Saturday, February 4, 2017

Today's links



"Trump’s assault on bank regulations is of a piece with his moves to gut all legal and regulatory restrictions on corporate profit-making.....
The White House economic program—including sharp tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, an infrastructure program that amounts to a tax windfall for private investors, a hiring freeze for federal workers, and historic cuts in social programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security—is the fulfillment of the wish list of America’s financial oligarchy."  WSWS





1--Republican attack on Fed casts doubt over global bank rules      

Trump-era co-operation uncertain as congressman criticises deals with ‘foreign lands’


“We don’t know the position of the Americans any more,” Mr Hamers said. “That does mean further uncertainty and uncertainty is never good, it holds back investment and restricts economic growth.”
Mr Hamers was speaking after the emergence of a letter to Janet Yellen, the Fed chair, from Patrick McHenry, one of the top five Republicans in the House of Representatives.

The letter, dated January 31, warned that the US’s “continued participation” in international forums such as Basel, the Financial Stability Board and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors would depend on meeting the Trump administration’s objectives.


2--WHOA! House Republicans pick fight with Fed Let one reptile devour the other!


3--Trump declares "open season" for ripping off the elderly again

Make America Crash Again

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday ordered reviews of major banking rules that were put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, drawing fire from Democrats who said his order lacked substance and squarely aligned him with Wall Street bankers.Though the order was short on specifics, financial markets embraced Trump's signal that looser banking regulation is coming and pushed bank stocks higher. The Dow Jones U.S. Banks stocks index closed up 2.6 percent.

That will involve a lot more than issuing an order, said former Democratic congressman Barney Frank, co-author of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law that raised capital requirements for banks, restricted their trading by means of the "Volcker Rule," and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to guard against predatory lending.

Trump "can’t make any substantial change in the financial reform bill without Congress,” Frank told Reuters. "The language in the order doesn’t do anything. It tells the secretary of the Treasury to give them something to read. The tone of it is to weaken the bill.”

Trump and other critics of the Dodd-Frank law say its regulations have hindered lending. At the meeting with CEO's on Friday Trump said, "I have so many people, friends of mine, that have nice businesses that can’t borrow money...because the banks just won’t let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank."...

Despite such criticisms, recent data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis showed U.S. commercial-bank lending at a 70-year high, climbing steadily since late-2010.
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren who lobbied for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accused Trump of forsaking middle and lower-income individuals to help banks.
"The Wall Street bankers and lobbyists whose greed and recklessness nearly destroyed this country may be toasting each other with champagne, but the American people have not forgotten the 2008 financial crisis - and they will not forget what happened today,” she said in a statement.

Trump's adviser leading the deregulation effort, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, was previously a top official at Goldman Sachs . Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, meanwhile, is counseling Trump on regulation across the government.
One order signed by Trump requires the U.S. Treasury Secretary to submit possible regulatory changes and legislation modifying Dodd-Frank in 120 days, according to a White House official...

Meanwhile, a memo tells the Labor Department to review a "fiduciary rule" for brokers offering retirement advice that was finalized in 2016. While early reports said Trump wanted to push off the rule's implementation, originally slated for April, by 180 days, the order did not mention any delay. The Labor Department late on Friday said it was considering legal options for delaying....

Trump could also make changes simply by appointing new personnel or not enforcing rules.
"A lot of the regulations of Dodd-Frank required a bit of a cop-on-the-beat if you will, to ensure enforcement and if you have a different cop-on-the-beat, they enforce different rules, or they enforce the rules differently," said FBR & CO financial policy analyst Edward Mills.
Many regulators, though, were appointed by Trump's predecessor, President Barack Obama, and intend to complete their terms. Trump cannot fire heads of independent agencies, including the three top bank regulators: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Chairman Martin Gruenberg.

In addition, the term for Richard Cordray, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director, stretches into next year. Republican lawmakers are pushing Trump to fire Cordray, but a federal court's decision allowing him to has been stayed pending appeal.
Meanwhile, some U.S. financial policy leaders want to keep the law. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said on Friday Dodd-Frank "has largely been helpful" and led to a banking system with "more and better capital


4--Kucinich speech


5--Trump issues orders to roll back bank regulations


"This amnesty for corporate bribery and criminality reveals the essence of the Trump administration’s scorched earth campaign against business regulations."

President Donald Trump signed executive directives on Friday initiating a sweeping rollback of regulations on banks and financial brokers enacted under the Obama administration following the Wall Street crash of 2008.

Trump’s actions target in particular the 2010 Dodd-Frank bank regulations and a Labor Department rule set to take effect in April requiring financial advisers to put the interests of retired clients before their own monetary rewards.


The billionaire president seemed to flaunt his promotion of Wall Street’s interests, signing the two measures after meeting in the White House with his business council. The council is chaired by Stephen A. Schwarzman, the multi-billionaire chief executive of the private equity giant Blackstone Group.


Among the dozen or so corporate executives in attendance were Jamie Dimon, another billionaire, who heads JPMorgan Chase, the largest US bank, and Laurence D. Fink, the mega-millionaire chief of the investment firm BlackRock.


“We expect to be cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank because frankly, I have so many people, friends of mine that had nice businesses, they can’t borrow money,” Trump said during his meeting with the corporate bosses. He praised Dimon, who has bitterly campaigned against the Dodd-Frank law. JP Morgan Chase was fined billions of dollars in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis for multiple violations of bank regulations and laws, including fraudulent sub-prime mortgage deals that contributed to the collapse of the US housing market in 2007. A frequent visitor to the Obama White House, Dimon was for a time known as “Obama’s favorite banker.”

“There’s nobody better to tell me about Dodd-Frank than Jamie,” Trump declared.  ...


Trump’s assault on bank regulations is of a piece with his moves to gut all legal and regulatory restrictions on corporate profit-making.....

The White House economic program—including sharp tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, an infrastructure program that amounts to a tax windfall for private investors, a hiring freeze for federal workers, and historic cuts in social programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security—is the fulfillment of the wish list of America’s financial oligarchy." ...


Trump and his aides have denounced the 2010 Dodd-Frank law as a “disaster” and an “overreach” of government authority, and they have questioned its constitutionality. In fact, it is a largely token measure passed mainly to provide political cover for Obama’s multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and the financial elite....


the financial oligarchy, whose grip on the country increased under Obama, will brook not even minor limitations on its “right” to plunder the American and world economy. The Obama years paved the way for the emergence, in the Trump administration, of a government that embodies the oligarchy not only in its policies, but also in its personnel, beginning with the billionaire real estate speculator and reality TV star at its head...


On Friday, Cohn told Bloomberg Television, “We’re going to attack all aspects of Dodd-Frank.” He absurdly accused the law of “shackling” US banks.

The White House could do “quite a bit” on its own, he said, while making clear that the administration would work with the Republican-dominated Congress to finish the job of ripping up bank regulations. House Republicans are preparing to put forward a bill to replace Dodd-Frank in the coming weeks.


Cohn singled out two provisions of the Dodd-Frank law for particular attack. The first is the so-called Volcker Rule, which restricts the ability of federally insured banks to make financial bets on their own behalf, in what is known as “proprietary trading.” Such gambling, including with depositors’ money, played a major role in the collapse of the banking system in 2008. Wall Street banks, led by Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan, have pushed relentlessly for the elimination of this provision.


The second provision is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a largely toothless body under the aegis of the Federal Reserve Board that is tasked with shielding the public from the depredations of the banks, credit card companies and other financial firms. Cohn indicated that the White House might demand the resignation of its director, Richard Cordray, as the first step in the bureau’s evisceration or outright elimination. “Personnel is policy,” he said....


This amnesty for corporate bribery and criminality reveals the essence of the Trump administration’s scorched earth campaign against business regulations.

The Democrats will do nothing to oppose these policies. Their opposition to Trump is focused on differences over US imperialist foreign policy, not opposition to his assault on the democratic and social rights of working people


6--US defence secretary threatens North Korea with “overwhelming” force


7--Democrats back Trump administration’s new sanctions against Iran


8--EU summit marks escalation of conflict between Europe and US.


Trump's erratic behavior foreshadows the breakup of the Atlantic alliance and the US descent into a thirdworld pariah nation


On Thursday, other leading members of the European Parliament opposed the expected appointment of Ted Malloch as the new American ambassador to the EU. Malloch openly questions the existence of the EU and has indicated that his aim is its destruction. In an interview conducted in January, he told the BBC why he wanted to become the US ambassador in Brussels. “I took a diplomatic post that helped to destroy the Soviet Union,” he said. “Perhaps there is another union that needs taming.”....

“It is unacceptable that the president of the United States should make a series of statements pressuring Europe on what it should or should not be,” said French President François Hollande upon his arrival in Valletta, the capital of Malta.

German Chancellor Angel Merkel called for a strengthening of Europe’s international role in response to Donald Trump’s policies. She said that in view of the new US president, the more clearly Europe defines its role in the world, “the better we can maintain our transatlantic relationships.” She repeated her statement from the middle of January that Europe has “its fate in its own hands.”

This did not go far enough for Martin Schulz of the Social Democratic Party, who is a candidate for German chancellor and the former president of the European Parliament. In an interview with Der Spiegel, he demanded that Merkel adopt a tougher attitude toward Washington.

The chancellor must not “keep quiet about behaviour we cannot accept,” he said. “If Trump sends his wrecking ball through our set of values, one must say clearly: that is not our policy.” Schulz declared the new US president to be “extremely dangerous to democracy.” He accused Trump of playing with “the security of the Western world” and beginning “a culture war.”


9--Why is the New York Times promoting the “black bloc”?


The intervention by these hooded vandals managed to turn a mass protest into a police provocation.
These actions were precisely what Yiannopoulos and his supporters desired, allowing them to drape their virulent anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant racism in the mantle of “free speech.” Trump responded with a threat to cut off federal funding to UC Berkeley, and the turmoil was seized upon by various politicians as a pretext for promoting laws to suppress genuine protests and strikes.

There has been a long experience with the violence of the so-called “black bloc,” anarchist and ANTIFA protesters, not only in the United States, but in Europe and around the world. The politics of these movements are thoroughly reactionary, based upon a visceral hostility to any struggle to mobilize the working class and youth in an independent political struggle against the capitalist system and for socialism. They attract demoralized and disoriented elements from the middle class, along with a sizable number of police provocateurs who hide behind hoods and masks and egg on the violence to provide an excuse for repression.

For obvious reasons, as at Wednesday night’s protest in Berkeley, these forces are often given a free hand to carry out provocations that are then exploited by the police. The challenge confronting those seeking to carry out genuine political actions in opposition to the government and the capitalist system it defends is to identify these provocateurs before they can do their dirty work and throw them out.

The Times, however, seems determined to see them get in. The article includes the following: “The question now is whether anarchists' efforts against Mr. Trump—whether merely colorful and spirited, or lawless and potentially lethal—will earn their fringe movement a bigger presence in the battle of ideas in years to come.”

No, the real question is, why is the Times promoting this “fringe movement” as some kind of serious contender in the “battle of ideas”?

The article, like much of that which appears in the news pages of the New York Times, stinks of a filthy political provocation

The Times’ aim in promoting such retrograde tendencies as the “black bloc” and self-styled anarchists is to help divert the growing popular radicalization in response to the most right-wing government in US history into safe political channels.

Whatever the cost in broken windows, damaged ATMs and looted Starbucks’ coffee shops, these forces are fully subordinated to the Democratic Party and the capitalist system, while serving as a useful tool for the police in repressing mass unrest.

This explains how a newspaper that endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, has supported every imperialist war waged by Washington and has waged a neo-McCarthyite campaign in support of confrontation with Russia has become an enthusiastic patron of anarchism.

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