The Roundup for April 13, 2012
Let’s wrap up on a rainy day here in LA, with thunderstorms to boot.
• The Administration has been talking about the Buffett rule because it polls well. That’s where this begins and ends.
• Didn’t have time to go into this paper on the “causes of the foreclosure crisis,” from economists at the Boston and Atlanta Fed, which seeks to take banks totally off the hook for fraud. See also Bernanke’s self-justifying speech at the same conference today, which incredibly subtitled “New perspectives on the crisis.” There isn’t one new perspective here. It’s all rationalization and buck-passing.
• Looking forward, frequent Fed critic Bill Greider is actually more optimistic. And he presents a plausible plan for how the Fed could bail out the housing market in a way that helped homeowners first.
“Banks were not doing as many foreclosures because they had been found to be doing them improperly,” said Dan Sullivan, a foreclosure-prevention specialist at Action-Housing Inc. “But once the settlement was behind them, banks opened up the floodgates and filed all these [default] notices.”
• Treasury spins hard on TARP. I laughed out loud at the slide on how TARP “helped stabilize the housing market.” Building off that, here’s me on RT yesterday talking about the failure of the Hardest Hit Fund:
• Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, in those earnings reports today, did announce that they moved billions of dollars in second liens into the “non-performing” category, even if they were current, because they were behind delinquent firsts. This is actually a very good sign, and a response to regulatory guidance. But they only reclassified a portion of those second liens.
• Telecom companies don’t want to install phone lines at your house anymore. This is tied in with the cellular revolution, but really it’s more about cost-cutting and maximizing profits.
• An anonymous donor ponied up $10 million to Karl Rove’s independent expenditure group, Crossroads, and the donor will probably never have to reveal himself or herself.
• President Obama only paid a 20.5% tax rate in 2011. Half the Obama’s earnings came from book proceeds, and they donated 22% of their income to charity (which made up more than half of their whopping $278,000 in itemized deductions). They “only” made $789,000 in 2011, so the Buffett rule wouldn’t affect them.
• Egypt’s Parliament passed a law that seems to specifically ban Omar Suleiman from running for President.
• The Great Recession and suicides in Nevada.
• Fox News wants to sue Gawker over the Fox Mole. Gawker’s clearly not worried: they posted the threatening letter, complete with a photo of Bill O’Reilly with a topless woman (this should get fun).
• The selling of Greece begins, first with the national railways. Greece will have almost no public property left by the end of this.
• More on the Pakistani Parliament’s call for an end to the US drone program, from Jim White.
• A victory: Michigan’s Department of Corrections stopped their naked body cavity searches of female prisoners.
• I don’t totally understand how a failed rocket launch by North Korea puts US engagement policy “in tatters.”
• Speaking of engagement, talks with Iran on their nuclear program begin today.
• The grassroots movement against CISPA, a cybersecurity bill, turns its attention to Facebook.
• Corey Booker is some kind of superhero.
• You can teach a baboon to recognize written words. Can Cornelius be far behind?
• Nixon Rising. It’s awesome.