Well done, Japanese!
Well done, Japanese!
…But British Airways, after posting last month a record annual loss of $656 million, has asked thousands of it’s staff to take unpaid leave for one to four weeks, but with the option of working during this period.
(Something tells me that if you care about your job, you’re going to work during your “leave.”)
The unpaid leave is not ordered but I still think it’s going to piss off a lot of people; a union rep already said that the policy is blatantly out of touch with the financial situation of the average individual.
Talk about walking a tightrope…
The Obama administration, which is in the process of completing stress tests on the country’s 19 largest banks, has chosen to reveal the results of the test to the public.
While all of the banks are expected to pass the tests, some are expected to be graded more highly than others. Officials have deliberately left murky just how much they intend to reveal – or to encourage the banks to reveal – about how well they would weather difficult economic conditions over the next two years.
As a result, indicating which banks are most vulnerable still runs some risk of doing what officials hope to avoid.
So, don’t cause a run on the shitty banks but don’t over-sell the (relatively) healthy banks.
Yeah, good luck with that.
In related news, did you know Goldman Sachs paid back 5 of the 10 million in TARP funds that they received? Granted 10 million in TARP funds is a barely a drop in the bucket but the gesture is nice nonetheless.
CNN reported on Friday that Governor Palin will officially reject about half of the federal stimulus money allocated for her state and some believe she’s simply playing politics ahead of her 2010 reelection bid. Palin said she believes the funds will only put her state in a “deeper hole.”
In a statement released Friday, Palin said she is open to accepting more of the federal funds, especially the $170 million she is currently rejecting that is allotted to education.
Looks like that hole is sometimes okay.
The article states that other, generally conservative governors, including South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour have all vowed to reject some or all of the stimulus funds headed toward their states.
Texas, with a January unemployment rate of 6.4%, is entitled to $555 million of federal funds. Eligibility for the funds, however, is dependent upon the state expanding unemployment benefits and Gov. Perry does not want to accept the stimulus money because his state would have to raise taxes to cover the expanded benefits once the stimulus funds ran out.
A valid concern but it doesn’t address the goal of the stimulus money or other ways to help the 6.4% of people in his state that are unemployed.
It’ll be interesting to see how this is received by the voting public.
Completely Unrelated: Everyone read The Onion‘s Point/Counterpoint: “Gov. Palin Has No Foreign Policy Experience, Refuses To Acknowledge Global Warming, And Supports The War In Iraq” – versus – “Please Keep Your Voice Down, My Poor Retarded Child Is Sleeping,” right? Well, you should.
A letter to the editor last week suggested that Obama is now experiencing his “Katrina Moment.” Frank Rich seems to dismiss this but admits that Obama needs to follow-through on his promise of transparency:
To get ahead of the anger, Obama must do what he has repeatedly promised but not always done: make everything about his economic policies transparent and hold every player accountable. His administration must start actually answering the questions that officials like Geithner and Summers routinely duck.
Inquiring Americans have the right to know why it took six months for us to learn (some of) what A.I.G. did with our money. We need to understand why some of that money was used to bail out foreign banks. And why Goldman, which declared that its potential losses with A.I.G. were “immaterial,” nonetheless got the largest-known A.I.G. handout of taxpayers’ cash ($12.9 billion) while also receiving a TARP bailout. We need to be told why retention bonuses went to some 50 bankers who not only were in the toxic A.I.G. unit but who left despite the “retention” jackpots. We must be told why taxpayers have so little control of the bailed-out financial institutions that we now own some or most of. And where are the M.R.I.’s from those “stress tests” the Treasury Department is giving those banks?
Another compelling question connects all of the above: why has there been so little transparency and so much evasiveness so far? The answer, I fear, is that too many of the administration’s officials are too marinated in the insiders’ culture to police it, reform it or own up to their own past complicity with it.
The “dirty little secret,” Obama told Leno on Thursday, is that “most of the stuff that got us into trouble was perfectly legal.” An even dirtier secret is that a prime mover in keeping that stuff legal was Summers, who helped torpedo the regulation of derivatives while in the Clinton administration. His mentor Robert Rubin, no less, wrote in his 2003 memoir that Summers underestimated how the risk of derivatives might multiply “under extraordinary circumstances.”
CNN’s Campbell Brown also weighed-in on the yet-to-materialize transparency. She cited the testimony of Earl Devaney, Obama’s hand-picked chair of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency (yes, RAT) board. Devaney said that Recovery.gov is currently getting 4,000 hits a second but that they don’t even have control of the website yet. Devaney:
The board is still trying to acquire staff, get our equipment … phones, computers … trying to acquire space, which we haven’t managed to get yet and just trying to get our heads above water and make sure the board fulfills its responsibilities under the Recovery Act. Our first official board meeting will actually be held next week.
Tell me you oversee a budget of $787 billion dollars but that you don’t have a computer or an office yet to oversee that $787 billion dollars and I’ll say, “You must work for the Federal government.”
Devaney also warned against unreasonable expectations:
I’m concerned that there may be a naïve impression that given the amount of transparency and accountability called for in this act, little or no fraud or waste will occur. I’m afraid that my 38 years of federal enforcement experience informs me that some level of waste or fraud is, regrettably, inevitable.
Campbell Brown notes:
Devaney told The Wall Street Journal that on average, fraud in business adds up to about 7 percent. Apply that to the $787 billion Recovery Act and that’s a jaw-dropping $55 billion in waste and fraud — $55 billion! Kind of makes those AIG bonuses pale in comparison.
I think I need a hope infusion.
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Most charming nugget of fluffiness: Obama has started reading 10 letters (out of the thousands sent to the White House every day) before he goes to bed just so he can get an opinion other than that of his staff and break out of the ‘bubble’ that is the White House.