October 5, 2012
As Republicans seek to neuter regulators, JPMorgan suit proves why Wall Street needs a sheriff

upwithchris:

The presidential candidates sparred over financial reform in Wednesday night’s debate, with Mitt Romney attempting to tack to the center, proclaiming his support for Wall Street regulations. Republicans, however, have fought tooth-and-nail to neuter or eliminate the key agencies charged with writing and enforcing those regulations, among them the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Romney has derided as “the most powerful and unaccountable bureaucracy in the history of our nation.”

This week, however, brought fresh evidence of the need not only for strong regulations but strong regulators, like the CFPB, as well, to enforce those rules and police Wall Street’s financial institutions. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed suit this week against JPMorgan Chase for ”multiple fraudulent and deceptive acts” at Bear Stearns, which is now owned by JPMorgan, in the run-up to the financial crisis. In fact, the fraudaulent behavior was so bad, according to the civil complaint filed Monday, that Wall Street traders were circulating rumors of a full-blown meltdown at Bear Stearns more than a year before the firm nearly collapsed, triggering the financial crisis:

By the end of 2006, [Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities] traders at other banks were beginning to hear “rumors of a credit meltdown at [Bear Stearns]” … According to the trader who had heard the rumor, the “precise description” of  Bear Stearns’ state at that time was “def co[n] 3” - or “defensive condition 3” - the military term signifying a heightened state of alert. The trader sharing the “rumors” then pointedly remarked:  ”little due diligence upfront makes for a bad day 12 months later.”

Wall Street regulators were apparently so ineffectual that a full year of rumors about a “meltdown” at one of the world’s largest financial institutions escaped their attention. Now, Republicans are working relentlessly to gut the very institutions charged with preventing a similar meltdown from happening again.

(Source: upwithsteve)

August 6, 2012
"

In fact, the U.S. economy actually lost 1.2 million jobs last month. There were 134.1 million jobs in June, and 132.9 million jobs in July. (The numbers are in this PDF.)

Why the massive gap between the number everybody is reporting and the actual number?

There are huge seasonal fluctuations in employment that occur in a predictable way, year after year. Retailers staff up before Christmas, and lay people off in January. Public school districts staff up in the fall — and let people go in July, after the school year ends.

"

Actually, The U.S. Lost 1.2 Million Jobs Last Month

(via planetmoney)

Planet Money is such a buzzkill.

(via markcoatney)

They’re wrong and Wonkblog explained why.

(via markcoatney)

12:53pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZlkSWyQtBGD-
  
Filed under: Economy Jobs 
July 13, 2012
Food Stamps: House Republicans Push For Deeper Cuts To SNAP

The cuts, which are part of a broader farm bill, would reduce spending in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, by $16 billion over 10 years. The reduction is deeper than proposed SNAP cuts in a version of the farm bill that passed the Senate last month with bipartisan support.

Watching politicians fight over SNAP can be aggravating for people who rely on the program. Tanya Wells, 32, said her family of four receives the maximum monthly allotment of $668.

“We would love to not have to rely on the government for something as important as food, but we simply can not,” she said. “We do hope to be off of the system soon, because it causes a lot of extra stress to see your only food source constantly on the line because of political battles.”

Wells said she and her husband both lost their jobs near the end of 2007. She had worked as a logistics coordinator for an oil company while he had been a sheet metal mechanic — and they made a decent living.

“We were comfortable middle class and all of the sudden the rug got pulled out from under us,” Wells said.

(Source: huffingtonpost)

10:16am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZlkSWyPGhDD9
  
Filed under: news law business world economy 
June 1, 2012
The Job Stall

robertreich:

The White House must be telling itself there are still five months between now and Election Day, so the jobs picture could brighten. After all, we went through a similar mid-year slump in 2011 but came out fine.

But however you look at today’s jobs report, it’s a stunning reminder of how anemic the recovery has been – and how perilously close the nation is to falling into another recession.

Not only has the unemployment rate risen for the first time in almost a year, to 8.2 percent, but, more ominously, May’s payroll survey showed that employers created only 69,000 net new jobs. The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised its March and April reports downward. Only 96,000 new jobs have been created, on average, over the last three months.

Put this into perspective. Between December and February, the economy added an average of 252,000 jobs each month. To go from 252,000 to 96,000, on average, is a terrible slide.  At least 125,000 jobs are needed a month merely to keep up with the growth in the working-age population available to work.

Face it: The jobs recovery has stalled.
 
What’s going on? Part of the problem is the rest of the world. Europe is in the throes of a debt crisis and spiraling toward recession. China and India are slowing. Developing nations such as Brazil, dependent on exports to China, are feeling the effects and they’re slowing as well. All this takes a toll on U.S. exports.

But a bigger part of the problem is right here in the United States, and it’s clearly on the demand side of the equation. Big companies are still sitting on a huge pile of cash. They won’t invest it in new jobs because American consumers aren’t buying enough to justify the risk and expense of doing so.

Yet American consumers don’t have the cash or the willingness to spend more. Not only are they worried about keeping their jobs, but their wages keep dropping. The median wage continues to slide, adjusted for inflation. Average hourly earnings in May were up 2 cents – an increase of 1.7 percent from this time last year – but that’s less than the rate of inflation. And the value of their home – their biggest asset by far – is still declining.  The average workweek slipped to 34.4 hours in May.

Corporate profits are healthy largely because companies have found ways to keep payrolls down – substituting lower-paid contract workers, outsourcing abroad, using computers and new software applications. But that’s exactly the problem. In paring their payrolls, they’re paring their customers.

And we no longer have any means of making up for the shortfall in consumer demand. Federal stimulus spending is over. In fact, state and local governments continue to lay off large numbers. The government cut 13,000 jobs in May. Instead of a boost, government cuts have become a considerable drag on the rest of the economy.

Republicans will  have a field day with today’s jobs report, taking it as a sign that Obama’s economic policies have failed and we need instead their brand of fiscal austerity combined with more tax cuts for the wealthy.

But that’s precisely the reverse of what’s needed.

May 4, 2012
"If the same percentage of adults were in the workforce today as when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 11.1 percent. If the percentage was where it was when George W. Bush took office, the unemployment rate would be 13.2 percent."

— Ezra Klein • Remarking on declining labor force participation in the US. It’s often noted that official unemployment numbers understate the real percentage of people out of work, as they only tally people actively searching for a job. One consequence of this is that when labor force participation decreases—that is, when unemployed folks just give up and stop looking for work—employment actually “increases.” That’s why only 115,000 jobs were added last month, yet unemployment decreased from 8.2% to 8.1%. Since Barack Obama took office, labor force participation has declined 2%. It’s now at 63.6% which, Klein notes, is “a level not seen since the early days of the Reagan administration.” Here’s a chart. source (viafollow)

May 2, 2012
tpmmedia:


“The continuing growth of the wage gap between high and middle earners is the result of various laissez-faire policies (acts of omission as well as commission) including globalization, deregulation, privatization, eroded unionization, and weakened labor standards…The gap between the very highest earners — the top 1 percent — and all other earners, including other high earners, reflects the escalation of CEO and other managers’ compensation and the growth of compensation in the financial sector.”

— Larry Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute, speaking about the institute’s forthcoming study, “The State of Working America.”
TPM’s Brian Beutler looks the EPI’s new reflections on the status of the U.S. worker over the last several decades.

Among the most important charts of our times.

tpmmedia:

“The continuing growth of the wage gap between high and middle earners is the result of various laissez-faire policies (acts of omission as well as commission) including globalization, deregulation, privatization, eroded unionization, and weakened labor standards…The gap between the very highest earners — the top 1 percent — and all other earners, including other high earners, reflects the escalation of CEO and other managers’ compensation and the growth of compensation in the financial sector.”

— Larry Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute, speaking about the institute’s forthcoming study, “The State of Working America.”

TPM’s Brian Beutler looks the EPI’s new reflections on the status of the U.S. worker over the last several decades.

Among the most important charts of our times.

April 4, 2012
pantslessprogressive:

“It’s true, of course, that this budget will never become reality; after all, the electorate likes most of the programs that House Republicans want to kill. The budget is, as many have said, an act of political theatre, a way for Republicans to demonstrate what they stand for. But that’s precisely what makes it so revealing: what Ryan is proffering here is something like the platonic ideal of a budget. And what his plans tell us is that there’s very little the federal government has done over the past hundred and fifty years, apart from fighting wars, that the House Republicans approve of. In that sense, the Ryan plan is not about fiscal responsibility. It’s about pushing a very particular, and very ideological, view of the proper relationship between government and society. The U.S. does need to get its finances in order. It just doesn’t need to repeal the twentieth century to do so.” - James Surowiecki
[Above: CBPP graph via Ezra Klein]

pantslessprogressive:

“It’s true, of course, that this budget will never become reality; after all, the electorate likes most of the programs that House Republicans want to kill. The budget is, as many have said, an act of political theatre, a way for Republicans to demonstrate what they stand for. But that’s precisely what makes it so revealing: what Ryan is proffering here is something like the platonic ideal of a budget. And what his plans tell us is that there’s very little the federal government has done over the past hundred and fifty years, apart from fighting wars, that the House Republicans approve of. In that sense, the Ryan plan is not about fiscal responsibility. It’s about pushing a very particular, and very ideological, view of the proper relationship between government and society. The U.S. does need to get its finances in order. It just doesn’t need to repeal the twentieth century to do so.” - James Surowiecki

[Above: CBPP graph via Ezra Klein]

(via pantslessprogressive)

April 3, 2012
"[Paul] Ryan’s plan is a privatization of the prerequisites for opportunity. And so they become the province of people whose parents have made it."

— Jacob Hacker (author of one of my favorite books), addressing Rep. Paul Ryan’s awkward relationship with income mobility, in Ezra Klein’s latest piece on Ryan’s budget plan. (via pantslessprogressive)

(via pantslessprogressive)

10:31am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZlkSWyJ0SLfA
  
Filed under: Paul Ryan economy 
March 29, 2012
thenationmagazine:

This is what the Republicans’ economic plan looks like. Here’s what else happened in states that turned red in 2010.

thenationmagazine:

This is what the Republicans’ economic plan looks like. Here’s what else happened in states that turned red in 2010.

October 10, 2011
motherjones:

If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000—not $50,000. Sort of a big difference, no?

motherjones:

If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000—not $50,000. Sort of a big difference, no?