Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, September 6, 2013 7:01 pm

Quote of the day, Fed chair edition

From Dean Baker at the Council for Economic and Policy Research:

If one were to list the people most responsible for the country’s dismal economic state few people other than Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin would rank higher than Larry Summers. After all, Summers was a huge proponent of financial deregulation in the 1990s and the last decade. He was a cheerleader for the stock bubble and never expressed any concerns about the housing bubble. He thought the over-valued dollar was good policy (and therefore also the enormous trade deficit that inevitably follows), and he was unconcerned that an inadequate stimulus would lead to a dismal employment picture long into the future.

If you think high unemployment is a good thing that ought to continue, then support Larry Summers. If you don’t, contact your senators and tell them not just no, but hell, no. The last person you want in charge of the economy is one of the miscreants who blew it up in the first place.

(h/t: Fec)

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Thursday, July 26, 2012 8:29 pm

Sorry, but, yes, the 2008 bank bailouts really were as much of a reaming of the American taxpayer as we thought at the time

Another crappy “both-sides-do-it” column: Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers write at Bloomberg that our current political debate on the economy is a “sham” because leading economists unanimously agree that  the bailouts helped the unemployment situation. But economist Dean Baker provides the missing context: While that claim might be technically true, the bailouts could have been structured far more constructively than they were, both to address then-current problems and to help prevent the recurrence of similar problems:

The Wall Street banks were on life support in the fall of 2008. Without trillions of dollars of government loans and guarantees (much more came from the Fed than the TARP money that went through the Treasury), they would be dead, deceased, pushing up daisies, out of business. The boys and girls getting those huge paychecks on Wall Street were at Uncle Sam’s doorstep pleading for help. There was no one else to save them from destitution.

In this context there were three main choices. One was to drag out Mitt Romney and give them a lecture about the free market and tell them the government is not about giving people stuff. In this case the banks go under leading to a full-fledged financial melt-down. In this story, the economy certainly takes a bigger immediate hit, but the advantage is that we have a Wall Street free world. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and the rest would be history. They are in receivership, waiting to broken up and sold off. This parasitic sector that has led to so much waste, corruption and inequality is no longer a drag on the economy. Consider this short-term pain for long-term gain. (Just kidding about the Romney part, he supported the bailout.)

The second choice is hand over the money, which is the route we took. Oh yeah, Congress did put conditions on the money, but we know that was just for show. One of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in my years in Washington were the excellent stories on how executive compensation was treated in the TARP that the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal ran after the TARP passed.

Both articles featured comments from compensation expert Graeff Crystal who explained that the government could have changed compensation patterns on Wall Street forever (the Wall Street boys needed the money), but Congress instead took a pass. It would have been great if Crystal’s views were part of the public debate before the bill was passed.

This brings up option number 3, hand the money over but with real conditions. Congress could have said that banks that got TARP money, funds through the Fed’s special lending facilities, or benefited from the various Treasury and FDIC insurance commitments had to:

a) strictly limit all pay in all forms for the next five years;

b) set up a clear, legally enforceable plan for writing down underwater mortgages on their books;

c) agree to a breakup schedule that would get them below “too big to fail” size by a set date.

To my mind, option #3 was clearly the best route since it would fix the financial industry and avoid the crash that would result from going cold turkey in option #1. But let’s say that the choice is just the full crash in option #1 or the handout in option #2. In order to seriously decide between these we need some basis for assessing the size of the downturn. Saying that the short-term impact would have been worse in option #2 doesn’t tell us anything about the proper policy choice. We pay short-term costs for long-term benefits all the time. We need the terms of the trade-off.

In ths respect, the commonly claimed “second Great Depression”scenario is, to use a technical economic term, “crap.”  The first Great Depression, by which I mean a decade of double-digit unemployment was not locked in stone by the mistakes made at its onset. There was nothing that would have prevented the government from having the sort of massive stimulus spending that eventually got us back to full employment (a.k.a. World War II) in 1931 instead of 1941 and without the war. The fact that we remained in a depression for more than a decade was due to inadequate policy response.

In this respect, to claim that if we let the banks collapse we would have been destined to suffer a decade of double digit unemployment is absurd. That would only be the result if we continued to have bad policy, not just in 2008, but in 2010, in 2012, right through to 2018.

The serious question is how bad could we reasonably expect the downturn to have been if we had gone the cold turkey route. The place to look for insight on this question is Argentina, which went the financial collapse route in December of 2001. This was the real deal. Banks shut, no access to ATMs, no one knowing when they could get their money out of their bank, if they ever could.

This collapse led to a plunge in GDP for three months, followed by three months in which the economy stabilized and then six years of robust growth. It took the country a year and a half to make up the output lost following the crisis.

While there is no guarantee that the Bernanke-Geithner team would be as competent as Argentina’s crew [indeed, subsequent events have shown that they are not — Lex], if we assume for the moment they are, then the relevant question would be if it is worth this sort of downturn to clean up the financial sector once and for all. I’m inclined to say yes, but I certainly could understand that others may view the situation differently.

Anyhow, this is the debate that we should have had the time and at least be acknowledging in retrospect.

We had the bastards down in the fall of 2008, and we didn’t hit them with the chair. A century from now that failure will be considered the key turning point in the transition of the U.S. from a democratic republic to a full-on oligarchy.

Thursday, September 30, 2010 8:34 pm

Somewhere, the ghost of Mark Pittman is smiling

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 8:34 pm
Tags: , , ,

Pittman, the late reporter for Bloomberg News, died before his efforts to force the Federal Reserve to disclose details of its 2007-09 bailouts succeeded. But the Fed, rather than appealing to the Supremes, says it will disclose that info by Dec. 1.

I imagine that current and former bank CEOs across the country are rapidly arranging flights to non-extraditious climes.

UPDATE: My critics say I never admit when I am wrong. Well, in March I predicted that the Fed would fight this all the way to the Supreme Court. I’m delighted to announce that I was wrong.

Monday, September 6, 2010 6:05 pm

Crime wave

If you read/listen to the mainstream financial press, you probably presume that the primary responsibility of the Federal Reserve is to control interest rates.

That’s true, but it also is required by law to do something else:

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Open Market Committee shall maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy’s long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.

So, in addition to interest rates, the Fed also is required to seek maximum employment.

Has it done so? Obviously not. For one thing, it (or, for that matter, Congress) could have required banks and other firms that got bailed out to increase hiring, or to increase lending in ways that reasonably could be expected to lead to increased hiring. Instead, the money mostly went to bonuses and other nonproductive uses.

As Ryan Grim noted last December:

The Fed is mandated by law to maximize employment, but focuses on inflation — and “expected inflation” — at the expense of job creation. At its most recent meeting, board members bluntly stated that they feared banks might increase lending, which they worried could lead to inflation.

Board members expressed concern “that banks might seek to reduce appreciably their excess reserves as the economy improves by purchasing securities or by easing credit standards and expanding their lending substantially. Such a development, if not offset by Federal Reserve actions, could give additional impetus to spending and, potentially, to actual and expected inflation.” That summary was spotted by Naked Capitalism and is included in a summary of the minutes of the most recent meeting. The bank keeps secret the actual transcript. Likewise, because of Fed secrecy, it’s unknown which or how many members voiced such concerns.

Suffering high unemployment in order to keep inflation low cuts against the Fed’s legal mandate. Or, to put it more bluntly, it is illegal.

But, as is true of every other illegal thing banksters do, there will be no consequences. Remember, right after Grim wrote this, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was reconfirmed. And things have only gotten worse since, and neither Obama nor Congressional Democrats nor Congressional Republicans nor business is doing one damn thing about it.

Relatedly, and unfortunately, Crimes Against the Economy is not a capital offense, which is a lucky thing for former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan because Gonzalo Lira is standing by for the prosecution with a blindfold, a cigarette and one heck of a case.

UPDATE: Oh, and here’s a best-case projection of how long it’s going to take us to get back where we were, jobs-wise, in December 2007. And by best-case, I mean this chart outright ignores growth in the labor force, currently in the vicinity of 90,000 people per month.

Seven years. Best case. Reality: given that growth in the labor force since the Great Recession began in December 2007 means that instead of 7.6 million jobs lost in the past 32 months, we’ve actually lost 11.2 million jobs, it’ll be a lot longer than that.

Friday, May 14, 2010 8:27 pm

Taxation without representation

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 8:27 pm
Tags: , ,

Some of the less-informed members of the Tea Party movement have argued that our current economic arrangement constitutes taxation without representation. They’re right, but not in the way they think.

Zero Hedge guest poster Chindit13 explains:

Little known to the average taxpayer, the Fed is a public-private entity that not only issues the nation’s currency, but sets interest rate policy and has supervisory authority over the banking system.Its private owners, who are anything but neutral, number the largest banking and finance institutions in the country, the so-called Too Big to Fail banks.

Along with Treasury, the Fed has been instrumental in what SIGTARP Chief Barofsky has estimated has been $23 trillion of bailouts, loans, backstops and guarantees, since the financial crisis struck two years ago.  To put that number in perspective, it represents almost twice the US GDP and 40% of World GDP.  It also represents $75,000 for every man, woman, and child in the US.

Although not all of that money has been created or spent, much has, which means the US taxpayer now carries the responsibility for paying it back.  Oddly, one might even say immorally, the Fed goes out of its way to prevent even the democratically elected representatives of the people from seeing the inner workings of that entity.  The Fed—with help from the Obama White House—has lobbied to block access to information about what the taxpayer has bought, though the taxpayer is still required to pay for it, either directly in taxes or through inflation and a depreciating currency.  If this is not the definition of “Taxation without Representation,” I do not know what is.

Our state’s senators, Richard Burr and Kay Hagan, went along with a minimal audit requirement, and that’s OK for a start. But we need more. Much, much more.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 10:42 pm

Chris Dodd wants to retire. I say we impeach his butt before he gets the chance.

That whore for the banksters stripped out of his so-called financial reform act a measure requiring a public audit of the Fed that had already passed. Hello?

UPDATE: An interesting, and by “interesting,” I mean “bizarre,” coalition of senators is forming to try to require an audit of the Fed by the Government Accountability Office. Oh, please, oh, please ….

Friday, March 19, 2010 8:21 pm

And somewhere, Mark Pittman is smiling, at least for the moment

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 8:21 pm
Tags: , , ,

A federal appeals-court panel says the Fed must give up records on bank bailouts. Certainly the Fed will appeal this to the full court and, if it loses there, the Supreme Court. But this lawsuit, begun by the late Bloomberg reporter Mark Pittman, has so far generated legal rulings that, despite the whining of the Fed, the government and the banksters, yes, indeed, how our money is used is our business.

UPDATE: Oh, yes, they did:

The requirement of disclosure under FOIA and its proper limits are matters of congressional policy. The statute as written by Congress sets forth no basis for the exemption the Board asks us to read into it. If the Board believes such an exemption would better serve the national interest, it should ask Congress to amend the statute.

Normally, courts don’t tack on sentences like that last one, because, well, everyone who was awake in eighth-grade civics knows how that works. When they tack it on, it’s to make a point, and the point is that, contrary to what the Fed’s attorneys want people to think, this isn’t even a close legal question, not to say the Roberts SCOTUS won’t pretend otherwise.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 12:00 am

Odds and ends for 2/2

Punxsutawney Phil weighs in on this whole Groundhog Day thing. Spoiler: He is, profanely, obscenely, NSFW-ly not a fan.

Bestest snow in a decade: The night we moved into our current house in January 2000, we got what likely will be a strong contender for snowstorm of the century. This past weekend’s storm, which dumped better than 6″ on us and close to a foot not far north of here, was almost as good. Got to go sledding and have a snowball fight with the kids — they killed me. Enjoyed Cajun crab-corn chowder and other good eats with good friends. Settled into a warm armchair Sunday night with a great novel and some Nattie Greene’s Red Nose winter ale. Ahhhhh.

Bad news, worse news for banking: The current commercial real-estate bubble could take down the banking system when it pops. And CRE ain’t the only potentially lethal problem out there. I’ll say one good thing about the free-marketeers: They can certainly f\/(% up a banking system.

Goldman Sachs to tell THE president to get bent, pay ITS president a $100 million bonus: Someone explain to me again why we don’t want to punish the banksters.

More insider trading that the SEC somehow manages to overlook.

While Jim Bunning does the taxpayers a few favors on his way out the door, Chris Dodd is throwing Molotov cocktails: Dodd, along with Richard Shelby and Paul Kanjorski, has pretty much killed the proposed ban on proprietary trading by banks. Because the one thing we desperately needed was even more taxpayer money at risk. Or has he? Goldman Sachs’ stock price seems to think Dodd hasn’t killed it after all.

Has prop trading really killed even one bank? Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker asked that question today. The answer is yes: Merrill Lynch, which the Fed bribed Bank of America to take over. (That transaction itself has raised all manner of, for BAC officers/directors, ugly questions about what stockholders were and weren’t told about the ML takeover.)

The Fed: One big counterfeiter, basically. Which, honestly, is sort of what I had thought, except that I figured there were important distinctions that were eluding me on account of I’ve got the economic skillz of a cinder block. Turns out I was more right than I knew, which does NOT make me feel as good as you’d think.

Not that what people want actually matters, but health-care reform with a public option is more popular even among Republicans in swing districts than the current Senate bill, which lacks one. And to no one’s surprise, although at least 51 Democratic Senators are on record as supporting a public option, now that reconciliation (i.e., simple majority vote) could make it happen, some of those “backers” are backpedaling, lest they upset their corporate overlords.

As is often the case, The New York Times’ David Brooks is guilty of slopping thinking. Matt Taibbi dopeslaps him back in the direction of reality and, in the process, puts in a shout-out for factual journalism over the false equivalence of “objective” journalism.

If you believe this, 26 states, including North Carolina, are insolvent. I don’t know whether to believe it or not, but, lord, it wouldn’t surprise me at this point.

I suppose it’s possible that repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” will disrupt some military units … which is what desegregation opponents in the military warned Harry Truman 60 years ago. And as the fictitious Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on “The West Wing” observed, “You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it.” More to the point, so, basically, did all the senior witnesses who testified before Congress on the matter today.

Why the hell isn’t someone under indictment for this?: The CIA is allowing some of its personnel to moonlight for private, for-profit corporations. This isn’t bad only because it divides CIA staffers’ focus/attention, although that division is, indeed, a bad thing; it’s bad because it gives certain corporations access to government secrets they’re not entitled to have.

Why, it’s almost as if someone’s looking out for the taxpayers’ interests: Defense Secretary Robert Gates has fired the head of the $350 billion F-35 program because of cost overruns and performance issues. He also has withheld hundreds of millions in payments to Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the fighter jet. There’s gotta be a catch; I just haven’t figured out yet what it is.

I personally think Khalid Sheikh Muhammad should be tried in New York City, and I think people who think otherwise for any reason other than the cost of security are incontinent. And here’s what I would call a conservative argument in favor of trying KSM in, if not in New York City proper, at least in a civilian federal court elsewhere within the Southern Judicial District of New York. And here are some other reasons why letting the White House, Congress and local officials butt into this is a bad idea.

Colorado Springs tries an interesting social experiment: Rather than raise taxes, the city is letting a third of its streetlights go dark, letting dozens of police and firefighter positions go unfilled, not paving any streets and cutting all kinds of other services. I am sincerely interested in seeing what happens with this.

The NFL may well be the most popular sports operation in America, but they still desperately need competent public-relations counsel.

As do Senate Democrats, who spent the weekend schmoozing with bank lobbyists in Miami. No way that could go wrong for the taxpayer.

Supposedly we now have a study that says abstinence-only sex education works: Except for the part where the program studied — which might, in fact, work, although I’d say more study is needed — was not, in several important ways, abstinence-only. More details here. This isn’t just apples to oranges, it’s apples to mountain oysters.

As does Sarah Palin, whose PAC spent more money in the last half of 2009 on copies of her book than it did in contributions to other political candidates, ostensibly the PAC’s primary purpose. For those of you following along at home, this is a way of funneling political contributions to her PAC straight into her own pockets.

Question of the day, from Eli: “… if only one political party’s base gets to be taken seriously, does it really have to be the one that parades around with pictures of the President Of The United States dressed as a witch doctor?”

What could possibly go wrong? A Michigan man with a sled tried to fashion a rocket pack out of an old car muffler, gasoline and gunpowder. Police say he had been … wait for it … drinking. (h/t: Nance)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 12:17 am

Odds and ends for 1/25

Enron may be dead, but its ghost continues to mess with us: “White House and Congressional Democratic leaders say they now believe that they have the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster of Mr. Bernanke’s reappointment.” … “… strategy on the Bernanke confirmation was being led by former Enron lobbyist Linda Robertson, who is viewed as an effective advocate for the banking chief on Capitol Hill.” But don’t worry — the president’s going on TV Wednesday night to assure us he feels our pain.

Heckuva job, Bernanke: The Fed is required by law  (12 U.S.C. § 225a) to manage monetary policy so as to create jobs for as many people as possible. True story. It also is required to report semiannually on what steps it has taken to comply with this and other requirements. What did its most recent report say about creating jobs? Not bloody much. So explain to me again why this guy should get another four years in the job.

You can pay me now or pay me (a lot more) later: Cutting early-childhood programs hurts jobs now, costs society more later, research shows. My experience covering politics leads me to believe that the kind of people who oppose this sort of spending are not, in general, the type who tend to be convinced by science/research, but, what the hell, I’ll post it anyway.

Yo, Pat, it wasn’t the devil who cursed Haiti. It was Thomas Jefferson. (h/t: Jill)

How could we help Haiti long-term? Cancel its debt, for one thing.

If anything more progressive than the Senate health-care bill is politically dangerous for Democrats, then why is the guy charged with getting Democrats elected to Congress telling Obama and the Senate to shove it?: Maybe because he has seen this polling. Retiring Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark., on the other hand, clearly has not.

Memo to HuffPo: Your games are no fun when you let the irony-impaired play. (h/t: Beau)

Holy crap: December existing-home sales, expected to be down 10% (or, per Goldman, 15% at worst), were in fact down 16.7% from November, the biggest one-month decline in history.

Speaking of real estate, the biggest real-estate transaction in history has gone into default. Corollary: Apparently it’s OK for real-estate giant Tishman Speyer to walk away from its debts, but don’t try this with your underwater home, kids.

Prisoner’s dilemma, in that everyone who doesn’t work for Goldman Sachs is kind of a prisoner of everyone who does: Goldman Sachs’s chief bull, Jim O’Neill, has gotten somewhat ursine. So does that mean that they know the economy’s going to get worse because they’re running it, or does it mean they want us to think they think it’s getting worse so that they can bet on improvements, engineer those improvements, and win? Decisions, decisions.

Priorities in a post-peak-oil reality, from James Kunstler: “The money that went into propping up the automobile companies could have been used to rebuild the entire railroad system between Boston and the Great Lakes, and the capital squandered on AIG and its offshoot claimants could have rebuilt everything else the rest of the way to Seattle. Is it really so hard to imagine what history requires of you?”

Classifying information to cover up a crime is, itself, a crime. So it makes me very curious to know not only what about the New York Fed’s plans to bail out AIG was kept secret from the SEC on “national-security” grounds, but also why that was done.

Health-care reform: a pictorial timeline (w/generous dollops of snark).

Shorter Michael Barone: How DARE we let the people who actually know what they’re doing decide things? Bonus Stoopid: He talks about knowing how to “manipulate words” like it’s a BAD thing.

We are a polarized nation, and because that’s the case, anyone hoping to prevail in an off-year election probably needs to forget about trying to appeal to the “broad middle” because there ain’t one.

Question for Sen. Bill Nelson: What, exactly, does “the left” control? Because it sure ain’t the White House, Congress or the Supreme Court.

Memo to Andrew Breitbart: Insisting that your questions are serious is no substitute for asking serious questions.

Memo to Harold Ford: Hell, no, we’re not going to cut taxes for you and your rich friends. In fact, jackhole, you’re lucky this country does not tax Stoopid. Hey, do me a favor, dude: PLEASE run for Senate from New York with that platform. I could do with a laugh.

The stimulus saved 1.2 million jobs, but the government needs to do even more, according to a USA Today survey of 50 economists.

They say hope is not a plan, but apparently, for the Obama administration (shorter WaPo), hope was a plan. Oy.

Which is more of a plan than Congressional Democrats have on finance reform.

If you’re going to believe Hitler was a leftist, then you also have to believe … Oh, the places you’ll go!

How to steal a trillion (and a half): John Hussman explains how it’s done.

Pity the rich and their oh, so difficult lives.

Prince Charles is part switchblade. Almost literally.

Sunday, January 24, 2010 12:08 am

Odds and ends for 1/23

Insider trading at the Fed?: Or tied to the Fed, anyway. Yet one more reason to audit the thing, and I don’t mean just routine annual audits, either.

Meanwhile, over at the New York Stock Exchange, one can also find hinky goings-on.

Prop-trading ban will hit Goldman Sachs a lot harder than Goldman says, according to an independent credit analyst. In the immortal words of Al Capone, I’ll send flowers. If you own Goldman stock, you should consider the strong probability that you’re being lied to.

Roundup of stories on the prop-trading ban and related issues, here.

Whose Kiss of Death is deadlier, Fred Mishkin’s or Alan Greenspan’s? I don’t care as long as at least one of the two works as advertised and Ben Bernanke slithers back off to the private sector.

So if Bernanke doesn’t stay as Fed chair, who should get the job? Zero Hedge nominates John Taylor, whose thoughts on the roots of the current crisis can be found here. I do not agree with everything Taylor believes, but I believe that on balance he would be a substantial improvement on Bernanke. I’d like to know whether someone else might be even better.

Paul Volcker’s rise from exile to the president’s right hand helpfully resurrects a short (well, compared with Barney Frank’s 1,100-page bill) paper on restoring security and stability to the U.S. financial system.

Rx from Ezra Klein: “If Democrats abandon health-care reform in the aftermath of Brown’s victory, the lesson will be that they can’t govern. … A plumber and I both agree that my toilet should work. But if he can’t make it work, I’m not going to pay him any money or invite him into my home. Governance isn’t just about ideology. It’s also about competence and will. That’s where Democrats are flagging.”

Another Rx: The California Supreme Court ruled this week that people with prescriptions for medical marijuana can have/grow all they need, not subject to arbitrary state limits. Yeah, that increases the likelihood of abuse, but there was no medical basis for the old limits. Let doctors make that call.

My BS meter just pegged: The same Lord Hutton who certified, despite questionable evidence, that British weapons inspector David Kelly committed suicide has ordered all records in the case sealed for 70 years.

My BS meter just pegged again: Walter Isaacson reviews the new book by John Yoo in today’s NY Times without ever using the word “torture.”

S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer says we need to stop feeding poor people because they breed: I am not making this up: “You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior.” He also called for drug testing for the parents of the 58 percent of S.C. schoolkids who receive free or reduced-price lunch. I think I know who needs the drug test.

Obama adopts another trick from the Bush bag: This time, it’s having the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel retroactively legalize illegal surveillance. So that’s why the Senate never took up Dawn Johnsen‘s confirmation as head of OLC: There’s no way she’d have signed off on this crap.

The pope says priests should blog. I think that’s a great idea, but I think they’ve got other things to do first.

And finally, DJ Earworm’s annual remix of the Billboard magazine Top 25 pop songs of the year, for 2009. This year’s is called “Blame it on the Pop”:

Monday, January 18, 2010 8:53 pm

Odds and ends for 1/18

Memo from the NY Times to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission: Public hearings are good, but subpoenaing documents is better. Yup. Banksters committed fraud on a massive scale. This commission isn’t a law-enforcement agency, but what it finds can help Justice and SEC investigators do their jobs. In fact, it may force them to do their jobs, which a mere sense of duty has not, so far, sufficed to do.

More from the FCIC: The head securities regulator for the state of Texas testifies about how the feds have kneecapped state investigators/investigations, not because they would do a better job but to protect the very people they’re supposed to be regulating. Biggest. Fraud. In. History.

Memo to right-wing nuts (and anyone else, although I suspect only the wingnuts would be stupid enough to try this): Do not invite journalists into your home, sit for an interview and then demand their tapes at gunpoint, because your ass will go to prison and your wallet will go to the journalists. Having once covered the Klan, I’m taking particular satisfaction in the outcome of this case.

The Fed elides oversight and political meddling because it thinks you and I are too stupid to know the difference. Stupid Fed.

Darrell Issa wants Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson to testify about the AIG bailout. So do I, but Issa has a little more leverage than I do. Uh, Democrats, that slamming sound you hear is Issa walking out the back door with your populist mandate for 2010.

More fraud uncovered: This time, short-sale fraud. And wonder of wonders, it’s CNBC that has uncovered it. Memo to Mary Schapiro: When CNBC looks both more honest and more industrious than the SEC, then you are officially Teh Suck.

For once, J.P. Morgan outperforms Goldman Sachs … if, by “outperform,” you mean, “directs an even more inexcusably large percentage of its total revenues to banker bonuses”64 percent of revenues. Not of profits, of revenues. Remember, Morgan, like the other 37 banks reviewed by the WSJ, has significant amounts of crap disguised as assets on its balance sheets, and even more crap off the sheets that soon will have to be moved onto the sheets. And are the banks setting aside capital to cover the inevitable write-downs? No, they’re buying helicopters and Hamptons houses.

If voters could vote on Obama’s financial appointments they way they can vote on Chris Dodd, Obama would be paging a lot of empty offices. For good reason.

Liberal academia? Yes — because conservatives choose disproportionately not to become college professors. These findings, albeit not yet published, are consistent with some earlier research.

Who killed Pat Robertson? Why, it was Lily Coyle, in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (2nd letter down), with a clue.

Freedom’s just another word for no one left to screw: Retiring Sen. Chris Dodd could be scrapping the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency before he goes.

Well, it’s a step: The U.S. releases the names of 645 detainees at Bagram. Good. But some  of those people have been held for years without even being told why. Not good.

PhrMA theatens to blow up health-care reform. A friend of mine has proposed that any attempt to make a profit off health care should be made a crime. I think that’s extreme, but when stuff like this happens, I understand the anger that gives rise to such suggestions.

Dawn Johnsen might say torture is illegal. Therefore, she cannot possibly be allowed to run Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, or else the terrorists win.

Memo to special prosecutor John Durham: In the marathon investigation of the destruction of CIA torture videos, the DFHs are eating your lunch. Bet they aren’t charging the government as much as you, too.

All of a sudden, “conservatives” are in favor of privacy. And it’s interesting how the kind of privacy they favor dovetails neatly with protecting them from being held accountable for their actions. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

If you’re following Perez v. Schwarzenegger and it sounds awfully like Dover v. Kitzmiller, well,  there’s a reason for that: In both cases, science is/was under siege. Science won in Dover. Let’s see what happens in Perez.

Republicans, having fed off the productive among us for so long, are now simply outraged that one of their own is doing it to them. More specifically, their cynical selection of Michael Steele as national chairman to try to appeal to African American voters now means that even though he needs firing and is daring them to fire him, they can’t do it.

Why does Rush Limbaugh hate the troops? And why do the troops continue to air him on Armed Forces Radio when he hates them?

More map pr0n! Geocurrents has created a map blog tied to news events.

Thought for the day: Requiring drug tests for welfare recipients makes sense only if we also drug-test recipients of federal earthquake relief, tax credits and bank bailouts. Despite what you may have been told, your odds of getting into Heaven do NOT increase in direct proportion to the number of times you kick poor people.

“Never (annoy) a walrus.” Because if you do, the bucket is the least of your problems.

Friday, January 1, 2010 12:39 am

Odds and ends for 1/1

I have no idea what the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee is, but inasmuch as it just sued the Fed for records, I like it already.

Auld Lang Syne: Sam Stein reminds us that then-N.C. Sen. Elizabeth Dole was among 8 GOP senators who voted in 2007 against spending $250 million to upgrade U.S. airport security. On the one hand, what was she thinking? On the other hand, in hindsight, what have we gotten for that $250 million?

Feeling safer yet?: The guy overseeing the probe of how the U.S. compiles and uses its terrorist watchlist is the same guy who 1) helped design it under Bush and 2) got rich working on it in the private sector.

I call BS: VH-1 had some special on tonight about shocking moments in rock or somesuch, one item of which was Keith Richards’ reportedly having snorted his dad’s cremains like cocaine. Unless he ground ’em up really, really well, it never happened. Cremains are actually coarse enough to give you a fast lung abcess or three if you inhale them. (Sugar will do the same — inhaling pulverized sugar was a favorite suicide method of Soviet Gulag inmates — and cremains are even coarser.) So, as with so much else Keith has done or been reported to have done, kids, do not try this at home.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times: Ten Things That Totally Sucked About the Media in 2009, followed by Ten Things That Did Not Suck About the Media in 2009.

I presume this legal theory also will be brought to bear in the cases of Guantanamo inmates: Four Blackwater (now Xe) mercenaries get off on murder charges because federal investigators, despite explicit warnings from prosecutors overseeing the case, relied too heavily on compelled statements.

Another military history: The New York Times has obtained and posted a secret, 422-page official military history of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2005, and the parallels between it and the Vietnam War’s Pentagon Papers are striking and depressing. Memo to those with whom I was arguing on Christie Tatum’s Facebook page on government secrecy: This is a big and classic example of the kind of stuff I was talking about.

“I can’t help but think this is God’s way of telling Rick Warren to STFU.”: So sayeth Lisa Derrick on the lying megachurch pastor’s plea for $900,000 before year’s end. Warren implies that church services to jobless members has combined with lower-than-expected offerings on the last weekend of the year to create this budget gap. I have two questions: How can one weekend create a gap that big? And why should we believe a word that comes out of Rick Warren’s mouth?

Clearly, Focus on the Family needs to STFU, too: This wingnut Christianist outfit has laid off more than 500 people in the past four years but thinks it’s important to spend $4 million on a Super Bowl ad to tell people it opposes abortion. Like we couldn’t have guessed. Jackasses.

Other people who need to STFU: The Dumbest Quotes of the Decade.

Memo, which The Washington Post hasn’t read: Pete Peterson and his outfit are not disinterested analysts/journalists/commenters. They have an agenda, and the agenda is to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and give that money to rich people.

The Stones are crooning “Dead Flowers” and I’m drinking a carbonated beverage made from dead, fermented grain of some sort, and it’s getting on toward bedtime. To better days.

Friday, November 20, 2009 9:33 pm

Odds and ends for 11/20

Huge win for the good guys, by which I mean taxpayers: House Finance Committee overwhelmingly and with true bipartisan support votes to audit the Fed. Barney Frank, previously a supporter, voted against. He’s going to need a damn good explanation.

Welcome to the 21st century, beehortches: Muslims want an anti-blasphemy law? Well, I want a jet pack and I ain’t getting that, either.

Come for the counsel, stay for the funny anecdotes (or vice versa): The NYT asks a shrink to tackle the fraught topic of holiday family get-togethers.

Transact this: Economist Dean Baker on the case for a financial-transaction tax. Short version: Yes, it would raise (microscopically) the cost of capital, but like booze and cigarette taxes, it would discourage something harmful: in this case, the kind of high-frequency, high-volume, low-value trading currently dominating the stock market. (Let’s face it, when the market can go up significantly on a day when more than a third of all trading involves the stock of just four companies — four basically insolvent companies — does the economy really benefit?)

Show some respect: A large majority of Americans, and 53% of Republicans, think it’s OK for the president of the United States to bow to the leader of a foreign country he’s visiting when it’s custom to bow in that country, according to a poll from that hotbed of pro-Obama liberalism, Fox News (question 18).

Shorter Amanda Hess, for the win: Why is sexism only a problem when it affects Sarah Palin?

Funding priorities: Can we please all agree that whatever else goes into health-care reform legislation, it ought not contain a dime for stuff that doesn’t work? Or has Teh Stoopid rendered even that common-sense position untenable?

Consumer advocacy: Elizabeth Warren sez, “We need a new model: If you can’t explain it, you can’t sell it.”

Once-a-century confluence?; or, Who are you and what have you done with the senator?: When Sen. James Inhofe and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer agree that it’s time SecTreas Tim Geithner resigned, maybe it really is time Tim Geithner resigned.

Thursday, November 19, 2009 9:47 pm

Odds and ends for 11/19

Good news, bad news: The good news: The S&P 500 is sitting on a ton of cash. The bad news: The cash came from being overleveraged and from failure to invest in existing business and/or growth, which will lead to bad future news on both revenues and employment.

It’s OK if you’re a Republican: The Obama White House gets criticized for attempting to manage the news cycle … by Karl Rove.

Shorter Peter Wehner: Sarah Palin hasn’t an idea in her head, but just because she’s both stupid and a whiner is no reason to criticize her. (No, I’m not making this up. Even better: I’m linking to Commentary.)

Why competence matters: New Orleans flooded after Hurricane Katrina because the Army Corps of Engineers messed up, a federal judge rules. Cue the lawsuits, and this is one case in which I don’t want to hear any whining about tort reform.

If you want to make an omelette heal a soccer player, you have to break a few eggs birth a few horses: This is the kind of alternative medical treatment for which I might well look for an alternative … any alternative. (h/t: friend and former co-worker Christie on Facebook)

Texas declares war on marriage: Does mathematics’ reflexive property of equality (a = a) apply to Texas family law? If so, then in banning gay marriage, the state might have outsmarted itself and banned all marriage when it added this phrase to its constitution: “This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” And one of the legal statuses identical to marriage is, well, marriage. At least, so says the Democratic candidate for attorney general.

If you’re going to hire a hack, at least hire a talented hack: President Obama has named former Bush White House spokesbot Dana Perino to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees civilian U.S. government broadcasts. I’m trying to decide whether to be outraged or to conclude that it’s a good idea to have a propagandist in charge of propaganda. Or to conclude that it’s a good idea to have a propagandist in charge of propaganda but wish for a GOOD propagandist rather than Perino.

North Carolina’s Mel Watt is on the side of the demons in the audit-the-Fed debate. Those of you in the 12th District, which includes many of us right here in fair Greensboro, need to get in his face about this. Whether you’re in NC-12 or elsewhere, you can petition the appropriate committee leaders here. More background here.

Because Goldman Sachs didn’t have enough people qualifying for big, taxpayer-financed bonuses already: The vampire squid is promoting 272 people to managing director.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Banksters. (Bonus: background info on how U.S. credit card fees paid by merchants and passed on to consumers, are some of the world’s highest.) Memo to the Democrats, which will cost them far less than the advice they get from professional consultants: When your political opponent starts gouging the public, during the holidays, in the middle of a recession — when he basically hands you a chair and says “Hit me over the head with this!” — if you want to win elections, you hit him over the head with it. (Key phrase there being, “If you want to win elections …”)

“Nothing bespeaks personal character like the volatile use of violence on your opponents”: Chuck Norris confesses that anger-management issues rule out a political career for him. Hey, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Why does Glenn Beck hate America? No, really.

Remember: Conservativism cannot fail, it can only be failed: Bonus fun: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is a “registered hate group.” Where do you register as a hate group? How much does it cost? How often does the magazine come? Do you get movie passes?

And, finally …

Today’s Quote of the Day, on how conservatives are blaming all electoral ills, including legitimate Republican losses, on ACORN, from Hullabaloo commenter “Pseudonymous in NC” (and, no, that’s not me; I only wish I had thought of this): “For wingnuts, ‘ACORN’ rhymes with ‘trigger’. That’s what this poll tells you.”

 

Thursday, November 12, 2009 6:26 am

Let’s get in on the ground floor

Filed under: We're so screwed — Lex @ 6:26 am
Tags: ,

If we can’t audit the Fed, Zero Hedge suggests, then it’s time for an initial public offering. Maybe THAT way we can find out what’s on its balance sheet.

Hey, nothing ELSE has worked.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 8:15 pm

Calling out Sen. Kay Hagan

I mentioned earlier that North Carolina’s junior senator, Democrat Kay Hagan, had not signed on to S. 604, the Senate companion to Rep. Ron Paul’s HR 1207 audit-the-Fed measure. Now we know why: She opposes it:

Under common usage of the term audit — an examination of accounts and records — there is already a 100 percent audit of the Federal Reserve.

And the records of these audits are publicly available where, exactly?

Furthermore, Congress already reviews semi-annual reports on monetary policy submitted by the Board of Governors as required under the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act (PL 95-523).

Bully for Congress. What about the rest of us?

When Congress passed the Federal Banking Agency Audit Act in 1978, the legislation attempted to balance the need for public accountability of the Federal Reserve with the need to insulate the Reserve’s monetary policy function from political pressures. I believe this balance must be maintained going forward.

Because that’s worked out so well up ’til now.

There are political pressures and political pressures. Messing with the money supply or meddling in markets for partisan advantage is one thing, and a very bad thing at that. That said, the public needs to know how its economy and its fiat currency are being managed, so that the experts among the public can advocate for policy on the basis of the soundest possible information. That isn’t happening now, mainly because under current circumstances, it can’t.

The formulation of monetary policy is a decision-making process that involves information gathering from a host of foreign governments and central banks. The information provided from those exchanges is critical and extremely sensitive. The immediate and broad disclosure that S. 604 would require could disrupt the financial markets, and jeopardize our country’s international finance relationships.

Release of information can be delayed just long enough to keep it from being able to move markets.

Ultimately, it would be taxpayers who would bear the brunt of any losses resulting from policies caused by untimely disclosure of sensitive information. Because of this, I do not believe the benefits of legislation like the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act outweigh the costs.

Like we haven’t been bearing the brunt of losses already.

As Zero Hedge points out, we need answers to other questions, among them:

Under what circumstances, and under what authority, did the Federal Reserve step in and become the lender of last resort to the entire world?

Given what has happened in the past year, why is it such a good idea to have the Fed (which is to say, us) remain on the hook for $6.5 trillion in other countries’ potential problems?

Why have we not mitigated the international conditions that made it necessary for the Fed to bail out these other countries, so that we’re at just as much risk now as we were before the collapse of Lehman Bros. a year ago?

To what extent do we recognize, and to what extent are we addressing, the dangers created by the weakening dollar? (Yeah, I realize a weak dollar should help exports, but with capacity down in the 60s and not likely to budge soon, it ain’t helping much.)

Why is the Fed’s discount window allowing banks to offer stock in bankrupt companies as collateral? And if the banks can do it, why can’t I?

Cuz here’s the thing:

… the Fed’s liquidity swaps are now back to almost zero. This means that foreign Central Banks believe they have the [foreign-exchange] swap and dollar maturity situation under control. They thought the same before Lehman blew up. And they were wrong. As the [dollar] continues tumbling ever lower [against the yen] to fresh 2009 lows, the trade de jour is once again the dollar funding one, although unlike before when the Yen was the carry currency of choice, this time it is the dollar itself, positioning banks for the double whammy of not just a dollar funding shock, but one coupled with a potential massive and historic short squeeze. If and when an exogenous event occurs, not even $6.5 trillion in Fed swap lines will be sufficient to bail out the world economy.

In plain English, if something else bad happens, we’re going to go through the same thing we went through a year ago. Only worse.

And then there are the categories of information Rep. Alan Grayson has asked for — and still not gotten:

  • Information that Bloomberg reporter Mark Pittman has requested via a Freedom of Information Act Request on the Bear Stearns rescue and that the Federal Reserve is contesting in the courts,[i] and which Manhattan Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska has ordered by turned over by the Federal Resrve.
  • Information that Rep. Grayson requested in February at a hearing and by follow-up letter on which institutions received the $1.2 trillion added to the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, how much reach institution received, and what was promised in return.
  • All Federal Reserve documents that went to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office relating to the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch merger in which potentially illegal and coercive activity might have occurred, as well all Federal Reserve documents relating to the lawsuit pursued by Merrill Lynch shareholders in the US District court for the Southern District of New York.
  • Transcripts of all Open Market Meeting Minutes up to and including that of June, 2009, transcripts which are normally withheld from the public for five years.
  • Full disclosure of all terms and conditions of all off-balance sheet Fed transactions in the past three years.

In light of all of this, someone needs to explain to me again why Ben Bernanke should be re-confirmed. Because I’m thinking Sen. Hagan needs to vote a big, fat, resounding “Nay!” on that one.

Elsewhere, Zero Hedge writes:

We hope that the over 300 members of Congress who already support Ron Paul’s “Audit the Fed” Initiative consider the implications of what the Lehman fiasco has taught us, and how this unique look into the Fed’s balance sheet should be a very critical reminder of just how much risk the Fed is willing to take on with taxpayer capital when bailing out a financial system that, absent ongoing accounting gimmickry and endless Reserve Banking System subsidies, is still rotten to its core.

If they support Paul’s measure or its Senate companion measure, it’s probably because they’ve already considered those implications.

Sen. Hagan would be wise to do the same.

UPDATE: Kay, here’s a clue: Whatever Jon Kyl wants to do, both you and Americans in general are probably better off doing the opposite.

Friday, September 25, 2009 5:45 pm

“This town Fed needs an enema!”

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 5:45 pm
Tags: , ,

And Sen. Alan Grayson is ’bout ready to give ’em one:

My favorite part:

Alan Grayson: Do you mind if we have a GAO [Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigating arm of Congress] audit to see if there has been front-running or insider trading by [dealers through which the Fed executes its trades]? Do you mind? Is that OK with you?

Scott Alvarez: I am not sure if I have that authority…

Yo, Scott: It ain’t your call, bro.

UPDATE: Matt Taibbi recalls his own close encounter with Alan Grayson:

In his capacity as an attorney he once basically threatened to have me dismembered and have my body parts dumped in a tin canister and fired into the center of a burning supernova. And that’s actually underselling the real language he used. We were having a disagreement about the use of information given to me by a certain source in a story about military contracting, and in the middle of what had been a normal contentious argument between two sane adults, dude suddenly assumed this crazy monster-voice and just went medieval on me. He was roaring into the telephone about how he was going to crush me, how I was going to wish I had never messed with him, how I didn’t know who the hell I was dealing with, and so on.  It came totally out of the blue and it was like being on the telephone with a metamorphosing werewolf — the whole performance genuinely freaked me out. I may even have peed a little, I can’t remember.

When I heard Alan Grayson was running for Congress, I remember thinking to myself, That Alan Grayson? The lunatic? It can’t be, I thought. I kept imagining trails of half-eaten sheep leading to his campaign appearances. But it turned out to be true. …

And now every time I see Alan Grayson, he’s tearing some freaked-out bureaucrat a new [orifice] in the middle of some empty conference room in the Capitol somewhere. I see the looks on the faces of these poor souls and I know exactly what they’re going through. Which is just hilarious, frankly.

Werewolves, half-eaten sheep and mutilated bureaucrats — Taibbi hits the My Favorite Things trifecta.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 11:11 pm

A win for the good guys

Filed under: You're doing WHAT with my money?? — Lex @ 11:11 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve posted a couple of times about HR 1207, the Ron Paul-sponsored bill to audit the Fed. Good news, and, no, I’m not being snarky: HR 1207 now has 290 votes in the House — a two-thirds majority. That means the House, at least, will pass the bill even over an Obama veto.

The companion Senate bill, Bernie Sanders’ S 604, is still pending in the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee. It has 25 co-sponsors, two more than when last I checked. N.C.’s Richard Burr is one of the 25; our other senator, Kay Hagan, is not.

Why not, Kay?

Thursday, August 27, 2009 8:15 pm

Nice economy you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it. (cont.)

Filed under: You're doing WHAT with my money?? — Lex @ 8:15 pm
Tags: ,

That’s basically what the banks that have gotten taxpayer bailout money are saying about Bloomberg’s FOIA lawsuit and bills pending in Congress to audit the Federal Reserve:

In a declaration filed in the Bloomberg Case (08-CV-9595, Southern District of New York), the banks demonstrate no shame in attempting to perpetuate the status quo with regard to the Federal Reserve and demand that the wool over the eyes of the general population remain firmly planted in perpetuity.

The [group of tax-receiving banks] submits this declaration because the Court’s Order threatens to impair the ability of our members to access emergency funds through the New York Fed’s Discount Window without suffering the severe competitive harm that public disclosure of their identity will cause.

Our members have accessed the New York Fed’s Discount Window with the understanding that the Fed will not publicly disclose information about their borrowing, especially their identity. Industry experience, including very recent and searing experience, has shown that negative rumors about a bank’s financial condition – even completely unfounded rumors – have caused competitive harm, including bank runs and failures.

Surely transparency would facilitate rumor-mongering to an unprecedented degree. After all rumors spread much easier when everyone knows the true financial condition of banks.

And here, in plain written Times New Roman, you see what racketeering by a major bank consortium looks like:

If the names of our member banks who borrow emergency funds are publicly disclosed, the likelihood that a borrowing bank’s customers, counterparties and other market participants will draw a negative inference is great. Public speculation that a financial institution is experiencing liquidity shortfalls – which would be a natural inference from having tapped emergency funds – has caused bank customers to withdraw deposits, counterparties to make collateral calls and lenders to accelerate loan repayment or refuse to make new loans. When an institution’s customers flee and its credit dries up the institution may suffer severe capital and liquidity strains leaving it in a weakened competitive position.

Pardon me if I am a broken record here, but would rumors not spread much less if there was more transparency, if investors and other financial intermediaries were fully aware of the conditions of their counterparties, if banks did not have to cover their billions in reserve losses by pretending they are viable and essentially being constant wards of the state?

I say again: rigged game. Here’s hoping the judge has the good sense to laugh this out of court. And thanks to ZH for keeping this issue in front of us.

UPDATE: In the House, Barney Frank calls their bluff, saying HR 1207 will pass in October, with delays on release of data added so that the info won’t be “market-sensitive” in the way the banks claim to fear. Senate prospects less clear.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 8:13 pm

Linin’ ’em up

A couple of weeks ago I said that auditing the Federal Reserve was a great idea even if it was Ron Paul who introduced the bill that would make it happen. I am delighted to note that that bill, HR 1207, has, as of today, 282 co-sponsors, more than enough to pass if the bill makes it to the floor. I’m less delighted that only one of Greensboro’s three reps, Howard Coble, is among the co-sponsors, although I don’t know whether that means Brad Miller and Mel Watt oppose the bill or just figured that with a majority assured they would turn their attention to other things.

The companion Senate bill, S 604 from Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, has 23 co-sponsors, ranging in political ideology from Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to Sam Brownback, R-Kansas. (That’s quite a range, actually.) Among them is North Carolina’s Richard Burr but not our other senator, Kay Hagan. I do not know why that is.

But here’s what I suspect.

I suspect that the Fed has been doing things with our tax dollars, largely for the benefit of a few very large financial institutions, that will infuriate people once word becomes public. I further suspect that the wave of outrage that will follow will be something any incumbent and quite a few challengers would want to surf, rather than be swamped by. That wave is coming, and the time to get your board lined up and get up on your feet is drawing to a close.

There’s additional good news on this front: The Bloomberg news organization sued the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last year under the Freedom of Information Act for records on how tax money was spent. On Monday, a federal judge granted Bloomberg’s motion for summary judgment, meaning that both the facts and the law are so clearly on Bloomberg’s side that there’s no need for a trial. The bank has five business days to provide certain records and until Sept. 14 to let the court know how it intends to provide others. Should bank allies manage to kill or stall the Paul or Sanders bills, people could just file more FOIA lawsuits. So one way or another, this stuff’s coming out.

Congresscritters and would-be congresscritters of all stripes, take note.

UPDATE: Arguably another excellent reason to support auditing the Fed: Tim Geithner thinks it would be a bad idea.

Thursday, May 28, 2009 8:54 pm

Let the sun shine in

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 8:54 pm
Tags: , ,

The Federal Reserve has been refusing to tell us how the taxpayers’ money being used to bail out banks is being spent. In fact, that agency’s inspector general has told Congress she doesn’t even know. Now, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., is calling for the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, to audit the Fed (H.R. 1207). You can go here to sign on in support of that measure.

It’s our money. We ought to know where it went.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 9:11 pm

Shame shortage

Clearly, money ain’t the only thing they’re running low on at AIG:

American International Group Chief Executive Edward Liddy will speak out against criticism of the insurer’s employees on Wednesday and talk about the company’s future plans, the Wall Street Journal said.

Liddy will speak to a U.S. House oversight committee and ask for a better partnership with the government, according to the paper.

“Rampant, unwarranted criticism of AIG serves only to diminish the value of our businesses around the world,” the paper quoted Liddy’s prepared testimony.

Yeah, Ed, that’s exactly the kind of behavior that’s going to wind down all that “rampant, unwarranted criticism.”

Tell you what, Ed. If you’ll undo ruining the economy, throwing millions of people out of work, tanking the stock market, destroying people’s college and retirement savings and contributing greatly to the general financial and human misery arising from the situation in which we now find ourselves, I’ll reconsider some of my “rampant, unwarranted” criticism.

And Condition No. 1 for “a better partnership with the government” is you repay the $170 billion you owe it, jackass. ‘Til then, I don’t want to hear another damn word out of your mouth.

UPDATE: In the comments, Fred reminds me of a quasi-related subject I’d meant to blog about and forgot: Rep. Alan Grayson gives the Fed inspector general a pop quiz, and she flunks. Badly:

(More on Grayson earlier, here.)

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