When the Federal Reserve announced on March 19 its latest offensive against the financial crisis — to purchase more than $1 trillion in government debt ranging from mortgage-backed securities to long-term Treasury bonds — Wall Street, the financial media, and the political classes had a conniption. Even the most diehard defenders of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his monetary policies were aghast: surely this latest move would unleash long-latent inflationary forces that would cripple any prospects for a robust recovery. Even the New York Times made note of the danger, worrying that "the Fed was taking risks that could dilute the value of the dollar and set the stage for future inflation." The Times pointed as evidence to the sharp rise in gold prices and a drop in the dollar's value against both the yen and the euro that followed the Fed's announcement.
In a move heralding the Obama administration’s most aggressive intervention in the business sector to date, the federal government has forced GM CEO Rick Wagoner to step down. The change in leadership was announced by GM in a statement released in Wagoner’s name on Monday. In it, the former CEO said the government asked him to leave. “On Friday I was in Washington for a meeting with administration officials,” Wagoner begins. “In the course of that meeting, they requested that I ‘step aside’ as CEO of GM, and so I have.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has given a nod of approval to China’s call for a global currency to replace the dollar, joining a chorus of international voices that include Russia, a United Nations panel, billionaire investor George Soros, and Kazakhstan — among others. Geithner’s remarks favoring the China proposal, delivered at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on March 25, surprised many, as the previous day both he and President Obama gave statements disapproving of any move away from the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
It’s official: the Obama administration intends to nationalize the entire financial sector. If there were any lingering doubts as to the intentions of President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, they were dispelled by today’s announcement detailing the Treasury Department’s new “framework for regulatory reform.”
President Barack Obama is in the middle of his national tour to convince the American public that “we’re doing everything we can to reduce that deficit.” President Obama has been on The Tonight Show, 60 Minutes, held town meetings in California and conducted the March 24 prime-time press conference on the economy. The problem is, he revealed in that March 24 press conference, that “everything” now means the same as “nothing.”
The American people are understandably outraged to learn that the American International Group (AIG), a corporate giant that has received almost $200 billion in total TARP/TALF funding, has recently paid $165 million in retention bonuses to its top executives. The fact that these payments were made to fulfill already-existing contractual obligations and that most of the recipients have reportedly indicated a willingness to return the money has not done much to quell the public anger. After all, a company in such dire financial straits to require vast infusions of federal bailout funds should not be giving its employees millions of dollars in bonuses, period.
The Obama administration’s long-awaited proposal to remove so-called “toxic” mortgage-backed assets from U.S. banks has finally been unveiled, to huzzahs across the globe. Stocks from Tokyo to New York rallied as investors expressed relief that finally, somehow, the U.S. government was going to take care of the problem. But just what does Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner intend to do, precisely?
Newspapers are fixated upon $160 million in bonuses given to American International Group (AIG) executives. And it’s nice to know where the millions are going (note: the bonuses could have been cancelled had the federal government let the company go bankrupt, as officials should have). But where are the trillions in TARP, TALC and Federal Reserve Bank bailout funds going?
On February 4, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (H.R. 875) in the House. Its stated objective sounds rather benign — even beneficial: "To establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes."
According to a new report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the deficits to be generated over the next 10 years by the Obama administration's proposed budget will be much higher than the administration's estimates — unsustainably high, in fact. The CBO foresees an additional $9.3 trillion in red ink per year from 2010 to 2019, which by decade's end would exceed five percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). According to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), "We simply cannot continue to mortgage our children and grandchildren's future to pay for bigger and more costly government."
A United Nations panel is about to recommend that the world abandon the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, according to a Reuters report. Next week, the UN will propose that the dollar be replaced with a “shared basket of currencies” similar to the old Ecu (European Currency Unit) of the former European Community (the predecessor to the European Union), which was replaced at parity by the euro in 1999. According to Avinash Persaud, a member of the UN panel, now “is a good moment to move to a shared reserve currency."