This discussion explores the Stock Market's erratic behavior Thursday (yesterday). It apparently occurred because of a typing error.
Update: Though there will be an investigation, it is now believed that automatic trade programs underlie the problematic erratic behavior.
Multi-billionniare Peter Peterson co-founded The Blackstone Group. For many years, he and his colleagues have infiltrated and influenced the corporate media, even and especially NPR. Is it any wonder that other voices are not being heard? This very morning we heard more of his propaganda on what is supposed to be the people's radio network (as if...). A couple of weeks ago CNN re-aired the Peterson dis-infomerical, IOUSA, designed to con Americans into handing over the last piece of their financial security, now that their retirement nest eggs were devastated by the negligence and incompetence of some of these very same folks, along with many a Wall Street defrauder. Peterson, and the companies Americans for Prosperity fronts for, only intend for themselves to be prosperous.
Today Social Security eliminationists meet with an all-star cast, including Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, Judd Gregg and others who share the blame for the decimation of Glass Steagall and the resulting fiscal crisis. It would be hysterical if it were not so very Milton Friedman-like. Instead of laughing them out of Washington, people are still listening to them?
(The list of commission members is below the fold.)
Now, I've said that it's important that we not restrict the review or the recommendations that this commission comes up with in any way. Everything has to be on the table. And I just met briefly with the commission and said the same thing to them. Of course, this means that all of you, our friends in the media, will ask me and others once a week or once a day about what we're willing to rule out or rule in when it comes to the recommendations of the commission. That's an old Washington game and it's one that has made it all but impossible in the past for people to sit down and have an honest discussion about putting our country on a more secure fiscal footing.
So I want to deliver this message today: We're not playing that game. I'm not going to say what's in. I'm not going to say what's out. I want this commission to be free to do its work.
In theory, there are few issues on which there is more vigorous bipartisan agreement than fiscal responsibility. But in practice, this responsibility for the future is often overwhelmed by the politics of the moment. It falls prey to special interest pressures, to the pull of local concerns, and to the reality familiar to every single American -- it's a lot easier to spend a dollar than to save one. That's what, at root, led to these exploding deficits. And that is what will lead to a day of reckoning.
But I believe, with the help of these gentlemen and this commission, we can begin to meet this challenge in a serious and thoughtful way. And I believe we must, for the future of our country.
For the full transcript of President Obama's speech this morning on Wall Street reform click here. A few key quotes are after the "flip." Now, it's time for Congress to pass financial reform and make sure that we never again go through a crisis like the one we saw in late 2008.
This week former President Bill Clinton took an unusual step. He admitted he should not have listened to Robert Rubin and Larry Summers on the subject of deregulating derivatives. In an interview with Jake Tapper, Bill Clinton said:
The statement was poorly timed (way too late), though refreshing. This is especially so given the Bushies' incessant and ridiculous rants about how they (and no one else) are correct about--well, everything. The extent of their embrace of deregulation and hands-off oversight was without precedent.
"On derivatives, yeah I think they were wrong and I think I was wrong to take [their advice] because the argument on derivatives was that these things are expensive and sophisticated and only a handful of investors will buy them and they don't need any extra protection, and any extra transparency. The money they're putting up guarantees them transparency," Clinton told me.
"And the flaw in that argument," Clinton added, "was that first of all sometimes people with a lot of money make stupid decisions and make it without transparency."
It has been nearly three years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the related malfeasance of Lehman and other Wall Street firms. Hank Paulson has admitted Lehman's balance sheet was bogus. According to Robert Reich, Goldman Sacks helped Greece hide its public debt and then bet against it with credit default swaps, those risky derivatives, in the news so much in 2007-2009, to avoid risking its own capital. If you think the scenario is familiar, think AIG. By any stretch of the imagination, these overpaid and overfed hacks and flacks should have been left to suffer the consequences, stripped of their wealth and in prison. Why hasn't this happened? We have waited and waited for economic reform we can believe in, which Wall Streeters are fighting tooth and nail. We've been told that we can't have the meaningful reform we crave, that we must accept "bipartisan" compromise. The GOP slings its empty "free market" bull (bull, because they never actually mean a free market, but rather a rigged market, in practice). Then they blame an administration inheriting the effects of their party's utter lack of fiscal stewardship. Now they fight reform to fix it and assure proposed re-regulation is toothless. And of course, it's everyone's fault but their own. The faux-helpless foxes at the SEC guarded the hen house then. Even our own side has acted fairly helpless in the face of so many misdeeds. Should the administration not use the tools and methods available to it, it will deserve later scrutiny and judgment. I reserve judgment for the time being. However, as Reich observes, it turns out that we do not need "reform" to do something about it.
As the Washington Post reports, the U.S. economy added 162,000 "non-farm" jobs last month, representing "the biggest one-month jobs gain in the past three years." And in other good economic news, "[t]he Institute for Supply Management reported that manufacturing activity was up for the eighth consecutive month, with a rate of growth faster than any since July 2004." But wait, there's more:
...Factory orders, particularly in durable goods, are so positive at a 0.6% month-to-month rise that they are beginning to merit the description of "robust." And retail sales at chain stores were also up 0.6% for the week, which means they are on target to top 3% or more for the whole month compared with last year's dismal record.And let's not forget the stock market, which just had "its strongest first quarter since 1999." Great news, and we have Democrats - who passed a huge economic recovery package, as well as several other jobs measures, with essentially no Republican support - largely to thank for this (the graph above tells a powerful story). So, where's Eric Cantor and his Party of no this morning to talk down America's economy and to tell us that the economic recovery package passed a year ago "isn't working?" No comment on the above graph, which shows the economy cratering under a Republican administration and coming back strong with Democrats in charge? Apparently, the cat's got the Republicans' (forked) tongues so far today, but give 'em time, I'm sure they'll think of something bad to say soon enough.
Motor vehicle sales were up as well, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 11.8 million, a vast improvement over February...
UPDATE: Analysts weigh in.