Expressions of joy were muted on Wall Street at Friday's release of the latest report from the Conference Board (CB) showing its Leading Economic Index (LEI) jumping 0.9 percent in October, following just a 0.1 percent gain in September. Economic analysts had a field day trying to read the CB’s tea leaves heading into the Christmas holidays and the new year.
Economists at the Conference Board were guardedly optimistic. Ataman Oxyildirim said, “The October rebound of the LEI largely due to the sharp pickup in housing permits suggests that the risk of an economic downturn has receded.” Added Ken Goldstein, “The LEI is pointing to continued growth this winter, possibly even gaining a little momentum by spring. The lack of confidence has been the biggest obstacle in generating forward momentum, domestically or globally. As long as it lasts, there is a glimmer of hope.”
Thursday’s article in The New York Times by writers Jack Ewing and Nicholas Kulish about the “rift” between factions over the role of the European Central Bank (ECB) was a distraction and misdirected attention from what is really happening there. The piece makes it sound as though the ECB is standing firm against pressures to have it buy up the debt from Greece and Italy in order to keep the debt “contagion” from spreading elsewhere.
For instance, the article quotes Spain’s Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, as saying that he expected the ECB to do whatever was necessary, for “this is what we transferred power for … [to] defend the common policy and its countries.” Of course Zapatero would have to say that or he would be gone, just as unelected bankers replaced elected leaders in Greece and Italy. Just a reminder as to who is in charge was reflected by the recent rise in Spain’s borrowing costs, the highest since 1997, and exceeding the “default” level of 7 percent on its 10-year bond. But nothing was said in the article that Zapatero’s comments reflected a desire to save his skin.
In fact the ECB has been taking an active role economically and politically by buying up the debt of those countries in massive amounts, already in excess of $250 billion, and manipulating interest rates to favor the newly installed rulers Mario Monti in Italy and Lucas Papademos in Greece. But authors Ewing and Kulish prefer to present the ECB as being run by “fiercely conservative stewards” who have “steadfastly resisted letting it take up the mantle of lender of last resort.” And to support that falsehood the authors enlisted the help of experts closely tied to the creation of the ECB and to its ultimate purpose as a tool to install a European dictatorship.
When considering what is the “establishment” in America, college students are never told that this group includes powerful labor unions, the news media, or state-supported academia. Hence, why the “Occupy D.C.” encampment, an offspring of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, and other "Occupy" movements are leaning heavily upon big labor to support their protests despite the fact that big unions, in a fashion similar to big finance, buy off politicians in return for government action that is not in the interest of the public at large, but only to the benefit of unions — such as the National Labor Relations Board's attacks on Boeing at the behest of unions for opening a plant in a right-to-work state.
On November 15, demonstrators from Occupy D.C. were removed from the Victor Building in Washington, but the Washington Times reports that big labor unions have provided accommodations to that group.
The Service Employees International Union has given Occupy D.C. portable toilets. The AFL-CIO headquarters has a gym with showers, and as Jeff Hauser of that union says: “We happen to have a few showers associated with our small gym…. We make those available. It happened kind of naturally. We’ve talked with them about the needs they’ve expressed. This really helps them and it’s not a heavy lift on our part. “The rise of inequality, the job crisis — we’re thankful their creative energy and persistence has helped elevate these critical issues. We want to be supportive.”
Predictably, the eviction of hundreds of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) squatters from their squalid “tent city” in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park on Tuesday, November 15, brought howls of protest from the ACLU and liberal-left commentators in the major media.
New York City Police arrested dozens of OWS activists who refused to leave Zuccotti, and on November 16 and 17 arrested hundreds more who tried to reoccupy the park or who attempted to disrupt business at the nearby New York Stock Exchange. Dozens more protesters were arrested on the 17th when they attempted to block traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. OWS activists in Chicago, Seattle, and other cities also attempted to block or close down bridges as part of a “Day of Disruption” strategy.
For more than two months, the privately owned Zuccotti Park has been jam-packed with thousands of protesters, tourists, journalists, and media camera crews. Local residents and business owners have complained that the OWS invasion has caused the 33,000-square-foot “pocket park” to become a magnet for crime and disruptive, unruly, and unsanitary behavior, including public urination and defecation, public lewdness, nudity, vandalism, assaults, theft, and illegal drug use.
It’s official. The U.S. federal debt has crossed another unbelievable line: $15 trillion. The Treasury Department reported the news on Wednesday, and various sources are reporting different figures for the level of debt person and per family. But the discrepancies between those figures are a distinction without a difference. The United States of America is drowning in debt. And it may never recover.
The national debt is the sum of the debt held by the public plus the so-called intragovernmental debt. The latter is that debt held by federal trust funds, such as Social Security, when the government borrows from those trust funds. Those figures are $10.3 trillion and $4.7 trillion.
Terence P. Jeffrey, a veteran budget reporter and columnist for CNSNews.com, reported that the new debt per family, based on the Census Bureau’s estimate of just more than 76 million families in the United States, is $197,579. Jeffrey calculates the debt per person worker in the private section at $160,545.
Those figures drop just a little using numbers from the U.S. Debt Clock. It reports that the debt per taxpayer is about $133,373, while the debt per citizen is about $48,000. It reports a debt per family of about $182,000, based on an estimate of about 82.5 million families.
At a joint briefing on Wednesday with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the next step towards the creation of the supra-national European state: “Germany sees the need…to show the markets and the world public that the euro will remain together, that the euro must be defended, but also that we are prepared to give up a little bit of national sovereignty…” It must be done, she said, so that the euro is “strong and inspires confidence on international markets.”
This could be done through changes in the Lisbon Treaty that comprises the basis for the European Union, or more likely through the signing into law the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) by December 31, 2012. Merkel explained that, either way, this would allow for “an intervention and oversight role in respect of the preparation of national budgets…” among the member states.
This would represent the culmination of more than 60 years of efforts by the Bilderberg Group with the help of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), David Rockefeller, and funding of the effort by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations. Joseph Retinger, one of the founders of the Bilderberg Group in 1954, was also one of the principal architects of the European Common Market. As early as 1946, in a speech to the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), the British counterpart of the CFR, Retinger said that Europe needed to create a federal union and that it would be necessary for the European countries to “relinquish part of their national sovereignty” to secure it. As noted by Andrew Gavin Marshall, research associate for the Centre for Research on Globalization, the effort to create the dictatorship of Europe goes back many years and is the creation of many hands:
Critics are assailing the new European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi — an ex-Goldman Sachs chief and a regular attendee at secretive Bilderberg meetings — as he continues to buy up more government bonds with newly created money. But Draghi is merely one important figure in what is being called a wide-ranging banker “coup d’etat” in the European Union, according to analysts.
Draghi took over the ECB from Jean-Claude Trichet on November 1, becoming arguably the most important man in Europe — at least on the surface. He promptly called a press conference and lowered interest rates.
Perhaps more important, however, Draghi also reportedly decreased the central bank’s government bond purchases by almost half during his first week at the helm. The move almost certainly contributed to the soaring yields on Italian debt that forced Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to step down early this week.
With Berlusconi out of the way, the new unelected regime of Bilderberg and Trilateral Commission leader Mario Monti seized power in what critics referred to as an undemocratic “coup d‘etat” orchestrated by the European Union and powerful banking interests. Monti is also a key Goldman Sachs figure with a long track record of promoting the EU, more “integration,” and the power of banks inside and outside of government.
According to CBS News, "the number of people in the U.S. living in poverty in 2010 rose for the fourth year in a row, representing the largest number of Americans in poverty in the 52 years since such estimates have been published by the U.S. Census Bureau." MSNBC said, "The U.S. poverty rate remains among the highest in the developed world." Let's look at a few poverty facts.
Heritage Foundation researchers Dr. Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield laid out some facts about the poor in their report "Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America's Poor" (9/13/2011). Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more. Two-thirds have cable or satellite TV. Half have one or more computers. Forty-two percent own their homes. The average poor American has more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France or the U.K. Ninety-six percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry during the year because they couldn't afford food.
"The Material Well-Being of the Poor and the Middle Class Since 1980" (10/25/2011) is a research paper by professor Bruce D. Meyer of the University of Chicago and The National Bureau of Economic Research and professor James X. Sullivan of the University of Notre Dame. In it they report:
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that a good catch phrase could stop thinking for 50 years. One of the often-repeated catch phrases of our time — "It's the economy, stupid!" — has already stopped thinking in some quarters for a couple of decades. There is no question that the state of the economy can affect elections. But there is also no iron law that all elections will be decided by the state of the economy.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected for an unprecedented third term after two terms in which unemployment was in double digits for eight consecutive years.
We may lament the number of people who are unemployed or who are on food stamps today. But those who give the Obama administration credit for coming to their rescue when they didn't have a job are likely to greatly outnumber those who blame the administration for their not having a job in the first place.
An expansion of the welfare state in hard times seems to have been the secret of FDR's great political success in the midst of economic disaster. An economic study published in a scholarly journal in 2004 concluded that the Roosevelt administration's policies prolonged the Great Depression by several years. But few people read economic studies.
It has been all the talk on Wisconsin political blogs, talk shows, and editorial pages for the past several months. Now it is official: on November 15 virulent opponents of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker officially launched a recall drive against him, in what can only be described as a vindictive attempt at political payback for his success at reining in collective bargaining for state employees. But just who Democrats will choose to run against the popular conservative state leader — should they garner the half a million or so needed recall petition signatures — is still up in the air.