Monday, September 29, 2008




"Bush: economic situation is urgent"

And, Say, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, How Can I Get An Unlimited Credit Line That Never Goes Away No Matter How Much I Screw Up?

Stuff Dubya's ass with cash, I guess. See, if you're a nanosecond late on your low-interest credit card, they jack it up to what used to be known as usury-level rates, before the corporatists eliminated that Biblical term from our legal lexicon: It's what very bad people charge you to borrow money, you know, like Vinny the Nose? (Creditors can charge pretty much anything they want now, according to the Feds.)

But the bankers don't have to pay anything when they're late. In fact, if they totally default, YOU have to pay. At least, that's what the Republican Administration of George "Dubya" Bush in Warshenden DEE-see says. If you don't like it, you can vote for the tame corporatist Congressional Democrats Bushco suckered into supporting the bail-out. Or, you can move to Tierra Del Fuego. Your choice. The boat leaves in half an hour.

The good news is, we won't be able to afford the war any more. The bad news is, we never could. And now we can't afford anything else. Thanks, McBush.


For now, duplicating dollars on the Federal Reserve copy machine may stabilize markets. Or not. But, in the long run, it will drag the dollar down from its' sudden new heights, caused by trashing nearly every other economy in the world. A high dollar coupled with decreased foreign demand for US good & services could inch us into recession, whatever else happens. The Fed will have to pull those extra bucks back in eventually, causing yet another crunch in the credit markets. More of us won't be able to borrow as much money as cheaply or as easily for buying stuff, less stuff will get sold, companies will have to lay off workers, resulting in even lower sales for all industries, and, hey, isn't this what we call a race to the bottom?

It will take financial genius and a delicate hand on the wheel if we're not all going to be a lot poorer in the very near and not-too distant future. Not the kind of hands, or brains, that McCain or Palin have. Are we ready for a smart President, yet? Or will it be four more years of Zippy the Republican Pinhead? Are we having fun yet?

In the meantime, I mean, until we get rid of Bush, the sh*tstorm continues. With no Congressional accord on any solutions, thanks to the extreme right-wing Repukelickin's, the Bushco bureaucrats at Treasury and the Federal Reserve are free to write ginormous checks in your name with no, as McSame like to parrot, "preconditions." So, don't worry pretty baby, the bail-out is proceeding at full tilt, and without any oversight. Which is exactly what the Repukes wanted all along. And they've hung the whole thing on the Dems. If it weren't so FREAKIN' STUPID, I'd say it was brilliant.

"Fed makes billions available to battle crisis"
See, the bankers can fix this themselves! With your money, and no oversight.

' The Federal Reserve and foreign central banks moved Monday to pump billions of dollars to cash-strapped banks at home and abroad in a dramatic bid to break through a credit clog and spur lending. Under one new step, the Fed will boost the amount of 84-day cash loans available to U.S. banks. The Fed is increasing the amount to $75 billion, up from the current $25 billion starting on Oct. 6. Banks bid on a slice of the loans at an auction. That move will triple the supply of 84-day loans to $225 billion, from $75 billion, the Fed said. Meanwhile, the Fed will continue to make $75 billion worth of shorter, 28-day loans available to banks. All told, the total amount of cash loans — 84-day and 28-day — available to banks will double to $300 billion from $150 billion, the Fed said. Moreover, the Fed made an extra $330 billion available to other central banks. That boosted to $620 billion the total amount available to the central bank through currency "swap" arrangements, where dollars are traded for their currencies. That total is up from $290 billion previously being made available through such arrangements. '

"Investors swarm T-bills as House rejects bailout "
Industry freezes as government fumbles; banks hold out for hand-outs.
' To be sure, some of the problems in the credit markets, where corporate borrowers go to find loans, have been feeding on themselves. Much of the recent tightness in the markets has been caused by investors waiting for the outcome of the rescue package, which proposed to allow the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion buying banks' souring mortgage-backed debt. "I think everybody focusing on Washington froze the credit markets," said Howard Simons, strategist with Bianco Research in Chicago. Potential buyers figured the government under the plan would buy mortgage-backed securities, he said, but they did not know how it would go about it, or how much it would pay — and that kept them in wait-and-see mode. Furthermore, few companies have even tried to issue debt in the current environment. But while it is possible that fears are overblown, even the most daring investors appear hesitant to make contrarian bets — particularly given how many times academics, government officials and bank executives called a bottom to the global financial systems' woes, only to have their predictions blow up in their faces. The global financial landscape continues to change, keeping large and small investors alike on edge. '

"Bailout blow triggers stampede to safety"
"See the economy. See the economy fall. Fall, economy, fall." - Dubya's briefing book today.
' Uncertainty about what comes next, and whether the U.S. Congress can agree on legislation to relieve the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression sent investors into gold and U.S. Treasuries. Oil fell on fears of further economic slowdown, and the Japanese yen hit a 4-month high. Investors worried that a collapse in financial markets would tip the United States economy into a painful recession that drags the rest of the world down with it. World stocks, as measured by the MSCI's world index lost about $1.7 trillion on Monday. The Dow Jones industrial average posted its largest point decline ever while the benchmark S&P 500 had its worst day since the 1987 crash with an 8.8 percent drop. Latin American stocks tumbled 13 percent, their biggest decline in more than a decade. The shakeup in the financial landscape spread to Europe from the United States, with Belgian-French financial services group Dexia the latest to receive a bailout when three governments and key shareholders on Tuesday injected 6.4 billion euros ($9.18 billion) into the firm. That followed government rescues of Belgian-Dutch group Fortis NV, Germany's Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, British mortgage lender Bradford & Bingley Plc and bailout deals in Iceland, Russia and Denmark. Global central banks scrambled to relieve a severe squeeze in money markets by more than doubling the amount of dollar funding to $620 billion as banks hoarded cash, bracing for more trouble ahead in the worsening credit crisis. "With the financial storm as strong as ever and investors now looking to scramble and seek shelter, many see the Fed coming in and cutting rates to stimulate some confidence," Martin Batur, deputy head of dealing at IG Markets wrote in a note. '

"Fed's Hoenig: keeping dollar value key despite crisis"
The sky isn't falling? I guess our heads are all just shooting up into the stratosphere, where they will soon explode. Nothing to worry about, move along, move along.
' The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank president said the Fed must stay focused longer term on holding down inflation to protect the dollar's value even though financial market turmoil is creating a sense that the "sky is falling." "It is imperative for monetary policy to maintain the value of the dollar," Thomas Hoenig told local business leaders at an economic forum in Gering, Nebraska. He said it was important not to overreact to financial market turmoil, which led to Monday's record points fall for the Dow Jones industrial average after a Congressional move to bail out the financial sector was voted down. "When I read and watch the news, I get a definite sense that the sky is falling," Hoenig said. "But we need to take a deep breath and think about what is happening." Exports remain a significant source of strength for U.S. growth, but are likely to tail off somewhat in the face of weaker global growth, he said. Despite risks to growth, Hoenig said the Fed cannot lose its focus on inflation, especially as recent high commodity prices work their way through to final product prices. "Inflationary pressure is one of the concerns I have," he said. "At 5.5 percent, (headline) inflation is too high, and will have a long-term impact on the economy." "I'll be more anxious than others to reduce excess liquidity" and start raising interest rates when that is feasible, Hoenig said. In response to a question, Hoenig said the Fed's massive injections of liquidity into gummed-up money markets are not inflationary for now but risk an inflation bubble if not reversed in a timely fashion. The central bank faces "a very delicate, difficult piece of surgery" to raise rates at the right time, Hoenig said. "It is a balancing act that requires great skill, great judgment." '

"Euro drops against dollar on European bank fears"
The Euro's down and the Yen is up. The dollar is in the details.
' The euro fell further against the dollar on Tuesday as fears grow about the health of European banks amid global turmoil after the failure of a US financial rescue plan, dealers said. The European single currency slipped to 1.4376 dollars from 1.4432 in New York late on Monday. Against the Japanese currency, the dollar rose to 105.06 yen from 104.03. The euro slid after US lawmakers rejected the 700-billion-dollar financial rescue plan touted by Washington as vital to avert economic collapse. "Credit worries are deepening over the European financial system... after the US bailout plan was rejected," said Saburo Matsumoto, chief foreign exchange strategist at Sumitomo Trust Bank. '

"Dollar hits 4-mth low vs yen on US stock market rout"
Well, folks, the money had to go somewhere: Zurich & Tokyo.
' The dollar slid to a four-month low against the yen on Tuesday as investors fled risky positions after the U.S. Congress failed to pass a $700 billion bank bailout package, sparking the biggest stock market rout since 1987. The dollar dropped as low as 103.53 yen on trading platform EBS, down 0.6 percent from late U.S. trade after having tumbled 1.8 percent on Monday. The yen and Swiss franc are seen as a safe-haven currency in times of financial market turmoil. '

"Business hits back after Congress bailout vote"
What campaign contributions purchase. Or not.
' Business lobbyists scolded the U.S. Congress and threatened political payback after lawmakers handed the financial services industry a stunning defeat by killing a $700-billion Wall Street bailout. The vote Monday in the House of Representatives to reject the rescue plan, proposed by the Bush administration September 20 and modified by congressional leaders over the past week, came as a rude shock to powerful and deeply entrenched interests. House members who supported the bailout have received about 50 percent more in campaign contributions from the finance, insurance and real estate sectors in their congressional careers than those who opposed the emergency legislation, said a campaign finance watchdog group after the vote. The Center for Responsive Politics, using data going back to 1989, said members of Congress who helped defeat the bailout had, on average, collected nearly $590,000 from the industries most affected over their careers, while the bailout bill's supporters had received $883,000. '

"FDIC asks to boost deposit limits"
Whew! Now the rich won't have to open a second bank account! You've saved them a trip! Thanks, peasants!
' The federal agency that guarantees bank deposits is asking Congress for temporary authority to raise the limit on the amount of money it insures for individual bank accounts. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Shelia Bair put out a statement late Tuesday afternoon asking that Congress allow her agency to increase the $100,000 limit per account that has been in place since 1980. "Unfortunately, there is an increasing crisis of confidence that is feeding unnecessary fear in the marketplace," Bair said. "To address this crisis of confidence, I do believe that it would be helpful for the FDIC to have the temporary ability to raise deposit insurance limits." '

"Stocks rally as Bush pushes revived bailout "
Heard on the Street: "PSSST- The fix is in. Pass it on!"
' U.S. lawmakers and President George W. Bush eased pressure on financial markets on Tuesday by starting work to revive a $700 billion bailout plan to stem a credit crisis that has spread beyond Wall Street to claim more European banks. U.S. stocks roared back -- a day after their worst sell-off in 21 years -- and the dollar rallied as investors bet Washington would manage to salvage a package to stabilize the financial sector after Monday's shock defeat on Capitol Hill. The Standard & Poor's 500 index shot up by more than 5 percent, the biggest one-day gain for that measure of the broad market in six years. '

"US 'casino' mentality blamed for planet's meltdown"
What happens in Wall Street doesn't stay in Wall Street, apparently.
' Astounded by the U.S. government's failure to resolve the financial crisis threatening the foundations of the global free market, fingers of blame are pointing at America from around the planet. Latin American leaders say the U.S. must quickly fix the financial crisis it created before the rest of the world's hard-won economic gains are lost. "The managers of big business took huge risks out of greed," said President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, whose economy is highly dependent on U.S. trade. "What happens in the United States will affect the entire world and, above all, small countries like ours." In Europe, where some blame a phenomenon of "casino capitalism" that has become deeply engrained from New York to London to Moscow, there is more of a sense of shared responsibility. But Europeans also blame the U.S. government for letting things get out of hand. Amid harsh criticism is a growing consensus that stricter financial regulation is needed to prevent unfettered capitalism from destroying economies around the globe. And leaders of developing nations that kept spending tight and opened their economies in response to American demands are warning of other consequences — a loss of U.S. influence globally and the likelihood that the world's poor will suffer the most from greed by the biggest players in global finance. "They spent the last three decades saying we needed to do our chores. They didn't," a grim-faced Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Tuesday. Even staunch U.S. allies like Colombian President Alvaro Uribe blasted the world's most powerful country for egging on uncontrolled financial speculation that he compared to a wild horse with no reins. "The whole world has financed the United States, and I believe that they have a reciprocal debt with the planet," he said. "This crisis underlines the excesses and uncertainties of a casino capitalism that has only one logic — lining your pockets," said German lawmaker Martin Schulz, chairman of the Socialists in the EU assembly. "It also shows the bankruptcy of 'law of the jungle' capitalism that no longer invests in companies and job creation, but instead makes money out of money in a totally uncontrolled way." The U.S. government's failure to apply rules that might have prevented the crisis is seen as a betrayal in many developing countries that faced intense U.S. pressures to liberalize their economies. In some developing nations, state enterprises were privatized, currencies were allowed to float against the U.S. dollar and painful measures were taken to bring down debts. These advances are at risk now that credit is drying up. Countries with commodities-based economies are particularly vulnerable since more industrialized nations could reduce their demand for everything from soy to iron ore. "It doesn't seem fair to me that those of us who endured so much hunger in the 20th century, who began to improve in the 21st century, should have to suffer due to the international financial system," Silva said. "There are going to be a lot of people going hungry in the world." "What's to blame? Imperialism, the United States, the irresponsibility of the United States government," said the self-avowed socialist and frequent U.S. critic. "From this crisis, a new world has to emerge, and it's a multi-polar world." China's influence in the outcome of all this could be profound because it is a huge investor in U.S. debt. It is already calling for strict new international regulatory systems to apply to globalized financial markets. '

"Main Street America angry over credit crisis"
Listen to your Kugel.
' As Wall Street collapses and politicians in Washington struggle to agree on a rescue package, credit markets across America are grinding to a halt, leaving many business owners and would-be borrowers alike without money to get by. Anger and blame are everywhere. While outraged voters besieged members of Congress with calls and e-mails demanding lawmakers reject a White House plan to bail out a sinking Wall Street, some experts believe the resulting stock crash and credit panic may spur a new rescue campaign. The House of Representatives voted the plan down on Monday, but top lawmakers said they hoped a revised bailout bill could clear in the near future. "Some of the folks in Congress ... will start to hear it from the other side now," said Al Kugel, chief investment strategist at Atlantic Trust in Chicago. Without a new plan, Kugel worries the credit shortage will get worse: "It will be like a boa constrictor has got the economy and just keeps squeezing." '

[Cross-posted at blog me no blogs, Coffeehouse Studio & Democracy For California.]