Notwithstanding its conservative investment portfolio, the central bank remains highly profitable because of its unique business model. Rather than paying for funding, it simply creates the money that it needs at no cost. The return on its investments, as a result, almost all flows directly to the bottom line.
While most people know about Congress’ $700 billion TARP program, the Fed’s secret emergency loans to banks during the financial crisis remains shrouded in mystery.. A new Bloomberg Markets report shines more light on this lending. After adding up all the guarantees and loans, the Fed committed $7.77 trillion to rescuing the financial system as of March 2009, the report said. Notably, while the banks were taking these huge loans, they maintained that they were fine
Jobless dwarfs should have the option of being flung around a barroom for cash rather than standing in the unemployment line, according to one Florida state lawmaker. Representative Ritch Workman, a Melbourne Republican, has introduced a bill to undo a ban on “dwarf-tossing” as part of what he says is his mission to repeal overreaching and outdated laws from Florida’s books. Though the dwarf-tossing measure is not a “jobs bill,” he said, it may put a few people to work in a state where unemployment is 1.6 percentage points above the national average.
Mass affluence,” as a new white paper from Ad Age, the advertising industry’s top trade journal, has just declared, “is over.” The Mad Men 1960s America — where average families dominated the consumer market — has totally disappeared, this Ad Age New Wave of Affluence study details. And Madison Avenue has moved on — to where the money sits. And that money does not sit in average American pockets. The global economic recession, Ad Age relates, has thrown “a spotlight on the yawning divide between the richest Americans and everyone else.” Taking inflation into account, Ad Age goes on to explain, the “incomes of most American workers have remained more or less static since the 1970s,” while “the income of the rich (and the very rich) has grown exponentially.” The top 10 percent of American households, the trade journal adds, now account for nearly half of all consumer spending, and a disproportionate share of that spending comes from the top 10’s upper reaches.
Fourteen million Americans are out of work, nearly a third of them for more than a year. The Depression-like jobs crises in black neighborhoods around the country have become so acceptable as to be literally unremarkable in national news media. When overall joblessness inched downward in March, the fact that black unemployment increased, again, was greeted with callous shrugs from the White House to CNN. But America is exceptional because we can kill. Our economy is defined by greed. The top 1 percent of earners take home a quarter of income in this country. Wall Street banks are logging record profits while the Treasury Department professes helplessness at the fact that tens of millions of people are still losing their homes to those banks. Because of that foreclosure crisis, the stunning racial wealth gap—the typical black family has a dime for a dollar of wealth held by its white counterpart—will surely grow worse. The White House is paralyzed with inaction in the face of all of these challenges. But it can kill, so we are great. We have the world’s most expensive health care system, and yet in 2009 infant mortality in the U.S. was higher than in 29 other countries and the worst among rich nations. Why? In large part because the infant mortality rate is so high among black and Latina women. We cannot find justice for them, but we can kill and call it justice. We have a $14 trillion deficit. A massive giveaway to defense contractors lurks inside that number—a transfer of public funds that has been justified, in ways both explicit and implicit, by the evil visage of Osama Bin Laden. And now, Washington is as likely as not to make up the loss by taking apart the safety net that once created something like economic justice in America. But the president would like us to agree that we are great because we can kill. “May God bless the United States of America,” Obama declared last night, a sentiment echoed by so many today. Indeed. But the familiar refrain feels to me more like an urgent plea for forgiveness than the triumphant war cry that it is.
One might think that we need all of these big plans, these grand bargains, because of the enormity of the fiscal challenge the country faces. The United States is swimming in a sea of red ink, with trillion-dollar annual deficits and an unfathomably gigantic cumulative debt. But the truth is we don’t need any of these plans. Every one of them is entirely unnecessary for balancing the budget and eventually reducing the debt. They may even be counterproductive. Thus, Slate proposes the Do-Nothing Plan for Deficit Reduction, a meek, cowardly effort to wrest the country back into the black. The overarching principle of the Do-Nothing Plan is this: Leave everything as is. Current law stands, and spending and revenue levels continue according to the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline projections. Everyone walks away. Paul Ryan goes fishing. Sen. Harry Reid kicks back with a ginger ale. The rest of Congress gets back to bickering about mammograms. Miraculously, the budget just balances itself, in about a decade.
There was not a single year between 1952 and 1986 in which the richest 1% of American households earned more than a tenth of national income. Yet after rising steadily since the mid-1980s, reckon Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, two economists, in 2007 the income share of the richest percentile reached a staggering 18.3%. The last time America was such an unequal place was in 1929, when the equivalent figure was 18.4%. The similarities in the evolution of income inequality in the years leading up to the Depression and the global economic crisis make for one of the most striking parallels between the two episodes
“Which countries match the GDP and population of America’s states? It has long been true that California on its own would rank as one of the biggest economies of the world. These days, it would rank eighth, falling between Italy and Brazil on a nominal exchange-rate basis. But how do other American states compare with other countries? Taking the nearest equivalent country from 2009 data reveals some surprises. Who would have thought that, despite years of auto-industry hardship, the economy of Michigan is still the same size as Taiwan’s?”
“Federal taxes are the lowest in 60 years, which gives you a pretty good idea of why America’s long-term debt ratios are a big problem. If the taxes reverted to somewhere near their historical mean, the problem would be solved at a stroke.”
In one of the most dizzying half-hours in stock market history, the Dow plunged nearly 1,000 points before paring those losses—all apparently due to a trader error. According to multiple sources, a trader entered a “b” for billion instead of an “m” for million in a trade possibly involving Procter & Gamble, a component in the Dow.