August 13, 2013 archive

Austerity rocks!

Transcript

UK wages fall among sharpest in EU

Press Association

Sunday 11 August 2013 09.12 EDT

The value of UK workers’ wages has suffered one of the sharpest falls in the EU, House of Commons library figures show.

The 5.5% reduction in average hourly wages since mid-2010, adjusted for inflation, means British workers have felt the squeeze more than those in countries hit by the eurozone crisis. Spanish workers’s wages dropped by 3.3% over the same period and in Cyprus salaries fell by 3% in real terms.

Only Greek, Portuguese and Dutch wages suffered a steeper decline than the UK, the analysis showed, while they rose by 2.7% in Germany and 0.4% in France.

Across the EU as a whole the average fall in wages, adjusted for the European Central Bank’ s harmonised index of consumer prices, was 0.7% and in eurozone area 0.1%.

The shadow Treasury minister, Cathy Jamieson, said: “These figures show the full scale of David Cameron’s cost of living crisis. Working people are not only worse off under the Tories, we’re also doing much worse than almost all other EU countries.

Despite out of touch claims by ministers, life is getting harder for ordinary families as prices continue rising faster than wages. People on middle and low incomes have also seen tax rises and cuts to tax credits, while millionaires have been given a huge tax cut.”



Cameron has overseen 35 consecutive months of falling real wages, more than any other prime minister on record, and spending power has dropped in every month but one under coalition rule as price rises outstrip wage increases

Meanwhile in Greece-

Contraction Shows Signs of Slowing for Greece

By DAVID JOLLY, The New York Times

Published: August 12, 2013

The Greek economy posted its 20th consecutive quarterly decline in the three months through June, government data showed on Monday, but a slower pace of contraction provided a glimmer of hope for beleaguered Greeks.

Gross domestic product shrank by 4.6 percent in the second quarter compared with the same three months a year earlier, the official Hellenic Statistical Authority said. That was an improvement from the first quarter of 2013, when the economy contracted 5.6 percent compared with a year earlier.



“The troika’s forecast for a 4.2 percent annual decline in 2013 looks achievable,” Mr. May (an economist in London with Capital Economics) said.

But it remains “plausible,” he said, that the Greek economy will continue shrinking into 2015. He forecast a 2 percent decline in G.D.P. for next year, followed by a 0.5 percent contraction in 2015.



Many economists argue that the austerity approach favored by the troika is itself part of the problem, pushing Greek unemployment to depression levels. The jobless rate reached a new peak of 27.6 percent in May, according to the statistical agency, with youth unemployment around 65 percent.

Austerity has in practice largely meant laying off civil servants and cutting social spending, because raising taxes generates little revenue in a collapsing economy.

The URL title for this piece is- Greek Economy Shrinks for 20th Straight Quarter.

Cartnoon

On This Day In History August 13

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

August 13 is the 225th day of the year (226th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 140 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1521, the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan falls to Cortes:

After a three-month siege, Spanish forces under Hernan Cortes capture Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. Cortes’ men leveled the city and captured Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec emperor.

Tenochtitlan was founded in 1325 A.D. by a wandering tribe of hunters and gatherers on islands in Lake Texcoco, near the present site of Mexico City. In only one century, this civilization grew into the Aztec empire, largely because of its advanced system of agriculture. The empire came to dominate central Mexico and by the ascendance of Montezuma II in 1502 had reached its greatest extent, extending as far south as perhaps modern-day Nicaragua. At the time, the empire was held together primarily by Aztec military strength, and Montezuma II set about establishing a bureaucracy, creating provinces that would pay tribute to the imperial capital of Tenochtitlan. The conquered peoples resented the Aztec demands for tribute and victims for the religious sacrifices, but the Aztec military kept rebellion at bay.

After the conquest

Cortes subsequently directed the systematic destruction and leveling of the city and its rebuilding, despite opposition, with a central area designated for Spanish use (the traza). The outer Indian section, now dubbed San Juan Tenochtitlan, continued to be governed by the previous indigenous elite and was divided into the same subdivisions as before.

Ruins

Some of the remaining ruins of Tenochtitlan’s main temple, the Templo Mayor, were uncovered during the construction of a metro line in the 1970s. A small portion has been excavated and is now open to visitors. Mexico City’s Z√≥calo, the Plaza de la Constituci√≥n, is located at the location of Tenochtitlan’s original central plaza and market, and many of the original calzadas still correspond to modern streets in the city. The Aztec sun stone was located in the ruins. This stone is 4 meters in diameter and weighs over 20 tonnes. It was once located half way up the great pyramid. This sculpture was made around 1470 CE under the rule of King Axayacatl, the predecessor of Tizoc, and is said to tell the Aztec history and prophecy for the future.

Taxes

I have a uncle who lives there.

No, I’m talking about taxes, money, dollars.

That’s where he lives.  Dollars, Taxes.

Corporate sell-outs exploit a secret new gimmick

By David Sirota, Salon

Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013 4:33 PM UTC

As The Hill reports, the U.S. Senate’s “top tax writers have promised their colleagues 50 years worth of secrecy in exchange for suggestions on what deductions and credits to preserve” in a tax “reform” bill that aims to overhaul the tax code from scratch. The system, reports the newspaper, allows only 10 congressional staff members to have “direct access to a senator’s written suggestions” and “each submission will be given its own ID number and be kept on password-protected servers, with printed versions kept in locked safes” in the National Archives until the end of 2064.



(C)onsider the career of one of the architects of this scheme, Max Baucus.

The retiring Montana senator is the senior Democrat on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee. In that position, he hasn’t used his power to rid the tax code of corporate-written loopholes, subsidies and handouts – the public record shows that he has used his power to riddle the tax code with those expensive giveaways. In exchange for embedding those handouts in the tax code, Baucus has been rewarded handsomely with campaign cash to the point where he has been famously labeled “K Street’s Favorite Senator.” That label is particularly appropriate considering a recent dispatch from the New York Times showing that “no other lawmaker on Capitol Hill has such a sizable constellation of former aides working as tax lobbyists.”

In light of such a record, the notion that Baucus has built the anonymous submission system in order to help challenge K Street is, in a word, absurd. Having spent so much political capital enriching his corporate donors and lobbyists at the expense of taxpayers, he is retiring with one last gift to those benefactors – a secrecy system designed to let them rewrite the tax code from scratch in a way that most serves their interests.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning


Seating

Late Night Karaoke

Mortgage Fraud Settlement: Is a Fraud

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

As we have documented here at Stars Hollow, the task force that was created to pursue mortgage fraud and hold the banks accountable was, and is, a sham game to protect the banks from real relief for defrauded homeowners.

Your mortgage documents are fake!

by David Dayen, Salon

Prepare to be outraged. Newly obtained filings from this Florida woman’s lawsuit uncover a horrifying scheme

A newly unsealed lawsuit, which banks settled in 2012 for $1 billion, actually offers a different reason, providing a key answer to one of the persistent riddles of the financial crisis and its aftermath. The lawsuit states that banks resorted to fake documents because they could not legally establish true ownership of the loans when trying to foreclose.

This reality, which banks did not contest but instead settled out of court, means that tens of millions of mortgages in America still lack a legitimate chain of ownership, with implications far into the future. And if Congress, supported by the Obama Administration, goes back to the same housing finance system, with the same corrupt private entities who broke the nation’s private property system back in business packaging mortgages, then shame on all of us. [..]

Most of official Washington, including President Obama, wants to wind down mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and return to a system where private lenders create securitization trusts, packaging pools of loans and selling them to investors. Government would provide a limited guarantee to investors against catastrophic losses, but the private banks would make the securities, to generate more capital for home loans and expand homeownership.

That’s despite the evidence we now have that, the last time banks tried this, they ignored the law, failed to convey the mortgages and notes to the trusts, and ripped off investors trying to cover their tracks, to say nothing of how they violated the due process rights of homeowners and stole their homes with fake documents.

The very same banks that created this criminal enterprise and legal quagmire would be in control again. Why should we view this in any way as a sound public policy, instead of a ticking time bomb that could once again throw the private property system, a bulwark of capitalism and indeed civilization itself, into utter disarray? As Lynn Szymoniak puts it, “The President’s calling for private equity to return. Why would we return to this?”

White-collar fraud expert proves ‘mortgage-backed securities’ neither mortgage-backed nor secure

by Scott Kaufmann, The Raw Story

The forged documents were endorsed by employees of companies long bankrupt, executives who signed their name eight different ways, or “people” named “Bogus Assignee for Intervening Assignments” so that the banks could establish standing to foreclose in courts. The end result, according to white-collar fraud expert Lynn Szymoniak, is that over $1.4 trillion in mortgage-backed securities are still, to this day, based on fraudulent mortgage assignments.

The lawsuit against Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citi and GMAC/Ally Bank was settled in early 2012 for $1 billion, but now that the evidence is unsealed, Szymoniak and her legal team are free to pursue the other named defendants, including HSBC, the Bank of New York Mellon, and US Bank. “I’m really glad I was part of collecting this money for the government, and I’m looking forward to going through discovery and collecting the rest of it,” Szymoniak told Salon.

Eric Holder Owes the American People an Apology

Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg News

The Justice Department made a long-overdue disclosure late Friday: Last year when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder boasted about the successes that a high-profile task force racked up pursuing mortgage fraud, the numbers he trumpeted were grossly overstated. [..]

In an updated press release Friday, which corrected its initial release of last October, the Justice Department said a review of the cases found that the inflated figures included defendants who had been sentenced or convicted in fiscal year 2012 — not just people who had been criminally charged, as originally reported. Its original, lofty tally also included cases in which the victims weren’t distressed homeowners. [..]

What a charade. No wonder the government found it so difficult to bring a meaningful number of accounting-fraud cases against bank executives after the financial crisis. Its own books were cooked. [..]

This was the second time, mind you, that Holder’s Justice Department had pulled a stunt like this. In December 2010, Holder held a press conference to tout a supposed sweep by the president’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force called “Operation Broken Trust.” (The mortgage-fraud program was part of the same task force.) As with the mortgage-fraud initiative, Broken Trust wasn’t actually a sweep. All the Justice Department did was lump together a bunch of small-fry, penny-ante fraud cases that had nothing to do with one another. Then it held a press gathering.

Between this sham that protects the banks and the egregious violations of the press and privacy of all Americans with abusive use of FISA, Eric Holder owes us more than an apology, he owes us his resignation as Attorney General.

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Our regular featured content-

These featured articles-

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Write more and often.  This is an Open Thread.

The Stars Hollow Gazette