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The Economy, The Recession, Recovery and Roots
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bieramar



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 4441
Location: Taylor Ranch, NM

PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:42 pm    Post subject: The Economy, The Recession, Recovery and Roots  Reply with quote

Two "must read" books for all who are dedicated to creating an economic system in the U.S. to enable everyone for enjoyment of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

1. ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE

As soon as the financial crisis erupted, the finger-pointing began.
Should the blame fall on Wall Street, Main Street, or Pennsylvania Avenue? On greedy traders, misguided regulators, sleazy subprime companies, cowardly legislators, or clueless home buyers?

According to Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, two of America's most acclaimed business journalists, the real answer is all of the above-and more. Many devils helped bring hell to the economy. And the full story, in all of its complexity and detail, is like the legend of the blind men and the elephant. Almost everyone has missed the big picture. Almost no one has put all the pieces together.

All the Devils Are Here goes back several decades to weave the hidden history of the financial crisis in a way no previous book has done.

It explores the motivations of everyone from famous CEOs, cabinet secretaries, and politicians to anonymous lenders, borrowers, analysts, and Wall Street traders. It delves into the powerful American mythology of homeownership.

And it proves that the crisis ultimately wasn't about finance at all; it was about human nature.

Among the devils you'll meet in vivid detail:

- Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide, who dreamed of spreading homeownership to the masses, only to succumb to the peer pressure-and the outsized profits-of the sleaziest subprime lending.

- Roland Arnall, a respected philanthropist and diplomat, who made his fortune building Ameriquest, a subprime lending empire that relied on blatantly deceptive lending practices.

- Hank Greenberg, who built AIG into a Rube Goldberg contraption with an undeserved triple-A rating, and who ran it so tightly that he was the only one who knew where all the bodies were buried.

- Stan O'Neal of Merrill Lynch, aloof and suspicious, who suffered from "Goldman envy" and drove a proud old firm into the ground by promoting cronies and pushing out his smartest lieutenants.

- Lloyd Blankfein, who helped turn Goldman Sachs from a culture that famously put clients first to one that made clients secondary to its own bottom line.

- Franklin Raines of Fannie Mae, who (like his predecessors) bullied regulators into submission and let his firm drift away from its original, noble mission.

- Brian Clarkson of Moody's, who aggressively pushed to increase his rating agency's market share and stock price, at the cost of its integrity.

- Alan Greenspan, the legendary maestro of the Federal Reserve, who ignored the evidence of a growing housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the lending practices that ultimately brought down Wall Street-and inflicted enormous pain on the country.

Just as McLean's The Smartest Guys in the Room was hailed as the best Enron book on a crowded shelf, so will All the Devils Are Here be remembered for finally making sense of the meltdown and its consequences.

http://www.amazon.com/All-Devils-Are-Here-Financial/dp/1591843634

2. GRIFTOPIA

The dramatic story behind the most audacious power grab in American history

The financial crisis that exploded in 2008 isn't past but prologue.

The stunning rise, fall, and rescue of Wall Street in the bubble-and-bailout era was the coming-out party for the network of looters who sit at the nexus of American political and economic power.

The grifter class - made up of the largest players in the financial industry and the politicians who do their bidding - has been growing in power for a generation, transferring wealth upward through increasingly complex financial mechanisms and political maneuvers.
The crisis was only one terrifying manifestation of how they've hijacked America's political and economic life....

Matt Taibbi here unravels the whole fiendish story, digging beyond the headlines to get into the deeper roots and wider implications of the rise of the grifters. He traces the movement's origins to the cult of Ayn Rand and her most influential - and possibly weirdest - acolyte, Alan Greenspan, and offers fresh reporting on the backroom deals that decided the winners and losers in the government bailouts.

He uncovers the hidden commodities bubble that transferred billions of dollars to Wall Street while creating food shortages around the world, and he shows how finance dominates politics, from the story of investment bankers auctioning off America's infrastructure to an inside account of the high-stakes battle for health-care reform - a battle the true reformers lost.

Finally, he tells the story of Goldman Sachs....

Taibbi has combined deep sources, trailblazing reportage, and provocative analysis to create the most lucid, emotionally galvanizing, and scathingly funny account yet written of the ongoing political and financial crisis in America.

This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the labyrinthine inner workings of politics and finance in this country, and the profound consequences for us all.

http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl/9780385529952.html

Check them out of a public library - or read them on line if you've got the shekels to spare.
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coebul



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 3285
Location: Northwest USA

PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will.   I can't argue with the list though I would add a few that are not on the list you posted.  


Barney Frank and Chris Dodd to name but 2.
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puc reducks



Joined: 21 Nov 2010
Posts: 1250

PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just got my copy of All The Devils Are Here today.  Required reading, I say.  Deftly written.  Cast of Characters and List of Acronyms--good for the aging brain.
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coebul



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you read "The Big Short"?
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puc reducks



Joined: 21 Nov 2010
Posts: 1250

PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:39 am    Post subject: Michael Lewis's "The Big Short" Reply with quote

Coebul,
No, I haven't.  Just checked The Big Short on amazon.

Here's the link for anyone else interested:  http://www.amazon.com/Big-Short-Inside-Doomsday-Machine/dp/0393072231/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1290544545&sr=8-1

Did you read it? Thoughts?
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bieramar



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 4441
Location: Taylor Ranch, NM

PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tomorrow, unless Congress acts, the extended unemployment benefits for 2,000,000+ workers expire, meaning that their last checks will be arriving in the next two weeks.

I care little about political ramifications of yet another extension of benefits, and think the arguments previously presented - that these are just lazy folks sucking on the government teat - are a lot of hooey.

My question is which benefits the citizens of the U.S. more;
(1) NOT extending the benefits and thus saving millions and millions of deficit spending and more debt (plus interest) which we will owe foreign investors, or
(2) Extending the benefits and keeping the millions of dollars flowing throughout small businesses through local economies across the nation during the holiday season and beyond?


==== new subject ====

Regarding The Big Short, it is definitely worth reading - but not owning and taking up space in your library.
Also Lewis' columns: http://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/lewis/
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coebul



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 3285
Location: Northwest USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Michael Lewis's "The Big Short" Reply with quote

puc reducks wrote:
Coebul,
No, I haven't.  Just checked The Big Short on amazon.

Here's the link for anyone else interested:  http://www.amazon.com/Big-Short-Inside-Doomsday-Machine/dp/0393072231/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1290544545&sr=8-1

Did you read it? Thoughts?
Excellent book.  Written about 3 or 4 investors that shorted Credit Default Swap and Derivatives while Lehman Bro, Bear Sterns and the lot were selling them and having their investors buy.   An interesting look at how it went down.  While it doesn't lay the blame at rating agencies exactly anyone with minimal intelligence can finger out S&P and Moodys were deep into the mess.  

Well written and fast 3-4 days evening reading.  Easy to understand you don't have to be an economist to understand.
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coebul



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 3285
Location: Northwest USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bieramar wrote:
Tomorrow, unless Congress acts, the extended unemployment benefits for 2,000,000+ workers expire, meaning that their last checks will be arriving in the next two weeks.

I care little about political ramifications of yet another extension of benefits, and think the arguments previously presented - that these are just lazy folks sucking on the government teat - are a lot of hooey.

My question is which benefits the citizens of the U.S. more;
(1) NOT extending the benefits and thus saving millions and millions of deficit spending and more debt (plus interest) which we will owe foreign investors, or
(2) Extending the benefits and keeping the millions of dollars flowing throughout small businesses through local economies across the nation during the holiday season and beyond?


==== new subject ====

Regarding The Big Short, it is definitely worth reading - but not owning and taking up space in your library.
Also Lewis' columns: http://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/lewis/
Smart money says the administration and Dem leadership will exchange unemployment benefits for and extension of the Bush Tax cuts for at least 2 years.
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bieramar



Joined: 19 Nov 2010
Posts: 4441
Location: Taylor Ranch, NM

PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

coebul wrote:
Smart money says the administration and Dem leadership will exchange unemployment benefits for and extension of the Bush Tax cuts for at least 2 years.


Both of which will significantly increase the debt and and deficit and - if not stimulate local economies - at least keep the money flowing and prevent more unemployment and financial hardship.  

Now looking at the political side. How will those incumbents who were re-elected, promising to reduce deficit spending, vote?  
Those defeated?

I support extending the unemployment benefits, but NOT extending the tax cuts en masse.  Each proposed tax cut extension should be debated and voted upon separately.
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coebul



Joined: 18 Nov 2010
Posts: 3285
Location: Northwest USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bieramar wrote:
coebul wrote:
Smart money says the administration and Dem leadership will exchange unemployment benefits for and extension of the Bush Tax cuts for at least 2 years.


Both of which will significantly increase the debt and and deficit and - if not stimulate local economies - at least keep the money flowing and prevent more unemployment and financial hardship.
I have always agreed that cutting off unemployment would significantly reduce federal flow of cash into the economy.  You get no argument from me here.  The problem is how do you prevent unemployment from becoming another entitlement (Welfare)?  How do you turn it off and how do you cut the deficit with out harming those individuals receiving unemployment.  It is a sticky wicket either way.    

bieramar wrote:
Now looking at the political side. How will those incumbents who were re-elected, promising to reduce deficit spending, vote?  
Those defeated?
Good question.  I asked a similar question when 0bama was elected.  Now that you have won whatcha gona do?  It is easier to campaign then it is to lead.  

bieramar wrote:
I support extending the unemployment benefits, but NOT extending the tax cuts en masse.  Each proposed tax cut extension should be debated and voted upon separately.
We disagree.  Many of those tax cuts if taken away will effect small and medium size businesses.  You opined on the last board that $trillions will begin to flow into the economy after the election.  According to most money shows this may not be the case "IF" the tax cuts are not extended for at least 2 years.  I understand you believe the government should control the economy via federal spending but others including myself believe business (GDP) has to control the economy.  

Deficit v GDP.  

There will be no tax cuts for the middle class with out a cut for everybody.  I am not a strong supporter of the progressive tax system this country has.  I would support a flat tax on everyone.  Say a national sales tax but there would have to be an corresponding reduction, if not complete end to income tax.  

The only way IMO to get a grasp of the deficit is for the entire country to feel the effects of those they elect to spend "their" taxes.


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