Dodd-Frank Bill Emerges from Conference
You may have missed it, but the bank stocks surged higher yesterday on the news of agreement in Congress on a new regulatory bill. That may seem counter-intuitive -- a regulatory bill passes and the bank stocks go up, and not just "up" -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. rose 3.5 percent, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. gained 3.7 percent. Bank of America rose 2.7 percent and Citigroup Inc. rose 4.2 percent.
Regional banks also scored big gains. Suntrust Banks Inc. rose 4.6 percent and Synovus Financial Corp. gained 5.3 percent.
BoA just hired 2,000 new employees to handle all the inbound calls about their escalating pile of bad foreclosure paper. BoA's been writing red ink for many consecutive quarters lately with no end in sight, yet their stock price soared yesterday.
The answer lies in a simple fact. The Wall Street Journal reports the bankers are sighing a huge sigh of relief that the final bill wasn't more onerous than it was. One said, "It could have been much worse."
These are the same two jackals who assured there was "very little danger" of a sub-prime mortgage bubble being created, then within months of those declarations the bubble burst with debilitating impact all around the world. Financial markets seized, credit disappeared, and who was to blame?
There are no easy answers, to be sure, but don't discount the role of these two culprits -- Frank as Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services and Dodd as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
We used to refer to Ronald Reagan as the "teflon president," because he was so popular with the people no criticism ever stuck to him for very long. These two have seemingly redefined that moniker.
In a memorable cable news interview in the fall of 2008, Barney Frank was taken apart by Bill O'Reilly on his popular O'Reilly Factor. He publicly vilified Frank for his lack of oversight and for not protecting "the folks" from the egregious excesses of the investment bankers. Frank's empty protests under the withering attack from O'Reilly will go down in the annals of television history. And now Frank wants us to thank him for his new regulatory bill to protect us? Can he be serious?
Chris Dodd was linked to "sweetheart" loan deals from Countrywide Mortgage, now defunct, all the assets now owned by BoA. Click on the link for a detailed report dating back to 2008. How soon we all forget. These guys are nothing more than liars, cheats and thieves. And they come out unscathed as heroes for reining in banking and Wall Street? Don't make me puke all over your shoes. Dodd is not seeking re-election this year. And now we are being asked to believe they are the champions of regulatory oversight?
Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) was Dodd's "wingman" as the number two ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee and the Republican "front man" for TARP. He paid the ultimate price.
Obama Announces New Bank Tax
News just in this morning -- President Obama announced at the G20 Summit in Toronto that he has a plan to pay for all this regulatory oversight. Can you imagine what it is? Well, of course you can -- it's another new tax to be imposed upon banks. President Barack Obama, fresh from a win on a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street regulations, on Saturday urged Congress to take up his proposal for a $90 billion, 10-year tax on banks as the next step in reform. Consider the irony. Maybe it's more than irony. The government mandates compliance of the banks to do its bidding in extending risky credit, then punishes the banks for following the law. Reuters reports in this linked story: "With congressional elections looming in November, Obama hopes the financial reform and the bank tax idea will resonate with U.S. voters furious over Wall Street risk-taking that led to the financial meltdown and the worst recession in decades." He cannot be serious if that's what he thinks. Talk about detached and aloof!!! Or maybe it's nothing more than part of a grand design to deceive.
Memo to President Obama: Your popularity is dropping like a rock in freefall. The PEOPLE are about to dismantle your control in Congress come November, then toss you in 2012. Take a page from Lady Maggie Thatcher, who once famously said, "The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."
And the bankers and investors are relieved that it "could have been worse?" WOW!! Stunning!!! Trust me on this -- the banks do not, will not and never will pay taxes -- taxes get levied against people because the costs are simply passed along to the consumers. To say they are "relieved" is an admission against their own preservation. To boot lick this president is self-destructive. When will they kick back? When will they stand up to it?
The Wall Street Journal/NBC Poll just revealed yesterday the nation that entertained such high hopes for Barack Obama has now lost confidence in his capacity to lead.
Sixty-two percent of all Americans believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. For the first time, more Americans disapprove of Obama than approve. Fifty-seven percent would prefer someone else, rather than the member of Congress they now have.
Though there are signs the economy is gradually improving, Americans no longer believe it. Only one-third thinks things will get better before they get worse again. Independents are deserting Obama. One in six Democrats now disapproves of the job he is doing. Now maybe we can begin to make a new beginning.
Who's To Blame in the Sub-Prime Debacle?
So were the bankers to blame for the sub-prime mortgage meltdown? Certainly. Their predatory and aggressive lending tactics, ignoring sound credit decisions in the name of ramping up increasing amounts of mortgage origination fees to satiate a seemingly bottomless pit of appetite for the sub-prime securitization pools definitely played a role. The bankers feasted on the unsuspecting and their "creative finance" techniques with adjustable rate mortgages are now well-documented.
But at the base of it all was the federal government mandating home ownership for everyone in America. The Community Reinvestment Act was passed as a result of national pressure to address the deteriorating conditions of American cities — particularly lower-income and minority neighborhoods. The abuse of the original intent of that act is now legendary and will be cited as the principal reason the mortgage bubble was created, all championed and urged on by a willing Congress in league with aggressive White House administrations dating back to 1977, determined to make the American dream of home ownership a reality.
This is NOT a Democrat versus Republican issue -- this is a politics as usual issue. A federal government asserting it has the answers to everything under the sun, will increasingly prove it has the answer to NOTHING!!! Washington IS the problem. Our government’s massive overspending, over-taxing, and over-regulating has caused corporations and banks to hoard $2.5 trillion in cash and credit. If all that money were unleashed within the private sector, it would ignite the economy overnight.
But the problem is everyone is absolutely scared to death of Washington’s anti-business, anti-profit, anti-investment policies. And no wonder we hear today they're "relieved" it wasn't worse. Get out of our lives, get out of our checkbooks, and stop taxing us to maintain the status quo.
When the Republicans were in control they blew it and spent the public's money like drunken sailors on shore leave. When the Democrats were in charge -- well, we haven't even seen the end of what that will produce, but when the Obama administration manages to incur more debt in four months of this year than FDR did in four terms of the New Deal, you know we're on a slippery slope with no end in sight.
The sad reality is that America has managed to do all this to ourselves -- this is not the work of some foreign enemy hell-bent on our destruction.
Remember the warning signs in December of 2007? Click the link and read a New York Times story about the danger signals as they were emerging. They were everywhere, but were widely ignored. Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve wasn't interested. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd were nowhere to be seen. "All is well," they boldly proclaimed as they provided political cover for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Record profits were being recorded. Bonuses were flowing, Wall Street was rocking and rolling. The politicians were in cruise control. They saw no evil, they spoke no evil, and they heard no evil, while they were swimming in a cess pool of evil all around.
So now we come to the dubious passage of yet another regulatory bill creating yet another government agency. Democrats are proclaiming this is the most sweeping regulatory oversight bill since the Great Depression. Republicans, at least one, aren't so sure. Republican lawmakers who serve on congressional financial panels blasted the compromise bill. "This legislation is a failure on both counts," Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) said in a statement. "It will not encourage much-needed stability and confidence in our financial markets. It will not significantly reduce systemic risk in our financial sector."
The Political Divide
This is the political landscape on which America rests today. There are two opposing views, and they couldn't possibly be more polarized than they are right now. There is opposition everywhere to everything. There is agreement on nothing. Majority rules. Shall we have a limited federal government as envisioned by the founders and the framers of the Constitution, or shall we create a progressive and intrusive government that permeates and controls every moving part of the economy and our lives as a free people?
The choice is yours, America. You ARE the people, and whichever government you choose (either consciously or by default) it will be yours to own. There's no one to blame but ourselves. It's either FOR you and OF you and BY you, or its the one you inherit by default for your lack of participation. Don't cede away your rights as voters to a pervasive influence that is spreading like a cancer.
The speed with which it is growing is breathtaking.
Only 12% of registered voters showed up to vote in Utah in last week's primary election. Prepare yourselves to re-engage in November. It's not too early.
Just don't let it be too late.
The Book of Mormon is Prophetic
As I read The Book of Mormon when I was younger, I was amazed that events seemed to turn so quickly, especially in Third Nephi.
The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s second coming. The Nephite civilization had reached great heights. They were prosperous and industrious. They had built many cities with great highways connecting them. They engaged in shipping and trade. They built temples and palaces.
But, as so often happens, the people rejected the Lord. Pride became commonplace. Dishonesty and immorality were widespread. Secret combinations flourished because, as Helaman tells us, the Gadianton robbers “had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils” (Helaman 6:38). “The people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning” (3 Nephi 6:12). And “Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world,” even as today (3 Nephi 6:15).
Mormon noted that the Nephites “did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them” (3 Nephi 6:18).
There were but few righteous among them (see 3 Nephi 6:14). Nephi led the Church with great power and performed many miracles, yet “there were but few who were converted unto the Lord” (3 Nephi 7:21). The people as a whole rejected the Lord. They stoned the prophets and persecuted those who sought to follow Christ. ("The Savior’s Visit to America,” Ensign, May 1987, 4, italics mine).
If you never believed Ezra Taft Benson was a prophet then, can you doubt it now?
The rest of that story is the Savior "intervened," an interesting word choice by President Benson. The resurrected Savior appeared among them and taught them, following widespread physical upheaval and destruction throughout the land.
Secret Combinations Abound; Can Anyone Discern Them?
Within the space of a few short years, three "breakups" had happened preceding the Lord's coming: 1) The church was broken up (3 Nephi 6:14); 2) the government was broken up (3 Nephi 7:2); then finally, 3) the earth was broken up (3 Nephi 8:4-20).
Here's a sobering account: "Now all this was done, and there were no wars as yet among them; and all this iniquity had come upon the people because they did yield themselves unto the power of Satan. And the regulations of the government were destroyed, because of the secret combinations of the friends and kindreds of those who murdered the prophets. And they did cause a great contention in the land, insomuch that the more righteous part of the people had nearly all become wicked; yea, there were but few righteous men among them. And thus six years had not passed away since the more part of the people had turned from their righteousness, like the dog to his vomit, or like the sow to her wallowing in the mire." (3 Nephi 7:5-8, italics mine).
Call me an optimist. I'm not a doomsdayer. It's still possible to change course and self-correct. We got ourselves into this mess as a country and we can get out of it if we're up to it. Nobody did this to us. We did it to ourselves.
We have received ample warning and if we heed the signs it will not be too late:
And they [the secret combinations in the ancient promised land that is now America] were kept up by the power of the devil to administer these oaths unto the people, to keep them in darkness, to help such as sought power to gain power, and to murder, and to plunder, and to lie, and to commit all manner of wickedness and whoredoms.
And it was the daughter of Jared who put it into his heart to search up these things of old; and Jared put it into the heart of Akish; wherefore, Akish administered it unto his kindred and friends, leading them away by fair promises to do whatsoever thing he desired.
And it came to pass that they formed a secret acombination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God;
For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man.
And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites.
And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.
And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.
Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain — and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.
Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.
For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.
Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved. (Ether 8:16-26, italics mine).
Good Men Give Me Cause for Hope
The prophetic Book of Mormon, and the living prophets among us: Will we embrace them, or will we ignore the truth when it shouts to us from the headlines in today's news?
Events seem to move quickly these days, but are harder to accurately discern. Like watching the growth of fingernails, we don't always see it in real time but the results are obvious.
Maybe they and we, just maybe, with the help of everyone working together can begin to de-LEE-ver America from evil.
Call me optimistic.