Wall Street’s Best Investment II: 12 Deregulatory Steps to Financial Meltdown

What can $5 billion buy in Washington?

Quite a lot.

Over the 1998-2008 period, the financial sector spent more than $5 billion on U.S. federal campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures.

This extraordinary investment paid off fabulously. Congress and executive agencies rolled back long-standing regulatory restraints, refused to impose new regulations on rapidly evolving and mushrooming areas of finance, and shunned calls to enforce rules still in place.

“Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America,” a report released by Essential Information and the Consumer Education Foundation (and which I co-authored), details a dozen crucial deregulatory moves over the last decade — each a direct response to heavy lobbying from Wall Street and the broader financial sector, as the report details. (The report is available here.) Combined, these deregulatory moves helped pave the way for the current financial meltdown.

Here are 12 deregulatory steps to financial meltdown: (more…)

Published in: on March 9, 2009 at 9:06 am  Comments (4)  

Kicking retirees when they’re down

The Wall Street crew want to cut Social Security and Medicare at a time when US workers need help the most

Virtually without challenge, Pete Peterson claims to be a champion of the middle class. But his proposals would actually cut taxes for the rich and benefits for middle-income people.

Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 8:02 pm  Comments (2)  

KEATING ECONOMICS: John McCain & The Making of a Financial Crisis

Published in: on October 7, 2008 at 3:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

US Taxpayers are Being Enrolled in an Economic Chain Gang

“To preserve their [the people’s] independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude” – Thomas Jefferson

Published in: on September 29, 2008 at 6:30 am  Comments (1)  

Assist immediately please

Dear Madame/Sir:

Compliments of the day. I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion USD. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who (God willing) will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a former U.S. congressional leader and the architect of the PALIN / McCain Financial Doctrine, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. As such, you can be assured that this transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully in the Name of God,

Minister of Treasury Paulson

Published in: on September 25, 2008 at 8:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Show Your Support for a Responsible Economic Recovery Plan

We are facing a financial crisis as profound as any we have faced since the Great Depression.

Congress and the President are currently debating a bailout of our financial institutions with a price tag of $700 billion in taxpayer dollars. We cannot underestimate our responsibility in taking such an enormous step.

Please sign on to show your support for an economic recovery plan based on these guiding principles:

  • No Golden Parachutes — Taxpayer dollars should not be used to reward the irresponsible Wall Street executives who helmed this disaster.
  • Main Street, Not Just Wall Street — Any bailout plan must include a payback strategy for taxpayers who are footing the bill and aid to innocent homeowners who are facing foreclosure.
  • Bipartisan Oversight — The staggering amount of taxpayer money involved demands a bipartisan board to ensure accountability and oversight.
Published in: on September 25, 2008 at 7:36 am  Comments (2)  

Election Madness

By Howard Zinn

There’s a man in Florida who has been writing to me for years (ten pages, handwritten) though I’ve never met him. He tells me the kinds of jobs he has held—security guard, repairman, etc. He has worked all kinds of shifts, night and day, to barely keep his family going. His letters to me have always been angry, railing against our capitalist system for its failure to assure “life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness” for working people.

Just today, a letter came. To my relief it was not handwritten because he is now using e-mail: “Well, I’m writing to you today because there is a wretched situation in this country that I cannot abide and must say something about. I am so enraged about this mortgage crisis. That the majority of Americans must live their lives in perpetual debt, and so many are sinking beneath the load, has me so steamed. Damn, that makes me so mad, I can’t tell you. . . . I did a security guard job today that involved watching over a house that had been foreclosed on and was up for auction. They held an open house, and I was there to watch over the place during this event. There were three of the guards doing the same thing in three other homes in this same community. I was sitting there during the quiet moments and wondering about who those people were who had been evicted and where they were now.”

Published in: on March 17, 2008 at 12:33 am  Comments (1)  

The Society of the Owned

Pt. 6: Just Drop Off the Key

It’s the same anger that follows a broken promise, or a betrayal, when people have followed the rules, or simply done the same what everyone around them: bought into the idea of the ownership society, only to find that the rules have changed, and the door was never opened anyway.

  1. The Society of the Owned, Pt. 1
  2. The Society of the Owned, Pt. 2: Under the Bus
  3. The Society of the Owned, Pt. 3: Deeper in Debt
  4. The Society of the Owned, Pt. 4: Caught in the Middle
  5. The Society of the Owned, Pt.5: The Rage of a Middle Class
Published in: on March 14, 2008 at 6:48 pm  Comments (1)  

Bush wishes the richest one percent a very merry Christmas


Read about the rich getting here

Published in: on December 25, 2007 at 8:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pay It off Later: Debt Is the New American Dream

The U.S. addicted to debt — and the country and millions of its citizens are at the brink of bankruptcy.

Published in: on November 18, 2007 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Income-Inequality Gap Widens

Boom in financial markets parallels rise in share for wealthiest Americans.

The richest Americans’ share of national income has hit a postwar record, surpassing the highs reached in the 1990s bull market, and underlining the divergence of economic fortunes blamed for fueling anxiety among American workers.

Published in: on October 14, 2007 at 2:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Sum of Some Fears


Published: July 27, 2007

Yesterday’s scary ride in the markets wasn’t a full-fledged panic. The interest rate on 10-year U.S. government bonds — a much better indicator than stock prices of what investors think will happen to the economy — fell sharply, but even so, it ended the day higher than its level as recently as mid-May, and well above its levels earlier in the year. This tells us that investors still consider a recession, which would cause the Fed to cut interest rates, fairly unlikely.

[need access?]

Published in: on July 27, 2007 at 10:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Welcome to Richistan, USA

The American Dream of riches for all is turning into a nightmare of inequality. But a backlash is brewing, reports Paul Harris in New York

Published in: on July 22, 2007 at 10:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

The French Connections


Published: July 23, 2007

There was a time when everyone thought that the Europeans and the Japanese were better at business than we were. In the early 1990s airport bookstores were full of volumes with samurai warriors on their covers, promising to teach you the secrets of Japanese business success. Lester Thurow’s 1992 book, “Head to Head: The Coming Economic Battle Among Japan, Europe and America,” which spent more than six months on the Times best-seller list, predicted that Europe would win.

[need access?]

Published in: on July 22, 2007 at 9:58 pm  Comments (1)  

Foreclosures Up 90% From Last Year

Winners and Losers in the Housing Market Crash

Published in: on July 21, 2007 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cuba embargo costs U.S. farmers $176 million to $350 million

Pablo Bachelet |WASHINGTON — Eliminating U.S. trade and travel restrictions on Cuba could double U.S. agricultural exports to the island, according to a new government report that’s sure to add fuel to the debate over U.S. sanctions on Cuba.

Published in: on July 20, 2007 at 8:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Foreclosure activity rises dramatically

Bay Area defaults, auctions, repossessions nearly triple; nationwide notices are up 87%

Published in: on July 15, 2007 at 6:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

No Protection for Homeowners

Rising mortgage delinquencies are likely to be followed by rising consumer bankruptcies and, with them, the first big test of the federal bankruptcy reform law of 2005. Early indications are that low- to middle-income borrowers will be unduly punished.

Published in: on July 14, 2007 at 10:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sorry Thomas Friedman, The World Is Round

In an excerpt from the new book, Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, Stephen Marshall takes on liberals like Friedman, who would have you believe that our capitalist system is inherently just and self-regulating when, in reality, it is anything but.

By Stephen Marshall

Published in: on July 5, 2007 at 8:33 pm  Comments (1)  

Fair Game: Risk-Aversion Therapy on Wall St.


Investors have some nerve to dump Blackstone’s shares — don’t they know who Steve Schwarzman is?

Published in: on June 30, 2007 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Inflation Soars — But Wall Steet Ignores It

June 15, 2007, 11:39 am
Floyd Norris

Wall Street is relieved that inflation is under control. Consumers know it isn’t.

(To read the rest, you’ll need access.)

Published in: on June 16, 2007 at 2:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Can a Vision Save All of Africa?

Talking Business:

Some economists say that while Jeffrey Sachs means well, he is peddling a dream that will always be just that: a dream.

(To read the rest, you’ll need access.)

Published in: on June 16, 2007 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Flip Side of the Dream

Op-Ed Columnist
Bob Herbert
June 16, 2007

‘It seems obvious that we should be putting as many young people to work as possible, but the opposite is happening.’

(To read the rest, you’ll need access.)

Published in: on June 16, 2007 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Israel Discovers Oil

June 10, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


Lucien Bronicki is one of Israel’s foremost experts in geothermal power, but when I ran into him last week at Ben Gurion University, in Israel’s Negev Desert, all he wanted to talk about was oil wells. Israel, he told me, had discovered oil.

Published in: on June 10, 2007 at 12:08 am  Comments (4)  

America’s Hungry

In 2005, 35 million people lived in households that frequently went without enough to eat according to Larry Brown, researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health. The study report: Economic Cost of Domestic Hunger

[Merci R]

Published in: on June 7, 2007 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Educated Giant

May 28, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Taishan, China

With China’s trade surplus with the United States soaring, the tendency in the U.S. will be to react with tariffs and other barriers. But instead we should take a page from the Chinese book and respond by boosting education. (more…)

Published in: on May 27, 2007 at 11:00 pm  Comments (9)  

Immigrants and Politics

May 25, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

A piece of advice for progressives trying to figure out where they stand on immigration reform: it’s the political economy, stupid. Analyzing the direct economic gains and losses from proposed reform isn’t enough. You also have to think about how the reform would affect the future political environment. (more…)

Published in: on May 24, 2007 at 10:58 pm  Comments (20)  

Pirates and Sanctions

May 24, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


This is a city you’ve probably never heard of, yet it has a population of 10 million people who fill your dressers and closets. By one count, 40 percent of the sports shoes sold in the U.S. come from Dongguan. (more…)

Published in: on May 23, 2007 at 10:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Laughing and Crying

May 23, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

First I had to laugh. Then I had to cry.

I took part in commencement this year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, one of America’s great science and engineering schools, so I had a front-row seat as the first grads to receive their diplomas came on stage, all of them Ph.D. students. One by one the announcer read their names and each was handed their doctorate — in biotechnology, computing, physics and engineering — by the school’s president, Shirley Ann Jackson. (more…)

Published in: on May 22, 2007 at 9:51 pm  Comments (11)  

The Beauty of the Oil Market

May 20, 2007, 3:54 pm
by Lisa Margonelli

It’s busy season for gas station attendants — with prices for a gallon of regular unleaded bopping around $3.11 nationally, they need to change their signs at least once a day. Many drivers hate these price changes, and I see their point: Not only are rising gas prices a financial burden; they also function as a sort of emotional baseball score — an index of American economic health. When prices are high, anxiety rises.

Published in: on May 22, 2007 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Destroying Dow Jones to Save It

May 19, 2007
Talking Business

So let’s see. We’re now into week No. 3 of the business world’s favorite new soap opera, “Mr. Murdoch Lusts After Dow Jones.” And what a strange week it’s been.

You’d think that when someone offers $60 a share for a stock that has been stuck in the $30s, as the News Corporation’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, did, the controlling shareholders would, at the very least, want to really grapple with it. (more…)

Published in: on May 19, 2007 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Divided Over Trade

May 14, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Nothing divides Democrats like international trade policy. That became clear last week, when the announcement of a deal on trade between Democratic leaders and the Bush administration caused many party activists to accuse the leadership of selling out. (more…)

Published in: on May 13, 2007 at 10:26 pm  Comments (3)  

The Millions Left Out

May 12, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

The United States may be the richest country in the world, but there are many millions — tens of millions — who are not sharing in that prosperity.

Published in: on May 11, 2007 at 11:07 pm  Comments (1)  

Exporting I.P.

Free trade is supposed to be a win-win situation. You sell me your televisions, I sell you my software, and we both prosper. In practice, free-trade agreements are messier than that. Since all industries crave foreign markets to expand into but fear foreign competitors encroaching on their home turf, they lobby their governments to tilt the rules in their favor. Usually, this involves manipulating tariffs and quotas. But, of late, a troubling twist in the game has become more common, as countries use free-trade agreements to rewrite the laws of their trading partners. And the country that is doing this most aggressively is the United States.

by James Surowiecki

[Thx S.A.]

Published in: on May 7, 2007 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Hidden Costs of Cheap Goods

The recent FDA debacle over the discovery of the toxic chemical melamine in pet food from China should remind us all that cheap goods, whether animal feed, denim jeans or the latest electronic gadgets, have a price attached. There’s a problem, though – the price tag isn’t always visible.

Published in: on May 5, 2007 at 1:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Another Economic Disconnect

April 30, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Last fall Edward Lazear, the Bush administration’s top economist, explained that what’s good for corporations is good for America. “Profits,” he declared, “provide the incentive for physical capital investment, and physical capital growth contributes to productivity growth. Thus profits are important not only for investors but also for the workers who benefit from the growth in productivity.”

In other words, ask not for whom the closing bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Unfortunately, these days none of what Mr. Lazear said seems to be true. In the Bush years high profits haven’t led to high investment, and rising productivity hasn’t led to rising wages. (more…)

Published in: on April 29, 2007 at 10:55 pm  Comments (4)  

Gilded Once More

April 27, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

One of the distinctive features of the modern American right has been nostalgia for the late 19th century, with its minimal taxation, absence of regulation and reliance on faith-based charity rather than government social programs. Conservatives from Milton Friedman to Grover Norquist have portrayed the Gilded Age as a golden age, dismissing talk of the era’s injustice and cruelty as a left-wing myth.

Published in: on April 26, 2007 at 11:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

China Needs an Einstein. So Do We.

April 27, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

I’ve been thinking about China as I read Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Albert Einstein. China isn’t even mentioned in the book — “Einstein: His Life and Universe” — but Mr. Isaacson’s stimulating and provocative retelling of Einstein’s career plays into two very hot debates about China.

First, what does Einstein’s life tell us about the relationship between freedom and creativity? Or to put it bluntly: Can China become as innovative as America, can it dominate the 21st century, as many predict, when China censors Google and maintains tight political controls while establishing its market economy? (more…)

Published in: on April 26, 2007 at 10:52 pm  Comments (2)  

In Its Match With China, India Penalizes Its Own Team

April 24, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


India is stirring after many centuries of torpor, and it has a chance of ending this century as the capital of the world, the most important nation on earth. You see up-and-coming cities like Hyderabad or Ahmedabad, and it’s easy to believe that India will eventually surpass China. (more…)

Published in: on April 23, 2007 at 10:51 pm  Comments (2)  

‘Patient’ Capital for an Africa That Can’t Wait

April 20, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Last week, I was touring northern Tanzania when our car passed the small town of Karatu and we suddenly came upon an open field splashed with colors so bright and varied it looked from afar as if someone had painted a 30-color rainbow on the landscape.

As we got closer, I discovered that it was Karatu’s huge clothing market. Merchants had laid out blankets piled with multicolored shirts, pants and dresses, much of it used clothing from Europe, and were hawking their goods. (more…)

Published in: on April 19, 2007 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Putting Corporations First

The free market is the engine of our economy, conservatives like to say, so be quiet and let corporations take us for a ride. But the reminders are piling up that blind reliance on the private sector doesn’t lead to a strong economy that works for everyone.

Published in: on April 17, 2007 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cellphones, Maxi-Pads and Other Life-Changing Tools

April 6, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


For decades, the world has asked: How do we free Africa from its yoke of poverty, disease and misgovernance? In asking Kenyans that question, I’ve been struck at the simple, common-sense solutions they offer. Four in particular stand out: transparency, telephones, Tergat and Kotex. (more…)

Published in: on April 5, 2007 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Trillions in Debt, Can the Middle Class Hang On?

How do we stop the credit industry’s predatory business model and get Americans out of debt when incomes aren’t rising as fast as the costs of healthcare and housing?

Published in: on April 5, 2007 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Slicing Up at the Long Barbeque

Who Gorges, Who Serves, and Who Gets Roasted?

Published in: on April 5, 2007 at 1:29 am  Leave a Comment  

A Modest Proposal For Job Flexibility

April 4, 2007, 5:30 pm
Floyd Norris
Notions on High and Low Finance

Circuit City’s move to fire its better-paid workers, the subject of David Leonhardt’s column in Wednesday’s Times, is a logical extension of the flexibile employment market that is more often praised than practiced in this country. Americans regularly criticize Western Europe for job protection policies that, by making it hard to fire people, also discourage hiring them in the first place. (more…)

Published in: on April 5, 2007 at 1:09 am  Leave a Comment  

The African Connection

April 4, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist


Was anybody out there checking out jobs with the U.S. post office in 2005? Do you remember when you called that 800 number to get details? Sure you do. Do you remember how the voice on the other end of the line helping you had this soft British accent with a slight African lilt? Do you know why? Because you were routed to a call center in Kenya. (more…)

Published in: on April 5, 2007 at 12:42 am  Leave a Comment  

The Great Wealth Transfer

It’s the biggest untold economic story of our time: more of the nation’s bounty held in fewer and fewer hands. And Bush’s tax cuts are only making the problem worse


[Thx MC]

Published in: on April 2, 2007 at 10:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

U.S., in Major Shift, Imposes Tariffs on Some Chinese Paper

The Bush administration, in a major escalation of trade pressure on China, said Friday that it would reverse more than 20 years of American policy and impose potentially steep tariffs on Chinese manufactured goods on the ground that China is illegally subsidizing some of its exports.

Published in: on March 31, 2007 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Iran planning to stop using U.S. dollar to price oil, central bank governor says

Iran is planning to stop using the U.S. dollar to price oil, with less than half of its oil income now paid in the U.S. currency, Iran’s central bank governor said.

Published in: on March 29, 2007 at 11:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Income Gap Is Widening, Data Shows

Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 — receiving their largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newly released tax data shows.

Published in: on March 29, 2007 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment