The Great Depression Of 2008 And The Decline Of The Usa 3 10
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The Great Depression Of 2008 And The Decline Of The Usa 3 10

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This is a big picture overview of the social and economic transformation of the USA in the last 20 years. Great wealth and prestige has been lost, the manufacturing and agriculture sectors have ...

This is a big picture overview of the social and economic transformation of the USA in the last 20 years. Great wealth and prestige has been lost, the manufacturing and agriculture sectors have declined. The middle class has been decimated and great wealth inequality has been created. Government is under control of big corporations, especially in finance, and effective government agency has been lost.

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  • NY TIMES Aug 9, 2009
  • The other side of the coin

The Great Depression Of 2008 And The Decline Of The Usa 3 10 The Great Depression Of 2008 And The Decline Of The Usa 3 10 Presentation Transcript

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    • From Moody’s Economy.com quoted by McClatchy, March 11, 2010
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  • Correlation Between Household Income and Unemployment Rate in the Last Quarter of 2009 Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, MA Prepared for: C.S. Mott Foundation, Flint, MI February 2010 Household Income Rate $150,000 or more 3.2% $100,000 to $149,000 8.0% $75,000 to $99,999 5.0% $60,000 to $74,999 6.4% $50,000 to $59,000 7.8% $40,000 to $49,000 9.0% $30,000 to $39,999 12.2% $20,000 to $29,000 19.7% $12,500 to $19,999 19.1% $12,499 or less 30.8%
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    • Manufacturing isn’t gone from America yet, but it’s at serious risk of leaving.
    • Manufacturing employs 14 million people, generates nearly 12 percent of U.S. gross domestic product and accounts for 60 percent of U.S. exports.
    • Manufacturing is at least the third- largest sector or greater in 40 states.
    • But manufacturing has sharply declined from 27 percent of GDP in 1950 to only 11.5 percent today.
    • And a quarter of the nation’s 282,000 remaining manufacturing companies -- 90,000 in all -- are now deemed severely "at risk."
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  • Aughts were a lost decade for U.S. economy, workers By Neil Irwin Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, January 2, 2010 [The January 8, 2010 US Labor Department] report caps a disastrous year for U.S. workers. Employers cut 4.2 million jobs in 2009 , and the unemployment rate averaged 9.3 percent. That's compared to an average of 5.8 percent in 2008 and 4.6 percent in 2007. The economy has lost more than 8 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007 . Median household income, adjusted for inflation, fell 3.6% last year (2008) to $50,303 , the steepest year-over-year drop in forty years. The largest decline, 5.6%, was among Hispanics, a reflection of disappearing construction and service jobs. The median income for Asians fell 4.4%, while black incomes fell 2.8% and non-Hispanic whites fell 2.6%. The poverty rate, at 13.2%, was the highest since 1997. About 700,000 more people didn't have health insurance in 2008 than the year before. While the number of people with health insurance declined, the number of people covered by government insurance increased by 4.4 million people, in part because of surging Medicaid rolls. — U.S. consumers and businesses are filing for bankruptcy at a pace that made 2009 the seventh-worst year on record, with more than 1.4 million petitions submitted , an Associated Press tally showed Monday. The AP gathered data from the nation's 90 bankruptcy districts and found 1.43 million filings, an increase of 32 percent from 2008. There were 116,000 recorded bankruptcies in December, up 22 percent from the same month a year before.
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  • Still Hunting for a Bottom in Housing By JANET MORRISSEY Thursday, Jan. 07, 2010 The decimated housing market may get considerably worse before it gets better , foreclosures and home-price declines to continue pressuring the sector through at least the first half of 2010.The biggest problem will likely be a flood of inventory hitting the market from rising foreclosures…. At least $64 billion in option ARMs will reset in 2010 and another $68 billion in 2011 …. All of this is expected to trigger another wave of potential home foreclosures in 2010 and could cause home prices to fall another 5% to 10% before the market stabilizes, according to analysts and economists. A record 3 million homes received foreclosure notices in 2009 , according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors (NAR). He expects a similar number this year. In December, 2009 more than 349,000 households, or one in 366 homes , were hit with a foreclosure-related notice. That represents a 14 percent spike from November and a 15 percent jump from December 2008. Banks repossessed more than 92,000 homes, up 19 percent from November. That increase was likely due to lenders working to clear their books at the end of the year, RealtyTrac said.   U.S. Foreclosure Market Data by State – 2009 Totals Rate Rank State Name Total Properties with Filings % Housing Units 1/every X HU (rate) %Change from2008 %Change from 2007 -- United States 2,824,674 2.21 45 21.21 119.67 30 Alabama 19,896 0.93 107 156.26* 257.07* 31 Alaska 2,442 0.87 116 25.49 83.33 2 Arizona 163,210 6.12 16 39.60 323.17 23 Arkansas 16,547 1.29 78 15.90 158.30 4 California 632,573 4.75 21 20.81 153.52 Source: REALTYTRAC,INC
  • “ Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work . One in nine families can't make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure . One in eight Americans is on food stamps . More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings , has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street . America Without a Middle Class Elizabeth Warren Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the banking bailouts. HUFF POST December 3, 2009 10:00 AM To cope, millions of families put a second parent into the workforce . But higher housing and medical costs combined with new expenses for child care, the costs of a second car to get to work and higher taxes combined to squeeze families even harder . Even with two incomes, they tightened their belts. Families today spend less than they did a generation ago on food, clothing, furniture, appliances, and other flexible purchases -- but it hasn't been enough to save them. Today's families have spent all their income, have spent all their savings, and have gone into debt to pay for college, to cover serious medical problems, and just to stay afloat a little while longer.
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  • How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America by Don Peck THE ATLANTIC, March 2010 The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar men. It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a despair not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years to come … One recent survey showed that 44 percent of families had experienced a job loss, a reduction in hours, or a pay cut in the past year. We are in a very deep hole, and we’ve been in it for a relatively long time already…. We are living through a slow-motion social catastrophe, one that could stain our culture and weaken our nation for many, many years to come. We have a civic—and indeed a moral—responsibility to do everything in our power to stop it now, before it gets even worse .
  • The end of the American dream? by Steve Schifferes BBC News Website, September 4, 2006
  • OBSERVATIONS FROM 2006 The size of swings of pre-tax family income from year to year has doubled since the early 1970s…. The chance that a person with average demographic characteristics will experience a 50 percent or larger drop in income over a two-year period has risen from 3-4 percent in the early 1970s to nearly 10 percent in 2004…. Workers are scared. In 2005, with the unemployment rate down to 5 percent, the number of Americans worried that they would lose their jobs was 35 percent …. In 1980, more than 80 percent of large and medium-sized corporations offered traditional “defined-benefit” pensions that provide a predetermined monthly benefit for the remainder of a worker’s life. Today, less than a third do. Instead, companies that provide plans now offer “defined-contribution” plans, such as the 401(k), in which returns are neither predictable nor assured.   Between 1989 and 1998—a decade in which 401(k) coverage exploded and the stock market boomed— the share of families nearing retirement that found themselves likely to live on less than half of their prior income in retirement increased by a third, to more than 40 percent.
  • The high cost of quake insurance will rock your bank account DAVID LAZARUS LA TIMES March 5, 2010 Yves Didier has been a strong believer in earthquake insurance since the 1994 Northridge quake, when his apartment building was severely damaged and some of his neighbors lost their lives. He didn't hesitate to pay as much as $2,500 a year for coverage after he purchased a three-bedroom house in Reseda in 1999. He said he's never missed a payment and (thankfully) never had to make a claim. So it came as a shock for Didier, 45, to recently be told by his insurer, GeoVera Insurance Co., that his annual premium would nearly triple to $7,100 and that his deductible would soar to more than $100,000.
  • Economic Crisis , The Audit — December 21, 2009 01:07 PM LAT ’s Kristof Keeps an Eye on the Overdraft Racket By Ryan Chittum The Federal Reserve announced a new rule on overdraft “protection,” requiring banks to make it an opt-in service. In other words, if you don’t sign up, the banks have to decline any transaction that goes over your balance and they’ll lose out on their chance to whack you $35 a pop. That’s a big deal since most people presumably won’t sign up for it and it’s currently costing consumers some $38.5 billion a year. Kristof digs out some stats I haven’t see before, that overdraft charges went from about $6 billion in 2006 to $24 billion in 2008 to an estimated $38.5 billion this year. A need to 'dig beneath the corporate surface' COMMENTARY |By John Hanrahan, November 10, 2009, Hanrahan@niemanwatchdog.org [Simon] Johnson cited the banks’ credit card companies . “How,” he asked, “did we get to the point where these companies can take such advantage of their customers? Why are credit card rates so high? At a time when banks can borrow money from the U.S. Treasury at the lowest rate possible -- zero percent as set by the Federal Reserve -- how can credit card companies charge their customers interest rates of 30 percent and possibly even more? Why are we, the consumers, not getting any advantage from those low interest rates that benefit the banks? Banks May Use Payday-Style Loans to Replace Lost Overdraft Fees By Jeff Plungis, Feb. 23, 2010 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. banks may expand their short- term lending at interest rates of 120 percent or more as they seek to replace more than $15 billion in lost revenue because of regulations limiting overdraft fees. “ The smarter banks are trying to resell overdraft protection to consumers as a different product,” said Elizabeth Rowe, group director of banking advisory services at Mercator Advisory Group in Maynard, Massachusetts. Banks including Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp , San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. , the fourth-largest U.S. bank, and U.S. Bancorp , based in Minneapolis, are already making such loans, usually from $100 to $500, at annual rates of 120 percent if repaid in 30 days. They’re known as “checking advance products.” The banks don’t call the advances payday loans because it’s a “very tarnished, negative brand,” said Rowe
  • STOCK INVESTMENT PERFORMANCE 1999 --- 2009 TOTAL RETURN PER YEAR 1999 - 2009 STANDARD & POORS 500 (-10.19%) (-1.07%) 1999 - 2009 DOW JONES 30 INDUSTRIALS +12.79% +1.21% 1999 - 2009 NASDAQ 100 (-42.19%) (-5.35%) includes reinvesting all dividends Enlarge This Image                                    
  • The Wealth of Older Americans and the Subprime Debacle Barry P. Bosworth , Senior Fellow, Economic Studies , Global Economy and Development Rosanna Smart, Senior Research Assistant , Economic Studies Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE, Saturday January 23, 2010 This study explores the consequences of the housing price bubble and its collapse for the wealth of older households. We utilize micro survey data to follow the rise in home values to 2007, observing which households enjoyed home price appreciation and how they responded in terms of equity withdrawal. We then use the SCF survey data on wealth holdings from 2007 in combination with national price indexes to simulate the magnitude and distribution of wealth loss from the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The collapse of the housing market triggered a broad decline of asset prices that greatly reduced the wealth of all households. The FoFs [Flow of Funds] report a $13 trillion (15 percent) loss of household wealth between the peak of mid-2007 and March 2009; and, as shown in Figure 1, the wealth-income ratio has basically fallen back to the levels of the early 1990s.
  • WHAT IS A TRILLION ANYWAY? ‘’TIME IS MONEY’’ TURN DOLLARS INTO SECONDS 1 MILLION SECONDS EQUALS 12 WEEKS 1 BILLION SECONDS EQUALS 32 YEARS 1 TRILLION SECONDS EQUALS 32,000 YEARS
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  • Op-Ed Columnist The State of the Union Is Comatose By FRANK RICH Published: January 30, 2010 The historian Alan Brinkley has observed that we will soon enter the fourth decade in which Congress — and therefore government as a whole — has failed to deal with any major national problem, from infrastructure to education. The gridlock isn’t only a function of polarized politics and special interests. There’s also been a gaping leadership deficit…. John McCain epitomizes the unpatriotic opposition. On Wednesday night he could be seen sneering when Obama pointed out that most of the debt vilified by Republicans happened on the watch of a Republican president and Congress that never paid for “two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program.” The president’s indictment could have been more lacerating. Crunching Congressional Budget Office numbers, David Leonhardt of The Times calculated that of the projected $2 trillion swing into the red between the Clinton surplus and 2012, some 33 percent could be attributed to Bush legislation and another 20 percent to Bush-initiated spending (Iraq, TARP) continued by Obama . Only 7 percent of the deficit could be credited to the Obama stimulus bill and 3 percent to his other initiatives. (The business cycle accounts for the other 37 percent.)
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  • Thirteen commuters were killed and more than 100 were injured on August 1, 2007, when the eight-lane bridge in Minneapolis carrying Interstate 35W over the Mississippi River collapsed. Ed Rendell Speaks: 2.2 Trillion Infrastructure Deficit Wednesday February 11, 2009 9:00 am
  • Recession Continues to Batter State Budgets; State Responses Could Slow Recovery By Elizabeth McNichol and Nicholas Johnson Updated December 23, 2009 Center on Budget And Policy Priorities The worst recession since the 1930s has caused the steepest decline in state tax receipts on record. As a result, even after making very deep cuts, states continue to face large budget gaps. New shortfalls have opened up in the budgets of at least 39 states …totaling $34 billion or 6 percent of these budgets for the current fiscal year (FY 2010, which began July 1 in most states). In addition, initial indications are that states will face shortfalls as big as or bigger than they faced this year in the upcoming 2011 fiscal year. States will continue to struggle to find the revenue needed to support critical public services for a number of years.
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  • California is a greater risk than Greece, warns JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon, chairman of JP Morgan Chase, has warned American investors should be more worried about the risk of default of the state of California than of Greece's current debt woes. By James Quinn, TELEGRAPH.CO.UK US Business Editor in New York Published: 8:20PM GMT 26 Feb 2010 Mr Dimon told investors at the Wall Street bank's annual meeting that "there could be contagion" if a state the size of California, the biggest of the United States, had problems making debt repayments. "Greece itself would not be an issue for this company, nor would any other country," said Mr Dimon. "We don't really foresee the European Union coming apart." The senior banker said that JP Morgan Chase and other US rivals are largely immune from the European debt crisis, as the risks have largely been hedged. California however poses more of a risk, given the state's $20bn (£13.1bn) budget deficit, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is desperately trying to reduce . Earlier this week, the state's legislature passed bills that will cut the deficit by $2.8bn through budget cuts and other measures. However the former Hollywood film star turned politician is looking for $8.9bn of cuts over the next 16 months, and is also hoping for as much as $7bn of handouts from the federal government.
  • California's higher education system could face decline The state's budget cuts to the three-tiered system -- UC, Cal State and community colleges -- may threaten the system's world-class reputation and the future of a generation of students. Larry Gordon, Gale Holland and Mitchell Landsberg, LA TIMES July 31, 2009 [t]he University of California, the California State University system and the nation's largest community college network…may be in serious decline…. The UC system, which enrolls about 225,000 students and employs 180,000 faculty and staff… is expected to spend about $8.7 billion in general revenue funds… in the coming fiscal year. That would be a 17% drop from two years ago , the department reported…. UC's state general revenue fund budget of $2.6 billion will be 20% less than it was two years ago. Cal State is seeing a similar percentage drop to about $2.3 billion. Cal State Chancellor Charles B. Reed frets about plans to reduce the system's enrollment by 40,000 over the next few years , from a current population of 450,000. Several analysts said they expect raids on UC's blue-chip faculty, many of whom face up to 10% salary cuts . Cal State also has raised student fees by a total of 32% for the coming school year and is imposing 24 furlough days for all employees, including college presidents. States Consider Medicaid Cuts as Use Grows By KEVIN SACK and ROBERT PEAR , THE NEW YORK TIMES, February 18,2010 WASHINGTON — Facing relentless fiscal pressure and exploding demand for government health care, virtually every state is making or considering substantial cuts in Medicaid , even as Democrats push to add 15 million people to the rolls…. Because they are temporarily barred from reducing eligibility, states have been left to cut “optional benefits,” like dental and vision care, and reduce payments to doctors and other health care providers…. But many governors said they were more concerned about the growth of existing health programs. The recession and high unemployment have driven up enrollment in Medicaid while depleting state revenues that help pay for it. A survey released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found a record one-year increase in Medicaid enrollment of 3.3 million from June 2008 to June 2009, a period when the unemployment rate rose by 4 percentage points. Total enrollment jumped 7.5 percent, to 46.9 million, and 13 states had double-digit increases.
  • Washington, DC, September 9, 2009 – Cities are in the early stages of registering the effects of the nation's economic downturn, according to the National League of Cities (NLC) annual report on fiscal conditions. The report finds that the ability of cities to meet their financial needs will only worsen through 2010 and beyond. The report,  "City Fiscal Conditions in 2009" , reveals that cities face significant budget gaps (-2.9%) this year, due to the decline of income (-1.3%) and sales tax (-3.8%) collections. These taxes are typically the earliest source of city revenue to decline as job losses in a community increase and consumer purchases decrease. Property taxes, which make up the bulk of city revenue nationwide, are beginning to slow (1.6% growth) as real property assessments are adjusted to reflect declining housing values.   Because most city tax revenue is collected only at a few specific points during the year, or over the course of several years in the case of property tax revenue, there is usually a time lag of 18 months to several years before economic shifts have an impact on city fiscal conditions.  
  • .LOS ANGELES TIMES By Maeve Reston and Phil Willon February 2, 2010 L.A. councilman considers police, firefighter layoffs Bernard Parks has asked the city's top budget analyst to outline a layoff plan that includes public safety agencies, which have been largely shielded from earlier budget cuts. As the Los Angeles City Council weighed options to address a $208-million shortfall, Councilman Bernard C. Parks on Monday ordered the city's top budget analyst to prepare a plan that could include layoffs of police officers and firefighters. Last week, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana outlined plans for the elimination of as many as 1,500 city positions , but none of those cuts were from the Police Department or the mayor's and council members' offices. Building up the city's police force by more than 1,000 officers has been one of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's top priorities and has had the council's backing, but that support has waned as the budget crisis has deepened.
  • Kansas City to Close Nearly Half Its Schools By SUSAN SAULNY THE NEW YORK TIMES Published: March 10, 2010 KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Board of Education voted Wednesday night to close almost half of the city’s public schools, accepting a sweeping and contentious plan to shrink the system in the face of dwindling enrollment, budget cuts and a $50 million deficit. In a 5-to-4 vote, the members endorsed the Right-Size plan, proposed by the schools superintendent, John Covington, to close 28 of the city’s 61 schools and cut 700 of 3,000 jobs, including those of 285 teachers. The closings are expected to save $50 million, erasing the deficit from the $300 million budget.
  • The Fat Lady Has Sung By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN THE NEW YORK TIMES February 20, 2010 A small news item from Tracy, Calif., caught my eye last week. Local station CBS 13 reported: “Tracy residents will now have to pay every time they call 911 for a medical emergency. But there are a couple of options. Residents can pay a $48 voluntary fee for the year, which allows them to call 911 as many times as necessary. Or there’s the option of not signing up for the annual fee. Instead they will be charged $300 if they make a call for help….” Indeed, to lead now is to trim, to fire or to downsize services, programs or personnel. We’ve gone from the age of government handouts to the age of citizen givebacks, from the age of companions fly free to the age of paying for each bag. Let’s just hope our lean years will only number seven. That will depend a lot on us and whether we rise to the economic challenges of this moment. Our parents truly were the Greatest Generation. We, alas, in too many ways, have been what the writer Kurt Andersen called “ The Grasshopper Generation,” eating through the prosperity that was bequeathed us like hungry locusts. Now we and our kids together need to be “The Regeneration” — the generation that renews, refreshes, re-energizes and rebuilds America for the 21st century. President Obama’s bad luck was that he showed up just as we moved from the fat years to the lean years. His calling is to lead The Regeneration. He clearly understands that in his head, but he has yet to give full voice to it…. To be sure, taking over the presidency at the dawn of the lean years is no easy task. The president needs to persuade the country to invest in the future and pay for the past — past profligacy — all at the same time. We have to pay for more new schools and infrastructure than ever, while accepting more entitlement cuts than ever, when public trust in government is lower than ever. On top of that, the Republican Party has never been more irresponsible. Having helped run the deficit to new heights during the recent Bush years, the G.O.P. is now unwilling to take any responsibility for dealing with it if it involves raising taxes .
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    • FEBRUARY 15, 1999
  • Robert Rubin: 'Virtually Nobody' Saw Crisis Coming, Bush Deserves Much Of The Blame Huffington Post   |  Grace Kiser First Posted: 03- 3-10 12:26 PM  Robert Rubin, the former Clinton-era Treasury Secretary and noted champion of deregulation, told a New York City audience last night that "virtually nobody" -- himself included -- foresaw the financial meltdown. In a discussion at the 92nd Street Y cultural center, Rubin touched on the financial crisis, Obama's economic policies and America's potential in the new global economy -- but not on financial reform or the deregulatory agenda of the 1990s. The former Citigroup director, gloomy about the country's short-term economic prospects, cautioned against taking too seriously some recent positive economic indicators -- such as the country's 5.9 percent growth last quarter.
    • By EDMUND L. ANDREWS Published: August 19, 2009 Mr. Bernanke and other Fed officials now concede they failed to anticipate the full danger posed by the explosion of subprime mortgage lending. As recently as the spring of 2007, Mr. Bernanke still contended that the problems of the housing market were largely “contained” to subprime mortgages. When panic over mortgage-backed securities began spreading through the broader credit markets in late July 2007, Fed officials initially refused to cut interest rates. By December 2007, Mr. Bernanke became increasingly convinced that the economy itself was in trouble but policy makers were unable to reach agreement and decided not to reduce interest rates.
    • Simon Johnson Economist and MIT Professor Posted: HUFFPOST January 28, 2010 07:16 PM Bernanke's Reappointment: A Colossal Failure Of Governance
  • From MOTHER JONES: Figures Current as of October 31, 2009
  • Ryan Grim and Shahien Nasiripour [email_address] | Revealed: See Who Was Paid Off In The AIG Bailout HuffPost Reporting First Posted: 01-27-10 02:47 PM   |   Updated: 01-27-10 09:05 PM A key question at the heart of the controversial bailout of AIG is just how much money the government lost. The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department have worked to keep that number secret and to conceal who was on the winning end. An unredacted document obtained by the Huffington Post list the damage in detail…. The list was produced as part of a congressional investigation led by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee into the federal bailout of AIG. The troubled insurer tried to publicly disclose these details in December 2008 before being thwarted by the Geithner-led New York Fed. A month later Geithner left to head the Treasury Department. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then led by now-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, purchased a slew of souring assets from the world's biggest banks for 100 cents on the dollar in November and December 2008 . A scathing report by a government watchdog held Geithner responsible for the overpayments. Those insurance contracts, called credit default swaps, are what the New York Fed ultimately took off AIG's books, paying the banks 100 cents on the dollar for toxic mortgage bonds -- home mortgages that were bundled together and securitized. The banks could never have gotten anywhere near such a generous deal on the open market, so the move served essentially as a direct subsidy to those banks from taxpayers . At the time the document was prepared, Goldman's $14 billion in souring derivatives had a market value of just $6 billion. Goldman had more than $8 billion in collateral from AIG to protect it from losses, meaning it was still about $6 billion short. But more than $2 billion of those collateral payments came from AIG after it was bailed out on Sept. 16 of that year, according to a Nov. 2008 presentation prepared for the New York Fed that was released this week . So that $2 billion was made possible partly due to taxpayer assistance. Combined with the $6 billion deficit it faced in the face value of those securities, Goldman Sachs ultimately received about $8 billion from taxpayers via AIG. Goldman posted a $1.3 billion profit for 2008 …. A government audit this month found that as of Sept. 30, 2009, the Treasury Department was expecting a $30 billion loss on its TARP-related AIG investment. The value of the securities could ultimately rise, though.
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  • Wall St. Helped to Mask Debt Fueling Europe’s Crisis By LOUISE STORY , LANDON THOMAS Jr. and NELSON D. SCHWARTZ THE NEW YORK TIMES February 13, 2010 Wall Street tactics akin to the ones that fostered subprime mortgages in America have worsened the financial crisis shaking Greece and undermining the euro by enabling European governments to hide their mounting debts. As worries over Greece rattle world markets, records and interviews show that with Wall Street’s help, the nation engaged in a decade-long effort to skirt European debt limits. One deal created by Goldman Sachs helped obscure billions in debt from the budget overseers in Brussels…. In early November — three months before Athens became the epicenter of global financial anxiety — a team from Goldman Sachs arrived in the ancient city with a very modern proposition for a government struggling to pay its bills….The bankers, led by Goldman’s president, Gary D. Cohn, held out a financing instrument that would have pushed debt from Greece’s health care system far into the future, much as when strapped homeowners take out second mortgages to pay off their credit cards. It had worked before. In 2001, just after Greece was admitted to Europe’s monetary union, Goldman helped the government quietly borrow billions…That deal, hidden from public view because it was treated as a currency trade rather than a loan, helped Athens to meet Europe’s deficit rules while continuing to spend beyond its means. Goldman Sachs, Greece Didn’t Disclose Swap Contract Feb. 17,2010 (Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc . managed $15 billion of bond sales for Greece after arranging a currency swap that allowed the government to hide the extent of its deficit. No mention was made of the swap in sales documents for the securities in at least six of the 10 sales the bank arranged for Greece since the transaction, according to a review of the prospectuses by Bloomberg. The New York-based firm helped Greece raise $1 billion of off-balance-sheet funding in 2002 through the swap, which European Union regulators said they knew nothing about until recent days. Failing to disclose the swap may have allowed Goldman, a co-lead manager on many of the sales, other underwriters and Greece to get a better price for the securities.
  • Report: 237 millionaires in Congress ERIKA LOVLEY | POLITICO.COM 11/6/09 12:14 PM EST As Washington reels from the news of 10.2 percent unemployment, the Center for Responsive Politics is out with a new report describing the wealth of members of Congress. Among the highlights: Two-hundred-and-thirty-seven members of Congress are millionaires. That’s 44 percent of the body – compared to about 1 percent of Americans overall. CRP says California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is the richest lawmaker on Capitol Hill, with a net worth estimated at about $251 million. Next in line: Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), worth about $244.7 million; Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), worth about $214.5 million; Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), worth about $209.7 million; and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), worth about $208.8 million. All told, at least seven lawmakers have net worths greater than $100 million, according to the Center’s 2008 figures. .
  • Meg Whitman Leads Spending Race In California Governor's Race JULIET WILLIAMS and DON THOMPSON HUFFPOST | 02/ 1/10 11:40 PM SACRAMENTO, Calif. Billionaire Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman spent money at a rapid pace last year, burning through $19.5 million a full year ahead of the general election, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday. Documents filed with the secretary of state's office showed the former eBay chief executive is spending generously to bankroll a large campaign team, run a series of statewide radio ads introducing herself to voters and hold fundraisers that netted $10 million In contributions. Corporate titans were among Whitman's biggest donors, including $25,900 each – the maximum donation per election cycle – from Cisco Systems chief executive John Chambers, eBay chief executive John Donahoe and a host of venture capitalists and hedge fund managers. Whitman took in more than $850,000 from out-of-state donors in the second half of the year as she crisscrossed the country hosting fundraisers from Florida to New York. Whitman also gave $19 million of her own money to her campaign in 2009. She ended the year with $10.5 million cash on hand but has since given herself another $20 million from her personal fortune.
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  • The Supreme Court removes important limits on campaign finance THE WASHINGTON POST Friday, January 22, 2010 For more than a century, Congress has recognized the danger of letting corporations use their wealth to wield undue influence in political campaigns. The Supreme Court had upheld these efforts. But Thursday, making a mockery of some justices' pretensions to judicial restraint, the Supreme Court unnecessarily and wrongly ruled 5 to 4 that the constitutional guarantee of free speech means that corporations can spend unlimited sums to help elect favored candidates or defeat those they oppose. This, as the dissenting justices wrote, "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation." This result was unnecessary because the court's conservative majority -- including supposed exemplars of judicial modesty -- lunged to make a broad constitutional ruling when narrower grounds were available. It was wrong because nothing in the First Amendment dictates that corporations must be treated identically to people. And it was dangerous because corporate money, never lacking in the American political process, may now overwhelm both the contributions of individuals and the faith they may harbor in their democracy. "We find no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers," the court said in an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. But the conclusion that corporations have free-speech protections -- and they do -- does not mandate that they be treated identically to actual persons. Corporations and labor unions, which by implication now also will be free to spend without limit, have not been "censored" or "banned" from engaging in political speech, as the court claimed; rather, they have been required to spend through political action committees, which raise money in limited amounts from employees and members. Reasonable limits on their electoral spending recognized what is obvious to anyone who has not gone to law school: There is a difference between a corporate person and a real person.
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  • China's economy expands 8.7% in 2009, exceeding target Rapid growth, higher prices suggest policy tightening coming By Chris Oliver , MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal, HONG KONG, Jan 21,2010 Chinese data released Thursday showed economic growth powered higher in the fourth quarter…. China's economy expanded 8.7% in 2009 , slightly ahead of expectations and exceeding the official growth target of 8% for the year, as massive fiscal stimulus and bank lending helped the economy escape recession in spite of a drop in global trade…. Ahead of the Thursday's data, talk among analysts was that a stellar quarter could elevate China over Japan as the world's second-largest economy . Calculations by Bank of America Merrill Lynch showed China has narrowed the gap at $4.909 trillion, but has yet to supersede Japan's $5.126 trillion, according to International Monetary Fund estimates for 2009. Japan is due to release preliminary 2009 GDP figures Feb.15 . China Patents Surge In 2009 as U.S. Filings Plunge GENEVA: February 8, 2010 China bucked an unprecedented decline in global patent filings last year, boosting its total by 29.7 percent , while the United States saw a fall of 11.4 percent, the world patent watchdog WIPO said on Monday…. The United States easily kept its place as the top origin of all filings with a total of nearly 45,800 -- nearly five times as many as China -- but its overall total fell 11.4 percent . Second-placed Japan accounted for 29,827. Two Chinese Schools Said to Be Tied to Online Attacks By JOHN MARKOFF and DAVID BARBOZA THE NEW YORK TIMES: February 18, 2010 SAN FRANCISCO — A series of online attacks on Google and dozens of other American corporations have been traced to computers at two educational institutions in China, including one with close ties to the Chinese military, say people involved in the investigation….The Chinese schools involved are Shanghai Jiaotong University and the Lanxiang Vocational School….Jiaotong has one of China’s top computer science programs. Just a few weeks ago its students won an international computer programming competition organized by I.B.M. — the “Battle of the Brains” — beating out Stanford and other top-flight universities.
  • China Leading Global Race to Make Clean Energy By KEITH BRADSHER Published: January 30, 2010 TIANJIN, China — China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world’s largest maker of wind turbines , and is poised to expand even further this year. China has also leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. And the country is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants. These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.
  • Op-Ed Columnist A Word From the Wise By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN Published: March 2, 2010 We are the United States of Deferred Maintenance . China is the People’s Republic of Deferred Gratification. They save, invest and build. We spend, borrow and patch…. And this contrast is playing out in the worst way — just slowly enough so the crisis never seems acute enough to take urgent action. But, eventually, infrastructure, education and innovation policies matter. Businesses prefer to invest with the Jetsons more than the Flintstones…. I had a chance last week to listen to Paul Otellini, the chief executive of Intel, the microchip maker and one of America’s crown jewel companies…. While America still has the quality work force, political stability and natural resources a company like Intel needs, said Otellini, the U.S. is badly lagging in developing the next generation of scientific talent and incentives to induce big multinationals to create lots more jobs here …. These local incentives matter because smart, skilled labor is everywhere now. Intel can thrive today — not just survive, but thrive — and never hire another American…. It gets worse. Otellini noted that a 2009 study done by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and cited recently in Democracy Journal “ranked the U.S. sixth among the top 40 industrialized nations in innovative competitiveness — not great, but not bad. Yet that same study also measured what they call ‘the rate of change in innovation capacity’ over the last decade — in effect, how much countries were doing to make themselves more innovative for the future. The study relied on 16 different metrics of human capital — I.T. infrastructure, economic performance and so on. On this scale, the U.S. ranked dead last out of the same 40 nations. ... When you take a hard look at the things that make any country competitive. ... we are slipping.” If the government just boosted the research and development tax credit by 5 percent and lowered corporate taxes, argued Otellini, and we “started one or two more projects in companies around the country that made them more productive and more competitive, the government’s tax revenues are going to grow.”
  • Wall Street’s Toxic Message By Joseph E. Stiglitz, VANITY FAIR, July 2009 In the current economic crisis, there are losers, and among the big losers is support for American-style capitalism. This has consequences we’ll be living with for a long time to come.... [T]he intense scrutiny by developing countries of America’s economic failure …is a real need to discover what kind of economic system can work for them in the future…. And they are increasingly convinced that any economic ideals America may espouse are ideals to run from rather than embrace…. America used to play a pivotal role in global capital, because others believed that we had a special talent for managing risk and allocating financial resources. No one thinks that now , and Asia—where much of the world’s saving occurs today—is already developing its own financial centers. We are no longer the chief source of capital. The world’s top three banks are now Chinese. America’s largest bank is down at the No. 5 spot…. The dollar has long been the reserve currency—countries held the dollar in order to back up confidence in their own currencies and governments. But it has gradually dawned on central banks around the world that the dollar may not be a good store of value…. The inevitable downturns, hard to manage in any case, but especially so by governments brought to power on the basis of rage against American-style capitalism, will lead to more poverty. The consequences for global stability and American security are obvious….There used to be a sense of shared values between America and the American-educated elites around the world. The economic crisis has now undermined the credibility of those elites. We have given critics who opposed America’s licentious form of capitalism ample ammunition to preach a broader anti-market philosophy…. Faith in democracy is another victim. In the developing world, people look at Washington and see a system of government that allowed Wall Street to write self-serving rules which put at risk the entire global economy—and then, when the day of reckoning came, turned to Wall Street to manage the recovery. They see continued re-distributions of wealth to the top of the pyramid, transparently at the expense of ordinary citizens. They see, in short, a fundamental problem of political accountability in the American system of democracy. After they have seen all this, it is but a short step to conclude that something is fatally wrong, and inevitably so, with democracy itself.
  • By Bruce Hoffman Sunday, January 10, 2010 THE WASHINGTON POST First, al-Qaeda is increasingly focused on overwhelming, distracting and exhausting us. To this end, it seeks to flood our already information-overloaded national intelligence systems with myriad threats and background noise. Al-Qaeda hopes we will be so distracted and consumed by all this data that we will overlook key clues, such as those before Christmas that linked Abdulmutallab to an al-Qaeda airline-bombing plot. Second, in the wake of the global financial crisis, al-Qaeda has stepped up a strategy of economic warfare. "We will bury you," Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev promised Americans 50 years ago. Today, al-Qaeda threatens: "We will bankrupt you." Over the past year, the group has issued statements, videos, audio messages and letters online trumpeting its actions against Western financial systems, even taking credit for the economic crisis. However divorced from reality these claims may be, propaganda doesn't have to be true to be believed, and the assertions resonate with al-Qaeda's target audiences.
  • How much have today’s wars weakened the economy? COMMENTARY | By John Hanrahan, November 15, 2009 [email_address] “ The question is not whether the economy has been weakened by the [Iraq] war,” wrote economists Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes in their 2008 book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War. “The question is only by how much.” Bilmes and Stiglitz, using what they termed a “realistic-moderate scenario,” determined that the losses to the economy for war spending, as of that writing, totaled “more than a trillion dollars.” They posited that “no serious economist [today] holds the view that war is good for the economy.”…But while non-defense government spending can create jobs and boost the economy, they wrote, “money spent on armaments is money poured down the drain: had it been spent on investment – whether on plants and equipment, infrastructure, research, health, or education – the economy’s productivity would have been increased and future output would have been greater.”
  • What Airport Security Costs You By Matthew Bandyk , January 11, 2010 "It's not clear to me that the $40 billion we've spent on screening passengers since September 11 is the wisest use of security resources," says Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at think tank the Reason Foundation, and a member of the Government Accountability Office's National Aviation Studies Advisory Panel. The resources spent are large--and bigger than you might think. The old adage goes that time is money, and by that standard, airport security is very expensive. Post-September 11 screening procedures have greatly increased the amount of time Americans must spend waiting at the airport because they now need a larger buffer time between arriving at the airport and getting on their flights. That extra time spent at the airport has a cost. It means less time to spend at work, less time to spend with children, and less time for leisure. Another survey by the Resource Systems Group found that average airline passengers traveling on business would be willing to pay about $70 to reduce one hour of their travel time. For all other fliers, the survey found that the price of an hour is $31. Poole calculates that the annual cost to the country of the extra wait times from post-September 11 security procedures is about $8 billion . But he arrives at this number through a few assumptions that probably understate the real amount. Poole assumes that an hour of time is worth $50 for a business traveler and $15 for everyone else . He also assumes that the new security procedures added only a half-hour to passengers' travel time…. A full account of the cost of security delays does not end here, however. There are also ripple effects from the delays that create new costs. For example, longer delays at the airport encouraged passengers to seek new modes of transportation for their trips, such as driving. Because driving is so much more dangerous than flying, the thousands of more people who took to the roads rather than the skies after September 11 led to more car accidents. Blalock estimated that from September of 2001 to October of 2003, the enhanced airport security led to 2,300 road fatalities that otherwise would not have occurred. But these costs have to be measured against the massive damage that would be done to the economy if another terrorist attack were to occur. The September 11 attacks, for example, cost New York City's economy $27 billion during the 15 months following the attacks alone, according to the New York City comptroller.
  • An Empire at Risk We won the cold war and weathered 9/11. But now economic weakness is endangering our global power. By Niall Ferguson | NEWSWEEK  Published Nov 28, 2009 From magazine issue dated Dec 7, 2009 … if the United States succumbs to a fiscal crisis , as an increasing number of economic experts fear it may, then the entire balance of global economic power could shift. Military experts talk as if the president's decision about whether to send an additional 40,000 troops to Afghanistan is a make-or-break moment. In reality, his indecision about the deficit could matter much more for the country's long-term national security. Call the United States what you like—superpower, hegemon, or empire—but its ability to manage its finances is closely tied to its ability to remain the predominant global military power.
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    • Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley, August, 2009
    • GROUPS 1, 2, AND 3 (the top 10% of all income producers) ADD TO A TOTAL OF 50% 0F TOTAL NATIONAL FAMILY INCOME
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  •   Cameroon 15.7 9.1 44.6 15.4 2001 44.6 2001   Côte d'Ivoire 16.6 9.7 44.6 17.0 2002 44.6 2002   United States 15.9 8.4 40.8 15.0 2007 est. 45 2007   Uruguay 17.9 10.2 44.9 17.9 2003 45.2 2006   Jamaica 17.3 9.8 45.5 17.0 2004 45.5 2004   Uganda 16.6 9.2 45.7 16.4 2002 45.7 2002   Ecuador 44.9 17.3 53.6 17.5 2006 ] 46 2006   Malaysia 22.1 12.4 49.2 28.0 2003 est. 46.1 2002   Mexico 24.6 12.8 46.1 24.6 2004 46.1 2004   Rwanda 18.6 9.9 46.8 18.2 2000 46.8 2000   People's Republic of China 21.6 12.2 46.9 21.8 2004 46.9 2004 Country   UN R/P 10% UN R/P 20% UN Gini CIA R/P 10% Year CIA Gini Year   Sweden 6.2 4 25 6.2 2000 23 2005   Denmark 8.1 4.3 24.7 12.0 2000 est. 24 2005   Slovenia 5.9 3.9 28.4 5.9 1998 24 2005   Iceland N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 25 2005   Austria 6.9 4.4 29.1 6.8 2004 26 2005   Czech Republic 5.2 3.5 25.4 5.2 1996 26 2005   Finland 5.6 3.8 26.9 5.7 2000 26 2005   Luxembourg N/A N/A N/A 6.8 2000 26 2005   Slovakia 6.7 4 25.8 6.7 1996 26 2005   Bosnia and Herzegovina 5.4 3.8 26.2 5.5 2001 26.2 2001   Albania 7.2 4.8 31.1 7.2 2004 26.7 2005   Belgium 8.2 4.9 33 8.3 2000 28 2005   France 9.1 5.6 32.7 8.3 2004 28 2005   Germany 6.9 4.3 28.3 6.9 2000 28 2005
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