Thursday, October 23, 2008

Musings: Big Time Bungler

A swirl of gray clouds and a few drops of fat rain greeted Koko and me this morning as we took a slow, sleepy, short walk. We're generally on the same energy wave length — until chickens come into the picture. Then she becomes a little brown rocket at the end of the leash, and she’s not satisfied until her lunging sends them scurrying for cover.

I can’t help but take a certain satisfaction in seeing someone like Alan Greenspan knocked off his pedestal. For years he enjoyed God-like status, with all the perks and fawning and fat salaries that accompanied it.

Now it’s clear — and even he’s admitting it, kind of — that he bungled big time. According to a Reuters article:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress on Thursday he is "shocked" at the breakdown in U.S. credit markets and said he was "partially" wrong to resist regulation of some securities.

"Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity -- myself especially -- are in a state of shocked disbelief," said Greenspan, who stepped down from the Fed in 2006.


That’s the problem. Those who are so wrapped up in the financial system, like Greenspan, can’t see that it’s built largely upon greed and deception. That’s the Achilles heel that trips it up every time. When the getting is good, that’s all that matters. There’s no responsibility to anyone but one’s own personal fortune-making. Then average Americans see the insiders raking in the dough and they, in their usual sheep-like fashion, also want to gorge at the trough.

And so it goes: boom, bust, boom, bust, until finally we get this giant kaboom!

The article continues:

While Greenspan was once hailed as one of the most accomplished central bankers in U.S. history, the low interest rates during his final years at the Fed have been blamed for fueling the housing bubble and eventual crash that touched off the current financial crisis.

His strong advocacy for limited regulation of financial markets has also been called into question as a result of the crisis.


So now the question becomes: if someone “once hailed as one of the most accomplished central bankers in U.S. history” can make this kind of mess, what’s the likelihood that a person chosen as Treasury Secretary by President Bush has the brains and integrity to clean it up?

But as the old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. The last time I filled gas, two weeks ago, it was $4.51 a gallon. Now, thanks to oil prices that have been forced lower by the recession, it’s down to $3.80. And for the average consumer, that’s a lot more meaningful than a $750 billion bailout.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Alas, that lower cost of gas, along with the frozen credit markets, may well spell the end of alternative energy for a while.

Larry said...

You folks need a Costco. $2.899/gal.

From today's Progressive Review, thinking of your Greenspan comments:

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;
that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. - John Kenneth Galbraith


One can, I suppose, think of the current bailout as a bailout of greed and selfishness. We bail out instead of punish. We're weird.

Anonymous said...

The last time this happened started a restructuring that resulted in a restructuring of American society that moved more wealth to the lower class. During that restructuring there were two world wars and a Korean and Vietnam Conflict along the way.

Then Reaganomics came along and that trend was reversed. The GINI index 2006 shows that we are 73 of 126 countries as far as wealth inequality.

Did we have to go through the depression to get to be more equal?

Will propping up of the financial system today by the infusion of capital borrowed from the future forestall any hope of economic equality for the lower classes?

By far the biggest impact on Kauai is the financial/economic system. Growth is dependent on capital. Restrictions on growth require restrictions on capital. When Hawaii became a territory and more so when it became a state we became a part of the US financial system. Capital is now part of the United states system.

If you just restrict growth you decrease supply and increase prices. In order to offset the high prices you make developers build affordable housing and build infrastructure which increases prices. With a global market and restricted supply the limits to demand is expanded.

When people point to examples of pacific islands or countries that are sustainable, I wonder about the restrictions to capital in those countries.

The World is in a process of freeing up capital but the cost of that capital is being borrowed from the future.

Where does that put the discussion on sustainability?

Anonymous said...

Then Reaganomics came along and that trend was reversed.

The period that Reagan was in office saw more movement from the lower classes to the middle class, and from the middle class to the upper classes, than in any other time in history. Furthermore, charitable giving rose to all time highs as well. Do your economic history research and see how wrong the left is. Go ahead. Do it.

Anonymous said...

no national economy, no tourists, no job, no money, no rent, no food, no clothes . . .

Anonymous said...

....no national economy, no tourists, no job, no money, no rent, no food, no clothes ......Where does that put the discussion on sustainability?

right where it needs to be. thinking global, acting local; in the newspaper, on the internet, in the campaign, at the dinner table, on the golf course, in the classroom, your parish hall around the water cooler...where ever people who are concerned or invested in creating a more equitable and pluralistic socio-economic structure to provide for our immediate needs and future generation.

Anonymous said...

"Alas, that lower cost of gas, along with the frozen credit markets, may well spell the end of alternative energy for a while."

Are you serious? WHAT planet do YOU live on?

Anonymous said...

From Keith Blanchard's column in the Huffington Post:

The challenges we face as a nation grow more complex every day, and every day, America's superstrength weakens. Our financial institutions — the only corner of industry we haven't already sent overseas — are imploding. Every day our political process grows more absurdly corrupt, while our watchdog media slumbers, dreaming of Britney. Our families are virtually all fractured; our prisons are teeming; our schools are churning out violent morons.

How bad does the state of the nation have to get before we will be advised it's okay to panic?

Collectively and individually, we are already enslaved to a diminished future by decades of unrestrained gluttony and greed. And we are getting fatter, stupider, and more indebted by the moment. I'm not being judgmental; that's just a sober read of the stats. One in five Americans today believes the sun revolves around the earth. One in four read no books at all last year. One in three believes in UFOs.

Kind of makes you wonder who we are, anymore. I think we've been bellied up just a little too long at the all-you-can-eat buffet of the world. You probably think I mean that figuratively. But one out of five Americans is overweight now, and one in four of us is clinically obese. Yowsa! One in four!! We are not just the fattest people on Earth, we're the fattest people in the history of people. We're so fat our favorite color is gravy. We're so fat that when our beeper goes off, other countries think we're backing up.

But I digress.

Time to put two and two together, people, whatever THAT adds up to, and take a good hard look at what we've let ourselves become. Not too long ago, America led the world in things like energy production, automobiles, cotton, hope. Today we lead the world in substance abuse, incarceration, bulimia, and serial killers. America's #1 export today is — this is true; can anyone guess?

Debt.

Manawai said...

So, Joan! Why did you delete the comment I submitted last night? I said that we all have to remember that the bail out is NOT to save all the wallstreet executives who got us into this financial mess, but to bail out US, that's you and me whose retirement plans and 401K's are the majority investors in these companies. How is that insight objectional?

Joan said...

Your insight is not objectionable, Manawai, and I didn't reject it. I never received the comment to moderate. So thanks for checking, and posting it again. This system is not infallible, nor am I.

Anonymous said...

I like that other guy's analysis of what America is: a free market capitalist society working within minimal governmental oversight...just enough to keep the wheels from falling off.

Capitalism operatiing within a shell of socialism, so to speak.

But the wheels did fall off because the regulators were alseep at the wheel.

Like a home situation where the parents (government) ignore the big kids (greedy lenders) who beat up and take advantage of their smaller siblings (greedy lendees).

All hell breaks loose in the living room as the big kids beat up the little kids and fight amongst them selves. Lamps get broken, etc.

Finally, the parents enter, are shocked, punish all, declare "time outs".

Once order is restored, life will continue as before. The big kids will still beat the little kids and sometimes each other, but as long as blood isn't spurting or bones aren't broken, the parents feel all is OK.

Typical home...typical USA...

Anonymous said...

"Are you serious? WHAT planet do YOU live on?"
Right here in the neighborhood.
Lack of credit capital may require the alternative energy companies to cut back on their investments in technology and infrstructure.
Remember the oil crises of the seventies and how quickly big cars and trucks replaced the new Japanese compacts.
Now we can't even get the credit needed to replace our outdated vechiles.

Anonymous said...

I donʻt blame anybody but the amerikan people, or most of them.
Itʻs the lazy, I donʻt give a crap about anybody or anything but myself attitude compounded with Prozac and the other shit they tell you to swallow...and you do.

For believing anything and not fighting (I donʻt mean in Iraq either)

For not getting your fʻng fat asses and perverted soldiers the hell out of the other guyʻs countries and knowing whatʻs best for everyone.

Itʻs for that lazy attitude of not even attending a public hearing but instead letting someone else do it because youʻre too busy making ʻyourʻ living.

LOL. No wonder ʻtheyʻ hate us. And ʻtheyʻ are right.

Amerikans (most) are truly disgusting.

Manawai said...

I hope the Anon. October 24, 2008 8:07 PM never identifies his cowardly self because he'd get a loaded rifle stuck up somewhere hurtful. Joan, if you delete any comments at all, I vote for his. I hope that most of us would take offense at calling our soldiers who risking their lives for a bunch of ungrateful Shites in Iraq being called "perverted" and so should you Joan and any clear-thinking American citizen. One can debate the war, but to insult our soldiers fulfilling their oaths of duty to me is not acceptable. His comment being here is more a test of your ideals than his.

PS - Thanks for posting my earlier comment. I understand.

Anonymous said...

We should all be more like you.

Lol.

Anonymous said...

Hey, look! Hugo Chávez's Socialist Venezuela is wracked with corruption! Go figger.

Anonymous said...

check this out-http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/23/BUID13N905.DTL
in response to:
"Are you serious? WHAT planet do YOU live on?"
Right here in the neighborhood.
Lack of credit capital may require the alternative energy companies to cut back on their investments in technology and infrstructure.
Remember the oil crises of the seventies and how quickly big cars and trucks replaced the new Japanese compacts.
Now we can't even get the credit needed to replace our outdated vechiles.

Anonymous said...

Sun is shinin', the weather is sweet;
Make you want to move your dancin' feet:
To the rescue, here I am!
Want you to know, y'all, where I stand!

Monday morning, Here I am!
Want you to know
Tuesday evening, just if you can
Where I stand.
Wednesday morning, Tell myself a new day is risin';
Thursday evening, get on the rise a new day is dawnin'.
Friday morning, Here I am!
Saturday evening Want you to know just -
Want you to know just where I stand!

When the morning gathers the rainbow,
Want you to know, I'm a rainbow, too.
So, to the rescue, here I am!
Want you to know just if you can
Where I stand

We'll lift our heads and give Jah praises-a!
We'll lift our heads and give Jah praises, yea-eah!

Sun is shining, the weather is sweet now
Make you want to move your dancing feet
So, to the rescue, here I am!
Want you to know just if you can
Where I stand - know where I stand

Monday morning, scoo-be-doop scoop-scoop!
Tuesday evening, scoo-be-doop scoop-scoop!
Wednesday morning, scoo-be-doop scoop-scoop!
Thursday evening, scoo-be-doop scoop-scoop!
Friday morning, scoo-be-doop scoop-scoop!
Saturday evening, scoo-be-doop scoop-scoop!

So, to the rescue - to the rescue - to the rescue, all right! And so

Awake from your sleep and slumber:
Today could bring your lucky number, er - er!
Sun is shining and the weather is sweet

nunya said...

Manawai said: .."risking their lives for a bunch of ungrateful Shites in Iraq.."

WOW. Looks like Anonymous 8:07 PM had it right !

I am really not clear though on what the Iraqis are supposed to be grateful for as you state. Because the U.S. illegally attacked and invaded their upper level society (far higher educational system than us) and country in order to steal their resources...leaving them devastated in unimaginable ways. And in order for an ignorant, unfit son of Bush Sr. to take revenge for his hillbilly ʻpoppyʻ?

You are an ignorant, unworthy member of the human race and should take your threat to Anonymous and instead get yourself out of some misery - making this world a better place to live in.

My God, you are despicable. By the way, you use a Hawaiian blog name, but you have just exposed yourself as not being Hawaiian!

I can only imagine why Joan removed your other comment. She is a good filter for decency, of course you obviously donʻt have a clue what that is.

Anonymous said...

Saddam Hussein, his sons, and his government were cruel, violent thugs. There are certainly plenty of reasons to argue against having gone to war with Iraq, but don't pretend there was even one redeeming quality to that regime. They threw political enemies into plastic shredders. To extract confessions from political prisoners, they tortured their children in front of them. It's minimizing the criminality of that regime in order to make the US seem all the worse for attacking it that is despicable.

Anonymous said...

And how was that our problem? And how did invading Iraq and slaughtering folks solve that problem? Being a good troop and doing what your told is not my idea of a "hero" but a chump.

Anonymous said...

October 25, 2008 2:22 PM

Right, how was that our problem? And since it was going on for many years, according to what we are supposed to believe from the U,S. spin machine, why didnʻt the U.S. go in earlier?

Because if it really was as bad as the U.S. tells us, we didnʻt seem to give a s__t UNTIL Mr. Hussein decided to use euros.

And you have your torture facts wrong about Saddam, but I am really tired of repeating stuff to people that only hear what they want.

The U.S. is by far a cruel, if not the cruelest regime...they just do it different OR send the dirty work to another country where theyʻve used your tax dollars to train foreigners how to extract info.

Do you, Manawai, have any idea how intellectually advanced and sophisticated the educational institutions (and medical) were in Iraq before the big dum american came in to smoke em out?

The way I look at it, Bush is soooo ignorant, he was jealous and to think that the small nation of Iraq blew the U.S. off twice, well...it was personal on Bushʻs part and he used thousands of motherʻs sons blood for his vendatta.

Anonymous said...

I see as usual the ignorance is strong here with the pseudo-hippie crowd that thinks it's cool to hate their own country. I have to wonder why you even stay here if you hate it so much. Luckily you're a minority; unimportant, unhappy, ineffective and poor.

Anonymous said...

Stalin called such people "useful idiots." They were Americans who ignorantly bought the propaganda and sang the praises of the Soviet empire - many of them even after Stalin's terror and crimes against humanity were well documented. I'm kind of amazed that there are latter day useful idiots for Saddam Hussein's Iraq. But I suppose it's inevitable.

Anonymous said...

The economy is fine and our foreign policy is brilliantly conceived. There, satisfied?

Anonymous said...

The economy is fine and our foreign policy is brilliantly conceived. There, satisfied?

You confuse criticism of the mindless embrace of America's enemies with the mindless support for America's policies.

Surely you can keep two separate thoughts in your head at the same time.

Anonymous said...

We were "mindlessly embracing" Saddam Hussein in the eighties. He must have been a saint then.

Anonymous said...

TO:October 26, 2008 12:39 AM and the mindless robot fodder below you on this blog...

I donʻt hate it here - you said that. I am reviled by what has moved here and inundated the Hawaiian people: you. I stay here just because it is NOT the lʻetats unite de merde.

And I am not poor, but Iʻve got a real good hunch you are, and donʻt feel bad, thatʻs not important; there does exist many indigent republicans and they are just as intellectually poor as the financially set repubes.

For your information, last year I contributed $526,000.00 to Doctors without Borders and Amnesty International. Iʻm not rich rich but I am not financially challenged. Mentally and spiritually I am terribly wealthy.

Although it is ʻsaidʻ Saddam Hussein acted as a tyrant, it canʻt be denied that he was a brilliant man and the U.S. was terrified of what he would have exposed.

Can you say that about the Cow Manure in Washington?

Anonymous said...

It must be hellish living in a world where people are so stupid that some of them don't even agree with your brilliant opinions.