The Mess That Greenspan Made - Part 414

Tuesday Morning Links

Paulson Dumps Gold, but Still a Believer – TheStreet
Italy’s Monti center stage, France “alarm bells” – Reuters
Euro debt fears grow as Italian bond yields hit 7pc again – Telegraph
World stocks, euro dive as eurozone bond tensions rise – Channel News Asia
NYPD clears Occupy Wall Street protesters out of Zuccotti Park – Daily News
Is America following Japan? Two things to remember about Japan – Economist
Deficit Super Committee Stuck in Stalemate as Deadline Nears – PBS
Not-So-Super Committee Considers Becoming A Circular Firing Squad – CGG
The Super Committee: Why Failure Is the Best Option – Fiscal Times
War savings and debt reduction: Take two – Washington Post
Supercommittee: Deal or no deal? – MarketWatch
Lending a Hand to Banks, but Not to Nations – NY Times

Oil slips below $98 ahead of inventories data – AP
Gold hit by market sell-off, Europe debt fears grow – Reuters
Where Big Investors Put Their Money In Latest Quarter – CNBC
The Supercommittee Will Fail And Markets Will Crash – InvestorPlace
“Enormous consolidation” expected in gold mining in 2012 – StockHouse
China reduces 2012 silver exports by 5%, could boost prices – Mineweb
Silver is set up for a major league hammering – Peter Brandt
Energy Independence – The Big Lie – The Burning Platform
Five Misconceptions About Peak Oil – The Oil Drum
The stock market’s big lie revealed – MarketWatch

A State-by-State Look at Long Road to Jobs Recovery – WSJ
Should economists be “imagineers” of our future? – Reuters
S.F. Fed report: Odds of ‘double-dip’ recession about 50-50 – LA Times
Manufacturing America’s New Middle Class – Bloomberg
UK inflation falls to 5 percent in October – AP
IMF says China banking system vulnerable – MarketWatch
Euro Crisis Contagion Reaching Epidemic Proportion – WSJ
The new EFSF is (nearly) dead; long live the new ESM! – FT Alphaville
Rich Neighborhoods Riddled With Foreclosures – Forbes
Fannie, Freddie execs score $100 million payday – CNN/Money
Other Ways U.S. Banks Cost Customers – HuffPost
Fed’s Fisher Sees Lower Odds of U.S. Easing – Bloomberg


Occupy Wall Street vs. the Tea Party

Spotted over at Barry’s Big Picture blog is this comparison of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Tea Party. I can’t say that there was anything really surprising in it, however, they may have taken the “hipster” stereotype a bit too far when they said “unemployed and looking to live off government aid”. At least I hope they did…

Occupy Wall Street vs. Tea Party |
Image Source: Accelerated Degree Programs

Seniors and their Social Security COLAs

Based on news reports last month, one of the few item that Republicans and Democrats on the deficit supercommittee could agree upon involved rejiggering the government’s inflation calculation to produce a lower inflation rate and, as a result, less inflation-linked spending in the future, not the least of which would be social security cost of living adjustments. But, what once looked like a slam dunk seems to be getting more complicated rather quickly as seniors are now organizing to oppose this move as reported by the Fiscal Times.

The senior lobby AARP’s latest television barrage is just part of the larger grass roots campaign that was launched recently by an array of senior citizen and public interest groups aimed at beating back any attempt by members of the Super Committee to change the cost-of-living adjustment factor for Social Security. Shifting to a less generous measure of inflation would cut  $112 billion or about 7 percent from projected beneficiary payouts over the next decade.

The proposal — popular with many policy analysts as a more accurate portrayal of consumer prices — remains one of the most attractive revenue raising measures in some politicians’ and deficit-cutters’ playbooks. Beyond cutting Social Security costs, it would reduce future claims in a wide range of government programs that benefit mostly the poor, including Head Start, school lunch programs, and home heating assistance. It would also raise $72 billion in new tax revenue by slowing upward adjustments in income tax brackets, thus throwing more taxpayers into higher brackets.

While Democrats on the committee are staying mum on the issue, the grassroots campaign by key elements of their political base has made it extremely difficult for them to embrace the proposal. Last week, thousands of demonstrators marched on the Boston office of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., demanding he reject cuts in Social Security and other social programs. “Though we don’t have armies of corporate lobbyists, we have passionate people who belong to all political parties, including independents, who don’t want to see their benefits cut,” said Joshua Rosenblum, a spokesman for Social Security Works, which helped organize the demonstrations.

This should be a pretty interesting ten days between now and the time the supercommittee’s plan is due on Capitol Hill on the day before Thanksgiving. By all accounts, their chances of producing any kind of agreement are less than 50-50 and financial markets now seem to be sniffing this out, reacting in advance of any August-style U.S. budget deficit debate.

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Obama and China, Good Cops and Bad Cops

You’d think that there’s at least a little bit of a “Good Cop, Bad Cop” dynamic going on right now when President Obama talks to the Chinese about letting their currency strengthen at a faster pace. Of course, Obama is the good cop here with just about every GOP presidential hopeful playing the alternate role and one can easily imagine Chinese President Hu Jintao being told over the weekend, “Hey, I’m about the best friend you’re ever going to have in Washington. How about a little appreciation, currency-wise?

As Hu made clear yesterday, from the perspective of the Chinese, they had no part in making any of the rules in the current global monetary system and feel little compulsion to play by them. Mindful of the Japan experience in the late-1980s when strong currency appreciation led to massive asset bubbles and two lost decades, they’re not likely to simply comply with the wishes of the West when it comes to their currency.

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