Who Are The New Economic Wizards?

Here is a look at the Obama economic team–they are not, IMO, the saviors of the middle class, but a continuation of the Wall Street favoritism.

Geithner has been intimately involved in the federal bailout of the financial industry, working closely with Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke and current Treasury secretary Henry Paulson. It has been reported that Geithner was the principal architect behind the government-backed bailout of Bear Stearns, among other deals.

Before being appointed as president of the New York Fed, Geithner worked as a policy director for the International Monetary Fund and was a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a leading diplomatic think tank.  (read my post on the IMF and how it screws the people of a country in the name of capitalism)

The financial elite delivered its verdict on Geithner’s selection on Friday. When the Obama transition team leaked word of his selection, the markets rallied. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 494.13 points, or 6.5 percent. Geithner will be considered “Wall Street’s man” in the Obama administration.

Lawrence Summers, Obama’s selection to head the National Economic Council, was a leading economic official in the Clinton administration. As Treasury secretary, Summers became famous for using federal budget surpluses to pare down the national debt, even as Clinton slashed social spending.

Obama appears set to name Peter Orszag as director of the Office of Management and Budget. An economist with a PhD from the elite London School of Economics, Orszag has served as the director of the US Congressional Budget Office since January 2007. Previously he was a Senior Fellow at the liberal think tank the Brookings Institutution, and served in the Clinton administration as Senior Adviser on the Council of Economic Advisers.

Orszag is an advocate of revamping Social Security. He co-authored a book in 2004 called Saving Social Security: A Balanced Approach. In it, Orszag argues that a fundamental reason for the predicted insolvency of Social Security is that life expectancy “has risen by four years for men and five years for women since 1940,” “making benefits more valuable to recipients,” but more costly. To address this dilemma, Orszag advocated a combination of payroll and “benefits adjustments”—i.e., cuts in social security payments to retirees.

Jason Furman will likely serve as a senior economic adviser. Furman has expressed support for setting up private social security accounts and cutting benefits. Furman has headed the Brooking Institution’s Hamilton Project, an economic think tank founded by Robert Rubin.

A New York Times article on Monday, noted that Geithner, Summers, Orszag, and Furman are all protégés of Robert Rubin, whose advocacy of deregulation of financial institutions and markets has contributed to the current economic crisis. Rubin also played a leading role, as a senior adviser, in the policies adopted by Citigroup that have led it to the brink of ruin—and a second government bailout in two months

Appears that change is not coming to the economic team for Obama…these people are more of business as usual.  Sorry….if change was expected…then you will be sadly disappointed.  You think I am mistaken?  Then look at the markets when these appointments were laeked then announced….they shot up about 800 points…confidence on Wall Street that nothing will change…sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Why Don’t We Carpool?

After being skewered by Congress and lampooned on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” the CEOs of Detroit’s three automakers may end up making their return trip to Washington by car as they seek a federal bailout.

It is a little late to try and impress the Senators, theyt already have the idea that these guys are arrogant pricks.

The Detroit area’s auto industry, whose livelihood depends on the health of Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. spent the weekend e-mailing and discussing how to set up a giant car caravan to seek help from Congress.

What’s for certain is GM CEO Rick Wagoner won’t be going to Washington by corporate jet, although the company’s policy is not to comment on executive travel plans for security reasons, said spokesman Tony Cervone. A Chrysler spokeswoman wouldn’t comment on executive travel plans, and a message was left for a Ford spokesman.

The carpool idea came out of meetings on Friday at Dura Automotive Systems Inc., an auto parts maker in suburban Rochester Hills. President and CEO Tim Leuliette said that during the weekend they contacted the automakers, suppliers, dealership groups and the United Auto Workers and the movement began building.

The movement comes after last week’s disastrous hearings in front of two Congressional committees. Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Chrysler LLC CEO Robert Nardelli and GM’s Wagoner traveled to Washington on separate corporate jets to seek $25 billion in government loans to help them make it through the worst U.S. auto sales downturn in 25 years.

Many of the CEOs’ answers were vague, and it appeared as though they had no specific plan to change the way they do business in order to justify the bailout. Lawmakers have demanded restructuring plans by Dec. 2, with hearings to follow.

Maybe they should drive a Ford Festiva…..that would be a better way than to show up in a limo.

Name Your Baby After A Fascist

A far-right Italian party is offering 1,500 euros ($1,900) to parents who name their children after the fascist dictator Mussolini or his wife.

The small Movimento Sociale-Fiamma Tricolore (MS-FT) party denies its gesture is racist and says the names Benito and Rachele are merely “nice”.

The party also wants parents to buy cribs, clothes and food with the money.

The cash incentive is available in five areas of southern Italy and is designed to help the region’s low birth rate.

Together the names Benito and Rachele mean only one thing to Italians – they signify their former dictator and his wife.

But the party says the choice of names is what it called “purely casual”.

It says the move has no fascist or racist undertones, although it insists at least one parent is Italian.

Was It Worth It?

Back in September I posted about a British couple that got caught having sex on a beach in the UAE.  And now a follow up.

A British couple convicted of having sex on a beach in Dubai have been freed and ordered deported to the UK after their three-month prison sentence was suspended.

The ruling, issued by Dubai’s court of appeal, marks a hard-fought victory for Michelle Palmer, 36, of Rutland, and Vince Acors, 34, of southeast London, who have been on bail since their July 5 arrest on Jumeirah Beach.

“This decision shows the law in the United Arab Emirates is just. Judges are not swayed by the media, they are swayed by the evidence,” he said.

Sources told The Times that the court’s climbdown from its original conviction stemmed from inconsistencies from the prosecution’s key witness, Ali Mohamed Yacoub – the police officer who arrested the couple after they’d spent the day drinking at a champagne brunch.

The court’s decision today marks a departure from the six years behind bars that the couple could have potentially faced for having sex outside marriage, public indecency and drunkenness.

Would not the price of a hooker been a lot cheaper and much safer?

Rattling The Chains Of A Cold War

Russian warships sailed into a Venezuelan port Tuesday, greeted by a 21-gun salute and an eager welcome from President Hugo Chavez as Moscow seeks to expand its influence in Latin America.

Russians sailors dressed in black-and-white uniforms lined up along the bow of the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko as it docked in La Guaira, near Caracas. The deployment is the first of its kind in the Caribbean since the Cold War and was timed to coincide with President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Caracas — the first ever by a Russian president.

Chavez, basking in the support of a powerful ally and traditional U.S. rival, wants Russian help to build a nuclear reactor, invest in oil and natural gas projects and bolster his leftist opposition to U.S. influence in Latin America.

Chavez also wants weapons — he has bought more than $4 billion in Russian arms, including Sukhoi fighter jets, helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, and more deals for Russian tanks or other weaponry may be discussed after Medvedev arrives Wednesday.

Russia’s deployment of the naval squadron — the behemoth flagship Peter the Great, the missile destroyer and two support vessels — is widely seen as a demonstration of Kremlin anger over the U.S. decision to send warships to deliver aid to Georgia after its battles with Russia, and U.S. plans for a European missile-defense system.

Rejoice!  All you hawks!  looks like the Cold War is still trying to make a return.

Look Out Main Street!

The government is coming to help.

The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department on Tuesday unveiled a plan to pump $800 billion into the struggling U.S. economy in an attempt to jumpstart lending by banks to consumers and small businesses.

The government hopes that these initiatives will enable more money to flow to consumers in the form of loans than has occurred so far in previous bailout plans.

One program will make $200 billion available from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to holders of securities backed by consumer debt, such as credit cards, car loans and student loans.

Where is all this money coming from?

The programs from the Federal Reserve and the New York Fed are more than Congress approved in October for a bailout of the nation’s banks and Wall Street firms. The Fed said the money will come from an increase in its reserves — in essence, it is creating new money.

The idea is that by making money available for investors who are interested in buying loans bundled together into securities, it will be easier and more profitable for banks to loan money to consumers and small businesses.

Before the current credit crisis, lenders got the money they needed to extend credit by selling the loans they had already made. But the Treasury Department said the issuance of those securities essentially came to a halt in October.

Read my front page post and my post on demand–I do not think this is the action that will be needed they are just making easy credit easier to obtain.  Wait!  Is that not what put us in this spot today?  Does anyone else see the stupidity in this?

Pirates, Pirates Everywhere!

A lot of news has been generated lately by the pirates operating off Somalia.  But what about their captives?

“They are fine,” a pirate calling himself Daybad said by phone from the ship in the Gulf of Aden. “They are allowed to contact their families. The crew are not prisoners, they can move from place to place, wherever they want to, they can even sleep on their usual beds and they have their own keys. The only thing they are missing is their freedom to leave the ship.”

Two Britons – Peter French, from County Durham, and James Grady, from Renfrewshire – are among the crew, and there were local reports yesterday that the ransom had been reduced to $15m (£9.9m) as the hostage situation entered its 10th day. The ship’s cargo of crude oil is worth $100m.

“I would say there is not a reason for complaint,” said Marek Nishky, the ship’s captain, speaking under the scrutiny of the pirates. “We were given already the opportunity to talk to our families and today I was negotiating with a gentleman here [about] another such possibility. I am promised it will be soon, today or tomorrow, my crew will again be allowed to talk to their families. As you can realise, these are the most important things for us now.”

So they are treating their captives pretty huh?  Well not always.

Five Indian sailors who were among the crew of a Japanese-owned cargo ship hijacked by pirates and held for two months before a ransom was paid said Monday their captivity was “total desperation.”

“I wish that no one else ever has to go through this — (hijackers) are not human but rather animals,” said Alister Fernandes, one of the sailors, at a news conference in Mumbai, India.

Oh well you decide.