Some financial crisis links (10.4.2008)

Congressional Democrats carried the Plan to victory in the House vote yesterday. Thanks, Nancy! The Roll Call can be found here.

Alexander Cockburn commented on the Democratic Party and especially Obama's commitment to passing the Plan:

The brief mutiny is over. The Democrats, who control Congress, have pushed through the outrageous Paulson swindle, giving an initial $700 billion or so to Wall Street. The Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, lobbied hard for the bankers' bailout, according to reps and senators receiving his phone calls. Obama voted for the package of course, and so did the vice presidential Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.

Cockburn continues:

Normally, in these elections, one tries to peer forward into the future, to alert people to impending villainies, still dim in contour. Rare is it to have corrupt servility to the Money Power so brazenly displayed by the Democratic ticket merely a month before the ballot. We have just witnessed a class struggle where, for once, we had a huge popular coalition stretching all the way across the political spectrum. The coalition was there; the anger was there; the timing was perfect.

…Obama's designated role in these fraught times is to de-fuse, not inspire; to urge the angered crowd to remain calm, and disperse quietly, not to march upon the citadel, pitchforks upraised.

Peter Morici addresses a few crucial problems in the real economy. The very bad news:

Today, the Labor Department reported the economy lost 159,000 payroll jobs in September, after losing 73,000 jobs in August.

This was much worse than was expected, as the full weight of the banking crisis, the cost of imported oil and job losses to China bore down on manufacturing and the broader economy with unrelenting pressure. The United States has lost jobs every month since December, even as GDP and productivity have grown.

So, American's should elect Obama and follow him to the land of milk and honey? Well, no:

Obama's tax and redistribute policies will not resurrect jobs, wages or the price of stocks in American retirement accounts. Ordinary Americans who have to earn their livings outside the cosseted confines of Wall Street will be not much better off two years from now. In fact, Obama's policies may make economic conditions worse. However, middle class distress gives populist promises…strong appeal. If Obama wants to make Americans better off, he would serve them better by straightening out the banks and taking substantive action on the trade deficit with China. Also, he would be less politically correct on energy and the environment. His platform is full of platitudes and generalizations but not enough substance.

One might conclude that Obama has been possessed by the ghost of Jimmy Carter if it were not for the fact that Carter still walks the earth.

CNNMoney reports:

Democrats who switched to "yes" votes include Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md.

Cummings noted before the vote that this was the most difficult vote for him in his 12 years in Congress. "But today we must step up and lead," he said.

Earlier this week, Cummings and Edwards were part of a group that had been working on an alternate proposal. The lawmakers had lobbied strongly but unsuccessfully to include, among other things, a change to the bankruptcy law that would let judges modify mortgages on primary residences, a move the lending industry has strongly opposed.

Cummings and Edwards said they had received calls from Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, encouraging them to change their minds. They said they received assurances that he was committed to the bankruptcy provision [emphasis added].

Thanks, Barak…

California, the homeland of modern conservatism, has been reduced to reaching for straws. Oddly enough, Friday's House vote gives them a bit of hope, according to Lifsher and Halper of the Los Angeles Times. What if no one wants to help Der Arnold?

John William of the Financial Times makes a prediction:

The first world war was not "the war to end all wars", and the dotcom bust only temporarily blighted the attractions of technology investments. But it will take many years for finance and its high priests to return to their position of unchallenged power — which will be no bad thing.

We can only hope for this bit of good fortune.

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