The Banksters don’t seem to have a very strong hand…

This is a neat story.  Anyone can research, and find out something, and change the lives of many:

How Two Civilian Sleuths Brought Foreclosure Problems to Light
Thursday 14 October 2010

by: Tony Pugh  |  McClatchy Newspapers

Palm Beach, Forida – More than a year before lenders, law firms and document companies began owning up to widespread paperwork problems with their foreclosure filings, Lisa Epstein and Michael Redman already knew that something was wrong – very wrong.

Redman, a former online automobile consultant, got his first taste of the problem in early 2008, when he tried to help a relative who was facing foreclosure.

As he tried to determine which of three or four supposed lenders held the note, Redman, 35, realized that not only did he not know the answer, neither did any of the companies that were asking for payment.

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The Banksters don’t seem to have a very strong hand…

The war between the Banksters and the People really gets going

A couple of posts from the Financial Frontier:

First, from the it isn’t over yet department, the housing market collapses in the UK:

UK house prices fall by record 3.6pc in a month
The UK housing market has suffered a shock as figures from the Halifax revealed the average price of a property dropped more than £6,000 in September [2010].

And from the good government department:

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner on the Foreclosure Crisis and Her State’s Lawsuit Against Ally Financial

Calls are growing for a nationwide moratorium on home foreclosures following the recent revelations that major lenders may have committed fraud while forcing thousands of people out of their homes. On Thursday the White House announced President Obama will not sign a bill approved by Congress that could have made it easier for banks to foreclose. We discuss the latest in the foreclosure crisis with Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. This week, Ohio filed a lawsuit accusing the lender Ally Financial and its GMAC Mortgage division of fraud in approving scores of foreclosures.

Next, there will some interesting decisions the banksters have to make, all centering around the question of how dirty do they want to fight. These debates won’t want to take place in public, but thanks to wikileaks and others we can expect more revelations like Bernie Marcus’ memorable appeal “to shoot” any business leader who does not oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. Of course, anyone like the Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner who tries to stop the foreclosures that are destroying neighborhoods will be accused of starting a “class war.”  But asking for those who don’t oppose legislation to be shot isn’t inciting a class war, it is doing something truly noble.

The war between the Banksters and the People really gets going

Untitled post (economy)

What is to be done about the current financial crises? Here are several essays by economists giving advice to the G7/8:

link: http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/2340

And of course, here is a car company opening a brand new technical center in Michigan. Was it one of those that complained about high fuel efficincy standards or was it one of those that exceeded those standards and built cars that were much less bad for the environment than the competitions? (Well it is a good thing the Japanese will save Detroit from itself….)

link: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D93N85O80.htm

Toyota dedicates new tech center in Michigan

By TOM KRISHER

Across the street from Terry Fisher’s BP gas station just off U.S. 23 sits what may be the only good news in the domestic auto industry these days.

It’s an expansion of Toyota Motor Corp.’s new North American technical center, a $187 million, 530,000-square-foot complex that sits on 700 acres south of Ann Arbor.

While the Detroit Three, who long have dominated employment in Southeast Michigan, are losing billions of dollars and shedding workers by the thousands, Toyota on Thursday dedicated the new complex, complete with 300 jobs, many of them highly paid engineers. The company plans to hire 100 more people despite its own sales slump, with possible expansion in the future.

Untitled post (economy)

In order to maintain it…

“Strictly speaking, economic liberalism is the organizing principle of a society in which industry is based on the institution of the self-regulating market…For as long as such a system is not established economic liberals will call for the intervention of the state in order to establish it, and once established, in order to maintain it.”

–Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation

And here is the greatest intervention ever proposed in order to maintain this self-regulating market.  (It is also the largest and most brazen criminal act in history.)

LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL FOR TREASURY AUTHORITY

TO PURCHASE MORTGAGE-RELATED ASSETS

Section 1. Short Title.

This Act may be cited as ____________________.

Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Authority to Purchase.–The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.

(b) Necessary Actions.–The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and

(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.

Sec. 3. Considerations.

In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for–

(1) providing stability or preventing disruption to the financial markets or banking system; and

(2) protecting the taxpayer.

Sec. 4. Reports to Congress.

Within three months of the first exercise of the authority granted in section 2(a), and semiannually thereafter, the Secretary shall report to the Committees on the Budget, Financial Services, and Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committees on the Budget, Finance, and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate with respect to the authorities exercised under this Act and the considerations required by section 3.

Sec. 5. Rights; Management; Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Exercise of Rights.–The Secretary may, at any time, exercise any rights received in connection with mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act.

(b) Management of Mortgage-Related Assets.–The Secretary shall have authority to manage mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio risks therefrom.

(c) Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.–The Secretary may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at prices determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities loans, repurchase transactions or other financial transactions in regard to, any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act.

(d) Application of Sunset to Mortgage-Related Assets.–The authority of the Secretary to hold any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act before the termination date in section 9, or to purchase or fund the purchase of a mortgage-related asset under a commitment entered into before the termination date in section 9, is not subject to the provisions of section 9.

Sec. 6. Maximum Amount of Authorized Purchases.

The Secretary’s authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time

Sec. 7. Funding.

For the purpose of the authorities granted in this Act, and for the costs of administering those authorities, the Secretary may use the proceeds of the sale of any securities issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, and the purposes for which securities may be issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, are extended to include actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses. Any funds expended for actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses, shall be deemed appropriated at the time of such expenditure.

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Sec. 9. Termination of Authority.

The authorities under this Act, with the exception of authorities granted in sections 2(b)(5), 5 and 7, shall terminate two years from the date of enactment of this Act.

Sec. 10. Increase in Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.

Subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $11,315,000,000,000.

Sec. 11. Credit Reform.

The costs of purchases of mortgage-related assets made under section 2(a) of this Act shall be determined as provided under the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, as applicable.

Sec. 12. Definitions.

For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) Mortgage-Related Assets.–The term “mortgage-related assets” means residential or commercial mortgages and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008.

(2) Secretary.–The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Treasury.

(3) United States.–The term “United States” means the States, territories, and possessions of the United States and the District of Columbia.

In order to maintain it…

Insanity, looting or just plain theft

It’s clear that the Bush administration has an agenda.  Clearly, their actions are motivated by a plan to bankrupt the US government, making any type of government program impossible.  The plan of a war in Iraq, that was senseless and enriched a few corporations such as Exxon, but killed 100,000 or so people wasn’t enough, so now they are asking for a blank check of only $700,000,000 to use to buy nearly worthless assets from rich people who don’t need government money anyway. The word for that is theft.

In any case, several of the blogs I link to feel the same way, so I’m collecting something each blog has to say about this issue. (Note that e_f spotted  that this was the beginning of something big in April of 2007.)

Many have commented on the proposed theft of $700 million dollars by the present administration, but the two best comments have been at Global Guerillas and Against Monopoly. The best graphic describing the magnitude of the current crises comes from Brad deLong’s blog:

Continue reading “Insanity, looting or just plain theft”

Insanity, looting or just plain theft

The Self-Regulating Market requires state intervention

Tim Lee makes a couple of points about what he sees as the puzzling connections between free trade and protectionism, and he stumbles across the point I’d made earlier to one of Jerry Brito’s comments, (yes, the comment that Jerry can’t respond to, and therefore must censor) It’s a simple point that Karl Polanyi made in his excellent book The Great Transformation: that the self-regulating market requires state intervention, both for it’s creation and for its maintenance . So the creation of a self regulating market in copyrighted goods requires state intervention to create and maintain that market. But Tim, being a libertarian, can’t read or understand Polanyi, so he’s confused about why those who support free trade also support certain market interventions:

This is a fascinating question. One of the things I find really interesting about the 19th century political debate is that the opposing political coalitions were more sensibly aligned, perhaps because people had a slightly clearer sense of what was at stake. My impression (which may be wrong in its details) is that the free traders tended to be liberals and economic populists. They clearly understood that protectionism brought about a transfer of wealth from relatively poor consumers to relatively wealthy business interests. In the opposing coalition were a coalition of business interests and xenophobes making fundamentally mercantilist arguments about economic nationalism.

 

Karl Polanyi covers this period in his book The Great Transformation. His perspective is a little different.

First, Polanyi notes that those opposing the liberal agenda there were the defenders of the old order, ultimately derived from the feudal social structure, as well the working urban proletariat. Their interests never coincided and their visions of an alternative to the dominant liberal creed were so very different, it is not surprising that they never formed a united opposition. It is true that once the middle class realized that free trade meant cheaper food they were temporarily won over to its cause. But there were a few others who realized how disastrous free trade would be in the long run.

Second, Tim Lee, as all libertarians do, makes a whole series of informational exclusions about what comes along with liberalism. For example, it cannot be an accident that Great Britain, during the time of the ascendancy of liberal ideals, also maintained a very large colonial empire. Ultimately, adherence to the dogma of the self-regulating market requires state intervention to ensure that the prices of labor, land, and money are all controlled only by economic factors internal to that self-regulating market. When social, environmental, religious or national policies interfere with the operating of that self regulating market, state intervention is required. Case in point: US invasion of Iraq. When political ideals interfere with the functioning of the self-regulating market, state intervention is also called for by supporters of the market. Case in point: the DMCA. From this view, the fact that those who support the self-regulating market also support strong imposed patent, copyright and trademark laws is entirely consistent and unsurprising.

 

The bottom line is: you cannot separate the economic functioning of society from its broader social, political, environmental, national and social contexts, as liberals are wont to do. Human society just cannot be distilled into neatly separate fungible categories. They are all connected. Failure to come to grips with this reality is why libertarianism can only be maintained by making excluding whole categories of information.

Thus the following confusion on Tim’s part:

Today’s free trade debate is much weirder, because there are enough businesses who want to export things that significant parts of the business community are for freer trade. On the other hand, the liberals who fancy themselves defenders of relatively poor consumers find themselves in bed with predatory industries like sugar and stell that have been using trade barriers to gouge consumers. And the “trade” debate has increasingly come to be focused on issues that don’t actually have much to do with trade, whether it’s labor and environmental “standards,” copyright and patent requirements, working retraining programs, cross-border subsidies, etc.

Continue reading “The Self-Regulating Market requires state intervention”

The Self-Regulating Market requires state intervention

Design pays

Or A Tale of Two Houses

Here’s an example of poor design not paying and following that, an example of good design paying off.

The projects are in many ways opposites of each other: one is large (over sized, really at five bedrooms, four bathrooms) and the other is small (just one bedroom, one bath), one is cheaply built, the other has been built to last a long time. One is built in the suburbs, another built in the city. One is built to a certain standard and would look the same in Seattle or in Florida, the other is connected to its community is very particularized to its environment. One is an energy hog and one is sustainable. One is (probably) not designed by an Architect, the other is designed by a very capable one. Those sets of factors are connected.

Moral of the story: Hire an Architect! [In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll note that–yes, you guessed it–I am an Architect!]

Continue reading “Design pays”

Design pays