Monday, March 29, 2010

Half of Commercial Mortgages Expected to Be Underwater by End of 2010

This is a significant problem because commercial mortgages tend to roll over the entire principle. This practice of paying interest only on many commercial mortgages means underwater loans will be difficult to re-finance...
http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0329/tarp-watchdog-commercial-real-estate-mortgages-sinking-quickly/

On Plutonomy and Savings

Naked Capitalilsm's Yves Smith examines the macro economic impact of the plutonomy. The plutonomy was coined and described in a Citigroup document that acclaimed the increasing inequality and structural deterioration of democracy in America.
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/03/high-income-disparity-leads-to-low-savings-rates.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NakedCapitalism+%28naked+capitalism%29

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Goldman Sach's Hu to Join China's Central Bank

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/goldman-sachs-hu-may-join-china-central-bank-2010-03-25

Goldman Sach's takes over the world...

Read the article and the comments....

Leaked CIA Report: Apathy Enables War

Washington's Blog Reports:
http://georgewashington2.blogspot.com/2010/03/leaked-cia-report-public-apathy-enables.html

"A leaked CIA report says:

'Public apathy enables leaders to ignore voters.'

The report is discussing apathy among the French and German people to their countries' involvement in the war in Afghanistan, but the same is true to the apathy of Americans towards the Iraq and other wars as well..."

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Fairy Tale Part 1

Once upon a time there was a strange world. In this world people believed in liberty and equality even though their leadership and institutions were based in, and extended, oligarchy.

A terrible plague afflicted this strange world and the population was offered as sacrifice by the oligarchy. The populace was lowered into a massive well built of its past labor. The biovitalities of this population were to be sucked slowly by the demon that had afflicted the terrible plague that would allow the oligarchy to succumb to its desires.

In the matrix of this well were shadow institutions that echoed the foundations of the population's prior world. The shadow institutions barely echoed the calls of liberty and equality. Instead, the shadow institutions amplified the suffering and indignities of the prior world. The living, albeit entombed, populace became confused by these shadow institutions and had trouble recalling receeding conditions.

In one of these shadow institutions in the well was a teacher. She had a good memory trained by recalling information to educate students in the now receding, strange world. She remembered that in the strange world the ideals of liberty and equality held back the power of those who would sacrifice the population to the demon. She remembered. She could not speak directly to her students for fear that she wake the demon. She could not speak directly to her acquaintances for fear she would be labeled mad...

Part 2 cont.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Unemployment, Militarism, Censorship

Paul Craig Roberts' excellent column
http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts03242010.html

Roberts writes:
"With over 21 per cent unemployment as measured by the methodology of 1980, with American jobs, GDP, and technology having been given to China and India, with war being Washington’s greatest commitment, with the dollar over-burdened with debt, with civil liberty sacrificed to the “war on terror,” the liberty and prosperity of the American people have been thrown into the trash bin of history.

"The militarism of the U.S. and Israeli states, and Wall Street and corporate greed, will now run their course. As the pen is censored and its might extinguished, I am signing off. "

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oil Politics

Latin American governments are giving private oil and mining companies extractive contracts for land that is titled to indigenous groups and/or environmentally protected.
http://www.lapress.org/articles.asp?art=6081

Indigenous groups are deeply unhappy by the raping and pillaging of their land...

Middle Class

U.S. News and World Reports has a brief but good summary of the challenges facing the middle class.
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/7-Stressors-Sapping-the-usnews-2236123833.html?x=0
These challenges include:
Declining Income
Reduced Savings/Net Worth
High Health Care Costs
High Childcare and/or Elder Care Costs
High College Costs
High Housing Costs

Unfortunately, the article undermines itself by citing "false expectations" as a problem also. The article argues that the attitude that effort is not enough to succeed is false. But then the article concludes that those "who work harder" will succeed.

The article trips up on the real issue facing America--declining social mobility due to structurally embedded loss of opportunity.

Credit Writedowns gets this problem, which is described in this post about structural declines in job opportunities
http://www.creditwritedowns.com/2010/03/where-will-all-the-new-jobs-come-from.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+creditwritedowns+%28Credit+Writedowns%29

I find it very problematic for news outlets such as US News and World Report to gloss over this fundamental problem that must be addressed by policy or the middle class in America will largely disappear...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Social Austerity?

Arizona Drops Children's Health Care. It also drops many receiving the state's healthcare system for poor populations. Thousands of jobs are expected to be lost.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/health/policy/19arizona.html?utm_campaign=Feed: creditwritedownsnews %28Credit Writedowns&%2339; News Feed%29=&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=feedburner&pagewanted=print

Arizona is also raising college tuition to approximately $8,000 a year, effectively reducing class mobility among working class populations.

California, Michigan, New Jersey, Florida, and Nevada are pursuing similar policies.

We are allowing the nation's educational and health infrastructures to be decimated.

Small businesses cannot get credit and are failing. Small business owners do not get unemployment benefits.

The public must demand that the federal government re-prioritize spending away from bank bailouts, large corporate subsidies, and defense spending TO education spending, spending on health and welfare, and programs to assist small and medium sized businesses that help the U.S. economy. NOW!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Statistics are interesting and help establish relationships among diverse phenomena, such as between parental income and a child's likelihood to go to college. So, statistics have value. However, the social and natural sciences have come to revere statistics as an a oracle, a truth telling device.

All other modes of inquiry are denigrated in comparison to the "truth" (however contingent) revealed by statistics.

Consequently, research inquiry that fails to adopt statistics is rejected.

I enjoyed learning statistics but often found problematic the research models that were required to be adopted in order to use statistics to study social interaction.

I was, frankly, appalled when I learned about how statistics were being used by behavioral geneticists to explain human behavior in terms of gene alleles.

The following link clearly outlines some of the problems inherent in this blind faith in statistical analysis
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/57091/title/Odds_Are,_Its_Wrong

Monday, March 15, 2010

Is the US Planning on Attacking Iran, Soon?

http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/

I cannot believe this could be true. I am sick

Fantasy Genre Reigns...

I just returned from Alice in Wonderland. I loved it!

While watching the previews before the film began, I was struck once again by the fact that so many films aimed at kids and popular audiences are of the fantasy genre. Most of these films are set in a far distant past, unlike Harry Potter.

Why? I believe it signals the close of the myth of progress, achieved through technology. The public no longer views a high-tech, planet-hopping future as plausible. The dystopian fantasies of Bladerunner and Total Recall have given way to a simplistic genre that rejects all technological innovations in favor of magic and feudal-type kings and queens.

The only science fiction films I have seen in the last few years--the Moon and some now nameless film that featured a forbidden planet--featured out of control corporate power.

I find this escape to fantasy to be dangerous, however seductive, because it offers an escape that is drains the user/consumer of the vitality to attend to present concerns and challenges...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Credit Default Swaps are Fraud!

Have questions about credit default swaps? Wonder what "naked" credit default swaps are? See Max Keiser report #24
http://maxkeiser.com/

Credit default swaps are purportedly a kind of insurance sold on financial products. However, unlike regulated insurance, the companies selling credit default swaps do not have reserves to back up these supposed insurance contracts.

Naked default swaps are credit default swaps sold people by people who do not own them!

The European Union is attempting to regulate credit default swaps (as reported in today's WSJ); however, US financial institutions are up in arms about proposed regulations. Sick.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another 9-11 Article But It is Worth the Read!!!

http://markcrispinmiller.com/

Apparently Jesse Ventura had an article at Huffington Post on this subject but it was taken down. Mark Cripin Miller has the original article and it is a must read. Here is an excerpt:

"You didn’t see anything about it in the mainstream media, but two weeks ago at a conference in San Francisco, more than one thousand architects and engineers signed a petition demanding that Congress begin a new investigation into the destruction of the three World Trade Center skyscrapers on 9/11.

"That’s right, these people put their reputations in potential jeopardy – because they don’t buy the government’s version of events. They want to know how 200,000 tons of steel disintegrated and fell to the ground in 11 seconds. They question whether the hijacked planes were responsible – or whether it could have been a controlled demolition from inside that brought down the Twin Towers and Building 7....


check it out...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Was 9-11 an "Inside Job"?

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=18006

Excellent and provocative article by Washington's blog, one of my favorite blogs, posted at Global Research....

New Book Debunks Genetic Determinism

http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/where_does_genius_come_from_20100308/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Truthdig+Truthdig%3A+Drilling+Beneath+the+Headlines

My 3 books all deconstruct genetic determinism. However, my books are not very accessible to the wider public. That is the problem with alot of academic analyses. They tend to be too boringly technical for everyday readers. However, the link above reviews a book by David Shenk that offers an accessible critique of genetic accounts of identity, IQ, etc. Hurray!!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

U.S. Locked in Doomsday Cycle Due to Lack of Reform and Moral Hazzard by Banks

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/03/03-0

by Matthew Jaffe

"Even as many Americans still struggle to recover from the country's worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, another crisis -- one that will be even worse than the current one -- is looming, according to a new report from a group of leading economists, financiers, and former federal regulators...."

"The report warns that the country is now immersed in a 'doomsday cycle' wherein banks use borrowed money to take massive risks in an attempt to pay big dividends to shareholders and big bonuses to management -- and when the risks go wrong, the banks receive taxpayer bailouts from the government.

"'Risk-taking at banks,' the report cautions, 'will soon be larger than ever.'"

"Without more stringent reforms, aanother crisis -- a bigger crisis that weakens both our financial sector and our larger economy -- is more than predictable, it is inevitable,' Johnson says in the report, commissioned by the nonpartisan Roosevelt Institute."

Chris Hedges Discusses How Capitalism Run Amok Threatens Humanity

http://rawstory.com/2010/03/capitalism-love-story-exclusive-clip/

Friday, March 5, 2010

100% of U.S. Fish Found in Streams Contaminated

http://www.naturalnews.com/028284_fish_mercury.html

Main contaminants included mercury and lead.

Put this headline together with the recent article on environmental causes of autism:

Landrigan, Philip J. What causes autism? Exploring the environmental contribution. Current Opinion in Pediatrics: 16 January 2010.

A review of the Landrigan's essay is available here by Steven Higgs:
http://www.counterpunch.org/higgs03042010.html

I believe we are poisoning ourselves by allowing the world's fresh water to be polluted by heavy metals...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Unemployment Insurance Produces Lazy Workers--NOT!!!!!!

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2010/03/nassau-bunning-kyl-and-the-poor-laws.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EconomistsView+%28Economist%27s+View+%28EconomistsView%29%29

The idea recently voiced by Arizona's Kyle that unemployment insurance keeps workers from looking for jobs is outrageous!

I find it sickening that wealthy elitist elected officials who "earn" money from lobbyists and other kinds of corporate bribery have the audacity to make such comments.

Federal Tax Withholdings Plunge to Multi Year Low

http://www.zerohedge.com/article/february-2010-federal-tax-withholdings-plunge-multiyear-low#comments

Zero hedge has a disturbing graph of February's collapse in federal tax withholdings.

Could the snow storm on the east coast explain this collapse?

There is a lot of volatility from month to month so hopefully February's collapse does not signal the beginning of a new trend...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Links

The Struggle of and for the Middle Class
http://www.mybudget360.com/the-financial-battle-for-the-middle-class-%e2%80%93-underemployment-at-20-percent-38-million-americans-on-food-stamps-and-little-hiring-can-it-be-a-recovery-with-no-jobs-for-this-long/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+mybudget360%2FQePx+%28My+Budget+360%29

Winter Mind Games and Health Care Debacles
http://kunstler.com/blog/2010/03/winter-mind-games.html

Sovereign Default

http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=8322

A number of economists have been warning recently of possible sovereign debt default because of growing deficits.

Here is a link for a post that argues convincingly that only nations whose debt is denominated in foreign currencies are likely to default.

The article argues that no nation with a fiat currency (not backed by gold) has ever defaulted on its debt for economic reasons when that debt has been denominated in its own currency (because the nation can simply print more money).

The sovereign defaults of developing nations that have occurred since WWII primarily did so because they were forced to borrow money (e.g., from the IMF or World Bank) in foreign currency.

This type of situation is part of what ails Eastern European home borrowers whose mortgages were denominated in foreign currency (e.g., Euros). When capital flight hit Hungary, for example, the value of Hungarian currency declined relative to the Euro. So, borrowers in Hungary had to pay more of their local currency to repay debt denominated in Euros.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

The primary reason this entire discussion matters is because many countries, including the US, are being pushed by deficit hawks to enact "austerity" measures. Austerity almost always translates into reduced social-welfare benefits, such as health and education spending. For some reason, military spending is never targeted in austerity measures....

So, the idea that the US needs to chop social spending in order to reduce deficits is based on false assumptions. Cutting military spending, on the other hand, sounds like a good idea....