Ireland bailout saves the bankers

“We are screwed because of the wrongdoing of others.” – Speaker in Irish Parliament

Our current financial mess won’t end until bailing out companies and countries with hundreds of billions by governments to protect bonds and loans (and making the public pay for it) is replaced by those entities instead defaulting and forcing the banksters to take a serious hit on the garbage investments they knowingly made.

National Ransom. Elvis Costello

Excerpt from National Ransom, the title track from Elvis Costello’s latest.

They’re running wild
Just like some childish tantrum
Meanwhile we’re working every day
Paying off the National Ransom
Woe betide all this hocus-pocus
They’re running us ragged at
their first attempt
Around the time the killing stopped on Wall St.
You couldn’t hold me, baby with anything but contempt

Letters peal slowly from our speech
The claxton attempts to preach
Stretching for stars still out of reach
Outside someone’s wailing

They’re running wild
Just like some childish tantrum
Meanwhile we’re working every day
Paying off the National Ransom

Doug Henwood interview by Christian Parenti

Henwood is an economist / author who regularly gets quoted on economic matters in Alan Ableson’s column in Barron’s and also runs the hard left LBO-Talk listserv.

Excerpts from the interview in The Brooklyn Rail.

Henwood: I didn’t expect a massive transformation from Obama. I knew he had a lot of support in Wall Street and is not the kind of guy to rock the boat. He’s not going to expropriate the expropriators. But, with Wall Street in such disgrace, people around the world and across the political spectrum think that Wall Street and its allies in other countries had a lot to do with wrecking the economy. Obama could have moved aggressively to re-regulate and create a more stable, public-spirited financial sector… So the bankers walked all over Obama. I didn’t expect much, but I did expect a little more.

Rail: Why do you think the bankers won?

Henwood: There are two parts to that. The longer term structural issue is that Wall Street, the financial system, is basically a mechanism for the creation and exercise of ruling class power. It is the heart of the capitalist economic and social system. So taking on Wall Street is very, very complicated.

Rail: What is your take on the role of the green economy, or green technology, green investment, a re-tooling of capitalism within the possibilities and parameters of American and global capitalism?

Henwood: If we don’t have some sort of new leading sector, we have a long period of a very stagnant and troubled economy ahead of us. And I think there’s very good reason to believe that some sort of green technology could do that. It could preserve life on earth, presuming that we want to do that, but it could also generate a long term economic boom that would transform daily life and create whole new dynamic economic sectors, dynamic technologies that would lead to long-term growth in incomes and employment. Without that, I don’t see what’s going to do that, and it’s going to take a dynamic public sector to encourage that.

Obama starts jawboning


the use of public appeals (as by a president) to influence the actions especially of business and labor leaders

Obama denies bailout funds to automakers

The White House says neither GM or Chrysler submitted an acceptable plan. The GM CEO has resigned effective immediately after Obama requested he do so.

It appears the government will perform triage and not attempt to save Chrysler.

Chrysler is an almost purely domestic company that has passed through several ownership changes and is not viable as a standalone company. It was “never in position to pay down its debt.”

Obama to bankers: “Show some restraint”

“Clearly, the president said: ‘Look you can help me by helping yourselves and moderating this behavior and bringing scale to this and making sense out of it so the administration doesn’t have to step in.'”

His implied threat to the bankers is obvious.

The men he didn’t like. Will Rogers speech to bankers in 1923

From Harpers Magazine, Dec. 2008, who says “By Will Rogers, from a recording released May 31, 1923, by Victor Records. The origins of the speech are unknown; Rogers may have been speaking before the annual convention of the American Bankers Association in 1922, in New York City. The document is included in The Papers of Will Rogers, Volume Four, published by the University of Oklahoma Press.”

Loan sharks and interest hounds—I have addressed every form of organized graft in the United States, excepting Congress, so it’s naturally a pleasure for me to appear before the biggest. You are without a doubt the most disgustingly rich audience I ever talked to, with the possible exception of the bootleggers’ union, Local No. 1, combined with the enforcement officers.

Now, I understand that you hold this convention every year to announce what the annual gyp will be. I have often wondered where the depositors hold their convention. I had an account in the bank once, and the banker, he asked me to withdraw it. He said I had used up more red ink than the account was worth.

I see where your convention was opened by a prayer, you had to send outside your ranks to get somebody that knew how to pray. You should have had one creditor there; he’d have shown you how to pray. I noticed in the prayer the clergyman announced to the Almighty that the bankers were here. Well, it wasn’t exactly an announcement. It was more in the nature of a warning. He didn’t tell the devil, as he figured he knew where you all were all the time anyhow.

I see by your speeches that you’re very optimistic of the business conditions of the coming year. Boy, I don’t blame you. If I had your dough, I’d be optimistic too.

Will you please tell me what you all do with the vice presidents the bank has? I guess that’s to get anybody more discouraged before they can see the main guy. Why, the United States is the biggest business institution in the world. They got only one vice president. Nobody’s ever found anything for him to do.

You have a wonderful organization. I understand you have 10,000 here, and what you have in federal prisons brings your membership up to around 30,000. So goodbye, paupers. You’re the finest bunch of shylocks that ever foreclosed a mortgage on a widow’s home.