This is my editorial page of sorts,|
consider it a Forward Command Post,
devoted to helping run a champaign to pass legislation in the U.S. Congress to reestablish
the Glass-Steagall Firewall in the Banking System. H.R.1489
May 26, 2011
HBO: TOO BIG TO FAIL
A few days prior to my sitting and writing out this little essay I became
aware of a scheduled showing of a HBO special called TOO BIG TO FAIL. I was
impressed by the hub-bub this show was generating so I stayed up late and viewed
the program and found it very entertaining. I do not mean that it a snide way,
it is a serious subject. What I enjoyed most I think is that the actors involved
demonstrated some sufficient competence in dealing with the subject matter,
equivalent to what I think is reasonably expected of the general public. For
clarity, the HBO program is not complete, there is much more to tell. The actors
in dealing with the development of their characters learned more of value in that process than
they would have had they matriculated an MBA curriculum at university or
business school. There are indeed some half truths and particular damage control
aspects in the show sufficient to cry fowl, cover up continues etc.
Comment at FierceReason
June 2, 2011
What is the moral of the story? The danger remains, TARP solved nothing, what occurred was a sequence of stop gap measures, each called into place because the previous was insufficient, what comes after QE2, to big to fail can happen again! Moreover it can be justifiably stated that the whole mess was a swindle. If we wish to continue the questions beyond the context of the HBO show we can, where are the jobs, will the foreclosures ever stop, are we prepared to handle what comes next? From where I sit I see that the willingness to tolerate a such thing as derivatives in the first place underscores the incompetence of of all those involved, unless you want to say it is all deliberate in which case then you have to come to grips with their being pure evil, the Banksters I mean. The drama of the HBO special helps us grapple with this, is it an either or distinction, we can look at the human element, poor Hank he did his best etc., what is it in these people's heads that keeps them from thinking outside the box even as they believe they are thinking outside the box but failing. Failing in the sense that nothing is really solved just postponed! That is if you believe the story line, if not then you must admit that their efforts were a great success, for them I mean.
The time scope of TOO BIG TO FAIL spans from the outset of the "mortgage meltdown" as it hammered Bear Sterns up to the passing of the second round of TARP legislation and the cash infusion with preferred stock purchases of the large banks. Can you agree that my description of this sequence period as the tip of the iceberg be nothing less than an understatement? I think this is a well placed metaphor because it is meant to focus the eye on the unseen, exactly what we want to discuss. There are lots of names to throw about, shadow banking, the most popular, I'm guessing. Broadening the scope would require that many things be brought into the light so to speak, all that crazy lingo, when they say mark up don't they really mean mark down. Thing like this have the potential to truly waste our time but one thing we could spend our time on well is to define Value. I trust you will discovery why I deem this important that I bring it up first; a list of terms.
Delving into the way Wall St. defines value may require a strong stomach. Many variations of perceived value should be added to this list and I propose it useful that we team up and take a stab at debunking them one by one. For now I wish to use the idea of value to get at something else of great importance.
Consider the Farmer, ,, no consider yourself a Farmer, you work, you get results to your benefit, your produce. The work you do has a value because of it's result, it keeps you alive. Food is food after all. Suppose you wanted to make a living as a Train Robber, the work you do has a value directly relative to the result you get, but its a crap shoot isn't it? You may get killed, no profit there, you may kill others then your a wanted man not just for train robbin' that has a cost. You may get a lot of loot and not have to rob a train ever again, or you get just enough to get by for a specific period of time and your work, if you can call it that, has value to you relative to the time that goes by before you feel the need to bust a train again. Let's not forget, one more possible case, everything could go right but there were only poor people on the train that day and all you effort is for nothing, wasted your time. What value does your work have then? Ok, go back to being a Farmer, that is a gamble too in many ways, there are costs and ROI can fluctuate year by year, I get that but there is a specific difference between the two. Do you see it, the only real distinction? Regardless of how successful (or not) the Train Robber is there are only inputs and output for he himself. He never creates a thing extra or causes anything extra to come into existence. The Farmer on the other hand can reap a plenty more than he himself can use.
The central issue I hope you would examine is the distinction between
Physical profit and Monetary (fiscal) profit. One keeps you alive the other does
not. At the beginning of an undertaking one could take account of the resources
available to do the job and after a measurable segment of the process one could
again take account. To be clear I do not mean a statistical analysis but rather a
study of a dynamic process gaged by the intent involved and informed by intent
of what to measure and how to measure it. If then after the completion of a
portion of an endeavor one could measure an increase in money but yet a
decrease in FOOD, WATER, ENERGY it can be said what did we win? What can we buy
now that there is less of the things we want even though we have more money to
buy it with? This is not an over simplification but a principle that helps us
have clarity about what we want to measure and what measuring sticks we are
going to employ to determine if we have success in reaching the goal.
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June 15, 2011
Thus far we have introduced several interconnected notions, the first being the agreed estimate that far too few Americans understand the events that lead to the 2008 Meltdown and far too few Americans know the truth about what occurred around the TARP episode in that it was an attempt of the swindlers to save themselves AS SWINDLERS. They (the swindlers) failed to remove the threat, if you believe they ever intended to. The point that the HBO Too Big To Fail tele-drama, while a cover up in itself, is a distinct BENCHMARK that represents a limited understanding of which no American Citizen can be allowed to claim ignorance to or to be let off the hook in the realm of civic responsibility for action is a useful focus. That to save the Nation in these days now the average American must achieve insight and competence far beyond the time frame of this silly TV show, regardless of how entertaining it is to see poor Hank twisting in the wind so dramatized. we seek your assistance in this. To what end? In the near term help the Average Joe, John and Joan Q. Public see the clear need for the reestablishment of the Glass-Steagall Firewall to stop the bleeding or take the poison out.
My request to you is fight now for Glass-Steagall. Might I start by suggesting that in the US, having a wealthy elite social sector is not a bad thing, provided we tolerate no Royalty and heredity transmission of public office, including the fascist counterpart. What is the great sin? Is it the gluttony, the lavish living etc., well I certainly do poke ridicule to the extravagances of some of that upper class, I reserve my disdain for something else. When those whom control of capital is bestowed, sometime rightfully as reward for their entrepreneurship, loose sight of the difference between investment in developing the productive capabilities of real life sustaining wealth, without which money of any form has no value, and the creation of DEBT bubbles that as attempts to monetize instruments of fictitious value commandeer the food from the infants mouth, that gets my heckles up. Kill people for financial aggrandizements, not the American way! Please entertain that this could be the theme that we use when engaging our fellow common man. The concept of value is on the table. We need to be clear about how we measure it, how we gauge it in comparison, and what is it that we esteem that we render value to a thing. Consider the following language usage and how the average Joe would make sense of it.
The (Merchant) banking (Investment) crowd on wall street lost their shirt in a gamble, the government bailed them out. It was made to seam that if they did not get a bailout we would have a disaster for our nations economy (Credit Freeze). One angle on this was that peoples fear of loosing their 401k assets were incited and and a freeze up of local commercial (Main Street, S&L) banking loomed. The pathway offered to avert this was to bail out the big guys, was this pathway the only possible pathway to avert the contrived consequences? Would we be better off if the parasites did not get the bailout? Let's be clear about what occurred, one set of failed promissory notes were replaced with another set of promissory notes. Put it another way, the nominal monetary value (negotiable) of a financial instrument holding ownership of debt obligation (income stream) defaulted (ability or willingness of debtor to pay, ceased) was retried and substituted with the creation and extension of a new financial instrument representing ownership of the income stream (future value) derived from public coffers which is just as unpayable (in the medium to long term) as the first debt and just as negotiable (or un-negotiable I should say) for monetary value (can be discounted). So, what has changed? We now have more useless debt than before, useless because it does not set in motion the creation of a physical profit. This is a precise recipe for hyperinflation.
How close can the average Joe come to stating a correct definition of Capitalism, probably not very close at all. My hunch is most are in the dark about it. For Joe's sake lets say there are two kinds of Capitalism, both involve risk and both involve reward just like the metaphor of the Farmer and the Train Robber. One kind of risk we want to encourage, the rewards impact many and challenges confront us as well, the good kind and risks are shared with consent. Another kind of risk is not encouraged as only a few gain from the exploitation of many. Often the rewards reaped are empty (of questionable value) and corrupting and the challenges brought to bear on people are not of the kind that bring out the best in them. Please team up with me to help Average Joe wise up and learn the things he needs to know. Below is a list of topics that I am inviting comments for.
Definition of Value
Farmers raise produce and stock of many varieties with intention for surplus that they can trade (profit). Some people, hopefully most, that are not farmers still do productive work and want a share in the common productivity by means of exchange (money). All who labor have value attributed to their labor on the basis of what it does for them, that is as close to a constant as you can get. The value of the Means of Exchange can change and the value of Movable (useful) Commodities can change. So we have three things of value (nouns) but we are more interested in the relationship between these things (verbs). Since one term in each the three ratios can change all values of relationship change! This is very much like Ohm's Law but not not exactly. I have value to my own labor as it is and its relationship to other things, my production and the potential surplus above what I need and can consume, whether it be raw material, finish product, art/science/facility, farm production/food. My labor relates to the value of the means of exchange as means of exchange relates to the value of the commodities it can make access. My labor relates to the value of my commodities at hand as commodities at hand relate to the means of exchange they can make access. In a community where means of exchange are unnecessary these extended ratio relationships do not exist.
Now we declare that (money) the means of exchange has NO INTRINSIC value in
and of itself, the commodities however retain their value relative to their
usefulness to support life! Money only has value in it's relation to labor or
commodity that has readiness to be exchanged. There are examples of availability
of money being different along the lines of trade where the values relative to
the commodity in transport changed according to means of exchange
accessibility, as with the Colonial American tokens engraved "value me as
you please". The commodity/labor ratio remained somewhat constant along the
transportation path as the commodity was cash cheep at the source but dear at
its destination, money could buy more further away from the hub of commerce.
Transportation costs were factored in to pricing by location, so we see that
means of exchange can have an additional value as a commodity. If transportation
costs or money availability become universal these relationships disappear. It
was this method of commerce combined with the impulse to internal improvements
that was the American free enterprise/fair trade that protectionism sought to
nurture and the perverted Free Trade of Adam Smith sought to destroy. The
destructive side of Capitalism utilizes Financial Instruments as ownership of an
income stream (debt payment) to commandeer away value in the accumulation of
Monetary Instruments while making no facility to physical improvement. The
Creative side of Capitalism extends a credit for a share of the reward and the
appropriate authority of oversight to build physical improvement thus
compensating the contributors of labor and materials as they contribute or ahead
of time of the benefit of the completed project.
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June 24, 2011
The question posed, were alternatives available to deal with the meltdown or at least with the crisis of credit freeze? Yes there were, and steps could have been taken well in advance of the September 2008 period. The best pathway to deal with the total problem would have been and still is a bankruptcy receivership, chapter 13 style reorganization. In this kind of process no new debt is created to replace defaulted debt. A class of assets are partitioned aside and protected at face value. Another class of assets set apart are protected at a discounted value, determined by the bankruptcy process itself, that is what receivership is all about, save what can be saved. Certain other classes of assets wont be saved, they are written off, they are toxic. A person diagnosed with a dysfunctional kidney is prescribed dialysis to do a job that the overstressed kidney at that moment can't do. They gambled they lost, that's that, why should anyone else suffer. During this process working capital is provided for the interim as extended credit by Congress directly from the Treasury to allow commercial activity to continue deemed wholesome, necessary or beneficial to the public good. Treasury loans to Commercial banks NOT from the Federal Reserve (further indebtedness the government) keeping main St. running with reasonable conditions of how the funds are utilized. I know this last bit gets attacked as the government playing favorites. Well from where I stand I want the government to make clear distinction between FOOD WATER, ENERGY type stuff and Tulip Bubble bull shit, that's the point of Glass-Steagall. I want my government to play favorites in this regard. Here is a point for discussion, FDIC and Glass-Steagall work hand and glove, how can you have one without the other and not call it a swindle?
The essential nut here is the we as a people have at our disposal an instrument called government, a new kind of government the world had not seen before, that is our vehicle to exert authority upon our means of exchange (sovereignty) to benefit the general welfare, by LAW. It is by law that our government take responsibility to safeguard and secure our currency on our common behalf as no other institution can . When an institution fails at this it ceases to be our government. In strict rules of Capitalism debt has a useful purpose, resources can be organized without robbing them from people, markers are distributed, monetary instruments can be created to facilitate the project non-fiat, and those that guaranty the monetary value of those instruments gain a reward or incur a loss. Hence those guarantors are afforded appropriate oversight as guarantors NOT as owners of an income stream of some sacred debt payments (pound of flesh).
Now is the time to make some homework assignments and I will direct you off site, first I would like you to read a 1729 essay by Benjamin Franklin on paper money. This is important for it is necessary for you to be acquainted with the predicament of them then that faced of with the same enemy we face today. Since the first airing of the HBO's Too Big To Fail others have surfaced to decorate the show with criticism, this one outlines the tv show plot and invites ridicule as you see fit. Lastly a short youtube post to help explain the feeding frenzy as it played out in housing.
The debt ceiling debate occurring now is not distinct from the Balanced Budget
Amendment push, both are an attack upon Sovereignty. Consider the head of a household
and their right to make Promissory note agreements. When he/she does so they do it
on behalf of the total household and all members receive the effect for better or worse,
the family does not operate by means of exchange. The head of household right to utter
currency (IOU's) is relinquished of citizens to Congress;
Comment at FierceReason
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Copyright © 2011 - Alain Lareau
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