By Bill Scher
March 1, 2012 - 7:36am ET
MORNING MESSAGE: Bankers Should Worry About Subpoenas, Not Drum Circles
OurFuture.org's Richard Eskow: "JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon recently said that he felt safer in Lebanon than he did when Occupy marched past his house. If nothing else, it proves that Wall Street bankers haven't gotten any better at risk management ... [But] why are bankers at Chase and elsewhere more concerned about angry words than they are about subpoenas and fines? For one thing, the SEC has let JPMorgan Chase off the hook with a promise not to do wrong again - which it then has proceeded to do anyway."
DeMarco Versus Everyone On Helping Homeowners
FHFA's Edward DeMarco resists clamor to help struggling homeowners reduce principal. NPR: "DeMarco and other critics of principal reduction say any policy that appears to pick and chose possible beneficiaries creates what's known as a moral hazard ... But HUD's [Sean] Donovan says failing to reduce principal for qualifying homeowners creates its own moral hazard issues. Namely, every time a home goes into foreclosure, the neighboring homes decline in value. That means those neighboring homeowners end up holding the bag ... John Dilorio is CEO of 1st Alliance Lending, a company that banks hire to refinance and reduce principal on some of their loans. Private banks see the value of principal reduction, he says, so why not Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?"
Bloomberg edit board slams DeMarco: "DeMarco argues that debt forgiveness goes beyond his authority and would result in untenable losses for the mortgage giants. This is a curious position given that he is a presidential appointee and everyone from President Barack Obama to lawmakers to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has called on him to go ahead and do it. Economists and housing analysts say debt relief is essential to preventing a death spiral in which rising foreclosures and falling housing prices reinforce each other."
Goldman Sachs exec under federal investigation. Bloomberg: "A U.S. investigation of possible insider-trading by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. employees expanded to include a managing director whose name emerged at the trial of convicted hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, a person with knowledge of the probe said.
David Loeb, who works on Asia equity sales in New York and focuses on Taiwan, is a subject in the criminal investigation, said the person, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Loeb is the second Goldman Sachs employee said to be under federal scrutiny. Last month, Henry King, an analyst covering Taiwan, was identified as under investigation by the FBI, a person familiar with the case said."
Romney Breaks Flip-Flop Speed Record
Romney takes both sides of GOP anti-contraception bill on same day. NYT: "'I’m not for the bill,' Mr. Romney said, but then added, 'the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I’m not going there.' ... Mr. Romney and his aides quickly corrected his remarks, saying he strongly supports the Senate amendment, and had not properly understood the question."
Anti-contraception bill may have driven Sen. Snowe to quit, reports Daily Beast's Eleanor Clift: "...there was immediate speculation that Snowe’s decision to resign was driven in part by pressure from the GOP leadership to get her to vote with her party on Blunt. The fact that she gave only a few hours’ notice to McConnell and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, fueled the speculation that Snowe, long a thorn in her party’s side, had finally had enough. A spokesman for Snowe denied [it.]"
Sen. Maj. Leader Reid slams GOP for amendments slowing down transportation jobs bill. Roll Call: "...a frustrated Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this evening set up a vote for Thursday on a Republican amendment that would allow companies and insurance providers to opt out of mandated birth control coverage for religious reasons ... Reid said there would also likely be some votes on other unrelated amendments ... such as a proposal to greenlight the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline and an amendment to delay and alter boiler pollution regulations. ;I’ve agreed to do these unrelated amendments,' Reid said. 'They are not productive, they are not germane, they are message amendments ... but we will do those.'"
Presidential Challengers Embrace Extreme Union Busting
"Union Bashing Defines GOP Field" argues John Nichols: "Like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Maine Gov. Paul LePage, [Romney, Santorum and Gingrich] are anti-labor extremists whose opposition to free trade unions goes to extremes not seen since Southern segregationists sought to bar unions because of their fear that white workers and people of color were being organized into labor organizations that would threaten Jim Crow."
Richard D. Kahlenberg and and Moshe Z. Marvit propose strengthening labor law to make unionization a civil right, in NYT oped: "The Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, has much stronger penalties and procedures than labor laws. Under our proposal, complaints about wrongful terminations for union organizing could still go through the National Labor Relations Board, which has expertise in this field. But the board would employ the procedures currently used by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which provide that after 180 days, a plaintiff can move his or her case from the administrative agency to federal court."
Americans trust Obama over Republicans on health care. USA Today: "The survey, taken by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, shows that 58% of Americans trust Obama to make the right decisions on the 2010 health care law and on Medicare. By contrast, only 43% trust his closest Republican rivals on those issues."
International tension may drive up gas prices. NYT: " As summer approaches, demand for gasoline rises, typically pushing prices up around 20 cents a gallon. And gas prices could rise another 50 cents a gallon or more, analysts say, if the diplomatic and economic standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions escalates into military conflict or there is some other major supply disruption ... any success in tightening sanctions on Iran could squeeze global oil supplies, pushing up prices and causing serious economic repercussions at home and abroad."
Romney opposes new law ending bank subsidies for private student loans. ThinkProgress' Travis Waldron: "...Romney [decried] the 'government takeover' while saying he wished he could find 'free money' to help people with their student loans ... The 'government takeover' of student loans, as Romney surely knows, isn’t really a government takeover at all. The private loan industry still exists; loan reform only takes banks out of the federal loan process."
President to tout energy plan in NH today reports The Hill.
Continuing education programs seen as path to lowering unemployment. NYT: "Even though nearly 13 million Americans are still out of work, many employers complain that they cannot find the right people to fill myriad job openings ... Realizing this, many politicians, businesses and economic development officials are pressing schools with continuing-education programs to do their utmost to upgrade workers’ skills.
Conciliatory tone follows bipartisan meeting between President and GOP leaders. CBS: "The speaker said Mr. Obama's support for the Jobs Act, a package of House jobs bills aimed at helping small businesses, was 'very clear.' Mr. Obama's 'comments about trying to find some common ground on some of our bipartisan energy bills were also welcome signs,' Boehner added ... One clear area of disagreement between the president and Republicans remains the president's decision not to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline..."
EU rules may punish fiscally distressed Spain, making matters worse. NYT: "The Spanish case illustrates a design flaw in the euro rule book — fining a nation in financial trouble can only make matters worse. Even insisting on more austerity could drive Spain over the edge. Inaction, however, could threaten the credibility of the revised rule book when financial markets remain nervous."
Bernanke lowers expectation of additional Fed action. Bloomberg: "Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said elevated unemployment and subdued inflation mean interest rates are likely to stay low, without offering any sign that the economy needs an additional monetary boost. Bernanke, in testimony to lawmakers yesterday in Washington, described 'positive developments' in the job market while saying it’s still 'far from normal.' He said the inflationary impact of higher gasoline prices is likely to be temporary."
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