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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- August 21, 2011

The following are links to important stories written about Current Economic Activity and the relevance that these issues have upon our everyday lives. These stories will give you a flavor of the current state of the economy as it stands today and is trending to the future.

Perry Made a Million on Land While in Office - Bloomberg - By Alison Fitzgerald - Aug 18, 2011 - Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has never been paid a government salary of more than $150,000, became a millionaire while in public office through well-timed sales in the Texas real estate market...  The Republican presidential hopeful bought property from friends and political allies and sold to Texas businessmen, such as computer magnate Michael Dell, and in the process made more than $1 million. Perry’s income also was supplemented by stock sales, according to his tax returns and county land and tax records.

Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?
- A whistle-blower claims that over the past two decades, the agency has destroyed records of thousands of investigations, whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals. - Rolling Stone - By Matt Taibbi - August 17, 2011 - That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back. For the past two decades, according to a whistle-blower at the SEC who recently came forward to Congress, the agency has been systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations once they are closed. By whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG. With a few strokes of the keyboard, the evidence gathered during thousands of investigations – "18,000 ... including Madoff," as one high-ranking SEC official put it during a panicked meeting about the destruction – has apparently disappeared forever into the wormhole of history.

Justice Department Joins Probe of S&P, Rivals Over Crisis-Era Ratings - Wall Street Journal - By EVAN PEREZ And JEANNETTE NEUMANN - 8/19/2011 - The U.S. Justice Department has joined the Securities and Exchange Commission in investigating Standard & Poor's and other credit-rating firms for their role in developing mortgage-bond deals that helped trigger the financial crisis, according to a U.S. official familiar with the matter... The probe by lawyers in the Justice Department's civil division appears to be centered on the actions of S&P, though that could change as the investigation proceeds, this person said... The SEC for months has been looking closely at the conduct of S&P and reviewing the role played by Moody's Investors Service, owned by Moody's Corp., in relation to at least two mortgage-bond deals, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Waiver Count Keeps Going Up - - Helen Whalen Cohen - 8/20/2011 - The Obama administration granted another 106 waivers last month from part of the healthcare reform law — the first round of three-year waivers the Health and Human Services Department has approved... The new approvals bring the total number of waivers to 1,472, according to HHS. Those figures cover waivers granted through the end of July. HHS will stop granting new waivers after September... HHS has been approving a new batch of one-year waivers at the end of each month. The department announced it would cut off applications after September, but let companies that received one-year exemptions extend their waivers through 2014. The 106 waivers approved in July will last three years.

Shoppers will see higher prices for back-to-school shopping, but stores aim to disguise them - Associated Press 8/18/2011 - Stores are trying everything they can think of to disguise the fact that you’re going to pay more for clothes this fall... Some are using less fabric and calling it the new look. Others are adding cheap stitching and trumpeting it as a redesign. And the buttons on that blouse? Chances are you’re not going to think it’s worth paying several dollars more for the shirt just to have them... Retailers are raising prices on merchandise an average of 10 percent across-the-board this fall in an effort to offset their rising costs for materials and labor. But merchants are worried that cash-strapped customers who are weighed down by economic woes will balk at price hikes. So, retailers are trying to raise prices without tipping off unsuspecting customers.

Retailers, Restaurants Raise Prices to Offset U.S. Labor Costs - Bloomberg - Anna-Louise Jackson and Anthony Feld - 8/18/2011 - Retailers and restaurants are raising consumer prices to help compensate for higher labor costs, which increased the most in almost three years during the second quarter... Fifty-three percent of these companies with annual sales of $10 million to $500 million have lifted prices during the last 12 months, up from 32 percent a year ago, according to a quarterly survey by Barlow Research Associates. This comes as U.S. inflation excluding food and energy costs accelerated at an annual pace of 1.8 percent in July, the biggest such gain in more than a year, according to Labor Department data released yesterday.

Foreclosure Case Against MERS Reaches Supreme Court
- Housing Wire - Kerri Panchuk - 8/17/2011 - A controversial case challenging the ability of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems to foreclose on a California man was filed with the Supreme Court Monday, making it the first major MERS case to reach the nation's highest court... If the Supreme Court agrees to hear Gomes v. Countrywide, Gomes' attorney, Ehud Gersten, says the court will have to decide whether a lower court stripped his client, Jose Gomes, of due process by allowing MERS to foreclose without ensuring the registry had the noteholder's authority to foreclose.

Industry's Past-Due Mortgages Climb Above 6.5 Million - - Carrie Bay - 8/16/2011 - LPS says the national delinquency rate — loans that are at least 30 days past due but not yet in foreclosure – rose to 8.34 percent as of the end of July. That’s up 2.4 percent from June but down 10.4 percent from July 2010...   According to the company’s latest report, 4.11 percent of the nation’s outstanding mortgages were part of the foreclosure inventory at July month-end... The foreclosure inventory rate – which LPS calculates as loans that have been referred to an attorney but have not yet reached the final stage of foreclosure sale – increased 0.4 percent from June, and is up 9.7 percent from a year earlier.

Calm Before Black Swan - Midnight Contemplations On Public Enemy N°1


Silence DoGood said...

I viewed the video. While I don’t disagree with the content entirely, it portrays only part of the entire picture. It isn’t only the banks and the bankers. It is likewise the politicians drafting and passing the regulations and laws that allow it. It is the mega corporations that work hand in hand with those two institutions that work only to perpetuate themselves. They have become living, breathing things, a Frankenstein monster if you will. Constructed of many smaller parts, its heart is the regulations that enable it and its lifeblood the capital it devours provided by the banks. So as much as it pains me to say, perhaps Mitt Romney wasn’t wrong in that regard, companies are people too. The two problems with it is this. Our creation has no soul and it has no brain. It lives to eat, exist, and reproduce. Control the heart and you control the rate of its lifeblood the beast has to circulate to its appendages. Limbs will fail and die…naturally. Over time, the monster will sprout another to replace it. But now, it has two heads, six arms, and ten legs and is a megalith in its hunger and desires.

I don’t disagree that if the journey along this path continues, we are ripe for upheaval the likes of which we haven’t seen in over 200 years. The conflict in that decision is, direction. We have no singular purpose or vision upon which we can rally around to unite and demand change. The fomenters of disinformation confuse and befuddle with things like reality television and mindless meaningless drivel. The opportunists are positioning themselves atop the fence in order to take advantage of any situation, perpetually playing both sides to maximize themselves.

Republican dogma says that Democrats seek to perpetually redistribute the wealth. A party of Robin Hoods seeking to rob the rich and give to the poor…which in essence is actually who the rich got it from in the first place if you think about it. But to qualify those two sentences, let me point this out. We are forever told that we need to live within our means, that we need to make do, and that we need to do more with less. And the wealthy hold the notion that they should be able to make as much as they want. Well why doesn’t living within your means, making do, and doing more with less apply to them as well? Why is it that when their cash flow slows, someone else’s stops? Or prices increase? How are you supposed to save for the future when it takes everything you make to simply provide food and shelter? What is going to transpire with our addiction to technology when we can no longer afford the latest igadget in lieu of buying bread and perhaps some peanut butter to live on? As people are forced to scale back and cut down, life and views will simplify and as the ranks grow with people seeking the answers to the questions posed, critical mass will follow. If and when that day arrives, there will be a reckoning. God will not help them that have profited and those they have walked on for so long will show them no quarter.

James Thomas Shell said...

DoGood, Very eloquent and on target summary as to how I am filling these days. I wish for you to contact me at that address or some other way so that we can talk. I'd like for you to help me with some of these writings and thought processes, because you bring a lot to the table.