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Post-Crash Dynamics If you look carefully at the economic data that shows improvement, and correct for the impact of government outlays, it is difficult to find anything but continued deterioration in private demand and investment (Hussman Funds)
Bernanke Reflects on Fed's Actions in Forum In a forum on the Fed's role in the handling of the economic crisis and recovery, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reflected on his desire not to be the Fed chief who "presided over the second Great Depression." (PBS)
Bernanke: Fed Can Handle Expanded Role For Economy Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday fended off congressional skepticism about expanding the Fed's duties to police big financial companies given the central bank's failure to catch problems that led to the financial crisis (CNBC)
The Great American Bubble Machine From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression — and they're about to do it again - But then, any attempt to construct a narrative around all the former Goldmanites in influential positions quickly becomes an absurd and pointless exercise, like trying to make a list of everything. What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain — an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy. (Rolling Stone)
UK 'powerless' to stop EU regulation A senior French official has confirmed Gordon Brown is almost powerless to stop the creation of a European regulatory machinery at today's EU summit, opening the way for a transfer of control over the City from London to Brussels (London Telegraph)
Fed Up: Audit the Federal Reserve, by Ron Paul A common misconception is that the Fed is completely independent of political pressures. While the Fed has far too much authority to make agreements with foreign governments and central banks, or create temporary liquidity facilities, the governors and--more important--the chairman, are appointed by the president. (Forbes)
Are the people who 'really run the world' meeting this weekend? ~ The Bilderberg group, the topic of many conspiracy theories, is now meeting behind closed doors in Greece. From today until May 17, approximately 150 of the most influential members of the world's elite will be meeting behind closed doors at a hotel in Greece. They are called the Bilderberg Group or the "Bilderbergers," and you have probably never heard of them.
The group, co-founded by Prince Bernard of the Netherlands, has been meeting in secret every year since 1954. This year, says the British broadsheet The Times, they are meeting at the Nafsika Astir Palace in Vouliagmeni.
The individuals at the meeting come from such power houses as Google and the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Senate and European royalty. Governments, the banking industry, big oil, media and even the world of academia are amongst the Bilderberg ranks.
Those reportedly in attendance at last year's conference in Virginia include former U.S. senator Tom Daschle; Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and his predecessor Henry M. Paulson; former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Condoleezza Rice; Microsoft executive Craig Mundie; senior Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot; World Bank President Robert Zoellick and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. (Haaretz)
Cashing in on 'Government Sachs' The fact that the chairman of the New York Federal Reserve Bank made millions off his secret purchase of Goldman Sachs stock, "in violation of Federal Reserve policy," as the WSJ put it, at a time when the N.Y. Fed was ostensibly overseeing the antics of the Wall Street firm, has barely registered a blip of outrage (Huffington Post)
American capitalism gone with a whimper It must be said, that like the breaking of a great dam, the American decent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed, against the back drop of a passive, hapless sheeple, excuse me dear reader, I meant people (Pravda)
How the Nation's Only State-Owned Bank Became the Envy of Wall Street The Bank of North Dakota is the only state-owned bank in America—what Republicans might call an idiosyncratic bastion of socialism. It also earned a record profit last year even as its private-sector corollaries lost billions. To be sure, it owes some of its unusual success to North Dakota’s well-insulated economy, which is heavy on agricultural staples and light on housing speculation. But that hasn’t stopped out-of-state politicos from beating a path to chilly Bismarck in search of advice. Could opening state-owned banks across America get us out of the financial crisis? It certainly might help, says Ellen Brown, author of the book, Web of Debt, who writes that the Bank of North Dakota, with its $4 billion under management, has avoided the credit freeze by “creating its own credit, leading the nation in establishing state economic sovereignty.” Mother Jones spoke with the Bank of North Dakota’s president, Eric Hardmeyer. - MJ: Would states with your model have any new tools to get out of the credit crisis?
EH: Let me put it to you another way and tell you another thing that we do. We also provide a dividend back to the state. Probably this year we’ll make somewhere north of $60 million, and we will turn over about half of our profits back to the state general fund. And so over the last 10, 12 years, we’ve turned back a third of a billion dollars just to the general fund to offset taxes or to aid in funding public sector types of needs.
MJ: Not bad for a state with a population of 600,000.
EH: Right. And here’s another thing: Back in 2001, 2002, when we went through the dot com bust, all the states suffered some sort of budget shortfall, including the state of North Dakota. At that time our budget shortfall was fairly insignificant--$40 some million. And so it was quite easy to overcome that. The governor just simply said alright, we’re going to turn back 1 percent of all general fund agencies, and the Bank of North Dakota, you will declare another dividend to make up the balance. And so we did that. Our capital was in a fine position to go ahead and do that. So in some cases we’ve acted as a rainy day fund.
MJ: And now the current downturn seems to have bypassed you.
EH: The State of North Dakota does not have any funding issues at all. We in fact are dealing with the largest surplus we’ve ever had. So our concern is how do we spend it wisely and make sure we save it for the future. (Mother Jones)
Obama’s involvement in Chicago Climate Exchange--the rest of the story The charity was the Joyce Foundation on whose board of directors Obama served and which gave nearly $1.1 million in two separate grants that were "instrumental in developing and launching the privately-owned Chicago Climate Exchange, which now calls itself "North America's only cap and trade system for all six greenhouse gases, with global affiliates and projects worldwide." (Canadian Free Press)
Should White House Employees Keep Bonuses? In addition, the Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, who was previously the dean of Harvard Law School, also served on an advisory council for Goldman Sachs and received a $10,000 stipend, according to her financial disclosure form. But she, too, received no bonus, the administration said. (New York Times)
IMF Says Advanced Economies Already in Depression (Update1) Ten days ago, the IMF cut its world-growth estimate for this year to 0.5 percent, the weakest pace since World War II. Stimulus packages alone won’t succeed in dragging the global economy out of recession unless confidence is restored in the banking system, Strauss-Kahn said today. (Bloomberg)
Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull Bailout Pay Cuts; Madoff Warnings Ignored? - QUESTION: That seems as if people that the president called shameless last week are being allowed to go on the honor system. I mean, what is the accountability? You said accountability. What is the teeth? I mean, what happens if these people violate it? Do we yank the money back? Do we bankrupt the firms? Do we fire the executives? ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I will get clarification from Treasury on that, but I don't -- I mean, first of all, the beginning and the end of these is not just putting something on a Web site. (CNN)
Obama: Bonuses 'shameful' “That is the height of irresponsibility,” Obama said before a meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. “It is shameful. And part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility.” (Politico)
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