After President George W. Bush asked guests at a Republican fundraiser to turn off their cameras — which at least one person failed to do — he proceeded to blame Wall Street for the current financial and housing troubles: “Wall Street got drunk.... It got drunk and now it’s got a hangover. The question is how long will it [take to] sober up. And then we have the housing issue.”
As of Tuesday, July 15, crowds outside branches of the failed California bank IndyMac were getting ugly. On the second business day after federal agents seized control of bank assets and promised orderly restitution of FDIC-insured funds to IndyMac customers, large numbers of shocked depositors still had not been reimbursed. Those who had more than the FDIC-guaranteed $100,000 in IndyMac accounts were still awaiting word as to what portion of their life savings they could expect to see again.
In June 2000 global-warming prophesier Ross Gelbspan lamented, “Over the last seven years, the fossil-fuel lobby has mounted an extremely effective campaign of disinformation to persuade the public and policymakers that the issue of atmospheric warming is still stuck in the limbo of scientific uncertainty. That campaign for the longest time targeted the science. It then misrepresented the economics. And most recently it attacked the diplomatic foundations of the climate convention. And it has been extraordinarily successful in creating a relentless drumbeat of doubt in the public mind.”
On Thursday, July 10, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services. The backdrop for the committee meeting, of course, is the ongoing turmoil in U.S. and global financial markets, highlighted by the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented intervention to prevent the failure of giant investment bank Bear Stearns, and more recent worries that the two government-sponsored mortgage lending companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in danger of implosion.
Will we be seeing $10-$12/gallon gasoline and a lot more body bags before the end of the year? That depends on the answers to a couple other important questions, such as: will the Bush-Cheney war hawks launch a war against Iran before the November elections, as they have been aching to do for the past several years? Or will they encourage/sanction an attack on Iran by Israel that will end up drawing us into the fray? Either way, we certainly seem to be headed needlessly on that disastrous collision course.