A triumphant and triumphalist President Obama signed the financial overhaul bill into law July 21, promising as he did that “the American people will never be asked again to foot the bill for Wall Street's mistakes.”
The unremitting flow of negative news about the economy has finally caught the attention of the mainstream media, causing an increasing number of economists to make comparisons between today’s recession and the Great Depression.
Czarist Russia is looking better and better. Once a byword for bureaucratic absolutism, the apparatchiks of pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg and their endless rule-making seem positively enlightened beside some of the pieces of aptly named omnibus legislation emanating from Capitol Hill these days. The newly passed Dodd-Frank Financial Regulation Bill may be the worst yet. At 2,315 pages and 390,000 words, the bill is half the size of the entire King James Bible. It stretches credulity to believe that America’s political leaders now enact single pieces of legislation many times the size of the entire Mosaic code. But they do.
The economy has gained either 2.5 million jobs or 3.6 million jobs since the Recovery Act was signed into law in January, 2009, depending upon which statistical “model” is used, according to Christina Romer, Chair of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers. When compared to the report issued earlier this month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, neither number is even close.
Central bankers and analysts are warning of another credit crisis just around the corner as banks start competing with governments to refinance trillions of dollars in short-term debts coming due soon, resulting in significantly reduced credit availability for businesses and consumers, among other problems.
The Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is wreaking havoc on hundreds of small banks that took bailout money, according to a new report issued by the Congressional Oversight Panel. The COP oversees the $700 billion in bailout funds.
On Thursday, October 24, 1907, Wall Street was in turmoil. Crowds of spectators gathered to watch panicked bankers and their lackeys rushing about, desperately trying to halt the financial hemorrhaging of what would be known in the history books as the Panic of 1907. Outside one troubled bank, the Trust Company of America — where J. P. Morgan himself worked frantically behind the scenes to keep the institution solvent — long lines of angry depositors waited, hands jammed in pockets in the chill autumn air, to retrieve their deposited monies. No one knew whether the beleaguered bank, which Morgan had declared to be “the place to stop the trouble,” would have enough funds to survive the run.
The final version of the financial reform bill that has become a central component of President Obama’s New Deal-esque program to enormously enlarge the powers of the federal government is on the brink of passage by the Senate.
Years of big spending by politicians at all levels have left the nation vulnerable to economic turmoil. While at the federal level this is masked to a degree by manipulation and inflation of the money supply, among other factors, local and state governments have no such luxury, and many are struggling to find ways to pay increasingly high expenses. Increasingly, the onus is falling on taxpayers in the form of increased and burdensome taxes, and on public-sector employees who face reductions in benefits, and possibly layoffs.
“I smell a rat,” says Robert Wenzel, editor and publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com.
The rodent whose odor Wenzel detects is the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which just issued a pair of reports assessing the U.S. economy and its financial sector. The Washington Post lists the major recommendations of the reports: “Cut Social Security. Ditch the deduction for interest on home mortgages. Tax gasoline.”
The rich as well as the poor are losing their homes to foreclosures. That fact helps demonstrate the vast silliness of the federal government helping those low-income Americans who are not creditworthy to get home loans. The poor and middle class in America have long had the ability to save up for a modest down payment and then to make equally modest mortgage payments. Older Americans, many of whom purchased three-bedroom, one-bath homes in pleasant but unassuming neighborhoods, have enjoyed all the benefits of homeownership without the federal government demanding that the rules of financial soundness be met.