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Alex Baer

Wall Street: Occupying Our Thoughts

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A postscript regarding eyebrow-raising news from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas:  It was news that said we'd best break down those megabanks that are too big to fail, lest the whole economy get sucked in and squashed when they topple again.  Imagine that, a conservative regional bank saying what regular folks have been saying -- for how many years, again?

The temptation is strong to say something snide here, such as, "What? No honor among thieves?" but we will do all we can to rein in that urge. Instead, we will simply agree it's asking for trouble, keeping more than half of the nation's banking assets in just five institutions.  The Dallas Fed agreed, adding those megabanks not only prolonged and amplified the 2008 crash, but have also been squarely hindering the recovery.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 April 2012 17:19

The World as Ante: Quite a Pot!

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In poker, when bluffing is not an option, and you're holding a very weak hand, folding is the most graceful and expedient way to bow out.  Keep hoping our global luck holds out with nuclear power plants, lest they get so maniacally sideways they force our entire species to fold.

Some countries are on a good path:  Germany has announced plans to abandon nuclear power in ten years.  Japan's faster, shutting down its last plant next month after people there declared they'd had enough radioactive fun to last them a few lifetimes.  The Japanese have taken the high road:  The only people atom-bombed in war, they are now trying hard to not return the sick favor, not spray radiation back on us all.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 April 2012 16:35

Wonders Never Cease

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The Dallas Federal Reserve is echoing the thoughts repeatedly spoken by frustrated observers in all categories:  Too big to fail is simply too big to let survive.

If the biggest U.S. banks are not broken up, so they say, taxpayers will again be stuck with the tab on another gigantic bailout.

You may remember that the most recent round of carefully-engineered, bubble-and-burst spree of capitalist greed and freewheeling casino-ism, cost taxpayers 180 billions of dollars by some estimates --3.5 trillions of dollars by other estimates, all costs included.

The S & L crisis that dogged us in the days of Reagan, in the 80s and 90s, says the nonpartisan GAO, will cost half a trillion dollars before it is fully wound down -- however, that estimate was made some time ago.  As always:  loss estimates are fluid when dealing in liquid assets -- how much can bankers cart off in their thievery, versus, how much, if any, did they spill, on the run, sloshing their way outside?

Sounds like the Dallas Fed -- one of the most conservative of the regional banks, says economist and author Robert Reich -- are themselves finally seeing the invisible handwriting come clear on the wall, and can now see what we have all been looking at in horror all this time.

Among the many wonders suddenly not ceasing to be, is this one, written by Reich at his blog post:  "Taxpayers will be on the hook for another giant Wall Street bailout, and the economy won't be mended, unless the nation's biggest banks are broken up.  That's not just me talking, or the Occupiers movement, or that wayward executive who resigned from Goldman Sachs a few weeks ago.  It's the conclusion of the Dallas Federal Reserve."

Joyce Hanson at AdvisorOne wrote, "According to the 34-page report, the financial institutions that amplified and prolonged the 2008 crash continue to hinder not only the recovery but the very ideal of American capitalism."

The best hope for the U.S. economy is "breaking up the nation's biggest banks into smaller units," says the Dallas Fed in its recently released annual report, "Choosing the Road to Prosperity:  Why We Must End Too Big to Fail -- Now."

Prosperity: There's a word not usually bandied around.  It was a popular word during the financier-and-bank-triggered Great Depression, the word holding out a morsel of hope to ravaged Americans trashed by its own banking system -- one allowing clawing, rampaging greed by a few at the very top.

As the Dallas Fed notes, "More than half of banking industry assets are on the books of just five institutions."  Sound like a healthy country, or a booming, free-market system we always hear being touted around?

Too big to fail is absolutely too big to keep propped up -- too big to keep hoping easy-money swindlers and scam artists in suits won't push over again in their race to the dining table and trough, pursuing their usual, single-minded, feeding-frenzy of unbridled greed.

Nice to spot the Dallas Fed opening its eyes, and now seeing the same mayhem and danger the rest of us have been seeing for a very, very long time.

Wonders never cease.


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 April 2012 18:47

Swimming Lessons for Dog Paddlers

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Good thing we evolved a sense of humor.  It's one of the few abilities we have to keep our heads from fusing into a solid mass, helping abort a sort of core-meltdown from ingesting too much stress and anguish, from having too-heavy a heavy-metal pedal on our national vanities and insanities.

Best advice, aside from music, when that scary alarm goes off in your head, threatening a core breach, find something to smile about, fast:  scare up some toothsome, mental-health treats, pack your hot circuit breakers in dry ice, spring for some cool ones with and for your endorphins.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 April 2012 18:36

The Desire to Remain Sane

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As in the David Sipress cartoon, we walk the razor's edge barefoot every day, a very delicate and daring sequence of dance steps, as described in pen and ink here:  A man and a woman clad in business wear are walking down a town street, with the woman saying to the goggle-eyed and startled-attention man beside her, "My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane."

Perhaps you can relate.  This same thought keeps popping up here, in growing thought-balloons hovering overhead.  I bump into these constantly, getting up to go get more coffee.  It's like brushing up against a bank of ice-fog: chilling ice-crystals suspended in mid-air.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 April 2012 18:46

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