Thursday, April 29, 2010

Taxpayers bailed out German and French banks

Old news, but here it is:

We officially moved into the next stage of the crisis today. AIG, likely under pressure from the administration, decided to come clean about where most of the bailout money was going. In a press release with several attachments, the struggling insurer detailed which counterparties had gotten about $100 billion of the bailout funds...

But as I expected, the majority of the funds—$58 billion—went to banks headquartered outside the U.S. The big winners were French and German banks, which pulled in $19 billion and $17 billion respectively.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Backing away from climate legislation

Merkel Abandons Aim Of Binding Climate Agreement

"The collapse of the Copenhagen summit has permanently shaken up Merkel. She offered to organize the meeting in Bonn to avoid totally losing momentum in the talks. Then she left Denmark feeling frustrated. She had rarely experienced such a humiliation. She won't let that happen to her again, she has told herself ever since. Irregularities committed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also annoyed the chancellor. Although these errors have not altered the urgent and key messages, she has angrily said among her close advisers that the IPCC's poor communication has made it more difficult to promote climate protection.

"The general mood among climate protectors has soured even further in the months since Copenhagen. 'The process has come to a standstill, everything is very difficult,' says Röttgen."

More evidence:

Australian Government Shelves Climate Legislation

Around the world, people are apparently discovering that they would rather not have the government taking more of their money. (Or mandating that they pay higher prices for goods, in order to meet strict carbon limits, based on skewed science.)

Obamacare: designed to fail, part 3

"When major companies declared that a provision of the new health care law would hurt earnings, Democrats were skeptical. But after investigating, House Democrats have concluded that the companies were right to tell investors and the government about the expected adverse effects of the law on their financial results.

"At issue is a section of the law that eliminates a tax break available to companies that provide drug benefits to retirees as part of their insurance coverage.

"...Representative Joe L. Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, 'From a financial standpoint, from a purely economic standpoint, many companies would be better off discontinuing health care as a fringe benefit, paying the penalty and pocketing the savings.' "


Monday, April 26, 2010

Obama official will profit enormously from "green tech"

Conflict of interest:

"...Assistant Secretary of Energy Cathy Zoi has a huge financial stake in companies likely to profit from the Obama administration’s “green” policies.

"Zoi, who left her position as CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection — founded by Al Gore — to serve as assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, now manages billions in 'green jobs' funding. But the disclosure documents show that Zoi not only is in a position to affect the fortunes of her previous employer, ex-Vice President Al Gore, but that she herself has large holdings in two firms that could directly profit from policies proposed by the Department of Energy."

Reader Terry Gain at Pajamas Media commented truculently, "Another good article which does what the MSM won’t do:their job. I do think however, that notwithstanding the MSM’s embrace of incompetence in all things related to Obama and his dreadful administration, that the transparency promise has been kept. The Obama administration is transparently corrupt, transparently incompetent, transparently cynical, transparently dangerous to our economic health and national security and transparently in need of being voted out of office."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The wealthy, educated Tea Party

"Tea party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, tend to be Republican, white, male, and married, and their strong opposition to the Obama administration is more rooted in political ideology than anxiety about their personal economic well-being, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."


Thursday, April 22, 2010

State budget education cuts

Education spending should not be cut in state budget austerity measures. Because the teachers have obviously been doing such a great job, they deserve greater rewards, even if taxpayers must be sucked dry.
From a student sign at a Des Moines protest against government cuts in education funding.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Government says, "Bailout was a bargain." More lies.

New York Times, April 18 2010
This Bailout Is a Bargain? Think Again
by Gretchen Morgenson

IT’S way too early to tally the costs of the government’s various efforts to help our nation’s financial institutions survive the credit debacle. But that hasn’t stopped anonymous Treasury officials from claiming in recent days that their Armageddon-avoidance will wind up costing far less than many feared.

One Treasury estimate, leaked to The Wall Street Journal last week, put a price tag of $89 billion on the financial bailout. That’s far below the $250 billion the Congressional Budget Office estimated last year or other analyses that put the all-in number at $1 trillion or more.
[end quote]

Now this is just disingenuous. The Treasury has spent a lot propping up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. On Christmas Eve, the Treasury promised to cover virtually all their losses. ("The Treasury on Christmas Eve removed a $200 billion aid limit on each company, extending unlimited backing through 2012.") In other words, the taxpayers were on the hook for $200 billion for each company (Fannie and Freddie). That's $400 billion. Now, the sky is the limit.

Then the Federal Reserve has printed $1.25 trillion to buy up bad mortgage debt. ("The Federal Reserve’s single largest intervention to prop up the American economy, its $1.25 trillion program to buy mortgage-backed securities, came to a long-anticipated end on Wednesday.")

There are many other programs which could cost trillions, in addition to the amount already spent through TARP and the programs mentioned above.

The Federal Reserve strategy of lowering interest rates to nearly zero is taking huge amounts of income away from savers -- people with money in money markets, savings accounts, CDs, and checking accounts are being paid much less in interest. The banks are playing the spread (borrowing from ordinary folks paying them very little, and loaning money out at several percentage points higher). In this way the government hopes banks can earn their way out of bankruptcy or near-bankrupcty. This is at the expense of retired folk and people who loan their money out at interest. Because of government interference, people cannot earn the true market rate of interest on their money. It's theft. Savers are funding the banks' profits.

The FDIC is out of money to make good on deposits at failed banks. There have been, what, 60 bank failures that the FDIC has closed down this year already? That's more taxpayer liability.

More from the Morgenson NY Times article:

“The refusal of the Washington political class to address the issue of bank insolvency quickly via restructuring and recapitalization has extended the economic recovery process by years,” [Christopher Whalen, editor of the Institutional Risk Analyst,] said. “Lending will continue to shrink and real economic activity is suffering. The cost of ‘extend and pretend’ goes into the trillions of dollars of lost economic activity.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

We don't hate government

In response to an article in the Washington Examiner, Hating The Government Finally Goes Mainstream, reader "Jimmy44" comments:

We don't hate the government. It is like a small sick child [that] needs to be watched and cared for. The child has lost its way and has been abusive to its parents. It has forgotten who the boss is. The child need to understand that it is given an allowance and it can’t demand money every time it wastes its allowance. That when it writes a check the money needs to be in the account our you get an overdraft. That when the child gets to big for its pants it's time to take it done a notch or two. IT'S TIME, like all parents today we have not watched the child like we should have and it has developed a lot of bad habits and is starting to run with the wrong crowd.

Truer words were never written.

Friday, April 2, 2010

ObamaCare: designed to fail, part 2

We keep hearing that the health care reform package passed by Congress was modeled on the Massachusetts universal health insurance requirement plan. How's that working out for Massachusetts?

Insurance rates went up so much that the state is now attempting to impose price controls!

"Massachusetts regulators issued their first batch of health care price controls on Thursday, rejecting the vast majority of small business premium increases sought this year by the state's major insurers.

"Insurance Commissioner Joseph Murphy said he had rejected 235 of 274 proposed rate increases because they included 'excessive increases and rates unreasonable relative to the benefits provided.'"

With no caps on costs, insurance premiums must continue to rise until the insurance companies must raise rates. If they insurance companies cannot raise rates, they must ration care. If they cannot raise rates or ration care, they must go out of business.

Is this the plan behind the reform plan?