Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Today's Links

Today's quote: "In the view of the ruling financial elites, the entire post-war system of social services and regulations introduced to stave off the threat of social revolution after the experiences of fascism in the 1930s has made Europe uncompetitive and must now be destroyed. This is the essential content of the demand for “structural reforms.” Nick Beams, WSWS

1--Stocks are "dead money". All that matters is Yellen: Gundlach

2--What Will Sink the US Auto Boom?

The auto industry is crucial to the US economy and jobs. Auto sales account for 21% of total retail sales so far this year. They’re up 4.5% year-over-year. New Vehicle sales in 2015 hit an all-time record, even as the rest of brick-and-mortar retail was weak....

But if the flow of money slows, the entire growth machine starts grinding down. Pressures are already building up – and far beyond subprime auto loans....

The New York Fed’s Household Debt and Credit Report, released today, shows that total household indebtedness rose 1.1% over the first quarter, to $12.25 trillion, just 3.3% below the peak of the last credit bubble in Q3 2008 that blew up with spectacular fanfare.

But this time the distribution is different: housing debt is lagging behind (due to the presence of institutional and foreign investors), but non-housing debt has jumped far ahead, led by student loans, which more than doubled since the Financial Crisis to $1.26 trillion, and auto loans which soared 29% to an all-time high of $1.07 trillion

3--French workers show grit: Reader Note on Strikes in France: “Pass the Popcorn”

4--Crooked to the bone:  Unsealed Documents Reveal Former White House Officials Violated Fannie/Freddie Conservatorship Rules, Apparently to Advance Bank-Enriching “Reforms”

if the Administration is forced to cough up some of the documents is it keeping from the court, the stench of corruption may be rank enough to keep the banks from creating yet another source of enrichment at public expense.

The documents demonstrate that former Obama Administration officials violated the intent and purpose of HERA [Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008]. The goal of HERA was to rectify shortcomings in the oversight of Fannie Mae while choosing a path not provided for in that statute or any other. ....Rather than retaining earnings and building capital in accordance with the goal of rehabilitation (as required in a conservatorship pursuant to HERA, and as was demanded of every other financial institution after the crisis), the Third Amendment ensured that the GSEs could never rebuild capital nor – no matter how much money they returned to the Treasury – be allowed to ever repay the government. These actions clearly violate the most basic requirement of HERA that instruct the Director of FHFAiii “to oversee the prudential operations of each regulated entity and to ensure that …

The newly-released documents also show the actions of these former senior officials were premeditated and defended with false public statements which falsely articulated there was an imminent risk the GSEs would need more financial assistance

5--Leaked Tapes Expose Coup Plot Against Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff

6--More Young Adults Are Living With Their Parents Than At Any Time Since the Great Depression

7--Household Debt Still Below 2008 Peak

8--Existing Home Sales

Going sideways..


9--International finance capital and the strikes in France ; resurgence of the class struggle

In the view of the ruling financial elites, the entire post-war system of social services and regulations introduced to stave off the threat of social revolution after the experiences of fascism in the 1930s has made Europe uncompetitive and must now be destroyed. This is the essential content of the demand for “structural reforms.”

The mobilisation of the forces of the French state by the Socialist Party government of Francois Holland against striking oil refinery and other workers is the spearhead of a long-demanded offensive against the French and European working class by the representatives of international finance capital.

Since the global financial crisis in 2008, and particularly since the crisis of the euro in 2012 and the second phase of a double-dip recession, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and other financial institutions have been demanding the implementation of what are euphemistically described as “structural reforms.” The real agenda is to boost profitability of French and European capitalism as a whole.

“Structural reform” is aimed at savagely attacking the conditions of the working class by opening the way for employers to hire and fire at will, scrapping legal protections against sackings, cutting unemployment benefits and reducing government social services spending.

As police were being brought in to attack striking oil refinery workers in Marseilles, the IMF set out its latest prescriptions for economic policy measures in France. They centred on techniques to increase labour market “flexibility” and reduce pensions and other social services. ...

Setting out the factors which had made France’s labour market “less adaptable” to developments in the global economy, the IMF cited “centralized labour agreements for over 700 branches; long and uncertain judicial procedures around dismissals; relatively easy access to unemployment and welfare benefits” as well as a “relatively high minimum wage.”
The other major demand is for a reduction in government spending which the IMF insisted was “at the heart of France’s fiscal difficulties.” It called for limiting the “wage drift at all levels of government that would help reduce the wage bill,” a reduction in pensions by lifting the retirement age, the extension of means-testing for social benefits and the rationalisation of hospital services to reduce costs...

These measures have done nothing to revive the real economy. Their only effect has been to promote speculation in financial markets, leading to ever-widening social inequality. Investment in the real economy, the driving force of economic growth, remains around 25 percent below where it was prior to 2008 and large sections of the euro-zone economy have not returned to the levels of output they reached eight years ago....

resurgence of the class struggle

10--French government seeks to crush strikes against labor law

It is not the working class but the PS that is threatening basic democratic and social rights, which it is tearing up in authoritarian fashion to conform to the dictates of the banks. Three-quarters of the French people oppose the law, which increases work hours, undermines overtime pay and job security, and allows the unions to negotiate contracts that violate the Labor Code. Due to its unpopularity, the PS imposed the law without a formal vote in the National Assembly, using the reactionary provisions of Article 49-3 of the Constitution

11--Revealed! SouthFront Is Run by ‘the Russian Military’ (yeah, right)

12--US angling to control Falluja to Raqqa corridor

The US CENTCOM commander, General Joseph Votel, visited the Kurdish areas of Syria last Saturday and met with officials of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to coordinate future operations aimed to liberate the ISIS-controlled town of Raqqa. The visit comes as the first of 250 additional U.S. special operations forces are beginning to arrive in Syria to work with local forces.

Iraqi forces supported by US-led coalition warplanes have launched a military operation in order to re-take the ISIS-controlled city of Fallujah. According to the Iraqi military’s Joint Operations Command, the Iraqi army, counter-terrorism forces, police, tribal fighters and the Popular Mobilization Forces participate in the assault. Last week there were reports that Kata’ib Hezbollah units also deployed to the area in order to support the operation. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reportedly traveled to a command center east of Fallujah to supervise the offensive.



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