At what point does "bipartisanship" begin to erode the democratic process?
Here's my answer: When it's used to take decision-making power away from voters and place it in the hands of a governing elite - an elite which acts in secret so that its members cannot be held accountable to anyone for their actions.
When I worked in the Financial District back in the nineties, the big-shot investment types loved to talk about accountability. Almost all male, they loved macho posturing. They got big money because they took big risks, they'd say. They were the Danger Boys. They had to lay it all on the line every day.
But if there's one thing we've learned in the past couple of years, it's that Wall Street lives in a No-Accountability Culture. It's No Risk, All Reward. more »
huffingtonpost.com — Consumer advocates are reacting harshly to a compromise Consumer Financial Protection Agency being proposed by Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.). Dodd's proposal puts a variety of obstacles in front of the proposed agency, which would be called the Bureau of Financial Protection and housed in the Treasury Department. Without independence, the agency loses its ability to write or enforce strong rules.
motherjones.com — Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., has dealt the death blow to consumer protection. The chairman of the Senate banking committee plans to announce this week the creation of a Bureau of Financial Protection inside the Treasury, instead of an independent, standalone Consumer Financial Protection Agency. That U-turn from his previous support for the agency is a capitulation to Republican and Wall Street opposition.
The pheremonic scent of compromise is inducing euphoria in the nation's capitol once again. Not that there's anything wrong with compromise, if it results in policies that work. But we've just pulled ourselves back from the brink of financial meltdown, and tens of millions of households are experiencing their own economic catastrophes. This is no time to value process over outcome. The danger is that the desire to appear bipartisan may prevent us from creating a system that protects us from either collective or individual economic disaster. more »
huffingtonpost.com — China is the largest holder of official foreign currency reserves in the world, currently estimated to be worth around $2.4 trillion -- an increase of nearly $500 billion in the course of 2009 (on the back of a current account surplus of just under $300 billion, i.e., 5.8 percent of China's GDP, and a capital account surplus of around $100 billion). These reserves are accumulated through arguably the largest ever sustained intervention in a foreign exchange market -- i.e., through The People's Bank of China buying dollars and selling renminbi, and thus keeping the renminbi-dollar exchange rate more depreciated than it would be otherwise.
China is also currently the second largest holder of US Treasury Securities -- at the end of December 2009, it held $755.4 billion -- just behind Japan (which had $768.8 billion).
The US Treasury data almost certainly understate Chinese holdings of our government debt because they do not reveal the ultimate country of ownership when instruments are held through an intermediary in another jurisdiction.
alternet.org — The bottom line is that the banks acted recklessly in their lending, in their gambling, in their management of risk. They made bad judgments about credit worthiness. In a sense, they failed their core societal function of allocating capital and managing risk. They misallocated capital and they mismanaged the risk. On the other side, though, they were allowed to get away with it.
Steven Pearlstein of the Washington Post waxed lyrical today about the compromise deal on financial regulations proposed Sens. Dodd and Corker, calling it a "creative bipartisan proposal." It's certainly "bipartisan," and it may even be "creative." What it isn't is effective. It's not just a compromise - unfortunately, it's also compromised. more »
calculatedriskblog.com — Nearly one in four homes with mortgages are under water as of 4th quarter of 2009. In Nevada, a staggering 70% of all mortgaged properties are under water. No wonder Harry Reid is in trouble. They've got to blame someone.