Posts Tagged ‘Finances’
The unmitigated gall of this man is mind-blowing. His administration’s gun-running scheme armed Mexican drug cartels and resulted in the deaths of at least 2 border agents and 300 Mexican citizens. And he has the nerve to blame US??
President Barack Obama, speaking in Mexico City on Friday, said the United States is responsible for much of the crime and violence in Mexico because of the demand for drugs and the illegal smuggling of guns across the southern border.
He told the crowd, “We understand that the root cause of violence that’s been happening here in Mexico for which so many Mexicans have suffered is the demand for illegal drugs in the United States.” He later added, “We also recognize that most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States.”
Obama acknowledged the illegal smuggling of guns into Mexico by American criminals, but did not mention the Justice Department’s Operation Fast and Furious that allowed the flow of about 2,000 U.S. guns to Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Fast and Furious began in the fall of 2009 and was halted in December 2010 after two of the weapons from the DOJ gun walking program were found at the murder scene of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
Obama didn’t just offer a few throwaway lines at the issue, taking playful jabs at his Republican opponents. He actually seemed to be blaming Americans for the corrupt and violent Mexican drug culture.
He said, “Much of the root cause of violence that’s been happening here in Mexico, for which so many Mexicans have suffered, is the demand for illegal drugs in the United States.”
Can you believe that? Who thinks that way, much less a United States president? Whose team is he on? Whom is he fighting for? Wouldn’t you think that if the captain of our team were going to complain about problems between our two countries, he would direct his criticisms at those committing the crimes in their own country and those who also come to our country in droves illegally, even if the numbers have decreased recently because of Obama’s economy?
But no, it’s our fault. It’s always our fault, even when he’s the president. What an impotent guy he must be not to be able to have a more positive effect on us evil Americans.
But he didn’t stop there. Why should he have? He had a perfect platform to kill a couple of eagles with the same stone. He next took aim at America’s evil gun manufacturers.
He said: “Most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States. I think many of you know that in America, our Constitution guarantees our individual right to bear arms. And as president, I swore an oath to uphold that right, and I always will. But at the same time, as I’ve said in the United States, I will continue to do everything in my power to pass common-sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people. That can save lives here in Mexico and back home in the United States. It’s the right thing to do.”
It is disgraceful enough that this American president would gratuitously paint America in a negative light before foreign people and their leaders (absent some egregious, deliberate action by the United States). But it is especially reprehensible that he attacked Americans and American gun manufacturers for the purpose of advancing his political and policy agenda in the United States.
If he wanted to apologize to Mexico, perhaps he should have started with Fast and Furious and the illegal guns his administration walked into Mexico without its permission or knowledge, which resulted in the death of some 200 Mexicans. But his apology ought to be on behalf of his administration, including himself and his attorney general, not America generally.
Who needs a Bill of Rights or due process of law? The same government that claims to be “of the people, by the people, for the people” really considers itself completely above the law and unaccountable to the people.
When will Americans finally stand up to these abuses of power and say, “ENOUGH”?
The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t believe it needs a search warrant to read your e-mail.
Newly disclosed documents prepared by IRS lawyers say that Americans enjoy “generally no privacy” in their e-mail, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and similar online communications — meaning that they can be perused without obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge.
That places the IRS at odds with a growing sentiment among many judges and legislators who believe that Americans’ e-mail messages should be protected from warrantless search and seizure. They say e-mail should be protected by the same Fourth Amendment privacy standards that require search warrants for hard drives in someone’s home, or a physical letter in a filing cabinet.
An IRS 2009 Search Warrant Handbook obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that “emails and other transmissions generally lose their reasonable expectation of privacy and thus their Fourth Amendment protection once they have been sent from an individual’s computer.” The handbook was prepared by the Office of Chief Counsel for the Criminal Tax Division and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
By that reasoning, a letter or package that leaves your home on it’s way to the intended recipient would would have no “reasonable expectation of privacy” either….except that it DOES.
If the government is not permitted to snoop through your physical mail without a warrant, neither should they be permitted to snoop through your electronic communications.
The ATF, along with the DOJ, allowed hundreds of American guns to fall into the hands of dangerous drug cartels.
But don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll be much more responsible when it comes to your personal information.
A recent solicitation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) reveals that the agency is seeking a “massive” online database capable of pulling up individuals’ personal information, connections and associates.
On March 28, ATF posted the notice on FedBizOpps.gov, entitled “Investigative System.” The solicitation was updated on April 5 with a few minor changes.
The document says that the system will be utilized by staff “to provide rapid searches on various entities for example; names, telephone numbers, utility data and reverse phone look-ups, as a means to assist with investigations, and background research on people, assets and businesses.”
The system is described as a “massive online data repository system that contains a wide variety of data sources both historically and current that can be utilized in support of investigations and backgrounds.”
[...] The system “provides a means to rapidly check records across the country” and is “necessary in assisting investigators, agents and analyst to find people, their assets, relatives, associates and more.”
The ATF says they will use this system to provide information to Intelligence Analysts, Special Agents, Inspectors, Financial Investigators and Law Enforcement.
Who needs a warrant anymore? Don’t you feel safer?
My grandparents sacrificed and saved for years so they could have a comfortable retirement and still leave an inheritance for their children. They succeeded. They live comfortably independent well into their 80′s, and left a legacy to be proud of. We used to call this responsibility.
According to the Obama administration, however, people who make wise retirement choices need to be reigned in. The government should decide how much you can save, and how “comfortable” your retirement lifestyle is permitted to be (keep in mind that with today’s lifespan, an average person can live up to 20 or 30 years after they retire, which means they need to save MORE than previous generations, not less).
As far as the Left is concerned, there is no such thing as private property. There is only what the ruling class “allows” you to keep.
What President Barack Obama has planned in his upcoming budget, while not exactly a Cypriot-style, government-based raid on private savings accounts, comes too close for comfort. As widely reported Monday, the Obama budget document – which is already a month late – will include a new proposal to limit the total amount an individual can put aside in tax deferred retirement savings like 401Ks and IRAs to an amount sufficient to generate an annual income in the golden years of less than $250,000 per year.
Why do it? According to a senior administration official, The Hill reported, “wealthy taxpayers can currently ‘accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.’”
Who says? It is true that some people use retirement savings plans as a form of tax avoidance, but tax avoidance was, the last time anyone checked, still legal. Major corporations that have the imprimatur of approval from the Obama administration like General Electric and General Motors do it all the time.
What the White House may propose is not a matter of fairness, as the president and his allies are sure to cast it, but one that strikes at the heart of the right to keep for ourselves the product of our hard work.
To Obama, that idea that some may have saved more than others for their retirement is unfair, So is the idea, apparently, that some people make more than others. It’s class envy at its most ugly, designed to appeal to the more than 40 percent of Americans who pay no income tax and who voted for the president in 2012.
It is not a legitimate function of government to determine when a person has saved enough for retirement. “Enough” is a nebulous word just like “rich.” If a cap is in the offing in the near term, can confiscation, a la Cyprus, be far behind?
It’s theft. Pure and simple.
Welcome to the “new normal” under Obamanomics. In Europe, where Keynesian economics and Democratic Socialism has dominated for decades, unemployment rates are in the 20′s. For the younger generation, they’re even higher. Yet, instead of learning from their mistakes, Obama and the Democrats insist on repeating them. Millions of innocent people are being hurt in the process.
After a full year of fruitless job hunting, Natasha Baebler just gave up.
She’d already abandoned hope of getting work in her field, working with the disabled. But she couldn’t land anything else, either — not even a job interview at a telephone call center.
Until she feels confident enough to send out resumes again, she’ll get by on food stamps and disability checks from Social Security and live with her parents in St. Louis.
“I’m not proud of it,” says Baebler, who is in her mid-30s and is blind. “The only way I’m able to sustain any semblance of self-preservation is to rely on government programs that I have no desire to be on.”
Baebler’s frustrating experience has become all too common nearly four years after the Great Recession ended: Many Americans are still so discouraged that they’ve given up on the job market.
Older Americans have retired early. Younger ones have enrolled in school. Others have suspended their job hunt until the employment landscape brightens. Some, like Baebler, are collecting disability checks.
It isn’t supposed to be this way. After a recession, an improving economy is supposed to bring people back into the job market.
Sadly, until we get rid of Obamanomics, the jobs won’t be coming back. Business aren’t hiring because they never know when they’re going to be hit with a costly new regulation or tax. Entrepreneurs aren’t willing to take the risk to start a new business in such a hostile business climate.
Donald Lambro at Human Events predicts that we’re in for “Four More Years of Pain“:
President Obama heads into the third month of his second term, still unable to find a cure for a sluggish economy, weak employment numbers and his own slipping job approval scores.
Second terms are usually challenging for presidents who have won re-election without having the slightest idea about what they will do over the next four years. And that’s what we are witnessing now with Obama, whose biggest problem is the anemic, job-challenged economy.
[...] The depressing headlines of the past few days tell a sad tale of what the economy is like under his presidency:
– “Weekly Jobless Claims Get Weaker as Outlook Dims” was the gloomy headline over a Reuters news wire story Thursday morning on the CNBC website.
“The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose to its highest level in four months last week, suggesting the labor market recovery lost some steam in March,” Reuters reported.
– “Hiring Is Weaker at Private Companies,” a Washington Post headline blared Thursday.
“Companies hired at the weakest pace in five months in March as recent strong demand for construction jobs evaporated and growth in the vast services sector slowed, signs that the economic recovery could be hitting a soft patch,” the newspaper reported.
That’s the conclusion of the ADP National Employment Report Wednesday, which showed “that private employers added 158,000 jobs last month.” The ADP job survey said “the gain was the smallest since October.”
A separate report Wednesday on the services industry, the economy’s largest job sector, showed that employment growth “pulled back in March.”
You do not hear any of these reports on the nightly TV news because the networks cherry-pick reports that feed the White House line of a continuing economic recovery.
[...] Thankfully, there are economic reporters who resist touting the White House line that everything is rosier under Obama’s policies.
“We’re approaching the four-year anniversary of the economic recovery, and it still doesn’t feel like much of one, what with the unemployment rate at 7.7 percent and wages stagnant over the past five years,” Neil Irwin, the Post’s veteran economic analyst, recently reported.
Obama is so blinded by ideology that the tragic results of his policies on display all around him aren’t enough to convince him that his policies need to change.
Even as the Obama White House prepares for a star-studded White House concert featuring Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, and Justin Timberlake, figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that roughly 50 million Americans—one in six—now live below the poverty line.
Additionally, one in five American children have fallen below the poverty line; the last time poverty levels were this high, Lyndon Baines Johnson was president.
“In the last three years, there’s been a great change in the kinds of people we are serving,” said Director of Community Services at Catholic Charities of Baltimore Mary Anne O’Donnell. “There are increasing numbers of people who owned a home, lost their jobs, end up living in their car and are coming with children to our soup kitchen.”
The U.S. government defines a family of four earning under $23,021 as living in poverty. Income used to compute poverty status does not include non-cash benefits, such as food stamps and housing subsidies.
Welfare program enrollments have exploded under President Barack Obama. Americans on food stamps now outnumber the combined populations of 24 U.S. states, costing taxpayers more than double the amount spent on food stamps five years ago. In January 2009, 31.9 million Americans received food stamps. Today, that figure is 47.79 million.
The foundation for the housing crisis was laid with the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, where the government took it upon itself to encourage home ownership by pressuring banks to lend to lower-income buyers, often to meet arbitrary racial quotas. Obviously they haven’t learned a thing from where that got us.
Would it surprise anyone to learn that as a lawyer, Obama sued banks to force them to issue subprime loans? He also worked for ACORN, which specialized in using the Community Reinvestment Act to shake down banks and pressure them to loan money to low-income minorities or face “discrimination” charges.
According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration is pushing big banks to make more home loans available to Americans with bad credit – the same kind of government guidance that helped blow up the housing market:
In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.
Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.
Think about this statement. The administration is asking banks – banks that Washington bails out; banks that Washington crafts regulations for — to embrace risky policies that put the institution and its investors (not to mention, all of us) in a precarious position. So precarious, in fact, that banks have to ask government if they can be freed of any legal or financial consequences.
What could possibly go wrong?
These types of government policies initially emerged the mid-1970s, when “progressive” Democrats in Congress began a campaign to help low-income minorities become homeowners. This led to the passage, in 1977, of theCommunity Reinvestment Act (CRA), a mandate for banks to make special efforts to seek out and lend to borrowers of meager means. Founded on the premise that government intervention is necessary to counteract the fundamentally racist and inequitable nature of American society and the free market, the CRA was eventually transformed from an outreach effort into a strict quota system by the Clinton administration. Under the new arrangement, if a bank failed to meet its quota for loans to low-income minorities, it ran the risk of getting a low CRA rating from the FDIC. This, in turn, could derail the bank’s efforts to expand, relocate, merge, etc. From a practical standpoint, then, banks had no recourse but to drastically lower their standards on down-payments and underwriting, and to approve many loans even to borrowers with weak credit credentials. As Hoover Institution Fellow Thomas Sowell explains, this led to “skyrocketing rates of mortgage delinquencies and defaults,” and the rest is history.
The CRA was by no means the only mechanism designed by government to impose lending quotas on financial institutions. For instance, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) developed rules encouraging lenders to dramatically hike their loan-approval rates for minority applicants and began bringing legal actions against mortgage bankers who failed to do so, regardless of the reason. This, too, caused lenders to lower their down-payment and income requirements.
Moreover, HUD pressured the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest sources of housing finance in the United States, to earmark a steeply rising number of their own loans for low-income borrowers. Many of these were subprime mortgages—loans characterized by higher interest rates and less favorable terms in order to compensate lenders for the high credit risk they were incurring.
Additional pressure toward this end was applied by community organizations like the pro-socialist ACORN. By accusing banks—however frivolously or unjustly—of having engaged in racially discriminatory lending practices that violated the mandates of the CRA, these groups commonly sued banks toprevent them from expanding or merging as they wished. Barack Obama, ACORN’s staunch ally, was strongly in favor of this practice. Indeed, in a 1994 class-action lawsuit against Citibank, Obama represented ACORN in demanding more favorable terms for subprime homebuyer mortgages. After four years of being dragged through the mud, a beleaguered Citibank—anxious to put an end to the incessant smears (charging racism) that Obama and his fellow litigators were hurling in its direction (to say nothing of its mounting legal bills)—agreed to settle the case.
Forbes magazine puts it bluntly: “Obama has been a staunch supporter of the CRA throughout his public life.” In other words, he has long advocated the very policies that already have reduced the real-estate market to rubble. And now he is actively pushing those very same practices again.
Obama Proclaims April ‘Financial Capability Month,’ Plans To Teach Young People ‘How to Budget Responsibly’
You can’t make this stuff up! And no, it wasn’t an April Fools joke!
President Barack Obama, who has increased the national debt by $53,377 per household, has proclaimed April“National Financial Capability Month,” during which his administration will do things such as teach young people “how to budget responsibly.”
“I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices,” Obama said in an official proclamation released Friday.
[...] The proclamation on the White House website links to two other government websites: the site for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and MyMoney.gov, which includes materials from 21 federal agencies.
Listed among the “popular topics” on MyMoney.gov is “Managing Debt and Credit,” which includes a link to a page on the Federal Reserve’s website called “Getting the most from your credit card.” Tip 2 on that page is: “Stay Below Your Credit Limit.”
When Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, the total debt of the federal government was $10,626,877,048,913.08. As of the close of business on March 28, 2013, the total debt of the federal government was $16,766,988,432,792.62—an increase of $6,140,111,383,879.54 since Obama took office.
That means that under Obama the federal debt has increased $53,377 for each one of the 115,031,000 households the Census Bureau says there are now in the United States. The president is required by law to submit a budget proposal for the next fiscal year by the first Monday in February.
Thus far, Obama has not submitted his budget proposal for fiscal 2014.
It’s the liberal way to perceive yourself as diametrically opposed to what and who you actually are. Therefore, Barack Obama being a financially incapable liberal is precisely the reason why the man who has yet to submit a budget proposal for 2014 feels he’s qualified to teach young people “how to budget responsibly.”
What’s next, Bill and Hillary Clinton running a Marital Cohesiveness and Fidelity Seminar? How about first daughters Sasha and Malia, who took not one but two spring break vacations, sharing with the younger set how to spend a week at the Atlantis in the Bahamas and River Run in Sun Valley, Idaho on a limited budget? Sorry, but if Barack Obama is financially capable, then outgoing MSNBC host Ed Schultz is qualified to host a new “Eradicate Bias in the Media” show.
Then again, this is the president who is expert at exempting himself from what he insists others do. That is why a person who clearly has no understanding of sound financial principles can say with a straight face: “I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices.”
Wait! When Obama says “all Americans” does “all” include himself and the $10 million dollar vacationer he’s married to, or does “all” just mean everybody except Mr. and Mrs. Obama?
Either way, the president must truly believe that he’s an authority on stretching a dollar, because in his “National Financial Capability Month” proclamation, he said that his “[a]dministration is dedicated to helping people make sound decisions in the marketplace.” That marketplace, by the way, is the same marketplace that he’s currently in the process of destroying. It could be that President Obama thinks that the soundest way to save money in the marketplace is to exchange the marketplace for something altogether different.
In Cyprus, politicians are trying to bail themselves out by stealing directly from people’s bank accounts. In America, the government is more subtle.
It’s been stealing from us for years – through inflation. Thomas Sowell explains:
One of the big differences between the United States and Cyprus is that the U.S. government can simply print more money to get out of a financial crisis. But Cyprus cannot print more euros, which are controlled by international institutions.
Does that mean that Americans’ money is safe in banks? Yes and no.
The U.S. government is very unlikely to just seize money wholesale from people’s bank accounts, as is being done in Cyprus.
But does that mean that your life savings are safe?
No. There are more sophisticated ways for governments to take what you have put aside for yourself and use it for whatever the politicians feel like using it for.
If they do it slowly but steadily, they can take a big chunk of what you have sacrificed for years to save, before you are even aware, much less alarmed.
That is in fact already happening.
When officials of the Federal Reserve System speak in vague and lofty terms about “quantitative easing,” what they are talking about is creating more money out of thin air, as the Federal Reserve is authorized to do — and has been doing in recent years, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a month.
When the federal government spends far beyond the tax revenues it has, it gets the extra money by selling bonds. The Federal Reserve has become the biggest buyer of these bonds, since it costs them nothing to create more money.
This new money buys just as much as the money you sacrificed to save for years. But more money in circulation, without a corresponding increase in output, means rising prices.
Although the numbers in your bank book may remain the same, part of the purchasing power of your money is transferred to the government. Is that really different from what Cyprus has done?
Through the centuries – in historic cultures like that of Yap Island who used giant, immovable stone disks for commerce, to today’s United States, whose Dollar fiat currency exists primarily in digital form – “money” is able to be exchanged for goods and services because society agrees to accept it (at a certain rate of exchange).
But what happens when a society starts doubting the value of its money?
Fed, the Great & Powerful
The podcast goes into the mind-blowingly simple process by which new money is created in America by the Federal Reserve (or the “Fed”). That is to say:
- The Fed holds a meeting
- Those in the room decide how many more dollars they think the world needs
- Someone walks over to a computer and adds that many dollars to the banks, with a few clicks of the keyboard
The banks then, if they want to, lend this new money out into the economy on a fractional basis, adding even more “thin air” dollars to the nation’s money supply.
This unique ability in America lends the Fed enormous power. The power to create new money from nothing. With no limit.
And with that power, the Fed can control and/or influence economies and markets the world over.
Should such power exist? And if so, should a single private entity owned by the major players in the banking system be allowed to wield it?
Such power certainly has its dangers.
[...] Money is not wealth. It is merely a claim on wealth.
You can’t print your way to prosperity. History is abundantly clear on that.
With the clarity of hindsight, it’s now obvious how the Fed has now painted itself into a corner.
[...] Cyprus has awakened the world to the reality that central planners can appropriate their money with the bang of a gavel. And while we don’t yet know with certainty how things will unfold in Cyprus, we can project that events there have shaken society’s confidence in the soundness of fiat currency in general. If we know it can be confiscated or devalued overnight, we are less likely to unquestioningly accept its stated value. This doubt that strikes at the very foundation of modern monetary systems.
Cyprus is meaningful in the way that it shines a light on both the importance of hard assets and the risk it poses to market stability. It certainly increases the risk of our prediction of a 40%+ stock-market correction by September, as investors begin to realize that current high values are simply the ephemeral effect of too much money, instead of a sign of true value.
At this point, prudence suggests we prepare for the worst (by parking capital on the sidelines, investing in our personal resilience, etc.) and add to our hard asset holdings (like precious metals bullion, productive real estate, etc.) as insurance to protect our purchasing power. The dollar may strengthen for a bit versus other currencies and perhaps the financial markets, but the long-term trend is a safer and surer bet: Dollars will be inflated. There will be more of them in the future than there are today. So, while our dollars still have the purchasing power they do, we should use the window of time we have now to exchange paper money for tangible wealth at today’s prices.
Cyprus is only the first domino.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has struck a deal with the European Union and International Monetary Fund that will seize up to 40% of uninsured funds from wealthier depositors with over 100,000 euros and will not siphon funds from those below that amount.
The 10 billion euros ($13 billion) bailout plan calls for the Cyprus Popular Bank to be dissolved and all its viable assets transferred to the country’s biggest bank, Bank of Cyprus.
Presently, Cypriot banks have imposed a 100 euros ATM withdraw limit, and Cyprus border officials at air and sea ports have been ordered to confiscate the funds of any traveler attempting to leave with over 10,000 euros.
How dare they try to keep the money they worked so hard for and saved AFTER taxes were already paid on it? Don’t they know that private property is an illusion under Socialism? That the government is free to spend as irresponsibly as it wants, and can steal your money at will to pay the tab? That’s what they’ve been voting for all this time, right? Or didn’t they realize it?
Understandably, Cypriots are desperately trying to get their money out, but it’s too late:
The president of Cyprus assured his people a bailout deal he struck with the European Union was in their best interests, but banks will remain closed until Thursday – and even then subject to capital controls to prevent a run on deposits.
The ruling class insists that stealing money out of their bank accounts is “in their best interests.” Doesn’t that make them feel better? They’ll be patriotic and happy to “share the sacrifice” for the greater good, right? Of course not!
Tyler Durden reports that there is a “Cash Exodus From Cyprus Surges Despite Bank Closures, Capital Controls“:
From FAZ, google translation edited:
Despite the closed banks and a lock for payments in the past week, more money flowed out of Cyprus than in previous weeks, Frankfurter experts report for payments. Prior to the escalation of the crisis in Cyprus accruing on the payment system Target liabilities of Cypriot central bank to the European Central Bank (ECB) had increased daily at approximately 100 to 200 million euros. In recent days was after Parliament the stabilization program initially had to fail, the daily has risen to more than double. Just in the last week so could cash assets have been withdrawn from Cyprus in the billions, although the Cypriot central bank has actually issued a lock.
How is it possible that cash is leaving the country even with a bank halt? It isn’t, unless of course, the banks aren’t really halted, and some outbound wire transfers, which are permitted, are more equal than other wire transfers which are stuck on the island. Of course, that would imply an “Europe Farm” type of arrangement, which in the bastion of fairness, equality and honesty which is Europe, would be absolutely impossible.
On the other hand, if indeed the drain of the Cypriot banking system has continued despite all the enacted halts during the past week, then it’s game over for Cyprus, which will soon have only the ECB to thank for providing liquidity, an arrangement that may not be the best long-term outcome for a nation whose economy has basically been gutted in the span of one week.
It also means game over for the bailout as envisioned, as the EUR17 billion is history, and much more cash will have to be injected to cover for the stealth outflows.
Cyprus won’t be the only one affected, of course. An unusually honest Eurozone official has made it clear that the EU will use the same confiscation tactics as Cyprus if things get worse (which of course they will):
Savings accounts in Spain, Italy and other European countries will be raided if needed to preserve Europe’s single currency by propping up failing banks, a senior eurozone official has announced.
The new policy will alarm hundreds of thousands of British expatriates who live and have transferred their savings, proceeds from house sales and other assets to eurozone bank accounts in countries such as France, Spain and Italy.
The euro fell on global markets after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone, told the FT and Reuters that the heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises across Europe.
Dijsselbloem tried to retract the statement after investors started panicking, but the damage is already done. Now the cat is out of the bag:
Translation: it now officially sucks to be an unsecured creditor in Europe. In other words: an uninsured depositor.
Why this ad hoc dramatic shift in the European approach to bank solvency, which if anything makes the link between bank and sovereign closer than ever, and crushes all that Draghi achieved in the summer of 2012?
Simple: because what Cyprus allowed was the effective usurpation of democracy - the only reason the Cypriot bailout “passed” (at least so far) is because it was structured as a bank restructuring, a financial system “resolution”, not a tax,and thus not in need of a parliamentary, democratic vote. Because as Cyprus also showed, votes to deprive depositors of cash, whether insured or uninsured, simply won’t fly.
Hence the shift.
However, there is a problem: it means that depositors are now fair game everywhere, and that the ESM or EFSF, with their unlimited scope but “democratic” impleention pathway, are on the backburner.
And now, the scramble to pull uninsured deposits out of banks everywhere begins. Thanks to the new Eurogroup head.
“You ask for miracles, Theo. I give you Diesel-BOOM”
And now, every European depositor is going to their local financial dictionary to look up the definition of General Unsecured Claims, only to see a picture of… themselves.
Simon Black at Sovereign Man blog tells readers to “Expect These Eight Steps From The Government’s Playbook“:
To anyone paying attention, reality is now painfully obvious. These bankrupt, insolvent governments have just about run out of fingers to plug the dikes. And history shows that, once this happens, governments fall back on a very limited playbook:
As Cyprus showed us, bankrupt governments are quite happy to plunder people’s bank accounts, especially if it’s a wealthy minority.
Aside from bank levies, though, this also includes things like seizing retirement accounts (Argentina), increases in civil asset forfeiture (United States), and gold criminalization.
Just another form of confiscation, taxation plunders the hard work and talent of the citizenry. But thanks to decades of brainwashing, it’s more socially acceptable. We’ve come to regard taxes as a ‘necessary evil,’ not realizing that the country existed for decades, even centuries, without an income tax.
Yet when bankrupt governments get desperate enough, they begin imposing new taxes… primarily WEALTH taxes (Argentina) or windfall profits taxes (United States in the 1970s).
This is indirect confiscation– the slow, gradual plundering of people’s savings. Again, governments have been quite successful at inculcating a belief that inflation is also a necessary evil. They’re also adept at fooling people with phony inflation statistics.
Governments can, do, and will restrict the free-flow of capital across borders. They’ll prevent you from moving your own money to a safer jurisdiction, forcing you to keep your hard earned savings at home where it can be plundered and devalued.
We’re seeing this everywhere in the developed world… from withdrawal limits in Europe to cash-sniffing dogs at border checkpoints. And it certainly doesn’t help when everyone from the IMF to Nobel laureate Paul Krugman argue in favor of Capital Controls.
Wage and Price controls
When even the lowest common denominator in society realizes that prices are getting higher, governments step in and ‘fix’ things by imposing price controls.
Occasionally this also includes wage controls… though wage increases tend to be vastly outpaced by price increases.
Of course, as any basic economics textbook can illustrate, price controls never work and typically lead to shortages and massive misallocations.
Wage and Price controls– on STEROIDS
When the first round of price controls don’t work, the next step is to impose severe penalties for not abiding by the terms.
In the days of Diocletian’s Edict on Prices in the 4th century AD, any Roman caught violating the price controls was put to death.
In post-revolutionary France, shopkeepers who violated the “Law of Maximum” were fleeced of their private property… and a national spy system was put into place to enforce the measures.
Despite being completely broke, governments will dramatically expand their ranks in a last desperate gasp to envelop the problem in sheer size.
In the early 1920s, for example, the number of bureaucratic officials in the Weimar Republic increased 242%, even though the country was flat broke from its Great War reparation payments and hyperinflation episode.
The increase in both regulations and government officials criminalizes and/or controls almost every aspect of our existence… from what we can/cannot put in our bodies to how we are allowed to raise our own children.
War and National Emergency
When all else fails, just invade another country. Pick a fight. Keep people distracted by work them into a frenzy over men in caves… or some completely irrelevant island.
Why do we have such massive deficits? Because if the government actually tried to collect the amount it needs to cover its current spending levels and unfunded liabilities, it would trigger a revolt – and that’s not a metaphor.
The truth is that our politicians have been very careful in their labeling of government receipts and payments so as to keep most of the coming bills associated with ‘Take As You Go’ off the books. Consider, for example, Uncle Sam’s promises to pay me my Social Security and Medicare benefits starting in roughly 10 years. The present value (the value in the present) of these promises is $400,000. How does this differ from my holding a Treasury bond valued at $400,000?
Fundamentally, it differs not at all, which means that the government has a lot more debt than it’s reporting.
How much more?
I’m not sure you want to know. I recently calculated the fiscal gap using the CBO’s AFS forecast. The fiscal gap measures the present value difference between all projected future federal expenditures (including servicing official debt) and all projected future taxes. The fiscal gap is thus the true measure of our government’s total indebtedness and the true measure of fiscal sustainability.
How big is the fiscal gap?
Brace yourself. It’s $222 trillion large! In comparison, official debt in the public’s hands is only $11 trillion.
Here’s one way to wrap your head around our $222 trillion fiscal hole: closing it via tax hikes would require an immediate and permanent 64 percent increase in all federal taxes. Alternatively, the government could cut all transfer payments, e.g., Social Security benefits, and discretionary federal expenditures, e.g., defense expenditures, by 40 percent. Waiting to raise taxes or cut spending makes these figures worse.
In short, our government is totally broke. And it’s not broke in 30 years or in 20 years or in 10 years. It’s broke today.
How do we know that a dollar bust is upcoming? The interest we pay on our national debt indicates our future. The interest the United States pays on its debt is now above $350 billion per year. Because more than 43 cents of every dollar the United States spends is now borrowed — and plans are in place to add about a trillion dollars more in debt each year — the interest payment on U.S. debt is expected to climb to a trillion dollars per year in 2017.
In other words, in four years, the interest on the debt will consume almost half of all revenue that the government collects, and each year after that it will get progressively worse — until it consumes all revenues.
As the interest on the debt grows, we won’t be able to borrow enough to pay our bills, and the government will have to either simply print more money to pay up or default. It will likely at least try printing money, and this is when inflation will zoom atmospherically. Even Ben Bernanke, the head of the Federal Reserve, acknowledged this scenario last year.
The chance that the United States will avoid this path in our near future is infinitesimal, but there is a chance. An unexpected business boom could spare us — socialist Norway stays solvent via exploiting oil revenues, and the United States has some of the biggest oil reserves in the world — or a massive downsizing of government could spark a boom — as happened during the Harding administration and at the end of WWII— but there’s little chance of either happening.
The government is issuing smothering business regulations and taxes, and the government will likely run higher debts than projected, not lower.
Debts will likely be higher for many reasons: Not only did the administration fight the minuscule sequester cuts tooth and nail,ObamaCare is much more expensive than promised and will only reduce costs if the death panel lives down to its name, as well as devastating the small businesses that most influence employment. Also, year-in and year-out, Congressional Budget Office figures used to project future tax revenues have predicted a rapidly growing economy and been consistently wrong; the federal flood insurance fund is empty; the Social Security Disability fund is almost empty; etc.
The great majority of U.S. spending is claimed to promote “fairness,” while critics have argued that it is immoral for Baby Boomers — the group mainly responsible for electing political spendthrifts — to heap devastating debt on their children and grandchildren. Ironically, the imminent demise of the dollar has accelerated to where the dollar will almost certainly crash during most Boomers’ lifetimes, so they will have to suffer along with their offspring.
I guess that’s fair.
It’s not a “tax.” It is government stealing money directly out of people’s bank accounts – money that was deposited AFTER taxes were already paid on it.
Socialism = theft, pure and simple. Christians who support Socialism need to go back study what the Bible has to say about debt, envy, and theft!
An 11th-hour deal with the EU, which has saved the Cypriot economy from the brink, will see investors with more than €100,000 in the nation’s largest banks forfeit a large chunk of their deposits.
The punishing deal – which has been approved by the eurozone finance ministers – will allow the country to receive the €10bn (£8.5bn) bailout it needed before the European Central Bank pulled funding and sent the island on the path to bankruptcy and a possible exit from the single currency.
Under the new agreement, all bank deposits under €100,000 will be secured and guaranteed by the state. The country’s second-biggest bank, The Popular Bank of Cyprus – known as Laiki – will be wound down whilst holders of deposits of more than €100,000 face big losses.
Four years of stalling on a budget (which is required annually, per the constitution), and THIS is the best they can come up with?
An exhausted Senate gave pre-dawn approval Saturday to a Democratic $3.7 trillion budget for next year that embraces nearly $1 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade but shelters domestic programs targeted for cuts by House Republicans.
While their victory was by a razor-thin 50-49 vote, it allowed Democrats to tout their priorities. Yet it doesn’t resolve the deep differences the two parties have over deficits and the size of government.
Joining all Republicans voting no were four Democrats who face re-election next year in potentially difficult races: Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., did not vote.
So what made them finally decide to pass a budget? Arnold Ahlert has a theory:
The impetus for passing a budget for the first time in four years was likely the passage of the “No Budget, No Pay” bill which suspended the current debt limit until May 18th, so the federal government could continue to pay its bills. One of the bill’s provisions prohibits legislators from getting paid if Congress doesn’t pass a budget by April 15. Salaries will either be held in escrow until they do, or resume being paid in January 15, when the current congressional session ends.
Considering the vast differences between this legislation and the House budget passed last Thursday that brings the budget into balance by 2023, but changes the nature of entitlement programs in ways completely anathema to Democrats, it is virtually certain that no budget will be reconciled before the debt ceiling showdown. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) revived a rule ignored in January, stating that any increase in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by commensurate spending cuts.
Yet even leaving that rule aside, passing a budget by May 18 is still overly optimistic. Thus, the House also passed a continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, which lasts through September. The Senate approved that resolution, and it is expected that the president will sign it once he gets back from his trip to Israel.
In other words, the more things seemingly change, the more they remain the same: barring a miraculous spasm of bipartisanship, government will likely be funded piecemeal–and our unsustainable fiscal trajectory will remain unaltered.
It’s been three years since Obamacare was rammed down our throats, and damage is already apparent, even before it is fully implemented.
Over one-third of the 9.1 million full-time jobs among America’s diverse business franchises could be cut back or eliminated by Obamacare as small businesses struggle to maintain profitability while coughing up money to pay for Washington-mandated health care coverage, according to the International Franchise Association.
John Merline at Investors Business Daily lists other nasty features that are finally coming to light:
Cause premiums to skyrocket. In December, state insurance commissioners warned Obama administration officials that the law’s market regulations would likely cause “rate shocks,” particularly for younger, healthier people forced by ObamaCare to subsidize premiums for those who are older and sicker.
“We are very concerned about what will happen if essentially there is so much rate shock for young people that they’re bound not to purchase (health insurance) at all,” said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
That same month, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said ObamaCare will likely cause premiums to double for some small businesses and individuals.
And a more recent survey of insurers in five major cities by the American Action Forum found they expect premiums to climb an average 169%.
Cost people their jobs. The Federal Reserve’s March beige book on economic activity noted that businesses “cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.”
Around the same time, Gallup reported a surge in part-time work in advance of ObamaCare’s employer mandate. It found that part-timers accounted for almost 21% of the labor force, up from 19% three years ago.
Meanwhile, human resources consulting firm Adecco found that half of the small businesses it surveyed in January either plan to cut their workforce, not hire new workers, or shift to part-time or temporary help because of ObamaCare.
Tax the middle class. IBD reported in February that much of the $800 billion in tax hikes imposed by ObamaCare will end up hitting the middle class, including $45 billion in mandate penalties, $19 billion raised by limiting medical expense deductions, $24 billion through strict limits on flexible spending accounts, plus another $5 billion because ObamaCare bans using FSAs to buy over-the-counter drugs.
This will only end well for those who are prepared to take care of themselves and their families.
The Cyprus central bank decided to keep the banks closed until next Tuesday. The panic is building. This will build it even more.
The British media say the government is looking for Plan B. There is no Plan B.
There will be no tax on bank accounts, says the parliament.
Will there still be a bailout? The European Central Bank has said it will remove the life support tube on Monday. The head of the EuroGroup, which is a no-name committee of the eurozone’s finance ministers, said this: “I’m not sure that this package is completely gone and failed, because I don’t see many alternatives.” In short, “the Parliament had better reconsider.” Or else.
Or else what? Default? Cyprus’ departure from the eurozone? Do the Eurocrats want that? Do they want to risk a poster child for the PIIGS to imitate?
Meanwhile, panic builds. When the banks open their doors next week, they will face a true bank run. People now know: they cannot get their money. They never thought this could happen.
The central bank is playing kick the can. It is buying time. Maybe there will be a Plan B. Problem: if there is a Plan B, maybe the parliament will reject it. Then what?
A nation shuts down economically if its banks shut down. The banks can shut down in two ways: because of bank runs or by decree from the central bank. Today, the banking system has been shut down by decree.
The central bank cannot kick the can much longer. The economy will collapse without banks.
The British media are covering the story.
“We don’t have days or weeks, we have only hours to save our country,” Averof Neophytou, deputy leader of the ruling Democratic Rally party, told reporters as crisis talks in Nicosia dragged on into the evening.
The country’s two main banks – Laiki and the Bank of Cyprus – face potential failure if a bailout is not secured. One official told the Associated Press that Europe and the IMF were pressing for the two banks to be wound down. The Cypriot government was said to be considering the possibility of imposing capital controls amid fears that money would flood out of the country once its banks were reopened.
But if depositors cannot send their digital money out of the country, they can still demand currency. The effect is the same: bankrupt banks.
The central bank cannot print euros. It can bail out the system only if Cyprus pulls out of the eurozone. If it does, this will send a message to the PIIGS: “Get out. We did. Save yourselves. We did.”
Cyprus isn’t the only country facing serious fiscal consequences from unsustainable spending, unfunded liabilities and overwhelming debt.
Robert Romano explains “How the government will steal your savings under Dodd-Frank“:
The people of Cyprus care more about their life savings than propping up financial institutions that lost billions on poor investments in socialist governments’ debts. The idea that somehow they, and not the banks that made those decisions, should bear the brunt of those losses was always disconnected from reality.
Yet that is precisely the presumption the establishment has made — that rather than banks raising substantially more capital to address systemic risk, you and I should pay for bank bailouts — in response to the ongoing financial crisis that began in 2007, and has actually become the basis for such proposals considered all over the world, including the U.S.
In 2009, the G20 asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to come up with ways the financial sector might supposedly contribute to its own bailouts.
The IMF study released in 2010 essentially proposed two types of taxes: a levy on financial institutions to create a pool of bailout funds, and a financial transaction tax.
Interestingly, what the IMF came up with as a suggestion had already been implemented a few months earlier by the U.S. Congress in passing the Dodd-Frank so-called financial reform legislation.
Under Dodd-Frank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is allowed to charge assessments to about 60 bank-holding and insurance companies with $50 billion or more in assets to fund what is called an “orderly liquidation fund.” Really, it’s just a bailout fund allowing the government to take over systemically risky institutions, recapitalize them, and allow them to reenter the market under new management.
The law, as well as the IMF study, presumes that the financial sector will bear these costs. But as a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of a similar bank tax proposal by the Obama Administration at the time noted, “the ultimate cost of a tax or fee is not necessarily borne by the entity that writes the check to the government. The cost of the proposed fee would ultimately be borne to varying degrees by an institution’s customers, employees, and investors, but the precise incidence among those groups is uncertain.”
Meaning, the assessments would actually be passed on to and paid for by savers and consumers of financial products through the indirect taxation of higher bank fees and other financial transaction costs. Americans for Limited Government warned lawmakers about just such an outcome prior to the legislation’s passage as an affront to private property rights.
[...] At least in Cyprus the people’s representatives there actually had an opportunity to vote against such a levy. Whereas here, those fees are and will continue to be imposed by the banks with the blessing of government agencies — all without any vote in Congress.
It may happen sooner than anyone realizes. U.S. financial institutions are said to have as much $641 billion of exposure to financial institutions in Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain (PIIGS) according to the Congressional Research Service.
Should the Eurozone really break apart, and U.S. banks are caught in the crossfire, with the American people suddenly paying exorbitant fees for the “privilege” of conducting business electronically, they can decide for themselves whether this was a good idea.
That is, for Congress to outsource and give unlimited grant of its taxing authority to faceless bureaucrats acting in concert with an international banking cartel with the goal of bailing itself out of its own foolishness.