Do Americans Believe Capitalism & Government Are Working?: Findings from the 2013 Economic Values Survey

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This survey by the Public Religion Research Institute and Governance Studies at Brookings examines Americans’ views on capitalism, government, economic policy, and financial well-being,

Greg Russak‘s insight:

The survey also developed a new religious orientation scale in order to explore differences and similarities among Americans of faith and to better understand the constituencies that make up the political parties. 

See on www.brookings.edu

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I Didn’t F*ck It Up. You Didn’t F*ck It Up.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdn3O6aaMNc But it’s f*cked up! Now you can help to unf*ck it up by supporting the American Anti-Corruption Act! If you see this before Wednesday, July 15th, at noon,…

See on didyoucheckfirst.wordpress.com

“Bankers Are Balking at a Proposed Rule on Capital” Gretchen Morgenson – The New York Times

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“Over the next two months, the regulators proposing this rule will no doubt encounter a lobbying buzz saw. Mr. Hoenig (vice chairman of the F.D.I.C.) said he and his colleagues were bracing for that. Bankers, after all, prefer things just the way they are. They can load up on leverage to take risks and reap the rewards. But when losses abound? Well, they’re the taxpayers’ problem.” – Gretchen Morgenson, assistant business and financial editor and a columnist at the New York Times.

Greg Russak‘s insight:

Letting banks regulate themselves with what is called ‘risk-weighting’ didn’t work out so well in the past.

“This so-called risk-weighting approach was an abject failure. For example, the assumptions characterized the sovereign debt of Greece as risk-free, requiring that banks set aside no capital against those holdings for possible losses. The risk-weight system also determined, incorrectly, that highly rated mortgage securities fell low on the risk scale.”

Why shouldn’t banks be regulated up to their eye-balls? How can we think bankers can be trusted now?

Either they are horrible at analyzing risk and need lots and lots of oversight or, more likely, they know that in an under-regulated environment they can privatize any gains and socialize all their losses back to us through future federal bailouts.

See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/business/bankers-are-balking-at-a-proposed-rule-on-capital.html?ref=gretchenmorgenson&_r=0

How Big Money Created the Most Polarized Congress in a Century: 5 Charts

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The incredible growth of PACs, the death of vote splitting, and the demise of America’s cushiest retirement home

Greg Russak‘s insight:

An article with charts worth keeping at the ready, especially when the discussion turns to union versus corporate and trade group money.

See on www.theatlantic.com

Wall Street’s Socialists

Take a good look.

Exchange floor

These are the real Socialists in America today(1).

No, not Socialism in the text-book definition of the word. I mean something more heinous:  a dystopian form of capitalism in which all the gains are privatized and all the losses are socialized.

The New York Times reported that when Bernanke said, “…the economy could soon be strong enough to live with less of its stimulus, the markets threw their version of a tantrum.”

Why is that? Why do the all-knowing and all-powerful “invisible hands” on Wall Street who control the world’s finances and our so-called free market start wringing those hands and selling off stock at the thought of fewer stimulus dollars?

Shouldn’t they be overjoyed? What happened to all the confidence they profess to have that capitalists and corporations would thrive if they were simply left to their own devices?

And, where are the cheers from the GOP, tea partiers, and Randians on the right for Bernanke’s announcement?

Why are “investors” (and let’s be clear, they don’t mean us) selling stocks when corporate profits are generally at historic highs?

I know. Buy low, sell high. So, has the high been reached? Could it be that those highs have been achieved at least in part because there was federal stimulus being pumped into the economy?

Could it be that Wall Street is having their tantrum now because they know the truth: that tapering back now is a bad idea? After all, some really smart people who have won Nobel Prizes for how much they know about economics have been telling us that the recovery hasn’t been all that great – except on some paper and in reality for an infinitesimally small number of people – precisely because there has been too little stimulus.

Wall Streeters and banksters are a lot of things. One thing they are not is stupid. They know that corporations won’t do so well once the Federal Reserve tapers back.

They have to know what many of us know:  that on some very disturbing levels austerity has proven to be a complete failure. Austerity does not lead to growth. If the Feds curtail stimulus now without a healthy, prosperous, and confident middle class, the whole charade of corporate profitability will be revealed and proven to be unsustainable.

Can’t you just see Wall Street coming back to the federal government again to be bailed out?

Let’s hope that this sell-off wakes up our elected leaders. Wall Street needs much more and much tougher regulation, and they need it now. The big banks created out of the fiasco that was the GOP and W administration – yes, it’s still his and their fault and always will be despite all the attempts to rewrite or ignore history – need to be broken up, and they need to be regulated under new Glass-Steagall-like regulations on steroids.

Our only hope as citizens will be to vote for politicians like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Sherrod Brown who also believe that our society requires a stronger government that protects us from the unfettered greed of people running banks and big corporations. It is their big and dark money, and the influence it has over our politicians, that represents the real threat to our society.

(1) I’m not claiming that the gentlemen specifically pictured above are socialists. I don’t know them or their politics. This is merely symbolic metaphor.

Sources:

A Fit of Pique on Wall Street, New York Times, June 21, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/22/business/economy/a-fit-of-pique-on-wall-street.html