propublica.org — Freddie Mac, the taxpayer-owned mortgage giant, made it harder for millions of Americans to refinance their high-interest-rate mortgages for fear it would cut into company profits, present and former Freddie Mac officials disclosed in recent interviews. In closed door meetings, two Republican-leaning board members and at least one executive resisted a mass refi policy for an additional reason, according to the interviews: They regarded it as a backdoor economic stimulus. Freddie's policy was financially brutal: During the worst years of the Great Recession, when homeowners most needed the savings they could have gotten from refinancing to lower interest rates, Freddie helped keep millions of borrowers locked in high-interest-rate mortgages.
guardian.co.uk — Gore Vidal, the recently demised American writer, once famously quipped that the US economic system is "free enterprise for the poor and socialism for the rich". Since the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2008, not only has the US lived up to Vidal's caricature but the whole of the rich capitalist world has become more "American". The poor are increasingly exposed to market forces, with tougher conditions on the diminishing state protection they get, while the rich have unprecedented levels of protection from the state, with virtually no strings attached.
alternet.org — Before the campaign contributors lavished billions of dollars on their favorite candidate; and long after they toast their winner or drink to forget their loser, Wall Street was already primed to continue its reign over the economy. For, after three debates (well, four), when it comes to banking, finance, and the ongoing subsidization of Wall Street, both presidential candidates and their parties’ attitudes toward the banking sector is similar – i.e. it must be preserved – as is – at all costs, rhetoric to the contrary, aside.Obama hasn’t brought ‘sweeping reform’ upon the Establishment Banks, nor does Romney need to exude deregulatory babble, because nothing structurally substantive has been done to harness the biggest banks of the financial sector, enabled, as they are, by entities from the SEC to the Fed to the Treasury Department to the White House.
Have you heard the one about the big-name financial services CEOs who last week released a letter to Congress and the president demanding they do whatever it takes to avoid the fiscal cliff?
I have no doubt the CEOs were sincere: The fiscal cliff is terrible policy and a ridiculous situation that should be avoided.
But the CEOs’ letter attempts to have it both ways. It demands that the cliff be prevented without the bank and insurance company leaders ever admitting that what they’re really lobbying for is a higher federal budget deficit next year.
We have Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to thank for this. more »
baselinescenario.com — It is common fare for people like me to point disapprovingly to the revolving door between business and government, which ensures that every Treasury Department is well stocked with representatives of Goldman Sachs. In 13 Bankers, the revolving door was one of the three major channels through which the financial sector influenced government policy, alongside campaign contributions and the ideology of finance. The counterargument comes in various forms: people like Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson are dedicated civil servants who wouldn’t favor their firms or their industries, the government needs people with appropriate industry experience, etc. It is certainly possible that industry experts provide valuable skills and experience to the government. But that value comes with a cost; put another way, it’s not just the public good that benefits
consortiumnews.com — America’s growth-inhibiting inequality is making it less able to compete, and less able to serve as an exemplar for others, in the global arena. Ideologically driven myopia, which mistakenly cherishes anything in the private sector status quo, even when it is destructive of free markets and vigorous competition, and disdains anything government does, even when it is necessary for economic growth and the fullest use of human capital, is needlessly weakening the relative as well as absolute position of the United States.
robertreich.org — President Obama should propose that the nation’s biggest banks be broken up and their size capped, and that the Glass-Steagall Act be resurrected. It’s good policy, and it would smoke out Mitt Romney as being of, by, and for Wall Street — and not on the side of average Americans. It would also remind America that five years ago Wall Street’s excesses almost ruined the economy. Bankers, hedge-fund managers, and private-equity traders speculated on the upside, then shorted on the downside — in a vast zero-sum game that resulted in the largest transfer of wealth from average Americans to financial elites ever witnessed in this nation’s history.
economix.blogs.nytimes.com — On Tuesday, Vikram S. Pandit announced his resignation as the chief executive of Citigroup. He will also leave its board. Joining him in departing the company immediately is John P. Havens, the chief operating officer, who was already scheduled to retire at the end of the year. Michael L. Corbat, the new chief executive, faces the prospect of running Citigroup without the huge government subsidies to which the company has become accustomed. He could make himself into a hero to shareholders by breaking Citigroup into smaller, simpler and more dynamic companies that would be easier to manage.
thenation.com — Mitt Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout has haunted him on the campaign trail, especially in Rust Belt states like Ohio. There, in September, the Obama campaign launched television ads blasting Romney’s November 2008 New York Times op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment. It all starts with Delphi Automotive, a former General Motors subsidiary whose auto parts remain essential to GM’s production lines.
feedproxy.google.com — In a move that brings the Romney camp precariously close to the location of the candidate's 47 percent blunder, the campaign is scheduled to rake in contributions at three invite-only fundraisers in Boca Raton, Florida. One of the hosts for these events is Marc Leder, the controversial private equity fund manager who gained notoriety in 2011 for a bacchanalian party he threw in the Hamptons. Leder held the $50,000-per-plate fundraiser at his Boca mansion in May where Romney delivered his "47 percent" rant. But he's not the only member of the host committee with baggage. The organizers of this big-dollar fundraising spree include Mike and Irene Milin, a husband-wife team who have made a career out of peddling get-rich-quick schemes that state attorneys general have blasted as "deceptive," "unconscionable," and "illegal."