Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street’

In exercising control of the political processes in the United States, and thereby determining the distribution of income and wealth, one of the foremost strategies the rich use to suppress US democracy is to divert the attention of the 99 percent from looking after their own economic interests by raising social concerns.

Republican Party leaders, such as the Bush family, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Orrin Hatch are awesome at this. So instead of Republican grassroots voters thinking how grotesque and anti-Jesus income and wealth inequality have become in the USA, they are led to think about war against Christmas, the Muslim peril, terrorism, President Obama is going to take your guns, the war against white males, transgender bathrooms, abortion, undocumented immigrants and much more.

Democratic Party leaders, such as the Clintons’, Nansi Pelosi, Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden and others, are also awesome at creating social issues that are shamelessly self-serving at diverting our attention away from their helping the rich redistribute our income into their pockets via trade treaties and other legislation. Think about the war against women, keeping abortion legal, transgender bathrooms, racism, undocumented immigration, and much more.

The corporate news media is also quick to divert our attention away from the income and wealth inequality since they also serve the interests of the rich, being linked by the need for advertising dollars to keep their profits and share prices rolling upward.

Diverting us is determined by a “collectively manufactured elite (meaning parasites) consensus,” according to Branko Milanovic in his book Global Inequality. Given the enormous amount of private money that is used in politics and media, one cannot but think that this is one of the aims of these investments.

A perfect example of this is being played out in the media as you read this. Pornstar Stormy Daniels is suing President Donald Trump over an adulterous affair he allegedly had with her at the same time President Trump is pushing for more deregulation of Wall Street. Most media attention is one the Daniels issue because the corporate media does not want you to know the president, the entire Republican Party, and sixteen Democratic senators support the president’s proposal.

The last time there was deregulation of Wall Street we came face-to-face with the Great Recession. The next recession should be even worse, even without the deregulation.

And so it goes again, around and around. Democratic grassroots are gloating over the Daniels issue, while Republican grassroots are rushing to his defense, all the while oblivious to the fact that legislation is about to be passed making it easier for Wall Street to rip the 99 percent off even more than it is already.


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The red line in the graph below represents borrowing to buy corporate shares. The blue line represents the growing value of the S&P 500 stock index. Notice the growth in the financial markets is being fueled by record amounts of debt. The growth of both clearly mirrors each other.

Eight months ago, I wrote, “The latest in a long line of stock market bubbles is being fueled by record amounts of debt according to the New York Stock Exchange. This debt is called “buying on margin” (BOM). Notice the acronym of BOM, which is pretty close to bomb, and this current bubble is going to explode. Total BOM hit a record high of $528.2 billion in February 2017.”

By November 2017 (the latest data that is available), total BOM hit nearly $581 billion. Stock prices, in other words, have been bid up with borrowed money, like at an auction.

Once the lunatic Trump tax cuts were passed, the already dangerously obese stock market bubble began expanding even more in anticipation of more after-tax cash going to the rich and corporations, to whom the vast majority of those tax cuts were targeted. This has given corporations and the rich the leverage to borrow on margin even more in anticipation of future increased after-tax earnings.

That is not necessarily always a big problem early in a business expansion when the market is going up, but it’s now late in the ball game. Our economic expansion is 103 months old (as of January 2018), making it the third longest in US history. In terms of numerous indices, such as job, GNP, and wage growth, this is one of the weakest expansions in US history. The vast majority of new income and wealth have gone to the top 1 percent, and not to the 99 percent.

All of this suggests the coming crash is long overdue. When we hit this soon to arrive recession, it should be a train wreck worse than the so-called Great Recession of 2007-09.

November’s total BOM was nearly $80 billion more than twelve months before. This increase is a sign of optimism or foolishness. People and institutions like hedge funds want to get in on the action while the stock markets are rising. What is going to happen when the bubble pops?

Suppose you have $10,000 to invest, so you purchase 100 shares of Home Depot at $100 per share. The market crashes and the share price drops to $40. Now your investment is worth $4,000. That is not a good result, but your investment is still worth something, and can potentially recover if you hang on to it in the long run.

Let’s say you borrow an additional $20,000 from your broker to buy another 200 Home Depot shares at $100 each for a total of 300 shares and at a total cost of $30,000. The market crashes and the share price quickly drops to $40. Now all 300 shares are only worth $12,000 — but you owe your broker $20,000 (plus interest) for borrowing money to buy the stock. The broker calls in his loan. You are forced to sell your shares to get the funds to pay your broker but at the lower share price. You lose $18,000 of your $30,000 investment. But your broker wants the rest of his $20,000 plus interest. You only have $12,000 remaining of your original $30,000 investment, so you owe more than $8,000 to your broker.

So your original $10,000 is wiped out, your loan of $20,000 is annihilated, and you need to come up with $8,000 plus interest to pay back your broker.

During most recessions, it is much more difficult to get credit to pay your broker back, so you may both be out of luck, although you’ll likely be in court defending against him, her or it.

On a massive scale, say trillions of dollars of investments, that’s a recipe for absolute disaster for the whole economy. Corporations of all types (which often borrow to purchase their own shares in order to jack up their share prices), as well as hedge funds, governments, investment banks, commercial banks, small businesses, other wealth management firms, etc…, will likely need to lay off employees in order to pay back the money they owe.

Side Notes

***Let’s also get something straight which the corporate media doesn’t want us to know; tax cuts for corporations are the same as tax cuts for the rich since corporations in great measure pass on their tax cuts to the wealthy via higher after-tax corporate profits, rising share prices and surging dividends.

***As an aside, your government has allowed a conspiracy in restraint of trade in the housing market to be the primary fuel that ignited this current stock market bubble. See The Big Banks Are Manipulating the Housing Market–JohnHIvely.wordpress.com.

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The federal government initiated the student loan program in 1958 in response to the launch of Sputnik the year before by the Soviet Union. “High school students who showed promise in mathematics, science, engineering, and foreign language, or those who wanted to be teachers, were offered grants, scholarships, and loans.” In 1965, the government passed The Higher Education Act, which provided more college grants to students, especially lower-income students. The Pell Grant was established for students in 1972 (Citlen).

Then somebody on Wall Street came up with the idea of securitizing student loans, which meant pooling student loans, selling them to investment companies, which would then issue bonds to investors backed by the loans. Student loan payments would primarily go to the investors, with a little to spare to pay for the service providers.

From a Wall Street point-of-view, billions of dollars a year could be made in fees every step of the way with every securitized student loan. Subsequently, Wall Street investors successfully pushed government legislators to reduce grants and to issue more student loans. That is how the US government, as well as politicians of both political parties, has used the student loan program to redistribute billions of dollars of income yearly from the 99 to the 1 percent via the conduit of student loan-backed bonds.

This forced students to borrow more money to help finance their higher education than would otherwise be the case, making loan defaults more likely, especially during economic downturns. The Great Recession hit in December 2007 and lasted until June 2009, but the negative effects of this disaster have continued. The government, of course, is working hard to disguise how bad the situation really is.

Five years ago, fearing an increase of student loan defaults, and a massive devaluing of the student loan backed bonds they owned, investors began selling off their bonds, which resulted in declining values. They couldn’t stand this. Something had to be done to restore investor confidence, and so the federal government doubled student loan interest rates on all new loans from 3.4 to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2013 (Sheehy).

This increased the return on investment while doubling the burden on the 99 percent who take out new loans to finance their college education. The public outcry was so heavily against this increase politicians felt compelled to reduce student loan interest rates within a year. The burden for students and their families had been too great. The US government dropped the rate to 4.9 percent in 2014, which was still a nearly 50 percent increase over 3.4 percent (Lobosco). Doing so, however, stabilized the market for student loan-backed bonds.

Dictionary.com defines “crisis” as “a dramatic, emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person’s life.” Student loans are a perfect example of such a crisis in the personal lives of borrowers. In 2016, total outstanding student loans represented roughly 7.5 percent of the United States gross domestic product (GDP), up from 3.5 percent only ten years earlier (ACE). Nearly 43 million Americans were chained like slaves to rich bondholders via student loan debt, each with an average balance of $30,000 in 2016 (Friedman).

The cost of university education has grown faster than the value of Federal Pell grants (in current dollars) since 1976. The average Pell grant in 1976 paid 72 percent of the maximum cost of going to a public four-year college or university. This figure grew to 79 percent in 1979. Nowadays, the average Pell grant is less than half of that, hovering inside the 32 to 34 percent range (ACE). Therefore, students have had to increase their borrowing to fund their higher education and Wall Street investment banks and investors of the 1 percent all benefit from this higher student loan debt.

As the negative economic consequences of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 slowly gave ground to better times, student loan defaults fell, from nearly 15 percent in 2013 to 11.8 in 2015 to 11.3 percent in 2016. Defaults occur when former students go 360 days without making a payment. About 593,000 former college students out of 5.2 million total borrowers were in default on their federal debt as of Sept. 30, 2015, the US Department of Education reported. Default rates at public and for-profit colleges dipped, while private, nonprofit schools experienced a slight increase (Nasiripour).

Perhaps the biggest reason the default rate declined was that student loan borrowers deferred their payments at increasing rates, and for longer periods. The default rate, therefore, doesn’t accurately represent the degree to which former students have problems making their loan payments. An Obama White House report said in 2015, “The cohort default rate published by the Education Department is “‘susceptible to artificial manipulation.’”

The share of student borrowers paying down their loans more accurately reflects what is occurring than default rates alone (EPI). The report noted that a rising number of students are unable to make payments on their loans, but manage to avoid defaulting. Because of this, the report stated the actual default rate at four-year institutions is about 12.5 percent, and 25 percent for community colleges. For-profit colleges and universities have a 30 percent default rate. 41.5 million Americans owed more than $1.4 trillion federal student loans by the end of 2016. About one in every four borrowers is either delinquent or in default the report stated. Furthermore, “total indebtedness has doubled since 2009” (Nasiripour).

However, it turns out the White House report understated the numbers by quite a lot. Leaked documents showed only 46 percent of students out of school three years or more are paying down their student loan debt (Obama’s Student Loan Fiasco). This means 54 percent are not paying down their loans. Something else is terribly amiss as well. To be among the 46 percent, you cannot be in default, and you must have paid down the principal of your loan by at least one dollar. So if somebody who has owed $30,000 in student loans since they graduated from college ten years ago paid a dollar on the principal of their loan eight years ago, they have officially paid down their loan and are among the 46 percent. In other words, the bar for those who have not defaulted and are paying down their loans are about as low as one can get.

The government is paying the interest on student loans to bondholders for people who cannot pay down their loans. In other words, the rich are getting richer at the expense of the government and those who are paying down their student loans.

Clearly, tens of millions of people are in a state of personal crisis when it comes to student loans they cannot pay off. In addition, the next economic downturn may bring about a crisis in the financial markets centered on student loans, just as it occurred last time, only it will likely be worse. That economic crisis is looming.

People who have left higher education institutions saddled with an average of $30,000 in debt and limited job prospects are facing a crisis, which will only bring about another crisis in the student loan-backed bonds markets. Student loan debtors have other debts and bills to pay that turn their student loans into tens of millions of individual financial catastrophes, forcing them to spend years postponing payments so they can make their monthly mortgage payments, rent payments, put food on the table, pay their monthly bills, and raise their children.

People go to universities to increase their earning power so as to enjoy greater fruits of their labor. However, the growth of wages and salaries for most people have been flat or in decline for the last thirty-seven years when the official inflation rate is factored in. However, there is significant evidence this official rate is heavily understated, which means people are coming out of college and earning less in real terms than their parents thirty-seven years ago. This is why many people remain mired in student loan debt. Prices are going up faster than their earnings. They simply cannot pay it off and are forced to postpone payments for years and decades.

The remedy to this situation is to increase Pell Grants or simply make college free. According to the nonpartisan Office of Budget Management, the US government is giving the 1 percent and corporations $1.5 trillion dollars over ten years with the new Republican tax cut. Surely the US government can afford to provide such a sum to the middle class via a similar amount, thereby rendering college free. Studies clearly show this would be good for the US economy while there is not one scrap of evidence the tax cuts will do anything positive for the economy.

Student loans are an example of the golden rule of massive US government corruption; he or she who has the gold makes the rules that redistributes income and wealth their way from the less financially well endowed. Nobody knows this better than Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden.

Works Cited
Friedman, Dan. Americans Owe $1.2 Trillion Dollars In Student Loans. New York Daily News, May 17, 2014. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/americans-owe-1-2-trillion-student-loans-article-1.1796606

American Council on Education, (ACE) http://www.acenet.edu/news-room/Documents/FactSheet-Pell-Grant-Funding-History-1976-2010.pdf

Investment Memo. Merganser Capital Management, 2016 http://www.merganser.com/PDF/Memo/2015-Q3.pdf

Carrillo, Raul. How Wall Street Profits From Student Debt, Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone Magazine, April 14, 2016).

Sheehy, Kelsey. What the Stafford Loan Rate Hike Means for Students. US News and World Report, March 7, 2013 http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2013/07/03/what-the-stafford-loan-interest-rate-hike-means-for-students

Obama’s Student Loan Fiasco. Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Jan. 22, 2017

Allan, Nicole, Thompson, Derek. The Myth of the Student Loan Crisis. Atlantic Monthly, March 2017

Citlen, Jeff. A Look into the History of Student Loans. http://www.Lendedu.com, August 15, 2016

Lobosco, Katie. Student Loan Interest Rates Are Going Down. CNN Money, June 30, 2016 http://money.cnn.com/2016/06/30/pf/college/student-loan-interest-rates/

Nasiripour, Shahien. Student Loan Defaults Drop, but the Numbers Are Rigged. Bloomberg News, Sept. 28, 2016

Kroeger, Teresa; Cooke Tanyell; Gould, Elise. The Class of 2016. Economic Policy Institute. 21/04/2016. http://www.epi.org/publication/class-of-2016/


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Hillary Clinton’s new book, What Happened shows she is completely out of touch with reality and voter’s anxieties over the economic policies that have redistributed trillions of dollars from the 99 to the 1 percent. These policies were championed by her, former President Bill Clinton, former President Barack Obama, former President George W. Bush, and a host of other Republicans and Democrats, such as Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Wall Street’s favorite brown-noser, Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden.

In her book, Clinton blames Bernie Sanders for her defeat in the presidential election. She claims Sanders candidacy split the progressive vote. Hogwash! Hillary lost the presidential election because she is a gold plated pawn of Wall Street. Voters were tired of their jobs and tax dollars being exported to Mexico, China, and Vietnam. Clinton supported the policies that did this. Wall Street loved her support for these policies.

The CEOs of Wall Street, other major corporations, and billionaire investors rewarded her and her husband with $150 million in speaking fees from 2001 to 2016, at $225,000 a pop. Progressive voters knew that yes big money had gotten her to change her mind on legislation cutting back on the abilities of working folks to declare bankruptcy on behalf of the big banks who had purchased her lock, stock and barrel (See video above). Progressives knew the mind boggling millions of jobs that would have been exported from the United States to China with the Trans Pacific Partnership, which she called the “gold plated standard” for trade agreements. Then, of course, there was her support as Secretary of State for the coup that overthrew the lawful government of Honduras and resulted in the death of hundreds. You could go on and on about why progressives could not and would not support Candidate Clinton, but you cannot blame Bernie Sanders.

Hillary is completely out of touch with reality, but the book suggests she might want to run for president again.


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The Wall Street Journal reported a few days ago that the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has significantly reduced the number of regulations it is supposed to enforce. Quite naturally, as was shown in 1929, 2007-09, 2001, the entire 1980s and 1990s, as well as many other times in US and world history, Wall Street millionaires and billionaires will break the law while redistributing income from the 99 percent to themselves. Then the taxpayers (that’s us folks) will bail them out after the financial disaster, and this will make the rich even richer, and not a soul will go to jail.

The Journal reports that Trump’s appointees to the SEC have significantly slowed down on enforcement. Trump, along with every Republican office holder in the US congress, wants to eliminate the weak Dodd-Frank legislation that makes it a little bit harder than before to screw over the US public.

The Republicans chief economic policy is to unleash Wall Street as a destructive force in the world, allow it to wreck financial on everybody else, in order to knock the economy flat on its face. That is the Republican Party economic policy in a nutshell.

Of course, the Republicans have always had help from the Democratic Party, which is largely, if not completely, controlled by Wall Street billionaires. Many Democrats have been instrumental in helping the Republicans achieve the desires of their Wall Street masters. President Clinton signed legislation repealing Glass-Steagal, as well as NAFTA. The president was supported in this by Hillary Clinton. Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden. These folks continued to serve Wall Street’s interest under then Wall Street President Barack Obama.

The Clinton’s get $225,000 a piece for making speeches from Wall Street, while Obama gets $400,000.


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The appliance maker Whirlpool has asked the U.S. government to impose trade barriers on washing machines imported from South Korean companies, escalating a trade dispute that has been ongoing for years.

Anybody with half a brain could see this coming before President Obama and his henchmen and henchwomen, like Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, signed the South Korea Free Trade Treaty. Yet, Obama and his sleazy corporate Demorats, like Wyden, pushed for this scam anyway, mainly because it redistributes income from US workers to billionaire US investors, hedge funds and other finance types that finance the Demorat Party.

With headquarters in Benton Harbor Michigan, Whirlpool Corporation is the world’s largest home appliance maker. In the U.S., Whirlpool has eight manufacturing facilities: Amana, Iowa; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Cleveland, Tennessee; Clyde, Ohio; Findlay, Ohio; Greenville, Ohio; Marion, Ohio; and Ottawa, Ohio. Whirlpool has five factories in Mexico. Whirlpool has over 28,000 employees in the United States and Mexico. Those jobs are at risk.

USA Today reports that “In filing a petition to the U.S. International Trade Commission Wednesday, the Benton Harbor, Michigan-based manufacturer is seeking remedy from U.S. regulators on its claim that Samsung and LG are selling their washing machines in the U.S. at prices that are below the prices charged by American companies or below their cost of production.”

The U.S. government has twice found that Samsung and LG were selling in the U.S. at unfairly low prices. But Samsung and LG responded by “relocating their production facilities to other foreign countries in order to circumvent the U.S. government’s rulings,” Whirlpool says.

Whirlpool is a supporter of free and fair trade. According to company’s website, “We believe competition is healthy and breeds innovation. That’s why we support free and fair trade and promote an open global trading system that benefits our consumers, employees and the entire home appliance industry. Enforcing open, rules-based trade policies ensures the highest level of investment, innovation and choice for consumers around the world. Supporting free and fair trade increases industry access and incentivizes innovation globally, helping us to protect jobs and ensure continued innovation and investment in the appliance industry.”

Obama and Wyden supported the South Korea Trade Scam, and US citizen’s and now paying the price. Click on the following link for more on the story, whirlpool-files-complaint-samsung-lg-dump-washers-us–USA Today


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Wall Street Democrats, such as Wall Street-owned president’s Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as Wall Street’s senator’s Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ron Wyden, have led the way toward trade deals that have exported tens of millions of US jobs overseas, with the difference between the old higher US paying jobs and the new lower paying US jobs going directly into the pockets of the rich via higher corporate earnings, rising share prices and surging dividends.

These income redistribution scams are the primary reason income and wealth inequality have grown so lopsided in favor of the billionaires over the previous 35 years or so. Most of the Republican Party have stood right behind the Clinton’s, Wyden and Obama on these income redistribution scams. 86 percent of Republican voters understand these trade scams are intended to export US jobs, compared to 52 percent of Democratic voters. So the Republican leadership is happy to negotiate with the Wall Street DNC Democrats to take the lead on these trade scams. In fact, the two sides have worked together to create the income and wealth inequality in which we now suffer. That’s why Donald Trump is president.

So how do the Democrats get out of being blamed for exporting tens of millions of jobs and creating such massive income and wealth inequality? They lie and spread these lies using a number of corporate news outlets and fake academic studies that come from real universities.

When Barack Obama became president, and for a few years afterward, the US failed to create any net jobs. And so members of the Democratic Party came up with the ingenious lie; automation killed the jobs. Since then the economy has created twelve million new jobs, and you will notice automation hasn’t killed those jobs. Nor has automation killed the tens of millions of US jobs that have been exported to China, Vietnam, Mexico and elsewhere.

I’ve written about this Democratic Party lie many times.

Now in a new report, economists Lawrence Mishel and Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute challenge the Democratic Party lie that the pace of automation is accelerating and that the use of robots will lead to much higher unemployment and greater inequality. They also point out that there is not one shred of evidence in any study showing that technology and automation are killing more jobs than they are creating. The authors argue that if automation actually led to higher overall joblessness, the United States would have seen consistently increasing unemployment over the last 70 years. That didn’t happen because technology and its offshoot called automation actually create more jobs than they displace.

Likewise, if automation were indeed surging and leading to joblessness in recent years, we would not have been able to reduce the unemployment rate from 10 percent in 2010 to under 4.3 percent now. The authors encourage policymakers to focus on the immediate need to create good jobs and robust wage growth—instead of getting worked up about a hypothetical “robot apocalypse.”

The imbalance of political power between the 1 and the 99 percent are the current reason why income and wealth inequality has grown over the last 3 1/2 decades.

For more information, click on the report at “The Zombie Robot Argument Lurches On; There is no evidence that automation leads to joblessness and or Inequality–Economic Policy Institute


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