Category Archives: Banking & Lending Issues

Washington’s recession-fighting toolbox is nearly empty as US economy braces for possible coronavirus outbreak

A wrench may not be enough. mipan/Shutterstock.com

Bill Ferguson, Grinnell College

Investors, policymakers, businesses and the general public are increasingly concerned the coronavirus’ rapid spread will lead to a recession. While this outcome is hard for economists like me to predict, we do know one thing: The U.S. is not prepared to fight a deep recession.

Policymakers basically have two methods for reversing a downturn: monetary stimulus, primarily through reduced borrowing costs; and fiscal stimulus, when the government spends more or cuts taxes.

Unfortunately, the U.S. currently has dim prospects for success with either option. Continue reading

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Markets Plunge as Critics Say Trump’s “Keep the Stock Market Calm” Approach Has Backfired

“Trump staking his presidency on a good stock market was once just an annoying tic,” said The Nation‘s Jeet Heer. “But now there’s a situation that makes it actively harmful.”

By for Common Dreams. Published 3-5-2020

New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Public domain

The stock market plunged 970 points Thursday, or 3.58%, as fears of the economic impact of the global coronavirus outbreak—and President Donald Trump’s mishandling of the crisis—continued to roil the world’s financial markets after last week’s panic sent markets into freefall.

“It’s kind of like an earthquake—there’s the earthquake, which is last week, and then there’s the aftershocks, which is this week,” MUFG Union Bank chief financial economist Chris Rupkey told the New York Post. Continue reading

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You’ll Never Guess How Big Banks Want the Fed to Handle the Coronavirus: More Wall Street Deregulation

“Surely, the big banks aren’t craven enough to use COVID-19 as an excuse to lobby for long-sought regulatory rollbacks, right? Wrong!”

By for Common Dreams. Published 3-3-2020

The Bank Policy Institute, a lobbying group for big banks, drew criticism for a policy memo suggesting financial deregulation as a response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: Phillipp/Flickr/cc)

A lobbying group for big banks in the United States came under fire Tuesday from financial industry experts for pressuring federal officials to push through long-sought regulatory rollbacks in response to the worldwide economic concerns sparked by the global coronavirus outbreak.

On Sunday, Bank Policy Institute (BPI) chief executive Greg Baer, head of research Francisco Covas, and chief economist Bill Nelson published a post on the group’s website entitled “Actions the Fed Could Take in Response to COVID-19.” The BPI is a lobbying group whose members include Bank of America, Citigroup JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Continue reading

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‘Something Big Is Shifting’: As Georgetown Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment, Students Across US Demand Their Schools Follow Suit

The decision came after 90% of students who voted on a referendum voted in favor of divestment.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-8-2020

The Georgetown University board of directors announced Thursday it would divest from fossil fuels. (Photo: Ehpien/Flickr/cc)

Student-led anti-fossil fuel campaigns at universities across the country pointed to Georgetown University Friday as the school’s board of directors announced it would divest from fossil fuels and redouble its efforts to invest in renewable energy instead.

The university’s decision came after a sustained pressure campaign from Georgetown University Fossil Free (GUFF), a student group which submitted multiple proposals to the Georgetown Committee on Investments and Social Responsibility before the panel recommended the divestment this week. The school community also voted on a referendum regarding divestment on Thursday, with more than 90% voting in favor. Continue reading

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Global Offshore Corporate Networks Exposed in Massive Data Leak

By Dan Feldt. Published 12-3-2019 by Unicorn Riot

Hundreds of thousands of documents from inside Formations House, a posh British finance firm located in central London, have been released online tonight. Formations House created thousands of companies for ultra-wealthy business-people for offshore banking and international transactions. The transparency collective ‘Distributed Denial of Secrets‘ obtained these documents from a source dubbed “Babylon” and is publishing them online. More than 100,000 recorded phone calls between Formations House, its customers, and related figures, are included. Full archives of the phone calls are expected to be released in coming days.

This new data release is named ‘#29Leaks’ after 29 Harley Street, the original location in London of Formations House (it moved to a new address after 2016 – the records in this release were generated out of that original location); it’s a prestigious address about a thirty-minute walk from Parliament. Continue reading

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How Mike Pence’s Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Group

Officials at USAID warned that favoring Christian groups in Iraq could be unconstitutional and inflame religious tensions. When one colleague lost her job, they said she had been “Penced.”

By Yeganeh Torbati Published 11-7-2019 by ProPublica

Vice President Mike Pence presiding over the Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, during the Senate’s vote on Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos. On Tuesday night, Pence returned to the chamber again to a break another tie. This time it was to make sure it’s easier in the future for financial service companies and other Wall Street darlies to make it easier to rip-off consumers. (Photo: Senate Television)

 

Last November, a top Trump appointee at the U.S. Agency for International Development wrote a candid email to colleagues about pressure from the White House to reroute Middle East aid to religious minorities, particularly Christian groups.

“Sometimes this decision will be made for us by the White House (see… Iraq! And, increasingly, Syria),” said Hallam Ferguson, a senior official in USAID’s Middle East bureau, in an email seen by ProPublica. “We need to stay ahead of this curve everywhere lest our interventions be dictated to us.” Continue reading

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‘What Is the Fed Not Telling Us?’: Fears of Economic Instability After Central Bank Intervention Spikes

“A financial system that requires over $100B of liquidity injections every day, temporary, permanent or otherwise, has major issues.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-27-2019

Is the Fed reacting to market volatility or preparing for recession? (Public domain)

A number of financial experts and investors are sounding the alarm over the Federal Reserve’s recent infusion of cash into the market and warning that the actions by the central bank could be the precursor to economic crisis.

On October 22, the Fed pumped $99.9 billion in temporary liquidity into the market to ease stresses brought on by a tightening credit market. Two days later, on October 24, the bank upped that to $134 billion. Continue reading

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Bolstering Call to Expand Social Security, New Reporting Reveals How Corporations Are Offloading Pensions

Not only are pensions being offered less, existing pensions are being transferred to insurers, with employees suffering consequences

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-7-2019

Economists “warn that rarely, if ever, can people replicate the security of a pension,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director of the Pension Rights Center. (Photo: 401kcalculator.org)

New reporting showing companies’ scrapping of pension plans has gone into overdrive means that Social Security must be expanded, an advocacy group said Wednesday.

“Expanding Social Security is important for today’s retirees,” Social Security Works said in a tweet, “but even more important for tomorrow’s.

The shift from traditional pensions to 401(k) or similar retirement plans—a change panned as an inequality-fueling disaster—isn’t new. “But lately,” reported Axios, “those changes are happening even faster.” Continue reading

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The US Just Seized a Ship Owned by JP Morgan That Had $1.3 Billion in Cocaine on It

A container ship owned by JP Morgan has been seized after authorities discovered over $1 billion dollars worth of cocaine on the vessel.

By S.M. Gibson. Published 7-10-2019 by The Mind Unleashed

A container ship owned by JP Morgan has been seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Philadelphia weeks after authorities discovered over $1 billion dollars worth of cocaine on the vessel.

On June 17, U.S. Customs and Homeland Security led a multi-agency effort which detected inconsistencies in seven shipping containers and confiscated 39,525 pounds of cocaine. The cocaine has a street value of approximately $1.3 billion. Continue reading

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‘A Burning Indictment of Our Higher Ed System’: Commencement Speaker Pays Off $40 Million in Student Debt

Billionaire’s gift to nearly 400 graduating seniors of Morehouse College earned him praise—but also sparked criticism of the cost of education

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-19-2019

Morehouse College commencement speaker and billionaire Robert F. Smith announced Sunday he is wiping out an estimated $40 million in student debt for nearly 400 graduates. (Photo: Morehouse College/Twitter)

Commencement speaker Robert F. Smith garnered widespread praise Sunday when the billionaire investor announced he will wipe out an estimated $40 million in student debt for Morehouse College’s nearly 400 graduating seniors—but the move also sparked intense criticism of the cost of higher education in the United States.

“Two things are simultaneously true about this story: 1. This is a very cool thing to do,” tweeted Current Affairs editor Sparky Abraham. “2. That this is so cool and necessary and has such a huge impact on the students’ lives is a burning indictment of our higher ed system.” Continue reading

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