Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kurlantzick: The Bourgeois Revolution

How the global middle class declared war on democracy

Dictatorship of the bourgeosie: Middle class “yellow-shirt” protesters were responsible for forcing Thailand’s elected government from power.

[ Very long, informative, thoughtful article. ]

Thursday, April 23, 2009 on US financial crisis

Crisis Plunges US Middle Class into Poverty,1518,620754,00.html

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

German paper: ‘I TAKE RESPONSIBILITY’ [ Obama on financial crisis ]

[ Obama said ] “It is true, as my Italian friend has said, that the crisis began in the US. I take responsibility, even if I wasn’t even president at the time.” And he underscored how important it is for him “that we now genuinely make progress. Thank you.” Applause.

The others couldn’t believe their ears. Was that really a confession of guilt from the US? Was it a translation error, or at least an inaccuracy? Afterwards, this sentence fueled long discussions among the members of the German delegation. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was so impressed by Obama’s statement that she rushed to tell her finance minister, Peer Steinbr├╝ck. Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso reacted immediately: The proposal to hold the next summit not in Japan, but rather in the US, is something that he no longer rejects, he says, “now that the US has shouldered responsibility.”

continue to read: 3 page article here,1518,617639,00.html

Friday, April 3, 2009

UK Telegraph: Obama rejects Normandy trip to avoid offending Germany

Barack Obama, concerned about offending Britain and Germany, rebuffed strenuous attempts by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France to persuade the new American president to make a trip to Normandy this week.

“It wasn’t going to happen,” said an American official in Washington. “We went through the motions to placate President Sarkozy but giving special treatment to France was not on our agenda. “During this trip, we wanted to maintain a balance between the British, German and France”. A White House spokesman in London declined to comment.

UK Guardian: The question that flummoxed the great orator

[ I'm cutting Crace's snark, Obama's own words are bad enough. ]

Nick Robinson: "A question for you both, if I may. The prime minister has repeatedly blamed the United States of America for causing this crisis. France and Germany both blame Britain and America for causing this crisis. Who is right? And isn't the debate about that at the heart of the debate about what to do now?"

Brown immediately swivels to leave Obama in pole position. There is a four-second delay before Obama starts speaking

Barack Obama: "I, I, would say that, er ... pause  ... if you look at ... pause... the, the sources of this crisis ... pause ... the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to . . .pause  ... a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that have taken place in the global financial system ... pause, close eyes. I think what is also true is that ... pause ... here in Great Britain ... pause ... here in continental Europe ... pause... around the world. We were seeing the same mismatch between the regulatory regimes that were in place and er ...pause... the highly integrated, er, global capital markets that have emerged ... pause So at this point, I'm less interested in ...pause... identifying blame than fixing the problem. I think we've taken some very aggressive steps in the United States to do so, not just responding to the immediate crisis, ensuring banks are adequately capitalised, er, dealing with the enormous, er ... pause ... drop-off in demand and contraction that has taken place. More importantly, for the long term, making sure that we've got a set of, er, er, regulations that are up to the task, er, and that includes, er, a number that will be discussed at this summit. I think there's a lot of convergence between all the parties involved about the need, for example, to focus not on the legal form that a particular financial product takes or the institution it emerges from, but rather what's the risk involved, what's the function of this product and how do we regulate that adequately, much more effective coordination, er, between countries so we can, er, anticipate the risks that are involved there. Dealing with the, er, problem of derivatives markets, making sure we have set up systems, er, that can reduce some of the risks there. So, I actually think ... pause ... there's enormous consensus that has emerged in terms of what we need to do now and, er ... pause  ... I'm a great believer in looking forwards than looking backwards.

Litle: The AIG Connection – Far Worse Than You Think

[E]verything this administration has done, every last damn thing, has been favorable to one of Wall Street’s most entrenched interest groups: the bondholders.

The bondholders, the bondholders. It’s always been about them [....] to make sure that the connected financial interests in his Rolodex don’t lose their stakes, even in cases where they oh-so-richly deserve to.

This, by the way, is why the Obama administration ruled out the nationalization option for the banks from day one.

The cleanest option, and one we called for loudly in these pages – taking over the banks, throwing out current management, selling off the assets and starting over – was no-go because too many connected players would have taken a hit if their big bond positions went to zero. 

[ Too much good stuff to quote,  see the article and scroll down a couple of screens to the meat.

First see the excellent take from wbboei which I've inserted as a Comment to this post. ]

EASY POST comment form at the bottom; no login, few comments so far.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

UK Reuters: U.S. eases accounting rules as G20 acts

World leaders agreed on Thursday to tighten financial regulations and increase funding for poor nations, while a U.S. accounting body moved to ease rules for banks that forced billions of dollars of writedowns.