As Occupy Wall Street and related protests inject themselves into the 2012 presidential campaigns, a new government report shows that over the past three decades the incomes of the nation’s top earners have grown far more rapidly than those of everyone else. The nation’s economic gains have been increasingly concentrated in the households of the top 1 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office, echoing previous studies cited by Occupy Wall Street protesters. The 1 percent of the population with the highest incomes, average income grew 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, the report said. Middle-income Americans saw just less than a 40 percent rise during the same period, while the 20 percent of the population on the bottom saw an 18 percent increase.
A Dysfunctional System That Bankrupts A Generation - Zero Hedge - Wolf Richter - 10/26/2011 - Tuition has done it again: up by 8.3% for universities and by 8.7% for community colleges, according to the College Board. Here in California, tuition increases are outright ridiculous. Much of it will be paid for with student loans (though grants, scholarships, other aid, and tax credits will cover some of it). Student loan debt will exceed $1 trillion by the end of the year—a stunning amount. But unlike other debt, it cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. The skyrocketing costs of higher education add to the strains already weighing down the middle class whose median household income has fallen 9.8% between December 2007 and June 2011 (Sentier Research) and whose real wages have declined 1.8% over last year (BLS) and around 9% since their peak in 1999. We all support education; we want the next generation to be productive. So now, under increased pressure to "do something," the Obama administration has come up with a Band-Aid, which includes income-based payment limits and ultimate debt forgiveness in certain cases—an accelerated implementation of program improvements that would have taken effect in 2014. Looking forward, it is likely that more taxpayer funded relief is on the way. But the system itself is dysfunctional. The cause: a misalignment of interests within the complex relationships between students, universities, the student-loan industry, and the federal government.
Monster Prediction From BofA: Another US Debt Downgrade Is Coming In Just A Few Weeks - Business Insider - Joe Wiesenthal - October 22, 2011 - In an analyst note, Bofa/ML's Ethan S. Harris drops a bit of a bombshell prediction: "We expect a moderate slowdown in the beginning of next year, as two small policy shocks—another debt downgrade and fiscal tightening—hit the economy. The “not-so-super” Deficit Commission is very unlikely to come up with a credible deficit-reduction plan. The committee is more divided than the overall Congress. Since the fall-back plan is sharp cuts in discretionary spending, the whole point of the Committee is to put taxes and entitlements on the table. However, all the Republican members have signed the Norquist “no taxes” pledge and with taxes off the table it is hard to imagine the liberal Democrats on the Committee agreeing to significant entitlement cuts. The credit rating agencies have strongly suggested that further rating cuts are likely if Congress does not come up with a credible long-run plan. Hence, we expect at least one credit downgrade in late November or early December when the super Committee crashes." This is quite a stunning prediction, mainly because nobody is talking about this. And though the experts were 100% wrong in thinking that a downgrade would increase borrowing costs, it did cause a major market jolt when it happened, leading to a major blow to confidence in August and September.
BOMBSHELL - Massachusetts Supreme Court Rules That Most Foreclosure Sales From Previous 5 Years Are VOID - October 19, 2011 (The Daily Bail) - Houston, we've got a problem - Bevilacqua - Amvona - Gregory M. Lemelson - (The Daily Bail) - The only thing surprising about this ruling is that it took so long to be made. This is black letter law, folks, the logical extension of the Court's Ibanez decision. Without a promissory note, a foreclosing plaintiff cannot show a legal injury, i.e., does not have standing to sue. Without standing, the action before the court does not qualify as a "case or controversy" under Article III of the constitution. Courts can only make rulings on "cases or controversies;" advisory opinions are a legal nullity. Consequently, a court that purports to enter a "judgment" where it has no subject matter jurisdiction has in fact entered a legal nullity on its docket; that "judgment" is void as a matter of law. As such, any such "judgment" entered where the plaintiff had no standing is open to collateral attack in any subsequent proceeding. What is more, subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived; were that the case, parties could falsely induce courts to make binding rulings--obviously non-sensical.
(Amvona) - On Oct. 18th, 2011 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court handed down their decision in the FRANCIS J. BEVILACQUA, THIRD vs. PABLO RODRIGUEZ – and in a moment, essentially made foreclosure sales in the commonwealth over the last five years wholly void. However, some of the more polite headlines, undoubtedly in the interest of not causing wide spread panic simply put it "SJC puts foreclosure sales in doubt" or "Buyer Can't Sue After Bad Foreclosure Sale" In essence, the ruling upheld that those who had purchased foreclosure properties that had been illegally foreclosed upon (which is virtually all foreclosure sales in the last five years), did not in fact have title to those properties. Given the fact that more than two-thirds of all real estate transactions in the last five years have also been foreclosed properties, this creates a small problem. The Massachusetts SJC is one of the most respected high courts in the country, other supreme courts look to these decisions for guidance, and would find it difficult to rule any other way in their own states. It is a precedent. It's an important precedent.
A Tightly Knit Network of Companies Runs the World Economy, Says Network Analysis - Popular Science - By Rebecca Boyle - October 20, 2011 - A small, tightly woven network of companies, mostly banks, wields disproportionate control over the global economy, according to a new study. To the thousands of protesters swept up in the global Occupy movement, it may seem like a case of science confirming the obvious. It’s based on a few extrapolations and assumptions that are open to debate, but the overall findings shed some light on the intimate ways 21st century capitalism works — and how those functions can undermine the entire system. The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable.
Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world - New Scientist - Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie - October 24, 2011 - AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy. The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable. The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York's Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere (see photo). But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world's transnational corporations (TNCs).
Obama's job plan disconnected from reality?