Vermonters Lobby for Public Bank—And Win Millions for Local Investment Instead
by Alexis Goldstein
Posted January 15, 2015
Advocates didn’t get the public bank they wanted. But the compromise they reached in the end was still a rare and significant win over Wall Street banks. Right before 2014 came to a close, Wall Street won an enormous victory in the year-end spending bill. The so-called “CRomnibus” bill, which included language written by Citigroup lobbyists, gutted a key piece of Wall Street reform meant to prevent future bailouts of big banks with taxpayer money.
This win came after the financial industry spent years chipping away at the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which passed in 2010. Wall Street lobbyists gained little victories along the way, but never stopped asking for more. By making bold and ongoing asks, Wall Street was able to win, even when lawmakers sought a compromise.
There’s another group of Americans, however, with a different agenda for the future of banking—people who are also pushing hard for policy change. They’re advocates of public banking, and they want to see new banks created that would be owned and operated by the government, usually at the state or city level. (This would greatly increase the amount of investment capital available for small business development, local infrastructure, and affordable public transportation, none of which are much favored by private banks seeking a high return on investment.) More…
The crash of 2016: Wall Street gets ready
By Mike Krauss
Posted January 10, 2015
In the more than six years since the 2008 Wall Street crash, nothing has been done to rein in the abuses of the parasites in pin stripes that were its cause. Another crash is inevitable.
My guess is, it will come in late 2016, when the banksters have selected the candidate for president that will be as dependable an ally as the incumbent he or she will replace, as they did in 2008, to insure maximum political protection.
But it could come sooner, unscripted, set off perhaps by a bad bet in the almost $300 TRILLION (yes with a T) derivatives casino. But whenever it comes, what happens next? Another panic on Wall Street, the banksters desperate to call in their bets and not be the one left standing when the music stops, forced into bankruptcy? More…
The Coming War on Pensions
by Michael Hudson
Posted January 7, 2015
On the Senate’s last day in session in December, it approved the government’s $1.1 trillion budget for coming fiscal year. Few people realize how radical the new U.S. budget law was. Budget laws are supposed to decide simply what to fund and what to cut. A budget is not supposed to make new law, or to rewrite the law. But that is what happened, and it was radical.
Most of the attention has been paid to Elizabeth Warren’s eloquent attack on the government guaranteeing bank trades in derivatives. Written by Citigroup lobbyists, this puts taxpayer funds behind future bank bailouts if banks make more bad bets on complex financial derivatives, such as packaged junk mortgage loans.
Critics have focused on how there must be a loser for every winner in a derivatives contract. The problem is that if banks lose, the government will bail them out just as it did in 2008. Less attention has been paid to what happens if banks win. They will win largely in making bets against pension funds. Indeed, pension funds have not been treated well by Wall Street in recent years. More…
by Andy Sutton
Posted January 4, 2015
The G20 recently adopted the FDIC/BOE bail-in resolution mechanism at its last meeting. What this means is that all member nations are now urged to codify the bail-in into their laws. Many, including the United States, have already done so. Nothing has been taken yet. This is just another step towards the normalization of stealing depositor money to cover bank losses.
There is a lot of psychology at work here. At first, the idea of stealing bank deposits to cover losses seems like theft – which it is. But the public is so against using taxpayer money after 2008 because it saw how crooked that was that anything, ANYTHING, is better than taxpayer funded bailouts. So let’s introduce the idea of a bail-in. After all, if you deposit your money in an institution and it fails, shouldn’t you share the risk? It never was supposed to be that way, but ok. So then we’ll write up a bunch of whitepapers, try it all out on some poor people on an island nobody has ever heard of (meanwhile warning the big money that the ax is about to fall), then cause absolute chaos over the course of a two week period. The sad thing is that test was a success. The sheep took their shearing with little in the way of resistance – what could they do really – and even more importantly, the rest of the sheep around the world were too busy wrapped up in Snapchat and Twitter to even notice what had just taken place. But ignorance is bliss, right? More…
The American People Are Utterly Clueless About What Is Going To Happen As We Enter 2015
by Michael Snyder
Posted January 3, 2015
The American people are feeling really good right about now. For example, Gallup’s economic confidence index has hit the highest level that we have seen since the last recession. In addition, nearly half of all Americans believe that 2015 will be a better year than 2014 was, and only about 10 percent believe that it will be a worse year. And a lot of people are generally feeling quite good about the people that have been leading our nation. According to Gallup, once again this year Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman in America and Barack Obama is the most admired man in America. I don’t know what that says about our nation, but it can’t be good. Unfortunately, when things seem to be going well common sense tends to go out the window.
Sadly, what we are experiencing right now is so similar to what we witnessed in 2007 and early 2008. The stock market had been on a great run, people were flipping houses like crazy and most people were convinced that the party would never end. But then it did end – very painfully. The signs of trouble were there, but most people chose to ignore them. More…
How a Hedge Fund Made $100 Million From New Jersey’s Desperation
By Cezary Podkul
Posted January 1, 2015
When state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff briefed lawmakers on New Jersey’s ailing budget in April, he brought good news. His office had just raised a welcome $92 million thanks to a deal that bailed out two bond issues headed for default.
New Jersey had no legal obligation to make good on the debts, which were backed by payments from a national settlement with the nation’s leading tobacco companies. But Sidamon-Eristoff said the bailout was a “no brainer” because it protected the state’s reputation with lenders and raised badly needed cash.
An examination of this transaction by ProPublica shows that the argument for the deal was far from clear cut. As it bailed out bond investors, New Jersey traded away an estimated $400 million in future tobacco revenues that would have flowed into state coffers starting in 2017. More…
When the Workers Become the Owners: Taking the Co-op Movement to the Next Level
By Brian Van Slyke
Posted December 24, 2015
There’s a revolution taking place in the US workforce – but you may not have heard about it. Around the country, workers are starting businesses that they democratically control and that financially benefit them. These businesses, called worker cooperatives, are owned and governed by the employees. Every worker is a member of the co-op, which gives them one share and one vote in the company’s operations.
Worker co-ops are ending structural extraction of wealth by anchoring money and resources in low-income communities. Worker co-ops are a great strategy for low-income workers to plug into economic opportunities. Workers are gaining access to owning business, not just waiting for a paycheck from one. Those wages feed into community needs and resilience, from educational opportunities and child care for kids or elderly care for older people, to remittances abroad and financial literacy for people who might not have access to those skills. More…
High Fructose Corn Syrup Now Hidden Under a New Name
by Anna Hunt
Posted December 19, 2015
Food producers have many tactics for hiding food ingredients which have become unpopular with consumers, and such has happened to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) following numerous scientific studies that have linked it to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and autism. In order to stop using the HFCS name in the ingredients list, food makers have taken to calling a sub-category of HFCS as “fructose syrup” or, plainly, “fructose”.
HFCS is a highly-processed chemical sweetener used in many processed foods, including breads, cookies, candy, condiments, and soft drinks. HFCS extends the shelf life of products, and it is often cheaper than sugar, which are the main reasons why manufacturers like it. But HFCS has gotten a bad rep, considering the circumstantial evidence that links it to various metabolic diseases, so Big Food and the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) decided to get creative. More…
What Really Matters?
by Zen Gardner
Posted December 14, 2015
It’s amazing how the big questions in life are pushed to the end of the line. Sure everyone wonders about the “big stuff” on and off, but their lives are too preoccupied with other issues that they’ve been told are more pressing and important – when it’s nothing of the sort.
This applies directly to the on-going awakening and how to put our best foot forward in times like these. How best can we be used to effect change? What is the most productive and effective course of action in our personal lives?
With everything at stake at this crucial juncture in history these questions become profoundly important. And the answers just may surprise each of us. More…
Rising debt service costs: Public banks for tax relief
By Mike Krauss
Posted December 11, 2015
Across the United States, states and municipal governments struggle to provide essential public services, such as schools, public safety, courts and prisons, public health, transportation infrastructure and parks, while also trying to keep taxes down for a middle class burdened with taxes of every kind.
Some of those taxes are easily identified, like those on income, wages, property, sales and gas. Some are almost invisible. One of these is the tax on the money raised by the bonds that governments issue to pay for capital projects.It’s called interest, and this tax shows up in our public budgets and financial reports as “debt service,” which adds to the burden on taxpayers.
In California for example, construction of the new Bay Bridge in San Francisco was projected to cost $6 billion. But California taxpayers are also on the hook for more than $6 billion more in interest, which will be paid to investors who purchased the bonds used to raise the first $6 billion. More…