Welcome to the weekly roundup of great articles, facts and figures. These are the weekly finds that made our eyes pop.
Help For Homeowners Is Only Help For Banks
Whistleblowers are now speaking out on the scam HAMP really is. Instead of helping homeowners is pushing them into foreclosure Dylan Ratigan interviewed the Whistleblowers in the below clip.
Government Plays Pretend on Mortgage Service Abusers
More stick your head in the sand and pretend nothing is happening. Naked Capitalism exposes the latest in Feds Reviewed Only 100 Foreclosure Files in Servicer Whitewash:
Not only are the authorities engaged in a coverup of servicer abuses, they aren’t even bothering to pretend that the effort is serious.
Government Fire Sale of Things Taxpayers Paid For
The Associated Press outlines how states are selling public assets due to budget shortfalls, or maybe because they love to do these rigged deals to privatize profits.
The Great Government Tag Sale is on. As states and cities struggle with billions of dollars in shortfalls, elected officials are increasingly selling public assets to cover their costs. Sometimes municipalities sell the buildings to pocket a one-time pile of cash and then lease them back so they can continue to use them.
To proponents, selling government property is an efficient way to plug budget holes. That's one reason the Obama administration has looked at unloading office towers, courthouses, warehouses and shacks. Private owners who develop the properties can inject vibrancy into municipal dead zones, the thinking goes. Buildings that were once exempt from property taxes are put back on the rolls.
But to critics, these sales are as misguided as pulling money out of your house to pay your bills. They point out that the government is letting go of a long-term, valuable asset in exchange for a one-time payment. When the asset is a building, a municipality then has to spend more money on leasing it back or renting another facility.
Number of the Week
The Wall Street Journal's Real Time Economics Blog has come up with a great idea. Each week, they focus on just one outrageous number, such as last week's record average student debt of $22,900. This week it is loans to China:
86%: Increase in foreign banks’ lending to China in 2010.
The world’s banks are betting China is the place to put their money. That could complicate Chinese officials’ efforts to cool down the country’s economy and real-estate market.
During 2010, banks that report their holdings to the Bank for International Settlements plowed an exchange-rate-adjusted $77 billion into China, increasing their exposure by 86% from the end of 2009 and bringing the country’s share of global cross-border lending — while still small at 1.1 % — to its highest level on records going back to 1977.
There is No Structural Unemployment*
The asterisk being construction and housing. Rortybomb wrote up a paper proving the claim Americans just don't have the skills needed is pure lobbyist labor arbitrage bunk. This was overviewed here as well.
The inane skills shortage cry is like a corporate lobbyist broken record. It keeps real economists and bloggers very busy showing over and over again it's all about globalization and offshore outsourcing your job.
The Banksters Get Another Win with the WTO
Public Citizen exposes new WTO measures making sure sovereign nations cannot curtail too big to fail banking conglomerates.
There are many ways that nations can check the growth of “too-big-to-fail” (TBTF) banks. One approach utilized in the past is adoption of firewalls between insurance firms, investment banks and commercial banks. This was used most famously in the United States through the Glass-Steagall Act from 1933 to 1999.
But various provisions of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) pose constraints on the type of size limitations a country may use. This is not surprising, since elimination of U.S. firewalls was a top priority for big banks in the original Uruguay Round GATS talks.
California Closes State Parks
Just classic. California closes 70 State Parks while ignoring their $10.5 billion annual budget loss to be an illegal immigrant haven. Great, I guess the Mexican drug Cartels can grow more pot, complete with illegal immigrants carrying AK-47s unimpeded.
Record Profits for Health Care Sector
Ah, picking the pockets of the sick, injured and dead as a business model. The New York Times explains once again how the health care industry are glorified Scavengers.
The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.
The UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest commercial insurers, told analysts that so far this year, insured hospital stays actually decreased in some instances. In reporting its earnings last week, Cigna, another insurer, talked about the “low level” of medical use.
Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.
Isn't it great Americans are only seen as consumers, little money generating units to analyze where to place the money vacuum on?