If anyone watched an interview with 60 Minutes/CBS news anchor Pelley and IMF head Christine Lagarde last week you will see a very chilling example of the complete silencing of the mainstream media regarding the cause of the financial crisis and the massive fraud and failure to prosecute. In this soft-ball interview, Pelley stands quietly as Lagarde assigns the new 'spin' on the crisis------she says ' this is a credit crisis'. this insinuates that it is irresponsible debtors not the crash and burn of the economy by financial institutions. Now, all mainstream journalism uses those same terms. Now, because the governements and Justice Departments didn't bring back trillions in fraudulent profits that have left the 1% obscenely rich, the taxpayer's money will be used for the short-term for every financial consequence of this fraud crisis. We know that this scheme was developed not only to move money to the top, but to break all social elements of democracy through these government starvation tactics. THESE POLITICIANS ARE WORKING HARD TO BREAK DOWN OUR PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS.......EUROPE ESPECIALLY AS A SOCIAL DEMOCRACY. The good news is that citizens of Europe are fighting back. France is looking to elect a Socialists...Greece jooks to be turning its current politicians out, and Spain is seeing grea social turmoil. All these political parties have been infiltrated by corporate candidates so we can only shout loudly and strongly and throw them out when they don't work for people over profits!
This constant effort to portray Warren Buffet as the 'good' billionaire is an old school social psychology ploy meant to ease people into the idea of a patronage society rather than a democracy with all citizens held to the same standards. We have him fighting to keep the rich safe from progressive taxation with the "Buffett Rule'; we have him fighting for fairness as he uses his wealth to buoy all the failing, corrupt banks after the collapse. Calling for banks to accept financial reform while hitting regulators hard on rules written that will do just that. THIS IS A DELIBERATE ATTEMPT TO GIVE THE IMPRESSION OF PATRONAGE IS 'OK'. WE SAY, 'PAY A PROGRESSIVE TAX RATE AND FIGHT FOR CORPORATIONS TO DO THE SAME' SO GOVERNMENT CAN DO ITS OWN JOB. WE SAY,' WORK FOR STRONG LABOR LAWS AND WAGES'
SO PEOPLE CAN FINANCE THEIR OWN COMMUNITY WELL-BEING.
We do not want patronage - we want corporate civic responsibility and a strong middle-class!
April 19, 2012 7:02 PM Warren Buffett's son tackles hunger in rural America
By Seth Doane Play CBS News Video (CBS News) DECATUR, Ill. - Billionaire Warren Buffett is well known for his charity work and so is his son Howard. On Thursday, Howard Buffett announced a new partnership to feed the needy with the food processing giant Archer Daniels Midland and Feeding America, a national hunger charity.
Howard Buffett owns a 3,000-acre farm in Decatur, Illinois. Atop his tractor, he can see America's "bounty." But not far from here, he sees folks with almost nothing.
"You're from one of the wealthiest families in America," Doane said to Buffett. "Do you really see [and] understand hunger?"
"No. I wouldn't understand hunger," responded Buffett, "because my kids have never been hungry. I've never put them to bed hungry. I've never been hungry. What I can understand is the humiliation, the frustration, even the embarrassment of some people who have to walk into a food bank for the first time and ask for help."
Buffett is well known for his anti-hunger efforts overseas. We met him this winter in Africa.
Now he thinks he and his fellow farmers should pay attention to the need here at home.
"I went and visited food banks," he said. "I started to see a picture that I don't think a lot of Americans see: Millions of our neighbors that don't have enough food to eat on a regular basis.
The "Invest an Acre" program that Buffett announced Thursday will allow the 80,000 farmers who use processing plants run by Archer Daniels Midland to donate the profits from at least an acre of their land.
The profits from this acre of corn might be only around $100 or $200, but $100 is enough to help provide 800 food bank meals. So multiply that acre after acre after acre -- and that could make a real difference in these communities.
The money will go to thousands of Feeding America food pantries primarily in the Midwest. Buffett's foundation will cover up to $3 million in administrative costs.
The goal is to help people including Richard Roof, an out-of-work plumber. He picked up a box from a Decatur pantry. It's one day he doesn't have to ask his grown kids for food.
"What would you do without a program like this here?" Doane asked Roof.
"It's that simple?"
"Plain and simple."
Howard Buffet said: "I don't think the level of hunger in this country is acceptable. Not for the kind of society that we are. It is absolutely not acceptable."
What is acceptable, said Buffett, is planting seeds for a solution -- one acre at a time
Amid Europe's Debt Crisis, A Sharp Rise In Suicides
by Sylvia Poggioli April 21, 2012 National Public Radio Mourners gather at the spot in front of the Greek parliament in Athens where 77-year-old retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas shot and killed himself on April 4. Christoulas left a note saying he did not want to end up scrounging for food in garbage bins. Mourners gather at the spot in front of the Greek parliament in Athens where 77-year-old retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas shot and killed himself on April 4. Christoulas left a note saying he did not want to end up scrounging for food in garbage bins. text size A A A April 21, 2012 The eurozone crisis has been under way for three years and has led to sharp welfare cutbacks and a credit crunch throughout the continent. But one of the most serious effects of the financial crisis has been an alarming spike in suicides in debt-burdened Greece, Ireland and Italy. Last Wednesday, about a 1,000 people gathered in central Rome for a candle-lit vigil to honor Italy's economic victims. Statics show that from 2009 and 2010, some 400 small-business owners took their lives. There have already been 23 crisis-related suicides since January. Many victims left notes saying they could no longer cope with frozen bank loans, late client payments and soaring taxes. The Italian state alone owes more than $90 billion to entrepreneurs. Some have been waiting to be paid for up to two years. The head of an Italian small-business association, Giuseppe Bortolussi, says the tight austerity measures imposed by the European Union have created a hostile climate for entrepreneurs. Many see suicide as an act of rebellion against a deaf and insensitive system that fails to grasp the seriousness of the situation. - Giuseppe Bortolussi, head of a small-business association in Italy "Many see suicide as an act of rebellion," he says, "against a deaf and insensitive system that fails to grasp the seriousness of the situation." For example, Francesco Todesco, 26, locked himself in his car and died from exhaust fumes. He had been forced to close his business as a shop-window designer for Harrods and Gucci, and took up tree-cutting in his native Tuscan town. But he was undone by the credit crunch. Small Businesses Collapse In 2011, an average of 31 companies shut down each day. Most of them were small and medium-sized companies that represent 95 percent of the Italian economy. Regional business associations report the trend is growing rapidly. Two young women whose fathers took their lives last fall have set up a counseling hotline to help desperate entrepreneurs and assure them they are not alone. In Ireland, which is still reeling from its real-estate market bust, the suicide rate has also risen with the crisis. Government statistics show that the majority of victims were men, average age 36. Nearly half were unemployed and suffering from financial hardships and loneliness. Greece once had one of Europe's lowest suicide rates. But as it enters its third year of recession and stringent austerity, 30 percent of the population lives under the poverty line and its suicide rate has soared. The most dramatic case was that of 77-year-old retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas, who earlier this month shot himself in front of parliament in Athens. He left a note saying he did not want to end up scrounging for food in garbage bins. His suicide unleashed days of street protests as Greek public opinion identified with this family man who had always lived by the book. Christoulas' powerful gesture soon made him a symbol of a hard-working and rule-abiding middle class that is being made to pay the highest price of the eurozone crisis
Regulators to Ease a Rule on Derivatives Dealers
Published: Wednesday, 18 Apr 2012 | 9:35 AM ET Text Size By: Ben Protess
The New York Times
As federal regulators put the finishing touches on an overhaul of the $700 trillion derivatives market, a major provision has been tempered in the face of industry pressure.
Source: Wikipedia On Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are expected to approve a rule that would exempt broad swaths of energy companies, hedge funds and banks from oversight. Firms would not face scrutiny if they annually arrange less than $8 billion worth of swaps, the derivative contracts tied to interest rates and commodities like oil and gas.
The threshold is a not-insignificant sum. By one limited set of regulatory data, 85 percent of companies would not be subject to oversight. After five years, the threshold would reset to $3 billion; it is the same amount suggested by a group of energy companies in a February 2011 letter, according to regulatory records.
When regulators first proposed the rules in late 2010, they set the exemption at $100 million. At that level, only 30 percent of the players would have been excused from the oversight, which was mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law.
It is unclear whether that data tells the full story. Other numbers produced by the S.E.C. suggest that the initial $100 million plan would have ensnared some companies that the law did not intend to affect.
The agencies that wrote the rule covering so-called swap dealers note that their policy would oversee the largest derivatives players that pose a systemic risk to the broader economy. And despite exempting many companies from oversight, the rule still would capture the vast majority of swaps contracts because it applies to several big banks like Goldman Sachs [GS 112.44 -1.16 (-1.02%) ] that arrange most of the deals. Under the rule, the agencies also must study whether the $8 billion figure is appropriate. The agencies could change the figure if it proved too high or low.
Some watchdog groups, however, fear that regulators are carving out a significant loophole that will open the door to problems. The exemption, the culmination of wrangling among the regulators and a yearlong lobbying blitz, would excuse firms from having to post additional capital and file reports.
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“That’s bad for the markets, customers and the system as a whole,” said Dennis Kelleher, president and chief executive of Better Markets, a nonprofit advocacy group.
The new rule comes as financial regulation takes center stage in Washington. President Obama called on Tuesday for more “cops on the beat” to monitor speculative commodities trading, which some experts blame for rising gas prices. In a speech in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Obama invoked the Enron scandal, in which the energy firm amassed a major derivatives trading operation and skirted the law amid lax rules.
In the new rule set to be completed on Wednesday, the controversy lies in the so-called de minimis exemption, a sort of regulatory hall pass for firms that have insignificant derivatives holdings. At $8 billion, Mr. Kelleher said it amounts to a de maximum exemption.
The initial $100 million limit met harsh criticism from most derivatives players, who argued that a single swaps trade can carry a notional value of billions of dollars. The notional amount reflects the value of the underlying assets rather than the amount of money that changes hands. So, on the face of it, even the $8 billion level would be a blip for a market that is valued at $700 trillion.
But the regulatory fine print could allow many firms to whittle down the size of their activity to under $8 billion.
Under the rule, companies can exclude the swaps they use to hedge their business against risk like, say, interest rate fluctuations. And the rule would apply only to a company’s swaps transactions, so firms would not need to count their other varieties of derivatives, like forwards and options. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission also scrapped a strict provision that would have prevented companies that are exempt from the rules from arranging more than 20 swap contracts in one year, regardless of the dollar amount.
As a result, some large banks and other players are expected to avoid regulatory scrutiny in swaps, based on data from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Both Northern Trust and BOK Financial, the parent company of Bank of Oklahoma, which are listed among the top 25 banks in the derivatives business, could be exempt. Major energy firms like Constellation Energy are also expected to get a pass.
Such companies pushed regulators to relax the rules. A coalition of energy firms, including BP, Constellation Energy [BGLEH 98.7075 --- UNCH (0) ] and Shell, sent regulators a letter that pitched a $3.5 billion threshold and even suggested specific wording changes to the rule. Another group, known as the Coalition of Physical Energy Companies, proposed a $3 billion figure, the threshold that regulators are set to adopt after five years.
The energy groups dominated the frenetic lobbying effort surrounding the rule and its exemption. Firms dispatched executives to testify before Congress, hired an army of lobbyists and lawyers to draft comment letters and held more than 100 meetings with regulators to discuss the rule, records show. The Coalition of Physical Energy Companies hired the law firm of the former New York City mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to plead its case in Washington. The other group that included Shell and BP [BP 41.99 -0.51 (-1.2%) ] had more than 10 meetings with regulators.
That coalition, led by law firm Hunton & Williams, also hired a consulting firm and a former prominent regulator, Sharon Brown-Hruska, to study the rule. Ms. Brown-Hruska, who was acting chairwoman of the C.F.T.C. under President George W. Bush, concluded that “the proposed expansive definition of ‘swap dealer’ is contrary to the public interest.” The study said the rule would reduce liquidity in markets and cause energy companies to cede their business to riskier too-big-to-fail banks.
That concern was echoed by a trade group representing midsize banks, which urged regulators in a letter “to closely examine and understand the low-risk nature of small dealers’ businesses in connection with establishing the criteria for the de minimis exemption.”
Inundated with pressure and complaints from industry groups, regulators debated the proper size of the exemption for months. The trading commission scheduled several meetings to vote on the rule, only to delay the vote each time as both agencies reviewed the final draft.
Ultimately, regulators found only imperfect numbers to support their oversight effort surrounding swaps. The data, which showed that an $8 billion figure would exclude about 85 percent of the companies, is limited to one type of derivatives contract known as a credit-default swap . But the data also encompassed a broader group than necessary, most likely including pension funds and municipalities that are not subject to the federal regulatory crackdown. The S.E.C. relied on separate information that showed the exemption would affect a significantly smaller percentage of companies.
Regulators said they tried to strike a balance using the limited data as a guide. At the least, they argued, the new rules add transparency to a market that went unpoliced during the financial crisis.
This story originally appeared in The New York Times~