As many as 98 banks, which took in a total of $4.2 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), may fail anyway, according to a study of third quarter earnings by the Wall Street Journal. Although the federal government originally promised to use TARP funds only to help healthy banks, the Wall Street Journal’s study tells a rather different tale. The banks in question are hamstrung by “eroding capital levels, a pileup of bad loans and warnings from regulators,” much of them stemming from risky commercial real estate loans gone sour.
Earlier this month the Recover Progress Report summarized, "As of December 1, $466.8 billion of the $787 billion stimulus has been committed to states; $333.8 billion has been paid out." The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009, has been largely forgotten, despite millions of taxpayers' dollars being consumed every day.
Despite being verbally abused and legislatively hamstrung ever since the start of the Obama administration, those CEOs arriving at the Blair House Wednesday for another Summit meeting with the President seemed in good spirits. In a pre-announcement, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, was all smiles: “[This] working session is an opportunity for the president to continue building strong partnerships in the business community.”
America is in the throes of economic hardship. Certain regions of the country, the once thriving Great Lakes Region, the greatest industrial area in the world, and energy-producing states, such as West Virginia and Louisiana, have been particularly hard hit.
"Greed, for a lack of a better word, is good. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit," says a disdainful Michael Douglas, in Oliver Stone's 1987 blockbuster movie Wall Street. This embellished train of propaganda is typical of populist bureaucrats and Hollywood socialites. All corporations are "evil, capitalist thugs" who rob the poor and exploit the middle class, they say. But omitted is the fact that these "evil, capitalist thugs" are the stimulators of job growth and contributors to economic prosperity.
Twenty-six-year-old Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the social networking website Facebook, has been selected as Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2010. Facebook, which began in 2003 as a small insider website at Harvard University where Zuckerberg was a student, has exploded over the past two years to become arguably the Internet’s most used address, with nearly 600 million individuals having Facebook accounts and projections for a billion members by 2012.
The Associated Press in London reports that Britain’s consumer inflation rose to 3.3 percent in November, up from 3.2 percent in October. The rising inflation is reportedly “driven by a surge in food and clothing costs.”
As part of the backroom deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for another two years, the GOP gave the progressives an extension of one of their favorite welfare-state building blocks: unemployment insurance — which will undoubtedly add to the long lines of suffering Americans in our country.
More and more people in affluent societies are turning to gold as a hedge against irresponsible government financial policies. It cannot make these people more comfortable that, in Europe, there has been discussion about trying to keep the teetering government financial systems stable — for awhile, in any event — by having the European Union issue “joint sovereign bonds.” Germany and France have rejected that approach, but if nations like Italy and Spain begin to unravel, then the pressure on France and especially Germany to help shore up neighboring financial systems will grow more insistent.
With all the attention being focused on extending the “Bush tax cuts,” granting additional unemployment benefits, and the arrival in Washington of newly minted congressional Representatives and Senators, a major piece of the fiscal puzzle has been ignored altogether: states’ increasingly pressured budgets for next year. As noted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), the Great Recession “has caused the steepest decline in state tax receipts on record.”
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s recent 60 Minutes interview raised more questions than it answered. Some even questioned the questions. Gary North explained that the Fed chair was being pushed to defend his decision to purchase more government securities in order to stimulate the economy. Interviewer Scott Pelley was at an admitted disadvantage, and failed to ask Bernanke exactly why he thought additional stimulating would work when past stimulations haven’t.