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Mon Nov 02, 2009 at 09:15 AM PST

Your $29 Billion Shopping Mall

by Areopagitica

I live in the fair city of Oklahoma City where we have too many shopping malls for our population. One of these malls is Crossroads Mall on the south side of the city, plunked down where I-35 and I-240 intersect. I-35 is the main north-south interstate in OKC, and I-240 is an interstate spur that goes east-west connecting I-44 on the far SW side of town with I-40 on the east.

You would think that this would be a primo location for a mall in the city as it would be on the route for the many commuters who live in outlying towns like Moore (south of OKC), Norman (south), and Jones (east). Unfortunately, while logical, it is not true. And now, Crossroads Mall, a slowly dying mall, is owned by the Federal Reserve, as the only physical collateral the Fed has for a $29 billion dollar 'loan' they made to JP Morgan Chase so JPMC could buy Bear Stearns.

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The Federal Reserve has been having a tough year politically in Washington. A really tough year, the kind of year where they actually have to prove that they are doing something worthwhile for the USA, and not only for that ever important elect, the bankers, all bankers from Wall Street princes and Main Street barons.

What with Bernanke - Greenspan using monetarist economic theory to guide policy, to manage bubbles that ultimately rewarded the forces of 'globalization,' leading to this country's rapidly declining industrial base, decreasing wages (unless you happen to be a prince or a baron), but an ever growing stock market. These great seers of technocratic babbling were 100% behind financial innovations like sub-prime lending, ARMs, securitization, and financial derivatives. All those new-fangled financial innovations that require a sucker or a million suckers for someone to 'win.'

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The US Treasury is scheduled to sell $235 billion dollars in various forms of debt over the next week.

70 day CMBs, $30 billion (tomorrow)
13 week Bills, $32 billion (July 27th)
26 week Bills, $31 billion (July 27th)
52 week Bills, $27 billion (July 28th)
2 year Notes, $42 billion (July 28th)
5 year Notes, $39 billion (July 29th)
7 year Notes, $28 billion (July 30th)
19 year, 6 month TIPS (reopened), $6 billion (July 27th)

(ht Marketwatch -- a bit rightwing but still some interesting info)


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This has been a question ringing in my ears for awhile.

Consider the fact that most consumer goods sold in this country are made with the misery of millions around the world. Some of the metals used in your computer and cell-phone are mined with slave and child labor. The fabrication of the computer chips is highly polluting. The process of lithography used to fabricate the chips uses highly toxic organic chemicals to lay down the circuits. Most computers are sold through direct consumer sales at places like Wal-Mart or Best Buy, which consistently mistreat labor, or through companies like Dell, which again has a poor labor record. These companies also distort the tax base of the communities that they have stores or call-centers, usually highly advantageous TIFFs that force property owners and renters to bear more of the tax burden for their communities while destroying smaller businesses in the communities. Finally, internet access is only possible due to energy gobbling server farms all across the country. Every part of the life-cycle of a computer has negative consequences.

How does one opt-out of this system? That is my question.

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Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 09:27 AM PDT

How to kill a zombie

by Areopagitica

Most of you are familiar with the usual plot of most zombie movies. Everything is fine until one day when space dust, a new virus, or occult practices start causing the dead to re-animate and spur within them an insatiable lust for human blood. The principals in the movies take some time in figuring out how to fight back, usually spending a lot of the time running from zombies coming from every direction. But then, at some point, someone realizes that the only way to stop the zombies is to shoot, puncture, explode their heads (and sometimes hearts in some movies).

The way you kill a zombie is to shoot it in the head.

Today, our banking system, is a zombie. Instead of hungering for human flesh directly, it hungers for our cash. But where is the head on this zombie located, where can we focus our actions to actually kill these zombies, rather than running from them with no hope of relief?

The answer lies with the concept of 'hot money.'

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The robust public option or single payer is being killed by the corporate masters within the Democratic party. The tactics and strategies that have been used at this point by activists have been less than effective in creating the change that the majority of Americans want.

The purpose of this diary is to lay out ideas for direct action and media framing for the purposes of getting the message out as well as amplifying the message and activating potential activists as well as more citizen involvement.

Many of the people in this community are activists and have worked as organizers or at least realize how hard organizing is. What I am proposing are smaller scale actions meant to get the message out as well as shame politicians, insurers, and/or professional organizations. Especially in states with Democratic senators.


Health care reform needs more

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This is a simple point. We need to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Iran fighting and dying for democracy. Solidarity is all that the people really have in this world against the powers that work against us everyday, destroying our lives, the lives of our loved ones, and the lives of real heros, people fighting to make their world and the world around them a better place.

If the BBC, an 'impartial' new source can go green in solidarity why can't we on this site do the same thing.

If you believe in solidarity and real people power, now is the time to demand that the site admins show it here. Tell them in the comments below why this symbolic gesture would mean so much. I'm under no illusion that this one action will change the world, but what it will do is give power to the story, ours, the Iranians, and the people of the world that we stand together all across this globe. We may not be able to do much in actuality for our Iranian brothers and sisters, but we can let them know that many corners of the world support them and their power to change their nation's destiny.

community should stop demanding this symbolic action.


Turn this site green?

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Tue Apr 21, 2009 at 12:46 PM PDT

The Bankster Blues

by Areopagitica

I encourage everyone read The Wail of the 1% by New York magazines Gabriel Sherman. It is an article that tries to have some sympathy for the plight of the downtrodden Wall Street types, but the Wall Street types have some type of congenital personality defect making it terribly difficult for us shmoos in the hinterlands to feel their pain.

"No offense to Middle America, but if someone went to Columbia or Wharton, [even if] their company is a fumbling, mismanaged bank, why should they all of a sudden be paid the same as the guy down the block who delivers restaurant supplies for Sysco out of a huge, shiny truck?" e-mails an irate Citigroup executive to a colleague.

I hope your not offended out there in flyover land, especially all you hard-working types that this market monkeys tried to wring every last cent out of your productivity. You know, its hard to get through an Ivy League school, much harder than a state school or a community college.

I wonder what his colleagues must have to say?

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There is a lot of outrage and questioning why 'tough love' is not being exercised with the banks and financial institutions similar to the auto industry. I think this article from the WSJ helps explain why. It is about another part of AIG, Banque AIG, basically another form of its financial products division for European banks and the current fire that the resignation of two managers is causing in Europe.

Representatives of the Federal Reserve, AIG's lead U.S. overseer, are talking with French regulators and AIG officials to deal with the consequences of a complicated legal scenario in which the departures of the managers in Banque AIG, a subsidiary of AIG's Financial Products unit, could trigger defaults in $234 billion of derivative transactions, according to people familiar with the situation and a document AIG provided to the U.S. Treasury.

The bonus flap was cover for this more important issue. The mangers of these derivative contracts wrote triggering clauses into the language of the contracts that could bring the whole house of cards crashing down.



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While trawling Wikileaks I came across this press release.

A confidential memo obtained by Wikileaks shows that not only has the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission created an insider trading loophole big enough to drive a truck through, but that Wall Street is taking full advantage of it, establishing 'how-to' programs and even client service divisions to help well-heeled clients circumvent insider trading regulations.

Apparently the SEC has Rule 10b5-1 which was created to clarify what constitutes insider trading. Now, it appears that JP Morgan (and probably other financial firms) has found loopholes that legitimate some forms of insider trading. JP Morgan has established a program through its JP Morgan Private Bank to allow wealthy clients and executives to profit from their inside knowledge in a perfectly legal manner.

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A report by respected economists has come out severely criticizing the current state of academic economics and by extension the theories and models underlying many of the moves by the Fed and Treasury.
From the Dahlem report

Abstract: The economics profession appears to have been unaware of the long build-up to the current worldwide financial crisis and to have significantly underestimated its dimensions once it started to unfold. In our view, this lack of understanding is due to a misallocation of research efforts in economics. We trace the deeper roots of this failure to the profession’s insistence on constructing models that, by design, disregard the key elements driving outcomes in real-world markets. The economics profession has failed in communicating the limitations, weaknesses, and even dangers of its preferred models to the public. This state of affairs makes clear the need for a major reorientation of focus in the research economists undertake, as well as for the establishment of an ethical code that would ask economists to understand and communicate the limitations and potential misuses of their models.

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Another day, another set of inanities from the House Republicans.

(from the Washington Independent)

"We’re advocating that Congress freeze all federal spending immediately," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the chairman of the House Republican Conference, during a Tuesday luncheon at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "People out there are hurting, and they understand what you do when times are tough. You make hard choices. Today House Republicans are urging the Democrats to do the same. We think it’s time that the Democrats put our money where their mouth is."

"Oh noes," say Republicans, "please show that you understand and swallow our nihilism Democrats. Please understand our failed ideology is intellectually and morally superior to your pragmatic attempts at fixing our mess. Don't you understand, the plan was to destroy the government, not save the country." Social Darwinism is the only acceptable form of evolutionary theory for Republicans apparently.


When you are on fire, do you

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