After stock market shocks and the housing bubble, social security more vital than ever before. But the money men hate it.
By Dean Baker
October 25, 2012 | AlterNet
If you're serious about reducing abortion, the most important issue is not which abortions to ban. The most important issue is how will you support women to have the babies they want.As a general rule, societies that do the most to support mothers and child-bearing have the fewest abortions. Societies that do the least to support mothers and child-bearing have more abortions.[...] Abortion is a product of poverty and maternal distress.
Why is [the EU's] fiscal consolidation so much more damaging now? Under normal circumstances a tightening in fiscal policy would also lead to a relaxation in monetary policy. However, with interest rates already at exceptionally low levels, this is unlikely or infeasible. Moreover, during a downturn, when unemployment is high and job security low, a greater percentage of households and firms are likely to find themselves liquidity constrained. Finally, with all countries consolidating simultaneously, output in each country is reduced not just by fiscal consolidation domestically, but by that in other countries, because of trade. In the EU, such spillover effects are likely to be large.[...] The result of coordinated fiscal consolidation is a rise in the debt-GDP ratio of approximately five percentage points.
But it's still odd that [Obama] would focus so intently on that one point [Glass-Steagall], given that the president himself proposed and supported a sort of new version of Glass-Steagall, called the Volcker Rule. Almost all the pro-reform voices I know on Wall Street and in Washington liked the original version of the Volcker rule, and many would have been content to forget about Glass-Steagall forever had the original version of the Volcker Rule that President Obama himself supported actually made it through to become law.But it didn't. Instead, the Volcker rule was gutted from within by members of both parties during the Dodd-Frank negotiations, and as we reported on several occasions, it was Geithner and the Obama administration that were particularly aggressive in scaling it back behind closed doors. That was what we criticized the president for – not so much for failing to reinstate Glass-Steagall, but for allowing his own policy proposal to be punched so full of holes that it would never be an effective law.Years after the passage of Dodd-Frank, even the critically-weakened version of the Volcker rule that did ultimately pass is still not officially federal law, its implementation recently delayed again until at least 2014.
The repeal of Glass-Steagall was just part of the decades-long deregulatory effort that led to this toxic situation. Another Clinton-era law, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, contributed to it as well, by completely deregulating the market for derivatives (which were used to package all of those mortgages, were a major contributor to the collapse of AIG, and also played a huge role in the Jefferson County, Alabama disaster, among other things). Supreme Court decisions allowing interstate bank mergers where before they had been prohibited helped create the Wachovias and WaMus of the world. And a 2004 SEC decision to lift restrictions on leverage for the country's biggest investment banks allowed companies like Lehman to borrow forty dollars or more for every one they actually had.Collectively, these and other policies created a market where banks were over-large, capital was lethally overconcentrated in the hands of a few huge firms, financial companies were all leveraged to the moon and the fates of federal insurance programs like the FDIC were suddenly tied to the gambling habits of some of the riskiest investment banks in the world. It wasn't just Glass-Steagall – it was Glass-Steagall plus all of this other stuff that made the world so dangerous.So the first and most critical goal of any reform-minded administration should have been to alleviate these dangers by making things less concentrated, i.e. by making Too-Big-To-Fail companies small enough to fail. And Obama really didn't do that, on any front.
Finally, Obama had a chance to physically reduce the size of Too-Big-To-Fail companies by supporting the Brown-Kaufman amendment to Dodd-Frank, which would have forced big banks to cap deposits and liabilities to under 10% of GDP. He didn't support that amendment and it died.
"This is a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party," said Brad Barker, president of Halo Corp, a security firm hosting the Oct. 31 training demonstration during the summit at a 44-acre Paradise Point Resort island on a San Diego bay. "Everything that will be simulated at this event has already happened, it just hasn't happened all at once on the same night. But the training is very real, it just happens to be the bad guys we're having a little fun with."Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.
1) Seek "safe" haven in unstable countries (the irony is the more dangerous the country, the safer al Qaeda and other flag-less militants are there), and further destabilize these countries with their terrorist attacks;2) Tempt the U.S. to put troops in these unstable countries so that the Islamist militants can take pot shots at them.
There’s still the question of how deep the slump will be. I can see the case for arguing that it will be nasty. The 1990-91 recession was brought on by a credit crunch, the 2001 recession by overinvestment; this time we’ve got both. I guess we’ll see. In any case, whatever happens will probably last quite a while.
Bigger picture now: The essence of religious monotheism is that everything comes from one God, which naturally leaves humans befuddled when “Bad things happen to good people.” The faithful nevertheless persevere in their faith, believing that God is unknowable to human minds. This is the essence, for example, of the Book of Job, which I felt compelled to reread this afternoon. (It is a deeply disturbing story precisely because it raises these fundamental issues about the nature of God, good and evil, etc.) Suffice it to say the last place to delve into these matters is a U.S. Senate debate two weeks before the election.No one has to believe this. Many people don’t. That is why it is better left out of political campaigns. (Repeat: [Richard] Mourdock will and should pay a price for this.) But Mourdock does believe this. No one who knows him or has interviewed him doubts that he’s a sincerely religious person. He was not expressing a lack of sympathy with rape victims (hence the term “horrible situation”).
“God creates life, and that was my point. God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that He does. Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick.”
"Let's get to the point where the amount we import from rogue or potentially rogue nations who might be hostile to us is down to a point where, if suddenly that supply was interrupted or shut off, we go right on."
Increased energy security on the supply side, however, does not mean energy independence on the economic side. A smaller share of the oil we use in the U.S. comes from foreign sources today than was the case a decade ago. But an increase in the world oil price has left U.S. consumers paying more at the gas pump and reminded them of their continued dependence on market events beyond White House control.