, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chart Series: The Bush Economic Record

The JEC has compiled a series of charts examining various economic indicators, including job creation, health insurance coverage, unemployment, wages, debt held by public, etc. in an effort to paint a well-rounded picture of the Bush economy as compared to past administrations. The President says his policies are working to make the economy strong and that all Americans are benefiting, but the facts show an economic record that has left the vast majority of American families behind. A PDF of all Bush Economic Record Charts, along with the talking points are available on the right side of this page.

Page 1 of 5 (see below for charts on each page – Joint Economic Committee, Senate

Job Growth Among the Slowest of Any Administration in over 70 Years

Slowest Job Growth of Any Administration in Over 75 Years

Private Sector Job Growth Among the Worst in over 75 Years

Slow Job Growth Has Turned Into Job Losses

The Unemployment Rate Hits 7.2%, Highest Since 1993



5.1 Million More Unemployed

Almost Four Times the Number of Unemployed Since Bush Took Office

Employee Compensation has Lagged Far Behind Productivity

Real Earnings Growth is Weak and Unequal Relative to 1990s



Large Projected Surpluses Turned into Large Deficits

$4.2 Trillion More Debt in FY 2008

Bush Tax Cuts for Millionaires Dwarf Tax Cuts for The Rest of America

Household Income Has Declined Under This Administration



Real Median Household Income Has Fallen

Real Household Income Has Declined for Virtually All Since 2000

The Poverty Rate Has Risen Under This Administration

5.7 Million More Americans in Poverty



7.2 Million More Americans Without Health Insurance


** NOTE –
also available on this page:

Subprime Housing Crisis Timeline
The JEC has compiled a timeline of events tracking the subprime crisis from December 2006 to the present. Although it does not include every event in the markets, in Congress, or in the Administration, it provides a fairly comprehensive background guide to the current housing crisis and the steps taken to avoid further deterioration of the subprime market.



Chart Series: How Are High Food Prices Impacting American Families?

:: Nearly All Families Spend Over 10% of Income on Food

Milk and Egg Prices are Soaring Past Inflation

Fruit and Veggie Prices are Soaring Past Inflation

Grain and Bean Prices are Soaring Past Inflation



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This page has a window with all Senate committees in a pull-down menu which when selected offers a listing of all members on the committee selected – very handy


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Senate Organization Chart for the 111th Congress
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A full summary of provisions written in the Finance and House Ways & Means Committees is available
on the Finance website here:

The final recovery and reinvestment plan contained approximately $287 billion in tax cuts for families
and businesses, with a particular focus on creating jobs in the green energy, highway, and schoolbuilding
sectors. The tax cuts included a $400 ]per ]worker tax credit – known as Making Work Pay credit
– to put cash in the hands of America’s working families in the next few months. Additional Finance
Committee provisions included a $14.4 billion measure providing a one ]time, $250 billion payment to
seniors, veterans, and retirees, and approximately $177 billion more in investments to create jobs in
health information technology, to help out ]of ]work Americans keep their health care coverage and find
new employment, and to give aid to struggling state economies. The legislation also included a major
expansion of Trade Adjustment Assistance to help American firms avoid layoffs due to international
competition, and to help workers negatively affected by trade stay on their financial feet and retrain for
new, good ]paying jobs here at home.



Request for

Public Comment

Finance Staff Discussion Draft of Proposal to Modify Tax Treatment of Related Party Reinsurance Companies

Technical Explanation of Reinsurance Staff Discussion Draft

Bipartisan Staff Discussion Draft on President’s Proposal to Require
Information Reporting on Electronic Payment Mechanism Reimbursements

Technical Explanation of Bipartisan Staff Discussion Draft

Public Comments on Basis Reporting Requirements for Publicly-Traded Securities

Basis Reporting Requirements for Publicly-Traded Securities

Broker Reporting of Customer’s Basis in Securities Transactions

Public Comments on Tax Technical Correction Act of 2006 (S. 4026)

Public Comments on Tax Technical Correction Act of 2005 (S. 1447)


Chairman Max Baucus,
Ranking Member Chuck Grassley,


February 10, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, introduced legislation today to protect American workers by ensuring they can access information on the cost of 401 (k) plans’ management fees. The Harkin/Kohl Defined Contribution Fee Disclosure Act of 2009 would require 401(k) plan providers to disclose all fees so that workers saving for retirement can make a fully informed decision about which plan is best for them.

Choosing a plan with a lower management fee can boost Americans’ retirement savings by thousands of dollars. In 2007, AARP found that if a 35-year-old invested $20,000 in a 401(k) plan over 30 years, earning a 6.5 percent return and paying 0.5 percent in fees, that individual would end up with $132,287 in savings. But if their fees increased to 1.5 percent, only $99, 679 would be left for their retirement – a 25 percent reduction in the account balance.

“I believe there is a basic right for consumers to clearly know how much products and services are costing them,” said Senator Kohl. “Disclosure is especially important in the case of 401(k)s, as the slightest difference in fees can translate into a staggering depletion in savings, greatly affecting one’s ability to build a secure retirement.”




Committee Members
111th Congress, 1st Session

Max Baucus, Chairman

John D. Rockefeller IV
West Va.

Kent Conrad
North Dakota

Chuck Grassley
Orrin G. Hatch
Utah Charles B. Rangel, Vice Chairman
New York

Fortney Pete Stark

Sander M. Levin

Wally Herger

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Deputy Chief of Staff



Joint Economic Committee

The Bush Economic Record 17 Charts
At What Cost?: Egregious Price Increases in the Pharmaceutical Drug Industry 4 Charts
Flight Delays Cost Passengers, Airlines, and the U.S. Economy Billions 3 Charts
How Are High Food Prices Impacting American Families? 4 Charts
The Costs of the Iraq War and What The American People Could Get with Those Funds 7 Charts
Extending the Bush Tax Cuts is the Wrong Way to Stimulate the Economy 5 Charts
Economic Costs of the Iraq War Hearing 5 Charts
What Should the Federal Government do to Avoid a Recession Hearing 6 Charts
Sovereign Wealth Funds 3 Charts

Subprime Housing Crisis Timeline
The JEC has compiled a timeline of events tracking the subprime crisis from December 2006 to the present. Although it does not include every event in the markets, in Congress, or in the Administration, it provides a fairly comprehensive background guide to the current housing crisis and the steps taken to avoid further deterioration of the subprime market.



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This one is amazing – (it could be a viable practical solution to the toxic assets undermining companies’ value.)

MBIA Splits Off Municipal Bond Insurance Business (Update2)

By Shannon D. Harrington and Jody Shenn

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) — MBIA Inc., the largest bond insurer, will split its municipal bond insurance business from the mortgage-related debt guarantees that led to the loss of its top credit ratings. The shares surged as much as 42 percent.

Armonk, New York-based MBIA transferred guarantees on about $537 billion of municipal bonds to MBIA Insurance Corp. of Illinois, which it plans to move to New York and rename as National Public Finance Guarantee Corp. It also paid the new entity $4.98 billion in premiums and dividends, MBIA said today in a statement.

MBIA is seeking to revive its core business after guarantees on complex mortgage-backed securities and other debt saddled it with potential losses as U.S. home foreclosures soared and the market for the securities froze. The loss of its AAA ratings last year crippled its ability to write new muni-bond insurance, creating an opportunity for rivals to take market share.

“It’s a positive but it’s a small positive,” said Robert Haines, an analyst at CreditSights Inc. in New York. “We’re going to need to see further steps and the further steps are much more challenging than the step they took today.”

MBIA also said today it has had discussions with the U.S. Treasury about additional capital, which it will need to win back its top ratings, suggesting the company may seek funds from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Standard & Poor’s today lowered its financial-strength ratings on the MBIA Illinois unit, acquired in 1989, one level to AA- from AA, saying its capital so far is “marginally below our ‘AA’ standard.” S&P also said the unit was downgraded because of “uncertain business prospects.”

Reinvigorate Market

MBIA rose $1.11, or 32 percent, to $4.59 at 9:54 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, after earlier climbing to $4.93. The shares had lost 72 percent in the past year before today.

Chief Executive Officer Jay Brown told MBIA shareholders in a letter today that the municipal bond insurance business “will not subsidize our structured business.”

The mortgage-debt and other guarantees that plunged in value amid the housing and credit-market crisis “remain in an entity with ample claims-paying resources to meet any expected claims,” Brown said.

“Municipalities and authorities have been searching for bond insurance in a marketplace where only one insurer is currently active,” New York Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo said in a statement. “With the return of a solidly capitalized insurer with more than 30 years of experience, we hope this will help reinvigorate the municipal bond market and help public entities get easier, less costly access to credit.”

Sliding Share

MBIA Insurance Corp.’s share of new insured municipal debt issues in the U.S. plummeted to 2.5 percent last year from 22 percent in 2007, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.

The portion of new municipal issues that were insured last month slid to 15 percent, according to Thomson. Assured Guaranty Corp., the bond insurer backed by billionaire Wilbur Ross, said it provided guarantees on $2.8 billion, or 81 percent.

Municipal borrowers used insurance on 18 percent of the bonds they sold in 2008, down from 47 percent in 2007 amid concern about the health of the guarantors, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters. The unprecedented decline in private municipal bond insurance also led a blue-ribbon commission of local officials and industry professionals to call for studying the creation of a new mutually owned guarantor.

Raising Capital

The new insurer, which might not be able to win AAA ratings, may not need them, according to Steve Stelmach and Amy DeBone, analysts at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group Inc. in Arlington, Virginia.

“Should National be able to attain double-A ratings, we believe that a significant portion of public finance market that remains below double-A rated would benefit from a wrap,” they wrote in a report today. “However, market acceptance of the new bond insurer remains an open question.”

Brown said MBIA intends to raise capital for the new company “well in excess” of historical requirements for AAA ratings, which the insurer had until June, when both Moody’s Investors Service and S&P stripped the company of their top rankings.

MBIA Insurance Corp., the main insurance unit before the split-off now has a Baa1 rating from Moody’s and a BBB+ rating from S&P, both of which are just three levels above non- investment grade.

Treasury Talks

MBIA has had discussions with the U.S. Treasury about additional capital, Brown said in the shareholder letter.

“We will continue to explore whether this is an avenue that can provide capital to a healthy financial institution on terms that work for all of our constituencies,” Brown said. Proposed limits on compensation at companies that accept government funds, though, “create obvious challenges to attract, retain and motivate employees for organizations that accept TARP funds,” he said.

MBIA’s municipal insurance business includes the rights and obligations to Financial Guaranty Insurance Co.’s business, which the company reinsured last year, according to the statement.

To contact the reporters on this story: Shannon D. Harrington in New York at sharrington6@bloomberg.net; Jody Shenn in New York at jshenn@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: February 18, 2009 09:59 EST


Note – about above story – cnbc “Power Lunch” show today, 02-18-09 just before 12.12 p.m. (Noon) had Jay Brown, CEO of MBIA explaining that they divided the “structured investment vehicles” part of their business away from their municipal bond insurance by making it into a separate isolated company with around $8 billion in the new company. That left $10.34 Billion in the original company.

He said they are not going to be doing credit derivatives anymore, not selling credit insurance or derivatives. He also said that every bond is an individual story but overall agreed with the anchors that the bonds in many cases are at risk. Although both companies will still be under the same ticker symbol for the time being, and shares held for the original company will still hold both companies – the isolation of municipal bond insurance in a straight-forward insurance facility is (great news. – my comment.)

(My question – what are they planning to do with their existing credit derivatives and are they not going to be involved in credit derivatives, credit default swaps and what will they do with those that are still considered company assets of the original company? – what will it do to the pension funds and others that are invested with them?)

He said this is not the “good bank / bad bank” model as an anchor suggested. [And, he is right – this is something else and represents a structured appropriate solution that could work as soon as the other piece of the puzzle is resolved in the original company. My guess is that bankruptcy would be one choice of restructuring it but that is probably the costliest solution compared to some other possibilities. There must be a way to convert the old credit derivatives and structured investment vehicles based upon some very basic process. That needs to be defined. -my note.]

CNBC, Power Lunch, 02-18-09, before 12.12 p.m. (Noon)
Jay Brown interview, CEO of MBIA



At 1.50 p.m. later on the same day, 02-18-09, the (MBI), MBIA Inc. Stock had risen 31.6% according to the chart on cnbc’s website.

All shows throughout the day are listed on the left side of this page in links to find them.


This one is stupid – (and undermines the process of solvency and merit) –

RBS Said to Boost Bonuses by Up to 600 Million Pounds (Update2)

By Jon Menon

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) — Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc may give employees as much as 600 million pounds ($850 million) of bonds to supplement 2008 bonuses after the government-controlled lender said it cut the cash element of its incentive plan by more than 90 percent, a person familiar with the matter said.

The bank will give the bonds to employees as part of a deferred compensation plan, said the person, who wouldn’t be identified because the details haven’t been released. Edinburgh- based RBS will also give 165 million pounds to “lower paid” employees to replace a profit-share plan.

RBS said yesterday it would give workers 175 million pounds in cash payments, 90 percent less than 2.5 billion pounds paid for 2007. The lender last month reported a 28 billion-pound annual loss, the biggest by a British company. Governments across the world are putting pressure on financial services firms to limit pay after the industry racked up more than $1 trillion of losses in the credit crisis.

“All the additional bonuses that may be available are conditional on performance,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown told reporters at his monthly press briefing in London today. “There will be no rewards for failure.”

The deferred bonus payments will be made in RBS bonds created for the purpose over three years starting in 2010, said the person. The bonds can’t be sold for at least five years.

The government, which has been pressing banks to curb bonus payments, said last month it may increase its stake in RBS to 70 percent from 58 percent after injecting 20 billion pounds into the lender.

Future Clawback

Any deferred award is subject to a clawback “if future losses arise in relation to their 2008 activities,” and is dependent on how many employees remain, RBS said yesterday.

Restrictions on bonuses may harm RBS’s competitiveness, wrote Ian Gordon, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas in a note to investors today.

“Whilst widely popular with the British public, the potential lack of flexibility to recruit and/or retain key revenue generators is a concern in terms of the future development and performance of RBS’s businesses,” wrote Gordon who cut his rating on the stock to “neutral” from “outperform”.

RBS spokesman Neil Moorhouse declined to provide details beyond the bank’s statement yesterday. A Treasury spokesman was unavailable to comment. The Financial Times reported the plan for the additional payments earlier today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Menon in London at jmenon1@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: February 18, 2009 11:49 EST



President Obama’s plan to deal with the U.S. housing crisis aims to help as many as 9 million families avoid foreclosure.

Goldman Sachs Partners Borrow to Cover Margin Calls
Topics:Economy (U.S.) | Economy (Global) | Wall Street | Banking
Sectors:Financial Services | Banks
Companies:Goldman Sachs Group Inc
By: Charles Gasparino | 18 Feb 2009 | 01:25 PM ET

Charles Gasparino
On-Air Editor

Tough times on Wall Street are reaching all the way to the highest levels of the most storied former investment bank—Goldman Sachs—as partners there are being forced to borrow money to cover margin calls, according to sources within the firm.

Several Goldman Sachs partners have leveraged their Goldman Sachs stock to buy alternative investments such as hedge funds & private equity, and they have done so through their Goldman Sachs brokerage accounts.

But Goldman stock [GS 83.83 -1.88 (-2.19%) ] has declined in value by more than 50 percent since last spring, meaning that Goldman Sachs is in the awkward position of making margin calls on its own partners, who can’t meet those calls because their alternative investments are underwater and they don’t have enough cash on hand.

Now those partners are being forced to borrow money—millions of dollars—to meet Goldman Sachs’ own margin calls.

Sources at Goldman told CNBC that the borrowing is not a widespread phenomenon. It affects a “few” partners, sources say. But it is significant enough that the firm is arranging for its own financial advising firm to help facilitate borrowing for partners that need the money.

Buying stock on margin—basically on credit—is inherently risky. When markets turn down and stock values fall, the people who offer that credit call their clients, needing more cash to make up the lost value. These “margin calls” are a classic sign of bad times in the market all the way back to the depression, and now they’re back, big time.

* Get Real-Time Quotes for Goldman Sachs


Current DateTime: 11:01:04 18 Feb 2009
LinksList Documentid: 29260357

* Goldman Pres. to Retire at End of March
* RIM Execs Settle SEC Charges
* Fed Taking Step Toward Inflation Target
* European Banks Braced for Tough 2009

Margin calls are fairly common on Wall Street and there are several high profile examples of top execs being squeezed by margin calls—Sumner Redstone of Viacom, Chairman/CEO Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy). And now it’s happening at the white shoe firms, Goldman Sachs.
© 2009 CNBC.com

Goldman Sachs Video Gallery
along right side of page – including 02-17-09 announcement that the Goldman president will be retiring on March 31.


** My Note –

It was great to see President Clinton on Larry King Live last night on CNN – that was a very interesting and enlightening interview – the conference that is ongoing for the Clinton Global Initiative and micro-loans / innovative and mighty, directed solutions from citizens everywhere is very heartening.

“Muster Up” is probably not very well known anymore, but it is probably time to do that, both as individual citizens of the United States and as citizens of the World.

I, for one am making the call for citizens to participate in the solutions. It does involve us. It is our problem. It does affect us. We are part of the available solutions that could work. And, it will take our abilities to apply our knowledge, skills, talents and life experience to help structure and construct solutions that work. We can do that.

“MUSTER UP, citizens – It is time to tackle the difficulties at hand.”

– cricketdiane, 02-18-09