via Global Research/Paul Craig Roberts
Professor Michael Hudson (Counter Punch, [editor: Global Research] March 18) is correct that the orchestrated outrage over the $165 million AIG bonuses is a diversion from the thousand times greater theft from taxpayers of the approximately $200 billion “bailout” of AIG. Nevertheless, it is a diversion that serves an important purpose. It has taught an inattentive American public that the elites run the government in their own private interests.
Americans are angry that AIG executives are paying themselves millions of dollars in bonuses after having cost the taxpayers an exorbitant sum. Senator Charles Grassley put a proper face on the anger when he suggested that the AIG executives “follow the Japanese example and resign or go commit suicide.”
Yet, Obama’s White House economist, Larry Summers, on whose watch as Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration financial deregulation got out of control, invoked the “sanctity of contracts” in defense of the AIG bonuses.
But the Obama administration does not regard other contracts as sacred. Specifically: labor unions had to agree to give-backs in order for the auto companies to obtain federal help; CNN reports that “Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday [March 10] that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance”; the Washington Post reports that the Obama team has set its sights on downsizing Social Security and Medicare.
According to the Post, Obama said that “it is impossible to separate the country’s financial ills from the long-term need to rein in health-care costs, stabilize Social Security and prevent the Medicare program from bankrupting the government.”
After Washington’s trillion dollar bank bailouts and trillion dollar gratuitous wars for the sake of the military industry’s profits and Israeli territorial expansion, there is no money for Social Security and Medicare. Continue reading
WASHINGTON/PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were granted approval on Sunday to become bank holding companies regulated by the U.S. Federal Reserve, effectively killing off the investment banking model that has dominated Wall Street for more than 20 years.
The move enables Goldman (GS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to take deposits, gain easier access to financing and gives them more flexibility to buy retail banks. It was initiated by the only two big and independent U.S. investment banks left after the failure of Lehman Brothers LEHMQ.PK and the agreed takeover of Merrill Lynch (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) last week.
The change, part of a wrenching transformation of the Wall Street landscape amid financial markets turmoil in the past two weeks, means that previously freewheeling firms will be subject to much tighter regulation by the Fed, including tough capital requirements. Continue reading