Friday, December 30, 2011

Obama's Failure on Consumer Protection

After failing to nominate Elizabeth Warren to head the new consumer protection agency, Obama proposed Cordry. See this Vanity Fair article on Warrren. However, when the Senate blocked Cordry with some filibuster trick, Obama just accepted it. He has obviously been bought by the big banks and other financial interests. Obama should at least have made a stink. He's been quiet as a mouse, hoping the public will forget and the Wall Street money will keep rolling in. The average person has no one to stand up for him, except Elizabeth Warren, whom Obama has thrown to the wolves.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Jews Need to Clean Up Their Act

In Boomerang, Michael Lewis points out the absence of Jews in the German financial community.  We all know why this is so.  But the problem now is that the American financial community is largely led by Jews, and it turns out to be corrupt, while the gentile German banking community turns out to be largely honest, if gullible.  Not all Jews are dishonest, but events like this tend to reinforce unfavorable stereotypes of Jews. If Jews want to overcome these "Shylock" stereotypes, they need to clean up their act.   Unfortunately they are dragging America down into the gutter with themselves. 

Women Leaders

At this moment in the financial crisis, the only people I trust are women:
Elizabeth Warren,
Christine Legarde, and
Angela Merkel.

When Barney Frank was discussing his legacy on PBS yesterday, one the things he emphasized was the consumer protection provisions of the Dodd-Frank law.  Elizabeth Warren was largely responsible for that, and then when push came to shove, Obama abandoned her, clearly as a result of pressure from the crooks on Wall Street, led by Jamie Dimon of Chase Bank. 

Christine Legarde did a good job as French Finance Minister and is currently sorely missed as France tries to deal with the European financial crisis.  However, she will be able to help as head of the IMF.  I trust her to do the right thing more than I did her disgraced predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. 

Angela Merkel gets a lot of bad press from financial journalists and commentators, in part because they see her Germanic honesty as a rebuke to American dishonesty.  People seldom mention that she is from the old East Germany, and grew up in conditions far different from the prosperous unified Germany that she now leads.  She, more than others, remembers the trials and sacrifices that West Germany undertook to unify with East Germany.  When they look at the sacrifices they are being called on to make for Greece, et al, the Germans can say, "Been there; done that."  However, before the sacrifices were for fellow Germans; now the sacrifices are for countries and peoples with whom the Germans share much less.  Although Europe needs to be saved, Merkel is right not to have Germany commit suicide to save its poorer partners.

Germany More Moral Than America

I just finished reading Michael Lewis' chapter in Boomerang about Germany.  His theme for Germany is "clean on the outside, dirty on the inside."  But much of what turns out to be dirty on the inside is America's subprime mortgage debt, which was sold by unscrupulous American bankers to honest, trusting German bankers.  In many ways it is the most damning portrait of the American banking system that I have read of the books I have read about the economic crisis.  According to Lewis, the Germans were honest; the Americans were dishonest.  It makes be less forgiving toward American bankers.  I am now more inclined to believe that the crisis was not something that just happened, but it was caused by Americans who knew that they were doing bad things.  I now think that somebody needs to go to jail, along the lines of the "Daily Show" last night, complaining that Martha Stewart went to jail for something that was absolutely nothing compared to what the big shots on Wall Street did, none of whom has gone to jail.  It illustrates that America has become a third rate country where you can buy your way out of jail by bribing the President and members of Congress with political contributions.