Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bank of England chief under fire after warning Britain is at risk of another financial crisis

Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, has come under fire from leading economists after warning that Britain risks suffering another financial crisis without reform of the country’s banks.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mervyn King said that “imbalances” in the banking system remain and are “beginning to grow again”.

But leading economists, including a former Tory advisor and the chief executive of the British Bankers' Association, have criticised his comments.

Tim Congdon, who served on the Treasury Panel of Independent Forecasters (the so-called "wise men") under the last Conservative government, called the remarks "unjustified".

He said: "The truth is the financial sector is very important to the British economy. He's been at the Bank of England for twenty years... I find it incredible that he's now attacking the structure of the industry.

"If you criticise the banks you reduce their credibility and then people worry about them. The important thing for the Governor of the Bank of England is to help them."

Angela Knight, chief executive, British Bankers' Association, said: "We view the Governor with the highest respect, but in this instance there are a number of points with which we disagree.

"The banking industry recognises that some of its number got it badly wrong during the crisis. Since then the industry has reformed radically.

"We work closely with our customers of all sizes and types and in doing so have created one of the largest financial centres in the world and a great contributor to the British economy. We achieved this together by doing our business well - not by doing it badly.

"We entirely agree that no bank should believe it can fall back on the taxpayer. The changes from top to bottom within the industry have ensured the risks are well controlled, and all banks have put recovery and resolution plans in place to answer the too-big-to-fail question and so safeguard customers and the taxpayer against the remote consequences of any future failure."

In the interview Mr King urges high street banks to take a better, longer term view towards their customers and to stop focusing on the need to “simply maximise profits next week”.

He accuses them of routinely exploiting their millions of customers. “If it’s possible [for financial services firms] to make money out of gullible or unsuspecting customers, particularly institutional customers, [they think] that is perfectly acceptable,” he says.

The Governor criticises the “weight put on the importance and value of takeovers” and raises concerns that companies with good reputations have been “destroyed” in the search for short-term profits.

Mr King expresses regret for not sounding a louder warning over his concerns before the last banking crisis.

The Governor’s remarks are a warning to George Osborne, the Chancellor, as a government commission considers whether to force high street banks to sell off their investment banking arms.

Mr Osborne is thought to be against such a plan, but Mr King is due to ultimately become responsible for banking regulation and his views are, therefore, critical.

In the interview, the Bank Governor says: “We allowed a [banking] system to build up which contained the seeds of its own destruction.

“We’ve not yet solved the 'too big to fail’ or, as I prefer to call it, the 'too important to fail’ problem.

“The concept of being too important to fail should have no place in a market economy.”

When asked whether there could be a repeat of the financial crisis, Mr King says: “Yes. The problem is still there. The search for yield goes on. Imbalances are beginning to grow again.”

Mr King, who rarely gives interviews, suggests that the culture of short-term profits and bonuses within the banks may ultimately be responsible for the problems.

He says that traditional manufacturing industries have a more “moral” way of operating.

“They care deeply about their workforce, about their customers and, above all, are proud of their products,” he says. “[With the banks] there isn’t that sense of longer term relationships.

“There’s a different attitude towards customers. Small and medium firms really notice this: they miss the people they know.”

The Governor adds that good businesses “keep a clear vision of who their customers are, and are run by people who don’t think they should simply maximise profits next week.” He says that the payment of bonuses is part of this cultural problem. “Why do banks in general want to pay bonuses?” Mr King asks. “It’s because they live in a 'too big to fail’ world in which the state will bail them out on the downside.”

Over the past 30 years, he says, “we changed Britain away from a sclerotic economy with inefficiencies and problems in labour relations. Everyone got to the point where we no longer expected government to bail us out.”

He says this changed with the banking crisis. 'But, surprise, surprise, the institutions bailed out were those at the heart of the crisis. Hedge funds were allowed to fail, 3,000 of them have gone, but banks weren’t,’ he says.

The comments will embarrass the Chancellor, who recently concluded a deal with the banks under which they would be able to resume the payment of bonuses in return for boosting lending.

Mr King does not back down from recent comments that appeared to back the Government’s strategy for reducing the deficit. Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, recently accused the Governor of becoming too political.

Mr King said: “It is inconceivable that the Governor has no view on the size of the deficit and the need to reduce it. It would be a dereliction of duty for me not to warn. You need a credible plan to reduce it, over the lifetime of a Parliament. But it is for ministers, not for me, to say how this should be done.”

In the interview, the Governor gives little clue as to whether an interest rate rise is imminent.

Mr King says there is a “perfectly reasonable case for doing it now” but he added that increasing rates too soon would be a “futile gesture”.

Is Your Senator A Member Of The Bankster Party? - List

Originally published in Jan. 2010.

All three of these clowns are founding members. You will notice in a link below that Sarah Palin is exposed for supporting Wall Street bailouts.



Submitted by Dylan Ratigan

The one main benefit to the financial reform effort so far is that it helps further do away with the false paradigms of "left" or "right" and "Democrat" or "Republican" - fewer and fewer people are falling for those lies anymore. Try to get an ideological conservative to explain why Republicans love spending and so eagerly give welfare to banks. Try to get your local liberal to explain why it was a good idea to make backroom deals with abhorrent corporations and drill, baby, drill. Heck, even try to get a Tea Partier to explain choosing bailout-lover Sarah Palin to keynote their convention, especially when that movement once had at least some pre-astroturf roots in protesting government giveaways.

What we have now is a group of politicians with shifting alliances on a case-by-case basis to the special interests who fund them. And currently, the most damaging one to our nation is the rise of the Bankster Party. Thankfully, we can now better identify its members.

Anyone who voted for the Kaufman-Brown SAFE amendment deserves to be considered a member of the "People's Party", at least for today. And while I may not agree, I am also OK with someone voting no on Kaufman-Brown if they voted no on the bailout in the first place. That at least shows a consistent ideology and we wouldn't need to break up the banks into smaller parts if our leaders had the will to let them fail.

But there is a special place for those who have the audacity to do something as incredibly un-American as voting to provide unencumbered welfare for rich bankers and then subsequently do absolutely nothing to fix the problem. And that special place (for now) is in what we should call from this point forward the "Bankster Party."

Allow me to present to you its current members:

Daniel Akaka (B-HI)
Lamar Alexander (B-TN)
Max Baucus (B-MT)
Evan Bayh (B-IN)
Michael F. Bennet (B-CO)
Christopher S. Bond (B-MO)
Richard Burr (B-NC)
Thomas R. Carper (B-DE)
Saxby Chambliss (B-GA)
Susan M. Collins (B-ME)
Kent Conrad (B-ND)
Bob Corker (B-TN)
John Cornyn (B-TX)
Christopher J. Dodd (B-CT)
Dianne Feinstein (B-CA)
Lindsey Graham (B-SC)
Chuck Grassley (B-IA)
Judd Gregg (B-NH)
Orrin G. Hatch (B-UT)
Kay Bailey Hutchinson (B-TX)
Daniel K. Inouye (B-HI)
Johnny Isakson (B-GA)
John F. Kerry (B-MA)
Amy Klobuchar (B-MN)
Herb Kohl (B-WI)
Jon Kyl (B-AZ)
Frank R. Lautenberg (B-NJ)
Joseph Lieberman (B-CT)
John McCain (B-AZ)
Claire McCaskill (B-MO)
Mitch McConnell (B-KY)
Robert Menendez (B-NJ)
Lisa Murkowski (B-AK)
Bill Nelson (B-FL)
Jack Reed (B-RI)
Charles Schumer (B-NY)
Olympia Snowe (B-ME)
John Thune (B-SD)
Mark Udall (B-CO)
George Voinovich (B-OH)
Mark Warner (B-VA)

Mark Begich (P-AK)
Jeff Bingaman (P-NM)
Barbara Boxer (P-CA)
Sherrod Brown (P-OH)
Roland Burris (P-IL)
Maria Cantwell (P-WA)
Bejamin Cardin (P-MD)
Robert Casey Jr. (P-PA)
Tom Coburn (P-OK)
Byron Dorgan (P-ND)
Richard Durbin (P-IL)
John Ensign (P-NV)
Russell Feingold (P-WI)
Al Franken (P-MN)
Tom Harkin (P-IA)
Edward Kaufman (P-DE)
Patrick Leahy (P-VT)
Carl Levin (P-MI)
Blanche Lincoln (P-AR)
Jeff Merkley (P-OR)
Lisa Mikulski (P-MD)
Patty Murray (P-WA)
Mark Pryor (P-AR)
Harry Reid (P-NV)
John D. Rockefeller IV (P-WV)
Bernard Sanders (P-VT)
Richard Shelby (P-AL)
Arlen Specter (P-PA)
Debbie Stabenow (P-MI)
Tom Udall (P-NM)
Jim Webb (P-VA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (P-RI)
Ron Wyden (P-OR)


Inside Job Trailer Misses The Mark On Lehman

First a correction: Lehman creditors are getting 17 cents not 9 as the trailer shows, and Lehman was an over-leveraged cesspool of deception, fraud and criminal malfeasance. It deserved to fail.

The initial bankruptcy process was flawed certainly, and demonstrated that Paulson and Bernanke were clueless about the ripple effects, but the decision to let Lehman go was the only thing they got right.

As we wrote in a previous story:

Though he's cognizant of the fraud, with measured stupidity Ferguson also buys into the Kanjorski-Paulson martial law, blood-in-the-streets, 17th-century-you'll-be-milling-your-own-wheat fear mongering, which as we've detailed and proven on multiple occasions was nothing more than highly granulated hyperbole meant to frighten a financially illiterate Congress and media corps into gentle acquiescence to the demands of their Sith Lords.


See the rest of the trailers here...

Spain town reintroduces peseta to boost economy

A small town in northern Spain has decided to reintroduce the old Spanish currency - the peseta - alongside the euro to give the local economy a lift.

Shopkeepers in Mugardos want anyone with forgotten stashes of the old cash at home to come and spend it.

It is nine years since the peseta was official currency in Spain.

But Spain's economic crisis has forced some to be inventive. The hard times have seen thousands of businesses close and more than two million jobs go.

Forgotten coins

More than 60 shops in Mugardos, a small fishing town in Galicia on Spain's northern coast, are accepting the peseta again for all purchases, alongside the euro.

It is an attempt to get cash registers ringing - and help lift the town out of a long and painful economic slump.

Shopkeepers were sceptical at first, but they now say the scheme is a great success.

People are travelling into Mugardos from outside just to spend the old currency they never got round to converting.

One man visited the local hardware store this week with a 10,000-peseta note he had found at home, and had no idea what to do with.

He is now the happy owner of a sandwich toaster.

The euro was introduced here in January 2002.

Spaniards then had another three months to exchange their old currency at any bank.

That cash can still be converted today, but only at the Bank of Spain itself, and it says a staggering 1.7bn euros ($2.4bn) of cash is still unaccounted for - stashed, perhaps, then forgotten; piles of coins that slipped down the backs of sofas; or even big notes kept by collectors.

That is the reserve the shopkeepers of Mugardos are hoping to tap and give a desperately needed boost to business.

Still, the Bank of Spain estimates that almost half the country's millions of missing pesetas will never be recovered - despite their value.

It believes many left the country long ago, in the purses and pockets of tourists.

Fed's Hoenig: "I really want to take away the punch bowl before the room gets drunk because I think this punch bowl is a little bit spiked"

This is not a new theme for Hoenig.

Remarks from a Washington speech earlier this afternoon.


(Reuters) -- Persistent U.S. fiscal deficits would hurt the economy and pressure the Federal Reserve to loosen monetary policy, Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig warned Wednesday.

"When you have debts and deficits that run very rapidly over time, real interest rates do rise ... and when they do, it has the effect of slowing down investments, slowing down the economy," Hoenig told the Council of Foreign Relations.

"And what happens? Inevitably you turn to the central bank," he added, calling on the government to address its fiscal issues now, without ignoring entitlement issues.

Hoenig also said U.S. policymakers should start preparing the market for a lifting of interest rates back to 1 percent to avoid future inflation problems.

"I really want to take away the punch bowl before the room gets drunk because I think this punch bowl is a little bit spiked," Hoenig, who has repeatedly voiced dissent against the Fed's ultra-low monetary policy, said.


Hear from Hoenig himself...

This is Hoenig's best public speech.

Video: Hoenig speaks to a local Kansas City Tea Party group - Sep. 23, 2010



Zell: Dollar's Global Fall Will Be 'Disastrous’ for US Living Standard Read more: Zell: Dollar's Global Fall Will Be 'Disastrous’ for US Living Stand

By Greg Brown

Billionaire real-estate magnate Sam Zell warns that Americans should brace for a "disastrous" 25 percent decline in the standard of living if the U.S. dollar’s reign as the global reserve currency ever ends.

He says that there are signs in the market that it could eventually happen. As it is now, a Korean manufacturer who wants to sell to Brazil must first buy dollars to complete the deal. If countries decide to bypass the dollar, the effect would be a disaster, Zell says.

Sam Zell
“Frankly, I think we’re at a tipping point. What’s my biggest single financial concern is the loss of the dollar as the reserve currency,” he told CNBC in an interview. “I can’t imagine anything being more disastrous to our country than if the dollar lost its reserve-currency status.”

Although he is “hoping against hope” the dollar remains the standard for international exchange, he warns that “you’re already seeing things in the markets that are suggesting that confidence in the dollar is waning.”

If that happens, the impact on the United States would be deep. “I think you could see a 25 percent reduction in the standard of living in this country if the U.S. dollar was no longer the world’s reserve currency,” Zell said “That’s how valuable it is.”

Zell says that the bond market seems remarkably complacent about the risk. But that could turn on a dime, he warns.

“The worry in the bond market is never there until it’s there. The dollar has gone down 20 percent in the last three or four years,” Zell says. “I don’t know who is buying 30-year fixed-rate debt. I don’t understand TIPs (Treasury inflation-protected bonds) that are projecting 30 years of benign inflation.”

Benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields are around 3.48 percent. TIPs maturing in 2041 have a yield of 1.96 percent.

Once the world turns on the U.S. dollar, if it does, things will change fast, Zell warns. “How could interest rates not go up? Either they go up or the dollar goes down, one or the other,” Zell says.

As for inflation, he estimates that actual inflation is between 5 percent and 7 percent right now, despite government figures showing the CPI flirting with low single digits. Fear of deflation — prices falling out of control — has been the primary motivator at the Federal Reserve to pump up money supply by more than $2 trillion in recent months.

Nevertheless, oil is rising fast and food riots are breaking out in developing countries. The United States has been less affected until recently. Zell points out that our Consumer Price Index tends to hide inflation by counting depressed home prices at 42 percent of the index.

“If you adjusted the CPI to reality you’re probably looking at 5, 6, 7 percent inflation today,” Zell says.

“The reality out there is the costs are going up. The fact that we’ve been massive beneficiaries of Chinese mercantilist policies that have allowed us to buy goods at much less than their fair value. That has hurt us on the manufacturing side, but it has been a subsidy to America. That subsidy is coming to an end.”

Others agree with Zell that the dollar’s world dominance will soon fade.

Ray Dalio, founder & CIO of Bridgewater Associates, told CNBC that it is “inevitable that the dollar's role as the world's currency will diminish from the dominant world currency to one of a few.”

"It will fade probably fairly quickly so the United States which accounts for almost two-thirds of the reserves will probably go down to 50 percent of the world's reserves and it will have an effect on lending," he added.

Meanwhile, Bill Gross, found of bond giant Pimco, recently told investors that the Fed’s heavy thumb on the scales on behalf of low interests was perhaps necessary given the magnitude of the crisis. The second round of easing known as “QE2,” perhaps, also had a role to play.

However, as the deadline for the second round to end looms — it is set to expire in June — there are serious questions about whether a smooth transition to private demand for U.S. debt will appear, Gross said.

Stocks have doubled from the March 2009 bottom and marked steadily upward since the second round was announced in August, which has given some stock investors pause.

“Investors should view June 30, 2011 not as political historians view Nov. 11, 1918 (Armistice Day — a day of reconciliation and healing) but more like June 6, 1944 (D-Day — a day fraught with hope for victory, but fueled with immediate uncertainty and fear as to what would happen in the short term),” Gross said in recent commentary online.

“Bond yields and stock prices are resting on an artificial foundation of QE2 credit that may or may not lead to a successful private-market handoff and stability in currency and financial markets.”

© Moneynews. All rights reserved.

Greenback Done as Reserve Currency?

US Mint Reducing Allotments of Silver American Eagles

Video: Tim Geithner's Accidental Brush With Truth...

Video - Tim Geithner before House Financial Services - Mar. 1, 2011

Watch the hands. Geithner lets down his guard at Fannie hearing, and out comes the truth on bailouts. Clip starts automatically at 3:36

  • "As you know, the history of financial crises is largely a history of banks and real estate together. And the government ultimately is there. It's just behind the banks with this implicit support that they don't charge for. It still leaves the taxpayer expected...I mean, exposed to loss."

A couple of weeks ago, Treasury presented Congress with three possible options for reforming the mortgage market and for getting rid of Fannie and Freddie. Treasury's "Option 2" and "Option 3" both retain a large degree of government support for housing. Treasury's "Option 1," however, creates a mostly private mortgage market with only limited support from the FHA for low-income borrowers.

In this clip, Geithner has just been asked which of the three models he prefers for the future of Fannie and Freddie. He has already made it clear that he does not support Option 1, which would most likely have a negative effect on home prices and thus hurt bank balance sheets. That's to be expected - we know that Geithner can be counted on to support the banks at every turn.

But what he actually said was totally unexpected. Watch him as he slips and tells Congress that even without an explicit government guarantee for mortgages, the government will come in to protect the banks at taxpayer expense anyway. This is no great revelation - everyone knows that to be the case. But for months the administration's line has been that Dodd-Frank solved Too Big To Fail and that there will never again be a taxpayer bailout of the banks. Just watch, it's pretty obvious Geithner knows he made a gaffe, because he gets audibly tongue-tied and then swallows really hard mid-sentence before regaining his composure.


Here's the full 5-minute exchange...

Further reading...

Mervyn King interview: We prevented a Great Depression... but people have the right to be angry

Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, tells Charles Moore why he shares the public’s disquiet over the need to bail out failing banks.

Before the war,” says Mervyn King, “my father worked on the railways. In the war, he was in the Royal Engineers and helped with the planning of D-Day. After it, he trained on a demobbed soldiers’ programme to become a teacher. He was also a Methodist local preacher. He died only a few weeks ago. At his funeral, I said that he was always a preacher and a teacher – some might say it runs in the family – I am proud of that.” A hint of deep emotion is visible behind the famous thick spectacles.

The Governor of the Bank of England is sitting in his large and elegant office, leaning forward in an austere upright chair that he says is better for his back. All around him are the trappings of his venerable institution. A butler in the Bank’s famous pink coat comes in with a silver coffee pot. But the small, round, soft-spoken man in the chair is not a City grandee, but a teacher, a preacher, an intellectual.

It is 20 years this week since Mr King walked into the Bank, hired as its chief economist. His previous experience had been wholly academic. But “I wanted to see policy-making from the inside”. The year after he arrived, Britain fell out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, and Mr King’s ideas about inflation-targeting came to the fore. In 1997, on a Bank Holiday, Eddie George the then governor, called him into the office in which we are now sitting to tell him that Gordon Brown would announce Bank independence the following day. “So you can’t leave now, can you?” said Mr George. He couldn’t.

The next year, Mr King became deputy governor. In 2003, he succeeded George. He has seen more “policy-making from the inside” than he could ever have dreamed – “a period of immense historical significance”.

The young Mervyn “really wanted to read cosmology” but could not find the right undergraduate course, so he went up to King’s College, Cambridge, in 1966, as a mathematician, but switched immediately to economics.

He loved Cambridge, but economics was too much “harking back” to Keynes. It was in postgraduate work at Harvard that he “learnt that economics could be a serious discipline”. Being a bright young man, he gave “excessive weight” to economic models. “You feel, 'My models will make a big difference.’ As I get older, I give more weight to history. Alfred Marshall [the founder of Cambridge economics] was absolutely right that you should do the mathematics but then burn the paper and write it down in words.” Maths and models should be “aids to thinking, not substitutes for it”. He thinks people should have remembered that during the financial crisis. Tell me, I say, what a layman should read to understand that great disaster in which we are still embroiled. There are two books, he says. One is Walter Bagehot’s 19th-century classic, Lombard Street, with its “wonderful description of the people who made the money markets work – they’re exactly the same now – and his popularisation of the idea of the lender of last resort”. The other, about the credit crunch itself, is The Big Short by Michael Lewis. It explains, says Mr King, why a few people did not believe that the lending in the US subprime market was going to work but “how difficult it was for them to make the bet they wanted to make and how the great banking machine was all geared to do the opposite”.

Now, the Governor is off on why all this has a moral dimension: “The more I’ve thought about how labour markets work, the more I’ve realised that there are hardly any jobs whose tasks you can describe exactly. Nowadays, most jobs have the property that employees can choose to do them well or badly, so employers need to think about the long-term welfare of the staff not just pay today.” It follows that moral attitude is vital. Industry often understands this well. Nissan in Sunderland asks all its workers for ideas to raise productivity, and, says Mr King, it benefits.

The Governor makes a point of visiting manufacturing and service industries all over the country. Such firms pay far lower rewards than financial services but have “an incredibly successful record. They care deeply about their workforce, about their customers and, above all, are proud of their products”. With the banks, it’s different: “There isn’t that sense of longer-term relationships [hence the demise of the local bank manager]. There’s a different attitude towards customers. Small and medium firms really notice this: they miss the people they know.”

He also thinks that there is “too much weight put on the importance and value of takeovers”. They make short-run profits but “it doesn’t make sense to destroy a company with a reputation”. Since the Big Bang in the late 1980s, Mr King goes on, too many in financial services have thought “if it’s possible to make money out of gullible or unsuspecting customers, particularly institutional customers, that is perfectly acceptable”. Good businesses “keep a clear vision of who their customers are, and are run by people who don’t think they should simply maximise profits next week”. But in the past 25 years, banks have increasingly “taken bets with other people’s money”.

That is bad enough, but it gets much worse “if the rules of the game are that they get bailed out if it all goes wrong”. In this weird atmosphere, banks eventually stopped trusting one another. “Financial services don’t like the word 'casino’, but instruments were created and traded only within the financial community. It was a zero sum game. No one knew which ones were winners when the crisis hit. Everyone became a suspect. Hence, no one would provide liquidity to any of those institutions.”

Northern Rock could have been avoided if Britain had not been “the only G7 country not to have had a statutory resolution process. We had been war-gaming one, but the legislation wasn’t ready”. In Mr King’s opinion: “If we had not stepped in for RBS and HBOS, all the British banks would have suffered runs. They didn’t understand the nature of the risks they were taking.” But was the Governor himself blameless? Has he ever given the Queen the answer to her famous question: “If these things were so big, why did no one see them coming?”

He says he did have a meeting with the Queen last year. I smile at the thought – King and Queen, as it were. What did they say to one another? I think the Governor would like to tell me more, but he reins himself in: after conversations with the Queen, he reminds me, “one must never breathe a word to another mortal”. He thinks her questions are good questions. His answer to Her Majesty is that “everyone did see it coming but no one knew when. It’s like an earthquake zone. You should be trying to build buildings in ways which are more robust”. But he does include himself in the criticism. “I wish I’d spoken out more forcefully about the build-up of leverage.”

He does believe, however, that the Bank’s remedies have been right. “Quantitative easing” is a new phrase, but “it is really very traditional monetary policy. For the first time in my life, the amount of money was growing too slowly”. What was done in 2008 and 2009 “prevented a repetition of the Great Depression”.

The Bank pushed out money and “bought private not public sector paper”, so that non-bank institutions could benefit. It stayed away from choosing which assets to favour. Some central banks, however, went further and were seen to “intervene in the credit allocation machine. It’s made life more difficult. It’s seen as quasi-political, quasi-fiscal, We deliberately stayed away from that”. But although Mr King thinks the worst of the crisis was handled correctly, he does not think we are out of the woods. “We allowed a [banking] system to build up which contained the seeds of its own destruction”, and this has still not been remedied: “We’ve not yet solved the 'too big to fail’ or, as I prefer to call it, the 'too important to fail’ problem. The concept of being too important to fail should have no place in a market economy.”

I quote to him the recent remarks of Stephen Hester, the chief executive of the largely publicly owned RBS, in which he seemed simultaneously to say that RBS should pay little tax because it had made little profit, but also that it should pay big bonuses because its investment arm had made big profits. Wasn’t there some sort of contradiction? Mr King nods. The remark illustrates, he says, the clash between the needs of high-street banking and the ambitions of investment banking. The key question, in his view, is not why an individual bank says it needs to pay bonuses (the reason cited is always the need to keep talent), but: “Why do banks in general want to pay bonuses? It’s because they live in a 'too big to fail’ world in which the state will bail them out on the downside.” They are tempted to excessive risk and excessive payments: “It is very unproductive to single out individuals. Bankers were given incentives to behave the way they did. That’s what needs to change. We must resolve this problem.” He has high hopes that the independent banking commission will do so. In the Governor’s mind, this is not ultimately a technical but a moral question. It goes to the heart of whether people are ready to accept life in a free economy.

Over the past 30 years, he says: “We changed Britain away from a sclerotic economy with inefficiencies and problems in labour relations. Everyone got to the point where we no longer expected government to bail us out. Everyone bought in to market discipline. We were all better off. It was working very successfully.” But now, people have every right to be angry, because “out of what seems to them a clear blue sky”, the crisis comes, they find they do lose their jobs and there’s the sharpest fall in world trade since the 1930s. “But, surprise, surprise, the institutions bailed out were those at the heart of the crisis. Hedge funds were allowed to fail, 3,000 of them have gone, but banks weren’t.” Could there be a repeat? “Yes! The problem is still there. The 'search for yield’ goes on. Imbalances are beginning to grow again.”

I want the Governor’s own estimation of how he is handling the hangover after the party. Is it true, as Ed Balls was reported to be alleging, that he is too political (which means, from Mr Balls’s mouth, too Tory)? Mr King tactfully refuses to accept that this is necessarily the shadow chancellor’s view: “He was reported by the Financial Times as saying that. I prefer to read what people actually say. I don’t take newspaper headlines at face value.” His general point, though, is simple: “It is inconceivable that the Governor has no view on the size of the deficit and the need to reduce it. It would be a dereliction of duty for me not to warn. You need a credible plan to reduce it, over the lifetime of a Parliament. But it is for ministers, not for me, to say how this should be done.”

He believes that the need to reduce the deficit is common ground between the parties and claims to have had “a good relationship with all three chancellors on his watch”. What about with the man who was one door up from Alistair Darling in Downing Street? Mr King smiles thinly: “That is for others to say ... we worked well together during the recapitalisation.”

He feels strongly that the independence which Mr Brown established works well. WikiLeaks caught him out saying that David Cameron and George Osborne, in opposition, were too inexperienced. That is not his view now: “I think people learn very quickly on the job.”

Here we are though, I complain, with inflation 100 per cent higher, at four per cent, than the two per cent it is supposed to be. The mathematician in him laughs at that way of putting it: “If our target was zero per cent and we had an inflation rate of 0.1 per cent, we would be infinitely above target!”. Yes, but he was always an inflation “hawk”. Is he still? “Yes. It’s odd to read that I am terribly doveish. Before the crunch, there were 14 occasions where I was in a minority in voting for higher rates. Since then, there has been one occasion where I was in a minority the other way.” He is emphatic that he wishes to get back to the target, and that they will: “That is why I stayed at the Bank [for his second term].” After this, the worst financial crisis in living memory, “if people can look back and say that inflation came back in line, that would be a very significant achievement”.

He does not use the word, but he is clearly talking about his legacy after he leaves in 2013. He also feels very sorry for the victims of inflation, especially savers suffering “a sharp squeeze in living standards. It is deeply troubling for them. They were prudent before the crisis”. But if he were to put up interest rates too soon it would be, as he recently said, the “futile gesture” from the Battle of Britain sketch in Beyond the Fringe. The squeeze on living standards is “inevitable” because of overseas prices of oil and other commodities and deficit reduction, so surely, says the Governor, one cannot argue that “what Britain needs is a deeper recession”. Of course, rates will have to rise at some point and there is a “perfectly reasonable case for doing it now”, but it is a matter of looking ahead for 18 months to two years, a matter of calculating “the balance of risk”. He says the squeeze in living standards has been “sharp and prolonged” and they “will be squeezed a bit more this year” before “almost certainly” picking up after that.

We are moving towards the end, and I bring him back to the main message of the preacher. In a recent speech, Mervyn King quoted Tolstoy’s line that “Happiness is less important than trying to live in the right way”. What is the right way? Mr King sees the task as one of getting back to where we were before all this. “Britain is well placed to be an international banking centre, but we can’t afford to be if, now and again, it depends on the UK taxpayer.”

We must get rid of the idea that “if something is growing rapidly, it must be good. Every supervisor should say: 'The banks I should worry about are not only the ones that are losing money but the ones who are making a lot of money.’ ” He goes on: “What I’ve tried to do my whole time at the Bank is to set general rules. You can’t rely on the wisdom of individuals. Before I leave, I want to make sure that the right framework is in place for monetary policy, financial stability and banking supervision [a function the Coalition is now returning to the Bank].”

Does he enjoy it all? Wouldn’t this man of ideas be happier in his large library? His eyes gleam. “I’m looking forward to getting back to my books [current reading includes Niall Ferguson’s book on civilisation and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah] and to watching cricket and playing tennis. But I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. Enjoyment is the wrong word, because of the pressure. I never expected to see a crisis of this size, but it is fascinating and a privilege to be doing this job.”

Since he is so uncomfortable with the culture of banking, wouldn’t he rather have been an industrialist? “No, I admire people like John Rose at Rolls-Royce or John Parker at the National Grid”, but the job is “an intellectual challenge first and foremost, where I must see issues clearly and speak about them openly”. Sort of like being a professor, only much, much more exciting.

We discuss bank notes. Mr King has decided that the next £50 notes should depict the inventive and manufacturing partnership of Matthew Boulton and James Watt. But he is even prouder of having picked Adam Smith for the £20. Smith provides the model of the right way: his economic theory in The Wealth of Nations was wise and true, but Smith’s other book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments proves, says Mr King, that “there’s more to life than economics. The two must be taken together”.

U.S. most armed country with 90 guns per 100 people

(Reuters) - The United States has 90 guns for every 100 citizens, making it the most heavily armed society in the world, a report released on Tuesday said.

U.S. citizens own 270 million of the world's 875 million known firearms, according to the Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies.

About 4.5 million of the 8 million new guns manufactured worldwide each year are purchased in the United States, it said.

"There is roughly one firearm for every seven people worldwide. Without the United States, though, this drops to about one firearm per 10 people," it said.

India had the world's second-largest civilian gun arsenal, with an estimated 46 million firearms outside law enforcement and the military, though this represented just four guns per 100 people there. China, ranked third with 40 million privately held guns, had 3 firearms per 100 people.

Germany, France, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil and Russia were next in the ranking of country's overall civilian gun arsenals.

On a per-capita basis, Yemen had the second most heavily armed citizenry behind the United States, with 61 guns per 100 people, followed by Finland with 56, Switzerland with 46, Iraq with 39 and Serbia with 38.

France, Canada, Sweden, Austria and Germany were next, each with about 30 guns per 100 people, while many poorer countries often associated with violence ranked much lower. Nigeria, for instance, had just one gun per 100 people.

"Firearms are very unevenly distributed around the world. The image we have of certain regions such as Africa or Latin America being awash with weapons -- these images are certainly misleading," Small Arms Survey director Keith Krause said.

"Weapons ownership may be correlated with rising levels of wealth, and that means we need to think about future demand in parts of the world where economic growth is giving people larger disposable income," he told a Geneva news conference.

The report, which relied on government data, surveys and media reports to estimate the size of world arsenals, estimated there were 650 million civilian firearms worldwide, and 225 million held by law enforcement and military forces.

Five years ago, the Small Arms Survey had estimated there were a total of just 640 million firearms globally.

"Civilian holdings of weapons worldwide are much larger than we previously believed," Krause said, attributing the increase largely to better research and more data on weapon distribution networks.

Only about 12 percent of civilian weapons are thought to be registered with authorities.

Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein to be witness in Galleon hedge fund trial

Goldman Sachs' chief executive Lloyd Blankfein has reportedly agreed to be a prosecution witness in next week's trial of former hedge fund titan Raj Rajaratnam on insider trading charges.

The prospect of one of Wall Street's most powerful executives taking the stand will only increase interest in the case against Mr Rajaratnam, who co-founded the hedge fund Galleon Group.

Mr Rajaratnam is alleged by US prosecutors to have made $45m (2£8m) from trading on confidential information. He denies wrongdoing. The trial is scheduled to start next Tuesday.

Goldman has been drawn into the case after the Securities and Exchange Commission this week alleged that Rajat Gupta, a former board director at the bank, leaked details about Goldman's results in 2008 to Mr Rajaratnam.

Mr Gupta has denied the allegations and Goldman itself is not accused of any wrongdoing.

The New York trial is likely to shed light on the usually tightly sealed world of so-called "expert networks", which are used by some hedge funds to gain an insight into companies they invest in.

Prosecutors allege Mr Rajaratnam, who was born in Sri Lanka and educated in Britain and the US, used such a network to garner confidential information that he then traded on. If convicted, Mr Rajaratnam could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The case has huge implications for hedge fund industry as well as US prosecutors. Preet Bharara, Manhattan's chief attorney, has stepped up attempts to expose insider trading, which last year he described as rampant on Wall Street.

Goldman Sachs and Mr Bharara declined to comment.

Surge in oil prices sends stocks plummeting

Geoffrey Friedman of Baclays Capital keeps an eye on stock prices from his booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)Geoffrey Friedman of Baclays Capital keeps an eye on stock prices from his booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks dropped Friday after another spike in oil prices overshadowed a report that the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly two years.

Crude oil rose 2.5 percent to more than $104 a barrel, its highest level since September 2008, after fighting in Libya escalated. Markets have been rattled over the past two weeks as higher oil prices threaten to undermine the economic recovery by increasing transportation and production costs.

Higher energy prices sent stocks lower despite news that the U.S. job market is improving. The Labor Department reported that unemployment rate dipped to 8.9 percent in February from 9 percent the previous month. The rate has dropped for three months in a row and is now at its lowest level since April 2009. Employers added 192,000 jobs in February, the fastest pace in almost a year.

“They’re tugging at each other, employment and oil,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank. “Oil is high enough that it has to be a concern. The longer it remains at this level the greater the chance that it upends our recovery.”

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 88.32 points, or 0.7 percent, to 12,169.88. The Dow had been down as many as 178 points earlier.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 9.82, or 0.7 percent, to 1,321.15. The Nasdaq composite index fell 14.07, or 0.5 percent, to 2,784.67.

All 10 company groups that make up the S&P index fell. Financial companies fell 1.3 percent, the largest drop. Citigroup Inc. fell 3 percent and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. fell 2.1 percent after Bank of America analysts trimmed their earnings forecasts for the two banks. Analysts noted that they expect the turmoil in the Middle East will make institutional investors more cautious with their cash, leading to a drop in trading revenues.

Each index eked out small gains for the week after falling the week before. The Dow had the largest move, inching up 0.3 percent.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, raised its annual dividend 21 percent Friday. Its stock gained 0.1 percent to $52.07.

Bond prices rose, sending their yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.50 percent from 3.56 percent late Thursday.

Two stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 1 billion shares.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Unemployment Is Down, The Stock Market Is Up And The Economy Is Going To Be Just Fine

The American Dream

Haven’t you heard? The coming economic collapse has officially been canceled. The U.S. economy is in full recovery mode. It has just been announced that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.9% in February. That was the third monthly decline in a row. 192,000 new jobs were created in the U.S. during February. That was the fifth month in a row in which the U.S. economy has gained jobs. Corporate profits are way up. For the most recent month that numbers are available, sales of GM vehicles were up 49%, sales of Chrysler vehicles were up 13%, and sales of Ford vehicles were up 10%. Can’t you see? The great American economic machine has roared back to life. The stock market is way up this year. The recession is over. Our financial system is more stable than ever. Pretty soon all Americans that want jobs are going to be able to get jobs and all of our government debts are going to be paid off. The greatest days for the U.S. economy are just around the corner. So don’t worry, be happy.

Don’t worry, be happy – the U.S. unemployment rate is falling and it will continue to fall. Don’t be concerned that according to Gallup, the U.S. unemployment rate actually rose to 10.3% at the end of February. Everyone knows that U.S. government numbers are far more accurate than the numbers that Gallup puts out. Just don’t pay any attention to the “doom and gloomers” and just keep on watching American Idol. Very soon there will be plenty of jobs for everyone.

Don’t worry, be happy – globalism is doing wonderful things for the U.S. economy. Just look at all the incredibly cheap products from foreign nations such as China that are available in our stores. Do you think that all of this stuff would be so cheap if we didn’t have free trade? We may have a massive “trade imbalance” right now, but this is just temporary as we transition over to a one world economy. The job losses may look bad right now, but once our wage levels go down low enough we will be able to export more stuff to the rest of the world. So don’t be alarmed when the “protectionists” tell you that between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost. Those workers just need to get more “education” so that they can be competitive in today’s global economy. And please don’t listen to people like Alan Blinder, an economist at Princeton, who is projecting that offshoring will ulti­mately affect up to 40 million American jobs. The truth is that there are many jobs that simply cannot be outsourced. For example, workers over in China and India will never be able to flip the burgers that need flipping here in the United States and they will never be able to welcome people to your local Wal-Marts.

Don’t worry, be happy – the fact that the number of Americans on food stamps has set another new all-time high (44 million) is just an indication that more Americans are learning how to use government services. At some point this number will start to go down as the U.S. economy roars back to life.

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Gold to $57,000, Silver Even More? Interview of Adrian Douglas of GATA

Adrian Douglas marketforceanalysis was interviewed on Future Money Trends - yesterday (March 4th).

In the first part of the interview around the 7 minute mark is where he says the true price of gold is around $67,000 per ounce per dollars on the market. It is what the true value of the dollar is. Around 9:15 of first video, he says he thinks silver will trade more than gold, due to it not being recycled. He says silver is more scarce than gold because there is less of it than gold now.

Says he heard a Swiss bank has been advised to get rid of it's SLV and GLD, since there is nothing to back them.

Part 1 of interview:

At the beginning of this interview, he says he believes most above ground silver is gone and around 2:30 mark he says there haven't been deliveries this month of March. He says cash settlements are going on for contracts not to take delivery. He says there are many signs that there is a significant shortage of silver.
He says those who are investing in it don't want to blow the market up, just so they can keep buying as much as possible. I posted about the Word is JP Morgan is paying 80% premiums for people not to take physical delivery of their standing orders.

2nd part of interview

Side note:

Utah House passed a bill that allows Gold and Silver as Money and there would be no sales tax nor capital gains tax on the two. It now has to pass the Senate.

Twelve other states have offered similar proposals: Georgia, Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, Vermont and Oklahoma.

People Of Earth: Prepare For Economic Disaster

It is not just the United States that is headed for an economic collapse. The truth is that the entire world is heading for a massive economic meltdown and the people of earth need to be warned about the coming economic disaster that is going to sweep the globe. The current world financial system is based on debt, and there are alarming signs that the gigantic global debt bubble is getting ready to burst. In addition, global prices for the key resources that the major economies of the planet depend on are rising very rapidly.

Despite all of our advanced technology, the truth is that human civilization simply cannot function without oil and food. But now the price of oil and the price of food are both increasing dramatically. So how is the current global economy supposed to keep functioning properly if it soon costs much more to ship products between continents? How are the billions of people that are just barely surviving today supposed to feed themselves if the price of food goes up another 30 or 40 percent?

For decades, most of the major economies around the globe have been able to take for granted that massive amounts of cheap oil and massive amounts of cheap food will always be there. So what happens when that paradigm changes?

At last check, the price of U.S. crude was over 104 dollars a barrel and the price of Brent crude was over 115 dollars a barrel. Many analysts fear that if the crisis in Libya escalates or if the chaos in the Middle East spreads that we could see the all-time record of 147 dollars a barrel broken by the end of the year. That would be absolutely disastrous for the global economy.

But it isn’t just the chaos in the Middle East that is driving oil prices. The truth is that oil prices have been moving upwards for months. The recent revolutions in the Middle East have only accelerated the trend.

Let’s just hope that the “day of rage” being called for in Saudi Arabia later this month does not turn into a full-blown revolution like we have seen in other Middle Eastern countries. The Saudis keep a pretty tight grip on their people, but at this point anything is possible. A true revolution in Saudi Arabia would send oil prices into unprecedented territory very quickly.

But even without all of the trouble in the Middle East the world was already heading for an oil crunch. The global demand for oil is rising at a very vigorous pace. For example, last year Chinese demand for oil increased by almost 1 million barrels per day. That is absolutely staggering. The Chinese are now buying more new cars every year than Americans are, and so Chinese demand for oil is only going to continue to increase.

Much could be done to increase the global supply of oil, but so far our politicians and the major oil company executives are sitting on their hands. They seem to like the increasing oil prices.

So for now it looks like oil prices will continue to rise and this is going to result in much higher prices at the gas pump.

Already, ABC News is reporting that regular unleaded gasoline is going for $5.29 a gallon at one gas station in Orlando, Florida.

The U.S. economy in particular is vulnerable to rising oil prices because our entire economic system is designed around cheap gasoline. If the price of gas goes up to 5 or 6 dollars a gallon and it stays there it is going to have a catastrophic effect on the U.S. economy.

Just remember what happened back in 2008. The price of oil hit an all-time high of $147 a barrel and then a few months later the entire financial system had a major meltdown.

Well, as the price of oil rises it is going to create a whole lot of imbalances in the global financial system once again.

This is definitely a situation that we should all be watching.

But it is not just the price of oil that could cause a global economic disaster.

The global price of food could potentially be even more concerning. As you read this, there are about 3 billion people around the globe that live on the equivalent of 2 dollars a day or less. Those people cannot afford for food prices to go up much.

But global food prices are rising. According to the United Nations, the global price of food has risen for 8 consecutive months. Last month, the global price of food set a brand new all-time record high. Many are starting to fear that we could actually be in the early stages of a major global food crisis.

The price of just about every major agricultural commodity has been absolutely soaring during the past year….

*The price of corn has doubled over the last six months.

*The price of wheat has more than doubled over the past year.

*The price of soybeans is up about 50% since last June.

*The price of cotton has more than doubled over the past year.

*The commodity price of orange juice has doubled since 2009.

*The price of sugar is the highest it has been in 30 years.

Unfortunately, the production of food in most countries around the world is very highly dependent on oil, so as oil goes up in price this is going to make the food crisis even worse.

Hold on to your hats folks.

Also, as I have written about previously, the world is facing some very serious problems when it comes to water. Due to the greed of the global elite, there is not nearly enough fresh water to go around. The following are some very disturbing facts about the global water situation….

*Worldwide demand for fresh water tripled during the last century, and is now doubling every 21 years.

*According to USAID, one-third of all humans will face severe or chronic water shortages by the year 2025.

*Of the 60 million people added to the world’s cities every year, the vast majority of them live in impoverished slums and shanty-towns with no sanitation facilities whatsoever.

*It is estimated that 75 percent of India’s surface water is now contaminated by human and agricultural waste.

*Not only that, but according to a UN study on sanitation, far more people in India have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet.

*In northern China, the water table is dropping one meter per year due to overpumping.

These days, one of the trendy things to do is to call water “the oil of the 21st century”, but unfortunately that is not a completely inaccurate statement. Fresh, clean water is something that we all need, but right now world supplies are getting tight.

Our politicians and the global elite could be doing something about this if they really wanted to, but right now they seem perfectly fine with what is happening.

On top of everything else, the sovereign debt crisis is worse than it has ever been before.

All of the major global central banks have been feverishly printing money in an attempt to “paper over” this crisis, but it is not going to work.

Most Americans don’t realize it, but right now the continent of Europe is a financial basket case. Greece and Ireland would have imploded already if they had not been bailed out, and now Portugal is on the verge of collapse. The interest rate on Portugal’s 10-year notes has now been above 7% for about 3 weeks, and most analysts believe that it is only a matter of time before they are forced to accept a bailout.

Sadly, if the entire global economy experiences a slowdown because of rising oil prices, we could see half a dozen European nations default on their debts if they are not bailed out.

For now the Germans seem fine with bailing out the weak sisters that are all around them, but that isn’t going to last forever.

A day or reckoning is coming for Europe, and when it arrives the reverberations are going to be felt all across the face of the earth. The euro is on very shaky ground already, and whether or not it can survive the coming crisis is an open question.

Of course there are some very serious concerns about Asia as well. The national debt of Japan is now well over 200% of GDP and nobody seems to have a solution for their problems. Up to this point, Japan has been able to borrow massive amounts of money at extremely low interest rates from their own people, but that isn’t going to last forever either.

As I have written about so many times before, the biggest debt problem of all is the United States. Barack Obama is projecting that the federal budget deficit for this fiscal year will be a new all-time record 1.65 trillion dollars. It is expected that the total U.S. national debt will surpass the 15 trillion dollar mark by the end of the fiscal year.

Shouldn’t we have some sort of celebration when that happens?

15 trillion dollars is quite an achievement.

Most Americans cannot even conceive of a debt that large. If the federal government began right at this moment to repay the U.S. national debt at a rate of one dollar per second, it would take over 440,000 years to pay off the national debt.

But the United States is not alone. The truth is that wherever you look, there is a sea of red ink covering the planet.

The current global financial system is entirely based on debt. If the total amount of debt does not continually expand, the system will crash. If somehow a way was found to keep this system going perpetually (which is impossible), the size of global debt would keep on increasing infinitely.

Now the World Economic Forum says that we need to grow the total amount of debt by another 100 trillion dollars over the next ten years to “support” the anticipated amount of “economic growth” around the world that they expect to see.

The entire global financial system is a gigantic Ponzi scheme. It is designed to keep everyone enslaved to perpetual debt. If at some point the debt spiral gets interrupted in some significant way, we are going to witness an economic disaster that is going to make what happened in 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.

The more research that one does on the current global economic situation, the more clear it becomes that we are absolutely doomed.

So people of earth you had better get ready.

An economic disaster is coming.


Police State: CCTVs Watch ‘A British 70 times A Day’

In yet another blow to the slogans of freedom and democracy, a new study has revealed that there is one CCTV camera for every 32 British citizens.

According to the study, there are 1.85 million CCTV cameras in the UK where every citizen is caught on camera 70 times per day, British media reported.

The revelation, together with another assumption that tiny drones could be used to spy on the British people, has fueled the controversy that the UK has turned to become a police state.

Deputy Chief Constable Graeme Gerrard, the lead on CCTV for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said the latest numbers, based on a map of CCTV systems in Cheshire, were intended to “inject more rigorous figures into the debate” over Britain as a surveillance state.

“A widely quoted estimate of 4.2 million cameras in the UK was based on a 1.5km road in a busy shopping district and extrapolated out for the entire UK”, he explained.

And the previous estimate that the ‘average Briton is caught on security cameras some 300 times a day was based on a fictional tour of CCTV hot-spots’, added Gerrard.

“The figure of 1.85m is still a significant number of CCTV cameras”, he admitted.

Gerrard confirmed he was surprised to learn of other research which suggested the London underground network houses as many as 11,000 cameras.

However, Isabella Sankey, director of policy at the campaign group Liberty, said the figures would do little to allay concerns about surveillance in Britain.

“Who cares if there is one camera or 10 on their street if that one camera is pointing into your living room?” she asked.

“Concerns about CCTV are not a simple numbers game; what’s required is proper legal regulation and proportionate use”, added Sankey.

Raw Video: 12 News Camera Captures Lawmaker Being Tackled By Police