U.S. STANDS FIRM IN SUPPORT OF WALL STREET WHILE THE REST OF THE WORLD TAKES THE ECONOMIC CRISIS SERIOUSLY

MR. GEITNER, MR. SUMMERS AND OTHERS WHO ARE ON THE ECONOMIC TEAM DESERVE some CREDIT FOR BRINGING US BACK FROM AN ECONOMIC PRECIPICE THAT WOULD HAVE RESULTED IN A DEPRESSION FAR DEEPER AND LONGER THAN THE GREAT DEPRESSION. AND THEY SHOULD BE CUT SOME SLACK BECAUSE THEY WERE HANDED A PLATE ON WHICH THE ECONOMY WAS BASED LARGELY ON VAPOR — THE CONTRACTION OF WHICH WILL SPELL DISASTER IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE.
THAT SAID, THEY ARE GOING TOO FAR IN PROTECTING INVESTMENT BANKS AND DEPOSITORY BANKS FROM THEIR OWN STUPIDITY AND ENCOURAGING BEHAVIOR THAT THE TAXPAYERS WILL ABSORB — AT LEAST THEY THINK THE TAXPAYERS WILL DO IT.
As the following article demonstrates, the model currently used in this country and dozens of other countries  is “pay to play” — and if there is a crash it is the fees the banks paid over the years that bails them out instead of the taxpayers.
For reasons that I don’t think are very good, the economic team is marginalizing Volcker and headed down the same brainless path we were on when Bush was in office, which was only an expansion of what happened when Clinton was in office, which was a “me too” based upon Bush #1 and Reagan. The end result is no longer subject to conjecture — endless crashes, each worse than the one before.
The intransigence of Wall Street and the economic team toward any meaningful financial reform adds salt to the wound we created in the first palce. We were fortunate that the rest of the world did not view the economic meltdown as an act of war by the United States. They are inviting us to be part of the solution and we insist on being part of the problem.
Sooner or later, the world’s patience is going to wear thin. Has anyone actually digested the fact that there is buyer’s run on gold now? Does anyone care that the value of the dollar is going down which means that those countries, companies and individuals who keep their wealth in dollars are dumping those dollars in favor of diversifying into other units of storage?
The short-term “advantage” will be more than offset by the continuing joblessness and homelessness unless we take these things seriously. Culturally, we are looking increasingly barbaric to dozens of countries that take their role of protecting the common welfare seriously.

Bottom Line on these pages is that it shouldn’t be so hard to get a judge to realize that just because the would-be forecloser has a big expensive brand name doesn’t mean they are anything better than common thieves. But like all theft in this country, the bigger you are the more wiggle room you get when you rob the homeless or a bank or the government or the taxpayers. Marcy Kaptur is right. She calls for a change of “generals”  (likening Obama’s situation to Lincoln),  since their skills were perhaps valuable when Obama first tackled the economic crisis — but now are counterproductive. We need new generals on the economic team that will steer us clear from the NEXT crisis not the LAST crisis.

November 8, 2009

Britain and U.S. Clash at G-20 on Tax to Insure Against Crises

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — The United States and Britain voiced disagreement Saturday over a proposal that would impose a new tax on financial transactions to support future bank rescues.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, leading a meeting here of finance ministers from the Group of 20 rich and developing countries, said such a tax on banks should be considered as a way to take the burden off taxpayers during periods of financial crisis. His comments pre-empted the International Monetary Fund, which is set to present a range of options next spring to ensure financial stability.

But the proposal was met with little enthusiasm by the United States Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, who told Sky News in an interview that he would not support a tax on everyday financial transactions. Later he seemed to soften his position, saying it would be up to the I.M.F. to present a range of possible measures.

“We want to make sure that we don’t put the taxpayer in a position of having to absorb the costs of a crisis in the future,” Mr. Geithner said after the Sky News interview. “I’m sure the I.M.F. will come up with some proposals.”

The Russian finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, also said he was skeptical of such a tax. Similar fees had been proposed by Germany and France but rejected by Mr. Brown’s government in the past as too difficult to manage. But Mr. Brown is now suggesting “an insurance fee to reflect systemic risk or a resolution fund or contingent capital arrangements or a global financial transaction levy.”

Supporters of a tax had argued that it would reduce the volatility of markets; opponents said it would be too complex to enact across borders and could create huge imbalances. Mr. Brown said any such tax would have to be applied universally.

“It cannot be acceptable that the benefits of success in this sector are reaped by the few but the costs of its failure are borne by all of us,” Mr. Brown said at the summit. “There must be a better economic and social contract between financial institutions and the public based on trust and a just distribution of risks and rewards.”

At the meeting at the Scottish golf resort, the last to be hosted by Britain during its turn leading the group, the ministers agreed on a detailed timetable to achieve balanced economic growth and reiterated a pledge not to withdraw any economic stimulus until a recovery was certain.

They also committed to enact limits on bonuses and force banks to hold more cash reserves. But they failed to reach an agreement on how to finance a new climate change deal ahead of a crucial meeting in Copenhagen next month.

The finance ministers agreed that economic and financial conditions had improved but that the recovery was “uneven and remains dependent on policy support,” according to a statement released by the group. The weak condition of the economy was illustrated Friday by new data showing the unemployment rate in the United States rising to 10.2 percent in October, the highest level in 26 years.

The finance ministers also acknowledged that withdrawing stimulus packages required a balancing act to avoid stifling the economic recovery that has just begun.

“If we put the brakes on too quickly, we will weaken the economy and the financial system, unemployment will rise, more businesses will fail, budget deficits will rise, and the ultimate cost of the crisis will be greater,” Mr. Geithner said. “It is too early to start to lean against recovery.”

As part of the group’s global recovery plan, the United States would aim to increase its savings rate and reduce its trade deficit while countries like China and Germany would reduce their dependence on exports. Economic imbalances were widely faulted as helping to bring about the global economic downturn.

Mr. Geithner acknowledged on Saturday that the changes would take time but that “what we are seeing so far has been encouraging.”

One Response

  1. I don’t know why anyone would be surprised at Geithener’s position. After all, he’s one of the bankers and Wall Street jackasses that got us into this mess in the first place.

    One can only hope and pray that there will be a changing of the guard, but I’m afraid it’s more likely that I’d die from old age before Obama make a move to dismiss any of his hand picked appointees. One of which is our very own tax “forgetting” Timmy Geithner.

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