Archive for November 2nd, 2009

Dylan Ratigan asks why Tim Geithner still has a job

| November 2, 2009 | 2 Replies
Dylan Ratigan asks why Tim Geithner still has a job

In a succinct and powerful video, Dylan Ratigan wonders why Tim Geithner still is our Treasury Secretary. Senator Maria Cantwell, who makes an appearance on this video, wonders this too, calling Geithner’s job performance “appalling.” I agree. It’s time for Obama to start fresh while we are not in crisis mode. He can do this without starting a panic by saying something like, “We thank Mr. Geithner for his service getting us through this crisis.” But then, by all means, throw the bum out and let’s pick an honest outsider (not another Goldman Sachs alum) to lead the way. Am I being harsh when I say “bum”? Nope . . . I’m being restrained. Geithner should be taking the time to use the mass media to teach common people what went wrong, how we can avoid it happening again, and explaining exactly where our public tax dollars have gone. Because he refuses to do any of this, and he refuses to be an powerful advocate for taxpayers, he should step aside. It is clear that he doesn’t understand who he is supposed to represent.

If I were to speak more bluntly, I would say that Tim Geithner is committing a fraud on the U.S. public. Here are the words of Robert Johnson, former economist at the Senate Banking Committee and the Senate Budget Committee

[Geithner] speaks as though they’re doing very comprehensive reform. Unfortunately, in the United States, one of the reasons we had the bubble and the crisis was because we have a broken political system, where campaign money, lobbying influence of the financial sector is enormous, and it created bad regulations, bad laws. I’m going back into the Reagan period, Bush the senior, particularly the Clinton era. We’ve made a mess, and now we come back from a crisis where the population knows darn well what a mess we’ve made. But the problem is, at this point, the people in power, the moneyed interests are still in power. And a large portion of these reforms are either cosmetic or designed by the industry and quite ineffective. . .

Ground Zero, the San Andreas Fault of our financial system, where it blew up last time, was in the intersection between “too big to fail” firms and over-the-counter derivatives and that these derivatives need to be put on exchanges, because they’re too complex, and when they’re combined with the “too big to fail” firms, which have a 95 percent market share in OTC derivatives, five banks, that it can create a situation, like we were talking about moments ago, where Citibank could not be restructured. The spider web of positions in derivatives is so complex and so entangled that it deters policy officials from being able to put them through restructuring, because they’re afraid of what kind of spin-offs and consequences will happen. I spoke about the credit default swap market and the illusion of safety that those credit default swap contracts created when they’re unregulated, because everybody thought AIG was going to be able to pay the bill, but they weren’t, and then the taxpayer got to provide that capital.

It’s also time for Cantwell and her Senate colleagues to quit blaming Treasury for failing to lead the way. Congress has the power to make laws; it should should pass the necessary laws to close the “loopholes” she finds so appalling.

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Thinking through global warming

| November 2, 2009 | 4 Replies
Thinking through global warming

Greg Craven argues that we should “choose columns” rather than “guess rows” when thinking through global climate change:

This lecture seems to amount to a “Pascal’s Wager” of GCC.

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