Wall Street WARZONE
America’s ‘Super-Rich’ Love Betting on Commodity Inflation: 12 Reasons Super-Rich get Richer, Poor get Poorer … Warning, Class Wars Increasing Worldwide!
by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
| Discuss | Print | 5/20/2011

Nobody wants to hear the truth. Not Big Oil. Not Big Ag. Not Wall Street. Not the Super-Rich. Not China’s billionaires. Not Washington insiders on the take. They do not want to hear the relentless warnings of a Cassandra Chicken Little Crying Wolf about the “End of the World as We Know It.” Screw the truth. In their minds all that matters is that they’re getting more powerful and richer and richer.

Nothing else matters in their upside-down world: Wealth increases at the top. Global poverty balloons everywhere else where living on $2 a day isn’t enough for a third of the world. Easy pickings. The rich only see more opportunities to make more money when they read in Foreign Policy that “in the United States, when world wheat prices rise by 75%, as they have over the last year, it means the difference between a $2 loaf of bread and a loaf costing maybe $2.10,” warns Lester Brown in “The New Geopolitics of Food … Inside a Hungry Planet.”

But if “you live in New Delhi, those skyrocketing costs really matter: A doubling in the world price of wheat actually means that the wheat you carry home from the market to hand-grind into flour for chapatis costs twice as much. And the same is true with rice. If the world price of rice doubles, so does the price of rice in your neighborhood market in Jakarta. And so does the cost of the bowl of boiled rice on an Indonesian family’s dinner table

New economics of commodity inflation, resource scarcity, and getting rich
“Welcome to the new food economics of 2011: Prices are climbing, but the impact is not at all being felt equally. For Americans, who spend less than one-tenth of their income in the supermarket, the soaring food prices we’ve seen so far this year are an annoyance, not a calamity. But for the planet’s poorest 2 billion people, who spend 50 to 70 percent of their income on food, these soaring prices may mean going from two meals a day to one. Those who are barely hanging on to the lower rungs of the global economic ladder risk losing their grip entirely. This can contribute—and it has—to revolutions and upheaval.

Yes, it will get worse, far worse. Global population is sky-rocketing, tripling from 3 to 9 billion between 1950 and 2050, as the “Super-Rich” at the top will get richer, as poverty spreads, as more and more go to bed hungry in emerging and developing economies. And “revolutions and upheaval” mean increased global wars over depleting hard assets. In the upside-down worldview the “Super-Rich” will soon have to deal more than that extra dime for a loaf of Walmart bread. The cost of America’s denial will be trillions as the threat of WWIII grows exponentially.

Remember the Pentagon forecast: Global population growth leads to “massive droughts, turning farmland into dust bowls and forests to ashes … By 2020 there is little doubt that something drastic is happening … an old pattern could emerge; warfare defining human life.” As this threat of WWIII increases, America is the major target for many emerging and developing economies.

“Commodity Inflation Revolution” ends America as “Global Super-Power”
Jeremy Grantham is a Cassandra, warning, crying wolf. Has been for many years. His firm manages $100 billion. He warned of the 2008 meltdown 18 months in advance. While Grantham’s latest Quarterly Letter offers faint signs of hope, the truth is, he’s predicting a no-win scenario for America in “Time to Wake Up: Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices Are Over Forever.” ….

read full column at MarketWatch.com

Lobbyists Rule, Reform a Joke, Democracy Dead: “Washington’s Biggest Business” is Delivering Mega-Billion Payoffs to Wall Street, CEOs & Forbes 400
by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
| Discuss | Print | 11/6/2010

Wall Street is single largest lobbyist and donor to politicians and their election campaigns. Lobbyists operate in the shadows, yet are arguably the most powerful force in America’s pseudo-democracy today, far more powerful than our elected officials and certainly more powerful than the voting public. They work behind the scenes as conduits for big money seeking big favors, what are often called “bag men” peddling money for influence through campaign donations to Senators, Congressmen and presidential candidates, to secure favorable legislative, regulatory policies, and most of all, huge tax benefits and grants of cash from the federal budget now dispensing about $3 trillion annually to the favored elite.

Lobbyists are hired guns, influence peddlers. Their allegiance is to whomever’s paying their fees—a foreign dictator, an Indian casino, farm conglomerate, oil giant, even a small town in Middle America. And yes, lobbyists often push the agenda of one or the other political party. But in every case, lobbyists are paid to get specific government favors, money or tax benefits for a specific “client.” Their focus is narrow, their goals selfish. They are not voters, not patriots and they’re definitely not acting for the common good, in “best interests of the country.” In fact, the “special interests” of a lobbyist’s clients are usually not in best interests of America.

How bad is it? In “Congressional Revolving Doors: The Journey from Congress to K Street,” Public Citizen (LobbyingInfo.org) wrote: “The revolving door on the journey from Capitol Hill to the lucrative world of federal lobbying is spinning at a rapid rate. Congress is no longer a mere destination for those seeking a seat in one of the world’s most famous legislative bodies. For many lawmakers, it has become a way station to wealth, a necessary period of job training and network building so that after leaving their public service jobs they can sell their influence to those with deep pockets … Lobbying is the top career choice for departing members of Congress.”

Lobbying is now “Washington’s Biggest Business”
Lobbying is actually quite new in American history. A couple years ago the Washington Post ran a revealing 25-part special series: “Citizen K Street: The Life & Career of Gerald S. J. Cassidy: How Lobbying Became Washington’s Biggest Business.” Cassidy is the founder and owner of “the most lucrative lobbying firm in Washington … a godfather of the influence business.” The series later became Robert Kaiser’s brilliant: So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying & the Corrosion of American Government. (More)

Fat-Cat Wall Street Lobbyists Spending $400 Million to Undermine Financial Reforms, Capitalism, Democracy & Obama. Warning, They’re Winning The War!
by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
| Discuss | Print | 5/12/2010

Yes, Wall Street wins, again. Wall Street’s control America is a drama right out of a Scorsese film about the mafia and crime in New York. They bought off Chris Dodd, who’s capitulated to the darkside while “interviewing” for a million dollar job as a lobbyist. They bought off, President Obama. Turns out he’s no Luke Skywalker, no ”game-changer,” not even much of a Chicago politican. They spent $400 million to kill financial reforms in Congress, to make absolutely sure the American public gets screwed, again … and in the process, they are setting up the next collapse. The big one. The dotcom crash didn’t do it. The subprime credit meltdown didn’t do it. What will? Another, bigger event … a combo of the “Collapse of the American Empire,” plus the “Great Depression II.”

If financial reform ain’t dead, it’ll end up watered down to nothing. That was obvious in a recent Charlie Rose interview with financial reformer Elizabeth Warren in Bloomberg/BusinessWeek: Outrage and Financial Reform. Warren’s a Harvard Law School Professor chairing of the Congressional Oversight Panel. The panel was ”created in 2008 to monitor the Treasury’s bank bailout and to review the regulation of financial markets.” Wall Street hates any reform that would expose their insatiable greed fighting all financial reforms in America, especially the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). So Wall Street doesn’t like Warren much. Here are a few clips summarizing why she’s an Eliot Ness character they’d like to eliminate:

There are seven bureaucracies in Washington right now that each own a piece of consumer financial protection. Bloated, inefficient, and either ignored and ineffective or captured by the large financial institutions. [This is] the regulatory system we’ve got now. It works very well for the large financial institutions because it means no effective regulation. What I want is to take this agency out of those seven agencies, shrink it down, and make it effective. You’ve got to have an agency that’s ultimately independent, whether it’s located within the Fed, within Treasury, within the Department of Agriculture, or whether it sits in its own separate place. The key is whether or not it is functionally independent. Does it write its own rules? Does it enforce those rules and does it have access to a budget that’s independent of the folks who want to smother it? (More)

America has “Lost Its Moral Compass:” Lawmakers, Lobbyists, Bankers … and Main Street Investors Too?
by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
| Discuss | Print | 5/8/2010

The “blame game” grows: Nothing’s getting done … Congress is dysfunctional … no, it’s President Obama … or the GOP’s “Tea Party of No-No” … gridlock and filibuster threats frightening wussy Democrats … Goldman Sachs is a favorite target … and of course, the new villian, lobbyists. Matt Bai writing in a NYTimes, Laws For Sale, adds some interesting perspective, first noting how bad the lobbyists are, then shifting the blame to Congress. However, Bai may be missing the gigger picture, how American government has morphed from a democracy to ”corporate  anarchy” where it’s “every man-for-himself,” each special interest and their lobbyists are forced to fight in for their slice of the $1.5 trillion federal budget pie. But I get ahead of myself. Here’s Matt Bai’s insightful comments:

Plaintiffs’ lawyers must be holding their heads a little higher when they walk into P.T.A. meetings and neighborhood parties these days, knowing that corporate lobbyists have overtaken them as the most despised professionals in America. Lobbyists have never been especially popular … As a candidate, Barack Obama made a point of vowing to banish them from the White House. (This proved considerably harder to do than it was to say … In the past year, though, antilobbyist fervor has grown even more intense, as hope for a new governing era has given way to frustration with a divided capital and a dysfunctional Congress. (More)

End of “Clean Coal” Myth? No, Coal’s ‘Toxic Sludge’ Is Deadly, But It Makes Mining Investors Very Rich, It’s Everywhere, Barely Regulated & Obama’s Silent
by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
| Discuss | Print | 4/29/2010

Don’t miss Rolling Stone magazine Coal’s Toxic Sludge. Yes, “clean coal is a myth” and deadly. But it’s “barely regulated, and everywhere,” makes miners and their investors very rich, and it’s one of America’s biggest resources. Investors beware, Jeremy Grantham, one of America’s most respected money managers warns: “We’re Running Out of Resources” … oil is past its peak and “nothing can reverse the decline” … anthracite is “basically mined out” … bituminous has “probably also passed its peak.” So investors be warned: Grantham’s GMO firm manages $100 billion and he doesn’t like what he sees ahead for his fund’s investors. Back in 2007 Grantham was one of the few early warnings of the subprime meltdown. Listen to him, even though he can’t do much because Big Oil, Big Coal and their lobbyists have a power grip on Washington’s throat.  Some day we’ll have to invest differently. Jeff Goodell asks:

Can Obama crack down on America’s second-biggest river of industrial waste? Big coal has spent millions of dollars over the past year touting the virtues of what the industry calls ‘clean coal,’ but it’s no secret that coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel. When you burn it, coal releases monstrous quantities of deadly compounds and gases — and it all has to go somewhere. The worst of the waste — heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and mercury, all of which are highly toxic — are concentrated in the ash that’s left over after coal is burned or in the dirty sludge that’s scrubbed from smokestacks. Each year, coal plants in the U.S. churn out nearly 140 million tons of coal ash — more than 900 pounds for every American — generating the country’s second-largest stream of industrial waste, surpassed only by mining. If you piled all the coal ash on a single football field, it would create a toxic mountain more than 20 miles high. (More)

USAToday: ‘Political Non-Profits Ramp Up Their Rhetoric.’ But Why Trust a ‘Committee for Truth in Politics’ That Refuses to Disclose ‘The Truth’ About Who’s Secretly Bankrolling $5 Million of Their Political Propaganda?
by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
| Discuss | Print | 4/28/2010

Read Fredreka Schouten’s article in USAToday: Political Non-Profits Ramp Up Rhetoric Ahead of Elections. No, this is not about any infringement of First Amendment rights that bothers people. It’s the lack of transparency, whether in Washington, on Wall Street or Main Street … you can’t see the source of the rhetoric nor their biases … so you can’t gauge how much these so-called “non-profits” will “profit” by successfully selling their message and manipulating the public, when, for example, you’re trying to figure out whose behind a “storefront” organization that has a deceptive name like “Committee  for Truth in Politics” but refuses to tell the “real truth” about who’s behind their $5 million political propaganda machine. Here’s the story in USAToday:

A little-known group, the Committee for Truth in Politics, recently made a big splash: It spent $5 million on television ads denouncing Democratic efforts in Congress to impose new regulations on the financial industry. The public can’t find out who’s behind the ads, because the group doesn’t have to disclose its donors under federal law. The group’s lawyer Jim Bopp, a Republican activist from Terre Haute, Ind., won’t reveal details about donors or organizers, saying they must be protected from lawmakers who will “attack and punish people who are willing to step forward and tell the truth about politicians.” (More)

Is Senator Dodd Just “Interviewing” for His Next Gig as a Wall Street Lobbyist? Yes, First by Secretly Sabotaging the New Consumer Protection Agency!
by Paul B Farrell, JD, PhD
| Discuss | Print | 4/12/2010

Why is Senator Chris Dodd’s final act to sabotage the Consumer Financial Protection Agency? Answer: He’s helping himself, not the little guy. His new proposal for CFPA is a screwing for taxpayers, investors, savers, mortgagees and consumers. It’s clear Dodd is following a time-honored Washington tradition that’s creating the new “Lobbyist Nation of America:” Dodd is “interviewing” for a high-paying job as a lobbyist. That’s why he’s screwing the American public by proposing a watered-down pro-Wall Street version of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency that offers few protections, no rulemaking powers and no independent “agency” status in Treasury, as it gets buried deep in The Fed’s dingy basement, where Bernanke can avoid it. Barney Frank calls it a “bad joke.”

In short, Dodd is trading his integrity for a nice big fat salary later when he becomes a lobbyist. Lobbyist? How do I know that? More than a hunch, I’m playing the odds. Over a third of all lobbyists were either members of Congress or staffers before becoming lobbyists. Watchdog Public Citizen says Congress is a revolving door: “Congress is no longer a mere destination for those seeking a seat in one of the world’s most famous legislative bodies. For many lawmakers, it has become a way station to wealth, a necessary period of job training and network building so that after leaving their public service jobs they can sell their influence to those with deep pockets.” (More)