Oct 212011
 

 

HOW THE AUSTERITY CLASS RULES WASHINGTON

By Ari Berman

EXCERPTS: … The event spotlighted a central paradox in American politics over the past two years: how, in the midst of a massive unemployment crisis—when it’s painfully obvious that not enough jobs are being created and the public overwhelmingly wants policy-makers to focus on creating them—did the deficit emerge as the most pressing issue in the country? And why, when the global evidence clearly indicates that austerity measures will raise unemployment and hinder, not accelerate, growth, do advocates of austerity retain such distinction today? …

… The austerity class testifies frequently before Congress, is quoted constantly in the media by sympathetic journalists and influences policy-makers and elites at the highest levels of power. They manufacture a center-right consensus by determining the parameters of acceptable debate and policy priorities, deciding who is and is not considered a respectable voice on fiscal matters. The “balanced” solutions they advocate are often wildly out of step with public opinion and reputable economic policy, yet their influence endures, thanks to an abundance of money, the ear of the media, the anti-Keynesian bias of supply-side economics and a political system consistently skewed to favor Wall Street over Main Street. …

… Taken together, the various strands of the austerity class form a reinforcing web that is difficult to break. Its think tanks and wonks produce a relentless stream of disturbing statistics warning of skyrocketing debt and looming bankruptcy, which in turn is trumpeted by politicians and the press and internalized by the public. Thus forms what Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent calls a Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop, wherein the hypothetical possibility of a US debt crisis somewhere in the future takes precedence over the very real jobs crisis now.

READ @ http://www.thenation.com/article/164073/how-austerity-class-rules-washington

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* BofA SAID TO SPLIT REGULATORS OVER MOVING MERRILL DERIVATIVES TO BANK UNIT

By Bob Ivry, Hugh Son and Christine Harper

EXCERPT: …Bank of America’s holding company — the parent of both the retail bank and the Merrill Lynch securities unit — held almost $75 trillion of derivatives at the end of June, according to data compiled by the OCC. About $53 trillion, or 71 percent, were within Bank of America NA, according to the data, which represent the notional values of the trades.

That compares with JPMorgan’s deposit-taking entity, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, which contained 99 percent of the New York-based firm’s $79 trillion of notional derivatives, the OCC data show.

READ @ http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-18/bofa-said-to-split-regulators-over-moving-merrill-derivatives-to-bank-unit.html

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* OCCUPY WALL STREET: WASHINGTON STILL DOESN’T GET IT

By Matt Taibbi

EXCERPTS:  The fact that both of the following things took place in the middle of the full fever of OWS, when everyone is supposedly trying to placate anti-banker sentiment and Obama and the DCCC are supposedly pledging support of the protesters, shows how completely bankrupt this system is and how necessary street-level  protests have become. Popular uprising is probably the only move left to stop developments like the following:

1) Bank of America is shifting a huge collection of Merrill Lynch derivatives contractsonto its own federally-insured balance sheet. This move of risky instruments off the uninsured Merrill balance sheet onto the commercial bank’s balance sheet was done to prevent Bank of America’s creditors from attacking the firm with collateral calls and other sorties. Essentially, an irresponsible debtor, B of A, is keeping a loan shark from breaking his legs by getting his rich parents to co-sign his loan. The parents in this metaphor would be the FDIC.

2) Barack Obama is apparently expressing willingness to junk big chunks of Sarbanes-Oxley in exchange for support for his jobs program. Business leaders are balnking at creating new jobs unless Obama makes compiance with S-O voluntary for all firms valued at under $1 billion.

READ @ http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/occupy-wall-street-washington-still-doesnt-get-it-20111021

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WHY DO YOU PAY $1.2 TRILLION A YEAR TO PROP UP A VAST, SECRETIVE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE

By Tom Engelhardt

A blanket of secrecy over our military complex ensures that most Americans have no idea what’s being done with their money.

READ http://www.alternet.org/world/152801/why_do_you_pay_%241.2_trillion_a_year_to_prop_up_a_vast%2C_secretive_national_security_state/

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