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Archive for April, 2020

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Rich Rodriguez

Spending trillions of dollars on a crisis against an invisible enemy sounds crazy, right? We just did that in the blink of an eye.

The problem is we are fighting two crises. The global COVID-19 pandemic and the environmental crisis. We’re fighting a good battle on the COVID-19 pandemic, with some winning results. In large part, we are ignoring the environmental crisis as its invisible hand is felt more and more. In 2018 some 37.1 billion metric tons of fossil-fuel CO2 was dumped in our air. There is a price to pay for this recklessness: Witness the recent Oregon wildfires.

To many, it would have seemed ludicrous just three months ago to say we need to spend trillions of dollars to reduce CO2 emissions. Yet, in the last few weeks, the White House negotiated with a cabal of oligarchs and a ruthless kingdom – to raise oil prices! Let that sink in.

From an environmental standpoint, the correct decision would have been to let the frackers go bust while simultaneously announcing investments in renewable energy, energy storage, improvements to the electric grid, and more – creating quality sustainable jobs.



Times of great crisis also creates opportunity. The White House just squandered a golden chance — and placed our existential survival at increased risk. Despite this mistake, we learned something. The people of the United States just learned it is possible to wage a war against an invisible enemy, spend trillions of dollars in the battle, and create winning results.

Let’s get it done. Beat the CO2 crises. Beat global warming. We don’t have much time.

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Not only did legislators of both major political parties make certain when writing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in late March 2020 that the top 0.05 percent receive 80 percent of the benefits, but they also wrote the legislation so that more than 80 percent of a change in the tax law included in the bill benefited the top, as well. This is according to a non-partisan congressional committee.

The CARES Act was sold by the government and the corporate news media as providing worker and business relief for those suffering from the coronavirus quarantine. In fact, it was written to save the financial well being of the billionaires and multi-millionaires who have corrupted both major political parties, and the federal and likely all state governments in the process. The corruption clearly extended to much of the corporate news media since few of them reported on this.

The Guardian points out that the “change – which alters what certain business owners are allowed to deduct from their taxes – will allow some of the nation’s wealthiest to avoid nearly $82 billion of tax liability in 2020.

Nearly 82% of the benefits from the tax law change will go to people making $1 million or more annually in 2020, according to an analysis by the joint committee on taxation (JCT).

Taxpayers will lose nearly $90 billion from the change, which suspends a restriction introduced in the 2017 tax bill.

The change allows owners of businesses known as pass-through entities to lower their taxes by deducting as much as they want against income unrelated to the business.

Before, owners of pass-through entities could deduct a maximum of $250,000 in losses from non-business income such as stocks and bonds. This limitation was introduced in the 2017 law to offset other tax benefits going to firms.”

The rich lost trillions of dollars in paper profits with the stock markets down around 15 percent from their all-time highs. The billionaire owners of hedge funds (largely unregulated investment businesses with 99 or fewer clients) and big-time real estate investors will be the primary beneficiaries.

Currently, the top 1 percent steal 37+ percent of all income produced in the United States compared to 8 percent in 1980. Three people (Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates) own more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of Americans. This lopsided distribution of both income and wealth has come about due to political corruption. Those at the top of the financial food chain are eating those at the bottom via corrupt politics and with deadly impacts. For example, the US white mortality rate has dropped three years in a row for the first time since the Spanish flu of 1918 struck.

I also want to point out that the CARES Act itself provides a little over $5000 to each member of the 99 percent while giving away an average of over $16 million each to the members of the top 0.01 percent, proving how rampant corruption is in the government. Click The CoronaVirus Stimulus Bill: The Rich Get 5 Trillion, We Get the Crumbs for more on that.

Click Tax change in coronavirus package overwhelmingly benefits millionaires, congressional body finds-Washington Post for more on the story.

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The United States Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed) is bailing out the billionaires again. This time the Fed is making certain that losses suffered by hedge funds are reversed. Hedge funds are not banks. They are private billionaire investment clubs which manage investments for clients and which cannot have more than 99 clients. This is why many hedge funds will not take on clients who are unwilling or unable to invest $10 million or more with them.

On March 16, 2020 the Wall Street Journal reported Hedge Funds Hit by Losses in “‘Basis Trade.’ A wide swath of hedge funds was hit by the recent unwinding of the so-called basis trade last week. The basis trade is a long-running investment that seeks to exploit pricing gaps between Treasury securities and futures.” This is a useless activity in which nothing is made, no services and no goods are produced.

The Journal went on, “The Federal Reserve rushed to repair disorderly trading conditions in the Treasury market last Thursday.” Translated, that means the Fed rushed in to make certain these billionaire investor Hedge Funds did not lose money. Not until 2008 did the Fed rush in to save billionaires from their stupid investment losses through banks and other forms of business, like hedge funds.

The Journal went on, “The Fed’s intervention Thursday and over the weekend ended up aiding Citadel and many (hedge) funds deploying the basis trade, said people familiar with the matter.” That means whatever the Fed did made certain rich folks did not lose money. Citadel manages about $30 billion for 99 or less clients.

Guess who works for Citadel. None other than Ben Bernanke, the former Chairman of the Fed, and the person who turned the Fed into a money laundering organization for billionaires back in 2008-09. The New York Times reported back in 2015, “For eight years, Ben S. Bernanke, the former Federal Reserve chairman, was steward of the world’s largest economy. Now he has signed on to advise one of Wall Street’s biggest hedge funds. Mr. Bernanke will become a senior adviser to Citadel, the $25 billion hedge fund founded by the billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin. He will offer his analysis of global economic and financial issues to Citadel’s investment committees. He will also meet with Citadel’s investors around the globe. It is the latest and most prominent move by a Washington insider through the revolving door into the financial industry.”

“In an interview, Mr. Bernanke said he was sensitive to the public’s anxieties about the “revolving door” between Wall Street and Washington and chose to go to Citadel, in part, because it “is not regulated by the Federal Reserve and I won’t be doing lobbying of any sort.”

It is odd that this billionaire investor club and other hedge funds are getting bailed out by the Fed since the Fed does not regulate them. The Fed is simply printing up money by the billions and rescuing them and their clients from their losses. Why is the Federal Reserve ensuring that billionaire investor clubs do not lose money, and how does Bernanke’s employment depend on the Fed’s actions?

Hedge funds, like Citadel, do not make produce anything that you use, such as machines, food and water. They simply gamble with other people’s billions.

Why is it that when rich people make incredibly stupid investment decisions the government and or the Fed is always there to bail them out? The answer is we do not have a democracy. We have plutocracy in which the rich rule via both of their major political parties.

The billionaires reap the benefits of the financial markets when the markets are going up but do not have to share in the losses with the 99 percent when the markets are heading down.

Historically, the Fed was supposed to serve as a central bank by providing short term loans to banks when necessary and only if the needy banks had “good collateral.” Its job is also to keep inflation and unemployment low using interest rates, and buy U.S. debt when nobody else wants to buy them. That changed in 2008 when the bank under the direction of Ben Bernanke gave $26 trillion to twelve banks, four of them foreign. That is when the Fed became a money laundering criminal enterprise for the wealthy. For that report click The CoronaVirus Stimulus Bill: The Rich Get 5 Trillion, We Get Crumbs

 

 

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