Friday, April 20, 2012

(Reformed?) Crony Capitalist Outspoken About Government, Markets

(Reformed?) Crony Capitalist Outspoken About Government, Markets
Former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Dick Grasso, who as CEO famously pleaded the Fifth during a Securities and Exchange Commission trading probe, has become in his retirement years quite the outspoken critic of the crony capitalist system from which he so handsomely profited. Most recently, Grasso had plenty to say on "Lou Dobbs Tonight" about the trustworthiness of U.S. unemployment statistics and financial market disclosures.

Regarding Uncle Sam's tally of the unemployed, Grasso called the official 8.2% unemployment rate a "bogus number", noting that much of the recent hiring the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been reporting has been for low-paying jobs. Regarding the credibility of U.S. financial markets, Grasso stressed that trading is increasingly driven by so-called "dark pools", nebulous entities that are crowding out individual investors, are largely immune to SEC regulatory control, and have demonstrated the capacity of causing market crashes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Student Loan Forgiveness: The Necessary Bailout

Student Loan Forgiveness: The Necessary BailoutIf there's a government bailout program that is needed, it's student loan forgiveness. While Uncle Sam has lavished his cronies with trillions of "recovery dollars" through superfluous TARP and stimulus programs, he's been quite stingy with the educated-but-unemployed, a demographic that, not coincidentally, has no powerful lobby in Washington.

The world would have survived if Uncle Sam hadn't given his bankster and union masters their "recovery" slush funds, but the economy will implode unless the student loan crisis is resolved. The rapidly inflating student debt bubble has recently surpassed $1 trillion, and nearly one-third of student loans are currently in arrears, up from 7% in 2008.

Washington has given lip service to student loan forgiveness, but the student loan crisis will continue to pose a great threat to the economy until Uncle Sam thoroughly addresses it. As a financial pundit with libertarian leanings, it pains me to say this, but our dear uncle should employ the lessons in liquidity (.pdf) from the Subprime Mortgage Crisis and commandeer cash flows between defaulting student loan holders and their lending institutions. He should declare long-term unemployed student debt holders legally eligible for bankruptcy and subsidize all uncollectible debt. (Making bankruptcy a contingency for a bailout would force defaulting borrows to have "skin in the game", thereby reducing moral hazard.)