Archive for April, 2010

Extremely important point on SEC porn-surfing

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Quite properly, people are outraged that surfing the Internet for porn was such a major activity at the Securities & Exchange Commission during 2007-8, just when the economy was collapsing.

Forbes:

The female accountant tried to access online pornography from her office laptop nearly 1,800 times in two weeks, CNN reports. She also had 600 sexually explicit images saved on her hard drive.

But the really important question is:

But it is not just that the problem was born and matured under Bush and Cox, it is the fact that it is symptomatic for the emasculation and gutting of the SEC which occurred at their hands and express direction. It was not a bug, but a feature.

In other words, did people working at the SEC really have anything better to do, or were they so bored and distracted in their powerless state under the Bush Administration that they simply had nothing better to fill their days with?

“Deficit Reduction Blindness”

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Refers to a syndrome whereas someone wishes devoutly to reduce the deficit, but is blind to the very real pain that would cause to real, live, human beings. The NY Times has writers who are susceptible to this dread disease. For some odd reason, afflicted reporters are unable to see or comprehend that the just-passed Affordable Care Act reduces the deficit. They all consider it as something that increases indebtedness. Very strange disease.

This is one of the first pieces in the series of the Campaign for America’s Future “Virtual Summit on Fiscal and Economic Responsibility for People Who Did Not Wreck the Economy.” The idea is to counter billionaire deficit scold Pete Peterson and his enablers and their “Fiscal Summit” on April 28.

Update: Tax information sheet.  No, the tea partier’s charge that taxes have gone up under Obama are simply not true. The average citizen is actually paying less than under the last guy.

Hmm, which to choose?

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Let’s see, we can go for billionaire deficit scold Pete Peterson’s solutions to the Federal deficit and reduce grampa and grandma to eating cat-food in a four-story walkup with broken windows or maybe, perhaps, we can engage in some common sense and humanity and try out these 10 ways to get the rich to pay their fair share. Hmm, what to do? What to do?

BTW, Dean Baker is getting together with Campaign for America’s Future to counter Pete Peterson’s heavily hyped “2010 Fiscal Summit.” Please email Bill Scher here to sign up to participate.

Graph using data from National Priorities

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Using data from the National Priorities website, I checked the total military equipment and personnel outlays that come from Pennsylvania’s taxes from 2001 to 2007.

Chart showing expense of wars as specific to PA

chart

Heh! And y’all thought Republicans could be trusted with taxpayer money?  Note that the proportion of those taxes going to the military rises from about 7% to almost 11%.

Early warning on housing bubble

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Michael Burry saw the housing bubble forming as early as 2003 and became very concerned about it in 2005. He bought up lots and lots of credit-default swaps and bet that the market would collapse, well, just about the time that it did collapse. He made lots and lots of money off of his foresight, but regrets that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was so completely oblivious to the growing bubble.

Very interestingly, he points out that “the F.B.I. reported that its mortgage fraud caseload increased fivefold from 2001 to 2004.” Seems to me that should have set off major alarm bells in the upper reaches of the financial sector. Unfortunately, Paul Krugman is precisely correct in saying that Senator Chris Dodds’ (D-CT) proposed financial regulatory reform bill is far too dependent upon regulators being sensible. The housing bubble very clearly showed a real lack of sensible thinking on the part of those very same regulators (And yes, Krugman was one of those who saw the housing bubble many years before it burst). Krugman also tells us why Greenspan never saw the bubble:

Greenspan’s whole defense now is that nobody saw it. But there were an awful lot of nobodies — Dean Baker, Bob Shiller, Calculated Risk, and yes, yours truly. What’s probably true is that nobody Greenspan talked to regularly saw it. And you know why? Because Greenspan insulated himself from people who told him what he didn’t want to hear.