December 1, 2008

Nearly two years ago, the current lame-duck White House bunch were put on notice the financial system was ready to collapse, ready to fold-up more like a chair sitting a fat-ass banker than a house of cards.
Instead of creating a stop-gap, Decider George opened the flood gates even further.

george finger

From CNN this morning:

  • The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed.
    It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.
    “Expect fallout, expect foreclosures, expect horror stories,” California mortgage lender Paris Welch wrote to U.S. regulators in January 2006, about one year before the housing implosion cost her a job.

(Illustration found here).

Other warnings:

  • They say no one saw it coming, but readers of the ICIS Chemicals & the Economy Blog were well forewarned about the full-blown global financial crisis.
    “A year ago, world stock markets were close to their all-time highs and had seemingly shrugged off earlier US subprime mortgage problems,” said Paul Hodges, chairman of International eChem and author of the ICIS Chemicals & the Economy Blog.
    “But we saw things differently. In October 2007, we highlighted the growing weakness in new housing starts and US housing prices because these were the key drivers for chemical demand,” he added.
    The ICIS Chemicals & the Economy Blog also warned that rising oil prices and the continuing problems in the banking sector could hit consumer demand and impact corporate lending.
    “We advised our readers to put in place contingency plans for just such an outcome,” said Hodges.

A slow motion train wreck from more than a year ago:

  • Amidst all the commentary and sorting out of market Sturm und Drang these days, some financial world figures stand head and shoulders above the rest for their wisdom, level-headednessness and believability.
    One in particular is Jeremy Grantham, called by some the philosopher king of Wall Street even though he’s based to the northeast in Boston. In 1977, he co-founded Grantham, Mayo and Van Otterloo, now known as GMO. In his Quarterly Letters to clients, he assesses current market conditions and usually takes a longer view as well. His commentaries are detailed, scholarly, sober and clear.

    It’s become self-reinforcing and the results are “predictable and consistent.” The three major asset classes – real estate, stocks and bonds – are “expensive compared with (their) replacement cost where it can be calculated.” Equally worrisome, risk premiums “reached a historic low everywhere” until just weeks ago.
    Grantham’s conclusion is these are all warning signs spelling eventual trouble because as noted above “Every bubble has always burst (with no exceptions, ever).”
    When the 2000 bubble deflation resumes, “it will be across all countries and all assets, with the probable exception of high grade bonds.” In addition, risk premiums will widen (and now are) forcing companies to pay higher financing costs for borrowed funds that will depress investor confidence and reduce economic activity.
    No one knows how deep or protracted a decline will be, but Grantham stresses it’s coming because the current global bubble is unprecedented.
    “No similar global event (of this magnitude ever) occurred before.” Now that’s pretty scary stuff to chew on because economic troubles bite everyone and most of all those most vulnerable and least able to weather the storm.
    That includes ordinary working people with little or nothing invested.

And six years ago, warnings from Robert Scheer:

  • Has the war on terrorism become the modern equivalent of the Roman Circus, drawing the people’s attention away from the failures of those who rule them?
    Corporate America is a shambles because deregulation, the mantra of our president and his party, has proved to be a license to steal. Yet to question our leaders’ stewardship of the economy has been made to seem unpatriotic.
    Although combating terrorism is of compelling importance — and should have been before Sept. 11 — one is likely to be branded a nut for daring to suggest that the administration might be using current security threats as a smoke screen to obscure our floundering economy.

    Enron provides a startling illustration of a company jumping through loopholes that its D.C. lobbyists have created.
    In fact, the Enron scams made possible by deregulation in the first Bush administration are still being revealed, such as last week’s reports that the company hid billions in income during the California energy crisis while publicly denying it was profiting excessively.
    Yet former Enron officials continue to play an important role under Bush the younger.
    The Bush family, in fact, has never been seriously confronted by the media or Congress as to its questionable ties to former Enron Chief Executive Kenneth Lay, a close family friend and top contributor to Bush family presidential campaigns.

This looks bad for Decider George as he gets ready to float back to Texas — as if that’s the only thing — and as he throws his feet up on the front porch, the entire planet spirals out of control, both in conflict financial and military.
Is there no justice for such an asshole?

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