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Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street’

In 2012, news that wasn’t published hardly at all included the fact that Costco’s CEO Craig Jelinek decided that redistributing income from his employees to his shareholders by cutting wages was not good for the employees or for the shareholders. Wall Street was pressuring him to do exactly that (Click here for the story from http://www.zdnet.com). This was in spite of the fact that Costco’s closing share price hovered slightly below $39 a share in March 2009 and had risen to over $90 a share in March 2012.

That higher wage strategy seems to have worked beautifully. Costco’s share price has been steadily rising, and it closed at $177 on March 2 2017. Wall Street was proven wrong–again.

The truth is simple. When you have a massive income redistribution from the 99 to the 1 percent via federal legislation, as in the last thirty-seven years, you have a government and an economy that are sick with massive corruption. Costco has opted out of that business model. Thirty-six years ago, the 1 percent took home about 8 percent of the nation’s income, now it’s over 30 percent and growing, and it’s been stolen from the rest of us. Thirty-six years ago, the 1 percent owned 7 percent of the nation’s wealth, now they own over 40 percent, and it’s growing at the expense of us all. However, when the latest stock market bubble bursts, and it will, much of that wealth will evaporate.

 

This is why the current economic expansion is long, but historically weak by virtually all measurements, despite a bigger gross domestic product, greater worker productivity and larger population than in years past. Demand should be robust compared to decades ago, but it instead remains comparatively lackluster. That is because the income of the 99 percent has been redistributed to the 1 percent, leaving the rest of us insufficient money to boost this economy in the manner of the past.

It’s time to put a little more balance in the economy by following the Costco model. The government has redistributed income from the 99 to the 1 percent via free trade treaties, privatization scams, corporate welfare and other means. It’s time for the government to move in the opposite direction on behalf of all of us, not just the rich.

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The Republican Party is about to determine whether or not it will become the biggest death panel since Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party tried to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

US House of Representatives leader Paul Ryan pulled out his new American Health Care Act last week, which he is hoping will be used to replace the Affordable Care Act. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) yesterday, within a decade as many as 24 million US citizens will lose their health care coverage and premiums will go up for the rest of us if Ryan’s plan is passed, and especially for low income people and the elderly. Many grandmas and grandpas will have to chose between starving to death, or not paying their overpriced healthcare premiums, thanks to the Ryan plan.

Obamacare has only added slightly more than 19 million people to the rolls of the health insured. That means another 4 million US citizens beyond Obamacare may lose their coverage with Ryan’s carefully thought out health care bill. And it has been carefully thought out.

March 8, 2017

The primary purpose of this bill by all appearances is to provide tax cuts to the rich, the only people who have been the beneficiary of thirty-six years of economic expansions, and deliberately so. Currently, there is a 0.9 percent tax on income over $200,000 a year to help fund Obamacare. There is also a 3.5 percent tax on capital gains for the same purpose, such as the profits from the sale of stocks and bonds. This is why Wall Street hedge funds and big investment firms want Obamacare gone.

Many Republicans are prepared to make the Republican Party and all it stands for into a giant death panel in order to make its billionaire masters richer. Herr Ryan is one of these. Yet, other Republicans want to get reelected.

Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for example, said Tuesday that she wouldn’t be able to support Ryan’s health care legislation after the CBO score revealed the high number of people who would lose insurance.

“I plan to vote NO on the current #AHCA bill. As written the plan leaves too many from my #SoFla district uninsured,” the Florida congresswoman wrote in two consecutive tweets. “As #AHCA stands, it will cut much needed help for #SoFla’s poor + elderly populations. Need a plan that will do more to protect them.”

This shows several things. The legislation is not likely going to pass. The Republicans are going to find it difficult to give their billionaire masters tax cuts by replacing Obamacare. So they will likely try a different tack.

The most likely scenario is simply keeping Obamacare largely intact, but shifting the tax burden from the rich to the middle and lower classes, and then marketing this plan as replacing Obamacare. One thing is certain; replacing Obamacare and taking health insurance from tens of millions of people in the process is not going to be politically palatable.

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The economic and political game is clearly rigged in favor of wealthy, and its getting worse. This is a recipe for economic disaster, and which has been closely followed by major Wall Street politicians, such as Ron Wyden, Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, and George W. Bush.

The richest are getting richer, and their doing so quickly, and at the expense of the rest of us. For the most part, control of the levers of political power is how they have gained their money. It’s that simple. The rich control the Republican and Democratic parties, and with them, they control all three branches of the federal government, as well as most state and local governments. And that’s just in the USA.

In early 2016 Oxfam reported that just 62 individuals had the same wealth as the bottom half of humanity. About a year later Oxfam reported that just eight men had the same wealth as the world’s bottom half. Based on the same methodology and data sources used by Oxfam, that number is now down to six.

inequality-cartoon

There is a reason why the rich, and in particular the super rich, continue to get richer. The politicians of both major political parties work as agents on behalf of their billionaire benefactors, whether its Republicans such as Mitch McConnell, or Democrats like Ron Wyden.

This is why the poorest half (and more) of the world has continued to lose wealth; and the very richest individuals—especially the top thousand or so—continue to add billions of dollars to their massive fortunes. Inequality deniers and apologists say the Oxfam methodology is flawed, but they’re missing the big picture. Whether it’s six individuals or 62 or 1,000 doesn’t really matter. The data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (GWD) and the Forbes Billionaire List provide the best available tools to make it clear that inequality is extreme and pathological and getting worse every year.

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As of Feb. 17 of 2017, the world’s six richest individuals (all men) had $412 billion. Just a year ago, on March 1, 2016, the world’s six richest men had $343 billion. They’re the same men today, although slightly rearranged as they play “king of the hill”: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim Helu (with Larry Ellison jockeying for position). The wealth of these six men increased by $69 billion in just one year.

According to a new report, which can be accessed below, the poorest 50 percent of the population has seen their share of wealth decline. And the richest 500 people own more wealth that the bottom 70 percent.

Six Men Own More Wealth Than the Bottom 50 Percent of the World’s Population–EcoWatch.org

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As President-elect Donald Trump takes office today, January 20, 2017. the Pew Research Center reports “the public has starkly different expectations about which groups in society will gain influence – and those that will lose influence – under his administration.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) say wealthy people will gain influence in Washington when Trump takes office. Just 8% say they will lose influence, while 27% expect the wealthy will not be affected.”

I agree with the 27 percent who say the wealthy will not be affected. The reason is simple. The rich already control both major political parties, and through them, the rich control the federal government, virtually all state governments, and most big city governments, as well as a lot of local governments.

The wealthy are not going to improve upon that score a whole lot under Trump. Control of the legislative process has been the primary means by which the 1 percent has methodically increased its share of wealth and income of the United States year after year for the last thirty-five years.

That’s why the 64 percent who say wealthy people will gain influence are wrong inasmuch as wealthy people have so much power they can’t possibly gain anymore.

The difference is that those rich folks who use the Democratic Party as a vehicle to control the mechanisms of government and to profit via those mechanisms, have lost influence. Think Warren Buffett, George Soros, Bill Gates and other Democratic Party billionaires. Their rivals who control the Republican Party will gain influence at their expense.

Those Republican billionaires include Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump, Charles and David Koch, hedge fund managerz Paul Singer and Robert Mercer, and a lot of other Wall Street investors.

Together, the billionaire Democrats and billionaire Republicans form a kind of good old boy network with some rivalries among them. They also control the media in such a way as to ensure we don’t see this, although it’s pretty obvious.

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20150224_problemThe financial collapse of 2008 was the worst recession since the Great Depression. Give President Obama and his administration credit for saving the economy from the depredations of Wall Street despite massive Republic resistance to resuscitating it, which they did solely for political gain. However, this historically weak recovery masks a startling reality.

Only one perpetrator of Wall Street crimes was ever brought to justice, and he wasn’t a big figure in the massive corruption going on. In March 2009, Obama met with Wall Street leaders and said, “I stand between you and the pitchforks. I am on your side and I will protect you.”

Only one banker from that era was prosecuted. That was Bernie Madoff, and the only reason he was carted off to prison was because he stole from rich people. And not one other Wall Street criminal executive went to jail after stealing billions via fraud, money laundering of Mexican drug cartel profits, and numerous other crimes. Many became his financial advisers, which meant Obama pursued policies to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent for eight long years.

At all times, Obama refused to bite the hand that funded his past, present and future, as well as funding much of the Republican and Democratic Parties. In other words, Obama was largely, if not completely, in the back pocket of Wall Street as were President Bill Clinton, both President’s Bush, Ronald Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Wall Street Senator’s Ron Wyden, Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch.

Obama operated in a cesspool corruption. He was part of the problem, not the solution.

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Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This is the second in a series of the accomplishments and the worst of President Obama. Click here for Part 1.

1. Obama normalized relations with Cuba after sixty years of trade embargo. Now Cuba can upgrade its economy, and the US has a new trading partner. There are a ton of people who opposed this move, but those are the same corporate hacks who support exporting US jobs to Mexico, China, Vietnam and elsewhere. I had a friend a long time ago who said he opposed the Vietnam War. This was back in 1980 or so. “If we hadn’t gone in there,” he said, “they’d be capitalists by now.”

2. Obama authorized the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. He announced the terrorist leader’s death in a live speech to the country saying, “Last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action and authorized an operation to get Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice.” The Republican president before Obama was such an incompetent he couldn’t figure out where Bin Laden was, much less kill him.

3. He helped stimulate the auto industry after the financial crisis. Chrysler and GM have created 250,000 jobs since then. Of course, many of these new jobs are in Mexico.

4. He signed the Dodd-Frank Act, which holds Wall Street accountable a little bit in the event of another financial crisis. In reality, the Dodd-Frank Act doesn’t regulate hedge funds even a little, and the act was heavily watered down by Wall Street lobbyists. So Dodd-Frank wasn’t much of anything, except that it included a provision for the establishment of the Consumer Protection Agency, which Wall Street executives and billionaire investors feared because it meant they couldn’t cheat and lie to the common folk as easily as before.

5. Obama backed down like a whipped dog when Wall Street billionaires and executives demanded he not appoint Elizabeth Warren to head the new Consumer Protection Agency. This turned out to be a good thing, even if by accident. Warren later became a US senator and is likely to be the next president of the United States in 2020.

Among Obama’s worst decisions:

He appointed Arne Duncan to be US Secretary of Education. Duncan is a firm believer in using every child possible to enhance the profits of the testing industry, especially Pearson Limited, a long time financial sponsor of the Democratic Party. When Duncan announced his resignation the president of the AFT teachers union said, “there’s no question that the Department of Education’s fixation on charter schools and high-stakes testing has not worked.” US K-12 public education students are the most tested in the world, and by a wide margin. It’s all about the money folks, that’s what US educational reform means. Obama’s education policy was a complete, or nearly complete, failure.

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Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Official portrait of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012.

President Obama was no Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but he did take office during an economic crisis greater than any since the Great Depression, a mess helped along by the worst and one of the most corrupt presidents of all time, George W. Bush. I don’t consider Obama to be a great president. I don’t think we’ve had one since Harry Truman. That being said, I think he’ll be remembered fondly even though he was largely a puppet of Wall Street.

1. Obama actually accomplished quite a bit despite the fact the Republican Party leadership fought against almost everything he wanted tooth and nail even if it meant sending the United States down the tubes. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said, “Our top political priority over the next two years is to deny President Obama a second term.”

2, Got us out of the illegal and costly occupation of Iraq.

3. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). This became the first time in US history the government could tax us for not buying something, which is not a good sign since now the government can tax you on anything you choose to not purchase. This legislation also drove up health care costs for everybody, increased deductibles and co-pays.

3. Ended the trade embargo against Iran, which put Iranian oil back on the market and helped drive down the cost of oil and gasoline.

4. Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so for seven years, creating 12 million new private-sector jobs. However, it should be pointed out that on a per month basis this growth was worst than that which occurred under President Jimmy Carter. On the other hand, monthly job growth of all of the presidents since Carter have been worst than what happened under Jimmy.

Worst Action?

Along with Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, President Obama continuously groveled at the feet of Wall Street and other big corporate executives, which is why he mightily tried to secretly ram through the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Obama promised an open and honest administration, but he was extremely secretive about the TPP, most likely because it would’ve exported millions of US jobs and redistributed trillions of dollars from working folks to Wall Street and other corporate executives and rich shareholders.

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