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Posts Tagged ‘Great Depression’

This Financial Catastrophe Can Destroy Your Future Fast – How to Avoid it

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; ...

Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; some basic ingredients of a vegan diet.

We could be facing the worst economic times in recorded American history — worse than the Great Depression. Many of the signs are already all around you. All you have to do is look…

Price increases have already begun hitting America’s supermarkets and restaurants. Foods such as milk, beef, coffee, cocoa and sugar have all experienced sharp increases in cost in recent months.  Meanwhile, food makers and retailers are planning to make their customers take on more of the higher costs for ingredients.

Kraft Foods, Sara Lee, and General Mills have all said they’ll raise prices on certain items. Cereal maker Kellogg recently hinted the same, while grocery chains Safeway and Kroger plan to pass supplier increases along to consumers.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

“Costs are being driven by growing demand for meat in China, India and other emerging markets. That’s driven up grain prices, which in turn boost the cost of chicken, steak, bread and pasta. Grain prices also have been nudged higher by drought in Russia, planting problems around the world and speculative trading.”

Sources:

Business Insider

Source article

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Millions Of Unemployed Americans Now Live As Paupers Even As Foreign Nations Use Sovereign Wealth Funds To Buy Up Huge Chunks Of American Infrastructure

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment

By Micheal Snyder – BLN Contributing Writer

Most Americans still do not understand just how bad the economic horror we are facing really is.  Today, millions of Americans are living as paupers in the land that their foreathers built even as America’s infrastructure is literally being sold out from under their feet by corrupt politicians.  The “official” unemployment rate in the United States has been at nine and a half percent or above for 14 consecutive months, and today it takes the average unemployed American about 35 weeks to find a job.  However, the “official” unemployment rate is misleading, because it does not include workers that have quit looking for work or that have had their hours cut back to part-time.  According to 60 Minutes, when you add those “discouraged workers” and “underemployed workers” into the equation the actual rate is about 17 percent, and in the state of California the actual rate is about 22 percent.  Meanwhile, foreign nations are using sovereign wealth funds to buy up staggering amounts of U.S. infrastructure.  America is quite literally for sale in 2010.  All across the United States, highways, ports, toll roads and even parking meters are being gobbled up by foreign powers.  We have shipped massive amounts of wealth and jobs to other nations, and now those very same countries are turning around and buying huge amounts of U.S. infrastructure with the gigantic piles of dollars that they have accumulated.

Widespread long-term chronic unemployment was something that America was never supposed to see again.  Our leaders promised us that the U.S. financial system was so strong that we would never have another “Great Depression” in our lifetimes.  But then the financial crisis of 2008 happened.  Unprecedented numbers of Americans started losing their jobs and the U.S. Congress did something that it had never done before.  Congress decided to extend unemployment benefits all the way out to 99 weeks.

Doing that has cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $100 billion dollars to this point, but we were promised that it was a “temporary” fix and that it would give displaced U.S. workers a chance to find new jobs.

Surely any industrious American worker could get another job within 99 weeks, right?

Wrong.

Today, there are at least 1.5 milion “99ers” – those Americans that have completely exhausted all 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and that still do not have jobs.

Sadly, as bad as that number sounds, it is likely to keep growing.  Today, over one-third of all unemployed Americans have already been unemployed for at least one year.  If this trend continues, we are going to end up with millions of “99ers”.

60 Minutes recently did a report on some of these “99ers”.  Many of them are very highly educated and very highly qualified.  If you have not seen this 60 Minutes report yet, you have got to take few minutes to sit down and watch it.  This video is so shocking that many of you will have your jaws on the floor by the time you finish watching it….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CwpdGyIY2fQ


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Burning Down A House: A Crime Beyond Denunciation

October 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Mike & Friends Blog

Michael Moore

Michael Moore is an Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author

October 21st, 2010 3:24 PM

Source

(Credit: flickr user dvs)

By Michael Moore

So how do the Wall Street boys feel after destroying the world economy while pocketing billions, and then getting bailed out by everyone else in America? I’m sure they’re filled with remorse and desperately trying to make it up to us. Right?

“The first thing that needs to happen, I think, is to get these people out of their homes,” a man wearing a bespoke blue-striped shirt, a Hermés tie patterned with elephants and Ferragamo loafers said recently. “Correct! I’ll explain,” the veteran member of a bank restructuring and advisory team said…

“The question to me is not do you foreclose or do you not foreclose. The question is when and with what philosophy you foreclose,” the man on the bank restructuring team said. “If you want to reduce the amount of leveraged homeowners you have, you need to ultimately kick them out of their homes.” A colleague walked up: His recommendation was to burn houses. “It would lower the supply.”

That’s from a new article about Wall Street in the New York Observer, the newspaper for Manhattan’s richest people. It’s the only paper I’ve ever seen that’s printed on pink newsprint — except for the Financial Times, the paper for the world’s richest people. (I don’t know whether rich people are naturally attracted to pink paper, or whether it’s really expensive and only they can afford it. Whatever the reason, it’s meant to say fuck you to everyone else.)

Anyway, here’s what I’m wondering: Millions of people are getting kicked out of their homes who need a place to live, millions of homes are sitting empty and their value decaying along with their neighborhoods, and all this banker can say — with a straight face, I presume — is to burn down the houses? Isn’t that insane?

It is — because capitalism is insane. It doesn’t matter that we have a giant oversupply of something, and a giant number of people who desperately need that specific thing. The only thing that matters is: can this something be sold at a profit? If not, the obvious solution is to reduce supply by setting it on fire. And maybe this will create a business opportunity for the Koch brothers to sell tissues to America’s newly-homeless as they watch the empty houses burn down.

And here’s the punchline: though I’m sure that Wall Street banker had no idea, there’s nothing new about this. We’ve been here before. Here’s a famous passage from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck about the insanity of a system that required California farms to burn food during the Great Depression, even as people starved:

Behind the fruitfulness are men of understanding and knowledge and skill, men who experiment with seed, endlessly developing the techniques for greater crops of plants…These are great men…They have transformed the world with their knowledge…

The works of the roots of the vines, of the trees, must be destroyed to keep up the price, and this is the saddest, bitterest thing of all. Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground. The people came for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be. How would they buy oranges at twenty cents a dozen if they could drive out and pick them up? And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are angry at the crime, angry at the people who have come to take the fruit. A million people hungry, needing the fruit — and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains.

There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificates — died of malnutrition — because the food must rot, must be forced to rot…

In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

The Democrats, led by Franklin D. Roosevelt and pushed by unions, harvested the Depression’s grapes of wrath and created with them the foundations of middle class America. And someone’s going to harvest 2010’s grapes of wrath. But it doesn’t have to be us. In fact, if you’re like me, you’re getting very worried about who it might be.

(h/t Paul Krugman for the New York Observer article)

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Jobless America threatens to bring us all down with it

October 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Experiences from bank runs during the Great De...

Experiences from bank runs during the Great Depression led to the introduction of deposit insurance ...

My Comment:

“Former KGB General Primakov has a plan for America’s unemployed. He is Jewish and worked as a consultant to the US Dept of Homeland Security.

He noted that America sent tens of millions of jobs overseas. He said you could put tens of millions of Americans into concentration camps, but you could only throw cans of spam over the fence at them for just so long until you would have to start shooting them”.
by dan fey
——————————————————-

Jobless America threatens to bring us all down with it

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/jeremy-warner/8057069/Jobless-America-threatens-to-bring-us-all-down-with-it.html

A depression may have been averted, but nothing has been fixed. This is the depressingly downbeat message that came across loud and clear from last weekend’s annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund.

The destructive trade and capital imbalances of the pre-crisis era are back, banking reform appears stuck in paralyzing discord, public debt in many advanced economies remains firmly set on the road to ruin, and the spirit of international co-operation that saw nations come together to fight the crisis has largely disappeared.

This was not where we were meant to be in tackling the underlying causes of the crisis and returning the world to sustainable growth. Yet beneath this sense of frustration at lack of progress – and at international organizations such as the IMF and the G20 to bring it about – there is an underlying truth that’s often left unspoken; many of the problems in the world economy right now are not international at all, but US specific and can only really be solved by America itself.

I don’t want to belittle the difficulties faced by some of the peripheral eurozone nations, but in the scale of things they are a sideshow alongside the malaise which has settled on the world’s largest economy.

Ignoring the troubled fringe, Europe as a whole is to almost universal surprise starting to look in reasonable shape again, and for reasons that I will come to, Europeans are in any case not nearly as fixated by high unemployment as their American peers.

What applies to the eurozone is also true of the UK. As in Europe, the dominant issue in UK policy is not joblessness, but unsustainable public debt. There’s a real, and growing, trans-Atlantic divide in perceptions and rhetoric. And with good reason.

Europe had a much deeper economic contraction than the US – oddly, perhaps, given that the crisis originated in the US – but joblessness didn’t climb nearly as steeply, and in the main eurozone economies is now falling again. In Germany, unemployment is already below pre-crisis levels.

Even in the UK, this has so far been a relatively jobs rich recovery, backed by a reasonably robust pick up in manufacturing and investment. For us, things are not as bad as the doomsayers of America suggest.

Heathrow experienced record levels of cargo and passenger traffic last month, according to new figures from BAA, and in a key marker of returning business confidence, premium traffic is also well up again. This chimes with what UK bankers were saying on the fringes of the IMF meeting in Washington last week.

A year ago at the same event, they were still trying to convince each other that they were still solvent. This year, new mandates are being thrown around like confetti, and many of the inter-bank disputes of the crisis period are now being resolved.

Why America has failed to respond as positively is still not entirely clear, though continued deep recession in house building and other forms of private construction is obviously some part of it. These sectors have historically been a larger proportion of employment than in Britain and Europe, and won’t begin to recover until prices stabilize and unsold stock is cleared.

The house price collapse means people can’t sell and move to economically stronger parts of the country, as they’ve tended to in past downturns. High US unemployment – already at 9.7pc and getting on for double that on some wider measures – is becoming entrenched.

If there is one thing the crisis has reminded politicians of it is that they really must be running surpluses during the good times. Going into the downturn, Germany was better prepared than the US, and has therefore proved more resilient.

Whatever the explanation, realization that there may be a structural problem of unemployment in the US on top of the cyclical one has come as a rude awakening for a country raised on the merits of hard work and enterprise.

US Treasury forecasts, both for growth and the public finances, continue to be based on delusionally optimistic use of “the Zarnowitz rule”, which posits that deep recessions are followed by steep recoveries. Regrettably, it’s not happening this time around.

These harsh economic realities have combined with the relentlessness of the US political cycle to produce a tsunami of demands for job creative policy. It’s not just experience of the Great Depression which instructs American terror of unemployment. Very limited jobless entitlements make the pain of mass and prolonged unemployment very real indeed, another key difference with Europe.

Serious losses for the Democrats in the mid-terms are already pre-cooked. If there aren’t solutions over the next year, the Administration may in desperation turn to more populist measures.

Retaliatory action against China and other “currency manipulators” is unlikely to help US employment much, but that’s not going to deter a president who sees his chances of a second term going down the pan. It would on the other hand create chaos in China by depriving millions of their jobs.

The Chinese economy is only a fifth of the size of the US, and its consumption less than an eighth. Even assuming other Asian exporters are punished equally, currency devaluation and import tariffs are not going to solve the problem of US joblessness.

So what’s left? The Fed can act, by pouring more money into the economy (QE2), but the Hill is paralyzed. A second fiscal stimulus of any size is blocked by political division. More monetary stimulus is all very well, but it’s a blunt instrument which struggles to get through to the job creative bit of the economy – small and medium sized enterprises – and threatens new bubbles in emerging markets as abundant liquidity chases yield.

There’s no political appetite or will in the US for the long term entitlement reform and tax increases necessary to bring the deficit under control. Nobody believes US Treasury forecasts that public debt will be stabilized by 2014. Much more believable are IMF estimates which see gross US debt rising to well in excess of 110pc of GDP by 2015.

The US has no strategy for the jobless and no strategy for rolling back debt. Little wonder that a renewed sense of gloom has settled on international policy

http://vidrebel.wordpress.com/

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Five Ways the Democrats Can Avoid a Catastrophe and Pull Off the Mother of All Upsets

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Michael Moore in 2004

Michael Moore

…a letter from Michael Moore

Five Ways the Democrats Can Avoid a Catastrophe and Pull Off the Mother of All Upsets

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Friends,

The election is one month from tomorrow and, yes, it looks hopeless. November 2nd — the day the Dems are expected to crash and burn.

Sadly, it’s a situation the Democrats have brought upon themselves — even though the majority of them didn’t create the mess we’re in. But they’ve had over a year and a half to start getting the job done to fix it. Instead, they’ve run scared ever since they took power. To many, the shellacking they’re about to receive is one they deserve.

But if you’re of a mindset that believes a return to 2001-2008 would be sheer insanity, then you probably agree we’ve got no choice but to save the Democrats from themselves.

Memo To: President Obama and the Democratic Party Leadership

From: Michael Moore

Subject: 5 Things Dems Can Do to Turn It Around by November 2nd

1. Immediate Wall-to-Wall TV Ads, Internet Videos, and Appearances Hammering Who the Hell Put Us in the Misery We’re In.
We Americans have very short attention spans (Quick: Who Won the Oscar for Best Picture last year? The World Series? Exactly.). People need to be reminded over and over that it was the REPUBLICANS who concocted and led the unnecessary invasion of two countries, putting us in our longest war ever, wars that will eventually cost us over $3 trillion. Bush and Co. also caused the biggest collapse of our economy since the Great Depression. I don’t know a single person in Hollywood who wouldn’t shoot and produce those spots for you for FREE. Dems: Do not pull a single punch on this. Quit being a bunch of wusses and let the bastards have it! The public will be astonished that you’ve found your courage and your spine. We expect you to be Muhammad Ali, not Ally McBeal.

2. Indict the Criminals.
Announce that the Justice Department will seek indictments against both those who caused the economic collapse and those who became war profiteers. Call it for what it is: organized crime. Use the RICO statutes. Use the basic laws that make fraud of any kind a crime. Get in the face of those who stole the billions, make them pay for it — and the people will love you. We want Dirty Harry, not Dirty Dancing.

3. Announce a Moratorium on All Family Home Foreclosures.
Last month (August) there were more home foreclosures than in any month in U.S. history. Worse than any month in the worst year ever, 2009. The bleeding hasn’t stopped — it’s only gotten worse. And now, this week, two of the largest crime organizations who are throwing hundreds of thousands of people out of their homes (GMAC and JPMorgan Chase) have been forced to momentarily stop doing this. It turns out, they don’t really have the paperwork to prove they actually own these houses! It’s madness. So if you do one thing for the middle class this week, do this. It will take an hour of your time to draw up the decree and issue it. We’d rather watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” than “Poltergeist.”

4. Announce a New 21st Century WPA.
“Who’s hiring? THE GOVERNMENT IS HIRING!” Put together a simple plan to hire enough people to repair our roads, fix up our aging schools, and rebuild our infrastructure. Fund this by taxing the richest 1% who have more financial wealth than 95% of Americans combined! Unemployment will drop to 5%. Can you pass it? Well, you sure can’t unless you try! And as you’re trying, announce that you will force the Republican senators (who until now simply have had to say they “intended” to filibuster in order to kill a bill) to have to actually filibuster! Make them stand on the floor of the Senate and read from the phone book 24/7. They won’t last a day. And America will see them for who they really are.

5. Declare That No Democrat Will Accept ANY Wall Street Money in the Next Election Cycle.
Pick a day in the coming week. Have all your fellow Democrats in Congress stand in front of the Capitol (with President Obama) and pledge that if America allows you to retain control of Congress, none of you will take a penny from Wall Street for the 2012 election. Instead, promise to accept donations of only $2, $5 and $10. You will also pledge not to take a job as a lobbyist or lawyer for ANY corporation for ten years after you leave Congress. The message will be a powerful one to the average American fed up with corrupt political hacks. Act like Honest Abe, not Fast Freddie — and see what happens.

And here are two bonus suggestions: Use what sense of humor you have and go after these candidates and their agenda with all the hilarious ridicule they deserve. And quit complaining about “the base” not doing enough to help you. You want help? Do something this week to earn it. I’ve offered five suggestions. I’m sure the rest of “the base” has a few more.

Yours,
Michael Moore
MMFlint@aol.com
MichaelMoore.com

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