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07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]

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07.17 ‘Off-the-charts’ heat to affect millions in U.S. in coming decades

07.17 Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen forced out by board [Given that states have lost abortion rights on political grounds recently, Wen's philosophical approach to protect abortion rights based on ‘health care’ was smarter – therefore it was that smarter strategy that was killed at the secret meeting.]

07.17 Billions of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers

07.17 What is happening in America's Cancertown is tragic, immoral and evil [Niggardly white government policies could change to produce better students, better jobs and net revenue instead of costs. But it seems they enjoy more cruelty—like Trump.]

07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

07.04 On reflection: how the 'albedo effect' is melting the Antarctic

07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn

07.03 Deep-sea mining to turn oceans into ‘new industrial frontier’

07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]

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07.18 In Sinclair's New 'Must-Run' Segment, Former Trump Adviser Tries to Defend Racist Attacks on 'the Squad'

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07.18 Deadly Delays in Jail Construction Cost Lives and Dollars Across California

07.18 Inside Trump's DC hotel, where allies and lobbyists flock to peddle their interests [Also, too much ignored by media, the $millions "donated" corrupting moderate Democrats and Republicans every election cycle must stop]

07.18 This Republican's Case for Medicare for All [A well-informed Republican is rare, so let's hold him in the light so others may learn]

07.18 Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar [1:03 video shows Trump pandering to his ignorant idolaters, and together they're making America a greater shit-hole country]

07.18 "Can't Change a Corrupt System by Taking Its Money": Sanders Urges All 2020 Democrats to Reject Insurance, Big Pharma Cash [48:58 video]

07.17 Why Democrats’ oversight machine is moving so slowly against Trump

07.17 Here's the real reason Trump is attacking 'the squad': he's scared of their politics

07.17 'Good,' Says Elizabeth Warren, After Billionaire Right-Winger Peter Thiel Says She's 2020 Democrat He Is 'Most Scared By'

07.17 The American Right Defines Patriotism As Complacency About Racism

07.17 This is what today's America looks like. The squad is us

07.16 As Trump Sows Discord, Chief of Staff Mulvaney Reportedly Focused on 'Building Empire for the Right Wing' [And the South shall rise again...]

07.16 George Will's startling assessment of Donald Trump

07.16 Describing 'Future We Want to Live In' Scores of Groups Unveil New Blueprint for Reproductive Rights

07.16 'Do not take the bait': congresswomen denounce racist Trump attack [3:50 video]

07.16 Money Laundering Scandal Forces Puerto Rico’s Governor to Cut His Vacation Short — Just in Time for Another Scandal

07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]

Justice Matters

07.16 Contempt [Variations of frequent loss & theft of property title by organized legal efforts against black owners]

07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]

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07.18 Corporate tax cuts blocked at least 15,000 affordable homes in California. Here’s how

07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

International & Futurism

07.18 There are 16 million slaves around the world making our stuff

07.18 ‘No rioters, only a tyrannical regime’: Thousands of Hong Kong seniors march in support of young extradition law protesters [Most people around the world have more in common with these Hong Kong Chinese protestors than with the ignorant people at Trump rallies]

07.18 Dozens Arrested as Over 1,000 Jewish Activists and Allies Shut Down Entrances to ICE Headquarters Demanding Closure of Trump Detention Camps [Obviously these are not the immoral and less educated right-wing jews who support Netanyahu, Trump and ICE, and who slowly exterminate Palestinians when no one is looking]

07.17 Trump Murdered the Iran Deal—And Europe Isn’t Too Happy About It [Only psychopathic Saudi Arabia and Russia are U.S. ’allies’ now...]

07.17 Trump’s Unlawful Asylum Policy Is a Jab at Mexico

07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

07.14 Kasich: The chilling effect of British ambassador's leaked memos

07.14 'Just a matter of when': the $20bn plan to power Singapore with Australian solar

07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]

07.13 New Zealand Begins Gun Buyback Prompted by Mosque Attacks

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning

07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]

07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]

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  Putting Finance Capitalism ''Back in Its Box''
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS:

Putting Finance Capitalism "Back in Its Box"

by Stephen Lendman
Monday, 20 April 2009
The old model of Finance Capitalism is busted. Major change or replacement of it is now vital lest other nations displace America and Britain with alternative models.
So writes Philip Augar in an April 13 Financial Times (FT) op-ed. He's a former UK investment banker/broker and author of The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism, The Greed Merchants, and most recently Chasing Alpha: How Reckless Growth and Unchecked Ambition Ruined the City's Golden Decade. More on his newest book below.

He quotes Nicolas Sarkozy, a questionable choice, at the G 20 summit saying "The all-powerful market that is always right is finished," then on departure adding "a page has been turned." For Augar, that depends on whether a "free-market" successor is constructed, something "entrenched interests in America and Britain would be well-advised to encourage if they wish to remain centre stage."

Things unraveled after Bretton Woods collapsed - the post-war monetary system of convertible currencies, fixed exchange rates, free trade, the dollar as the world's reserve currency linked to gold, and those of other nations fixed to the dollar. Absent that, Chicago School economists "persuade(d) the Reagan and Thatcher administrations to adopt laissez faire policies and deregulation." We then printed money freely, spent and lived beyond our means, and created an illusion of prosperity and wealth that led to the current crisis.

Earlier, academics and consultants embraced "free markets" and built a "coherent" business strategy on them. Regulation-freed investment bankers sold "the whole package" to CEOs. Once "derivatives theory (and securitization took hold, they) opened the door to share options and performance-based compensation (followed by) three decades in which tooth-and-claw capitalism ruled supreme." In other words, anything goes, checks and balances are out the window, let buyers beware, but look what it brought us.

"Conditions are now right for another radical rethink. The old model is busted. The big beasts of free-market economics, Britain and America, are more wounded" than most - among developed nations, that is.

So far, "governments, central banks and regulators (the few of the latter still around) are groping unconvincingly for solutions." It's high time for new ideas. Clearly the current ones don't work and must be replaced by something else. But to happen, Washington must take the lead followed by "a more effective and creative" academic response than we've seen up to now.

It "requires finance to be put back in its box." Knock it off its "commanding heights" under (Goldman Sachs) bankers like Robert Rubin, Jon Corzine and Hank Paulson, who "upheld the American tradition of Wall Street titans taking public office" and engineering disaster while there. The same thing happened in Britain with former investment bankers in high Treasury posts giving advice beneficial to themselves and companies.

In both countries, money bought influence, the way it always works. The more spent, the more other voices got crowded out, again the usual result.

Former government and Wall Street insider turned activist, Catherine Austin Fitts, recalls an Indonesian cab driver asking her: "Why do you let Goldman Sachs run your government?" Until recently, it's hard imagining that comment in America.

Surely not from mainstream academia. Instead of stimulating debate, the majority go along and are well paid for it. The few dissenters are "dismissed by economic liberals as living in the past or told that the new financial system had 'transformed risk' and raised global living standards" - despite clear proof otherwise. Markets were having a party, and nothing would was allowed to interrupt.

Finance capitalism took over at most business schools, training a young cadre of adherents. Wall Street, High Street, and hedge funds recruited academics with quantitative skills with offers of "life-changing sums in consultancy (and compensation) fees." Little wonder then that finance capitalism drew such interest and that "so much academic output" supported it.

Change is now vital lest other nations displace America and Britain with alternative models. In addition, "academics need to recapture their heritage," their integrity, their "independent thinking, and throw off the (pernicious) influence of finance." Short of that, today's financial titans may discover soon enough that "the page has indeed been turned and they are no longer on it."

Augar's new book, Chasing Alpha, attracted considerable UK attention but not in America. A financial definition calls alpha a "coefficient which measures risk-adjusted performance (of a) specific (investment to) the overall market." The higher it is, the lower the risk, the idea being to find the holy grail of high, sustained returns.

London did it for 10 years, but it's now chastened by a dark era replacing its "golden" one. How spectacular it was while it lasted, and the same is true for America and elsewhere.

The Sunday Times' David Smith expects many books on the global crisis, but Augar's "distinguishes itself by tracking the rise of the City's various components," including its prestigious High Street addresses favored by the financial community.

When Labour took office in 1997, London was booming, and it looked like the good times would last forever - buoyed by a strong pound, a supportive media, and the City's new hero class, its bankers. Real estate took off. Asset prices rose, and deregulation was the order of the day. Forgotten was the early 1990s "trials" when the insurance market was in trouble. So was Barings from the Nick Leeson scandal, and "Morgan Grenfell, one of the City's oldest and proudest names, (was) mired in a messy legal dispute."

New Labour at first was feared, yet inaugurated what Augar called "the most prosperous period in (London's) history....The (City's) hedge fund business came out of nowhere; between 2003 and 2006, more than 200 new firms and more than 600 new funds were established." Finance capitalism was on a roll with domestic and foreign-owned banks enjoying unprecedented prosperity until mid-2007 when it hit a wall. The scheme for sustainable growth couldn't last. Some officials noticed but not all.

In June 2007, new prime minister Gordon Brown congratulated London on its "global preeminence and saw it continuing thanks to 'light-touch regulation, a competitive tax environment, and flexibility." As finance minister in 2004, he told an audience of bankers: "What you have achieved for the financial services sector, we as a country now aspire to achieve for the whole of the British economy." He'll be living down that comment forever.

In contrast, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King was circumspect. He cautioned about risky financial instruments and the rise of leveraged debt. "Excessive leverage is the common theme of many (past) financial crises," he said. Are we so much cleverer than the financiers of the past?" Indeed not, and perhaps King knew something ordinary investors didn't, but wasn't letting on at the time.

Soon enough he had to as the global crisis emerged. Northern Rock was early victim enough for Britain to have its first bank run in 150 years. Others followed, big names, forcing Labour to take controlling stakes in much of Britain's banking sector. "The game was up, certainly for investment banks and many hedge funds (and unknown then) for most banks" needing government prop them up - in Britain, America, across Europe, and elsewhere.

It was big enough for Augar to produce "a useful contribution....about the biggest financial crisis for decades," a story of greed, excess, and fraud by an insider willing to take the gloss off a "busted model" and suggest something more workable in its place.

Given today's crisis, The UK Guardian's Larry Elliot headlined his April 4 commentary "We're doomed: he told us so," referring to Vince Cable's new book, The Storm: The World Crisis & What It Means. He cites finance minister Gordon Brown (in November 2003) praising Britain for avoiding the worst of the dot.com debacle, claiming finance capitalism "abolished boom and bust," and took aim at nay-sayers for their skepticism.

Cable is a British MP, the former Liberal Democrats leader, and, as a former Shell Oil Company chief economist, its main financial spokesman since 2003. In Parliament, he suggested that Britain's prosperity was illusory based on consumer borrow and spend binging, like in America. He spotted trouble early on and used his public stage to expose it.

His book isn't an "I told you so" exercise, but is full of scathing comments like:

"Without diminishing in any way the global origins and nature of the crisis, it is also necessary to debunk the self-serving myth that Britain has, in Gordon Brown's words, created an economic environment of 'no more boom and bust,' and that the country is uniquely well placed to ride out the global storm."

On the contrary, it's reeling under it and in grave trouble, the result of the same excesses as America's and larger-scale than for other developed countries. Being over-dependent on banking and financial services exposed Britain to the "full force of the gale that is blowing through international finance markets."

Both Conservatives and Labour embraced the notion that High Street was the future and manufacturing the past, the same sin America committed, and both are paying the price. According to Cable, a "brutal reappraisal" is now underway.

High Street wizards have been defrocked. These "brilliant financial innovators have been recognised as greedy or reckless or incompetent, or all three. Self-proclained, buccaneering entrepreneurs in the banking industry have been reduced to rattling a begging bowl and (now depend on) government (to bail) them out."

Looking ahead, Cable says reformists are in three camps:

  • "New Interventionists" citing Washington Consensus neoliberalism, deregulation, and privatization as the villain and wanting to replace it with a 1950s - 1960s mixed economy;
  • "Old Liberals" who want regulatory reform, but, on balance, "good markets" outweigh "bad" ones; and
  • Cable's view that markets repeatedly produce bubbles, panics, and crashes, but produce benefits as well; in other words, "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater," but what else would a former corporate official and politician say.

Nonetheless, Cable wants real reform, such as:

  • banks required to hold more reserves in good times to limit excess and reckless lending;
  • the Bank of England "leaning against the wind" on interest rates; former Fed chairman William McChesney Martin's notion of "taking away the punch bowl" when the party got going; in other words, raise interest rates when it's unpopular but prudent; and
  • splitting Britain's banking sector into highly regulated High Street banks on the one hand and riskier investment ones, hedge funds, and shadow banks on the other with no state guarantees as backup; in other words, no bailouts if they get in trouble, a very sensible idea indeed.

Cable is unforgiving of "wheelerdealers" like Northern Rock's Adam Applegarth and Royal Bank of Scotland's Fred Goodwin and asks why were "these pillars of respectability" allowed to let their banks become "debt factories" placing their shareholders and the nation at risk. As a result, he wants banks to become "safe but boring," the equivalent of highly regulated utilities, their traditional role in the first place and not the casinos they've become.

On one other point he's hard line. After 16 years of prosperity, Britain is now in decline. "We placed out trust in housing equity (now evaporating), lavish public services (now unaffordable), an independent central bank (now discredited), a debt economy (now demanding repayment), and financial services (now bust)."

The good years were for naught. We're back to square one, says Cable, and have to rebuild from the wreckage. Income redistribution should be a component to help the needy and reduce wealth extremes. He also finds it ironic that New Labour ministers "who once read Trotsky" let finance capitalism run wild. All of Britain is now paying the price.

In his April 14 Financial Times column, Martin Wolf asked if America is the new Russia given the strength of its "financial oligarchy." He cites the sector's "massive rise," as reflected by its percent of US corporate profits in a deregulatory environment that sustained it while it lasted. Decisive "restructuring is (now) necessary" for two purposes:

  • to make financial institutions "credibly solvent;" and
  • assure that "no profit-making private institution (is) too big to fail....bankruptcy must be a part of any durable solution;" short of that, "the resolution of this crisis can only be the harbinger of the next."

On April 16, even the Wall Street Journal stepped out of character in publishing "Reverend Billy's Bailout - One Street Preacher Makes the Case for Propping Up Community Banks."

"Would Jesus take a bailout," asked Billy? Reformers have a "once-in-a-century choice," to either prop up financial supermarkets or "lift up community banks and street-level economies."

Reverend Billy Talen leads the Church of Stop Shopping and says "government has a moral obligation to support communities (over) big banks." They're so broken that even Journal writer David Weidner says "Billy may be on to something....It's hard to argue against the system he envisions....neighborhood banks (lending) to local businesses (so) profits could stay in the community..The most basic and sound form of risk management" is knowing your customers and living near them.

Billy is no longer a fringe figure. A Wall Street feature story shows he's mainstream enough to run for New York City mayor on the Green Party ticket, campaigning on a community-first platform - support them over a bubble and bust economy. It's gaining resonance but way short of enough to depose Wall Street dominance.

That and a lot more is needed, including exposing financial fraud, huge cash rewards in spite of it, and deceptive quarterly sales and profits reports to present an illusion they're working.

Case in point is Goldman Sach's April 13 Q 1 profits - according to Bloomberg $1.81 billion "as a surge in trading revenue outweighed asset write-downs, beating" consensus forecasts by a wide margin. Unreported was how they did it - by changing their reporting periods to a calendar year beginning in the current period.

FY 2008 ended in November making December an "orphan month" so results reflected a January - March quarter. At the same time, Goldman took a large year end $1.3 billion write-off handled legally in a separate filing, but the business media headlined the good news, not the bad - conveniently at the same time a new stock offering was announced to enhance its attractiveness to the public.

The New York Times Floyd Norris cited Goldman's report in his April 14 blog. Titled "Case of the Missing Month," he asked: "Would the firm have had a profit if it had stuck to its old calendar, and had to include December and exclude March?" Clearly Goldman acted in its own self-interest and presented a deceptive picture of its health.

So did Wells Fargo (WFC) in its latest announcement - that it expects to earn a record $3 billion in Q 1 2009, putting a brave face on a troubled bank according to analyst Dave Krantzler in an article headlined: "Wells Fargo revisited - A Case of Unmistaken Fraud." He cites deteriorating assets and states:

"WFC will be forced to incur at least $283 billion in future asset write-downs and will thus require at least that much in capital to service the corresponding liabilities....(its) CEO fraudulently conveyed the financial position of the bank he runs," and Street analysts let him get away with it.

It's these type shenanigans that get Augar and others to call "the old model busted" and needing reform. Better yet, scrap it for a radical new one. Make no mistake. "Tooth-and-claw" capitalism is pernicious and toxic. End it or it'll destroy us. What better proof than the current crisis heading America for neo-feudal bondage unless a mass-awakening comes soon enough to stop it.


Steve Lendman

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national topics. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on April 20, 2009.
 



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