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Here’s a hint people – When some guy asked you to do blatantly illegal stuff you are supposed to say NO!

March 12, 2010

James O’Keefe catches HUD on tape offering advice on defrauding the government.

-elsewhere-

Iran v. US – Iran wins because US doesn’t have the will power to face up to them.

The U.S. government is signaling to Tehran that Washington lacks the will to respond should Iran develop and test a nuclear weapon. This was made painfully clear by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who recently said that an Iranian bomb is “potentially a very, very destabilizing outcome” but taking military action to prevent it “also has a very, very destabilizing outcome.” Equivocations like this instruct Tehran to continue on its current course because the United States can’t tell the difference between a world with a nuclear Iran and a world without one.

Oh, if only there was some agency whose purpose was to carry out covert actions (like killing Iranian nuclear scientists or providing support to student protesters) that would advance the policies of the United States.

Obama announces plan to double US exports. How? We don’t build anything here anymore.

The president acknowledged the formidable barriers to his goal: doubts in Congress over new free-trade agreements, misaligned currencies that make Chinese products cheaper on global markets, and continued weakness in global demand, all problems that could dwarf efforts to promote U.S. products and services abroad.

(…)

In his remarks, made at the Export-Import Bank’s annual conference in Washington, Obama singled out China, saying that a change in the value of its currency was a central step in “rebalancing” a situation in which the United States “served as the consumer engine for the entire world,” racking up large trade deficits as a result. China, by contrast, accumulated large trade surpluses that Obama said should now be used to expand domestic consumption — and increase the products it imports from countries such as the United States. The U.S. trade deficit fell slightly in January, to $37.3 billion, largely because of a decline in petroleum imports.

Obama also promised a fresh push on an issue that could prove divisive in the Democratic Party — pending free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, Colombia and a group of Pacific countries — as well as on the broader round of world trade talks in Doha, Qatar. The migration of U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas has stoked opposition to free-trade agreements, which some say have given developing economies access to U.S. consumers without offsetting benefits for American workers.

The only way I can see to bring manufacturing back and to increase exports is to –

a) apply hugely punitive tariffs until China adjusts their currency
b) give companies that open new manufacturing here in the US tax incentives
c) Tax the hell out of companies that shift manufacturing overseas
d) improve vocational education so we have a workforce that is ready to go out and build things.
e) Leave the WTO – they are a hindrance not a help. Negotiate bilateral trade agreements but scrape the WTO framework.

Oh God, No! Glenn Beck key to surviving global economic holocaust.

And who exactly is Howell Raines to talk about honest journalism? Raines, the former editor of the NY Times complains about naked partisanship at Fox News. All I can say to that is “Hello Kettle, this is Pot. You’re black.”

Raines was lauded by many for instituting a program to increase diversity and to revive advocacy journalism.

(h/t)

Why Lehman Brothers collapsed

It is the Wall Street equivalent of a coroner’s report — a 2,200-page document that lays out, in new and startling detail, how Lehman Brothers used accounting sleight of hand to conceal the bad investments that led to its undoing.

(…)

But the examiner, Anton R. Valukas, also for the first time, laid out what the report characterized as “materially misleading” accounting gimmicks that Lehman used to mask the perilous state of its finances. The bank’s bankruptcy, the largest in American history, shook the financial world. Fears that other banks might topple in a cascade of failures eventually led Washington to arrange a sweeping rescue for the nation’s financial system.

According to the report, Lehman used what amounted to financial engineering to temporarily shuffle $50 billion of troubled assets off its books in the months before its collapse in September 2008 to conceal its dependence on leverage, or borrowed money. Senior Lehman executives, as well as the bank’s accountants at Ernst & Young, were aware of the moves, according to Mr. Valukas, the chairman of the law firm Jenner & Block and a former federal prosecutor, who filed the report in connection with Lehman’s bankruptcy case.

I have said before capitalism only works when there is transparency. This is the kind of thing that kills banks and markets.

At Naked Capitalism, they are accusing Geitner of complicity. Apparently based on this paragraph –

the Examiner questioned Lehman executives and other witnesses about Lehman’s financial health and reporting, a recurrent theme in their responses was that Lehman gave full and complete financial information to Government agencies, and that the Government never raised significant objections or directed that Lehman take any corrective action.

I haven’t read the report so I can’t say if there is more evidence or not but that paragraph by itself is not enough. They also point to a paragraph about failed stress tests but without reading it in context I am not going to comment on that.

Countering the Chinese (military) threat (h/t)

Interesting talk by Lawrence Lessig on copyright and openness. 20 minutes long but well worth watching.

(h/t)

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