Category Archives: Cultural Anthropolgy

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socialism for the rich

US Banks Reject Effort by UK Bank Execs to Rein in Pay

From the Independent:

Chief executives from the world’s banks discussed the plans at a secret dinner held at Claridge’s, the London hotel, last October, at which several leading British bankers are said to have suggested that the sector should take greater responsibility for its part in the crash, and do more to reduce the vast bonuses paid to staff.

But the recommendations were met by stiff opposition from the US banks JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, according to one source. “Some of the US bankers were furious about attempts to reduce pay throughout the industry, arguing that any such move smacked of socialism and would be fiercely resisted,” the source said on Friday. “It’s not the way the Americans like to go about their business.”

Yves here. The evidence that US capital markets firms are firmly in the hands of hopeless sociopaths continues to mount.

The fact set is undeniable: the big firms in the industry engaged in a massive campaign of looting, of running enterprises in which the employees were consistently overpaid relative to the risks and true profits of the firms. The result was that they were overleveraged. The only reason the industry survived was due to massive public subsidies, from equity injections to special lending programs to super low rates to regulatory forebearance. By any right, the firms should have failed, and the bankruptcy course should have gone full bore after the pay earned in the bubble years as fraudulent conveyance.

The British bankers seem to understand:

1. The industry is responsible for the financial crisis and the toll it has inflicted on innocent bystanders

2. The industry should be very grateful indeed for all the emergency rescue, particularly since virtually nothing has been done to prevent the industry from resuming the same sort of profitable-looking reckless behavior that nearly drove the world economy off the cliff

3. Banks’ current profits are also due in significant measure to all that lovely cheap funding on offer from central banks, in effect an unexpected reward for having caused the crisis. Reader NYT pointed out:

GS [has] gone from a privately funded balance sheet to a government funded balance sheet since the October meltdown. They paid only $6.5B interest on only $500B of debt in 2009. That’s about 1.3%. Given that some of their debt is long term debt (e.g Buffet’s 10% loan etc) issued prior to 2009, they must have replaced almost all of the $500B in debt with loans from the Fed.

Looks like the financial crisis worked out very well for GS. They are paying $25B a year less in interest than they paid in 2008 and it looks like no one is even talking about why GS should not be given this huge and ongoing government subsidy.

4. The wisest course of action is to try to resume as much of status quo ante as possible while keeping a low profile so that the public and officialdom will not decide to interfere in this juicy little racket. That means avoiding in engaging in the most press and public annoying behavior, namely, paying lavish bonuses, is not a very good idea right now

5. But the US banks are convinced of their divine right to feed at the trough

The astonishing bit is that the US banking execs have the temerity to self-restraint on pay “socialism”. They are benefitting from what most would call socialism for the rich, but is more accurately termed Mussolini-style corpocracy or good old fashioned pilfering from the public purse.

A successful investor would often say, “Little pigs get fed. Big pigs get slaughtered.” A lot of people are waiting for these big pigs to get their just deserts.

COMBO a collaborative animation by Blu and David Ellis

a collaborative animation by Blu and David Ellis
year 2009
http://www.blublu.org
http://www.davidellis.org
produced by studio cromie
http://www.studiocromie.org
music by Roberto Lange
http://www.robertolange.com
made at Fame festival 2009
http://www.famefestival.it

Love & Theft

And I’m still carrying the gift you gave,
It’s a part of me now, it’s been cherished and saved,
It’ll be with me unto the grave
And then unto eternity.”
(Bob Dylan)

Script, direction: Andreas Hykade
Design, animation: Andreas Hykade
Animation assistance: Angela Steffen
Art work: Natalia Eck
Compositing: Christof Hoffmann
Sound, Music: Heiko Maile
Funding: MFG and FFA
Production assistance: Simone Fischer
Production: Thomas Meyer-Hermann
Studio FILM BILDER 2010

The Red Book

Move Confrontation in Philadelphia

BP’s oil spill clean-up: out of sight, out of mind

http://www.grist.org/phpThumb/phpThumb.php?src=http://www.grist.org/i/assets/2/gulfplanespraying.jpg&w=615

A few interesting thoughts from an article found at

http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/401574/abel-harding/2010-05-10/oil-spill-clean-doing-more-harm-good

“It is important to understand that oil spill dispersants do not in any way reduce the amount of oil spewing from its source nor do they eliminate oil from the environment. What these chemical agents are designed to do is alter the physical and chemical properties of the oil allowing it to sink further down into the water column.” 
Because to “alter the physical and chemical properties of the oil allowing it to sink further down into the water column” means out of sight, out of mind.

As ProPublica.org points out, there are significant concerns that the treatment could severely harm the Gulf’s ecosystem, leaving dead fish in its wake.

The exact makeup of the dispersants is kept secret under competitive trade laws, but a worker safety sheet for one product, called Corexit, says it includes 2-butoxyethanol, a compound associated with headaches, vomiting and reproductive problems at high doses.

“There is a chemical toxicity to the dispersant compound that in many ways is worse than oil,” said Richard Charter, a foremost expert on marine biology and oil spills who is a senior policy advisor for Marine Programs for Defenders of Wildlife and is chairman of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. “It’s a trade-off – you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t — of trying to minimize the damage coming to shore, but in so doing you may be more seriously damaging the ecosystem offshore.”

http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/401574/abel-harding/2010-05-10/oil-spill-clean-doing-more-harm-good

other interesting articles . . .

Chemicals Meant To Break Up BP Oil Spill Present New Environmental Concerns
http://www.propublica.org/article/bp-gulf-oil-spill-dispersants-0430

BP’s Oil-Dispersant Use Veers Into Uncharted Science (Update1)
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-12/bp-s-oil-dispersant-use-veers-into-uncharted-science-update1-.html

Is the BP Clean-Up Creating A Toxic Soup in the Gulf?
http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/05/toxic-soup-gulf

What are we dumping into the Gulf to ‘fix’ the oil spill?
http://www.grist.org/article/2010-05-03-how-risky-is-the-dispersant-strategy-for-addressing-the-gulf-spi/

Find out more by doing your own search, I used2-butoxyethanol gulf oil spillto find these articles.