate by the Madoff fraud with mere internal self-review but no real justice.

Let’s have a grand jury hearing. Subpoena all the books and records of the SEC and FINRA. Who knew what and when did they know it? What was the real relationship between Bernie Madoff and Mary Schapiro?

So many questions yet unanswered.

$1 billion in fines? Is that real retribution? I don’t think so. America should not be bought off so cheaply.

Larry Doyle

Please subscribe to all my work via e-mail, an RSS feed, on Twitter or Facebook.

I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. As President of Greenwich Investment Management, an SEC regulated privately held registered investment adviser, I am merely a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

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Wall Street's Pentagon Papers: Biggest Financial Scam In World History

$12.3 TRILLION in taxpayers' money.

What if the greatest scam ever perpetrated was blatantly exposed, and the US media didn’t cover it? Does that mean the scam could keep going? That’s what we are about to find out.

I understand the importance of the new WikiLeaks documents. However, we must not let them distract us from the new information the Federal Reserve was forced to release. Even if WikiLeaks reveals documents from inside a large American bank, as huge as that could be, it will most likely pale in comparison to what we just found out from the one-time peek we got into the inner-workings of the Federal Reserve. This is the Wall Street equivalent of the Pentagon Papers.

I’ve written many reports detailing the crimes of Wall Street during this crisis. The level of fraud, from top to bottom, has been staggering. The lack of accountability and the complete disregard for the rule of law have made me and many of my colleagues extremely cynical and jaded when it comes to new evidence to pile on top of the mountain that we have already gathered. But we must not let our cynicism cloud our vision on the details within this new information.

Just when I thought the banksters couldn’t possibly shock me anymore… they did.

We were finally granted the honor and privilege of finding out the specifics, a limited one-time Federal Reserve view, of a secret taxpayer funded “backdoor bailout” by a small group of unelected bankers. This data release reveals “emergency lending programs” that doled out $12.3 TRILLION in taxpayer money - $3.3 trillion in liquidity, $9 trillion in “other financial arrangements.”

Wait, what? Did you say $12.3 TRILLION tax dollars were thrown around in secrecy by unelected bankers… and Congress didn’t know any of the details?

Yes. The Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves. The original copy of the Constitution spontaneously burst into flames. The ghost of Tom Paine went running, stark raving mad screaming through the halls of Congress.

The Federal Reserve was secretly throwing around our money in unprecedented fashion, and it wasn’t just to the usual suspects like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of America, etc.; it was to the entire Global Banking Cartel. To central banks throughout the world: Australia, Denmark, Japan, Mexico, Norway, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, England… To the Fed’s foreign primary dealers like Credit Suisse (Switzerland), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Royal Bank of Scotland (U.K.), Barclays (U.K.), BNP Paribas (France)… All their Ponzi players were “gifted.” All the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations got their cut.

Talk about the ransacking and burning of Rome! Sayonara American middle class…

If you still had any question as to whether or not the United States is now the world’s preeminent banana republic, the final verdict was just delivered and the decision was unanimous. The ayes have it.

Any fairytale notions that we are living in a nation built on the rule of law and of the global economy being based on free market principles has now been exposed as just that, a fairytale. This moment is equivalent to everyone in Vatican City being told, by the Pope, that God is dead.

I’ve been arguing for years that the market is rigged and that the major Wall Street firms are elaborate Ponzi schemes, as have many other people who built their beliefs on rational thought, reasoned logic and evidence. We already came to this conclusion by doing the research and connecting the dots. But now, even our strongest skeptics and the most ardent Wall Street supporters have it all laid out in front of them, on FEDERAL RESERVE SPREADSHEETS.

Even the Financial Times, which named Lloyd Blankfein its 2009 person of the year, reacted by reporting this: “The initial reactions were shock at the breadth of lending, particularly to foreign firms. But the details paint a bleaker and even more disturbing picture.”

Yes, the emperor doesn’t have any clothes. God is, indeed, dead. But, for the moment at least, the illusion continues to hold power. How is this possible?

To start with, as always, the US television “news” media (propaganda) networks just glossed over the whole thing - nothing to see here, just move along, back after a message from our sponsors… Other than that obvious reason, I’ve come to the realization that the Federal Reserve’s crimes are so big, so huge in scale, it is very hard for people to even wrap their head around it and comprehend what has happened here.

Think about it. In just this one peek we got at its operations, we learned that the Fed doled out $12.3 trillion in near-zero interest loans, without Congressional input.

The audacity and absurdity of it all is mind boggling…

Based on many conversations I’ve had with people, it seems that the average person doesn’t comprehend how much a trillion dollars is, let alone 12.3 trillion. You might as well just say 12.3 gazillion, because people don’t grasp a number that large, nor do they understand what would be possible if that money was used in other ways.

Can you imagine what we could do to restructure society with $12.3 trillion? Think about that…

People also can’t grasp the colossal crime committed because they keep hearing the word “loans.” People think of the loans they get. You borrow money, you pay it back with interest, no big deal.

That’s not what happened here. The Fed doled out $12.3 trillion in near-zero interest loans, using the American people as collateral, demanding nothing in return, other than a bunch of toxic assets in some cases. They only gave this money to a select group of insiders, at a time when very few had any money because all these same insiders and speculators crashed the system.

Do you get that? The very people most responsible for crashing the system, were then rewarded with trillions of our dollars. This gave that select group of insiders unlimited power to seize control of assets and have unprecedented leverage over almost everything within their economies - crony capitalism on steroids.

This was a hostile world takeover orchestrated through economic attacks by a very small group of unelected global bankers. They paralyzed the system, then were given the power to recreate it according to their own desires. No free market, no democracy of any kind. All done in secrecy. In the process, they gave themselves all-time record-breaking bonuses and impoverished tens of millions of people - they have put into motion a system that will inevitably collapse again and utterly destroy the very existence of what is left of an economic middle class.

That is not hyperbole. That is what happened.

We are talking about trillions of dollars secretly pumped into global banks, handpicked by a small select group of bankers themselves. All for the benefit of those bankers, and at the expense of everyone else. People can’t even comprehend what that means and the severe consequences that it entails, which we have only just begun to experience.

Let me sum it up for you: The American Dream is O-V-E-R.

Welcome to the neo-feudal-fascist state.

People throughout the world who keep using the dollar are either A) Part of the scam; B) Oblivious to reality; C) Believe that US military power will be able to maintain the value of an otherwise worthless currency; D) All of the above.

No matter which way you look at it, we are all in serious trouble!

If you are an elected official, (I know at least 17 of you subscribe to my newsletter) and you believe in the oath you took upon taking office, you must immediately demand a full audit of the Federal Reserve and have Ben Bernanke and the entire Federal Reserve Board detained. If you are not going to do that, you deserve to have the words “Irrelevant Puppet” tattooed across your forehead.

Yes, those are obviously strong words, but they are the truth.

The Global Banking Cartel has now been so blatantly exposed, you cannot possibly get away with pretending that we live in a nation of law based on the Constitution. The jig is up.

It’s been over two years now; does anyone still seriously not understand why we are in this crisis? Our economy has been looted and burnt to the ground due to the strategic, deliberate decisions made by a small group of unelected global bankers at the Federal Reserve. Do people really not get the connection here? I mean, H.E.L.L.O. Our country is run by an unelected Global Banking Cartel.

I am constantly haunted by a quote from Harry Overstreet, who wrote the following in his 1925 groundbreaking study Influencing Human Behavior: “Giving people the facts as a strategy of influence” has been a failure, “an enterprise fraught with a surprising amount of disappointment.”

This crisis overwhelmingly proves Overstreet’s thesis to be true. Nonetheless, we solider on…

Here’s a roundup of reports on this BernankeLeaks:

Prepare to enter the theater of the absurd…

I’ll start with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont). He was the senator who Bernanke blew off when he was asked for information on this heist during a congressional hearing. Sanders fought to get the amendment written into the financial “reform” bill that gave us this one-time peek into the Fed’s secret operations. (Remember, remember the 6th of May, HFT, flash crash and terrorism. “Hey, David, Homeland Security is on the phone! They want to ask you questions about some NYSE SLP program.”)

In an article entitled, “A Real Jaw-Dropper at the Federal Reserve,” Senator Sanders reveals some of the details:

At a Senate Budget Committee hearing in 2009, I asked Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to tell the American people the names of the financial institutions that received an unprecedented backdoor bailout from the Federal Reserve, how much they received, and the exact terms of this assistance. He refused. A year and a half later… we have begun to lift the veil of secrecy at the Fed…

After years of stonewalling by the Fed, the American people are finally learning the incredible and jaw-dropping details of the Fed’s multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and corporate America….

We have learned that the $700 billion Wall Street bailout… turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country.…

Perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations including two European megabanks — Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse — which were the largest beneficiaries of the Fed’s purchase of mortgage-backed securities….

Has the Federal Reserve of the United States become the central bank of the world?… [read Global Banking Cartel]

What this disclosure tells us, among many other things, is that despite this huge taxpayer bailout, the Fed did not make the appropriate demands on these institutions necessary to rebuild our economy and protect the needs of ordinary Americans….

What we are seeing is the incredible power of a small number of people who have incredible conflicts of interest getting incredible help from the taxpayers of this country while ignoring the needs of the people. [read more]

In an article entitled, “The Fed Lied About Wall Street,” Zach Carter sums it up this way:

The Federal Reserve audit is full of frightening revelations about U.S. economic policy and those who implement it… By denying the solvency crisis, major bank executives who had run their companies into the ground were allowed to keep their jobs, and shareholders who had placed bad bets on their firms were allowed to collect government largesse, as bloated bonuses began paying out soon after.

But the banks themselves still faced a capital shortage, and were only kept above those critical capital thresholds because federal regulators were willing to look the other way, letting banks account for obvious losses as if they were profitable assets.

So based on the Fed audit data, it’s hard to conclude that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was telling the truth when he told Congress on March 3, 2009, that there were no zombie banks in the United States.

“I don’t think that any major U.S. bank is currently a zombie institution,” Bernanke said.

As Bernanke spoke those words banks had been pledging junk bonds as collateral under Fed facilities for several months…

This is the heart of today’s foreclosure fraud crisis. Banks are foreclosing on untold numbers of families who have never missed a payment, because rushing to foreclosure generates lucrative fees for the banks, whatever the costs to families and investors. This is, in fact, far worse than what Paul Krugman predicted. Not only are zombie banks failing to support the economy, they are actively sabotaging it with fraud in order to make up for their capital shortages. Meanwhile, regulators are aggressively looking the other way.

The Fed had to fix liquidity in 2008. That was its job. But as major banks went insolvent, the Fed and Treasury had a responsibility to fix that solvency issue—even though that meant requiring shareholders and executives to live up to losses. Instead, as the Fed audit tells us, policymakers knowingly ignored the real problem, pushing losses onto the American middle class in the process.” [read more]

Even the Financial Times is jumping ship:

Sunlight Shows Cracks in Fed’s Rescue Story

It took two years, a hard-fought lawsuit, and an act of Congress, but finally… the Federal Reserve disclosed the details of its financial crisis lending programs. The initial reactions were shock at the breadth of lending, particularly to foreign firms. But the details paint a bleaker, earlier, and even more disturbing picture…. An even more troubling conclusion from the data is that… it is now apparent that the Fed took on far more risk, on less favorable terms, than most people have realized. [read more]

In true Fed fashion, they didn’t even fully comply with Congress. In a report entitled, “Fed Withholds Collateral Data for $885 Billion in Financial-Crisis Loans,” Bloomberg puts some icing on the cake:

For three of the Fed’s six emergency facilities, the central bank released information on groups of collateral it accepted by asset type and rating, without specifying individual securities. Among them was the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, created in March 2008 to provide loans to brokers as Bear Stearns Cos. collapsed.

“This is a half-step,” said former Atlanta Fed research director Robert Eisenbeis, chief monetary economist at Cumberland Advisors Inc. in Sarasota, Florida. “If you were going to audit the facilities, then would this enable you to do an audit? The answer is ‘No,’ you would have to go in and look at the individual amounts of collateral and how it was broken down to do that. And that is the spirit of what the requirements were in Dodd-Frank.” [read more]

See also:

  • Fed Data Dump Reveals More Contradictions About its $1.25 Trillion MBS Purchase Program
  • Fed Created Conflicts in Improvising $3.3 Trillion Financial System Rescue
  • Meet The 35 Foreign Banks That Got Bailed Out By The Fed
  • Ben Bernanke’s Secret Global Bank

    Here’s the only person on US TV “news” who actually covers and understands any of this, enter Dylan Ratigan, with his guest Chris Whalen from Institutional Risk Analytics. This quote from Whalen sums it up well: “The folks at the Fed have become so corrupt, so captured by the banking industry… the Fed is there to support the speculators and they let the real economy go to hell.”

    The Progressive’s Matthew Rothschild has a good quote: “The financial bailout was a giant boondoggle, undemocratic and kleptocratic to its core.”

    Matt Stoller on NewDeal 2.0:

    End This Fed

    The Fed, and specifically the people who run it, are responsible for declining wages, for de-industrialization, for bubbles, and for the systemic corruption of American capital markets. The new financial blogosphere destroyed the Fed’s mythic stature…. With a loss of legitimacy comes a lack of public trust and a vulnerability to any form of critic. The Fed is now less respected than the IRS…. Liberals should stop their love affair with conservative technocratic myths of monetary independence, and cease seeing this Federal Reserve as a legitimate actor. At the very least, we need to begin noticing that these people do in fact run the country, and should not. [read more]

    In case anyone is confused into believing that this is just another right vs. left partisan issue, enter Fox Business host Judge Andrew Napolitano with his guest Republican Congressman Ron Paul, who is, of course, a longtime leading Fed critic. Paul hopes to see some Wikileaks on the Federal Reserve:

    The Sunlight Foundation shines a light on Bank of America and the Federal Reserve’s brother money manager BlackRock:

    Federal Reserve Loan Program Allowed Bank of America to Benefit Twice

    Bank of America was one of several banks that was able to play both sides of a Federal Reserve program launched during the 2008 financial crisis. While Bank of America was selling its assets to firms obtaining loans through the Fed program, the investment firm BlackRock—partially owned by Bank of America—was potentially turning a profit by using those loans to buy assets similar to those sold by Bank of America. [read more]

    Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times jumps into the act:

    So That’s Where the Money Went

    How the truth shines through when you shed a little light on a subject….

    All of the emergency lending data released by the Fed are highly revealing, but why weren’t they made public much earlier? That’s a question that Walker F. Todd, a research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, is asking.

    Mr. Todd, a former assistant general counsel and research officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said details about the Fed’s vast and various programs should have been available before the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform law was even written.

    “The Fed’s current set of powers and the shape of the Dodd-Frank bill over all might have looked quite different if this information had been made public during the debate on the bill,” he said. “Had these tables been out there, I think Congress would have either said no to emergency lending authority or if you get it, it’s going to be a much lower number — half a trillion dollars in the aggregate.” [read more]

    Welcome to the “global pawnshop:”

    The Fed Operates as a “global pawnshop:” $9 trillion to 18 financial institutions

    What the report shows is that the Fed operated as a global pawnshop taking in practically anything the banks had for collateral. What is even more disturbing is that the Federal Reserve did not enact any punitive charges to these borrowers so you had banks like Goldman Sachs utilizing the crisis to siphon off cheap collateral. The Fed is quick to point out that “taxpayers were fully protected” but mention little of the destruction they have caused to the US dollar. This is a hidden cost to Americans and it also didn’t help that they were the fuel that set off the biggest global housing bubble ever witnessed by humanity. [read more]

    “No strings attached.” Financial reporter Barry Grey unleashes the truth:

    Fed report lifts lid on Great Bank Heist of 2008-2009

    The banks and corporations that benefited were not even obliged to provide an account of what they did with the money. The entire purpose of the operation was to use public funds to cover the gambling losses of the American financial aristocracy, and create the conditions for the financiers and speculators to make even more money.

    All of the 21,000 transactions cited in the Fed documents―released under a provision included, over the Fed’s objections, in this year’s financial regulatory overhaul bill―were carried out in secret. The unelected central bank operated without any congressional mandate or oversight.

    The documents shed light on the greatest plundering of social resources in history. It was carried out under both the Republican Bush and Democratic Obama administrations. Those who organized the looting of the public treasury were long-time Wall Street insiders: men like Bush’s treasury secretary and former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson and the then-president of the New York Federal Reserve, Timothy Geithner….

    The Fed documents show that the US central bank enabled banks and corporations to offload their bad debts onto the Fed’s balance sheet. Now, in order to prevent a collapse of the dollar and a default by the US government, the American people are being told they must sacrifice to reduce the national debt and budget deficit.

    But as the vast sums make clear, the “sacrifice” being demanded of working people means their impoverishment―wage-cutting, mass unemployment, cuts in health care, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

    The very scale of the Fed bailout points to the scale of the financial crash and the criminality that fostered it…. The entire US capitalist economy rested on a huge Ponzi scheme that was bound to collapse…

    The banks were able to take the cheap cash from the Fed and lend it back to the government at double and quadruple the interest rates they were initially charged―pocketing many billions in the process….

    The ongoing saga of the looting of the economy by the financial elite puts the lie to the endless claims that “there is no money” for jobs, housing, education or health care. The ruling class is awash in money. [read more]