Friday, January 16, 2015

The reality of American elections is that when power changes in Congress the supporters of the newly elected congressmen or Senators expect their voices will be heard concerning legislation. The greater the support (read money) the faster the new Congress will move legislation near and dear to their supporters hearts. Currently the new Congress is looking to reform / modify / gut the Dodd-Frank act concerning the regulation of Wall Street.This comes at a particularly bad time because bank earnings are under pressure from decreased trading revenues. 

In 2008 the the world banking system almost collapsed. The banks having been trying to sell the narrative than somehow it was lower income people buying a house they couldn't afford that was the problem. The truth was that banks and brokerage houses were trading products they either didn't understand or knew were bad and just didn't care because they made so much money from them. Since 2008 the banks have demonstrated no particular ability manage risk i.e. JP Morgan and the 6 billion dollar loss with the "London Whale".  Wall Street is pushing Congress to change the Dodd Frank Legislation to enable the banks to continue to trade derivatives. Derivatives were the basis of the toxic assets that the banks foisted on investors and necessitated the bail out. 

This confluence of events of banks looking for earnings, a Congress sympathetic to Wall Street, a very compliant Federal Reserve monetary policy and a short memory about just how bad 2008 was seems to me to be a recipe for disaster. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Yesterday the governor of NJ Chris Christie gave his state of the state address. The mystery for the citizens of New Jersey of every political persuasion is why the nation media thinks our plus sized governor is presidential timber. His record in NJ is abysmal and if the national news media was not inherently lazy and irrelevant they might spend an hour and examine his record. During his tenure he has promised to rectify the public pension mess and then promptly ignored the whole thing. (He is not our first Governor to do this, it is actually something of a proud tradition). He pretended to balance the budget by plugging in a growth rate of 5 to 7%, a rate that is patently false. His vision of the future is demonstrated by the two projects he supports. (I could have gone for the cheap joke here and say the two projects he threw his weight behind but I won't). The first is a bankrupt mall called Xanadu in North Jersey and the second is Atlantic City and casino gambling. I hate to break it to the Governor but malls are dying as consumers change their behavior and on line shopping get smarter and easier. The only thing dying faster than malls is Atlantic City. Casinos are closing, revenue is down and the city is a mess. Maybe if the Governor spent some time in NJ he would know these things.

Christie seems to have made his reputation by yelling at constituents whenever they disagree with him. If the news media would do some work they would find NJ lags the national economic recovery, the governor has no economic program and his vision for the future is mired in the past. He is in the words of the bard "Full of sound and fury,signifying nothing"