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Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

Rally To Restore Sanity: Watch It LIVE From Washington

In Health and Environment, Law & Regulations, National Economic Politics, Philosophy, Views, commentaries and opinions on 30.10.10 at 17:45

Jon Stewart‘s “Rally To Restore Sanity” is starting in Washington in under half an hour. It will be interesting to see how many people the famous comedian are able to gather in a “respectful disagreement” to discuss the issues that truly impact our lives (minus the political discord).

“We will send a message to our leaders! We are here! – but only until six…”

Jon Stewart


The Comedy Central have provided a link to the US capital where the rally is supposed to start in about 20 minutes. Click at the picture below, and follow this extraordinary event LIVE!

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(If that link doesn’t work, try this one.)

I anyone should find themself a bit puzzled over Mr. Colbert’s slogan “March To Keep Fear Alive,” here’s a little musical hint for you…

(Thanks to the very talented people at versusplus.com).

Related by The Swapper:

Jon Stewart’s Crusade To Restore Sanity

Jon Stewart Takes On Obama’s Chief Economic Advisor

Daily Show: Jon Stewart Finds Humor In The Foreclosure Crisis

Jon Stewart vs Jim Cramer

Please, Give This Man An Award!

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NASA To Launch New Investigations Of The Sun

In Learning, Natural science, Philosophy, Quantitative Finance, Technology on 07.09.10 at 00:21

NASA has begun development of a mission to visit and study the sun closer than ever before. The unprecedented project, named Solar Probe Plus, is slated to launch no later than 2018. A small car-sized spacecraft will plunge directly into the sun’s atmosphere approximately four million miles from our star’s surface.

“For the very first time, we’ll be able to touch, taste and smell our sun.”

Lika Guhathakurta

As the spacecraft approaches the sun, its revolutionary carbon-composite heat shield must withstand temperatures exceeding 2550 degrees Fahrenheit and blasts of intense radiation. The spacecraft will have an up close and personal view of the sun enabling scientists to better understand, characterize and forecast the radiation environment for future space explorers.

It will explore a region no other spacecraft ever has encountered. NASA has selected five science investigations that will unlock the sun’s biggest mysteries, according to sciencedaily.com.

“The experiments selected for Solar Probe Plus are specifically designed to solve two key questions of solar physics — why is the sun’s outer atmosphere so much hotter than the sun’s visible surface and what propels the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system? “ says Dick Fisher, director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division in Washington.

“We’ve been struggling with these questions for decades and this mission should finally provide those answers.”

NASA invited researchers in 2009 to submit science proposals. Thirteen were reviewed by a panel of NASA and outside scientists.

The total dollar amount for the five selected investigations is approximately $180 million for preliminary analysis, design, development and tests.

Read the full post at Econotwist’s Blog.

Related by The Swapper:

Why The Nervousness In Telecoms?

Expert: Sun Storm To Hit With Force Of 100 million H-Bombs

The Sun Is Speaking!

NASA Discover New Form Of Space Weather; Has Power Of Earthquake

NASA: Solar Tsunami To Hit Earth, Tuesday

Siberian Shaman: 2012 Solar Storms Will Trigger Collapse Of The West

NASA Prepares For Impact – Nasty Space Weather Ahead

When Will God Destroy Our Money?

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President Obama, Please Release Me, Let Me Go!

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Views, commentaries and opinions on 19.08.10 at 02:42

The US/Italian writer Anthony St. John is having some problems with the US/Italian bureaucracy. In fact, the problem has remained unsolved for 16 years. So, now he have written an open letter to the US President Barack Obama, asking for help. He’s really not asking for much, just to be released from his US citizenship:

“I ask you, President Obama, to instruct your muddleheaded dependents in the DisUnited States Consulate in Firenze to cease lying to me and quit hiding behind bullet-proof glass.”

Anthony St. John


Some time ago I stumbled over some of Mr. St.John’s writing. I really don’t know much about him, but I have found his work quite fascinating, especially his essays on the Vietnam war.  But recently I discovered a letter addressed to the US president. A letter that tells the real life story of the 64 year old Anthony St. John,

Here’s the first part of the 15 pages letter:

“President Obama, Please Release Me, Let Me Go!”

“For I Do Not Love the DisUnited States of America Anymore!”

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Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

WASHINGTON DC 20520

United States

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I hope this communication finds you, your wife and your children well.

On 27 March 1994 I reduced to ashes my United States’ passport and mailed a letter renouncing my DisUnited States’ citizenship. The passport had expired that day, and I had set it to flames so that no one could find it—stolen DisUnited States’ passports can fetch a handsome sum on the black market; the possibility—although remote—that mine might wind up in a terrorist’s hand, was not to my liking. It was also my intention, at that time, to make a dramatic gesture that would mirror my antipathy and help myself realize more the seriousness of my action.

At that point in time, I thought erroneously that my connection to the United States—which I had considered breaking for many years before—had become a fait accompli, at least in one authentic mode: I had dealt my own hand. It was not until years later that I would have come to realise that my abnegation was not in any sense “legitimate.” Since 27 March 1994 my swan song to the DisUnited States of America has been true-to-life only for me! When I dwelt at first on the newly-discovered realization, I was genuinely flabbergasted! I guessed then I would have to visit the DisUnited States Consulate in Firenze (Florence, Italy) and submit to bureaucratic rigmarole! I was verily disgusted. I did not even have the democratic right to give up claim to my own citizenship! Worse, now that repudiation depended on dull, foggy-bottomed office workers set, in an aura of an institutionalized paranoia, behind bulletproof glass. I do not like to go to these sterile places. But I had to.

On 30 October 1997, I strolled to the consulate in Firenze and signed first an original of three papers and, after, two copied sets of them documenting my official request to cut the cord which binds me to my DisUnited States’ citizenship.

Your subordinates, true to form, did not disappoint me by not acting pettily. When I asked them for photocopies for me of the official papers, they refused to oblige. Very unkind. When I asked them if I was then now “officially” a non- DisUnited States’ citizen, the consul himself replied curtly: “99%.” Very not nice. When I asked him to explain, he told me it depended on whether or not the DisUnited States’

Department of State would be inclined to approve my solicitation; yet, he saw no reason to believe that Washington would not approve the pleading. I was informed that I would “probably” receive Washington’s official sanction in two weeks and it, then, would be dispatched to me by post.

Anthony St. John

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On 16 May 2000, I called the consulate (055-239.82.76) to check on the status of my petition. Maria (“…the one handling your case…”) suggested I should re-submit my beseechment. I propounded that she make a photocopy of the original and send that to Washington: “No.” I must come into the consulate and sign again all the forms! I asked her to look further into the matter. She said “O.K.”; and , on her own, she promised she would call me back with her findings. Still today, no word from Maria.

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Why all this delay? Why the false information? False promises? Why am I not allowed to renounce my own citizenship?

I ask you, President Obama, to instruct your muddleheaded dependents in the DisUnited States Consulate in Firenze to cease lying to me and quit hiding behind bullet-proof glass.

If we must meet again, I will be happy to return to the consulate and sign “new” renunciation documents provided someone promises me that those official papers will be sent to me within thirty (30) days of my signing them.

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Thank you.

Cordially…

Anthony St. John

Here’s a copy of the full 15 pages letter to Mr. Obama.

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Signs Of Depression In The USA

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Views, commentaries and opinions on 12.08.10 at 16:57

Pessimism reigns with American public. The public is deeply dissatisfied with Congress, the two political parties and the broad direction of the country, according to a  new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. Just one in five approve of the job Congress is doing while a whopping 72 percent disapprove. Some are even talking about an armed revolution.

“Voters dissatisfied with the direction of government should take to second amendment remedies.”

Sharron Angle


The numbers in the survey are stark, the Washington Post writes. Just one in five approve of the job Congress is doing while a whopping 72 percent disapprove. Six in ten say that this Congress’ performance has been either below average  or “one of the worst.”  Just six percent describe it as “one of the best” or “above average”.

The two political parties fare little better. Thirty-three percent of the sample view the Democratic party positively while 44 percent view it negatively; the news is even worse for Republicans who are seen in a positive light by by 24 percent and a negative one by 46 percent – the worst showing ever for the GOP in the NBC/WSJ poll.

Pessimism Is Everywhere

At a more macro level, evidence of a persistent pessimism is everywhere. Less than one in three people believe the country is headed in the right direction while 58 percent believe it is off on the wrong track.

Nearly two-in-three of respondents says there is “still a ways to go” in the economic downturn as compared to 29 percent who says the economy had already hit the “bottom”.

The extent of the dissatisfaction apparent in this poll is not new – surveys have shown a public growing increasingly unhappy with the state of affairs in the country and the Congress for some time now – but does reinforce the idea that the final three months (or so) of the midterm campaign will be extremely unpredictable.

While Democrats will almost certainly bear the brunt of the pessimism running rampant in the country due to the fact that a) they control all levers of power in Washington and b) they hold far more seats in the House and the Senate, it’s clear that the public is far from sold on Republicans, or any politicians.

Something Totally Different

In an election cycle like this one, volatility appears to be the name of the game.

Rick Snyder

Rick Snyder

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The more unhappy voters are with the state of affairs in the country and the less conviction they have that politicians or Washington can fix it, the more they are open to change – to trying something (or someone) totally different.

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Victories by people like Rick Snyder, the wealthy businessman who rode his “one tough nerd” slogan to victory in the Michigan Republican governor’s primary, are the leading edge of that “someone different” mentality.

The November election could produce many more Snyders if these numbers hold.

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Armed Resistance

Sharron Angle

Sharron Angle

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is up with a new TV ad slamming former Nevada Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R) for comments in which she suggested that voters dissatisfied with the direction of government should take to “second amendment remedies.”

The ad features Bill Ames, the president of the Peace Officers Research Association of Nevada, calling Angle’s comments “way over the line.”

“It’s crazy, but what she’s actually talking about is armed resistance,” Ames says. “Look, I’m a member of the NRA and a Republican, but that kind of talk is dangerous and way too extreme.”

Angle’s camp shrugged off the ad. “Reid is desperate to talk about anything except the economy because his policies as Majority Leader have caused over 14 percent unemployment in Nevada and voters hate him for it,” said Angle spokesperson Jarrod Agen.

The commercial is the latest effort by Reid to paint Angle outside of the Nevada mainstream on issues; he has previously attacked Angle’s past statement on Social Security.

Government Is The Problem

Team Angle’s strategy on the airwaves, meanwhile, has been to blame Reid for Nevada’s record high unemployment while charging that “government is the problem” and “we, the people, are the solution.”

Angle has undoubtedly given Reid plenty of fodder for ads, but the new spot comes after the Senate Majority Leader made a gaffe of his own when he told a crowd earlier this week: “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, okay?”.

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Reid’s camp later sought to clarify those remarks, saying that Reid’s “contention was simply that he doesn’t understand how anyone, Hispanic or otherwise, would vote for Republican candidates.”

A Reuters-Ipsos poll released last week showed Reid leading Angle 48 percent to 44 percent among likely voters – a much narrower lead than Reid’s 52 percent to 36 percent advantage among registered voters.

Polling conducted since Angle’s June 8th primary win has consistently shown her trailing Reid.

The Tonya Harding Of Florida Politics

Free-spending former health care executive Rick Scott is up with two new TV ads bashing state Attorney General Bill McCollum, his opponent for Florida’s Republican gubernatorial nod.

Bill McCollum

Bill McCollum

The first ad charges that McCollum “promised to spend tax dollars wisely, but then he spent $280,000 taxpayer dollars on chartered aircraft, even for personal use.” The second claims that McCollum has been “caught in a lie again” for conflicting statements he’s made on Arizona’s immigration law.

Both spots, which will be running statewide, refer to the gubernatorial hopeful as “career politician Bill McCollum.”

Scott has been relentless in attacking McCollum on his long tenure in politics as well as his position on the immigration law while McCollum has countered by taking aim at Scott’s political Achilles’ heel – the $1.7 billion fraud case involving his former company, Columbia/HCA.

This week has marked some of the more colorful developments for Scott and McCollum along the campaign trail. Scott held a press conference yesterday in order to defend himself from accusations regarding his current company, the Solantic walk-in clinic chain, but instead was hit with a subpoena in a new lawsuit.

At the same event, Scott decried McCollum as “the Tonya Harding of Florida politics.”
week.

A Mason-Dixon poll released late last week showed Scott leading McCollum 37 percent to 31 percent, with 29 percent undecided. Early voting ahead of the Aug. 24 primary began Monday.

State CFO Alex Sink will be the Democratic nominee.

Bud Chiles, the son of former Gov. Lawton Chiles (D), is running as an independent.

Will Fight For Them

Richard Blumenthal

Richard Blumenthal

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal wasted little time in starting the general election fight against former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon (R) by launching his first ad designed to re-introduce him to voters.

Blumenthal, who has very high approval numbers from his two decades as the state’s top cop, notes his battles against pharmaceutical companies, utilities and “big tobacco” in the ad. “The people of Connecticut know me, and one thing they know about me for sure is that I will fight for them,” Blumenthal says, as images flash of him visiting various constituents.

The ad plays to Blumenthal’s strengths and what has made him a popular figure in the state over the last two decades. While McMahon’s professional wrestling empire will be on trial in the coming weeks, Blumenthal is setting a tone that is above-the-fray, even as plenty of other Democrats have been going negative in their first ads.

It’s likely Republicans will work to quickly change that tone – perhaps bringing up Blumenthal’s exaggerations regarding his Vietnam service.

Blumenthal is also staffing up as the general election begins, adding Tyler Matsdorf, a communications operative for Montana Sen. Max Baucus (D), to his team.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Blumenthal leading McMahon 50 percent to 40 percent, and she had been closing the margin in recent months thanks to her heavy spending in advance of Tuesday’s primary.

Political Handicappers

Washington State Democratic Sen. Patty Murray leads former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi (R) 41 percent to 33 percent in Washington’s top-two primary next week, according to a new SurveyUSA poll.

Patty Murray

Patty Murray

But Rossi and a pair of GOP candidates are combining to take nearly half the vote, which could be bad for Murray in the second round of voting a.k.a. the general election.

Washington features an unusual voting system in which all candidates are thrown into one field in the Aug. 17 primary with the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advancing to the general election.

The poll suggests that Rossi faces little danger of not finishing in the top two; former NFL player Clint Didier (R) takes 11 percent and Paul Akers (R) receives five percent.

(Didier has the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and he and Akers are running an unorthodox joint campaign to take down Rossi as the establishment candidate.)

Murray, first elected in 1992, has consistently overperformed expectations in her re-election races. But, Rossi is widely seen as her most serious opponent yet and leading political handicappers rate the race as a toss up, the Washington Post concludes.

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Mr. Rubin's Still Rockin' The House

In Financial Markets, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Views, commentaries and opinions on 30.06.10 at 00:04

It may come as a surprise to some that, despite the fiasco at Citigroup and his role in causing the subprime mess, former Goldman Sachs CEO Robert Rubin remains inside the circle at the White House. Nearly two decades after first migrating to Washington, he apparently is still calling the shots of U.S. financial and economic policy with the full support of President Barack Obama.

“Operating through trained surrogates such as Geithner, Summers and others, Robert Rubin is still pulling the economic and financial strings in Washington.”

Hans-Joachim Dübel

“Most recently Mr. Rubin managed the defense of Wall Street following the great crisis. No matter what Treasury Secretary Geithner says, or when he says it in public, you can be sure that those utterances have the full knowledge and approval of his handler Larry Summers and their common political owner and sponsor, Robert Rubin,” the founder of Finpolconsult, Hans-Joachim Dübel, writes.

Hans-Joacim (Achim) Dübel describes the famous former Goldman Sachs CEO, Robert Rubin, as a modern day colossus, who “effortlessly bestrides the worlds of political and finance, and mostly without leaving a trail of slime that often betrays the average political operator.”

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Rubin stood at the right hand of Alan Greenspan on the famous February 1999 Time cover entitled: “The Committee to Save the World.”

He’s not an entrepreneur like Pierpont Morgan; Rubin is a mixture of banker, politician and global technocrat, a super fixer of sorts, but with a proper sense for public-private partnership.

Case in point: The famous letter from Rubin to Goldman Sachs clients when he first went to the Clinton White House saying that just because he was in Washington didn’t mean he wouldn’t be looking after them.

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Here’s Mr. Dübel’s commentary:

Mr. Rubin Goes To Washington

President Bill Clinton famously called Rubin the “greatest Secretary of the Treasury since Alexander Hamilton,” yet another example of the former President’s generosity.

There’s probably a couple of dozen names on the list of the less than 100 Treasury chiefs who’ve served since the inception of the U.S. we’d put in front of Rubin. How about Albert Gallatin, Salmon Chase, Carter Glass, William McAdoo, Andrew Mellon and Henry Morgenthau to start?

In fact, reasonable people might call Robert Rubin the chief architect of the financial crisis and also of Wall Street’s grand strategy to minimize the political damage from the subprime crisis.

From his mismanagement of the U.S. Treasury’s dollar policy in the mid-1990s to his bailout for Mexico (for Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street dealers), to the rescue of Citigroup and AIG in 2008, Rubin has met or exceeded the most demanding expectations for duplicity from our public servants.

Recall the comment by former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan about “cringing” when Rubin spoke about the need for a strong dollar and you get the idea. Yves Smith has a great summary of this period of Rubin’s career in her book Econned, BTW, in the last Rubin hit in the index.

Emboldened by the cash surpluses from Social Security contributions pouring into the Treasury and the related silly talk about the US redeeming all outstanding public debt, in the 1990s Rubin transformed himself into a deficit hawk. And using the considerable network of connections and money that is the chief asset of Goldman Sachs, Rubin became part of the permanent government that still runs Washington today.

Rubin worked first at the White House as economic policy boss, then after the abortive 1994 election sweep by the Republicans, at the Treasury.

He oversaw the bailout of Mexico in December 1994, thereby bailing out Goldman Sachs and the other banks which held Mexican exposure.

Then was forged the core gang of Rubin, Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner which comprises the Rubin political tendency today. Summers was the chief minion in those days and ran political interference for Wall Street after Rubin’s departure in 1999.

Lesser minions of Rubin today in the Obama White House include Jason Furman, a deputy to Summers on the National Economic Council and likely candidate to be the next head of the Office of Management and Budget. He would replace yet another Rubin protege, Peter R. Orszag.

Larry Summers - Timothy Geithner

Larry Summers - Timothy Geithner

Through eight years of George W. Bush and two decidedly non-Wall Street Treasury chiefs in Paul O’Neill and John Snow, the Rubin machine worked opportunities on Wall Street and groomed its new front-man, Timothy Geithner.

Geithner served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs from 1998 to 2001 under Secretaries Rubin and Summers, where he was “a principal adviser and member of the executive branch’s senior team.”

Geithner then spent a couple of years at the IMF gaining credibility (and dodging his personal income taxes) before being made President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in October of 2003.

Geithner was chosen for the key Fed job by that subset of the Council on Foreign Relations which seemingly controls the Fed of New York board, a fact that the latest financial reform legislation leaves undisturbed.

The selection of Geithner was made by a search committee headed by Pete Peterson, senior chairman and co-founder of The Blackstone Group, who fortunately did not need to look far. Rubin, Summers and Fred Bergsten all reportedly “advised” Peterson on the selection of Geithner, according to the FRBNY.

Geithner has been effectively an operating asset of Rubin for the past two decades and especially after the former Treasury Secretary left Washington in 1999 to join the board at Citigroup.

As we reported prior to Geithner’s nomination as Treasury Secretary, during his tenure at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Geithner would often speak to Robert Rubin on the telephone for hours at a time, a practice we are told by a reliable source inside continues even to this day.

What are they talking about?

The Citigroup Bailout

During the period when Secretary Geithner headed the Fed of New York, Rubin was on the board of Citigroup, a bank that would eventually be rescued at great cost to the taxpayer and C shareholders.

Robert Rubin

Robert Rubin

But what is frequently missed is that Rubin and the board knew or should have known about operational problems at Citigroup as early as 2003.

Not even two years after Rubin arrived on the board of Citigroup as a senior adviser to Chairman Sanford Weill, the largest subprime lender in the U.S. almost cratered.

During the 2001-2003 mini recession, Citigroup’s credit loss experience skewed almost a standard deviation higher than the large bank per group and stayed there until the end of 2005. As it turns out, this large loss event in terms of the bank’s credit experience was a hint of things to come.

That is, Rubin and the Citigroup board should have known in 2002 onward that there was a problem at the bank. But Rubin seemingly was too busy with other matters to know or to care. Users of the professional version of The IRA Bank Monitor may view the default series for C’s subsidiary banks by clicking here. The chart illustrates that for Citigroup, the subprime crisis began in 2002.

But where was Bob Rubin?

From 2003 through 2007, Rubin encouraged Citigroup to increase leverage and risk during the subprime boom, this while spending a great deal of time pursuing an agenda of global diplomacy that was largely unrelated to the bank’s operations.

Where were the Fed and the OCC while Rubin was AWOL from his role as board chairman? “You were either pulling the levers or asleep at the switch,” Philip N. Angelides told him during hearings on the Citigroup bailout, but Rubin refused to take personal responsibility for what occurred at Citigroup or in the larger economy, according to the New York Times.

Angelides, a former California state treasurer and a fellow Democrat, did not buy Rubin’s excuses. “You were not a garden-variety board member,” Angelides said. “I think to most people chairman of the executive committee of the board of directors implies leadership.

Certainly $15 million a year guaranteed implies leadership and responsibility.” And of course Rubin was and is exercising leadership, just not the kind that is generally understood.

When Citigroup was nearing collapse in 2008, Rubin then orchestrated the bailout of the bank in order to hide the effects of his lack of attention to the bank’s operational problems. During a series of telephone conversations with his former partner and another former Goldman Sachs CEO, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, the Citigroup bailout was agreed.

Rubin’s intervention saved the proverbial bacon for Rubin and the other members of the Citigroup board of directors. But also remember that Paulson’s arrival at the Treasury, in and of itself, was a sign that another financial crisis was brewing on Wall Street.

Rubin remained at Citigroup through January 2009, long enough to see the bank through the most difficult part of the crisis and bailout. He was aided by his dutiful minion Geithner, who was now at Treasury but operating under careful supervision of Summers and Rubin.

Geithner also facilitated the bailout of American International Group, again to the advantage of Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street dealers. Rubin then departed from the board of the badly damaged banking group and ascended into heaven.

Next Crisis: The Dollar

The end result of financial reform is inconvenience for the financial services industry and more expense for the taxpayer and the consumer.

Hans-Joachim Dübel

Hans-Joachim Dübel

But it should be noted that, once again, Wall Street has managed to blunt the worst effects of public anger at the industry’s collective malfeasance. The banks can now start to focus their financial firepower on winning back hearts and minds on Capitol Hill. All it takes is money.

Notwithstanding anything said or done by the Congress this year, operating through trained surrogates such as Geithner, Summers and others, Robert Rubin is still pulling the economic and financial strings in Washington.

The fact that there is a Democrat in the White House almost does not seem to matter. President Obama arguably has a subordinate position to Rubin because of considerations of money.

If you differ, then ask yourself if Barack Obama could seek the presidency in 2012 without the support of Bob Rubin and the folks at Goldman Sachs. Case closed.

For America’s creditors and allies, the key question is whether the Democrats around Rubin are willing to embrace fiscal discipline at a time when deflation in the US is accelerating. That roaring sound you hear is the approaching waterfall of the double dip.

With the US at the moment eschewing anything remotely like fiscal restraint and the rest of the world going in the opposite direction, to us the next crisis probably involves U.S. interest rates and the dollar.

Judging by Rubin’s performance in the past, when he talked first of a strong dollar, then a weak dollar policy, and fudged the issue regarding fiscal deficits, we could be in for quite a ride.

But at some point the Obama Administration should acknowledge that this particular former CEO of Goldman Sachs is still driving the policy bus.

If the Republicans are in control of the Congress come next January, maybe they should subpoena Rubin to appear periodically. At least then we all can hear directly to the person who is actually making national economic policy.

By Hans-Joachim Dübel

Brussels

FINPOLCONSULT the financial and real estate sector specialist. The company offers independent economic, market and legal-regulatory analysis and advice at the intersection of both sectors – especially in mortgage capital markets, mortgage lending and insurance, and housing policy.nd housing policy.

Original post at the Institutional Risk Analysis.

Related by the Econotwist:

JPMorgan’s “Poison Pill” Strategy

Webster Tarpley: The Financial Reform Is A Failure

Citigroup: Euro Zone No Longer A Single Economy

Goldman Sachs: Good Morning Europe!

6 U.S. Banks Collects 93% Of Industry’s Trading Revenue

Bank Protest Sponsored By Banks

Transantlantic Bailout Buddys Agree To Disagree

Banks Face Multi-Hundred-Million Dollar Settlements

The Truth, Some Truth And Something Like The Truth

Goldman-Boss Questioned By Congress – Watch It LIVE Now

Goldman Sachs Charged With Fraud – Here’s The SEC filing

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Mr. B Says "Thanks"

In Financial Markets, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Views, commentaries and opinions on 22.05.10 at 22:29

Once in a while I get an email from my good buddy over in Washington, Mr.B. The other  night, the U.S. Senate passed the so-called “Wall Street Reform,” and a few hours ago I got a new mail from Mr.B – he says “thank you.”

“Never again will Americans be duped by fine print or hidden fees.”

Barack Obama

“Frode – On Thursday, the Senate passed historic Wall Street reform. This movement proved again that the strongest special interests, who for so long have called the shots in Washington, can be beat. When opponents in Congress tried to block the legislation altogether, you stood up — and they backed down. When the lobbyists pushed for loopholes and exemptions just before a final vote, you did not relent — and we fought them off,” the U.S. president writes.

Well, the truth is, I wasn’t even there!

But it’s always nice to get a letter from the president. However, this time I think he’s giving me way too much credit, so I better pass the message on to those whom it is intended.

Here’s the rest:

Your support brought us to this day — and, because of that, we’re poised to implement sensible reforms that will provide a stronger foundation for economic growth.

Now, the House and Senate must iron out their differences before I can sign it into law. But the financial industry will not give up. They have already spent more than $1 million per member of Congress, lobbying on this issue. And in the coming days, they will go all in. This is their last shot to stall, weaken, or kill reform, and they are not accustomed to losing.

But this movement has you — and together, we have beaten the special interests before.

Every American has a stake in this bill.

If you have ever been treated unfairly by a credit card company, this reform works for you — never again will Americans be duped by fine print or hidden fees.

If you ever try to take out a home loan or student loan, this reform works for you — putting an end to predatory and deceptive lending practices.

And, if you or your small business relies on credit from community banks that are being punished for playing by the rules while their competitors do not, this reform works for you — reining in the big banks and making sure all our lenders are subject to tough oversight.

These reforms would put in place the strongest consumer financial protections in history. And, by helping safeguard our economy from recklessness on Wall Street, it would ensure that a crisis like the one that caused this recession never happens again.

This is not a zero-sum game where Wall Street loses and Main Street wins. As we have learned, in today’s economy, we are all connected. When the economy prospers, we all win. Senators of both parties recognize that fact, and that is why lawmakers stood up to the lobbyists and worked across the aisle to ensure that Wall Street reform passed.

But this fight is not yet over. And it is up to us to overcome this final test and pass reform into law. When we do, the power of this movement to make change in Washington — despite the best efforts of the special interests — will no longer be up for debate.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

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PS:

Mr. B asks if you can spare 5 bucks (or maybe more?).




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Norwegian REC Claim Ground-Breaking Technology

In Financial Markets, Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics, Views, commentaries and opinions on 16.03.10 at 22:46

The Norwegian producer of sun panels, REC, have Tuesday released a statement in where the company claims the FBR system as a ground-breaking technology foundation for low-cost polysilicon production. The polysilicon, being produced by REC Silicon in Moses Lake, Washington, is mostly used in solar panels, but also increasingly used in computer screens and flat screen TV‘s

“The Sun Always Shines On TV”

aHa


The pressure on REC’s management, that forced CEO  Erik Thorsen to step down last year, is still  tremendous. The volatile markets, delayed project, swelling borrowing costs, terrible financial reports….no wonder the company’s  share has is the day traders at Oslo Stock Exchange number one favorite. Is this make or break for the Norwegian top global solar player?

The market for alternative energy can in many ways be compared to the Silicon Vally race in the late 80’s, and early 90’s, to come up with a small  low-cost micro chip that actually worked, and with the capacity to run a personal home computer.

There was hundreds of thousand companies, billions of invested dollar and millions of great ideas.

Those were the days, my friend!

But everybody knew there could only be one winner.

(And we know now who that eventually became).

It’s the same with solar panels; the first to come up with a panel that is small enough, efficient enough and cheap enough has struck a gigantic gold mine.

The Norwegian company REC has run among the leaders for several years, and is at the moment a leading player in the solar energy industry. REC is among the world’s largest producers of polysilicon and wafers for solar applications, and a rapidly growing manufacturer of solar cells and modules.

REC is also engaged in project development activities in selected PV segments.

But lately it looks like REC is about to fall behind.

That is; if is we look at the company’s market value at the stock exchange.

A lot off up’s, but mostly down.

Besides being a popular day trading stock, witch adds to the volatility, analysts are beginning to loose faith in both REC’s leadership, and in REC’s ability to become a future winner in the solar energy market.

Top Global Player

Today’s announcement from the company is  an important one.

Founded in Norway, REC became an international solar company under the former CEO Erik Thorsen who was forced to go in March 2009.

REC is employing more than 3,000 people worldwide.

REC had revenues in excess of NOK 9 billion in 2009, but the management published an overall negative Q4 report and guided down their expectations for 2010.

The analysts y/y estimates for 2010 was before today’s announcement on average down by 87,5%, to NOK 134 million.

REC is hardly capable of handling more failure.

But today’s presentation may have the potential to be a game changer.

The New LCD Screen?

“REC – REC Silicon confirms FBR as a ground-breaking technology foundation for low-cost polysilicon production,” the company says in a market statement Tuesday afternoon.

At REC Silicon in Washington, USA, they have discovered that by using a certain technology, FBR, the silicon derivative – polysilicon – they get a more fine grade liquid crystal that can produce better screen images than the crystals that’s in most of today’s computer screens and flat screen TV’s.

And at a lower cost.

This is what it looks like:

Left: Siemens product. Right: REC product

REC Silicon today hosts an investor field-trip to its facilities in Moses Lake, Washington, including executive presentations followed by a tour of the new Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) plant.

There will be a live webcast from Moses Lake at 9.30 am local Pacific time,

(The presentation material as well as the link to the web cast will be available from: http://www.recgroup.com/fieldtrip.)

REC Silicon executives will present an overview of the REC Silicon products, an update on technology developments, and provide the company`s perspective on market developments.

Which – by the way – are quite confident:

Left: prod. forecast, silane. Right: prod. forecast, polysilicon

Or Just Another Tech Bubble?

Well, that’s the bottom line when it comes to REC.

The company has benefited from the Norwegian, and other, governments expanding research and increasing subsidizing of alternative energy development.

Consequently; this isn’t only about the company brand and the investors money – it’s also about scientific prestige and (of course) politics.

And the current CEO Ola Enger, who witness President Barack Obama receive the Nobel Peace Price in Oslo in November, are fully aware of the possibilities in relation to the U.S. economic stimulus programs.

At Least; A Day Of Fun

If the Norwegian solar player finally will come out on top, or not, is yet to be determined.

But Wednesday should be a really fun day for the day traders and other speculators!

This can go either way, and the move can  be big.

REC released this information just as the Oslo Stock Exchange was about to close, Tuesday.

However, the stock managed to mark down a jump of more than 8%.

Follow the stock here.

Check out the option action for tomorrow here.

Here’s some of the market presentation material.

You have under 12 hours to place your bet before Oslo Stock Exchange open tomorrow morning at nine, local time.

Good Luck!

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Low-Oxygen Zones In Oceans Worry Scientists

In Health and Environment, International Econnomic Politics, National Economic Politics on 09.03.10 at 11:09

Another environmental warning sign is about to be raised; lower levels of oxygen in the Earth‘s oceans, particularly off the United StatesPacific Northwest coast, could be another fundamental change linked to global climate, scientists say.

“The real surprise is how this has become the new norm. We are seeing it year after year.”

Jack Barth


In some spots off Washington state and Oregon , the almost complete absence of oxygen has left piles of Dungeness crab carcasses littering the ocean floor, killed off 25-year-old sea stars, crippled colonies of sea anemones and produced mats of potentially noxious bacteria that thrive in such conditions, according to scientists.

Lower levels of oxygen in the Earth’s oceans, particularly off the United States’ Pacific Northwest coast, could be another sign of fundamental changes linked to global climate change, scientists say.

They warn that the oceans’ complex undersea ecosystems and fragile food chains could be disrupted.

Areas of hypoxia, or low oxygen, have long existed in the deep ocean. These areas — in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans — appear to be spreading, however, covering more square miles, creeping toward the surface and in some places, such as the Pacific Northwest , encroaching on the continental shelf within sight of the coastline.

“The depletion of oxygen levels in all three oceans is striking,” said Gregory Johnson , an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle .

In some spots, such as off the Southern California coast, oxygen levels have dropped roughly 20 percent over the past 25 years. Elsewhere, scientists say, oxygen levels might have declined by one-third over 50 years.

“The real surprise is how this has become the new norm,” said Jack Barth , an oceanography professor at Oregon State University . “We are seeing it year after year.”

Barth and others say the changes are consistent with current climate-change models. Previous studies have found that the oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

“If the Earth continues to warm, the expectation is we will have lower and lower oxygen levels,” said Francis Chan , a marine researcher at Oregon State .

As ocean temperatures rise, the warmer water on the surface acts as a cap, which interferes with the natural circulation that normally allows deeper waters that are already oxygen-depleted to reach the surface. It’s on the surface where ocean waters are recharged with oxygen from the air.

Commonly, ocean “dead zones” have been linked to agricultural runoff and other pollution coming down major rivers such as the Mississippi or the Columbia . One of the largest of the 400 or so ocean dead zones is in the Gulf of Mexico , near the mouth of the Mississippi .

However, scientists now say that some of these areas, including those off the Northwest, apparently are linked to broader changes in ocean oxygen levels.

The Pacific waters off Washington and Oregon face a double whammy as a result of ocean circulation.

Scientists have long known of a natural low-oxygen zone perched in the deeper water off the Northwest’s continental shelf.

During the summer, northerly winds aided by the Earth’s rotation drive surface water away from the shore. This action sucks oxygen-poor water to the surface in a process called upwelling.

Though the water that’s pulled up from the depths is poor in oxygen, it’s rich in nutrients, which fertilize phytoplankton. These microscopic organisms form the bottom of one of the richest ocean food chains in the world. As they die, however, they sink and start to decay. The decaying process uses oxygen, which depletes the oxygen levels even more.

Southerly winds reverse the process in what’s known as down-welling.

Changes in the wind and ocean circulation since 2002 have disrupted what had been a delicate balance between upwelling and down-welling. Scientists now are discovering expanding low-oxygen zones near shore.

“It is consistent with models of global warming, but the time frame is too short to know whether it is a trend or a weather phenomenon,” Johnson said.

Others were slightly more definitive, quicker to link the lower oxygen levels to global warming rather than to such weather phenomena as El Nino or the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a shift in the weather that occurs every 20 to 30 years in the northern oceans.

“It’s a large disturbance in the ecosystem that could have huge biological changes,” said Steve Bograd , an oceanographer at NOAA‘s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Southern California .

Bograd has been studying oxygen levels in the California Current, which runs along the West Coast from the Canadian border to Baja California and, some scientists think, eventually could be affected by climate change.

So far, the worst hypoxic zone off the Northwest coast was found in 2006. It covered nearly 1,200 square miles off Newport, Ore. , and according to Barth it was so close to shore you could hit it with a baseball. The zone covered 80 percent of the water column and lasted for an abnormally long four months.

Because of upwelling, some of the most fertile ocean areas in the world are found off Washington and Oregon . Similar upwelling occurs in only three other places, off the coast of Peru and Chile , in an area stretching from northern Africa to Portugal and along the Atlantic coast of South Africa and Namibia .

Scientists are unsure how low oxygen levels will affect the ocean ecosystem. Bottom-dwelling species could be at the greatest risk because they move slowly and might not be able to escape the lower oxygen levels. Most fish can swim out of danger. Some species, however, such as chinook salmon, may have to start swimming at shallower depths than they’re used to. Whether the low oxygen zones will change salmon migration routes is unclear.

Some species, such as jellyfish, will like the lower-oxygen water. Jumbo squid, usually found off Mexico and Central America , can survive as oxygen levels decrease and now are found as far north as Alaska .

“It’s like an experiment,” Chan said. “We are pulling some things out of the food web and we will have to see what happens. But if you pull enough things out, it could have a real impact.”

Source:  McClatchy’s Planet Washington

Related:

As oceans fall ill, Washington bureaucrats squabble

Asia -produced ozone making its way to U.S., study finds

An El Nino winter has consequences

The Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Oregon State University’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences

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