Posts Tagged ‘economics’

The trailer for the new Charles Ferguson documentary, Inside Job, looks great. The movie, which is narrated by Matt Damon, looks at the causes behind the 2008 economic meltdown, i.e. the financial deregulation that began with Reagan, the insatiable greed on Wall Street and the complicity of federal regulators who turned a blind eye to Wall Street’s reckless behavior. The movie had a limited opening this past weekend.

The documentary, which a group of critics voted the best film at the 2010 Cannes film festival, was also praised by Roger Ebert, who called it a “devastating” indictment of Wall Street:

It is a very angry, very carefully argued, brutally clear documentary about how the American financial industry set out deliberately to defraud the ordinary American investor. It was directed by Charles Ferguson (below), whose academic, business and government backgrounds make him unusually well-qualified for this subject. The remorseless narration is by Matt Damon.

Here is the argument of the film, in four sentences. From Roosevelt until Reagan, the American economy enjoyed 40 years of stability, prosperity and growth. Beginning with Reagan’s moves against financial regulation, that sound base has been progressively eroded. The crucial federal error (in administrations of both parties) was to allow financial institutions to trade on their own behalf. Today many large trading banks are betting against their own customers.


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Today’s Flickr Photo


Activists in Antipolo City, Philippines take part in the 10/10/10 climate action event. Flickr photo by 350.0rg.


If you read one thing today . . .

It’s appropriate that on Columbus Day we turn our attention to one of the islands in the New World that the explorer “discovered.” Bill Quigley’s article in Truthout is a stark reminder that nine months after the earthquake in Haiti, there are more than a million people still living on the streets, many of them dying from starvation. Quigley writes:

There is no food. The children are terribly hungry. The food aid program was terminated in April and nothing took its place. The authorities cut off the food so people would leave the camps, but where is there to go?

Water is hard to find. For the people in Petion park, water is delivered by truck to a central site a block or two away in the middle of several camps. Thousands of people line up twice a day to get water before it runs out. In another camp we visited Sunday, Camp Kasim, there was no water at all for hundreds of families and none scheduled to be delivered until Monday at the earliest. Boys and girls surged around a pipe several blocks away trying to capture some water in Oxfam marked buckets.


Sen. Richard Shelby on why he is blocking the nomination of economist Peter Diamond to join the board of the Federal Reserve (That’s the same Peter Diamond who today won the Nobel Prize in economics):

“I do not believe he’s ready to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board,” Shelby said, “I do not believe that the current environment of uncertainty would benefit from monetary policy decisions made by board members who are learning on the job.”

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Last week, Public Citizen and several of its coalition partners held a news conference  in support of a tax on financial speculation. The tax is a very small levy on financial short-term transactions, which will curb excessive speculation by big banks, but with a minimal impact on long-term investors. The tax could raise more than $100 billion year for the U.S. Treasury. You can see the entire news conference in the videos above and below. Or you can visit our YouTube page to see clips of the individual speakers.  (more…)

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Earlier this week, Public Citizen, along with the Center for Economic Policy Research and WallStreetWatch.org, hosted a panel debate on the pros and cons of a speculation tax on financial services. We’ve called for such a tax as an important reform needed to rein in Wall Street’s reckless behavior. Now, bills before Congress would create the tax as a way to raise as much as $100 billion a year in revenue, while also deterring the harmful churning of stocks and financial instruments.

In the video above, economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, discusses why we need a speculation tax. To view the entire debate, which also included Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, University of Massachusetts economist Robert Pollin, Gerogetown University Professor Jim Angel and George Sauter, Vanguard Group’s managing director and chief investment officer, visit our Vimeo page.

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More than a year after the onset of the financial crisis, three things are apparent: Congress has not passed any financial reform legislation (except for credit card rules); the more time passes, the more Wall Street objects to the prospect of any meaningful controls of its operations; and the legislation that has so far progressed in Congress is not commensurate with the scale of the crisis Wall Street caused.

Today, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) kick starts the regulatory reform process in the Senate. We are particularly pleased that he has proposed a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA), with powers to monitor practices of small banks and a strong role for states to go beyond the federal regulatory floor to protect their citizens. A strong CFPA would have protected consumers from the predatory loans and abusive practices of the past decade – and, thereby, lessened the severity of the financial crisis.

We look forward to working with Chairman Dodd and members of the Senate to adopt the strong regulations needed to rein in Wall Street abuses. We know, of course, that Wall Street and the big banks will leverage their (more…)

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If you are a fan of deep discussions about financial policy and international market forces, then you’ll want to check out this video from a panel discussion held last week at Public Citizen’s offices in Washington, D.C. The panel focused on the International Monetary Fund’s role during the global financial crisis and included Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, Mark Weisbrot, co-cirector of the Center for Economic Policy Research, James Roaf of the IMF, Asia Russell, the director of Health GAP and Jo Marie Griesgraber, executive director of the New Rules for Global Finance Coalition. (more…)

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Hear that thud? That’s the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s new advertising campaign hitting the brick wall of skepticism. Steven Pearlstein in the WaPo isn’t buying it:

The Campaign for Free Enterprise, of course, is not really about creating 20 million jobs over the next decade — if Chamber members could double their profits while creating not a single new job, that would suit them just fine. Rather, it’s nothing more than a desperate attempt to repackage the same old anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-government rhetoric in hopes of derailing the major initiatives of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress.

Economist Simon Johnson at the Baseline Scenario says (more…)

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Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch program, talks about what’s at stake at the G-20 economic summit to be held Thursday and Friday in Pittsburgh, Pa. Public Citizen was one of the many groups that wrote to President Obama last week, urging him to “advocate a global regulatory floor, and oppose any efforts to impose a ceiling” on re-regulation in the upcoming G-20 Summit.

You can prep for the G-20 over at the Public Citizen Web page.

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Over the past few days, we have witnessed Congress readying to approve possibly the most reckless and certainly the most costly bailout in this country’s history. The speed at which the government is leaping to aid Wall Street titans and their accomplices in the financial services sector is breathtaking. Taxpayers should be alarmed at the unfathomable price tag, which they are being told they must pay and which itself is a guesstimate. They also should balk at the scope of the proposed bailout, which includes not just mortgage instruments but all financial service companies, including foreign companies. Today, Public Citizen and Consumer Watchdog outline provisions that must be in any bailout package – if one is approved. These are designed to protect taxpayers’ wallets, cut off opportunities for corruption and defend against future economic misbehavior. (more…)

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