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(Photo by joanneleon. August, 2012)
"Give me the right to issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who governs the country.”
Meyer Amschal Rothschild, International banker

Ry Cooder - No Banker Left Behind
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U.S. Economy Still at 'Grave Risk' on 4-Year Anniversary of Lehman Brothers Collapse

Just in the time for the four-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, a report concludes that the U.S. financial crisis has cost the country $12.8 trillion.

Better Markets, a nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to "promote the public interest in financial reform," estimated the cost of the "Wall-Street caused financial collapse and ongoing economic crisis" using figures from the Congressional Budget Office and Gross Domestic Product estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

[ ... ]

The authors focused on four categories of cost: unemployment, destroyed household wealth, government bailouts and support, and human suffering. They chose to use the estimated lost Gross Domestic Product from 2008 to 2018, including projections of U.S. GDP before the crisis took place, from the Congressional Budget Office. The estimated lost GDP is $7.6 trillion.

[Emphasis mine.]

The power of positive thinking

Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve reached a crossroads. It had lowered short-term interest rates to zero and promised to keep them there until 2013, and then 2014. It had undertaken multiple rounds of bond purchases to lower long-term interest rates. Yet the recovery was actually losing steam; unemployment had stopped falling. Was there anything left to try?

The answer, it turns out, is yes. The Fed made one of its most consequential announcements yet today. The detailed actions were, in themselves, similar to previous steps: it will buy $40 billion of mortgage backed securities per month, and extend the period of short-term rates near zero until at least mid-2015. But the game changer was what it said: it will keep buying bonds until, and beyond, when the recovery is firmly established.

[ ... ]

That will depend on whether the policy seems to be working. So far, investors like what they see. The broader stock market jumped 1.5% with the S&P 500 hitting its highest close since 2007. Treasury bond yields actually edged lower (they typically sell off when investors are flocking to stocks) and the yield on the 30-year mortgage backed security plunged 15 basis points. The real test will be the behavior of spending, income and employment. The economy faces several strong headwinds, notably a recession in Europe and the threat of severe fiscal tightening at home through year-end. For that reason alone, a near term improvement in employment seems unlikely.

But thereafter, things look better. Between the ECB’s action last week and the Fed’s today, the world’s two most important central banks are bringing unprecedented resolve to bear on economic growth. The world may one day look back and conclude the first half of September was either a turning point for the global economy, or the final nail in the coffin of the doctrine of central bank omnipotence.

Citigroup Puts the Fun Back in Taking Huge Losses

Let that be a lesson to other financial institutions. Now is as good a time as ever to fess up to long-overdue red ink. The stock market is surging, and the Federal Reserve andEuropean Central Bank are doing all they can to prop up the industry. Booking pent-up losses gets bad news into the past and helps banks build credibility, which they will need in abundance the next time they go to raise fresh capital. As Citigroup’s chief executive, Vikram Pandit, put it this week, “the more we put the past behind us, the more we can focus on our future.”

There has been plenty of news lately that backs up the assertions by the Basel, Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements about hidden losses. At Hudson City Bancorp Inc. (HCBK), one of New Jersey’s largest lenders, the balance sheet was so detached from reality that the company agreed last month to sell itself to M&T Bank Corp. (MTB) at a 20 percent discount to book value, or assets minus liabilities. Even so, the $3.7 billion sale price was 12 percent more than Hudson City’s stock- market value at the time. So its shareholders benefited.
[ ... ]
One reason financial institutions can bury losses for years on end is that the accounting standards make it easy for them. Many types of financial instruments, including loans, don’t have to be carried at their fair-market values. And the rules for writing them down tend to be flexible.

A Warning on Bank Complexity, From Someone Who Would Know

On Thursday, one former Wall Street executive put the issue in vivid terms as she raised concerns about the complexity of financial behemoths.

“It makes you weep blood out of your eyes,” said Sallie L. Krawcheck, who ran Bank of America’s wealth management division before a management reshuffling last year.

[ ... ]

On Thursday, Ms. Krawcheck did not endorse any one strategy to resolve banks’ complexity, but she said the proposal to break up banks and the regulation known as the Volcker Rule were two possible “means to an end.” Altering executive compensation, she said, might also help.

Occupy Wall Street in NYC.
Our Occu-Versary is Here: Join Us This Weekend For #S17

After many months of tireless preparation, it is invigorating to be able to say that our #S17 anniversary weekend is finally here!

The website will contain all of the who’s, what’s where’s, why’s and when’s; text @S17NYC to 23559 for real time updates, and below we did our best to organize and synthesize the litany of actions and events that are in store.

Occupy Wall Street 1st Anniversary Convergence Guide

Click image to view full Occupy Wall Street 1st Anniversary Convergence Guide. For more information and event listings, see, here and/or here. To find livestream video and live on-the-grounds updates, follow follow @OccupyWallSt and @OWSTactical on Twitter, or use the hashtags #OWS, #S17, and #S17NYC.

Check out this image of NYPD arresting a veteran in yesterday's peaceful march.  There are more images of yesterday's march in the article below.
Occupy Wall Street protesters attempt to reignite their movement in New York
Americans should not be dismayed by protest images: Obama

US President Barack Obama urged Americans on Saturday not to be disheartened by images of anti-American violence in the Islamic world, expressing confidence that the ideals of freedom America stands for will ultimately prevail.

“I know the images on our televisions are disturbing,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “But let us never forget that for every angry mob, there are millions who yearn for the freedom, and dignity, and hope that our flag represents.”

US media angrily marvels at the lack of Muslim gratitude
NBC News, along with a leading US newspaper, insist that Egyptians should be grateful to the US for having 'freed' them

But it's also the case that such invasions produce extreme anger, as well: among the families of those killed by the invading forces, or who suffer from the resulting lawlessness and instability. Combine that with the fact that it was repeatedly noted that US involvement in Libya meant that anti-US extremists, including al-Qaida, were being armed and empowered by the US, it is far from mystifying, as Secretary Clinton insisted, that some people in Libya are deeply hostile to the US and want to do it harm.

In the same report, Engel also spent several moments explaining that the primary reason these Muslims have such animosity toward the US is because their heads have been filled for years with crazy conspiracy theories about how the US and Israel are responsible for their woes. These conspiracies, he said, were fed to them by their dictators to distract attention from their own corruption.

Let's leave aside the irony of the American media decrying crazy "conspiracy theories" in other countries, when it is the US that attacked another country based on nonexistent weapons and fabricated secret alliances with al-Qaida. One should acknowledge that there is some truth to Engel's claim that the region's tyrants fueled citizen rage toward the US and Israel as a means of distracting from their own failings and corruption.

[ ... ]

It doesn't take a propagandized populace to be angry at the US for such actions. It takes a propagandized populace to be shocked at that anger and to view it with bafflement and resentment on the ground that they should, instead, be grateful because we "freed" them.

Cenk Uygur: anti-Islam movie ‘weirdest movie scam of all time’

This, Uygur said, proved the film, which deeply denigrates the holy Islamic figure Muhammad, was a trick designed to entice, then insult Muslims.

“Was the motivation of this movie somewhat financial?” he asked rhetorically. “Apparently yes, in the weirdest movie scam of all time. But was it also apparently to provoke a confrontation? Apparently so.”

The film’s poster also contained a phone number charging $3.99 a minute, which Uygur said the show’s producer called with a pre-paid credit card, only to be told the card would be charged $119 to, essentially, get to leave a voicemail with comments about the film.

More innocent civilians dead in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan: Nato air strike 'kills eight women in Laghman'
At least eight women have died in a Nato air strike in Afghanistan's eastern province of Laghman, local officials say.

Nato has conceded that between five and eight civilians died as it targeted insurgents, and offered condolences.

[ ... ]

At least seven women were also reported to have been injured. Provincial health director Latif Qayumi said some of them injured were girls aged as young as 10.

The Laghman governor's office said a number of civilians had gone to the mountains to collect wood and nuts from a forest in the Noarlam Saib valley, a common practice in the area.

Blog Posts of Interest

US Sends Drones, Military, Intelligence Personnel to Libya, Amid Chaotic Time for New Democracy by David Dayen

DC transgender rights promotion underway by rserven

Conal Gallen The Builder and the Banksters


We are ready for some serious change. We are ready to take up the tools of a free and analytic press to peacefully undermine the stranglehold of the kleptocrats on our battered democracy. We are ready to expose and publicize their greed, lies and illegal machinations and hold their enablers in government and the media to account. Are you in?

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
 ~ Margaret Mead

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