Governor Haley Barbour, is on bloomberg right now running his mouth. Of course, Wasn’t he the one that was determining the Republican Party agenda and influencing its platform throughout a number of years. Isn’t he among those whose policies created the problems we are enduring now.
Is it possible that he could do something helpful now instead of continuing to fight against an administration that isn’t his nor the Republican’s enemy?
10.6% unemployment rate in his state – if he was so damn great, why would that be the case?
Maybe if the politicians like Barbour who created the problem would spend their efforts solving problems instead of pitching hell over the ways somebody else is trying to fix it, then something might get done. Not only is he the president of the Republican Governors Association that stalemated using the stimulus funds to help put an economic foundation under America which was in jeopardy because of their actions, he is also among those who most demanded that the banks get bailed out in 2008. There just has to be some way to either wake up people like that, since they get air time whenever they want and access to decision makers, or set them aside where they can no longer do any harm. Its ridiculous that none of the Republicans who have been using their power to drive America slap into the ground for years, can come around at this point and say well, let’s see what we can do to fix it.
(and they still don’t see anything wrong with having given – absolutely given banks, investment bankers, investment brokers, hedge funds, AIG and huge financial conglomerates literally hundreds of billions of dollars to cover their asses.)
No one home: 1 in 9 housing units vacant
|Updated // 2/13/2009 3:00
A record 1 in 9 U.S. homes are vacant, a glut created by the housing boom and subsequent collapse.”The numbers are further documentation of the gravity of the housing problem,” says Nicolas Retsinas, head of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. “This inventory is delaying any kind of housing recovery.”
The surge in empty houses, condominiums and apartments is creating a wave of problems for communities desperate to shore up property values and tax revenues that pay for services. Vacant homes create upkeep and safety problems that ripple through neighborhoods.
“It has a contagion effect,” Retsinas says. “A house that is vacant is often a house that is less well kept up.” [ . . . ]
Census numbers show:
• More than 14 million housing units are vacant. That number does not include an estimated 4.8 million seasonal or vacation homes, most of which are occupied part of the year. The combined vacancy rate of almost 15% is higher than during previous recessions: 11% in 1991 and 9.4% in 1984.
• About 3% of owned homes are vacant. In normal times, “maybe 1% should be vacant,” Myers says.
• More than 9% of homes built since 2000 are vacant compared with about 2% for older homes.
• Homes priced at $500,000 or more are just as likely to be empty as homes that cost less than $100,000.
Historically, vacant housing was more of a concern in cities that have poor neighborhoods. Now, it has hit suburbs and new subdivisions.
“You have abandoned vacant housing in Detroit but you also have it in Henderson, Nev., and Mesa, Ariz. (suburbs of Las Vegas and Phoenix),” Retsinas says.
The stimulus bill before Congress contains $2 billion to help communities buy and fix foreclosed, vacant properties. (etc)
December 8, 2008 – Reuters
In a discussion of how Tribune, the publishing company of The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, has declared bankruptcy after going private in 2007. According to Josh Lerner, “I think undoubtedly we will see more bankruptcies of private equity-backed firms, but also regular operating firms too. What’s harder is to say whether the private equity ones are more likely to (fail).”
February 4, 2009 – Boston Herald
Banks are being criticized for sponsoring sports teams and entertainment venues when they are being bailed out by the government. According to Stephen Greyser, “it’s now politically and economically impossible for banks receiving federal money to venture into big sponsorship deals that often include fancy suites and VIP parking for corporate bigwigs and their customers.”
February 6, 2009 – USA Today
Samuel Hayes comments on the U.S. Treasury’s plans for “putting the federal government in the central position of backstopping lenders against losses from hundreds of billions of dollars of ‘toxic assets’
November 2, 2008 – New York Times
Sorkin and Merced write about how private equity firms bought up large companies, and then “saddled” those companies with a huge amount of debt causing them to declare bankruptcy. According to Josh Lerner, “There’s absolutely going to be a lot of pain to go around. The big question is how apocalyptic it will be.”
Banks to Continue Paying Dividends
Bailout Money Is for Lending, Critics Say
By Binyamin Appelbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 30, 2008
U.S. banks getting more than $163 billion from the Treasury Department for new lending are on pace to pay more than half of that sum to their shareholders, with government permission, over the next three years.
The government said it was giving banks more money so they could make more loans. Dollars paid to shareholders don’t serve that purpose, but Treasury officials say that suspending quarterly dividend payments would have deterred banks from participating in the voluntary program.
Critics, including economists and members of Congress, question why banks should get government money if they already have enough money to pay dividends — or conversely, why banks that need government money are still spending so much on dividends.
“The whole purpose of the program is to increase lending and inject capital into Main Street. If the money is used for dividends, it defeats the purpose of the program,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has called for the government to require a suspension of dividend payments.
The Treasury plans to invest up to $250 billion in a wide swath of U.S. banks in return for ownership stakes, which the government will relinquish when it is repaid.
[ . . . ]
The 33 banks signed up so far plan to pay shareholders about $7 billion this quarter. Companies generally try to pay consistent dividends and, at the present pace, those dividends will consume 52 percent of the Treasury’s investment over the initial three-year term.
[ . . . ]
The Treasury’s approach contrasts with decisions by foreign governments, including Britain and Germany, to require banks that accept public investments to suspend dividend payments until the government is repaid. The U.S. government similarly required Chrysler to suspend its dividend payments as a condition of the government’s 1979 bailout.
CEOs on the Economic Crisis
Posted by: Jena McGregor on October 15
My colleague Cathy Arnst offers up a guest post from Cambridge, Mass., where she sat in on the Harvard Business School’s Global Business Summit:
What timing! Harvard Business School threw itself a big three-day conference this week to celebrate its 100th birthday, and HBS Dean Jay Light admitted that the school was anticipating a much more celebratory mood when the planning started two years ago. About 1600 alumni, professors and current students attended the Global Business Summit Oct 12-14, and the mood was subdued if not downright grim. There were lots of mea culpas thrown around by the many corporate leaders that spoke. Interesting, though, that the name of the school’s most prominent graduate was rarely mentioned. George W. Bush, MBA HBS ‘75, appeared to be he who would not be named.
Dean Light set the tone with his opening address, in which he said the current financial crisis represents a collective failure of financiers, business leaders and politicians. General Motors Chairman Rick Wagoner said corporate leaders must stop pressuring government to enact policies that only help their own company or industry, rather than the nation as a whole. “A little more statesmanship on the part of business leaders is crucial.”
JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was particularly outspoken in his criticism of the denizens of both the corporate and political worlds over the last several years. The mortgage business “was basically under-regulated,” he said, leading to convoluted financial instruments. “What were we thinking?” he asked rhetorically. “We need good rational regulations.” He also agreed with much of the public on the issue of executive compensation. “There were a lot of legitimate complaints. There were a lot of people who in hindsight wound up making a lot of money who didn’t deserve it.”
Dimon, and almost every other speaker, was particularly critical of the nation’s lack of a comprehensive energy policy that would reduce the need for foreign oil. Dimon said, somewhat angrily, “if we are unable to make the decisions to make this country heavily reduce energy dependency, than we deserve 4 dollar per gallon gas.” He called for a tax on BTUs. General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt wants the federal government to vastly increase its investment in green technologies, a very low priority of the Bush administration. He followed up with this blunt statement: “I’ve been a Republican all my life. I believe in free markets. But the notion that the government isn’t a catalyst for change in this country is purely garbage.”
The crowd responded with sustained applause, as they did for most of the contentious remarks at the conference. It seemed as though the meeting was taking place at Harvard’s far more liberal Kennedy School of Government across the river rather than the business school. At lunch, plenty of attendees said privately that Dimon should be the next treasury secretary.
Meanwhile, no one tried to pretend the future looked bright. Microsoft founder Bill Gates projected a “fairly significant recession” with peak unemployment reaching 9%. “Consumer sentiment has never been so low,” he warned. Immelt thinks the U.S. is likely to experience two quarters of negative growth once the global financial systems stabilize. And he doesn’t know when that will be.
Foreign business leaders were just as dismayed. Anand Mahindra, vice chairman of the giant Indian conglomerate Mahindra and Mahindra, said there is a “crisis of confidence” around the world because no one had ever expected to see the U.S. in this situation
( . . . )
My Note –
It doesn’t make any sense for the Republicans to be on just about every channel and every news show lately along with taking over the Tea Party groups, speaking at the Chamber of Commerce functions and just about every church function across America to use as a bully pulpit to tell us that everything being done now is wrong and everything they did that got us here was right for us.
It isn’t imagination nor delusion to see that our America and our precious United States in particular are in trouble, our people are suffering and our future is far from bright and prosperous, as a direct result of conservatives and the Republicans that have been running the show for the last thirty-plus years.
Why do people put up with it?
“In 1960, the ratio of CEO pay at large companies to that of the president of the United States was about 2 to 1. In 2007, it was more than 20 to 1,” wrote Harvard scholars Rakesh Khurana and Andy Zelleke in The Washington Post. “In 1980, executives at large companies made about 40 times what the average worker made. Last year, CEOs made about 360 times more than the average worker.”
“On the NYSE today, the average share is held for less than a year, as compared to about five years in 1960 and two years in 1990,” the authors wrote. “What matters isn’t what the companies are actually doing but the expectation that the shares can be unloaded to a ‘greater fool’ at a higher price. In the prevailing business culture, little has been meaningfully valued by either executives or shareholders beyond the short-term accumulation of wealth.”
(from same npr article above)
by Dick Meyer
February 12, 2009