Gayle in MD
09-10-2010, 10:34 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">As top Federal Reserve officials debated whether there was a housing bubble and what to do about it, then-Chairman Alan Greenspan argued that dissent should be kept secret so that the Fed wouldn't lose control of the debate to people less well-informed than themselves.
"We run the risk, by laying out the pros and cons of a particular argument, of inducing people to join in on the debate, and in this regard it is possible to lose control of a process that only we fully understand," Greenspan said, according to the transcripts of a<span style='font-size: 14pt'> March 2004 meeting.</span>
At the same meeting, a Federal Reserve bank president from Atlanta, Jack Guynn, warned that "a number of folks are expressing growing concern about potential overbuilding and worrisome speculation in the real estate markets, especially in Florida. Entire condo projects and upscale residential lots are being pre-sold before any construction, with buyers freely admitting that they have no intention of occupying the units or building on the land but rather are counting on 'flipping' the properties--selling them quickly at higher prices."
See the sheep didn't understand at the time that that was totally the plan, little Greenspanstintstilskin didn't even realize just how good the plan was. To them, that is. Obviously it hasn't worked out in the long run but that's because the world they know functions along the stable linear lines of books they've read or papers they've written (sometimes for pay) and not like it actually works out. Don't tell them that, they'll get pissed off that you had the audacity to imply you - a commoner - know better.
Shhhh. Way to keep that under wraps, AG.
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Alan Greenspan Admits America Is A Crony Capitalist System
Excellent, brief summary of where we stand now, by Tyler at Zero Hedge.
Alan Greenspan Admits America Is A Crony Capitalist System
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
We are not sure what is more amusing: the Masetro’s unwitting (and quite correct) observation that America is now nothing but a crony capitalist country, or his attempt to back out of what he said that so perfectly captures the essence of the failed corporatocracy currently raging in America.
In the following exchange from a DemocracyNow interview, Greenspan is forced to respond to his quote from Age Of Turbulence on the definition of crony capitalism: "When a government’s leaders or businesses routinely seek out private sector individuals or business, and in exchange for political support bestow favors on them, the society is said to be in the grip of crony capitalism. The favors generally take the form of monopoly access to certain markets, preferred access to sales of government assets, and special access to those in power."
Greenspan’s pathetic excuse is that while crony capitalism is a "dominant force" in some other regimes, it is "not the dominant force in this country." Perhaps all those who are fighting with the virtual monopoly granted to certain players, such as Goldman in fixed income trading, and Pimco in government bonds, would beg to differ. So yes, according to the Greenspan definition America is now nothing more than a crony capitalist society, which will only get worse as more and more power is granted to those who are believed to be able to ramp various asset classes, and thus the market in general, higher, because as Greenspan himself pointed out recently, nothing is as important a "driver" to the economy as the stock market: "if the stock market continues higher it will do more to stimulate the economy than any other measure we have discussed here". In the administration’s pursuit of Dow 36,000 to prove that all is well, America has given up on its core constitutional tenets, and is now nothing better than a dictatorial regime in some far-eastern backwater country.
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Friday, September 3, 2010The Prosecution’s Case Against Alan Greenspan
Should Alan Greenspan, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board (1987–2006), be tried for Crimes Against the Economy, put up against a concrete wall, handed a cigarette, offered a red blindfold, and then executed by firing squad?
“What, me worry?”
Yes—absolutely. No question. (And this coming from an anti-death penalty, anti-abortion Catholic.) Herewith, the case for the prosecution.
There are four main charges against the so-called “Maestro”:
One—Irresponsible Market Liquidity, Which Created Rampant Moral Hazard:
The Accused was instrumental in creating the pernicious policy mentality of “providing markets with necessary liquidity”—essentially, throwing money at every problem.
This first started within days of Greenspan’s assuming the role of American central banker: The frenzy that caused the stock market crash of October 1987 was doused by Greenspan’s pledge to provide “all necessary liquidity, should the need arise”. This instantly soothed the markets as surely as a hit soothes a heroin junkie—within a few months, it was as if the panic had never happened.
After that, and throughout his tenure and that of his successor, Greenspan applied the same remedy, time after time, to every single problem. He became the living embodiment of that old saw: “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”. Or maybe Curtis Mayfield’s famous refrain would be more apropos: “I'm your pusher-man”.
This addiction to market liquidity reached a peak with the Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) fiasco of the Fall of ‘98. LTCM made a series of bad bets that went sour due to the Russian Crisis—therefore, to pay off its losses, LTCM would have to stage a fire-sale to come up with the cash. To avoid this disorderly unwind and subsequent fire-sale—which would have led to an across-the-board run on LTCM’s counterparties, and eventually a wholesale market panic—the Fed under Greenspan organized LTCM’s counterparties, and effectively underwrote the firm’s break-up, providing essentially a bridge loan to finance the whole mess.
Whether LTCM should have been bailed out by the Fed in order to effect an orderly unwind is debatable. Some believe that LTCM had to be bailed out, others believe it should have been allowed to fail, and let the chips fall where they may.
What is not debatable, however, is that, as a direct result of LTCM, two things happened: One, every Wall Street firm realized that, if they were ever hard-up for cash, Easy Al would come through with liquidity—which meant effectively that firms could begin figuring out ways to leverage themselves even more, in the pursuit of profits. They were one and all confident that Uncle Al would bail them out with liquidity, if they ever got into any real trouble.
The other thing that happened was what didn’t happen. Once the bail-out and liquidation of LTCM was carried out, Greenspan failed to learn the obvious lesson from the experience: Sophisticated financial products created under his chairmanship had directly led to the collapse of the firm, and put at risk the entire U.S. financial markets.
If brainiacs like Merton and Scholes, with killer-traders like John Meriwether at the wheel, could drive LTCM off a cliff, what about the hoi polloi of Wall Street, strapping the same financial weapons of mass destruction as Merton, Scholes & Meriwether had been wielding? What kind of trouble could they get themselves into, with all of these fabulous “innovations”?
Did Greenspan put a stop to such suicidally risky practices after LTCM?
In a word: No. Which leads directly to the second charge—
Two—The Fed’s Do-Not-Touch-the Financial-Services-Sector Policy:
The Accused was instrumental in creating a Do-Not-Touch attitude towards the banks, both investment and commercial—which of course led the financial sector to pursue incredibly stupid products and strategies: All in the name of “maintaining financial markets’ ability to innovate”. These “innovations” were directly to blame for the Global Financial Crisis, as they created unsustainable liabilities which sooner or later would lead to system-wide collapse. As what happened.
LTCM was the canary-in-the-coal-mine: What occurred in 2007–‘08, and the virtual freezing of the financial markets on September 18, 2008, was a direct result of the Fed’s failure to regulate the financial markets. It’s what happened when the aforementioned hoi polloi on Wall Street did more or less what Merton, Scholes & Meriwether had done—only magnified.
Not only that, in this urge to “innovate”, Greenspan was key in having the Glass-Steagall Act repealed in 1999. This allowed commercial lenders to act as investment banks.
The timing of this repeal has to be emphasized: This was just over a year after the LTCM fiasco. Effectively, repealing Glass-Steagall meant that commercial banks could build their own LTCM’s right in the comfort of their own back yards. Yet here was Greenspan, egging on the repeal of the Act.
There was a reason why Glass-Steagall existed: Precisely so as to prevent large commercial banks from using their assets to become gigantic LTCM’s.
But Alan Greenspan—knowing full well the history of Glass-Steagall, and ignoring the object lesson of the LTCM debacle of a mere fourteen months earlier—ushered in the era of commercial banks as hedge funds with a smile: Or in other words, he was the midwife of the monsters now known to us all as the Too Big To Fail banks.
All in the name of “financial innovation”. I'm sure Dr. Victor Frankenstein said something similar, back in his day.
Three—Subsidized Money, Which Radically Distorted The Economy:
This is probably the biggest crime Alan Greenspan committed as Federal Reserve Chairman: The so-called “Greenspan Put”.
For the twenty years of his tenure, the Accused—supposedly an avowed free marketeer—subsidized the cost of money. Rather than let the Fed funds rate more or less mirror what banks were lending among themselves, and tighten interest rates when the economy overheated (as his predecessors had done), Greenspan instead goosed the markets: His “targeted” Fed funds rate was forever undercutting what the financial markets were dictating, as to the true price of money.
What happenes when a good—any good, including money—is subsidized? Simple: It creates market distortions. And the higher the subsidy, the greater the distortive effect.
The market distortions Greenspan’s monetary policies created led to one asset bubble after the other—each of which was bound to pop, as they eventually did. Each of which was worse than the last, which they were: Equities, dot-coms, tech, real-estate—they all ballooned, then they all popped. The latest bubble—which I have argued is the Final Bubble—are of course Treasury bonds.
The reason these bubbles popped was that the “market innovations” previously discussed, combined with Greenspan’s guarantee of liquidity, as well as the subsidized money, led to an unprecedented expansion of credit through various non-regulated, over-the-counter products, such as Mortgage Backed Securities and other Collateralized Debt Obligations.
This is why there was such a severe distortion in asset prices in the American economy starting in 1987: Rampant credit creation, a product of the Greenspan Put. It was not supply-and-demand that led assets to accrue value exponentially and seemingly without reason: It was the unregulated, uncontrolled expansion of credit, brought about by the cheap, subsidized money Greenspan was pumping out into the economy.
Furthermore, the Accused was aware of the serial bubbles blistering through the U.S. economy, and in fact warned against these bubbles—and yet did nothing, even though he had the power as Fed Chairman to stop them.
Who can forget that famous line: Irrational exuberance. Nobody can—it’s simply too memorable, too on-the-money. However, everyone seems to forget when Greenspan uttered that famous line: December 5, 1996.
Before all the bubbles—that’s when Greenspan said those famous words. He anticipated the bubbles—yet allowed them to percolate, and then pop.
This regime of subsidized money not only created the various bubbles—dot-com, tech, real-estate—which finally burst in September 2008 with the Global Financial Crisis. This regime has created the condition for the final bubble—the bubble in U.S. Treasury bonds.
The subsidy in money that Greenspan created allowed the U.S. Federal government to go into more debt than it can possibly repay in real terms. It allowed the Federal government to go into much more debt than it would have been able to, if interest rates had been market-dictated. Current U.S. debt pays interest of 25¢ for every dollar borrowed—that interest would have been higher much earlier, had Greenspan not subsidized money. This would have curtailed U.S. Federal government borrowing at a much more manageable level to GDP, instead of the 100% debt-to-GDP ratio it is today, and 110% ratio it will in all likelihood be next year.
This excessive debt level of the U.S. Federal government insures that Treasury bonds will never be repaid in real terms. The market is aware of this situation—the bond market is aware that Treasuries are in a bubble, floating on nothing but air. Therefore, when—not if—the bubble in Treasury bonds finally bursts, there will be a run on comodities, most likely, which will start the hyperinflationary phase of the current Global Depression. From here, the endgame of the U.S. economy.
Unfortunately, the profession and academic discipline of Economics—and all of its current practitioners—are unaware and unprepared for the popping of the final bubble. Which leads to our final charge against the Accused—
Fourth and finally—Turning Economics Into a Religion with the “We Are Right Because Our God—Math—Is On Our Side” Fallacy, and Marginalizing the Heterodox:
Because of the length of his tenure, and because of the prestige that the Federal Reserve has traditionally embodied within the academic discipline of Economics, the Accused created a rigid, inflexible, and supremely arrogant mind-set within the Federal Reserve itself, as well as in the Economics profession as a whole.
Greenspan didn’t accentuate currents of thought within Economics. Rather, he fomented a near-religious approach to math-based macro-economics, while ignoring the human aspect of society and of people. In other words, Greenspan fell for the McNamara Fallacy—and made sure that the rest of the discipline of Economics fell for the same fallacy as well, by dismissing the ideas of the heterodox, and marginalizing them from professional consideration.
Greenspan certainly didn’t invent math-based macro-economics. Math has been part of the game since Adam Smith. (And by the way, don’t let my history and philosophy degrees fool you—I’m a big old math geek. High-end philo eventually turns into math, JSTYK.) But Greenspan certainly made math-based macro reasoning not only de rigueur—he effectively excommunicated anyone who did not share his McNamara Fallacy.
Such a meretricious approach gave priority to quantitative measurements of macro-economic performance, rather than qualitative distinctions among policy options. In other words, “more in numbers is good, better in quality is irrelevant”.
This has led economists and Economics as a discipline—across all schools of thought—to value aggregate levels of whatever metric they were interested in, rather than qualitative differences which are not so easily measured.
On the political Left and Right—especially among the elites, to which Greenspan shamefully catered to—each side has become addicted to measuring the health of the U.S. economy by its aggregate demand levels (on the Left), and by its aggregate asset levels (on the Right).
Yet during the twenty years of Greenspans’s tenure, though both metrics improved drastically, there is no question that the American economy deteriorated. Why?
My brothers and sisters on the non-elite Left complained—bitterly—about how workers in third world countries were being exploited worse than slaves, to make the goods and products which American consumers were herded like cattle into demanding.
Meanwhile, my brothers and sisters on the non-elite Right complained—bitterly—about how American workers were being laid off in massive numbers, entire industries ripped out of the country and outsourced overseas, leaving only fast-food jobs and dead cities, all in the name of “Globalization”.
Both of these complaints are perfectly true and accurate. Both of these complaints stem from the same drive that Greenspan had such an integral part in encouraging: Quantitative improvements in aggregate demand levels and aggregate asset value levels as the only measures of economic “progress”.
These two metrics were considered by the Fed under Greenspan as the only “serious” metrics by which to measure economic performance. And thus it was inculcated among America’s political and business elites as the only measure of an economy’s worth.
But they are most certainly not. Anyone with eyes that see and a mind that works can tell you that a healthy economy is not how much you buy, or how much your stock price rises. A healthy economy is dependent on the worth of the work: The sense that people in the economy have that they are building something worthwhile, and not merely selling something worthless, or providing a meaningless “service”.
But these human measures of worth were dismissed by Greenspan’s calculations. They did not fit his equations, or the equations of all the other economists who wanted to be taken “seriously” by the high-priests of the Federal Reserve.
His famously opaque pronouncements as Chairman also led Economics as a discipline to favor opacity over clarity, obscurantism over elucidation. It wasn’t Greenspan’s fault that his Congessional testimony and various speeches were so famously hermetic; as a central banker, he had to maintain a poker player’s dispassion, so as not to unnecessarily influence the markets. But it was his fault that he seemed to encourage such oracular dictates from the profession itself. Ask any reader of technical Economics papers: They are incomprehensible. And that’s being kind.
Thus his Delphic opacity, combined with the undue reverence for math-based ratiocinations, plus the near-religious dismissal of all criticisms from the “uninitiated heathen” outside the white marble halls of the Fed and academia, led Economics as a profession to completely miss out on the Global Financial Crisis, and the subsequent (and currently under way) Global Depression.
In other words, because of Greenspan, Economics failed to call the biggest crisis in our lifetimes.
Regarding the past three years of crisis: Collectively, economists and Economics have tried to wash their hands of the whole mess, by acting completely surprised while shouting to the rooftops, “Whocouddaknownit?!?” (For my foreign friends and readers: “Who could have known it?!?”, or in other words, “Who could have predicted that this once-in-a-lifetime crisis could have happened?”)
Well, the fact is, a lot of people knew this was going to happen—and they said so. They in fact bet that it would happen. Michael Lewis’ fine new book describes three such people who made fortunes off of these bets. But not only traders, many people outside of Wall Street realized something was rotten in Denmark.
Many housewives realized that there was something wrong—I personally know one, in fact: My mother. She was approached by her bank, and offered (cajoled, wheedled and sweet-talked, actually) into getting a second mortgage on her home: “Rates are so low! And house prices in your area are booming! Go on! Give yourself a treat! Take out a second mortagage and spend-spend-spend!”
To this, my mother asked the obvious question: “But what if house prices fall?” She was answered, “They can’t fall.” And she asked, “Why not?” “Because they can’t.” “Yes, but why not?” Back and forth it went for a while, until the loan officer shook his head, said my mother was “difficult” (I could have told him that), and didn’t call her again. He probably found an easier mark.
But my point is, If a housewife, without any sophisticated training in economics, could figure out the obvious, yet an entire discipline failed . . . then maybe the discipline’s torch-bearer has led them down the wrong path.
Greenspan: It’s Greenspan.
To conclude: The Accused—Alan Greenspan—reneged on his sworn mandate to maintain low inflation and full employment, and instead pursued a policy of maintaining—and increasing—aggregate asset values, whatsoever the cost. In other words, he actively pursued bubble-creation and inflated asset values, to the benefit of the financial services industry, and to the detriment of the U.S. and world economies as a whole.
He furthermore created rampant moral hazard, and declined to carry out his sworn duty to regulate and monitor financial markets, and to curb usurious or unsafe financial products and services. Finally, he created the conditions that—quite possibly—will lead to a Treasury bond collapse and a hyperinflationary catastrophe.
The Prosecution rests.
Obviously This last bubble grew completely under Bush, and a Republican Congress. the Democratics didn't take over until 2007 in Januare.
By that time, this crash was already under way, and Greenspan, knew it was cooming, and hence, after making buckets of meny, himself, he retired, before the Dems even had majority...he has since noted, that Bush, and the Republican policy of tax cuts paid for with borrowed money,are irresponsible, this is exactly what Republicans are promising more of if they get back in there.
It was hidden from us, but there were many people who were warning for most of Bush's tenure, that he had us heading for disaster, and in fact, I was one of them.
Libertarian economics, equal irresponsibility, irrational exuberance, personified, which might look good on a blackboard, but in real life, Voodoo economics, which started with REagan, has destrooyed the American Middle Class.
The most ignorant among us are those who believe that the housing crisis that grew into disaster levels, wouldn't have been prevented if Greenspan, a Republican/Libertarian. couoldn't have prevented it, when in fact, he hid it from the public at large, while protecting the same crooks who had pans to profit from it.
Republicans are always working for the top one percent, and hence, they are the only ones who benefit financially, when the Republicans have power.
Gayle in MD
09-10-2010, 06:32 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: hondo</div><div class="ubbcode-body">It has gotten worse since then.
The Roves, Becks, and Limbergers of this country have worked hard to make the sheeple forget about Bush and dwell on Obama's
failure to fix Bush's trashing our great country.
It's gonna be a fiasco for the Dems.
Most people I talk to are angry with Obama and most can't
give you specifics on why.
They read this. They heard Beck say that.
If Gayle thinks it's going to be anything less than disaster, it's wishful thinking on her part.
The difference between Gayle and me is that she still thinks
the Dems are okay.
I think the Dems suck and she and I both think the Repubs
are total POS any more. </div></div>
Cheney to Treasury: "Deficits don't matter"
Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was told "deficits don't matter" when he warned of a looming fiscal crisis.
O'Neill, fired in a shakeup of Bush's economic team in December 2002, raised objections to a new round of tax cuts and said the president balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from "the corporate crowd," a key constituency.
O'Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits-expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone-posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off. "You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: "We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due." A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.
Note the run-up in debt starting in 1942. That's equivalent to $10 trillion today. That pulled the economy out of the great depression and into high gear to win World War II.
When You Look at that Sky-Rocketing Debt
May 22, 2010. Remember this: unemployment causes people far more pain.
And remember, unemployment (and business being off) make the debt go up -- that's what they call an automatic stabilizer. That has been built in because politicians are too slow to help out (especially Rs).
Economy goes down ==> tax collection goes down automatically ==>
(1) This helps the economy and limits unemployment, but ...
(2) It increases debt.
Then when we get well -- when the economy recovers -- we are supposed to pay for the medicine. Problem is, that after the Reagan and W recessions we didn't. This time we better -- after we get well.
Of course after the war, we had to pay off a huge national debt, but during that time, from 1946 to 1980, the economy was mainly quite prosperous. We hit a bad recession when Reagan took office, and his early deficit spending made sense (though he didn't know it). But then he continued to drive up the debt through the boom years that followed. That didn't make any sense.
We are now headed into the worst slump since 1938, and you better hope Obama can fix it because that was not a pretty time. Unfortunately, as in the Great Depression, the extreme conservatives would rather trash the country than have our government succeed. They are much worse than Bush.
The main thing to remember is that, with consumer spending going down, business is going to lay people off—not hire them. You can't blame business for this. It's just a vicious cycle that the economy gets into. And you can't blame consumers for not spending in bad times. The only way out of this, if we don't want to wait 10 years, is for the government to spend, pay unemployment insurance, or give tax breaks to people who will spend (not the rich). Of course there's also the problem of the banks. Obama should stop saving the bankers, and just take over the bad banks. Once they're working they can be sold back to the private sector.
They, the Republicans, caused the crises. Bush was at the helm, throughout the birth and growth of this last economic crash.
What irks me is when Republicans try to blame all of the debt on Dems and Obama, when the fact is, most of the debt, was because of Republicans, and Bush.
they are now pretending that it was BUSH, who bailed out the Banks, and it was Reagan, who baiiled out the Savings and Loan, and it was a Republican/libertarian, who allowed this housing bubble to grow, and didn' do a damned thing about it.
Now if anyone has a disaster to deal with, they have to spend money to recover, period! No matter what it is, you have to invest.
So here comes Obama, trying to invest in jobs, and save jobs, and keep people above water, and they balme him for the whole mess.
That is absolutely ABSURD. Bush broke the bank, before Obama was ever sworn in.
These nutjobs who voted twice for Bush, and are now saying that they didn't approve of Bush's spending, are full of it. they were actually writing the Debts Don't matter!
Now, how repulsive is it to think they are still on here wearing a self-impossed mantle of expertise on economic matters!
BWA HA HA HA....
Every Republican President, save Eisenhower, of my lifetime, ruined the economy, and left a recession behind him, mostly from cutting taxes, and spending like a drunken sailor.
Those are the facts. Boehner was up there making speeches, CRYING!@!!!! Beggin his fellow Republoicans to bail out the banks, vote for TARP! NOW, he's out there saying all of that was President Obama!!!! He wasn't even in office!
<span style='font-size: 14pt'>Republicans are SLIME!</span>It's aa sad day when Republicans manage to convince people that education, eloquence, and reason, are bad personality traits, IMO.
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