Smoke Billowing Out of Our Economic Mount Vesuvius
By Arianna Huffington
Economy Not that Solid
(c) Paul Tong
I was recently in
Warning signs fall into two categories:
Those that are recognized while there is still time to heed the warning, and those that are acknowledged as "warning signs" only after the fact, when it's too late to do anything but sift through the ashes and wonder why we didn't do something when we had the chance.
In the case of
But the warning tremors were dismissed as "not particularly alarming because they are frequent in
There is currently plenty of alarming smoke pouring out of our economic Vesuvius, but it too is being dismissed
Instead of "umbrella pines," we are being lulled with the sightings of green shoots. Don't worry about those economic tremors, we are told, our financial system is back on track, the worst is over, the bailout worked and we just need to sit tight and wait for the bottom to be hit (some are arguing it's already been hit), after which we'll start our slow but steady climb to recovery.
But the warning signs are all around us:
-- Unemployment has hit a level beyond the administration's worst projections, and last month reached record highs in
-- Credit card defaults have surpassed 10 percent, and in May hit a record high -- the sixth straight month that dubious achievement has been reached.
-- Foreclosure numbers continue to shatter records. There were more than 336,000 foreclosure filings in June, the fourth month in a row
with over 300,000. That meant that, as of
-- In the first six months of 2009, 675,351 individuals filed for bankruptcy. In June alone, there were 116,365 bankruptcy filings --
a 40 percent increase over
-- Since the recession began, an estimated 2.4 million workers have lost their health care benefits.
And the biggest warning sign that the natural order of things has been disturbed is how many of the very people responsible for the economic collapse not only are still in power, but are still lining their pockets with outrageous windfalls -- courtesy of the American taxpayer.
On top of this,
And AIG -- which we bailed out to the
After the earthquake that severely damaged
But wait, you might ask, isn't the government reacting to the warning signs? Isn't
And what about the new "Pecora" commission, which has been charged with investigating how the financial collapse happened and how to prevent another one -- won't it point out the warning signs? Its chairman,
Then there is the proposed
I'm going to guess that, for Talbott's group, the "best way" to protect consumers will be a way that somehow does not protect consumers.
And then we have last Monday's blistering report from
So the tremors continue to rumble beneath our feet and the plumes of smoke continue to belch overhead.
Available at Amazon.com:
Also at Amazon.com, Arianna Huffington's Books
(c) Paul Tong
Opportunity Cost of the Bank Bailout
The lopsided 'recovery.' Banks that received billions in taxpayer handouts now reporting massive profits and setting aside record amounts for executive bonuses, and the American people continuing to face 9.5 percent unemployment, 10,000 foreclosures a day and vital services being cut.
What Enron & WorldCom Can Teach Us About Goldman & AIG
Newsweek's latest cover story declares that The Great Recession is over. A Merrill Lynch report concurs, saying, 'The recession is over... We are bullish on global equities.' Goldman Sachs is placing riskier bets on the market than it did before the financial meltdown (and setting aside huge amounts of money to pay its executives). The problem is ...
(c) 2009 Arianna Huffington. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.
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